Saturday, December 31, 2005

Never tell me the odds

So much for my powers of prognostication -- a few years back, I finished with the best record in my bowl pool, but ever since then it's been decidedly average for me. This year I'm barely above .500 so far, but the way the group I'm in allocates points, I'm 60 places behind other people with the same record. So ... go, Tulsa! Yep.

Here is a nice article from the Sun-Times earlier this week on Brady Quinn and Dublin, Ohio. I liked one observation from Brady's father:

"I noticed that over at the Meijer's across town, they are actually carrying more Notre Dame merchandise than normal," Quinn said. "Nowhere near as much Ohio State stuff as they have, but more than normal. That's good."

One of the first things I noticed, when doing freshman-dorm-room shopping in South Bend a few years back, was that there actually was Notre Dame stuff in the Meijer on Grape Road. Growing up in Columbus, you start to think it's just a feature of all Meijer stores that they only stock OSU merchandise, because that's all you ever see. So to see some ND inroads being made in Columbus stores ... it's a start! Also, and importantly, BGS passes on the news that Brady will definitely be returning to South Bend next year. I never seriously thought he'd leave -- there's too much to return for, not least earning a Notre Dame degree -- but it's nice to have it confirmed. For other Fiesta-related articles, Bill at Bare Down has the best daily round-up.

EDIT: Did Mark May just claim he'd been "on the Notre Dame bandwagon from Day One"?! This, from the guy whom ND message boards have had to ban all mention of because he's so egregious in his anti-ND bias? Ha -- follow-up quip: "Mark May has just received an honorary degree in revisionist history." (Lou wouldn't have let the claim stand in any case.)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A savior has been born

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed day. If you do take time to reflect today on the reason why we Christians celebrate this holy day, I offer the words of Pope Benedict XVI, from the homily of his first Christmas Mass as pope last night:

But there is more: in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God himself became man. To him the Father says: “You are my son”. God’s everlasting “today” has come down into the fleeting today of the world and lifted our momentary today into God’s eternal today. God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenceless child, so that we can love him. God is so good that he can give up his divine splendour and come down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us. This is Christmas: “You are my son, this day I have begotten you”. God has become one of us, so that we can be with him and become like him. As a sign, he chose the Child lying in the manger: this is how God is. This is how we come to know him. And on every child shines something of the splendour of that “today”, of that closeness of God which we ought to love and to which we must yield – it shines on every child, even on those still unborn.

Friday, December 23, 2005

'Twas the night before (a Notre Dame) Christmas

Fantastic poem going around, written by John Rosemeyer. (I think it might be a guy I knew from my class, though there's another alumnus named John Rosemeyer out there also. Whichever it is, nicely done!) Thought I would post it here for other Notre Dame fans to enjoy. Instant classic (I also especially like the reference to everyone's favorite Indiana State Trooper).

GO IRISH!!!!


'Twas the night before Christmas, When all through South Bend
Not a creature was stirring, neither rooster nor hen

The banners were hung on the stadium with care,
In hopes that St. Charlie soon would be there

The alumni were nestled all snug in their beds,
With dreams of Leahy and Holtz in their heads;

While the students at the Grotto, down by the lake,
Were just giving thanks for a long winter break,

When out on those quads arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The Dome with a crest of new-fallen snow
Gave luster of mid-day to a campus below

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
A high-powered offense: the champions next year!

With a large and proud leader, so friendly and nice
I knew in a moment it must be Coach Weis

As fast as Four Horsemen, onward they came
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now Hoyte, Now Samardzija, Walker, Fasano
On Stovall, On Shelton, Wooden, Anastascio!”

To the top of the rankings, to the top of them all
“Now throw a-way, run a-way, and dive for the ball!

We will move like the wind, our runners will fly
And just for balance, we’ll take to the sky!”

So up to the top of the rankings they flew
With a big book of plays, and Brady Quinn too

And then in a twinkling, to the sound of the cleats
The scoring and wins, I forgot past defeats

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney, Coach Weis came with a bound

He was dressed with his rings, and headset to boot
And his clothes were all drenched with Gatorade and soot

A number of victories he carried on his back
And he smiled as he turned and presented a sack --

of trophies -– how they twinkled! Like heaps of gold treasures
His cheeks were like roses, his wisdom past measure

Weis commanded the team on fourth downs to throw
Through hail and through fog, through sleet and through snow

His genius caused points in the forties and fifties,
To hearten alumni and keep our stats spiffy

Weis had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed, like BCS bowl-ful of jelly,

He was chubby and plump, and so sure of himself,
That I cheered when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know, that Ohio State would be dead

He boasted not a word, praise makes not his day
But all now know, for the title we’ll play

And laying a finger to the side of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the rankings we rose

At his departure I heard Trooper McCarthy say;
“If your sleigh flight looks fishy, you’ll be the catch of the day!”

Weis sprang to the roof, to his team gave cheer
And away to a victory in the Fiesta next year;

And I heard him call plays for winning the game
“Merry Christmas to all. And love thee Notre Dame!!!”

Christmas palm trees

I'm heading down to Florida this afternoon, to visit my parents and see the rest of my family for Christmas. I'm sure I'll post during the week, especially as the main bowl events get closer (I'm only 2-2 in my picks right now . . . doh). In the meantime, I should say to all those who keep ending up at my site as a result of Google searches to this effect: I have absolutely no reason to believe Pope Benedict is an Ohio State fan. It must be an urban legend. If the Holy Father is aware enough of any American college football teams to be a fan, then despite the fact that we probably had more Polish immigrant kids than German ones playing for us over the years, I'm sure he'd be a Notre Dame fan. And with that, happy holidays to my readers!

EDIT: I'm now in Florida, and surrounded by an extra three ND alumni in my family. They have informed me that there's a picture -- very clearly Photoshopped -- being widely circulated, that shows Pope Benedict with an Ohio State background. Heresy! I won't link to it. As I said, if the pope loves any American football team, it has to be the Irish. But of course. :)

The panda in winter


They let the panda cub go outside yesterday morning for the first time, where he spent awhile climbing tree limbs. Otherwise, he's been rolling around in a rubber feed tray doing headflips in and out of it. This morning, he got a soccer ball to play with as well, so he batted that around. Some kind of life, n'est-ce pas? I'll just get back to my document review here at home this morning . . . :)

(Photo by the Smithsonian.)

Don't believe DeBeers

I've gone on a rant about inescapable jewelry ads before. With their annoyingly chirpy jingles, they always promise some variation on, "Buy her something shiny and expensive, and she'll love you forever!" Whatever. If a woman really wouldn't love a man unless the shiny rocks were big enough, there probably wasn't much there to begin with. (Jonah Goldberg put it less charitably in his annual shot at Kay Jewellers the other day.) Gifts can definitely be a nice way to say "I love you," but it's not as though there's more love if there's more money involved -- and plenty of sweet, thoughtful gifts don't require trips to Jared's. I know many women really love jewelry -- and if there's a lot of thoughtfulness involved, I suppose I can understand that -- but at least some women don't. And those of us who don't are still a little peeved at DeBeers, who invented the "Diamonds are Forever" slogan in the first place. It's all a big marketing ploy.

Via Family Scholars, another trend story from the NYT about women "who once rigorously avoided a fancy engagement ring," but who, now that they're on their second marriages, "are revising their notions about this classic symbol of commitment and love" -- that is, they're wanting "bigger stones." Let's hope there's an equally increased focus on the marriage, not just the ring, for these new couples the second time around. Oh, well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A jolly sight

Via Amy Welborn, I saw these pictures of Pope Benedict wearing what appears to be a Santa Claus hat. Heh. Apparently it's a traditional hat, and even has a formal name (a "camauro"), but I hadn't seen it before. Merry Christmas to His Holiness!

Heavenly fans

A few people have landed at my site recently by searching for Ohio State vs. Notre Dame jokes. I'm not sure why Google led them here (and I'm not sure really how many of those jokes exist), but in the event, I'll post one that was recently forwarded to me:

After OSU Coach Jim Tressel passes away and enters the pearly gates, God takes him on a tour. He shows Tressel a little two-bedroom house with a faded OSU banner hanging from the front porch. "This is your home, Coach. Most people don't get their own house up here," God exclaims.

Coach Tressel looks at the house, then turns around and looks at the one sitting on the top of the hill behind him. It's a huge two-story mansion with white marble columns and little patios under all of the windows. Notre Dame flags line both sides of the sidewalk with a huge blue and gold University of Notre Dame banner hanging between the marble columns.

"Thanks for the home, God, but let me ask you a question," says Coach Tressel. "I get this little two bedroom house with a faded OSU banner and Charlie Weis gets a mansion with new Notre Dame banners and ND flags flying all over the place. Why is that?"

God looks at him seriously for a moment and then replies, "That's not Charlie's house, that's Mine!"

This also makes me think of Lou Holtz's response to the question of why ND fans should think that Jesus cares about our team any more than any other. Holtz's quick reply is always, "We don't . . . but we think his mother might!" :)

Self-selection

On Sunday, the Post Magazine had an extensive cover story about a same-sex couple who, "after years of hiding their love," were comfortably 'out' in their town, "until Virginia's lawmakers chased them across the Potomac." So what did those discriminatory lawmakers actually do? A little less than chasing people out of the state, to be sure; but they did pass a Defense of Marriage Act that made this couple sufficiently upset and concerned as to move north to Frederick, MD. The story is almost entirely sympathetic to the couple and their sad departure from their adopted hometown to a new one, but ends with an optimistic scene from a Unitarian Universalist church and the couple heading "out into the autumn sunshine."

Well, all right. The story, though a soft-focus character study, may be newsworthy in that migration to perceived more-liberal states could be a real phenomenon among gay couples. Yet consider this sharp comment from the next day's online chat with the author, which comment does a lot to illuminate a bit of the bias here:

I look forward to your follow-up article in which you spend 8-10 pages describing Heterosexual couples who decided to either stay in VA or move there because they were comfortable with the defense of marriage amendment. Please be sure to include less than a page from people opposed to the amendment, so as to be as evenhanded and fair as you were in yesterday's article.

Is it even imaginable that a publication like the Post's would do such an extensive cover story, casting a family like this in a favorable light with little perspective given from the other side? I find it difficult to believe so, based on years of reading one type of story and almost none of the other. Were one to be written, it would almost certainly be done with the "Conservatives in the Mist" approach that the MSM seems so often to take.

To a larger point, as I suggested above, it might be newsworthy to report on this type of movement if such movement was reported in both directions. Stories about the red state/blue state divide are plentiful enough, but it is interesting to wonder, what does it portend for us if we continue to split between the coasts and the "fly-over" country? Unless it was absolutely necessary, I'm sure I would never raise my family in San Francisco (despite my still-persistent partiality to the 49ers) or Massachusetts. I'm all for "engaging the culture," but when it comes to where my children would be in public schools, I wouldn't care to have them in a state where middle-school teachers happily talk about sex toys. Conversely, I've no doubt the gay couple with "their" two-year-old daughter by a surrogate mother would be less than thrilled to live in Mobile. That's not surprising; it's the divide we're currently living in many places, though the discussion is far from settled in many other states. In any event, if I do catch the Post writing an equally sympathetic story from the opposite perspective, I'll be sure to post it.

A thank you to our troops

This week is Thank a Soldier Week, organized by Townhall.com and given public support by celebrities like Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss at the recent Country Music Awards. More than 37,000 people so far have taken this opportunity to send a message of support and thanks to our troops, particularly those currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd like to join them and express my gratitude toward all those who are sacrificing so much for our country, making it safer by promoting democracy and fighting terrorism around the world.


Also, do go see the sweet picture posted at The Anchoress, who has several good links up. And visit Operation Iraqi Children to see a great example of a charitable organization that is helping soldiers connect with kids.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Planned Priorities

Now here's a headline: "Groups concerned by grants promoting pregnancy over abortion." Horrors! Childbirth over abortion? Well, actually, it sounds like a great idea. The AP reports that the Texas legislature has voted to award $5 million in grants to crisis pregnancy centers, which offer support to women facing difficult pregnancies and encourage them to choose life for their children. It would seem to be difficult to object to a policy favoring life over death -- even the Supreme Court's messed-up jurisprudence on the matter of abortion allows for this -- but NARAL and Planned Parenthood are unhappy anyway. They seem to be concerned that by helping CPCs, the state is implying that abortion might not be an equally morally good choice for pregnant women. That is, of course, what the state is implying; it also happens to be true. Here's one specific complaint, though:

Abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood complain the program will divert money from health clinics that often serve poor women to groups whose primary goal to persuade women from having abortions.

It's an interesting dichotomy, but not that valid. CPCs serve many poor women as well -- since poor women have disproportionate numbers of abortions, as I have written about in the past, they are a particularly vulnerable population. But while Planned Parenthood may say they also want to serve the poor, they actually have a vested interest in continuing to exploit the poor. PP is now responsible for almost 1 in 5 abortions in America -- more than a quarter million in 2004. That number of abortions is about 140 times more than the number of people they referred to adoption agencies. And it means more money for the quite profitable group. In 2003-2004, it's a reasonable estimate that Planned Parenthood took in $100 million, a third of its clinic income, just from abortions. While state money might not be able to be used directly for these, PP does benefit from government money. If PP is really upset that crisis pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and support to women, should be receiving any money, it says more about their true concerns (profiting from abortion) than they think.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fiesta-sphere

I pulled a few links up from my "Notre Dame" section and added some others to a Fiesta Bowl section on the left. (The rest of my Notre Dame links are still in that section, though.) Should provide good insight (or better, entertainment) until the actual game. To start, this post by Teds at BGS gives an exhaustive breakdown of the Buckeyes this year and some keys to the game for the Irish.

Whose cause is it anyway

Nice one from The Onion this week taking on my favorite Irish rock band:

Rest Of U2 Perfectly Fine With Africans Starving

SAN FRANCISCO—Rock band U2, currently on tour in North America, is well-known for its human-rights advocacy, particularly its ongoing campaign to eradicate poverty in Africa. Less known to fans of the Irish supergroup, however, is that the lion's share of these efforts are made by lead singer Bono. The three other U2 members are perfectly okay with the dismal plight of Africa's poor.

More motivation, Weis-style

From the man who promised to bring a "nasty" style of football to Notre Dame, Charlie Weis is now also talking about "humiliation" -- but not of opponents, of his own guys:

Ohio State, in itself, should command Notre Dame's undivided attention, but Weis always keeps psychological ammunition in his hip pocket.

Seven straight bowl losses? Perfect for challenging their pride in a program they have worked to rebuild.

"I think it gives you a great opportunity to humiliate them," Weis said, his feigned fidgeting transformed now into a fiendish grin, "and I think I'm really looking forward to that."

For all his celebrated X-ing and O-ing, Weis relishes that more visceral element of preparation.

I do think it's better to have the humiliation before the game, used as an incentive to keep ND's focus on preparing for the Bucks, than afterwards. Right? So while our bowl game losing streak is "otherwise irrelevant to the Fiesta Bowl," if it helps with inspiration, I'm all for it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Fresh Aire Document Review


In addition to some other projects, I've been working on a document review for the last few months. The review shifted into higher gear this past week, though, so that's been taking up my time (including a few dozen hours this weekend) almost exclusively. At least I can do most of it from my computer, so in the evenings I've been working from my couch next to the Christmas tree, with the Charlie Brown Christmas and Mannheim Steamroller CDs playing in the background. This is the first year I've had my own Christmas tree and it was a lot of fun decorating, so I'm determined to enjoy it as much as I can while coding. Merry Christmas :) (And yes, if you look closely at the picture, that is Darth Tater next to the tree.)

Let's send it down to Jack Aroo

This was just forwarded to me -- I wasn't sure where it was from, so I googled it and it looks like it's from a Fanblogs post earlier this season. Now that another Ohio State game is coming up for him to broadcast, and given my loathing of his announcing style, I have to link to the Brent Musburger drinking game, complete with a warning to "Play at your own risk. It is conceivable your whole party will be passed out with 8 mins remaining in the 1st quarter." Heheh. A sampling:

Rule #3: "It's a foot race!". Whenever Brent says "It's a foot race" everyone has to finish their drink. The first one done becomes "That Man" and gets to punch the Pardner in the arm.

Rule #6: "Jack Arute". Whenever Brent says "Our ol' buddy Jack Arute" everyone has to say "AROOOOOOT!" Last one to do it has to do a shot. If everyone does it simultaneously, the Pardner must do a shot.

Rule #11: "The Major". If Brent has a pet nickname for one of the players during the game, for example calling Major Applewhite "The Major", everyone must drink 5 anytime Brent uses this nickname. However, "Gary, my man" does not drink but gets to give away 5 drinks since this person already has a nickname of their own.

Rule #12: "John Saunders". The first time Brent quips with John Saunders, everyone must drink 1. The next time, everyone must drink 2, and so on and so on.

Every time he fawns over an Ohio State player (as one commenter pointed out, Andy Katzenmoyer remains a favorite) or says "folks," but particularly, every time he goes to Jack Arute (I swear it sounds like "Aroo") I roll my eyes and hit the mute button. It would be nice if the Westwood One or other radio broadcast were in sync with my TV for the games Musburger is on, but the few times I've tried to watch games that way it never matches up. *Grumble.*

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bowl motivations

Here is the AP article on Notre Dame's return to the BCS. It quotes Brady Quinn (like me, from Dublin, Ohio) confirming the experience of growing up Irish in Columbus:

"Being a Notre Dame fan in Columbus was kind of hard, especially two years back-to-back like that," he said.

Yep. The article also notes the rather embarrassing fact that "the Irish have lost seven straight bowl games: the Fiesta Bowl to end the 1994 and 2000 seasons, the Orange Bowl to end the 1995 season, the Independence Bowl to end the 1997 season, the Gator Bowl to end the 1998 and 2002 seasons, and the Insight Bowl in Phoenix last year" -- an ignoble streak, to be sure. Quinn again: "That's something that obviously needs to end." That would be nice.

Irish in Ohio, or: A personal history of the series

My dad grew up listening to Notre Dame football games on the radio from his home in Miami (that's Florida, to my Ohio friends), before he went there and promptly became the biggest Notre Dame fan anyone who knows him has ever met. With that parentage, our family could never be anything but Irish. When we moved from Atlanta to Columbus when I was ten, however, it became clear there was a bigger game in town. We were surrounded by tens of thousands of Ohio State graduates, students, and fans, and almost every single one of them had an inherent dislike of Domers. Here's the story of the last time our teams met, as my family experienced it and as I wrote about it for the ND student magazine my freshman year:

Things came to a head in 1995, when the Irish came to Columbus for the first time in about 60 years. Now, the city paper, the Dispatch, rarely deigns to write about Notre Dame, but the week of this game stories were all over the paper. Notre Dame had won the two games in the '30s, creating, according to the paper, "ghosts that had annoyed and haunted generations of Buckeye fans." The humiliation of being on the short side of a 2-0 series record still smarted, and the team was aching for revenge.

They got it. My parents were downtown at the game along with a smattering of other loyal Irish fans, but they were lost in that sea of 100,000 red shirts. I was watching the game at home, and as the game progressed and ND fumbled it away in the third quarter, I kept hearing strange noises outside my house: hammering. Lots of it. My neighbor (we'll call him Joe) walked through the house a few times, looking around speculatively. "Joe?" I said a bit nervously. "What are you doing, Joe?" "Where's the garage door opener?" he replied. Followed by: "Do you guys have any extra nails?"

I ventured outside when the construction noises stopped. Our Notre Dame flag had been taken down, replaced by an OSU one. Blinking red Christmas tree lights hung on the bushes. The score had been chalked onto our driveway. Black sheets hung from the garage doors reading, "Quiet please. In mourning." Candles in Ohio State paper bags lined the driveway. And as my parents drove up the street, there were lots of neighbors from up and down the street standing and watching with their arms crossed, nodding approvingly at the redecorating efforts.

The next year the game was played in South Bend. Unfortunately, it was another loss for ND, and the neighbors outdid themselves this time. When we returned home from out of town the next day, we found that in addition to the lights, flag, and score (this time colorfully spray-painted on the lawn), there were also now cardboard tombstones. "R.I.P. ND '96," they announced, and "Here lie the Irish, dead and gone." Black crepe paper was draped on the mailbox and front door. The TV van pulled up a few minutes later.

On the local news that night, after the requisite story about OSU students overturning cars and burning couches in celebration, the anchors turned to the story of the ND alum, my father, who had returned from out of town that day. "He's a huge Notre Dame fan," the voice-over reported as the camera pulled back from the sticker on his car to reveal the mock graveyard. The scene shifted to Joe the neighbor. "He's just so arrogant about it," he said of my father in a long-suffering tone. "It's always 'Notre Dame this' and 'Notre Dame that.'"

"So he asked for this?" confirmed the reporter with a grin.

"Every day he asks for this," nodded Joe.

My father started laughing, knowing secretly that the arrogance was justified, seeing as he'd gone to, unquestionably, the best school in the country. He got in the last word, too, when the eternal reporter question, "How do you feel about this?" was put to him. "Oh, there's no hard feelings. I just find it sad, you know, that this football game means so much to Ohio State fans," he said regretfully, forgetting, of course, that had Notre Dame won, all of us Irish fans would have lorded it over the city for weeks, maybe even years. "I mean, people, come on. Get a life."

I don't mean to suggest there aren't nice students at or graduates of Ohio State out of the hundreds of thousands in the city; I personally know three or four of them. (Joke! I am one now, of course.) It was just that the only way we could have been more anathema as football fans in Ohio would have been to be from Michigan. Fortunately, fans of ND and OSU will always have at least that one thing in common: opposition to the Blue.

Addendum: When I decided to return to Columbus after college to attend OSU for law school, my parents never heard the end of it. It turned out it was a pretty nice place to go to school, though, and I had a great experience at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. It would have been convenient if I had been a fan of the football team, also, since they did win the National Championship my 1L year (a fact which you can never, ever escape in Columbus, particularly if you fly through the airport where the game is on a constant loop in the fan shop). However, I came to the school with my football allegiances too well set to become a Buckeye fan. In 1999, I wrote that if we ever faced OSU again or were in a BCS game, I thought I would go into hiding. Well, here we are, and I've rethought my position, although it might be made easier by the fact that after 15 years I'm no longer resident in Buckeye Central. Be that as it may, no hiding here. I think the Irish can handle the Bucks this year, and I look forward to seeing the Irish prove it on the field next month. I say, bring it on.

¡Fiesta dos mil seis!

Well, it's official: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl on January 2. The teams have met four times in the past, twice in the 1930s and twice in the 1990s, with the series split 2-2. You might not think that makes for a serious rivalry, but if you think that, you've never lived in Columbus.* I'll be following the run-up to the game over the next month, but first, go back a few weeks and read about Stewart Mandel's encounter with obsessive fans of The Ohio State University here, including his opinion at the time of both teams:

All right, I can't take it any more -- what's wrong with you Ohio State people? Honestly? Do you have nothing better to do with your time than play the "my two-loss team is better than your two-loss team" game? This is like arguing over the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

We're basically splitting hairs here, but if you want my honest opinion: Ohio State is the more talented team, but in the Buckeyes' two biggest games of the season, I watched as their offense -- at the direction of their coaches -- curled into the fetal position. In Notre Dame's biggest game of the season, Charlie Weis showed no fear whatsoever against the No. 1 team in the country. When the Irish fell behind 28-24 with 5:09 left, Quinn promptly drove them 87 yards and dove for the go-ahead touchdown. When Ohio State fell behind Texas 23-22 with 2:37 remaining, Buckeyes QB Justin Zwick promptly fumbled. Down seven to Penn State in the final minutes, Troy Smith fumbled.

Mandel did add that "since that Penn State game, Smith and the OSU offense have been among the most explosive in the country," and after the Michigan game and other subsequent events, the Bucks did finish fourth in the national rankings. However, changing his opinion of the teams' rankings didn't stop Mandel from calling Buckeye fans "the craziest fans in the land." This is true. This will be demonstrated amply over the next month, I'm sure. But the ultimate outcome is going to be that despite Jim Tressel's recent successes in Tempe, the Irish are going to walk out January 2 with the win. Go Irish.

*Stories to follow.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hook 'em

According to CBS Gametracker, Texas is up 42-3 at the half, and this game is shaping up to be even more of a rout than October's. Unless Colorado somehow acquires an offense in the next twenty minutes. Or, you know, a defense. Right. That leaves USC to do its thing against the Bruins so we can have the definitive Young-Bush matchup in January, along with that ever-more-likely-seeming Notre Dame-Ohio State game. As far as I know, I'm the only blogger from both places. Is anyone else out there?

In the meantime, very cool speech from Lou Holtz at last night's football banquet (complete with jokes, praise for Our Lady's University, and a nice little dig at Mark May), posted at BGS; and a post from Fanblogs looking at the merits of Oregon and Ohio State from Fiesta's perspective. Comments contain ample amounts of Irish love and hate.

EDIT: Looks like there's another "Irish Buckeye" out there, a 2L at ND Law School, Alex of Arguend-Ho. Check out his blog -- I'm sorry I missed it before :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

BCS chaos theory

Stewart Mandel plays a game of what-if in his column this week, that is: what if Texas loses to Colorado? What if USC loses to UCLA? What if they both lose?

Not gonna happen, says Mandel. But aren't the scenarios fun to work out? The permutations would result in Notre Dame playing either Va. Tech or West Virginia. If the butterfly doesn't flap its wings, though, everyone seems to agree we'll be playing Ohio State. I'm sure others will do much better breakdowns of the matchups than I could, so I'll just share my instinctive feeling that I would much rather play Ohio State than Virginia Tech. Sure, Charlie can study Miami's game plan against the Hokies and might be able to replicate it, but they still strike me as more dangerous than even the peaking Troy Smith or (Brent Musberger's favorite) Santonio Holmes. Hmm.

Chesterton confusion

Random thought: Whenever Mark Shea posts a quote (here, for example) from G.K. "Prophet" Chesterton (as Mark calls him), I always find myself impressed with Chesterton's writing and prescience. However, I'm currently struggling through Orthodoxy, and finding it a mostly painful experience. Chesterton has an odd way of drawing analogies and his examples usually don't work for me. He's not nearly as clear an apologist, or as straightforward a read, as C.S. Lewis. Is it just me?

Three abortions before lunch

. . . and three after, for three decades, and pretty soon you've personally destroyed the lives of more than 20,000 unborn children. A tidy operation, and a nice way to make a living. In this LA Times article (I waited until it was printed not behind a firewall), Stephanie Simon writes about Arkansas abortionist William Harrison, who in the course of his career has killed more than three times as many babies as he's delivered. Lest there be a quibble with my phrasing, Harrison himself says he's an "abortionist," and admits freely that he's "destroying life." Both of these things are true. Then, in a perverse inversion of the evangelical Christian meaning of "born again," Harrison believes his patients are born again after their unborn children are gone: "When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back," he says. But this is false. Harrison never claims any women he's performed abortions on had life-threatening conditions, so their actual lives would have continued if their children had been born. Even if Harrison means "life" in the sense of "lifestyle," as he more presumably does, it may be true in the short term, but for millions of women the severe spiritual and emotional (and even physical) damage that comes with the knowledge, whether it hits immediately or decades later, of having chosen to end the lives of their own children will take years to heal. The women (and some men) of After Abortion or Silent No More testify to this every day as they try to help others with healing. (Project Rachel also ministers to women.)

Harrison's morality is monstrous enough (and a nice example of the kinds of people Roe v. Wade requires states to allow to "practice"), but the snapshots of the women coming into his Arkansas clinic are also depressing. So many women in this country have chosen, some freely but many not, this unnatural path. Estimates are that a quarter of all women will have an abortion at some point in their lives, ending one out of every four pregnancies in this country: that's around 40,000,000 abortions and counting at this point, an entire generation. Who are these women? We've seen a lot of testimony in the media in particular over the past year, including the woman who didn't want to have to shop at Costco and the woman who wanted a genetically perfect infant. In this story, we also get "Sarah, who works in real estate, [and] was in the midst of planning her wedding. 'I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there,' she says."

More, though, we've seen the fear and regret, the emotional confusion, the having to actively work to overcome the hesitations of conscience, and the desperate attempts to believe that this isn't their own baby, that this is just the best way for everyone (not just themselves). In this story:

The 17-year-old in for a consultation this morning assures the nurse that she does not consider the embryo inside her a baby. "Not until it's developed," she says. "That would be about three months?"

"It's completely formed about nine weeks," the nurse tells her. "Yours is more like a chicken yolk."

The girl, who is five weeks pregnant, looks relieved. "Then no," she says, "it's not a baby." Her mother sits in the corner wiping her tears. . . .

[An 18-year-old with "tears rolling down her cheeks"] is not yet sure, she says, how she is doing emotionally. She feels guilty, sad and relieved, all in a jumble.

"There's things wrong with abortion," she says. "But I want to have a good life. And provide a good life for my child." To keep this baby now, she says, when she's single, broke and about to start college, "would be unfair."

These stories are terrible. The 17-year-old and her weeping mother were simply lied to, as the nurse equated the girl's baby to a chicken yolk: her five-week-old unborn child already had a heartbeat. If she waited another week to schedule the actual abortion, her baby would have formed more of his internal organs, a little nose, and had his arms and legs grow a bit more and his eyebuds appear. I wouldn't count on that information to matter a whit to Dr. Harrison and his thriving business, but women should know, so that they will be able to take responsibility and give their children the gift of life, instead of taking life away.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This was the first year I haven't been with my family for the holiday, but my boyfriend's extended family welcomed me to their dinner, which made for a very nice day. The only thing is, I usually eat so well when I'm at his relatives' house that Thanksgiving dinner didn't seem like any more or different food, except there was turkey instead of steaks. The salsa music was also a nice touch :)

At Mass this morning the priest read a section from Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation, with its powerful reminder that we have so much to be thankful for in this country even when times are difficult; and they were never more difficult than in the middle of our own brutal civil war:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God . . .

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Auspicious numbers

I just got hit with several projects on deadline, but I will definitely post over the holiday. In the meantime, Mike at BGS points out that Jeff Samardzija is oh-so-close to having a 1,000-yard season (and Maurice Stovall looks pretty good as well):

As of the close of the Syracuse game, Biletnikoff finalist Jeff Samardzija has 999 receiving yards on the year. With just one more yard, he will become Notre Dame's first 1,000-yard receiver in thirty-five years. Maurice Stovall is not far behind with 887 yards, and Anthony Fasano has 545 yards. In twelve games last year, only Rhema McKnight (610) and Matt Shelton (515) had more than 400 yards receiving.

The reminders of how much ND has not been a passing team over its history keep surprising me. It's fantastic that Quinn just broke 3,000 yards for the season, or that we've scored over 30 points a record eight straight games, but it seems someone else should have done that at some point. I have a feeling it will be a trend, though, under Weis - they're going to need to keep updating the record books.

ALSO: What is this about a possible ND-OSU Fiesta matchup? Oh, man. (The South Bend Trib had a better story on the subject, but they just redesigned their site to make it even less accessible, it seems.) Well, I can't say I'd be unhappy for the Irish to have the chance to make up for the 1995-96 debacles . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sportswriting and revisionism

When things are bad, they go to worse. Or not. The former seemed to be the right summation for a few teams last weekend (Niners, Eagles), but on the other hand a few teams who have not looked steady this season came up with wins (Packers, Vikings). And the Steelers and Colts won as usual. So there's no great lesson that applies to everyone in the NFL. Which, tangentially, gets me to a point I was musing about the other day: do you ever, while watching games, mentally compose and revise the write-up as the games progress? Maybe that's the would-be AP sports reporter in me, or just a reflection on the predictably formulaic nature of game recaps, but I often find myself watching games and thinking of the (contrary) different ways it could be recorded once everything's in the books. Two examples from this weekend would be in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Watching the Philly game and the way McNabb seemed to be having few problems moving his offense (coupled with the utter ineptitude of the Bledsoe-led Cowboys), I (and probably the actual reporters) had the narrative taking shape in my head: "Determined to prove to themselves and the world that they don't need Terrell Owens to win, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles dispatched Dallas with clean efficiency Monday night." On the other hand, on that first Dallas drive, with its 60-yard completion to Keyshawn Johnson, the first sentence in my mind looked something like it eventually would once the Cowboys did win: "Sweeping the division rivalry this season for the first time in years, the Cowboys jumped into a tie in first place in the NFC East and left the Eagles reeling." Similar with the Bucs game. Watching the game-breaking two-point attempt, I could write the two possible lead-ins: either along the lines of "With a gutsy call, Jon Gruden shocked the Redskins Sunday," or else, "Washington held on Sunday for a close victory, and a share of the division lead, after stuffing Mike Alstott on a late two-point conversion attempt."

All right, maybe that's just me, but I do find it an entertaining mental exercise sometimes. A quarterback's great play is either the impressive key to victory, or a valiant display in a losing effort. The goal-line stand is either what won the game, or "ultimately, it wasn't enough to stop" the other team. The same series can be spun in completely different ways depending on the outcome, and it's up to the writers to frame things.

Faces of abortion

Amy Welborn links to this Post article, with the note: "Read it and weep for the baby - for all the babies." It's hard to do otherwise.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Behold the Irish offense

The South Bend Trib has a nice write-up of the way the Irish offense has been shredding team records this year:

In dismissing Navy (5-4) Saturday for the NCAA-record 42nd straight year, the Irish cracked the 500-yard mark in total offense (505) for the sixth time this season, tying Ara Parseghian's 1970 team's record, and surpassed the 40-point plateau for the sixth time, tying another school record shared now by the 1991 and '92 squads.

With two games left to play, the team has scored more points and gained more yards than over the entire season for each of the past five years. Quinn has thrown more touchdowns this year than the whole team scored in 2001, 2002 and 2003 combined. What's fantastic to see each week - what makes football Saturdays fun this year as opposed to the last few - is the consistency and the way that this team can get the job done running, passing, or with a balance of both. The last few weeks alone have proven that: Stuff the box with eight men, and we'll throw on every down. Blitz, and Quinn will dump off quick passes. Don't blitz, and he'll have so much time he can throw to his fifth read. Double up on Jeff Samardzija, and Maurice Stovall will catch three touchdowns. Drop more men back in coverage on all receivers, and Darius Walker will have another 100-yard game. And, for good measure, if you slow down the offense for a spell, Zbikowski will score on defense or special teams.

I love being in the top ten and feeling like we belong there.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Baby bear

How cute is this bear? I ought to be over my addiction to the National Zoo's Panda Cam, but like most addictions (others of mine include U2 music, Dr Pepper, and popcorn), this one is hard to kick. Today the panda cub, who's still figuring out how to walk smoothly, discovered how to stand up on his hind legs. He then promptly fell over backwards, but unbothered, he just spent awhile rolling around on his back. He also climbed up on the exhibit rocks for the first time I've seen. He fell off the rocks too, but still wasn't fazed. Later he climbed up on his mother's back, until she stood up and tossed him off. At that point, he sprawled on his back a bit, curled up, and finally fell asleep. It's very entertaining stuff. Should be fun to get to see the cub in person when the exhibits open up in December.

(Photo copyright Smithsonian Institute and used under fair use provisions.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In honor of pork

Great column today from Richard Cohen (I don't think I find myself saying that much) in the Washington Post, mocking Senator Stevens's recent impassioned defense of the bloated appropriation of $250 million dollars for a Bridge to Nowhere. Cohen dreams of a statue (of a man feeding pigs, he suggests) being erected in Washington to memorialize how Stevens "turned the issue into one of virtual civil rights," and even "that he was the first senator in American history to take himself hostage." Heh.

Bad trends on STDs

Background to this post is Eugene Volokh's post here on the thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of cases of infertility caused annually by STDs; Chris Geidner's and my almost simultaneous responses to Volokh's claimed lack of moral objection to casual or promiscuous sex (each of us taking somewhat different views, though agreeing that we were concerned about STDs themselves); and finally Chris's response to me. Key points: I wrote, "I think real sex education must deal with a complete understanding of the best context for sexual relationships, in terms of not just physical but also emotional, psychological, relational, and yes, even spiritual health. Sex is just about the most intimate relationship two people can have, and when it is abused or treated casually . . . , it frequently has negative consequences." Chris wondered:

IL wrote them, however, so she saw those words as supporting her preference for abstinence-only education.Also, as IL is the author, those ellipses are important. They represent a parenthetical -- "(or even taken seriously and well-meaningly, but still done outside of marriage)." IL, as we all know, strongly opposes marriage equality. As such, the parenthetical gives essential insight to a phrase in the first sentence of the above-quoted paragraph: "the best context for sexual relationships."

Is IL writing that sex education is only "complete" if homosexuality is excluded?

The short answer to that question is yes, I don't think there is a place in high school (or younger) sex education for homosexuality, in any kind of normalizing discussion there. My parenthetical was mainly intended to refer, however, to those many, many well-meaning people who take sex seriously and don't "sleep around" in any kind of promiscuous way - only having sex with the few serious significant others in their lives - who nevertheless are not waiting for marriage to one single person (the best overall context for this kind of intimate expression) and who often still are seriously hurt.

To the news that prompted the instant post: the other day the CDC posted new statistics on the STD infection rate last year, noting that while gonorrhea infections fell (to "only" 330,000 last year), both chlamydia and syphilis are on the rise. The increase in syphilis is attributed mainly to the cyclical nature of the disease and risky gay male sexual behavior. For chlamydia, almost 1 million new cases were reported last year alone, with the CDC suggesting the number could really be almost three times greater. The last news in the survey was that the CDC doesn't even bother to track new cases of herpes and HPV because they're so common, implying that there are, at least, more than a million new cases of each every year. They may be common, but they can be even more devastating diseases, as HPV is linked to causing cervical cancer and those 600,000 new cases of mostly female infertility every year.

This is what sex outside of marriage results in for millions of people in this country every year, to say nothing of emotional, psychological, or spiritual damage that can be done. (Also to say nothing of the newly-higher 35% rate of out-of-wedlock births, plus our still close-to-a-million abortions per year.) I'm pretty sure most of these people didn't somehow miss the "safe sex" message we're all taught in school, either; that is, I think it can be assumed that many people who have sex outside of marriage aren't being promiscuous, are using condoms or other contraception, are taking sex seriously . . . and yet for millions of them anyway, they're going to end up with new lives (frequently aborted or born into situations in which they'll never know their own mother and father) or with incurable sexually transmitted diseases, some of which may rob them of their fertility, their health, even their lives.

The best way to avoid the heartache and physical and other damage is to save sex for its ideal context: marriage. That doesn't include homosexual 'marriage' because I don't believe there's any context that legitimizes those forms of sex, which is an inexcusable belief to many but one that, in keeping with my understanding of the right nature of sexuality, I hold. And the best way to live outside of marriage - straight or gay - is chastely. I think we should always be seeking to cultivate strong relationships in our lives since they can enrich us immeasurably; but sex should be reserved for marriage, and unfortunately while our society doesn't accept that proposition we will continue to read of these staggering statistics every year.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

T.O. in limbo

I've been watching Terrell Owens since he came into the league with the Niners, as the intended eventual replacement for Jerry Rice as the team's primary receiver. He was always a talented receiver, but pretty early on showed impatience that the team didn't sufficiently "recognize" his superior skills. When a guy starts insulting Hall of Famers like Jerry Rice and Steve Young, it's a sure sign he's got an over-inflated sense of self. And that's the way it's been from the beginning - the immaturity of the man is just unbelievable. I can think really of only one instance where I really thought Owens got the game's meaning: when he caught the winning TD pass from Young in the team's 1999 playoff victory over Green Bay, holding desperately onto the ball as he was instantly smashed by about three players at once (aside to my reader who watched that game with me: no, Rice did not fumble earlier in the drive!). Back to T.O.: he'd dropped a few passes earlier in the game and this catch made up for, and I think he was sobbing in the end zone. Moments like that are a lot of what football's about.

But for Owens, it was never enough. He was never appreciated enough, people never paid enough attention to him - and even if they did, he couldn't resist insulting his teammates, particularly the quarterbacks and coaches who, one would think, would be important in actually getting him playing time and the ball. Even when you could grin at the Sharpie or the pom-poms, even as you had to admire Owens's sheer ability as a receiver, Owens was poison to his teams. I couldn't have much sympathy for a man who would go out of his way to publically denigrate classy guys like Steve Mariucci and Donovan McNabb. Owens may have over 100 touchdowns, but he's also an immature jerk, and he's finally talked himself out of probably the best job he was ever likely to have. (Although as Deadspin notes, his obnoxious agent helped him out.) After all that, I still can't quite say "good riddance," but maybe getting fired will finally wake Owens up to the fact that in the adult world, actions have consequences.

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli thinks Owens will land with another team, dismissing the likes of Oakland as possibilities, but suggesting New Orleans, Miami, or Denver. Owens catching passes from Gus Frerotte? Have fun.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

No such thing as a "good" divorce

The Institute for American Values' Elizabeth Marquardt has been getting a lot of attention for her new book Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce. Today she had a great op-ed on the subject in the Washington Post, and it's worth reading the whole thing. Marquardt, herself a child of divorce, conducted a research study of over a thousand young adults from divorced and intact families to find out what they had to say. As she points out, the whole myth of the good divorce is one based not on children's actual feelings or experiences, but one which is designed to assauge parental guilt. Minimize conflict, respect the other parent in front of your children, don't drag children into parental disputes - these are markers of the "good" divorce, but as Marquardt sensibly asks, if parents can manage to do all of these things after a divorce, why can't they work on doing them within their marriage and save the kids (and themselves) the heartaches and unnecessary challenges? Most divorces end low-conflict marriages, where the husband or wife merely feel bored, frustrated, or disillusioned; relatively few divorces actually end high-conflict or abusive marriages. Marquardt's research demonstrates that when parents give up on making all the little compromises that are part of the day-to-day experience of two people building a life together, the task falls to their kids, who often feel they have to become, essentially, two different people under the two different households they now must navigate (every-other-day-and-alternate-Thursdays, or whatever arrangement is designed). It's been rather fashionable for the last 30 or 40 years to denigrate the notion of "staying together for the kids," but aren't they worth it? Listening to their voices should be enough to convince us how much it matters.

I recently wrote more about divorce here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quick thoughts

- It's frustrating when the major news of the day happens at 8 a.m. and I can't really blog at work. Granted, that's a self-imposed restriction, but I have to think it's generally a prudent one. Well, I suppose it checks the tendency to fire off more impulsive posts throughout the work day.

- Speaking of getting home a bit later, I think I was too late for Halloween yesterday. I don't like Halloween that much myself, but I had bought several bags of candy for any trick or treaters in my apartment complex last night. I only had two little kids come to the door (one was Batman, the other possibly a cowboy). At least they were cute. They got a lot of my candy.

- On football: It can be fun to watch Jerome Bettis, can't it? He only had 22 yards last night in Pittsburgh, but 11 of them came on a nice first down run on the Steelers' efficient game-winning drive, and Bettis bounced back up after each run. After so many years, he's still a significant player on that team. Of course, it does help to have a cool new second-year QB wonder in Roethlisberger.

- And Charlie Weis affirmed his commitment to the Irish last week by signing a major contract extension that will keep him in South Bend through his son's college education. Excellent news. For anyone who might still be inclined to wonder snidely why Willingham did not get a similar contract after his 8-0 start in 2003, Jay Mariotti at the Sun-Times spells it out in an article that otherwise does have some snide elements, but contains this true statement: basically, "he is far inferior to Weis in most coaching facets." BGS had more here.

- I'll be at a law firm retreat for new associates this week through Friday, but it's in town so I should be able to stop by a computer at random intervals. Check out Confirm Them for Alito news and commentary, and the occasional song and poem parody (as the NYT noted this morning - cool). Have a good Tuesday!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Exit Miers, enter Alito

In the face of the Harriet Miers nomination, I felt disappointed, unhappy, and frustrated at the needless split within the conservative movement that the president had provoked. With so many strong, proven, articulate proponents of originalism out there (on the federal bench and elsewhere), why would the president go with a nominee with no real record - in written opinions, essays, talks, or even conversations with friends - of ever having thought seriously about constitutional issues? Even so, I said I would reserve judgment, and repeatedly over the course of the past month I almost resigned myself to the likelihood that Miers would be confirmed. And then almost every day would bring a new reminder of why this battle mattered, and why Miers wasn't the right pick. I was surprised, but very relieved, when pressure from many conservatives - and real reservations expressed by senators from both parties - actually resulted in Miers withdrawing her name from consideration. I wish her the best of luck, and I appreciate her graciousness in withdrawing. She simply wasn't the best person for this job.

Judge Alito, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of pick conservatives have been hoping for, and with his nomination this morning, everything is happily back to normal in Washington. People for the American Way and NARAL are hyperventilating, Senators Kennedy and Reid are disappointed and find Alito extreme and radical, and on the other side conservatives are almost uniformly jubilant about the choice. What's nice to see is that Judge Alito has the kind of record that would make it hard to justify obstruction of his nomination. He's garnered statements of praise and admiration from people on both sides of the aisle, including Senator Kennedy himself (well, that was 15 years ago when Alito was unanimously confirmed to the Third Circuit . . . but we can use it). Thanks to the president for getting it right this time. I look forward to seeing Justice Alito confirmed.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ohio bar

Just wanted to wish good luck to my friends in Ohio who are supposed to receive their bar results tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No more records for Powlus

On a much less serious note, the South Bend Tribune notes that any Notre Dame passing records held by Ron Powlus are not long for the record books. Brady Quinn is likely to shatter Powlus's numbers for TD passes, yards, attempts and completions -- he's only six shy of the TD number and 900 yards away from the yardage total, which, when you can throw for 467 yards and six touchdowns in one game, doesn't seem far away at all. Quinn still has four games and a whole season ahead of him. If all or even most of the games are as fun to watch as last Saturday's, it will be a great couple of seasons. It's also gratifying to see what a serious offensive coach can do with his talent.

As for the rest of the ND offensive records being set this year, Bill at Bare Down runs down the list against BYU alone, and neatly summarizes our new coach's strategy: "Weis' methodology is simple: Find out what you do well. Find out what the opposing defense does not do well. Attack. Repeat."

Selling women

I'm usually fairly dismissive of the Lifetime cable channel ("television for women" - not so much) but they are currently running a miniseries called "Human Trafficking," about the global sex slave trade. It's an extremely important topic, and while reviews of the actual script and acting have been mixed, many newspapers are doing their part to publicize the show and its subject matter. The reason is illuminated by a quote from Donald Sutherland's character: you can only sell a given quantity of drugs once, but you can sell women over and over.

Apparently Mira Sorvino works for Amnesty International's campaign to stop violence against women. Good for her. I hope this series helps raise awareness and undermine the idea that "sex work" is a legitimate occupation that is usually entered into voluntarily. It's not, and it's important not to pretend otherwise.

That serious matter of STDs

Eugene Volokh comments on a medical journal article that reports that sexually transmitted diseases caused nearly 30,000 deaths in America in 1998. By way of comparison, he notes that is less than the number of deaths from car accidents and about the same as from suicides. Another finding of the study, though, was that STDs cause 600,000 cases of infertility per year, which just is stunning. It means millions of (mostly) women are faced with infertility that probably wouldn't have occurred in the absence of these diseases. If we wonder what drives part of the demand in the artificial reproductive technology industry (at last count, a $2 billion per year operation), this might help explain. What a terrible loss for so many. Professor Volokh concludes:

I disagree on many things with many of the foes of the Sexual Revolution; I don't have moral objections to casual sex or to promiscuity; and I certainly don't support criminalization of consensual adult sexual behavior. Nonetheless, it seems to me that we need to acknowledge that sexually transmitted disease is a serious matter, and there are real medical costs (as well as real hedonic benefits, plus real hedonic costs) to the glamorization of relatively casual and promiscuous sex that seems present in our culture (though not in all of its subcultures).

Even with his caveats, a lot of the comments section quickly turned towards denunciations of those who do have moral objections to casual sex or to promiscuity, sprinkled with couple of dismissive mentions of the Catholic Church. There are also some efforts, surprisingly to me, to deny the fact of the sexual revolution in the first place -- "Sexual revolution? What revolution? people never had sex before the 60s?"; "which sexual revolution are you talking about?"; "Do you really believe that the "sexual revolution" was responsible for the spread of STDs?"; and so forth. These dismissals have been contradicted by others pointing out, sensibly, that while of course STDs occurred and killed more people historically, sexual activity outside of marriage is more widely accepted, and from younger ages, today in America and the West than before the 1960s.

The CDC has reported that there are currently at least 65 million Americans living with some incurable sexually transmitted disease. It's also said that half of all young people will contract an STD before age 25 in this country. That's an epidemic, and a much more modern one than some would claim. So I agree with Professor Volokh that it needs to be taken seriously.

. . . though I'd probably support different measures to act against the epidemic. I've written before that I support abstinence education, not for any return to some idealized 1950s world (I don't actually have that idealized a view of that time), but because I think real sex education must deal with a complete understanding of the best context for sexual relationships, in terms of not just physical but also emotional, psychological, relational, and yes, even spiritual health. Sex is just about the most intimate relationship two people can have, and when it is abused or treated casually (or even taken seriously and well-meaningly, but still done outside of marriage), it frequently has negative consequences. Schools should emphatically not take the official position that kids are "going to do it anyway" - that's not a foregone conclusion. If we can teach the benefits of waiting versus, in particular, the serious physical and emotional risks of having sex with any more people than the one person you're committed to life for, it would put the education in the right context. And with regard to adults, while there's obviously no way to officially discourage casual sex and promiscuity (nor would that necessarily be desirable), it's never too late to learn the value of chastity, as people like Dawn Eden, La Shawn Barber, or David Morrison have witnessed in their writings. Which is why I and many others will continue to advocate it.

EDIT: Via Ann Althouse, this article gives an interesting perspective on abstinence movements on college campuses.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The party of fiscal non-conservatives

Yesterday the Senate voted on the "Coburn amendments," which would have achieved the laudable goal of cutting spending from the enormous spending appropriations earlier this year, in part by defunding some $400 million dollars from two bridge projects in Alaska; the money would then be reallocated to help the ongoing Katrina rebuilding efforts (including of the main highway leading into New Orleans). One of the bridge projects has been dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere," as it's a $200+ million effort that would benefit . . . exactly 50 people. (At this cost, it's been figured out, you could buy every inhabitant of the island his own personal Lear jet.) So you think the Republicans, at least, might be amenable to this "pork-busting" effort, right?

Not by a long shot. RedState has the blow by blow of the floor proceedings yesterday and the final tally, which records that just two Democrats and thirteen Republicans wanted to avoid throwing away taxpayer money even in this minor instance:

If you aren't watching, you missed a gem. Senator Ted Stevens, "If this amendment passes, the bill won't pass. And if it does pass, you'll have to take me out of here in a stretcher."

If only politicians like Stevens were willing to defend things that actually mattered with such passion and gusto. But nooooo - just don't touch his pork. Disgusting.

Club for Growth compiles a good list of sources that indicate the Alaskans don't even want the Bridge to Nowhere, but Stevens in particular was so indignant - “It’s wrong to put us into a position where we have to explain why — why! — this is being done, something that has never been done before — NEVER!” - he threatened to resign. Well, we wouldn't want a Senator to have to give any serious justification for why he was spending our money, would we? Good grief.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

For all your U2 concert needs

When the Washington dates of U2's Vertigo tour sold out in less than an hour earlier this year, I was bummed. Not being an inveterate concert-goer, however, I didn't realize that there would still be tickets available in lots of other places from ticket brokers, E-bay resellers, and other places. Happily, I made that discovery over the weekend and so if all goes as planned, I should get to head over to the MCI Center tonight for their concert. The only other time I've ever gotten to see them play - as I've written before on here - my senior year when they played in the Joyce Center at Notre Dame, ended up being a highlight of my whole college experience (hey, Irish rock band, Fighting Irish . . . there's a connection).

Looking for info about the tour, I was reminded again why the Internet was a great invention - it gives us helpful resources like U2tours.com, "a joint effort of U2 fan site webmasters from around the world." Could you have gotten a "one-stop resource" like this when the band was formed? Nope. Good deal.

UPDATE: Very fun concert. The Washington Post review, which I agree with, is here. I wish they'd played "Until the End of the World" and "Bad," but overall it was very entertaining.

Weis: season two

At Monday's press conference, Charlie Weis stubbornly refused to talk about last Saturday: "Their home opener is against BYU this week. I'm not talking about last week. We're only talking about BYU." Right then. Commentators are starting to note the fact that Notre Dame has lost its last four home games, which I believe may be a team first, though this year's team is a completely different one than last year's so that loss streak will be coming to an end post haste. Weis points out that the BYU offensive line is big and lines up split wide, which makes our defensive set-up a little tricky. The BYU defensive scheme is also different than other teams ND has faced this season. Still, Weis thinks that college defensive coverages are not as sophisticated as in the NFL, which to ND fans should reassure that Weis has got them figured out. I'm not especially worried; he'll have the team prepared, having put the first half of the season (really more successful than any of us could have hoped coming in) behind them and just looking forward to winning out so we can make it to a BCS game.

And about that, the first BCS ranking were like a lousy Thanksgiving feast, according to ESPN's Pat Forde. Notre Dame is 16? What? Blue-Gray Sky breaks down the ranking system and concludes that "the computers are killing us." Bill of Bare Down agrees and argues that where a team has played (on the road or at home) should factor in. Pat Forde again:

Bottom line: In August, none of the 15 teams in front of Notre Dame would have accepted playing the Irish's opening schedule without pitching a screaming hissy fit (or, more likely, dropping at least one of those opponents in favor of a home date with Louisiana-Lafayette). Put that in your computer rankings, boys.

It's all right, though - we should be able to get the job done over the next two months and make the controversy - at least as it relates to us, can't promise on the SEC - moot.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sixty minutes and a broken heart

Yesterday's loss to USC is still pretty tough to accept. I feel proud that Notre Dame earned a lot of respect in taking the #1 team in the country down to the wire, playing with determination and executing Weis's excellent game plan oh-so-nearly to perfection. But the bitter taste of losing with seven seconds left hadn't gone away by the time I woke up this morning. Along with everyone else in the Notre Dame nation, I was ready to celebrate as the clock wound down to zero with us up three: to have it taken away with Leinart's illegally-helped-along fall into the end zone was just brutal.

Some post-game thoughts, as hashed out with my boyfriend while we drowned our sorrows (he with Guinness, me with Dr Pepper) at a sports bar last night (we were also rooting for Florida State to lose, and the Cavs obliged with the upset):

- As my boyfriend pointed out, Zbikowski needs to stop stepping up to the line. While a good tackler with some great speed (witness the electrifying punt return for a TD yesterday), too often he lets receivers get behind him and finds himself in a catch-up mode, which shouldn't be happening to a good safety. The most unfortunate instance of this, of course, was on Leinart's 4th-and-8 from the SC 26 with just over a minute to go. Wooden missed the opportunity to knock the ball down by failing to look back for it, and the ball was perfectly thrown over his shoulder to hit the receiver in stride -- but Zbikowski should have been far enough back to make the tackle after the catch was made. As it was, Jarrett went 61 yards before Wooden made the tackle downfield, and Zibby was left chasing both.

- I was glad to see Travis Thomas get some carries, and he did a nice job with the time he had, complementing Darius Walker's different running style during a tough game for both. It would really have helped, however, to have Rashon Powers-Neal in the game to help with blocking and some receiving, especially on plays like the missed out-route pass Quinn threw to Schwapp in the second half. A more experienced player probably wouldn't have misread that throw like Schwapp did. He also would have helped the running game a bit more. So what was the rules violation that kept him out of the game? I hope it wasn't something dumb like a parietals violation. But then again, any game-missing rules violation by a senior is probably going to be dumb.

- Great game management and play-calling by Weis overall. There were a few details I would have quibbled with - I would have liked to see us call a few more short or mid-range pass plays in the middle of the game when the running game seemed to be getting stuffed quite a bit - but overall, we did just about everything we could in terms of controlling the pace of the game. To have a 17-minute edge in time of possession shows some great control. Of course, the problem is that USC, as demonstrated yesterday, needs much less time than most any other team to score, so even with their mere 20 minutes of possession they were able to be dangerous enough to keep their streak alive. Still, nice execution. It definitely helped out the defense, which played well in hassling Leinart most of the afternoon. Everyone knew Reggie Bush would break a few big runs, but he couldn't break nearly as many if he wasn't on the field. (Related: good special teams play as well on bottling up Bush for the most part, though I wonder why we kept kicking it to him in the first place. It didn't hurt us much, but led everyone to hold their breath every time he was out there.)

- Clutch performances from Quinn and Samardzija in particular, after a slower start. I was nervous on the last drive about being backed up at our own 15, but last week alone we had four drives over 60 yards - I needn't have worried. The 85-yard drive was coolly executed and showed how well this team can compete on a national level again. It almost makes me feel sorry for BYU in the way we'll be out to destroy them next week.

Almost.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Volley cheer

The pep rally tonight is being held in Notre Dame Stadium to accommodate the extra thousands who are in town for the game. I'm happy I made it home in time to catch the live broadcast from the College Gameday crew on ESPNews (7:30 Eastern, in just a few minutes). It's drawing in quite a few special guests ... or at least that's what the rumors say:

This is why the atmosphere will undoubtedly be electric this weekend. Tickets are going for thousands of dollars, and a room at the Saint Mary's Inn costs more than a suite at the Ritz. Even tonight's pep rally has enjoyed a build-up unlike any other in my four years in South Bend. Not only because it will take place in the Stadium rather than the JACC, but also because of the countless rumors circulating. First I heard that Bon Jovi is going to surprise everyone with a concert. Now Bruce Springsteen will apparently play. This rumor is legit ... so people say. Bruce has a concert Thursday in Chicago and one Milwaukee Saturday. What rock n' roll star wouldn't want to come to South Bend on his Friday night off? Don't forget that the Boss and Coach Weis are both from Jersey. Clearly the rumors must be true.

I think we've got a shot, which is more than we could say for the last several years (to be fair, it's more than most people could say over the last several years, what with this 27-game win streak USC sports). At the very least, it won't be a 31-point blowout, and it could turn out very nicely. The last game I can remember with this much hype and noise was when #1 Nebraska came in a few years ago. If the crowd intensity can match that game, even Matt Leinart might get rattled. Go Irish!!

UPDATE: Okay, so no major musical act, but there was Joe Montana, Tim Brown, Chris Zorich, and over 40,000 fans. Everybody should be ready for tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The unkindest cut

I had guests in from out of town this weekend so I wasn't at the computer much, but several good articles were published over the weekend and this morning about the Miers nomination - expressing the still-growing conservative push for Miers to be withdrawn or opposed. The discussion is still taking shape, and as Ed Morrissey wrote in the WaPo yesterday, there are several different factions at work on the right. Today's most-discussed article was that of the WSJ's John Fund, who initially had encouraged conservatives to adopt a fair wait-and-see approach, but who now has changed his mind after interviewing quite a few people who know Miers. He's now advocating a raise-questions-now (before it's too late) approach. Is the White House listening?

On a related note, I direct you to this excellent parody by Dylan at the blog Still Angry. Ever since I read it in high school, I've always loved the speech by Antony on Caesar's death - the artistry and crowd manipulation is so masterful - so I have to admire Dylan's rewrite: "Et tu, W?"

Top pick(s)

Welcome to the NFL, Alex Smith. To be fair, it's tough to make your debut against a strong Colts defense, but five turnovers (including four interceptions)? Methinks the Niners resurgence is still a long way off. Oh well. Bryant Young's still kicking.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not settling down

Links: For conservative commentary (and a fair amount of raging - but generally thoughtful - debate, at least in the main posts), a lot of good Miers posts are over at Confirm Them, as well as at Red State, Southern Appeal, and The Corner. Of course, the column that had everyone abuzz yesterday was this one by George Will. Peggy Noonan raises further interesting questions about the nomination - and why the White House apparently thinks it can continue to snub the base - here.

According to one report Monday or Tuesday, the White House apparently expected that the base was likely to be unhappy with the Miers nomination, but would fall into line after about 48 hours. Well, many of us are waiting until the hearings to make a more definitive judgment, but the unhappiness has not gone away, and isn't likely to. The administration needs to understand the importance of what's happening here. For many conservatives, judges are the overarching reason why Bush has continued to receive support even when his policies or decisions have been open to question, and on this most important opportunity on the issue of the courts, the president has disappointed on a fundamental level. No one knows yet how this will play out, but it's not a done deal.

How do you spell that again?

Last week Stewart Mandel had this to say about ND's new star receiver, Jeff Samardzija:

I'm officially installing myself president of the Jeff Samardzija fan club. I don't know where the guy was his first two years, but the Notre Dame receiver has turned into something of a touchdown machine, catching six in four games. Against Washington he had eight receptions for 164 yards and another score. All that, and a mullet sticking out from under his golden helmet? What's not to love?

Heh. Samardzija is definitely goofy-looking, but the baseball player has great hands, as evidenced by catches like this one in the Purdue game, where he caught his seventh TD of the season. The kid is compiling quite a highlight reel, with the way he can lay out for a pass, catch it with one hand, and transfer it to the other arm before he hits the ground. This is cool stuff. With Stovall and Shelton helping spread the field, it just might mean our offense will have more of a chance against USC next week than we have any of the last few years. Go Irish.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lesser-known quantities

For conservatives considering the Miers nomination, I think it's good to have a tempered reaction. There's absolutely no need or cause, for example, to pile on her personally by criticizing nonrelevant details such as her hairstyle or her being single, or by demeaning her record, which while not including judicial experience still shows her to be a successful attorney who's had a strong career. Matriculation at Harvard, prior experience as a judge, or membership in the Supreme Court bar shouldn't be absolute requirements for the bench. (As a happy graduate of two non-Ivies and someone who would have been glad to support, say, a Justice Garza from Notre Dame, I can hardly have an Ivy-only preference!) On the other hand, the fact that Harriet Miers has no apparent record of seriously engaging constitutional law issues - the ones that occupy a lot of Supreme Court justices' time - gives cause to wonder exactly what type of judge Miers would be - what would her philosophy be? The president knows and trusts her. One thing I've actually never doubted about the president, even when he's wrong, is his sincerity, so I have to believe he thinks a Miers nomination is consistent with finding someone like Justices Thomas or Scalia. But it's not (yet?) obvious to the rest of us, and I think out of all the commentary yesterday, David Frum articulated why that should legitimately unnerve judicial conservatives:

I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or - and more importantly - that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.

There have just been too many instances of seeming conservatives being sent to the high Court, only to succumb to the prevailing vapors up there: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter. Given that record, it is simply reckless for any conservative president to take a hazard on anything other than a known quantity of the highest intellectual and personal excellence.

The pressures on a Supreme Court justice to shift leftward are intense. There is the negative pressure of the vicious, hostile press that legal conservatives must endure. And there are the sweet little inducements - the flattery, the invitations to conferences in Austria and Italy, the lectureships at Yale and Harvard - that come to judges who soften and crumble. Harriet Miers is a taut, nervous, anxious personality. It is hard for me to imagine that she can endure the anger and abuse - or resist the blandishments - that transformed, say, Anthony Kennedy into the judge he is today.

That would be the judge, remember, whose recent championing of constitutional law based on "emerging awarenesses" has done nothing less than "effectively decree[] the end of all morals legislation," among other things. Brilliant.

The Wall Street Journal wonders what else this nomination tells us, whether Miers is confirmed or not:

Is the President sending a message that these distinguished conservatives are too controversial to be nominated for the High Court, even with a Senate containing 55 Republicans? The lesson this nomination in particular will send to younger lawyers is to keep your opinions to yourself, don't join the Federalist Society, and, heaven forbid, never write an op-ed piece.

(Professor Bainbridge adds this advice: "Whatever you do, don't write a blog!" Too late for him, sadly!) If this is the message, it's a terrible one, all the more so because it certainly isn't heard - or thought to be needed - on the left, where Democrats are perfectly happy to nominate former ACLU directors (who can be, and are, confirmed). I'll still wait to see Miers's confirmation hearings, and I will reserve judgment, but at the moment I'm not enthusiastic.

Monday, October 03, 2005

First thought: what?!

The president has nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers for Justice O'Connor's Supreme Court seat, and the reaction of the president's base is ranging from disappointed to confused to hostile. With judges like William Pryor, Samuel Alito, Michael Luttig, Karen Williams, or Janice Rogers Brown -- brilliant, experienced, articulate proponents of originalism, all -- why go out on a limb with a complete unknown? Maybe we'll discover in the course of her hearings that she's in the mold of Justices Scalia or Thomas, like the president promised he'd appoint, but everything I'm hearing and reading is not positive. Usually conservatives have trusted Bush to make the right decisions on questions like this, because he generally has -- his lower court nominees have almost uniformly been great, and at least no one could question Chief Justice Roberts's qualifications (I still feel he is a solid choice). But my feeling right now is, the president is on his own with this one. What a disappointment.

See here for a profile of Miers in the Post this past June. David Frum, who worked with Miers in the White House, offers his critical reaction here. Over at Confirm Them, none of us commentators is feeling especially as though we want to go to bat for the president on this one (understatement), but keep checking for information and updates.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Odds and ends

News items and site notes for this Friday morning:

- The newly independent Townhall has a long-overdue new look for its website, and it's great. Much nicer format, same helpful aggregation of conservative columnists.

- A couple of blogs I found recently that I've added to my blogroll are from ND Law students: Orthodoxy, eh? is by a Catholic, Canadian Domer, and Remnant, by Ryan, of the law school's Federalist Society, is just getting off the ground but looks pretty good. Also, I've been reading Brendan Loy's Irish Trojan for awhile, so I wanted to remedy my oversight by linking to him now. Congrats to him on getting his first law firm offer yesterday.

- Lately I've been getting a lot of my site traffic from Blue-Gray Sky, so I just wanted to thank them for having me on their blogroll. And to my other readers who have any interest at all in Irish football: these ten guys have been writing consistently good, insightful, and entertaining posts since they started. If you're not reading, you're missing out.

- No permalink, but Kanka has a nice breakdown of the matchups in tomorrow's game against Purdue.

- On a different note: Over at OpinionJournal.com, Peggy Noonan has a typically good article about the difference between authority and responsibility, and why Americans are much more likely to want to see the latter than the former in our government; relatedly, Noonan also offers a critique of media for its role in whipping up the fears of the public.

- John Roberts Jr. was confirmed yesterday as Chief Justice of the United States. After his swearing-in, he said, "I view the vote this morning as confirmation of what is, for me, a bedrock principle — that judging is different from politics." Now that's a refreshing statement to hear. Good luck to the new Chief.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This week's fix for political junkies

The American Spectator has started a group blog this week, and it's already full of a variety of interesting posts. Here's one about all the rumors flying around about the next Supreme Court nominee, since Judge Roberts's election is now all but assured. TAS passes on the names it's heard -- Gonzales, Luttig, Williams, and Jones -- from its sources, though it freely admits the rumors have little to ground them.

On the subject of the next SCOTUS nominee, Erick at RedState has been writing good posts about why choosing Gonzales would be a "disaster," the buzz about Karen Williams, and so on. I have no sources, so I am sitting back with the rest of the country waiting to see what the President does here. I will offer that I agree with most that Gonzales should not get the nod. I can't see that nomination as doing anything other than going down in flames, for he would receive fierce opposition from both sides -- most conservatives I'm acquainted with, even those who supported him as Attorney General, have very little reason for confidence in the kind of justice he would be on the Supreme Court. Especially when there are so many other solid choices out there. I believe a Gonzales nomination would represent a going back on the President's campaign promises, and given that it was a key campaign promise for a lot of the base, that could only have negative repercussions for him -- even with all the great judges he's appointed to the rest of the federal bench.

One last article: Manuel Miranda on the role of pro-lifers in the nomination process. Miranda is right to fault pro-lifers for being cowed into supporting nominations without serious challenges to Roe. Why should pro-lifers be afraid to challenge that decision and its progeny (including Casey -- said by some to be the "worst constitutional decision ever written" -- and Stenberg) openly, when the decisions represent examples of absurdly groundless constitutional reasoning? Better to have a man like Judge Pryor, who has the courage of his beliefs and the intellectual acumen to justify them.