Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just win, baby

We can safely assume that the Code of Conduct of the Minnesota Vikings is similar to the motto of the Oakland Raiders under Al Davis -- just win, baby:
The Vikings announced Monday that star running back Adrian Peterson -- deactivated for Sunday's Week 2 loss to the Patriots after being indicted on child abuse charges late Friday afternoon -- would practice fully throughout the week and "is expected to play" in Week 3 when the Vikings travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.

"Today's decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday's game, this is clearly a very important issue," Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. "On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved."
Last year, you might recall that reserve cornerback A. J. Jefferson got in trouble with the law for domestic violence. He was gone within hours.

So what do we conclude from this? The Vikings are just as mercenary as everyone else in the NFL. If Matt Asiata, Peterson's backup, had done what Peterson has admitted doing, he'd have received the A. J. Jefferson treatment.

So be it. The Vikings are going to do what they please and there's no sense in pretending otherwise. There are codes of conduct for some people and not for others. And if you assumed that, since you are a taxpayer who will be supporting the Vikings by financing their new stadium, that you had any say in how they operate, you should be safely disabused of that notion. You can hyperventilate about that if you'd like; Jim Souhan does a fine job of it here. But nothing changes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mostly open thread

The muse is intermittent these days so this will be a mostly open thread. Having said that, a few very brief observations:

  • I think the best way to read the latest Star Tribune polling on the governor's race is this -- people are open to the idea of getting rid of Mark Dayton, hence the very close approval/disapproval rating. People don't know who Jeff Johnson is yet. They'll find out next month. If Dayton looks shaky during the debates, and my guess is that he will, at least once, it could be game on, especially since I expect Johnson to perform very well.
  • The NFL may have all manner of public relations problems off the field, but the football continues to be intriguing. Show of hands -- how many people saw San Diego winning yesterday? And how about Gino's beloved Bears, coming back from way down to ruin San Francisco's party? And oh, by the way, the preferred green-clad squad won at Lambeau yesterday.
  • If the Scots vote for independence, there are going to be a lot of people in other parts of the world who will try to do the same. Spain in particular could become fragmented in a hurry.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The other issue

Now that Adrian Peterson's future with the Vikings appears to be problematic, there's another issue that needs to be addressed. As we've all seen, the artist renderings of the new stadium have prominently featured Peterson in a heroic stance:

Come to me, citizenry
Well, that might not work. Fortunately, the Vikings do have a Plan B:

Give the past a slip

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In re Adrian Peterson

The Bill James quote from yesterday again applies:

What Watergate was about was not the corruption of government, as most people thought, but rather, the establishment of new and higher standards of ethical conduct. Almost all scandals, I think, result not from the invention of new evils, but from the imposition of new ethical standards.

Adrian Peterson grew up in a world where the switch was used. As an adult, he lives in a different world. He apparently didn't know that. As we are regularly reminded, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Adrian Peterson is not a role model, either. And if he is going to raise his kids, or even have a role in their lives, he's going to have to find a way to live in the world we all occupy today, not a world that no longer exists.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Police Blotter Edition

Old dude, it's a regular crime spree in football these days! Ray Rice is in trouble, Josh Gordon won't admit that he is a druggie and is selling cars at a lot somewhere in Northeastern Ohio. What is going on in this league?

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around it myself. I have to rely on my favorite football mind to explain things to me:

That was clarifying. Still, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. We need less domestic struggle and more football, I think.

I agree, Geritol Fan! James Brown needs to stop talking about social stuff and more about the game. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+15) vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs. Minnesota has shown progress but traveling down to Fort Worth should cause a problem. Mitch Leidner is hurt and if he plays I would not be surprised if his instincts to be mobile will be possibly curtailed. TCU is a sneaky team and the Gophers are looking shaky after playing subpar halves against minnows. That is a recipe for disaster and Vegas is justified. TCU 28, Gophers 17

I'm confused by this line. So far the only team TCU has played is Samford. I have some game highlights:

Oops, I guess that was the wrong tape. Anyway, I'm hardly convinced that TCU is two touchdowns better than the Gophers, whether Leidner is available or not. It will be a low-scoring game, old school, even. TCU 17, Gophers 13.

Iowa State Cyclones (+11) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. No Badgers this week, so we'll turn our attention to the state I must cross to get to my new alma mater! This game is a grudge match and Iowa is a team favored to win the West in my eyes but Ball State should not be a challenge. Iowa needs this one but once again I sense ISU is looking for a soft target and the bitter memories of losing to NDSU will linger for them. Time to take out some frustrations for the Cyclones. ISU 35, Iowa 7.

So Iowa can barely beat Ball State, but they're 11 points better than the Cyclones? Really. I find that difficult to believe. The Cyclones got beat badly by the NoDak State Bison, but that's not surprising. I think it's going to be pretty close, actually. Iowa 24, Iowa State 21.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Carleton College Knights. Yes, it's time for more red-hot Prairie Fire action! Knox is a good school populated by great people. However, the Fire are looking good led by Matt McCathry, who is a freshman quarterback who looked very good against Eureka. Carleton is good but once again if Knox is putting me up for 4 years, might as well pick em. Knox 32, Carleton 18.

This will be a true intellectual showdown between two schools with that aren't exactly known for football prowess. I'm very happy that you've settled in at Knox, but they aren't gonna win up in Northfield. At least take solace in this -- it would have been worse if they'd played St. Olaf. Carleton 33, Knox 21

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7) vs. San Francisco Harbaughs. So da Bearz are the team that gets to debut against the 49ers in their new facility, Levi's Stadium. To honor the event, 49ers coach and all-around jerk Jim Harbaugh has chosen to wear bad looking khakis to show his appreciation for the corporate sponsor:

That's a tremendous look there, Jim. Harbaugh is going to attack Conte because Conte has a tendency to freeze during big moments. However, Jay Cutler will not have to deal with Navarro Bowman and Justin Smith. With no Donte Whitner in the building, look for the Bears to attack at will and ruin the festivities. da Bearz 13, D-Bags 6.

While I think it appropriate to pick on Jim Harbaugh's pants, the problem the Bears had was the way they got undressed in their own building last week. Did you see Fred Jackson lower the boom? It was brutal. The Bears will need to get better quickly, or get buried. Harbaugh's pants are good for grave digging, too. 49ers 31, Bears 24.

New England Patriots (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings.  I'll be honest -- I don't know what Adrian Peterson did, or if his attempt at disciplining his son turned out to cross a line, but he's not playing on Sunday, so it's going to be tough. They looked very good and the Vikings can win without Peterson. Sweaterman Belichick is a master coach but how do you stop Cordarrelle Patterson? Special players change the game, plain and simple. Vikes 31, Pats 24

Tom Brady needs to get things back to normal. The Vikings didn't get much of a test last week. This week is very different. We'll find out if Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon can play. If they can't, the Vikes will be one dimensional. Bill Belichick eats one dimensional teams for lunch. Patriots 31, Vikings 16.

New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS (+8.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packers have had a few extra days to dwell on their loss in Seattle. Geno Smith is a similar quarterback to Russell Wilson and the Jets are a sneaky team. However, the Packers have the advantage of extra preparation time, which is a huge edge in my eyes and Aaron Rodgers is right that even though the sky is falling around them, they are just fine inside. Packers 45, Jets 17.

This game makes me nervous. I don't know that the Jets can do what the Seahawks did, but they can run the football and they do play hard-nosed defense. It's not going to be an easy game at all for the Packers, but I think they'll prevail. Packers 24, Jets 17.

Well, that's all I have for now. I think it's going to be a lot of fun at Knox. But I already know football, baby! Ben out!

Friday, September 12, 2014

In re Ray Rice and Roger Goodell


  • Domestic violence is a bad thing.
  • Whatever good things Ray Rice has done in his life, he's effectively negated them with his actions.
  • I don't know what else to say about Roger Goodell except to quote Bill James's observation, which I first quoted a few years ago:
What Watergate was about was not the corruption of government, as most people thought, but rather, the establishment of new and higher standards of ethical conduct. Almost all scandals, I think, result not from the invention of new evils, but from the imposition of new ethical standards.

Back from Knox

The Benster is safely ensconsed at his new alma mater, Knox College. The level of "HYYYYPE" in western Illinois has increased substantially.

It was a happy and exciting trip -- few things are more fun than starting out in a new chapter in your life and the modern American college campus can be a very pleasant place to spend four years. Like a lot of smallish liberal arts schools, it has a bit of a lived-in feel; Benster's dorm room is large but the ancient radiator in the corner lets you know it's an older building. It's a nice setup for him, though, because the living space is directly atop the student union and cafeteria, so he and his crew can just roll down the stairs and get their meals, pick up their mail, etc.

The grandees at Knox gave us all a formal welcome before we said goodbye, including high-minded speeches from a couple of deans and the president of the college. One thing the president said was interesting. She implored the freshly minted students to listen to differences respectfully. That's not news. What was newsworthy is that she said this -- liberals, listen to the conservatives. I will be curious to see if this actually happens, because conservatives views aren't particularly welcome on many college campuses these days.

Benster will continue to grace this feature with his accumulated football wisdom; we're figuring out the logistics of it but he's committed to the bit.


Buy a location, close a location:
The new owner of two Rainbow Foods stores has decided to close them, four months after picking them up in a multicompany, 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene.

Jerry’s Enterprises Inc. notified workers and city officials that it will close the stores at 1660 S. Robert St. in West St. Paul and 2919 26th Av. S. in Minneapolis in early November.

Both stores employ about 25 full-time workers and another 60 or so part-timers.

Jerry’s, an Edina-based operator of about 40 stores in Minnesota and Florida, owns other grocery stores under the Cub Foods name next to both locations. A spokesman for Jerry’s confirmed the decision but declined to comment further.
This was an easy decision for Jerry's -- it's often cheaper and a better business decision to buy out and close a competitor's location than it is to let another party enter the market. HyVee is starting to enter the Twin Cities grocery market and certainly would have been interested in these locations had they been available.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Off to Knox

The Benster is headed to college:

That's Main Hall at Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois. He'll be living in Seymour Hall, shown below:

He'll spend a lot of time in the building shown below, George Davis Hall:

It should be a nice place to spend the next few years. Posting will be light the next few days as we attend to the transition.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Open thread

The world's a dumpster fire and my mind is elsewhere, so after staring at a blank screen for most of my allotted blogging time this morning, I got nothin'. Pick a topic, any topic, and have at it. A few suggestions, just for giggles:

  • Is it worse to get drilled in Seattle, or to get beat by Buffalo on your home field?
  • Could you be any more cynical than to plan a big move on immigration, but waiting until after the election?
  • Where the heck is Knox College, anyway?
If you have something else, bring it on!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Res ipsa loquitur

The pure essence:
More than $725 million was spent by the Army on a high-tech network for tracking supplies and expenses that failed to comply with federal financial reporting rules meant to allow auditors to track spending, according to an inspector general’s report issued Wednesday.

The Global Combat Support System-Army, a logistical support system meant to track supplies, spare parts and other equipment, was launched in 1997. In 2003, the program switched from custom software to a web-based commercial software system.

About $95 million was spent before the switch was made, according to the report from the Department of Defense IG.

As of this February, the Army had spent $725.7 million on the system, which is ultimately expected to cost about $4.3 billion.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Prairie Fire, Baby! Edition

We're back! So, we're not going to discuss what happened on Thursday night. You all saw it anyway. We are choosing to follow the advice of Edna Mode -- don't look back, it distracts from the now! So we have a new season and a whole lotta football. And, of course, HYYYYYPPPPE!!

Hype -- the eternal growth industry.

Don't you forget it, Geritol Fan! Watch me work!

Middle Tennessee State Something or Others (+15.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Actually, I believe MTSU is the Blue Raiders, but it could be something else. Doesn't matter. They've come to Minneapolis to get a beatdown. There is no way the Gophers are going to lose. Gophers 63, Something or Other 0.

Oh, it will be closer than that. Not much, though. Gophers 37, MTSU 14.

Western Illinois Leathernecks (NL) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. So, the Badgers played valiantly down in Houston but came up short against mighty LSU. Now they play another team that wears purple, but is not nearly as good. The Leathernecks hail from Macomb, Illinois, which is about an hour south of my new school, Knox College, about which more in a moment. Even though the Badgers kinda blew it against LSU, there's little reason to assume they'll have any trouble with the Leathernecks, who are overmatched here. Let's see if Tanner McEvoy can avoid throwing passes to the student section. Badgers 83, Leathernecks 17.

Okay. Again, probably less than that. Wisconsin 42, WIU 7.

Eureka College Red Devils vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. Surpringly, there doesn't seem to be a betting line on this game. Bovada is missing a bet here, which is unusual for a sports book. This fierce non-conference rivalry marks the debut of the Knox College Prairie Fire in this feature. I will begin orientation at Knox in four days, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the Prairie Fire does. My research indicates that they aren't very good, but as an Irondale High School graduate I'm familiar with cheering for teams with a limited chance for success. However, as long as Knox beats hated Monmouth, which I understand Knox does hate, it's all good in the hood. Knox 24, Eureka 21.

The only thing I know about Eureka is that it is Ronald Reagan's alma mater. I have it on pretty good authority that Reagan is not playing in this game. Go Prairie Fire, right? Knox 17, Eureka 13.

Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) vs. St. Louis Sheep. The Rams got a lot of ink in the offseason as being the temporary home of Michael Sam, who should just be what he is, a marginal football player, rather than a cause celebre. But he's not in St. Louis any more. The Rams are going to start Shaun "Blueberry" Hill, the former Viking, Lion, and probably several other team journeyman. Hill is a poor man's Gus Frerotte and I'm surprised that the Rams are favored in this game. However, the Rams do have Tayvon Austin and a fierce defense. Let's see what ol' Norv Turner has cooking. Vikings 31, Rams 20.

I'm not sure what to think about this game. It's a measure of the disrespect the Vikings have earned that they are a dog against a team playing a backup quarterback. Having said that, it's hard to get a read on who the Vikings are right now, based on their body of work in the preseason. They did not use Adrian Peterson at all, so we have no way of knowing how he'll do. Usually, you should assume he'll do very well, but I wonder just a little. Rams 24, Vikings 21.

Buffalo Bills (+7) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Da Bearz are still angry about how they had their season crushed last year. Want to see the highlight again? I'm sure you do, Gino!

Tecmo, baby! I never get tired of seeing it, in whatever format you choose. The big thing that should concern Bears fans is that Josh McCown is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and da Bearz are again putting their fate in the hands of Jay Cutler, who has consistently been inconsistent throughout his entire career. What's even more concerning is that da Bearz could not win the big game. Buffalo is not a big game, so this one should be straightforward. Bears 35, Bills 0.

I'll be curious to see the rebuilt Bears defense. The Bears will score, but they still look like an updated version of the Dan Fouts-era Chargers. That's not gonna work in December, as they learned last year. It's September, though, so... Bears 31, Bills 24.

We will have to see how this feature works now that I'll be at college, but we're going to try our best to give the adoring public the same high-quality football coverage they've come to expect from me, the Benster. And here is your Prairie Fire logo:

It's a flag of great justice

Ben out!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Just a reminder

You can demand $15/hour for your labors, but it doesn't mean you're going to get it:
A company called Momentum Machines has built a robot that could radically change the fast-food industry and have some line cooks looking for new jobs.

The company's robot can "slice toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible." The robot is "more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour." That's one burger every 10 seconds.

The next generation of the device will offer "custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem."

Momentum Machines cofounder Alexandros Vardakostas told Xconomy his "device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them." Indeed, marketing copy on the company's site reads that their automaton "does everything employees can do, except better."
Put a couple of iPads on the counter for order taking and you'll understand why the SEIU is whistling in the graveyard.

Meanwhile, we should point out the following:
In Milwaukee, Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore was taken away in handcuffs by police for blocking traffic at a McDonald's.

"I take great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families," Moore said in a statement through her communications director, Eric Harris.
That's mighty sporting of Congresswoman Moore. To show her commitment to the cause, let's look at how she walks the talk:

You'd be better off working at McDonald's

Update:  Keith Ellison is similarly generous:

They'd also prefer not to pay you

Change you can believe in, yet again

Man, is Barack Obama gonna be upset when he finds out about this:
The Fed survey released suggests that wealth and income is concentrated not just within the top 1 percent, as some analyses have suggested, but actually among a slightly broader slice of the ultra-rich: the top 3 percent.

From 2010 to 2013, average income for U.S. families rose about 4 percent after accounting for inflation, the survey showed. All of the income growth was concentrated among the top earners, the survey showed, with the top 3 percent accounting for 30.5 percent of all income.

The disparity was even greater by wealth, with the top 3-percent holding 54.4 percent of all net worth in 2013, up from 51.8 percent in 2007 and 44.8 percent in 1989.
I thought all this was going to end in the our new egalitarian era. Huh.