+ In the eyes of his critics "Obamacare" might be perceived as a Pyrrhic victory, but give the president credit for one thing: health care reform is very close to reality. It took months of bitter partisan bickering, but that legislative Stone of Sisyphus finally made it up the hill, and President Obama is thisclose to succeeding where nearly every president since Teddy Roosevelt has failed. Granted, the core of the Democratic Party didn't get everything they wanted (i.e. the public option), though at long last the seeds have been planted to patch up --though not necessarily simplify-- our faulty health care system. The cost of such sweeping reform still worries me, though I'm trying to accentuate the positive: health insurers could be banned from refusing coverage or tweaking rates based on a patient's race, gender, or medical history, and insurance companies will no longer be exempt from most anti-trust laws. Let the endgame begin.
+ The midterm elections aren't for another ten months, but is it too soon to speculate on what's at stake? Keep in mind that voter turnout is generally lower in midterms compared to a presidential election, the majority of voters in said elections are active in their parties' respective cores, and moderates and apathetics are almost a non-factor. Both parties seem to have their issues; moderate and liberal Democrats are still combing through the finer details of health care reform, while "tea party" conservatives seem to be distancing themselves from the GOP hardliners. In the end, it comes down to who's more enthusiatic and who's benefitting most from the status quo. As it stands, the Democrats will almost certainly lose their super-majority in the senate, though I can't picture the Republicans regaining control of either house. Then again, we still have less than a year to decide.
+ I have a late entry to my "best music videos of 2009" list: "Her Morning Elegance" by Israeli singer-songwriter Oren Lavie. Somehow this clip was completely off my radar until a couple days before New Year's. This video was nominated for a Grammy, which gives it additional gravitas. Plus, it inspired a pretty wacky parody. (To anyone that missed by thoughts on the last year in music, click here.)
+ Well, my mercurial second stab at fantasy football ended with a whimper, not a bang, as I finished fifth out of six. I made the bonehead move of editing the league presets and tweaking the schedule --I was the commish, after all-- by having the regular season end after week 15. Had I left it alone, I would've made the playoffs; instead, I tied with two other teams at 7-8, and I lost out because I had the fewest points of the three. (On that note, congrats to Hellfish on his roto championship.) Though fantasy football was a wash, I did marginally better at pro football pick 'em; I finished 10th out of 23 in the TV.com league and third out of eight in my friend's group.
+ A correction to last week's blog: that was a John Deere riding mower on "Mad Men," not a tractor. I humbly regret the error.
+ It's so cold outside, Mark Sanford thought he was standing next to his wife...