LeBron should go back to Cleveland.

I made this argument on a forum that I run, and so I’m going to make it here.

Here is my thing.  The Heat will be better than the Cavs will be if LBJ joins each of their sides: see Tom Haberstroh’s analysis, which includes WARP; the Heat project to 57-25 and the Cavs to 55-27.  The gap isn’t big, and LeBron has to be thinking beyond this year.  D-Wade is done as a full-time ass-kicker, and Bosh is either at or near his peak.  With the Cavs hounding Miller and Jesus Shuttlesworth with plans of bringing LeBron in, he will get the same deep shooting that he’s had in Miami1 to help him out in spreading the floor.  Bosh is really the differentiator, because the Cavs don’t have someone of his caliber on the roster2, and none of Irving-Waiters-Wiggins-Thompson-Varejao are up to that level just yet3.

But when you look at a WARP analysis and see two wins’ difference for this year with the promise of better things to come as Irving matures and Thompson-Wiggins-Waiters figure out the NBA, well you’re in luck, because all of your key non-LeBron players are going to be on rookie-cap or second-level contracts.  That’s just not the case in South Beach.  If LeBron has to think that he’s going to carry a team this season to a title while they figure it out, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be carrying a team on the way up?

Even if LeBron gets paired with Bosh for four more years in Miami, big guys don’t age as well as wings, and Bosh already has a ton of minutes on his legs (28,602, 36.5 MPG career), and we’ve already seen what happened when the Big Three became the Big Two.  Bosh played less (32.0 MPG) last year, which is a good sign of Spo’s roster management4.  But when you look at the guys near Bosh in Elo rankings, well, it’s not good.  Guys in that cohort seem to break down around his age: Walton, Zo, DeBusschere, Arizin.  While the guys in Miami are more known quantities, NBA players in their 30s age haphazardly.

Then there’s LeBron’s aging to account for.  LeBron has played 33276 minutes in 842 games, 39.5 MPG.  He’ll turn 30 this season, which will be his 12th in the NBA.  Take five seconds to look at him play basketball and you know that he’s an athletic gentleman without peer.  But a guy who plays that much during the regular season and 42.5 MPG in the playoffs, to say nothing of going deep into the playoffs5, needs some help.  He can carry his team for a year or two6, but doesn’t he deserve some support at some point?  The Cavs, with younger players, are in a better position to give it.

I’ll be very curious to see what LeBron does.  I’m very surprised that Haberstroh did his analysis and appeared to come down so significantly on the Heat’s side when I just don’t think it’s that cut-and-dried.


  1. and would the Heat have fared better with Miller last Finals? 

  2. and I can’t fathom a way that they get Love without gutting the roster — Waiters, Thompson, and picks won’t be enough 

  3. or in AV’s case, anymore 

  4. even if the bench was weaker last year 

  5. coming up on two full NBA seasons 

  6. hell, he’s almost assured to be the best player on his team for seven or eight more years.  Don’t believe me?  Kevin fucking Garnett. 

Transgender and Christianity — Just One Response

Chris has some thoughts on Christians addressing the subject of transgender identity, starting with 1 Peter and going through some unloving commentary on Twitter.  He then says:

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a fully-formed theological position when it comes to transgender issues. This is a topic that will no doubt soon get fuller treatment in the theological world much as homosexuality has over the past decade.

To which I respond simply:

That is the only necessary and sufficient response.

So much about Christianity’s response to homosexuality has been about whether we’ll let “the gays” into our little club or not.  Isn’t the Gospel inclusive by nature?  Are we not all sinners?  Leaving aside whether homosexuality is a sin, at what point do we start throwing sinners out of our churches?

I’ve never seen an effective call for shunning based on a lack of repentance; the ones that I see pick and choose on which sins to discriminate against.  Lord knows that I have enough habitual sins that are personally damaging to me and potentially to others that, should a standard be set, I should be thrown out of a church.  That said, because I am a heterosexual white male with an engineering degree, no one is rushing me out of the door, because I look too much like those on the “inside”, especially in this town.

Social scientists are still coming to grips with transgender identity as they study it for origins and meaning.  Christians should look past the identity and love the person.  We should spread the Gospel and let its power work on the hearts of those who do not believe, and that imperative is true no matter how normative someone’s identity and/or lifestyle are.

Sexism Matters

TItles:

Unintentional sexism is sexism nonetheless. There’s almost never a good reason to use a different word to describe a woman’s job than the words you’d choose if the position were held by a man.

The most disgusting thing that I saw on this topic was the following tweet:

That elicited the following from me:

I’m not even sure that this counts as unintentional sexism.  It distinctly smells of putting women into a rhetorical box to keep usthem safe from the business environment.

A Brief Proposal for Improving the Late-Game NBA Sixth-Foul Situation

Episode 12 of Bryan Allain’s wonderful SchnozCast saw the host asking, “If you were the Commissioner, what’s the one thing that you would change?”  Bryan had a suggestion about changing the the foul situation to where you never foul out.  I have an idea, and it’s a decision tree.

  1. If you commit six physical fouls before the 8:00 mark of the 4th quarter, you’re done.  The chances are that you’re a big man brought in to bang bodies and get Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan to the line.  If you get six fouls in 40:00, you’re done.  Why?  The chances are that you’re not a key part of the game.  If you’re a star big, you’re not getting a sixth foul that early anyway unless Joey Crawford hates you.  Put another way: if you pick up six in 40:00, you’re A) having a really bad night of things and B) playing for a coach that’s too dumb to sit you out enough to get you halfway into the fourth quarter.
  2. From 8:00 to 4:00, any sixth or higher foul awards two shots to the fouled player and possession of the ball to the fouled player’s team.
  3. From 4:00 to 2:00, any sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession, and the offender cannot check in to the game for 2:00.  This is much like hockey’s minor penalty situation, except each team would still have five players on the court.  The goal is to get the offender off the court but not remove them completely from the game.  A late-but-not-very-late foul shouldn’t hamstring the squad.
  4. From 2:00 to the buzzer, any sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession of the ball, and the player sits out the rest of regulation time.  If the game goes into overtime, the penalty would carry over to the start of overtime.
  5. Overtime: other than carryover time, a sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession, and the two-minute rule again, unless the clock is at 1:00 or less, at which point the player is gone from the game, regardless of the number of overtimes.

Any two-shots situation would increase to three if the foul is made on a shooter beyond the three-point line.

The calculus here switches from “if I take this foul, I’m gone” to “if I take this foul, we give up shots and a possession, and maybe I’m out for two minutes”.  There may be times that you want to take the foul; e.g., Dwight Howard is going to get an emphatic dunk that will light up the home crowd and his teammates.  Your rim protection prevents the easy two and shifts play to the foul line, which slows the game down and puts pressure on a shaky foul shooter.  Moreover, possession would either come on the side or end line, which puts the offensive team into a half-court situation, which may favor your matchup.

But you get the penalty regardless of make or miss.  Foul Dwight but not enough to prevent the dunk, and you give him two shots and possession.  That’s a huge swing, so you have to know that the foul will impact the shot.

What are your thoughts, Bryan?

On Schizophrenia

What causes schizophrenia?  We really don’t know.

A new hypothesis suggests that schizophrenia is a developmental disorder, which involves epigenetics—that switching business. Our brain with its 100 billion neurons begins developing in utero but is not fully formed until age 25 or so. Brain development involves neurons migrating from their place of origin to their destination (neuron pruning is also involved). The trip is set in motion by a gene switching on. If there were a glitch in this switching mechanism, it would not become apparent until adolescence, when brain development goes into high gear, and also when schizophrenia commonly flares up. This new insight is promising, but it doesn’t quite capture Susanne’s case, since she was in her early 30s when the disaster arrived.

Thanks for the link, John.

It’s time for Donald Sterling to go.

The New York Times is reporting that the NBA will investigate comments that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made that made his racism quite clear.  Look, if the stodgy old-boys club that was Major League Baseball in the 1990s can force Marge Schott out for being am embarrassing racist, sexist, and homophobic old coot, then the NBA can make Sterling give up his ownership stake.  Schott is the touchstone for the act that is clearly necessary.  I was embarrassed by her ownership of a team that I loved.

Life in the Slow Lane

TL;DR: freepress has a position demanding net neutrality, and there’s a WhiteHouse.gov We the People petition about net neutrality.  If you know the discussion, go sign if you are inclined.  If you’re unfamiliar, read the below and come back to sign when you’re done.  Thanks.  —GFM


 

In the summer of 2013, I interned at The MITRE Corporation in McLean, Virginia.  My office was actually in Tysons Corner,1 and both cities are fairly close to where the Capital Beltway crosses from Virginia into Maryland on the northwest side as it circles Washington, D.C, with Tysons on the outside and McLean inside it.

I carpooled with Brad, a law student at Vanderbilt.  We figured that two professional guys who have gone to graduate school would have more in common with random undergraduate interns.  We stayed in the same dorm apartment — the details of that are a whole other matter — at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, which is a good chunk from the Beltway.  The layout was something like this:

Geof's Commute to MITRE from GMU
Geof’s Commute to MITRE from GMU

You can see that there’s a lot of red there.  It took us about 25 minutes in the morning.  The evening commute was different.  I think that our best in the first two weeks was 35 minutes.  We came down the middle of those three route lines, exiting the Beltway for US 50.  We’d head west from there, cutting down to the southwest, as you can see.  GMU is just outside Fairfax on the southern limits, so getting there required going through Fairfax traffic after going through all the major thoroughfares.

On the Thursday of our second week of the internship, I decided to look into the 495 Express Lanes.  That night, it took us 65 minutes to get back to campus.  As we sat stacked up on Lee Highway, I brought up the express lane.  Brad told me to do it if the money made sense.  I ran the numbers, and they did.  I picked one up at lunch on Friday, and we gave it a test that evening.

We got home in 28 minutes.

We had enough flexibility in our commute to give our friend Siggy — who had been taking the bus from Annandale to Tysons, walking a couple of miles on either side — a ride to Annandale, which you can see was out of our way, but not by much given that the Express Lane exit we used turned left for Annandale and right for Fairfax.  Dropping Siggy off put us coming back into Fairfax on VA-236, which was a better road to campus than the one that the express lanes give you.  It cost us maybe five minutes to save him an hour on the bus, and it was worth it to be kind to our friend and have a third person in the car for conversational purposes.  (I love and miss you, Siggy!)

None of this happens Brad and I weren’t degreed professionals making north of $30/hr.  We could afford to cut the lines.  Hell, I used to half-heartedly laugh at the people stuck in traffic between VA-7 and I-66.  “Those poor bastards.  I’ve been there,” I thought.  Because I had the money to pay for the privilege of driving on a controlled-access road, I had more free time available to do as I wished.

If I’d been making $20/hr, I would’ve been sitting in traffic.  One of those days, as we were zipping down the road at 55 mph2 , we heard an NPR story about priority queueing all across the country, from theme parks to emergency rooms to, yes, vehicle express lanes.  We really didn’t say very much.

Jumping the queue has become a part of the American Way, and I think that’s a dangerous thing.  Waiting in line is the most democratic thing there is: we’re served one-at-a-time based on our arrival.  It doesn’t matter if we’re a CEO or a postman; single, married, or divorced; pretty or ugly; fat or fit; kind or unpleasant: we just wait.  None of us like to wait — just ask anyone about the DMV, or wait, just check Twitter and Facebook — but we all have to.  Frankly, it’s pretty crazy that line-jumping should become a profit center for a service provider, but it’s 2014, and we’re there.

So let’s jump into net equality — or what some people call net neutrality.  I like the former term, because it democratizes the Internet: every packet gets its turn.  Neutrality implies belligerence. Anyway, the EFF has a good primer on net neutrality equality, and I think that you should read it if you’re not up to speed.

“These aren’t alike at all!” you’re saying.  “Paying to go faster on the road isn’t the same as paying for better Internet access.”  And yes, you’re right, in a way.  There’s a fundamental difference.

With vehicle express lanes, the people paying for higher-priority access are the people directly benefitting from the service: the people able to get to and from locations faster than they once did.  With net inequality, Netflix is going to be able to pay for priority, but Netflix doesn’t get the benefit — its customers do.  No family was going to pay Brad and I more to get home from MITRE faster, and MITRE sure wasn’t going to pay us more if we could sleep in 15 more minutes.  But Netflix can sell better access to their customers, and not just from a quality-of-service issue, which customers have always thought (rightly) was Netflix’s problem and not theirs.

The problem here is simple: it’ll be a race to the top of the heap.  The obvious players — Google (for YouTube primarily), Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, ESPN, the sports streaming sites, etc.3 — are going to pay.  Where are they going to get that money?  You will be the ones paying a premium for an improvement on service that was, quite likely, adequate in the first place.  But I’d be very surprised if there’s Netflix and Netflix Premium, with the former on the Beltway and the latter in the Express Lanes.  No, I expect that everyone’s going to get to pay the freight for the better access, and that will mean:

  • Higher fees
  • More ads in our faces
  • More creepy data mining assented to in inscrutable Terms of Service that no one really reads anyway

… among others.  In other words, we’re going to pay for this access either by being a great customer or the product itself.  As someone who is on the record about not trusting free Internet services, I worry about the last two.  In the first case, I’m not sure that higher fees are going to excite me.

But I’m following the line of argument that everyone follows, and it’s worth discussing, but there’s another thing to consider here.

The people that are making these decisions to allow for priority pricing — for net inequality — are the very people who have the financial resources to skip any damn line that they want. They think that people will be attracted to priority pricing because the world that they know is priority pricing.  These decisions are made by people who either pay for priority lines or pay someone to stand in line for them.  Of course this seems like an attractive proposition to them, because they’ve grown accustomed to it.  I’m not arguing that any of the people making these decisions are bad people.4 But I am arguing that you’re going to be okay with inequality and for the “winners” retrenching their gains with legislation and regulation.

Let’s be honest: the services that have the resources to pay for priority pricing are the ones already running a profit or bilking money from investors.  But many of those that would be paying for priority pricing are actors that wouldn’t have been able to reach these dizzying heights with an unequal Internet.  It’s classic retrenching: garner success and then build walls around it to keep contenders out.  While that’s a classic American business practice, we shouldn’t let our Internet — the one that our tax dollars, cable bills, and phone bills — have paid for to suddenly become unequal.  The amazing disruption that is the Internet should be allowed to retain its disruptive power.

If net inequality were possible in 2006, just after NewsCorp bought them, Myspace could’ve built a wall around its part of the Internet that would’ve made it impossible for Facebook to supplant them.  Whether or not you feel that we upgraded when we got Facebook — as a former GeoCities user, I think that we did — we couldn’t have gotten there if Rupert Murdoch had been able to outspend Facebook’s investors.

The Internet should be an amazing, chaotic, wonderful place, one that keeps participating providers honest and vigilant to interlopers.  Net inequality allows the current winners to stay winners while sending us the bill.  I won’t sit still for that.

[ETA: The New York Times‘s editorial is worth reading.]


  1. I still want to put the apostrophe in there 

  2. The speed limit increase to 70MPH happened while we were there — I dropped the hammer in the WRX to celebrate. 

  3. This list is not exhaustive.  I’m running up at 1000 words here. 

  4. Their judgment is questionable, but I’m not going to get into their moral fiber.