The Haphazard Blog

Archive for October, 2009

Jenson Button Will Always be a Tool

by on Oct.21, 2009, under Racing, Sports

With the demise of American open wheel racing, I’m left with one racing series I like: Formula 1. This season has been interesting and uninteresting at times. The changes from last season to this season (chassis, KERS, slick tires) made the beginning of the season a wild card.

The top teams from the previous season, Ferrari and McLaren, were caught off guard when Brawn (formerly Honda) took advantage of a loophole in the chassis specification that let them generate significantly more downforce. With in-season testing banned, it would be a long time before the teams who didn’t figure out the loophole before the season started would catch up.

Brawn and Jenson Button streaked out to win 6 of the first 7 races. People who know me, know that I think Jenson Button sucks. Up to this season, he’s been racing in Formula 1 for 8 years, had 150 or so starts and won one race because of heavy rain. Way better drivers have come and gone. I think the only reason he wasn’t shown the door was he was the most promising British driver when he started and then no one else came along (David Coulthard preferred to be called Scottish). After this season, he would’ve been done. Lewis Hamilton was the man. Instead, he lucked into getting the best car on the grid and built up enough of a lead with those early wins, he’ll win the championship. Predictably, he has fallen right back as soon as the competition put better cars on the road. He can’t even do better than his teammate.

(As an aside, this does give Danica Patrick some real hope. As she continues to hold on to her seat, she may luck into a car that is superior and win as well.)

This Renault mess is interesting. After they fired Nelson Piquet Jr., he revealed that he was told to crash in a race last season to help his teammate win the race. Not the best move on his part to rat out his former team after the fact, a.k.a. pulling an Eric Mangini. If his F1 career wasn’t over before, it is now. The demand for crappy drivers who can’t bring buckets of money with them is non-existent in F1. As expected, the FIA came down hard. Flavio Briatore got the worst of it. Not only did he receive a lifetime ban from F1, but they also banned him from being involved in anything that is FIA sanctioned. And as the cherry on top, they stated no driver he manages will be granted a superlicense to drive in F1.

In the end, I just haven’t been that excited about this season. It started out exciting with underdogs dominating, but it quickly got old as I realized how castrated the sport has become. No one could really catch up over the course of the season. The entire season was won during the off season (and in Brawn’s case, during the previous season when they decided, screw it, this car sucks, let’s work on 2009). With all the limitations, it has hurt the competitiveness in my opinion. I agree there needs to be cost controls, but they are in the wrong places at times.

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Poblano’s Mexican Grill Review

by on Oct.06, 2009, under Dining, Entertainment

We went to Poblano’s Mexican Grill in Wichita the other day. It’s very much like Chipotle. They have a couple more options like Nachos and Quesadillas. And for vegetarians, there’s one other benefit: the pinto beans are vegetarian. (Chipotle’s pinto beans are seasoned with bacon.) It’s a very simple place. You go up, tell them what you want and tell them what you want in it (and how much). You pay, eat and you’re done. So you get your food quickly and are out of there quickly as well. It’s a great place for a quick meal with better ingredients than Taco Bell. Most of the things on the menu are right around $5. It’s a place I like and will definitely go back to again.

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Why is NFL Matchup the Red-Headed Step Child?

by on Oct.04, 2009, under Entertainment, Football, Sports, TV

I really enjoy the NFL Matchup show on ESPN, but I’m sure the ratings bear this out; I think I’m in the minority. The show dives into the X’s and O’s of football. The show currently has a home at 6:30 AM CT on ESPN Sunday mornings. Fortunately we are at a point where many have DVRs so it isn’t that bad. I’ve just observed the time slot/day for the show has progressively worsened over time. I hope the next step isn’t cancelation.

What makes the show most interesting to me is they are able to use the coach’s tape (which is basically inaccessible to the public) to show a more in depth breakdown of football plays.  I wish they devoted 30 minutes to every game. There is so much that goes on in football that simply is not explained to the viewer. For people who really love the game, they present it in a new way that helps you understand what is going on in a given play.

NFL Network has a show they air three times a week for 1 hour called Playbook. They go over the previous week in one show and they cover the AFC and NFC in their own shows for the upcoming week. This show definitely contributes to the fan’s understanding of the game.

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2016 Olympics

by on Oct.02, 2009, under Politics

There is an awful lot of glee that Chicago didn’t win the Olympics today. It’s silly that so much of it is simply because President Obama supported it and went to Munich to make the case.  How many of these people were chanting U-S-A! at rallies within the last year? Now they cheer when the United States is knocked out of the running for the Olympics. The first to declare others are unpatriotic and somehow this isn’t? Completely disingenuous, and I wish I could say it was surprising.

Here’s a thought. Instead of making it all about President Obama you support a completely valid reason to not hold the Olympics here. Hosting the Olympics is getting more and more costly. Unless it is done smart and makes use of much of the existing infrastructure, there is going to be massive debt that will be paid for decades after the Olympics are long gone. Chicago, or any city in the United States, really does not need the international spotlight. The primary beneficiary of the Olympics in Chicago would’ve been politicians getting a very large national stage and private corporations profiting from the actual games and the myriad of projects required to prepare the city for the games. The taxpayers, both locally and nationally (I’d expect some type of federal stimulus to help fund this), would’ve borne the cost of it.

This is really the main reason politics, especially at the national level, drives me nuts. There is so much disingenuousness when they speak. This would never happen since the people who would actually need to make it happen are the ones that would be affected, but in an ideal world, “we the people” would vote in the people who would fundamentally change the way congress operates.

  • Term limits (1 for Senators (6 years) and 2 for Representatives  (8 years)) to reduce or eliminate conflicts between legislating and securing money for re-election
  • Reduction in salary to the average salary in the United States as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted for inflation annually ($43,362 in 2005). They represent their constituents and should be paid more like their constituents.
  • Eliminating political action committees (PACs). PACs are ways for companies to get around (somewhat) election contribution laws. In addition to being able to contribute to candidates, they can campaign for them as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidate.
  • Further reducing the per-person yearly contributions. The gap is still rather large between a typical small donation and the maximum limit of $2,300 ($4,600 per couple). If the limit is lower, there is less of an incentive to cater to high money donors and more of one to reach individual constituents.

I think actions like this would tip the scales back to the people away from lobbyists and special interest groups. I’m sure they’d find other creative ways (jobs after their terms end?) to try and push their influence, but it would be nice to start somewhere. When you have Senators admit so freely that they let lobbyists write legislation and there is little outrage, I think it’s evident that “we the people” are more than likely going to get the short end of the stick while a minority benefits the most.

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Breast Cancer Awareness and the NFL

by on Oct.01, 2009, under Football, News, Sports

This week I’ve read and heard from writers and commentators some variation on “real men don’t wear pink” in reaction to NFL players who will be wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness this month. To be fair, they also commended the NFL and players for doing it. I’ve never been accused of going out too much, but do any of these people get out, watch TV or look at magazines? I see men wearing dress shirts and ties that either contain pink or are all pink. Even on air people at ESPN will have some pink in their shirts or ties at times. I know I’ve seen Tom Brady wearing stuff with pink in it during post game press conferences. Now it’s some big deal for players to wear pink cleats or gloves. I think we’re quite a bit beyond “real men don’t wear pink”.

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