“Student” athletes

I get that the NCAA tournament is a really big deal for the universities that get to participate.  But do the “student” athletes really need to miss two entire days of school for a basketball game?!  This photo is from the NC State basketball team at 9am yesterday, flying to Dayton, Ohio  (I’m guessing about a 2 hour flight) for a 9pm game today.  I know it’s not this bad for regular season games, but even then it seems that teams regularly leave the day before for 7 and 9p games.  How that is compatible with being a properly functioning university student is beyond me.  Maybe UNC has it all figured out.

Photo(s) of the day

Really great Animal Photos of the Week gallery from the Telegraph.  Too hard to choose just one.

Red pandas confront each other in Spaulding Children's Zoo.
Red pandas confront each other in Spaulding Children’s Zoo. The arboreal mammals are renowned for standing on their auburn coloured hind-legs for up to ten seconds to make themselves appear larger – prior to using their sharp semi-retractile claws on their front paws to defend themselves.Picture: ChengLun Na PhD/WENN
A group of inquisitive Gentoo penguins amble up to photographer Craig Jones' camera at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands
A group of inquisitive Gentoo penguins amble up to photographer Craig Jones’ camera at Volunteer Point in the Falkland IslandsPicture: CRAIG JONES/BARCROFT MEDIA

How to score goals in hockey

Take a time machine and go back before the butterly approach to goaltending took over in the 1990’s.  A few weeks ago, I gave a quick hit link to a great story on how the Finns have come to dominate goaltending using this approach.

Now, there’s more on the matter from my new favorite website (Nate Silver’s new 538— just wow.  Expect to being seeing a lot from here.  Completely in my stats nerd journalism sweet spot).  Great article about how Wayne Gretzky had it so much easier scoring most of his goals before the butterfly style was popularized.  Yes, he was great, but you can definitely see how hockey goalkeeping has dramatically improved.

Compared with today’s game, you can really see the difference in goaltending technique (notice how many of the goalies tried to stop Gretzky’s shots without dropping to the ice). Modern goalies are more athletic and mobile, and, yes, their pads are plainly bigger. But they’re also using a style much more grounded in the probabilities of where pucks are shot.

How Democratic politicians should talk about Obamacare

I am totally with Jon Cohn and Paul Begala on this:

And with Republicans making Obamacare the focus of their midterm strategy, many Democrats have been responding with a mixed message: Acknowledge the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but vow to fix them rather than repeal the whole program. That seems to be roughly consistent with polls, which suggest the majority of Americans don’t like the health care law but the majority also don’t want to get rid of it.

But nuanced messages have problems, even if the nuances reflect public sentiments. A politician who starts with backpedaling (“Yes, the law has problems, but…”) is bound to sound weak. And weak politicians don’t generally make attractive candidates…

Of course, I could be totally wrong about this. I know policy, not politics. But it appears at least one prominent Democratic strategist is thinking along the same lines.

The strategist is Paul Begala. In an interview with the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who has become the go-to source for insights into liberal political strategy, Begala gives Democrats some blunt advice: “We should flip the wording of how we talk about Obamacare. Open on offense, instead of defense.” That would mean starting the conversation by reminding voters what Republicans propose to take away—like guaranteed insurance, even for people with pre-existing conditions, and extra assistance on Medicare prescription drugs. “That’s point one,” Begala says. “Then you say, ‘look, I’m open to working with everybody to fix the law. But I’ll never let them go back to the days where insurance companies could send letters saying your coverage has been cancelled because you have a pre-exisiting condition.”

Does this approach create its own problems?  I suppose.  But it sure seems better to me to embrace this approach than to try and run away from Obamacare which you simply cannot do if you are a Democrat, no matter what you say.

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