Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quote of the day: Advice from Billy Graham

"When we face decisions, we need to remember that God hasn't left us in the dark, nor is He uninterested. God loves us, and He wants what is best for us. He has a perfect path in life for us, and He wants us to choose it instead of the wrong paths Satan would tempt us to follow...He also gives us wisdom (sometimes through other people) to understand our situation, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us. Never make a decision without committing it to God and seeking His will. He promises to guide you -- and He will."

(Special thanks to Nightly Daily reader Leanne for submitting this)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Was 2008 really a great season for the Alabama Crimson Tide?

Perhaps the greatest overstatement regarding the 2008 college football campaign was that Alabama had a great season. This simply was not the case. True, the program did enjoy a resurgence. The Tide won its first 12 games and spent time atop the college football polls. However, aside from a divisional championship, Bama did not accomplish much.

Alabama lost the SEC title game to Florida then got embarrassed by Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Since when does this qualify for greatness? Really, the Tide did not accomplish more than Tennessee did in 2007. The Vols won the SEC East in '07 before losing to LSU in the conference title game. Actually, the Vols did the Tide one better by beating a good Wisconsin team in its bowl game. Therefore, a person can make a compelling argument that Tennessee had a better 2007 season than Alabama did in 2008.

At this point, the Tide is entering the 2009 season on a two-game losing streak. And that does not define greatness.

I wonder what 'Bear' Bryant thinks of all this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

'Blind Willie McTell' likely the best Bob Dylan song that remains unknown to many

Even a casual Bob Dylan fan knows that he often leaves excellent songs off his albums. This was proven when the box set Biograph was released in the mid-1980s. Many songs left on the cutting-room floor finally got some well-deserved attention. These included the remarkable "Up to Me" (left off Blood on the Tracks) and "Caribbean Wind" (left off Shot of Love).

However, the greatest of these lost classics is "Blind Willie McTell." Originally recorded during the sessions for the Infidels album, it is amazing that it did not make the album's final version. Luckily, it was released in the early 90s on The Bootleg Series: Volumes 1-3.

Howard Sounes, author of Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, had this to say about the song:

""Blind Willie McTell" was simply one of the greatest songs he (Dylan) had ever written. Born sometime around 1901, '"Blind" Willie McTell was a blues singer and twelve-string guitarist who lived most of his life in Atlanta, Georgia, making recordings that had the easy sound of an artist utterly assured of his music. Although not a name to mainstream audiences, the blues player was legendary among musicians. In lamenting the passing of McTell, who died in semiobscurity in 1959, Bob conjured up a vivid dreamscape of the South: magnolia flowers in bloom, plantations, and ghostly slave ships. The narrator stepped back from the tableau in the last verse -- a Brechtian shift in perspective, as in the last verse of "Black Diamond Bay" -- and stared out of a hotel window, contemplating the fact that nobody could sing the blues as well as "Blind" Willie McTell. The modesty of these lyrics -- though "Blind Willie McTell" illustrated clearly that Bob himself was a mighty blues singer -- added to the power of the song, completing a great tribute to the heritage of African-American music."

Pretty strong stuff. Get this song if you don't already have it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When whiners win

On many occasions, I have sat in on conversations and listened to people say that the Tennessee Highway Patrol must have a quota system when it comes to giving speeding tickets.

Usually, the people doing the talking in these conversations have received a ticket recently from a member of the THP. Their faces tend to be quite red as they recount their experience, and they typically provide several opinions about why they are right about the alleged quota system.

They tend to rant and rant and rant until they run out of energy. It is not until the end of these discussions that they actually admit that they were speeding. I do not know why they delay their admission of guilt. Maybe the frustration of getting a ticket overrides their ability to take responsibility for their actions.

This issue was recently revisited when WTVF in Nashville presented a special report on the matter. The report included a memo allegedly written by a THP sergeant in Springfield that appeared to link the number of tickets written by state troopers to quicker career advancement.

Col. Mike Walker, head of the state highway patrol, denied that there is a quota system, and that the memo did not represent department policy. He basically said the sergeant was acting on his own when he wrote it.

During WTVF's report, there were no allegations that the THP was giving tickets to people who were not speeding. The report only focused on the alleged quota.

When it comes to this issue, I can only state that I do not care whether there is a quota system or not. As long as the THP is giving tickets to those who deserve it, that is good enough for me.

This is a bit of a sore subject for me. I have a long commute each work day so I spend a lot of time on our interstates. Each day I watch people zoom by me with no apparent regard for the speed limit.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I have exceeded the speed limit every now and then. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone on that one.

The main point is that people do not receive nearly as many tickets as they deserve. When I hear people whine about the possibility of a quota system, it frustrates me because most of these people are folks who simply will not take responsibility for what they have done.

Trust me, if law enforcement agencies (not just the THP, but city police and county sheriff departments as well) really cracked down on speeding, there would be a glut of cars pulled over on the side of the road each day.

If that happened, the whining of people would be so shrill that it would shatter glass in China. Children would look at their parents and wonder why mom and dad were the ones acting child-like. The focus of people would be on how they were being victimized when they were the ones doing the law breaking.

So, for those reading this who do not like the current system, it could be a lot different. The THP does a great job managing our road system. I've personally been on the receiving end of help from them when I've been stuck on the side of the road.

My advice is to stop worrying about quotas and start following the rules.

It will save people a lot of grief not to mention making the roads safer for everybody.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The semi-erotic adventures of the Oscar Mayer wienermobile

Last weekend, I totally missed the news about the Oscar Mayer wienermobile being involved in a wreck that saw it driven into the garage of a Wisconsin home. For those who do not know, the wienermobile is a hot dog shaped automobile that the Oscar Mayer company uses to promote its products around the country.

When I attended the University of Tennessee, I knew somebody who did a summer internship for Oscar Mayer, and she spent a lot of her time riding around in it. I guess there are crazier ways to get public relations experience.

As for this accident, the photo of the wiener crammed into the house's garage is funny in a lot of ways. Though I know I'll come across as immature, there are also a lot of innuendos that can be generated from that giant hot dog disappearing into the open and receiving building.

Ah, well, such is the life of a hot dog car.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An excellent baseball season is unfolding

Well, if it is late July, then it is time to talk baseball. Of course, the season began back in April, but the season really kicks into gear just after the all-star game. The races in both leagues are shaping up to be memorable ones. Here are my picks to win both leagues.

American League: Boston Red Sox. In analyzing the American League, only two teams really stand out. As in many previous years, the stretch drive will likely be a bitter duel between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees. I used the word 'bitter' because baseball fans know the rivalry between these two teams is Major League Baseball's best.

I base this mostly because there are not many other teams playing well. I know there is a long time to go in the season, but other than the Angels, nobody else is doing much. Well, Tampa Bay has been turning some heads lately. Still, the rest of the league is quiet.

It was tempting to pick New York. Their new stadium is a hitter's dream. Both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Texieria should spend the summer pounding home runs. Additionally, pitcher C.C. Sabathia should continue to find his groove as the season unfolds.

The reason I did not pick them is simple: I hate them. New York is one of those teams that a person either loves or hates. I just don't like their style. The mere thought of picking them made my stomach tighten up and caused my throat to start making a spastic gurgling noise.

So, I am going with the Red Sox. Slumping David Ortiz is regaining his home run stroke, and if pitcher John Smoltz continues to improve on his way back from injury, the Sox's top notch rotation will get even better.

National League: Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have the best record in the National League, and nobody else is close. Obviously, part of their success is because the team plays in the most erratic division in the league. However, give the Dodgers credit for knowing how to handle adversity.

When star slugger Manny Ramirez got suspended for 50 games for flunking a drug test, it looked like the team's hot start might come to a screeching halt. It didn't happen. The team's winning percentage continues to be above .600.

Orlando Hudson, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and James Loney lead a consistent offense. The pitching staff has an ERA well under four runs. The ingredients are there for success with or without Manny though his return should give the team a big boost.

No other team in the league looks as attractive as the Dodgers. The New York Mets are underachievers (I don't want to hear about their injuries). The Philadelphia Phillies have been up and down, but have been scorching lately. Both the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are playing well, but I think a lot of their success is smoke and mirrors. Houston is surging and may be the team to watch in the Central Division.

World Series pick: I like the Dodgers to beat the Red Sox. Sometimes a team has the look of a champion, and this year, it looks like Los Angeles.

At least, so far.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walter Cronkite, R.I.P

On Friday, legendary news broadcaster Walter Cronkite died at age 92. Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News until 1981, and he was likely the most respected person in television news history.

At the height of his power, Cronkite was voted the most trusted man in America in a poll, and it was a reputation that stuck to him. These days many Americans view journalism and the media with a lot of cynicism. This alone should show us how much the media (and the United States) have changed in the last three decades.

Cronkite represented an era when news was reported sharply and to the point. This was before 24-hour cable news channels so the responsibilities of the nightly newscasts on CBS, NBC, and ABC were immense. Since then, everything has changed, and not for the better in most cases.

Now, most television journalists are known as much for their personality as for the news they report. Not good. Additionally, most of these people are easily identified with a political ideology. Also, not good.

These problems took place back in Cronkite's day as well, but not to the level we see today. Some dismissed Cronkite as a liberal, but he felt the news was the thing. These days, most electronic news journalists seem to be more interested in pandering to an audience to guarantee ratings instead of reporting what the public needs to hear. Many news programs are nothing more than a bunch of people yelling at each other. Cronkite thought this was a form of pandering (are you listening Keith Olbermann?).

Cronkite was a legend, and surely we all realize that we do not lose these types of people every day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

King David can help us understand Steve McNair's death and decisions better

It has been two weeks since the death of former Tennessee Titans' quarterback Steve McNair. He was shot to death by his mistress in a murder-suicide that continues to impact thousands in Middle Tennessee.

There is a lot that can be learned from this event. The circumstances of his death do not need much elaboration. He made bad decisions, and they dearly cost him.

If nothing else, his decision making leading up to his death should teach us to never let our guard down. When most of us make mistakes, we have the opportunity to correct them.

However, McNair will not have that opportunity. Because of this, he leaves a shattered family and stunned friends. His wife, Mechelle, has become a widow under the most painful of circumstances. His four sons likely face years of struggling as they come to terms with their father's death and the situation in which it took place.

As a culture, we put famous athletes on a pedestal, but McNair's decision making shows that he was just like the rest of us. We are all capable of making horrible decisions like he did, and if a person thinks otherwise, he needs to go take a long look in the mirror.

His mistakes remind me a lot of the actions of King David in the Old Testament. David was described as a man after God's own heart. He was passionately devoted to God, and the impact of his life can still be felt thousands of years later.

Of course, as time passed, he made a lot of bad decisions, too. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her soldier husband Uriah killed in battle. There were other poor decisions associated with this situation, and his mistakes also had a shattering impact on him and the people around him.

David was an exalted man, but despite his status, his decisions revealed him to be just a man capable of making decisions to sin. If he and McNair can make these decisions, we must remember that we can, too.

In the aftermath of McNair's death, we also learned how to keep shocking events in perspective. Frankly, I believe folks in Middle Tennessee deserve credit for not allowing his death to become just another "scandal of the week."

In recent years, when a well-known person has fallen, the tendency has been to focus intensely on what that person has done wrong. While this is sometimes necessary, it often has resulted in the loss of all the other characteristics of that person. This approach has caused us to lose sight of how important it is to maintain a balanced approach when sizing up people and situations.

The media and those close to McNair did a good job of helping us maintain a well-rounded idea of who he was. Some criticized this by saying that they were protecting McNair too much and de-emphasizing the circumstances of his death.

Those critics are wrong. There is nothing the media or his friends could have said that will wash away the stain of how he died. It is part of his legacy. From this point, when a person thinks of McNair, his manner of death will be part of those memories. I don't know if that is fair or not, but it is a fact.

Despite the trauma of his death, life will continue. Even events that rattle us fade into the background over time.

If nothing else, this reminds us not to take life for granted.

It can all go quickly away.

And ease up on the finger pointing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quote of the day: A tip for success

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." -- Woody Allen.

Well, I guess I was eighty percent successful today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vanderbilt football poised to become a consistent winner in the SEC

Vanderbilt's football team was one of the best stories of the 2008 season. Having not had a winning season or a bowl berth since 1982, the Commodores scratched for six wins then beat a good Boston College team in the Music City Bowl to finish 7-6.

Their success is a reminder of just how pointless pre-season predictions can be. Most experts picked Vanderbilt to have a losing season last year. My Vanderbilt prediction was one of my worst in 2008. I said they would go 3-9 (click here to read my lamentable prediction in its entirety), and I continue to eat crow for that pick.

This year, Vanderbilt is a fascinating team to study. On the positive side, the Commodores have a ton of talent returning. Eight starters on offense and nine starters on defense are back. In the ultra-competitive SEC, a team can never have too much experience.

The key to the team is who will emerge as starting quarterback. Mackenzi Adams and Larry Smith will battle for the spot, but regardless of how it shakes out, both players will likely see time on the field during the season. If Vandy becomes more consistent at quarterback and takes advantage of having so much returning talent, the team could be considerably better this year.

However, that conclusion over-simplifies the situation in which Vanderbilt finds itself. Frankly, one issue that must be addressed is whether or not the team can handle prosperity. It is a fair question. This is a situation the program has not experienced in decades (if ever). It's easy to be the underdog, but when expectations are high, it can weigh on a team.

Additionally, this year's schedule is a challenge. Every SEC team plays a tough schedule because of how competitive the conference is. Here is Vandy's slate:

Sept. 5: vs. Western Carolina
Sept. 12: at LSU
Sept. 19: vs. Mississippi State
Sept. 26: at Rice
Oct. 3: vs. Ole Miss
Oct. 10: at Army
Oct. 17: vs. Georgia
Oct. 24: at South Carolina
Oct. 31: vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 7: at Florida
Nov. 14: vs. Kentucky
Nov. 21: at Tennessee

The first thing that leaps off the schedule is that Vandy does not have a bye week. Will playing 12 games in 12 weeks grind the team down? Plus, the 'Dores only play six home games. This means they must find wins on the road to qualify for a bowl.

All the home games are winnable, but Georgia Tech may be too strong. The Yellow Jackets came on strong at the end of last season (just ask Georgia). However, if Vandy loses a couple at home, they could offset this with winnable road games at Rice, Army, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Commodores should win at least two of those.

I see Vanderbilt going 6-6 again with another trip to a bowl. It won't be the Music City Bowl because bowls don't like to have teams in consecutive years. The Liberty Bowl or Independence Bowl is the likely landing spot.

If this happens, Vandy will go to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, to be in Barrow now that summer is here

If it is summer, then it is time to check on the weather in Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is the northernmost permanent settlement in the United States. Because of this, people there experience the worst weather has to offer in the winter.

However, during summer, Barrow catches a break. At least, I look at it from that perspective here in Tennessee. While we experience heat and humidity during the summer, Barrow often experiences mild temperatures that make me envious.

Other than a brief hot stretch in mid-June, Middle Tennessee has not had a brutally hot stretch yet this year. Temperatures have been around normal, but that is still a bit much for me. Highs around 90 degrees with high humidity on a regular basis is not my idea of fun.

This week, Barrow will experience high temperatures in the 60s with lows in the 40s. Tuesday will be partly sunny with a high of 65. The forecast is the same for Wednesday, but on Thursday, it will be mostly cloudy with a high around 60.

In other words: perfect.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Michael Jackson is not really dead

Michael Jackson is not dead – at least not in the way that most of us know him.

Unless somebody got the chance to personally meet Jackson (click here for more information on him), we only knew him through the media.

Whether it was his music, his videos, his interviews or the reporting of his personal life, none of us had a close relationship with him. For some, it may feel like they had a personal relationship with him, but they did not.

He was only an idol that they worshipped.

Because of this, our relationship will continue with Jackson as if he never really died.

He definitely will continue to be a presence when it comes to the news media. Despite polling data that indicates Jackson's death has been covered too much, media outlets continue to bury us in it.

The 24-hour cable news channels certainly are eating this up. A week or so before his death, these channels were convincing us that the election protests in Iran were historic. They told us that change there would impact the fundamental fabric of the Middle East.

However, these stories disappeared into the night when Jackson died. It became all about Michael for several days, and he remains a staple in their programming a couple of weeks later.

Additionally, the Internet has exploded in Michael Jackson coverage. Just a casual search of cyberspace reveals that he remains a king.

So, our relationship with him continues. In fact, a person can make a compelling argument that he is bigger than ever. He certainly has a larger place in our lives.

Before his death, he was only a lurking presence in the background. True, he had been in the news because of the comeback concerts he was planning in Europe.

This was much bigger news over there than it was here. In America, we took notice of what he was doing, but he was not much more than a blip on the radar.

Now, he is back and is getting as much exposure as he did back in the 1980s.

This is not that unusual when it comes to performers. The rock band the Doors saw a revival in interest in their music almost a decade after it broke up in the aftermath of singer Jim Morrison's death.

When the revival took place, it became so potent that Rolling Stone magazine put Morrison on its cover with the title: "He's hot. He's sexy, and he's dead."

Of course, the magazine was cashing in on Morrison's popularity, and this should continue in Jackson's case.

There have already been reports that tons of unreleased music are in the Jackson vault. These are likely songs rejected by Jackson for inclusion on his albums. Despite this, expect the songs to hit the market soon.

Whoever gains control of his unreleased music, they will likely have material to release for several years. We saw this with Elvis, Tupac Shakur, and Jimi Hendrix. My guess is that Jackson fans will be opening gifts this Christmas that include his 'new' music.

And let us not forget about existing Jackson product. Albums like Thriller, Off The Wall, and Bad have already zoomed back up the chart. Despite his immense fortune, Jackson has a chance to make more in death than in life. That is pretty staggering.

The marketing of the next phase of Michael Jackson's 'life' should be interesting to behold. Though it will be different, it will remain the same in many ways.

It will be all about pushing the Jackson image and his music.

In other words, our relationship with him will be the same.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Teaching of Jesus regarding materialism just as important today

ustIf there were ever a biblical passage that applies to the United States today, it is the encounter Jesus had with a wealthy young man recorded in Mark 10:17-31.

In this passage, a wealthy young man approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus reminded him of the commandments, and the young man replied that he had followed them since he was a boy.

However, Jesus looked at him and loved him then told him there was one thing he lacked. Mark 10:21: "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me."

The young man's face fell, and he went away unhappy. Jesus then told his disciples that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Technically, Jesus did not tell the young man what he lacked. However, when He instructed him to sell his possessions, the security he found in his possessions took over, and he went away unhappy. It is clear that the young man was an idolater, and his god was his possessions. The source of his spiritual security was his material items, and he put them first rather than God.

Jesus' statements shocked his disciples. In that day, society interpreted material prosperity as a sign that God looked favorably on a person. However, this was another example of how Jesus took society's norm and turned it on its head. Among other things, Jesus was (and is) a social revolutionary.

This encounter is a prime example of how difficult spiritual commitment can be when it comes to monetary matters. Why was it so difficult for the rich man to leave his possessions behind?

Many times, it can be all too easy to tie feelings of self-worth to the possessions we own. America is a society that embraces the concept of the successful self-made man. Don't get me wrong; it's good to have nice possessions. But when the value we place on those possessions crosses the line and becomes the source of our contentment and peace, then problems arise.

This entire encounter had confused the disciples. Jesus had shattered their long held belief that material prosperity was a sign of God's approval, and this event had left them wondering if anybody could really be saved. Peter needed re-assurance from the Lord.

Jesus reminded him that all believers would receive blessings in the next life that would tower over anything possible in this world.

Our lives will be much better if we can learn to be more and more reliant on this principle. If we can keep an eternal focus, it can help us deal better with the struggles we face day after day.

Certain things try to enchant us. However, trust the Lord for your salvation and source of peace. By doing that, it becomes easier to keep the trials of life in their proper perspective.

Resource material: The Holy Bible; 'Love in Action: The Gospel of Mark' by David C. Cook Church Ministries

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

William Shatner's 'The Transformed Man' a truly entertaining album

Perhaps the greatest paradox regarding the critiques of albums I've provided on this blog is that an album does not have to be great to get noticed. It does not even have to be good. Or mediocre. Or poor. Sometimes an album can be so unusual that the sheer impact of it makes it an essential album for any collection. In other words, this album is a guilty pleasure.

Enter William Shatner. Like any successful actor, I guess Shatner felt the need to expand into other mediums to scratch his creative itch. While it is admirable that he tried to stretch himself creatively, The Transformed Man is an astonishing creation. If ever there were a time for you to believe me, this is the time.

Recorded in 1968, the album was recorded during Shatner's stint as Captain James T. Kirk on the television series Star Trek. Just as the series sought to 'boldly go where no man has gone before,' Shatner tried the same on this album. And he succeeded.

The album is a concept album of sorts. With collaborator and producer Don Ralke, the album grouped songs together in pairs to bring contrasting perspectives to the same subject.

"The idea of grouping the numbers together in pairs is to unfold multiple perspectives of the same subject, like the two sides of a coin, tension and resolution," Ralke wrote in the album's liner notes. "For example, in 'King Henry the Fifth,' the intense speech inciting the soldier's to battle is contrasted with the quiet and poignant aftermath of war in 'Elegy for the Brave.' The other pairs have a similar design."

You may have noticed Ralke referring to an "intense speech" in one of these songs. That is important because Shatner really does not sing any of the songs. The songs are spoken word with musical accompaniment.

Two songs that deserve special recognition are Shatner's version of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Shatner's interpretation of these rock classics is jaw dropping. I never thought I would ever hear bongos on a version of "Mr. Tambourine Man," but now I can die a happy man because Shatner took me there.

I could go on and on and on here, but I want to save some surprises for you if you ever listen to it. It is truly a memorable listening experience. Entertainment can be defined many ways, and this album provides a very unusual definition for that word.

But wait a minute. Maybe it is me that has it all wrong. Maybe this album is so far over my head that I just don't get it. Maybe Shatner has introduced a genre so unique that musical historians will only appreciate it in the decades and centuries to come.

Maybe this album is the glistening jewel of my album collection, and I just don't realize it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Notre Dame football facing win-or-else season in 2009

This year all the excuse making will end for Notre Dame football. The Fighting Irish returns a ton of experience from last year's team. Depending on which depth chart a person goes by, they will return at least nine starters on offense and seven on defense.

The big question is whether or not this experience will result in more success on the field. Though last year's team took a step forward, the season did not live up to the tradition of the program. When I think of Notre Dame football, I don't think about trips to the Hawaii Bowl and 7-6 records. However, after the debacle of 2007, any improvement must have looked good to fans.

Will Jimmy Clausen blossom into a first-rate quarterback? It remains to be seen. When I watch him, he reminds me a lot of his brother Casey who played at Tennessee. Casey was a solid but underrated quarterback, playing in the tough SEC. However, I don't see Notre Dame fans being satisfied with Clausen becoming just a solid quarterback.

Head Coach Charlie Weis is facing a turning point. All he has proven during his tenure is that he was able to win with Tyrone Willingham's players. With Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer openly saying that Notre Dame is his dream job, Weis has to win this year. Meyer is the best head coach of this decade, if not this era. When somebody of his caliber says that, it gets noticed.

So, what will Charlie Weis become? Will he become the coach that leads the blue and gold back to national prominence this year? Or will he go down in history as another Gerry Faust who was a pretty good coach clearly over his head at Notre Dame?

Here is the schedule:

Sept. 5: vs. Nevada
Sept. 12: at Michigan
Sept. 19: vs. Michigan State
Sept. 26: at Purdue
Oct. 3: vs. Washington
Oct. 17: vs. USC
Oct. 24: vs. Boston College
Oct. 31: vs. Washington State (at San Antonio, Texas)
Nov. 7: vs. Navy
Nov. 14: at Pittsburgh
Nov. 21: vs. Connecticut
Nov. 28: at Stanford

Now is the time for Notre Dame to win nine games.

However, I don't see it happening.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oddest Michael Jackson tribute I've heard of so far

From Friday's Tennessean: "The Canadian Football League fined Toronto Argonauts receiver Arland Bruce for 'excessive actions' during his tribute to Michael Jackson after scoring a touchdown. Bruce removed his helmet, shoulder pads and uniform top, then laid down in the end zone. Bruce said he was honoring the memory of Jackson by pretending to be buried."

Highly unusual, but it did get him noticed.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day Kim Jong-il

Well, my fellow Americans, our nation has reached its 233rd birthday, and this fact should make us all feel great.

For all of our struggles and challenges, the United States continues to lead the way when it comes to operating a relatively free and democratic society. I cannot imagine wanting to be a citizen of any other country.

Obviously, these are not the best of times in America. The economy continues in its recession as most experts predict the national unemployment rate will reach 10 percent in the coming months.

Internationally, our hands remain full in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran continues to be a powder keg. However, our most troubling foreign challenge may be coming from North Korea.

Lately, the nation's tyrannical leader Kim Jong-il has been making numerous threats against the United States. Among those threats is that his country may attempt to launch a missile toward Hawaii today.

As you read this, I hope this has not happened. Most experts consider Kim a lunatic and brush off his threats as just more of his ranting. In one way, the experts make sense.

Why would the leader of a small Asian nation attack a world superpower on its national birthday? From a logical standpoint, it does not compute.

This problem is that Kim genuinely is a lunatic. Any leader that declines international aid while his country is undergoing a famine, but at the same time, sends people to Beijing to get him food from McDonald's is a lunatic.

He rules with brutal power, and if he became crazy enough to launch an attack against us, I doubt there is anybody brave enough within his government to stand up to him.

If a launch happened, the missile would fall harmlessly in the ocean, but a hostile act like this would start an international crisis.

This may be what Kim is wanting. This may be a case of a dictator beating his chest to see how a relatively inexperienced leader like President Barack Obama will react.

It is a pretty kooky way of getting attention, but this is what Kim does. On the positive side, I am confident that President Obama understands that Kim is just trying to feel him out.

Still, what if the unthinkable happened and North Korea launched an attack that reached America? The last thing most citizens are thinking about on Independence Day is an attack from the other side of the world.

America is already fighting a war on two fronts. A North Korean attack would definitely be an act of war. Do we have the resources to fight on a third front?

If we aggressively responded to North Korea, they would definitely respond by attacking South Korea, and another big mess would be on the international scene.

However, our nation has been at war since 2001. Another commitment of troops into a war zone would be quite a burden on soldiers that are already wearing out. There is no telling how this would work out.

The bottom line is we cannot predict if others will attack us or not. This applies to international politics as well as our personal lives. Sometimes people fire missiles unexpectedly into our lives, too.

All we can really do is live our lives to the best of our ability. In the long run, it will all fade away. It's a reality Michael Jackson could answer all too well right now. What good is the title the 'King of Pop' doing him now?

No matter what happens, keep it all in perspective.

Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

California 'too big to fail'? I’m getting fed up with this...

The budgetary crisis facing the state of California has received a lot of press. It doesn't have any money, and because of the impact the state has on the national economy, some are hinting a bailout is necessary because the state is "too big to fail."

Too big to fail? We've heard a lot of that lately. We heard that the automakers were too big to let fail so a lot of tax dollars were paid to bail some of them out. We heard that some of the banks that were failing last year were too big to let fail. So, it was the taxpayer to the rescue, as we bailed out a lot of people who appeared clueless about how to run a business.

Maybe California is too big to let fail. However, a lot of us small people are too small to keep bailing out these jackasses.

A day of reckoning is coming...and that right soon.

Ole Miss football won't reach the heights expected of it in 2009

Last year, the Ole Miss Rebels were the surprise team of the SEC football season, according to many experts. However, The Nightly Daily told its readers last summer that the Rebels would likely be the conference's dark horse team (click here to read that prediction).

Ole Miss did not disappoint as it posted a 9-4 record that included an upset of eventual national champion Florida in the Swamp and a pasting of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. With quarterback Jevan Snead returning, the stars look aligned for a magical 2009 season.

However, Rebels' fans need to come down to earth somewhat. The SEC Western Division is the tougher of the conference's two divisions. Although 15 starters return from last year's team, are the Rebels really better than Alabama or LSU? No.

So, Ole Miss is looking at no better than a third place divisional finish. Additionally, the Rebels will sneak up on nobody this year. The program has gone from being a hunter to being one of the hunted in one season under head coach Houston Nutt. While this is a major step forward, it often causes problems.

The team will win at least eight this year especially when considering its laughable non-conference schedule (at Memphis, vs. Southeastern Louisiana, vs. Alabama-Birmingham, vs. Northern Arizona – what's up with that?).

The Rebels will enjoy a strong season and a good bowl, but nothing magical.

Still, that is something to feel good about.