On the way home from work, I heard a report on the radio about the multiple terrorist events in Paris. Apparently, over 120 were killed by explosions and gunfire in what was a very coordinated, well planned, series of attacks. Suicide bombers hit three different restaurants. Germany was playing France in a soccer match and there were 2-3 explosions outside the stadium. The bulk of the deaths took place at a rock concert in which gunmen entered, sprayed the venue with bullets, and then methodically executed people.
This occurs the day bombings in Beirut killed 43 people. This bombing was also well coordinated in the heinous way suicide bombings have evolved. Two bombs were detonated in the same area to create maximum chaos and terror.
I feel sick, empty, and numb.
Who is responsible? ISIS or ISIL or whatever they are being called took responsibility in Lebanon and I am guessing that everyone suspects them to behind the latest Paris attacks. There is bound to be a similar attack in the US. It seems inevitable. In this regard, I hope I am wrong.
I have yet to turn the television to a 24/7 news station. I am numb and not sure I want to be shocked, awed, and numbed further by gluing myself to a news source, I also wanted to react to these events without being influenced by the television journalism.
It shows the resolve and vicious intent of ISIS. They are a universal enemy to a great majority of the world. They must be stopped. I have no idea how they should be stopped, but they must be stopped. The US, France, and others have to engage them directly with ground troops. Air strikes will only do so far. We will have to ally with Russia and others to eliminate this threat to half of Islam and the rest of the world. We have to seriously look at our ally Turkey to see where their allegiance truly is.
This ISIS enemy must be treated as just that: an enemy capable of horrific acts. They have no morality or compassion of anyone that is not them. They are a serious enemy that cannot be taken lightly.
The dastardly part of these attacks is an immediate realization of how vulnerable we can be in a free society. This is nothing new to the people of Syria. They have been living this for a few years and is why they are migrating to Europe in droves. We have to defend ourselves. We have to defend ourselves from overreacting in fascist and jingoistic ways that constrict our freedoms or polarize us religiously in our own countries. That will not be easy to do especially if these kinds of attacks become more frequent.
For many it will be easy to blame the new wave of migrants. Before this there were reports that terrorists could easily be part of the wave of migration. Life will probably become much tougher for these migrants because of this Paris attack.
I am not sure what the consequences of these attacks will be. But is something that we will have to deal with. Even before the terrorism this week in Paris and Beirut, many people think the world has been increasingly more polarized, tense, and thus scary place in recent years.
Thoughts and prayers go out to those who perished and their families.
Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
The Paul Bunyan Trophy
The Little Brown Jug
The last two games were excellent examples of both the role of random shocks in this game and a test of my supposed balanced emotions. On October 17th, the Wolverines lost a heartbreaking game to the Michigan State Spartans on last play of the game. Today, October 31st, we sealed a victory on the last play of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Two weeks ago, Michigan lost a game, as they say, by "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory." The Wolverines played the Spartans tough. While MSU had more yards, time of possession, and first downs, Michigan's defense held them close. With less then two minutes left, Michigan had the ball and a well earned 23 - 21 lead. If they could get a first down, they would surely win. They didn't but were able to drain the clock down to 10 seconds. If they punted the ball deep, the would of probably won. They didn't. Instead our very good punter, Blake O'Neill who earlier in the game blasted something like an 80 yard punt, fumbled the snap. He might have fallen on the ball and State would have had 8 seconds or less for one maybe two plays from the Michigan 38. He didn't. Instead he tried to pick it up and still get the punt off. He didn't. Michigan State knocked the ball out of his hands. Jalen Watts-Jackson, a sophomore defensive back scooped up the ball and rand in for a touchdown. No need for an extra point and the final score was 27 - 23. The joy that was building on the Michigan side turned to gloom. The bitter taste of loss that motivated State fans to leave the stadium turn to joy. Everyone was shocked. MSU kept the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
There are youtubes of the play. There are youtubes of completely stunned Michigan fans and grown men crying... literally grown men crying. Meanwhile the MSU team and fans were going crazy celebrating. This is football. I have seen my share of last minute wins. Sure I was disappointed, but from the very same seats I had seen my Wolverines win last minute games against Notre Dame, Illinois, and Michigan State (a triple overtime classic). I have seen us lose to Notre Dame and Colorado. If you follow a team long enough, you will see a fair share of triumphs and tragedies on the last play.
I thought about writing about the Michigan State game. I didn't. I was busy, I did not have exactly the right angle. I knew the angle I wanted was summarized in the previous paragraph but I just didn't get to it. Maybe my heart wasn't in it. Maybe I didn't want to sound whiny. So, I didn't write a word.
The game tonight, however, motivated me. It was the Minnesota v. Michigan game. Last year, Minnesota came to Ann Arbor and shellacked the Wolverines 30-19. It wasn't pretty. The Golden Gophers won the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 2005. Earlier this week, the Minnesota Head Coach, Jerry Kill, resigned for health issues. He was a great coach who had succeeded in turning around Northern Illinois and then Minnesota. Tracey Claeys, Kill's long time defensive coordinator, took over as head coach. While Michigan was favored by 13 points, it was clear that the Golden Gophers would want to win this one for Jerry Kill. They did come prepared to play. Minnesota out rushed and out passed Michigan. The really seemed to dominate the game. Minnesota led at half-time 16-14. Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the 3rd Quarter. Minnesota added a field goal in the 4th Quarter and looked like they were going to coast to a win. Michigan's starting QB, Jake Ruddock, was hurt late in the third quarter. He was replaced by Wilton Speight who did not look very good in his first few series. Things looked dire with Minnesota having a 26 - 21 lead. Minnesota's offense seemed on fire. Their offensive line opening holes for the impressive running of Rodney Smith and protecting QB Mitch Leidner. They accumulated 144 passing yards and a whopping 317 passing yards on Leidners pinpoint throws against Michigan's vaunted defense. They looked unstoppable. The weren't. While each Michigan score was a touchdown the Michigan Defense held the Golden Gophers to three touchdowns and three field goals.
Speight settled in and engineering a drive with with 5 minutes left in the quarter for a touchdown. Michigan went for a two point conversion to prevent Minnesota from winning it with a field goal. Michigan had a 29-26 lead. Minnesota had a great drive with the clock winding down. Leidner seemed to have saved his best passes for this drive. It looked like the last pass was for a touchdown. The officials signaled such. But it wasn't. Thanks to the magic or curse of reviewed plays, the ball was placed inside the 1 yard line. The tried a pass. Michigan pressured the quarterback who threw it away. 2 seconds left. Kick the field goal and go to OT? Or go for it? Tough call. Claey chose to go for it. Bad choice. Michigan's defense dug in and stuffed Leidner's quarterback sneak. Whew... we won. We won a game we could have and maybe should have lost.
One game to the next, I experienced opposite sides of the same thing. We lost to MSU on the last heartbreaking play and we held off Minnesota to win. These kinds of last play of the game scenarios do not usually happen back-to-back. But they did.
We won a game we should have lost and we lost a game we should have one. The feelings are quite close. How's that for an angle?
- In his touchdown run, Jalen Watts-Jackson was tackled by Michigan's tight end Jake Butts who dislocated Jalen's hip which resulted in season ending broken pelvis when he fell to the ground and/or his teammates piled on him in glee. That was sad. I wish Jalen a complete recovery and a return to Spartan Football.
- Certain idiots, I cannot call them Michigan fans, threatened Blake O'Neill's life via twitter. This is also sad. I hope these folks seek therapy and can eventually rejoin normal society.
- The Little Brown Jug is the oldest rivalry trophy in College Football. Michigan has won it a majority of the time leading the series 74-25-3. The last time Minnesota won it at home was in 1977. The last time they won it in consecutive seasons was 1961 and 1962.
- There were three other games I saw parts of that were decided on the last play of the game. Notre Dame beat a feisty and determined Temple team 24 -20 with a game ending interception. Washington State missed a game ending field goal to lose to Stanford 30-28. The biggest last play, perhaps in a decade, was in the Duke v. Miami game. Duke took the lead 27-24 with a few seconds on the clock. They kicked off to Miami who had a crazy, amazing, seven lateral return that ended up in a game winning touchdown. Great games. I enjoyed watching them but... without the emotional involvement of living and dying for any of these teams, it was just really great entertainment.