The Bye Week Jinx Strikes Again

College football fans hate “bye” weeks.  It seems like something bad always happens when the players on your favorite team are away from their normal weekly routine of classes, practices, and film study.

This week Ohio State has a bye week, and the jinx bit — just when Ohio State seemed to have turned a corner with J.T. Barrett taking over the starting position at quarterback  and the Buckeyes posting a crushing road victory over Rutgers last weekend.  To the consternation of members of Buckeye Nation everywhere, Barrett was cited early this morning for a misdemeanor count of OMVI. He will serve a one-game suspension, will missing the Buckeyes’ game against Minnesota, and will be eligible to return for the game against Illinois the following week.  In the meantime, Cardale Jones will once again start for the Buckeyes — and we’ll see whether Barrett regains the starting job once he’s eligible to play again.

This kind of news is maddening for many college football fans, who wonder why athletes can’t toe the line and avoid these kinds of incidents.  I think such people forget what it’s like to be a young college student, with temptations around every corner and students dealing with the pervasive feeling of invulnerability that comes with youth.  J.T. Barrett seems like such a mature, capable decision-maker on the football field that we’re surprised that he doesn’t always make the same careful decisions and check-downs in his personal life.  I guess he’s human after all.

I’ve not met J.T. Barrett, but everything I’ve ready about him tells me that he will be harder on himself for this lapse than just about anyone else — except perhaps Coach Urban Meyer.  Young people frequently make mistakes; the key thing is to learn from them. J.T. Barrett seems like a good student of the game of football; let’s hope he’s an equally adept student about learning about life.

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More Of Earth’s Curious Ancient Mysteries

Scientists recently discovered the existence of hundreds of curious and colossal earthwork formations in Kazakhstan.  The Steppe Geoglyph formations, which include geometric patterns and a kind of curlicue form of swastika, are visible only from high in the air.

As the New York Times reports, scientists estimate that the earliest of the mound formations was built approximately 8,000 years ago.  They had long since been forgotten and were discovered only when a Kazakh amateur archaologist started using Google Earth images to search for pyramids in Kazakhstan.  He didn’t find any evidence of pyramids in his home territory, but he did notice the huge, sprawling patterns that appeared.  After he announced his findings, NASA and other scientists got involved, began photographing the formations from satellites and analyzing their contents, and the mystery only deepened.

No one knows who built the earthworks, or their purpose.  They apparently aren’t burial mounds.  One scientist speculates that the geometric shapes were built to track the path of the rising sun.  But that explanation doesn’t account for the odd, curlicue swastika shape — which looks like the sort of insignia you might see on a uniform or a flag — nor does it gibe with what we know about the nomadic tribes that lived in the area at the time the formations apparently were built.  Why would nomads stop for the period of time needed to build such enormous formations, only to leave again?

I’ve never been much of a conspiracy theorist, and I don’t watch TV shows or read books about “ancient astronauts” or lost Atlantis or theories about the alien genesis of the Sphinx or the pyramids or Stonehenge or the Nazca Lines in Peru.  But there’s obviously a lot we don’t know about the Earth and human history in the period before the early Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations developed.  Perhaps there is a rational explanation for all of these formations that were visible only from the air, and investigation will uncover a period of human culture that we aren’t currently aware of that helps to make sense of it all. And if there was a previously unsuspected, higher form of early human civilization that somehow disappeared, we might be able to learn something useful from its downfall.

Or, perhaps, there is another explanation.  The possibilities are intriguing.

One other point.  If you’ve got some spare time, you might decide to spend it searching Google Earth images of the terrain in your neck of the woods.  You never know what you might find.