Tuesday, May 22, 2007


He looks like a 40-year-old...he's dominated the college game WITH HIS OFF HAND...and he's younger than me...

(image from trailblazers.com/nba.com)



NOTHING can take this away from me right now. NOTHING.

Monday, May 14, 2007

can't we all get along?

Two logos, same school, very different meanings

There is a metaphorical and literal divide here at the University of Oregon between the academic and athletic sides. Divided by close to a mile's walk and a river, the main campus and the athletic department housed near Autzen Stadium epitomize an argument being made all across the United States in large colleges and universities: Are athletics more important than academics to a university? Should they take a precedent?

Yes and no. Yes, as athletic department budgets have skyrocketed (Oregon's budget has increased from $15 million in 1994 to more than $41 million this year), obviously the importance of top athletic departments (and, let's face it, that means the profit sports - football and men's basketball) are very important as marketing tools and ways to keep alumni involved. No, athletics are not more important than the studying being done on campus, but it is in my honest opinion as a college student that professors have FAR more important things to worry about distracting students than a football game during dead week.

It is indeed over games during "Dead Week" (specifically the weekend right before finals hosting the annual Civil War game against Oregon State, moved there due to a game being moved to Thursday night for television schedules) that the argument has returned to the spotlight on campus. And my view echoes that of many other students: this isn't the end of the world, as many professors have thought, and won't mean the end of academic credibility; let's face it, college students will find ways to distract themselves from studying for finals. Hell, it was my opinion freshman year that if I didn't have a Monday final or paper due, that was just one more day for partying - bonus!

And let's throw any argument of "retaining academic purity" (or anything along those lines) for
the student-athletes right out of the window; not only do they have much more academic help than the average student, for many of them they are athletes first and students second. This isn't to say that all of the players on the profit sports aren't here to get an education, just that the reality of college sports has shifted some priorities; not bad, not good, just different.

However, it is a worrying sign, especially here in Eugene. While there are signs that show that alumni who donate to athletics also donate to academics, the fact that it seems influence is being wielded by a select few is worrying. It's always worrying in any other facet of life, but in such a vulnerable time and place things could turn ugly soon.

I understand that it doesn't make professors look quite as good to their colleagues when the priorities seem to shift like this; however, the focus needs to be more on students - the ones who come here to get an education, and a very good education it is still - and the reality is that major athletic programs only add to college experience and can never take away. If a student can't get their act together around the Civil War game for finals week, they wouldn't be able to get their act together when left to their own devices to find a means of procrastination; the problem isn't the game, it's on the individual's priorities.

the frailty of youth

I just killed something in the prime of its youth earlier this afternoon: my sweet, sweet facial hair.

it's something I take for granted, my ability to grow facial hair. Give me a week and I've got a beard pretty well settled in; in five minutes or less, though, it can all be gone. I'm not going to lie, I've grown use to the ability to go through spurts of liking having facial hair and disliking it, letting it grow and shaving it on equally random whims.

the sad thing is, as if to counteract the awesomeness of this power, I am sadly going very bald at the ripe old age of 21. Remember Zinedine Zidane, the French soccer player who headbutted the Italian guy at the World Cup last summer? He famously has the same sort of hairstyle (big bald patch in the back, widow's peak up front) that I do. the only way it looks good is cut short, because otherwise it's a big shining "look at me, I'm bald!" beacon, glowing in self-consciousness.

right now, it's gone because I've gone very close for my hair on top of my head, and I disliked the "big goatee with almost bald = biker" look. so it's clean-shaven and almost bald for now. I'm sure my fun with facial hair will rarely end - I do quite like having a goatee, but not when it's this warm and my hair is this short. but knowing I have the power to construct awesome facial hair the likes of which many men could only dream to have is definitely a feather in my cap.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Ayrton Senna da Silva, the great F1 driver who's death 13 years ago is still a major event in Formula 1 and European sports history. Photo from ayrton-senna.com

I remember it like it was yesterday. May 1, 1994, a sunny Sunday morning on the west coast of the United States, and my eight-year-old self preparing to watch the Formula 1 grand prix to be shown. I remember Ayrton Senna's on-board camera, a few laps in, showing the last fateful images from his car on the track. Such an innocuous-looking accident, though the speeds at which he lost control in the corner do lend themselves to the end result: the death of one of auto racing's greatest talents, greatest champions, and greatest sportsmen.

the other image after the race that sticks in my mind is the ABC World News that night showing the scene back in Senna's homeland of Brazil, where auto racing is second only to soccer and Senna is still regarded as one of their greatest sporting heroes.

The last image from Ayrton Senna's car before his accident and death. Photo from ayrton-senna.com

His car, after impact. It is believed Senna died at impact.

I only fully realized what his life and death meant as I grew into my teens and became a more knowledgeable fan of Formula 1 racing. This came around when his death hit it's 10th-year anniversary in 2004 and Speed Channel showed a special episode of their historic highlights series on the race weekend. This was a black weekend for racing: Not only did Senna pass away in the race, but fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was lucky to only suffer a concussion in an accident in practice Friday, Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger was killed in qualifying, and a couple more horrible accidents in the race (including one at the start) made this an ultimate low point for Formula 1 and the world of racing.

To draw an American analogy, it's as if Michael Jordan had passed away from a heart attack on the court at Madison Square Garden during a game. That's how important and influential he was to the world of auto racing, and how important his death was to a large part of the world.

here's a tribute video (complete with slightly cheesy/slightly corny rendition of System of a Down's "Lonely Day" as the background music) to that weekend, showing the horrific accidents that mark the weekend. I still wonder how different the racing world would be if he hadn't passed away.

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