October 2004 Archives

MSU-22, UK-0, Referees-7

Mississippi State pulled off another one today. Sylvester Croom has really stirred this team up and they are playing some football! The offense was off a little today but the defense dead-on. We took an early lead and kept it throughout the game. There are still those dumb mistakes, read penalties, which will go away with more experience and confidence.

The officials were fairly good today and I was about to give them a good grade until they missed a big call. UK did not score the touchdown, the ball carrier was down on a knee that was apparent to everyone in the stadium, was apparent on the Jumbotron, and was apparent on the news replays. It seems the only people who didn't see were the officials. While it did not have an impact on the game, it was still a bad call.

As I've mentioned in other posts, I can accept some mistakes but these are simply too gross to let go. Given that there seem to be problems with officials at most every game, even those I see on TV, it makes me think that there are systemic problems in how the officials are trained. I know they all want to do a good job and, with few exceptions, they are not biased, so there must be a deeper problem.

Will anything be done? Of course not! Remember that referees are the only ones not allowed to be criticized about there job performance. Do we need video review during the game? I used to think not but given how clear this missed call was, I think it is time to let the refs use some tape reviews to correct some bad calls.

MSU 38, Florida 31

What a game! I went to the game today fully expecting a loss--a significant loss. The Bulldogs have been trying but I just didn't think they were up for the job. Then we scored first. I was happy and commented that Florida may well win but at least we scored, and scored first. Then we went into the half with the lead and I knew Florida was going to get some serious butt chewing from their coach and I fully expected a brand new Florida for the second half. It never happened.

Somewhere in the third quarter I commented to my wife that I thought we just might win this game. She didn't believe me and, had others been there that I usually talk to, they wouldn't have believed me either. Well it was close, there were times I thought I saw overtime in the future, but we pulled it off. And what a sweet win it was. Croom deserved a major win and the team was playing the best I've seen in over a year. They wanted to win and it showed.

Why? Why were the Bulldogs able to pull this one off? I think part of it that Croom is finally starting to sink into the team. He keeps talking attitude and discipline and it seems like it is sinking in to the player’s heads. If you believe you can win you may not win, but if don't believe you can win then you certainly won't. Croom seems to be getting through.

The other reason was that the officials were not as bad as in the past. Now I know it is not proper to criticize, for some reason that is taboo, but when they are bad they are bad. The last game we played against the University of Alabama Birmingham, they were awful. Today they missed some calls but they were much fairer. While there is truth in the statement that officials do not win or lose games, there is also truth that they have an impact. In past games, some bone-headed calls have broken the MSU momentum and definitely affected the outcome of the game. Today that didn't happen. The calls that were made needed to be made and they did result in a little loss of momentum but the team got it back. If the officials are not seeing things no one else can see, and when they are not blatantly biased, then the Bulldogs have a shot.

I hate the crowd was not larger. The students seemed to come out sometime during the first half and I think there were some nearby tailgaters who came in once we scored. I’ve been a Bulldog fan long enough to know that you never know. We have been an excellent team in the past and lost to absolute nobodies. We’ve been pretty bad in the past and we’ve beaten some really good teams. You just never know. That is why all bets are always off for the Egg Bowl; you never know what will happen when Mississippi State plays the University of Mississippi. Of course I will not see that game in person having sworn off ever attending an athletic event on the University of Mississippi campus after encountering some of the rudest, drunkest, most obnoxious fans of life a few years ago. And that was when they won!

Now, just a few more games to go before the end of the season is upon us. And of course the NCAA sanctions that are due soon.

More Drive Time

Well this morning there was more Drive Time on the radio. I can't remember who the locals had in the studio with them this morning but it was a bit embarrassing. The guest was talking about her long-time favorite program Lake Wobegon. After a little discussion, this long -time fan learned that the name of the show was A Prarie Home Companion. Proof positive that it is educational radio.

I awoke this morning to the sounds of the clock radio set Public Radio in Mississippi. It has become a habit of keeping it on the same station so that I wake up every morning to the sounds of National Public Radio's Morning Sedition, I mean Morning Edition. It usually gets my blood boiling before I ever make it to the shower.

This morning the sound was different. Instead of the usual people at NPR talking, most of the talking was being done by the locals in Jackson. You see, it is Drive Time yet again. It was not too long ago that fundraising was done only once a year but now it seems to be a nearly continuous process. I used to give money, back in the good ole days, but I don't anymore. As part of past budget cuts, they eliminated most of what I really liked to hear, namely the new age "space music" they used to play on Sunday nights. My wife and I used to fall to sleep listening to that most every Sunday night.

Now, they mainly have news and classical music. I like classical music as much as the next guy, okay, maybe more than the next guy given how little the next guy likes classical music, but have more choices available to me now. The news is incredibly biased (to the left that is) but I can usually cut through the bias and see the real story, particularly when I compare it with news from other sources.

But as I listened to the pleas for money, I thought yet again about why do we even have public radio, or public television for that matter, anymore? Not too many years ago, I would not have made this argument, but now, with the myriad of options available, why do we need a public subsidized radio and television network?

If I want to listen to the radio, I have Sirius. One of the individuals they played this morning talked about public radio was all she could get in her part of the country. Well with Sirius she would have her choice of some 120 channels to choose from, all in digital quality with the same signal strength. And the cost, about what the public radio guys would like you to give them. Now let me see, send my money to Jackson for one station, with only one source of news, available only in this state, and they don't even play all the music I like? Or, send the money to Sirius, get my choice of over 100 stations, more news and talk than I can listen to, available wherever I travel, with digital quality? Sirius will win every time. Perhaps we should have the government cancel public radio support and subsidize Sirius.

Public television has gone much the same route. They used to lay claim to educational programming but there is more educational programming on cable and satellite now than you can imagine. I used to enjoy some of the shows produced by public television but in the last five years or longer, they have been outdone by the likes of Arts & Entertainment, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The National Geographic Channel, The Learning Channel, etc.

Do you get my point? There was a time when public radio and public television offered real alternatives and filled niches that were not being filled elsewhere. Now, the private sector has taken hold and produces programming that is greater in volume and in quality than that done by public broadcasting. Does the government still have a niche to fill or should it now step aside and let the free market take over? The argument used a decade ago that educational programming would go away without public broadcasting has obviously been proven false. It is thriving in the free market.

There are some days that seem to never go right and then there are days that start with a bang. I received email from a student I've met several times in the science fair. As a Navy judge at the regional, state, and international fairs, I try to engage the students, talk to them, and keep them interested in science and engineering. If it takes judging a science fair project to do that, then I'll judge the science fair project.

Over the years I've met some really great students--students who show me that there is a future and it is bright. They are the students you never hear about because they are not arrested, never get in trouble, and generally do run for student body president. Some may play sports but by and large, they are not the star athletes. These students are the ones who study and work hard. They go home and work on projects. They spend extra in the science lab or programming the computer. And they also happen to be nice people who are fun to talk to.

There has been off an on talk in the Navy about whether or not they should continue to support the Science and Engineering fairs. They do cost a lot of money and take up a lot of time. But I've always thought they were worth the effort. A few years ago an improvising employee in the Office of Naval Research realized that the Navy Reserve could help. She happened to be a Reservist herself so she understood the talent available and that they happened to live throughout the US and not just in the fleet concentration areas. What better place to look judges! Since that time, judges have been free. There is some cost involved with travel for the International Science and Engineering Fair, but no pay for the judges.

So, what brought this on? Well I received this email (names and places changed to protect the innocent)

I was looking at the MSU website today and came across your name. What a shock! I am not sure if you will remember me or not but I thought I would write either way. My name is *****. I was a Science & Engineering Fair participant from ****** High School. I competed on the junior high and high school level from 1998-2003. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend ISEF in May 2002 as an observer and compete in 2003. Every year I remember bumping into you. I think this may be the perfect time to let you know what impact you had on me. Each year I looked so forward to explaining my project to you, just to see your reaction. Thank you for always encouraging me. I truly feel that it is because of you, the Science & Engineering Fairs, and ISEF that I decided to major in chemistry. I am currently a sophomore at ******. Soon I will be transferring to a university to complete my degree and then continue on to medical school or graduate school. This past summer I worked at *****in the ****** Building in a program called REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). I tell you this just to prove to you that science is my true love. I want to thank you for always being a positive influence for me. You made my Science & Engineering Fair experiences memorable. I wanted you to know that you had something to do with my love for science and to thank you!

Now that makes it all worth the effort. I've often wondered if I, or any of the judges, were having an impact so to hear that I did on at least one student was great.

It turns out I did remember the student (honestly, over the years you meet so many it is hard to keep them straight) and she was a great student. I have no doubt that she will go on to do great things and I am proud that I and the US Navy had some small role in it.


Referees Hose it Up Again

Okay, if you were at the MSU University of Alabama Birmingham game today you know that the officals did not cause the game to be lost, but they certainly did have a negative impact on game. Officiating at this game was yet another example of how bad the officials have become over the years.

Most every call was made against MSU and many of them were deserved. The problem was that there were far too many missed calls against UAB. Sure, every ref is going to miss a call every now and then, but to miss that many seems to imply either incompetence or bias. Either way, it is bad for the sport.

Calls made against MSU certainly slowed the building momentum of the team. Just when they made a good play, the guys in stripes would throw a flag. UAB made many plays based on missed calls. When the fans became rowdy and the refs had to make some calls against UAB, it stopped their drive in their tracks. It was amazing how bad they looked when they couldn't get away with holding or other rule violoations.

I wish the refs could be accountable in public. I know they are graded and their calls are reviewed, but why not do it in public? The players and the coaches are judged by the public for every move they make, why not the officials? And what's the deal with the coaches not being allowed to talk about the bad calls? Come on, let 'em talk. If a coach gets too out of line the public will bring him back to reality. And if the refs are subject to the court of public opinion, perhaps they will be a bit more cautious in throwing the flag.

Hunter Henry Recognizes Students

Tonight was the dinner recognizing the Hunter Henry Scholars at Mississippi State. The vast majority of the students are engineering majors and all of the students are outstanding. It was nice to visit with the students outside of the academic setting for a while. Seeing other University people was also nice. We have all become so busy lately that we do not get to talk as much as we used to.

Hunter Henry always makes the night fun and memorable. He introduces the students and generally gives them a little static in some way or another. For the new students it may be a little unsettling but the old timers enjoy it. Hunter takes an interest in these students and they certainly enjoy having him as a friend.

The students also recognized Bob Taylor tonight for his years of service to the College. They gave him a digital camera that is better than mine which means I've got to upgrade now! Hunter is a gadget junkie just like me so he always has the latest stuff. Bob got a Nikon Coolpix 8700 while mine is only a 5700.

The PC(USA) in general and Vernon Broyles in particular, still don't get it. In his latest left-wing rant in the October 2004 issue of Presbyterians Today, Broyles once again tackles the topic of . The main point of the article, from my reading Divestment and Israel, was that the media got it all wrong when they reported that the PC(USA)was going to immediately divestment all of its holdings in Israel. As I've mentioned earlier, even if that were the case, I doubt seriously Israel would feel a thing giving the drastically declining membership of the PC(USA).

Broyles, in an apparent attempt to make us feel better, says that in actuality the PC(USA) only voted for a selective divestment in Israel. Now they are calling it a "Selective, Phased Divestment Process". It seems to me, and this Op-Ed piece by Broyles, seems to be an attempt by the PC(USA) to backtrack on their decision. They still don't get it.

Whether it is a selective or full divestment, some of us just don't care; any divestment in protest is too much. The PC(USA) is not so much interested in solving the problems as they are in making themselves feel better. Boycotts simply do not work. Sure, we can point to South Africa and Apartheid, but was it the boycott or world opinion that resulted in changes there. How long did we have embargoes on Iraq? And what was their impact? What about Libya? Are we to believe that about the time the US and a few dozen of its closest friends kicks some Iraqi butt Libya realizes that it has suffered enough economic damage and caves in? Or does it make more sense to believe that Libya caved because they realized they just might be next? Bleeding heart Broyles would likely say they were afraid of a boycott by the PC(USA) or the World Council of Churches.

No, Broyles, like many of the PC(USA) elite, just don't get it. The security wall has resulted in fewer terrorist attacks in Israel. Fewer radicals waling into shopping and blowing themselves up appears to me to be a good thing. But when you take the anti-Semitic view as Broyles does what else can you expect?

I seem to recall not too many years ago, a summit with President Clinton and Palestine and Israel. Depending on whom you listen to and believe, Arafat stood to gain 90 to 95% of what he wanted. Not everything, but a large portion of it. He refused. So what does Vern say, why he calls Israel intransigent. But he's not biased.

Broyles also claims in his article that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the wall was illegal. He is taking after his hero Dan Rather on this one. The august International Court of Justice has ruled the wall was illegal (who would expect otherwise) but the Israeli Supreme court merely ruled that a portion of the wall was infringing on some land and needed to be re-routed. They in fact found the wall was legal. And Israel complied with the ruling and re-routed the wall in the area addressed by the court.

I must compliment Broyles on his consistency however; he is consistently liberal and consistently wrong.

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