Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The victory of a true V-warrior

It's rare that I find stories of people expressing their bewildered emotions at losing their virginity on their wedding night and all of the emotions involved. It's a nostalgic piece from the rarest of all species... a man of roughly my age and background who has made and kept to the virgin committment (without "fudging" it, as he points out). It's written here He's right too... it's hard not to feel like a freak. In the sense of "deviant from normal" we definately count. Strange feeling.

I would like to point out that i'm in the company of none less than Isaac... of people who beat him at holding down the V-fort. ;)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ze are courageous

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Razorback quandry

Every since the departure of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and blue chip recruit Mitch Mustain the Arksansas Razorback has been subject to criticism about the type of program it's running. Apparently fans are beside themselves with grief that the hogs didn't sacrifice last season on the altar of developing a "balanced offense". Razorback fans feel that they're right in being angry because Houston Nutt has been promising a balanced offense for years, and each year claims to be working on the passing game, while in the meantime Arkansas has become gradually more and more run reliant.

Now I have a gripe of my own...

Why is it that the Razorbacks, and especially Houston Nutt, have to answer to this fan-only need to develop some kind of Affirmative Action passing game? Why must we suck all of the fun out of college football by running the same damn offense that everyone else runs?

My diagnosis is somewhat different. Houston... do what you do best amigo.

Arkansas hasn't been a pass-first team in quite some time, at least not for any length of time. In my opinion we're losing both time and recruits trying to force our coach and player to conform to some kind of offensive vogue which insists that you have to have a dropback passing QB in order to win football games.

But vogues come and go. This year the hogs ran a variation of the old Veer offense. Not everyone bemoaned it, only hog fans. In fact announcers were always complimentary of how well the offense worked and how unique it was. There were frequently statements about how you "don't see that anymore" and "coaches are going to be flocking to Arkansas this summer to learn the Motion offense and Wildcat formation."

Our team was praised for getting so much out of so little. We took a couple of good backs and a solid offense line and racked up some nice yardage. Oh, and before anyone says that our lack of passing cost us the last three games, allow me to demure. In fact I would argue, at least in the Wisconsin game, that the opposite is true. Our attempt to satiate the egos of demanding parents and expectat freshmen cost us the Wisconsin game. Sure, Wisconsin was better than average at stopping the run. And yes, there were times when passing seemed like a good plan. On the other hand keep in mind that McFadden wasn't quite himself, and the Razorbacks gained plenty of total yards on the ground. In fact, it was on those offensive series when we came out throwing that we were sent packing or sacked out of field goal range. Keep in mind that Arkansas lost by 3, not 30. Another solid running series... and I think we'd have had one out of the three or four series we wasted on trying the AA passing game... means that Arkansas wins by four.

As for Florida and LSU, those games were winnable. Nobody really did just a whole lot better on offense against either Florida or LSU than did the Hogs. Quite honestly, we might just have to wake up and smell the coffee that those teams were better than us. Look... LSU shut down Brady Quinn and Florida gave Troy Smith worse numbers than Casey Dick had in the SEC championship game. Those defenses were juggernaughts - and, oh yeah!, the hogs scored points on them! We had Florida beat! Take away a special team breakdown from either game and the hogs win both in all likelihood. We scored points on those teams. Running was slower going not because we couldnt pass - we couldnt pass well the whole season - but because we faced fundamentally stronger defenses. But although it was slower going, it went. We did as well against those defenses as teams with supposedly vaunted passing attacks, including what most people considered the two best passers in the nation.

So what am I really saying? What is the entirely amateur opinion of Ray on this matter? Allow me:

A. If we're a run first team, then let's be a run first team: Stop trying to recruit a pro-I offensive unit against Florida and LSU, who have proven year in and year out that they can out-recruit the Arkansas' and Old Miss' of the world when both seek the same player outside of their areas, and damn, sometimes they can even out recruit us in our own traditional areas. Well screw it. Let's give players a real alternative. Let's make Arkansas something besides a smaller-and-not-quite-as-good Florida. Let's be the smashmouth team.

B. Recruit the running game: It's so much easier to recruit when you're running offense A and Florida is running offense B than when you're both running A and all you can offer is a lesser version of the same stuff. Think about it - If I'm a big, mean offensive lineman from Memphis then I've got no desire to block for a crappier version of the offense I can find at home or at Florida. On the other hand, if a coach comes to me and says "well, we're not that. We're different. We're the team who pounds right at ya'. We line up and run the ball and see if they're manly enough to stop us. It's our biggun's vs their biggun's and we stake our reputation that ours are the biggest and meanest. We've chosen to live and die on the skill of hosses like you. Want to be part of that?" Now you might get some recruits. Now you've developed a certain swagger.

Also, it's a great sale for backs and tight ends. I mean fullbacks in our scheme actually get to do something. Tight ends are viable receivers, and Arkansas once had a tradition of utilizing strong tight ends year in and year out. Again, you're able to recruit different kids on the notion that their skills will shine in a way that they wouldn't elsewhere.

C. Don't panic over potential: So you have a five-star dropback QB in the state one year. Don't flake! Just because they're good or even great doesn't mean they fit your scheme. Generically "good" players aren't necessarily the best fit. As Vince Lombardi said "I player my best eleven, not my eleven best." Besides, we're losing these guys most of the time anyway. Just replace lost potential with potential gained elsewhere that fits your program better.

D. Develop the passing game on our own terms: There are programs which are fundamentally more viable for a dropback passer who has an eye towards the NFL. On the other hand, the dual-threat QB becomes more attracted to a different style. Sure, dual-threats aren't usually as sexy. They don't eat up the highlight reels like the guy who takes three steps and flutters one into some cocky receiver's hands who catches it over the shoulder while blazing down the left sideline, but that doesn't mean they're not as good. In fact, even dropback passers now are expected to have some mobility, and the ability to throw on the run is not to be underestimated. In fact, Arkansas has this tradition too. Mobile QB's operating largely out of the option, throwing on the run, often to underutilized receivers like fullbacks and tight ends, or packing up and running the ball.

Now i'm not advocating a "boring" offense" Not at all. There are all kinds of unique formations and plays that can be taken captive to a run first offense. It can even reward strong dropback passing from the shotgun on occasion. Hey, I had fun watching our hogs pound the ball at people this year. No shame here if the ball didn't kiss the sky very often. Besides, the pro-I passing necessity is just the zeitgeist of the current times. Thirty years ago the best teams were constantly trying to develop wishbones, and they won championships with it. Now passing teams are the apple of everyone's eye. But we don't have to be slaves to those notions. Run hogs run!

Schmemann quotes

"Never has so much been written about so little for so few."

"Scholars keep on learning more and more about less and less."

Fr. Alexander's words really hit home with me. As much as I like some scholarship, and the potential of being a scholar, I cannot stomach the disconnected minutia that punctuates most of academia, especially in certain fields of theology. I'm going to make it my internalized goal to be a quality scholar while still maintaining relevance. Can I succeed? I'm not sure, but I think I'm forming a plan...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Catholic legal exemption on gay adoptions

An issue has arisen in the UK regarding whether or not Catholic orphanages can be excluded from Gay Rights' legislation. The Catholic orphanages are saying that they will close if these laws are applied to them. Read about it here

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims
may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than
under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes
sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for
our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of
their own conscience.
- C.S. Lewis

Monday, January 15, 2007

UK poll: Religion does more harm than good

According to a recent poll conducted in The Guardian paper from the UK, more British feel that religion in their society causes harm rather than good. Read about it in more depth here

In spite of how dauntingly anti-religious these statistics may appear, i'd say that what's even more telling is that Britain is generally thought of as being far more religious than continental Europe, which is in turn more religious than the nearly totally secular nordic nations, against whos statistics the UK probably looks like mandated al-Qaeda opinion polls.

So what does a "religious" person such as myself think about that kind of poll. Well, there are a couple of things that I believe allow a person to be faithful and yet acknowledge that massive popular perceptions aren't without merit.

1. I agree with them that religion causes a lot of tensions. But I wonder if we're being a bit presumptive in assuming that "causing tension" must be a negative. most vibrant religions should cause a bit of tension in the sense that the person shouldn't feel at ease with their life if they're disobeying commandments. I'm not so quick to accept that secularism's core values of equality, fraternity, and ease of living are beyond question. It strikes me that the logical conclusion of this mindset is an introverted society: It causes no friction or rift in interpersonal relationships, but it's not really growth or society-oriented either. Obviously in a country where 2/3 of the people are professed Secular, the infringement of another religion besides Secularism which challenges their values is received the same way that established churches treat upstart sects who evangelize on their territory.

2. "Religion" per se is too easily lumped together. It encompasses everything from a couple of hippies pouring some milk and honey on the ground to the Goddess to rubrical Orthodox Jews fulfilling every part of minutia in their elaborate burial rites.

3. As Christian Orthodox theologian john Romanides once said "religion is a sickness". I believe that in the sense that Romanides meant it: It's a kind of meme that we're pre-programmed with by our creator. As the Evangelicals used to say "your soul has a Jesus-sized hole in it". So yes, religion per se is not a good thing. Good religion is the key. A faith which reveals the truth of our existence and the immanence of God's unseen kingship. In short, false religions are just falsehoods like anything else, whereas good religions can truly be the light of the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The White Bitches' Burden

Apparently Madonna found time between acts of societal destroying sleazery to read and internally digest Rudyard Kipling's call to take up the White Man's Burden. Read all about it here

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Remember all you haters who thought that Michigan and Ohio State should just play again for the national title. Remember staring at me in disbelief when I pointed out that the Big-10 top to bottom hadn't played anyone to prove they had any real game? Well, this Florida stomping if for you, courtesy of ESPN. Florida 41 - Ohio State 14

The Buckeyes came into the Valley of the Sun with a 12-0 record, bidding to become the greatest team ever at a school where that title is not thrown around lightly. Instead, the Buckeyes will spend Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest of their lives wondering how to explain an egg simultaneously laid by 121 players, nine assistants and one head coach.

"I think when you look around the locker room," fullback Stan White Jr. said, "there's definitely a feeling of shell shock. In five years at Ohio State and four years of high school, I have never been part of a loss this shocking. No one really has an answer right now."

On the field after the game Monday night, Florida junior defensive end Jarvis Moss suggested an explanation.

"We played a lot better teams than Ohio State this year," Moss said, a piece of blue confetti sweat-stuck to his neck. "I can name four or five teams in the SEC that would compete real well against them."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Religious studies diagnostic

This is a very nice diagnostic of the issues involved in Religious Studies within academia by a low-level professor at a small college looking to "move up". Nicely done and addresses the identity crisis in the field.

article on tenured women and children

Women in the academe beware, apparently it's one area where job and family are still somewhat either/or. Check it out here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The morphing

The first few just zip past without meaning a thing. The valuts in memory banks I do not share hold all of the meaning, through which I may only live vicariously. By ten perfection was achieved. The castes are not yet obvious and I was as my imagination dictated. Warriors and wizards were there, and I could be counted among their ranks. So I tried to be great. And they piled on, one atop the other until ten more were chalked up on the blackboard. But I could not find the wizard, and the warrior no longer held my gaze. So it was the wizard I desired, mind lost in the stygian depths of some long-forgotten tome. And so I stayed looking for the spell, the only spell that could restore perfection. At some length the spell was found. I understood the magic that was there and I pursued it with all that I was capable to give. Many have given more, but I was only so much of a human being, never a full-fledged member of the species.

And I think I know the spell. And I think it has been cast. But the ground does not hold the necessary mana. Many have cast that spell and few have replenished the reserves of power. Where once bodies were thrown, deprived of their hearts, from high monuments now there is begging... the urging that the blood was drawn for any reason that we can still discern. We not only avoid the sacrifices, but we refuse to acknowledge the longing that once guided our hands to carve the knives. It was there above us to be striven towards with surety and grace. But Eliot was right, it ends with a whimper, and that whimper has come to me quickly. I can't see that high, nor is there propulsion. The mana from the depleted ground will not give energy to the old incantations.

And I, who have chanted them without success, cannot tell if it's the earth who lacks the magic, or I who cannot pay the price for the energy to pulse through unworthy veins. I'm alone in the Stygian tower and the tomes now are only mighty volumes with lists of words that I cannot share. The words are memorized yet impossible. Babble collects on babble. My mind was in service to something that cannot be, and it has cost me more than i'm willing to continue to pay on the off chance that I'm right.

What's tangible lies in the other direction. The treasure goes to he who slays the dragon, not he who reasons that the dragon deserves the treasure more. Would that I could give my life for the magic. I can think of nothing greater than giving myself over so that the mana could once against nourish the ground for future magi. But I can't will that to happen. It wasn't persecution that zapped the bloom and vitality from Camelot, but a lethal blend of satisfaction and regret.

But whatever the case, no more. The tree has stood there too long, the mighty wood unlike the other wood. Can I discern no simply on a promise? No. I will eat the fruit and kiss the snake. Then I hope that I can once again say the magic with conviction. I will love you again, before all is done. I love you still. and 26 becomes 62 and that love will still be there, but my love is corrupted now. Your words are written to people like me, and now they bid me take my place at their side. I must be besieged and ravaged and sent into exile. Only then can the other books be written. The sequence needs blood. Vitality for vitality. Blood to blood. Life to life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

This is even lamer - guess I was wrong

A few years ago I made the bold statement that nothing could possibly be lamer than Cameo spelling "Word Up" in his song by the same name for the break-it-down segment. Yet modern pop music in its never ending quest for the bottom of the abyss of bad taste has descended beyond even Cameo. This backhanded honor goes to none other than Fergie, in her solo effort, where she manages to repeatedly spell "Fergalicious" in roughly the same place of her song (naturally by the same name) as Cameo did twenty years ago. Sheesh. At least if she's going to one up him in lameness she could have used a slightly different song structure, but no.