War, war is stupid

The conventional Beltway wisdom seems to be that Trump is smart to “go to war with the media”. I guess that phrase means saying hurtful things during press conferences and having Spicey raise his voice (while making stars of people like Brian Stelter and Jake Tapper and David Farenthold by leaking and lying constantly).

I can think of two presidents in recent history who “went to war with the media”. One was impeached almost impeached and forced to resign. The other waved a white flag when his approval ratings bottomed out, finished as one of the most unpopular presidents in history, and helped hand Democrats a 7+ points victory in the presidential race along with 60 seats in the Senate.

The harder they come, the harder they fall. Or maybe, the cheaper the hood, the gaudier the patter.

Day Six of the Plague

Broke down, called the doctor, and there apparently so much of this going around that they just called in a prescription for antibiotics for me.

This iteration of whatever I have sucks.

This makes me very happy:

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Good News

Not a permanent solution, of course, but at least some of the poor wretches trying to put their lives back together should be able to patch something together while it lasts. From the Washington Post, “Federal judge temporarily blocks Trump’s entry order nationwide“:

A federal judge in Washington state on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump’s controversial ban on entry to the United States, and airlines planned to begin allowing passengers from banned countries to board, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Following the ruling, government authorities immediately began communicating with airlines and taking steps that would allow travel by those previously barred from doing so, according to a U.S. official. At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would “at the earliest possible time” file for an emergency stay of the “outrageous” ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement omitting the word “outrageous.”…

The federal judge’s ruling, which was broader than similar ones before it, set up a high-stakes legal confrontation between the new president and the judicial branch over his temporary ban on entry by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries as well as refugees. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart wrote that “fundamental” to the court’s work was “a vigilant recognition that it is but one of three equal branches of our federal government.”

“The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government,” he wrote.

The ruling is temporary, and the ultimate question of whether Trump’s executive order will pass constitutional muster will fall to higher-level courts. Legal analysts have said the ban could be difficult to permanently undo because the president has broad authority to set immigration policy.

Robart granted a request from lawyers for the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order. A U.S. official said that because of the court case, officials would examine the revoking of those visas so that people would be allowed to travel…

Immigration lawyers said Friday night that they were still assessing the Washington case but were heartened by it.

“The order makes it clear that all of the main provisions of the executive order cannot be enforced at this time,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “That means that a lot will have to change immediately, and the government will have to make clear how they intend to follow the order with respect to all of the ways in which immigrants here and abroad are being affected at the moment.”…

With any luck, by Monday the President-Asterisk will have been distracted by his new feud with Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the rumor that Nordstrom’s stopped carrying Ivanka’s clothing line, and “President Bannon” will decide he’s pushed his white-nationalist agenda as far as he can until the shouting dies down…

Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

Site Update Incoming

WordPress just released a pretty important security update which I’m about to apply.

Besides that, I’m still working on a number of smaller issues such as buttons for mobile site, better video embeds for live events, adding comment counts to next/prev post buttons, and some instructions so that commenters can put tweets properly in comments without having to paste just the text content. There are also a few user-reported issues (look at the post from Wednesday that lists some other issues I’m tackling).

That said, these things are fixed:

  • Back button
  • Read More links
  • Jump to bottom/top buttons for desktop view of site

So I’m going to do the WP update and, assuming the site still works well, take care of a few real life things.  I’m leaving this post so that any issues can be noted here and hope to be back in two or so hours to review any other issues, requests, or suggestions from  this post.

As always, thanks for your patience and support.

Updated to say: sorry for stomping your post Tamara, but this update is important.

Another update: I’m backing up all the files first, so that will make the site a little slow for the next 10 minutes until it’s done. Then I’ll perform the update, and we should be good-to-go.


Final note: update performed, all is well. Will enable mobile site buttons after lunch and tweak mobile site settings.


Updates Done, Not All Work Done


The site is updated and our customizations reapplied. I moved some things to the child theme so less work next time, but we still customize 8 theme files and 6 plugin files to get the site working this way.

I’ve also restored Back button functionality and Read More now works like it should.

There’s lots more to do, but my eyes are getting a bit tired and so I’m taking a break. I’ve been hard at work on a video issue for Adam and that’s taken a lot of time and reading, still without a good answer for how to post live video like from TV channels or other live event video streams. YouTube works fine, but live events from other video sources seems to not.

Once again, thank you all for your generosity, patience, and encouragement.  Feel free to use this as an open thread and to make any more requests/comments.

See my earlier post with a list of items I’m hoping to tackle right now – https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/01/25/making-some-tweaks-you-have-been-warned/


Video Test The Third

Bonus Video for Doug J above (if you can see it) – always loved your post titles, and I’m not sure if you have heard this great album from DD and The Specials. It’s gold.



Text Edited to reflect current videos:


I’m trying some things out real quick before updating the theme.

So..if you see five videos below that’s correct. That means you don’t see the top one.



Read more

Yelling at assistant referees

538 has a good piece on the implicit bias referees have when they get yelled at in NFL games:

a sideline bias in the NFL is real, and it’s spectacular. To prove it, we looked at the rates at which refs call the NFL’s most severe penalties, including defensive pass interference, aggressive infractions like personal fouls and unnecessary roughness, and offensive holding calls, based on where the offensive team ran its play.1

For three common penalties, the direction of the play — that is, whether it’s run toward the offensive or defensive team’s sideline — makes a significant difference. In other words, refs make more defensive pass interference calls on the offensive team’s sideline but more offensive holding calls on the defensive team’s sideline. What’s more, these differences aren’t uniform across the field — the effect only shows up on plays run, roughly, between the 32-yard lines, the same space where coaches and players are allowed to stand during play.

Speaking as a referee, this makes intuitive sense. And it is a logical extension of the massive amount of research that shows crowd noise is a major factor in gaining home field advantage from refs. We’re human.

I would like to see a follow-up study for soccer and assistant referees. This would be a fairly clean study as the operational procedures produces a great data set for assistant referees. 95% of the time, both sets of benches are on the same side of the field. For the non-soccer folks, there are two assistant referees. AR-1 stands on the bench side with the right shoulder to the goal. A team bench is usually a few yards behind him and coaches have a technical area where they are allowed to wander freely. AR-2 is on the far side with no one behind them. Teams switch the direction of attack at half time.

So AR-1 has Team A in his ear for forty five minutes where A is attacking. And AR-1 also gets Team A in his ear for forty five minutes while they are defending. Team B does not have easy and constant access to AR-1 as they are always at least ten yards away from the halfline and at the professional level (where the data would be) there is a fourth official to act as a buffer.

My prediction is that Team A would over the course of the season have fewer offside violations called during its attack than Team B. I think the mechanism that will occur is that most assistant referees know that they are evaluated when the flag goes up on close calls. If they are not 100% certain that an offside violation has occurred, they are told to keep the flag down and not call the violation. If they miss an egregious offside, they will be graded down. But if they are not calling the occasional offside where the attacking player is off by half a shoe, their evaluation will not be impacted. None of this is conscious bias, it is human nature where a referee can firmly believe that they are only 95% sure instead of 100% and thus they keep their flag down.

I would love to see this data as I think the logic would hold true with a very clean data set.