Archive for February, 2007

I’m the first season ticket holder!

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

OK, probably not, but I’m definitely one of the first:

At 8:30 AM this morning I logged into the CalBears website (I tried at 8:29 and it wouldn’t let me) and renewed my 5 football season-tickets and added 1 additional seat.  After I wrote in my special instructions on where to add my new seat I clicked the button at the bottom of the form titled “piss and moan like an impotent jerk and then take it up the tailpipe”.  I was in and out in 10 minutes. and had recieved the confirmation e-mail within 5 additional minutes.

I am now an official 2007 Cal Bears football season ticket holder.  (and the crowd goes wild!)

For those of you who wonder why the “submit” button has been relabeled to something with a tailpipe, it’s because of the continued increased prices.  Up until last season, not a single game was as expensive as every game this year.  The top price was the Big Game at $50.  This year every game except two are $51.  And before you get your hopes up, those two games are the Tennessee and USC games which were $66 each.  Thankfully the tailpipe for reserved season tickets was not as big/long as the one for general admission.  There’s no way I would pay half of reserved to sit in the endzone and fight over bench space.

The good news is that the $50 “stadium renovation fee” was removed so the actual ticket price was less than last year.  However, there’s another reason for that: Stanford.

You may have seen this on another blog, but part of the renewal packet announced that they had not reached an agreement with Stanford as to what to do for the Big Game now that Stanford stadium is too small for all of both Cal and Stanford’s season ticket holders.  Everyone had assumed that they would announce the priority/lottery system that would be used as a part of season-ticket renewals.  Unfortunately it was not.

So that means not only am I still in the dark as to whether I’ll have a shot at getting tickets, I’m also in for another $60 (or more) per seat on those tickets if I can even get them.  My boys have been to every Big Game of their lives (6 games cumulatively for my 2 and 3 1/2 year olds) and it’s VERY important to me that they go every year until they should be paying for themselves.  At that point, I’ll have done my duty as a father.

Despite those grumblings, I’ve very excited to be the first 2007 season ticket holder.  I’d like to thank my wife for supporting me even when I seemed crazy; my Mom and Dad for taking me to Lair of the Bear, the official Cal alumni summer camp, every year of my childhood; by brother for always coming to the games and helping with the boys.  It’s a real honor to be the first 2007 ticket holder.  Thank you all!


Tree-huggers pull out all the stops

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Well, I guess it was inevitable.  With a group this determined to stop the Cal High Performance Center and their connections to various other groups, one could just about guarantee that they were going to “find” a new avenue to potentially stop the project.

Yesterday at a press conference at the oak grove, it was announced that the site was a Native American burial site.  From reading the article it is clear that the evidence for this announcement is weak.  Not only are there question marks in the survey they present about whether the site of this supposed burial ground is by the stadium or at another site half way across campus called Faculty Glade, but there is no explicit evidence that the single skeleton found was either part of a burial ground or Native American.  Furthermore, even if their claims prove to be true, there is no reason that this should halt construction, only that the removal of any additional remains be supervised by Native Americans.  In summary, it’s a meaningless revelation to the project.

However, this is classic Californian obstructionist strategy.  I like to call it the “shotgun approach”.  The strategy is simple:  Since no single claim you have is the silver bullet to stop the project, you instead shoot 1000 craptastic shrapnel bits in the air.  The reason this strategy is so popular is because it has a number of different ways it can work.

The first way it can work is that with luck, one of those shrapnel bits can turn out to be more meaningful in California law than anyone, including the obstructionists, thought.  Considering how many poorly thought out laws have been passed in this state in the last 50 years, it’s surprisingly easy ti use this strategy to find a meaningless piece of evidence that ends up being very powerful in court.

The second way it can work is that it wears down the opposition.  Even if none of the individual pieces hit home, the work that the opposition must to do refute every single crappy argument ends up being a burden that only the most determined and well financed opponents can overcome.  Ever wonder why “huge corporate interests” are the biggest enemies of the obstructionists?  It’s because they’re the only groups with pockets deep enough to fight the “shotgun approach”.

The third way it can work is the affect it can have on public opinion.  People don’t like reading about the same news over and over.  It’s the reason that ballot propositions always to worse their second time around than the first.  It’s the reason that the American public is sick of the war in Iraq.  Irrelevant of what the public thinks of the issue, they only want to deal with it for so long.  At some point they get so sick of hearing about it, they just want it to go away.  The only way the obstructionists will grant the public that reprieve is by siding with them and halting the project.

The fourth way it can work is the cumulative affect.  Eventually, even though none of the particulars merits blocking the project, eventually some judge or jury looks at the situation and says “you know, each of these on their own seems meaningless, but together maybe they’ve got a point.”  While that’s ridiculous from a strictly legal perspective (you don’t sentence a man to death for 20,000 shoplifting incidents), it’s only human nature to end up thinking that way.

The fifth way it can work is by winning the “judge lottery”.  We all know there are activist judges out there and if the obstructionists can eventually get the case assigned to one of these judges it’s a huge boost to their side.  How does one make sure they get that activist judge?  By submitting suit after suit after suit.  Sure there are laws and precedence that have the same judge responsible for multiple cases against the same defendant, but there are also laws that require judges to pass the suit onto another judge.  As an example, if judge Miller has any Native American blood in her, she’ll be required to re-assign the case to another judge who doesn’t have a potential conflict of interest.  Think it is a coincidence that this evidence is coming out just a week after judge Miller made the first ruling that sided with the University?  It probably is.  That said, I wouldn’t count out the possibility that the obstructionists are interested in a new judge however.  As a side note, re-assigning of judges also causes delays in the court proceedings so way number five can also enhance way numbers two and three.

You see, it’s a very powerful strategy and one that will be difficult to fight.  I only hope Athletic Directory Sandy Barbour has it in her.

New Cal Blog name

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

OK, I’m working on a look-and-feel overhaul for the Cal Bears portion of the blog to be ready later in the spring.  I was looking for a new name and liked what “The Band Is Out On The Field” blog had done in taking their name from The Play.  So I decided to see if I could find a Starkey quote from The Play that I liked.

There were 26 different things Starkey said that could be used as a blog name (sans titles I know are in use).  I’ve limited it down to the top 5 that I think are worth considering:

(numbering based on full 26 at the bottom of the post)

  • #1. Only a miracle can save the Bears
  • #12. There were flags all over the place
  • #14. We don’t know who won the game
  • #24. Excuse me for my voice
  • #26. There will be no extra point
  • Honorable mentions for #3 (A seemingly impossible situation), #5 (The Bears problem is…),#10 (Will it count?) and #18 (We’ve heard no decision yet).

OK, here’s what you need to do to be able to vote/comment.  First you need to know the image I want to project.  I want to project a sense that I’m a Cal Bear faithful and die-hard fan who loves to shout and yell at the games.  That I’m opinionated and forceful, yet willing to entertain opposing views and that this is a place for that type of spirited discussion.

Now that you know the criteria, the next thing you need to do is block all memory of The Play from your mind and think about the titles on their own.  Pretend your a person that thinks the only team named the Bears plays in Chicago.  Pick your favorites (try to limit it to 3).

The next thing to do is bring back your Bear fan memories and visualize in your mind which of the blog titles you can remember without watching the video.  Which ones can you hear Starkey’s voice.  Finally, watch this video of The Play.  Think about the blog titles that really stick out as notable and unique.  Which ones are “classic Starkey” or “classic The Play”?

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to vote/comment.

(Note, you should probably comment before reading the rest so I don’t upset your natural thoughts)

My thoughts are varied.  #1 is great because it has that “faithful Bear” thing going for it.  The problem is that it is somewhat resigned to mediocrity.  #3 has the same problem but lacks as strong of a faith in the team.  Nevertheless both have their upsides.

It’s not at all in my real list but #5 I’m sure would get a resounding vote from my brother’s girlfriend Sarah.  She’s always harping about how I excessively use the phrase “The problem is…”.  Sorry Sarah, it’s just too negative.

#12 is great from a spirited discussion perspective.  It’s got that “everyone has something to complain about” thing going.  It’s probably also one of the more memorable statements Starkey makes during the call.  I’d say it’s my second favorite at this point.

#14 is the funniest of the bunch.  Left on it’s own, it seems like the blog is hosted by people who don’t have a clue, or want to make it seem that way.  Obviously it’s quite the opposite.  So it’s the anti-title, so to speak.  #18 is similar but has a more reporter like feel to it.  Which is kind of cool considering my part-time gig these days.  But it also has an indecisive quality that I don’t like.

#24 is my favorite at this point.  It’s a great suppliment to the other half of my blog titled “As we forgive those who tresspass against us”.  It also has the die-hard fan who blew out his vocal chords at each game thing going.  It’s got that argumentative thing going for it, but the apologetic nature communicates that others are welcome to comment.  It’s also a very notable Starkey moment as well.

#26 is worth putting up there because everyone remembers it and it has a certain gusto to it that is compelling.

What do you guys think?

Finally, here’s the full list of candidates.  Let me know if there’s one in the full list that I’m not considering that you think is appopriate (parenthesis show where there are optional extensions to the title):

  1. Only a miracle can save the Bears
  2. This is some show (I’ll tell you)
  3. (The bears are in) A seemingly impossible situation
  4. They pretty much have to run it back
  5. The Bears problem is…
  6. The Bears have to get out of bounds
  7. They’re still in deep trouble at midfield
  8. The ball is still loose
  9. He’s gone into the endzone!
  10. Will it count?
  11. The bears have scored (but the bands are out on the field)
  12. There were flags all over the place
  13. Wait and see what happens
  14. We don’t know who won the game
  15. The Bears may have made some illegal laterals
  16. It could be that it won’t count
  17. The Bears believe it or not took it all the way into the endzone
  18. We’ve heard no decision yet
  19. Everybody is milling around on the field
  20. The bears have won
  21. Oh my God!
  22. The most amazing, sensatation, dramatic, heart-rending… exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football
  23. California has won the Big Game over Stanford
  24. Excuse me for my voice
  25. I have never, never seen anything like it in the history of any game I have seen in my life.
  26. There will be no extra point

My (belated) thoughts on the recruiting class

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Many others have commented on the subject of Cal’s recent recruiting class so I won’t spend the time to go over it player by player.

However, I want to say this: this was Tedford’s best class yet no matter what the rankings say.  While it would have been nice to nab a 5-star player or two, balance is far more important.  And this class is PERFECTLY balanced with a strong emphasis on both the offensive and defensive in the trenches.  Additionally, the couple of junior college recruits are going to be able to come in and make an impact immediately.  They will go a long way to filling the voids left by Hughes, Bishop and Mebane.

While many are proclaiming the greatness of the running back duo, I think the crown jewel of the class is the offensive line.  People may be right that this is the best RB duo in the country, but I was already comfortable with the depth Cal had at RB and think we could have survived a year with a weak RB class.  Additionally, as Florida showed, weak RB’s can be worked around.

The offensive line however, can not be emphasized enough.  Whether you’re running, passing, kicking, taking a knee, or any other offensive snap, the success of the play always starts with the offensive line.  And the offensive line is also the place where the most injuries happen.  You can almost never have enough depth on the offensive line.

And this is a great offensive line class.  In fact, it probably has a better beat on the best in the country than that RB duo does.  All 5 players have rivals rankings of 5.6 or better (5.7 if you exclude DeMartinis who is the highest rated 5.6 nationally).  To give some context around that, it means ALL 5 of them are amongst the 50 best linemen in the country.  They’ve got the size (3 are already over the 270 lbs. mark with the other two containing the frame needed to add the 20-40 lbs. needed to be a top-flight lineman) and proven high-school talent to make the jump to D-IA football.

Yes, Kyle Reed, Kevin Riley or Brock Manson (likely QB candates) and Montomerey, Slocum, Schutte, Best or Vereen (likely RB candidates) are all going to be very happy campers come 2009-2010 when these guys come of age.  Their job will look easy because of the O-linemen up front.

Comment moderation is turned off!

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I was reading in another blog about their move to requiring user accounts before one can comment.  I understand that desire, seeing as how I get 20-50 comment spam a day.  That’s why I went to moderated comments a while back.  Neither solution is ideal, but seeing as how I hate having so many different user accounts, I decided to go the way of moderated comments instead of user accounts.

But it had long been my plan to switch to the authentication string model and remove the moderation.  This has been the plan for far too long now and something always seems to be more important.  But, today the last straw broke my back.  Motivated by the bad news that yet another blog was taking action to eliminate comment spam, I FINALLY found the time to implement the comment filter.

So (triumphant music starts) from now on, no moderation!  All you have to do is answer a simple math question (something like “Please add 3 and 5″) and you’re comment will be immediately posted.  I decided to go this way instead of the “image in a string” route because sometimes those strings can be a pain to read and frankly anyone who can’t do simple math shouldn’t be posting here.

Comment away unfettered by the shackles of moderation!

Tomorrow is signing day

Monday, February 5th, 2007

That’s right, tomorrow is the day where we officially find out whether the recruits who have been commiting to Cal and other schools actually follow through on that commitment.  Generally there aren’t too many surprises, but just about every year there are a handful around each conference.  I have it on good authority that Cal is going to get a last minute recruit who is dumping another Pac-10 school.  I can’t say who yet…

Speaking of which, if you want all of the inside information and fastest breaking news on recruiting, today is the best day to signup at to get the best bang for your buck.  Tomorrow is the day that everything they’ve worked hard on all year comes to fruition.  As a reporter for the site who covers the team (not the recruits) I’ve been absolutely amazed at how much information gets passed around behind the scenes.

The subscription is well worth the price this time of year.

UPDATE 2/6 @ 9 AM: I posted this blog entry at the end of the day yesterday so that it would be up all day today in reference to tomorrow.  But yesterday, tomorrow was inaccurate.  So, just to clarify, signing day is Wednesday, which is tomorrow today but not yesterday.

Jim Michalczik promoted

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Cal has announced that the offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will be the new offensive coordinator.  Instead of hiring an outside guy, Tedford decided to promote from within.

From my perspective, this was a wise choice.  Tedford’s staff had stayed intact for his first 4 years and was a significant part of the program’s success.  Unfortunately for Cal, success brings the headhunters.  A number of assistant coaches have left over the last couple years.  By promoting internal candidates not only do you help prevent that particular coach from bolting but you create an environment where others might stay when headhunters come their way in the hope that they too might get a promotion some day.

Additionally, by promoting from within Tedford ensures that the new OC has “bought into” the offensive scheme that is used at Cal.  There was always an uneasy feeling about the Tedford-Dunbar experiment because no one was quite sure what the experiment would yield.  In retrospect, it turns out that some of the haphazard play calling we saw in 2006 was a result of the collision between the two offensive systems.

Considering how strong our offensive line has been the last few years, it is clear that coach Michalczik is a good coach and I’m hopeful that the step up to OC and do a great job.

A man who gets it

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Some of you may remember that I wrote a blog post before the 2006 football season about how to avoid getting the score of the game when you plan to watch it later on the TiVo.

Well, Scott Adams (author of the Dilbert comic strip) has written about his experiences on the subject as well.  Although it’s about tennis, it’s still funny stuff.

Spankings to Assemblywoman Sally Lieber

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

I meant to blog about this when it first came out but have been busy the last couple days.  There is a bill being introduced into the state legislator making it illegal to spank children.  I have a lot to say about this but first, the link to the article, and links to associated opinion pieces:

This issue upsets me in so many ways I don’t even know where to start.  The best I can do is list the various complaints and then try to break it down from there:

  1. Privacy and freedom:  Who is the state to say how I raise my children?
  2. The legislation is backwards: if anything, spanking is more valuable for younger children, and should be outlawed for older children.
  3. The apologetic ness of the response: “I’ve only spanked my child 4 times in my life and it was a very, very, very important reason.”
  4. Physical intervention is a necessary tool for parents.

I guess I’ll start with #3.  I was going to put caveats in this post about when I think it is appropriate to spank but after thinking about the matter, I now refuse to.  I’ll decide for myself when I think it is necessary and I’ll give my readers the same respect that they can decide for themselves.  The over-arching issue is not whether or when we spank but that we love our children and raise them lovingly.  There is nothing about a spanking, even fairly frequent spanking, that precludes that.

Along those lines: spankings and beatings are NOT the same thing.  A spanking is something that at worst leaves a broad red mark for less than an hour on even the most sensitive butt-white (excuse the pun) skin.  A beating is something that might result in bruises.  So let’s put aside any implication that a spanking is beating or abusing a child.  It’s just not the same thing in even the remotest sense.

Which I guess leads me to #2.  A big part about what bothers me about the legislation is that it’s all backwards.  It says you can’t spank kids under a certain age (in this case 4).  However, if you think about it, spanking is something that only is relevant for young kids.  If you’re going to make legislation, it should say you can’t spank kids OVER a certain age, say something like 7, although 10 would give plenty of room for parental judgment.

For those of you who don’t have kids, the younger a kid is, the less they listen to you.  At some point, they’re so young they couldn’t understand your words if they wanted to.  At these young ages you only have one disciplinary tool: physical force.  (Which means I guess I’m getting into point #4.)  Most of the time this force is nothing more than stopping the child from doing what he/she intends.  But as they get more obstinate in doing what you don’t want them to, you have to step up the amount of force that you use to prevent them.

See, here’s the problem with the “no spanking” crowd.  What do you do when a child doesn’t respond to you “asking them”?  Asking them again, is laughable.  What if a kid won’t do a “timeout”?  Giving them another timeout is yet again laughable.  Kids are young, not stupid.  If they realize there is a limit to the punishments they receive, they’ll find a way abuse that.  It’s an important lesson for children to learn at a young age that the worse thing you do, the worse the punishment is.  The more warnings and punishments you ignore, the worse the punishments will get.  Not all wrongs are equal and kids need to learn that early because it is just as true for adults as kids.

As such, it’s very appropriate for parents to start with “don’t do that”, then step up to the “timeout” then to “physically stopping” the to “physically stopping with some minor pain” then to “punishment w/ pain (of which spanking is one option)”.  Does a parent have to use moderation to know when to step things up to the next level?  Yes.  Are there parents who show bad judgment? Yes.  In fact, stepping things up too quickly can harm the parent’s ability to differentiate between the minor wrongs and the major wrongs.  But none of this precludes the use of force/pain even on a fairly regular basis if the child is not obeying their parents.

I use pain in discipline much more often than my wife does.  Usually, since my boys are both toddlers, that most often means squeezing their arms or legs harder than is necessary when I’m physically trying to get them to do what I want.  I’ve often noticed the boys laughing when my wife is trying to get them to do what she wants.  They think she’s playing with them while, in reality, she’s getting frustrated.  All it takes is a quick squeeze for them to realize that this isn’t a game and they need to sit still while I change their diaper.

And you know what, my kids love me just as much as they love their mom.

To bring #2 to a close, as my children get older, I’ll have other tools to use besides force/pain.  I can reason with them, lecture them, ground them and punish them in ways that doesn’t require me to physically spank them.  But while my kids are young, I don’t have those tools available to me yet.  To take spanking away is to delay my ability to discipline my kids until they are old enough to be too used to getting their way without consequences.

Finally, I’ll wrap up with #1: Pope Benedict has often spoken of the dictatorship of relativism.  The idea is that we reach a point where we pretend that “everything is acceptable” but in reality we have a dictatorship that refuses to let you believe/do anything but what is “in vogue”.  While this proposed legislation is minor in the big picture, it is symptomatic of the dictatorship of relativism.  The mindset that creates this says: “Children have to decide for themselves what is right and wrong; therefore anyone who spanks their children is a very bad person.”  It’s the same mindset that says: “Those archaic ‘religionists’ want to enforce laws on us that take away our freedoms to do whatever we want and we enlightened people are smart enough to know that their archaic ways are so barbaric as to be illegal.”

Thankfully there are enough people who have lived the practical life of raising children to know how stupid this legislation is.  However, we must be wary of the mindset that spawned this legislation and fight it with all of our collective might.