Hurting your own cause

Often times, a speaker trying valiantly  to make a point or to rouse his  supporters  will allow his reach to far  exceed his grasp. Yesterday that happened  to a gentleman named  Christopher Shelton. It was that or Mr Shelton is woefully ignorant of 20th century American history or he just doesn’t care what he says  is it makes his point.

Mr Shelton is  the District 1  vice-president for the Communications Workers of America and spoke at a rally in Trenton, New Jersey yesterday. The purpose of said rally was to protest New Jersey Gov Chris Christie’s pension deal that would  cut pensions and benefits  for public workers. Mr Shelton apparently was so focused  on firing up the crowd that he employed the most hateful imagery he could imagine and then made it worse.

He compared the governor to one Adolph Hitler, yep that guy, as my grandson might  say. Warming to his  task as any speaker will do when faced with a cheering crowd, he went on to compare the New Jersey pension fight to WWII  and to  say that there was  a need  for WWIII to get rid of Adolph Christie.  Rally attendees responded in what way do you think? Believe it or not they wildly cheered Mr Shelton’s remarks.

Now, of course since this information became public Mr Shelton issued an obligatory apology  to the governor and anyone else he offended but also stressed the affected workers had every right to be angry. Not really much of an apology from my perspective.

I am unsure what bothers me the most about this. It could be the analogies  Mr Shelton made, the cheering response or the half-hearted apology. I think it probably r is all three. Besides, how many members of his audience even heard the apology or paid any attention to it. Perhaps  he still  accomplished  what he set out to do . But it just seems  he  really damaged his own cause and gave more  credence to those who think union leaders always “demagogue”  issues or people to make their case. I certainly that the leadership of  my union never resorts to such tactics. The whole incident gives me a very negative feeling and sounds like it could have come from the playbook of a Saul Alinsky. Unions need friends to make their point, they  certainly need not create  any more foes.


June 17, 2011 Posted by | Culture, economy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depends on why you are Famous

Conventional wisdom has often said that it doesn’t matter why one is famous, only that one is famous. Sad to say, I believe that Rep Anthony Weiner(D, NY) would hasten to disagree. Until his lewd and salacious actions were made public, the majority of Americans would have been unable to identify him by name or picture. Now, he probably holds the title of our most well-known congressman.

But my interest is not so much with what he did but rather the reactions, both pro and con, that have ensued. Part of my reasoning is that I am not  very surprised with what he did. The internet has greatly facilitated these types  of behavior in and secondly, he is  not the first politician to be caught.in some type of compromising position.

On to  the reactions. Some are almost funny, some surprising (considering the sources) and some  are inconsistent. However, I have tried to avoid comments that are lewd or suggestive in. This mess has even  divided prominent Democrats with Reps Rangel and Clyburn offering support; Rangel even saying that after all he did not go out with little boys. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has urged him to resign, probably the first commonsense statement she has made since taking the job. And former speaker Pelosi  gravely concurred.

New York’s top elected Democrat Chuck Schumer is appalled and disappointed. Besides Weiner is taking over his spotlight. The Clintons are furious and probably for the best reasons of anyone other Weiner’s wife, the former Huma Abedin. You will remember that Bill officiated at their July 11, 2010 wedding. Besides Huma has worked for Hilary for  quite sometime and that the entire fiasco conjures up memories of Bill’s escapade(s). So far there has been no  public comment by the Clintons but one can only imagine what they are thinking.

And then we have the celebrity comments which for me fall under the class of what were they thinking and don’t they have people to forestall these  public comments. Television journalist Rachel Maddow said that Weiner exhibited “bad manners.” Barbara Walters said that the pictures she had seen were “flattering.” Joy Behar opined that the pictures were not the congressman, implying a frame, even after he confessed that they were. And that paragon of virtue Alec Baldwin said that works in a very highly stressful environment and was just letting off steam.

Finally, some comments that alone. They originate with MSNBC host, Chris( Tingles) Matthews. He has made frequent comments about Weiner that express his disgust, wonder at what he was thinking,etc. And then he proceeds to hold Mrs Weiner partly responsible. And finally ne bemoans the political consequences. If Weiner does not go away the Democrats will “never” again control of the House. And see if you recognize yourself in the last  statement.

” Because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian, conservative, culturally-you can say” backward” if you want-they don’t like this stuff.”

Thank goodness I didn’t hear  Bill Maher and Jane Lynch give a dramatic? comedic? reading of Weiner’s text messages. Wonder what Paul Harvey would have thought?

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Culinary Overkill

Living in a small community will be  definition limit one’s choices  for dining out. No brainer concept there. Generally speaking, I am okay with that since if I get really desperate I can drive to Virginia Beach or Chesapeake or to the Outer Banks. It shows how ” not desperate” I am that I rarely do this except on special occasions. But last week, while in Atlanta to see the new granbaby, I got a chance to see how the other half lives.

It would have been almost enough just to able to walk to Dunkin Donuts any morning I chose to indulge my munchkin cravin’. But no,  there was much more. We were able to enjoy food at four quite distinctive restaurants. Two were franchises, albeit small ones, while the other two are indigenous to Atlanta. By the way, I heartily endorse all four.

My favorite  would have to be Ted’s Montana Grill, home of the bison burger and founded by  the one and only Ted Turner. Probably the most amazing burger ever. But there was also a very good pizza place  known as Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, local only at this time. Reminded me of a Subway the way one could pick ingredients of one’s choosing. Then there was Firehouse Subs, actually founded by firemen; also quite good. Finally there was another local place named The Flying Biscuit, my favorite name by far. As the name implies the biscuits are out of sight good, although not sure if they can actually fly. The other menu item that stood out for me especially ( being Southern by birth) were their tasty and creamy grits. I  would have been very happy dining on biscuits and grits.

The  service was excellent as was the food and they were all kinda fun places in which to dine. Wouldn’t make much of  a food critic, would I? Compliments to the chiefs, et al.

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does 128 have to do with 45?

At first glance one would think that the two numbers have very little in common. And I wish that they did not. But  in the world of  NASCAR star  Kyle Busch they have very much in common. It  seems that just a few day ago that Mr Busch was clocked by some North Carolina sheriffs deputies ( probably in either Cabarrus, Iredell or Mecklenburg counties) at a  speed of 128 mph in  a   45   mph speed zone.  Just ponder those numbers for a  moment and then wonder what speed you were driving when you got  a speeding  ticket.  I   am certain that almost all of us would be in that category.

Busch, who was driving  a borrowed Lexus  at  the time, has made the   obligatory  apology and stated that he showed poor judgment. Duh!

Ever since  I  first  heard about that this I have been quite perturbed. One of those levels is  thinking about what could have happened had just a little something gone wrong, major traffic accident or traffic fatality come  quickly to mind. And the second  thought is what consequences will there be?

After having talked to  a few people  today I feel very disheartened  about their being any consequences at all that really mean anything. Take his driver’s license, he can still drive a racecar since he doesn’t need it. Levy  a large fine, say $150,000. To a professional athlete of his stature that doesn’t mean much. Remedial driving course, public service announcement about the evils of speeding, right.

And think about these last two items. What if you were caught speeding at just twice the legal limit, not almost three times. What do you think might happen to the next speeder caught in whichever county Busch was caught? Bet that the person’s lawyer will have a field day.

Oh and as for this damaging him in the eyes of fans, not very likely.

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 8,1886

One hundred twenty-five years ago today, in Atlanta, Ga, a momentous event took place. The after effects are still with us in ways that could never have been envisioned by James S  Pemberton or the customers of  Jacobs Pharmacy. For those untold millions whose thirst has been quenched by a ” Co-Cola” as my wife famously said after the birth of our first child, and Mello- Yello lovers everywhere, it should almost be  a holiday. Yep, it was the day in which the first Coke was served.

I don’t really care much about the secret formula or if somebody has actually published  it somewhere. I have very little interest  in knowing that   the beverage actually had cocaine for a time. I just know that there have been many times that nothing but a Coke would satisfy or quench  my thirst as jingles have proclaimed. It has settled my stomach many times, has smoothed the way for many a hot dog and hamburger and still does. In the interest of disclosure I  would be remiss if I failed to mention that Mello-Yello shares the top spot now. But it is  a Coke product, of course.

It is interesting that an NC native, the home state of Pepsi, would be such a loyal  Coke consumer, but there you have it. I well remember in my hometown of Leaksville, NC as it was known then, watching the Coke bottles go round and round at a bottler? or distributor and thinking how cool that was.

But in the interest of history as I remember it I recall that while living in Columbus, Ga in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s that there was  the John S Pemberton house located on  a brick paved street near the Chattahoochee River where I often indulged my then affinity for running. There was a  plaque on the grounds identifying that house as being that of one John S Pemberton who concocted the formula for Coke and then rushed off to the big city.

Actually he probably refined the formula  after moving to Atlanta where the product was not well received until being bought by Asa Chandler with the rest being history. Ironically for me, Dr Pemberton,  a pharmacist by trade, was actually born in North Carolina and buried in Columbus. Finally I have an NC connection for Coke. Have to go now, it is time for  a Mello-Yello!

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Train Wrecks are never a pretty sight

This holds true whether there is an actual train involved or if  one is describing  a person whose life seems to be spiraling out of control. Sadly we seem to be seeing one of the later before our very eyes in the case of Charlie Sheen. I have not followed his career all that closely although I did enjoy the  movie Major League several years ago.

Most of us are more familiar than we care to be with his bizarre behaviour of late accompanied by interviews and statements that are perhaps even more bizarre. Of  course the tabloids and celebrity magazines such as People and Us are having a field day. I  can hardly imagine the wealth of material that all this is providing for Letterman, Leno and O’Brien. Sheen is proving a gold mine for all these media outlets.

I read one quote from Sheen that basically said if I am insane I have no problem with that. This is not an act. Another one that is already becoming too popular is the reference to himself as having tiger blood. But are those statements any more disturbing in the long run that  people saying they know they shouldnt be watching this but cannot turn away? Or how about the 1 million people who become his followers on Twitter within hours after his account was opened? Are there that many folks who  care that much about what outlandish thing Sheen might do next? And if there are, why do they care?

Perhaps even more disturbing is that this latest batch of actions is something that could almost have een predicted. If one looks back at his  past actions, it is not too hard to see a pattern. Or maybe one could just have asked Denise Richards. And just think about his children. I doubt that they will say about their father what almost inexplicably Martin Sheen  said about his son, you are my hero.

One can only hope that as much as he has recently trashed programs and methods of help that Sheen will actually avail himself of competent , professional help, away from the media glare, far away. And mercifully may the third or fourth time for such treatment actually work.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Entertainment, Media | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dope Wagons and Bottles of Milk

One of the best perks of growing a bit older is reminiscing about days gone by and of course, emphasizing how much better it was then. This thought struck me today in a brief  conversation I had with an older customer on my mail route. And since last weekend when we traveled to my hometown and talked a  bit about days gone by, the past has been very present with me.

Let me hasten to add that there are no illegal substances referred to in the title of this post. Just wanted to clarify that.

Both of my parents were long time  employees of what was then Fieldcrest Mills, Inc, an Eden,Nc based textile manufacturer. Both were production employes in  what was  known simply as the Blanket Mill. She was  a spooler hand and he was a warper tender. Their careers began around  the 1930’s or 40’s and in those days there were no canteens  or break rooms as we know today to take a few moments for  a soft drink or cup of coffee. If my memory is at least partly accurate, the snacks/drinks etc were delivered by a pushcart that made its rounds through the  plant. Again, this next is my recollection of what I was told. The carts were known as dope wagons since they also distributed a variety of headache remedies, a virtual necessity.  Or they might have been called by that name since  a Coke was  at one time known as  a “dope.”Cant prove but I  bet that Goodys, a Richard Petty favorite,  was a popular choice. I actually  have a  hazy memory of touring the plant as a child and being overwhelmed by the pungent aromas coming from the bleachery department.

Part deux of the title  is from a delightful memory I have of home delivery of our  milk by the Pet Milk  man. The empty glass bottles were placed on the porch the night  before I think with  a note “ordering” the milk /juice to be delivered that morning. For many years I thought that Pet was the only milk available . To this day however, I believe that  milk  should  be available only in glass bottles simply because it is  a”proven” fact that it tastes better.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Culture, History | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I insane?

I have heard it said that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting  a different result. Based solely on that criteria I may be crazier than I  sometimes seem to be. I shall attempt to illustrate my situation by virtue of three examples, two of which can be grouped together.

          Exhibit A

From time to time while delivering mail, I will stop at a fast food establishment for some refreshment. Today was one of those days. My mistake, alas,  was in the place I chose. Hardee’s  and  I have not had a very good relationship in recent years primarily due to the excruciatingly service that seems to be their trademark . And so it was today. Here I am,the only customer  in the building and I waited almost 5 minutes, finally departing with no beverage. Having had these experiences several times, it begs the question, why do I continue to subject myself to this?  See title.

Exhibits B & C

Our next two examples fall into the same category. In our little town of Elizabeth City one is frequently encouraged, nay admonished to shop at home. The  multiple benfits to the local economy are extolled, etc. However, although I agree with this sentiment to  a point, I have had two instances  withinh the last severral days that  are changing my opinion, On the verge of runbning out of  ink on our computer printer, we went to  our local Office Max only to discover that they had every kind of Dell ink cartridge imaginable save the one we needed. Wal-Mart, same result, Ordered it from Dell, got it in 2 days. The secpnd example concerned my faothful companion, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, which I have bought the last few years. Lo, and behold, no one locally seems to have it, Yet another, aarrgh!!!

So, do my behaviors indicate a  problem severe enough to require me to never shop again? Or, do I resort exclusively to the online world( except for food)? Yet another unfathomable dilemma.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Business, Culture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Sheriff

The tragic events that took place in Tucson, AZ about two weeks ago have garnered much attention and have generated   a lot of commentary and analysis. Sadly, the event draws our attention, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. There are an almost innumerable  number of ways to discuss the event and I have pondered just how to do that. I have noticed that at least one media source focused on just one aspect of the tragedy(Sports Illustrated) and I shall attempt to do so as well.

Having said that, it is still exciting to see the great progress made by Rep. Giffords who headed to rehab today. Our prayers go with her as well as for all those adversely affected by the shooting

But the aspect that I want to  focus on is a person who has been quite visible and quite outspoken since the event took place. That is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Like most people outside of Arizona and probably law enforcement circles I had never heard of the sheriff until a  few days ago. But now methinks I have heard far too much.

But, first a little background. Sheriff Dupnik was first appointed to his post in 1980, then elected and re-elected six more times. He is a native Texan, aged 75. Although I heard him say that he graduated from the university( presumably Arizona) with a degree in psychology, he actually got his degree from Keeler Institute in Chicago which is probably a fine institution even though he failed to mention it by name.

Until being silenced by the local district attorney’s office a couple of days ago, he has been the “face” of the investigation or maybe the voice would be more accurate term.I haven’y been fortunate to hear or read all of his  statements but some of which I am aware have been real humdingers. Before  elaborating, this makes one wonder about his media experience. It would seem that in a county as large as Pima, there would have been a number of somewhat high-profile cases, requiring his interaction with the media. Admittedly, there were probably none this high-profile. But with someone who has been described as fond of the limelight, how he could he say some of the things he has said.

This statement came on January 8, the day of the shooting when he opined that Arizona was the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Bet the chamber of commerce and tourism people cant wait to use that one. Or, a comment that the Bush-era tax cute and their recent extension (which Obama favored) was some  kind of motivation for violence. In the same interview with  Sari Horowitz on a Washington Post blog he maintained that rush had published his office’s email address, nearly crashing the system. Only problem, Rush didn’t do it. Of course, he had had already blamed Rush by name, before it was learned that the shooter was an apolitical guy.

There are calls for his recall(no pun intended) but I think there are misguided. The voters of Pima County have voted for him 7 times, they surely should get their money’s worth. Makes one wonder how that happened, huh?

January 22, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Troubling Topic

I write this post with a bit of trepidation as the topic is somewhat personal to me. It brings back memories from many years ago,all the way back to what was then known as junior high. My junior high years were hands down some of my hardest. Truth be told, they probably were my hardest. I rarely dwell on those times   but some recent events have brought them to mind once again.

The topic referred to in the title is that of bullying. My wife mentioned today a recent example of what is popularly called cyber-bullying. The young people in question were asked why they posted such critical information online, some of which may have been fabricated.(That I do not know for  a fact.) Their response was that no one liked the girl in question anyway and besides, it was fun. Thankfully this particular young lady did not commit suicide, although several young people have done just that.

I  am well aware that bullying is not new and went on far earlier than my own experience. You can find some  quite apropos examples in the Bible. Try Jacob and Esau or Joseph and his brothers and see if those accounts seem comparable to our culture.

What bothers  me is that acts of bullying today are on a much different level  than what I  experienced and the bullying can become somewhat exponential as it is disseminated through various social networking  media. No wonder that the effects are greater and both the act and its impact are so widely publicized.

I really  have no solid answers, but I am unsure whether more and more laws are helpful. I have tried to draw analogies with my own personal experience, the specifics  of which I have never shared with anyone. What might have happened to me had those events from long ago  been published for the viewing “pleasure” of others?  I just don’t know, but shudder to think of the possibilities.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Technology | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments