Dec. 31, 2009

A recent article from the New York Times tells us that Fred Shapiro, a librarian and lecturer at Yale Law School, has released his fourth annual list of quotations of the year. His No. 1 entry is also my personal favorite (emphasis is mine):

“Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” Speaker at health care reform town hall meeting in Simpsonville, S.C., commenting on the government-created Medicare program, quoted by The Washington Post on July 28.

What a hypocritical bonehead.

Shapiro mentions that the quote “struck [him] as embodying the friction and polarization on the role of government.” Very true, but it also demonstrates how incredibly stupid some people can be, especially when they’re blinded by fierce political loyalty.

[ No. 558 ]

Dec. 21, 2009

Just in time for Christmas, the U.S. government has achieved something very positive that will affect millions of citizens — and no, I’m not referring to national healthcare reform.

Earlier today, the Department of Transportation announced a new rule that prohibits airlines from keeping passengers stuck on an airport tarmac for more than three hours. This ruling comes in response to numerous harrowing stories of passengers who were required to stay on airplanes for several hours without adequate food, water, or restrooms. (As some supporters have argued, prisoners of war seem to have more rights than domestic airline passengers.)

Nice to see the government addressing a very real problem with a humane, practical rule that can be enforced. It’s a shame that the airline industry couldn’t figure out a way to treat customers fairly on its own, but thankfully, the DOT has made up for the airlines’ lack of initiative.

[ No. 557 ]

Dec. 19, 2009

Toward the end of a snowed-in Saturday (the Philly area was socked with the biggest winter storm since President’s Day 2003), I discovered that the NCAA women’s volleyball championship match was on TV. After I switched over to ESPN2, I was surprised to see the score: No. 2 Texas was leading two-time defending champion No. 1 Penn State, two sets to none, in a best-of-five match. Not exactly a good sign.

Perhaps I brought my alma mater some good luck. With their backs against the wall, Penn State came all the way back and won three straight sets to take the match, 22–25, 20–25, 25–23, 25–21, 15–13. As a result, the Nittany Lions completed their second straight 38–0 season and became the first women’s volleyball team ever to win three straight national championships.

As though their 2008 national title wasn’t enough, the Lions have now recorded 102 consecutive victories — the longest winning streak in any women’s sport in NCAA history. Congratulations, PSU!

[ No. 556 ]

Dec. 16, 2009

I’ve discovered the perfect agenda to celebrate the holidays:

This gauntlet of overindulgence took place last Friday. Lots of fun, obviously, but I felt full for the subsequent 24 hours. And if I keep up that kind of pace, I’m going to weigh 400 pounds by the end of the year.

[ No. 555 ]

Dec. 8, 2009

I’ve shaken my tiny fist at the Bowl Championship Series since it first arrived on the college football scene over a decade ago. My bitter complaints have been directed at undeserving teams and spineless BCS officials alike, and I’m certainly not alone in my sentiments.

Simply stated, the BCS is a patchwork solution that relies on human beings’ inherently flawed opinions and computer rankings, and it’s a process that is grossly inferior to a true playoff system — which does exist in college football except at the most important and visible level, Division I-A (sorry, I still can’t bring myself to call it the Football Bowl Subdivision).

This year’s final standings demonstrate how unfair the BCS can be. No fewer than five teams finished the regular season undefeated, yet only the top two will have a chance to compete for the national title:

  1. Alabama (13–0)
  2. Texas (13–0)
  3. Cincinnati (12–0)
  4. TCU (12–0)
  5. Boise State (13–0)

The absence of a fifth-ranked team among the group listed above is not an oversight. Even though Florida suffered an embarrassing 32–13 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game, the Gators only dropped to No. 5 — inexplicably ahead of undefeated Boise State.

Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that the BCS could become the target of House legislation this month. I’m sure that the federal government has bigger fish to fry these days, and I usually question their involvement in sports-related matters. But then again, the NCAA is a huge money-making machine that seems unwilling to keep its own house in order.

I know it’s a pipe dream, but regardless of who can get the job done, all I want for Christmas is a college football playoff.

[ No. 554 ]