NASA Commemorates Apollo 8 Genesis Reading

first_imgA major event for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo didn’t shy away from the historic Bible reading from the moon.Before reading our reaction to the NASA Event “The Spirit of Apollo” (Dec 11), watch Illustra’s video “Merry Christmas from the Moon” to see what was the centerpiece of Apollo 8:Merry Christmas from the Moon from The John 10:10 Project on Vimeo.Tuesday night December 11th, 2018, The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, in cooperation with NASA, held a commemoration of Apollo 8 at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. This was one of several major events for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo. Some consider Apollo 8 an even more significant historic event than the actual moon landing 7 months later (Apollo 11’s anniversary will be celebrated in July, 2019). You will see why in the statements below.Here are some comments from the event written in real time as the event took place. The program notes say,Apollo 8 was the first human mission to the Moon, and its crew were the first people to see the far side with their own eyes. The mission’s dramatic highlights included a live Christmas Eve broadcast during which the astronauts read verses from the Book of Genesis in lunar orbit, and the iconic Earthrise photo, which stunned the world with the beauty and isolation of our home in the cosmos.The evening’s speakers, including Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry, will celebrate that moment of unity and the spiritual meaning of exploration embodied by the first flight to the Moon. A dramatic choral performance will recreate the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast. Apollo 8 challenged our understanding of human limitations. Fifty years later, we come together to honor the Spirit of Apollo.[Note: This is a summary, not a transcript. Quotations may not be exact due to rapid transcription in real time. Check the playback for actual quotes.]19:50 Music from Holst’s The Planets is playing (Mars, the Bringer of War and Venus, the Bringer of Peace) before the start of the program.20:00 Camera zooms in on the National Cathedral interior.20:02 The Very Reverend Randy Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, calls Earth “God’s gracious gift.” Mentions that a piece of moon rock from Apollo is embedded in the cathedral’s “Space Window.”20:07 Ellen R. Stofan, PhD, recalls how NASA only told Commander Borman to ‘Do something appropriate‘ – so they read the creation story from the book of Genesis. For man’s new future in space, “they went back to the beginning.” Upon hearing the story of Genesis on Christmas Eve, even the flight engineers wept. Stofan mistakenly says twice that a million people were watching (it was more like a billion). She speculates on “What will be the reaction when we discover life?”20:13 Multimedia film “The Firmament” with choir and orchestra. Playback of impressions of the moon’s appearance by the astronauts. Choir interlude. Genesis reading played in its entirety, with choir voices and orchestra bells behind, and photos of the astronauts who read it.18:20 The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, reads the Genesis passage again to the point, “Let there be light!” Quotes a black Baptist preacher James Weldon Johnson, author of “God’s Trombone,” who preached on Genesis in the 1800s. Johnson’s poetic version begins, “And God stepped out on space, and said, “I’m lonely: I’ll make me a world.” Curry remarks, “It’s not about us. We are part of a greater world.” We were made for a relationship of God who created us, with one another, and with the world, because God created it and cares about it. “And if you don’t believe me, talk to Jesus!” He quotes John 3:16. God so loved “the cosmos” that Christmas happened. We were made for God, for each other, and for this whole creation. “He’s got the whole world in his hands” he repeats:  “He’s got you & me brother … sister … the little bitty baby in His hands. Curry recalls how in 1968, three human beings summoned great courage, with NASA technology. A quarter million miles from home—almost by accident—the astronauts saw something no human being had ever seen before. And when they read from Genesis, “I wonder if God kind of gave a cosmic smile, and He said, ‘Now y’all see what I see.’”  God whispered in their ears, “Behold the world, the world of which you are a part. Look at its symmetry. Look at its beauty. Look at its wonder. Behold your world.” Some have said that was a moment that changed human consciousness forever. The Earthrise has been called one of the 100 most impactful photographs in all of human history. The environmental movement had its inspiration from that photograph, and from the reading of Genesis. Rev. Curry ventures off into climate change for a minute or two. Apollo’s legacy, he remarks, is a call for re-dedication to fly to new worlds, to use the wisdom of science & technology to save this oasis. “Good night, good luck, merry Christmas to all of us on this good Earth.”  Curry ends by singing “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” inviting the audience to join in.Earthrise from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, December 201520:38 Film with astronauts commenting on Apollo, including Anders, Borman, Lovell in their senior years. Anders said that Frank had chosen to read the book of Genesis. It shocked people but really got their attention.  Borman called Apollo a “uniquely American program,” but adds that “we came for all mankind.” Anders remarked that they saw the Earth the size of your fist at arm’s length. “We came to discover the moon,” he said, “but what we really discovered was the Earth.”20:41 Jim Bridenstine, NASA Director, follows up on Rev Curry by saying “It’s absolutely true that God does hold the entire world in His hands.” He recounts the Apollo 1 disaster the previous year, and multiple failures in Apollo 6 in August 1968 (it wasn’t called a failure at the time). Apollo 8 was four months away, and not ready! One out of every four people on Earth tuned in to the broadcast to hear the astronauts read Genesis 1:1-10, including those in the Soviet Union, where Christmas was still illegal. Bridenstine shifts gears toward the future: “We are going forward to the moon,” he says, “to stay.” He announces goals for sustainable, reusable architecture, with commercial and international partners. “Today we heard the astronauts read from Genesis,” that there was a firmament in the heavens, which Bridenstine says represents empty space. There, the waters below the firmament were separated the waters above. People in 1968 believed the moon was bone dry. Now we know that there are hundreds of billions of tons of water ice on the surface of the moon, at the poles. This can provide rocket fuel and drinkable water. ‘Gateway’ will be a permanent command module able to ferry machines and astronauts to the surface of the moon and back. Open architecture means that any country will be able to see how we do it, including private individuals and commercial companies. Goals are to retire the risk, prove the technology, prove the capability, understand human physiology, and replicate as much as possible on our journey to Mars. Remarks again about the waters above and below the firmament. When our Apollo astronauts read that, they didn’t know water existed anywhere else. Now we know of oceans below Europa and 10 miles below Mars. Is there life on other worlds? We don’t know, but Mars has methane emissions that fluctuate with the seasons; also complex organic compounds. These are exciting times, Bridenstine says. They don’t guarantee life is on Mars, but are consistent with the possibility. Lovell’s words about waters above the firmament had very real meaning. NASA is following the water, discovering life. Bridenstine introduces Jim Lovell as one of his heroes, astronaut on Gemini 7 & 12, Apollo 8 and Apollo 13. Lovell comes up to the podium.“For the Beauty of the Earth” — our fragile planet seen from the Suomi NPP spacecraft, 201220:54  Lovell gets a standing ovation from the audience. He recounts the bad summer of 1968. Protests against an unpopular war, beginnings of a “metoo movement” with women burning their bras, and hippies on the rise. After Gemini, Lovell was looking forward to an Apollo flight, but the Apollo 1 disaster that killed three of his friends delayed the Apollo program for 10 months. Lovell describes Borman & Anders, his co-pilots. The Lunar Module, they learned, was not going to be ready. The US also gained intelligence that the Russians were planning a lunar flight before the year was out, after three successful unmanned flights in the Zond series, including one that flew around the moon. Zond 7 was being prepared for a manned flight in December. NASA official George Lowe had a brilliant idea, provided the Command Module were certified in October, to launch Apollo 8 to moon and go into lunar orbit. In addition to numerous scientific benefits, and opportunities to check the Apollo technologies, it would give America the uplift it needed. But they only had four months to prepare. The Saturn V booster still had problems. NASA officials would only approve the risky flight if Apollo 7 were successful. For Borman, the possibility answered his dream. Anders as disappointed, because as Lunar Module pilot he wouldn’t have a working LM. “I was delighted,” Lovell recalls, because it would be “a mini-Lewis and Clark Expedition” to go where others had not gone before. On Dec 21,in the early morning, as he watched the press vehicles, “Suddenly I realized I was going to the moon.” All that navigation training was for real. At 7:21, Apollo 8 launched. There was no sign of a Russian launch. The crew entered lunar orbit entered on dark side, and the moon was nowhere to be seen. Shards of sunlight illuminated craters 60 miles below as they approached lunar sunrise. “I was observing alive that part of the moon that had been hidden from man for millions of years. “Then looking up, I saw it” – the Earth, a blue and white ball 240,000 miles away. I thought, my world has always been only as far as I can see: the horizon, the walls of a building. Seeing Earth 240,000 miles, he recalls, “my world suddenly expanded to infinity.” He pressed his thumb up against the window, and it completely hid the earth. “Everything I knew was behind my thumb,” I thought. “I realized my home is a small planet, just a mere speck in our Milky Way galaxy, and lost to oblivion” in the universe. I began to question my own existence; how do I fit into the world I see? I remembered thinking, “I hope to go to heaven when I die.” I went to heaven when I was born, he says, reflecting on we live on a planet with all the essentials for life, around “a star just the right distance that caused life to evolve in the beginning,” he continues. “God gave mankind a stage upon which to perform. How the play ends is up to us.” By all means, the flight of Apollo 8 was a complete success. Orbiting the moon on Christmas provided the spiritual environment on which to inspire the world with the reading of Genesis. He mentions Apollo 13 in passing; “that’s another story,” he quips. In Apollo 8, the American public got the real gift. He recalls a telegram received by the crew: “Thanks: you save 1968.” When Lovell accompanied the aged Charles Lindbergh to launch of Apollo 11, looking back at Lindbergh’s perilous 34-hour flight from New York to Paris, Lindbergh remarked, “Apollo 11 will be quite an accomplishment, but your flight Apollo 8 from the earth to the moon, that’s the flight I will remember.” applause.Earthrise from Selene spacecraft (2007), envisioned through an Apollo-style porthole window.~18:05 Richard Attenborough film. He gives his thoughts: How isolated and lonely we are here on Earth. In Apollo 8, we had not lost our connection to the natural world; we had rediscovered it. Something extraordinary: a grand competition between Russia and the USA led to a grand discovery. Apollo 8 gave us the dawn of planetary awareness. 50 years later, we are at high noon. The discovery of Earth urges our responsibility to protect the Earth. That American inspiration united us, and assured us that any feasible goal is within our grasp. Let us always remember the moment we left Earth for the f1st time and discovered what is truly precious – all of us together on the good earth.18:09  Hollerith: God bless you, may He bless us and keep us, and may we always be reaching for the stars.If you missed the event, I recommend watching the recording at the Air & Space Museum website. There are some things we can complain about, as with any public “spiritual” event, but much of the program was reverent and inspiring. For instance, there was open acknowledgement of God as Creator – and not a distant Creator, but one who cares for us and for His world. The Darwin-only atheistic materialism normally fluent at NASA was notable for its absence. Also, there was no hint of syncretism, trying to include the gods of other religions with the Creator. No, this is the God of Genesis! And to have John 3:16 quoted in a NASA event may be historic.Also memorable are the impressions of James Lovell, now 90 years old, of that famous view of the Earthrise 50 years ago. It’s amazing to me that no one at NASA realized that opportunity in advance. The pressure of the space race may have caused them to overlook it. Lovell also recounted being struck by the bland, gray surface of the moon compared to the blue-and-white gem of the Earth, so small in the darkness that he could cover it with his thumb. The music, film clips and quotes did justice to the spiritual import of that flight. It was also a celebration of American ingenuity and risk taking. Bridenstine recounted how many things went wrong with the earlier Apollo tests and flights: the Apollo 6 Command Module’s engine, for instance, which would have to re-ignite half a dozen times for Apollo 8, failed to re-ignite once after its first use on Apollo 6 in August. Other mishaps he described made the decision to orbit the moon just four months later seem reckless, and yet the Americans did it, and that during a year of political turmoil and social upheaval. So many things that could have gone wrong did not. I like to think God helped. We can look back with pride and joy at that inspiring mission, and not have our Christmases forever after ruined by the thought of dead astronauts orbiting the moon in a tin can. Several of the speakers also mentioned the perfection of Earth for human habitation. We live on an ideal planet around an ideal star, suggesting that humans have significance despite being specks in a vast universe (see Illustra’s short film, “Pale Blue Dot“).Allow us to make one theological correction to Rev. Curry’s quote of James Weldon Johnson’s poem, that begins, “And God stepped out on space, and said, ‘I’m lonely. I’ll make me a world.’” Many of our readers know that God did not create because He was lonely. He is a Trinity, self-existing in eternal relationship, and did not need to create. Secondly, He didn’t step out on space, because space, time and matter were all part of creation: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God is transcendent above all space, time and matter. We don’t want to be nit-picking here; we realize that Johnson, a godly preacher, was doing poetry, not theology or science. In fact, Johnson’s poem has been used in dramatic readings for years at one of America’s fundamental colleges in the south, Bob Jones University. It works very well in that context. It is very inspiring if you don’t take it as a piece of systematic theology. Envision an old black preacher waxing eloquent about Genesis 1 in a poor black church many years ago, with exuberant joy from the pulpit and rousing “Amen”s from the congregation, and you will be blessed by the poem. Watch William Warfield recite it in this YouTube video.So we vote thumbs up on the NASA celebration of Apollo 8. Nevertheless, whenever there is a public display of spirituality, you have to take many statements with a grain of salt. Political correctness goes with the territory: human fault for climate change, the universal brotherhood of man, evolution (mentioned only briefly in passing), and the search for life on other worlds. Overall, though, it was unusual and praiseworthy to see a NASA event that (1) affirmed the God of Genesis with reverence, (2) made abundant use of the idea of a good Creation for a purpose, (3) spoke of the goodness and beauty of the Earth, (4) affirmed the spiritual value of the mission, and (5) mentioned Jesus and John 3:16, and (6) wished everyone a Merry Christmas. That was a really nice gift to the American people.As December 24 approaches, we encourage you to share Illustra Media’s “Merry Christmas from the Moon” on social media as widely as possible. Don’t wait; right now is the best time. (Visited 1,070 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

As sexed semen gains effectiveness, dairies take notice

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Artificial insemination (AI) has long proven to be an effective and profitable management tool of the cattle trade. Another tool in the AI toolbox, sexed semen, has found its own niche on the farm in recent years and is growing in popularity.Chris Lahmers, marketing director for COBA/Select Sires, said the company’s sales of gender-sorted semen have steadily increased in the past few years, though they have generally plateaued due to the recent drop in milk prices. Still, the market for the product is ever changing.“About 9% of our sales of Holstein semen and about 37% of Jersey sales were gender sorted semen in 2015,” Lahmers said. “One of the reasons for that is the technology has improved increasing the fertility of the product. The sorting process is more efficient and the extender enhancements have improved fertility. The other reason for its increased popularity is the value of the genetics of the bulls that are being sorted. With genomics, people have put a greater value on the genetics in their herd and they’re wanting to get the most genetic progress out of their best animals. They’re using gender sorted semen to do that.”The question persists of how the process happens. Select Sires contracts with Sexing Technologies (ST) to process gender sorted semen. ST owns the patents on the semen sorting technology that is used in the AI industry.  In 2006, ST opened a facility on Plain City to process gender sorted semen for Select Sires, for which they pay a per unit fee.Sexing Technologies notes on its website that USDA researchers experienced a breakthrough in semen-sexing technology the 1980s. Patents on the technology were awarded to XY Inc. of Fort Collins, Colorado. Efficiency grew and commercialization of gender sorted semen in the United States began in 2003 when ST granted a license to use the technology. All major AI companies now work with ST to process gender sorted semen.“The cliff notes version is they take the semen and run it through a flow cytometer,” Lahmers said. “The sperm cells are dyed and come through a laser individually where they separate the cells with male on one side and female on the other. They usually figure the process yields a product that is about 90% female semen. There are going to be a few male sperm in each straw as well but 90% of the semen in the straw is going to be female.“Through the process, we’ve been able to gender sort our genetically superior sires. When it first started in 2006, we just did the sires we had an abundant inventory of conventional semen on so sometimes the genetic level wasn’t quite as appealing. But over the years with technology and improved efficiency of the process, we’ve been able to do our best sires in the breed to offer gender sorted semen. That’s been really appealing to a lot of the dairymen out there.”Lahmers said there are a number of benefits to sexed semen, including increased milk production as a result of improved cow and calf health.“There was a study done a couple years ago where they found that virgin heifers that carry a heifer ended up producing 300 pounds more milk per lactation than those individuals carrying bull calves. The primary reason for that would be calving ease,” he said. “If they have a heifer, it’s usually easier on them to calve and get off to a better start and produce more milk.”Lahmers added he doesn’t see the rise in production from sexed semen as much of a factor in the recent drop in milk prices.With such complexity, many farmers tend to look at a range of factors that surround the technology, like cost, as barriers to its use on the operation. Farmers need to consider many factors when deciding to use sexed semen, some of which include lower fertility rate, accuracy of heat detection and amount of replacement heifers needed for herd goals.“The cost of producing a unit of gender sorted semen is much higher than the cost to produce conventional semen. Therefore, the cost of gender sorted semen is up to double that of the conventional unit,” Lahmers said. “The amount of sales we see depends a lot on milk price.”Also varying are the ways in which a sexed semen program can be introduced, flexible to the type of farm it’s serving.“COBA can assist farmers with making those decisions with our mating program,” he said. “We’ll go to herds and help them match the best sire genetics to their most elite animals. Genomic testing can also be used to determine individual genetic values. We can make mating recommendations on their breeding goals and recommend which ones to breed to gender sorted semen, and which ones to breed to conventional semen. Some farms break their matings into three tiers: those that get bred to gender sorted semen, conventional semen and then beef. Others that are undergoing expansion and want to continue to grow herd numbers may use gender sorted semen on all their heifers. It just depends what kind of setup they’re in and what are their goals are for the future.”Overall, 97% of Select Sires’ business is dairy and 3% is beef. Lahmers said sexed semen has helped in the market strategy of producers — one of the many reasons for its increased use in recent years.“Especially in the Jersey breed, particularly why we see the increase in sexed semen is bull calves are not worth that much,” Lahmers said. “So we find a lot of producers are doing is using gender sorted semen on anything they want to keep for the future and then everything else they will use beef semen on to give more value to those bull calves.“The strong beef market two years ago showed producers there was a value for their male calves. Particularly with Jerseys, they could now get some additional value out of those bull calves when they go to a feedlot. So they breed the top end of their herd with gender sorted semen to meet the needs of their dairy. Then the bottom end of the herd is breed to create a more valuable calf for the beef market.”Josh Keplar of W.G. Dairy Supply has seen firsthand the change in thinking in herd management that’s accompanied the technology.“Sexed semen now is more of a tool on dairy farms to get replacements out of your best cows,” he said. “So you want to use sexed semen to breed your top performing cows to get the best genetics to be the future of your herd. That’s how sexed semen has kind of changed.”Prior to his current position, Keplar spent 10 years working in the AI industry for Genex Cooperative.“Originally when it first came out, you used sexed semen on everything because you got more heifer calves — that’s a great idea,” Keplar said. “Where the downside of that was you were also getting replacements out of your bottom end animals to where now guys, instead of using a lot of sexed semen, the use of sexed semen actually came down and that’s because they’re using more targeted breeding to get replacements out of the top end versus just breeding everything.”As with most technologies through the years, the quality has improved and Keplar said producers have seen that in the form of fertility.“The conception rate has gotten a little bit better from when sexed semen first came out, but I think just overall management of the cows they choose to breed and breeding first lactation cows and breeding virgin heifers, guys have found the benefits outweigh the lower conception,” Keplar said.COBA/Select Sires is based on Alton Darby Creek Road outside of Columbus. W.G. Dairy Supply is in Creston and Minster.last_img read more

Deaf Sports Day A Success

first_imgOn Wednesday, 19 June, the third annual Active Deaf Kids Sports Day took place at Belconnen Stadium, Canberra, with the event attended by Federal Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy.The day looked to raise awareness of Deaf Sports Australia and encourage children with hearing impairments to participate in sport. The day allowed the children that attended to participate in various sports clinics, including one run by Touch Football ACT.Senator Lundy gave a short speech over morning tea which recognised Touch Football ACT, along with several other sporting organisations, for their work with Deaf Sports Australia.She also implored the kids present to get involved in sport, pointing towards both the health and friendship advantages that participating brings.“[There are] wonderful benefits of playing sport. Being fit and active is part of it, but also sport is something that unites us all,” she said.The event was also the forum for an announcement that $60,000 extra funding would be put forward by the Federal Government to go towards deaf sports stars attending the Deaf Olympics.Related LinksDeaf Sports Daylast_img read more

PhotoVideo Gallery Old Fort Road slide on October 1st

first_imgPhoto by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by YRB North Peace/Facebook Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newtonlast_img read more

Jigging Fiddling Gathering this weekend at Peace Island Park

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Metis Society is hosting a Jigging & Fiddling Gathering this weekend.Taking place at Peace Island Park, Margaret Fenton, of the Metis Society, says this event will offer a weekend full of traditional Metis culture such as food, crafts, and even jigging lessons.The event will also feature competitions in fiddling and jigging. Entry fees to the contest are $10.00 per person and each competitor will have a chance of winning up to over $1,000.Plus there will be a pancake breakfast in the morning and even a dance on Saturday night.Admission to this event is free, with donations being accepted.Donations will go towards supporting the Fort St. John Metis Society.The Fort St. John Metis Society’s Jigging & Fiddling Gathering is taking place this weekend, July 12 to the 14, at Peace Island Park in Taylor.For more information, you can send an email to fsjmetis@telus.net.last_img read more

RCMP seek white Ford pickup used in multiple thefts

first_imgShortly thereafter, at 7:20 am, the Fort St John RCMP received a report of a stolen backhoe.  The backhoe was located just over an hour later at the corner of 87th Ave and 74th St.Fort St John RCMP obtained surveillance video which provided the following photo of the suspect pickup truck.  All three thefts are believed to be related.The vehicle is described as:early 2000’s white Ford F-150single cab long boxblack front bumper and grillorange sticker of a skull wearing a helmet on the back window on the right sideThe male driver is described as:approximately 45 years oldmedium to light brown hairbeardwearing a t-shirt and blue jeans with a hi-vis vest.“The description and photo of this truck show it has some unique features”, said Cst Chad Neustaeter.  “The RCMP hope the public will recognize the truck and assist with locating the truck and driver.”The Fort St John RCMP continue to investigate and are asking anyone who has information about this incident or can assist in locating this vehicle, please contact the Fort St John RCMP at 250-787-8100. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online at www.crimestoppersnebc.ca. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The RCMP suspect three thefts are related to a white Ford pickup.The RCMP received a report of a stolen flat deck trailer that had been found abandoned near 87th Ave and 72nd Street on June 11, 2019, at approximately 5:30 am.That same morning, at just after 6 am, the Fort St John RCMP received a report of a man attempting to steal a flat deck utility trailer from a parking lot in the area of 92nd Ave and 100th St.  The man was approached but then ran to his vehicle and drove away at a high rate of speed.last_img read more

What The NFL Can Teach Congress About Hiring More Diverse Staffs

Related: Hot Takedown Even so, my findings suggest that a Rooney Rule-style policy could help increase the diversity of congressional staff hires, particularly if Congress has the means and the will to enforce it. In addition to his efforts to require his colleagues to interview at least one nonwhite candidate for any staff vacancy, then, Schumer should also consider urging them to make two further commitments — to provide a fair and equitable evaluation process for these candidates, and to publicly report the demographics of their staffers.3Perhaps he could even move beyond “urging” and build a bipartisan effort to formalize such a rule and its accompanying enforcement mechanisms. With this trio of policies in place, Congressional staffs might finally begin to match the diversity of the lawmakers they work for, and — more importantly — the people they represent.CORRECTION (March 15, 11:30 a.m.): An earlier version of the chart in this article incorrectly described the types of NFL coaches shown. The chart shows head coaches and coordinators, not head coaches and assistants. Although the new 115th Congress is the most racially diverse on record, its staff remains overwhelmingly white.1Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but according to a report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, there were 336 top Senate staffers (chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, and staff directors) in December 2015, only 24 of whom were people of color: 12 Asian-Americans, 7 Latinos, 3 African-Americans, and 2 Native Americans. As The Washington Post recently reported, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is trying to change that — and he’s using the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” as a model for addressing the imbalance.Established in 2003, the Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one nonwhite candidate for any head coaching vacancy. It is an example of a “soft” affirmative action policy — that is, one that is designed to change the composition of the candidate pool, rather than change the criteria used in the hiring process. In this spirit, Schumer has urged his colleagues to ensure that at least one nonwhite applicant is considered for any open position. And if the NFL’s version is any guide, the policy should indeed help improve Congress’s hiring record.In a recent study I published in the American Law and Economics Review, I found that the NFL has hired notably more nonwhite head coaches in the years since the Rooney Rule went into effect. Of course, that increase could reflect the influence of other social, cultural or institutional changes, rather than the impact of the rule itself. So to account for this possibility, I compared the change in hiring trends among NFL head coaches (who became subject to the Rooney Rule) with the change in hiring trends among similar groups that were not affected by the policy, such as NFL coordinators and NCAA head coaches. Those comparison groups show us what the NFL might look like without the Rooney Rule, since they’re affected by the same hard-to-observe forces that may have influenced hiring decisions both before and after the Rooney Rule took effect.Using this technique, I found that a nonwhite candidate is about 20 percent more likely to fill an NFL head coaching vacancy during the Rooney era than before it, even after taking into account the general trend toward hiring more nonwhite candidates at all levels of coaching. In other words, the change can be traced directly to the Rooney Rule itself. Although there are plenty of differences between hiring congressional staffers and hiring NFL head coaches, the two processes share some similarities. Both are influenced by capacity constraints, meaning that NFL franchises and congressional offices can only interview a certain number of candidates because they are working under a limited hiring timeline. Additionally, there is a large amount of “noise” during the candidate-selection process in both fields, since there are no agreed-upon criteria for choosing candidates and it’s impossible to determine the true quality of a given candidate.2The Rooney Rule helps reduce this noise by requiring the franchise to take race into consideration when choosing candidates. These similarities suggest that a Rooney Rule-style policy may work in other organizations. (In fact, Facebook recently implemented its own version of the rule in certain departments, suggesting that the company has hopes for its ability to translate to another industry.)However, the Rooney Rule’s success is likely due in part to the fact that the NFL has been able to closely enforce it. For example, in 2003 the Detroit Lions’ then-president, Matt Millen, was fined $200,000 for failure to interview a nonwhite candidate for the team’s head-coaching vacancy. But when it comes to congressional staffing, there is currently no way for Schumer to force his colleagues to adopt and stick to a Rooney Rule-style hiring policy. The rule also cannot work unless nonwhite candidates are getting fair consideration and going through the same process as white candidates. The NFL has had to continually address teams’ temptation to fulfill the Rooney Rule’s requirements by conducting sham interviews instead of really searching for qualified nonwhite candidates. Finally, the hiring of an NFL head coach is a very public event that will be watched and commented on by reporters and fans alike, which helps maintain pressure to comply with the rule. Congressional offices, on the other hand, are not even required to publicly report the demographics of their staffs. So the positive effects of the Rooney Rule may not fully transfer to organizations that lack enforcement mechanisms. Hot Takedown’s March Madness Special read more

Seismic shakeup A number of schools changed conferences but have we seen

After the Cornhuskers made the Big 12 a smaller 11, the Pac-10 snagged Colorado, leaving the Big 12 at 10 teams. Many anticipated more action from the Pac-10, expecting the conference to attempt to rival the Big Ten by expanding to as many as 16 schools. But after swiping Utah from the Mountain West, the Pac-10, now with 12 teams, appears satisfied. Utah will join the Pac-10 in 2011, Colorado in 2012. “I expected that to happen — new commissioner in the Pac-10, new television agreement coming up,” Smith said. “It made sense for them, so I knew the Pac-10 was going to go that way, and I knew that it would affect the Big 12, but I just didn’t know how. When television contracts are getting ready to come up and people see the changing landscape in television, people start adding inventory.” The shakeups left the Big 12 on life support, with just 10 teams and its moneymaker, Texas, contemplating a switch itself. Texas A&M even received an invitation to join the SEC. But a new TV deal, set up to make Texas the main attraction, got all teams on board, saving the Big 12 as a league with 10 schools. But plates continued to shift and movement persisted. Boise State, a perennial BCS bowl-game contender in the last decade, parted ways with loads of inferior competition in the WAC to join the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State and Nevada also will join the MWC in 2012, while Boise will enroll in 2011. One of the signature programs of the MWC, however, isn’t sticking around to face the newcomers. Brigham Young will become an independent in football in 2011, a title only Notre Dame, Army and Navy claim in Division I. For all other sports, BYU will join the West Coast Conference. “We’ve long sought broad, nationwide access to our games for our fans and increased visibility among those who may be less familiar with our university and athletic programs,” BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson said in a press release. “We’ve also been looking for ways to take better advantage of our own unique broadcasting resources.” After the dust settled, there were more rumblings than actual quakes. There was never that one tremor that affected the entire nation, which many expected and some feared. Instead, we’re left with minor face lifts to several conferences, and we’re left with more questions about potential future shakeups. “I’m watching everybody else,” Smith said. “We’re (the Big Ten) basically done for now. I don’t know if we’ll expand anymore, I really don’t. It’s a possibility, but what’s interesting is watching the rest of the landscape.” The rumbling started last winter, when the Big Ten announced its intentions to explore conference expansion. It culminated months later in significant, nationwide shifts. The first tremor shook the Midwest, when Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten. The reshuffling set off a series of quakes felt all around the country, from the Pac-10 to the Big 12 to the Mountain West. In the end, if we have reached the end, the landscape of college football changed, though not as dramatically as the initial quivers suggested. But have these relocations been the result of a routine shakeup, or is this the start of a major restructuring? Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the transformation results from changing revenue streams. “If you look back over the history of college sports, the one thing that’s constant is change,” Smith said. “One of the largest areas of revenue for all of us is television money. People don’t want to talk about it, but it’s true. The reality is, as television changes, and all the mediums change for communication, the conferences have to shift in order to maximize revenue opportunities off of them.” Initial rumors suggested college football could be transitioning to feature four “super-conferences,” each equipped with 12 to 16 teams — enough power and revenue to bury non-BCS leagues in the sand. “I think it’s possible because the thought is there,” Smith said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a playoff like the public wants. I see a lot of challenges with that on a lot of different levels. But do I see playoffs within a conference that could lead to something like that on a smaller scale? Yeah. So, when you get to those 16, you get to two or four conferences with 16 teams, divisions, that type of stuff. I can see that down the road.” The notion of super-conferences stemmed from indications that the Big Ten was prepared to expand to 14 or 16 teams, adding from the likes of Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, Texas and Missouri to stretch its reach across more of the country. Plucking programs from other conferences would force those battered leagues to fuse together to match the Big Ten’s muscle. “People use the term ‘arms race,’ which I really don’t think is it,” Smith said. “We’re like any restaurateur, we’re like the college of business, we’re like the college of engineering. We’re like everybody else that aspires to be No. 1. Yes, you can use the term ‘arms race,’ but frankly, we’re just strengthening the business.” The super-conference idea hasn’t panned out just yet. Instead, a series of aftershocks sent a handful of teams in and out of new conferences. read more

Commentary Lenzelle Smith Jr deserving of more recognition

Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. (32) drives to the basket during a game against Delaware Dec. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 76-64.Credit: Mark Batke / For The LanternAaron Craft. LaQuinton Ross. Amir Williams.These are the names that come to mind first when most people think about the No. 3-ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team (15-0, 2-0).Someone that doesn’t often make the headlines is senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr.Smith Jr., the team’s lone senior aside from Craft, has been huge for the Buckeyes all season.Currently second on the team in scoring with an average 12.7 points per game, and third on the team in both rebounding and assists with 4.9 and 1.6 respectively, Smith Jr. should be one of the stars of the team.And yet he is less talked about then certain bench players like athletic junior forward Sam Thompson and sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle.The respect that Smith Jr. garners is not befitting of someone as vital as he is to the Buckeyes’ chances to success. He has scored in double figures in 11 of OSU’s 15 games this year, including a season high 20 in a 65-50 win against Wyoming Nov. 25.But perhaps Smith Jr.’s best performance of the season came when he was at his worst.Against Notre Dame Dec. 21, the Buckeyes were in danger of losing for the first time this season. Trailing by eight points with less than a minute remaining, OSU needed something to change to keep their unbeaten run alive.That change came in the form of Smith Jr.Failing to score up to that point in the game, Smith Jr. was struggling to make an impact. But in the final 50 seconds, he scored nine points and helped the Buckeyes go on a 14-3 run to win the game.Even though the final box score reads only nine points, Smith Jr.’s contribution was the difference in the final stretch.Players like Craft and Ross deserve their recognition, both are fantastic players, but the shadow they cast should not completely hide the work Smith Jr. has been doing for OSU.He is third on the team in minutes, just behind Craft and junior guard Shannon Scott, with an average of 27 a game. He is also third on the team in field goal percentage, behind only the teams two centers, and second in 3-point percentage.Although the season is not yet half over, the Buckeyes will need Smith Jr. to continue his stellar play if they hope to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.Maybe then the senior guard not named Craft will be recognized by Buckeye fans for everything he has done. read more

Football The quarter that defined JT Barretts career

Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the fourth quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe score was 35-20, and there was just 13:13 left in the game. At seemingly the worst time, quarterback J.T. Barrett fumbled the football. It was an unlucky play at an unlucky time that nearly resulted in the game-sealing drive as Penn State began its drive with the ball at the Ohio State 42-yard line. Then something happened.Barrett was handed the football trailing by five points after leading his team on back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. After four plays and with 1:48 remaining in the game, he found redshirt senior Marcus Baugh open in the end zone and hit him with a perfect pass over leaping linebackers Manny Bowen and Jason Cabinda to put Ohio State on top 39-38.Ohio State senior tight end Marcus Baugh (85) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that would put Ohio State over Penn State in the game on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn 12 minutes, Barrett went from being the goat of the game to having his Heisman-candidate moment and leading the Buckeyes to a miraculous comeback victory.And as head coach Urban Meyer stood answering questions at his postgame press conference with fans chanting “O-H,” “I-O” in the background as they exited the stadium, Meyer had nothing but the highest praise to levy on his three-time captain.“I don’t know if I’ve ever had more respect for a human being and as a person, because you earn respect and you witness people in very dire straits at times, tough situations,” he said. “I’ve never had a kid play perfect, but damn, he was close tonight.”The fourth quarter proved a tumultuous one for the Ohio State quarterback. In an attempt to hand the football off to freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, Barrett mishandled the snap, losing his grip on the football and costing his team possession. The fumble could have changed the narrative of this story entirely. Penn State could have capitalized on the opportunity, scoring a touchdown to make the game 42-27 and putting Ohio State’s championship hopes in the rearview mirror. “It’s one of those things, like, really J.T.? Right now? That’s not the best timing,” Barrett said after the game.At that moment, doubt began to creep into Meyer’s mind as the game was getting late and the Buckeyes were still down two scores.“The one fumble, I kind of thought, ‘uh-oh,’” Meyer said. That moment could have defined Barrett’s performance in one of the most important games of his career. He did not let that happen.Just after fumbling the football, Barrett was aided by Ohio State’s special teams, as cornerback Denzel Ward blocked a punt and linebacker Dante Booker recovered it at the Penn State 41-yard line. One play later, Barrett turned the excellent field position into seven points with a 38-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon.The next Penn State drive saw the Nittany Lions march 64 yards down the field before being held to a field goal. Barrett responded by leading his team down the field for a 76-yard drive that resulted in seven points. A three-and-out by Penn State forced a punt, setting Barrett up for his game-winning drive.On the play, Baugh found himself wide open in the end zone with only a linebacker several yards away standing between him and his quarterback. Barrett delivered a perfect pass just over the leaping hands of the defenders to find his man and redefine his performance in the game.Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the fourth quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“I was like, ‘Just put it over the linebacker and we score.’ And so I was able to do that,” Barrett said.Barrett made it sound easy, and throughout the game, he made his success look easy. He completed 33-of-39 passes, threw for 328 yards — including four touchdowns — and had rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries against a defense Meyer called, “the No. 1 defense in America.”Though the fourth quarter was Barrett’s shining moment, his teammates saw the same player all throughout the game — a leader, just as calm and composed trailing by 14 as he was ahead by one.“J.T. is the same all four quarters. He’s a smooth dude and he has a lot of confidence in us as playmakers and in himself,” redshirt junior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “He’s the epitome of a leader. He never got too high, never got too low. Even when we scored a touchdown and we needed another stop to score another touchdown, it was the same demeanor from him and that’s what made him great.”This game will prompt many superlatives to be lauded on him, and early award predictions to be made. Heisman Trophy candidate was thrown out by Meyer, Barrett’s teammates and Barrett himself. Meyer went so far as to call Barrett’s performance “one of the best I’ve ever seen a quarterback play.”Quarterback J.T. Barrett celebrates with fans in Ohio Stadium after the Buckeyes beat No. 2 Penn State 39-38 on Oct. 28. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn the team’s loss Week 2 against Oklahoma, fans were calling for Barrett to be replaced and questions arose as to whether he was capable of winning a big game. Behind closed doors, there was never any doubt to the players about whom their leader was. “With all due respect, people who had that opinion, in the Woody Hayes facility there wasn’t any opinion. There was zero conversation about that topic,” Meyer said. “When I hear people say, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of people thought —’ that’s not one time I’ve walked into a staff meeting saying, what do you guys think? What do the fans and media think about J.T.? We don’t talk about that.”Seven weeks ago, those fans chanting “O-H,” “I-O” were calling for Barrett to be benched. Now those same fans might be calling for him to win the Heisman Trophy. read more