Monday, December 31, 2012

Too Many Bowls!

Let's face it: bowl games have become devalued as a result of their growth in number.  At one time it was a real accomplishment to be invited to a bowl game, now it's almost expected after a slightly more than average season.  And it's hard to warm up to the Go Daddy.Com bowl or the New Mexico Bowl or the Capital One Bowl.  I'm surprised that there is not a Toilet Bowl!  Maybe that's  one for Washington, DC, given our Congressional losers' lack of action on the fiscal cliff.  Or are we in the  porcelain bowl?

Even the old four, the Sugar, Cotton, Orange, and Rose Bowls have become diminished by having to schedule what's available.

Still, the Florida - Louisville game in the Sugar Bowl should be interesting, and the Texas A&M - Oklahoma game in the Cotton Bowl seems to be the best of the New Year's Day bowl games.  I see Florida and A & M winning those.  After all, A & M surprised Alabama last year.

Well, there's the BCS Championship.  I hope Alabama will prevail over Notre Dame, and exorcise the ghosts of 1966 and 1973.

Prediction:  Alabama 22, Notre Dame 14

Friday, December 21, 2012

Jackie Sherrill on Motivating a Team

Back in 1992, unranked Mississippi State was scheduled to play the tenth-ranked Texas Longhorns.

Coach Jackie Sherrill of Mississippi State had his Bulldogs view the castration of Wild Willie, a bull, on the practice field.  He based this on his team not knowing the difference between a bull and a steer.  Like, sure.

The shit then hit the fan. 

Even though no one had to dine on prairie oysters.

Sherrill added that the demonstration performed on "Wild Willie" was done to educate and motivate the team. The motivational part worked, at least -- Missisippi State, a two-point underdog, won 28-10. After being widely criticized, Sherrill offered a quarter-hearted apology.
"Even though I was not involved in the procedure that took place, I take responsibility," Coach Sherrill said.  "If this incident was in any way not perceived as proper by those who love Mississippi State, then I apologize."

I would assume that bull castrations were common occurrences at vet schools in ag colleges.  Would Wild Willie's history be different? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Handguns and Episodes Like in Newtown, CT

Today's tragedy in Newtown, CT underscores a continuing problem that the United States has with handguns:  there are too damned many of them, and they're sometimes in the hands of the wrong people.

Frankly, an outright ban on handguns or widespread licensing would have only limited success; much like laws prohibiting ownership by convicted felons.  After all, these jokers are not with a good track record on being law-abiding in other ways.

But there are some things that can be done, and things that shouldn't. 

1.  Mandatory severe sentences for people who bring handguns into public buildings, like courthouses or schools, for instance.

2.  Some better screening of entranceways to those places.

3. Really stiff penalties for armed robbery, and other crimes in which a gun is involved.

4.  Register as many of the damned things as possible, and have a no-b.s. waiting period before any purchase.  This would reduce impulsive shootings on the part of people who are not weapon-holders.

5.  Broaden restrictions on assault rifles.  And, who knows, maybe crew-served weapons as well.  You can never tell how far gun escalation may go.

6.  Re-think the idea that letting teachers and administrators come to school armed would serve as a deterrent to such sorry episodes as in Newtown, CT, or the one in Huntsville a few years ago.  That's too much of a N.R.A. fantasy, folks.

Anyway, two thoughts along these lines.

a.  Handguns are limited in accuracy, and only at short range.  Additional shooters, even trying to shoot the shooter, might simply put some additional casualties due to "friendly fire."  And most owners of handguns have unduly rosy perceptions of their own skills or the accuracies of their guns. 

b.  And, when the police come, they have the additional problem of distinguishing the killer from the defenders.  Imposing on them this additional choice decision puts them at unnecessary risk.  If I was a police officer, the most self-protective thing I could do is shoot anyone with a gun and inquire afterwards!

I taught on the university level for over 40 years in two different institutions, and in that span of time never had an occasion to use a gun.  And I'm sure that most teachers on any level have had similar histories.  I know how to use a handgun.  Would my bringing a gun to work (e.g., U.N.A. or other workplace) have been a good idea?  No, podner.  It would have been pluperfectly stupid.  How ready would I be?  Or anyone else who knows guns.  And what condition  would my weapon be in?  Most daily life is ordinary.  And ordinary life leaves you unprepared for this occurrence that may involve one chance in a million.

There's an illusion that we have about the present times: that things are more unsafe than they had been.  In fact, Stephen Pinker in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature presents convincing data that says otherwise.

A child nowadays has a better chance of living a long life unscathed than ever before in history, but there is absolutely no certainty.  Life offers no guarantees.

Every day is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

P. J. O'Rourke on Majority Rule and Free Will

"Majority rule is a precious, sacred thing worth dying for.  But -- like other precious, sacred things, such as the home and the family -- it's not only worth dying for; it can make you wish you were dead  if all of life were determined by majority rule.  Every meal would be a pizza.  Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stonewashed denim.  Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library."

"One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on.  And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tackiness in Football Wins

Running up a score on a completely outclassed opponent seems to be an unnecessary manifestation of tackiness.  I am less proud of Alabama's performance than before Saturday's game.  49-0 is sick!

I'm ready for basketball now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Cure for the Rare Condition

A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section of an airplane. The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose, then visibly shuddered for ten to fifteen seconds.

The man went back to his reading. A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, wiped her nose, then shuddered violently once more. Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering.

A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again. As before she took a tissue, wiped her nose, her body shaking even more than before.

Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you've sneezed three times, wiped your nose and then shuddered violently. Are you ok?"

"I am sorry if I disturbed you, I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm."

The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious. " I have never heard of that condition before" he said. "Are you taking anything for it?" The woman nodded, "Pepper!"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Football Predictions Week Thirteen

Nov, 23

LSU 32  Arkansas 14 -- Just not Arkansas's year, LSU is too strong.

Nov. 24

Alabama 40  Auburn 14 -- Bama has a chance at the National Championship if everything goes right, and they won't screw it up by losing this one.

Kentucky 21 Tennessee 16 -- UK wins this duel for the cellar.

Mississippi State 35  Ole Miss 28 -- Too much cowbell for Ole Miss.

Missouri at Texas A&M 45  Missouri 10 -- The Aggies have emerged strong.

Florida  32 Florida State 20 -- Game of the Week

Georgia 36  Georgia Tech 16 -- Georgia is best in the SEC East; and better than the ACC.

South Carolina 22  Clemson 7 -- SC had a disappointing year.

Vanderbilt 33  Wake Forest 20 -- It's nice to predict a Vandy win.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Football Predictions Week Twelve

Mississippi State 24  Arkansas 17

Auburn 40  Alabama A&M 20  If Auburn doesn't win this one, they are totally shamed and can forget about any chance against Bama in two weeks.

LSU 35  Ole Miss 17 -- the Game of the Week   Old rivals that don't like each other very much.  Look for a hard game but LSU is too much for the Rebs.

Tennessee 28  Vanderbilt 21

Alabama 50 Western Carolina 7  Alabama lost last week, but they weren't beaten.  Expect a big comeback this week.

Missouri 27  Syracuse 17

Florida 38  Jacksonville State 17 Florida had a close call last weekend.  That won't happen again.

Georgia 42  Georgia Southern 7  Look for Georgia t prevail easily.

Kentucky 17  Samford 10

South Carolina 35  Wofford 14  Why was this game scheduled?

Texas A & M 35  Sam Houston State 10  The Aggies are too strong here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Waiting for the Axe to Fall in Auburn and Knoxville

By no stretch of the imagination can we call this a banner year for Auburn or UT.

Right now, the more berserk of fans are asking for the axes to fall on their teams' coaches.  Here's an article discussing the likelihood of Gene Chizik's and Derek Dooley's demises:

Apparently, both institutions would have to honor contracts that would give Chizik and Dooley mucho dinero to leave. Like millions!  By contract, a faculty or staff member would simply be told "bye-bye" and collect the pension.

But Chizik did coach a BCS team at Auburn just two years ago!!!!!

But I have a modest, cost-saving proposal for Auburn and Tennessee: simply exchange coaches.

Auburn and Knoxville are both attractive, agreeable places to live, with better entertainment, restaurants, and stores than is the case with Tuscaloosa or Florence.

And this would give both Auburn and UT time enough to line up a real replacement.  Just don't negotiate any sweetheart contracts in the meantime.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elmore Leonard Quotes

If you play a country song backwards, you get your girl and truck back, you're no longer drunk, and your hound dog comes back to life.

“I always felt, you don’t have a good time doin crime, you may as well find a job.”
Elmore Leonard, Raylan

“There are cities that get by on their good looks. Detroit has to work for a living.”

Ten Rules of  Writing
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Football Predictions Week Eleven

Alabama 30  Texas A&M 14 --SEC Game of the Week
South Carolina 29  Arkansas 7
Georgia 31  Auburn 16 -- An easy one for Georgia.
LSU 37  Mississippi State 7 -- Hard for the Bulldogs following LSU's heartbreaking loss.
Vanderbilt 32  Ole Miss 24 -- Vandy is no longer the SEC doormat.
Missouri 35  Tennessee 31

Florida 45  Louisiana-Lafayette 10

UNA 38  West Alabama 14 -- This pick is as much an act of faith as anything else.  UNA's disappointing season ends in Livingston this Saturday.  That's a sorry place to wind up in.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Omission or Historical Revisionism in "Argo"?

My wife, daughter and I enjoyed the movie "Argo" last weekend.  I personally recommend it: it maintained suspense up to the last, despite the fact that the events it was based on were well-known to us who were adults in the 1980's.  Ben Affleck did a fine job of acting and directing; Alan Arkin and John Goodman stole the show!

Now I am aware that the movie may have had some inclusions for dramatic effect (like the cars chasing the plane down the runway), but it ended with a historical note on what had happened to the 44 hostages held by the Iranis.

It reported the factual datum that they were released on January 20, 1980.  However, it failed to include the juxtaposition of the major event that took place on that day:

Ronald W. Reagan was inaugarated President of the United States.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Football Predictions Week Ten

Alabama 28  LSU  18 -- SEC Game of the Week

New Mexico State 28  Auburn 10

Florida 27  Missouri 14

Georgia 28  Ole Miss 14

Vanderbilt 32  Kentucky 7

Mississippi State 35  Texas A & M 17

Tennessee 32  Troy 26

Arkansas 33  Tulsa 7

UNA 33 Tarleton State 27

Last week:  6 right, 1 wrong

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Void Where Prohibited

Just to clarify, this is not to be taken as permission
to urinate on the steps of Congress,
however desirable that may be.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Case for Not Voting

There's a mindset stridently advocated that, when an election looms, it is your duty to vote!  Tom Hanks would like to spank nonvoters and Amy Dunham compares voting to losing one's virginity.  Holy cow!  Then there's the old saw, "Bad politicians are elected by people who do not vote."   This is pure crap, in my opinion!  Bad politicians are elected by people who either voted without thought or voted strictly for their own selfish interests.

Anyway, this sort of argument should not be bought without thought.

There are options.  If, in your judgment, the two major parties came up with losers*, the conscientious citizen may do one of several things:

1.  Hold one's nose, and vote for one of the major party's candidates.

2.  Vote for a third party candidate.

3.  Don't vote.

This article from Slate makes a cogent argument:

Of course, if you're less concerned, or have obligations that would keep you from becoming informed, do everyone a favor by staying home.  You do less damage.

*Like in 2004.

Roll Tide on the Métro

It was several years ago; and I happened to be riding on the Métro in Paris, the famed and extensive subway system found there.  It's pretty safe, and used by huge numbers  of people.   If you don't mind the steps, it takes you to speedy subway cars.

Anyway, while riding on the Métro, there happened to be some other Americans riding.  They apparently were not feeling any pain, possibly from vino or cognac, and were a little noisier than most riders.  Parisians who had been working tend to be quiet.

When the car came to a stop, they yelled out "Roll Tide, Roll" in unison.   And they did this at the next stop too.

By the third stop, some of the other riders were shouting "Roll Tide" too; and this built up as the car approached.  It was like some seated, mobile flash mob.

After the possible Alabamians got off at the Cité exit (near Notré Dame), the remaining riders, Parisians and tourists, continued to yell "Roll Tide" at stops further down the line.   They were still doing that when we exited.

I didn't know there was such Bama sentiments in Paris.  Or possibly the "Roll Tide" episode appealed to the Inner Anarchist in the recesses of their Parisian hearts.

At least they didn't do the Rammerjammer cheer! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Football Predictions Week Nine

Alabama 27  Miss. State 20 -- Definitely the Game of the Week.  Bama is too balanced for the Bulldogs, who have surprisingly improved, and should win in a close one.

South Carolina 35  Tennessee 14 -- The Gamecocks are likely to be pissed after last week's loss, and take out their frustrations on the failing Vols.

Mississippi 27  Arkansas 20 -- Mississippi is showing signs of rebuilding.  Not so Arkansas.

Missouri 33  Kentucky 10 -- Just not Kentucky's year.  But their fans are hierbenating until basketball season.

Florida 21  Georgia 18 -- A close one; but the Gators will prevail.

Texas A & M  35  Auburn 21 -- Gene is just not having a good year.

Vanderbilt 20  Massachuetts 16 -- How did this get scheduled?

UNA is off before playing Tarleton State on Nov. 3.

Last week:  5 right, 2 wrong

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Public Art

The Muscle Shoals area will eventually wind up with four aluminum sculptures honoring the local music industry.  Here's the first one.  It made me cringe, but I'm not especially an esthete.

For the brave and stouthearted, here's an article talking about the concept behind these erections:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Football Predictions Week Eight

LSU 28 Texas A&M 16 -- The Tigers are back!

South Carolina 24 Florida 21 --  Game of the Week.  The Gamecocks should bounce back.  THe can still win the SEC East.

Alabama 35 Tennessee 15 -- A solid win for Bama.  Hang down your head, Derek Dooley . . . .

Vanderbilt 31  Auburn 28  -- Auburn is having a rough season.  Losing to Vandy won't help.
Mississippi State 34 Middle Tennessee 7  -- Too much cowbell for Empty Ess You.
Georgia  37  Kentucky 17 -- No surprises here.

UNA 35  West Georgia 17 -- UNA bounces back.

Last week:   4 right, 2 wrong.  I left out 2 SEC games.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ain't Democracy Frickin' Wonderful?

No, this is not going to be one of those opinion-laden diatribes regarding the Presidential election by some old fart; you must have encountered them live and on the internet up to your wazoo!  [However you imagine that feature to be.]

No, it's plain old neighborhood democracy in action.  The Homeowner's Association.

Last week the Board got together and voted to raise the dues by $25.  Now, it's not a big amount, so ole Duckbutt wil not have to stick up some filling station or rob some church's poor box to make ends meet.

No, it's a principle sort of thing.  Principles are something to practice in moderation; but I'm in favor of a level playing field.

Anyway, the issue that I'm in high dudgeon or bitching about is how it was done: by vote of the Board, with the proviso that the hoi polloi could negate it if 40 households voted in writing against it.

My wife, being quantitatively-minded, determined that there were 79 households in the neighborhood.

Not a majority of the votes cast; no, that would be too even-handed.  Only if the "antis" are more than half of the households involved.

It seems to me that there are five possible types of feelings on this, or any other matter that might require a vote:

1.  Strongly for it enough to vote "For."

2.  Okay with it, but not enought to vote.

3.  Neutral or don't give a damn.

4.  Kind of against it, but voting is too much effort.

5.  Strongly against it enough to vote "Against."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Football Predictions Week Seven

Here's my picks for Oct. 13th.

Alabama 39  Missouri 10  -- An easy win for Bama.  Yawn.

Arkansas 31  Kentucky 14 -- Maybe the Hogs are back.  The Wildcats had their moment of glory against UT last year.  At least they have Ashley Judd to console them.

Ole Miss 27  Auburn 10-- Also-rans play.  Not well.
Florida 38  Vanderbilt 20 -- Florida is for real.

South Carolina 32  LSU 25 -- Game of the Week.  SC is the stronger of the two.
Mississippi State 35  Tennessee 17 -- MSU has a running edge here.

UNA 35  Valdosta State 13 -- I have some serious hatin' going on for the likes of Valdosta left over from UNA BB.  I hope Bobby Wallace turns 'em loose and the run up a score!

Last week:  4 right, 3 wrong.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bong Hits 4 Geezers

If they would legalize marijuana for senior citizens, then we could have Bong Hits 4 Geezers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Football Predictions Week Six

Auburn 35  Arkansas 31 -- The Tigers finally win one.  Arkansas lost its mojo.

LSU 28  Florida 22 -- The Tigers can't afford to relax on this one.

South Carolina 24  Georgia 17 -- Both teams had problems last week: South Carolina starting; Georgia with defense.  (Where was it against the medium-sized orange?)  But the Cocks are the best in the East, such as that is.  Still, Florida, Georgia, and SC are in a three-way tie right now.

Texas A&M 35 Ole Miss 18 -- An old-fashioned can of whoopass is opened here.

Missouri 27  Vanderbilt 17 --  It's MO, you know.  It's hard to take Vandy seriously.

Mississippi State 30 Kentucky 21 -- Kentucky might have a chance, though.  Still, I lean toward State; they have more cowbell.

UNA 36  Texas A & M Kingsville 18  -- The Javalinas lost their last three games.  This one should be easier for a rebuilding UNA team.

Last week, 6 right, 1 wrong.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cordell Hull Story

Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt, was riding in a train one day, with a companion, through the New England states.  Observing a flock of sheep feeding on a hillside his companion idly remarked, "Those sheep have recently been sheared."

Cordell Hull stared at them a moment and said, "Well, sheared on this side anyway!"

Cordell Hull was an empiricist.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Football Predictions, Week Five

Alabama 28 Ole Miss 17 -- This will be a close game
Arkansas 21 Texas A&M 19 -- This should be another close game.
Georgia 38  Tennessee 21 -- No dice for Dooley's team.
South Carolina 35 Kentucky 10 -- It's UK, you all!

LSU 41 Towson 6 -- The Tigers got off easy last week; they won't be napping now.
Missouri 35 Central Florida 14 -- An easy one for MU.
UNA 39 Shorter 17 -- This is UNA's Homecoming Game; that says it all.

Last week: 10 right, 1 wrong

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Football Predictions, Week Four

This is for 9/22:

LSU 38 Auburn 7 -- The Louisiana Tigers are contenders; the Alabama ones are not.
Rutgers 35 Arkansas 6 -- No dice, Razorbacks!
Florida 38 Kentucky 17 -- Don't write the Gators off.

Georgia 29 Vanderbilt 17
South Carolina 32 Missouri 24  -- Game of the Week -- I think it will be close and MO might pull off an upset.

Alabama 42 Florida Atlantic 7 -- An easy win for Bama, but a game that should not have been scheduled. 
Ole Miss 32 Tulane 17
Mississippi State 44 South Alabama 6 -- Another one of those games where a SEC team plays an outclassed opponent,
Tennessee 39 Akron 7 -- An easy win.
Texas A & M 42 South Carolina State 10 -- Yawn.
Delta State 35 UNA 22 -- I hope I'm wrong on this one.

Last Week:  11 right, 2 wrong

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Football Predictions, Week Three

Alabama 32 Arkansas 10
Florida 32 Tennessee 18
Georgia 40 Florida Atlantic 7
Kentucky 20 Western Kentucky 14
LSU 45 Idaho 7
Texas 29 Ole Miss 22
Mississippi State 28  Troy 19
Arizona 26 Missouri 17
South Carolina 45 UAB 16
Texas A&M 35 Southern Methodist 14
Vanderbilt 30 Presbyterian 10
Auburn 38 Louisiana-Monroe 12
North Alabama 30  Kentucky Christian 7

Last week's predictions truly stunk: 6 right, 6 wrong.

Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Missouri.

Too many games involving beating up on less powerful opponents.

But last week one of those -- La. Monroe -- bit Arkansas back.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Football Predictions, Week Two

Auburn 25  Mississippi State 18 -- This is the test for Auburn.
Florida 34 Texas A&M 19
Missouri 28 Georgia 26 -- This is the Game of the Week.  I think that Missouri will be a team to reckon with this year.
Alabama 38 Western Kentucky 7 -- an easy win
Arkansas 40 Louisiana-Monroe 7 -- an easy win
Kent State 23 Kentucky 7
LSU 39 Washington 20
Ole Miss 35  UTEP 13
South Carolina 28  East Carolina 10 -- I may have overestimated the Gamecocks, or as they're known on the old T-D web site, the Game****s.
Tennessee 35 Georgia State 10
Vanderbilt 24  Northwestern 14
North Alabama 35  Harding 14

Last week: 10 right, 3 wrong, 1 postponed.  Auburn and Kentucky did not come across.

Alabama impressively dominated Michigan, which is a good thing.  Auburn lost to Clemson.  Missouri seems to be emerging as a team to reckon with in the SEC; perhaps the conditions in the SEC summarized breezeily by that Missouri player does seem to make a difference.  South Carolina looked feeble, if I might say plainly.  Or are the Commodores a possible  spoiler team this year.

UNA got by in a squeaker.  If they don't improve, they will lose a few this year.  I hope this week is better.

In general, most of last week's games were tune-ups.  The SEC teams in many cases needed them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Football Predictions, Week One

Well, it's that time again.  Football season is upon us.  Here's my predictions for this week, for what they're worth:

South Carolina Gamecocks 37  Vanderbilt Commodores 7
Texas A & M 35  Louisiana Tech 14
North Carolina State Wolfpack 24  Tennessee Volunteers 14
Georgia Bulldogs 38  Buffalo Bulls 7
LSU Tigers 49  North Texas State Mean Green 10
Auburn Tigers 26  Clemson Tigers 20
Arkansas Razorbacks 35  Jacksonville State Gamecocks 14
Mississippi Rebels 25 Central Arkansas Bears 20
Florida Gators 33  Bowling Green Falcons 7
Mississippi State Bulldogs 38 Jackson State Tigers 18
Missouri Tigers 29  Southeastern Louisiana Lions 10
Alabama Crimson Tide 33  Michigan Wolverines 20
Kentucky Wildcats 24  Louisville Cardinals 16
North Alabama 44  Miles College 7

The Game of the Week

Mismatched Games against weak opponents

I look for the SEC Championship game to be between Alabama and South Carolina.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Duck Tape Amazement

While I was in a Target the other day, I spied several different kinds and colors of Duck Tape on display.  Using the 10 yard size as a standard, I found the following:

Old-fashioned silver duct tape       $3.37
Other colors                                          $3.37
Hello Kitty duct tape                          $6.00
Monkey duct tape                                $6.00
UT (Tennessee) duct tape                $6.67

Now duct tape, and Duck brand duct tape, is a good, useful product, and I use it.  As a self-respecting Southerner, but maybe not the conventional kind, I also use WD-40.  But I find it amazing that people would repair something with duct tape carrying their preferred school's logo.  And pay more than DOUBLE the base rate price to do so. 

Can there be a clearer example of tacky fandom gone wild?

And I got that sinking feeling:  Is there Auburn or Alabama duct tape out there?  Do we have fans out there in the Yellowhammer State as demented as those people who voluntarily tog out in Dreamsicle orange each Fall?

The horror!  The horror!  We do.  As a matter of fact, most of the SEC is represented.

A consolation.  UNA is not represented.  I don't know whether this is due to latent good taste despite the D1 aspirations, or the duct tape people simply overlooking it.  Even at my age, I need my delusions!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sometimes Acronyms Can Be Misunderstood -- or Not

An example of this came in the case of an overheard communication by a hospital worker.

It was during a procedure where the hall of a hospital had to be cleared.  The worker said, "Get the COW out of the hall."

He was berated for hs nonprofesional behavior, calling a patient 'a cow.'

His response was: "Cow.  C-O-W.  Computer on Wheels."

I wondere how he could have handled 'Nine F-er?"

[A Nine F-er is a fat, fortyish, flatulent, fecund female with foul foaming floating feces.]

Monday, July 30, 2012

Games of Shame

Okay, I'm a SEC sports fan; and it's time to open a little whoopass on the scheduling techniques of the various programs.  While it's nice that there's a 12 game schedule, the SEC Championship plus a bowl game adds up to 14.  Kind of pushing the limit, in my opinion.

But my issue here has to do with the quality of some opponents scheduled.

Why, on God's still green but overparched Earth, must National Championship contenders fill out their schedule with teams that have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning.  Is there no shame?  What next: play a team of geriatrics or crippled nuns?

Of course, we can understand why Florida Atlantic will face Alabama or Towson will face LSU: they're doing it for the money.  But I call these games with serious mismatched opponents Games of Shame. 

Anyway, here's some SEC schools, and what I think to be their Games of Shame (GS):

 Alabama -- (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina

Auburn -- (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Louisiana -Monroe, New Mexico State

LSU  (12 games, 8 at home) -- GS:  North Texas, Idaho, Towson

Ole Miss  (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Central Arkansas, UTEP

Mississippi State (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama, MTSU

Missouri  (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Southeastern Louisiana, Central Florida

Tennessee -- (12 games, 7 at home) -- GS:  Akron, Troy

Notice that I exclude the Vanderbilt game from that category.  They're in the SEC.

I'll even have to admit that I secretly pull for one  of those overmatched opponents to knock off a SEC team.  Yes, even Alabama.  The reason: you don't need to come across as a bully.

And here's why.  UNA will apparently fall into their category someday, and it would greatly pleased me if they would defeat a big-time opponent who was looking for an easy game to inflate the number of wins they chalked up.

I still think that UNA going to D-I was a bad idea.

Friday, July 27, 2012

On Rolling Someone

Where I originated, to roll someone meant to forcibly rob someone, usually with considerable violence.

Therefore, I was surprised to overhear a conversation between two teen girls about rolling another girl.  They did not look like your typical tough girls, but I wondered.

It was a few days later that I found out another meaning of the expression to roll someone:

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Snares of Satan

How many have you experienced?

Vegetarianism?  Video games?  Yoga?  Satan must be one subtle dude.  Or some people worry overly much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"State Property -- Do Not Molest"

Thus read the sign on a gravel pile just off Patton Street for many years, and I started wondering:  Has there been some new psychopathology emerging that has not as yet been covered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual?  And then the appalling: Am I living in a community (Florence) where there are these perverts running around fondling innocent gravel and doing God knows what other unspeakable things?  I thought, this comes from living too close to Tennessee and the nefarious state line clubs that catered to the thirsty Lauderdale and Colbert Countians so that they would not have liquor or beer in their homes!

How many gravel-fondling offenders have entered the Alabama criminal justice system as consumers?  This is something that State Corrections needs to make clear.  It might be necessary to house offenders in their own lock-up, perhaps far away from any gravel that might be offended.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Higgs Bosun Discovered

A bosun is a warrant officer on a ship who pipes before making
an official announcement.  Short for boatswain.

Congratulations on the discovery of Higgs Boson,
the so-called God particle.

Physics rules!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Patron Saint of Contested Elections

What we need is a patron saint for contested elections so that, should 2000 repeat itself, we can ask for his intercession.
Well, it turns out there is one. And you're not going to believe what follows, but it's true: his name is St. Chad.
No, I am NOT making this up.
Chad was born in ancient Britain, probably about 620, to Saxon parents. His people had been pagan, but his parents were baptized by St. Aidan. Thus he represents the Celtic, rather than the Roman stream of Christianity.
As a youngster he was sent to the bishop of Northumbria to be educated. Later, he seems to have gone to the Irish monastery-schools established by St. Patrick, and then to Iona, where he was ordained priest, and, after the death of two of his brothers in a plague, eventually became head of a small abbey near Whitby.
Chad is perhaps best known for NOT being Archbishop of York.
In mid-life he returned to Northumbria, being called by its king to be chief bishop there (and thus, Archbishop of York).
He was elected and duly installed, but various persons raised objections on the grounds that his consecrators were bishops who followed the Celtic church calendar and customs rather than the customs then being imported from the continent and from Rome.
Not wishing to cause division in the Church, Chad withdrew (nota bene!) in favor of another candidate! The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was greatly impressed by Chad's humility, subsequently consecrated him bishop of Litchfield, in Mercia, where he worked for the remainder of his life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Little Sure Shot and Kaiser Bill

Annie Oakley was one of the stars of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the 1890's.  Her specialty was sharpshooting.  Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Mosey, joined the troupe only five years before. Only 5 feet tall, Oakley was nicknamed “Watanya Cicilla” (Little Sure Shot) by fellow performer Sitting Bull.

While touring Europe, she performed for Queen Victoria, and other crowned heads of state. In Berlin’s Charlottenburg Race Course, she performed a feat of legendary proportions.  Annie announced that she would shot the ashes off any man or woman’s Havana cigar. Normally her husband Frank Butler come out of the audience for the stunt and her speech was just for show.

Unexpectedly, Kaiser Wilhelm II himself accepted her offer; the police thought it was a joke until the Kaiser took his position and told the police to get out of the way. Annie Oakley raised her pistol, aimed and blew the ashes off Kaiser Wilhelm II cigar.

Talk about a coming together of two individuals of uncommon nerve!

When World War I started, Annie wrote the Kaiser asking for a second chance. The Kaiser did not respond.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Middle Path


Let me tell you about the middle path.

Dressing in rough and dirty garments, letting your hair grow matted, abstaining from eating any meat or fish, does not clean the one who is deluded.  Mortifying the flesh through excessive hardship does not lead to a triumph over the senses. All self-inflicted suffering is useless as long as the feeling of self dominant.

You should lose your involvement with yourself and then eat and drink naturally,
according to the needs of your body. Attachment to your appetites - whether you
deprive or indulge - can lead to slavery, but satifying the needs of daily life is not wrong.  Indeed, to keep a body in good health is a duty, for otherwise the mind will not stay strong and clear.

This is the middle path.

From "Discourse II"
Edited by Anne Bancroft, The Pocket Buddha.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bear Bryant

Some Observations by Coach Paul W. (Bear) Bryant):

Show class, have pride and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.

If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games.

Don't give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.

It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.

Winning isn't everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lord Acton Quotes

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton was an eminent nineteenth century Catholic historian.  He is remembered for his lucidity nd his aphorisms.  Here are a few:

Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad.

Morality depends on liberty.

Liberty consists in the division of power. Absolutism, in concentration of power.

Bureaucracy is undoubtedly the weapon and sign of a despotic government, inasmuch as it gives whatever government it serves, despotic power.

Bureaucracy tries to establish so many administrative maxims that the minister is as narrowly controlled and guided as the judge.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.

Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.

Everybody likes to get as much power as circumstances allow, and nobody will vote for a self-denying ordinance.

Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.

The central idea of Machiavelli is that the state power is not bound by the moral law. The law is not above the state, but below it.

Official truth is not actual truth.

There is another world for the expiation of guilt; but the wages of folly are payable here below.

The great novelty of the American Constitution was that it imposed checks on the representatives of the people.

Live both in the future and the past. Who does not live in the past does not live in the future.

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hooray for Grits!

We have a lot of great comfort food in the South; some of which is truly iconic.

There's barbecue; whether you favor pork, beef, or whatever four-footed creature your grill will accept.  Whether you prefer the Memphis dry rub, the Taxas sauces, or the Carolina mustard-based sauces, it's hard to miss.  [But not with those mayonnaise-based sauces that some people use; did a fine pig die for that?

There's banana pudding, a favorite with barbecue joints.  There's red beans and rice.  Or jambalaya.  And fried chicken.  Frankly, Popeye's kicks KFC's and Church's pasty hineys on that, in my opinion.

But the true Southern food has to be grits!

Yes!  Whether you use white grits, or yellow girls, use Quick Grits -- not that Instant crap!  Making grits is a zen activity.  And, while you're at it, make a serious-sided serving.  It's so easy, even a Yankee can do it.

Here's what  do: 

Put 1/4 cup of grits in 8 oz. of water.
Microwave it on high for four minutes.
It's come out agreeably runny.

Salt and butter to taste.  If you want to be a hero, try it with a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.  You can do it gourmet: add a little cheese.Or do it, Charleston-style: use milk instead of water.  My point is this: grits is not a mere side dish; it's the big part of a meal.

While purists say it's a breakfast food, I say breakfast can be served any time of day.  When you have a good thing going, play it!  A big bowl of grits and biscuits will do body and soul nicely.  Or croissants and honey.  With those, I'm one happy man.

Having sung the praises of grits, I will indulge now in a little iconoclasm:  Sweet tea is overrated and bogus as a Southern tradition.  Don't get me wrong; I like tea; and even add a bag or two if I'm in the mood.  But the cloying sweetness found in sweet teas served in restaurants is too much!

Here's a Grits Map from CNN.  If you live above that dark line above Kentucky, you will be hard-pressed to fine it offered in restaurants.  Likewise, bring your own in Miami or NYC.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Escalation of Commitment

Barry M. Staw in his 1976 paper, "Knee deep in the big muddy: A study of escalating commitment to a chosen course of action," described a recurrent phenomenon that causes humans to persist in actions in which the outcome is increasingly more costly than anticipated or nonfunctional.  It may be manifested in different ways:

1.  An employer hires a person who does not seem to be working effectively; and rather than cutting his or her losses by terminating the person, continues to give that person time to become productive.  (Can anyone not think of an example?)

2.  A company invests some money in a product, but sales do not live up to what was planned.  (The Edsel)

3.  A nation embarks on an economic policy that doesn't live up to expectations, like the bail-outs of the banks and General Motors.

4.  An army engages in a large-scale strategy that does not result in intended outcomes, but simply in heavy losses, like the French army in World War I (See Richard Watt, None Call It Treason.)

5. A nation initiates a war with another country, thinking it would be small-scale, and finding out that it results in more casualties, loss of material, and money than was expected.  (The Civil War, the Boer War, the Viet Nam War, Russia's war in Afghanistan, etc.)

As a matter of fact, this failure to accomplish the intended may result in more motivation.

There's likely to be several reasons why this pattern persists.  First of all, there's the self-defeating tendency to save face and not admit that it maybe was a bad idea.  This is coupled with the idea that just maybe, if we keep at it, then the result would be good and happy days would be here again.

Some policy reversals may be politically costly, and that influences their not being made.  Just imagine what would happen if a President launched us in a war, got Congress to go along, and then went back to them back and said, "My bad."  Whether he's a Republican or a Democrat doesn't matter; the other party would whack him without mercy or end.

We also have a lot of adages warning us against quitting: "Winners never quit; quitters never win."  These may be part of the problem.

Notice that some of these situations did come out ultimately successful; but at a cost greater than anticipated.  Others were total failures.  Why do the people involved not simply withdraw and accept it as a bad job?  A basic reason is that the piling up of costs or losses, whether human lives, money, or simply time, has the effect of changing the motivational basis from what it had originally been when the decision to do it had been made.  In other words, there is greater pressure towards continuing the course of action than there had originally been at the time of the start of the action!

So what can be done?  There's the high road: simply admit that the policy or practice was not a good idea.  In other words, admit that one was mistaken; that it was an error in judgment.  And accepting the consequences.

This is sometimes called "taking one for the team."

Or you can continue grimly towards the end, hoping that the course will ultimately turn in you favor.  This is more attractive if the costs of the poor choice are noncatastrophic.

Or, you can pussyfoot around, using some ploy to change the emphasis.  For exmple, get people to wear "WIN" buttons to lick inflation, raise a banner, "Mission Accomplished," re-issue the old Coke and style it "Classic Coke," take your clothes off, or launch into sufficient platitudes that people will be so glad that you've finally shut up that they stop caring about the failure.

When in question or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream, and shout;
Give them Hell, and fire a gun,
Hoist the signal up, "Well done."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No Boogermen

I think several people are getting entirely overboard about things to worry about in the recent political climate.

When I was very young, I was told not to do something or to go off because the boogerman would get me.  [I know some people spell it bogeyman, but I'm spelling it like it is said in the South.  And I think Humphrey Bogart might prefer my version, anyway.]  I'm a bit more worldly wise nowadays enough to recognize that this was adults' ways back then of keeping children out of harm's way in the form of child predators, heavy machinery, fast cars, and other things that are out there without either raising too many pointed questions.  So they scared the crap out of kids.  Oh well . . . .

In my opinion, there is this neat little tendency going on still; but it's directed towards grownups.

So read me in black and white (and red all over):  Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or some player to be named later is elected President in November, things are not going to go to the dogs.  And the same could have been said about Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, or some of the others who may be talked about in 2012 or 2016.

Likewise, don't worry overly much about Republicans or Democrats or Brand X parties.  People will differ in opinions, and that's okay.  And the same can be said for the Christian Right, the Tea Party, the Occupy people in their various locales, and the holy rollers.   Did I leave anyone out?

Don't get the idea that this hysteria is solely from the right, or the left.  Both play that game.  Practically speaking, a President can only do so much.  Yes, the Presidency is a bully pulpit; but many of us are votaries of Morpheus while sermons are going on.  Congress can pass laws; but they are limited by real life concerns.  The Supremes may overturn some laws now and then as unconstitutional, but that's now and then.  In short, inertia is built into the system: it's hard to turn the direction of government very much.

And that's not a bad thing.  And gridlock is not a bad thing.  Democrats serve as a check to the wretched excesses of the Republican party, and Republicans are good to have around to keep the Democrats from being more stupid than they are inclined to be.  Thank God we are not governed either by Rush Limbaugh or the NYT editors.

Didn't Franklin D. Roosevelt once say that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  [Okay, you old codgers, stop crossing yourself or genuflecting -- he was not as awful or as great as you were led to believe.]  So smile.  And have a beer.

Doesn't that feel better?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Odd Book Titles

As we meander into the Spring, thoughts of readers naturally trend toward finding something offbeat yet uplifting to read.  Here are some that have in recent years been reckoned as among the oddest book titles.These are real book titles.  No April Fool joke is involved.

Estonian Sock Patterns All Over the World 
A Taxonomy of Office Chairs
Cooking with Poo
The Great Singapore Penis Panic
Mr. Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge
After the Orgy
Archaeology in the American Bottom.
The Anger of Aubergines
Celtic Sex Magic

Better Never to Have Been
Bombproof Your Horse
Living with Crazy Buttocks
Confessions of a Pagan Nun
Coyotes I Have Known
Fabulous Small Jews
God Makes Sex Great!
Fancy Coffins You Can Make Yourself
The History of Concrete
How to Shit in the Woods

Italian Without Words
The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox
The Joy of Chicken
Knitting in the Fast Lane
People Who Don't Know They're Dead
The Book of Marmalade
Rats for Those Who Care
Reading Toes
Reusing Old Graves
The Sexual Politics of Meat

Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan
Teabag Folding
The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories
Bacon: A Love Story
I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears
Is the Rectum a Grave?
The Quotable Douchebag
A Tortilla Is Like Life
Schoolgirl Milky Crisis
Mickey Mouse, Hitler, and Nazi Germany

Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter
A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel
Scouts in Bondage
The Making of a Moron
How to Make Love While Conscious

Underwater Acoustics Handbook 

Superfluous Hair and Its Removal 
The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes
How to Be a Pope: What to Do and Where to Go Once You're in the Vatican

Lightweight Sandwich Construction