Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Baseball card blog

This guy is absolutely insane. Let me post preface that by saying I was a huge baseball card collector as a kid and spent countless hours looking at these things, so I can relate. If you can too, you'll love this guy's site. I like the way he says he's using his blog in lieu of therapy... Oh, yes, I must give credit to one of my favorite columnists, Bill Simmons for hipping me to that site. Found it in Sports Guy's Daily Links.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Port Deal

I have no idea if this guy is a Republican, Democrat, liberal, or conservative, but he does the best job putting into words my opinion on this whole port thing. Maybe it's just the Republican spin doctors have been given some time to work their magic, but, no, I thought the deal sounded O.K. from the start, and then the liberal media, I think, started working some doubts into me. Bottom line: It's really just very prejudiced to deny these guys the opportunity to invest in these ports.

Ralph

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rall, Coulter, Mohammed, Karma and War

Okay. I'm back. Been grading papers for the past 10 days...

I don't know where to begin, so let me just plunge in. I was reading an interesting article by a guy named Ted Rall. He claims "conservative" pundit Ann Coulter slandered him by saying that Rall agreed to write anti-Semitic cartoons for Arab countries (an proposed Arab response to the recent cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers). Rall, who does write cartoons and is left-of-center, says her claim is false and that he has now been officially slandered (actually, when the slander appears in print, the term is "libeled").

Rall believes that it's going to take a lawsuit to stop Coulter from continuing to spew her lies and vitriol (which she, of course, has turned into an impressive money-making empire, with book signings, TV talk-show appearances, radio spots, and the cover of Time magazine).

Now, I must admit it would be nice to see a well-heeled liberal take her to court and deconstruct her nasty world a bit. But lawsuits aren't the answer in a country that believes in free speech. Instead, the answer lies in another freedom: freedom of association. The sooner that Republicans, and more specifically, "Buckley and Will Conservatives" distance themselves from her hateful positions, the more civilized and humane this country will be. Human morality and personal ethics must come into play here.

And remember, just because Coulter is anti-liberal does not mean she is conservative; she has been getting away with blurring those definitions for some time now. Republicans fell in love with her because she attacked any liberal position ferociously. She's a one-trick pony because she simply takes any liberal position and rejects it. There's no discussion. There’s no consideration of another side. Not a good way to create new knowledge from an epistemological perspective, is it? No higher-mindedness on her part, it seems.

She also claims to be a Christian, but I don’t remember Christ filling his gospels with any of the bigoted nastiness that comes forth from Coulter. I’ve read the gospels, and I know that they are filled with love, spirituality, and acceptance. In this context, her positions sound more like the Romans than the Christians. In fact, the Christian positions become antithetical to Coulter's. So where's the Christianity?

Here are some of Coulter's famous comments as they relate to Muslims:

When asked by the reporter about what Muslims should do for travel, she replied: "They could use flying carpets."

On February 10, 2006, Coulter spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where she referred to Arabs as "ragheads". She said, "I think our [US] motto should be, post-9-11: "Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences."

The audience then applauded her.

One obvious problem with her position is that she offers no distinction of perspective within the Muslim world. Yes, there is a fundamentalist Muslim faction that needs to be identified, disrupted, and dealt with effectively (including the use of deadly force on occasion), but her perspective is so broad that she succeeds in creating only an “Other”: a nameless, faceless "ragheaded" Muslim who is to be continuously hated and feared. Clearly, not the road to peace that Christ would most likely offer.

The funny thing is that most of the problems between the Western world and the Muslim world stem from lack of knowledge. If we follow the polemicists (and Coulter is at the top of this list on the Right), we continue to live in ignorance and never bridge the gap between the two cultures.

Follow me here...after 9/11, many Americans expressed the disbelief that anyone would want to attack the US. After all, the United States is a generous country. We give lots of money to lots of countries, including Arab countries. So what’s the problem? Why would anyone want to attack the US?

In truth---in additon to the problem of Americans being drunk on foreign oil---the problem comes down to lack of knowledge. Arabs see Western culture through Western television and media, which is filled with all kinds of pill-popping, alcoholic, violent, rude and crass behavior.

Personally, and here’s where I begin to sound like a Conservative, I am offended by many of the television shows on prime time. Children back-talking their parents, penis jokes and sexual innuendo included on a regular basis, passive-aggressive behavior…wow. I can’t watch it.

So, if I were to judge America by only what I see and hear on TV and radio, I might think American was the Great Satan, too. Sex and drugs and violence and no reverence. But I know better. I live here. I see how American culture values children, family, and friendship...Children in Erie move through school with great support from the community. Plus, there are YMCAs and churches and hospitals and colleges. I have friends who would come to my aid in a moment and I would go to them. This must be true in the Muslim world as well. Muslims would understand America better if they knew more about the everyday life of Americans and less about the vitriol pumped out for profit by people like Ann Coulter.

And Americans, as a people, are generous, forgiving, loving, honest, and respectful. So what’s the problem? Part of the problem is that people like Coulter represent Americans as nasty bigots. She certainly doesn’t represent my position or the position of most of the people around me—people who would more likely love somebody than hate them.

I mentioned Mohammed earlier and I wanted to return to him before closing. There is much to the Koran, and I am only beginning to understand the teachings of The Prophet Mohammed, but I can tell you he believed that all humans shall be held responsible for their deeds, which is a very Christian concept and basically a law of karma.

In addition, Mohammed did not completely reject Judaism and Christianity, the two other monotheistic faiths known to the Arabs. Instead, he said that he had been sent by God in order to “complete and perfect their teachings.”

The ugly part of this is the fact that the Mohammed page on Wikipedia has recently been vandalized and has therefore been made “temporarily unavailable” for editing; the same protocols had to be applied recently to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Wikipedia entry (near the time of his birthday). So, racism is alive and well. And it’s the racists, who typically have fundamentalist ideas, who are the problem.

Here’s why: American racists and fundamentalists are currently at war with Arab racists and fundamentalists. This does not reflect the position of the middle-of-the-road American, yet we’re the ones footing the bill, living with the danger, and sending our children into battle.

So what’s the solution?
In addition to continuing to educate people about racism and the negative effects of racism, Muslims and Westerners must begin learning more about one another. Remember this: Through knowledge comes respect. Other cultures will come to respect us as they come to know us; we will also come to respect the Muslim world as we come to know it. It shall be so.

Therefore, we should not let the racists and the bigots represent us any longer. Hopefully, Blogs will go a long way toward realizing this dream, as average people can now be heard above those who own the spotlight. We need to share knowledge and begin to understand the Muslim world. It’s the only way to achieve peace.

Speaking of peace, do you ever hear the word "peace" uttered by anyone these days, particularly those neoconservatives who currently run this country? There is no talk of peace. My thesis is that peace is not something this administration is interested in. They never talk about it. Ever. Why? Peace is a very difficult concept that needs to be implemented through honesty and dedication and determination. In other words, it's too much work and there is little to be gained from it. It is much easier and far more profitable to go to war.

Besides, it is much easier to control the populace if they live in fear of "terrorism" and war...and Coulter, in her zealotry, abets the war machine by creating fear of the Other. I'll wait till another day to comment on the Necons, but as a sidenote, there is an article written by a British guy named Charley Reese that has been circling through the Internet. In it, he offers an interesting and strident perspective on Neoconservatives that everyone should read.

Believe it or not, if we’re all going to live in this world together and continue the current population growth (and with the Republicans now ramping up to overturn Roe v. Wade), we must begin talking of peace with the world around us. This Muslim issue has been building for years (I am old enough to remember the 1972 Olympics when a Palestinian group called Black September captured Israeli athletes, held them as hostages, and eventually killed all seven). I did not understand it at the time, but now I do. There was a lesson to be learned here, but instead of learning to speak of peace (although there was certainly some effort), the conversation always returned to war. War has ravaged that part of the world for many years and created a great deal of human suffering, but we have not yet learned how to conduct peace on a global scale and so the situation remains until we can really learn to figure it out.

It may take a long time, but humans will figure it out. And I'm not being partisan here. I believe humanity continues to develop spiritually; however, we have not collectivelly reached the point where we can create peace on a global basis.

This much is true: War among the races can only hurt humanity. War can only lead to fear and death and the continued cyclical patterns of fear and death that result. In our time, continued war will overextend the United States and potentially lead to its demise (remember the the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?). Nothing can come from war; only profit for the greedy and death for the people.

Remember this, too: much of the US is owned by other countries right now (Japan and Great Britain are at the top, and don't forget China and India). If US debt becomes too much and the owners begin to foreclose, then the only way to keep out the influence of "foreign" government landlords will be to have a powerful military. That’s why the current administration is spending so much on weapons; Cheney understands the situation too well. So, it will likely be WAR from this point forward, unless something changes. I surely hope it does, because I don’t want to be at war with anyone. Most people share my view.

In closing, I doubt that Rall will sue, because he's too smart to get his life tied up in suing Coulter. But Coulter will definitely have to watch herself, because the laws of karma are at play here. She seems to be in a position where she is making money by spreading hatred--creating disconnections rather than connections---and that, in my view, is not for the good of the world. In most religions, including Christian or Muslim, you “get what you give.” As far as I can tell, Ann Coulter has given us a lot of divisiveness and black magic. We need to banish the black magician and pull toward peace. It's the only way...

Cheers,

DocTorDee

Friday, February 24, 2006

UAE: Friend or Foe?

There's an interesting conundrum developing here surrounding the UAE, and it doesn't seem to be getting the attention in the mainstream media that it deserves. That is, is the United Arab Emirates a friend or foe in the war on terror? On one hand, they are given credit for financing and hosting some 9/11 terrorists as well as being allied with Osama bin Laden. On the other hand, Bush calls them an ally in the fight on terror. Based on Bush's track record, can you believe him? And if not, would he really, possibly, be that dumb as to allow our ports to be sold to a terrorist supporting nation? Unless, of course, Bush himself supports the terrorists. I've proposed this theory before, but if you connect the dots... You think it's coincidence that instead of pursuing bin Laden to the fullest, Bush threw this Iraq red herring into the picture. Everyone knows Saddam did not support Islamic terrorists - he was a capitalist to the nth degree. But, we knocked him out of power so we could create a terrorist-state in Iraq. Mission accomplished. Then we let bin Laden go. And now we sell our ports - seemingly against the wishes of Congress, which Bush appears to be bitch slapping once again - to a terrorist supporting state. Is Bush really a fundamentalist Muslim? Probably not. More likely he does he have some debts and/or strange alliances due to his and his family's history in the oil business, and the chickens are now coming home to roost, so to speak.

Ralph

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Strange Dreams

No, it was not a full moon last night, but it seemed to be a night of vivid dreams - in our household at least. I dreamt by daughter was lost, possibly kidnapped, but the U.S. Army, which had supposedly taken custody of her (to protect her ostensibly) kept telling us she was alright, and they would locate her. They were able to easily find my son, and we went back to Erie from Orlando with him, but they seemed bothered by my constant calls inquiring of my daughter's whereabouts. It didn't help that we were having a huge party when we got back to my home in Erie and my wife kept telling me to lighten up, and I even became involved in a game of pool volleyball (no I don't own a pool.) I had another vivid dream as well, but can't remember it, and my wife started this morning by asking about the meaning of a dream she had. It involved one of her old boyfriends, so I'll leave it at that...

Even before I went to sleep, I had strange sensations in my body. It was reminiscent of the couple times, about a year and a half go (summer of '04 I believe) when I felt I was turning into a werewolf. Last night, I felt my muscles swelling and growing until I felt almost like a superman as I lay in bed. The werewolf thing had a similar physical metamorphosis feeling, except last night I didn't experience any wolf-like symptoms. No, I didn't grow hair or fangs or anything when I did the werewolf thing, it just felt like my hands and feet were turning into paws, my jaw was getting stronger,I started feeling like I could run really fast on all fours and had these visions of running through the woods. None of that last night, plus it wasn't a full moon like the werewolf times. Anyways, the werewolf thing has apparently passed (which I'm rather glad about because I did some Internet research and apparently there is some sort of psychosis associated with people really believing they have turned into wolves - however, I must admit it was kind of an exhilarating experience - of course, my wife started telling people that if she ever ended up ripped to pieces... anyways)and last night I felt rather good than scared.

Hope you all feel good today as well.

Ralph (oh yes, and my first name does mean "famous wolf".)

Cheers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Robins, Robins everywhere

I'm officially scared right now. There is a flock of about 30 robins in my backyard. I'm not kidding. And I caught one earlier banging into my picture window. At least I assume it was one of them. I found a little bit of brown fur stuck to the window and thought I saw a bird flying away after a loud thud. I thought nothing of it at the time. That was like 10 a.m. I've since heard like four more thud/clang sounds. I don't know if they keep hitting my window (which is not that clean) or my house, but then I looked outside and saw this huge flock. Gathering for what? Do I have a lot of worms in my yard? Are these agents of Mark DiVecchio come to get me? There they go, they just flew the coop for now... What's with the avian flu? Are the birds going to come back to get me? Is Alfred Hitchcock a profit? If seeing one robin is a sure sign of spring, as I was told as a kid, what does seeing 30 of them signify? Why are they running into my house?

If you know, let me know.

Ralph

Winter Olympics Rock

"Hey everybody." "Hey Doctor Nick," - I think I'm quoting the Simpsons.

Been while since I posted, but I've been enjoying a very solid winter weekend.
First off, I know it's probably not the fashionable thing to do, with all the stuff I've been reading about ratings being down, but I love this year's Winter Olympics. I'm getting a huge kick out of them. At 9:30 yesterday morning I was leading my son in a chorus of "USA" chants as we got ready to watch the USA-Sweden prelim round hockey game, which aired live about an hour and a half later. The USA lost 2-1, but still it's always fun to watch Mats Sundin don the blue and gold and skate against Mike Modano and the red-white-and-blue boys. The USA has pretty much secured a spot in the quarters, when the real action starts. So, do you remember where you were in 1980, when the US beat the Ruskies? I was collecting bills for my paper route, clueless as to what was happening...I could hear people shouting in their living rooms as I knocked on their doors. You could be sure I watched the game against Finland for the gold a couple days later, and I'll always remember that.

Anyways, the Olympics are cool, because it's really the only time I'd ever consider watching women's speedskating (or men's for that matter) like I did last night. Or the luge, or the bobsled, or curling - even curling. My son, who is seven, is also into the Olympics, and it gives us something do to together; he was even intently watching curling yesterday. What's the attraction?

Some of it, of course, has to do with the danger elements (well, probably not for curling. Dick Beddows anyone?). "Dad, I love watching the figure skaters because they might fall," my son said the other day. Then I must have given him a sour look and he retracts, "I'm just kidding." But I don't know. I think he's right. Check out this NBC homage to crashes..

I guess maybe when you know they're coming, the shock value is not quite there, but when you watch live (or tape-delay as the case may be), it's always in the back of your mind that something like that could happen to interrupt the peaceful serine gliding on the snow or ice...

In addition to the Olympics I also saw the Gannon men's hoops team, get slaughtered by nationally ranked Findlay on Saturday. Started out as a close game, but Findlay crushed in the second half, as Gannon came out flat. Findlay's whole roster is from Ohio, and they had a 5-9 senior point guard that rocked. "This guy's been here for at least five years. He's was playing when I was," John Bowen told me as he watched the game.

I also saw the Otters get slaughtered last night. So, I went 0-3 in the space of two days for teams I was cheering for.

Ralph

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Republic of Tea

Sunday morning...and it's as cold as Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell outside.

I'm trying to get myself mentally prepared for music today. My band, Evolution Circus, plays a benefit gig in Sherman, NY this afternoon.

But the point of this entry is not music. Instead, I want to talk tea. If you enjoy quality tea as much as I do, The Republic of Tea sells a delicious blend called mate latte that will warm you up and really hit the spot.

It's a blend of cocoa and Brazilian mate, along with rooibosh, cactus flowers, almonds, and blue bottle flowers. In makes for a tremendous alternative to everyday tea and coffee.

Plus, it will make you feel good about yourself. I've been a devotee ever since a friend shared some with me a few months ago. It never fails to make me feel good.

Best,

Mike

Friday, February 17, 2006

Afraid of Americans

Greetings...

Just a quick note from me this evening. I found a cool video on the Web. It's called "Afraid of Americans." I thought it offered an interesting perspective on American cultural iconography.

Now, before anyone calls me anti-American or un-patriotic for posting such a video, just hold your horses. I love America, but my scholarly interests lie all over the map. I can be quite conservative, too, along the lines of Bill Buckley and George Will.

If you continue to follow my work, you'll see what I mean.

Actually, I think Ralph and I share the view that true conservatism is not the primary political philosophy that informs the current Bush administration. Bush is more radical in his solutions, like trying to create Democrary in the Middle East in less than six months. Any way you slice it, that's radical surgery. It's not a "conservative" approach unless you're an oil baron...or a neocon. Or both. Makes sense now, huh?

Plus, the huge debt and gigantic government of the current administration are both directly opposed to old-school conservatism (as is the standard mantra of "the protection of privacy"--long valued by conservatives--that is being abused by the domestic spying program of the current administration. Talk about Big Brother..jeez, old-school "privacy conservatives" are rolling in their graves.

Truly, much of the behavior of the current administration is not conservative; I wish it were. But this entry is not intended to be a critique of the Bush administration. That can come later.

So, as far as the video in this posting goes, let's just say that I like to consider as much as possible in the world. It's the only way to get to the truth.

Peace,

Mike

Thursday, February 16, 2006

DiVecchio Times' New Whipping Boy

Well, it seems County Executive Mark DiVecchio is now firmly ensconced at the Erie Times News' new whipping boy. Today's full editorial column (the thing on the left on the letters' page) was devoted to his dealings with the County Redevelopment Authority. I've been following this story for a couple weeks now, but still don't fully understand what this Authority does... so I've reserved from writing on it. Well, the Times did a pretty good job of laying the situation out in black-and-white. (Go to the "Opinion" section, and you'll see the villain's name.) No, they didn't explain what the Redevelopment Authority does - it seems to mainly involve managing a fund to float loans to local business, as well as some housing responsibilities (like I said, the whole thing sounds a little specious)- but the Times did feel it understands the situation well enough to blast DiVecchio for trying to put his campaign manager in charge of the Authority and threatening to fire three members of the Authority Board, who apparently don't agree with him. An aside: Does anyone know if these Board members get paid - if so, is it a nominal fee or real money? If not, or if it is nominal, is the term "fire" the correct one to use?

The interesting thing about this is Tim Selker's, the campaign manager (maybe he wasn't the manager, but definitely a supporter) relationship with Rick Novotny, the current executive director of the Authority. Apparently, Selker, who (to me) seems qualified to be the Executive Director of this thing - after all, I've read that he's done some pretty solid work trying to develop Parade Street, which in my opinion deserves a hats off - apparently, Selker, at some point in time, introduced a plan to Novotny that Novotny reportedly laughed at. So, there is an interesting dynamic here. DiVecchio wants top make Selker Novotny's boss. Sweet revenge. I kind of like that aspect. I don't know Selker and I don't know Novotny - so I may be wrong and Selker may be a tool, but he went to Prep, graduated in '86 (I graduated in '85), so I'm kind of predisposed to favor him. It sounds to me like, the Man, Novotny, in this case, is getting a case of hard medicine from an innovative upstart like Selker.

As for DiVecchio, well all this threatening and firing - yesterday, there was an interesting column by AJ Adams about cronyism in the public defender's office, which didn't shine too favorably on DiVecchio either - well, it all smacks of Filippi. Yes, despite my admiration for Selker, it appears we've elected another political hack. This is especially disturbing as the County Executive's office is going to have to play a big role if we are going to get anything good to come out of these city/township merger talks that finally seem to be gaining at least a little bit of traction.

Cheers.

Ralph

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hunting with Dick

I've had some time to reflect on the entire Dick Cheney hunting mishap. Much has been made by the late-night talk-show hosts. But beyond the obvious humor and intense irony, I can see many sides to the issue. First, let's hope the victim survives. Apparently, a piece of birdshot has lodged near his heart and has caused some sort of quiver. He is now back in the ICU.

I can also understand Cheney's world: This was an extremely traumatic event. Can you imagine shooting a friend in the face? A nightmare for any man. Besides, Cheney certainly had the situation under control from a medical standpoint. It would have been another matter entirely if the man was bleeding to death and the VP did nothing. But Cheney travels with a medical entourage. You would, too, if you were him.

The ugliest part of this story, for me so far, was when Karen Armstrong, owner of the property, told reporters that "Whittington made a mistake by not announcing himself as he returned to the hunting line after breaking off to retrieve a downed bird." Yes, there is such thing as hunting etiquette, and it is important not to break the hunting line. However, the knee-jerk reaction of blaming the victim struck me as, as we used to say on the Lower East Side: "punk-ass."

Cheney did, however, "go public" with his story today, and he accepted full responsibility for the shooting. I'm glad he has the courage to take the blame. It's the least he could do, considering IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SHOOTER TO BE CERTAIN THAT THE SHOT IS CLEAR. C'mon, Dick. This one clearly belongs to you.

Now, I must admit I love the irony of the situation. After all, this man is one of the key architects of the War in Iraq. If I remember correctly, Iraq did not attack us. We shot first and then "found out" that there were, indeed, no WMDs. Well, don't that beat all? It's kind of a "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach to life, isn't it? It truly scares me.

It makes me fearful to fully comprehend that our country is being run--almost exclusively--by Texas millionaires who have a tendency to shoot first, cover their asses, and answer questions later. Can you say Iraq? I can: Iraq. Iraq. Iraq.

Well, it's about time for dinner, so I'm going to sign off for now. See you all real soon.

Mike

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Mythic Impulse of Valentine's Day

Nobody should be allowed to get through Valentine's Day without reading the Wikipedia entry on the origins of today's holiday. The day's history is quite rich and covers many traditions, including the Greeks, Romans, Roman Catholics, peoples of North America, and other cultures.

It's all based on the archetypal human need to love and be loved, I think. And the great stories that go along with that impulse make the holiday that much better.

I love the following excerpt...

February fertility festivals

The association of the middle of February with love and fertility dates to ancient times. In the calendar of Ancient Athens, the period between mid January and mid February was the month of Gamelion, which was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.

In Ancient Rome, the day of February 15 was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus, the god of fertility, who was represented as half-naked and dressed in goat skins.

As part of the purification ritual, the priests of Lupercus would sacrifice goats to the god, and after drinking wine, they would run through the streets of Rome holding pieces of the goat skin above their heads, touching anyone they met. Young women especially would come forth voluntarily for the occasion, in the belief that being so touched would render them fruitful and bring easy childbirth.

It's great stuff, but I won't steal any more of Wiki's thunder. Visit the Valentine's entry on Wikipedia to read the entire entry. It's well worth it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Mike

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Electric football

Good freakin' morning. Sort of. Kind of sunny out. A nice snow covered ground. Going to have to try and get out the big toboggan today. I bought an old one in December and spent a few hours fixing it up, even ordered a pad. It looks beautiful, but then we haven't had snow for a month and a half. Today's going to be the day, I think.

Anyways, I just got done reading this wonderful and slightly, even more than slightly, bizarre article on electric football. Yes, I played the game for hours on end when I was like 10 years old. But these guys, and there are certainly a lot of them, are way into it. I guess I had to quit because I was never a good passer. Maybe if I could actually hit the players with that cigarette butt, my life would have been different...

Ralph

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bills coach

I'm not sure why I thought of this now, but as a Bills fan, couldn't just have brought back Wade Phillips as coach? In retrospect, his record with the Bills really wasn't that bad. Never finished below .500 and got us in the playoffs two out of three years. Now, I know he received a lot of heat for not wearing a headset on the sidelines, but, he was old school, and there's something to be said about that. One thing about Wade's teams with Buffalo, they'd beat the crap out of you, even if we didn't do so great on them new-fangled things like special teams. I know I've gone on record several times as being a Wade supporter, even when he was being drummed out of Buffalo. Well, I think the results have spoken for themselves. Wade has had some success as D-Coordinator in San Diego, and has even interviewed for some head coach jobs. Why didn't Buffalo interview him. Wasn't he Marv's hand-picked successor in the late 1990s? Has Marv soured on him as well? If so, why?

I guess Dick Jauren will be alright. He's an egghead (Yale Grad), like Levy, and at least both have the reputation of being classy guys...

Oh yeah, one more thing on Wade. And Cowher and Belichick and many other coaches for that matter. If Rob Johnson never got hurt, would Wade have had any success at all? After all, he picked Johnson over Flutie and Johnson stunk. Johnson got hurt, Flutie came in and directed the Bills offense to the playoffs twice. Granted, the defense was the backbone of those teams, but Flutie was a huge upgrade from Johnson and pretty much made the offense mediocre enough to win some games. So, maybe Wade wasn't so smart after all. But, what if Maddox never gets hurt last year? Is Roethlesburger still the starter that leads the Steelers to the Super Bowl? And what if Bledsoe had stayed healthy. Does Brady ever get a shot?

Just some food for thought.

Ralph

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tipping Point

So, I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point last night and I come across this: "worked the distressed downtown streets of Jamestown. His name was Nushawn Williams, although he also went by the names of 'Face, 'Sly,' and 'Shyteek.' Williams juggled dozens of girls, maintaining three or four different apartments around the city, and all the while supporting himself by smuggling drugs up from the Bronx. (As one epidemiologist familiar with the case told me flatly, 'The man was a genius. If I could get away with what Williams did, I'd never have to work a day again in my life.')"

First off, what's an epidemiologist? Someone who studies the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in a population - according to Webster's. So this guy is presumably fairly educated and he obviously admired Nushawn quite a bit. In Nushawn's case, I guess he had some of the charming, Billie the Kid/outlaw appeal to him. But, what does he mean, he'd "never have to work a day again in his life?" Does he think he could have run Nushawn's op better than he did? If so, why'd he call him a genius? The fact is that drug smuggling is not a good long-term business plan and Nushawn's lifestyle was destined to go up in smoke sooner or later. I don't know why that guy's statement bugged me so much, but it just did, and since Gladwell made no effort to challenge him, I felt obliged to.

Anyways, it was nice to see Nushawn get some credit at least...

Speaking of Nushawn, I guess I should assume that that's my buddy Chris Pentz that got busted out there in North East running the meth lab. What's up with that? What drives one to set up a Meth lab? Well, addiction I guess. (I haven't seen Chris recently, so maybe.) I can't believe anyone else would want to mess with that stuff.

Ralph

Bolthouse Drinks

For anyone interested in trying out an interesting non-alcoholic drink, these Bolthouse Farms Smoothies are the bomb. They have them at Quality in the fruit section, and they're like three or four bucks a pop. But you get a quart, which makes about 4 good sized drinks. Don't drink them straight. You want to grind up some ice - about four or five cubes -with about a cup of juice and you're good to go.

Ralph

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Free Men Acting As Slaves

Check out the text of this e-mail I received a couple days back (The whole thing seemed innocuous at first, like it came from just another self-published crackpot - I hope I'm not throwing stones at myself with that comment. But this message has stuck with me and I can't get it out of my head.):

Employees Are Volunteer Slaves In A Free Nation
Research reveals a miserable culture of owned puppet slaves in the workplace and also provides the solution

Slavery is not over in this country, according to Corey Donaldson, the author of EMPLOYEES ARE VOLUNTEER SLAVES IN A FREE NATION, The in-your-face solution to freedom for employees.

The word slavery has undergone a politically correct change to EMPLOYEE by those drunken with their own whit, declares Donaldson who knows he is going to create a storm with his conclusions. In an age where the idea of freedom is under fierce debate, Donaldson raises an interesting point in asking, If the founding principles of this nation grant "The Pursuit of Happiness" and a "Declaration of Independence," then why do we prefer to live out the days of our lives pursuing misery as a dependent slave employees?

In your interview with Corey you'll learn:

* About the evidence that proves 6 ways all employees work for a psychopath

* Why being an employee is so yesterday

* Why all employees are owned slaves

* How Donald Trump's 'The Apprentice' encourages slavery

* How CNN's Lou Dobbs is a slave shepherd

* What is the difference between two people when it comes to freedom and slavery, when they both have the same information to make money?

* About the 5 addictions that keep all employees down as slaves

* How to determine the truth of what you believe

* That many organizations and people are opposed to your freedom

Donaldson pays no mind to tradition, being nice, or sprinkling any sugar on the sour ways of the employee. Donaldson's way of communicating is rough, unrefined, without caution and unsavory. And yet at the same time Donaldson's taste is elevating and liberating. He demonstrates unabashed boldness that is strangely invigorating in a culture where walking on egg shells is the norm.

At first, Corey's prescription may feel like sour medicine, but the results are sweet. You may even think he takes great pains to offend just to make you wake up, but don't cry about it. As a result, you will experience freedom in the way you work and strangely, all your relationships will be purged of tyranny, if you so choose.

(End of e-mail message)
So, what do you think? It got me interested enough to try and get a copy to review for my blog. They actually offered me a copy and an interview with this guy for my day job, but I had to tell them it was the wrong audience. He also wrote books called Don't Get Married Until You Read This and Don't Have Children Until...

Well, I can tell you one guy who never fell for this whole Slave culture thing and that's my friend Red, who definitely lives his life as a free man. As you may know, he ran into a spot of trouble recently with a severe head injury. I visited him for the first time yesterday - he was injured over a month ago and has been pretty much out of it since. But, he seems to be doing much better now. He was fluidly conversant, I'd say, and appears well on the way to a full recovery after some hairy moments. I don't want to get too into it, but at one point he said he was packed in ice to keep his temperature from going too high due to the pneumonia he was suffering from...

Finally, here's an interesting column by Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson that appeared in this morning's Times-News. It questions the ever-growing rift between Muslims and Christians. Yes, indeed, why is this rift growing worse and not better, as it seemed to for years following the Crusades? Why has its direction reversed and now picked up speed? Was it because we had more space following the founding of the New World, but our mass media culture has now closed that space in again and made it tougher for us all to live together? Robinson raises some interesting quesitons about the Muslim reaction to those cartoons that appeared recently in the Danish newsletter. Yes, indeed, why does all this stuff have to trigger violence? What happened to peaceful intelligent protests?

Ralph

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Living with Grizzly Bears

The other night I was watching the Discover Channel when a show came on about Timothy Treadwell and his life with grizzly bears in Alaska.

This story is about a man who moved to Hollywood and tried to get into the Hollywood scene. He was actually the runner up for the part of the bartender in Cheers. After he lost the part his life went into a spiral and he got into drugs and alcohol. He almost died of an overdose and decided to make a major change in his life.

He moved to Alaska and lived with the grizzly bears during the summer months. In the winter he would travel to schools and promote conversation and environmentalism. After one of his talks a lady wrote him and soon became his girlfriend who started to go to Alaska with him.

After the 13th year his luck he and his girlfriend went to the airport but there was a discrepancy about the price of the airline ticket so he went back to the bears. But the bears that he knew went into hibernation and more aggressive bears which he did not know moved into the area to catch salmon before they went into hibernation.

Tragically he and his girlfriend were killed by a grizzly bear. There is an audio of the attack (which was not played on the show) of him and his girlfriend being mauled. He yelled to her to run away right before he died but she did not survive.

Part of me embraces his zest for life and his courage. The other part of me says that if you play with fire, sooner or later you will get burned. But Neil Young did sing that it is “Better to burn out, than rust away…”.

He wrote a book about his experiences and I need to go and pick it up.

The web site about him is:

http://www.grizzlypeople.com/home1.php


Jim

In the saddle

All right, I think I've finally sobered up enough to post without fear of writing something that will get me sued..

Anyways, big weekend, of course, for the Stillers. Went out to the Cab again for some Steeler fan madness. Drank a couple/few of these Red Bull/Jager shots that threw me for a loop.

Few thoughts on the game... Pass interference call in the end zone was very touchy, but valid because it happened two feet in front of the referee. About time the Stillers got a couple calls anyhow. Seahawks played lazy, running out of bounds on completed passes without even trying to drag their feet. Then, that Mack Strong, or whoever their fullback was, getting stopped short of that first down in the first half without really even trying to get an extra yard that would push him past. Roethlisberger, on the other hand, diving into the end zone head first... you don't get that from Payton Manning. Seahawks were soft... In Orlando, I'm sitting at breakfast with a Steelers fan, who is looking over the USA Today, which ran a comparison of the two Super Bowl cities. You know, favorite this and favorite that... Well, Seattle's favorite food and drink was listed as sushi and Starbucks. Pittsburgh's was Iron City and Kabossa. Well, who'd you think was going to win the football game?

Final football note of the day: Also, while in Orlando, ran into a huge Ohio State Buckeye fan from Columbus. This guy was way into football and may have even been a coach on some level. Now, Maurice Clarett is one of my all-time favorite college football players. Used to stop what I was doing to watch him run. Loved to watch him set up his blocks and glide 5-6 yards downfield without much effort. "There was no head bobbing," was how this Buckeye fan described him.

I asked, "what happened? This guy was a phenomenal football player, but why couldn't he make it in the pros?" Then, we got into a whole Lebron James comparison, and the topic of bad advice. This guy felt Clarett simply wasn't ready for the pros and never matured enough physically or mentally to make it. Then, this whole armed robbery thing. "If they take away your dream," my newfound friend commented. "Then what have you got left but to destroy yourself?"

Think about it, all you Joseph Campbell fans especially.

Ralph

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Erie Airport

So, I'm flying out again this morning. Headed to Orlando for a couple days. Not a bad gig this time of year. I am flying on Delta and at the moment am very glad I am. Typically the best fares out of Erie are on U.S. Air or Northwest, with Delta and Continental slightly more expensive alternatives. All I can say is, spend the extra money - it's worth it!

About a year ago I swore off U.S. Air and Northwest and my life has been much happier since. This morning I arrive to see 25 miserable people standing in line to check in with U.S. Air. I waited for two minutes in the Delta line. Then I saw the first Northwest flight was canceled. Some lady in back of me in line tells her friend the story of how Northwest called her at 2:30 in the morning to tell her this and automatically rescheduled her on a noon flight to arrive at 8:30, which of course would have wiped out her plans for today. Typical. I've been stuck in the Detroit airport with Northwest for 8 hours at a time. She was smart and switched airlines. Then her friend starts telling her what a nightmare flying U.S. Air through Philly is. Been there, done that, and heard about it, as well.

Right. Now I'm probably jinxing myself, but so far so good.

Have a good one.

Ralph