Thursday, September 30, 2010

My View

*welcome back, friendly dog!


Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

The Census Bureau released some new data Tuesday from their 2009 Current Population Survey that contained some interesting and troubling news. Among the findings were that the income gap in America is getting wider. The top 20% of wage earners in the U.S. (those making over $100,000, either individually or as a household) received 49.4% of all income compared to 3.4% of income for those below the poverty line. This income divide is not healthy for our country and helps contribute to the class warfare rhetoric that emanates from the left. If you work and are earning a salary, know that you are in the cross hairs of Congress and the Washington bureaucracy because of this income gap. The current philosophy is to take a large chunk of what you make and redistribute it to equalize incomes. Might not a better proposition be to reform our tax system to encourage businesses to hire more people and gainfully employee them? Would it not be better to reform a failing public education system in this country so that young people are better equipped to compete in the workplace? Rather than punish the wage earners and the businesses that create jobs, shouldn't our tax policy support those very entities? Just some thoughts that may seem like common sense, but are foreign to a Washington establishment that is intent upon grabbing as much power- and your income- as they can.

As I get older, I realize that "getting lucky" means finding my car in the parking lot.

A Business Roundtable survey of CEO's released Tuesday portends a rocky and slow recovery for the U.S. economy. Most CEO's, in response to the survey, said they expect sales growth to slow and consequently have slowed hiring plans. The CEO's plans to maintain the status quo with employment levels means that job creation will continue to be weak and the recovery will continue to be anemic. Many companies have reported improving profits and are prepared to spend more on capital projects, but are yet to commit to increasing their work force. Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon, said, "This is and will continue to be a long and uneven recovery. We are not seeing a lot of momentum develop here." To emphasize this point, just 31% of the CEO's surveyed said they expected to add jobs, down from 36% last quarter; 23% said they expected to cut jobs, up from 17% last quarter. We often hear about weak consumer confidence, but weak business confidence is also contributing to our economic malaise.

There are two excellent theories for arguing with a woman. Neither one works.

There is a line in the Federal budget for "debt service", but unlike debt service for you and me, this is decidedly different. Whereas when we pay back a loan-"debt service"- we are paying interest AND principal and will eventually retire the debt, the "debt service" at the federal level is payment of interest only on our debt. This is a very important point. Today, interest rates are near zero, and the interest on our nearly $14 trillion dollars in debt is the lowest it will be. Within the next 3 years, however, we will be rolling over 60% of that debt- meaning that the Treasury bills that have been issued to raise money to finance our debt will be maturing. That is $8.4 trillion dollars of debt coming due. What do you think will happen if interest rates go from, on average 1%, to 3% to renew the debt. More money will be demanded from you the taxpayer to pay this bill, or the federal government will have to curtail a number of programs. Think that is going to happen? Pay attention to this little discussed aspect of our nation's balance sheet. This could be very problematic in the near future.

My grandfather fought in World War I, and he survived mustard gas and pepper spray attacks. You might say he was a seasoned veteran.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Impressions

Some first impressions after watching the Predators skate in three preseason games:

The talent in camp is the best in the history of the organization. This speaks well to the the scouting and development of the players that the Predators have drafted. The younger players now have enough talent to push the veterans, and this is elevating the play of everyone.

To that point, one of the best hires the Predators have made is Martin Gelinas. Marty enjoyed success on the ice and was a consummate professional during his playing days. He is a great person. His experience and ability to relate to the young players in the Predators system will pay dividends for both the players and the organization.

Jonas Anderson is fast. Matthew Lombardi is REALLY fast.

Taylor Beck will be back at the NHL level. He has to physically mature as well as let his total game develop. He has great awareness on the ice and a strong presence in the offensive zone, and dang, that kid could stick handle in a phone booth. Absolutely super hands.

Is Ryan Ellis ready for the NHL? There is no doubt that he skates and handles the puck well and has an incredible hockey sense. Even though he plays very good positional hockey in the defensive zone, his smallish frame gets pushed around by larger forwards. The dilemma for the Predators is that if sent down, he goes back to juniors instead of Milwaukee at the AHL level because of his age. My impression is that he needs at least one season in Milwaukee competing against larger, soon to be NHL'ers. I would expect Ellis to be sent down to his junior team.

Speaking of defensemen:

Jonathan Blum is a smooth skater, but failed to impress in other aspects of his game.

Ryan Parent has been solid. He moves the puck well and has been strong in the defensive zone. I expect him to be on the opening night roster paired at the third pairing with Cody Franson.

Aaron Johnson looks to have a good chance to make the roster as the seventh defenseman

I watched Anders Lindback in development camp, and he moved well for a big goalie, but had a weak glove hand and looked like he needed a lot of work. His game action in the pre-season was strong. He looked composed, read plays well, and continued to impress with his movement in the crease. That being said, I expect Lindback to go to Milwaukee where he will get more playing time and Mark Dekanich to remain in Nashville as Pekka Rinne's back-up.

Rinne has been somewhat of a slow starter in his pro career, but he has looked in mid-season form in his game action. He has made some great stops and looks poised and relaxed. The Predators will need a good start from Peks to stay in the hunt in what will be a highly competitive Central Division race.

The Central Division will again be, in my estimation, the toughest division in the NHL. The competition in training camp will serve the Predators well as they prepare for a grueling divisional race.

My first impression is that the Predators will do well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Congress has so far punted on deciding whether to extend the tax cuts enacted by President Bush in 2002. Most of us focus on the income tax rate because its impact is immediate. There is another tax that has not received a lot of attention, but the impact will be dramatic if it is allowed to revert to pre 2002 levels. That tax is the estate, or "death" tax. Today, and for the remainder of the year, there is no estate tax. The tax cuts scaled back the estate tax to zero for this year. If Congress does not extend the current tax rate structure or modify it in some way, the estate tax will be assessed on any estate valued at $675,000 or more. The top rate can go as high as 55%. While $675,000 sounds like a lot of money, factor in the value of a home, life insurance, any savings or investments, and you can quickly move past the exempted amount. This tax becomes especially troubling for small business owners and farmers, as the value of these assets tends to move an estate quickly past the exemption, but are oftentimes difficult assets to sell to meet the demands of paying this tax. Our "friends" in Congress have never met one of your dollars that they didn't covet, though. Bernie Sanders (VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Tom Harkin (IA)- all Democrats- have proposed raising the estate tax to 65%. It is obvious that the Democrats in Congress have no intention of reining in their spending. They just want more of your money to spend. Even after you are dead.

A penny a government oversight.

Remember all the promises made about the Obamacare socialized medicine program? Lower costs, no funding for abortions, keep your own insurance, and the list goes on. Guess what? None of it was or is true. Of course, you weren't surprised about that, were you? Now before some of my friends who are left of center become apoplectic, know that this is not my opinion. This is the actuarial office of Medicare speaking. Funding is provided for elective abortions. The prohibition against funding of elective abortions will come from regulations written by the Department of health and Human Services. Those regulations haven't been written. Remember being told that you could keep your own insurance. The White House now estimates that  that 69% of employees and 80% of small business will be forced to change coverage to comply with the law. The list goes on. The truth about socialized medicine was NOT that it was good for employees, employers, or individuals. It was solely about a power grab by Washington that limited our freedom and moved us many steps closer to a nationalized (and poor quality) health system.

I am living proof that not all bodies are temples. Some are amusement parks.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the recession is over. Actually, they say it was over in June of 2009. Certainly doesn't feel like it, does it? NBER says the recession ended in June of last year when the downward decline in our Gross Domestic Product reversed. Technically, that does signal the end of a recession, and if you look at economic performance after the end of prior recessions, you can usually track a pronounced recovery that occurs over the span of many months. That is not happening now. Unemployment remains stubbornly high and business are not spending. Consumers are nervous and saving rather than spending. Why? I think that many businesses and individuals are concerned about the potential for significantly rising taxes. Business face a myriad of new regulations and accompanying costs. Individuals are worried about losing their job and about a significantly declining standard of living. These factors combine to create a negative current environment and a sour outlook for the future. Want to know how to fix this? I'm glad you asked. Create certainty in our taxes, laws, and regulatory environment. Business will not invest or hire if faced with a massive level of uncertainty. Individuals will not spend faced with uncertainty and the prospect of even more confiscation of their hard earned dollars. Lower taxes and clean up some of the mess that is our regulatory environment, and watch the economy respond positively.

All power corrupts, but we still need the electricity.

And that, my friends, is my view.

*the picture was changed this week because I was attacked by a dog while out running. The friendly dog will return next week

My Letter to the Editor

The following is a copy of my letter to the Editor of the Tennessean, sent this morning:

Mr. Silverman,

Reading the article about the Predators “ignoring” the terms of their lease with the City, I have a clear understanding about why your readership has fallen and continues to fall dramatically. Within the factual, technical definition of the lease, the team is in violation. The actual reason gets buried in the article: the team’s fiscal year end is June 30; the report is required July 1. Might this situation not be a problem with how the Sports Authority structured the lease and reporting requirements, rather than, as your sensationalized headline implies, a willful disregard of the lease?

The Powers Management ticket charge has nothing to do with the Predators lease, yet is lumped in with this piece of “reporting”. Frankly, this is classless and irresponsible on the part of the newspaper and its reporters.

I am tired of the hatchet jobs the Tennessean seems to want to perpetuate against the Predators. This headline was intended to cast a negative pall over the opening of what could be one of the most exciting seasons in team history. The Tennessean, in my opinion, has never been supportive of the Predators. I can look at the column space and afforded the Titans and the Vols and compare it to what is being done with the Predators, and it is obvious.

That’s fine.

That’s your business decision.

The way you frame the coverage of the Predators is, however, unfair and unacceptable.

And that is why I am cancelling my subscription.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

The victory of Christine O'Donnell over heavily favored Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican primary has national GOP operatives in a tizzy. many of these pundits and "experts" considered her unelectable. However, with the support of conservatives and members of the Tea Party movement, O'Donnell campaigned on a platform of limited taxes, shrinking the government, and curbing spending. The national GOP machinery did not support her or her platform, considering it too radical, too far to the right. Granted, O'Donnell has had some misstatements and missteps in her past, but show me a candidate that has not. These goofs were not enough, in my mind and the minds of the voters in Delaware, to make her unelectable. In the eyes of the national GOP, they were a strike against her, but her biggest mistake was not being "moderate" enough, and therefore, the experts said, not a worthy candidate. Her resounding victory in the primary is indicative of the mood of the electorate nationally. Moderates are nothing more than liberal lite, and we see where that has gotten our nation fiscally. Perhaps the O'Donnell victory is a call back to the roots of the Republican party. More importantly, it is a clarion call to the elites in Washington and the would be king (and queen) makers in the GOP that the public is tired of a government that pays no heed to the voters.

The older I get the harder it is to lose weight. I think it is because my body and my fat have gotten to be really good friends.

In her weekly news conference, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "I see no justification for giving a tax break, going into debt with foreign countries to underwrite the subsidized tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America. Tax cuts at the high end have not produced any jobs, they have only increased the deficit." Either the Speaker is appallingly stupid or economically illiterate. Or both. Regardless of which it is, take a moment to parse out what she is really saying. Allowing individuals at any income bracket- even though she specifically mentions 'the rich'- to keep their money is a cause for concern because our deficit is growing. Nancy, don'cha think the great majority of our deficit problems have to do with profligate spending coming out of Washington? ( I was going to say that Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, but that would have insulted drunken sailors everywhere). Could part of the problem be that you and your colleagues have made it so onerous for small businesses to hire people that they have stopped hiring? To say that keeping tax cuts in place is the cause of our problem is nothing more than a lie. And you, Madam Speaker, are a liar.

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "the" and "IRS" together it spells "theirs"?

Want to really know what Washington thinks about our standard of living in this country? Let me give you a hint. White House Science "Czar" John P. Holdren said in an interview with that he would use the free market economy to "de-develop the United States". Holdren heads up the White House Office of Science and Technolgy and is responsible for dealing with issues ranging from global warming to health care. Holdren first posited this theory in a 1973 book called "The Population Bomb", co-written with Paul and Anne Ehrlich. The money quote from this tome about de-development is this: "Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential if a decent life is to be provided for every human being." None of us would want to deny another human being the opportunity for a decent life. None of us, however, want to be coerced into a redistributionist system run by our government. One of the problems with Washington is that there are too many people that are philosophical kindred spirits with Holdren. They look at your standard of living and say it is "too good". They look at your wealth and say it is "too much". This redistributionist thinking permeates our government at all levels. Pay attention to this thinking and the incremental changes that will be subtly made to attempt to get government hands on more of your wealth and diminish your standard of living.

When I was younger, I wanted a BMW. Now that I'm older, I don't need the W.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Five Predators to Watch This Season

The impending hockey season holds questions for every team. Foremost in every fan's mind is the question "who will step up?" We all wonder which player will pleasantly surprise with their performance; who will continue to improve; and who can turn around their game.

For the Predators, these questions are especially pertinent as some new names have been added to the roster. These questions also apply to some of the familiar names to Predator fans, as some players are going to be expected to elevate their game to the next level to stay ahead of the spirited competition in training camp.

Let's take a look a five players that bear watching in this upcoming season. 

David Legwand

The Predators number one draft pick has been a source of frustration for many fans. Legwand possesses above average speed and great size for a forward, and he is in his prime as a hockey player. Yet last season saw Legwand disappear from the score sheet for agonizingly long periods of time. Legwand tallied 11 goals last year, woefully low for one of the highest paid players on the roster. Legwand has developed into a stellar defensive forward and often draws a shutdown assignment against the opponent's top offensive threats, which sometimes limits his offensive opportunities. Nevertheless, more is expected out of Legwand in terms of offensive production. For this team to succeed in the regular season and have playoff success, Legwand has to contribute more offensively. It is unacceptable for a player with the talent that Legwand has to notch only 11 goals over the span of an 82 game season. Legwand was strong in the playoffs against Chicago, playing his best hockey of the season. It remains to be seen whether Head Coach Barry Trotz can motivate Legwand to play this way in the regular season.  This season represents an inflection point for Legwand: will he elevate his game or will he float offensively? I believe that last season frustrated Legwand, and I look for better offensive production out of this talented but under performing forward.

Sergei Kostitsyn

This signing in the off season led some to wonder what happened to David Poile, the Predators normally conservative General Manager.  Bringing in a player that has had a checkered past- to be generous- seems out of character for the Predators. I think this may turn out to be one of the more astute moves that Poile has made. Kostitsyn has had some well publicized disciplinary problems since being drafted by the Canadiens in 2005- leaving the team when he refused re-assignment to their AHL affiliate resulting in several suspensions and a mid season return home to his native Belarus; and consorting with suspected mob characters in Montreal, to name a few. Doesn't sound like a typical Predator player does it? Here are the reasons why I think that Kostitsyn could be the surprise player for the Predators. He is now 23 and (hopefully) a bit more mature than when he was drafted and brought to North America at 18. Moving him away from his older brother will be, in my opinion, a positive for him. He will have a chance to grow as an individual and not be Andrei Kostitsyn's younger brother. Playing in Nashville will also remove him from the harsh glare of the media in one of the most fervent hockey markets in the NHL. He can be a regular guy off the ice. There is no doubt that he is an offensive talent- he has played 122 games since coming to North America and has tallied 209 points. The question is can he translate that potential to consistent production in the NHL? I think he can. He recognizes this is an opportunity to turn around his game and his reputation. Look for Kostitsyn to be a very pleasant surprise for the Predators.

Colin Wilson

Wilson spent part of last season with the Predators after battling groin injuries that slowed him at the outset of his rookie campaign. Wilson has said that this was the first major injury with which he has contended, and it was as tough on him psychologically as it was physically. That is understandable. Contending with the groin injury affected his play, but nevertheless, he showed flashes of being a number one draft choice. Last season was a learning experience for Wilson; learning what it took to compete effectively at the NHL level and what it takes to be a solid performer every night. Much like Patric Hornqvist elevated his game in his second stint with the big club, I expect Wilson to bring his game to a higher level. Wilson possesses the physical tools, and last season equipped him with the mental tools to be a consistent performer. The game should slow down for Wilson and in turn, I expect more offensive production from him. He has also had a year to mature physically, which will obviously better equip him for the rigors of the 82 season grind.

Matthew Lombardi

The acquisition of Lombardi was ostensibly to replace Jason Arnott, the number one center traded to the New Jersey Devils. The Predators got a player seven years younger than Arnott and one who definitely brings more speed to the ice. The question for the Predators is whether Lombardi can be as productive as was Arnott. Arnott averaged just over 26 goals per season in his 4 years with the Predators.Lombardi had his most productive season with the Calgary Flames in the 2006-7 season with 20 goals, and has averaged 12 goals per season as an NHL player. The Predators can ill afford a loss of 14 goals with this player swap, so it will be imperative for Lombardi to step up his scoring. He brings attributes that the Predators desire in their players: speed, a great work ethic, and defensive responsibility. For the Predators to consider this trade a success, Lombardi is going to have to mesh quickly with his new line mates and begin to put the puck in the net consistently. His speed should create opportunities for both he and his wingers, and he is going to have to distribute the puck and take advantage of scoring opportunities.

J.P. Dumont

J.P. is a talented but enigmatic player that has seen his production drop over the last two seasons (2006-7 21G-45A; 2007-8 29G-43A; 2008-9 16G-49A; 2009-10 17G-28A). J.P. has been overly prone to making a pass rather than take a shot on goal, much to the chagrin of the fans and coaches. As the season wore on, J.P. was demoted to third and sometimes fourth line duty and he saw his ice time diminish significantly. He never complained and continued to compete, but to some it appeared as if he had lost confidence in his shot and his offensive game. J.P. is skillful with the puck and has shown that he can score goals, and the Predators need to have him regain his scorer's mentality in the offensive zone. Getting him to 25-30 goals would be a huge bonus for the team and create some interesting line options for the coaching staff. Mediocre play will once again cause J.P. to lose ice time. That could be an interesting situation for him as he will be one of the players that will be pushed by some of the younger talent in the system if he struggles again this year.

These players are vital to the Predators success. Each needs to elevate their game and contribute more to the upcoming season. If they do so, the Predators will (once again) continue to surprise the conventional wisdom that says they will not make the playoffs in the upcoming season.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The View from Peterson's Parkinson Foundation Benefit

Burton Gilliam of Blazing Saddles Fame; Brian Grant, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers; The View; and the voice of the Predators, Pete Weber

Some of the items available for the silent auction portion of the event

Most of the players were back in town and in attendance to support Coach Peterson. Here are Pekka Rinne and Cal O'Reilly

Ryan Suter

David Legwand and Joel Ward

Shea Weber and Patric Hornqvist

Marty Erat and Steve Sullivan eye some of the prizes

Preds P.A. announcer Paul McCann with many of his fans

Jerred Smithson and Cody Franson. Franson looks to have added about 20 pounds to his frame and said he was relieved to have the contract done. Oh, and the reason he chose number 4 for his jersey number is that it is the number he had worn since juniors.

Predators coaches Peter Horachek and Barry Trotz look over some of the auction items

Kim Trotz, Tammy Peterson, and Sheila Crisp

Sheila Crisp watches her husband Terry sign an autograph

Predators equipment manager Peter Rogers, Head Coach Barry Trotz, and Chad Corzine

Coach Brent Peterson on stage with comedian Henry Cho. Fortunately for the audience, Brent did not try to sing

The View, Mrs. View, and Coach Brent Peterson

Part of the capacity crowd of 500 at the event

The Peterson's Foundation for Parkinson's event held at the Factory in Franklin was a fun event that allowed fans to interact with the Predators players, coaches, and staff. There were numerous high quality auction items up for bid, along with a great meal and excellent entertainment by comedian Henry Cho.

It is always good to see the players and coaches away from the rink and see their "human" or non-athlete side. They are always personable and engaging.

There was a very "human" side to the night, though, that wasn't about sports or off season activities. It was about the fight that two former athletes are currently fighting.

It is a fight for their lives.

Brent Peterson and Brian Grant have Parkinson's. A disease that eventually causes the body to waste away and leads to death.

A disease for which there is no known cure.

Those in attendance saw a very human side of two men that had reached the pinnacle of athletic success in their chosen sport. They competed against tough opponents in their playing days. Opponents that would not back down nor quit.

Brent and Brian are competing against just such an opponent right now. So far, this opponent has won every battle against those that it has engaged.

Brian Grant called Brent Peterson a warrior. Not only as a player and a coach, but as a fighter against this disease. Brian Grant said he was going to be a warrior as well, inspired by a man like Brent Peterson.

The odds don't look good. There is no cure for the disease and it can be a cruel in its latter stages. I know this personally as I watched my mother succumb to Parkinson's.

Warriors don't back down in the face of long or impossible odds. They take the fight to the the foe that is before them.

Brent Peterson and Brian Grant are warriors. They know the struggle before them.

In the midst of an evening of laughter, fun, and interaction with elite athletes, two men stood above the rest. Two men fighting for their lives against an opponent that has never been beaten.

Two men, who in the face of a difficult struggle, let their humanity shine through and served to inspire us all.

Photos courtesy of Denise McCann

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Most of us have engaged in deficit spending. I know that I did not have enough available funds to pay cash for my house, so I borrowed the money. Prudently managed, deficit spending, or debt, is a tool that allows us to make purchases that otherwise would be beyond our current resources. It is when deficit spending gets out of control that problems arise, and left unchecked, deficit spending can bankrupt an individual or a family. A nation is no different. We as a country are now spending far beyond our resources and means and we have shown no sign of restraint. Don't believe me? According to the United States Treasury Department, at the end of the fiscal year 1989, the total debt of the United States was $2.1907 trillion dollars. That is a cumulative number, meaning the total debt of our nation from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. When President Obama was sworn into office in January of 2009, our total national debt was $6.3073 trillion dollars. That means over a twenty year period, our national debt increased $4.116 trillion dollars, an average deficit of just over $200 billion dollars per year. However, in the 19 months that President Obama has been in office, our national debt has increased $2.5620 trillion dollars to $8.833 trillion dollars. As a nation, we are spending an average of $130 billion dollars a month that we do not have. And like many individuals that have faced the same set of circumstances, the financial consequences for our nation will not be pretty or fun.

I used to raise pet doves, but they left after staging a coo.

While we often focus on the fiscal problems at the federal level, most states are having financial difficulties as well. Unfunded federal mandates, slumping tax revenues, and spending that has not adjusted to the current economic realities have all combined to place many state budgets in a perilous situation. While many current financial problems with the states are grabbing today's headlines, the looming crisis that will soon be front and center is the shortfall in state pension funds. States were overly generous in good economic times in promising retirement benefits to employees and have been consistently unrealistic in projecting investment returns. The result is an estimated $3 Trillion dollar shortfall, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If a pension plan in your state is underfunded and facing a deficit, then the state is responsible for making up the deficit. Where will your state get those funds? From you, the taxpayer, property owner, and business owner. Pay attention to this situation, because the remedy will extract more of your hard earned dollars from your pocket.

Have you ever imagined a world without hypothetical situations?

Senate Bill 1619 is now working its way through the various Senate subcommittees. Introduced by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), it is called the "Livable Communities Act" and this sweet sounding bill is supposed to be about energy conservation and preservation of rural areas. In reality, this bill would give the federal government an amazing amount of control over your personal life and the type of dwelling in which you live. SB 1619 forces communities to comply with UN Agenda 21 policy, which dictates the type of roof your house can have, the type of windows, the type of HVAC, and the list goes on. The bill also creates a federal Office of Sustainable Housing which would begin to exert its will on local communities as to the types of housing that can be built. Mandated green improvements such as new windows, HVAC, and roofs are estimated to cost each homeowner $35,000 based on national averages. Think this will not happen? The federal government has already told us what kinds of toilets and light bulbs to use in our homes; mandating these other changes is not a stretch. Do we really need the federal government to be this intrusive into our life?

Sex is like air. You don't realize how important it  is until you're not getting any.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Tempest that is a Tampa Bay 'Tenders Tweets

Dan Ellis, the erstwhile Nashville netminder now with the Tampa Bay Lightning has managed to rile up the Twitterati with a series of opinionated tweets and responses to comments on those tweets. The brouhaha has brought to light some of the advantages and disadvantages of communication in an era of instantaneous give and take.

The first hornet's nest that was rattled by Ellis was his comparison of an professional athlete to a brain surgeon, specifically that both professions required an immense amount of training and sacrifice to be successful and not everyone could do those jobs.

Fair enough.

A person doesn't just walk into the operating room from the street and successfully perform neurosurgery. Neither does one step on the ice and successfully tend the goal for an NHL team.

Danny stretched a bit too far when he compared Paris Hilton to a specialist, which caused the focus to move away from his original point and gave opportunists an opening to assail his original premise.

Danny jumped back in to the fray with a comment about money worries and taking an 18% pay cut (the amount of money that is deducted from a player's salary for escrow payments under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement). The sentiment that Dan expressed was that he was more worried about money now than when he was in college.

Subsequent consecutive tweets from Dan went on to say that he wouldn't expect others to understand his feelings if they were not making a lot of money just like he would not understand the what it was like to risk his life like a policeman or fireman or soldier.

His summation, spread over two consecutive tweets, was, "...U r kidding yourself if u think money makes things easier."

And at that point, the hounds were unleashed.

Some came to the defense of Dan.

Some attacked.


One can argue either side of Dan's two controversial positions, and there are valid points to made on either side of the argument. I have some definite thoughts about what Dan has posited in his tweets, but that is not the underlying issue that requires our attention.

The real issue here is not the opinions of Dan Ellis, but instead how our conversations and communication are evolving in the world of social media and instant communication.

Twitter has grown in popularity because, among other aspects, the communication is instantaneous and , as Dan Ellis has shown, is often stream of consciousness thinking for the entire world to see. In both cases, this can be good or bad.

Twitter has become a source of news for many. Witness the popularity of the medium during the trade deadline or free agency period of the NHL. News of player signings and movement were tweeted almost instantly, and I like many hockey fans was getting updates throughout these times from friends on Twitter.

While this quick flow of information is welcome, the downside of this is obvious. None of the information is vetted for accuracy. Twitter has seen rumors of everything from the death of prominent celebrities (Bill Cosby), outbreaks of diseases (Swine flu, April 2009), and the movement of athletes to rivals or other teams in their particular sport (too numerous to mention).

As with the instantaneous flow of information, Dan Ellis has proven that comments can be blasted into bits and bytes and broadcast all throughout cyberspace without proper restraint.

It is not necessarily that Dan- or anyone- can take a controversial position on any subject that is a weakness of the medium. Most sports fans are used to controversy, confrontation, and good natured conflict that is natural in that arena. No, the weakness is that I or most anyone except the highest profile tweeters can respond with bile and malice aforethought and do it virtually anonymously.

Disagreement isn't bad. I have gathered immense knowledge from those that disagree with my positions on any number of subjects. Disagreement turns destructive, however, when it turns opposition to an opinion or a position into personal attacks.

Suppose you are in a face to face conversation with someone with whom you have a legitimate disagreement. The conversation may get heated, but rarely will devolve into a vitriolic confrontation. Read the timeline of Dan Ellis' tweets beginning after his last tweet about money at 10:18 on September 6th. The next tweet from someone going under the Twitter name "ArsonistSavior" calls Ellis "ignorant". Watching the Twitter conversation that night was interesting as some who disagreed with Dan called him worse things.

Dan waded out into the conversation with the stated intent "to stir the pot" (his words).  There is not a thing wrong with stirring the pot, just be prepared for the reaction that is coming.

As social media continues to permeate our channels of communication, there will be growing pains. The Ellis flap has brought to light some of them:

We want access to athletes and like the fact that we can can communicate with them through a medium like Twitter. We should realize that as athletes they have not sacrificed their right to their opinions as much as we might disagree with them.

Comments made on Twitter are much like comments made among friends sitting around having a beer- in a different moment you might have said the same thing but differently. Twitter is often a stream of consciousness method of communication, and while interesting and many times insightful, is not always tactful.

Dan has now proven- twice- that 140 characters are great to communicate short thoughts or ideas but woefully inadequate to stake out in-depth positions and defend them. You want to debate economic disparities or the sacrifices necessary to reach the pinnacle of a specialized profession? You might want to chose a different venue than Twitter.

Twitter is a venue that promotes a rough and tumble form of dialogue in that comments can be splashed out for everyone to see. No problems with that, but if I take a position that you disagree with and you are going to call me an a$$hole, then don't do it anonymously. Have the courage of your convictions to own your comments, positive or negative, toward me or anyone else.

Personally, I am glad to see guys like Dan or Paul Bissonnette and others on Twitter. Their brief comments provide humor and insight into the life of a professional athlete. I hope they continue on and others join in the social media trend. I don't expect them to be the most eloquent of tweeters not do I expect to agree with everything they put out for public consumption.

Then again, I am not the most eloquent or agreeable of tweeters either.

I will make you guys a promise, though.

I won't call you an a$$hole- even if I really don't agree with you- if you will not call me an a$$hole either.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

The Administration is attempting to craft a new stimulus bill to be introduced at the next legislative session. Not much is decided about what could go into the bill except this: taxes will go up for individuals that make more than $200,000 and families that make more than $250,000. These taxes ostensibly will help pay for some of the dollars allocated to this and previous bills. This is an example of what happens when policy is crafted without real world experience. Without a doubt, individuals and families will engage in tax avoidance behavior should their taxes go up, whether it is working less hours or finding legal ways to shelter income. Unfortunately, the current team of economic advisors to the President comes from academia. That is not a bad thing, but a lack of real world business experience is detrimental to crafting an effective fiscal policy. Only two of the President's economic advisors have real world business experience. What looks good in the classroom or in theory often does not translate well to the real world of working America. Raising taxes in the midst of a recession will make the recession deeper and forestall the recovery.

My mind works like lightning- one brilliant flash and then it's gone.

One often gets the feeling that the mainstream press has a liberal bias. Data recently compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics gives credence to that feeling. According to the CPR, senior executives, producers, reporters, and on air personalities of ABC, CBS, and NBC contributed more than $1 million dollars in political contributions to Democratic candidates in the elections of 2008. These contributions were given by 1,160 employees of these networks. Contrast that with the contributions given to Republican candidates. 193 employees contributed a total of $142,863. There is no problem with these individuals contributing to the candidate of their choice. For the networks to promulgate their neutrality is a sham, however. One can view the nightly news and see the slant is to the liberal causes. Always follow the money to see where the influence resides.

I can safely say I am not part of the problem. I am the whole collection.

A lot of my posts recently have focused on not so good economic news. Now I'm going to change direction. All of us are getting older and can't do some of the athletic things we could do when we were younger. So, I have some new games that we can all play as we age. They are:

  • Sag, you're it
  • 20 questions- shouted into your good ear
  • Hide and go pee
  • Red Rover, the nurse says bend over
  • Pin the toupee on the bald guy
  • Simon says something incoherent
  • Musical recliner
  • Kick the bucket
Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.

And that, my friends, is my view.