Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Bowl musings

If you needed a reason to root for one team or the other tomorrow, maybe you'd like to compare Peyton Manning's campaign contributions with Brian Urlacher's. Just a thought...

Enjoy the game!


USWest said...

I watched portions of the Superbowl. I was busy cooking dinner for the week ahead, but just the same, I had it running.

My Comments:

1) The half time shows are such a waste. I am not terribly hip, but the artists formerly known as Prince (or is he back to being just Prince?) must have hit the solid rock bottom his career to end up doing 10 minutes of half time crap.

2) The commericals all sucked. The worst was the one for Emerald nuts. Robert Goulet??? I don't think a beach full of crabs bowing to a Bud bottle is all that great. The Blockbuster mouse was sort of cute and got a chuckle out of it. Maybe it is a sign that capitalism has hit a plateau? I noted as well the number of commercials with cool old people doing cool things (Coke, Flomax, etc.) Sign of the end of Boomer times.

3) Football offers a window into American culture and how it is changing. It noticed that it wasn’t a testosterone-driven as it has been the past. Football is about war, strategizing to gain territory, playing hard and physical, yet safely with all the protective gear . . . arguing over rulings and resorting to slow mo . . . very American. At the same time, the whole presentation seemed more subdued this year than in the past. The graphics weren’t as loud and bold, the commentators seems more subdued. This is part because it was aired on NBC rather than FOX. I think it may have to do as well with the growing number of women who are now watching as well.

4) The game was good, although the end was sort of an anti-climax. The weather was a story on its own. The teams were pretty evenly matched and they played a clean game, not a whole lot of penalties, no fights, etc.

USWest said...

I must correct something. The game was aired on CBS, not NBC. oops.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Not sure the halftime shows are a waste in two senses. 1: they make it easy to refill food and nachos. 2. They do massively boost careers for musicians sometimes (see Justin Timberlake - who was, happily for the rest of us, on his way back to nobodyhood when the wardrobe malfunciton occured.

The worst commercial was the one with the robot who was so sad at being fired from a GM plant he went to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Then he wakes up from a dream and the punchline is about how even robots are obsessed with GM quality. Jesus. How many real people have been fired by GM this past year? It boggles the mind that anyone thought to remind the public or make fun of that.

Oh, and the lack of testosterone can be attributed to two coaches that don't shout and two QBs, Manning and Grossman, who don't have any. Manning looked like he was about to cry after his first turnover.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I liked Prince's show... a valiant effort in the (purple) rain. The commercials sucked, I agree... I actually thought the robot GM commercial was really endearing until "he" jumped off a bridge in his dreams. What's the message? "GM: Even our Robots are Driven to Suicide Here." And as LTG pointed out, it was unwise to draw attention to all those who had been fired.

For the record, I think it aired on CBS, not NBC. And yes, I think that helped... it was a more subdued "performance" from the commentators, the graphics, and the music... which was a big plus.

The only thing that stuck in my craw was when, after receiving the trophy, the Colts' coach James Dungy said that he was proud to be the first African-American to coach the winning team at the Superbowl, and also that he and his opposing coach (also African-American) were also the first two Christian coaches at the Superbowl.

I couldn't believe my ears... What arrogance and nastiness! Every coach of the Superbowl has been Christian. These are just the first two born-again Christian coaches who felt the need to trumpet it to the world, rather than the decent, humble folk who came before them. A friend hearing that remarked, "Great. 1 step forward, 2 steps back."

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dungy really said that? The nerve of him.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I found the clip at CBS and replayed it. I don't think he was saying he was the first Christian coach. He was saying that more than just being the first African-American coaches, he and Lovie Smith were prouder of being Christian coaches. The word "first" was not appended to Christian, and, on listening to it, I don't think that's what he meant. It was supposed to be "humble" - prouder of being a Christian than the first anything. Still obnoxious, but not in the same way as Dr. S wrote it.

uswest said...

Maybe he was trying to downplay the race issue.

Anonymous said...

I saw it when he first said it live. I was with a group of people and as soon as he said it we all reacted the way Dr. S. did.

I think this is part of the ongoing effort to of a theo-nationalist PC movement to coopt all public gatherings. From the airforce fly-over to the Marines in period costume reenacting the Iowa Jima flag planting on the 50 yard line, to the coaches (and the Colts owner) using their time at the mic to promote their evengelical agenda, the message is clear. This event is for evangelicals and nationalists.

At the other end of the spectrum of annoying Super Bowl stuff...Adding the Cirque du Solei show to the pre-game was an obvious and rather awkward attempt to appeal to female demographics. I can't think of anything that seems less well suited to a football game than psychodelic clowns fighting each other with giant inflatable lavender and pink footballs.

I have two appeals - What's wrong with marching bands? and When will we see someone say, "The game was going great until Jesus made me fumble!"


The Law Talking Guy said...

Ever since 1991, during the Gulf War, when a toe-headed child sang "Wind beneath my wings (you are my hero)" in front of a fighter jet, I have been appalled by the way the superbowl is used as a forum for right-wing propaganda. One year that truly awful "proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free" song was the subject. But, at the same time, was barred from buying a superbowl ad in 2004.

This brings me to another rant about evangelical fundamentalism. I believe that Evangelical Christianity is a doomed religion, however popular it is today, because it makes the claim that God rewards the good and punishes the wicked, in this world, and in this lifetime. The world does not, and will never reflect that false and essentially superstitious view of the world. It is simply not true, and the high turnover of evangelicals reflects that. It is a fair-weather religion. They do believe, RBR, that Jesus made them fumble, because they were insufficiently ardent in their beliefs or something.

In Ecclesiastes, we read, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." This isn't rocket science, people.

Jesus also said "It raineth on the just and the unjust." Indeed it does (for desert people, rain is a good thing). That is what the world teaches us. The theological question so many grapple with is "why do bad things happen to good people?" Why is there evil? Pretending the world is "fair" is never going to go anywhere in the long run. If Dungy thinks winning the superbowl is his reward for a good life, that is foolish. But then again, I am reminded of Jesus' comment about those who give alms ostentatiously in public so that they should be admired for doing so, "truly, they have their reward." Yes, they will be honored and feel good about it... for a while. But that is not a reward in heaven they should have been after.

Most religions have an uneducated superstitious side, like evangelical christianity, that thinks of God as some sort of magical favor-giver who can be manipulated with praise to bestow favors. Most religions also have the thoughtful side who try to deal with the fact that, if God only rewards the good and just, then very little about our world makes sense. The buddhist view that this world is suffering is a reflection of the fact that no amount of righteousness or goodness will spare one from suffering. And watching bad people prosper is part of that suffering.

The Colts didn't win the superbowl because they were better Christians or because God loved them more. They won because they had a better defense. Duh.

So, Dungy got to boast that he is a very good Christian on television. And he earned much applause from some quarters. Truly, he has his reward.

Unfortunately, he also hurts people who have suffered things, like being laid off or a losing a child, by making them feel like they are to blame for their misfortune.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Question from CBS reporter:
"This is one of those moments, Tony, where there is also social significance in this victory... Would you comment on that?"

Dungy's reply:
"I tell you what, I'm proud to be representing African American coaches... But again, Lovie Smith and I... not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches... showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that."

I replayed the video, and to me it is clear that "first two" modifies both "African-Americans" and "Christian", just as those two adjectives also both modified "coaches." The clincher is Dungy's immediate follow-on comment, in which he strongly implies that previous winning coaches had not been, "doing it the Lord's way." What he meant, of course, is that they were the first two born-again or evangelical Christian coaches to play in the Superbowl... but that is not what he said.

Dungy was probably also downplaying the race issue somewhat, as USWest suggested. No, he didn't say that either, but when he began his answer with the phrase "I tell you what..." and then followed by "but again..." it is clear he wanted to skip past the African-American thing as quickly as possible and then change the topic to his religion. Dungy wanted his moment in the sun to be a boost to those who shared his religious fervor, not his skin color.

Anyhow, my point is: I am tired of hearing evangelicals refer to themselves as the only Christians, or the true Christians. It's kinda like Republicans saying "the Democrat Party." And perhaps, as a NY Times columnist noted, like Joe Biden calling Obama "articulate."

Oh, and sorry USWest... I somehow missed your correction about CBS/NBC.

USWest said...

Tell me this: I didn’t hear the comment made by Dungy because I had turned it off by then. So I wonder how much of this was cultural. I hear a lot of athletes talk about God. I especially hear it among African American athletes. God and mother. So how much of this was intentionally courting Evangelicals and how much of it was socio-cultural?

It is interesting where the conversation has led us . . . right back to religion and faith. LTG very eloquently addresses the subject here. I do not have the knowledge of religion of the Bible that he has. However, I have concluded purpose of prayer is merely psychological satisfaction, whether people examine it as I have or not. I used to pray. Sometimes I still do. But I am aware that I am simply airing my feelings to something potentially imaginary to psychologically distance myself from my troubles. It may be a sugar pill, but it works. Perhaps there is a God or god listening. Perhaps not. Maybe one of my dead relatives, if he exists in an afterlife or in some 15th dimension that physics hasn’t yet figured out, is listening. It doesn’t seem to matter. It is just a coping mechanism. Sometimes I pray the rosary when I can’t sleep. It’s like counting sheep- simply a mechanism.

Prayer is treated by many like a spell. If I throw in a few more “amens” in with my eye of newt and stir, the kettle will be ready. People treat prayer as such. You want to talk superstition? I have no real first hand experience with Evangelicals or conservative Christianity. So I have to pick on what I know. Allow me an anecdote.

Years ago, when I was an active Catholic, I served as a commentator and reader during the Mass. I was one of the best and most reliable they had. One of my duties was to lead the prayers of petition. These were a series of “help us with this or that” followed by the congregational affirmation “Lord hear our prayer.” One habit that this Parish developed was to post in the weekly bulletin, the names of those who were sick or recently deceased. At the end of the prayers of petition, I was supposed to read these names and ask for divine assistance for them and their families. And everyone would respond. “Lord hear our prayer.” Well, that was fine when the number of names were few. But when they started to get into the double digits, I decided that I would simply do a general prayer for all who are sick and who have recently died. The pastor objected. He wanted me to read all the names. I explained to him that there were too many, most of them were unpronounceable, and that there were many people in the world beyond these few who were in need of divine assistance. It was explained to me that when people don’t hear the names announced, they call the parish to ask why and they get rather upset. I responded that he should tell them that having a 100 people respond “Lord hear our prayer” does not make the prayer more powerful than if only one responds. In fact, we are taught, I told him, that God is aware of the plight of all his children and he loves us all equally. I pointed out that either these people were turning prayer into superstition or that they were merely after publicity for their suffering. Either way it was wrong. I pointed out that as a priest he had an obligation to straighten out these misguided people.

I stopped getting scheduled to commentate at mass and this was the beginning of the end of my Catholicism.

USWest said...

As aside, I remember from the clip RBR posted that the Christian woman tried to convince us that Christians had an obligation to publically delcare their faith. Some people must buy into that idea a bit too much.

Anyone who thinks God cares who wins the superbowl is trivializing the diety.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr. S - I watched it again and have the same conclusion. If Dungy had meant to say "the first two Christian coaches" he would have said that in those words. He was trying to say he was prouder of being Christian than being the first African-American. I just think you got it wrong. But that's a danger always when you speak quickly without thinking about what happens to modifiers.

Joe Biden, as you know, got in trouble for the same problem.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

It's clear that he meant to say: (1) he is the first maintream African-American candidate; and (2) he is also artciulate, bright, clean and a nice-looking guy. Instead, it sounded as if Biden was saying that Obama was the first articulate black man to run for office. If you go to Youtube and hear him, there's a big pause between the first two statements, and he was just trying to explain with great praise why Obama was such a successful and great candidate.