Friday, December 18, 2009

HCR, quick glance

I've long been on the side that believes the restrictions on dropping coverage and pre-existing conditions probably make the current health care reform bill worth passing pretty much no matter what other crap is in it, though maybe that's partly because I've never been convinced that we'd get a public option anyway.

Howard Dean jumping off the bus makes me think twice, though.

kung fu monkeys

No, seriously. A Chinese man taught his monkeys kung fu, and they turned on him with their best moves.

And there's a picture of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Thought I'd give it a shot considering all the stellar reviews it's gotten over the last several years. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it really is an outstanding show. Definitely lacking the gritty realism of a show like "The Wire," and isn't quite as intelligent, but that's an awfully high bar. It's interesting how the show painted a bland, very stereotypically "football show" portrait in the pilot, and has spent every episode since then filling in interesting details and adding color. It sketches out the small Texas town with striking clarity and honesty, letting you see right through the Broderian heartland rubbish into a place that really exists (or at least seems to).

A little personal note about it: my high school played the school the show is based on once or twice while I was there. We got smoked.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Kelly "on brink" of becoming next Irish coach?

Does God love us this much?
Kelly held a meeting last week about the opening with representatives of Notre Dame within days of Cincinnati's Big East championship game against Pittsburgh, the Tribune has learned.

Talks progressed well enough that the official announcement Kelly will be Charlie Weis' replacement could come as early as Friday -- anytime after Cincinnati's football banquet Thursday night.
... reported "things are heating up" between Notre Dame and Kelly.

Final details over a contract remain, but the university had no plans to deviate from its traditional stance of signing new football coaches to five-year deals, a source said. Asked if Kelly would accept an official offer to coach Notre Dame, a coaching friend of Kelly's answered, "I have no doubt he'd take the job.''

Let's all hope this isn't just another coach using ND's interest to get a better contract from their home school. Brian Kelly has taken three shitty schools and made them champions. Grand Valley State is still a major Division II power, and Central Michigan has had an iron grip on the MAC since 2006, his third year. Cincinnati's the Big East champion for the second consecutive season and playing in the Sugar Bowl because of this guy, kids. Cincinnati.

And check out this nugget from his Wikipedia page:
Among the honors that UC football team has achieved in 2009 is the highest academic rating among teams in the top 10 of the current BCS standings, according to the latest Graduation Success Rates, released Wednesday by the NCAA. UC, which is fifth in the BCS standings, checked in with a 75 percent NCAA graduation rate and a 71 percent federal government rate, the only team in the BCS top 10 to surpass the 70 percent plateau in both.

If he can't right this ship, then the problem is not with coaches.


Public option triggered out of existence in the Senate compromise. I really, really wish I were wrong about this.

Of course, we're all waiting to see what the CBO says about all this, even though they said the public option would save money. After all, if it isn't for wars, it's not free money!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

not the punchline I was expecting

Earlier today I was in a sexual harassment workshop for work. It's exactly like the ones you see parodied on television, where you watch videos of inappropriate behavior and then are asked by the presenter to point out the obvious. We're watching this one where a hoary old professor asks his secretary to send out the "memo" he just sent her. It's already pretty humorous because of the casting choice and stilted lines. It continues:

*secretary opens email and gasps in horror*

Secretary: "Did you mean to send this to me?"

Dirty Professor: "You're supposed to laugh. It's just a joke."

*awkward pause*

Dirty Professor: "I thought you liked animals."

Monday, December 07, 2009

BOTH Clausen and Tate entering draft

Thanks, Clausen-punching irate fan! Idiot.

Seriously though, this is a serious setback, to be sure. Of the two, Tate is probably the toughest hit since no one else appears to be at his level to balance Michael Floyd, while Dayne Crist showed promise in his limited playing time, injury notwithstanding.

Still, imagine for a second what Brian Kelly could have done with Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate.

so much for BCS gate-crashing

Every year for the past 3 or 4 years there has been a great undefeated team from the non-BCS conferences that has crashed the gates of the BCS. Even more embarrassing for the BCS, these mid-major upstarts actually have a pretty good record against the BCS' elite. This year things looked to get even worse with not one, but two such revolutionaries having the audacity to go undefeated, with one of them even knocking off the eventually PAC 10 champions along the way, each one demanding the opportunity to play with the big dogs.

The BCS' answer? Turn the Fiesta Bowl, traditionally the home turf of the Big 12, into the Separate But Equal Bowl. So I guess that makes the new guiding principle of BCS bowl selection "damage control." Matt Hinton of the brilliant Dr. Saturday blog (formerly Sunday Morning Quarterback) doesn't smell any conspiracy:
It's not really that sinister: The Fiesta Bowl made the picks itself, one undefeated upstart (Cincinnati) still has its chance to make good against a powerhouse (Florida) and the only options beyond the championship game and the Gators would have been matching the Frogs and Broncos up with almost equally surprising outfits from Georgia Tech and Iowa. It's not a conspiracy; as with so often in the BCS, the setup ensures that somebody is always getting screwed.

I find it almost inconceivable that the Fiesta Bowl would willing choose both Boise St. and TCU over its birthright, Big 12 representatives Iowa. Nor would I be surprised to find that the BCS is more than confident in Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow's ability to put down the 3rd undefeated pretender.

It's shameful.

It's time for a change, ladies and gentlemen. I present to you the Wetzel plan, 2009 edition. It's a playoff of the same sort played all the other NCAA sports, including Division II football, so I don't want to hear a word about kids playing too many games. All 11 Division I conference champs + 5 at-large bids, with higher seeds getting home field advantage. The bowls can still invite people and play if they want, but they don't take part in the tournament; otherwise, home field advantage would be pointless. There are plenty of reasons to back this system as laid out by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. If none of that convinces you, though, just take a gander at what this season would look like under the Wetzel plan:

Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Right out of the gate in week 1 we get Iowa at Pac 10 champions Oregon, Georgia Tech on the road at Ohio State, Virginia Tech on the blue turf of Boise State, LSU crossing the Sabine river to TCU, and, hoo boy, 2 great powerhouses you never see together: Penn State at Florida.

It's already got more and better matchups than the BCS this year, and we're just on the first Saturday.

Imagine the likely week 2, and you've got the winner of Iowa-Oregon traveling down to Austin to play Colt McCoy and the Longhorns. Cincinnati gets the winner of Va Tech-Boise St. at home. A couple hundred miles south will be a likely match between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Boise St, TCU, and Cincinnati all get legitimate shots at the Mythical National Championship (as well as East Carolina and several other smaller outfits), but TCU, the one with the highest seed, would have to get past LSU, Florida, and probably Alabama. Boise St. would have to beat Va Tech, Cincinnati and Texas.

This needs to happen. Sooner or later, it will happen. It's inevitable.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

remember, kids, he's pro-life!

Rick Warren refuses to condemn a bill to make homosexuality (or even support for gay rights) a crime in Uganda, sending gays to jail for life, and executing HIV positive gays:
The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.

Unsurprisingly, the author of the bill is considered a "core member" of The Family, the Christian conservative organization on Capitol Hill. When he started catching some flak for this remark, Warren replied that, "Globally last yr 146,000 Christians were put to death last year because of their faith. No one, except Christians, said anything."

Nevermind the highly suspect and unverified nature of Warren's number, what's the lesson here from the good pastor for the kids at home?
1. that one cannot be Christian and gay at the same time;
2. that it's ok to stand by and watch evil happen, saying nothing, if your people were wronged on some previous occasion;
3. that gays can be punished for other people's crimes.

These political pastors, they really live the Word, ya know?