sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

...Hoggard's bummed there are no good school board races this year. Most people get fired up about school board politics when their neighborhood is directly impacted, like the High Point plan and the recent redistricting.

But here's something to think about. What didn't get a lot of print at the last county commissioners' meeting was when school board chairman Alan Duncan requesting $2 million in bond money be transferred from the Jamestown Middle School project to finish other projects.

The school system said last summer it was running over budget on the $300 million package passed in 2003. But this request assures that Jamestown Middle will not be completed with money from this bond package. Where twill the money come from? It will most likely come from another bond referendum the school system will push.

That might be interesting. so here's the question: If Forsyth can come in on budget, why can't Guilford?

.....Floyd Stuart's favorite Barney Fife moment is when he gives Otis a Rorschach test.

While everyone else in Mayberry dismissed Otis as the "town drunk," Barney at least employed psychology in an effort to treat Otis' alcoholism.

.....Via Dr. Sanity: Roger Simon writes about David Corn, Rich Lowry, William Buckley and the politics of the last 30 seconds:

".....the recent bombing of the mosque in Samarra...was supposed to have started a civil war. As of this precise second, it seems that it hasn't. In fact, it may have done precisely the opposite, waking up Sunni and Shiite factions and forcing them to finally deal with other. But do I know that? And will it last? Anyone who thinks they know the answer to that is a pretentious twit, jockeying for a position in the punditocracy..."

Monday, February 27, 2006

.....N.Y. Times' Virginia Heffernan on the late, great Don Knotts:

"Actors who worked with him almost universally deferred to him as the comic grandmaster, yet his characters were not jokers but the butts of jokes. He was absolutely flappable. No one had a better tremor or double-take, and with his unmistakable homeliness — bulging eyes, receding chin, stooped shoulders, broad hips — he didn't bother to play the fool; he wisely stuck to just the fool."

What I find amazing about the artistry of "The Andy Griffith Show" is the way Knotts and Andy Griffith mastered the subtleties of rural humor after it became decidedly uncool to be a redneck.

If you watch enough episodes of Andy, you begin to notice this subtlety. So while we're celebrating Citizen's Arrest and The Loaded Goat, I'll offer a couple of my favorite line from Barney Fife.

In an early episode, when Andy is dating Ellie the druggist, a handsome young doctor moves into town. Barney's concerned that he's moving into Andy's turf, so he goes in for an undercover physical to get the scoop. The scoop is, just as Barney feared, the doctor's not married.

"Why, I don't think I ever heard of a doctor that wasn't married," Barney replied.

Then there's the motorcycle (with sidecar) episode, where Barney once again becomes the laughingstock of Mayberry. Even Andy expresses doubt about the motorcycle's value.

"Now Andy, I can expect that type of reaction from them ignorant laypeople, but not from you," Barney replies.

Goodbye to arguably the greatest television character of all time. In my book, Barney ranks only second to Archie Bunker.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

....I was heading down to Charlotte today, but I choose to live.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Remember Len Bias, says the The Washington Times' Deborah Simmons:

"Len died at his own hands, from cocaine intoxication. His untimely death 20 years left a mark on the Terrapins, college and professional basketball, Coaches Left Driesell, Bob Wade and Gary Williams and the ACC — as sports reporters ans commentators will remind you the coming weeks and months.....

"I told myself, not long after Len had gone on to glory, that I would wait to see if Maryland would reconcile itself with Len's death. It hasn't."

When I heard of Bias' death, I was in, ironically enough, Chapel Hill, the site of his career performance against Carolina: 35 points in a 75-72 overtime victory over the top-ranked Tar Heels.

I was in the Performance bike shop when I overheard the guys behind the counter talking about Bias.

"What, did he do too much coke?" one guy said.

Curious, I asked what they were talking about.

"You didn't hear about Bias? He's dead," he replied.

Pretty shocking.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

...Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton is quoted only as saying the administration's review "appears to be cursory at best" and "port security is too important to be treated this cavalierly" during hearings over the Dubai deal.

But I watched part of the hearings on CSPAN, and she grilled Robert Kimmett and Michael Jackson pretty hard. It was a bit Katie Couric, though, because Sen. Clinton's line of questionning involved reading the officials quotes from other experts and asking them to respond.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Conoleeza Rice said the administration's vetting procedure

"is supposed to be a process that raises concerns if they are there but does not presume that a country in the Middle East should not be capable of doing this."

Again, I'm having trouble imagining why this was so far under the microscope as it made its way through the federal bureaucracy. It was there for the whole world to see, Kimmit tried to explain, so the reason why the 45-day review wasn't done was because everyone signed off on it.

I'm wondering what the implications would be of a port system tied up in legislation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

...I learned today that Leonard Pitts will be speaking March 20 at the UNCG Friends of the Library dinner. I called the Friends of the Library and demanded Mr. Pitts be withdrawn because his radical liberal agenda is not suitable for impressionable young minds.

Au contaire. My friend who told me said he had a spare ticket. I'm — who knows how I will be positively inspired by hearing what Mr. Pitts has to say in person instead of in print.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

.....Last night I watched part two of the excellent PBS series Reconstruction.

The story was eerily familiar: war, occupation, free elections, terrorist violence, abandonment of the very people the U.S. government were trying to save.

We know how that story ends. Do we know how the story will end in Iraq?

.....No true sports fan would let the day pass without a tribute to the late, great Curt Gowdy...

Gowdy in the MNF booth?

"ABC Sports had wooed him to be the first play-by-play announcer for 'Monday Night Football,' but NBC would not release him from his contract."

NBC kicks him out of the baseball booth:

"....NBC forced him off the baseball beat, replacing him with Joe Garigiola a month after Mr. Gowdy called the 1975 World Series. The network denied that its decision had resulted from an accusation by an American League umpire, Larry Barnett, that Mr. Gowdy and Tony Kubek, his broadcast partner during the Series, had partly been responsible for threats on the lives of Mr. Barnett and his family. The announcers, especially Mr. Kubek, said that Mr. Barnett failed to call interference on a Cincinnati Reds pinch hitter in Game 3 of the Series against the Sox."

That's a reference, of course, to the Ed Armbrister-Carlton Fisk collision in the ninth inning of Game 3 that resulted in the winning run getting into scoring position. Personally, I didn't see any interference.......

Rest in peace, Curt Gowdy....

...In spite of conservative opposition to the takeover of operation at six major American ports, I had to believe there was more to the story. Here's an important point in this N.Y. Times article about possible legal action to prevent the takeover:

"Officials of Dubai Ports world's North American subsidiary, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the situation, said the critics' fears were misdirected because the Coast Guard and the United States customs authorities, not the terminal operators, are responsible for checking incomong cargo, passengers and crews as well as for planning and maintaining port security."

My prediction is President Bush will resist political pressure and let the deal go through. But individual states certainlt have the right to protect their interests through legal means.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

.....In this morning's N&R, the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl blows holes in the myth of spending cuts:

"Finally, there is the lazy, false stereotype that Republicans always cut spending. The plain facts refute this. Unfortunately, Congress and President Bush have expanded education and social spending much faster than President Clinton did, yet Bush has been attacked for stinginess in ways the Democrat never was."

Friday, February 17, 2006

.....Guilford County's finest orator, commissioner Steve Arnold, evoked the memory of the late Mrs. King when speaking out against economic incentives for RF Micro:

"I agree with one of my colleagues who said these folks ought to be ashamed to be here making this request. A company of their size, their background, with their capitalization, with their history, is not going to make a decision as the kind they're contemplating based on the size incentive we're offering.

"At the beginning of our meeting tonight, we had a resolution honoring the life and memory of Mrs. King. I think it's fair to say that if she stood more for anything else in her life, it was equal justice under the law. Corporate welfare or economic incentives, whatever you want to call them, whatever else they may be, are not equal justice under the law. You cannot tax the entire citizen base and give some of the proceeds of that tax revenue to a private corporation and call it equal justice. No way."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

......OK, so yesterday wasn't the last word after all. But I came across this interesting quote from Danny Schecter, author and producer of Weapons of Mass Deception:

"Saddam Hussein is probably one of the most demonized world leaders, with Dick Cheney a close second."

But considering the fact that Cheney shot someone over the weekend and Saddam Hussein so nobly tried to warn the U.S. of a terrorist attack, I'd say the VP is now the top world demon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

...Last word before I put the subject to bed for a while: 10 Ways Dick Cheney can kill you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

........Contrast: Kimberly C. Hanchette of Raleigh points out that while Dick Cheney is shooting people, John Edwards is fighting poverty......

But I thought shooting a rich white Republican lawyer is fighting poverty....

Monday, February 13, 2006

....Here's the angle the press is gunning for in the Cheney affair: Everyone had to be on the same page before they announced to thw world that the vice president shot someone.

Not "accidentally" shot, as you'll notice in the Times lead. I watched part of the press briefing with Scott McClellan and you must have heard that phrase 20 times: "The vice president shot someone." It just seemed so embedded in their minds that Cheney turned the gun on Harry Whittington and nailed him point-blank.

But in addition to its hatred for Cheney, the media are upset that they missed out on this one. The vice president's press junket wasn't with him. When I heard that local media was the first to report the incident, I praised the beat reporter who dug up the gunshot patient in Spohn Hospital who had been with the vice president just hours earlier.

Turns out it was Katherine Armstrong who called the Corpus Christi Caller Times. How long would this have been kept quiet if the public relied on media reports?

So what "page," if any, is everyone on? My guess would be Whittington's lack of hunting protocol.

.....RIP Peter Benchley:

"Even before it was published, 'Jaws,' Mr. Benchley's first novel, was becoming a sensation as word trickled out of the publishing business that a blockbuster story was on the way. Movie rights were bought up, magazine articles commissioned, and the great white shark was thrust into the spotlight in a way that foreshadowed the current national obsession with 'The Da Vinci Code.'"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

.....Interesting perspective on the career of Bob Costas, our blue-contact-wearing, cissified, tidbit-Ping-Pong-playing-with-Katie Couric emcee during NBC's Winter Olympics coverage....

Hard to believe that Costas was once the reigning smart-aleck of television sports:

"When Costas began as host of 'NFL Live' in 1984, he joined a dreary TV universe, with former athletes like Irv Cross striving for multisyllabic profundity. Still in his early 30's, Costas brought the smart-aleck panache to the proceedings; he was known in the sports pages as 'the irreverent Bob Costas.' Since then, ESPN and Fox have made sportscasting a more rambunctious art form, and nowadays no one would accuse TV sports of being colorless — just the opposite. In this world of shrieking heads, Costas finds himself as one of the few adults in the room."

Costas was also an excellent baseball announcer, in my opinion, although in later years he took on a Vin Scully-type persona. I guess it's not his fault that NBC has decided to take a pass on covering major sports in recent years.

Friday, February 10, 2006

....Next subject: dishwasher installation.

Estimated time was and hour and a half before heading to Fisher's; real time was five hours without making it to Fisher's. Sure, it's only hooking up the inflow and the outflow and wiring the hot, neutral and ground. But you have to level to get it in in the hole, and if there leaks on the first cycle, you have to pul it back out and tighten the clamps.

Then you discover the trap under the sink is dry rotted, then leaks from the water supply underneath the sink appear.

But plumbing's still fun. Just don't have other plans.

....More than a few people are worked up at Cone's over the selection of Oliver North as guest speaker at the Old North State council's Boy Scout Breakfast. A few rip Yes! Weekly editor Brian Clarey a new one for his alternate history of the BSA.

Most disappointing was Billy the Blogging Poet's comment that he e-mailed the Old North State Council and demanded "they stop Oliver North speaking. I hope the rest of you do the same."

Is this not endorsing censorship? For the life of me, I've never understood these liberals who demand the revocation of an invitation to speak when the speaker doesn't suit their political agenda, like the time Jesse Helms was turned away from Appalachian State a few years ago. If you don't agree with a speaker's politics, protest, boo, hiss, moon, whatever. But hear the guy out. (Note the other speaker turned away from the University of Michigan at the same time.)

Cone winds things up:

"....His charismatic speech is overlay partisan and often hostile to large swaths of the population--which is what makes him an unsuitable speaker for an organization like the Boy Scouts."

But again, how do we know politics will enter into his remarks? Or how do we know North won't openly address his dubious past as part of life's bigger picture?

I can only assume they would prefer President Clinton as the featured speaker.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

......I'm questioning the future effectiveness of the $15 million grant the Triad just received from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of President Bush's American Competitiveness Agenda.

The White House has admitted that "there was no standard or benchmark to measure the effectiveness of job training programs." But part of the agenda will be to closely monitor the use of federal dollars in the 12 regins that were selected for the grants.

I just got off the phone with Don Kirkman, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Partnership. He said federal officials would be working very closely with the regions to make sure the money is used effectively.

"We'll be under a microscope," Kirkman said.

But David Muhlhausen, a scholar with the Heritage Foundation, has a another view.


"This is a failed big government model. They have not shown the ability to raise the wage level of participants. Instead of letting people rely on themselves to improve their skills, the government wants to do it for them."

....Batchelor gives Sushi 101 a thumbs up. I'm with him. The wait Saturday night was almost as grueling as the mountain bike ride in the pouring rain earlier in the day. But just like the trail, the Spicy Crunchy Tuna Wrap was worth it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

....It seems as though President Bush had two choices: attend Coretta Scott King's funeral and get slammed or blow it off and get slammed. One can only imagine the reaction had Bush chosen the latter.

But was Bush's presence absolutely required, much less that of his father? Carter and Clinton are Southerners and thus forever linked to the civil rights movement by proximity, if nothing else. So their presence was appropriate, even if Carter's remarks were not. But while the Kings were marching in the trenches, Bush was busy being stickball commissioner at Phillips Academy.

...I'm back.....I've had to spend every minute of spare time researching a subject which I will share later......

....Meanwhile, Thomas Sowell lays it on the line:

"With Iran adavancing step by step toward nuclear weapons, while the Europeans wring their hands and the United Nations engages in leisurely discussion, this squeamishness about terrorists' phone contacts in the United States in grotesque."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

N&R editorial:

"What does Bush think Karl Rove's aggressive campaign tactics accomplish other than to provoke Howard Dean into a like response?"

Provoke Howard Dean? The dude's chronically provoked. One thing he's not, however: real popular in North Carolina.

The Winston-Salem Journal's Scott Sexton, commenting on Dean's recent visit to the Triad:

"You would think that Democratic honchos in the state might want to be seen with the leader of the national Democratic Party. But a funny thing happened on the way to Dean's Bush bash. Apparently, the state's top elected Democrats would rather be seen cross-dressing in church than be seen with Howard Dean."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

.....Things go from bad to worse for James Frey. Will this guy ever publish another book? I also have a sneaking suspicion that any pending movie deals have been called off.

For me, here's the key: Frey thought about publishing "A Million Little Pieces" as an autobiographical novel. He should of held out.

Frey's agent:

"Early in the submission process, James raised the issue of whether he could publish it as an autobiographical novel, only, he said, to spare his family undue embarrassment, not because it wasn't true. I told him I would bring it up with a few publishers, which I did, and the response was unanimous: if the book was true, it should be published as a memoir."

How about this: Publishers didn't think the book would sell as many copies as a novel. But why? Can intelligent readers not assume that novels told in the first person are reflecting real-life experience, depending on the time setting?

Like this passage from The Kite Runner, where Amir describes his father's U.S. politics following their flight from Soviet Afghanistan:

"He loathed Jimmy Carter, whom he called a 'big-toothed cretin.' In 1980, when we were still in Kabul, the U.S. announced it would be boycotting the Olympic Games in Moscow. 'Wah wah!' Baba exclaimed with disgust. "Brezhnev is massacring Afghans and all that peanut eater can say is I won't come swim in your pool.' Baba believed Carter had unwittingly done more for communism than Leonid Brezhnev......

"What America and the world needed was a hard man. A man to be reckoned with, someone who took action instead of wringing his hands. That someone came in the form of Ronald Reagan. And when Reagan went on TV and called the Shorawi 'the Evil Empire,' Baba went out and bought a picture of the grinning president giving a thumbs up. He framed the picture and hung it in our hallway, nailing it right next to the old black-and-white of himself in his thin necktie shaking hands with King Zahir Shah."

Real, or made up? We don't know for sure, but it's still a compelling point of view.


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