Friday, 5 September 2003

SEC Week 2 prognostications

I started doing these a couple of seasons ago for a mailing list I subscribe to; now, since I have a blog, I’ll be posting them here too…

Yes, they’re back… the worst game predictions on earth. (Sorry, last week kinda snuck up on me.) No SEC games this week, so Ole Miss is still in the bizarre position of leading the conference by virtue of its early opener against Vandy. On to the predictions… home team in caps; record and TV in brackets. Listed in order of kickoff.

  • Ole Miss [1-0/1-0] 24, MEMPHIS [1-0] 21 [ESPN2]: Ole Miss travels by bus this week to face a longtime foe on the road that cares more about the rivalry than the Rebels do. The home team is, by all accounts, much improved over last year’s disappointing squad and is beginning to gel under its relatively-new head coach. However, it will be home-away-from-home for the Rebels, as the stadium will be a sea of red. And, in the end, despite the Rebels’ continued lack of a running game, the opponent’s QB will be outmatched by Manning and some creative defense.

    Of course, this exactly the same description I could have written about last week’s Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game in Nashville. Hence, I predict exactly the same outcome, although I don’t expect the need for late heroics by Jonathan Nichols this week. Field conditions in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Oven will no doubt be unpleasant; if you have a line on heatstroke deaths, take the “over.”

  • Virginia [1-0] 35, SOUTH CAROLINA [1-0] 27 [JP]: I know nothing about either of these teams, but this seems as good a guess as any. A seven-point win over Lousiana-Lafayette doesn’t inspire confidence in Carolina’s likely performance against Big Six competition.

  • GEORGIA [1-0] 38, Middle Tenn. State [0-1] 17: Despite a record of competing fairly solidly against SEC competition, MTSU falters down the stretch against Georgia’s ball-control offense.

  • Auburn [0-1] 21, GEORGIA TECH [0-1] 17 [ABC regional]: Two early-season disappointments meet in downtown Atlanta. I back Auburn on a coin-flip, since they lost to better opposition.

  • Marshall [1-0] 24, TENNESSEE [1-0] 17 [ESPN2]: The MAC gets its big chance to prove it can play with the big boys. Against an overrated UT squad, they might actually pull it off. Upset special alert.

  • ARKANSAS [0-0] 42, Tulsa [0-1] 14: It won't be the most exciting game in the universe, but Arkansas cruises in its opener. Ex-SWAC foe Texas next week will be more of a challenge.

  • VANDERBILT [0-1/0-1] 31, UT-Chattanooga [0-1] 14: If Vandy plays like they did against Ole Miss last week, they should pound UTC. However, if Vandy plays like they play against every other team, this one could be close.

  • Oklahoma [1-0] 35, ALABAMA [1-0] 17 [ESPN]: The Sooners come into Tuscaloosa for the Tide’s real home opener. However, this isn’t your father’s Bama team, and Mike Shula isn’t the Bear. Or even Jack Nicklaus, for that matter. The Crimson Tide’s tune-up against USF’s barely-I-A squad isn't much of a leading indicator; this will be the big indicator of whether Alabama is going places or just sulking. My money’s on the latter.

  • KENTUCKY [0-1] 35, Murray State [1-0] 10: I-AA Murray State drives most of the way across the state to get pounded in Lexington for the Wildcats’ home opener, then faces a long drive back. Pretty scenery though.

  • MIAMI (Fla.) [1-0] 49, Florida [1-0] 21 [ABC]:’s hit counter explodes by half-time as Brock Berlin dismantles Ron’s NFL-depleted team, picking up where Ken Dorsey left off. But at least last week Zook put up Spurrier numbers…

  • ARIZONA [1-0] 21, Louisiana State [1-0] 17 [TBS]: A close game that would probably go the other way if it were played under the lights in muggy Red Stick, rather than the dry desert heat.

  • MISSISSIPPI STATE [0-1] 1, MSU Scout Team 0 (by forfeit): Kevin “I can get you a deal on snow tires” Fant and Jackie Sherill lick their wounds down in Starkvegas after losing to Oregon and having their retinas damaged by Oregon's hideous unis. State had better get some wins now before the Bayou Bengals come calling September 27.

As always: remember, kids, these picks are just for fun. So no wagering!

Agenda-setting: the power of the Times

Why do Virginia Postrel and Glenn Reynolds suddenly care about the two-week Memphis blackout in late July and early August? Simple: the New York Times had an op-ed about it.

(Virginia’s reaction is common. I got stares of disbelief when I told people in Ann Arbor about the Memphis power outage when the Great Northeast Blackout hit the town. “Surely we would have heard about this,” was the common refrain.)

Of course, Signifying Nothing readers knew about it at the time, even though half of SN (Brock) was offline due to the power outage and the other half (i.e. me) was 750 miles away.

On the way to losing my vote

Until today, I was pretty sure who I was planning to vote for in Mississippi’s governor’s race. Now, after last night’s semi-debate here at Ole Miss, I’m not so sure:

[Musgrove] also said Barbour worked vigorously in his 20 years at the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm he helped found, in support of policies that hurt Mississippi. He said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) were “terrible policy” that sent 41,000 Mississippi manufacturing jobs to Mexico. “He wasn’t here to see the devastation brought on by NAFTA and GATT,” Musgrove said.

Now it’s true that the governor’s office has next to nothing to do with free trade. However, backwards, protectionist thinking on trade is about the last thing Mississippi needs in the governor’s office—especially since, without GATT (which actually predates Haley Barbour by several decades) and the WTO, we probably wouldn’t have the Nissan plant near Canton that Musgrove regularly touts on the campaign trail.

Granted, I haven’t been very impressed by Barbour either so far, but coupled with both candidates’ absurd posturing over the Ten Commandments monument (apparently, in their world, Montgomery is now in Mississippi)—silliness I would have thought Musgrove would be above—I’m going to have to move firmly back into the “undecided” column.

What's wrong with the filibuster (and the judiciary)

Randy Barnett, one of the burgeoning field of Volokh conspirators, links to a Larry Solum post that explains what’s fundamentally wrong with the filibuster as currently constituted:

The contemporary filibuster is a polite affair. Charles Schumer does not talk through the night, bleary eyed and exhausted. Why not? Couldn’t the filibuster be broken if the Republicans forced the Democrats to go 24/7? No. Because the 24/7 option actually gives an advantage to the minority. Why? In order to force a 24/7 filibuster, the majority must maintain a quorum at all times, but the minority need only have one Senator present to maintain the filibuster. So 24/7 both exhausts and distracts the majority, while allowing the minority the opportunity to rest and carry on their ordinary business. [Emphasis added.] No modern filibuster has been broken by the 24/7 option. For more on this, see my post entitled Update on Filibusters.

Putting the onus on the filibustering party to sustain the filibuster would be a reasonable, fair reform to the rule, much more so than other proposed reforms (adjusting the number of senators required or reducing the scope of what floor actions can be filibustered). And Larry is not very optimistic about what happens now:

But is it too late? Have we moved so far down the spiral [of] politicization that it is impossible to turn back? At this stage in the game, it seems unlikely that Democrats would trust a Republican nominee who presented herself as committeed to the rule of law. And given the Republican perception that the Democrats have unfairly escalated the confirmation wars, it seems unlikely that Republicans will forgo the opportunity to attempt to find confirmable candidates for judicial office who are committed to the political agenda of the right. Charles Schumer rang the bell and its peel has been heard far and wide. Both sides now seem committed to a judicial selection process that concieves of the federal judiciary as the third political branch. Not the least dangersous branch, but the most dangerous branch. The branch that carries out a political agenda with the security of life tenure and the power of final decision about Constitutional questions. Can that bell be unrung? I wish that I could say “yes” with confidence, but alas, I cannot.

Is the politicized judiciary anything new? Scholars have debated that question for the past thirty years, with very mixed results. But certainly the willingness of both parties to use the courts as a vehicle for their partisan agendas has increased in the past two decades. And, ultimately, the electorate (or perhaps a few senators who are more concerned about the institution than their own careers, a dying breed by any measure) will have to settle the argument by giving one side the sixty senators it needs to either fix or abolish the filibuster, as the current situation is likely to get far worse before it gets better.

Hit trolling for dummies

Dan Drezner appears to be very desparate to get people to visit his spiffy new* Movable Type-powered site. Case in point? This post about Britney Spears’ apparent unconditional support for the Bush administration. Quoth Britney:

[Bow-tied geek that fits CNN’s definition of “conservative” Tucker] Carlson then steered the interview to politics, asking Spears if she’d supported the war in Iraq. Spears answered, “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that.” She declared that she trusts President Bush, but when asked about the president’s political future, Spears told Carlson that she doesn’t know if he’ll get re-elected.

Then again, in an industry where your level of political sophistication is apparently measured by whether or not you wear a T-shirt that reads F.U.T.K. and how many times you praise Michael Moore’s latest film, I can’t say this attitude is particularly disturbing. At least she didn’t say she was embarassed to be from the same state as Mary Landrieu and Eli Manning. Them’s fighting words.

LSblog 0.7.1

Since Brock asked nicely, I’ve wrapped up version 0.7.1 of LSblog in a tarball. As always, if it breaks, both pieces are yours. This version is still Python 2.2-friendly (I think), but works unmodified under Python 2.3 without icky DeprecationWarning messages.

In addition to Python, it requires PostgreSQL and the PsycoPG database adapter; also, a few bits haven’t been ported to the CGI backend yet (the cookie setting stuff is the main oversight), so Apache 2.x’s mod_python will probably also be nice. Actually, it also needs CGI because I haven’t been bothered to port the trackback script to add mod_python support. And you’ll probably want to set up cron jobs to run and (optionally), just for entertainment value.