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Debate III

Getting ready for the last debate. Watching Section 60, HBO's special on the section of Arlington National Cemetery for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. With all the focus having shifted from Iraq to the economy, the show gave me a little different perspective on the relative importance of the issues. Hey, a lot of people just lost some money, some lost their jobs. Oh no for them!

Before we start this, I know I missed the second debate. Pretty much nothing important was said. And people only remember the beginning and ending of things; the first and last debates are the ones that matter. This is the last debate, the last chance McCain make up a now sizable deficit.

And we begin the LIVE BLOG!

Why can't each guy just get a minute or two for an opening statement? They do it anyway during the first question.

McCain: buying back failed mortgages will be his first priority. McCain want a welfare state where people who can't magage their finances get bailed out by everyone else.

Schieffer: Would you like to ask [Obama] a question? McCain: No. I'd rather just attack him and not give him an opening to respond.

Obama: He's been watching some of McCain's ads. Zing! But seriously, I'm only raising taxes on people making lots of money, because the rich are greedy evil bastards.

Why all this referencing to Joe the Plumber? I didn't see him up there with Goldman Sacs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Merril Lynch, and Morgan Stanley. How's he getting all this free publicity?

Won't some spending have to be cut with $750 billion bailing out Wall Street? -
Obama: I will change some spending to other spending.
McCain: I will build the economy. Nuclear Power! Spending freeze! I oppose subsidies for ethanol. Wow. A specific answer. And one I agree with. That came out of nowhere. I was not expecting that this early.

McCain: "If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." The line of the night. Perfectly played, Senator.

Obama goes back to tying McCain to Bush. You can't do that now. McCain shut that down. You've got to adjust, find a new talking point.

Schieffer: Are either of you man enough to own up to your attack adds and repeat your claims to your candidate's face? Good question.

McCain: Gets defensive, demands apology.

Obama: I also am a coward.

McCain: Brings up Ayers. And ACORN. Really doesn't score any points with it.

Schieffer: Give some ups for your running mate.

Obama: By the way, Biden is pretty blue collar.

McCain: Defending Palin. Straight face so far. She's a maverick. And she has a retard baby.

Schieffer: How much will you reduce foreign oil. Give a specific number.

McCain: We can reduce buying oil from Venezuela by spending more on Canadian oil.

Obama: I also will not answer the question.

Schieffer: Health Care!

Obama: Let people buy into same health care plan as federal employees.

McCain: Follow example of the Veterens' Hospital. He lost me there.

Obama's plan sounds like it would work fine. It might be expensive to taxpayers, but it would work.

McCain: Obama and those Democrats in Congress! (preview of next post)

Schieffer: Nominate judges supporting Roe v. Wade?

McCain: I'd rather not answer. Interesting.

Obama: I will uphold Roe V. Wade.

McCain: I don't know how you vote 'present' on a bill regarding abortion. I usually just am not present.

Schieffer: US Education sucks. Discuss.

Obama: Early childhood is important because our parents are horrible. $4000 credit for service. Sounds good.

McCain: Public schools suck. Let's stop funding them.

Closing Statements!

McCain: I am a Mavrik! You can trust me. I've served my country my entire life. I've never held a real job.

Obama: Bush sucks. McCain is old.

Tom Brokow: The real winner tonight: Joe Wurzelbacher, Plumber, of Toledo Ohio. Let's give him another mention.

Coming up on NBC: people who should have been the VP nominees, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Romney: I may seem to be in denial, but I really am just a tool of my party.

Clinton: I think Obama will actually win so I'd better support him.

Fact Check: McCain has only aired 70% negative ads. Focused primarily on swing states.

The real loser: Every network, for buying into the false assumption that Obama and McCain are the only possible choices. Heck, I can't even constitutionally be President, but technically I am still a choice.


Debate I and a half

It's time for the Veep debates. I, like most of you, will be watching it as one watches NASCAR, hoping to see some crashes, maybe getting to see someone get seriously hurt. *Darn it, everyone else is using the same Nascar metaphor. I thought I was clever.*

Palin says she is part of a team of mavericks. Sarah Palin is not a maverick.

Palin says the economic crisis is not our fault. Yes it is! Why is a crackpot like me the only one with the balls to call America out?

Palin: "I may not answer the questions the way you might like to hear." - I won't actually be answering your questions.

Biden is on the attack early. What's the difference between Biden and a pit bull? One eats its own poop. And is a dog.

Does anyone think Palin's voice is getting annoying? You're darn right.

Biden: I agree with the Governor. The Dems are making an effort to say they agree. Also I think the decision to only refer to Palin as "The Governor" was a good call.

Palin: "A toxic mess on main street that is affecting Wall Street." Perhaps she does have the balls to call out America. Or maybe she doesn't know the words that she is saying.

Ifill transitions from energy to climate. Watch out for her.

Biden: John McCain may be for everything as long as its left up for the free market to take care of it. -What the hell is wrong with that opinion?

Palin: I have gay friends. I'm tolerant!

Biden: Chickens out on redefining marriage.

Palin: "Your plan [for Iraq] is a white flag of surrender." -Wow, when she wants to attack, she doesn't bother with rational debate.

Biden: But enough about what we plan to do, John McCain is wrong. -His debate tactic is starting to get old. If you want me to vote for you, tell me why I should vote for you.

Palin: "I'm so glad to hear that we both love Israel." -What's up with the love-fest for Israel? Do we owe them something? Are the Jews the puppeteer masters of all our politicians? I will stop talking now.

Biden: "I gave the president the power [to go to Iraq] not to go to Iraq... -Still in denial [or was and possibly still is complicit].

Palin: John McCain, who knows how to win a war [or get shot down and taken prisoner for 5.5 years].

Biden: This is the most important election any of you will ever vote in. -I guess I don't need to vote on anything after this one.

Palin: "I think we need a bit of reality [and meth production] from Wasilla in Washington."

Biden: Hey, I'm blue coller too.

Palin: Say it ain't so Joe. Now dog gone it, you mentioned the Bush administration. Talking about the past. That's not the folksy way to do things.

Did Palin say our education is too blass? Did she mean blase?

Palin: "My experience as executive..." You know, Palin is the only one of the four that has any executive experience. Think about that while you are trying to sleep tonight.

Biden: "I led the fight against Bork..." Never mind referencing Bush, but Bork? Not going for the youth vote there, are you Joe?

Note to Palin: Increasing the deficit is not decreasing spending.

Palin: I like talking to America without the filter of [not having the time to better memorize talking points].

Ifill hurt her ankle preparing for this debate? I guess you don't have to watch out for her.

Chuck Todd (NBC) Those watching to see a car wreck were disappointed. -Yep. Neither did too much to hurt [or help] their campaign.

Geraldine Ferraro: Palin did not do anything that would end up on another SNL sketch. And so everyone wins! Because women weren't shown to be intrinsically stupid.

Jon Stewart: "If Bronson Pinchot can do that [lear trapeze in a month] Palin won [will win/will have won] the debate].


Debate I

300 is more than 18. Point to Obama

McCain supports nuclear power. The first thing I support him on.

Obama finally brings out President Bush and McCain's support. He could probably just repeat Bush Bush Bush Bush for the rest of the debate and win easily.

McCain is not Miss Congeniality. Good thing he said that again, I almost confused him with Sandra Bullock.

McCain pumping strategy. I think his strategy is to push his military knowledge. He just said we have already won the war in Iraq. Good news, I guess we're done then.

McCain just referred to himself as a maverick. McCain is not a maverick.

Obama too chicken to take a stand on defunding the war.

McCain likes war and/or nation building.

Obama makes ref. to Green Bay. He likes us!

McCain proposes League of Democracies. While it sounds laughable, it is a great idea I hoped to implement myself. We all know the UN is useless.

McCain having a hard time pronouncing Ahmadinejad. Really doesn't matter, it's a hard name to say. Obama got it though. By the way, I can say it too. Ahmadinejad.

McCain: Iraq is all that matters. Obama: Other things matter. McCain: That is the difference between us and why you should vote for me.

McCain dispensing with the allusions and flat out calls Obama inexperienced. McCain is no fan of subtly.

McCain wrong about Kennedy in hospital. Oh snap!

Watching NBC discussion:
Brokow says I am the most important viewer. Thank you Tom, but I already knew that.

Biden will discuss the debate. Giuliani will stand in for Palin. Why didn't McCain choose someone he wasn't embarrassed to bring out in public?

Were Biden not an old white man, he would have been a good presidential candidate. Giuliani, well, he is an asshole.

Milwaukee is up 5-1. I know what I should have been watching.

Brewers win! And for the debate? Both made their arguments, neither really scored any points. Well, Giuliani loses, McCain loses. Though this was all part of The Plan for the Republicans.

Showdown Brewing

This is an open letter to the Chicago Cubs:

We all know you've clinched your spot in the playoffs. These last three games against Milwaukee don't mean anything. Some clubs might decide they aren't going to worry about the series, and let their starters rest up for the playoffs. However, I suspect that you might like to keep your momentum and beat your division rivals one last time.

But, if you beat the Brewers, what does that prove? It proves what we already knew, you have played very well against the Brewers this year. I'm sure you'd rather face them than the Mets, right? If only you could get to play Milwaukee in the playoffs... If only there was a way you could help get the Brewers into the playoffs...

If the Brewers are better than you, then they will beat you whether you try or not. If you don't want to face them, then you have to beat them, proving you are capable of beating them in the playoffs. There's really only once choice if you think about it as hard as I have.

700 Billion Reasons to stop being complacent

Congress is going to pass a $700,000,000,000.00 bailout of the banking industry. That's a lot of zeros, I know. And we taxpayers are going to have to pay for it. It is going to suck, but it will suck less than if we do nothing and allow our banking industry to collapse.

We are going to pay and it is going to hurt and that is just. This is our fault. We took out loans we could not afford. We did not force our elected officials to do something about predatory lending before it was a problem. This is not the fault of Wall Street. The bank presidents did not lose their own money. They lost our money. We gave them money and we are responsible for that. We bought stock in them, rewarding them for taking on more and more unsafe debt.

Pain is an effective teacher. Hopefully this will teach us something because this is going to hurt bad. We need to be responsible for our personal finances. We can no longer keep spending more than we can afford to pay back. We should not invest more than we can afford to lose. We need to hold our elected officials responsible for doing nothing. Our current presidential administration and any member of congress whose party held a majority in the last six years needs to be held responsible for this miss.

Bringing Cynical Back

After a brief 6-month hiatus, I am resuming/exhuming this blog. Apparently, we are getting close to the 08 Fall national election. Debates are coming up, the economy is going down. The Breweres are choking and the Badgers haven't yet. This is my wheelhouse.

Hopefully my readership has fallen back down to a manageable level. I'd hate to think anyone was actually reading this. If you are reading this, stop. Because once I've explained the problems of the world to you, I will hold you personally responsible if they are not fixed.


Hapy Pi Day


Rerunning for President.

If you've tried to watch TV during the last few months, you've seen the horrible impact of the writers' strike. Good shows like The Office, and House went to reruns and got replaced in the spotlight with 'shows' like American Gladiators and The Moment of Truth. But the effects went much farther than I could have imagined. Apparently, even this year's presidential election is a rerun.

Clinton/Obama vs. McCain is a repeat from the last season of The West Wing.


Santos (Obama) wins.


Primary Thoughts

The 2008 Wisconsin Primary Election takes place Tuesday. If you didn't know that, you really shouldn't be voting. [Where to vote] [What you need to vote]

*UPDATE: I was voter 470 at my polling location at 12:00 today. I voted for McDonell for County Board and wrote in CONDORCET for Presidential Nominee.*

Since I do not belong to or support any existing political party, I plan to vote a blank ballot. I suppose I could vote to support an individual, but the cons of each outweigh the pros. While there are some I dislike more than others, I refuse to vote 'strategically', to vote 'against' someone. You all are free to try to convince me otherwise. These are the choices.

Clinton. Probably wouldn't be bad. She's got the experience. Her Presidency would be a continuation of Bill's. And that is the problem. Out of 300 some million people in America, what are the odds that the one person best suited to be President just happened to have been married to a former President? Do we really need to follow Bush Clinton Bush with another Clinton? And her attempt to get the FL and MI delegates to count is inexcusable. Oh, and then there is this. Don't bother calling me sexist here. To be honest, I hadn't even noticed that she is a woman.

Obama. Full of hope. For the future. He never voted to give Bush the power to go to war. And he has a cool will.i.am music video. What's not to like? Nothing, I have no dislikes. My problem with Obama is that there is just too little for me to actually like. Yes, he is an inspiring speaker to most people. But I don't get inspired by abstract ideas, I want concrete proposals. I know he is just playing the game, saying what he needs to to get support, not saying anything that could lose support. And that is why he does not have my support.

McCain. In many ways, he is the anti-Obama. McCain doesn't talk about hope. He talks of war. He gives details which often make very bad soundbites. And I like that about him enough to forgive him his old fogey moments. Sure there is the john.he.is video, but there is also this one. If this were 2000 again, I would vote for McCain. Unfortunately since then, he has been trying to win over the Republicans who chose Bush over him. He has reversed on his criticism of the religious right. And the man who was held a POW in Vietnam has [edit] supported *not opposed* American use of torture *as strongly as I'd expect*.

Huckabee. First off, I want to disclose that I have disliked Huckabee ever since he blew off my question I asked him early in the election. Clearly, the existential themes of I Heart Huckabees went over his head. I will not vote someone for the most important job in the world if he is incapable of understanding that it is actually meainingless. Sure, he's got the support of Chuck Norris, and Chuck Norris doesn't endorse, he tells America how it's gonna be. But if he hadn't lost my vote already, he would have with this comment last week. He was saying that even though most have assumed McCain is going to win, he is still going to keep fighting. And I respect that. Then he said, "I didn't major in Math, I majored in Miracles." As if that were a good thing. If you want my vote you had best not speak ill of the Mathematics. Also there is this and this and this.

Oh, and Gravel and Paul are still running. You know, the only candidates left who actually oppose the war in Iraq? The most socially liberal candidates of each party? Probably one of which is most inline with your views. They won't win so don't bother voting for either one of them.


We had some snow in Madison today. Maybe 10 inches. Most of the streets on this part of the downtown isthmus are on hills, and the snow and the ice under it made driving up these hills very difficult on some streets, impossible on others. This is not news to anyone, I know.

This afternoon, I saw two cars struggling to get out. I knew I'd feel a little guilty watching and not helping (on Ash Wednesday, no less), so I went out with my roommate and we shoveled him out and pushed him up the hill. Then we pushed the car next to him. Then we started walking back in and saw another car driving up the street in front of our apartment get stuck halfway up. So we pushed him up. Then we dug out and pushed another parked car. Then we pushed a van up the hill. Then we pushed another car. Then we pushed an SUV. Then we hurried inside before another car got stuck.

So after all that, the following seems like a waste.

A police car, stuck in the same spot the two of us had just pushed seven cars through. A second unit there to help. So, do the extra officers get out and push the stuck cruiser?

Not when they can call two tow trucks to do it for them.

Your taxpayer money at work.


With all the excitement over the Packers' win loss later today, I didn't want this local story to drop through the cracks.

The Crappiest Neighbor Ever [the smoking gun].


Iowa's Results

Iowa's Democratic and Republican caucuses took place yesterday. Here are the results. [from CNN]

Obama 37% 16 delegates
Edwards 30% 14 delegates
Clinton 29% 15 delegates

Huckabee 34% 17 delegates
Romney 25% 12 delegates
Thompson 13% 3 delegates
McCain 13% 3 delegates
Paul 10% 2 delegates

What does this mean nationally?

Obama has 16 delegates from IA. Edwards has 14 delegates from IA. Clinton has 15 delegates from IA. Huckabee has 17 delegates from IA. Romney has 12 delegates from IA...

The Primaries in Iowa are over. The other 49 states still have to vote. No one has won yet and no one will win until they have a plurality of the voting secured.

Is a basketball game won by just scoring first? Is a Superbowl won by winning the opening game? Or does winning require sustaining lead to the end of a game, to the end of a season? No matter how far down, until a team is mathematically out of it, they still have a chance to win. There is no mercy rule in politics.

So you can make your analyses about Clinton dropping or McCain rising. Just don't think that what people in Iowa think has to influence how you vote. After all, this is Iowa we're talking about. If you support Paul (and if you're reading this online, you might), then a 5th place finish in one state does not mean you have to start letting the air out of the blimp. If you support Biden (which one is he again?), he's got a ways to go and is going to need all the support he can get. If you support Huckabee (God help you), don't get complacent now. Do not grow apathetic or accept the results that the media tries to force on you. As long as your preferred candidate has not dropped out, you do not need to drop out as a supporter. Why does a candidate run, Herm? You run to win the election.


Playoffs? Playoffs?

Today the first of the BCS Bowls will be played. The BCS looks bad every year, but this year is the worst I have ever seen it. Hawaii, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, and LSU/Ohio State could all make a claim to be National Champions if they win.

Most BCS detractors say they'd be happy with a +1 change. 1v4, 2v3, and the winners play for the championship. But if we're going to fix things, let's fix them right. The only way to compare two teams is to have them play. You can't speculate across conferences. You can't even speculate within conference where teams don't play everyone else.

We first need to reorganize the conferences. Every conference needs to have 10 or 12 teams, split in two divisions. The Big 12, ACC, SEC, Conference USA, and the MAC are already there. Notre Dame has to finally join a conference; if not the Big Ten, then the Big East with Rutgers or Louisville switching over. Each team plays everyone within their division, plus a few from the other division, plus non conference games. There will then be clear division winners, who will play each other for the conference championship. There are 11 Division I-A conferences. The winner of each, plus 5 at large picks, go into a 4 round playoff. Sure, the winner of the Sun Belt probably isn't that good. But there are years when the winner of the WAC, or the MAC, or any of the smaller conferences are better than winners of larger conferences. The only fair way is to let them all in. Whatever team wins out would be the clear National Champion.

A 4 round playoff would also fix a few other problems I have with the current system. For the second year, the Buckeyes will go into the Championship game 50 days after their last game. A playoff would ensure that both teams entered the final game playing at their best. Also, one loss late in the season would not cripple a team's chance of playing in the National Championship the way it does now. Once a team has it's division clinched, it can play back-ups for the final game. Rankings would still have use to determine seeding. Non conference games would be as important as they are now. There would be less need to schedule easily winnable games like there is now. A non conference loss wouldn't matter to the team that won its conference, and the 5 at large picks would go to teams that showed they deserved to be included.

But the Bowls aren't about determining an undisputed champion, they're about making money. I would think, though that the 15 games would generate more combined viewers than the 32 bowls that we have now. (Or was I the only one who missed watching New Mexico beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl?) The games would be held at Bowl sites. And nothing would stop Chik-fil-a from hosting a bowl for two teams that didn't get in. Sure, it would be a meaningless game, but it's meaningless now. I do not understand why there would be any objections to having a playoff. So why does it seem like Jim Mora is running the NCAA? (at 0:44)



Patriots vs. the Giants

Watching the game now. I'll live-blog now and fix the misquotes later. I found the pre-game commentary interesting.
Rich Eisen: This one game, being broadcast on so many channels. It's like the State of the Union.

A football game, a regular season game, one that will have absolutely no impact on the playoffs, and Eisen compares it to the President's State of the Union address. And the biggest difference is, most people in this country will actually watch the game.
Roger Goodell (NFL commissioner): We believe there is fan interest in the NFL Network... [So why not leave the game on just the NFL Network?] This is about giving the fans what they want.

What is Brady Quinn doing in commercials? Did I miss him getting a starting spot on the Browns?

Four minutes into the game. The Giants score on the opening drive and take a 7-0 lead. As *Astro* (not Scooby Doo, Bryant Gumbel) would say, "Ruh row, Reorge!"

Starting the 2nd Quarter, Brady to Moss and the Patriots take a 10-7 lead. The Pats also set the single season team scoring record. Brady and Moss both tie single season TD records. After the catch, Moss is flagged for celebration, the kickoff will be moved back 10 yards.
Gumbel: The penalty was worth it to see the ref try to dance.
Me: Yeah, sure it was worth it.
Seconds later, the Giants' Domenik Hixon runs the kickoff back for a TD. Giants 14-10.

The Giants are up, 28-16. The NFL is doing "Road to Perfection" highlights from the Patriots season. Can't they wait until, say the end of the game, before declaring it a perfect season?

Near the end of the game, after it looked like the Patriots would win, Gumbel asked Collinsworth what going 16-0 means. Collinsworth: They still have to win the Superbowl for this to mean anything, for this to be considered a better team than the Dolphins. Gumbel: But if they don't win, doesn't going 16-0 mean anything? Collinsworth: No.

After the game. Collinsworth [reading from script]: The New England Patriots have gone 16-0, putting them right there with the Dolphins.


MLB Steroid Report Released

The Mitchell Report has been released (pdf), giving the results of Major League Baseball's year long independent investigation into steroids.

And yes, names were named.
Roger Clemens, Miguel Tijada, Andy Pettitte, are among 75 players named.

My initial thoughts:
Most of the players seemed to be from specific teams, but this is because the players were named by three trainers. I doubt they were the only ones providing steroids.

Most of the players named are pitchers. So even if Bonds and McGuire were using steroids, they were facing pitchers with the same edge.

The owners and managers knew which players used steroids.
When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné’s possible use of steroids. In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, “Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?” The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded, "Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff... Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did... Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne...

The Brewers made a very bad decision to sign Gagné unless he has started using roids again.


My Compass Points Out

Bishop Jerome Listecki, Bishop of the La Cross Diocese, has issued a statement to parishoners urging them to not see the Golden Compass. “Instead of using fantasy to lead people to truth and to God,” Listecki wrote, the trilogy of books on which “The Golden Compass” is based “tries to lead them away from God.” Now, the U.S. Conference of Bishops has approved viewing the movie, pleased with the effort to remove most of the anti-Catholicism in the book. I have a bigger question: why is it so bad for Catholics to see anti-Catholic ideas?

If Catholicism is the One True Religion©, then nothing should be able to convince you otherwise. Does Listecki think that his parishioners are stupid, nothing more than sheep who believe whatever they are told without questioning it themselves? Does he believe that children are especially impressionable? Is he not aware of the sad, sad irony?

I understand that in a general sense, this is something many groups do, but it is especially prevalent with religious groups. Why is it so necessary to shelter ourselves from differing views? If you encounter an argument opposing yours, and it makes sense, I think you should consider it. When your beliefs don’t hold up to scrutiny, you really should think about why exactly you believe what you do, and if you can’t justify it, you are an idiot to continue to believe it. And, if your beliefs do hold up, then they will be stronger, reinforced.

In writing this, I can’t help but be reminded of Republican Presidential candidate (and frontrunner) Mitt Romney. Romney has refused to answer any questions about his religious beliefs. For the record, Romney is a follower in the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints; you know him as a Mormon. Mormons have many peculiar beliefs. If Romney truly believes these things, then he should be able to justify his beliefs. Perhaps his magic underwear is a bit too tight, and is cutting off the circulation to his testicles. Either he knows his religion is stupid and is in denial, or he thinks everyone else will think his religion is stupid and he won’t be able to convince anyone that it isn’t (These are the same thing).

Romney is not alone. Most people have never taken an analytical view on their religious beliefs, or their philosophical beliefs, or their political beliefs… When encountering opposing views, instead of engaging them, they retreat and hide. Our President clings to ideas and plans that have been shown to be wrong, insisting that he has always been right. If he could only learn to change his beliefs as new evidence arises, then he could actually be always right. People are afraid to consider that they might be wrong. They never consider that if they are wrong, they can change and become right.

I am not saying that your or anyone’s beliefs are wrong. I’m just asking you to consider it. If you are a devout Christian, go watch the Golden Compass. If you are opposed to universal health care, go watch Sicko. If you support a progressive tax, read Atlas Shrugged. Be open to all viewpoints. If your beliefs change from new evidence, then they have probably changed for the better. You have nothing to lose but ignorance.

Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. — George Bernard Shaw
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile. — Kurt Vonnegut


Big Ten Network

[Note: I began this post a while ago just about the Big Ten Network. I missed 3 Badger football games this year, and I am going to miss many Badger basketball games, so I am not happy with them. I really didn’t care about the NFL Network until this week, when I found out that the Green Bay/Dallas matchup (you know, perhaps the biggest game of the conference this year), will be on the NFL Network and so I am not going to be able to watch it either. So you can replace the Big Ten with the NFL for the remainder of this post because my argument is the same for both of them.]

Hi, I'm Charter Communications, a racist lackey of imperial ruling circles.
Hi, I'm the Big Ten Conference, a badass commie nigger.
Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship.

The Big Ten Network was set up by the Big Ten Conference in August of last year. This year they began carrying games. The agreement with the Big Ten Conference guarantees that each football team is guaranteed to make at least two appearances on the network per year and one of them will be a conference game, and each Big Ten men's basketball team will make 15-20 appearances on the Big Ten Network each winter. Unfortunately for those of us here who would like to watch these games, Charter Communications (which is the cable provider I currently use) and Time Warner have not reached an agreement with the Big Ten Network on how to offer the network to customers. Both the Big Ten and Charter have spent the last year blaming the other for the fact that fans are unable to watch games, and urging fans to call the other and tell them to cave to their demands. Both are in the wrong.

The Big Ten is not a respectable network. It's a whorehouse network, and it has to take whatever it can get.

They are not looking to give fans what they want. They want to increase revenue and increase profile. If they created the network for the fans, they would let the bigger games stay on the networks with more viewers, and just carry the games that would otherwise be left off TV. Instead they made sure to carry games that we would be upset if we missed in an attempt to get more leverage on the cable companies and get more money. The Big Ten is extorting fans by taking games from networks the fans have access to and putting them on a network that some have to pay extra for and others can’t even purchase if they wanted to. If they actually had the fans best interests in mind, they would lower their demands. But the Big Ten, and for that matter, all Big Ten school football programs, are not in it for the fans, or academics, or anything else they always claim are their top priorities. Their top priority is $.

So, I don't think I'll listen to any protestations of high standards of journalism when you're right down on the streets soliciting audiences like the rest of us. Look, all I'm saying is if you're going to hustle, at least do it right.

Charter claims that they want to put the BTN on a sports tier so only those who want it have to pay for it. This makes no sense when you look at the way Charter sells cable to customers. They have a virtual monopoly on providing cable. They can charge whatever they want and we have to take it if we want cable. They can add the BTN to expanded cable and raise the price and we will take it. If they are really concerned with limiting costs for customers and not forcing them to pay for channels they don’t want, then why even have packages? Put everything on an a la carte system and let customers choose which networks they want. What Charter offers is like a movie theater only selling tickets to No Country for Old Men bundled with tickets for Enchanted. Sure, they may only charge the price of one and a half tickets, so they’ll say they are saving you money. But if no one going to see one movie sees the other then the customer is just getting ripped off.

Right now, you are all mad. You go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell "I'M AS MAD AS HELL AND I'm NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" And this is doing nothing. I want you to protest. I want you to riot. I want you to write to the Big Ten and to Charter and I want you to demand that they take actions to fix things. This is what needs to be done.

My suggestion for Charter: Give us an a la carte subscription service. I have no problem paying to get the BTN because I would watch it. I don’t think I need to pay to get Lifetime, or the Hallmark Channel, or Fox News, or Univision, etc. Sure, some networks that most people don’t want would lose money and fold. That is what is supposed to happen. The first company to offer me this is going to get my business. I can even see providers in the future allowing customers to order single shows. The itunes store has shown that the idea works.

And speaking of selling TV shows over the Internet, my suggestion for the BTN is this: Broadcast your games over the Internet. If the Big Ten just cared about making sure fans could see the game, they could do this for free. But because I know they'd never do that, I'd be willing to pay for a subscription to watch the games online. Major League Baseball has already put in subscription services allowing fans to watch games streamed online. This seems like the ideal solution for the BTN as well. Fans that want the games can get them. Those that don’t want to pay extra don’t have to. And the BTN could cut out Charter and take in the revenue directly.

If the Big Ten Network and Charter continue to hold out, keeping us fans from getting the coverage we want, they will be the ones to ultimately suffer. I could care less if Charter folded up. But the Big Ten Network has potential to help the conference and the fans, so I don't want it to become the first known instance of a conference that was killed because of lousy ratings.



I appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of those who are willing to risk their lives on the behalf of my country. I am just sorry that there is ever a need to do so.