Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Top Fives (Georgia sports edition)

We're a day late, but yesterday was a holiday folks so cut me some slack. Buoyed perhaps by the success of the Georgia baseball team, and drawing some inspiration from Georgia Sports Blog, I'm A Realist, Dawg Sports and Hey Jenny Slater, this edition is going to focus on UGA athletics. As an aside, I'm a Realist is putting together a most impressive team-by-team preview of the SEC for 2006. As another aside, Doug at Hey Jenny Slater is mighty handy with motivational posters.

Top Five Georgia Football Players
1. Herschel Walker
2. Charley Trippi
3. Terry Hoage
4. Frank Sinkwich
5. Champ Bailey

Top Five Georgia Football Memories
1. Georgia blasting Clemson 27-12 in 1991, upsetting the No. 4 ranked-Tigers in Athens (coincidentally, the same day the Atlanta Braves clinched the National League West).
2. David Greene-to-Verron Haynes to stun Tennessee in 2001 (by the way, the Vols fell for a play-action fake in the waning seconds of the game).
3. Mike Bobo-to-Corey Allen in 1997 to rip out Georgia Tech's heart, grind it into the ground and laugh at their crying, tortured children (did I mention the amount of disdain I hold for Georgia Tech?).
4. Robert Edwards going down the sideline toward the (temporary) end zone I was sitting in to seal the 37-17 win over Florida (I have this beautiful memory of a massive Georgia flag being furiously waved in front of me, partially hindering my view, and some dejected Florida fan a few seats down from me muttering 'I can't believe we lost to these guys.' I also remember my buddy Nick being so sure Florida would win, he told me he would kill himself if Georgia won ... so, as Edwards headed for the end zone, Nick turned around and began climbing to the top of the stadium. I stopped him to ask where he was going, and he pointed to the top row of seats and simply said 'guess I gotta jump').
5. David Greene-to-Michael Johnson to capture the SEC East Championship in 2002 (I don't think I ever saw my boy Hartman jump that high ... and he proceeded to literally throw me around his apartment with joy).

Top Five Georgia Non-Football Players
1. Saudi Roundtree, women's basketball
2. Jarvis Hayes, men's basketball
3. Dominique Wilkins, men's basketball
4. Forrest 'Spec' Towns, men's track and field
5. Matias Boeker, men's tennis

Top Five Georgia Non-Football Memories
1. Stan Payne dominating Stanford to lead the Diamond Dogs to the 1990 national title in baseball.
2. Alec Kessler going nuts to lead Georgia to an 86-85 victory over an LSU team which started Shaquille O'Neal, Stanley Roberts and Chris Jackson (as an aside, remember how Chris Jackson was the man in college basketball for two years?).
3. Jeff Keppinger becoming the greatest baseball player in the history of mankind in the NCAA Regional at Athens. He hit .652 with three doubles, a triple and four home runs, including three in the championship game against Coastal Carolina ... with the final one being a two-out, two-run blast in the ninth inning to win the game (I was covering the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship across the parking lot, and every reporter, statistician and coach in the press box was ignoring the tennis matches and peering over into Foley Field to watch the game).
4. Georgia's men's basketball team upsetting No. 3 Florida 82-81 in Stegeman Coliseum, in what would be Jim Harrick's final game (even though I knew the awful wrath of God was coming, there was this fleeting hope the Bulldogs would be permitted to play in the NCAA Tournament ... because I was convinced - and still am - they would have reached the Final Four).
5. Georgia's men's tennis team taking the 2001 national title (they weren't supposed to do it, and they did ... and there was a good party afterward).

Top Five Georgia Underrated Georgia Football Players
1. Richard Tardits - The only time we heard his name was when it was used in the sentence 'David Pollack needs X number of sacks to break Richard Tardits's record.'
2. Chuck Carswell - Folks forget about him, but he was an excellent player off the bench for three years and then picked off three passes and recorded 40 tackles in his senior season.
3. John Brantley - Dude was a beast of a linebacker and sported an excellent mustache back in the day.
4. Jimmy Womack - When you look back at Herschel Walker's incredible 1980 season, remember it was Jimmy Womack opening holes for him at fullback ... and also for Willie McLendon in 1978.
5. Ronnie Swoopes - The leader of 'Ronnie & The Runts' back in the 1970s ... in 1977, at 245 pounds, he was the biggest player on the defense ... Jimmi Griffith was a 190-pound linebacker ... meaning there is hope for my buddy Ed as he goes back to school next year.

Local participation

You've got to give John Marsh credit for one thing - at least he's involved.

The self-proclaimed Republican activist submitted his own suggestions to the Athens-Clarke County Commission as the latter prepares to debate the 2006-2007 budget. And it's safe to say that I don't necessarily agree with all of his proposals and that his 'cuts' really aren't anything major ($6 million from a budget of close to $160 million really isn't all that much).

Still, you've got to applaud the guy. Unlike a lot of folks who complain about one thing or another in this community, Marsh sat down, did his research and came up with a plan of action. It'd be a better world if everyone was as involved as he was.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Real Work Conversations

Lady at Store (proudly displaying UGA Employee of the Year button): We've got three flavors of Drumsticks, but only one is in right now (lifting box to show us). But if you head over to Aderhold right now, you might be able to get some.
Me: This will do for now.
Carissa: Yeah, we can try tomorrow.
Lady at Store (standing in middle of store, still holding box): OK, but you can try there. And I'll make sure we get some in

(Five-second delay as we leave store)

Carissa: The sheer fact that insane lady was named Employee of the Month makes me question everything about this institution.
Me: It does make you doubt the selection process.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gouging vs. Charity

- I've long felt John Stossel, an ABC anchor and reporter, is nothing more than a hack trying to pass off as a legitimate journalist. This isn't to say that some of his reporting isn't valid, but that typically what he does is pepper said legitimate reporting with a handful of either extremely biased opinions or faulty positions.

His opinion today does little to assuage any concerns I have over both him and his reporting. Because in today's column, Stossel argues that it's appropriate, even proper to price gouge the poor and needy during times of crisis.

It's a ridiculous notion, and the fact that Stossel trumped out three Nobel Prize winners does nothing to make me think his suggestion is the proper course of action.

Plus, Stossel attempts to tie his tale from Hurricane Katrina to the current concern over high gas prices, when I don't necessarily think either are comparable. Katrina was an immediate need with thousands of people - most of them poor - without any material resources. Those people needed direct assistance and making a profit off them is wholly wrong.

However, considering I don't believe gas companies are price gouging us, and, despite how inconvenient and cost-crunching higher prices are, it's weird for anyone to label this as a 'crisis.' Paying more at the pump is a result of a variety of complex economic factors, with good old-fashioned supply-and-demand being one of them.

Now there may be the argument that 'well, the poor are always in need so the oil companies are consistently hurting them ... how can you argue, then, what John Sheperson was wrong.' True, but we also have a litany of agencies and programs designed to assist them in which charitable spirit rightly reigns.

Stossel, however, argues (through implication) that charity is counterproductive and the ideal way to assist those in need - desperate need as those affected by Hurricane Katrina were - is by making a profit off them.

But the best way is to give the items to those who are willing to pay higher prices. It's best because it directs supplies to those who need them most ...

This is very wrongheaded, and it suggests that those most in need will possess the resources necessary to acquire their supplies. However extreme want does not equal possessing the appropriate financial resources - quite the opposite actually. Extreme want demonstrates a lack of the necessary financial resources to acquire those supplies.

In turn, who is going to come out with the purchasing power to buy these marked-up supplies? Those with the ability to spend that kind of money, and that typically isn't many people who have just seen their entire lives completely washed away.

Charity is a wonderful, wonderful thing and our nation needs more of it.

And if John Stossel thinks it's better to take advantage of people affected by a national disaster, particularly the poor ... well, then he can go to hell.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Couple of things

- I really don't care about the NBA - though, as an aside, it was pretty fun to watch the Los Angeles Clippers reach the Western Conference semifinals ... that's like Vanderbilt rolling into the BCS - but I do, for some unexplainable reason, get absolutely fascinated by the NBA Draft.

Maybe it's Charles Barkley's berating of every particular move or the ridiculous suits on par with the fashion statements made in Soul Plane, but it's one of the most entertaining nights of TV.

Making it even more entertaining is watching the train-wreck that is the Atlanta Hawks assemble the future of their team. Again, not that I care (really, I was a Charlotte Hornets fan until George Shinn bailed on the city and moved them to New Orleans), but I was literally shouting at the TV last year, pleading for Billy Knight to draft Chris Paul instead of Marvin Williams.

What happens? Paul, a point guard, wins NBA Rookie of the Year and Williams, a 6-foot-8 swingman, joins roughly seven other 6-foot-8 swingmen on the team and launches what is sure to be a career of mediocrity ... which will surely be reinvigorated with some other franchise (see Boris Diaw or Jason Terry).

- Jeff Walker hates puppies as well.

- Let me say this to our Democratic candidates for governor - why don't we focus our energies on Gov. Sonny Perdue rather than sling mud at each other throughout the primary. While you're squabbling over ads and loans, Perdue is putting up, literally, fictional biographies of himself all over the Atlanta market. And the maddening part is they're so easy to completely disavow that you could almost make him a walking joke by the time the general election arrives.

'Sonny did.' Did he really?

- Paulwesterdawg at Georgia Sports Blog put up the pre-game video Alabama used last year, and it's impressive. I mean, I'm no Alabama fan and I got chill bumps while watching it. Heck, if we came across a Georgia one I might black out.

Mr. McGinty going to Washington

In news of the mighty cool kind, I learned last night I had been awarded a scholarship to attend Pentecost 2006 hosted by Sojourners later this June. I was pegged for the 'Emerging Leaders Track' at the three-day conference, which includes day on Capitol Hill sitting in policy workshops as well as speeches by Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Rev. Jim Wallis and Rev. Tony Campolo. I'm pretty fired up about the whole thing.

It's all coming to an end ...

OK, we're going to completely ignore the implausibility of much of 24 last night - for instance, the fact it took a mere five minutes for Mike Novak to drive Aaron out to a safe location, dump the body of the man who tried to kill him and then drive back to the president's ranch - and let's focus on what did happen.

And that's the fact the Chinese are back in play, setting up what could be tremendous season of 24 next year. Also, did we ever learn what Dr. Romano really was up to? I mean, helping the president commit murder and lead a vast conspiracy to deceive the U.S. people, sure ... but we didn't see all that much of him or his folks ... or who he actually is.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Top Fives (sports edition)

Per usual ...

Top Five Sports Memories
1. After almost a decade of futility against the Tigers, Georgia defeats a Top-Five Clemson team in football in 1991.
2. The magical run of the Red Sox in 2004 (with the victory over the Yankees in the ALCS being more sweet than the actual capturing of the World Series ... well, barely).
3. Robert Edwards's sideline jaunt into the end zone to clinch Georgia's 37-17 win over Florida in 1997
4. Fourth down, David Greene-to-Michael Johnson to win the SEC East title against Auburn in 2002.
5. My alma mater, Westside-Augusta, rallying from a 19-point first quarter deficit to defeat rival Thomson 86-80 in double overtime en route to the 1995 Class AAA title. Still the best basketball game I've ever seen.

Top Five High School Teams I Covered
1. The 2000 Commerce football team - captured the Class A championship, doing so with four of the most thrilling games I've ever seen (two wins over Lincoln County, two wins over Buford).
2. The 2001 Clarke Central baseball team - had three pitchers with ERAs of under 2.00 and two players (Josh Smith and Bo Lanier) who played for Georgia.
3. The 1999 Oconee County football team - this team was loaded with Tyson Browning (Georgia), Tony Taylor (Georgia), J.T. Cape (Duke), Willie Johnson (Georgia Southern) and Jeremy Phillips (Georgia Tech) ... the Warriors cruised to the Class AAA championship.
4. The 2002 Clarke Central girls basketball team - a really special team made up almost entirely of seniors who came into a program which was horrible ... by 2002, the Lady Gladiators were one of the state's top three teams, knocked off longtime nemesis Central Gwinnett to win the Region 8-AAAA title and were 0.3 seconds away from upsetting the No. 1 team in the state.
5. The 2001 and 2002 Jefferson girls basketball team - could've beaten half of the boys team in the area en route to the 2001 Class A title and the 2002 Class A runner-up finish.

Top Five Favorite Athletes
1. Herschel Walker
2. David Ortiz
3. Phil Mickelson
4. Trot Nixon
5. D.J. Shockley

Top Five High School Athletes I Covered
1. Monte Williams, Commerce (football)
2. Tony Taylor, Oconee County (football, basketball, soccer)
3. Josh Smith, Clarke Central (baseball)
4. Staci Childress, Jefferson (basketball)
5. Tyson Browning, Oconee County (football)

Top Five Masters Memories
1. Phil Mickelson finally breaking through in 2004, playing out-of-his-mind on the back nine on Sunday.
2. Jack Nicklaus in 1986 (as an eight-year-old, I remember being able to hear the crowd from my grandmother's house across the street).
3. The back-to-back holes-in-one at No. 16 on Sunday in 2004 ... you would have thought we were in a football stadium that day.
4. The Tiger Slam in 2001 - you forget he held off Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and David Duval to win that thing ... and Duval missed three key putts which could have won the tournament.
5. Ben Crenshaw, my favorite golfer growing up, winning it for his mentor in 1995.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Candidate endorsement

Got to say, the ole musee has provided the opportunity to meet some cool people.

Count Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta as one of said people. Big fan going in to the meeting. Even bigger fan after the meeting.

The mayor referenced Franklin Delano Roosevelt ... awesome.

Couple of things

- Kudos to Danielle Smith and the other 23 graduates from the Classic City Learning Center. I've long been a fan of this alternative school, which targets dropouts and students on the verge of dropping out and offers them flexible class schedules and unique class options. Their grade point average jumped up 20 points once enrolled, and many of them now have opportunities ahead of them they didn't have before.

- The Athens-Clarke County Commission is pondering ways to spur economic development in blighted areas, but is having difficulty in reaching a consensus. The primary idea on the table is one that would allow Athens-Clarke County to grant Tax Allocation Districts (TADs) which encourage the county to redevelop infrastructure in run-down areas and then use the property tax revenue to pay back the costs.

Carl Jordan and Alice Kinman like it, though Elton Dodson and George Maxwell not so much.

The main concern is whether or not such redevelopment would cause property values to go up and how that would affect the poor citizens the plan is trying to help. Higher property values mean higher property taxes, and many poor citizens often get pushed out of the area - either voluntarily or involuntarily - by the higher taxes. This is becoming evident over in Normaltown and Boulevard, where redevelopment is sending property values soaring almost overnight.

I don't know if I think TADs are the appropriate way to go about this. I do think freezing property taxes for a set amount of time in areas affected by this - as well as new developments which offered mixed-income dwellings - might be a more effective way to allow the poorer homeowner the chance to get something in return for the rising value of his/her property and not be forced out by rising tax rates.

- The Washington Farms 'massacre' story always has been intriguing to me. My favorite part is how the owners of the dogs - the owners who have been cited 57 times for breaking animal control ordinances who have dogs which killed four pigs, five African pygmy goats, several rabbits and a turkey - filed a defamation suit against Washington Farms and the Oconee County Animal Control Department for telling the public their dogs were killers.

Well, uh, your dogs are killers.

- I don't completely agree with Ronald Cerwonka, but his letter to the editor does make some good points. Namely that ceding all of the land at the Naval Supply School to the University of Georgia is a tad foolish. This community needs more opportunity and it needs more jobs which can help those in poverty. This is something we discussed last night at the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens board meeting, and we have a representative on the committee which is working to determine the property's usage in the future.

- Kyle at Dawg Sports wrote up a nice little, er, lengthy post about being a Georgia fan. Pretty darn good.

- Four days. Four Cecil Flowe stories. More than a bit odd. I don't know if the AJC made a big of a deal of the capture of Eric Rudolph as they are making with 'what-was-up-with-Coach-Flowe' debacle.

- Speaking of inappropriate prom behavior, I never got around to mentioning our governor's two step at a recent prom. It's bad enough three of our last four governors have had names like 'Joe Frank' and 'Zell' and 'Sonny' ... but now, our current leader wearing a stay-glo necklace and pulling his best Thornton Melon impersonation in the midst of running for re-election?

Well, Sonny did.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Couple of things

- It seems to me the recent court decision overturning the ban on gay marriage was the appropriate one because it was decided on purely legal reasons. The state of Georgia apparently has a law which does not permit questions on two different subjects under the same item on a ballot. The 2004 ballot initiative, according to the judge, violated that law. I don't think it meant she was endorsing or not endorsing the concept of gay marriage - or trying to discount the wishes of the electorate - but that she was merely saying 'listen, if you want to do this, then at least do it the appropriate way.'

- Of course, all this means is that Gov. Sonny Perdue will call for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly and push to have a new ballot initiative put on the ballot, just in time for this year's election ... thus firing up the conservative base and sealing a victory for the GOP in statewide elections.

- We love wasteful spending! We love wasteful spending!

- I like Heidi too, but it's the 'Go girl' at the end which kills me.

- This whole was Cecil Lowe drunk or not thing is some of the most excellent high school athletics news I've come across in a while. I only dealt with the Parkview coach on a handful of occasions, and he seemed like a pretty good guy. Now, is it possible he was intoxicated at the school's prom? Heck, I don't know. But this is what I do know ... three consecutive days of stories is a bit much for me, particularly this most recent one which seeks out Jeff Francouer's feelings on the matter.

We need more of this ...

You see, this is the kind of idea I think we need more of.

Bank of America has started "Keep The Change", a program which rounds up to the nearest dollar from each of your debit card purchases and automatically deposits that change in your savings account. The bank also plans to match deposits 100 percent - up to $250 annually - for the first three years, and then five percent after that. I think it's a great way to get people saving money, particularly for younger citizens who often put off thinking about putting money away.

'Drop the ornament!'

Keifer Sutherland has found a resurgence with the popularity of 24, a show in which he's been known to bring terrorists and other evil-doers to the ground.

Apparently he's using the skills he employs on the show to subdue unruly Christmas trees (just follow the link at the story's bottom).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When to stay quiet

I don't know much about DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, and what I do know about him makes me fairly glad I reside in Athens-Clarke County and not under his direction.

In response to an editorial by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Angela Tucker, Jones released the following statement:

As the old saying goes:

"You don't get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton."

I want to apologize for aggravating the AJC by saying DeKalb County Government’s hiring practices are better than the AJC's and Cox Enterprise’s hiring practices.

I want to plead with the AJC, “I’se tired. Please don't whup me no mo!!" I don't know many ways I can say it: I have not, will not, shall not condone racism in DeKalb County’s hiring practices.

In the words of a great American, Forest Gump, “that's all I gotta say about that!"

Not only is it patently offensive, it's also grossly ignorant and reveals a severe lack of professionalism on his part. This isn't entirely shocking seeing how Jones resorted to attacking the media and hollering at those in attendence of a public forum on the DeKalb County Animal Shelter last week.

Grassroots power?

Dana Blankenhorn has always been good to us Athenian bloggers, and his latest piece on the netroots' impact on the upcoming State Senate races is a good, ableit brief read.

My only concern is that I think too much credit is being given to us, particularly with regard to online activism in Oconee County. Regardless of the work of bloggers, Oconee County is still overwhelmingly Republican, so I'd disagree and say it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that bloggers can sway a firmly entrenched electorate.

While I do think the Athenian blogosphere has pushed the debate on some issues in Athens-Clarke County, it's important to not put the cart before the horse. I shudder at the hyper-righteousness and self-importance claimed by national political blogs on both sides of the political spectrum (Daily Kos and Powerline jump right into my mind as examples of both), so let's be careful here.

Candidates win elections based on a variety of factors, and in this age of technology blogs are a vital media employed by campaigns to disseminate their messages. Still, there are a lot of other factors at work ... particularly with regard to political campaigns in districts which heavily lean toward one political affiliation or another.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Top Fives (people edition)

Sticking to my original intent, here's another list unveiled on a Monday morning.

Top Five Heroes Not Named 'Mom' Or 'Dad'
1. Robert F. Kennedy
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. John F. Kennedy
4. Abraham Lincoln
5. Muhammad Ali

Top Five 'Cool Guys'
1. Waylon Jennings
2. George Clooney
3. Steve McQueen
4. David Boreanez
5. Denzel Washington

Top Five Actors/Actresses
1. Denzel Washington
2. George Clooney
3. Paul Giamatti
4. Allison Janney
5. Morgan Freeman

Top Five Fictional Characters
1. Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)
2. Josh Lymon (The West Wing)
3. Angel (Angel)
4. Faith (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
5. Jim (The Office)

Top Five Beautiful Women Not Named 'The Wife'
1. Sarah Michelle Gellar
2. Jennifer Aniston
3. Mary Louise Parker
4. Ashley Judd
5. Lauren Graham

Friday, May 12, 2006

I can live with this

It's mighty early, but I enjoy taking two out of three from the Yankees (and three of four so far this season).

I figured Boston would still be competitive, but the Red Sox are playing way over my expectations. Mark Lowell has rebounded like I thought he would - not how The Sports Guy feared it would go - and Mark Loretta has become about as solid of a No. 2 hitter as the Red Sox have had. I still miss Orlando Cabrera, but Loretta has been clutch in tight situations (last night being another example ... a two-run infield single in the seventh inning that put Boston ahead for good).

Plus, Jonathan Papelpon has settled into the closer's role and Keith Foulke hasn't completely collapsed, developing into somewhat of a decent set-up man.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

And it's a long three months ...

Not an overly spectacular season finale to The Office, but a good one nonetheless. As far as comedy goes, it definitely paled in comparison to say 'The Carpet' or 'Dwight's Speech' ... but as far as being pivotal to the development of the Jim/Pam storyline it was monumental. The poor guy finally gets the nerve to tell her about his feelings, she rejects him, then confides in her mother and the whole thing ends with the two kissing.

Numerous ways to process this ...

- It's definitely a relief to see Jim do something about his feelings;

- However, the show now could lose part of its charm (not its comedy) by forever erasing the subtle, unspoken romantic tension between the two;

- The kiss, as we all saw, ended rather awkwardly ... was she pushing him away or was she gently touching him ... alas, we don't know;

- And if they do get together, how will this affect the show's comedic flow ... I mean much of the great jokes on the show stemmed from Jim and Pam conspiring to torment Dwight.

Still ... we learned Kevin is in a band and that Creed enjoys stealing.

Color schemes

More cross-linkage love between one of my new favorite blogs.

Kyle at Dawg Sports has put up his take on the best and worst college football uniforms. He loves the traditional look from Nebraska, Alabama and Penn State (I, as well, am a fan of the Nittany Lions' uniforms), but I'm not so sure about Michigan. I mean, what in the hell is that thing on the helmet? Is it supposed to be a Wolverine after Troy Smith lowered his shoulder into one?

Though he thinks Wyoming's is ugly and, well, he's right. Though if we're talking specific uniforms, those throwback uniforms worn by Miami last year exceed anything I've ever seen. At least Oregon's is campy enough that you realize they were probably going for that (seriously, can't you almost hear the folks at Nike going 'how can we really screw with their fans?').

As an aside, despite it being Auburn, I've always liked both the home and away look the Tigers put on. In fact, when it comes to best 'on-the-field color scheme' few things are impressive as watching Georgia take on Auburn. As another aside, that's one of two games each year where, at some point, probably in the second quarter, I sit back and think 'holy crap ... this is Auburn' ... Florida being the other.

Couple of things

- Been busy the past few days with work and other obligations as well, so not as much blogging being done ... apologies.

- I do want to give a plug for the church. We've vaulted into the 20th century and begun archiving the texts of our pastor's sermons. You can check them out here if you're interested in seeing what Baptists who aren't members of the Southern Baptist Convention hear on Sunday mornings.

I'd recommend 'Serving Athens and the World' in February 2006 ...

It is an obnoxious notion, a grandiose thought, to think that we as Christians in this church can serve Athens and the world. We must hold on to the idea that no matter how small or how great the service is that we are willing to offer in making this world a better place, it is our service and we give it lovingly.

... as well as 'Nit Pickers, Wound Lickers, Nay Sayers and Arm Wavers' in April 2006.

- By the way, Linda Schrenko finally said 'yeah ... I did it.' on Wednesday. Can we have a poll for the most corrupt Augusta politician? It's a tough call between Schrenko, Charles Walker and Robin Williams. Criminality, apparently, is bipartisan.

- And, in something sure to make my buddy Brodrick happy, Oconee County has shed the 'Slow-conee' label in high school track. Seriously though ... the Warriors had the fastest runner in the 100 meters in Region 8-AAA? Man, the times they are a-changin' in the world of prep track and field. And Brodrick should know, he being a 'former' school record-holder in cross country.

- As an aside, if you like high school sports, go visit the State Track and Field Championships in Jefferson. Always my favorite event to cover because it's something those folks up there take very seriously and do a bang-up job hosting.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Couple of things

- Democrat Mac Rawson, who is challenging Sen. Ralph Hudgens's newly redistricted State Senate seat, will be on Tim Bryant's radio show this morning at 9 a.m. on 1340-AM. I like him. You oughta check it out.

- I'm A Realist puts together a fantastic summary of the Georgia baseball team's recent surge.

- Speaking of Georgia athletic blogs, Dawg Sports has put together an insanely thorough and oddly fascinating series on a proposed realignment of the Big Ten conference. They've got a weird thing involving the Big Ten over there as they're also pushing for a home-and-home series with Michigan. And that, it should be noted, is a pretty cool idea ... though the Wolverines don't rank as high in my top five wish list for future opponents:

1. Penn State
2. Texas
3. Notre Dame
4. North Carolina
5. Michigan

Why North Carolina you ask? There's a lot of high school football talent for one thing, and it would be a fantastic weekend trip for Georgia fans. Chapel Hill is a tremendous town.

- Russ takes issues with David Blaine. Come to think of it ... Russ knows a heck of a lot about magic, and I've known the guy for like 20-plus years and never really thought about that.

Out of left field ...

Buddy, I like small towns too, but don't you folks need some economic opportunity? I mean, the county's average wage is $412 a week, which is more than $200 below the state average. The per capita personal income is $6,000 below the state average, the poverty rate is close to 15 percent and property values are $9,000 below the state average.

I don't know how this became an 'Athens-Clarke County vs. Madison County' argument, since I think the Banner-Herald just said 'why don't you guys quit fooling around and then you can attract some growth. What kind of growth you wish to have? Any kind you want. Hey it's your community, and I'm all for letting you pick how you best want to do it.

Come to think about it, the real guy who would want to dictate such things is actually your State Senator. A guy named Hudgens. Doesn't like local control.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Top Fives (music edition)

Our schedule kinda got off-track, what with all the trips to New York and down internet, so we'll try to get things rightside up now. As always, feel free to do your own.

Top Five Musical Artists
1. Bruce Springsteen
2. John Mellencamp
3. Tupac
4. Eminem
5. Edwin McCain

Top Five Soul Songs
1. 'Cry To Me' - Solomon Burke
2. 'These Arms Of Mine' - Otis Redding
3. 'Cupid' - Sam Cooke
4. 'Uptight' - Stevie Wonder
5. 'Miss Grace' - The Thymes

Top Five Springsteen Songs
1. 'Atlantic City'
2. 'Downbound Train'
3. 'Youngstown'
4. 'Darlington County'
5. 'My Hometown'

Top Five Rap Songs
1. 'It's Tricky' - Run DMC
2. 'Rabbit Run' - Eminem
3. 'One Mic' - Nas
4. 'To Live And Die In L.A.' - Tupac
5. 'Way I Am' - Eminem

Top Five Love Songs
1. 'Arms Of A Woman' - Amos Lee
2. 'These Arms Of Mine' - Otis Redding
3. 'Breathe Me' - Sia
4. 'Through The Floor' - Edwin McCain
5. 'Something In The Way She Moves' - James Taylor

Couple of things

- Quite a busy weekend for yours truly. Lots of obligations at work during the week, culminating with presentations and reports on Friday. All went well though. And the first Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens 'Spring Hoe-Down' went off without a hitch on Saturday. Let me tell you, being the event coordinator for something you know nothing about isn't the easiest task in the world. Still, looks like we raised between $2,000 and $3,000 for IHN, which is good. And The Wife and I successfully won five bottles of white wine donated by Gosford Wine in the silent auction, so that's good. Ed was gracious enough to join me for a couple of drinks Saturday night, and we enjoyed the music of Justin Brogdon on the patio at Boar's Head.

- Not that I'm well-versed in matters of national intelligence gathering, but I don't necessarily see the problem with an experienced military officer, particularly one with significant intelligence experience, taking over the CIA. If he resigns from his current military post, he will be free from all of these odd conflict-of-interest charges which are plaguing him now. I'm really stunned so many Republicans, like Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, are so vehemently opposing him. I mean, don't they support the troops?

- Uh, not really fellas. What perpetuates Georgia's party image is the vast number of college students who enjoying partying. These students are going to go down to Jacksonville a few days early no matter what. Back in my day, we didn't even have this Fall Break and my classes were so empty on Friday the professors always cancelled them. So, in my mind, the Fall Break makes perfect sense because it gives everyone time off at a time when people are going to take time off whether you like it or not.

- If you haven't yet, check out the discussion on Chuck Jones - complete with Chuck Jones himself - over at Athens Politics.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Couple of things

- Hoping to stay relevant, Richard DeRose has decided to run for mayor ... again. He garnered a whopping nine percent of the vote last time out, so there's only one way to go I suppose.

DeRose is building his campaign around ... stopping the avian bird flu ... and he wants to spend $10 million to do it. Whether or not there's anything else that he wants to do as mayor, I don't know, though it is clear he is absolutely obsessed with this notion of securing the Animal Health Research Center.

Is this really what you want to run on right out of the gate? Really? Is he a producer of Fatal Contact: Avian Bird Flu in America?

The kicker in the story is that Blake Aued does his research and reveals the significant lack of threat posed by the Animal Health Research Center:

UGA's Animal Health Research Center, formerly known as the Bio-Containment Research Center, caused a furor in the 1990s when residents and county officials opposed it on the grounds that a viral leak is possible. Such a leak has never occurred.

Facilities like the Animal Health Research Center and the newly opened Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences are built to a "Level 3" standard, the second-highest possible. Level 3 labs don't contain ultra-dangerous, incurable viruses such as Ebola, and are equipped with safeguards like card-key access, self-contained air systems, filters and decontamination tanks. In addition, the Athens-Clarke fire and police departments have special teams to deal with hazardous materials.

I mean, I could run for mayor by saying that we shouldn't go to nuclear war with the Soviet Union, but that doesn't mean what that my platform is grounded in reality.

- It's the musical chairs game at North Oconee, though it seems an awful lot like Daryl Jones got the shaft. But I've known John Osborne for quite a while, and he's a sharp guy so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Plus, when you're 1-18 in your first two years, there's really no way to go but up.

- What has been the highlight at the Athens Banner-Herald editorial pages the past two days has not been litany of immigration letters, but the two lone ones which are unrelated to that debate. Concerning what you ask? How about adopting a pet and 'way to go crazy laughing guy!'

- That said, Bill Kerr has some faulty arguments today regarding the legalization of illegal immigrants. If they were legalized, then they would be open to paying for all of these services he claims they unfairly use and suffocate which means it is logically impossible this deficit he cites would swell from $10 billion to $29 billion. And don't get me started on his final paragraph ... literally of what he says is absolutely ridiculous ('break up families in Mexico' ... how?).

- I haven't yet talked about this whole 'Chuck-Jones-creating-a-family-to-make-himself-look-good' thing, but that's only because the internet which was down for so long is finally back. I intend to, so have no fear. What I'll say now is kudos to Jason Winders. That's some damn fine reporting.

Real Work Conversations

Paul: What's with all the Chick-fil-A condiments in the kitchen?
Me: I don't know. Just in case you need some mayonnaise or ketchup or jam. ... You know, the Chick-fil-A mayonnaise might be the best mayonnaise out there.
Paul: I wouldn't know. I'm not a mayonnaise fan.
Me: I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been known to dip my french fries in the mayonnaise before.
Paul: I lose respect for you more and more each day.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Couple of things

- All that work on the Athens-Clarke County budget? All for naught. High gas prices and rising health care costs drown out any chance for expanded bus service or additional police officers.

- Oregon?. Sweet. That's one heckuva road trip right there. And what's with Georgia going all Pac-10 as of late? Cool, sure. But let's see if we can land a Big Ten team here and there. A trip to the Pacific Northwest would rock, to be sure, but I'd like to see the Bulldogs play in Ann Arbor or something as well.

- Speaking of football, one final thing about this Mario Williams vs. Reggie Bush debate ... the Texans still should've probably opted for Bush, but let's not poormouth the impact of a defensive end. Julius Peppers almost singlehandedly rebuilt the Carolina defense and now the Panthers are arguably the best team in the NFC. While Williams is no Peppers, still ... it's possible.

- Where's Grey Davis? There's a recall push underway in Madison County. Man, that's what I call being upset over rezoning.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And we're off ...

Well, a federal court let the redistricting split of Athens-Clarke County stand, and they probably should have seeing I couldn't find any constitutional problems with this one. That isn't to say this wasn't a partisan move by the Georgia GOP - because it blatantly was - but partisan moves aren't always unconstitutional, so here we are.

Though I think the lawyer for the state is forgetting a bit of his history when he says this:

It is a dangerous, dangerous path to go down to say a federal district court should second-guess a state legislature when we're talking about a plan that is presumptively nondiscriminatory.

A 'dangerous, dangerous path' like, say, using a state legislature to deliberately punish and divide local governments comprised of different political persuasions ... and to do so without any consultation of the people who live in said local community?

So this puts Rep. Jane Kidd in a difficult State Senate race with Republican Bill Cowsert, who is a pretty likeable and popular guy who earned the endorsement of the Athens Banner-Herald the last time out. Kidd's got good name recognition, but in a Republican-leaning district with a personable opponenet like Cowsert, it'll be one of the tougher races in the state.

On the other side, Democrat Mac Rawson will challenge Sen. Ralph Hudgens for the latter's seat. Rawson is the Democratic version of Cowsert in my mind - a personable, likeable moderate who I think will play a lot better in some of those rural counties than one might think. Plus, there's a lot of local discontent with Hudgens, particularly in Madison County. Madison County Commissioner John Scoggins has been rumored to be very displeased with Athens' least-favorite state senator. A smart campaign might lead to a closer-than-expected race here, if not an upset.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Couple of things

- First and foremost, I have been sans internet at the house for more than a week now. Apparently lightning damaged our ethernet card or something - as well as knocking out our downstairs TV, TiVo, DVD player and a portable phone - so there has been little activity on my part. Hopefully on Wednesday some kind folks from Dell are going to come out and replace my motherboard (something which sounds very ominous, but actually isn't).

- The NFL Draft happened this past week, and the Houston Texans earn the award for the most mind-puzzling first round pick in the history of the league by taking North Carolina State's Mario Williams over Southern Cal's Reggie Bush. Because everyone wants a defensive end over a human highlight reel. Still, I'm not a huge believer Bush is going to be that successful in the NFL. I think you're getting more Eric Metcalf in him rather than more Gale Sayers, but then again I thought Joey Harrington was going to be the next John Elway, so what do I know?

- I do know the value of North Carolina State players was greatly inflated. Three first round picks? From the Wolfpack's defensive line? Was North Carolina State a BCS team last year, and I just missed it? You would have thought it was the greatest defense in the history of college football, and not one which finished ranked fourth in the ACC.

- From Treasury Secretary John Snow on the latest Social Security projections:

If we don't action soon to reform both of these programs, the coming demographic bulge that we face will drive federal spending to unprecendented levels ... and threaten the nation's future prosperity.

Because an endless war in Iraq, massive federal budgets deficits run up by his boss and large quantities of national debt financed by China don't pose any threat to our economic outlook ... especially compared with something which is projected to happen 34 years from now.

- Talk about out of context. This letter is full of historical inaccuracies and broad generalizations. I enjoy how Murray Fox admits he would gladly die for the freedom of speech ... well, except for this one time since he feels Gary Trudeau should leave the country. As an aside, I absolutely love the whole concept of the editor's note. It's saying 'we're letting you say what you want, but, by the way, you're horribly wrong and here's why.'