Joe Paterno (finally) Dies

I have a feeling as to why Joe Paterno stayed as coach as long as he did – once he realized that Sullivan was unable to properly take over as coach once he retired (due to Sullivan having an undying desire to rape young boys) he realized he was stuck with coaching until he died. He probably justified it to himself by believing that after he died no one would care that a now-former underling was shooting things up where they shouldn’t have been shot.

In short, Paterno believed that his death would make things all right…but in the meantime there’s nobody left to take over the reins, so he’d better make sure things “go right” and hold down the fort until he died.

And the old coot nearly succeeded. Had they waited four-six months longer to out the news, Joe Paterno would be dead and everyone would probably have downplayed Sullivan and his actions.

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So here’s the problem: We know that the Penn State program housed, nurtured and protected a man whose main goal in life seemed to be the f*cking of young boys. A man who had had many chances to be flushed out by the leadership, yet was kept within…and even when he was forced to retire he was allowed free access to all the facilities.

We also know that the guy coached at Penn State since 1966, who was able to guide the team to bowl after bowl and brought them into the Big Ten when the time had come to become part of a conference. In short, a man who coached for as long as many of us can remember (I was born a year and a half before he coached his first game, and he had been there for a long time before then).

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Of course, whether the Penn State Football program would have been where it is now without Paterno is another question.

Looking over the list of football coaches and their records, the thing that comes to my mind is that any good coach could have come here and done well. There’s only three coaches with less than .500 records, and they constitute a grand total of 4 1/4 seasons out of 125. Even many of the one-year coaches had records of over .500. Even their first five years WHEN THEY DIDN’T HAVE A COACH was over .500. They could be considered to have spent the whole of the last century at over .500, and while there were probably a couple of seasons spent under .500 it’s obvious that those years were covered over with the coaches.

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I can’t help but wonder when Paterno knew what was going on with Sullivan. The guy had sort of become the laughing stock of the Football world, and whatever success he had had since joining the Big Ten could easily be put on the shoulders of his assistant coaches.

In the end, I’m sure there will be some rewriting of history going on. After all, Penn State has to deal with forty-five plus years of a single coach whose record rises above everyone else at PSU (at .749, he ranks higher percentage-wise over all but one coach, and that guy only coached five years) AND who allowed probably the worst crimes to happen on campus with his acceptance. It’s one hell of a whip-saw, one that those of us who stand outside the distortion-field of living within the Penn-State fandom need to be aware of as they work their way through the issues.

After all, you can’t just dismiss forty-five plus years into the black hole of illusion. Even if there’s been criminal activity embedded into it. It happened, after all, and only the NCAA thinks that they can sweep stuff under the rug.

Romney’s “Fire My Provider” Comment, SOPA and PIPA: How The Press Keeps Intentionally Missing The Boat

First, if you remember the shitstorm on Romney’s “I like to fire my provider” comment, here’s the whole thing, in context, with the important stuff in bold and italics:

I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don’t like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn’t giving the good service, I want to say, I’m going to go get someone else to provide this service to.”

Everyone focused on the “I like being able to fire people” quote because it was the easy quote to focus on. It seemed to exult in power to withhold good from someone, and had enough seeming harshness in it to beg for highlighting in the first place. Never mind that it actually tied in with the sentence before it, and was further explained further down in the same quote.

But the press seemed to go out of their way to ignore the first sentence in the above quote. I’ll drag it down below so that people can look at it closer (and yes, out of context):

I want individuals to have their own insurance.

Yes, imagine that: three hundred million people with their own separate insurance. Nothing allowed through companies, nothing where people group together in a Union, three hundred individual with a need for insurance.

And on the other side: Five insurance people with no real need to insure people, an insured profit margin to work with, and a government to do their bidding if people decide to go without.

Five major insurance givers against three hundred million people who need the insurance. And with the Federal Government forcing people to get insurance (although the court case is being looked through in the meantime), these five groups will end up having dictatorial powers over the people needing insurance if Mitt Romney has his way.

(And don’t tell me that open competition from out-of-state companies will drop prices. Already there’s a combining of companies so that health insurance companies operates in multiple states – Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield already operates in fourteen states and is probably looking to either be bought up or to buy other companies to expand their reach).

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Now, onto SOPA and PIPA:

All everyone seems to focus on is the issues of “Piracy.” As if it’s everyone’s right to listen to whatever they want and watch whatever they want without any cost to them.

Now I understand that the main entertainment companies (represented by the RIAA and the MPAA) bitching about “Intellectual Property Criminals” assume that every one of their customers (past, present, future and potential) are criminals out to steal from them blind – and that these companies tend to deserve to be ripped off. I also understand that these same companies need money to make stuff – and that, for the most part, the ability to reproduce stuff freely and at nearly no cost has caused greater problems for the smaller fish than for the larger fish. The Black Eyed Peas, those pervayors of Lowest Common Denominator pablum, do well but many other groups that don’t crush themselves into the form-fitting formats that reign now end up crawling from tour to tour.

(A word of admission here: I loved the fact that my groups were doing the above, living from tour to tour and recording like crazy…in the eighties. After a while I wanted to think that enough other people were getting what I was getting. Got that…and grew to regret it.)

But…here’s a question I’d like to you consider: Ever think that it’s not about the entertainment industry?

I remember a year or two ago, when the big issue was “Net Neutrality.” Back then service providers (Comcast, AT&T and a few other mega-providers) were trying to implement a system in which they would tightly control what people had access to. We’d get all the entertainment stuff from Disney/Fox/CBS/etc., and if we wanted more we’d either have to pay more or hack our way into hidden Internets that were busy hiding from the world.

Everyone in the internet reacted, and the providers quieted down. People thought that they had won their right to hunt down internet porn and download the latest hits heard on the radio; but the companies just hunkered down and figured out a new strategy:

Have the major content providers come up with a bill. Once it passes, we’ll be able to implement the barriers we were planning a couple years ago.

It has a couple of benefits. It shifts the focus from “access to our internet” to “prevention of piracy and theft,” thereby giving the impression of correcting a wrong. It also hides the actual plans (by one remove) from people’s minds. The people focus on the draconian measures that ISPs, Search Engines and Hosts would seemingly have to do with every complaint and misses the obvious answer from the Provider side: You can’t violate intellectual property rights if you don’t have the means to do soand the death of net neutrality by the Access Provides (AT&T, Comcast, et al) would do that in one fell swoop.

It also makes the entertainment industry look stupid (although the RIAA and MPAA go out of their way to look stupid, talking down to their customers as if they’re kids who need everlasting punishment to pay for their “sins”) and takes all eyes off the folks who were to actually carry out the law.

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Interesting that the press keeps missing what’s really going on. At some point one begins to suspect stuff…like they’re missing stuff for a reason.

I’m already doing that.

Penn State, SMU and the Death Penalty

First thing I got to say about Penn State Football: KILL IT; even if it kills off other athletics.

The simple fact is that Penn State knew about Sullivan and accepted him, proclivities and all. Which wouldn’t have been bad had he only had a thing for cute college co-eds, but his thing was for boys who had nowhere else to go but with him and his group.

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A death penalty wouldn’t even be a precedent-setting event. After all, we already have an example of a program that had something wrong going on within it and aided it: Southern Methodist University.

They had spent much time trying to make themselves a football power in the Southwest Conference back when it was a Division 1 conference, and they finally did it in the early eighties. However, the success came because of a lot of people figuring ways to get money to the football players.

As it turned out, not only was there rampant corruption, but the college leadership knew about it and aided and abetted it. They were going to do everything to get big, even if it put them at risk. They even continued paying some of their players after they promised not to, with the idea that they made promises to those players and needed to keep to their side of the bargain.

Needless to say, the NCAA went ahead and cancelled their season for 1987. 1988 was killed off as well, as there wasn’t enough of a team to play even the halfway-proper season that the NCAA allowed (seven away games).

This would eventually lead to the death of the Southwest Conference, the ascent of the Big Twelve and the major instability that is now a part of the College Football scene. It also set up a standard for the NCAA to implement the Death Penalty:

  1. The wrongdoing was so egregious (whether by length of the wrongdoing or through severity) that it couldn’t be corrected through mere apology, and
  2. The leadership of the university knew about the wrongdoing and supported it.

Needless to say, the death penalty has only been applied to side sports in smaller colleges (the death of the Southwest Conference, though probably inevitable by the time it happened, didn’t help out matters either – by making the NCAA gun-shy about applying it). Not only that, but schools have become very cooperative in the NCAA investigations, even to the point of doing pre-emptive punishments on themselves (in an attempt to avoid further punishment from the NCAA).

It also explains why nowadays when a school is accused of wrongdoing it’s always “Lack of Institutional Control” that the schools get hit for. The schools and the “alumni groups” have separated themselves well enough that the Coaches and Trustees usually have little idea what’s going on with the “support.” The school and athletic teams have their cover, and the alumni groups support their football players to the best of their ability.

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Now what happened at Penn State?

Well, in 1998 the police were already dealing with odd things with Jerry Sandusky showering with boys. In 2002 Mike McQueary saw a boy getting rutted into in the shower, when he went to Joe Paterno Joe Pa said “I wish you didn’t have to see that.” Not “what did you see,” not “You’re Kidding!,” but “I wish you didn’t have to see that.”

In the spring of 2008 Sandusky would assault a boy at a high school – and it would be spotted, and the school would BAR Sandusky from the school grounds. They would also notify the Police – something Penn State never did in its MANY years with Sandusky.

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The major thing is this: Joe Paterno, and by extension Penn State knew of wrongdoing on its campus and aided and abetted the wrongdoing. Not through supporting the guy (although with rumors of him pimping out boys throughout the state I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the trustees and/or teachers at the University had helped themselves to his offerings), but strictly by letting stuff happen to the boys on their watch.

It’s this support of wrongdoing that pushes this beyond “Lack of Institutional Control” and into the area of “Institutionally Supported Wrongdoing.” Which makes this ripe for the Death Penalty. Like SMU, another school that went so far as to directly support wrongdoing in the eighties.

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The question is: Why WON’T the NCAA pull the plug on the program?

They’re afraid of what will happen.

After all, we’re talking about a school being unable to put forth a football team for one, maybe two years – and having trouble putting a good team together after that. And while that’s just one team in a conference of twelve that spans two time zones and Seven states at its widest, Penn State reaches into some important areas, even reaching towards the Atlantic Ocean and the major markets of Philadelphia and New York.

For the NCAA, long weakened by its inability to control its biggest brands (certain college teams) until after the fact, to suddenly cut a major conference (Say what you will about how far down the Big Ten is verses the Pac Twelve, never mind the SEC, but it does hold great power) off from MAJOR markets would involve much larger balls than the governing body has. Indeed, I’ve heard that there were to form four major conferences of 16 that were to set up their own championship (complete with a built-in playoff of eight teams, one from each division of each conference), the NCAA would be dead within a couple years.

So no, Penn State will be allowed to muddle through their issues, a full member of a major conference. Even though the death penalty makes sense here.

How Apocalypses Happen: Everything Goes As “Normal”…Until It Doesn’t.

Reading up on The Archdruid Report’s latest blog – a musing on why people keep wishing for apocalypses or breakthroughs when neither is hurrying to make themselves known – I’m reminded in many ways of the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, especially in Britain.

The first collapse was the Western Empire – the section that included Spain, France (aka Gaul), Britain and Italy. Rome wasn’t spared, indeed preparations were made for the possibility that Rome would fall, including the establishment of an eastern Roman capital at the site of old Byzantium (to be known as “New Rome,” oddly enough). Still, the defenses along the Rhine held up until 405ce (0r 406ce), when the Germanic peoples finally broke through and started pillaging the Western Empire.

Probably the most interesting part of this is what happened to the British Isles. Namely, the moment the Germans broke through Britain was abandoned by the Romans. In short, everything went along (although slowly growing worse)…until it didn’t.

The troops were there…until they disappeared and never returned. Coins ran the economy…until none were minted and they were hoarded. Books were copied and read…until suddenly no one could afford the time to read them, at which point they were burnt as fuel. Pottery was made in Britain…until it wasn’t and the locals were forced to rely on their hordes and what they could get/make. Jesus Christ was Lord…until the Germanic Gods brought men from over the sea, proving themselves truly Gods. The barbarians stayed north and on Ireland…until there was nothing to hold them back.

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Sometimes change is like that. Indeed, things can go on for long periods of time while miniature apocalypses go on around everything. Rural areas become emptied until the cities around them can’t be supported, then the cities start emptying out…or maybe the cities empty out on their own. Education becomes harder to keep up, standards drop yet fewer and fewer people (even relative to a dropping population) embrace education as it becomes less and less useful. Services become crappier and crappier, yet more and more depend on them and cling to them for dear life. Religions (and branches of religions) water down their beliefs to grab more believers, yet the holy places are more and more empty and useless, occasionally being reconstructed for other purposes.

Eventually the small collapses lead to larger, then systemic collapses. The whole, which was easily defended for so long, suddenly becomes indefensible…and when the hole opens the rest falls, as all the defenses were placed at that opening. And while everyone knew things were going wrong, no one had any idea how to fix things…or indeed, how bad things were.

Many may not have seen things as wrong, or may have adapted to the situation and consigned the working past to memories of better times. Still others will have limited their memories of the past to gauzy images of mythology – all the better to handle a present that wasn’t up to now-forgotten standards and a future that looked dodgier every day.

And then…maybe not in one day, but relatively suddenly, things change.

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Now, here’s the thing: people know when things are about to fall apart. Even if the falling apart doesn’t happen in a lifetime, people can tell when things are about to fall apart.

Like the conservative and evangelical Christians. By the mid-seventies they were beginning to see the attractions of the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations, going so far as to create detailed stories as to how the book was to play out. Never mind that they had also believed in the Rapture (they’ll be taken away so as to not suffer from what the world was going through) and thus didn’t need to know what was in those books….

By now, the Christians have been joined by many groups – New-Agers who embrace 12/21/2012 as the zero-point in history (some hope for renewal, but the end of the world would be embraced as their fear is being stuck in the hell known as the present physical plane of existence), Alternative health nuts (everything from the mainstream is, by definition, wrong, everything heard from the neighbor is right, and this whole edifice better fall soon), Peak Oil Radicals (Oil will end, it will end soon, and with an extremely sudden dropoff/stop), Islamists (they get to make the world submit before God comes), Islamophobes (We’re warring against the Muslims, as the only kind Muslim is lying through their teeth about what they want) and other groups.

Evidently waiting for the end is a grind on people.

I wonder what swept through Roman Britain from 380AD through 410AD (when they were told that they were on their own by Emperor Honorius), whether they listened to Revelations and the Roman Mythologies for hope. I’m pretty sure it was much like what’s going on now around me.