30 November 2009

College Football Roundup

The biggest news for me this weekend was the victory of my BYU Cougars over arch-rival Utah. Before moving to Utah to attend BYU, I had little real idea of how intense this rivalry was. It seemed a little silly to me, having come from Florida, a state where rivalry games routinely decided national champion contenders. As a Cougar, it seemed like vitriol of Utes far outstripped anything from Florida-Georgia or Miami-Florida State.

Things seemed to have reached a new level with BYU's win last Saturday. After the game Max Hall, BYU's quarterback, made some imprudent comments. You can read commentary on them here, from KSL and the Salt Lake Tribune. Utes have responded in kind. It's not a great development in an ugly rivalry.

Still, I'm extremely happy with how things turned out.


Miami finished their season well. This was great preparation for next season, and if they have a nice win in their bowl game (probably the Gator Bowl), it may be a good indication of things to come.


Andy Staples of SI.com makes a good case for Tim Tebow's greatness as a football player and how he is undeserving of this year's Heisman trophy.

Many commentators are picking Alabama for this weekend's SEC Championship game. I think it will be a close game, one I will be attending, but I don't think I will ever pick against Tim Tebow.


Chavez is at it again, this time threatening Venezuela's private banks with nationalization. He continues an arbitrary and capricious form of socialism that is a terrible example for other Latin American countries.

29 November 2009


My biases should be apparent on this issue. I have small children and we regularly fly to California to spend time with my wife's family. It is the only logical way to transport my family of 4 (soon to be 5) to the west coast. I read this op-ed from the L.A. Times where writer Amy Alkon expresses frustration at parents who travel with screaming children on airplanes.

I got a visceral reaction to the piece. Alkon isn't a parent, so doesn't understand the dilemma parents deal with when they travel with small children. During the entire flight I am consumed with keeping my children happy. Sometimes this is IMPOSSIBLE, but we do everything in our power to help the kids behave. I know not every parent tries as hard, but I imagine that most do. There is one section in particular that I take issue with. In describing one incident where a mother and child were removed from a Southwest flight, she says the following-

Parents like Root and others who selfishly force the rest of us to pay the cost
of their choices in life aren't just bothering us; they're stealing from us.
Most people don't see it this way, because what they're stealing isn't a thing
we can grab on to, like a wallet. They're stealing our attention, our time and
our peace of mind.

There is a sentiment here that urks me. Bringing children in the world is not ennobling or worthy to Alkon. It is a selfish choice, which inflicts pain on other people. She limits her comments to airplane travel, but it could easily be extended to the use of natural resources, housing choices, and other issues. I just don't like where her ideas could go.

28 November 2009

Awesome Video Saturday CXIV

Silly but amusing "future" mockumentary-

26 November 2009

More of the Same

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

I remember when Florida stopped playing Miami starting in the late 1980's. There were a variety of reasons behind this move, but as a Miami fan the most satisfying one was that the Gators were afraid to play us.

It appears that there will be another drought for Miami fans eager for the rivalry games, if this report is correct. Florida can keep playing FIU and Charleston Southern.

25 November 2009


Suspicions about the validity of climate models appears well founded. As data manipulation seems to have occurred, here is a primer on recent occurrences on the issue.

21 November 2009

Awesome Video Saturday CXIII

Not quite as funny as some of the other ads these guys have done, but still amusing-

17 November 2009

Shuttle On

This article from Popular Mechanics may be of interest. It discusses the future of the Space Program as the Space Shuttle nears the end of its service.

I believe the Space Program is important. There is a healthy debate about whether it should follow a public or private course. I imagine we will see some combination, which is probably the best way to go.

16 November 2009

Defending the Faith

This is a good piece by O'Grady, summarizing her conversation with the Cardinal of Honduras. The Church has received some criticism for the role it played in affirming the correctness of Zelaya's ouster. It has been a difficult period, but the Cardinal's words are truthful and fair.

14 November 2009

Awesome Video Saturday CXII

Sometimes you don't need to understand the language.

12 November 2009

To Arms?

I find this post from the Reason blog persuasive. It deals with the advantage that gun control or gun-free zones provide to criminals willing to ignore those laws.

In numerous violent incidents that have occurred over the past several years I have often wondered whether the damage could have been limited if a legally-armed bystander had intervened. I certainly wonder about the potential for further injury if the intervening party hits someone else, but I might be willing to take that chance. Personally, I would prefer to be armed and have a fighting chance.

Given what happened in Fort Hood there has to be a better way, and removing all handguns from circulation is clearly not it.

11 November 2009

SPOTD #160

Again I have a long-delayed edition, as well as failing to produce as much on the blog. I found some of these articles months ago. I hope the links still work.

Today's Phrase:
Back to basics. I've been trying to teach this one to Joseph so he can impress his Mima.

Me voy al baƱo.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable
May voy ahl bahn-yo.

I'm going to the bathroom.

Hollywood History
I've always considered Walt Disney one of my heroes. This article about the Disney Family museum in San Francisco has added another place to my to-visit list.

These are four interesting stories of survival that we can profit from. Also, interesting tips for survival kits. I think that a good book is a great suggestion for any occassion.

If you want to raise your own livestock, these are good animals to consider.
I would avoid this one, a purported chupacabra.

An extremely impressive collection. Lacy's opinion? "What a waste of money!"

I recently read the first 5 books in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. It is a fantasy series and I've really enjoyed each one. Also enjoyable is the author's photo on the back cover. He appears to be the High Lord of Nerdlery.

Hard Hits
The NFL commissioned a study that has demonstrated a correlation between higher occurrences of neurological disease in NFL players than what is found in the general populace. This will add to continued debate about what role the NFL should play in the ongoing health issues of retired players.

Link of the Day
Behold...or don't behold, the Invisible Man! Pretty cool trick, with no digital fakery involved.

07 November 2009

02 November 2009

California Un-Love

My wife is from California. I enjoy traveling there to visit her family. I love the great climate and there is always something fun to do. But as most people know, California is in trouble. From today's L.A. Times-

Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners -- holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.
Technically, it's not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers' annual tax bills won't change.
Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You'll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.
This may amount to $25 a month for a family of four earning $90,000. That really doesn't seem like much, but I'm not comfortable with the budgetary shell game being played by the California government. Having to repay the monies at tax time is not a real fix for the state, and it demonstrates a disregard for the rights of the taxpayer. Moreover, as this op-ed suggests, the benefits provided by the State of California in exchange for those taxes is not what it used to be:
In America's federal system, some states, such as California, offer residents a "package deal" that bundles numerous and ambitious public benefits with the high taxes needed to pay for them. Other states, such as Texas, offer packages combining modest benefits and low taxes. These alternatives, of course, define the basic argument between liberals and conservatives over what it means to get the size and scope of government right.
It's not surprising, then, that there's an intense debate over which model is more admirable and sustainable. What is surprising is the growing evidence that the low-benefit/low-tax package not only succeeds on its own terms but also according to the criteria used to defend its opposite. In other words, the superior public goods that supposedly justify the high taxes just aren't being delivered.
California and Texas are not perfect representatives of the alternative deals, but they come close. Overall, the Census Bureau's latest data show that state and local government expenditures for all purposes in 2005-06 were 46.8% higher in California than in Texas: $10,070 per person compared with $6,858. Only three states and the District of Columbia saw higher per capita government outlays than California, while those expenditures in Texas were lower than in all but seven states. California ranked 10th in overall taxes levied by state and local governments, on a per capita basis, while Texas, one of only seven states with no individual income tax, was 38th.
The author addresses education, population inflows/outflows, and transportation to demonstrate the decline of Californian excellence in those. I think the article is well-written, and although there may be other areas not addressed by the author where California excels, but this Florida-boy is staying put. Any thoughts? A.J.?

01 November 2009

Real Hope

This post may not be for the faint-hearted. While at BYU I took a political science class that looked at non-traditional issues affecting peace and security. Among them was the status of women. We learned that due to the very young age at which young women in the developing world are given in marriage, severe complications in childbirth can leave them incontinent, and completely cut off from society. This is especially prevalent in Africa.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof profiles the work of anthropologist-turned-obstetrician who has made it his life's work to correct this condition, known as a fistula. This work has an immediate and transformative impact in the lives of the women it touches:

Just about the happiest thing that can happen to such a woman is an encounter with Dr. Lewis Wall, an ob-gyn at Washington University in St. Louis. A quiet, self-effacing but relentless man of 59, Dr. Wall has devoted his life to helping these most voiceless of the voiceless, promoting the $300 surgeries that repair fistulas and typically return the patients to full health.
“There’s no more rewarding experience for a surgeon than a successful fistula repair,” Dr. Wall reflected. “There are a lot of operations you do that solve a problem — I can take out a uterus that has a tumor in it. But this is life-transforming for everybody who gets it done. It’s astonishing. You take a human being who has been in the abyss of despair and — boom! — you have a transformed woman. She has her life back.”
“In Liberia, I saw a woman who had developed a fistula 35 years earlier. It turned out to be a tiny injury; it took 20 minutes to repair it. For want of a 20-minute operation, this woman had lived in a pool of urine for 35 years.”
He has started work on a hospital in Niger, dedicated to fistula repair. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, you can go to Kristof's blog.