Afoot!, football refs, music books

Things I’m thinking:

  • If I was a detective, or if I was writing a detective story, I’d never have someone say “The game is afoot!” … Why? Glad I asked.
    • Because “afoot” is a terrible name for a game. I get that there are games based on “Dr. Pimple Popper” and stuff, but “Afoot, the Game” is just… too far.
    • If it’s NOT the name of a game, then … you’re risking stepping on whatever game it is you’re talking about. Detectives detect. They don’t step on what they’re hunting. That changes them from detectives to … step-upon-ers.
    • Again, if you’re a detective and you’re on a case – it’s not a game! Take your job seriously, detective! Sheesh!
  • As bad as I feel for the Saints, I’m glad the NFL is going to have to confront officiating in some fashion. Refs have really struggled these past two years on both the collegiate and pro levels, with fans being able to see things that really should have been called being missed, and refs focusing on ticky-tack things instead… I almost hope there’s a “voice of the watchers” kind of reviewer put in place, someone who says, “Look, a four-year-old can see that. Throw the flag,” or “If you’re going to call THAT, you’re going to have to call THIS, too,” or even “If you’re NOT going to call that, you shouldn’t be calling this.”
  • I’ve done no music of any kind for a while now. This is getting distressing, and I need to change it.
  • Speaking of: limited time offer from Humble Bundle: Computer Music Books from MIT Press.

Big Time!, Politics and Empathy, Football

Things I am observing myself thinking about:

  • I can’t listen to Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” these days without thinking that it’s something like Donald Trump’s theme song.
  • I’ve hit a wall in exercising. Need more motivation. Need to push harder. (Oddly enough, my annoyance at having hit a wall was motivating.)
  • I think a lot of the United States’ political dysfunction is rooted in the ability of either side to say “I see your point.” What we need is both sides to be able to say that – and for them to attempt to say it, and for them to say it willingly.
  • It’s not just politics – in programming forums you see a lot of “I know more than you, therefore you’re an idiot” responses. Someone may know more than someone else, but that kind of response is unnecessary, regardless of truth – and the conclusion of idiocy is stupid.
  • I have seen a ton of interceptions made over the last few years where a fairly easily catchable ball bounces off of the receiver’s hands and into a defender’s arms. I think it’s time we blame this on the receiver instead of the QB; the QB threw the ball well!
  • Yes, I Could Care Less” is a fascinating read for one like me. There’s a balance between being correct and being readable, especially in context.
  • I’m still unimpressed by WordPress’ Gutenberg editor.

Football fans, daily writing, fasting

Things I have observed recently:

  • Football fans – even fans of my own favorite teams – can be absolute jerks and tools.
  • I am committed to writing this… series or whatever it is. Yet it’s only a thing, and not the thing. Consistency is difficult.
  • I would really love each observation to be relevant, heavy, big even if it’s not, like, a big deal, but that doesn’t happen. It requires focus and acceptance, which I find useful.
  • I don’t mind fasting, but being required to fast (blood test later today) sucks. Stop telling me what to do, Necessity!
  • Yeesh, these are slowing down. They’ve been every two days instead of every day. I’ve been preoccupied.
  • One of the problems caused by media bias – in ANY direction – is that nothing seems reliable unless you agree with it.

NCAA Football, accents, free will

Things I’m thinking about Monday:

  • Tonight’s the last NCAA football game of the season. Thank goodness. I hope it’s a good one.
  • I want to pronounce “Monday” with a Scottish accent, but it turns out I have no idea how to make it sound like it’s a Scottish accent. It’s not my accent, whatever it is, but I have a feeling a Scot would be… unamused to hear it. In my head I’m thinking a Scot would say “Wot the bloody … is that” but on thinking about it, I think even that sounds more Irish in my head. And I’m sure the Irish would be offended by that. Maybe I should stick to my native Southern accent.
  • I’m still trying to keep up my exercise regimen. My core is stronger than it was, already – this is a very good thing – but I’m constantly sore, which isn’t bad, but it’s not good. Still keeping it up, though. Haven’t really lost significant weight yet.
  • Professionally, few things annoy me as much as when an AWS container reboots on me.
  • I tend to speak little and quietly, not because I think volume adds gravitas, but because I recognize the value most of my words have for others (not a lot) and I don’t want them to feel bad for interrupting.
  • Tool’s “Right in Two” is a fantastic song. The opening lyrics include “… Why did Father give these humans free will? Now they’re all confused” – which is a great line – but isn’t that a natural result of having free will? Free will doesn’t mean making the RIGHT choice every time, it means making your own choice. Still a great song.
  • I would far rather be “a good guy” than “the good guy.” It’s not a zero-sum game.

Places, football, Facebook

Things I have learned recently, I think:

  • Every so often, you figure out that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this particular time. That can be reassuring or frightening, I suppose, depending on your outlook.
  • College football this year has been boring. Sure, I’m affected by not having a pony in the race (FSU missed out on bowl eligibility for the first time in close to four decades) but the quality of the bowls themselves hasn’t been that great: questionable officiating, a number of blowouts and games where the winners were easily predictable, and so forth. I don’t remember watching a single game that I’ve really enjoyed, apart from watching it with my wife and my son – that part’s been great. But I’m glad the bowls are over except for the championship. One more to go… and this one (Alabama vs. Clemson) gives me hope that it’s a competition.
  • I used one of the spray can dusters this morning on the MacBook Pro; it’s running more quietly, woohoo! — but I can’t get the taste of the residue off of my lips. No, I didn’t spray it at myself; it’s just in the air. Bleugh.
  • Yes, I deactivated my Facebook account and no, nothing’s wrong. It just takes too much time and attention away from other things.
  • I still don’t care for the Gutenberg editor in WordPress. What I’d really like is AsciiDoctor for WordPress… but I don’t know PHP, don’t want to learn PHP, and the available plugins for it are kinda eh, as far as I can tell. The last updates for the AsciiDoc plugins for WordPress are three years old… not a good sign.


Things I have learned recently:

  • People still don’t really get JNDI, and the Java frameworks around today make it easy to ignore, even though it’s still a core technology. It’s not difficult to see how it can be confusing: context in JNDI is everything, and context makes it a challenge to create examples that make sense in the general case.
  • At some point I’d like to learn Go.
  • Not something I’ve learned, but something I’ve been reflecting on this morning because … uh… I have no idea why: I wonder if Adidas shoes are any good, or what they’re good for. I tend to wear Vans Ultrarange shoes these days because they’re light, comfortable, and last forever – I have two working pairs, one for working in the yard and one for wearing – but… Adidas.
  • I really wish officials and announcers wouldn’t show bias during football games. As an FSU guy, I’m really, really, really tired of this – but I’ve been watching other teams’ bowl games (because FSU didn’t go bowling this year, first time in 40+ years) and it happens for them, too, often egregiously. The announcers I don’t care as much about, but the referees… those guys need to be fair, for real. The fact that there’s no urgency in making sure they’re fair is incredibly frustrating and erodes the game. n one game, a team had two defenders ejected for targeting… and the other team had an obvious false start missed, and a few targeting possibilities ignored by the guys in stripes. Let’s just say nope to all that. There needs to be a way for the league to tell these refs what they’re missing, and to either call it fairly or get out. It’s gotten really bad over the last few years, with FSU losing multiple games due to bad or missed calls.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Things I’ve learned recently:

  • Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is better than A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, I said it, and yes, I meant it. It’s very simple to explain why: Malazan was completed. I have very little faith we’ll ever see A Song of Ice and Fire to completion. What’s more, Malazan is more broad, more complex, more consistent in its own context. Take that, George. I love A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think it hits a sweet spot of complexity to mass appeal – which Malazan does not – but Malazan being “finishable” makes it better, hands down.
  • I have learned that I do not understand offensive coordinators in football who insist on running inside the tackles when the opposing team’s been shutting those down all game and you’re running out of time to make things happen. I got tired of seeing FSU do it all last year, and by golly, I’m tired of seeing it this bowl season over and over again, too. What gives, guys? I get the idea of making sure the other team has to respect the inside run – it draws the defense to cover the middle of the field, presumably opening up longer passes – but to use it over and over and over and over again, when the other team expects it? If I can call your plays without being familiar with your offense, something’s wrong with the way you’re calling your plays. And you can bet that the opposing team – which is going to have taken pains to learn your offense – is going to be able to predict what you’re doing fairly well, too.

Florida State Football: Why So Unprepared?

My sarcastic comment to my son during the Oregon/FSU game – where FSU got smeared like a bug on a shoe – was that at least FSU had the excuse of not having known who the opponent would be.

Except, of course, we did know that we were going to play Oregon.

I guess that maybe the excuse turns into “At least FSU didn’t have a way to examining any game film on Oregon, so the pace caught them by surprise.”

At least the latter part of that statement is true! FSU was caught flat-footed by a very fast-paced Oregon attack – the “Blur offense” – and had no answer for it. Add to that FSU’s turnovers, and you had a terrific win by Oregon in which FSU looked slow and outmatched and outcoached.

I don’t mind the loss. Losses happen. It’d be a poor person indeed who couldn’t handle losses – even bad ones.

I do mind being outcoached from top to bottom. We never really compensated for their defense; we never compensated for their offense.

We had weeks to make sure we were conditioned for Oregon’s pace. We knew what they wanted to do on offense. Why, why, why didn’t we come in ready for them? Why was FSU left to twist in the wind?

Well… why not, I suppose. It’s not like FSU came into any game this year looking like it was ready to play; FSU played every game from the third quarter on, and that’s just not a good way to win and stay winning. FSU was good enough to make it work every game until it ran into an opponent that was prepared from start to finish.

I’m glad to see loyalty in the program… but at some point our coaches have to take the games seriously, and come in with a plan designed to annihilate the team’s opponents, as opposed to just riding with a default game plan and hoping.

We saw FSU’s defense take a terrible dip in quality from last year to this year – from a coaching standpoint. One expects and accepts that players come and go; one does not accept that the players available don’t have the preparation that a program of FSU’s stature should demand.

The Problem with the College Football Playoff

I really don’t know, offhand, if I’ve been pro- or anti-playoff for NCAA football. I liked that the BCS gave us the possibility of seeing a champion determined by playing a game, but I recognize that there are lots of arguments about who should be playing in that game.

So far this year, though, I’ve been somewhat unsatisfied with the way the playoff rankings have been determined. I think I understand them, but I’m not happy about them.

The arguments seem to have changed. Last year, Auburn just won; nobody really seemed to care that it was because Alabama totally blew field goal coverage, or Missouri forgot to defend against the run – which was, after all, only Auburn’s greatest strength. Auburn was the team of destiny, after all! — and maintained that position as the team of destiny, except the ‘destiny’ in question was to lose in the second half to FSU, just as so many teams have done this year, too.

This year, the argument seems to be around strength of schedule, and that strength of schedule is taken as a whole season. I think this is where things break down.

Strength of schedule is effective in a playoff like this only if it’s calculated before the game in question is played.

Look at Notre Dame/FSU. ND was ranked #5 before the game, and lost thanks to a controversial call.

The controversial call was not the offensive pass interference to close the game – it was that the same play hadn’t been called as a penalty earlier in the game for one of ND’s touchdowns. The refs only warned ND about the play, and then Notre Dame’s coaches got all surprised when the referees followed through on the warning and called the penalty later in the game.

Now, Notre Dame is 7-3, and out of the top 25 in the Associated Press polls. At the time of the game, this was a power matchup, and FSU got a lot of credit (which it deserved) for winning, even if it was over a one-loss team.

Note: Notre Dame’s one loss at the time was against FSU. I don’t think you should get dinged for winning a game against the team you’re actually playing.

Now, though, that game’s not really relevant except as a win – the implication is that “at least FSU didn’t lose.”

But with the playoff system, the stakes are so high that one loss can entirely deflate a team; for most teams, once they lose, they no longer have the same urgency; the rabbit’s already dead, the milk has been spilled, the water is already under the bridge. Once you have that first loss, for most teams, they get to play and enjoy – maybe play the role of spoiler, I suppose, but generally at that point it’s pride and not purpose.

Note: you want both pride and purpose when you play a sport.

The result is that once a team like Notre Dame, or Clemson, or Miami, or anyone, loses, the impact of the game on strength of schedule is minimized somewhat. That’s wrong, for the most part.

To me, a team that is ranked highly and loses, then continues losing, needs to be carefully evaluated. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the team that gets out of whack – that doesn’t mean the game wasn’t a true test, it only means that the losing team took the loss too much to heart. Perhaps it was an injury to a critical player, as happened to Miami’s Duke Johnson last year; losses after that injury don’t mean that the games in which that player was fully effective weren’t valid!

I’m still watching the playoff system to see what the results really are, long term – but right now? I think it really is a competition of brands (as Charles Pierce wrote on Grantland’s “Roll Brand! Alabama’s Win and the Problem With the New College Playoff“), and that concerns me.

I’m still at the point where I think FSU should be left on the pedestal until they get knocked off of it on the field… and at the end of games.

North Carolina State fans (and coach!) – you’re classless.

FSU played the NCSU Wolfpack this last Saturday, and managed to win; that’s good for FSU, and honestly, it was good for NCSU, too, because they punished FSU and easily could have won. But two things really, really bother me about the game.

The first was when one of the FSU players went down with an injury. NCSU was on the move, playing a hurry-up offense, and the pace was really hurting FSU’s defense – then the nose tackle goes down with an injury.

The NCSU fans booed, accusing him of faking the injury to slow down the pace.

Now I find out today that Coach Doeren (NCSU’s head coach) said the same thing.

That’s awful, classless, and stupid. I know a lot of NCSU fans, living in the Raleigh area; they are decent people, and I’d not been interested in smacktalking them beyond a little gentle ribbing back and forth (we’d already traded a few barbs back and forth, all in good fun.)

But this makes me angry. I’m fairly certain none of my friends were among those who booed, but if one of them justifies it to me…

Here’s the thing. Doeren ran the hurry-up offense because it pushes a defense; it tires them out, and prevents substitutions. That’s logically sound, if you can do it and you think the timing’s right. The problem is that it can hurt a defense physically – as in, the players are more likely to be injured because not only do the play counts go sky-high, but the players play tired, and playing tired is more likely to lead to an injury.

So why wouldn’t these NCSU geniuses recognize that their hurry-up offense – the weapon of choice in the situation – could cause exactly what happened? Why would you boo someone who was quite likely injured through the course of the game, based on the offensive strategy being used?

I guess I can excuse the fans – even though booing an injury of any kind, faked or not, is classless. (If the injury was indeed faked, well, that’s classless too, but that’s on the player’s conscience. And yes, I’d feel that way if an opposing player did it.)

The coach, though… that’s the guy who should know best. That’s just sour grapes, and it’s conduct unbecoming of a head coach. I’m very disappointed, especially since my oldest son is considering enrolling at NCSU sometime in the near future.