Monday, December 31, 2007

great coaching

Just watched the end of the Chick-fil-a Bowl. (That's the Peach Bowl for you fellow bowl name purists out there.) In light of how the game ended, I find myself kinda wishing the Hogs had been able to swipe Tommy Tuberville away from Auburn. Let me explain...

The game is in the first overtime. Clemson had the first possession and kicked a field goal, so the score is 20-17 Clemson. Auburn faces a 4th down and a half-yard or so at the Clemson 15. The announcers are adamant that Auburn should play it safe and kick the field goal to send the game into another overtime period. But unlike the announcers, Tuberville has guts. He goes all-or-nothing and keeps his offense on the field to go for it. They run a quarterback sneak straight up the middle and get the first down. Three plays later, an Auburn runningback jogs into the end zone. Game over, Auburn wins 23-20.

You see, real coaches go for it in such 4th down situations. Coaches who just take the safe, easy way out are basically either too scared to put the game on the line or not confident enough in their own players to come through. Rolling over and sending a give-up message is a good way to lose, but sending a message of confidence by being aggressive and challenging one's players to step up wins games. Beyond that, it makes for much more exciting football. Somewhere, Gregg Easterbrook is smiling right now.

quiz: who does this refer to?

"Being non-male and non-white, she is slightly more sacred than God, if only in that she is allowed on federal property." -- Fred

i hate making sacrifices

Now probably isn't a great time to blog anything, and not just because it's well past midnight and I have to work tomorrow (today, whatever). I'm not liking my life too much right about now. Some time yesterday was spent trying to guesstimate next year's budget for my "Poor Man's Personal Finance Package" spreadsheet, and...nah, that didn't go too well. So I revisited it today, and that didn't go any better. Seems that even if I cut way back on some things that I hold in rather high regard, and even after some unexpected slight windfalls, necessary expenses still chew up practically all of my paycheck, leaving little for savings and next to nothing for rainy-day stuff or leisure. And when you live in a ridiculously overpriced area like Maryland, or anywhere in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic for that matter, that's a very, very bad thing.

So...I look at the upcoming year and see little possibility of buying a house (meaning I throw away another several thousand dollars in rent), zero possibility of overseas travel, considerably scaled back prospects for domestic travel, very little investment for the future (retirement? what the heck is that?), not a lot of spending money, and potentially great damage from unknowns like car trouble or medical costs that could bite me at any moment and have before, and...what am I supposed to think? Other people somehow seem to pull off this whole life do they do it? I simply can't help but feel like a fish out of water. Whatever it takes to get somewhere, or feel like one is getting somewhere, I don't have it. I often wonder if that's due to my career, or region of the country, or lots of things, but who knows. Whatever it is, I wouldn't mind having it.

Invariably, I always end up at the same lingering question in times like this. After suffering through six years of engineering school, doing what I could to save money and strap myself with as little debt as reasonably possible during my college days, and approaching five years in the workforce, shouldn't my outlook be a little brighter than this? I mean, even just a little bit? What the heck is going on here? When a lot of your hope and drive is premised on the idea that things will get better with time, and then they don't get better...well, that sucks.

In light of that, it's very easy to see the appeal of just "disappearing to the world" somehow. My version of that bounces between missions work and expatriation these days. Though I'm realizing as I get older that I just don't have the tools necessary in the mission field and expatting would be a long shot given my circumstances, it's nice to imagine myself just somehow losing a lot of the strife I have now and getting to "hit the reset button" somewhere else where life wouldn't be quite as hard or depressing. How life would actually be is a huge unknown of course, but it's nice to think about nonetheless. Just the idea of trying something like that, for better or worse, is nice. It'd be even nicer if the chances of that happening looked a bit better.

It's also very easy to see why people become workaholics, or couch potatoes or busy-freaks. If you're always occupied with something that allows you to zone in on short-term goals or the here-and-now, you don't have to think about bigger questions that don't have answers. Methinks there's a great appeal to that sort of thing for people who would rather not confront beasts they can't deal with. After all, ignoring a problem does tend to make it go away for a while. And if there's no discernible long-term solution anyway and it's just frustrating to think about, then why think about it at all? Something tells me this doesn't work for everything, but something else tempts me to give it a try anyway, much more so than I do now.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

down but still dangerous

Have been watching the Bears lay a beatdown on the Saints, currently 31-17 in the 3rd quarter. It has occurred to me today how incredible Devin Hester is. I mean, I've seen him before and he's good, but even being the Bears fan I am, I thought the hype was a little overblown. Heck, teams go out of their way and sacrifice some field position to not punt to him and avoid kicking to him.

On a day like today it's not hard to see why. The guy has caught a long TD pass already, and should have caught another one were it not for some blatant double-team pass interference at the goal line that went uncalled. (Digression: If you're a defender, and you're between the receiver and the ball, and the receiver is trying to slow down and reach around you for the ball but can't because you're not slowing down, and you make so little effort to pay attention to the ball that it hits you in the back, then you just committed pass interference, right? Is this not obvious? It's not like the guy was playing the ball -- it bounced off his freakin' back! Geez, does he have to rip a limb off to get interference called? Anyway...) And get this: the Saints, like most other Bears opponents this year, purposely punt the ball out of bounds every time just so Hester can't touch it. Well, on their first punt after halftime, the punter doesn't angle it enough and keeps the ball in bounds a little...and whaddayaknow, Hester runs it back for a TD. Amazing. It's as if you aren't just worried about stopping the guy but know he'll hurt you bad if allowed to get his hands on the ball.

Also, the Saints are supposedly still alive in the playoff hunt, but they have to win today and would still need help. Well, I got news for ya, 'Aints: if you have to win out to make the postseason, and you last game is against the Chicago Bears, then you just ain't gonna make the postseason. That's that.

Another thing worth pointing out...consider mighty Green Bay's record:

vs. all teams except Chicago: 14-0
vs. Chicago: 0-2 (including last week-s 35-7 rout)

Doesn't matter who you are, you just don't mess wi' DA BEARS!!!

UPDATE: Bears 33, Saints 25. Slam! And speaking of playoffs, Dallas and Washington are playing, with Washington controlling its own postseason destiny. I really don't want the Deadskins to win because I'll hear about them that much more if they're in the playoffs, and I'd much rather see Minnesota in there because I like them more and they're a much more exciting team this year. But I sure as hell can't root for the Cowgirls. Never in my life -- EVER -- will I root for Dallas. Not even against New England did I root for Dallas. So I guess, in light of such a dilemma, I have to hang the Vikes out and pull for Washington. Been a while since I faced a sports dilemma that harsh though.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

evolution analogy

As told by Fred here:
We're told that a jillion years ago all sorts of glop and gunch sloshed around in the primeval seas, and lo! a wee little amoeba-thingy accidentally assembled itself, the way a car does when you shake a bin of parts.
That's an awesome analogy! One of the best I've heard for sure. I shall seek to repeat it at every opportunity.

perhaps the best fred column of them all

This one is a concise but detailed swipe at that bastion of "progressive" thought, affirmative action, and it also gets in some jabs at the habits of the "elite" and those whose emotions do their thinking, among other deserving targets. Consider the following paragraph:
In order to accomplish all of this, we must have the support of much of the public, and of influential institutions, particularly the press. I believe it is possible. We must argue, as noted above, that welfare is the road of compassion, and appeal endlessly to warm feelings unaccompanied by thought. The elites of the White world crave a sense of helping the downtrodden. They do not, however, want to make difficult decisions.
The whole thing is that good, well worth a read or five.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

winston churchill quotes

Was online earlier today to confirm the first quote in the following list and ended up finding tons more awesome Churchill quotes. That guy is as good a quote machine as any leader has ever been. Guys like that are great -- good leaders who are witty and not prone to hold back on what they really think. By the way, is it any accident that every great leader always seems to be of that mold? Methinks not. Anyway, here are some gems I found on a Churchill quote page. There were a lot of good ones over there but I decided to grab a handful and post them here too. Enjoy!
"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

"This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read."

"We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

"We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."

"There is no such thing as a good tax."

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
And last but not least, that all time favorite, one of the best quotes ever (drumroll)...
"I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."
Winston Churchill was the man.

Monday, December 24, 2007

bad timing

Um, Merry Christmas, Scott Skiles. Hope you get a job for Christmas, seeing that your former employer decided to hand over your gift a day early in the form of a pink slip. Talk about horrible timing...and we thought Petrino's midseason walk-out was bad. At least Skiles seems to be taking it in stride. But still, that move alone is enough to make me despise the Chicago Bulls for the foreseeable future. Who can really root for a team with management like that?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

commentary on the meaning of christmas

I've talked about how I like CNN's Roland Martin before. Even though he tends to lean left on social stuff, he appears to be a smart guy who isn't afraid to call out nonsense wherever he sees it. His most recent commentary on is further proof of that. In particular, check out this paragraph:
What if families decided to forgo gifts, and instead, used their shopping days giving back to those in need? What if more of us went into our closets, grabbed old toys and clothes, repackaged them, and provided them as gifts to those without? Instead of gorging on food, what if we used some of the dough to feed those who are in need? What if we blew off those gift cards to electronic retailers and signed up with, and gave someone a gift card to their favorite charity?
That's a heck of a good idea. Just make Christmas giving about giving gifts to those who need some real help and not just more excess, even if we don't know who those people are. (By the way, should it say anything about us if we can think long and hard and yet not come up with a single person we know who might fit that description?) Anyone care to hold their breath until that happens on more than a miniscule scale in America?

mclaughlin group on ron paul

I ended up watching The McLaughlin Group early this afternoon while waiting desperately for the NFL games to start. This show is usually interesting, more so than similar shoutfests on the channels that cover politics 24/7, because the host and panel often come from several different angles on any given issue. Today's was a good show but a little different in that the theme was "2007 Year End Awards" and there wasn't as much arguing ("debating" would be too civil a term for the screaming matches that such shows always include) amongst the panel members. But, much to my surprise, Ron Paul was getting all kinds of recognition from the panel.

For one, McLaughlin said Paul was the politician of the year because he has singlehandedly moved topics like the gold standard, blowback, and the Constitution from the fringes to the mainstream of conservative political thought. (By the way, someone else gave my other Republican hero Tancredo the award because even though he looked like "a right-wing crackpot" early in the race for harping so much on immigration and refusing to let it go, the issue is now front-and-center and Tancredo's hard-line ideas don't look so crazy and unpopular anymore.) Another panelist said Paul is the capitalist of the year for using a relatively new fundraising medium -- the internet -- to raise several million dollars in each of two 24-hour events and thereby catapult himself into the thick of the race. As if that weren't enough, someone else said he's the person of the year because he's managed to interject much-needed doses of reality into the wayward Republicrat party and has built a more devoted and frothing base than anyone else in politics right now. Seriously. (That was from one of the liberals, of course -- not that I disagree with her assessment.)

I wouldn't go as far as some of the panelists when it comes to Paul's popularity and impact on the race (yet), but there's no question that he's at least getting some play now and so his ideas are becoming more known and accepted. He has gone from being completely ignored to being a laughingstock upstart to being someone that the media and other candidates are paying more attention to and taking more potshots at. And -- much as in spiritual warfare, by the way -- attention from one's opponent(s) implies that one must be making waves and becoming a threat to whatever it is the opposition holds dear. Just the fact that he's getting such attention at all speaks volumes.

Paul's campaign is doing very well, too, unlike the campaigns of most of the Republicrats. In particular, his internet focus was and is a great tactical move, as he can reach plenty of people despite his lack of mainstream popularity and refusal of many of the puppet masters to take his ideas seriously. His sheer numbers in online polls and dollars raised are forcing him to at least be mentioned by more talking heads. And one must get some run from the talking heads, of course, if he hopes to be taken seriously by more than 5% of the population, as relying on folks to dig up the facts and do their research on candidates in order to do their own thinking is most certainly a losing proposition in contemporary America. It could even be argued that Paul has more momentum now than any of the Republicrats save the Huckster. Hopefully that will continue.

Overall, even though The McLaughlin Group is not as mainstream as some of the other shows out there, it's nice to see a few known columnists discussing Ron Paul as a force in politics. As gaffes like the mortgage "crisis" (depends on what side you're on I suppose) and rapidly shrinking U.S. influence abroad continue to develop, Paul's platform of limited government makes more and more sense. Do I think he has a realistic shot of winning the nomination? Hey, this is America, one of the last places a guy who's advocating principles over money and feel-good BS could expect to find success. But at least his cause is gathering steam.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

easterbrook on the detroit lions

This quote from one of Gregg Easterbrook's recent Tuesday Morning Quarterback columns made me laugh for a while:
... After rushing for a total of 164 yards in their previous four games, all losses, the Lions rushed for 152 yards against the Cowboys. That seemed to do the trick, as Detroit led 20-7 late in the second quarter and 27-21 late in the fourth. But when you represent the city that thinks the 12-mpg SUV is the vehicle of the future, you find a way to lose. ...
Finally, someone has figured out why the Lions are hopelessly doomed to miss the playoffs every year. The aura of stupidity and failure emanating from the auto makers in the area, and perhaps including the football stadium named Ford Field that the Lions call home, is so overpowering that the team can't escape it. That quote captures so much truth outside of football as well...

Monday, December 10, 2007

the diamond hoax cont'd

Just saw the back cover of The Week I pulled the commentary for the previous post from, and lo and behold, what's the advertisement on the back? got it. It has a picture of what appears to be a bracelet of some sort--I'm quite proud of my inability to determine precisely what kind of jewelry it is, by the way--and in big block letters, it says, "Hey, what do you know, she thinks you're funny again." And at the bottom, in smaller letters..."A Diamond Is Forever."

Does this strike anyone else as sick and grotesque advertising? It'd better. But just for the sake of argument, let me see if I can figure out what message I'm supposed to draw from it. I suppose that if I'm having trouble in my relationship with my significant other, I need to go out and buy some expensive jewelry--diamonds, to be exact--and that'll fix whatever the problem is. Time? Humility? Self-sacrifice? Forget it. Those are all wasted effort. Plus, they require dedication for extended periods of time before they work. The real fix is diamonds, and they provide that precious quick gratification that only requires a trip to the mall and a piece of plastic. Sure, that makes perfect sense. Yeah $&%#ing right.

A worse thing is, these commercials are all over the boob tube channels in force these days. Heck, it's like that sacred shopping holiday is coming around again. They make me sick too. They've got all those elements--extreme (and I mean extreme) sappiness, horrible jingle and music, absurd one-liners, portrayal of women's wants as men's requirements, etc.--that make for an unbearably annoying commercial.

What's even worse is, they must actually work or the diamond pushers wouldn't be dropping so much money to run them. Are there really such bumbling idiots out there that are buying into this crap? If so, identify yourselves so I'll know who to laugh at and take pity on. As for me, I seriously don't know of a more immediate and guaranteed turn-off of any woman than a desire for expensive and exquisite jewelry--or expensive and exquisite anything for that matter. In fact, for any reasonable person, such a desire would be a huge source of contention. So at least I should be well-protected from the horrors of ever having to live out one of those commercials.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

reading, intellect, technology, etc., #689035

The editor's commentary by William Falk in the December 7 issue of The Week is worth repeating:
When I'm in a masochistic mood, I survey the 8:03 into the city to see how many of my fellow drones are passing the time by reading. Only about half the people have their noses in newspapers, magazines, and (rarely) books. The rest are either dozing or entertaining themselves with iPods, laptops loaded wtih TV shows and movies, and hand-held devices that their owners peck at frantically, like pigeons in a Skinner box. I find this not a little depressing, and not just because my only marketable skill is to string words together in some reasonably useful order. In five years, or 10, will anyone besides us ancients from the per-Internet era read for pleasure? The trends are not encouraging. A new report by the National Endowment for the Arts found that 15- to 24-year-olds spend an average of just seven minutes a day on voluntary reading. Two-thirds of all college freshmen said they almost never read a book or an article outside of their schoolwork.

So what? you might fairly ask. Young people are reading plenty on the Web, and texting, and expressing themselves on MySpace and Facebook and 10 million blogs. But on the Web, as National Journal media critic William Powers has pointed out, you don't really read. You "forage," jumping from link to link, entry to entry, message to message. It's a world of fragmented attention and immediate gratification. Reading a book, or a well-constructed article, on the other hand, seduces you into putting everything aside; you have to focus. That practice develops concentration, and the capacity to follow--and express--complex thoughts and ideas. Not surprisingly, national tests have found that the ability to write and read complex materials is withering, even among graduate students. Read a whole book? R U serious? LOL.
Huh? Concentration? What's that? That bit hits home for sure, as I rarely read anything longer than a semi-lengthy article and my concentration skills are completely nonexistent. Heck, the last time I read books regularly, like maybe five or more "real" ones in a year, was sometime before high school. One of the effects of this--and something that contributes to the downward spiral of one's ability to concentrate--was revealed to me recently when a few of us at work took some online ADD-detecting test thing and I scored barely under its threshold for treatable ADD. Not that I put a ton of stock in one online test, but it is at least a hint.

And the sad thing is, as the commentary shows, I'm not alone. A couple of co-workers had stratospheric scores on the test, and it doesn't take long to realize that most people around us are apparently incapable or undesirous of sustaining deep, thought-provoking discussions without tuning out or getting overly emotional. And supposedly the number of people diagnosed with some form of attention disorder is skyrocketing, although it's pretty obvious to me that such a problem is not as much a "disorder" or "disease" as a culturally-driven condition that is a direct result of the frantic pace of every part of life these days. In a world where people just jump among popcorn tasks from the moment they wake up to when they fall asleep (i.e., after their mind finally slows down enough to allow for sleep), the practice of sitting calmly for long periods and reading something can't even be grasped much less undertaken.

There are several paths to take here, as the comments hit on a lot of problems. The last part of the first paragraph is quite surprising. I mean, seven minutes of voluntary reading per day? Since it's nearly impossible to read even a short article in a mere seven minutes, the average is certainly being brought down by considerable numbers of people who read on their own rarely or not at all. And voila, most college freshmen hardly ever touch lengthy reading material unless they're required to. So it's not hard to conceive of someone in a major that doesn't entail much reading never having to read a book cover to cover throughout college.

And in today's college world, unfortunately, such requirements are also decreasing in frequency, even among those liberal arts classes that one would expect to see them in. And when they're there, they're easy to get around via skimming Cliffs Notes or similar varieties, finding enough relevant random facts on the web to make a paper appear well-researched, or just flat-out making up bogus statistics and sources. (I've seen or heard of specific instances of each of those being practiced multiple times.) It was common practice back in my day to base one's electives on how much effort was required outside of class, and we never had trouble finding a slew of classes that met the "just show up and get an A" criteria. From what I hear, that trend isn't exactly improving these days; things are probably noticeably worse than they were just a few years ago during my college days. In the days of instant gratification and mile-long to-do lists, the idea of spending considerable time reading--and learning--about a topic beyond the bare minimum required to slip by seems foreign to most folks, including me.

Another thing that jumps out is the disastrous effect of the Internet and gadgets that have sprung up in recent years. Television was already attacking the perceived value of more worthwhile hobbies well before the newcomers arrived, but they certainly gave people even more options for multitasking [1] and substituting for greater endeavors. I find that the internet is just like TV in that it gives you a ton of choices, each of which give the desired results very quickly (as opposed to a ton of books, which may all be available at any time but also require considerable time to get the desired result from). Just like it's easy to channel-surf and bounce from blip to blip to suit one's whims, it's easy to just click link after link depending on whatever topic or interest strikes our fancy.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that both are tools of evil. Not that they're inherently bad, I mean, but they can and often do trap people in a state of constant desire for immediate pleasure that prevents us from focusing on the greater world and truths around us because they aren't as easy to take in on the spot. I've had cable TV and internet for a month or so now, and although it's convenient beyond words it is getting very old already. I can't see tolerating the TV half beyond football season -- some things are just necessary, you know -- and I'd like to get rid of the high-speed internet as well, though the latter would be harder to justify in light of the near-equal cost of much slower stuff. I do wonder sometimes, though, if slower internet wouldn't be better because it would force me to spend more time on articles that take 28 minutes to load and it would teach patience and accommodating something's limitations...nah, need not go there.

Now the guy does slam blogs, a take which I don't entirely agree with. Sure, it's perhaps not as intellectually stimulating as reading a difficult book, and writing is much more freeform than reading and thus doesn't require the same level of focus. He's got points there. But putting thoughts together in some coherent form and in more than a couple of paragraphs does require some amount of concentration and effort, and sometimes a bit of research to go along with it. I can attest to that from experience. So if he's talking about the usual MySpace-esque "blogs" out there on which posts often amount to no more than random blurbs about random thoughts or experiences, I'm with him. But there are "higher levels" of blogging that aren't exactly wasted pursuits. That being said, it should be fairly obvious to any reader of this blog that my overuse of parentheses and asterisks to include pop-up thoughts, redundant use of words stemming from a limited vocabulary, etc. indicates some less-than-optimal level of concentration and attention span.

And gadgets...where to begin with them? How often do we not see somebody running around talking, texting, emailing, spacing out listening to music, or otherwise doing something besides paying attention to what's around them or focusing on a complex task at hand? And this is sort of behavior is commonly viewed as a symbol of status or importance? Geez, what layer of hell have we fallen to? Those things are annoying on a whole new level [2] that I'm not sure existed before their invasion into our world. People's addiction to and craving of them probably I could go on for hours, but let's just say that it'll be a sad day when large numbers of the general population, even poor people with little or no discretionary income, plunk down significant sums of their income on such toys at a time when Americans' saving tendencies are said to be at an all-time low. Wait...we're already there.

Finally, I have to point out the irony of the commentary. The writer is an editor of a magazine that specializes in condensing the previous week's news into bite-size pieces of information that can be taken in and processed quickly, allowing one to devote less time to reading and more to the rest of the tasks on the list. The Week's cover page claims it's "all you need to know about everything that matters"--it's basically a Cliffs Notes for current events (which probably explains why I like it so much and usually breeze through it the day it arrives). In other words, the guy is decrying the growing desire he sees for instant, low-effort gratification, while at the same time helping put together a publication of which the implied goal is to enable and sell such gratification. Um...get a different job?

In conclusion, William Falk is, of course, not the first guy to point out this problem. Neil Postman continues to be proven to be one of the greatest prophets of our time. As yet another plug for a book I bring up often, Amusing Ourselves to Death is required reading for anyone hoping to understand technology's impact on society. There's a lot more to go into along those lines and related to the commentary at hand, but my concentration has expired...

[1] I'm really starting to hate that word multitask. The idea is highly regarded in society but represents a lot of what is wrong with our day-to-day lives. The ability to multitask requires the ability to shut down one's focus and instead remain detached enough from all things to be able to do many at once. So it should follow that the strengthening of one ability will go hand in hand with the weakening of the other. As with just about anything, I prefer depth over breadth. Trouble is, that's extremely hard to maintain in our society and I'm guessing in most jobs as well.

[2] I'm ashamed to say I'm getting up to speed on the latest commercials. There's a Verizon one that shows three teenage girls standing outside looking at the pony one of them got for Christmas. The other two have the hottest new phones, and the one is clearly disgusted and angry that her parents didn't buy here a cool gadget like her friends did instead of the pony that clearly represents boredom and disappointment. The tag line is even something like "get them the gifts they really want"--I mean, catering to every desire a kid has is what parenting is all about, right? Not only is this just plain sad to anyone who appreciates animals and the joy (and responsibility) they bring, but I can't remember a commercial before this that has so vividly displayed so much of what is wrong, evil, depressing, etc. about modern society, much less done so in such an irritating way. (Well, I'm now remembering some others, but the point is made.) Shameful. Perhaps Cingular isn't any better, but I'm pleased to not be a Verizon customer.


So Tebow wins the Heisman...saw that coming. He certainly deserves it, but I will go as far as to say the voters made a mistake. Call me a homer if you will, but without a doubt Darren McFadden is not only the best and most well-rounded offensive player in the country (at least that I've heard of) but also among the most valuable to his own team. While Florida routinely has huge recruiting success and thus is loaded with talent, Arkansas didn't have much of a supporting cast for McFadden this year. He all but singlehandedly carried them to a pretty good season and a Cotton Bowl berth. Put him in Florida and he still looks as good if not better. Put Tebow at Arkansas and he has a tough time, because without the high-powered offense to work with defenses can lock in on him alone like they do McFadden. Both are good, but McFadden is just a game-changer in ways that Tebow isn't and he's had to prove himself more.

That being said, Tebow certainly seems like a decent enough guy. He's a missionary kid who received most of his formal education at home -- which was probably the Philippines for a bit of his life, as his parents are full-time missionaries who run an orphanage over there. In fact, he's been working and preaching -- yes, preaching -- there since he was 15 years old. Come to think of it, given his background, how the heck did the guy morph into a superstar quarterback? He's always quick to mention God when reporters speak to him. (I know, that's surface stuff that isn't in any way indicative of deeper faith, but it is at least an indication of positive role model material.) He says he has no plans of leaving school early and will instead postpone the megabucks to finish what he started. Despite his on-field personality, he comes across as level-headed and humble.

So while I would have rather seen McFadden win the Heisman because his on-field accomplishments speak louder, it's nice to see a guy get it who seems likely to use the fame it brings in good ways. With all the losers in sports these days, especially college football it seems, good guys need all the exposure they can get (provided it doesn't corrupt them). Let's just pray that Tebow continues to be who he seems to be. And let's also pray that McFadden doesn't carry on the strong tradition of former Razorbacks taking their criminal ways with them to the NFL (see Kenoy Kennedy, Carlos Hall, Ken Hamlin, et al). The path to stardom is well-trodden with players who let their fame and fortune go to their head.

On an ending note, I can't help but point out that the other two Florida Heisman winners are Steve Spurrier and Danny Weurffel (the latter being another great guy who was part of an inner-city ministry in New Orleans last I knew). Hope you do better at the next level than those two did, Tim.

some theses for today

...According to Larry, that is. I was reading Vox and some other commenters said the dude has a penchant for theology, so I figured I check his site out. There's an interesting list of theses for today over there. Some are spot on, some I disagree sharply with, some are hard to understand, some are just weird and must refer to contemporary fads that I'm not aware of or something, and most are general stuff that I don't react much one way or the other to. I agree with most I think, and I like his general bent toward the separation of Christianity from politics, economics, pet ideologies, sworn enemies, etc. There are a few oddities in there, but hey, in a list of 98 there's bound to be. Since I have some time on my hands I'll grab a handful that jump out at me and repost them here.

5. Men and women can both be called to any position within the church.
Um, no. I still can't help but be a little surprised when people claim this. Ref. 1 Tim 3 for starters..."the husband of but one wife"..."men worthy of respect"...seems clear enough to me.

8. The world exists for the church, not the church for the world.
Hmmn...I'm not sure I agree with either of those, but the second is surely closer to the truth than the first. If God is redeeming and will ultimately redeem all of creation, and the Church is one of his means of doing so, then doesn't the church exist for the world? The first view seems to represent an overly large and generous view of man in light of all of creation and God's plan. God is the centerpiece here, not man.

15. The church no longer needs a hierarchy to function, modern communications and transportation provide everything we need to establish orthodoxy and cooperation.
Seems to me that the church either needs a hierarchy or doesn't need one; I fail to see where modern conveniences are relevant to the argument. I think a limited hierarchy is beneficial in that it tends to keep teaching more in line with commonly accepted doctrine, but there are certainly plenty of examples of bad hierarchies out there too. The question is up for debate, but I don't see how communication and transportation would come down against one side or the other.

20. There is no such thing as “just war”.
Nope, and it sure sounds like a pacifism argument to me. As Colson says, there can't be peace without order. And in a sinful world, conflict will necessarily precede order and will remain necessary to maintain order. Does this go to the level of war? Yes, when those opposed to peace and order are entrenched enough to escalate it to such a level, and if I'm right then war is necessary under some circumstances -- not those commonly used as an excuse for it, of course, but if we as Christians are called to stand up for the helpless and seek to make the world a better place (by bringing about peace and respect for all people, for example) for our fellow man, then there's no way around the necessity of war in doing so.

22. Revelation is the only hope we have of obtaining certain knowledge.
It's a general statement, but I like the twinge of Calvinism that's inherent in it.

24. We are called to love all of creation, including homosexuals, democrats, and Sam Harris.
Right on, humorous enough to repost here.

27. Our identity as Christians is only defined by our relationships within the body of Christ.
What!? That strikes me as so grossly wrong that I figure I must be misinterpreting it. Our identity as Christians undoubtedly entails how we view and deal with the entire world around us, not just with other Christians. But I don't see how the thesis encompasses that.

37. Abortion is not the issue, a culture that fears and worships death is the issue.
Sure, that's part of it, but I think a bigger part is the desire to not be inconvenienced by the consequences of one's actions. Like it or not, we have to live with the results of our decisions, whether good or bad. It seems to me that a huge part of most people's lives revolves around how they (we?) can somehow "beat the system" and make this law of the universe not apply to their lives. Good luck with that...

57. Christian art should be the best art, not insipid paintings of cottages and sappy music.
True, but try telling that to someone in the "Christian stuff" industry. Seems there's a gimmicky "holy" version of everything "they" have these days. That doesn't make us different or better off, it just makes us copycats. And bad ones at that.

68. If a pastor needs bodyguards to deliver a sermon, he is most likely not preaching the gospel.
Interesting statement, not sure how to take it. If he's saying that the use of bodyguards implies a lack of trust in God's protection of his servants, then I at least see where he's coming from. But if he's saying a sermon should always be well-received or at least should not antagonize anyone enough to get the preacher attacked...well, that's just bunk. Being nice and loving people aren't the same thing.

71. “Just War” doctrine is a failure, something better is needed.
Geez. See #20. I'm convinced now, this guy is definitely a pacifist.

80. Marriage is a rite of the church, it is not any of the government’s business who participates.
Amen! It's great to see this concept being advocated by more and more people.

81. Justification is not by faith alone.
Whoa...I'd expect even Arminians to disagree with that (and be inconsistent in doing so). Very strange statement, I'd guess it comes out of a belief in the faith+works tenet of Catholicism. But not being one who understands all that much about Catholicism I can't go far with that.

98. Sola Scriptura has failed, as witnessed by hundreds of denominations all claiming to be Sola Scriptura.
Wow. So let's get this straight...the failure of sinners (grouped in denominations) to agree with one another or be perfectly correct in their interpretation of all aspects of Scripture proves that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura must be wrong. Just like the misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible by various cults over the centuries proves that the Bible must be flawed, right? Uh, yeah, that argument holds water just great.

And in the "very true and should be very obvious, yet very lost on too much of the church-going population, and just look at the results around us" category, we have...
19. The church should make disciples, not converts.
36. The church affects the culture by changing the people, not changing the politics.
46. The US, particularly the US government, is not Christian.
49. Material wealth does not imply God’s blessing.
50. Poverty does not imply God’s curse.
76. Patriotism is not a Christian virtue.
85. It is through suffering that we become more like God and Christ.
92. The size of your church is not a measure of your faithfulness.
96. The gospel of Jesus is truly radical, now no less than in the first century, it in no way supports the current status quo.
There are others I could say more on in there, but it's getting late and I've already piled up a rather large mound of popcorn comments. Overall a good list, perhaps lacking on occasion but generally reliable and indicative of someone who at least has the intelligence to think through things enough to come up with 98 theses in the first place.