Thursday, March 31, 2011

Willfully oblivious

Copyright CBS Sports
Responding to the scathing criticism former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton has garnered leading into the NFL draft on April 28, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon – Newton’s personal mentor – refuted the denunciation of his star pupil by claiming, "A lot of the criticism he's receiving is unfortunate and racially based. I thought we were all past this. I don't see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony. He's being held to different standards from white quarterbacks. I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we're not."

Moon is responding to the analysis Newton received from Pro Football Weekly scout Nolan Nawrocki. The rough stuff is as follows:

"Was arrested in late November and charged with felony charges of burglary, larceny and intimidating a witness, informant or victim after stealing a laptop computer from a student's dorm room and throwing it out the window when police arrived at Newton's for questioning.  Charges were dropped upon his completion of a pretrial diversion program.  Reportedly transferred rather than face possible expulsion stemming from three incidents of academic cheating, including two as a sophomore when he put his name on someone else's paper and purchased a paper online, attempting to pass it off as his own work. … Was declared ineligible for a day leading up to the SEC title game — Newton's father, Cecil, allegedly enlisted an agent 'runner' to initiate a pay-for-play bidding war for Cam's commitment.  It was reported that Cam's desire was to play for Mississippi State, but he allegedly succumbed to his father's decision (Auburn) based on a six-figure payment. … Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup.  Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them.  Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. … Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example.  Immature and has had issues with authority.  Not dependable."

Clearly there is a lot of baggage with this particularly gifted prospect.  Further a great deal of evidence has to be overlooked to make the considerable leap from accountability and sketchy connections to charges of racism, which makes identifying actual racism even more confounding when emotion and double standards are favored over comprehensive truth.

Moon's charge is more than a convenient diversion.  It's also reckelss.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): Online double life

According to the most recent edition of Windows magazine, one-in-five people lie about their marital status on social networking websites.  Additionally, 17% of people fib about their age and 22% are misleading about their current occupation, all of which is in direct correlation to the 94% of online users who would accept a friend request from a profile with an attractive photograph without knowing the person at all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday's Quote: An admonishment from across the pond

A recent feature in the Wall Street Journal by someone whose name I instantly recognized was brought to my attention during a family gathering Saturday afternoon.  Astute and comprehensive in his analysis, Daniel Hannan recently authored a superb piece about the relevance of the differences between the United States and Europe, and why Obama may want us to be just like them.

The highlights of Hannan's magnificent offering are as follows:

"American conservatives have struggled to press [Obama's] policies into a meaningful narrative.  Is he a socialist?  No, at least not in the sense of wanting the state to own key industries.  Is he a straightforward New Deal big spender, in the model of FDR and LBJ?  Not exactly.

"My guess is that, if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do.  He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America.  When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies, and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions. ...

"I don't doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model.  A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication.  But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable. ...

"The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction.  When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless.  For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine — that the nation-state must be transcended — is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

"This doctrine has had several malign consequences.  For example, it has made the assimilation of immigrants far more difficult.  Whereas the U.S. is based around the idea that anyone who buys into American values can become American, the [European Union] clings to the notion that national identities are anachronistic and dangerous.  Unsurprisingly, some newcomers, finding their adopted countries scorned, have turned to other, less apologetic identities. ...

"Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization?  As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms.  The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia.  Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright.  But our freedoms live on in America."
-- from "A European's Warning to America" by Daniel Hannan, a Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England for the Conservative Party, and in Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists.  He is also a journalist whose blog is featured by The Daily Telegraph, which boasts of the highest newspaper circulation in the UK.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: When "juice" gets loose

© NY Daily News
The trial for baseball icon(oclast) Barry Bonds began on Monday.  Charged with obstruction of justice and four counts of perjury regarding his involvement with performance enhancing drugs, it's clear that Bonds is up to his neck in trouble, as federal guidelines mandate a sentence of anywhere from six to 50 years if convicted on all counts.
No matter the final outcome, purists will never view Bonds as baseball's all-time home run leader.  That distinction still belongs to Hank Aaron.  Although he had the advantage of over 2,000 more at-bats than Babe Ruth, the authenticity of Aaron's record achievement has never been mired by an abundance of controversy and damning evidence.  So let the nay-sayers claim what they want, but there will never be an asterisk next to 755 in the record book.

From My Own Camera: Wandering, pt. 3

Continuing a mini-series of posts (1, 2) from the past couple of months, here are two more shots of a cotton field along Mudville Rd. in Rosemark, Tennessee:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guilty Pleasures: Liberal websites

Unlike many of my Left Wing counterparts, I don't believe insults and condescension denote intelligence.  Yet I'm a glutton for punishment, and it never hurts to know what the other side really thinks when the gloves are off.

And remember kids...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Reagan & Generation X

Whatever the reason(s), generational shifts in Congress are usually attributed to the Left.  But not this time:

"These politicians belong to the first modern generation of Americans not expected to earn more money than their parents.  It's a generation purportedly defined by a distrust in institutions and, for many, a deference to markets.

"They've never been drafted to go to war and they've rarely heard a politician make the case that the federal government can provide the cure for the nation's ills.

"Many of the young Republicans formed their lasting political notions during the presidency of a man who was born 100 years before they were sworn in, Ronald Reagan.  The average age of the GOP freshman is 47, meaning many probably cast their first presidential vote when Reagan was re-elected in 1984.  'These are the children of Reagan', said Henry Brady, political scientist at University of California, Berkeley."
-- from "Reagan ideas inspire new lawmakers" by Chicago Tribune columnist Kathleen Hennessey; March 20, 2011

Real Music: Ozzy

It seems a new mantra has penetrated mainstream music: If it sucks, it's cool.  With the push to promote audible garbage fronted by talentless hacks evidently growing stronger by the year, these are dark times for those who enjoy tunes possessed of emotion and substance.

Despite being practically abandoned by the big name record labels with whom Rock bands once enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, many among the Old Guard are still alive and doing quite well.  To demonstrate my point (as perhaps only he can), here is Ozzy Osbourne's newest song, a surprisingly strong effort -- one I didn't think Ozzy could produce without longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde -- which presents a moving challenge to seize the moment.

You probably haven't heard it, so kick back and enjoy Ozzy at his best because "Life Won't Wait" would be all over the place during any other time in the modern era.  And by all means, don't be put off by the still-shot below.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Iconic Shot: The Four Kings of Hollywood

What's so funny?
In a shot that personifies Hollywood's "Golden Era," Slim Aarons, a prominent photographer of the day, caught Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and James Stewart in a jovial moment during a New Year's party in 1957.  The picture was later dubbed "a Mount Rushmore of stardom" by Smithsonian magazine and "the very image of American he-men" by novelist Louis Auchincloss.

Who could possibly disagree?

Did You Know (or Care): MMA done right

Photo by Scott Petersen via
Dana White runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship perfectly, which is why the UFC has remained the gold standard of the mixed martial arts world for over a decade.  Thus, in keeping with some of the intriguing match-ups for tonight's UFC 128, I found this rather interesting...

Last December during the UFC's Ultimate Fighter 12 finale, multi-black belt stylist Nam Phan connected on nearly twice as many strikes (122-to-66) as his fellow featherweight opponent, Leonard Garcia.  But to this dismay of virtually everyone who saw the fight, the judges awarded Garcia the split decision victory.  Unmoved by the result, Dana White gave Phan the $8,000 "win bonus" anyway.

Additionally the match itself was named "Robbery of the Year" by, the industry's most authoritative and well-established website.

Source: Fighters Only, March 2011 (p. 24)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This is why we love dogs

In a way, this canine has become the face of the tragedy in Japan.
Are you in need of a little inspiration, or a good cry perhaps?  Right-click here for a recent piece about uncommon loyalty amid total devastation.

The people have spoken

One day, Slawburn, all those trophies will be forfeited.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Psycho chicks are fun (in their own way)

One of the cheer teams from the University of Memphis (they have several) recently won the national championship in the "Hip Hop" category.  Winning is nothing new for the Tigers, as the Pom Pon squad has nine national titles to its credit.  Yet the reaction one girl in particular had after the U of M was declared the winner is the stuff of legend.

Having gone viral throughout the Internet-connected world about a week ago, the 45-second clip below offers her spasmodic reaction in two parts: first, as it really happened, and second, with some thrash metal playing in the background.  Enjoy:

Just Thinking Out Loud: American muscle is back

The United States doesn't need the Asians and Europeans to show us how to ride.  We invented the concept...

2010 Shelby Ford Mustang GT500 Super Snake, ©

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, ©

2010 Chevy Camaro SS, ©

2011 Dodge Charger SRT, ©

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Matters of faith

One of the key witnesses in the congressional hearings on Islam's "radicalization" was Melvin Bledsoe, a fellow Memphian whose son Carlos (a.k.a., Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad) is currently imprisoned and charged with murdering one of our soldiers; an act committed because, as Mr. Bledsoe told the panel, Islamic radicals programmed and trained his son to kill.

Every imaginable faction, without exception, has a kook fringe.  But some have more than others, and some have a lot more than others.  A multitude of Muslims may indeed feel that their religion has been hijacked by so-called extremists, but it seems the heavy responsibility of weeding out the bad from the good has been yet again dumped on non-Muslims all over the world.

As usual, Americans will lead the way.  But these are hypersensitive times and little is to be conclusively expected from a leadership that appears to resist the otherwise undeniable commonality of a theocratic military structure from which almost 17,000 post-9/11 acts of terrorism have been carried out.  Yet in an effort to take the proverbial next step to find that ever-elusive "common ground," another fellow Memphian offered this:

"What the First Amendment says is that here in America, each of us has a right to maintain our freedom of conscience.  You are free to believe what you want to believe about God, the heavens and mankind, and so are your Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and atheist neighbors.

"You can't use violence to promote your cause.  They can't, either.  You can't try to change the government into an arm of your religion, and neither can they.  That's different from Iran, Saudi Arabia and dozens of other countries where the government is an arm of religion and vice versa."
-- from "Politicizing Islam aids terrorists" by The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck; March 13, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: An unprecedented screw job

Both pictures © New York Post
Though I didn't have a dog in the hunt, I found myself nonetheless glued to the final moments of Wednesday's Big East tournament match-up between Rutgers and St. John's, the final half-minute of which is unequal to anything I've ever seen in sports.

While most media outlets have fixated on the two blown non-calls in the final six seconds of the game, which center primarily on St. John's Justin Brownlee (pictured), the two non-calls that preceded this travesty with about 30 seconds remaining almost certainly cost the Scarlet Knights the game.

The end result mattered little in the end.  St. John's (22-10, ranked #18 nationally by ESPN & USA Today) hung tough but lost earlier today in their quarterfinal game against traditional powerhouse Syracuse (26-6, #11), which is a more favorable result than lowly Rutgers (15-17) could have realistically hoped.

But given the chance -- one they probably deserved -- the Scarlet Knights would have loved the opportunity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): More about Charlie

Charlie Sheen is a train wreck who needs a lot of prayer.  Thus I found this somewhat interesting...

Born Carlos Estévez, actor/stark raving lunatic Charlie Sheen took his stage name from his father, actor Martin Sheen (born Ramón Estévez) who himself adopted the name from Fulton J. Sheen, a Catholic archbishop who is considered the first televangelist.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday's Quote: The law of diminishing returns

Economists will tell you that the value of a commodity tends to decrease once a certain goal or result has been attained.  Obviously this principle applies to the marketplace, but it also appears to fit well within the parameters of grievance and racial politics.

Having recently caught a certain degree of heat for criticizing Michelle Obama because "it doesn't look like [she] follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice," Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy.  But something unexpectedly feels different now.

It seems like only yesterday that even the slightest verbal affront to the First Couple guaranteed the harshest elucidation from the Obama's most committed protagonists.  But that didn't happen this time.  Sure, there was the usual name-calling and charges of racism (a la Donovan McNabb) which barely raise an eyebrow anymore.  Yet the headlines customarily witnessed throughout our multifaceted national media were noticeably absent.  In fact, thanks to this post, there's a chance that you're learning about this contention for the first time.

Whether the potential for milking the story for all it's worth was impacted by the President's ever-fluctuating approval ratings, or if a race-based fatigue is beginning to take hold, it's apparent that a certain recoil has resulted from the persistent favoring of Obama and his wife as "chosen" and untouchable entitles.  Taking the radio maven himself into account, and in the First Lady's defense, the merit of Limbaugh's comment is on par with habitually alluding to political guttersnipe Paul Begala as "The Forehead" (in lieu of his own receding hairline).

For some, the scariest question one could ask is: What if it isn't racism?  The impassioned Obama devotee considers that unthinkable.  But with that in mind, I'll have El Rushbo himself respond with a statement that implies a form of equality:

"If anybody looks at African-Americans in this country as inferior and incompetent, it's the American left and the Democrat Party. ... I have parodied Bill Clinton and I have parodied Mrs. Clinton and I have parodied John Kerry and I have parodied Joe Bite Me and a number of other people.  If they're liberals, they're targets.  It doesn't matter if they're from Mars to me.  It's just I have the courage not to leave the African-Americans out of it."
-- Rush Limbaugh (with emphasis added); March 3, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Two sides of the same coin

One shouldn't fault a guy for exploring every available option to make a boatload of money, but O'Shea Jackson's mammoth leap from "Straight Outta Compton" to what the man better known as Ice Cube ultimately became is, all by itself, a remarkable commentary on reinvention that has circumscribed an almost unprecedented career.  That being said...

Original source unknown

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Real Music: Hum

Last year was the first time that a Rock album failed to break into the Billboard top 10.  The same thing happened to Rap in 2009, but which is more surprising?

Music has changed considerably -- some might say the scene has devolved -- over a short period of time.  Although Rock remains driven by established statesmen such as AC/DC, Metallica, and Ozzy Osbourne, along with assistance by the reformation of Alice in Chians, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots, the newer breed can no longer count on the plenitude of support from MTV and mainstream radio stations the genre' once enjoyed for decades.

In fairness, there is also something to be said for a style of music that once-proudly flew the banner of masculinity and Americana which the brand now generally appears to shun.  Indeed being outshined by their quasi-transvestite forebears of hair metal's heyday doesn't seem to phase them one bit.

Whatever the reason, loyalists remain hopeful that the purveyors of Rock find their voice (and power chords) once again before enthusiasts end up cursed with permanent doses of the currently prevalent pseudo-rock from which the genre' may never fully recover.  So here's a throwback to a band called Hum -- an unassuming yet somewhat heavy group that peaked amid one of music's greatest eras -- who showed us that sometimes less can be more: