Friday, March 24, 2006

...the Bible(along with the context in which it was written) tells me so

I think this is a great idea. First because it's an elective, so no one is being forced to do anything. So long as that remains the case, I wouldn't have too many problems with it being a full-on worship service.

But the really great thing about it is the fact that they'll be looking at the history of the Bible as well as the context in which it was written. I would have loved to have a class like that in my high school. I mean, Library Aid was a great elective and allowed Peter Bosman and myself to take countless Seventeen Magazine quizzes with Mrs. Covington, but I would have much rather been learning some important things about the book upon which so much of my faith is based.

Seriously. If more high schoolers had access to this kind of learning, maybe guys like Pat Robertson and James Dobson wouldn't have such a huge following. And that could only be good for Christianity and the world.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

for the rest of you

Here are two questions that people that have no ties to NC State basketball might have:

1. Why would they fire Herb Sendek?
2. Why would they give Herb Sendek a parade?

That's about where people stand on our basketball coach.

Herb has his supporters. They see steady improvement. They think they owe him eternal gratitude for rescuing our beloved team from the Les Robinson era. They see decent recruiting. They see that Herb won ACC Coach of the Year once. They see 5 straight trips to the Big Dance. They see NC State in the top 25 more and more consistently. They see success, and they don't see how anyone could say otherwise. They have their points.

Then there are those who would rather see Herb move along. They see talented teams collapse in the final minutes of close games. They see a boring offense that relies on 3-pointers which routinely goes on scoring droughts. They see early exits from the NCAA tourney. They see a collection of embarrassing losses. They see that in 10 years Sendek has managed to beat Duke and Carolina 8 times, with a majority of those wins being at Carolina's expense during some of their darkest seasons. They see Atsur as next season's leader and tremble. They see a team that's better than bad, but still not good. They see "close, but no cigar" stamped on our beloved team. And they have their points.

I tend to side with the second group. Herb needs a change of scenery and NC State needs a basketball coach that can get them past the wall they currently are running up against. Where some see 20 win seasons, I'm looking at seasons with no quality wins. State has, under Sendek, netted 3 wins that are in any way memorable.

1. Last year's win that put us in Herb's only Sweet Sixteen.
2. A win one season before that over Duke that seemed to cement our status as a contender. Little did I know...
3. A win against then #1 UNC at the Dean Dome by a going nowhere NC State team in the 1997-1998 season, one of the highlights of my freshman year.

That's it. Each of those wins seem like distant memories when watching games like NC State vs. Iowa from earlier this year(the absolute worst event in the history of contested sport).

There are rumblings from the optimistic, though, that we should give Herb a big fat party. I've read on message boards and blogs that people are actually trying to put together a march of some sort to support the keeping of Sendek as head coach. A man whose greatest basketball achievement is one visit to the round of 16.

No matter who gets their way here, we're crazy.

I understand that Sendek isn't going anywhere. I understand that he'll be around next year, coaching a team that hoists up 3-pointers, doesn't rebound, and collapses hardest when the most is at stake. He'll do well enough for people to think I'm crazy to want him gone, but poorly enough for me to stay resolved in my assertion that we need a new coach and a new system. And I understand that next year around this time, the fans of NC State will be having the same "Should he stay or should he go" argument while 16 other teams prepare for some actual basketball.

All I have is to silently hope that Sendek is tempted by one of the upcoming college ball coaching slots. That, and to hope that a replacement would actually bring improvement.

March. Madness.

Monday, March 20, 2006

putting in the "mad"

Okay. I've had some time to calm down and reflect on yesterday's basketball happenings. I couldn't be happier for George Mason. And there's no team I'd rather see go out early than the University of North Carolina. They've been eulogized all morning on TV and radio as a team that was expected to have a hard season who rose to the occasion to achieve well beyond their and so on and so on and so on. Good for them. Better for George Mason.

NC State gets no eulogy from the sports media. We were there. We were hanging with Texas. After being blown out of the water in the opening minutes, we hit a run and brought it back close. But how?

With Gavin Grant and Cam Bennerman doing something unheard of in NC State basketball. They got their points two at a time instead of just heaving up ill-advised 3-point shots. Heck, Courtney Fells got in on the 2-points at a time game plan. It was working. Going to the basket was working. Had Sendek actually changed his gameplan in an effort to win a game?

Then suddenly, inexplicably, Bennerman and Grant are on the bench watching Evtimov and Atsur chuck the basketball at the hoop from section H again. And this, friends, is why many of the Wolfpack faithful are tired of the Herb Sendek years. Sure, it's nice to make the NCAA's 5 years in a row. But it's not nice to see the team constantly wilt when faced with a team that can be described as "good at basketball." It's also not too nice to be piling up some embarrassing losses each season as well.

NC State was shooting over 50% in the first half, mostly on the back of the "actually taking the ball to the hoop" stategy which was promptly abandoned. Want to know why the game wasn't even close? 3-for-22 from the three point line. A basketball coach might have told his players to knock it off. But Herb isn't a basketball coach. Herb's a nice guy. And nice guys let Evtimov stay on the court because he's a senoir. Nice guys don't care if you're making bad decisions. Nice guys don't care that you're not really that good at basketball. Nice guys don't care if you might be doing too much on an injured body. Nice guys only care that you're a senior.

Nice guys lose by 21 points.

March. Madness.

Friday, March 17, 2006


For the first time in five years, my final two aren't going to be correct. I know this after the first day of play. That horrible moaning sound? That's my brackets experiencing a slow, painful death. Thanks a lot, Syracuse.

I think that Hayley Minter maybe has worse brackets than mine, but that's little consolation considering I watched a boat load of Sportscenter and she watched boatloads of Dora the Explora in preparation.

March. Madness.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

greatest comeback ever?

So a blogger whose free time astounds me almost as much as his brilliance has put together extensive commentary on the sporting classic that was Bugs Bunny vs. the Gashouse Gorillas. Highly recommended reading for sports fans, math/physics fans, and/or cartoon fans.

Friday, March 10, 2006

acc friday

I'll never know why they don't go ahead and give everyone today off. Anyway, I shall be updating here whenever I get a second to let you know about what I think about what's going on with this afternoon's games. I expect to be working hard on all things job-related during most of Duke vs. Miami so that I can't be called a slacker when I take frequent breaks during State vs. Wake. Losing to Wake Forest in our last regular season game and then beating them in the ACC tournament is something of an annual tradition for my beloved Wolfpack.

10:01 - In spite of my best efforts, the television showing the games will be set up in the break room and not directly in front of my desk. I thought that directly in front of my desk was a fine location, since so many people walk by it. It would have been a great spot for almost anyone in the office to have a look at, particularly me.

10:46 - My supervisor has some stuff for me that doesn't need to be done at my desk. It could, for example, be done in the break room around the same time as the State-Wake game. I told you they treat me great here.

12:13 - Duke is up 7-2. They were up 4-0 before Miami made it across half court due to a pretty tough press defense. Miami has been doing a good job frustrating Sheldon Williams and early indications are that the refs are going to let them play rather than call touch fouls, so it might be a little tougher for the Devils than I thought. JJ is going to have to win this one for Duke if this keeps up.

- The lone Duke fan in the break room is more interested in his Sudoku puzzle than the game. When did these things start taking over the world?

12:23 - Duke up 5. I know this because I found a little radio that I had once purchased to listen to poorly received crazy left wing radio shows before I stumbled upon better crazy left wing radio reception via streaming audio. The radio works much better picking up ACC basketball.

12:31 - JJ started out slow, but seems to have found his shot. According to the radio guy, he made one from the ACC logo which is roughly located in the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot.

- Good back and forth action here. Either Miami came to play or Duke is getting really sloppy. It's hard to tell with only the radio to inform me.

12:47 - Miami is going nuts. I'm not sure how Duke isn't losing by more than 1. I'm taking lunch during the second half of this thing for sure.

12:51 - Foul trouble is going to kill Duke down the line if they don't tighten things down. As it is, Miami just sounds like they have more life in them.

12:59 - Duke down by six at halftime. Miami has Williams on the ropes, Reddick shooting cold, and seems to be taking real advantage of some physical play. Duke better get it together. Good first half though, with 9 lead changes.

1:38 - Grilled chicken from the company for lunch. Good stuff. Duke came out in the second half swinging. Full court press took out the Miami lead, and then Duke dropped it. My guess is we'll see the press again if Duke gets desperate, because it works for them well. Miami is still playing some serious basketball, though. This game is a lot of fun.

1:50 - Duke by 1 with a little over 6 minutes left. 20th lead change of the game.

2:12 - Is Miami going to the NCAA's? Are they on the bubble or what? I'd like to see them in the big dance. A hell of an effort in their loss to Duke. I ran to the break room for the last 33 seconds, and watched the Carolina fans wonder why the 3-pointer form Miami late was shot from somewhere in Winston-Salem.

- I do love the ACC tournament. A game like this is exactly why. If State beats Wake, it means we get Duke tomorrow. JJ has made State look silly in this tournament a lot of times. Still, I remain cautiously optimistic.

2:38 - And we're underway. GO WOLFPACK!

3:32 - Ugly first half. Ug. Lee. I was more interested in my procedures manual than I was the game, but here are some observations:

- Gavin Grant came out hot and no one else on the team noticed.
- The refs are going to be quicker on the whistle in this game than the Duke one.
- NC State doesn't rebound. For any reason. Ever. I don't know why.
- Everyone on the team is trying to win this game on their own. They're all losing it on their own instead.
- We're talking no offense. Paul Maurice hockey teams had more offense than this. Awful. And why is there no offense? 3-pointers. Lots of them. None of them going in. We've got Packer and Cremins both saying that Simmons needs the ball down low and no one is trying to get it to him. At all. It's terrible. And again, there is no adjustment to this game plan which is so much more than not working coming from Herb.
- It's not that Wake is playing good basketball, either. They're trying to give us the game and we refuse to take it. Turnovers are coming and we're just throwing up bricks from behind the arc.
- Billy Packer said the Wolfpack has been in a "stupor." That's putting it lightly. This game is terrible. State is lucky to have made it to halftime down by 17 instead of 117.

4:13 - It's terrible. We have one strategy. When it doesn't work, we're screwed because our coach doesn't have a backup plan. Ever. We didn't make a single backdoor cut until we were down by 22 points. By now the look on Andrew Brackman's face says "just let me go play baseball."

-Atsur just found his first points. He really sucks.

-I understand that Ced is sick. I understand that Cam is hurt. But there is no excuse for what we put on the court.

4:25 - We're within 12 with 3 minutes left. I'm praying for a miracle.

4:40 - Put a bullet in this horse. She's sick, and it's just sad to see her this way. The commentators on the radio are praising Gavin Grant's efforts and pointing out the fact that he's too talented for Herb's offense.

- The Duke fan with the Sedoku puzzle waked by and said "The worst thing that could happen for Duke is for Sendek to leave and State to pick up a real coach." Amen.

4:43 - That'll do for my coverage of the first 2 games of ACC Friday. One basketball game followed by one team-on-team blasphemy contest on this holy day. At this point, we're looking at a 12 seed at best for the NCAA's. It's going to be ugly. This is the time of year that State usually finds our stride, not when we roll over and die. I hate basketball.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Jesus was a revolutionary

The State of Things on NPR was about the "religious left" today. I was kind of disappointed in the show, since they rarely strayed from the topic of abortion. I know it's a hot-button topic right now, but I'd still liked to have heard more. There was some pretty good stuff that got out there, though. Here are some of my favorite quotes, as best as I could transcribe them, along with some personal thoughts...

-From Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It(which I will definitely be reading once I get done with the Walking Dead hardcover):

"King never endorsed any candidate, he made them endorse his agenda."

Right now, Republicans tell the church what it's agenda is and what it cares about. It shouldn't be that way. Politicians in general should not be able to tell us what we should be thinking about, we should be telling them what they should be concerned with. It hasn't worked that way in a long time.

"The poor aren't trapped only in poverty, they're trapped in the liberal/conservative debate."

I have nothing to add. That's pretty dead on, though.

"If you want to be protected by the right wing and you're a child, you have to stay unborn as long as possible."

More on this after I get all of the abortion quotes out.

"If a Democrat is a person of faith, he shouldn't have to apologize for it."

I really dislike the idea that the Democrats have to retreat from their faith if they're going to maintain all of their supporters. No one should have to back away from what their faith is. They don't have to wear it on their sleeves, but they have to let people know that they're people of faith, too. The way it is right now, Republicans get to say "I'm a pro-life Christian." The implication is "My opponent is a pro-death non-Christian." I'm tired of Democratic people of faith not saying "I'm a Christian too, and that faith tells me you're full of it."

People are afraid the instant the word "God" comes into things, they'll lose the people for whom religion is not the source of their convictions. I say that as long as those people can hear that the things that matter to them are being addressed, they don't care what the faith of the person addressing them is. They may even be relieved to hear that the convictions that got those concerns addressed came from a foundation as strong as one's personal faith.

-Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP:

"The Church cannot be a chaplain of the state...the Church should challenge the state..."

The Church should never function as a part of the government. Ever. And this is why. The Church should be one of the strongest voices that work to hold the government accountable for the welfare of its citizens. Period. That's pretty far from the way things are right now. Ask me about my feelings on the American flag being in the front of church sanctuaries sometime.

"So let's talk about abortion...what do we abort when the children don't get health care...What do we abort when we go backwards into segregation...that's a faith discussion."

You cannot have a view that is anti-abortion and have a view that is anti-welfare. It doesn't work. As Rev. Barber said, "If someone is going to have a baby, we need to take that baby in, not just tell them to have it." You cannot tell someone that they have to have a child and then have nothing in place to take care of that child. You can't. Not in any morally reconcilable way.

One of the things that kept coming up during the broadcast was the idea that instead of just banning abortion and patting ourselves on the back, the best way to combat abortion is to prevent the situations that lead to it. Help the people feel like they have to do it as an economic necessity with social programs. Require some real sex education that may focus on abstinence, but at least ensure that everyone knows effective birth control methods. I think even the most Catholic of Catholics can agree that a condom and a pill is preferable to an abortion. Make the adoption process less of a headache for all of the parties involved. All of these can be done to stop abortions without imposing a ban that will make criminals out of some of the victims of our current system.

"There is no debate that if you read the Bible, you're supposed to care for the poor."

People can argue about the meaning and context of a lot of the Bible. They can argue about what is actually said about homosexuality, war, and most anything else. People even argue about the meaning of "Thou shalt not kill," for cryin' out loud. But no one can argue that the Bible doesn't tell us at almost every turn to take care of the poor. Yet it seems to be the last thing on the minds of the most fanatical "Christians" that run the country.

-Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman from California

"Our faith is not poised on the head of a pin, it's very broad...Catholicism is broader than abortion"

People's faith cannot make them into one-issue voters. It just cannot. I don't care what your faith is, there is more to it than how it informs your belief on a single issue. The reality of politics is that when someone takes office, they take the office to handle multiple tasks. Your faith should inform how you feel about one politician's stand on every aspect of their office, not just the one that gets the fire in your belly going.

Put it all together, and we get what the Republicans are so good at. They tell the Church what issue it should be concerned with. The Church follows that lead, focused on the one issue while the Republican party violates every other bit of "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" almost entirely unnoticed. They can paint themselves as "better Christians" than their opponents because they are "prolife" or "anti gay" and those are the only "Christian" values that matter.

More and more, I see people giving up on the Church as a result of this. I don't feel like I can beat it, so I end up in chuch much less. Some don't feel like they can beat it, so they abandon their faith completely. We cannot do that. We have to make the Church be the Church again. I have to do my part to bring the Church back to that place it was in so very long ago, where it held the government accountable. So. Anyone with me?