sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Thursday, March 31, 2005

 
Topic of the day: Liberalism on campus.

Here's an N&O article on a proposed bill in the General Assembly that states conservative students "shall not be discriminated against on the basis of their poiltical, ideological or religious beliefs."

Locally, Wharton discusses the liberal groupthink at UNCG.

I haven't attended a class at UNCG in 13 years, so I really can't say what's going on now at my alma mater. I've written before that my liberal history and sociology professors at UNCG were instrumental in my conversion to conservatism. But it wasn't because I disagreed with their ideas and priniciples. It was because, to their credit, they presented balanced viewpoints in class and let us choose our own path. Armed with the information they presented, I made a right turn.


 
Terri Schiavo dies. The system works.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 
I thought it was the meat loaf and mashed potatoes....

"60 Minutes" will report tomorrow night that Panthers Todd Sauerbraun, Jeff Mitchell and Todd Steussie had steroid prescriptions filled by Dr. James Shortt, who is now under federal investigation:

"CBS said Mitchell and Steussie did not respond to repeated calls seeking comment. The network said that when it contacted Sauerbraun by phone, and asked him about Shortt, the punter said, 'I like the guy very much.'

"Ten minutes later, CBS said, Sauerbraun called back to say he had been confused and that he did not know Shortt."


 
Good N&R article on the Beer Run. Indeed, the last hill up Kenilworth Avenue is a real bitch.

Here are the final results. You don't have to scroll too far before find yours truly.The cruel irony: I improved on my time over last year, but I fell in the standings. The competition was pretty hot.


Monday, March 28, 2005

 
Terri Schiavo's in a state of euphoria.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

 
Yes, I was worried that NBA-style hoops would trickle down to the college game.

But on the whole, I thought the competitiveness and quality of play in this year's NCAA Tournament was excellent


 
Obits:

Morty Seinfeld

Paul Henning, the brains behind 'The Beverly Hillbillies.'

Here's an article on the Hillbillies I wrote for TV Party a few years ago.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

 
So I went to visit my mother this weekend. When I arrived, I gave her a hug and headed for the bathroom. As I'm relieving myself, I looked up and there it was, something my mother's been talking about for 20 years. Mounted above the counter was a brand-new, 20-inch TV set, complete with expanded cable.

Now I finally had a legitimate excuse to sneak off and check in on ESPN Classic. Today they had a SportsCentury classic profile of Bill Walton, perhaps the greatest college basketball player of all time whose professional career never lived up to tis potential due to injuries.

Of course, the story touched on Walton's radical politics while at UCLA and during his early years with the Trail Blazers. But I was struck how quickly Walton went corporate, wearing a three-piece suits and doing a swan song with the Celtics, the corporate symbol of the NBA at one time. John Wooden eventually won out over the hippies.

By the way, I didn't watch the whole thing in the bathroom.


Friday, March 25, 2005

 
Steroids everywhere......

McGwire and Bonds will have trouble getting into the Hall of Fame (good), while Saints coach Jim Haslett makes a serious allegation: The Steelers wereusing steroids during their heyday in the 1970s.

Dan Rooney refutes that accusation:

"This is totally, totally false when he says it started with the Steelers in the 1970s. Chuck Noll was totally against it. He looked into it, examined it, talked to people. Haslett, maybe it affected his mind."


Thursday, March 24, 2005

 
Bummer.

I noticed the trash guys were a little late this morning, then it dawned on me: Pick-up is pushed up a day because of the holiday. I didn't get the memo. As bad as it is hauling the full garbage can out to the curb, it's even worse hauling back to the side of the house.

I know, if this is my biggest complaint.......


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 
Interesting Winston-Salem Journal article on yet another effort at downtown redevelopment.

Since the article led with John Elkington, the renowned developer who developed a plan for Winston's last redevelopment effort. That plan, which included a sports bar named after Tim Duncan, didn't work out. as many others haven't. I was looking forward to Elkington's views on what went wrong with his ambitious plan. Unfortunately, he said only:

"In Winston-Salem .....there just wasn't a commitment to get everyone on board. Until you get people to say 'Yeah, I believe in this,' it's never going to happen."

So what keeps going wrong? There's the obvious reason: The city and county have to get involved because they are major property owners downtown:

"The project would require the city and Forsyth County to be partners because several city-owned buildings would need to be torn down and the county still owns the courthouse."

We had the same situation here, but basically one key piece of property, on which First Horizon Park now sits. Everyone involved made the transaction happen quickly, and now the possibilities seem endless in downtown Greensboro.

So why can't this happen in Winston? It depends on the point of view. Perhaps partnering with the city is not as easy as it seems. By the same token, a little research reveals other cities had issues with Elkington's vision of downtown revitalization.


 
Wayne Abraham of Greensboro says Guilford County Commissioner Trudy Wade needs to give it up.

I'm an admirer of Dr. Wade, because she has the ability cut to the chase without the partisan histrionics of some of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Still, I have to wonder why a successful professional would go to such great lengths for a county commissioners' seat. There will always be plenty of sick dogs and cats walking through the door at Jamestown Veterinary Hospital to keep her mind off politics.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

 
Barry Bonds might miss the entire season.

My hunch: Bonds won't be back, period. He realizes the pressure of breaking Ruth's record, not to mention Aaron's, will be too great under the cloud of suspicion surrounding him. He's going to call it a career.


 
Judge James Whittemore has has refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

This is a very complicated issue and, to paraphrase Wharton, people a lot smarter than I am have weighed in on the issue.

But I'm with Wharton and President Bush: Why not err on the side of life? To me, a country where side so adamantly rationlizes letting a woman starve to death is the truly scary place.

Hoggard is worked up because people are making Michael Schiavo out to be a villain in the matter. He writes:

"We should be in awe of Michael Schiavo's commitment to his vows of marriage."

But while Schiavo may not be a bigamist, as Rep. Phil Gingrey suggests, is Schiavo not an adulterer? Marriage vows state "til death do you part." Granted, Schiavo's prolonged legal fight has been about "death doing them part."

But in the meantime, Schiavo has taken the conscious decision to move on with another woman and sire two children with her. That bothers me, and, in my opinion, it undermines his credibility in this whole ugly situation.


 
N&R editor John Robinson posts and comments on this N&O article about the push for a new state law allowing pre-emptive lawsuits against citizens, news organizations and private companies seeking access to public records.

Here's the real question, and somebody please weigh in: Why are lawyers for the University of North Carolina pushing this law? It seems to me there is a clear conflict between academic freedom and the citizens' right to public records.


Monday, March 21, 2005

 
In the middle of the all the great NCAA action going on, I’ve noticed something interesting going on in the NBA. Two teams, both fighting for playoff spots but slumping, have fired their coaches. Is this normal?

Just today, the Cavaliers fired Paul Silas, a veteran NBA player who won rings with the Celtics and Sonics. As a coach, Silas hasn’t been overly successful, although he did briefly turn the Hornets around before they fired him. The Hornets may have done him a favor: They suck this year.

Last week, the Magic fired its coach, Johnny Davis. The Magic had lost six straight and were in danger of falling out of playoff contention, while the Cavs were clinging to fifth place.

I know coaches get fired in professional sports. Most times, changes are made to get a team into playoff contention, but I can’t think of instances where coaches or managers are fired to keep a team from falling out of playoff contention.

Both Silas and Davis were fired because, in the eyes of their GMs, they had lost control of the players. As ESPN’s Chad Ford writes, the Cavaliers’ future is wrapped around LeBron James, literally and figuratively, so it doesn’t matter who the coach is as long as James says he’ll play in Cleveland.

Cleveland general manager John Paxson made the statement that too many players were standing around watching James instead of moving, forcing James to take too many shots, and that was a major contributor to the Cavs’ struggles.

Davis had also lost control of his players, and two were disciplined by the league office last week, while star guard Steve Francis was ejected from a game with the Nets.

The two players disciplined by the league, Stacey Augmon and DeShawn Foster, were free agent signings brought in by general manager John Weisbrod, who rightfully is taking some heat, as other general manager should, for firing the coach when the problem is clearly the players.

His reaction to his players’ discipline problems:

“I guess all of those things are examples of things not being quite right.”

I find it amazing how we have two professional sports where on the field leadership is the key to success, while coaching has become practically dispensable in the other. A major part of the problem is the league bringing in younger and younger players at higher prices.

That said, are there some good coaches in the NBA? Larry Brown? Nate McMillan? Gregg Popovich?


 
I'm spending more of blogging time at ACC Hoops. It's just more fun.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

 
Race day.....


Friday, March 18, 2005

 
The Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock saw nothing positive in yesterday's congressional hearings on steroids in baseball.

Whitlock is critical of just about everybody, including the parents of the kids who committed suicide after using steroids:

"Every family rocked by suicide should have a day when the coutry's most powerful leaders stop what they're doing and blame millionaire entertainers for a tragedy that is often so complex that it is impossible to explain."

But he doesn't spare Mark McGwire, either:

"McGwire refused to address his alleged steroid use. After a tearful opening statement, Big Mac answered flippantly and foolishly. He refused to talk about his past. He claimed he'd like to be an anti-steroid spokesman, but there was little substance to the message he said he'd give to kids.

"McGwire looked old. Just 41, McGwire's goatee was gray, he wore reading glasses, his hairline was receding, and he appeared to be at least 40 pounds lighter than his magical 70-home-run season."

Conspiracy theory: The reading glasses were dummies.


 
A disinterested third party informed me this morning that a guy I worked with five years ago, with whom I spoke maybe two words, says I owe him money. Interesting........


Thursday, March 17, 2005

 
Jay Ovittore finds the smoking gun in recent incidents of violence: George W. Bush.

People have been killing themselves and each other for a long time, even during the wonderful Clinton administration. O.J. Simpson. Columbine. Overseas, there was the Dunblane massacre. Let's not forget Vince Foster. No, I'm not accusing the Clintons of murder. I actually think Foster committed suicide. But it still hasn't been fully explained why a high-level administration official, with seemingly everything to live for, blew his brains out.


 
Indoor training last night for Saturday's Beer Run, 35 laps around the track at the downtown YMCA. Every time I turned the far corner, the Hardee's sign across the street hit me right in the face.

So what did I dream last night? Digging into a Monster Thickburger.


 
It's not too late to whip up an Irish Whiskey Pie for tonight's festivities.

Just remember: A shot for the pie, a shot for the cook.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 
If you can follow the numbers in this N&O article on funding for Wake County schools, you're a better man than I am.

Bottom line: They (need, want) a boatload of money.


 
Roger Maris is really rolling in his grave now:

The cartoon in this morning's editorial page portrays Maris as a right-handed hitter. Everybody knows he was a left-handed hitter.

Hell, I know I'm nitpicking.


 
Disappointing N&R coverage of last night's City Council meeting. The meeting went on for almost five hours, and all we get is this this story, a short account of Skip Alston telling the council that he didn't mishandle $1 million in city loans for St. James Homes.

Perhaps the biggest story of the evening was the rezoning of the site at Old Battlerground Avenue and U.S. 220, which will allow for a major mixed -use project to proceed. If you remember, Granite Development withdrew plans for a retail project on the site because it did not follow the the city's comprehensive plan.

While the plan drew opposition from many because the site is on a watershed-critical area, the project passed by an 8-0 vote, with council member Robbie Perkins abstaining due to business conflicts.

The other big event of the night was the presentation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As reported by The Inside Scoop, the discussion was not on the agenda, so technically speaking, no formal action could take place. Commission members were expecting an endorsement from the council, but Mayor Keith Holliday held the line, although he was open to motions from other council members. But the only action that was taken was a motion to put the issue on a future council agenda.

Holliday's biggest concern seemed to be what the local media would report should the council vote not to endorse the project. Why? Does anybody think there would be serious political repercussions for council members who voted not to endorse the project?


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 
More steroids:

NY Times article on Mark McGwire's legacy under the cloud of steroids in baseball:

"Of the seven current and former players subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on Government Reform on Thursday, McGwire is easily the most recognizable and arguably the most vulnerable. Even though he retired three years ago, his legacy is still in play."

McGwire's former manager, Tony LaRussa, continues to defend him:

"I saw a guy for years and years have that fierce dedication and devotion to working and improving. That's why I'm so positive when I talk about Mark."

But Dr. Benjamin Leder, who completed a study on McGwire's known drug of choice, androstenedione, doubts that McGwire's power came from andro alone:

"I'm not surprised to hear McGwire linked with steroids. As someone who has no knowledge of about what these people do, but has watched them get bigger, it seemed unlikely that all of that growth was due to training or even to androstenedione."

Is Roger Maris rolling in his grave? Or, like a good North Dakotan, is he just not that worked up about it ?


Monday, March 14, 2005

 
Fox's Mike DeCourcy explains Wake Forest's No. 2 seed and Syracuse's No. 4 seed. But he doesn't touch Kansas' No. 3 seed.


 
Charlotte Observer article on possible link between Dr. James Shortt and unnamed Panthers players.

Current Panthers reacted with surprise to the report, saying the NFL's drug-testing policy works.

Mike Rucker:

"Nothing like that is going on, not to my knowledge. And the reason I said that is you're tested so much. I was tested a couple of weeks ago out of the blue, so you don't know....I can honestly say I haven't seen anyone do it or even talk about it in the locker room."

Dan Morgan:

"You never really even hear guys talking about them in the locker room."

Jason Kyle:

"We're monitored down to cold medicine, so it would be pretty tough to get anything past those tests."


Sunday, March 13, 2005

 
Busy with ACC Hoops, among other things. I still care.


Friday, March 11, 2005

 
Busy with ACC Hoops. And getting my driver's license renewed. A bit late.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

 
Go Triad editor Jeri Rowe on the Red Bull Word Clash:

"President Bush wasn't a popular guy with this crowd, and a few statements from the stage caused some folks in the audience to grumble and twitch. Still, the event showed the power of language and the anger of young America, who feel ignored and persecuted by a country run by dough-faced white guys fueled by greed rather than compassion."

At least the young are a better able to handle persecution, as opposed to the elderly. Or is President Bush persecuting them, too?


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

 
Dan Rather's post-broadcast routine: Go home, pour two fingers of Wild Turkey and watch video tapes of this competitors' broadcasts.

Ah, what the hell. Cheers, Dan.


 
More hot air....

Dr. Deborah Fields doesn't think much of President Bush's Clear skies inititative.

Neither does Dr. Kay Jones, but for different reasons.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

 
Carolina Journal's Paul Chesser goes on the offensive against Environmental Defense.

Here's the social autopsy of the 1995 Chicago heat wave.


 
Feature story in The State on Quincy Allen, who murdered two people up the road in Dobson, among others.

I'm fairly neutral on the death penalty. Being locked up in prison for the rest of your life is no hotel, but I wouldn't lose sleep if Quincy ceased to consume oxygen.


 
School superintendent Terry Grier is taking more heat from citizens over his plan to shuffle $1 million in federal money from Dudley, Smith, Andrews and Central.

Jeff Peeler of High Point pulls no punches:

"To allow these schools to continue to receive federal funds requires Dr. Grier to be held responsible for his failures as a superintendent; he will not allow that to happen."

But what many of the critics haven't pointed out, and what the N&R has dutifully reported is two of the principals, Sam Misher of Smith and Phyllis Martin of Dudley, have said they would rather not have federal funding than be held accountable by NCLB.

Grier is responsible for taking for taking many different points of view into account. This is the interesting part: At two high schools, he has the principals speaking out, yet the parents are quiet; at two other high schools, the parents are speaking out but the principals are quiet. It would be nice if everyone would speak up.

Mind you, I'm basing this on media accounts I've read. If someone knows something different, don't let me stay in the dark.


Monday, March 07, 2005

 
Walter Williams is by far my favorite Rush-guest-host.


 
Monday mornings just get away from me so quickly........


Sunday, March 06, 2005

 
I took yesterday off to train for what I consider the best road race around, Old Town's Five-Mile Beer Run. It's at a most reasonable hour and there's a great party afterward. I'm taking a good bit of today off because my basement looks like Wharton's, and I'm finally tired of it.

But I have some thoughts with regard to Hoggard's take on this morning's N&R article on unpaid public housing loans.

I know I got fired up about St. James Homes a couple of weeks ago, but this morning's article didn't fire me up I did some independent research on the matter and have concluded that the public housing system is in need of serious reform, just like many aspects of government. It's reality.

Hoggard asks, "With such a high level of need in Greensboro for low-income housing, why are those apartments vacant?" Good question. I'll take it a step further: What exactly is the demand for public housing in Greensboro? Could it be that, with the obvious abundance of government money available for public housing, that the "market" is flooded? Could it be that, during the ongoing building boom, the free market is providing competition for public housing? Could it be that initial reforms such as vouchers are sparking that competition? Could it be that, in spite of the recent recession, there are fewer people with the need for public housing than ever before?

What also makes me think that the "market" for public housing is down is the fact that Greensboro does not have a horrific problem with homelessness. I remember Lorraine Ahearn's column that stated there were 228 known homeless people in Greensboro. That's certainly a bad situation for those 228 individuals, and I have confidence that programs are in place to help them. I also realize that's 228 "known" homeless people. But somehow I doubt that the number of uncounted homeless people would be exponentially higher than the "known" number.

Either way, that's not a huge percentage in a city of roughly 230,000 people. So it's my belief that most people in Greensboro are able to find affordable housing. That's the thing about Greenboro: While the job market or wages might not be as great as Raleigh or Charlotte, it's a lot cheaper to live here.

Help me out if I'm missing it.


Friday, March 04, 2005

 
I've thought about hockey probably twice this winter. I haven't missed it. Still, I realize a lot of people wouldn't think much of a summer without baseball, while I would be severly depressed. But this N.Y. Times article on the bid to buy all 30 NHL franchises caught my eye.

On the face of it, such a transaction would be next to impossible to pull off. Many acknowledged this, among them an investment banker who described the bid as "creative, bold and aggressive," but still had "so many hurdles to overcome."

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs simply said his team wasn't for sale.

But Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos expressed "passing interest and morbid curiosity."

As for leverage in negotiating with the players' union, "even under the unlikely prospect of wholesale new ownership, the NHL would not be able to disregard the union or impose a new collective bargaining agreement with the same difficulty current ownership faces."

But what does the whole thing mean, given the situation in which the NHL finds itself? Was the league listening because it hoped more than a few owners would express serious interest? How many owners in warm-weather climates (such as North Carolina) want to get out while they can possibly can?


 
Brett Favre's loss is Jake Delhomme's gain.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

 
I was saddened to see where former Braves pitcher Rick Mahler died of a heart attack.

Though Mahler spent most of his career with the Braves, he joined the Reds in 1990 and provided solid starting pitching during their World Series title run.


 
Revolving door at the ladies' big house:

Marth Stewart out; Manlin Chee in.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

 
Are we really paving the forests?


 
Though speed, and possibly alcohol, were contributing factors in the tragic wreck that killed two teenagers over the weekend, this sentence can't be ignored in this morning's N&R article:

"The only passenger to walk away with minor injuries was Lauren Marion, 16, who was wearing her seat belt...."

Those who ride with me know that I'm fanantical about wearing a seat belt, even on the shortest trips. It's a five-second procedure that could save your life. Very cost-effective, in my book.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

 
"A man reported to be a member of the entourage of 50 Cent was shot in the leg on Monday night at a New York City radio station where the rapper was being interviewed, police said on Tuesday."

I thought the proper term was "posse".


 
I admit I'm fascinated with St. James Homes. I'm just trying to figure out exactly what the process was on a business level that led to the complex's demise. So I spent about an hour reading the N&R's 2001 coverage. I give credit where credit is due: they did a great job.

Which makes the current situation all the more depressing. Based on the N&R's reporting back in '01, anyone could have seen that the Grahams were not the people to right the ship. After the commissioners voted to recommend that Grahams receive a $140,000 federal grant (with Wade, Yow and Arnold voting against), it was revealed that the Grahams had serious financial problems. The county was surprised, and everyone wondered why a background check wasn't done on the Grahams.

That's probably because the Grahams really did have good intentions, and came recommended by other housing groups. But the public record showed a history of unpaid bills and taxes as well as foreclosure proceedings.

HUD later got involved, not because of the Grahams' financial history but because of the project's troubled history, which was outlined by Andy Scott, director of Greensboro's housing authority. HUD was concerned about having to bail out the project, plus there was a technicality which stated one group could not receive two grants from the HOME program.

Here's the interesting part: The N&R's last article in 2001 was a staff report listing the Greensboro housing groups receiving HUD grants. The Christian Counseling and Wellness Group, the nonprofit run by the Grahams, received a $588,000 grant. That's also the last article on St. James Homes until January of this year.

It's time to move on, but perhaps some lessons will be learned from this experience.


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