September 28, 2009
The National Parks, Health Care & Big Government
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With the publicity around the new Ken Burns documentary, America's Best Idea, Time magazine has an interesting article on the National Parks and tries to use the Parks as a model of the positive power of Big Government:
With America frothing over the role of government — should it save banks? should it expand health coverage? — The National Parks makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't.
The statement and the article conveniently overlook the fact that the National Parks and health care coverage have virtually nothing in common. First, and most obvious, is that the private sector can, will and does effectively deliver health care. It's not a perfect system. Opponents of a public option aren't saying the current system is perfect though, they're saying that they don't believe the government can deliver a better option. Lord knows that the government has engaged in foolish, costly and inefficient policies when it comes to the National Parks. Does anyone really think Big Government will turn into a tremendous machine when it comes to health care?
Second, opponents of Big Government aren't opposed to government. We're not frickin' anarchists. The preamble to the Constitution says:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I think it's easy to place the establishment of National Parks under either "general Welfare" or the "Blessings of Liberty".
In any case, the argument over health care isn't about whether "we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't." The argument is whether government can do a better job than the private sector. In the case of the National Parks, the government certainly did a better job than the market in establishing the Parks and preserving them for the people. However, their management of the Parks is certainly questionable at best - and not something that inspires me to want to give even more over to Big Government.
Life After Favre
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Like any other sports fan, I've lived through the highs (the Packers Super Bowl win, the Badgers Rose Bowl victories, the last week of last year's Brewers season and Easy Goer's perfect 8-length triumph in the 1989 Belmont Stakes) and the lows (well, I'm a horse racing fan, so there's nothing lower than watching your favorite literally die), but this season with Brett Favre is a whole new experience. I try to describe it to non-Packers fans like this:
You're married to someone for 17 years. You've been through a lot together, both good and bad. You've come to appreciate each others' quirks and accept their faults. But, over time, the love starts to fade and you both know it's over. Although nothing has happened, there's this new guy that you're interested in. You want to explore that relationship. At the same time, your husband tells you he doesn't want any relationship. He just wants to go back to being the guy he was before you met. You're both sad, but you know it's the right thing to do, so you say your tearful goodbyes.
A few months go by and things are great with the new guy and your ex seems happy in his new life too. Then the call comes. He wants you back. You don't know what to do. On one hand, you still love him. On the other hand, you remember how things were at the end and you've heard rumors that he's trying to hook up with your worst enemy and you suspect he wants to make you reject him so he can feel free to get together with her. All of your mutual friends are scandalized and confused and you get all kinds of conflicting advice. Finally, you let him go and he finds some skanky Jersey girl and hooks up with her, all the while talking trash about you and trying to undermine your relationships. You're a little bit hurt, but their relationship seems pathetic and you know it's not going to last. And besides, you really do like your new guy.
A year passes and you've been through some rough patches with your new guy, but you feel like they've just made your relationship stronger. Your ex, on the other hand, left his Jersey girl with the same song and dance about wanting to be single again. No one believes him. And sure enough, after a few months you start hearing rumors about him and your enemy again. This time it seems serious. Before you know it, they're together. She's always been a loser, but you're a little worried that your ex is the missing piece she needs to put her life together. Everyone talks about how great they are together. You throw up in your mouth a little bit every time you hear that because you're pretty sure your ex doesn't love her - he's just with her to get back at you. You want to ignore them, but you see them together everywhere and you wonder what you did to make him hate you so much.
And now, there's this event coming up and you're going to be in the same room together for the first time in two years. You feel sick and anxious and like you have something to prove. It's not fun anymore.
So yeah, that's what's it like. Although, I have a feeling that it could all be better if the Packers defense can repeatedly pound Favre into the ground. But it felt a little weird to try to add that into the extended relationship allegory. :)
September 21, 2009
Texas & Scheduling
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I was in Austin, Texas for a long weekend. I didn't realize it until we got there, but it was a game weekend and so in addition to musicians and bats, the town was full of burnt orange-clad football fans.
We didn't want or have tickets to the game, but we were curious how the tailgating scene compared to Wisconsin. Some observations:
- It's seriously spread out. We were perusing vintage shops on South Congress, miles away from the stadium, and there were RVs parked and lots of burnt orange
- 6th Street is dead. I was kind of surprised how mellow 6th Street was before the game. There were a few people walking around, but none of the bars (the few that were even open) had more than a half dozen people in them.
- No one razzed Texas Tech fans. Maybe they were afraid they were packing heat or maybe Texas fans are just nice.
- Texas lady fans have a wide variety of cute burnt orange dresses to choose from. I was pretty envious of all of the adorable sundresses until I realized that even if I could find a Badger version, half of the year I'd have to figure out how to wear it with a long-sleeved t-shirt, tights and a hoodie.
- Apparently it's okay to walk around with beer as long as you have a koozie. I don't know if that's literally the law, but it's the spirit of the law as far as I could interpret it.
- People tailgate in parking ramps. That's right. They decorate corners of the ramp with little flags, satellite dishes (really) and the like. It's brilliant. Why can't we do that?
- Unlike Madison, we didn't really find any bar beer gardens. If you wanted to get your drink on, it seemed like you either had to bring your own or know someone (or look thirsty)
- To that end, we were really impressed with the tailgate tent cities that were set up near the stadium. It was like a Jimmy Buffett concert, minus the coconut bras and pot. Apparently people start setting up their spots on Thursday. That's dedication.
So anyway, being a part of the Texas tailgate makes me want to see Wisconsin schedule a home and home series with the Longhorns. I think both fanbases would enjoy the road trip and there's a slew of associated activities (guest lectures, etc.) that could go along with such a clash of titans. I'd think Texas would be game since they just played Ohio State and will have a series with Minnesota coming up in a few years. The Badgers are the wimps in this scenario. Seriously, look at their 2011 Schedule:
at Northern Illinois at Soldier Field
at Penn State
Wow. Oregon State might be decent, but the rest of that schedule is crap. Especially when you more closely examine the "road" games. Realistically, the Soldier Field, Minnesota and Northwestern games might as well be Wisconsin home games. Unless Bret Bielema has completely decimated the fan base by then, those stadiums will be seas of red. So, the Badgers have a year where they don't play Ohio State and only play two legitimate road games. Wow.
As a fan, I'm sick of these cupcake schedules and I think it's time for the NCAA to step in. If teams, on average, play four non-conference games then the NCAA should take over scheduling two of them. Teams can keep traditional non-conference opponents (for example, Florida & Florida State and Michigan & Notre Dame would still play) but two of their games would be randomly determined home and home series where the revenue would be shared equally by the teams. At least then we'd have a chance at consistently interesting games and athletic departments could no longer get away with chicken policies that pad their bonuses at the expense of their fans and their team's national reputation.
September 16, 2009
Super Bowl Picks
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We're one week into the NFL season. Now that we've knocked the "pre" off the season, who's your pick?
September 09, 2009
2009's Top 10 College Women
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So I was reading the latest issue of Glamour in the CVS while waiting to get my oil changed. While most of the magazine was devoted to the usual topics, fashion and What Your Man Really Wants In Bed (hint, it's always the same thing), there was also a feature about Glamour's 2009 Top 10 College Women. And that's great. What annoyed me, however, was the title of the article as presented in the magazine. These young and accomplished women were presented as the next "Hillary and Michelle". Ugh. Wait just a cotton-pickin' second here. While Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama might be accomplished women, the only reason we know who they are is because of who they married. Shouldn't Glamour, allegedly a magazine for women, celebrate women and compare these women to other women who actually achieved reknown on their own instead of on coattails? What year is it?
September 02, 2009
17 quotes on leadership
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We're just days away from football season. As such, I feel even more compelled to stop and watch "Remember The Titans" whenever it's on TV. This is going to sound crazy, but it's probably my favorite Denzel Washington performance. Seriously, there's a tiny little moment in the film just after Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass joins the team where Denzel looks at Sunshine's newly shorn golden locks and bellows in the absolute perfect coach voice: "Ronnie Bass, I like that haircut." Like I said, it's just a single line, but it kills me every time. It's up there with Darth Vader's "NOOOO!!!" from Revenge of the Sith. Okay, maybe it's not that funny, but it's funny.
Anyway, "Remember The Titans" is ultimately about leadership - the leadership of Washington's character Coach Herman Boone and team captain Gerry Bertier. Watching it inspires me to think about what it means to be a leader and what qualities a good leader needs to possess.
I really like these 17 quotes about leadership because they're not all saying the same thing. There are differing opinions about what makes a leader - do they inspire, manage, help or just get out of the way? Everyone has an opinion...
- Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
- A leader must have the courage to act against an expert's advice.
- The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision.
- If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.
Admiral Grace Hopper
All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.
John Kenneth Galbraith
- Most of the ladies and gentlemen who mourn the passing of the nation's leaders wouldn't know a leader if they saw one. If they had the bad luck to come across a leader, they would find out that he might demand something from them, and this impertinence would put an abrupt and indignant end to their wish for his return.
Lewis H. Lapham
- The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.
- Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done.
- The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
- No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.
- When all think alike, then no one is thinking.
- The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
- Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans.
- Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
Stephen R. Covey
- Leadership is the ability to establish standards and manage a creative climate where people are self-motivated toward the mastery of long term constructive goals, in a participatory environment of mutual respect, compatible with personal values.
- If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.
I really love that Ayn Rand quote. You can have a great leader, but that doesn't mean you you've abdicated responsibility for your own destiny.
So what great leadership quotes am I missing out on?