2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 1

We’re baaaaaaccccckkkk. I sincerely hope The Manoverse considers that a good thing, although I know there are those that don’t particularly enjoy sports related topics. Be patient. Y’all know that The Manofesto is a cornucopia where we discuss all kinds of stuff, and I will do my best to not focus solely on football for the next five months. This will be my 6th season making these picks, while my nephew Zach joins me for the fifth time. I finished 2016 with a record of 54-49 (a 52% winning percentage), while Zach struggled a bit and finished at 38-65 (37%). As always Week 1 is all about college football since the NFL hasn’t began its season just yet. Fortunately, because of the College Football Playoff, teams are bulking up their schedules with better early season non-conference games, and we fans are the beneficiaries. There are a couple of monster matchups on the opening weekend, so it wasn’t difficult to choose which games to pick. Let me remind you that Zach & I do not have any money riding on these games and I do not encourage gambling, but if that is an activity that frosts your cupcake and you have the disposable income while still paying your bills & feeding your family then go right ahead and do what you enjoy. Just don’t put too much stock in what you read here…we’re not very good at this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BYU           vs.    LSU (-12.5)

Hurricane Harvey has forced this “neutral site” game, originally to be played in Houston, TX, to the New Orleans Superdome, meaning that it’s not so neutral anymore. I don’t think it makes much of a difference though. The Cougars are coming off of a solid 8-4 season and have already played a game last weekend, beating 1-AA Portland St. in unimpressive fashion. Equaling 2016’s record might be the best BYU can aspire to. The Bayou Bengals also finished last year at 8-4 in a season in which they fired their longtime head coach. RB Leonard Fournette has moved on to the NFL, which isn’t necessarily disastrous for LSU because honestly, he rarely lived up to the hype in my opinion. They probably aren’t winning their conference or even their division, but the boys from Baton Rouge shouldn’t have any problems winning this game. Zach thinks it’ll be a blowout.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

 

California           at      North Carolina (-12.5)

I’d have to do research to know for sure (and that ain’t happening), but it seems like a rare occurrence that the Pac 12 and ACC meet up during the regular season. The Golden Bears were an atrocious 5-7 last year, while the Tar Heels were 8-5. QB Mitch Trubisky & WR Ryan Switzer have both left Chapel Hill behind for the NFL, and that concerns me a little, especially for the first game of the season. I’m not bold enough to predict an outright upset, but the points feel like a bit much to me. Zach doesn’t foresee a blowout, but believes Carolina will win by a comfortable enough margin.

My Pick:     California

Z’s Pick:     UNC

 

 

 

Texas A&M        at      UCLA (-3)

After losing starting QB Josh Rosen to a shoulder injury in 2016 the Bruins nosedived to a 4-8 record, but Rosen is back and I expect him to be a first round NFL Draft pick next spring. The Aggies started off strong last season but struggled in the second half, limping to an 8-5 finish. They are without the services of defensive end Myles Garrett, who was chosen #1 overall by the Cleveland Browns. UCLA gets just a slight home field bump from the oddsmakers, but I don’t believe it’ll be that close. Zach likes A&M well enough but can’t overlook the home field advantage.

My Pick:     UCLA

Z’s Pick:     UCLA

 

 

 

Michigan (-5)     vs.    Florida

Michigan might be getting more love and national title hype if a) they didn’t have to replace ¾ of last season’s starters, and b) they didn’t play in the same conference as Ohio St. & Penn St. I expect a slight dropoff for the Wolverines from last year’s 10-3 record, though I still consider them a Top 25 team. Florida plays in the SEC, which might not be as good as in year’s past, but it’s still a pretty tough road. The Gators were 9-4 in 2016 and would probably be more than satisfied to equal that mark this season. This is a neutral site game being played at The Palace in Dallas, which atleast will make it fun to watch on TV. I think the oddsmakers have nailed this one. It’ll be competitive, but Michigan will win by a touchdown. Zach is a huge Michigan fan, but is shocking the world by predicting an upset.

My Pick:     Michigan

Z’s Pick:     Florida

 

 

 

Florida State      vs.    Alabama (-7.5)

Wow, what a huge game on the opening weekend!! Kudos to both teams. Alabama has won four national championships since 2010 and lost last season’s title game to Clemson on a touchdown pass in the final seconds. The Seminoles haven’t won a national title since 2013 but are always in the conversation. The winner of this game will emerge as the undisputed #1 team in the land, although the loser will still have a decent chance to make the playoff. It’s another neutral site game, this time emanating from the brand spankin’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This is a battle of wits between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher. I am expecting a low scoring, smashmouth defensive struggle, with a couple of big plays making the difference. I’m not brave enough to predict the outright upset, but I do think the game will be decided by less than a touchdown. Zach loves Saban and thinks the Tide will roll by two TDs.

My Pick:     Florida St.

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

Invisible Tattoo

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. – William Wordsworth

 

I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever been a poetry kind of guy. Like anything else I consume…food, books, entertainment…I go thru various moods, bouncing from one thing to another as fancy strikes, but there are certain constants to which I always return, and poetry has never been one of those things for me. Having said that, I do occasionally dabble, atleast as a reader. And now I may be inspired to actually write poetry thanks to my friend Jennifer.

 

 

My college years remain, in my heart & soul, the best years of my life, and though I haven’t seen most of them in a couple of decades social media has allowed me to remain “friends” with many of those that were a part of my circle back then. One such person is Jennifer Saunders, who recently published a book of poetry called Invisible Tattoo. I am fortunate enough to have a job that requires my presence but little else, meaning that I spend my time there reading books & watching television. So on a quiet Friday night I decided to splurge on the $3 download and check out Jennifer’s book.

 

 

Aristotle called poetry “something more philosophical and of graver import than history”, while Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sandburg defined it as “the synthesis of hyacinths & biscuits”. I think poetry means something different to everyone, and Invisible Tattoo is an intensely personal look into the author’s life & psyche. Knowing a bit about her journey made reading the book a little more…accessible…to me, but really many of the things she writes about are universal ideas to which everyone can relate. She explains the title of the book as alluding to “the impressions that experiences created on the inside”, which makes such beautiful sense. A cynic might more ominously describe the marks that life leaves us with as scars, but Jennifer isn’t misanthropic like that, which is part of her charm.

 

 

The poems that I connected with the most in the book are a set of about eight allusions to life in general. Butterfly uses one of nature’s loveliest creatures as an allegory for the ups & downs of life. The book’s titular poem talks about feeling stuck and, as I mentioned (because, in contrast to the author, I am a little nihilistic) the scars of life. By Myself speaks of the melancholy need for peace amidst chaos. The austerely titled Life is about confusion and dreams vs. reality. Mistake alludes to the bad decisions that reside in us all. Old vs. New compares the evolution of a small town to the transitions that we all go through. Syncopation of Life is an observation about busyness, the hustle & bustle of daily living. And finally, What Was Once Before Is Not Anymore is about change, the yin & yang of life.

 

 

A couple of poems are about growth. Caught talks about growing older, while Identity Lost uses the symbolism of a little girl’s love for ballet to talk about growing up, facing reality, and the idea that dreams may fade away but they rarely die.

 

 

Romance is in the air with Dark Horse, which speaks about meeting up with a lover, and Hide & Seek, centering on a dreamy kiss in a dark tunnel.

 

 

How Do I Know God Is Real? answers its own question and makes total sense.

 

 

Lucille, a dream about reuniting with a dead loved one at a church revival, and My Nana, in which the author remembers her late grandmother, are delicately lovely insights into the soul of a person whose family is a huge & important part of her.

 

 

Ray Bradbury would be proud of a set of poems that recognize the majesty of nature & space. Magic focuses on the awe inspiring moon, while Moon Walk speaks of its comforting peace. Midnight Storm sees a warm summer day turn into a dark, powerful, & beautiful tempest. Night gently expresses the feeling of drifting off to sleep on a quiet summer night. Spring is aptly titled and an appropriately charming depiction. Summer Blessing is about a pleasant summer day in the backyard. Sunrise is another self-explanatory & fittingly titled slice of life, while Sunset Over the Ohio River is a little more specific and elicited warm memories for me.

 

 

New Day compares people to books, and as a bibliophile who, as my friend The Owl says, “lives in a library”, I really enjoyed the comparison. The Book fits into the same category, as does the simply titled Words.

 

 

Soul Landscape contrasts darkness & light, while Self-Consumed speaks about selfishness and the need for companionship.

 

 

There are many other poems in Invisible Tattoo…these are just the ones that happen to resonate with me. I would encourage anyone looking for a quick, enjoyable read to hop on Amazon and either order a hard copy or download it onto your e-reading device. I hope Jennifer continues to write, whether that means more poetry or any other direction in which she is led to go.

 

50 Things: The Yin & Yang of Technology

There is nothing so stable as change.  – Bob Dylan

 

Pinterest strikes again!! As I recently mentioned, I finally joined the social media site that I once thought of as only a female domain and have found a lot of interesting & informative stuff there. My latest discovery is something called 50 Things We Don’t Do Anymore Because of Technological Advancements, which was absolutely screaming to be more than just a pin. It requires context. It requires discourse. It requires thorough examination. And I am just the guy to do those things!! I am old enough to remember almost all of these items, but young enough to not completely dismiss the progress that has rendered many of them obsolete. In some cases the thing being discussed isn’t completely gone, it’s just not as big a part of daily life as it once was, and other items listed are still being done, we’ve just transitioned into an updated way of doing them. Bill Gates has stated that “the advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life”, which is why a walk down memory lane like this is fascinating because oftentimes we don’t reflect on how much has changed in our lives. We’re too busy living in the present and, sadly, fretting about the future, to recognize subtle transformations. That’s probably a good thing, otherwise we’d drive ourselves nuts. At any rate, join me as we come face to face with just how much technology has altered the landscape of our daily trek thru this awesome thing we call life.

 

 

 

 

1       Call Theaters

Thanks to smartphones & The Internet we no longer have to call to see if a movie is being shown or what time it starts. There’s an app for that!! You can even order tickets in advance, although I never do that because hey…plans might change.

 

2       Utilize Travel Agents

I’m not a traveler. I would love to be, but life hasn’t provided me with the means or opportunity. There are a few places that I fully intend to visit someday though. Anyway, travel agencies still exist, and I assume that those still around are profitable, but I also realize that nowadays just about anyone who is computer savvy can hop online and book an entire vacation, everything from plane tickets to hotel rooms to dinner reservations to tickets for shows. Travel agents are, essentially, the middle man that has largely been cut out by The Internet.

 

Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. – Arthur M. Schlesinger

 

 

3       Use VCRs or 4 Watch Videotapes/DVDs

I’m pretty sure the VCR is obsolete. Oh I assume there are folks that still own one, but I don’t think they are manufactured anymore. And now because of streaming services like Netflix & Hulu there really isn’t a need for DVDs, although plenty of people still own them and both DVDs & DVD players are still sold in stores. We also have devices like DVR & TiVo that allow us to record television programs, and they are so much simpler & user friendly than VCRs ever were.

 

5       Dial Directory Assistance or 6 Call Time

I suppose some folks still make such calls, but it’s really unnecessary now. Directory assistance can’t tell you any information that a quick Google search won’t provide, and even watches & wall clocks have taken a backseat since everyone has a clock on their phone, tablet, or laptop.

 

 

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.  – Benjamin Franklin

 

 

7       Save Change For or 8 Use Pay Phones

Occasionally I still see a pay phone here & there, but almost everyone has a cell phone these days. Save those quarters to help pay THAT bill.

 

9       Purchase Tickets on the Phone

I assume one can still dial an 800 # to order concert tickets or whatever other kind of tickets one needs to buy, but it’s just as convenient to do it online. Actually I think in many cases there might be a processing fee when ordering over the phone now, so you’ll save a few bucks by doing it online, with the added benefit of not having to actually talk to anyone. It’s a win-win. And now you don’t even get tickets mailed to you. They are e-mailed, you print them out, & someone will scan a barcode when you arrive at the venue. I’m not sure how safe all of that is, but it is certainly efficient.

 

 

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.  – Aldous Huxley

 

 

10     Buy Disposable Cameras, 11 Print Photos, 12 Make Photo Albums, or 13 Get Film Developed

I have inherited my grandmother’s fondness for taking photos, but I haven’t actually gotten a hard copy of any of them in a decade. I just upload all of my pics to Facebook. That’s actually the main reason I keep my Facebook page…as an online photo album. My mother & grandmothers loved their photo albums. Dad still has several. But with digital photography it’s just not really a thing anymore. I haven’t reached the point yet where I exclusively use my phone to take pictures, although many have because the quality of phone cameras have improved exponentially in recent years. Personally I still think my digital camera takes better photos. However we can all agree that those little disposable cameras, though still available, are passé. I’m not sure anyone develops film anymore. Perhaps professional photographers…that’s probably about it.

 

14     Put Ads in Store Windows

I don’t think the store window ad has been popular in several decades. It might be more appropriate to point out that newspaper ads are quickly becoming obsolete. Between E-bay and countless wannabe sites, plus various pages on social media dedicated to buying & selling, classified ads in newspapers are really among the least effective ways to reach an audience.

 

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. – George Orwell

 

 

15     Use Maps

My father brought me a paper map not long ago, and it really made me chuckle. Does anyone use those anymore?? Most newer vehicles are equipped with GPS, and one can purchase devices to put in older vehicles. Plus everybody has Google maps or a similar app on their phone.

 

16     Carry Portable Cassette/CD Players or 17 Buy CDs

Physical means of listening to music like vinyl records, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, & now CDs have all come & gone. CDs are still around I guess, but most everyone digitally downloads their music now. Even iPods are a thing of the past. If you’ve got a smartphone you’ve got a device that’ll carry hundreds…maybe even thousands…of songs. What else could one possibly ask for??

 

 

Men have become the tools of their tools.  – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

18     Handwrite Letters, 19 Have Pen Pals, or 20 Send Love Letters

I’m not too sure about this one. People still write letters…especially love letters, right?? But the idea of actually using a pen & paper then putting the letter in an envelope and mailing it is rather archaic. That’s what emails & texts are for!! I suppose pen pals have been replaced by “friends” on Facebook and “followers” on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

 

21     Make Collect Calls/Reverse Charges

Yep…collect & long distance calls are outta here!! Cell phones allow us to call & talk to our out of town friends & family as much as & for as long as we wish.

 

 

Before automobiles existed, everyone had a horse. Then cars became available, and their convenience, compared to horses, was undeniable. – Susan Orlean

 

 

22     Pay Bills at the Post Office

I remember my grandparents paying utility bills at the post office and even the bank. Nowadays though people don’t even mail a check to the company. I set up autopay whenever available for recurring bills, and one can use a debit/credit card or PayPal to pay many bills online.

 

23     Use an Address Book       

Most of us now keep everyone’s contact information…name, address, phone #, e-mail…stored in our phones. I can’t imagine that owning a stationary store would be very profitable in the 21st century.

 

 

Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.  – Ray Bradbury

 

 

24     Make Mix Tapes

Ha!! Now I’m getting a little nostalgic. I don’t think I ever made a sappy mix tape for a girl, but I do recall recording songs from the radio onto cassette tapes and listening to the resulting personal favorites album with my Walkman. Later on…and not that long ago…burning CDs at home became a thing. I remember being really into that for a brief moment in time. Nowadays whenever I want to rock out, chill with some classical music, or celebrate the holiday season with Bing Crosby I just use iTunes, Amazon Music, or Spotify. I haven’t spent a dime on music in several years.

 

25     Go Into the Bank

A couple of months ago my sister & I met our father at one of the local banks to conduct some business, and it really struck me how dead it was in there in the middle of a weekday. But with direct deposit, drive-thrus, & online banking there really is no need for most people to actually go inside a bank anymore.

 

 

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.  – B. F. Skinner

 

 

26     Buy TV Guide

When I was a kid I kind of enjoyed reading TV Guide. There was always an interesting article or two, and of course it was indispensable when trying to find out what time something was on or to get an idea what a show was about. But with modern televisions a push of a button brings up the onscreen guide and it’s really simple to find out what you need to know about whatever program you want to watch.

 

27     Own Encyclopedias

Believe it or not, once upon a time salesmen actually travelled around selling a bulky set of a couple dozen alphabetized books with informative articles about almost any topic one could imagine. And then every year or two they’d try to sell families a brand new set of books with updated information. Anyone who went to school in the 1980’s or before surely did their fair share of book reports & term papers using information almost exclusively gleaned from an encyclopedia. It all seems so quaint now in the Internet Age, when information about literally anything & everything is just a few keystrokes and/or mouse clicks away (actually computer mice are even outdated now).

 

The human spirit must prevail over technology.  – Albert Einstein

 

 

28     Visit DMV to Renew Registration       

I just recently visited the DMV to renew my driver’s license, but I suppose one can deal with renewing their registration online. The DMV was still a pretty busy place.

 

29     Use Yellow Pages or 30 the Phone Book

Phone books are still produced and used, especially by older people. However, these days it’s easier to just search for an unknown phone number online.

 

 

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.  – John F. Kennedy

 

 

31     Use a Dictionary or Thesaurus to 32 Check Spelling

How did we ever survive without The Internet?? We sure did kill a lot of trees making books that are now totally unnecessary. Don’t misunderstand…I still look up things in a dictionary or thesaurus quite regularly…it’s just on a website rather than in a book. And if you’re using Google or even a computer program like Microsoft Word it’s really easy to spellcheck.

 

33     Remember Phone Numbers

I remember my Dad’s phone number because it’s still the one I grew up with, the same one he’s had for almost fifty years. And of course I know my own phone number. But if you ask me for the phone numbers of other family members, friends, or my place of work I’d struggle to come up with them because they’re all programmed into my phone and accessible with one click. Oddly enough I still remember numbers that haven’t been used in years, like my grandparents and even former employers.

 

 

There was a time when nails were high-tech. There was a time when people had to be told how to use a telephone. Technology is just a tool. People use tools to improve their lives.  – Tom Clancy

 

 

 

34     Use Pagers

When I was in college in the early 90’s pagers were the ultimate sign of being cool & hip. Then they segued into being indicative of a drug dealing thug. I have no idea if pagers are even manufactured anymore, but I can’t imagine they’d be in high demand. It’s not difficult to get ahold of someone in a whole host of ways, so pagers are just antiquated reminders of a bygone era. Who would’ve ever imagined that a pager could evolve into a romantic piece of nostalgia??

 

35     Fax Documents

To my knowledge most offices still have fax machines, but with e-mail & social media they are no longer an essential piece of equipment.

 

 

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.  – Stephen Hawking

 

 

36     Pay Bills with Checks or 37 Keep Paper Bills/Bank Statements

Almost everything is done online with credit/debit cards or PayPal. I still pay my rent and the occasional medical bill with a check, but that’s about it. Almost all bills & statements are available online in some form now, so paperless billing is the norm.

 

38     Watch TV Shows When They’re Actually On

Ehhhh…I don’t know. I mean I get it…we don’t HAVE to watch something when it’s on. That’s the magic of DVR/TiVo. But if I happen to be home and in the mood to vegg out when a favorite program is on I’m going to watch it. What else do I have to do?? Still though, it is cool to know that if we’ve got to go to work or fulfill some other kind of obligation, if there are two shows on at the same time that we like, or even if it’s just a nice day outside and one doesn’t want to stay home like a lazy hump that we can record something and watch it whenever we get some free time.

 

39     Warm Food/Drinks on the Stove

Thank you microwave oven!!

 

 

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. – Douglas Adams

 

 

40     Dial *69

I used to drive my parents crazy with this because it cost 50 cents a pop. But there are always those people who call and hang up, either because they realize too late that they’ve dialed a wrong number or they just didn’t feel motivated to leave a message on the answering machine. As a kid I HAD to know who called!! Plus it was a new technology back then that fascinated me, and I kind of enjoyed the whole “Ha!! You think you’re gonna call us, hang up, & get away with it?? Think again!!” gotcha thing. These days caller ID is standard on cell phones, so whether a person hangs up without leaving a voicemail or not you know instantaneously who is calling.

 

41     Try On Shoes at the Store

I’m going to need more information here. I have childhood memories of going into a shoe store and trying on multiple pairs before hitting on just the right combination of fit & fashion. Are people not allowed to do that anymore?? In hindsight it does seem slightly unsanitary, and God knows we’re all hyper-aware these days about spreading disease and all of the horrific ways we could possibly meet our demise. Since I don’t walk I don’t have to purchase shoes that often. My size hasn’t changed in years and I’m not the least bit interested in being cool or keeping up with trends, so shoe shopping is a fairly simple process for me.

 

 

There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.  – Ronald Reagan

 

 

42     Hand Wash Clothes & 43 Hang Laundry on Clotheslines

I think hand washing clothes was passé before I was even born. Electric washers & dryers have been around for over a century and really hit their stride in the 1950s. I remember my grandparents talking about handwashing clothes back when they were coming of age during The Depression, and my mother would hang clothes out to dry during the summers of my youth. I assume there are still people that use clotheslines, especially if they reside in a rural area.

 

44     Buy Newspapers or 45 Advertise in Newspapers

Newspapers aren’t quite dead yet, but they aren’t as big of a deal as they once were. News is readily available in many forms like websites or 24 hour news channels on TV, most of which are updated constantly, which of course newspapers can’t be. Newspapers still exist, and they still have advertisements, but with The Internet newspapers are a decidedly old-fashioned way to advertise anything. The first thing I do when I get my Sunday paper is throw away all of the flyers & sales propaganda. And if I’m looking for a job, house, or any kind of product or service the newspaper is the last place I’m going to look.

 

 

New technology will not necessarily replace old technology, but it will date it by definition. Eventually, it will replace it.  – Steve Jobs

 

 

46     Handwrite School Essays/Reports

Do they even teach cursive writing in schools anymore?? Since nearly everything is done with computers now it is much more…pragmatic…for kids to learn keyboarding skills, because they’ll be doing a lot more of that in their lives than anything with a pen or pencil. Not only do they not have to visit the local library or use a multi-volume encyclopedia to do research, but spoiled brats these days don’t even have to cramp their soft little hands by writing pages & pages of information…they simply type a report in Word then print it out.

 

47     Buy Flowers from a Florist

I’m going to call BS on this one. Florists are still in business. Like anything else they’ve had to adapt to modern times. I suppose most people order flowers online now. But even when you use a service like 1-800-FLOWERS the purchase is still, to my knowledge, fulfilled (including delivery) by a local florist.

 

 

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

48     Keep A Diary

I’m sure there are still people that record their innermost thoughts on a daily basis, although I think it’s called “journaling” now. We’re fancy like that.

 

49     Send Post Cards

I’m not a traveler. I think I already mentioned that. Anyway, nowadays if a person wants to say “Hey!” to the folks back home while they’re traipsing around on vacation all they have to do is post pics or a status update on social media.

 

 

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. – Thomas Edison

 

 

50     Visit Yard Sales/Flea Markets

This is inaccurate as well. Yes it’s true that there is no shortage of websites on which people can sell their junk, but old-fashioned yard sales & flea markets still happen in every small town in America every summer. My mother loved having yard sales and going to yard sales.

 

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.  – Confucius

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Points of Ponderation…..Episode 10.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Now I have written about freedom of religion on multiple occasions, usually to point out how its focus is on prohibiting the establishment of a national religion and that, in my opinion, courts & other entities have gone in all kinds of crazy directions with it, usually overlooking the whole “free exercise” part in the process. Freedom of speech is pretty self-explanatory, except that too many folks whine about it and fail to realize that, though you can say almost anything you want, there is no freedom from the consequences one may suffer (losing your job for example). Freedom of assembly is an overlooked & rarely discussed part of the amendment, but it now seems fitting to point out that it specifically allows us the right to peaceably assemble. There is a difference between a protest and a riot. If you show up to protest with baseball bats, sticks, tear gas, knives, guns, automobiles, or anything else that could be considered a weapon then you’re doing the whole “peaceably assemble” thing wrong. Our citizenry has been crossing this particular line for decades. Personally I have never been passionate enough about something to actually physically protest, in part because, as comedian George Carlin once said, “never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”. These events usually don’t end well, and I see no logic in putting myself in harm’s way. In the 2004 rom-com Win a Date with Tad Hamilton one of the characters threatens “I will tear you to pieces with my bare hands…or vicious rhetoric.” I lean toward utilizing vicious rhetoric as my weapon of choice. It may not accomplish much, but seems atleast as effective as a pointless protest, and far less dangerous.


 



 

 

Monday August 14, 2017 will go down in history as the day when Jimmy Fallon dealt the final nail in the coffin of late night TV, atleast for me. Fallon was widely praised on social media and everywhere else for his cold open to The Tonight Show, a sobering commentary about the sad events of the previous weekend in Charlottesville, VA. It was a fantastic opportunity for a silly television show to unite a broken nation, because really, there is unity in communal experiences like sports, comedy, & music. Sadly, contrary to public opinion, in my eyes Fallon blew it. Don’t misunderstand…I am not saying he should have ignored the elephant in the room and dove right into the fun stuff. It was proper to address the situation with an appropriately somber tone. However, like many of the other late night hosts Jimmy Fallon couldn’t help himself…he had to get political. He couldn’t resist spewing divisive rhetoric. These Hollywood types just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that Americans of all sorts…black, white, Hispanic, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Democrat, Republican…watch their TV shows & movies and listen to their music. There is enough partisan debate on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, & talk radio because that is actually a huge reason those entities exist. Late night comedy should be lighthearted & bipartisan, but the reality is that it largely hasn’t been for awhile. The Tonight Show seemed to be the final refuge, and now it’s not. I mentioned last October that it had become fairly common for me to turn off my TV after the late local news anyway, and going forward that will be the standard modus operandi. If Colbert, Seth Meyers, Kimmel, Fallon, etc. want to be contentious shit stirrers instead of entertainers that’s their choice, but I don’t have to watch.

 

 



 

 

 

This past week has made me so glad that I gave up social media fights about politics. Don Vito Corleone said it best…never let anyone outside the family know what you are thinking. Looking back in time I am ashamed that I was ever a keyboard warrior. It’s just not worth the price. I must admit that I did block one “friend” on Facebook a few days ago, but that situation was only tangentially related to politics. I’ve actually made reference to this friend before, calling him “the rare raging liberal that I can actually tolerate”. He loves stirring the pot and is constantly posting political rants in a sad cry for validation (a perception some have probably had about me in the past). I didn’t actually jump into the fray, but did post what I thought was a rather amusing joke in reply to something that had been said within the thread. This buddy of mine is one of the most unapologetically vulgar, offensive, politically incorrect guys I’ve ever known, yet had the gall to publicly come at me about MY sense of humor. There were multiple ways to handle the situation and he chose the worst alternative. Not only do I have little patience for humorless people, but I no longer desire to engage with anyone who gets their jollies from causing upheaval. The Bible mentions multiple antichrists before THE Antichrist arrives on the scene, and I am slowly becoming convinced that social media might be an antichrist.

 

 



 

 

 

Back in November of last year, right after the election, I had some fairly optimistic opinions about the future of President Trump. I said that “I suspect he will surround himself with tremendously smart & capable people.” Unfortunately I’m not sure that has actually happened. The White House has become a revolving door, with more people going in & out than Taylor Swift’s bedroom. No matter what my fellow conservatives say it is not normal to have replaced almost a dozen high level officials in less than a year. I also opined that “who he chooses for his cabinet and as advisors will be very important”. It may be difficult for Trump voters to admit, but selecting the right people to serve in key positions is a big part of the job, and with so many resigning or being canned this quickly it calls into question President Trump’s judgement & ability to assess people’s character. The good news is that I predicted that an important factor in Trump “either earning his keep or insuring a one term presidency” would be economics & job growth”, and from what I understand things are heading in the right direction there, so we’ll see.

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2017 NFL Preview & Prognostications

In light of all the absurdity happening in the world these days it’s good to know that it won’t be long until we can spend hours upon hours every weekend curled up on the couch watching football and forgetting about life for awhile. Football is a uniter, not a divider. Oh sure everyone has their favorite teams & players and fans will good-naturedly debate each other over such issues, but at the end of the day football fans on opposite ends of even the most longstanding rivalries usually have no problem sitting down with a cold beverage and some tasty snacks to watch the game together. There is so much common ground. Raider Nation, Cheeseheads, & Philly Boo Birds can all agree on certain things…the Browns suck, Tom Brady is a douche canoe, RedZone rocks, and for the love of God & all that’s holy will some lowly team PLEASE give Jon Gruden a coaching job and get him off our TVs. So in preparation for that upcoming glorious day please sit back, relax, & look into the gridiron crystal ball to see what might be in store for the NFL over the next few months. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

AFC

 

East

New England Patriots

(14-2) 13-3

Miami Dolphins

(10-6) 8-8

Buffalo Bills

(7-9) 5-11

New York Jets

(5-11) 3-13

Sports media has spent the offseason fellatiating the Patriots even more than usual, including shoving Tom Brady’s 40th birthday down our throats like it was some sort of religious holiday. Look, I’m not an unreasonable man. Despite repeated instances of cheating their way to success I will begrudgingly concede that any team that wins five Super Bowls in 15 years deserves kudos, but numerous outlets predicting an undefeated season is just silly. This is a weak division that New England will win easily, but I think they’ll stumble a few times along the way. The loss of QB Ryan Tannehill to injury and the subsequent signing of the suddenly unretired Jay Cutler doesn’t move the meter either way for the Dolphins in my opinion. They might be in the wildcard conversation early on but aren’t a threat to be taken seriously. The Jets are going to get worse before they get better, and the Bills are just treading water, with new head coach Sean McDermott being the latest guy that’ll lead the team nowhere before getting canned in a couple of years.

 

 

West

Oakland Raiders

(12-4) 13-3

Kansas City Chiefs

(12-4) 9-7

Denver Broncos

(9-7) 8-8

Los Angeles Chargers

(5-11) 7-9

The Raiders and Chiefs were neck & neck last season, but I think this is a year in which the future Vegas franchise establishes dominance while Kansas City takes a step backward. I really like Oakland QB Derek Carr, and with RB Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement, WR Cordarrelle Patterson coming over from Minnesota looking for a fresh start, & Amari Cooper ready to emerge as one of the league’s premier receivers the offense will be difficult to stop. Khalil Mack & Bruce Irvin are a formidable pass rushing duo. The Chiefs feel like they’re in a transitional phase, with first round pick Patrick Mahomes biding his time until QB Alex Smith goes away, career backup Spencer Ware & third round pick Kareem Hunt vying to replace departed RB Jamaal Charles, and talented receivers Tyreek Hill & Chris Conley stepping up in the absence of the departed Jeremy Maclin. The defense will have to be the foundation for KC. Whether Trevor Semien or Paxton Lynch wins the quarterback battle in Denver their defense will also be the key to success. The Chargers have moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and will play in a stadium about the size of my apartment. I feel bad for QB Philip Rivers because I’m sure this isn’t how he’d prefer to see his career wind down. Anthony Lynn is an unproven head coach, although offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt & defensive coordinator Gus Bradley are former head coaches themselves. First round pick Mike Williams, a receiver out of Clemson, and second rounder Forrest Lamp, an offensive lineman from Western Kentucky, have already suffered injuries in training camp (Lamp is out for the season, Williams should return at some point), which isn’t a good omen.

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers

(11-5) 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals

(6-9-1) 9-7

Baltimore Ravens

(8-8) 8-8

Cleveland Browns

(1-15) 3-13

I am normally very cautious when it comes to having high expectations for my Steelers, but I can’t deny the fact that they should clearly be the best team in the division. I’m sure everyone in Pittsburgh would deny it, but the truth is that the AFC North isn’t their true competition. The fact is that the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl. Having said that, this division is always a grind so I don’t expect the Steelers to run away with the crown. It’ll be a season long slog. I think the Bengals will be better than most expect, with AJ Green & first round pick John Ross forming an intimidating receiving duo and the much maligned Joe Mixon adding a dimension to the running game. Baltimore feels like they’re spinning their wheels. Perhaps they should crowd source their fans for solutions. The Browns are the Browns…a perpetual Factory of Sadness where talented players waste away valuable years of their career. They may show a small improvement this year, but really…who cares??

 

 

South

Tennessee Titans

(9-7) 11-5

Houston Texans

(9-7) 8-8

Indianapolis Colts

(8-8) 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars

(3-13) 6-10

Much like the West, in which two teams that were even as they crossed the finish line last season seem to be headed on divergent paths, so it goes in the South, with Tennessee taking a leap forward and the Texans seeing their momentum stopped for now. I really like Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota, and he’s got some weapons…RBs DeMarco Murray & Derrick Henry, TE Jace Amaro, and WRs Eric Decker & first round pick Corey Davis. The offensive line looks good too. I’m not quite sure about their defense though. Houston will once again rely heavily on their stout defense while they sort out the quarterback situation. Tom Savage will probably begin the season as the starter, but I really like Deshaun Watson and think he’ll be one of the league’s best QBs in a couple of years. Colts’ signal caller Andrew Luck was supposed to be the next Peyton Manning, but things don’t seem to be working out that way, and I don’t expect Indy to improve. I had been under the impression in recent years that the Jags were up n’ comers, but they’ve gone backward. Unlike most people I’m not that psyched about first round pick Leonard Fournette, and QB Blake Bortles inspires zero confidence.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Cincinnati

AFC Championship:    New England vs. Pittsburgh

 

  

 

NFC

 

East

New York Giants

(11-5) 11-5

Dallas Cowboys

(13-3) 10-6

Washington Redskins

(8-7-1) 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles

(7-9) 5-11

The suspension of RB Zeke Elliott isn’t a good beginning for the Cowboys. Whether he’s out six games or has the punishment reduced a bit I think Dallas loses atleast a couple contests that they otherwise may have won. That opens the door for the Giants, who enter season two of the Ben McAdoo era having done rather well last year and now switch out receiver Victor Cruz (now with the Bears) for Brandon Marshall (formerly of the Jets) & add first round pick Evan Engram at tight end. This is a tough division, but New York has to be the heavy favorite. The Redskins have spent the offseason in a pissing contest with quarterback Kirk Cousins, but also added free agent receiver Terrelle Pryor, defensive end & first round draft pick Jonathan Allen, and fourth round RB Samaje Perine. Still though, they feel like a team on the negative side of transformation until the likely departure of Cousins and the drafting of a new quarterback next year. I love Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz, but Philly is a team with too many moving parts & youngsters to really gel into anything good at this point. Maybe next year.

 

 

West

Seattle Seahawks

(10-5-1) 12-4

Arizona Cardinals

(7-8-1) 8-8

Los Angeles Rams

(4-12) 6-10

San Francisco 49ers

(2-14) 5-11

Seattle had, by their standards, a pretty mediocre season in 2016, lowlighted by a surprising loss to the lowly Rams in week two. However, they did make the playoffs before being beaten by the Atlanta Falcons. RB Eddie Lacy has moved to the northwest from Green Bay, and I expect him to be in shape & a significant contributor. The Cardinals are looking to rebound from a tough year and get back to the team they were in 2015 when they played in the NFC title game. It’s all about QB Carson Palmer. At 37 years old can he summon up one last great season, or will the oft injured signal caller just kind of fade away?? The Niners & Rams keep adding pieces in free agency & thru the draft, but it doesn’t seem like either team is closer to turning things around. This is the Seahawks’ division to lose, and I don’t think it’ll even be competitive.

 

 

North

Green Bay Packers

(10-6) 12-4

Minnesota Vikings

(8-8) 9-7

Chicago Bears

(3-13) 6-10

Detroit Lions

(9-7) 5-11

Much like Seattle the Packers just felt a bit off last season, even though they made it to the NFC title game. I think there was a lot of drama in the personal life of QB Aaron Rodgers that affected him negatively, though we’ll never really know for sure. At any rate, keep an eye on the backfield, where converted receiver Ty Montgomery will get some stiff competition from hardnosed runner Jamaal Williams, a 4th round draft choice from BYU. Otherwise I assume Rodgers will pass the ball a lot to an array of talented receivers and the defense will be overlooked & underrated. In Minnesota Adrian Peterson has taken his child beating ways down south to The Big Easy and it’ll be up to former Raider Latavius Murray and/or rookie RB Dalvin Cook to replace him. The receiving corps is…okay…but I expect QB Sam Bradford to be handing the ball off much of the time. Good ol’ smashmouth football for the Vikings. The defense will be alright, but might have to be better than that in some low scoring slugfests. The Bears will allegedly try to get thru the season with QBs Mike Glennon & Mark Sanchez, with first round pick Mitch Trubisky essentially redshirting his rookie season to learn the ropes. It’s a bold strategy…let’s see if it pays off for them (or even if they stick to that plan). There are some talented offensive weapons in Chicago…receivers Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, & Reuben Randle, RB Jordan Howard, rookie tight end & 2nd round draft pick Adam Shaheen…but none of that matters if the quarterback is subpar. The defense in the Windy City has potential but is, on paper, underwhelming. I am predicting that the Lions take a big step backward after a career year from QB Matthew Stafford in 2016. Their defense has been upgraded, but I don’t think Stafford can repeat last season’s success, and I’m not all that enamored with the weapons he has to work with. The Packers will win the North, and it won’t be close.

 

 

South

Atlanta Falcons

(11-5) 10-6

Carolina Panthers

(6-10) 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(9-7) 10-6

New Orleans Saints

(7-9) 9-7

All anyone will remember about the Falcons’ 2016 season is their epic collapse in the Super Bowl, which is a shame, but also can be used as motivation. They’ll be almost as good this year, but other teams will step up to compete. The Panthers’ putrid season was probably an anomaly, and I expect them to flip the script this year behind new offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey, who’ll line up in the backfield but can be a receiver as well. I like Tampa and believe we’ll see the continued maturation of QB Jameis Winston, especially since he now has a really good tight end in first round pick OJ Howard and a talented group of receivers, including free agent signee DeSean Jackson. The Bucs will be in the playoff hunt. I am rather sentimental, so I’d like to see QB Drew Brees lead the Saints back to the playoffs as he winds down his brilliant career, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Signing free agent RB Adrian Peterson won’t be a difference maker since he’s way past his prime. Actually it’ll probably be Mark Ingram & third round choice Alvin Kamara getting most of the work in the backfield by the mid-point of the season.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   NY Giants, Green Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay

NFC Championship:   NY Giants vs. Green Bay

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers      41  

Green Bay Packers 38

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2018 Draft:

1       New York Jets

2       Cleveland Browns

3       Philadelphia Eagles

4       San Francisco 49ers

5       Detroit Lions

Words 101

Big news y’all…I recently joined Pinterest. I had always believed that it was just a bunch of elderly ladies or bored housewives swapping recipes, but after talking with a co-worker I became intrigued enough to check it out, and I must say it’s rather cool in its own peculiar way. I have boards about God & The Bible, literature & writing, & just general, interesting knowledge or factoids that stimulate my curiosity. And yes, I have saved…I’m sorry…pinned…a few recipes. A man’s got to eat, right?? Anyway, I ran across a little ditty called 100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know (or something like that), and since words are kind of my thing I was hooked. I have always said both in this forum and on social media that I am here to educate as well as entertain, and I genuinely mean that, especially when I am being educated in the process. It is the mark of a well-rounded, well-read, well-educated individual to have an extensive vocabulary, and the world would be a better place if more folks fit the bill. So consider this my small contribution to the cause. I have included all the words from the original list and provided definitions as well as my own pithy remarks here & there. Several of these words were familiar to me, some were not, many are words that I want to make an effort to use more, and a few have me wondering why they were included at all.  That’s the neat thing about riffing on someone else’s concept…I am left with the easy task of handing out kudos or mockery as I see fit, which is right in my wheelhouse. Enjoy.

 

 

  

abjure                  to renounce, reject, or disavow a formerly held belief

 

abrogate             to abolish by authoritative action; to fail to do what is required by

   

abstemious                   marked by temperance or restraint

Those first three would really take some effort to incorporate into daily conversation.

   

acumen               discernment, shrewdness, or keenness of perception

   

antebellum          existing before a war (usually used specifically in relation to The Civil War)

You’re singing a country song right now, aren’t you??

   

auspicious           suggesting likely future success; indicating good fortune

I more often hear the term inauspicious. No I’m not going to define it for you. Don’t be lazy…do it yourself.

 

 

belie                     to present a false impression; to contradict

   

bellicose              inclined to start fights or showing a disposition to fight

No wonder my grandmother was in a bad mood sometimes. She had bellicose veins.

   

bowdlerize          to edit by omitting or modifying parts considered vulgar or offensive

You really should familiarize yourself with this one. It’s happening frequently in an America where someone is constantly offended by something.

   

chicanery            the use of tricks to deceive

One of my favorites.

   

chromosome      a threadlike strand of DNA that carries genes

   

churlish               having a bad disposition; marked by a lack of civility or graciousness

A churl was a medieval peasant but today is a term used for a rude or morose individual. Boom!! Dropping knowledge!!

   

circumlocution    an indirect way of expressing something; evasive speech

   

circumnavigate   to travel around instead of through

 

   

deciduous           shedding foliage at the end of the growing season

   

deleterious          subtly or unexpectedly harmful

I use this word occasionally.

   

diffident               reserved or unassertive; hesitant to act or speak

   

 

enervate              lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor

   

enfranchise         to set free; to grant rights or privileges

Today we more often hear the term disenfranchised, which means feeling deprived of rights or privileges.

   

epiphany             a divine manifestation; the sudden perception of meaning; a revealing moment

   

equinox               either of the two times each year (in late March…vernal equinox…& September…autumnal equinox) when the sun crosses the equator and day & night are of approximately equal length

A related term is solstice, meaning the two times each year at which the sun reaches its highest or lowest point. These are the longest (late June) and shortest (late December) days of the year.

   

euro                     the basic monetary unit of most members of the European Union (introduced in 1999)

 

evanescent                   tending to vanish like vapor

Just like the band!! (I know I know…that was Evanescence)

   

expurgate           to edit morally harmful, offensive, or objectionable parts before something is presented publicly

Similar to bowdlerize.

  

facetious             meant to be humorous or funny, oftentimes in a mischievous way

I use this word all the time!! Love it!!

    

fatuous                foolish or silly

   

feckless               incompetent, ineffective, weak; worthless, irresponsible

So if someone calls you feckless it’s NOT a compliment.

   

fiduciary              relating to or of the nature of a legal trust

   

filibuster               a tactic for delaying or preventing action by making long speeches

Politicians still do it, but I really don’t see the point. Seems like a waste of energy & taxpayer money.

   

 

gamete                a mature sexual reproductive cell

   

gauche                crude, lacking social polish

Typically people who use this word are arrogant assclowns who think just a little too highly of themselves.

 

gerrymander       divide voting districts unfairly to provide a group special advantage

   

 

hegemony          social, cultural, ideological, or economic dominance or influence of one social group over others

   

hemoglobin         a hemoprotein that gives red blood cells their color

 

homogeneous    of uniform structure or composition throughout; of the same or a similar kind or nature

Kind of like every town in America has the same chain restaurants, every shopping center has the same stores, and every car on the road looks the same.

 

hubris                  exaggerated pride, presumption, & self-confidence

An underrated word in my opinion.

   

hypotenuse        the side of a right triangle opposite the right angle

I haven’t had to know this word since high school. Kind of like the algebra educators swear up & down is useful.

 

impeach              to bring an accusation against

If you watch CNN or MSNBC you hear it every day. You really should shut off the TV and go outside.

  

incognito              without revealing one’s identity

  

incontrovertible   impossible to deny or disprove; indisputable

Why not just use indisputable?? It’s easier to say & spell.

   

inculcate              to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions; imbue, infuse, ingrain; to set permanently in the consciousness or saturate with a certain qualities or principles

I’ve never used this word in my life.

   

infrastructure      the underlying foundation or basic framework of a system or organization; the system of public works of a country, state, or region and the resources required for it

   

interpolate           to alter or corrupt by inserting words into text, often falsifying it thereby

  

irony                    incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs; the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning

   

 

jejune                   lacking interest or significance or impact

   

 

kinetic                  relating to the motion of material bodies and their forces

   

kowtow                to show fawning deference to

A really useful word from 2008-2016.

   

laissez faire         a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights

   

lexicon                 the vocabulary of a language, an individual speaker, or group of speakers or a subject  

 

loquacious           given to excessive talk or trivial conversation

This one needs a boost!! Come one America!!

   

lugubrious           mournful in an exaggerated or dramatic way

 

 

metamorphosis  striking change in appearance or character or circumstances

   

mitosis                 the process by which a cell divides into two smaller cells

   

moiety                  one of two approximately equal parts; half

I’ll just stick with half.

 

   

nanotechnology engineering that involves manipulating atoms and molecules

   

nihilism                a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless; denial of objective and moral truths

Famous nihilists include Machiavelli, Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingay, & Hunter S. Thompson.

 

nomenclature     a system of terms used within a particular science, discipline, or art

   

nonsectarian      not affiliated with or restricted to one group

   

notarize                to authenticate usually by someone empowered to witness signatures

   

 

obsequious                   marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness

   

oligarchy              a political system governed by a few people

What we Americans call “democracy”.

   

omnipotent                    having unlimited power, authority, & influence

   

orthography        the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage; the part of language study that deals with letters and spelling

   

oxidize                 to into a combine with oxygen

   

 

parabola              a plane curve generated by a point moving so that its distance from a fixed point is equal to its distance from a fixed line;  the intersection of a right circular cone with a plane parallel to an element of the cone

Yeah…I still have no clue what it means.

   

paradigm             an example, pattern, or archetype; a philosophical or theoretical framework

   

parameter            a limit or boundary

   

pecuniary            relating to or involving money

   

photosynthesis   synthesis of compounds in plants aided by radiant energy, especially light

   

plagiarize             to steal the ideas or words of someone else while passing them off as your own and not crediting the source

   

plasma                 the watery fluid in which blood cells are suspended

   

polymer               a naturally occurring or synthetic compound

   

precipitous           extremely steep

   

 

quasar                 a region at the center of a galaxy that produces an extremely large amount of radiation

I bet they used this word on Star Trek at some point.

   

quotidian             found in the ordinary course of events; commonplace, everyday

   

 

recapitulate         to summarize briefly

   

reciprocal            shared, felt, or shown by both sides

   

reparation            the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury; the payment of damages

Another word you hear a lot on the news. Again…turn off the TV…go outside!!

 

respiration           the act of breathing

   

 

sanguine             confidently optimistic and cheerful

   

soliloquy              the act of talking to oneself; a poem, discourse, or utterance of a character in a drama in the form of a monologue

If you’ve ever studied Shakespeare you’re already familiar.

   

subjugate            to bring under control; subdue or conquer

   

suffragist              an advocate of the extension of voting rights

Kind of an antiquated, historical reference. Heck, everybody votes now…even dead people.

   

supercilious        having or showing arrogant superiority

   

 

tautology             needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word

Not to be confused with tauntaunology, which is the study of the ice planet Hoth.

   

taxonomy            orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships

   

tectonic                pertaining to the structure or movement of the earth’s crust

  

tempestuous      turbulent, stormy; characterized by violent emotions or behavior

   

thermodynamics physics concerned with heat and other forms of energy

   

totalitarian            relating to centralized control by an autocratic leader or hierarchy; dictatorial   

 

unctuous             marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

Another underrated word.

   

usurp                            to seize control without authority

   

 

vacuous              devoid of content; marked by lack of intelligence

Kind of like reality television.

  

vehement            intensely emotional; deeply felt; forcibly expressed; fervid

   

vortex                   a powerful circular current of water; resembling a whirlpool

   

 

winnow                to remove something undesirable or unwanted

   

wrought               beaten out or shaped by hammering

   

 

xenophobia        intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries

It should be noted that this dislike or concern isn’t irrational when those folks are ramming planes into buildings.

   

 

yeoman               a person attending to or assisting another

You remember the 80’s show The Love Boat?? They always said Gopher was the yeoman purser and I never knew what it meant. FYI…a purser is the person on a ship responsible for handling the money. It sounds so much cooler than treasurer.

   

 

ziggurat                a rectangular tiered temple or terraced mound

2017 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

With the exception of the Thanksgiving-Christmas corridor this might be my favorite time of year. Anticipation is at its zenith and the possibilities are endless. Just looking at the schedules has me amped up, especially for two or three weekends when the lineup looks to be especially loaded. Whenever I begin this process I almost always get The Vibes, and the word that keeps popping into my head at the moment is parity. It is unlikely that any team gets thru their season unbeaten, and it’s entirely possible that a team with 2 or 3 losses sneaks into the playoff. Saturdays are going to be as glorious as usual this autumn, if only I can stay awake to watch the games. 16 of the 25 teams I have ranked here had 10 or more victories last season, and a few more won 9 games. Who will shockingly fall off the map?? Who will do a complete turnaround and climb out of the abyss of losing seasons into the Top 25?? Only time will tell, and what follows represents my best guess based solely on minimal research & decades as a dedicated fan, not any sort of insider knowledge. Perhaps we’ll look back in a few months and laugh at my foolishness, or maybe…just maybe…I will prove my worth as a bona fide guru. Who knows??

 

 

 

 

 

1          USC

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Stanford, 10/21 at Notre Dame, 11/18 vs. UCLA

Honestly, the schedule doesn’t look all that daunting for a top tier team, and with Heisman Trophy contender Sam Darnold behind center I don’t think we’ll see the Trojans go backward. Clay Helton is firmly entrenched as the head coach, providing consistency that the program has been lacking in recent years. If any big time powerhouse has a legit chance to go undefeated this is the one, and at the very least anything short of a playoff appearance will be a huge disappointment.

 

 

2          Penn State

Last Season:             11-3

Key Games:              10/21 vs. Michigan, 10/28 at Ohio St.

Last season’s Rose Bowl was probably the best post-season game other than the national championship. USC bested the Nittany Lions 52-49 on a last second field goal, and in many people’s minds it was a harbinger of fantastic things to come for both teams. The Sandusky/Paterno kerfuffle seems to be in the rear view mirror for Penn St., and while we could engage in endless sociopolitical commentary about all of that there is no doubt that moving past the fallout is good for the football program. There are two Heisman contenders in Happy Valley…QB Trace McSorely & RB Saquon Barkley…and, while I’m no expert, I have to believe that bodes well for the team’s chances of success. They’ll have to face the Buckeyes in Columbus, but Michigan will be a home game. If the Lions can split those two huge games I think they just might be national title contenders.

 

 

3          Oklahoma State

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              10/21 at Texas, 11/4 vs. Oklahoma

Surprise!! While the other team in Oklahoma usually gets all of the attention (and still will this year) the Cowboys have been pretty successful, racking up 10 or more wins in five of the past seven seasons. QB Mason Rudolph returns for his senior season, and it feels like he may be flying under the radar just like his team. That’s probably fine with the folks in Stillwater. Don’t be surprised if this is the team that comes out on the positive end of Bedlam, and I think they might even have an outside shot at perfection.

 

 

4          Florida State

Last Season:             10-3   

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Alabama, 9/16 vs. Miami (FL), 11/11 at Clemson

The season opener against Alabama will obviously set a tone for the season. That game is a neutral site contest in Atlanta and is the highlight of college football’s first weekend. A win would set the Seminoles on a course for a playoff appearance, but I don’t think a loss would be fatal. They’re still the favorites to win the ACC.

 

 

5          Ohio State

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Oklahoma, 10/28 vs. Penn St., 11/25 at Michigan

The Buckeyes still have JT Barrett behind center, and that gives them an immediate advantage. They did lose seven players to the NFL, but that’s nothing to an elite program. The second weekend of games will be highlighted by Ohio St. against Oklahoma, but it’s in Columbus and, while the talking heads will do their best to pump up the hype machine, I really don’t think it’ll be much of a contest. Penn St. will visit Columbus right before Halloween & a showdown in The Big House wraps up the regular season, and it is in one of these games that I expect Ohio St.’s playoff dreams to be dashed.

 

 

6          Alabama

Last Season:             14-1

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Florida St., 11/4 vs. LSU, 11/25 at Auburn

I’m a non-conformist so I rarely do what everybody else does…rank ‘Bama #1. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. They may win or they may lose the season opener against Florida St., but The Voices are telling me that the true waterloo for the Tide will come in November against an archrival…either LSU or Auburn. Maybe both. A one or two loss Alabama would almost certainly still be in the playoff conversation, but I think they’ll fall short of the goal.

 

 

7          South Florida

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/15 vs. Illinois, 11/4 vs. Houston

Charlie Strong wasn’t deemed good enough to get the job done for Texas, but he’s moved on and found himself in a good situation. The American Athletic Conference doesn’t get much respect, but someone’s going to win it and the Bulls seem to be receiving all the buzz despite a coaching change that would normally be cause for apprehension. They’ll need to go undefeated to rank this high, and I don’t believe that to be an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

8          Georgia

Last Season:             8-5

Key Games:              9/9 at Notre Dame, 9/30 at Tennessee, 10/28 vs. Florida

It’s season 2 for Kirby Smart as the head coach in Athens, and I think his team will be more successful than they were last year. Obviously the SEC is extremely competitive, but if the Bulldogs can win a couple of the noted key games a Top 10 finish isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Running back Nick Chubb passed up being a likely first round NFL Draft pick to return for his senior season, a huge positive. A Georgia-Alabama conference title game could be really fun.

 

 

9          Wisconsin

Last Season:             11-3

Key Games:              10/7 at Nebraska, 11/18 vs. Michigan

I’m a little nervous about this one because the Big Ten is so tough. Can they really land three teams in the Top 10? And if so, is this the right third team?? I’ve left Nebraska, Northwestern, & Iowa out of this Top 25 altogether, but they’re always dangerous opponents. I’m betting that the Badgers get by all of them, meaning that a mid-November clash with Michigan…in Wisconsin…might decide a spot in the conference title game.

 

 

10        Auburn

Last Season:             8-5

Key Games:              9/9 at Clemson, 10/14 at LSU, 11/11 vs. Georgia, 11/25 vs. Alabama

The Tigers have been a bit off the radar the past few years since winning the national championship in 2010 and losing the title game in 2013. They are 23-16 over the past three seasons. Not bad, but not remarkable either. Exceeding mediocrity will be a tall order this season. They’ll need to pull off upsets in a couple of the games I have noted, but doing so would surely make them a solid Top 10 team.

 

 

11        Oklahoma

Last Season:             11-2

Key Games:              9/9 at Ohio St., 10/14 vs. Texas, 11/4 at Oklahoma St.

QB Baker Mayfield will get a lot of Heisman hype early in the season, but I’m just a bit uneasy about the sudden departure of head coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners will have superior talent on the field as they always do, and all indications are that new coach Lincoln Riley is a bright young mind who probably would’ve been a head coach somewhere sooner rather than later anyway, but I just don’t foresee a team undergoing such a coaching change contending for a national championship, especially with a daunting early season battle on the road in Columbus, OH. There’s also the fact that the Big 12 is expected to be as competitive this season as it’s been in awhile. Oklahoma will be a good team, but I think they’ll be on the losing end of one or two games that most wouldn’t expect them to lose.

 

 

12        Washington

Last Season:             12-2

Key Games:              9/23 at Colorado, 10/28 vs. UCLA, 11/25 vs. Washington St.

The Huskies were a playoff team last season and QB Jake Browning returns for his junior year. That’s good enough for me to take this team seriously. Barring any surprising losses it feels like Washington should be the favorite in their division to get a shot at the Pac 12 title, but I think that’s the ceiling. Any unexpected stumbles along the way could cause a rapid tumble down the rankings.

 

 

13        Louisville

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/16 vs. Clemson, 10/21 at Florida St.

Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson returns under center, and while there’s no denying that he’s a dynamic player the fact is that he’s not going to sneak up on anyone this year. Even going back to last season it seems like opponents began to figure him out since the Cardinals lost three straight to end the year, including a beatdown in the Citrus Bowl at the hands of LSU. Having said all of that, I think a 9 win season is possible. Keep an eye on the games against Clemson & Florida State. I expect both to be losses, but if they’re competitive contests it’ll go a long way toward earning Louisville respect.

 

 

14        Clemson

Last Season:             14-1

Key Games:              11/11 vs. Florida St.

Replacing a starting quarterback might be just as daunting as rebooting things under a new head coach. I am a huge fan of Deshaun Watson, who is now plying his trade in the NFL with the Houston Texans, and I don’t believe he’ll be easily forgotten (he should’ve won the Heisman Trophy last year). I have no doubt that the defending national champions will just reload at most positions, and head coach Dabo Sweeney is the real deal, but I think the Tigers will taste bitter defeat at the hands of archrival Florida St., and will probably be upset in atleast one other game.

 

 

15        Michigan

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Florida, 10/21 at Penn St., 11/25 vs. Ohio St.

When Jim Harbaugh was hired as the Wolverines’ head coach back in 2015 I predicted that they’d be “legitimate national championship contenders within three years”. However, faced with the task of replacing about 75% of the starting rotations on both sides of the ball I think it might be wise to dial back expectations just a bit. They have Ohio St. at The Big House in Ann Arbor, but must travel to Happy Valley to face Penn St. Another 10 win season would be phenomenal in a stacked Big Ten…anything more than that is probably wishful thinking.

 

 

16        West Virginia

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/3 vs. Virginia Tech, 10/28 vs. Oklahoma St., 11/18 vs. Texas, 11/25 at Oklahoma

Expectations are high for the Mountaineers, atleast here in West Virginia. The long awaited debut of QB Will Grier, a transfer from Florida who had to sit out last season, is imminent, and he’ll have no shortage of weapons, including RBs Kennedy McCoy & Justin Crawford and WRs Juvon Durante & KaRaun White. The X factor is the defense, which must replace the entire front line and cornerback Rasul Douglas, who has moved on to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The optimism probably doesn’t spread too far outside the Mountain State, but that’s alright…we’re used to everyone underestimating us in all walks of life. West Virginia MUST beat archrival Virginia Tech in the season opener, and then pull off atleast one upset in big games against celebrated conference rivals.

 

 

17        Boise St.

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              10/6 at BYU, 11/11 at Colorado St.

The Broncos are what they are. They’ll win 9 or 10 games, play for the conference title, and try to surprise everyone by upsetting a team from a “power” conference in a bowl game. But wait…Boise HASN’T played for the Mountain West championship or in a bowl game that people actually watch since 2014. Can they rebound this year?? I think so.

 

 

18        Virginia Tech

Last Season:             10-4

Key Games:              9/3 vs. West Virginia, 9/30 vs. Clemson, 11/4 at Miami (FL)

In his first season as the Hokies’ head coach Justin Fuente led his team to 10 wins and spot in the conference title game. Can that success be duplicated in 2017?? Maybe. The ACC isn’t a cakewalk by any stretch, and a neutral site season opener against my WV Mountaineers won’t be an automatic win. The difference in Tech’s season will be whether they win 7/8 games or 9/10 games. Either is possible.

 

 

19        Florida

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/2 vs. Michigan, 10/7 vs. LSU, 10/28 vs. Georgia, 11/25 vs. Florida St.

It wasn’t that long ago that almost every team would open the season with a couple of easy games against cupcake opponents, the result usually being a 65-10 snoozefest that accomplished nothing except filling the coffers of the overmatched losing team. However, with the advent of the four team playoff strength of schedule has become a point of emphasis. One wouldn’t think that teams from the heralded SEC would need to concern themselves with such matters, but it looks like they’re not taking any chances. The Gators begin their season at The Palace in Dallas against Michigan. The winner will probably be vaulted into the Top 10, the loser will have to battle back. Either way Florida will have a tough road after that first game, and they’ll need to upset a couple of conference opponents to finish as a ranked team.

 

 

20        Texas

Last Season:             5-7

Key Games:              9/16 at USC, 10/14 vs. Oklahoma, 10/21 vs. Oklahoma St.

Here’s what I find interesting. IF the South Florida Bulls do as well as most are predicting in Charlie Strong’s first year as head coach there, what does it say about his ability?? And IF the Longhorns bounce back from a long stretch of mediocrity as well, does credit have to be given to new head coach Tom Herman, or will it be because Strong recruited well and the suits in Austin pulled the plug on him too soon?? It’s a conversation I’ll be looking forward to throughout the season. I don’t think Texas is going to suddenly be a threat to win 10 games or compete for the Big 12 title, but if they can pull off an upset or two, play Southern Cal tough in the opener, and ultimately win 8 games I think this spot would be well earned.

 

 

21        Stanford

Last Season:             10-3

Key Games:              9/9 at USC, 9/23 vs. UCLA, 11/10 vs. Washington, 11/25 vs. Notre Dame

Contrary to what the folks in SEC territory would have us believe I happen to think that the Big Ten & Pac 12 are the toughest football conferences in America. Stanford always seems to be in the mix near the top, and I have no reason to foresee anything different this season. They’ll need to score a couple of big upsets, and the fact that 3 of the 4 key games I have noted are being played in Palo Alto should certainly help the cause. Look for an 8 or 9 win season and a ranking somewhere in the lower portion of the Top 25.

 

 

22        LSU

Last Season:             8-4

Key Games:              10/7 at Florida, 10/14 vs. Auburn, 11/4 at Alabama

Allow me to say something controversial. I think Leonard Fournette was an overrated college running back that will have a relatively short and very average NFL career. There…I said it!! At any rate, I don’t believe Fournette’s departure will have that much of an impact on the Bayou Bengals. Actually it may help not having him as a distraction. What doesn’t help is a schedule that includes trips to The Swamp and Tuscaloosa. 9 wins and a 3rd place finish in their division looks like the ceiling, and that’d be good enough to finish as a ranked team. Head coach Ed Orgeron is firmly entrenched as the head coach for now, but I have to believe that he’s on a short leash. He’ll get two seasons to prove his worth, and probably needs to win 8 or 9 games each year.

 

 

23        Miami (FL)

Last Season:             9-4

Key Games:              9/16 at Florida St., 11/4 vs. Virginia Tech, 11/11 vs. Notre Dame

Head coach Mark Richt acquitted himself quite nicely in his first season in Coral Gables, as the ‘Canes continue to hover on the fringes of their former glory. With the ACC raising the bar and being one of the better conferences I have a difficult time seeing them making any kind of significant leap in 2017. However, if they can win a couple of key games and beat all of the teams they’re supposed to defeat I don’t think equaling last year’s success is an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

24        UCLA

Last Season:             4-8    

Key Games:              9/23 at Stanford, 10/28 at Washington, 11/18 at USC

Despite recent comments that “football and school don’t go together” (a statement that might contain a kernel of truth but should never be verbalized) I like QB Josh Rosen. He’ll be a first round NFL draft pick next spring, and his importance became clear when the Bruins lost 4 out of their final 5 games when Rosen suffered a season ending shoulder injury last year. The Pac 12 is super tough, but I think UCLA flips the script and wins 8 games.

 

 

25          Notre Dame

Last Season:             4-8

Key Games:              9/9 vs. Georgia, 10/21 vs. USC, 11/11 at Miami (FL), 11/25 at Stanford

Surely the beloved Fighting Irish won’t finish with a losing record two years in a row?? If they could pull off one…or two…upsets sneaking into the rankings seems like a solid possibility. Conversely, another bad year might mean the end of the road for head coach Brian Kelly.

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