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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?