29 December 2010

A Year in Sports Media

I am a sucker for end-of-year lists, and I thought Richard Deitsch's column for SI was a great one. He makes some good points about the status of the business of sports reporting and the people involved in it.

You can read it here.

25 December 2010

Driving

Here is a last-minute Christmas gift, Popular Mechanics list of the best movie driving scenes.

Awesome Video Saturday CLV (¡Feliz Navidad!)

I hope this has been a wonderful Christmas Day for you and your loved ones. This is a nice message about the importance of true giving.

23 December 2010

Some Year in Review

Two things from the Wall Street Journal. Hopefully both are available to non subscribers-

1. Here is a review of Some of the best and worst advertisements of the year. I find little to argue with, especially in a year where the Super Bowl ads were so disappointing. In addition to the Snickers ad with Betty White, I also like the one with Aretha Franklin.

2. This is A video from tech columnist Walt Mossberg, on his favorite items reviewed over the past year.

22 December 2010

Save the Day

Pjil Jackson isn't happy that the NBA schedules games on Christmas day. I like his being outspoken on the issue. I wouldn't want to spend Christmas away from my family either, not to mention the actual religious significance of the holiday.

Still, I'll be watching Heat-Lakers. I guess that won't really help the situation.

iPilot?

This is an idea still in it's infancy, but a man has developed an app that is designed to land an airplane for you, should your small plane pilot become incapacitated. Popular Mechanicshas the story here.

Be Young or Go Home

That seems to be the trend in College football coaching, according to SI.com's Stewart Mandel.

The situation in West Virginia is especially distressing, and betrays expectations for success that seem a bit overblown.

21 December 2010

A Daily Dose

I have recently traveled by plane, and encountered no problems while going through security, even with our heavy-laden group. Still, I continue to find the processes and methods of the TSA to be humorous at best and ineffective and invasive at worst. This website shares the joy of the patdown with all of us.

The Daily Patdown

18 December 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CLIV

Inception was certainly one of this year's best movies, and one of the best in recent years. There are some concepts in the film, such as the dilation of time for a "dream within a dream" that are fascinating. That concept in particular has been depicted graphically in this compilation.


If you haven't seen the movie, don't watch this. Also, what is wrong with you?


17 December 2010

What You Love to Hate

I was born in Miami, FL. Since my birth I have been a Hurricane and a Dolphin. While not an avid NBA fan or MLB fan I do like the Marlins and the Heat. The city has been blessed with a lot of success over just a few decades which is cause for frustration in "cursed" cities like Cleveland.

I thought this article was a good analysis of the rooting habits of Miami sports fans, indifferent when other fans are rabid. when I started the article I was prepared to be a little defensive in favor if my birthplace, but I thought it was pretty fair. In defense of Miami, there are many more attractive options for your time and energy than you'd find in most other professional sports towns, especially in the winter months.

15 December 2010

Sliding Toward Dictatorship

For the first time in years, the opposition to Hugo Chavez gained a sizeable segment of the National Assembly. As a result, he is trying to get the outgoing legislature to grant him decree powers, according to this AP report.

This would allow him to bypass the Assembly to pass laws and follow a pattern similar to what he did in 2007. During an 18 month period he seized private enterprises and opposition media outlets, all without the sanction of elected representatives.

It is offensive to those who value liberty and private enterprise. It demonstrates a significant institutional weakness of the Venezuelan government and bodes very ill for representative democracy in the country.

There should be widespread international opposition to this effort, but it seems unlikely.

14 December 2010

Hire'em up

Andy Staples, of SI.com, explains why Miami and Florida both made good hires, even if one of them doesn't pan out. I'm inclined to agree with him.

13 December 2010

Punk Jets

My least favorite NFL team is the New York Jets. The behavior of the Jets strength and conditioning coach in last night's game doesn't help things. Jason Whitlock puts the blame on coach Rex Ryan, who's created a culture that seems to bring out the worst.

The Jets have suspended the man for the remainder of the season and fined him $25,000. I respect him for apologizing so quickly, but think their penalty was probably sufficient, given the good health of the player affected.

2 weeks of tough losses for the Jets is a delight to me. Especially if one comes from my underperforming Dolphins.

11 December 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CLIII

My friend Jason posted this great commercial starring Kevin Bacon.

10 December 2010

Sporting News

Hasta luego

Urban Meyer's departure seemed anticlimactic in light of what happened one year ago. It is interesting to me that Gator fans do not have a bigger sense of disappointment for a coaching tenure that seems short.

I don't know Urban Meyer or his family. I respect his choice to be with his family. I think that is always a good decision. I just expected more prolonged lamentation at his resignation. I suspect it will be difficult to replicate his success, especially winning two national championships over a six year span. In public Meyer was not endearing. In my only interaction with him I found him aloof, almost a little unfriendly. I understand the need to put up boundaries in a place like Gainesville, where every obsessed Gator fan wants to be the coach's friend and give their two cents. I think this may be part of why people are not more devastated at what seemed to be, last year a least, a premature end to his career at Florida. I wish him well, not that he needs my blessing.

PTI

Michael Wilbon is now writing for ESPN.com. I think this is very good for ESPN, and I'm more likely to read his column than when he was writing for The Washington Post. Here is his first column. I like what he has to say about Michael Jordan. I agree that no current player will surpass him, though people like Kobe are, and Lebron may be, very, very good.

06 December 2010

Doing it Right

Randy Shannon's firing as coach at the University of Miami was unfortunate, especially because he has been linked to that program for so much of his athletic and professional career. His interest in the program went beyond a job. He truly cared about the players and he could understand where they came from, because that is where HE was from.

This post from the Miami Herald's Eye on the U blog highlights a perfect example of Shannon's concern for his players. He left notes for many of them, if not all. A classy gesture.

05 December 2010

A Funny Conversation

Joseph found an old temporary Star Wars tattoo and asked me to put in on his arm. After I was done I had this conversation with Millie.

Millie: Why did you put on his tattoo?

Daddy: Because he asked me to.

M: Was it magic?

D: No, it was science.

M: Science?!?

D: Do you believe in science?

M: No.

D: What do you believe in?

M: Dancing.


We all start somewhere.

04 December 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CLII

I think that this guy does an excellent impression of Denzel Washington-

03 December 2010

Conviction

There is nothing wrong with being partisan, at least in the moral sense. It doesnt lead to the best political outcomes, but like my post yesterday indicated, it can have some benefit. Fanaticism is a whole other matter.

Most of us do not have jobs that make us the target of violent threats by fanatics. UCLA researcher J. David Jentsch does. He does neurological research on primates and enjoys the protection of armed security guards at his home.

Those who have threatened him are no different than the people who target abortion doctors. They are practicing terrorism in the name of animal rights. I admire Jentsch's conviction.

02 December 2010

Don't Toe the Line

An old college friend of mine, Chris, posted this column the other day. It is from the New York Times' Ross Douthat, and deals with the potency of partisan perceptions. It is exceedingly even-handed. An excerpt:

This tendency is vividly illustrated by our national security debates. In the 1990s, many Democrats embraced Bill Clinton’s wars of choice in the Balkans and accepted his encroachments on civil liberties following the Oklahoma City bombing, while many Republicans tilted noninterventionist and libertarian.
If Al Gore had been president on 9/11, this pattern might have persisted, with conservatives resisting the Patriot Act the way they’ve rallied against the T.S.A.’s Rapiscan technology, and Vice President Joe Lieberman prodding his fellow Democrats in a more Cheney-esque direction on detainee policy.But because a Republican was president instead, conservative partisans suppressed their libertarian impulses and accepted the logic of an open-ended war on terror, while Democratic partisans took turns accusing the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution.
It is a short piece and worth reading. I especially like the ending. I've seen the partisan mindset manifested in economic perceptions especially, which is unfortunate, as that tends to have a self-fulfilling effect.

01 December 2010

SPOTD #166 (and my 1000th Post)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We did. Here is the 166th SPOTD e-mail, the 1000th post on the SPOTD blog.

Today's Phrase:
I don’t know if there is an author for today’s phrase, but it may be the key to success.

Actual
La perseverancia marca la diferencia entre el fracaso y el éxito.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable
Lah pare-sair-vare-ahn-see-ah mar-kah lah dee-fair-aince-ee-ah ain-tray ell frah-ca-so ee ell ex-ee-toe.

Translation (roughly)
Perserverance is the difference between failure and success.

Movies
Unstoppable: I thought it was great. The pace was consistent, the action was constant, and it was a fun movie.
Tangled: We took the kids and they loved it, and we did too. It doesn't break any new ground in the fairy tale genre, but it was fun and the vocal performances were great.
Alice in Wonderland (2010): I was watching it via Netflix streaming and fell asleep. What I saw didn't make me anxious to give it a second try, despite my consistent enjoyment of Tim Burton's work.

Getting There
With the holidays upon us, you may need to ship some precious cargo. Popular Mechanics has a rundown of which shipping option provides the smoothest ride.

Stories from the Naked City
I like that line from the Jay-Z song, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to the Charmin-sponsored public restrooms in New York City. I’m sure you are dying to know what they are like, so here goes.

Engage!
This is an interesting interview with Patrick Stewart, a Shakespearean actor who did not find success until he was cast as Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Lost & Found
This is an article about an original print of the 1933 King Kong, found hidden in London.

Smooth Sailing
There is a snake that is able to glide through the air by actively manipulating the shape of its body. As cool as that is, there are some, such as the Pentagon, that would like to adapt the design to suit various purposes.

False Destiny
I think anyone that feels deeply about a team that has enjoyed great success has a hard time contemplating the end of that success. I think about Miami after the 2002 Fiesta Bowl as my personal example. Here in Gainesville, the Gators have experienced a huge letdown after 2 dominant years. Here is a rundown of a few other teams that had moments of greatness but failed to truly capture their full potential, as measured in championships.

Link of the Day
I put this video on the blog a few weeks ago, but I think it is clever enough to merit a repeat.

29 November 2010

Leaking Implications

This is some interesting analysis of the WikiLeaks data in terms of how the U.S. and other nations may deal with Iran. David Frum writes:

But here’s the ghastliest irony of the leak. If it was Julian Assange’s intention to use information hacked from U.S. computer systems to protect Iran from U.S. military action, he has very likely massively failed at his own purpose.
The leak makes military conflict between Iran and the United States more likely, not less. The leak has changed the political equation in ways that reduce the restraint on U.S. policy.

I don't have any idea why Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has made this his mission in life. I don't want us to go to war with anyone, much less Iran, but there is more support for explicit action against Iran than was previously supposed.

28 November 2010

Taking a WikiLeak

I'm not sure if many people are familiar with the WikiLeaks website (I think that name is stupid). It's aim is to reveal the unrevealed and the classified, regardless of the costs. It is run by a shady character, and over the last 6-9 months has been releasing in lumps the secret communications of the U.S. Military and now, the State Department.

As an American, some would say a jingoistic American, I view this as a net negative for the country. It reveals a weakness in both our systems for safeguarding data AND weakness in the character of at least one person with access to it. I hope he rots in jail. Just the same, some of the information contained in this most recent release is very interesting. Since it is out there, why not read it?

The New York Times has a helpful summary of the more interesting parts of these diplomatic cables. They cover a large period of time, with the vast majority dealing with 2007 to the present.

As with any setback, this event CAN be used to our advantage. A little more honesty is a good thing. Unfortunately, this is unintentional honesty, and that creates some treacherous dynamics. Where we have our more skilled diplomats we should be in good shape. I just don't have any idea where that happens to be the case.

Play of the Day

BYU lost a heartbreaker to the Utes. Miami lost in overtime, at home, and is looking for a new head coach. Not a lot of be happy about, football-wise, but you will love this amazing play by an Oklahoma State defensive back:




They lost the game, but what a play!

Regarding Shannon's dismissal from Miami- I think very highly of Shannon as an individual. I was disaapointed by the Canes performance this year, given the level of talent on the team. They regressed as the year went on, rather than improving, and you must win those home games. It is a sad thing, as he was exemplary in keeping his players out of trouble.

I am much happier about BYU, the loss notwithstanding. We improved steadily during the last half of the season, and it makes me optimistic for next year.

27 November 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CLI

These are scenes from last years overtime victory of BYU over Utah.



I don't know that we are good enough to beat Utah this year. We have improved dramatically. It should be a good game (3:30 EST on CBS College Sports).

26 November 2010

Counting Cars

If your Black Friday shopping has included an automobile, you might be interested in this discussion of how the new, all-electric Nissan Leaf has it's mileage calculated by the Federal Government..

Electric cars won't eliminate pollution, at least they can't yet. They just cause that pollution to come at a different point and through a different means (your local power plant). Whether THAT energy is more desirable than burning gas depends on many factors.

25 November 2010

Sobre la Gratitud

We have a tradition in our family to spend a few minutes during Thanksgiving dinner sharing some of the things for which we are thankful. As we did that today, I was impressed by something that my brother-in-law said. Hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing it here.

He mentioned how he has been amazed at how the capacity to love is not limited. In other words, love is an open sum game. There is not a finite quantity of it available. As family members are added, through childbirth or marriage, the ability to love is increased. I have felt this in my life, especially at the birth of one of my children. It also extends to those friendships that have and continue to enrich my life.

I have a lot to be thankful for, my health and country included, but my family is most important.

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 November 2010

Don't Believe It.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Stephen Moore and Richard Vedder argue persuasively that tax increases and spending cuts are two ideas that rarely meet, if ever.


In other words, when politicians claim that the only way to reduce the deficit is to combine tax increases with spending cuts, we should be skeptical, BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENS. Their research has shown that for every dollar of tax increases, more than one dollar of spending follows.

Some might say, "this time we will do better, this time we will learn from the past." We should be very, very skeptical, especially when Congress has such a terrible record. Cut spending, and then I will be willing to co sider other remedies.

23 November 2010

From small things...

This is an interesting story about how the efforts to plug the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico were affected by one single photograph. It is a nice look into how complex processes can be shaped by the smallest inputs, and this includes major events like the oil spill and the financial crisis. This is an interesting excerpt:

Before the cap was put in place, officials had established pressure levels that would tell them whether everything was OK, there was trouble and the cap had to be removed immediately, or whether it was a wait-and-see situation. The pressure readings were in the wait-and-see zone, but political appointees discussed it further and there was a push to remove the cap. Coast Guard Admiral Kevin Cook urged officials to give the cap more time, then Hsieh's analysis swayed them.
To Paul Fischbeck, a professor of decision science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, this part of the report was scary.
"It became a political decision that they didn't want to risk having this big blowout," said Fischbeck, who wasn't part of the commission. "You set up a logical reasonable process and in the heat of the moment all these factors creep in and it pulls you off what you had logically decided to do. And that is very dangerous when it happens."

Let them Fry!

I have only eaten fried turkey once, at my brother-in-law's house a few years ago. It was probably the best turkey that I have ever eaten, helped no doubt by the marinade injected into the bird.

Ever since that Thanksgiving I have wanted to enjoy it again, but just haven't gotten around to it. This year my parents are on turkey duty, and it will be the traditional roasted kind. Maybe next time we will opt for the fryer.

If you plan to go the fried route, here is a helpful guide from Popular Mechanics.

21 November 2010

Making them Pay

I studied the FARC, a Colombian terrorist group, while a college student. For decades they harassed the Colombian government, eventually gaining control of a large swath of territory in the late 90's/early 2000's. According to this report, the FARC have lost another leader due to Colombian military action.

This is a serious blow to a group that has seen significant hits to it's leadership in recent years. It is u questionably good news. The FARC is an evil organization, and their continued decline is good news for Colombia and the United States.

20 November 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CL

This is the first part of a pretty entertaining interview by Jay Leno of President George W. Bush.

19 November 2010

Down

I've never had serious depression. I don't typically feel sad for prolonged periods, though like everyone, I've had occasion to be melancholy in my life. I am certain I have never been clinically depressed. This makes it hard to conceptualize the mental processes of someone in that situation.

SI has an article about Kenny McKinley, a Denver Broncos wide receiver who took his own life earlier this year. His death provides a reminder that money, athletic performance, and fame cannot provide happiness where deeper and more pressing voids remain.

18 November 2010

Footballin'

BYU has greatly improved since the beginning of the football season. Jake Heaps, our freshman quarterback, seems to have found his stride. A win this weekend will make us bowl eligible, and I still hold out hope for a surprise victory over Utah to end the regular season. Here are some pictures from my trip to the game.


That's Eric, Nate, Justin, myself and Jon. Matt took the picture.

It is a little hard to see, but Justin has a sweet 'stache.

In other good news, the University of Miami has received a $5 million donation to its athletic program that will allow some nice improvements to their facilities.

16 November 2010

No Way TSA

The TSA is in the news these days, and it is not a pretty sight. Despite many claims that images from body scanning machines would not, could not be saved, according to this report they have.

A Forbes blogger advocates for the abolition of the TSA, on the basis that it has not improved safety and more often violates civil rights. I think he makes some good points, though I'm not sure abolition of the agency is possible or beneficial.

There is an interesting story anout a man who refused both the body scan and the pat-down. Apparently, it is against the rules to leave a screening area once you have entered it if screening is not complete.

More to come, I'm sure.

14 November 2010

I want to post two interestIng opinion pieces from the Washington Post. The first one is by columnist Charles Krauthammer, who defends the president's recent trip to Asia as both necessary and appropriate, expensive or not. You can find it here.

The second is a piece by two Democratic strategists, who had worked for the Clinton and Carter administrations, who suggest that, to be successful as a president, Obama should declare that he will not run for President in 2012. I think this is highly unlikely to occur, and might not yield the results that they hope for.

For one thing, who would believe him? As the authors state, he doesn't have a lot of credibility with the right. I woud also argue that, having been less than stringent in adherence to his campaign promises, some might suspect that he would decide to run at a later time if his fortunes improved. Maybe the authors intend this to occur.

Secondly, would it really make him a better president? Would he be able to compromise? Or would it make him more strident. Coming from my admittedly Republican perspective, I don't think he has demonstrated capacity for compromise thus far, despite ample opportunity.

It could work. I'm just doubtful.

13 November 2010

Chilling

I'm in Denver, CO right now. A few years ago we decided that we (my college roommates and I) would get together to watch a BYU football game at least every other year. We live in Florida, Canada, Missouri, California, Colorado. This is the first year some of us have been able to do so, and we will be attending the BYU-Colorado State game later today.

It is very cold here. My Florida bones are not used to it, so I sit here at 6:30 contemplating whether I should do my customary 2 mile run at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

We're having a great time. We saw the movie Unstoppable which was excellent, ate some fantastic burgers at a place called Smashburger, played pool, got some wings, hit laser tag and then played cards until late.

Aside from spending time with Lacy and the kids, there is hardly anything better than spending time with some of my best friends. I may post a video later today for AweVidSat. We'll see.

10 November 2010

What's in a Name?

Depends on who you ask. This post was prompted by an article on the subject of gender-neutral names, for boys in particular. The piece is so full of inane quotes by parents obsessed with their own self image (and self loathing?) that I could not hope to expose you to their fulness. But here is a sample:

I was a child of the ’70s, my parents were children of the ’40s, and I’m trying to teach my sons you don’t have to be so traditional, to reflect more of a global culture, to open them up to different family structures and different orientations...
“With the new masculinity, wanting men to be involved fathers, to have close friendships, to really be compassionate, are all things my husband and I thought about when we gave our son his name,” said Katherine Woods-Morse, who works for a foundation in Portland, Oregon, and whose now 12-year-old son is named Paxton.
Woods-Morse chose names for her children—she also has a daughter named Torin—before she knew their genders, an effort to counteract stereotyping. “We very specifically wanted to not put a lot of gender role pressure on our children with their names, though we also didn’t want to embarrass them by going with something too feminine for a boy or too masculine for a girl.
“Pax means peace, but it’s got a strong feeling and a very masculine ending without being too butch,” said Woods-Morse. “It doesn’t leave behind the best parts of traditional masculinity—strength and taking responsibility—but it still keeps you guessing about who is this individual.”

I am a traditionalist at heart. My son is named after me, and I am named after my father, so it makes sense that I would be dismissive of this trend. The article mentions how the name trend is not always an overt expression of the supposed "new masculinity," just an effort to be creative. I don't have a problem with the names, just the belief that they will imbue the child with the ability to somehow live up to this ideal that may or may not ultimately be a good thing.
Whatever. The bottom line is that a child's view of the world will depend on much more than their name.

09 November 2010

Who needs friends?

Everyone. Unfortunately we do not always cultivate and maintain the kinds of relationships that provide real happiness. Even more than that, deep friendships may provide health benefits according to this article from the WSJ.

Things like Facebook provide the illusion of intimacy. They are useful, and often enjoyable, but they should not be mistaken for the kind of friendship that can change our lives for the better. The article focuses on a study done using 2000 women, but I think similar conclusions can be drawn for men as well.

08 November 2010

Less is Less



He ate food like Doritos and Twinkies, with the only restriction being his daily caloric consumption. Interestingly, many of the other indicators of health, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, improved after his experiment.

In sum, if you want to lose weight, EAT LESS. Shocking.

07 November 2010

Old & New

I thought this was an interesting "compare & contrast" from the WSJ. I can't fault the aims expressed here by Rand Paul. On the other hand, I think Roy Blunt is emblematic of all that has been wrong with the Republican Party, and this interview does nothing to reassure me.

06 November 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLIX

This is a funny video, depicting how kids remember events. It's well-done.

05 November 2010

Smackdown

Palin is a "nincompoop."

President Obama is "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas."

In this WSJ column Peggy Noonan minces no words.

I like quite a lot of what she wrote, especially this:

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

04 November 2010

Living it Up

Lacy is out of town for a getaway with her mom and sisters. They are in Las Vegas and expect to relax, eat lots of good food, and see some of the shows.


My first day as a single parent was largely successful. The teething 7 month old took one long and one very short nap, but is otherwise delightful. Joseph and Millie are fun and very encouraging. Joseph said I was "The Most Caring Dad." He enjoyed P.E. today, where they ran two laps and are learning to dribble basketballs.

Millie went to dance class where she is a fearless user of ballet terms that I am not sure how to spell. We also went by the office for some of Miss Bea's excellent jellybeans.

Here are some recent pictures of these excellent kids.





03 November 2010

Marching Orders

There are elements of Tea Party philosophy that I identify with, but I don't feel that movement defines my politics. I think deficit reduction will have to be more incremental at the outset, and many tea partiers are in favor of some drastic measures that I think would be harmful at this point. I admire the grassroots nature of the movement, and I am glad that they helped make yesterday successful for conservatives.

Jim DeMint is one of the few Senators who embraced the Tea Party movement. He has some advice for incoming conservative senators, and I think it is wise counsel.

02 November 2010

Change of Fortune

I like to stay up late on election nights. Up until the 2008 election, the news was often to my liking. I didn't realize that only two years would need to pass before I saw the result that I would prefer.

Barack Obama is responsible for his political misfortunes. Whatever the state of the Union when he assumed office, his talk of political cooperation was belied by his abdication of leadership during the crafting of the early 2009 stimulus package. He allowed the partisan leadership of the House and Senate to push an ineffective and huge spending bill through Congress, giving his implicit (by silence) and explicit (by signing) approval to the process.

This pattern continued with the opaque health care reform and the massive and uncertain financial reform bill. A good insight comes from Howard Dean, of all people:

There was a misunderstanding of the kind of change people wanted. Democrats
wanted policy change. Independents and Republicans wanted to change the way
business was done in Washington, and that really hasn't happened.

I feel comfortable saying that the President didn't do anything to meet that last desire. His idea of non-partisanship was for Republicans to go along with his party's initiatives. Now that there is a change of fortune for the Democrats, we will hear the same theme.

It is now incumbent on the Democratic party, not Republicans, to offer their willingness to compromise. The President needs to change his strident and incessantly politicized message machine to reflect our current political reality.

If he doesn't, the GOP can stymie him until he loses in 2012. I think it is that simple.

Republicans didn't win every possible race. They had good chances in California (Senate & Governorship) and some other states. I don't mind a bit that Christine O'Donnell lost, though I do wish we had defeated Blumenthal in Connecticut.

The National Republican Party is not responsible for much of this success. The Florida State Republican party might be even more inept. Neither will see a dollar from me at any foreseeable point.

I hope that Obama takes a lesson from Clinton post-1994. I don't know if he has the personal strength to make that adjustment. I hope that he does.

I won't be happy until some beneficial legislation is passed. The Health Care reform needs to be amended (at minimum). The Bush tax cuts should be extended, as they will stimulate economic growth and tax receipts as well. Still, this is a pretty good night.

01 November 2010

Rubio for the Win

I enjoyed this article about Republican Senatorial candidate Marco Rubio. He is the only candidate or party to which I donated any money this electoral season.

He is a clear favorite in tomorrow's election.

30 October 2010

Red-eye

I am sitting in Atlanta waiting for a plane home to Gainesville. I was at a conference during part of last week and caught an 11:50 flight so that I could be home for some Halloweening today. Hopefully I won't catch an overnight flight again for a long while. There is a kind of desperation to the experience, as no position seems comfortable for very long. The sleep I did get was enough to leave me feeling very alert at 7:41 AM. We'll see how long I make it today.

On an unrelated note, I have had a Twitter account for some time, but have used it to follow certain people, rather than tweet much on my own. I am going to change that, so feel free to follow me if you desire- here I am.

27 October 2010

Less for More

This is a few days old, but I wanted to comment here on H-P's iPad rival

H-P's Slate 500 tablet can be bought on the company's website for $799—above the price of most iPads, which range in price from $499 to $829, depending on storage space and wireless connectivity.

I don't think that this new tablet will perform poorly from a sales perspective, but it is smaller, more expensive, and lacks built-in broadband capability. I think this hurts it's use as a business device, and given its ability to run Windows, seems more likely to cannibalize laptop sales.

I continue to be very happy with my iPad.

Hope for Change

The former president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, died after a heart attack. I'm sorry for his family, but hopeful for Argentina. Hopefully this will weaken the power of his Chavista wife, the current president Cristina Kirchner.

26 October 2010

Spendy

I thought this was a fantastic explanation of why the spending policies of Obama, and the additional spending urged by people like the NYT's Paul Krugman, is a very bad idea.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been very expensive, but they have an end point (we hope). Major entitlements will not.

23 October 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLVIII

A few months ago Wes Skiles died accidentally, while diving off the coast of Florida. He was a great guy, and this video was put together as a tribute for The Jacksonville Film Industry Reception. He shot all of the video, including the musicians.

21 October 2010

Max Hall's Chance

A few weeks ago I mentioned an article by SI's Peter King where he made some favorable comments about Max Hall. Hall is now the starting Quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals and this is a nice write-up from ESPN.

I'll root for Hall's success, but don't have any real connection to the Cardinals and don't plan on rooting for a team besides the Dolphins. I do hope he does well.

18 October 2010

Mistakes do Happen

Joseph was speaking the other day to my Tia Elena. He told her that he was 5 1/4. She may have misheard him, and asked if he was 5 1/2. He said, "No, 5 1/4. That's okay, mistakes do happen."

He can be very understanding.

16 October 2010

Delicioso

We have enjoyed a new restaurant near our house, Sabore (Sah-bore-ay). We have probably only tried 25% of the menu, and almost everything we have tasted we've loved. The menu features small plates, a huge variety of flavors, and latin and asian influences.

My favorite dishes have been the churrasco, mahi, yucca, and empanadas. We also had an appetizer called arangina and a mango cheesecake that was fantastico.

It has a nice vibe and great service. It is worth a visit.

Awesome Video Saturday CXLVII

I think these Egyptian cheese ads are hilarious.

12 October 2010

True Story?

I think this story is a true one. In a fascinating story published in Sports Illustrated, a former sports agent shares his experience. It includes numerous violations of NCAA regulations and specific examples of payments made to players.

A friend who read said it was not surprising, but still shocking. I agree.

09 October 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLVI

Pretty clever spoof. Saw it making the Facebook rounds today.


06 October 2010

Mothership Down

When I am driving, I will usually listent to sports talk radio. My favorite show, by a large margin, is the Dan Patrick Show. The show and crew are entertaining and there are always great guests. Patrick is a great interviewer and is not afraid to ask specific and potentially controversial questions.

I also enjoy his critiques of ESPN, which has become so self-important and lost a great deal of its credibility.

This is an article that talks about how he came to be where he is today, on the verge of launching a syndicated tv show of his radio program. I plan to check it out.

Politics Over Policy?

The WSJ had an editorial today that observes how politicians are using procedural methods to prevent simple up/down votes on important presidential appointees. In both cases, one blocked by Republicans and the other by Democrats, the interests of a few senators are taken precedent over the needs of the nation.

This is not a new issue, but still frustrating for those concerned with good governance.

02 October 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLV

This is the trailer for the new Harry Potter film. I'm ready.

01 October 2010

Friday Night

The Cougs are killing me tonight. I know we are injury-depleted, but it is still a bummer to be playing this way at Utah State. The Aggie coach needs to learn where the sideline is.

Two weeks ago I texted my friend Matt that I hoped BYU would learn to tackle sometime this season. Still waiting.

I like what I've seen so far from true freshman Jake Heaps. He sometimes forces the ball, or throws into coverage, but he has a strong arm and pretty good accuracy. He's made some costly errors, such as the interception that JUST happened. Strange throw. I think this one is out of reach at this point. Despite his errors, Heaps has me optimistic for the future.

As for this year? I'm going to the BYU-Colorado State game. I thought it might be a gimme, but this year? Wish I knew for sure. But I'll be at a game with good friends, so it will be a good time. Better than tonight I hope.

30 September 2010

Bad News Tarheels

There was a really interesting piece today from Yahoo! Sports about the ties between a former UNC coach, a suspended player, and a prominent sports agent. The article is very detailed, and it means big trouble for North Carolina. It seems reasonable to expect that they will receive sanctions more severe than those received by USC a few months ago.

Another piece from Yahoo! Sports (getting it done today!) talks about why the investigation is important. It is emblematic of a sport rife with violations. It's not surprising given the huge sums of money at play.

I've respected Butch Davis ever since he rescued the Hurricanes from their own NCAA penalties through solid recruiting and high quality (low trouble) players. It will be hard for him to keep his job if the allegations prove true.

28 September 2010

Cambio es bueno

The democratic process seems to be working for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. In recent parliamentary elections Hugo Chavez lost his 2/3 majority. That is the percentage required to pass legislation unilaterally. It is not all smooth sailing for the anti-Chavistas:

The electoral results set the stage for intense debate over Mr. Chávez's policies in and out of congress. Some analysts say Mr. Chávez may not relinquish his grip on the legislature easily. He might rule by decree, for example. A new congress won't be seated until January, meaning Mr. Chávez could push important legislative changes before then.
Mr. Chávez hasn't sat idle in the past when opponents have won. Two years ago, when an opposition politician was elected mayor of Caracas, Mr. Chávez stripped the office of its power. That same year Mr. Ocariz won the mayoral election in Petare, a vast slum on the Caracas outskirts. Mr. Chávez stripped the district of 16 garbage pickup trucks the very next day, he said.

Chavez doesn't play fair, and he still has a lot of power. This will be something to watch.

25 September 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLIV

I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan (who isn't?). This is a trailer for his new film and it looks very intriguing.

24 September 2010

SPOTD #165

Back on the bus.

Today's Phrase:
This Arabic proverb provides a needed lesson for fractious times.

Actual
Tu buen humor es un regalo que haces a los demás.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable
Too bwain oo-more ess oon ray-gah-low kay ah-says ah lows day-mas.

Translation (roughly)
Your good humor is a gift you give to others.

Fantastic
I watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox a few months ago. I thought it was an extremely entertaining movie, with really superb stop-motion animation. I am big fan of the genre, dating back as far as I can remember. This is a pretty cool behind-the-scenes shot of the Badger and the actor who did the voice work- Bill Murray.

Putting in the Time
This is an interesting article about one of the workhorses of the NFL, New York Jets fullback Tony Richardson. He was released and resigned at the start of the season, to the consternation of some people who consider him one of the “good” guys in the NFL.

Cougar Pride
Max Hall was the quarterback of the (my) BYU Cougars for 3 years. He had a great college career, and although he would sometimes drive me crazy in big games he was always fired up to play. He has been signed by the Arizona Cardinals and is now their back-up QB. Read more about it here.

The Real Charlie Chan
Charlie Chan was based on an actual detective who worked in Honolulu around the turn of the century. This is an article about the book written about him, the Cantonese detective Chang Apana.

Serious Care
This guy really likes to take care of his jeans. It is an entertaining look at “optimal jean care.”

A Caper
Can be a delicious addition to many meals. Lacy has enjoyed making a really delicious salmon with lemon and capers. She got the recipe from my sister. Here is a place for some other caper-related recipes.

Vacations for the Apocalypse
This is an amusing look at some places that might be ideal destinations if the world comes to an end.

Link of the Day
This is a fascinating article about the use of linen “armor” in the ancient world. Well worth a look.

23 September 2010

Doing Good at the U

Win or lose, Randy Shannon is making a positive impact at the University of Miami. I hope we win though, and I think we will tonight against Pitt.

Read this article for more on the good things happening in Coral Gables.

18 September 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLIII

Got this video from #EricDSnider. It's a hilarious re-dub of the Inception trailer.



You will like it!

16 September 2010

Trouble

I was actually a little surprised by this article from the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley. In the past I have felt he was a little too forgiving of the rather poor law enforcment experience of the Gators in recent years. For some reason the Gators have had a large number of players arrested for felony or misdemeanor crimes. I don't think Urban Meyer is a bad guy, but there may be an institutional failing in the recruiting process employed by the Gators (and other schools with similar issues).

On a separate note, NCAA enforcement (humanized somewhat by Stewart Mandel in this piece) is confronting a challenging environment with agents and the many others who also work in that field. This is not a high point for the sport from this perspective, as many prominent programs have seen their players face eligibility issues.


On a lighter note I really enjoyed this article by Pat Forde about the University of Texas.

13 September 2010

After-action Report

This was an important weekend, and not because of football, although football played a role.

As everyone is aware, it was the 9th anniversary of 9/11/2001. I'm sure none of us will forget where we were or who we were with that day. As the years have passed, the pain from the day seems to have faded. At least it seems that way sometimes

During the broadcast of the BYU-Air Force game, one member each from the NYPD and NYFD were invited to the game. The fireman had lost two of his brothers in the Towers. It was an important reminder that some things simply matter more. The officer and fireman expressed their gratitude for the commitment and effort of the airmen at the game and the work of our entire armed forces. In my small way I want to echo that. It certainly matters more than the outcome of a football game.

--------------------------------------

Miami and BYU both lost their games. Here is a rundown of facts and information on the Cougs. I guess if we have to lose, why not to Air Force on 9/11? They certainly earned the win.

I felt like Miami's loss was less frustrating given who they were playing, but still disappointing given the history. Here is some post-game analysis from Manny Navarro at the Miami Herald.

I went to the Gator Game for the first half. We left as it was brutally hot and the Gators looked terrible while we were there. It will be an interesting season.

11 September 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLII

The first video is not-so-Awesome. For some reason the Disney Channel thinks it is necessary to pervert classic cartoons by adding some kind of annoying commentary. See below.



The following is a parody in the style of the mess shown above.



Leave the good stuff alone. Terrible tv movies are bad enough.

10 September 2010

Turnabout?

The last time Miami played Ohio State marked one of the worst nights of my life as a fan of college football. There are some other key games in that pathetic pantheon, but the 2002 Fiest Bowl has special place in my heart. I was engaged to my wife at the time, and her being there may have ensured that household objects avoided breakage.

Terrible outcome to an exciting game, a game that signaled Ohio State's renewed power and Miami's eventual decline from national powerhouse status.

The two teams meet tomorrow. I am worried about the game, but Miami certainly has a chance to win. The play of quarterback Jacory Harris will depend on the strength of his offensive line. The ability of Miami's defense to pressure Terrell Pryor and stop the Ohio State run game will also be critical. I hope it goes our way.

BYU also has a potentially difficult matchup, but I believe that we will be able to win that one handily.

I'm going to the Gator game with Joseph, so this will be a good day for Football, and hopefully a good day for me!

08 September 2010

Burnin'

Much has been made about the upcoming, planned Koran burning, set to occur here in Gainesville on Saturday, September 11th.

It is an unfortunate chapter for this fair town, once known for football, Gatorade, and the murder of 5 college students by a serial killer in 1990. I find the epsiode unfortunate for several reasons.

1. This is a small church of about 50 members. The pastor's influence is likely somewhat larger owing to his web presence. I feel comfortable making the assumption that just about any city of more than 100 thousand people has someone like this guy. It just so happens that our local crackpot is now the most well-known nut job in America.

2. The desire to demonstrate rejection of this church's plan has resulted in much wider exposure for their cause. The threats and negative reaction to their plan has been well-documented, but I bet that they have some new adherents who were unaware of them before a few weeks ago. They don't deserve this kind of spotlight. Media time is so hard to come by for GOOD causes, yet we devote hours of discussion to them?

I don't know anybody who has expressed support for this church or it's plan. A multi faith prayer meeting was held today to express unity and opposition to the plan. Are there people out there who support them? Of course, but they are a tiny fraction of the local populace and the nation at large.

My preferred method of handling this would have been to deny then the forum they are obviously seeking. Too late for that I guess.

06 September 2010

SPOTD #164

It has been 7 months since the last SPOTD. I intended to put more things on the blog and stop doing this, but there are a lot of quick things that are better laid out on the SPOTD. I’ll try to do this once or twice a month.

I also changed the recipient list, eliminating anyone that I wasn’t actually acquainted with who had signed up on my old website. If any of you want to be removed from the list, just let me know.

Today's Phrase:
Football season has started. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A hopeful time, when none of our nascent dreams have been dashed. From Samuel Johnson-

Actual
Donde la esperanza no existe, no puede existir el esfuerzo.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable
Done-day lah ace-pay-rahn-zah no ache-zee-stay, no pway-day ache-zee-steer ell ace-fware-so.

Translation (roughly)
Where there is no hope there can be no endeavor.

Beautiful Architecture
I love this house. I don’t know if I would live there, but I love its minimalist look. Mind you, it is $35 million worth of minimalism.

Tragedy
This is, without a doubt, one of the saddest articles that I have ever read. To tell you more would spoil it.

Do You Remember the Time?
Now that Egyptian-themed video with Magic Johnson makes more sense.

How It All Ends
5 ways that we could all go adios, courtesy of the cosmos.

Thorium? More like bore-ium!
Seriously though, thorium may provide an alternative to uranium and plutonium-based nuclear reactors. According to this article from the Telegraph (U.K.), thorium reactors would be clean-burning with little-to-no waste, and thorium is extremely plentiful. What are we waiting for?

I’m Going Fast
This is a great article about the world’s fastest electric land-vehicle.

Link of the Day
This is from a series written by Eric Snider, Eric’s Bad Movies. This is one of my all-time favorites, written about the 2009 Canadian film, Gooby. Read and enjoy.

05 September 2010

On Moderate Islam

I thought this was a great bit from the WSJ. 6 thinkers are asked to explain what they think moderate Islam is.

There are some interesting thoughts.

01 September 2010

La Independencia

BYU is now an independent football school. I am glad that they made the move.

Here are some links to pertinent articles:

Wouldn't you rather go to Portland than Laramie?

31 August 2010

Trouble in Tehran

This is an interesting article from Michael Ledeen. He explains that the Iranian regime is showing new signs of vulnerability. I love this story:

A few weeks ago, according to official and private reports, the Iranian air force shot down three drones near the southwestern city of Bushehr, where a
Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up. When the Revolutionary
Guards inspected the debris, they expected to find proof of high-altitude spying. Instead, the Guards had to report to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the air force had blasted Iran's own unmanned aircraft out of the sky.
Apparently, according to official Iranian press accounts, the Iranian military had created a special unit to deploy the drones—some for surveillance and others, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged on Sunday, to carry bombs—but hadn't informed the air force.

A turning point?

Not really. That happened back in 2007 when the Bush administration implemented, against great opposition, the surge strategy. For more see the piece from Stephen Hadley (Bush's national security advivor) on the Iraq War.

The President's speech was okay. Most of his speeches are. But they also turn out to be empty in their execution. He talks about harmony but is highly divisive in practice. I could actually sit through this whole speech though, which is the first time I've done that since...the Inauguration.

He should have given some credit to President Bush for leaving Iraq on a solidly upward trajectory. That is all I have to say about that.

A little history-

28 August 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXLI

This is for Lacy.

26 August 2010

A Must-read on Afghanistan

The Weekly Standard is a conservative magazine, but regardless of your leanings it would be worthwhile to read this article from P.J. O'Rourke. It is a fascinating look at the complexities we face in our involvement in Afghanistan. There are some digs at the Dems (deserved in my opinion) but the piece is about much more than that.

We need to learn more about what is really going on there. The traditional media is not doing a good enough job. Here are some excerpts (some long) from O'Rourke's piece.

On the relative longevity of the Taliban:

The Taliban offers bad law—chopping off hands, stoning desperate housewives, the usual things. Perhaps you have to live in a place that has had no law for a long time—since the Soviets invaded 31 years ago—before you welcome bad law as an improvement.
An Afghan civil society activist, whose work has put him under threat from the Taliban, admitted, “People picked Taliban as the lesser of evils.” He explained that lesser of evils with one word, “stability.”
A woman member of the Afghan parliament said that it was simply a fact that the Taliban insurgency was strongest “where the government is not providing services.” Rule of law being the first service a government must provide.

On why Afghans sometimes choose to support the Taliban and not American (or NATO) outsiders:
The Pashtun tribal leader said, “I tell my own tribesmen to not support the Taliban, but they don’t listen. They see the Taliban as fighting invaders.”
The Radio Azadi journalist said, “When people felt they were dishonored, they needed revenge. The Taliban gave them revenge.”
To fully sympathize with the dishonor an Afghan might feel, foreign government, U.N. and NGO aid agencies must be considered. Myriad of them operate in Afghanistan, staffed by people from around the globe. So it’s not just that you’ve got Highland Scots marching in hairy-kneed formations up and down your cul-de-sac.
Many of the most ordinary functions of your society have been taken over by weird strangers. When you need a flu shot or a dog license or a permit to burn leaves, you have to go see Bulgarians and Bolivians and Nigerians and Fiji Islanders.

On bribery:
If Americans claim not to understand Afghan corruption, we’re lying. Bribery has been a dominant part of our foreign policy in Afghanistan, the way it’s been
a dominant part of everyone’s foreign policy in Afghanistan including al Qaeda’s. What we Americans don’t understand about Afghan corruption is why it’s so transparent, just a matter of openly taking money. Don’t the Afghans know that you should take bribes indirectly—by collecting publicity, popularity, public recognition, prestige, influence, and, most of all, power? Then big corporations put you on their boards of directors and that’s when you get the money. Meanwhile you’ve been riding in government cars, flying on government planes, eating out of the government pork barrel (lamb barrel in Afghanistan), so why worry about payoffs up front?
Afghans have failed to move their corruption from the Rod Blagojevich model, which we all deplore, to the Barack Obama model, which we all admire.

On something we are doing right:
There must be something in Afghanistan that we’ve got right. There is. Radio Azadi, the Afghan bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is on the air 12
hours a day, seven days a week, half the time in Pashto, half the time in Dari.
What Radio Azadi does is known as “surrogate broadcasting,” meaning the content is Afghan-produced as a way for Afghans to get news and views in a place where
otherwise they have to be delivered mostly face-to-face. And there is no agenda except to be factual (although facts are an agenda item if you care about freedom, which is what Azadi means in Dari).

An excellent story to end his article:

There was one other point that people in Kabul agreed on. Whatever it is that America does in Afghanistan, America should proceed with wisdom. The governor told a story about wisdom.
There was a student who had been studying for many years at a madrassa. He had memorized the Koran and learned all the lessons his teacher taught. One day he went to his teacher and said, “I am ready to leave and go be a mullah.”
His teacher said, “I think you should stay here for a few more years.”
“Why?” asked the student. “Is there some additional degree or higher certificate that I will get?”
“No,” said the teacher, “all you will get is wisdom.”
“But I’m ready to be a mullah now,” said the student. And he left the madrassa and wandered from village to village looking for a mosque where he could be the prayer-leader.
Finally the student came to a village where a corrupt old mullah was using the mosque as a stall for his cow. The student was outraged. He gathered the villagers together and told them, “I have studied at a madrassa. I have memorized the Koran. It is a great sacrilege for your mullah to use the mosque as a stall for his cow.”
The villagers beat him up.

The student limped back to the madrassa and told his teacher what had happened. The teacher said, “Follow me.” They went back to the village where the mullah was using the mosque as a stall.
The teacher gathered the villagers together and told them, “I see you have a beautiful cow being kept in your mosque. It must be a very blessed animal. And I hear the cow belongs to your mullah. He must be a very holy man. In fact, I think that this cow is so blessed and your mullah is so holy that if you were to take one hair from the cow’s hide and one hair from the mullah’s beard and rub them together, you would be assured of paradise.”
The villagers ran into the mosque and began plucking hairs from the cow’s hide. The cow started to buck and kick and it bolted from the mosque and disappeared. Then the villagers ran to the mullah’s house and began plucking hairs from the corrupt old mullah’s beard. And they tugged and they yanked so hard at the mullah’s beard that he had a heart attack and died.
“You see,” said the teacher to the student, “no cow in the mosque and a need for a new mullah—that is wisdom.”

A Loss of Connection (cont'd)

Even David Letterman seems to think that the President's behavior has led to a disconnect with the people. About the President's 6 vacation in the last 18 months, Letterman said the following: "He’ll have plenty of time for vacations after his one term is up."

The economy has not been responsive to the stimulus or the various "reforms" that have made their way through Congress. If anything the regulatory environment has made the economic recovery more difficult. Comments from the head of Intel mirror those of other companies:

I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs. And I think they're flummoxed by their experiment in Keynesian economics not working."
Last year, he said: "I am not a Keyensian. I don't necessarily think that all this spending by the government is what will save the economy. My opinion. I do think that it was essential to do some significant short-term spending to put confidence back into the system. Notice I said confidence, not money.
As Obama's vacation continues, the following was reported by ABC's Jake Tapper:

As the president walked around the restaurant, some cordoned-off reporters shouted out to him questions, including one about the war in Iraq. Next Tuesday night, the president will deliver an Oval Office address at 8 pm ET, in which he will mark the occasion of the withdrawal of US combat troops from the country.
But the president was in no mood today to discuss the issue with reporters in that setting. He ignored questions for a bit, then turned to the reporters.
"We're buying shrimp, guys,” he said, smiling. “Come on."

I don't begrudge the man some time off with his family, but Obama is the CEO of the United States. This is not a 9-5 occupation. His attitude toward the question does not promote a sense of confidence (in my admittedly biased mind).

23 August 2010

A Loss of Connection

It seems clear that frustrations with Obama are not unique the Tea Party or very conservative voters. He has lost a lot of mainstream support, and it seems linked to his inability to connect with voters on an emotional level. His political choices have played a role, but the emotional angle can be critical. This post from The Anchoress makes a good point for why George Bush is becoming a figure of some affection when compared to the current POTUS:

One of my husband’s friends–hated Bush, loved Obama and defended him vociferously for the first year, less passionately the second–told him over lunch this week that he’s done with Obama and “I never thought I’d say this but I miss Bush. We knew that he said what he meant, even if we didn’t want to hear it. We knew who he was, even if we didn’t like him. And we never had to wonder whether he liked us. He always did.”
And that is it, in a nutshell. Bush is missable, because we miss having a president whose affection for his country and its people–even the ones who hated him–was never in doubt.
We miss Bush because he never lectured us or harangued us, and when people disagreed with him, they were not immediately called names in an attempt to simply shut up debate.

Obama's success in 2008, driven by an emotional connection to his persona and background, seems a distant memory.

21 August 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXL

This is an interesting trailer for a documentary about Drew Struzan, an excellent artist whose work is known (maybe unknowingly) by anyone who has been to the movies in the last 4 decades.



I think his posters are as emotionally resonant as any art that has been done over this span of time.

20 August 2010

Writer's Revenge

This was an amusing article from the Wall Street Journal about the ability of the TV writer to use his craft to settle scores.

19 August 2010

BYU going for it?

I did not grow up a big fan of BYU football. My father is an alum of the school, but my love and allegiance was with my hometown Hurricanes. When Miami played (and lost) to BYU in 1990, I was grieved.

All that changed when I became a Cougar in 1997. It wasn't that I disliked the Cougars, I was just a bit indifferent until that point. I was sure that games played in the WAC (stands for "We Ain't Credible) didn't matter much in the National Title discussion. For someone born and raised in Florida, home of three of the strongest programs in the country (at the time), BYU's win-loss record didn't matter that much.

Like I said, that changed. As a freshman I committed fully to the Cougs, and that has been the case ever since. The move to the Mountain West was a good one for us, but Utah's departure to the Pac-10, which did not invite BYU, changed the complexion of the league dramatically. Boise State's addition was a good one, but seeing Utah go just made this Cougar feel a little sick. They were called up to play in the big leagues and we were left behind.

This was especially painful because Ute fans HATE BYU. I don't know why there is such a visceral dislike for the Cougars. As an out-of-stater I was shocked by how deep it went, given the low national stakes of the rivalry. LaVell Edwards largely owned the Utes, so it is possible that years of frustration added to the dislike. For them to have something like this, to crow over, was pretty bad.

So now the news emerges yesterday that BYU is considering leaving the Mountain West and going independent in football. The easiest comparison is to Notre Dame, but any reasonable Cougar will admit that we are not in the same league in terms of fan base and the ability to earn revenue. Just the same, BYU is in a better position than almost any other school, as explained here by Dick Harmon of the Deseret News, to go the indendent route. We do have a national fan base, albeit smaller than the Irish. We have excellent television infrastructure. We can also draw a lot more money than we are getting right now.

What are the potential problems? Stewart Mandel talks about them here, but it includes the difficulty of scheduling quality opponents and possibility that a BCS berth might be even harder to attain. I think these challenges can be overcome. I became resigned to the fact that BYU was probably going to be an 11-1 or 10-2 team most years. It is hard to go undefeated in any conference, and having a loss in a non-BCS league means you are probably not going to a big bowl. But that is the case if we STAY in the Mountain West. We already have trouble scheduling quality opponents because of our conference, and importing Fresno State and Nevada doesn't change that. These are still non-BCS schools from a non-BCS conference.

Affiliating with the WAC to play 4 or 5 games means that the remaining 7 or 8 could be against BCS teams. They don't all have to be top-25 opponents either, just 3 or 4, and we would have a schedule that, if we managed a one-loss year or even better, went undefeated, would put us square in the at-large BCS mix. The loss of Fresno State and Nevada does put the WAC in jeopardy and I'm not sure how it comes out of this looking very good.

BYU could make it work (I like what Greg Wrubell of Deseret News had to say about BYU's uniqueness). As Harmon said in today's column, among the benefits of BYU's independence could be great recognition and awareness of its sponsoring entity (and my Church), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

Nothing may happen in the end. The Mountain West is better (on paper) than it was yesterday, and the prospect of a BYU defection has certainly been fun for this Florida-based fan to consider.
I hope they do it, but if not, we still have a chance to improve our program and compete nationally. In the end, you have to win, wherever you are.

16 August 2010

No Hire No Cry

The article I am going to refer to was written last week and is a perfect, albeit anecdotal, explanation of why unemployment continues to be high in the U.S. Michael Fleischer is a business owner in New Jersey, and he breaks down the high cost of maintaining and increasing his employees:

Employing Sally costs plenty too. My company has to write checks for $74,000 so Sally can receive her nominal $59,000 in base pay. Health insurance is a big, added cost: While Sally pays nearly $2,400 for coverage, my company pays the rest—9,561 for employee/spouse medical and dental. We also provide company-paid life and other insurance premiums amounting to $153. Altogether, company-paid benefits add $9,714 to the cost of employing Sally.
Then the federal and state governments want a little something extra. They take $56 for federal unemployment coverage, $149 for disability insurance, $300 for workers' comp and $505 for state unemployment insurance. Finally, the feds make we pay $856 for Sally's Medicare and $3,661 for her Social Security.
When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally's pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits. Bottom line: Governments impose a 33% surtax on Sally's job each year.
This is a real dilemma for business owners in a high uncertain environment. I find his closing comments compelling:
And even if the economic outlook were more encouraging, increasing revenues is always uncertain and expensive. As much as I might want to hire new salespeople, engineers and marketing staff in an effort to grow, I would be increasing my company's vulnerability to government decisions to raise taxes, to policies that make health insurance more expensive, and to the difficulties of this economic environment.
A life in business is filled with uncertainties, but I can be quite sure that every time I hire someone my obligations to the government go up. From where I sit, the government's message is unmistakable: Creating a new job carries a punishing price.

13 August 2010

Haitian Situation

I had an interesting conversation the other day with some Haitian friends. I asked them what they thought about Wyclef Jean running for president. Their answers illustrated how my American media-fed perspective differed from that of the people with something at stake in Haiti.

When I first heard about Wyclef's plan I thought it was fun. I am a fan of his music, but it seems that Wyclef's musical background could be a serious detriment to his ability to govern.

According to my expatriate sources, Wyclef plans to give positions of responsibility to prominent members of the Haitian rap community. It makes Wyclef appear unserious at a time when Haiti is in dire need of serious solutions.

I've had trouble finding independent news on the issue, so some of what I have written may prove inaccurate. With dozens of candidates running, in a country where educated and qualified people have fled in droves, the likely outcome is not good for Haiti's recovery.

It's unlikely that we will get the kind of information on the elections that would provide a real view of what is happening there. Haiti continues to be dangerous, and the mass media has earned a reputation for gathering news from the hotel lobby.

We should pay attention. Haiti has security implications, but more important than that, there are millions of people who need help.

07 August 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXXXIX

Relive your dramatic childhood memories of THE OREGON TRAIL!

04 August 2010

Cool Toy Alert

Joseph got this Star Wars Blaster Rifle from one of his friends for his birthday. I think I may like it even more than he does.

I remember that most of my toy guns provided noises of the strictly imaginary variety. The motorized laser guns and water guns never lasted that long, sounded so cool, or were so darn huge.

It's fun to be a Dad.

Obamacare- Why we don't like it

I am going to take some quotes from a WSJ article of a few weeks ago, featuring law professor Randy Barnett. Barnett is a libertarian, and has a dramatically different view of how the Constitution should be interpreted:

Since the New Deal, Supreme Court justices have generally assumed a law is constitutional and overruled it only when it infringes on an individual right that is enumerated in the Constitution (free speech) or not (privacy). "If you're talking about the regulation of economic activity, the presumption of constitutionality is for all practical purposes irrebuttable," Mr. Barnett says.
Instead, Mr. Barnett would have the court adopt a "presumption of liberty," placing the burden on the government to show that a law has a clear basis in
Congress's constitutional powers. "The easiest way to explain it is, it would basically apply to all liberty the same basic protection we now apply to speech," he says.
He is quick to say that this is not usually how cases are decided, and does not expect the Supreme Court to treat Obamacare this way. This is a long quote, but worth your time:
Mr. Barnett's own view of the Commerce Clause is extremely narrow. If he had his way, ObamaCare would be struck down on the ground that Congress has no authority to regulate the insurance business. When the Constitution was written, Mr. Barnett says, commerce was understood to mean "trade in things—goods. . . . The Commerce Clause was really put there, essentially, to create a free-trade zone for the United States," not to give Congress power over all economic activity. "Not only was insurance not thought to be a part of the original meaning; in fact, it was held by the Supreme Court for 100 years that it was not something within the commerce power to reach."
Today, however, Mr. Barnett acknowledges that is a losing argument. The court reversed itself in the 1944 case of U.S. v. South-Eastern Underwriters, holding that the Commerce Clause does authorize federal regulation of the insurance business.
So would "any constitutional law professor" be right to scoff at the case against ObamaCare? Not according to this law professor. "The challenges to ObamaCare are serious legal challenges within the existing doctrinal framework," Mr. Barnett says. "They are not an attempt to restore the lost Constitution."
That's why the "individual mandate"—the requirement that all Americans purchase medical insurance or pay a fine—has been the focus of the lawsuits by state attorneys general seeking to overturn ObamaCare. (Mr. Barnett wrote a friend-of-the-court brief with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, in support of the Virginia attorney general's lawsuit.)
Such a mandate is unprecedented: "This is the first time in American history that Congress has claimed to use its power over interstate commerce to mandate, or require, that every person enter into a commercial relationship with a private company," Mr. Barnett notes. "As a judicial matter, it's also unprecedented. There's never been a court case which said Congress can do this." That doesn't establish that Congress can't do it, but the high court could reach that conclusion without undoing existing law.
Enough with the legal aspects- why do people have a visceral and negative reaction?

"What is the individual mandate?" Mr. Barnett says. "I'll tell you what the individual mandate, in reality, is. It is a commandeering of the people. . . . Now, is there a rule of law preventing that? No. Why isn't there a rule of law preventing that? Because it's never been done before. What's bothering people about the mandate? This fact. It's intuitive to them. People don't even know how to explain it, but there's something different about this, because it's a commandeering of the people as a whole. . . . We commandeer people to serve in the military, to serve on juries, and to file a return and pay their taxes. That's all we commandeer the people to do. This is a new kind of commandeering, and it's offensive to a lot of people."

A case challenging the individual mandate is continuing to proceed through the judicial system. It will be a landmark moment for the nation. I hope there is some of Barnett's judicial philosophy in their decision.

03 August 2010

Fleshing it Out

A while ago I wrote about Shirley Sherrod. A few things have happened since then to flesh out the matter. I wrote about how she had been treated unfairly in the way that her speech had been cut up and posted, and then in the response by the media and White House.

Some more has emerged since then that is unflattering about Sherrod, but this time of her own doing:

  • She has stated her intent to sue Andrew Breitbart over his role in posting the video. I'm not sure if he edited the clips or if he passed them along. The latter seems to be the case. Still, no one has contended that he altered her words in any material way. She claims racism. I think that is absurd. It was politically, but not racially motivated. I don't think she has a case.
  • Sherrod's story may not be as rosy as it seemed. This is an article, also detailing events well in the past, that may indicate whether initial impressions had some validity.