Archive for December, 2006

Questions for Tedford?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I’ve said in the past that I’d create a post before I go to press conferences to give my readers an opportunity to propose questions I can ask at the press conference.  Consider this that post for the coach’s press conference today.  I’ll be leaving around 9:30 AM to get there so please submit the questions before then.

Sorry for the last-minute-ness of this offer…

A couple articles to be posted soon

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I’ll have an article about Tuesday’s practice and post practice interviews posted on sometime today.  Also, I answered some questions for the Texas A&M Rivals publisher yesterday that should be put in interview form on their site ( today as well.  I’ll add links here this evening…

Holiday Trip Report – 12/26

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I woke up on Tuesday morning at 6 AM to get ready to leave.  The plan was to get out of Roseville by 7 AM for the 8-plus hour trip.  That gave me lots of extra free time to stop for lunch and get lost a couple times trying to find the practice at San Diego State that started at 4:30 PM.  As with all trips, last minute preparation slowed me down a bit.  By the time I had filled the gas tank and got a couple of donuts (insert Homer voice here “Ummm… Donuts”), I wasn’t out of Roseville on the Freeway until nearly 8 AM.

I stopped to fill up the gas tank and get lunch just before the grapevine.  I decided that since it was already noon and I had nearly 3 hours left on the trip that I would just grab some food and eat in the car.  By the time I was through Los Angeles I realized why stopping for lunch can be a good thing… my bladder was about to explode, necessitating another stop.

By the time I arrived at San Diego State it was already 3:45 and indeed it took me a little while to find the practice field where the team was practicing.  I arrived there shortly after 4:00 PM to find that the official practice had just started (it starts with stretching) and that the practice was going to be closed to both the public AND the press.

That’s pretty unusual.  I’ve never been denied access to a practice before as press.

But we all know how Tedford likes to control things.  So I was able to do was watch and snap a few pictures of about 10 minutes of stretching and a few minutes of warm-up ball toss before I was kicked out and told I could come back at 6:30 PM to get some interviews (although I should be fair to the very nice football SID John Sudsbury, he was very polite in the way he kicked me out).

In those few minutes I saw a team that was much more determined than I had seen in practices at Memorial Stadium.  They were much more focused on doing their stretches well and their synchronization to the various activities was better than normal.  Even the clapping of hands had a stronger ring to it than normal.

I’m sitting in the parking lot across from the practice field typing this up and I can hear the coaches shouting and the players yelling as they practice.  Even from just the sounds I can tell it is a very focused practice.

It’s clear from both the closed practice and the sounds from it that Tedford and the team don’t want a repeat of the 2004 Holiday Bowl.   They want that 10th win.

I’m going to the Holiday bowl

Monday, December 18th, 2006

If you’re putting together your Holiday Bowl blog list, keep me on it.  I’ll be heading down on the 26th, catching the pre-game events like the booster luncheon and the various press-conferences.  I’ll do a blog post after each.

The Pursuit of Happyness or Richyness?

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Over the weekend I saw the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith (note to readers: yes, they mis-spell happiness on purpose).  It was well done, excellently acted and a compelling storyline.  However, the movie left me flat.

Part of that was because I was vetoed from seeing what I think is the best movie in theaters: Apocalypto.  Then my second choice The Nativity Story was apparently not “San Francisco/Berkeley morals friendly” as it was only showing in one theatre in the area and at an inconvenient time.

Another part of it is that I’ve seen “the unbelievable TRUE story about man who overcomes adversity to find success through determination” before.  Sure the title and actors change each time, but the plot is basically the same.

But beyond that there seemed to me to be a big problem with the story.  The story revolves around a poor man and his son.  The man is struggling to get by after getting into a sales business for which he fronted a large sum to get into.  He decides to go another direction and applies for an unpaid stock broker internship that 20 people are given of which only 1 will get a paid job at the end of the six month internship.

The story is setup as being about a man who wants to provide for his son.  But it seems to me the story is about a man who wants to make sure his son grows up as the son of a rich man and therefore has access to wealth himself.  It seems to me that this man made a number of poor choices if his goal was really to provide for his son.  His choices reflected taking the 1000 to 1 shot to get rich that will leave you in ruins if it fails instead of the 2 to 1 shot to find financial stability that will leave you slightly poorer if it fails.  In my mind, the only thing that separates what he did from going to the casino with your paycheck is that he had some influence over the percentages.  It doesn’t change the fact that it was wreckless. 

(warning spoilers ahead)

The story (not told in chronological order in the movie) starts with the guy buying into a medical device sales business by cornering the market for the Bay Area.  As a result he buys what looks like about forty of these $250 items (1980 dollars, so think $1000).  But they don’t sell like he wants so he’s stuck with this huge inventory and the associated debt.

Now he’s looking for a change because he can’t support his family.  So he applies for this unpaid internship after seeing a guy pull up in his Farrari.

Are you kidding me?  This is supposed to be inspirational?

Let’s just imagine for a second that there was a second guy in his same shoes and that the guy takes the same actions.  At a minimum, one of the two of them is going to end up destitute and without anything to show for their effort.

There are lots of jobs out there that can provide for a family that don’t require putting your financial ruin on the line.  And while I have nothing against starting an aggressive and dangerous financial venture, one must always make sure that they are providing for those dependant on them.  If the venture risks putting your kids in a homeless shelter every evening without end, that’s not acceptable.  The time for that kind of a venture is before you have a family.

In the end I was left feeling unmoved because the story was one that highlighted not love for one’s family, even though it was the supposed point of the story, but the desire for greed in spite the impact on one’s family.  You can sugar coat “getting a better life for your children” all you want.

But greed is greed.

Why Christmas could be on July 23rd

Friday, December 15th, 2006

I’m sure most who read the general side of my blog (hi Mom!) instead of the dedicated Cal Bears portion know of the common knowledge that Christmas is December 25th is because Christians co-opted a Pagan holiday and instead celebrated Christ’s birth on that day.

Well, here’s an interesting blog entry from an author who researched the topic that says not so fast.  (Make sure to read the entire post because the end part is critical to keeping the info in the right frame of mind.)

I think what I take away from this is how much “common knowledge” can be dangerously inaccurate.  I’ve read tons of other examples as well.

In almost all cases the truth of the matter is far more complicated than anything “common knowledge” could possible transmit.  As such, whenever “common knowledge” is used to debunk or win debates, it’s a recipe for disaster.  Generally what it means is that there are entire aspects of the situation are being glossed over and furthermore, that often the discussion is focusing on something likely irrelevant to what should really be important.

In this case that relevant point is the joy of Christ’s coming into the world.  I really don’t care if the actual day was what we today call Dec. 25th, Feb. 14, July 4, Sept. 22, Oct. 31, or whatever.  I similarly don’t care if the day we celebrate it is because of pagan holidays, jewish guesswork, Muslim calendar manipulation, bad mid-evil calendars, or Monks without enough fingers to properly count the days of the week.  All that I care about is that the Universal Church has set aside some day, any day, for us to reflect on and celebrate Christ’s birth.

Peter Singer on The Colbert Report

Monday, December 11th, 2006

There’s few people I know of that more support beliefs that are completely despicable to me than Peter Singer.  He calls those who recognize that humans are a unique species with unique responsibilities “specist” (as in racist but different).  He calls zoos, prisons (“we wouldn’t lock up a human being with out a trial”).  He is of course a vegitarian.

But I already knew all of this.  It was his hesitancy to deplore beastiality on the Colbert Report that caught me by surprise.  I mean I knew the guy was a sickeningly immoral person but to see him (and he looks like a slimeball too) hem and haw when asked about sex with animals before saying, “I think sex with humans is more enjoyable”… well… let’s just say my opinion of him didn’t improve.

Next time you hear Peter Singer on some bioethics committee, remember who the man is.

Hughes wins Lott award

Monday, December 11th, 2006

This is an awesome award to win, the best defensive back in the country, named for Ronnie Lott.

Well deserved Hughes!

An open letter to those who oppose the UC Berkeley Performance Center

Friday, December 8th, 2006

I’m a reasonable man and understand that my opinion is just that.  I respect that others have other opinions and allow them their right to express it.  What I do take exception to is liars, hypocrites, blame-shifters and those who won’t take the time to understand an issue that they’re willing to dump hundreds of hours into protesting against.

And that is exactly what those of you who are being vocal about their disagreement with this project are being.  To prove my point, I will list each of the arguments you’ve made:

1. This project hates trees and trees are good
2. This project is seismically unsafe
3. This project will increase traffic on Piedmont Avenue
4. The project can be put somewhere else

Let’s go through these one by one:

#1: This project hates trees and trees are good

When I see signs like “Mommy, what did trees look like?” I know that I’m dealing with someone who is being disingenuous.  I’ve never met anyone who has a desire to make trees go away entirely.  People like trees.  Just about everyone does.  Some don’t mind cutting down trees here and there for a project, but in every building project I’ve ever seen new trees have been planted.

This isn’t because of pressure from environmentalists but because people like trees.  They add shade and beauty.  I’ve seen housing complexes go up where not a single tree was cut down for the project but just about every house built had 2 or 3 trees planted.  Why?  Because people like trees.

Similarly, this project will end up planting far more trees than it will cut down.  Anyone who has seen the artistic renderings of the project know that the inclusion of planting new trees was not just a move to pacify environmentalist but a move to increase the beauty of the facilities.

I will give some quarter to those of you who believe that old trees are worth keeping around simply because they are old.  I heartily disagree, particularly to the degree many of you take the argument, but I’ll accept that it can be an internally consistent perspective.  However, that’s not what your protest signs say.

As I said, I’ve got no problem with you disagreeing with me.  However, I do insist on honesty.  If you really believe that old trees shouldn’t be cut down, say that.  Don’t come up with bogus excuses to cover your true motives for political expediency.

But instead of being honest, since you know that nobody holds the extreme views you do, you resort to other disingenuous arguments to try to win.

That’s called being a liar.

#2: This project is seismically unsafe.

Anyone who thinks about this one for even a minute knows how stupid your argument is.  Memorial stadium was built before we had a good understanding of the Hayward fault that runs through the middle of it.  It was also built before building technologies existed that would withstand incredibly large scale earthquakes.

Every weekday a significant group of people go to work in Memorial stadium.  In that sense, they are daily at risk of a large earthquake ending their lives.  Additionally, about 10 times a year 50,000 or more people sit in memorial stadium for an event.  For those hours a much larger group is put at risk including me and my children.

When the Performance Center is built, it will be built using the latest seismically safe building technologies.  All of the people who work in Memorial stadium will have their offices moved to the Performance Center.  They will be far safer in the new building.
Additionally, once those who work in Memorial Stadium have their offices moved, it will free up Memorial Stadium for its own seismic retrofit without having to further compromise the stadium while people are working in it.

Once the entire project is completed, everyone will be far more seismically safe than they are today.  To argue that this project is seismically unsafe is in fact arguing to leave people in seismically unsafe situations.

That’s called being a hypocrite.

#3: This project will increase traffic on Piedmont Avenue

This part of your argument centers on the parking garage that will be built where Maxwell field currently is located.  Of course it is true that if you add parking, it will increase traffic.  However, your underlying point is not that it will increase traffic but that it will do so in a place that already has too much traffic.

I spend nearly two hours every football game day getting in and out of Berkeley.  I come to the Rockridge BART station and take the bus in from there.  From there I sit in stop and go traffic on College Avenue to the stadium.  I get to do the same in reverse on the way home.

The issue is not the streets surrounding the stadium.  The issue is the City of Berkeley.  They made a conscious decision to purposefully make Berkeley a difficult city to drive in.  They blocked off streets and refused to widen the few remaining thoroughfares.  They refused to add turning lanes and other traffic easing measures as well.

The traffic getting to and from this new parking garage will be just as horrible as you suggest.  However it has nothing to do with the project, particularly considering the project includes widening Piedmont Avenue around the stadium.  It has everything to do with the surrounding City of Berkeley policies.

This is called being a blame-shifter.
#4: This project can be put somewhere else

This isn’t an argument of its own right but a justification for other arguments.  That’s fine in its own right.  If there is indeed a solution that meets the needs of the project that has less downside, then it is worth pursuing.

However, I balk at this proposal for two reasons.

The first is that I think you’re being disingenuous.  This project has already gone through years of public meetings and design work.  While there were complaints during that time, no one seriously proposed these locations at that time.  Now that the project is nearly ready to start, I find it all too convenient that this is the time the alternatives start coming out of the woodwork.

Additionally, there is a long history in Berkeley of protests against any new University projects independent of where on campus they are proposed.  You’ve already proven yourselves to be liars, hypocrites and blame-shifters to me.  I believe that these proposals are nothing more that attempt to buy time.  Any other location would be just as unacceptable to you.

However, despite the fact that I feel comfortable in dismissing these alternatives as merely distraction techniques, I for some odd reason feel compelled to respond to them.
The first proposal for a gym on the other side of campus is easy to dismiss.  It’s on the other side of campus.  It’s a big campus.  The coaches and staff need quick access to their practice facilities that just happen to be at Memorial Stadium.  It just doesn’t make sense to put it a long way from the stadium.

The second proposal is to put it where Maxwell field is.  Well, that would be great if the project didn’t also include a parking garage.  Other than the time lost for the design changes, I’m sure the University would be happy to cut down the oak trees for the parking garage and instead put the Performance Center where Maxwell field is.

These proposals show that you really don’t care that appropriate facilities are built for the University.  At the very least it shows you won’t take the time to understand all of the requirements for this project despite the fact that you’re willing to dump hundreds of hours protesting against.

In conclusion, I find you to be liars, hypocrites and blame shifters who are unwilling to spend the time to understand the project before jumping on the protest bandwagon.

Ken Crawford
Cal Bear Season Ticket Holder

Performance center approved

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Well, as expected the UC regents approved the new Performance Center next to Memorial Stadium.  Here’s an article about it.

I have some choice words for those who oppose the project.  Expect a post in the next day that is an open letter to them.