sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

.....The N&R's Doug Clark takes a shot at his former boss, the late, not-so-great Randall Terry.

Clark's best Terry tale:

"At a company picnic employees were allowed to choose two meets from among a hot dog, hamburger ans chicken. Terry went down the line collecting his hot dog and hamburger, then asked for a piece of chicken. A teenaged server, who obviously had no idea who he was, explained that she wasn't allowed to grant his request. 'Give it to me,' he barked at the startled girl. 'I paid for this damn picnic.'"

Little wonder the poor girl had no idea who Terry was; he didn't dress like a rich man. Like Clark, I was a High Point Enterprise employee for two years and had only brief encounters with Terry. One I remember was when a water main broke at the Enterpise offices, flooding the building. Employees were hurriedly evacuated, and Triad Business News was bascially shut down for the day.

After a while, I absolutely had to go back to retrieve my briefcase. I walked in, and workers were everywhere trying to dy out the place. The first person I encountered was this old guy dressed in a cheap, striped golf shirt and brown polyester slacks. The crew foreman, I thought to myself. Nope. Terry himself, overseeing the operation.

Then there's this observation from a fellow newspaper owner during an interview for TBN. He was Terry's fraternity brother at Duke.

"I here he's even stranger than he was at Duke. And he was pretty strange then."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

......Filmmakers Matthew Jacobson and Kevin Willmont imagine the South winning the Civil War.

.....The N&R's Rob Daniels is a good beat writer, but I'm not a huge fan of his weekly sports column, especially when I have to read this:

"The same cannot be said for some of the Harris Interactive group, which, at 114 members, is about as large as the sample size for surveys involving issue of social and politcal import. Their final votes which contribute one-third of the formula determining the BCS title-game competitors, will be made public."

Come again? I'm only on half a cup of coffee.

Daniels is talking abouth the polling group put together by Harris Interactive Media that, along with computerized rankings and the USA Today Coaches poll, will formulate the BCS standings for this college football season. The credibility of the Harris group was an issue as it was being put together, and Daniels is right to question that credibility.

The complete list is available here. Some of the more notable names: Terry Bradshaw (like Brentson Buckner, isn't he prepping for the NFL on Saturdays?), Earle Bruce, Bill Dooley, Lou Holtz, Rocket Ismail, Dick Sheridan, Boomer Esiason, Pat Haden, Mike McGee, Craig Morton, Anthony Munoz.

Is this group any more credible than the Associated Press poll? That's a tough question. The only thing I know is this setup is just a different version of the same thing. As a result, it's possible we won't have a clear-cut national champion at the end of the season.

Monday, August 29, 2005

....Results of the GetDown! Town 5k. You don't have to scroll too far......

........In the first few minutes of today's show, Rush Limbaugh made reference to "Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel".

Anyone who has seen Ms. vanden Heuvel on TV knows there's a virtual hurricane of liberalism behind that sweet smile and those knowing eyes.

......An irate Cubs fan issues a harsh assessment of Dusty Baker's managerial skills:

"Under-managers like Baker are likable and trust their players, but they do not squeeze in runs, and they assume that the natural talent of their players will bring victory. They don't school their players on fundamentals, telling reporters that the assumption is that players learned them in high school. They are philosophical about defeat. They are losers."

By the way, the Reds just tied the Cubs for fourth place in the N.L. Central.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

.....Man, did I get caught up in Get DownTown Greensboro last night. I did the 5k race, in a respectable 23 minutes. (Results not posted yet.) Then it was off to the beer garden. Runners got free tickets, but people, for whatever reason, were more than willing to give away their tickets. So about half my $25.00 entry fee was repaid in Natty Greene's Buckshot.

One thing that amazes me when I hang out with younger people: the later the hour, the bigger the crowd. Students kept filing through the beer ten in invreasing numbers as I became more and more aware my bedtime was approaching. Most of them were young ladies wearing the same uniform you see at a Monday night Panthers game: halter top blouse, hip-hugging jeans and high-heeled sandals.

The route home was down Elm Street. No lie: It was shoulder-to-shoulder on both sides of the sidewalk. Our city was hopping last night.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

.....I'll pick up on this Cone post regarding the TRC hearings.

So Chewie doesn't like the media coverage of the hearings. Imagine that. Thirty-second sound bites and a 1,500-word article not getting the true gist of hours and hours of testimony. But it's all I've got to work with.

What I found interesting was the testimony of Judge James Long, who presided over the 1980 criminal case. Surely everyone would agree that Long is a truly impartial and credible witness, considering the fact that he had nothing to do with the events of 11/3/79 as they unfolded. He was just trying to pick up the pieces.

The most interesting part:

"......Prosecutors decided not to use evidence they had initially thought would help their case: a sound analysis of gunshots fired at the scene. An agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation tried to use the sound from television footage to determine where the shots came from — but discovered that 18 of 39 shots fired came from positions occupied by demonstrators......"

Long also takes the viewpoint that "prosecutors had little cooperation from the surviving members of the CWP — many of whom vowed the trial would be a sham and refused to testify......disruptions in the courtroom by CWP members — including the release of a stinkbomb — did little to win the jury's support."

Here's my question: If surviving CWP members did indeed believe a jury trial would be a sham, then how exactly did they expect their grievance to be redressed?

I was going to respond to that question with another question: How can the TRC redress a grievance that "two long and expensive criminal trials" couldn't? But I have to be fair. Without the hearings and the media coverage, I wouldn't be able to sit here and ask these questions.

.....The economics of a proud old battleship...... Camping out on the USS North Carolina:

"Cramped spaces where part of the ship's 2,300 crew members once lived would provide berths for about 175 Scouts and others looking for a night out, Navy style.

"But state officials say the accomodations would not meet standards for safety or access by people with disabilities, and are calling for modifications that battleship officials say are impractical in a historic warship."

The Battleship North Carolina Commission wants to "add camping as part of a $1.6 million renovation that would also include exhibit areas on the main deck, new air conditioning and bathrooms. Overnight berths would be available for the first time on lower decks where sailors once scurried thorugh tunnel-like passageways and narrow hatches."

The battleship, which served at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, "does not receive state appropriations."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

....I just now read this N.Y. Times article on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' days at Harvard. The article was less about Roberts than it was Harvard during the mid-to-late 1970s, a time when conservatism was, shall we say, in the closet:

"'Conservatives were like the queers on on campus,' said Eric Rofes, a Harvard College classmate of Judge Roberts who later became a community organizer on gay issues. 'People made fun of them. They mocked them and saw them as jokers or losers. I don't think in the moment many people realized this was the start of an ascending movement. People felt like it was the last cry of the 1950's instead of something new.'"

......The next question is whether or not Lance Armstrong will ever rest in peace.

The French media need to take a clue from the American media about timing. Perhaps this story would have run better during the Tour de France. Even if it is true that Armstrong was doping in '99, so what? Kind of like the Bush National Guard story breaking in mid-November.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

....Dr. Laura on Cindy Sheehan:

"Who in their right mind would meet with a screaming meanie who calls you a liar and a terrorist? Osama bin Laden in her mind is a better person than President Bush."

.......Will Roger Maris ever rest in peace? His legacy as the single-season home-run king was dogged for years by the famous asterisk. Now, he has to play second fiddle to (alleged) steroid users Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

But here's one stain on Maris' legacy that can be finally put to rest:

"The family of former home run king Roger Maris and Anheuser-Busch settled a defamation lawsuit stemming from the brewer's termination of the family's beer distributorship.....

"The legal fight between Anheuser Busch and the Maris family had consumed eight years, three trials and millions of dollars in legal fees. The company had given Roger Maris and his brother, Rudy, the distributorship after the slugger ended his career in 1968 with the St. Louis Cardinals.....

"Maris' relatives accused the brewer of defamation after company officials said the family's distributorship was deficient and and sold repackaged, out-of-date beer. The family claimed in court that St. Louis-based Anheuser Busch plotted to destroy their reputation as part of a larger scheme to seize the best-performing distributors for Busch family relatives and friends."

Maris attorney Willie Gary:

"This whole ball of wax is settled. Both parties are going their separate ways."

I'll toast Roger Maris this weekend. But with an Ice House.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

.....Connecticut is the first state to challenge the No Child Left Behind Act in court, asking "a federal judge to declare that the federal government cannot require state and local money be used to meet federal testing goals."

I've heard both teachers and our school board complain about NCLB. I'm sympathetic. But federal, state and local governments hand down unfunded mandates all the time, right? The first thing that comes to my mind are environmental regulations and conditional-use zoning requirements.......

Monday, August 22, 2005

.....Cutting edge op-ed: Krugman revisits the election. The 2000 election.

Dr. Sanity puts in her two cents' worth.

...But the talk wasn't always politics on Saturday night. As we sat at First Horizon Park and watched single-A prospects try to play their way to the major leagues, my neighbor discussed why middle-market teams such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Kansas City (which just broke its 19-game losing streak over the weekend) were having such trouble regenerating their minor league systems. It seems like most teams were able to rebuild in ten-year cycles when their crop of young players would mature.

It had to do with pitching, we concluded. Too many young prospects are blowing their arms out. As a result, big-market teams like the Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams able to sign experienced big-league pitchers. Even that doesn't work out, as the Yankees are finding out this season.

Then I read this N.Y. Times article on the former Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall, who a set a record with 106 appearances in 1974. His durability gained him a reputation as a "physical freak", while his strong personality and intellectual approach to the game made managers and coaches uncomfortable.

Now Marshall trains young pitchers to avoid injury at his Florida research center. What baffles him is the fact that no major league teams are willing to contract for his center's services:

"We need to eliminate pitching injuries. I don't understand why baseball, with all the money they have invested in pitchers, doesn't research this. The stress that pitchers put on their elbow creates Tommy John surgeries. No pitcher I've trained has had a pitching arm injury."

One team, however did show interest in Marshall's program:

"The Reds has an assistant general manager who was interested in my program......But they changed general managers and they dropped me. Dan O'Brien wasn't interested in having me there."

The Reds' team ERA: 5.26.

Fire Dan O'Brien at the end of this season.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My first trip to First Horizon Park last night. Decent crowd, though not overflowing. Perhaps the earlier afternoon thunderstorms kept people away. Our fair city does have a nice skyline, with a little bit of everything mixed in.

I was keeping an eye out for the availability of water, since the stadium won't allow you to bring it in. I was pleased to see an abundance was water fountains at every restroom. I guess you ask for a cup at the Grandstand and fill up. Or you could rinse out your beer cup. But I wasn't drinking water, anyway.

Then it was off to Cafe Europa for more drinks. While talking, I realized what a challenge I faced because the majority of my company was blue and were not afraid of voicing their opinions on certain matters. How could could I state my views without engaging in a full-scale debate?

Two of my neighbors said they were patriotic for about two hours after 9/11 before seeing the footage of members of Congress singing 'God Bless America'. Somehow that scene made them cynical all over again.

How to respond to that? I simply shared how my views were shaped after 9/11. I was sitting on the couch with my kind, sweet, lovely wife, watching 9/11 coverage, when, once again, the infamous photo of Mohamed Atta appeared on the screen. My kind, sweet, lovely wife got off the couch, gave him the finger and shouted "Fuck you!"

Since that moment, I've been a strong supporter of the war on terror. And I'm not cynical at all.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Interesting lunch at Chick Fil-A today.

First of all, I'm sitting there eating my lunch when none other than Truett Cathy walks in. No big deal. He stood in line just like everybody else, paid for his lunch, sat by himself and ate it, tossed his tray and left.

Then a young girl got into a febder-bender in the parking lot. I watched the whole thing unfold. At one point she was balling (oops, I think the word is bawling), and people were trying to console her and find the owner of the damaged car.

It probably was her first wreck. I remember watching the aftermath of another wreck involving a young female driver. I was doing tree work at the time, and my buddy and I pulled into one of the old roadside stores at Guilford College and Jamestown Roads while that area was still countryside. Parked in the lot was a sedan with a smashed-in hood. The young lady (and her friend) were waiting by the car when her father pulls up. He was obviouusly and busy, hard-working guy. He had his phone with him, only this was the old early-90s hamhock that eveyone carried around.

He stood there and listened intently, then let his daughter have it. I couldn't make out exactly what he said. But whatever it was, he made her cry.

Randy Moss smoking grass. Never would have guessed.

The funny part is the response from his agent, Dante DiTrapano, who accuses HBO of quoting Moss out of context:

"In an attempt to promote their dying network, they have maliciously couched his remarks in a manner that is confusing and leaves room for negative interpretation."

HBO spokesman Ray Stallone:

"It's worth noting that the portion of the interview to which Mr. Ditrapano appears to be referencing was complete and unaltered. We believe Randy's remarks speak for themselves."

Why do people insist on playing with tigers?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Is it me, or does the N&R's new Web site take forever to load?

At any rate, Cindy Sheehan dominates today's N&R, with a story on local protesters supporting her cause, a lead editorial urging President Bush to meet with her and a letter to the editor from Tony Moschetti compalining that the media is not telling the whole story on this very complicated matter.

The matter is complicated because, as Cone says, Ms. Sheehan is both a grieving individual and a symbol, and merging the two is what complicates things. Still, people have an overall simplistic view of the matter.

For example, the N&R urges President Bush to honor Ms. Sheehan's requst to meet with her. A couple of weeks ago, that might not have been an unreasonable request, regardess of the fact that the two have already met. But if the N&R thinks the president will meet with Ms. Sheehan now that is involved, then they have another thought coming.

Then there's Melinda Ivey, who according to the article, "had thought about what it would be like to have a son or daughter fighting in the war. The notion gave her grim determination.

"'They'd have to come right through my dead body to get my child,' she said."

But one day it might not be Ms. Ivey's decision whether or not her daughter fights in a war. Her daughter will grow up to become a woman and might decide to join the volunteer army, as did Ms. Sheehan's late son. And when you join, you go where they say, right or wrong. Or daughter might join out of a belief in a cause that so many other military men and women believe in.

And if nobody volunteered for the Army? Then it might be wise to have a gun in your closet when the enemy comes calling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My next assignment: An article on direct-to-consumer advertising by the pharmaceutical industry. Here are the basics, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The organization has already announced voluntary guidelines.

Interestingly enough, a Greensboro company, Merz Pharmaceuticals, is a leader in direct-to-consumer advertsing with its commercials for its skin care products, most notably Mederma.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This is for real........Mr. Rogers definitely didn't put his street shoes back on before walking out the door.....I watched very closely.

Voters in Mecklenburg County will face over a half-billion dollars in bonds when they walk into the booth in November.........

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Via Carolina Journal, syndicated columnist Scott Mooneyham warns against legislation that would ban smoking in prison:

"Georgia banned prison smoking in 1994, only to rescind the policy two years later....Prison officials later acknowledged that smoking is a key pacifier that helps keep order."

Makes sense to me.

The head dude of the whole noonday sort-and-load came in my truck yesterday and let me hear it about missorts. Too many, he said, and he asked for a commitment from me to read the zips more carefully. Put me in a pretty bad mood for a while, considering the crazy flow that comes down the chutes.

Then I noticed my supervisor, who's a pretty cool guy, walking around with a grim look on his face for a good part of the day.

"You saw my boss walking around with me," he said. "That's not necessarily good for me."

So when I screw up and hear about it, my supervisor more than likely hears about it, too. Gee, I'd never thought about it like that. I'll try to do better.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bobby Knight, reality TV star.

N.Y. Times obit on Peter Jennings:

"As an anchor, Mr. Jennings presented himself as a worldly alternative to Mr. Brokaw's plain=spoken Midwestern manner and Mr. Rather's folksy, if at times offbeat, Southern charm. He neither spoke like many of his viewers ('about' came out of his mouth as A-BOOT, a remant of his Canadian roots) nor looked liked them, with a matinee-idol face and crisply tailored wardrobe that were frequently likened in print to those of James Bond."

Skip Bayless questions Steve Young's first-ballot entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

"Objective 49ers fans won't forget the Cowboys beat Young's 49ers in the NFC Championship Games at Candlestick Park following the '92 season and at Texas Stadium the next January. He did not look like a first-ballot immortal in either of those games."

About Young's Super Bowl win, Bayless writes:

"...the 49ers faced yet another AFC team that did not belong on the same Super Bowl field with them — San Diego. Young again was masterful, throwing a Super Bowl record six TD passes in a 49-26 blowout. But that performance against that lousy team elevated him onto the same Hall podium with Marino?"

I'll take Bayless one step further — I question whether or not Young belongs in the Hall of Fame at all. Don't get me wrong — Young was an exciting quarterback to watch. But does two MVPs, the highest passer rating of all time and one Super Bowl win merit entry into the Hall of Fame?

The NFL has had many exciting quarterbacks pass through the league — Roman Gabriel, Ken Stabler, Joe Theisman and Jim Plunkett come to mind — who are not in the Hall of Fame. I'd say Young ranks more in line with them than Dan Marino.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'm back, again. This time, Blogger was disabled for some time (at least on my server) and I didn't have the time or the patience to figure out how to get it going again.

I honestly wondered if this might be the end of the blogging scene for me. It really did seem like blogs had become like a******s: Everybody's got one. But I'm really making an effort to ramp up the freelance writing, and it would be crazy not to have blog to compliment that effort.

My latest assignment: covering the proposed half-billion dollar school bond for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.

Mecklenburg County commissioners will debate Tuesday whether or not to place the bond on the November ballot. And some are actually worried about the cost to the taxpayer.


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