Archive for June, 2016

Breaking Brad

June 22, 2016

I’ve been watching Copa America 2016 en espagnol.  Not just the USA matches, either.  But what I’ve seen of Team USA’s performances has been rather discouraging.  To my untutored eye, the core of the team’s weakness (but not its only one) is midfielder Michael Bradley.  Too much hesitation in choosing whether to pass or dribble; too many passes directly to an adversary’s boots when teammates are within reach; too many attempts to dribble past a defender with better ball-handling skills than he has, too many clearing kicks that a sprinting winger can’t reach.  At times he almost seemed to be playing (half-heartedly) for the opposing team.  If I were a betting man (I’m not), I’d be wondering who his bookie is.  Why is this guy team captain?  It’s a rhetorical question: I really don’t care enough to know. He’s probably a nice enough guy, but Leo (Durocher) had something to say about that in the context of sport.

So, unlike many Americans –who will only root for a winner– I’ll watch the Copa America consolation match for third place.  I want to see whether or not this pattern of behavior will continue to be evident in a match that doesn’t much matter.  Then I might be able to decide whether Bradley is a player whose cognitive processes and athletic skills begin to break down under psychological stress, or whether alternative hypotheses should be considered.  But I might not blog about my conclusions later.


Roll Tide Roll

June 5, 2016

An 8th grade teacher in Alabama was recently suspending for asking students to answer some rather unorthodox word problems on a math quiz.  Among them:

“Leroy has 2 ounces of cocaine.  If he sells an eight ball to Antonio for $320 and 2 grams to Juan for $85 per gram, what is the street value of the rest of his hold?”

As far as I’m concerned, any teacher who asks this question OUGHT to be suspended … until s/he completes some remedial education in the field of applied economics.  That’s because besides being racist and overly-simplistic, this particular formulation reflects a grossly incorrect understanding of market realities in the recreational drug industry of Gulf Coast Alabama.  It assumes a market structure in which African-American mid-level dealers (“Leroy“) are supplying retail customer Latinos (“Antonio” and “Juan“) with what is basically a South American agricultural product.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Who’s really furnishing the cocaine supply in Alabama?  Enterprising free-market Mexican entrepreneurs operating as logistics specialists on behalf of Colombian manufacturers.  And who’s buying?  As usual, the 18-to-34-year-old demographic:  white, black, brown and yellow.  In pretty much that order.  So here’s a more realistic phrasing of the math quiz question:


“Tyler scored 2 oz of coke from Bubba the shrimper, who brought in a load from the Gulf for Don Arturo. If Tyler sells an eight ball to Bryce for $320 and 2 grams to Muffy for $85 per gram, what is the street value of  everything left besides his head stash?”

And some follow-up questions:

  • How much cash did Tyler have to front Bubba for the 2 oz?
  • Why does Muffy get a better unit price than Bryce? (As if you didn’t know.)
  • Will Tyler, Bryce and Muffy graduate from high school this year?