Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Unfit Governor

Chris Christie has demonstrated during this moment of crisis that he is unfit to be serve as Governor of New Jersey. During last weekend's devastating snowstorm that stranded me in Kansas for two days, parts of New Jersey got 32 inches of snow in 24 hours. This is roughly the equivalent of Antartica being dumped on your house. Twice. However, Christie was busy embarking on a 'Disney World Vacation,' and failed to return from Disney World to oversee the response.

Christie's failure to return during an emergency, particularly when given a week's notice to prepare for returning, has been described as a deriliction of duty. I fear this bombastic talk takes our eyes off the ball. Here's the ball: what lunatic would visit Disney World during Christmas? I'd rather sit around the hotel and have the busboy drum my forehead with a pin hammer than leave my room.

And here's the craziest part: Christie actually had an opportunity to escape! Many a man has been drug into the hell that is Disney because his wife and kids wouldn't stop whining about how it would be a fun opportunity to spend time together because he simply couldn't negotiate a way out. Christie, on the other hand, has the greatest excuse ever: 'sorry hon, but Antartica just got dumped on New Jersey (twice). Gotta go rescue the state. I'll try to get back as soon as possible, but this looks like one sticky wicket of a situation. So if the State of New Jersey needs me longer than anticipated, you navigate the teeming crowds of screaming, vomit-covered children without me.' And just like that, Christie would be a free man.

The conclusion here is obvious: Chris Christie is the most incompetent man in the face of emergency I've ever read about. Not because of his abscense - the Secretary of Transportation and Adjucant General should be the primary responders to snowstorms, even if the Governor is available. Additionally, I don't know if the state would be any more well off if Christie had returned. However, his refusal to exploit the most opportune excuse to escape Gehenna exposes him as unfit to continue serving as Governor; even in a state as grisly as Jersey.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Clemente Effect

I'm taking K-State's loss to Florida on Saturday pretty hard, and postpone sleep while thinking what-if. What if Dennis Clemente had one more year of eligibility, how great would the Wildcats be?

I haven't been sold on this team since watching them play. I bought into the preseason hype, but they looked good (not great) against Virginia Tech, ditto against Gonzaga. Then they looked shitty against Duke. Didn't watch'em again during their string of second-tier victories before the Florida game, but game reviews painted their accomplishments as pedestrian. People bemoan the rebounding and grittiness advantage that was on greater display last year, but I look more closely at what Pullen has done.

The point guard just isn't scoring points like he used to. His shooting percentage has been downright atrocious, with games such as 1/12 against Duke, 5/17 against Loyola Chicago, and 2/11 against Washington. He's getting more steals and rebounds while committing fewer personal fouls this season, but just doesn't look as good as last year. Why? The answer lies somewhere over in Israel.

I believe Clemente was that instrumental to K-State's success last year. The NBA didn't want him because he simply couldn't provide that killer scoring threat - instead, he was an enabler. He was quick, had excellent vision, and created. This is what great guards do, and without that, Pullen is having a hard time transitioning into his new role.

We could also call this the CJ Effect, because it happened first and is much starker in every respect. CJ Lee's last year at Michigan, he wiggled into a starting role, earned a first-round upset, and almost beat out Blake Griffin's Sooners for a Sweet Sixteen birth. CJ didn't put up 20-point games. Didn't have to. He brought that leadership, vision, intangible blend that makes wins. Everyone in the Ford School agreed; the difference between 2008-09's Big 10 wins and 2009-10's let down was the lack of an enabler. And the Ford School knows - we almost won a game in intramurals (we're impartial AND know the game).

End of the day, K-State lost a lot more that 16 points/game when Clemente left. Even if you disregard what he did on the defensive end (which was a lot), his presence allowed Pullen to thrive. Now he's struggling. And that's got me a little nervous headed into conference play. Yes, we need our bigs to man up - but we need a creator even more.

The measure of a players greatness shouldn't be measured by his scorecard, but what his team accomplishes. Unless he's a runner. Then it's just what he accomplishes.

(Growing my Pullen Beard in 2009)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Actions v. Words

The best 'satirical segment used as commentary' I've ever seen on the Daily Show (and they've had some damn good ones):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lame-as-F@#k Congress
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

(note: Facebook refuses to transfer html codes from here to my Facebook notes whenever it randomly trawls around my RSS feed and won't convert the video. You can, however, view the clip here (self-promotion) or here.

I was big supporter of Obama's decision not to wear a flag lapel during the primaries. I rooted on Cantor being taken to the woodshed regarding the platitude of 'freedom,' and how often politicians use it to attack opponents in crass and pathetic ways. Yet the royalties observation is the most spot on thing ever. I'm open to conversations regarding what (if any) additional benefit level is appropriate. However, it's worth noting this isn't the first time the health risks of the dust around the Trade Center have been obfuscated - the Bush administration previously lied about the health risks these responders face, and it's not up for debate. It's not a 'did Bush really lie about WMDs?' question. They were definitely, deliberately lying about health impacts of asbestos in the dust. Which may lead us to understand the real reason so many Senators despise the idea of paying for these benefits - it relies on informed medical and environmental understanding. Which comes from scientific understanding. Which means someone's using science. Which, as we know, is the platitudinal Republican's greatest fear.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Making the Sisters of the Poor Poorer.

Ohio State President Gordon Gee: classic conservative jackass. While most recognize him as the originator of some idiotic statements regarding non-BCS schools' legitimacy, he's displeased the masses before. He lasted for 2 years at Brown before being run out, accused of treating the school more like a Wall Street corporation than an Ivy League university. He then went to Vanderbilt, where he came under criticism for lavish personal spending and running up a huge tab renovating his university-provided home. There are other reasons to contend he's not a good person. Serving on the board of coal company Massey Energy, he stepped down in 2009 after the company caused toxic coal sludge spills and oversaw multiple mining accidents resulting in the deaths of their workers.

To be honest, most of the above doesn't really tug at my heart strings. The Boise State/TCU jabs, however, make him sound like a trust fund kid opposed to the inheritance tax. His contention, that Ohio State should be able to bowl for national championships but not outside schools, is like saying it's not fair the government is gonna take your money. Well, no, they're not. If your parent's estate is worth $50 million, that's their money. You never worked for it. You never did anything to earn it. You, yourself, have failed to make a contribution to society entitling you to 100% of what someone else earned.

Same for OSU. You think OSU is entitled to something others aren't because of the conference they play in? Well, let's examine three schedules according to the Sagarin rankings: OSU: 68th most difficult; TCU: 82; Boise: 70th. Gee's specific comment was that unlike TCU, Ohio State isn't playing the little sisters of the poor. So what about god-awful teams Marshall, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota (or even 7-5 Miami)? Are we expected to simply overlook the fact Ohio State's schedule had exactly one ranked team (Wisconsin, who steamrolled OSU 31-18). A rule that dictated any team playing for the national championship to exhibit a strength of schedule ranked at least in the top 50% of the nation would leave Ohio State on the outside looking in. Ohio State isn't playing the little sisters of the poor, just their inbred cousins.

Back to the tax thing, this reeks of the unearned sense of entitlement so prevalent in today's society. Ohio State has done nothing to justify why being in a BCS conference means they should be allowed to play in the national title game. The Big East and ACC have been horrible - Virginia Tech is the only redeemable school out of either conference. They simply fail to bring anything to the table that the WAC (with three ranked teams) can't. Except for legacy. And now we've gone full circle about twice. I have something and you don't. Regardless of our respective actions, this system shall remain. My school is historically powerful, ergo, it should be granted privileges yours isn't - even if you've worked harder and accomplished more. My family is historically powerful, ergo, I should be granted more privileges than you - even if you've worked harder and have accomplished more. I received an artificial head start, and will be damned if the government takes a dime of money I didn't earn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's Talk About...

I caught a glimpse of this once, but thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it's not. After you watch it, make sure to take some time out from shoveling your sidewalk this week. During that timeout, smack yourself in the face with said shovel:

People often express fears re: the downfall of America. When 'The Situation' is winning policy debates, I'd argue we're already scraping the bottom of the barrel. Additionally, Bristol is now in an idiotic feud with Keith Olbermann. Best case scenario? Two people I contravene engage in the lamest gang war ever. Of course, we can all predict the final outcome: Sarah Palin earns a kill shot against Olbermann from a helicopter.