An open letter to the UNC community

I was a doubter when Holden Thorp was first appointed to be the UNC Chancellor, but he has turned out to be the best thing to happen to South Building in decades. I’ve been surprised to see some of my friends blaming Thorp for UNC’s athletics scandal and acting as if staff abuse of med air flights was a capital crime.

Thorp clearly seems guilty of trusting Matt Kupec too much, and allowing him to waste taxpayer dollars. But Thorp is also a tremendously thoughtful and effective leader of this hugely complex academic institution. One stupid screw-up wasting money does not outweigh the great job he has done for many thousands of students, for Orange County, and for the state of North Carolina. In fact, I think he’s due a lot of credit for the badly-needed daylight that’s been shed on UNC athletics.

The Chancellor’s position has become untenable now because of athletic boosters and anti-intellectuals like Art Pope pounding the drums of “scandal.” These people are not concerned with the quality of education available to North Carolinians. Of course the Kupec/Hansbrough thing was a big mistake, but it doesn’t make Thorp unfit to do all the many things required of a good university chancellor. Let’s don’t blame Thorp for having to clean up the mess left by decades of athletic corruption and mismanagement.

And with Pope stacking the BOG with his Republican pals and getting himself appointed to a new panel on the future of the UNC system, I’m afraid the next Chancellor will be someone that doesn’t care about Chapel Hill and does whatever the Ram’s Club wants. This will also not be a person who is able to fight off Pope’s decimation of the state educational system.

I urge the Chancellor to reconsider, and I call on students, alumni, faculty, and staff to continue to show support for Holden Thorp. The reason I love the Tar Heels is that I love the institution they represent. The Carolina Way means academic integrity and fair play. If we give UNC over to Art Pope and the Ram’s Club, I won’t have much to cheer for.

Sincerely,

Ruby Sinreich,

UNC class of 1993

Being a Buddhist on Veteran’s Day

I’ve had several interesting conversations on Twitter and Facebook today about my discomfort with the way we celebrate Veteran’s Day here in the United States. This is exacerbated by the fact that the UNC men’s basketball team is playing their thrilling season opener against Michigan State tonight on an aircraft carrier in honor of Veteran’s Day. I’ve been looking forward to this game for months, and yet so much of the hoopla around it is wrapped in a flag and holding a gun. This really comes home when I think about how it will feel to watch this with Izzy. It’s the first time we’ll really be watching basketball together as a family, something I have anticipated since he was born just days before UNC won the national championship in 2009.

Coach Roy Williams said about this game “To me, it’s a way of honoring our military. That’s what it boils down to.” I’m left wondering if I’m still allowed to enjoy the game even though I’m pacifist. I’m not opposed to their service, but I don’t really want to honor it any more than I do teachers, civil rights activists, peace corps members, doctors without borders, and so many others that also make sacrifices to benefit the global community.

Here are some excerpts of the conversation on Facebook (Twitter has been, well, less productive):


Ruby: Trying to balance my excitement about watching UNC basketball tonight with my revulsion at the showbiz celebration of government-trained killers in the “Carrier Classic.”

Let’s just play some good basketball and try to ignore the camo-themed uniforms.
5 hours ago

D: Let’s not blame the soldiers for the decisions of their leaders.
5 hours ago

G: Thank you for this Ruby. I think it’s kind of a neat place to play a basketball game, but the military tie-in disgusts me as well, and I wasn’t sure if it was just my anti-Tar Heel bias kicking in.
5 hours ago

Ruby: D, the leaders are due a lot of blame, but anyone holding a gun has to be responsible for what comes out of it. I appreciate that many military members are trying to protect and serve the country, but there are ways to do that without violence and I don’t see national holidays and showbiz beatification of those peace corps or Americorps members, civil rights activists, teachers, community leaders, etc.*
5 hours ago

D: I can appreciate your point of view. But I also know that many young men and women coming out of high school have limited opportunities for supporting themselves and their families, and the military training, benefits and salaries can be quite an incentive for folks for whom college and other types of advanced training are out of reach for economic or academic reasons. I also believe there are just (WWII, and to a more limited degree, Afghanistan) and unjust (Iraq) wars, and that the blame for the latter rests with our elected leaders (and ourselves for supporting them) much more so than the mostly underprivileged soldiers we send off to die in them.
5 hours ago

M: Okay people. Please keep in mind who your friends are on Facebook and that what you write could strike a very sensitive chord. This subject matter is different from vaccinations and choice and occupy wall street. If you haven’t had a family member serving in the military you have no idea what you’re talking about.
4 hours ago

G: M, I understand. But I find it sorta patronizing when people tell me that because I don’t have X I can’t say Y. I appreciate the sacrifices that veterans have and continue to make, but I think we’re able to comment on whether or not we think it’s appropriate to be linking militarization with college sports without causing too much harm to society.
3 hours ago

M: G, my husband lost his right arm in Iraq and was two steps away from losing his life. His politics are generally middle to liberal, he is a well-educated thoughtful human being, and his reasons for joining the military are complex and rational. And he did carry a gun in another country and he got blown up. What you learn when you are exposed to the military culture is that his story is not uncommon. Many of the Marines I’ve met are the most loyal, generous, thoughtful, and trustworthy people I know. Often their reasons for joining the military run parallel to my reasons for becoming a doctor. As always there is something to be said for acceptance and open-mindedness. And further best be careful what you say about the military around the wife of a wounded veteran because she will lose her shit.
2 hours ago

W: A soldier’s duty, his or her discipline, is to follow orders and ship out when sent. Soldiers do not make policy, they take an oath to defend the Constitution. When policy makers circumvent the Constitution, well, we see the results. Our friend Dubya has destroyed countless lives and will never stand trial for war crimes. Support the troops. Oppose the war.

“Leadership gains authority and respect when the voiceless poor are treated fairly.” – Proverbs 29:14 (The Message)

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” – Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
about an hour ago

G: M I appreciate your husband’s service and sacrifice.
about an hour ago

J: I’m a Vietnam-era vet who agrees with Ruby.
57 minutes ago

M2: The more one reads and learns about the history of wars, the more apparent it is that soldiers are pawns in a dirty game of power & wealth accrual. I personally support each troop on a personal level, but to parrot that I Supprt the Troops is to acquiesce to propaganda.
52 minutes ago

Ruby: M, thanks so much for writing and not just being quietly mad at me. :-) You know I care about you and Jon. And I have had other friends and even family in the military.

I didn’t like Jon’s choice to join the Marines in the first place, but I don’t think any less of him for disagreeing with me. I don’t think he’s wrong for wanting to help other people through military service. What I have a problem with every day, but especially today, is when the appreciation of that service is done in a way that approches hero worship, excludes recognition of the pain of war, and also fails to recognize the wide range of ways that a person can sacrifice and serve their community.

I think the origin of Veteran’s Day is Armistice Day, which was a day celebrating the END of violence while appreciating those who served and especially those who were lost in war. I like that idea better than the big Hollywood Veteran’s Day – as we are seeing played out on the USS Carl Vinsson tonight, for example.

As a Buddhist, I just don’t believe in solving problems through violence, although I can usually make room for self defense (great article exploring this: www.susanpiver.com/wordpress/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-is-dead-one-buddhists-response/). So I am not going to get to a place of feeling “rah rah” about our troops, even though I understand that they are trying to help and are making decisions that make sense to them in their own contexts.

I respect most military service members, but I do sometimes wonder if the feeling is mutual.
12 minutes ago


* Except maybe the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Two more Carolina women drafted

Congrats to LaToya and Erlana! Also my still-favorite player Ivory Latta moved from the Detroit Shock to the Atlanta Dream this year which is great for everybody (especially her, with family in South Carolina).

North Carolina seniors LaToya Pringle and Erlana Larkins became the 13th and 14th players in school history to be selected in the WNBA Draft Wednesday afternoon. Pringle was chosen 13th overall by the Phoenix Mercury and Larkins was the picked 14th by the New York Liberty.

University of North Carolina Tar Heels Official Athletic Site

Perpetual basketball calendar

UNC Can you smell it? Carolina Basketball season is almost here!

I have done my annual slogging through the schedule to create a calendar that I can put into iCal and my phone, and I did it in Google so that you can use it too. There are a few other UNC basketball calendars out there, but none of them have the women’s team. Mine is the only one with both the men and women’s calendars. I add each season to the same calendar, so you only have to subscribe once and will get the dates automatically year after year.

Here are some ways you can subscribe (or you can browse the schedule below): XML, ICAL, HTML, or Google.

Continue reading

To do: send your love to Cleveland

I am seriously considering the Friday morning event, but I can’t do Sunday night. Given how hard it is for me to just stay awake for these evening games, I’m safer watching them at home. 😉

Women’s Basketball Send-Off from Carmichael! – Friday, March 30th

* Send the UNC Women’s Basketball team off to the Final Four in Cleveland!
* Fans should gather @ 7:30 AM Carmichael Auditorium, Team will be leaving at 8:00am.
* Parking Available in Hwy 54 Lot and Rams Head Deck$1.25 per hour
* Parking available in Cobb Deck and South Road for FREE.


Game Viewing Party! – Sunday, April 1

* Carmichael Auditorium Sunday @ 9:00pm vs. Tennessee
* Doors open @ 8:00pm-FREE admission
* Concessions will be available.
* FREE Parking available at the Cobb Deck, Hwy 54 Lot, Boshamer, and Bell Tower Lots
* Parking in the Rams Head Deck for $1.25/hr
* Disability parking: South Road meters, School of Govt. deck
* Media Parking-School of Govt. Deck
* Enter through the Front Doors of Carmichael
* First 100 fans get a Camille Little Growth Chart!

Both events have been added to Ruby’s Unofficial Basketball Calendar.

Double whammy for Tarheels

(Cross-posted from OrangePolitics.)

Hours after the men’s basketball team fell to Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, a student who cheers the team as Rameses passed away after being hit by an SUV on Friday. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jason Ray.

Also, consolations to seniors Rayshawn Terry, Wes Miller, and Biscuits of the men’s basketball team that had a very frustrating end to an exciting season. Fortunately, the women’s team marches on. Don’t miss the last games for super-talented seniors Ivory Latta and Camille Little. Next game is against Purdue in the Elite 8 on Tuesday at 9:30 on ESPN and WCHL.

WTF UNC?

Carolina is now out of the NCAA tournament after losing to Georgetown 96-84. I believe UNC has had 7 losses this season, but this was by far the most inexplicable. After leading throughout most of the game, Georgetown started to make a scoring run while UNC started to shoot nothing but high-risk 3-point shots, missing every single one until the final seconds of the game.

By the end when they were down by 10 points with a minute left, I could understand putting up 3-pointers. But we were ahead until we started using that strategy. Then the game went into overtime in which we scored no points until last 8 seconds. Roy Williams is a great coach, but I can’t understand what they were thinking with this strategy. Someone needs to explain.

Fortunately, the season is not over for the women, who play in the Sweet 16 against George Washington tonight at 9:30. I expect them to stay in this tournament until the bitter (or sweet) end!

Get yer red, hot schedule

March Madness is in full swing, and after suffering through someone else’s not-very-well updated men’s calendar (which didn’t include tournament games!) and making my own schedule to publish the UNC women’s basketball schedule, I have finally got it all together in one place.

Introducing Ruby’s Unofficial Basketball Calendar. Never miss a game again!

This includes both the men’s and women’s teams and includes the regular season, general tournament dates, and specific times for tournament games (when they become available). You can view it on the web, subscribe to via RSS, put in your Outlook or iCal, or add it directly to your Google calendar.

Each game title is preceded by a “[M]” or “[W]” depending on which team is playing, and the TV broadcast info is included in the event description. Please try it out and let me know what you think.

And please watch the women’s games – the very last that seniors Ivory Latta and Camille Little will be playing as students at Carolina. You don’t want to miss it when we go all the way to the NCAA Championship!

NC State 70 – Duke 65

It’s unusual for me to root for NC State, they’re Carolina‘s #2 rival. But our chief rival and bogeyman is Duke. In today’s ACC semi-final, NC State (#4) beat the undefeated Duke. I love this for so many reasons:

  1. As a true Carolina fan, it’s always nice to see Duke lose. (The Waner sisters and their ponytails are especially bile-inducing for me.)
  2. State played really well in spite of several injuries and three bad foul calls against Gillian Goring who fouled out. And it’s great to see the success of NC State coach Kay Yow who fought back breast cancer to re-take the helm of her team mid-way through this season.
  3. If Carolina wins the other semi-final (starting right now) I’d rather have us play State, with whom we are one and one this year, than Duke, who beat us twice and who was undefeated this year until today.

Woo hoo. Go Wolfpack and GO HEELS!

Blazing Saddles versus blazing heels

Wow. This might be enough to tear me away from the televised UNC women’s basketball game against FSU.

Hollywood screenwriter and producer Norman Steinberg, who co-wrote the screenplay for Mel Brooks’ landmark 1974 Western comedy “Blazing Saddles,” will show and discuss the movie at 7 p.m. Monday in 116 Murphey Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Admission is free.
newsobserver.com | ‘Blazing Saddles’ to be topic of talk

I love Blazing Saddles. It had a huge impact on the development of my sense of humor when I was in high school. (Other key comedic influences included Monty Python and The Young Ones.) So much so that I already own it on DVD. According to IMdB, Norman Steinberg hasn’t done to much else to make me get off the couch. Heels it is!