Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Good Read: "Imagine There's No Oil"

Harpers Magazine Online has an interesting article up on its website for free. I used this article in my Cornerstone class entitled "Values, Culture, and the Environment" when I was teaching in St. Louis, and students enjoyed reading it even though it sobered them up from their iPods and reality TV. The was originally in the August '06 issue, and the author explores "peak oil," a concept we all should be familiar with.

If you have the time and inclination, check it out by clicking HERE.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Memo to the Cubs

To: Cubs Management
From: Various Cubs Fans
Date: 7-28-08
Subject: Bullpen Relief

Because your closer with a history of injury trouble is on the DL and your next-in-line closer is either a fellow who has been overworked or is a rookie who has a solid fastball but so-so other stuff, you need to make a move for someone to shore up your bullpen.

Be it Fuentes, Street, or another worthy reliever, make a move soon. 

Hell, do it now. 

Political Litmus Test

In (dis)honor of the investigation about how employees were routinely hindered from advancing or how prospective employees were not hired at the Justice Department because of their answers to politically-motivated questions (for an article, click HERE), heck, let's do our own political litmus test.

1) What term would you select to indicate your political affiliation?
a) Democrat
b) Republican
c) Liberal
d) Libertarian
e) Progressive
f) Old School Conservative
g) Independent who usually votes Republican
h) Independent who usually votes Democrat
i) Anarchist
j) Green Party
k) Likes the Green Party but votes Democrat since it's a viable option
l) Neo-Conservative
m) Free-Market Fundamentalist
n) New Deal Democrat
o) I vote the way my parents taught me to

2) Yes or No, should there be a strict separation of church and state?

3) Yes, or No, should we get out of Iraq ASAP, but logistically with a sixteen-month timetable?

4) Yes or No or Maybe, US trade policies should protect American industries ?

5) Are you "pro-choice" or "anti-abortion"?

6) Yes or no, do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the D.C. handgun ban?

7) Yes or No, do you believe that gun ownership in our time connects with the need for "a well regulated militia" as stipulated in the second amendment?

8) Yes or No, did President Clinton deserve to be impeached?

9) Yes or No, does President Bush deserve to be impeached?

10) Yes or No, should political candidates wear flag lapel pins at all cost?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mr. Microphone Haircut

As I was running tonight, one of the many thoughts rumbling through my head is how I seriously need a haircut.

As Corey described my 'do once at a party, I have a "Mr. Microphone haircut."

In honor of that funny comment, I offer you a classic ad from Ronco.

Click HERE for the one of the best lines in a TV commercial ever, "Hey, good lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!"

Music Friday: "Wink"

If you click the link HERE, you get to enjoy Blue Mountain playing one of their more popular "alt-country" songs, "Wink."

They're playing at Proud Larry's, a great place for drinks and dining in Oxford, Mississippi (Did you happen to stumble there when you went for the Mizzou game last year, Kenson?). 

Blue Mountain is now back together, and they have a new album out in mid-August.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Thomas Friedman has a great column on how oil addiction and lack of direction from our fearless leaders.

For the column, click HERE.

SEC Transfers

As is the nature of the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, it's no longer called I-AA college football), who transfers to your school from a DI power can make an immediate impact since DI players transferring to FCS schools don't have to sit out a year.

As can be read HERE, The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC), which EIU is in, has three different transfers who are predicted to carry their teams to good seasons. Head coaches and sports information directors have done their pre-season "order of finish" poll for the OVC this year, and here are top four: 

1) Jacksonville State, 2) Eastern Kentucky, 3) Eastern Illinois, and 4) Tennessee State.

Jax State now has the former LSU QB phenom Ryan Perrilloux, Tenn State has South Carolina transfer Antonio Heffner at QB, and EIU has Chevon Walker, a RB who transferred from Florida after selling bowl game tickets or something like that.

EIU, however, probably has the best all-around talent on both sides of the ball in the league. 

It should be an interesting fall in the OVC. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harnessing the Saharan Sun

This article in the Guardian (click HERE) provides a great plan for EU countries to harness the power of the sun.

Pretty hot stuff.

"Bad Days for Newsrooms--and Democracy"

Linked HERE is an interesting column from that offers a bleak look at what is happening to journalists and newspapers across the country.

Although I obviously enjoy blogs (heck, I "own" one), the much ballyhooed "new media" does have serious limitations. One problem I and others see is that the number of journalists (people who have actually have degrees in the subject) doing investigative journalism has been declining for decades because of the mass corporatization of the news media (six major conglomerates own over 90% of the news media outlets). 

The new media--blogs, internet filtering sites--is still beholden to the traditional media though because they are simply parasitic. They rely on reports from newspapers and magazines that have editorial staffs, travel funds, and enough time for in-depth reporting from time to time.

Although I disagree with the author's assumption that we had a news media that was non-ideological (the papers from the early Republic to the 1940s were quite and sometimes overtly biased, especially the 18th and 19th centuries), I would contend that back then there were more diverse sources of information out there. Nowadays, unfortunately, if you turn on CNN, NBC Nightly News, Fox News, MSNBC, and others on any given day, you're going to get pretty much the same stories with slightly different spins on them. We have speed and convenience down, but depth is a serious problem.

What's being lost due to media consolidation is that the conglomerates are using vertical integration of news outlets to cut costs and offer little diversity. The cheap news is the infotainment crap (Angelina and Brad's babies, some white girl lost in Aruba or wherever) that is constantly getting shoved down our throats. 

In some respects, perhaps supply creates demand in regard to the "news." If people are constantly being shown what people call "soft news" or "fluff," they come to expect that type of junk as the "news."

I for one want investigative reporting from professionals who have studied the craft of journalism. The "fourth estate" needs to get stronger, vibrant, and much more vigilant, as Bill Moyers' argues in "Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?" (linked HERE

Sure, we all can have our blogs, but our little audiences of a dozen or so people isn't moving the national conversation forward about our democracy and how our country can get stronger. A vigilant fourth estate helps with that.

I hope that you still read my humble little blog though.

McCain's VP?

It sounds as though McCain might name his VP candidate quite soon (Click HERE for a recent article). So who do you think it'll be?


I predict Crist.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Music Friday: "Patience"

This Music Friday is a semi-shout-out to my freshman year roommate.

Back in August of 1989, he brought his "boombox" and a bevy of cassettes. But, if I recall correctly and I think I do, he had four cassettes in heavy rotation: The Greatest Hits of The Steve Miller Band, an album I don't remember, The Traveling Willburys, and Guns-n-Roses' Lies.

To this day when I hear the song linked HERE, my reaction is a combo of unease and exasperation because he played those four albums so often, especially "Patience."

I'm sure you'll enjoy the music video more than I do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is McCain a Political Don Rickles?

Is his humor emblematic of someone who has a dismissive view of women and someone who is out of touch with a diverse America?

While I'm not a big fan of political correctness because I've had it shoved down my throat for years, some of his jokes make me wince for sure. Wow.

Click HERE for a link to an article by, you hockey pucks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Question: How Do You Tell When a Bowden is Lying?....

Answer: His mouth is moving.

Tommy Bowden, head coach of Clemson (pronounced "Clempsin" in the South), has started the poor-mouthing early for his squad's neutral site game vs. Alabama. Click HERE for his comments.

With a stellar QB, two outstanding running backs, a solid set of WRs, and a strong secondary, Bowden cites his question marks at the o-line and linebackers.

Since Alabama's front seven is young, untested, and lacks significant depth, I see a tough task ahead of the defense when the Crimson Tide meets the Tigers for the first game of the season in the Georgia Dome. 

Regardless, and in honor of my hankering for college football to start, I bought this wonderfully cheesy shirt (see below) that references the crazy power of the Alabama tailgating subculture, a subculture that Warren St. John artfully describes in his bestseller Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer (LINK to that book's site).


Linked HERE is an interesting op-ed from The Chicago Tribune.

The author provides a personal yet political look at the Supreme Court overturning the D.C. handgun law along with the political shenanigans in the Windy City. 

While I agree with a lot of what he says, I also think there need to be somewhat stricter regulations on gun ownership, especially the loopholes that people use to buy arms at gun shows.

What I'm struck by is the question of how exactly do we create a more family-focused culture? Mr. Box articulates that we need stronger parental structures in our country, so how do we go about doing that? Do we return to stay-at-home moms and dads? Have we fallen into what one Harvard economist has called the "two-income" trap? 

The op-ed, strangely enough, reminds me about what one of my favorite writers Wendell Berry has said about the environmental crisis we have before us: it's a "crisis of character." 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Favre Situation

Is it just me or is anyone else tired of this Brett Favre situation?

Click HERE for a link to how ole Brett is not "welcome" anymore. 

The guy has talked about retirement for years now, and he "officially" retires after last season. And once again he wants back in? 

I guess I take management's stand on this. One player does not a team make, and Favre constantly changing his mind has had to drive the Packers brass bonkers.

If you said you're retiring, then RETIRE. And also shave.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"I'm Voting Republican"

One of this blog's informants offered this interesting bit of satire to me a while back.

I thought I'd pass it on, finally. Click HERE for the link.

I'm surprised there isn't a counter-narrative out there yet.

The Death of Reaganomics?

E. J. Dionne has an article up on about how "reality" is shaking up assumptions about the economy and people's belief in the "free market."

I thought I'd pass it on (click HERE) because voters' ideas about how the economy should be managed (or not managed) will play a significant factor in the presidential election.

The Brits Heart Obama

A recent survey (click HERE for the article) shows that Brits have a crush on Obama--in a five to one ratio.

So, while I don't think this means much of anything, I find it interesting.

If you're thinking of this factoid from an argumentation standpoint, the folks working for Obama might try to use this point as a way to show that Obama can help restore the dignity and stature of America abroad. 

But, then again, the race for president isn't a popularity contest. Well, wait, maybe it is.

Friday, July 11, 2008


The article linked HERE indicates that talks between A-B and InBev have apparently become "friendly."

And the article also relates that St. Louis would still remain the North American headquarters (but for how long?), but they're going to oust some board members.

As much as I usually don't drink A-B products that often (if I'm going to drink an industrial brew, I'm more likely to quaff Old Style, PBR, Schlitz, or Miller High Life), I hope the takeover, if it happens, doesn't hurt St. Louis economically.

But I'm sure St. Louis no longer being the international home of A-B will take its psychological toll. 

Music Friday: "Travel On"

The link provided HERE offers a song from Tishamingo's latest album, The Point.

If you can get past the inane questions from "MoBoogie Mama" for the first part of the clip, you'll probably enjoy the song (starts about four minutes in, fyi).

I have the band's first two albums, and they're pretty good--kind of Allman Brothersesque.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Predictions: Final SEC Standings

As promised in the previous post, I'm providing my predictions for the final SEC football standings for this season.

1. Georgia, 2. Tennessee, 3. Florida, 4. South Carolina, 5. Kentucky, 6. Vandy

Most of the media has an embarrassing man-crush on both Coach Urban Crier and Tim T-Bone, but Tebow's antics are going to catch up with him sometime. It's a matter of time before he gets sidelined from a concussion or a shoulder separation. Florida needs to replace a lot of defense too, but they'll have plenty of weapons.

I think Tennessee will be a lot better than people think, but UGA should navigate the East as champion and finish with one or two losses overall. The Evil Genius in Columbia has some talent to develop on the o-line, so I see the Gamecocks a year away from being a serious contender again. They could upset some people though, so it's spoiler mode once again. 

Both Kentucky and Vandy are in serious rebuilding mode.

1. Auburn, 2. LSU, 3. Alabama, 4. Ole Miss, 5. Arkansas, 6. Mississippi State

Both LSU and Auburn have similar profiles: great defenses, solid o-lines, strong running backs, and questions at the QB position. Les "The Mad Hatter" Miles' penchant for questionable but gutsy decisions will come home to roost this year, so I expect the Bayou Bengals to lose some close games even though they might have the most talent in college football. Auburn will have a stout defense, and their spread offense will work well. They also have a favorable schedule, so that helps too.

And now Alabama gets its own paragraphs, of course.

As much as I'd loved to predict that Alabama will win the West, I doubt it will happen. I think the offense will be quite good, and John Parker Wilson must improve his accuracy and decision-making to get us to contend. The offense is now using its third different offensive coordinator in three years, so there will be some growing pains. But I gather that McElwain's offensive schemes will open up a more diversified passing and running attack (short to mid-range passing, screens, etc.). I welcome that.

The huge question mark for the Crimson Tide is the defense, the side of the ball that Coach Saban prides himself on. The down linemen will be serviceable, but the linebacking corps invites serious concern. Ezekial Knight will probably not be cleared medically because of heart murmurs. Jimmy Johns recently got kicked off the team. And Prince Hall has been in Saban's doghouse since he took over in Tuscaloosa. Three incoming freshmen (Harris, Hightower, and Upshaw) will probably log serious playing time this year, with one of two maybe being starters, which is usually an indication that a team is in store for a tough year. 

Saban has cleaned out the driftwood in the program over the past year--getting rid of people who don't want to work or don't want to participate in what he calls "the process." They've been processed off the team, and that has created depth issues.

Ole Miss was smart as heck in hiring Nutt, and I look forward to watching the Rebels beat the Hogs in Fayette Nam on Oct. 25. The Rebels will have a good offense, but that defense could be worse than Alabama's.

Both Arkansas and State are in rebuilding modes with the Razorbacks significantly changing their offensive philosophy, and the Bulldogs lost a number of good players, changed defensive coordinators, and still don't have much of an offense. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

College Football Predictions

Since any fool can pontificate about college football on the Web and many do, I thought I'd join in.

The usual suspects of pre-season magazines are out, and I thought I'd chime in with my predictions for the national championship since my shots in the dark are just as worthy as others'.

Later in the week I'll provide the predicted final standings of college football's premier conference, the SEC, if you're interested.

After checking out the pre-season mags, it's clear that the fashionable picks for national champions are either UGA or USC.

If there is a program that has the easiest road to the BCS National Championship Charade in January, it would have to Southern Cal. They're stocked with talent, and there are no major roadblocks in the juggernaut's way except for its home game on Sept. 13 vs. Ohio State. 

USC is a safe bet. I get it.

I see why UGA is getting lots of pub. Knowshon Moreno is a stud. They have a solid QB. And they have consistently recruited outstanding talent for years. But they play in the SEC where programs are notorious for beating up on each other. Also, the last two national champions have been SEC squads. I don't see a three-peat. SEC schedules will take their toll on UGA, Florida, LSU, and AllBarn (all legit national title contenders).

So I'm going to make a bold prediction: Mizzou will meet USC in the title game. 

While Tony Temple is gone, there is depth at RB. The offense will be much the same, and the defense will be strong. The first game is against Illinois, which is on the rise, but I'm still not a believer in the Illini beating them this year. The crucial test will be Mizzou's visit to Austin on Oct. 18.

So you read it here first: USC vs. Mizzou in the BCS National Championship Game.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Competing Strategies

In a needed change, both candidates for president acknowledge that human-induced climate change is real, but they have different plans for addressing global warming.

For an article comparing McCain and Obama's strategies, click HERE.

Well, uh, wait a sec...

I posted this afternoon about how the asking price for Harden would be too high and how I wanted Maddux back.

And then I turn on the tube to find out that the Cubs acquired Harden and Gaudin for E. Patterson, Murton, Gallagher, and Donaldson (a single A catcher).

The big if on this trade, of course, is whether Harden can stay healthy for the rest of the season, which he hasn't shown he can do in his career.

The Cubs lose a good prospect in Patterson. And Murton never got a chance under Piniella or Baker. I think it's some type of negative bias against redheads or something. Gallagher is a good prospect, but he's another guy who quickly got on Piniella's bad side, for whatever that is worth. I think he'll enjoy the spacious confines in Oakland.

Gaudin might be the real difference-maker in this deal. He's pitched well this year with a 3.59 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, so he could easily bump Marquis from the rotation.  I hope.

I Want Maddux Back!

With the Brewers' acquisition of Sabathia, the Cubs need to make a move.

The Cubs apparently have been talking to the As about Harden for quite a while now, but I suspect the asking price for Harden is going to too high. Billy Beane will want to make out like a bandit as he did when he traded Haren to the D'backs. 

Randy Wolf's name has been mentioned by various sources as an option, but I see nothing much good in acquiring him. And Jarrod Washburn? Ditto.

The answer is Greg Maddux. The Cubs never should have traded him in '06. 

That trade ranks as the second worst move of the Cubs in the 21st century. The worst was when Steve Stone was deposed as color commentator for the Cubs in '04.

BTW, #$%@ Dusty Baker.

The End of Silence

One of the slicks (as Dubya likes to call magazines) I get every month is the international magazine, Ode. This month's edition is devoted entirely to "silence," or more precisely our world's disturbing lack of silence or quietness.

The article, "Quiet, Please?," is attached (click HERE), and it provides a number of findings and studies about how the lack of silence or even just the lack of quiet can very detrimental to our physical and mental health. The article, at times, gets to be a bit of information overload for me, but it simply confirms a number of thoughts I've had for years:

I hate noise pollution from mowers and leaf blowers. They not only cause horrible noise pollution, they're also incredibly dirty because they're unregulated. The amount of CO2 they emit is atrocious. As the Union of Concerned Scientists relate (LINK), "the average lawn mower emits as much smog-forming pollution in one hour as eight new cars traveling at 55 miles per hour." 

While I own a cell phone, I detest having them go off in one of my classes, and conversations on them do invade public space. Added to that annoyance are the dreaded blue tooth devices that facilitate people walking down the sidewalk as if they've escaped from an asylum and they're talking to their imaginary friends because we don't recognize the ear set (for lack of a better term) right away. The worst is when you're watching a baseball game, and some fool behind the plate or to the side of the plate is on his cell phone (and it's usually a male) while waving and talking to one of his nitwitish brethren on the other line with inane questions such as, "Hey, do you see me?"

The plethora of folks plugged into their iPods disturbs me too. They're all plugged in, shoving out other opportunities to hear the beauty of everyday life: the wind blowing, leaves rustling, birds chirping, kids laughing as they play, etc. The iPod, in this sense, simply exemplifies how our country has a hyper-individualistic culture. We plug iPods into our ears. We drive our pods (cars) to work every day. We park our pods in our pods (garages). And we live in planned pods (houses) that look a lot like the other pods and focus on our our pod (family) while not getting to know our neighbors or going outside much. 

More than anything, I think I and others need much more time to relax and do nothing for a change: time to "recharge our batteries."

The Italian psychologist Piero Ferrucci said it well when he stated, "Our culture is suffering form an overdose of action and a shortage of contemplation. I consider contemplation a basic need; you even see it in animals. Just think about dogs and cats. You often see them starting off into space. I think that their way of meditation, their way of recharging their batteries. We have that need too. But we deny this basic, physiological need--as if an entire society were to forget to go the bathroom. That's serious."

Monday, July 7, 2008

We're number 1, for a while...?

Linked HERE is an interesting article originally published in American Conservative (which looks like a fine magazine, LINKbut then excerpted and published in the recent issue of Utne.

The article entitled "The Creativity Conceit" does a good job of making us look closely at some of the assumptions we have about so-called American dominance because, as is part of the author's thesis, "The wealthier a society is, the more inventive it tends to be," and people's belief in American "freedoms" making us an inventive country needs to be questioned.

Since China, India, and the EU are very strong economic players and our country is in hock to the Chinese, what this article strikes home to me is that American political leaders and American industry needs to get it together.
American companies are far behind in the "greening" (not "greenwashing," which they're good at) of products and producing green products. Japanese companies dominate the solar energy production market, and Danish and German companies dominate the wind turbine market. 

GM, strikingly enough, is going for it all in their program to create a very ambitious electric vehicle called the Volt (for The Atlantic's great article on that, click HERE), but an Norwegian company is already set to deliver on that good in the near future with the Think car (for that Car's corporate link, click HERE).

Friday, July 4, 2008

Music Friday: "This Land Is Your Land"

Here's my favorite song about America, Woody Guthrie singing "This Land Is Your Land."

Click HERE for the link.

Have a happy Independence Day, everybody.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The First and Then Edited Version of the Declaration

If you've never had a chance to look at Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration with Adams and Franklin's editing, click HERE for a link to's photo of it with transcription.

This copy, of course, is the one before it went to committee. In committee the references to slavery were deleted, of course.

A-B to be Bought by Belgians?!?

Say it ain't so?

Is there any truth to this nasty rumor circulated by the fellas at Red State Update?

Click HERE for the link.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Clark's Comments

I don't like how Obama is distancing himself from Gen. Clark's comments about how military service doesn't necessarily qualify McCain as a good Commander-in-Chief.

I think Clark is right. In fact, opponents of Kerry's bid for President essentially provided the same argument--that Kerry's service in Vietnam doesn't necessarily mean he'll be a good President.

And just because Obama hasn't served in the military doesn't make him a unfit Commander-in-Chief. While there are many presidents who had past military service, others without military backgrounds--such as FDR--seemed to do okay too.

Maybe instead we could talk about substantive issues, such as national defense, the Iraq war, the economy, and others? Maybe?   

"Notes on Catch"

I thought I'd pass along this interesting but somewhat silly article on catch-phrases, stock phrases that are helping denude our vocabularies at an alarming rate.

Click HERE for the link to "Notes on Catch."

The catch-phrase I hate the most (and one not mentioned in the article) is "thinking outside the box." Who the hell ever thought inside a box? Is this cubicle-speak or something? Are there corporate executives in food courts across America plotting marketing strategies inside of refrigerator boxes? Whenever I hear someone say "thinking outside the box," I think to myself, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about, do you?"

That phrase has been played out, or has "played out" been played out? 

While this is not a phrase, I have been using the catch-word "liberate" from time to time. For example, "I'm wearing this Ole Miss t-shirt today because I liberated it from Diana."