Crapping in your drawers at the *merest mention* of no football

Ranking schools tends to be both hideously subjective and biased, and therefore, bull crap, at just about any level you choose to do it. But a writer with the WashPo decided to start looking at some of the top-ranking programs in their index of high school at what they might all find in common, and on a whim, he asked if they had an 11-person football team. 67 of the top 100 didn’t.

Before I start I should say that I agree he doesn’t show a trend; I agree he hasn’t eliminated lots of other possible explanations. I would also point out that journalists don’t. That’s why they are journalists and not social scientists. The howls from the comments are, however, over the top, as the Big Brainz of the internet hand out lectures on research design to this guy/crap in their panties at the *MERE MENTION* that football isn’t the greatest thing that was ever great in the greatest greatest great thing for students to do list.

Um yeah. No intellectual problems there. One of the first rules of research might be to examine yourself when you have that reaction (hello, transit) to the suggestion that something isn’t as wonderful as you think it is. “OMG YOU CAN TOTES HAVE A GREAT ATHLETIC PROGRAM AND ACADEMICS” they howl. Of course, it’s possible. But it’s also possible that, for schools of limited size and resources, they really can’t invest in football and are better off with sport programs that require fewer resources than football. It may be the exalted position of football in American society leads school management to begin to emphasize those programs disproportionately; the parents and students become overly focussed on the sport instead of on health and play when they invest in football, whereas nobody really cares of your water polo team sucks as long as the kids get exercise and have fun and everybody is merely pleasantly surprised if your girls volleyball team has a fabulous season. It may be the male-worshipping culture of football isn’t all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips for creating more supportive (since this high school, read “less sociopathic”) peer relationships in school where female physical activity and male physical activity are treated like…activities….instead of male physical activity being treated as The Most Important Thing Ever.

It strikes me as perfectly reasonable to ask what a small school might gain by eliminating an activity where they will always be at a disadvantage in favor of pursuing things that might matter to them more.

How the internet ruined Christmas

Attention Conservation Notice: the Internet makes it impossible for us to pretend to know that we don’t secretly hate each other.

In the department of theories entirely uninformed by empirical work, I has a theory.

The Internet has actually ruined the world, I’ve decided, not just Christmas, but here’s how this works: there were racists and leeeebeeeerals and conservatives and people who do things you hate all prior to the internet. But prior to the Internet, and Rush Limbaugh, you could hate the other in the privacy of your own home, never realizing that you, yourself, were the object of somebody else’s hate. You could jibber jabber about the other’s badness among those who thought like you and acted like you and had the same values as you, and there was no record of the conversation expect in the memory of speakers–no transcript or log of internet comments and tweets that could be debated and hashed and rehashed endlessly among the unsympathetic. We could then put on a pretty, hypocritical face at work or at schools in the name of living together in some semblance of peace and quiet. Not perfect peace and quiet. But some, in following the rule of “don’t discuss politics or religion.”

The internet, except for shopping and pictures of cute animals and kids, is like a giant conversation about politics and religion that never shuts up. And in that conversation, it is inevitable that, no matter who you are, you will discover that there is a group of people–a not inconsequentially large group of people, who hate you. The values you were raised with. The positions you hold now. Your atheism. Your religion. Your face. Your weight. Your anything. I guarantee there is somebody who hates it, and that person can’t shut up about it, and the internet gives them an archived platform. At the outset of the digital age, we worried that we would lose content. Now we know we can’t lose content, even when we’d be better off doing so.

And you hate back because that’s a pretty natural response, and if it isn’t, it is after you’ve read the 1000000th comment about how fat bitch feminists should be raped for daring to suggest that human trafficking in unacceptable.

It’s hard to be civil when you know somebody actually hates you.

Rush Limbaugh was the first time I really understood that, no, my Republican relatives (on Andy’s side) weren’t passionate about their views and that’s why they never left me alone during holidays. I was brought up with the don’t discuss politics idea, at least not until it was a safe topic. But no, these folks, like Rush Limbaugh, actually hated my guts. It was personal. I sat through this nonsense for several years until I was trapped with a limo driver listening to Rush Limbaugh, and I finally got a clue: Rush Limbaugh and the people who listen to him actually hate me, and the rest of my family, including my sweet dad, who was a Democratic politician (and community servant) for many years. So Andy’s tireless uncle wanted to discuss politics to bully, badger, and diminish me. He didn’t care if he ruined my Thanksgiving; in fact, he probably enjoyed it. After all, I and people “like me” had ruined his country. So. I stopped going. It’s easy to do in a world where we are flung far and wide and our material security depends on corporate salaries and not family cohesion. And, besides, that’s what he wanted, anyway, except that it probably takes away from his bloodsport.

Before the various universes of the user-created content on the inter web, we would have just celebrated Christmas, discussing our plans with people whose plans and values were likely to be similar. Person X could have his big religious hoo-ha, I could have my quiet secular meal with a few friends, and X could look down on me (in non-recorded comments with those who were like-minded) how people like me were going to hell. X would think that my refusal of his religion was a snub and an implicit judgment of X and his religion, which it is–after all, we all think our choices are better or else we would make the choices we do–and I would think X and people like X are sanctimonious and rather silly. But the evidence of those attitudes would be fleeting, instead of shoved in our respective faces via internet memes 100 times an hour and on our radios and televisions from people who generate opinions as content.

We’ve created in the internet an echo chamber for our differences with no way of reconciling them.

Santa, Krampus, and Social Symbols

My favorite tweet on SantaGate was:

Stephen King @StephenKing 17 Dec
Does it matter if Santa is white or black or green, as long as he brings the presents? Come on, guys, get a life.

Yes, get a life, indeed, and by all means, let’s focus on my presents! However, contesting social symbols for political ends is a pretty long tradition, as this entry on the Krampus from National Geographic indicates:

Krampus’s frightening presence was suppressed for many years—the Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations, and fascists in World War II Europe found Krampus despicable because it was considered a creation of the Social Democrats.

…not because he is a demon that beats kids or anything. Yosh.