March 21, 2012

NFL hands down punishments in Saints’ bounty hunting scandal

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:56

The NFL has finally announced what penalties it will assess against the New Orleans Saints and individual coaches for the bounty scheme the team ran (individual penalties against players who took part have not yet been disclosed):

  • Saints’ head coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay from NFL activities for one year.
  • Former Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended without pay indefinitely. The NFL will review his case after the 2012 season. This will also hurt the St. Louis Rams who hired Williams this season.
  • General manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for eight games.
  • Assistant head coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for six games.
  • Loss of the Saints’ second-round draft pick in both 2012 and 2013.
  • A $500,000 fine on the club.

The penalties for the 22 or more individual players are apparently being held until the NFL Players Association can complete its own investigation into the scheme.

Earlier posts on this issue here and here.

Update: As several people have pointed out, this has a commonality with a lot of political scandals, in that the original sin is compounded by the cover-up attempts. It’s pretty much a certainty that this wasn’t the only bounty program in the league, and the penalty would likely have been much less if the Saints hadn’t worked so hard — as an organization — to cover it up after the initial accusation was made.

This is why Paul Ryan’s budget proposals will go nowhere

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:40

It’s because he’s not only requiring the middle classes to take a hit for the team, but he’s also trying to get rid of all the custom-crafted deductions, loopholes, shelters, and special favours in the tax code. Middle class voters have been sending their elected representatives to Washington to add to the special tax “tweaks” that disproportionally benefit the middle class. That’s how politicians ensure their re-election chances.

Unveiling his new budget proposal, Paul Ryan once again reminds us that he is one of the few men in Washington with guts and brains operating in harmony. His budget asks the big question in American politics: What is the middle class willing to give up in order to save the country?

I am afraid that the answer will be: Not very much.

[. . .]

The reaction to Ryan’s tax plan will be the truly telling thing. He proposes to create two relatively low tax brackets but to do so in a way that achieves revenue neutrality by eliminating most deductions and exclusions. Almost certainly this will mean reducing or eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction, deductions for state and local taxes, and deductions for charitable giving. (Ramesh’s beloved child tax credit probably will survive, unfortunately.) The Committee to Reinflate the Bubble will fight tooth and talon to defend the mortgage-interest deduction, and they’ll have a great many middle-class homeowners behind them.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle for the link.

Update: Nick Gillespie thinks that the Ryan budget proposal is merely an echo of Obama’s plan, not a serious attempt to get the government’s finances in order:

In brief, the Ryan plan is not as bad as [President Obama’s] budget, which wants to spend $3.8 trillion in FY2013 and envisions spending $5.8 trillion in FY2022. Over the next 10 years, Obama assumes that federal spending would amount to 22.5 percent of GDP while revenues would average just 19.2 percent of GDP. That ain’t no way to run a country.

In this sense, Ryan’s plan is slightly better but still doesn’t pass the laugh test. He would spend $3.5 trillion in 2013 and $4.9 trillion in 2022 (all figures in the post are in current dollars unless otherwise noted). Spending as an average of GDP would average 20 percent of GDP and revenue would amount to just 18.3 percent.

[. . .]

Yet Ryan’s plan is weak tea. Here we are, years into a governmental deficit situation that shows no sign of ending. How is it that Ryan and the Republican leadership cannot even dream of balancing a budget over 10 years’ time? All of the discussion of reforming entitlements and the tax code and everything else is really great and necessary — I mean that sincerely — but when you cannot envision a way of reducing government spending after a decade-plus of an unrestrained spending binge, then you are not serious about cutting government. If Milton Friedman was right that spending is the proper measure of the government’s size and scope in everybody’s life, then the establishment GOP is signaling what we knew all along: They are simply an echo of the Democratic Party.

Learn another language to boost your intelligence

Filed under: Cancon, Education, Health — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:32

My son bitterly resented being sent to French Immersion after kindergarten (many of his friends were not entering FI and he wanted to stay with them), but recent studies back up our decision:

Most people would already describe someone who knows multiple languages as a smart person, but there’s new research that shows learning and knowing more than one language can have a deeper impact on the way your brain works than previously believed. In reality, people who know multiple languages are able to monitor their surroundings better and switch between mental tasks faster, and those benefits extend from the early years to old age — and you can harness them even later in life by picking up a new language.

In its examination of the topic, the New York Times points to a trio of studies, one from 2004 and published in the journal Developmental Science from researchers at the York University Department of Psychology that indicated bilingual individuals are more adept at certain mental challenges and tasks than people who only know one language.

However, it’s still true that the best time to learn a second language is early in life.

“Euphemisms, like elevated temperature, are usually a sign of sickness”

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Government, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:10

George Jonas on the redefinition game, as currently being played in the European Union:

The subject was the justice commissioner’s office beginning a 10-week period of “consultation” with Europe’s publicly listed companies about breaking the “glass ceiling.” That’s the invisible barrier that supposedly keeps women from Big Capital’s boardrooms. Not altogether, of course, but at only 13% not in the volume Ms. Reding thinks right. After 10 weeks, Europe’s companies will either comply “voluntarily” with Ms. Reding’s idea of the correct percentage, or she will start considering “legislative measures.”

[. . .]

After putting discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, ethnicity, etc., beyond the pale, the government introduces programs whose specific — indeed, only — aim is to compel discrimination on the very grounds it prohibits. The first casualty is the language; its first symptoms, a rash of euphemisms. Liberal-fascist societies break out in euphemisms faster than you can say “affirmative action.”

Doctors of the body politic — a.k.a. writers — react to euphemisms as medical doctors react to fever. Language strives for accuracy; it has a built-in bias for calling a spade a spade, so hearing something called something else shows up as a tick on the diagnostic chart. Euphemisms, like elevated temperature, are usually a sign of sickness.

This is Stage One. In Stage Two the interventionist state abandons all, or at least some pretense, and admits to doing what it’s doing. It’s feeling strong enough to feel its oats.

The EU is now a Stage Two tyranny. It still has lots of room to grow before it becomes a monster-state, but it has started coming clean.

Converting teachers into pre-grief counsellors

Filed under: Britain, Education, Health, Randomness — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:51

Dennis Hayes on the recent trend in teaching: preventing children from having “best friends” because the emotional pain of losing a best friend is too much for kids to bear.

In some English schools, having best friends can now get you in serious trouble with teacher. At the weekend, it was reported that primary school children in certain areas are being discouraged from having best friends to avoid the ‘pain of falling out’. Gaynor Sbuttoni, an educational psychologist working with schools in south-west London, told The Sunday Times, ‘I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn’t have a best friend and that everyone should play together… They’re doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend.’ Sbuttoni is not the first to speak out against this trend in the UK, and ‘no best friend’ policies have been in place in some US schools for quite a while.

Reading the reports, it might seem like this is just a silly intervention by meddling teachers, which simply needs to be stamped out. But that underestimates what is going on in our schools. The teaching profession is being reformed as a therapeutic profession, often prioritising the delivery of therapy over education to ‘vulnerable’ children and young people. As this new therapeutic profession develops, more and more interventions like ‘no best friends’ will arise, either spontaneously in classrooms or as a result of conscious intervention by school heads, local authorities, government and, of course, Ofsted, which runs with every fad and fashion.

Meddling in young children’s emotional lives is the worst feature of contemporary schooling. Children are now trained to have ‘appropriate’ emotions through emotional literacy classes and so-called subjects like SEAL — the ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’. The training on offer in such sessions is nothing short of emotional manipulation. Children are taught to be moderate; empathy is good, anger is bad. They are taught to be emotionally dead, out of touch with all the emotions that make up human relationships, passion, anger, jealousy, hatred and even love, which is sentimentalised and sanitised. This is the anodyne therapeutic ethos that now dominates education at all levels.

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