Thursday, December 30, 2010

Real Music: When Black guys shred

Noted as much for Vernon Reid's mammoth solo at the 3:00 mark, Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" is a prime example of the quality mainstream music that burst onto the scene in 1991.  Have a listen:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud: Chuck & Tuck(er)

Happy trails, Iceman.  You'll always be one of the all-time greats of MMA.

Tucker Carlson, in his never-ending quest for legitimacy as a newsman, recently stated that Michael Vick should have been "executed" for his role in a dogfighting ring that got him two years in a federal penitentiary.

I defend Conservatives whenever possible, but Carlson's endeavor to connect Vick to President Obama went overboard.  Additionally, I think it's safe to say that sentencing Vick to death would have been extreme.  And for most, especially Conservatives, that goes without saying.

Did You Know (or Care): Long lost brew dog

A recently discovered crate from Ernest Shackleton's 1907 expedition to the South Pole was opened by archaeologists.  Inside, they found 11 untouched bottles of whiskey.  Samples will be sent to Whyte & Mackay (current IWSC Global Distiller of the Year) in Glasgow, Scotland, where master blenders will try to reconstruct the original recipe for the rare Old Highland malt, which had been lost.

Source: Esquire, December 2010; p. 124.  More can be read here.

Iconic Shot: Big snow

This is what 7th Avenue in New York City looked like two days ago.
(Photo by Gary Hershorn via Reuters)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday's Quote: What part of CHRISTmas do you not understand? (redux)

The ACLU recently sent a letter to 137 schools here in Tennessee to remind (read: warn) academic officials about the importance, as it were, of non-exclusion during the holiday season.  One could, and should, take that as an affront to the observance and celebration of the birth of Christ.  In the name of comprehensive fairness, however, the ACLU's stance regarding Ramadan or any Neopagan holiday remains unknown, as it seems offending non-Christians is never part of their agenda.

In the same vein, Inside Washington and NPR contributor Nina Totenberg seemingly went out of her way for the sake of tolerance last week when she said, "I was at a -- you'll forgive the expression -- a Christmas party at the Department of Justice..."

The necessity to "forgive the expression" appears nonexistant, but the ever-evolving shots against Christendom and its requisite traditions is not new.  Indeed the end of such things is nowhere in sight, and yet that should never denote surrender.  Consequently I wrote a piece one year ago yesterday that addressed matters such as these, and it's your Quote for today:


"I could bloviate about those who seek to eliminate any trace of Christianity -- or at least, the authentic criterion thereof -- from the national landscape, just as I could reference any number of acts committed by the secular Left in the name of 'separation of church and state' as if the phrase was pulled from the Constitution itself.  But I will resist.

"I could foil the pugilist with a comprehensive assessment, almost pretentious in length, regarding 'separation of church...' (among other things) from Supreme Court decisions that were taken from their originally intended context to endorse a 'progressive' disposition that concedes to practically anything but Christendom.  Yet I will abstain.

"Eschatology of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant creeds warn the Believer about agreeable-sounding pontificators who employ abstract reasoning fused with arguments that take aim (in the seemingly nicest possible way) at the very axioms they hold most sacred; a ploy most commonly achieved by admonishing the born-again, yet inattentive adherent to yield to every outlandish form of pluralism for the sake, and in the name of, tolerance.

"Even more, far too many Christians have become more consumed with what's 'cool' instead of keeping their focus upon what is right (something to which I can truly relate), essentially abandoning the substance of their beliefs -- and thus, depreciating the sacrifices made by those who came before us -- because they became fearful of false characterizations by a faction that unabashedly hates the Truth for which we are called to give our lives if necessary.

"I'm beating this war drum because of a slowly growing entente that abates the less passionate into submission with half-truths, platitudes, and double standards while laboring to dilute, or redefine, our long-established values that are almost entirely based upon the Holy Scriptures.  And thus it may not be much longer before opposing the coalition of enlightened, altruistic, open-minded sojourners of egalitarianism will be deemed a 'hate crime.'

"So say Merry Christmas while you still can.  The clock is ticking."
-- Adam M. Woodford; December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Iconic Shot: Truth

(click to enlarge)
"The Heritage" by Jolanta PeleckienÄ—-KlietkutÄ— and featured in the 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest (People Gallery—Week 3)

On This Day in History

1000 – Hungary is established as a Christian kingdom by Stephen I.  Nearly a thousand years after his death, Stephen is still regarded as one of Hungary's most revered saints, and the date of his canonization is celebrated as a state holiday commemorating the foundation of the nation.

1642 – According to the "Old Style" dating system, Isaac Newton, simply one of the most influential people in history, is born in Lincolnshire, England.  (The "New Style" calendar places his birthday on January 4, 1643.)

1776 – George Washington and his army cross the Delaware River to attack Great Britain's Hessian (German) mercenaries.  The Battle of Trenton was won decisively the next day, which boosted the Continental Army's morale and inspired a significant number of re-enlistments.

1818 – Written by Father Joseph Mohr and composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, the first performance of "Silent Night" takes place in the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

1826 – The result of whiskey smuggling for a Christmas party in the North barracks at the United States Military Academy, the Eggnog Riot concludes after beginning the previous night.  The riot involved more than one-third of the cadets by the time it ceased, 19 of whom were eventually court-martialed.

1868 – President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Confederate soldiers.

1899 – Hailed by the American Film Institute as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema, Humphrey Bogart (his real name) was born in New York City.

1990 – Based upon a proposed hypertext system designed to access the many forms of documentation at, and related to, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the first successful trial run of the system that would become the World Wide Web was conducted by computer scientists Robert Cailliau and, the man credited for "inventing" the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee (and not Al Gore).

2009 – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim, unsuccessfully attempted a terrorist attack while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit, as the concealed plastic explosives in his underwear failed to detonate properly.  Abdulmutallab was restrained, arrested, and eventually charged with, among other things, the attempted murder of 289 people.  The would-be "martyr" is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in York Charter Township, Michigan.

Shown above, "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Emanuel Leutze (1851) is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Profound leadership

Who should the GOP send up against President Obama in 2012?  His name is Allen West.  He's a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, and I think he's more impressive than all the other candidates put together:

Did You Know (or Care): Michael Jackson

According to music columnist Paul Grein, Michael Jackson's Thriller debuted, not at #1, but at #11 on the Billboard chart in December 1982 (released on November 30).  "The Girl Is Mine," a duet with Paul McCartney, was the lead single, but sales did not take off until "Billie Jean" was released as the follow-up.  Despite the slow start, Thriller has sold no less than 65 million copies worldwide en route to becoming the biggest selling album of all-time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another good question

I'm not what you would call a "drinker," but Memphis area radio station Rock 103 has asked men a simple, yet thought-provoking question regarding an issue that may, at some point in your life, demand an answer:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday's Quote/Did You Know (or Care): Elvis

There are a variety of notable topics to address, and I'll get to each issue in the near future.  In the meantime, a recent Beatles documentary on the History Channel got me to ponder a relatively famous quote about Elvis Presley from perhaps the most important member of the Fab Four.  Hence the customary Sunday's Quote is preceded by a Did You Know:

Initially broadcast via satellite on January 14, 1973, Elvis Presley's "Aloha from Hawaii" is believed to have reached over a billion viewers worldwide, which included 40% of the Japanese television audience and at least 90% of the available audience in the Philippines.  An estimated 51% of the American television audience watched when it aired in the United States for the first time on April 4, 1973.

Sources: 1, 2

"Elvis was the king.  No doubt about it.  People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps."
-- Rod Stewart, one of the best-selling artists of all-time with over 100 million records sold worldwide
"A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man's music, when in fact almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis."
-- Jackie Wilson (1934-1984), inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987
"Before Elvis, there was nothing."
-- John Lennon (1940-1980), co-founder of some group called The Beatles

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Connecting the world

Facebook recently engineered a visual graph of the online social network's 500 million profiles to ascertain its reach throughout the international community.  A detailed explanation can be found here, but the final picture they ultimately came up with (click to enlarge) pretty much says it all:

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Iconic Shot(s): "God and country"

(click to enlarge)
The Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York has been a place of Protestant worship for members of the Corps of Cadets for 100 years.
Photo by Ahodges7 and released to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

(click to enlarge)
Completed 102 years ago, the United States Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, is one of two houses of worship on the grounds of the Navy's service academy.  Both Protestant and Catholic services are held there.  In 1913, the remains of the Scottish-both and American Revolution hero Captain John Paul Jones were interred in the crypt beneath the Chapel inside a sarcophagus made of 19 tons of Grand Pyrenees marble.
© Dan Smith

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "Silent Night" basketball game

Situated in small town Upland, Indiana, about 75 miles south of Indianapolis, Taylor University is a Christian college with a unique tradition.  Have a look:

On This Day in History: War, and a bit of education

1636 – Headquartered near Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments to defend against the Pequot Indians.  This organization is recognized today as the founding of the U.S. National Guard.

1769 – Dartmouth College is founded by Protestant minister Eleazar Wheelock on land donated by the British colonial governor of New Hampshire, Sir John Wentworth.

1862 – Outnumbered by 41,500 men, Confederate General Robert Edward Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia put the finishing touches on their convincing victory over Maj. General Ambrose Burnside and his 114,000 Federal soldiers at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia.  Notable Southern legends commanding alongside General Lee were Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Lt. General James Longstreet, Maj. General James E.B. Stuart, Maj. General John Bell Hood, Maj. General Ambrose Powell Hill, and Brig. General Jubal Anderson Early.

2001 – The Parliament of India in New Delhi is attacked by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists groups, just three months after 9/11.  In all 12 people died.  The attack itself led to a standoff between India and Pakistan that was not diffused until both the United States and Russia intervened.

2003 – Commanded by U.S. Army Colonel James Hickey, the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division capture former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.  He is found near his hometown of Tikrit, literally hiding in a hole.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Churchill

A recent interview with John Fisher Burns, London bureau chief for The New York Times and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, got me to thinking about the British as military protagonists.  Paraphrasing Burns, much of the world has considered the United States, however begrudgingly, as "keepers of the peace" for generations.  And while this is true, at least some of that inspiration can be attributed to one of Britain's all-time greats:

"Churchill considered Nazism vile and barbaric, a rejection of civilization in every way, despite his respect for the German race.  He was particularly offended by its anti-Semitism, which made Nazism, in some ways, worse than communism. ...  

"Even after Hitler violated the Munich peace agreement of 1938 and conquered all of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax adamantly opposed a pact with Soviet Russia.  They fundamentally misunderstood Hitler, had too much sympathy for Germany and too much contempt for Soviet Russia, and feared war too much to adjust policy.  They were not as intellectually imaginative, strategically discerning, or obsessively determined to face threats as Churchill.  But Churchill’s standing in the Conservative Party and the nation at large was very low in the mid- to late 1930s, and his warnings went unheeded.

"Churchill was clearly the indispensable man of the moment in 1940, whom destiny summoned to change the course of history.  His overwhelming love of country and civilization, grave sense of obligation to protect and improve on all the good the ages had produced, romantic view of the world, and keen understanding of how history had reached a vital point, made him realize why he and Britain had to battle relentlessly, regardless of the odds.  His firm conviction that individuals can overcome great adversity, his belief that great leaders can redirect global forces, and his uplifting oratorical abilities, allowed Churchill to shape the thoughts and feelings of his countrymen and save his country and civilization."
-- from "Being Winston Churchill" by Michael Makovsky; December 8, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 Heisman (according to TEC)

Although law abiding citizens believe in due process, there is simply no way that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton didn't know about his father's indiscretions, particularly if he and his dad are even half as close as they claim.

Quoting myself from just five days ago: If my services were being offered in exchange for a six-figure sum, I would know about it.  To say or think otherwise, especially in regard to college football, is fabulously delusional.  As a result, Newton is ineligible and his impressive stats (3,998 total yards, 48 touchdowns) go for naught.

The best player in college football is not defined by statistics alone.  He is also measured by his impact upon the team for which he plays.  After much consideration, the second annual TEC "vote" for the Heisman Memorial Trophy is as follows:

1. LaMichael James {Running Back, Sophomore, Oregon} -- 1,682 rushing yards (led FBS), 21 touchdowns (led FBS), 152.9 yards per game (led FBS)

2. Landry Jones {Quarterback, Sophomore, Oklahoma} -- 4,289 passing yards (second in FBS), 35 touchdowns (third in FBS), 329.9 yards per game (third in FBS)

3. Kellen Moore {Quarterback, Junior, Boise State} -- 3,506 passing yards, 33 touchdowns (fourth in FBS), 71.0% completion (third in FBS), 185.0 QB Rating (second in FBS to ineligible Cam Newton), 10.2 yards per attempt (second in FBS to ineligible Cam Newton), 6.6-to-1 TD/INT ratio (led FBS)

4. Denard Robinson {Quarterback, Sophomore, Michigan} -- 2,316 passing yards, 16 touchdowns; 1,643 rushing yards (third in FBS), 14 touchdowns; 3,959 total yards, 30 touchdowns

5. Justin Blackmon {Wide Receiver, Sophomore, Oklahoma State} -- 1,665 receiving yards (second in FBS), 18 touchdowns (first in FBS), 151.4 yards per game (first in FBS)
Honorable Mention
(listed alphabetically)
Some players don't get the recognition they deserve.  In fact four guys from Hawaii -- Bryant Moniz, Greg Salas, Kealoha Pilares and Mana Silva -- immediately come to mind.  If all things were equal the following (aside from Luck, who was left out of TEC's top five for the same reasons as Tim Tebow last year) would receive consideration as well:

* Da'Quan Bowers {Defensive End, Junior, Clemson} -- 15.5 Sacks (led FBS)

* Jayron Hosley {Cornerback, Sophomore, Virginia Tech} -- 8 Interceptions (tied-first in FBS)

* Luke Kuechly {Linebacker, Sophomore, Boston College} -- 171 tackles (led FBS), 14.3 tackles per game (led FBS)

* Andrew Luck {Quarterback, Junior, Stanford} -- 3,051 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 70.2% completion (fifth in FBS)

* Brandon Weeden {Quarterback, Junior, Oklahoma State} -- 4,037 passing yards (third in FBS), 32 touchdowns (fifth in FBS), 336.4 yards per game (second in FBS)

May as well put Newton's face on this one, too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud: Regarding one college mascot in particular...

Years before Ole Miss finally "settled" on the average Bear -- more specifically, the smallest and most common omnivore on our continent -- the original options to replace Colonel Reb also raised a considerable ire among the Rebel faithful.  Upon further review, however, perhaps an updated version of the Colonel on steroids (left) wasn't so bad after all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

He's an emotional one

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY, 9th district) is always good for a sound bite, but he went out of his way on this one:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A good question

For years, the Who Are These Guys? blog has been dedicated to uncovering the identity of these five ultra-cool individuals.  Although unsuccessful thus far, I remain hopeful that at least one of the above-pictured will come forth at some point in the future so I can finally move on with my life.  Any legitimate inquiries or positive identification(s) should be sent to the WATG? blog immediately.

Monday, December 6, 2010

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 14

If my services were being offered in exchange for a six-figure sum, I would know about it.  To say or think otherwise, especially in regard to college football, is fabulously delusional.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton regained eligibility just 24 hours after being declared ineligible for one reason only: Texas Christian, ranked #3 in both the Associated Press and BCS polls, does not engender the mass appeal for a multi-million-dollar national title game that Auburn does.  So the NCAA buckled by handing down a decrepit, if not shameful ruling that is destined to be overturned eventually, even if it takes years -- just as it did for Reggie Bush.

Thus, because TEC refuses to overlook the evidence directly in front of my face, both Cam Newton and Auburn University are hereby ineligible for any further consideration in this illustrious poll.  As a result, Auburn drops out, every team below them moves up, and Virginia Tech re-enters the Top 10.  Additionally, the Oregon Ducks are hereby declared the inaugural TEC regular season national champions.  The final Top 10 will be out once the bowl games are complete.

Enjoy the trophies while you can, War Eagles.  The accolades won't remain yours for very long.
Rankings as of December 6, 2010
#1  Oregon (12-0), 680 pts.
#2  Texas Christian (12-0), 635 pts.
#3  Wisconsin (11-1), 615 pts.
#4  Stanford (11-1), 580 pts.
#5  Ohio State (11-1), 545 pts.
#6  Michigan State (11-1), 510 pts.
#7  Boise State (11-1), 450 pts.
#8  Oklahoma (11-2), 375 pts.
#9  Arkansas (10-2), 310 pts.
#10  Virginia Tech (11-2), 300 pts.

Did You Know (or Care): The Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State" for the disproportionately large number of Tennesseans who volunteered for duty in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, not to mention the considerable number of citizens who fought on either side of the Civil War.  The University itself was dubbed "Volunteers" for the first time in 1902 by the Atlanta Constitution following a football game against Georgia Tech, although the defunct Knoxville Journal and Tribune did not use the moniker until 1905.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday's Quote: WikiDespotism

It might be a stretch to draw a comparison between President Obama and Julian Assange.  But a noted columnist recently went the extra mile to make a valid point:

"The irony is that Assange represents a purer form of Obama’s own idealism.  According to Assange’s dangerous utopianism, in governance purity must determine means, not just ends.  He is convinced that he has revealed the hypocrisy and corruption of U.S. foreign policy, when in reality all he has revealed is that pursuing foreign-policy ideals is messier and more complicated in a world where bad people pursue bad ends.  We can hope that Obama has been learning that lesson.  Assange, meanwhile, is simply blind to it."
-- from "A WikiLeaks Wake-up Call" by syndicated columnist and editor-at-large of National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg; December 1, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On This Day in History: Happy Thanksgiving (again)

749 – Born and raised in the present-day capital of Syria, Saint John of Damascus died.  Having initially served as chief administrator to the Islamic head of state (caliph), John was ordained a priest in 735.  Regarded by Catholics as a Doctor of the Church, St. John was a defender of the Faith whose writings and hymns remain current over 1,200 years after his death.
1563 – The Council of Trent holds its final session.  Having convened nearly 18 years to the day earlier, largely in response to Martin Luther's 95 Theses, the council condemned what it defined as Protestant heresies and refined Church teachings in various areas, most of which remain topics of debate among the divisions of Christianity.
1619 – Although earlier gatherings are said to have taken place in Florida and even Texas, the first Thanksgiving is generally believed to have occurred when Captain John Woodlief led newly-arrived English colonists to a grassy slope along the James River in Virginia and instructed them to drop to their knees and pray in thanks for a safe arrival to the New World.
1674 – Father Jacques Marquette establishes a mission on the shores of Lake Michigan to minister to the Illiniwek tribe.  The mission would later grow to become Chicago, Illinois.
1791 – The first edition of The Observer, the world's first Sunday newspaper, is published.  Over 200 years later, the center-left periodical still enjoys a circulation of more than 450,000.
1881 – The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.  With a circulation that can top one million on Sunday, the Times is the second-largest metropolitan newspaper and the fourth-most widely distributed newspaper in the country.
1980 – Led Zeppelin officially disbands following the death of their irreplaceable drummer John Bonham.
1984 – Hezbollah militants hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane, killing four passengers.  (All in a days work for the terrorists...)
1991 – Terry Anderson, a journalist who spent seven years in captivity as a hostage in Beirut, is released.  He was the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

From My Own Camera: When a little says a lot

(click to enlarge)
On the edge of Shelby County, near U.S. 64 and just off Collierville-Arlington Rd., is an unincorporated area located east of Memphis, tucked away nicely from the vestiges of civilization, that's pleasant to drive through whenever I can.  And this little establishment catches my attention every time.

In reference to Monday's post...

The four-letter network recently helped to make my point for me:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: TMZ & White people

Maybe it's the wacky announcer or the office dynamic among your colleagues, or perhaps you're just a likable guy.  But either way, your hour-long weekend show grabs my attention in a manner that causes me to halfway care about things (celebrities) over which I wouldn't otherwise give a crap.  And that, my friend, is a gift.

"When a white person offers you wine, you take a small sip and say 'Ooh, that's nice.  What country is it from?'  Then they will say the name of the country and you say, 'I love wines from that country, I would love to get a villa in the wine region there.'  White people will nod in agreement as they all want to have a second home in a wine region like Napa, Tuscany or Santa Barbara."

Profound, funny, and very true.