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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spill your guts

Jimmy Connors was ranked as one of the top five tennis players in the world beginning just before my birthday in 1973. He would remain in the top five for a still-record 659 consecutive weeks. That's over twelve years.

Let that sink in.
Wimbledon Champions - 1974

The closest a modern player has come to equaling that mark? Roger Federer, in the top five for 543 consecutive weeks. Connors won 109 (or 110, depending on your source) singles titles. Any modern players close to that? Federer, again, with 77. Perhaps even more astounding, Connors was runner-up another 54 times. He won 8 Grand Slams and spread his titles around quite a bit - winning on clay, grass, hard court and indoor carpet surfaces.

Gallons of ink have been spilled in support of - and attacking - Jimmy Connors. Writers who make me look like Judas Iscariot compared to Jesus have extolled the virtues of the champion while decrying the personality of the L'Enfant terrible.

In 1971, I remember watching my first Wimbledon. I lived in England and the BBC covered The Championships live. After watching players like Stan Smith, John Newcombe and Rod Laver, I'd go outside with an old wooden racket and hit against an uneven rock wall in our garden, trying to emulate the graceful and powerful strokes I'd seen on television. Up until that point, the Aussies - Ken Rosewall, Laver, Newcombe, and Roy Emerson - had dominated the men's tennis circuit. But that was about to change.

1972 Wimbledon Runner-up - Stan Smith

What in the world has made me go down this rabbit hole? I just finished watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary This is What They Want. The film touches on Connor's career in general but focuses almost exclusively on his run to the U.S. Open semi-finals in the age of 39.

Can you imagine a 39 year-old playing Federer or Nadal or Djokovic? The days of Connors, McEnroe and Borg dominating tennis were gone, weren't they. But ranked somewhere north of 150 in the world, Connors had battled injury and age to make one final run in our championships. I won't bore you with my wooden attempts to capture those two weeks in yourself a favor and watch the film. If you've ever played tennis or even watched it, this documentary directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien is worth every minute.

Willpower, guts, craft and guile on the way to the semifinals

New Yorkers love it when you spill your guts out there. You spill your guts out at Wimbledon, and they make you stop and clean it up.” [Jimmy Connors]

As the credits rolled on ESPN I began thinking about the career of Jimmy Connors. What did he achieve? Who was he? In one of the closing scenes, Connors seems bemused that people considered him an ***hole. He thought about it for a minute, and as he walks off he says, "But I'm a happy ***hole."

Connors lived life, in a sense, as an outsider. He fought and scraped for everything. He won - and lost - on his own terms, by his own strength, through his own will and wisdom. While I admire the man for his sheer tenacity and for the accomplishments that seem destined to stand the test of time - in a world where every record falls - I can't help but wonder how much all that achievement will matter in the end.

In one of His harsher messages, Jesus told of a man who focused on his own achievements and his own accomplishments. Luke 12:16-31 paints a dire picture for those who might spend their lives piling up achievements and awards, striving for the next brass ring, building an even bigger house...

Jimmy, I admire your drive, sir. Imagine how many you could win for the Kingdom with your tenacious dedication.

Unlike the picture some might paint, Christianity isn't us vs. them. Connor's career was fought in just that way; it was always Jimmy vs. everyone else. Perhaps the most poignant moment in This is What They Want, is when Aaron Krickstein says that, after being friends with Connors, staying at his home, acting as a hitting partner, etc. he never heard from Jimmy again after Connors beat him in the fourth round of the 1991 U.S. Open.

2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

Jimmy, life isn't about getting to a place where you can be a happy ***hole. It's about helping each other win the only trophy that counts.

What do you think?


Literary review: Hero's End

The Blackwing Chronicles began with Sovran's Pawn, an engaging introduction to Bo Barron and Blade Devon. Bo is the fugitive daughter and heir-in-waiting to her missing father, the Barron. And despite her fugitive status Bo has assumed the role of Barron in the still-unexplained absence of her father. Blade can never be quite sure what - or who - Blade Devon is at any given time. Is he the handsome holovid actor whom the ladies drool over, an IC Predator agent and one of the most deadly men in the universe, or something else entirely? Whoever he is, someone wants Blade Devon dead.

Hero's End, the second book in The Blackwing Chronicles series, opens with a hit being put out on Devon. I'll tell you right up front that in JC Cassels' universe, sex and violence are almost the coin of the realm. That's not to say that Hero's End is some smutty space opera; far from it. The author has simply taken a couple of humanity's worst - or best, depending on your definition - traits and magnified them. Skyhoppers and Joy Babes abound, as do assassins and other dangerous folk. However, Cassels does an outstanding job of writing about the seedy underbelly of society without wallowing in bad language or needlessly graphic situations. And don't for one minute think that the seediness is limited to those who inhabit the less fortunate strata of Cassels' universe. Just like in our own world, the predilection to sin is no respecter of bank balance or position, and is one of the many factors that keeps readers guessing. I'll tell you right from the launchpad: nothing - and no one - in Hero's End is what - or who - it seems.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, I have to say that Hero's End was both an easier and a tougher read than Sovran's Pawn. It was easier because I was familiar with the universe that Cassels has deftly imagineered. Also, the author has populated The Blackwing Chronicles with a cast of characters that is easy to care for and become invested in. The tough part, for me, is staying the course through Bo Barron's emotional journey. I'm a guy, and I've been married for almost a quarter of a century, but I still don't handle intense emotional turmoil very well. Maybe I'm just shallow; I don't know. Without providing any spoilers it's difficult for me to give specific examples of what I mean. In general, although there was plenty of emotional upheaval for Bo in Sovran's Pawn, we see a whole other level of that in Hero's End. Blade goes through his own emotional crises as well, but maybe it is because I'm a guy that Blade's torments seem to make more sense to me.

From a characterization standpoint, I'd say Cassels gets full marks. Although I don't personally care for some of the deeper exploration of Bo's innermost psyche, I can appreciate the craft with which it is written. Lest I leave out the character and bit players, it is hard to find fault with any of them. I've read several books in which the main characters, fully realized and fleshed out in living color, move around in a cardboard, two-dimensional world of almost cartoonish and clichéd secondary characters. That is absolutely not the case in Hero's End. I found each one intrinsic to the tale and employed in fitting and useful ways.

The plot of Hero's End continues apace from where we left off with Sovran's Pawn despite the passage of time between the two volumes. The intrigue, mystery, adventure, action and yes - the romance - are all ratcheted up several notches. I grew more appreciative of Cassels' writing ability the farther I read.

The scourge of everyone's Seventh Sector - grammar and usage - is very well done in Hero's End. I've included notes in other reviews indicating the downfall of many independent novels is poor diction, if not just downright messy grammar. Hero's End was a very clean read. There has obviously been a lot of love and care taken with this novel and as a reader I appreciate that very much!

Overall, I would recommend Hero's End to anyone who enjoys a good spacer. As the author personally noted, for some there is not enough romance and too much space and for others too much romance and not enough space. Personally, I found the characters, plot, descriptiveness, and tech to be spot on. My only gripe is the quantity of romance - yes, I'm one of the too much romance guys.

For my Christian readers, Hero's End is a bit stronger in some areas than its predecessor and might bring you a little pause as you make a reading decision. I will leave it up to you, but provide these guidelines: If John Boy yelling, "Darn!" on The Waltons gets the fan going, Hero's End is not for you. If you are an avid fan of science fiction, adventure and romance and you are not shocked or deterred by the programming content of network television after 8 p.m. then you'll probably be fine with the content of this novel. Anything in between is going to be a case-by-case, personal decision.

From a purely creative point of view, Hero's End is an excellent, well-written novel. It is likely one I would never have read due to that pesky romance stuff so I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read and review it.


Boring disclaimers:

The Kindle version of Hero's End which I reviewed was provided to me electronically by the author - I received no compensation for this review, other than the pleasure of reading book two of The Black Wing Chronicles.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Please Hire Tim Tebow - Week 8

There are sixteen weeks in the NFL regular season, seventeen if you count the bye week each team gets. After eight weeks of play - tonight's game between the Seahawks and Rams notwithstanding - Tim Tebow is still unemployed. The last verifiable news we've had about Tim's whereabouts found him enjoying some family time in Hawaii.

Tebow (left), friends, and man-mountain in Hawaii

Since that time, there have been several key injuries across the league; most notably Sam Bradford of the Rams going down with a season-ending ACL tear. In the last week or so, there has been a lot of chatter - most of it negative - about Tebow's status with the Rams, Jaguars, etc. Almost every day there is an article on Bleacher Report, the Orlando Sentinel, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc. concerning the portents of Tebow contact, or lack thereof.

So what do we have this week to lift our spirits and give us hope that Tebow could still suit up this season? Today, it's the lack of news. The Jags and Bucs both lost and remain winless on the season. We won't know if the Rams' shunning of Tebow after Bradford's injury was a wise move until after their NFC West matchup with the division-leading Seahawks tonight.

At the risk of being obvious, here's a few prospects for Tebow, starting with the least likely.

New York Giants: The G-Men are 2-6 coming off a victory yesterday at Philadelphia. There for a while, Eli was looking a little shaky. The Giants started 0-6 and as I noted in a previous blog, the Giants would probably win out and it was very unlikely that New York City would welcome Tebow back. In making me look like a potential prognosticating genius, the Giants are 2-0 going into their bye week and will next face the Raiders (3-4) in a very winnable game. The Giants' remaining schedule isn't a cakewalk but it will be interesting to see if Coughlin can work his magic and get them to the playoffs. Although they are in the cellar of the NFC East, amazingly, the New York Football Giants are only two games out of first.

New York Jets: On the Jersey Shore is another team from (sort of) the Big Apple. The J-E-T-S Jets kicked Tebow to the curb after the 2012 season. Although many reports decried Tebow's lack of success after being brought in as the supposed number two QB behind Mark Sanchez, he wasn't even given a chance to perform. With a total of eight passing and thirty-two rushing attempts in twelve games, it's easy - for anyone with any sense at all - to see that Rex Ryan had no intention of letting Tebow play. I don't see that changing even though the Jets' latest savior, Geno Smith, is playing more and more like Sanchez every week.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams bypassed Tebow and went straight to top quality (sic) quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Austin Davis to back up starter-for-now Kellen Clemens. Last week's Tebow update highlighted Clemens' less-than-stellar career stats. I keep reading about how teams don't want to take the media circus and fan pressure that would accompany a Tebow signing. Seriously? When called on that, coaches and team executives always fall back on the tried and true platitudes of we're going in a different direction or he doesn't fit our offensive scheme. Whatever. With Bradford's injury, the Rams appeared to be a great destination for Tebow. I guess we'll see how well the triad of Clemens, Quinn and Austin works for them.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Another week, another loss for the hapless Jags. Not even a trip to the hallowed grounds of Wembley could shake a winning performance out of Tebow's home team.

Wembley - The Cathedral of Football

The Jaguars, it seems, will be playing home games at Wembley for the next four years. I suspect that has a lot to do with owner Shahid Kahn, who also owns London's Fulham Football Club of the Barclay's Premier League. Khan may not know much about American Football but he is an astute businessman and I can't imagine he doesn't recognize the business value that Tebow can bring to the club.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I was very high on Tebow going to the Bucs, and I still am. But I'm not sure how realistic a move this would be in the short term. Tampa Bay's under-fire coach Greg Schiano could be on the way out the door any day now so it's doubtful that the team will make a major quarterback move without knowing who the coach will be for the rest of the season. Franky, if I was Schiano, I'd be pushing hard to sign Tebow. Many of the fans will love the possibilities and it could take the microscope off of the coach - at least for the short term.
About the only thing that keeps me thinking Tebow has any chance of being signed this week is the total lack of new news. When there is a bunch of idle chatter (kind of like my blog) about Tebow being signed, it's probably all pie-in-the-sky. But I would opine that, historically, when the wire goes quiet, that's when some honest-to-goodness, real negotiations may be taking place.

What do you think?


Friday, October 25, 2013

Love for Sale

Yesterday I wrote about the possibility that, eventually, video will supplant text as our information medium of choice. I didn't name this blog Stream of Consciousness for nothing; since then, I've been pondering the overall effects of video on our lives. Don't get me wrong, these missives are not meant to infer I am anti-video. However I will admit to times when I just have to step away from all the screens. Think about it. If you're like me, you are in front of some type of video screen for hour upon hour each day. Phone, tablet, laptop, computer, television, projection screen...if you live in a major world city like New York or London or Tokyo you can't even go outside without large public display screens shining down on you.

We are, all of us, bombarded with messaging from these screens. Some messages are personal, many are work related, but more and more, the Mad Men are invading all of our screens in an effort to win our love. That's right. Your love; my love; everyone's love is for sale. You may not think so but every time you buy a product, the influence of advertising is a factor in your decision. It may only be a small nudge but it's no longer a stretch to believe that an advertisement could be the main reason you have bought something.

All designed to earn our love.

The Talking Heads video above is aptly titled, "Love for Sale". From the 1986 album True Stories, it captures exactly what I'm talking about. The fact that advertisers' main objective is to separate us from our hard-earned money should not come as a surprise to anyone. The sole purpose of a successful ad is to create a need for the product being advertised - and to create that need in as many consumers as possible.

If video advertising were only informative, letting us calmly decide whether (or not) to buy something that would be one thing. However, can we continue to stand idly by while consumer debt, brought on by a need for more things, spirals out of control? Reliable statistics show that total household debt grew every year (with the exception of 1991) from 1982 to 2007. The Federal Reserve Board reports that as of 2008, American (total) household debt stood at $13.9 Trillion. That is $13,900,000,000,000. The U.S. National Debt Clock is currently showing our nation's debt at over $17 Trillion. But despite these horrifying numbers, we continue to spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave. And advertisers count on that.

There is a growing social and cultural selfishness. We justify the houses, cars, clothes, entertainment, etc. to ourselves with one phrase: because we DESERVE it!

Forty years of tricking ourselves into believing this...

Who is selling what to whom? Is it really the ad companies selling to us or are we selling our love to them? Give me 10% off and I'll love your product.

What is the definition of love?

The answer to that question would take up an entire series of blogs...a couple of short definitions are:
  1. An intense feeling of deep affection.
  2. Like very much; find pleasure in
The truth is, humanity has hijacked love. Individually, we twist love into all sorts of shapes, each claiming that our own, personal love-shape works for us. Corporately, we try desperately to tap into as many of those individual love-shapes as we can, to sway people to love the latest thing. In effect we sell our love to the company or companies that connect with our love-shapes most closely.

We humans want love to be the best thing that we can see, touch, smell, taste, hear and experience. We believe love exists to make us feel good. Give us our unicorns, rainbows and leprechauns and everything will be alright. The Beatles taught us All You Need is Love. Redbone invited us to Come and Get Your Love. Diana Ross sang that's it's possible to overdose and get a Love Hangover. If you searched the Internet for love songs, we might not see you for months, as you waded through the 1.4 billion results (Google). 

Psychologists like to tell us that we have to love ourselves before we can expect anyone else to love us. If that were the case, then, when we're born, doctors need to hand each of us - well, our parents - a button so that once we love ourselves we can let others know it's okay to love us (also). So what's the payoff? Where's the slot machine that lights up and sounds the happy chimes when we get three hearts in a row? Is the hidden leprechaun sitting on the proverbial pot of gold at the end of his rainbow, teasing the unicorn and keeping us from our love jackpot?


I believe, as Johnny Lee sang a long time ago, we're still Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. I could write a thousand words about this and maybe you'd get my point. But maybe I need to try out that newfangled video thing. Maybe I need to see if there is a video out there in the vastness of the Internet that speaks to what I'm trying to say.

Perhaps the most important 4 minutes and 15 seconds in your life...

Before we ever started to worry about anyone loving us. Before we despaired of ever loving ourselves. God loved us. As we dig the hole of our life deeper and deeper, God continues to reach down in infinite kindness and mercy and grace to offer us a way - the way - out.

You want love? There's no need to sell your love; and the most important love in the whole world has no price tag. It's free. All you have to do is ask.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Video killed the writing star

Back in the early days of the Internet, when people would wait forever while a snippet of video downloaded over their brutally slow 56K dial-up connections, being able to watch live action was quite the novelty. What is my most egregious example of this?

Sappy kid, Jar-Jar...don't care; it was awesome

I was living in the Middle East in the build up to the release of Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Our X-boys were just coming to an age when they would appreciate an awesome space opera. I had entered my late teens on the heels of the original Star Wars film now (somewhat confusingly) known as Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. Back in the day, all you had to say was,"Star Wars," and people knew what you meant.

Introducing our own little next generation to Star Wars was one of the small but exciting milestones I recall from the X-boys' childhood. Episode I is listed as having a running time of 136 minutes. I spent longer that that downloading the 2-minute original trailer (see above) for us to watch on our 17" cathode ray tube. Compare that to today. I searched YouTube, found the trailer, clicked on the link and the video began playing immediately. I enjoyed watching it on my 24" flat panel LCD in HD - that's high definition for you laggards. What a difference fourteen years can make.

Twenty years before that, The Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star bemoaned the transition from the days of radio to television. 

Understood the sentiment; never cared much for the song

Fittingly, MTV launched it's ground-breaking music video programming on August 1, 1981 by playing the Buggles' paean to the golden age of radio. But whatever MTV accomplished - or not, depending on your point of view - they may have unwittingly began the slow demise of the written word in addition to the spoken (or sung) word without the accompaniment of images.

Rumor has it, the 'M' used to stand for Music

As the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that anymore?) expanded from text-based sites that geeks used to host online games of Zork, I enjoyed browsing around and finding interesting material to read. With a simple bookmark in my Netscape Navigator window (thank you Mark), I could tag stuff and come back to peruse worthy articles at my leisure.

Fast forward to today. Netscape is gone, replaced by Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and others. And also on the way out, if my browsing results are any indication, are text-based articles. Oh sure, there are still millions - probably billions - of text articles on the Internet; but little by little, I'm noticing a shift to video.  It's starting small with a hyperlink click followed by a big, square box that is the video lead...with text underneath. Pretty soon, more and more of our search results are going to be videos; and then where will we be?
Radio - or the ever-present media player - allows us to listen to music and do other things. MTV forced us to watch. It's hard to pay attention to a music video and concentrate on other tasks because you have to watch the video. I'm afraid the Internet may be going down that same path. "It" is trying to capture our attention, just like MTV did back in 1981.

In the words of Rockwell - or more accurately Michael Jackson - it always feels like somebody's watching me. Or maybe that's just what they want us to think...

What do you think?


Monday, October 21, 2013

Please Hire Tim Tebow - Week 7

We are nearly at the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season and if you're reading this blog, you already know that Tim Tebow is still unemployed. For anyone who follows the NFL, you also know that while there has been some pretty solid QB play across the league this season, there has also been some pretty sad play as well. I've never said that Tim Tebow is the second coming of Joe Montana but only that I don't believe he is as terrible as all his detractors make him out to be. I have clearly acknowledged Tebow's shortcomings since he joined the NFL after a stellar college career at the University of Florida.

Perhaps Mr. Tebow is what I could refer to as a perfect storm quarterback; one that has to be placed in just the right organization, with just the right system, and just the right personnel around him to be successful. Maybe that's too much to ask but I'll state for the record again, as the weeks go by, there are quarterback and team performances across the league that cry out for a change; and as the treatment tables fill up in more and more stadiums, someone, somewhere almost has to take a chance on the former Gator.

Looking forward to more of this...

Latest Intel:

This morning I saw a report that the St. Louis Rams have discussed Tebow but probably won't be signing him. has reported that Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending ACL injury, and that leaves Kellen Clemens is their lone QB on the depth chart. Clemens' career-high passer rating (60.9%) came during the 2007 season** with the Jets, where he completed 130 passes for 1,529 yards and 5 touchdowns. However the 10 interceptions and 27 sacks surely didn't help his cause. As today's news cycle developed there were many names being bandied about as quarterback possibilities for St. remains to be seen if Tim Tebow has remained sharp and fit enough to impress in a work out, assuming he is fortunate enough to get the call.

** The only season where Clemens threw more than 100 passes

In any case, with no backup to Clemens and not even a quarterback on the scout team, the Rams have to sign someone...

Week 7 Tebow Opportunities:

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are 0-7. With rankings for rushing and defense against the rush at the bottom of the league, you could make a case that what the Jags need most are decent offensive and defensive lines. Current starting QB Chad Henne threw for 318 yards yesterday on 23 completions against 36 attempts. That's not so bad, right? Except for the fact that the Jaguars only scored 6 points. As the weeks drag on in Jacksonville it becomes less about the quarterback and more about the fans just having get excited about. I still believe Tebow brings excitement to the table for those fans, and revenue to the owners.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As the weeks go by and Mike Glennon continues to, well, not stink, the chances of the Pewter Pirates taking a flyer on Tebow seem to diminish. Glennon had another workmanlike outing yesterday and came up short against the less-than-overachieving Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs couldn't have caught the Falcons at a better time with both halves of one of the best receiving duos in the game on the sideline due to injury. Yet, it started like the same old Bucs as Glennon coughed up the ball on their first series and Atlanta ran that fumble in for a score. For the second week in a row, Glennon hit Vincent Jackson for two scores but it wasn't enough.

Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants: We won't know if the rot has stopped in the Big Apple until after tonight. Two franchises who have both appeared on my Tebow radar in recent weeks square off on Monday Night Football tonight. The Vikings appear to have played their hand with the signing of Bucs castaway Josh Freeman. Is it even conceivable that the G-Men would consider cutting Eli loose? You wouldn't think so but New York is a terrible town to be a goat in...time will tell.

St. Louis Rams: As I inferred above, it seems like the Rams may have leap-frogged Jacksonville as the city most likely to think about signing Tebow. Although initial reports indicate Tebow's name has been in the conversation, they (those scamps) are reporting Tim Terrific is not a viable option. I think St. Louis would be doing the fans a disservice. I seem to recall that another guy who was supposedly washed up resurrected a career in St. Louis - could Tebow pull a Warner?

Could it be Tebow time in the gateway city?

Best Tebow Quote of the Week:

Mike McCoy, the new head coach of the San Diego Chargers, when asked if he had any advice for Tebow, cut by the New England Patriots before the season and now out of the NFL, McCoy said, “All I know is the experience we had in Denver with Tim. We won games with Tim as a quarterback and we had a great time doing it. That’s all I’ll say on that.’’

Which NFL teams out there could do with a few wins and a little fun?

What do you think?


Monday, October 14, 2013

Please Hire Tim Tebow - Week 6

I have to be honest with you. I was pretty sure that Tebow would be a first, second, or even third string quarterback with some NFL team by now. It's week six; there are three winless teams in the league. There are four one-win teams in the league. That's seven teams that basically have stunk it up so far this year.

I've heard all the arguments. I've had Tebow's NFL stats thrown in my face. I've been kicked around like Cinderella in a house full of step-sisters. But I'm getting back up and I'm stating for the record - again - that I believe Tim Tebow can be a quarterback in the NFL. I don't blame him if he retires and goes on to lead his life completely for the cause of Christ. But I believe that Tim has the talent, ability, maturity and leadership to be an NFL quarterback.

So sue me.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags put up a fight in Denver yesterday. But I don't think anyone seriously gave them a chance...not even Jimmy Johnson.

WARNING: Jimmy uses a crass term to describe Jacksonville's collective derrieres

Maybe the Jags need to hire Johnson as their new head coach?

In an interview last week, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan admitted that it would take more than Tim Tebow to turn around the on-field fortunes of his NFL franchise. But at least he's not saying, "No," anymore.

Honestly, while I think that Jacksonville makes the most sense geographically for Tebow, it would likely be the worst possible destination for him as a jumping off point for resurrecting his career. Unless the team was fully committed to him and ready to tailor their offense around him, it's likely Tebow would have little more success than the quarterbacks they have today.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Glennon showed a little spark yesterday as well. The Bucs new starter is still 0-for the season but he did score twice yesterday with both touchdown passes going to to Vincent Jackson. Glennon's stats were a respectable 26 of 43 for 273 yards with those two TDs and 1 interception. He was also sacked twice. Is this what the Bucs want going forward? Will the Glazers be content to win moral victories every week or is it becoming a race against Jacksonville for the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft?

Glennon goes down against the Eagles on October 13, 2013

Looking over Mr. Glennon's stats while quarterback at North Carolina State, I don't think you can compare them to what Tebow achieved at Florida. I know that college and the NFL are light years apart, but I still prefer Tebow with the Bucs over any of their current options. There are a lot of things to recommend this match...I hope it happens.

New York Giants: I don't think anyone predicted this. If you look at the passing stats for Eli Manning it's not terrible at first. He's near the top for yardage, completing 123 of 229 (53.7%) passes for 1,721 yards. It's the next stats that are horrifying: 9 touchdowns against 15 interceptions and 16 sacks. I don't think Tim Tebow is the answer in New York. Frankly, I'm not sure what the problem is. Maybe this is just the Giant's typical terrible start to the season and they'll win out from here?

Long shots...

If not the Bucs or the Jags, then where? There are some other teams who are struggling as we wrap up week 6 of the 2013 NFL season.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have entered the conversation before but that was before everyone (but me) started jumping on the Tyrelle Pryor bandwagon. I don't know that you can hang their loss to the Chiefs yesterday on Pryor alone; football is a team sport. Offsetting his better than 50% completion rate and a touchdown in the second quarter were 3 interceptions and 10 - TEN! - sacks. Swap out the name Pryor with Tebow and tell me the prognosticating public would not be calling for Tebow's head if he had that kind of performance. In fact, I challenge you to go and find an NFL game in which Tebow has played where he was that bad. Go ahead...I'll wait.


Minnesota Vikings: I can't dog pile the Vikes today, I just can't. Cam Newton played out of his mind and AP was hurting over the death of his son. It didn't help that Matt Cassel played like he did, well, last year in Kansas City, but we'll see where the Vikings go from here. They've signed Josh Freeman off of waivers from the Bucs so I expect we may see Josh on the field next Monday night against the Giants.

Houston Texans: I'll be honest. I don't know squat about what's going on in Texas other than the fans were cheering...cheering...when Matt Schaub went down hurt. The Texans have some playmakers but I think coach Gary Kubiak may be more concerned with saving his job than bringing in a new QB project.

Apparently the lack of contact from potential NFL suitors is not causing Tim Tebow to sit around, wring his hands, and wait for the phone to ring. Reports are he was enjoying some family time in Hawaii. By all accounts he still looks to be in pretty good shape although I suspect it would take him at least a couple of weeks to be at anywhere near game shape/speed.

Still, at least for the Jaguars and Buccaneers at least, I'm thinking it would be worth the wait.

What do you think?


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I live in an accidental universe?

Yesterday, I penned - okay, I typed - some thoughts on the 2103 Nobel Physics prize. I am still thinking about that today. A few weeks ago, I was out in our backyard, as I am prone to be in the late evening since the two-year-old life form that abides with us demands it to be so. While Abby was snuffling around in the shadows cast by the floodlights, I stood gazing into the heavens.

There are two major schools of thought on how our amazing blanket of stars came to be:
  1. Totally by accident
  2. Placed by divine design or perhaps propelled into position by a divinely-caused event
Near the end of yesterday's missive, I asked, rhetorically, what the ultimate value of the Higgs boson - also known as the god particle - would be to mankind. It's not easy to take fifty years of scientific research and distill it down to a few understandable sentences. I have seen the Higgs boson described as the sub-atomic particle which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape. That is pretty strong stuff right there.

Representation of Higgs boson in collision

Apparently, physicists who adhere to something known as the Standard Model believe that the Higgs boson is key to our understanding of the formation of stars, planets and eventually life after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

Since 2008, some of the largest brains on planet Earth have been slinging particles around a 27-Kilometer ring in Switzerland and studying what happens when they run into each other. I am probably over-simplifying and by no means is it my intent to demean what these scientists are doing. I am not mocking or belittling science and scientific theory; I am simply asking, "Why?"

What will come of these experiments? What will mankind reap from the knowledge we gain? What does understanding how a subatomic particle obtains its mass do for the survival of the human race?

These are big questions to which, I suspect, there are really no easy answers.

However, we live in the Internet Age. We have the magical YouTube portal that allows us to find information that would have never been retrievable in years past.

Nat Napoletano is really excited about Higgs boson...and it's potential benefits

I found the video above quite early in my search for the meaning surrounding the elusive Higgs boson particles. There are a ton of other videos posted up by Mr. Napoletano and hopefully I'll have time someday to review them. And while he does explain the theory of theories fairly clearly, Mr. Napoletano really doesn't give us much of an anchor regarding the benefits of this year's Higgs boson developments. He likens it to the 2,000 years in between the Bronze and Iron ages. In effect, because we have theories, we are better able to craft experiments that will test these theories and - hopefully - prove some hypotheses along the way. And as a result of our ever-increasing scientific knowledge, the pace of that proving is accelerating like a subatomic particle around a magnetically guided ring.

But all of this still doesn't balance in my head.

$9,000,000,000 and counting.

That is the amount of money that people have spent on constructing and operating the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Honestly? I'd like to work there; it has to be so cool to be a part of that. But I know I'm not smart enough. The science doesn't live in my head. I stink at any math I can't pull off with a standard 10-key calculator. The answers I'm looking for aren't forthcoming. Answers like, "So, we've spent over $9 billion dollars and look at this! A faster-than-light ship that humans can travel in," or, "You know that Dark Matter and Dark Energy we've been speculating about? Well, here's what it is...," or maybe even, "Hey! Check out my new lightsaber!"

But none of that sort of stuff is on the horizon in my lifetime, or probably the lives of the next several generations of my family. So I'll stand in my backyard again tonight and look up at the stars. I won't think much about Higgs bosons or quarks or dark matter. I will think about the one thing I believe explains why everything is: because it was created to be that way. My hope is that one day science and faith will come together and all the theories and all the experiments and all the explorations will collide with one indisputable fact.

God. And He's not a particle.

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing...

"...but you gotta have something..."

The Nobel Committee announced the winners of the 2013 Physics award today.  The award went to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs, "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider" [Source:].

I think Billy Preston should've at least received an honorable mention.

If you attended school with me, you know that math and science are not my strong suits. So it will likely come as no surprise that my first thought about this was, "If a something is, doesn't that, by definition, mean it has mass?"

I mean think about it. A dust particle has mass. A snowflake has mass. I would assume that any thing, no matter how small, has mass. Otherwise, it would be no-thing, right?

Saharan dust particle (

So what's the big deal? Isn't this akin to saying, "The sun is on fire so it gives off light and heat,"?

I'm going to say much smarter things now, thanks to the whiz kids over at Georgia State University (

The mass of an object is a fundamental property of the object; a numerical measure of its inertia; a fundamental measure of the amount of matter in the object. Definitions of mass often seem circular because it is such a fundamental quantity that it is hard to define in terms of something else. All mechanical quantities can be defined in terms of mass, length, and time. The usual symbol for mass is m and its SI unit is the kilogram. While the mass is normally considered to be an unchanging property of an object, at speeds approaching the speed of light one must consider the increase in the relativistic mass.

On the other hand, the weight of an object is the force of gravity on the object and may be defined as the mass times the acceleration of gravity, w = mg. Since the weight is a force, its SI unit is the newton. Density is mass/volume.

As any University of Alabama student can tell you, those GSU folks aren't very good at football, but apparently they know their physics.

Okay, think of the football as an ovoid, accelerating particle...

Now that we know (I say know, not understand) the difference between mass and weight, let's move on.

Apparently all the hullabaloo dates back to 1964, when Mr. Higgs and five other very smart guys first broached the theory of an elementary particle. The possibility of this particle existing was so exciting, scientists have spent the past forty years working to prove its existence. The search was considered so important that a multi-national team built the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) facility in Switzerland in an effort to find that little sucker.

When they say large...they mean it.

The LHC, as all the hip scientists refer to it, is massive. Since there's no way I could explain what the LHC does without help, I'll borrow some text from CERN's website:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It first started up on 10 September 2008, and remains the latest addition to CERN’s accelerator complex. The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.

Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they are made to collide. The beams travel in opposite directions in separate beam pipes – two tubes kept at ultrahigh vacuum. They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets. The electromagnets are built from coils of special electric cable that operates in a superconducting state, efficiently conducting electricity without resistance or loss of energy. This requires chilling the magnets to ‑271.3°C – a temperature colder than outer space. For this reason, much of the accelerator is connected to a distribution system of liquid helium, which cools the magnets, as well as to other supply services.

I'm all for discovering interesting and useful facts about the world - and universe - around us. Really, I am. But I'm wondering where the benefit for humanity comes into play here. I don't want to pour cold water on the achievements of Mr. Higgs and his colleagues, but I am struggling in my own simple way to determine how super-cooled magnets being used to guide high-energy beams around a 27-kilometer ring, only to crash them together, will solve world hunger, or even contribute toward our efforts to slip the surly bonds of Earth.

Maybe it's just because I don't play in the physics sandbox. I'm not a scientist and most people who are would simply say I don't understand - or possibly - that I can't understand. Perhaps. But while I will acknowledge the award's prestige and, if nothing else, the sheer magnitude of intellect it took to win it, I will quickly return to my own little corner of Earth and my never-ceasing efforts to put enough particles on the table for my family.

What do you think?


Monday, October 7, 2013

Please Hire Tim Tebow - Week 5

Good morning! It's October 7th, 2013 or, as Jacksonville Jaguar fans think if it, another day closer to proof that David Caldwell is the Antichrist.

Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season is nigh in the books and my favorite quarterback - who many believe is not really an NFL quarterback - is still unemployed. To be fair, playing quarterback in the NFL is not for the faint of heart. It's easy to go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, in the span of a week sometimes.

Last week, Josh Freeman, this season's "What in the world happened to him?" poster boy was in the midst of being unceremoniously dumped by my hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Freeman's situation had been building for some time and while it felt a little uncomfortable, not too many would argue that it was time for a change in Tampa. There are two sides to every story and it may just be a case of the Bucs not being into Josh anymore. However, it seems young Mr. Freeman has received a nice golden parachute in the form of a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Vikings. Meanwhile, the Bucs had the weekend off, hopefully spending a great deal of time working with backups Mike Glennon and Dan Orlovsky. Or, as is my fervent wish, preparing the announcement that will be made during Bucs coach Greg Schiano's press conference (1:30 pm CDT) today regarding Tim Tebow being signed to the club.

Yay! No more Creamsicle Sundays!

As a lifelong Bucs fan, I would dearly love to see Tim Tebow in the red and pewter - or even the creamsickle - of Tampa Bay. But there may be teams in even greater need of an inspirational quarterback after this weekend.

The poster team for Give us Tebow is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags traveled to St. Louis to battle the previously 1-3 Rams. This definitely looked like a game that Jacksonville could steal. An early 67-yard TD off of a short pass from Blaine Gabbert to Justin Blackmon had us all going. But the rest of the first half unfolded pretty much to script as St. Louis outscored Jacksonville 24-3 the rest of the way, talking a 14-point lead into the locker room at halftime. A late drive by Chad Henne - in for the injured (again) Gabbert - closed the gap but St. Louis responded and, well, oh and five for the Jaguars.

On Friday of last week there were rumors flying that the Jags were going to give Tebow a look. But Caldwell, the Jaguar's version of Captain Queeg, is holding firm. Heck, even Stephen A. Smith over at ESPN has said that the Jags should sign Tebow - and he thinks Tim is a terrible QB!

I think Tebow can do better...

So, if not the Bucs or Jags, then who?

Previous blogs on this subject highlighted the shortcomings of all the quarterbacks in Tampa and Jacksonville, but I've also called out a few other folks as potential Tebow landing zones.

  • Minnesota Vikings: Despite their struggles, the Vikes have brought in Freeman from Tampa Bay to round out the competition between Ponder and Cassel for QB. Good luck with that.
  • Arizona Cardinals: I had previously called out the Cards and their itinerant veteran Carson Palmer. Save some unrealized expectations in Cincinnati, Palmer - one of the train of QBs out of USC in recent years - has just never lived up to his expectations. But yesterday, Arizona laid it on Carolina 22-6. Not that Palmer lit it up; but a win takes the heat off a little. 
  • Detroit Lions: Now here's a new entry. Matthew Stafford, the strong-armed Lion's QB out of Georgia, continues to frustrate Detroit football fans. I really don't think that they would be willing to kick Stafford to the curb but after a decent performance with a TD and no interceptions against division rival Green Bay yesterday, the Lion's still lost. 
With the season almost a third complete, the options are narrowing. Despite shoddy results by the Giants, Dolphins, and Carolina, I don't see their quarterbacks going anywhere. It's coming down to a two-horse race at this stage of the season: Jacksonville or Tampa Bay?

My heart hopes that the Glazer family rolls the dice and brings Tebow in to fire up the Buccaneer faithful. But my head says Caldwell will eventually cave and Tebow will be offered a shot with the Jaguars. 

It could happen!

What do you think?


Friday, October 4, 2013

Head or heart?

I have an addictive personality. Just ask Mrs. X. If I like something, no matter what it is, I can really go off the deep end. I'm a grown man, but I entered adulthood in the years when computers and video games were just taking off. I love playing video games. My tastes have changed over the years but I could still play Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, FIFA 20xx, name it, for hours. Literally. Arcade game? Pinball machine? PC? Console? Bring it.

Castle X from the ocean-side...

If not for my addictive personality, how else can you explain that - at my age - I put the time and effort required into building a castle in Minecrack that is three stories tall, surrounded by water, has a rooftop made completely of glass, has a boat dock, and can be seen for miles because of the Netherrack burning eternally atop its battlements? Do you have any idea how long it took me to dig, mine and build that sucker? I won't even discuss the cavernous, multi-level, underground complex I'm currently building that will eventually be connected - over a significant distance - by powered rail to the catacombs of Castle X (see above). Like I said, an addictive personality.

This is an addiction of the head. I would opine that the head is where most addictions reside. The Bible has (roughly) 95 verses that speak of wine or alcohol in one way or another. Many Christian denominations teach that believers should abstain from alcohol completely, others do not. Clearly, overuse of wine or strong drink is discouraged in the Bible. My guiding principle in this regard comes from Romans 14:21 -

It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother [and by extension, sister] stumbles.

I've pretty much put aside the drinking thing. As I suspect most folks who have addictive personalities will tell you, if someone likes the taste of alcohol or the effect it brings or the impression of good times it engenders, look out.

I believe there is one overriding principle the Bible teaches that covers just about everything, whether it is mentioned specifically by name or not: If something takes your heart away from God - in effect replaces God with something of this Earth - then that, my friend, is bad.

With all your heart?

Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37, among other verses, tell us that we are to love God with all our hearts. Every time I read those verses I am convicted because I know there are compartments in my heart (and mind, and spirit...) that I have not let God into. I would hazard a guess that even the most devout believers might have a few sections in the picture above that are absent of God. But maybe not, maybe that's just me justifying my own weakness.

I know in my head that I need to allow God into every aspect of my life, but the mirror of my heart doesn't always reflect that. As Ferris Bueller said during his day off, "Life moves pretty fast..."

There are two parts to this heart discussion. There is part one: the belief part and part two: the life part. In order for us to love God with all of our hearts, we need first to believe in His redeeming plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. That is not a head decision but one of the heart. The Apostle Paul illustrates this perfectly in Romans 10:9. Based on the Bible a person cannot arbitrarily decide they are a Christian - a follower of Christ - they have to have a change of heart.

I'm not trying to back anyone into a doctrinal corner, far from it. I've read some Christian blogs recently that discuss the openness - or lack thereof - of today's churches. Our churches should be open and welcoming to all. A few verses on, in Romans 10:14, Paul hits on another truth, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?"

If we expect our churches to be places where people can come and hear the truth of the Bible and places where, once having heard, can confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts, hadn't we better make sure that our church doors are wide open?

Not very welcoming...

If someone has decided in their head to give Christianity a try, they aren't Christians. Even if they are attending church regularly, serving the community, etc. there has not been a change of heart. I can make a head decision not to drink alcohol, but if I'm going to dedicate my life to Jesus and call myself a Christian, that has to come from my heart.

Once I've made that heart decision, I've got a whole bunch of other life decisions to make. And in my short time as a Christian, I've learned that it takes both the head and the heart to make those.

What do you think?


Thursday, October 3, 2013


I am not technically illiterate. In fact, despite my age, I consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to technology. I have always been an early adopter of technology - with the exception of that which has been pushed most evangelically by those Kool-Aid-drinking Steve Jobs acolytes. If I had to pick one thing that illustrates my laissez-faire attitude toward all things Apple, it's the new ad which pits the iPad against Microsoft's new Surface tablet.

Do you still think I'm pretty?

Apple's offerings in the iAge are inarguably attractive and despite Microsoft's assertion in the ad above, iProducts are pretty darn functional. Apple's iTunes store was a trendsetter, forging the path that Amazon, Google and others are following. However, just because you are the first to do something doesn't mean you are the best. Just ask IBM or Sony or Atari.

But this blog is not a critique of hardware platforms or their operating systems. Today, I've discovered podcasts. Thanks to my friend Adam, I've downloaded BeyondPod Podcast Manager from Google's Play store. It's not that I didn't know about podcasts; it's just that I never had time for them. In the same context with which I disdain the DVR I had abstained from falling down the podcast rabbit-hole.
Unlimited information...tiny little brain

I don't spend a lot of time outside my vehicle consuming personal information. Be it video or audio I have evolved into a real-time consumer of media. Back in the day it made sense to record things that you found incredibly interesting because there was every chance that if you missed it, you truly missed it. Today though, we are so inundated with media I feel like Neo in the Matrix. And however adept I am with technology, the real problem lies not with finding information but with the filtering of all the information you can find. When so much is available, how on Earth can I decide what content is deserving of the small amount of time I have available each day to consume it?

How do I pick out the important ones and zeroes?

In the few minutes I had to play around with my shiny new BeyondPod Podcast Manager app, I've created a new podcast category that fits the first four feeds I've signed up for and saved those feeds accordingly. It remains to be seen how much time I can carve out of my already-overtaxed day to kick back and listed to my chosen content. I believe the data streams I've selected are very important and chock full of high-quality, spiritually enhancing information. But like Neo, I have to learn my way around this new world and, hopefully someday, I'll be able to exert full control over it and bend the podcast matrix to my will.

Sooner or later I'm going to realize that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. It's inevitable.

What do you think?