"I stopped at a small hotel outside the city that was on a cliff, with the entire Atlantic Ocean below it. In the lobby there was a middle-aged European man. He took a look at my passport and then he said 'Wallenberg? Are you Swedish? Are you a relative of Raoul?'
"'Yes,' I said, 'his second cousin.' Then he beamed at me, this hotel receptionist and said, 'I will make sure that you receive our finest room with a view of the ocean. And whatever you need, Mr. Wallenberg, you have only to ask.'
Peter Wallenberg taps his pipe on the side of the ashtray. "This came a little unexpectedly and I didn't know much about Raoul. I must have looked quite puzzled. 'You understand,' the man went on, 'Raoul Wallenberg saved my life.'"
(From Ingrid Carlberg's "Raoul Wallenberg: The Heroic Life and Mysterious Disappearance of the Man Who Saved Thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust"--more info about this book at the end of the diary)
The hotel receptionist above was far from a rarity: Raoul Wallenberg, Michigan class of 1935, saved tens of thousands of lives while in Budapest during WWII. He grew up in a prominent Swedish family, and in 1944 traveled to Budapest, Hungary with the mission of saving Jewish lives. Secretly funded primarily by Americans, his official status as a diplomat of neutral Sweden gave him some protection and independence. He quickly realized that evacuating Jews from Budapest would be incredibly inefficient, and instead turned to protecting their lives in Budapest. He created a "Schutzpass" document--which appeared official and supposedly granted the holder the protection of Sweden, then risked his life to argue with Hungarian and German officials for it to be accepted. He rode a fine line between protecting as many as possible without undermining its legitimacy--but the most tenuous connection with Sweden was sometimes enough for his team (eventually consisting of hundreds of staff-members, many of them rescued Jews) to issue a Schutzpass, and as the Soviet Army approached, Wallenberg declared that any application must be approved.
Wallenberg developed a system of Swedish safe-houses, and eventually worked to create a separate international ghetto for Jews under protection from Sweden and other neutral powers. He created a rescue team that worked to protect those under Swedish protection--in some instances, they would impersonate Nazi officials in order to demand Jews from death marches, and then return them to Budapest. For his actions, Wallenberg was a target of multiple assassination attempts.
As the Soviet Red Army approached and others fled, the Swedish team stayed in Budapest in order to prevent a final catastrophic act by the Arrow Cross (essentially Hungarian Nazis). As the Soviets approached, Wallenberg went out to meet them and present his plan to rebuild Budapest. He was initially protected by the Soviets, but was soon arrested by direct order from Stalin himself, who believed Wallenberg to be a Nazi spy--not only was the Soviet system under Stalin incredibly paranoid, but it simply could not believe that Wallenberg would do what he did.
The Swedes, who could not believe that the Soviet Union would take a neutral diplomat prisoner, missed several signals from the USSR that they had done exactly that. The Soviets took the lack of Swedish response as confirmation of Wallenberg's status as a spy. For years, the USSR denied knowing anything about Wallenberg's whereabouts and intentionally muddied the waters, claiming he had been killed near Budapest. Eventually, in 1957, the Soviet Union would acknowledge that Wallenberg was taken prisoner, but said he died of a heart attack in 1947. Whether that story is true, or he was executed at that time, or survived hidden in the Soviet Gulag system for many years after, remains a mystery.
Wallenberg's Schutzpass alone is credited with saving the lives of 20,000 Hungarian Jews. Wallenberg's work in total is often credited with saving at least 30,000, and some say he deserves credit for every Hungarian Jew who survived the war--a total of approximately 100,000.
I learned of Raoul Wallenberg when I had some time to waste before a meeting near Rackham, and noticed the sculpture by the Southeast corner of the building, dedicated to his actions. There is also a sculpture in front of the Art and Architecture building on North Campus (he was an architecture graduate) which states simply "One person can make a difference."
For those interested in learning more, check out the university's page at http://wallenberg.umich.edu and reading the biographical sections.
If you're interested in a much more thorough understanding of the man, I recommend an excellently researched biography I just finished reading by Ingrid Carlberg, "Raoul Wallenberg: The Heroic Life and Mysterious Disappearance of the Man Who Saved Thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust" (Which is the source of the quote at the top.) It interestingly omits or limits many of the heroic stories of physical action in Budapest--perhaps some of the stories are more legend than truth, or perhaps they simply cannot be documented well-enough for the author--but she otherwise does an outstanding job telling the story of his upbringing including his time in at Michigan (although he doesn't enjoy it in the beginning, he quickly becomes a fan), his amazing work in Budapest to create a large burocracy aimed at protecting Jews, as well as his time in Soviet custody, and how efforts to learn more have faltered and failed. Interestingly, one of the primary reasons his story has been told was that the CIA pushed it, wanting to create problems between Sweden and the USSR.
If you live near Ann Arbor, consider attending the lectures of the university's Wallenberg Medal, awarded each year since 1990. I attended memorable lectures by Paul Rusesabagina (whose story was told in Hotel Rwanda) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Other receipients have included Aung San Suu Kyi, John Lewis, the Dalai Lama, and Elie Wiesel, as well as Per Anger who worked with Wallenberg in Budapest, and Wallenberg's half-sister Nina Lagergren.
This topic has popped up on the MGoBoard periodically over my time here so I wanted to share my experience with cord cutting. I want to start by saying I don't work for any of the companies mentioned nor do I get anything from them if you switch.
I was a Comcast subscriber for years (first during my time in AA then when I first moved out to DC) and I thought the service was good but the price was too high. I was paying over $120 for the most basic cable and internet bundle. This included 120 channels and 25 Mbps internet and HD DVR. Most of those channels I never watched, in fact with Netflix nad Hulu, the only live programming I watched were sports and GoT.
I recently discovered an App called Playstation Vue. It works a lot like Sling TV but it is better in my opinion. Playstation Vue can be accessed only on a playstation (3 or 4) or Amazon Fire TV. I had Apple TV before (I thought it was great) but I switched to save money. If you already have Fire TV or a Playstation 3/4 you don't need anything else. Amazon Fire TV is $85 (at least at the BestBuy where I got them) and a Playstation 3 is about $220 with a Playstation 4 running about $350.
You must create a log in for playstation if you don't already have one, butat it is free. However, once you create the profile (which can be done on a computer/tablet/phone) you will need to sign up for the service on a Fire TV or Playstation. At this point you will have to enter your credit card information. However, there is a 7 day trial so if you don't like it in your first week, you can always cancel and pay nothing.
Playstation Vue has 3 different packages you can choose from one that hass 55 channels for $30/month one that has 70 channels for $35 and one with 100 channels for $45. I purchased the $35 option becuase it has ESPN 1/2/U/News, FS1 and FS2 and BTN with alternates. It obviously has more channels but those are relevant ones for the purposes of this blog.
In addition to more channels, one advantage the Vue has over Sling TV is that you can stream on up to 5 devices under the same account, while Sling TV only allows 1 stream.
I recently added RCN internet and local channels when I dropped Comcast. I pay $50/month for the 70 channels that could be picked up with an antenna (though not with a lot of consistency) and 155 Mbps wifi (which is probably overkill).
So total I am paying $85 for something I was paying $120 for. Saving $35 a month seems like a no-brainer.
One thing most of you will ask is how are the live sports? I will tell you my expericence so far. When I first ordered the Vue with my old Comcast internet (25 Mbps) I was watching baseball and it was not the best quality. After I switched to RCN with my 155 Mbps internet, I watched the Kentucky spring football game on the league of extraordinary bagmen channel and it was if I had not switched at all! While the quality of play on the field was subpar, the clarity was great!
Now for the drawbacks, and there are a few. First, it only has NBC and Fox locals as part of the package. If you live in an area where an antenna can reliably pick up the local channels, this will be of no concern to you. If you want your local channels, such as ABC and CBS, then you will have to pay for them from your cable company, those this option is pretty inexpensive from most cable companies.
The second note of caution is your internet speed and the size of your dwelling. I live in a one bedroom apartment with my modem/router in the center of the apartment. I also have one of the Amazon Fire boxes plugged directly into the modem via ethernet cable. The internet I have is ridiculously fast, the guy who installed it said 50 Mbps would have been sufficient but for $10, I thought it was worth it. Obviously the slower your internet speed and the further away your Fire TV is from your router, the worse your picture will be. I suggest you try test these things during your 7 day trial period.
The last thing I would caution against it internet data caps. Some companies have them and streaming live TV will use a lot of data. You want to make sure your internet company doesn't have a data cap.
On balance, I think this is a good alternative to cable and I suggest you give it a try!
Sanity Check: Will having a first year quarterback prevent Michigan from competing for a national title?
Edit: this diary is not meant to be taken as a homer-rific prognostication of making or winning the playoffs, but only looks to dissuade the notion that Michigan cannot reach or win the playoffs solely because of the QB situation.
As many of you may have noticed, Michigan has been ranked inside the top 4 in quite a few national “way too early” Top 25 polls. Of course, if Michigan were to finish in the top 4, that would mean that we would be competing in the 3rd edition of the NCAA football playoffs.
Many jimmies across the land have been rustled (and many revenue-friendly clicks generated) because of this lofty ranking bestowed upon Michigan football in these meaningless pre-preseason polls. This playoff prognostication has driven any or all of the following reactions in the Michigan community, in no particular order:
Meanwhile, other fanbases be like
One of the reasons that I see cited most frequently that Michigan should not be ranked so highly is because we will be breaking a new quarterback (and we don't even know who that quarterback will be). Admittedly, this does feel like a pretty valid reason to expect that Michigan will not reach the very top of the football post-season. Because of this, I've decided to investigate a simple question: ignoring other factors, has having a first year QB historically prevented teams from making the national title game?
I’ve compiled a list of the national champions and runner-ups from each of the past seasons from 2000-2015. The list includes starting quarterback, whether or not the quarterback was a first year starter, and if so, what year the quarterback was at in that point in their career. Behold:
|Year||Name||QB||1st yr starter?||Year||Name||QB||1st yr starter?||Year|
|2000||Oklahoma||J. Heupel||N||FSU||C. Weinke||N|
|2001||Miami||K. Dorsey||N||Nebraska||E. Crouch||N|
|2002||Ohio State||C. Krenzel||Y||RS JR||Miami||K. Dorsey||N|
|2003||LSU||M. Mauck||Y||RS JR||Oklahoma||J. White||Y||JR|
|2004||USC||M. Leinart||Y||JR||Oklahoma||J. White||N|
|2005||Texas||V. Young||N||USC||M. Leinart||N|
|2006||Florida||C. Leak||N||Ohio State||T. Smith||N|
|2007||LSU||M. Flynn||Y||RS SR||Ohio State||T. Boeckman||Y||RS SR|
|2008||Florida||T. Tebow||N||Oklahoma||S. Bradford||N|
|2009||Alabama||G. McElroy||Y||JR||Texas||C. McCoy||N|
|2010||Auburn||C. Newton||Y||JR||Oregon||D. Thomas||Y||RS FR|
|2011||Alabama||A. McCarron||Y||SO||LSU||J. Jefferson||N|
|2012||Alabama||A. McCarron||N||Notre Dame||E. Golson||Y||RS FR|
|2013||FSU||J. Winston||Y||FR||Auburn||N. Marshall||Y||JR|
|2014||Ohio State||C. Jones||Y*||SO||Oregon||M. Mariota||N|
|2015||Alabama||J. Coker||Y||SR||Clemson||D. Watson||Y||SO|
Huh. Exactly half of the teams competing in the National Title game over the last 16 years were using first year starting QBs. Interestingly, 10 first year QBs won the national title, while only 6 lost (and 5 of those were facing other first year starters!)
Also interestingly, many or most of the guys on the list were not perceived as "big-time" quarterbacks. The data seems to indicate that even younger first year QBs can, in fact, play in, and win the national title, but will probably be an athletic QB in a high-powered spread offense, so that will not apply to us.
Michigan seems to have most other pieces in place going into the year - we have what looks like a dominating defense (LB questions notwithstanding), solid-to-great skill position players on offense (Chesson, Butt, Darboh, PEPPERS), and a pretty solid, if not overly deep or dominating offensive line. Our QB options do not look like absolute stars, but they don't need to be, if the above data is taken into account.
In conclusion, yes, it is entirely possible for a team to not only make, but win the national title with a first year starting quarterback, and not necessarily a star quarterback. There is a lot of historical precedent that bodes well for Michigan in 2016 in terms of the quarterback situation.
This is an admittedly over-simplified analysis, only intended to disprove the notion I've seen across the web that our QB situation will prevent us from making the playoffs or winning it all this year.
That's all I got, but for those of you who read this far, here's an unrelated bonus gif (one of my absolute favorites of all time):
June 1 - Thursday
Liveblog from game 5 of the Pistons vs. Heat Eastern Conference finals. Here is the box score if anyone is interested. Lots of good stuff here, but I will just add this early autobench gripe:
Then some other stuff happens... Wade gets his second and is yanked with 12 seconds let in the half, which brings me to a pet peeve of mine: why is it verboten to play Wade with 12 seconds left in the half but okay at the start of the third? Do you get spanked if you have a player with three fouls before the half?
A game recap to accompany the liveblog.
If -- and I want to stress "if," as the chances the Pistons win the next two are certainly below 50 percent -- the Pistons manage to win this series, then no matter what happens in the Finals they'll have cemented their reputation as best Rasputins in the history of the NBA*. Shot, stabbed, drowned, maimed, assaulted with hamburgers, attacked by leering gangs of bicyclists, thrown from a balloon, shot across the Channel in a V2 rocket, beaten, locked in a room with Stephen A. Smith on speed, run over by extremely determined ant skateboarders, abducted, or stuffed into the overhead compartment on a flight to hell: it matters not. What yesterday seemed like an insurmountable challenge is now just one slightly improbable road win followed by game seven in the Palace. It could happen. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.
June 2 - Friday
Recruiting board update. Steve Paskorz commits to ND. Toney Clemons is Steve Breaston’s cousin.
June 3 - Saturday
The Pistons lost game 6 and the series. Brian says it was because they were out coached. Now, speculation begins on what Ben will do in the offseason.
June 5 - Monday
Brian gives fair warning that if you hate soccer, you’re not going to enjoy the upcoming contents of the blog (World Cup coverage). I must admit to only following soccer peripherally, so my comments on the soccer posts will be pretty light.
Brief recruiting board update mentioning John Ditto and Taurian Washington.
June 6 - Tuesday
Unverified Voracity: Yee Haw Hee Haw includes a comparison of top 100 rankings for Rivals and Scout. Also this is of interest to Lions’ fans:
Something you must know: Tennessee's Jim Bob Cooter was arrested for DUI. God willing, this was a moonshine incident.
June 7 - Wednesday
Brian gives a defense of soccer.
It seems the best way to shore up your average comment count is to declare that the World Cup is of interest and that you intend to post on it. It also helps if you then mis-date the next day's post so that the shocking revelation that you are some sort of hippie euro-snob fairy remains at or near the top of the blog for all red-white-and-blue blooded to see and fret over. If you, the blogger, do this, then you will return to see the soccer-sucks-no-it-doesn't sniping has bloomed like algae across any surface it can attach itself to. It's so bad that other noted college football bloggers have retreated to obscurer interwebs in a (thwarted) attempt to avoid serious loss of street cred.
June 8 - Thursday
There is a new MSU blog call Spartan Bob who is attacking the gameday atmosphere at the Big House. Brian’s assessment?
I do know that Spartan Stadium has all the atmosphere of your local Walmart and the class of the woman selling herself outside of it.
June 9 - Friday
The internet is down.
Unverified Voracity: Better Late. Chris Summers and Mark Mitera are looking good to join the hockey team.
June 10 - Saturday
Game recap of Trinidad and Tobago’s tie against Sweden.
June 12 - Monday
June 13 - Tuesday
Recruiting Board Update. Added David Molk and Troy Woolfolk. A few more notes about Molk camping at ND.
Zach Gibson is transferring to the basketball team from Rutgers, and Bryan Hogan has committed to the hockey team.
June 14 - Wednesday
There seems to be some progress in the attitude toward soccer in the US. There were various moments of outrage over the loss to the Czechs.
More hockey notes on Chris Summers and Mark Mitera.
June 15 - Thursday
A post containing various, murky insider tidbits. Some prove accurate (Junior Hemingway); some prove very murky (Ronald Johnson).
Edmonton beats Carolina to force game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals (In case you didn’t read the May edition, Brian has become a huge Oilers fan).
June 16 - Friday
Updates and corrections on the recruiting tidbits from the previous day. Taurian Washington is likely to commit soon.
Brian’s answers for an offseason roundtable on another blog. Most interesting is that Brian has never purchased any CFB preview magazines.
June 17 - Saturday
The game ends in a tie. Sounds like the US scored a goal that was called off because of offsides. Brian is not happy.
June 19 - Monday
Unverified Voracity: Fried Ice Cream. There is a new ‘M’ blog (Michigan Football Saturdays). One of the first posts is to highlight the 3rd annual “Carr Wash”. Apparently, this was a regular thing where players would wash cars at the stadium to raise money for charity. The link to the original post is still active, and I would recommend it for some great pictures of Alan Branch.
Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is about to begin. Brian pays tribute to the Cup and recaps Edmonton’s run through the playoffs.
June 20 - Tuesday
The Oilers lose game 7.
Still, today I'm going to shave the playoff beard and I will not be putting it in a plastic baggie carefully labeled Playoff Beard 2006(!) WOO! GOILERS! WOO! In times of stress I will not remove the baggie from its secure location, gingerly open it, and stroke the hairs therein as Michigan plays Notre Dame or my sixth wife says she wants to divorce me because I watch too much football or someone close to me is gravely ill or Michigan plays Ohio State.
June 21 - Wednesday
Unverified Voracity: They Will Suffer has details of the Big Ten’s renegotiated TV contract. Also this:
Also, the rumored Big Ten Channel is official. Coming next summer
June 22 - Thursday
USA vs. Ghana open thread (no content is still available).
Woolfolk is some sort of defensive back but is still sixteen and growing, so whether he ends up at corner or safety is yet to be determined.
Four years of college wouldn’t help to figure this out.
The US lost 2-1. Brian tries to figure out who to blame. I think soccer fans will find this line interesting:
Maybe the fault lies more at Donovan and Reyna and Beasley's feet than in Arena's head, but at this point I just want a Dutchman. Or Klinsmann. Or just anyone who doesn't remind me very strongly of Lloyd Carr with a two-touchdown lead.
June 23 - Friday
More NHL draft news regarding incoming ‘M’ freshmen.
June 26 - Monday
Recruiting Board Update. Lots about a legacy recruit named David Arnold. I couldn’t find much about him on the internet, but it looks like he might have ended up at Northwestern.
June 27 - Tuesday
Unverified Voracity: Seriously. Trevor Lewis, Mitera, and Summers were all taken in the 1st round of the NHL draft. Also, some quotes from Uni Watch about how the outrageous Oregon uniforms came to be.
Link to a helmet being auctioned off on Ebay. It has been signed by many current players and proceeds will go to charity.
June 28 - Wednesday
The first of the opponent previews. Up first: Michigan State.
On a micro level MSU is completely unpredictable week-to-week. On a macro level it's always Same Old Spartans.
In short, Stanton and Ringer are good. The O line, D line, and DBs are terrible. The linebackers are okay. (Also, a Josh Thornhill mention, so shoutout to his uncle Nay, a former co-worker of mine.)
June 29 - Thursday
Hello Reed Baker, and Brian is not pleased. It does sound pretty sketchy. He was dropped by the Citadel after their coach left, committed to Birmingham Southern but then they dropped from D-I to D-III because of finances, was offered a scholarship by the Air Force but couldn’t commit because of a severe peanut allergy, and finally was offered a scholarship by Amaker...who never saw him play in person. (It is interesting to contrast this to the leeway that Beilein still gets and deservedly so. “Oh, I guess he’s the next Spike Albrecht.”)
The Big 10 only had three team defenses give up fewer than 400 yards per game. Too much spread? Too many experienced QBs?
June 30 - Friday
Brian was born in Saudi Arabia? Here’s another offseason roundtable of bloggers, this one focusing on biographical information.
Also...Brian was in the World Series of Poker. Apparently we’re going to find out more in July.
If I get far enough to actually be on TV, and find myself in a big TV-worthy hand, I will tell the world that Lloyd Carr needs to stop punting on fourth and medium when a first down seals the game.
Unverified Voracity: Bakermania. Randy Walker has passed away. Also, more complaints about Reed Baker. Brian is fully on board with firing Amaker.
When announcing the schedule for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the conference's web release proclaimed, apparently proud of itself, that "Every [team will] play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period."
This is inane.
What if I told you that delay could be cut down to the point where you play every team in the conference twice every three years? The catch I'll put right up front: except for your designated rival, whom you play every year, you only get any other team twice every three years.
Caveat: I've done a quick search both on mgoblog and the rest of the web to see if anybody else has had this idea. I haven't found it elsewhere. If you came up with it first, claim credit!
Here's how it works: a 14-team conference can easily be split into you, your rival, and twelve other teams. Those "twelve others" can be broken down into three per-school pods of four each. In any given year, you play two of your pods.
Here's a sample of how the conference might be broken down:
Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to get the grid lines to show, but corresponding to this particular arrangement, we get the resulting schedule of opponents:
A couple notes:
- Each school and its rival play the same teams in any given year. Additionally, teams are paired up rival and rival, so that home/away sorts itself out fairly naturally. Unfortunately for perfect comparison purposes, although Michigan and Ohio State (say) have the same opponents, Michigan will e.g. play Iowa at home and Nebraska on the road while Ohio State gets Nebraska at home but has to travel to Iowa. I did not go through and work out what the whole home/away schedule would be, but the process should be fairly straightforward (if annoying) unless I've missed some crucial detail.
- The rivalry games are the 9th game on each team's schedule and naturally will alternate home and away.
- I set up this particular set of pods with the goal of making sure Michigan's home schedule stays interesting and fairly balanced every year. Some other pairs of schools come off well also (Iowa/Nebraska get balanced schedules, while Indiana/Purdue and Illinois/Northwestern are no worse off than they have to be) but others are unbalanced year to year based on current expectations (Penn State/MSU and Minnesota/Wisconsin get easy-hard-balanced, while Rutgers/Maryland get killer-balanced-balanced). I've played around with the pairings a bit to try to fix this and this was the best I could come up with.