The reparation discussions in San Francisco have become crazy. The latest discussion point of $5M per CA person who identifies as black is being described as “inadequate”. The whole thing is nuts.
I’m as liberal as anyone you might meet. I will be the first to agree that there is racial and social injustice in America. I look for and vote for justice, but this “remedy” isn’t right. Here’s my take.
Many of my ancestors and your ancestors did bad things. Horrible things. Many Germans are descended from Nazis. Many Americans are descended from slave owners. Many African natives are also descended from slave owners – slavery was normal hundreds of years ago, on multiple continents. The Spanish and Portugese committed mass genocides throughout the Americas. As you go back through history, almost every nation/tribe/ethnic group has some horrible transgression to regret in their past. Our histories are savage and cruel.
My take is that those of us alive today should acknowledge those sins and strive to do better (much better, hopefully) in our lives, but I cannot be liable for the sins of my predecessors. I am accountable for myself, for my actions, and that’s it. Same for you. Any attempt to place the blame for sins of the past on current populations is illogical, unjust, and a ridiculously slippery slope. Where does it end?
Be aware of the sins of the past, learn from them, and be the best person you can be while you’re here. That’s all that makes sense to me.
Back to Cabo and some great fishing next week. Here’s the biggest fish I’ve ever caught, just a few hundred yards offshore at Cabo. Small marlin, about 130 pounds and over eight feet long nose to tail. I intended to catch and release but the poor guy swallowed the bait and hooks, so there was no way to save him.
He was *very* tasty. We ate like kings for a few days. I gave all the fish we didn’t keep to the boat captain and some of the locals.
I don’t have the patience for writing about anything of substance today (politics, mass shootings, CA climate, etc.), so I’ll write about my trivial passion – UK basketball.
It’s another frustrating season as a UK fan. So much talent, so much potential, and a weak, inconsistent result. In past decades opponents feared and respected Kentucky basketball teams, but no more. This decade we’re an also-ran in a tough SEC conference. And out of the conference, against good teams? A few random wins (beat Kansas at home last year), but generally 50-50 or worse outside the SEC. Meh.
We Kentuckians take great pride in our team and its historical success, even domination of the game. It’s fun to be part of a winning tradition. Lately…not so much. The big question is why.
The answer has to start with the coach. I’ve been a huge John Calipari fan for years, but he isn’t getting it done anymore. It’s not about this year, it’s about the last decade. Let’s take an objective look at JC’s UK record. From Wikipedia:
I mean, looking at the totals, it’s a great record. Who wouldn’t want a 78% win rate? But year after year, we fall short of the big prize and the meaningful wins under JC. Let’s work our way backwards, using the latter half of the season’s year as our marker. From Wikipedia, of course.
2022 – A great team that was expected to be in the Final Four, and we took a terrible loss in the first round (!!) of the NCAA tournament. That’s still an open wound around my house.
2021 – The worst year in UK hoops history. Just an awful, awful season.
2020 – Covid. ‘Nuff said.
2016 – 2019 – Good teams, decent runs into the NCAA tourney, but no Final Fours or championships.
2015 – The team that should have gone down in history as undefeated, but didn’t. The team with Tyler Ulis, the Harrison twins, Devon Booker, Karl Anthony Towns, Willy Cauley-Stein, and Alex Poythress. lost to Wisconsin in the first game of the Final Four. Lost in UK’s most hated arena in Indianapolis (we *never* play well in that place). This game was really the beginning of JC’s slow decline. Read about it all here.
2010-2014 – A great run, other than the shitty year in 2013 when we slummed it in the NIT and got bounced in the first round by Robert Morris (?!?!?). That was embarrassing. But this period saw us in three FF’s and one National Championship, so 2013 was mostly forgiven.
Looking at the big picture, we have four seasons where JC and the team achieved what is expected – a Final Four appearance. Four of thirteen (throwing out 2020 when there was no NCAA tourney and including this year, in which I predict we won’t make the FF), or 31%. Big picture, that’s not bad. Pretty much any school would take that, a 31% rate of getting to The Big Dance.
But the problem is that all those appearances were in the first half of JC’s tenure. Since 2015, nothing. No FF appearances and a string of bad losses in big games for eight years, including the Covid year and this year. Eight years is a long time for a fan base used to winning to be patient.
For some reason, JC has lost the ability to coach teams through the big games. Last week’s Kansas game was a great example. We had them – I could have coached that win, fergawdsake. For some inexplicable reason JC disrupted a winning lineup, took out his power forward freshman Chris Livingston, who was having a breakout game, and inserted Wheeler for most of the game. It wasn’t foul trouble; there was simply no explanation. Everyone who follows the game can see the trend – we’re a better team with Wheeler as a part-time role player off the bench. Calipari insists on playing him for long stretches, over and over. It’s maddening.
This kind of coach-inflicted loss is now the norm, so JC has to go. Love the guy as a human being, he’s a good person, but he’s not what we need right now to get UK back to being respected by opponents.
The Dogs of War are barking pretty loud lately. In the Russia-Ukraine war, US and allies have gone from sending “undefined support” (money, food, ammo, small arms), then to sending HIMARS rockets, then to sending all sorts of modern tanks, and now the US is talking about sending F-16s. We all knew this was a proxy war, but F-16s? We might as well send the full might of our Army and AF and push Russia back hard, somewhere deep into their original borders. Great idea, but…nukes. They get their butts kicked, you just know they’re going to trot out a nuke or two and show the west that they’re still a Player. It’s no wonder that the Doomsday Clock shows very little time left.
What a great day! After 4+ days of keto-induced digestive hell, I feel normal again. Never again shall I eat only meat and cheese. I had a perfectly great digestive system and broke it. And today the menu is pizza! with a UK game. #fuketo.
The Tyre Nichols tragedy (no known relation, but possible somewhere back in the family tree) in Memphis is beyond sad. What possesses a group of people, of policemen, to beat on someone like that? Something very wrong there. I won’t paint all of law enforcement with the same brush, but…something’s gotta change. This wasn’t a drugged up dude or a gang-banger, not that they would deserve what happened. Check out Tyre’s photography website. Basically that traffic stop could have been any of us.
Well, well, well. Turns out that Casey Handmer is now a business partner with my old company, Sempra Energy (SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy). Handmer’s startup company Terraform producing natural gas from atmospheric C02 is the intersection. I hope their prototype system does well. From Casey’s blog post:
Our completed system includes:
An industrial-scale 1 MW (5 acre) solar array to concentrate solar energy into usable electricity.
An electrolyzer to convert solar electricity directly into hydrogen without inverters or transmission.
A CO2 absorption bed to process large volumes of air and filter out the CO2, which can also produce water as a byproduct.
A Sabatier reactor to convert locally produced CO2 and hydrogen into pipeline-ready natural gas without intermediate compression or transport.
The system embodies the essence of cheap solar electrons, consumed at the source. Capital efficiency is favored over electrical efficiency, in service of a cheap and scalable product.
Yesterday’s visit to Torrey Pines was great, as usual. First class in every way. We did have some strong Santa Ana winds, but they bothered the golfers more than the fans. Today I get to enjoy the view from my living room. Here are a couple of shots from yesterday, Round 2. Firs, above the first tee.
Next, a group including Harry Higgs getting ready for their second shot on #14.
We definitely had a postcard-quality day in Socal. I got my 10,000 steps in around Torrey, plus a few more. I’ll respectfully disagree with the old saying about golf being “a good walk spoiled”.
More bad news today about the health of a close friend. I suppose I’m at the age where this will now be a regular occurrence.
Not much time to write today, as I’m off to Torrey Pines to spend a day watching the pros hit golf balls the way I can only dream of. Perfect weather and perfect venue, so I’m expecting a nice walk around the best bit of real estate in San Diego.
Here’s another nice bit of real estate 6000 miles away. In Bruges.
I don’t write much at night, but KY is playing such a great game against Vandy tonight. It’s a thing of beauty, the way it should be. For the first time in a long while the Cats look like the better athletes I think they are. I’m grateful.
And the refs only called 5 fouls on Vandy the entire game (?!?!). Impossible. But we won anyway.
Two more senseless, tragic mass shootings in California in the last few days. The Monterey Park shootings hit me hard, as I have history with that east LA town. Kaiser has (had?) a big IT facility there, and I had about 100 people who worked for me there from 2007-2018. I used to make the drive to Monterey Park quite often and got to know the area well. It’s an odd little Asian-centric part of LA, just east of some of the worst ganglands in LA. Great seafood and Asian fare. I liked the people who worked for me in MP, so I came to like the area. I just hope none of them are in the victim list.
I know what it will take to stop this, but I don’t know if we’ll ever be honest with ourselves. The problem is 100% about the easy availability of guns and ammo in America. These are troubled people, likely mentally unstable, and they have easy access to guns. Effectively no controls. So innocent people get shot and killed, again and again. May the NRA and the politicians who enact criminally-lax gun laws burn in hell, because they’ve indirectly murdered thousands.
Saying it again, we don’t need to abolish private gun ownership. We DO need gun licensing, required and ongoing training, and an active regulation of gun owners. Owning and using a gun should be like flying an airplane – you get trained and vetted, you get licensed, and usage is monitored and regulated. We don’t let just any old fool fire up a Cessna and take off, and we shouldn’t let that same old fool buy and use a gun over the course of one day.
This lack of control on guns makes America look stupid, dangerous, foolish and even evil. What will it take to change us?
I’ve hit a bit of an inspirational lull lately. I’m not traveling this month, so there goes that platform for commentary. I’m fresh out of outrage for the political shenanigans in the US. Politicians gonna be assholes, nothing new there. Guns and gun violence continue unabated – what else can one say that hasn’t been said? My ongoing struggles with digital photography and Fujifilm cameras are hard to document – I can provide a lot of out-of-focus pictures, but who wants to see that? And I’m not involved in any technical/consulting projects at present, just the part-time Board work.
I think I’m at one of those “what’s next?” turning points in life. I know what I want to spend my time on – get back to creative writing, novel writing. But I got soooo stuck trying to finish the first book, there’s a reluctance (fear?) to dive back in. Where and how to start?
I’m toying with the idea of setting the first book aside and starting a new project. Once I’m in the writing flow again, I can resurrect Lost Hope (an unintentionally ironic title at this point) and finish it. Some ideas for a new project include:
Something about gravity – the last unknown force in physics; the thing that keeps us tethered to Earth. If we solve the mystery of gravity, how does that change the world?
Something about consciousness. Does consciousness define reality? What does it mean to be a conscious observer in this universe?
A world where the human birth rate plummets rapidly and we can’t replace those who die. Human population goes from 8 billion to 100 million in four generations. Can we maintain a technological civilization, or do we fall back into an 1850s-style life? And what else happens to the world?
A second book in the Lost Hope lunar setting where the protagonist has become the Moon’s first/only PI with a mystery or two to solve. Dispense with all the backstory and origin story stuff that has me stymied in the first book. So move on to book two before finishing book one – a weirdly attractive idea.
Those are just a few ideas rattling around in the head. It’s time to get busy and bring one of them to life.