Monday, December 31, 2007

People of the Year

Favorite People Of The Year

1. Emma Kate

OK, fine, sue me. It's my blog, and it's my kid. Plus, fatherhood has been the biggest and best thing to happen to me, well, ever. And the fact that I've got not only the most beautiful baby in the world, but the overall best one on the planet makes this an easy pick.

2. Sen. Barack Obama

Again, not a shocking development here as I've been on the Obama bandwagon for quite a while now. But this year, particularly the latter three months of 2007, have proven to be a time where he's found his own. Obama has surged in the polls, removing the inevitable status from Hillary Clinton and made the Democratic nomination a three-way dead heat between the two of them and John Edwards. We're only a few days away from the Iowa caucuses, so we'll see how he closes.

3. Georgia head football coach Mark Richt

Now, I've been an ardent defender of Mark Richt throughout his seven years at the helm of the Bulldogs, but this year presented us with a new version of the lovable coach ... one known as 'Evil Richt.' This new persona, one which encouraged his team to pick up an excessive celebration penalty against Florida, called for black jerseys against Auburn and then actively lobbied for his team over other teams to play for the national title was a welcome sight.

4. Jon and Kate

Lord help us, but The Wife and I love Jon And Kate Plus 8. Seriously, we're legitimately excited about next week's season premiere, and I've spent half the day bouncing back and forth between football and this. If you want a glimpse into the personalities of The Wife and I, watch the two of them interact with each other. Aside from the fact that we have one child compared to their eight, it's one of the reasons I've argued our life would make a fascinating reality show.

Least Favorite People Of The Year

1. Mitt Romney

Is there a more a shameless politician than Romney? Save all your talk about Hillary Clinton triangulating or John Kerry flip-flopping or Tom DeLay redistricting to help out fellow Republicans back in Texas because Romney beats them all. He is the standard-bearer for saying whatever you need to say in order to be elected. Need to get elected in liberal Massachusetts? Tell folks you're to the left of Ted Kennedy. Want to run for president in the Republican primary? Start telling folks you'd ban gay marriage and want to deport anyone with a Hispanic-sounding name. It's pathetic to me that he's even polling at above 10 percent.

2. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow

OK, he's really, really good. Probably the best player in the country. But he should have never won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore (namely because the fact that it's a weak year for candidates isn't a good enough justification), and that stupid Tim Tebow game that's a play on the Chuck Norris is ridiculous. Whatever ... I wonder if they've made up one for him getting sacked six times by Georgia.

3. The guy from the Boys and Girls Club rezoning meeting

I don't know the guy's name, but he proceeded to throw a massive temper tantrum that isolated his own supporters. What did he do? Well, using not-so-subtle racism, he managed to disparage Fourth Street Elementary, its teachers, its parents and the students when it was becoming apparent his group wouldn't get its unfettered way. His rants, along with the flat-out lying by some other folks in that group, did nothing but damage the good-faith work being done by those who desired to sell the property.

4. Bulldog Superfan Mike Woods

This guy bugs me. Always has. I know folks who know him, and I hear he's a good enough guy, but he still bugs me. It's more than maddening that somehow he always manages to get on the front row of every game, no matter where he is, and that every network puts him on the air at least three or four times a game.

Couple of things

- As expected with a child, plus a couple of days off to relax, my projections for posting my year-end pieces got delayed. I'll put up two today, and the final one tomorrow. Seriously.

- Always a fan favorite, the crazy letters that didn't get printed. I think the guy who claimed he has the copyright on the Book of Matthew is my favorite.

- Not only does J.T. put together a very strong piece on journalism and bloggers that should get tips of the hat from all interested ... and he gave me a shout-out.

- I think this story reveals two fundamental problems ... the first being unbridled and unrestrained growth (i.e. randomly building in the absence of master plans) with the other being that the reductions in water mandated by the governor should have been adjusted to the projected water use and not the use from the previous year. Arguably a community which has grown by 50 percent is going to have a difficult time in cutting back on its usage by 10 percent when it's got more customers.

- As an aside ... I don't get New Year's Eve. I never understand why we celebrate a random midnight. Don't get me wrong - I really enjoy the cold beer/lots of football aspect of the holiday - but it definitely ranks toward the bottom of the holiday list for me.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Well, that's off-base

Well, if this isn't laughable.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a newsmaker of the year should be someone that actually generates news. You know, someone that makes you say 'wow' or something.

No offense meant toward John Isner, but he didn't exactly set the world on fire.

I mean, there's being different to make a point ... and then there's being different just for the sake of it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good to know the boss

So, the vast majority of the funding from Gov. Sonny Perdue's 'Go Fish' venture will go to ... his home county of Houston County.

There will be $30 million in public and private funds put aside for the tourism fishing program Perdue has been touting, and $22 million of the money will go to Perry, which is just down the road from his hometown of Bonaire. Aside from the fact that there is a terribly large body of water smack in the middle of the state, the whole thing reeks of the 'Good Ole Boy' system.

In more positive news, three area lakes will get funds to build 'mega-boat ramps' to help lure professional fishing tournaments.

Some national stuff

- The murder of Benazir Bhutto is clearly a tragic thing, but her recent protests and her untimely death have more than inflated her importance. Surely this is a sign that there is some instability in Pakistan, but it isn't as if Bhutto was some great hero of Western-style democracy. During her time as prime minister she stole a lot of money, and I mean a lot. In addition, she provided support to the Taliban in the 1990s and helped guide her country to down the path of nuclear armament.

- Following Bhutto's death, Hillary Clinton used that as an example of the need for a proven, experienced leader to confront our security threats (whether or not she is that is another discussion). Barack Obama responded by pointing out that al-Qaida, who Pakistan fears was behind the attack, would be facing more heat and pressure from coalition forces if someone like Clinton had opposed the war. Clinton then said 'don't politicize her death' ... despite the fact that she already had.

- Speaking of ridiculous attacks on Obama, count me as someone who has fallen out of favor with Paul Krugman. The man's become nothing more of a hack and a shill for partisanship. Why? Well, because partisanship is a big business, and Krugman has figured out how to make a decent little chunk of money by waging this political war. Someone like Obama, who says we don't have to live in a country divided by these harsh partisan lines, challenges that business. Which is why this whole storyline that Krugman has concocted that suggests Obama isn't really the candidate of change is preposterous. Obama proposes changing all of it, and that includes people like Krugman.

- On the other side of the aisle, a Rudy Giuliani representative says we should chase all the Muslims back to their caves. So ... a false report about Obama attending a madrassa is national news, but the press doesn't do a thing when a top operative in New Hampshire for one of the GOP frontrunner declares open war on the entire Muslim faith?

Top Sports Stories Of The Year

1. Developing an attitude

For the longest time, my favorite teams have been 'the nice guys' or 'the lovable losers.' Got a good team? Doesn't matter because you're playing 'the Mighty Gators' or you battling 'the Curse' ... just sit there and take it like a good little boy. Something funny happened this year, though ... the teams I liked decided not to take it anymore. They got mean. They got brash. They got cocky.

And they won.

The Red Sox managed to almost blow a 14-game lead in the American League East and then fell behind Cleveland 3-1 in the American League Championship Series. And, at that point, David Ortiz made sure everyone in Major League Baseball knew Boston was a bunch of bad mothers and the Red Sox didn't lose again, rolling to their second world title in the past four years.

Still, with an experienced payroll, success for Boston was expected. For Georgia, coming off a humiliating and uninspired loss to Tennessee, no one really expected anything. But something happened somewhere between that defeat and another disappointing first half showing the following week against Vanderbilt ... the Bulldogs realized it was time to have some fun and, as a result, all the conventional wisdom was thrown out the door. In one week, Mark Richt was shoving players off the Vanderbilt logo following Georgia's come-from-behind win in Nashville and just two weeks later, he damn near ordered his team to get an excessive celebration penalty against Florida. At that point, all bets were off. They blacked out Auburn, then called out the Tigers prior to the fourth quarter and ended the season dancing at Georgia Tech's field.

From the archives ...

Not A Bad Three Weeks (11/11/07)
Titletown (10/29/07)
A Perfect World (10/28/07)

2. The BCS drama

In the midst of Georgia's late-season surge, the stars aligned and the Bulldogs suddenly awoke on the morning of December 1 with a legitimate chance to play for the national championship. However, despite being the second-highest ranked team after the end of that fateful weekend, Georgia actually lost ground and wound up in the Sugar Bowl, not the title game or even The Rose Bowl. After watching ESPN openly campaign against Georgia's inclusion in the title game and seeing the spotty work on some of the coach's ballots, we agreed something needed to change.

From the archives ...

I Coach Football! (12/03/07)
Disappointed (12/03/07)
Worst Case Scenario Is Here (12/02/07)

3. Chucky Three Sticks surges

He's had some tough time living up to the high expectations, but everything came together for Safe As Houses fan favorite Charles Howell III earlier this year. Howell reunited with coach David Leadbetter and took control of the FedEx Cup during the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing, capping off his run with a victory in the Nissan Open over Phil Mickelson. He struggled in the middle of the season, but enjoyed a nice stretch in The President's Cup to close out the year.

From the archives ...

Howell-Watch (2/19/07)

4. To Knowshon is to Fear-shon

The best freshman running back in Georgia history not named Herschel Walker took the Bulldog Nation by storm in 2007, reeling off five consecutive 100-yard rushing games and putting together some of the most impressive runs in these parts in many years. Should be a pretty bright future.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top Stories Of The Year

1. Paul Broun wins special election for 10th Congressional District

Nothing like a hotly contested election that featured some of the most bizarre antics in recent memory to keep us busy between the 2006 mid-term elections and 2008 presidential campaign. In what was supposed by Jim Whitehead's coronation, Athens native Paul Broun, the son of former Democratic congressman Paul Broun Sr., surprised the political world by forcing himself into a run-off with Whitehead and then capitalized on a strong anti-Whitehead sentiment in Athens-Clarke County, as well as pieced together a grassroots support network for the ages throughout Northeast Georgia, and rode that to victory.

Along the way we saw an operative from one campaign beat up the truck of another, one candidate rely heavily on a pseudo-endorsement from Ronald Reagan written in the late 1980s, fundraising for one candidate start way before the previous officeholder had even passed away and, of course, the presumed frontrunner state that he wished Athens-Clarke County would be blown away.

And, in the end, we saw Broun standing alone ... because if there's one thing Athens citizens love it's small government, libertarian-type Republicans.

From the archives ...
Us. Vs. Them ... Whitehead-style (7/3/07)
Some Other Thoughts On The 10th (6/26/07)
Behind The Numbers (6/21/07)
Who To Back? (6/20/07)
Wrapping Up The 10th District (6/20/07)
It's Marlow Or Bust (6/13/07)
On The Debate (6/7/07)
If I Knew It Was This Kind Of Party (5/24/07)

2. The Drought

Well, quite literally, we're high and dry. Northeast Georgia is mired in the worst drought in roughly 100 years. We lost the ability to water our yards in mid-summer and, by the beginning of fall, we were in danger of running completely dry. Athens-Clarke County unveiled the Step F restrictions, though we haven't officially gotten to the point to put those in place yet thanks to the conservation efforts of this community (35 percent reduction compared to non-drought conditions) and a little, though not a lot, of rain toward the end of the year.

From the archives ...

So We're Here (10/26/07)
Step F Meeting (10/25/07)

3. Economic Development

It's a story here since we seem to talk about the best ways to get the community's economy, well, either on the right track or to keep it humming along. And, you good people have no shortage of ideas on what's working and what's not. Typically these discussions appear out of nowhere and spiral on for 40 comments or so.

From the archives ...

Thanks For Playing (10/08/07)
Context Is Key (10/07/07)

4. The Glenn Tax

Wow. Talk about bad ideas. Take a worthy discussion worth having (reforming the tax system), offer an outlandish idea (replacing property taxes with sales taxes on everything) and then make it unlikeable even to those who might like it (strip away local control) and then you have Glenn Richardson's tax scheme. And, even more confusing, the guy seems content on changing it as frequently as the sun rises and sets. An idea so misguided, it's united Republicans and Democrats in opposition.

From the archives ...

Yeah, But ... (9/14/07)
Well-Said (9/14/07)
Wasting Our Time (9/02/07)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Coming soon

It's the end of the year, which means it's time for us to put together some of those lists ranking our favorite things from the year past. Starting tomorrow, I'll do just that as I take a look at ...

Top Stories Of The Year
Top Sports Stories Of The Year
Favorite People Of The Year
Least Favorite People of the Year
Top Things We Should Focus On Next Year

Remember these lists are composed by me, so they come through my prism, as well as the context of this little ole blog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
- Luke 2: 1-20

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lend A Hand 2007

Each Christmas, I try to pick a couple of non-profit organizations to highlight. In the spirit of the season, I ask that you consider supporting the following organizations.

Carolina for Kibera
Established in 2001, Carolina for Kibera is an international, nongovernmental organization based in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. In the United States, CFK is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation and major affiliated entity and program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill based at the Center for Global Initiatives.

Named a TIME Magazine and Gates Foundation "Hero of Global Health," CFK fights abject poverty and helps prevent violence through community-based development in Kibera and beyond. CFK envisions a world where the poor have a voice in their futures and opportunities for healthy growth. It is rooted in the conviction that solutions to problems involving poverty are possible only if those affected by it drive development. Concerned outsiders can help by mobilizing communities, advising, networking, and providing resources. Ultimately, however, the community possesses the knowledge and motivation that are necessary to solve its own problems.

Run by Kenyans and advised by American and Kenyan volunteers, CFK's primary mission is to promote youth leadership and ethnic and gender cooperation in Kibera through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Additionally, CFK works to improve basic healthcare, sanitation, and education in Kibera. Serving as a model for holistic, community-based urban development world-wide, CFK has helped grassroots organizations develop youth-based programs in six other nations and dozens of communities in Kenya.

To make a donation, click here.

Athens Area Homeless Shelter
The Athens Area Homeless Shelter (AAHS) provides a cooperative approach to homeless individuals and fosters public awareness of homelessness in the community. AAHS's Almost Home Transitional Program provides long-term residential support for single women and families with children who are homeless and who wish to make life changes to regain self-sufficiency and independence. AAHS's Job TREC program (Training, Referral and Education Center) provides case management and support to all homeless persons in Clarke County by offering personalized job training and placement services.

The Athens Area Homeless Shelter is a united and compassionate response to homelessness in the Northeast Georgia region. Its purpose is to educate the community that homelessness is the result of complex social, economic and personal factors and advocate for the homeless population and pledge to work cooperatively with the community to eliminate homelessness.

To make a donation, click here.

Athens Justice Project
Athens Justice Project (AJP) assists low income individuals with pending criminal charges in achieving a fair legal outcome and in becoming productive, law-abiding community members.

A large number of individuals involved with the criminal justice system suffer from the diseases of addiction and mental illness. They are often without financial resources, job skills, housing, education, and needed treatment; thus, they cannot deal effectively with personal, family, and job challenges. Many of these same individuals, though, sincerely desire to change their lives and they must receive strong support networks and effective strategies in order to effect change.

For those who demonstrate their commitment to overcoming such obstacles, AJP builds upon the unique lawyer-client relationship and provides legal representation, counseling and comprehensive social services and support. AJP offers hope and support to clients, helping them to understand that they can live differently if they are willing to do their part.

AJP's staff, including the attorney, the counselor and UGA interns, help clients to examine their lives, identify problems leading to crime, and devise strategies for productive personal growth and self-sustaining work so that, ideally, the clients do not re-offend. AJP works closely with social service agencies and mental health and addiction treatment providers to meet client needs and helps to identify and to provide other resources and support networks for empowerment and productivity. Ultimately, AJP helps individuals to become gainfully employed, safely housed, medically stable and otherwise-contributing citizens.

To make a donation, click here.

Heifer International
Heifer has learned over the years that a holistic approach is necessary in order to build sustainable communities. It has developed a set of global initiatives – areas of emphasis that must be addressed in order to meet the mission of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.

It includes agroecology, microenterprise efforts and focusing on urban agriculture.

To make a donation, click here.

IHN of Athens
A coalition of more than 15 Athens-area congregations that have mobilized to assist homeless families in crisis situations. Since opening its doors in October 2004, IHN of Athens has helped more than 60 families find sustainable independence.

To make a donation, click here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

On citizen journalism

OK, I had been content to avoid this discussion altogether, but I figure why the hell not since Grift's calling out Athens bloggers.

It all started with David Hazinski's column on bloggers and 'citizen journalism', something which riled Grift and Buzz Brockway. To this, Adrian responds, as does Blake.

Now, speaking as someone who was once a 'professional journalist' and is also an independent blogger, I'd like to think that I'm able to offer a unique perspective to this discussion, but then again, perhaps I'll just do like I normally do and merely ramble.

Regardless, here's my take on the overall thing ... on the whole, bloggers aren't journalists. This isn't a new position on my part, and most folks are aware of it. While Hazinski arguably goes overboard, I do share some of the most basic concerns he has. There isn't a real sense of accountability for bloggers. If I wanted to, I could just write anything I darn well pleased and let it stand as fact, when in fact I could be doing nothing but repeating rumors and parroting falsehoods.

There is no team of editors working with the blogger to determine what stories to pursue, what questions to answer, what is relevant and, most importantly, to verify sources and stories.

And I think most of the top political bloggers typically do work hard to verify their sources and confirm their leads. Judging by their traffic numbers, and by the number of mainstream media articles that follow up on their commentary, they've built a reputation that is most credible.

However, I still stand by my most central belief that the mainstream media, with its collection of resources and trained personnel, is the premier way for the collection of news. What the bloggers do is work to offer a deeper examination of those stories, probe for ones that aren't being reported and offer much-needed commentary on the issues of the day.

Do bloggers report news? Absolutely. As Grift noted at his place, he attended a recent debate of Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate and offered a write-up of the proceedings. However, and I say this with a ton of respect for Grift, that doesn't necessarily mean he is a journalist (and, in his defense, he would be the first one to say that).

The larger point is that the information was gathered by one individual and put out to the public through his prism. While journalism isn't perfect by any means, it comes from one writer and goes through several edits (at the ABH, it typically would go through three editors before reaching the copy desk, at which point it was exposed to up to three additional editors). This series of eyes mean a number of questions are asked, typically coming from different perspectives, in, again, an imperfect attempt to make the article as free from bias and as accurate as possible.

A lack of additional editors, and their subsequent opinions, means the work lacks that basic series of checks for accuracy and bias. It's while I really enjoy reading, say, Talking Points Memo, I'm only going to take its points so far without going to the original source (typically an article from a mainstream media outlet) to get additional information.

Again, the larger problem with Hazinski's column is that he calls for some sort of oversight body for 'citizen journalism' and while I abhor that term as much as the next guy, it's silly to suggest that the average blogger should face some strict serious of regulations or oversight (if that's even possible). But I do share the issue with citizen journalism, namely because merely holding a camcorder or writing a few sentences of your thoughts on the issues of the day don't make you a journalist.

They make you passionate. They make you informed. They make you a commentator.

But they don't necessarily make you a journalist.

As an aside, Hazinski has always bugged me.

More polls

Two new polls show Barack Obama as the most electable Democrat (in the sense that he shows stronger numbers against the presumed Republican candidates). Both Zogby and NBC have Obama posting better showings than either Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

This isn't right

There seem to be a couple of issues with this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which reports that the shutdown of two hydroelectric plants in Newton County and Athens-Clarke County are responsible for a little less than half of the 10 percent reduction mandated by the governor.

The first concern I have, obviously, is the plant they state to be in Athens-Clarke County - the Tallassee Shoals Hydroelectric Project operated by Fall Line Hydro Company - actually straddles the Clarke-Jackson border. And the folks I have spoken with tell me the plant's primary facility is located in Jackson County, meaning its usage numbers are logged with that county.

According to the drought management plan, our community's goal to comply with the governor's request was to have an overall reduction of roughly 6.5 million gallons per day from non-drought usage, thus consuming 13.5 million gallons a day. On Oct. 22, 2007, we reached a reduction level of 28 percent (roughly 5.5 million gallons per day conserved).

Since then, we have reached the governor's request (which was achieve a total 35 percent reduction from non-drought conditions), which was only a reduction of an additional seven percent or 1 million gallons per day.

The article states that those plants used 218 million gallons per day, meaning if we took half of that number we'd have conservation levels that are almost unattainable ... and would require little, if any, work on our part. Obviously, that wasn't the case.

Secondly, it's incredibly foolish to lump everyone into this category. While I can concede the reduction levels were probably aided by these plants not being in operation during November, it's misleading to suggest they wouldn't have taken on some of their own conservation measures. Plus, when you look at the work done by this county, as well as others, it's flat-out wrong to poormouth the conservation efforts done by the communities that are working hard to save water.

And, the article acts as if North Georgia as a whole was requested by conserve 10 percent on the whole, which isn't true. The governor's request was for each individual community in the region to reduce by 10 percent, and a 10 percent reduction in one place may not be a 10 percent reduction in another. Furthermore, reporting it as a regional reduction rather than individual communities working to conserve does a disservice to those which have reached the reduction level.

In fact, the AJC even acknowledges this in its original article ...

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch, who advised the governor on his decision, said utilities may go directly to big water users to reduce consumption, but the decision is theirs.

"This gives them the flexibility to adapt and make the choices of how to carry out a 10 percent reduction," Couch said.

So if it wasn't a required regional reduction, why pen a story that acts as if is and only serves as a 'gotcha' piece?

Music for the moment (Christmas edition)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Was it really hidden?

Over at Peach Pundit, Rep. Earl Erhart has 'found' another 'hidden tax' in the franchise fee, and he's calling for immediate action. I'm not exactly following him on it though ...

The franchise fee is compensation from the utility companies for usage of city streets and roads, as well as existing lines and pipes, for carriage of their services (electricity, telephone, etc.). This fee, typically, is four percent of the total utility usage by the customers within the city limits. For a good many years, the Georgia Public Service Commission enabled the utility companies to recoup this money by including within its monthly bills. This ultimately means, as Erhart points out, that customers both inside and outside city limits pay these fees.

A few years back, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia took issue with this and petitioned the PSC to revise the policy, related particularly to Georgia Power. What resulted was a smart compromise that requires a three-year phasing in of a new policy beginning in 2007 (in which nothing changed at all). Next year, Georgia Power must collect one percent of its franchise fee from city customers only, with the balance collected by everyone. In 2009, they must collect two percent from the city customers, with the rest of the tab picked up by everyone.

The ACCG estimates the average city customer will pay 77 cents more a month in 2009, while the non-city customer will save 93 cents a month.

The ruling from the PSC also added the transparency Erhart is clamoring for by adding any franchise fees onto one's bill as a line item for the first time, meaning customers now will know what they are paying and have more of a voice in how those monies are used.

Also, based on the fact that several companies like BellSouth have already moved to collect franchise fees from city customers only, while the cable companies have never sought additional fees from non-city customers, I don't see what he's all in arms about.

If anything, in the grand scheme of things, the issue should be that while there is a legitimate rationale for requiring compensation from the companies for the usage of the existing lines, focusing the criticism on 'taxing citizens' seems to be misguided. Erhart should directed his outrage toward the utility companies passing their fee to use our lines back onto us.

Some history

In the news of the interesting, loyal reader Bob Hay sent me something he received during a daily email that includes some background on the phrase 'safe as houses.'

Q. I am curious about the saying "safe as houses", which is more common in England than here in the States. What is it about houses that makes them so safe, compared with anything else? [Heather Upton, Los Angeles]

A. It's not immediately obvious, I agree. And in the history of similes about security, "safe as houses" is a relative late-comer.

You might at various times have been as safe as a bug in a rug (an alternative to the much older and better known "snug as a bug in a rug"), as a sow (or a crow) in a gutter, a mouse in a malt-heap (or in a mill or a cheese), as safe as a church, or a bank, or a fort, or a bunker, or simply as anything. Several of them suggest comfort or freedom from disturbance as much as physical safety.

Other expressions of similar kind imply certainty - a sure thing or a safe bet. "As safe as eggs", for example, which is a variant on "as sure as eggs is eggs", which makes sense of a puzzling phrase, as eggs are notoriously unrobust. Likewise "safe as the bellows", a strange expression of the 1850s, which appears in Henry Mayhew's London Life and the London Poor (1851): "If you was caught up and brought afore the Lord Mayor, he'd give you fourteen days on it, as safe as the bellows".

The reason for all these puzzling forms is that at one time "safe"

could mean "certainly; for sure; assuredly", especially in dialect and colloquial English. Francis Grose wrote in 1790, "He is safe enough for being hanged" as an example of Cumberland dialect, which meant that the person was certain to be hanged. Among other cases, The English Dialect Dictionary a century later includes "it is safe to thunder", Lincolnshire dialect meaning it was sure to do so.

As a result, "safe as houses" has often meant something that was certain to happen. In 1894, Mrs Arthur Stannard, writing as J S Winter, used it in her novel Red Coats, "You know the Colonel is as safe as houses to come round after church parade." In The Penang Pirate by John Conroy Hutcheson (1886) appears this: "If you was to strike one with a rope's end - if only in lark, mind you, to make him move quicker - why, you'd be a dead man 'fore morning, safe as houses!" In Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy of 1874 this dialogue appears: "'He must come without fail, and wear his best clothes.' 'The clothes will floor us as safe as houses!' said Coggan."

There's clearly more going on than at first sight we might think.

After all this time, we can't penetrate the minds of the inventors of the expression. But it's unwise to draw parallels with related expressions. "As safe as a church" and "as safe as a bank" suggest the security of a physical structure. But the reference is probably figurative in both cases - to God's protection and to financial security.

John Hotten argued in his Slang Dictionary of 1859 that "safe as houses" may have arisen when the intense speculation on railways in Britain - the railway mania - began to be seen for the highly risky endeavour that it really was and when bricks and mortar became more financially attractive. But that ignores the figurative nature of the phrase, which, even so early after its coining, must have had little in users' minds to do with any actual building.

Couple of things

- Just a little bit more on this landfill thing, since I've been accused of calling our current commissioners 'bad guys' ... which is a fairly laughable assertion I think. My larger point is that I am quite uncomfortable with the notion of breaking a promise made to the group of citizens who live near the landfill, regardless of whether or not the previous commission had the authority to do so or whether or not such promises are legally binding (which, according to Georgia law, they are not). I know we need landfill space. I know it's a pressing issue that must be addressed sooner than later. But I also know that, regardless of who's sitting behind the rail, this community and the community in Oglethorpe County told these folks we wouldn't ever expand that landfill. Perhaps that was something those former commissioners shouldn't have done, but the fact remains they did.

- This is cute isn't it? I mean, an offense straight out of 1974 being powered by a team which hasn't beaten Georgia since 2001 ... I'm definitely shaking.

- In a toast to someone across the aisle, let me tip my hat to the outgoing president of the University of Georgia's College Republicans David Ballard. He's been a regular reader, sometimes commenter and has emailed me plenty of tips and heads-ups over the past year. We don't agree on, well, much, but he's good people, so let's wish him well.

- Blake talks about Carl Jordan's disagreements with some folks at a recent Athens-Clarke County Commission meeting, but it doesn't really bother me all that much. I mean, isn't that what Jordan does? He needles folks, asks a lot of questions (which, honestly, isn't a terrible thing ... just time-consuming and frustrating at times) and has his heart in the right place more often than not. My only quibble would be his objection to David Lynn's request for a stop sign on Meigs Street.

- Speaking of Athens Banner-Herald blogs, I don't necessarily agree with this recent installment from Jason. Not that random and senseless violence doesn't alarm me, but rather that it's merely taking two instances and attempting to paint us as Eight Mile in Detroit. I enjoyed his column somewhat more since it addressed the systematic problems we face not just as a community, but as a society, on how to deal with folks who have mental disorders that make them, at times, dangerous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Obama news blitz

Well, he's been surging in the polls as of late.

Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in Iowa, has rallied to take a lead in New Hampshire and has tied her in South Carolina ... and now he's showing stronger numbers than Clinton in hypothetical head-to-head contests with the GOP candidates.

With good news, rising prospects and a slight status as the new frontrunner, one can expect to face stepped-up criticism and attacks. And look no further than the Clinton campaign, headlined by her husband, to start firing away.

Former president Bill Clinton proceeded to unleash hell on Obama in a puzzling interview on The Charlie Rose Show. It was a curious - and obviously emotional - defense of his wife that, on the heels of the ridiculous drug comments from her campaign, has done little to actually bolster her argument to be president.

Examining her husband's argument, for his justifications to work he'd have to acknowledge that he wasn't qualified to run for president in 1992 and somehow magically transform his wife's experience from, well, his wife into that of actual executive or legislative leadership (it's worth noting that Obama, through his time in the state senate in Illinois and the U.S. Senate, actually has more years of service as an elected official than Clinton, but why quibble).

Then, in a truly weird plea for support, the former president said his wife is the ideal candidate because President George H.W. Bush would join their team in mending fences across the world ... something which boggles the mind in a Democratic primary since it's an appeal for votes via closeness with the Bush Family while serving as crazy on another level since it would require Bush I to literally say that his son had been a lousy leader of the free world (Bush I ultimately shot the idea down).

On top of all of this nonsense, Paul Krugman acts like a contrarian solely for the sake of acting like one. Now Krugman, who I like way more than not, says that Obama isn't the 'change' candidate - in fact, he argues he's actually the 'anti-change' candidate - because the latter has the audacity to actually want to interact with the existing players in the health care industry with regard to developing a health care plan. While I think this is actually the more sensible approach, particularly since the last time they were left out in the loop was in 1993 and their response was to parrot ridiculous falsehoods about a health care proposal from a Democratic administration, it's also worth noting that the less sensible approach toward addressing health care in this country is mandating coverage, as both Clinton and John Edwards ask for.

Again, just passing a law requiring that one buys health care does absolutely nothing to either ensure coverage or reduce costs. To accomplish the former you need to work with the existing players, while addressing the latter requires an effective balance of public- and private-sector efforts ... but I digress.

My larger point is that despite all of these negative attacks, Obama is still holding strong in the polls, winning over voters and proving naysayers wrong (as an aside, Jerome Armstrong advised Mark Warner ... listen, I like Warner, but it's ridiculous for a Warner guy to criticize someone who wants to bring folks, particularly big businesses, to the table). I'm an unabashed Obama man, so I'll concede that I'm quite biased in this discussion.

But it's interesting to observe that despite all of this talk about Obama not being 'battle-tested' or 'tough enough for the campaign' is kinda foolish seeing how he's staring down arguably the most vaunted political machine in our country ... and winning.

Couple of things

So much has happened ...

- Again, many thanks for the well wishes for the kid's health. She's doing much better and is back to her old self, which means lots of laughing, drooling and trying to put things in her mouth. And a hearty thank you to the staff at St. Mary's. This is the third time we've been there this year, and each time we've been met with a most professional and compassionate staff.

- This editorial does a good job in wrestling with the landfill issue, which is a rather difficult issue to process. We need the space, but I also feel a strong sense of obligation - regardless of the legality of such a move - to honor the 1992 agreement. While we do need to address this pressing issue, I have a hard time in supporting a notion that would, in essence, being going back on our word with these citizens.

- Kudos to Brian for keeping the blog train going, and I hope y'all try to visit his place fairly regularly. This post on transportation ideas is quite good, particularly his call for regional cooperation along our corridors (citing the development on Epps Bridge Road as one primary example).

- Longtime Speaker of the House Tom Murphy passed away yesterday after a long illness. Murphy, at the time of his electoral defeat just a few years back, was the longest-serving legislative speaker in the nation, and is arguably one of the giants of Georgia politics. I absolutely abhorred his meddling with the Georgia High School Association, but I am quite proud of the rest of his record. Let's keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.

- We've already got four Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, and now the rumor mill is tossing another name into the list in Jim Martin. Martin would be a very, very strong candidate, for sure, but I'm still leaning toward Josh Lanier right now (namely because he's the closest thing we have to Sam Nunn swooping in to run). Should Martin actually decide to get into this thing, I'll have to reconsider because I was a big supporter of his in 2006.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Programing udpate (part three)

The kid has bounced back quite well. We were able to leave the hospital on Saturday morning as she appeared to turn the corner on Friday afternoon. She's got a pretty awful sounding cough, which is to be expected, but her personality has returned and it's obvious she feels much, much better.

Thanks for all the well wishes. Hopefully I can resume to a more regular blogging schedule sooner rather than later.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Programming update (part two)

More light, if at all, blogging. We had to admit Emma Kate to the hospital for RSV, which is a pretty common little chest cold in babies, but a pretty rough one. All you do is ride it out and treat the symptoms, and our doctor made the very wise decision to let her do just that in a croup tent with oxygen flowing in to it.

The kid's doing good, and so are we. It's not a serious condition with the proper treatment, which she is getting, so hopefully we can get to go home by weekend's end.

Thanks for all the kind words, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Programming update

Hello all ... just a quick update. The kid's been mighty sick with bronchiolitis, which is about as bad as it sounds. Pretty much it's a bad cold that's exacerbated by the fact that she's tiny.

She's hanging in there, even being a trooper through a late visit to the emergency room last night for a few heavy duty breathing treatments. Hopefully, we're on the way upward now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Music for the moment

Baby blogging

OK, some random photos of the kid from the past couple of weeks. Excuse the proud papa factor.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I noticed this little exchange a few nights back, but had neglected to comment on it and, as a result, Blake beat me to punch ... and, yes, Kathy Hoard was more than a little sassy. In fact, I'd say she was a little unreasonable ...

Carl Jordan has little sympathy, and again proposes auctioning off the scarce spaces, prompting the first rebuke of the evening from a particularly sassy Kathy Hoard, who told him to butt out.

"If you do not live here or represent this area or have attended public hearings to hear the concerns ... perhaps you don’t know what the issues are," she said. "This does not affect Kingswood Drive."

For starters, it's kinda poor form to go that personal, but whatever. Why shouldn't Jordan, or any other commissioner/resident, be able to offer up their thoughts on the issue at hand or suggest alternative ideas to address the concerns? Even if Jordan hadn't heard the 'concerns' does that make his idea less worthy of consideration? If it's not applicable, then merely explain why and move on. Chastising him, presumably because you disagree with his suggestion, seems misplaced to me.

Listen, people get frustrated with each other and they disagree over issues, sometimes quite vehemently. But I'm a big believer in keeping the discussion respectful and civil, as well as listening as someone puts forth an idea ... even if I disagree with them (notice the number of lengthy posts Xon puts up here that I gladly accept because, even though I think his rationales are almost completely off-base, I like that he's here sharing them).

Unrealistic expectations?

Tony Taylor ... best all-around athlete I ever covered.

A little prep football talk if you don't mind ...

I covered the 1999 Oconee County team that captured the Class AAA title, sitting on a temporary table on the top row of the bleachers, enduring what has to be one of the coldest nights in Watkinsville history, as Tyson Browning and Tony Taylor and J.T. Cape and Jeremy Phillips and host of future Division I-A and I-AA prospects cruised to the program's first ever championship.

The next two seasons were equally as fruitful for the Warriors, as they moved up to Class AAAA and reached the quarterfinals twice. But, after that, attrition took its toll. For a small, albeit a growing, community like Oconee County, it's difficult to remain at the top because it's hard to keep generating the types of classes like the ones that came through the school from 1999 to 2001. A Browning or Taylor is a once-in-20-years kind of talent, and that program was loaded with players like that.

But, in a small community and a new high school opening up just a few years back, you've seen groups of very capable athletes come through, but ones that can't hold a candle to the talent that was there during the championship run.

On the surface, one would think that everyone would get this. That those streaks are rare and should be cherished, but not in Oconee County apparently. Since the departure of Jeff Herron, who won the state title in 1999, the Warriors have had three additional coaches ... two have left (Jeff Arnette and Nick Saltaformaggio), while another was unfairly dismissed (Neal Auer).

I haven't covered high athletics around here in quite a while, so I never had the chance to interact with Saltaformaggio who resigned yesterday, but I did know Auer and Arnette very well. And the case of Auer, who was given the difficult task of taking a young and undersized team up into the state's largest classification in 2002 and helped transform them into region champions when they returned to Class AAA in 2004, is the most puzzling. Only one year winning the title and while making the playoffs the next year ... he was dismissed for no logical reason.

Saltaformaggio's abrupt departure makes you scratch your head as well. Granted, Herron's success and the run of those teams just a few years back raised the bar, but one also needs to have some sense of perspective too. Bouncing up and down through classifications, losing an incredibly talented and deep crop of players in 2001, seeing the school split with the opening of North Oconee in 2004 and, not to be glossed over, but changing head coaches every two or three years is a formidable set of circumstances for anyone to overcome.

Saltaformaggio's comments make it seem the boosters of the program were very critical of the team's performance and, with the dismissal of Auer still fresh in our minds, one has to wonder if a little patience is needed with regard to the development of the program.

See who you support *

If you've got a few minutes, check out this survey from The Washington Post and see what candidate you match up with. There are both Democratic and Republican versions.

Weirdly enough, Hillary Clinton finished first on my list, followed by Bill Richardson and Barack Obama.

Volunteers needed

If you've got some time tomorrow, check out this volunteer opportunity for tomorrow. For what it's worth, going through simulations, such as this one, are very beneficial and educational. The one that I went through prior to joining the IHN of Athens board a few years back was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life ...

The Junior League of Athens is partnering with the (Clarke County School District) to assist with a poverty simulation for high school students this Friday at Lay Park. Organized by the YPPA, JLA has been working to fill all the “staff” roles during the simulation. 10 volunteers are needed.

The simulation allows participating students to learn what types of decisions a person living in poverty must make through a series of interactions with “staff” – volunteers will fulfill roles such as an electric company employee, a housing authority employee, or a pawn shop owner, for example.

I realize this is a very busy time of year – but the rewards someone will get just by giving her time for this effort will be priceless.

Approximately 100 Clarke County high school students will be participating in the simulation. Volunteers are invited to stay and have lunch at 12:15 pm with the students.

Again, the simulation is this Friday at Lay Park from 7:45 am (when the training will take place) until 12 noon. Dress is business casual. Anyone interested can email Alison Bracewell McCullick at with “Poverty Simulation” in the subject line.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oconee update

Not terribly practical

Erick at Peach Pundit likes this idea ...

No county, municipality, local school system, or other local governmental entity with taxing powers may increase the tax burden on residents therein through an increase in taxes on tangible real property located in the territorial boundaries of the entity without first obtaining approval of such an increase from a majority of voters residing in the territorial boundaries of the entity.

Again, I'm not saying that I don't support referendums (in fact my rational compromise offer to Glenn Richardson is that we allow individual counties to hold referendums to determine if they want to keep or scrap property taxes), but I also think that this particular suggestion could lead us done quite a burdensome path.

For starters, we're not a direct democracy. We elect officials to represent our views in an attempt to, well, streamline the system for one thing.

Another problem is that it will really make it difficult to conduct some elements of business. If the millage rate needs to raised or lowered, unless you hold a special election, you going to be waiting for these types of votes for a year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Crossing boundaries

This interview with Drew Page, the president of the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Foundation, was an interesting and worthwhile read.

What stood out to me was Page's mention of something that is rather obvious and something I've advocated for quite a while ... that the political boundaries of Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County, as well as other surrounding counties, aren't where the dollar flow ends. Our economies are already tied together and building a more comprehensive regional economy doesn't necessarily mean reinventing the wheel, but simply getting on the same page (Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis said roughly the same thing on "The Tim Bryant Show" last Thursday as he alluded to the cooperation and partnerships involved with the Beer Creek Reservoir) ...

We have a working relationship with all of our neighbors (Oconee, Barrow, Madison, Oglethorpe and Jackson counties). We had a prospect in last week and we entertained this prospect with my counterpart from Oconee County, and we showed them both counties at the same time. The idea being that the labor force primarily would come from those two counties so it didn't matter to us where the company located as long it located in one of those two counties. I think you'll see more of that. We do some of that with Oconee County. We're talking about the possibility of a joint Clarke, Barrow, Oconee effort to try (to look) at doing some things on a regional basis that we've never done before. We all know that the labor force is going to be multi-county oriented. But we're going to have to look at industrial sites as a multi-county situation, too, which we've not done in the past. ...

... we'd love to erase that Clarke and Oconee County line, because most industries and companies don't recognize its location anyway. Dollar bills and jobs don't recognize political boundary lines. ... Most people today are not real concerned about which political subdivision their employees are going to come from or live in as much as they are which political subdivision is the primary facility going to be in. Who is going to service it? And in that regard, Clarke County has an advantage because it has a fire department and those kinds of things that Oconee County will eventually get but not for a while. So Clarke County has an advantage on location. Schools certainly play a role in economic development process, but we're more interested in the regional education outlook than we are in a single jurisdiction.

This, to me, seems to be the most appropriate way of looking at this thing. If a company locates in Oconee County or Jackson County, there's going to be a good amount of skilled labor drawn from the neighboring counties, Athens-Clarke County included. You're going to see increased investment and revenue increases in those neighboring counties because more folks are employed and more folks have disposable income.

I already spend money in both counties. I shop at Publix off Atlanta Highway for my groceries, but routinely visit Lowe's and Wal-Mart just across the Oconee County line. I eat breakfast almost every Wednesday morning at the Five Points Deli on Epps Bridge Road, and then eat lunch regularly at Food For The Soul smack in the middle of Athens-Clarke County.

A healthy Oconee County means a healthy Athens-Clarke County, and vice versa. The more we begin to see things this way, the better and more diverse our economies can grow.

Andrew Ladis, 1949-2007

When I went to work over at the Georgia Museum of Art, most folks thought it was kinda funny because, well, seeing how I have little to no background in art ... it was kinda funny. Still, Andrew Ladis, a professor of art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and staunch supporter of the museum, made the subject interesting and engaging.

This past weekend, Ladis passed away after a long struggle with cancer. The world is poorer without him and his kindness, humility and passion.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends.

Couple of things

- Well, I suppose one of my dirty little secrets is that I really have never cared for Big City Bread, but nonetheless it's disheartening (and somewhat odd) to see the wholesale bakery close ... under rather mysterious circumstances. From what I can gather, the bakery sold a ton of its baked goods to a variety of places throughout Northeast Georgia so, though definitely possible with a host rising costs, it's puzzling to think it closed down due to economic struggles. On the surface it sounds like the Burgesses, who took the business over in May of this year, apparently desired to simply do something else.

- Though not a terribly interesting issue to say the least, a fee for internet telephone users seems to be quite logical based on the existing system. If we're charging a small fee to fund our 911 service to land-line users and wireless users, why wouldn't you include internet phone users in this equation?

- What in the world does this quote by Hawaii coach June Jones mean with regard to his Warriors' schedule - "A questionable schedule? Rightfully so. Mark (Richt) knows how hard it is at Athens High School to go undefeated and win 12 games. It doesn't matter who you're playing. A lot of teams have found that out this year with the upsets." - Was that a shot at Georgia? Or was he legitimately saying that it's hard for anyone at any level to go unbeaten? Coming on the heels of him berating Tim Tebow on two national media outlets, calling him a 'system quarterback' who couldn't cut it at Hawaii and that the Heisman Trophy favorite wouldn't make it in the NFL, I'd obliged to think he's throwing some stones.

- Since I grew tired of checking every day, The Safe As Houses Water Challenge now happens every once in a while. But we're still doing pretty good.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

From Thursday, November 29 through Monday, December 3, my household used 80 cubic feet of water or 624 gallons.

Since November 11, we have consumed 357 cubic feet of water or 2,784.6 gallons. We are projected to use 465 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I coach football!

You see this guy? Yes, it's Joe Glenn, head coach of the University of Wyoming ... that football juggernaut that finished 5-7 this season with heartbreaking losses like the 50-0 one they suffered to Utah on Nov. 10.

Why do we care about Glenn kiddies? Well, because according to the USA Today coaches poll, he had Georgia No. 10 on his ballot. Behind who you ask?

Let's see ... how about Hawaii (No. 5) and West Virginia (No. 7) and Missouri (No. 9( and, wait for it, Florida (No. 8). Yes, that's right ... the same Florida team that has three losses and was beaten by Georgia by two touchdowns.

Think it's silly? Well, why not tell him. He can be reached via email at

Other mind-bogglers?

Hal Mumme, formerly of Kentucky and now of New Mexico State, had Georgia No. 9, while Howard Schnellenberger of Florida Atlantic had LSU No. 5, Oklahoma No. 7, Georgia No. 8 and Kansas No. 2.

In the shamelessly partisan department, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma had LSU No. 6 and Georgia No. 8.

Not including Mark Richt, six coaches had Georgia No. 2 - UAB's Neil Callaway, UConn's Randy Edsell, Texas Tech's Mike Leach, Rutgers's Greg Schiano, Tulane's Bob Toledo and Notre Dame's Charlie Weiss.

Couple of things

- Hawaii? Are they a state now? Listen, I promise to go if Dog is there, OK?

- How did Georgia get Hawaii? Well, aside from the Rose Bowl folks being a bit too stodgy, the BCS makes little to no sense.

- Speaking of bad sports news for Jmac ... trading Jacoby Ellsbury? Mother of Mary, just go ahead and sign away the entire Pawtucket team for Johann Santana, why don't you? Last time I checked, the Red Sox won the World Series with the best pitching staff in baseball. Why should we ship off one of the best young outfielders in baseball to add Santana?

- Amen Doc. Yet another reason I'm glad he's the new guy in charge at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce and not Yahoo McScrewy.

- A nice read on Prince Avenue, and I'm pleased to see that any discussion of taking over part of the road and three-laning it won't happen for at least another six years or so. I'm still not in favor of three-laning that road and, with the potential of some much needed and very welcome economic development along that corridor, is it even feasible to ponder three-laning the section closest to downtown? I still contend that we can help transform that area in a more pedestrian-friendly environment with a 'Complete Streets' mindset without switching from four lanes to three (removing the parking spaces on the road would be a step in the right direction).


So, it's the day after ... and it still sucks. Big time.

Let me start off by saying that I'm not disappointed in going to the Sugar Bowl. If you had told me prior to this season - or, heck, in the aftermath of the 35-14 loss to Tennessee - that Georgia would be playing in a BCS bowl, I would have thought you were a crazy person. The Sugar Bowl is awesome, it's in New Orleans which is a cool city and it's one of the four biggest bowl games out there.

But I am disappointed. I'm disappointed in how we got there. I'm disappointed that we got hosed out of the Rose Bowl. I'm disappointed that preserving 'tradition' and appeasing the Big Ten proved to more important than matching up the best teams in the best venues. I'm disappointed that a 10-2 season punctuated by wins over Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech results in the Bulldogs playing Hawaii in what is ultimately a lose-lose scenario. I'm disappointed that even though the BCS rules clearly do not state that you have to win your conference title to be eligible for the national title game, the folks at ESPN and other national media outlets damn near ordered the voters to not consider the Bulldogs for inclusion in the game (despite the fact that a pair of non-conference champion teams have already played for the top prize and that the same pundits on ESPN lobbied for Michigan to play Ohio State just last year, despite the former not winning its conference title).

Listen, I honestly didn't hold any fanciful notions that we'd leap into the national title game. I do seriously believe that Georgia had just as good of a resume as LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and the rest of the lot to play for the title, but I wasn't holding my breath. Those other teams, particularly Oklahoma, had legitimate claims to play in the championship game, which is part of the problem I suppose.

This thing is a mess, and it's always been a mess and I have been guilty in completely ignoring it. I've been against a playoff system for a while now, but no more. Did I change my mind because it hosed my Georgia team this year? Well, perhaps partially (though the 2002, 2004 and 2005 Georgia teams would have had legitimate chances to win it all in a playoff system, but I firmly held to the BCS). But, more to the point, I changed my mind because randomly selecting two teams based on a weird, hard-to-understand formula and open, bald-faced lobbying by coaches is ridiculous.

I don't want what Division I-AA has. I just want an eight-team playoff that takes the top eight BCS teams, regardless of conference and championship, and puts them on the field to settle this thing once and for all.

I know the logical counterargument is that the regular season is the playoff, and that we don't want to do anything to cheapen that. I know this because I used to employ this same argument.

However, answer me two things then ...

- If the regular season means so much, and if one-loss can 'ruin' your season, how does LSU fall twice in its final month, including at home on the last week of the regular season, and still be afforded a third shot at the national title?

- Long before Georgia was being considered for the national title game or, shoot, even a BCS bowl, we played Florida and Auburn. As a Bulldog fan, how were those games for you? How about the Auburn game in 2006 when the team was in the midst of one of its worst skids in recent history?

Listen, the regular season will always matter because this is college football, not the NHL. There are regional rivals and bragging rights and conference championships and recruiting wars and 'Celebration Games' and trash-talking and 'Blackouts' to be considered here. To suggest selecting the top eight teams in the country at the end of the season, the majority of whom would presumably be the top teams in the six BCS conferences, would somehow diminish the pageantry of the game is to know nothing about the game itself.

Will this happen? Probably not. Money talks and old habit die hard, so we're stuck with Southern Cal playing Illinois and Virginia Tech playing Kansas and Georgia playing Hawaii ... and Ohio State playing LSU for it all, despite the fact that no one outside of Louisiana or Ohio think they're the best teams in the country.

UPDATE: Just an aside, here's footage of Kirk Herbstreit saying the exact opposite thing last year (h/t Dawgs Online).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Someone hears me

Worst-case scenario is here

OK. I'm done with it. I've danced with the BCS as long as I can, and I must now ask for a new partner. Here we are, with the regular season over, and we're resorted to having coaches argue for their teams like politicians for something that can't be effectively argued for.

And then, because of some contractual obligation slipped in to preserve some arcane tradition that dates back to, oh, the mid-1970s, should LSU vault four spaces past Georgia ... the Bulldogs will more than likely slide into the Sugar Bowl to play Hawaii.


Screw it. Either give me a six- or eight-team playoff or abolish conference tie-ins, thus freeing the BCS bowls to put together the best matchups possible. Southern Cal vs. Illinois? Oklahoma vs. Kansas? Georgia vs. Hawaii?