Zoo Station

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Archive for November, 2007

How to have a college football national championship

Posted by Chance on November 29, 2007

Tune into ESPN or listen to sports radio and almost every time college football is discussed, the term “playoffs” soon surfaces.

For a while, I wasn’t on board with a playoff system. I thought the season would simply be too long. Too much work and too much risk of injuries. But, something I think very few people realize is that there are playoffs in college football. Division-II and Division-III, even Division-IAA (now called Division I FCS) all have playoffs. 16 teams, 4 games for the top 2 teams. Why not Division-IA (or Division I FBS)? Not only that, high school football as playoffs. My high school’s division had 32 teams, 5 games. How can one say that a playoff is too taxing for college football’s top division when even high schoolers seem capable of handling it?

So if we decide playoffs are the best way, the question is who and how many?

Option 1) The best 8 or 16 teams get in, regardless of conference. The BCS or AP would select who they are.

Option 2) Playoffs are composed of the conference champs, period.

Option 3) Playoffs are composed of the conference champs and a few wild card picks. This is how the playoffs work for any major sport. Division/conference leaders get in automatically, and the best teams left get picked. A variation of this would be that only the champs of the BCS conferences got in, and the rest are at-large (similar to the BCS bowl system now).

The problem I have with Option 1 is that it still allows a high degree of subjectivity in football. The polls and even the BCS rankings are very subjective. I prefer either option 2 or 3 because it allows everyone a shot regardless of the conference. Yes, some conferences are weaker, but if that is the case, it would be proven in the playoffs. Who cares if, say Michigan or Georgia is better than Hawaii? The point is, they aren’t better than the best team in their own respective conference, and the whole point of the playoffs is to determine the best team overall.

The problem with option 3 is it still leaves room for some subjectivity. Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel points this out in his blog:

If the NCAA would adopt my playoff plan — an 11-team playoff, with only conference champions involved — think how great would be not just the playoff, but the regular season. That’s the problem with all the 16-team or 8-team playoffs. When you bring in the wild cards and at-large berths, you’ve got just as big a mess as we’ve got now, and you’ve watered down the regular season.

I agree with Tramel, and think that a tournament solely composed of the conference champs would be the best. The top 5 teams would get a first round bye. You would get 4 rounds, a total of 10 games.

Posted in Sports | 3 Comments »

7 facts about yours truly

Posted by Chance on November 29, 2007

I was tagged by Lee to share 7 facts about myself. Give him a visit sometime. He’s a pretty fascinating person.

1. I’ve been married for four years to my wonderful wife.

2. I was raised by my grandparents for 12 years.

3. I once met “Big Country” Bryant Reeves at a family reunion.

4. I used to play with Bible action figures as a kid. I had David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, Jonah and a big whale he could fit in, all the famous Bible people. I also had Jesus, but I pretty much left him alone. I didn’t want to do anything blasphemous.

5. As a kid, I watched way too much TV and didn’t read nearly enough books.

6. I played football for a year in high school. I was a pretty small kid. Most small kids are at least fast. I was not.

7. Seeing my baby boy laughing for the first time brought tears to my eyes.

I’m supposed to tag 7 people, but I will just do those that typically or may do these: I will tag those who typically do these: Josh, The Pachyderm, Neil, and John Kaiser.

Posted in Tagging | 2 Comments »

Still missing an important point: Possible breakthrough in stem-cell research

Posted by Chance on November 20, 2007

An article from Wired states that

In an unprecedented feat of biological alchemy, researchers have turned human skin cells into stem cells that hold the same medical promise as the controversial embryonic stem cells.

Scientists believe stem cell research will be able to cure numerous diseases and regenerate failing bodies. The new technique, however, doesn’t require the destruction of embryos, or use human eggs or cloning. Thus, it sweeps aside the ethical objections to stem-cell research.

I think this is great, because there are ethical questions involved when using embryonic stem cells.

However, some people are still missing an important point when it comes to stem-cell research. Ethical dilemmas are not the only reason to question government funding of medical research. To support stem-cell research does not automatically mean one must support government funding, though most people think the two are synonymous. I don’t want to get into a detailed list of pros and cons for government funding right now, but I think it is a question that we should at least consider.

The problem with our culture is that we assume all things good and true must be funded by government. We think the arts are important, well, let’s use tax money to fund the arts! We want to support our farmers; well, make sure they get subsidies! Ethanol can increase fuel efficiency, well, by all means, give lots of money to car or oil companies to research the issue! Like baseball, well, let’s give billionaires some money so they will build a stadium in this city! Think faith-based initiatives are great, well, we better throw tax dollars at them!

The idea that government is a type of benefactor is so pervasive in our minds that we think anything that needs to be done in society should be done so through laws and tax dollars. And that’s unfortunate, because I believe government corrupts so many things. People complain that we should fund stem-cell research because we shouldn’t let politics corrupt science, but that is exactly what happens when you fund the research.

Some people prefer a “broader view” of government. But I prefer a “separate spheres” approach. Now, I don’t mean that are values shouldn’t inform how we interact in politics as one can take that statement to mean. What I mean is that we shouldn’t be so quick to ensure that government infests every area of our lives. So many good and pure things happen outside the reach of government. Sure, we must ensure that we have a just society and that everyone is treated equally under the law. At the same time, however, many revolutionary things, Jesus’ mission for one, happened outside, and in spite of, and even contrary to, the realm of government. Other institutions, such as the family, the church, and charities, are the ones that truly change lives.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »

A conflict of rights?

Posted by Chance on November 16, 2007

Sigrid Fry-Revere from the Cato-blog says the following:

I believe abortion is morally wrong, but I also believe that in a conflict between mother and fetus, a woman’s right must always take precedence. A human being’s rights under the law increase with maturity. That has been the tradition under Anglo-American law as well as world wide for most of history. To suggest that a fetus has the same rights as a mature adult individual borders on the perverse. A woman’s rights should never be placed second to the needs of her fetus. To do so is to treat women first and foremost as communally owned vessels for bringing forth life and only second as autonomous individuals.

I take a couple issues with this.

First of all, I disagree that age affects right to life. She rightly asserts that the rights of individuals, on the whole, increase with age. Adults can do more things, whether it be vote, make major purchases, drink, etc… Children’s lives can be essentially run by their parents. But the right to be free from harm should always be a constant. While parents can choose how they raise their kids and what philosophies to teach them, parents never have the right to harm their children. I understand that Fry-Revere does not believe a fetus qualifies as a human, but her argument concerning age and rights does not hold water here.

Secondly, one has to consider exactly what rights are being trumped. Many pro-lifers, such as myself, do agree that if the fetus poses an imminent risk to the mother, abortion is not immoral. However, Fry-Revere is weighing the right to life vs. the right not to be inconvenienced.

The author does say one statement I agree with, however. The idea of each state deciding whether abortion is legal or not does sound appealing, after all it is better than the current situation. But philosophically, I don’t know if it is that sound. She states

Abortion should no more be a question for local politics than slavery.

Unfortunately, she goes in the wrong direction from there.

Posted in Pro-Life | 3 Comments »

The media’s view of the American Dad, real and ideal

Posted by Chance on November 14, 2007

Who says you can’t learn anything from Hollywood?

Watching TV and movies we see a portrayal of the average dad. This may provide insight into how many dads are viewed and/or what makes the ideal father.

In most TV shows the husband/dad is portrayed as a bumbling idiot. Look at King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The Simpsons. The dad is usually incompetent and inconsiderate of his wife’s feelings. He is always the one that screws everything up. That is just how it is.

It seems to be different in the movies, however, and perhaps that is because of the style of storytelling that tends to work towards a resolution, both in events and character; whereas a TV show things tend to stay the same. At the beginning, the dad is someone to tied up into his work, ignores his family, and tends to pursue money as opposed to higher ideals. Let’s look at the movies RV and the modern version of The Shaggy Dog.

In RV, the dad is having problems with his job, and he isn’t exactly commanding respect from his kids. He finally faces a dilemma near the end of the movie, in which he has a choice of commercial success or staying true to his values.

In The Shaggy Dog, the dad is similar, but more extreme. He is pursuing success in his job, but all the while somewhat neglecting his wife, and he is not involved in his son and daughter’s lives whatsoever. The son is pretending to play football to make his dad happy, while secretly practicing for a play. The dad, Tim Allen’s character, is at odds with his daughter concerning a clash of values. When the dad transforms into a dog, however, he gets a sneak peek into his children’s lives. He transforms from a workaholic dad to a great family man who shares the values of his daughter.

I think in movies and TV we may get a glimpse of the American Dad archetype (I suppose this could be any dad, but I really just watch American TV and movies). (I hope archetype is the right word, correct me if not) In the movies, he is a workaholic father and may only be involved in the children’s lives to the extent that he urges them to get good grades or, in the case of a son, be a man’s man and play football or the like. His primary concern is his career, and the family is really secondary.

Interestingly enough, the TV representation in some sense, is the opposite. Instead of being ambitious and successful, he has little motivation at all. We don’t see this so much in the Raymond character, but in King of Queens, The Simpsons. But the attitude towards the family is still not overwhelmingly positive. It is primarily one of indifference, although not the degree of neglect seen in the movies.

These are just observations I’ve made. In TV, there’s not really much redemption concerning the father character; the father character is not motivated to be an active father, and he realizes that, and he accepts that, and the family accepts that. Movies are more positive, however, we see how some fathers are, but we also get a glimpse of how fathers should be. Men need to take note of these characters. Society wants fathers that are not tied up in their job, who love their wives, who are involved in their children’s lives beyond the disciplinarian role, and who shares values that aren’t compromised by the outside world. I think God wants the same thing. I would add this though. At the same time, I believe the wife/mother has a responsibility to ensure that the dad is still respected, even if he is not perfect. But the overall message is clear; be there for your family, don’t just be the breadwinner.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

A vet’s day post, a day late

Posted by Chance on November 13, 2007

Perspective, I believe, is one of the keys to living a somewhat content and grumble-free life.

My boss was telling me this story. He occasionally has to travel to Hawaii. He has been there 50-something times over his career. He’s sick of going. He was complaining about the trip…to someone who was in Iraq. The soldier was kind enough, but his elaboration about his trip changed my boss’s perspective.

At Starbucks the other day, some guy was yelling at the barista because his order was wrong. If the worst thing that happens to you that day is that you have the wrong kind of milk in your coffee drink, you live a blessed and/or fortunate life.

And I’m no different. I get consumed by the everyday worries of life. I have bills to pay, projects for the house, etc… I get upset when my teams lose, but again, if that’s the worst of my problems, I am in good shape.

One of the greatest days of my life was when my son was born. I saw him the very second he stepped into this world. When he graduates, when he gets married, when he has his own babies, I will always look back to the day I saw him, and he saw the world, for the very first time.

But some people don’t see that day. They are off on the other side of the world while their baby is born. All wonder if they will live to see their child. Some don’t.

Many of us don’t have to spend 13 to 15 months away from our family. For many of us, imminent death is not at the front of our minds. For many of us, we don’t sleep in a foxhole. Many of us have the luxury of being there when our babies are born.

All it takes is a little perspective to see that our lives really aren’t that bad. We have it pretty good and we have had to sacrifice so very little. Other’s have and are making that sacrifice.

This isn’t about the nobility or lack thereof of the current war, or any war in particular. The point is, people are willing to die for us.

To all the veterans and current soldiers, Thank you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Universe

Posted by Chance on November 11, 2007

Sometimes I enjoy getting into a good debate. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m in the mood to talk about serious topics, whether it be political, theological, whatever… Unfortunately, I seem to be in a bit of a bind. I do one of my few posts about TV shows, then I am criticized for watching too much TV. Go figure. I suppose everything is a topic for debate. I just feel that the topics I post on are subject for debate. At the same time, however, a blog is somewhat like a safe haven, where I post about whatever I feel like talking about; but when I am criticized personally based on my selection of topics, then that “safe haven” aspect goes away. I guess that’s what irks me.

Speaking of TV, right now I am watching a special on the History channel called “The Universe.” It touches a little bit on the topic of religion and science in regards to the origin of the universe.

So here’s a question. Are religion and science meant to be mutually exclusive? I’ve heard the theory that science explains the what, religion explains the why? Or are science and religion really compatible, is it just religionists who put God in a box, or scientists who are pure materialists that make it not seem to be the case?

I’m more of a fan of the physical sciences, as opposed to the biological. Concerning evolution and such, I’m not opposed to the idea of any evolutionary mechanisms being involved in nature. And evolution can be a vague term. If I am asked, “Do you believe in evolution”, I’m not even sure what I am being asked. Macro-evolution? Micro-evolution? Sometimes I think Christians are focused on the idea of defeating evolution, when not all aspects of evolution necessarily contradict the Bible.

There seems to be less of a conflict when it comes to the physical sciences. It seems that the origin of the universe as a whole does not really conflict with a divine Creator. In fact, the idea of the Big Bang seems to fit along just nicely.

Is it natural to believe in a divine Creator? At first glance, the idea of a universe that came on its own is no easier to swallow than a universe that sprang from a Creator. The natural question is, if God created the universe, who created God? I would say nobody, and I don’t think that is an intellectual cop out. Here’s why.

I have two options:
1) The universe, which has certain rules (conservation of energy, things always tend towards choas) came out of nothing.
2) Something outside the universe which is not bound by our same rules created the universe.

To me, option 2 seems easier to swallow. Maybe it doesn’t to other people. Psalm 19:1-4 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God”, so I think God did instill something in us that leads us to look at nature and infer a Creator behind it.

This isn’t meant as some course in apologetics. I’m just thinking out loud. My main point is, as far as the science I know, I don’t think religion and science necessarily come into conflict. But I don’t know if our worldview should be that religion and science are mutually exclusive, or that they truly complement each other.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Love isn’t all you need

Posted by Chance on November 6, 2007

In my Sunday School class we are going over the Love and Respect series by Emerson Eggerichs. The idea of the series is that it focuses on a key verse on marriage in the Bible from Ephesians 5:33:

Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

As most marriage books/videos do, the series talks about the need for a husband to love his wife, but it also focuses on another key aspect of a successful marriage – that a wife respect her husband.

Women should love their husbands, and husbands respect their wives, but the idea is that women are naturally loving, and men are naturally respectful, so they may not tend to give their spouse exactly what they need.

The idea of what respect looks like is less certain than love, at least to me and many others. Some people, such as myself, believe the husband is the head of the household under Christ, and part of this respect is a recognition of that position. But even if you tend to be more liberal in thought regarding family structure, you could still appreciate the idea of respect, in that a husband wants to be admired and not looked down upon. I think men want to be treated in a way that say, other people at work treat him. I was with a group of guys once at a former church, and one of their complaints about their wives was that at times they talked to the men, they talked to them in a disrespectful way that other men wouldn’t dare talk to them.

I just wanted to touch on this idea a little bit. This doesn’t mean that women don’t deserve respect and men don’t deserve love, I just believe this verse just focuses on needs of our spouse we tend to overlook. And respect doesn’t mean the man can never be challenged or called out if he does something wrong; people have taken this idea to the extreme and made respect equate with control. At the same time, we are also a love-saturated society. The idea of respect is often not talked about. Love isn’t all you need.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »