Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writing on the wall?

A few years ago, there was a remarkable show on NBC called "The West Wing". It was set in the white house and based around the presidency of a democrat. It was about national politics and all the machinations that go on in Washington DC. The show won 8 Emmy awards in its 7-year run so it wasn't that bad.

Anyway, this morning as I heard about the loss of Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts to a republican, I wondered how Jed Bartlet's staff would have handled the race. Knowing that the democrat's candidate in such a must-win election was running a lackluster campaign, I can just see Jed Bartlet dispatching Toby Ziegler and Josh Lyman to go to Massachusetts and straighten things out. I can see Josh moving in, taking over the campaign and telling the local people how stupid they've been. I know it was just a tv show but I can't imagine that Obama's people didn't see this coming from afar. If they didn't, that's just proof of their lack of understanding of the big picture. There's no way you lose in NJ and Massachusetts in the same election year and not know that it's referendum on your presidency. As it is, Obama is in grave danger of being known as a do-nothing president.

And if you think a president shouldn't concern himself with state politics, you are mistaken. With this loss, the democrats have lost their supermajority (i.e. filibuster-proof) in the senate. Good luck shoving that health care bill down the throat of the GOP without a supermajority.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why should homeschooled students participate in school activities?

If you decide to homeschool your child, should he/she be allowed to participate in school activities? I think the answer is no. Now I know there's a lot of reasons why a parent will decided he/she can do a better job than the school. But if you've made that decision, why should you be allowed to pick and choose which school activity you want your child to participate in? Specifically, I am talking about high school football players that are homeschooled and thus at a disadvantage when it comes to college recruiting. Well guess what? Tough luck. If the school isn't good enough for your child academically and your solution is to take him/her out of the school (instead of augmenting what the school does), why should there be a spot for you on the school football team, debate team or other extracurricular team? That's some other kid's spot you're taking up.

I especially like this parent's reason for homeschooling his children:
The Douglases, who are devout evangelical Christians, disapprove of some of the lessons taught in public schools. For example, Steve does not want his children to take science classes that teach evolution as fact. "The thing I was most concerned with was teaching from a Christian perspective," Steve said. "We teach science from a creation standpoint. The theory of evolution is just a theory, and not a very good one."

How can you teach science from a creation standpoint? While I agree that evolution is a theory, creationism doesn't even rise to the level of being a scientific theory. Don't get me wrong, I am a christian but I know creationism isn't science, it's faith. Which means it has no place in a science class. You may think evolution is not a very good theory but it's the prevailing one. So until it's debunked or another theory proven, it's the standard for science.

Anyway, the point is if you aren't part of the school, you aren't part of the school. You can't choose to be part of the football team but not show up in the classroom. Sure you pay taxes but since when did that become a mandate to subvert things? Our taxes foot the bill for the white house but unless your last name is Salahi, you can't exactly stroll in there anytime you like. Can you?

BTW, don't get me wrong. I am not against homeschooling. If you think you can do a better job, by all means go ahead. But just don't expect to get the benefits reserved for those in the school system. After all, the names on the front of the jerseys is usually the school's name.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Nigeria capable of democracy?

They say democracy is the best form of government. And truly it is. But is there some level of maturity needed for it to work? Or do countries like Nigeria just have to work their way through the "growing pains" of early democracy? It's easy to look at America's democracy and wonder "why can't Nigeria just work like that?" Why can't there be respect for the rule of law? Why can't people just do things are logical?

Anyway, in today's Nigeria, the president (Yar'Adua) has not made a public appearance in 49 days! That's 49 days without anyone hearing from or seeing the president of a country of over 150 million. Even after the US puts Nigeria on a terrorist-prone country watch list. Even after armed gunmen attacked Togo's players en route to a country that Nigeria has sent its best 23 soccer players and officials. Even after there's public outcry for him to show his face.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow Nigerian politics (in fact, I don't follow anything but soccer-related news about Nigeria) but this just sounds fishy to me. I am forced to conclude that: Yar'Adua is dead or Yar'Adua is in a coma. Otherwise he would have come out with some sort of "proof of life" (sucks that a population would need proof of life from an elected president). Even crazy Fidel Castro knew to produce proof of life (a still photo) when there were rumors in America that he was dead. As it is no one knows where the president is; some are claiming to be in communication with him and others are disputing those claims. Our president is now like the sightings of Big Foot.

So here's my (probably well off the mark) analysis of the situation: if Yar'Adua is dead Nigeria is screwed. Why? The presidency is being rotated between the 3 parts of the country: North (Hausa), East (Ibo), West (Yoruba). The last president was from the West, the current on (Yar'Adua) is from the North...thus the next will be from the East. Sounds far fetched but welcome to Nigerian politics. So if Yar'Adua is dead and the North doesn't get to finish their term, where does the next president comes from? The East? The North? To make matters worse, the current VP is not from the north (I believe he's from the East). So if power is handed over to him as a result of the death of the president, does that mean the East have served their term...Going to be interesting.
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Odds and Ends

I haven't really been paying much attention to politics. So I can't really write a full post about that. Except to say that I am really disappointed in the democrats and their leader, Obama. Apart from giving a bunch of banks free money with no strings attached; spending oodles of money on vague recovery projects in imaginary districts; pushing through a non-reformative Health Care Reform and giving sub-par gifts to visiting heads of state, what exactly has Obama accomplished in 12 months in the white house? What have the democrats done with their majority if they still had to kowtow to Lieberman on the so-called health care reform bill? Where's the reform if all you've done is force everyone to buy insurance (hooray for insurance companies) or pay fines? If people's health care choices are still tied so strongly to their employers? Where's the reform without any sort of public option? Anyway, enough about politics.

In technology, Google, in a move to kneecap their Android partners, will be releasing the new "google phone" (i.e. Nexus One) tomorrow. Seriously, does anyone still think Google isn't bent on global domination? First they created Android supposedly to address the iPhone monopoly (i.e. Apple creates the OS, the hardware and approves all apps for the phone). Then they got major players to buy into Android and commit to it (HTC, Motorola etc). Then comes act 3: get into the phone market yourself. How diabolical is that? How pissed Motorola must be that Google is releasing their phone (with the latest Android version no less) just a few months after Droid. I am sure all these manufacturers will be thrilled to compete with Google to create the best hardware for the operating system that Google owns (Android).

In sports, the Redskins completed another woeful season. Cerrato is gone; Zorn was fired this morning; and Shanahan is the next great big thing coming to fix the Redskins. Nevermind that Shanahan hasn't won a single playoff game without John Elway. Oh well, another big off season looms.

On the flip side, watching college football is fun. Especially during the bowl season (late December till early January). Where else do you get to see such varied offenses as the wishbone, the pistol, the spread, the triple-read-option (more on this below)? Certainly not the NFL where the coaches are afraid of original thought (for example: God forbid a coach call anything but a draw play on 3rd-and-long).

Talking about the triple-read-option offense...did you see any of Navy's game this year? I saw a couple of their games and came away very very impressed. Not only do they tire our your defense by running the triple option so well, they also frustrate your offense because you simply can't get on the field when Navy keeps running 15-18 play drives. They beat Notre Dame 23-21 with Navy's QB attempting just 3 passes! I watched them in the 2009 Texas Bowl (against Missouri) and they did the same thing: run them to death with the triple option. And every time the camera panned to the Missouri sidelines, you could just see the frustration on the faces of their coaches, players and fans.