Monday, September 30, 2013

Ruining the Curve

It's an exciting time in the Krause household.  We have been selected to fill out the VERY IMPORTANT American Community Survey for the US Census Bureau!  How do I know this is VERY IMPORTANT?  It says in big, bold letters on the outside envelope YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW!!  I wonder how Census Dodgers are treated in Federal prisons?  Are they above child pornographers--but below corporate embezzlers?  Well, I don't plan to find out--because I completed my "legal obligation" on-line this morning.

I must say it is a real honor to be selected for a survey that, according to the mailer warning me that I was going to get something else in the mail that would tell me what website to log on to to complete the survey, "will help communities decide where new schools, hospitals and fire stations are needed".  I'm glad to see that they decided to get some information on a dwindling minority here in the US: People who can take care of themselves.

I expected the computer to reject several of my answers based on the focus government has placed on "epidemic problems in our society today".  For example, I was surprised that when I checked "yes" for do you have health insurance, the website didn't ask "wait a minute, are you sure you have health insurance?  Because a lot of people don't you know."  And when I answered that we do not have a mortgage on our house, I was positive there would be an error message "this does not compute.  You are 41 years old and are middle class, there is no way you can afford to pay off your house early.  Please answer the question again." 

If the Census Bureau really does "use this information" provided by what is likely just a small handful of people in our area (and then extrapolated to predict the general makeup of the entire community), then my single response could have a profound impact on federal funding heading our way in the future.  We don't have kids that require "new schools".  We don't take public transportation (because if we had to, I'd be 3 and a half hours late for work every morning).  We don't need a mortgage bailout.  We don't need food stamps.  We don't need subsidized day care.  We don't need a state health insurance exchange.  Heck, we probably won't even need Social Security or Medicare.

I guess I should apologize to Mark Rohloff, Stan Mack and Mark Harris for "ruining" their visions for the Oshkosh area right now.

Friday, September 27, 2013

In the Best Interest of the Game

With Bud Selig's announcement on Thursday that he is retiring as Commissioner after the 2014 Major League Baseball season, I would like to announce my candidacy for that position.  My grassroots campaign for the position is based on a number of fan-friendly initiatives and some radical ideas that I believe will make the game stronger--both competitively and financially. 

  • Dump the Designated Hitter--It has been forty years now that Major League Baseball has been played under two sets of rules.  I believe that if you play in the field you should have to hit as well--so the DH is done.  Hopefully this change will filter down to all levels of the game--including Little League and high school ball.
  • Get rid of replay--The game is played on the field by humans, it should be decided on the field by humans--not an anonymous official sitting in an office in New York looking at a TV screen.  If our umps can't get it right consistantly, we will find people who can.
  • Expand the strike zone--There is absolutely no reason why a pitch three inches above a batter's belt is a ball.  Especially when a ball thrown in the same exact spot two pitches later is crushed 450-feet for a home run.  The zone will now be from the middle of the chest to the bottom of the knees.  This should also help speed up play--as more strikes will be thrown (except by Brewers relievers) and hitters will go to the plate looking to swing early in the count.
  •  More doubleheaders--I will keep the 162-game regular season, but there is no reason that fans in Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland should be freezing their butts off in late March to watch games.  Regular weekend doubleheaders will shorten the calendar length of the season and allow us to start in the second week of April and finish in mid-September so the World Series won't be played in November anymore.
  • Correct the historic record of the game--Hank Aaron will be restored as the rightful Home Run King.  Barry Bonds' career numbers will be listed in a special sub-section "Records set under the suspicion of illegal drug use" (which would be an entire coffee table book unto itself).  In addition, Shoeless Joe Jackson will be made eligible for the Hall of Fame--as his ban for the Black Sox Scandal was for "a lifetime" and he has been dead for 52-years now.
  • Daytime World Series games--At least two of the seven games will be played in the afternoon--allowing kids and those who get up very early in the morning in the eastern half of the US to actually see the end of the game.  With the proliferation of streaming video on computers, tablets and smartphones, I don't think we have to worry about people at work not being able to watch.
  • ESPN and Fox are limited to one Yankees/Red Sox game per season each--Believe it or not, there are 28-other teams in Major League Baseball.  Some of them could be shown on national TV every once in a while.  In addition, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are banned from doing games ever again.
  • Contract the two Florida franchises--Attendance at Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays games are embarrassing.  And most of the fans who do go are from the Northeast US and are coming to root for the visiting teams.  Florida baseball fans can get their fix every spring when 18-franchises come down for training.  As a bonus, by getting rid of these two teams, there is no reason to play interleague games all season long as well.
  •  Realign the leagues by payroll--This will be put into place if a salary cap is not instituted.  Big market, big spending teams can continue to sign whatever free agents they want, but their competition for the playoffs will be teams dropping just as much money as they do.  Small market, lower spending teams will compete in their own league--with just as much shot of making the post-season as the New York and LA squads.  Teams in the middle will likely move back and forth each year--depending on how contracts expire or players are traded.
 Major League owners, you have a full year to review these proposals and realize that they are truly in the best interest of the game.  I'll wait patiently by the phone for your call........

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bridge Over Political Waters

One of my Favorite TV shows is Modern Marvels on the History Channel.  And within that series, my favorite episodes are the "Engineering Disasters"--which look into the cause of some of the greatest technological mishaps in human history.  It's amazing how nearly every one of them resulted from very minor mistakes in design or construction--fatal flaws that went unknown for years (and even decades) before a confluence of events led to disaster.

Take for example the Tacoma Narrows Bridge--which collapsed in 1940, just a few years after being built.  This used to be the most famous bridge collapse in American history, thanks to the film footage of the bridge deck rocking and rolling and a man trying to walk away from his stranded vehicle on the span.  It turned out that engineers never considered the forces that winds whipping through the river valley would have on the suspended bridge deck.  "Galloping Gertie" as the bridge was known was doomed from the minute construction on it started.

Or consider what is now the most infamous bridge collapse in US history--the fall of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis back in 2007.  13 people were killed--145 were hurt--when most of the span fell into the Mississippi River.  While that bridge was on a "watch list" due to its age and condition, the NTSB found that the actual cause of the collapse was that the gusset plates that held the bridge spans together had been too small and inadequate to handle the weight of the bridge.  Ironicially, years of improvements to the bridge added to the problem as an extra two inches of concrete on the road deck created even greater weight and strain.  The seeds for that disaster were sown on the engineering desk.

And then you had the partial collapse of the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee in 2000.  There a section of the bridge dropped suddenly--forcing the bridge to close for eight months.  An investigation into that disaster found that welds had been improperly done during construction--and that a prolonged cold snap that winter had further weakened the joints.  That little bit of human negligence nearly led to a huge disaster.

I will be thinking about those "Engineering Disasters" today when the inevitable press releases from Democratic lawmakers and Liberal special interest groups try blaming Governor Scott Walker and Republicans for the "dip" in Green Bay's Leo Frigo Bridge.  Those press releases will claim that Walker and the GOP have "continued to ignore the state's infrastructure needs--and have instead used taxpayer money to benefit their rich and corporate donors".  There will also be calls for another Federal stimulus package to complete more "shovel ready projects" like the Frigo Bridge (using only union contractors, or course)--instead of more tax cuts for the "1%".  I'm sure an intern somewhere was sent to Wikipedia ten seconds into yesterday's DOT press conference to find out if Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive during the Hoan collapse (he was not).

As with the other bridge disasters I mention before, a lack of money spent and work done on the Frigo Bridge had nothing to do with the problems that manifested themselves yesterday.  It is fairly clear that "Pier 22" is sinking into the ground--something that no inspection or maintenance program could have predicted or prevented.  But that won't stop the partisan accusations of negligence--and the demands for more government spending.  Just keep in mind that those arguments are as solid as the ground under "Pier 22".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Minor Solution

The call to pay major college athletes is growing louder again.  Last weekend, a few football players even joined in the protest movement, writing APU--for All Players United--on their ankle tape and wrist guards.  The belief is that these "student-athletes" are really "employees" of the colleges they attend--and that they deserve a share of the tens of millions of dollars they generate for their schools.

While I would never support paying college athletes beyond the scholarship, room and board and training table that they already enjoy (a six-figure value at some schools), if the payment plan ever became a reality I would want the NFL and the NBA to actually fork over the cash.  Because college football and college basketball are nothing more than de facto minor leagues for those sports. 

You won't hear anyone say college baseball or college hockey players should be getting paid.  That is because professional options are available to them anytime they want to pursue them.  Baseball's minor league system was in place long before college baseball grew into prominence.  And for decades, the Canadian Junior and Major Junior leagues (which amazingly still rely on host families to take in players from all around the country) was the major feeder to the NHL.  And that is now being supplemented by the professional leagues in Europe.  Players in both sports can be drafted without losing their eligibility--and can leave school to join those teams whenever they like--whereas football and basketball players are "trapped" at school until they make an irreversible decision to enter the draft.

But the NFL and the NBA rose to prominence after college football and college basketball were already established--so there was no need to set up minor leagues like you had in baseball.  Since then, both leagues have adopted eligibility rules that give athletes no choice but to play "for free" in college.  A player must be three years removed from high school before they are eligible for the NFL Draft.  A kid can't enter the NBA until he is at least a year out of high school.  That rule has led to the "one and done" phenomenon--where schools like Kentucky load up on pro prospects for a one-year run to the NCAA title every season--and the kids don't even bother going to class because what's going to happen?  You'll suspend them for next year?  They will be in the pros by then, baby!

The time has come for the NFL and the NBA to man up and start taking on some of the cost of maintaining the "talent pipeline" that feeds their leagues.  Give athletically-talented (and perhaps academically-challenged) kids coming out of high school a choice between "playing for free" and getting paid for their talents.  Drop the minimum age requirements to make the league and provide a minor league system for talent development.  The NFL is a 9-billion dollar business--I think they might be able to afford it.

Then perhaps college football and basketball can go back to being about kids who want to play for the glory and honor of Alma Mater U while earning that degree that will more likely put food on the table for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Governor, He Wrote Me a Letter

This week, about 92,000 BadgerCare Plus enrollees will be getting letters from the state informing them that they are getting bumped off the program and will have to enroll in private health insurance offered in the new state exchange.  The letters explain why they are no longer eligible for BadgerCare (a lowering of the financial thresholds) and provides information on the exchange--along with contact information on how to shop for policies and reminder that the recipient will have to pay for the new coverage upfront.  It is the standard governmental notice you would expect to get in the case of a benefits change like this.

But that letter is not good enough for Senator Tammy Baldwin.  She wants the governor to send an individual personalized letter to all 92-thousand affected BadgerCare enrollees.  Senator Baldwin also wants the Governor's office to follow up with phone calls and to pay somebody to visit those people to make sure they understand what is going on.  That's not surprising from someone who believes that everyone is helpless and would be unable to do anything on their own without government assistance.  It's why she has voted to include tens of millions of dollars in the Affordable Care Act to create new government programs that will tell people how to apply for new government programs.

Besides, if anyone should be sending letters to the soon-to-be-former BadgerCare enrollees, it should be President Obama.  It's the new rules contained in the Affordable Care Act that are allowing Governor Walker to return BadgerCare to what it was intended to be when it first started--health insurance for those living in poverty.  (Former Governor Jim Doyle can write half the letters for the President since he was the one that kept expanding eligibility for the program over and over again during his term.)

You see, Governor Walker is making ObamaCare work the way it was intended.  The health care exchanges were mandated to provide insurance to people not covered by employer plans.  The Federal Government will provide tax vouchers to lower income exchange customers to offset a percentage of the cost based on their income and family status.  Those living in poverty will remain in Medicaid programs operated by the state.

But the Obama Administration--in an attempt to obscure the real cost of the Affordable Care Act--initiated a shell game, offering additional Medicaid dollars to states in order to limit the number of people who will be applying for the federal vouchers (making it appear that ObamaCare was cheaper than everyone expected).  Walker and a number of other Republican governors have decided not to play the game, and are sending the people who should be in the exchanges to them as required by the law.

Perhaps Senator Baldwin would prefer this letter be sent instead:

Dear Former BadgerCare Plus enrollee,

Welcome to the new world of health care coverage.


The Democrats Who Demanded We Pass The Bill So We Can Find Out What's In It

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Struggle Continues

For centuries, early astronomers--working under the incorrect theory that the Earth was the fixed center of the universe--"struggled" with making sense of how objects moved across the sky.  Objects that were far away--like the stars--seemed to move in a regular pattern.  But objects believed to be much closer--like the planets--seemed to move in totally different patterns.  Ptolemy thought he had solved the problem by coming up with a geo-centric model of the universe--where things in space were fixed points on spheres revolving around the Earth.  To make the "science" work, Ptolemy had the planets revolve on a seperate axis on their spheres--resulting in orbits that looked like loop-de-loops and zig-zags--and which also required the planets to speed up and slow down as they revolved around Earth.

Eventually, Copernicus would develop the Sun-centered model of the solar system--and the orbits of the planets became very clear.  Everyone--except for the Vatican--would soon accept the Helio-centric model as the truth and the idea of Earth being the center of the universe would be lampooned as foolish and ignorant.

A few centuries later, physicists and astronomers--working under the incorrect belief that Newton's Laws of Gravity are universal--"struggled" to explain a number of observable phenomenon--including why Mercury's orbit was slightly longer than it should be, why light seemed to slow down at certain points in the universe and how the nucleus of an atom stayed together.  There were a number of convoluted theories on each topic--none of which ever seemed to perfectly match the scientific data--but all of which preserved Newton's Laws.

Eventually, Albert Einstein would answer all of the questions with his Special and General Theories of Relativity.  E=mc2 would show that Newton's Laws did not apply when talking about things that are very, very big and things that are traveling very, very fast.  The theories would open up new understandings of our universe, the formation of all things and it would usher in the nuclear age.

Today, climatologists--working on the belief that human burning of fossil fuels is causing out of control global warming--are "struggling" to explain how global temperatures are not reaching the predictions they made decades ago--despite higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.  The United Nations will release its latest report on climate change this week--but nobody can agree on how to explain the lower than expected temps.  Some want the inaccurate predictions blamed on the ocean--which is "holding the heat" now.  Others want volcanic activity and declining solar activity to be blamed.  Some want the timeline that the study starts looking at temperatures changed, because the current baseline year was "too hot".  And a few want no mention made at all--despite the fodder it will provide to those who believe fossil fuels are a relatively small factor in a process that started at the middle of the last ice age, 18,000 years ago.

Eventually, a scientist with one heck of a super-computer will be able to take all of the scientific data on ocean currents, volcanic activity, plate tectonics, solar radiation and CO levels and come up with accurate global temperature projections.  Until then, the global warming alarmists will just have to continue to "struggle" with the facts that don't go their way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why They Are Elected

Apparently, Oshkosh School District Superintendent Stan Mack isn't muzzling School Board members--he just thinks they have nothing to say about parents' unhappiness with new elementary school bus routes.  Superintendent Mack engaged me in a very animated phone conversation Thursday morning about why his secretary told our reporter that Board members are no longer to be contacted about the busing controversy.

It's Mack's contention that bus routes are a matter of "day-to-day" operation--and that the School Board couldn't possibly be expected to know everything about minor details like what time kids at Oakwood School are being dropped off in the morning.  Therefore, to be asked about the route changes would be "unfair" to those on the Board.  He also tried to compare it to my situation here in the private sector--arguing that my bosses in Atlanta don't have input on what news stories we air everyday.

I will grant you that our News/Talk Format Director couldn't tell you what our top story is everyday--but he is acutely aware of the format we follow, what talk shows we air, the timing and length of our commercial breaks, how many ads we have available each hour and what our ratings are in the market.  And if we were missing major stories, getting facts wrong in every story and generating listener complaints--he would definitely know about that and there would definitely be feedback generated in my direction.

What Superintendent Mack seems to want everyone to forget is that the School Board set in motion the process for the bus route changes to take place.  It was the Board that approved the $250,000 reduction in the district's transportation budget--giving Kobussen the okay to reduce the number of routes it runs in the district every morning and afternoon.  And it was the Board that approved standardized start times for all elementary schools--meaning some kids will be dropped off much earlier at one building than those going to a building further along in the route.

It stands to reason that since the Board was involved in those two decisions, they are fair game for answering questions about them.  Were we going to ask Allison Garner if she thinks kids on the east side of Jackson Street should be picked up before those on the west side? No. Because--as Superintendent Mack suggests--there is no way she should have to know that kind of minutiae.  But shouldn't Garner be able to answer if she was aware that kids might have to be on a bus for more than an hour before she voted to cut that quarter-million in the transportation budget?  And couldn't she tell us if she knew that some students would be dropped off a half-hour before the first class when she voted in favor of the standardized start times?  Just because she may not know the exact times and locations of stops and dropoffs, couldn't Board member Garner share her opinion of whether parents have a legitimate gripe?  And wouldn't she be able to answer the question of whether she would vote in favor of the budget cut and the start times if she knew what she knows now about the impact they might have on students and families?

While we may not be getting the answers that you the parents, voters and taxpayers of the Oshkosh School District are demanding from our elected officials.  Superintendent Mack will be back on with Bob Burnell at 6:50 this morning to--again--do all the talking.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Today's latest installment of no HOPE due to CHANGE comes to us from a new Gallup poll that finds a majority of Americans who have invested for their retirements are still very pessimistic about their financial futures.  Nearly 3/4 of those surveyed fear a major retirement crisis is looming--and that those who leave the workforce in their old age will have to do at a reduced standard of living--or even in poverty.  Just as disturbing, 2/3 of those polled expect little to no economic growth in the US for the rest of their lives! 

So just how did we become such a nation of Debbie Downers?  We are living in the era of "Hope and Change"!  Big Government is now here to relieve you of all your worries--and to take care of your every need (and want)!  Health care is going to be "affordable" now!  C'mon people, turn those frowns upside down--the good times are just getting started!

Those picking apart the numbers point out the main concern is with the stock market itself.  We've had a tremendous run up to a new record high for the Dow yesterday, but the driving forces remain worrisome.  These increases in corporate profits are due less to increased demand for product than they are from continued cutting of expenses.  Eventually, the demand side has to pick up. Unless you believe in Keynsian economic theory--in which case, government intervention is all you need.  And to that point, you have to assume that the quantitative easing that has been used to prop up the economy for the past five years must also come to an end at some point.  Just the thought of that, however, has sent markets into near free fall before.

We should probably consider who was polled by Gallup.  These are people who have invested for their retirement--and have been doing so for years.  Perhaps they see that this economic "recovery"--as small and as slow as it has been--is just as phony as the one we saw after 9-11.  Except this time, instead of relying on personal and consumer debt to make things look good, we are relying on government debt.  And while some (Keynsians) may believe that approach is okay--because the government really doesn't "have to" pay that money back--those with the smallest bit of financial savvy recognize that they (let's call them Mitt Romney's 51%) are gong to be the ones footing that future bill.

Perhaps all of the HOPE is going to Millenials--"only" 42% of them believe they will have a lower standard of living than their parents.  Innocence is so cute, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Most Awkward Situation

The Americans With Disabilities Act holds that people cannot be fired from their jobs due to medical conditions--provided you are qualified for the positions and can perform the essential functions of the job with or without special accommodation.  But what if adhering to that law negatively impacts every other person in the organization?  That is the very sticky situation the University of Minnesota finds itself in with its Head Football Coach Jerry Kill.

Kill has epilepsy.  University officials knew that before hiring him to take over the pathetic Gophers football program in 2011.  At the time, Kill told the Athletic Director that he and his doctor were working on a medicine regiment that would control seizures and not cloud his mental capacity.  But since then, Kill has suffered four major seizures either right before or during Gopher games--in each case requiring transport to the hospital--and the coach being unavailable for the game.

The most recent episode took place last weekend in the Minnesota game against Western Illinois--when Kill had to be taken from the stadium to the hospital at halftime--leaving his assistant coaches to run the show in his absence.  The situation was taken to a new level Sunday morning, when Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan became the first person to publicly call for Kill to step down because of his medical condition.

Having worked around Souhan--and reading his columns while in the Twin Cities myself--I can tell you he is not a "Fire the coach because we lost this week" kind of guy.  He is just pointing out how unfair it is to the players, to the assistants and to the fans to have a head coach that has proven to be unable to stay on the sidelines for entire games. 

As you might expect, the column has created a firestorm of controversy--with Souhan being accused of discrimination and Kill being elevated to the status of "poster boy" for those with epilepsy.  Several of Kill's assistants have lashed out--calling Souhan "ignorant".  The U of M Athletic Director--Norwood Teague--is making sure to say all of the right things, going so far as to claim that being a head coach is "so much more than just Saturday."  I'm sure that comment perked up the ears of 200 or so other Division I football coaches--all of whom stand to lose their jobs for failing to go to bowl games or beating their big rivals every year--even if they graduate all of their kids, the players never get arrested and donors give to the new weight room project.

If being on the field for games is not going to be considered an "essential function of the job" as Minnesota Head Football Coach, why have the position at all?  Why not just have an offensive and defensive co-ordinator--and let them make all of the decisions on game day?  They can each handle all of the recruiting for their respective sides of the ball--and let the special teams coach round out the roster with guys he needs for the kicking game?  All of the off-the-field stuff can be handled by Athletic Department staff.

The way the Jerry Kill situation is being handled gives us a pretty good idea of why the University of Minnesota has not played in the Rose Bowl since 1962--and probably won't be a threat to go to Pasadena for at least another 51-years.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'll Do All the Talking Here

A disturbing pattern is developing with the Oshkosh Area School District.  Over the past few weeks we have set up interviews with principals and school board members to discuss certain topics--only to have Superintendent Stan Mack swoop in and demand to be the person interviewed instead.  This has especially been true for stories pertaining to the unhappiness expressed by some parents over the changes in elementary school bus routes.

The latest example of this was last Thursday, when we had booked Boardmember Allison Garner to talk with Bob Burnell on the WOSH Morning News Focus about discussions with Kobussen Buses on developing new routes that wouldn't require kids to be dropped off for classes so early in the morning.  My reporter, Emily Roberts, was contacted by Superintendent Mack's office later that same day telling her that he is the only person who will be commenting on the bus route situation--and that Boardmembers are no longer to be contacted on the topic.  Needless to say, this is not a situation the voters of Oshkosh should accept.

Having a single source of information and comment is not that unusual in the public or the private sector.  Individual police officers and firemen defer comment to their Public Information Officers all of the time.  City Managers or Mayors usually serve as the mouthpieces for questions and issues at City Hall.  But Department heads and Battalion Chiefs aren't elected officials--and aren't directly accountable to the voters to explain their actions and decisions like members of a School Board are.  And that is what makes this "gag order" that Stan Mack has placed on his bosses so disturbing.

Of course, I probably shouldn't be that surprised that it's the Oshkosh School Board doing this.  "Group speak" and "Group thought" have been the hallmark of this body for years.  In fact, it is a stated goal of the Board to have no public dissent when it comes to any issue--no matter how controversial it is. Apparently, the way to make sure that doesn't happen is to no longer make those Boardmembers available to the media for any comment--lest they mistakenly fail to echo the party line, or share a personal opinion that might differ from what Superintendent Mack wants the public to believe.

So if you are ever wondering why Oshkosh School Boardmembers aren't chiming in on the bus route situation--or any other issue that doesn't come with a big smiley face sticker attached--now you know why.  That is how they are staying "open and accountable" to you, the voter the and the taxpayer.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Don't Even Bother

Later today we will likely have the most useless thing in the world of sports: the post-game conference apology for officiating ineptitude.  The PAC-12 Conference will issue a press release saying that it has reviewed the game film from Saturday night's game between Arizona State and Wisconsin and has determined that the referees did not properly handle the final few seconds--preventing the Badgers from attempting a game-winning field goal.

First, the PAC-12 will admit the officials blew Rule 4, Section 1, Article 3(o): "A live ball becomes dead and an official shall sound his whistle or declare it dead … When a ball carrier simulates placing his knee on the ground"--meaning that even if they weren't sure if Joel Stave's knee touched the ground--it still should not have mattered. 

And the Commissioner will also admit that Arizona State players violated Rule 3, Section 4, Article 3 "Delay of game--action that prevents officials from marking ball ready for play" when their players jumped on the ball and did not allow the umpire to spot it--and that the officials should have enforced Provision 2 "The game clock should be started on snap if delay foul is by team ahead in the score." 

And the statement will also admit that the above errors all could have been corrected by holding an on-field conference--or asking the replay official to review the tape to determine the proper spot and time remaining on the clock--instead of the officiating crew just running off of the field after the final gun.

There may even be an admission that the officials failed to properly enforce Rule 8-4-1-a that states: "A field goal shall be scored for the kicking team if a drop kick or place kick passes over the crossbar between the uprights of the receiving team's goal before it touches a player of the kicking team or the ground." and Provision b which states "The crossbar and uprights are treated as a line."--meaning the 1st quarter ASU field goal attempt that passed over and not inside the right upright should not have counted.  That was kind of a big deal in a game decided by two points.

So go ahead PAC-12, issue your little apology and tell us all about how these issues "will be addressed with the officials".  It doesn't make a bit of difference.  It doesn't change the L to a W for Wisconsin.  Kyle French won't get to run onto the field tomorrow to attempt the 36-yard field goal.  It doesn't restore the BCS computer ranking points and it doesn't return the money to those who may have had the Badgers to win straight up. 

Or perhaps the time spent on the statement and answering questions about the cluster#*%! Saturday night would be better spent on finding officials who know what the hell they are doing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Greatest Love of All

One of the stranger experiences my wife and I went through while trying to adopt was filling out a questionnaire about what types of physical and mental handicaps we would be willing to accept in a child available for placement with us.  We were asked to check boxes saying we would want a child with a club foot, a cleft palette, mild retardation, severe mental disabilities, born with a drug addiction or potential fetal alcohol syndrome.  It was a very difficult process as we tried to determine "how much" of a handicap we thought we could handle--and it made us think about all of those parents who didn't have this "choice" when their own handicapped children were born.

Two of those parents are my Uncle Ron and Aunt Angela.  Due to complications during birth, my Cousin Violet was born with severe physical and mental handicaps.  It was clear from early on that Violet was never going to speak, was never going to walk, was never going to attend a "regular" school and was never going to be able to take care of herself.  But that didn't stop Ron and Angela from loving her with their whole hearts--and making countless sacrifices to ensure Violet lived as comfortable a life as possible.

That meant changes to their house, specialized vans, beds and bathtubs, therapy sessions, special schooling, round-the-clock care, lifelong diaper changes and special food preparation.  Trips to see family here in Wisconsin required extensive planning and co-ordination.  I'm sure there was never enough money and never enough time for just themselves.  But they remained committed to their daughter and meeting her every need.  When my Aunt experienced her own health problems a few years ago, my parents and my Aunts and Uncles traveled to Oklahoma to help with Violet's care while Angela recovered.

My cousin passed away last Sunday at the age of 24--far longer than the doctors originally expected her to live.  I'd like to think that it was the dedication of my aunt and uncle that contributed to that longer-than-expected lifetime.  Due to distance, work requirements and time constraints, my wife and I are not able to attend her funeral this morning--but I wanted to take this opportunity to honor her memory and to salute the efforts of my Uncle Ron and Aunt Angela--because they took the boxes that my wife and I left empty on an adoption questionnaire and they filled them with the greatest love of all in real life.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, This Name Actually Has To Go!!

On Sunday, a group of Native Americans and their supporters will take to the picket lines outside of Lambeau Field to protest the name of the Packers opponents, the Washington Redskins.  It is the opinion of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association that the name "Redskins" is racist--and has no place on the TV's radios and sports websites of our society.  And you know what?  I completely agree with them.

I've taken to this forum several times to deride efforts to change high school and college mascots and team names in the past.  But in those cases, the attacks are undertaken against common words in our vernacular: "Indians", "Chiefs", "Braves" and "Warriors".  And unlike the state Department of Public Instruction--and the Democrats who passed the current mascot law--I don't use a blanket policy to cover all use of words and logos.  Instead, I prefer to consider cases individually and apply logic and common sense to each situation.

You cannot make an argument that there is anything positive or "honorable" about the word "Redskin".  Plain and simple, it was a derogatory reference to Native Americans from the inception of its use by early European settlers and explorers--and at no point has it ever been adopted by the Indians themselves as the "N-word" has been by African-Americans.  Even the logo seems to have been designed in such a way to play up on the "red skin" reference

 As compared to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux:
Or the Chicago Blackhawks:
The mascot opponents are starting to find some support in the media.  Several newspapers and NBC's Peter King are now refusing to use the "Redskins" name--referring to the team exclusively as "Washington" in their reports.  Washington-based "Pardon the Interruption" has also taken team owner (an arrogant money-weasel) Daniel Snyder to task for defiantly defending the name and logo.  Although Tony Kornheiser has made the ludicrous suggestion to switch the logo to a "redskin potato" in order to keep the name:
Hopefully, Packers fans won't harass the protest group and fan the flames by lobbing racial epithets their way while heading into the stadium--and instead will, like some of us have, consider this case on its merits and realize that this is indeed a logo that has to go.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trusting Very Bad Men

On September 30th of 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from a summit with Adolf Hitler with an agreement that if the countries of Europe allowed Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, there would be no further attempts to expand the Third Reich.  Chamberlain told the assembled press at his return to London that he had secured "Peace in our time."  Besides, who cares if a few Czechs have to live in under a regime they did not choose?  Chamberlain was hailed as a hero--and likely would have won the 1939 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to appease Hitler and avoid all-out war.  The 1939 Nobel Peace Prize was never awarded, because less than a year after Chamberlain had "secured peace", Germany would invade Poland, and Europe would be fully engaged in World War II.  Seven years later, an estimated 60-million people were dead--and the entire continent lay in ruin.

In February of 1945, as World War II was drawing to an end, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with Josef Stalin in Yalta to discuss the future of Europe following the inevitable defeat of the Nazis.  Weary from war--and weakened both physically and politically, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to let Stalin continue to occupy the areas of Eastern Europe--with Stalin promising to hold democratic elections after the war.  It appeared that an ugly battle (and potential military conflict between allies) had been averted--and peace would be coming to our time faster.  Besides, who cares if a few "minor" countries have to put up with Soviet occupation for a little while?  But less than a year later, Stalin would renege on that promise--leading Churchill to declare "An Iron Curtain has descended across the continent".  Countless millions would be killed for their opposition to Communist rule--and freedom would not come to those nations for another 50-years.

On September 10th, 2013, President Barack Obama--himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner (for talking about withdrawing US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan)--announces that Syria has agreed to turn over its chemical weapons to Russia--in order to avoid military retaliation from the United States.  Syrian President Bashar Asaad had been not only denying the use of chemical weapons--but flat out calling the US liars for insinuating he had any.  Now Russian President Vladamir Putin--known for his own brand of retaliation against enemies--promises that he will take those weapons and make sure than nobody ever uses them again.  I'm sure the Nobel Prize Committee is already getting nomination papers making the case for Putin because he has once again "secured peace".  Besides, who care if a few thousand Syrian civilians get gassed--it's not our war to fight.

Does anyone notice a pattern here?  Appeasement of war criminals, despots and all-around thugs in the name of "maintaining peace"?  Based on past results, we will be right back here in a year--with a worse condition brewing in Syria--and a much more costly "solution" to fix it.

But that's the risk you take when you are willing to trust Very Bad Men.

Friday, September 6, 2013

No Need To Even Play The Season

While we certainly don't encourage gambling (wink, wink) here are your "Stone Cold Locks Of The Century" Packers picks:

Week 1 at San Francisco--There was a lot of speculation when the Packers brought Vince Young into training camp that he was going to "help" the team prepare for read option quarterbacks like the 49'ers Colin Kaepernick.  The only problem is that Kaepernick can actually throw the ball downfield to his receivers--and San Fran matches their 45-31 beatdown of the Pack in last year's playoff game.

Week 2 vs Washington--Another read-option QB in Robert Griffin III--but he's no Colin Kaepernick either (and the Washington defense is as good either).  Packers win 31-17.

Week 3 at Cincinnati--The Bengals are a chic Super Bowl pick, so they will tank this season.  Green Bay wins 24-13.

Week 4 Bye Week--Nothing like getting your bye as early as allowed by league rules.  Hopefully, everybody doesn't decide to hit the golf course that Sunday--I like having the place to myself on Sunday afternoons.

Week 5 vs Detroit--The Packers own the Lions at Lambeau.  Green Bay wins 27-10.

Week 6 at Baltimore--Based on last night's beatdown in Denver, the defending Super Bowl Champs are shells of their former selves.  Packers roll 30-20.

Week 7 vs Cleveland--The Browns are awful.  Packers win 35-20.

Week 8 at Minnesota--The big question here is: will Adrian Peterson be playing at this point in the season?  I'm going on the assumption that he will be and that the Vikes run over the Pack 23-21.

Week 9 vs Chicago--Jay Cutler is still the Bears QB.  Packers in a laugher 38-7.

Week 10--vs Philadelphia--ESPN calls the Eagles "a threat in the NFC".  They will probably be 3-6 by this point and Chip Kelly's hurry up throw on every down offense will have put five quarterbacks on the injured reserve.  Packers roll again 45-30.

Week 11 at New York Giants--Green Bay always struggles in the Meadowlands, but this is the time of year the Giants at in their swoon and the press is calling for the firing of Tom Coughlin.  The Pack squeaks it out 24-21.

Week 12 vs Minnesota--AP has another big day, but this time the Packers capture the 23-21 win.

Week 13 at Detroit--This is where I tell the story of the Thanksgiving when Walter Stanley ran a punt back for a game-winning touchdown and my mother was on the floor pounding her hands yelling at him to "GO!!!! GO!!!!! GO!!!!!!".  Ah, memories.  Detroit wins this one 30-27--so Mom won't be pounding on my living room floor before dinner.

Week 14 vs Atlanta--Green Bay is in Matt Ryan's head.  Packers win 34-27.

Week 15 at Dallas--You really expect me to pick against Dallas?  HOW "BOUT THEM COWBOYS?!?!?! 31-24.

Week 16 vs Pittsburgh--You really expect me to pick against the Steelers? 77-0 Pittsburgh.

Week 17 at Chicago--Jay Cutler suffers a hangnail in the 1st Quarter and sits out the rest of the game.  Packers end the regular season with a 30-14 win.

Wild Card Weekend--After an 11-5 regular season, the Packers are the number 3 seed in the NFC and open the playoff at home against the Wild Card New Orleans Saints.  Aaron Rodgers outguns Drew Brees 48-38 at Lambeau.

Divisional Playoff Weekend--The Packers go to Atlanta and school the Falcons again, 35-20.

NFC Championship Game--In a rematch of last year's playoff beat'em down at Candlestick Park, Colin Kaepernick embarasses the Packers linebacking crew again--and San Francisco heads back to the Super Bowl with a 45-30 win.

My Super Bowl pick: The 49ers complete their comeback from last year's disappointment with a 31-28 win over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Bet the morgage payments.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Teach Them To Fail Early

One of the greatest successes of The Onion parody newspaper and website is that every time you hear or see a news story that you can't believe, you just assume its from the pages of The Onion.  Alas, today's source material is not made up--but is based on an actual report from the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

In an effort to ensure that no one "wins" or "loses", a youth soccer league in Ontario is no longer playing with actual balls on the field.  (Be sure to listen to the full report--you will laugh until you cry)  According to Association spokesperson, Helen Dabney-Coyle, "By removing the ball, it's absolutely impossible to say 'this team won' and 'this team lost' or 'this child is better at soccer than that child.'"

In case you are wondering, every child is asked to "imagine" what the ball is doing on the field and "pretend" that they have kicked it, or blocked it or scored a goal.  The coach then has to ask the kids if the ball went into the net or if the goalie "imagined" he saved it.

As you might assume, the parents of far-less-talented players love the set up--as there is no actual way to measure performance on the field anymore!  As one mother in the report says "If he says he scored 8 goals, who am I to say he didn't?"

The coaches involved try to put their best face forward when addressing the ludicrousness of this league.  One quoted in the report refers to himself as an "Imagination Captain" rather than a coach, and wistfully yearns for the days when the kids actually used a ball.

Like nationalized health care, this is an idea that will likely filter south across the border and be adopted by some US youth sports associations as well.  That means another generation of young adults who have never been asked to actually accomplish something--and who will have no coping skills to deal with setback, defeat or disappointment.  Maybe, they can "imagine" they got that job right out of college, and they can go down to the bank and "pretend" to cash checks every couple of weeks.  Who are we to say they didn't get that job?

Oh, and good news for those of us so desperate to see Team USA win another Olympic Hockey Gold Medal--the sports association is going to "puckless" hockey as well.  "DO YOU BELIEVE IN IMAGINARY MIRACLES?"


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Где дети колледжа ушел? (Where Have the College Kids Gone?)

My wife and I spent part of the holiday weekend in the Wisconsin Dells.  I noticed something very different from the last time we visited the Dells about ten years ago--there seem to be a lot of Eastern European accents around there.  The kids taking our pictures before the Jet Boat ride, the indoor water park lifeguards, the clerk at the t-shirt shop, even the girl taking our order at Dairy Queen all had Ukrainian, Russian or Polish accents (and name tags). 

I didn't remember such an influx of foreign workers in past so I asked about it and it turns out that American college kids no longer want the seasonal jobs offered by the tourist traps and the mega-resorts.  The business owners then find Eastern European kids to fill out the workforce--because they don't mind the labor they are asked to put in--they are just happy to get paid.

I find this ironic, as unemployment rates among young adults continue to increase under the Obama Administration--as does student loan debt.  Yet, 23-thousand jobs require flying in people from halfway around the globe to fill them.  And then that money goes out of our economy.

Yes, the Dells college job is low-paying.  Most are barely above the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  But even at that "meager" rate, a college kid putting in 40-hours a week for the 15 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day is going to make $4,350 bucks.  If you get a job that pays $9 an hour that goes up to $5400.  Another interesting thing is that many of the Eastern European kids also work two jobs while in the Dells for the summer.  Add in another 25 hours a week for the season and that's an additional $2700 bucks that could go toward someone's tuition or room and board.

Granted, spending an entire summer or two or four or five would mean no getting drunk for a week at Country USA, no spending hot days on your parents' boat, and not much time for "clubbing".  But with less (or no) student loan debt when you graduate from college, you can attend plenty of concerts, spend many more nights dancing, and you can even buy your own boat (with cash) after graduation.  And someday you can even take your family to the Dells and buy the overpriced Jet Boat Ride photos to help another "poor" college student get through school.