Sunday, November 20, 2005

On the NCAA's recent Illini verdict

I must give the Bloomington Pantagraph props for pointing out that Illinois is no different than Florida State's Chief Osceola except Chief Illiniwek has no Illini tribe to ask for support.

It's a good sensible editorial, at least according to my Fox-descendant hubby. Incidentally, he's not one you really want to get started on this subject, although it might make for an entertaining guest blog someday.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Privilege, Sam's Club & Pro-Family Policy

I noted several months ago that I'd been reading Ross Douthat's book Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class. It's a highly entertaining, somewhat insightful book that I'd recommend as a look at contemporary college life and snootiness within the Ivy League dwellers. A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a piece he wrote with Reihan Salam called "The Party of Sam's Club: Isn't it time Republicans did something for their voters?". I'm convinced it's one of the more insightful conservative policy-related pieces I have read lately.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" conservatives. I realize that economies are cyclical, but I also agree with their point that recent research has indicated that Americans' incomes are not keeping pace with inflation at the moment. Paychecks aren't going as far these days. Lost manufacturing jobs are often replaced with more low-paying service jobs, and this is ultimately causing economic uncertainty for the middle and working class. While I support free market economic policies and think ultimately the entire world will be better off with them in the long run, I understand that American families right now are concerned about making ends meet for housing, food, transportation, paying for college tuition, and saving for retirement.

I won't waste time summarizing it in depth, but the basic jist of it? Given the political landscape at the moment and the fact that Bush seems set on remaining a "big government conservative", why not develop a coherent and sustainable "pro-family" agenda for the second term? Don't dwell on class warfare, but instead provide family-friendly assistance such as generous tax-credits related to child rearing, market-friendly health care reform, discouraging illegal immigration, and changing our approach to taxes. I lack the time to do it justice analysis-wise, but it's definitely worth a read for political wonks.

(And yes for those of you who are wondering, I'm technically online to do research for paper at the moment. Hence two posts tongiht. Obviously I'm being very productive...sarcasm intendcd)
One down, three dozen to go

Yes folks, it's college basketball season again! I couldn't let Illinois's first regular-season basketball game pass without comment. Earlier this week, Mark Tupper ran a commentary on the swagger that Dee Brown was hoping to see from Augie and the younger Illini-men. That article noted that Augustine had the attitude in several key performances last year, particularly in the Big Ten Tournament and early NCAA games, where he did just that.

My husband and I were at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for the games against Farleigh Dickinson and Nevada, games in which Augie played like a man on fire. He had the superstar treatment that night -- the crowd roaring and chanting his name the whole evening -- and he seemed to revel in it at the time. That was one of the things that made his lackluster play later in the NCAA tournament even more confusing and disappointing. But the guy seems to have a good attitude though it all. I can't help but dig him.

That said, I was greatly encouraged to hear about Augie answering Dee's challenge and "playing with swagger" in Illinois's 90-65 win over South Dakota State last night. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch the game, but Mark Tupper has the high and low lights. Here's another take from the Herb Gould at the Sun Times as well. It appears that Shawn Pruitt and Rich McBride were pretty impressive in their first starting performances, while Dee Brown had some lackluster play most of the night.

But overall, Tupper notes that it was far from perfect but a decent start. They don't have last year's rhythm down, the motion offense isn't gelling yet, too many turnovers and not enough assists. Obviously they aren't going to be last year's team. They aren't going to go 37-2. They are going to lose, and my couch will have to adjust to more abuse from my husband. But I really enjoy Bruce Weber, his style, and the attitude he's imparted into his teams. Somehow, I have confidence in this coach. I expect to see them overachieve and eventually surpass expectations...but it may take some time. Until then, it should be fun to watch!