Elliot: Swimming to the nebulae


Yes, because there are things more important than football (such as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s “discovery” of a secret nuclear deal with Iran), the recent reaction to Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension in connection to DeflateGate seems, well, more than mildly surprising.

The reaction was Hate Brady Day. Who knew a nation could be so consumed by football psi? Especially when so many don’t exactly know what psi means.

But yes. Outrage. Scorn. Derision. One sports-radio guy even  compared Brady to Al Capone.

Really, people? Football psi and an infamous murderous gangster?

It seems that almost nobody, including chief suspender Roger “Gerbil” Goodell, has read the AEI report, or listened to any of the physicists who have weighed in, on the Wells Report, which is as bereft of science as a creationist classroom.

Not to mention that the NFL recently “clarified” the rules on football psi, thus shooting its case in the foot (if cases indeed have feet). So the league office has acknowledged that the rules and chain of command of the footballs were at the very least unclear.

So the NFL “convicted”  Brady and the Pats of violating unclear rules that had never been enforced before (see Aaron Rodgers and Brad Johnson and their famously overly inflated footballs, Johnson’s in the Bucs’ Super Bowl win).

But Brady’s a villain. People, and the NFL, seem to ignore that the refs used two pressure gauges to check the footballs; one had significantly higher readings than the other. The NFL used the lower readings for the Patriots’ footballs, the higher for the Colts’.

This whole flap-a-doodle has gone from Theater of the Absurd à la Ionesco to surrealism to Dali’s clocks dripping off tables.

Thank God for the USA, where nobody ever, ever cheats on taxes or speeds or runs a red light. But screams about psi.

Thank God the Universe doesn’t cheat — well, except for the part where gravity bends light so you don’t exactly know where a faraway star might be several million light years ago, because it’s moved since then.

You just gotta love this life.

A personal note

My father died recently. He was a longtime UI professor of geography. I could regale you with stories about his intelligence and knowledge, his wit, his ability to make a journey across Nebraska utterly interesting, his unflinching contempt for Jim Crow and the discrimination he had witnessed.

Whenever I asked him or my mother what something meant, they told me, “Look it up.” You can learn amazing things by reading the dictionary, my father would tell me. You can’t read a dictionary, I’d respond, but as with so many other things in life, I was wrong. I read dictionaries to this day; they are amazing.

But what I remember best is the times in the high wilderness mountains, his doing research, conducting field seminars, and hiking, hiking, hiking. He taught me that no matter how exhausted, no matter how fixated you were on your fatigue, you always climbed the next ridge to see what splendors lay there, waiting to change your life.

Apollinaire might have said it best (excuse my poor memory of French and the translation I read decades ago):

“That sister light, the Milky Way,

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