A Scientific Approach to Journalism That Can Mitigate Partisanship

One of the things that stands out for me during the Trump presidency is the number of hypotheses or narratives relating to Trump and the news involving him, most notably the Trump-Russia story.  By narratives, I mean the construction of a story outline that will help explain events, and also place the key people in roles–all of which provide a context that provides meaning and explicates the people and events. For example, one narrative has Trump as someone the Russians manipulated via blackmail, using Trump to achieve their objectives, including weakening the U.S. Another narrative places Trump as a great business man and deal-maker, who has made enemies of the elite out of resentment that Trump has proven them wrong. The Russia story is merely sour grapes.

Now, my sense is that all of these narratives are driven by some combination of the individual’s political biases as well as their ability to objectively perceive and analyze the world. (By the way, the same applies to me and the running hypotheses I have formed.) Which individuals and narratives stem primarily from the latter? Which ones do facts and logic support the most? Which ones are baseless and unreasonable, so much so that we could dismiss them? The answers aren’t clear or easy to answer. Because of that, judging these narratives and assessing the credibility of the individuals that embrace them can be really difficult. The result can be confusion and a sense of being lost in a sea of information. This is especially true for those not tracking the various stories on a regular basis, seeking a variety of sources.

In this thread, I’d like to suggest a solution to this as well as present the benefits for doing so. Continue reading “A Scientific Approach to Journalism That Can Mitigate Partisanship”

A Discussion About Political Christianity Vs. Religious Christianity

In this thread, I want to share my thoughts on how I understand the type of data below about evangelical Christians. (From NPR, 10/23/2016::

In 2011, 30 percent of white evangelicals said that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” Now (2016), 72 percent say so — a far bigger swing than other religious groups the poll studied.

To understand what’s going on here, I think breaking Christianity into two  forms –political and spiritual–is the most useful way to explain this.  Continue reading “A Discussion About Political Christianity Vs. Religious Christianity”

2017 NFL: General Thread

Thoughts on Mike Vrabel as New Titans Coach

I know little about Vrabel, but the fact that he’s a former DC makes it harder for me to get excited–namely because I’m fixated on developing Mariota. My hope is that Vrabel is good leader, organizer, excels with communicating and working with people, and will hire a good OC. Really, I think a lot comes down to who he hires and the system they’ll put in place. I was leaning toward an a really good west coast OC, because I think Mariota needs to work on throwing with his feet (and I suspect this will help with accuracy, especially on the deep passes). But I don’t care what system he plays in, as long as he improves his footwork. Having said that, I could see Mariota thriving in a spread-based system, which might not really help his footwork. I have mixed feelings about that. My preference is he plays in a system/for a coach that works on his footwork.

Another reason I’m lukewarm on Vrabel is that he doesn’t strike me as a great DC. But as I alluded to earlier, I don’t think he needs to be a great coordinator to be a really good head coach, assuming he brings in the right people.

This Should be a Major Goal for the NFL

Here’s the goal: The NFL should work to ensure that the highest number of teams have a good OL (or something similar like insuring that most teams have a competent OL at least). This thought occurred to me while listening to Mark Schlereth’s comments, regarding the declining NFL viewers. If I recall correctly, he mentioned that the quality of play has diminished, and he pointed to the OL play, mentioning you don’t notice the OL when they don’t play well, but you do, when they perform badly. While I think this is true, for me, I’m actually noticing good OL play because it seems more like the exception rather than the rule. (Well, maybe the bigger reason is that good OL play stands out in contrast to the Seahawk OL.) This is really bad for the league, and it’s believable that this has lead to declining interest. For me, bad OL play makes football almost unwatchable. On the flip side, good OL–even dominant OL play–makes for better offense, and I assume fans like that. I would much prefer more offense due to good OL play rather than adjusting rules to help the offense.

If I’m right, how exactly would the NFL go about trying to achieve this? Here are some ideas:

  1. Change the CBA to allow for more practice time. This seems especially crucial since colleges supposedly aren’t doing a good job of developing linemen;
  2. Increase the talent pool for linemen. One way to do this is to create a developmental league, with special emphasis on developing the OL. Another idea is to send NFL OL coaches to provide workshops to college and pop warner leagues. These coaches can not only train players, but help develop line coaches.

I spoke about not wanting to change rules to give more of an advantage to the offense, but if nothing else works, I’d considered changing rules to help the offensive linemen.

 

2017 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship

I can’t remember a time when I was more annoyed at the results of a game when the games didn’t involve my favorite teams.  I wasn’t just annoyed, but I was angry. Right now, I’m seriously thinking of not watching the Super Bowl. What’s different is that, in one case, I was annoyed because a team (Pats) won, more than the team (Jags) I rooted for lost, and in the other, the team I rooted for (Vikings) seemed to self-destruct. (I say “seems” because I stopped watching the game after Keenum’s INT, and I just fast-forwarded the game and saw the blowout score.)

Putting aside these bad feelings, let me say a provide, more rational comments:

  1. What can you say? Belichick is  the a great coach–maybe the best coach of all time, in any sport. I don’t think the Jaguars have a great defense, but they’re very good, and the Patriots dismantled them without Gronk for most of the game. (What the heck was with the Jaguar penalties? By the way, for a good defense, they sure seem to have trouble defending deep passes–either giving up completions or getting penalties. Also, as good as the four four is, both the Patriots and Steelers were able to stymie them and consistently give their QBs good pass protection–especially from the interior. The contrast with the Seahawks OL is quite stark for me.)
  2. I’m giving credit to Doug Pederson. Mike Lombardi mocked and ridiculed him (He recently admitted he was wrong), and I sort of bought into this. I think Pederson, for the way he’s using Foles, is unbelievable. Foles looked utterly terrible against the Raiders–I thought the Eagles had zero chance. But RPO plays and whatever else seems to have totally transformed Foles. Give credit to Foles as well.

It’s only a flesh wound, lambchop!

Google has given V-I a clean bill of health.  I’ll slowly re-add the old content, but I have to do it carefully since I don’t know exactly where the nastiness was.  In the interest of getting things up and running, I basically blew up the old site, although I still have the database, which has all the old posts and comments.  Importing it a few posts at a time could be a challenge, but I’m sure someone out there has done it, so I just have to learn how.

For now, feel free to re-add new posts for the old topics if you’d like, and I’ll integrate the old content as I get to it.  If there’s something you’re dying to review from the old stuff, let me know in the comments here, and I’ll see what I can do!

I’ll take care of all the cool sidebar stuff we had today or tomorrow.  How do I know what I’m listening to if I don’t have Mitchell’s Recent Spins in the right column?

Merry Christmas!

There’s no set purpose for the site; I’d like to use it in whatever way we find useful, whether that’s discussing the latest books we’ve read, planning someone’s birthday dinner, continuing online a discussion we began in person, or sharing stuff we found on the Web.

There are a couple of functional issues I still need to work out. First, if you don’t see a link at the bottom of this page saying “login,” you’ll have to point your web-browser to the login page if you want to log-in and post something here. This is where the login i.d. and password I gave you for Christmas come in.

Second, I’m giving you all village-idiot.org email addresses, but I’m having trouble making that function work. When it’s working, well, we can talk about that when we get there.

Here are some quick pointers for using this site effectively:

  1. Remember that passwords are case-sensitive. Type your password carefully, including any numbers, symbols, or punctuation marks.
  2. One of the first things you should do when you log-in the first time is change your password.
  3. Don’t be afraid to play around. You probably don’t have the access privileges necessary to do any real damage by hitting the wrong button. The worst that could happen is you spend a long time typing a brilliant message and you click the wrong thing and lose all your text (I’ve done it!). So maybe for these first few messages, you could stick to short messages.
  4. Don’t enter your personal email address when you post a message. I plan to make this site accessible to the public, so if you don’t want Spam, don’t post your email address.
  5. For longer messages (such as this one), type the first paragraph or so in the “entry body” text box (you’ll know what I mean when you log-in and try to post something) and then type the rest in the “extended entry” text box. This will make the front page look a lot nicer.
  6. If you post something about movies, please put “SPOILER” in the first paragraph so people who haven’t seen a film can choose to avoid your message.
  7. HTML tags work here (I’m using the OL tag in order to generate this numbered list, for example), so feel free to use it. If HTML is foreign to you, you can at least use the B, I, U and URL buttons to highlight parts of your text. Just highlight the word you want to make bold, then click on the B button and you’re golden.

The best way to figure out how to use this site is to play around with it, so feel free to post “test messages” and stuff. Please let me know if you have any problems or comments!

Ho, Ho, Ho!