21 December 2008

Well, that didn't go well

Long story short, BYU's offense was held in check by Arizona's fairly good defense last night. The failure of the Cougar defense was to be expected, but for the third time this season, the Cougar offense, which returned many starters, was unable to move the ball when it mattered most.

What is common among these three instances? TCU, Utah and Arizona represent the three good-to-great defenses. And all three times, BYU ended up recording a convincing loss. 

This was not a good team. 

It seems odd to be so utterly disappointed in a 10-3 team, but it's the reality. Look at the schedule:

Northern Iowa: 43-17 win. FCS team. This win really shows nothing either way.

Washington: 28-27 win. Washington finished the season winless (that's impressive all on its own), but they lost Jake Locker after four games, so I'm not sure the team that showed up versus BYU is the same team that lost to California 48-7. That said, the Huskies were not a good team at any point in 2008. A road win over a BCS team is usually impressive, but in this instance, BYU fans found little to be excited about.

UCLA: 59-0 win. The Bruins finished 4-8. The 59 they gave up to the Cougars was the most they allowed all season, but this game seems raher fluky. A couple early turnovers and quick scores on the UCLA defense demoralized the Bruins and that was that. 

Wyoming: 44-0 win. Same story as UCLA, in my opinion. Early turnovers combined with BYU jumping out to an early lead led to the Cowboys giving up. Finished 5-7.

Utah State: 31-14 win over a 3-9 team. 

New Mexico: 21-3 win, at home. Lobos ended with a 4-8 record. I attended this game, and while the final score is somewhat impressive, at no time did I feel like BYU was the overwhelmingly better team. 

TCU: 32-7 loss. TCU is 11-1, and definitely a great team. BYU walked into a buzzsaw on this one. 

UNLV: 42-35 win. The Rebels went 5-7 this season, and the Cougars had to rely on a late touchdown to beat them. At home. 

Colorado State: 45-42 win. The Rams are a middle-of-the-road team, and this was a win on the road for BYU. Colorado State beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl yesterday to put their record at 7-6. Their losses came to Colorado, California, BYU, Utah, TCU and Air Force.

San Diego State: 41-12 home win. Against a 2-10 team. Not much to be enthusiastic about here. 

Air Force 38-24 win. This is an 8-4 team, and the Cougars beat them in Colorado Springs. This was a good win. 

Utah: 48-24 loss. We all know how this game went. Utah is undefeated and set to play in a BCS bowl. 

Bottom line: BYU's nine FBS wins came against teams with a combined record of 38-71. Their three losses came against  teams with a combined record of 31-6. 

Nothing special here, folks. BYU was a good team, not a great one in 2008. 

And the sad thing is that at this point, there's not a lot to be excited about for next season.

Such is the danger of high expectations. 

20 December 2008

What brings me back to blogging after two weeks?

Getting hosed by refereeing. 

Today's BYU vs. Arizona State basketball game was jam-packed with stuff to write about, but the one thing I want to focus on is the final play. 

A lot happened after the ball was inbounded from the baseline, but the question that decided the game was whether or not the ball had left Abouo's hand before time had expired or not. 

Replay after replay was inconclusive. For the referees to initially call it good, then overturn it after 30 seconds of staring at tiny courtside monitor is criminal.

And to be clear, here is the official rule from the NCAA rulebook:

Rule 5, Article 2.b
In games with a 10th-of-a-second game clock display and where an official courtside monitor is used, the reading of zeros on the game clock is to be used to determine whether a try for goal occurred before or after the expiration of time in any period. When the game clock is not visible, the officials shall verify the original call with the use of the red/LED light(s). When the red/LED light(s) are not visible, the sounding of the game-clock horn shall be utilized. When definitive information is unattainable with the use of the monitor, the original call stands.

There it is... the original call was a made basket, yet it was overturned thanks to very very cloudy evidence. Unless the refs used a closer and higher resolution shot of the play than the one FSN had, there's no way on earth they could have found incontrovertible evidence that the shot did not get off in time.

It's unfathomable.

I'm not even going to mention how Arizona State's James Harden went to the line more times than the entire BYU team combined. 

What a terrible loss. Here's hoping the football team can win convincingly enough that the refs can't have any hand in the game one way or another.

06 December 2008

Things I was completely wrong about this NBA season

1. Derrick Rose is the real deal. After watching him in college, I saw him as a shooting guard with great finishing skills and not much range. However, as a rookie on a fairly bad team, he's averaging 19 points, six assists, and four rebounds a game. And he's getting better; he has had a few 10-assist games lately, and has displayed a pretty nice jumper. I was way off base about him. 15 and 8 tonight with two steals. 

2. I was also wrong about Michael Beasley. While he's not exactly dominating, I figured he was a bit too small to play the 4 well. Instead, he's averaging 14.5 points and five rebounds a game in 28 minutes a game. I can only imagine he'll improve as he gets more experience.

3. I was wrong about Paul Millsap. In debating whether he could take over for Boozer as the starting power forward, I said he'd probably average 17 and 8 or so... but since Boozer went out with his hamstring, Paul is racking up around 20 and 10 in eight games started. Tonight he had 16 points, 11 boards, three steals, and two blocks before picking up his fourth foul early in the third against Phoenix. Got slapped with his fifth soon after entering the game in the fourth, and finished with 20 points and 12 boards. 

There are more examples, but in general, I'm being proved terrible at judging talent. And honestly, that doesn't bother me too much. It means the quality of the league will be better over the next decade or so. 

Obama = FDR?

From the Chicago Tribune:

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday pledged to launch the biggest public works program since the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s as part of his plan to create millions of new jobs and stem an economic tailspin that is growing worse by the day.

"We need action, and action now," Obama said in a weekly address broadcast on radio and posted as a YouTube video.

It is now official. Obama is the second coming of FDR.

Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your personal interpretation.

05 December 2008

This Jazz team seems somewhat injury-prone

An interesting statistic from the Deseret Morning News' Tim Buckley, via Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie blog:
Barely more than a month into the 2008-09 NBA season, the Jazz already have lost 66 man-games to injury and personal leave.

That's more than double what future Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone missed in their 37 combined seasons playing for the Jazz.

I had to read that a couple times. 37 COMBINED SEASONS? More than double? Crikeys. Stockton and Malone may have never won a title, but they are most certainly the most durable duo ever in the NBA. 

In other news, the Jazz are fairly stinky as of late. I probably won't bother commenting on the team until they've got a healthy starting lineup back (though with Boozer's hammy history, who knows when that will be?). 

Later today: Things I have been incredibly wrong about this NBA season.

04 December 2008

Global Warming (Climate Change)

As part of a Geology 110 class I am currently enrolled in I was assigned to watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the film The Great Global Warming Swindle as part of a unit on Climate Change. 

I don't want to get into all the nuts and bolts here, but here are a few points I would like to make:

1. Al Gore and other proponents of the human-induced climate change theory are vehement in their belief that the debate is over. There is no scientific basis to oppose this theory, and there exists a "consensus" in the scientific community in support of it. In Gore's movie the former vice president specifically states that a search of over 900 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals yielded no results in opposition to his theory. 

This strikes me as ridiculous. Science is all about debate. There are very, very few absolute laws in the scientific world. And even with something so widely-accepted as correct like the law of gravity, if new evidence disproving this law came into evidence, the reality of gravity would be reconsidered. 

Yet here we have a theory dealing with one of the most volatile and misunderstood aspects of the world, weather, and we're 100% sure we know what's going on. Scientists can't even predict whether it will rain or not this weekend, and somehow they're dead certain about worldwide weather conditions over the next century. 

And there is, in fact, plenty of scientific opposition to the theory of man-made climate change. 

This attitude of "we're shutting our ears to opposing viewpoints la la la I can't hear you" is honestly frightening. 

2. The basis of the human-induced climate change theory is data taken from ice core samples retrieved from Antarctica. The short version is this: when snow falls, it traps atmosphere in little bubbles inside. Drilling down into the ice, scientists can analyze atmosphere from hundreds of thousands of years ago and determine its composition and even the temperature from that time. 

Both sides of the discussion use this data, and both reach very different conclusions.

Gore notices an obvious correlation between CO2 levels in the atmosphere and global temperature. He then deduces that CO2 levels cause temperature, like so:

His opponents, however, use the age-old argument that correlation does not necessarily prove causation. Just because the trains run on time in Budapest whenever I eat oatmeal for breakfast does not mean it logically follows that my eating habits control the Hungarian rail system. 

In fact, graphs like the one below show that CO2 levels do in fact rise and fall with temperature, but lag behind global temperatures changes by hundreds of years. Temperatures rise or fall and then CO2 levels rise or fall to follow it.

Bottom line, there is controversy surrounding the very base level of human-induced climate change theory. In my research, I have yet to see a response to the above chart. 

Then we have the claim that global temperatures have actually been falling since 1996, despite rising CO2 levels thanks to the U.S. and developing nations like India and China. 

3. Carbon dioxide is not an inherently damaging substance. It's a naturally-occurring carbon atom combined with two oxygen atoms. Every living thing emits CO2. Trees, cows, people, snails, algae, everything. Volcanoes emit CO2. I'm all for limiting truly damaging emissions, such as those from coal-fired power plants and cars, but CO2 on its own will not kill us all. 

4. And finally, climate changes. As the charts show (no matter who is using them), temperature fluctuates all over the place. The continents drift. Mountains erode. Animal species die out. All of this has been going on long before humans existed on the planet. The belief that humans control the weather is borderline narcissistic, in my opinion. 

Back in the 1970's, the fear among scientists was one of human-induced global cooling. Here's a link to a Newsweek article from 1975 lamenting an increase in tornadoes and other calamities. The author says climatologists " are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects."

Sound familiar? A mere thirty years ago we were scared out our minds that human industry and technology were freezing the world. Then, somehow, the temperatures stopped falling, and did we see a mass retraction from these scientists? Nope. Instead, as the world temperatures started to rise again, these same individuals are whipping us into a terrified frenzy because human industry and technology are frying the world. Forgive me for being skeptical. 

So here we are. In all of this, my main point is that there is in fact plenty of legitimate debate on this topic. Whether or not you are swayed by the opposing arguments is almost irrelevant. If all I communicate is that the claim of a "scientific consensus" is bunk, I'll be happy. 

I find it interesting that many of those who believe in human-caused climate change are those who have rejected God and traditional faith. I think many of these individuals fill their need to believe in something with faith in global warming. Just an observation. 

So take the time to research and investigate the data on your own. For an issue that can have such far-reaching effects on our lives, do we really want to trust a politician on this one?

02 December 2008

A Bond retread timeline

I watched Casino Royale again yesterday, and came away realizing I don't fully understand that movie. To help, I wrote this timeline:

-The super-secret worldwide organization with unknown aims (heretofore referred to as "Quantum") is organized.

-Vesper Lynd meets Algerian boyfriend/spy, he is “kidnapped” and held for ransom. Is this before the Casino Royale poker game is organized? Did Quantum know Vesper would be the one to represent the Treasury, or was it just dumb luck?

-The Quantum recruits Le Chiffre to invest their money sometime around here.

-MI6 somehow tracks down the bomb maker in Madagascar. Bond kills him, gets his cell phone.

-Bond uses the cell to track down the middleman in the Bahamas, kills him in Miami.

-Bond thwarts Le Chiffre's plan to short sell the airplane manufacturer stock, Le Chiffre loses millions of dollars that aren't his, including the Quantum's. The Quantum and other clients are angered.

-Bond discovers Le Chiffre's “tell” during the first hand of the game. Bond is burned by this, either because a.) he was arrogant and fell for LeChiffre's use of a false “tell,” b.) Vesper tipped Le Chiffre off about Bond having discovered it or c.) Mathis betrayed Bond by tipping Le Chiffre off. I favor the first theory.

-Bond beats Le Chiffre at poker, wins $150 million, Le Chiffre has failed and is desperate.

-Le Chiffre “kidnaps” Vesper (is she in on it?) and tortures Bond to get the password for the poker winnings. (Does Le Chiffre's plan involve ambushing the Swiss dude and getting the briefcase/computer thing?) (Also, he doesn't need the account number from Vesper. He can have the winnings transferred to any account he wants, right?)

-Mr. White arrives and kills Le Chiffre and others (spares Vesper and Bond, part of the plan from the beginning?) presumably because Le Chiffre blew the Quantum's money and failed to regain it.

-Bond falls in love with Vesper, while Vesper at the very least pretends to fall in love with Bond.

-The Swiss arrives, Vesper keys in an account (not the Treasury's) and Bond has her key in the password. The poker winnings are transferred.

-Days later, Bond and Vesper and about leave to travel the world. Bond, at least, is sold on the idea. Is Vesper? Is she sold on it until she sees the man with the eyepatch glasses? If so, has she planned to abandon her Algerian boyfriend? It seems more likely she was just waiting for the Quantum to make contact with her.

-Vesper goes to the bank and withdraws the poker winnings from the account she deposited them into back in Italy.

-Bond receives a call from M, asking why he hadn't deposited the winnings yet. At that moment, he realizes he's been had.

-Bond chases Vesper down as she makes an exchange with eyepatch glasses guy and goons. EG guy attempts to take Vesper hostage in order to get Bond to back off, not realizing Bond has figured out at least a part of the plot, and isn't interested in Vesper living (later proved to be a bluff?).

-Bond kills EG guy and goons (all Quantum?).

-Vesper locks the elevator she's in and lets herself drown as Bond looks on. Does she do it for Bond? Mr. White later says they would have used Vesper to control Bond if she hadn't died. Does she realize that? Does she believe her Algerian boyfriend will be killed because the Quantum will believe she brought Bond with her to the exchange? Is she in love with both men?

-Mr Green looks on (silent observer the whole time?) and leaves with the $150 million after Vesper is dead.

-The Quantum fakes the death of the Algerian boyfriend, and he moves on to seducing a Canadian government official (why Canada?).

-Blah blah blah stealing Bolivia's water and selling it back at double the rate blah blah blah Bond stops it blah blah.


1. Was Casino Royale merely about money? Is every intrigue and plot related to either Le Chiffre winning back the money he lost or Quantum ensuring their money is taken care of? I don't see any evidence to the contrary.

2. Is the same true for Quantum of Solace? The entire plot is predicated on the Quantum gaining money, and perhaps power (in Bolivia? Meh).

3. What is Vesper's motivation in killing herself?

4. What are the Quantum's goals? For such a powerful organization, are they interested in world domination? What?

Comments appreciated.