Pink Slime – Waste Not Want Not

Governor Rick Perry is in the news again, this time as a spokesman for Pink Slime.  He and some other carnivorous Governors, Republicans mostly, from meat eatin’, beef producin’ states have gone on a campaign to promote the wholesome nutritious goodness of finely textured beef, aka Pink Slime, which they claim has gotten a bad rap.  And maybe they’re right.

Pink Slime is nothing more than a bunch of finely blended left over scraps off the carcass of a cow treated with a spice rub of ammonium hydroxide.  Nothing wasted.  Waste Not Want Not, as the song and saying goes.   The final product is not unlike a can of wiggly Spam or pack of hot dogs that Ralph Nadar once nicknamed “pink missiles”.    What’s the big deal?   The thing is, Americans like to waste.  (As an American, I include myself in the mix, but am not necessarily talking about you, for the record, although you too may see a little of you in the pronoun we.)  We want the choicest cuts, not the scraps.  Or else we want skinless and the leanest cuts as we politely pass on the organs, those so called “sweet meats”.  Ever conscious of our weight, or just plain picky, my was I ever as a child, we don’t eat everything on our plate.  If you’ve ever bussed tables at a restaurant, you know what I mean.

We waste like no other society. We are especially fond of hazardous waste produced by our frenzied fracking behavior, all so that we can waste precious and finite fossil fuels.  We dig, drill, frack and plunder like there’s no tomorrow, as if the Mayan prediction for the end of the world were not only an inconvenient but an inescapable truth.

We are so hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels that we waste billions on tax breaks for the already ungodly profitable Big Oil companies, who scream that billions in profits are not enough.  Who cares, as long as we have cheap gas for our SUVs?

We waste time too. Lots of it.  The idiot box is full of mind numbing dumbness.  Take sports, what a distraction.  I sometimes find myself watching the Golf Channel.  And I don’t know why.  I don’t even like golf.

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Heath Care Reform Is DOA

The Heath Care Reform bill looks doomed judging by the way the Conservative SCOTUS justices have questioned the Solicitor General on the individual mandate provision. The individual mandate is the heart and soul of the bill and if found unconstitutional, Obama Care, I mean Romney Care will go down in flames.

The crux of the argument against the individual mandate is that healthy young people should not be required to buy health insurance. I can’t speak for all young people, but I don’t know many who have the funds to pay for a broken leg, or ruptured appendix with their debit card, which is what they would face if they had no insurance. It is a risk that only the wealthiest of the healthiest could afford to take. I think we are talking about the 1% here, the rarest of Americans who could pay out of pocket for a year long bout of mononucleosis, or a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever or worse the Bubonic Plague (there have been incidents reported in the Southwest) or a horrific car accident with multiple life threatening injuries.

Were there no individual mandate, what happens to those who chose not to be insured and find they can’t pay the costs of a sudden illness or emergency treatment?  Will they be turned away at the emergency room?  Will they pay with their own lives?  Everyone loses in the end – insurance premiums go up and so will taxes, much to the dismay of the wealthiest who are not accustomed to paying their fare share.

Why would anyone object to to everyone being in the insurance pool so that the risks are spread out, and the costs controlled benefiting all?  The short of it is that some in the GOP and maverick independents, just don’t care about anyone but themselves.  Any sort of social contract in their view is evil.  Privatize they say.  Let the “free” market take care of everything.  Live and let die.

Pitino Has The Edge Over Calipari

And then there were 4.  And not the most surprising 4.  A number 1, 2 2s and a 4.  We’ve got a nifty city state match up in Louisville(4) Kentucky(1) with a compelling coaching subplot between Calipari and Pitino.

Calipari and Pitino coached teams have meet 15 times over the years.  With UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky, Calipari’s record is 7-8 versus Pitino’s Kentucky and Louisville teams.  Coach Cal is 7-4 in regular season games against Pitino, however, he’s 0-4 in post season games.  As the coach of Memphis, Calipari lost to Pitino’s Louisville teams in the Conference USA tournament twice.  And in NCAA play as the coach of UMASS, Coach Cal lost to Pitino coached Kentucky teams in 1992 in the Sweet 16 and in the 1996 Final Four Semifinal game. Their meeting Saturday will be a rematch. Clearly, Calipari has an ax to grind and something to prove.

Can Calipari avenge his post season loses to Pitino? Possibly, but it’s not a slam dunk.  The X factor in my mind will be the mascots – Wildcat and Cardinal.  Normally, a cat gets the better of the bird, but a cardinal is not just any bird.  Related to the jay bird and a member of the crow family, cardinals are mean, menacing birds.  They are loud, relentless and among the most intelligent birds on the planet – ok, I just made that up, but they might be.   I do know this: wildcats do not like to be harassed, they don’t, and will quickly become frustrated, distracted and fatigued by a swooping, heckling bird.  Advantage goes to the Cardinals and the master coach, who like the cardinal, seems to have a knack for getting into his rival’s head in games that count.

Stand Your Ground Lawlessness

Stand Your Ground laws are on the books in many Red States and in some Blue states too, where guns and the NRA are popular. These so-called “self-defense” laws permit armed and presumably unarmed citizens the right to use deadly force in the event they feel in danger and in the case of Florida, also if they feel the lives of others are in danger.  But what does Stand Your Ground really mean?

Stand Your Ground as I understand the phrase means Don’t Back Down. It doesn’t mean take out a semi-automatic and fire away.  Nor does it mean go patrol the neighborhood looking for trouble, which is apparently what George Zimmerman was doing as a self-appointed neighborhood watch “captain” the night he pursued, after being told by police not to, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a black youth walking home from a convenience store with a pack of Skittles. The police determined that they could not arrest Zimmerman based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

The murder of Trayvon Martin has raised many questions about Stand Your Ground Laws, including evidence that they have produced an increase in violence and fatalities, and have promoted a dangerous vigilante mentality. As people become increasingly empowered to “protect” themselves and others, conditions are ripe for the type of racial profiling and racist attitudes that appear to have been motivational factors in Zimmerman’s actions.

With respect to homeowners, SYG laws encourage gun use in situations where the gun owner may not have the proper training to appropriately handle a dangerous situation, such that his actions could put him or her as the case may be, more at risk of injury or death, or cause a needless and preventable fatality.

I’m not against gun ownership, or the right to use force in self-defense. I am against citizens taking the law into their own hands.  Without the powerful gun lobby with the full backing of the NRA, these laws may never have come to pass.  Which raises the issue of why now?  Has there been a rash of crime the likes the U.S. has never seen?  Are there criminals lurking around every corner and burglars burgling in every suburban basement.  Might the passage of SYG laws have to do with a calculated GOP Tea Party strategy to instill fear in the citizenry, a fear that the President is secretly plotting to disarm Americans with some executive order? This is the sort of paranoid conspiracy theory that you might see at a Tea Party rally. It makes for good campaign rhetoric for the GOP who could argue (incorrectly I would add) that  Democrats who favor gun control are against the right to bear arms.  Even though I believe the second amendment only guarantees a well-regulated militia (like today’s police force, or the armed forces) the right to bear arms, I don’t have a problem with gun ownership for sport or a pistol for protection to be kept in the home, but DON’T think it’s a good idea for people to be walking around armed to the teeth as if living in the Wild West. Rather than Stand Your Ground laws, these are more like Take The Law Into Your Own Hands laws.

One way to peacefully stand your ground is to lock your doors, secure your valuables and install a security system. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. If you feel your life is in danger, call 911, find a safe area or escape.  Standing your ground with gun in hand invites confrontation that can have no good ending.  And for the deeply religious folk who insist there is some biblical right to own a automatic assault rifle, I could only find in the bible “do not commit murder” and “judge not, lest ye be judged”.  Let the criminal justice system do the judging, not the semi-automatic pistol.

Elite 8 Ain’t All That Great

The Elite 8 ain’t all that great because the underdogs are mostly now gone.  Good bye Ohio, Cincinnati and Xavier, the three promising spoilers from the great state of Ohio.  The favored Ohio State Buckeyes, whose mascot is a nut, is the only Ohio team and Big Ten representative left standing after Sweet 16 play.  Out are the damn spots of Indiana, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.  The feared honey Badgers fell to a piece of fruit, the Syracuse Orange, creating a dream match up between a nut and a piece of fruit in the East Regional Finals.

Over in the South Region, Baylor advanced to meet the Kentucky Wildcats. About the only interesting twist to this meeting is that in 2011, two debate teams from the schools faced off in the National Debate Tournament (NDT), where Baylor posted a decisive first round victory.  Baylor’s top rated team would go on to place 26th in the tournament.  Among Elite 8 teams, the highest finish at the 2011 NDT was Kansas, who placed 17th.  For whatever it’s worth, Baylor has won 3 National Debate Championships; Kansas 5.

The only mildly interesting fact about the Midwest Regional Final is that Roy Williams used to coach for Kansas.  Other than that, who cares, and I’m not sure I even care about that.

The West Regional Finals will be a battle of coaches.  It pairs two coaches from New York who have a long history together.  Louisville’s Rick Pitino used to coach Florida’s Billy Donavan at Providence.  And Donavan was an assistant to Pitino at Kentucky.  As a coach, Donavan has never beaten Pitino – losing all 6 previous meetings. The subplot is how two New Yorkers, who have never been able to shake their long, Long Island accents, wound up coaching basketball in the South.

Florida is a real long shot and lowest seeded team to advance to the Elite 8.  They have played other Elite 8 teams 5 times and have gone 0-5, losing once to Ohio State and Syracuse and three times to Kentucky.  As the lone underdog, I’m rooting for the Gators, the only team in the tournament with a prehistoric reptilian mascot…and one mean bite.

Toys for the GOP

Now we know that Mitt Romney favors the Etch A Sketch, which is the perfect toy for a resetting flip flopper.  I think each candidate should adopt a toy or game and I have some suggestions.

Newt Gingrich.  Clearly a YoYo is a good choice, because he’s a bit of one and so up and down in the polls, more down lately, possibly because he doesn’t know how to straighten the tangled string from his around the world and to the moon maneuver that he attempted a while back.

Rick Santorum.  Pink Slime.  Wait, that’s not a toy, I mean Silly Putty, which describes some, no, most of his ideas.  Actually,  Silly Putty could be the GOP theme toy.  His ideas are not only silly, but down right creepy.  I can see his team baking up a batch of Creepy Crawlers.  Remember those?  And finally, Angry Birds could come out with a Rick Santorum addition.  He does seem pissed off most of the time.

Ron Paul.  Battling Tops comes to mind.  As  a top, he spins and spins and spins and seemingly won’t go down.  Those tops had names too and I think he’d either be Smarty Smitty or Dizzy Dan.

 

Sweet 16 Roster Facts

Ohio State has two players from Cincinnati. Ohio has two players from Columbus. Cincinnati only has two players on their roster from Ohio, both from Cincinnati.  Xavier also only has two players from Ohio, one from Cincinnati.

Both Cincinnati and Louisville have a player from Dakar, Senegal.

Baylor has 6 players from Texas.   North Carolina has 8 players from North Carolina.  Indiana has 9 home grown players, more than any other team. NC State has 3 international players. Kansas has more players from CA (4) than KS (2).

The tallest player is NC State’s 7-1 Jordan Vandenberg.  The shortest player is Florida’s 5-8 Irving Walker.

There are 16 players under 6 feet.  6 teams have no player under 6 feet:  Cincinnati, Marquette, Xavier, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State.  Ohio has two of the shortest players, both 5-9.  North Carolina has two of the tallest players in the tournament: at 6-11 and 7-0.

More Odd Sweet 16 Fun NCAA Fun Facts

Sweet 16 teams come from 10 different states: Texas, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana and Michigan.  In the 2008 election, McCain/Palin only won three of the 10 states: Texas, Kansas and Kentucky.

There are only two teams located West of the Mississippi: Baylor and Kansas.

7 of the teams made the Sweet 16 in 2011: Kansas, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida and Marquette.  4 of the 7 made the elite 8: Kansas, North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.

According to research compiled by the Journal Sentinel, two conferences account for half of the field: Big Ten – Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin; and the, Big East – Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati.  The last time the Big Ten had 4 teams in the Sweet 16 was in 1999.

The lowest seeded team, Ohio (13) beat Michigan from the Big Ten in the second round. The second lowest seeded team, North Carolina State (11) advanced to the Sweet 16 by beating Georgetown from the Big East.

RPI Ratings of the lowest seeded teams left:

(47) Ohio – 13 seed

(49) NC State – 11 seed

(41) Xavier – 10 seed

(30) Florida – 7 seed

(42) Cincinnati – 6 seed

Jim Boeheim of Syracuse at 67 is the oldest coach in the tournament; 39 year old Buzz Williams of Marquette is the youngest coach, based on data from Stat Sheet.

2012 Sweet 16 Mascot Matchups

In the South Region:

Kentucky Wildcats v. Indiana Hoosiers.  Easy.  A enterprising frontiersman or woman Hoosier could easily tame a wildcat.

Baylor Bears v. Xavier Musketeers.  Another easy call.  Key root here is musket. As much as I like Baylor, I like an underdog with an advantage even more.

West Region

Louisville Cardinals v. Michigan State Spartans.  Spartans were great fighters, but not very good small game hunters.  Cardinals are related to the crow family and are loud and mocking, which should drive the Spartans mad.  A mascot upset special.

Flordia Gators v. Marquette Golden Eagles.  Gators can’t fly and don’t feed on eagles as far as I know, so the advantage would have to go to the elusive and majestic over the prehistoric.

East Region

Cincinnati Bearcats v. Ohio State Buckeyes.  A ‘buckeye is a nut. A bearcat is one heck of a weird animal that is neither a bear nor a cat.  Advantage goes to weird animal. Too bad the Buckeyes aren’t going up against the Syracuse Oranges.

Syracuse Orange v. Wisconsin Badgers.  Badgers are simply badass and will pulverize an orange.

Midwest

Michigan Wolverines v. North Carolina Tarheels.  A wolverine is a weasel and could be easily caught and stomped on by a tarheel.  This one is no contest.

Kansas Jayhawks v. North Carolina State Wolfpack.  A pack of wolves.  I’ll take claws and teeth over a beak.

And there you have it.  Some high seeds are going down!

Strange but Fun Sweet 16 March Madness Facts

Here are the seedings of the teams that made it to the Sweet 16:

#1 – 4

#2 – 2

#3 – 2

#4 – 3

#6 – 1

#7 – 1

#10 – 1

#11 – 1

#13 – 1

There are 7 states left: Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Kansas, and 3 cities: Cincinnati, Syracuse and Louisville.

There could be a Final Four matching city and state:  Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky.

The lowest seed totals of teams facing off in the Sweet 16 is 13.  Baylor (3) v. Xavier (10) and NC State (11) v. Kansas (2)

There will be a city-state match up in the East: Cincinnati v. Ohio State.

Of the 7 schools named after their state, 3 share borders: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana.

There are three birds left in the tournament: Louisville Cardinals, Kansas Jayhawks and the Marquette Golden Eagles.

A fruit, Syracuse Orange, and a nut, Ohio State Buckeyes, remain.

All teams with dogs for mascots are out of the tournament. Two cats remain: Kentucky Wildcats and Ohio Bobcats.  By the way, a Cincinnati Bearcat is neither a dog nor a cat.

Happy Sweet 16!