Saturday, December 15, 2012

They say "knives kill people. Should we make them illegal?" There are 5 knives that are illegal in New York State. They are gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife and cane sword. Also any knife or dagger with intent to commit a crime is illegal.

They say "cars can be used to kill people. Should cars be illegal?" You have to get a license to operate a car. You have to register the car and get insurance. Cars are used to transport people. Knives are used to prepare food. 

Guns are used to kill things. Plain and simple.

Why can't we pass more stict gun control laws?

Friday, December 14, 2012


If we can't talk about gun control on a day like today, when can we? We are a nation of children. We are told you can't talk about it during or immediately after tragedies. Then no one does in between. The NRA rule the debate meanwhile there are over 12,000 gun murders in this country every year. Four 9/11's every year and we do nothing about it.

And where do the guns come from? They're stolen them from legal fun owners. If less guns are legally owned, then less guns are stolen. If you want to own a shotgun for hunting and home protection, fine with me. You want anything else? Join a militia or shooting club and they should remain there, locked in a secure armory vault. 

Mental health is a HUGE problem. As long as there are hundreds of millions of legal and illegal guns in this country, no amount of legislation is going to prevent insane people from obtaining and committing masacres with guns. That's why I tend towards less guns. It's impossible to know in each and every person weather or not they have the potential for a mass murder in them. So let's err on the side of caution.
I'm a realist though. We can't wave a wand and get rid of them all. So we should slowly close the spigot and aggressively bring in illegal guns. Let's aim for 20 years and 90% of all guns. As guns on the street both legal and illegal begin to dwindle then institute the actual Second Amendment. It says:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It mentions militia and state before arms and doesn't say anything about personal or home protection. I think the government absolutely has the right and duty to strongly regulate who can and cannot possess guns and what type should be allowed. I would argue for less and very few respectively. I also think anything not used for hunting should be kept locked in a gun club or militia armory vault.

NRA talking points are tired, logically flawed and easily defeated. But because of money the NRA can ruin a politicians career and make any talk of gun control political suicide. And there is nothing a politician values higher than his own skin other than easy money.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NHL Lockout 3

This entry was sparked by a Facebook conversation with a friend after reading this Grantland article.

League revenues have increased 50% in the time since the 2004 lockout. Revenue was $2.2 billion in 2006 and up to 3.2 billion in 2012. Revenue is up 52% from 2004 pre-lockout.

Average player salaries:
-2003-04 1.8 mil,
-2005-06 1.4 mil (they didn't give up anything? Remember revenue went up 7% that season)
-2006-07 1.9 mil.
-2011-12 2.4 mil  

So that's a post lockout increase of 71%. It's a pre lockout increase of 33%. After the league's 52% increase it's a wash to me.

If you're worried about the fans I don't see how, for a moment, you can be pro-owners. It is after all a LOCKOUT! It's not a player strike. The owners could have negotiated while the season played out. The players offered to do just that. The lockout, especially a season long one, is the nuclear option. The owners hit the button without hesitation or diplomacy.

I cannot say it enough, the league has been making RECORD REVENUE!

This isn't 2004. The game isn't dying. It's got issues but nothing life threatening. If anything, it's healthier than ever. This move by the owners is completely unjustified. And this is a negotiation. Instead of talking and exchanging proposals, the NHL execs and owners storm out of every meeting like petulant children.

I don't give a shit about egos. There's a lot of egos at fault in this debacle. The players aren't blameless. They've already lost a lot more money than they're negotiating over. Both sides have.

And like the original Grantland article says the owners don't exactly risk the money it seems like they do. The city of Buffalo owns FNC and let's the Sabres do with it add they please. Glendale, AZ built an arena for the Coyotes and now gives the league $25 million a season for the privilege of letting the Coyotes stay.

Players on the other hand are the ones blocking shots, bare knuckle boxing and risking their brains for the owner's teams. They deserve a seat at the table, a voice in negotiations and fair split of the revenue. 

The owners set the salary cap. They signed the long term contracts. They allowed their GMs to do those things. Now we're to believe it's solely the players to blame for putting pen to paper? Was the Devils owner blameless in the Kovulchuk contact cap circumvention

In this lockout the fans will lose no matter what the outcome is. If the owners win you surely don't think they'll lower ticket prices or find another way to pass savings on to fans do you? No, they get to keep more of our money. If the players win, they get to keep more of our money. If there is another lost season I'm sure the fans will be expected to make up the lost revenue over the next few seasons. Oh they won't say it. We won't ask either. It'll happen though.

In the end the tickets cost more every year. The beer costs more every year. Parking costs more every year. The jerseys cost more every year. Watching the games on TV cost more every year as NBC passes the costs paid to the NHL onto fans by way of higher fees to cable providers which causes our cable bills to rise. Property taxes go up as teams demand more luxurious accommodations in arenas that they keep the profits of. No matter who wins, we lose. Oh, we get to watch our beloved sport and teams. We get something out of it. But as the costs continue to rise we grumble and pay. But we never ask questions or consider not paying.

In all of the numbers I quoted above, league revenue and player salaries, both increases have far out paced inflation. Trust me, I believe both sides are greedy, I just happen to think its the owners who are greedier this time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

NHL Lockout 2

This is infuriating! The NHL is clearly not negotiating in good faith. The two sides sit down and talk and EVERY (if it was possible for that word to be burning with my hatred it would be) proposal the players submit, the league arrogantly dismisses. Instead of saying we'll take this, no to this or come up here down here, they jump up like petulant children and walk out. Then they give some short press conference and bitch that the 
players aren't speaking the same language. At least the players are speaking.

This is obviously how the owners became the billionaires they are today; by grabbing and snatching for every red cent in sight, elbowing and bullying everyone around them. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NHL Lockout

I'm having a terrible dilemma. I love hockey, the NHL and specifically the Buffalo Sabres. The league reportedly made over 3 billion dollars last year. The TV contract is the most lucrative in league history. More fans are watching NHL games than in a generation. The Winter Classic is an unqualified success. The NHL is doing great business these days.

But the NHL is locked out. Again. The players and the league are fighting over how to divide the revenue. As people like to say it's millionaires fighting billionaires.

As I said above the league doesn't face the systemic problems it faced in 2004. Most of the teams are doing fine. 10-12 teams are doing amazing business. The game itself has some issues. Predatory hits and fighting are still causing players to suffer brain injuries. The league has some issues but nothing that justifies burning another season in a lockout.

So my dilemma is this. How do I not run back to the NHL after it resumes? Watching Sabres games is one of my favorite things to do. Since my childhood I've loved watching my team. I have a Sabres mini pack. I have their logo tattooed on my leg.

How do I get my hockey fix and tell the NHL it is NOT OK to lockout again? When the NHL fights its players like this it's the fans who get hurt. Yet they do it because they know we'll run back with our wallets open.

They won't stop until the fans take money from the owners. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

No we Chant

I had a thought about Chan Gailey today that I found infuriating. Now I'm not a football coach so many of the details escape me. I played little league and have watched the NFL my whole so I feel I have a pretty good idea what football is all about. I think some of the best teams are the best managed. It's true in all sports but especially in the NFL. The teams are so bloated with players, coaches and other staff that organization is a major key.
The Bills obviously have a problem with this. Having a 94 year old, absentee owner can't help.
More to the point of the coaching are my feelings about Chan Gailey. At first I liked the idea of hiring Chan. He's a guy with an okay record in the NFL who has a history of working well with average quarterbacks. He also is a details guy. He wants his teams good in the fundamentals. I love that. I want to see a team out there that at the very least won't commit a ton of penalties or waste timeouts. To Chan's credit this has mostly been the case. I know this last week's loss to New England, where they committed a near team record number of penalties, is an outlier. For the purposes of this entry it's mostly moot.
What's bothering me most is Chan's inability to adapt his game plan. The Bills do not blitz the quarterback. Their defense is 32 in the league but Chan will be damned if he is going to change the blitz  to mix it up. He says he's protecting his inexperienced corners but they're getting burned on a regular basis already, so what's the point? Maybe if these opposing quarterbacks were lying on their backs more often the corners would be fine. Chan Gailey is coach so I guess we'll never find out.
CJ Spiller became the first running back in 60 years to be averaging 7.6 yards per carry after 60 carries. This last game against the Patriots he actually averaged 7.8 yards per carry! Will Chan give it to him more? Nope. He's decided to spilt time with Freddy Jackson who is averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Don't get me wrong, Freddy is great! He crushes defenders and always seems to get 2 or 3 yards more than he should. But to neglect a weapon like Spiller who only got 9 carries last week is downright criminal!
CJ Spiller is 14th in the league in rushing but has at least 36 fewer rushes than every running back in the top 20! Of the 4 backs immediately ahead of him on the list, 40 yards separates their rushing totals. The other 4 backs average 45 more carries than Spiller's 87. That's right, 50% more carries. Keep giving him 9 carries a game Chan.
Last year Chan's system took the league by storm! Injuries and Chan's inability to adapt his scheme to changing defenses cost the Bills a lot of wins and maybe a playoff spot. This year he, and his faith in an average QB's arm as opposed to 2 exceptional running backs, has cost them at least 2 more wins. Every week after they loose he says the team doesn't execute. Shouldn't the coach make changes when players are failing to execute his plan? Aren't there always generals depicted in war movies who will never change the attack plan despite overwhelming loses?
Despite the worst defense in the league the Bills should still be 5-5 and 1 game out of the division lead and wild card. Instead they're staring at a blacked out Thursday night game (which I was suckered into buying tickets to), another 5 to 6 win season and another 10th overall pick. The 10th pick will not get an Andrew Luck and the Bills run of mediocrity will continue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Verizon's Upgrade Fee

Damn you Verizon Wireless! This is a conversation I just had with a Verzion customer support person regarding their new $30 device upgrade fee. 

Amanda W: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service.  May I help you with your order today?
Me: I'm really aggravated at Verizon's new $30 upgrade fee.
Amanda W: I understand, as it's a very sudden change. However, Verizon's upgrade fee is less than companies such as AT&T and Sprint and will help to benefit the network and coverage.
Amanda W: Also, I can check to see if you're able to bill this to your account and if so, nothing will be due today.
Amanda W: Would you like me to check that for you?
Me: My new upgrade date was 4/20. The fee went into effect 2 days later and I missed upgrading before the fee was in effect.
Me: "Also, I can check to see if you're able to bill this to your account and if so, nothing will be due today."
Me: I don't understand what you're asking
Amanda W: Purchases and fees can be billed to your account so that you'd pay them when the next bill is due instead of at the time of purchase.
Me: I pay Verizon over $210 per month. I've been with Verizon over 7 years now. I think the new $30 fee is petty.
Me: "Verizon reports 'strong' Q1 earnings: $27 billion revenue, 2.2 million iPhone activations" do you really need $30 more from loyal customers?
Amanda W: Verizon is interested in keeping you as a customer which is why the upgrade fee is lower than other carriers. However, there are many services that could use improvement and the upgrade fee will be able to provide that. Verizon's coverage area is larger than most other carriers because they invest more in their network.
Me: Verizon was making record revenue before the upgrade fee. I reject your explanation. I feel like I'm stuck. We're locked in because of our family plans not being on the same schedule and can't switch together. This is supposed to be a free market but I'm forced to pay and can't switch.
Me: There is no explanation you can give me that will make me okay with this fee. I will have to be forced to pay it and be soured at Verizon (which I have almost never had a problem with) or I will be forced to keep a 2 year old phone that doesn't run as well as it used to.
Me: I didn't like Time Warner's service for cable and switched to DirecTV. Unfortunately I don't have that option here. Verizon will force this fee on me, customer satisfaction be damned.
Amanda W: While I'm unable to waive this fee, we have a contact section on the site (the link that says Contact Us) and you can send an email or call someone that might be able to discuss further the fee and what options there are for the upgrade.
Me: Besides I already said I only had a 2 day window before your new upgrade fee went into effect.
Me: I AM CONTACTING YOU! So I've been wasting my time here talking to you? Boy this is awful. Amanda Verizon should be ashamed of itself. I will be contacting my congressman. This is a monopolistic extortion being conducted by AT&T, Verizon ect...
Amanda W: I understand your frustration but I'm unable to change that for you. If you would like to discuss with someone who might be able to do that, you may use the link I mentioned.

I have since contacted Congressman Brian Higgin's office with my complaint. Let's see what happens. 

Damn you Verizon Wireless!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Thoughts

The folowing is a slightly expanded series of tweets from earlier today.

When I see someone on social media say "He is risen" I want to say "Yes I had a coffee in my hand at 5:45 am today." But I don't out of respect for other's beliefs. Having said that I wish ALL religious people had the same level of respect for other's beliefs, or lack thereof. Having said THAT, I am not saying that there aren't religious people who don't respect others beliefs. Triple negatives aside, yes there are tolerant religious people. In my opinion there aren't enough. Religion is, at its heart, intolerance. Sure you might feel tolerant but do you get scared when you look at a Muslim? Does it irk you when all Catholics are disparaged with the priest child molestation scandal? Do you cringe when you hear someone say "religion is the opiate of the masses?" How else can you believe that your way is the one true way and everyone else is wrong?

Only if one removes themselves from their dogma long enough to be pragmatic can they be tolerant. Then it's a slippery slope from dogmatic religious devotion to personal spirituality. I'm not saying there is no god or that all religion is inherently evil. I do think humanity would benefit from more free thought and private personal religion rather than my god is better than your god arguments.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thanks for nothing GOP

So we finally filed our taxes and because Republicans in the House of Representatives don't believe in climate change or energy efficiency (or the middle class) and didn't renew the energy tax credit we got nothing back for the very expensive energy efficient air conditioner and door we installed on our house last year. Tell me again how you care about the working class.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sabres Season (so far)

Quick entry on the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres .

First 15 Games 10-5-0 = 1.33 ppg
Next 33 Games 9-19-5 = .70 ppg From Lucic hit until All-Star Break. Ryan Miller is hurt and not on his game.
Next 25 Games 15-5-5 = 1.4 ppg With 9 games left. 2 points out of 8th place Washington.

No reason to think the Sabres can't play out at 1.4 PPG which would be 6-2-1 and good for 13 points. It would get them a season total of 91 points and should be enough to pass the Caps for 8th place. According to Sports Club Stats gives Buffalo a 66% chance of making the playoffs. Now let's hope it happens and that Pittsburgh doesn't finish 1st!