Tag Archives: football

Pandemic blog 35: Updates

What’s going on with some of the topics previously covered?

Slimming: The initial weight loss reported slowed down, but hasn’t stopped, even though I started eating take-out from restaurants in July and have been doing so pretty regularly. Now at about 18 pounds below pre-pandemic weight. Why, I wonder? Is it really just the lunch out at work and the snack at the coffeeshop forgone?

Pandemic elections: 100,000 people in Dane County have already returned their absentee ballots for November. The city is setting up “Democracy in the Park” events where voters can turn in their ballots to city pollworkers; Republicans are trying to have those events declared illegal, because (this is me editorializing) they make it easy and convenient for people to vote whose votes they’d rather not see cast. There is a lot of noise about slowness of the mail, but it’s been fast here, and I mailed my ballot in; received by the clerk in just two days. The underlying worry here is that political actors will try to retroactively have legally cast ballots invalidated after Election Day, leaving voters with no recourse. The fact that mailed-in absentees are expected to be predominantly Democratic (only 44,000 ballots returned so far in Crucial Waukesha County) creates an obvious means of attack. I don’t really think that’ll happen but people are thinking about it under their mental breath.

Writing: The book is almost done! A draft is written, I’m going through and revising and putting in more endnotes now. To me it seems completely different from How Not To Be Wrong, while Dr. Mrs. Q says it seems exactly the same, which seems a kind of sweet spot: I can hope the people who liked the other book will like this one, while feeling for myself that I’m not putting out the same product again and again like a hack.

Impossible Meat: We’re still eating a lot of it! I have absolutely learned to read it as meat and no longer think of it as a substitute. But we’ve converged on using it exclusively in sauces; as a burger, it still doesn’t totally satisfy.

Smart Restart: After the big surge with the opening of classes, UW-Madison shut down in-person instruction for two weeks and put the two first-year dorms where cases were concentrated into isolation. The positivity rate on campus has dropped back down to around 1% and the campus outbreak doesn’t seem to have created sustained exponential growth in Madison’s general population; but it does seem to have brought our daily case load back up to where it was months ago, from which it is, again, only very slowly dropping. When R_0 is a little less than 1, even a brief bump up in prevalence can be very expensive in terms of long-term cumulative case numbers. Now we are starting football again. Is that smart? There won’t be any fans in Camp Randall (which means the economic catastrophe for local businesses of a year without a football season is going to happen unblunted.) Then again, there’s something hypocritical about me saying “Hell no, why take the risk” since I’ve been watching and enjoying baseball. The enjoyment of millions of fans actually does have value. MLB, because lots and lots of money is riding on this, has mostly kept its players and employees from suffering outbreaks. The Big Ten can probably do the same — if it cares to. What I worry about is this. By all accounts, in-person teaching hasn’t been spreading COVID either. But when we had in-person teaching, everyone felt things were more normal, and thinking things were more normal, they relaxed their social distancing, and that generated thousands of cases. There was indirect spread. Will football generate the same?

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October 2010 linkdump

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Wisconsin 49, Austin Peay 3 — at the half!

Just watched a bit of this with CJ and AB.  A question for people with a more in-depth knowledge of college football than I have.  How does this help the Badgers?  Are they really in any sense “tuning up” for Michigan State or OSU by playing a team who were unable to record a first down in the 11 minutes we watched, and against whom Wisconsin can score at will?

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Irrational hatred and the Super Bowl

I had never seen Peyton Manning play football until the last five minutes of tonight’s Super Bowl.  But I always rooted against him.  Just didn’t like the guy, while not knowing anything about him.  I have the same sour feeling about some other athletes — Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Jim McMahon, Nancy Kerrigan, Michael Phelps — but these are all people I’ve seen play.

I found the last five minutes of the Super Bowl extremely satisfying, justifiably or not.

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Harvard beats Yale 29-29, both beat Princeton

I’m sorry to say that I only made it to one movie at the Wisconsin Film Festival this year.  But I picked a good one.  I went to see Kevin Rafferty’s Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a documentary about the most thrilling Harvard-Yale game ever played between two of the best teams Harvard and Yale ever fielded, just because I sincerely like Ivy League football.  But in fact it’s an authentically good documentary whether or not you care about Harvard or college football — though it might be hard going if e.g. you don’t know what “pass interference” means.

I won’t say too much, to avoid spoiling it.  But it’s particularly remarkable how Rafferty manages to develop Yale defenseman Mike Bouscaren, over about five minutes of total screen time, from a comic caricature to a sincerely terrifying villain (drawing hisses and gasps from the packed house) to a thoughtful and even remorseful ex-combatant.  There’s a good interview with Rafferty at the New York Times college sports blog.

In less inspiring Ivy news, Princeton’s admission rate bumped up a half a percentage point and disgruntled seniors went nuts on the Princetonian comment page, decrying the current administration and everything associated with it.  One of the enjoyable things about teaching at Princeton was getting the Princeton Alumni Weekly — that’s right, their alumni magazine is a weekly! — and reading the three pages of cranky letters from alumni with something on their chest about how they do things nowadays. The Princetonian comments are a great opportunity to hear from the cranky alumni of tomorrow.

At the moment, the CAoT are upset about “grade deflation” and the “war on Fun.”  Both got started while I was teaching at Princeton.  The former policy was aimed at the fact that grades in science and engineering classes were about a half-point lower, on average, than those in humanities; so that students who were planning grade-sensitive careers in law or medicine had a weird incentive not to major in science.  The “war on Fun,” refers, I think, to the establishment and promotion of a four-year residential college as an alternative to the eating clubs — and more generally a sense that the administration is hostile to the clubs.  When I was teaching at Princeton, about a quarter of the students weren’t in clubs, and life seemed to be sort of logistically annoying for them.  It’s hard for me to get my head around the idea that club members object to a nice cafeteria for the students who didn’t bicker in.

Oh, and I think “the war on Fun” also includes some kind of rule about registering dorm parties in advance with your RA.  Harvard introduced this policy when I was an undergraduate, and people grumbled about it then, too.  And you know what?  People still had parties.  Message to all undergraduates everywhere — your university is not conspiring to keep you from drinking beer in groups. I promise!

Anyway, the comment thread got linked from lots of places and so there’s some question how many of the posts are from authentic Princeton undergrads.  This, for instance, can’t be real — can it?

I am a triple legacy and I feel I have a more outstanding right to be here than a lot of the so-called Academic 1’s. Princeton used to stand for something, not just be a humorless grade factory. What’s next, bed checks? The Street is a shadow of what it was in my parents’ day and the current workload is just ridiculous.

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Fair Harvard holds sway

Yale went into their 125th meeting with Harvard boasting the stingiest defense in the NCAA, allowing just 10.6 points per game. And the defense did their part, holding Harvard to 10 points — but Harvard was even better, shutting Yale’s offense down completely for a 10-0 victory and another Ivy title.

It was the 40th anniversary of Harvard’s most famous Game victory, the 1968 “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29” game, the subject of a well-reviewed documentary playing now in cities where old Crimson and Elis cluster.

In other Harvard fandom news, the pre-Game pep rally, featuring a concert by mashup-act Girl Talk, was shut down by Harvard police when the crowd pressed too closely into the vicinity of the performer. I’ve never felt more old and out of touch than I did at Girl Talk’s show at UW. I thought he was boring and drab, especially after the magnificence of Man Man, his opening act. But clearly there’s something about what he’s doing that causes people really to want to press their sweaty selves against his laptop, in numbers as large as possible.

If you, like me, aren’t in a city where “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29” is showing, you can watch the highlights of the game on YouTube:

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Friends on the web

Tom, in Slate, cheerleads for a crushing Patriot victory in tonight’s Superbowl. I agree with every word he writes, except

I hated the Dallas Cowboys, yet I’m still in awe of the 1993 Super Bowl— which I saw in the middle of the night in a London hotel room, near catatonic from jet lag, on a TV that made the Cowboys mint green and the Buffalo Bills pink. Every time I dozed off, I was jolted awake by the roar of the crowd, to see a monstrous green man rumbling upfield, ball in hand, pursued by hapless (or once, not entirely hapless) pink figures. The final score was 52-17.

I watched that game with Tom. It was indeed impressive. But every game won by the Dallas Cowboys is a bad football game — period.

One other complaint: this year’s Harvard-Yale game was inexplicably absent from his list of enjoyable gridiron drubbings.

Also in Slate, Amanda sums up what we used to think we knew about the health effects of the Pill, what we think we know now, and what we don’t know. (Last pile’s the biggest.)

And Emmanuel has a math blog!

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Adventures in male bonding

I was pretty excited for CJ and me to watch the Packers play in the NFC Championship tonight. All day I’ve been telling him that we were going to watch the football game, and prompting him to say “Go Packers!” But when the time came, he wanted to watch his kiddie yoga DVD. We agreed as a compromise to watch a little of each. At first, he watched the game with some interest, pointing out “It’s cold!” and “He fell down!” several times each. But at the first commercial he asked for the yoga DVD again.

“Want to watch a little more football first?” I said

“Can you not find the yoga?” CJ asked.

“No, I have it, should I put the yoga on now?”

“Yes, Daddy turn baseball off.”

Thus ends the experiment in enforcing traditional gender roles.

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