Archive for May, 2006

Oil Mythbusters

May 28, 2006

Today there was a great article in the Dallas Morning News about the realities of our gas prices, oil company profits, service station boycotts, price gouging, and the realities of taxing oil profits. I realize the blog I wrote about these same subjects may have been too long to hold people's attention. This article explains almost to a T exactly what I was trying to say and does so in a much more eloquent manner. I'm not sure if you need to sign up for a free membership to view that article but if you do I can assure you that won't spam you and it'll only take a second.

What I most do not understand is the arguments of price gouging and the argument to tax the profits harder than usual(40%). These are two issues that I did not talk about to the extent that I wanted to in the previous blog.

In the instance of Katrina I understand punishing a company for using the economic laws of supply and demand in a way that really hurts people that are in an unusually vulnerable position. But in everyday normal circumstances what exactly is price gouging? Is it businessmen working for oil companies trying as hard as they can to make money for their shareholders? In the sport of business money is how you keep score thats just the reality of the situation. Businesses are not in business for fun or just to keep themselves occupied. They are in business to turn a profit plain and simple. Oil companies just happen to be in an industry that sells a product that Americans are addicted to and have been led to believe it is their God-given right that they have access to cheap oil and its derivatives. High schools economics teachers: stop letting your students sleep through your class. Its simple Supply and Demand. If you have something that is becoming more and more in demand you are going to be able to rise the price and turn a better profit, you would be stupid not to.

The second issue concerns taxing oil companies harder than normal. In my previous blog I got into how much more profitable most other industries are in terms of profit margins. That defines more why this taxing is unfair but now I will get more into why it's not only unfair but it doesn't make sense and it will end up making oil more expensive in the long run. Lets take ExxonMobil for instance, last year they brought in profits of $36 billion. The first place that profit is going to go is to the shareholders in the form of dividends. The shareholders are the ones who risked their money to make this possible in the first place. At the end of the day the money that is left over is invested in research and development (read future ways to extract tons more oil efficiently). If you tax that profit harder the shareholders are still going to get paid either way its the R&D that you are hurting. But it makes politicians popular to promise middle-class voters added tax revenue from ugly, mean, Texas-sized oil companies and this is an election year so it'll probably happen.

-hj

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NBA Officials are ridiculous

May 22, 2006

I wanted to get this blog in before game 7 of Spurs-Mavs so in the extraordinary event that the Spurs do pull it off my points won't be labeled sore-loser. In fact I first decided to point out the deficiencies in the NBA's officiating after the Mavs went up 3-1. The fact is NBA officials are the worst officials of any league in any sport. They are taking the focus away from the players and I don't remember the NBA being like that growing up.

My man Mark Cuban has been fined numerous times for hundreds of thousands of dollars for pointing out how bad these guys suck and I can't blame him. If I invested a few hundred million dollars and officials weren't making the game fair I would be paranoid as well. Cuban decided to study and scout the refs and find tendencies in the way they operated. He breaks down their win-loss records and their tendencies to call offensive 3 seconds, defensive 3 seconds, offensive fouls, technical fouls, etc. Vegas has caught on. Sports handicappers have made the NBA the one and only league where the refs are taken into consider when making picks. Covers.com has a database compiling NBA ref tendencies and how they do against the spread and the over/under.

Cuban recently got hammered for $200,000 in part for his blog on how the NBA could improve playoff officiating. In my opinion he didn't even get his moneys worth because his arguments are flawed. He frequently states that the game has made changes in the way it is officiated and is much better now than when he came into the league six years ago. I disagree, I don't remember the game ever being so horrible although I don't think that is a direct result of Cuban at all. Also in his plan for better playoff officiating he suggests using only the best refs. Well in this Mavs-Spurs series we've had some of the better refs Dick Bavetta, Joey Crawford and every game has still been horrible. Its pathetic that the game has gotten to the point that officials are such a focus.

The fans are noticing too its not just crazy owners and degenerate gamblers. This round in games at both San Antonio and Miami the refs have chanted "Refs You Suck" to the point where you could here it on the telecast. The game is so inconsistently officiated that I feel like I know so little about sport when I watch it. Don't anger yourself as I do and slow motion replay drives to the basket because its travelling every time and they never are going to call it. Contact going to the basket is called so inconsistently. One time a guy will go to the rack and get slammed to the floor and nothing is called and the next trip down the court Duncan will get a three point play because Diop breathed on him. But it goes both ways, the Mavs got one on Bowen's phantom foul that sent Dirk to the line at the end of the game.

I don't know what the solution is. Hockey had a problem with officiating when they had 3 refs and they tried to solve it by adding a fourth. Maybe the NBA should add a fourth ref. Would that solve the problem? I don't know. But obviously something must be done.

-hj

Manu Ginobli is a chump

May 17, 2006

Off the top of my head I can not think of a player that annoys me more than Manu Ginobili. Watching him play makes me genuinely angry. The Spurs-Mavs rivalry is really coming to blossom in this playoff series but Ginobili ruins it for me. See I respect the Spurs, their coach, their players, and their three championships but I have absolutely no respect for Manu Ginobili. Players like Ginobili will ruin the NBA and American sports in general.

There are athletes in sports I don't/haven't liked: Terrell Owens, Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, but Manu Ginobili takes the cake. Other athletes may involve themselves in antics or allow themselves to be coaxed into making cocky statements in the media. For those reasons I dislike certain players but for me with Ginobili its more than dislike its a loss of respect. Before I wrote this blog I did a quick Ice Rocket search to take the temperature of the Blogosphere on this specific topic and I found that I'm not the only one who feels this way. (1,2,3,4)

For some reason a lot of international sports (read soccer) feel that flopping has a place in the sports world. In my opinion its horrible sportsmanship but I'll admit that excuse sounds kind of weenie. Its more than that, its the fact that you are trying to manipulate officials which is especially easy to do in the NBA (more to come on this in a future blog) because you can't get it done . In a pick up game Manu Ginobili would be last picked because his secret weapon would be nullified.

Early this year the Sun's Barbosa was out 3 weeks with a grade 2 knee sprain because he got tripped up after Ginobili flailed when there was absolutely no contact. Barbosa complained to the media after the game but how he resisted losing his temper and going nuts of Manu right there on the court I don't know. It's one thing to manipulate the situation to get a call but its something else to hurt somebody because of it. Sooner or later Ginobili is going to get what's coming to him. I found that karma caught up with him when he was called for a foul when his lip was busted in Game 3 drawing blood.

Now Ginobili has this commercial out that is one of the I Love This Game NBA commercials. Notice three things. First when he is driving Wallace jumps up to contend the take to the hoop but what he doesn't know is that Ginobili has no intention of putting up a shot. Ginobili pushes off Wallace with his right arm forcing his own body to the floor. This is a six foot six inch man who can dunk but does not clear 6 inches on this peculiar jump. The second thing to notice is that at the end of the clip all the players seem to be walking to the other end of the court as if the play was ruled an offensive foul on Ginobili. Third a quote from Confuscious is read and then flashed on the screen that says "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall". I think that is a misquote. What Confuscious meant to say is "Manu's greatest hypocrisy is not in always flopping but in rising every time he flops."

The NBA refs have grown a little bit smarter, I know shocking, but now when they see it there is sometimes just a no call. The NHL had this problem about ten years ago when all of the Euros started coming over taking dives left and right. The way they corrected it was they started making it a major penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and two in one game gets you ejected. The NBA ought to start accessing a Technical Foul to Ginobli for this nonsense.

-hj

Oil and ExxonMobil

May 15, 2006

I recently was emailed a chain-letter attempting to organize a boycott of ExxonMobil gas stations in an attempt to bring down the price of gas. About a week later I ran across a Story on the Drudge Report of a Judge in Bee County, Texas who was trying to rally support for a county wide boycott of ExxonMobil. I am embarassed for this people because they simply have not done their homework. These boycotts will not work nor have they worked in the past and I think the hope that they will work are rooted in some misnomers in the averge person's understanding of how the Oil industry works. (more…)

Pandora.com

May 1, 2006

Pandora.com is the new biggest thing you can tell everyone you heard it here first. Pandora.com is going to be bigger than Napster, bigger than Kazaa, this is going to be huge. Last week my brother sent me an email about a website that allows you to create your own radio station. I looked into it and what I discovered was the smartest innovation I have seen in a long time. (more…)