Sunday, February 26, 2012

Survivor: One World, Ep.2 - Kat Fight

"I'm not calling Christina out, but there are people here who are here just to be here." - Kat at Tribal Council.

Kat, either call her out or don't call her out. Don't call her out and say you're not. That's something 12-year-olds do.

Kat would go to the voting booth less than two minutes after that ridiculous attack and complain that Nina had called her out at tribal and that she would never do something like that to her. Indeed! Kat only calls out easy targets, like Christina!

I have a feeling Kat's view of what is fair and unfair is really warped.

I don't think Kat has ever played competitive sports, and it showed. When Jeff asked her why is she a good athlete, she mumbled something about water sports. She didn't say anything about playing team sports in school. So, she doesn't have the experience of containing and controlling her enthusiasm and energy in a physical competition. Have you ever seen a kid play soccer or basketball for the first time? Many of them go wild. They can't control themselves. They are so excited they start running around like a chicken without its head. That is what Kat reminded me of in the immunity challenge - unbridled energy that quickly turned into panic. She completely choked.

Jeff had to help Kat with her answers at tribal council. Two of the women admitted they wish they had a different alliance. Kat's closest ally appears to be the toxic Alicia. She might make the merge because of her alliance, but I don't see how Kat has the skills to win this game.

Having said that, I think the alliance made a defensible choice in keeping her. It is their first vote, and you do want to build trust. Furthermore, I don't think Nina brings much to the table. For reasons unknown, Christina is despised - she goes next. However, the alliance might break over Monica. That's when you have to ask yourself if you really want to keep Kat over her. Because, I think Monica is an asset.

Speaking of Monica, she's starting to impress me. She knew not to make a stand for Nina. It's too early for that. She also didn't vote against Nina or the alliance. She voted for Christina. The tribe seemed to realize that she was the one making the smart suggestions during the challenge. I don't think she's in any danger. I can see her working with Chelsea, Kim or Sabrina later in the game.

Sabrina was completely correct in getting Colton out of their camp. He can come in and say hi once in awhile, but his visits have got to be kept under control.

It sounds like Colton is almost in three alliances. When he made the "misfit" alliance in this episode, he said something about making sure Matt and Mike knew he was still with them so they don't get suspicious. Does he have an alliance with the big guys too as part of their plan to gleam intelligence from the girls? Otherwise, who is their fifth person? Colton? Troy? Hopefully, that gets clarified next episode. Colton also wants an alliance with the girls. That makes three possible alliances he is in. He's everywhere.

I thought both challenges were fair. They were winnable for the ladies. They need to get their act together. 0 for 3 is a tough way to start. It looks like they haven't had any bad weather yet, but it's coming. You need wins to get your spirit through the rains.

BTW, is anybody looking for the second idol? It's day five. Let's go people!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Survivor: One World, Ep.1 - Den of Thieves

Lots of unfounded grievances for a first episode. No one knows anyone, yet people are expecting things... How could you steal an axe from our pile?... Where's our chicken?... How could you guys not finish the challenge?... I could really use a hidden immunity idol if you find one!... How can you have made that deal for fire?.... 


I'll try to break down some of these complaints.

I thought the guys (mostly Mike) stealing the ladies' stuff from the truck was fair game. Unlike Russell stealing socks or Julie stealing Phillip's swimming trunks, these weren't personal items. All's fair in...

Similarly, I didn't think Chelsea was under any sort of obligation to hand over one of the chicken's to the guys. I know some guys were saying we'll split what we catch, but it's not like there was a firm, mutual agreement written to paper. Possession is nine tenths of the law, and after the guys had swiped their stuff from the truck, the women had a right to play hard ball. Their mistake was not making a deal before the guy's got fire - which changed the negotiating power significantly. It also prevented an opportunity for the tribes to build some sort of goodwill with each other (aside from Colton's attempts at ingratiating himself with the women).

Anyhow, after refusing to give up the chicken, it's hard for the women to call fowl over the fact that the guy's didn't finish the immunity challenge. That was strictly whining. Please don't ask for sportsmanship hours after reneging on a handshake deal.

Alicia's tribal council attack on Christina was atrocious. There had been several failed attempts to negotiate for fire. Christina actually successfully stole some fire (which went out). Christina then negotiated a decent deal. What exactly was Alicia's complaint? The tribe hadn't agreed to it? Didn't the tribe have a chance to back out if they didn't like it? Did all nine of them put pen to paper when Christina made the handshake agreement with the guys? That deal wasn't in stone. What exactly was Christina's irreversible sin?

Of course, we know Alicia was baiting Christina, and Christina fell for it. Her response ("SHUT UP!") might have been worse than Alicia's illogical attack. I can't think of a scenario in Survivor where screaming "SHUT UP" is good gameplay.

I understand that after 300+ episodes, the crew is running out of ideas for challenges, but the one they designed, while not a widow maker, was almost guaranteed to cause injury. Yes, Jeff said to land on your back with your arms folded on your chest, but it's a race to get out of the pit. People would inevitably put their arms out prematurely in order to propel themselves to the next obstacle. What happened to Kourtney came as no surprise. Terrible challenge.

When I first heard about this season's concept, I anticipated a lot of cross-tribe alliances before the merge. However, I didn't think there would be this much animosity between the tribes this early. I suspect they are planning to remix the tribes after three or four episodes, and the original tribal alliances will break down. We'll see. The only other season to begin as men vs. women was Amazon. After they re-mixed the tribes, original loyalties completely disappeared (the dominant alliance was 2 men, 2 women). However, they hadn't lived on the same beach and have so many opportunities to antagonize each other before the re-mix. I still think groups of men and women will start working together here, but it might not happen for awhile. In the mean time, expect more stealing, mischief and fraternity house pranks as the tribes continue to live side-by-side. But, the person who goes too far with this stuff might really hurt his chances of winning.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Contraceptives or Not, Repealed or Not, the Bulk of Obamacare Can't Be Stopped

This week's clash over contraception comes at a good time for those arguing Obamacare is unconstitutional - no? The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments next month - fresh on the heels of the Administration's use of the law to trample on the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. Doesn't this make it that much easier for Justice Kennedy to strike down most, if not all, of Obamacare? I realize this week's issue is not part of the suit in front of the court and arguments will have to be made along other lines - but still.

And, no, President Obama's so-called compromise yesterday does not end the current dispute. He made a distinction without a difference. It was as if a child clamoring for a later bedtime was told by her placating parent: "Fine. You don't have to go to bed at 8:45 anymore. From now on you can stay up till a quarter to nine." ... Insulting.

The President's non-compromise keeps the story in the news for another cycle so that there is no chance the Justices won't have it fresh in their heads come March. It's almost as if Obama wants the Court to strike it down (and he's giving them additional political reasons to do so). After all, isn't there an argument his re-election bid is easier if the issue of Obamacare is neutralized for independents while its ouster by a conservative court provides red meat for his liberal base? And, didn't the Administration fast track the case so that it could be heard before the 2012 election?

Sure, this week's controversy is hurting him with Catholics, but isn't there enough time for this to be fixed and forgotten if Obamacare is mostly overturned? And, if Obamacare is mostly overturned, can't the President still use what's remaining (and the administrative leviathan that's already being built) to implement most of the left's health care objectives? Let's not forget that Obama recently claimed the right to declare when the Senate is in session and last year became the first president to ignore the War Powers Act. He nationalized the auto industry, why can't he still quasi-nationalize health care with the ashes of Obamacare? In short, does Obama need Obamacare to still implement Obamacare? Does Obama need to worry about the law? [If the Libyan War had been fought in 2008 without Congressional authorization, Speaker Pelosi would have impeached Bush and had him on trial in the Senate quicker than you can say "separation of powers". Obama's violation of the War Powers Act went almost without comment].

Occam's razor suggests the contraception controversy shows Obama's disregard for religious beliefs and a penchant for political gaffes, not an overarching plan for re-election. I'm just noting the ways the current kerfuffle can help him. The left has taken to arguing amongst themselves whether Obama's first term shows genius or incompetence. This week's episode offers support for both sides.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Note to My Liberal Friends

I understand that the right to use contraceptives was established by the Supreme Court 50 years ago. I understand that the vast majority of Americans (including Catholics) support access to affordable contraceptives. I understand that only a small group of people (mostly Catholic clergy) oppose the use of contraceptives. Those are not the issues regarding the current debate. The issue here is who should pay for contraceptives. What the Obama Administration has done is told one of the few groups that oppose contraceptive use to pay for the contraceptives of their employees. Doesn't it seem a tad unfair to force a charitable organization to pay for something that violates their religious beliefs? Isn't there a better way?

This might explain why the Democratic Party is splitting on this issue. Also adding to the fire is the fact that some of the contraceptive treatments the plan calls for includes abortifacients, which opens up more widespread ethical reservations.

Americans agree that people should have access to affordable contraceptives. However, we shouldn't force those who disagree to pay for them if it violates their religious convictions. Framing the issue any other way is a smokescreen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Was This Really the Best We Could Do?

My Democrat friends are very excited that unemployment dipped to 8.3% yesterday. How much of this was due to people leaving the workforce (rather than job creation) is a legitimate debate. However, putting that aside, the recession began four and a half years ago and has been over for almost three. Regardless of who you assign the blame to, the recovery has been astonishingly poor as we approach a half decade of economic doldrums. And, this sluggishness is occurring after $5-6 trillion of deficit spending.

As the 2012 election approaches, there will be many passionate defenses of President Obama's economic policies. It will be argued that he made the best of a terrible situation. The persistent sluggishness will be presented as evidence that what was inherited was awful.

When you hear these assertions ask yourself the following questions: Would you agree to replicating President Obama's economic policies the next time we head into a recession? Is the Obama Administration the blueprint for future economic troubles?

Somehow, I think the answer to both is no, rendering the current defenses of President Obama highly suspect.