Monday, November 30, 2009

As my head explodes....

....Just for my birthday, Marian Gaborik scored tonight to become the first player in the NHL this season to reach 20 goals. Then, just for good measure, he scored his 21st later in the period. See the magical hands in action here.

That's 240 goals in his career...just five more and he will already have scored more than 10% of his career goals as a New York Ranger, despite playing for them just two months. As mentioned in the post last April 9, in 10 years no one will remember that one of the best players in history was ever a member of the Minnesota Wild.

It's killing me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Have they turned a corner?

The first 20 or so games of the Wild season didn't give us much to cheer about, nor much optimism about the season. It wasn't just that they had the second-worst record in team history after 20 games, it was also the fact that they didn't look energetic, they didn't look cohesive and on most nights the on-ice product was downright ugly.

There were some injuries - most notably the concussion that has kept Pierre-Marc Bouchard out of the lineup for all but the first game of the season - and there obviously was going to be a period of adjustment to the system of new coach Todd Richards. But none of this seemed to explain the dull, listless team that blew a lead and lost at Tampa, lost three days later in Carolina, and lost again three days after that at home to Phoenix. There wasn't much energy inside the X, and there was even talk of the benefit of having a horrible record so we could get a high draft choice.

But after that Phoenix loss - which was one of the most unwatchable games ever played in the Xcel Energy Center - something seemed to happen. On Friday the 20th, they earned a gritty win over the Islanders, when Owen Nolan scored late in the game. Over the next couple of days, they picked up center Andrew Ebbettt off of waivers from Chicago, and then traded away Benoit Puliot for Guillaume Latendresse. Also, Chuck Kobasew came back from an injury. And something about the chemistry of the team seemed to change.

We'd been hearing since training camp that the Richards system encouraged aggressive forechecking, with all three forwards free to go after the puck-carrier, as opposed to the Jacques Lemaire system of the first eight years, which relied more on a single forechecker and tried to disrupt the other team's attack as it moved through the neutral zone. But for 20 or 22 games, we didn't see much of that.

But over the past four games, it's starting to happen. Wild forwards are crashing hard in the offensive zone, forcing turnovers and creating chances. The defensemen are getting more integrated into the attack and the Wild have had long stretches of puck possession in the offensive zone, something we saw little of in the Lemaire years. Ebbett scored in his first game. Kobasew had a hat trick against Colorado, and Latendresse scored the tying goal tonight in Denver. Suddenly the team is creating a lot of quality chances.

And yet the defense isn't suffering. The night before Thanksgiving, they held Boston to just seven shots through two periods, and tonight they held Colorado to 22 shots in a shootout win at the Pepsi Center. They have three wins and an OT loss in their last four games (seven out of a possible eight points) and suddenly there seems to be a good vibe around the team, even though Martin Havlat, Brent Burns, Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky are all injured right now.

It might just be an illusion - we tend to do well against the less-physical Eastern Conference teams, and the Avalanche are having struggles of their own right now - but I think there's a chance this team is much better than it showed the first six weeks of the season.

December's schedule is brutal - 16 games in 30 days, nine of them on the road - and so we'll do another reality check around New Year's Day, but right now I'm cautiously optimistic that this group can climb back into serious contention for a playoff spot.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Now THAT'S a promise!

Perhaps I didn't realize just how much was at stake in the Senate health care debate. Now, thanks to the Sen. Harry Reid (D-Candyland), I finally understand why everyone should be supporting this bill. This is from his Saturday night floor statement:

"Today we vote whether to even discuss one of the greatest issues of our generation - indeed, one of the greatest issues this body has ever face: whether this nation will finally guarantee its people the right to live free from the fear of illness and death, which can be prevented by decent health care for all."

Imagine that: The United States Senate can make it possible for all of us to live free from the fear of illness and death. Had I known about the immortality option when I worked in the Senate, I would have signed up for it right away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Birthday(s)!

I just learned that the first issue of National Review was published 54 years ago today. At that time it was an invaluable tool in the fight against communism, and today it remains a fascinating source of news, opinion and entertainment, arriving in my mailbox every two weeks. If you don't subscribe, you should, and you can read the daily offerings at

This means my favorite magazine shares a birthday with my youngest son. William Mays Droogsma turns 21 today, and I'm pleased to report he's a brighter, harder-working and more responsible 21-year-old than his father was (although that bar isn't set particularly high). I have no doubt he'll stay that way.

An Inconvenient Clown

Unless you've been living under a rock the past eight years you've probably been subjected to the girly shrieks of Al Gore, warning us that the planet is about to boil over, the seas are drying up (or flooding the planet...the message seems to change) and polar bears are being forced to live in public housing, or something like that.

Alarmism has been a good racket for Gore, who stands to become the world's first "carbon billionaire," as outlined in this New York Times article.

Al had a few moments last week to face the challenging questions of noted scientific expert Conan O'Brien, and the two of them got off on a little exchange that demonstrated the depth of Al's knowledge of the earth. Conan asked about the possiblities of geothermal energy - harvesting the heat from the earth's core - and Alvin jams enough mistakes into the discussion to make a middle school earth science teacher cringe. First, he asserts that the temperature of the earth's interior is "several million degrees:

AL: People think about geothermal energy - when they think about it at all - in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, 'cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot...

Then he agrees with Conan's assertion that two miles down is "drilling deeper than we've ever drilled before," and expresses wonderment about new, state-of-the-art drill bits that "don't melt in that heat."

You can see the segment here.

First of all, the earth's core temperature is nothing near "several million degrees" hot. Most scientists estimate the core of the earth to be at about 5,000 degrees, while some say it's cooler, and some groups assert it may be as hot as 9,000 degrees. For comparison's sake, the surface of the SUN is about 6,000 degrees (though it reaches millions of degrees near its core).

Quite a stretch from "several milion degrees."

(Imagine for a moment that George W. Bush, Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney had asserted that the earth's core temperature was "several million degrees." A snarky story would be on the front page of the New York Times the next day.)

Secondly, there is nothing magical or cutting-edge about drilling two miles deep into the earth. The deepest hole ever drilled is something called the Kola Borehole, a Soviet project that managed to drill more than seven miles into the earth's crust. That was in 1989 - TWENTY YEARS AGO - even before we put a goofball like Gore a heartbeat away from the presidency.

And, appropos of this discussion, the temperature seven miles below the surface was about 356 degrees. Not quite "several million degrees."

That Gore is taken seriously by anyone is amazing;, That he was given a Nobel Prize for his "work" would be even more amazing, but of course we've recently learned that Nobel Prizes can be won by almost anyone, for almost anything, as long as they hold politically correct viewpoints.

Coming on a future blog post: The day Al Gore and I discussed global warming while he was riding in the back seat of my car. (Really, it happened. You're going to love the story.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A peculiar sense of "justice"

Great Britain is an interesting study these days because, frankly, the country seems to be falling apart, and doing so because of so many self-inflicted wounds.

What makes it interesting to watch is that so many of the things that are ripping British society apart are things that we think could never happen here. Yet, that's exactly what the British thought 20 or 30 years ago, but here they are, with political correctness run amok and chapter after chapter of silly laws that are turning British society into a laughingstock.

There are areas of the London suburbs - called "Londonistan" because of the dense Muslim population - where British police will not go, and where they have been told by the local Islamists to stay out because they, the Islamists, will govern that area under Sharia law.

Last March I linked to the story of a British grocer, who gave his customers the option of making their produce purchases in metric measures - liters, grams, etc. - or buying them in gallons, ounces, quarts, etc., also known as the "British" system of measures. He was prosecuted and convicted because it's been made illegal in Britain to use British measurements.

Now comes a case that would be even sillier if it weren't tragic.

In March, a former solider named Paul Clarke looked down from his balcony and saw a garbage bag on the ground in his garden. He went down and got it, opened it and found a sawed-off shotgun with two shells.

The next morning, in an attempt to do what he considered his civic duty, he called the local police and asked if he could stop by. He came into the station with the gun and shells, laid them on a table and reported his find.

Upon which he was promptly arrested, and charged with firearm possession. It's against the law in Britain to HAVE a firearm without a permit, and it is considered a "strict liability" offense, which means there is no acceptable excuse. And because the Brits have a mandatory minimum sentence for this law, Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in jail after a jury spent just 20 minutes deliberating before returning a guilty verdict.

A complete story of the case is here.

The moral is that it's a very small step from what might seem like a sensible law to a tyrannical, overreaching government that can take away your liberty on a lark. I'm sure that if you had described this case to a British citizen 20 years ago they would have said, "That could never happen here."

Which is what most Americans would say right now. But do they really KNOW that?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh, Canada

I admit to a sort of love-hate relationship with our Canadian friends to the north. On one hand, they love their hockey, they have a national anthem that is 10 times cooler than ours (a subject I've been meaning to blog about and will get around to in a few days) and they have all those great Tim Horton's donut shops.

On the other hand, they've grown very politically unreliable in the past couple of decades. The political correctness that infects American society is even worse in the Great White North, with their absurd "Human Rights Commission" that attacks free speech (here is a great example) and the bankrupt (morally and financially) socialist health care system, similar to the one Obama and Nancy Pelosi are trying to impose on us.

But here's the tie-breaker that comes down in Canada's favor: They remember - and honor - their veterans.

Today is Veterans Day here in the U.S., and chances are that the only way most people will notice it is when their mail isn't delivered and their bank branch isn't open.

In Canada, they call it "Remembrance Day," and it's more than a day, it's a week or so of honoring military veterans, and it seems like everyone up there remembers.

The symbol of Remembrance Day is the poppy flower (pictured here), immortalized in the poem 'In Flanders Fields," and it seems as though everyone in Canada wears their poppy the week before and in the days after Remembrance Day.

"In Flanders Fields" was written by a Canadian World War I officer, Lt.-Colonel John McCrae, who saw poppies growing alongside the gravesites of fallen comrades.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

The lines, "To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high" are painted on the wall of the Montreal Canadiens locker room.

When you watch a hockey game in Canada this time of year, every TV commentator, every coach and - it seems - every fan in the stands has their poppy on their lapel. Last night the Wild played in Toronto, and the pre-game ceremony took almost 20 minutes as five different war veterans were introduced on the ice and received standing ovations.

Then Johnny Bower, the Maple Leafs Hall of Fame goalie, read "In Flanders Fields," and a young Canadian officer sang one of the most stirring renditions of "O, Canada" that you will ever hear.

(Bower, by the way, joined the Canadian Army at age 15, having lied about his age, and spent four years in Europe during World War II. He returned to Canada after the war and still had a year of junior hockey eligiblity left!) Here he is as a Maple Leaf (he won four Stanley Cups), and today:

It was an incredibly moving ceremony, and both teams stood on the ice the entire time, tapping their sticks on the ice in that great hockey applause way as each veteran was introduced.

The day clearly means more to most Canadians than it does to most Americans, but try to take a moment today - the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month - to remember that every freedom we enjoy was made possible by millions of brave men and women, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Really? We shouldn't jump to any conclusions?

I heard the President on Friday saying that we should not jump to any conclusions about Nidal Hasan, the militant Islamist who killed more than a dozen American soldiers last week at Fort Hood.

(Keep in mind that Obama is the same guy who - less than 24 hours after the incident, and knowing almost nothing about the facts of the case - announced that Cambridge police had "acted stupidly" when they arrested his buddy for disorderly conduct up in Massachusetts. So his advice about not jumping to conclusions has a sort of "do as I say, not as I do" ring to it.)

But, in deference to the President, let's not jump. Let's just see where the evidence takes us. Here's what we know so far:

1) Major Hasan attended the controverial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001, at the same time as two of the 9/11 hijackers.

2) The preacher at the mosque at that time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who - last August - was banned from addressing a meeting in London because of his support for attacking troops, and his support of terrorist organizations.

3) Hasan's eyes "lit up" when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki's teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at Fort Hood.

4) While attending a Maryland graduate military medical program, Hasan's fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint.

5) Before opening fire, Hasan screamed "Allahu Akbar," meaning "God is Great," and then killed at least 13 Americans.

But, just to be clear, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that this incident has anything to do with Islamic hatred of Americans. In that same spirit of fairness, I am refusing to jump to the following conclusions:

1) I refuse to believe that the Yankees' recent World Series win is in any way connected to their ability to score more runs than their opponents.

2) I refuse to believe that the earth's eastward rotation contributes in any way to the direction in which the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

3) I refuse to believe that the trial lawyers' hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to Democrats in any way explains the total lack of tort reform in the health care bill passed this weekend.

4) And, finally, I will not jump to the conclusion that we elected a naive, inexperienced, socialist junior senator to be our president just because of his skin color.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another big day for the "religion of peace."

Imagine my surprise to learn that the fellow who started the shooting at Ft. Hood that left 12 people dead and 31 wounded was a practicing Muslim named Nidal Malik Hassan, and that he had pinned his hopes of avoiding deployment on a belief that President Obama would withdraw forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reading the New York Times, Washington Post and the Star-Tribune all these years had conditioned me to believe that only political conservatives, evangelical Christians and Rush Limbaugh listeners commited these kinds of acts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How did this guy get elected? Oh, wait, he didn't.

Meet Roland Burris. He's the corrupt Illinois politician who was appointed to Barack Obama's senate seat when Obama became president. Like Obama, he was a diversity hire, and like the president (see June 4 and April 18 blog posts) he has a little bit of trouble with basic facts.

Burris recently told an interviewer that Congress is authorized to force everyone to buy health insurance by the Constitution. This suprising bit of Constitutional intepretation comes from Burris' understanding that Constitution authorizes the federal government (in Burris' words) "to provide for the health, welfare and defense of the country."

In fact, the word "health" is nowhere in the Constitution. The preamble reads: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."

It's scary that Illinois would put a guy in the Senate whose understanding of the Constitution would get him flunked out of law school.

You can read the whole shoddy interview here.