Top Chef - I'm a big fan of this show, but like any fan, the whole thing annoys me as well. Last week the chefs had to cook French food, and this week they had to cook in the desert. I can understand how a restauranteur would have a love of France because the French perfected how to run a restaurant, including how a restaurant should be run. But it should also be noted that, as any good foodie knows, most of the mother French sauces actually come from Italy, not France. And French cuisine isn't necessarily better than any other country's cuisine. In fact, the best chef in the world, Adria, is Spanish, not French.
The Western focus really does hurt chefs from other cuisines. The Season 3 winner, Hung Huyuh, was criticized all season long for not cooking from the heart (not cooking Asian cuisine), but was given a Western kitchen and only had access to Western ingredients. It was only in the final, when he could use ingredients of his own choosing that his "heart" showed through. Duh.
The desert thing was interesting - but where was the refrigeration? Do the producers want their judges to die? I am impressed by the high level of competition this year, and it is clear that chefs at the bottom probably would've been mid-level contestants in previous years. There are at least chefs who regularly produce high quality food (the Voltaggios, Kevin, Jen) and a couple others capable of doing the same (Mike I., Eli, Ashley, Ash) when motivated. The brother thing is probably driving this show a lot further than in past seasons because the Voltaggios are really pushing each other (to the point where both are keeping track of who wins what), and that, in turn, pushes the other chefs to step up their game.
Baucus Health Care Plan - The Finance Chairman released his proposal for health care reform - which he had been working on with the more conservative members of the Democratic Party and with the Republicans for the past several months - and it stinks. If anything, its going to make health care more expensive for middle-class families. This happened, in large part, because he was more interested in Republican support than writing a good bill. Anyway, with luck, this plan will get redone in committee.
My Health Care Reform Plan - So you know, my plan would essentially be a catastrophic insurance plan. Everyone pays in via an increase in the income tax, and then would be covered for any expenses over 1/3 of their income. So, if you make $60k a year, you pay the first $20k of expenses, and the Govt. pays the rest. If you can't afford $20k, get insurance - which will be cheaper because the insurance company knows its only on the hook for $20k, max. Oh, and the cost of said insurance would count as part of the first 1/3.
Beck and 9/12ers - In response to Joe Wilson's claim that Obama lied about illegal immigrants not getting benefits under health care reform (which is, itself, a lie), the fearful Baucus put in stringent proof of citizenship requirements into his crappy bill. Way to stand up for your President, Max. In the past few months, the Democrats have shown a willingness to be overly courteous to Republicans. As a result, we can't get anything done. So, here's an idea - tell the GOP to go Cheney themselves. Or rather, stop trying to make the opposition happy - they're trying to prevent the Democrats from doing anything. This is their stated goal. Educate the public, but don't be afraid to steamroll the opposition.