So close; in McAlister

navy bc

My bowl picks really took a hit; I went 0-3 on a day of good games. But my record went from 7-4-1 to 9-10-1 over the past couple of days. As a fan, I split on two heartbreakers; my Longhonrs pulled out an unexpectedly close game whereas Navy lost on the last play of the game on a field goal.

Navy and Boston College used to be yearly rivals and Navy won a fair number of those games. But that more or less ended when Boston College became a team that was usually ranked (in the mid 1980’s when Flutie was quarterback).

We are in McAlister, Oklahoma on our way to Austin. The hotel does have an internet connection and a nice pool. But the breakfast isn’t so good; it is mostly sugar only.

December 31, 2006 Posted by | family, football, travel | Leave a comment

Neglecting my duties

I am supposed to be taking out the trash, but wanted to blog instead. Ok, I’ll get the trash.

Football: Cal and Rutgers came through as expected to boost my against the spread record to 7-4-1, though two of my picks aren’t looking so good at the moment.

First, I had an ok 3100 yard swim, though my shoulders and lats were getting a bit tired. Then I did the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga level 2 DVD; this time I followed directions and didn’t hurt my back. Later, I hiked the Forest Park Nature Center outer loop in 56:23; there was far less mud this time. But I went a bit too hard; my left butt/hip squawked a bit on the Wakerobin downhill and a bit toward the end. Strangely enough it didn’t hurt nor tingle until that second downhill.

The Yoga: I now have 7 DVDs; three by Baptiste (Vinyasa Level I and II, and Unlocking Athletic Power), two by Yee (Intermediate and Advanced), Total Yoga level III by Tracey Rich and Ganga White, and Yoga for Inflexible People (bodywisdom). So I have no excuses if I can’t make a class!

About the Hike:Barbara and Olivia

Here are “the girls” just prior to hiking; they did a 1.7 mile loop while I did my 3.5.

Barbara relaxing after the hike
Olivia after the hike; note the bird over her shoulder.
Here is Olivia afterward.

Now for some articles that I found interesting:

Jeff06dem from the Daily Kos has an interesting “political fantasy” post of “how I would redistrict Illinois so as to give the Democrats an advantage in congress.

Kathleen Parker has an interesting article on the Duke Lacrosse incident (where some players hired a stripper and she accused them of rape).

Like her or not she makes some valid points:

Last week, Nifong dropped the rape charges when the alleged victim decided she wasn’t sure she had been raped after all. That is, she wasn’t sure she had been vaginally penetrated, a distinction required by state law for a charge of rape.

Last March, after the party, the stripper had a different recollection, telling police that she had been raped every which way. But, well, these things are difficult sometimes to keep straight. Rape being so nuanced and all.

Meanwhile, hundreds of lives have been turned inside out, none so much as the three accused players. All because, well, let’s see, because the stripper said so. The absence of corroborating evidence seemed to pose no obstacle for Nifong, who ran a successful re-election campaign on the strength of his convictions.

And, of course, the story had good legs and plenty of sex appeal, if you like that sort of thing: race and class conflict, town and gown tensions, rich-white-boys vs. poor-black-working-mother, underage drinking and the aura of privilege.

The world hungered for such a fable, and Nifong fed the beast.

As it turns out, Nifong’s case was something less than a slam dunk, and he must have known it. As was recently revealed, Nifong not only knew that lab tests showed no traces of DNA from any of the lacrosse team players, he knew that they did show DNA traces from several unknown other men.

Yet, Nifong and the head of the private DNA lab, Brian Meehan, agreed to exclude those test results from other results turned over to defense attorneys, according to Meehan’s testimony during a recent court session. […]

While official outrage is welcome, it seems belated. Where were the passionate protestations when these three young men were being convicted in the court of public opinion? The presumption of their guilt was nearly instantaneous among Duke administrators and many faculty, from whom others in the community took their cues.

As one student at Durham’s historically black North Carolina Central University put it to Newsweek, he wanted the lacrosse players punished “whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past.”

Attorneys representing three Duke lacrosse players charged with raping an exotic dancer hold a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Dec. 22, 2006. From left is Wade Smith, Joe Cheshire, Brad Bannon, and Doug Kingsbery. Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped rape charges Friday against the three Duke University lacrosse players after the stripper who accused them changed her story again. But the men still face kidnapping and sex charges that could bring more than 30 years in prison.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Nifong also cut corners early in the case during the process of identifying suspects. When two lineups failed to produce an attacker, Nifong requested a third lineup, but this time using only members of the lacrosse team instead of a random sampling. This move not only was at variance with normal police procedure, it may ultimately lead to charges that Nifong abused the defendants’ civil rights.

In yet another example of iffy evidence, one of the defendants — Seligmann — has taxi, restaurant and ATM receipts indicating that he was elsewhere at the time of the alleged rape. Nifong still saw fit to charge him.

No one’s arguing that the lacrosse team deserves a citizenship award for having a drinking party and hiring strippers. But there’s a universe of difference between jocks acting boorishly and brutes gang-raping a helpless woman.

Trust me; I am not sympathetic to the Duke lacrosse players. In fact, my “knee jerk” opinion of them is negative. Nevertheless, this case never seemed right to me.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | family, football, hiking, politics/social, swimming, yoga | 3 Comments

Harriet Miers Fan Club: I am not alone!

The readers of this blog (both of them) know that I think that Harriet Miers is a complete and total babe!

I have some photos here, here, here and here.

Well, it turns out that I am not the only fan:

Football: the Independence Bowl ended up 34-31 Oklahoma State, right at the 3 point spread. So I am at 5-4-1, though my picks in the Holiday and Texas Bowls are looking good at the moment.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bowl Blow-outs and John Edwards

First, I should check in with today’s workout log: 1 hour of Hatha yoga with a new instructor (new to us anyway) and 3100 yards of swimming. I managed to hit 10 x 100 on the 2, and get all but the first one under 1:40. The first one was 1:40 on the button; most were 1:37-1:38.

The guy next to me kicked my butt.

The yoga class was oh-so-gentle. She emphasises the lunge position and the cross legged sitting.

hatha yoga

Fortunately, we moved very slowly between poses, which is what I needed today.


Emerald Bowl

I watched the Emerald Bowl last night; boy did I feel stupid picking UCLA. Yes, it was close at the half, and in fact, UCLA actually lead 27-23 going into the 4’th quarter, when Florida State pulled away 44-27. UCLA was intercepted twice and lost a fumble; Florida State scored on a blocked punt and an interception return. The total yards were close: 434 to 430 (UCLA’s favor) and UCLA rushed for almost 200 yards.

Nevertheless, I got the impression that Florida State wanted it a bit more. Florida State didn’t look like a 6 loss team; in fact it looked like the team that gave Florida all that it wanted whereas UCLA didn’t look like the team that upset USC.

So, my Bowl predition record falls to 5-4, and I note that there are many blow-outs. What is going on? Stewart Mandel has some good ideas on the matter:

Stewart: What can be done to produce more competitive and compelling bowl games? You hope that when you match a 7-5 team vs. a 6-6 or 8-4 team that you will have a competitive game, but thus far, we’ve seen mismatch after mismatch. –Doug, Oklahoma

Besides the obvious oversaturation of bowls, what I think you’re seeing are the aftereffects of conference realignment. While the Big East wound up surviving the ACC’s 2003 expansion purge just fine, some of the leagues further down the domino weren’t so fortunate — and it’s contributing to the non-competitive bowl matchups. Conference USA, once considered the best of the mid-major leagues, is flat out awful now, yet it sends five teams to bowl games. And this was hardly a banner year for the MAC, yet it’s rarely received more bowl berths than this year’s four.

Meanwhile, the one non-BCS conference that did not lose anybody two years ago, and in fact added one of its strongest programs, was the Mountain West. Competitively speaking, there’s now a bigger gap between that league and the other mid-majors than there is between the BCS conferences and the Mountain West. In fact, take USC out of the mix and I think the upper third of the Pac-10 (Cal, UCLA, Oregon State) and the upper third of the MWC (BYU, TCU, Utah) are almost interchangeable. But obviously, that’s not reflected in the bowl marketplace, where 10-2 BYU was matched up with a sixth-place Pac-10 team (Oregon), 10-2 TCU faced a 7-5 MAC team (Northern Illinois) and Utah played a third-place C-USA team. Is it any surprise these games were blowouts?

But I think that there is something else going on as well. A 7-5 or 6-6 team like Florida State or UCLA or even Oregon tends to be very inconsistent from game to game. Example: Oregon beats Oklahoma (I know, with some lucky calls by the officials) but loses to Washington State and gets blown out by Arizona. UCLA beats USC, stomps Utah, but loses to Washington. Florida State give Florida all it wants, crushes Rice but gets drilled 30-0 by Wake Forest and barely beats Western Michigan. Hence, when two of these teams play, it is highly likely that one team will bring its A-game whereas the other just goes through the motions.

John Edwards

John Edwards has announced that he is running for President. If this seems odd, remember that according to some polls, he is the Democrat that runs the strongest against the Republicans.

He is my wife’s favorite candidate not named “Obama”. His website says this:

This campaign is about each of us taking responsibility for our country’s future — and ensuring America’s greatness in the 21st century.

It is a campaign not just about what we can do in the White House — but what we can do on the way.

We all must take responsibility and take action now to:

* Provide moral leadership in the world
* Strengthen our middle class and end poverty
* Guarantee universal health care for every American
* Lead the fight against global warming
* Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil

If we want to live in a moral and just America tomorrow, we cannot wait until the next President is elected to begin to take action.

Note that Iraq is not mentioned at all; his focus is on domestic issues, especially poverty and health care.

The vice presidential debate (and I thought that Edwards held his ground reasonably well here)

I don’t know about Edwards; he seems to have that “common touch” that Kerry didn’t have. I think that he has a shot, as does Hillary Clinton. Obama? Yeah, I like him and he is a “local boy made good” but I have the feeling that the wheels will come off of his bandwagon very quickly; after all he seems to be all image and no substance at this point.

And, I like it that John Edwards doesn’t run away from liberals; note that he has a Daily Kos diary and sometimes checks in with us.

I think that Bob Geiger gets it right when he says that the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination is still relatively open:

Though I disagree with his central thesis, Dan Balz has an excellent piece that’s well worth reading in today’s Washington Post in which he implies that, between Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) money and name recognition and Barack Obama’s (D-IL) sheer star power, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary is all but over.

You can go here to read Balz’s article, but I have to say that, while Clinton and Obama have clearly been defined by the media as the apparent front-runners, this is not all over by a long shot.

The fact is, nobody knows what’s going to happen politically in 2007 and, at this stage of the process leading to the 1992 presidential election, all people thought about a certain Arkansas Governor was that he had given a long, boring speech at the 1988 Democratic convention — and things seemed to work out just fine for him.

Evan Bayh (D-IN), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner have already removed themselves from contention. It truly saddened me when Feingold took his hat out of the ring as I believe he is one of the few national politicians who has shown guts and true leadership during the harrowing Bush years. As for Bayh, I had already penned a column called “Evan Who?” that I decided to kill after he dropped out, but it was predicated on how closely I watch the United States Senate and the fact that Bayh is so far off the legislative radar screen you need extreme Google dexterity to even find him in the Congressional Record.

But it’s premature to wholly rule out the likes of John Edwards, Joe Biden (D-DE), John Kerry (D-MA), Governors Tom Vilsack (Iowa) and Bill Richardson (New Mexico), Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and, yes, even Al Gore.

December 28, 2006 Posted by | politics/social, swimming | 1 Comment

Hillary, Hair and Heft

I remember a few years ago, my yoga teacher was telling me that one of her pilates students was working out hard so that she “would look good on her wedding day”. I looked at the two of them and said “how about AFTER the wedding; too many women look good on wedding day and then let themselves go. How you look after you are married is far more important.”

Of course, I got some cold stares and dirty looks, but that is how I feel.
when fat?

Speaking of working out, last semester I swam at our university’s pool. I joked that one “could do a load of white clothes” in our pool water; I sometimes left my swims with puckered lips.

It wasn’t my imagination:


When some of Notre Dame’s swimmers arrived at the Midwest Invitational on Dec. 16 at Richwood’s with fresh, closely cropped hair cuts, some wondered if the team was shaving to get a competitive edge.

Not exactly.

Team members needed the new look after noticing their hair falling out in clumps. The hair loss was attributed to an apparent problem with the water in Haussler Hall’s pool, the facility at Bradley University the Irish rent to practice and compete.

When enough athletes and parents voiced concern, Irish coach Shawn Ribordy knew he needed to do something.

Notre Dame and Bradley reached an agreement that the pool would be closed for three days, drained halfway and refilled with new water. The pool closure forced ND to seek out a new facility and the team ended up practicing at Manual from 8-10 p.m. for three nights last week .

Finally, there was a good article about Hillary Clinton in Mother Jones magazine. It seems as if she is one of those who is either loved or hated; on either side of the political spectrum!

Of course, conservatives hate her; but they hate her husband as well. But she isn’t popular with many liberals either:

So, yeah, I’ll probably vote for the Democrat, virtually every time. He may be a slimy, appeasing, conservative, Republican-ass kissing dickweed (Let’s call him Joe Ben um, Evan, for our purposes, shall we?), but at least I can count on his vote when it… Oops. Well, you know what I mean.

I’ll vote for the Democrat on a ballot in almost any case, except when that Democrat is a sure loser. If it’s a foregone conclusion the Democrat will lose, then I just might step outside the box and vote for someone else on the ballot — or a write-in.

For instance: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee in 2008 for the Democratic Party, then I will vote for someone else. I am absolutely convinced she will lose in a major landslide if nominated, and since I believe that to be the case — and since I live in California, where it really won’t matter HOW I vote — I will NOT throw away my vote on a compromise that makes me physically ill to contemplate.

But that’s not the only circumstance under which I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.

Even if she DOES have a chance of winning and even if my vote WOULD count in California… I will not vote for her. I cannot vote for her. Voting for Hillary Clinton would go against every fucking principle I have.

I will vote for a socialist, a third party candidate with leftist leanings, or write in my own name before I vote for that appeasing, centrist, unscrupulous, vanity-riddled asshole.

That’s right, you heard it here: Maryscott O’Connor will not vote for Hillary Clinton even if she is the Democratic candidate on the 2008 presidential ballot — EVEN IF THE POLLS HAVE HER NECK AND NECK WITH THE REPUBLICAN. I hate her, I hate her, I hate her — and I WILL NOT fucking vote for her.

So, why?

The Mother Jones article by Jack Hitt makes some interesting conjectures, many of which I think have some truth in them.

I recommend reading the whole article; I’ve included part of the beginning to entice you to follow the link to the whole article:

Almost every American has an opinion about Hillary. Consider her poll numbers. Hillary Clinton has favorables in the high 40s right now and unfavorables running about even. Her “no opinion” numbers are in the low single digits, approaching zero. Most politicians start with a huge swath of “no opinion” voters whom they can then try to convert. If Hillary runs, she will need to invent a whole new form of campaign strategy: She will need to flip voters who pretty much hate her.

Hillary-hating is such a national pastime, for both Democrats and Republicans, that it should be its own verb: “Hillarating.” Typically, even her supporters make the case for her only after plowing through a lot of caveats, lessons learned, and after muttered contempt for some aspect of her person. Hillarating is not like normal political hating—opposing someone’s ideology, for example. Loathing Hillary happens on multiple levels, ranging from her marital choices and fashion sense to her ambivalence on torture or support for a flag-burning amendment. And liberal feminists are as comfortable Hillarating as anyone else, perhaps more so.

“The source of the strong feelings goes all the way back to when we were introduced to her as Bill Clinton’s copresident,” says Nora Bredes, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership in Rochester, New York. After the health care defeat in 1993, Hillary retreated into being a wife and then a proper first lady before emerging again “as an international leader and then in the late ’90s re-creating herself as a victim of his infidelity and then again stepping out as a candidate for the Senate,” says Bredes. “People get uncomfortable when it’s not a neat story. Is she a progressive feminist or a cautious moderate? People don’t know exactly who she is, and so different reactions are almost invited.”

Not since Richard Nixon has the body politic been treated to so many variations on the same person. “The New New Nixon” was introduced with such frequency once upon a time that it became shorthand for a kind of political marketing joke. Hillary has assumed that cultural niche, always inventing a new look and more “humanized” self for each situation. And in turn, we’ve seized upon various elements of her changeling character to shape, à la Daniel Edwards, our own private Hillarys. She is a Cosmo quiz of an enigma, so let’s cut right to the answer key in the back pages and find out what kind of Hillary you see.

the martha stewart hillary: For you, the New York senator is, as Newt Gingrich’s mother once observed, “a bitch,” or, as William Safire phrased it, “a congenital liar.” You tend to relish the catty details that reveal her as a petty-minded overachiever, like when she peevishly denied her ghostwriters writing credit. You believed the 2003 rumor that Wesley Clark had been ordered into the campaign by some Clinton consigliere to serve as her stalking-horse. In the mid-1990s, you wanted to buy that Jerry Falwell tape alleging that she bedded and then killed Vince Foster, had him rolled up in a rug and dumped along the Potomac. You snarkily refer to her by the name that grates most on those who despise her, Hillary Rodham.

the tammy wynette hillary: The famous invocation of the country-western singer happened during a 60 Minutes interview in 1992. Hillary defended her husband’s philandering by saying, “I’m not sitting here some little woman, standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.” And this is where it can get tricky. Most people forget Hillary’s next line: “I’m sitting here because I love him.” The cognitive dissonance is confusing, because, of course, that is the Tammy Wynette position (“And tell the world you love him / Keep giving all the love you can”). When she dissed Tammy, she left the impression that the real reason she was standing by Bill was ruthless desire for power. Then after getting into hot water over health care reform, she assumed the Tammy position, that of doggedly loyal wife. This was the Hillary who beamed at Bill’s side and cut her hair in a prim, wifely fashion. Amid a flurry of sex scandals that would culminate in Monicagate, this Hillary allowed herself to be photographed in her one-piece bathing suit snogging with Bill on the beach—causing an entire nation to wince.

the eleanor roosevelt hillary: This Hillary first emerged at her 1969 college graduation, when her commencement speech was considered so controversially feminist that it landed her in the pages of Life magazine. The speech sent Wellesley’s president, Ruth Adams, into such a tizzy that, after spotting Hillary swimming, she had a campus security guard run off with her clothes to humiliate her. This is the Hillary who figured out, after the health care train wreck, how to be a good first lady, and quickly became the “Most Admired Woman in America” several years in a row. This Hillary had an office in the East Wing that handled the protocols of napkin folding, and an office in the West Wing that adroitly kept up her silent participation in the crucial political issues of the day.

the dianne feinstein hillary: You see her as a phony centrist always triangulating toward the ideological middle, willing to betray her true liberal self for power.

the barbara boxer hillary: You see her as a phony liberal, always playing to the amen chorus of the far left, willing to betray her true centrist self for power.

the lisa simpson hillary: We’re seeing of lot of this conscientious Hillary lately. When she ran for Senate, her critics said she was just running on name recognition. “But she was able to give milk prices to upstate New Yorkers,” says Helen Thomas, the former upi reporter who has covered the White House since John Kennedy. “Then, in the Senate, she acted like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, asking experienced Republican senators to ‘teach me’ how it all works.” This is the Hillary who got straight A’s; the law school graduate who in 1974 wowed the old D.C. pols on the Watergate Committee; the one who attempted to master health care in 1993; and who in 2000 visited Buffalo 26 times and earned its citizens’ votes. This Hillary first appeared at age four when, according to her mom, the future senator confronted the neighborhood’s meanest girl bully, knocked her down, and then exclaimed, “I can play with the boys now!”

the diana prince hillary: Bill’s wife is the secret identity of Wonder Woman. Is there anything she can’t do? Even if you hate her, you admire her fundraising ability and her $8 million book advance. You hear that joke about Bill seeing Hillary chatting with an old boyfriend pumping gas at a filling station and Bill says, “Just think, if you’d married him, you could have been the wife of a gas station attendant,” to which Hillary replies, “Bill, if I’d married him, he would have become the president”—and you think it’s just good reporting.

the lady macbeth hillary: You fixate on pictures of Hillary wearing big dark sunglasses, behind which she conspires to take over the world. Ruthless, conniving, calculating, icy, and manipulating, this Hillary crafted that phony post-Monica talking point—”I could hardly breathe”—as evidence of her “emotional side.” This Hillary spooked her potential senatorial opponent K.T. McFarland, a former Pentagon official, into charging that she “had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures.” This Hillary will abandon her principles for short-term political gain and will coldly undercut her oldest friends if need be—remember Peter and Marian Wright Edelman? This is the Hillary who, hours after hearing the truth about Monica, was in the solarium considering whether to help Bill’s speechwriters draft his dodgy confession. This version of the senator is known by the name that elevates her into the pantheon of scheming one-named women such as Medea and Evita. She is, simply, Hillary.

It’s not just that Hillary herself is seen in half a dozen ways, but that each variety of Hillary is embraced across the political spectrum. […]

I’ll admit that I actually like her even though she is more conservative than I’d like. After all, she says in her book that she “didn’t so much leave the Republican party as it left her.” She is a centerist, pure and simple, and she went along with the Iraq war (unlike Senator Durbin and Senator Boxer).

Nevertheless, I would back her if she won the Democratic nomination in 2008 and would back her whole-heartedly. And I think that she has a bona-fide chance of winning.

And I should point out, at least some liberals are getting tired of all of the Hillary bashing. Katha Pollitt is one of them:

If people keep making sexist attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton, I may just have to vote for her. That means you, Elizabeth Edwards!

As tabloid readers know, the wife of John Edwards told guests assembled at a luncheon hosted by Ladies’ Home Journal that she felt her “choices” had made her “happier” and more “joyful” than HRC. Translation: I’ve parked my legal career on the shelf to mind the kids, support my husband’s political ambitions and tend our wonderful marriage, unlike Hillary, a bitter ambitious career woman with a philandering husband.

Well, isn’t that special! Isn’t she the fulfilled woman of the year! Why are we talking about whether or not a woman senator who, maybe, wants to run for President is less joyful than a (former) senator’s wife who, maybe, hopes to be First Lady? Nobody would dream of measuring a male presidential hopeful on the happiness scale. If they had, Abraham Lincoln would never have been elected. It is sad to think that Ms. Edwards would play the happy-homemaker card to help her lightweight husband best a woman with about ten times as much political experience. We all know Edwards did such a great job running for Vice President–the man was everywhere!–and made such a fantastic impression in his debate with Dick Cheney.

Still, I might have gone for him in the 2008 primary, because every now and then he pops up out of nowhere and says poverty is bad. Now I dunno. We bitter ambitious career women have to stick together.
In her essay Eisenstein argues that HRC is a “female decoy” whose election would harm women because it would put a pink pseudo-feminist gloss on militarism and neoliberalism. There’s something in this, but it comes close to holding Senator Clinton’s femaleness against her: Logically, a man with the same positions would be less bad, because he couldn’t use feminism (or female stereotypes of caring and nurturing) to disguise them. But since anyone with a realistic hope of becoming President will necessarily have made all sorts of unsavory bargains with the status quo, this amounts to saying we’ll never have a woman in the White House. We’ll continue on as now: “expecting more” of women and tacitly expecting less of men.

Well, count me out. The contemporary women’s movement is almost forty years old, and after all that time exactly one woman has managed to reach the point where she can make a credible run for the White House. And I don’t see another one around the corner, do you? Polls consistently show the castrating satanic robot way ahead of her potential primary rivals. In general election match-ups she trumps every Republican but Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Maybe Barack Obama will alter the dynamics, which would be amusing, since I’ll bet few of his fans can name even three positions he holds. But right now, if HRC were a man, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But then, if she were a man, she wouldn’t be almost universally perceived as unelectable.

I’m not saying I’d vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary–although by 2008 I expect she’ll have come around on the war. I’d like a lefter candidate. But I want respect for women–and power is what gets you that. “It’s natural,” Medea Benjamin told me, “to want the people who are like you to be especially good.” Actually, the history of politics in America demonstrates the opposite: Suppressed ethnicities and communities have put up with everything from drunkenness to corruption to outright criminality in their politicians, as long as those politicians delivered–even just a little–back home. Maybe women should forget about being angels and start being more like Italians, Irish or blacks. Let me put it this way: Any candidate who wants me to vote for him instead of her had better have a whole long list of reasons, beginning with what he will do for women that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t do.

December 27, 2006 Posted by | politics/social, swimming | 2 Comments

Bowl Season so far:

Bowl favorite spread underdog pick-spread pick-win
poinsettia, December 19 TCU 13 Northern Illinois TCU TCU
LasVegas, Dec. 21 BYU 5.5 Oregon Oregon Oregon
New Orleans, Dec. 22 Rice 7 Troy State Troy Troy
Papa Johns, Dec. 23 South Florida 4 East Carolina USF USF
New Mexico New Mexico 5 San Jose State San Jose San Jose
Armed Forces Utah 3 Tulsa Tulsa Tulsa
Hawaii, Dec. 24 Hawaii 8.5 Arizona State Hawaii Hawaii
Motor City, Dec. 26 Central Michigan 11.5 Middle Tennessee Middle Tenn.
As you can see, I am 5-3 against the spread so far; I lost last night’s game though I picked the winner correctly.

Tonight’s Emerald Bowl should be interesting. You have two teams with big-time names and big time traditions but with not so hot records. (Florida State 6-6 and UCLA 7-5).

UCLA, of course, finished strong with a big win over USC and was 30 seconds away from upsetting Notre Dame, even with their backup quaterback.

UCLA is rated 20’th with a 83.77 rating and Florida State is 50’th with a 74.24 rating.

Florida State lost 4 of their last 6 but played Florida and Boston College very tough; they did get drummed by Wake Forest 30-0. UCLA won their last 3 in a row, all against bowl teams. They were killed by a 4 game losing streak which featured losses to Oregon, Notre Dame and California. UCLA was favored by 4.5 points and the spread is down to 3.5. I am standing by my original pick for UCLA to cover the 4.5 point spread.

Workout wise: 3100 yards in the pool (some fist 50’s) and 3 miles of easy to moderate racewalking. Things are feeling better.

December 27, 2006 Posted by | football, swimming | Leave a comment

LSU-Notre Dame Sugar Bowl

This is a repost of what is on my archive; this should be a bit more readable.
LSU-Notre Dame Football History

Notre Dame takes on LSU in the Sugar Bowl; the Tigers are currently a 8.5 point favorite and not many people are giving Notre Dame a chance.

I disagree; what people forget is that Notre Dame beat several good teams along the way to posting a 10-2 record, including bowl teams Navy (9-3), Purdue (8-5), Penn State (8-4), Georgia Tech (9-4) and UCLA (7-5).

Where is is true that Notre Dame played some weak teams, LSU played some patsies as well, but they played most of them at the beginning of the season, whereas Notre Dame’s schedule was mostly “front loaded”.

Here is a brief history of football between the two schools; this is taken from my faulty memory and a couple of references. I welcome corrections and additions.

1970: ND plays a strong LSU team with a Cotton Bowl birth on the line. ND wins a hard hitting defensive battle 3-0 in South Bend with the field goal set up by a run by Joe Thiesman.

1971: This time the Tigers are better and rout the Irish 28-8 in Baton Rouge. LSU starts with a 14-0 lead. A key series of plays is a goal line stand where the LSU defense stuffs ND on 4’th and inches at the goal line. Parsegian finishes 1-1 against LSU.

1981: Faust takes over, the ND campus is completely out of control with unrealistic expectations. This is about the only time I was ashamed to be an Irish fan; ND hires a HIGH SCHOOL coach and people expect a string of national championships? (can you say “superstition”?) Anyway, LSU comes to South Bend haven been blown out at home by Alabama. ND wins 27-9 and is elevated to no. 1. ND goes on to lose 4 of its next 5 on its way to a 5-6 season.

1984: ND comes in to Baton Rouge with a 3-4 record. Everyone is expecting no. 7 LSU to blow ND out and LSU starts with a 7-0 lead. ND turns to its ground game and outscores LSU 30-7 over the next 3 quarters or so and hangs on to win 30-22. LSU wore its purple jerseys at home.

1985. Faust announces his retirement after the game; ND loses 10-7 to no. 17 LSU in South Bend. The next week, ND goes on to “go through the motions” against a hungry Miami squad and gets blasted 58-7. Faust finishes 2-1 against LSU.

1986. Holtz takes over and a winning season is in reach. But in Baton Rouge, ND fails to score in the red zone repreatedly and loses 21-19 to the no. 7 Tigers. Holtz gets a 15 yard pentalty for protesting some bad calls. Holtz finishes 0-1 against LSU

1997: Davie takes over. Davie takes in a team that has lost 5 of its first 8 games against the top 20 Tigers. The Irish play very well in Baton Rouge winning 24-6. Former ND standout guard Gerry DiNardo coaches LSU (he played on Parsegian’s 1973 National Championship team)

1997: ND agrees to a rematch with LSU in the Independence Bowl. LSU shows up in retro uniforms (gold jerseys, white pants, white helmets) and it is close at the half (6-6) but LSU pulls away in the second half to win 27-9.

Note: for a nice history of LSU’s uniforms and helments, see

and scroll down to LSU.

white helmets

1998: ND hosts LSU in South Bend and brings a 8-1 record into the game. ND is up 39-34 and tries to take an intentional saftey at the end of the game. Jarius Jackson (ND quarterback) gets tackled in the end zone and gets hurt. ND wins over struggling LSU 39-36, but then ND goes into the next game (against USC) and loses 10-0 with an offense that can’t do anything with the no. 2 quarterback. Davie finishes 2-1 against the Tigers.

In short, LSU brings in the better team against Notre Dame six times. Twice, they win in a blow-out. Twice they win in close games, and twice Notre Dame scores an upset. Once, the teams are evenly matched: it is a close game with ND winning. Twice, ND comes in with a better team, and once ND wins in a blow-out, and once ND wins a close game.

Current: according to the Sagarin computer ratings, LSU is rated at 92.07 (4’th in the nation), Notre Dame is 13’th at 86.33, though currently LSU is a 9 point favorite. LSU is 1-1 against the top 10, Notre Dame is 0-2. LSU and Notre Dame are both 2-2 against top 30 teams.

And, despite what many say, Notre Dame’s schedule strength is rated 20’th with a score of 74.22, whereas LSU’s is rated at 29’th with a score of 73.40.

So, this game is NOT the mismatch many think; I look for Notre Dame to pull off an upset.

As far as what is in store for Notre Dame:

And here is what is in store for LSU:

It should be a pretty good game!

Speaking of football, I also watched the Cowboys get soundly whipped by the Eagles 23-7, in a game that was more lopsided than the score would indicate. The Eagles got over 400 yards in total offense, including over 200 rushing, whereas the Cowboys barely had half of that.

To give an idea of what went on, the first time the Cowboys really threatened they had the ball first and goal at the Eagle 2. On first down, they made it to about the 1 foot line on a run. On second down, they lost about 1 yard. They had no gain on third down, and got dropped for a loss on 4’th down.

On another occasion, they had the ball first down at about their own 20. The center snapped the ball over the quarterback’s head, he scrambled and found a receiver for a 6 yard gain. And that was the BEST play of that particular series as they lost yardage the rest of the time!

On a side note, I’d wish that the Cowboys would ditch those retro uniforms. After all, why go back to an era where they lost almost all of the time? Their first good season was 1966, and their first “second place” season was 1965, when they switched to their current uniform scheme (silver and blue).

Of course, uniforms don’t block, tackle, nor do they execute plays.

Story of the game

December 27, 2006 Posted by | football | 5 Comments

Post Christmas

Today, I did 3100 yards in the pool and swam a 1000 yard segment in 17:38. Not fast, but not as slow as I had feared. Afterwards, 30 minutes on the stationary bike, no tingles. I almost felt guilty quitting prior to being in pain!

I’ll so some light yoga later today.

One of the yogis on posted a youtube of his ashtanga routine:

He is the guy on the left end (longer hair).

December 26, 2006 Posted by | swimming, time trial/ race, yoga | Leave a comment

Iraq and the Middle East: What we don’t know hurts us.

A few months ago, I watched the film Fog of War on the Bradley University campus. It was the story about former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his role in the Vietnam War.

The following haunted me: in the film, McNamara recalled a meeting with General Vo Nguyen Giap where the general told him that it should have been clear that Vietnam was in a civil war and saw its fight with the United States as just another struggle for independence, whereas the United States saw Vietnam as part of the larger struggle between Communism and the West.

Roland Atkinson comments on a review of the film:

And he speaks clearly when he says “we were wrong” in not seeing that the Vietnam War was a civil war, not a phase of some larger Cold War strategy by the USSR or China.

As General Nguyen Giap said:

n 1945, some Americans parachuted into our war zone [for a] meeting [with] our late President Ho Chi Minh. … Back then, President Roosevelt’s attitude was that the U.S. did not want to see events like the war with France coming back to Indochina, but later this attitude was changed. After the August Revolution in 1945, the relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. could have been good, and we wished that it had been good.

Then only the intelligent people or those with vision and wisdom, such as Eisenhower, … saw the impracticality of the [domino] theory. And any mistakes were due to following the domino theory. They thought that if the theory was put into practice here, it would become the pivotal location for [preventing] the spread of communism to the whole Southeast Asia. So Vietnam was made the central location to check the expansion of communism, and this was what President Kennedy believed, and it was mistake. …

The Americans sent advisers to each and every division in the South Vietnamese [army] before 1965. In 1965, they started to commit big forces. We discussed among ourselves in the Politburo whether at that point it was … a limited war. We decided that it was already a limited war. We discussed it in the Politburo that with America bringing in gigantic forces was to carry out a new campaign, with the American forces committed, it was not good for America but it would be very hard for us to fight. The struggle would be very fierce but we already concluded that we would win the war. …

You see, Vietnam wasn’t really in danger of blindly falling into a block with the Chinese; in fact, China and Vietnam were age old enemies with a history of wars.

Legend has it that Vietnam’s origin lay in the harmonious union of lac Long Quan, King of the Sea, and Au Co, Princess of the Mountains. Real life was not so paradisical, as Vietnam’s early history–like its recent history–is characterized by a nearly continuous struggle for autonomy. First came an entire millenium of Chinese domination, which was finally thrown off in the 9th century. External control was imposed once again in the 19th century, when Vietnam was occupied by the French.

French rule lasted until WWII, when the country was invaded by Japan. At the war’s end the predominantly Communist Viet Minh, which had led the resistance movement against the Japanese, declared the country’s independence. The French Indochina War ensued, until France admitted defeat in 1954, and the Geneva Accords left Vietnam divided into a Communist north and an anti-Communist south. By this time the U.S. had replaced the French as the primary sponsor of the anti-Communist government. Tension between north and south mounted over the next few years, until in 1964 full scale war erupted. The conflict lasted for the next eight years, and involved hundreds of thousands of troops from the U.S. and other countries. In 1973 a cease-fire agreement allowed the U.S. the opportunity to withdraw its troops, and in 1975 the southern capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. An extended period of political repression followed, prompting massive emigration from the country. In 1991, with the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War, many western powers re-established diplomatic and trade relations with Vietnam. The last country to do so, in 1995, was the U.S.

My goodness; just a little bit of basic knowledge could have prevented so much bloodshed. So, we won’t make that mistake again, right? Wrong.

As Maureen Dowd points out:

After Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman had their final catfight about who would lead the House Intelligence Committee, aptly enough at the Four Seasons hair salon in Georgetown, the new speaker passed over the knowledgeable and camera-eager Harman and mystifyingly gave the consequential job to Silvestre Reyes of Texas.

Reyes promptly tripped over the most critical theme in the field of intelligence. Jeff Stein, interviewing the incoming chairman for Congressional Quarterly, asked him whether al-Qaida was Sunni or Shiite.

Predominantly — probably Shiite, the lawmaker guessed.

As Stein corrected him in the article: al-Qaida is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al-Qaida clubhouse, theyd slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

Stein followed up with a Hezbollah question: What are they? Again, Reyes was stumped.

Hezbollah, he stammered. Uh, Hezbollah. Why do you ask me these questions at 5 oclock? Can I answer in Spanish? (O.K. Que es Hezbollah?)

Sounding as naked of essentials as Britney Spears, the new intelligence oversight chief pleaded that it was hard to keep all the categories straight. Thank heavens Stein never got to Syrian Alawites.

Many Americans, including those in charge of Middle East policy, are befuddled and fed up with the intransigent tribal and religious fevers of the region. As Bill OReilly sagely remarked, I dont want to ever hear Shia and Sunni again. But it is beyond the job description of top officials to wish the problems away, especially when the entire region is decomposing before our bleary eyes.

If Reyes had been reading the newspaper, he might have noticed Steins piece on The Times Op-Ed page two months earlier, in which, like a wonkish Ali G, he caught many intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as members of Congress, who did not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just dont care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy were fighting, he concluded. And thats enough to keep anybody up at night.

The lack of intellectual urgency about our Middle East wars is chilling. The Iraq Study Group reported that our efforts in Iraq are handicapped by the fact that our embassy of 1,000 has only 33 Arabic speakers, just six who are fluent.

W., of course, failed a foreign affairs pop quiz and still became a close ally of the Pakistani dictator he referred to as General … General.

Once they have the job, the incentive of politicians to study is somewhat dulled. Charles Z. Wick, who headed the U.S. Information Agency during the Reagan years, sent a memo to his staff saying that he and the president needed to know if France was a member of NATO. Reagan had already been the president for years, The Times Steve Weisman reported, when he expressed surprise at learning that the Soviets had most of their nuclear weapons on land-based missiles, while America had relatively few.

So, why is such ghastly ignorance tolerated? Peter Beinart of the New Republic has some ideas; I haven’t included a link as the article is available online only to those who have a digital subscription. But I subscribe to the print copy and will quote from his article “Reyes to the Bottom” (December 25, 2006, page 6):

Why do we think this is OK? Part of the answer, I supsect, is populism–a deep-seated American distrust of experts and faith in the wisdom of the common woman and man. In 1999, for instance, after George W. Bush couldn’t name the leaders of India, Pakistan and Chechnya in an interview with a Boston reporter, spokeswoman Karen Hughes huffed that “99 percent of most Americans” couldn’t either, as if that made it all right. But it’s not elitist to expect politicians to know more about the rest of the world than average Americans. In fact, Americans should insist on it…[…]

…the Bush adminstration has treated the Middle East as intellectually derivative-a repositoary for theories of rouge-state rollback derived in Europe and Asia during World War II and the cold war. History can be a source of inspiration and guidance, but only when carefully adopted to present realities. And, from the beginning, the Bush administration proved hostile to the very Mideast experts (concentated at the State Department and the CIA) most aware of those realities.

Beinart goes on to say:

Foreign policy is not only about opinions; it is also about facts. And it is time Americans begin to demand a minimum factual competence before we take their opinions seriously.

I couldn’t agree more. One thing I am going to do is to learn some of these facts myself.
As far as the types of Muslims there are (Sunni or Shia); here is a map where one can see which sect dominates which region: (note: the key difference between the sects is which early group had authentic authority to speak for Islam after Mohammed died (or left the earth)). Wikipedia states:

Shi’a Muslims adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the religious guidance of his family whom they refer to as the Ahl al-Bayt. Thus, Shi’as consider the first three ruling Sunni caliphs a historical occurrence and not something attached to faith.

sunni and shia muslims

The dark green (note: this includes Iran) represents the Shia areas; the light green the Sunni.

December 26, 2006 Posted by | politics/social | Leave a comment

Chirstmas 2006; the photos

Post Chirstmas dinner 1

Post Christmas dinner 2

Barbara’s family, Olivia and I ate out this Christmas. Here you see everyone (almost) after the presents were opened.

My back is feeling ok, thanks to a couple of naproxyn.

December 25, 2006 Posted by | family | Leave a comment