Intentional Errors

“I killed a 6 ft snake in my yard the other day. Er…I mean 6 inch snake.”

True story.

On occasion, I see errors in journalism, like the one above, that I suspect may not be errors.

Rather, they’re designed to exaggerate a story, perhaps to get your attention or to elicit an emotion.

They quickly follow with the correction. They can claim accuracy.

But, hopefully the exaggeration sticks in your memory.



We’re all one, more or less

Multiple personalities explains reality?

Yes, that’s what I’ve been thinking. Seems like Nietzsche had it figured out, too. Maybe Carl Sagan.

Health insurance and sports

On Marginal Revolution, it is asked which system should be redesigned from scratch?

My first answer: health insurance.

Many problems in health care (like cost inflation) and employment stems from one simple design flaw: the tax benefit companies receive for buying health insurance that individuals do not receive when they purchase it on their own.

This has caused an unproductive melding of health insurance and employment that aliens would find strange, but we accept as normal.

We don’t expect companies to provide home and auto insurance and those markets are not nearly as mucked up.

My second answer is soccer in the U.S.

Somehow, unlike most of the rest of the world, we wedded sports and schools together from about high school on, including soccer.

I don’t have much problem with it for American sports that are not played widely around the world.

But, it has been detrimental to soccer development. If anyone wonders why the U.S. isn’t in the World Cup and, when we do qualify, we don’t make it far, I believe part answer is school sports.

Our youth soccer culture has emerged to prep players for college soccer rather than World Cup competition, which is a different game (the checkers/chess analogy applies), in several dimensions.

It also changes how the market for players and development of players works at crucial ages.

The U.S. is the Galapagos Islands of soccer.

To the inattentive, it looks like to the sport played elsewhere.

But, being cut off from the rest of the world in various ways has caused it to evolve along a slightly different path, which happens to not be optimized for producing the chess players that operate on the world stage.

Iceland is a good example of a country that went another way. Literally an island, it opened itself up to the soccer cultures of soccer-playing countries and from its tiny population has produced a World Cup team that played to a draw against Argentina last week, which is like Emporia State beating KU in basketball.

The answer is almost always, ‘not enough reps’

As a coach, I’ve noticed that too many coaches and parents vastly underestimate the amount of repetition required to gain competency in the sport’s core skills and tactics.

They seem to think that if a kid practices something a few times, they should be able to do it competently from then on.

I’ll admit, I was once in that camp.

But, I learned fairly quickly that when a player is flubbing a basic, the answer is almost always that they haven’t had enough quality reps, usually by several orders of magnitudes.

A lot of people knowledgeable about the sport miss this because they don’t remember all the reps they put in over the years.

The better kids on the fields are usually the ones who have accumulated the most reps.

Some have had the benefit of coaches that knew the right reps to work on and focused on those in a reasonable order.

Some have benefited from having family, friends, siblings or neighbors that helped provide quality reps — mainly through fun activities that they didn’t really think were reps — like simple games of catch with a baseball or OUT with a basketball.

You can tell a kid a million times to get their shoulders over the ball, instead of reaching in, for a tackle and they will still reach in. It’s sort of like telling a kid to do calculus instead of algebra. It doesn’t work, unless they have the right preparation.

The only way I’ve seen to correct reaching in is lots of repetition on basic foot skills like inside-insides, passing and dribbling, because all these train players to keep their feet and shoulders in a rectangle — the athletic position — and use their full body to control the ball, instead of just their feet.

Some thoughts about immigration

Similar to my previous post about tariffs, I also notice an asymmetry in the way the media reports it when the U.S. wants to enforce its immigration laws but doesn’t seem to mention how other countries enforce their immigration laws.

This is especially true when the media reports on officials from other countries criticizing the U.S., but doesn’t mention how well the officials’ countries enforce their immigration laws or whether they believe their own countries should be as lenient as the officials suggests the U.S. should be.

I also think it’s strange that folks often come down on the side of not enforcing immigration law, but not nearly as often do they suggest we change immigration law to better suit their preferences.

I personally think we should change the law by raising the limits on how many immigrants are legally allowed to immigrate to the U.S. But, I also do not think it’s bad for countries to enforce their immigration laws.

Most do and it doesn’t seem nearly as controversial as when the U.S. does.


Some thoughts and questions on tariffs

There seems to be an asymmetry in the way the media and economists treat the U.S. threatening/imposing tariffs and the way they treat other countries having and threatening tariffs.

For example, when Trump threatens a tariff, the media reports it as if a the sky is falling. Sometimes they briefly mention the other country has a tariff on U.S. products, sometimes not, but usually don’t give much details — like how much the other country’s tariff is or how long it has been in place, nor do they mention why it’s okay for that country to have a tariff, but not the U.S.

Same for economists. Rarely do I see a rebuke of the other country’s tariffs, just on the U.S.

Also, since economists feel so strongly about tariffs, I wonder what they think about other forms of taxes, in general?

Doesn’t sales taxes impact trade in similar ways? How about income and payroll taxes? Why are tariffs especially bad, but other forms of taxes don’t receive much wrath from economists?

I can personally say that I have the same distaste for all forms of tax, but I also understand they are a necessary evil to fund some of the good things that government contributes to society. But, I remember they are all evil, not just one particular form or another. They also have really poor feedback mechanisms to ration diminishing returns of government services. More is always better…it seems.