On a Tropical Getaway

I was thinking at one point that it is time to retire this blog. I still may do that, but here's one more post that postpones the end.

I wanted to share the details of my tropical getaway. Since it is December in Happy Valley and snow is accumulating outside, it is a great time of year to take some time off work, go away, and enjoy ourselves.

Well, Shannon and I are going to do just that, well, except for the tropical part.

Tomorrow I get on a plane to Omaha, NE, where the high temp the next few days is predicted to be in the mid 20s to high teens.

There aren't any palm trees, but there are two volleyball matches left this season. Penn State plays Nebraska Thursday in the Final Four, and the championship match is Sunday night. I may be going somewhere colder, but I have tickets to sit in the Penn State section and watch a really special team compete for a National Championship. There's no other place I'd rather be in the entire world.


On the Big 10 myth

I made the mistake of reading comments attached to an SI college football article. Unfortunately, it is clear that the narrative that the Big 12 and the SEC are unbeatable has taken hold in the conscience of your average fan who has been watching college football for two seasons and thinks they now know everything there is to know. I've copied here selections from my post to the Big 12 and SEC fans claiming that PSU and the Big Ten should be banned from a National Championship game just to remind everyone of the "dominance" of the Big 12 and SEC over the Big Ten. Let me start by saying that the punchline is that Penn State is 7-2 against SEC and Big 12 teams in bowl games in the past 15 years.

Penn State is *not* Ohio State when it comes to bowl games. Let's look at PSU's bowl history in recent years:

2007 - beat Texas A&M (Big 12)
2006 - beat Tennessee (and the vaunted SEC speed that is too much for us Big Ten teams)
2005 - beat Florida State
2002 - lost to Auburn (SEC)
1999 - *shut out* Texas A&M (Big 12)
1998 - beat Kentucky (SEC)
1997 - lost to Florida (Joe benched Joe Jurevicius, and Curtis Enis was ineligible - his two best players)
1996 - beat Texas (Big 12)
1995 - beat Auburn (SEC)
1994 - beat Oregon
1993 - beat Tennessee (SEC)

so, PSU is 3-0 against the Big 12 in bowls in the past 15 years, and 4-2 against the SEC in bowls in the past 15 years (and I would put an asterisk by the loss to Florida). If you only want to talk about the last two years, PSU is 1-0 against the Big 12 and 1-0 against the SEC, and that was with Anthony Morelli at QB, not Daryl Clark. I think if you check, you will find that PSU was the underdog in most of those games. Most recently, Kirk Herbstreit pulled out the "SEC speed" argument to pick Tennessee to beat PSU in 2006, and if you go to YouTube, you'll see a highlight reel of PSU defensive backs pounding Tennessee receivers. It's hard to do that if the receivers are blowing by you (which they weren't).

So keep thinking that PSU is OSU and if matched up against the SEC or Big 12 it will be an automatic loss. I'll go into that game with history on my side, a coach with more bowl wins and more bowl appearances than anyone in history, and a .691 winning percentage in bowls. You all can keep thinking Joe Paterno is Jim Tressel and we'll see where that gets you.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that this is getting *way* ahead of ourselves -- I'm certain that one of the undefeated teams won't be undefeated by the end of the season. The reason for this rant is that the mob mentality is already beginning that says that OSU got embarrassed in bowls the last two years, so PSU shouldn't be allowed to play in the national championship even if they are undefeated. You can dismiss this as just talk by fans who don't know any better and it is harmless, but this is exactly the type of narrative that voted Nebraska national champion in 1994 because the fans "knew" that Penn State couldn't compete with Nebraska. I still say if they played head to head, the offense with three future Pro Bowlers would have won.


Do I need to even say anything?


On Earmarks

Never thought my specialty -- science outreach -- would come up in a presidential debate.

But apparently, John McCain thinks spending money to educate children about science is bad. Maybe that's why a huge fraction of his running mate's generation, including her, thinks dinosaurs walked with people.

So there you have it people -- don't vote for Obama, because he had the audacity to reach across the aisle and vote with his Republican colleagues to earmark funds for a renovation of the historic Adler Planetarium.

Is it November yet?


On St. Paul

Wow. Blogs are reporting (I've only checked CNN, but it seems like this is going completely unreported in the MSM) that St. Paul has been turned into a military zone. There are YouTube videos of non violent protestors being pepper sprayed, stories about the FBI pre-emptively directing arrests of protestors (who are subsequently charged with fire code violations), and journalist Amy Goodman from Democracy Now was arrested for attempting to report on the violence.

Doesn't this seem like something Americans usually condemn when it happens in places like China?

When do the tanks roll into St. Paul?


On a warm heart

One of my biggest pet peeves is the Moon landing conspiracies. I can't believe it when otherwise intelligent folks (including an M.D. I know!) believe in the crackpot idea that NASA faked the Moon landings.

Well tonight on Mythbusters, the guys ran a series of tests to debunk many of the ideas advanced by Moon conspiracy theorists. I'm sure they won't sway anyone who is a die hard, but hopefully the younger generation who might have otherwise bought into the myth will see the show and grow up realizing how ridiculous the conspiracy theories are.

Thank you mythbusters, you've warmed my heart.


On the post I meant to write today

Just saw this linked to by someone else.

I hope Dr. D sees this post and clicks on the link. Very funny stuff.

My brother-in-law, who is an amazing guitarist, watched me beat Knights of Cydonia on the medium setting on Guitar Hero. He told me that it would be much easier to learn how to play the song on a real guitar. I didn't believe him, but watching Alex Lifeson fail to play Tom Sawyer on Rock Band makes me think Dave might be right.

Geddy sounded great, though -- I bet he did ok on his part.

On comments

First off, let me note the blog is not dead. Summer just kicks my butt with an increased workload over fall & spring, and what time I have to blog goes away.

The reason I'm writing now is that I drank too much caffeine today, and even though I need to sleep, I'm writing this instead. Tomorrow, no iced coffee.

Anyway... I just moderated three comments -- two old ones from Mike, and one from Comcast! I had read today that Comcast has taken to responding to bloggers who trash them in order to try to improve their reputation. In my case, it looks like a Comcast rep responded to my criticism of them for their recent behavior in the ad campaign being waged against Dems that supported the new FISA legislation.

I didn't respond in the comments. Instead, I'll let Glenn Greenwald respond for me.

I'm glad that Comcast is using the dollars they get from me and the rest of us who are forced to use their service to pay people to respond to blogs. Now I know why I pay $60 a month for internet service. Before I just had to guess where the money was going. I can tell them how to fix their reputation a lot faster than writing comments on my blog -- lower your prices, improve your service, and stay out of politics. Since I see no chance of any of those three things happening, I'm still dropping them as soon as I have an alternative. I've even gone so far as to contact my township supervisors to ask them to help get our township more alternatives for internet service. The day I can stop giving one more dollar to the worst company in America will be a happy one for me.