on the Triangle's proposed rail system.
"When people actually see it physically drive by it, I think the enthusiasm should increase."
State Sen. Russell Capps has a different view:
"That's really surprising, because I haven't talked to anybody who says they're for it. In fact, everybody is concerned with the fact that we're going to have another boondoggle that's going to require more and more tax money, and nobody's going to use it."
I saw The Aviator
over the weekend. I yawned a couple of times during its three-hour run, but on the whole it was pretty fast-paced.
I was constantly aware I was looking at Leonardo DiCaprio instead of Howard Hughes. When thinking of actors who might better portray the ruggedly handsome Hughes
, George Clooney comes to mind. Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Hughes
in a 1977 TV movie and was very believable. Unfortunately, he's way too old for the role, while I think Clooney could pull it off.
But DiCaprio does a decent job, especially dealing with Hughes' obsessive-compulsive disorder. And it's hard to mess up the action scenes, especially when Hughes crashes his plane in a Beverly Hills neighborhood.
Cate Blanchett as as Katherine Hepburn was a tougher sale, however. Blanchett looks nothing like Hepburn, and with her rendition of the famous Hepburn accent, she appeared to be impersonating rather than portraying. Even with an open mind, I just couldn't buy it.
Here's the problem: I've been asked to review the movie for a conservative publication. I realize by the time the review hits the press, the Oscars will be over. If "The Aviator" wins, it will help. If it loses, then it becomes a footnote to movie history.
So I'll discuss how the movie fits into the big picture.. Here's the question: How did the movie, produced and acted by prominent Hollywood liberals (Alan Alda and Alec Baldwin play strong supporting roles) portray a major icon of American capitalism?
Pretty sympathetically, I have to admit. Now the movie raises no doubt that Hughes was whacked(not that there is any), but he always overcomes his obsessive compulsive disorder.
In one scene, the dastardly Sen. Owen Brewster (Alda) cleverly places a finger print on Hughes' water glass and served his Brook trout- head still on. Hughes calmly eats his food, drinks his water and stands up to the senator, waiting until he was in private to break down.
The movie's treatment of the liberal Hepburn family was not kind, either. They come off as boorish, shallow socialists who say "they don't care about money."
"That's because you got it," Hughes said. He had it , too, but at least he worked for a living.
The movie ends in 1947, when Hughes finally get his Spruce Goose off the water, which was, if nothing else, a personal triumph. Of course he's also muttering "It's the way of the future" over and over again. We know how the story ultimately ends.
But more liberal critics were upset with the "happy ending," believing the movie should have dealt with Hughes' shady dealings with the CIA and Nixon, not to mention his continued mental downslide.
With all this in mind, it will be interesting to see if "The Aviator" wins an Oscar.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Conspiracy theory day on The Michael Medved Show
. One caller's theory: Prosecutors on the O.J. trial were aware of potential riots if Juice was found guilty, so they threw the case.
Interesting letter to the editor
from Jerry Clark of Greensboro. Clark calls out N&R lead writers Jim Schlosser and MMB for their article
on Guilford County's tax base, which Clark said had no point to it.
The article caught my eye as well, and I settled down with a cup of coffee to read it. But the class warfare-style lead immediately turned me off:
"People lust to live in Irving Park for its beauty, for the big houses with views of the Greensboro Country Club golf course and for the prestige of an old neighborhood where exclusivity has increased with age.
"The Guilford County Tax Department loves Irving Park, too, even though some department employees can afford only a Sunday afternoon ride through the neighborhood."
"Long" to live in Irving Park. "Aspire" to live in Irving Park. But "lust"? That's one of the seven deadly sins, you know.
I kept reading, however, and noticed where Greensboro urologist Sigmund Tannenbaum bought the house at 1805 Granville Road, "tore it down, built a large home on the lot and paid $33, 716.90 in property taxes in 2004. The new value is nearly $2.8 million."
I helped pay Dr. Tannenbaum's property taxes in 2004. Don't ask. Let's just say I'm happy to help out a guy who can carry on an intelligent conversation while performing such a delicate procedure.
Jose Canseco was on the Today Show
. Matt lauer pressed him pretty hard, getting Canseco to backtrack a bit about his financial troubles. Lauer also addressed the rumor that Canseco would neither confirm nor deny: He's going to take a pay-per-view lie-detector test.
Monday, February 21, 2005
I want to party with Vera Stek
, who responds to an N.Y. Times article on trans fat:
"I'm a runner and was lucky enough to have a doctor friend who warned me long ago of the dangers of margerine and other hydrogenated fats. Education is im[ortant, but maybe just eliminating the temptation is a smarter move.
"Almost every weekend I see many runners who work so hard to keep fit and healthy reward themselves with the free doughnuts offered after a race. All the races in the world and the training required to complete them won't undo the damage caused by that blob of unhealthy grease and refined sugar."
Now that's hardcore. If running doesn't undo all the french fires I eat, then I'm practically a dead man.
I also don't know what Ms. Stek would think of my post-run reward, a 24-ounce beer. But I don't think beer has any trans fat.
E-mail from a knowledgeable source on the possible conflict of interest involved with Skip Alston's management of St. James Homes:
"Sounds like it could be an ethical conflict of interest. But if the county commissioner does not vote on the city council, it is probably not legally a conflict of interest. The commissioner may be able to use his influence to get the city to give him a favorable deal. But there is no legal conflict of interest unless he actually gets to vote on it -- and even then if he recuses himself there is no conflict."
in Saturday's Charlotte Observer on corporal punishment in Union County:
"Critics of corporal punishment maintain that minorities and other groups such as the disabled receive it at a higher rate........The (National Association of Schools Psychologists) estimates more than 250,000 children are being struck each year, with a dispropotionate number being minorities and disabled children.....A federal study of the 1999-2000 school year found Union used corporal punishment on disabled students more than any other district in the state, with 85 instances."
Dear God, I thought to myself, they're slapping kids in wheelchairs down there in Union County.
But, "Union school officials have pointed out that children with leaning disabilities and emotional difficulties are classified as disabled."
I understand that using corporal punshiment on any kids is a much-debated topic. I also understand that using it on kids with learning disabilities is not fair because their well, disability, prevents them from learning. In their frustration, these students have a greater tendency to act up in class. I concede that corporal punshiment is simply treating the symptom in this case.
Still, I think the reporter could have done a better job of explaining this instead of just running the term "disabled" up the flagpole. Did she know what type of imagery she was prompting as she was writing the article? Probably.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Noel Kirby-Smith says that whoever came up with the N&R's Michael Moore makeover contest "could use a mental makeover
to improve editorial judgment."
You tell 'em Ms. Kirby-Smith. Anything so I don't have to see the dude in his underwear while I'm drinking my morning coffee.
Friday, February 18, 2005
says we should all let the Skip Alston matter drop. St. James Homes will be razed in a couple of weeks, and that will be that.
I guess I'll follow along. What do I care? But I have to say I'm disappointed in the response from Greensboro bloggers. Except for Hoggard, Jerry McClough
and Wharton (who focused on the bigger picture), not many in the local blogsosphere touched the subject. I expected more.
Here we have a public official whose private company squandered $1 million of taxpayers' money and nobody is asking him to account for it. I'll give John Robinson
credit for writing:
"The point that is trying to get lost in this case is the $1 million-plus in tax money spent on a complex that is going to be torn down. Where's the outrage about that?"
Still, JR's the editor of the local paper, and he makes the big bucks to reflect taxpayers' outrage. That said, his paper's print editorial on the matter was considerably more tame.
Hey, this is Greensboro. This is what we put up with to lead a relatively easy, stress-free life void of big-city hassles. For the record, I'm looking in the mirror as I write this.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
ESPN's Jeff Merron fact checks
Canseco's juicy book.
J.B. Brown of Asheboro writes
"homes and cars are the first places smoking should be eliminated."
That doesn't leave too many places for one to smoke. I'm sure there are those out there who have their reasons why smoking outdoors is harmful to someone or something.
N&R editor Allen Johnson takes the city council to task
over the St. James fiasco.
Fair enough. But isn't somebody's name missing from Johnson's post? I guess the point is the city should have leaned on Skip Alston a little harder. But given Alston's recent comments, what would have been the response had the city leaned on him?
This is twice now the city has emerged from the ruins of public housing complexes looking not so good.
The N&R lead editorial
speaks of missed opportunities. I guess we can only hope the next time the city has the opportunity to get into the public housing business, they miss it.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
While we're on the subject, Reason's Ronald Bailey weighs in
on the Kyoto Protocol.
Hendersonville Times-News article
on manufacturing and air pollution, leading off with a quote from Lexington Home Brands president Bob Stec, whom I interviewed a couple of times in my previous life.
Stec and a group of high-level employees purchased Lexington a few years ago with the lofty, but extremely difficult goal of maintaining strong domestic manufacturing operations.
"What good is fresh air if you have a lot of unemployed people breathing it?" asks Stec. "Domestic manufacturing is at a cost disadvantage anyway, so when you lay on all this environmental stuff....it becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back."
I keep seeing the commercial for "Hitch" on TV, and I'm convinced Kevin James wears a rug. So is Fine? Why Fine?
"calls off the dogs" on Skip Alston, while Cone says not good enough
This citizen's still waiting for the N&R editorialists to denounce Alston's words and, for that matter, his actions, or lack thereof.
I'll say this one more time in plain language: We have a public official whose private company, at the very least, mismanged the upkeep of a public housing complex. He admits
in today's paper that he's under investigation by HUD, and his response, in addition to charges of racism, is to seek an investigation himself.
Okay.... I'm waiting for people a lot smarter than me to see this.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Wake County prepares for huge growth in student enrollment
over the next 15 years, a growth spurt that might require the construction of as many as 90 new schools.
I like it: Ken Griffey Jr. reports early
to spring training.
Monday, February 14, 2005
"Someone needs to more securely affix Alston's racist-are-everywhere spewing cannon so that it fires only in a more constructive direction before he loses all credibility within this community."
As someone who has sat through hours of county commissioners' meetings, Skip Alston's "racism is everywhere spewing cannon" consistently has been a source of division on the board. His comments about the city staff should have been a surprise to no one. With that in mind, I have to wonder if Alston has ever had credibility among the greater Greensboro community.
Here's my next question: Was it not a conflict of interest to have a city-funded apartment complex managed by a county commissioner's private company?
As long as we're talking about race, here's another question: Would eyebrows not immediately been raised if, for example, Steve Arnold's company were hired to manage the Greensboro Coliseum?
Yesterday's topic comes full circle: Elementary school teacher gives pupils a a hard lesson on segregation
I watched with interest last night's "60 Minutes" interview with Jose Canseco. So did Skip Bayless
. How do you react to this situation, considering the fact that Canseco's not telling us anything we don't already know.
The only place Mike Wallace was able to trip Canseco up was on the number of times he injected Mark McGwire. He writes in the book he did it several times, while he said in the interview he did it only a couple of times, then revised that by saying that sometimes one player prepares the needle for the other to inject.
As for Tony LaRussa, who's rushed to McGwire's defense, I'll say this: Based on what I've read about him, he's a great manager, but a book-smart guy. How else could you explain George Will's infatuation with him? With that in mind,I don't think it would be real hard to hide steroid use around him.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Cone goes off
on Giles Lambertson, and I respond. I'll let the comments speak for themselves.
One thing led to another, and I end up doing some research on our esteemed former Sen. Jesse Helms. I came across this article
, where Susan Tift interviews more than two dozen of Helms' friends, foes, former staffers and observers. It makes for interesting reading.
Interesting N.Y. Times article on 73- year-old marathoner
It's never too late to begin exercising, people.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Molly Ivins thinks
President Bush is a doody-head.
About the president's budget, Ivins writes:
"The cuts take from schools in need, child-care assistance, environmental programs (a whopping 10.4 percent cut there) students (he lied about Pell Grants) veterans, Medicaid, food stamps — basically the weakest and poorest Americans....
"Hubert Humphey said, 'The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life — the sick, the needy, the handicapped.' Bush seems to think they're all targets."
That's not very nice of him.
Friday, February 11, 2005
"Sex and the City" babe Kristin Davis has signed on for a new show on ABC
. The show, "Soccer Moms," revolves around two suburban housewives who team up as private investigators.
Don't laugh. My mother's next-door neighbors are a husband-and-wife private investigating team who load the kids up in a mini-van with tinted windows.
Still, I expect Ms. Davis' adventures will be a bit more exciting than trying to catch a third-shift shelf stocker shoplifting from his employer.
I was disappointed to read that Carolina Camera is shutting down its last store
. It's been my camera shop of choice since I started playing around with photography a few years ago. What impressed me most was the excellent customer service, something that's hard to find these days.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
I've been running behind all day. I sat up a little too late last night watching the Duke-Carolina game....and throwing some darts......and drinking some beer.
in today's N&R by Karol Wolicki, followed by many interesting comments.
Is a cleaner environment not a fortunate byproduct of manufacturing jobs going overseas?
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
At the 3p hour, I hit the FM band on my car radio and listen to Fresh Air
. On the whole I enjoy the interviews, but there is no doubt Terry Gross gives conservatives a harder time than liberals.
The last two shows provide a perfect case study. Yesterday it was Bill Maher, admittedly a funny guy but most definitely liberal, no matter how much he pretends to straddle the fence. Gross fawned all over him, acting as if every word he said was the funniest thing she'd heard, even as Maher was discussing serious political issues.
Today it was Lynne Cheney, admittedly not a comedian. The interview went well at first, as Gross asked about Cheney's new children's book "When Washington Crossed the Delaware" as well as her views on the feminist movement, both then and now, as an accomplished conservative woman.
After politely saying she would ask no questions about her lesbian daughter Mary, Gross proceded to press Cheney on issues relating to homosexuality, repeatedly suggesting that Cheney's position as the vice president's wife could affect public policy on the issue.
Cheney said in no uncertain terms that her position could not and would not affect public policy on the issue and, furthermore, she did not support a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Not satisfied, Gross then asked Cheney about a novel she'd written several years in which one of the characters was a lesbian. Cheney set her straight, saying the character was not a lesbian, forcing Gross to admit she had never read the novel. "Fresh Air" became "Dead Air."
I'm not suggesting Gross throw Cheney softballs because of her position as "second lady." But she clearly had an agenda going into the interview and was not going to stop until she had pinned her subject in a corner. Unfortunately for Gross, she underestimated her subject.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
N&R editor John Robinson
links to speculation at Romenesko
that George H.W. Bush is Deep Throat.
The dude is everywhere. CIA director. President. Unofficial advisor to his son. Hell, he was even at the Super Bowl on Sunday.
All this, of course, after he helped plot the Kennedy assassination
I thought it over and I'm definitely not going to kill myself. I must live for ACC Hoops
, Jay Ovittore's budget breakdown and commentary
I think I'll just kill myself now and get it over with.
Seriously, though, Jay has provided a valuable service by breaking down the budget. But while he's alarmed at the dollar amounts being cut from many departments, do you not have to pay attention to the percentages as well? If $23.4 billion slashed from the Department of Energy represents a 2 percent cut, does that not tell you there's still a boatload of money flowing through that department to perform necessary services and infrastructure?
Monday, February 07, 2005
In Sunday's N&R, Guilford College professor Adam Golub writes "the nation lacks honest debate on education."
I've got some views on the subject. Help me out if I don't get it.
Professor Golub writes:
"In the national media, for example, stripping advice for minors clearly trumped reporting on less 'sexy' subjects, such as guidance counselor shortages, overcrowded classrooms and budget crises."
Why is this? Because education is, and should be, a local concern. "The honest debate" Professor Golub claims is lacking nationwide takes place, quite vibrantly, within the individual school systems. If he reads the N&R regularly, he would know there's been quite a bit of honest debate about education in Guilford County over the past year, whether it was the High Point school choice plan, transportation problems or location of magnet programs, not to mention the issues listed above. This past school board election was one of the most hotly-contested in recent memory, during which a number of forums were held where candidates were asked to explain their views.
Of course, the No Child Left Behind legislation has created a bit of a national debate, but the individual school systems have to deal with that in the manner that best benefits their students. When the school board was plannming its budget last year, I heard complaints from board members and staff about NCLB. But by far the biggest pain in the butt, from a financial and educational standpoint, was Governor Easley's third-grade class-size reduction. I'm not sure what kind of buzz that would create in the national media. Based on what I've read so far in the N&R, there will be quite a bit of debate about this year's school budget.
Granted, the debate here in Guilford County (and elsewhere) gets a bit heated, and both the school board and the superintendent could be more straightforward when explaining their policies and procedures. But to say there's a lack of honest debate in this country about education is selling quite a few people short.
Cuba goes fascist
OK, so the Super Bowl wasn't ugly
as this sportswriter predicted. Still, the Patriots were clearly the superior team. If not for Tom Brady's unforced turnover in the first half and the holding penalty on the punt return in the second half, then the margin might have been greater. And what if Terrell Owens had decided not to play?
As for the pre-game hype, I thought they'd brought everybody out when I saw Michael Douglas on the field with a microphone in his hand. Then, I see Clinton and Bush Sr. marching across the field, practically hand-in-hand. By this point, I'm wondering who's going to flip the coin. Perhaps Reagan really isn't dead, I thought to myself. Either that, or President Bush was about to land on the field to do the honors. Neither happened, much to my disappointment.
For me, the most interesting appearance was by Michael Chiklis, star of the Fox series The Shield
. Earlier in the day, my neighbors were up we were talking about movies. I mentioned the Carolina Film and Video Festival
at UNCG, which, if you haven't checked it out, is pretty cool. One year the festival screened Last Request
, a short film in which Chiklis co-stars as a guy about to get whacked, but not before he has to dig his own grave.
Then, lo and behold, there Chiklis is, introducing the Patriots. Funny how who you don't think about someone for weeks or months, then they make multiple appearances in your consciousness.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Philadelphia's Super Bowl appearance warrants commentary
from Chuck "Concrete Charlie" Bednarik, the hardest-hitting member of the Eagles' 1960 championship team.
Needless to say, Bednarik doesn't think much of the NFL's last two-way starter, Deion Sanders:
"The positions I played, every play, I was making contact, not like that Deion Sanders. He couldn't tackle my wife. He's back there dancing instead of hitting."
Saturday, February 05, 2005
The "F" word.......
N&R editor Allen Johnson writes
that Sunday's editorials will take a closer look at the 5-cent property tax hike proposed by county commissioner Paul Gibson to finance a $1 billion capital fund.
"What a novel idea: long range planning and saving for future spending needs."
First of all, I agree with Joe Guarino when he comments, "...We just had an election....Perhaps I missed something, but I do recall any candidates proposing a five cent increase in the property tax rate...It is problematic for any elected official to claim to have arrived suddenly at an epiphany regarding capital funding only a couple of months after an election."
Indeed, Gibson did such a good job of presenting himself as a centrist Democrat that John Hammer endorsed him and I voted for him. I can't speak for Johnny Sunshine, but I won't make that mistake again.
But here's the best part: Johnson writes that Gibson "isn't the only one who thinks the concept deserves a closer look.
"Former County Manager Roger Cotten and former county commissioner and city councilman Chuck Forrester, both Republicans, are avid supporters of the concept."
Okay........ Any reason to be skeptical about this example of bipartisan support?
N&R (unposted) editorial on anti-gang legislation:
"Gangs organizers seek out states that don't have specific anti-gang laws."
I didn't know gangs performed due diligence when deciding where to locate.
Friday, February 04, 2005
Emmitt Smith calls it a career
I had the pleasure of watching Emmitt play against the Panthers. It was late in his career, and his Cowboys had bottomed out. But it was still a good show. His line opened up huge holes for him and he hit them hard, forcing the defensive backs to make the tackles.
I've historically been a Cowboys hater, but over the years I've gained respect for the franchise, especially now that it's been sufferering quite a bit in recent years.
Speaking of football, what does Belichick and Co. have planned for the Eagles? I hate to be pessimistic, because everyone wants to see a good game, but my gut feeling is this one's going to be ugly. Maybe it's me, but the Eagles weren't that impressive against the Falcons.
I've been wrong before.....
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Message to Kurt Lauenstein
: Choose not to be angry
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
links to Alessandra Stanley's
commentary on Carson's legacy; The Sports Guy
comments on Letterman's tribute to Johnny, which I caught Monday night.
At first, I thought something went wrong and CBS was showing a repeat, because the jokes in Letterman's monologue were not up to the minute. Then Letterman revealed that the jokes were all Johnny's.
Needless to say, it was interesting to see the normally irreverant and sarcastic Letterman speak with sincerity and humility. (I missed his post 9/11 show). But the best part was the clips from the Letterman show over the years featuring Johnny. In one, Letterman and Paul Schaffer are in California, changing a tire on the side of the road. Letterman flags down a convertible, and it's Johnny, who just shakes his head and drives off.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
I didn't make it downtown to the civil rights festivities. I planned to, but the morning got away from me, as they so often do.
Instead, I thought about the 30th anniversary re-enactment in 1990, which I went and checked out. I remember describing the scene to the same sociology class that Norman was in, though I can't remember whether or not he'd disappeared by this time.
The Woolworth's was still open at the time, and everyone -press and public-crowded into the lunch counter early on a cold morning. Everyone suddenly grew quiet, then broke into applause. David Richmond, dressed in a nice business suit and holding a wool hat in his hand, led his old buddies Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan through the crowd toward the counter, where they took a seat, drank coffee, and calmly answered questions.
When I read later in the year that David Richmond died
, I knew I had witnessed a historic moment. While I wasn't there the first time the Greensboro Four sat at the lunch counter, I was there the last time.
EMS workers pay the price
after putting Larry Green in a body bag when he really wasn't dead.
I've heard of this happening twice before. I was fascinated with the Hamlet chicken plant fire
14 years ago that killed 25 workers and read every account I could about the incident. In one account, hurried EMS workers had stacked the body bags right outside the plant when, all of a sudden, one of them zipped itself open and out came a "victim" who was not dead but suffering from smoke inhalation.
Then, in Paul Luebke's sociology class at UNCG, we were discussing Vietnam deferments when an older guy in the class named Norman described how he avoided service. He became very ill with a bacterial infection, was hospitalized and declared dead. They wheeled him down to the morgue and a death certificate was filled out. According to Norman, he regained consciousness, got up off the gurney and informed a morgue attendant that he was indeed alive.
The Army never got the word, however, and as far as they were concerned, Norman was still dead.
Shortly after sharing this story with the class, Norman disappeared and we never saw him again.