Archives for November 2014

Ranking SEC football coaches

coach Mark Richt

coach Mark Richt

If I’m ever going to be objective about where Mark Richt stands as a head coach among his peers in the SEC, today would be the day.

My rose-colored glasses may finally be a little dirty after yesterday’s depressing loss to the archrival Yellow Jackets.

Georgia blew its football game against Georgia Tech yesterday in heartbreaking fashion, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory after they seemed to have won the game by scoring a touchdown with only 18 seconds left in regulation. Yesterday’s loss was almost as bad as the infamous Prayer at Jordan-Hare last year.

Inexplicably, coach Richt called for a pooch kick on the subsequent kickoff,  afraid that Georgia Tech might manage a long return for a touchdown if we kicked deep.

The shorter squib kick gave the Yellow Jackets excellent field position, and just enough time to run one play that gained just enough yardage for their kicker to attempt and make the longest field goal of his career, with literally inches to spare.

With that fateful decision, Richt only managed to delay the inevitable winning touchdown, scored by Georgia Tech during their first possession of overtime.

Truthfully, Georgia had no business being in position to win the game at the end. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Yellow Jackets for the entire second half.

Tech managed to take the lead with about five minutes left in the game, and should have iced it after the receiving team failed to field the ensuing kickoff, giving the Yellow Jackets possession deep in the Bulldog territory.

However, they fumbled the ball when they could have run out the clock and gave Georgia QB Hutson Mason the opportunity to drive down the field for what might have been the game-winning score.

When we deliberately kicked the ball short on our final kickoff, it merely cost us a game we never really deserved to win.

Tech gained almost as many yards rushing as Florida had a few weeks earlier. They dominated the time of possession, especially in the second half. When we did have the opportunity to score in the first half, we turned the ball over, twice.

I don’t know what Richt could have done to prevent those turnovers.

One might argue that had our players executed better in the first half, the results would have been different. The game shouldn’t have been tied at halftime. The kicker also could have missed the longest kick of his life. Or, it could have hit the crossbar.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

One could also speculate that Georgia suffered from an emotional letdown after Missouri beat Arkansas to win the SEC East.

That sounds like a pathetic excuse. Georgia Tech was the better team yesterday. And it doesn’t really matter why Tech was the better team yesterday, only that they won the game.

End of story.

However today, some Georgia “fans” have suggested Mark Richt should be fired. These alleged fans have asserted that Georgia will never win a national championship, as long as Mark Richt is our head coach. Such ridiculous statements really annoy me, for several reasons. Well, allow me to retort.

First of all, no offense meant, but unless you are a close personal friend or your name is Greg McGarity, your opinion on whether or not coach Richt deserves to lose his job is not very important to me. I’m not so biased that I would declare Mark Richt currently the best college coach in America, or even the best head football coach in the SEC at the moment. That could change over this next decade, if Georgia’s defense consistently begins to play as well as the offense. Based on this year’s improvements under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, there’s every reason to believe that could happen. The future looks very bright.

Secondly, it’s always important to look at the Big Picture. Georgia has always had good players and recruited well. But with Jeremy Pruitt as defensive coordinator, recruiting has been taken to another level. Keep in mind, this year’s defense has had flashes of brilliance. We don’t seem far away.

Finally, let’s say Greg McGarity lost his mind and fired Mark Richt in the wake of a 9-3 regular season, because we lost to Florida and Tech. Or let’s make you the AD for a day, so you could fire our coach. Who would you get to replace him?

Here’s how I rank the current SEC head coaches, based on their success on the field.

  1. Nick Saban.
  2. Steve Spurrier.
  3. Les Miles.
  4. Mark Richt.
  5. Gus Malzahn — probably overrated.
  6. Gary Pinkel — who has accomplished more with less?
  7. Hugh Frieze — heck of a recruiter.
  8. Dan Mullins.
  9. Kevin Sumlin. — maybe overrated
  10. Butch Jones.
  11. Bret Bielema — could be one to watch.
  12. Mike Stoops — tough to win at UK.
  13. Derek Mason — tough first season.
  14. Will Muschamp — currently unemployed.

Keep in mind, this is my list. Before you shuffle the order, ask yourself this one question: if Mark Richt were fired or resigned after this season, who might Georgia get to replace him?

Who would you rather have? For me, honestly, nobody on this list impresses me as someone that I’d rather have than coach Richt.

Also, let’s be realistic. Saban wouldn’t leave Alabama for another SEC school. Besides, I don’t like the way he “cuts” players if they don’t perform. Success shouldn’t come at all costs.

You can forget about Steve Spurrier. He HATES Georgia with a passion. Plus, I can’t imagine he’ll continue coaching much longer.

Is he a “better” coach than Richt right now? Yes, I’d say so. But would I rather have him than Richt?

No. I like that Richt keeps his cool under pressure. Could you imagine him ever throwing a headset, like Spurrier throws his visor?

In my first attempt to order the SEC coaches based on their success, I ranked Les Miles at #4, just below Richt, because his teams haven’t contended in several years. However, Les Miles can claim the one national championship though. So for the time being, I put him just above Richt on my list.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the Mad Hatter, but not better than “my” guy.

Who would you rather have? Urban Meyer? Rich Rodriguez? Please.

If you’re one of these fair-weather Dawg fans calling for the head of Mark Richt today, ask yourself this one question: who would your next coach be?

I believe Gene Chizik is available. Would you rather have him? Ron Zook? Or Paul Johnson?

Don’t even bother suggesting you’d rather have Jimbo Fisher. His program is a train wreck, completely out of control.

Give me a break.

 

A red-faced blue nation

Limbaugh

Recently a friend of mine referred to me as a journalist and a political writer, but I am neither.

Normally I would have been very flattered, if it weren’t for my extremely low opinion of contemporary journalism.

First and foremost, I am a novelist who writes detective fiction. I have also written several nonfiction books, and, of course, I blog here at my website.

The more liberal members of my family seem to think I’m some rabid right-wing Republican who has been brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh.

I do admit that I enjoy listening to Limbaugh’s show occasionally. I think he can be pretty funny, and admire Rush for overcoming some really serious adversity — the total loss of his hearing, and somehow managed to continue his career, with the help of a cochlear implant. I also think he’s very smart, patriotic, and quite entertaining.

But I don’t agree with everything Rush says. Just most of what he says, and practically everything he says about liberal politicians.

I don’t really consider myself a Republican — I’m more of a Libertarian who tends to vote Republican in most major elections, but certainly not someone willing to write checks to help fund the party. Currently, I don’t make enough money that I feel like I can afford to throw any of it away on a political party. After all, my wife and I are about to be hit hard by Obamacare.

I am not a person who refuses to vote for a candidate simply because they are a Democrat. In fact, I’ve voted for more than one common sensical Democrat in my career as a voter. I believe the last one was Zell Miller.

Most of the time, I try to get both sides of an argument  before I form an opinion.

Occasionally, my quest for the alternate perspective on an issue even takes me to liberal outlets such as Blue Nation Re view, where I can get the liberal point of view on subjects ranging from Kaci Hickox to the tragic death of a young girl.

I’m looking for those few opportunities where we can all agree — whether we are liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.

When I saw that liberal Democrat Sarah Burris wrote this at Blue Nation Review: “We egotistically and selfishly troll Facebook and poke fun at people — or worse, bully them until they snap. We are too often mean. Too often self absorbed.”

Heck yeah! We agreed completely…or so I thought.

I even believed she was right on the money when she added, “[S]o many Americans are extremely fortunate and we don’t even know it.”

Unfortunately, she didn’t stop there. She should have.

Only a few sentences later came this perfect gem of a punch line: “Imagine your child is playing piano one minute and the next day she is dead.  Then you have something really to complain about. Until then, all you teabaggers can shut the f*ck up.”

That insulting, vicious, and arrogant attitude helps me understand why the Democrats were absolutely decimated in the elections two weeks ago, even worse than expected. Ms. Burris should be ashamed of her vile, absurd little tirade.

But she’s a liberal. She’s probably very proud of herself.

The truth about the Scopes Monkey trial

argument_book2

I’ve been reading A. C. Grayling’s most excellent book titled The GOD Argument — after all, I don’t have to agree with the man’s opinions to admire his talent as a writer — and a realization suddenly struck me, sort of like a bolt of lightning.

Another article I’ve been working on and will publish soon discusses the some of the more interesting topics in Grayling’s book, in much greater detail.

For the remainder of this article, I’d like to focus attention on just one particular thing Grayling said in his book that I found to be very questionable.

Then I plan to connect my observations on this comment to my own personal moment of revelation, that “lightning bolt” moment I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Beginning on page 108, Professor Grayling wrote:

Since the humiliating defeat of the literal six-day creationist lobby in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Tennessee, religious groups have become increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to promote the idea that the universe and life in it were made by an intelligent agency, just as a carpenter makes a table; except that whereas a carpenter has his planks and nails to hand when he starts, the mega-carpenter did not have any materials ready beforehand, but made them too, from nothing.

When I first read the passage above, I thought, huh?

That paragraph is clearly giving the reader the distinct impression that the Scopes Monkey trial was an overwhelming victory for the Darwinian theory of evolution, and nothing less than a crushing defeat for young earth creationism.

The problem with the impression the paragraph created is that it simply isn’t true.

Scopes lost.

True, the conviction was later overturned on a technicality. But make no mistake about it, John Scopes and Darwin’s theory of natural selection clearly lost that 1925 court case — no matter what Hollywood, and revisionist historians, might have you believe.

The movie Inherit the Wind helped create the popular misconception the courtroom defeat was merely symbolic in nature, but Hollywood was playing fast and loose with the facts. The film was not an accurate portrayal of what actually happened in the aftermath of the trial.

Rather than the “humiliating defeat of the literal six-day creationist lobby” suggested by Grayling, The State of Tennessee versus John Thomas Scopes decision had a chilling effect on critical thinking that lasted for more than three decades.

Publishers removed all references to Darwin from American science textbooks after Scopes was convicted, and kept his theory of natural selection out for the next thirty-three years.

Only creationism was taught in school.

It wasn’t until 1958, when the National Defense Education Act was passed, that Darwin and evolution theory became the accepted curriculum in biology class.

In all fairness to Professor Grayling, his mistake is somewhat understandable.

Just about everybody has heard of the Scopes Monkey Trial and in contrast, virtually no one has ever heard of the NDEA.

However, that doesn’t make his error entirely excusable. It seemed like a pretty important detail for an academic scholar to have gotten completely wrong.

Scopes most certainly did not bring Darwin into the classroom. The NDEA did that, and even then only after the U.S. government became afraid of losing the race to conquer outer space, and ultimately the Cold War, to the Soviet Union.

His conviction via the Butler Act was a travesty of justice — though not because the teaching of evolution was specifically banned by law, but because it set a bad precedent by making critical thought illegal.

This was when a ‘Eureka’ moment temporarily left me thunderstruck.

My reaction to the glaring mistake of Professor Grayling was not unlike the reaction some of my critics of my book have had, as they have objected to my interpretation of Darwinian theory, as it must be defined in order to fit within the context an existential Big Picture.

My critics have vociferously complained about the errors contained in my text as if they affected the overall point being made — for example, when I mistakenly wrote that ‘clade’ was a new term biologists had introduced to replace the word ‘species.’

What I should have said was the term was new to me. The mistake seemed relatively minor, in my opinion. But some of my critics would have you believe that a trivial mistake such as that invalidated everything else I had to say.

And it occurred to me that while Professor Grayling had messed up with some of the details, his overall point remained quite valid.

It is illegal in America to teach anything other than evolution theory in science class today.

Just as creationists succeeded in their opposition to Darwinian theory in the Scopes Monkey Trial, the biology professors of today have also discriminated against creation science and intelligent design, under the pretense that Darwin is science and creation is not.

God and science are not mutually exclusive, however.

We have not been given the luxury of being able to choose between “science” or “nature” over a supernatural God.

As I’ve explained in Counterargument for God, the only true alternative to a creator God is serendipity, or extraordinary good luck. If you think there’s a third choice, you simply don’t have a clear view of the Big Picture that includes life, the universe, and everything.

It’s very important to remember that life cannot evolve until it exists.

By disallowing critical examination of Darwin’s theory through the ruling of a scientifically illiterate judge in the Dover decision, the advocates of neo-Darwinian theory became guilty, and just as successful with discouraging critical thought as the overzealous creationists had been during the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Their fierce opposition to creation science has kept God out of schools, and excluded from science class in particular. If you don’t think it has had a negative effect on society, you should listen to what notorious cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer had to say about evolution theory and creation science.

There have been serious consequences from these secular efforts to use science in trying to convince the masses that God does not exist.

Furthermore, if Darwin’s theory were truly an indisputable fact, it ought to be able to hold up under intense scrutiny.

But if you dare question Darwin, you run the risk of being called a science-denier.

 

 

The Happy Atheist

atheist_1What makes an atheist happy?

In the case of biology professor P. Z. Myers, the answer to that question shouldn’t be all that difficult to discern, especially considering the fact he wrote a book titled The Happy Atheist.

Though I don’t know Professor Myers, should we ever meet, I suspect it is possible we could consider each other a friend, in spite of our vast difference in opinion about certain mutual topics of interest.

One reason I think it’s possible is because it seems that we share a few things in common. Also, I respect his honesty.

For example, I agreed with him completely when he wrote that saying “abiogenesis is not evolution” is a cop-out and commend Professor Myers for his intellectual courage to admit it.

After all, more than once I have asserted that life cannot evolve until it exists myself.

The logical foundation for making the connection between life and its origin would seem to be inarguable — but that doesn’t keep some people from wanting to argue about it.

Several of my atheist friends have tried to rebut the “Big Picture” argument presented in my book Counterargument for God by saying the ability for a living organism to change and the origin of life are two completely separate processes as unrelated as gravity and germ theories, which is just plain silly to even suggest.

The hypothesis called abiogenesis might be an issue for chemistry and the theory of evolution a philosophical interest in biology, but biological organisms are created by chemical reactions forming complex structures. That little fact is undeniable.

Going beyond our agreement about the significance of abiogenesis, it might be interesting to note that Professor Myers and I were both raised Lutheran. Furthermore, we are both writers. He blogs regularly at Pharyngula, and I haphazardly voice my opinion on a very wide range of subjects right here at southernprose.com.

P. Z. Myers

P. Z. Myers

However, I’m afraid that may be the full extent of what P. Z. Myers and I have in common. As an atheist, he believes in neither a supernatural God or an afterlife, and he derives much of his pleasure from looking down rather snobbishly on those who do.

Unfortunately I can’t even score any brownie points with Professor Myers by writing a rave review about his book. Frankly, I’m much more impressed with his blogging.

His book simply wasn’t very good. In fact, The Happy Atheist reads like a cobbled-together collection of lesser material that didn’t merit publication on his blog.

For example, on pages 62 and 63 in an essay titled “Afterlife? What Afterlife?”, Myers wrote:

Look at the stories religious people make up. They know nothing of the deep history of the world, so they create a fable about a humanlike deity as one would construct a house. They know nothing of disease, so they make up imaginary demons and spirits that torment us. They don’t understand geology or the weather, so every natural catastrophe becomes a warning shot from an angry god. They want power, so they pretend that their incantations and rituals will get them the blessings of their god. Most pathetic of all, they fear death, so they’ve invented fabulous heavens to tempt and hells to terrify. They’re all lies. Religious people don’t know what happens after we die–they can only pretend to know. No one has returned from an unambiguous death to tell us what goes on afterward, and the people who do claim to have had visions of an afterlife or ghosts or souls are not consistent with each other. The only reason to invent a story that we have a “spirit” that will “live on” after our death is that it’s what people want to hear. Death is frightening, so it’s easy for people to believe in an afterlife. But there is no evidence at all for an afterlife.

Notice the sweeping generalization containing all these assumptions Professor Myers has made about people with religious beliefs in one paragraph–that we “know nothing” about the deep history of the world, or disease. We don’t understand geology or weather.

Reading Professor Myers, it seems clear that in his opinion, no really logical and smart person could ever believe in God.

However, the most significant problem with his diatribe in the paragraph above is that atheists don’t know what happens when we die, either. Claiming that what others believe is a lie implies that the person making that declaration knows the truth with absolute certainty.

In reality, nobody does. Our best sources for potential information about what happens after we die might be gleaned from interviews with Pam Reynolds or Matthew Botsford.

Regardless of whether it was born of ignorance or denial, Myers’s claim “there is no evidence at all for an afterlife” simply isn’t true.

There are phenomena known as corroborated veridical NDE perceptions that clearly seem to demonstrate that the mind and brain are separable entities and strongly suggest our conscious mind may be able to survive physical death.

On the other hand, in an essay beginning on page 149 titled “Our Brains Are Full of Contradictions,” Myers wrote,

“When we claim that, because so-and-so is a scientist, every thought in his head must be automatically legitimate in the scientific sphere, we’re making a glorified argument from authority — we’re making a logical fallacy. There’s plenty of room for each one of us to be wrong.”

Because I reject arguments attempted using authority on a fairly regular basis, I appreciate the honesty of Professor Myers in conceding that point and agree with his debunking the argument from authority. Unfortunately, he later tries to use a similar argument from authority when on page 160, in an essay titled”Religion Fails as a Source of Knowledge.” Myers wrote:

Science and religion are incompatible in all of the ways that count. Science works. Religion doesn’t.

That is an argument attempting to use his authority as an academic to assert a baseless claim in support of his atheistic beliefs. What does it mean to say “religion doesn’t work?”

Probably the most positive thing I can say about The Happy Atheist is the book is short, a quick read. However, it lacks much in the way of real substance that might serve to validate his atheistic worldview, except to say it makes Professor Myers feel better about himself to feel superior to other people. For him, happiness seems to be found in something other than a normal, well-developed sense of humor.

He claims to derive a schadenfreude-like pleasure from watching people he believes to be foolish acting like fools. In the opening chapter titled “Morning in the Midwest,” Myers describes his neighbors as “good people” and says they aren’t stupid — except about their religious beliefs, of course.

Most of the chapters/essays have pithy titles such as “The Top Ten Reasons Religion Is Like Pornography,” “The Big Pink Guy in the Sky,” and “Laughter as a Strategy for Diminishing Religion.”

The irony of his writing “I’m Not a Spoiled Child Having a Temper Tantrum” is quite delicious, especially considering the fact that in other chapters, Myers brags about his plans to desecrate a communion wafer, and burying Bibles to fertilize his garden.

What Professor Myers fails to explain in his book is how other atheists might become happy without looking down in condescension toward people who believe in a supernatural God. When he proclaims “Science works. Religion doesn’t.” he’s making the tacit admission that he doesn’t really even understand the only two real alternatives from which we must choose, if we seek a glimpse of an existential Big Picture.

We don’t have a choice to make between science and religion. Science is merely a tool we use to help us form answers to our existential questions that conform to our personal worldview.

The existential questions focus on the relative probability of whether or not a creator God exists.

In other words, we must choose between God and virtually impossible, certainly not very plausible good luck.

 

 

Narcissist nurse Kaci Hickox and the Ebola quarantine

Kaci Hkaci_hickoxickox has done her good deed. She went to Africa and helped people suffering from Ebola.

Now she just wants her life to get back to normal.

Immediately. You can forget about a three week quarantine for this modern day Florence Nightingale.

The Clara Barton of the Sierra Leone made it crystal clear that no mere politician is going to tell her what to do.

She lawyer-ed up to avoid spending three weeks in isolation out of concerns for public safety because, as she put it, Governor Chris Christie isn’t a doctor.

Neither is she, but that’s beside the point. She knows what’s best for her. Screw the general public.

We’re completely irrational to be afraid that a contagious disease with a high mortality rate and for which there is no known cure has come inside our borders for the first time in American history.

Right?

I know what my problem must be — obviously, I’m just jealous.

After all, Kaci figured out a way to experience her 15 minutes of fame. The New York TimesMeet the Press. The Huffington Post. Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC. The BBC.

Even Saturday Night Live got into the act, adding to her claim to fame.

In stark contrast, I’ve written five books that have been published. Three of them even won an award, and still almost nobody knows who I am.

The best I’ve managed to do thus far was a brief interview by the American Thinker people on the Dennis Miller Radio Show and a few one-hour long interviews with Dr. Robert Rose on his web blog radio show. Pathetic, by comparison.

I haven’t even been asked to write an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News.

The irony is that Kaci obviously cares nothing about all this publicity. She just wants to ride her bike.

We’re absolutely stupid to be worried that it was reported her temperature registered 101 degrees at the airport — that was only because her hot temper matches her red hair.

When she was denied the ability to go when she pleased…after coming home from treating Ebola patients, never mind you, Ms. Hickox literally got hot above the collar.

After all, science tells us how and when it can be transmitted, and Ms. Hickox knew that she posed no public health risk.

Don’t worry about those reports her roommate in Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

If you do plan to make something of it, you’re nothing but a fear monger, and Kaci is a hero for confronting you.

Ignore those scientists who are now predicting 130 new cases of Ebola will be detected in the United States by the end of the year.

But I’ll bet Typhoid Mary didn’t like her quarantine, either.

We fools in the general public should just realize that we are not doctors — you know, medical professionals like Dr. Craig Spencer.

Remember him? He’s the genius who began to display Ebola symptoms after arriving in New York City, and yet rode the subway, drove a rental car, ate in a restaurant and even went bowling before checking himself into the hospital, for God’s sake.

And you know what they call the guy who graduates at the very bottom of his class in medical school?

Doctor.