Friday, November 30, 2007

TV football announcers - former players - don't understand rule


J'accuse!

`
The prelude to this accusation is being shown over and over on ESPN:

Cowboys WR Miles Austin, #19, is running under a deep pass.

Packers DB Tramon Williams, #24, is slightly behind Austin, and on Austin's right.

Williams attempts to cross behind Austin, and to get to Austin's left. In the attempt, Williams' legs and Austin's legs get tangled up. Austin was running a straight line. Williams attempted to loop around behind Austin, but instead went diagonally through the follow through of Austin's striding legs.

Nearest ref calls nothing. Distant ref runs in and calls pass interference.

Color Commentator Chris Collinsworth, plus ESPN Highlight Commentator Sean Salisbury, both assert this was a blown call. They cite the NFL rule that getting legs tangled does not equate to pass interference.

HOWEVER

The legs tangled rule surely only applies if players are running side by side. It cannot logically apply to a DB crossing behind a WR. The Green Bay DB ran through Miles Austin's legs. It might have been an intentional maneuver by the Green Bay DB - which is why IT MUST be called as interference. Otherwise, you would see DBs accidentally-on-purpose running through WR's legs on five passes per game.

This is completely obvious to me. It was not obvious to Chris Collinsworth, nor is it completely obvious to Sean Salisbury. I've never read the NFL rulebook, yet I know, via using logic and reason, both former players are wrong. I question their reasoning! I demand access to their Wonderlic scores!

The End Zone
SOME THINGS ARE QUITE CLEAR FROM HERE


Oh, I almost forgot: Go Cowboys!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I answer the CNN YouTube debate questions

I would be standing onstage in a blue suit, white shirt, bright red tie, and cordovan saddle oxfords. The red tie says bright personality!


1. Illegal aliens?

Answer: We must ease and smooth the process of becoming an American citizen.

That said: as much as we can, we must stop the influx of illegal aliens into our nation. A nation which cannot control its borders is imperiled.

2. Amnesty?

Answer: No, but... sigh... yes.

It would take a bizarrely large amount of resources to deport the millions of illegals who are here now. If we get to a point where we control our borders, we can then look at some type of limited, workable amnesty program.

Reagan agreed to amnesty in return for a promise to strengthen border enforcement. That promise to Reagan was broken. This time: border enforcement first; limited amnesty second.

3. Guest workers?

Answer: I like the idea. I am wary of Washington, D.C.'s implementation of it.

4. Would you support a federal law which would require states to give the same tuition discounts which illegal aliens receive to the children of our military members?

Answer: The federal government has no business dictating state university policy decisions to a state government.

5. Congressman Paul: do you believe the North American Union is a legitimate threat to become actual policy?

Congressman Paul:
And there is a move on toward a North American union, just like early on there was a move on for a European Union, and it eventually ended up.
Answer: zzzzz... ahem.... um.. what?

6. what measures will you take to tackle the national debt and control spending?

Answer:
a. Grow the economy through tax cuts.
b. Encourage and support Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn 's efforts to stop pork spending.
c. Reform entitlements. Some entrenched government entitlements need to shrink. Others need to be completely eliminated.

7. What are the names of the top three federal programs you would reduce in size?

The President doesn't get to reduce federal programs, so I cannot make absolute promises. Social Security needs reform, or else the program will soon enough cease to exist. The Dept. of Education ought be reduced to a shell of itself. Beyond those two, I agree with Fred Thompson:

It's a target rich environment.
Huckabee:

Get rid of the IRS .... Most people in this country are more afraid of an audit than they are of a mugging, and there's a reason why.
8. do you support the elimination of the federal income tax in favor of a national retail sales tax?

Answer: yes

9. Would you promise ... you will oppose and veto any efforts to raise taxes as long as you're president?

Answer: the Laffer Curve has proven itself legitimate. Accordingly: I will work to decrease taxes; and thus to aid our economic growth; and thus to increase our national tax revenue. I see nothing which could encourage me to raise taxes during this era of already-high taxation. Yet, I'm not comfortable making any absolute promise about policy.

10. This question asked by a Democrat who used to be an intern for Dem. Congresswoman Jane Harmon. Farm subsidies?

Answer: Let the free market rule --- with the caveat that foreign nations do subsidize their farmers, and we would have to look at that before acting.

There's been too much D.C. smoke surrounding the details of farm subsidies. Those details scream out for sunlight.

11. Note: this next questioner was one of at least 9 Democrat plants who asked some of the 32 questions directed at Repub candidates. This is completely fair to the Repub candidates! There's nothing unfair about Repub candidates answering any question! Bring on the questions! This does, however, point to CNN's reporting and/or editorial ... incompetence and/or bias.

This questioner is a prominent union activist for United Steelworkers - a union which has already endorsed John Edwards, btw. A clever girl, she subtly slipped three questions into her video. She used her two children, both under age 7, as props:

What are you going to do to make sure that these kind of [lead poisoned] toys don't make their way into our homes and that we have safe toys that are made in America again and we keep jobs in America?

Answer:
Re: lead poisoning: the answer is to govern more effectively in many small areas. There is no one single band-aid which will solve the problem.

Re: Congratulations on working "Made in America" into your video.

Re: "keep jobs in America." America's workers do not need nannies. I will not dull America's competitive edge by promising our government will "keep jobs in America." Our competitive edge is what makes us great. America is not about equality of outcome. We are about freedom of opportunity - and all the messiness and greatness that implies.

Congressman Duncan Hunter(a righteous, white knight of a candidate!):

China is cheating on trade, and they're using that $200 billion trade deficit over the United States to buy ships, planes and missiles. They are clearly arming. And it's in the interest of the United States... (Applause) ... to stop China's cheating. My bill, incidentally, that's up right now would do that.
12. Second Amendment?

Answer: Love it just as much as the First.

13. Mr. Giuliani ... why do you believe [as you said in March, 2000] that citizens should be required to pass an exam in order to exercise their right to protect themselves and their families?

Rudy Giuliani:

reasonable regulations would be about criminal background, background of mental instability, basically the ones that are outlined in the opinion of the judge who wrote the Parker decision, Judge Silverman. And if those regulations go beyond that, then those are unconstitutional.

I think states can have a little bit of leeway. New York could have a somewhat stricter rule than, let's say, Kentucky. Texas might have different rules than Ohio. But generally, you've got to comply with this rule.

Now, the Supreme Court's going to decide this. The Supreme Court's going to decide this, probably within the next six months. The Parker (ph) case has been taken to the Supreme Court. They're going to decide whether it's a right that pertains to the militia -- which I don't believe it is -- or is it a right that is a personal right. I believe that it is.

And I will live by that. And people will be allowed to have guns. I'm not going to interfere with that. Generally, decisions are going to be made on a state basis. And they're going to have to comply with the Constitution.

Answer: The End Zone agrees with Rudy, while continuing to watch him with a wary eye.

14. want to tell us about your gun collection, roughly how many you own, what your favorite make, model and caliber is, if any of them require a tax stamp?

Answer: This is a friendly question, yet my answer is: no. I don't want to stand on a stage with a true American hero: Senator John McCain, and even accidentally get into a pissing contest over who owns what guns.

I do think it is fun to shoot at targets for sport. And everyone I know of who has ever shot at a target, for sport, has enjoyed it.

15. But what about the war going on in our country, black on black crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone. What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the (inaudible) is right outside.

Answer: First, it's a compliment to the American military that you would compare living conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan with living conditions in an American city.

Second, from a government perspective, what Mayor Giuliani did in NYC - his "no broken windows" offensive, and his micro targeting of the toughest neighborhoods - ought be encouraged in other city governments and police departments.

Third, a President must lead and inspire churches and social agencies in their already declared fights against immoral, antisocial behavior. In turn, churches and social agencies must lead and inspire grassroots community leaders in this fight. These are grassroots problems. They exist right at street-level ... right at the gut level of American society. The fight will be won or lost at street level - from the ground up.

I will lead. Yet I will not pretend that I am the one who will win this fight. You, young man, are the one who will win or lose this fight. Godspeed to you.

16. (This question is from a John Edwards supporter. Yet, it is an excellent question, and one which I have seen raised in other venues. I am glad this question was asked.)

In the event that abortion becomes illegal and a woman obtains an abortion anyway, what should she be charged with, and what should her punishment be? What about the doctor who performs the abortion?

Answer: Abortion law should not be a federal issue. This question ought be left up to the states. As the states considered such difficult issues, I would remind that forgiveness is a virtue.

Fred Thompson:

I think it should be fashioned along the same lines it is now. Most states have abortion laws pertain and prohibit abortion after viability. It goes to the doctor performing the abortion, not the girl, or the young girl, or her parents, whoever it might be. I think that same pattern needs to be followed. It could just be moved up earlier, or much earlier in the process if the state so determined.
17. If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it?

Answer: I would not sign it. Abortion is a question which is properly left for states to decide. I would not contribute to further federal grabbing of the states' proper power.

18. This question is from a Democrat plant:
The death penalty, what would Jesus do?

Answer:
If Jesus had advocated against the death penalty, you can be assured America's Founding Fathers - a group largely comprised of deeply religious Christians - would have known about it, and would have outlawed the death penalty in the American Constitution.

One of my big surprises, upon seriously reading the Bible, was the Biblical support for the death penalty. Sister Helen Prejean, an anti-death penalty activist, is commendably honest enough to note the Bible does not condemn the death penalty:


"It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find [anything] in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this."
Jesus lived in an era in which the death penalty was common - yet Jesus did not condemn the death penalty. In a series of non-related statements about other matters, Jesus, arguably, repeatedly implied agreement with the death penalty's legitimacy.

Huckabee:

there are those who say, "How can you be pro-life and believe in the death penalty?"
Because there's a real difference between the process of adjudication, where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us, as citizens, under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist.
19. Do you believe every word in this book?(holds up the Bible)

Answer: This gentleman's actual question is:

Do any of us agree with his interpretation of every portion of the Bible?

I can give a short answer: no. Even Bible scholars cannot agree on the meaning of everything in the Bible. I am confident not a one of us on stage interpret everything in the Bible in the same way this gentleman does.

20. This question was asked by a former CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) activist. CAIR is a notorious apologist for all things terrorist; and a notorious accuser of America for all wild allegations of wrongdoing. What would you do as president to repair the image of America in the eyes of the Muslim world?

Answer: Win.

What we are currently doing - especially in Iraq - is doing wonders for the image of America in the Muslim world. Iraqis are working with America to improve their nation, their government, and their national infrastructure. Iraqis are fighting with Americans against Al Qaeda. These are wondrous occurrences: wonderful for America; wonderful for Iraqis; wonderful for the world.

Duncan Hunter:
to the critics of America I would say this. When you were faced with disease and starvation, the Americans brought food and medicine. When you had earthquakes and tsunamis and floods, the Americans came and helped you. And when you were threatened from outside, the Americans left the safety of their own homes to come and defend you.

I will never apologize for the United States of America.
21. Waterboarding?

Answer: It's not proper for me to take a position at this time.

22. In favor of long term military commitment in Iraq?

Answer: Yes. Our safest location is not distanced apart from our enemy, but drawn up tight against him - right up against his belt buckle. This is how we discovered the nuclear arms network of the Pakistani scientist Khan - among MANY other important intelligence discoveries since March 2003. Our intelligence capabilities are now exponentially greater than they were in Autumn 2002. Our sway with the intelligence branches of (alleged) friendly nations, and thus our sharing of intelligence information with (alleged) friendly nations, is now exponentially greater than it was in Autumn 2002.

McCain:

let me remind you, Congressman, we never lost a battle in Vietnam. It was American public opinion that forced us to lose that conflict.
(Applause)
I think it's important for all Americans to understand the fundamental difference. After we left Vietnam, they didn't want to follow us home. They wanted to build their own workers' paradise. If you read Zarqawi, if you read bin Laden, if you read Zawahiri, read what they say. They want to follow us home.
[...]
Their ultimate destination is New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona. This is a transcendent challenge of our time.
If Bin Laden follows us home, I think the climate near Phoenix would suit him best. He might settle near Sedona, or go further north and hide out in the Grand Canyon area. If he ran afoul of the National Parks Service, he might try hiding in the New Mexico badlands.

23. Rudy, how do you respond to allegations you are using 9/11 to propel yourself into the White House?

Rudy:

I would like people to look at my whole record.
[...]
I was United States attorney in the Southern District of New York. I prosecuted thousands of organized crimes figures. I prosecuted Sicilian Mafia members, never done before in an American court.

I was mayor of a city that was described as one of the greatest turnarounds of any city in the history of America. George Will said I ran the most conservative government in this country, most successful conservative government in this country in the last 50 or 60 years.
[...]
I've been tested in a way in which I ran the third-largest government in this country, the 17th-largest economy in the world, and I got very, very remarkable results.

And that is the evaluation of other people, not me.
24. Will you grant extensive Vice Presidential power?

Answer: Bloody hell straight at you, CNN.

25. This question came from a retired General who is a member of Hillary Clinton's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Steering Committee. Somehow, CNN used Google to fly the General from Santa Rosa, CA to St. Petersburg, FL; yet they didn't use Google to, you know, actually GOOGLE the General's political background.(stolen from Instapundit)

CNN allowed the General to rebut the candidate's answers to his questions. Overall, they gave the General over half as much speaking time - for his single issue - as Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo received to discuss all issues.

Fox News later reported the General said CNN "Didn't ask" about his political affiliation, therefore he "Didn't tell." You know: because of the irony.(blatantly stolen from Protein Wisdom)

The General's question:
Why [do] you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians?

Answer: Based on everything I know at this time: gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military.

There is an argument that gays serving openly will hurt recruiting. I don't believe recruiting will be affected in significant measure. Do you want to serve with the finest military in the history of the world, or do you want to avoid being around openly gay people?

I have confidence in the American people, and I have confidence in American military personnel.
26. (this question is from a Dem Obama supporter)
Why should Log Cabin Republicans support you?

Answer: I am reaching out neither to gays, nor to any other identity group. I am reaching out to conservatives. If you believe in limited government, and in strong national defense: I ask for your vote.

27. This question asked by Democrat Adam Florzak, who quit his job at Catapillar to work with Democrat Senator Dick Durbin on Social Security reform. National debt? How will you deal with $2 Billion raiding of Social Security trust fund?

Answer: A raid which was vastly conducted by Democrat controlled Congresses, I might point out.

The only solution has already been alluded to: shrink taxes, grow the economy; shrink pork spending; shrink entitlement spending.

Though the raid of the Social Security Trust Fund is a scandal, the U.S. national debt is demagogued way too much. As a percentage of GDP, our national debt is not out of whack.

Note: Again - the hard questions are nice opportunities. They are gifts. Yet - I'm incredulous about CNN's role. Does anyone at CNN take a moment to wonder why and how they whittled five thousand question entries down to forty entries ... thirty-two of which got asked during the debate ... nine of those which were generated by Democrats? Answer: Nah.

28. Human space exploration to Mars by 2020?

Answer: Yes - but I don't know about the timeline. Like a great structure, space exploration calls to us, and reminds of greatness. Further, we gain scientific value from it. However: no blank checks. Public/private investment partnership would be good.

29. This question asked by a Democrat who is an aspiring screenwriter, and a big John Edwards fan. Many African Americans hold fairly conservative views. And yet, we overwhelmingly vote Democrat in most elections. So my question to any of the Republican candidates here is, why don't we vote for you?

Side note: Can you see the obvious answer/subtext of this question? The only possible answer is: because African Americans believe Republicans are racists.

CNN has selected a question which pre-supposes Republican guilt: either of racism, or of creating the insensitive appearance of racism. Either way, the question implies Republicans are guilty.

Nevertheless, I'm glad CNN selected the question. Let the sun shine! If you have nothing to hide, the tough questions are the best questions, as they allow you to get the truth out.

Answer: I am soliciting votes neither by skin hue, nor by geographic heritage. I am soliciting votes according to belief in free markets, and in limited government. If you believe in these, I ask for your vote.

30. What does the Confederate Stars and Bars flag represent to you?

Answer: Bloody hell! This is why no one wants to run for President.

Grumble... grumble... sheesh...

Okay, here we go:

Possession of a Confederate flag does not mean a person is a racist.

If you are moved to engage in a societal nicety: forego the flag. There are lots of other things to be involved in. There are lots of other ways to honor history and heritage.

Conversely: if you are moved to assert your independence and freedom: you've every right to display that flag. Go right ahead. Let no one tread on you.

31. Repairing American infrastructure?

Answer: sheesh... someone is against this?

32. This asked by a Democrat Bill Richardson supporter who had previously participated in the Democrat YouTube Debate. It's hard to believe CNN did not know where these questions were coming from. Ron Paul: are you going to run as an independent?

Ron Paul: (non denial denial)


And that's the end! The debate was raucous. I had fun participating in it. I'd like to thank all the little people!

I close with this, from pollster Frank Luntz, about the issue which might define this election:

I can't overestimate just how much Republicans are against illegal immigration, nor how much they want their candidate to stop it.

Update: Michelle Malkin informs about the specific Democrats who asked questions.

Go Cowboys!


Ron Fellows lives.

Bionic Exoskeltons

If this is a public company: invest!

Link

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Then out spoke brave Horatius

XXV.

But when the face of Sextus
was seen among the foes,

A yell that rent the firmament from all the town arose.
On the house-tops was no woman but spat toward him and hissed,
No child but screamed out curses, and shook its little fist.

XXVI.

But the Consul's brow was sad, and the Consul's speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall, and darkly at the foe.
"Their van will be upon us before the bridge goes down;
And if they once might win the bridge, what hope to save the town?"

XXVII.

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,

XXVIII.

And for the tender mother who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses his baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus, that wrought the deed of shame?

XXIX.

Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may!
I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three:
Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?'

XXX.

Then out spake Spurius Lartius; a Ramnian proud was he:
"Lo, I will stand at thy right hand and keep the bridge with thee."
And out spake strong Herminius; of Titian blood was he:
"I will abide on thy left side, and keep the bridge with thee."

XXXI.

"Horatius," quoth the Consul, "as thou sayest, so let it be."
And straight against that great array forth went the dauntless Three.



From "Horatius", by nineteenth century English poet Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rangers altering and improving youth stadium

Dr. Pepper Youth Ballpark, photographed from an upper deck at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, with a game in progress. My son played a little league game here two seasons in a row. It was a memorable treat for the kids, and for me!


10/11/2007 4:15 PM ET
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- For all the excitement the Texas Rangers feel about the palatial new football stadium being built nearby for the Dallas Cowboys, and the momentum it lends to the planned Glorypark retail development adjacent to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, there was one projected casualty the organization found hard to swallow.
The Dr Pepper Youth Ballpark, a community staple opened in 1994 alongside what was later named Mark Holtz Lake, was in serious danger of being razed to accommodate the new Baird Farm Road being built along the ballpark's northern perimeter from Interstate 30.

"All the initial designs required moving this park somewhere else," said Rangers owner Tom Hicks. "We worked real hard with the planners and designers to find a solution."

That solution was unveiled on Thursday, in a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Hicks, Rangers president Jeff Cogen, Arlington mayor Robert Cluck, Cadbury Schweppes executive Bill Spicer and other city leaders. The youth stadium originally built to resemble Rangers Ballpark will live on, through a bold redesign that will mimic the most famous feature of Boston's Fenway Park.

In a concession to the new bridge and road being built behind the outfield fence, the youth ballpark will be modified with a "Green Monster" of its own -- a 20-foot high retaining wall built to the same height and length proportions as the famed left field wall inside Fenway Park.

The distance from home plate to the left-field foul pole will measure 160 feet, but a ball hit to that part of the field must travel at least 210 feet to clear the new structure. In addition, the deepest part of the outfield wall will be extended by 30 feet (to 232 feet from the plate) and the right-field foul pole will move from 199 feet to 210 feet from the plate, changes that will enable the ballpark to accommodate leagues and players up to 13 years of age.

"By making the stadium bigger, we're going to be able to add a year of age groups," Hicks said. "There's a big difference between a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old."

Construction will begin within the next four weeks and should be completed by early March. Cogen said the project is budgeted at "several hundred thousand" dollars, but preserves an amenity the Rangers felt was important to keep.

"Early in the process, there was talk about the road eliminating the youth park, and that wasn't acceptable," Cogen said. "This is the crown jewel of youth park facilities, certainly in the state and the Metroplex, and maybe in the country. I haven't seen a nicer one.

"It was important to us, from a brand perspective, that we continue to offer this to area youth baseball players. And we figured out a way to do it."

The continued title sponsorship of Cadbury Schweppes, parent company of Dr Pepper, will offset much of the renovation cost.

"With the improvements we're announcing today, this facility will continue to be the crown jewel of youth ballparks in the United States," Spicer said.

Cluck called the preservation redesign "a dream come true" for the city, claiming civic leaders had lost a great deal of sleep worrying about the youth stadium being torn down or moved.

"We want to thank the Texas Rangers for coming up with a solution that satisfies all of us, especially the children," Cluck said.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not the way to do it

Above: Tom Osbourne's happy face.

I like Tom Osbourne kinda sorta okay. However, I don't like this:
When the Huskers were 4-4, Osborne said, he told Callahan that if the team finished 8-4, there would be no coaching change and that if he won three of the last four games "we can maybe make it work."

"If it's two out of four, it's going to be pretty tough because now you're break even, and we haven't had many break-even seasons around here," Osborne said he told Callahan. "And if we have a losing season, there isn't any way this will work. The parameters were pretty clearly spelled out."
No no no no no. No Tom!

You can promise fans you'll have an excellent and clean program which they can enjoy and be proud of. However, you do not spell out a specific number of victories, ever, no matter the situation.

First of all: it's stupid. Sport is too unpredictable.

Second: Maybe Tom hasn't noticed that Missouri is ranked #1 in the nation, with a QB almost no major school deigned to recruit. Chase Daniel was not at the center of any recruiting firestorm. Parity has come to college football.

Kansas is #6. Hawaii is #10. Boise State defeated Oklahoma in last year's Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma's 2007 national title hopes died in Lubbock last week. Appalachian State defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor. Louisiana Monroe defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Parity is here.

Coaching is better than ever, including at the high school level. Weight training is better than ever, including at the high school level. Video is ubiquitous, including at the high school level.

Parity has arrived. This is not the era to be discussing number of victories. Realistically, a lot of victories need to happen at a school like Nebraska. But: a specific number of victories? No way.

Third: discussing number of victories takes power away from you: the athletic director. You should be the one who decides, on a case by case basis, whether the coach stays or goes. Your guideline ought to be "excellence."

You will know excellence when you see it. Your coach and your fans deserve nothing more explicit from you. In fact, they deserve less explicitness. To be more explicit is a disservice to all parties.

Tom Osbourne's handling of this was unwise.


Related: Envy, psyche blogs, sports laboratories

Friday, November 23, 2007

NBA: either incompetent or corrupt, pick one

I'm watching the Mavericks-Pacers game, and Devin goes on a one on one breakaway layup, and he's knows he's going to be fouled hard by the only Pacer who can possibly stop him: Mike Dunleavy, Jr. Devin takes his two steps, then starts into the air while securely holding the ball in both hands, only he never gets off the ground, because Dunleavy grabs his arm securely, preventing lift off. Devin could've slung the ball wildly into the air, then thrown his hands wildly into the air, but he didn't, b/c Dunleavy threw him offbalance, and Devin needed to save himself from crashing to the floor, and, besides, its a freaking one on one breakaway layup, and every referee from Jr. High to the NBA will call what was a very, very obvious shooting foul by Dunleavy. Every referee, except:

Bennett Salvatore.

Bennett called a non-shooting foul ~ Mavs ball on the side. Avery Johnson went nuts, determinedly breaking away from three different attempts to hold him back, and chasing Salvatore 2/3 of the way onto and across the basketball court, in order to shake his Avery finger in Salvatore's face. Avery = ejected.





Avery, about to fight through the third serious attempt to restrain him - this time the attempt of Devin Harris. As when he played in the league: Avery will not be denied. He is even going around Devin to the left. As a player: Avery never could go right; yet no one could prevent him from going left. You can see Avery's target in the background: Bennett Salvatore.







Bad referee calls happen a zillion times a year: so what? Yet, this was different. This was a completely indefensible call. This was a call NOBODY makes. EVER. Bennett seemingly went out of his way to find a refereeing method of punishing the Dallas Mavericks - and he did it late in a game the Mavericks were seemingly coming from behind to win. It was deja vu - reminding of my post about Salvatore personally defeating the Mavs in Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals(though the Mavs should've been able to overcome both the Miami Heat and Bennett Salvatore, yet did not). So, I looked up the post, reread it, and it has stood the test of time extremely well. Being a tinkerer, I even added 50 new words. I've copied the post below, in it's entirety.

But, first: according to Mark Cuban - and no one has ever disagreed - Bennett Salvatore is consistently ranked as one of the worst referees in the NBA. In fact, the crew of Bennett, Violet Palmer, and Tom Washington is widely recognized as the absolute worst crew in the league. Their grip on a game is alway tenuous. Soooo: WHAT was Bennett Salvatore doing refereeing Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Bill Simmons has a theory about the league office sending weaker refs to playoff games in which the home team needs to win in order to extend the series:

In the playoffs ... the league displayed a nasty "habit" (note: I'm using quotation marks because you could never prove anything more than a series of coincidences) of assigning better referees if they needed road teams to prevail (like a marquee team trailing 2-1 and playing Game 4 on the road) and weaker referees if they needed home teams to prevail (because weak referees are more likely to have their calls prejudiced by a raucous home crowd). This "habit" was miraculously cured this past spring, one year after the fallout of the 2006 Finals.
[...]
So when news of the Donaghy scandal broke, everyone's reaction was the same: "Which one?"

That's why I had one group of friends frantically organizing a "Who was the crooked ref?" office pool on Friday morning instead of wondering, "How could this happen?"


In Dallas-Ft. Worth, a decent number of normally lucid media persons believe Bennett Salvatore refused to let Mark Cuban's team win Game 5 of the 2006 Finals. They believe it was personal. As I discuss below: I think that theory is very possibly true - though I don't lose any sleep over it, as I cannot know if it is actually true.

However: what does it say about David Stern's NBA that a tremendous number of fans and media have no problem believing Salvatore put the fix in during Game 5 of 2006? I am lucid, and clear-headed, and I've not one problem believing he might've done so.

If you take a close look at Game 5 in 2006: it's harder to make a case that Salvatore did not fix the game; and it's easier to make a case that he fixed it. A review of every call in the game by 82games.com found that Salvatore made 10 controversial calls(read: horrifyingly bad calls), and 8 of those 10 went in the Heat's favor. How do you read that? Series of fluke calls? Or statistically aberrant evidence of either 1) a weak, insecure ref making calls to appease a home crowd, or 2) a Salvatore grudge in action against Cuban, or 3) a little of both?

Can't decide? Consider: it doesn't take much to swing a close game. One call, in the right situation, can sometimes do it. Therefore, consider the circumstance of the deciding play of the game, as described in my post:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bennett Salvatore prevented the Mavs being in a commanding position - from which they would've enjoyed strong odds of winning the NBA Championship. It's nauseating to reflect that NBA referees never want to "decide the game" on a last second shot, and that their code is to blow a last second whistle only if the offensive player draws very obvious and obstructive contact.

I doubt very many, if any, NBA officials have it out for Mark Cuban. I've faith in their professionalism. That said, if any referee has it out for Cuban, Bennett Salvatore is a good candidate to be that ref. Salvatore is old school - old old ooooollllldddd school - East Coast, old country, Italian. EVERYTHING about Mark Cuban could easily stick in Bennett Salvatore's craw. Salvatore is a good candidate to have said to himself:

"If I see any sliver of justifiable contact here, I'm making the call. F___ Mark Cuban. It's payback time."

Did Salvatore do that? I've not one single clue, and it's useless to dwell on it. But it is kind of fun to notice it.

All that said, the Mavericks beat themselves, through sloppy offense and defense down the stretch - as well as through Dirk and Josh Howard missing 3 free throws. Bitching about an NBA call is exactly like a batter who bitches about getting bad calls on third strikes: the batter should hit the ball before two strikes are on him. Otherwise, he's setting himself up for bad things to happen. The Mavs set themselves up for bad things to happen. It was the Mavs' own fault they lost the game. They should've had a points cushion at the end.

In Dallas, they are showing the last play over and over on TV. Wade said he got hit twice on the play. He didn't get hit. Here's what actually happened:

1. In a very close play, Wade arguably touched the inbounds pass in the frontcourt, before moving into the backcourt. Personally, I say the tie goes to the catcher. I would not have called a backcourt violation.

2. Wade dribbles right. When Terry attempts to cut him off on the sideline, Wade administers a forearm shiver. Terry trips and goes down, flying out of bounds. As an NBA referee, I would've let this last-second, jostling contact go w/o a call - mostly b/c Terry partially slip/tripped. It's a close judgment, though. Wade's forearm did contribute to Terry's slip/trip, and did free him of Terry's defense, and did give Wade a competitive advantage.

3. Now, with Terry out of bounds, and laying beside the press table, Wade heads up the sideline, towards the baseline. He is doubled by Howard - closest to the baseline, and by Harris - closest to midcourt. At this moment, as Wade advances towards the corner, he is dead. He is pinned by two quick guys. He has zero chance of going around either of Howard or Harris; and can only evade through a risky attempt to dribble/split between them. Howard and Harris both have aggressive hands. Both will go for Wade's dribble if he tries to split them. If Wade attempts a corner jumper, he will be heavily pressed from the front by Howard. Harris will be coming from his side, and will be swiping at his shot from over the top. Wade is just about dead. The Mavericks are about to win.

In response - in cheating, yet brilliant response - Wade reprises Michael Jordan's decisive shove against Bryon Russell of the Utah Jazz - only, instead of shoving Howard, Wade grabs a gigantic fistful of Howard's shorts, and mightily slings Howard - by Howard's own shorts - towards the baseline. It was a mighty sling - but it was fast and smooth. If I was a referee, I likely would've missed it. However, it was definitely a foul, and it extricated Wade from a very difficult spot. If a ref had seen it, it deserved, w/o a doubt, to be called. In a perfectly refereed game, Howard would've been shooting free throws at the other end, with about 4 seconds on the clock.

The shove moved Howard towards the baseline a bit. What the shove really did was enable Wade to perform a world-class change of direction - as if he had been running down the street, then used a telephone pole to shove himself back in the direction he just came from. The change of direction was so severe that Wade actually passed around the mid-court side of Devin Harris - something which would've been impossible - absent using Howard as a human telephone pole. This is how Harris happened to have his left hand on Wade's right hip as Wade drove to the basket. As Wade went around him on his mid-court side, Harris spun clockwise about 250 degrees.

You saw the rest. Salvatore, having noncalled Wade's fouls against Terry and Howard, then called Devin Harris for a foul as Wade moved towards the basket. Harris did reach in, and did foul Wade. Salvatore had the angle to see Harris reach in, yet could not have seen whether Harris got ball or got Wade. Salvatore made the call anyway - and Salvatore got lucky: replays show Harris got Wade, and thus Salvatore's blind guess at the call ended up being correct.

It WAS a heck of an exciting play. World-class athletes on display. As a Mavericks' fan, I know how Utah Jazz fans felt when Michael Jordan committed an offensive foul on his game-winning shot. Byron Russell should've been shooting free throws on the other end. The Jazz were ripped off.

My only consolation is that the loss was the Maverick's own fault. They should've had a points cushion at that juncture.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving blog vacation begins in few minutes.

I loved composing the blogpost below: "Foundation of leadership", because I learned so much as I went along. When I was young, coaches would frequently encourage us to "show some leadership". I had coaches pull me aside and say how important it was that I "show some leadership." I had zero idea how to go about doing that.

Much of the time, when composing a blogpost, I don't know where I'm going (obviously due to lack of self-leadership!). I have a vague idea - else I would not begin - but I often do not end up where the vague idea was originally going. I learn as I go, and change directions, like a broken field blogger.

I see the fallacies in my own thinking as I go - and that's the best part. No one wants to go through life as the victim of fallacious thinking. Blogging, and thus seeing those fallacies, has helped me to become a more clear-thinking person - and thus a better person, I hope.

I blog really fast: boom boom boom, get it all out there, fingers flying on the keyboard. Then I go back and start rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. The original idea has to be massaged into a logical flow. Things have to be re-arranged and smoothed. Transitioned. Shortened, always. Sometimes I cut glops of 100, or even 300 or so words. I've also deleted larger glops than that, for sure.

At first, it killed me to delete such large glops of words. Now, it doesn't, b/c I wrote the words really fast, and b/c I have formed the habit of being able to delete my own dreck - if I can recognize the dreck! Depending on the size of a blogpost, I might edit and re-arrange anywhere from 8 to 20 times. I've edited some posts more than 20 times, for sure.

Oddly, the posts I struggle on are often the posts I enjoy the most. I just keep re-reading a post, and keep rewriting it, until, finally, I can read completely through it without desiring to rewrite any part of it, and without thinking part of it is dreck.

I don't know if this is the best method. In school, we learned to outline our essays before starting to write. That method always sucked for me. It was hard to conceive of ideas. It was hard to acheive flow. It works better for me to just start my fingers and my ideas moving, then re-write and re-arrange until I enjoy reading through it.

The good thing is, once I've moved through all the re-reading and re-writing, I'm almost done with the post. I always go back and read it the next day, because the post always looks different the next day. Always. That dynamic is kinda worrisome, actually. Sometimes, the next day, I'll re-start a spurt of rewriting. During this, I'll be thinking "Sheesh, how could I have written this so badly?!"

However, if I can look at it the next day w/o changing it, I often don't ever go back and re-read the post after that. I know what's there, I'm happy with it, and I'm done with it.

In editing and shrinking this blog's archive, I found posts which I enjoyed re-reading. I found other posts which I knew I liked, and knew I wanted to keep, yet didn't re-read any portion of. I knew, intimately, months or even a couple of years later, what was in those posts. I could smile to myself in enjoyment, remembering composing the posts. Yet, I had no reason to go back and re-read them.

If you read this blog: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

And love.

See you Monday!

Foundation of leadership


**Speculation alert**

Devin Harris and Josh Howard are taking over leadership of the Dallas Mavericks.

No more Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse as team leaders. Why?

1. Devin and Josh Howard are better players.

2. Devin and Josh Howard are more self-confident.

This is good for the Dallas Mavericks. The self confidence, and the willfulness, of Devin and of Josh Howard are what will take the Mavs to the next level.

I have a lot of admiration for both Terry and Stackhouse. However, at heart, both are insecure about their abilities. At the absolute most crucial championship crunch moments - the ultimate winning moments - both Terry and Stackhouse play with courage, yet trepidation.

You cannot see this in the regular season. You cannot even see it early in a playoff series. You can only see it in a playoff series which is going bad, and which needs to be somehow turned around. Only at those moments will you notice Terry and Stackhouse playing with trepidation.

Does "trepidation" mean Terry and Stackhouse lack courage?

It does not. Both Terry and Stackhouse are courageous overachievers. Stackhouse has done more with his physical skills than 90% of players ever would have. Terry has done more with his physical skills than 99% of players ever would have.

In my context, trepidation means, at some level, Terry and Stackhouse fear losing because of what they perceive it will mean about them. At some level, they fear losing will mean they are not worthy.

If Devin and Howard lose, each will believe:
We lost. We got outplayed. But we were damn sure good enough. We were worthy. We just didn't concentrate hard enough. We didn't give good enough or tough enough effort. And I am damn sure pissed off about that. I'm pissed off at myself, and at every damn one of my teammates.

Devin and Josh Howard would die before either would believe they are not good enough to win.

Terry and Stackhouse each secretly suspect they are not good enough to win. They mostly believe they are good enough to win. They've told themselves, over and over throughout their careers, they are good enough to win. They train. They play with courage and guts. Yet, way way waaaay down, at their very cores, they suspect, maybe, juuuust ... maybe ... : Maybe I am not good enough to win. In places they are psychologically afraid to visit, they suspect, just a tiny bit: Maybe I am not worthy.

They have the tiniest, tiniest, tiiiinest specks of doubt. So tiny. Yet, a speck is all it takes to prevent them from being adequate leaders of a championship team. An NBA Championship is the ultimate head game. It is the ultimate test of will - the ultimate test of who a person is at their very core. A speck of doubt is all it takes to undermine a player as a leader. You don't want a team taking it's cues from a leader who has a speck of doubt.

Neither Devin nor Josh Howard have the tiniest speck of doubt about their abilities - nor, for that matter, do they doubt the abilities of any of their teammates. This absolute self-confidence is what is necessary.

It doesn't matter why Devin and Howard are confident. Maybe they are just ornery as hell. Maybe they are too dumb to know any different. The reason doesn't matter. They can be ornery (Ronnie Lott). They can be dumb (Ronnie Lo...? No! I didn't even think it.). The critical thing is that nothing, NOTHING IN THE WORLD can shake their self-confidence during difficult moments (Ronnie Lott!). And nothing can. Devin and Josh Howard are the leaders the Mavs need. This season, if you follow media reports and Avery Johnson interviews, you can see and read between the lines that both Devin and Howard are happily, pro-actively stepping into the leadership job.

And why wouldn't they? A possibility: In the fashion of true leaders, both Devin and Howard have known, in their hearts, that they should be leading this team. They've both imagined how they would lead the team. This scenario is not new for them. They've played it out in their heads over the past couple of years - as natural leaders would. Even if they felt it wasn't quite their time, they also felt, secretly, they could do the best job in the leadership role. They secretly, actually believed they were ready. As any true leader would.

Note: Devin

In his career, Devin has been lost during numerous on-court moments. He has been distraught during various portions of his career. I suspect Devin's angst has been due to his high standards for himself. I don't think he has doubted that he would become an outstanding player. Rather, I think he has failed to become an outstanding player as quickly as he desired. "How fast will I succeed?" is a very different question from "Will I ever succeed?" Devin's high standards caused him to suffer over the first question. I don't believe he ever doubted the answer to the second question. I doubted the answer to the second question for him. I don't believe he ever doubted it.

Something else about Devin: he is 6'3". If he were only two inches taller, and exclusively played shooting guard, the entire league would rave about Devin. He would be, right now, better than Ray Allen ever has been, for instance. Devin would be an All Star. Because of his defense, his elite speed, and his mental toughness, you would rather have him on your team than Tracey McGrady, for instance.

Note II: Dirk.

Dirk has the same speck of doubt as Terry and Stackhouse. Dirk has periods when he plays with haughtiness, and with righteous temper. This is good. Yet, Dirk's default temperament is pout. Why?

When Dirk goes to pout, he is wondering if he is good enough. He is wondering if he is truly worthy. It matters not that Dirk intellectually knows he is good enough. This is not a question of logic. What is at our core is not a question of logic. What's at our core is a question of spiritual declaration. We either declare we are good enough, and refuse to be knocked off our declaration, or we do not.

Dirk defaults to self-doubting pout. Devin and Josh Howard default to pissed off. They do not default to self-doubt. They default to madder and madder.

Devin and Josh Howard are unstable and high strung. Either is likely to break out in tears of frustration. Either is likely to shove, or throw a punch, and to maybe get suspended for a week, or for a playoff series. Either is likely to scream at their teammates, scream at the refs, or scream at their coaches. Which is the better leader: Dirk; or Devin and Josh?

Unstable and high strung do not matter. Spiritual declaration matters.

Note III: Spiritual declaration = absolute belief and committment

How?

One way is to simply declare it: I am good enough, and no one can tell me different.

This is a type of genius. You have taken a stand. No one can knock you off of it, as no one can logically prove a negative. Naysayers can raise circumstance after circumstance, yet no circumstance can logically prove you are not good enough. You simply reply, in defiance of each proffered circumstance: "I am good enough." And that reply is good enough. If you don't climb down from your stand, you are there. You cannot be knocked off it.

A second way (and this is my preference) is to recognize that our souls - our spirits - are reflections of God. Therefore, if we have the physical strength to meet a challenge - then, as we are reflections of God - OF COURSE we have the spiritual strength to meet the challenge.

By spiritual strength, I mean: intellectual, emotional, willful, metaphysical strength(literally: beyond physical/earthly). I mean strength which we would have a hard time fully defining or explaining, if we even recognized all the elements of it, which we do not.

There is no reason to doubt our spiritual strength. Frithjof Schuon said: "The very word 'man' implies 'God'." Our souls have knowledge of a realm beyond this one. OF COURSE we have the spiritual strength to meet our challenges. There is no reason to doubt it.

Human doubt will inevitably arise. Yet, human doubt is unreasonable, and meaningless. Human doubt only arises because we are imperfect beings. Human doubt only arises because a loving God has given us an interesting obstacle to overcome.

The TRUTH is we have access to the spiritual strength to see us through any spiritual challenge. In any particular instance, we may or may not have the necessary physical strength. Yet, if the physical strength is there, we absolutely have the strength of spirit to carry us through. Never doubt it. The very word "man" implies "God". We have access to God's strength.

And THAT is why Godless Euro atheists do not make the best leaders. They do not get spiritual strength. Their houses are built upon sand.

If you want to lead from the very most solid and deep-set foundation, and through the very most difficult and gut-wrenching circumstances: you need to get spirituality. You need to get it. Then your house will be built upon rock.

Leaders lead where followers already want to go, yet had forgotten they wanted to go, and/or were too afraid to go without someone leading them.

In the crucible of the NBA, players want to believe they are worthy. Dirk and Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse want to believe they are worthy. Two children shall lead them.


Postnotes:
Wanting to believe they are worthy is why a mediocre player would traditionally go to the Yankees, or the old Boston Celtics, and suddenly play like a champion. Upon arrival to the venerated team's locker room, the player would suddenly believe they were worthy, as in: "Wow! I'm wearing pinstripes! I am worthy!" or "I'm wearing Celtic green! I am worthy!"

This is also why a player or a team might struggle near the top for years, then suddenly break through with a vengeance. Observers might wonder: "How did they suddenly break through in such a dominant fashion?" Here's how: The team just got sick of it's own self doubt: "We are worthy, damn it, and we are BY GOD going to show everyone!"

One example of this would be the old Cowboys teams of the late sixties, aka "Next Year's Champions." They finally got fed up, then dominated the '71 season plus '72 Super Bowl. In the playoffs and Super Bowl, the Cowboys played in a way which left their opponents no opportunity for victory. The Dolphins had no chance in the Super Bowl. There was nothing the Dolphins could've done which would've resulted in victory. No combination of trick plays, tricky defensive blitzes, or lucky referee's calls could've added up to Dolphin victory. The Cowboys left nothing to chance.

That was a Dolphin team which went 17-0 the following season. The Cowboys were decimated with injuries the following season. I would've liked to have seen a healthy Cowboys team meet the Dolphins in the following season's Super Bowl. Would've been a heck of a Super Bowl.

Another example might've been the '83 Sixers of Julius Erving, and of Moses Malone's "Fo, fo, fo." playoffs prediction. After years of being near the top, yet being disappointed, the Sixers were invincible in '83. They, like the Cowboys before them, left nothing to chance. Also like the Cowboys before them, the Sixers were damaged by injuries the following season - especially Andrew Toney's shoulder injury.

Another example is Ben Hogan. He struggled and struggled in his career. He finally got fed up with his own self-doubt, and then he dominated. Then he was injured in an almost fatal auto accident. Then he came back from that and dominated again.

Martina Navrotilova was an example of this dynamic. I can remember rooting for her to break through and win. It seemed she was forever losing major championships. When she finally defeated Evert-Lloyd in a major, it was GAME OVER for the rest of womens tennis - for years afterwards.

Self-confidence was the reason these teams and individuals skipped right past the "barely victorious" stage, and went straight from "runner-up" to "dominant."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Illusion

Double click the image. You should see a two dimensional girl. Our minds experience her as if she is three dimensional, in motion, and spinning around. Thus, when we watch the shadow of her upper foot, we can experience her as if she suddenly begins spinning in the opposite direction, and on the opposite leg.

Freaakkyy. Best explanation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More hate crimes committed against Jews than against Muslims

by a factor of more than 5 to 1.

During 2006:
American hate crimes against Jews: 1021
American hate crimes against Muslims: 191

Turned on cable news much during the last few years? Have you seen outraged CAIR spokespersons decrying American hate crime against Muslims? Sure you have.

I had actually speculated the ratio would be more like 10 to 1, instead of 5 to 1. I am exceptionally cynical about CAIR spokespersons. Here's my question:

What category of Americans were most responsible for all that hate crime against Jews? Gosh, it's difficult to come up with an answer...

  • Would it more likely be women or men?
  • Medicare eligibles? Middle aged? Young adults?
  • Buddhists? Baptists? Unitarians? Some other religious group?
  • Maybe a large populace of KKK members running wild across America? Anyone hear of a resurgent population of KKK?
  • Rabid bird-watchers? American Kennel Club? National Rifle Association? Shriners?
It's almost like a trick question. WhoEVER might be committing all those hate crimes against Jews? WhatEVER might be their motivation? Oh, I just have NO IDEA!

If we knew who it was, and we publicly and accurately stated who it was, would our public and accurate statement be decried as a hate crime? Yes, there is a 100% chance it would be - just as already happened after the D.C. sniper attacks, the Univ. of North Carolina "assault by SUV", the San Francisco "rampage by vehicle", the Los Angeles airport shooting attack, and the Univ. of Oklahoma suicide bomber outside a football game.

If we publicly JUDGED (merciful heavens!?) such an individual's or such a group's actions as being immoral, would our public judgement cause clucking and condemnation amongst many on the left? Yes, there is a 100% chance it would be - just as it was when many Americans judged the 9/11 perpetrators to be victims; and the 9/11 victims ("Little Eichmans") to be culpable perpetrator-citizens of a wicked hegemon with an oppressive foreign policy.

This was an instance, btw, in which Americans on the left and the right rushed to microphones to urge there be no American citizen backlash against Muslims. In retrospect, even after an unprecedentedly shocking terror attack, we needn't have worried. One citizenry in the world has proven itself to not countenance "Muslim backlash": the U.S.A.

And yet, the outraged CAIR spokespersons keep coming; and cable news producers keep allowing microphone access for their dubious assertions. We live in interesting times.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks


defeat Alabama in Tuscaloosa! HUGE!

That's a Warhawk on that helmet. Just in case you are unsure what is on the helmet, the front of the jersey says: "Warhawks." Normally, a road jersey would state the name of the school ... unless said name is "Louisiana-Monroe".

I like the Warhawks mascot. First, b/c of relevance: there are many hawks in northeast Louisiana. Second, b/c "Warhawks" is memorable. "Warhawks" is kind of like "Bearcats": makes you sit up and take notice - which is good.

Still, it would've been completely memorable if the mascot were "Doctrine", as in the "Louisiana-Monroe Doctrine." This was a warlike doctrine. It asserted the United States' right to intervene militarily into any conflict in the entire Western Hemisphere. Therefore, school cheers could proceed like this:

"Go-ooo Doctrine! In - ter - vene! In - their - business!"

or

"Im - ple - ment! Im - ple - ment! Implement! Implement! Go-oooo Doctrine!"

Back to today's notable victory: I've been to Tuscaloosa. I've been on the campus, and I've seen Alabama's stadium. What a place for Louisiana-Monroe to win! Congratulations, Warhawks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's fun to see certain coaches when they are unhappy. If a coach seems to enjoy an aura of competence juuust a bit too much, it is fun to see them unhappy. Bob Stoops is such a coach.


Nick Saban, also.


Bob and Nick are making an awful lot of money in return for coaching excellence...

Complete wild-hair conjecture:

Look at Nick Saban. He doesn't look happy in any way whatsover.

Tuscaloosa is not an interesting town. It's not a bustling town. It's not a pretty town. It's a long way from being a city. And, from Tuscaloosa, it's a long way to get yourself to anywhere which is interesting, or pretty, or a city.

Nick Saban favors Armani suits. I wonder how happy he and his wife and his children really are in Tuscaloosa? It's hard to imagine a place less hospitable to their vibe. Dennis Franchione's wife, and his other coaches' wives, were reportedly unhappy in Tuscaloosa. It's easy to see why.

For Mrs. Saban: Tuscaloosa is a big step down from Miami. Miami residents wear Armani. Miami rocks. Tuscaloosa... I don't know what they do there - except get drunk on gameday.

Wonderful story from Iraq, Part 2

At the Baghdad church whose replaced cross was documented by Michael Yon's iconic (and MSM-ignored) photo:
the first service with an official priest is held - in Latin - with American soldiers attending as honored guests, and with many Muslims attending the service in honor of their Christian neighbors.

Background: Al Qaeda drove many Christians out of this neighborhood. Muslim residents begged Michael Yon to publicize that Al Qaeda is now gone; and that Muslim residents very much want their Christian neighbors to return to their former homes.

Link to Micheal Yon's photo story of the event - Come Home:
It was the local Muslims, according to LTC Michael, who first came to him[an American commander] for help to protect the Christians in his area. That’s right. LTC Michael told me more than once that the Muslims reached out to him to protect the Christians from al Qaeda. Real Muslims here are quick to say that al Qaeda members are not true Muslims.
When fundamentalist atrocities occur, Americans (like me) frequently ask: "Where are the moderate Muslims?" One place one may find moderate Muslims: sitting front and center in the above photograph.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Earache and Kodiak Island

and power of suggestion.

I watched a documentary, late at night, a couple nights ago, because I had earache pain and could not sleep. The Kodiak bears were fishing as the salmon went upstream to spawn. Gobs of bears. Gobs of salmon.

I stared. I went to the kitchen, got a can opener, and ate part of a can of salmon. And it was good. I'm pretending the fish oil and the fat helped me get to sleep.

Earache and Christmas music

do not go together. When I'm in pain, and Christmas music shows up, and it's not even Thanksgiving, I want to punch somebody.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More advertising genius

Cadbury's Gorilla: the next generation.

Watching this: I was interested, then oddly bored, then laughing at the very end. The girl is obviously hired b/c she can flare her nostrils and sneer like the Cadbury's gorilla. As you watch, it's important to remember Cadbury's slogan: "A glass and a half of joy."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Moment in Time (five posts total)

I intended to stay away from the war, yet I find this an interesting moment in our national history. The following posts are all about some aspect of our nation at this moment.

First:

Why does Hollywood keep churning out anti war movie failure after anti war movie failure? Consider: Rendition; Valley of Elah; Lions for Lambs - spectacular flops all - with Brian DePalma's Redacted (alternate title: "typical American soldiers are rapists") constituting another sure-fire flop which is soon to be released (and boycotted, with some well known bloggers onboard the boycott effort).

Does Hollywood only care about foreign rights? Do they really believe portraying Americans as greedy unprincipled rapists is going to sell domestic tickets?

Bill Katz:
From what I've observed in my own career, there are two reasons these films get made: Parties and employment.

First, Hollywood is social, and it doesn't hurt to take the "correct" point of view if you want to be on the party-circuit A-list.

Second, everyone in Hollywood fears being fired, and most eventually are. You develop a powerful network by going along with the prevailing political winds. If we scratch down deep, we'll find that much of the motivation behind the making of these failing films is personal. The people who approve them, and put dollars behind them, will fail upward, in the great tradition of modern Hollywood.

Why have audiences fled from Hollywood's anti-war movies?

Former soldier and former embedded blogger J.D. Johannes says audiences have fled b/c Hollywood has forsaken the hero who risks his life in a worthy cause. Instead, Hollywood creates movies in which Hallibuton is the enemy, and lawyers, reporters, and activists get to be the heroes. These movies fail, says Johannes, b/c "too many Americans know who the real enemy is." Johannes suspects Hollywood types want to see themselves(activists) as heroes. At some level, Johannes believes Hollywood types are in denial about their own refusal (due to fear) to put their lives on the line for their country.

Former soldier, and current historian and embedded reporter

... Matt Sanchez is risking his life to get the truth to us.
It's hard to explain the shock I got when I finally got into Iraq. Unlike what I had read in the newspapers, I didn't find demoralized troops complaining about a dangerous quagmire in Iraq, and believe me, I asked.
[...]
So often, the business of reporting seemed to deal less with what was happening in Iraq and more with what was happening outside of Iraq.
[...]
To my surprise, most Iraqis knew little or nothing about [Abu Ghraib] and cared even less. The most important topic was security.

A sheik from Ramadi put it best: "We have our own bad people and they are much worse than yours." I was surprised to learn many Iraqis were angry the prison had been closed down, because it showed American weakness.

The big con job the media has inflicted on the American people, by systematically distorting so many details about the conflict in Iraq, does more than skew politics back home; it makes Americans distrust the sources of their information and is an assault on democracy.
[...]
Today, the news from Iraq is increasingly positive – deaths among troops are down by over 70 percent, and Iraqis have largely rejected al-Qaida. But while sectarian violence has plummeted, too many media outlets have stopped reporting on what is, by far, the most defining event of this century.

A free people need a free press, but through omission, exaggeration, bias and just flat-out deceit, the American public has been taken for a ride – and we will all be paying a price.

How often does MSM ignore a major Democrat speech?

Almost never - unless the Democrat in question is Joe Lieberman. Weekly Standard's William Kristol:
If a senator gives a speech, and no major newspaper reports it, does it matter? Joe Lieberman spoke in Washington Thursday on "the politics of national security." The next day, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today ignored his talk. Most Democrats will ignore it.
The End Zone provides news the MSM will not! Joe Lieberman, Thursday, making a speech which was solid gold:
Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America's moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam
[...]
Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus' new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving. . . .
[...]
[T]here is something profoundly wrong--something that should trouble all of us--when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.

There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base--even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.

For me, this episode reinforces how far the Democratic Party of 2007 has strayed.

Sheiks from Iraq's Anbar Province visit Vermont

to personally thank the Vermont National Guard for fighting with their tribes against Al Qaeda:
(Host) Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha spoke through a translator. He said his province has overcome terrorists and insurgents.

(Abu Risha) (voices shift back and forth from Arabic to English) ``Today in this state ... we present this victory ... to the families of the victims of the soldiers in Iraq ... and specifically express our appreciation to the state of Vermont.''

Also:

The Iraqi delegation, fresh off meetings in Washington with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, declared they had achieved victory over al-Qaida insurgents during a visit with Vermont veterans at Norwich University Thursday afternoon.
[...]
"We have defeated al-Qaida in this very large province of Al Anbar as a result of our cooperation with your forces," Mamoon S. Rashid Al-Alwani, governor of Al Anbar, said through an interpreter. "This victory came as a result of our cooperation with your forces and our bloods have spilled together."
I am struck by the tactically intelligent action of getting these Sheiks into America. Not only does it help get the word of victory out to the American people; it also helps get the word of modern possibility out to the Sunni tribes of Iraq; and the word of the near invincibility of America out to those who would militarily oppose America.

Sunni sheiks are businesspersons. They are not religious fundamentalists. It is very, very good for them to see American society with their own eyes. Let them see airports, our seat of government, and shopping malls. Sunni sheiks are smart, ambitious businesspersons. Their visit to America is good for business.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Baseball rumors

via Lone Star Ball:
I was starting to link some of the popular rumors making the rounds, but I can summarize: everyone will sign or be traded to the Yankees, Angels or Mets.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Karzai: Freedom saved 89,000 Afghan children this year



When you hear someone say:
"War is not good for children or other living things,"
you can know that person is being an idiot. When a public schoolteacher teaches your 8 year old:
"War is not good for children or other living things,"
have your 8 year old ask their schoolteacher about this:
"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Close to 90,000 children who would have died before age 5 in Afghanistan during Taliban rule will stay alive this year because of advances in medical care in the country, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

The under-5 child mortality rate in Afghanistan has declined from an estimated 257 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to about 191 per 1,000 in 2006, the Ministry of Public Health said, relying on a new study by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.N. and aid agency Save the Children both hailed the advances in health care in Afghanistan."
When your leftist aunt says: "I just want there to be no war," say: So, you are in favor of the Taliban killing 90,000 Afghan children every year?

B/c I criticize the U.N. sometimes, I wish to point out the U.N. is doing a good job aiding and abetting medical care in Afghanistan.

Look at the little girl in the beautiful red and gold outfit ... she is not happy to be hanging out with Hamid Karzai.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Echoes

Michael Yon titles his post Thanks and Praise:
"A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. 'Thank you, thank you,' the people were saying. One man said, 'Thank you for peace.' Another man, a Muslim, said 'All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.' The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers."

My comment: The Marines at Iwo Jima were planting the flag to say: "Mount Suribachi belongs to America." The additional, unstated message was "Mount Suribachi is free."

The Iraqi planting the cross is saying "This place belongs to Iraqis" - i.e. "I will place this cross if I choose to. This place belongs to me." The additional, unstated message is "This is a place of peace."

The linkage between the images is obvious. The symbolic power of the image of the Iraqi planting the cross is immense.

Wretchard:
"It is strange that in history every true victory is about the same thing -- not territorial expansion or power -- but the affirmation of the essential equality and brotherhood of man.
[...]
In the War against extremism, as in Iwo Jima, the worst may be yet to come. But it's good to take a deep breath and remember what the journey is all about."


Michael Yon is offering his photo, free of charge, to all news outlets. I wonder if any will take him up on his offer?

Seems an interesting moment to put up, L to R: Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Feingold, Rep. Murtha, and Maj. Leader Reid.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why do you believe in Christianity?

instead of believing in another religion?

So asked Rachel Lucas in a blogpost titled
"This should turn out really, really well."
[Correction: Rachel is not an atheist. She believes in God, yet does not self-identify with any religion.]

Her opening sentence:
"Sometimes I get in the mood to debate Christians. WHY? Dunno."

It's a credit to Rachel that civilized Blog Comments discussion broke out over the ensuing 24 hours, and has yet to abate.

Rachel's question is a gift. It motivates valuable reflection about one's most intimate beliefs.


My first comment (slightly edited):

First:
The wisdom of the Christian Gospels clunks deep inside my soul. It is profound. I find it illogically conspiratorial to believe uninspired men dreamed that wisdom up — whether in the interests of self-aggrandizement, or even in the cause of doing good. I do not believe men created the lessons of the Gospels - inclu. the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees - on their own initiative.

Second:
Watergate figure Chuck Colson’s writing affected me. Colson focused on Jesus’ resurrection. If the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity is a lie. Colson focused on the Apostles. After the resurrection, the Apostles spent the remainder of their lives travelling the land, preaching the news about Jesus. This was not materially beneficial to the Apostles. They suffered for their actions. They left behind their families, and their former material prospects. They suffered threat of death and imprisonment. If Jesus had merely died; if the Apostles had not witnessed His resurrection, their subsequent actions are illogical.

Third:
Compared to Christianity, I find other religions shallow and wanting.

For instance: Part of Buddhism’ shallowness is that it is largely about avoiding pain. I believe pain exists for eternal purpose.

Hinduism: Many Gods? No.

Islam: Purports legal rules for governing + Allah has freedom to act in unreasonable fashion. No.

Judaism: I love Judaism. However, I believe Jesus updated Judaism(perfecting it, natch). As an example, there is no modern day purpose for keeping certain foods separated from each other.

However, I don’t discount Judaism on the basis of nitpicks. I’m not certain I hang on every single word of the New Testament, either. The main reason I am not Jewish is that I believe in the Christian Gospels.

Fourth:
Most atheists refuse to acknowledge truth which cannot be explained via Earthbound logic. This is where most atheists fail to comprehend religion and spirituality. Our existence is not merely about our time on Earth, and our existence is not merely about what humans can logically, horizontally understand and conceive.




My second comment:

I have read or skimmed all of these comments. Most non Christian comments are focused on Earthbound logic. Most Christian comments are focused on truth the Christian commenters can sense, yet cannot explain via Earthbound logic and language. This separation between Earthbound logical understanding vs. Christian spiritual understanding is the gap which must be breached if one is to make the leap from non Christian to Christian.

I know what it is like to stand on the non Christian side of this gap. From there, the Christians look like illogical idiots. I can only say, if you are standing on the non Christian side of this gap: as a Christian, I believe there is more to existence than what can be explained and understood via human words. There is tangible truth which does not exist at a level of understanding definitions and concepts. This truth only exists at a level of experiencing it; of interacting with it; of living it. One cannot understand a Christian unless one is a Christian. Christianity is either experienced, or not understood.

People who have life after death experiences frequently say the same thing:
“I suddenly understood everything. There are not human words to describe what I understood.”

The Christian experience is somewhat like that.

When commenters use descriptions such as “inspired”, or “faith”, they are trying to describe what cannot be described, and what can only be experienced. There have been outstanding, educational comments which have been blessings to me. Rather than those, I have picked out some comments which focus on the unexplainable:

Mighty Samurai @ 10:15 pm: you are basically asking them [Christians] to explain that which is fundamentally inexplicable.

Bob(a nonbeliever) @ 4:25 pm: Subjective experiences…evidence that was sufficient to convince him… but for him, his “faith” was a rational thing supported by the evidence of his own senses.

Jacob @ 5:07 pm: I choose to believe based on personal, subjective experience. I feel a connection with God, a certain peace or joy, when I pray. There’s simply no better way to put it.

Cosmo @ 6:05 pm: So why do I practice my Latter-day Saint faith today? It has less to do with what I’ve read as it does with what I feel. That’s the sticky item with things spiritual. I believe, based on personal experience, that God reveals his truths to those who seek him….

abd @ 6:11 pm: I forget who wrote this, but I remember a quote that went something like, “I was an atheist until I looked at my sleeping child and admired his ear. The perfection and beauty of the ear made me believe in God.” (Not the exact words.) I’ve had similar experiences. When I’ve been at my lowest, such as when I wanted to kill myself about ten years ago, I remember praying as a last resort, because everything else I tried didn’t help me feel better. After I prayed, I felt more calm and at peace. When I have specifically asked God for help in dealing with a difficult situation, there has been an “answer” for me in that I feel what’s “right.” There is a feeling that I have experienced from time to time, and it’s the proof I need.

Chris @ 8:30 pm is a scientist who spends many words on logical evaluation. Yet, his Christianity finally comes down to unexplainable conception which is guaranteed to drive most atheist readers crazy:
I became a Christian as an adult… I have never questioned that decision, because I know it to be right. I cannot debate it, or argue it, but I know it to be right just the same. I have on numerous occasions wondered whether I was wrong, or whether I really believed, but when I examine myself, I know that what I believe is true.

Richtermarc @ 10:42 pm: I demand logical arguments and proof. And yet, every so often, the Creator of the Universe will break through and show me something so freaking amazing that I have no choice but to fall down and worship Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

Wondering Woman @ 10:05 am: I wish I could give you something concrete because I know exactly what you’re asking because your words were mine not so long ago…. You know the pictures you have to stare at for awhile and then they suddenly pop into 3D and after that you can never see them any other way …. I think that’s why Christians have such a hard time explaining how they know — you just do.

Monday, November 05, 2007

How good is Adrian Peterson?


Seriously. How good? At this moment, no one knows the answer ... not even Adrian.

It's not like the Chargers were desperately trying to stop Brooks Bollinger's passing game. Whillakers.

Look at the muscle definition in Adrian Peterson's arm. An OU Asst. Coach, interviewed on radio, said Adrian Peterson is a force of nature in workouts. Gives no quarter, ever. LIKES contact in workouts. Seeks it out. Got mad when he had to wear a "don't hit this player" jersey in practice. Won every single conditioning sprint during his entire stay in Norman. Every one. Every practice. How good is this guy?


Changing subject: How bad were the uniforms in that game?

Ten or so years ago, the Chargers turned maybe the best uniform in NFL history into a still beautiful dark blue jersey uniform. Now, the Chargers have turned a still beautiful uniform into a pedestrian uniform. Uniform-wise, the organization is going backwards. For the good of the league, and the nation, Roger Goodell should step in with a heavy hand. If the Chargers put on some gold pants, or a dynamic shade of California sky-blue pants, all would be forgiven.

On the other side of the scrimmage line, the Vikings have turned a classically simple uniform into a clown suit. The Vikings helmet emblem has clean lines. The clean helmet clashes with the clamorous uniform. Blegh.

Last: Consider the RBs who have come through Norman:

Billy Vessels (Heisman Trophy)
Prentice Gautt (College Football Hall of Fame)
Steve Owens (Heisman Trophy)
Joe Washington
Greg Pruitt (College Football Hall of Fame + 5 NFL Pro Bowls)*
Billy Sims (Heisman Trophy + on periphery of "best ever in NFL" argument)
David Overstreet
Marcus Dupree (on periphery of "best ever" argument)
Adrian Peterson

6 of the 9 RBs are from Texas, exceptions being Vessels and Gautt - Oklahoma, and Dupree - Mississippi.


*was impetus for NCAA banning use of tear-away jerseys: "The Greg Pruitt Rule". In a 10 game 1971 season, sharing carries in a 3 back Wishbone Option, Greg Pruitt rushed for 1665 yards, averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Take a moment to let that sink in.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Blogworld in Madison, WI

Yahoo's outstanding blogger about business and entrepreneurship, and Madison resident: Penelope Trunk

Not that I really know what my husband is doing, though, because we are barely talking. We are doing what I imagine lots of couples do when things fall apart: Acting totally normal at events where normal families show up as families, and then pretending we don’t know each other at home.
[...]
So we are interviewing babysitters
[...]
While I was conducting an interview, my husband was scurrying around getting camp lunches ready for the next day. This is an endearing thing about my husband - he is the king of details, and I am terrible with them. Every time there is something wrong in the lunchbox, my son comes home and asks if I could please not pack his lunch anymore.

So my husband was running around the house and he bumped into me. A normal thing to do would be to say I’m sorry. But we are not talking to each other. And the babysitter saw that an opportunity to be normal was somehow missed.

I needed to say something to explain the weirdness, because good babysitters do not work in homes of messed up families. I thought a little story might make things feel like I have some control. So I said, “Um. My husband and I are, uh. Well. We are…”

And the babysitter said, “Oh, don’t worry. I know. I read your blog.”