On Riffraff

Dear Coach Creighton,

I don’t think we’ve met, not in person. I sent you a welcome to EMU email a few years ago when you accepted the position of head football coach, noting that I remembered you from your time in the early 2000s at Ottawa University (Kansas) because I was in Kansas City, working as NAIA Region V information officer, among other things.

I’m faculty at EMU now, where I’ve worked since 2009 and where I am beginning my fourth year as Director of the First-year Writing Program. It’s a large program, one of the largest cohesive academic programs insofar as we are responsible for curriculum and staffing of over 150 sections of WRTG120 and WRTG121 per year, sections that reach approximately 3,000 EMU students each year.

Early this morning I read about your media day press conference. Here’s the article: Eastern Michigan football survives rumors, with plans for progress. And then I went on a run, just a few miles around the neighborhood where I live three miles from campus. It was a great morning for a run; there is much to love about living in this area and about working at EMU.

As I ran, though, I was nagged by something you said on media day, something that was quoted in the Free Press article. For context, here’s the longer section where it appeared:

Athletic director Heather Lyke has broached the situation with open arms, fielding questions from concerned students and alumni, as has former interim President Donald Loppnow, current President James Smith and the Regents.

But Creighton said support from alumni and former players has been even better.

“It’s been the response to the riffraff in April from alumni that has been awesome,” he said. “People love this school and people love this football program.

“Guys put four, five years into playing college football. There’s life changing values, lessons, teammates, discipline, commitment, teamwork, overcoming adversity — it changes you.”

When you referred to “riffraff,” it comes as a poke, a finger in the chest of people like me, my colleagues, the students we work with. I want you to know I read it as such: a jab, an unkind instigation. When you say “riffraff,” it seems like you are referring to people who participated in campus dialogue in April about EMU’s subsidizing athletics at the university with 26 million dollars annually from the General Fund. In those dialogues, students expressed surprise at more than 10% of their tuition dollars underwriting athletics. And many faculty voiced concerns about that level of spending–what appears to many to be an unchecked and unquestioned rate of expenditure, calling questions of whether it is ethical, much less sustainable at a modest regional, public university like ours. Twenty-six million dollars a year is $500,000 per week. Not many universities–even the wealthiest–can afford to spend that kind of money for long.

Riffraff names “undesirable” people. It is a pejorative term, akin to name calling. Are we really riffraff for speaking openly and freely about what concerns us at the university? Maybe you would be willing to say more about who you are referring to? I hesitate–with great concern–to think you are talking about others whose work at EMU directly relates to teaching and to supporting student academically, or to the students themselves.

I’ll spare you idealistic platitudes about how open dialogue is vital to our institutional mission, or about the importance of noticing when some units at the university, such as yours, are supported by resources that far and away exceed units like the one I am responsible for. For perspective, consider this. The tuition dollars from the First-year Writing Program generate approximately 2.7 million USD per year for the General Fund. With last year’s 7.8% tuition hike, credit hours in this program alone brought an additional $260,000 to the university. We had a budget of approximately $15,200, which underwrites things like pizza lunches, the biannual Celebration of Student Writing, and $50 stipends for all in the program who attend a full-day professional development workshop in mid-August, our only such event of the year. We underspent that $15,200 by more than 25%, which is to say with a modest measure of pride that we are a frugal program and that we have been resourceful. Our new graduate assistants–there are thirteen this fall who will be teaching WRTG120, which some of your football student-athletes very well may be enrolled in–spend two weeks on campus in August without any compensation for their time besides parking vouchers and lunches for one week donated by a textbook publisher. And even though every section is full this fall, even though our program is nationally recognized as thoughtfully designed and even innovative, we just learned that we may be facing a 54% budget cut for the year ahead due to flawed budgetary projects. Granted, the current budget situation affects all of EMU (doesn’t it? I’m not sure whether you are hearing about 54% budget cuts in your program this year). And it points to only a tiny sliver of all we might say about how the expenditures and investments disfavor academic units, generally.

This message has already gone on too long, and although there are myriad other examples, illustrations, and anecdotes to point out, about our part-time lecturers not being paid until after a full month of classes, about how poorly paid are our graduate assistants who are entrusted with full responsibility for teaching classes, about aging technology infrastructure and declining support for the maintenance and refresh of the one laptop cart shared by our entire program–what I set out to convey to you, above all, amounts to two points.

First, I hope you’ll reconsider your characterization of those who are bold enough to call the question of EMU’s athletic spending as “riffraff.” Your program is the beneficiary of considerable institutional support, and as such, a degree of modesty and self-awareness would go a long way to improving goodwill. As a former student-athlete myself and as someone who worked in athletics administration at another university for seven years, I tend to be in support of athletics and all that it can offer. But this is incredibly difficult to do at EMU when what we see is a kind of spending-be-damned hubris. Whatever else can be said about the strengths and limitations of the programs we are responsible for, if we are colleagues, and if our respective goals are commensurable, then we need to do better than to name-call.

Second, it is incredibly, incredibly difficult to keep morale high in an environment like we have in EMU, where the two-tiered haves and have-nots are sitting side by side in a classroom. This dynamic reaches well beyond campus, as well, into community spaces, as well, where character and integrity circulate, not always favorably though oftentimes warranting notice and even raising questions. After one of my daughter’s soccer matches early this summer, I sat down with my dad and her at The Bomber for lunch. A group of football student-athletes, coaching staff, and eventually you along with your son, came in, sat down within earshot. Just before you arrived, some of the discussion loudly enough expressed for us to overhear was about drinking the night before, about how great it would be if The Bomber would serve up a pitcher of bloody marys. My daughter, who is now ten, gave me a hard look and asked what those were, why someone would want them with Saturday brunch. You see, there is consequence to the ways we conduct ourselves on campus and away from it, particularly when attired in (institutionally underwritten) green and white, when acting as agents of the university, when forgetting even for a moment that we are implicated in something bigger.

Just as you will, I will continue to do my work–to go to campus and be a professional, to boost morale, encourage and support top-shelf instruction in an aspirational if modest academic program, and to ask questions, sometimes hard questions, of the university I work for. I’ll urge everyone at EMU to do the same. And I am idealistic enough to think the university will be better for it. But I’m also idealistic enough to think we’ll all do better to undertake this if we are not, when we encounter dissent, willing to jab at those whose views differ from our own.

Sincerely,

Derek Mueller

Corrections:

08.21.2016 (7:52 p.m.) Moments after I posted this, I caught one minor typo and made the change right away. I also reworded the description of the experience at The Bomber so as to be clearer that I was there with my dad and daughter. This is significant because I was direct witness to the remarks; they are not second-hand.

I received a note from an EMU administrator on Sunday calling attention to two factual errors. The first is that part-time lecturers this fall will be paid on September 15. My description of that problem was based on the way things were handled last fall, when part-time lecturers were not paid until after the first full month of classes. I am encouraged to know that this has been addressed and improved.

And finally, the budget cut I noted applies to one department’s SSM operating budget. What does this mean? For starters it means that budgets are being cut unevenly across the institution right now. This entry does not in any way mean to establish that a campus-wide or uniform budget cut of 54% is a certainty. -DM

EMU and Real Sports

We’re in an interesting, important moment at EMU these days due to greater and greater concern about the institution’s budgetary condition and the sieve units on campus most prone to runaway spending. Ever since an HBO Real Sports segment, “Arms Race,” aired just over a week ago, the volume of these issues has climbed. In local and regional media, we’re catching various castings almost every day, many of them quoting regents, administrators, students, and Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting and faculty union leader, who has been among the most vocal proponents of more transparent and responsible spending. The most pointed details circulating are that over the past two years, athletics has operated on deficit (or General Fund dependency) of $52 million. Here’s a screen shot posted to Instagram from the report delivered to the Board of Regents that details how that deficit implicates all EMU students in patterned spending that obligates many of them to long-term payback via student loans. Each student who completes a four-year degree at EMU, the report says, contributes approximately $3600 to athletics, whether or not they attend a single event.

With this in mind, I wanted to note a couple of impressions:

  • It’s difficult, a heavy chore to call for less of anything, to call for less spending on athletics or on any university venture that involves people we work alongside, because there is always a risk of it seeming a personal attack. I mention this as a former student-athlete, myself, and also as someone who worked in higher ed athletics administration for seven years. These discussions of change, particularly dollar-wise change, are fraught, intensely emotional on all sides of the issues, and therefore incredibly difficult to reduce to clear causes much less clear solutions.
  • There are lingering narratives about underdogs (EMU is down but not out), about almosts (what if this is our breakthrough year?!), about unification (we’re all in this together), and about proportion (athletics is but a small sliver of the institution’s overall spending). These circulate as commonplaces, or readymade arguments that expedite, skipping over the nuance and subtlety, side-stepping the stickier work of correcting the problems. And as such, these are the sorts of snippets that tend to circulate in the news accounts because they are reportorially convenient.
  • It is always to admit failure, particularly for those in the mix (e.g., an AD or particularly supportive regents) who themselves have sports backgrounds because the allure of sports is in part its continuous progress trope: always improving, always getting better, no obstacle too grand, etc. But this thinking is especially dangerous if it manifests as an expensive hubris or megalomania, an inflexible insistence on staying the course when there is abundant and costly evidence that it is not going well. Could EMU make a change and therefore save money? Sure it could. But there are people in this mix who hold power and who are beneficiaries of the runaway spending. As these conditions solidify, we return to the familiar patterns of a growing, better-and-better-paid administrative class, rising tuition, and institutional inertia–conditions for inflexibility that cannot help but compromise the quality of academic programs while reaching as deeply as possible into the pockets of those who are most cheated–students.
  • For these issues to continue circulating, for them to become unstuck and for EMU to take up the hard work of institutional change will require more (and more public) faculty voices than Bunsis’. Discontent has been building for at least a few years, and it makes athletics difficult to really get behind, while sapping the morale in academic units on campus (where in some very specific cases, none of last year’s 7.8% tuition increase landed).
  • I’ve attended at least one football game every year since I was hired seven years ago. Ron English was the coach back then, and I recall that faculty (perhaps only new faculty) were provided season tickets for home games free of charge. But this has not happened since. This season, for the first time, I purchased season basketball tickets for both men’s and women’s programs. I went to maybe 20 home games, total. I noticed at the football game–season opener–that tickets cost considerably more than in past years, enough to make me pause and wonder whether at that price point I would return. Exiting the stadium after that game, I walked with two colleagues, and we found that half of the stadium was not only vacant but that many of the exits were locked. The Convocation Center, where basketball and a few other indoor sports compete, tends to feel better occupied for home events, but the entire upper deck of the stadium (much like the entire away side of Rynearson) is blocked off with tarps that prohibit anyone from sitting there. These are expensive tarps, too, elaborate in their printing and designed to condense the facility’s attendees, mitigate the traffic areas for cleaning, and so on.  There are numerous minor details to point out about the experience of attending these events that I won’t go into, but suffice it to say that these small details, such as the merchandise shop rarely being open during home basketball games, resonates with an overall impression of flagging institutional investment in the fan experience. That is, the investment is purely financial; it doesn’t show up as a more compelling experience at the events themselves.
  • Finally (for now), I’ll reiterate that without pointing a finger at anyone or calling into question the wisdom of university leadership in such matters, wherever that responsibility might fall, football in particular has been implicated in some questionable and expensive choices lately, from extravagant uniforms whose digital readout-like letterforms made it impossible to distinguish sevens and ones to efforts to rebrand Rynearson Stadium as “The Factory”–a move that to this day is an unsettlingly absurd turn of events. With concession stands called “Assembly Line,” gray artificial turf, hard hats, a quitting time whistle upon major in-game events, and promotional gimmicks that put real sledge hammers in the hands of football players so they can pose as if about to swing away at loose-stacked cinder block, “The Factory” is downright embarrassing–a conceptual fumble whose oh-no-not-again weight is heavier than all of the real football team’s real turnovers (punts included) for the last decade. I’d better not go on. But I sure would hope that investing bags of money in a wobbly enterprise would take greater care than to put good, long-loaned tuition dollars behind such an unconscionable rebranding effort as that.

This is enough for today, enough for now. I’ll end with one last quotation from a news article circulating in Mlive today, “EMU AD Lyke: ‘no question’ football must improve, wants to stay in MAC“:

In addition, a report, issued by members of the Faculty Senate Budget and Resources Committee, the EMU-AAUP and the student body, points to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16. Staff salaries doubled from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 “athletic personnel” added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU’s entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.

Here is where the frustration builds most pointedly: in the quiet, whispered truths like this that are uncomfortable to circulate because they amount to breathing lungfuls day in and day out of some fetid campus wind. In rates of personnel growth like this comes the disproportionately burdensome long-term investment that sets the university and its most vulnerable academic programs on a (possibly) disastrous course–unchecked spending justified by bizarre attachments to notions that ESPN broadcasts will compel, what? droves of new students? more ad revenue for activities not on ESPN? sudden national interest or relevance? I don’t know. But I will continue to pay attention as this plays out and try to make some sense of it in an occasional entry.

Factory Hyperadequated

I attended EMU’s season-opening football game against Morgan State on Saturday evening. Along with a colleague, I made my way through the ticket line, paid $15 for a general admission pass, and found seats on the aluminum benches on the south end of Rynearson Stadium well enough before kick-off to see some of the pre-game activities. Through a summer rebranding effort, which included the addition of gray astroturf (er, synthetic grass substitute), Rynearson now doubles as The Factory, a designation promoted publicly by the program’s new head coach. I was seated at the most distant end of The Factory away from where our football players made their entrance onto the field, an entrance I did not notice as special or distinctive at the time, but one that later made its (justifiable, embarrassing) rounds because of a peculiar wall-buster of an idea that involved several players wielding real sledge hammers as they attempted to knock over a loosely stacked wall of cinder blocks. The rally-cry might have been something like, “Some of us will move brick walls together.”

Have a look for yourself.

Some have characterized the wall smash theatrics as a dim stunt, others as a silly but forgivable mishap. I agree that it could have been better. Foam bricks, if we must.

The game itself played out as an even match. EMU took a slight lead into a fourth quarter lightning and ominous weather suspension. After an hour, the suspension lifted, and the game played out as a victory for the Eagles by the same score, 31-28.

Yet, in its aftermath, observing as I have some of the strained exchanges about the wall smash episode, the status of the program, attitudes toward extravagances in what are felt elsewhere around campus to be lean times, I remain stuck on The Factory and the labor metaphor it calls, stuck because it has been summoned in haste and perhaps a bit too strenuously.

True, EMU sits in so-called automation alley; factories (many closed, left behind) are thick across the area landscape. And a fantastic, idealistic notion of factories does–for some, I guess–conjure up images of coordinated human-machine brilliance, hard work, sweat, pride, toughness, overtime pay, and camaraderie. Else: chronic fatigue, robot workers, union busting, environmental hazards, sore hands and backs, funny smelling air, indoor lighting, machinic-ambient noises, and so on. This is all just to acknowledge that factories are not so easily envisioned in a warm, soft pillow of feel-good enthusiasm. Factories don’t rally for me much sense of a bright and promising future; instead, I think of my neighbor in college who could barely pay bills while making seats for Ford on third shift. And as such, coupled with the gray turf, The Factory is a marketing frame that becomes memorable, though not always favorably memorable.

I don’t mean to take pot-shots on the campaign. Not at all. But I do think it is setting up a fascinating case of metaphor and its limits. I.A. Richards in The Philosophy of Rhetoric wrote about dead metaphors, and he used adequate as a verb to pinpoint the metaphor’s all-full capacity to excite the interpretive leap from one familiar frame (e.g., football stadium) to another whose pairing would amplify the significance of the first (e.g., factory). That amplification reaches its limits when two become one (i.e., when stadium and factory align). Richards says that the metaphor, once adequated, is dead. It stops exciting those leaps and instead grows weary, tiresome, banal. Wan metaphor. Dead metaphor.

Dead metaphors can re-awaken. And I don’t think it’s quite right to say that The Factory is a dead metaphor. Not yet. But adequation might be useful in helping us grasp what’s going on with our football program’s attention-hungry campaign. For instance, I lost count of how many times the work whistles blew–whoo!–during Saturday’s game, not because they were infrequent but because they were torturously too many, too many for my taste, anyway. Somebody would make a play, and the stadium would ring (chirp? bellow? cry out?) with a couple of toots of a work whistle. This along with the gray turf and along with the wall smash constitutes a tropical hybrid between metaphor and hyperbole–such an effortful blast that the metaphor has gone from invoked to something like hyperadequated since June 19 when The Factory was first announced. By hyperadequated, I mean that the metaphor is extra dead, groping zombie-like and unselfaware for attention that risks making reasonable people–prospective fans–turn away, cover their ears. Maybe this is what becomes of metaphor when it is grandstanding, straining so hard to take hold that any purported significance is eclipsed by its trying too hard to take hold and to circulate.

Comfort Inventory 8

I started a comfort inventory this morning, but, not finding it comforting, I postponed.

  • For the first time this summer, the heat and humidity on the eighth (a.k.a., “magma”) floor of Hoyt Hall forced me to vacate. I dropped Ph. at The Ride stop near the Ypsi water tower, went directly to my office, hurriedly packed two bags of books, my third-year review binder-in-progress, my auxiliary monitor and its stand, and returned home to work in the quasi-air-conditioned upstairs space otherwise known as the office-bedroom. Hoyt and humidity, you win.
  • A couple of strange emails lately. One from my credit union with the subject line, “We’re Friends, Aren’t We?” The body message, of course, suggests I friend the union on Facebook (apparently they do not realize that Facebook is passé, that Google+ is now social media boss). Annoying. Yet emails like this one remind me that the key difference among these platforms is how they verb things together. I might follow the credit union or even draw them into a circle, but friending is not quite right. I could go on and on about this, but that goes against the list-logic of the inventory. The point is, if Google+ thrives, it could be because it managed to shed some of the peculiarity in friending and following as the default association-making verbs in Facebook and Twitter. I have seen attempts to assign verbs to Google+ (encircling, plusing), and maybe one of these will garner some mass appeal over the next several months. But I like about Google+ that the linking gesture does not too easily come down to one verb.
  • The other email of note came from the University of Michigan ticket marketing group. I got on the mailing list because I went to a preseason basketball game last fall between UM and SVSU. Many UM sport-promotional emails have followed. The most recent showed up the other day with “Brady Hoke” as the named sender (a cryptic email address reassured me this was not, in fact, the new coach himself sending me a personal email…to my great disappointment!). Subject line: Your Exclusive Individual Ticket Presale Code Has Arrived! I read on, knowing EMU plays at UM this fall. Reading it through, I was tempted to answer the email, even though I know it won’t go to Hoke, to say “Your Exclusive Individual No Thank-you Has Arrived!” because what I found surprised me: individual tickets to the UM-EMU football game on Sept. 17 are available for the special price of $70. To put this into perspective, home ticket prices for EMU are $9. Michigan Stadium is 5.6 miles away. Last time these two gridiron giants squared off, the EMU contingent was offered free tickets the week before the game. So, I am considering attending, but I may press my cheap luck and hold out for a better deal than $70 per ticket. And if it sells out, I’ll just have to listen to it on the radio.
  • I’ve been fiddling around with the Google+ photo combination that includes 1) the Android app’s automatic upload of photos to a G+ folder, 2) the duplication of that folder in Picasa, and 3) weighing the merits of Picasa over Flickr, where I continue to hold an shamefully underused Pro account. Consequently, here is a photo I took of an enormous moth just before eight this morning as I left Hoyt with my desk essentials in a couple of reusable grocery bags. But this inventory item is as much about Picasa’s linking and embedding functions as it is about the moth. By now perhaps they are one and the same, inseparable.
    From Blog

Minor Blues Pattern

“Comin’ Home Baby” because it’s EMU’s Homecoming today. The Eagles football team enters the noontime kickoff (underway!) versus Ohio U. on a 15-game losing skid. Something tells me EMU has a good enough chance this homecoming of breaking the minor blues pattern that has become known as “the streak,” a bad luck stretch of albatrossian proportions. For my part, I will not be attending the game; I will remain warmly ensconced in front of my computer, responding to a series of inquiry memos from 326ers and then preparing for the first of two observed class sessions on the calendar in the week ahead.

Fantasy FB

By the conclusion of last fall’s fantasy football season, I thought I probably wouldn’t bother playing again. And then, just like the year before, a couple of invitations came around in August, and I caved in, dragged, kicking and fighting, into two competitive leagues. Next year at this time, the NFL may well be in the midst of a lockout, which doesn’t bode well for fantasy football. Also, these are low-stakes leagues insofar as there is no money involved. Not much on the line here: disembarrassment plus a few minutes of time and attention each week. Right? Right.

The first is an eight-team league; the second is a twelve-team league. By some stroke of fantastic luck, I scored the number one pick in both leagues this year. Rosters look like this:

Team Oblivion (eight-team league, Facebook)
QB	Phillip Rivers		SD	
RB	Chris Johnson		TEN	
RB	Steven Jackson		STL
WR	DeSean Jackson		PHI
WR	Calvin Johnson		DET
WR	Dwayne Bowe		KC
TE	Brent Celek		PHI	
K	Stephen Gostkowski	NE
D	Baltimore Ravens	
B	Jay Cutler, QB		CHI
B	Jahvid Best, RB		DET
B	Ronnie Brown, RB	MIA
B	Mike Wallace, WR	PIT	
B	Mike Sims-Walker, WR	JAC
Ypsilanti Juggernauti (twelve-team league, NFL.com)
QB	Joe Flacco		BAL	
RB	Chris Johnson		TEN	
RB	Deangelo Williams	CAR
WR	Roddy White		ATL
WR	Malcolm Floyd		SD
W/R	Ronnie Brown		MIA
TE	Jason Witten		DAL	
K	Dan Carpenter		MIA
D	San Francisco 49ers	
B	Greg Olsen, TE		CHI
B	Chad Henne, QB		MIA
B	Dez Bryant, WR		DAL
B	Eddie Royal, WR		DEN
B	Nate Burleson, WR	DET	
B	Davonne Bess, WR	MIA

Obviously the pool of players to choose from was somewhat more diluted by the late rounds of the twelve-team draft. The second team doesn’t have an established, elite quarterback. Who knows how the 49ers defense will be this year (even in a weaker-than-most division)? And there’s not much depth at the RB position. I may be able to cover for this because the second league has a WR/RB flex slot. Even so, if Chris Johnson or Ronnie Brown was to get hurt, both teams would falter. I don’t know whether either team will contend in its respective league. That’s contingent upon so many different factors between now and December. But I do think the drafts went okay. Just two regrets I can recall: in the smaller league, choosing the Ravens D as early as I did (a ran-out-of-time pick) and, in the bigger of the two leagues, missing my chance at Colts RB Donald Brown.

Week Eight

FF.Team Charmin: Week Eight

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m in a fantasy football league this fall. It’s a low-key affair: select a “starting lineup” from among your team of players and then watch each Sunday as their on-field performances translate into fantasy points. I’m finding that I enjoy it far more than straight-up picking winners for every game each week (and getting half or more wrong). This fantasy football league strikes a nice balance, meaning that it’s not too time-intensive (just a few minutes each week to set the roster) but it re-focuses my attention and my drifting, contingent fanhood to a different group of players than I would otherwise root for, much less notice. Because I’m in on the FF league, I’m slightly more interested each Sunday and partial to certain players than I would be otherwise–perhaps it’s the only way to remain interested as an unflinching Lions fan.

Above, I adopted the Fantasy Football analysis format used by Sean Yuille at Pride of Detroit. My impression is that our league is not as detailed in its scoring, and I don’t have the time or inclination to provide analysis on all eight teams, but I have summed today’s clash between my own Team Charmin and the Salacious Antiquarian Society, a team that handily trounced us and disposed of our three-game win streak today. Today’s loss makes it a sweep of Team Charmin for the Antiquarian’s this season.

What’s not to feel lowly or dispirited about? Well, for one thing the rating shows that I scored exactly as many points as I could have with the roster I have. It wouldn’t have helped had I started my other QB or juggled the lineup otherwise. I should qualify that this will remain the case until Chris Johnson (RB, Titans) has a record-setting four touchdown game tomorrow night. He’s on the bench (i.e., Team Charmin’s bench), and perhaps he should have started ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew (RB, Jaguars) who racked up a staggering three points for the club earlier today. Anyway, that’s today’s FF analysis: Team Charmin was walloped, 103-75. Next week, always next week.

Free Cantons

 

Stupid?

A classical view (based on the unity of the human person): stupidity is an
hysteria: it would be enough to see oneself as stupid in order to be less so. A
dialectical view: I agree to pluralize myself, to permit free cantons of
stupidity to live within me.

Often he has felt stupid: this was because he had only an ethical
intelligence (i.e., neither scientific nor political nor practical nor
philosophical, etc.). (RB 110)

Yesterday was the
Barthes of
September
, the day of the year that has, around here, become blogically devoted to
excerpts a la Roland. Oh how nice it would be if this–missing Barthes Day–was
the only thing off a little bit these days. Decrypted: I’m still on the
rebound from that flu bug (it was a damn fine foe), and, as luck would have it,
Tom Brady was my number one pick on my fantasy football team, which, pity that
it is, still makes me wonder why, if it’s fantasy, he can’t be healthy
and put up big numbers this season.

Do You Believe In Now?

Detroit Lions training camp begins today, and the title above–word
has it
–is the banner material leading their 2008-2009 charge toward the NFC
playoffs. 

What, no playoffs, you say? In that case, "Do you believe in now?" will
be their slogan as they surge to a week eight "pundit’s mention" of a slim
possibility
that they will make the post-season. Right: like last year.

Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit
puts it this way:

Detroit undoubtedly could have come up with something that doesn’t draw
instant mocking, but that’s exactly what happened with the slogan as most
people answer the question with "no." To be specific, 77% of over 1000
people voted no in a poll on Pride of Detroit that featured the Lions’
slogan. That means well over 800 people do not believe in now, which should
come as no surprise.

Believe in now? I’m clinging to the response, "yes until no," which
means that I, for one, believe in now about the same as I believed in any Lions’
season since I was old enough to have beliefs (I can’t pinpoint the date, but
the very possibility of belief in the Lions’ chances must’ve come about during
the Chuck Long era).

Now? Not a whole lot more than then. Yet, sadly, I will persist
in my Lions fandom, so, ‘yes’ for the duration of training camp at the very
least.

Added: Also, there is this, which includes this:

Dome Game

SU’s offensive sagnificence in

Sunday’s 15-7
home loss to Big East rival West Virginia was inversely
proportional to the solid performance by the defensive unit.  SU on
offense: naught for 15 on third downs and a grand total of 103 yards. SU on defense: five takeaways.  SU
on offense: six points for, eight points
allowed (interception for TD and a safety). 

Entrance

Continue reading →