Archive for February 2nd, 2004

Confessions of an Unrepentant Labelizer


In an earlier posting entitled "Who
are the Deaniacs?
we reported and expanded on a discussion begun at the Thursday Berkman
Blogger’s Meetings on just how to refer to the wellspring of enthusiastic
support discovered early in the Dean campaign. In order to describe the
demographic, in order to discuss and consider where it will go and who
it will support after the political demise of Dr. Dean, we need to label

Or do we? In response to our posting a relative flood of comments came
in from Dean supporters (in the meager microcosm of the Dowbrigade, a
half-dozen comments is a virtual flood) castigating us for needing to put a label
on something in order to delineate and intellectually dominate it.

Well, we get your deconstructionist drift, but beg to differ.  The
Dowbrigade teaches English for a living, and practically worships the
language, when well used. And what is language, after all, but a system
of labeling things, creating words for things, ideas, forces? There is
something magical and powerful in the naming of an object, and those
entrusted with the naming have a raw terrible power to define our reality.

We not only may, but we MUST consciously participate in the process
of affixing labels to the things that matter most in our worlds. Decrying
the process of labeling will not stop the labels from being affixed and
used, just cede labeling rights to the media monopoly. Without simple
labels for complex concepts, we cannot talk about ideas, and without
talking about ideas we have zero chance of figuring a way out of the
mess we’re in.

The role of political punditry back through Thomas Paine to Titus Livius
is in conceptualizing the spirit of an age into words which can cause
them to resonate, in an almost viral way, in the popular consciousness,
beyond the physical reach of their protagonists or intellectual authors.
Memes are just coordinated conjunctions of labels. So careful what you
call me, pard, cuz there’s more in a name than meets the eye.

Gen-Mod Animal of the Day



At a Bloggers Vegan pig-out at Grasshopper’s, the topic arose of why people who would never wear fur have no problem with leather shoes, belts or interiors for their beamers. Jessica remarked that it’s hard to cuddle up to a cow. Not now. We love the world,

Smells Like School Spirit


Dowbrigade salutes college hockey as one of the last bastions of all
that was once good about American collegiate sports, an endangered balance
of raw athletic talent, pure athletic competition, authentic academic
endeavor, and the wild card possibility of becoming rich and famous in
the fabulous world of professional sports. The game is fast and furious,
the skill level high, and the athletes are real college students, not
minor-league professionals looking to get to the bigs as quickly as

College football has become a moneymaking machine, eating up big, strong
kids from across America and spitting out a few sparkling, hardened jewels
along with legions of broken bodies, skewered psyches and wasted lives.  Graduation
rates are criminally low and the kids themselves are used, abused, and

College basketball is even more of a joke, with non-existent academic
standards and daily news of recruiting scandals, sex parties, players
arrested for bizarre crimes, and coaches flipping out or getting fired.
Drugs are reportedly rampant, and not just among the players. More than
any other single sport, basketball is responsible for robbing an entire
generation of African-Americans of their doctors and lawyers and architects
and politicians, talented and dynamic young men seduced by ghetto culture
and the cruelly unrealistic dream of superstardom into trading their
futures for a handful of costume bling-bling by spending tens of thousands
of hours polishing hoops moves rather than preparing for the SAT.

But hockey, somehow, retains a purity and promise now sorely missing
from most big-time college sports.  It is passingly ironic that
in hockey, known as a somewhat brutal and blue-collar sport, a higher
percentage of professional players have finished college than in football
and basketball, and a higher percentage of NCAA varsity players overall
graduate. And they have actual majors, and take real courses, in anticipation
of an eventual career off the ice. Kinda reminds the Dowbrigade of his
own days as an intercollegiate athlete, occasionally attending class
by day, tending bar at night, while defending the honor of his school
on the target shooting circuit as a member of the Rifle Team.

Tonight is the first round of the annual Boston Beanpot hockey tournament
between the Four Powers of Northeastern college hockey. Boston College,
the Ecclesiastic cloister down Comm Ave., Harvard (full disclosure: Dowbrigade’s
alma mater), BU (ibid, Dowbrigade’s current employer) and Northeastern
face off at the Fleet Center for a bucket of beans. Then next Monday
night the two winners of tonight’s game will play for all the beans.

We just heard the score of the first game – Boston University 5, Northeastern
2.  The nightcap between Harvard and BC is going on now.  We
told our students to tune in if they get cable, on the theory that hockey
is much easier to understand than American Football.  As a famous
sportswriter whose name escapes me once said when asked how to watch
a hockey game. "Just follow the puck."

from AP

The Countdown Begins


Nineteen teaching days until the start of the Great Experiment.

Janet Challenges Michael for Jackson Black Sheep Award


readers familiar with the Dowbrigade’s predilection for well-formed female
breasts will no doubt be unsurprised to learn that we have been unable
to resist posting on the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident.

Was it a prearranged stunt? An honest accident? A coincidence Justin
Timberlake was involved? Just how many more priceless headlines can we
dare hope for from one family?

The accompanying photo is rather disappointing, but we have as yet untapped
resources and favors to call in. Your tireless reporter promises to track
down the definitive cleavage closeup soon so that each of you can judge yourself.
There were only about a million flashbulbs going off, someone must have
gotten a keeper.

story from AP

Hero or Goat For Life


Seldom in the history of professional sports has a single
kick meant so much to so many. It is clearly a testiment to the exaggerated
importance of this power-mad sport that the result of that single kick,
at approximately 10:35 last night, not only to the New England Patriots
and their millions of fans, but to the point of actually defining the
remaining years on this planet of the kicker, Adam Viniteri.

Vinitieri, hero of Superbowl XXXVI when he kicked a 48-yard field goal
in New Orleans with no time on the clock giving the Patriots their first championship, strode
onto the field destined to be the greatest kicker in Superbowl history,
or to enter that infernal fraternity along with Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner
and Grady Little; atheletes who have denied Beantown teams their rightful
places in the sunshine of sports glory.  All or nothing, heaven
or hell, black or white.  America loves a winner, and losers should
slink back under their roicks, in some cases, for the rest of their lives.

The Ultimate Game was tied, with 6 seconds left on the clock, when
Vinitieri lined up that fateful kick. He had already missed two field
goals in their first quarter of the game; one was a 31-yard chip shot
he sliced badly to the right, the other  an easy make he failed
to get over the heads of the onrushing Carolina linemen, let alone over
their ourtreatched arms. Had he missed a third consecutive attempt, at
that crucial junction, and had the Panthers gone on to win the game in
overtime (and who can deny they had the momentum and the mojo going in
their direction after scoring with little over a minute left), Adam Vinitieri’s
name would have been worse than mud this morning.  His name would
become curse words in these parts, and his athletic career would have
been, for all effects and purposes, over and done with. In a very real
and painful way, for the rest of his live, even if the lived to be 100,
he would be known as the guy who missed three field goals in the Superbowl.

Instead, he is the hero, the savior, the greatest kicker in Superbowl
history.  Is this right? Is it just? How far gone are we when
the trajectory of a kicked pig bladder can define the trajectory of a
career and the life of a man?

Perhaps we should just let the team and its fans bask in the glory of
their accomplishment.  But let us not forget – it’s just a game.

article from the
Boston Globe