Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Apparently FaceBook thinks so - got this from Jerry Coyne's website, and you can read the entire post and ongoing commentary here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.35.47 AM

Monday, February 23, 2015


Although Glen Campbell's touching song did not win, Tim McGraw's performance likely engendered a few tears at the Oscars.  Interestingly the Oscar videos of this keep disappearing, but here is one that appears bootlegged:

Friday, February 20, 2015


Yesterday, the University of Colorado Regents met in Boulder, and one of the sessions was on Intercollegiate Athletics.  The CU-Boulder AD gave a typical shock-and-awe, look how great I am doing presentation, which was followed by the significantly more modest presentation by the CU-Colorado Springs AD. 

Perhaps the most insightful, and troubling, observation was made by Chancellor Pam Shockley from the CU-Colorado Springs campus.  In her comments to the Regents, she said that she fears an "arms race" in Division II athletics that is similar in nature but on a smaller scale than the "arms race" in Division I athletics.  AD Rick George's presentation could be labeled Exhibit A for the demonstration of the misguided and generally uselessness of "pursuing championships" by throwing money at athletic facilities and the elusive "student-athlete."  [Just to clarify, there really are some athletes who  are also accomplished students, but they tend to be the exception rather than the norm among the participants in Division I football and basketball]. 

After presenting the data demonstrating how well the student athletes are doing academically, and how well they are attended to regarding their studies, he launched into his breathless presentation of the $143,000,000 expansion and renovation of athletic facilities, shown in this sketch:


Not surprisingly, the bulk of the project is for the benefit of football, while the other sports will enjoy some of the trickle-down from the new indoor practice facility, shown on the left, and the new training and sports medicine facilities. More details can be found here.  Interestingly, I got to tour the 'old' football facilities a couple of years ago and considered them palatial when compared to some of the other facilities on campus - see below.

So - what's the point?  It's the same old canard that CU cannot compete effectively in the PAC 12 because the limited and outdated facilities cause highly talented athletes to go elsewhere.  Tell that to cross country coach Mark Wetmore.  Wetmore's office is in a backwater space in the dingy and dark Balch Fieldhouse.  It's not the facilities that attract some of the top runners in the country to CU, it's the outstanding coaching and the tradition of excellence that brings them in.  Wetmore's teams have won multiple national and PAC-12 championships, and hundreds of other team and individual honors.  Admittedly, cross country is not a facilities-intensive sport, but the point is that facilities don't build champions - effective recruitment, training and coaching build champions.


Balch Fieldhouse - Home of National Champion Runners & Coaches - Built in 1937

But - who is it that really cares about championships?  Regents, Presidents, Athletic Directors and all of the attendant athletics staff, and Chancellors and fund-raisers who woo athletics-crazed donors.  Who doesn't care?  Most professors and many students. 

Why?  At the beginning of all of my classes, I make it clear that it is possible, although not probable, that every student in the class can earn an A.  Exceptional performance is rewarded accordingly.  (I generally don't point out to them that they could all possibly earn F's :-).  In academics, it is not student versus student, with an equal number of winners and losers - it is individual students mastering the subject matter.  Intercollegiate athletics are nearly diametric to this fundamental mission of the university.  Regents, Presidents, etc., seem not to understand that athletic competition is a zero sum game - for every PAC 12 team that wins, another PAC 12 team loses.  For every 15-2 team, there is likely to be a 2-15 team.  And there is only one champion among the 12, and there will be only one football champion among the 120 Division I FBS teams, and 1 basketball champion among the 351 Division I basketball teams.

Another thing that is totally out of wack in Division I football and basketball is that it is now considered career advancement by moving from the ranks of professional sports to university sports. Of course the driving factor now is the money.  I have previously written about Rick [aka Dick IMHO] George's sweet deal [Money for Nothin'] to move from the Texas Rangers to CU, and most recently, CU hired an San Fancisco 49ers coach as an assistant football coach for $500,000 per year - highest in the history of CU.

I think that it would be great if the CU Regents, administrators and other powers-that-be torched football and [sadly as a Hoosier] basketball.  Can you imagine how great the remaining teams would be if the resources were re-directed their way??!!  The University of Alabama-Birmingham is the latest addition to the long list of schools that have eliminated Division I football.  Universities need to get out of the business of being minor-league development tools for professional teams.  Of course I know that there is not a snowballs chance that this will come to pass, but one can dream......

Monday, February 09, 2015


Some of you will remember my original post about the book Born to Run and Micah True, the Caballo Blanco.  It is the fourth-most viewed post on this blog!  


I recently read that the book is likely going to be made into a movie, with Matt McConaughey playing the role of Micah.  Here is the blurb from deadline.com

Matthew McConaughey has become attached to star in a Matthew Michael Carnahan-scripted adaptation of Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book, Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen.

The book told the story of how an award-winning journalist and often-injured runner headed for Mexico’s isolated, deadly Copper Canyons to find out how the blissful Tarahumara Indians honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. He tags along to discover their secrets and takes readers from Harvard science labs to sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit. This led to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pitted America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe.
The book spent 178 weeks on the NYT Bestseller list and is still selling 10,000 copies a month. It ignited the ‘barefoot running movement,” one of the most influential exercise innovations of the past decade and the catalyst for a new $2 billion industry in “barefoot-style” shoes. The book’s a bestseller in 12 countries and sold 2 million copies in the U.S. and half that around the world.

And this is a short portion from an article in Trail Runner Magazine:

Last week, Deadline that actor Matthew McConaughey would be starring in an upcoming movie based on Christopher McDougall’s 2009 bestseller, Born to Run. The book documents a 2006 race in Mexico’s Copper Canyon between top U.S. ultrarunners and the local Tarahumara people, famous for running days on end in homemade sandals.

Born to Run has been credited with fueling the barefoot-running craze and inspiring more Americans to take up trail running. Micah True, also known as Caballo Blanco, an ultrarunner who organized the Copper Canyon race and featured heavily in the book, became something of a cult hero following its publication. (True passed away in 2012.) With McConaughey’s star power and a big-screen audience, it’s entirely possible that the movie will have a similar—if not amplified—effect.

In reading about this, I learned that there already is a movie about Micah, and the trailer is below.  Any of you who are familiar with Boulder will recognize the west end of Pearl Street, where I believe it's Micah sitting outside a coffee shop reading from the book.

"Run Free - the True Story of Caballo Blanco" produced and directed by Sterling Noren.

“Perhaps the first trail running bum, True was an unusual suspect to inspire the recent barefoot-running movement. But when True invited Christopher McDougall to Mexico’s Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, he became a central figure in McDougall’s book, “Born To Run,” illuminating the minimal running techniques of the Tarahumara people. True passed away on a run in New Mexico’s Gila Desert in 2012, and now the Copper Canyon race has been renamed in True’s memory as Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco.”


By Mary J. Blige and Sam Smith

Guess it's true, I'm not good at a one-night stand
But I still need love 'cause I'm just a man
These nights never seem to go to plan
I don't want you to leave, will you hold my hand?
Oh, won't you stay with me?
'Cause you're all I need
This ain't love, it's clear to see
But darling, stay with me
Why am I so emotional?
No, it's not a good look, gain some self-control
And deep down I know this never works
But you can lay with me so it doesn't hurt
Oh, won't you stay with me?
'Cause you're all I need
This ain't love, it's clear to see
But darling, stay with me
Oh, won't you stay with me?
'Cause you're all I need
This ain't love, it's clear to see
But darling, stay with me

Oh, won't you stay with me?
'Cause you're all I need
This ain't love, it's clear to see

Sunday, February 01, 2015


Well Starnes gets no argument from me - seems obvious if you listen to this exposé

My friend and colleague Peter Enns is a theologian, well biblical scholar to be precise, and here is what Pete has to say:

Word is making its way around the blogosphere that Fox News is doubling as a theological think tank.

I don’t like picking on Fox News when they talk religion of any sort, including Christianity. It’s too easy and it gets boring.

But I can’t help myself here
According to the Fox News website, Michael Moore–who really hates this movie, I mean really, really hates it–tweeted about how inconsistent this movie is for Christian faith–hardly a sign of Moore’s Paul-like blinding light conversion, but more a dig.

Fox News took the bait. Correspondent Todd Starnes, after telling us twice that he’s “no theologian,” nevertheless makes a rather hefty theological claim in response to Moore: Jesus would be saying “well done thou good and faithful servant” to snipers plucking off Muslims, thus sending them to hell where they belong.

I think Starnes is mistaking Jesus for…well…not Jesus. Jesus had plenty of chances to wage war on people he didn’t like, and he had his enemies, but he preferred his sniping to remain verbal.
At least according to the Bible. Which I’ve read. More than once.

If anything, Jesus would have stepped in front of the target and taken the bullet.

“You mean, even for someone from the wrong religion?”

Yes. That’s how Jesus rolls. Jesus came to save, not condemn. And certainly not to reward snipers for killing the enemy.

I understand that the realities of modern warfare are such that snipers aren’t going anywhere–and dare I suggest they are a necessary evil? But what do I know? I’ve never seen war.

But rather than thinking of Jesus as giving a sniper a good ol’ boy slap on the back, maybe Jesus would have compassion on him when PTSD sets in and the burden on his conscience got too heavy for him to bear. That’s sounds more like the Jesus I’ve read about.

Maybe Jesus wouldn’t pick sides. Maybe Jesus isn’t American. Maybe Jesus would have compassion on the Muslim, too. That’s not too hard to imagine–if you’ve read the New Testament, even just parts of it.

The real problem here isn’t the spat between Moore and Starnes, and whatever, who cares. It isn’t Starnes’s cluelessness about Jesus 101. It’s not even that Starnes–like so many others–confuses his own nationalistic agenda’s for Gods.

It’s that, in the public eye, such extremist rhetoric is seen as an acceptable form of Christianity–if not its normal expression.

I’m tired of people like Starnes who for some unknown reason have access to a microphone, a camera, and get paid to talk.

I’m tired because letting people like Starnes talk about Jesus without adult supervision is like letting Justin Bieber discourse on Bach.

I’m tired because I have to explain to people that, even if they think Starnes is wrong, this is the kind of smug character Christianity seems to produce.

I’m tired–and angry–that many people will listen to Starnes and not conclude as they should, “What a complete fool; why is he talking?,” but “Wow, there goes another Christian.”

This isn’t personal. I don’t know Starnes and I can’t judge his deep motives. Maybe it’s all just about viewers. But don’t drag Jesus into it.

And when you have to preface a comment about Jesus by saying, “I’m no theologian,” you should probably trust that instinct and zip it or at least check for journalistic accuracy. Although at Fox, since when….Oh forget it.

Maybe people like Starnes give me job security.

Well done, good and faithful servant Pete.