Quotulatiousness

January 2, 2014

Green Bay playoff game at risk of TV blackout in home market

Filed under: Business, Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

For some reason, I had the impression that NFL blackout rules didn’t apply in the post-season, but Dan Zinski says there’s a real risk that the Green Bay Packers may not sell all of their tickets for this weekend’s game against the San Francisco 49ers:

Packer fans are the greatest, most loyal and diehard fans in the world. Which explains why, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were reportedly still 7,500 tickets available for Sunday’s home playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Huh?

Yes it’s true. Amazingly, the Packers are struggling to sell out their home playoff game. Despite their fans being better than everyone else’s fans.

[…]

The tickets must be sold by 3:40 PM Thursday to avoid a blackout. But if history is any indication the NFL will give the Packers an extension.

If the Packers still can’t sell the tickets and the blackout goes into effect? Look for a mass exodus out of Green Bay and Milwaukee and into all the towns where the game is on television. That will be a bad time to be traveling anywhere in Wisconsin.

And just wait until Sunday night when everyone is driving home, totally wasted. In the name of public safety, maybe the state government should buy up the tickets.

My guess is that the nightmare scenario won’t come to pass, that the tickets will get bought up and everyone will be able to see the game. And what an enjoyable game it will be…for people who hate the Packers.

On the other hand, I’ve seen predictions that the game-time temperature could be as low as -15F, which would be the coldest game in NFL history (the current record is -13F at the “Ice Bowl” in 1967). I wouldn’t blame the fans quite as much for not wanting to be part of that kind of historical event.

Update, 3 January: Earlier this afternoon, the Packers announced that they’d sold all the tickets to the game (a local business apparently stepped in to buy the remainder), so the game will be available on TV in the Wisconsin area. The weather reports are looking worse, however, as the temperature could go as low as -18F (or -25F) with a potential windchill of -53F. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

October 16, 2013

US wages and personal mobility

Filed under: Economics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:07

Coyote Blog looks at the widely touted flattening of income growth in the United States and wonders how much mobility (people moving from one state to another) might play a part in the overall picture:

All of this is a long introduction to some thinking I have been doing on all the “Average is Over” discussion talking about the flattening of growth in median wages. I begin with this chart:

Click to see full-sized image

Click to see full-sized image

There is a lot of interstate migration going on. And much of it seems to be out of what I think of as higher cost states like CA, IL, and NY and into lower cost states like AZ, TX, FL, and NC. One of the facts of life about the CPI and other inflation adjustments of income numbers is that the US essentially maintains one average CPI. Further, median income numbers and poverty numbers tend to assume one single average cost of living number. But everyone understands that the income required to maintain lifestyle X on the east side of Manhattan is very different than the income required to maintain lifestyle X in Dallas or Knoxville or Jackson, MS.

Could it be that even with a flat average median wage, that demographic shifts to lower cost-of-living states actually result in individuals being better off and living better?

For some items one buys, of course, there is no improvement by moving. For example, my guess is that an iPhone with a monthly service plan costs about the same anywhere you go in the US. But if you take something like housing, the differences can be enormous.

Let’s compare San Francisco and Houston. At first glance, San Francisco seems far wealthier. The median income in San Francisco is $78,840 while the median income in Houston in $55,910. Moving from a median wage job in San Francisco to a media wage job in Houston seems to represent a huge step down. If you and a bunch of your friends made this move, the US median income number would drop. It would look like people were worse off.

But something else happens when you take this nominal pay cut to move to Houston. You also can suddenly afford a much nicer, larger house, even at the lower nominal pay. In San Francisco, your admittedly higher nominal pay would only afford you the ability to buy only 14% of the homes on the market. And the median home, which you could not afford, has only about 1000 square feet of space. In Houston, on the other hand, your lower nominal pay would allow you to buy 56% of the homes. And that median home, which you can now afford, will have on average 1858 square feet of space.

September 25, 2013

“SaaS: STRIPPERS as a SERVICE”

Filed under: Business, Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:58

The Register‘s headline perfectly encapsulates the dispute between Oracle/American Express and a high-end strip club:

A San Francisco strip club is suing Oracle after the tech goliath refused to pay a $33,540 bill allegedly racked up on the company credit card.

Larkin Street’s New Century Theater has filed a lawsuit claiming a man — named in the legal paperwork as Jose Manuel Gomez Sanchez — slid into the sexy flesh-pit last year and partied through the night.

It’s alleged he used an Oracle-issued American Express card between 1am and 5am to pay for $16,490 of undisclosed services on 2 October — right in the middle of Oracle’s OpenWorld 2012 conference in the city — and then returned two days later to splurge $17,050.

According to the San Fran Chronicle, Oracle was not willing to settle the subsequent bill. The database giant, easing itself into the software-as-a-service market, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was submitted earlier this month to the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. The next hearing will take place in February. Sanchez is named as a defendant along with Oracle.

I’m not a lawyer, but it strikes me as a bad idea for Oracle to dispute the charges on the Amex card unless there are strong indications of “creative” billing on the part of the strip club. Just because they disapprove of how their employee racked up the charges doesn’t mean they can stiff the vendor.

August 26, 2013

Preseason “action” as Vikings lose to San Francisco

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:10

This was a nationally televised game, and both teams were expected to play their starters for at least the first half (except the 49ers have like a dozen quarterbacks on the roster, so each prospective backup was going to play less than a quarter). The Vikings didn’t look good. In fact, they looked particularly bad with the first team offence on the field. The defence looked much better, but not good enough to make up for the lack of offensive productivity on display.

Adrian Peterson got a few symbolic snaps, but no meaningful action (no contact at all), and was quickly replaced by Toby Gerhart at running back. Stephen Burton, who has been pushing to make the roster as a wide receiver, gave up an interception to end an early series and reduce his chance of being on the 53-man roster at the start of the season. Both of the starting tackles ended up with personal fouls — Matt Kalil drew two unsportsmanlike penalties and Phil Loadholt was flagged for holding.

The Vikings special teams gave up a kick-return TD which immediately wiped out any momentum from the Zach Line touchdown reception. Joe Webb caught a second TD from Christian Ponder to round out the scoring for the Purple. Chris Cook left the game with a groin injury and Kevin Williams will have an MRI today after he was injured on a nasty-looking block away from the ball.

I saw the first half, then a thunderstorm rolled through our area and took out the power briefly. When the power came on a few seconds later, the cable was out and I couldn’t watch the rest of the game. From the reports, I missed very little indeed…

The first round of roster cuts (from 90 players down to 75) are due by Tuesday, so this game was the last chance for some players to make any kind of showing.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling says the final stat line is kinder to Christian Ponder than it appeared on the field:

Ponder went 7-of-9 for 48 yards on his final drive during the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, directing a 12-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe Webb on a fade route. It was as assertive and accurate as Ponder has looked all preseason, and though most of his completions were underneath the 49ers’ coverage, he converted two third downs (one on a 7-yard scramble, the other on his touchdown to Webb), and the scoring pass was Ponder’s second of the night. It helped him finish with his best stat line of the preseason — 17-of-23 for 116 yards, two touchdowns and an interception — but it also dressed things up after another ragged start for Ponder.

July 23, 2013

San Francisco TV station tries using DMCA to hide embarrassing clip

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:16

At Wired, David Kravets reports on San Francisco’s KTVU and their attempt to hide the newscast where they “identified” the pilot and crew of Asiana flight 214:

While many of the videos of the segment were still live on Google-owned YouTube, the reason why the Fox affiliate has been demanding their removal doesn’t concern copyright.

“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others,” the station’s general manager and vice president, Tom Raponi, told Mediabistro today.

More than 180 were injured and three were killed July 6 when the Boeing 777 slammed on the tarmac.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, owners of websites where the content is user-generated are obligated to remove copyrighted material at the rights holder’s request, or face the same potential penalties as the uploader. A successful copyright lawsuit carries damages as high as $150,000 per violation.

January 31, 2013

Randy Moss is not the greatest NFL receiver … but he could have been

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Judd Zulgad agrees that Randy Moss was a great wide receiver during his career in Minnesota, was even better in New England, but he was not the best ever:

Randy Moss declared this week that he believes he is the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game.

Moss is wrong. He’s not.

That honor belongs to Jerry Rice and from there the debate about who is second can begin.

But in giving ESPN and sports-talk shows invaluable fodder to discuss during Super Bowl week, one has to wonder this about Moss: Will he wake up one day long after his NFL career is over and realize that he could have been the greatest receiver to have played if only he had elected to apply himself.

There are no denying Moss’ talents.

Moss, who at 35 is spending the twilight of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, served almost immediate notice upon his arrival with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 that NFL teams had made a mistake by passing on him 19 times in the first round of that draft.

In his rookie season, Moss helped to redefine how we thought about the wide receiver position.

[. . .]

Cris Carter might not have been beloved by the media, but he tried his best to mold Moss into a professional in 1998. Moss arrived back in Minnesota for a tumultuous month in 2010 and did far more damage than good in numerous areas, including when it came to Percy Harvin’s development.

Moss attempted to point out Wednesday the quality of quarterbacks that Rice had to work with during the majority of his career. What Moss failed to mention is that he spent three-plus seasons with a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Tom Brady and broke Rice’s record by catching 23 touchdown passes in 2007.

Guess who ruined the relationship between Moss and the Patriots? It wasn’t the football team. Rice bounced around late in his career because he wanted to hang on too long. Moss began to bounce around during the prime of his career because he had become a pain.

Moss, like Brady, should go into Canton, Ohio, on the first ballot when he’s eligible — it looks like he wants to stick around for at least one more season — and he should go down as a receiver who helped change the NFL as we know it.

What he won’t go down as is the greatest receiver of all time. For that, Randy Moss has no one to blame but himself.

September 24, 2012

Vikings upset San Francisco 49ers in Minnesota

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Lots of bookies are unhappy with the result of Sunday’s game in Minnesota, as the underdog Vikings played a complete game and came out with a big win over the heavily favoured San Francisco 49ers. Tight End Kyle Rudolph came down with two touchdown passes from Christian Ponder, and Ponder scrambled for another TD. Rookie Kicker Blair Walsh set a team record with another 50+ yard field goal to extend his career-opening streak to three games. 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero and Judd Zulgad wrap up the game from the Metrodome:

Update: Ted Glover at the Daily Norseman:

God damn it, it may be cheap, and it may be cliche, but this was as solid a team victory as this organization has had in a long, long time. When the offense needed to make a long drive and score, they did. When the defense absolutely, positively, had to get off the field, they did. When the special teams needed a big play, they got one. When Leslie Frazier and the coaching staff needed to dial something up, they did. Honestly, if you can’t get on board after this win, or get pumped up after a victory this convincing, you need to go cheer for another team. I can’t help you. If this was college, and I was handing out helmet stickers, everyone would get one, because this was a great win for this franchise. The Vikings just didn’t beat the 49ers, they flat out kicked their ass.

Kicked. Their. Ass.

August 11, 2012

Vikings defence crumbles in San Francisco

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:50

The first preseason game is out of the way and it wasn’t pretty. Both the Vikings and 49ers rested some of their starters, and the starters who played generally only stayed in the game for a series or two.

Most accounts agree that the Vikings’ offensive starters did well except for a rash of drops that cut short the first couple of drives. Christian Ponder’s decision-making was better than last year, not trying to force the ball into coverage and being willing to throw the ball away when nothing developed. The offensive line apparently held up well, giving Ponder time to get past his first read and making the most of what opportunities were offered. Blair Walsh scored all the Vikings points (two field goals), and got the ball deep enough on kickoff to keep San Francisco from any big returns.

(more…)

September 19, 2011

The “Day of Rage” turns into a damp squib

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:38

Apparently it wasn’t the start of the anti-capitalist revolution after all:

September 17 was supposed to be the Day of Rage, the starting point of an anti-capitalist revolution that (in theory) was going to sweep the country coast-to-coast. As I noted yesterday, “The plan is to protest in state capitals and major cities across the nation, but the focus of the revolution will be in New York, where a hoped-for 20,000 anti-capitalists will ‘occupy’ Wall Street.”

I dutifully sent my operatives out to cover what were to be three of the largest Day of Rage protests — in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — so humanity would have a full record of this pivotal moment in history.

Really, I should have learned my lesson by now: The bigger the build-up to a protest, and the more grandiose the promises, the louder the sound of the bellyflop onto the dustbin of irrelevancy.

In other words: “Day of Rage” was a massive FAIL.

Lots of sad photos at the link. Even the fringy-est of fringe movements were represented. As one of the photo captions says, “Down in L.A., there were so few authentic protesters, that the LaRoucheites comprised a significant proportion of the attendees.”

July 30, 2011

Penn Jillette on his new book, and other experiences

Filed under: Humour, Media, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:53

Video GamesE3 2012AOTS Exclusive

June 2, 2011

Man succeeds in suicide attempt over an hour, as police and fire rescue watch

Filed under: Bureaucracy, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:59

A hard-to-believe story from Alameda, California:

Fire crews and police could only watch after a man waded into San Francisco Bay, stood up to his neck and waited. They wanted to do something, but a policy tied to earlier budget cuts strictly forbade them from trying to save the 50-year-old, officials said.

A witness finally pulled the apparently suicidal man’s lifeless body from the 54-degree water.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the man, later identified as Raymond Zack, spent nearly an hour in the water before he drowned.

Perhaps they assumed that the suicidal man would get too cold and come back to shore, but it’s hard to understand how they could stand around for an hour and not do anything.

August 23, 2010

San Francisco 15, Vikings 10

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:43

Last night’s preseason game had a brief cameo appearance by Brett Favre, who only completed one pass to Adrian Peterson, and then took a big sack. Favre got up smiling after the sack, so he wasn’t hurt by it, but it was Peterson’s man who got through to Favre. Peterson needs to be better at picking up blitzes in order to stay on the field in third down situations (Chester Taylor used to do third down blocking, but he’s with Chicago this year).

Tarvaris Jackson took over at quarterback after the first series, and played the remainder of the first half. The Vikings’ offensive line didn’t show great form, allowing another sack of Jackson (that was Chris Clark’s man getting the sack) and allowing several hits on him as he released the ball. The defensive line wasn’t its usual dominant self either, as the 49ers were able to score the first points of the game against the Vikings’ starters. E.J. Henderson got his first start after coming back from a late-season injury that many thought might be a career-ender. The defensive backfield had a different look to it, with cornerback Antoine Winfield only playing one series, then giving way to second-round pick Chris Cook. The other corner was manned by Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen playing alternating series. Jamarca Sanford started at strong safety, then alternated with last season’s starter Tyrell Johnson.

Joe Webb, who the Vikings originally planned to convert to wide receiver, made a strong case for sticking on the regular season roster:

Webb, a sixth-round pick out of Alabama-Birmingham, completed seven of 14 passes for 47 yards in the fourth quarter and, more important, ran for 53 yards on three carries, including a 48-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 54 seconds left. He then showed his inexperience by getting sacked on the final play of the game for a safety.

The Vikings likely won’t get much of a look at Webb on Saturday night in their third game of the preseason against Seattle. It will be the Vikings’ exhibition home opener and, as is usually the case, the starters are expected to play into the third quarter. That will include Favre, who must get settled back into this offense after missing the first two weeks of training camp.

The problem for the Vikings is that they plan to carry only three quarterbacks on the roster, and Favre, Jackson, and Sage Rosenfels all returned from last season. Webb could be a good quarterback — given a year or two of seasoning — but he’s looked too good in his brief opportunities to risk trying to sneak him on to the practice squad, which may mean the Vikings need to hold a regular roster spot open for him.

March 4, 2010

Shooting the messenger over extra taxes

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:32

An article in the Chicago Tribune talks about the latest “extra” to appear on restaurant bills in San Francisco: the “health” charge. This is how many restaurants in the city are handling the latest tax increase — making it explicit on the bill — but the Tribune writer appears to feel the restaurant owners should “eat” the new tax as “part of doing business”. Implied in this is that the restaurants shouldn’t raise prices either.

So, let’s all blame those evil restaurant owners, shall we?

The rationale for this one is to cover the employers’ mandatory contribution to the City’s “Healthy San Francisco” health-coverage system. The charge actually is levied on employers, but at least some restaurants are adding a few dollars or percentage points to each customer’s bill to cover this charge.

The restaurants’ excuse for assessing this charge separately is to let customers know how much they’re paying for employees’ health coverage. That’s the same excuse hotels use when they add “resort” or “housekeeping” fees to unsuspecting guests’ room bills. It’s the same excuse airlines would use to exclude fuel surcharges from their advertised fares if the Department of Transportation would allow them. And it’s sheer nonsense. Employees’ health insurance is no less of a cost of doing business than rent, property taxes, food costs, security services and all the other inputs businesses require to operate. To single out health care for a separate surcharge is unwarranted.

What’s missing here is the distinction between mandatory fees or taxes which various levels of government impose, and extra charges for things which logically should be intrinsic to the basic price. I agree that adding a “housekeeping” item to a hotel bill is wrong, but calling out a new tax that has to be paid is correct. Hidden taxes (in which category the Tribune writer misleadingly includes the San Francisco “health” charge) are the ones that don’t get itemized for you on your bill . . . that’s the “hidden” part.

Hidden taxes are far worse than itemized entries, because when prices rise due to changes in the tax rate, they naturally blame the seller (who doesn’t benefit from the raised price) and not the government which raised the tax rate underlying the price increase.

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