Saturday, January 07, 2006

USC vs. Texas Revisited

The reason I say revisited is because by now, everyone knows and has discussed the fact USC lost to Vince You-err-the University of Texas 38-41. I thought about writing this that night, but I was upset and thought it unwise. But I was upset for two reasons that most Trojan fans probably were not. I am not, for full disclosure, a Trojan fan even though I was pulling for their victory. And it is not that I am somehow anti-Texas. My father was a Texan (or still is?) and he has told me stories about the importance of football in that state. I am one to appreciate tradition and have a personal passion for football, so I have nothing but respect for such storied programs.

My frustration has less to do with the outcome (even though I predicted to many a 24 point win by USC) as with the system that surrounds college football. First, I have an utter disdain for the replay system. Secondly, the entrenched East Coast Bias that dominates all sports.

The replay system is the antithesis of all sports. However, it is even more detrimental to scholastic competition. The concept of being a student athlete is twofold:

  1. Character building
  2. Possibility of opening up future doors; be it for college or professional

I want to focus solely on the first concept. Part of becoming a man (or woman) is learning about life. One of the most difficult, but most rewarding lessons concerning life is how unfair it can be. It can deal out the greatest events one can experience (such as the recent birth of my nephew!), but can also be cruel and punishing. There will be a time in everyone's life when they are right, but told they are wrong by those in authority. This will happen when interacting with their parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and more specifically, referees. How is instituting replay going to teach young men this harsh reality? The only way I see that happening is when the "gods" in the press box decide not to review a touchdown that will hurt the West Coast team.

Sports should also be about human achievement and error. The game, whatever that may be, will never be perfect and nor should it. It is a game played by imperfect vehicles, attempting to maximize their abilities and prove their dominance over their opponent. There is simply nothing more glorious than this human passion. Yet, we want to take error completely out of the game. Adversity? Nonexistent. Unfair calls? Make it a thing of the past. Life lesson? Becoming a better person cannot compete with winning.

The other thing I cannot get past is the East Coast Bias that is obvious in most walks of American life, but really shows during sporting events. Los Angeles dealt with a Northern California bias throughout most of California history, so Southern Californians know what it feels like to be neglected politically and socially. But my more conspiratorial side wonders if Texas was given that touchdown where Vince Young's knee clearly was down before he pitched the football because the officials simply wanted to see USC lose. Although that is probably a bit of a stretch, I really do believe the West Coast will always be neglected from serious talk in college football, as well as all sports. My hope was to see a third straight national championship title break this bias up.

Outside of my petty frustrations, it was one of the best contests I have ever seen. Both teams really proved they were the two best in the nation and both teams could easily have won the game. Vince Young proved he was the MVP of Division IA college football, and possibly even the man who should have won the Heisman. I believe football is one of the great products of American culture. It builds character and helps young men become physically and mentally tough individuals. It is a product that is worth defending and worth agonizing over. So, cheers to the Longhorns. They deserve the great national spotlight.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Easier Than Truth

I live in California, so I was startled to awake this morning hearing that 12 of the 13 miners were found dead last night. I went to sleep thinking the exact opposite, that miraculously, only one miner had been found dead. I have found the best blog for this story has been Tim Blair, but in particular, this link to Greg Mitchell.

First, my heart goes out to every single family member. I cannot even fathom what they are currently going through. Their collective hearts and souls have been ripped from them. I can only offer my individual thoughts and prayers. If the media wants to do anything to save face, it should stay away from the family members and do no more damage by exploiting this tragedy further.

But that is where I would like to focus this entry. Not on the tragedy per se, but on the media and its coverage. An untruth was spread by the media without any concrete source. Tim Blair's site is by far the best to focus on the media's gross incompetence, but why is the media so completely wrong when it has such a vast amount of human and technological resources?

I would argue for the same reason television, computers, and cell phones have made humans less active and less communicative. The reliance on modern technologies erases our fears of uncertainty. How many of us rush through a green light almost believing with complete faith the opposite red light will protect us from all other traffic? I am guilty of this, just like most of us. We are shocked to the core when we find out an e-mail did not go through, just as we are when we find out our media giants got a story as heart wrenching as this wrong.

But is this not the very problem? We are today more shocked at technological imperfections than human failures. People do in fact say things that are not true. Men and women hear things that are wrong inaccurate. Someone who's unofficial is incorrectly given authority over sensitive information. All of this should be seen as a possibility, but since sending reports or directly reporting live on television is easier than cooking a Pop-Tart, incidents such as these are becoming normal.

(I personally believe journalists should instinctively be skeptical of any and all information [especially of those concerning life and death] that comes their way. Because the modern journalist seems himself as part of the story, rather than observing the story, we have our media participating in inaccuracies instead of correcting them.)

I have always viewed technology as something that will save man from his greatest failures, such as killing and polluting. But we should start to view technology as regressing man's greatest feats, such as mastering all of the world. Man sought to conquer all of the world, and did so because of a drive toward excellence. It was man's greatest qualities that has made all of this world, with its joys and pleasures, possible. Now that we can do almost anything, we need to rediscover the things that brought us to this current destination. Laziness was not one of them.

O Lord, after I have worked my last day
and come out of the earth and have placed my feet on Thy footstool,
let me use the tools of Prudence, Faith, Hope and Charity.
From now on till I will be called to sign my last payroll,
make all the cables in the machinery strong with Thy Love.
Supply all the gangways, slopes and chambers
with The Pure Air Of Thy Grace and
let The Light Of Hope be my guidance and
when my last picking and shoveling is done,
may my last car be Full Of Thy Grace and
give me The Holy Bible for my last shift,
so that Thou, The General Superintendent of all colieries can say:

Monday, January 02, 2006

Best of 2005 - Our Gentle Sons...

I've developed several keywords when discussing certain types of bureaucrats. For example, I believe we have too many Wilsons at the CIA and far too many Gentle Sons® at the State Department. The following post from April 25 is an introduction to our unfortunate Gentle Sons®:

Encouraging Our Enemies - April 25, 2005

Like the study of most current events, this topic is still relevant today as John Bolton serves at the United Nations and Iran's nuclear enrichment program proceeds while the European negotiators dither.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year - 2006 Edition

Today is the start of the New Year for the world and here at Vagabondia. Personally, I don't make New Year's resolutions because they usually end up being a lot like United Nations resolutions; they're so much wishing and hoping without the discipline and determination to actually see the changes we want.

One thing I would like to change in 2006 is the Vagabondia blog. Mike and Grimacer have been wonderful additions, but my own involvement has been lacking. I'm trying to come up with a plan and a schedule that will permit me to post more regularly.

For this week, I'll be posting the top five posts of 2005. What's that you say? Is it a little late for a "Best Of 2005" list? Absolutely not! As usual, your Indigent Blogger is doing it right where so many corporate media organizations got it wrong. Yes, many mainstream media outlets completed their best stories of 2005 days before 2005 was actually over, but what if there had been an earth-shattering story yesterday or the day before? Not me! I waited until the very end to insure a last minute surge of brilliant posts by the Vagabond bloggers was not left out of our "Best Of" list.

Say tuned for the first of the Best Posts of 2005 (in no particular order).