Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicago Bears throwback uniforms looked good, understated

Though I have read some criticism of the Chicago Bears throwback uniforms worn Monday night, I liked them. To be sure, the uniforms were understated compared to some other throwbacks we have seen (especially the Denver Broncos throwback attire worn last year). However, the Bears uniform was just a good, classic uniform.

As a tribute to the 'Monsters of the Midway' in the 1940s, the uniforms did a good job of evoking that era. Most uniforms from that time were conservative in design. Though we live in an age where anything goes, it was nice to see something simple and dignified.

Simpler is better sometime, you know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

i like chicken

i like chicken

i like southern fried chicken
i like pan fried chicken
i like batter fried chicken
i like deep fried chicken
i like oven fried chicken
i like oven baked chicken
i like roasted chicken
i like chicken a la king
i like barbecued chicken
i like chicken pancakes
i like carolina chicken
i like spiced chicken
i like chicken pilaf
i like fried chicken oriental
i like sweet and sour chicken
i like chicken tetrazzini
i like sesame fried chicken
i like grandma's chicken
i like garlic chicken
i like mexican chicken

i like chicken

(with apologies to e.e. cummings)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cover-ups are often worse than the original mistakes

Time and again, we have seen public figures make mistakes that they have tried to resolve through dishonesty with the hope it will cure their problems.

Sometimes it works, but many times, the cover-ups are actually worse than the original error. This is because the public is far more likely to forgive somebody who owns up to a mistake.

After all, somebody who is forthcoming and contrite appears more believable than somebody who gets caught red handed trying to hush a situation up.

This is not only applicable to public figures, but to all of us. At some point in our lives, we have made big mistakes.

And though we do not like to admit it, most of us have tried to weasel out of a situation through dishonesty at least once. Maybe that is a cynical statement, but given the state of human nature, I do not believe it is. We are all flawed and how we handle adversity reveals a lot about us.

A recent example of this involved University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl has admitted that he lied to NCAA investigators regarding the possible breaking of recruiting rules.

The rules violations the NCAA were investigating reportedly involved improper contact by the Tennessee staff with recruits. If this is true, it would be enough to put the program on probation.

However, by lying, Pearl increased the likelihood that the NCAA will really drop the hammer on the program. Breaking rules is one thing, but lying to investigators is a major mistake.

To Pearl's credit, he admitted his lie before being confronted by someone regarding it. Still, the damage is done. Tennessee already imposed sanctions on the basketball program, but the NCAA will likely add more.

Furthermore, Pearl may have made a mistake that will taint the rest of his career. If he is forced out at Tennessee, it will be difficult to get another head coaching job at a big school. This is because he will be known as the guy who lied to NCAA investigators.

Of course, there are plenty of examples of botched cover-ups that run much deeper than basketball. The most dramatic cover-up in recent memory involved President Richard Nixon's administration in the early 1970s.

The Watergate scandal began as an attempt to cover-up a 'third-rate burglary' at Democratic National Headquarters. The cover-up began a series of events that saw several Nixon administration officials go to prison, and the president resign in disgrace.

Nixon likely should have faced charges in criminal court for trying to obstruct justice but his successor, President Gerald Ford, granted him a pardon. This pardon guaranteed that Nixon would never go to court, but it likely was a factor when Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.

Carter's time as president was a fiasco and paved the way for Ronald Reagan winning the presidency in 1980. This series of events show that political cover-ups can have lasting consequences once the dominoes start tumbling. In this situation, Nixon's decisions impacted our nation for decades.

Another example of presidential cover-ups was Bill Clinton's attempts to avoid responsibility for poor decisions he made in his personal life. In his case, he eventually faced impeachment though now he enjoys the status of a respected senior statesman on our political landscape.

The bottom line is cover-ups can have devastating and long-lasting consequences if they blow up in people's faces.

It does not matter if the cover-up was a result of deep thought or a spur of the moment decision. Life is not too gratifying when we are walking around with a 500-pound gorilla on our backs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote of the day

"I was on the moon.....BUT I'M SURE GLAD TO BE BACK!" -- spoken by Gumby at the climax of the cult classic Gumby on the Moon circa 1965.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trapped Chile miners bring perspective to life

We all have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks. During particularly lousy stretches, we can even have a bad month.

Well, how about having four bad months? For 33 unfortunate miners in Chile, the next few months are likely to be agonizing.

Early last month, the miners were involved in an underground collapse and initially, there were fears that they were all dead. However, 17 days later, contact was made with them, and they seem in reasonably good condition considering the circumstances.

While this is tremendous news, officials have estimated that it could take up to four months to get them out. Some geologists speculate that it will not take that long, but the official government position is that it could take until the end of the year.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be in their shoes. First, there is the pain they must be feeling because they are separated from their friends and family.

Luckily, they are not alone underground, but the camaraderie the miners feel together cannot replace the warmth of their loved ones.

In addition to the separation, the unhealthy surroundings they find themselves in have to be unpleasant. Mines are basically man-made caves so these people are likely getting a crash course on how to live like a bat. The only caves I have been in are natural ones, and when I exited them, I marveled at how exciting it was to see the sun again.

In addition to the general unpleasantness of being in a mine, they are doing without the basic necessities of life.

For example, they likely do not have access to something as simple as a hot shower. A hot shower and a clean shave can bring a man back to life. Without it, well, I think we all get the picture.

Additionally, what kind of diet and exercise pattern are they getting? Issues like this hint that these people are looking at serious long-term health consequences if they are not delivered from their situation soon.

Still, the more I think about this situation, the more I think about the simple aspects of life these people will miss. With the holiday season approaching, the miners must be discouraged that they might not spend Christmas with their loved ones.

True, I am sure they will get to be with them in some indirect way. There is communication between the mine and people outside. However, I doubt it is anywhere near the same as being with somebody.

Imagine the emotional thoughts these people must be having. I am sure all the miners have thought that it is unbelievable that there is not a more efficient rescue plan. In a sense, this is a lot like the oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Except this time, it is taking months to save human lives instead of stopping oil. I do not know what the labor laws are in Chile, but I am guessing that these people will have grounds for a whopper of a lawsuit. What is the cost for 33 people to spend time underground against their will for four months?

The bottom line is that this is another example of how lives can dramatically change. When these miners went to work on the day of the accident, I am sure it was just another day.

The same can happen to us. One minute we are doing our jobs then some catastrophe occurs that changes all the rules of the game.

If nothing else, this is a reminder of how each day is precious. If yesterday was a normal day, there is no guarantee today will be normal, too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Another 9/11 anniversary

If a person needed another piece of evidence that proved time is flying, then the fact that yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks should be sufficient.

It seems like just the other day that a beautiful late summer morning was turned upside down by al-Qaeda. Many of us began the morning going through our daily routine not knowing that our country would change in the next few hours.

Of course, this change was not going to be a small one. Within weeks of the event, our nation was at war in Afghanistan in an attempt to flush out the ones responsible for the attacks.

The Afghanistan war still continues, and the length of this military effort has worn on many. When we entered it, I doubt many of us expected it to take so long.

However, terrorists in that region are especially tricky when it comes to hiding from our efforts.

In hindsight, we should have known that this would not be quickly resolved. After all, the Soviet Union fought a 10-year war there in the 1980s. Though the terrorists lack the power to go toe-to-toe with the United States, they have made up for that with resourcefulness.

The Afghanistan and Pakistan border is a treacherous place, and our soldiers are to be commended as they continue to pursue the enemy there. Now that the combat phase of the Iraq War has ended, our forces in Afghanistan should have more resources to get the job done.

In addition to this, there were many other changes here in America after the attacks. Anybody who frequently flies knows this. Though going through an airport can try our patience, it is a necessary sacrifice to prevent similar attacks like the ones on 9/11.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the attacks is that another attack like it has not happened on our soil. When the attacks occurred, there was discussion that a new age had begun in which the United States would have to tolerate frequent attacks like what happens in the Middle East.

This has not happened. For all the criticism that the Bush and Obama administrations have received, both administrations deserve credit that nothing like 9/11 has happened here since.

As the problem of illegal immigration shows, it is not that difficult for people to enter the country undetected. It has been surprising that terrorists have not been able to exploit this. When the topic of illegal immigration is discussed, it is surprising that it is not connected more directly to national security.

Let us hope that our government continues to make homeland security a point of emphasis. Complacency is a strong foe. The fact that we have gone such a long time without an attack could lull many into a state of false security.

As the events of nine years ago showed us, the United States is not bulletproof just because it is a super power. In a sense, the freedom and liberty we enjoy makes us that much more vulnerable to another attack. Despite the size of our federal government, it is not a totalitarian regime that peers in the windows of all its citizens looking for enemies.

Just like the Pearl Harbor attack rocked a previous generation, the 9/11 attacks rocked our generation. As a society, we like to say that we want to leave our country better than we found it. We want the next generation to enjoy a stronger and more vibrant country.

If that is so, we can never forget what happened nine years ago.

If we do, it is much more likely that it will happen again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

'Rolling Stone' magazine picked the top 100 Beatles' songs; no real complaints from me

Late last month, Rolling Stone magazine listed the top 100 Beatles' songs of all time. Of course, lists like these are subjective and are compiled to stimulate debate. This is good if a person likes to debate pop music.

Here is their top 10:

10. 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'
9. 'Come Together'
8. 'Let It Be'
7. 'Hey Jude'
6. 'Something'
5. 'In My Life'
4. 'Yesterday'
3. 'Strawberry Fields Forever'
2. 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'
1. 'A Day in the Life'

Of these songs, three were mainly written by John Lennon ('Strawberry Fields Forever,' 'In My Life,' and 'Come Together'). Three were mainly written by Paul McCartney ('Yesterday,' 'Hey Jude,' and 'Let It Be'). Two were written together by Lennon and McCartney ('A Day in the Life' and 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'). Two were written by George Harrison ('Something' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps').

My favorite Beatles' song is 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' but I cannot really argue with 'A Day in the Life' being at the top. My favorite song mostly written by McCartney is 'Penny Lane,' but it was ranked at number 32.

If nothing else, the top 10 vindicates George Harrison's writing talents. He wrote 20 percent of the songs in the top 10, but he did not write 20 percent of the songs the group recorded.

Good for him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

With apologies to Berke Breathed

Tonight, I feel exactly like Bill the Cat does in the photo below.

I cannot decide whether this is a good or bad thing.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Greed and sports

When it comes to activities we enjoy, it is easy to look the other way when unsavory elements are added to it.

This is especially true when it comes to sports. Like many reading this, I am an avid sports fan. In fact, I probably like sports more than the average person.

This time of year, I am like a dog with its head stuck out the window of a moving car. I do not care where I am going. I just want to find a game that will entertain me.

Right now, it is easy to find entertaining games. We are at that glorious time when the baseball and football seasons overlap. Good games are guaranteed all the time.

Here in the South, we especially like football. The big crowds that go to youth and high school games are evidence of that. Additionally, many college teams are starting their seasons this weekend, and professional football will start next week.

However, of all the sports, football troubles me the most. Especially at the professional level, we are seeing more and more players who are suffering from long-term physical problems because of their participation in the sport.

The National Football League is easily the most popular sports league in the United States. As we know, when something becomes enormously popular, pressure builds to expand on that success. Recently, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the possibility of increasing the league's schedule from 16 to 18 games.

According to Goodell, all that would have to be done is replace two exhibition games with two real games.

After all, what could be better than expanding the regular-season schedule so that there would be more games?

No, Goodell is dead wrong, and if fans really care about the players, they should oppose this proposal, too.

The last thing that players need is for the sport to add more games. Jeff Pearlman of Sport's Illustrated recently wrote an on-line column about the long-term health difficulties players are having.

Pearlman wrote: "Need examples? Former Raiders lineman Dave Pear can barely walk. Neither can former Bears lineman Wally Chambers. Or Tampa tight end Jimmie Giles. Brent Boyd, a Vikings offensive lineman from 1980-86 suffered a stroke last week – the latest in a long line of medical setbacks he relates to the game. Ted Johnson, the standout Patriots linebacker from 1995-2004, suffers from amphetamine addiction, depression, and headaches related to post-concussion syndrome and Second Impact Syndrome. Only 38, he already is showing signs of early Alzheimer’s disease. The list is endless – hundreds upon hundreds of men permanently broken by professional football."

If that does not get a person's attention, I do not know what will.

Of course, there are counterpoints to the information I am presenting. After all, the NFL simply wants to move two exhibition games to the regular season. So, players will still be playing the same number of games, right?

Wrong. Exhibition games are nothing but glorified scrimmages. Starting players participate little in these games, and many do not play at all in the final exhibition game.

Another counterpoint is that nobody is forcing these players to play professional football. Everybody knows it is a physical sport, plus they are paid very well to play.

While this is true, researchers are only scratching the surface when it comes to the long-term effects of multiple concussions on athletes. Also, when compared to baseball, football players make less money and their contracts are not guaranteed. However, I agree they are well paid.

The bottom line is professional football is a rough proposition. We should expect more and more horror stories related to injuries as time passes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mrs. Carroll's second grade class in 1972

I have never been a very nostalgic person, but for the last several weeks, I have been going through a season of nostalgia. I guess everybody goes through this.

This photo is hilarious. I won't say which one is me. I'm not going to do all the work for you.