Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Iconic Shot: "The Hand of God"

This picture is the only irrefutable evidence of Diego Maradona's illegal handball (over England goalie Peter Shilton) during Argentina's World Cup quarterfinal at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on June 22, 1986, giving the Argentinians a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute of the match.  Maradona would find the back of the net again, just three minutes later, leading the Argentines to a 2-1 victory en route to their second World Cup title.

Although Maradona's second score of the afternoon was voted Goal of the Century on FIFA.com in 2002, this particular "goal" is possibly Maradona's most well-known.  After the match, the Forward/Midfielder dismissed England's protest and referred to his questionable score as, "A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God."

After numerous denials, Maradona finally confessed his handball transgression in August 2005.  In a show of polite acclaim, not only to Maradona, but also to the decades-old rivalry between England and Argentina -- and with the 2010 World Cup rapidly approaching -- the London-based Times newspaper selected Diego Maradona as the greatest player in World Cup history on March 22, 2010. 

As head coach, Maradona and his Argentina national team stand the somewhat ironic possibility of facing their English counterparts once more in the World Cup quarterfinals on July 2 at Soccer City (formerly FNB Stadium) in Johannesburg, South Africa. 
© Bob Thomas Sports Photography, Getty Images

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Success and failure

As I ponder the next step that I may or may not take in this so-called life of mine, a quote I came across recently seems to sum it all up:

"Life is strange, and often imponderable!  Both the successes and the failures have their roots in simple experiences. ... But what of the man who has neither the time, nor the inclination to study failure in search of knowledge that may lead to success?  Where, and how is he to learn the art of converting defeat into stepping stones to opportunity?"
-- Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), journalist, author, & lecturer

Saturday, March 27, 2010

CNN's Cafferty says it all

This clip has been making the usual Internet/Facebook rounds for a couple of months, but I feel it's worth sharing just in case someone locked into the infallibility of "The Chosen One" earnestly (and blindly) believed the hype like so many others.

Friday, March 26, 2010

America's financial future in the balance

Originally introduced in the House of Representatives by Charles Rangel (D-NY) last September as the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 {H.R. 3590}, the Senate passed what became known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Christmas Eve by a 60-39 vote.  After agreeing on the "motion to concur Senate amendments," the House passed the bill on March 21 by a 219-212 vote (which included 34 Democrats siding with the Republican minority).  Two days later, President Barack Obama signed the bill, officially making the Left's brand of health care reform Public Law 111-148.

Here's the issue.

Despite 200 Republican amendments in the 2,000-page bill, along with assurances from Democrats that taxpayers will save $1.3 trillion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the resulting "gross debt" will reach 100.6% of the our national GDP by 2012, a 30% rise from just two years ago.  And by 2014, the total national debt could top $18 trillion.

Additionally, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin wondered recently in an op-ed for The New York Times how entitlement legislation that is expected to cost $950 billion over the next 10 years could lower deficits by $138 billion.  The answer, he says, is that "...the budget office is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed.  So fantasy in, fantasy out."

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer echoed Holtz-Eakin's sentiment, adding that a national sales tax is the only way to generate the revenue needed to sustain this latest government takeover.  He concluded that "Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks... is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement."

How Democrats will fare in the November elections as a result of this bill remains debatable.  But it seems that Obama, who evidently believes in the government's responsibility to impose "social justice," and whose approval rating dropped faster than any President before him, needed this victory for his redistribution-based agenda.  And that, all by itself, could define his legacy.

Andrew Jackson was the last President to pay off the national debt, doing so 175 years ago in 1835.  Since then, and especially over the past 30+ years, the seemingly deliberate misappropriation of taxpayer money has resulted in an insurmountably astronomical debt, not the least of which centers upon China and Japan, who now own a combined $1.66 trillion (45.1%) of U.S. Treasury Securities.  And this comes on the recent the news that Moody's could drop America's triple-A credit rating for the first time ever.

Though such irresponsibility practically begs for the secession debate, the advances of 21st century warfare all but guarantees the suppression of any such uprising, even if a grouping were to number in the tens of millions.  Only an act of God would assure anything better than a Pyrrhic victory.

There appears to be no happy ending in the long run.  In fact, I think we're officially f--ked.  I hope beyond hope to be wrong.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When the past and present collide

It was 235 years ago today, at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA, that Patrick Henry (the first and sixth Governor of post-colonial Virginia) exclaimed to the House of Burgesses, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

The affluence enjoyed by the people of our great Nation, and all too often take for granted, is the direct byproduct of the courage and sacrifices made by those who, in this era of acute hypersensitivity, are more often derided than praised.  And tragic as that is, the Republic they founded is now on the verge of changing in a very big and unfortunate way.

In the next post, I will explain how even a simpleton like me can see that a freight train running at 200 mph is (possibly) about to slam head-first into the mother of all barriers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Limbaugh and the NFL (redux)

So Rush Limbaugh isn't good enough for ownership of the St. Louis Rams, but apparently Shahid Khan (a Muslim named for Islamic martyrdom) is just fine.

In the interest of full disclosure, Khan and his wife are currently under investigation by the IRS for illegal tax shelters reportedly worth $250 million.  They are also being sued for negligence and professional malpractice for their purported dealings in "distressed debt," a questionable strategy that uses weak foreign currency to lower taxes.  The Khan's next court date is scheduled for Tuesday.

"Hypocrisy: prejudice with a halo."
-- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?), journalist, short story writer, and satirist whose disappearance in Mexico remains a mystery to this day

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The most "valuable" college basketball programs

With March Madness now underway, I thought a financial perspective from some of the big name players would be in order --

A couple of months ago I wrote about a piece from Forbes.com that ranked the most valuable teams in college football for the '09 season.  Forbes has done it again, this time listing the 20 most valuable teams in college basketball for 2010.

Although college programs are not valuable in the same way as pro sports franchises, the following gives an idea of their "real world" worth:

1. University of North Carolina Tar Heels -- Team Value: $29.0 million, Profit: $17.7 million
2. University of Kentucky Wildcats -- Value: $26.2 million, Profit: $16.1 million
3. University of Louisville Cardinals -- Value: $26.0 million, Profit: $16.9 million
4. University of Kansas Jayhawks -- Value: $24.0 million, Profit: $15.2 million
5. University of Illinois Fighting Illini -- Value: $20.8 million, Profit: $13.9 million
6. Indiana University Hoosiers -- Value: $20.5 million, Profit: $14.2 million
7. Ohio State University Buckeyes -- Value: $18.3 million, Profit: $11.4 million
8. Syracuse University Orange -- Value: $17.0 million, Profit: $9.0 million
9. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins -- Value: $16.8 million, Profit: $8.7 million
10. University of Arizona Wildcats -- Value: $16.6 million, Profit: $8.5 million
11. Duke University Blue Devils -- Value: $16.4 million, Profit: $5.6 million
12. University of Wisconsin Badgers -- Value: $16.3 million, Profit: $10.1 million
13. University of Maryland Terrapins -- Value: $15.5 million, Profit: $9.5 million
14. University of Arkansas Razorbacks -- Value: $14.6 million, Profit: $10.0 million
15. Xavier University Musketeers -- Value: $14.4 million, Profit: $9.1 million
16. University of Tennessee Volunteers -- Value: $14.1 million, Profit: $8.6 million
17. University of Minnesota Golden Gophers -- Value: $13.5 million, Profit: $8.9 million
18. University of Pittsburgh Panthers -- Value: $13.2 million, Profit: $6.5 million
19. Michigan State University Spartans -- Value: $13.0 million, Profit: $6.6 million
20. University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Runnin' Rebels -- Value: $12.9 million, Profit: $8.3 million

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is this really a "shift"?

Promoted as a kind of "bucket list" for Generation X, The Buried Life has been selected by MTV executives as the flagship of a reality programming overhaul that will shift from the breathtakingly superficial content that has dominated the network for over 10 years and refocus instead upon the production of more socially conscious media.

Or as a New York Times piece recently referred to it, "MTV for the era of Obama."  Read into that whatever you wish.

Monday, March 15, 2010

On This Day in History: March 15

44 BC -- Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Republic, is stabbed to death at the Theatre of Pompey by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and several other Roman senators.  This violent act set the stage for the end of the Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

1776 -- South Carolina becomes the first American colony to declare its independence from Great Britain and set up its own government.  They'd do it one more time about 85 years later.

1783 -- With the end of the American Revolution approaching, many soldiers who were deeply in debt due to their pro bono service to the Continental Army became concerned that Congress would not meet previous assurances in regard to back pay.

Congress derived all its revenue from the States and had no way of paying more than a fraction of the money owed, which resulted in talk among soldiers of enforcing martial law to secure what had been promised.  In an emotional speech, George Washington successfully pleaded with his officers not to support what became known as the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the threatened coup d'état never came to fruition.

1952 -- On the French island of Réunion, 73 inches of rain falls in the town of Cilaos in one day, setting a new world record.

1985 – The first Internet domain is registered to symbolics.com.  Purchased by XF.com Investments on August 27, 2009, the current Symbolics web site is available at symbolics-dks.com.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday's Quote(s): The politics of protests

It wasn't long after CNN and TV One contributor Roland Martin compared those who questioned the legitimacy of President Obama's citizenship to Holocaust deniers that his like-minded counterparts on Capital Hill launched similar denigrations against the Tea Party movement.

Regardless of your position on the Obama administration's universal health care proposal, the tactics used to demonize those who merely object upon the basis of an economic crisis that becomes exceedingly worse by the day deserve better than the following remarks:

"They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care."
-- Nancy Pelosi (D-California, 8th Congressional District), Speaker of the House of Representatives

"The last time I had to confront something like this was when I voted for the civil rights bill and my opponent voted against it.  At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremacists and folks in white sheets and other things running around causing trouble."
-- Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan, 15th Congressional District)

"What we’re seeing right now is close to Brown Shirt tactics."
-- Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington, 3rd Congressional District)

"Republicans and their allied groups -- desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill -- are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right-wing extremists funded by K Street lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of healthcare in America taking place in congressional districts across the country."
-- Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse, who has a history of verbal bomb-throwing

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Christians outside of America (are hunted like animals)

I used to maintain a scrapbook of newspaper and magazine articles that caught my attention.  One I kept was a USA Today piece by Columbia University journalism professor Samuel G. Freedman entitled, "Terrorists target local Christians."  A key sentence reads as follows:

"By using the terms 'Crusader' and 'infidel', [Osama] bin Laden has played on the image of Christians as the invaders, the oppressors, and the overdogs.  And by conflating Christianity with the West, journalists and politicians have inadvertently evoked the same archtype [sic]."

Back then, sometime around my early to mid-20s, I had an unfortunate habit of omitting the date from the clipping, and Freedman's website, in fact, does not list this particular work among his contributions.  Yet I am looking at the article as I write this very sentence, so I'm going to assume its existence is legitimate.

Volumes could be written about all that Christians have suffered in the name of Christ in just the past 12 months.  But instead of offering a diatribe of my own, I believe a recent piece about the current happenings in Nigeria sheds a more comprehensive light than anything I could offer:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

She saw it coming

There's been a great deal of debate about our national health care dilemma, so check this out --

By chance, about a year ago, I landed on Katie Couric's YouTube page when I came across her encounter with a group of Ole Miss Tri-Delts just prior to the first McCain-Obama debate, which was held at the Ford Center on the University of Mississippi campus (September 26, 2008).

The point of interest to watch for is a 15-second portion from 1:30-1:45 in which a pharmacy major declares why she had already decided to vote for John McCain.  Her words, thus far, have proven most prophetic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Hollywood

I just finished watching the Academy Awards (Oscars).  Clocking in at over three hours, this marks the first time that I've ever watched an awards show of any kind from start to finish.  Here's a quote that sums up the industry in a nutshell:

"This film cost $31 million.  With that kind of money I could have invaded some country."
-- Clint Eastwood

Saturday, March 6, 2010

If I could only get there

I visited the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, MS earlier this afternoon.  Having arrived too late to catch the last portion of the Oxford Conference for the Book (John Grisham spoke Friday), I decided to make the most of my southward journey by exploring the campus and surrounding area.

Depending on where you're coming from, Oxford is one of the few places by which the quickest way there requires perhaps the most asymmetrical path.  Common sense for the average Memphian insists that a straight shot down I-55 South would be easier than taking the back roads of US-78.  But that, of course, is wrong by upwards of 20 miles (no matter what Google Maps discloses), and I should know better.

Time spent on campus during football seasons past has afforded a firsthand knowledge of the alluring intangibles that make Ole Miss both comfortable and exceptional, whereupon I was pleasantly reminded as I parked in front of Farley Hall and the Overby Center for Journalism and Southern Politics, which stand adjacent to a 10-acre patch of sweet Mississippi goodness known simply as "The Grove."

Last Monday's unexpected passing of renowned author and Ole Miss MFA program director Barry Hannah almost brought the conference to a halt before it was scheduled to start.  Organizers ultimately moved forward in Hannah's honor, and though I had intended to hear at least a few of the lectures -- especially the ones centering upon writing about politics and racial identity -- I suppose my intrinsic longing to get back to Oxford after a longer-than-expected hiatus fueled my return as much as anything else.

I gleamed with a possibly misplaced sense of delight amid my campus stroll, almost placing myself in the shoes of an alumnus, as I observed the new and in-progress buildings that compliment signature establishments such as The Lyceum, Ventress Hall, the Barnard Observatory, and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.  I'm assuming the nonchalance I have always felt at Ole Miss inspires an affinity that wouldn't otherwise be present.

I eventually made my way off-campus to The Square not long after an exchange at the student union with a delightful Southern beauty, the kind which a guy such as myself aspires to one day bring home to mom.  The vestiges of winter began to linger as the sun descended while I casually floated from Square Books, to Off Square Books, to Oxford city hall where I finally came across that statue of William Faulkner sitting on a park bench that, for some reason, had eluded me for so long.  And somehow, that was the ideal way to end my brief time in Lafayette County.

Having read this far, you are likely wondering why I place the Ole Miss establishment on such a high pedestal.  Some of the reasons have been explained in the preceding paragraphs, but there also exists an academic angle of which I've rarely spoken.

I have a degree from Southern Illinois University ('04) hanging in front of me as I write this, which I look upon with some level of contempt because it serves as a reminder of mistakes and misfortune that cost me a fulfilling "college experience."  In short my best college memories have little to do with the University of Memphis (where I did most of my undergrad work), and they have nothing to do with Southern Illinois -- a campus I've never visited.  Believe me, it's a long story.

Even as a lifelong devotee to the University of Tennessee (the flagship school of my home State), I can say unreservedly that to do it all over again -- as if that were possible -- would have me battle against any obstacle to get myself down to Oxford to make the most of what the University of Mississippi has to offer.  I can only ponder what might have been, and while there are infinitely worse tragedies in this world, this is one instance for which the only reality, despite my daydreaming, is regret.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On This Day in History: March 3, multiple years

Because history matters...

1776 -- The first amphibious landing of the Continental Marines, the forerunner to the United States Marine Corps, begins the Battle of Nassau.  The victors were led by Samuel Nicholas, the first officer commissioned in the United States Continental Marines, and by tradition the first Commandant of the Marine Corps.

1845 -- Florida is admitted as the 27th State.

1915 -- The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor of NASA, is founded.

1923 -- TIME magazine is published for the first time.

1924 -- The 1400-year-old Islamic caliphate (Muslim-centered theocracy) is abolished when Abdul Mejid II of the Ottoman Empire is deposed.

1931 -- The United States officially adopts The Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem.

1938 -- Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.  They've been a pain in the ass ever since.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Iconic Shot: The Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 before being surpassed by Taipei 101, located in the Xinyi District of southern Taiwan.  The world's tallest man-made structure is now, as of 2010, the 2,717-ft. Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
© 2004 Ángel Riesgo Martínez