23 March 2010


Well, it passed. And here's my current take on the whole thing:

Anyone who says they know for 100% sure that the healthcare bill will help or hurt the country overall is way off. The complexities of a system that deals with 300 million people AND their economy are beyond the understanding of anyone. I don't like the bill, but I'm reserving judgment now that it's passed. We'll have to wait and see... but even in five or ten years it still won't be a clear picture. Economists still debate the effectiveness of Reagan's economic practices, and he was president like a million years ago. ;)

Some things I have come to believe over the course of this eternal debate (and I say eternal because it's far from over):

1. The current Republican party is terrible.

2. The current Democratic party is terrible.

3. People who invoke Jesus' name in support of the idea of nationalized healthcare are completely off base.

4. There are utter morons who are opposed to this bill for reasons I do not think are valid.

4b. Just as there have been utter morons opposed to every other major decision made in this country since it was founded. Partisan politics are nothing new, and those who act flabbergasted at the poor behavior by some healthcare protesters need to bone up on their (very recent) history.

5. Those who benefit from the concept of taxpayer money going to healthcare for (more) Americans support the bill.

5b. Those who do not benefit from the concept of taxpayer money going to healthcare for (more) Americans generally oppose the bill.

5c. To sum up, if you're the one getting money from the government, you probably like bills that mean you get money from the government. If you're the one seeing increased taxes in order to provide the money that goes to others, you probably hate these bills.

6. And finally, this country is moving in a progressive direction. I believe this is an inevitable fact that applies to every democratic nation and/or state that has ever been created. To simplify, people like free stuff. And as democracies are (more or less) run by the will of the people, more and more services will be provided by the government over time.

This ties in with the following quote:

A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury

This idea (in varying forms) has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Alexis de Tocqueville and Alexander Fraser Tytler. In other words, people will choose security from the state over any economic concerns that may exist every time, to the state's detriment and eventual demise.

At some point, the spending for social ideals outstrips all economic reason. Many European countries have installed universal healthcare programs at the cost of national defense, which they have essentially abdicated to the United States. If we were to do the same, where will the world be if China or Russia decides to begin a war?

I don't pretend to have all the answers here. I just hope our nation's rulers can make these decisions with wisdom and sound judgment.

But going back to points 1 and 2... let's just say I don't have much faith in that happening.

18 March 2010

March Madness

The NCAA men's basketball tournament begins today, and as far as I can tell, BYU vs. Florida is the first game of the whole thing.

Considering BYU hasn't won a single tourney game since 1993, and since 2000 has lost all five of these games, I'm not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, there's less time to worry about the pressure of past losses. On the other hand, everyone and their dog will be watching this game because it's the first game, and if BYU goes down in flames (again), it will further hurt the school's basketball profile.

I don't have a lot by way of analysis, but here are three points to consider about today's matchup:

1. BYU has very little by way of the post game. This was a concern for me as early as last November, when I realized 99.9% of the scoring from this team would have to come from the outside. In basketball, sometimes there are those games where the shots simply will not drop, and having a good post to dump the ball into during those times is extremely valuable.

And these Cougars don't have that luxury. Chris Miles is mostly useless, and Brandon Davies is too young to have much effect today.

2. UNLV and New Mexico have each beat BYU twice this season. Both times they used their quick, physical guards to body up on Fredette and Emery and harass them incessantly. If Florida can do this, and I think they can, the Cougars are in for a long game.

3. Someone on the opposing team always manages to have the best game of his life against BYU in the tournament. Gerry McNamara scored 43 points against the Cougars in 2004, including 9 three-pointers, a Syracuse record. The entire Cincinnati team went completely bonkers in 2001, and they ended up shooting lights out from deep. I'm expecting some completely unknown Gator to be unconscious in this game.

4. Fredette is sick. He's been sick for the last half of the season, and his effectiveness has been lessened as a result. That said, every college basketball analyst loves this kid, and they should. If he can be the guy to go for 50 points, that bodes well for BYU.

That's about it. Better BYU teams have lost to worse opponents in the tournament, and my faith is low that this incarnation of the Cougars can break the streak.

17 March 2010

Kobe really should shoot less

From the Basketbawful Blog's recap of last night's Lakers/Kings game.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined to shoot 21-for-28 shots. Mamba was 10-for-26 (2-for-6 on treys). No wonder Gasol isn't happy. But hey, what's Pau complaining about? Just because Kobe's eighth on the Lakers in Effective Field Goal Percentage -- behind even Jordan Farmar, Ron Artest, Sasha Vujacic and Shannon Brown -- doesn't mean he shouldn't continue taking the most difficult shots possible. And it's very mature of Kobe not to "blast Gasol into oblivion" for behing disgruntled. Just ask Adrian Wojnarowski.

And here's Truehoop, piling on.

These Lakers want me to hate them.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had complete and utter mismatches every time down court, they were playing well together and finishing expertly all game, and yet this does nothing to tame Kobe Bryant (10-26 shooting) and Derek Fisher (2-7 shooting)'s triggers.

I know the Lakers have this regular season wrapped up, but they're going to need these guys in the playoffs. They're going to need them interested, on the court, ready to play defense, ready to help. But it's Basketball 101 to feed the big man when he has it going, and Bryant just never gets that. Kobe had seven assists, he had a terrific game superficially with 30 points and nine boards as well, and he's to be commended for finding both Bynum and Gasol open under the basket for dunks at times, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about giving the ball up early, making yourself a threat away from the rock, and watch as two of this league's most talented (if not this league's most talented) 7-footers go to work. 29 other teams would kill for just one of these two, and the Lakers boast both. How can they continue to ignore them?

Oh, I know. One makes mistakes, and one's soft.

Guess what? Inconsistent and soft still score, board, pass, and block shots for you. Consistently. Unlike jump shots, which even for the greatest of shooters, are inconsistent.

I just need, in a fourth quarter that sees Pau Gasol score 11 (4-4 shooting, four rebounds, an assist), more than 1-4 shooting, three assists, and two turnovers for Kobe. I know he knows the game. I need to see him act like he knows, that we know, that he knows.

28, 12 rebounds, four assists and a block for Gasol. 21, 12 rebounds, three blocks for Bynum. 21-28 shooting, or, 11 more field goal makes in two more attempts than Bryant.

Even with the injuries, these Lakers could have been a 70-win team this year had they just committed to the offense, from the coaching staff on down. Ron, get out of the post. Kobe, stop shooting long jumpers. Bam. 70 wins.

Yeah. Just more ammunition in my "this is why Kobe is not the greatest" gun.

12 March 2010

03 March 2010

A new energy solution?

This is pretty interesting. I still think nuclear is the best option, in terms of energy available... aren't natural gas and beach sand limited resources? Will we run out of these things if every home on earth has a box or two?

Definitely promising, though.

In honor of tonight's game

Go Cougars!

02 March 2010

The Lakers read this blog

Okay, the first time it happened it was a little weird, but now it's flat-out creepy.

I say the Lakers are better without Kobe, they go out and lose to the Celtics at home that very day.

In the same post, I also say Kobe is a one-dimensional player, and when his shooting is off he gives you very little. Apparently the Black Mamba made it his personal mission in life to prove me wrong.

The Lakers beat the Nuggets in LA on Sunday 95-89. One thing you will notice is that Kobe shot 3-of-17 from the floor, and the Lakers still won. Generally if your best player shoots that poorly, you're going to lose, but not this time.

This time, Kobe realized his shot wasn't falling, and turned into a distributor, instead. In the second half, the Lakers started isolating Kobe on the right block and giving him the ball. Denver brought the double team, and Kobe found open teammates for easy shots, finishing the game with 12 assists.

This Youtube video shows what happened better than I can explain it.

If this was Kobe, if this is what he spent most of his career doing, I'd be a big fan.

As it is, we're all amazed by it because it shows a level of maturity and understanding that Kobe has more often than not failed to show in situations like these. The Kobe of five years ago, faced with a poor shooting night, keeps jacking shots up, even in the face of the double team, and the Lakers lose this game, ultimately losing ground to a surging Denver in the Western Conference standings.

And this is why I am a huge LeBron James fan. This guy is a uniquely talented scorer (30 points per game this season), almost to the level Kobe is. But what makes him great is his court vision, his ability to see the open teammate, and then the unselfishness to make the pass. He's averaging 8.5 assists per game this season, and over 10 assists per game for the last month of play, and has won every Player of the Month awards for the NBA for the entire season so far.

LeBron has games like this every day, and that's why I'd take him over Kobe.

That said, I give big-time props to Kobe for doing what had to be done Sunday. If he can keep playing this way, the Lakers will be even scarier than they are, and I have no problem anointing them the 2010 NBA champs, even this early.

01 March 2010

Why I don't like the Winter Olympics

So I guess the Winter Olympics are probably over - at least that's what I see on my friends' Facebook stati. See, I don't care much for these Games, not even when many others who normally don't care about hockey or skiing or curling get caught up in a patriotic fervor and find themselves hoping Bode Miller gets a gold medal in something.

I didn't really have a good reason to dislike the Winter Olympics, until two or three days ago, when it hit me.

The Winter Olympics are all about being the best in the world at a sport no one plays.

Think about it: how many people, worldwide, would you say curl? Even in Canada, where the sport is definitely the most popular, only 80,000 citizens play. Can we place the number anywhere near 1 million, worldwide? And even if we can, that's still only 0.000142857143 of the Earth's population.

So essentially, the curling gold medal winners are the best in entire world at a sport around one ten-thousandth of the world plays.

Forgive me for not being impressed.

Same problem in women's hockey. Apparently there are three nations capable of fielding a decent women's hockey team: Canada, the United States and Finland. The rest of the countries that competed in Vancouver were essentially happy to be there. So congratulations, Canadian women's hockey team! You're the best of three teams, worldwide, at what you do!

This can be applied to pretty much every event at the Winter Olympics. Bobsled? Check. Short track ice skating? Check. Ski jumping? Check. The biathlon? Check.

Now on the other hand, the Summer Olympics have a ton of events that everyone on earth can do. Sprinting? Everyone not in a wheelchair has done that at some time or another. Jumping? Same. Swimming? I'm willing to bet 80% of the world knows how to swim. And the number of soccer players the world over is staggering.

To get a gold at the Summer Olympics impresses me.

Not so much on the Winter side of things.

So now you know why this blog has had a distinct lack of Vancouver Olympics coverage.

Well, that, and general laziness.