is older than it's ever been and now it's even older



For those who know me In Real Life, the fact that I have managed to keep my proclivity for Oklahoma Sooner football off of this page since last year's Orange Bowl should be very impressive. Of course I've been busy, but I haven't wanted to show the rest of my intellectual friends who read this that I am still gung-ho, crazy, nuts about college football. I gave up on the NBA after the lockout; the team aspect went to the toilet and the quality of play disappeared. I never really got back into baseball after the strike, although I follow it enough to know that the Yankees should have been knocked out, and the fact that they didn't probably proves that the sport is fixed. I still watch an NFL game now and again, but with my time short, other priorities keep getting placed above watching the erratic Vikings play (although I did see the eminently satisfying win over the Packers last week). Despite living in Minnesota and having a wife who works for the Wild, I never have really gotten into hockey. But college football...

College football remains the sport that I like the best. It's the most pure, interesting sport to watch. With 22 people on the field at a time, there is strategic maneuvering to watch literally every play. It's like a human chess game with a lot more violence. College is better than pro football. The percentage of players who go on to the NFL is negligable, and so you know that the players are motivated by something other than money. Yes, college football is a game of pride, and honor, and strategy. And the best rivalry in college football is OU-Nebraska.

Sure, OU's program went into the tank for ten dark years of the 90s, but my memories of this game extend farther than that. Virtually every game with Nebraska during the '80s featured both teams entering with top ten national rankings, and each game was close (I have particularly vivid memories of the stunning contest in 1986, which I regard as the best game I've ever seen). Nebraska writer Steve Sippey remembers the way it was and is again:
The swagger's back. Man, we missed that swagger. You endured your dark years. The 1990s were particularly horrifying, especially that stint under Schnellenberger. Then Blake. Ugly. But now, alas, you sparkle again. And we think some hearty Midwestern thank-you's are in order.

Thank you for your swift and stunning revival. Without it, this week - this wonderful week, so filled with anticipation and intrigue and mutual respect - would be impossible.

We in the Sooner Nation -- Oklahoma and its diaspora -- remember too. Thanks for saying so.

It snowed yesterday. Just a dusting, but the 50 MPH winds and the below zero wind chills are a brutal wake up call. The lakes just iced-out at the end of April; we've had only six months of outdoors weather. It just isn't fair.


Blog journalism

Over on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's site, there is a cryptic apology written in Portuguese. From my buddy Jeff, here is the translation:

10-04-01 Apology from Derek ...

This is an open letter to the country of Brazil.

First of all, I want to apologize to the city of Porto
Allegre for my insulting comments.

Despite my dissapointment in the crowd's support to
Osama Bin Laden, and hatred for my country, my
comments only added fuel to a fire that I wish
never existed in the first place.

I have played Monsters of Rock in Brazil in 1996 with
Alice Cooper, and in 1998 with Dream Theater. I LOVE
Brazil, and I LOVE the Brasilian people. I want to
play here in the future.

I am asking you to consider that this is a extremely
sensitive time for my country right now. Think about
the children and families who lost their loved
ones in The World Trade Center tragedy. America was
NOT the only victim. Many Brasilians, among innocent
people from many other countries were killed by
this heinous act of terror.

I am not a politician. All I care about is playing
music, and taking the music to the people around the

I will not judge the country of Brazil, or even the
city of Porto Allegre just by the actions of the

We are ALL part of the human race, and the universal
language between us is the music.

Derek Sherinian

If that isn't strange enough, here is his explanation of what happened, since removed from his site:

"First of all, I would like to preface this letter by
saying that I am not a fan of one using their musical
status to promote religious or political beliefs.

I am also not one to post on message boards, but
something happened to me on stage last night that I
feel compelled to write this letter.

I am currently the only American in Yngwie Malmsteen's
touring band. What happened at last night's gig in
Porte Allegre, Brazil was shocking.

Midway through the set, Yngwie finished his guitar
solo spot with the 'Star Spangled Banner.' The crowd
of about 1500 people started immediately booing very
loudly, and throwing shit on stage. The crowd
started chanting, 'O S A M A !!, O S A M A !!!'

To see the Anti-American rallies on CNN is bad enough,
but to be in the middle of one is scary beyond words

So after Yngwie's solo we had about 5 more songs to
play. All of my spirit was gone. I finished the set
disgusted, and without looking at the crowd for the
rest of the show. After the final song, the band
went to the dressing room. I told Yngwie, 'I refuse to
go out for the encore under any circumstances, FUCK

Yngwie went back on stage by himself and played the
'Star Spangled Banner' again to a choir of loud boos.
He then said on the microphone, 'God Bless America,
and FUCK YOU ALL' and walked off stage.

The crowd went into a riot and started throwing shit
on stage. We immediately were rushed back to our
hotel. I have no idea of the status of our gear.

I want to thank Yngwie for backing me up, and for
standing up for the USA.

To the people in Porte Allegre, you should be ashamed
of yourselves. I don't give a fuck if I ever play your
peasant infested third world city again.

God Bless America,
Derek Sherinian"

My goodness.
Blog plugging

Dear Sean,

Thanks for the kind words. I enjoy your plugging of my infrequently updated site, and hope you didn't think I was whining about being downgraded seriously. Keep up the good work. Please note I have upgraded your site's position on my sidebar (in the blog section). Thanks for pointing out the Blogback commenting system. You will note I have also installed it.

Dear Eric,

I had no idea you still read this site! I'm so sorry that I haven't come over and abducted you for beer. I promise to do it as soon as I get some free time.


Lastly, the aforementioned Jeff has been faithfully maintaining my erstwhile project Debater's Corner, and it is fast growing into an outstanding resource for high school policy debaters. Visit to see my efforts in modifying Anil's CSS. I call it the "Blue Page."


Ramping up

I apologize to my hard core fans (uh, my mom, and maybe Sean Meade, even if he doesn't like the site as much any more, and maybe some other person I haven't yet realized reads this) for not updating very much any more. I blame school. Actually, school is a good excuse. I am very busy with various classes, and when I am not actually in classes I am almost always discussing school, or doing homework, or doing Real Work here at the Dank Basement.

Since I've already alienated the normal blog crowd, I'll just tell you what I did last weekend. Saturday was Maggie and my first wedding anniversary. When we got hitched last year, we decided that we were going to divvy up planning for the anniversaries on an even-odd basis. She would take the odd anniversaries, and I would get the evens. She indicated to me I should do nothing to plan for this one, and I didn't do anything but get her a really nice present consistent with the theme, which marketers have determined for anniversary number one is paper. But that is a digression.

On Friday, Maggie picked me up at the school with a single rose, a printed program of weekend activities and the message: "we're going to Iowa." I said the only thing I could, which was "ok!" and we were off. Maggie had arranged us to stay at La Corsette Maison, a superb little inn in Newton, Iowa. So we drove down there and had a great weekend in a sleepy little town. On the night of our anniversary, we had a private hayride out at a nearby ranch, and kicked back with a bottle of wine by our own bonfire. It was great. Thanks, Mag.


My brother Kevin and I used to watch the cartoon Battle of the Planets when we were little kids in the 70s. I loved it, but no one I ever talk to recognizes it. Through that link you can now buy videotapes and DVDs.


The attack begins

Two days ago, the US began bombing Afghanistan. Much has been said about the war on terrorism, but little of worth. I have been going for information from Rebecca Blood, a super-blogger whose desire to follow the story has overwhelmed her desire to stay the hell away from the computer the last month. Obviously, more than can be said for me.

I am not a pacifist. I do not believe there is any inherent value in forswearing the use of violence; in fact, violence is a tool that can be used as necessary. That being said, violence is not often the most effective means at the disposal of a human or country, and thus it disappoints me when it is used when other means could be used to achieve the same aims. I regard the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be illuminating in this regard. While Dr. King may have had profound ethical and moral reasons for pushing for nonviolence, it surely didn’t escape his notice that nonviolence was obviously the superior strategy to undertake in the United States because of our nature as a republic. The Civil Rights movement didn’t achieve its aims by annoying southern politicians; it won by winning over the majority of the people of the United States, and a good amount of that public support was gained by seeing people of color attacked by dogs and thrown flying when water cannons were trained on nonresisting columns of people.

For once, the United States government obviously is concerned about what the rest of the world thinks about us. Yet, the attempts to stay on the good side of the world, especially the Arab world, appear nothing short of lame to me. The food drop, for instance, is so pathetic and transparent that I wonder why they even bothered. I have this image in my head of a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where these gruff lifelong military men are discussing the campaign, and at the end they get to the subject of PR, and throw out the idea of the MRE drop. Did I mention they didn’t use parachutes?

Philosophically, my bent towards utility inclines me to not look with much favor on what our current policy is. Reading the situation with a mind for history shows that we engendered major hatred in Afghanistan when we gave them arms and then abandoned them after the Soviet invasion. If we think we can bomb without nation-building and expect to not repeat the cycle, we are fooling ourselves. The Republicans that rail against the nation-building we’ve undertaken irritate me as much as the lefties that were against the US policy before one was announced. Bombing to deter and retaliate against terrorists empirically doesn’t work, period. I am disappointed that Colin Powell and his broad based diplomatic, intelligence, and financial approach to the war against terrorism seems to be losing out to the typical “bomb them back to the stone age” approach that has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever worked. When can our policy be pursued for effectiveness and not ideology?

Law School, too

The last week at school has been one where students are more and more willing to put themselves out on a limb because of their particular pet cause or beliefs. In Torts yesterday I had a woman become very angry with me because I downplayed the likeliness of her claim that women are often forced to become heroin addicts in the US for the purposes of the sex trade (as I told her, I don’t dispute that this may happen, but I certainly don’t think that there is a massive epidemic of this phenomenon in the United States; to back me up the professor indicated that he had never heard of such a case, and he’s old enough to have a broad sweep of experience). Then, two people all but declared their fealty to Scalia today. I am not going to join a camp of interpretation at this point. It seems counterproductive to pick an ideological filter at such an early point in the curriculum – I imagine that these textualists cannot help but discount to some degree all opposing theories of interpretation, and it seems that not maintaining an open mind decreases the breadth of learning.

JC Watts, Oklahoma’s highest ranking Representative, threw a tantrum about violating security rules at the Oklahoma City airport. He put the ticket between the officer’s chin and badge and told him to “take care of it.” Arrogant people who consider themselves above the law are among my biggest pet peeves.

More law and sports conjunction: the man who caught Barry Bond’s homerun was robbed; a group of people pulled the ball from his glove and another person came down with it. Armed with videotaped proof of his claim, the man has now retained a lawyer. I bet he has a good case; did I mention the ball is probably worth seven figures?

Sean Meade, a good blogger friend, has downgraded Hobbsblog II's position on his sidebar. He's been blogging almost as long as I have, and he was my first link, and for all this time I've been his #1 link. No longer. I hang my head in shame.


A brief recognition of time

It is my firm contention that the difference between an adult and a child is an appreciation for time. In the last few years I have grown an appreciation for the stretching effect of time, and how the brief years of human lives can overlap with others to create a continuous thread of history that reaches back to the limit of our collective understanding. I celebrate history and remember it partially as a tool for understanding the present, but mostly because of the curiosity that I have in the ways the world has changed and in some ways, to gain comfort from the ways the world hasn’t.

This last weekend Maggie and I went camping at Scenic State Park in north central Minnesota. It was our last camping trip of the year; a year when we went camping more times than the previous three put together. We’ve been to sites in Western Minnesota, Northeastern Minnesota, Northwest Ontario, and also in Oklahoma. This weekend was something special, however. In Oregon, Douglas firs can tower over you in a way that dwarf humans and make you feel very insignificant. I never really thought that Minnesota trees were like that, but I was wrong. Scenic State Park happens to be one of the very few places in Minnesota, and for that matter in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, that contains old growth, uncut red and white pine forest. The trees at Scenic are immense; one doesn’t get the full impact of the size of these behemoths until you are staring at trunks that can be twelve feet in circumference; pines that easily top one hundred feet, and birches that are so old that they’ve dropped their classic white bark.

The trees give me hope.

The illusion that nature doesn’t change is a comforting one. No matter how bad we mess up our human societies, the natural ones that still exist are reminders that nature continues to follow its own laws, and at some level we live at will on this biosphere. Perhaps that’s why seeing trees like the ones I saw this weekend don’t just make me happy to know that such old forests exist; they also make me profoundly angry that the previous generations here had so little regard for their children and grandchildren that they didn’t leave more. The old forests of the Eastern United States are destroyed; logged in a paroxysm of destruction that obliterated 99% of the old stands. For instance, of the over 3 million acres that was the Red Pine forests in the United States, some 8,000 acres of old growth are all that is left. Of that 8,000 acres, some 5,000 lie in Minnesota, and the vast majority are in the remote wilderness of the Boundary Waters. Most of the rest is like Scenic, a lakeshore of forgotten timber, or the Lost Forty, a stand of old growth left behind because of a mapping error. Why was this necessary? In the rush to log, why take every single last tree?

More senseless is the fact that humans are still anxious to cut more of these treasures. At this point, you can virtually count the remaining old growth trees, yet judges and politicians seem more than willing to grant the right for another few days of work for loggers to destroy more of our heritage. Why do we let this happen?

Consistent readers of this site know that I value logic and rational thought above all. Appeals to ideology do not impress me. I am skeptical of the far left and the far right alike. Yet—there is a moral rightness to the protestors who are willing to risk arrest to protect trees. Spending time in relatively unspoiled nature gives you an appreciation for what we have lost, and the time that it takes to recover. Given foresight and time, we can give our grandchildren what our grandfathers took from us – a chance to see forests on their own terms. The vast northwoods in Minnesota were cut down in a seventy year orgy of destruction and cavalier attitude of disregard for nature and greed. However, red and white pine is considered to be old growth again at one hundred and twenty years of age. True, we will not see five hundred year old pines magically restored from the forests; but imagine a child in 2050 looking at the forests at Bear Head Lake, that were logged at the start of the 20th century or destroyed in the forest fire of 1913. They will likely not notice the charred stumps that I could see there; they will only see nearly 150 year old pines that will be nearly indistinguishable from the old growth that I saw last weekend.

I’m studying… don’t bug me

(Don’t click this if you’re feeling morbid.)

Neat! NASA spacecraft survives comet! I’m also waiting with bated breath the pictures of Saturn from Cassini; now that it hasn’t killed us the science ought to be great.

Super-blog Follow Me Here, a weblog that I have been reading for a year and a half, notices that I’ve had a sidebar link there since Hobbsblog began. Shockingly, the “That is stupendous in its evil” title that I added as a joke last time I updated has now been immortalized in the list of linkbacks there. That’s funny. I think I will change it to reflect some line from each new entry I do.