A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Monday, March 29, 2010

My belated St Patricks day story

My friend Louie called this evening and invited me to join him and his son Skip at the Elgin Public House. We haven't socialized much of late, and I was agreeable, and Janett gave her permission so I accepted the invitation. Janett "offered" to drop me off there so I wouldn't have to drive home, and gave me some cash and told me not to use my plastic money. She's been very careful in her oversight of me lately, especially about whether I've turned off the burner on the stove after preparing something, but I don't take offense.

Louie, as is the custom, was running a little late and so I was into my second Harps before he arrived, enjoying Monday night bar quiet, and a congenial lady bartender. Once they arrived Skip and I talked about the Oregon (his alma mater) Duck quarterback arrested for burglary who it appeared had been suspended for spring practice but would still be working out with the team, and possibly reinstated in the fall. Louie and I talked about business and how he was looking at a busy spring, thank goodness. Later we talked about his recent trip to Biloxi, Ms with Habitat for Humanity. and the gulf five years after.
Meanwhile, a working man sort of guy came in and sat down one seat away from me. He was the kind of fellow I always am interested in talking too and often enjoy. His soft southern accent and age identified him to me as one the Kentucky coal miners who'd migrated north in the sixties, and I asked him about possible mutual acquaintances, and sure enough he was acquainted with a few gents I'd known. But he was pretty drunk. so we didn't spend a lot of time talking, although when the conversation turned to Rye whiskey, an occasional interest of Louie's, I was thinking of standing a round for the four of us, but fortunately asked the waitress what a shot of rye went for. "Do you really want to know," she asked, "or should I just ring it up?" Turns out it was $8.65 each, so forbidden to use my plastic I had to demure, unembarrassed, since that was a stiff price in this neck of the woods.
Another fellow had occupied the seat between me and Tommy by then, a high school teacher named Tim who was wearing a nice peaked cap and a green tee shirt emblazoned with a Paddy day wish for the world. Tommy and I went out for a couple smoke breaks and compared our histories at local bars. but he was more seriously drunk each time.

So the third time we went out, after Skip had ordered a sandwich to go and we'd soon be leaving Tommy announced he'd better start walking towards home. I asked where he lived and he said by St Joe's. The church or the hospital? The hospital. Well, that's close to five miles. Maybe you should think of calling a cab. I would he said, but I'm $3 dollars short for the fare. I checked my ready cash and found a couple singles and a couple fives, so I had to give him a five. Then Tim walks out the door and asks are you ready? Tom stepping backward and falling to be seated in a big flower pot, says he is, and it becomes apparent Tim has committed to giving Tommy a lift home. So you won't be needing cab fare, I ask. "No" says Tommy, "but I have to stop and get a six pack on the way."

I went back into the bar and confessed how I'd been shorn, and Louie and Skip and the congenial bar tender and I all laughed. But I momentarily wondered if I should have given the drunk in the flower pot a bloody lip. Better not, I decided, and to chalk it up as a lesson in life and cheap at the price.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kelly's offense

First day of Spring Practice.

Heres the first couple of paragraphs of a pretty good write up of Coach Kelly's offensive perspective. See the whole article here

Spread and Pass, Brian Kelly's (Somewhat) New Irish Offense
by Anthony Pilcher Analyst Written on March 09, 2010
Frank Polich/Getty Images While the defense may be a bigger problem, one of the primary concerns for many Irish fans is the spread passing offense of new head coach Brian Kelly. Kelly makes no secret of his offensive goal, he wants to be aggressive and vertical, scoring on every possession. As such, he favors the pass over the run, operates heavily from the shotgun, and employs an up-tempo pace.

Some question the lack of a consistent, power running element while others worry about ball control. There are also concerns about the how a spread passing scheme will fare against good defensive competition and Kelly’s ability to fill the roster with elite talent at the skill positions.

Former head coach Charlie Weis’ recruiting record should be enough evidence to negate the last of these concerns, but the others may be valid. There are certainly negatives that come with Kelly’s offense, but many successful teams like Utah, Boise State, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida run versions of the spread, and excel doing it.

So what is a spread offense and how does Kelly’s particular brand work? Furthermore, what is the fundamental problem with his approach and is it compatible at Notre Dame?

What Is Kelly’s Spread Offense and How Does It Work?

At a fundamental level, the intent of a spread offense is to stretch the field horizontally with multiple wide receivers. This effectively accomplishes two goals. First, it makes crisp tackling in open space a commodity. And second, it forces defensive coordinators to use smaller, quicker personnel, and to empty the box in order to matchup on the outside. The result is an advantage for the offense on the interior. Defenses can’t overload the box and the offense has one-on-one blocking opportunities in the running game and in pass protection.

The guys over at NDNation asked Chris Brown of Smart Football to summarize Kelly’s flavor of the spread. True to form, Chris penned a solid synopsis. He makes some excellent points and the entire read is worth the time, but a few highlights are noted here with some additions of my own below.

Kelly’s offense is a “traditional” spread that, for the most part, maintains balance and doesn’t tilt too much towards the run (e.g. Michigan) or pass (e.g. Texas Tech).
The run game is simple, particularly without a running quarterback. There is a lot of zone blocking and Kelly’s approach is based on space and angles rather than power, but he does make frequent use of a lead blocker. Mostly, he utilizes inside and outside zone running plays, counters, and some power runs.
The concepts in the passing game are almost equally simple. Kelly prefers a vertical stem route tree aimed at getting upfield while giving the same initial post-snap motion. This accomplishes his goal of being aggressive, but also detracts from the ability of opposing defenses to read routes as they all appear similar through the first several steps.
Kelly also likes to use overloaded formations to isolate receivers on the backside. This generates favorable one-on-one matchups for players like wide receiver Michael Floyd or tight end Kyle Rudolph, or overloads the strongside of the field if the defense rolls the coverage to double the weakside receiver.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh, Boy. If it's not one thing its another.

Last year when I heard of diminished sun spot activity as a possible forecaster of cooling weather, I thought maybe that it was an unsubstantiated theory, possibly being promoted by the carbon fuel industries to dilute anxirty over global warming. But as time goes by, similar reports keep showing up in scientific journals. Maybe there's something to it. Here's a recent example, followed by another article addressing other causes of cyclical glaciation which the quoted scientists are presenting as possibly on our horizon. (From a personal perspective, I dont think it's fair that, as they postulate, we only get ten or twelve thosand years of warming, then a hundred thousand years of cooling. - But I'm glad Kim and Ross have established a familial outpost in the sunny southwest in case others in the family are driven to migrate in ten or twenty years as the Midwest becomes tundra.)

It’s the Sun, stupid!
By Willie Soon, solar and climate scientist

5 Mar 09 – (Excerpts) "The amount and distribution of solar energy that we receive varies as the Earth revolves around the Sun and also in response to changes in the Sun’s activity. Scientists have now been studying solar influences on climate for 5000 years.

"Chinese imperial astronomers kept detailed sunspot records. They noticed that more sunspots meant warmer weather on Earth. In 1801, the celebrated astronomer William Herschel noticed that when there were few spots, the price of wheat soared – because, he surmised, less “light and heat” from the Sun resulted in reduced harvests.

The price of wheat soared! As I've been sayingall along, I fear that
we'll be fighting in the streets for food long before we're covered by ice.

"Between 1645 and 1715, sunspots were very rare and temperatures were low. Then sunspot frequency grew until, between 1930 and 2000, the Sun was more active than at almost any time in the last 10,000 years. The oceans can cause up to several decades of delay before air temperatures respond fully to this solar “Grand Maximum.” Now that the Sun is becoming less active again, global temperatures have fallen for seven years.

More active than at almost any time in the last 10,000 years!

"We have known for nearly 80 years that small changes in solar activity can cause large climatic changes. Where sunlight falls, for how long, and with what effect, determine how climate will respond.

"The most recent scientific evidence shows that even small changes in solar radiation have a strong effect on Earth’s temperature and climate.

The second article:

See entire article by Gregory F. Fegel

(Most data) shows a strong correlation with the three astronomical cycles known as the Milankovich cycles. … (including) the tilt of the earth, which varies over a 41,000 year period; the shape of the earth’s orbit, which changes over a period of 100,000 years; and the Precession of the Equinoxes, also known as the earth’s ‘wobble’, which gradually rotates the direction of the earth’s axis over a period of 26,000 years. According to the Milankovich theory of Ice Age causation, these three astronomical cycles, each of which effects the amount of solar radiation which reaches the earth, act together to produce the cycle of cold Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials.

In 1976 the prestigious journal “Science” published a landmark paper by John Imbrie, James Hays, and Nicholas Shackleton entitled “Variations in the Earth's orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages,” which described the correlation … between the climate data obtained from ocean sediment cores and the patterns of the astronomical Milankovich cycles.

Imbrie, Hays, and Shackleton wrote that "…the results indicate that the long-term trend over the next 20,000 years is towards extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation and cooler climate."

In 1999 the British journal “Nature” published the results of data derived from glacial ice cores collected at the Russia’s Vostok station in Antarctica during the 1990s. The Vostok ice core data includes a record of global atmospheric temperatures, atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and airborne particulates starting from 420,000 years ago and continuing through history up to our present time.

The graph of the Vostok ice core data shows that the Ice Age maximums and the warm interglacials occur within a regular cyclic pattern, the graph-line of which is similar to the rhythm of a heartbeat on an electrocardiogram tracing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Three little words

I went to a link for a ND recruiting story in the South Bend Tribune, and on the right hand side of the page were listed headlines linked to other stories. One caption read "Girl's body found." It chilled me to read those words, even without knowing any of the facts of the story. Whatever singular tragedy was represented by those words, how many times must we see them repeated?

I googled the phrase, and here's the result: 3,730,000 for "girl's body found"

For the sake of comparison I tried a couple other phrases: 1,650,000 for "hope for the future".

557,000 for "Jesus loves you".

and 207,000 for "parents protect children"

Let's say a prayer for the children and their families, and a prayer of thankfulness that our own daughters have been safe and well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


While reading about the British naval hero of the Napoleonic era, Thomas Cochrane, an interesting adventurous character, I found references to Francis Burdett. Cochrane has been immortalized, being recognised as a model for O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and Forrester's Horatio Hornblower, but Burdett was not someone I knew about, so I thought I'd share this account of his life.

Aside from the other admirable things he did, I liked that he stopped eating when his wife died and passed away ten days later.

Francis Burdett
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sir Francis Burdett

by Thomas Phillips

Born 1770
Died 1844

Residence Foremarke Hall
Nationality English
Occupation Politician
Political party Radical, Tory
Spouse(s) Sophia Coutts
Parents Francis Burdett and his wife Eleanor

Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet (25 January 1770 – 23 January 1844) was an English reformist politician, the son of Francis Burdett and his wife Eleanor, daughter of William Jones of Ramsbury manor, Wiltshire, and grandson of Sir Robert Burdett, Bart. From 1820 until his death he lived at 25 St James's Place.

Contents [hide]
1 Burdett Family History
2 Education and Early Life
3 Political career
4 Notes
5 References
6 See also
7 External links

[edit] Burdett Family History
Sir Francis Burdett (5th Bart.) was a member of the Burdett family of Bramcote and inherited the family baronetcy from his grandfather Sir Robert Burdett in 1797.

[edit] Education and Early Life
He was educated at Westminster School and the University of Oxford. When young, he was for a long time the notorious lover of Lady Oxford (according to the journal of Thomas Raikes), and afterwards travelled in France and Switzerland. He was in Paris during the earlier days of the French Revolution.

A young Sir Francis Burdett.Returning to England in 1793, he married Sophia Coutts, the second daughter of the wealthy banker Thomas Coutts.[1] She brought him the large fortune of £25,000. They had a daughter – Angela Burdett-Coutts – who inherited the Burdett family's baronetcy from his father and became the first Baroness of the Foremark Burdett family.

In 1796 he became Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge, having purchased this seat from the representatives of the Duke of Newcastle, and in 1797 succeeded his grandfather as 5th Baronet.

[edit] Political career
Baronet and Member of Parliament

His inheritance included the family seat of Foremarke Hall and 'the hamlets of Ingleby and Foremark (sometimes referred to as a manor) which were under his Lordship'[2].

In Parliament he soon became prominent as an opponent of William Pitt the Younger, and as an advocate of popular rights. He denounced the war with France, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the proposed exclusion of John Horne Tooke from parliament, and quickly became the idol of the people. He was instrumental in securing an inquiry into the condition of Coldbath Fields Prison, but as a result of this step he was for a time prevented by the government from visiting any prison in the kingdom. In 1797 he made the acquaintance of Horne Tooke, whose pupil he became, not only in politics, but also in philology.

His last election?

At the general election of 1802 Burdett was a candidate for the county of Middlesex, but his return was declared void in 1804, and in the subsequent contest he was defeated. In 1805 this return was amended in his favor, but as this was again quickly reversed, Burdett, who had spent an immense sum of money over the affair, declared he would not stand for parliament again.

At the general election of 1806 Burdett was a leading supporter of James Paull, the reform candidate for the City of Westminster; but in the following year a misunderstanding led to a duel between Burdett and Paull in which both combatants were wounded. At the general election in 1807, Burdett, in spite of his reluctance, was nominated for Westminster, and amidst great enthusiasm was returned at the top of the poll.

He took up again the congenial work of attacking abuses and agitating for reform, and in 1810 came sharply into collision with the House of Commons. A radical named John Gale Jones had been committed to prison by the House, a proceeding that was denounced by Burdett, who questioned the power of the House to take this step, and vainly attempted to secure the release of Jones. He then issued a revised edition of his speech on this occasion which was published by William Cobbett in the Weekly Register.

A warrant for his arrest

The House voted this action a breach of privilege, and the speaker issued a warrant for Burdett's arrest. The charge was libelling the House of Commons. Barring himself in his house for two days, he defied the authorities, while a mob gathered in his defence. Burdett's colleague Thomas Cochrane offered assistance, but, realizing that Cochrane intended to use military tactics during this civil and political affair, Burdett declined. At length the house was entered, and under an escort of soldiers he was conveyed to the Tower of London. Released when parliament was in recess, he caused his supporters much disappointment by returning to Westminster by water, and so avoiding a demonstration in his honor. He then brought legal actions against the speaker and the sergeant-at-arms, but the courts upheld the action of the House.

Reform in parliament Burdett denounced corporal punishment in the army, and supported all attempts to check corruption, but his principal efforts were directed towards procuring a reform of parliament, and the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities. In 1809 he had proposed a scheme of parliamentary reform, and returning to the subject in 1817 and 1818 he anticipated the Chartist movement by suggesting universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, and annual parliaments; but his motions met with very little support. He succeeded, however, in carrying a resolution in 1825 that the House should consider the laws concerning Roman Catholics. This was followed by a bill embodying his proposals, which passed the Commons but was rejected by the House of Lords. In 1827 and 1828 he again proposed resolutions on this subject, and saw his proposals become law in 1829. In 1820 Burdett had again come into serious conflict with the government. Having severely censured its action with reference to the Peterloo Massacre, he was prosecuted at Leicester assizes, fined 1000 pounds, and committed to prison for three months. After the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 the ardour of the veteran reformer was somewhat abated, and a number of his constituents soon took umbrage at his changed attitude.

His legacy and death

Consequently he resigned his seat early in 1837, but was re-elected. However, at the general election in the same year he forsook Westminster and was elected member for North Wiltshire, which seat he retained, acting in general with the Conservatives, until his death. He was nick-named by fellow conservatives as "Old Glory". His wife, Lady Burdett to whom he was devoted died on 13 January 1844. Sir Francis, then 74, became inconsoleable and felt he had nothing left to live for. He refused all food and died just ten days later on the 23 January 1844. He and his wife were buried at the same time in the same vault at Ramsbury Church, Wiltshire. He left a son, Robert, who succeeded to the baronetcy, and who inherited his very large fortune, and five daughters, the youngest of whom became the celebrated Baroness Burdett-Coutts after inheriting the Coutts fortune from her grandfather's widow Harriet (Duchess of St Albans) and appending the Coutts surname under the terms of Harriet's will. He was a member of the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland.

PS Cochrane's life was also interesting if you want to look him up.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

When at a loss for words, talk ND football.

Irish fans usually get all hot under the collar when the idea of giving up their independent status and joining a conference comes up. Lately it's coming up more often. Reasons include difficulty in scheduling quality opponents during October and November when conference play dominates schedules, the potential for better money than even its exclusive deal with NBC pays, and being less vulnerable to getting shut out of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). Here's the latest conjecture. Note, adding Texas to the Big 10 has been mentioned occasionally lately.

From Rock's House

"Here's a scenario
by I Got A Rock (2010-03-09 16:14:04)

The Big Ten calls ND and says they have Texas and Pittsburgh ready to join, but want to keep an even number. They propose the following:

ND joins with the other two.

South -- Texas-ND-Pitt-Penn State-Indiana-Purdue-Illinois
North -- Michigan-Ohio State-Michigan State-Minnesota-Iowa-Northwestern-Wisconsin

Six division games, two crossovers with one protected. Guaranteed games every year with Texas, Penn State, and one out of Michigan and Ohio State. Four non-conference games, two if you count USC and Navy as protected.

If you look at the tiers, you've got four in the top tier every year with Penn State, Texas, USC, and Michigan or Ohio State. Some years Wisconsin would be the second crossover, so that would make five.

That's a pretty compelling schedule every year."

A conference championship, usually between Michigan or Ohio and ND or Texas would be a pretty fun annual event, make a lot of money, and probably reinvigorate the Big 10 If Texas won't move to the Big 10 consider Missouri as a substitute: not quite as enticing.

The Irish fans who most strenuously object do so because of the Big 10's rejection of Rockne's efforts to join the conference in the 1920's. Big 10 coaches didn't want to play Notre Dame and appealed overtly to anti-Catholic prejudices to justify their rejection of Notre Dame. Alternatively to joining the conference, Rockne developed a national following by traveling across the country to play the best teams available.