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Archive for October, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

Hey climate deniers!   There’s snow in West Virginia, torrential rains all along the east coast, and the highest storm surges ever recorded.   Authorities expect power outages that may last up to a week or more.

News reporting looks and sounds like a disaster movie.  Maybe because this is a disaster.

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Best Volleyball I Ever Saw

Yesterday Nebraska played Penn State in the Old Coliseum in Lincoln.  PSU is (was?) ranked first in the nation, while Nebraska ranks fourth.  I’ve seen the Lady Lions play several times, and they are simply awesome this year.  They won their first meeting with Nebraska, played on their home court, in three sets.  So I readied myself for another disappointment.

Not so fast, as Lee Corso would say.  Nebraska came out looking like Obama at the first debate, and they lost the first set.  But then something happened.  The crowd (over four thousand red-wearing “Go-Big-Red”-chanting fans, including the Governor and some members of the football team) certainly did their part, trying to blow the roof off the creaky old building.   Whatever the reason, about ten points into the set, Nebraska just became a different team.  They went on a rally for eight points, tying the score.  From then on out it was a one- or two-point set that Nebraska won 32-30 (a team must win by two if the scored is tied or one point apart when one team reaches 25).

But Penn State was not done–not by a long shot.  I was on my feet shouting at the teevee during most of the final three sets.  The defense was terrific on both sides of the net.  PSU has some “big players,” as Nebraska’s coach put it, and boy can they block at the net.  Players on both teams made digs that most teams would flub–and they did this consistently, three or four times on every rally.  And there were so many rallies–long contests between the front-liners on both sides to find just the right place to land a kill.  And there weren’t as many kills as might be expected from teams that good because both defenses were so tough.

When Nebraska finally won the last set, and the match, I thought the rafters might come down prematurely (the building is slated for demolition in the spring).   I haven’t seen volleyball played that well, maybe ever–and I watched a lot of it during the Olympics.

If you want to see the game, you can watch it on the Big Ten Network’s website–BTNtogo.com–if you have cable or satellite teevee.  If you don’t have teevee, you can always take your laptop to the liberry or the nearest sports bar.  And eat a great pizza while you watch.

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Go Big Red!

Nebraska defeats Michigan, 23-9.  Wow!

Michigan is the winningest team in football–last night would have been their 901st win–had they won.  But then Nebraska is fourth on the all-time wins list (with 851 they trail only Michigan, Texas and Notre Dame) so there!  Take that, Ohio State!

Admittedly, Nebraska was extremely lucky last night.  Michigan’s flash-bang quarterback put himself out of the game late in the first half when he fell wrong on his right hand.  Apparently he aggravated an old nerve injury that made it impossible for him to grip the ball.  As he stood gloomily on the sidelines Nebraska’s defense made mincemeat out of Michigan’s backup quarterback, a poor scared freshman who completed one pass out of boogity attempts.

Speaking of defense, Nebraska’s blackshirts finally showed up last night.  Will Compton was everywhere, in on nearly every tackle, and other guys like Sean Fisher and Spencer Long finally played lights out for an entire game.  That’s Compton in the pic bringing down Michigan’s go-to running back, a fellow named Fitzgerald Toussaint (whose name is a nice nod to America’s tangled ethnic history).  The defense was so stellar that Bo might even give out  the blackshirts today–which is pretty late in the season, thus testifying to their spotty performance heretofore.

The offense continues to run hot and cold.  When Taylor Martinez marches the team down  the field to score in four plays, as he did on Nebraska’s first touchdown, it is a thing of beauty–breathtaking to watch.  Nebraska has never had a quarterback who could do this by passing–not Tommie Frazier, not even Eric Crouch–but the problem is that Martinez runs hot and cold.  He can create magic on one drive and go three and out the next.  This is hard on us older fans.

And oh yeah–Notre Dame pounded Oklahoma last night, too.  Go Domers!

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Oh Woe the Polls

I shouldn’t read the damned polls.  Especially not early in the morning during breathers between gathering up wastebaskets and used cat boxes so that I can drag the garbage bin out the the road by seven am.

But I do read them, compulsively, as though Nate Silver were the second coming, because I am so worried that Americans are such numbskulls that they will vote the Rethugs back into office as though they learned nothing from their last turn.  Or paid attention what the Thugs say. Which must be most of the time because the polls show Romney is now essentially tied with President Obama.

This is serious business.  Aside from the problems posed to poor and middle class Americans and to women of all classes, a Romney win will hand the country and the world to the plutocrats.  If you do pay attention you can almost taste the billionaires’ eagerness–the Kochs and the Adelsons and yes, Romney himself–to get started down this path of worldwide devastation.  When they do the world will witness plunder and savagery that will put the Gilded Age to shame, given the current multi-national reach of corporations.  The planet will become unlivable, its people chained into poverty and slavery.

If I exaggerate, it’s only a little.  And that’s why I obsess over the polls.

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But they wouldn’t take it!  Nebraska beats Northwestern, 29-28.

Here tight end Ben Cotton trots into the endzone to score the winning touchdown (photo from the Chicago Tribune).  This was in the fourth quarter, mind you, with about two minutes to go.  Nebraska fell all over themselves during the first part of the tame, turning the ball over three times and earning eight–count ’em, 8–penalties.  No wonder Tom Osborn retired.

I picked the photo to show that the stands were about half full of Husker fans–one side of the stadium was purple, the other red.  I guess the eggheads at Northwestern are not as into football as the farmers from the plains.

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Get Over It!

Just heard an audience member from last night’s debate complaining about its aggressive arguments.   She was made uncomfortable by the heat generated, and actually feared that Obama and Romney might come to blows.  I also heard a teevee commentator (Andrea Mitchell maybe?) suggesting that women are turned off when two alpha males go at one another.

Well yeah, maybe.  Except for a few caveats.  First of all, when alpha and would-be alpha males in ape clans or elk herds or prairie dog towns go after one another, it’s for show, and the audience is–guess who–fertile females.  Now I don’t suppose the debaters last night were thinking of impressing their wives, who have long since learned all there is to know, bad and good, about their hubs.  If the men were thinking about impressing woman at all by displaying their teeth, or their impressive tail feathers, or whatever, they were trying to impress women voters in general–that is, if the behavior was rational at all.  To hear Mitchell and others  tell it, aggression may be just what Big Dogs do.  If that’s the case, thank the goddess Mitt didn’t raise a leg and pee on the podium.

Second:  why do people assume that women are turned off by argument, or that they should be?   Offhand  I can name at least thirty women who love to argue.  Granted, most all of them are rhetoricians, but that doesn’t change the salience of the point.   I fear that this assumption is motivated  by very old thinking about women–that we are shy retiring violets who only want to keep the peace.  This feels to me like a soft version of the claim that women shouldn’t participate in armed combat.  If so, it sucks.  Am I the only woman in America who would have liked to see Obama land one on Romney’s officious snout?  I doubt it.

Last point:  what the hell do the complainers think democratic politics is all about if not the nonviolent resolution of conflict?  I quote feminist  political theorist Chantal Mouffe:  “Politics, as the attempt to domesticate the political, to keep at bay the forces of destruction and to establish order, always has to do with conflicts and antagonisms.”  Mouffe defines “the political” as “the whole dimension of power and antagonism” that permeates human interaction.  Hence, to assume that debate ought to be “rational” (ie dispassionate) is to “completely miss its nature.  It is also to neglect the predominant role of passions as moving forces of human conduct.”  (The Return of the Political, 1993, 140-41).

One last point: It is likely that the anger generated by conflict during a debate is proportional to the seriousness of the stakes.  Where better, then, to witness an angry exchange than during a presidential debate?

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This morning I had to hunt for my sweatshirts and long pants!   This event always marks an important passage here in the valley of the Morlocks–the morning when we put away our shorts and t-shirts and put on real shoes and socks.   I can never remember where I put the sorta-cold-weather gear, so every fall there’s a hunt–are they in this drawer?   No.  Try this one.  No.  Maybe the closet in the spare bedroom?  And so on.  When I finally found the pile, my Penn State sweatshirt was on top, looking bereft.  Hmm.  Guess I can wear it around the house.

About last night’s debate.  Little doubt that Obama won it because he was engaged.   He was prepared, too, but then he was prepared last time–people who were dismayed by his lackluster demeanor may have missed that small point.   The town hall format was no friend to Mitt.  The small scale showed off his distaste for being close to people with whom he would refuse to be seen were he not running for public office.   The format also showed off his propensity to bully others–he shouted at the audience, at the moderator, at Obama.  He ran over his time, tried to barge in on Obama’s time, and bullied the moderator when she wouldn’t let him do as he wanted.  This was a BIG mistake, because the moderator was a woman (CNN’s Candy Crowley), and people don’t like to see women being manhandled (so to speak).  I think every debate should be moderated by women, not only for this reason but because women seem to be better prepared, having learned the hard way that women have to be twice as good.  Etc.

And Mitt was condescending.  At one point he said to Obama “You’ll get your chance to speak.”  There was an audible gasp from the audience, and probably across the nation, when Mitt treated the President of the United States as an obstacle or impediment rather than as the human being who managed to do what he, Mitt, has not been able to do so far.   The condescension was doubly damaging because Obama is, you know, black.

Mitt lied, and lied.  Obama called him out on his lies, repeatedly and forcefully, noting at one point that Mitt had said ON STAGE AT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION that he would not raise taxes on the wealthy, no matter how often last night he said he wouldn’t raise anyone’s taxes.   Even Crowley caught him out in a lie and called him on it.  I suspect that people are starting to get the message–Mitt will say anything to get elected.

If you haven’t yet heard the joke about “binders full of women,” which proved to be another lie, I recommend you read Charlie Pierce’s blog entry about the debate over at Esquire.  It’s hilarious, for one thing.  For another, Charlie lives in Massachusetts, and he had a ringside seat when Mitt was governor there.  And, according to Charlie, it wasn’t pretty.

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