Wednesday, February 05, 2014

"Let there be light" | National Catholic Reporter

"Let there be light" | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Support these people if you can.  Amazing story.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Kudos to Tom Roberts | National Catholic Reporter

Kudos to Tom Roberts | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: There are quite a few ex-Jesuits who leave for a variety of reasons.  Roberts need not apologize for the Society nor throw his friend under the bus.  What matters is, I suspect, the former Fr. Dear does with his life now that he has left.  That will serve as justification for why and whether it had anything to do with politics.  Tom did not don pom-poms, but maybe he should have let the writing of this commentary go to someone else - or simply quit talking about it and let life go on.

The "War on Francis"? | National Catholic Reporter

The "War on Francis"? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Mills calls out FoxNews for its latest bit of Truth Speak, that somehow Capitalists are good for hard working Americans (who need a raise) and that Francis and Catholic Social Teaching (how he misunderstands it) gets in the way - or worse - justifies Capitalist exploitation.  Shaw needs to read up on what Leo and every pope since then says about a living wage (indeed, a few bishops should too when review the adequacy of pay for their staffs and those at the parish level, i.e., that it should relate to the size of the family).

Debating American Exceptionalism | National Catholic Reporter

Debating American Exceptionalism | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Secularization came about for a few reasons - none of which having to do with marrying later.  My father married at 24 but had me (his first) at 36.  Likewise, his father had all of his children late in light, as did my mother's father, who had my mother in a second marriage - although lived long enough for me to be able to get to know him a bit - although I wish I could have had another 10 years so we could have talked politics and outflanked my father.

Three things have led to secularization.  The most obvious one is television.  In the 50s and much of the 60s, Sunday Morning was a TV wasteland.  Second, the strictness of the 50s led many to simply rebel - with Vatican II and the demystification of the Mass giving them permission.  Humanae Vitae sealed the deal.  Finally, the children of those of 40's and 50's Catholicism simply let their children make up their own minds.  While some still force their kids to go to Church, those who feel forced simply stop going when in college (Catholic college or not).  There are some who come back, some who become Evangelicals when reached if they are seeking certainty (or a faith to match their libertarian politics) and some who be Episcopalians or Presbyterians in they are looking for a "Real Pressence" Church (not sect, Church - the hierarchy is wrong on this point).  The Episcopal Church is especially popular with the socially liberal (who may still be wealthy) - given its acceptance of women and gays in the priesthood (not ministry, priesthood).

As for the term American Exceptionalism, that is usually about how our commitment to both liberty and equality exists side by side, unlike many other nations - especially in regard to seeing rights coming from God rather than being granted by the government.  I am not sure this is true for modern social democracies - although I am quite sure the right wingers would say that such schemes are a violation of liberty.

Our Cultural Obsessions | National Catholic Reporter

Our Cultural Obsessions | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: The game was essentially over after the first snap led to a safey - and yet people watched - probably because nothing stirs the masses like a blow out.  This was good for the advertisers, as they can point to the ratings, say that they helped, and charge a bit more to their clients - although hard core beer drinkers (the ones who consume the most reliably - are alcoholics who will drink anyway - the question is what?).  People watch the Super Bowl not just for that game, but for the 46 games that came before it, as well as the 30 odd NFL title games that came before the American and National Leagues merged.  Watching the game brings back memories for many, often of family lost, and rehonors all of those prior champions over the course of so many years.  At one point, professional football was a speculative enterprise (and it still relies on owner rather than corporations).  Now, not so much.

As for Downton Abbey, I've never seen it, although my sister swears by it.  Still, she does not watch it.  Comcast, Fios or whatever she has allows her to watch episodes on the next day and for a long time into the future.  Anyone with a satellite or cable provider or Netflix could do the same.  For me, my favorite British import is Dr. Who, which I began watching as I was making a spaghetti bolognaise and sausage dinner for my APO brothers at a chapter reunion.  I am not sure I have missed an episode since if I could avoid it.  To show my age, I started with the 3rd Doctor.  They are on 13 now (since they recognized the unspoken Doctor as a legitimate incarnation - frankly, they pulled him out of thin air.

Science fiction, I find, teaches us as much about the human condition (aliens, androids and all) so something like Downton Abbey - or for that matter, the Super Bowl.  Pagan mythology does essentially the same thing, which is why most no longer find it objectionable as we did in ancient Rome.  The problem in Rome was government domination, not the existence of actual pagan gods.  It would have been wiser for Church fathers to play the Roman's little charade and go about their business.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Seattle wins with a bullet!

The Big Game has been played and it is that time of year again when I update my All-Time-Greatest list.  Fans of the Sagittarius Project will recognize this annual posting from years back, which I also added to my notes page last year.  I will cross post to the blogspot list so that non-friends can read it as well, although I suspect more hits here (even without a hit counter).

Annual readers know that to determine greatness, I add trophies - Super Bowl, NFC, NFL, AFC and AFL.  I do not count non-title game wins, such as division championships and pre-NFL league championships, including those won by the Packers and others before there was a Title Game.  If I were to count the old victories, I would also have to count equivalent wins - which would be division championships.  That would be quite a job because my spreadsheet contains annual rankings, allowing me to track a team's position over time.  Even excluding early non-title game wins, Green Bay was an early leader, who then ebbed and regrouped in the 1960s, ebbing again until  recently.  Their  last Super Bowl has them firmly in place in the top spot with 15 wins and nothing that happened this year changed that. Likewise, Pittsburgh (14), Dallas (13) and the Giants (12) remain unmoved at the top.  San Francisco, even though they lost the NFC Championship, is firmly in 5th place all time with 11 trophies.  For quite a few years, they were tied with Washington, who remains in 6th with 10.  Washington was tied with New England, put New England's loss gives them one more loss than Washington has, so New England goes to 7th.  By winning the AFC title game, Denver moved to eighth and by losing the Big Game, they form a tie with Chicago both teams having records of 9 wins and 7 losses.  Indianapolis is 10th - and last year  they were tied with Denver until Denver moved forward this year.  Win with Manning - slide without Manning.  Even in defeat, he is the most significant player of our time.

So what about Seattle?  They were 28th last year.  They are now 21st, going from 1 and 2 to 3 and 2.  While they still have a long way to go to threaten Green Bay's All-Time record, a seven position rise must be considered impressive.  Here is the table to illustrate the point:

Over the last few years, I added a table that assumed it was more important to be in a championship game than to win won when defining All-Time-Greatness.  While I don't believe that, fans of the New York Giants might, given their long string of appearances in Championship games over time.  Dallas is also a major player in that ranking system.   (both have 24 appearances in championship games.  Pittsburgh has 23 while Green Bay and as of this year, San Francisco, have 21 and share 4th place.  Oakland has been 6th while Washington and New England were tied for 7th - a tie broken this year with New England's championship appearance - sliding Washington to 8th.  I now count St. Louis tied with Washington.  I had not before because I was breaking ties with the number of wins.  This year I removed the tie breaker.  Denver follows Washington and St. Louis at 10th.  Seattle is still moving fast in such a ranking - although it serves Denver this year more than Seattle because they started higher, moving from 29th (almost the basement) to 24th.  This ranking is added below:

Monday, February 11, 2013

The unprecedented resignation of Benedict | National Catholic Reporter

The unprecedented resignation of Benedict | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB:  According to St. Malachy, the next pope, Peter the Roman, will be the last and the city of Rome will be destroyed under his reign. This comports with the third secret of Fatima which has the Pope shot (possibly by mistake) by a solidier among the ruins of Rome. Given the possible economic collapse of Italy, this is not an unlikely prospect or its geologic instability.

I had thought that Benedict would have more fully fulfilled his title, the Glory of the Olive (which was met by taking the name Benedict) by making a more lasting peace with Constantinople, possibly even acknowledging the rightful supremacy of New Rome (which was created when Rome was a backwater). The fact that he gave his papacy a 17 day deadline rather than an immediate one may yet show that something is in the works.

Dolan Takes A Second Step Back | National Catholic Reporter

Dolan Takes A Second Step Back | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB:  The Cardinal realized that the entire flap was about politics (on both sides) and that the current solution was likely planned from the outset. Now that the distraction is over, it will play out quietly. Of course, if the next pope is a nutjob whose fate is to fragment the Church in a model more like the Orthodox by pure incompetency, you can expect to see more of this. At least His Grace, the Archbishop of Philadelphia has no vote in the matter.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Baltimore Rises

I don't seem to write about anything else in my Sagittarian community column.  I had such hopes that people of a similar bent would comment and build a community.  Still, the annual comment on how the Super Bowl matters in the overall ranking of NFL championship games survives.  Note that I leave out the pre-1935 championships, as these involved simply winning what amounts to a division in modern terms - and if I were to count them, every division title would be included as well in what I consider a count of all-time greatness to date.  That being said, here are this year's comments.

Any Baltimore win does not come without controversy, as when the Baltimore Colts left in the middle of the night, they took their records with them.  As the result, when the Cleveland Brown left for Baltimore, they left their records in Cleveland - even though Cleveland has earned nothing in terms of AFC or NFL championships since the Browns were reconstituted.  An argument can reasonably be made that the team that is now the Ravens deserves both those wins and those losses.  First, let's consider the straight up rankings:

As you see, Baltimore has moved from 22 to a three way tie for 16.  Meanwhile, San Francisco moved to fifth all-time, even by losing, due to their winning of the NFC championship.  Atlanta, by losing that game dropped to 29 while New England dropped to 6th place.

Consider what happens if Baltimore keeps its Cleveland record.  Instead of 4 wins and 2 losses, it would have 8 wins and 12 losses and be ranked number 12, just ahead of Miami.  Next, lets list the number of appearances, where the Cleveland factor really means something.

San Francisco moves up to fifth position, with 20 appearances.  Baltimore moves to 20th, with only six appearances, moving out of a tie for 23rd.  Atlanta moves from 29th to 27th with their loss while New England moves from ninth to seventh, tying with Washington at 17.

Here is where the Cleveland factor really impacts Baltimore.  With 14 appearances, Cleveland is thirteenth.  Combine those with Baltimore's 6 and the franchise Mr. Brown originated is sixth, with 20 appearances but fewer victories than San Francisco.  In that way, the die was cast before Beyonce's roadies started plugging in her effects, which is why I favor wins rather than appearances.

Monday, February 06, 2012

New York Triumphant

The final gun has gone off and New York has retained their spot, won in the conference championships, as the fourth all-time greatest team in terms of league, conference and Super Bowl trophies, with 12 wins.  Just by showing up, they move to number two in the number of championship game appearances, 24, with Dallas retaining their number one spot with 13 victories.  New England remains the fifth all-time greatest with 10 wins in the fewest tries, although winning would have moved them ahead of New York.  In terms of appearances, they are now number nine, having one more win than Chicago, who also has 16 appearances but only nine wins.

Here are the final rankings for the year.

Monday, January 23, 2012

NCAA Rankings

In doing my post on "The Big Game" I realize that I never posted my annual NCAA column.  A simple scan down the blog shows that I do it every year.  I did it this year, but left it on my laptop without posting it, copying it to the cloud or to my thumb drive.  Problem is, my laptop got a virus and I forgot I had never backed the file up, so I told my IT guy to go ahead and wipe the computer and rebuild it.  Oops.  So, I just spent the last few hours copying the data from the CBS Sports web page, doing my personal rankings and adding all three together.  Unlike the pollsters, the BCS loser does not get an automatic second in my book.  Usually, I rank the BCS loser below the other BCS bowl winners but higher than the non-BCS winners, with the other major schools who won their bowl games following after, followed by the BCS bowl losers, although I usually run out of votes before we run out of teams.  Some years, teams are close enough that my opinion matters in my ranking.  This year, not so much.

Without further ado, here is my composite ranking for this year.  Feel free to copy the table and put your numbers in instead.

The Big Game Cometh

It is now that time again - my annual pre-Big Game rankings of what's at stake as far as all-time rankings.  As people who follow this blog know, I count both Big Game victories, conference championships and league champships since an actual championship game has been played.  Prior to the first such game, the league championship was based on win-loss records, essentially a division championship.  To include those championships, one would also have to count all division championships in subsequent years as a "win."  Others can do that, however unless someone pays me to do so and gives me a really good data file, I am not going to that kind of effort, especially since my current database includes year by year rankings so that you can follow the history of who was top ranked - although after a few decades this gets mind numbing to even look at.

That being said, I have two sets of rankings.  The first stresses the number of wins in championship games, with ties broken by winning percentage.  The second stresses the number of appearances, with ties broken by the number that resulted in wins.  The reason I do separate stats is because the League ranks its all time greatest list by win-loss percentage in the last game, ignoring the fact that what was the league is now the conference - with conference championships still meriting a trophy.  By their logic, an expansion team becomes the greatest team ever by winning the Big Game once.  That is insane, but given that the alignment of divisions is geographically challenged, it is not unexpected.

Here is the first set of ranks.  Click on the image to expand the table.

Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Dallas are safe in the one, two and three spots.  New York is in number four and New England is at number five after last Sunday's game.  This is a change, as these wins have moved them both past Washingon and San Francisco, who were tied for fourth at ten wins and seven losses.  By losing yesterday, San Francisco moves down to seventh, while Washington moves to sixth by not losing.  Baltimore dropped down from 21 to 22 by losing if you accept the fiction that they left their previous record in Cleveland with their name, even though there is continuity of personnel and ownership that indicates otherwise.  If they have to leave their record, then they need to be given the prior record of a certain team in Indiana who used to be located there.

The winner of the Big Game will move to fourth greatest overall.  New York currently has eleven wins and twelve losses in championship games, while New England has ten wins and five losses.  A New England will give them eleven wins with fewer losses, moving them to the number four slot.  A New York win gives them twelve wins - one behind Dallas who has thirteen.

For those of you who think being in the championship is more important than winning it, we have the second ranking:

New York, by showing up, will move to number two overall, with 24 total appearances. The conference championship was their 23rd appearance, tying with Pittsburgh but with fewer victories, leaving them in third position for the next 13 days until they walk into the stadium (moving Pittsburgh to third, even if New York loses.  Dallas will still have more wins, even though they also have 24 appearances - so New York must go to one more champship game to get to the top spot (if they play Dallas, they have to win to overtake them).

New England was already in the tenth spot, with 14 appearances and nine wins, which is one more win than Denver and Indianapolis who are tied at eleven.  Had Denver won last week, they would have passed New England.  On game day, by showing up, New England moves up to ninth with 16 appearances, which is the same as Chicago, but Chicago has only nine wins, so New England already holds the tie breaker.

I prefer counting wins as more important than appearances, with winning percentage breaking the tie.  This year shows why, since if appearances are more important, the result of this year's Big Game will mean nothing in the overall rankings, which is a bit anti-climactic.