sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 
.....Meanwhile, the N&R's Doug Clark has some thoughts on the TRC executive summary:

"Political........Especially the recommendations, which borrow heavily from the vocabulary of 'progressive' politics: grass-roots organizers, economic justice, reparations, living wage, anti-racism training, cross-cultural trust, capital, labor, race, poverty, oppression, privilege......

"I'm for mourning and memorializing the dead -- but no one with any responsibility for that day's bloody blunders deserves to be made a martyr.

"Yet the commission wants to give them a legacy: reparations paid to "organizations advocating for civil and workers rights and other economic justice initiatives"; a "living wage" for public employees and contract workers; increased funds for social services and public health; a police review board with subpoena and enforcement power; a community justice center; jurors selected from welfare rolls if they're not on the registered voter lists; anti-racism training for just about everyone; and, of course, an official apology."

I'll add that part of that legacy would be a greatly expanded governmental and educational bureaucracy. Among the "institutional reforms" suggested:

"All city and county employees should be paid a living wage, and all city and county subcontactors should be required to pay workers a living wage....

"All city and county employees should engage in anti-racism training....

"The proposed public monument honoring those killed and wounded on Nov. 3, 1979 would be planned and funded under the auspices of the city's Human Relations Commission.....

"The Guilford County Board of Commissioners should commit to addressing the need for increasing funding to Departments of Social Services and Public Health....

"Citizens as well as city and state officials should push for enabling legislation, if necessary, to create a community justice center in Greensboro, then make sure its existence is well-publicized."

I saved the best for last:

"The Commission recommends that the Guilford County Schools contract with an appropriate curriculum development provider to create a curriculum for elementary and secondary schools about the context, causes, context and sequence and consequences of Nov. 3, 1979."

Clark writes "the commission embraced the social and political aspirations of the Communist Workers Party participants and turned its wrath on the city of Greensboro."

I'd say so. And probably with not a lot of thought about who's going to pay for those social and political aspirations.


 
.....The N&R (unposted) reports that students at the new Elon University law school will park at the Duke Power property on the corner of Friendly Avenue and Church Street.

I had to laugh at this paragraph:

"From car door to class door, the distance measures three blocks or three-tenths of a mile. That may seem like an easy stroll, but the first block from Church to Davie Street is all uphill. Plus, students will be lugging backpacks and satchels filled with thick legal tomes."

At least they won't get fat. The three-block haul will help offset the long hours of sitting involved while studying law.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 
Pin me.

I read with interest the executive summary of the TRC report. I encourage average citizens to read it, because it answers many questions that articles and editorial positions by local media don't.

What caught my attention was the report's analysis of the media's role in covering the event and its aftermath:

"The media played an important role in the community's response to this tragedy. While newspapers fulfilled their duty to report the basic facts of the event, in general we find the mainstream newspapers failed to provide in-depth coverage of the context of the shooting. There was little coverage of why the conflict happened in Greensboro or of police involvement. Rather, the daily coverage tended to focus blame on the two 'outsider extremist' sides: the CWP and Klan/Nazis. On the other hand, we found the weekly African-American-owned Carolina Peacemaker with a predominantly African-American readership provided more in-depth contextual coverage, better allowing its readers to decide for themselves the meaning of the event."

But notice the list of in-kind donors at the end of the report. In-kind donations include "gifts for our volunteers, hosting our website, providing images, and text from newspaper coverage, meeting space, food, assistance with security for our events, technical services and equipment for our public hearings and television programs."

Every local print outlet is listed as an in-kind donor: The N&R, the Peacemaker, Yes! Weekly and, somewhat surprisingly, The Rhinoceros Times.

OK, I realize that the publications' participation is probably limited to "text and images from newspaper coverage."

But does that participation, on whatever level, compromise objectivity when covering and analyzing the report?


 
.....Rick Martinez is confused. So am I.

Martinez recently took a little trip to Davidson.

"If there is a prettier town in North Carolina than Davidson, I haven't come across it. Every house I saw as I drove through town looked freshly painted. I couldn't find a blade of grass out of place. Downtown is clean, even bright, and it bustles with paying customers, instead of Lookie-Lou tourists. The hometown of Davidson College could easily be mistaken for a movie set.

"The serenity that settled into my bones as I crossed into the city limits last week shattered once I entered town hall. Staring down at me like a stalker was an impressive, big-time award from the Environmental Protection Agency for excellence in -- and this really hurts -- Smart Growth.

"I can't stand Smart Growth."

I can't stand Smart Growth, either. But get this — I was begging for a little Smart Growth last Friday as I sat gridlocked in lunchtime Cary traffic, watching the needle on my engine creep steadily toward the red 'H'. How about a little light rail to ease this congestion, I thought to myself, right before the loud bang under the hood let me know my radiator hose had broken.

Everything worked out fine, as a kind Jiffy Lube manager secured a new hose and threw it on. Then the strangest thing happened. As I wound my way through Cary, through downtown Raleigh at 5p., I noticed the traffic had eased considerably. Practically disappeared. Maybe they were already at the beach. Maybe not.

Who needs TTA, I thought to myself.

I'm confused.


Monday, May 29, 2006

 
.....Another brief hiatus, due to a busy Memorial Day weekend and a downed Internet connection due to my Vonage router.

Activities planned for today, will be back in full force later.....


Thursday, May 25, 2006

 
.......I walked up to Fisher's last night to catch the Canes-Sabres game. I usually feel safe jaywalking across Elm Street because there's not much traffic at that hour. But as I cut across the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church, I noticed the brand new pedestrian crosswalk across from the new Magnolia Place condos. I decided to take it, and I honestly felt safer and more secure as I crossed the street. Not such bad things, I thought to myself.

Once safely ensconced in Fisher's, I enjoyed the perfect sports fan's evening. Normally I prefer autumn, when the baseball pennant races and playoffs run merge with football season. But spring's not so bad either. Last night, I enjoyed a fast-paced, extremely physical matchup between two great hockey teams, saw the Yankees get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth against the Red Sox, then finished the evening watching Steve Nash take charge.

I feel good today.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 
......Yet another interesting discussion over at Cone's, this time on global warming.

I'll start with this post about Gregg Easterbrook's NYT opinion piece. What I found interesting was the fact that after Eastbrook states that he's switching sides on global warming from "skeptic to convert," he offers a free market solution to the problem, offering evidence that such solutions have worked in the past:

"In 1991, Congress created a profit incentive to reduce acid rain: a system of tradable credits that rewards companies that make the fastest reductions. Since 1991 acid rain emissions have declined 36 percent, and the cost has been only 10 percent of what industry originally forecast.

"Today no one can make money by reducing greenhouse gases, so emissions rise unchecked. But a system of tradable greenhouse permits, similar to those for acid rain, would create a profit incentive. Engineers and entrepreneurs would turn to the problem. Someone might even invent something cheap that would spread to the poorer countries, preventing reductions here from being swamped elsewhere. Unlikely? Right now reformulated gasoline and the low-cost catalytic converter, invented here to contain smog, are becoming common in developing nations."

It turns out that's exactly the cap and trade program President Bush announced last year to reduce mercury emissions, which predictably drew fire from environmental groups.

Then there's yesterday's post, which discusses Pete duPont's WSJ op-ed.

Cone writes:

"I do know that the WSJ's position is, in essence, 'our opponents have been correct and effective to date, but don't believe them now.' And that just isn't very convincing."

Obviously, the environmental lobby has been effective over the last 36 years. duPont presents the evidence supporting such effectiveness, as do other air quality experts. But based on the scare tactics on which environmental groups rely, it just doesn't seem like they believe it themselves. And that doesn't make their arguments very convincing right now.

Nor does blatant politicization.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 
....More mental health, or lack thereof.....

Michael Hayes could be on the streets this fall.


 
......Michael Novak in AEI:

"What I do want to argue is that, after Washington and Lincoln, Bush is the bravest of our presidents. He has faced the most intense fire, hatred, contempt, heavily moneyed and bitterly acidic partisan opposition, underhandedness, betrayal, of any president in the last hundred years. He has faced hostility over a longer time, in possibly the most dangerous period of international warfare in our national history. He has remained constant, firm, decided, and generous (to a fault) with his opponents. "

Stark contrast to this Yes! Weekly editorial which places President Bush's mental clarity on equal footing with that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"From his first day in office forward, Bush has been exhibiting a scary messiah streak, although Christians are becoming increasingly divided about the president’s authenticity as a professing member of the faith. All we can say to Bush and his neocon circle is, 'That nagging little voice of caution you suppressed during the run-up to Iraq — now is not the time to ignore it.'

'The problem is that the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be a little unhinged himself, judging by his call to have Israel 'wiped off the map.'”

Uh-huh.


 
....Of course the war in Iraq will be a major mid-term election issue. So will the Medicare prescription drug benefit, says The Washington Times. But which party will feel the heat?

"Opinion polls in support of the benefit are off the chart. And apparently Democratic strategists are telling candidates to cool their anti-benefit rhetoric. Republican congressmen are planning to run on the issue, and Democratic Party congressional challengers are getting nervous about their aggressive negative stand fed to them to by their party's spinmeisters. And we wouldn't be surprised if Democratic Party challengers will have wished they had not bought into their party's propaganda on this point."


Monday, May 22, 2006

 
....Out of Control posts several excerpts from Robert Bruegman's (server down) article on urban sprawl.

My favorite:

"Another misunderstanding grows out of the provincialism of critics living in fast-growing urban areas. Many such people have the impression that the entire country is fast being paved over. But in truth, cities and suburbs occupy only a small percentage of our country's land. The entire urban and suburban population of the United States could fit comfortably into Wisconsin at suburban densities. Moreover, the amount of land set aside permanently for parks and wildlife areas has grown faster than urban land."

I drove to the top of the Bellmeade deck the other day and looked over the western portion of our city. Green, nothing but green.....


 
....Forget about steroids. What does it say about the evolution of baseball when Bonds matches Ruth while playing........designated hitter?


Sunday, May 21, 2006

 
......Interesting Lorraine Ahearn (unposted) column in this morning's N&R....

She does a good job telling us about Paul Corsentino, the guy who jumped off the Bellmeade parking deck. I wondered why the story didn't get bigger coverage from the N&R. I know they can't write about every suicide, but jumping eight stories in the middle of downtown is a pretty public way to whack yourself.

In the end, though, the column gets a bit melodramatic:

"Close the mental hospitals and state programs with the promise of some phantom 'community-based' treatment or 'private providers,' then watch as we fill the prison and the homeless shelter, and, in the worst cases, the graveyard."

Pretty heavy stuff. But then I was confused by the next paragraph:

"The saddest part is, all this misery can be averted. People can live with depression just as they live with diabetes — through medicine, therapy, peer groups and probably some exercise."

And that's exactly the argument behind mental health reform, right? Fewer beds are needed because people are being treated through "medicine, therapy, peer groups and probably someexercise." The only problem is mental officials are finding out that's not exactly the case.

Ahearn points out that Corsentino "was twice hospitalized in the past two months, each time discharged after five days. — a typical stay under managed care."

It's very possible Corsentino needed a bed in a mental hospital and couldn't get one. But is it not possible he just quit taking his meds?


Saturday, May 20, 2006

 
....I'm just now reading about the captured al Qaeda documents in Cal Thomas' column via the N&R print edition.

How did I miss this important piece of news?


 
.....As you can probably imagine, Medved rips Jodie Foster's commencement speech.

I personally think Yakov Smirnoff, with his master's degree in positive psychology, would have been a better choice.


 
......OK, I was a little hard on Rasheed the other day. He had a solid game last night, although he bricked a three-pointer and clanged two free throws down the stretch. The Cavs just couldn't get the offensive rebounds.......

I don't see the Pistons losing at home, though I'll be pulling for the upset.


Friday, May 19, 2006

 
.....What will be the reaction to Baghdad ER?

"HBO has been promoting the documentary as a tribute to the heroism of the soldiers and medical personnel who are shown working under severe stress. But the producers acknowledge that its harrowing scenes could be interpreted differently."

HBO's Sheila Nevins says this much:

"Anything showing the grim realities of war is, in a sense, antiwar. In that way, the film is a sort of Rorschach test. You see in it what you bring to it."


 
.....Interesting discussion over at Cone's regarding the city's SCAT program.

The conversation steers briefly over to the Wachovia Tower, producing this from Roch Smith:

"Ed, the fallacy of your defense of the Carroll building subsidies, indeed everyone's defense of the deal, is that it supposes an all or nothing situation, i.e. either we pony up the tax breaks or the building will not be renovated. It ignores the third possibility that I haven't seen dismissed as unrealistic -- that we do not offer tax breaks, the building gets renovated anyway and local governments get to keep the taxes they are prepared to refund."

I couldn't have summed up the big picture any better myself, although I pointed out the three politicians who voted against incentives for Roy Carroll bent over backward to wish him success.

I think what's bothering me about the SCAT issue is it's being debated in an inverse manner. It seems as though general transit is the given while city officials figure out how to streamline SCAT.

The way I see it, the debate should be the other way around. Funding for SCAT should be the given while the city seriously discusses streamlining service for able-bodied riders, who, let's face it, have more transportation options than the disabled.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

 
.....McNeil-Lehrer had an interesting discussion on President Bush's border strategy.

Note that Korb and McGinnis disagree on whether 6,000 National Guard troops are enough to do the job.

Korb:

"I mean, it's more symbolic than anything else. I mean, if you really wanted to do this, you would have to put -- and I think I've seen figures, you know, 50,000 to 60,000 people there, if you really wanted to do it right."

McGinnis:

"Six thousand people is doable. Anything he's going to ask the Guard to do I'm sure they're capable of doing. But I think it can be done smarter, and it can be done better if the Border Patrol and the Guard were allowed to collaborate on this, just as we did with issues like this previously and the drug war. So there's a long history here between the Guard -- a good positive history between the Guard and the Border Patrol."

By the way, moderator Judy Woodruff still looks pretty good. But I still can't get over how she was a total bitch while interviewing first lady Barbara Bush at the '92 Republican Convention. Another part of my conservative conversion.....


 
....I guess the finals aren't the same as the playoffs......

With Rasheed inexplicably laughing on the bench, the Pistons find themselves at the mercy of the Cavaliers.

In preparation for what could possibly be the greatest upset in playoff history, Sports Illustrated put together a photo gallery of the top 10 greatest playoff upsets.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 
......Greensboro mayor Keith Holliday before last night's 9-0 City Council vote to award a $1.1 million development grant for Centerpointe:

"This is so perfect. I think we're going to look back someday at some of the turning points in our downtown and this decision tonight by this council will be a major turning point."


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 
......The N&O's Ted Vaden does some explaining regarding the photo of Leah Willis accompanying the article on the Canes high stick:

"The picture showed Willis in a bright red Hurricanes jersey picking up tickets at the RBC Center box office. Good picture to go with a good story.

"Problem is: Willis was not unhappy with the price increases, and for good reason. She works for Gale Force Holdings, the RBC Center operator. When the photograph was shot, before the Canes game Monday night against New Jersey, she was not buying but picking up tickets left for her at the window."

Just goes to show that getting the right shot is kind of like, uh, getting the right quote.......


 
....Carolina Journal's John Hood has some thoughts on downtown redevelopment.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I think he's being sarcastic......


Monday, May 15, 2006

 
.....I just reviewed the tape of the Guilford County commissioners discussion regarding $1 million in economic incentives for Roy Carroll's redevelopment of the Wachovia Building.

I didn't figure the vote would be along strict party lines. Commissioners Linda Shaw and Mike Winstead were "maybes," while Billy Yow and Steve Arnold were definite "nos."

Arnold:

"I have to say that, in my 20 years as an elected official, nothing surprises me more that how quickly, and how easily, elected officials will line up to give money to the most successful and wealthy among us."

Arnold's suggestion for equal justice under the law:

"Anyone who adds to the tax base, anyone who adds to their house, anyone who adds to the ad valorem value to a particular piece of property, should be due the same benefit. That would be equal justice."

But then there's Democrat Kirk Perkins, who voted "no" along with Yow and Arnold.

Perkins has an interesting point of view:

"What the county is doing is giving Mr. Carroll incentives to compete against other projects downtown. I don't think the role of government is to subsidize one company to compete against another. I don't think basic equity and fairness can be abandoned no matter how good the project looks."

In their comments before the vote, Perkins, Yow and Arnold wished Carroll well and thanked him for taking on such a project. After all, you'd have to be some kind of a nut not to wish this project to succeed. But it's a moot point now. The county has signed off on incentives, and there's little doubt the city will do the same.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

 
....Brief hiatus.....I have to step away from the big picture for a while in order to pay attention to the finer details of life: Helping my neighbor bang some nails, watching an elephant take a crap at the zoo, getting the broken lightbulb out of the ceiling fan light, rubbing and grilling a brisket, finding the perfect Mother's Day card, picking up a new sports biography at the central library...

It's nothing anybody else doesn't have to deal with, but multi-tasking can get out of hand....


Thursday, May 11, 2006

 
....Left-handed carpenter, figuratively and literally......Took this morning off to help my neighbor bang some nails.....


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 
....Canes give fans the high stick:

"The team announced late last week that prices for season ticket holders would more than double in the final two rounds. Tickets for each home game in the final two rounds would range from $50 to $200 per seat.

"Prices for people who don't have season tickets are higher still. They haven't been announced for the finals, but in the third round, general admission tickets will be between $70 and $250."

...Proof that hockey in the South is not a blue-collar sport, as evidenced by season ticket holder Jann Meyer:

"Meyer and her husband have spent more than $2,500 on hockey this season, attending 24 games and all the playoff games so far. Before this year, when they lived in the mountains, they often made 400-mile round trips to see the Canes.

"But they say the $1,600 bill they got late last week, for the final two rounds, is too much. If the Hurricanes make it that far, they say, they'll watch the games on TV."

Two questions: What's another $1600 when you've already invested $2500 in the Canes, and how much do they pay state psychologists?

It's like playing the lottery. How much to you want to gamble with the hope of seeing something special live and in person? Fans at the RBC Center Monday night sure got something special, as did fans in attendance for Game 6 of Montreal series, although you'd have to ask Canadiens fans just how special it was, given the outcome.

No matter the outcome, the rush had to be there as shot after shot was stopped on both ends of the ice.....


Monday, May 08, 2006

 
......Via Guarino:

David Hartgen's JLF policy report on public transit systems in North Carolina:

"Hartgen’s report recommends that the state cut back state support for local transit systems, while ensuring that riders pay more for transit service. Local transit officials should also rewrite their mission statements and long-range plans to reflect their key role in helping people who need mobility. The report also calls for more privatization of transit systems, and it asks the General Assembly to delay funding for light rail systems in Charlotte, the Triangle, and the Triad until Charlotte’s South Boulevard corridor confirms usage expectations. The 10-mile Charlotte light rail line, currently under construction for $428 million, is expected to open in late 2007."

That's probably a good idea. More:

"Overall, the 10 transit systems studied contribute just 0.28 percent of the overall daily regional travel miles, according to Hartgen’s report. That’s the figure you get when you factor in bus riders who have no cars. Greensboro (0.15 percent) and Winston-Salem (0.19 percent) both fall below the average.......

"While the state and federal transportation bill is growing, the transit systems are not drawing people away from the cars that clog city roads, the report says. A typical trip on a public transit system is slower than a trip by car. Many transit riders are lower-income workers who have no access to cars.

“'Riders use the systems primarily as ‘stepping stones’ for improving personal mobility,' Hartgen said. 'The systems serve less than one-half of 1 percent of regional commuting and impact about one-quarter of 1 percent of regional air pollution or congestion.'”

With the high price of gas, you'd expect city buses to be standing room only. That they're not is evidence that Americans are willing to pay whatever it takes to maintain their "personal mobilty." I think the assumption on the part of many local governments is that if more services are provided, more people will use public transportation.

That's a tough strategy in a market where practically no one rides the bus just because it's there.


 
.....I just sat around last night, reading and watching the Phillies-Giants game on TV. Every now and then I would glance up to see if Barry Bonds was coming to bat. I realized this really could be the night that Bonds ties Babe Ruth's home run record. I asked myself if this is something I really wanted to see. What the hell, I told myself. If it happens, it happens.

In my ongoing effort to be an open-minded human being, I asked myself why I don't like Barry Bonds. I don't know him, and I personally don't know whether or not he used performance-enhancing drugs, in spite of the evidence that he did. A big part of it is the fact that I've never really cared for his team.This dislike goes back to the old MLB alignment, when the Giants were the Reds' divisional rivals. It seemed as though the Reds always had a tough time winning in Candlestick Park.

Just looking at Bonds is tough, too. Anybody disagree that Bonds radiates arrogance? Listening to his three-man cheering squad of Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Peter Gammons talk about how frustrated Bonds has been over fan reaction during the Giants' road trip didn't help matters any. Poor Bonds, I thought to myself.

Fortunately, Michael Sokolove's N.Y. Times review of two books on Bonds helped ease my conscience a bit.

In case you haven't heard, 'Game of Shadows' alleges "that Bonds participated in a sophisticated doping program that resulted in a late-career offensive surge unheard-of in baseball history. Over his first 13 seasons, Bonds hit a home run every 16.1 at-bats; from 1999 through 2004, he hit one every 8.5 at-bats.

"The book is economical in its character study of Bonds, which is wise because what the authors do include just confirms his well-established reputation for boorishness. Its real strength comes in the connections it makes between the baseball doping scandal and the wider culture of drugs in international sports. "

Meanwhile, Jeff Pearlman's 'Love Me, Hate Me' "tracks down Bonds's former teachers, scout leaders, neighbors and teammates from Little League up through the majors — more than 500 people total. The legwork is impressive, but nearly everyone says a version of the same thing — that Bonds is a thoroughly miserable guy. The kind of person who throws sweat socks on the floor just to watch the clubhouse attendant stoop to pick them up."

OK, I feel better. But I hear what you're saying: If it bothers me that much, I should just change the channel.


Friday, May 05, 2006

 
......Interesting N&R editorial page this morning.....

Starting off, George Will has a less than flattering perspective on the life and work of John Kenneth Galbraith:

"......The Affluent Society, published in 1958, was a milestone on liberalism's transformation into a doctrine of condescension. And into a minority persuasion.

"In the 1950s, liberals were disconsolate. Voters twice rejected the intelligentsia's pinup, Stevenson, in favor of Dwight Eisenhower, who elicited a new strain in liberalism -- disdain for average Americans. Liberals dismissed the Eisenhower administration as 'the bland leading the bland.' They said New Dealers had been supplanted by car dealers. How to explain the electorate's dereliction of taste? Easy. The masses had been manipulated, mostly by advertising, particularly on television, which by 1958 had become the masses' entertainment.

"Intellectuals, that herd of independent minds, were, as usual, in lock step as they deplored 'conformity.'.........Galbraith brought to the anti-conformity chorus a special verve in depicting Americans as manipulable as clay. Americans were what modern liberalism relishes -- victims, to be treated as wards of a government run by liberals. It never seemed to occur to Galbraith and like-minded liberals that ordinary Americans might resent that depiction and express their resentment with their votes."

Right next door, Clarence Page discusses the poster boy of liberal resentment and condescension, Al Gore:

"If ever there was a time for the author of 'Earth in the Balance,' Gore's powerful 1992 book on global warming and other environmental threats, to say ' tried to warn you,' this is it."

I loved the next line:

"Gore's book drew ridicule from George H.W. Bush, who called Gore 'Ozone Man' in 1992 and in 2000 from George W. Bush, who admitted without embarrassment that he had never read it."

Without embarrassment? OK. Page should know by now that showing embarrassment is not President Bush's strong suit, never mind the implication that 'Earth in the Balance' is required reading.

I guess 'Earth in the Balance,' like 'The Affluent Society' 50 years earlier, is on the list for the enlightened book club. Personally, I'm gleaning quite a bit of enlightenment reading Namath, despite the fact that Broadway Joe's life of booze and broads is in stark contrast to my life of beer and wife.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 
....Lots of hand-wringing over the lost generation.....

Hey, I hang out with plenty of disconnected adults right here in tony Fisher Park.They're still intelligent, successful people. For whatever reason, it hasn't made a difference in their lives whether or not they know that the border between North and South Korea is the most fortified in the world. I guess it depends on what you do for a living, too. If you're a plumber making a bunch of money digging through the rich earth of Guilford County, why the hell do you need to find India on a map?

I wouldn't say the questions were all no-brainers, either. OK, you should know Mississippi and Louisiana by fifth grade. Perhaps answering that the U.S.-Mexico border is the most fortified is collective wishful thinking. What's the most widely-spoken native language? Trick question.

Now I did know about the earthquake that killed 70,000 in Pakistan when it happened. But I kind of forgot about it.


 
......Cautiously optimistic is one of my favorite terms.......


 
.....Council polygraphs off to inauspicious start:

"Concerns about council members' stress levels being raised by questions from reporters before the sessions — and possibly skewing the results — led to the location for the test being switched twice. "

But hey, council members (with the exception of Diane Bellamy-Small, who flips the bird to polygraph tests and local media) set themselves up for elevated stress levels.

This was a bad idea, period. When politicians try to appear honest, they end up looking silly. The best example I can think of is President Clinton's proclamation that he would oversee the "most ethical administration in history." Red flag right there.

That's why I vote Republican: No pretext of honesty whatsoever.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 
......Immigrants take to the streets.

Is this not proof that free speech and dissent are alive and well in this country?


Monday, May 01, 2006

 
....Red Sox re-acquire Tim Wakefield's personal catcher.

The Times' Jack Curry also provides some insight into what it's like to catch a knuckeball. Let's
put it this way: John Flaherty, a 14-year veteran, so he wouldn't have to catch Wakefield's knuckler:

"It took Flaherty two innings to decide that he could not spend a year chasing those knuckleballs. Two innings in a meaningless spring training game, 20 minutes of feeling vulnerable because he did not know where Wakefield’s next floater would dip or dart.

"Flaherty, who played in 1,047 games, was unnerved by the thought of catching Wakefield with a runner on third at Yankee Stadium."

Though he tries to reassure his catchers, you get the feeling Wakefield is a bit of a sadist:

"If a catcher has difficulty, that is a sign to Wakefield that he has a good knuckleball. If a catcher is not scrambling like a 5-year-old digging for quarters in a sandbox, then Wakefield becomes worried that his knuckleball is ineffective."

I've been watching quite a bit of the Red Sox this season, mainly because ESPN has become Red Sox Network. Is it me, or do the Sox have a more clean-cut look this season? No Mark Bellhorn, no Johnny Damon, no Bronson Arroyo (thank goodness.)

But still Manny Ramirez. My guess is the Red Sox, basically a conservative ballclub, would still get rid of Ramirez of they could because he's not a good image. But they can't, because his contract is too big. Cut your hair or get cut doesn't work if the team has to pay the bill and get nothing in return. Ramirez' paycheck allows him to wear his hair the way he pleases.

Damon's doesn't, though. He's more handsome than I thought, too.


 
.....I read with interest yesterday's N&R article on the possible sale of land in the Uwharrie National Forest. As I posted last week, I recently spent some time enjoying Uwharrie's beauty, so I don't take this issue lightly.

Of course, when I saw Jeri Rowe's byline, I expected an emotional plea on behalf of Uwharrie residents not to sell 2,317 acres of forest land. But on the whole, the piece was restrained and contained quite a bit of useful information for citizens to research and decide for themselves how they stand on this issue.

Still, a counter point of view was pretty much missing. There's got to be someone out there besides me and President Bush who don't think this is the worst idea in the world.

Fair enugh, Rowe does point out that "high-priced developments have helped diversify the county's tax base and fund services that would've been hurt by the county's job losses."

But I think the best case to make the deal came from Billy Myrick, owner of Myrick's Produce:

"There's nothing here. We've got no jobs. No textile jobs. And if they do want to come here to North Carolina, they want to go 60 miles up the road.

"And I hear it every day. 'I can't afford to get there.' And when your unemployment checks and jobs run out, what are you going to do?"

With Myrick's comments in mind, is it unreasonable to believe that limited development on former forest land would spur economic growth, especially in the fledgling eco-tourism industry? Is it not a good thing to improve the public's access to Uwharrie by providng them with places to stay and a bit of civilization after a day in the outdoors? Yeah, a lot of people like to fish, hike and mountgain bike. But a good many want a good meal and a soft bed afterwards.

Here's the way I look at it. One of my favorite places is the Creek House, located on the waterway just south of Myrtle Beach, the poster city for unlimited development. I've spent hours sitting on the deck of the Creek House at sunset, enjoying the waterway's natural beauty. Within sight are existing homes and homes under construction. They don't take away one bit from the waterway's beauty. I'm thankful for the access, and I'm glad others want access to such a wonderful place.


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