Tag Archives: California

Body language 101: Hands on hips, per California football coaches

“Cal,” he said, “should be better than this.” —Harry Edwards

Cal coaching staff "hands-on-hips" body language

Cal coaching staff demo’s the “en mass”  or “cluster” version of the “hands-on-hips” body language during a shellacking by Southern Cal, 63-28

OTL,S! surmises that the Cal coaching staff was looking to get aggressive with their own players. We are glad that didn’t happen. Well, let’s rephrase…at least it didn’t happen during the game. More on that later.

body language:

To appear bigger for fighting or courting rituals, birds will fluff their feathers, fish can expand their body size by sucking in water and cats or dogs make their fur stand on end. The hairless human, however, no longer has a thick pelt to expand to make himself look more imposing when he is fearful or angry….Modern humans, however, have invented a gesture to help them achieve a bigger physical presence – the Hands-on-Hips gesture.

California’s largely inept football team reached a historic landmark on Saturday, when they were torched by traditional rival Stanford, 63-13, allowing two touchdowns in the last 8 minutes by the Cardinal reserves. This was the most points ever allowed in the “Big Game”, and the largest margin of defeat. Cal finished the season 1-11, the single win being a squeaker against lower classification Portland State. Cal gave up 30 points or more in every game, which is some sort of record.
Furthermore, Cal had just last year fired their football coach for dismal performance, and the University is up to its eyeballs in debt from an ill-advised massive upgrade of the athletic facilities. Lastly, Cal has the worst football-player graduation rate of any major school in the country.

Hands-on-Hips is used by the child arguing with its parent, the athlete waiting for his event to begin,… males who want to issue a non-verbal challenge to other males who enter their territory. In each instance the person takes the Hands-on-Hips pose and this is a universal gesture used to communicate that a person is ready for assertive action. It lets the person take up more space and has the threat value of the pointed elbows that act as weapons, preventing others from approaching or passing… It’s used everywhere and in the Philippines and Malaysia it carries the even stronger message of anger or outrage.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the data show that it is the black male athlete at Cal who is (and has been forever) exploited. In these days of multimillion dollar revenues and coaching salaries, the black football player is likely to leave Cal with nothing but memories, chronic injuries, an empty wallet and a dim future.

most black male athletes who entered Cal between 1998 and 2006 failed to graduate in six years, with just 40 percent able to do so….fewer than 2 percent of all NCAA basketball and football players are drafted by the NBA and NFL, studies show. And of those, only a small number last more than one or two years in professional sports.

Coach Dykes is promising assertive action on all fronts:

Also known as the ‘readiness’ gesture, that is, the person is ready for assertive action, its basic meaning carries a subtly aggressive attitude everywhere. It has also been called the achiever stance, related to the goal-directed person who is ready to tackle their objectives or is ready to take action on something. Men often use this gesture around women to display an assertive male attitude.

The Cal athletic director during this shipwreck has been Sandy Barbour, shown here in her “I’m not going to answer that question” body language.  She’s adopted the “I’m calling together a task force” tactic to “address” this problem, aka: kick the can down the road while continuing to recruit underqualified “student athletes.”bar

These aggressive-readiness clusters are used by professional models to give the impression that their clothing is for the modern, assertive, forward-thinking woman. Occasionally the gesture may be done with only one hand on the hip and the other displaying another gesture and this is commonly used by women who want to draw attention to themselves by using this cluster with a pelvic tilt to emphasize their hips-to-waist ratio, which indicates fertility. Hands-on-Hips is regularly used by both men and women in courtship to draw attention to themselves.

So how is Coach Dykes channeling his aggressive, action oriented mindset that informs his body language:

“We’re going to recruit better. We’re going to recruit kids that deserve to be at Cal and want to be at Cal,” he said. “We’re going to learn how to go to class. We’re going to fix our graduation rates; we’re going to graduate. We are going to appreciate being a Cal student, be supportive of other Cal students.”

That sounds like some pretty good generalities, though there are hints of  some hidden agendas.

But this disturbing quote from another Chronicle article  suggests Dykes will try to boot some players off scholarship or otherwise allow/induce them to leave, thus reinforcing the idea that they have been exploited, and now cast aside in order that the mighty football machine can sell more tickets (emphasis added):

Not all players on the roster in 2013 will be asked back in 2014, the coach said, adding, “There are going to be players who leave. There’re players you encourage to leave and others who leave on their own.”

To us, it sounds like the wrong people are going to get “fired.” Cal has an obligation to the current football players to see that they graduate with sufficient skills to succeed in life. Allowing or encouraging players to leave school or removing their scholarships is exactly the wrong thing to do.
The Chronicle nails it:

At the Athletic Study Center, Van Rheenen is working with a group of successful black men to set up a mentoring program – but whether athletes will have time to participate is another question. They’re already stretched by the full-time demands of their academic work and playing a Division I sport.

“We don’t want to overload them even more,” Van Rheenen said.

The graduation rates are one of the many problems facing Cal athletics. At a recent meeting on campus, where Cummins and Hextrum presented their findings, some faculty members wondered whether the pressure to succeed on the field has been intensified by the need to pay off the debt on newly renovated Memorial Stadium.

Hextrum called it “an ethical dilemma.”

“Are we going to say we will continue to have these students – mostly men of color – who don’t graduate, and that it is worth it to pay off the debt?” she asked.

“Cal,” he said, “should be better than this.”

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The animals that roamed California when humans arrived

bearsOTL,S! notes this interesting piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, about the huge animals, predators and prey, that the humans found when they arrived from Asia via the Beringian land bridge, some 15,000 or so years ago.

In 1983, workers building the foundation for the Pansini Building, on the south side of Pacific a few yards east of Columbus, found fossilized bones in dark clay soil, 15 feet below street level.

Rodda found the remains of three Columbian mammoths and one giant bison.

It was the biggest discovery of Pleistocene-era mammals in the city’s history, only the fourth overall, and the first since the early 20th century.

The enormous beasts dated from the Rancholabrean age, named after the famous La Brea tar pits near Los Angeles. The Rancholabrean age started 240,000 years ago and ended 11,000 years ago, when almost all of the so-called megafauna became extinct for reasons that are still unclear. Most species died out in just 1,500 years.

A Paleo-Indian who climbed to the top of Telegraph Hill would have beheld a pageant of animal life that made the Serengeti look like a petting zoo. Rumbling across the wide grassy plain now covered by the bay were 12-foot-high Columbian mammoths with mighty curved tusks, two-ton bison, Western camels, giant horses, tapirs and giant ground sloths.
These enormous herbivores were stalked by the 2 most lethal mammalian killing machines ever known: the American lion and the short-faced bear. The American lion weighed as much as 750 pounds – 25 percent larger than the modern African lion – and had a larger brain than any other lion. As many as 800 lions may have roamed the Bay Area at any one time.

But the animal at the scary top of the food chain was the short-faced bear. The most powerful mammalian carnivore ever to live in North America, the 13-foot-long, 2,000-pound short-faced bear could run 40 mph for up to a mile and was more rapacious than modern bears.

Other predators roaming the region were dire wolves, saber-toothed tigers, grizzly bears and giant condors.

That’s only 500 generations of humans ago. People were probably pretty much like we are now. I imagine folks found ways to make life safer for their kids….and that would have involved killing those dangerous beasts.

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Toola the sea otter, dead at 15.

Toola and one of her foster babies


She taught mankind how to help her species, while she taught orphan sea otters how to live.

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Deep water wind farms promise renewable energy for Pacific Coast

Offshore wind power is a great renewable resource which is already being tapped successfully in relatively shallow water areas. Much of our population is near oceans, so these installations minimize transmission losses. The Pacific coast, however, becomes deeper much more quickly than other areas of the world, creating mooring problems for offshore wind installations, particularly if there are objections to the turbines being visible from shore.

Someday decades from now, California’s sprawling coastal cities could draw their power from floating windmills that bob on the sea like buoys, far from shore.

Their blades would spin over deep ocean water, turning in winds that are steadier and stronger than they are on land. Undersea cables would send their electricity to shore.

This kind of floating windmill has not yet been deployed en masse. But a model of one sits in the Berkeley office of Principle Power, one of several companies trying to tap the powerful winds at sea.

Principle has signed agreements with utilities to test its device, called the WindFloat, off the coasts of Oregon and Portugal. Three connected canisters filled with ballast water will support a wind turbine, with cables mooring the entire device to the seabed.


Great animation here.

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Northern California garden snails are “escargot”

[In answer to a sudden influx of requests, Over the Line, Smokey!‘s crack agricultural import legal team has advised us that shipping, mailing or carrying snails across state lines, or enabling such conduct, might result in lengthy prison terms and/or massive fines. OTL,S!, therefore, will not send you snails, unless you live in California, in which case you don’t need anyone to send you snails.]

Yes, those brown and yellow garden snails you host in your backyard are the same animals that are served as a delicacy in Europe. In fact, they were imported from France in the 19th century for that purpose, but the American palate did not cooperate. They have migrated to the wild.

the local common garden snail is the European brown — Helix aspersa. They were imported here in the early 1850s by a Frenchman who intended to sell them as food, but the market here during the Gold Rush was too unsophisticated for snails. He ended up dumping some snails, and another collection escaped. Snails are hermaphroditic, so of course they reproduced like crazy.The real enemy of snails is bad weather — snails need a mild climate to survive in, because they freeze. They also don’t do well if it’s too hot and dry. They don’t live all over the United States, you know. People in Wisconsin never have snails in their garden. Neither do my Italian grandparents in New Jersey..

As far as preparation, there is only one problem:

What you have to do first with snails is purify them, because — well, for all you know, they might have just eaten some snail bait. They don’t put arsenic in snail bait anymore, but a lot of snail-bait products do contain insecticide, and carbaryl is not something you want to eat.

Typically, the purification ritual lasts for two weeks. You purge snails by feeding them greens or corn meal — something like that. I just feed them corn meal, and I give them water and I change their food almost daily until I know that their systems are clean.

What kind of pen do you use? If someone wants to venture into snail ranching, what equipment should they buy?

Don’t use a cardboard box, because snails can chew through cardboard with their teeth, their little rasping mouthparts. A friend of mine keeps his snails in an old bathtub. I use a big plastic recycling bin. Remember to keep it covered, or they will escape.

Then it’s pretty routine:

After your snails are purified, how do you cook them?

You boil them first for 10-15 minutes. This forms an incredibly disgusting scum that you must keep cleaning off and cleaning off and cleaning off the top until it’s clear — you might even need to change the water. When the scum is gone, you know the snails are okay — they’re done.

After the snails die, most of them separate from their shells, but some you need to pull out — that’s easy. When they’re all removed, you just chop up the snails, dice them up fine and mix them with olive oil, garlic, butter and parsley. Mix them all together, stuff everything back into the snail shells and then bake them until they’re hot and bubbly.

If you don’t want to deal with the difficulty of stuffing shells and eating them out of shells, you can just cook them inside mushroom caps or in baking dishes that have little depressions. Italians also sometimes use snails in pasta sauce.

So grab that recipe book, and get busy. I’m sure your neighbors will be happy to have you “hunt” their property.


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