Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Football

Lots of good games going on in college football this Thanksgiving weekend and a trio of duds for the NFL.

The Patriots and Jets, both 8-2, play the 2-8 Lions and Bengals respectively. The Saints (7-3) against the Cowboys (3-7) might end up being a better game than the records would lead you to believe, but I doubt the Saints have too much trouble with the Boys. I like the two AFC East powers and the defending champs to take care of business on Thanksgiving Day. Thankfully, the starts aligned just right to leave us with some great rivalry games and a lot of teams still fighting for postseason positions.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26

#21 Arizona at #1 Oregon
The Ducks are two wins away from playing for the national championship, and Arizona is their toughest test left. Coming off a bye week, the Ducks should be plenty recovered from their 15-13 near loss against Cal. Arizona’s had a nice season, but with three losses in the Pac-10 already, the best they can hope for is to knock Oregon from the unbeatens. Oregon should roll. Oregon 45, Arizona 21

#2 Auburn at #11 Alabama
The defending national champion from the SEC plays host to the prospective national champion from the SEC. Amidst controversy surrounding their all-world quarterback, Auburn has just kept out-scoring everyone this year en route to an 11-0 record. Like Oregon, they are two wins away from playing in the national title game. But unlike the Ducks, both of their remaining games are going to be extremely challenging. Bama would love to knock off their in-state rivals and South Carolina will have a BCS bowl riding on their SEC Championship matchup against the Tigers/War Eagles. The gameplan against Auburn is easy enough to identify even if it’s monstrous to execute—slow down Cam Newton. I think Alabama slows him down enough to have a chance to win. Alabama 27, Auburn 23

#4 Boise State at #19 Nevada
A convincing win on the road against a good team will probably be enough to jump Boise over TCU in the BCS rankings, which would set them up for the title game should Oregon or Auburn lose. I still think Boise’s schedule is severely lacking and I still don’t believe they’d be undefeated in any of the four major conferences (SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, Big 10). But should one of the top two teams go down, Boise has done more to impress me than TCU has. Boise State 38, Nevada 20

Colorado at #15 Nebraska
Nebraska’s 9-6 loss to Texas A&M last week opened up a whole slew of Big 12 title game possibilities. Most directly, it prevented the Huskers from clinching the Big 12 North division. Nebraska and Missouri now have identical 5-2 Big 12 records, with the Huskers holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, having beaten Mizzou soundly in Lincoln earlier this season. With Missouri playing on Saturday, the Huskers could wrap up the Big 12 North before Missouri even suits up this weekend. If they lose, all the Tigers have to do is beat Kansas. Despite Colorado’s drastic improvement since Dan Hawkins was fired, Nebraska is too good to lose at home to such an inferior team. Nebraska 28, Colorado 24

#14 Missouri vs. Kansas
The Border War has seen better matchups then this season is setting up, but that doesn’t mean excitement and intensity will be lacking. Depending on the outcome of the Nebraska game, Missouri could be playing for a spot in the Big 12 Championship and a chance at a BCS bowl appearance. Last time Mizzou was up for one of those, Kansas slid into the Orange Bowl, despite losing to Missouri in the Border War. Missouri 27, Kansas 13

#5 LSU at #12 Arkansas
I’m beyond the point of calling Les Miles lucky. Some of his coaching methods leave fans at a complete loss, but he’s done it and won so often that he has to be considered a good coach. His style is not always pretty and it’s certainly not entirely conventional, but it is successful and I expect him to leave Arkansas with another win. LSU 24, Arkansas 17

#13 Oklahoma at #9 Oklahoma State
While there are some convoluted tie-breakers that could come into play that in clude Texas A&M, for all intents and purposes, the winner of this game wins the Big 12 South. If the Cowboys win, they win the division outright, but if the Sooners win and Texas A&M loses, Oklahoma wins the division. If the Sooners and the Aggies both win, then it creates a three-way tie that would be broken by the highest ranked BCS team – which will most likely be Oklahoma. There’s a chance for Texas A&M, but really, it’s win and you’re in for this game. Oklahoma State 35, Oklahoma 31

#23 NC State at Maryland
Another win and you’re in game. If NC State wins, they clinch the ACC Atlantic division and secure themselves a spot in the ACC Championship. If they lose, Florida State goes. I’d expect Maryland to put up a good fight and a good game to break out. The ACC hasn’t been anywhere near as good as it’s been in seasons past, but there’s still some intrigue left. NC State 20, Maryland 16

Georgia Tech at Georgia
With neither team ranked, the annual matchup between in-state institutions has very little ramifications outside Athens and Atlanta. Georgia must win to become bowl-eligible and a win by Georgia Tech would give them wins against UGA in two of the past three years. Which, given recent history would qualify as a boon. Unfortunately, while both teams have struggled this season, UGA has done so in the SEC, while Tech has forged through a much more navigable ACC run. Georgia 44, Georgia Tech 24

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Fixing Airport Security

The US needs to do a few things regarding airport screening and security.

1) Get rid of the TSA.

When has a government-controlled entity ever functioned efficiently or effectively? If TSA fails in its’ primary function to prevent dangerous people or items from boarding a plane, what ramifications do they face? Hearings and more regulations? Nothing substantial anyways. A majority of TSA agents don’t care if a plane is hijacked because of their negligence. Now that they’re allowed to unionize, they’ll probably keep their job should they make a fatal mistake, or at the very least, keep collecting a paycheck while an endless investigation takes place.

Getting rid of the TSA should be something that becomes a true bi-partisan effort. Republicans would struggle to find an organization that is more wasteful than TSA. For liberals, they have a chance to axe an organization that requires travelers to choose between submitting to a nude body scan or having your genitals groped. Privacy FTL.

Eliminating the TSA shouldn’t lead to a loss of security measures. An airlines’ lifeblood is directly tied to the safety of their passengers and anyone that tells you a government organization has more incentive to continue airline safety and security than the actual airlines is clinically insane. So what should we do? Easy, privatize the security screening process. Make the airlines accountable for who and what they allow on their planes. They have the most to lose should an unfortunate situation develop on a plane (other than families of potential victims).

TSA doesn’t really do a good job at providing security, but rather puts on a rather weak facade that makes passengers feel more secure about themselves. I guess it catches stupid terrorists that use passports made out of construction paper and crayon. TSA confiscates things like guns, bombs, toothpaste, nail clippers, Gatorade and mouthwash and a smart terrorist can easily fool a high-school educated TSA agent. Passports and boarding passes are easily forged. If a terrorist is committed to getting something on a plane, he will. The fact that I got a four-inch flip-blade knife on an international flight to Australia, but had my 6oz bottle of mouthwash confiscated tells you the effectiveness of TSA.

A stupid terrorist will try and bring a knife on a plane. A smart one will improvise and make one once he gets on board. TSA’s 3-ounce rule does not apply to medical supplies – like saline solution for contact lenses. If you bring a bottle of that through, regardless of the size they’ll let it through and onto the plane. And they most likely won’t even bother to check if the liquid inside actually is saline solution.

I’m somewhat surprised that we haven’t heard much from the airlines themselves over these matters. Maybe it’s because the continued existence of TSA relieves them of having to screen their own passengers. All they have to do is scan a boarding pass.

Again, try and think of something constructive the government does better than the private sector. You can’t, can you? The TSA takes a sizable burden off the individual airlines, but at the same time, it sacrifices quality and effectiveness. TSA has the potential to be an effective agency, but they do not have properly qualified people, and they certainly don’t employ experts in security or profiling.

2) Get rid of Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security.

It’s painfully obvious that she has little, if any, knowledge of how an individual in her position should handle her responsibilities. She is severely under-qualified for such a position and lacks even a basic understanding on security of anything, let alone the most powerful country in the world. Kick her ass to the curb and appoint someone with appropriate qualifications and extraordinary understanding of what a position like that requires. I highly doubt a satisfactory individual will be appointed by the current administration. Many of TSA’s shortcomings stem directly from Napalitano’s inept leadership.

And stopping the 7-year old girl makes sense?

3) Start profiling.

Yes, anyone can decide to walk onto a plane with deviant intentions. But there’s one main demographic that markets their desire to kill as many Americans as possible. Every single one of the 9/11 bombers was visibly Middle Eastern, both by appearance and name. Selecting travelers for additional screening at random is a terrible method of trying to find threats. Target people who are most likely to be threats. I’m not advocating letting someone like me waltz onto a commercial airplane without adequate screening, but you don’t have to worry about me causing any ruckus once onboard, unless of course you’re serving Pepsi instead of Coke. Then I might fuss a bit.

I’m more likely to die tripping over my own clumsy feet people-watching at an airport than to die in a terrorist attack. It’s scientifically proven that driving to the airport is far more dangerous than the actual plane ride itself.

Profiling is not politically correct, but few things that are actually worth anything are nowadays. Is protecting a Muslim’s feelings more important than ensuring the safety of air travel? TSA seems to think so. Do I? Probably not. There is one group of people whose goal it is to kill as many Americans as possible – and a vast majority of them don’t look like my grandmother.