Archive for September, 2005

‘Capital Christian’ has new radio ads

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

This week I’ve heard Sacramento’s first mega-church (we have many more now, but they were the first) advertising that they’re going to be having added choices in their Sunday church services. They advertised that there will now be 4 services: A traditional, a classic, a casual and a post-modern. I’ve been to this church, Capital Christian, before and their services were pretty standard evangelical affair. There was about 30-45 minutes of choir led praise music followed by 45-60 minutes of a sermon which included props and little plays or video as transitions from one section to the next or to illustrate a point in the sermon.

I’d be curious to know how the new services would diverge from that format. I suspect that either the traditional or classic would pretty much be the same and the other would make strides to be more like a liturgical protestant service, possibly having a somewhat baptist feel to it. Casual I expect would have more to do with how people are expected to dress and act and may “tone down” the standard service with a smaller choir and the pastor having a more relaxed persona (on average). But for the post-modern service, I have NO IDEA what the heck that means! I know what post-modern means in both philosophical and theological senses, but it’s very confusing to me to hear that term in a liturgical sense. My only thought is that there will be far more multimedia in the service.

Why do I care about this? Well, for starters, I’m very interested in how various Christians celebrate their faith. It is very interesting to me to see where groups that don’t have a big emphasis on the Eucharist go.

I guess I wish that I could impress that upon those who don’t like the Catholic Mass, that Mass has a COMPLETELY different goal that most Protestant services. The goal of Mass is not to praise God or learn about God, although those are things that do happen as a part of Mass. The goal is to receive God in the Eucharist. This is why Mass is so different. This is why it SHOULD be so different. There’s nothing casual about Mass. Christ, or said another way God, is PHYSICALLY present in front of us. How can you just walk in there with a starbucks coffee and start chatting with your neighbor? How can one spend 90% of the service focusing on other things? When one see’s Mass in this light, it takes on a completely different meaning and purpose. It changes everything. In fact, those Protestant services that most resemble the Catholic Mass are the ones that most care about Communion.

I think there are many Christians, particularly many liturgy-disgruntled Catholics who would appreciate Mass a great deal more if they understood this.

Cal bears game wrapup

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

I didn’t travel all the way to New Mexico to watch Cal spank New Mexico State but I did watch it on ESPN. Here are my comments on the game:

First, I want to start by saying how high the expectations we all have for Cal. We’ve played 4 games and had 4 victories with a combined score of 173 to 53 and there hasn’t been a single game where Cal fans haven’t been disappointed. In many senses this is a good thing as it encourages the team to strive for more and will help them be ready for better teams. On the other hand, nobody should panic. This team is still pretty good.

The two big surprises were the amount of offense, particularly in the running game, that NMSU was able to generate and the amount of miscues on special teams. For the defense, it is clear that Cal still hasn’t figured out how to successfully defend against a spread defense. I’m glad that we’ve had so many recent games against spread offenses because it will help us later in the season when we have to face Oregon and Washington St.. As for the special teams, it has been very strong to date and I’m going to chock it up to a lack of intensity. Hopefully it’ll be a learning experience.

The offense is starting to click better and better and Ayoob is steadily improving. He’s been particularly good on the road which is hopeful for that first big challenge at UCLA in two weeks. The running game we have is just AWESOME and will give our passing game many more opportunities as teams try (and I emphasize try) to shut down the run game.

In summary, I don’t think we learned much from this game. While this was probably a good game for the coaching staff to be able to have more game film to look at as to how to better improve against the spread offense and how to continue to help Ayoob and the offense as a whole improve, I don’t us fans had much to learn from here as to help us understand how we’ll perform in the future. I still expect us to be able to handle Arizona (but don’t let the players know that), making our big first test be UCLA on the road in two weeks.

Categories added

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Just a quick post to say that since this blog covers so much ground, I’ve decided to have categories and sub-categories. That way if you’re just interested in one or two topics, you can browse those.

Arnold’s ballot measures

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

OK, not that I think I’m going to be influencing many people with my endorsements, but I plan on making endorsements, either for or against, all 4 of the ballot measures that Governor Schwarzenegger has gotten on the ballot. I have yet to do the necessary research to make an informed decision on any of them, so I’m not ready to make any endorsements yet, but I will give you my first impressions on each:

Prop 74: Teacher tenure. This measure delays tenure for teachers to 5 years after the are hired at a school instead of 2. Tenure is a concept that was originally created for University professors to allow them academic freedom to support research and ideologies that may not be popular with the administration. The idea was that after a professor had proven themselves as a good professor, they were then free to do whatever research they wanted and not fear being fired if the results were unpopular. There is much good in the idea of tenure. However, I’ve believed for a long time that tenure is not something that K-12 teachers should have. There is no need for it as these teachers do not do research and are not supposed to be supporting ideologies of any sort. There job is to educate children based on the curriculum provided by the State of California. All tenure for K-12 does is protect bad teachers from getting fired. Unless there are some clauses in the ballot measure that extend beyond reducing the value or likelihood that a teacher will receive tenue, I’ll be hard pressed not to vote for Prop 74.

Prop 75: Union member freedom of conscience. This measure is called “paycheck protection” by the supporters, but it is a bogus name. Prop. 75 is very threatening to the unions of California because it requires that any money that is collected form union dues not be used for political purposes unless the union member approves of it. This will take a LOT of power away from unions. Currently unions collect on the order of a couple hundred dollars a month from each employees paycheck for union dues. A significant portion of those dues pay for political campaigning. What unions fear is that since each union member could basically decide not to pay that portion of their union dues, unions would collect far less money for campaigning and would have far less political influence. It used to frustrate me to no end that the CTA, the union Wendy worked for, dumped millions of dollars into political issues that have nothing to do with teaching or schools. Particularly of interest, they’d pump money into abortion campaigns and there was nothing Wendy or I could do to prevent the money she earned from being used for that purpose. What justice is there in that? Unless there is some clause in this bill that stretches the meaning of this bill beyond what I have outlined above, I’ll be hard pressed to vote against it.

Prop 76: Spending limits: This is a ballot measure that limits the budgets for California. This one seems to be the most complicated of the bunch as it calls out limits in lots of different categories, including education. I really don’t understand all the details yet but I’m hesitant to vote for legislation like this. This is really an area where we need to give our legislatures the ability to use their judgment. Things change and I can see how specific limits could place an undo burden on the state. Although a big part of me would like to see our current legislature slapped over the head a few times regarding over spending, it’ll still take a lot of convincing for me to vote for this one.

Prop 77: Redistricting. This in my opinion is the granddaddy of them all that most likely will get an official endorsement from me. One would think that I’m a fan of ballot initiatives from my commentary to date but in principle I’m not. Ideally, the legislature should be passing laws and the people should be electing a legislature that will properly represent them. Frankly, this is not happening right now and the big reason for this is because of the current legislative districts. Right now legislative districts are drawn (i.e. what their borders are) by the legislature. Since job security is a desire every human being has, they have an incentive to create districts in which the likelihood of them getting re-elected goes up. What they do is they draw borders that lump similar minded people together. Heavily Republican biased areas are lumped together with other Republican areas to ensure that the Republican incumbent gets re-elected and the Democratic areas are handled similarly. This has the effect of making the politicians unaccountable to their voters as they’re very unlikely not to get re-elected because of the heavy bias of voters in their district. Or said another way, the politicians are choosing their voters instead of the voters choosing their politicians. Again, I haven’t done the research to ensure that the measure actually does what it says it is going to do and does it in a reasonable fashion, but unless their is some HUGE grievous problem with the actual initiative, I will be endorsing and voting for this one.

I will be doing more research on these matters in the next few weeks and will be posting my comments as I make them. I encourage everyone who reads this to comment as well. I also HEAVILY encourage everyone to actually read the initiative texts, well at least the overview portions of them. I’ve found that the initiatives are easier to read than most people think and are surprisingly neutral in the way the language is written (i.e. it’s not written to deceive). There’s no better way to make a decision than to read the initiative, then read the officially published arguments (as in the voting guide that will be mailed to every registered voter) and make an informed decision based on those arguments, the actual text and your good judgment.

“Maverick Moms”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written a letter to the editor…

Today’s letter is a short one because I actually hope it’ll get published. It is in regards to an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chroncle published on Tuesday by Peggy Drexler. She is current promoting her new book “Raising Boys Without Men : How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men”.

Before I get to the letter (in which I would make the following points if not constrained for space), let’s make sure we’re clear on exactly what she’s promoting. While she may soft-sell it in certain circles (like in the opinion piece in the Chron.) what she’s saying is not that single and lesbian mothers can raise good children, she’s saying that they do a BETTER job than a family with a father. The title isn’t “How Maverick Moms Are Raising Exceptional Men”. No it’s “How Maverick Moms Are Raising THE Next Generation of Exceptional Men”. It’s not even “A Generation”. It’s “THE Generation”. In other words, the children of fatherless families will be the best children in the future. She is effectively disgarding men as acceptable parents. I’m sure she’s a big fan of the research for conception without sperm, which I mentioned a few days ago, because that’s what she needs to fully accomplish her goal to get men out of the picture.

In any case, on to the letter:

I am writing in regards to Peggy Drexler’s recent Open Forum opinion piece titled “Changing Attitudes About Families”.

In her piece, she argues that “maverick moms”, or said differently fatherless families, are just as capable of raising children as traditional families. While she quotes numerous statistics, what she fails to do is quote any statistics to support her thesis.

Children from fatherless families are more likely to go to jail, drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, have a teen pregnancy and commit suicide, amongst other things. These results have been repeated over and over in studies from organizations as divergent as the Census Bureau and N.O.W.

She correctly states that “socioeconomic status is a stronger predictor of child welfare than almost any other index.” However, I don’t see why that means we should ignore all other indexes. I suspect being drunk is the strongest predictor of whether you’ll cause a fatal car accident. Does this mean we should stop being concerned with seatbelts?

Finally, the “research” that she performed fails every test of scientific accuracy. She uses metrics which are completely subjective in nature, doesn’t have a control group to compare her results against and uses a self selected sample set. Those are all completely unacceptable in scientific research and reflect the fact that she is more concerned with making unsupportable assertions that reflects her bias and lack of objectivity.

I urge the Chronicle to have higher standards for who you allow to publish in your newspaper.

Ken Crawford
Online reader in Roseville, CA

Stanford in the ESPN bottom 10

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Have I mentioned that I’m loving this week so far?

In any case, ESPN does a weekly worst list for college football. Guess who the new addition to the list is this week… That’s right, coming in at #5, the only team on the list with a victory, STANFORD!

The Bottom 10

Here’s the text explaining the pick:

No need to bring in a Stanford graduate to calculate this week’s No. 5 spot. Even those of us without that lofty sheepskin could figure this one out. Stanford’s 20-17 loss at home to UC Davis makes the Cardinal’s selection a no-brainer. The Aggies, who are in the third year of transition from D II to D I-AA, held the Cardinal to 180 total yards and no offensive TDs in Walt Harris’ home debut. Stanford lost to a team with only 35 scholarship players and a team that had already lost to New Hampshire and Portland State. Ouch.

The whole article can be found here

The Stanford mascot

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Many have heard my description of the Stanford mascot. Many have disbelieved it is as bad as I say it is. Now I’ll prove it! But before I do that, a little background:

See, Stanford’s team name is ‘The Cardinal’. Notice that there is no ‘s’ on the end of that name. It’s not ‘The Cardinals’ as in the bird. No, it’s ‘The Cardinal’ as in the color. You know, cardinal red. The color that people who vote in papal elections wear. Yeah, ‘The Cardinal’.

Amongst all the downsides of having a team name of ‘The Cardinal’ is the problem that their mascot can’t be a direct representation of their team name. What, are they going to run around with a red piece of paper? Or maybe they could steal a red Mitre (the hat) from a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. Faced with these options, the Stanford “faithful” decided, at the same time they picked the team name I might add, to go a different direction entirely. Stanford resides in the town of Palo Alto. Palo Alto means “tall tree” in Spanish. So the mascot for ‘The Cardinal’ is a tree.

And if that isn’t bad enought, it looks like this:
The Stanford Mascot

Man I was a fool!

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Why didn’t I buy a bunch of single game, general admin tickets to USC vs. Cal? General admin seats are going for $100 a seat right now on EBay! Those tickets only cost $15 at the box office and I could have gotten as many as I wanted as a season ticket holder. Any idiot should have known that those tickets were going to be worth at least $40. I can’t think of many investments that would get me a 250% return at a minimum and a 650% return as it stands.

Although they haven’t been bid on, some people think they can get about $250 a seat for tickets about where my tickets are… $250 * 5 = $1250… hmmm… that’s pretty tempting… nah… NO TICKETS FOR YOU!

However, if you’re REALLY nice to me, I MIGHT just be able let a REALLY SPECIAL AND LUCKY FRIEND use the ticket I have that is for my 8 month old son. Kids younger than a year don’t need a ticket. We got it so that we’d have extra space to spead out and wouldn’t need to possibly move seats next season when he’s old enough to require an extra seat. If you’re EXTRA generous to me (did I mention I have a birthday coming up…) I might be able to squeeze you in. ;-)

Cal bears game wrapup

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Well I’ve seen two games in person at Memorial Stadium in 2005 and neither of them have been pretty. Thankfully, both have been wins. Here’s my analysis of the 35-20 victory over Illinios:

The bears started this game on a good note, scoring a TD on a dominating first drive. Things were looking good! But then the Illini did the one thing they could do to win the game: control the ball. They went on a 6 minute scoring driving that mostly utilized the option. It was clear from the pre-game press conference quotes that Tedford didn’t quite know what to expect from Illinois. They had a new coach and are rebuilding. It was also clear 5 minutes into the game that Tedford hadn’t expected the option (for the football novices out there, the option is a run play that includes the possibility of the quarterback running the ball (it’s his “option”)). The Cal defense just wasn’t ready to face this archaic offensive (in both ways) play. Illinois used it all the way into the endzone to tie the game at 7 a piece.

The Cal offense came out for their second possesion VERY flat. Why, nobody really knows. It might have had something to do with the fact that they’re used to their defense getting them back on the field quickly, but instead spent a LONG time watching Illinois ground out that TD. It might be because Ayoob doesn’t think he looks as good in the blue home uniforms as the white away uniforms. No matter what the reason, 3 offensive plays (again, in both ways) later we were punting away. The worst part about this wasn’t the lack of scoring, but the fact that it only gave the defense a minute or two to talk over how it was going to defend against the option.

That allowed Illinios to grind out a second, option heavy, nearly 7 minute TD drive that lasted into the 2nd quarter. By the end of this drive the defense was looking really tired and possibly worse, really confused. Illinois was mixing in some creative passing plays to their already effective option attack and it all had the Cal defense scratching their heads.

This was the first moment this year I was worried we might lose. At all the other moments when the opposing team had scored or made good progress, I had faith that we’d make the necessary adjustments. This week, I just wasn’t so sure. While I had hope, we looked so tired. In addition, we were missing a lot of tackles. Our previous two opponents were much smaller teams. Maybe we just couldn’t bring down these big corn fed Big-10 conference (the name is no coincidence) players. Our only hope was a long offensive drive to give the defense time to rest and to talk about what adjustments to make.

1:34 seconds later, we were punting again and I was REALLY worried…

But then something happened, something that would change the game. Cal tried putting their pass defense guys on the line to bump the recievers off the line.

You see, the big wrinkle to the option that Illinois ran is that most of the time the option is run out of a run offense with, at most, 2 wide receivers. Illinois was running the option out of a 4 wide receiver “spread” offense. The Cal defense was respecting the pass threat and hence wasn’t putting the needed pressure to stop the option. But what Cal didn’t realize was that those receivers were mostly decoys and we didn’t need to give them that much respect. What we needed to do was play man-on-man bump-and-run pass defense and spend the rest of our energy stopping the option. Of the three remaining series that Illinois had in the first half, only one did they make any progress (it resulted in a field goal). It just happened to be the one that Cal tried backing off the tight pass defense.

So at half time, hope was on the rebound. While there were still many questioned to be answered, like where the heck our offense had gone and why did Ayoob suck even after they strong performance at Washington last week, there were many things to be hopeful about, like the fact that our run offense always is stronger in the 2nd half and that we finally seemed to have a hope in stopping the option. All that was needed was the right adjustments in the locker room, a good pep-talk and supportive fans.

And that’s exactly what happened. Halftime score 7-17, final score 35-20.

Looking forward, I still have lots of confidence that we’ll win our next two games against New Mexico St. on the road and Arizona at home. Neither of these teams look too intimidating and I doubt either will have a wrinkle that confuses us more than the option did. What was very clear in the too close for comfort victory over Illinois is that this team has a lot of talent. We had so many injured players on the sideline that we should have been asking FEMA to step in (not that it would have helped). But the backups played surprisingly well. You could tell that the team as a whole was very well rounded athetically and ready to make big plays. Additionally, my words last week about the strength of our running game and the value that has in the 2nd half proved to be true yet again and am sure we’ll use it to our advantage in the coming weeks. Finally, this team is learning something new every week and is getting better every week. My hope is that by the time we get to the meat of our schedule in October, we’ll be ready to stick it to them!

Go Bears!

There should be 5 Pac-10 teams in the top 25 this week

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Well, after solid performances by UCLA and Oregon, both beating teams in the top 25, they should join USC, Cal and Arizona State (who all won this week) in the top 25. I can’t think of the last time that has happened. We’re looking pretty strong as a conference! 8 out of the 10 teams won this weekend. In fact, even Arizon didn’t look bad seeing as how they played pretty well in their close lose to #12 Purdue. The only team that REALLY let the conference down Stanford who lost to the utterly pathetic UC Davis (see below for the ragging).

UPDATE: Yup, UCLA is 24th and Oregon snuck in at 25. Cal is up to 13th.