Thursday, August 31, 2006

Music for the moment

Couple of things

- Lookee, lookee ... a local blogger done good. Charles gets a letter in the Banner-Herald. He also adds some worthwhile discussion to the downtown alcohol problems, of which I agree with some points and disagree with others.

- I don't necessarily reach the same conclusions as this Banner-Herald editorial did based on the comments from local bar owners. Granted, I don't agree with the bar owners that the university is driving all of these kids downtown, but the editorial suggests that these owners do their part in enforcing the existing laws on the book as well. I think it's clear from their comments they are doing that to the best of their ability, and still failing for a variety of what appear to be legitimate reasons (though the editorial called them 'excuses'). This is puzzling along the same lines as an earlier editorial criticizing The Red & Black that Hillary has already refuted - namely the concession they're already doing many things to stop underage drinking but still offering criticism of it.

- Speaking of this issue, The Red & Black talks to the mayoral candidates about it.

- Jane Kidd's on the stand regarding redistricting and plans to introduce a constitutional amendment calling for an independent commission, provided she wins her election in a few months.

- Hillary's fantasy football team is chock full of random SEC players.

- In the 'I'm-slowly-becoming-a-media-mogul' department ... I'm set to host a 30-minute TV show for Clarke Central football on Charter's local channel. This is in addition to the whole blogging thing and my agreement to assist WRFC 960-AM with their high school football games on Friday night.

- Regarding tailgating, I had never really thought about the new plan to move folks out to the intramural fields. It just seemed rather inconvenient for me, but I didn't realize until yesterday, chatting with my interns, how much students hate that idea. Why? Because it will tear up the fields they use.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Couple of things

- The downtown question remains unanswered apparently, but in very promising news a group of bar owners expressed their concerns and shared their policies with the Campus/Community Alcohol Coalition.

- But, speaking of the Campus/Community Alcohol Coalition, its chairman, Pat Daugherty, wrongly criticizes Athens Banner-Herald executive editor Jason Winders. For one thing, Daugherty disputes Winders's assertion that overconsumption of alcohol is a 'rite of passage' and that it's not really 'normal' and only appears 'normal' because we say it's 'normal.' Instead, it's implied that he advocates for no consumption of alcohol, praising the new 'alcohol-free' zones for Georgia football Saturdays. However, that misses the point because the real problem in this country - as with most issues - is this is a societal problem. We have such a juvenille, 'either-or' approach to alcohol we, inadvertantly, foster this climate which encourages excessive drinking by youth. If we actually approached it as a responsible citizenry and said 'you know what, it's OK to have two drinks' and encourage moderation rather than respond with reactionary and faulty plans (like alcohol-free tailgating zones or making closing time earlier and earlier), you might see some progress.

- Of course, as I've said before ... we really don't have this rampant drinking problem that folks - a majority of whom never visit downtown after, say, 9 p.m. - claim we have.

- Finally, this letter by the father of James Cole, the 18-year-old who was murdered three years ago in downtown Athens-Clarke County will only stoke the fires. It's a tragedy this young man lost his life in such a senseless act, but we shouldn't blame the bars for this death ... why not try blaming the bastards who shot your son?

- In the 'this-ain't-good-news-at-all' department, Big Papi has an irregular heartbeat. Best wishes to him as things go from absolutely horrible to unimaginably bad for the Red Sox.

- The Wife and I enjoy being members of First Baptist Church of Athens. Reason No. 4,271? Our pastor dropped a Black-Eyed Peas reference in the middle of his last sermon ... without any introductory statement like 'There's a popular hip-hop group out today called the Black-Eyed Peas ...' No sir, he just put that out there as if everyone was familiar with them. Awesome.

- The folks at Athens Politics have been doing an excellent job in facilitating the discussion between supporters of E.H. Culpepper's campaign and Doug McKillip's campaign. There's a good bit of accusations being thrown around involving back taxes involving Culpepper, and folks are really worked up about it. Count me as someone who completely isn't. I've tried to come down somewhere over that issue, and it's just not worth it. It's relatively minor in the grand scheme of things and is ultimately preventing both sides from talking about, you know, the actual issues.

- If you're out and about this afternoon, consider heading on over to the 'ole musee for Figgie's@Five. It's $5 and William Tonks, a local folk rock musician, will be performing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Couple of things

- Wow. Max Burns's logic is incredibly faulty. He claims that if Democrats take control of Congress, then regardless of John Barrow's 'independent' status (as the latter claimed in the debate), than a rash of far left policies will be enacted. Not only is that patently false, but it also fails in light of the reality of Georgia's congressional delegation. If Barrow wins, the allocation stays the same. If Barrow wins, he's vowed to be 'independent' which means, according to such logic which Burns even conceded, he may even vote with Republicans on some issues, which would put the delegation in the same status as it currently exists. Ultimately Burns was saying what letter is next to your name is vastly more important than the actual beliefs, views and ideologies you possess ... it's incredibly crass and brazenly political, but at least the man came out and said it.

- This is awesome. I'm very glad to see this many people turn out to volunteer their services to a variety of agencies designed to assist those living in poverty in this community.

- Don't think our musical discussion is done yet. We all added some songs, and Meims made some strong contributions to the conversation.

- Following up on what I talked about briefly yesterday, alcohol-related arrests over the weekend were marginally up - from 71 to 80 - but fewer students were cited. Figure that one out anti-student folks.

- Keeping this going ... the Athens Banner-Herald editorial calls for common-sense enforcement of the laws, which I agree with, but perpetuates this myth that we have a massive underage drinking problem. Again ... 40 student arrests out of, potentially, 10,000 people flooding downtown over the weekends is .004 percent. Listen, underage kids drinking ain't good, nor is irresponsible overconsumption of alcohol. But, follow the editorial's advice and merely enforce the laws on the books, and it'll start to work out. We don't need a whole new litany of rules out there to simply confuse more folks, and it's a shame that we have sensationalist letters like this one by Lee Adams which portray downtown Athens-Clarke County as hell on earth.

- Though it mildly pains me to say it ... I miss Johnny Damon ... and Bill Mueller ... and Keith Millar ... and Pedro Martinez.

- I think it's really good that developers are working with the residents of the neighborhoods along Prince Avenue for this potential mixed-use development, but dare I ask how in the world do these people have that much sway? I mean, if someone wanted to build something like that near where I lived, do you think they'd care what my little 'ole neighborhood thought?

- Dude, by the way, that Lee Adams fella lives in Ila.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Couple of things

- Good story on the effect downtown will have on the upcoming local races, or more specifically, how student drinking will impact the election. I tend to think much of this whole 'there's a problem downtown' thing is a bit overblown. The Athens Banner-Herald says there were 71 alcohol-related offenses two weekends ago. Considering we've got more than 30,000 students, that's .002 percent. If you break it down further, estimating you have anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 students downtown on a given weekend night, that's two percent of the downtown population acting up. So two percent acts the fool, and everyone is up in arms? And current commissioner and mayoral candidate Tom Chasteen, doing everything he can to make me not vote for him, wants to move closing time up to 2 a.m. ... which will only cause students to drink more in a shorter period of time, potentially worsening the problem rather than helping it.

- Awesome! Rival College Republicans duke it out and fight over who's a bigger victim ... my conservative group or yours?

- Supporters of both Doug McKillip and E.H. Culpepper continue to slug it out at Athens Politics.

- Apparently, parents don't care and the kids hate shuffling paperwork to and fro. On an aside, Carrie Olsen, Madison County High School's faculty adviser to the Gay/Straight Alliance, is confusing me ...

She's not sure how large the club will be this year because the club will meet for the first time next month, but at a club fair at the beginning of the year, only about 30 students signed up to receive more information.

"Well, we had less people sign up," Olson said. "But we didn't have that many people at the beginning of last year. And this year, we're charging dues."

You're disappointed 30 kids signed up for this ... in Madison County? Dude, if I were you, I'd be doing cartwheels.

- To make myself feel older, I compiled a list of my musical tastes from the early- and mid-1990s for my interns. Please note inclusion of Rob Base.

- Another thing about downtown ... there's all this talk of trash and the smell, and I think that as well is overhyped. The Wife go to church downtown on Sunday mornings, and everything is put back together ... and it isn't as if the kids are that bad. The city workers who come out in the wee morning hours deserve our respect and our thanks for doing a bang-up job in cleaning up our streets. It's a thankless task, but one we as a community should appreciate much more.

- Hillary and her husband celebrated their 10th anniversary, and I couldn't make it to the shindig. So my apologies for that, and another Happy Anniversary wish to them.

- The Wife has returned from her five-day visit to Houston to see our twin nephews, meaning I don't have the bed all to myself any more. You take for granted how nice it is to spread out in the center of a queen-sized bed until, you know, you can't. Still, she's The Wife and it's good to have her back home.

- I'm glad this kid is such a dedicated worker, and he'll no doubt go far in life, but tons of students do this kind of thing, just in areas that are different than politics. I worked 30 hours a week, usually more, as a beat writer at the Banner-Herald during my senior year. My boy Hartman worked a full-time gig for NewsChannel 32. It's life. It happens.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dating myself

Being a university town, we have a fair number of college students who inquire about internships and, as a result, we employ a good number of said students. Both Hillary and I agree that we happen to have a bang-up crop of interns right now ... all of whom will probably go on and be vastly more successful than we ever will be.

Two of our interns worked over the summer for us and decided to stay on through fall, and are two personable young women. They're definitely not afraid of conversation, which is a good thing since we're a chatty office.

However, whenever we discuss music and the like, Hillary and I ultimately feel like we're 117 years old since they were, like, eight when we were in high school. So I decided to take some time and do a little research, compiling a list of songs that I enjoyed during the days of my youth from late middle school through high school. It's been kinda fun to sift back through this musical list ... and realize how awful some of my musical picks were (Letters to Cleo? Really?). Of course, most of it holds up according to my tastes today, so that's a relief.

As an up-front disclaimer - I had quite the thing for Mariah Carey in high school, but in an attempt to move on with my life and put that disturbing chapter behind me, I have omitted her songs from the list.

Please continue.

Long Way Down by The Goo-Goo Dolls

Ladyfingers by Luscious Jackson

Here and Now by Letters to Cleo

Volcano Girls by Veruca Salt

Shutterbug by Veruca Salt

J.A.R. by Green Day

Walk On The Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket

El Scorcho by Weezer

Waiting For Somebody by Paul Westerberg

Universal Heartbeat by Juliana Hatfield

Alive by Pearl Jam

Jimmy Olsen's Blues by Spin Doctors

I Alone by Live

Galaxie by Blind Melon

Cover of Can't Get Enough Of Your Love by The Afghan Whigs

St. Teresa by Joan Osborne with special guest Melissa Etheridge

Change by Blind Melon

74-75 by The Connells

Joy and Pain by Rob Base and EZ Rock

California Love by Tupac and Dr. Dre

Motown Philly by Boyz II Men

You're All I Need Mary J. Blige featuring Method Man

Slam by Onyx

ATLiens by OutKast

Lost Souls by Tupac (click on link for snippet)

If I Ruled The World by Nas

Since I'm having a hard time tracking more rap and hip-hop on YouTube, let me direct you to this link to a CD which sums up the majority of what was fairly popular rap and hip-hop in Augusta in the early to mid-1990s.

Russ knows what I'm talking about.


Saturday apparently brought out some good folks for the letter-writin' ...

This first one by Chuck Jackson is absolutely ridiculous. First, he oddly links the opinions of a handful of people in the community who take the time to write letters to the editor expressing to those of the staff of the Athens Banner-Herald, revealing to us that these people expressing their opinions is what led him to cancel his subscription ... showing a profound inability on his part to simply turn the page and move on to the actual news in the newspaper.

Second, how does Jackson articulate his disdain of idiotic letter-writers? Well, how about by writing an idiotic letter.


Then there's this bordeline offensive letter by Norm Weatherby where he attacks anyone who combats poverty - from public-funded social programs to churches providing soup kitchens. My problem isn't so much his intolerance, but rather that he doesn't really know a damn thing he's talking about.

He projects two massive stereotypes - one for all of those living in poverty in our community and another for those who work with agencies and organizations which help the poor. This first one, though terribly unfortunate, is a common occurence in these types of discussions. The latter, however, is truly, truly odd. Rather than acknowledge the fact that these organizations - like say IHN of Athens or The Sparrow's Nest or Athens Homeless Shelter or The Salvation Army - actually do things which help prepare those who receive assistance to be able to move toward sustainable and responsible independence, he claims we all just want to become more dependent on the ever-vanishing public funds ... which is a tad ironic in light of this story on a training session IHN of Athens offered for area non-profits which included how to raise funds from both the public and private sectors.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Couple of things

- This whole demoting-Pluto thing is, apparently, the big story. Even the Athens Banner-Herald jumps in on the commentary with this editorial ... which, by the by, is one of the more entertaining pieces they've penned in a while.

- Steve Jones and Red Petrovs have a nice forum about Partners for a Prosperous Athens today, where they discuss the next couple of steps the community's anti-poverity initiative should take. Jones, as an aside, will be the keynote speaker for the IHN of Athens Tee-Off Celebration Dinner on Oct. 1 at First Baptist Church of Athens. Ray McNair's letter, however, makes a few good points but, on the whole, is a tad shortsighted. Lots of things contribute to poverty, and low wages are one of them ... but fixing this problem isn't as simple as merely bumping up the pay of our workers. That would help, sure, but it would fall by the wayside as the economy eventually comes around and adjusts to the shift. Education, job training, expanded opportunities, personal and community responsibility ... all of these things are essential to the equation. Raising wages is nice, but it's a band-aid on a much bigger problem.

- You know, after reading this article on the Classic Center's audit, I tend to side more with John Wolfe. For one thing, Paul Cramer tends to think the convention center itself - which, don't get me wrong, is one of the best in the state - is solely responsible for the bump in the number of events and conventions ... and not the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn. This seems to be a weird chicken-and-egg kinda scenario. For a long time the Classic Center said they had a hard time filling up their schedule because they lacked a convenient luxury hotel nearby. Now that they have one, all of a sudden their extraordinary marketing skills have done the trick, and not the very thing they've been begging for. And, secondly, when the audit reveals you made $80,000 net and you come back with 'well, actually it's $250,000 gross' ... you're still only making $80,000. It doesn't necessarily matter what you brought in, but rather what you take home.

- This story on work-study students and non-work-study students is kinda confusing to me. So, is it bad that we have an employment system designed to help pay for school? Is there a sudden lack of jobs in the service industry ... ones which the students dominate in this town, much the detriment of the poorer full-time citizens in this community? I can't think of one non-campus job which would deliberately make a schedule that would hurt a student's ability to attend class or study. I didn't have one. A buddy of mine who works at a PR firm here in town employs students, and he sculpts their schedules around their classes. If anything, the flexibility local employers lend to students is one of the main reasons people like, say, the guests we have at IHN of Athens are forced to work lousy hours.

- Let me give a shout-out to the good folks at 283 Bar, who were gracious enough to give me and some other folks from work a free round of drinks. Rachel's good people over there, and they've got a sweet jukebox. Where else can you get Joy and Pain by Rob Base followed up with Running With The Devil by Van Halen?

- The good folks at Athens Politics are back with some fresh copy, including good discussions involving the Athens-to-Atlanta commuter train and a breakdown of the State House race between the trio of Doug McKillip, Regina Quick and E.H. Culpepper.

- Another mailbag by Bill Simmons ... and this one has an Enrico Palazzo reference. Awesome.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Music for the moment

OK ... compiling this list allowed me to bridge new levels of awesomeness in the most random way possible. If you notice No. 3 you see one of my embarassing, guilty pleasures in a Nickelback song. I know all their songs sound the same, and I know they're all pretty cheesy ... but I still find the friggin' things pretty catchy. This particular one I've kinda liked so I figured I'd include. While searching on YouTube to find a video clip, I couldn't find a good live version or the music video.

What I did find was tremendous in a truly, truly awful way ... it's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan video set to the song. I think I laughed so hard I woke up The Wife. Don't get me wrong ... it is my favorite show, but this is a tad much. Still, good for random dude who put it together. Apparently it took some time, and it gave me something to blog about.

1. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way by Waylon Jennings
2. Can't You See by The Marshall Tucker Band (though a fairly lousy live version)
3. Saving Me by Nickelback
4. Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight by Amos Lee
5. Who Says You Can't Go Home by Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles (of Soul Miner's Daughter fame)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Couple of things

- OK, the feud between The Red & Black and the Athens Banner-Herald apparently won't evolve after all, with the former sort of wussing out. They rightfully played it straight by honing up to some of the apparent problems in the reporting, but didn't push back in defense of their journalistic independence or chastize the Banner-Herald for publically calling them out. But, where The Red & Black backs down, Hillary does not.

- Good editorial today by J.T. and the boys regarding the proposed changes to the Community Development Block Grants. I've worked with these things for some time now through IHN of Athens, and it's obvious we need to tinker with the formula. So let's all credit Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Alice Kinman for her hard work in helping to formulate some of these ideas. Blake Aued did a nice job with his Sunday examination of these proposals, and he managed to get a couple of quotes from our executive director. On a related note, seeing how IHN of Athens helps homeless families and combats poverty in the community, the first report from Partners for a Prosperous Athens is due out, and its findings aren't pretty.

- This happened a few years back when I was a student, and the University fixed it. Why tinker with the system now ... particularly when it leads right back to the same type of confusion and disturbances?

- I watched the first two parts of Spike Lee's When The Levees Broke last night and found it to be very powerful and very well done. It was amazingly fair in its assignment of blame, particularly being hard on the actions of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. I'll definitely tune in tonight to see the final two portions.

- Matt Yglesias takes a look at book review on Lyndon Johnson ... and me being of the history-loving type, particularly progressive history, it interested me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

There's a difference

Listen, I'm in awe of what Tiger Woods did this past weekend at Medinah en route to his 12th major championship, and I'm in awe of what he has done in 10 short years of being a professional golfer. However, this column by ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski is beyond absurd.

Tiger Woods ... the greatest athlete ever?

You're kidding me, right Gene? Tiger's not even the greatest golfer of all time (yet), and we're proclaiming him the athlete of all athletes.


I won't even get started on the whole 'are golfers really athletes' debate and just leave it at this ... baseball was Jackie Robinson's fourth-best sport at UCLA, as he twice led the Pac-10 in scoring as a point guard, won an individual national championship in the long jump, was an All-American halfback in football and, oh yeah, just happened to shatter the color barrier in Major League Basebal en route to a Hall of Fame career.

Make no mistake, I consider Woods easily one of the four greatest golfers of all time, along with Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. And I have little doubt that, within the next decade, Woods will pick up seven additional major titles to surpass The Golden Bear's once-insurmountable mark of 18 major victories.

But there is more to being the 'best' than simply piling up an absurd amount of wins. There's poise and determination and an unflappable spirit which puts you ahead of your best competition. And I've never seen any athlete, outside of Michael Jordan, who has the focus and concentration Woods possesses. It's almost uncanny to sit back and watch the way he simply dominates not just the rest of the playing field, but the golf course itself.

Woods has all of the right ingredients to be the best golfer ... except for that one he has absolutely no control over.

Consider who Nicklaus beat week-in and week-out en route to his 18 majors (and 73 overall PGA Tour wins). Arnold Palmer. Gary Player. Tom Watson. Johnny Miller.

Ponder who Hogan held off time and time again. Sam Snead. Byron Nelson.

Jones? Try Walter Hagen. Maybe Gene Sarazen.

Who's the top rival for Woods? Phil Mickelson? Sure, he's my favorite golfer and he's captured three majors in the past three years, but has Lefty stared down the world No. 1 golfer yet?

Anyone else ... Ernie Els ... Sergio Garcia ... Retief Goosen ... David Duval.

All of Woods' rivals, save Mickelson, would be middle-of-the-pack players compared with those top competitors like Palmer or Sarazen or Snead.

Woods is an incredible talent who is by far the best golfer on the planet. However, my point in all of this is to ask how would he react if someone who was his equal matched him shot-for-shot on the back nine in a major championship? And the answer is that we don't have the slightest idea.

We watched Nicklaus go toe-to-toe with Palmer, arguably one of the greatest to ever play the game, and elevate his game to the next level. With Woods, we haven't seen that happen yet. The one time it did, in the 2000 PGA Championship, a journeyman named Bob May fired a 66 in the final round and forced Woods to extra holes, where the latter barely hung to pick up the title.

How would Woods respond if May was replaced by someone who shared his own shotmaking ability and possessed the same steely nerves? What would he do if this mythical rival smacked his approach shot on the 72nd hole of The Masters to within four feet of the hole?

Until that happens, and until we know what Tiger's next step would be, I can't confidently say Woods is the best golfer in history.

Couple of things

- Damn ... this is a bad idea. We're apparently on the verge of moving into a feud on par with the great East Coast/West Coast rap battles, though I don't expect J.T. to start tossing out rhymes like Tupac any time soon. Why is this bad? Well, gee, let me count the ways ... professional courtesy would be one, the recognition that it's a student newspaper would be another. Even though the editorial was designed as more of a backhanded compliment, it still is one newspaper telling another how to do their job ... and that's a bit dicey.

- Buddy, please ... I don't necessarily disagree with you, but it's kinda late for you to make this argument, isn't it?

- If you missed it, you didn't miss much except for Tiger Woods being absolutely ruthless on the golf course. It's ridiculous how good he is.

- Speaking of good, let's chalk up the past three days in Boston as the exact opposite. Five games with the Yankees is four days ... perfect opportunity to make this a pennant race, not get slapped around and relive the Boston Massacre.

- You don't say ... and this story ends with the most common sense quote from a Republican I've come across in a long time.

- At The Cover Two, I've just finished the preview of Commerce.

- Hillary scolds me for her growing obession with Michael Bolton ... hey, I just planted the seed, watered it and watched it grow.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Couple of things

- The first high school football preview is up at The Cover Two. I take a look at Jefferson.

- Here's today's letter nominee ... my question is what if some of the talking points are true?

- Holding down the fort in Chicago, Russ delivers his musical memories list. He gets bonus points for the Bad Company memory ... dude, no memories of Runnin' With The Pack?

- This is a very odd hypothetical from Matt Yglesias.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Couple of things

- Giving credit where credit's due ... less than one week after having Ohio State's Troy Smith shake him off on a pivotal pass play, our boy Tim Kelly rose to the occasion and stuffed Smith on a scramble late in Matt and I's rematch with the Buckeyes on NCAA Football 2007.

- Man, were the letters to the editor good ... particularly the response to J.T.'s collection of thoughts this past Sunday which included letters like this one and then this one. For what it's worth ... it does seem a little hypocritical to drive the very gas-guzzling vehicle many in BikeAthens decry. Sure you absolutely need a car in this day and age, but you couldn't go for one with better miles per gallon than a SUV?

- Continuing on the letters, folks need to apparently never eat anything that is not nutritional ... doing so means imminent death according to Lisa McKinney.

- I need to start awarding points for the unintentional humorous Republican attacks on Democrats ... this one would earn some points for its references to Hollywood, welfare state socialism, George Soros and 'banana republic.'

- So you're saying there's a chance ...

- Bill Simmons tackles another mailbag ... and claims Randy 'Macho Man' Savage is the greatest professional wrestler of all time, offering 10 reasons why, including ...

Macho Man was a centerpiece of the greatest wrestling angle of the '80s, when he became a good guy and teamed up with Hulk Hogan as the Mega-Powers, then things started falling apart when the Macho Man thought Hulk had eyes for Elizabeth, culminating in the Macho Man refusing to accept Hulk's tag during a Saturday Night Main Event (they ended up losing), followed by a screaming match in the locker room in which Savage yelled things like "You got jealous eyes! Oh, yeah ... you got jealous eyes!" before finally sneak-attacking Hogan as Elizabeth screamed in horror. As far as the defining buddy-turning-on-buddy events of the last 25 years, this was right up there with Crockett shooting Tubbs, The Game calling out 50 Cent, T.O. ripping McNabb, Kobe ratting out Shaq to the Colorado police, Shawn Michaels kicking Marty Jannetty through the window and Brandon sleeping with Dylan's girlfriend. And yes, my buddy Birdman and I reenacted this entire scene at 3 a.m. after about 45 beers apiece, with our pal Nick Aieta playing Miss Elizabeth. Fortunately, no videotape exists.

- Perhaps we should have some audience participation here. I've been toying with idea of growing my hair out like, say, Waylon Jennings or possibly Billy Crudup's character in Almost Famous ... though the latter would probably require only a mustache.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Music of the moment

Friday, August 11, 2006

Couple of things

- Interesting study from the Pew Hispanic Center finds that immigration, both legal and illegal, has not damaged the employment prospects for American workers, which goes against many of the preconceived notions made by those who support harsher policies to curb illegal immigration.

- Seeing how the Red Sox are tremendously struggling, this could be a good thing for their wild card chances ... though I think they'll challenge the Yankees for the American League East title and the right to get blasted be the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

- Mark Bell asks a good question.

- I don't know if charges should be filed or not, but it's pretty apparent that the cameraman didn't throw his camera at Cynthia McKinney's bodyguard ... I mean, the video footage kinda proves that. And, not to mention, common sense ... why would the cameraman risk his job by hurling an expensive piece of the company's equipment at a trained martial arts expert?

- I like Matt Yglesias, but this argument is ridiculous. Why not temporarily ban bringing fluids onto airplanes when you have evidence suggesting terrorists may use liquid chemicals to blow up planes? It's an inconvenience, sure ... but less of one than, say, exploding in mid-flight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

False conclusions

The Republican Party is leaping at the opportunity to paint Democrats as being soft on matters of national security because of Sen. Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut Democratic primary, but this is a completely wrongheaded way to look at the results of the election and only show an ever-growing disconnect with most American voters (well, most American voters who don't live in the South).

For this singular election to be 'proof' than it would have to be that an increasingly unpopular and terribly mismanaged war and occupation - with the crux of the violence that is currently ongoing being that of secretarian conflicts between Iraqis, suggesting a move toward civil war - is essential to protecting our nation.

That simply isn't the case.

One can make a coherent argument that the issues in Lebanon and North Korea and Iran and Afghanistan are vital to American security, and if that's the case than the Republican leadership has a lot to answer for. However, Iraqi Shiites killing Iraqi Sunnis and vice versa, is more of a regional conflict than anything else.

Even if you do take just the Iraq example, the only logical conclusion the average voter can make is to determine 'well, they say Democrats are weak on security, but Lord knows Republicans aren't doing a bang-up job either.'

Now, I don't want the U.S. to immediately withdraw from Iraq, but it's not because I think the situation is absolutely imperative to American security or because it would mean that Democrats would be wrongly perceived as being 'weak.' Rather I think we should stay because, quite frankly, we went into that country, destroyed its infrastructure and replaced its government.

I subscribe to the Colin Powell-theory of military engagement - we broke it, we bought it. Granted, we're not doing the best job in our ownership, but that doesn't mean we should just pick up, leave and let the country descend into further chaos.

We owe to the Iraqi people to at least try and put their nation back together. If it's in their best interests that we leave, than I hope that will become apparent.

Couple of things

- Understandably, Bill Overend is seeking a recount after losing to C.R. Chisholm by just 33 votes in Tuesday's runoff election for Athens-Clarke County Solicitor General. What's odd to me is the contrasting images of the candidates painted in the story ...

Overend - the former downtown bar owner with a scruffy goatee and a dry sense of humor ...

Chisholm - boyish at 32, quiet and so polite he'll call a younger man "sir" ...

So ... if you voted for Overend you voted for a hooligan who used to peddle booze and likes to crack off-color jokes, but if you voted for Chisholm you voted for the nicest young man in the whole neighborhood. Nothing against the latter who is probably a swell fella, but if this had come out before the runoff, I'd be a little concerned about some unfair representations.

And, to make matters worse ... the Athens Banner-Herald then runs this story which fails to mention the recount and marches on ahead with the Chisholm administration.

- People, it's been six years ... let's call a moratorium on Bush v. Gore letters to the editor. Though this particular one gets bonus points because, in one fell swoop, it features the over-the-top claim of 'socialist and communist' voters in New York and California, makes the obligatory liberal media reference ('very liberal media' actually) and completely rewrites the actual voting results of the 2000 election. Awesome.

- If you're flying today, please be patient. Remember, it's better to wait in line a bit longer than, you know, blow up in mid-flight.

- Matt and I lost an epic matchup to Ohio State last night. After rallying Athens Tech from a 14-point deficit with just under three minutes to play - tying it on a quick slant strike with just under 50 seconds to play - Troy Smith shakes off a tackle from Tim Kelly, throws downfield from off his back foot and has Ted Ginn haul it in with one hand. The Buckeyes kicked a field goal with two seconds left to win 31-28. Got to say ... we were both legitimately down after the defeat.

- Hillary's installment of Grub Notes focuses on Mama's Boy and Medieval Times ... and includes this suggestion:

You may be thinking, “Well, I could go buy a whole rotisserie chicken at Kroger for $4 and eat it in the half-light with my hands,” and it’s true. You could do that. You might even be able to snag a paper crown from Burger King to wear while you do it and get your spouse or friend to call you “my lord,” but what would be the fun in that?

- And, speaking of Team Brown, I can't believe I haven't plugged their podcasts yet. Vulgar? Of course. Weird? Definitely. Entertaining? Very much so.

- For your music fix ... how about some Waylon Jennings, introduced by Johnny Cash? Works for me ...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Couple of things

- Wow. Thirty-three votes. Gotta hate that. I don't know about you, but if I'm Bill Overend, I give it a go for a recount ... just to make sure. It isn't like we're talking about 330 votes here, but rather 33 in a local election.

- Also in Election Day (Part Deux) news ... Cynthia McKinney got slammed by Hank Johnson in a runoff - which I think is good, Hillary thinks it's bad- and it doesn't appear to be crossover voting which doomed her, Gary Black crushed local boy done kinda good Brian Kemp in the runoff for Agriculture Commissioner ... ultimately earning Black to right to get blasted by Tommy Irvin in the general election and Joe Lieberman loses his primary challenge to Ned Lamont, immediately vowing to say 'screw you voters of COnnecticut ... I'm gonna do this thing independent-style.'

- As an aside ... where the heck is there an actual story for the Brian Kemp/Gary Black runoff? Black won by more than 20 percent ... this thing couldn't have gone down to the wire.

- Finally, Evanescence has its first song in years on the air.

- Shameless plug ... big plans afoot with The Realist. Made my first contributions yesterday afternoon at the new name, same site of The Cover Two.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Couple of things

- Let me tell you how Kyle at Dawg Sports is responsible for me burning my finger. Yesterday, while going over his analysis of Georgia's upcoming contest with Ole Miss ... something caught my eye. In his brilliant section on what to eat at the tailgates, Kyle suggested country fried steak. Being hungry and with a grocery store trip due ahead of me, I figured that was an excellent choice for a meal. I decided there would be no frozen pizza for The Wife and I, but rather an old-fashioned Southern meal. However, in the process of removing the final batch from the absurdly hot oil, a steady stream of it tricked down the tongs and onto my right pointer finger ... thus scalding it and immediately creating an inch long blister from the nail to the knuckle. I knew it would be a problem when I couldn't function as a human being without having it on ice ... so now I'm waiting for my doctor's office to open so I can get it checked out and steadily pecking away with my left hand.

So thanks Kyle ... it was a good meal, but at what cost?

- Speaking of this, The Realist and I are going into business together ... except we have no expectations of making any money. He and I are going to join forces to produce a sports blog which focus on Georgia athletics and high school sports. We got together for a bit yesterday and hashed out some ideas.

- And then ... this is fairly depressing, but sadly expected.

- That storm was pretty bad ... it knocked over a tree in our yard and pulled an entire latana plant out of the ground.

- I'm sure Matt shares the pride of Donald Harris.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Couple of things

- I don't necessarily agree with the fraternity vote held by the Athens-Clarke County Commission (though, technically, it is a special use), but I think JT and the Athens Banner-Herald editorial staff is dead-on in firing back at the University. This whole thing happened because administrators decided to push off some fraternities off campus for no other real reason than to take their land for more office space. As a result, this directly impacting the community, including parts of Athens-Clarke County which had previously not been impacted by these issues ... so the community responded to the actions of the University. While, again, I'm not 100 percent on board with the decisions made on Tuesday by the commission, I can't exactly fault them for doing something.

- Uhhhh ... wasn't it also the generation that brought civil rights to the country, expanded health care and presided over the emergence of the modern American economy? So ... save the world from Nazism and do all of that, and you still wanna pick?

- It's kinda cute. Georgia Tech thinks it can win the ACC title ... apparently forgetting they have to play at Virginia Tech and Clemson, as well as a game against Miami.

- Speaking of football, I picked up The Sporting News annual high school football preview issue ... complete with Jimmy Clausen on the cover. Not only does it - as most high school/recruiting publications do - tout Clausen as the greatest prep quarterback prospect since John Elway (I believe I read that about Matthew Stafford last year ... and Eli Manning a few years back ... Tim Couch anyone?), but it apparently forgets the depth of quarterback Notre Dame has right now. If I had to pick today, I'm going to go on a limb and say Zach Frasier, who signed last year, is the quarterback of the future for the Irish ... I mean, after all, this is a Clausen we're talking about.

If he's anything like his brothers, he'll go 1-7 against Georgia.

- And, speaking of sports again, I'm considering putting up an all-sports blog (again). The last one didn't work out for a variety of reasons, but I think my newer idea would be considerably more manageable. Would focus on college and high school athletics, particularly football ... the latter sport being something I miss being around very much.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No bias, just struggles

Kyle at Dawg Sports has been arguing, quite convincingly I might add, for the past few days that there is no 'East Coast Bias' against teams from the Pac-10. In one of his most recent posts, he offers some concessions and suggest the Pac-10 has improved its overall quality as a conference in the past seasons with the evidence being (aside from Southern California's freakish dominance the past few years)
that Pac-10 schools have begun to pick up some key wins over non-conference foes.

I argued this line of reasoning was a tad misleading, and I still think so.

Arizona State, for instance, was a bowl team last year, and the Sun Devils posted non-conference victories over Temple (63-16) and Northwestern (52-21), though those wins came over schools who went 0-11 and 7-5 respectively. Arizona State lost to a LSU team early in the season, as well as to Rutgers 45-40 in the Insight Bowl.

To be sure, the Sun Devils did beat Iowa in 2004, as well as Purdue in the Sun Bowl that same season. However, Arizona State was handily defeated in key non-conference matchups with Hawkeyes in 2003 and with Nebraska in 2002.

Oregon went 3-0 in the regular season in non-conference play in 2005, though its most impressive win was over Fresno State. The Ducks, however, lost to an Oklahoma team suffering through a down season in the Holiday Bowl. In 2004, they opened the regular season 0-2 with losses to Indiana and Oklahoma.

Again, in the name of fairness, Oregon had its most impressive showing in 2003 where they defeated a No. 3 Michigan team.

UCLA breaks the trend last year with wins over Oklahoma - though, again, the Sooners were down last year and lacking Adrian Peterson for the matchup with the Bruins - and Northwestern in the Sun Bowl. UCLA has posted an impressive 15-6 record against non-conference foes the past five years with key wins over No. 25 Alabama and No. 21 Ohio State in 2001, but disappointing losses to No. 24 Colorado and No. 1 Oklahoma in 2003.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Getting on the schedule

Paul has officially beaten me to the punch of examining strength of schedules for 2006, but that doesn't mean I can't take a gander as well. Particularly since he and I have some disagreements about what makes for a strong schedule.

Using Phil Steele's massive College Football Preview 2006 as an informal guide, let's see if we can't find out who's got it rough, and who's got it easy.

Steele's Top 10 toughest schedules are ...

1. Southern California
2. Stanford
3. Washington
5. Oregon
6. Washington State
7. Notre Dame
8. Iowa State
9. Tennessee
10. California

OK ... what's the first problem you see here? Could it be that 70 percent of the Pac-10 is listed? That if you look at his Top 20, all of the Pac-10 teams get the 'toughest schedule' nod (Arizona at No. 11, Oregon State at No. 12, Arizona State at No. 20).

First off, using Steele's own logic this is deeply flawed. He lists the Pac-10 as the fifth strongest conference in Division I-A for 2006, with the SEC atop the pack and the Big 12 at No. 2. The full-time analyst, sometime Tennessee homer, claims that an elaborate formula he specially created churns out this strength of schedule rating.

What can only make sense is that somehow he gives added weight to non-conference games over conference games, as, by his own admission, the fifth-best conference shouldn't generate the best schedule strength. I have my own issues with the validity of judging non-conference opponents differently than conference ones, particularly combined with saying that the Pac-10's conference slate plus its non-conference one is on par with, say, the SEC's or Big Ten's.

As I've argued before, it's a non-starter to suggest that playing weaker non-conference opponents is detrimental to your national title hopes. In my mind, playing an SEC slate of Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee (for example) is on par, if not better than, playing a Pac-10 slate of Southern California, Oregon, Arizona State and then a non-conference foe like Notre Dame.

This is even more puzzling using Steele's logic as he has five Pac-10 teams in his preseason Top 40 (No. 4 Southern California, No. 16 California, No. 25 Oregon, No. 27 Arizona State, No. 34 Arizona), but features seven SEC teams in the same listing, including a conference-best six in the Top 25 (No. 2 Auburn, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 14 Georgia, No. 20 Florida, No. 21 LSU, No. 36 Alabama).

If we examine, say the schedules of Oregon State (No. 12) and Ole Miss (No. 31), I'd argue the slate the Rebels have to work through is considerably more difficult than that of the Beavers.

Oregon State's non-conference opponents are Eastern Washington, Boise State, Idaho and Hawaii. The Beavers get Southern California, California and Arizona at home ... not that the latter three are actually winnable for them.

Ole Miss's non-conference opponents are Memphis, Missouri, Wake Forest and Northwestern State. Save the latter, Ole Miss's non-conference foes appear to be stronger or, if nothing else, are from the major conferences. As for their SEC opponents in 2006, the Rebels face Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn and LSU - four of those being bowl teams in 2005 with one (Arkansas) likely to be one this season.

What hinders Ole Miss, in the eyes of Steele, is the inclusion of Division I-AA Northwestern State on the schedule, which is terribly unfortunate and very misleading. Ole Miss faces more quality teams on a week-in and week-out basis than Oregon State does, yet the Beavers rank almost 20 slots higher in strength of schedule?

So let's take a look at some of those Top 10 teams ...

Right off the bat, I'll concede that Southern California should be atop the heap. The Trojans open at Arkansas, who stands to be the most improved team in college football this season, then host Nebraska before traveling to take on an Arizona team which should be much improved. And there's always the annual showdown with Notre Dame, though this one is at least at home, though it comes on the heels of showdowns with Oregon and California.

Stanford at No. 2, however, is ridiculous. The Cardinal have a tough road game at Notre Dame on Oct. 7, but face San Jose State and Navy for their other two nonconference games. Likewise, No. 3 Washington has a road contest with Oklahoma on Sept. 9, but home games with San Jose State and Fresno State. The same is for UCLA, who goes to Notre Dame on Oct. 21, but hosts Utah and Rice to open the year.

Iowa State is a head-scratcher for me as well. The Big 12 is a fairly weak conference, and the Cyclones face Toledo, UNLV, Iowa and Northern Iowa for their non-conference foes. Road trips to both Texas and Oklahoma are daunting, but those, coupled with a home contest against Nebraska, are the only credible games on the schedule.

I have some similar questions for Paul, in awarding his medals and cupcakes. For instance, he applauds the schedule of Air Force as a difficult one, but there are few daunting contests outside of a Sept. 9 visit to Tennessee and the hosting of Notre Dame on Nov. 11. He cites the Falcons' contests against Army and Navy - two difficult games to be sure - as proof of their schedule strength, but neither team is a legitimate contender on the national scene.

Likewise, I think both Paul and Steele don't give Vanderbilt enough credit - though the former does actually award the Commodores a medal, albeit a small one ... so props for that - for its schedule, which features road trips to Michigan and Alabama to open the year before returning home to square off against Arkansas. Vanderbilt then goes to Georgia on Oct. 14 and hosts Florida and Tennessee to close the season out. That's six viable bowl teams, not counting South Carolina which could go either way in year two of the Spurrier Era.

If I had to pick who we were going to say had the toughest schedules, in no particular order, I'd opt for ...

- Southern California - The Trojans face quality teams in all three of their non-conference games, though they get Oregon and California at home.

- Notre Dame - Last year's was weaker than usual for the Irish, but an opening stretch of Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State is rough. It settles down in the middle of the year, but Notre Dame will have to take on Southern California in Los Angeles to end the regular season.

- Tennessee - The Volunteers open with one of what I consider the three quality Pac-10 programs in California, host Marshall and then get Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas on the road. Home contests against Florida and LSU won't be a walk in the park either.

- Vanderbilt - Yes indeed. The Commodores run through the rugged SEC East slate, as well as games against Alabama and Arkansas and open the season in Ann Arbor versus Michigan.

- Miami - Paul won't necessarily agree, but the Hurricanes open with Florida State, travel to Louisville three weeks later and then close the season out with games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Boston College.

- Georgia Tech - I'm no fan, but it's going to be a bit rough this year for the Yellow Jackets who open with Notre Dame, travel to Virginia Tech and Clemson, host Miami and finish the year in Athens against Georgia.

- Ohio State - The Buckeyes kick off the year with a bang, heading to Austin, Texas, for the rematch of all rematches against the Longhorns on Sept. 9. Then, they host Penn State, travel to Iowa and Michigan State before hosting Michigan to close out the year.

Honorable mentions ...

Had Mississippi State picked up Tennessee or Florida, I might have put them in the hunt. The Bulldogs face South Carolina, Auburn, LSU, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas in 2006. ... Penn State goes to Notre Dame and Ohio State, but hosts Michigan and Michigan State. ... Texas, by including Ohio State, makes my honorable mentions. The Longhorns also get Oklahoma and road trips to Nebraska and Texas Tech in back-to-back weeks. ... In a random one, Duke goes to Virginia Tech, Alabama, Boston College and Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils also host Florida State and Miami in back-to-back weeks.

Couple of things (quick, mid-day version)

- All of this talk about college football history and traditions got me longing for the start of the season. Safe to say, Matt and I played a couple of rounds of NCAA Football 2007 last night (going 2-1 with wins over Georgia Tech and Notre Dame ... in a rematch to make up for the night's lone defeat).

So, in the spirit of history, prestige and tradition, here is the Redcoat Marching Band.

- I completely understand the system of limiting your outdoor watering, but let me encourage everyone to water their plants in the morning. My yard looks horrible by the time I get home in the afternoon. Just saying.

- Paul Westerdawg does a nice job analyzing the new 'family-friendly' tailgating zones at Georgia here and here. My primary problem with it is the concept that no one will drink in these places. Most tailgates don't consist of all non-drinkers and all-drinkers. There's typically a good mix, typically these good mixes include families and typically these good mixes are responsible and not destructive.

- I'm also working on a post about strength of schedules for 2006 and hope to get that up this afternoon after work. Paul has sort of beat me to it, and he has possibly recorded the best initial comment in the history of blogging.