Year in Review

Random Thoughts on Random 2012 Events

A little peek at how the hotdog of this blog is made:  often something will catch my eye – a newspaper article, something on the radio, a viral video, etc – and I’ll start a post with my thoughts, observations, and (hopefully) unique spin on things.  For examples of what I mean, I’ll refer you to my posts on Google Goggles, the Penn State scandal, and the alternate uniforms worn by the Nebraska football team.

But sometimes those posts don’t get published.  Sometimes life (work, family, sleep, etc) takes priority, and by the time I get back to it, the moment has passed.  Or I’ll stop working on it because I don’t like where its going or I feel like I don’t have an interesting enough point of view.  At that point, it lingers out in my Drafts folder on the remote chance that I’ll eventually complete it or salvage it for scrap.

However, in light of my all-out, everything must go blitz today, this is a good opportunity for me to clean out some of the stuff I have lingering in my Drafts.  So let’s take a trip back through the year that was 2012, and I’ll quickly give my two cents which will seem oddly out of place several months later (especially where I incorrectly predict that Jon Bruning wins Ben Nelson’s Senate seat).

Fat News Anchor
Recap:  Some guy thinks the local news lady doing the morning show is setting a bad example because she’s on TV, overweight, and has not made any obvious changes in several years.  The anchor (Jennifer Livingston) responds on air, and the video ends up being a virally shared “I wish I’d said that” rallying cry for anybody who has ever felt bullied.  (More info here)

My take:  Maybe I’m calloused by years of reading online comments, but I didn’t really see the “bullying” in the original email.  The worst thing he says to her is that she is that her “physical condition has not improved” over the course of a few years – which she freely admits.  He does not call her fat, obese, or any other nasty playground name, nor is he (in my opinion) mean spirited in his comments.  I didn’t read where he says she needs to be an overly tanned, 110 pound stick with fake breasts to be on TV.  To me, it sure looks like he is saying “You have a great opportunity to use your platform as a TV host to promote a healthy lifestyle, and I wish you’d take advantage of it”.  Maybe he could have provided more suggestions like how the she (and her station) would benefit from chronicling her weight loss journey on air, as it would likely motivate many viewers to do the same, but again – it’s not like his email was cruel, mean, or full of hurtful words.

NFL Replacement Refs
Recap:  The NFL locked out the regular refs for the first weeks of the season, replacing them with guys who were officiating D-II and D-III colleges.  This let to numerous screw-ups, culminating in a botched call on Monday Night Football that cost the Green Bay Packers a win.

My take:

I’ll get the disclaimers out of the way right up front:  I’m not a huge NFL guy.  I don’t watch a ton of NFL games (and what I do watch is more in the form of background noise while I’m doing other things).  Since I haven’t been in a fantasy league for a few years, my knowledge of the game is fairly low – which is to say that it’s probably on par with most Americans.

But this week it has been impossible to not be aware of the controversy and chaos caused by the replacement refs working NFL games.  This week’s Monday Night Football game was (incorrectly) decided on a last second pass that appeared to be intercepted, but was ruled as a touchdown.  Since then, the outrage from fans, players, even the President, has reached a fever pitch.  At last count, SportsCenter had shown the play 12,753 times, completely wearing out two digital copies of the play.

Here are some thoughts I have on the replacement refs:

  • It will be awesome when the “real” refs come back, as they have never done anything controversial, or had high-profile blown calls that impacted the outcome of a game (cough, cough, Phil Luckett*, cough, cough)
  • With the poor way the lockout has been handled, and the negative impact it has had on the league, could it possibly be true that sports’ favorite scapegoat (MLB commissioner Bud Selig) is now ahead of Roger Goddell in popularity and public perception?
  • When the real refs come back, what sort of grace period will they get from fans and the media where mistakes and miscues are forgiven?  I’ll set the over/under at two games (and would likely take the under).
  • Listening to the MNF game, I’m surprised ESPN commentator Mike Tirico didn’t reference the 2006 Alamo Bowl (Nebraska v. Michigan) that was worked by officials from the Sun Belt conference.  In that game, the refs made several questionable calls, and appeared lost on some of the reviews.  Tirico could not stop talking about how the officials from a lower conference were not equipped to deal with the speed of a bowl game featuring BCS conference teams.  Definitely an easy parallel to the replacement refs moving from D-III to the NFL.
  • Ironically, that Michigan-Nebraska Alamo Bowl came down to a crazy, bizarre, rarely before seen, last second play where a number of obvious penalties were missed.

*I had initially planned to just drop in the Wikipedia link for Phil Luckett, but when I googled him to find the URL, I saw this article – Luckett was in the replay booth for the ill-fated MNF game as a league supervisor for the officiating crew.  Geez, this guy has a Forrest Gump-ian way of showing up for controversial moments.  If he ever gets on your flight, I’d suggest walking.

Worseminton
Recap:  In the Sumner Olympics, eight players from four different badminton teams (South Korea, China, and Indonesia) were tossed out of the Olympics for intentionally trying to lose their matches.  And I mean intentionally.  Here is a video of one of the matches where some of the greatest badminton players in the world can’t (won’t) hit the shuttlecock over the net.  When we played badminton in junior high P.E., we were better than these Olympians – of course, we were actually trying.

My Take:  A few days before this happened, I posted a list of Rejected Olympic Events.  One of the events I listed was “worseminton”, which was a punny (and hopefully funny) play on badminton.

I did not think anybody would take it seriously.

Why would anybody try to lose at the Olympics?  Because of how the badminton tournament is set up.  Basically (as I understand it) in the early rounds, teams play a sort of round-robin style.  These teams had already qualified for the next round, and the outcome of these matches would determine who they played in the quarterfinals.  Apparently, the teams figured out that losing would be advantageous to their medal chances.  The event organizers should have been aware of this loophole and should work to ensure the best way to win is by winning, not losing.

And that is why I don’t really have a problem with them trying to lose.  These people train hours a day for four years for the chance to win an Olympic medal.  Twenty years from now, nobody will care if the Indonesian B Team won their 3rd match in pool play.  They’ll care if Indonesia won a medal or not (as much as folks will care about badminton results in 20 years).  So if these teams figured out a (legal) loophole to improve their chances at that medal, good for them.

Where they screwed up is by sucking so badly.  It’s too bad that in all that training, they could not have found time to practice losing in a plausible manner.

MLB Home Run Derby
Recap:  The 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held in Kansas City.  Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees (a team Royals fans love to hate) initially said that he would consider picking hometown slugger Billy Butler for the Home Run Derby, but then left him off the team.  Cano was booed loudly during his HR Derby at-bats, and exited the competition quickly.

My Take:  KC fans were justified to boo Robinson Cano.  Consider:

I guarantee that if Cano does not say anything about including a representative from the Royals, he does not get booed (or at least not that loudly – he is a Yankee, after all).  But Cano opened himself for the abuse by opening the door and then slamming it in the face of the Royals fans.

There was a ton of criticism for how the KC fans reacted which bothered me too.  If this happened in New York, Boston, or Philly, not as much would be made of it, but the media couldn’t understand how the normally charming Midwesterners could do this.  As a Midwesterner, I’ll tell you:  treat us with respect and we’ll return it tenfold.  Treat us like fools and suffer the consequences.

Finally, with this being MLB, there must be criticism for Bud Selig and the commissioner’s office.  One of two things needs to happen.  Either 1) Always include a roster spot for a hometown guy, or don’t put the pressure of picking teams on one of the players.  Take the defending champ, the leaders from each league, and any other blatantly obvious choices (i.e. Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista, etc) who might be left out.

Obama Slow Jams the News
Recap:  President Obama went on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and took part in a bit where he discussed policy (the cost of higher education, in this case) while The Roots and Fallon provided a background of a smooth R&B jam and backing vocals (“He’s the POTUS with the most-us!”).

My Take:  This is an interesting way to take his message to the audience (Fallon was taping at the University of North Carolina that week) that would love it and respond accordingly (instead of CNN, C-SPAN, or some speech).  I like how Obama embraced this and was able to pull it off looking smooth and cool, which is not something you’d see out of pretty much any Republican nominee (save, maybe, Bush Jr.)  Could you imagine Romney, McCain, Dole, Bush Sr, or Reagan trying it?  That would be a different kind of hilarious.

But ultimately, how does Obama benefit?  Sure, he locks up a good chunk of the youth and “hip” vote, but I’m guessing Romney would much rather have the old and “un-hip” vote, as they, you know, tend to actually vote.

Bob Kerrey Runs For Senate
Recap:  When Ben Nelson chooses to retire from the Senate instead of seeking reelection, Nebraska Democrats recruit former Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey to come back from New York City to run.  Why?  Because it is widely believed that Kerrey gave Democrats the best chance to retain Nelson’s seat.

My take:  Politics in Nebraska is kind of like a Harlem Globetrotters game.

The Republicans are the Globetrotters, the seemingly unbeatable team dressed up in red, white, and blue.  The Democrats are the Washington Generals, the hapless team that feigns resistance while the Globetrotters do whatever they please to keep the people happy.  In Nebraska, the Governor, all three U.S. Representatives, and one Senator are all Republicans.  So are Attorney General, Secretary of State, and the majority of state senators.

So Kerrey announcing that he’s going to come back and run for the Senate is both good and bad.

It is good because it means the Senate seat won’t be decided in the primary election.  The Democrats have a candidate with name recognition, experience, and serious potential to win the election.

But it is bad because the best candidate* the Democrats could find to replace the soon-to-be 71-year-old Ben Nelson is a 69-year-old who has been living in New York since 2001.

*No disrespect to University of Nebraska regent Chuck Hassebrook, who decided to run after Kerrey initially declined to join the race, but you were going to join Stormy Dean, David Hahn, Mike Meister, and others in the category of “Sacrificial Democrat Lambs in Nebraska Elections.”

And that is the sad part.

It is sad and pathetic that the Democratic Party has so completely and utterly failed in developing viable, state-wide candidates that Kerrey is the best (if not only) option to have a shot in November.

Look at the Republican Party:  you have some rather established names in the big offices (Heineman, Johanns, Fortenberry, Terry, Smith).  But it is the depth that helps to make them a political juggernaut.  Bruning, Sheehy, Flood, Foley, Fischer, and a couple of other state senators whom I’m blanking on at the moment.  One goes down, two more step in.

This isn’t to say that there is nobody in the Democratic line-up.  On the contrary, there are some very good state senators (Bill Avery, Danielle Conrad, Amanda McGill, and my fellow Gretna Dragon, Heath Mello).  All are doing good things in the Unicameral, and making names for themselves.  Unfortunately, none of them are truly ready for a statewide or national election.  And that failure is squarely on the shoulders of party leadership.

And so I will be voting for Kerrey (mainly because Jon Bruning is a sweater vest away from being Rick Santorum), but I hope the Democrats know and understand that after this election, there will be no more white knights riding in to save the day.

EOY Q and A

One of the blogs I read posted these questions (with a different set of answers, ‘natch) earlier today.  Since I’m a sucker for these Q & A things (and since this is a fairly easy way to get to my 12/31 six pack) here you go…

And you know the drill…feel free to play along if you wish.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Yikes.  First question out of the gate and I’m drawing a blank.  Rest assured there were several new experiences for me this year.  While some were as simple as “I’ve never before uttered the sentence ‘Please do not put that toy in your brother’s pants’.”, others were much more unique.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No resolutions, per se, but I did set some goals for this blog, which is part of the reason why I’m borrowing this questionnaire.  No resolutions planned for 2013.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes – my son’s birth mother.  We haven’t had the chance to meet her yet, but hope to do so when she is ready.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

I did not leave the country this year.  Hopefully that changes next year, as Mrs. Feit Can Write and I would like to spend a few days on a warm beach with cold drinks.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Disposable income.  Sleep.  Rain.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My son was born on March 11, and we got the call about adopting him on March 12.  We flew to Florida the next day, and I held him for the first time on March 13.  The adoption was finalized on June 27.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Being a good dad to my kids.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Hmm…nothing comes to mind.  That means I was either pretty damn good this year or I forget about my failures.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing besides a cold.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I’d like for this to be less materialistic, but since I’m otherwise drawing a blank, I’ll say my new HD TV.  A nice upgrade from my 15-year-old 27″ set.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My daughter.  She has made the transition from only child to loving big sister with surprising ease.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Politicians (of all parties).

14. Where did most of your money go?

Adoption expenses, car payment, and other household bills

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I went from being bummed about a failed adoption to having a beautiful and healthy son – in less than 36 hours.  That’s rather exciting.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

“Home” by Phillip Phillips.  Partially because it is a good song, and partially because it was everywhere.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

It’s like my 2012 was a big meal at an expensive restaurant:  Happier, fatter, and poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Spending more time with friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Changing diapers, washing bottles, other things that keep me away from my family.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Enjoying the magic of the season through the eyes of my four-year old daughter.  She asked Santa for a “big box” and was thrilled to receive it.  Any other gifts were gravy to her.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Yep.  With a handsome black man.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

We finally started watching Modern Family, which is the laugh out loud show that I’ve been missing

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope.

24. What was the best book you read?

A confession – the only time I read books is when I’m on vacation laying by the pool.  Since that didn’t happen this year, I didn’t finish any books.  But I read a number of good articles in Sports Illustrated.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Not really a new discovery, but I still very much love listening to The Nadas.  Do yourself a favor and listen too.

26. What did you want and get?

I got way more than I deserved.

27. What did you want and not get?

I’ve got a pretty big list of things I “want”, but I can’t complain about not getting anything – especially since all of my “needs” are more than taken care of.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We saw a lot of movies this year – which for us is three.  Wreck-It Ralph was easily the best.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I celebrated the 38th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation by spending the day relaxing at home.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Winning Powerball?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

I’ve never previously described my “personal fashion concept”, but I guess I’d go with comfy-casual.

32. What kept you sane?

My wife and kids, Football Saturdays, taking 10 minutes for myself, Jim Beam & Diet Coke.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Are we asking which celebs I have the hots for?  Hmm…there are lots of attractive celebrities, but no one person stands out.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The safe answer is “the entire election.”  Since I don’t feel like stirring up a lot of trouble, I’ll stick with that.

35. Who did you miss?

My Dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

This is a cop-out answer, but I’ll say my son.  I think he’s pretty great.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Don’t get too low – Something good is always around the corner.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Everyone can wake up / To a brand new day / The sky will come alive turning blue from grey” – The Nadas, New Year’s Eve

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