Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It’s all about portion control

Just when becoming a vegetarian seemed almost plausible. . .

Original source unknown

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): From thriving to surviving

Various sources arrive at slightly differing conclusions. The figures below are somewhere between approximate and exact. Feel free to compare your numbers to mine.

Since Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009, our national debt has swelled by just over $4.4 trillion – virtually the entire amount it rose during George W. Bush’s eight years in office. That’s an average increase of more than $4.24 billion per day since Obama took the presidential oath, which suffice it to say, is the majority reason for the 239% upsurge of this behemoth liability since the turn of this still young century.

On a more parenthetical note, who is our 44th President to call anyone “soft”? Perhaps no candidate ever benefitted more from such soft handling (by the press and media at large) than Obama during his “historic” run to the White House.

You’re not what most people wanted you to be, Mr. President. And nothing you do over the next year will erase your performance over the previous three.

Monday, November 28, 2011

E/C’s College Football Top 10, Week 13

The regular season is just about over. This much is indisputably clear: Louisiana State is the #1 team in the nation. Alabama is barely half a notch below them. And everything else at this point is practically inconsequential.

Oklahoma had a respectable win against bowl-bound Iowa State, but it wasn’t enough to keep them ranked in this illustrious poll. USC replaces the Sooners by virtue of the (ineligible) Trojans’ 50-point shutout over rival UCLA.

1. Louisiana State (def. Arkansas, 41-17), 12-0, 675 pts.
2. Alabama (def. Auburn, 42-14), 11-1, 610 pts.
3. Virginia Tech (def. Virginia, 38-0), 11-1, 560 pts.
4. Stanford (def. Notre Dame, 28-14), 11-1, 555 pts.
5. Houston (def. Tulsa, 48-16), 12-0, 535 pts.
6. Oregon (def. Oregon State, 49-21), 10-2, 500 pts.
7. Oklahoma State (Bye), 10-1, 445 pts.
8. Boise State (def. Wyoming, 36-14), 10-1, 415 pts.
9. Arkansas (lost to LSU, 41-17), 10-2, 355 pts.
10. Southern California (def. UCLA, 50-0), 10-2, 350 pts.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
The University of Georgia’s Ben Jones (left) and Brandon Boykin celebrate winning the 103rd installment of “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” over traditional rival Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday in Atlanta. While both players will be playing on Sundays next year, the juggernaut that awaits them five days from now – same city, different team – will be a bit more challenging.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Quote: As our heritage erodes. . .

The Founders of our Nation were mostly Christian. Those who have sought to maintain the establishing principles responsible for developing our country were, and remain, mostly Christian as well. A mandate to endorse and defend such philosophical values is more than implied. It is also necessitated amid this era of inclusivity that has provided an asylum for those who conform to an opposing set of standards that are unambiguously dissimilar from that which distinguishes America from all the rest. Yet concessions (in the name of tolerance) are rapidly becoming the norm. Case in point –

In an effort to embrace all "Earth-based" religions, a Stonehenge-like worship center has been built at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that serves as a de facto place of worship for this year's 10 Hindu, 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 43 atheist cadets among the 4,300 enrollees. The reason: "We're here to accommodate all religions, period," says Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy.

Major Duncan’s limp-wristed statement, however altruistic, signals a continued shift away from the convictions of the majority, as neither Freedom of Religion, nor the First Amendment, were ever intended to make more room than necessary for those who play by a different set of rules.

Our first President sets the record straight:


“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large; and, particularly, for their brethren who have served in the Geld; and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific [sic] temper of the mind, which were the characteristicks [sic] of the divine Author of our blessed religion; without a humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”
– from George Washington’s Circular Letter to States; June 8, 1783

Picture credit: "George Washington at Valley Forge" by Joseph Christian Leyendecker; featured on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, February 23, 1935

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: Chicks, man

c/o Zelzee
I’ve yet to spend time in a woman’s shower that didn’t have at least four different kinds of shampoo. I’ve also yet to receive a straight answer about why. So I stopped asking.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Everlastingly indebted

Norse explorer Leif Ericson (a.k.a. Leiv Eiriksson) landed in the Americas at the turn of the 11th century. Christopher Columbus arrived 519 years ago. The Pilgrims dropped anchor in Jamestown 115 years later. Their descendants, and the other Europeans who followed, were the harbingers of what would become the greatest of all nations.

Praising such individuals has, in recent years, become politically incorrect. Yet they are why we are here, and their example is why the United States became a repository for liberties that billions around the world will never have the opportunity to embrace. That much is factually correct. Thus I will always be grateful for those who laid the foundation upon which I now stand.

Picture credit: "Freedom from Want," from the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post; © Norman Rockwell, via his Four Freedoms series

Monday, November 21, 2011

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 12

The top three teams in the land not only reside in the same conference, but they are interdivision rivals as well. Unexpected losses two days ago by Oklahoma State, Oregon and Oklahoma made it possible for Louisiana State, Alabama and Arkansas to now comprise the first three spots in every possible ranking. Such an unparalleled feat could only be accomplished in the Southeastern Conference, from which the last five national champions have hailed. It’s barely surprising anymore.

As for the rest of the contenders, it’s complicated.

The Sooners and Ducks suffered respectable defeats to quality opponents – Baylor and Southern California respectively. The once second-ranked Cowboys, in contrast, were slayed by an underachieving Iowa State team that has earned its giant killer reputation. Thus all three hang on to remain in the Top 10, as their potential replacements have yet to garner enough consideration to be placed among the national elite.

Clemson’s 24-point loss to lowly North Carolina State knocks the Tigers from the Top 10 for a second time. They are replaced by Boise State, who make their second appearance in the upper tier. Perhaps most suspect however is Virginia Tech, who rises to #4 practically by default. A comparatively weak schedule has allowed the Hokies to fly under the radar all season. Yet their less-than-dominant performance against largely substandard competition will most likely keep them from going any higher.

1. Louisiana State (def. Ole Miss, 52-3), 11-0, 665 pts.
2. Alabama (def. Georgia Southern, 45-21), 10-1, 600 pts.
3. Arkansas (def. Mississippi State, 44-17), 10-1, 580 pts.
4. Virginia Tech (def. North Carolina, 24-21), 10-1, 545 pts.
5. Stanford (def. Cal-Berkeley, 31-28), 10-1, 535 pts.
6. Houston (def. Southern Methodist, 37-7), 11-0, 500 pts.
7. Oregon (lost to Southern California, 38-35), 9-2, 465 pts.
8. Oklahoma State (lost to Iowa State, 37-31 in 2 OT), 10-1, 405 pts.
9. Boise State (def. San Diego State, 52-35), 9-1, 370 pts.
10. Oklahoma (lost to Baylor, 45-38), 8-2, 335 pts.

Louisiana State head coach Les Miles sings the school fight song with his players after defeating Ole Miss in Oxford, 52-3. The Tigers simply look unbeatable. Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Frank tells it like it is

c/o The Reformed Broker
Most people understand why the Occupy protests started, but I'm guessing relatively few empathize with what these hordes deviated into almost overnight. Say what you want about the Tea Party, but not a soul was ever assaulted, raped, or arrested at any of their events. Violence never ensued, nothing was destroyed, drug paraphernalia was never discovered, and the riot police were not called because their presence was unnecessary. Such threats were never even plausible, and therein lies perhaps the biggest difference between us and them.

A couple of weeks ago, famed comic book artist, writer, and film director Frank Miller wrote a crushing 284-word denunciation of the "Occupy" movement. His words were so profound, so spot-on, I'm not altogether certain that my own blog is even worthy to feature Miller's words.

So intead, for the first time and out of total respect, I will simply provide a link to his site and you can take a look for yourself here. Enjoy.

271 days from now. . .

Having grossed more than a quarter-billion dollars upon release last year, the sequel to The Expendables will debut at the end of next summer. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are set to reprise their roles from the first movie, while Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme have been added to the mix for the second film.

To borrow from another movie – there will be blood.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Editorial Sketch of the Week: Dems, then and now

© Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star
2 Corinthians 3:17 ("Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty") has been part of the daily newspaper’s masthead for 108 years.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The contrast is noteworthy

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Charles, Prince of Wales pose with the natives after they are given a traditional Maasi greeting during a November 9 visit to the Arusha region of Tanzania in southeast Africa. The Prince and Duchess were at the end of their four-day tour after an earlier stay in South Africa to promote social and environmental issues.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some cartoons that recently caught my attention (for all the right reasons)

"Beastie," then and now

The picture above is a somewhat grainy still shot taken by yours truly, without permission, at exactly the 23-minute mark of a short film released by The Beastie Boys earlier this year called "Fight For Your Right (Revisted)," the premise of which is based upon the legendary hip-hop trio causing a ruckus through the streets of New York City during the early days of their initial mainstream success, circa 1986.

Toward the end of their path of destruction, they end up meeting themselves 25 years into the future – whereupon their past selves (played by Elijah Wood, Seth Rogen and Danny McBride) and their present/future selves (played by Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly) proceed to urinate on each other, quite relentlessly, for what seems like hours.

The satirical take on their existence as a group may, or may not, be worth a look if you get a chance.

Monday, November 14, 2011

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 11

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


The Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins is right: 2011 has been the most scandal-plagued year in college football history. What began with the conference realignment shuffle/multi-billion-dollar money grab has culminated with a mélange of far-reaching controversies at benchmark institutions such as North Carolina, Ohio State, Miami (FL) and now Penn State from which there appears no end in sight. Yet the irony is found in how the sport only continues to flourish.

College football and the NFL are a conjoined juggernaut that remains unscathed by even the most salacious state of affairs. In fact the world class athletic paradigms central to the sport itself are tolerated because perhaps nothing is more genuinely American than dressing up like a modern day Roman legion and acting the part of the ultimate alpha male, thus allowing the average person to share vicariously in the illusion of being large, strong, tough, famous, wealthy and practically untouchable.

Such age-old fascinations played a considerable role in establishing our country as the nation by which all others are judged. It is a permanent part of our cultural landscape. Consequently the ethos from which scandals of every imaginable sort has become the acceptable norm will likely never change, either.


Stanford's loss to the burgeoning Oregon Ducks costs the Cardinal their #2 ranking, but hang on to remain in the Top 10. The same cannot be said for Boise State, whose surprising loss to resurgent Texas Christian has the Broncos on the outside looking in for the first time this season.

In addition Virginia Tech's victory over nationally ranked Georgia Tech all but clinches a rematch with Clemson – who handed the Hokies their only defeat – for the ACC championship on December 3.

1. Louisiana State (def. Western Kentucky, 42-9), 10-0, 640 pts.
2. Oklahoma State (def. Texas Tech, 66-6), 10-0, 610 pts.
3. Alabama (def. Mississippi State, 24-7), 9-1, 585 pts.
4. Oregon (def. Stanford, 53-30), 9-1, 575 pts.
5. Oklahoma (Bye), 8-1, 545 pts.
6. Arkansas (def. Tennessee, 49-7), 9-1, 520 pts.
7. Virginia Tech (def. Georgia Tech, 37-26), 9-1, 455 pts.
8. Stanford (lost to Oregon, 53-30), 9-1, 405 pts.
9. Clemson (def. Wake Forest, 31-28), 9-1, 350 pts.
10. Houston (def. Tulane, 73-17), 10-0, 315 pts.

Players and coaches from Penn State and Nebraska met at midfield to pray before the start of the game in State College, PA. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Penn State cheerleaders embrace on the last play of the game against Nebraska. JoePa’s boys lost, 17-14. Things in Happy Valley may not ever be the same. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Abuse

Exploitation comes in many forms. While the repeated acts of pedophilia (reportedly) committed by a former longtime assistant to a college football coaching legend has reminded us yet again about the various and unconscionable methods of predatory behavior, it is perhaps easier to overlook the more subtle means of ill-treatment that we often commit amongst ourselves, which is furthermore confounding when those who might be in a position to help simply refuse to see the antagonist for what he or she really is.

A comedic legend who recently bore his soul in a way that virtually no-one ever suspected added his perspective to this snowballing phenomenon of pervasive maltreatment that, in one way or another, affects us all:


"I mean, can you imagine the desperation of a child who chooses to believe that he did this to himself, just so he doesn't have to consider the idea that his mother did it, or his parents did it? Because you know, Terry, I'll tell you something. I hope this - I don't know anything about you, but I think it's completely barbaric to shake hands with and seek help from the person who caused your injury. That will make you sick."
– Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond, during the November 7, 2011 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air. His new book, "God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, 'Saturday Night Live' and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem," details the methodical brutality he suffered from his mother, who beat, stabbed, and tortured him for years. Consequently the 57-year-old Hammond has been in psychiatric treatment continually since age 19.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Iconic Shot: The King & Ali

I don't believe in self-given monikers. Whereas fans were responsible for christening Elvis as "The King," it was the man formerly known as Cassius Clay who was only too happy to inform the world that he was "The Greatest" of his chosen profession. However debatable Ali's status in boxing lore – welterweight and middleweight powerhouse "Sugar" Ray Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KO) is the pound-for-pound greatest – the historical merit of the picture below presents a rare meeting of pop culture royalty that far exceeds the dislikable figureheads enthroned today.

In addition, Elvis was a legit karate black belt. First exposed to the art while stationed in Europe during his time in the Army, Presley earned his first degree {Shodan} rank in March 1960 from a Chitō-ryu instructor (and a very interesting fellow) named Henry Slomanski. In an actual head-to-head versus Muhammad Ali, "The King" would have held his own quite well.

Original source unknown, c/o Julien's Auctions

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cinema trailer narrative

In a stroke of pure genius, Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher (BriTANicK) have cracked the code that's employed in every preview you've ever seen on television or at the movies. Have a look at their humorous take:

Monday, November 7, 2011

TEC's College Football Top 10, Week 10

In a game that featured at least 15 first and second round NFL prospects on defense alone, Louisiana State proved its mettle beyond any question by edging the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. The battle wasn’t quite what most expected, as the impact of four missed field goals and a 73-yard punt essentially decided the game. Yet the talent and tenacity exhibited by each squad on that pleasant autumn evening in the Heart of Dixie will be remembered (and discussed) for decades to come. And don't be surprised if these two end up matched in the BCS title game in January. It's a stretch, but far from impossible.

Nebraska drops from the Top 10 in lieu of their unexpected loss at home to sub-.500 Northwestern. Undefeated Houston, one of two Conference USA teams ranked in the national top 25 (two more than the Big East), moves into the Top 10 as a result.

1. Louisiana State (def. Alabama, 9-6 in OT), 9-0, 650 pts.
2. Stanford (def. Oregon State, 38-13), 9-0, 600 pts.
3. Oklahoma State (def. Kansas State, 52-45), 9-0, 590 pts.
4. Boise State (def. UNLV, 48-21), 8-0, 575 pts.
5. Alabama (lost to LSU, 9-6 in OT), 8-1, 545 pts.
6. Oregon (def. Washington, 34-17), 8-1, 510 pts.
7. Oklahoma (def. Texas A&M, 41-25), 8-1, 465 pts,
8. Arkansas (def. South Carolina, 44-28), 8-1, 405 pts.
9. Virginia Tech (Bye), 8-1, 350 pts.
10. Houston (def. UAB, 56-13), 9-0, 310 pts.

Drew Alleman (#30) of LSU celebrates with his teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime to defeat Alabama, 9-6. All future opponents beware: the Tigers look unbeatable. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Chesterton on government

c/o Catholic Authors
There's a lot of talk about how our federal system should function. Here's one of the all-time greats to break it down for us:


"AN honest man falls in love with an honest woman; he wishes, therefore, to marry her, to be the father of her children, to secure her and himself. All systems of government should be tested by whether he can do this.

"If any system – feudal, servile, or barbaric – does, in fact, give him so large a cabbage-field that he can do it, there is the essence of liberty and justice. If any system – Republican, mercantile, or Eugenist – does, in fact, give him so small a salary that he can’t do it, there is the essence of eternal tyranny and shame."
– from Chesterton's March 25, 1911 contribution to The Illustrated London News. The ILN, for the record, was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper. Launched in 1842, it folded in 2003 after 161 years in print.

Editorial Sketch of the Week: When millionaires collide

© Drew Litton, Chicago Tribune &

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): Trusting your gut

c/o Exclaim
Even those who have reached the pinnacle of success can make the most inexplicably wrongheaded decisions regardless of how evident the right choice might seem. Such is the case acknowledged recently by one of the foremost luminaries of the Rock/Metal genre.

As the story goes, über movie director Quentin Tarantino approached Metallica co-founder Lars Ulrich some 10 years ago with the intention of featuring a couple of songs from Metallica's eponymous fifth album for a movie he was writing called Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

According to Ulrich, the cinema maven ". . .had written and choreographed the two main fight scenes in the film to the Metallica songs 'Enter Sandman' and 'Sad but True'. Fists would impact faces on accents. Kicks would land on cymbal hits. Bodies would twirl along with the rhythm of the music. Tarantino's next-level movie magic married to Metallica music, all turned up to 11."

The mind of your average red-blooded American male immediately twists with the imagery of what could have been, as the mishmash of an extraordinarily violent movie set to the rhythm and melodies of perhaps the heaviest mainstream band of its era invokes the unavoidable contemplations of that which could have been even greater than it ultimately was.

Ulrich continued: "Page by page, I realized that most of this was written in a language that was outside of my realm of understanding. I had never encountered a narrative like this, set in, to me, a very foreign culture of martial arts and Asian myths. I just couldn’t wrap my thick Danish head around it. . . . Over the next few weeks the whole thing fizzled out as I continued not trusting my instincts. In the end, I never got back to him. Probably the single biggest mistake I've made in the creative department."

One might contend that Metallica's recent off-putting collaboration with former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed has proven an even greater artistic gaffe. But don't feel bad for Lars. His legendary band has done just fine. And so has Tarantino, whose two Kill Bill movies combined for an impressive $332 million domestic box office take.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Go Cards!

Although April 20, 2009 is the official birthday of this blog, sporadic posts from the early days were followed by a period in which my little corner of the Internet-connected world remained dormant for nearly six months. It wasn't until a story about former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant and the circumstances girdling his dispute with the NCAA all but forced me to write a little piece on November 1 of the same year from which approximately 500 more (and counting) have since followed.

Hence with today marking what I consider the second anniversary of my virtual soapbox, which has received hits from all 50 States and 73 countries (since July 2010), I find a bit of contrariety in composing another sports-themed post in observance of my two years working on this largely politics- and socially-themed blog. Thankfully, at least, it centers on a team that’s been near and dear for most of my life:


They were 10.5 games out of the final spot in the playoffs with 32 games remaining in the brutally long season. A collapse by the frontrunner Braves seemed more than unlikely. But Tony La Russa, the Cardinals manager of 16 seasons, wouldn't let his team quit. And so the Redbirds charged.

The generally unenthusiastic appraisal about the Cardinals depth, and their bullpen more specifically, was bandied about through most of the year even after the 'birds improbable run to the playoffs became reality upon earning the last playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. And despite the doubters, they found a way to defeat the heavily favored Phillies and the division champion Brewers. Their reward: a young, feisty and powerful Texas Rangers team making its second straight appearance in the World Series.

The Cardinals were done in Game 6. They weren't just down to their last out. They were down to their last strike. Twice. But the Cards battled back, yet again, in a way that literally no other team ever has. And now, after an extraordinary seven-game series, the St. Louis Cardinals are champions of baseball for the eleventh time.

Although the Rangers are the first team to lose the World Series after initially being one out away from winning it since the '86 Red Sox, they're also the first team to make back-to-back appearances in the Fall Classic since the Yankees played in four straight (winning three) from '98-'01. The smart money says we'll be seeing the boys from Texas again in the very near future.

Such determination has become rare in the sports world, especially on the professional level. The Cardinals weren't just fun to watch. They were also inspiring. La Russa retired practically hours ago and the legendary Albert Pujols could be moving on as well, but the 2011 Cardinals will always be remembered for all the right reasons.