Friday, December 11, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Army-Navy

It’s been a rough week on the Internet, even with the Army-Navy game coming tomorrow afternoon.  So much of the news has been either banal or outright depressing.  It’s been a struggle to find five things worth talking about.

I confess that I’m not much looking forward to tomorrow’s game, nor to additional reminders of all the ways in which this year’s Army football team has underperformed.  Sure, Army’s players are all going to serve, and CBS is going to celebrate that like it’s the most important part of the game.  It may well be.  In the meantime, though, they’re still athletes.  It’s still appropriate to celebrate—or not—the value of their athletic accomplishments.  These guys are going to be soldiers soon enough.  For now, let’s let them be football players and take the game for what it is.

Researchers led by Binghamton University's Celia Klin report that text messages ending with a period are perceived as being less sincere, probably because the people sending them are heartless…
[T]he experimental messages featured an invitation followed by a brief reply. When that reply was followed by a period, subjects rated the response as less sincere than when no punctuation was used. The effect wasn't present in handwritten notes.
Who knew?
"Laugh it up, fuzzball!"
[H]is plan limit[s] how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses…
[B]ecause of Mr. Rubio’s efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces…
“If you want to be involved in the exchanges and you lose money, the American taxpayer should not have to bail you out,” Mr. Rubio said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
That’s a brilliant piece of legislation, and I’ll bet it’s going to pass.  Both sides of both houses of Congress want to move forward and set a direction for this country.  Democrats would have to scuttle their only successful spending bill in years to save what is a transparent bailout of an unpopular industry, and I don’t think they will.
I’ve been neutral on Obamacare, but I hate the idea of purposefully setting up unprofitable marketplaces backed by explicit government guarantees.  It’s lunacy.  It cries out for an entirely new era of fraud and white collar crime.  If that’s the plan, why set up a marketplace at all?  The so-called “market” just adds a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to an otherwise straightforward government program.  That program may or may not be a good idea, but bad execution of it is unforgiveable.
As an aside, this example also shows why we need professionals in the legislature.  Successful democratic government is a series of uncomfortable compromises of the type that Rubio is pushing right now, and if you want your side to succeed, you need to have someone in your corner who knows how to use leverage when it’s available.  We’ve had six years of futile House grandstanding over the ACA.  Then one man strikes when he has the leverage to do so, and it moves the conversation.  That’s government.
3.  Turtles!

I know what you’re thinking, but I really enjoyed the first TMNT movie of this new series.  Saw it with my kids, and we all thought it was hilarious.  This one looks great in exactly the same way.
As an aside, it looks really weird to see the Green Arrow out there as Casey Jones.  That said, it’s nice to see Stephen Amell doing something upbeat for a change.  Amell seems like a good guy, but man, Arrow is dark as shit sometimes.
Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, enacted in 2013 after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown when a gunman killed 20 schoolchildren and six staff members before killing himself.
It’ll be interesting to see if the NRA fights him on this.
5. Army-Navy Preview (Fox Sports)
The No. 21 Midshipmen have posted a record 13 straight victories in the series, and Keenan Reynolds can become the first quarterback to go 4-0 in the rivalry's history Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Navy (9-2) has outscored Army 417-142 during the run that began after the Black Knights' 24-18 victory in 2001…
Army (2-9) again doesn't look like a formidable opponent with a four-game losing streak as part of its 18th losing season in 19 years. As has generally been the case during their skid in the series, however, the Black Knights have a chance to salvage a losing season by pulling a major upset.
Reynolds also posted a longshot bid to win the Heisman Trophy this year, though it doesn’t seem like many in college football took him all that seriously.  It could be that there’s no money in Navy Football—at least for stakeholders outside of Navy itself—and that’s what kept Reynolds out, but who knows?  
It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Reynolds next year.  The Navy is letting long snapper Joe Cardona pretend to serve his commitment at their prep school while working full time as the New England Patriots’ long snapper, so it could be that the Navy in general is simply no longer greatly troubled by what its former players get up to after they graduate.  Their admirals have certainly been known to cut loose from time to time.  Or maybe they’ll surprise me and put Reynolds on a ship somewhere, doing his duty and guarding our nation’s interests overseas.  That would be a good thing.
It should be noted in all of this that former Army safety Caleb Campbell was not allowed to take a cushy Prep-school style job after being drafted by the Lions in 2008, and thatSteelers’ left tackle Alejandro Villanueva served his full five year commitment—including a stint in a Ranger battalion—before defecting to the NFL.  Meanwhile, Colts’ inside linebacker Josh McNary served two years full time as a Field Artillery officer at Ft. Hood, and Atlanta Falcons’ fullback Colin Mooney served three before entering the draft late and being taken by the Tennessee Titans in 2012.  With the exception of Villanueva, those guys eventually all got reserve commitments similar to what Cardona got right after graduation, but they all had to serve for real on active duty first.
I suspect that the way all of this this plays out for Reynolds will be directly related to where and when he gets drafted.  Cardona did the Navy a favor by winding up in spot that’s close enough to USNAPS that they could at least try to give him something useful to do.  If Reynolds winds up in Indianapolis or Green Bay, the fiction of “duty at the Prep School” will be a lot more challenging to maintain.  
Don’t get me wrong.  I hope Reynolds gets a chance to pursue his football dreams eventually, I just think he ought to fulfill at least some part of his commitment to the nation first.  Educations at the military academies are not scholarships, so Reynolds—and the rest of his teammates—owe the nation something in return for their time at Annapolis.  That is the deal, and it’s not a secret.  I simply want taxpayers to get their money’s worth out of these kids—and you should, too.  It is neither wrong nor un-American to ask both sides to fulfill a contract.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s game isn’t likely to be overly competitive.  Navy is nationally ranked and has a team full of seniors, while Army has a team full of plebes.  Coach Monken and his staff are working hard to close the talent gap, but they’re not there yet.  
The line has Navy favored by three touchdowns.  Indications are that plebe Chris Carter will get the start on Saturday after his impressive performance against Rutgers a few weeks ago, and that’s probably the right move.  Carter isn’t big, but he’s quick, and he throws pretty well, and he’s going to need both of those attributes to move the ball Saturday.  The strength of this year’s Army team has been its defense, so if Army can move the ball, they can at least keep the game competitive.  They played well in games where the offense performed, even against good teams.  However, if we see more of the mind-numbing fumbles that have killed Army all season, this’ll be another year of watching those lousy, pasty-faced squids dance like monkeys on national TV.
Eh.  They’ll probably look like that regardless, but at least if Army wins, they’ll be sad-faced about it.  That’d be a nice change.
That’s all I’ve got, folks.  Have a good weekend!

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