Michael Vick in Better Days

July 27, 2007

With the Michael Vick dog fighting arraignment hitting the national news today, it has come to my attention that there are plenty of people out there who are not aware of Vick’s body of work on the football field over the years. Specifically, my dad earlier this evening was wondering about who this Vick character was, and I explained that I’ve enjoyed seeing him play many times.

In thinking back on my favorite Vick-watching moments, I realized that his Virginia Tech performances left the deepest impression on me; exciting as Vick has been as a pro, he has never attained the lofty potential people saw in him and has always been considered a tantalizing disappointment. But when he first burst onto the football scene in 1999, he was an absolute sensation.

That’s all by way of introduction to a few YouTube clips. Here’s the game-winning drive in Tech’s win over West Virginia in November 1999, a victory that kept the Hokies alive for a berth in the national championship game (they lost to Florida State). On the drive, just when the Mountaineers look ready to claim the upset, Vick pulls of a scramble down the sideline to set up a late field goal.

The following season, I vividly remember seeing Vick play a game at Boston College where he simply could not be tackled by the defense. The 82-yard touchdown run, where Vick shakes off a defender who face masks him just before getting to the end zone, is just ridiculous.

I couldn’t find any clip, but I would have to say that the game Vick played in the Falcons 2002 tie at Pittsburgh is one of my favorite NFL viewing experiences ever. The wild card win at Lambeau field was also a lot of fun.

In conclusion, I hope these memories can remain, despite the awful imagery of dead animals that will now seemingly surround Vick’s name forever.


If You Don’t Want to Watch the Cho Video, Don’t Watch

April 19, 2007

Hugh Hewitt works up some righteous indignation about NBC’s decision to broadcast the Virginia Tech killer’s photos and video:

Instantly their decision to air the video and publish the pictures revolted vast numbers of ordinary Americans of all political opinions. (My sister-in-law, a very, very liberal individual, just said to me that “I don’t recall ever hearing of anything so irresponsible.”) I heard an outraged clinical psychiatrist from NYU University denouncing the decision in the harshest terms on Los Angeles radio station KNX. The airing of the pictures and video is obviously a hurtful and destructive act, one that will prime many killing pumps in the years ahead, and one obviously made on the fly by individuals of almost no experience with or curiosity about the deranged mind. Would it have killed Capus et al to ask around a bit about what to do? Of course not, but their decision could indeed kill others down the road. They acted as their own guides, because that is the way the business works. In their very, very closed world, it made sense. To the vast majority of Americans it was an appalling, horrific decision, far worse than what Don Imus had to say last week.

Granted, seeing a mass murderer’s deranged ranting, weapons in hand, before he went off to kill a ton of people, is disturbing. But so are lots of other things on the news. There is also a ton of public curiosity about this event, and had NBC not released this, lots of people would be demanding that they do so. It’s also worth mentioning that CNN, Fox, and all the rest have replayed the video many times, not just NBC.

If people really want to avoid seeing this because it offends their sensibilities, they should feel free to change the channel or turn off the TV. I agree with Jeff Jarvis that “media is no longer a pasteurized and packaged version of life,” nor should it be.

If someone sees the Cho video and decides to go do something similar, then there was probably something wrong with that person to begin with. I have a hard time laying that at NBC’s feet. Jarvis continues:

I do think there may be a benefit to these tapes being out there: The guy was clearly insane and dangerous and what’s most shocking about this story is that people around him knew it and tried to both get him help and stop him from doing something dangerous and yet our laws even prevented his parents from being notified because of overzealous laws governing privacy. Perhaps this will motivate us to change those laws and our attitude about insanity and its dangers.

I agree that generally more information coming out is better. In that spirit, here’s a YouTube clip of Cho’s rant — only click on it if it’s something you want to see though.

UPDATE: Good Jack Shafer column on this.


The Meaning of “Ismail Ax”

April 18, 2007

These words reportedly were written on the arm of Cho Seung-Hui when he was found dead, and the blogs are full of speculation about their meaning. One popular theory links this to a story in the Koran but others caution against being so quick to leap to a terrorism connection.

Here’s the Koran bit, as written up by the Chicago Tribune.

In Islam, Ibrahim is the father of the prophets and, upset that people in his hometown still worshiped idols and not Allah, he smashed all but one statue in a local temple with an ax. Ibrahim’s son is Ismail, who also became a prophet. Ibrahim is Arabic for Abraham, who plays a significant role in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

This seems to fit in substantively with other things we know about Cho. He wrote a note found in his dorm room about how he hated rich kids and debauchery, things akin to the idolatry that Ibrahim lashed out at. The letter also discussed religion:

A law enforcement official says the letter written by 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui was a typed, eight-page rant against rich kids and religion. …

The official said Cho indicated in his letter that the end was near and that there was a deed to be done. He also expressed disappointment in his own religion, and made several references to Christianity.

Violent clashes between the young and old also figure prominently in Cho’s two plays.

The plays, though, are very poorly written and indicate this guy was pretty bonkers, rather than intelligent. Maybe the words are just the random scribbling of a madman and everyone is over-analyzing this. It’s natural to want to find out that this had some meaning and that Cho didn’t just go out and kill tons of people without a coherent idea in his head of why he was acting as he did.


Defending John Derbyshire

April 17, 2007

NRO’s “The Derb” is getting blasted in the liberal blogosphere for allegedly insensitive remarks about the Virginia Tech shooting. Granted, Derbyshire makes some dumb comments in his post, such as the 9/11 reference and the suggestion that people could’ve counted the bullets, but I don’t think the general wondering about why no one rushed the shooter is out of bounds. Indeed, I wondered the same thing in my post last night.

It seems like simple math to me that if one guy is shooting 60+ people in one building, there’s a good chance a few people could’ve rushed him and stopped the carnage earlier. Perhaps they were too dispersed in separate classrooms for this to happen, who knows. I don’t intend to demean anyone’s bravery, as it was obviously a horrible situation. If you’re trapped and being lined up to be killed execution-style though, as some reports suggest was going on, why not fight the guy when you are going to get shot anyway?

On one of the cable networks yesterday, a guest mentioned Colin Ferguson’s 1993 spree shooting on the Long Island commuter train. This is what happened, via Wikipedia.

As the train pulled into the Merillon Avenue Station, Ferguson pulled out his gun and started firing at passengers. He killed six and wounded nineteen before being stopped by three of the passengers: Kevin Blum, Mark McEntee, and Mike O’Connor.

There you go, three men on the train rushed Ferguson and stopped the shooting rampage. Again, maybe because the passenger cars were open and people were more bunched together this was easier to do, I don’t know. I just don’t think wondering about this sort of thing should be taboo.


The Worst Shooting in American History

April 17, 2007

CNN VA Tech

Condolences to the victims’ friends and families.

There are tons of questions. The one I keep coming back to is how one guy could kill so many people. How is it that no one stopped him until he had shot 60+ victims? We’ll learn more details over time, obviously, but if people are being lined up for execution, as supposedly they were, and it’s one guy doing the shooting, why not try to overpower him as a group?

The New York Times is already calling for tighter gun control.

Sympathy was not enough at the time of Columbine, and eight years later it is not enough. What is needed, urgently, is stronger controls over the lethal weapons that cause such wasteful carnage and such unbearable loss.

If this event doesn’t bring about stricter gun laws, it’s hard to imagine what will. The NRA is very powerful, though, and these will be interesting days and weeks ahead.