April 16, 2010

Remembering 32 - Three Years

April 16, 2008

Remembering 32

January 09, 2008

Sports is my outlet for fanaticism.

I lose myself in sports. I'm invested in the Phillies, Redskins, and Hokies far more than is probably sane. I like that I can follow along, enjoy the highs and lows, and pretend that my involvement turns them into we. But I know that none of it matters. There are no consequences. I can still rant about a blown call in the 2000 National Championship game because I know I'm correct and know that it still amounts to nothing without devaluing my enjoyment of the process.

That's why I'm hoping for a mild, maybe even complete comeback by Hillary Clinton. I think she'll be a terrible president. She has all the wrong impulses and inclinations. But her lightning rod personality has a chance to create gridlock better than Barack Obama.

Too much of the fawning over Sen. Obama right now borders on fanaticism. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but politics has consequences that matter. Lives are affected, with too many altered for the worse. A mindless search for a Dear Leader will not improve America, even if it's wrapped in rhetoric of change. Details matter. On those Sen. Obama differs little from Sen. Clinton. Neither is offering much that is sensible.

When General Manager Pat Gillick explains that changes to the Phillies will increase their our chances of winning a championship, I accept that he's biased. I also look at the evidence and determine if his claim is logical. In those times when I don't like the evidence, I find ways to spin it. I know I'm being irrational, embracing a dream over logic. I want to believe. That's okay. Again, there are no real consequences.

When Sen. Obama explains that changes to our government's policies will increase America's chances of achieving fairness/growth/whatever, I accept that he's biased. I also look at the evidence and determine if his claim is logical. I won't assume that everyone will conclude like me that the evidence demonstrates his claims are illogical. But how many have actually looked at the details? How many can state even one policy he stands for other than "change"? There are real consequences.

I will not cheer Sen. Clinton's popular vote victory in New Hampshire. I will cheer if it means more people will begin to ask questions to look beyond the empty noise the front-runners offer.

December 02, 2007

The only drawback is now we'll have to play them.

Stay classy, Morgantown. Stay classy:

"Everyone [in the media] was counting Pitt out," West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt said. "That stuff gets to a team."

Pitt already had all the motivation it needed, then got a little more on the way into the stadium. Coach Dave Wannstedt, freshly rewarded with a three-year contract extension, said the Panthers' team bus was hit with a rock on the way to the stadium. LeSean McCoy, Wannstedt said, stood up and said, "Hey, it's just like the movies."

Now that number 1 and number 2 in the BCS lost, with numbers 3, 4, and 5 idle, I am praying that the vote shakes out with Virginia Tech sitting behind only Ohio State. That would put us in the BCS National Championship game.

It won't happen, of course. Voters are going to reward LSU. (Yes, they beat us in week 2. We were a different team then.) We may or may not jump Georgia and Kansas, despite winning our conference. Neither Georgia nor Kansas accomplished that. And we lost to the team ranked second in the nation in each of our losses. The second loss was on a spectacular fluke play made by a Heisman trophy candidate with 11 seconds left in the game. There's a case to be made!

I'll be dreaming until the depressing news hits at about 8:03 tonight.

November 17, 2007

Hokies Thank the World

My sentiments exactly.

August 02, 2007

Michael Vick and Justice

As everyone knows by now, a grand jury indicted Michael Vick on various charges stemming from an alleged dogfighting operation. This story is old news, although it will be hanging around for awhile. I've avoided it for several reasons, but not the obvious ones.

I make it abundantly clear that I'm a Hokie. I can't imagine loving any other school the way I love Virginia Tech, or being so invested in the larger sense of community. Of course, in the last eight years, Michael Vick has been a huge part of that. His arrival on the football field in 1999 propelled us to our first national championship game. We lost that game, but our place in the national discussion of college football jumped infinitely as a result. The money poured in, the recruits got better, and the winning feels like tradition now. Where athletic success was a pleasant surprise when I arrived at Tech in 1991, there are now expectations. Thank you, Michael Vick.

That does not mean I'm willing to support and defend Michael Vick without reservation. Anyone who could commit the acts he is charged with is vile scum. If Vick is indeed guilty of the allegations against him, I hope he rots in a fiery pit filled with the rotting carcasses of every dog he and/or his friends executed. That would be too good, but it's a start.

However, he is innocent until proven guilty. I'm not naive in understanding the allegations. I suspect he is guilty. But I believe in our justice system more. I will withhold judgment until such faith is no longer warranted. I refuse to embrace hysteria.

May 12, 2007

One Last Remembrance

Virginia Tech is holding its commencement ceremonies this weekend for the Class of 2007. Each deceased student is being awarded a posthumous degree, which is an appropriate honor from the university. I don't want to linger on the tragedy any longer; even though we will never forget, life must continue. I do want to take one last opportunity to remember.

April 30, 2007

Catching Up: Virginia Tech Edition

I don't have any desire to delve into the political issues arising from the shootings at Virginia Tech beyond the issues I already discuss here. With that in mind, two issues are driving me nuts from the fallout.

Because the murderer at Virginia Tech wrote violent stories, violent stories must now become criminal, regardless of the First Amendment:

Told to express emotion for a creative-writing class, high school senior Allen Lee penned an essay so disturbing to his teacher, school administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct, officials said Wednesday.

Lee, 18, a straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with the misdemeanor for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.

Such a story might signal a problem that will lead to mass murder. Ban it. Are people really this stupid and oblivious to the evidence that violence in literature and movies and television and theater overwhelmingly does not lead to acting out that violence? The answer appears to be yes, which is a reflection of our desire to ban anything and everything that might be bad, no matter how small the risk actually is. We're only two weeks beyond the tragedy, yet we've already learned the wrong lessons. Brilliant.

I know what happened at Virginia Tech will always follow the school, no matter how much good happened before or happens in the future. It's human nature to remember the awful more than the good. I realize that my years of happiness with Virginia Tech and being a Hokie are personal, not national. I accept that and won't try to fight human nature. But I'm not ready to idle away as pontificators misuse language for their agenda.

For example, last week, the editors of the Wall Street Journal analyzed "Blacksburg's Silver Lining":

In the wake of an event such as Virginia Tech, our system moves heaven and earth to figure out what went wrong and how to make sure it doesn't happen again. This of course is what we did after September 11 and after the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Here's what's really unnerving about this inevitable "process": In June 2000, the Bremer Report of the National Commission on Terrorism described virtually everything we needed to know about preparing for the kind of attack that occurred in September 2001. Similarly--and you can guess what you're about to read--in 2002 the Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative, conducted by the Secret Service and the Department of Education, told us virtually everything we need to know to prevent a Virginia Tech.

...for the purposes of stopping another Virginia Tech...

After Blacksburg,...

Virginia Tech is a school, not an event. Blacksburg is a town, not an event. The murders at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, were the event. If you can't get this right, I won't listen to anything else you have to say. (Not that the editors provided anything worth adopting, choosing instead for the expected dismissal of rights in favor of the appearance of safety.)

Kip mocks such language and the results of such abuse here, then here and here.

April 19, 2007

Free speech doesn't mean it should be said.

In a recent poll Kip asked for input on the worst nonsensical claim to come out of the murders at Virginia Tech. Of the three choices, I voted for the third option, John Derbyshire and Nathanael Blake blaming the victims. Read them both, but I'm going to focus on Mr. Blake's comments. He had the opportunity to review Mr. Derbyshire's comments before broadcasting his opinion to the world. Rather than passing, or at least calling out the grotesque implication that the victims didn't respond correctly to their nightmarish situation, Mr. Blake carried it further.

College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut. Meanwhile, an old man hurled his body at the shooter to save others.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that.

If these sentences offered mere speculation, Mr. Blake might earn a pass (barely) because he wrote this on Tuesday, when many details were still unknown, as many are still unknown today. But it's not mere speculation. It's a naked assumption that the men did nothing to stop their fates. Bullshit. Even if it happened to be true, and we've learned now that it isn't, it makes no difference. These men and women didn't deserve to die, whether they died with or without a fight. That's what counts. It has nothing to do with manliness, for the ability to kick someone's ass doesn't make a man. The only male in Mr. Blake's narrative who isn't a man is Mr. Blake himself.

For a more thorough analysis, John Cole states the case against Mr. Derbyshire.

Surely there's an intern who can use Google.

There have been many annoyances from the national and local media this week. I don't intend to focus on any of them beyond this:

About our name

Our official name is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, but using the full name is cumbersome. Thus, using “Virginia Tech” is preferable in all but formal uses.

Virginia Tech is used in news releases, feature articles, and publications and on the Web. When using the full name of the university, never use an ampersand instead of “and.” Never use VPI&SU, VPI and SU, VA Tech, or Virginia Tech University.

“Tech” is acceptable after a first reference to “Virginia Tech,” but it should not be used repeatedly or solely.

“VT” and “Va. Tech” are acceptable only in limited, informal situations, such as a news headline where space is tight. Do not use “VT” or “Va. Tech” in body copy, in titles of publications, on signs, or in any formal publication.

To every media outlet determined to continue discussing "Virginia Tech University," please stop. That school does not exist. Those who know this, and there are many of us all over the country and world, your desire to sensationalize at the expense of even the most minimal amount of research shines through. Is that what you want?

April 18, 2007

Here's something to lighten the mood.

I've been mostly unable to think of anything other than Virginia Tech this week. Regular blogging will return tomorrow or Friday. For now, I'll content myself with going to the Phillies-Nationals game tonight instead of watching the media vultures continue to make irresponsible assumptions and conclusions.

Until I can offer more, enjoy this video of The Smoosh. Danielle and I adopted The Smoosh last summer from a rescue organization. The Smoosh was neglected and used mostly for breeding by an unscrupulous individual who found it more interesting to perpetuate a genetic mutation¹ than to respect animals. Anyway, her playful side breaks through her angry disposition sometimes. I captured this over the weekend. Enjoy.

¹ The Smoosh is a Himalayan Munchkin,so her legs are exceptionally short. Her primary difficulty is in properly cleaning herself because she can't reach parts of her body.

Pep rallies can heal.

I don't know how many of you watched the Convocation at Virginia Tech yesterday. It was mostly good, with poignant words from Virginia Tech President Steger, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and President Bush. There were some weak spots, and an excess of specifically religious sentiments (I know it's a convocation...), but overall it was wonderful. As Gov. Kaine said, the current students and faculty of Virginia Tech have shown the world that we will not bow to a victim mentality. We are hurt, but we will heal. And the character and class shown by the students braving the media vultures made me proud to be a Hokie. I don't know that I could answer the same inane, insensitive questions over and over again with such grace and dignity.

The convocation really got to me during Nikki Giovanni's speech and the moments after. As she started, her immediate passion startled me. It was what we needed, but not what I expected. In the middle I thought she was going to go off the rails with her words, but she danced the fine line that makes emotion and creativity dance together. She was perfect for the moment. We ARE Virginia Tech, indeed.

The most cathartic part of the program was the spontaneous (?) eruption of "Let's Go Hokies!". I'm sure it struck many viewers as a tad bizarre, but the Hokies knew. I got goosebumps, followed by a few tears. I'm sure many other universities have the same sense of loyalty and camaraderie, but this was ours. That audience wasn't telling the world anything. They told each other, and the rest of the Hokies, that we're going to be alright. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually, we will be alright.

April 17, 2007

On Being a Hokie

I'm nothing in this story. I wasn't there yesterday. It's been nine years since I last graduated from Virginia Tech. From my occasional visits to campus since, it's clear how the school has changed since I left. Virginia Tech was a different place on even April 15th than it was when I was a student.

Still, Virginia Tech is a family. There is a passion that develops from being a Hokie. It's the sense of community that one hopes will develop when going off to college, only it's better because it becomes real in so many unexpected ways. Whether it's lifelong friendships or a knowing glance at encountering a stranger in a foreign country wearing a VT, a connection builds that never goes away. The feeling grows from happiness that you attended a great school to impatience for the day when your children can attend Virginia Tech.

Now I'm worried. I'm not worried that this sense of community will disappear. The bonds are too strong. But it will change. I worry that today's students will only be able to remember the Virginia Tech of April 16, 2007. There will be a sadness, I imagine, although I know that what I think is only a guess. There is now a large group of Hokies that will be different in some way. Each student will internalize these events in his or her own way, but I don't doubt that something will be there. Whether it's a sadness at friends lost or anger at tragedy not averted, time will be the only salve. Even that will not be completely effective, of course. Time heals wounds, but only by covering them with scars.

So I worry. I wish I could help them. Instead, they will teach, an unfair burden on the innocent.

How will this change us? I wish I knew. I wish we didn't have to find out. We do, and we will. Somehow. Being a Hokie means being part of a family larger than any you ever imagined possible. Through this indescribable cruelty, Hokies will continue.

April 16, 2007

Some people have no shame.

We don't even know how many people are dead at Virginia Tech, and the slime comes crawling out.

There will probably be blame to assign. There will probably need to be new strategies¹. We know this, but we can discuss this later. Those seeking a pulpit to push his or her own little agenda out of a tragedy like this are using the deaths of innocent people to score cheap, political points. They should stop it. It's disgusting. Let these families and the Virginia Tech community mourn.

¹ Let's not make assumptions what these should be, either. Same trap.

I don't know what else to say.


March 02, 2007

Non-libertarian School Spirit

I would never endorse defiling private property. (Link courtesy of Fark.)

The athletic logo of Virginia Tech was discovered on the hardwood court at John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday.

The "VT" logo appears to have been carved on the corner of the basketball court. University officials say the marking will be removed. The "VT" carving was done with some precision as the lines were very straight.

John Paul Jones Arena is where the University of Virginia plays its home basketball games. Again, I would never condone such an action. But I am laughing from the bottom of my toes.

October 01, 2006

Sports Weekend Update

As great as last weekend was for sports, this weekend is (so far) almost its polar opposite.

Phillies: A good, if scary, win yesterday, but it didn't matter. With the Dodgers and Padres both winning, the Phillies barely missed the playoffs, breaking my heart in the process. Again. Don't fret, though. Like every spring before, I'll be back next year, as gullible and full of optimism as ever when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.

Virginia Tech: Having attended last week's dogfight against Cincinnati, I knew we weren't the 11th best team in college football. Running into a quality conference opponent scared me. And we lost. It was one of the more frustrating losses we've had in recent memory, for we were terrible in every aspect. But I can't lie and say I was surprised. Until we start blocking for Sean Glennon, the other faults we discovered won't matter. A one game deficit in the division standings is hardly insurmountable, so hope remains.

Redskins: The Redskins face Jacksonville this afternoon. Jacksonville is good. Their defense against our offense will likely result in a loss for the Redskins. I'll watch the entire game, regardless, because I'm that way.

August 21, 2006

My brother's first day of college

My brother was supposed to start college today, but his first days of classes at Virginia Tech were cancelled because an escaped inmate (allegedly) shot and killed Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Sutphin and hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. The inmate also shot another police officer. The Virginia Tech campus is in lockdown, as a result. Welcome to college.

I don't say that to be flippant or funny. It's not funny. Sitting in my hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, I'm watching the news show Hokies running from Squires Student Center after an alleged sighting of the inmate. That turned out to be false. I barely remember my first day at Virginia Tech, but now the 2010 class of Virginia Tech has the memory of being forced indoors to their dorms under guard of a SWAT team because this scumbag would rather kill police officers than face charges of attempted robbery.

My thoughts today are with the deceased men and their families.

August 02, 2006

Hokies thank you for free WiFi

This story is a few months old, but since I visited Blacksburg last week, I learned about it now. The facts:

The New River Valley will soon be more connected than ever as Blacksburg Transit goes wireless with a pilot program offering Internet service aboard select buses.

The new service, created as the result of a partnership between Citizens Telephone Cooperative, based in Floyd, and Blacksburg Transit, has already begun wireless Internet service aboard a single bus, but plans are in the works to add six more by the end of May. “We’re still testing, but we should have them all done by the end of the month,” said Tim Witten, manager of BT Access.

“We’re doing it as a pilot program. We’re deploying this to see how it works, and hope it would be a really attractive part of our service, and serve as an example to the rest of Virginia,” Witten said.

That's fancy enough, but I don't imagine students clamored for this service. Although my experience is eight-plus years old, I'm confident that local travel patterns among Virginia Tech students haven't changed that much. Most users aren't on the bus long enough to scan for the wireless network and connect, much less to check the status of their fantasy football. Those students who are on the bus long enough and want to download the latest Paris Hilton song should pay for it themselves.

The program is being paid for by a series of grants from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the federal government, thus restricting the number of buses that will receive wireless service.

Because it's some tech nerd's vision of cool does not mean it's a public good. Should I also point out that Blacksburg Transit does not intend to test the program on specific routes? That the routes could change daily? I'm sure that will inspire riders to bring their laptops on a regular basis. Hopefully this flawed premise will help the program fail. As long as it's in place, when the Hokies take the field and the leaves change colors this fall, you should stop by Blacksburg and surf the free wireless you're providing.


(General hat tip to Kip for the basic structure of this post.)

January 11, 2006

Editorializing can be premature

Reading through more analysis of Marcus Vick's recent troubles, I found a useful fact in this column. It refutes a little of the heated, holier-than-thou rhetoric some have used over the last few days. Consider:

And for what it's worth, Vick and Tech coach Frank Beamer did wait outside the Louisville locker room in hopes of apologizing personally to Dumervil and Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino. They were told by a U of L official that Dumervil and Petrino weren't interested in discussing the incident.

I'm not going to start defending Vick because of that, but I think it shows that indicting the entire Virginia Tech football program, as some have written this week, is excessive. Facts still matter. Everyone, including me, forgets that at times. This is just another example of why we should strive to be smarter and less reactionary.

January 10, 2006

Facts matter. Providing them matters more.

I promise this will be the last sports-related post today, but I want to comment on this column by Michael Wilbon in today's Washington Post. Mr. Wilbon is one of two sports columnists I look forward to reading when any significant topic (to me) occurs in the sports world. I can always count on Mr. Wilbon to offer an insightful, well-written editorial. Reading today's column on Redskins safety Sean Taylor spitting in the face of Michael Pittman, I figured I'd get the same, since a $17,000 fine is ridiculously low. The column started out well, comparing Taylor's fine with the $20,000 fine running back Clinton Portis received for wearing non-regulation socks. So far, so good. It's when Mr. Wilbon got to the example of Marcus Vick as further proof. I agree that Vick is a useful comparison, but there are two serious issues I have with how far Mr. Wilbon takes the argument. Both exist in this paragraph. Consider:

So you'll pardon me if I'm not going to give school and athletic department officials a standing ovation for throwing his butt out of school . . . eventually. He should have been thrown out months earlier. And university officials, if they have the guts, ought to be taking a serious look at the entire football program because there's way too much trouble involving the football players on that campus.

As for Virginia Tech "throwing his butt out of school," this is the second time Mr. Wilbon mentioned this. Unfortunately, it's not true. Virginia Tech dismissed Marcus Vick from the football team, not from Virginia Tech. Vick did nothing to help himself in the last week, but there's a difference. But that's more a trivial complaint than anything.

More disturbing is the last part of that paragraph. With the phrase "way too much trouble involving the football players on that campus," Mr. Wilbon presents the Virginia Tech football team as a troubled program, one that coddles thugs and criminals while putting only money as a priority. Maybe that's true; I've heard such statements in abundance over the last week, so I'm not surprised. I expect proof with a statement like that, though. Simply stating something does not make it true.

Without facts, it diminishes our reputation with people who are paying only marginal attention to our program. It implies that we care only about athletics and victories, with academics of little consequence. If that's true, Mr. Wilbon should provide support for statements like that. If it's not, he should understand that making such throwaway lines for hyperbole hurts Virginia Tech unfairly with potential students, as well as athletic recruits, because his words have influence. Whichever impression the facts support, I can accept it. I can't accept that Marcus Vick alone is an indictment of the entire program, not without more proof.

January 05, 2006

The referee weighs in on Vick

Steve Usecheck, the referee from Monday's Gator Bowl, responded to the Marcus Vick incident:

"We missed that, and I'm sorry we did," [Big 12 Conference official] Usecheck told the Newport News Daily Press from his Colorado home. "The TV, everybody saw it but us. I wish we had the opportunity to talk to (Vick) because that was complete (expletive). You bet I would have thrown his ass out."

Usecheck said he has not seen a replay of the Vick incident but that purposely stomping a defenseless opponent warrants ejection. ...

"I was really disappointed," Usecheck said. "We don't see football like that (in the Big 12). Those kids were just completely out of control. Louisville wasn't as bad. Virginia Tech was brutal."

I have two words for Mr. Usecheck: shut up. He didn't see the play when it happened. He hasn't seen it on replay. Those of us who saw it know what the proper action should've been. There's nothing more gained from Mr. Usecheck's input.

Specifically, those quotes confirm exactly what I screamed at my television on Monday. The officials missed most of the game. They didn't see Vick's deplorable step. They didn't see other penalties, on both teams, that should've been obvious. They saw penalties, again, on both teams, that simply never happened. Mr. Usecheck also seemed to take glee in calling penalties on Virginia Tech. It was a pathetic job from kickoff until the final ticks.

Mr. Usecheck shouldn't perpetuate that by babbling about something he can't be bothered to see at least once.

January 04, 2006

What to do when excuses run out

Watching Monday's Annual Virginia Tech Invitational Gator Bowl, Marcus Vick's disgusting behavior, intentionally stepping on Elvis Dumervil's knee after a play ended, angered me. At Virginia Tech, we do not condone or engage such thuggery. I expect our Athletics Director, Jim Weaver, to deal with this harshly. Giving the finger to WVU fans earlier in the season was inappropriate, but mostly funny. For this, Vick should be suspended.

I assume Mr. Weaver will suspect Vick for the first game of next year's season, but I'd be just as content if he suspended Vick for next season. Given that Vick only has one more year of eligibility, that would mean he'd have to declare for the NFL draft in April. Let's see how well that kind of nonsense is rewarded, especially after including Vick's prior off-field incidents and his poor play in the two big games he played as a starter this season. I've defended him through everything, and even believed he'd matured because he spent last season with his brother in Atlanta. I'll never abandon a Hokie for poor play, but this is unacceptable and pisses me off. Ass.

December 03, 2005

This is small government?

It's halftime of the ACC Championship Game, with Virginia Tech and Florida State tied 3-3. I'd hoped that the universe would align for a perfect day, which would've included a Virginia Tech win and losses by USC, Texas, and LSU. LSU lost, but USC and Texas rolled. Not unexpected. Now I'm just anticipating a VT win. It's still in doubt, but I believe. And with a win, the Hokies go to the Orange Bowl in Miami. The Orange Bowl is a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game. The payout to the school is millions more than any bowl we'd go to if we lose tonight. The stakes are high. But high enough for this?

Calling the Bowl Championship Series "deeply flawed," the chairman of a congressional committee has called a hearing on the controversial system used to determine college football's national champion.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, charged with regulating America's sports industry, announced Friday it will conduct a hearing on the BCS next week, after this season's bowl matchups are determined.

"College football is not just an exhilarating sport, but a billion-dollar business that Congress cannot ignore," said committee Chairman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican. Barton's panel is separate from the House Government Reform panel that tackled steroids in baseball.

The committee announcement called the hearing, scheduled for next Wednesday, a "comprehensive review" of the BCS and postseason college football.

"Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy, rather than winners and losers," Barton said. "The current system of determining who's No. 1 appears deeply flawed."

Barton said he does not have legislation in mind to force a change, but said he hopes congressional hearings will spur discussion and improvements. It won't be the first time Congress has looked at the BCS. In 2003, the Senate probed whether the system was unfairly tilted against smaller schools.

We know the Democrats aren't for small government, but is there any doubt left that the Republicans aren't for small government, either? Just because the government has jurisdiction doesn't mean it should exercise it. The future of this country will not be worse if these hearings do not happen. Is it possible that we'll be at least a little worse just because they happen?

I love Hokies football. Even though the BCS would've screwed us if we'd gone undefeated, I'm okay with the flawed BCS. It's better than nothing. And, given that it's designed to make money, it isn't static. Everyone involved is doing everything possible to make it permanent and viable. Maybe they'll get it right. If they don't, the fans and schools will revolt. The system isn't immune to pressure, which is like every other industry in America. But Congress can't let it go because it wants discussion and improvements. All he needs to do is watch ESPN every Saturday to know that the discussion is constant and loud. But getting informed before posturing would've been too hard, I suppose.

I'm just surprised that Congressman Loose Cannon isn't involved.

Hat tip: Catallarchy

November 07, 2005

Ding dong ding dong .. mmmkay

By now everyone knows that Denver residents approved Initiative 100, legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana within the city limits. This is, of course, mostly symbolic since state laws against possession will still trump Initiative 100. We all know how the "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay" nanny statists will view this, so shock at continuing arrests and disregard for this message from the voters would be pointless. Remember, it's all about the will of the people unless the will of the people don't do what's in their best interests. The people don't get to offer input into what's in their best interest, either, but no matter. "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay" continues.

Personally, I agree with the gist of the "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay" message, although I'd change it to reflect that I merely don't get the fascination with drugs, or even alcohol. That doesn't mean I expect to deny it to you. As long as you don't endanger me, I don't care, so I think drugs should be legal and would've voted for Initiative 100. With all the issues facing our society, prohibition laws make no sense. Possession of one ounce of marijuana is trivial when considering other dangers. Legalize all of it and end the nonsensical battle.

While in Blacksburg over the weekend, I read the student newspaper, The Collegiate Times, for a bit of nostalgia. I always do this and I'm always amused at how bad it is. It was awful when I was a student. A reporter interviewed me for a story on a student organization I was involved in at the time and misquoted me after I e-mailed my response to her questions. Seemingly everyone involved was some combination of lazy and/or incompetent. Now, more than seven years later, nothing has changed. From Friday's edition, this editorial tackles the passage of Initiative 100 in Denver. Consider [sic's everywhere]:

News of such a measure brings about issues of legalizing marijuana in general. Denver should not have allowed such a measure to pass, even its mayor and the state of Colorado agree with that. The new procedure essentially stops people in Denver from being punished for carrying small amounts of marijuana. State law still allows for fines and speaks nothing to buying, selling or smoking the drug that has been known as a gateway drug to other addictive ones.

By passing such a procedure, the city of Denver may have gotten more than it bargained for. Then again, perhaps they really are attempting to become the next Amsterdam. If possession of marijuana becomes legal, what is to stop arguments of legalization of prostitution, heroin or any other illegal drugs?

In a country full of people who cannot even handle alcohol, legalizing marijuana is ludicrous. The United States arguably has some of the strictest laws pertaining to alcohol; however, drunken driving statistics are higher than those of most other countries, if not all.

What all of this boils down to is this: Making a vice more accessible, even legal, only ensures that it will become more harmful. Allowing people in one city to carry less than an ounce of marijuana literally removes the deterrence of carrying drugs in general. Not only that but a measure such as the one that has just passed in Denver, push the movement of legalizing marijuana in general.

That seriously could be the only reason something such as this has happened. In Telluride, Colo., the same measure as in Denver was narrowly turned down. It seems as though the purpose of introducing these procedures in localities that are so close to one another can only be to eventually challenge the state law itself.

The United States simply isn't ready for the legalization of marijuana. This country cannot handle the inhibitions that exist from alcohol, how can citizens expect to be able to handle marijuana? While it seems as though state law may trump the measures being taken in Denver, the overall effects of such things are the real problem. Legalizing possession in Denver pushes the movement towards general legalization in Colorado and basically paves the way for legalized marijuana all over the United States. Without a doubt the road the followers of this movement are headed on must be stopped.

I'm ashamed that poorly reasoned, grammatically ignorant screeds pass for thinking at Virginia Tech. There are so many lapses of logic that it's hard to decide where to begin. Is it the ridiculous notion that government officials are a better arbiter of standards than the governed? Could it be that the editors invoked the "slippery slope" argument without providing any justification for how that would happen, or even why it's a "bad" outcome?

No. It's the low level of intelligence needed to believe that "strictest laws pertaining to alcohol/drunken driving statistics are higher than those of most other countries" forms a strong pretext to criminalize drugs more until the people finally get it that drugs. are. bad. and they can't be trusted to make good decisions, so Thank God the government is looking out for them. The editors provide no support for their generalizations. No statistics, no theories, no anecdotal evidence. They offer nanny statism at its core: if we give you freedom, you'll only fuck it up, so trust us that we know better. No, thanks.

Yet, the editors don't stop there. Somehow America cannot handle the inhibitions that exist from alcohol, so how can citizens be able to handle marijuana? First, prove that Americans can't handle alcohol. I might agree generically, although I come to the conclusion that allowing Americans to drink earlier, where parents and society can teach moderation, would be more effective than "protecting" them from themselves with strict laws. I don't agree, though, that a blanket statement of fact is sufficient in this argument. Prove it with at least one fact. Surely one is available.

More importantly, the editors failed to prove that marijuana is worse than alcohol. Again, prove it. State at least one fact indicating that legalization of alcohol is reasonable but legalization of marijuana is not. It can't be the gateway drug nonsense, either, unless you prove that, too. Wishing it so doesn't it make it true. Cause and effect.

Finally, what kind of government do the editors believe we have? Granted, that's mostly rhetorical because the clear implication in that editorial is that the federal government mandates best. But consider the federal part of federal government. Isn't it reasonable to allow a locality to decide that it wants to try this experiment? If it doesn't work, it'll stop and presumably won't spread to other places. If it succeeds, the next locality has proof that it can be done without destroying society. In that regard, the editors are correct in assuming that it could spread all over America, but that's not a bad outcome if the experiment proves a success. But that's just my crazy notion that I'll err on the side of freedom unless the facts reveal that as unwise.

November 04, 2005

Nouns are important

Danielle and I have tickets to THE game tomorrow, Virginia Tech vs. Miami. (Go Hokies!!) We're driving to Blacksburg late tonight, so we'll miss this invitation from the Athletic Department. I do wish we could be there, though.

Fans are invited to Hokie Sendoff at 6:45 p.m. Friday night at Cassell Coliseum.

The sendoff, a rally for the Virginia Tech football team as they depart campus in preparation for their game Saturday with the University of Miami, will occur on the court...

... Come out and wish the football well...

I wish I could be there to wish the football well.

You did catch that right? The Athletic Department invited everyone to come out and wish the football well. I wish the team well, but if this is helpful, we should all do whatever it takes.

Go Hokies!

October 27, 2005

I can't wait to hear the Eagles scream

Virginia Tech battles Boston College tonight on ESPN. I'll watch from my sofa because I don't have tickets, but if I did, I'd invoke this logic:

Some colleges have been reluctant to play on Thursday night because administrators feel the midweek games put too much of a burden on fans who travel from far away to attend the games. There are a limited number of hotel rooms in Blacksburg, and many fans have to take Friday off work.

"The special thing about it is it's a prime-time game," guard Will Montgomery said. "You get so many vacation days, so you might as well use one on this game. It's as good of a reason as any."

"I think with our fans, taking that next day off is the least of their worries," Beamer said. "They're loyal fans, and they'll be ready for Thursday night."

The forecast is for cold, clear skies. There are fans who would let an "inconvenience" like that stop them from going, but Hokies aren't like that. I know this for a fact because even my grandmother stood in Lane Stadium for more than three hours during this:

Hokies fans proved how rabid and loyal they were when Virginia Tech beat Texas A&M, 35-19, on a Thursday night in September 2003. With Hurricane Isabel knocking out electricity to more than 1 million people in Virginia, a crowd of 65,115 still showed up at Lane Stadium and withstood a downpour and 37-mph winds. "The atmosphere is just wild and crazy on Thursday nights," Lewis said. "It's hard for the quarterback to make audibles and calls. You'll see him walk up to the line and get in everybody's ears because they can't hear him. I think the crowd makes it a bigger game. That's why Thursday night games are so big here because the stadium gets so loud."

Game on.

October 25, 2005

My analysis also applies to the 2005 NFC East

The Bowl Championship Series rankings provided a nice shock to the college football world yesterday. I didn't notice it until late in the day because I already assumed correctly that Virginia Tech would be third in the rankings, as we were last week. Since there are five weeks left in the season, it's late but still too early to worry too much about the final rankings. The system may be flawed as many are reasonably arguing. I believe college football should figure out a playoff system and let the championship be decided on the field. I'm not in the minority on that, but I don't control the millions of dollars involved in the current Bowl system. It'll be around for awhile.

Because the rankings are what they are, they provide sports journalists the opportunity to write about the minutiae as if it mattered in October. Michael Wilbon, who I really like as a writer, discusses the latest rankings in his column today. I disagree with his analysis, but only because it's a fundamental flaw everyone is making. In analyzing the USC/Texas conundrum brought about by the BCS, Mr. Wilbon highlights a point, that if put into another context (as I'm going to do), we'd laugh at the absurdity. Somehow we accept it in sports. Consider:

Texas shouldn't be first in the BCS ratings. No one should be ahead of Southern Cal. The Trojans are two-time national champs. They've won 29 straight and counting. While Texas beat one ranked opponent on the road in the Buckeyes, USC defeated then-ranked Arizona State in Tempe and Notre Dame in South Bend. Excuse me, but nothing on Texas's rsum matches winning at Notre Dame. And while Young can carry a team, he's not as impressive as reigning Heisman winner Matt Leinart, all-American Reggie Bush and all-American candidate LenDale White.

The point is, any system that makes it possible, no matter how remotely, that an undefeated Southern Cal team could be left out of the Rose Bowl is too stupid to live with. People (mostly college presidents) who defend this system and argue against a playoff shouldn't be able to wake up with a clear conscience.

I agree that USC's consecutive wins streak (29, I think) is impressive. I'm even willing to ignore the last-second, come-from-behind win they had against Notre Dame two weekends ago, winning because the officials blew two calls in USC's favor in the last three seconds of the game. (I will not, however, ignore the crap officiating that cost the Hokies a chance to beat the Trojans in last season's kickoff game at FedEx Field Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. No, I will never ignore that.) USC is a great team on a tremendous run.

But there is a flaw in Mr. Wilbon's logic, as I said. If this weren't college football, but auto manufacturing instead, we'd never accept the idea that past years are as important in determining the best cars in the current model year. Just because USC has won the last two championships doesn't mean this year's team should face an easier judgment. The humans voting in the AP and USA Today polls are certainly capable of arriving at different conclusions but it should be based on this year's teams. If the voters believe Vince Young and Texas would out duel Matt Leinart and USC, they should vote Texas #1. Even the computers will compare them based on what happened on the field this season. The problem is, the BCS uses the artificial measures of human voting and computer data models to judge what can't easily be judged without an on-the-field matchup. Subjective analysis is inevitable, but it shouldn't be applied haphazardly in a way that compounds the artificial mess that is the BCS. Seniority, which is what voting based on the winning streak constitutes, is no match for merit, which is what Saturdays are for in the college football world. Maybe those measures will come up with the right answer, maybe not. Without a playoff system, it's mostly speculation. But those measures should only consider what's happening this season.

I'll defend that into January if the Hokies face either USC or Texas in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship.

October 19, 2005

Why do you need to wreck this company?

I've jumped into the media bias argument before. Usually, I explain it with a rant about media being a business determined to make a profit. If there's a slant, it's because the business people within the media organization think they can make a profit from it. (Either that, or they're bad business people. I leave that option open.) If you, as the consumer of that media bias, don't like it, stop buying. Flip the channel, put your money in another newspaper box, whatever action makes you no longer a consumer of the bias you don't like. It's that simple, really. Especially in the age of the Internets, where there's a web site for everything. It's not complicated.

Yet, some still wish to pretend like it's more. Consider this question from a college football chat hosted by The Washington Post:

Silver Spring, Md.: So since Virginia Tech fans alway [sic] come on here and whines [sic] about coverage in the paper, do you think they are happy with the number of stories in there the last few days while Maryland has received little coverage. And on that note, since Philadelphia and New York City are closer to D.C. then [sic] Blacksburg, I was wondering when the Post was going to start covering Delaware, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, Temple, Towson, St. Joe's, Rutgers and St. Johns as hometown schools, too.

The individual has a point in the "MSM is biased" worldview. Unfortunately, the facts don't hold up to scrutiny when scrubbed with that nonsense. I could offer my own analysis with wonderful wordplay, but I'll just leave it to the reporter's response. Enjoy:

Dan Steinberg: The Rutgers-UConn tilt will likely lead the sports section on Sunday.

No, actually, we've answered this before but are happy to answer it again. We cover Tech not because of their proximity to D.C. but because of the large and rabid fan base that lives in our readership area, which we judge in part by our readership surveys. For further evidence, check out the stands in Byrd on Thursday night. It's unfortunate that people in Maryland might have to read Tech stories that don't interest them, but it's the challenge of putting out a paper in this market, and we try to be as diverse as possible based on reader interest. Tomorrow's game preview story will be about the quarterbacks Ralph Friedgen and Charlie Taaffe have produced over the years.

Also, I think you forgot to demand more Delaware State coverage.

It really is that simple. There are many Hokies in the D.C. metro area. They want to read about the Hokies. They have quarters. The Washington Post knows that Hokies will insert quarters into the coin slots of newspaper boxes throughout the region. The Washington Post has a preference for which newspaper boxes receive those quarters. So they cover Virginia Tech football. (As well as Maryland, Virginia, and Navy.) You say bias, I say economics.

Yes, I know I offered my own analysis with wonderful wordplay after I said I wouldn't. So what? Go Hokies!

October 01, 2005

Cannons destroy muskets

In preparation for Saturday's Virginia Tech game against West Virginia, in Morgantown, WVa, I present to you a fine explanation of the joy that is West Virginia football. Behold:

Fire officials have ordered the removal of all upholstered furniture, debris and flammable objects from porches in neighborhoods with high student populations in an effort to put a damper on the outdoor furniture blazes that have become a tradition.

The move comes as the city, known as the couch-burning capital of college football, prepares for the West Virginia-Virginia Tech football game on Saturday.

"The reason for the order is based upon statistical fire data gathered following major rival football games or other sporting events," Morgantown Fire Chief Dave Fetty said Monday. "Data says there are particular areas within the city where we can expect to have illegal street fires."

Students celebrating victories by the Mountaineers have a long tradition of setting fires in the streets, often with cheap furniture dragged from their rental homes.

Morgantown led the nation in the number of intentional street fires between 1997 and 2003, with a total of 1,129 set.

"Officers plan to go door to door posting written, typed-up orders on each house or putting them in mailboxes," Fetty said. "The notice states all indoor furniture that has been placed outside, along with other debris in specified areas, must be put elsewhere."

Do I really need to write any sort of punchline?

September 19, 2005

I didn't eat hot dogs from Wawa

This is all it takes to set a world record?

Suresh Joachim broke the Guinness world record for the longest time spent watching TV. He finished Friday with 69 hours and 48 minutes.

There are so many (lame) jokes inherent in that setup, but I'm not going after any of them. I just want to ask the very real question of how an individual remains awake for almost 70 hours straight and absorbs anything. Shouldn't there be some criteria stronger than just "constantly looking at the screen"? Any fool can stay awake for 70 hours, but can he be coherent?

I went to Blacksburg to see the Hokies pound Ohio. After driving four hours Friday, staying out until 3:45 am, getting up at 7:30, standing in the sun for ten of the next fourteen hours, and finally driving another four hours home on Saturday evening, I understood a little about insufficient sleep. I assume Mr. Joachim did, too, but I jammed 70 hours of fun into 27. Fifteen miles from home on Saturday night, I had to pull over and let my brother drive because little men ran across the highway. I don't mean that as an exaggeration, either. I hallucinated little men running across the highway, little men who weren't there.

But at least I earned my hallucination by doing more than just sitting on my ass, watching beams of light bounce across a television screen. To you, Mr. Joachim, I say "Big whoop." I saw little men. What did you see?

August 30, 2005

He isn't being harsh enough

I can't begin to explain how happy this thrashing by Radley Balko made me this morning. Consider:

The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins -- possibly the worst major daily sports columnist writing today -- writes the most bizarre sports opinion piece I've seen in a very long time. And sports columns can be awful.


I'd suggest that Jenkins stick to writing about sports, and only sports. But she tends to embarass [sic] herself there, too.

Ummm, I concur. Not specifically about her foray into "sports as Intelligent Design?" argument. I could challenge any number of questions she poses, but why bother? I concurred with Mr. Balko's opinion almost five years ago.

When Michael Vick led Virginia Tech to the BCS National Championship game (in January 2000), Ms. Jenkins wrote the most condescending piece of "journalism" I'd ever read. Her column amounted to little more than a nice pat on the head for Virginia Tech, congratulating us on reaching the pinnacle game while admonishing us for thinking we could compete with a "real" team (Florida State). That we led after three quarters and could've won until almost the end seemed to escape her attention. Every other football analyst in the nation wrote about the stunning performance by Michael Vick in that game and the amazing rise of Virginia Tech throughout the season, while Ms. Jenkins stood alone, pretending that none of it happened. Her column was so obscenely devoid of intelligence, I wrote a letter to the Washington Post. (I knew it wouldn't accomplish anything, but still.)

I wonder if the last four years of Virginia Tech football changed her mind about our worthiness? How about our preseason rankings?

August 29, 2005

From the land of milk and duh

An interesting new scientific study is beaming around the Internets today. The story goes deeper than the premise, but I think it's important, or at least relevant to me, to highlight it. Consider:

Redheads sunburn easily, putting them at high risk of skin cancer.

Really? No kidding.

Ok, so that was the setup so that I could write "from the land of milk and duh." There's actually an interesting scientific discovery here. Consider:

Duke chemistry professor John Simon analyzed how the pigments in naturally red and black hair reacted as they absorbed either ultraviolet B rays associated with sunburn, or ultraviolet A rays, which can penetrate and damage skin even without a burn.

Both kinds of light caused a reaction with the redheads' pigment that creates molecules that damage DNA and cells in ways that can spur cancer.

In contrast, only UVB light caused that oxidative reaction with the pigment from black hair, called eumelanin, Simon reported.

Dr. Simon stated that this is only a theory, with more research necessary to determine if his findings are consistent with other researchers. That, of course, is how science works. Doctors knew that redheads have a higher risk of skin cancer, but no one knew why. Dr. Simon presents his hypothesis based on test observations and now other scientists work to disprove that theory. Sorta like evolution, one suspects.

This theory may not lead to the proverbial cure for cancer (literally in this case), but the advance of knowledge is important. I'm not even sure it adds much because it doesn't change my relationship with the sun; I treat the sun as a stalker and avoid it as much as possible. (I'm practically a shut-in.) But, again, satisfying intellectual curiosity is useful in a developed society. And it allows me to write "from the land of milk and duh."

Particularly annoying, though, is I now know that even when I'm walking around, my arch nemesis UVA is lurking. Bastards.

(Yes, I know I'm probably the only person who thinks that's funny, but holy crap, am I laughing.)

August 26, 2005

I won't even discuss "Break the cable! Break the cable!"

Reading through my Virginia Tech news feed tonight, I realized that classes started Monday. Normally, this wouldn't factor into my world anymore because I graduated more than seven years ago, except that memory sparked another memory. So I'll share it here.

After my freshman year, the annual influx of freshmen always entertained. It was the common belief as we all aged, the new students looked younger and younger. I swear that toddlers attended VT by the end of my graduate career.

But we had no sympathy for the kids. We'd ride the Blacksburg Transit (the free bus system) just to mess with them. They were always the impatient chatterboxes intent on pestering the driver with their constant giddiness about where all the parties were. They'd only been in town for six or seven days, so they knew nothing. As knowledgeable Blacksburg inhabitants, we always told them when to get off the bus. We didn't tell them the correct bus stop, but they couldn't expect everything, could they?

August 11, 2005

We painted our office orange and maroon

I found an interesting story concerning my alma mater, but first, some background about its collaboration with King Abdulaziz University:

Ongoing discussions linking the two universities in the areas of distance and distributed learning (eLearning) and engineering were established by Sedki Riad, professor of electrical engineering and director of International Programs in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, and Tom Wilkinson, director of Virginia Tech's Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning (IDDL).
As a first step, 60 KAU faculty members will arrive in Blacksburg this summer for a series of professional development activities that will be developed and delivered by Virginia Tech's English Department, Communications Department, Faculty Development Institute, the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning, and the English Language Institute. KAU faculty will participate in two of four planned development programs: 1) English instruction, 2) communications instruction, 3) basic and intermediate computer and web skill development, and 4) designing, developing and delivering eLearning courses. Family members accompanying KAU faculty also will have an opportunity to participate in activities at the English Language Institute.

I hadn't heard anything about this when it happened in March, but I wasn't involved in any of those programs while in school, so I'm not shocked that this missed my radar. It does sound interesting, though. Any program that expands Virginia Tech's influence further is probably a good endeavor. Sharing with a culture we don't normally think of when discussing higher education should be a bonus.

I say "probably" and "should be" because, today, I came across this article. The summer classes mentioned in the original article are taking place in Blacksburg, which I would suspect would follow our ideas of educational instruction, more or less. That's not occurring. Consider:

The courses include topics such as Web site development and online instruction, but in keeping with the preferences of the Saudi university, the university created separate classes for the approximately 30 male and 30 female faculty members.

Why would Virginia Tech segregate the male and female faculty? We don't segregate classes like that in the United States, at least not public universities, which Virginia Tech is. I'm disappointed that Virginia Tech would do this. I've always believed that Virginia Tech is a wonderful institution. In six years spent in Blacksburg, I never witnessed any form of discrimination. I hope that the details aren't as frustrating as they seem.

Of course there is backlash coming from some of the Virginia Tech faculty because of these classes.

Eloise Coupey, an associate professor of marketing at the Virginia Tech, filed a complaint with the school Tuesday alleging the single-sex classes created a hostile environment for women.

"The presence of these segregated classes on campus indicates to me that the university doesn't place a strong enough value on women's rights," Coupey said Wednesday. "This makes me feel that the university holds me in less regard than my male counterparts."

Wait, what? Why is that environment hostile only to women? What about the men? Viewed from the context of the Saudis, yes, it's specifically aimed at women. But viewed from the context of us, I'd consider it discriminatory to both the men and women involved. Unless Prof. Coupey is implying that men can learn from women in an educational environment but that the reverse isn't true. I wonder, but I would still expect her to defend against all discrimination, regardless of gender.

In response to complaints, Virginia Tech "has made the course segregation optional," which is amusing because of this additional information, clarifying what was implied earlier:

While the program was designed by Tech staff, administrators with King Abdulaziz University separated the classes by gender.

Tech subsequently offered to make the classes co-ed, however the Saudi faculty said they preferred the current set-up because most of their classrooms at home are single-sex. Separate classes also allows them to tailor the content to their needs, several Saudi faculty have said.
Saudi faculty have repeatedly stressed that they had chosen to separate by gender. Many of the professors earned their advanced degrees at American and European institutions and are therefore comfortable in co-ed settings, faculty said.

There is this additional detail:

King Abdulaziz University paid Virginia Tech $246,000 to design and operate the faculty development program this summer.

Fascinating. I'm still disappointed (only a tiny bit), but I'm not offended. Should I be? Perhaps I'm reading too much into the $246,000 payment, but it seems to me that King Abdulaziz University paid for a product which Virginia Tech agreed to create. Within reason, of course, King Abdulaziz University gets to set the requirements for the course. And if the students self-select a segregation plan? I'm under-whelmed by the need for outrage, but that's because I think the facts suggest a simple solution. This isn't the standard to which Virginia Tech should hold itself, so it should not have set the classes up this way. But it did. I see no harm in finishing this program with the optional, self-segregating plan. Next time, think wiser and clearer before setting up a program like this. If a university such as King Abdulaziz University refuses, don't do the deal. Two-hundred-forty-six thousand dollars isn't that much money. Live happily ever after. Simple.

And yet, it's never that simple, is it? In a scene straight out of PCU, the outgoing director of Tech's Women's Studies Program offered a gem quote detailing how every event can be used for petty political point-scoring. Enjoy.

"I would say this demonstrates the insensitivity of the university administration to the experience of the women on campus," [Bernice] Hausman said.

It's visiting Saudi women, are you paying attention? Not every slight to a small group is a global "screw you" from the world to the women on campus. I have little doubt that $246,000 will now have to be re-directed to sensitivity training classes on the Virginia Tech campus for all administrators involved. I'll take Ms. Hausman in the office pool as to who will teach the classes as an independent consultant/qualified expert?

July 08, 2005

Those guys think they're revolutionaries

Here's an interesting business lesson:

Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs has a reputation for thinking different. But now he might be planning a move for Apple that will leave even his biggest fans surprised--becoming a phone company.

It might sound far-fetched, but the pieces are in place for it to happen later this summer. Apple is already developing a hybrid iPod/cell phone with handset maker Motorola. And companies ranging from the Virgin Group to The Walt Disney Co. are proving that a new network model can allow all kinds of businesses to easily enter the mobile market.

Essentially, this entails Apple releasing an iTunes-branded cell phone, with the cellular network leased from an existing company such as Sprint or Cingular. The startup cost is minimal compared to the early days of cell phones because the network infrastructure is already in place. And Apple benefits from popularity currently unparalleled in customer electronics. It seems like a reasonable idea. But why would Apple want to go through the trouble when it could simplify this opportunity with an iTunes application for mobile phones?

But Apple might have a problem getting the devices into customers' hands. Carriers will probably be loath to sell and support it, since they want to sell their own music downloads--not have customers upload tunes from home. "The carriers don't like it," says analyst Rob Enderle, head of The Enderle Group. "They want Apple to change the design so the phone has to sync through their networks, not with a PC."

Of course the carriers don't like it. They want to pretend that customers care more about the gatekeeper than what comes through the gates. customers may like the gatekeeper (Apple is the perfect example), but content is more important. Where the carriers go wrong is believing that exclusivity and control of content aren't important. If customers thought the way carriers believe they think, AOL would still dominate.

Perhaps an example... Last year I decided to switch cell phone carriers. I'd had minor issues with Sprint so I opted to transfer my phone number to Verizon. After purchasing a new phone with exciting features, I impatiently waited for the phone to charge so I could upload my unique ringtones. Reading through the instruction manual, I found no references to uploading ringtones. I searched the internets to figure out how to do it. And that's when I found out Verizon's little secret. Despite all the nice features of the phone, I was beholden to their wishes. I could have any content I wanted as long as Verizon sold it. No personal ringtones, no fancy pictures, no diversionary games.

Five days later I returned the phone to Verizon and became a Sprint customer again because Sprint allowed me to use the phone I purchased in the way I wanted to use it. Today, when my brother calls me, a Hokie gobble announces the call.

Customers aren't always rational, but they're not stupid. If the customer has an iTunes account, why would Verizon think she wants a middleman to sell her music from iTunes? The existing carriers imagine monopoly powers where they don't exist. They will learn the lesson, but as the lesson often is for large companies, the lesson probably won't be pleasant. Competition dictates an adapt or die mentality; Apple understands this better than most.

Although an Apple phone may not happen, some form of an iTunes-capable phone will. It makes too much sense and Apple has the clout to make it happen. In the scenario I imagine, Verizon, Sprint, Cingular, and every other cellular carrier should not be surprised when cell phones show up next to iPods and PowerBooks in every Apple retail store.

(Link via Slashdot)

January 23, 2005

Misty water-colored memories

Strolling down memory lane, better known as the Drill Field.

January 04, 2005

Bowling gutter balls through 9 frames, with a Turkey in the 10th

Rather than review last night's game, I decided ahead of time to try an experiment. It wasn't an original experiment, because I stole the idea from Bill Simmons, but it was still an experiment. The idea was simple: I kept a running log of everything bouncing around my head or coming out of my mouth during the game. I recorded emotions, thoughts, reactions, opinions, and conclusions as they developed. I may be the only person who finds this interesting, and at 2302 words, I don't truly expect everyone to read it through to the end, but it's preserved here for anyone interested in knowing what I thought about the Sugar Bowl or what it's like for me to watch a game. What follows really needs no other explanation, so here it is. (Editor's note: No remote controls were harmed in the watching of this game.)


8:01 pm - Enough about the Tigers!

8:02 pm - Auburn thinks they're going to walk over Tech. We'll see. "Don't sleep on Virginia Tech" is right.

8:05 pm - And now the nonsensical advertising starts.

8:08 pm - Terry Bowden looks like one of the lollipop kids from The Wizard of Oz.

8:11 pm - Hey, look, it's the Auburn kick line. Where are the Jazz Hands?

8:15 pm - Frank Beamer for President!

8:16 pm - Bryan Randall, ACC Player of the Year. That sounds sweet, doesn't it? Not bad for the projected 6th 1st place Hokies.

8:19 pm - That ball wasn't catchable, but if it's any closer, that's pass interference. Not a good sign that that wasn't called.

8:21 pm - Where the fuck is the flag on the block in the back?! The incessant phone calls to my brother begin.

8:25 pm - This is not a good start. Maybe a tackle would be good...

8:26 pm - Get a little more excited. You won the SEC Player of the Year. It's a major award!

8:28 pm - Oh, it sucks to settle for a field goal, doesn't it? It seems to me that part of mentioning that Auburn has the 1st ranked scoring defense is to also mention that Virginia Tech has the 3rd ranked scoring defense. It's so obvious, it's scary.

8:32 pm - Oh, it seems like good plays won't be exclusive to one team. Eh, heh.

8:34 pm - We're aiming for the other end zone, guys. Turn around and run that way.

8:39 pm - It's 3rd and 16, contain the quarterback. Over-pursuing him only lets him find his receiver. Damn.

8:42 pm - I'm pretty sure that guy's head isn't in the helmet that flew off.

8:43 pm - 4th and Goal from the 2 and you need to think about it? Oh, and doesn't it suck to get stopped in the red zone? Again. (I'm officially frustrated. One more bad offensive play, and I'll be jumping off the deck onto the back porch.

8:46 pm - Oh, you thought you were going to get us to jump offsides. Instead, you wasted your second timeout. Hahaha. Coaching wins these games. Just ask Frank Beamer if he wishes he'd kicked the field goal on the opening drive of the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

8:56 pm - One quarter down. The defensive is playing brilliantly in tight situations. I'm ignoring the aspect of this game that involves the offense putting the defense in this bad situation. Just completely ignoring it.

8:57 pm - Much better start to the 2nd quarter. Keep throwing the ball with some authority.

8:59 pm - You tell 'em, Frank. Forward progress counts in this game. Maybe it only counts for Auburn... They are really good, which I know because you've been telling us how awesome Auburn is. For the entire game. On every play. But it's not getting old. Boy, I could listen to that all game.

9:05 pm - 47 hours, 56 minutes until Alias!

9:06 pm - That was an awesome sack, Burchette! Nice job!

9:06 pm - Don't lateral the friggin' ball when half the field is wide open. Instead of a big gain, it's a penalty. Play what's in front of you. But we're having such an easy time gaining yards...

9:09 pm - The first tinge of pain from screaming just snuck into my throat. Not a good sign.

9:13 pm - That's a nice fucking throw, Randall. Way to thread the needle. Fuck, yeah!

9:14 pm - Play action to the tight end. King is always open. Just do it. I'm telling you.

9:15 pm - Not Mazzetta. Throw it to King. (And that was pass interference on that defensive back. His hands were all over Mazzetta.)

9:16 pm - Damn. That hole closed quickly.

9:18 pm - No, don't go for it on 4th down, Frank. Did you read what I said about coaching winning these games? We should've kicked the field goal to open the game in 2000 and we should kick the field goal now. Auburn is out of timeouts now. That's bad. Think. I'm going to throw up.

9:19 pm - Stupid, stupid call. Allen has caught, what, one pass all season, so you throw it to him? How about a reasonable play if you're not going to call the smart play?

9:21 pm - And now the defense has to protect the rest of the team's stupidity.

9:23 pm - What is this coverage? Just let Auburn walk into the end zone.

9:26 pm - This is why you kick the field goal. Not converting the 4th down shifts the momentum back to Auburn. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

9:28 pm - Hey, what do you know. Auburn's third 4th and Goal. And what are they doing? Kicking the field goal. Why? Because that's the right call. Damnit! And now it's a 2 score game. If we kick the field goal, we're still within a touchdown. Instead, we're now down two scores. Why are we so stupid?

9:34 pm - Nice run, Eddie! Way to juke that defender. Excellent. Now score!

9:35 pm - Run, Bryan, run! Call a timeout! We have three and we can't take them into the locker room.

9:36 pm - Instead of a timeout, you give me a false start. Rock.

9:37 pm - Now we take a timeout. A dropped pass and a penalty. At least we wasted 10 seconds off the clock. We don't need those.

9:39 pm - 47 hours, 22 minutes until Alias!

9:40 pm - Oh, Auburn has the. Hardest. Defense. To. Score. On. In. College. Football? Really? Who knew? I'm glad you finally told us.

9:44 pm - Halftime. It's 9-0 Auburn. This is the worst coached game in years for Frank Beamer. Tech highlights so far: we got to see Bruce Smith on the sideline. The highlight of the game so far: announcer Aaron Taylor being so excited that he appears two seconds away from crushing a beer can on his forehead.

10:04 pm - I want football, not a special video from Tom Petty. Give me football. (Remember, some of us have to work tomorrow.)

10:12 pm - Darryl Tapp, you rule! The lunch pale rocks.

10:12 pm - What is that scatter play? I'm amused, but that's just ridiculous to waste time allowing VT to close in on the ball. Keep making stupid mistakes, though.

10:14 pm - We need a turnover. Now.

10:15 pm - Bam! Keep smacking him like that all night long.

10:16 pm - Again with the over-pursuing the quarterback. That leads to a 53-yard gain for Auburn. Stop it. These big plays are KILLING us.

10:18 pm - HOLDING! Where's the flag? Come on.

10:19 pm - We've been playing with fire all night with the bad defense. We got burned and I fear we may not recover from this. If we don't score on our drive, this game is over. Oh, and a roughing the kicker penalty. Good move. At least if we're going to implode, we'll do it completely.

10:25 pm - False start. That's okay, because there's no life left in the team. At this rate, the rest of the night should be fairly quick.

10:27 pm - Auburn sacks Randall. The collapse is almost complete. It's not the coaching now; they're just outplaying us. This defensive stand will determine if this game continues with any sense of drama.

10:31 pm - Defensive sack. That's a good start. A turnover/defensive score would go a long way to making this interesting again.

10:33 pm - Three and out and Auburn must punt. I'm optimistic.

10:34 pm - Damn. It was the right call to set up the return there, but if we'd tied to block that kick, it was the perfect snap (so high that it delays the punter an extra moment). Oh, well. Now it's Randall's time to step up. Finally.

10:37 pm - Down 16 points with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter may not be the best time to try to establish the run. I'm just saying.

10:38 pm - Three and out and Tech must punt. This is ugly. I saw better offense on my high school team and we won about four games during my high school years.

10:43 pm - INTERCEPTION!!!!! Come on, come on, come on. Time to take advantage of this. We must have a touchdown.

10:45 pm - Running the ball for 8 yards is nice, but we have to score soon. Realistically, we need two touchdowns and a field goal to win this game. With only 16 minutes to play, time is becoming a factor.

10:46 pm - 4th and 1. We MUST get this first down. Must.

10:48 pm - Just enough for the first down. I don't know why we're letting the clock run out but that plays ends the 3rd quarter. Fifteen minutes to play. I have faith but I have to dig deep. I've seen weirder comebacks, though. I can't think of any right now, but I've seen them.

10:53 pm - Wow, when did Auburn get the number 1 scoring defense in the nation? Why hasn't ABC told us about it?

10:53 pm - Wide open receiver. Randall missed him. Nice.

10:54 pm - Field goal attempt. This is almost useless. We should be going for the touchdown on 4th and goal.

10:55 pm - He missed the field goal. Completely useless.

10:56 pm - Not only have I passed the point of being surprised, I'm past the point of caring. This is the worst coached Virginia Tech game I've ever seen. We've beaten ourselves in every facet of the game. Stupid play calling, bad defensive set up, taking risks when we shouldn't, being cautious when we should be aggressive, and lacking any motivation or sense of importance.

10:59 pm - Is Alias on yet?

11:04 pm - Tech is playing as though we're already defeated. This game is over.

11:04 pm - Auburn fumble, Tech recovers. If we could've picked it up, we would've run it back for a touchdown. Because it's this game, we could only fall on it. At least no one spiked himself with his cleats.

11:09 pm - I've resorted to dangling string in front of the cats for entertainment. The game might as well be over, so I've lost interest. But I'm stupid dedicated, so I'll watch until the clock hits 0:00.

11:10 pm - Pass interference. 15 yards, a first down, and the clock stops. That helps, but we're only fighting for self-respect now.

11:13 pm - Touchdown Hokies! Going for 2-point conversion.

11:14 pm - The throw is too low, bouncing off the turf. Auburn leads 16-6. That's why we should've kicked the field goal on 4th and Goal in the first half. With the field goal, it's 16-10. Down six points with almost seven minutes to go is a nail-biter. Down ten points with almost seven minutes to go requires a few answered prayers. I'm pulling it from places I didn't know I had, but I still believe.

11:19 pm - 45 hours, 42 minutes until Alias!

11:21 pm - We're close to needing to use our timeouts if we intend to keep this close. We can't give them 45 seconds for every play. (We could if it was 16-10. Have I mentioned how we needed to kick the field goal in the first half?)

11:23 pm - Fourth down for Auburn. Tech must take a timeout. Timeout Hokies. We need this ball back immediately. And then we need a quick score. A punt return for a touchdown, maybe?

11:25 pm - Block that kick! Block that kick!

11:26 pm - Downed at the 2 yard line. Classic.

11:28 pm - It's nice to see a little life in the team, but we're wasting too much time.

11:29 pm - Randall forced the throw instead of throwing it away. Auburn intercepts. That's the end.

11:36 pm - 2:21 left in the game. Auburn has to punt. Tech will get the ball back, but I don't see how we use the last 2 minutes to overcome the first 58 minutes.

11:38 pm - Absolute stunned fucking silence! 80-yard touchdown to Josh Morgan. Auburn leads 16-13. 2:01 left on the clock. I doubted Tech and we're in this again.

11:40 pm - Auburn recovers the onside kick. We're done, barring a miracle.

11:43 pm - Auburn sits on the ball. The game is over. The referees allow some shenanigans with the clock in the last two minutes. It doesn't matter because we deserve to lose. Auburn is a great team. They outplayed us and out coached us. But Tech fought all the way. If we had found that spark earlier in the game, we win. If we make better decisions early in the game, we win. (Did I mention that we should've kicked the field goal in the first half? 16-16 makes it a different game, no? I'm just saying.) But we didn't.

11:50 pm - Virginia Tech finished 10-3. We won the ACC in our first season. We played in a BCS bowl, barely losing even though we played our worst offense of the season. Two of our three losses came against #1 USC and #3 Auburn. That's a good season. I can't wait for August.

11:54 pm - 45 hours, 7 minutes until Alias!

5:41 am - I awake after a few hours of sleep, having dreamt of championships lost, slipping just out of reach for all time. I realize it was just a dream. Dreams fade and dreams return. I drift back into slumber. The sun will rise in less than two hours.

January 03, 2005

Set up ten pins tonight, we're going bowling

Tonight is the night. The Hokies play Auburn tonight in the Sugar Bowl. I'm more excited for this game than I have been for any football game in the last five years. I won't regale bore anyone with the details of tonight's game because it's not necessary. And I'd probably suffer an aneurysm if I get any more excited about this game. Go Hokies!

So instead I offer a glimpse back to five years ago. No game will ever hold the same level of unbridled enthusiasm that I felt for the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech rose from the obscurity of my undergraduate years of the early '90's to national prominence in the BCS National Championship game against the spawn of Satan Florida State. We had Michael Vick. We had Frank Beamer, the master of Special Teams play. (We still have him, but stick with my creative license.) We had Bud Foster, the defensive genius. (Ditto, which is not a person but a reference to my last side note.) The Seminoles had 783-year-old Chris Wienke, a stupid tomahawk chop, and Peter Warrick getting the team a 90% discount on flights to New Orleans. The victory and our first national championship in the new Hokie Dynasty were a lock.

Like every epic mythical adventure, destiny conspired to land me smack in the middle of it all. I flew to New Orleans on the morning of the game with a return ticket for the next morning. I planned to spend fifteen of my twenty hours in New Orleans on Bourbon Street either counting down the end of my B.N.C. Hokie Time (Before National Championship) or celebrating the first exciting moments of P.N.C. Hokie Time (Post National Championship) because I refused to let my inability to find a hotel room deter me from seeing the biggest game in Virginia Tech history. I believed.

I was forsaken. Instead of that dream, I walked around Bourbon Street in the freezing cold, journeyed on a quest for one vegetarian dish, watched us fall far behind Florida State, screamed myself hoarse as we fought back to take the lead at the end of the third quarter, deflated as the comeback fell short, wandered Bourbon Street in a haze of depression, discovered that many Florida State fans are sore winners assholes, dozed in McDonald's, caught a cab to the airport at 2am, slept on the cold floor of New Orleans International Airport, contracted bronchitis, and spent the next five days suffering the pain of violent coughing. All of it added up to the single greatest sporting event of my life. To quote Garth Brooks, "I could have missed the pain, But I'd have had to miss the dance".

Leading up to the 2000 Sugar Bowl, Virginia Tech had to beat Boston College to finish the regular season 11-0. That game started out with a freezing, driving rain storm and ended with the Hokies standing victorious and hordes of fans throwing sugar cubes indiscriminately in the air as the crowd (55,000 strong) danced and cheered in unison as the scoreboard reported Oklahoma's squeaker win that guaranteed Virginia Tech a spot in the National Championship. This picture from the fourth quarter of that game shows that there can be a storm before the calm.

I'm in this picture, however small I may be.

My passion for Virginia Tech isn't forged in football trophies or other fleeting awards. Like most college students, I experienced Virginia Tech in my early adulthood, when I hadn't fully formed my understanding of who I was and where I fit in the world. I arrived in Blacksburg unaware of what lay before me, other than an external view that I was slightly inferior because I had to attend Virginia Tech and not the University of Virginia. I bought into the feeling that I needed to defend Virginia Tech against its external image. Over the years, through maturation and the values embodied by Virginia Tech, I learned to set that aside. Virginia Tech instilled in me a respect for the community of Hokies that exists worldwide. (I've encountered fellow Hokies as far away as Krakow, Poland.) We may be a little crazy, but Hokies love being Hokies. The outside world doesn't understand us because we're a strong community and indiscriminately rabid supporters of Virginia Tech. Few universities foster the same attitude. I believed then, I believe now, and regardless of tonight's outcome, I will still believe tomorrow. I never want to be anything other than a Hokie.

Now that I've gone all weepy and precious, join with me in wishing for nothing but a good, old-fashioned ass-whooping of the Tigers... Go Hokies!

October 29, 2004

The Gods were happy, so no lightning

With such a spectacular comeback win by the Hokies last night, I must comment on the smarter kids at Georgia Tech. Consider this quote from a student when referring to the atmosphere of Big Time College Sports™ on the Georgia Tech campus:

"It validates that we're not just nerds," Kwon said. "Not only are our degrees much better than yours, but we can whip you on the field, too."

That validates it in the same way the smahrt kids probably feel about the Hahrvahrd Lacrosse team. But there is something that makes me not quite ready to put my two Virginia Tech diplomas on the spinning roll attached to the bathroom wall. Consider:

"Here it is in all its glory -- game day at Georgia Tech," said fifth-year student Johnny Kwon, looking out over the lawn in front of the architecture building. "We sit here, drink beer and watch all the nerds walk by that aren't going to the game."

Even with my lesser diploma, I know that people, even nerds, are referred to as "who", while inanimate objects are referred to as "that". The right statement is "We sit here, drink beer and watch all the nerds walk by who aren't going to the game. They're carrying their X-ray glasses that run on batteries and atomic energy."

Oh, and our quarterback doesn't accidentally step out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

October 07, 2004

It's just like breathing

I don't know how I missed this, but after UVA beat UNC a few weeks ago, UVA Fourth Year senior tailback Marquis Weeks commented on his 100-yard kick-off return for a touchdown. Before I reveal his quote, consider this description of his run:

Receiving the kickoff a yard deep in the end zone, Weeks started up the right side, ran out of a tackle attempt by Hilee Taylor near the 25-yard line and burst to midfield, where he cut left across the field to pick up blockers who cleared the rest of the way.

I didn't see it, but it sounds like it was a sweet run. Good for him. Blah, blah, blah. As I said, the real key is this post-game quote from Marquis Weeks:

"That was just instinct," Weeks said with a laugh. "Kind of like running from the cops, I guess you could say."

Ummm, I don't believe I have that instinct. And I remember getting mocked over the summer because of the most recent legal run-ins for members of the Virginia Tech football team. I can accept the mockery because there's no defense for the behavior of some of my guys. But I can't allow that quote to just disappear into the ether. Considering that one of my roommates went to UVA, do not fret. That quote isn't going anywhere, except maybe taped to my refrigerator.

August 29, 2004

Blow the whistle, not the game.

Last night's game was disappointing, but tremendous fun. There were Hokies everywhere. The atmosphere was lit up, just like the fans. We didn't win, but we showed that we're a better team than most people believed. Today, that is some consolation.

There are two quotes that explain the game better than I can:

"You can't blame the officials," [Coach Frank] Beamer said. "I thought it was kind of questionable. I thought it was a great play."

When the officials call the game the way they did, it's reasonable to blame them, but it's not a complete explanation. This is the final piece:

"They played like the number one team in America in the sense that they capitalized on every mistake we made," tailback Justin Hamilton said.

Turnovers or penalties, it didn't matter. When we made a mistake, we paid for it. Usually we paid in points, but we always paid in some way detrimental. Against great teams, that leads to losing. Last night we didn't have the killer instinct and USC did.

I still wore a Virginia Tech t-shirt today. Go Hokies!

August 28, 2004

Hokie football is back!

Now that the Phillies have nose-dived into oblivion, I'm turning my attention to football. Today, specifically, is about Hokies football. Tonight we kick off the college football season against #1-ranked USC.

I have no prediction for this game, but I'd like to consider one important point. USC is 2,700 miles away from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Blacksburg is 270 miles away. I wonder how that will impact the ratio of Hokies to Trojans among the 90,000+ fans expected to attend? Hmmm...

While we all ponder the glory that will be Virginia Tech football in 2004, I'll fade out with Tech Triumph:

Tech Triumph

Techmen, we're Techmen, with spirit true and faithful,
Backing up our teams with hopes undying;
Techmen, Oh Techmen, we're out to win today,
Showing "pep" and life with which we're trying;
V.P., old V.P., you know our hearts are with you
In our luck which never seems to die;
Win or lose, we'll greet you with a glad returning,
You're the pride of V.P.I.

Just watch our men so big and active
Support the Orange and Maroon. Let's go Techs.
We know our ends and backs are stronger,
With winning hopes, we fear defeat no longer.
To see our team plow through the line, boys,
Determined now to win or die:
So give a Hokie, Hokie, Hokie Hi,
Rae, Ri, old V.P.I.

Go Hokies!

February 20, 2004

Johnny Depp is the Virginia Cavalier?

This just in: "The long-simmering rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech is being licensed."

Officials at both state schools have agreed to allow the sale of products that, within the bounds of good taste, disparage each other. Coming soon to a store near you: clothes, pennants, posters and key chains that give either a black eye to the Blacksburg school or a jolt to the jaw of Mr. Jefferson's University.

Money makes the world go around.

As one shirt soon to go on sale in Charlottesville puts it: "Friends don't let friends go to Virginia Tech."

As one soon to be on the shelves in Blacksburg replies: "Friends don't let friends go to U.Va."

Those shirts were available when I arrived in Blacksburg in August 1991. However, this is different because college students care about the licensing. And they don't download music, and they don't tear that label off the mattress.

Now that there are options, there's this:

...Tech has allowed only one product to feature the schools' rivalry at all: a small figurine of a Hokie football player "smushing" his Wahoo counterpart into the ground.

Please tell me we didn't say "smushing". It can't be true. Either we said "crushing his little pea-sized brain" or we said nothing at all. I know it's true.

Even the lure of money couldn't coax Virginia Tech into the deal until we joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, as this next quote explains:

"I think the university took the stance that we didn't want to play up the rivalry," [Tech licensing director Locke] White said. "It was kind of conservative."

For some reason, we've been looking to the past for our rival. Note to Tech: Virginia has been our main rival for years. Yes, we like to beat West Virginia, but steeeeeeeeeeeeeel. Any local observer in Blacksburg knows that Virginia inspires hatred like no other rivalry.

They refer to their school as The University and Mr. Jefferson's University. They think we're rednecks because we have cows. They think they're brilliant and we're the 13th grade.

This next quote proves their smugness:

Since both schools have to approve any design, slogan or insult that exploits the rivalry, it's safe to say the exchanges won't get too rough.

"I think the fans want this kind of thing," [Steve Heon, U.Va.'s licensing director] said. "But Virginia's got to have an opportunity to say, 'Wait, that's a little over the top.'"


August 19, 2003

What's a Hokie?

Read the answer and you'll know.

Don't you feel better now?

August 17, 2003

Grading on a curve

I once scored a 16 on a test in freshman Chemistry in college. The dumb freshman chemistry, the one for business majors. Not the one for engineers. Here's the course description:

"1016: INTRODUCTION TO CHEMISTRY - For students enrolled in curricula other than science or engineering. Chemical principles applied to material, environmental, and life sciences."

If I'd scored a 20, I'd have passed. But I didn't because I answered the question "On your honor, did you attend the optional lecture discussed in class?" Like a dope, I said no. The prof subtracted 4 points. He was an ass.

Madden Curse

EA Sports and Madden have struck again. Michael Vick broke his leg last night in a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, leaving fantasy football fans distraught.

Worse, it's a sad day for Hokie fans everywhere. We love Michael Vick because he put Virginia Tech football in the national spotlight. He is our football god.