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A Good Water Polo Player …

Water polo is a phenomenal sport.  I played it for 10 years, and have been an active age group and high school referee for 15 of the last 20 years.  I have seen a lot of water polo.  After many discussions with parents, coaches and other referees about what makes a good water polo, I thought it worthwhile to put my thoughts out here.

Continued…

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Did I Smell of Blood?

Jason Alba runs a free/premium website for job seekers (JibberJobber) which I used sporadically during the 14 months I did not have full time employment.

I just read a post he wrote on his blog, the thrust of which is that when a job seeker is desperate, that desperation is apparent, and hurts the search.

My experience bears that out. I lost my job in July 2009, and spent the next 9 months trying to build my freelance business exclusively. I had limited success, earning enough to pay the mortgage most months, so our savings were only lightly drained. In March 2010 I decided to pursue full-time employment as well, and started a search in earnest. It was also a struggle. Clearly the job market was picking up, and I saw a lot of activity, but not much was meaningful and nothing was sticking.

Then, in August 2010 the business started a nice upward track. I added additional services (bookkeeping) and took on a couple of additional clients. Then and only then, did the job search also get some traction. I ended up accepting a great business technology consulting position.

I realize that temporal connection does not imply causal connection.  In retrospect however, it seems likely that the improvement in my outlook had a positive impact on how I was received by HR folks and hiring managers.  Part of me wonders if things would have turned sooner for me if I had been more outrageously positive.

So I would second Mr. Alba’s advice .. when things seem down, do everything possible to keep a HIGHLY positive outlook, and to communicate and emote that positive outlook in every way.

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Why I Oppose the War on Drugs

I support the legalization of most recreational drugs, and I strongly oppose the “War on Drugs”.

From my political view summary post:

I am a pragmatist, and the War on Drugs has been a failure.  Recreational drugs should be legalized, regulated and taxed, similar to alcohol.  This will de-fund the gangs and organized crime in America and the cartels in Latin America. Certainly, recreational drug usage will increase, but the overall impact will be positive.

One of the reasons I consider the War on Drugs a failure is what it has done to our police forces. In the linked article, which I recommend highly, Megan McArdle links to a police video shot in February 2010, when the police executed a late night warrant on a FAMILY (husband, wife, 2 kids under 10) that resulted in the shooting of the two family dogs in front of the kids.

In order to combat drugs and drug traffickers, our police have morphed into paramilitary urban combat units. They have also become far more likely to shoot first and asks questions later. Both of these make sense when the police are tasked to go after drug gangs that are themselves heavily armed. There is also a cycle of drug asset forfeitures providing funds for police weapons and training, which results in more SWAT units and the need for more money to arm and train them.

I am not saying that drugs aren’t a societal problem.  Of course drugs are a problem; there is a terrible human cost to addiction and even to recreational use. I pray frequently that my daughter not get involved with drugs. But that doesn’t mean it that drugs should be illegal. What should be illegal, and harshly punished, are the negative activities that affect others, such as driving under the influence and providing drugs to minors.

The thing is, prohibitions don’t work in a free society. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s was a driving factor in the growth of organized crime in America. And the prohibition of recreational drugs has directly led to the growth of the Latin American drug cartels. If people want something, it is far better to control it, regulate it, tax it, and mitigate its harm than it is to prohibit it and fight it.

Those who urge and support the war on drugs seem to think that there is no cost to fighting it. They are wrong.

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Fall 2010 Election – Offices

My default vote is Republican, although I am usually more conservative than the typical Republican, particularly the typical California Republican. I find myself “holding my nose and pulling the lever” pretty frequently, and this election is no exception.

Note: My votes for the ballot initiatives can be found here.

US Senator – Carly Fiorina (R)

Barbara Boxer is an embarrassment, and needs to be sent home. As a tech guy, I didn’t like Ms. Fiorina when she ran H-P, but looking backward she saved the company.

I find myself getting angry at the Boxer ads about Fiorina having sent jobs to China when much of the drive to outsource results from Democratic policies that are hostile to corporations and employers.

US Representative – Mattie Fein (CA-36) and Star Parker (CA-37)

I live in CA-36 and am currently represented by Democrat Jane Harman.  I hope to be represented by Republican Mattie Fein.  Frankly, I don’t know much about Ms. Fein, but she isn’t Jane Harman.

I wish I fell into CA-37, because Star Parker is a candidate I am excited about. She is an exceptionally rare individual; a black woman who is more conservative than I am!

California Governor- Meg Whitman (R)

Meg Whitman is not Jerry Brown, which is enough by itself.  Some say she will just be another Arnold.  That would be a shame, but even the Arnold we got was an improvement over Grey Davis, and Meg Whitman is certain to be better than Jerry Brown.

As an aside, the Libertarian candidate is Dale Ogden, a fellow San Pedran, an acquaintance of mine,  and a fellow member and former Exalted Ruler of the Elks lodge in San Pedro. My heart wants to vote for Dale, but my head says Jerry Brown needs to be retired from elected office.

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Fall 2010 Election – Initiatives

I do not like the initiative process, particularly for “initiative statutes”. It is a horrible way to govern, and is symptomatic of the deep structural governance problems we have in California. Those with passion for a particular issue should funnel their funds, passion and drive into the standard process, and work to make the legislature compliant rather than going around them and leaving the real problem in place.

My default vote on ANY initiative statute is NO, and the hurdle to get me to vote YES is pretty high. I am more willing to approve an initiative that amends the constitution in a way with which I agree.

Note: my votes for the offices can be found here.

Prop 19 – NO – Legalize Marijuana in CA

I support the legalization of recreational drugs, but we don’t need this right now. There will be orders of magnitude more trouble with this than with the medical marijuana experiment. I also think this is one of those things that should be left with the legislature.

Prop 20 – YES – Redistricting Reform

OTOH, this is EXACTLY the kind of thing appropriate for an amendment to the constitution. It simply can’t be done legislatively, for obvious reasons. And it is pretty clear that the legislature should not be setting up their own districts.

Prop 21 – NO – $18 Car Tax Increase .. free State Park Admission
Prop 22 – NO – Prevent State from taking funds once they are designated local

Micro-management of the budget should absolutely NOT be done through initiatives. Fire the legislators who do the budget badly.

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Much Ado about JournoList

By now, anyone paying any attention to politics has heard of JournoList. Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein ran it for like-minded liberal wonks to discuss liberal things. It was a chat room via email; the members agreed to keep it confidential (and off-the-record) for obvious reasons. The list imploded when someone leaked some particularly nasty posts about conservatives from WaPost columnist Dave Weigel, who was supposed to be covering those same conservatives. The kerfuffle ended up costing Weigel his job.

Some on the left consider JournoList conspiratorial in nature. Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller site is making all kinds of hay (and raising the its profile) by publishing excerpts and leaked threads, and using them as evidence of coordination and intent. From what I have seen, there is a bunch of nastinesscheerleading and angst (depending on the issue), and a few members used the list to urge the other members to be advocates. But there has been no smoking gun .. no situation or story line where the members agree to all publish X or smear Y, and then X is published or Y is smeared.

Sure, there is all kinds of liberal ranting and raving.  Certainly, some individuals (Spencer Ackerman springs to mind) did not distinguish themselves with wisdom, discretion, or respect for the truth. Some of the JournoListers are not good people. This isn’t new news, and we are wasting our time and energy worrying about it. That there are liberal journalists everywhere is not new news. That they rant and rave about savior Obama and evil and nasty conservatives is not new news. That Obama gets a pass for things that would have gotten Bush skewered is not new news.  That liberal journalists parrot the DNC talking points is not new news.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the squirming as the biases that we knew about and they refuted are revealed.  And it doesn’t mean that we can’t use the list to separate the true advocates from the writers who happen to be liberal. But the JournoList revelations don’t change anything, and don’t reveal anything we don’t already know.

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Internet Kill Switch Silliness

This is an outrageously bad idea!

The “kill switch”, at least today, is technically impossible. The internet was intentionally and effectively designed to make sure that there is no single place or device that can stop traffic. In order to enable central control, traffic routing devices at ISPs will need to have a back door enabled. Talk about opening Pandora’s box!

What the politicians mean by “kill switch” is executive power to order ISPs to block particular traffic. In theory, this is not a bad idea. The problem is in the execution. It is one thing for the President to have this power. Some argue he already does. But in reality, if the bill under discussion passes, the President will delegate this power to some bureaucrat in the Department of Homeland Security. And this is where it gets worrisome, for three reasons.

The first worry is that bureaucrats have incentive to act on any perceived issue,  particularly when the action is easy for the bureaucrat. We see it time and time again. Do we really want the Feds crying wolf every time some script kiddie tries to hack a bank?

The second is that this will quickly become a standard Federal cluster f**k.

The third is that this power, like every other Federal power, will beg to be used politically, to control access, punish opponents, or keep us in the dark. Am I the only person that can see a  “national security issue” used to shutdown abcnews.com, drudge.com, Facebook or hotair.com after some embarrassing item is published? Am I the only person that can see the Feds shutting down Twitter to shut up the opposition just before a big speech?

Finally, the Feds are simply not competent in quick response endeavors, which is when this power is supposed to be needed.  Deepwater Horizon anyone?

The federal government doesn’t need this power, and should not get it. In a serious military emergency, the Executive power is basically unlimited today. But overall, the private companies and organizations managing the internet are far more capable of dealing with “cyber-warfare” than the government, particularly cyber-warfare directed at private institutions.

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World Cup – Last Thoughts

Spain were the Chelsea of this tournament. Despite oodles of offensive talent and technical skill, they played a cautious, defensive, unattractive, “possess you to death” style. Although ultimately successful, it left all of the neutrals longing for more.

As a Liverpool fan, I sure hope that Fernando Torres is OK.

FIFA has to find a way to deal with the twin scourges of fakery and rough play. They are two sides of the same coin. The only way to stop a Messi is to put him on the ground, and the only tool a Messi has to protect himself is the referee. How to fix the problem is beyond me. Stronger enforcement against rough play only encourages more fakery!

South Africa acquitted itself very well, at least from my view in Southern California.

It was a tough month for the referees, and for the FIFA stance on using technology to aid referees. It is now clear to the world that the referees need help with the modern game.

Congratulations to the Spanish team and their fans everywhere!

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World Cup – Final Weekend

3rd Place Germany 3 – Uruguay 2

This was a wonderful soccer game to watch; in retrospect I am surely not alone in wishing that the final had been as entertaining and well played. The game was wide open, as both teams had nothing to lose and consequently no inhibitions.

Final: Spain 1 – Holland 0 (a.e.t)

Spain followed the script that was widely predicted. They controlled possession and defended with pressure and numbers rather than with physicality. Holland, on the other hand, was rougher than I expected, and not as oriented to attack. With the possible exception of Dirk Kuyt, the Dutch played scared. Consequently, the game was tight and tense, and not very exciting. Dutch winger Arjen Robben is losing lots of sleep, because he was in on goal twice in the second half, against the run of play both times, and failed to convert both.  The second (on 82′) included a borderline penalty that was (correctly IMHO) not called, although the cynics will say that Robben should have collapsed on contact. The only goal came near the end of the second extra time period. Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas sent Man of the Match Andres Iniesta through and he calmly curled the ball past Dutch goalie Maarten Stekelenberg.

The referee (my favorite Howard Webb) controlled the rough Dutch, although he didn’t have a great game. He missed a clear red card to Nigel de Jong for a flying Kung Fu kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso while challenging for a header. In Webb’s defense, replays show he was screened on that incident. He ended up giving 11 yellow cards, and sent off Dutch defender Johnny Heitenga for a second yellow in the first extra period.

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World Cup – Semi #2

Germany 0 – Spain 1

While the score was tight, Spain was the better team from start to finish. Spain was consistently threatening, while Germany only generated a few chances. Spanish goalie iker Casillas was only troubled a couple of times. Spain held possession for relatively long stretches, and then took it back quickly. Spain controlled the midfield, and also took away the German long balls and counter-attack. Basically, the Germans played scared, which was very surprising.

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