Bowling Green Falcons football

Reddit’s u/OptimisticRealist__ posted something about ‘Coach Prime’ and it reminded me what I wanted to talk about (that particular day was an odd, odd day.) This post is an edited version of that Reddit comment.

Like most of us English I’ve never been exposed to US College football so I was surprised by what happened after I spent time trying (and failing!) to absorb some of the talk in the r/Browns subreddit about our possible choices in the 2022 NFL College player Draft.

I’d decided a few days ago to pick a team. It’s… (don’t laugh) the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Falcons. They play in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) East division. I say don’t laugh because I could have easily picked national powerhouse Ohio State and get more news and more chance to see a BGSU player play in the NFL, couldn’t I!

There are a lot of parallels in today’s BGSU with the main reasons I became a Browns fan. A rebuilding team, a young team, and they hosted the only college game I ever saw live (during the 2004 trip I keep mentioning in r/Browns.)

The biggest issues I have though will be obvious to most of you:

• There’s not much film out there, and I can’t see a way of guaranteeing I get to see games live on TV.

• From what I’ve read there aren’t too many chances to see BGSU players in the draft or even bowl games.

Issues partially addressed:

• I found the Unofficial BGSU Sports Archive (a YouTube video channel) - but I’d love to know if there are other recent video archives. (Not bootleg as such, but I’m open to suggestions.)

• I’ve seen ESPN+ might have games but I’ve absolutely no idea if BGSU is on the UK channel’s radar. Not expecting help here, I might need to contact the channel directly (and hope I get a helpful customer service rep.)

• I’ve subscribed to Reddit's r/BGSUFB (and introduced myself) and r/MidAmerican in the hope I’ll gain a few insights before the season kickoff.

So that’s it. Apart from not remembering the team’s uniform colours 17 years after my visit (but being pleasantly surprised they’re orange, brown and white) tsk!

Micro

In March 1981 the Sinclair ZX81 computer launched. I bought one at the end of the year.

Also at the end of 1981, the BBC Micro computer launched. I bought one of those a year or two later (after using a Commodore VIC-20.)

I used the Beeb all my spare time, programming in BBC Basic, Forth, Pascal, 6502 Assembler, and created a number of electronic devices briefly referred to elsewhere in this blog… It was an awesome time, before computing devices were commonplace, ubiquitous, and thus taken for granted.

It’s now March 2021, 40 years after my first computer arrived. Yesterday, after playing with the simulator on my iPhone I ordered a BBC micro:bit computer (and a third-party STEM electronics sensors/development board) for delivery this very afternoon.

Sure having only a 5×5 LED matrix and beeper means it’s limited without external devices, sure it’s not an Arduino microcontroller or Raspberry Pi general purpose computer. But I can write and test micro:bit programs on my phone – no external keyboard or mouse or screen are needed, no Internet connection is required, no cassette tapes or diskettes or memory cards are necessary.

It’s already getting me back to the feeling I had when I started computing, but it’s all just… easier.

Character

(Originally composed – if that’s what one can call this – in June 2019.)

Everything below the line is presented without comment; it’s entirely unnecessary:

Someone [I believe on Quora] asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?”

Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response:

“A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

* You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

little donnie 2 scoops’ last day in the White House

In case no-one already said this, there will be no histrionics or mean-spiritedness during the trump family’s last day in the White House; donnie’s departure will be televisually stage-managed to perfection to make it look as if he’s been both in control and statesmanlike throughout the last 5 years. The crowd outside, this time, this time, really will be the biggest ever (all-masked, but that’s not important right now) gathering to fill the public spaces around Washington DC.

Heck, he will say a few rational and coherent words as he shakes Joe’s and Jill’s hands with a firm (but not too firm) grip whilst the trumps copy the Obamas’ departing grace, poise, sense of decorum, call it what you will.

Melanie won’t swat his hand away on the easy walk down the steps before crossing to the waiting helicopter as the band plays; donnie will salute the Marine before turning and effortlessly climbing the steps and, as he casually lets down the umbrella, he’ll lift his heel to show his shoe’s complete absence of toilet paper.

And this is what people will remember, it really will be this good.

Fark knows they’ll have the time to rehearse, to get it right; even a complete idiot could copy a century-old playbook, am I right?

Blocked

A followup to my Mos Eisley post.

Just had to block some local t*ts in the local Facebook group. I asked a simple question and he and his mates decided to take the piss out of a typo I made. And then, when I happened to mention someone possibly had a personal tragedy this afternoon, one decided to start calling me names. Really, a grown man with a family. Classy.

For some, Facebook is a personal playground. How lacking must their lives be when they feel the need to insult complete strangers? I’m sure they don’t THINK they’re trolling, but…

Oh yeah, not one of them answered my question, they didn’t know.

Anyway, it’s not a normal day here when 3 fire engines, 2 police vans and an ambulance pass by, all with lights and sirens. An hour later the ambulance left without lights, and I’m hoping for the best.

*One is a Covid denier, mask refuser, fancies himself a wit… I should have seen it coming.

Mos Eisley?

A post intended for my village’s Facebook group, not yet a wretched hive of scum and villainy:

There’s a style of discussion that relies on ‘ad hominem’ arguments*; yes I am indeed attempting to use Latin in my own village discussion group. In a nutshell it’s employed as a blunt force attack on a person rather than picking apart their position using logic, careful thought, and crucially, respect.

And here’s the thing, I’m seeing a lot of actual intolerance here. Rather than understanding others, there’s a lot of piling on when faced with differences of perspective.

For instance, anyone who complains about the noise of fireworks or speeding cars acquires a label and with it comments along the lines of ‘it doesn’t affect me on the other side of the village, so why should I care?’ and ‘what are you, the thought/fun police’ and…

It fails to take into account shift worker sleep patterns, those unwell, sensitive pets, children, those who live alone and dare not complain about antisocial behaviour…

I’ve seen entire posts (yes I’m guessing) removed by their originators thus ending the discussion, posts locked to prevent further debate, and comments selectively deleted – all because the level of narrow-mindedness displayed exceeds the capacity of the group member to deal with it.

Sure some are because the outcome isn’t entirely what the poster expected, but in the main it’s mean-spirited reaction comments that are the killers here.

So what do I want?

Simply this: instead of finding every single view contrary to your own so utterly objectionable that stabbing at the keyboard is your only release, remember where you live.

Then remember where the object of your scorn lives.

I can’t be arsed making up a hashtag of local solidarity, so over to you.


*From Wikipedia: Ad hominem, short for argumentum ad hominem, is a term that refers to several types of arguments, most of which are fallacious.

Drafty

It’s done. On Friday I became a first-time participant in a 16 team Fantasy NFL (American Football) league; Friday was ‘Draft’ day.

I’d asked our Topeka, KS, USA colleagues about some level of participation last year, and a couple of us Brits got an invite. It’s also way outside my comfort zone.

I mentioned there are 16 teams in my league because it’s unusual to have more than 10 or 12. Each player has as many rounds to choose what they consider the best squad of 16 players from the available pool. For 10 teams, from a pool of a couple of thousand players, that’s 10 rounds x 16 players = 160. For 16 teams it’s 16 rounds x 16 players = 256!

Because of the way this league draft format works, in the first round I drafted 5th. When the 16th player has picked they pick again and the order reversed so the 15th, 14th, etc. pick until the previous number 1 is reached. It’s supposed to bring fairness, ensure the last to pick isn’t disadvantaged in each round.

I found that past the late mid rounds though I’d heard of so few players I had to leave my script and pick by anticipated 2020 points. The talent drops off very quickly after the early rounds, so a lot of the squad is likely to be there in case of injury, suspension, or for covid-related reasons.

Now Yahoo’s post-draft analysis placed me 5th overall with a B- grade. Even though I’m it won’t translate into an easy season (2nd highest strength of opposition) I’m pretty pleased to be honest; even the League Commissioner, an experienced (Platinum!) fantasy league player remarked on how few players they knew in the later rounds.

Here are my tips for success:

  • Concentrate on which players remain rather than who’s been stolen from you.
  • Chat with other participants if you must, but keep an eye on the approaching snake so you don’t have to rush.
  • Don’t be too chatty and give anything away that could be used against you tactically as the season progresses. (Like this entire blog post?)
  • Keep an eye on ‘bye’ weeks. The real league has 16 teams in a 17- week season so teams have a week not playing in real life. So there’s a reason their bye week number is quite prominent one every player’s listing – they won’t score points.)

If you’ve got this far you’ve probably already worked out that yes, after about an hour into the process I ignored the basic stuff, all of it. And it’s such a short list!

Week 8: 4 players on a bye. It’s ok, not time to panic.

Week 7 though, now that is an absolute triumph of noob ineptitude. 3/4 through the draft overall and with 4 out that week already I took *time* to pick. I also made the mistake of telling one of the other participants.

And then… yup, 2 consecutive rounds of panic, picking half-decent players but both with byes in week 7. Six out in one week!! How the fark does that happen?

Beers? I had beers. It’s all I can think of to explain where it all went a bit wrong.

It has to be said that I also forgot my mock draft strategy and missed out on a second TE. And, er… did I mention it was on Friday night, just before Ryquell Armstead’s covid-positive news dropped? But he’s on my bench, so no point in over-reacting right now.

This is my squad: (link to imgur screenshot)

One thing that some people say at a time like this: “I took longer choosing my team name than preparing to choose players.” In fantasy NFL that statement is, as I found out a week or two ago, a load of old bollocks!

So, my team name? Baz’s Kardiac Mids. (Cleveland Browns fans of a certain age will get this reference, but for anyone else there’s this.)

If it sounds as though I know what I’m talking about I’ll add one final thing, should I have added an asterisk to ‘pretty pleased’ above?

I now need to check the Waiver Wire.

Yes, another learning experience!

One-way

Just got back from Waterstones with daughter 2, buying birthday books for her friends. There’s a one-way system in the shopping precinct with barriers and floor stickers, so it’s obvious where to walk to comply with common-sense Covid precautions – unless one has one’s head up one’s arse…

A retired guy and his wife walk against us, so I smile and point it out, literally “‘scuse me mate, there’s a one-way system.” She changes direction, walks around out of our path; it was easy, they’d only just turned in.

He though, mask under his chin, continues walking and snarls at me, “it doesn’t fucking matter,” so I stopped him with a swift northern dismissal and wished him dead.*

Ok, just that last bit is a lie, I didn’t tell him I wished him dead, I don’t know if he’s insured and if his wife can be free of what I inferred from that fleeting moment.

But it does matter, it really really does.**


* I’d have loved to have given him a piece of my mind, but him swearing with my daughter there it was plain there’s no room in his mind for anything but selfishness and hate. So I think I’ll have a mug of tea (3 sugars) and move right on.

** I wore my new Cleveland Browns mask. Steamy windows syndrome with this one!

XXII

This post was originally drafted on January 26 2020 with the intention to post around Super Bowl time. I can’t recall what happened to keep it in near-oblivion.


On January 31, 1988, the NFL’s Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII (number 22, to those Roman-numerically challenged.)

Now this was the first time I’d watched American Football, let alone a Super Bowl. I think it’s important to know that it was a period during which I watched as many diverse sports as I could, perhaps to be the first in my immediate family to find and then ‘belong’ to a club? Who knows.

Puzzled throughout the whole of the game I nevertheless found something that resonated with my mood at the time. I must have been distracted by something though, I honestly thought that an ‘Elway’ was a type of play, much as an ‘up and under’ kick in rugby was referred to as a ‘Garryowen’. Anyway, silly as it sounds now, I ‘found’ a sport I could get behind.

I bought books, watched as much as I could on the UK’s TV during the following season, and picked a team to follow at the end of Super Bowl XXIII: The San Francisco 49ers.

It was an easy choice to make, their Super Bowl XXIII 20-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and their 55-10 demolition of the Denver Broncos a year later, we’ll, it’s easy to climb on the bandwagon isn’t it.

The ‘Threepeat’ attempt the year after that and, like any fair weather fan I decided to pick a new team, The 1-15 Dallas Cowbows (much like my Cleveland Browns) seemed a perfect fit, for how could they get any worse during the rebuilding process with a new owner, head coach, rookie quarterback…?

Incidentally, I didn’t just choose the Browns after their 1-15 season following their 0-16 season, look elsewhere here for that ‘why’.

I’ve wondered why it took me until 2016 to even consider AFC teams worthy of my time, but it recently figured it out; it’s the AFC vs NFC thing.

The NFC’s 49ers won XIX in 1984. AFC teams failed in every subsequent Super Bowl right up to the Denver Broncos’s long-awaited triumph in XXXII that’s 1998, that’s 13 successive NFC wins.

Ok, the AFC vs NFC thing?

It’s the American Football Conference vs the National Football Conference.

First, a hundred years ago this season, came the NFL, the National Football League. Ok, it was predated by college and amateur leagues but professional sports are always the biggest draw right? Well no, college football is BIGGER than the NFL!

Eventually a rival league big enough to challenge the NFL, the AAFC – the All-America Football Conference – was formed, and with it my Cleveland Browns. But the new league really couldn’t thrive in the shadow of the bigger one and eventually was absorbed by it.

For most of the AAFC’s life and for some time after the 1949 merger the Browns were THE dominant team… But that’s now 70 years ago, and there aren’t many who’d say that about the Browns now.

I don’t care; we’ve a new coach, a new staff is being assembled, and we’ve got the players to make something interesting happen. So what if my 2021 Super Bowl prediction might be a year delayed!