November 2008 Archives

Croom Resigns

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CBS reported a little while ago that Sylvester Croom has resigned as head coach. I am saddened by the news for several reasons. First, Croom has done a lot for the Mississippi State football team. Let's not forget that just a few short years ago the team was undisciplined and we were just as likely to read about players in the police blotter as we were in the sports section. Second, Croom brought some enthusiasm to the team, enthusiasm that was sorely needed. Third, Croom was a man of honor and integrity, something that is getting more and more difficult to find in athletics.

Obviously there were problems with the team. I do believe that some changes were needed on the staff, and yes, as head coach Croom was ultimately responsible for making those changes. But he didn't. By no means am I a coaching expert, but it seems to me that when a team is in trouble the first thing that happens is that coordinators and assistant coaches are replaced one year. If things improve the next year then all is well; if not, then the head coach resigns or is fired. It seems to me that Croom did not get the first year.

So, if Croom did not get the first year was that because he was not given the opportunity to make changes in the staff or was he given the opportunity to make changes and resigned instead. I can see either one being the case.

I was disappointed with CBS in their reporting because they spoke only about Croom's race, something he did not discuss. In fact this s the guy that said Maroon is the only color that matters". The bigger issue is who is really behind this change.

Dell's Revival Strategy Runs Into Trouble by Justin Scheck. Wall Street Journal, Friday, 28 November 2008, p. A1.

Dell is in trouble. It has lost ground to HP in selling PCs and this article points out that Michael Dell's plan to recover is taking longer than expected. One of the main reasons, as pointed in the article, is the fact that Dell has lost its advantage in producing low-cost computers. Back in the day this was the big advantage of Dell. They could essentially produce custom-built computers at a very low-cost. They achieved this by carefully managing their supply chain and having just-in-time delivery of components. That worked then but now they are seeing stiff competition from Asia.

The article also mentions creating "Dell lust". That, I think, will be a solution to the problem. I remember in college the HP lust we engineers had. We didn't want just any calculator, we wanted an HP and we knew them intimately. If it was HP, I wanted it. I see the same thing with Apple. Those who use Macs cite near religious experiences. The question is can Dell create something similar?

Dell talks about coming out with music players and cell phones but I'm not sure that is what is needed. The company has already tried the music player, remember the Dell DJ--I had one--it was too heavy and not nearly as easy to operate as the iPod. They tried the PDA market as well and some who had the Axim's thought they were great but Dell could not compete with HP's iPaq. If they enter the cell phone market they will have to beat Apple's iPhone and RIM's Blackberry--both of which have large followings already. I'm not sure Dell is capable of coming up with a product that can beat those.

Perhaps they need to focus on some really powerful yet small and light laptops. That is a market in which they excel and can regain their footing. I hope they do because I am a big Dell fan.

One area in which I think they might be able to compete is in customer support. I love the support you get with an XPS and if they can dump the off-shore support and give could support in the US, they may have a tremendous marketing advantage.

Pitiful. Sorry. Lousy. Inexcusable. Unacceptable. The list of words describing the lack of performance by the MSU Bulldogs can go on and on for days. The game today was plain and simple, an embarrassment. Some players played as hard as they could, others seemed to not even want to be there.

The calls for firing Coach Croom will certainly grow louder. The TV even showed a fan holding a sign calling for him to be fired now. I can't say we are at that point yet, but we may be getting close. We have had some good games this year but performance has been sporadic. Tyson Lee has been a breath of fresh air but he got the stuffing knocked out him several times today which brings me to something I've been saying all season long--we have no offensive line. They cannot bock and they cannot create openings through which the ball can be run.

Someone will be leaving the coaching staff soon; perhaps as early as next week. I can't see any way around it. The season was a disappointment and today's game was the perfect way to end a terrible season. The big alums will start making calls and heads will have to roll. I know Croom does not really want to fire anyone so perhaps some will resign on their own; otherwise it can get pretty dirty.

As for me, football season is over for the year. I may watch a few bowl games but I really don't care about much more of the season. I did see LSU lose today and if I can see Alabama lose another time or two then I'll be a little happier. Of course I want to see Navy beat Army, but that will likely happen.

As we have grown accustomed to saying around here--wait 'til next year.

Movabletype Upgraded

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I have upgraded to Movabltype 4.21. It was relatively painless but there was a small issue. I turned on the feeds feature and thought all was well. However when I published an entry the Save button resulted in...well, nothing. Upon further review I noticed that the mt-feed.cgi file was not marked as executable. I made all of the cgi files executeable but this one must have been added later. Everything seems to work now.

Now, I have to get used to the new interface.

Etzioni is wrong on Mullen

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Retire Admiral Mullen by Amitai Etzioni

In a recent post Amitai Etzioni calls for Obama to replace Admiral Mullen and he gives several reasons for his thinking. And he is wrong on most all of them.

It seems Etzioni is chastising Admiral Mullen for speaking against the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Iraq and rather says that withdrawal should be governed by conditions on the ground. The problem is Etzioni is a might confused as to who the president is. He may be salivating over the day Obama becomes president but right now the president is George Bush and the policy Mullen has stated is THE president’s policy.

Etzioni also takes the cowards solution to problems often seen by many in academia. According to him the solution is to either go along or resign. That is a spine of Jell-O! He also erroneously states that a military officer’s obligation is to carry out the orders of the President. Wrong again, but this is a mistake often made by many. An officer takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, it is not to the President.

I am also completely amazed at Etzioni’s ignorance of the function of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Mullen is the president’s chief military advisor—he is not someone to merely carry out orders. Perhaps before writing again he should review the Goldwater-Nichols Act. I really don’t mind people taking issue with the military but I do wish they would take the time to do a little research and form an intelligent opinion.

I think Etzioni is a little too keen on a retreat and lacks a little understanding of the military. If he becomes an advisor to President-elect Obama this country may be in serious trouble.

iconoclast

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One good thing about the Delta delays, I was able to finish iconoclast by Gregory Berns. It was a nice book on the neuroscience of how some people "think different". It did point out some the traits that those who do novel things have in common, such as lacking fear. I'm still not sure how much of this is genetic and how much f it can be learned, but I think at least some of it cna be learned.

Good News for Dems? Not so Sure.

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Good news for the Dems; bad news for America, Thomas P. M. Barnett

Thomas P M Barnett says the argument between traditionalists and reformers in the GOP is good news for the democrats but bad news for the country. I agree with him in part. It is bad for the country because I think we need to quit all the in-fighting and get back to fundamental conservative principles—limited government and free markets. I’m not sure it is good news for the Dems though. The public has a short memory and the average Joe does not o serious policy analysis—he votes how he feels and right now he does not feel good.

The problem, in case you haven’t heard, is the economy. But it is not America’s economy; it is the world’s economy. There are some things president-elect Obama will be able to do but I’m not comfortable he, nor anyone else, will be able to turn this thing around in four years. Come the next election, average Joe will still be hurting and will blame it on the President. I think for that reason the GOP has a great chance in four years of winning back the Whitehouse and keeping it for two terms. Why? Because the economy will be better, although neither party will have really solved the issue, it will just be timing. Had McCain won this last election, I would be saying the same thing for Democrats.

In a nutshell, I’m predicting a one-term president Obama and two-term GOP president in 2012. We’ll see. The truth is right now all of this is nothing much more than reading tea leaves.

Arrived in Norfolk Despite Delta

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Another flight on Delta and another comedy of errors. I left Starkville with no problems. It does irk me a little that when I travel I always take the same stuff and pack the same way. Most times I sail through security, other times they want to search everything. I can’t imagine why the difference. Heck, even some of the TSA agents know me now and talk to me. I got to Atlanta with no problems, had time to stop at Starbucks, and then got on the plane. We even left on time. Of course I immediately noticed that we quit climbing and started banking which meant only one thing—we were returning to Atlanta. The problem was the throttle on one engine was sticking and pilots wanted it checked.

Once we got to back to the gate maintenance took a look and the pilot announced that sometimes the baggage handlers packed the bags too tightly which forces the ceiling of the cargo hold up a little and can bind the throttle cable. After a little while everyone was pretty much convinced that was the problem but not enough to fly the plane. So, we deplane and go to another gate. They announce a departure time of 5:30 and we board the plane accordingly. We are all ready to go but there are no pilots. Not only that, there is no air conditioning. We were getting hot and the flight attendants were trying to get maintenance to turn on the air conditioning. Finally one pilot shows up, then another. But we don’t move. The new problem is that the caterer took the drinks off the old flight and moved them to the wrong gate. We were grounded because of soft drinks.

While we are waiting for the drinks to arrive, the Delta messenger service starts sending me email messages every five minutes telling me we are leaving in five minutes. Finally, we leave and trust me, by the time I was served a soft drink on this flight, we could have landed in Norfolk had we not waited for the drinks. The crew and the flight attendants were as nice and helpful as they could be but there are some serious management issues with Delta. I also continue to be bothered by the number of mechanical problems that are discovered in flight.

But, the good news is I am in Norfolk with friends and an exciting week of work ahead.

Breakfast of Champions

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It always does my soul good to see good students with their interested and engaged parents, and college students who are interested in giving back some of what they have been given. I had that opportunity today.

Our annual Breakfast of Champions was this morning and we had people invited from the entire southeastern region. Most everyone was within driving range although some of them did have to get up early to make it. We gave them all breakfast and had a program consisting of some words of welcome and then two stellar students who discussed why they chose to attend the Bagley College and what they have done while being here. The keynote speaker was Dr. Kirk Schulz, VP for Research and Economic Development at MSU. As a former faculty member, department head, dean, and now vice president, he had the experience to relate to the students on many levels. He even has a son looking at colleges now. He nailed the talk and gave them exactly what I was hoping for. It is a shame that he is not the new president for he certainly has the vision and experience.

The other part was watching our current students give up their Saturday and come out to help us. They interacted with our guests and were on panels for discussion. They are the ones who sold the college today and it really makes me happy to see a group of students give back to an organization and take the time to make a difference in someone else’s life. I have no doubt that because of those students today, we will have new students in the fall who will make a difference in the world.

I capped the afternoon off with a drive to New Orleans for my last drill with my current unit. I assume command of a unit in Houston on 01 December.

Just watched the Bulldogs get killed by Alabama. I agree with the commentators, we have a world-class defense— at least we did until they all got banged up by being on the field so long—and if we only had an offense to go along with it things would be great. Well, as we have all grown so fond of saying, “wait until next year!”

Third Place in Chili Cookoff

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I won third place in the Mississippi State Scabbard and Blade Honor Society Chili Cookoff today. I made the chili last night and let it cook all night. The judging was today at 1100 in front of Middleton Hall. I was not expecting to win, this was my first entry, so I am very happy. Even better, one of the members of my Day One Action Team from last year won first place!

I had to joke that those running this copetition had to be future contracting officers. They require you to buy the ingedients to make the chili, that you pay a $10 entr fee, and then they sell the chili for $1.00 per bowl. Only a contracting office couldwork such a deal. Of course I was only joking. The proceeds went to support the Sacbbard and Blade Society and the Intrepid Fallen Heros fund--two very worthy causes.

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Lunch with WWII Veterans

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I had the privilege of having lunch today with America’s finest. The Sony Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans hosted a luncheon for World War II veterans today on the campus of Mississippi State I was fortunate enough to be invited. I met some really wonderful people who answered their nation’s call and to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. In addition to lunch, we also viewed the PBS documentary on the World War II memorial in Washington, DC.

My only regret is that my grandfather was not around to be invited. I was able to eat with several people today who reminded me of him in many ways. On the one hand I was tremendously proud of what he did. On the other hand it brought back memories and made me realize how much I still miss him.

Landslide? Hardly

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The AP is saying that Obama won the election in an Electoral College landslide. A what? What the heck is an Electoral College landslide other than over-the-top journalistic rhetoric? Strafor is more reserved, and hence why I prefer them, and say he won a “solid majority” of the popular vote but nowhere near a landslide and that his Electoral College win was “decisive”.

Stratfor goes on to point out that, in effect, now it is time for Obama to perform. They discuss his statement that he will withdraw from Iraq but he does not have a timeframe nor does he discuss how this will work with Saudi Arabia or Iran. They ask, can he offer Iran anything that will cause them to accept Iraq as a neutral government serving as a buffer between Iran and Saudi Arabia? They state:

“What is important is that Obama, having won the election, will now have to face a range of foreign policy issues that will challenge his ideology and policies, and where his personality will matter little. He will be dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao and Angela Merkel, none of whom are swayed by charisma and all of whom govern countries with interests very different than those of the United States.”

Yes indeed. Now it is not charisma and charm, it is the real world.

Obama Elected

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It looks like Obama has won the election. Of course I am disappointed because I have not really heard of anything he is going to do other than offer “hope” and “change”. I caught a little of C-SPAN and they had some young guy call in to say he voted for Obama and was excited because “he was a good speaker”. Okay, we elected a good speaker as president. Now he is going to have to do something. He cannot vote present and he cannot talk. It is time to perform.

The good thing about America is that the shift from Bush to Obama will happen without revolt. Power will shift orderly and the union will survive. It is also not likely much will change either. It seems every candidate promises change but few actually deliver it.

I will go out a limb here and predict that Obama will be a one-term president. By the way, I would have predicted the same thing if McCain had won. Why? The problem today is the economy. The US did not cause the so-called crisis it but is suffering from it and is a contributor to the problem. The economic problems are global and there is only so much any president can do to fix the problems. So, when the next election rolls around the economy could still be the problem and Obama will be to blame for it. The problem is that I do not anyone who has an idea of what to do or how to do it.

High Voter Turnout?

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I’m wondering what turnout was for voting in Mississippi. There was a lot of talk of record turnout so I voted early this morning rather than my usual mid-afternoon time. I had to wait about 25 minutes when I usually have to wait less than five. However, I heard that later in the afternoon there was little to no wait. So, I wonder, did all of the talk of high turnout get people out early to “beat the rush” or was there really an increase in turnout?

MSU 13 -- UK 14

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Any loss is tough but it seems the toughest losses are the not the ones where you are beaten by a superior team, but when you beat yourself. That it is where the MSU Bulldogs find themselves again on this Saturday. Had the kicker been able to get a kick through the uprights instead of hitting the upright, things would have turned out differently. Had the line done a better job at blocking, the PAT would not have been blocked and things would have been different. Had the offensive line done a better job blocking, more passes could have been thrown and caught and things would have been different. Instead it ended up MSU 13, UK 14.

Very similar things happened a few weeks ago which ended with MSU 2, Auburn 3. So close but this is football, not horseshoes. It is, however, MSU football—and we all used to it by now.

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