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Last night’s Daily Show addressed the issue of whether or not student athletes should get paid.  This is not a new issue.  People have been arguing about this for years and will most likely continue to argue about it for many years to come.  But I needed a topic for today’s blog and I couldn’t think of anything else.

The basic argument for paying student athletes is that student athletes bring in a lot of money for colleges and universities because of their athletic abilities, and they should therefore be monetarily compensated for that contribution.  There are many variations on this argument as well as a number of other arguments people use to argue for monetary compensation for student athletes.  But most arguments stem from this basic idea that universities are making huge sums of money on the backs of their athletes, but the athletes (those doing the work) are not seeing the monetary fruits of their labor.

I’m actually not going to tell you where I stand on this issue.  But you might be able to figure it out.

Many think the NCAA should change their rules to allow universities to pay their athletes.  But what would this look like if it happened?  I have a huge list of questions.  Here are just some of them:

  • If universities were allowed to pay their athletes where would that money come from?  Solely from the money generated from athletics or would they be allowed to draw from a larger pool of university funds?
  • Which athletes would get paid and how would that be determined?  Do you have to pay the tennis team or the swim team?  Do other sports get paid as much as the football and basketball players?  Does the third string kicker get as much as the star quarterback?  What would the pay scales look like?  Who makes this decision?
  • Would this just apply to Division 1 athletes or would Division 2 and 3 athletes also get paid?  Does this apply to both public and private schools?
  • How would recruitment work?  Wouldn’t the big schools with the most money just end up dominating every sport because they can pay students more?
  • Would students then be allowed to also sign endorsement deals becuase they would no longer be amateur athletes, but professionals?
  • How would all of this change the educational goals and standards of the universities?

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there.  What additional questions can you think of.  Where do you stand on this issue?

This morning I taught a class on rap and religion.  This is a topic within religious studies where I am almost entirely ignorant.  I don’t listen to very much rap/hip hop and my research interests don’t usually involve the intersection of pop culture and religion.

So, here’s how it went: I managed to mix up Ice Cube and Ice-T and admitted I had no idea what the difference was between rap and hip hop.  Overall though, it was a good discussion and the students seemed interested, even though they clearly knew more about this topic than me.  I told them to write songs up on the board and we would play a few and then discuss the religious/social aspects of each song/video.  That worked out pretty well because they got to hear songs they suggested and wanted to hear.  The students are more of the experts on this subject than I am so I was happy to let them direct part of the direction of the class.

At the end of class I told them some people think Jay-Z is a member of the Illuminati and a number of students nodded their heads indicating they had heard this before.  Then, after class, a student approached me and asked me about lizard people.  I guess my “Jay-Z is a member of the Illuminati” comment was perceived as an open door to ask me about weird stuff.  I was actaully able to talk to him about lizard people a little because that is the sort of stuff my officemates talk about and I can’t help but pick up on some of it.

With all the rain we’ve been getting lately the ducks have decided to move in and take over.

This morning, while picking up my drycleaning (I do things like that now because I’m an adult), I saw a duck outside the store paddling around in a puddle created by the recent rainfall.  Then, when I got to the office this morning a duck was waddling around the courtyard.  It looked like the same duck.  They all look the same to me (duck racism!).

With all the recent rainfall I’m worried that not only will all the worms die off (see yesterday’s post), but that the worms will soon be replaced by an evergrowing number of ducks.  I have nothing against ducks.  I have many fond memories of feeding the ducks at my grandparent’s house when I was growing up.  My problem is that ducks feel like they can go anywhere they want with no restrictions on their movements.

We have deer crossing signs that limit the movement of deer so that we humans don’t come into conflict with them.  We should do the same with ducks.  I see ducks all over Coralville and Iowa City, and I have yet to see a duck crossing sign.  Without these signs the ducks feel like they can go wherever they want whenever they want.  If we don’t start placing restrictions on the growing duck population now who knows what will happen.

We’ve received a lot of rain in the past few days.  And there has usually been a period of sunshine and a temperature increase following each rainfall.  All this changing weather has had a negative impact on the local worm population.

Now that it is finally warmer out and the ground is no longer frozen all the worms have been wiggling about and doing wormy things again (like eating dirt and being slimy).  But when it rains the worms get upset and come above ground to get out of their rain-filled worm homes.  They wiggle onto the pavement so that they don’t drown.  But then the sun comes out and they get baked onto the pavement.

This has now happened two days in a row.  I fear that if this weather trend continues there will be no more worms left in Iowa; all the robins will die and little kids will have to find other things to dare each other to eat.  Soon there won’t be any worms left in nature.  We’ll have to go to worm zoos like this one to see a real live worm:

SAVE THE WORMS!!!!

My office computer is haunted.  There are many mornings (or afternoons) when I come into the office and my computer is on.  I make sure to turn my computer off when I leave each night, so somehow it is coming back on before I come back in in the morning/afternoon.

I’ve even noticed this happening while I’m in the office.  I’ll often shut it down only to find that it has restarted itself a few minutes or hours later.  One time my computer actually restarted itself immediately after I shut it down (no, I didn’t accidently hit “restart” instead of “shutdown”).  My officemates have commented on these strange occurances as well, so it’s not just me.

My computer also has a habit of breathing while it is off.  It will occasionally whir to life for a brief moment just so it can emit a quick sigh, and then it returns to its dormancy.

My computer is alive.  This worries me because I am typing this post on it right now, so I assume that it is aware that I know that it is alive.

We all know how this ends people:

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Last night I finally got around to watching the most recent episode of my new favorite TV show, Splash.  I’m sure you are just dying to read all about it, so here’s what happened:

The show began with a very over-the-top introduction (mostly a bunch of oddly dressed divers doing syncronized/clustered diving), culminating in a belly flop from the 10 meter platform.  There were a number of syncronized swimming interludes just before commercial breaks throughout the episode as well.

The big news of the episode was that Chuy is out with a broken heal and they had to bring in an alternate, Brandy Chastain.  If you don’t know, Brandy Chastain is a famous American World Cup soccer player (she’s most famous for taking her shirt off after winning the 1999 World Cup).  She flew in a few hours before the show and no one had seen her dive yet.  Apparently she had been training on her own as an alternate just in case another contestant had to leave for whatever reason.

What I didn’t pay attention to in the first episode was the brilliant intro songs each diver gets as they enter the pool area.  Part of the lyrics to Brandy’s was “she used to play soccer, now she’s hitting the water.”  Brilliant.

When interviewed just before her dive by the host who isn’t Joey Lawrence, she said, “I have low expectations.”  That’s the attitude!  She went a bit over on her dive but, as the judges pointed out, she was the first diver in the competition to do a hurdle approach, which is a standard front approach in diving.  She got an overall score of 7 from the judges.  I’m guessing her low score was because she actually attempted a real dive and didn’t have any obvious handicaps to overcome.

After her dive they went to commercial and I saw an ad for the best new TV show, “Bet on Your Baby,” where the creators of the show have toddlers perform simple tasks and the parents of these children then bet on whether they believe their child will be able to perform the task.  Idiocracy is happening people.  This is the world we live in now.

The second diver was Drake Bell, who I’ve never even heard of.  His intro song included the line, ” You should be scared as hell.  I’m gonna ring your bell.”  Again, brilliant.

He actually did a pretty decent dive except for the entrance and got an overall score of 7.75.  He was really the first diver to point their toes and keep their legs together.    One of the judges gave him a 7.5  because he thought he could do better.  Again, it appears as if the judging is not based on what you actually did, but on your potential, which is a terrible way to judge people in a competition like this, in my opinion.

The next diver was Nicole Eggert, from Baywatch.  Just before she was about to dive they repeatedly showed her her pre-dive screw up in which she awkwardly fell off the platform.  She naturally freaked out a little bit after watching that just before she was about to attempt the exact same dive.

She did some sort of hand stand into a dive thing that’s not actually a real dive and got a 7.75 score.  The stated reason for her high score, from both judges, was her courage in getting up there after her earlier flop.  Again, because she got back up on the board, not because she dove well.

The fourth diver was Ndamukong Suh, who everyone called Suh becuase no one wanted to attempt to pronounce his name.  He plays the fooseball for the Detroit Lions.

He did the show’s first inward dive (pike position) with a pretty bad entry.  He got a 6.75.  They gave him a lower score because they though he could do better and because he dove from too low of a board.  Height matters in this competition.

The last diver was Kendra Wilkinson, who is famous for dating Hugh Hefner and having boobs.  She was very open and honest about her fame.  At one point she stated that she wasn’t sure why she is famous and admitted that she doesn’t actually do anything.  She does not get along with Greg Louganis because she has a fear of heights and he seems to think she doesn’t, but pretends to to get attention.  He’s probably right.

She actually did a pretty decent inward dive in the tuck position and got a 7.75.  She was definetely overdramatic about the whole thing.  Her score seems to be because of the fear factor and “what you went through,” according to the judges.

Brandy and Ndamukong were in the bottom two and had to do a dive off to determine who would be leaving.  By the way, these two are the only two professional athletes who dove in this episode.

Then, Joey Lawrence said “do or dive.”  Pure genius.

Brandy did a pretty good inward pike dive from the 3 meter and Ndamukong repeated his earlier inward pike dive, but didn’t really do it any better than the previous attempt.  So they both did the same dive, but Brandy’s was clearly better.

Both the judges admitted that Brandy’s dive was way better but said they saved her from elimination because she had more potential.  The Aussie judge even said that Brandy did better “purely on quality of dive” (which is how judging dives should work in a rational dive-judging world that this show apparently refuses to exist in).

Upon being eliminated Ndamukong left us with these parting words: “It’s time to go to real work.”  He will be missed.

A few of us graduate students in the Religious Studies Department are going up to Minneapolis/St. Paul this weekend to deliver papers at the Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion regional conference.  A number of us did this last year and I’m looking forward to another adventure in the Twin Cities.

We won’t have a lot of free time and we won’t be up there fore very long, but I was wondering if anyone knew of some good restaurants in the area.  Last year we went to a good deli near Luther Seminary (where the conference is being held) for lunch.  For dinner we went to a good Ethiopian restaurant.

This year I’d like to try something different.  Is there a particularly good restaurant we should try?  What is Minneapolis/St. Paul known for?  What’s a good dish to try?  What’s different/stands out?

Suggestions are always appreciated.  I’m always interested in new culinary experiences.

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