Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rudy rides south

I wonder if Rudy Giuliani (check out the grey shirt) has a taste for fried chicken, barbecue (both pork and beef), homemade potato salad (the really yellow kind) and pecan pie? America's mayor has spent recent months endorsing southern GOP candidates and meeting with evangelical groups as he tests the waters for the 2008 presidential race. Many experts believe Giuliani's social moderation will make him too unattractive to the southern base of the Republican Party. The top contender so far, John McCain, is staunchly pro-life and certainly solid on national defense.

However, I think security is Giuliani's best weapon in a potential showdown with McCain. I think fighting Islamic extremism still needs to be a high priority in the US for Giuliani to win. If terrorism is brought to heel truly, his pro-choice views on abortion will be much more unpalletble for conservative Southerners. As far as defending the country is concerned, Rudy showed nothing but guts during the 9/11 ordeal. There is little doubt that Rudy believes there is an enemy that must be defeated. (to be fair, so does McCain). Also, if Rudy and McCain wind up in heated race, I wouldn't put it past McCain to lose his cool and make some snippy comments. That's where McCain leaves me cold. I find him too dour and a bit too anxious to use the power of the government to fiddle with human behavior that he believes in need of reformation.

Rudy can't win without the South. He needs to convince the South it can't win without him. I say he has a good shot of carrying the South convincingly in a GOP slugfest with McCain or any other Repub. Mark it down. The scenario was rendered here at Floyd Stuart on January 31, 2006.

Sitting out the State of U

Likely, I'll only watch parts of the SOTU address tonight. I'll at least want to get a look at Alito in his new robe. While I generally support him, I'm not a big fan of W's speeches. He's much better on the stump than on official addresses. I've never really been a fan of these speeches. It must go back to the days of only three channels when you had no choice if you wanted to watch TV. It at least got me to go play or read a book. Anyway, here's the transcript via the Washington Post.

I'll check out the other U tonight, at least the hoops version. I can't help myself choosing Demon Deacon basketball over the commander in chief. It'll either get uglier or I'll find something to smile about. I guess politics is like that too.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Belews Creek station bellows

I didn't want to start blogging to analyze energy, but hey I like reading the stories. The News and Record runs an article today on the emissions at Duke Power's Belews Creek Steam Station in southeast Stokes County. In 2004 Belews emitted more toxic pollutants than any other power plant in NC. Some of the emissions are considered carcinogenic. Health experts aren't sure of the impact on area health, but the concern is understandable. Duke Power plans to install new pollution-control equipment, but it won't be operational until 2008.

Reading about Belews Creek helps me understand my post yesterday concerning the increased interest in creating more nuclear power in NC. Companies like Duke and Progress Energy, who is hoping to build two new reactors at its Shearon Harris plant near Raleigh, cite the cascading costs in emission control and public concerns about global warming as reasons for wanting more nuclear energy, which only emits steam. The waste is another matter.

I'll hope for the best where the toxins are concerned. Hopefully, they won't prove too damaging. The steam stacks at Belews certainly dominate the landscape around Stokes County. A great view is from the Cook's Wall trail at Hanging Rock State Park. You can look over a ledge and see the Dan River Valley opening up all the way to Belews. Here are some good Hanging Rock photos by Steffan A. Bass.

Dazed and Confused

I got sucked into watching Dazed and Confused on AMC yesterday afternoon. It had been about ten years since I watched a big chunk of the flick. I have to say that it captures the youth of the mid 1970s pretty accurately. Like most movies, it exaggerates some points, but it captures the aura of the times. Plenty of partying, too much reckless driving, good rock and roll music and laissez-faire adult attitudes (plenty of places to buy beer without an ID check). Set entirely on the last day and night of school in a small Texas town, it didn't seem too far away from 1970s small town NC.

At the time, some good performances by up and coming actors. Matthew McConaughey plays a twenty-something, Wooderson, who can't let go of the high school party. He seems to rely on his Texas roots. Ben Affleck plays a jerk, O'Banion, who nonetheless hangs well with the in-crowd. Rory Cochrane plays the school stoner, Slater. Jason London plays the lead character with a classic name for a 1970s high school movie character, Randal "Pink" Floyd.

My favorite line comes from Ms. Stroud, the young and hot history teacher played by Kim Krizen, who tries to get in one more word of advice as her class walks out of the room at the final bell:

Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes.

A feel-good movie whose viewing doesn't end up being a bad way to spend a gray Sunday afternoon. The youthful excesses of those days have died down somewhat, probably for the good of us all.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

NC and Southeast at the heart of nuclear energy increase debate

Raleigh's News and Observer analyzes the growing interest in increasing the supply of nuclear energy. This week's announcement by Progress Energy that it will seek to build two new reactors at its Shearon Harris plant near Raleigh certainly warrants the N & O's attention. The article looks at the energy industry angle and the views of anti-nuclear and environmental advocates.

For the energy providers, it comes down to federal regulations and population growth. They cite the costs required to meet emission standards at coal and gas-powered plants coupled with rapaid customer growth in the Southeast as the major reasons to seek an increase in nuclear reactors. Interesting facts on population growth include:

The need for more power plants to produce electricity is driven by growth, and it's no surprise that the Southeast is leading the revival of interest in nuclear energy. It has been among the nation's fastest-growing areas, and it is projected to account for more than half the nation's population growth between 2000 and 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau...Progress said more than 550 people per week moved into its service area in North and South Carolina in 2005. The utility expects 300,000 more customers to arrive in the next 10 years.

I also found this striking:

People in the Carolinas already get much of their electricity from nuclear plants. Reactors owned by Progress Energy and Duke Power generate about 45 percent of the power used in North and South Carolina -- about twice the national average. Coal-fired plants produce about 50 percent, and other technologies, including natural gas and hydro dam, produce
about 5 percent.

A nuclear opponent sees an old argument repackaged:

"Ten to 15 years ago, it was the answer to acid rain," (David) Lochbaum said. "Now it's being repackaged as the answer to global warming. If it could be repackaged as an answer to long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, we'd see that, too."

Other environmentalists and nuclear energy skeptics seem more receptive to at least considering nuclear energy as long as safety concerns are very carefully and thoughtfully addressed. Interesting situation as we live in interesting times. Good read.

ABC anchor wounded by IED

ABC World News Tonight co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman David Vogt suffered wounds in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq earlier today. A statement from ABC News president David Westin reported both Woodruff and Vogt are listed in serious condition.

Update.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Guarino on the Wray affair

Joe Guarino posted a lengthy analysis of the firing of Greensboro Police Chief David Wray. Most striking point made by Guarino concerns the boss/employee conflict that occurred at GPD and the way city politicians reacted. I think his point that the Greensboro City Council took politics into consideration stands the test of reason. A liberal city, at least for NC, Greensboro officials approach racial matters gingerly and race certainly played a role in the GPD imbroglio. Guarino has a whole lot more to say. Read it.

No wind record for Grandfather Mountain, at least not officially

The National Weather Service said it cannot officially recognize Tuesday's 200+ mph wind gust at Grandfather Mountain. The howler broke out two windows at the visitor's center and peeled up tile in a stairwell. An NWS spokesman said the service cannot count the gust as a record because of the lack of a weather station at the mountain. The wind gauge at Grandfather only records up to 200 mph and its needle stood stuck at 200. If recognized, it would have been the highest wind gust on record since Mt. Washington in New Hampshire recorded a world-record 231 mph gust in 1934. Grandfather set its previous high-wind mark of 196 mph in 1997.

In a related story, Hugh Morton, whose family owns the mountain, is battling cancer.

F-Troop update

Not much news out there on the filibuster front. George Bush did use his Saturday radio address to make a push for the Alito confirmation.

I mainly wanted to get the F-Troop headline up there. Filling the ranks so far are John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton. I guess we'll let Kerry play O'Rourke. I'm not sure if an Agarn has emerged. Teddy can play a beefed-up version of Hekwah medicine man Roaring Chicken. Hillary and Feinstein can flip a coin to see who plays Wrangler Jane. The tentative Harry Reid can portray the clueless Capt. Parmenter.

9/11, get over it

Mt. Holyoke College professor of history Joseph J. Ellis pens a NY Times op-ed today on the history of 9/11. Apparently, he sess little big history there. His tentative conclusion:

What Patrick Henry once called "the lamp of experience" needs to be brought into the shadowy space in which we have all been living since Sept. 11. My tentative conclusion is that the light it sheds exposes the ghosts and goblins of our traumatized imaginations. It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.

Tentative conclusion, does that qualify as oxymoronic?

Let's see if I'm interpreting this correctly. If you survive a victim of 9/11, you have every reason to feel the pain and carry it with you. The rest of us rubes don't have anything to be all that worked up about. The only foreign invasion in the history of the US to kill American civilians in four-digit figures is nothing for the average American to get steamed and lathered over. No need to get enraged that your neighbors were destroyed by thugs flying jet airline bombs filled with innocent human beings. It's not like they targeted your relatives or close friends.

I'm glad Ellis has the good sense to see greater challenges out there. Maybe some of those other conflicts Ellis deems history-worthy only grew into massive ones because we had too much Ellis-type thinking in the past.

Ellis also compares the Patriot Act to the Alien and Sedition Acts and McCarthyism, among other blotches on the landscape of American History. Read it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

When you can't come up with anything of your own...

...see what the other guys are doing. After making several futile attempts to get into some type of magical blogging groove, I decided to surf around the web and find out what might be happening elsewhere in the blogosphere. It turned into a good ride.

Feeling the NC hills even though I'm not there

I want to start with my favorite. I came across Blue Ridge Blog, a photoblog by Watauga County photorapher Marie Freeman. She has some beautiful shots of scenes around Valle Crucis.

I like this one because it made me feel good. I love the NC mountains and love to get into them when opportunity knocks. You can feel the souls move through those hills. Some are happy and some are troubled. Spiritually you may encounter a Cherokee hunting the land, a forlorn chap who has lost his true love in some traumatic fashion, runaway slaves or someone who settled in and planted the seed of many mountain generations to come. I also learned there's a Hanging Rock near Valle Crucis. Take a look and enjoy trip to those beautifully haunted hills.

Viva Ashvegas

Staying in the NC hills, I f0und Asheville blogger Ashvegas. The posts poke fun at TV staion WLOS opining on the station's handling of a lame Super Bowl feature, an alleged gay-bashing and some Satanic-style vandalism at a local church. I think the blog name intrigued me the most though.

I learned about the Vegasizing of the hometown about six or seven years ago when I went for a visit to my hometown, Statesville. I came across an old friend I hadn't seen for about ten years. I started noticing he called Statesville Statesvegas. Never hearing it before, it sounded hilarious to me. Since that time I've heard Greenville referred to as Greenvegas. I may have heard other towns referred to the same way, but I'm not sure.

I may be way behind the times on Vegasizing, but I guess Greensvegas works. I think a large of store of creativity would be necessary to tag a Vegas line on Winston-Salem or High Point without butchering the identity of either town. However, Archvegas, Kernvegas and Burlvegas read like they should flow off the tongue smoothly. On the other hand, how many Vegases can this old world stand?

The Connecticut left

In addition to cleverly using its state's nickname and stateline sign (notice the pic in the upper left-hand corner), My Left Nutmeg seems determined to retire Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. The guys polish up the credentials of Ned Lamont who wants to make a run at the almost vice president in this year's Democratic primary. They urge the progressive faithful to give up Saturday morning to take a Lamont test drive during his appearance at the New Haven Public Library.

Jim Black: a blogger's gift that keeps giving

Driving home today, I heard Joe Sinsheimer on WPTF. Sinsheimer, a Democrat, has started a web-based movement calling for the resignation of NC House Speaker Jim Black, (D-Mecklenburg). At Jim Black Must Go, check out the links to Mr. Speaker's latest caper requiring all NC kindergarten hopefuls to receive an eye exam beforing enrolling in a public school. Black, an optometrist, attached the provision to a budget bill, allowing it slip through the legislative building unnoticed until now.

I would find it hard to maintain a single-issue blog, but with a subject like Black, the copy just keeps plopping into Sinsheimer's lap. I wish him the best of luck.

Mr. Smith he ain't

Thinking I might want to post on John Kerry's current futile gesture, I made a stop at the Democratic Daily. The Daily has wall-to-wall posts of the filibuster efforts. As Charles Krauthamer said tonight on Special Report with Jim Angle sitting in for Britt Hume, it looks like Pickett's Charge.

The Daily posted Kerry's statment justifying his stand. Among the highlights, Kerry comes to the defense of Harriet Meirs, whom he said fell at the hands of a right-wing coup. He closed his statment by saying he isn't playing in the world of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Shiite-led forces fight Sunni insurgents

Iraqi government forces battled with Sunni insurgents near the Airport Road in Baghdad today. The Shiite-led goverment forces arrested 60 insurgents during the raids. An AP photographer reported seeing insurgents gun down two men accused of being American collaborationists. American choppers flew in support of government forces.

The Yahoo photo slide show accompanying the story features pictures of Iraqis holding Korans protesting the publication of editorial cartoons depicting Mohammed wearing a bomb-laced turban that appeared last fall in Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

As the Palestinian elections show, you don't know what you'll get with democracy unleashed. It isn't always pretty, but I prefer living with the uncertainty than the status quo we've seen in the Middle East for most of the last century.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kennedy doesn't utter the F-word

Without technically saying the f-word, Teddy Kennedy has said the f-word. Kennedy said earlier today that he and other Democrats did not agree to a timetable for ending debate on the Alito nomination. John Kerry and Diane Feinstein sound like they're with Kennedy. Harry Reid doesn't. Bill Frist wants a vote Read it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

NC nuke debate on WPTF tomorrow morning

Now that it is official, the debate is on over Progress Energy's hopes to build a new reactor at the Shearin Harris Nuclear Plant near Raleigh. Tomorrow morning Kevin Miller will host a Progress spokesman and Jim Warren of NC Warn, the leading opponent to the nuke plan. Miller's show runs from 5:30 to 9:00. PTF doesn't stream, but you can pick up in Greensboro. I won't be able to listen. If anyone could give me an update I'd appreciate it. The station is at 680 on the AM dial. Miller is a great interviewer and his bio on the PTF website chronicles an interesting career.

Tragic story

Police identified a Carrboro man who died last after being struck by the charter bus carrying the Boston College basketball team to Chapel Hill for tonight's game against Carolina.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bored of education or board of education: the contemporary American boy at school

The latest Newsweek cover story, the Boy Crisis, has created some ripples this week. The magazine's piece highlights what many see as disservices to boys that have emerged in recent years as the education establishment has concentrated on meeting more of the needs of girls, many of them long-neglected in the past.

National Review editor Rich Lowry leans heavily on the work of feminist apostate Christina Hoff Sommers who brought attention to the issue with her intriguing book, The War Against Boys. Like Sommers, Lowry believes those jumping on the "let's not forget about the boys" bandwagon will provide nothing but disservice if they seek to create yet another strand of victimhood:

A crisis always needs its own politically correct argot. A neurologist quoted in Newsweek takes a step toward establishing one here with his statement, "Very well-meaning people have created a biologically disrespectful model of education." Thus, the boy-in-crisis has a rallying cry, "Don't disrespect my biology!"

Spending a big chunk of my energy and time attempting to educate young boys and girls, I agree that we're not tapping the full potential of boys, but I reject the victimhood argument. The classroom culture is feminine overall, but I believe that has always been the case in the days of bureaucratized education. Why it is now resulting in more intellectual and behavioral failure by boys is certainly complex. Back in my day, most of us guys were in the bored of education group, but we managed to get through successfully and didn't get into too much trouble. The board of edcuation, not a group of civic-minded citizens, but a piece of wood, played a big role. However, we've burned that bridge. A stinging behind proved more effective if both Mom and Pop lived at home. Today too many boys grow up without a mother and father working together at home to deal with many troubles before they reach the schoolhouse door. Even with this problem, we can be more effective in educating boys. We must be more flexible, a tough task unless we're willing to seriously reaccess the way we dispense public education.

Karma and education

At this point it pales in comparison to the Intelligent Design vs. Darwinist debate, but Indian history has made a splash in California public education. Two US-based Hindu groups are pushing the state hard for sixth-grade textbook revisions on Indian History. The two groups support a more nationalist interpretation on the arrival of the Aryans and Hinduism to the Indus River Valley. Most Hindu nationalists reject the notion that Aryan invaders made their way to India by 2600 BCE. They maintain that the culture existed there long before. They reject contemporary interpretations of history as tainted with the British colonial view. Many historians are fighting hard against the revisionists, claiming it will lead to a whitewashing of history. The Christian Science Monitor presents a good read for those interested in education, history, India and intellectual debates all rolled into one.

Having taught seventh-grade social studies in NC for several years, I've boned up on Indian History. It's a fascinating place. With India emerging as a major player on the world stage, it's important not replace history with mythology. At the same time, there is much to respect adn suspect about Hinduism and the culture it created in South Asia. Perhaps a reasonable standoff is in the works.

Monday, January 23, 2006

NC nuke news

Progress Energy wants to build a new nuclear reactor at its Shearon Harris plant near Raleigh. Progress officials say they believe they have a good chance of approval from the federal government. The energy company expects local opposition to the project, but hopes to put a good case forward for the project:

"An important part of that planning process is community engagement," Progress Energy chief executive Bob McGehee said in a statement. "We are committed to keeping our communities involved and informed every step of the way."

Duke Power is looking to build a new reactor in NC as well. Looking at the situation with oil, we can't close the door on nuclear energy. At the same time, we want it done safely. The reactor Progress wants to build at Shearon Harris is the Westinghouse AP 1000, complete with a passive safety feature that continues pumping water to cool itself in case electricity is lost. Read it all here.

Hating loving the Panthers, but not for long

I knew it would happen. I didn't make it through the night without a dream about the Panthers. Anytime one of my teams falls short in a big game, I somehow can't avoid revisiting it in dreamland. That's the price of pulling hard for a team that falls short, no matter the sport. David Boyd seems ready to pull back some of his Panthers' intensity. I hope Carolina's play next year brings him back. He's posted some good copy on the team.

It's especially hard to take when your team fails to mount a challenge. Some say they would rather lose by 30 than a last-second heartbreaker. I don't buy that. Losing a heartbreaker shows you went toe-to-toe. The initial twinge of pain may be more intense, but you know your guys went down fighting. The Seahawks dominated from start to finish. I think Matt Hasselbeck handled the game masterfully and may be Seattle's best weapon going into the Super Bowl.

I approached Ed Hardin's column last week with disdain and it turned out to be denial. I even sniffed at the article in this post. Unfortunately, Hardin may have been prescient. Instead of basking in the glory of the Panthers whipping of Chicago, Hardin made note of the many injuries Carolina sustained in making its playoff run. He has more on this and other analysis of the Cats' breakdowns in his News and Record column today.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Satisfaction vs. You Can't Aways Get What you Want

It will be hard to not be bummed tomorrow. ..painful, just painful. It happens when you're not satisfied with anything but getting it all, but I'm glad I wanted it that way. It helps me keep in mind how the anticipation made the weekend good. I got to visit some neighbors, made it out both nights and went to some good places. Threw some darts, devised Panthers' strategy (didn't work), talked about the firing of David Wray, shot lights out pool (for me anyway), heard some pretty good music, learned some sign language and had several great conversations. In the end, it came down to the good company. Greensboro is a good place. If you've got to be somewhere, it might as well be here.

A case of the newspaper blues in Durham

For those interested in the media covering the media, Durham's Independent Weekly posts a feature analyzing the first year after the buyout of the Durham Hearld-Sun by the Paxton group. Circulation is down 15.4 percent and page count is dropping. Some insiders believe that despite Paxton's dedication to putting local news on the front page, the newspaper with a formerly scrappy reputation may be losing its edge to scoop its giant rival, Raleigh's News and Observer, on the homefront. Herald-Sun editor Bob Ashley serves as the article's main character. Plenty of observations from former employees, some fired when Paxton first took over and others who have left during the past year. Read it.

Panthers in the capital cities

Thought I'd take a look at Panthers' pregame coverage at the two major morning dailies in Raleigh and Columbia, the Carolina's capital cities. Both cities have separate idenities from Charlotte and traditionally have looked at the Carolina's biggest burg as a rival.

Raleigh's News and Observer runs an article looking at a growing Panthers' fan base in eastern NC. If you go by the TV ratings, it looks like Carolina is out-ranking the Washington Redskins, the traditional darling of the big country down east. Not all Raleigh Skins fans are buying into it though:

Redskins fans such as Dan Reynolds, 36, a Raleigh mortgage banker, dismiss most of the region's Panthers supporters as "bandwagon" fans.
"It depends on how they're doing," Reynolds said.


In the capital of the southern Carolinas, they may not think much of Charlotte the town, but you wouldn't know that by its largest newspaper. The State is a sister publication of the Charlotte Observer, both part of the Knight-Ridder chain. If you've already read the Observer's coverage, don't go to The State. All their stories are links to those reported by the northern giant.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Simpson executed for Darter's murder

A little late on this, but I decided to take a blogging break yesterday. However, since I posted on the subject earlier, I wanted to mention it.

North Carolina executed Perrie Dyon Simpson for the 1984 murder of Jean Darter. The News and Record posts a follow up with Simpson's apology and reaction from others, including one of Darter's relatives.

Authorities arrested 16 anti-death penalty protestors who wanted to stop the execution. Many of them were among a group of 17 arrested for taking similar action before last December's lethal injection of Kenneth Lee Boyd, the 1,000th execution in the US since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977. Simpson and Boyd both died for murders committed in Rockingham County.

News on hitting the right target and playing oldies

Evidence mounts that the house hit by a US missile strike last weekend near Damadola, Pakistan served as a den of activity for al Qaeda operatives. The US zeroed in on the target from information gleaned from captured al Qaeda leader Abu Farraj al-Libbi. The terror outfit's former number 3 indentified the residence as the site of a previous visit by current number 2, Ayman al Zawahri.

Bill Roggio posts on Threatswatch that, gradually, the Pakistani government seems willing to admit the US had reason to take action, while at the same time asking the US to not make any future strikes. It looks like there's a lot of twitching eyelids there. Hmm, must be talking in a dusty room.

Speaking of number 2, experts seem convinced that al Qaeda fished his latest audio command performance from a stack of solid gold hits.

Alexis Debat offers analysis for ABC on how al Qaeda delivers this tape and others without getting caught. Once again, former number 3 shines light on the path.

Imagine that, an entertainer who likes to pop off his mouth on sensitive political and cultural matters

In this case, it's French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala whose fanbase cuts through a cross section of France's society, including many of the street youth who incited last fall's riots. Rosey Cohen pens a meaty news feature for Haaretz on the controversial Dieudonne. During the '90s, he became a well-liked comic for his role in a two-man show with a French-Jewish comedian. Now he spends a great deal of time appearing more prickly, mixing in clever and stinging anti-semitc diatribes into his act. Prime example of the new schtick:

... his harsh treatment of Israel and Jews certainly was cranked up a notch in that infamous television sketch on France 3 in which he appeared in the garb of an ultra-Orthodox Jew with long sidelocks and called on French Muslims "to convert and join the American-Zionist axis of good if they want to improve their quality of life." It was an obvious dig at the "axis of evil" term coined by Bush. Clad in his ultra-Orthodox costume, Dieudonne accused another guest on the program, a well-known Muslim entertainer, of being a dangerous terrorist and demanded that he remove his coat to show that he wasn't hiding a bomb on his body. Before exiting the stage, Dieudonne gazed directly into the camera and bid farewell to the audience with a Nazi-style salute, as he shouted "Isra-Heil!"

While still wildly popular with his fan base, many French are now staying away from his shows.

Cohen's article includes good analysis from Dieudonne's critics. She interviewed the controversial comic too and his quotes prove interesting, if not disturbing. Read it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Angela Davis speaks at UNCG

Black activist and current chair of the Department of the History of Consciousness at the Univeristy of California Santa Cruz, Angela Davis, spoke to a packed house at UNCG's Aycock Auditorium Tuesday. The univesity's Neo-Black Society invited Davis to speak as part of its observance of the Martin Luther King Holiday.

Speaking before a mostly-sympathetic audience, Davis emphasized the spectre of racism that has led the United States to among other things neglect the victims of Hurricane Katrina, follow the war policies of the Bush Administration and to embrace a culture of imprisonment. Davis encouraged the audience to not only "think critically," but also to "think creatively and take risks" to correct the wrongs of American society.

Davis: the blow by blow

While most of the audience received Davis's message enthusiastically, I found her speech rambling. She made her points clearly, but no theme emerged in my mind. The speech began with a passage from a Martin Luther King anti-Vietnam War speech from 1967 then moved through Hurricane Katrina, the Stanley "Tookie" Williams execution, a passing reference to the Clarence Ray Allen execution, the war in Iraq, back to Katrina, a passing reference to the firing of Greensboro Police Chief David Wray, poverty, the American culure of imprisonment, protecting the environment, the meaning of diversity, the riots in France and ended with calls for the revocation of the Patriot Act, the disbanding of the Department of Homeland Security and the impeachment of President Bush (that one drew a standing ovation.)

Now on to the deconstruction. All quotes attributed to Davis.

HURRICANE KATRINA

Davis concluded that the most important lesson learned from Katrina is that it revealed the process of the Bush Administration's racism. The accusation:

(Bush and others are) pretending that the removal of racist laws from the books was tantamount to eliminating racism.

(I'll not even try to speak for Bush, but when the flood waters first rose and thousands of New Orleanians became trapped, weren't the first rescues made by Louisiana sportsmen guiding their bass boats through the extremely dangerous water? Am I naive to believe that a lot of these men were not sportsmen of color? I don't know how you determine if our institutions are racist, but I do believe many hearts have changed during the last 40 to 50 years and this was as big a force as all the ugliness during Katrina.)

RACISM TODAY

Racism wreaks more havoc on more black communities now than (in) the 1950s and the 1960s.

(I'll leave that one at that.)

Old style racism has not been put to rest...people are aware that it's important to hide it.

(Hasn't this been said all along?)

IRAQ

George Bush fails in:

understanding the right (of Iraqis) to fashion the future of their country.

(I guess the three elections of '05 validated US oppression.)

A culture has been destroyed.

(Maybe a great culture will be re-visited.)

Davis called the Bush-led US the:

greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

(I'd have been disappointed if she'd said otherwise.)

IMPRISONMENT

Davis correlated today's security concerns with the "imprisonment binge" of the '80s. She implied that Americans are under:

the impression that things like war and more police actually makes them safe.

(That depends on where the bad guys are and who they are victimizing.)

The culture of imprisonment has:

relegated people to the status of death.

(What about what many of them did to their victims?)

THE ENVIRONMENT

We rarely think of the fact that animals have just as much right to this planet as human beings.

(I'll take her word on that, I guess)

Correctly, Davis pointed out the problems created by the destruction of the wetlands around New Orleans. She went on to say the attitude that allowed it is related to racism and misogyny.

AL GORE

This was the man who was supposed to be appointed president.

(Appointed?)

I'll take nothing away from Davis's ability to inspire an audience. She still has a sharp mind and cuts an impressvie physical appearance. We should all hope to hold up us well.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Maybe it will walk out of the room and no one will notice it was ever here

The diplomatic tablecloth thrown over the Iranian elephant in the room looks like a red checkerboard bandana tied around its neck. It may be cute, even cool, but it doesn't make elephas maximus disappear. Mark Davis challenges opponents of the war in Iraq to face the possibility that action against Iran may be necessary. Bull's eye quote:

I was 21 when a jihadist rabble took our hostages in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. I did not expect that drama to last more than a year, and I did not expect Iran's radical theocracy to last until I reached middle age.

I remember the '79 embassy takeover very well. I'm also inclined to believe former hostages who insist current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a leading role in the year-long ordeal. He doesn't need George W. Bush sitting in the White House to hate us. We owe him no slack.

Speaking of the Holocaust denying president of the former Persian Empire (please give this a guy a nickname), he appeared today in Damascus with fellow traveller Bashir Assad, president of Syria. Mahmoud only reaches Bashir's shoulders. Is one very short or the other very tall? I don't know the tale of the tape. Just more reason to view the pair with disdain.

Does PETA hate these guys?

It's looking like last weekend's missile strike in Pakistan killed Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, al Qaeda's top bomb maker. Reportedly, as the terror group's top weapons maker, he conducted chemical experiments on dogs and other animals at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Also, it is believed some of his former pupils were involved in the '00 attack on the USS Cole.

RIP

The "Wicked Pickett" died of a heart attack today. I remember way back to the third grade when I had a teacher just out of college. She let us kids bring in 45s. Not knowing all that much about music, I remember going out and buying a record of Pickett covering Stag-'o-Lee. I've never forgotten him since then, the epitome of a soul singer in my book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

People vs. the Bureaucracy

The News and Record gives the details on the Guilford County School Board meeting and redistricting. Best quote came from High Point resident, Kevin Connolly:

How about getting some maps we can understand.

It apparently generated some energy among the crowd.

Having covered many local government meetings in the early '90s, and if things haven't changed much, I understand Connolly's frustration. Maps drawn up by any county department take time to understand. The county mapmaker may see logic and art in his creation, but usually has a hard time understanding the kinds of emotion that his masterpiece may enduce. The preceding is very general, and I have no way of knowing if the current matter even comes close to fitting the category. However, it is important to remember that public education is provided by what is by far the largest bureaucracy in the county. Like most large bureaucracies, it's stuck in a numbers game whose satisfaction is the bottom line.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oddball would be pleased

Took a good-natured swipe at Ed Hardin yesterday for his immediate post-game column of the Panthers sweet, sweet victory over Chicago. Ed gets back on the bandwagon today with his profile of John Fox. Hey, someone has to remind us not to take anything for granted. I only wish he waited until a little later in the week.

Angela Davis in Town

Former '60s activist and current college professor Angela Davis will speak at Aycock Auditorium tonight in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday week. According the News and Record, her topic will be “Martin Luther King, Civil Rights and Human Rights: Future Trajectories.” I'm going to see if I can dust off my reporting skills and check out this one.

Monday, January 16, 2006

If only it was as Harmless as shopping at Acme

This isn't good. A coyote that attacked three people in Buncombe County tested positive for rabies. These critters roam the woods throughout NC. In late summer, I saw the road kill remains of one on the shoulder of I-40 near Mocksville. Keep watching the chickens and goats, and remember, the coyote is nothing like Fido or Wil E.

Shocking, just Shocking

Should be President Al Gore used his Martin Luther King Day speech in Washington, DC to bash George W. Bush on the security vs. civil liberties issue. Former GOP House member Bob Barr put in his two cents worth too. Swell guy, that Al.

The GOP reply:

"Al Gore's incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America," Schmitt said. "While the president works to protect Americans from terrorists, Democrats deliver no solutions of their own, only diatribes laden with inaccuracies and anger. "

Didn't know those guys had it in them.

Goristas please note that I didn't use the term president in front of George W. Bush's name.

Basking in the Glow by Reading the Views...

With the day off, I couldn't stop myself from spending the morning immersed in the afterglow of the Carolina Panthers 29-21 NFL playoff victory over the Chicago Bears. Now to get to those pesky chores.

...from the Land of the Vanquished...

Naturally, the Illinoisian media mirrors the disappointment of the Bears' nation, but not at the expense of the superb performance of Carolina, especially the electrifying play of Steve Smith.

The Chicago Tribune posts the best technical write-up, particularly concerning the Bears' breakdowns.

Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times gives the Cats' props for exacting revenge for the November 20 debacle.

From the heartland in the Land of Lincoln, the Peoria Journal-Star's Kirk Wessler chides the Bears for not backing up their big talk, reducing all the yapping to a diarrhea of the mouth moment.

The Sun-Times and Springfield Journal-Register wrote the best headlines.

...to the Land of the Immediate Foe...

Nothing but respect for the Panthers in this short round-up from the Seattle-area press.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times marvels at Carolina's road-toughness. He even compares the Cats to Caesar's army. At least Kelley and the Times won't have to worry about referring to the Redskins as the Redskins this week. (Scroll down to "An Evergreen Tale.")

Clare Farnsworth at the Seattle Post Intelligencer uses Redskins more than once as she leaves no doubt who she believes is the better of the Seahawks' two NFC playoff opponents.

Travelling south on I-5, Mike Sando at the Tacoma News-Tribune notices the most under-publicized Panthers' unit, the special teams.

...to land of the Victor who won the Title during Last NFL Season of the 20th Century by routing the Giants in First Super Bowl of the 21st Century...

Ken Muarry of the Baltimore Sun analyzes all members of the NFL final four, but he makes Steve Smith his main character.

....to the Homefront

Readers of the News and Record won't accuse Ed Hardin of homerism following his virtual walk through the Panthers' infirmary. Apologies beforehand for butchering a great quote from Kelly's Heroes, what's up with the negative vibes Ed?

Go Panthers.

Deacs' Effort Great, but cannot overcome Weaknesses

Wake falls to 0-3 in ACC play for the first time since the '89-'90 season, losing 90-86 at Maryland. Wake didn't quit in a game where they were mostly out-played until the final minutes.

The 0-3 start gets my attention and dulls my enthusiasm. On the other hand, I now realize how well Skip Prosser and Dave Odom raised the competitive level of Wake hoops. No Final Four yet, but I still feel justified in envoking my right to suffer delusions of college basketball grandeur.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Big Litterbug Alert

Took the dog for a stroll in Lake Daniel Park late this morning and saw something ugly. We walked the stretch between Elam and Wendover. At a pretty spot near the creek, (the North Elam Medical Plaza lies on the other side) I saw at least a half-dozen bags of trash piled up. There's no way anyone could have driven it in there. It had to be carried there and left. Just seems an odd and certainly inappropriate place to dump trash.

I'll have to admit I dropped the ball on this earlier. We last walked that section about a month ago and the trash was there then. I made a mental note to call the city and it must have slipped my mind. I'd forgotten about it until I saw it again today. Just reminding myself to not muff it this time.

By the way, don't Wake and Maryland play tonight?

The atmosphere seems less than enthusiastic, at least at these Wake and Maryland fan boards, concerning tonight's ACC Sunday Night Hoops feature game. After suffering first-week routs at the hands of Duke, both hold up the rest of the league in early season conference defensive statistics. At point guard, the only realistic expectation is a whole lot of turnovers, as both teams bring up the rear in early turnover margin. Wake just did not have the backcourt depth to come close to replacing Chris Paul. Maryland plays without Travis Garrison, suspended over a legal matter. Terps Coach Gary Williams sums up the action succinctly:

"Travis was suspended because he was where he shouldn't have been."

Fans of both teams should try not to be too pesimisstic. Over the past few seasons this has been a good matchup and the season is still young. After Duke, every team will have some ups and downs. The trick now is not becoming one of the two or three teams that will likely have to spend a good chunk of the early conference season clawing its way out of cellar contention.

As for apathy about the game, I can't say much. Sportswise, I haven't focused on much beyond the Panthers-Bears game, even though the Steelers have my attention right now. (I realize the clock doesn't match up. I haven't figured out that one out yet.)

History of the Future?

Niall Ferguson writes a brief history of the War of 2007-2011 at the Daily Telegraph. Some of the Harvard history professor's key points include: Many of the demographic origins of the war stood out starkly by the 1990s. Ariel Sharon's debilitating stroke in early 2006 robbed a Bush of a key ally in taking care of the Mahdi in Iran. Finally, the West didn't learn a lesson from the failed diplomacy of the 1930s:

So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.

Read it all.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Afghan Lessons from Iraq

Strategypage notes an increase in suicide bombings by the Taliban. SP speculates that younger Taliban may behind the strategy which the old guard eschewed in the past. It's hard to see this strategy turning the tide in Afghanistan.

Man's Best Friend Warms a Blustery Day

Just finished the daily stroll around Lake Daniel Park with my dog, Boomer, a mostly-loveable mutt. Saw a guy with a huge black Lab and a Boston Terrier. He had one of those ball launchers to toss a tennis ball to the Lab. As soon as the big dog started chsing down the ball, the man hurled the stick and the terrier went after it, attacking with relish. Satisfying amusement on a windy January afternoon. Best of all, there's still plenty of football to watch indoors.

Sir Lancelot we're not

Andrew Exum pens an op-ed for the NYT and sees a disconnect of a tactical nature between civilians and the military concerning body armour. Many troops feel too immobile and weighted down by heavier protection, preferring not to have more of it. Key quote:

"We don't want a medieval knight," Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, the director of force development for the Army, said this week. "We are not going to be hoisted onto a horse."

Exum sees the homefront calls for more armour as sincere and well-meaning, but if fretted over too much, taking all eyes, the military's included, off the ultimate prize, victory.

The Alito Rout

With Samuel Alito cruising toward confirmation, Senate Democrats will likely attempt one more delay of the inevitible.

Here's a roundup some of the humor rendered at the expense of the Democrats:

Wesley Pruden provides a grin-inducing summary of the hearing and it doesn't smell all that good.

Good editorial cartoon here

Funny, biting spoof here (hat tip, literally, to my brother Mike)

Most analogical quote comes from the Opinion Journal:

Attacking Alito is like eating Chinese food: An hour later, you're angry again.

Friday, January 13, 2006

If only Grandma didn't have enough flour to Bake a Cake, it would be a good War

News and Record columnist Rosemary Roberts trots out the tired lament that the Bush administration requires little to no sacrifice from the American people per the Iraq War. She uses the sacrificial strawman, among other arguments, trying to bolster her contention that a widening disconnect exists between American civilians and the troops serving in Iraq.

Honestly, I doubt much could be done to sell Roberts on the war. If, during wartime, she prefers the World War II ration card America, here's some perspective. By 1941, the US faced little choice but to mobilize an all out front out in order to fight powerful military machines in Europe, the Pacific, Asia and North Africa. Untold millions died in that conflict. Fast-foward to today. We still may not escape the inevitability of clashes between freedom-expanding powers and oppressive regimes, at least as long as both exist. However, the pre-war history of WWII teaches us it's not inevitable that we on the side of freedom avoid these clashes to a point where we're forced to limit citizens to 15 gallons of gas a week because we've locked ourselves into a conflict requiring the resources, human and material, that leave wide swaths of death and destruction.

BTW, for those skeptical, or not, about this disconnect between civilians and solidiers, read this. (Hat tip Polipundit)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Iraqi Insurgents vs. al Qaeda

Via the Assyrian International News Agency, a New York Times article provides confirmation of deadly battles between Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists. The US sees opportunity in the schism, but many insurgents remain steadfast in their opposition to the American presence no matter how much they hate Zarqawi and his minions. Further evidence of the complexities in building a democratic Iraq. Good reporting by the Times.

Throw Them to the Lions?

Lion attacks are on the rise in parts of Tanzania and Mozambique. Apparently, the king of beasts discovered his taste for humans by accident. Many people in the region sleep in their fields at night to keep out pesky bushpigs. As it turns out, lions in the area started hunting the pigs, not a traditonal quarry, because other sources of food have disappeared. In the process of hunting the new dish, lions stumbled upon an alternative fare that runs on only two legs. The lions seem to have placed man near the top of the prey list. Officials estimate that one killer lion, recently destroyed, killed an estimated 40 humans.

The problems of Africa need no illumination. Cursed by climate, criminal governments and the scourge of disease, many Africans struggle to survive day by day and even minute by minute. The dangers posed by wild animals doesn't often arise in dicussions on the lack of development in Africa. It has to be hard to scratch out a living subsistence farming even without having to worry about becoming the main course. It does lead to several questions concerning the plight of Africans. Does our worship of the wild justify sacrificing 40 humans to let one wild beast roam the wilderness? Can African nations develop side-by-side with so many deadly animals in their midst? On poaching, do poachers only hunt down endangered species for the money or do they see it as a pre-emptive attack on an enemy who would certainly kill them first if it had the chance? These are tough questions, meaning the answers don't come easily.

At least they don't have to worry about the beasts of the air these days.

Deacon Blues

For the first since the '92-'93 season, Wake Forest starts the ACC season 0-2, falling 74-73 in overtime at Clemson. Being a season ticket holder, I'm afraid I saw this coming. The inconsistency of the Deacs' backcourt play has shown all along. Too many turnovers, not enough pounding the ball inside to Eric Williams and I can't even bring myself to discuss the points left at the foul line. The '92-'93 Deacs reached the Sweet 16, but that team had a couple guys named Rogers and Childress. The '05-'06 team doesn't lack heart and should provide some good moments this year, but there will be ugly struggles between them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Policing Iraq

Charles Levinson of the Christian Science Monitor makes clear one of the major Sunni gripes in the creation of the new Iraqi government. Much of the fight centers on control of the Interior Ministry which oversees all Iraqi police forces. Currently, Shiites control the ministry. Opponents contend that under Shi'a leadership, Interior has operated secret prisons and abused Iraqi citizens. According to Levinson's article, many of the various police forces' ranks are being filled by members of the militant Shi'a Badr Militia. In addition to attacking former Hussein regime figures, police have been accused of targeting Sunnis in general for abusive treatment. The US is stepping up efforts to train police across Iraq's ethnic lines to build trust among the Sunni population, but Interior Minister Mohammad Ali al-Khafaggy is resisting.

One can expect some bloodletting when a group as long-persecuted as Iraq's Shiites gains power over its former oppressors. However, it's a huge leap from giving criminal Baathists their comeupence to dragging young Sunni men out of their homes only to have them turn up at the morgue six months later. It's now easier to understand why average Iraqi Sunnis want to have a few things clarified in the nation's new constitution.

Rebuilding a country broken by totalitarian rule is messy business. Major General Joseph Peterson heads the training of Iraqi police forces for the US Army, and Levinson's article portrays the general as determined to train a police force rooted in civil law and competency.

EMK, aka Ted, scolded by Snarlin' Arlen

The best political fisticuffs during the Alito hearing, vol. III, erupted when Ted Kennedy drew a four of diamonds from the race card deck. Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter dressed Kennedy down for his insistence that he will continue to insist that records allegedly proving Alito's committment to the deepest values of the now defunct Concerned Alumni of Princeton be subpeoned. The committe will get access to the records. We'll see how Teddy's card plays out.

My reading on the hearing has been light. Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News penned my favorite column on the topic. I must admit his using the Carolina Panthers rout of the New York Giants as the object lesson of his lede played to my NFL prejudices. It's great having a team alive in the playoffs. High-stakes politics and football, it makes the week almost feel like a holiday. Too bad I've got to work.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Islamist Bomb

Arnaud de Borchgrave contends that for almost the last 20 years Iran telegraphed its nuclear ambitions with all the subtlety of a whack upside the head with a silk pillowcase---filled with hammers. He sees little hope in dissuading the mullahs from going nuclear and pointing the missles westward toward the Mediterranean Coast. Prime cut:

Having a nuclear weapon is fundamental to Islamist belief. No odes to world peace if they do this, or dirges to world catastrophe if they do that, will deflect the mullahs' core belief as dictated by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It's worth the read.


If You can't say anything nice....

...at least try to act interested. The editorial board at the News and Record gives Greensboro's new NIFL franchise a less than warm embrace. The city's only morning daily takes a "well, if we have to" approach. Readers need to take note of some of the concerns, such as not seeming too impressed with the new owner's background. We've been down this road before and the ride didn't last too long. Personally, I've never watched indoor football. I don't know if would fit on the plate.

The new team does have a high bar to reach as far as its new website is concerned. The league's homepage is entertaining and a few of the teams have attention-grabbing websites. I don't think the gun control lobby will embrace this page from the Osceola, FL Outlaws.

Fidel's Big Man and Big Woman on Campus?

The FBI has accused a college professor and his university administrator wife of spying for Cuba.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The War over the War

RealClear Politics posts two articles today analyzing anti-war tactics. Steyn points to the folly and cumbersomeness of an endless security vs. civil liberties debate. Written as only Steyn can:

Do you want Iyman Faris in jail? Or do you think he should have the run of the planet until he's actually destroyed the bridge and killed hundreds of people? Say, the Golden Gate Bridge just as you're driving across after voting for Barbara Boxer and congratulating yourself on your moral superiority.

Jonathan Gurwitz sees Democrats travelling down a path that leaves them unable to convince the American public of their seriousness on matters of national security. He reminds us of the bear that roamed the forest during the 1984 presidential race.

Abramoff by the Numbers

Cincinatti blogger Seldomwrong examines the angle of the Abramoff scandal no one left or right wants to report. He sees legalized gambling at the heart of the story. Money( and Politics) quote:

But if it hadn't been him(Abramoff), it would be someone else. Let's look at it this way: if gamblers need politicians to decide in their favor, should we expect gamblers and politicians to act honorably in the decision-making process?

He also has some interesting thoughts on the influence of Christianity on American politics. You know the spectre that some see as threatening the whole foundation of the republic's liberty.

The overall argument also hits home in North Carolina. Alas, we must remember we do it all for the good of the children.

Sheehan Fights On

Is she suggesting Crawford, Texas be transformed into a city of millions during Bush's next visit to the Southwestern White House Ranch? Sean Penn joined her for moral support.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Health Forces Hamilton to Forgo Re-election Run

Just learned, belatedly, that State Sen. Hamilton Horton is battling cancer and will not seek re-election to his NC Senate seat. My grandfather served in the NC House in the late '60s and early '70s. I remember meeting Horton on a visit to hang out with my grandfather while the General Assembly was in session. I remember him greeting me warmly. I also remember meeting Howard Coble, Jimmy Green and Ava Gardner's brother among others. My grandfather did a pretty good Jimmy Green impersonation.

All my childhood encounters with the pols were very positive. However, on one occasion after growing restless listening to the business on the floor, I wandered into the lobby. I guess I looked really bored and someone official-looking walked me to some type of early computer and gave me the go-ahead to give it a test run. I must have started typing just to see the green characters appear on the screen. Soon a legislator came up and chided me by asking me something like "do you know how much that thing costs?" Being only about 8, I had little chance to have a clue. (He no doubt made a pledge to his constituients to make sure taxpayers' money wouldn't be wasted in Raleigh.)

On another trip, my brother and I travelled to Raleigh with my grandfather, who had to do some summer committe work. Naturally, boredom set in and we decided to roam around a mostly empty Legislative Building. We decided to flick a few lights in a crowded hallway. We didn't get away without a mild scolding from someone who was keeping an eye on the place.

I digress. Two candidates, Gloria Whisenhunt and Nathan Tabor, have already announced plans to seek Hamilton's seat. Tabor's not catching any slack in the comment section at Ed Cone's blog.

Drinking Problem forces Kennedy Out

That is Charles Kennedy, leader of Britain's Liberal Democrats.

Saturday Morning Channel Surf

A TVLand top twenty list standouts from this morning's much appreciated spin with the remote. Best moment recalled Georgia Governor Lester Maddox walking out on Dick Cavett. Other guests included football great Jim Brown and Truman Capote. Maddox and Brown certainly didn't agree with each other, but seemed at ease sitting side-by-side. Both men possessed commanding physical presence. Apparently, Cavett wanted to repeat on air an exchange that took place between Maddox and Brown during a commerical break. They must have worked out a quick agreement where Maddox expected Cavett to remain true to the original dialogue. Cavett replaced bigots with admirers when repeating the original question. This didn't set right with Maddox who demanded an apology within the minute or he would walk. The apology didn't come and Maddox got up and waved off Cavett with his giant left hand as he exited the set. Capote briefly and gently grabs Maddox's maybe hoping to get Maddox to reconsider and finish saying what he had to say. Capote does cap the scene with a quirky quip about the chicken at the governor's resturant.

I'm not much educated on Maddox beyond his horrible reputation on race realations, but it looked like Maddox had a solid case. Cavett seemed to appreciate the drama as part of the business. To the delight of Randy Newman fans, the episode seemed to prove fertile ground for the notoriously clever singer/songwriter's redneck discography. Lost interest in the rest of the show when they featured an ER character accidently sticking his arm in chopper blades moving full-speed. Glad I stopped watching that drama years before.

For the Hearty Rock Appetite

Over the last few months I've been ripping music from my personal CD collection to the computer. You can put together some good blends, such as sandwiching two Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes between two from Sheryl Crow. Call it a double beef burger on toasted whole grain with a dash of ketchup and raw onion. Hold the cheese. Start with Crow's Favorite Mistake and follow it with One More Time and I Never Dreamed by Skynyrd. Crow's The Difficult Kind provides a slolid foundation. Heavy-duty guitars say as much as Ronnie Van Zandt's soulful singing in trying to figure out that male/female, yin and yang thing. Muscianship highlights the Crow cuts. The Difficult Kind may even lure the unaware listener into thinking he's spending a balmy night in Jacksonville or South Georgia. I like to think Sheryl Crow spent some of her teen years riding around Kennett, Missouri with Skynyrd in the tape deck.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Good Karma of Christmas....

... spreads as Orthodox Christian Christmas traditions are making a slow, but significant return in Eastern Europe. It's heartening to see the colorful cheer of Christmas replacing the dour gray atmosphere that was the Utopia promised by Marxism. It also helps me justify my procrastination in getting my tree. It went up December 22. Still looking good in the living room. Merry Christmas...

.....Still Lives....

... every January in Rodanthe, NC where locals continue the Old Christmas traditions. The highlight involves chasing a wild bull named Old Buck out of town.
Also, while reporting for the Kernersville News in the early '90s, one of my various duties included writing a church of the week story. It took some time and often required creative scheduling. One early January I decided to highlight Providence Baptist, an African-American congregation located in the middle of town. I talked to a member to arrange an interview, who invited me to the Old Christmas celebration. The highlights included an a cappela version of "Walking in Jerusalem" and an all around spirit of fellowship.

First NC Execution of '06 set for January 20

It's a sad story all the way around. The state has set January 20 as Perrie Simpson's execution date for the murder of Jean Darter in 1984 in Reidsville. While it warrants our attention, Simpson's troubled young life deserves to fail in making a case for clemency. It's a painful lesson in what may happen when a kid falls through a gaping hole in the floor. Darter, 92, suffered a senselessly brutal death, society's failings of Simpson not mattering.

This shouldn't succeed either. The argument provides no evidence that Simpson gave a false confession or that authorities coerced it. Simpson's advocates must make a tremendously hard sell to NC Governor Mike Easely who, since taking office, has stayed only 2 of 24 scheduled executions.

RIP

Lou Rawls....Loved that smooth bass voice. Sorry I missed hearing him sing the Star Spangled Banner before game 2.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Round Up

The NIFL comes to town. Greensboro gets a second professional sports franchise. It looks like it will play a big part of its season concurrently with Greensboro' s other pro squad. I do give the new guys credit for a nickname that ties in well with Greensboro's history. Anxious to see if the Osceola Outlaws, Montgomery Maulers or Dayton Warbirds come to town.

Introduced by Mel Blount, Lynn Swann announces his candidacy seeking the GOP nomination for Pennsylvania governor. Swann said he will seek a primary if the state's GOP Committee gives its nod to another. I hopes his campaign proves as successful as the '75 season and ends as sweetly as Super Bowl X even though that result made me somewhat ill (a Dallas fan at the time)

Still waiting to see how the Jack Abramoff episode shakes out. We will see if the tide of history leaves a wake large enough to shake the Capitol columns or will it be Fitzmas Day all over. I'll have to say I'm more intrigued by Abramoff's body language right now. Check out the picture in the Daily Telegraph article. He looks like the kind of guy who charges into a room and will do his best to make sure you don't refuse his bribe.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

We have a Ball Game

I"ve missed two touchdown while sitting at the computer. Southern Cal re-captured the lead and Texas took it back on the ensuing drive. May not get to bed at a decent hour again tonight. Make that Southern Cal back on top.

A Mind is a Terrible Thing

Michael Crichton gave this speech in early November, but I only came across it last week. It doesn't look like he seeks redemption from the environmental movement for his State of Fear apostasy either. Crichton's critics will likely dismiss this argument due to the fact that Crichton is not a scientist. Rather than reading the speech as the definitive debunking of over the top environmentalism, I see it as a great study of the working of the human mind. We have been known to over-think ourselves to the brink of apocalypse before. Also, I've visited Yellowstone National Park the last three summers (hope to make it four this year). Crichton spent a good portion of his speech chronicling what he sees as an almost century long lurch through wildlife mismanagement. (Hat tip Town Square)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Oh well, It couldn't Sniff out Trouble Anyway

A South African woman experiences olfactory meltdown after her encounter with a seal pup she believed stranded on the beach. One expert quoted in the story attributed this and other dumb human tricks to the Disneyfication of the wild. I don't know. I wonder if our senses concerning the wild beasts have not been dumbed-down due to the fact that few us are now locked into a constant struggle to make sure we're not laying in a mangled heap of our limbs and torso before the next sunrise.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Three Best Lessons I Learned from the Web '05

As 2006 dawns, I've decided to plunge into the blogosphere. In trying to dream of an initial post, I only managed to confuse myself. Does this small fish plunge into the vast sea of world and national events or do I jump in the smaller pond of North Carolina and Greensboro? Maybe I should swim in the goldfish pond that is my neighborhood? Even though I don't always like best of the year lists, I decided to post on what I consider the three most educational posts I read during the immediate past year while surfing the web. I hope they enlighten you as much as they did me.

Lesson 1:Every Totalitarian Knows who really causes all the Problems

In August, the Weekly Standard posted a Thor Halvorssen article on the anti-semitic underpinnings of Hugo Chavez's ruling philosophy in Venezuela. Through Halvorseen, I learned how Chavez loves to perpetuate the old tyrannical meme that a conspiratorial Jew orchestrates every problem. Sadly, this has led to a Jewish diaspora from the country. It also helped me keep things in perspective when I learned of grandstanding American preachers trying to ride Chavez's coattails or read muddle-headed moral relevancy arguments comparing the Communazi Caudillo to Bushicus Horriblus.

Lesson 2: The US Military has always been Misunderestimated before being Appreciated

Bill Roggio's late autumn reporting from the frontlines in Iraq for Threatswatch impressed me mightily. Roggio's post on the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment taught me the German phrase teufelhunden and how the 3/6 earned the nickname by tearing the Germans a new one in the battle of Belleau Wood during the last months of World War I. Roggio's piece re-ignited my education in the Great War, especially the American role. It also led me to a British press dispatch of the battle. Wonder if we will ever again receive this type of write up from the Brit press, or for that matter, the mainstream American scoopmeisters?

Lesson 3: Christmas is Cool

Finally, Greensboro blogger Joe Guarino inspired me by recounting the story of Francis of Assissi and the creation of the Nativity scene. If you'll allow me to blend spiritual beliefs, Joe's post confirmed my belief in the good karma generated by the celebration of Christmas.