Saturday, March 7, 2009
On to more important things - or not. I'm not feeling all that newsy, so this will be a Linked Up with a twist. As always, these aren't necessarily arranged in any particular order:
1. Here's some bad paintings of President Obama (one pictured above), if you're interested. Thankfully, none of them involve Curious George or a fatally wounded chimp. h/t UBM.
2. You heard it here: Newt Gingrich is NOT going to run for president in 2012. Steve Benen explains why.
3. Believe it or not, the recession has impacted women in more meaningful ways than their romantic lives. No, really.
4. Ghostface Killah has a message for Rihanna: http://www.mediafire.com/?cqt3tmytkzu
5. Cosmically stupid yet somehow still popular: Glenn Beck. Then again, I guess the same thing could be said of Flavor Flav and Jessica Simpson. Beck will always be that morning zoo deejay to me.
6. Are people still watching Jim Cramer? For something other than entertainment? If so, why?
7. If you consider the strong precedent, 36-year-old Terrell Owens seems to running that final fade route. Unless you believe he's better than every receiver in NFL history other than Jerry Rice. And I don't.
8. If this study is true, then I almost certainly have more Facebook friends than I need.
9. Gotta love Venn Diagrams.
10. One of my favorite spots in Houston made Esquire's list of the 59 best breakfast restaurants in the country. It's hard to argue with fried chicken and waffles. Sadly enough, no place in the Tampa Bay area made the list. But I'm offering up the name of Daily Eats for consideration anyway.
11. The private search off the Gulf Coast for three missing boaters, including two NFL players, has come to a sobering end. May their families receive the peace that surpasses all understanding. It reminded me, for whatever reason, of the mysterious and very tragic disappearance at sea of former NBA player Bison Dele. Here's some background.
12. Finally, a writer catches up with retired punching bag Glass Joe, the first knockout victim of almost every kid in my generation. I'm now on a mission to find out what happened to Soda Popinsky. But here's some footage of Joe, who retired with a record of 1-100:
Continue Reading »
Friday, March 6, 2009
In the Tampa Bay area, the unemployment rate reached 9.7 percent as the region has shed more than 42,000 jobs year over year.And I've previously prattled on about how bad things are at newspapers. But really, companies in a number of fields are hemorraghing money and employees:
The place feeling it the most? Michigan. By far. I really have no idea how we'll ever be able to restore that place. Continue Reading »
Job losses were widespread last month.
Construction companies eliminated 104,000 jobs. Factories axed 168,000. Retailers cut nearly 40,000. Professional and business services got rid of 180,000, with 78,000 jobs lost at temporary-help agencies. Financial companies reduced payrolls by 44,000. Leisure and hospitality firms chopped 33,000 positions.
It was there that I covered my first football game (Fort Worth Paschal High School against some terrible Dallas school), met boxing legend Angelo Dundee and won a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the company picnic. They even sent me - a trembling 20-year-old cub reporter - into the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, where Emmitt Smith promptly blistered me during a postgame news conference.
In all, my editors showed a faith in me and my abilities that I didn't even have in myself. I'm forever grateful.
So it's with the utmost sadness that I read this news yesterday:
We will reduce our workforce by about 12% of all employees. Please know that we did everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs as outlined in the other expense savings plans below. Reductions will occur in virtually all areas of our operation.Once again, my thoughts are with all the affected journalists, some of them my former colleagues and mentors. That goes for the ones who had to leave and the ones who have to stay. Continue Reading »
... We will implement a wage reduction for employees whose compensation exceeds $25,000 annually. $25,000 to $49,999 will receive a 2.5% reduction, $50,000 to $99,999 will receive a 5% reduction and over $100,000 will receive a 10% reduction.
We are also planning for a one-week unpaid furlough program in the 2nd half of 2009. We are hopeful that business will improve and we can avoid having to implement this, but we think it’s important you know it’s a possibility. If implement ed, details will be provided at a later date.
Finally, as a reminder, McClatchy announced on Feb. 5 its decision to significantly reduce operating expenses as a result of ongoing and unprecedented economic pressures and revenue declines. The company announced a freeze of the company’s pension plans and the temporary suspension of the 401(k) company match. Both take effect March 31, 2009.
Which reminds me that I'm still bugging that they're now the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It gives me a reason to watch, I suppose.
But if anything, it highlights the fact that late-night tee-vee is missing some color among its hosts. Unless you consider Jimmy Kimmel to be an honorary Negro. And I don't.
I'm not bringing up the issue to embarrass or cajole network TV executives, who I'm all but sure could care less about the ramblings of some underpaid, relatively unimportant 30-year-old writer/blogger from Tampa.
No, I raise the topic because it seems like the smart thing to do in this, ahem, post-racial America. If it's done right. Don't try this thing with someone like Finesse Mitchell, or Kenan Thompson, or even D.L. Hughley, who will apparently be looking for steady work in the coming weeks.
Thing is, you'd be looking for someone dexterous enough to carry on conversations with, say, Sean Penn and Plies and Michelle Obama. I think these sorts of jobs are best handled by professional comedians - sorry Magic Johnson, even Tommy Davidson couldn't bail you out of that stinker - but that's not a hard-and-fast rule.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
To hear him talk football - or, really, anything - these days, you would never know that Holtz was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. It honestly sounds like Holtz can no longer tell a X from an O.
I never thought I'd wistfully reminisce about the Trev Alberts Era on ESPN.
But I thought I could at least comfort myself with the prospect of about seven months without hearing Holtz go through his Mr. Magoo routine. By then, I'd be so ready for the kickoff to the season that I could overlook his silliness.
Ah. I spoke too soon.
During an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, Doctor Lou suggested that global warming is a myth because ... it was cold outside that day. Really. Here's video evidence of his not-so-scientific analysis:
It's almost too moronic to merit a response. Almost. I'd like to think that Keith O handled that Tuesday.
But that "meeting of the minds" on global warming reminded me, ever so briefly, that I was terrible at science - any kind, with the exception of an astronomy course in college - throughout my academic career. If anything, my struggles gave me a deep appreciation for the pointy-heads who were actually gifted at the sciences.
Thus, what's really interesting to me is Hannity and Holtz's - and many others' - complete and utter disregard for the research of science professionals. This resistance to the idea of global warming and (mostly conservative) insistence on the potential threat of global cooling has been repeatedly and endlessly rebuffed by the actual evidence.
But when have the facts ever gotten in the way of a story on Fox News, eh?
As for Holtz, there's little evidence that he's a credible football analyst. So I can't imagine how anyone would think he has an opinion worth listening to on a show that's purportedly about politics.
Much as I hate to admit it, Dr. Lou would probably be better off giving one of his, um, pep talks. He's doing less damage that way. Continue Reading »
In fact, the entire half-hour was one of the best I've seen on TV in some time. Stewart's interview of New York Times business writer Joe Nocera was masterful.
To echo the words of John Cole, "I think I need a cigarette."
Watch and enjoy:
Continue Reading »
Maybe I'll get to go to Austin after all.
1. The doctor treating the lone survivor of this weekend's tragic boating mishap in the Gulf Coast has invoked the words "providence" and "miracle" to describe the fact that he's still alive. I'm certainly inclined to agree. I can't even fathom the amount of mental and physical strength needed to survive in those circumstances.
2. With the impending closures of the remaining Virgin Megastores in the U.S., I may have to finally accept that music stores are dying a slow death. Which sucks. One of my favorite things to do in high school and college, when I had a little down time, was peruse the aisles of music stores. It was a great way to find something you weren't necessarily looking for. (That sentence covers a lot of ground). Now with Apple iTunes and Wal-Mart as the two largest U.S. music retailers, it's getting harder than ever to stumble into an unheard of album or unfamiliar genre of music. For obvious reasons, that's not a good thing.
3. Mostly through watching hours of reality TV and crossing paths with a few assholes, I've learned that lots of people have really terrible manners. You'd think people would know to not leave a public bathroom in a mess, or not to spit in public, or prattle on endlessly about their lives. But I guess that's not quite the case. So ... here's a list of the worst - and most common - etiquette mistakes.
6. I can't help myself: I really like Ludacris' new single, "Nasty Girl." I could do without a verse from Plies, though.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
This was one of the most interesting - and colorful - takes on the complexity of color issues that persist in the colored folks community. Even when we're joking about beef, we're really not.
It reminds me of a passage from the late Ralph Wiley's first book of essays, "Why Black People Tend to Shout":
People of African descent here in America took a cue from more nearby sources and called their hair "bad" and "nappy." Eventually, hair had different, unofficial but quite relevant "grades," going all the way over to so-called absolutely straight hair ...
...but somehow - and you can check someone in marketing on this - straight hair ended up being called "good hair," and even "Nearer My God to Thee" hair. And, sure enough, if you went to the nearest church, temple or cathedral, usually there was the straight-haired Jesus in the stained glass, looking up beatifically, not needing so much as a single shot of Sta-Sof-Fro.
Eh, I'm sure I've been infected in some similar way, as much as I've tried to fight it. I had heard of "good hair" long before I ever considered whether or not my hair met that standard - and for the record, to me, good hair is the hair that covers your head.
I'm fortunate that I escaped childhood - and high school and college - with enough confidence to amuse myself at the mere mention of the topic. I know from personal experience, everyone else ain't so lucky. The quest for "good hair" has created a billion-dollar black hair care business and millions of insecurities.
Anyway, the clip from "School Daze" reminded me that I'm a little late to the party in mentioning this ... but Chris Rock is set to release a documentary dubbed "Good Hair." I predict lots of awkward moments and uncomfortable laughter. Like a lot of his best work.
Here's a magazine interview with Rock about the film and here's another, this one for the cameras.
A month after Michael Steele became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee, key party leaders are worried that the GOP has made a costly mistake — one that will make it even harder for them to take back power from the dominant Democratic Party.
Steadily becoming a dependable punch line, Steele has brushed back Rush Limbaugh, threatened moderate Republican senators, offered the “friggin’ awesome” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal some “slum love,” called civil unions “crazy” and promised more outreach to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” via an “off the hook” public relations
... On the organizational side, Steele does not have a chief of staff, a political director, a finance director or a communications director. Last week, one of the two men sharing the job of interim finance director was forced to resign.
... “There’s frustration that there’s no discipline, no planning,” said a well-known Republican consultant. “He’s risking being overexposed by accepting everyinterview, which makes gaffes more likely.”
Half-truths, obfuscations and apparent deceit -- these are the wages of a world in which newspapers, their staffs eviscerated, no longer battle at the frontiers of public information. And in a city where officials routinely plead with citizens to trust the police, where witnesses have for years been vulnerable to retaliatory violence, we now have a once-proud department's officers hiding behind anonymity that is not only arguably illegal under existing public information laws, but hypocritical as well.
There is a lot of talk nowadays about what will replace the dinosaur that is the daily newspaper. So-called citizen journalists and bloggers and media pundits have lined up to tell us that newspapers are dying but that the news business will endure, that this moment is less tragic than it is transformational.
Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger trying to find out McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of the spin or omission.
I didn't trip over a herd of hungry Sun reporters either, but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it.
Like many professions, journalism can be very insular. For that reason, I'm not quite sure how much people care about the daily shuttering and shredding at newspapers large and small across the country (to keep up with our daily dose of depression, check out this site).
But it's a problem. A big one. And blogs - even this one! - won't really be able to fill the need for a true watchdog. Continue Reading »
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The search for Bleakley, Cooper and Smith is going on about 45 minutes from my office. As of now, those three are presumed dead. In tragic times like these, words elude me.
Struggling in their life jackets, they somehow managed to make it back to the boat. But the 21-foot Everglades fishing craft was upside-down. And though the men were in their 20s and strong — two played for the NFL and the others had played for USF — they couldn't right the boat.
So the four friends clung to the slick, white hull.
Hours passed. Gusts of 10, then 20 mph slapped their faces. Darkness descended.
By then, experts say, the men must have begun to lose feeling in their limbs. Their faces probably felt frozen. They likely became disoriented.
For more than 12 hours, they gripped the boat as the temperature dropped to 60 degrees and the waves climbed over 10 feet.
By Monday, only one man was left holding on.
... Dark fell Monday night without a sign of the other three men. Coast Guard crews promised to continue searching. But after two days in frigid waves, the situation was seeming bleak.
Sanchez said the Coast Guard told him that the other three football players clung to that overturned boat for 12 to 16 hours. Schuyler must have seen them all slip away.
Unfortunately, that's not a problem for the peanut gallery that has already taken over the comments portion of the story. Some people are just scum. Continue Reading »
U.S. Representative Ginny Brown-Waite on Jan. 28:
“What we do not need, however, is yet another pork ridden bailout that produces few jobs, sends billions of your money to corrupt organizations like ACORN, and does nothing to put money back in the hands of American taxpayers."Feb. 19:
None of them voted in support of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package. But today, nine Republican House members from Florida joined with nine Democratic House members from the state ... in writing to the U.S. Education Secretary for a waiver so that the state may qualify for the $2.7 billion in a key funding category of the bill.
The Republicans who signed the letter were listed as Adam Putnam, Ileana Ros Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Tom Rooney, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ginny Brown-Waite, Cliff Stearns, John Mica and Bill Posey.
Admittedly, the third item isn't referring to the same pot of money. But pork is pork, right?
"I think the entire Florida cattle industry would lose the gains that they've made in their research in the various breeding techniques that have resulted from some of the research," said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, who was one of two House members from Florida who supported the omnibus measure.
The money for the cattle research facility is part of about $4.1 million Brown-Waite secured for the 5th Congressional District, which spans west-central Florida from Marion County south to portions of Pasco County. In the 2008 spending bill, she received about $6.5 million in earmarks for her district.
Or is it only pork when the money is going to someone else's district? Continue Reading »
1. Mary's Joint
2. Don't Go
3. I Love You
4. No One Else
5. Be Happy
These five songs are tracks 13 through 17 on what, to me, has to be one of the 10 best R&B albums of the previous decade. f not the absolute best. "My Life" reminds me that Puffy was once, indeed, a very talented producer.
This morning's spin through the '90s reminds me that I'm still selfishly peeved at her husband, Martin Kendu Isaacs. Somehow, he's been able to rid Mary of all the blues and melancholy that once made her such a great artist.
These days, though I'm happy for her newfound peace and happiness, I can barely stand to listen to any of her songs. I always feel like something or someone is missing. Maybe it's K-Ci Hailey.
On another (somewhat) related note, "My Life" was the first compact disc that I ever owned - I was holding it down for cassette tapes until the bitter end. I got it from a Wherehouse Music in Houston, where a couple of the guys at the register let me and my homeboys know they were "offering" 4 CDs for $20. I ended up leaving the store with "My Life," Boyz II Men's "II", TLC's "CrazySexyCool" and R. Kelly's "12 Play." No sales tax included.
This was only 14 years ago. Sigh. Continue Reading »
Monday, March 2, 2009
Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays – a 1% increase in a postal code's religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day. However, expenditures on other days of the week brought them in line with the rest of the country, Edelman finds.
Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
Actually, this is a bit of black history that I hadn't thought about much until I caught a re-run of "New Jack City" on BET the other night. Specifically, I realized that I had totally lost track of Christopher "Don't Wake Me" Williams over the past 15 or so years.
Seems like he's doing OK, working the chitlin' circuit for black musicals and such. But I had always wondered if his, uh, promising R&B career took a hit because of longtime rumors that he once struck then-girlfriend Halle Berry so hard that she lost much of the hearing in her right ear (pay attention, Chris Brown).
Anyway, Williams has denied this accusation for a number of years and has apparently suggested that Halle was referring to Wesley Snipes - and we wonder why Nino never liked him anyway. But here's video of Williams with more of the same (minus the Snipes references):
Continue Reading »