Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

Let's see....5k, baseball game to coach, nephew's birthday party and golf yesterday. Going to go with said nephew to the Traveler's game today and have to get pictures taken at 5k and birthday party ready.

All of this to explain that I'm taking this Sunday off!!!!!!

It's a beautiful day here in LR. Enjoy yourself!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vox Populi

A couple of weeks ago, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a letter to the editor from a lawyer in Hot Springs named Connie Meskimen who blamed Daylight Savings Time for global warming. This was pretty loony even for the Letters section and produced an unusual response from incredulous readers.

Turns out Meskimen claims it was a joke. This made Hit the link to read an interview with Meskimen about all of this. They also include a sampling of his opinion about our associate PM.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

I arrived late to a board meeting one day a few years ago. I was in an obvious foul mood because some idiot had pulled out on me on the road and almost hit me. I confessed to laying on the horn and yelling. One of my fellow board members is a psychiatrist here in town. He told me that he made it a point to never react to other drivers out there on the road.
"The American Psychiatric Association estimates that about 10%(I forget the exact number) of the general population is psychotic or borderline psychotic," he said. "The vast majority of those individuals are not treated or are treated inadequately. Now, consider the number of people in a place like Arkansas that keep weapons in their vehicles. I'll bet it's 20%. More so during deer season. Statistically speaking, this means that a certain percentage of drivers in Arkansas are armed psychopaths. So I never react when somebody pisses me off on the road. Flipping somebody off is just not the smart play according to the mathematics."
Security planning is all about doing the math. This is not a police state. At least not yet. There has to be a balance struck between a free society and the imposition of restrictions even if they are for the common good. It is thought that having security points in our government offices and courthouses is a minimally intrusive method of ensuring the safety of the workers and the visitors. On the other hand, making everybody get wanded and frisked when the President is at the ball park makes sense too despite the fact that such measures are highly intrusive. The President is the head of state. A single shot can alter history. Such measures are appropriate.
Which brings to the horrific events at Virginia Tech last week. How could such a senseless rampage been avoided? Is there a way to secure a college campus to keep something like this from happening again?
The answer to the last question is "probably not." Most college campuses are wide open green space with kids going in and out of buildings at all hours. Everybody is carrying a backpack. Everybody is in a hurry to get somewhere. You can't make everybody go through a security point in the buildings on your average college campus. The threat of somebody packing a gun or some other weapon on campus is practically non-existent, statistically speaking.
Could the campus police done a better job in responding to the incident? You can bet that procedures are being reviewed at Virginia Tech and at college campuses everywhere. Having said that, the experience of the last 4 years in Iraq prove that it is damned difficult to stop someone with a death wish who intends to maim others. If the greatest military power on Earth struggles to prevent similar assaults, we might want to cut the authorities in Blacksburg some slack. Besides, what are the odds?
But this is unlikely to bring comfort to the loved ones of the murdered and the Virginia Tech community. A social cripple named Seung Hoi Cho gave the lie to the numbers. He proved the oddsmakers wrong at least on one day in April.
You heard various opinions as to Cho's mental state last week. One psychiatrist on "Good Morning America" while allowing that Cho was paranoid and a narcissist also described him as a "weakling" and a "loser.' Other experts have diagnosed Cho from afar as being bi-polar. He was referred to a local mental health unit by a local judicial officer a year or so ago. He was kept for observation and released. Still, the young man was a creep who wrote alarming stories filled with violent imagery. He used his cellphone to to take pictures of girls' legs under their desks.
This ain't normal.
I was at a cocktail party once where I met a woman who was a Dean of Students at one of our local colleges. The conversation turned to the difference between kids today and kids when we were in school.
" I'll tell you the difference," she said. " When we were that age, you didn't get fucked up until you got to college and then you kinda worked yourself out of it. Kids today show up completely fucked up and when we contact the parents they are like 'Hey! This is your problem now.' Seen it a dozen times. That's the difference. They're fucked up when they first show up on campus."
I understand that this lady is no longer in academe. She is now in sales. Probably a good move. Sounds like she was burned out.
I don't know the answer to any of this. I do know that there are a dearth of in-patient beds for a person with mental illness. However, the jails are full of mentally ill people. The law enforcement types don't want them there but there's nowhere else to put them. This is because there's no big money to be made in psychiatric illness. Ask the psychiatrists.
And yet, just because it's not a license to print money like a procedure driven practice such as cardiology doesn't mean that mental illness is not a medical issue. Just because the jails are full of crazy people doesn't mean that it's a legal problem.
Surely we as a society could have done a better job of diverting Seung Hoi Cho at some point. Then again, maybe we couldn't have. After all, it's harder than hell to prevent some goddamn fool who is intent on blowing you and himself to Kingdom Come from acting on these black impulses. It's not as easy as counting to 10 whenever you are cut off by some idiot in the car ahead of you. Sometimes the odds don't matter anymore.
Ask the folks at Virginia Tech.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

'Tis Spring

And Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Pinella has had his first of what will undoubtedly be numerous post-game meltdowns. This one came after the Cubs blew a 5 run lead in the 5th with their "ace" Carlos Zambrano on the mound. Friday's rant isn't right up there with some of his past blown gaskets but it's early in the year and these are the Cubs after all. There will be plenty of opportunities to go off on the media as the season progresses, if that's the proper word to use in conjunction with the Cubs.

Hit the link and Play Ball!,1,1522497.story?coll=cs-cubs-headlines

The Hard Question

Today I am rolling out a new feature called "The Hard Question" in which I encourage you the readers to offer your input into various issues of the day. Let's start with case of the Duke lacrosse players.
The Attorney General of North Carolina announced last week that all charges would be dismissed against Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and David Evans, the 3 remaining Duke lacrosse players who had been accused of assaulting an exotic dancer during a team party in March of last year.
The case was instantly sensational, raising as it did on the surface questions of race and sex, privilege and class and the relationship of a wealthy elite school to a town with a considerable black population. The players were suspended. The coach was fired. Guys were led off in hand cuffs. The pictures made newspapers everywhere.
Only the case against them started unraveling almost overnight. One of the players could account for his whereabouts at the time of the incident. The other dancer that was present testified that no assault took place. The accuser, who had a prior history of making accusations of sexual assault, put out more stories than O. Henry. Finally, and most damning, there was no DNA evidence matching these guys up to the victim which is unheard of in these types of cases according to a couple of prosecutor types of my acquaintance.
The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, now has real problems with his license. The North Carolina Bar is looking into charges of wrongful or malicious prosecution. As will it should. All in all, it is beginning to look like Nifong brought these charges hastily in order to get elected Prosecuting Attorney. For a good analysis of this go to . It appears that he will get his.
But what of the players? What do they do to get their lives back? For the rest of their days, they will forever be remembered as the guys in the "Duke lacrosse case." Sure, they were behaving badly on the night in question. But being young, drunk and horny isn't a crime. What about the coach who was discharged from a job he loved by all accounts? How can he receive some measure of justice?
Which brings me to today's Hard Question: Should the accuser be prosecuted for making a false accusation? The Attorney General has said that there are no plans to bring charges against her. I realize the policy decisions that go into the decision not to prosecute. You certainly do not want to discourage victims of sexual assault from coming forward. This is a sensitive and complicated issue. Just because a case cannot be made in some instances does not mean that the accuser is lying. I understand all that.
But this is a pretty extreme example of the damage that bringing what now appears to be a palpably false accusation of a heinous crime can cause. Lives were damaged, Duke's reputation was tarnished and the criminal justice system in Durham County took a hit as well. Is it a completely crazy notion that everybody responsible should be held accountable?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. You may use your name, use an assumed name or leave your comments anonymously.
A note of caution: I reserve the right to edit or delete any comments that are inappropriate before they are published. So those of you that find rape jokes hilarious need not bother.
Fire Away!


Sometimes, no matter how many I times I try to edit it, Blogger refuses to publish the spacing between the paragraphs so it looks like one long run-on sentence. This happens most frequently whenever I insert a picture.

If anybody out there knows of a solution to this I would like to hear it.

My Sunday Feeling

What do Don Imus and the Tennessee Titans' Adam "Pac Man" Jones have in common? Both of them ran afoul of their employers and kind of for the same reason. Imus got canned by CBS for talking like a thug whereas Jones got a one year suspension by the NFL for being a thug. Not content to mete out stern justice to just one NFL miscreant, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chris Henry as well for multiple violations of the NFL's new "personal conduct" policy. Henry's most recent faux pas was that he pleaded out last January to giving a minor some alcohol. Note to Chris: make 'em show you a driver's license before offering them a Courvoisier and Dr. Pepper.
By the way, Jones and Henry played-and were suspended on numerous occasions- together at West Virginia. The knucklehead factor for the Mountaineers increased exponentially with those two on the roster. Indeed, Henry fits in exceptionally well with the Bengals seeing as how they set what has to be a league record for player arrests last year.
As for Jones, he has had ten instances of what are typically referred to as "run-ins" with the police since being drafted by the Titans in 2005. What finally moved Goodell to throw the book at Jones was a melee in a Las Vegas strip joint during the weekend of the NBA All-Star game, a weekend characterized by numerous incidents all over town, many of them precipitated by NFL guys in town for the weekend. It was the kind of weekend that gives law enforcement a greater appreciation for organized crime because disorganized crime is really hard to get on top of once things get out of hand.
Jones' contribution to the mayhem came after he showered 40 strippers onstage with $8100 at the coyly named Minxx Gentleman's Club and Lounge. $8100? How did he come up with that number? Anyway, the festivities began in earnest when Jones insisted that the ladies give the money back. One thing led to another and a woman was shot in the head. A security guard was also shot. He is paralyzed for life.
Now, in all fairness it must be said that Jones did not do the shooting. Indeed, he has not even been charged with anything at this writing. After all, it is not against the law to be acting like a knucklehead in a strip joint in the wee hours of the morning. But the NFL and the NBA are getting increasingly more and more redassed about the issue of off the field conduct. Which means that this not a good time to be a "Pac-Man" Jones or a Chris Henry.
There are some who would say that in the case of Jones particularly the suspension is particularly draconian since he has not been charged with anything and received suspended sentences for his other "run-ins." The San Francisco Chronicle's usually sensible Gwen Knapp even suggested that Goodell's actions were unconstitutional.
To which I call "bullshit." For the most part, and the exceptions don't apply here, actions by private individuals or organizations can't deprive someone of their Constitutional rights. My father used to tell me to shut up all the time. One time I told him that I thought I had a 1st Amendment right to free speech. He told me to write my Congressman. And to shut up.
Same thing applies here with equal force. If the Chris Henrys and Tank Johnsons of this world think the league is coming down too hard on them, they need to grieve it through the Player's Association.
But even if the NFL is within its rights to clamp down on these jerks, isn't it hypocritical? The NFL turns a blind eye to the hyper macho, chest thumping, mouth running antics of these guys every Sunday. It expects these guys to work themselves up into a lather sufficient to play in the hyper-violent NFL and then they expect them to turn it off at the buzzer? They are surprised that poorly socialized young men with more money than sense get into trouble? As Tony Kornheiser once said, " Not every paranoid-schizophrenic can play at the Division I level."
Which brings me back to Imus who has said things on the air that are 10 times worse than referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hos." And the suits at CBS did nothing about it until the sponsors got nervous. That's the way it is in the entertainment business. The suits will keep dancing with the devil as long as the product isn't threatened. But when it is, they find somebody to hang out to dry.
It's constitutional. But it is hypocritical.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nice,nice very nice-So many different people in the same device.

Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday as a result of injuries to his brain that he sustained in a fall at his Manhattan home. He was 84.
He was proud that he never successfully committed suicide.
One of my law school friends says that his earliest memory of me from those halcyon days is that I quoted Kurt Vonnegut all of the time.
Was I an insufferable asshole or what?
His last years were mostly spent on the lecture circuit where he urged listeners to think for themselves and to be skeptical about the media and religion. His last book, "Man Without A Country" is a collection of essays about such matters. For all of his mordant humor and depression I actually found Vonnegut to be a rather hopeful writer, a characterization that he would probably find astounding. Vonnegut loved people. You can sense it in the essays in "Man Without A Country."
Hope abides in the heart that loves. No matter how cynical is the head.
The world is always diminished when a hopeful heart is gone. Peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

As The Hogs Turn

I am on the board of a non-profit do-gooder organization. Just like Houston Nutt. I have business to conduct with 3 0r 4 serious lookers who are on the board. All of them are married. I exchange e-mails and text messages with them from time to time.

The max would be around 25-30 a month. 95% would be business related and the other messages tend to be about questions about my Mom.

I have no idea what is going on up there and I don't care.

Just saying.....

Not making a value judgment but even assuming that everything is on the up and up, everybody up there seems to have a tin ear as to appearances.

That's all...

Ho Ho Ho!

I guess I really don't know what to make of the latest flap WFAN's Don Imus finds himself in the middle of. By now, everyone knows that Imus, for reasons known only to him, saw fit to refer to the women of Rutger's basketball team as " nappy headed hos" The resultant firestorm of criticism clearly caught the man off-guard.

And why shouldn't it? Imus says stuff like this ALL OF THE TIME. His shtick is homophobic, misogynistic and racist. Bernard McGuirck, his sidekick and "producer" is even worse. To me, his only saving grace is that he is possibly one of the most insightful commentator on political events in broadcasting. Indeed, I believe it was Maureen Dowd who said that Don Imus had the best "bullshit detector" in the business. He must have it in the shop when he interviewed Mike Huckabee because he pretty much laid off on Huck the two or three times he interviewed him.

Given the fact that referring to black women as "nappy headed hos" is vintage Imus why all of the fuss? And there is a fuss, make no mistake about it. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are calling for his scalp. Sponsors are pulling out and the head of CBS says he ought to be fired. This is new.

The only thing I can think of is that generally when Imus does his thing he is skewering public figures or just speaking generally about people. Here he made a completely unnecessary remark about young women who had done nothing other than compete honorably on the field of play for the greater glory of the State of New Jersey. As far as I can tell, the Rutgers team is predominantly black. The Tennessee team that clobbered them the night before Imus shot his mouth off is about 50-50. Imus didn't say anything derogatory about them.

There is hardly ever any justification for going off on college kids. I think it is nothing more complicated than people just saw the tape and said, " Hey, that ain't fair." The fact that he chose to run down kids that go to school in his backyard didn't help his case any.

Imus is doing what celebrities do at times like this. He is apologizing. He is going off the air for a couple of weeks. He can't go into rehab because he is already a recovering alcoholic. He is going to meet with the Rutgers team and C. Vivian Stringer, their high-pissed coach who is neither nappy nor a ho but is someone I would not like to meet in a dark alley. And I feel the same way about Pat Summit. Some women you do not cross.

Dan Patrick asked good ole Joe Morgan what he thought about all of this. He allowed as how you ought not to ever refer to a woman as a whore and he also said that he longed for the time when "you couldn't talk like that on the radio."

I'm afraid those days are gone forever. But maybe this episode is proof that the public just won't stand fit when an "entertainer" makes fun of certain people. Don Imus may have the best bullshit detector in the business. But he would have been better off with a little bell in his head to warn him that he was screwing up.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

My Easter Feeling

Today is Easter Sunday which is pretty much my favorite day on the church calendar. Plenty of folks prefer Christmas. I am not one of those people.

Christmas to me is a pretty juvenile event both in the secular and the theological sense. Christmas at this point in our history is practically devoid of any religious significance in the popular culture. It is all about consumption and gratification. Who the hell needs any religious celebration that can bankrupt a business? There are plenty of businesses that depend on a big Christmas to survive through the year. Who the hell needs that?

Thank God the Easter Bunny never really caught like Santa. Easter still pretty much means something.

Christmas is about the birth of a baby and everybody loves babies. It's also about the slaughter of the Holy Innocents but I digress. It is about angels playing trumpets in the sky and wise men following a distant star. Pure treacle.

If Easter was a movie it would be PG with its adult themes of agony and betrayal. Not all of us have seen angels in the sky and most of us that have are given medicine. But all of us can relate to feelings of abandonment and isolation. All of us. And all of us, thank God, have experienced far more constancy and support than we deserve. Pretty much all of us have people at the foot of our crosses, people that never abandon us even if they are only there to take us down.

You don't get any of that kind 0f gravitas at Christmas.

But I like Easter. I find it reassuring to sit in church and be reminded that there is hope for a better day no matter how dark and bleak life seems to be. It's easy to lose sight of that sometimes. It's easy to become inward directed. And inward directed people are either egomaniacs or they are unable to get outside themselves to put their troubles in perspective. I can't recommend either approach to life.

The Easter summons encourages us to look up and out. For one day on the calendar victory remains in love and hope is the order of the day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

When You're Hot You're Hot

Yesterday, the Razorbacks sent their plane up to Nebraska to bring Creighton's Dana Altman to Fayetteville in order to introduce him as the new occupant of the Chair of Basketball. They had the press conference, everybody called the Hogs and Frank Broyles headed for Augusta to watch the Masters.

Apparently Altman hung around for a day and said " Awww, the hell with it. I'm going back to Omaha." It is not good when a man turns down a program that considers itself to be a NATIONAL POWER to return to a tiny Midwestern Catholic "academic school" as Wally would say.

It is obvious that they held the presser before going through the formal requisites of getting Altman to actually sign a damn contract. Depending on who you read or listen to, this is the second " agreement in principle" Broyles had with a coach that was neither an agreement nor terribly principled.

As ESPN's Jay Bilas said, the geniuses in Fayetteville have screwed things up from the firing of Nolan to the inept search for the replacement for Stan Heath. I can hardly wait to hear what the pundits have to allow about this latest fiasco.

Hit the link:

Sunday, April 01, 2007


For those of you in the Central Arkansas area, another essay written by me is in this month's edition of Little Rock Soiree which I understand is out on the newsstands according to a reliable informant. I'm afraid that it is only available outside of the local newsstands by subscription. As far as I can tell, the articles in the magazine cannot be accessed from the Internet.

Anyway, enjoy!

My Sunday Feeling

The old gentleman wheeled himself into the lunch room at the nursing home. He was simply but nicely dressed in a snap front western style shirt and jeans. He had a pen and note pad in his front pocket, a habit he undoubtedly carried with him from his working days.

" I'll bet you're ready for your coffee aren't you Mr. Johnson?" one of the nurses said.

He smiled. " That does sound pretty good to me right about now." he said. He probably says that all of the time.

The nurse brought the old gentleman a big mug of coffee and a saucer. She placed it in his big hands. I noticed that he was still powerfully built despite being extremely elderly and confined to a wheelchair. I'll bet he was a farmer or a carpenter. I'll have to ask him next time I'm there. You can hear some interesting stories from these little people.

Mr. Johnson sipped his coffee and after a couple of sips I noticed that a look of utter contentment was impressed upon his countenance. It occurred to me that the it was the same look that Little Boy had whenever he hugged his Mother or ate pork tenderloin that I made on the grill.

Unfortunately, I remember everything. The only blessing conferred upon one by dementia is that it allows you to forget. I'm not there yet. Sometimes I think I'm working on it but I'm not there yet.

I leaned over to the nurse working at the station beside where I was standing. " I don't believe I've ever seen a man enjoy a cup of coffee any more than that gentleman." I said.

" Mr. Johnson likes his coffee. He'd drink it all day if we would let him." she said. " You hang around here long enough and you sure start realizing all of the things you take for granted."

Boy, ain't that the truth. I can walk. I can bathe and dress myself. I can drive my car. I live independently in my own little house. I don't need help to go to the bathroom.

And I can drink coffee anytime I goddamn well get the notion.

As you read this it is Palm Sunday which commemorates the triumphant entry of doomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Thus begins the week long journey to Easter Sunday which is my favorite day on the Christian calendar. But more about that next week.

Suffice it to say for now that ever since I have embarked upon this latest, and probably final journey with Mother, I have become acutely aware of the fleeting nature of our earthly existence. As one my friends, a man who is bravely battling cancer, reminds me, " Life is just a flicker."

I am the only one in my boat. It is up to me, and me alone, to do a better job of manning the oars and turning the rudder.

No man enjoys his life more than I do. Despite my numerous allergies which are currently killing me, I enjoy robust good health. The men in my family typically don't live very long and I am bumping up against the window of my mortality if genetics is any guide. But I have an armada of frowning physicians hovering over me and my cardiologist flat out told me a couple of weeks ago that "[y]ou are never going to have a heart attack."

If the unthinkable occurs and I am indeed someday found on the golf course colder than the wedge in my hand, I hereby direct my executorto sue the only 6'6" heart doctor in Little Rock for breach of warranty.

Sure we're friends. But bidness is bidness.

Life is but a flicker. We take it all for granted. From a Mother's hug to a cup of coffee.

We start out each Spring undefeated. It's time to make some changes.

But more on that later.

Any pub is good pub: My brother called to say that last night he saw "themovingfingerwrites," written on the bathroom wall at a local watering hole called "Vino's" here in Little Rock. I've gone from being cited by one of the idiot callers to "Drive Time Sports" to the wall of a joint where a bunch of gnarly goth type kids hang out.

"My, my, my" as John Thompson, the legendary coach of the Georgetown Hoyas, used to say.

" I'm just surprised that the word 'sucks' did not appear after the word 'com.' " I said.

" Oh, it does now." John said.

My, my, my.