Obama and the BCS

Well, guess what the Obama Administration is up to now. Why, its college football. Specifically it is the Bowl Championship Series that is in place to decide a national champion. We need not be surprised since President-elect Obama made reference to this issue in 2008. The phrase was “throw my weight around a little bit.” Now, we have a letter from Utah senator Orrin Hatch and ominous sounding words from Assistant Attorney General  for the Office of Legislative Affairs, Ronald Weich.

Mr Weich is apparently considering  an investigation into the possible violation of antitrust laws by the BCS.Mnay fans and critics are unhappy with the system now in place, but Senator Hatch may be the most vocal and influential. His ire was raised when the University of Utah was denied a spot in the  championship game last year, after going undefeated. This year, two other teams, Boise State and TCU fell into the same group.

Yes, there is a lot of money involved in the  BCS, primarily from television. Perhaps, the system could use some tweaking to make it more fair. I have often wondered, even before there was  a BCS, why  a playoff was not in place. My alma mater  Appalachian State plays in the  what is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision for schools a bit less high-powered. This division has had a playoff system in place for some time. It would seem that the big boys could make use of a similar system, incorporating a number of the existing bowl games.

What I do not want to see is the feds once again jumping into the middle of an issue and completely mucking things up, no mater their intentions. Shame on you Senator Hatch, a Republican no less, providing the administration an opening, which they seem to relish.

Besides, I think that Eric Holder and the Justice Department have much bigger things on their plate. Maybe a terrorist trial and whether to have it in New York City,hmm?

Sports and politics- not  a good combination.


January 31, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things I Did Not Learn in School

I have no doubt that it would take a lot of books to contain what I did not learn in school( public school as well as college) and it actually does , I guess. But being a big history buff, what I recently learned in a novel just astounded me. I will admit that my real fondness for history  kinda  hit in college, although it was beginning to develop sooner.

I had some really good professors in that process. I remember Dr Ross in Latin American history and Dr Tien Mien Wu (hope I spelled that right) in Asian history. Alas, the other names have been withdrawn from the memory bank. In those days, there was a lot of note taking as well as a lot of reading and essay writing; all of which seemed tailor-made for me. I don’t seem to remember a course in American history. Since my course selection was up to me, perhaps I thought that was one area I did not need to study. Duh! Was I and have I been wrong.

I have recently rediscovered an author named Vince Flynn whose works have been described as high concept political intrigue. Rush highly endorses him, but even if you are not a Rush fan, Flynn might still be worth a read.

I have just finished “Memorial Day”, written in 2004 and am anticipating his latest, “Pursuit of Honor” as soon as the  library calls. Most, but not all, of his books feature a CIA operative named Mitch Rapp, a quite results oriented guy. He is the kind of guy that Ioften hope we actually have in the service of our country.

My big time history lesson comes from the latter stages of Memorial Day and I quote.

                   “The fathers of America had designed their city to form  a crucifix.The Washington Monument marked the center, with the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial forming te longer center line while the Jefferson Memorial and the White House formed the shorter horizontal line.”

I have never visited the capital, so I had to resort to a map from  the lonelyplanet to check Flynn out. Sure  enough, it works. I think what really intrigued me about the above description is that I probably never heard it in school and I seriously doubt one would hear about it today.

thanks, Mr Flynn, keep writing about Mitch and we will keep reading!

(I minored in history at Appalachian State and given my grades in history versus my major, perhaps the roles should have been reversed. )

October 24, 2009 Posted by | education, History | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Not A Smart Man, But…….

Thank you, Forest Gump for that inspiration. And neither am I a journalist as qualified as E J Dionne of the Washington Post. But  nevertheless, I read a column of his today that at first left me confused and then a bit  concerned.Mr Dionne was writing in general about Republican attacks on the Democrats’ health care proposals(translation, Obamacare?) and specifically about a claim made by Virginia Foxx, a Republican from  Banner Elk, NC. She said several days ago that the Republican approach to health care would be  more pro-life than that put forward by the Dems. She said the Republican plan “will not put seniors in a  position of being put to death by their own government”. Now, Ms Foxx, who has  a PhD and was formerly a professor at my alma mater of Appalachian State, is presumably not stupid.  However, Mr Dionne calls her notion  ludicrous and that it  is taking off in the right-wing blogosphere. Who knew that the  blogosphere  was divided into wings and which one am I in and can I go back and forth? Guess that is  a topic  for another day.    

  Anyway, what  the columnist and congresswoman are apparently  referring to  is  Section 1233 of the House health bill. He says it has nada to do with euthanasia. Rather it merely provides Medicare$ so seasoned citizens can consult with their docs and obtain”an explanation by the practitioner  of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available.” Now, I read this line several times and read it aloud to  my wife. The more I read it, the more chilling it became  to me. Merriam-Webster online defines continuum as ” coherent whole characterized as a collection , sequence or progression of value or elements varying by minute degree” Ok. The continuum of end of life services-don’t you just love that term- then must progress  by  minute stages towards what? Who is the practioner  referred to? Family physician , Jack Kevorkian type- don’t know.

To me, this particular provision seems to open a door in which euthanasia might, just might, become a bit easier an maybe, just maybe, a bit more frequent. after all, do not forget that we  have scarce medical resources and that seasoned  citizens do take  a  disproportionate share thereof.  Just tossing the issue out for thought and consideration.  Especially since I am moving further along the  path of seasoned citizen.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Know Hate Is A Strong Word, But….

Strong words often generate strong reactions such as this line from a Wayne Watson song. ” Sticks and stones can break my bones,lies  can break my heart, before you fire your poison tongue, contemplate the scar.” Those lyrics came from a song he did years ago that talked about the destructive power of speech. I  trust that my title will not have that kind of impact, for the allusion is not to a person, but rather a thing.

My feelings of antipathy are for the public school system, not in an overall  sense, but rather for my experiences as a public school student and how I fit or rather didn’t fit.

These feelings wandered back to my thoughts when I read a brief book review on a  book entitled Why Don’t Students Like School by psychology professor Daniel Willingham. Dr Willimgham has been at the University of Virginia sice 1992.  Willingham says he in his book content is more important than “learning strategies” . This next part is what got my attention. Kids get bored because teachers don’t know enough about the line between a mind that has too little stimulation and one  that is overwhelmed. That started me thinking, was I one of those and   was that the reason I struggled so much.

Although, that may have been a factor, I’m inclined to think my shortcomings in the area of social interaction were the biggest issue for me. Again, I just didn’t fit. How does a teacher get  a child to fit? I really don’t know. There were some teachers in my early years that I remember positively, more so in the early years, say, grades 1-4. After those years, the positive feelings that I remember became less and less until college, of all things. When I arrived at Rockingham Community College as a freshman, it was as if a light came back on. I liked college there and even more so at Appalachian State. My grades  were pretty good but they had been pretty good in public school. When I made it to college, it was if the pressure was off and I could be myself, whatever that was, and no one minded .

Perhaps, it went from being required to go to having an option. Being exposed to different types of people with different backgrounds helped as well. So, those who are afflicted with an antipathy toward school from days gone by, it’s ok. Skip those class reunions if you want, don’t wax nostalgic and most importantly, try to dismiss the junk with which you put up as I am doing. It by no means must define you anymore.

One picture as a close. My very frist school was Burton Grove Elementary in Leaksville, NC (now Eden) Although no longer a school, it still remains the place where it all began.

Burton Grove Elementary School(flickr.com)

Burton Grove Elementary School(flickr.com)

The caption perhaps tells it all of a school that once served well, now sits empty and abandoned, shuttered and decaying. Rest in peace, home of the Burton Grove Bulldogs.

June 28, 2009 Posted by | education, History | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Anniversary to Us !

Today is  a national holiday or at least it should be. A grand total of  36 (yes I know, forever) years ago, at 4:00 pm in the afternoon, I became a happily married man. And I still am. The place was Blackwell Memorial Baptist Church, located on North Road St here in good ole Elizabeth City. There was a varied cast of characters, some alas who are no longer with us. But on  that sultry June day, I only had eyes for  one I considered the most beautiful girl in the world.

I don’t remember everything about that day but I do remember a certain picture of us proceeding up the aisle after the ceremony. As I recall, I was accurately described as looking like a deer in the glare of headlights. I suppose that’s why I stepped on the train of my new wife’s dress during the reception. only a  minor calamity as it were.

So, in the words of the Carpenters song( that I really,really wanted sung at the wedding but was not) it could be rightly said”We’ve Only Just Begun” . A journey that began with a nervous college student in the Cone dorm lobby at Appalachian State University some 32 months earlier reached fruition on June 10, 1973.

By the grace of God, it  continues today and I still maintain that I got the better deal. I love  you, honey and Happy Anniversary again.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Family | , , , , | Leave a comment

First Love ( Not what you might think )

Admittedly , the above is a slightly misleading title in that the subject in question is not a person but a thing , kinda, sorta . Oh okay , I’m talking sports and for those who know me more than a little , the first love has to be UNC related and so it is . I thought it appropriate since football is heading down the home stretch, women’s soccer is poised for a  strong finish and a highly touted basketball team starts play on November 15th . Plus , we are anticipating going to our first football game  in several years and will be enjoying it with the other tarheel fanatics in our family, my youngest sister and her husband , obviously also very intelligent people . I have been asked numerous times over the years how I could attend  Appalachian State and still remain a diehard Carolina fan .

Well, my connection  with the Apps  began in 1970 while my Carolina ties beagn as early as 1958 or 59 , generally speaking forever . That connection has even  survived a stint in Georgia bulldog country so it is somewhat well entrenched . It is rather interesting  that of all the sports teams that I latched onto as a  kid, all the other attachments have faded, some to the point  of near non- existence . Oh well, as a famous song says, ” Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred  and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead . ”


November 3, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment