Uncommon Sense

April 13, 2022

Dissing Sports History

Filed under: Culture,History,The News — Steve Ruis @ 8:46 am
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Recently, NBC Sports dropped this factoid on us: “Joel Embiid averages more points per minute than anyone who has played at least 300 games — ever. He averages 0.83 points per minute, or about five points for every six minutes he plays.” They went on to gush “Embiid had 13 games this season with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds.” And, of course, to pump up Embiid’s chances to be voted Most Valuable Player for the season, they added “For 31 games this season, Embiid averaged better than a point per minute. Think about that. It’s tied for the fourth-longest streak of its kind in the last 40 NBA seasons.”


In the 1961-1962 NBA season, Wilt Chamberlain scored 50.4 points per game (including 45 50+ point games, two 70-point games, and twelve 60-point games) and he played 48.4 -minutes per game. (Question: Since there are only 48 minutes of playing time, how did he get to 48.4 minutes per game? Answer: there were seven overtime games.) Of course, he also lead the league in rebounding with 27.2 rebounds per game.)

Now, where is my calculator. Let’s see. He played in all 82 games, so 50.4 points per game divided by 48.4 minutes per game is . . . carry the one, uh, . . . 1.04 points per minute played.

So, how did NBC Sports come up with “Joel Embiid averages more points per minute than anyone who has played at least 300 games — ever.” Gosh, I guess it was just laziness, since the record book is wide open. Oh, it was Philadelphia-based NBC Sports? Maybe that explains it as Mr. Embiid plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.

And the ironic part of this is that Mr. Chamberlain played for the Philadelphia NBA team in 1961-62 when he set those records. Standard sports reporting technique is too refer to the glorious sport past of a city as often as possible, so phrases like “Not since the amazing feats of Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors has . . . blah, blah. . . .” are the norm, but my guess is the low wage, twenty-something “reporters” at NBC Sports aren’t old enough to have useful memories and aren’t encouraged by editors/producers to check the record book.

March 19, 2022

Russia-Ukraine War?

Filed under: Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 10:57 am
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The title of this piece is a variant of myriad article titles I have read over the past week. But this is not a war. In war you have armies, generals, battles, etc. Have you heard the name of a Ukraine general or army group mentioned? And battles described? Plain and simple, this is an invasion and only an invasion. Those headlines should be . . .

Invasion of Ukraine by Russia

March 8, 2022

Fox News Gets It Wrong Again . . . Way Wrong

The irony is the commenter was whiny about liberal disinformation, then followed it with this whopper! You have to read it to believe it.

View at Medium.com

January 8, 2022

You Can’t Make This Shit Up!

Filed under: Business,Culture,Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:56 pm
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In the news I read that “California deputy district attorney Kelly Ernby died from complications of COVID this week after years of opposing vaccine mandates.” Ah, another dose of irony that will have no effect on her “followers” as they are vaccinated against irony.

A quote of hers in the coverage drew my attention and needs a response, I think. Here it is:

“I don’t think that the government should be involved in mandating what vaccines people are taking,” she explained. “I think that’s a decision between doctors and their patients…. If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?”

Ah, let me think . . . governmental mandates, mandates, ah, we are mandated to:
• drive on the right side of the road
• pay our taxes
• get a driver’s license to drive a car on public roads
• requiring drivers on public roads to possess insurance
• that doctors, lawyers, and hair dressers be certified
• file a federal tax return by April 15th
• that medicines be proven effective before being allowed on the market
• that cars meet minimal safety standards
• that carcinogenic chemicals not be added to food, cosmetics, etc.
• and . . . and . . .
I could go on (and on and on . . . ) but I think you get the point.

These anti-government idiots seem to think that our governments have been imposed upon us by Martian Communists instead of them being the mechanism by which we act in concert. Our government (name which one you want: state, local, school district, federal, etc.) is “us acting together.” And yes, we do not want “too much government” or “too little government” but just “the right amount of government.” I don’t see how a comment like “If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?” helps us find the right amount.

Plus this idiot is, excuse me, was a California State legal official; she should know that children have to be vaccinated to be admitted to a public school. The “government” has been mandating such vaccinations for decades! Plus businesses can mandate that their employees get vaccinated to continue to be employed. So, businesses should have the power but not us acting collectively?

We have to stop electing idiots to public office and yes, I do know they have a constituency. But even that constituency should realize that having an idiot representing their interests is not to their advantage.

November 21, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse Redux

Filed under: Culture,The Law,The News — Steve Ruis @ 9:28 am
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So, the criminal trial is over and Kyle Rittenhouse is off the hook, right? Well . . .

Mr. Rittenhouse is off the hook for jail time, but now, one would expect, the civil suits should begin. I believe “wrongful death” cases will be brought, one for each victim, and I do not expect Mr. Rittenhouse to win all of these or even one of these.

The penalties in wrongful death suits can sometimes be discharged in bankruptcy courts but that is not a done deal. The amounts of money in such penalties are often tied to the amounts of money the dead people could have made had they lived, so Mr. Rittenhouse is looking at a future of being a very poor person, or . . . if the right wing assholes of this country embrace him, he could have a decent life but, of course, his notoriety will follow him.

June 28, 2021

It Is Easy to Be Confused

Filed under: Culture,Medicine,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 11:47 am
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I read two blog posts recently, one that stated that none of the vaccinated (in the US) are dying from COVID-19 and the other (from the UK) that only the vaccinated are dying from COVID-19. Actually, both are true.

In the US, the unvaccinated are many, just under half of the population. In the UK, the percent vaccinated is approaching two thirds.

The vaccines are reported to be in the mid-90’s% in preventive effectiveness, which is not 100%, so the vaccinated will still be getting sick, but the vaccines also prevent more severe symptoms, so the vaccinated getting the disease will be dying at a lower rate.

Consider a hypothetical region that is 100% vaccinated. What is the death rate of the unvaccinated? It is zero, of course. The death rate of the vaccinated must be higher, by default, but what people don’t hear is that the death rate is much lower than it had been for the unvaccinated. So, the vaccinated dying at a higher rate than the unvaccinated is a logical consequence of a vaccination program.

I wish that headline writers would strive to be more accurate and more complete.

Otherwise you end up with people seeing “None of the Vaccinated are Dying” and “Only the Vaccinated are Dying” and those who are not detail oriented throw up their hands and claim that “you can’t trust the news media because everything changes at the drop of a hat. Or the ideologues choose which stories to “pass on” to others who are like-minded.

In writing this I realize that a great many of the “issues of the day” have been treated the same way, exacerbating our divisions.

Do you have any ideas as to how to fix this? (Obviously expecting more from the general population isn’t going to work as it hasn’t worked for forever.)

June 27, 2021

Donald Trump 2.0?

Filed under: Culture,Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
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Before we have dispatched Donald Trump 1.0 people are trying to identify Donald Trump 2.0. My brilliant partner worried when Donald Trump was first elected that someone would come along who actually had the talent and desire to do the job in a Trumpian manner, and we would then really be in trouble.

A post today on Medium.com had the subtitle of “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be a GOP favorite to attempt to continue the former president’s brand of tyranny in 2024.” The title of the piece was “The Threat of Donald Trump 2.0 Is Beginning to Emerge.”

This is an abuse of the version labeling system.

While catchy and titillating as a title, the facts don’t match it, DeSantis is at best Trump v1.01.

He does not have the savvy, intelligence, or moxie to make it past v1.1 in my estimation. He is Trumpian in a slightly better looking package.

This is a little like when television became immensely popular. People worried about the effect it would have on education, children in toto, our culture, etc. I didn’t worry so much as I hadn’t seen anyone capable of using it effectively.

Have you seen a political TV ad recently? I stopped watching them years ago, but I occasionally watch one to see if anything has changed. So far, nothing has changed. There is nothing of value in a political TV ad and there are so many of them that any which might be effective are diluted out in a sea of mediocrity. (And they pay consultants millions of dollars to produce that crap.) So, no one has learned to use TV effectively, although Donald Trump did a better job of that than any previous presidential candidate.

The big threat right now is not Donald Trump, v1.0 or v2.0. The problem now is the antidemocratic Republican and Democratic parties. Yes, I know, one is worse that the other, I don’t care; they are both execrable. The uber-rich have captured our politics and now the entire system serves their interests and not ours. And, if you think their interests parallel yours, what planet are you from?

June 26, 2021

How Sloppy Language Misleads Us All

Filed under: Culture,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 10:38 am

With the release of the Pentagon’s “assessment” of “UAPs,” that is Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” more popularly known as UFOs, Unidentified Flying Objects, The Guardian offered a piece with the title “How pop culture has shaped our understanding of aliens.”


We have no understanding of aliens . . . zero, zip, zilch.

We have never met an alien, we have never studied an alien, we have never questioned an alien. All aliens known to us so far are either: (a) fictional (am a big fan, am I) or (b) provisional in that they are based upon reports of individuals who claim they encountered such beings.

I am a big fan of fictional aliens because they offer a mechanism for authors to consider different ways to think, act, and live, without judgment. Very cool.

But as to any “understanding” of aliens, we have exactly none. If you think you do, a reality check is warranted.

A better title would be “How Pop Culture has Shaped our Image of Aliens,” or something similar.

August 6, 2020

Foot, Meet Bullet

It is a good thing the modern GOP doesn’t understand or even recognize irony. Because if they did, their Irony Meters would break over this one. Apparently, President Trump has decided that the news media are to be banned from the Republican National Convention.

This comes from a president who was elected largely through billions of dollars of free advertising provided by the news media in the run-up to the 2016 election. the news media were so into being there to see what batshit crazy comments Candidate Trump would make now, that they covered every word he uttered. (MSNBC used a count-down timer on screen to time how long it was until Trump appeared again so you wouldn’t take bathroom breaks away from their channel. Yes, that MSNBC.)

Since people were in a state of “I can’t believe he said that out loud,” they tuned in for hours and both the GOP and the news media made money hand over fist.

So, Mr, Trump’s Brilliant Idea is to ban the news media from the single biggest free media event leading up to a presidential election.

Crack! Shit, there goes another Irony Meter. <sigh>

In the GOP lexicon, the antonym for greed is stupidity, I think.

July 2, 2020

The Misuse of COVID-19 Statistics

Filed under: Culture,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:25 pm

I know Americans are virtually statistically illiterate but one thing keeps bothering me.

I read today in a local Chicago newsletter that “Illinois saw 828 new confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 30 more deaths in the past day. Both numbers were increases from previous days this week, but are still part of an overall decline since the peak of the crisis in mid-May. The weekend’s deaths were the lowest numbers in three months.”


The deaths recorded today were of people who contracted the virus days or weeks ago. The numbers of cases reported and deaths for any particular day/week etc. are not correlated. If, say, it takes 13 days on average to die from COVID-19, then the deaths of any day are linked to the number of diagnosed cases from 13 days ago.

The US as a whole has seen a recent surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 with the daily numbers reaching record levels. Then people are commenting that the brighter side is that the number of deaths hasn’t gone up. They need to wait a bit to even know what the effect of that rise in diagnosed cases results in.

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