Sunday, April 20, 2008

Choices Families Make

Warning. This is a sad story: When a baby is destined to die. The families chronicled in this story made a tough choice. I'm glad that they were able to make it -- that they weren't forced by their government or their doctors to make a choice that wasn't right for them. This is what freedom of choice is about.

If you think you know the choice they made, you might not be right.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Memories Remembered and Forgotten

One more post, almost on the Kansas Jayhawks. My last post was about the Jayhawk Men's basketball team winning the NCAA Championship this year, but also about my memories of the 1988 championship.

Tom Keegan, the Lawrence Journal-World Sports Editor, wrote a great article about memories -- and Alzheimer's. There's a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association (Heart of America Chapter) this weekend in Lawrence.

"If the family curse hits me before that cure is found, the day will come when I forget the highlights I witnessed from press row these past couple of weekends


"For many who attend or attended KU, those memories will endure for as long as their minds stay clear.

"My favorite memory was born when I was a senior in high school. I watched from the den of our Rochester, N.Y., home as Marquette defeated North Carolina in the 1977 title game, sitting alongside my father, who took calls from two of my brothers, then Marquette students, after the game. With fingers crossed, I hope I remember that until the day I die. Seven-plus years after that night, the effects of Alzheimer’s began stealing my father’s mind. Thirteen long years after that, he moved onto his eternal reward."

Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World Sports Editor
My father-in-law has Alzheimer's. It's rough. I'll leave it at that for now and let Tom's words speak for themselves.

It's rough.

Thanks for your post, Tom. And, to those who donate, thank you too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rock Chalk, Championship!

Every year, I predict that my alma mater, the Kansas Jayhawks will win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Once every twenty years, I get it right.

In 1988, it was Danny and the Miracles. It wasn't long after I met my future wife. I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Jayhawks play in the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight in the Pontiac Silverdome. Tickets weren't nearly as difficult to come by then as they are today, and I had gotten two in the KU section, so I brought a friend to both games. On Friday, March 25th, I watched KU defeat Vanderbilt and Kansas State defeat Purdue. The Jayhawk and Wildcat fans were all very cordial -- most fans cheered on both of the Kansas teams. On Saturday, I had to travel to attend a wedding with Emily in Kalamazoo, then I headed back Sunday morning to watch KU vs. K-State. The K-State fans weren't nearly as friendly at this game. A week later, I was in Minneapolis with Emily during the semifinals and dragged her and a friend of hers to a pretty empty sports bar to watch KU beat Duke (it's a pretty good sign when the woman you love goes with you to watch your team play basketball). And, of course, in the incredible final game, KU beat Oklahoma, who had beaten them twice earlier in the season.

This time around, I watched the semifinals and finals with my family. And, once again, the final game was amazing. During the last eight minutes and the overtime (and particularly the last two minutes of regulation), my wife and kids were as tense and as loud as I was. It was great to share it with them.

When you add in the triple-overtime loss to North Carolina in 1957, it seems to me that Kansas has been a participant in three of the most exciting NCAA finals ever.

Roch Chalk, Jayhawk! Go KU!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Live Politics

Yesterday, I was an Obama delegate to the Democratic 48th Legislative Caucus here in Washington. On my dev blog, I wrote about problems voting without much technology (An Exercise in Democracy, Real World Bottlenecks). A few interesting observations on the caucus itself ...

The Pledge of Allegiance. I don't stand for the pledge and I don't say it. This is my small way of protesting the unconstitutional inclusion of the phrase "under god" (see this brief (PDF) for some background -- I'll write more about that some other time). So, I've observed the pledge being said many times. This time, when the pledge was recited, I witnessed something I'd never seen before -- the entire room stumbled over "under god." Part of the room (I believe a minority) said it, part of the room paused for it but didn't say it, and part of the room went right on to "indivisible."

Politics is Slow. Almost everything done during the day took way too long. We all checked in relatively smoothly, but there was a huge delay until the registrations were counted -- apparently everything had to entered into a single computer, with a single person entering data. Given that everybody had been waiting for hours, there was a big dispute when it came time to do what we all came to do -- vote for candidates to be delegates to the county convention. The original plan was one minute per candidate, which probably would have taken an hour and a half. Some people wanted no vote (most candidates had already posted a written statement, which many of us had already read). Since we all finally had a chance to say something, rather than just sitting around and waiting, it was contentious. The compromise (after more than 15 minutes and three motions and votes) was an intro plus 10 seconds per candidate. Unfortunately, because I was the one who proposed the 10 seconds, I got appointed to be the timekeeper.

Stump Speeches. Because there was plenty of time to be filled, we got to hear each of the candidates talk. Darcy Burner spoke about her campaign for congress. Most interesting fact I learned: I knew that Dave Reichert was very conservative (despite his claim otherwise), but I didn't know that he was against birth control. I researched this afterwards and, yes, it's true. He thinks pharmacists shouldn't have to fill birth control prescriptions. If you want to help this country move forward and you're in Washington's 8th Congressional District, vote for Darcy. Better yet, donate money.

State Representative Ross Hunter discussed how important health care and health coverage are and he lamented that so much of what needs to be done to address today's problems can't be done at the state level -- it has to be at the national level, through the President and Congress.

People Care About America. Everybody I talked to, from State Senator Rodney Tom and Ross Hunter, to local organizers, to all the people with both Obama and Clinton signs, had a lot to say about the sorry state of the country and the need for drastic change. There was (mostly respectful) disagreement about the best candidate, but no disagreement about what's at stake in November.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

The Jayhawks are in the Final Four! (for the 13th time)

Stephen Curry was very impressive in the finals of the Midwest Regional. As a KU fan, the game was agonizing to watch, though I suspect the agony felt by Davidson fans turned out to be a bit more acute.

This week, it's a bit frustrating to read all the articles about Roy Williams. If any members of the press are reading this -- it's the players who play the game, not the coaches.

I thought Roy was a fine coach (and, hey, I liked his name). I thought he did a lot for KU, but I felt he was never a closer -- that he wasn't the best bench coach in a close game. I think Bill Self is better in that regard. But, I've always disliked North Carolina and Duke (and UCLA and a few other teams). For me, the only difference with Roy Williams being at Carolina is that I now root for the Blue Devils over the Tar Heels instead of vice versa.

My prediction: KU vs. UCLA in the finals. KU by 6.

Bear in mind that I totally crapped out in my bracket -- I had Kansas, Duke, Tennessee, and Texas. At least I had Kansas right and hopefully I have them right again.

Go KU!