02.29.20

mock draft, and why the eagles need patrick queen

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:39 am by Administrator

two-round mock without trades. then we get into the details.

round 1:

1. cincy: joe burrow
2. washington: chase young
3. detroit: jeff okudah
4. NYG: andrew thomas
5. miami: tua tagavailoa
6. LA Chargers: justin herbert
7. carolina: derrick brown
8. arizona: tristan wirfs
9. jacksonville: ceedee lamb
10. cleveland: jedrick wills
11. NYJ: mekhi becton
12. oakland: jerry jeudy
13. indy: isaiah simmons
14. tampa: javon kinlaw
15. denver: henry ruggs
16. atlanta: aj epenesa
17. dallas: cj henderson
18. miami: grant delpit
19. oakland: kristian fulton
20. jacksonville: k’lavon chaisson
21. philadelphia: patrick queen
22. buffalo: yetur gross-matos
23. new england: jacob eason
24. new orleans: jordan love
25. minnesota: xavier mckinney
26. miami: laviska shenault
27. seattle: trevon diggs
28. baltimore: justin jefferson
29. tennessee: tee higgins
30. green bay: kenneth murray
31. san francisco: paulson adebo
32. kansas city: cole kmet

round 2:

33. cincy: austin jackson
34. indy: jalen hurts
35. detroit: zack baun
36. NYG: terrell lewis
37. LA Chargers: alex leatherwood
38. carolina: trey adams
39. miami: d’andre swift
40. arizona: jalen reagor
41. cleveland: justin madubuike
42. jacksonville: leki fotu
43. chicago: jonathan taylor
44. indy: josh jones
45. tampa: aj terrell
46. denver: julian okwara
47. atlanta: jeff gladney
48. NYJ: kj hamler
49. pittsburgh: raekwon davis
50. chicago: tyler biedasz
51. dallas: marlon davidson
52. la rams: curtis weaver
53. philadelphia: antoine winfield, jr.
54. buffalo: kyle dugger
55. atlanta: hunter bryant
56. miami: neville gallimore
57. houston: jaylon johnson
58. minnesota: prince tega wanogho
59. seattle: antonio gandy golden
60. baltimore: brycen hopkins
61. tennessee: ross blacklock
62. green bay: denzel mims
63: kansas city: damon arnette
64. seattle: solomon kindley

the philadelphia eagles are a team with lots of cap space, lots of draft picks, and lots of holes. they have a strong o-line but really no other major competitive advantages, and i would rate their overall level of talent as average. the 2020 draft can’t be a quick fix; it has to be the foundation of a longer-term rebuild that will survive the scheme and coaching changes that are sure to come as soon as next season. that means we need to find versatile players, particularly on the defensive side, and we need playmakers who are smart enough to adapt and learn on the fly.

this is the second mock in which i have us taking patrick queen in the 1st round. i’m convinced that he will be the best option for us at pick 21, and i’m not even sure we could find a better fit for this team by trading up 5-10 picks. queen is athletic enough and instinctive enough to not only replace nigel bradham but also bring an entirely new dimension to this defense. for the past few years, jim schwartz’s linebackers have been one-dimensional one-gap run defenders, which made us solid against the run and very inconsistent against the pass. we need a guy like queen in order to take a safety out of the box and give us the new looks we need against teams looking to exploit us with vertical routes.

in round 2, instead of taking an interior d-lineman, i’m going with safety, and i feel great about antoine winfield, jr., who like queen has a nose for the ball and plays with strong instincts and toughness. as there’s a steep drop-off at linebacker after queen, there’s definitely a steep drop-off in value after winfield and dugger come off the board, so if safety is a position we’re going to prioritize in the draft, round 2 is a good place to grab our guy.

obviously WR and CB are the more popular projections for the Eagles in rounds 1 and 2, but i don’t like the mocks i’m seeing. frankly, the WR talent after ruggs is strong but undifferentiable down to the 20th prospect, and i don’t see much advantage in having oft-injured laviska shenault versus strong upside prospects like denzel mims, donovan peoples-jones, michael pittman, sage surratt, and chase claypool, several of whom will be there for us in the 3rd round. and while we won’t find a day one starter at CB in round 3, i’d argue that after jeff okudah and kristian fulton there really are no sure things at CB in this class, as intriguing as it is. we’re going to have to buy a couple of veteran cornerbacks in free agency, no doubt about it. like i suggested in my last entry, i think we should hold back and wait for bargains, because there will be bargains at CB this off-season.

so why not come away from the first 3 rounds of the 2020 draft with an elite linebacker in queen, a starting safety in winfield, a backup offensive tackle like calvin throckmorton to replace vaitai, and a solid receiver like michael pittman to push jeffery, jackson, arcega-whiteside, and ward? it’s not the “sexy” draft for the fans that are obsessed with skill position speed, but it’s the one that will give us the makeover we so desperately need.

02.28.20

projecting the s&p

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:55 am by Administrator

this is a futile exercise… but on the heels of my 12/15/19 and 2/2/20 entries, here’s where i see it going over the next year:

March 6: 3100. the market shrugs off a step-down in consumer confidence and opportunism prevails.

March 20: 2900. non-travel related ncov cases are identified in several US cities, albeit in small numbers.

April 3: 3100. bogus reports of effective treatment with ribavirin or truvada are published.

April 17: 2700. Q1 corporate earnings tank; Europe and Japan are in recession; US GDP contracts.

May 1: 2600. Quarantines established in most major US cities. Global count is 150,000 confirmed cases.

May 15: 2400. Incidence of new cases in U.S. peaks. sanders emerges as Democratic nominee.

June 5: 2600. Vaccine approved by FDA. Renewed Middle East violence. Fed Rate goes negative.

June 19: 2400. Civil unrest in American cities under quarantine. China lifts all travel/work restrictions

July 3: 2200. American death rate peaks. 2nd quarter of Euro/Japan recession is confirmed.

July 17: 2400. Vaccine deployment begins. American military action against Iran.

August 7: 2600. Incidence in U.S. and Europe sharply decreases. Fed holds steady. Eurodollar stabilizes. Unemployment rises to 7%.

August 21: 2800. Effective treatment is confirmed. Trump projected to win in November.

September 4: 2400. Repo rates skyrocket. New wave of European sovereign debt crises.

September 17: 2200. Sanders pulls ahead. Trump authorizes bombing of targets in Iran. WTI spikes and CPI hits 3.0.

October 2: 2000. Fed pushes interest rates into slightly positive territory. Broad corporate debt defaults. US in confirmed recession based on Q1/2 GDP data. Coup in Iran leads to regime change.

October 16: 2200. Congress deadlocked on stimulus. Fed projects a rate increase as inflation escalates. Global epidemic tapers, but new flu season raises concerns of a 2nd wave.

November 6: 2300. Sanders is confirmed as #46.

November 20: 2000. Fed raises rates to combat inflation. Gold hits $2500. Sanders pledges to attack big pharma. China fires on a Taiwanese naval vessel.

December 4: 2200. Unemployment dips under 6%. Massive fiscal stimulus is passed, including bail-out of pension funds.

December 18: 2000. Retail data shows worst Black Friday in decades. U.S. recession projects to carry well into 2021. brexit deal completed.

02.27.20

voted for bernie… but hoping biden will win

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:27 am by Administrator

it’s awfully strange that democrats are complaining about having plenty of options to choose from. from my recollection, it’s the most interesting panel of legitimate candidates that i’ve ever had to choose from. isn’t that how politics should work? in 2016, i voted for a candidate i didn’t like mainly because i disliked the other guy more. maybe in 2020, i’ll actually be able to vote for a candidate i like and agree with. i consider that a privilege.

i sent in my ballot yesterday, and i’ll be candid about my choice. i voted for bernie sanders, partly because i respect him as a human being, but mostly because i’m aligned with his ideals and his policy positions. that being said, i find myself in an awfully odd position, in that i voted for a man that may not be the best man for the job. in theory, i’m all for a single-payer health system, price controls on pharmaceuticals, the active and accelerated redistribution of wealth to promote a more equal society, demilitarization of the country, an aggressive stance on reducing carbon emissions, dismantling of the prison-industrial complex, universal free college tuition, and a borderless post-national society. but in practice, i believe that social order and the rule of law come before all else—and anything that fundamentally threatens that order will ultimately threaten us all.

bernie is my favorite bulldog, but i’m not sure he won’t bite my friends. that’s sort of a problem.

when i take the “isidewith” quiz with america’s best interests in mind, i align most strongly with klobuchar and biden, both of whom i also like a great deal. here’s the thing that pulls me more to the center when i really think about it: i really don’t think that americans as a whole care enough about universal healthcare coverage to warrant a radical stance like “Medicare for All”. sure, it’s ultimately the most cost-effective and ethical way to govern health care, but that doesn’t mean that the country is ready and willing to pull that way. and if there’s any lesson we learned from barack obama, it’s that if you take choice away from americans, they will never forgive you for it. sanders is asking americans to concede freedoms in exchange for a more equal society. americans don’t want a more equal society, and they treasure their freedoms, even the stupid freedoms like the right to own assault weapons and refuse vaccines.

i’m not so secretly hoping that joe biden will win the nomination. if it happens, i’ll be personally sad, and i’ll be especially sad for bernie, a guy who essentially embodies my hopes and dreams for society. but biden is more like to steady the ship when the waters get choppy, and they’re going to get plenty choppy in the times ahead. we can chip away at barriers to healthcare access, and i’m certainly in favor of reducing costs by bringing big pharma to its knees at the bargaining table, but for better or worse we are stuck with the private health insurance industry and we should work through them (and not around them) for the time being.

if i had to rank the issues of greatest importance to me right now, they would be as follows: 1) fiscal policy, 2) foreign policy, 3) costs of healthcare delivery, 4) immigration reform, and 5) reduction of carbon emissions. i would table gun control legislation and major healthcare reform as “high value but low feasibility” projects.

fiscal policy comes first because it represents for me the cardinal sin of the current administration: massive deficit spending with unjustifiable tax cuts on businesses and wealthy individuals. i think “modern monetary theory” is irresponsible, and moreover we’re not in the kind of economic depression that should warrant such a broad federal government stimulus. we have to recognize that the current fiscal policies risk not merely a sovereign debt crisis but more profoundly a default on social security and pension payments to retiring baby boomers. as it is, we need to start having discussions about raising the retirement age and scaling back social security benefits for everyone except for the extremely poor. that conversation is obviously a difficult one, but this merely highlights how critical of a priority our fiscal policy has to be right now.

foreign policy is priority #2, and unfortunately there’s much to fix here after trump’s nationalistic america-first program for the past three years. the united states needs to ensure the sustainability of its global influence particularly in east asia, in order to prevent a potential economic cold war with china. it was a bad idea to withdraw from the tpp, the paris climate accord, and the iran nuclear deal, and some of that damage will probably be quickly reversed with a democratic president. beyond this though, i think that global tensions continue to necessitate a strong american military presence around the world, and cutting the defense budget (often a favorite campaign stance for the democrats) at a time when the U.S. very much needs to reassert itself seems both inadvisable and naive.

even if we can’t forge a single payer healthcare system over the next ten years, we can reduce the costs of healthcare considerably simply by forcing price controls on big pharma. gavin newsome’s aggressive stance toward the pharmaceutical industry is a terrific model for how the feds should proceed. yes, this may tank pharma stocks and adversely affect the job market for skilled professionals, but we’re having a health care crisis precipitated by exorbitant technology costs that are specific to the american market, and price controlling the industry is imminently necessary now. i also think that we should be able to introduce a public option for all americans within the next two years, as an eventual transition to a single payer system down the line.

immigration reform is my fourth priority because it should be both easy and highly impactful. dreamers should be granted citizenship—outright citizenship, not some vague “path to citizenship”. more broadly, the rhetoric about people of color needs to change in this country in order to mitigate the ever insidious racial tensions that really do put the future of our social order at risk. trump’s mishandling of white nationalism has been harmful and counterproductive, and the stability of this society hinges on our ability to curb the conversation quickly before it leaves to widespread unrest.

last but not least is carbon emissions. it is the single most important issue facing humanity right now, but i place it fifth on my list because the other four issues more directly affect the solvency and sustainability of the american nation; the U.S. cannot be part of a solution to the global environmental crisis if it is consumed with existential crises of a more immediate nature. i do worry that the pace of change required to avert a point of no return in global warming could deepen the economic recession that is already forecast for the next 12 months; but the government must be nevertheless committed to regulations that will force the emergence of cleaner technologies, all-electric personal vehicles, and reduced fossil fuel consumption

02.26.20

discipline, coronavirus, and advice for bernie sanders

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:32 am by Administrator

as I did with my son when he was 7 years old, I had the conversation with my daughter (now 8) about discipline. the trigger for conversation in both cases was an uninspired piano lesson that reflected a distinct lack of effort and interest.

I can’t recall exactly how the conversation with my son went more than five years ago, but I do remember standing over him and delivering a rather stern lecture about how I wasn’t going to pay any more money for piano lessons that were expensive and unjustified. that one conversation may have been the most transformational one he and I have ever had, because right after that my son totally changed his approach to the piano, to reading, and to his studies in general. I sometimes wonder if the rigor he manifested thereafter was not a response to trauma in some way.

in any case, this time I happened to add some new content on the fly to the conversation I had with my daughter. I told her that discipline is the commitment to doing something that you don’t want to do. as an example, I referred of course to myself, a man who goes to work every day and does all kinds of unpleasant, hard labor that I’d definitely prefer not to do. I told her that if it were up to me, I’d stay home and watch TV all day. but because of discipline, I go to work every day instead because goddamit someone has to pay the bills.

now, I wasn’t quite as fierce and emotional as i might have sounded, but my daughter cried nevertheless and made various professions afterwards about her intention to go to bed on time and practice piano more diligently. I found myself wondering this morning as I left the home whether she feels guilty now that every morning I go off to this terrible place where I’m pushed around or perhaps even tortured a little so that I can scrap together enough money to keep the lights on and perhaps occasionally buy her an ice cream. is that really the vision of my life—grudging self-sacrifice and subsistence-level survival—that I want to give my daughter, as a compelling rationale for discipline?

not to mention that perhaps that picture of myself wasn’t even true to how I feel about work. don’t get me wrong: work is a bitch. it’s always been a bitch. but I’m mature enough now to know that I do get a lot out of work beyond my paycheck and benefits. I get to help people; I get to exercise leadership; I get to learn about myself in all kinds of interesting ways; I get to experience a deep satisfaction from connection and service that I wouldn’t be able to receive so easily otherwise. back when I was religious, I looked at work as my way of “working out my redemption”; but now I think it’s a lot simpler for me. work allows me to experience, in my own way, the integration of lives.

I’m realizing that someday I will have to have a follow-up conversation with my daughter—a conversation about the life I lived outside of the home that opened my eyes to both the suffering of the universe and the possibility of awareness and peace in the midst of it. much of my life has been work, and my life has been better for it. I hope she’ll come to understand, as I’ve come to understand, that discipline is not really about doing things that you wish you didn’t have to do; it’s about treasuring one’s well-being so much that one does what is necessary to preserve it. that’s all.

back on February 2nd, I wrote an entry about how frightened I was of the coronavirus. now, I feel very much resigned to experience it socially, psychologically, and perhaps physically as well. I see it now, not so far off, a tidal wave partially lit by a waning moon, gathering force and rising against the horizon, like a silent and steadily building terror. and here I am standing on the beach, realizing that I can run for the hills, but no matter how hard I run or how far I get, I will be overtaken by the tsunami, and everything behind me will be destroyed. this is how I feel about the coronavirus pandemic. it is going to shatter the social order as we know it, and many many people will die. I’m past blaming the CDC, the WHO, the Dow Jones, and the media for underplaying the impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have. I’m just sitting with myself now, angry at a man I don’t know for bringing an infected animal to a market, sad about the many lives already lost, and resigned to the devastation that we are all about to experience in one way, shape, or form because of a terrifying viral infection that simply cannot be contained.

if there is a silver lining to the social upheaval we are about to experience, it is that the unfolding events will almost certainly tilt the American public toward the left-leaning presidential candidate. it’s a thin silver lining, but it’s a reason for hope nonetheless. like I’ve written previously, I have no ill will toward our current president, and from what I understand of his accomplishments, I think his administration has actually done some very positive things for the people. but I’ve also written that I believe him to be lacking as a moral leader and as a statesman, and I think that the nation will experience less suffering as a whole if we have someone more disciplined and mature to lean on in the difficult times to come.

if Bernie sanders is to be that man, I have this advice for him. don’t present yourself as the candidate for change. present yourself as the candidate for stability, because the present times call not for radical change but for stability in the face of awesome change. there is a way to present healthcare reform, a renewed focus on environmental preservation, and new investments in our educational system as stabilizing policies in the face of destabilizing forces—the forces of greed, corruption, racism, and warmongering. for the past three years we have had a leader who constantly challenged us with his impulsivity, randomness, emotionality, and belligerence. we could use a commander in chief who earns our trust not with ideologies but rather with consistent and sensible ideals. be that man, and the American people will support you

02.22.20

eagles: pre-combine reflections

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:28 pm by Administrator

two years after super bowl 52, i look back now and see that triumphant season for what it really was. it was beyond impressive; it was miraculous.

most every super bowl team of the past two decades featured a top-tier quarterback and a well-established coaching group with a track record of success. belichick and brady, reid and mahomes, and carroll and wilson all come to mind. most every super bowl team built on the foundation of a stellar QB-head coach tandem; they were teams with a consistent philosophy that played the game a specific way and forced their opponents to try and stop what they did best. most every super bowl team of the past twenty years finished the season the way they started—with the same core guys, the same game plan, and the discipline to execute week in and week out.

most every team—except the eagles. the 2017 eagles came off an uninspiring 7-9 season, re-tooled with aged veterans, replaced their starting quarterback three-quarters of the way through the year due to injury, and rode a seemingly washed up backup quarterback who’d nearly retired a year before to an utterly shocking championship victory. this was not a team like other super bowl teams. that eagles team won because of remarkable leadership at every level of the organization. guys like legarrette blount, torrey smith, malcolm jenkins, and nick foles brought maturity, perspective, and leadership to the locker room and to the field, while coaches like frank reich, john defilippo, and jim schwartz brought those same qualities to the practice field and to the film room. you could call it chemistry, or you could call it remarkable resilience. whatever it was, it was nothing short of magical.

i lay that out as context because i realize now that the very idea of sustaining the success of that super bowl team defies reason. that wasn’t a team that won because of a system or philosophy. it was a team that grew out of unique circumstances and special relationships and discovered a transcendence for which there is no formula. we have to recognize there was no way that the 2017 eagles were going to spawn a dynasty of winning teams. what they created was just a singular, remarkable moment in time—a miracle that cannot be replicated.

for better or worse, the management of the eagles has to understand now that the 2017 team does not offer us a formula for how to build a championship team in 2020. the fact is that most NFL champions win with elite quarterbacks, innovative coaches who stay ahead of the ever-evolving curve, and systems that effectively capitalize on the talent that they have. the eagles have lacked all three of these things for the past two seasons, and that is why we have failed to resemble anything close to a championship team.

in my book, carson wentz is possibly the 8th best quarterback in the league right now, behind mahomes, jackson, wilson, brees, rodgers, foster, and brady; additionally, there are several other quarterbacks who might be generally inferior but certainly outplayed him in 2019, including kirk cousins, dak prescott, and ryan tannehill. at his current rate of development, i would not be surprised if kyler murray and joe burrow surpassed wentz in 2020. possibly being in the conversation as a top-10 quarterback does not qualify wentz as an elite quarterback right now. the personal issues with his teammates, the gnawing lack of pocket awareness, his utterly uninspiring efficiency as a passer, and his inconsistent decision-making under pressure all raise concerns that he’s really failed to develop adequately over his first four seasons and perhaps may stall in his growth without proper mentorship. frankly, i think wentz needs someone to teach him the game, and i don’t see that mentor on our coaching staff right now.

regarding our coaching staff, i’ve already written at length about how i perceive doug pederson—a congenial big-picture guy who routinely mismanages critical game situations, prepares poorly for opponents, and generally displays a lack of attention to details. his lack of discipline has translated to a precipitous decline in team discipline and performance since the 2017 season, and for all these reasons i would hardly call doug pederson a sure thing at the head coaching position. i’m more than prepared to see him further exposed over the course of the 2020 season, and i expect our pattern of slow starts, stalled offensive drives, and painfully inconsistent execution to continue until we bring on a legitimate offensive coordinator to take over the play-calling.

if the eagles have something close to a philosophy, it probably has more to do with our roster composition than our offensive or defensive schemes. the strength of this team continues to be in the trenches. our best games this past season were the ones when we did not rely on wentz’s improvisational passing and instead leaned on a power rushing attack. jordan howard and the o-line earned us wins in green bay and against buffalo, and the defense was able to apply just enough pressure to keep rodgers and allen uncomfortable. what’s profoundly disappointing is that the eagles as an organization do not seem to realize that controlling the line of scrimmage is their core competency. the RPO-based short-passing game is cute and all, but it is not how the eagles win games. i wouldn’t be surprised if the eagles pass on re-signing jordan howard, but that would be just the next in a long line of recent roster move mistakes committed by our front office. like the 49ers and the titans, the eagles have to figure out how to win with the running game for as long as our lines can sustain that competitive edge.

it’s for all these reasons that i contend that the eagles won’t fix their problems simply by loading up young talent at wide receiver and cornerback. if there was just one thing that the eagles could do to make a significant leap this year, it would be to bring on the right OC for carson wentz. it appears that they passed on that critical opportunity, and as a result i don’t think we can expect dramatically different results in 2020. as with 2018 and 2019, the eagles continue to lack the basic foundational elements necessary to win.

all that being said, i’m hopeful that we can make the best of the 2020 draft and position the team for success in 2020. the redskins and giants will continue to be hindered by below-average QB play, and the cowboys may actually regress a great deal this year if they lose key defensive playmakers to free agency, so the eagles still have a shot at the NFC East title and a playoff game.

i’m going to present two scenarios now: the Howie Roseman scenario (what i think he’s going to do) and the alternative scenario (what i think he should do to best position the team for success in 2020 and beyond):

the Howie Roseman scenario:

1. we go out and buy either chris harris or byron jones to address priority #1—cornerback.
2. we sign cory littleton to a big money contract.
3. we re-sign rodney mcleod to a 2-year team-friendly deal to avoid laying out big bucks for the likes of clinton-dix.
4. we renegotiate malcolm jenkins’ contract and make him one of the top-3 highest paid safeties in the league.
5. we double-dip at speed WR in the draft, taking jalen reagor in the 1st and kj hamler in the 2nd before drafting a safety and cornerback in the 3rd.
6. we move on from jason peters, to commit to dillard’s development.
7. we move on from jordan howard and commit to miles sanders as the undisputed 3-down back.
8. we trade alshon jeffery and a late draft pick to cut our losses and start the youth movement with reagor and hamler at wide receiver.

the “alternative” scenario:

1. we go hard after yannick ngakoue and chris jones and land one of them, in a tag and trade scenario if necessary. $18 mil a year—we pay up knowing that our declining pass rush has to be priority #1 for this off-season.
2. we re-sign both jason peters and jordan howard, knowing that the power rushing attack is how we bring home the bacon in 2020. dillard just isn’t good enough to take over at LT, and sanders for all his talent just doesn’t attack the hole the way howard does.
3. we move on from mcleod and bring clinton-dix on board for big money, knowing that mcleod just wasn’t good enough in center field in 2019 and is solidly past his prime now.
4. we pay malcolm jenkins. i don’t see a scenario where we don’t give the man his due.
5. we wait on cornerback in free agency and end up bringing on darqueze dennard and prince amukumara on bargain deals. the plethora of strong cornerbacks in both free agency and the 2020 draft class rewards the teams that hang back and exercise some patience with the cornerback market.
5. we draft patrick queen (linebacker) in round one and install him as a day one starter.
6. we draft a falling raekwon davis (defensive tackle) in round two.
7. we take antonio gandy-golden (WR) and antoine winfield jr (S) in round three.
8. we keep alshon jeffery, get him back for week 1, and start him alongside desean jackson.

02.19.20

jenny and the pool

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:44 pm by Administrator

I find that my mind periodically finds new fixations, which it likes to ruminate on slowly and over many sittings. it will fit those ruminations to moods, or it will tease moods from the ruminations. like anything or anyone trying to conjure a purpose for itself, my mind will eventually spin a tale of identity from these thoughts. I can see it happening from a mile away, but it can’t be helped or prevented. once faced with this new or even startling view of myself, I know that the process of rumination is finished; its end result, always incomplete and unsatisfying, prompts the genesis of a new fixation, and so the process continues.

recently, my thoughts turned to jenny, the first woman I loved. at the start, there was a messy collage of lurid and embarrassing moments: awkward conversations, the wrong words, a moment when I was confronted and failed to admit to my true feelings. thirty years later, I still find myself cringing at these memories, though less because of the personal hurt and more because of my increasing awareness of the other—the Jenny who was more than an object of my affection. as frustrated as I was and continue to be at what was said and not said, there is the general frustration of the universe that pervades my memory of the situation now. love, when it cannot be properly expressed, leaves a residue of bitterness. there is, even among the more tender memories of our moments together, that faint sense of bitterness.

it is because of this memory and others that I recognize that so much of what humanity experiences is the frustrated expression of love. our aggression and hatred are the bitterness that comes from a passion for something beautiful that was, by some pressure or pain, redirected to something no less forceful but seemingly more cruel.

it is through this lens of perspective that I understand what happened to my daughter in the pool of the hotel we stayed at this past weekend. one morning while playing in the pool, another young boy splashed her in the face unpleasantly and yelled “coronavirus” at her. she did not admit it to us for several hours, because the moment had shocked her. but as with most moments that cause her an unexpected pain, she shared it later on in the flow of an entirely unrelated conversation. it was as if by suddenly revisiting that moment in the midst of safety and familiarity she could dispel the sharpness of its shame. my wife was enraged.

I was tempted to be angry at the boy, who was white. there were so many compelling reasons to read into that one interaction a whole history of racist oppression, and I wanted to feel those things. but in my inner stillness, I recognized that I had a choice about fixation—about how to see what had happened, how to judge the actors in the situation, and how to weave from it a sense of my own positionality. I didn’t so much restrain myself from anger as much as redirect that passion. you see, just as frustrated love goes to bitterness, so can indignation move, by pressure and pain, toward understanding and awareness. this young boy has been surrounded his whole life by people who are afraid to lose their way of living or even their very lives. is it any wonder what he received through their love and affection was a fear of those who might put his life at risk? the love that keeps the tribe together is also the fear that keeps them apart from others. this is the essence of a covenant; it is what has kept tribal mythologies like the Christian religion alive.

perhaps my daughter was a victim of unfair judgment; but perhaps it was all of us sitting around that pool—parents, children, heirs of the centuries gone by—who were the victims of love and its consequent fears. all passion is the same passion. it is suffering

02.09.20

eagles mock #3

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:31 pm by Administrator

on the heels of my post earlier this morning, here’s my top-21 mock #3. i won’t bother with the rest of the 1st round since who cares? nothing that doesn’t involve the eagles interests me about the NFL—hence my decision to skip the super bowl game yet again. i heard that the chiefs won… totally indifferent.

1. Cincinnati: Joe Burrow
2. NY Giants (trade up with Was): Chase Young
3. LA Chargers (trade up with Detroit): Tua Tagavailoa
4. Washington: Jerry Jeudy
5. Miami: Justin Herbert
6. Detroit: Jeff Okudah
7. Carolina: Derrick Brown
8. Arizona: CeeDee Lamb
9. Jacksonville: Isaiah Simmons
10. Cleveland: Tristan Wirfs
11. NYJ: Jedrick Wills
12. Vegas: Laviska Shenault
13. Indianapolis: Jacob Eason
14. Tampa Bay: Javon Kinlaw
15. Denver: Henry Ruggs III
16. Atlanta: AJ Epenesa
17. Dallas: Kristian Fulton
18. Miami: Grant Delpit
19. Vegas: CJ Henderson
20. Jacksonville: Jalen Reagor
21. Philadelphia: K’Lavon Chaisson

in this scenario, the Eagles do the right thing and pass on tee higgins at wide-out, trevon diggs at cornerback, and patrick queen at linebacker; and they’re in a good position to wait on these positions after having signed darqueze dennard, robby anderson, and cory littleton in free agency. having learned from his previous mistakes, howie roseman doesn’t sacrifice draft capital to trade up for henry ruggs and instead sits tight, taking the guy we really need at pick 21: K’Lavon Chaisson, the uber athletic terror on the edge who will usurp derek barnett’s snaps in year one. Chaisson projects to be not only a fast, bendy 4-3 edge but also a superior run stopper and an excellent coverage linebacker when needed. he’s a guy you can keep on the field on every down.

we should focus on safety in round 2, taking either kyle dugger or antoine winfield.

Eagles, Coronavirus, and the Democratic Strategy

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:39 pm by Administrator

the two main questions the eagles have to address going to this off-season are as follows:

1. do we have the coaching staff needed to develop carson wentz into an efficient quarterback?
2. do we have the pass rush necessary to executing jim schwartz’s defensive scheme?

sure, there are other questions floating out there. what are we going to do to improve our receiving group? how are we going to address our flailing cornerbacks and our thin safety rotation? but these are focused questions, and we’re going to address these through free agency and the draft. the main questions are strategic in nature, and i’ll argue that they require bigger changes than a draft pick or a single free agent signing.

the coaching changes made by management—scangarello’s addition and press taylor’s promotion in particular—represent insignificant tweaks to a system that still rides entirely on doug pederson’s tactical abilities. like i’ve written, i believe that the past two seasons have raised considerable concerns about dp’s ability to get the most out of his offensive unit and out of carson wentz in particular. first quarter scoring, the red-zone play-calling, and the overall execution of the offense frequently reflected poor discipline and inconsistent game planning. removing the OC position and surrounding pederson with a bevy of new assistants isn’t the right solution for a team that needs a significant shift in focus. i am more than happy that we ditched mike groh, but i’m truly disappointed with what we’ve chosen to do otherwise.

do we have the right unit on the d-line? most mock drafters have us focusing on wide receiver and defensive back in the first three rounds, but i think we’re missing the point if we narrow our focus on those positions. while the defense was situationally bad against vertical routes, our defensive results were a mixed bag overall because of how poorly we established our pass rush when we really needed it. i think we need to ask ourselves right now whether derek barnett is our future at defensive end. he was not good in 2019; he was not good technically, and he was not good psychologically. for stretches of the season, josh sweat looked like the better long-term option at defensive end—and josh sweat isn’t good enough yet to be considered a legitimate starter on the edge. with brandon graham entering the final season or two of his prime, it’s the edge unit that presents the most difficult (and important) strategic concern for this team. sure, we can buy byron jones or chris harris to plug a hole in the secondary; but we are not in an immediate position to beef up a pass rush that is definitely in decline.

i’ve mocked defensive tackles to the eagles in my last two mocks, and i think that it would be a mistake for us not to strongly consider trading up for javon kinlaw or k’lavon chaisson if the opportunity presents itself. getting a blazing fast receiver might look copaesthetic, but that’s not going to make the eagles a playoff winner in 2020.

regarding coronavirus, i’ve said it already: this is a global pandemic that is going to paralyze the american economy in short order. i find it interesting that the talk in the media has been overwhelmingly about the theoretical—impacts on stock prices and trade—with exceedingly little focus on the practical: what we will have to do to slow person-to-person spread once we’ve established that the pandemic has reached most urban areas of the united states. there has to be some forward-thinking, practical scenario planning right now so that we have an organized response to the inevitable. in the worst-case scenario, we do too little too late, and instead of a slowly developing american epidemic with a controlled response, we have a run on the emergency rooms and on the banks, resulting in chaos.

i worry that the democrats are risking a splintering of the party at just the time when they require a united political front. right now, i don’t believe that the democrats have a compelling message to white workers in swing states. for certain, socialism won’t sell itself, and combating trump’s xenophobia is a losing cause for a nation that is veering toward nationalism. as much as i like bernie sanders and what he stands for, i’m of the intellectual elite, and i know that i appreciate him for the very reasons that most people fear him. he’s not the guy that america needs. america needs a less stupid version of joe biden right now.

as much as i worry about the democrats, i worry even more about the future of the GOP. like them or hate them, we must acknowledge that there’s an important place for a conservative faction in government. i’m going to grant that trump has done a lot less damage to the U.S. than i thought he would do; and i think that he’s accomplished a lot of good oddly enough, including bump stock legislation, meaningful criminal justice reform, negotiation of a landmark trade deal with China, renegotiation of NAFTA, and withdrawal of american troops from syria. but trump has failed to represent a unifying ideal for americans, and his tax and fiscal policies represent a marked departure from anything resembling fiscal conservatism, which could portend doom for a whole generation of retiring americans. the Republicans are supposed to be the check and balance on government spending; they’re supposed to be the ones advocating for a balanced budget and proper management of our debt. the fact that the GOP leadership has contributed to american insolvency is perhaps the ultimate irony of our times

02.05.20

90 days

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:49 am by Administrator

it’s been a whirlwind since I started my new job almost 90 days ago. I didn’t even finish my week one orientation for four weeks because I got pulled into crisis management on my second day of work. my first week was a four-day week after a holiday, and I think I logged 60 hours that first week regardless! in my first month, I met with the Board of Directors twice to address the company’s serious financial situation; in my second month, I managed out one of my direct reports; and in my third month, I helped organize a strategic planning retreat that laid the groundwork for a financial salvage plan (still in the making) and a restructure of the leadership group.

but here are the achievements I care about most:

1. I introduced myself to one of the young nurse practitioners during my first week on the job. she tearfully admitted that she was burning out and considering an offer from another practice. I listened, cried with her, and over the following two weeks changed her job schedule so that she would stay.

2. I talked with another nurse practitioner relatively fresh out of training who was struggling in his job, taking it out on his staff, and hurting the culture of his team. I told him a story about an old friend of mind who’d similarly struggled at a clinic I’d worked at almost ten years ago; and I convinced him that he wouldn’t find what he was looking for here. he appreciated that conversation, and a week later he gave his notice of separation.

3. I dug into an outlying lab cost and identified a situation in which our providers were using an unorthodox and highly expensive diagnostic test. i discovered that the root cause was a drug rep who had infiltrated our clinics and convinced a few providers to use the test routinely. i presented my findings to the providers who were most frequently ordering the test, and they made the decision to use a cheaper (and more cost-effective) alternative. that decision alone will save my organization about $3000 a month.

4. i inquired into why my providers weren’t using our linguistic interpretation system appropriately, learned about its performance issues, asked the account manager of the relevant organization to come on site, and got her confirmation that this issue required an improvement plan specific for our company. i expect that we’ll be renegotiating our rates with them as well.

5. when the electronic medical record system went down for the 2nd time in a week’s span, i personally pitched in to see the backlog of patients and made it clear to my providers that no patients would be turned away. the operations director told me it was the first time they’d heard that message from a leader in my position.

6. i made a difference for a young man between jobs with severe depression; i helped appeal an IPA denial of an elderly man’s chronic pain referral; i prescribed a plan that helped a woman with intractable migraines; i got a young woman with severe tension headaches to admit to a history of sexual assault and connected her with crisis counseling.

7. i assured a young physician assistant that a delayed diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis wasn’t her fault, because it wasn’t her fault, and because she needed to hear that.

8. i assured another young physician assistant that her pronounced anxiety upon coming back to work after extended medical leave related to an aggressive patient was a normal part of her healing process but also an important thing for her to allow and to experience in safety. there were patients on her schedule, and the company’s tenuous finances rely on every billable visit we can get—but i sent her home and checked in with every day thereafter. she came back to work the next day; she did it.

9. i took a walk around the block with a young pediatrics provider who was leaving our company and told her that if she ever came back, I’d make sure that she was given the opportunity to make work better for her and for her colleagues. three weeks later, she texted me and asked me if she could come back. she’s two weeks into the job here again, and she’s already making the improvements in her department that were long overdue.

10. i listened to my boss in her moment of crisis and assured her that she was doing what the company needed her to do.

11. i went back on my word and rescinded the salary adjustments that I’d initially approved to keep a staff member from leaving. that’s going to be a tough conversation in a couple of days; but making the right decision for the company was more important than my word.

12. i gave my sincere thanks to the providers of this company, who for years have heard nothing but criticism for their lack of productivity and electronic medical record proficiencies. one of them, the most outspoken of them, told me it’s making a difference.

13. i asked a physician to do extra shifts at our busiest clinic, and he didn’t like it, but i didn’t ask him to do anything that i wasn’t willing to do myself, and ultimately he agreed.

14. a patient complained to our member services department about one of our providers, a good provider. i got on the phone, personally apologized, took care of the medication refills she’d requested, and thanked her for forgiving us and sticking with us through thick and thin. she thanked me and said it sounded like we had our act together.

15. the board members have thanked me for the way that i explain things to them.

16. i reviewed and revised 42 clinical policies and procedures in my second month on the job and authored two new policies to address walk-in/late patients and the company’s vacation policy: two of the longest-standing pain points for the organization’s employees.

17. i helped an angry woman with arthritis know that her pain and her anger with it wasn’t her fault.

18. i helped a colleague in another department understand how important her work was to me. she told me it was the truest example of leadership she’s experienced at this company.

19. i stepped in to do a Saturday clinic when a new physician forgot to show for her shift. she was so embarrassed about it when she arrived; but it was my privilege to make amends, because it’s a mistake that i made myself once upon a time on a Christmas eve ten years ago.

20. i suffered through sleepless nights; i groveled for help with on-call coverage; i slaved through one painful budget meeting after another; i took calls from providers who were angry about staff and slow computers. i persevered through three of the most intense months of my working life; but i made it to 90 days

02.02.20

coronavirus and its implications

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:15 am by Administrator

am i worried about this coronavirus epidemic in china? you better believe i am!

eleven years ago i gave a presentation to my colleagues at kaiser about the swine flu pandemic, and i told them that i wasn’t afraid of nuclear war or biological warfare—but i was definitely afraid of a novel pandemic virus. i think back on that time nowadays, because this situation is potentially far worse. while the case fatality rate of this coronavirus epidemic appears to be lower than that of SARS (for the time being), this coronavirus nevertheless represents the sum of my fears. i believe that global spread is inevitable based on the estimated transmissibility of the virus (R value) and its probable capacity for asymptomatic transmission, and our only hope to limit the ultimate impact of the disease is a vaccine, given the negligible herd immunity we have at baseline. this does not mean that millions of people are going to die of nCoV; but it does mean that morbidity on a global scale could be very significant, and social disruption is highly probable.

in preparation for the inevitable spread to the United States, i believe it will be necessary for the government to establish clear protocols for the public to follow in being evaluated for fever and respiratory disease. the current case definitions include a criterion for travel to China (or close contact with a China traveler). in 1-2 months, this will no longer be a relevant criterion, as non-traveling americans will be spreading the disease to other americans. as it will be impossible to differentiate coronavirus cases from seasonal influenza cases, community providers will struggle to differentiate these cases and appropriately recommend home quarantine or higher level care for the coronavirus cases. as the community health systems are overwhelmed, and as the community providers themselves contract disease and shut down their access points, the federal government will have to establish specific access points for triage and isolation. this of course will be a recipe for a national emergency and the shut-down of non-essential workplaces and schools. in the end, only 2-3% of infected people may have serious or fatal complications of disease; but the impact on the american service economy could be massive and enduring. a vaccine will likely take 4-6 months to develop and test; it won’t be rolled out fast enough and in sufficient quantity to impact these developments.

i believe that this is a probable scenario, but this is certainly not the worst case scenario. in the worst case scenario, we discover that the case fatality rate is vastly higher than what is being estimated from partial data out of china; or we learn that there are long-term complications of the disease (i.e. encephalitis) that occur in some proportion of infected individuals. that worst-case scenario will resemble the movie Contagion. i don’t think that is likely based on what we’re seeing of the Chinese epidemic at present, but it is not impossible.

as per my prior post, i sold off much of my domestic and international equity portfolio on january 2nd, and i’ll be selling off the remainder of it in the coming weeks, given my steadily increasing conviction that this is the “black swan” event that will trigger a sell-off in an already steeply overvalued global equity market. that is the lesser of my concerns though. i now have to consider whether or not my healthcare company will be able to stay open and provide services once the pandemic hits my region. in the worst case scenario, we will have to close our doors in order to protect our staff and providers from infection. on a personal level, i have to weigh the consequences of taking my kids out of school and completely isolating ourselves from social interaction. there’s no doubt that i’ll be shifting liquid assets to gold while stocking up on emergency supplies—enough to ride out at least 1-2 months of home quarantine.

i’ve never before taken these measures, and i’m not ordinarily a doomsday/conspiracy theorist. but this quite simply is the doomsday scenario i’ve been afraid of for more than a decade, and it is now dramatically manifest, even as it is being underestimated and misinterpreted by the media. the federal government and our health authorities need to be on top of this, but even if they do everything necessary, i’m not sure it will be enough to preserve the social order as we have known it