Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Probably the latter

The MTV Video Music Awards recently scored its highest ratings in 18 years, but don't expect this once-delightfully eccentric network to break from its nauseating reality-based programing anytime soon.  Thus composing a prolonged diatribe about how the mighty have fallen is unnecessary when this clever little tid bit says it all.

And on a side note, The Clearly Dope is one of the best (albeit somewhat uncouth) blogs on the 'net.  Bar none.  Have a visit whenever you need a good laugh.

c/o The Clearly Dope – August 29, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

TEC's 2011 Preseason College Football Top 10

I've never had much use for preseason college football polls because they are historically comprised of gut feelings by those who base their estimations on hype that is largely concentrated upon a criterion of returning starters and unproven recruits.  A year-by-year comparison of national polls, from the start any particular season to the final tally, proves the unreliability of these long-standing traditions in foretelling who the best of the best really are beyond any question.

My 5,000-point system of ranking has proven as good as any other yardstick over the previous two seasons.  And because I am hindered by neither the media nor the NCAA, The Eccentric Conservative has brought the Top 10 back for a third season.

Here's the way it looks going into Week 1:

1. Oklahoma, 650 pts.
2. Alabama, 625 pts.
3. Oregon, 590 pts.
4. Boise State, 565 pts.
5. Louisiana State, 530 pts.
6. Stanford, 505 pts.
7. Florida State, 450 pts.
8. Texas A&M, 400 pts.
9. Wisconsin, 355 pts.
10. Oklahoma State, 330 pts.

Contender watch list: Nebraska, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Texas Christian

In addition, only three Heisman winners since 1950 were not positioned in the offensive backfield: Tim Brown won as a wide receiver at Notre Dame in 1987.  Desmond Howard did the same at Michigan in 1991, and fellow Wolverine Charles Woodson followed in 1997 as the first defensive player to win the coveted trophy.

The trend of offensive recipients is likely to continue.  Hence the Heisman watchlist (alphabetically, with last season's stats) is as follows:

* Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State (1,201 rush. yards, 5.8 ypc, 13 TD)
* Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (131 rec., 1,622 rec. yards, 14 TD)
* LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (1,731 rush. yards, 5.9 ypc, 21 TD)
* Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (4,718 pass. Yards, 38 TD, 65.6 comp. %)
* Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (1,197 rush. yards, 4.8 ypc, 17 TD)
* Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (3,338 pass. yards, 32 TD, 70.7 comp. %)
* Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (3,845 pass. yards, 35 TD, 71.3 comp. %)
* Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (700 rush. yards, 6.3 ypc, 6 TD)
* Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (2,570 pass. yards, 1,702 rush. yards, 32 total TD)
* Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State (4,277 pass. yards, 34 TD, 66.9 comp. %)

This season cannot get started soon enough.

 c/o Smokey's Trail
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for The Great Pumpkin.  In a little over 16 seasons, former University of Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer managed a combined 48-3 conference record against Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Along with career splits versus Auburn and Louisiana State, Fulmer also went 9-2 against Arkansas, 10-5 against Georgia and 11-3 against arch rival Alabama.  Eight bowl wins, six division and two conference titles along with a national championship made him great.  And he never cheated.  Go Vols!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday's Quote: The conundrum of the underprivileged

The notion that Obama would be an avenger of the poor and downtrodden is one of the more illogical rationales that ultimately led to his election, as waiting in hopeful expectation for those who rule from an ivory tower to lift the subjugated multitudes from the ruins of their destitute existence has never been part of the mantra that separates America from all other nations.  Here's one of the Founders to better explain why.

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"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.  I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.  In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer.  And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

"There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor.  Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen?  On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.

"The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness.  In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.  Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners.  St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays.

"SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them."
– from "On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor" by abolitionist, author, diplomat, inventor, politician, scientist and co-Founding Father of the United States Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790); November 29, 1767

Note: Other sources also list the year as 1766 and 1776.  But according to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, VOL. XVIII, part III (via Bartleby), the credited date above appears to be accurate.

On This Day in History

 c/o Den of D├ęcor
1189 – European Crusaders launched the Siege of Acre against Saladin's Ayyubid dynasty in present day northern Israel, by which the Christians achieved a conclusive triumph amid the Third Crusade nearly two years later.

Ultimately Richard the Lionheart and his army, which included the Knights Templar, made considerable headway throughout the region, and Saladin himself failed to defeat Richard in any military engagement.

1609 – English maritime explorer Henry Hudson, for lack of a better way of describing it, discovered the Delaware Bay.  Initially selected by the Dutch East India Company to find an easterly passage to Asia, Hudson was unable to complete the predetermined route due to excessive ice blockage.

Hudson redirected while he and his crew were near Norway's North Cape and pointed his ship west to find another passage, this time through North America.  Hudson landed in the Bay some three months later.

1845 – The first issue of Scientific American is published.  After 166 years, the magazine can boast of a circulation that approaches three-quarters of a million.

1862 – Outnumbered by 12,000 troops, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia engaged U.S. Army Maj. General John Pope and his Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run/Second Manassas.  The South earned a decisive victory two days later.

1898 – Though Coca-Cola gets all the press for being a uniquely Southern beverage, a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham developed the recipe for what would become known as Pepsi-Cola at a drug store in New Bern, North Carolina.  PepsiCo was incorporated four years later, which, at present, generates net revenues that exceed $40 billion annually.

1957 – Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC) began a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on Civil Rights Act of 1957.  He stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, which remains longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.

1965 – The lovely and vivacious Shania Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

1981 – The Centers for Disease Control revealed a high rate of incidence among gay men for both pneumocystis and Kaposi's sarcoma.  The resulting immune disorder was soon identified as AIDS for the first time.

Most information obtained via Wikipedia; revised (when necessary) and confirmed through various sources.

Friday, August 26, 2011

People I Want to Fight: Chet Haze

c/o Gawker
As I've said before, this is not to be taken too seriously. PIWtF is a mere outlet (i.e., open-handed slap) that's intended to express a certain annoyance, for whatever reason(s). Enjoy.

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Some 20 years ago, New Kids on the Block were enjoying the fruits of being promoted by MTV almost every other hour. Though four of the guys in the group were relatively innocent, Donnie was the undisputed bad boy. He was the one looking tough – Or was it Hangin' Tough? – riding motorcycles, trashing hotel rooms and getting into trouble with the cops.

While it's naive to think celebrities are naturally inclined act like angels on their own accord, Donnie appeared to revel in the attention that came with being the tough White guy for whom many submitted a certain degree of respect that ordinarily lacks among the boy band set. Unknowingly perhaps, Donnie and all his exploits were also a precursor to what lay ahead.

With precious few exceptions, Rap is almost exclusively a Black man's game. Established upon a hypercompetitive culture that holds less than no regard for the weak and timid, the realm of Hip Hop is guarded by its devotees with a fervency that remains unmatched among any other genre'. So, of course, it comes as little surprise when a brash White guy – Eminem notwithstanding – thinks he can crash the party like it ain't no thang.

Enter Chet Haze (pictured), an aspiring rapper from California and current student at the prestigious Northwestern University. He may seem a bit mundane, if not altogether full of himself, at first. Yet a closer look reveals that this is no ordinary White guy. He's also Tom Hanks' son. And he has a bad case of potty mouth.

In an effort to make a name for himself in the Hip Hop arena, Chet ripped off Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" with a version of his own called "White and Purple," a nod to the college for which Chet's world famous father is likely paying top dollar for his wayward son to attend. That alone is enough to have his ghetto pass revoked for life (if he ever had one at all).

Like his brother Mark, the aforementioned Donnie Wahlberg managed to shift his abilities from behind the microphone into a respectable career in front of the camera. The future of entertainment isn't nearly as bright for Chet. Along with fellow White rapper wannabe Pablo Dylan, the grandson of Bob (yes, that Bob Dylan), Chet is almost predestined to go the way of other plain White rappers like Married With Children star David Faustino (aka, D Lil') and Beverly Hills 90210 alum Brian Austin Green.

Privileged White guys don't belong in the Rap game. In fact most of them are mocked and dismissed on the spot, and that's the way it should be.

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"I get my balls served more than Serena playin' tennis."
Chet Haze

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: "The Real Enemy"


 c/o Miami New Times
A recent meeting sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus in Miami that was intended to address a persistent lack of inner city job growth turned partisan when Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida, aka The Mad Hatter) said "Let us all remember who the real enemy is. . . the real enemy is the Tea Party. . . the Tea Party holds the Congress hostage."

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) expressed a similar opinion in her district a couple of days earlier, saying that Tea Partiers could go "straight to hell" for their purported, and still unexplained, role in obstructing employment opportunities for those who aren't of the Caucasian persuasion.

This reflects the very nature of the self-righteous beast: Dare to differ from the Obama administration for any reason, and you're held by their protagonists in the most negative regard possible.  Dogmatic partisanship has always been part of the scene, but the difference is that race (and all its tentacles) is now front and center of almost every discussion.

When there isn't a retort that suits their preferences – and when there is nowhere else to go with their talking points – the Left almost invariably screams bloody racist murder, which is only meant to impede constructive discussion and is never, under any circumstances, intended to promote the ever-elusive common ground by which a beneficial end may be reached.

Perhaps those who don't label the gradual crumbling of our nation as progress aren't "the real enemy."  And yes, thinking that makes me a racist.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday’s Quote: Mamet & Krauthammer

According to Tennessee State Rep. Rick Womick (R-Dist. 34), our current President recently granted asylum to perhaps as many as 80,000 Somali Muslim refugees, about one-tenth of whom will be dumped in Nashville, without so much as a background check of any kind.

Say whatever you want about George W. Bush.  I might even agree with you.  But when Obama vowed to "fundamentally transform" our nation, few realized the extent, or even the full meaning, of what those two magical words entailed – all of which is akin to the pseudo-philosophy known today as modern liberalism.  A couple of former liberals, well distinguished in their own right, add beautifully to the point.

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"I took the liberal view for decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.  . . . The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches.  So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

"Rather brilliant.  For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms."
– from "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'" by Pulitzer-winning playwright David Mamet, published March 11, 2008 in The Village Voice

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"Charging one's opponents with bad faith is the ultimate political ad hominem.  It obviates argument, fact, logic, history.  Conservatives resist Obama's social-democratic, avowedly transformational agenda not just on principle but on empirical grounds, as well – the economic and moral unraveling of Europe’s social-democratic experiment, on display today from Athens to the streets of London.

"Obama's answer?  He doesn't even engage.  That's the point of the ugly accusations of bad faith.  They are the equivalent of branding Republicans enemies of the people.  Gov. Rick Perry has been rightly chided for throwing around the word 'treasonous' in reference to the Fed.  Obama gets a pass for doing the same, only slightly more artfully, regarding Republicans.  After all, he is accusing them of wishing to see America fail for their own political gain.  What is that if not a charge of betraying one’s country?

"The charge is not just ugly.  It's laughable."
– from "Obama reaps what he has sown" by Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, published August 20, 2011 in The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal

Friday, August 19, 2011

List Fest: Top colleges

c/o The Christian Science Monitor
I didn't enjoy my college experience nearly as much as I would have liked.  A combination of too much work, not enough play and an overall dissatisfaction with certain factors beyond my control, commingled with an apparent inability to focus and power my way through, is why a considerable chunk of my fondest college memories occurred while visiting friends who were away at other schools.

If you've read any of my previous posts that center upon college-themed topics (1, 2), then you know that I have occasionally daydreamed about what it would be like to have graduated from, or at least attended, a university for which I bear a lasting sense of affinity.  I have a great deal of respect for those who made the most of their college years, especially at a school that stands out like those listed below, which is why the following is of such personal interest to me.

As a tribute of sorts to our esteemed institutions of higher learning, Forbes has devised a five-point percentage-based method of ranking the cream of the academic crop.  Overall three of the top eight are found in Massachusetts and over half (13) are located in the northeastern region of the country, although not every Ivy League school is ranked among the top 25.  Have a look:

1) Williams College (pictured) – Williamstown, Massachusetts

2) Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey

3) United States Military Academy – West Point, New York

4) Amherst College – Amherst, Massachusetts

5) Stanford University – Palo Alto, California

6) Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts

7) Haverford College – Haverford, Pennsylvania

8) University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

9) Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

10) United States Air Force Academy – Colorado Springs, Colorado

11) Northwestern University – Evanston, Illinois

12) Claremont McKenna College – Claremont, California

13) California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, California

14) Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut

15) Carleton College – Northfield, Minnesota

16) Swarthmore College – Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

17) United States Naval Academy – Annapolis, Maryland

18) University of Notre Dame – South Bend, Indiana

19) Wellesley College – Wellesley, Massachusetts

20) Colby College – Waterville, Maine

21) Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island

22) Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

23) Pomona College – Claremont, California

24) Vassar College – Poughkeepsie, New York

25) Washington & Lee University – Lexington, Virginia 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Iconic Shot: Hank & The General

Original source unknown
I become nostalgic for college football around this time every year. Correction: I remain wistful for college football practically year-round, but I digress.

In this shot, University of Tennessee head coach Robert Neyland (right) and consensus All-American running back Hank Lauricella examine their Longhorn opponents during the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1951. Lauricella finished runner-up in the Heisman voting earlier that season. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

With 173 wins, seven conference titles, four national championships, and a career .829 winning percentage, Coach Neyland (also a U.S. Army Brigadier General) remains the most successful coach in Tennessee football history.

And by the way, the Volunteers defeated Texas on this particular day, 20-14.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guilty Pleasures/Sunday's Quote: A different kind of fantasy

c/o Fantasy Sports Counselor
I have a confession of which I am neither proud nor ashamed: I play fantasy football.

This year marks my twelfth season in a league that's been around with the same core group of guys since 1998.  During our annual draft yesterday, I began to ponder why this otherwise trivial little event has become so important to so many millions (and growing by the year).  Perhaps the quote below offers a reason why:

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"Baseball is what we were.  Football is what we have become."
– Mary McGrory (1918–2004), a liberal journalist and columnist for The Washington Post who probably wasn’t paying homage to the game which, arguably, has replaced baseball as our new American pastime

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Editorial Sketch of the Week: A wedgie well-deserved

Pat Bagley is a former Republican who became a self-described "liberal independent" during George W. Bush's two terms in The White House.  Though his point in the piece below is intended as a criticism aimed at the GOP's unwavering stance against Obama's federal expenditures – and the resulting debt deal that followed two weeks ago – I'm more inclined to look upon Bagley's silly little indictment as a depiction of our President getting exactly what he and his party deserved.  After all, any administration that makes "W." appear fiscally responsible, by comparison, forces the other side to act accordingly.

© Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud (Again): On the international tip

c/o The Guardian
So, the Chinese got their hands on a Russian hand-me-down and converted it into an aircraft carrier.  I also hear they've developed a new missile that's been called a "carrier killer."  (Taiwan recently developed one of its own, which is aimed squarely at China.)

All of that is nice, but know this – the United States has more boats and high-speed explosive projectiles than our potential aggressors on the other side of the Pacific will ever be able to handle.  Indeed America and the Allies took communist Russia down and we'll take them down, too.  So be nice China, or you'll never see another dime of that $1 trillion we owe you.


© Joel Goodman, via Mother Jones
It's good to see the looting that's occurred during the London riots has been perpetrated by individuals of every race and background.  This isn't multiculturalism at its finest by any means, but at least the masses can come together for something.

And yes, I'm kidding.  More or less.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: A true master

c/o Judo Club of Conegliano, Italy; August 7, 2009
My return to the world of martial arts has been further stimulated by the woman pictured in the center above, as Sensei Keiko Fukuda recently became just the 16th person in history to earn Judo's highest possible rank.  At 98-years-young, she is also the first woman.

For more about this exceptional ichidai (diligent practitioner of the art), and if you want to know what it is to be composed of a certain fudoshin (immovable spirit), have a look at this story from '03 that is sure to inspire.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday's Quote: The wisdom of the past (and how it can impact our future)

Picture by Carl Mydans, c/o LIFE
In my lifetime, a scant 35 years, the United States has digressed from being the greatest creditor nation in the world to, as you have no doubt heard, the most prolific debtor nation in history.  So like it or not, perhaps the worst possible news is all but official: communist China is now the top dog (oh God I hope to be wrong about that).  And we only have ourselves, and more specifically, our so-called leaders, to blame.

Standard & Poor's federal credit relegation isn't necessarily a sign of the apocalypse by any means, but it could very well be an indicator of things to come.  A couple of notable Americans, born 131 years ago almost to the day, offer their astute insight into the palpable and growing concern among those of us who, for the first time, cannot speak about the future of our country with complete certainty:

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"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out . . . without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.  Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable."
– H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), journalist, satirist and all-around critic

"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."
– Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), simply one of the most important military figures in our nation's history