Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meltdown at the DePriest House

The Fighting Texas Aggies just lost to the Red Wolves of Arkansas State University. The final score was 18-14. The Ags missed 2 field goals and failed to punch it in with 2nd and goal from the 1. Don't bother calling because I am not answering the phone.

I blame myself. Sophie is not wearing her Aggie Cheerleader uniform. I figured we were playing ASU and the Ags wouldn't need the big guns. I don't think I will make that mistake again. Soph has tried to comfort me the only way a 4 year-old knows how. She gave me a big hug. I did feel better and the game didn't seem important anymore.

I will be ok in a little while. Probably not tonight, but definitely by tomorrow morning. If this had happened 10 years ago, I would have been in a funk for a week. I guess that is called "perspective". I just hope this whole season doesn't need a lot of this kind of perspective.

By the way, I wouldn't call Chip or Cable after this particular game. They haven't figured out this perspective thing yet. I hope your teams fared better this weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

College Football Returns!!!

Well, it has been over 8 months since the last college game. The wait for real football (not spring games, recruiting, or NFL exhibition games) is over. I am very excited about it. College football is my favorite sport these days (once this was major league baseball). Sadly, the two teams that I am interested in watching are playing "directional" schools, so they will not be on television.

I gave you my reasons for hating soccer last week, so this week I will give you my reasons for loving college football.

Debates -- The system of determining a champion in college football's highest classification is so screwed up that it actually encourages debates about "Mythical National Champions". For example, invite an Alabama and Arkansas fan to your next party and ask them who won the 1964 National Championship. I bet they have different answers. Arkansas's argument is so legitimate that the AP changed their rules after that season.

Teams You Love To Hate -- To about half of the population of college football fans, the Fighting Irish are a symbol of all that is wrong with our country (entitlement, elitist, etc.) while the other half believes that Notre Dame is the best team on the planet. My list of teams that I want to see lose every Saturday includes Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, Oklahoma and Texas. I would likely throw a big party if all were to lose on the same day.

Irrational Fans -- These are the guys that lurk on message boards for the faintest hint that a 17-year old from Timbuktu who runs a 4.3 40-yard dash has included their school in his final three. It is kind of sad that their weekends can be ruined because the whims of a teenager didn't include attending their favorite school. These irrational fans include my dad who begins EVERY season with the expectation that the Razorbacks will lose at most 2 games because, "The Hogs are good, but you know how stout the SEC is. You KNOW that they would win any other conference."

Rivalries -- Michigan/OSU, USC/Notre Dame, Texas/Texas A&M (the BEST ONE!), etc. Sure, I know the Yankees and Red Sox don't like each other, but you will see the players that play for both teams during their career. The same goes for the Bears and Packers. In college football, they play 3 hours for 365 days of bragging rights that can't be escaped until the next clash with that rival. You will find strange and humiliating wagers associated with these games.

So, if you are wondering my plans for weekends over the next few months, I will be trying to find someway to watch football on Saturdays. If fate is kind to me, the Aggies will be on TV. If not, I will be re-living the last two Fridays after Thanksgiving. I have bragging rights until that day. That's when they go up for grabs in the Lonestar Showdown.


**Cross Posted at the Arkansas 7-on-7 Football.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kindred Spirits*


Well, my soccer post generated more than just a comment. In my email, I had a note from my buddy Cable who was mentioned in the post. He has put even more thought into his hatred of the foul Un-American game that is soccer. I asked him if I could put the email into my blog. He has agreed.

So, what should you know about Cable? He is a nuclear engineer working as a researcher at Texas A&M. He will finish his Ph.D. soon, right Cable? He has two kids and a very patient wife. I imagine living with him is almost as difficult as living with me. Basically, I believe that the only thing that has ever caused us to disagree is an R. C. Slocum/Jackie Sherrill debate that has gone on for at least 10 years now. He has finally (reluctantly) admitted that the dismissal of R. C. as the Aggies head coach was a mistake.

Without further ado, here is Cable's top ten list. It even finishes with a David Letterman twist.


*Post by Guest Blogger Cable Kurwitz

Hey Russ,

Nice article. You should read this Guardian editorial. However, there is growing evidence that it is a weak link [between soccer and communism/socialism].

I continue to stand by my soccer = socialism theory and feel Jack Kemp said it best when he stated, "a distinction should be made that football is democratic capitalism, whereas soccer is a European socialist sport." I do not agree with Franklin Foer who stated in his book, “[soccer] represents a direct threat to American culture and tradition.” I felt his conclusions were more anti-American than anti-soccer. I dislike the global game of soccer because of its simplicity, constantly running clock, and the idea that you could essentially never take risks and tie every match. I dislike the European terms, the lack of grading, and/or the failure to develop a method of accurately grading players performance. Most of all, I dislike the continued desire by those socialists within our borders to be more like the world and embrace soccer. As Europe slouches back toward socialism and a communist wave pours over South America, I realize that doing the opposite of what world thinks is the better course of action. So, with this in mind, here is my top 10 list of arguments against soccer:

  1. Soccer is the ultimate game of the state that seeks to smash the individual and promote the state. Why do you always see the shots of the Proletariat cheering with the little, faceless players on the large expanse of some super stadium with a name like The Giant of Alberdi or the Big Stick? Baseball is perfect because it promotes the individual. A bad pitcher can’t be helped by the rest of the team. Also, because all 162 games in baseball count (no friendlies), one can compile statistics to accurately rank each player. As in America, the individual triumphs.
  2. Why do the officials appear to be secret police types with black uniforms?
  3. What is a yellow or red card? Do you collect them like baseball cards? What would you do if someone ran up and shoved a yellow index card in your face? I would have a hard time not laughing or ripping it up and handing it back to Mr. KGB.
  4. My favorite example is the organized hooligans associated with each team similar to the Nazi stormtroopers or red guards. Heck, this is celebrated in Berkeley with a match of anarchists named after the Kronstadt or communist aptly named the Left Wing.
  5. Everyone gets an equal chance to play!
  6. As one city official told me (and I later saw on TV), “We don’t keep score so everyone wins.”
  7. As Russ mentioned, soccer is played with the feet like some animal versus proper sports that utilize our hands.
  8. Why is the timing of the world cup similar to the typical Russian/Chinese 5 year plan?
  9. Soccer is the only sport with the capability of ruining a WWII Stallone movie.
  10. Finally, soccer shoe maker Umbro markets the Zyklon shoe. What a gas!

Thanks, Cable. I don't feel like the lone kook on this one anymore. There are at least two of us.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why I Hate Soccer

Over the years, people have noticed that I have distinct dislike for the game of soccer. When people first asked about the hostility toward futbol, I would usually say something like, "It is boring." The dislike was actually a gut feeling that went beyond the fact that the game is boring. I just didn't know how to say, "I have a visceral hatred for the game that I can't quite define."

Years later, my buddy (Cable) brought forth the theory that the popularity of soccer in Latin America was well correlated with the spread of communism in the same region. So, for lack of a better explanation, this became my answer when I was asked about the growing hostility toward the game. I know that correlation is not the same as causation, but I wanted to avoid being associated with anything that might be communistic.

After pondering the question for some time, I think I have finally hit on the real answer. First, I believe that three things separate humans from animals: (1) a soul; (2) the ability to reason; and (3) opposable thumbs. While I don't want to call soccer players and fans soulless (even though it is possible), I think that the game of soccer insults at least two of these three differences. In other words, it draws us closer to animals rather than further from them.

Here is how soccer works against reason. The basis of the human intellect and reason is our brain. A very hard skull protects it from injury. Parents are now putting helmets on kids for all manner of activities. In sports that have the possibility of head injury, they put on helmets. The athletes getting prepared for football, baseball, cycling, hockey, and NASCAR stop to put on a helmet to protect their brain. Think about that. The redneck climbing into a race car puts on a helmet while youth soccer coaches encourage kids to go home and practice hitting the soccer ball with their heads. This is contrary to every human instinct of protecting the brain. The only other sport that comes close to this is the brutality of professional boxing.

Soccer violates another of the differences between humans and animals when it requires the players to ignore their hands. Other sports (basketball, tennis, curling, even poker) pay homage to the fact that we have opposable thumbs and can pick up and control tools with our hands. In soccer, you can be kicked out of the game for exercising the instinct to use your hands.

So, there you have it. That's why I hate soccer.

AND, I didn't even get into the non-competitive attitude of youth soccer and how that will damage American competitiveness in the world economy. Before you say it, that doesn't make me a kook.


Here is a very good article about the some of the problems facing the nuclear renaissance that I wrote about earlier.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

For Those of You That Still Doubt the Agenda...

Ok. Thanks to all commentators (Josh, Kristy, Annie, and Lora Lee) for encouraging me to continue writing for a while longer. A day doing hands-on "approach to critical experiments" with highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the famed Superblock facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has given me some inspiration to find something to write about. For those that don't know (no offense, but I am pretty sure that is almost anyone that is not a nuclear geek or anti-nuclear protester), Superblock is LLNL's plutonium research facility. Here are some pictures from previous classes (if you look closely, you can see the cute little PU [plutonium] skunk on the lab coats). They have been taking pictures during the class, so eventually my class will make onto that site.

So, it took me about 10 minutes of web surfing to find something that really ticked me off. To me, it also proved that government science is not what it once was. On August 4th, Anthony Watts posted a story about a negative trend in the carbon dioxide level as measured at the Mauna Loa observatory for the first time since the measurements began. On August 5th, Anthony decided to check the data again. Amazingly, the data has CHANGED less than 24 hours after his post. Anthony has a very nice blink comparator of the changes to the data that occurred.

What's the big deal? Well, for one thing, the increasing trend in the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is one of the driving forces behind "Cap and Trade" legislation for energy producers and huge carbon taxes on individuals. If the trend was started to go negative despite increased energy production in such places as China and India, it would conclusively show that humanity has little effect on the already trace amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In any case, I couldn't find a statement of the NOAA website that either explained why the data had been changed (or even that it had changed). There is a disclaimer on the site that says it is "subject to change." We are talking about a measurement with an instrument. If my data from experiments (like those today) were "subject to change," no one would ever have confidence in me as a nuclear scientist and my ethics would be called into question (especially if all my changes favored my hypotheses). It is truly astonishing the amount of change that is tolerated in the name of climate science.

Anthony was a little more industrious (you can see how if you read his post) and got an answer that satisfied him. A commentator on Watt's Up With That summarized my entire problem with this adjustment:

  • "The changes go all the way back to 1974 (for those who haven’t seen the other thread). I sometimes theorize that NOAA & GISS must have time machines that allow them to get new readings 34+ years after the fact. I can imagine no other reason that policy makers base decisions worth hundreds of billions on an ever-shifting chimera of data."

We are being asked to support further research on global warming by people that are not only adjusting temperature data on a monthly basis, but they are also now adjusting carbon dioxide measurements (not model calculations) that go back over 30 years. To me, this requires faith in both the time travel abilities of these teams and a high confidence in their ethical standards. I just don't have either. And until James Hanson or Pieter Tans (the latest data adjuster) walk on water, I never will.

AND, I will continue to believe that the whole man-made global warming thing is a big grab for governmental control of our lives.

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