Education Matters

Just a quick view on the employment stats, broken out by education level.  This is from the US Department of Labor, so clearly not a global data set, so your mileage may vary for other countries.

People who had less than a GED (High School Diploma) had an unemployment rate of 17.6 and 16.5 in Jan 2010 and Jan 2011 respectively.  High School graduates had rates of 11.5 and 10.7 in those same time frames.  If you had a bachelor’s degree your rates were 5.1 and 4.5 in the same time frames.

I would guess this SHOULD provide a pretty good evidence that the state of education is directly tied to the employment state of the country, and therefore fixing education would go a long way to fixing the job situation.  I’m less confident that the politicians will do anything about the problem, since the trend seems to be cuts.


Where have I been?

I know I’ve been slacking on keeping this blog up to date recently, and as a manner of explaining I want to let you know I’ve been working on my OTHER blog.  Yeah I have two, and the other blog is just launching so it got a lot of my attention.  It’s called The Random Chef, and it’s a cooking blog about recipes, stories, advice, and other cooking related topics.  Drop by if you are interested, and if not do not fear.  I’ll be posting on this site more regularly now too on topics like politics, the Superbowl, computers and security, and anything else that catches my fancy along the way.

Thanks for your patience waiting and I’ll have more gems to share (I’ll call them gems until proven otherwise) very soon.

Posted in Life, My Life. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Vikings were here first?

It appears to be the case

In your face Spain and Portugal!

Coaching changes in Dallas and talk about the Playoffs

Well I can’t resist talking about the playoffs, but before I do, I wanted to provide a few thoughts on the coaching shifts that are happening in the Cowboys camp.

In a less-than-surprising move, Jerry Jones picked Jason Garrett as the new head coach for the Cowboys.  That move was well understood and predicted, even with the Rooney Rule and some high profile coaches possibly in the mix.  Then we find out that Paul Pasqualoni (Defensive Coordinator) is leaving to coach UConn and Ray Sherman (WR Coach) is leaving as well.  So while I can’t give Garrett a free pass given he was Offensive Coordinator during the “free fall” part of this season, I also can’t fault the choice because when given the task of turning the Cowboy around, he did a good (not great) job.  Making other coaching changes makes sense to cement his style for next season, and also is a way to show the players that things will be different next year.  Here’s to hoping diferent eqautes to better.

And then there are the playoffs.  Seattle, really?  Who knew?  As a person from Seattle I’ve become so leery of hoping that the Seahawks might put together a solid season, that even winning against the Saints seem more of a fluke than anything.  That said, I’d love to see them come in and take down the Bears.  I’m not betting on it, but I’d love to see it.

My predictions for the games this week:

  • Pittsburgh v Baltimore – I have to give the edge to the Steelers, they have shown a solid dominance of this series when Big Ben is playing and they are healthy, both of which will be true this weekend as far as I know.  The Ravens CAN beat the Steelers, I just don’t think they will, but this will be a great game.
  • Green Bay v Atlanta – I’ll admit to knowing the least about Atlanta of any of the playoff teams.  For some reason I’ve just not read, watched, or followed much about them.  Green Bay is on a roll, but I’ll tip my hat to Atlanta on this one, based on rest and record. 
  • Chicago v Seattle – As I said above, I’d love to see the Seahawks pull off another surprise, and I love a good underdog story, but I do believe that the Bears will really just out play Seattle and win.  IF Seattle has another game like last week from the offense and the defense finds a way to capitalize on the Bears mistakes, they could do it, but I think this game is the Bears to win or lose, and Seattle will depend on mistakes made if they are going to win.
  • New England v New York – Sorry Jets, but you aren’t making it out of this one alive.  Talk is cheap, and so far the Pats have the wind at their backs and have for a while this season.  Off field antics and talk are not going to shift things enough to buy you a win. 

To be certain, I’m not a person who has ever claimed I am good at predictions, nor do I follow the  stats and injuries etc closely.  Heck I don’t even play fantasy football.  So if you are considering these predictions when thinking who to bet on, I’d recommend coin flips will be just as accurate.  We’ll have to wait and see, but in the mean time it’ll be a great weekend of football.

Update from the weekend’s play:

Well I suspected a coin toss would be as accurate and I was about right.  The winners this weekend were Steelers, Packers, Bears, and Jets.  That puts me at even for wins to losses.  Of the teams I didn’t pick, I’ll tip my hat to the Jets who played a great game against the Patriots and deserved that win.  Green Bay also played a great game, but I’ll have to say that the Falcons played like a team that shouldn’t have been sitting on that record.  So here comes a good rivalry in the Bears and Green Bay at Soldier Field and the Jets Steelers game at Heinz Field will be a great one too.  I love great games and these both promise to be great.

Nothing profound

Just wanted to say Happy New Year, and best wishes for a prosperous New Year as well.

A missed extra point, who does that?

Now I wonder, whose job is more at stake?  Buehler or Garrett?  I mean the Cardinals aren’t exactly the team a resurging Cowboys team should lose to, right?  And it almost didn’t.  Almost. 

After a 14-0 deficit from 2 INTs, you’d think things were out of hand.  At 21-3 the stat guys even had bad news for the Cowboys, it was back in the 80s when the Cowboys had overcome a deficit this large (18 or more) to win.  But giving credit where it is due, Kitna and Stephen McGee (after Kitna was hurt) didn’t let that slow them down, and the team rallied to get a 26-24 lead at the 1:46 mark of the fourth quarter.  It should’ve been 27-24, but Buehler missed the extra point.  Yep, that’s right the extra point.  But with 1:46 left and a lead, it just takes some defense and the game is done and a great comeback is in the books.  Oh wait, did we need defense?  Well so much for that one.

The Cowboys have already allowed more points this season than at any time in club history.

Season Points allowed
2010 423
2004 405
1962 402
1989 393

So the wondering public (or maybe just me) is wondering, who takes that credit and who takes that blame?  Sure Garrett can’t control the INTs, and the comeback was great.  But an L is still an L and he’s now not the wonder kid replacement coach he might’ve been.  Yet in the end, the extra point, wasn’t extra nor a point because Buehler missed what has got to the most practiced kick in the NFL, college, and even highschool I’d guess.  He’s missed 2 of these in his last 40 attempts.  Is that coaching, or just bad player discipline, bad form, or bad luck?  I’ll let Jerry Jones make  that call, but my opinion is it isn’t luck, and player skills are improved by discipline and practice, which is a coaching issue.  The play of the entire defenseive unit, which could’ve made that kick not so important, lacked what was needed as well.  Coaching. 

So despite all of this, we knew the Cowboys were not going to playoffs, but there is other news to watch.  Stephen McGee played well, taking his first NFL snaps in this game, and doing well with the team and handling the situation nicely.  Sure he’ll need more time under center to get finely tuned, but he played well.  And curiously, despite the abysmal season for the Cowboys, they got 5 selections for the Pro Bowl starting team this year, with only Atlanta and New England getting more this year.  Witten is having a great year. 

So in the end, the Cowboys seem to be exactly what the season indicates.  A talented group of individuals, not a talented team.  Let’s hope the off-season changes the team dynamic for the better.

It should’ve been over, Cowboys

In previous posts I talked about how much happier I am that the Cowboys seem to be playing better, and the games are entertaining.  However, I really thought that entertaining should be interpreted as winning, not winning, then losing a big lead, then kicking a field goal in the last 50 secs, then depending on our 31st-in-the-NFL ranked defense to hold.  That kind of nail biting drama I prefer in my theater experience, not my Sunday football.  I’ll concede that it was an exciting game, but with the Cowboys history this season the comeback had me thinking the collapse was upon us (again). 

Dallas led 13-0 before Grossman had crossed midfield. Washington coach Mike Shanahan’s benching of Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7.

They could’ve been up even more, but had only field goals to show for drives that reached the 20 and 2, and didn’t have anything to show for drives that reached the 1 and 18.

Still, the way the game was going, what could go wrong?

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The good news is that they did hold and the game was won on that Field Goal.  But it really shouldn’t have come to that.  But then again that is the story of this season for the Cowboys.  It shouldn’t have come to that.  So what’s next?  The Cardinals and the Eagles.  Looks like a split to me, W from the Cards and a L from the Eagles, for a 6-10 finish.  Maybe if the defense can manage it, the Eagles game is a W as the Eagles lay up for the playoffs.  There is a difference in how this plays out, and likely Garrett’s ongoing role as head coach is at stake.

Not only did the Cowboys somehow manage to transform a blowout laugher into a staggering-to-the-wire victory over the Redskins, Jason Garrett’s future as the head coach may have been hanging in the balance.

Asked after a 33-30 survival if he had any such doubts, Garrett answered firmly, “No, not for a second. We live in the present.”

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Jerry Jones was happy, but he wasn’t so direct about the future role of Garrett:

“I was like everyone else, I thought we had it tucked away, and it was going to be a cakewalk in the second half,” Jones said. “But the way it ended, I’m not looking at the negatives. I want to stress that again. Our team came back and got it done. For today, that’s what I’m taking away from this game.”

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So IF Garrett is to have a future as head coach, I’ll wager he has lots of work to do. 

  • Fix the defense.  Sure they used to be an impressive defense, but things have not been working for them and they are next to last now.  Clean it up, replace slacking players, if needed change the Def Coordinator (who is interim after Phillips left?)

The bottom line is that some of new coordinator Paul Pasqualoni’s changes have not worked. How could anyone expect otherwise? When basically nothing was working for Phillips, it’s an achievement that anything at all is working for Pasqualoni.

But the problem is that the players who have been to Pro Bowls – Newman and his fellow corner Mike Jenkins – often look as beatable as the secondary’s rookies and unproven players.

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  • Better play calling on the offensive side.  Yep, this on is Garrett throughout the season.  He should be doing better to get the offense moving and stay moving. 

The Cowboys raced out to its big lead thanks to good field position in the first half. In the first quarter alone, Dallas started drives at the Dallas 46 (Bryan McCann kickoff return), the Washington 30 (McCann punt return), the Washington 27 (Gerald Sensabaugh interception), and the Washington 35 (McCann punt return). However, Dallas only managed 13 points on those drives thanks to some shaky play in the red zone.

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Now with some players hitting good marks, like Witten (congrats to you Jason on your achievements) and Kitna doing well, the questions remains, is the coaching staff the problem, or just slow on the solution?  With no playoffs in the picture, I guess we have time to find out.  And it shouldn’t have come to this.