Justice in the BCS?

It isn’t computers but the human factor that is messing up the final BCS football rankings. To the human attention span, old losses do not count as much as recent losses. Poor Missouri was number 1 just a few days ago, but after losing to Oklahoma, they plummeted to number 6 and are completely out of all of the BCS bowls. Yes, they have two losses, but those were both to the same team! Meanwhile, arguably lesser teams with two worse losses got into the big bowls.

Can there be a playoff? These players are all college students, though it is easy to forget, and we have to consider finals, Christmas break, etc., etc., so the argument goes. But here is my solution: Make a shorter season to have room for a series of playoff bowls. This can be done by getting rid of the pre-conference powderpuff games at the beginning of the season. Play only the teams in your conference. Then have the winners of each conference play each other in a tournament set-up until only two are standing, to end it all on New Year’s Day. (With most teams ending their season in November, this would give most players much more time for finals!)

My Blogroll is Up

Notice the Cranach blogroll below and to the right. This is a somewhat unique one, since it mostly consists of the blogs that are run by this site’s readers and commentors. If you are intrigued by someone’s comments, see if they have a blog and get more.

I also transferred MOST of the “community blogs” from the old site at WORLD. Again, some of the links were dead and some of the blogs were apparently discontinued, with no posts except from long ago. If you were on that roll and have an updated location, send it by putting up a comment on this post. Also, most of those sites have not updated their links to this new Cranach site! Let’s follow the Golden Rule here, folks, so link unto my site as I have linked unto you.

And I am aware that this roll is not complete. If you are a reader and want your blog included, post a comment with your link here and I’ll probably add you.

But also browse through these blogs. You are likely to find some you really like. Interestingly, they are not always about theology and culture, though many are. Some are about science, education, high-tech, and just life. That is to say, they are have to do with the doctrine of VOCATION.

Our Church Blog

I keep saying what a good preacher our pastor is. Now you can see for yourself. I just learned that Pastor Douthwaite runs a St. Athanasius blog on which he posts his sermons, as well as devotional materials for the congregation. Check out, for a sample, his sermon “A King Who Works for You,” which nails perfectly both our culture of pragmatism and the Theology of the Cross. This is a blog you can read, mark, and inwardly digest; and it could be a lifeline for those of you without such satisfying fare.

Loyalty Oath

The Republican party either has a death wish or has been taken over by Democratic saboteurs who have secretly infiltrated its leadership in a vast left-wing conspiracy. I know of no other answers to explain what is happening here in Virginia. That state, my new home, is one of many that have “open primaries,” which means that anyone can vote in either the Republican or the Democratic presidential primaries, even if the voter is not a member of that party. The problem is, supposedly, sometimes Democrats vote with the Republicans, skewing the result.

So Virginia’s Republican leadership has come up with this bright idea: Before anyone is given a ballot in the Republican primary, he or she must sign this loyalty oath:

“I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President.”

That means that I will not be voting! I am not going to bind my conscience or my vote by making such a promise, even if I end up voting for a Republican. And I reserve the right to vote for a third party candidate if the Republicans nominate someone I oppose.

I suspect this is aimed precisely at keeping away us pro-life voters. (After all, Democrats are not going to be voting in this Republican primary THIS year, since their own race is so highly contested.)

Many of us have said that if the pro-death Giuliani gets nominated, we will not vote Republican. So this prevents us from voting against him.

My fellow Virginians, rise up against this attempt to take away your vote! Talk-shows, bloggers, come to our defense!

UPDATE: Thanks to the public outcry, the Virginia GOP has put the kibosh on the loyalty oath! Thanks for being part of the outcry.

Architecture and the Aesthetics of Totalitarianism

The arts, of all kinds, give us insights into how and what their creators think and feel–that is, to their worldview. In this story on some of the grandiose building projects of Venezuelan dictator wannabe Hugo Chavez, Charles Lane draws on some actual aesthetic scholarship to make some revealing points about “high modernism” and why that style has been so attractive to totalitarians:

Ch├ívez acts on an ideology that anthropologist James C. Scott of Yale has called “high modernism.” In his brilliant 1998 book about the phenomenon, “Seeing Like a State,” Scott explored the peculiar mix of good intentions and megalomania that has driven one unchecked government after another to pursue the dream of a reconcentrated populace: “a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientific understanding of natural laws.”

Central to high modernism is an aesthetic sense that prefers straight lines and right angles to the crooked pathways and sprawling gardens of spontaneous rural development. Nyerere, for example, was determined to give his East African country a landscape dotted with symmetrical “proper” villages, like those he had seen in England.

Architecturally and ecologically unsustainable, high modernist projects always collapse of their own weight sooner or later. As Scott writes, “the history of Third World development is littered with the debris of huge agricultural schemes and new cities . . . that have failed their residents.” Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union fit that assessment also, as visitors to Germany’s Eisenhuettenstadt, begun in the 1950s as Stalinstadt, can attest. Designated “the first socialist city on German soil” by East Germany’s Communists, it was plunked down next to an immense steel mill and commanded to thrive. Today, the depressed city is hemorrhaging residents.

Yet the high-modernist experiments continue — think of China’s Three Gorges Dam and the accompanying vast uprooting of villages. Fundamentally, they are not about economics. High modernism is the architecture of centralized political control. When people live scattered across the countryside or, in the case of Venezuela, clinging to the mountainsides around the capital, they’re relatively hard to govern in any fashion, let alone by authoritarian means. In government-built grids, Scott notes, they can be identified, counted, conscripted and monitored.

A Football Turning Point?

As one of the lucky few whose satellite package happened to include the NFL network, I stayed up late last night watching the epic confrontation between the Green Bay Packers (my team) and the Dallas Cowboys (America’s team). Though the Packers lost, 37-27, it was a thrilling game, and I realize I may have witnessed a historic turning point. Brett Favre, the Cal Ripken of football, went down with an arm injury early in the game. But his back-up, Aaron Rodgers, came on the field and did a brilliant job, throwing 11 straight pass completions including a touch-down and moving his team up and down the field with alacrity. The Packers came within two idiotic pass interference penalties (from injured Charles Woodson’s backup) from possibly winning the game. Though I hope very much that Favre comes back for the next game to keep his games-played streak alive and to take the Packers to the Superbowl and beyond, the torch may have been passed. And Rodgers didn’t drop it, bringing hope to the Packer nation.