Archive for November, 2009

I know the Kentucky Wildcats don’t have the best football track record in the world, but still, beating a team 25 times in a row is still pretty remarkable.  Kentucky fans have to be wondering when this streak will finally be broken after having an excellent chance of getting the job done this year and blowing it.  Given the game was played two days ago, I am not going to completely breakdown the game.  But in short, I thought the Vols played fairly well except for two crucial turnovers that nearly cost them the game.  But could have, should have, etc., the bottom line is the Vols pulled out the victory in OT.  And if the sports pundits are right, it appears that the win will be good enough to get the Vols into the Outback Bowl.  Not too bad for Lane Kiffin’s first year.

The regular season is over the Vols.  Virtually all eyes of the college football world will be turned to the SEC Championship game between the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide.  I tend to think it is going to be a defensive struggle, as I believe the defenses are the strengths for both teams.  I think I am going to give Florida the slight edge, because they have Tebow and Alabama doesn’t (it doesn’t help ‘Bama that Ingram is banged up).  Let’s go Florida 16, Alabama 9 as a prediction.

Share

If I was actually a good writer, I would be able to write a brilliant article about all the things I have to be thankful for as we approach the holiday.  Unfortunately, I am not a good writer.  So instead you are going to get this.

How is pumpkin pie made?

Now you know!  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Share

Last night a Senate vote cleared the way for a debate of the health care bill before the whole Senate.  Sometimes writing in this blog is a good excuse to try to research the issues of the day and educate myself, and right now there is no bigger issue than health care reform.  This is a complex issue to say the least.  You have the uninsured, you have the ever-increasing costs of the whole health care system, you have the insurance companies, you have the doctors, you have the patients, you have the lawyers, and on and on and on.  And then you have the bill before the Senate, which is over 2,000 pages long.  Um, yeah, as much as I like to research this, I have no desire to read a 2,000+ page document.  (Heck, have you ever read legislative documents?  If you have, you know why I really have no desire to even read a 2 page legislative document!  Actually, I have heard the criticism to the effect that legislators shouldn’t vote on things they haven’t even read.  That’s really a straw man though.  Truth be told, legislators never read the bills that they vote on.  They really aren’t readable in that format, as they are so full of references to other documents and laws that are only reference by number that any attempts to do so would take forever.  It wouldn’t be efficient at all.  This is why legislators have staffs.)

So instead of discussing the whole bill and its merits, it is a bit easier to discuss just some of the high points:

The Public Option:

The public option is simply a government-run insurance provider that would compete against current private providers.  The concern here is that the government plan would have an unfair advantage, since government also control the rules of the game.  This may be a valid concern.  However, it is not unprecedented to have government ran entities compete in the private market.  In many states, the state government offer worker’s comp insurance that competes against that provided in the private market.  Outside the insurance market, the U.S. mail competes against private delivers such as Federal Express and UPS.  So this type of thing can be done.

Individual Mandate:

This would mean that individuals would be required to purchased health insurance.  This does seem a bit anti-freedom.  If you don’t want to pay for health insurance, shouldn’t you have the option not to buy any?  That said, this isn’t unprecedented either.  States mandate that each of us buy automobile liability insurance.  Furthermore, there is a reason this has to be, because of another provision of the reform.

No Exclusions For Pre-existing Conditions:

Of course we all know that currently insurers can deny coverage for certain things based on pre-existing conditions.  The reform wouldn’t allow insurers to do this any longer.  This is why the individual mandate is required.  You can’t have one without the other.  Otherwise you all but guarantee what is called adverse selection.   What this basically means is that if given the option, people would not buy health insurance until they are actually sick or injured.  The concept of health insurance only works if there are healthy people paying premiums to help subsidize the costs of those who require payments for their health care.  If you don’t have that, there isn’t really a point to having insurance.  So everyone has to understand that this is the cost of no denials for pre-existing conditions, we all have to pay up!  (Actually, I am just reading a summary of the Senate version of the bill, and it appears in that version, insurers would be able to continue to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  Individuals denied for this reason would be referred to a national high-risk poop program until 2014 when the insurance exchange, which would include the public option, would become available.)

Employer Mandate:

This really goes hand-in-hand with the individual mandate.  If we are going to force individuals to purchase health insurance, then it needs to be as available as possible.  So this mandate would state that employers must either provide health insurance or pay a penalty.  Once again, this seems anti-freedom.  But the fear here is that if you have a public option, employers will just start dropping their own plans and start encouraging employees to enroll in the public option.  This penalty should discourage that.

Yeah, I think I am just more confused.  Naturally, there’s a lot more to it than this.  We apparently have an issue involving abortion and whether federal dollars will be allowed to cover those, which is pure politics (which actually is a reasonable concern for the public option, because politics may trump reason when it comes to what is covered and what is not).  And the Senate version doesn’t match the House version, so who knows what will actually come out in the final version of the bill, or even if this actually passes.

I do think we can do better than our current system.  What I do not know is if what we ultimately get here will be better.  I am concerned that I don’t see a lot that appears to actually cut the costs of health care, so it just becomes more of a shell game of who pays the costs.  My fear here is that Obama has stuck his neck out so far to get something, anything, passed in the name of health care reform that what ends up getting passed will at best be meaningless because it may be so gutted and at worse actually do more harm than good because it is full of half-arsed provisions.

I think I said this in my other health care post, but we may be better off going to single-payer and just getting it over with.  I am not sure all the necessary ingredients that are required for a free market to work are there in the health care market.  At the very least, I think whether or not the free market can work should be discussed.  This is where I think the political system fails us.  What will get passed will be far more about political considerations than about what is best for our society based on a discussion between knowledgeable (which obviously doesn’t include me!) parties.  And that’s the real shame.

Share

The Tennessee Volunteers are bowl eligible, so I guess at least that’s a mild improvement over last year.  Sure, we are looking at some craptacular bowl, but that’s better than sitting at home.  I didn’t see the Vanderbilt game, so I can’t really speak about the game this week.  Following the Yahoo updates and listening to some of it on the radio feed, it sounded like a pretty ho-hum effort by the Vols, but that’s good enough against this Vanderbilt team, which I believe could find a way to lose  against just about anyone.  Next week’s game against Kentucky could be a challenge, as the Wildcats are, believe it or not, actually looking for win number 8 on the season.  On the other hand, in recent history, Kentucky has pretty much laid an egg in their matchups against the Vols.  So who knows if they will actually show up.

Anyway, do you think Kiffin was a little happy to get bowl eligible:

Share

Reality Check!

Posted: November 21, 2009 in running
Tags: , ,

Ouch!!!  So…much…pain!!!!

OK, so I get this bright idea that I am going to try to run 10 miles this morning.  As it turns out, I think my eyes were bigger than my appetite.  Just wasn’t up to it today.  I managed to push my way through about 8 miles (though I had to do some walking even at that).  I think I may be doing too much running.  My legs just feel fatigued.  And I think I may have pulled a muscle during the Race For The Hills.  My left thigh just is killing me any time I run up a hill.  So I think I am actually going to take the next couple of days off (I can’t remember when the last time I have taken two days in a row off).

The half marathon seems more daunting now.  I still want to do it and am confident I can do it.  But maybe not in February.  No sense in forcing it, they have that one every year, and there are other half marathons as well.  And not doing the half marathon in February will free me up to participate on the marathon relay with some co-workers that I really wanted to do in the first place (of course, this is all in flux, as some of these co-workers also are toying with the idea of running the half, and we can only have one team member that can run the first leg and the half).

Anyway, it kind of hurt today and…..

Gee, Phil, I wasn’t whining that much, was I?  And don’t you think it is a bit much to condemn the whole nation for this?  I mean, all I was doing….

OK, OK, I’ll stop!!!  Please just leave me alone!!!!

Share

Full disclosure, and I may have mentioned this in the blog before but I am too lazy to look it up, I voted for Barack Obama.  I am, however, not a Democrat.  But I am also not a Republican.  I would say that I tend to lean conservative, but those that claim to be conservative these days are way too jingoistic and imperialistic for my tastes.  They also seem to oppose any increase in taxes and, though they claim to be for small government, seem to be all for government interference as long as it deals with the so-called “social” issues.  I tend to be for small government as well, but while your typical “conservative” seems to feel like that business needs to be totally left alone while our private lives need to be dictated, I tend to think that the opposite is probably more true.

Anyway, it was really with the whole jingoism, imperialism path this country had been on with the Bush administration in mind that I decided I needed to go with Obama.  I have been against the war in Iraq from the very start.  I do not buy into the neo-conservative idea that we can force countries into a democracy, and that through the creation of one democracy that others will spread as if a form of government is like a disease.  (And let’s face it, whether or not the true neo-con believes this or not, the other part of this is that we want access to the oil, both the drilling and the ability to transport.)  I also think whatever initial good may have came from our actions in Afghanistan, we have long past the point of diminishing returns and need to end that one as well.  Heck, I am so much against these wars that I voted for John Kerry (I wished I was the one who created http://www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com because that is exactly how I felt.  Yes, that was a real website.)  My two favorite candidates going into the last election were Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, who are probably otherwise about as opposite as you can get, but they both oppose the wars.

So here we are, Obama wins and I think a big reason is because a lot of people wanted to go in a different direction from the Bush administration.  But in the 9 months or so that Obama has been office, what has really changed in regards to our Middle Eastern/terrorism policy?  I mean, I know we have changed our rhetoric.  No more talk of ‘axis of evil’ and ‘war on terrorism’.  But what has changed as far as action?  Let’s see:

  • Bush had on-going occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Obama continues to have on-going occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Apparently Obama is even going to go with the idea of increasing our troop presence in Afghanistan, which seems akin to sending good money after bad.  And while we are supposedly going to pull out of Iraq, if you check the fine print of the plan, “pulling out” apparently doesn’t mean what most people would think.  We still plan to leave thousands of troops stationed in Iraq even after we “pull out”.
  • Under the Bush regime, we opened a prison camp in Guantanamo Bay to hold people suspected of being involved in terrorism, whether we actually had evidence or not.  This prison continues to be opened under the Obama regime.  Obama has promised that the prison will be closed, but is struggling to figure out what to do with the prisoners.  To me, the answer is easy.  For those we plan to prosecute, we transfer to American prisons.  For those we don’t, we let them go.  But for some reason, it apparently is more complicated than that.  At last report, the closure of this prison by January is in doubt.
  • The Patriot Act passed while Bush was in office.  But has anybody noticed that Obama has done little to nothing to revoke this act?  In fact, as some of the provisions of these acts are set to expire, Obama supports their renewal.  I guess it is an abuse of power only when your guy doesn’t have the power.  Oh, and that warrantless wiretapping thing?  Yeah, that’s still going on too.

So this is change that we can believe in?  Not hardly.  But it seems that a lot of Obama supporters do not acknowledge the fact that really Obama has mostly continued the policies set forth by Bush.  It would be nice if somebody like MSNBC would hold the Obama adminstation’s feet to the fire like they did with Bush.  But they are Obama fanboys, and are more interested in fighting old battles.  You would think that somebody like Fox News might pick up the mantle, but they are way more interested in stupid things like if Obama should bow to a foreign leader or speak to children.  Then again, if Fox News is going to criticize Obama on something in this regard, it is going to be that Obama is not taking enough military action, so there’s going to be no help there.

I should know better by now.  I really should have known that not much would change.  I actually don’t think our polices are much different under Obama than they would have been under John McCain.  This is why I can understand why people choose not to participate in our political process.  Two parties have a stranglehold over the system, and there simply is not that much difference in fact between the two.  So if you don’t agree with either one of them, you are not really left with a choice.  I don’t know.  It is the only system we have so I think I have to continue to participate.  But I am not sure if I am doing much good.  I guess at least Sarah Palin is not one heartbeat away from being President.  Hmm, President Palin…(brrr….shuddering at the thought!).    Yes, the vote was not a total waste!

Share

I guess it is a fitting end to a bad week for the Tennessee Volunteers.  If you didn’t see, Ole Miss’s Dexter McCluster absolutely went off on the Vols, and they had absolutely no answer.  How do let one guy get 324 total yards?  While McCluster didn’t actually score all 42 points, he definitely owned the day.  And with one game, a lot of my optimism has been drained.  I think this team will still get to a bowl, as I believe Vandy could lose to anybody.  But a lose to Kentucky is not out of the question, so it may be sort of a backdoor bowl trip.  The best I can do for a positive spin is that I suppose the Vols might be coming here to Birmingham…sigh.

The Good:

  • To continue to give the guy his due, Jonathan Crompton continues to play well.  He just didn’t get any support today.  I never thought I would see the day that Crompton was the only good thing about the team.

The Bad:

  • Everything else.  The offensive line did nothing, so there was no running game.  And the defense just plain didn’t show up today.  I have no idea what that was about.  To top it all off, UT had yet another FG attempt blocked.  (Note to Lane Kiffin:  Whatever injury Lincoln has, it is becoming clear that he is not going to get over it this season.  It’s also clear that he just can’t get enough height on any FG attempts over 40 yards.  Quit trying!)

The Ugly:

  • The above would have been the ugly if it were not for the off-the-field stuff that happened this week.  Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock, you know that 3 Tennessee football players, all freshmen, were arrested during the week for attempted armed robbery.  To further demonstrate the genius of these young men, one of them was even wearing their UT football warm-ups.  I don’t know how much of a distraction this was for game preparation, but it couldn’t have helped.  Now I have already seen some spin that suggests that the best of the three, Janzen Jackson, is somehow going to get off.  But as far as I am concerned, if he was with the other two that night, common sense dictates that he knew what was going on and was likely involved in some manner.  If it were up to me, I would dismiss all three regardless.  We will see what Kiffin decides to do.

This week seemed to undo what was appearing to be a nice turnaround to the season.  It also seemed to undo what was a nice recruiting class for Lane.  How things can change in just one week.  Tennessee plays Vanderbilt next week, which I believe UT will win.  (If the Vols do somehow lose this one, I will wonder how much the team has actually progressed.  Plus making a bowl at all will be in doubt.)


Share