Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top 25 Picks Week 6

Polls were released yesterday after a really crazy weekend for the Top 25. I didn't think I'd ever be excited that BYU had a bye with where they were ranked. I went into the weekend completely convinced we would fall in the polls, especially since I knew Penn State would jump us. I'm ecstatic that we're 8 for not having played this past week. But yeah, some crazy upsets from last week. There were 6 byes last week and I missed 6 picks, 3 of those were Top 10 picks. I don't think anybody in their right mind can pick an unranked team to beat a Top 10 team under most circumstances. If you look at my comments on USC and Florida from last week, those upsets didn't really surprise me. That being said, I can't deny I got them wrong and my Wisconsin pick turned out to be ugly. Beautiful 4th Quarter for the Wolverines. I am definitely going to give myself a pat on the back for the Alabama pick, of course I was kind of disappointed when Corso had the same pick as me on College Gameday. Also, there were 6 Top 25 teams that played each other. So out of the number of games I picked, I went 10-6 for picks last week. Not incredibly pretty, but I'll take it. Here's this week's Top 25:

AP Top 25
1. Oklahoma (43) 4-0 1,599
2. Alabama (21) 5-0 1,565
3. LSU 4-0 1,466
4. Missouri (1) 4-0 1,453
5. Texas 4-0 1,362
6. Penn State 5-0 1,252
7. Texas Tech 4-0 1,105
8. Brigham Young 4-0 1,098
9. USC 2-1 1,087
10. South Florida 5-0 1,035
11. Georgia 4-1 1,018
12. Florida 3-1 914
13. Auburn 4-1 860
14. Ohio State 4-1 829
15. Utah 5-0 713
16. Kansas 3-1 650
17. Boise State 3-0 549
18. Wisconsin 3-1 520
19. Vanderbilt 4-0 459
20. Virginia Tech 4-1 290
21. Oklahoma State 4-0 277
22. Fresno State 3-1 232
23. Oregon 4-1 199
24. Connecticut 5-0 126
25. Wake Forest 3-1 107

Here's my breakdown:
1. Oklahoma @ Baylor: Sooners. Yeah, they're way freaking good. Stoops is a lot like the "Sweater Vest" though, he finds a way to lose some big ones.
2. Kentucky @ Alabama: Roll Tide! I love me the Crimson Tide. They're pretty amazing and maybe that's because Sabin is hellbent. Either way, he coaches a good team and Kentucky doesn't stand a chance.
3. LSU: Bye.
4. Missouri @ Nebraska: Missouri. Chase Daniel is my Heisman pick and I think he's getting another victory this week.
5. Texas @ Colorado: Texas. Did you see how bad Colorado was against FSU?
6. Penn State @ Purdue: Penn. This is a ridiculous good team and good things will continue to come.
7. Texas Tech @ Kansas State: Tech. This will be their first real test, so we'll see if they truly are good. I think K-State is a bit undervalued as well. That being said, I don't think they've got what it takes to beat this talented Red Raider offense.
8. BYU @ USU: Do you know what school I go to?!?!? USU escaped ESPN's Bottom 10 this week, but they've been regulars (3 out of 5 weeks and the preseason).
9 & 23. Oregon @ USC: Trojans. Why are the Ducks even ranked? Seriously! Didn't they just grab some random guy from the stands to play QB for them? I feel bad for them because they've definitely had some rough luck, but at the same time I can't believe how much losing a QB has killed them.
10. Pitt @ South Florida: South Florida. I hate this pick because I've seen what Pitt can do. That being said, South Florida is a respectable team playing at home, gotta go with that.
11. Georgia: Bye.
12. Florida @ Arkansas: Gators. The Razorbacks are pretty lousy and Florida is seeking blood.
13 & 19. Auburn @ Vanderbilt: War Eagles/Tigers. The Commodores get their first test. I'd say "real test" but if you've seen how bad that Auburn offense is you'll understand why I don't. That being said, they aren't so hot either, but it should be yet another tight game for Auburn.
14 & 18. Ohio State @ Wisconsin: Buckeyes. This team is going to keep playing strong and Wisconsin definitely doesn't have what it takes.
15. Oregon State @ Utah: Utes. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. The Utes are respectable and I can't deny it and the Beavers haven't been other than whatever team showed up to play last week. That being said, I can't believe the Beavers didn't get a bit more love and actually break in to the Top 25 beating the #1 team in the nation. Anybody else not get that logic?
16. Kansas @ Iowa State: Kansas. Neither of these teams are really that good. Kansas is sorely over ranked, but Iowa State lost to a far too highly touted UNLV team. UNLV is really bad and they couldn't hold their own.
17. Louisiana Tech @ Boise State: Broncos. They're playing a not so great team on the blue monster. Need I say more?
18. See #14.
19. See #13.
20. Virginia Tech: Bye. Man, how'd these guys sneak in their? They're lucky it's a bye week, that'll keep em in longer than they probably would have been.
21. Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State. Another team I'm surprised snuck it's way into the Top 25, but the Aggies really aren't any good.
22. Hawaii @ Fresno State: Fresno State. Home game against a team who's only win is Weber State. They shouldn't be too concerned.
23. See #9.
24. UConn @ North Carolina: Huskies. I'm reasonably impressed with the way they play and it seems like the ball really bounces their way. Bet we'll see some more of that this week.
25. Wake Forest: Bye. Rough week for the bye, they'll be out of the Top 25 short of Divine Intervention.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Quick Hits For 25 September 2008

So I guess since I've started titling this "Quick Hits" as opposed to some of the other titles I've used, I'll start it off with a video of a great hit from the football season. Here is a fantastic hit by the always brutal Ray Lewis:
Now that's absolutely brutal

Speaking of brutal, the economy seems to be on a real meltdown lately. The Bush speech (here in its entirety, I recommend reading it if you didn't catch it) finally got me really concerned about this economic crisis. This is such a big thing that Bush invited Obama and McCain back from their campaigning to help the Senate and the House take action. That's really big news. McCain seemed to have gotten wind of all of this a little beforehand as he suspended his campaigning before the Bush speech. Also, a part of this was him requesting to put a delay on tomorrow night's presidential debate. Obama is striving to deny him that. I can't deny that it seems like this may just be McCain playing politics, but it definitely is a serious issue, so for good for him for at least making it more of a public concern, even if it was only for selfish reasons. Here's Letterman poking fun at McCain for suspending his campaign and canceling his appearance on his show. Anyway, any thoughts on the economic situation and McCain's move? Should they debate?

Palin a continued proponent of the "bridge to nowhere." I think we probably should all be a little troubled by this. I mean this was scandal at its best, especially given Senator Ted Stevens' recent legal problems... Politico writer Mark J. Penn offers some pointers on this weeks debate. This article is interesting and informative, although he comes out with some very strong direction early on and then gets a bit wimpy late in the article. Good read... Obama back on top according to the polls. Looks like it should be a close one, but I don't think I'm surprising anybody by saying that. That seems to be more and more the case lately even, wonder how many more elections it will continue?... Biden accuses McCain of being "dangerously wrong" about his national security policy. This is just a quick blurb because it's only some tidbits released early from a future speech of Biden's. I'm curious to see exactly what Biden has to say, see if there's anything really to it, and if the news media is really going to latch onto it. I think it's a bit too much of an opinion thing to have any real proof or evidence though... Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore encourages civil disobedience to enforce standards upon new coal power plants. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a Nobel Peace Prize Winner should take a higher road than this.

What if Mormons are right? Hat tip: Matt.

Wacky news of the day: Man charged with battery for passing gas on a cop (yes, this is for real). Seems a bit extreme and harsh, but at the same time, people really should learn to think and control their alcohol intake.

Lance Armstrong to make a comeback. I'm all for it... The Matt Millen debacle: It's official, he's finally fired. I love this blog post leading up to it quoting Roy Williams about the circumstances and their playing philosophy. It's hilarious. Oddly enough, Millen had a pretty good career before the Lions. His future? Still up in the air... Feds to prove Bonds' trainer gave him steroids. Can we just convict the guy and get past this, please?... Vince Young is working on coming back. I've never been sold on him, of course I didn't really expect him to have a mental breakdown like he has. Wish him the best... Josh Scobee steals the ball he kicked for a field goal from a poor ball boy. Funny story... Former NFL players donating their brains to scientific studies. Bravo, should be some good research that comes out of that.

How do lawyers say Duke football really sucks? Hear it here. Hat tip: Jordan

Knight Rider comeback. I'll get more on this later.

One of the most amazing catches EVER!

Top 25 Picks Week 5

So the polls are out again, wish BYU was higher but I always will. I don't know that I can really dispute our ranking and I'm at least thankful that the AP is showing us a little more love. I figure I'll start making picks on the top 25 games of the week every week for the rest of the season, lets see if I'm any good at it. I'm not adventurous enough to even attempt scores though.

Here's the AP listing:
AP Top 25
1. USC (62) 2-0 1,621
2. Oklahoma 3-0 1,484
3. Georgia (2) 4-0 1,475
4. Florida (1) 3-0 1,442
5. LSU 3-0 1,363
6. Missouri 4-0 1,360
7. Texas 3-0 1,174
8. Alabama 4-0 1,132
9. Wisconsin 3-0 1,091
10. Texas Tech 4-0 962
11. Brigham Young 4-0 919
12. Penn State 4-0 891
13. South Florida 4-0 798
14. Ohio State 3-1 790
15. Auburn 3-1 785
16. Wake Forest 3-0 711
17. Utah 4-0 574
18. Kansas 3-1 555
19. Boise State 3-0 363
20. Clemson 3-1 300
21. Vanderbilt 4-0 242
22. Illinois 2-1 224
23. East Carolina 3-1 201
24. TCU 4-0 117
25. Fresno State 2-1 105

So I'll go through each game:
1. USC @ Oregon State:  USC. Can you really pick against the Trojans? Although, this may be a bit of a struggle for them and I wouldn't be surprised if they find a way to lose some sort of ridiculous game this season. Remember Stanford last year?
2 & 24. TCU @ Oklahoma: Sooners. Nough said.
3 & 8. Alabama @ Georgia: Alabama. I'm going a little bit out on a limb for this one, but frankly Georgia has been getting less and less impressive versus the tide just keeps on rolling. I don't know that either is truly a National Championship contender, even though Georgia probably should be. I feel like Georgia probably should be, like last year's LSU, but they underperform and they probably will throughout the season. Unless things change pretty quick, Georgia shouldn't be in the National Championship.
4. Mississippi @ Florida: Florida. They play a good, solid fundamental game. It isn't necessarily the prettiest and they don't necessarily blow people out, but they get it done. Watch for them as National Champion contenders exactly for this reason.
5. Mississippi State @ LSU: LSU. I can't stand LSU so I hate picking them ever, but they did manage a decent win against Auburn last week. That being said, Auburn looked awful against State, so who knows, maybe they'll throw a wrench in LSU's works?
6. Missouri: Bye.
7. Arkansas @ Texas: Texas. Not necessarily the most impressed with Texas, but they do get it done for a large part like Florida. Arkansas got smashed by Alabama last week and look for more bad news from this bad team.
8. Alabama: See #3.
9. Wisconsin @ Michigan: Wisconsin. Michigan is that bad. Really. Things are going to be even more of a mess for coach Rich Rod shortly. Frankly controversy is going to continue to follow him. Karma coach.
10 & 11. Texas Tech & BYU: Byes.
12 & 22. Illinois at Penn State: Coach Joe Pa returns to the sidelines for another victory. Illinois just can't handle the big game pressure when it's on the line, just the occasional big game upset, watch out again Ohio.
13. South Florida @ North Carolina State: South Florida. Yikes they're bad, how'd they get ranked this high? That being said, don't expect another miracle for North Carolina State. Looks like South Florida survives another week.
14. Minnesota at Ohio State: Ohio State. It's the big comeback for big Beanie.
15. Tennessee @ Auburn: Auburn. Yes, Tennessee is THAT bad. Of course Auburn's horrific offense is still going to struggle putting points on the board.
16. Navy @ Wake Forest: Wake. Those Demon Deacons are a bit underrated, of course if they face a real threat, don't expect them to go too far.
17. Weber State @ Utah: Utah. Can I please pick against them? Please? Can't do it against such a small threat. Go Weber!
18 & 19. Kansas & Boise State: Bye. Watch Kansas fall in the polls, as they should. If they're a top 25 team, it's just barely.
20. Maryland @ Clemson: Maryland. Maryland had a good showing against Cal. I think there's more good things to come.
21. Vanderbilt: Bye. Just like you can say bye to this top 25 team shortly.
22. Illinois: See #12.
23. Houston @ East Carolina: East Carolina. This is a good team that had a poor showing last week. Expect them to pick back up where they left off.
24. TCU: See #2.
25. Fresno State @ UCLA: UCLA. Yeah, UCLA's got their problems, but they need a win so they'll dig deep and find it this week. Buh-bye Fresno.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick Hits For 19 September 2008

All right well the news feed seems a little more calm today thus far than it was yesterday, so I thought I'd just throw out some quick blurbs I thought were interesting.

Obama is a better football watching buddy than McCain. Okay, so maybe it's just me, but who really cares? I want a president, not a guy I'm going to go throw back a couple of cold ones (not that I drink anyway) and chat it up with during the game. Kind of reminds me of my buddy Ian's post about how the world prefers Obama as presidential candidate. Yet again, who really cares? They aren't the one's voting and we're note voting for who would be more fun to pal it around with.

North Korea no longer wishes to be taken off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Guess we'll see how this tug of war plays out. This game keeps going back and forth. It's very reminiscent of Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the current struggle with Iran. They keep pushing their limits, then draw back. All about testing limits.

Woman sexually harrassed by a man with a cell phone camera fights back with her own cell phone camera. Technology is so often used to exploit others, we sometimes forget that we can fight back with the same means.

If you know my roommates and me pretty well, you know we love emoticons. Here's an article about some of the history of emoticons :)

The power of an idea. A young college student creates a website dedicated to showing off college campuses for potential students. I really like the way this article also explores some of the idea of how the internet is just broadening so many different horizons. I couldn't get the website to work properly for me, but I think that might have been tied to my resistance to creating an account.

Dr. Saturday speaks on Florida's matchup with Tennessee and how terrible of a father Kansas State running back Leon Patton is. And my late addition, new Head Coach Bill Stewart can't watch the team's 3 and 2 attempt in overtime. Can't close out when it's on the line. Story of West Virginia and the Big East.

Dr. Z's NFL mailbag.

New Orleans Saints sign Joey Harrington to be their 3rd string quarterback. Can't NFL teams just give up on this guy already? He's a joke and he's never going to be worth anybody's while.

The NFL's moving to using veteran QB's in place of their highly touted recent draft picks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

News Update 18 September 2008

So I haven't given one of my news updates in a while and I think there's been some rather good readings lately so here's my spiel:

Not so familiar with Drudge? Get your Drudge-ology 101. This is a fascinating article that talks about the power of Drudge and really a lot of his purpose. The big guy himself keeps a lil mum about why he does what he does, but there's people that have an idea. (Note: There's an interesting link in the article about John McCain inventing the Blackberry. And yes, he invented Blackberrys, just like Al Gore invented the internet. Check it out here.)

Obama, the celebrity, is raking in the cash from the celebrities.

Stocks are bouncing back.

China may buy parts of Morgan Stanley.

New software detects political spin in speeches.

Obama plays hardball with McCain and encourages people to argue with others and "get in their face."

Showing the love for Mike Allen's Playbook.

How John McCain Lost Me (Not literally ME, but an informative article if you're debating the issues.)

GOP bouncing back.

Joe Biden refers to paying higher taxes as being patriotic.

Palin's husband ignores subpoena to testify before panel concerning potential abuses of power by the governor.

Working out on the job! (You gotta see this, it's amazingly ridiculous!)

The former Professor John Payne is at it again. (I absolutely love his blog for so many reasons, so I'm ecstatic that he's picked it up again.) Here is a critical look at the presidential candidates, of course it mostly focuses on a Obama rather than McCain, but John's sister does acknowledge some good points about McCain.

I got this link also from Payne, it's about Tina Fey's performance as Sarah Palin on SNL. I didn't think it was the funniest ever, but I enjoy staying up on what's big.

Nike is so powerful, they can bend time and space.

U Dub players injure OU star in retaliation.

Thank goodness for moms. Tavaris Jackson's mom sure sticks up for him well.

And finally, I wanted to give my own quick rant on college football. Hooray for how great the Cougars are this season. I don't care how bad UCLA might be, 59-0 doesn't happen to PAC-10 teams. Also, thank goodness for Colorado beating West Virginia. The Big East and especially West Virginia are getting exposed for the fakes they are. Of course the Big East is going to look good, they play mostly nobody teams until late in the season usually and they all can't play defence so they run up the score on each other and look like decent teams. Defence is sorely underrated in rankings because it's harder to keep good stats on.

One last note, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if my news picks seem a little biased. I'm not a perfectly objective person, I was a lot more impartial on the race, but as I've made my decisions that bias I'm sure has become more noticeable. I want to give both sides of the issues equal press, so if you have anything you feel like I missed from the news, let me know and I'll throw it in!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Altruism and Economics

So I'm taking Econ 110. It's been a reasonably enjoyable class and I had a writing assignment for that class. I've been saying for forever I need to post to my blog and I rather liked the writing I did, so I thought I'd share it with my non-existent readers. Basically I explored the ideas of Altruism (or Christlike charity) and Economics. Here it is:

This is a concept I’ve often thought about myself and had a few discussions on. So Naked Economics suggests that every single decision we make is affected by our desire to maximize our utility. I think this is a very fair statement and the book exhausts that idea rather fully to show how it really is accurate. The book is reasonably tactful in its presentation of this idea by suggesting that not everything we do is necessarily selfish, it’s just about us trying to maximize that utility. So in the case of those that donate time, talents, and efforts to good causes we do so because we have some sort of utility we seek out of it. That can be a variety of things: happiness, seeing the difference it makes for others, or to receive blessings. This is a common teaching in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we receive blessings for the good things we do in life. I think to some degree we’re even taught that we should do things because of the blessings it will bring into our lives. However, there is the idea of being a Christlike individual, which is the ultimate goal we can hope for our character. Christ is described as being “the perfect example of charity.” (True to the Faith p. 28) So what is this element that is charity? The prophet Mormon describes, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (Moroni 7:45) Basically it is a vastly encompassing love for others. I think the core of what I am discussing is the actual idea of altruism though. The American Heritage Dictionary describes altruism as “Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.” Now I would take this definition of altruism a bit further to a state of pure altruism, meaning that there is absolutely no personal motivation in what we do for others. From the teachings I have heard of what Christ embodied, this sounds like an accurate description. So we are left with a bit of a dilemma. So many things that we do, even as righteous, worthy members of the Church are still motivated by our desire to secure blessings for ourselves. But we’re supposed to be like Christ, who had no personal motivations whatsoever in what He did. How do we reconcile this? I think Elder Oaks probably did the best job of this in his talk “Why Do We Serve?” Basically he suggests there are varying reasons to serve and most of them are at least to some degree self serving. There is only one pure, altruistic, charitable Christlike way to serve and have it be completely selfless and that’s not an easy task. Most of us, with most of what we do are not quite to that point. It’s still okay to not have reached that far, but really most of us have some sort of personal motivation for why we do what we do. And economics definitely addresses that and says that everybody does that. Of course I don’t think economics can quite reconcile the idea of Christ and His attributes. I mean it makes perfect sense, Christ is perfection and economics is a manmade device meant to help understand the world. I think it takes an approach rather relative to Realism and so how could it hope to capture and embody the idea of perfection. So I think economics is wrong in suggesting that nobody can do anything without some sort of personal desire to maximize utility, but looking at it from that realistic approach, I think there are few that will actually rise to that higher plateau of true Christlike charity to take action with complete selflessness.