sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I'm intrigued with the San Antonio-Phoenix matchup in the Western Conference finals. In my mind, Spurs-Pistons is the matchup we should've gotten last year, instead of the ugliness that would be the demise of the Lakers. Tim Duncan is a better matchup for Ben Wallace, right? So I'm pulling for the Spurs.

Yet, Duncan has a rap for lacking the killer instinct. It was symbolized in last night's game when he went up for the dunk that would have put the Spurs within a point and was stuffed by Amare Stoudemire.

I'll say this much about the Spurs: They wanted to close it out last night. But the Suns were too hot, hitting clutch shots down the stretch. They're a good team, led by the league MVP, mind you. They're not going to go away easily

Could we be watching the second comeback from 0-3 deficit in less than a year?

Michael, via Cone, ponders the vestiges of institutional racism in Greensboro.

I thought about that question this morning as I was loading up my groceries in the Friendly Center Harris Teeter. I could hear someone jamming loudly to "Thriller" in the background, and it was a pleasant eye-opener on a lethargic Tuesday morning following a holiday weekend. When I looked over, an African-American grandmother, probably in her late 50s and dressed up in a hip-hop outfit that would rival any I've seen, was locking up her bright red convertible.

Institutional racism alive in Greensboro? Maybe. But I'd say that lady's done pretty well for herself.

Congratulations to everyone for a successful Hoggfest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Seen it all? Tommy Lasorda has a blog.

Going the other way......

A friend of mine has gotten me fired up over the Dylan-Willie Nelson concert at First Horizon Park next month. In preparation, I've been listening to Dylan's Bootleg Series, Vol. 3. One song I hope to hear, and which would be appropriate considering the venue, is "Catfish," Dylan's tribute to Hall of Fame pitcher and native son Catfish Hunter:

"Used to work on Mr. Finley's farm
But the old man wouldn't pay
So he packed his glove and took his arm
And one day he just ran away

Catfish, million-dollar man
Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

Come up where the Yankees are
Dress up in a pinstripe suit
Smoke a custom-made cigar
Wear an aliigator boot

Catfish, million-dollar man
Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can."

"I'm not talkin, I'm not talkin', the more you're askin' the more I'm balkin'."

N.Y. Times obit on Howard Morris, aka Ernest T. Bass.

Who would have thought: Ernest T. came down from the Bronx.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another symbol of happier times takes a hit, but remains standing.

Mets catcherMike Piazza gets an autographed baseball from Rush Limbaugh.

"It was like meeting George Washington," Piazza said.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The N&R supports state House and Senate bills that would establish a global warming climate change commission, evidence the General Assembly is "wisely looking ahead at ways to anticipate, address and perhaps circumvent the most environmental impacts here in North Carolina."

The N&R is basing its support on the view of Duke University professor William Schlensinger, who believes "we have about a 20 year-window to make a significant impact. We are going to see some warming no matter what."

I'd say we're off to a damn good start without global warming/climate change commission. Duke Power is about to begin what the N&R called "one of the most costly pollution-cutting projects in Triad history."

Construction of scrubbers and selective catalytic converters will reduce nitrus oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury from the air. The $500 million project is a major step toward reducing air pollution even more in North Carolina. It's the result of the Clean Smokestacks Act, which, in my mind, says that our state legislature is already effectivelty dealing with the problem. Why, then, is a 30-member commission needed to further deal with it?

That's right: In 20 years, the air will be so clean that the danger of global warming will be even greater.

I know you guys are tired of reading this, but I'm still struggling with a tight schedule. But it's let up a bit, so I hopefully am primed for more regular posts. It's felt good to focus on more peaceful pursuits such as gardening and lawn-cutting instead of banging my head against the wall over the doings of our local governments, not to mention the editorials of our paper of record.

Something else: I've taken a part-time job loading trucks with a local package delivery company that shall remain nameless. It's only 4-5 hours per day, but the combination of print freelance work ( which was going well a couple of weeks ago), various family activities and the resultant fatigue from physical labor left me little time for blogging.

One piece of advice: When you ship something, wrap it tight, with lots of padding. The chances of it being dropped, stepped on or slammed against the wall of a truck (with the loader shouting "Scan, you whore!") are good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Every day I tell myself that the hiatus is over. Then I keep going about my business, trying to maintain a sane lifestyle while taking care of various business and chores around the house, which now include keeping the grass cut and the garden maintained.

As for the Newsweek debacle, Kathleen Parker suggests conservatives take the high road. Fair enough. Remember, this is the same magazine who called George H.W. Bush, World War II veteran, Yale varsity baseball player and 80-year-old skydiver a wimp 15 years ago. Shows you what they know. I can probably count the number of times on one hand I've picked up a copy of Newsweek in that time. It's an irrelevent publication in my mind.

People are also pointing out that Michael Isikoff is the same guy who broke the Clinton-Lewinsky story. Right. But what happened? Newsweek sat on the story as long as it could before the competition started getting wind of it.

I just have to ask: Why the desperation on the part of the mainstream media? What are they hoping to accomplish?

Friday, May 13, 2005

I watched with interest the Guilford County Board of Education's debate on raising its compensation. I was also a bit surprised at the N&R's editorial reaction, which cut board members no slack:

"School board members may think they should be paid more, and they may be right. But they decided to run for the office despite the meager salary. They should accept that and turn their attention to more important funding issues. Raising their own pay won't improve education in Guilforde County one bit."

But in my mind, the majority of board members made their case for at least a slight increase in pay. I thought Kris Cooke's proposal was the most reasonable: $250 per month over the next two years. It's a gradual raise and yet still slightly less than what county commissioners earn.

The most compelling argument came from Dot Kearns, who pointed out that school board members, unlike the county commissioners, have no administrative support. There's no central office, no central phone line, no staff. Mind you, the county commissioners are busy men and women who, for the most part, are doing a lot of county business out of their places of business. But if they need it, the help's there.

The way I see it, everyone, and mean everyone, deserves somne sort of raise in pay over the last 12 years. I also think the concept of "getting what you pay for" also comes into play. Kearns made the comment that the task before board members is "one of the most critical in the nation." And while this is comparing apples to oranges to a certain extent, board chairman Alan Duncan, while suggesting a raise in pay for Terry Grier, said that the school superintendent's job is probably the most important in the county.

So who does hold a more important job, school board members or county commissioners? When answering this question, it helps to keep in mind that that the schools make up the majority of the county's budget. The way the county commissioners are acting these days (or is it every day?), it becomes a more difficult question.

Then again, the board could just cut the $500,000 in "anti-racism" training from Crossroads Ministries, and there wouldn't be a problem with raising the board's pay. Right?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It should be obvious by now that this guy does not belong behind the wheel of a race car.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm still coping with adjustments to my work and writing schedule. Basically, my normal writing time has been drastically shortened. I was getting a bit sensitive to firing off angry, hyper-caffeinated posts anyway, and I think the shortened writing periods would only exacerbate that problem.

But the fact that intelligent readers like Guarino still check in is enough to keep me going. I'm gojng to experiment with an altered schedule this week.

That said, interesting lead to N&R wire service story in today's life section:

"No matter which route Reginald Burns takes when he drives to work each morning in Houston, he knows every doughnut shop along the way. Almost every day, he stops for a fix: a Diet Coke and six doughnuts — any kind as long as they have just emerged from the fryer."

Six doughnuts? Okay. Diet Coke? Gross.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I've been very busy lately and thus unable to adequately digest all what's going out there.

I'm also pretty depressed. The Reds are on an eight-game losing streak. It would suck if they dropped out of the pennant race before I've even had the chance to watch them.

Then today I find out we're doomed. Doomed, I tell you.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Elvis hasn't left the building, and he probably never will:

"A mulitmedia marketing blitz with a budget estimated at $10 to $20 million is under way to promote a new round of entertainment programming about Elvis Presley.

Also on tap: A 24-hour Presley music channel, called Elvis Radio, which will be among the choices offered by Sirius.


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