Friday, August 31, 2007

My fearless prediction

I can say with great certainty that I've gotten caught up in the preseason hype regarding Notre Dame. National pundits largely think the Irish will struggle, but the more I read and reflect, the more I think the team is going to surprise a lot of people.

As for Georgia Tech, between their injuries and the loss of Calvin Johnson, I think their offense will really struggle. I know people think the loss of Reggie Ball will be a case of addition by subtraction, but the fact remains that Taylor Bennett could not beat out Ball in his first two years at college. Bennett probably will eventually turn out to be a better QB than Ball, but to ask him to be superb in his first game without Super Security Blanket Calvin Johnson is unrealistic.

I think Notre Dame's offense will struggle as well, but will do enough to give the defense some breathing room. If that happens, I'll look for multiple turnovers and a defensive or special teams touchdown.

Irish 20 (that's 3 TD's with a missed extra point), Georgia Tech 3

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bobo's Finest Hour

Perhaps the greatest MST3K sketch of all time:

Prediction updates

Here was my prediction from March about our opening game starters:

QB - Demetrius Jones (Likely correct)
HB - Travis Thomas (Correct)
FB - Asaph Schwapp (Correct)
WR - David Grimes (Correct)
WR - Duval Kamara (Incorrect, though a boy can dream)
TE - John Carlson (Correct)
LT - Paul Duncan (Correct)
LG - Eric Olsen (Incorrect)
OC - John Sullivan (Correct)
RG - Dan Wenger (Correct)
RT - Sam Young (Correct)

DE - Trevor Laws (Correct)
DT - Chris Stewart (Incorrect)
DE - Pat Kuntz (Correct, but wrong position)
OLB - Morrice Richardson (Incorrect)
ILB - Maurice Crum (Correct)
ILB - Toryan Smith (50/50)
OLB - Anthony Vernaglia (Correct)
CB - Terrail Lambert (Correct)
FS - David Bruton (Correct)
SS - Tom Zbikowski (Correct)
CB - Ambrose Wooden (Incorrect)

By my math, I should have 9/11 on offense (assuming Jones starts) and 7/11 on defense (assuming Smith does not start) for a total of 16/22.

Now let's have a look at Jim's:

QB - Jimmy Clausen (Likely incorrect)
RB - Travis Thomas (Correct)
FB - Asaph Schwapp (Correct)
WR - David Grimes (Correct)
WR - Robby Parris (Incorrect)
TE - John Carlson (Correct)
RT - Sam Young (Correct)
G- Dan Wenger (Correct)
C- John Sullivan (Correct)
G - Matt Carufel (Incorrect)
LT - Paul Duncan (Correct)

DE - Trevor Laws (Correct)
NT - Chris Stewart (Incorrect)
DE - Derrell Hand (Prostitute)
OLB - John Ryan (Correct)
ILB - Maurice Crum (Correct)
ILB - Toryan Smith (50/50)
OLB - Morrice Richardson (Incorrect)
CB - Terrail Lambert (Correct)
CB - Darrin Walls (Correct)
FS - David Bruton (Correct)
SS - Tom Zbikowski (Correct)

That's likely 8/11 on offense and 7/11 on defense for a total of 15/22. By our agreement, I win his favorite book. Although I'm not particularly sure I want a first edition of Tolkein, Meus Vir. (That's Tolkein, My Hero, according to my online English-Latin dictionary.

Spy vs. Spy

Some thoughts on the Georgia Tech game. If I remember rightly, Notre Dame often put Maurice Crum as a "spy" on Reggie Ball to ensure the quarterback didn't pick up too many plays with his legs. Calvin Johnson was also frequently double-covered. This game plan worked to perfection, as both players were contained, and GT scored a mere 10 points. Now let's look at this year. No Reggie Ball and no Calvin Johnson. Notre Dame effectively has two more players on defense. Throw in the numerous injuries of GT (RT, LT, TE, numerous WRs, backup RB), and I like our chances of stopping them.

Now about the other half of the match-up. If Demetrius Jones is the QB, as nearly everyone is saying he is, he will almost certainly demand a spy of some kind. If not, he'll just pick GT to death on QB draws or botched passing plays (2006 Fiesta Bowl style). Here's the more speculative part. Armando Allen is fast. Really fast. Could he require a spy as well? Notre Dame has never had a player under Weis who forced the defense to watch him every single play. We're going to have one, and quite possibly two this year. If that happens, who's guarding Carlson (let alone Yeatman or Reuland)?. Then there are our receivers. Grimes and West might not be Samardizja and Stovall, but I'm willing to bet they can beat single coverage if the safeties are worried about the Notre Dame backfield. If Jones can be accurate enough for defenses to respect the pass, I think the offense has a chance to rack up a lot of points. Weis is no Chan Gailey. He'll make teams pay for poaching.

Prediction: ND 24 - GT 10

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hooray for government cheese (and milk, and formula, and eggs...)

Guys, our money problems are over; we are officially on welfare! Come on kids, help me scatter car parts on the front lawn.
-Peter Griffin
Not quite, but my family is now officially on WIC (Women, Infants & Children), and we receive free formula, milk, eggs, cheese, juice, and other things that I'm forgetting. I love the fact that a future doctor and lawyer are eligible for such programs. If there's a better advertisement against the welfare state, I'm not sure what it is.

Having said that, I'm certainly not begrudging any of the free stuff. I just find it a little silly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pick Six

I actually did really well for much of the season in this contest last year, because I had Rutgers as my unranked team and they kept rolling. This year:

1-5 - USC
6-10 - Louisville
11-15 - Cal
16-20 - Nebraska
21-25 - Arkansas
Unranked - Notre Dame

A note on Hawaii: The non-BCS team that is expected to do really well in any given season rarely does well in that season.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Picked Six

The Blue-Gray Sky has its annual contest up. This year, your intrepid blogger has thrown his hat into the ring (and suggests that the esteemed Mr. Rico do the same). His choices:
1. USC
2. Louisville
3. Ohio State
4. Florida State
5. Hawaii
6. Notre Dame


Those with messenger bags, although only using one strap, look devilishly handsome. Those whose bags have two straps but choose to use only one deserve all that abuse and more.


People who wear a backpack over one shoulder are invariably douchebags. Discuss.

The day my childhood died

I just threw up in my mouth a little. I heard this on the radio this morning, but hoped the DJ was mistaken. Alas, it appears not to be the case.

A G.I. Joe movie is being made. (Hooray!) But G.I. Joe is no longer a real American hero; now he's part of the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. Disgusting.

See here for more details.

I've never been a big believer in using the power of the Internet to create change, but if there has ever been a cause requiring an online petition, this is it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


A wise man once said (on the Feb. 9, 1980 Weekend Update of SNL):
President Carter has proposed the drafting of women, and everybody's all worked up about it. Personally, I don't see what they're complaining about. Women in the armed forces could be the best thing that ever happened to this country.

Let's say we have a war with Russia and the women fight. If we win, that's OK. And if we lose, we can say to the Russians: "Wow, you beat a bunch of girls. You must be really proud of yourselves. You Russians are real tough guys, yeah." Can you imagine how embarrassed the Russians would be?

The same holds true for weapons. Why give weapons to our soldiers? If we win without 'em, fine. And if lose, we can say, "Oh, so you beat us. We didn't even have any weapons. Whaddya want? Big deal!"

If you ask me, the best defense our country could have would be an army of poorly equipped, untrained, unarmed women. That way, either we would win the war or we'd make the Russians look like incredible jerks. And isn't that what it's all about anyway?

That's my opinion. I'm Bill Murray, and my girlfriend's going.


I always wanted 14 consecutive posts.

Back to school!

Back to school
Back to school
To prove to dad that I'm not a fool

Law school started yesterday. Aside from the troubling trend that I've already done a considerable amount of work, it's going well. In a few weeks, I'll be suing my wife for malpractice.

Interestingly, there's a 1L here who reminds me of Big Jim. Smart, a little too intellectual for my tastes, and vaguely goofy looking. So as I'm talking to him yesterday, we get on the topic of undergraduate majors. What was his?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

40 Specially Trained Ecuadorian Dancing Llamas

And oldy but goody. Remember the catch the little bit after the song ends.

For those keeping score, the Von Clausewitz admirably maintains the theme of the previous two posts.

Why a duck? I mean, the rest makes sense, but a duck?

[The persons responsible for this post have been sacked.]

Monday, August 20, 2007

War, What Is It Good For?

Well, studying for one thing.

In a remarkable coincidence, Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent column over at City Journal on the need for a great study of military history. He has two main points. The first is utilitarian:
A wartime public illiterate about the conflicts of the past can easily find itself paralyzed in the acrimony of the present. Without standards of historical comparison, it will prove ill equipped to make informed judgments. Neither our politicians nor most of our citizens seem to recall the incompetence and terrible decisions that, in December 1777, December 1941, and November 1950, led to massive American casualties and, for a time, public despair. So it’s no surprise that today so many seem to think that the violence in Iraq is unprecedented in our history. Roughly 3,000 combat dead in Iraq in some four years of fighting is, of course, a terrible thing. And it has provoked national outrage to the point of considering withdrawal and defeat, as we still bicker over up-armored Humvees and proper troop levels. But a previous generation considered Okinawa a stunning American victory, and prepared to follow it with an invasion of the Japanese mainland itself—despite losing, in a little over two months, four times as many Americans as we have lost in Iraq, casualties of faulty intelligence, poor generalship, and suicidal head-on assaults against fortified positions.

It’s not that military history offers cookie-cutter comparisons with the past. Germany’s World War I victory over Russia in under three years and her failure to take France in four apparently misled Hitler into thinking that he could overrun the Soviets in three or four weeks—after all, he had brought down historically tougher France in just six. Similarly, the conquest of the Taliban in eight weeks in 2001, followed by the establishment of constitutional government within a year in Kabul, did not mean that the similarly easy removal of Saddam Hussein in three weeks in 2003 would ensure a working Iraqi democracy within six months. The differences between the countries—cultural, political, geographical, and economic—were too great.

Instead, knowledge of past wars establishes wide parameters of what to expect from new ones. Themes, emotions, and rhetoric remain constant over the centuries, and thus generally predictable. Athens’s disastrous expedition in 415 BC against Sicily, the largest democracy in the Greek world, may not prefigure our war in Iraq. But the story of the Sicilian calamity does instruct us on how consensual societies can clamor for war—yet soon become disheartened and predicate their support on the perceived pulse of the battlefield.

The second is a question of piety:

Finally, military history has the moral purpose of educating us about past sacrifices that have secured our present freedom and security. If we know nothing of Shiloh, Belleau Wood, Tarawa, and Chosun, the crosses in our military cemeteries are just pleasant white stones on lush green lawns. They no longer serve as reminders that thousands endured pain and hardship for our right to listen to what we wish on our iPods and to shop at Wal-Mart in safety—or that they expected future generations, links in this great chain of obligation, to do the same for those not yet born. The United States was born through war, reunited by war, and saved from destruction by war. No future generation, however comfortable and affluent, should escape that terrible knowledge.
Read the whole thing of course, Hanson, when writing on the war in Iraq is often repetitive; however, that doesn't take away from his skill as a writer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's Almost as Good at TV!

Here's some Frontinus for you all. Everyone needs a little Frontinus in his life. Book II 5.31:
When Sertorius was encamped next to Pompey near the town of Lauron in Spain, there were only two tracts from which forage could be gathered, one near by, the other farther off. Sertorius gave orders that the one near by should be continually raided by light-armed troops, but that remoter one should not be visited by any troops. Thus, he finally convinced his adversaries that the more distant tract was safer. When, on one occasion, Pompey's troops had gone to this region, Sertorius ordered Octavius Graecinus, with ten cohorts armed after the Roman fashion, and ten cohorts of light-armed Spaniards along with Tarquinius Priscus and two thousand cavalry, set forth to lay an ambush against the foragers. These men executed their instructions with energy; for after examining the ground, they hid the above-mentioned forces by night in a neighbouring wood, posting the light-armed Spaniards in front, as best suited to stealthy warfare, the shield-bearing soldiers a little further back, and the cavalry in the rear, in order that the plan might not be betrayed by the neighing of the horses. Then they ordered all to repose in silence till the third hour of the following day. When Pompey's men, entertaining no suspicion and loaded down with forage, thought of returning, and those who had been on guard, lured on by the situation, were slipping away to forage, suddenly the Spaniards, darting out with the swiftness characteristic of their race, poured forth upon the stragglers, inflicted many wounds upon them, and put them to rout, to their great amazement. Then, before resistance to this first assault could be organised, the shield-bearing troops, bursting forth from the forest, overthrew and routed the Romans who were returning to the ranks, while the cavalry, dispatched after those in flight, followed them all the way back to the camp, cutting them to pieces. Provision was also made that no one should escape. For two hundred and fifty reserve horsemen, sent ahead for the purpose, found it a simple matter to race forward by short cuts, and then to turn back and meet those who had first fled, before they reached Pompey's camp. On learning of this, Pompey sent out a legion under Decimus Laelius to reinforce his men, whereupon the cavalry of the enemy, withdrawing to the right flank, pretended to give way, and then, passing round the legion, assaulted it from the rear, while those who had followed up the foragers attacked it from the front also. Thus the legion with its commander was crushed between the two lines of the enemy. When Pompey led out his entire army to help the legion, Sertorius exhibited his forces drawn up on the hillside, and thus baulked Pompey's purpose. Thus, in addition to inflicting a twofold disaster, as a result of the same strategy, Sertorius forced Pompey to be the helpless witness of the destruction of his own troops. This was the first battle between Sertorius and Pompey. According to Livy, ten thousand men were lost in Pompey's army, along with the entire transport.
Some notes. The battle took place in 77 BC. The third watch is around 9:00 AM. A cohort was composed of 480 men, and legion was made of ten cohorts. The Romans, and their similarly armed and trained Spanish counterparts, would have had a chain-mail shirts, bronze helmets, long oval shields, a javelin, and a short stabbing sword. The light armed soldiers would have had a number of javelins, a small shield, and maybe the helmet. The cavalry had a few javelins, a longer sword, a helmet, and some kind of armor on their chest (metal or leather). Oh, and no pants. Except for maybe of the Spanish. But then they were barbarians.

So. Sertorius is brilliant, yes? It's not everyday that you get to cut down two Roman legions with hardly a casualty. Incredibly detailed and well thought out plan and some brilliant execution. But there's more than that. Luck was involved too. The ambush worked so well that no Roman, if any survived uncaptured, was able to get back to warn Pompey or Laelius of the size of the ambush. Pompey must have been expecting the kinds of ambushes he put up with over the nearer foraging ground. Bad assumption. Laelius, then, was meant command a relief force and not a force capable of independent action. The Romans had an inherent to dislike of skirmishers and cavalry and consequently had very few in their armies. Pompey would have sent a sizable contingent of cavalry and skirmishers with foragers to, you know, ward off an ambush. Since these were already dead, not that he knew that, and since he would have kept the majority of those kinds of troops with him in case Sertorius offered battle, it's most likely that Laelius marched out without any supporting force at all. Remember he was supposed to be leading reinforcements. That Priscus' cavalry could flank him so easily is pretty good evidence that I'm right. The result, then, was pretty much set in stone.

That being said. Here's the image that's staying with me. Sertorius must have been watching the initial force of foragers in case it was bigger than usual and he had to call off the ambush. Seeing as it was the normal contingent, he would have signaled the go-ahead. Since the first battle took place under the trees, he wouldn't have been able to see anything, though he would have been confident of success. I can't imagine the feeling he had when he saw Laelius' men march out of Pompey's camp. Seeing them without enough numbers and without sufficient cavalry and skirmishers, he would have known that the first engagement was an unqualified success and that is was highly probable that every single one of them was going to die. Then, after the inevitable result, he got to watch Pompey make preparations to march out, knowing that he would be able to counter that too and that all Pompey could do was sit back and take it.

Dark stuff. But fascinating.


I'm not a huge fan of those Chuck Norris statements, but this one really tickled my funny bone:
On his birthday, Chuck Norris randomly selects one lucky child to be thrown into the sun.
Not sure why. I don't think it's even technically (if I can use that word with humor) the best. That award goes to:
Chuck Norris doesn't go hunting. Hunting requires some element of chance. Chuck Norris goes killing.
I'll have to ruminate on this.

Snoozing on the Job

I guess Rico and his crew weren't on the short list of cute families with recent babies. Maybe I should think about getting a new blog partner. If only I knew someone like those people in the article.

Throw Me a Frickin' Bone

In yet another display of its ongoing slide in moral turpitude, Hollywood has consistently refused to adequately portray a giant evil wolf.

Exhibit A:

WETA, normally superb on monster design, decided to with the giant hyena/hamster route, rather than portray the large, cunningly intelligent wolves Tolkien describes.

Exhibit B:

As good as ILM has been in the past, creature design for the Harry Potter movies has been less than stellar. I'm thinking of the centaurs in particular here. Anyway, Lupin's alter ego looks more sad than terrifying. Maybe even a little cute.

Exhibit C:

The best of the lot, as is befitting a Frank Miller inspired movie. Still, you can tell that The 300 didn't have a top-of-the-line budget (not that it helped the previous two creatures). He just looks a little fake. The movement, in particular, is a problem.

Until Hollywood manages to come up with a realistic, sufficiently scary design, I suggest it sticks to what it does best rather than churn out unsatisfactory canines:

Good Question

What is man, that you ask so much of him,
and that you set your mind upon him,
Visit him every morning,
and test him every moment?
-Job 7: 17-18

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Boy Do I Feel Sheepish

So John Carlson got 3.91 GPA for the spring semester. The only conclusion I can draw, and I'm sure Rico will back me up here, that Smash Bros. is more time intensive than football. Oh he also has a 3.66 cumulative. Did I mention he's thought to be the best tight end in the country?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Recruiting Update

First, and most importantly. British Footman, whom I had blogged about in a less than serious manner, is actually a pretty good football player. And by that I mean very good football player since he verbally accepted Florida State's offer.

I'd like to use him, though, to show just how far Notre Dame has come. A running back who commits to FSU wasn't thought worthy of more than a sniff by ND's coaches. The class of 2008 is really too amazing for words, here it is via Rivals or Scout. Look at all those shiny stars. Add an elite receiver (i.e. Michael Floyd) and this might just be one for the ages.

We'll I'll Be!

Alligators are black, not green.

Be sure to check out the article. I'm quite envious of Michael Yon. To be so familiar with alligators is pretty damn awesome. That picture with the 212 sets of alligator eyes sounds pretty awesome too.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Can't Get Over

how amazing the first movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Krauthammer Is Always Right

Deal with it. From NRO:
Amid these conflicting claims, one issue is not in dispute. When The New Republic did its initial investigation, it admitted that Beauchamp had erred on one “significant detail.” The disfigured woman incident happened not in Iraq, but in Kuwait.

That means it all happened before Beauchamp arrived in Iraq. But the whole point of that story was to demonstrate how the war had turned an otherwise sensitive soul into a monster. Indeed, in the precious, highly self-conscious literary style of an aspiring writer trying out for a New Yorker gig, Beauchamp follows the terrible tale of his cruelty to the disfigured woman by asking, “Am I a monster?” And answering with satisfaction that the very fact that he could ask this question after (the reader has been led to believe) having been so hardened and brutalized by war, shows that there is a kernel of humanity left in him.

But oh, how much was lost. In the past, you see, he was a sensitive soul with “compassion for those with disabilities.” In a particularly treacly passage, he tells us he once worked in a summer camp with disabled children and in college helped a colleague with cerebral palsy. Then this delicate compassionate youth is transformed into an unfeeling animal by war.

Except that it is now revealed that the mess hall incident happened before he even got to the war. On which point, the whole story — and the whole morality tale it was meant to suggest — collapses.
The rest is good too, of course.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tick, Tock

I've mentioned Leonhard's Fighting by Minutes before in a frivolous vein. Today, as I skimmed it to help with a paper I'm writing, I found this sage idea:
. . . In the past, commanders have tended to either ignore time considerations completely or think about them only in terms of time required. With only a spatial perspective on warfare, it is easy for the soldier to think about a given objective--for example, the destruction of an enemy army--and then to calculate that the friendly force will require two months to execute. In other words, the spatial objective is the independent variable and time is the dependent variable. The amount of time to be used depends on the amount of space to be conquested.

In ancient and medieval times, a spatial perspective could bear fruit. If the warring society were primarily oriented toward military conquest (as opposed to economic growth), and if the the field commander were also the head of state, it was a simple matter to require one or more campaigning seasons to attain the objectives in war. But in the modern world, the frequency of life has quickened. Electronic communications, rapid and volatile economic growth, and political power sharing within societies has made the duration of warfare a vital concern. To an ever-increasing degree, the commander must come to view the campaign not in terms of time required, but rather in terms of time available. Time is now the independent variable, and spatial considerations must conform to the new priorities, or all the dangers of long-duration warring will be realized (p. 174).
A little overly simplistic, but, then, it is a general statement. Anyhow, it certainly holds true for the Iraq campaign. If the generals were told we had to about of Iraq by 2008 at the very beginning, that would probably have changed our strategy and aims a heck of a lot. Fickle populaces and lengthy wars don't exactly go hand in hand. That fact probably should have been taken into account and had better in our next great adventure.

Evil Legos

I can't believe you had the opportunity to write about evil legos and didn't choose this picture.

The End Is Nigh

Be afraid. Be very afraid. From Reuters:
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A giant, smiling Lego man was fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort on Tuesday.

Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-metre (8-foot) tall model with a yellow head and blue torso.

"We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water," said a stall worker. "It was a life-sized Lego toy."

A woman nearby added: "I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England."

The toy was later placed in front of the drinks stall.

What does the shirt mean? Is it some kind of code? Anagrams range from the banal "Uh, anyone a realtor?" to the sinister "A royal eon haunter." Only time, and perhaps more Legos, will tell. Let's just hope our plastic friend isn't the first stage in some kind of invasion. Not all Legos are as friendly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Still a work in progress. You, loyal reader, get to see ace reported Big Jim in action as he catalogs Michigan's perfidy . . .

Alright the specific dastardly nature of Michigan football players favorite major occurred to me as a read Pat Forde's article on the Harbaugh controversy. This quote, from Cathy Conway-Perrin, the director of academic standards and academic opportunities in Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts clued me in:
"BGS [Bachelor of General Studies] can be more demanding in some ways," Conway-Perrin wrote in an e-mail asking for an explanation of the degree. "For example, students are required to take at least 60 credits of upper-level courses (courses numbered 300 and above, which are generally more intensive courses aimed at juniors and seniors). Since students need 120 credits to graduate, that means that at least half of a BGS student's coursework is upper-level. This allows them to develop intensive knowledge in several areas of study. So while juniors and seniors who are pursuing a BA or a BS may continue to take introductory courses in areas in which they have a peripheral interest, BGS students tend to study their areas of interest in depth and take more upper-level courses.
Here's the money quote:
For example, students are required to take at least 60 credits of upper-level courses (courses numbered 300 and above, which are generally more intensive courses aimed at juniors and seniors).
Right. Courses numbered 300 and higher.

Next I investigated the course requirements of all the other undergrad non-language humanities programs offered at Michigan (Math and science are excluded for obvious reasons):
African American Studies: 24 hours numbered 300 or higher, one 400 level senior seminar
American Culture: 19 hours numbered 300 or above, two 400 level courses
Anthropology's website proved impenetrable.
Communication Studies: 16 at 300 or above, 8 at 400
Comparative Literature: 24 at 300 or above (in two different languages), 3-6 400 level
English: 27 credits at 300 or above
History: 21 credits at 300 or above
Judaic Studies was unhelpful. 27 credit hours needed, but also 4 semesters of a language.
Medieval Studies and Early Modern Studies: 15 at 300 or higher, 4 semesters of a language, one 400 level class.
Near Eastern Studies: All concentrations with the program require extensive language classes except for Near Eastern Civilizations: 8 courses at 400 level
Philosophy: 15 at 300 or higher, 6 at 400 level
Political Science: 18 at 300 or above, 6 at 400 level
Psychology: 20 at 300 or higher
Screen Arts and Cultures: 30 at 300 or higher
Sociology: 30 at 200 or above (two 300 courses are mandatory)
Women's Studies: 12 at 300 or above, one at 400 level
So there we have it. Out of the 17 programs included in this survey only Psychology, Sociology, History, and English fail to require the student to take a 400 level course.

Open Book, RIP

Well, Amy's finally done it. At least, allegedly, though I can't see her going back full time. It really is sad in it's heyday (and even past it) Open Book was the best Catholic blog around. Her "Theory of Everything Posts" were just fantastic, and maybe not gone for good? Here's hoping someone will the void soon.

God Is Great

Harvey Mansfield has a good column in the Weekly Standard where he takes on those (Hitchens, Dawkins, et al.) who insist that religion is the bane of human society. The conclusion:
Is there an atheist alternative to tyranny? Is there such a thing as a non religious principle, replacing God, that is truly transcendent and not a tool of our passions? One can think of such a principle, something like Kant's categorical imperative that requires each person, without appealing to God, to act only on a universal idea, not one that favors himself or promotes his own interest over others. But how does this work in practice? Has Germany, the country of Kant, been a paragon of justice in the world since Kant fashioned his theory? More pointedly, has not the atheist totalitarianism of the twentieth century, with its universal pretensions, proved to be the worst tyranny mankind has ever seen?

There was an Epicurean atheism in the ancient world quite different from ours today. That atheism also uncovered tyranny behind the mask of religion, but it was content to point out the power of injustice. Injustice in this view was the way of the world, and there was no remedy for it. The only recourse for a reasonable person was to stay out of politics and live a life of pleasure, seeking calm, watching storms of the sea from ashore, and suppressing one's indignation at injustice.

Today's atheism rejects this serene attitude and goes on the attack. In its criticisms of God it claims to be more moral than religion. But it cannot do this without becoming just as heated, thus just as susceptible to fanaticism, as religion. Today's atheism shows the power of our desire for justice, a fact underestimated by the Epicurean pleasure-lovers. But it ignores the power of injustice, which was the Epicurean insight. Atheists today angrily hold religion to a standard of justice that the most advanced thinkers of our time, the postmoderns, have declared to be impossible. Some of those postmoderns, indeed, are so disgusted with the optimism of atheism that, with a shrug of their shoulders, they propose returning to the relative sanity of religion.

It is not religion that makes men fanatics; it is the power of the human desire for justice, so often partisan and perverted. That fanatical desire can be found in both religion and atheism. In the contest between religion and atheism, the strength of religion is to recognize two apparently contrary forces in the human soul: the power of injustice and the power, nonetheless, of our desire for justice. The stubborn existence of injustice reminds us that man is not God, while the demand for justice reminds us that we wish for the divine. Religion tries to join these two forces together.

The weakness of atheism, however, is to take account of only one of them, the fact of injustice in the case of Epicurean atheism or the desire for justice in our Enlightenment atheism. I conclude that philosophy today--and science too--need not only to tolerate and respect religion, but also to learn from it.
It's a bit funny to hear Mansfield call on postmoderns for support. Other than that, I like the division of Atheists into Crusaders and Epicurans. A damn good polemic, if I may say so myself. Also true.

I completely agree with you. Always.

(Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of 2008 presidential candidate profiles.)

Hi, I'm Mitt Romney, and I think you should vote for me as the next President of the United States.

Why? Because I always agree with you.


You hate abortion? Hey, me too! Well, sure, I used to support abortion, but that was before I realized you didn't like it.

Ronald Reagan.

Guns? I love 'em. Been hunting since I was a kid. Fishing, too.

Well, maybe I haven't hunted in a literal sense, but I still think we should use guns to shoot immigrants. You do hate immigrants, right?

Stem cells? I've hated them since I first heard about them. Oh, there's a video on YouTube where I say I support stem cell research? Well, just ignore that. You see, back then, I hadn't had my deep, lifelong, profound change of heart. I also wasn't running for president at the time.

Ronald Reagan.

Gays? I give you my word, my sacred word, that I will strongly denounce homosexual civil unions until the day that I die. Or the day I receive the GOP nomination, whichever comes first.

Ronald Reagan.

What's that? Republicans like curling? Seriously?

As you know, I've been curling all my life. Using the brooms, pushing that big round stone thing, I love it all.

Well, no, I haven't actually curled, but you know what I mean. Right?


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lingering Harry Potter Questions (No Spoilers)

Just a few inconsequential things I wondered about as I read the last Harry Potter book:

Why would the Ministry of Magic employ a pureblood wizard (Arthur Weasley) for a job involving understanding muggles? Surely there had to be an equally-qualified wizard who grew up in a home with televisions, lawnmowers, and combustion engines?

In the first book in the series, the Gryffindor quidditch team's beaters a\were Fred and George Weasley. In a dorm full of students aged 11 to 17, two 13-year-olds were the best beaters? In a position that seemingly requires strength and bulk, I can't conceive that they could have been the best. Further, I got the impression that they had started the previous year, meaning they may have been on the team at age 12.

Why was the entire defense against Voldemort left to a private collection of wizards? After Voldemort's first defeat, no one thought, "Hmm... maybe we should organize some sort of defense against any future super-badass evil wizards?" And no, the aurors don't count.

Monday, August 6, 2007

This depresses me to no end

The man after whom I've modeled my life is a phony.

'Wild' Storm: Reality Survival Show Faked
Scenes on Reality Show Were Contrived; Host Spent Night in Motels

July 25, 2007 —

He was born to be wild -- but only after a hot shower and room service.

The Discovery Channel has issued a statement in response to an investigation into its popular series "Man vs. Wild," following allegations that the show's host, Bear Grylls, had a little help battling the wild: a motel.

"Discovery Communications has learned that isolated elements of the 'Man vs. Wild' show in some episodes were not natural to the environment, and that for health and safety concerns the crew and host received some survival assistance while in the field," the network stated.

The series' production company, Diverse Television, is cooperating with British television's Channel 4, which carries the program under a the name "Born Survivor: Bear Grylls."

Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had spent the night indoors on at least two occasions when the series had led viewers to believe he was spending the night in the wild.

Sort of like a modern day Tarzan, Grylls is airlifted into the wild with only a few survival tools, such as a flint or water bottle. The reality show hunk, who has appeared on several talk shows to the screaming delight of women of all ages, served in the British Special Air Services. On the show, he reportedly survives for several days with no outside assistance.

Grylls has been filmed stranded in the deadly swamps of the Florida Everglades, paragliding onto the edge of the Andes to follow rivers into the Ecuadorean jungle and demonstrating how to make a snow cave, find water in deep tunnels and avoid frostbite in Iceland's arctic environment.

But if there's a warm bed waiting nearby, just how impressive are these stunts?

Among the Grylls grievances is an episode supposedly set on a deserted island (actually Hawaii) that shows him building a raft, which was actually constructed and then disassembled by show consultants so that the host could easily put it together.

And though Grylls claims to be a horse wrangler, another charge maintains that the wild horses Grylls happened upon in the Sierra Nevada were not so wild, and were in fact from a trekking station.

The Discovery Channel gave no indication it was ditching the show entirely. Instead, the show will be tweaked.

"Moving forward, the program will be 100 percent transparent, and all elements of the filming will be explained upfront to our viewers," Discovery said in its statement. "In addition, shows that are to be repeated will be edited appropriately. Bear Grylls is a world-class adventurer and a terrific talent."

No word on what "transparent" means or how fans of the series will react, but perhaps Discovery should add a disclaimer to the show: Survival made possible by hotel stay and dramatization of events.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Saturday, August 4, 2007

First Place!

The Tribe may have had a miserable late July and early August, but Detroit's was worse. Also, the Indians are the first team to beat Santana three times in one year. How do you like them apples? Oh, and a continued curse on those Yankee Pig-Dogs.