Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Return to Oxford

Galvanized by the prospect of drawing awareness to the University of Mississippi's self-inflicted mascot debacle, I wedged myself out of bed Saturday morning after another grueling shift at the Hub and visited Ole Miss for the first time since last March to join a contingency of like-minded individuals bent on keeping the memory of Colonel Reb alive.

Gameday in Oxford is a special experience.  Especially in October.  Loyalists by the tens of thousands have pilgrimaged to The Grove for generations, almost without regard to the Rebels' historically inconsistent gridiron performance, in the interest of assembling with their fellow Southerners to extol the insular attributes of all that sets Ole Miss enthusiasts apart from everyone else.  Heck, they revel in it.

Who the hell are we? ... Ole Miss, by damn!

The campus atmosphere is infectious from the moment you arrive.  And this, in part, is central to why many object to the banishment of their mascot -- a symbol that both embodies a regional vibe and externalizes certain idiosyncrasies that go far in transcending the obstinance of the past.  In essence Colonel Reb, over a period of decades, became the principal emblem of what draws so many thousands to Ole Miss in the first place.

Some people take issue with that.  Some say that the depiction of what appears to be a plantation owner -- that was never official, by the way -- has no place in the 21st century.  Indeed considerable efforts have been made to either rewrite, or erase the past altogether by redefining that which makes Southerners who they are.  Evidently those opponents are unaware of how that favor, as it were, could be returned at least threefold.  But I digress.

Because the Colonel has been dismissed by the very individuals who should have been front and center to defend him, the forced acceptance of inessential change amid this era of hypersensitivity has left many to consider the cultural wax and wane, unwanted by most, that assuredly lays ahead.

The future, of course, is unknown.  And while the uncertainty is pervasive, it never takes away from the moment.  Not at Ole Miss.  Last Saturday, amid the inviting scenery and perfect weather, a near-record crowd marched in unison out of The Grove, through Whiskey Alley, and onto Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to watch the Rebels battle the top-ranked Auburn Tigers.  And for just a little while, everything was alright -- even after Ole Miss fell, 51-31.

The rally I was told about, for the record, never came to fruition.  But that was irrelevant because I was in Oxford, and simply being there was enough.  The ambiance, all by itself, makes the 75-mile trip worthwhile.  As a wise man once said, Ole Miss is mood, emotion and personality. ... The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved.

That, too, could be said for its retired Colonel.

" Oxford lies, as promised, the most magical place on all of God's green, football-playing Earth: the Grove.  A school of red and white and blue tents swimming in a shaded 10-acre forest of oak trees, floating in an ocean of good will and even better manners ... Yes, they drink bourbon and eat boiled peanuts and finger sandwiches from sterling-silver platters and serving dishes arranged by caterers and frantic moms on elaborate tabletops.  They partake in front of flat-screen TVs with DirecTV, underneath chandeliers and amongst intricate candelabras and ornate flower arrangements. ... Because that's what the Grove really is: a place for adults.  A secret place run, governed and funded by grown-ups.  Sure, the students drink their booze and scarf their food.  But they also lug the tents in at 4 a.m. (often for $100 or more).  It's as if the Ole Miss'ians have swindled their Li'l Miss'ians into attending only so they themselves have an excuse to come back."
-- Sports Illustrated; September 27, 2004

Friday, October 29, 2010

List Fest: Greed kills

Amid losses totaling as much as $400 million, the National Basketball Association is considering a number of potentially drastic measures to keep the league from financial collapse.  The following is a list of 25 places where Commissioner David Stern can begin the inevitable cuts:

Highest NBA salaries, 2010-2011
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, $24.8 million
2. Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic, $20.5 million
3. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics, $18.8 million
4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs, $18.7 million
5. Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks, $18.3 million
6. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, $17.8 million

6. Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz, $17.8 million
8. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards, $17.7 million
9. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets, $17.6 million
10. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies, $17.4 million
11. Vince Carter, Orlando Magic, $17.3 million

11. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, $17.3 million
13. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets, $17.1 million
14. Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks, $16.8 million
15. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, $16.5 million
16. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks, $16.3 million
17. Kenyon Martin, Denver Nuggets, $16.0 million

17. Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers, $16.0 million
19. Predrag Stojakovic, New Orleans Hornets, $15.3 million
20. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets, $14.9 million

20. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz, $14.9 million
22. LeBron James, Miami Heat, $14.5 million

22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat, $14.5 million
24. Jason Richardson, Phoenix Suns, $14.4 million
25. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, $15.0 million

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From My Own Camera: Shelby County sunsets

Again, I'm not a professional.  But I try.  And please note, the bottom half of each shot was originally sharper than it now appears.  Overall, however, I think they turned out relatively well.
(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud: Brutality pays (every Thursday)

As one would likely assume from the pure joy upon my countenance, I've been working the night(mare) shift at the FedEx World Hub in Memphis, Tennessee since mid-2005, during which time I can recall having a scant three "good" nights.  Considering the past five years and three months, this means that my colleagues and I are afforded a "good" night at work once every 21 months.

"Hey Adam, why don't you just get another job?"

That's a great question.  In fact, that's possibly the deepest and most profound question anyone has ever asked.  I wish I had thought of that because you make it sound so simple, as if new employment grows deep within a magical forest where bushels of one hundred-dollar bills have just come into bloom.

As luck would have it, this otherworldly place also happens to be located next to a charming little village, unmarked on any map, that's populated with nothing but beautiful women who are only too happy to fulfill your every wish.

The stark reality of the matter is exceedingly more brutal.  Although unemployment trends over the past several years (or more) should have me grateful to have a job at all, the long-term effects of earning a paycheck in the most overtly demanding work environment I've ever experienced, by far, has me -- like so many others -- searching high and low for a miracle that just is not there.

Monday, October 25, 2010

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 8

Boise State has the stuff to remain #1, but keeping Oregon from the top spot amid the Broncos' bye week (not to mentioned the Ducks' 47-point win over UCLA) is simply impossible.  Missouri enters the top 10 for the first time and Ohio State re-enters, while Oklahoma and Louisiana State drop out.

Rankings as of October 25, 2010
#1  Oregon (7-0), 680 pts.
#2  Boise State (6-0), 655 pts.
#3  Auburn (8-0), 640 pts.
#4  Texas Christian (8-0), 575 pts.
#5  Michigan State (8-0), 545 pts.
#6  Utah (7-0), 470 pts.
#7  Alabama (7-1), 440 pts.
#8  Missouri (7-0), 365 pts.
#9  Wisconsin (7-1), 320 pts.
#10  Ohio State (7-1), 310 pts.

Navy's John Dowd, Doug Furman and Brady DeMell jump into the stands to celebrate with their fellow Midshipmen after defeating Notre Dame, 35-17, at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  After losing a record-setting 43 consecutive games to Notre Dame, Navy have now won three of their last four against the Fighting Irish.  © Getty Images

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday's Quote: The way they think

I have an issue (or two) with the way Liberals process information.

They claim the Bush tax cuts reduced public revenues and expanded the federal deficit.  They also claim that a fetus is little more than a blob, that abortion does not result in other physical and mental ailments, that gun control reduces crime, that pro-life and pro-gun stances are incompatible, that media bias is over-exaggerated, and that questioning the homosexual agenda is equivalent to only the severest form of bigotry.

Despite a coalition of 39 nations, the Left also insists that our military acted unilaterally in Iraq, that renaming the War on Terrorism to "Overseas Contingency Operation" isn't laughable, that cutbacks to our defenses will some how make us more secure, that our country will go bankrupt if we don't spend more taxpayer dollars, that all religions teach the same thing, that Intelligent Design has no evidence, and that a 13-story mega-mosque at Ground Zero is acceptable (but prayer in our public schools is not).

These heavily promoted falsehoods are motivated by ideologues who also believe that, somehow, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert can lead the Left through its self-induced political wilderness via the "The Rally To Restore Sanity" and "The March To Keep Fear Alive" on October 30.  That is bizarre, if not absurd, to most of us.  Yet it makes perfect sense to them because using jokes to convey the Left Wing's message is their only real weapon.

And that is why their defeat is imminent --

"So they can't find any port-a-potties for Stewart and Colbert's rallies.  Actually, this could be helpful: the attendees can go ahead and crap in their pants as practice for what's going to happen on Election Day. ... I actually think that every network ought to televise these Stewart and Colbert rallies.  I can't think of anything better to get out the Tea Party vote than having the ordinary American voter mocked by a bunch of stupid (and smug-about-it), overpaid, metrosexual comedians."
-- Rush Limbaugh; October 20, 2010

Glenn Beck's rally is on top.  The counter rally is beneath it (in more ways than one).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Real Music: Power chords

Having caught some recent footage from Metallica's "World Magnetic Tour," it's clear that frontman James Hetfield isn't as big and mighty on vocals as he once was.  In his defense, and no matter your preference(s) of music, most can barely comprehend the grind of performing 1,700 shows covering six continents over the past 28 years.  Yet it's the inconsistent presence of Metallica's otherwise signature muscle on guitar that throws loyalists the most.

Thus I've included a shredders anthem from their "Damaged Justice" tour 21 years ago to remind those who may have forgotten what Hetfield & Co. are all about:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Those who forget the past... (you know the rest)

In 1984, German historian and professor Alexander Demandt published a collection of 210 theories ("Der Fall Roms") regarding the collapse of the Roman Empire.  Other ideas have entered the unending debate since, but many of Demandt's estimations undoubtedly mirror America's present state of affairs.  They include --

Absence of character, apathy, bankruptcy, bastardization, bureaucracy, centralization, childlessness, communism, complacency, corruption, cosmopolitanism, cultural neurosis, decline of the cities, deforestation, degeneration of the intellect, demoralization, despotism, egoism, epidemics, escapism, exploitation, gluttony, hedonism, heresy, homosexuality, inflation, intellectualism, irrationality, mystery religions, pacifism, polytheism, prostitution, rationalism, rhetoric, sensuality, shamelessness, social and cultural leveling, socialism, vain gloriousness and vulgarization.

While reviewing Are We Rome? by Vanity Fair editor-at-large Cullen Murphy, NPR's Linda Kulman drew an ominous, yet undeniable comparison between the United States and Rome when she referenced "...the dangerous blurring of public and private responsibilities, paired with an inflated sense of power that can blind us to what's happening beyond our borders."  Kulman ended on a more sanguine note: "Where Rome was all about self-satisfaction, America prides itself on self-improvement.  It's this optimistic quality ... that may make it possible for us to reinvent ourselves instead of going the way of the ancient empire."

Let us hope that her assessment is accurate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 7

Based upon a complex method of combining various polls and mathematical formulae, the Bowl Championship Series was designed to operate as an objective system devoid of human error that guaranteed the top two teams would meet at season's end to determine the undisputed national champion of college football's most elite division.  Yet it only seems to work as intended every other year.

Case in point: The first BCS rankings for the season debuted yesterday, and Oklahoma -- a squad voted no higher than #3 in any poll -- currently sit atop of the only rankings that will matter from now until the end of the year.  Consequently the new book, "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," appears more legitimate by the day.

Despite being treated as college football's unwanted stepchild, the Boise State Broncos have bulldozed their way into national prominence.  With nine seasons of at least 10 wins over the previous 12 years, the Broncos have amassed an impressive 128-20 record since the beginning of the 1999 campaign en route to six bowl wins, including two victories in the Fiesta Bowl.

Although history should have no impact on the current season -- except in regard to big name schools, who will always be given the benefit of any doubt -- BSU are commonly, and unjustly, looked upon as a flash in the pan.  Hide behind the "strength of schedule" argument against them if you like, and/or refer to me as a contrarian if that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.  But the bottom line could not be more clear: you don't want your favorite team to face the men from Boise.

As I Tweeted yesterday, unexpected losses by Ohio State, Nebraska, South Carolina & Florida barely 48 hours ago are emblematic of why college football inspires such passion.  The unpredictable nature of our new national pastime is also why Boise State, like it or not, are now the #1 team in the country.
Rankings as of October 18, 2010
#1  Boise State (6-0), 670 pts.
#2  Oregon (6-0), 665 pts.
#3  Texas Christian (7-0), 630 pts.
#4  Oklahoma (7-0), 585 pts.
#5  Auburn (7-0), 545 pts.
#6  Michigan State (7-0), 485 pts.
#7  Alabama (6-1), 425 pts.
#8  Utah (6-0), 360 pts.
#9  Louisiana State (7-0), 325 pts.
#10  Wisconsin (6-1), 310 pts.
Mississippi State cornerback Zach Smith jumps into the arms of head coach Dan Mullen after Florida missed a field goal in the final seconds of the game.  With the 10-7 victory last Saturday night, the Bulldogs earned their first win in Gainesville in 45 years.  Florida, on the other end, lost their third consecutive game for the first time in 22 years.  As a result, the putrid Gators have since fallen out of the Associated Press top 25 for the first time since 2003.  Picture © Associated Press

Iconic Shot: Along the English coast

(click to enlarge)
Occasionally used as a backdrop for movies, music and prose, Beachy Head is located in East Sussex county on the southern coast of England.  With a nearly unrivaled panoramic view overlooking the English Channel arm of the Atlantic Ocean, the 530-foot rise above sea level allows for the Dungeness headland on the coast of Kent, nearly 40 miles away, to be seen on a clear day.  More ominously, however, statistics also show the cliff to be the third-most common suicide spot in the world.

This shot was taken by an excellent photographer from London, England (via Melbourne, Australia) named David Iliff and published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License by the Free Software Foundation.  More of his fine work is sure to be featured in future posts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sundays' Quote: 140-character maximum, pt. 2

Having initially questioned Twitter's usefulness, I now understand both its purpose and appeal.  Continuing a post from last June, the following is a list of my favorites from the past four months, 75 in all, that go far to convey in a limited amount of words that which I sometimes have difficulty expressing in lengthy diatribes:

1) "Clearly we have forgotten those who painstakingly dug the wells from which we still draw water.  Look to God & the Founders, America!"
-- August 14
2) "Hey Islam: Lan astaslem."
-- June 30
3) "It's better to be a hard-line Conservative than a no-line Liberal."
-- August 24
4) "I don't always need to induce vomiting.  But when I do, I prefer MSNBC.  Stay thirsty my friends."
-- September 1
5) "What is hypocrisy?  Howard Stern calling Rush Limbaugh 'vile'."
-- June 9
6) "Some of us aren't surprised by Helen Thomas because some of us are aware that Liberals frequently cultivate ridiculous nonsense."
-- June 6
7) "California: where marijuana is acceptable and cigarettes are ethically reprehensible."
-- October 10
8) "It's interesting to see Perez Hilton take part in the no bullying campaign when his career was built on ripping people to shreds."
-- October 7
9) "Being a Feminist originally meant that you demanded equality.  Now it simply means that a man hasn't asked you out for a date in 10 years."
-- August 23
10) "Once we were a thinking people.  Now we are an emotional people.  The difference is profound."
-- June 5
11) "God will only allow us the leaders we deserve.  The further from Him we get, the worse our leadership will become."
-- July 14
12) "Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale by a combined electoral tally of 1014-62.  How?  By being Conservative."
-- September 8
13) "I understand that he's 'historic', but please understand: Obama's not 'The Chosen One'.  He's just another politician."
-- June 24
14) "Al Sharpton's most recent rant, which entailed comparing Obama to Jesus, is pretty much par for the course at this point."
-- August 12
15) "For the record, when Obama says that his salvation relies upon our collective salvation as a society, that is NOT Biblical."
-- August 3
16) "It seems we lend too much legitimacy to the perspective of 'commentators' whose paycheck depends upon whether or not they make us laugh."
-- June 18
17) "Say what you want about Glenn Beck, you freaking liberals, but he's only guilty of loving this country more than you do."
-- September 1
18) "And remember kids, it's only okay for Democrats to have money."
-- June 13
19) "Of the 10 wealthiest politicians in Congress, seven are Democrats, which proves that it's only okay for the Left to have lots of money."
-- September 2
20) "Terms like 'frenemy', 'chillax', & 'bromance are being added to the Oxford Dictionary of English.  The end is definitely near."
-- August 22
21) "George Steinbrenner tried to fire God earlier today, to which the Almighty replied, 'Go to Hell'."
-- July 13
22) "Charles Krauthammer's comment about the Left's 'social engineering hubris' was spot-on.  He's hardcore."
-- June 25
23) "I'd prefer to be born wealthy instead of devastatingly handsome.  Being really, really, ridiculously good looking isn't all that great."
-- October 1
24) "Unemployed with a pending felony charge to boot, Alvin Greene won S.C.'s Democratic Senate primary w/o running a full campaign.  Silly Dems."
-- June 9
25) "Ozzy Osbourne is Rolling Stone's new health columnist.  I'm guessing Amy Winehouse wasn't available."
-- July 4
26) "The older I get, the more I appreciate Van Halen's first six albums."
-- October 16
27) "Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez has threatened to cut his oil supply to the U.S.  I'm sure Oliver Stone is thrilled."
-- July 29
28) "Oliver Stone called George Bush a 'devil', but he places Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro on a pedestal.  Only Liberals praise our enemies."
-- July 22 ("Stephen Marche's piece about Oliver Stone in the most recent edition of Esquire is a must-read." -- September 23)
29) "Chris Matthews says new anti-illegal immigration plan is '...just pandering to angry White people'.  Hey Matthews, f--k off."
-- July 1
30) "Gallup shows Independents swinging strongly toward GOP because Dems have become 'too liberal'.  Thanks Obama, Matthews, Olbermann, et al."
-- July 1
31) "Liberals are good at being cool.  That's their m.o.  Conservatives must get better at being right.  That's our calling."
-- September 9
32) "When everyone else sees a belligerent aggressor, liberals only see a potential voter."
-- August 20
33) "A Google search on Samir Shabazz turns up practically no mainstream sources.  Ah, but if a 'cracker' dared to spew such rhetoric..."
-- July 11
34) "Those who 'hate' on Christopher Columbus exhibit some degree of naiveté.  If not the Spanish, explorers would have come from elsewhere."
-- October 11
35) "Whether it's 'Cordoba House' or 'Park51', the proposed mosque at Ground Zero is a 13-story monument to Islam's desire to dominate America."
-- July 15
36) "I will build a big Christian church near Mecca & preach about tolerance.  I'm sure Muslims would have no problem with that whatsoever."
-- September 13
37) "I am officially calling for Islamic Shari'a law to become more Constitutionally compliant."
-- August 29
38) "The guy who plans to burn a bunch of Qurans on 9/11 is going a bit overboard.  But the worldwide slaughter of Christians by Muslims is okay."
-- September 8
39) "I came to do two things: kill terrorists and drink beer.  Looks like we're out of beer."
-- September 11
40) "Perhaps Tom Brady is taking too much grief for his hair.  If Gisele Bundchen is your wife and she tells you to let your hair grow, you do it."
-- September 22
41) "Who the (expletive) is Justin Bieber to make fun of Tom Brady's hair?"
-- October 15
42) "Joe Montana endorsing Skechers feels wrong."
-- June 8
43) "Should it bother me that my football hero, four-time Super Bowl champ Joseph Clifford Montana, endorses Skechers?  Because it does."
-- August 26
44) "Hey atheists, save your comments about the 60-foot Jesus statue burning in Ohio.  Just like the real thing, it will rise again."
-- June 15
45) "Secularists of any sort have accomplished nothing without standing on the shoulders of Christian giants."
-- July 3
46) "LeBron's manufactured drama might backfire."
-- July 7
47) "So which is it LeBron: Team Edward or Team Jacob?"
-- July 8
48) "Revis wants $160 million.  The Jets are offering $120 million.  Personally, I'd be glad to take the Jets offer.  But that's just me."
-- August 11
49) "Pay-Rod just smacked his 600th home run, and yet I find myself wondering if Snookie would consider him a 'gorilla juice head'."
-- August 4
50) "China's Deng Feng 21D missile is being called an aircraft carrier 'killer'.  But we still have Chuck Norris.  Advantage: USA."
-- August 6
51) "China might challenge America on the economic front, but they have nine-day traffic jams that stretch for over 60 miles.  Advantage: USA."
-- August 24
52) "So Orlando Bloom is engaged to my girl Miranda Kerr.  Who cares?  I'm not jealous.  Nope.  Not me.  No sir.  Not one little bit."
-- June 21
53) "So, some hockey dude married my future wife, Carrie Underwood.  Perhaps a vicious body check into the boards would teach him a lesson, ay?"
-- July 12
54) "It seems Marc Lamont Hill has the unique ability to speak very fast without saying anything at all."
-- September 27
55) "The biggest reason people watch Bill O'Reilly?  They know something will be shown from the Left that will cause their jaw to hit the floor."
-- September 29
56) "Newsmax ('The Great Right Hope') could buy Newsweek.  Karma.  Lane Kiffin ditching the Vols & landing at USC amid scandal.  Also karma."
-- June 10
57) "Oh wow, someone else called Sarah Palin a racist because they disagree with her.  How shocking and original."
-- July 20
58) "The new Ole Miss mascot finalists are a lion, bear, horse, land shark, & something called 'Hotty & Toddy'.  And they're all fraudulent."
-- July 24
59) "Clearly the Ole Miss loss to Jacksonville St. is attributable to God's disapproval of Colonel Reb's absence."
-- September 4
60) "No matter what the U. of Mississippi administration says or does, Colonel Rebel will always, always, always be THE Ole Miss mascot."
-- September 30
61) "Come to think of it, the 'Rebel Bruiser' option to replace Colonel Reb at Ole Miss wasn't so bad after all."
-- October 10
62) "The new Ole Miss mascot will be recognized by the administration only.  Everyone else knows who the real face of the Rebels will always be."
-- October 14
63) "Conan O'Brien wants Ole Miss to return his masturbating bear."
-- October 14
64) "Continuing the jokes I've been hearing, "Parker/Spitzer" sounds like something for which a salacious individual would pay a lot of money."
-- October 4
65) "Earlier today Goldberg & Behar demonstrated, quite perfectly, how the truth hurts the Left (hypersensitive hacks)."
-- October 14
66) "The only thing worse than The View is Kathy Griffin on The View."
-- June 17
67) "Somehow I'm actually offended that Justin Bieber's 'Baby' has garnered 253,368,895 hits on YouTube.  It just isn't right."
-- July 21 (Note: As of October 17, the number of hits the aforementioned video has received now exceeds 359 million.)
68) "It's amazing how entertained we are by complete crap."
-- July 5
69) "Who needs that iPhone 4 anyway?  I'm still rockin' the rotary, yo."
-- June 24
70) "I think too much is made of Tom Cruise's couch jumping on Oprah.  Cult member or not, it really isn't that big of a deal."
-- July 3
71) "Inexplicably, Baskin-Robbins is retiring its French Vanilla flavor of ice cream. COMMUNISTS!!!"
-- July 18
72) "CNN's Sanjay Gupta and say Darth Vader exhibited criteria for borderline personality disorder.  So do half the people I know."
-- June 12
73) "Our last four Presidents have been embarrassments, our economy sucks, & the Gulf is filled with oil.  A World Cup win today would be nice."
-- June 23
74) "I'm afraid Miley Cyrus is well on her way to becoming just like Britney.  Let's hope she resists the temptation to shave her head."
-- October 12
75) "It seems that I'm naturally inclined to hate both the player and the game."
-- September 17

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From My Own Camera: Self-explanatory (or so you'd think)

(click to enlarge)
The consolidation debate centering upon Memphis and the surrounding areas throughout Shelby County has been raging for years.  Typically racial in context, perhaps the most overlooked crux of the matter is that Memphis has nothing to offer the smaller, more efficient towns that simply do not need Memphis nearly as much as the Bluff City needs them (or at least, their tax dollars).

This picture, in some bit of irony, was taken recently in a quaint little town called Rosemark, which, I just discovered, is located on the edge of Shelby County.  For years I believed this stretch of Mudville Rd. was situated in Tipton County, which is why the sign, at first, seemed out of place.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On This Day in History: Those dastardly explorers

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island was found vandalized with red paint yesterday.  For additional effect, a sign that read "murderer" was left hanging around the statue's waist.  Later that day, dueling rallies were held in Boston, about 50 miles from Providence, to celebrate and protest the observance of the Spanish explorer's voyage to the Americas.

Although anti-Columbus sentiment is not new, it has become more virulent.  As school curricula give way to hypersensitivity aimed at national pride, the disregard of other cultural imperfections that are celebrated ad nauseam while concurrently refusing to acknowledge the achievements of both the explorers and Founding Fathers, without whom our greatness would not be possible, is unavoidably conspicuous.  It's also abject hypocrisy.

Aside from Columbus, the following Europeans deserve some degree of recognition and gratitude for their exploration throughout the Americas: John Cabot (c. 1497, via England), Alonso de Ojeda (c. 1499, via Spain, alongside Amerigo Vespucci, after whom America is named), Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (c. 1500, via Spain), Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1500, via Portugal), Gaspar Corte-Real (c. 1500, via Spain), Rodrigo de Bastidas (c. 1501, via Spain), Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1513, via Spain), Juan Ponce de León (c. 1513, via Spain) and Juan Díaz de Solís (c. 1516, via Spain).

Now for some history...

1492 – The first expedition led by Christopher Columbus makes landfall for the first time at San Salvador Island in The Bahamas.

1792 – The first celebration of Columbus Day is observed in New York.  It would not become a Federal holiday until 1937.

1793 – The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest building at the oldest State university in the United States, is laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

1870 – General Robert Edward Lee died.  A West Point graduate (class of 1829) and U.S. Army Colonel whom President Lincoln personally chose to quell a certain uprising in the South, Lee is best remembered as both the commanding general of the Confederate Army and one of the greatest of all Americans.

1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited by students in many public schools throughout the United States as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage.

1901 – The Executive Mansion is officially renamed "The White House" by President Theodore Roosevelt.

1960 – As both General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev infamously pounds his shoe on a desk during an assembly of the United Nations to protest the assertion of colonial policy being conducted by the Soviets throughout eastern Europe.

1972 – En route to the Gulf of Tonkin, a racial brawl involving more than 100 sailors breaks out aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.

1999 – Although its veracity is debatable, "The Day of Six Billion" is commemorated by the United Nations Population Fund as the approximate day on which the number of people in the world reached 6,000,000,000 following the birth of Adnan Nevic in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

2000 – Religion of Peace: The USS Cole (DDG-667), a United States Navy destroyer, is badly damaged in the port of Aden, Yemen by two suicide bombers connected to al-Qaeda, killing 17 and wounding 39.

2002 – Religion of Peace: Terrorists detonate bombs in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 and wounding over 300.

Monday, October 11, 2010

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 6

TEC, unlike most, has South Carolina ranked just outside of the top 10, as the Gamecocks' win at home over former #1 Alabama feels more like an anomaly than an exhibition of team superiority.  Ohio State, because of the 'bama loss, grabs the top spot in the rankings, although considerable arguments for both Boise State and Oregon could be made.  Arizona drops out after just one week in the rankings, while Lucky Les Miles's Bayou Bengals enter the top 10 for the first time.

Rankings as of October 11, 2010
#1  Ohio State (6-0), 680 pts.
#2  Boise State (5-0), 655 pts.
#3  Oregon (6-0), 640 pts.
#4  Texas Christian (6-0), 565 pts.
#5  Oklahoma (5-0), 530 pts.
#6  Nebraska (5-0), 485 pts.
#7  Auburn (6-0), 425 pts.
#8  Alabama (5-1), 385 pts.
#9  Utah (5-0), 330 pts.
#10  Louisiana State (6-0), 305 pts.

Alabama's Julio Jones reacts as the game against South Carolina begins to slip away.  Personally, I think it's a beautiful shot.  © Associated Press; October 9, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sundays' Quote: While we sleep

"Most of us, most of the time, live in blissful ignorance of what a small, elite, heroic group of Americans are doing for us night and day.  As we speak, all over the globe, American sailors and submariners and aviators are doing something very dangerous. ... Right now, somewhere around the world, young men are landing high-performance jet aircraft on the pitching decks of aircraft carriers -- at night!  You can't pay people to do that; they do it out of love of country, of adventure, of the challenge.  We all benefit from it, and the very fact that we don't have to think about it tells you how superbly they're doing their job -- living on the edge of danger so the rest of us need not think about, let alone experience danger."
-- George F. Will, January 28, 1986 (published on the day of the Challenger disaster); respectfully borrowed from the homepage of Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One {VFA-151, the "Vigilantes"}

(click to enlarge)
F-18C Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One return to Naval Air Station Lemoore (California) after completion of Exercise Sentry Eagle, a biannual, two-day exercise that emphasizes defending friendly airspace and assets from adversarial forces.  Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James L. Harper, Jr.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud: Infidelity amplified

Although nobody expects our paragons of athletic supremacy to act like angels all of the time...

It's clear that you're a heavily flawed individual, Brett, and I'm really hoping that's not your pathetic little junk that's being shown all over the Internet.

Come to think of it, Tiki, you're not exactly Husband of the Year, either.  Leaving the mother of your children (a month before she delivered twins) for a college-age intern is beyond inexcusable.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Iconic Shot: How else could Tiger be upstaged?

(click to enlarge)
This photo, taken on October 2 by Mark Pain of the British tabloid Daily Mail during the 2010 Ryder Cup, captures Tiger Woods attempting a chip shot on the final hole of the afternoon at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales.  Tiger's trajectory went awry and hit Pain's camera a split second before the photographer snapped his shot.

Additionally, this once-in-a-lifetime picture has become an international sensation thanks to the as-yet unidentified man on the right side.  Sporting a Groucho Marx-style mustache, the individual currently known as "Cigar Guy" adds a twofold element to the surreal nature of this shot, which is now being hailed by some as the greatest picture in sports history.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Speaking the unabashed Truth

Narrated by novelist, philanthropist and Conservative commentator Joel Rosenberg, this six minute piece about Coptic revivalist Father Zakaria Botros and his efforts to spread the Gospel of Christ in the Middle East should serve as a penetrating example for all Believers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 5

Alabama took care of business against a formerly intimidating Gator squad, but the second-ranked Buckeyes were less impressive at lowly Illinois.  With a statement win over a very solid Stanford team, Oregon jumps Texas Christian in the rankings.  And with the victory over Texas, Oklahoma also jumps idle Nebraska, while Wisconsin and the aforementioned Gators and Cardinal end up on the outside looking in.  New to the list are undefeated Auburn, Utah and Arizona.

Rankings as of October 4, 2010
#1  Alabama (5-0), 730 pts.
#2  Ohio State (5-0), 630 pts.
#3  Boise State (4-0), 615 pts.
#4  Oregon (5-0), 575 pts.
#5  Texas Christian (5-0), 540 pts.
#6  Oklahoma (5-0), 460 pts.
#7  Nebraska (4-0), 445 pts.
#8  Auburn (5-0) 365 pts.
#9  Utah (4-0), 340 pts.
#10  Arizona (4-0), 300 pts.

Having initially believed the Volunteers pulled off the upset against nationally ranked Louisiana State, University of Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker collapses in disbelief as LSU celebrates Stevan Ridley's game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game, which resulted from an illegal procedure penalty that allowed the Tigers an additional opportunity to score.  The Vols were edged in the end, 16-14.  (Photo by the Associated Press)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sundays' Quote: Leaders of the past harken to us still

The once-unthinkable has become commonplace.  As cheerful optimism is supplanted by acute pessimism, many of the 300 million in our country now spend time, everyday, pondering our future path.  And for the first time in ages, the definitive answers at which we once arrived with relative ease now escape us.

All is not lost, however.  In fact the solutions we seek are readily available if only we apply the proper formula.  One of America's most distinguished guardians, dead for nearly a half-century, summed it up best:

"History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline.  There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster." 
-- General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific during World War II and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor; from General MacArthur Speeches and Reports 1908-1964, (2000, p. 198) ed. by Colonel Edward T. Imparato, USAF; also found in America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations (1996, p. 407) by William J. Federer 

And one more, just for good measure...

"From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.  The Long Gray Line has never failed us.  Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.  This does not mean that you are war mongers.  On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.  But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: 'Only the dead have seen the end of war.'"
-- from MacArthur's "Duty, Honor, Country" address to the United States Military Academy; May 12, 1962.  MacArthur himself graduated first in his class at West Point in 1903.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Amortization of tax dollars

So how do the Feds divvy up taxpayer money?  A recent piece on NPR offers this ballpark figure: