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  • June 19, 2007

    Come Out And Play

    [Posted by ]

    According to an article in the Washington Post we're raising a generation of indoor kids. Is this really a surprise? Do kids today go outside for something other than parental or school-sanctioned organized activities?

    Not to sound like an old codger ranting about the good 'ole days, but in my day our parents kicked us out of the house and made us just go play outside. "Playing" didn't mean joining a soccer league or taking a kayaking class or belonging to some crunchy nature group (although those all sound like cool things too). Playing was wandering through the woods, knocking around a baseball at "Sixto Lezcano Field" (otherwise known as the neighbor's backyard) or riding bikes everywhere. The only really organized games I remember playing were Kick the Can or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Do kids play those games anymore? Do kids even hang out with their neighbors anymore or knock on the door and ask if "Timmy can come out and play", or does Mom have to make a playdate? As an aside, whoever thought of the word "playdate" should really be punished. Severely.

    I know that parents are worried about Stranger Danger, but kids are probably just as vulnerable online as they are hanging out in someone's backyard. Contrary to popular belief, there's not a Chester the Molester lurking behind every bush. And yeah, kids will get in trouble outside, but if you're lucky you won't find out about it until years later ;-)

    I was at my nephew's graduation party the other weekend and my oldest brother was recounting some of his youthful exploits. Apparently, he was quite a rebel and deserved to get his ass kicked by more than a few adults. I think it was the first time my Mom had ever heard some of the stories. But even knowing what she knows now, I think she still would have made us go outside. And God bless her for it.

    Posted by at 11:29 AM | Comments (6)     
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    June 18, 2007

    Because America Can't Get Enough of Brackets...

    [Posted by ]

    I was reading the comments to the Wil Wheaton article on the election that James posted last week. One of Wil's readers suggested that we:

    institute a March Madness process -- brackets and all. Start with 64 candidates and start eliminating them until we reach the Final Four and nominate those for the major parties for the top 2 spots.

    I've been thinking about this idea for the past week and wondering how we could make it work. First, I wouldn't stop at the Final Four. If you're going to have brackets, then you should go all the way.

    To me, the biggest question is how you would seed all of the candidates. Would you run an initial poll and seed them 1-64 based on the results? Would you try to create four "regions" that represent different political philosophies?

    What I would do is seed the top 16 candidates based on early polling results and then randomly fill in the rest of the field. I'd place the top 16 in the field in such a way so that similar candidates would end up in the same region. That way the Final Four would have some diversity of ideas, but it wouldn't allow for a crazy fringe candidate to make it to the end just because they're only competing with other crazy fringe candidates.

    The best part of this idea is how well it would work with my mandatory debate proposal - every matchup is proceeded by a one-on-one debate!

    So what do you think? Will America vote, or just participate in office pools? Who will be the bracket buster? How will Dick Vitale get involved?

    Posted by at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)     
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    June 12, 2007

    A Crazy Debate Idea

    [Posted by ]

    Ron Paul's debate performances brought a lot of attention to a candidate that would have otherwise been ignored as a fringe player in the 2008 presidential election. Whether or not you like Paul, this is a good thing. This is the part of the election cycle when all points of view should be heard. We don't need the media or the party big wigs acting as idea gatekeepers.

    What I think we do need are more and more debates between now and November 2008. Much like the internet, debates help level the playing field between candidates with deep pockets and those with more dreams than dollars. What I'd like to do is change our election laws so that presidential candidates have to participate in a series of frequent and regular debates. Participation in debates would be restricted to candidates who have obtained a certain number of signatures supporting their candidacy. Different states and organizations could figure out how exactly to run their debate. The point is to give voters a chance to see every candidate and hear what they have to say.

    To be sure, this would be a significant burden on candidates. I'm thinking that there could be a debate a week for a year. But after all, they are running for President. It's an important job. I think they can show up once a week to talk about it.

    What it comes down to is this: I'd rather have election reform that puts restrictions on candidates than "reform" that puts restrictions on voters. So what do you think about doing away with McCain/Feingold and embracing this plan? Crazy??

    Posted by at 10:11 PM | Comments (5)     
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    June 08, 2007

    Belmont Stakes Pick

    [Posted by ]

    If Street Sense's nose was just a little bit longer, tomorrow's Belmont Stakes would be the biggest event of a busy sports weekend. As it is, even with no Street Sense and no Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont is shaping up to be a fantastic race. Preakness winner Curlin and Derby runner-up Hard Spun will be joined by multiple stakes winner Slew's Tizzy, Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago, the promising C.P. West & Imawildandcrazyguy and, most electrifying, by the top 3-year old filly in the nation, Rags To Riches. Only two fillies have won the Belmont Stakes, the last over 100 years ago, so needless to say, "Rags" has her work cut out for her.

    I see the race shaping up like this: Hard Spun & Slew's Tizzy will set an honest, but not sizzling, pace. C.P. West & Imawildandcrazyguy will sit in the garden spot behind them while Curlin, Tiago & Rags To Riches bring up the rear. Hard Spun faded in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes after setting moderate paces. I see no reason that he won't do the same tomorrow. Slew's Tizzy & Imawildandcrazyguy are both really nice horses who are going to give their owners a lot of wins and a lot of fun over the next couple of years, but I don't think their classic horses. Tiago isn't going to get the fast pace he needs to run into to win. That brings the race down to C.P. West, Curlin & Rags To Riches.

    C.P. West is a beautiful animal with an extremely bright future. He ran a great race in the Preakness for such an inexperienced horse, but I worry that the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont is beyond his scope. His young sire, Came Home, was a fast and game colt, but stamina wasn't his strong point. On the other hand, C.P. West looks like he can handle the Belmont distance and his female family is filled with distance runners like Roberto & Hawaii. He looks like a chocolate version of the great Belmont-winning Easy Goer. Do you know how hard it is for me to pick against a colt that reminds me of the Goer? It's almost impossible. Almost.

    Curlin's Preakness was great, but I have the nagging feeling that Street Sense lost the race more than Curlin won it. If they run that Preakness 10 times, I think Street Sense wins at least seven of them. Curlin basically picked up the pieces and passed tiring horses in both the Derby and the Preakness. I haven't seen him make an explosive move against top horses like Street Sense routinely does. He could win, but he's no superhorse.

    So that brings us to Rags To Riches. Ah, Rags. No horse is better bred for the Belmont than this chestnut filly. Her sire, A.P. Indy won the Belmont. Her half-brother, Jazil, won the Belmont just last year. Her grandsire, Seattle Slew, won the Belmont and her great-grandsire, Secretariat, really won the Belmont. That's a whole lotta Belmonts. In Rags To Riches' last start, she dominated her sex in the Kentucky Oaks. Her speed figures are right in line with the colts. She has the stretch-running style to blow past the leaders in the stretch and she's apparently mean enough to fight off any challenges.

    I can't believe I'm going to pick the filly, but I am. Rags To Riches for the Belmont!

    Posted by at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)     
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    June 01, 2007

    The Perfect Summer Beer

    [Posted by ]

    Summer is full of many simple pleasures, but none are more sublime than drinking beer outside. Those of you from warmer climates probably think I'm crazy, but here in Wisconsin, outdoor drinking season is short and sweet.

    While cold winter days and long winter nights are perfect for a hot toddy or a pint of Guinness, summer's tailor made for a light & tasty brew.

    It's only June 1st, but I'm excited to announce that I've already found the perfect summer beer: Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. Last summer, Leinies introduced Sunset Wheat. It was good. The Summer Shandy, described as:

    lemonade flavored beer, a European favorite during the warmer months. Brewed using the finest wheat, malted barley and just a hint of real Wisconsin honey.

    is a grand slam home run. Sadly, it's only available through August. Happily, that still gives us three solid months of delicious drinking. Mmmm.

    Posted by at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)     
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