Monthly Archives: March 2005

Slate: NCAA teams we hate

Well, this is brutal. Largely justified, but gratuitous nonetheless. Some snippets:

On Duke and JJ Redick: “In recent profiles in Sports Illustrated, on ESPN, and probably in Cat Fancy, the whey-faced shooting guard revealed that when abuse from opposing fans becomes too heavy, he escapes by composing verse. ‘No bandage can cover my scars/ It’s hard living a life behind invisible bars,’ he writes in one tear-stained stanza.”

On Cincy: “Red-faced and leather-lunged Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has the recruit-the-delinquents routine down. The Bearcats’ police blotter is filthy with domestic violence arrests and the graduation rates are indistinguishable from zero. All that’s missing is the fun, the talent, and the victories in March.”

On Carolina: “I watched Roy cry when he lost in the second round as a No. 1 seed to UTEP and to Rhode Island. I watched him cry when he lost, five times, to the eventual NCAA champion. I watched him cry when he went home to coach his alma mater. I don’t want to watch him cry as he cuts down the nets for the first time with somebody else. Instead, I’d like to watch him cry as he does something else he’s never done in his coaching career: Lose in the first round. Cry, Roy, cry, in shame and humiliation, as your team is felled by the 13-18 Oakland Golden Grizzlies.”

On Tejas Tech: “The only Texas Tech alumni I can name other than me played football or shot Ronald Reagan. Lubbock was a wondrous place to eat meat or hear a band, but uglier than a group “before” shot from The Swan. There’s a reason all the postcards show Buddy Holly or a bale of cotton. Lubbock is flatter than whichever Olsen twin doesn’t eat and has all the greenery of the moon.”

Also coming for scorn: Stanford, Penn, ‘Cuse, ‘Nova, Vermont, Chattanooga, Kentucky….

[Credit: Thanks to Medical Affairs Desk Chief Will Bower, MD, for the link.]

I love my Deacs, but this is not acceptable: UCF study on grad rates

You may have seen the new study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida indicating that, among other things, 43 of the teams in this year’s NCAA men’s hoops tournament are graduating at least 50% of their players. (Press Release | Table of Gradiation Rates)

I’m not going to rant about the state of academics in college sports in general and I’m not going to make fun of the term “student athlete.” I’m not going to dog other schools, either – you know who you are and can manage your own disgrace without my pontifications (not that I’m always opposed to pontification, mind you – just not going there today).

But I am going to raise hell about my alma mater. Wake Forest is graduating, according to the UCF report, a mere 44% of its men’s basketball players and is only getting 76% of its athletes overall out the door with a sheepskin. Sorry, but that is not acceptable. Wake is the #27 ranked national university in America, and its athletic graduation rates should not only exceed 50% in the men’s hoops category, they should be among the national leaders in all categories. Duke is graduating 58%, Stanford is at 92%, and UNC, which ranks a couple slots behind us in the academic rankings, is at 67%.

I know that graduation rates are more complicated than they often seem at first glance – once you factor in transfers, flunk-outs, drop-outs, and the like you’d be surprised how low grad rates for all students are, so yeah, 50% is actually not as bad as it may sound. I get that.

But there is no excuse for Wake not to at least match the performance of UNC on this criterion. Carolina is a great school, no doubt, and Wake has an obligation to get within a few percentage points sooner rather than later. Skip Prosser is a smart, thoughtful coach, and I hope I speak for all of my fellow alums when I say we don’t expect better, we demand the best. Period.

The exam I just gave my J/MC 410 class

This oughta be fun….
J/MC 410: Communication, Technology, & Christianity
March 17, 2005

Answer four of the following questions. Be specific. Be thorough. Use examples where appropriate. And yes, your writing style counts.

  1. Postman’s three-stage model of economic development posits that contemporary America is the world’s first technopoly. However, class discussion has raised the question as to whether the great cultural debate between technology and institutions of moral authority is as settled as Postman suggests. When discussing long, broad cultural trends, of course, it’s nearly impossible to draw hard, conclusive lines between one epoch and the next, and as such, we might occasionally be lured into overestimating the importance of lingering exceptions.

    With this in mind, analyze contemporary America with respect to the technocracy/technopoly question. Where along this continuum do you believe we are, and why? Give examples illustrating your point, and be sure to address what you perceive as major objections to your conclusions.

  2. Pick a popular cultural artifact – a movie, novel, graphic novel, magazine/zine, CD, Web entertainment site, television show, etc. – you’re familiar with that in some way embodies/expresses the technotopian ideologies of technological development we have discussed in class. Analyze this artifact in light of the theorists we have read to date (Postman, Pacey, McLuhan, Dewey, Bacon, Noble, Carey & Quirk, etc.). (You can reference multiple theorists if necessary, but you’re encouraged to focus your answers as much as possible, so restricting yourself to a single framework might make it easier for you.)
  3. Pick a new technology – one that has been talked about, promoted, researched, etc., but that has not yet been rolled out for commercial use. You can draw on what you already know about fusion, nanotechnology, and HMI from class discussion, for instance, or you can select another technology that exists in a “near-future” state (that is, promoters of the tech expect that it will be broadly available in the next few years). Then write a brief speech (@ 10 minutes) for the president to deliver (a la VP Gore’s ITU speech, cited in the primary text) at a major international conference on technology.
  4. Once humans controlled technology. Now technology controls us. Discuss.
  5. The Millennarians apparently interpreted the Bible in ways that were strange and unfamiliar to many students in the class. Trace the thinking of this peculiar strain of theology as it rationalized Eden, Adam, the useful arts, and the path back to Paradise. Be thorough.
  6. Arnold Pacey teaches us that technology, properly understood, involves much more than the technics – the technical apparatus itself. Select a prominent technology that currently plays a major role in your life. Using Pacey’s framework, analyze and articulate its technical, organizational, and cultural aspects.

Wearin’ o’ the black

Today is the day mizzillions of folks, some Irish and some just looking for an excuse to get soaked on bad beer with green dye in it, celebrate the Catholic St. Patrick, who is credited with bringing the message of God to Ireland. Obviously they see this as a Good Thing®.

However, there is another way of viewing the coming of St. Patrick. The Catholic Church had this habit of marching around the globe “converting” every society it encountered. Some of these conversions were accomplished with less bloodshed than others, but in pretty much all cases we’re talking about the extermination of cultures that had been doing fine for millennia. In the case of Ireland, we know that there was a rich history and culture when St. Paddy arrived, and their pagan/Druidic religious practices worked well for them.

The Church put an end to that and set in motion the course of events that has led us to modern day Ireland, a utopian land where all live in peace and harmony under the adoring eye of the One True God® and His One True Church®.

Today millions and millions of people are wearing green in celebration of the Christianizing of a pagan land. Others of us wear black in mourning for that which was lost at the hands of a Church-sponsored cultural genocide.

Drink up, folks.