Mike Kueber's Blog

August 30, 2014

An open letter to Nate Silver on ranking NFL coaches

Filed under: Sports — Mike Kueber @ 4:23 pm

Dear Nate,

You might have noticed that ESPN has issued a list of the NFL’s best coaches, headed by the Patriot’s Bill Belichick and the Seahawk’s Pete Carroll. The list prompted Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on First Take to get into an argument over whether the Cowboy’s Jason Garrett was overrated at #30.

I was wondering if you could take this listing out of the realm of subjective and into the arena of the objective, much like they already do with tennis players and golfers. Of course, unlike tennis players and golfers, football coaches couldn’t be rated exclusively on their Ws and Ls. You would have to include consideration of the talent they had to work with, the unlucky injuries that occurred on their teams, and perhaps even their ability to develop skilled players over time.

I suspect you might be able to think of some other criteria that reflects on a person’s ability to coach successfully.

I would love to see your list.


Mike Kueber

April 5, 2013

Getting to a lean, tightly-run city

Last week, I went to the downtown library to attend a VIA presentation on the status of its streetcar project.  While waiting for the presentation to begin, I decided to peruse the library’s New Book section.  That is where I encountered a new category called Express Collection for the most popular new books.  Each book in the Express Collection was stickered, “7 day checkout; no renewals or holds.”

Checking out a popular new book from the San Antonio library often requires placing a hold on the book and then waiting several weeks.  With this new category, I found many desirable new books just waiting to be grabbed. 

With the excitement of finding something free, I grabbed three even though there was no way I would be able to read them in seven days.  They were:

  1. The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
  2. Tap Dancing to Work by Carol J. Loomis
  3. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Nate Silver is famous for his NT Times political column titled FiveThirtyEight (the number of people in Congress), but his signal skill is prognosticating.  In his book, Silver applies this skill to sports, poker, the financial world, weather, earthquakes, and global warming.  I just scratched the surface of the book during the seven-day checkout period, but Silver’s thinking, especially as related to poker, seems both brilliant and common-sensical.

Which is a perfect segue to Loomis’s book.  Her book is mostly a compilation of Fortune magazine articles on the most brilliant, common-sensical man, Warren Buffett.  Although Buffet is a veritable font of wisdom, something he said about running a lean operation seems expecially appropriate to my race for the San Antonio City Council:

  • Our experience has been that the manager of an already high-cost operation frequently is uncommonly resourceful in finding new ways to add overhead, while the manager of a tightly run operation usually continues to find additional methods to curtail costs, even when his costs are already well below those of his competitors.”

One of my Council opponents, Ron Nirenberg, reminds me of the high-cost operator.  In his campaign brochure, he says:

  • Emergency services are the single largest investment of our tax dollars, and we need to make sure that we don’t cut them in an effort to “get lean” during the budget process….  Police and fire should be our top budget priority even in lean years.

Does that sound like someone who will continually strive for a tightly run operation?  No, it sounds like someone who considers “getting lean” to be something of a last resort.  And that is not what San Antonio needs.

January 2, 2013

FiveThirtyEight weighs-in on the Fiscal Cliff compromise

Filed under: Issues,Media,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:30 pm
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FiveThirtyEight by Nate Silver is one of the most popular political blogs in America.  (Its name is taken from the number of presidential electors.)  San Antonio’s Mayor Julian Castro has declared it to be his favorite, and I agree.  It is not only interesting, but also credible, as proven by its detailed predictions about last year’s presidential election. 

Today’s posting of FiveThirtyEight in the NY Times provides an excellent framework for evaluating the Fiscal Cliff compromise.  According to Silver, the compromise can be evaluated from three perspectives:

  1. How much does it redistribute income?  Although Silver is a liberal, he is not running for office, and this allows him the freedom to admit that part of the liberal agenda is to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.  Clearly, from this perspective the compromise was a great success because most of the new taxes were imposed on America’s high earners and only a bit of it (expiration of temporary FICA cuts) was imposed on low earners.
  2. What is the ratio of tax increases to spending cuts?  Republican presidential candidates were ridiculed in the media for arguing that they would reject $9 in spending cuts if the cost was $1 in tax increases.  I wonder if the media will now ridicule the balance in this compromise with $40 of tax increases for every $1 of spending cuts.
  3. How much stimulus spending is included?  From this perspective, the compromise is more balanced.  The extension of unemployment benefits and a few business tax credits will provide some stimulus, but those will likely be outweighed by taxes on the rich and the FICA tax on almost everyone.

Prior to the compromise, several pundits (mostly conservative) warned that President Obama might drive too hard of a bargain and that this will come back to haunt him.  I am “modestly optimistic” (to use one of Obama’s malaprops) that those pundits were correct and that Americans will now rise up and insist on significant spending cuts as part of the Debt Ceiling compromise.

September 29, 2011

Chris Christie

Filed under: People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 3:59 am
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There has been a lot of buzz about New Jersey governor Chris Christie entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  Consistent with that buzz, the latest Intrade.com betting odds reveal that Chris Christie has passed Sarah Palin and all other candidates in the Republican field not named Romney or Perry as the most likely nominee.

The famous NY Times political blog titled FiveThirtyEight recently considered the effect of Christie’s entry into the race.   The author of the blog, Nate Silver, suggested that Christie’s record as a moderate on gun control, global warming, immigration, and same-sex marriage would cause him to take more votes from Romney than from Perry.  That suggestion makes perfect sense.

But Silver does not make sense when he suggests that Christie and Romney may slug it out as the only viable, electable candidates, “with Mr. Perry and the other conservatives reduced to competing for a minority of delegates in especially conservative states like Iowa and parts of the Deep South.”  There are plenty of conservative states outside the Deep South, and there are plenty of conservative Republican-primary voters in every state.

If Rick Perry proves to be nonviable, the conservatives might look for someone else to challenge Romney, but they won’t be looking for another moderate.

P.S., my ultra-conservative friend Kevin says that Christie’s weight is as much a problem as his several RINO positions.  He can’t imagine America choosing as president someone as obese as Christie.