Posted in sports, tagged Big Ten, Big Ten expansion, Buckeye football, college football, michi, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Michigan-Ohio State, Ohio State vs. Michigan, sports on January 11, 2010 |
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Here’s an interesting interview with Illinois’ Athletic Director about the possibility of Big Ten expansion. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I think it means, at minimum, that the conference will be selective in considering expansion options — and, from all appearances, it can afford to be choosy in that regard.
The single most evocative comment in the interview, in my book, is about expansion likely being in contiguous states. Any requirement along those lines would eliminate Texas as a candidate — not matter how persuasive the arguments of Frank The Tank may be.
I continue to prefer the Big Ten as it is. It has the tradition, the spectacle, the bands, the stadiums, the rivalries, and the money — everything that other conferences envy. And, its football season ends with the greatest rivalry game in all of sports: Ohio State versus Michigan.
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Mark McGwire has admitted to using steroids.
As amazing as it is that an acne-riddled, balding, pumped up baseball player could have been taking steroids, it will be even more amazing if organized baseball does something about McGwire’s admission.
Baseball is a joke, and it will be a joke until it actually addresses the substance abuse issues that seem to be lurking behind so many star players.
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Yesterday I went for an afternoon walk and saw quite a sledding exhibition. It occurred on the hill behind the first tee on the North nine at New Albany Country Club. It is a good sized hill, not too steep but with a long incline. Conditions were excellent for sledding, with firmly packed snow underneath, a light dusting of new flakes drifting lazily down, and temperatures in the 20s.
I would guess that 20 to 30 people of all ages were sledding when I happened by. The hill featured just about every imaginable kind of sledding device, including toboggans, saucers, metal disks, molded plastic sleds, flat sheets of plastic, snowboards, sit skis, and Flexible Flyers. (For my money, the best sled for such conditions is a vintage Flexible Flyer, with the runners coated with candle wax or a non-stick spray. When the snow is well packed and able to bear the weight of the Flyer’s metal runners, you can fly down hills and steer, besides.)
Parents were perched atop the hill, where they would give their kids a push and then jog down the slope to help the kids lug the sleds back up to the top. The kids were dressed in a riotous display of winter gear. I saw fur-lined hoods, snowsuits, goggles, elbow-length gloves, long stocking caps, ski wear, and colorful scarves. As the kids skimmed down the hill and tumbled into the snow at the bottom, their shrieks of delight filled the air.
Sledding conditions can change quickly, and optimum conditions don’t come very often. Yesterday, the conditions were just about perfect.
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I commend the Obama Administration for quickly making available a summary of the initial findings about the unsuccessful attempt by the U-Trou Bomber to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day. A copy of the report if available here. It is sobering, and troubling, reading.
After I read the report, the main question that came to my mind was: “What do government bureaucrats do during their workday, anyway?” The summary report states that there were multiple agencies that bore some part of the responsibility for the failures that allowed Umar Abdulmutallab to board the Northwest flight with a United States visa — despite his father’s explicit warnings about Abdulmutallab’s apparent radicalization and trip to Yemen, despite the fact that Great Britain had refused him a visa, despite the fact that he paid for his ticket with cash, and despite the fact that he boarded the plane without checking any luggage. It seems clear that the lower-level employees charged with collecting and communicating such bits of intelligence did their job and got the relevant information into the system. At that point, however, the ball got dropped.
This suggests two levels of failure. First, the people who were charged with “connecting the dots” failed to do so. That failure is unfortunate but is at least understandable, because humans obviously can make mistakes. The more unacceptable failure, in my view, is of those bureaucrats whose jobs give them a more high-level view of the overall homeland defense process. Those individuals should have recognized the risks posed by the byzantine, divided nature of the system in which different government agencies perform different functions that relate to the same overall issue of who is permitted entry to the United States. The existence of multiple agencies looking at different pieces of the puzzle obviously raises the prospect of coordination and information-sharing problems. Why didn’t someone see those problems as, in fact, problems and take steps to cure them by consolidating the work? Why didn’t one of the supervisory bureaucrats establish some kind of check function to make sure that appropriate analysis of the data, and that coordination with other agencies, was being properly implemented? Why didn’t those in charge of the agencies push for the kind of computer search engine capability that would allow our intelligence agencies to sift through mounds of data about particular individuals as quickly and thoroughly as a Google search?
Logically, addressing these kinds of questions should have been the principal responsibility of multiple people at the various agencies with a role in homeland protection. They clearly didn’t properly discharge that responsibility. What were they doing, instead? Were their days devoted to bureaucratic infighting, to preparing CYA documentation, to coming up with attempted spin to counter criticism of their agencies, or to other political activities? These are the questions that, I hope, ultimately will be answered as the government takes a deeper look at the failures that allowed the U-Trou Bomber to come so close to achieving a deadly terrorist act on Christmas Day.
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