No Nevada Union upset pick this week

My prediction last week that Nevada Union would upset No.4 Rocklin was looking pretty good at half-time, when the Miners led 28-21. Then NU managed to give up 3 touchdowns in less than 4 minutes in the third quarter, creating a 14-point deficit it couldn’t overcome.

minersSo much for a Cinderella story: The clock struck midnight and now the Miners have to face No. 1 Del Oro at home tonight. There’ll be no upset this week, but NU shouldn’t have to endure the embarrassment of a running clock: I have the Miners a 16.5 point underdog.

Other Sierra Foothill League games:

–Folsom over Granite Bay by 26.5 points;

–Oak Ridge over Woodcreek by 18 points.

bruinsBear River did not look impressive going into last week’s game against No. 20 El Dorado–it’s only win was against a really bad Union Mine team. But the Briuns took it to the Cougars, cruising to a 28-7 victory and taking over El Dorado’s No. 20 slot in The Sacramento Bee’s ratings.

Bear River travels to unranked Sutter tonight for its last game before the start of Pioneer League play. My projections suggest the Bruins shouldn’t look past this game–I have it a toss-up, with Sutter favored by a point. (Everybody else in the league has a bye.)

BOTTOM LINE: My picks went 2-1 last week, with NU the only loser. I’ll take a 67 per cent win rate every week.


Posted in Uncategorized, Sports, Nevada Union football, Bear River football, Sierra Foothill League, Pioneer Valley League | Leave a comment

These are not the best of times for Trump supporters


A ‘veteran’ trolling for votes–or something–at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco

You cannot be happy if you’ve cast your lot with Donald Trump, because this has been a bad week for his candidacy.

First, he lost the debate to Hillary Clinton before a Super Bowl size television audience–even the experts Fox News lined up after the debate said he sucked. His supporters were reduced to citing several notoriously unreliable Internet polls to claim he won.

In a process that continues to repeat itself, Trump then got bogged down in a debate over his treatment of a former Miss Universe–was he justified in calling her Miss Piggy?–instead of taking the battle to Clinton. But you know Trump–he refuses to let any criticism of his personal conduct go unchallenged.

He’s since been thrown some more red meat that’s guaranteed to keep him off course: Forbes magazine now estimates that his fortune has declined by $800 million in the last year, primarily because his New York real estate is worth less.

This is the latest battle in a guerrilla war that’s been going on for decades. When the magazine puts together its annual Forbes 400 list of wealthiest people, most of those on the list want nothing to do with the magazine’s researchers.

But Trump actually tried to convince them a couple of years ago that he was worth more than the magazine claimed; The Donald was not amused when the magazine refused to budge from its number. You can bet this latest slight won’t go unchallenged.

Now comes a report that Trump tried to circumvent the economic boycott of Cuba several years ago in an effort to make a buck. If the story is true, his Cuban-American supporters in the Sunshine State won’t be happy, and Florida is a state he has to have to win the election.

As it is, he may run out of money before he runs out of rope. The Trump campaign has said it will spend $140 million on television advertising between now and election day, but he apparently doesn’t have the cash. However, he has been buying a lot of ads at Breitbart News.

All of this is good news for Hillary. Trump’s poor performance in the debate failed to close any of the ground between him and the leader, a task that will be more difficult as we get closer to election day and Clinton’s superior get out the vote operation in battle ground states starts to have an impact.

But that  doesn’t mean she has the election in the bag–Hillary has shown the ability in the past to shoot herself in the foot. But you have to like her chances when Trump’s supporters are reduced to praying for an October surprise.

Posted in Democratic Party, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After a 2-year hiatus, football picks are back with a major upset

Readers of this blog from the start may remember I ran a test during the 2013 football season to pick winners of league games in the Sierra Foothill and Pioneer Valley leagues. The test was a success as I went 23-5, an 82 percent win rate.

minersThat’s a pretty impressive record when you consider that all I knew about the teams was what I read in the papers, didn’t attend any games, and had no particular insight into how good they were.

But I have learned after many years of sports handicapping that point differential–points scored vs. points surrendered–is a good basic measure of how strong a team is. Since these are high school kids, I didn’t think I needed to get much more sophisticated than that, and I was right.

bruinsSo I wrote a simple computer program that tracked the differential of each school in the two leagues, adjusted for the strength of schedule based on opponents’ differentials, and let the program tell me who would win the league match-ups.

I’m going to run the experiment again this season, and will include college and professional picks later–I don’t like to make predictions until I have four games worth of statistics. The Pioneer Valley League (that includes Bear River) doesn’t start league play until next week, so this week I’m going to focus on the opening week of action in the Sierra Foothill League.

Sierra Foothill League

This has not been a good place for the Nevada Union Miners, who have yet to win a  game–not one–going 0-17 in league play. The school’s athletic brain trust has made no secret of its desire to exit the SFL as soon as possible, but they’re stuck for a couple of more years so they have to stand and fight even if it means taking more lumps.

Well, if my numbers are correct, the Miners will make history tonight by winning their first league game over Rocklin, ranked No. 4 in the region by The Sacramento Bee. The Miners have gone 2-2 in non-league play (a 100 percent improvement over last year’s one-win season) and figure to show well against a Rocklin team that hasn’t looked good despite a 3-1 record. In fact, I have the Miners favored by 7 points.

Other league action includes:

–Folsom by 33 points over Woodcreek;

–Del Oro by 25 points over Granite Bay.

I’m not going to make a selection in the Bear River-El Dorado match-up tonight because this is the fourth game for each team (El Dorado won by forfeit last week), and it has been my experience that you need at least four games in the books to make an accurate prediction,  a policy the Associated Press Top 25 college poll should follow.

The college boys are entering their fourth week of play and we’ve already seen three top five teams beaten–including then No. 2 Florida State losing to Louisville by 43 points!–and last Saturday, seven of the top 25 went down.

Early season rankings are based on a school’s reputation, which is why you usually see the same suspects in the pre-season top 10 every year, and the perception of how good a team will be this season based on returning players and the 4- and 5-star recruits they have brought in.

As all of the early season “upsets” show, this technique doesn’t work well. I’ll wait a while longer.

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Does Trump have syphilis? That would explain a lot

Now that it’s clear she won’t be indicted or jailed before the November election, opponents of Hillary Clinton are peddling a story that she is gravely ill and thus unfit to serve as president.

Fight syphilis and gonorrhea

Trump’s ‘personal Vietnam’

These arm-chair doctors–none of whom have medical degrees or ever seen Clinton’s medical records–have concluded that she has Parkinson’s disease, a chronic progressive nervous disease marked by tremors, weakness of resting muscles, and a shuffling gait.

The speculation ramped up when Clinton almost fainted at a 9/11 memorial event–caused by her walking pneumonia, according to her doctor–and her opponents started imagining symptoms of the disease from every misstep or anomaly.

Does Clinton have Parkinson’s? How would I know, I’m not a doctor. But I can play this game too, and that leads me to question the mental health of her main opponent, Donald Trump.

Trump has long promised to release a full medical report on his health, but like a lot of his other promises, he hasn’t kept this one either. He tried to settle the issue with a hastily written letter from his long-time physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, in December that was widely mocked and ridiculed. So Trump decided to try again recently with a more detailed letter based on a recent physical exam.

He used the syndicated television show of Dr. Mehmet Oz to reveal the information. Oz has been widely criticized for his endorsement of several questionable alternative medical treatments, and members of the faculty at the New York University School of Medicine protested recently when administrators tried to hire Oz to teach a class.

Oz is known to be a supporter of Republican candidates, and said before Trump’s appearance he wasn’t going to ask any embarrassing questions. That’s the kind of platform Trump needed to gloss over any medical problems he might have.

As it turned out, Trump’s medical report consisted of the standard lab and other tests people are given when they have a routine medical exam. The lab results disclosed by Bornstein put Trump in the acceptable range for men his age, and the doctor pronounced him to be in “excellent physical health.”

Bornstein said Trump is blessed with good genes because his father lived into his 90s and his mother into her 80s (but he didn’t mention that Trump’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease in his late 80s), and reported The Donald has “extraordinary” strength and stamina, but provided no objective measurements to support the opinion.

The letter didn’t mention mental status or summarize any neurological exams, an area of concern for many people given his sometimes bizarre behavior during the campaign. He has a history that suggests we take a more careful look at his mental health.

Trump has a well documented history of philandering, both before and during his first two marriages. He’s bragged about his playboy days and once told shock jock Howard Stern that avoiding venereal disease was “my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very proud soldier,” he said of the time he got a deferment from serving in the military during Vietnam because of a bone spur in one of his heels–he can’t remember which one.

But you never know–he may not have been as successful dodging VD as he’d like to believe. Syphilis, for example, can go undetected for long periods of time, working its way into organs like the brain and the heart. When it gets into the brain, it can trigger unusual behavior: Inability to pay attention or concentrate, spur-of-the-moment outbursts or fits of anger, bizarre and reckless charges against other people.

Do those symptoms remind you of any candidate for president? Me too. I’ll remain skeptical of The Donald’s mental health until I see the result of a rigorous neurological exam and evidence that he is free of venereal disease.

Posted in Donald Trump, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In there a racism problem here? That depends

Darrell Berkheimer, a fellow columnist in The Union, stirred up some of our local conservatives over the weekend with a column in Saturday’s edition headlined “Ending racism is a community-wide issue.”

Berky’s column was prompted by the recent vandalism and theft of two banners proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” hoisted by the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, and an incident at Rollins Lake over a year ago when a black family was allegedly threatened by a guy wielding a shotgun. The district attorney still hasn’t decided if he’s going to charge anybody with a crime.

Berky wrote that leaders need to make a strong statement that prejudice and racism won’t be tolerated in the community, a proposal that seemed to upset some local conservative bloggers.

First to weigh in was Todd Juvinall, who usually bloviates at Sierra Dragon’s Breath and has a refined ability to see exactly what he wants to see. Commenting at Rebane’s Ruminations, he pointed out that the gun man may have been an outsider, we don’t know if a local committed the vandalism and theft, and suggested Berkheimer is a hypocrite for moving here instead of Oakland or Watts.

Then there was this: “It has been my experience that ‘minorities’ have always been welcome and I personally have never seen a local person show racism to them.”

George Rebane then seconded the sentiment, writing that bleeding hearts screw up their own communities then “migrate to wholesome communities that still embrace traditional American values, and then get busy in changing the local culture to one that sports a trail of devastation. We in Nevada County are in the throes of it today.”

Berky doesn’t need me to defend what he writes, but I’ve lived here longer than he has and I’ve acquired some anecdotal evidence–evidence that apparently has alluded hawkeyes like Juvinall and Rebane–that suggests we have issues that need to be addressed if we truly value the futures of the children we claim to treasure.

Is there overt racism and discrimination in western Nevada County? It’s hard to say because as the second whitest county in the state, there are few minorities to discriminate against. But that doesn’t mean locals have a positive opinion of our black fellow Americans.

There’s been at least a half-dozen incidents in the 16 years I’ve lived here where black athletes and their supporters were harassed  while competing against teams at Nevada Union and Bear River. One of them even triggered a fight after the game.

The most recent incident reported in The Union was in 2014, when the girls basketball team from Sheldon High School reported taunts and coins being thrown at them during a playoff game at NU. (NU’s principal and athletic director were at the game, but claimed later they saw nothing unusual.)

Teenagers–particularly those who have never been exposed to blacks–learn these attitudes at home.

Then there are the retirees from the Bay Area and southern California who moved here to, among other reasons, get away from “those people.” A lot of them live where I live, Lake of the Pines, the most Republican precinct in the country.

Finally, there was an incident I witnessed about 10 years ago that would never happen where I come from in the Bay Area. I walked into Raley’s in Grass Valley and noticed an attractive black woman who was expensively dressed–probably a lawyer or some other professional who was in town on business.

What fascinated me was the reaction of customers who were near enough to see her–primarily older white folks. They stared at her, slack-jawed, as if an exotic bird had just flown into the store. The woman knew she was the center of attention and was clearly uncomfortable, completing her shopping as quickly as she could and then heading for the check-out line.

It may be difficult for people living here to comprehend, but whites are a minority in the world. Based on current trends, they will cease being a majority in the United States during the lifetime of the county’s teenagers. It has already happened in California.

Like it or not, our youth are going to have to co-exist and work with Americans who don’t look like them. If they go to college, their classmates and teachers will span the spectrum of racial and ethnic groups. If they go in the military after high school, they will be taking orders from blacks, Hispanics and others who don’t trace their ancestry to Europe.

If you seek a career outside Nevada County, you can bet the people you work with won’t resemble those in your graduating class. Even if you never leave Nevada County, minority influences are everywhere.

Do you drink Coke or Pepsi? Charge with a MasterCard or American Express card? Use Yahoo? Copy documents on a Xerox machine? Attend games of the Sacramento Kings? All of those firms were founded, or are run or owned by minorities.

We’re not preparing our local youth for the world they’ll live in by perpetuating racial and ethnic stereotypes. Maybe the kids will be smart enough to figure that out.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Jeff Gale, welcome to our little corner of Paradise!

Folks in our little corner of Paradise are proud of their friendly, welcoming approach to newcomers, and this is largely true. But as relative newcomer Jeff Gale discovered over the weekend, this Paradise also has a viper pit known as Sierra Foothills Report.


Jeff Gale: Be on the look-out for…

Gale was responding to a post on the blog, “Why more people don’t run for local political office,” and detected a note of hypocrisy in the comments of the author, Jeff  “Podunk” Pelline. (Gale is a quick learner.)

“I wouldn’t be throwing stones.  It appears to me that you have an obvious grudge against the Union and relish fanning the flames just as much–if not more–than the ‘good old boys’ you decry. Maybe the criticism is deserved, but it most certainly doesn’t contribute to anything productive. I think you should ponder your last statement about reaping and sowing just a little.”

Gale soon learned you don’t challenge the Lord High Executioner in his own domain. “I’m just holding up a mirror,” Podunk responded. But that was just a warm-up for what was to follow.

Next up was “brucelevy,” who many people think is one of Podunk’s sock puppets. He had a less than friendly greeting for Gale:

“As you are ‘newish’ here I’ll assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about, unless you have some connection to The Union that you are not mentioning. The Union is a bad joke,  and has been for at least 15 years. Maybe you should inform yourself before spouting off.”

Welcome to the community! (As an aside, “at least 15 years” includes Podunk’s tenure as editor of The Union. “brucelevy” is apparently a hard man to please.)

While  “brucelevy” was extending his warm welcome, Podunk launched his dragnet. He discovered that Gale is a graduate of the McGeorge School of Law, handles death penalty appeals, and has defended people charged with various cannabis crimes. (He apparently isn’t delinquent on his property taxes or Podunk would have mentioned that too.)

I won’t go into a dreary blow-by-blow of what followed, including some unsolicited advice about guns, but Podunk found fault with much of this, and even suggested a link between Gale’s defense of cannabis cases and The Union’s “promotion” of pot (don’t you love conspiracy theories?).

Gale finally had enough: “You’re an idiot!” To which Jeffy responded: “Is thst (sic) admissable (sic) in court? Lol.” He even professed to being offended: “Jeff Gale is  criticizing a lifelong journalist for criticizing podunk journalism. I’m offended based on my experience.”

He shouldn’t be offended. Podunk hasn’t worked in journalism since he left The Union almost eight years, and nobody appointed him cheap shot critic of The Union. But Gale has learned a valuable lesson: Podunk cited “personal attacks, whisper campaigns” as reasons people don’t run for office, and Gale now has a personal example of how it works around here.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

What little integrity Clinton has left takes another blow

Hillary Clinton just spent three days Hoovering up $9 million in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, part of an estimated $57 million she’s raised this month for her presidential campaign.


Show me the money

In her latest visit to the California ATM, she dined and met with Hollywood bosses and celebrities, some wealthy former athletes like Magic Johnson, and the movers-and-shakers in Silicon Valley.

One event she attended in the valley, co-hosted by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson, the former head of the EPA who is now an Apple VP, raised over $1 million. Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, hosted a small event for just 20 people who were willing to pay $200,000 each–a total of $4 million to the Clinton campaign.

Other than getting their preferred candidate elected president, it’s hard to know what the donors expect for their money–guest lists are secret, and unlike Barack Obama, Clinton bars the media from these events.

A cynic might point out that Apple is in a tax dispute with the European Union that could cost it as much as $19 billion. The Treasury Department criticized the EU earlier this week for “targeting” Apple, and Cook and Jobs may view these fund-raisers as insurance for future support from the government.

Some might think they’ll get special attention from a Clinton White House, especially if they read the Associated Press story that gives the strong impression people who donated to the Clinton Foundation expected a sympathetic ear at the State Department in return.

AP’s review of Clinton’s schedule for her first two years as Secretary of State showed that 58 of 154 people from the private sector she met with or talked to on the phone were contributors to the foundation, for as much as $156 million. At least 40 of them gave more than $100,000 and 20 contributed more than $1 million.

No evidence has surfaced yet that she did anything illegal or unethical for these people, but you have to wonder where they got the impression that a donation would get them access. It has been observed that you are responsible for what you say and what people hear.

Naturally, Clinton and her press people have denounced the article. “That’s absurd,” Clinton said to allegations that donors paid to play, calling the article “all smoke no fire.” Her camp also points out the story covers only the first two years of her tenure as secretary, painting an incomplete and possibly distorted picture.

They don’t bother to mention that AP has been trying to get Clinton’s complete schedule while she was secretary, and had to sue the State Department to get the two years worth of records that formed the basis for the story.

If nothing else, the story follows a consistent pattern of the Clintons monetizing their past, present and possible future political influence.

The Clintons were deep in debt when they left the White House and are now worth over $100 million, according to a couple of sources. They didn’t make all of that money writing books. From 2013-15, Hillary gave 92 speeches at a standard fee of $225,000–over $21 million in two years. Bill is well-known for his ability to command $500,000 for a one-hour speech.

If in fact the Clintons have been running a pay-for-play hustle, Hillary has a strong incentive to keep her emails as private as possible. Hillary’s misleading statements about what’s in her emails and her unwillingness to cooperate with investigators until a court order is produced only heightens the suspicion of many that she is dishonest and unethical.

Or as Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote, Clinton “has deeply damaged whatever  public trust she has remaining–and for a candidate, this can be fatal.”

Posted in Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Uncategorized | 4 Comments