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Question: What could possibly be guts-ier than piloting a bobsled down a treacherous track at over 90mph while the whole world watches?

Answer: Not doing it.

What happened today at the Olympics will be talked about during NBC’s broadcast of the Games tonight, lamented on sports-talk radio tomorrow, and debated around water coolers for days to come. Dutch bobsled pilot Edwin van Calker has informed his coach and his team that after watching crash after crash, and crashing himself in practice, he does not have the confidence to pilot his team safely down the track, and pulled his team out of the competition.

It must have been a deeply personal and impossibly difficult decision to make, one that will likely define his legacy in the sport and among his countrymen. Many will be disappointed. Many will call him a coward. But standing at the starting gate of a track that has already killed one athlete during these Games, he’s thinking about his kids, and whether he’ll still be there for them five minutes from now. It’s like that opening scene from Top Gun, where the fighter pilot gets rattled in combat, loses his edge, and knows that he must turn in his wings.

He could have made a different choice. He could have followed the example of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who faced a similar fear, but decided to go for it anyway. It is widely reported that, during a phone call to his father prior to his practice run, Kumaritashvili prophesied that he “would either win or die.” He was right. He never even saw the finish line.

So what are we to make of Mr. van Calker’s decision? Bravery or cowardice? Has he let down his team? His country? Which choice would you make?

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Into Pandora? Let’s share.

I’m looking to expand my musical horizons. It seems I’ve become so entrapped in the music of my high school and college years, it’s hard to know where to turn for relief. I’ve mostly given up on local radio, and I’m too cheap to subscribe to a satellite service, so Pandora is my outlet of choice.

If you’ve created some cool stations on Pandora, please send me a link. I listen mostly at work, so I’ll favor stations with enough variety to keep things interesting, and enough energy to keep me awake without offending my neighbors.

Need more clues? Fine . . . no hip-hop/rap/gangsta noise. Country is tolerable in small doses. Acoustic rock and folk tunes are encouraged. Easy on the foul language (must be SFW). Other than that, it’s a big, wide world of music out there. Help me discover some new stuff. Surprise me. Impress me. Inspire me.

Sending a link to your favorite Pandora stations is easy. Simply open that station in Pandora, click on the “options” tab, and email it to me. Here’s the address, abstracted to deter the spammers: mn1architect (at) yahoo (dot) com.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers!

It took less than 24 hours for the Republican Party to capitalize on its new power to filibuster. With Scott Brown now sworn into office as the first Republican Senator from Massachusetts in a generation, breaking the Democratic super-majority, things are heating up fast.

First out of the gate: Richard Shelby, the Republican Senator from Alabama, wants $40 billion, and he’s threatening to bring Washington to a standstill until he gets it.

In a recent post, I predicted that we’ve yet to see the worst in Washington. With today’s news, it appears that not only was I right on the money, but the obstructionist behavior is more immediate, more blatant and more egregious than even I could have imagined. How is this not extortion? How can anyone who cares about our country, regardless of political affiliation, defend this conduct?

Maybe, just maybe, the Republicans have gone too far this time. Maybe the blind followers will wake up and see that the corruption in Washington is too big to ignore. Maybe regular folks from all over the nation will pause and say “You know, that’s not the way we want our government to operate.”

Maybe I’m dreaming, but it’s hard to imagine how bad things could get if we let this continue.

I want to send out a heartfelt, if belated, birthday wish to SkyDivingGranny, aka my mom.

SDG was diagnosed with lung cancer last fall, and things got pretty dicey over the holidays. But since then, she’s had a terrific turnaround, and is back as ornery as ever.

Needless to say, we’re very happy for the opportunity to say once again: Happy Birthday mom, we love you!

This looks like fun!

I gotta love Richard Branson. He’s having more fun with his money than anyone else on the planet. Wish I had the cash to play along.

First, it was “NO!” to health care reform. Now it’s “NO!” to financial reform.

Meet Frank Luntz, professional word-twister. He’s the man that feeds Republican lawmakers and conservative evangelists the imaginative and fascinating rhetoric designed to kill anything and everything the Obama administration proposes. Mr. Luntz is a political strategist – ok, that’s an understatement – he’s the High Priest of right-wing conspiracy hype, the guy that Fox News and people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck turn to when they need some rancid oats to feed their flock .

Here we have another “smoking memo” . . . a behind-the-scenes look at how politics happens in the GOP.  In the memo, he advises the Republican Party (and provides specific talking points) to intentionally misrepresent facts in favor of hype and hysteria, designed to deceive our citizenry in order to secure a political win. It’s ugly, it’s ruthless, it’s politics in America.

If you’ve got a valid viewpoint, why not engage in an honest, intelligent debate? Why the need for this gamesmanship? The reason, of course, is because it works. It works better than anything else out there. It works because, as a nation of voters, we’ve become too stupid and lazy to think through these things for ourselves.

It makes me sick to my stomach, and deeply concerned about the country my kids will inherit.