CFB '23 - Week 9 Preview

CFB '23 - Week 9 Preview

Baked In The Clouds

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Emerson Started The Fire

There are several ways in which to wake up, decide you want to be charged with 83 counts of attempted murder and grace the digital covers of all before you return to sleep — assuming anyone sleeps much in the Multnomah County sneezer.

They usually involve pre-meditated evil, unfocused vengeance, political, religious or cultural anger, long-festering psychosis, accomplices even of the most passive variety, access to weapons that can effectively kill many people in a short amount of time, and so forth.

In one case that occurred Monday, it didn’t involve any of those things (probably). It also wasn’t “decided” (probably).

What I’m referring to is, in the pacing of today’s news cycle, dusty cheese. All the way back on Monday, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot hitched a ride from Everett to San Francisco on-board an Alaska flight. Because he’s a pilot, not only does he get a free ride where he needs to ride to, but he is allowed under certain circumstances to sit in the cockpit jumpseat. So his knees are basically in the backs of the two operational pilots of the aircraft. Right next to all the dials and levers.

And our man, here, Joseph Emerson, sprung up mid-flight and tried to pull the fire suppressant levers. When this occurs, the plane’s engines shut down and the plane effectively glides. Usually doesn’t end well.

He wrestled with the first officer for awhile, was prevented from getting the levers all the way down, then was calmly marched to the back of the plane, duct taped to some other spare seat that could have housed him in the first place, tried to open the emergency exit at one point, and just chilled until arrested.

Emerson looks like a typical middle-aged white San Franciscan male.

Whoops. That’s Zoot from last week’s email. Yes, we re-use each previous week’s email as a template for the next week’s email. Sue us.

Emerson looks like this.

But, Why?

I fly a lot. I fly Alaska Airlines a lot. For those of you in the central and eastern time zones, Alaska is not the rinky-dink airline you’ve likely been led to believe that it is, based on the sole gate and tiny check-in real estate it likely commands at your preferred airport.

It is the fifth-largest airline in the U.S. It is a real thing and not a fringe thing.

Watching the increasing mainstreaming of violence or inimical activity in America onto that subway you used to ride, or that bridge you used to cross, or that outdoor seating area you once ate a meal in, or that shopping mall you once went to, is one thing.

Seeing it mainstreaming up in the sky — your sky — is another thing. It’s not just that weird things happen in the skies between Seattle and Portland, it’s that the weirdest ( things happen in the skies between Seattle and Portland. There is an aviatic lineage here. (Note: We pledge that the first Onioner to join with either first or last name Cooper be nicknamed “D.B.” If you don’t know what we’re talking about, please click the link above).

But Emerson is not worthy of the Original Hijacker’s debonair mystique, back when good ole’ American villains almost found it distasteful to harm innocent bystanders.

No. It turns out Emerson had just taken some psychedelics and wanted to “wake up,” so he, you know, pulled the fire suppressants. Like what you’d reach for in a dream. It is the most I-5 corridor of crimes: His reactions were drug-induced. They just played out on a far more perilous stage than most.

Had he succeeded, this incident would have reached Stephen Paddock-grade levels of “But, Why?” By sheer death-count, it would have exceeded said levels.

But he didn’t.

This will all fade away from the news cycle for reasons beyond the fact that our news cycle has an aggressive, corporatized amnesia. In the short term, it will fade because as I type this, a breaking news alert has popped up on the ole' phone, like a demented order to the kitchen on a restaurant POS system, for 16 deaths in Lewiston, Maine, at the hands of a mass shooter.

It will fade in the long term because no one was killed, or even hurt. It will fade because it is nuanced. Because it is just sad. It will go die in the Mariana Trench of discarded items that aren’t blatant and ongoing enough to merit the public’s attention. It will be left to be discussed in online forums, select X threads, errant dinner party conversation in the next few days (“Did you hear?”).

And then it will vanish.

Thanks For This Lighthearted Email So Far, Commish

The episode reminds us that amidst the historical constant of tribes trying to kill one another, amid mass murder and ideological fervor, sometimes shit just occurs at random. Yes, Emerson chose to put his mind in a position where he could act erratically, or just blank out at the wall. That was an affirmative choice.

But unlike everything from targeted mass shootings to, say, the war in the Middle East, the choices after that choice were truly chaotic and random because they were not choices. They were of no human control because he was not in control of himself. It’s like dropping marbles on a slightly uneven surface and watching them roll - you don’t know where it’s all headed specifically, but it’s messy.

Had he repeated the episode 100 times, it no doubt would have manifested in 100 different ways.

And so, a question and an observation for the Polis.

The Question:

Is it more psychologically comforting or less psychologically comforting that, even though he did eventually attempt to do the violence, Emerson didn’t wake up and decide to do the violence? That it manifested as part of the randomness of self-induced psychosis in which we can only assume he didn’t know what that was actually doing?

Nothing pre-meditated, just the flicker of spontaneity like a fire with the flu suddenly opened.

The people he would have killed weren’t of the wrong race, religion, belief system, etc. He didn’t know enough about them to even mistakenly have a reason to kill them. They were just present - not in the wrong place at the wrong time around someone who had a clear aim to harm, but in the wrong place at the wrong time around an unpredictable force that wasn’t able to be identified as a force at all.

The Observation:

A report from ABC News indicated that Emerson told officers he had been depressed for years and that a friend of his had just died. This could be pervasively insightful or complete bullshit.

Regardless, it reminds us that community matters. One makes the leap, absent of further information, that Emerson was struggling. Perhaps he wasn’t around enough people who could have, likely without even knowing, influenced the errata of his decision-making, Butterfly Effect-style, to where he wouldn’t have put himself in the position that he did. Perhaps he lacked community.

We live in an era where, especially for younger people, community is eroded and propped back up with cheap, largely digital facsimiles designed to trick us into believing we haven’t lost anything.

I had lunch yesterday with someone whose father just died. I am fortunate enough to be in the same location as this person. This affords us the ability to connect in person.

At one point we covered a problem with the urn involved in the memorial service. The urn wasn’t fitting in the area the urn needed to fit into for burial. Backup urns were ordered. Tops of one urn were being force-fit onto bottoms of other urns for height purposes. Hammers were invoked. "Urn" is funny word. Then there was a tangential inquiry about whether there existed a same-day urn industry. Are there people who for some reason need an urn in, like, six hours. Is someone calling a hotline with a desperate urn need? Was the url taken?

We laughed until we cried.

This is a facile example and a sole interaction. But what if this person was another Onioner? (They were). What if we just met recently? (We did).

Are there new ways that we as a society can build communal interactions of merit and worth (not seven Barstool Sports employees having a contest about who can curse the loudest while filming themselves watching a game together on a couch) out of passtimes that we’ve forgotten are shared?

And could we some day build them with something as borderless and inane as a college football email and a concomitant seasonlong competition?

A More Exotic Menu

This week’s card has a theme, and no it’s not “fewer games than normal, with fewer games than usual that I care about.”

Every game on the card features a spread of three touchdowns or fewer, where at least one of the teams has a realistic chance to still win their conference championship game.

This means no Pitt-Notre Dame. Goodbye, Tennessee-Kentucky. Begone with you, UCLA-Colorado.

Yes, UNC-Georgia Tech and USC-California could have qualified under these rules. But we have UNC and USC fatigue.

What we don’t usually have is an opportunity to focus on some of the less mainstream teams that are pretty damn good.

Take our Giphy-mates above, the Old Dominion Monarchs. They square off this week against the James Madison Dukes in a battle for Sun Belt East supremacy. Not only is JMU a top 25 team, but they’re only in their second year of FBS competition and undefeated. Old Dominion is not shabby itself, and is JMU’s old rival from when both schools were in the FCS-equivalent Colonial Athletic Association.

How about the UNLV Runnin Rebels, who are up against fellow one-loss Mountain West team Fresno State? A win for either team would put them in strong position to get into the Mountain West Championship game. Are both teams pretty bad? Yeah, probably. But they’ll both be playing bad together for something that means…little to a lot of people.

Or perhaps I could take you down south and interest you in a little Tulane Green Wave, who would (today) be everyone’s 12-team Playoff darling, against the Rice Owls. Other than UTSA, Rice is the last real land-mine of the year for Tulane, who should have beaten Ole Miss, and should be trying to go undefeated now to make a claim for the CFP.

While you all can still afford to tread water for a week or three, maybe take a gander on some of CFB’s less appreciated teams.

Or, just, you know… bet Georgia, or something.

Week 9 Card

Six weeks left. Let’s make the most of it.

Week 9 Card

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