Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Revolt of the Mavericks

On Monday's media day, according to this Morning News story, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said "close" to seven members of the team came to him and said they wanted to be traded if Avery Johnson returned as the head coach this season. Cuban did not name names, but I'm betting it wasn't the number of team members that sparked Cuban to act, it was the fact that one of them was named Dirk Nowitzky. Nothing definite points to Nowitzki being one of the mutineers, but something I read earlier has me convinced he indeed was one of the magnificent seven.

Raves for Kristin Scott-Thomas and "W" trailer

I will be conducting my second Oscar poll of the year shortly and I will be anxious to see if there is any additional support for Kristin Scott-Thomas because of her performance in the upcoming "I've Loved You So Long," the trailer for which you can see here.

And speaking of trailers, this one for "W," featuring the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime" is absolutely brilliant.

The Sun sets in New York

New York Sun editor Seth Lipsky officially announced to his staff today the shuttering of the newspaper. The conservative-leaning paper was loosing money and desperately needed a new source of capital. But, as anyone reading the headlines today realizes, this is definitely not the time to be seeking money, a fact Lipsky sadly realized: “Among other problems that we faced was the fact that this month, not to mention this week, has been one of the worst in a century in which to be trying to raise capital, and in the end we were out not only of money but time.”

The paper is not filing for bankruptcy protection and will pay its 100 employees through November and continue their health insurance through the end of the year.

The paper's final editorial ended thusly:

"We can only hope that some day in the future our own record will inspire some new generation of newspapermen and women with dreams to pick up the flag that today we put down. We hope it doesn't take 50 years for the next new start, but even if it does take that long, we hope that they have as much fun as we have had and meet with as much success."

Chicago is getting trashed

While many "non-green" Dallas City Council members continue to fight the notion of once-a-week garbage pickup in return for additional waste diversion, matters in Chicago are even worse. According to this story, the city's financial situation is forcing Mayor Daley to lay off 1,000 city employees, most in the streets and sanitation departments. The result, most say, is the city will have to go to once every-other-week garbage collection. Yikes.

Today's weather forecast: snow on Mars

The weather today calls for light snow ... on Mars of all places ... according to this report.

Who is this Kilkenny person and why is she saying all these things about Sarah

Anne Kilkenny is a woman not unlike political activists you'll find in most cities. She studies city activities, attends just about every city council meeting (speaks at many of them) and lobbied city hall for years to get an ordinance changed that would allow her to put a paved driveway in front of her house.

What sets Ms. Kilkenny apart these days is that her city in question is Wasilla, Alaska, where GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin served as a city council member and later mayor. When Palin became the nominee, many of Ms. Kilkenny's friends in the Lower 48 sought out her opinion of Ms. Palin. Her response has become legendary, prompting more than 13,700 e-mail responses and, to date, a half a million Google hits.

Former Wasilla city council member Nick Carney refers to Ms. Kilkenny as "the watchdog of the council. She came to the meetings and made sure we were dotting our Is and crossing our Ts." Former deputy mayor Judy Patrick, however, calls Ms. Kilkenny "a nut case."

Much of the response she has received has been vitriolic. When asked if she would do it again, knowing what she knows now, she replied: "I continue to believe that it's important for people to participate as informed voters, and there is a moral obligation to share what we know about the people that are running for office."

On this date in

1791 The Magic Flute, the last opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premiered in Vienna.

1846 Boston dentist William Morton became the first person to use ether as an anesthetic.

1888 Jack the Ripper killed this third and fourth victims.

1901 Herbert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner.

1927 Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 60 homeruns in a single season.

1935 The Hoover Dam was dedicated.

1938 Britain, France, Germany and Italy signed the Munich Agreement which allowed Germany to occupy the Sudetenland.

1946 A military tribunal in Nuremberg found 22 Nazi leaders guilty of war crimes.

1947 The World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first to be televised.

1949 The Berlin airlift ended.

1954 The USS Nautilus was commissioned at the world's first nuclear-powered submarine.

1955 James Dean was killed in an automobile accident.

1962 Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers; James Meredith entered the previously segregated University of Mississippi.

1982 Tylenol laced with cyanide killed six people in the Chicago area; the television series "Cheers" premiered.

1984 Mike Witt of the California Angels pitched a perfect game against the Texas Rangers.

1992 George Brett of the Kansas City Royals got his 3,000th career hit.

1993 An earthquake struck India, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

2005 Controversial drawings of Muhummad were printed in a Danish newspaper.

Born on this date:
Industrialist William Wrigley Jr. (1861-1932)
Physicist Hans Geiger (1882-1945)
Director Lewis Milestone (1895-1980)
Businessman-segregationist-governor Lester Maddox (1915-2003)
Drummer Buddy Rich (1917-1987)
Actress Deborah Kerr (1921-2007)
Author Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Baseball player Johnny Podres (1932-2008)
Singer Frankie Lymon (1942-1968)
Musician Marc Bolan (1947-1977)
Actor Jack Wild (1952-2006)
Wrestler Chris Von Erich (1969-1991)

Here's why Rep. Hensarling and others of his ilk are wrong

Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of right here in Dallas was one of the leaders of the Republican revolt against their own President that helped defeat the so-called financial crisis bailout bill. I was against this bill, but not on the same grounds as Rep. Hensarling who couldn't be more wrong on this issue.

I am convinced that, with more protection for homeowners, judicial review of Treasury purchases and more guarantees that taxpayers won't be footing the entire bill for this later, some kind of legislation could still be salvaged.

Hensarling and his crew are against any bailout. The reason they gave yesterday for voting against it -- that they were upset at Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech right before the vote laying the blame for the current financial mess on mismanagement by the Bush administration -- is petty. OK, maybe the timing of the speech was suspect, but what she said is absolutely true.

But even without the speech, Hensarling's crew would have voted against the bailout on the grounds that it rejects free-market principles. And you know what? He's right about that. What makes the totality of his argument wrong, however, is that it is exactly those free market principles -- which left the industry unregulated and unsupervised -- that have failed us miserably and are continuing to play havoc with our economy.

At least President Bush seems to be realizing that perhaps the doctrine he has been fostering on the American people for the last eight years is leading us on the proverbial road to ruin. Why Hensarling and his sheep can't see the same thing is beyond reasonable explanation.

Times loves ACL

Here's just one sentence of a story in today's New York Times on the Austin City Limits music festival which took place last weekend:

"...this seventh edition of the festival, which — judging by the strength of the music, the smoothness of operations and the fervor of crowds averaging 65,000 daily — deserves recognition as a first-tier rock fest, with a regional twist."

Monday, September 29, 2008

I already knew Bruce was super

Here is the reason why the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show could be far more entertaining the game itself.

Alec Baldwin on Paul Newman

"God ... Newman was a great actor." But Baldwin said more than that.

Why I'm glad the bailout plan failed

--I have a problem with rewarding some of the richest people in the country for their incompetence, especially after the government has already rewarded them with massive income tax breaks.

--Many are arguing that spending $700 billion on this would force the government to make serious cutbacks in other areas. This would lead to the economic downturn the bailout is supposed to prevent.

-- This is exactly the same thing as an individual using a new credit card to pay off the debt of a previous card. (We would be borrowing $700 billion from foreign banks to pay off the bad debts of Wall Street banks.)

--The bursting housing bubble is resulting in a downtown in consumption due to the loss of an individual's home equity which deepens the current recession. The bailout will mean the government will not have the resources to stimulate the economy out of the recession.

--Larger banks away from Wall Street deny the current situation is forcing them to reduce lending, mean this is strictly a Wall Street problem, not a Main Street problem.

--Basically the plan would turn the keys of the U.S. Treasury Department over to the major contributors to both political parties.

--You could fix the entire situation with a stock transactions tax, bringing back President Nixon's revenue sharing plan and expanding the FDIC.

--The Service Employees International Union has come up with an interesting concept: investing in public services and national health care and instituting reforms that would prevent foreclosures and force banks to renegotiate their most predatory loans.

--Frankly, I don't trust the same person who said we had to rush to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destructions when he know says we have to rush headlong and accept his plan without really studying it. Besides there are experts who say Bush's
Doomsday scenario is not nearly as bad as he paints it.

--If this problem really has been caused because people are unable to pay their mortgages, as Bush claims, then why not give people $700 million to pay off their mortgages? This would help the public, not just financial executives, and recharge the entire housing market. I know, there are those who said these homeowners brought these problems on themselves and now must suffer the consequences of their indulgences. But why is that any less fair than just just handing the money over to Wall Street with no strings attached? A plan like this could not only keep people in their homes but help preserve entire neighborhoods (the value of adjoining homes decrease when homes in that neighborhood are foreclosed upon).

--The public doesn't want this plan to pass. That much has been made clear. And for once, I'm glad these representatives listened to their constituents and not just their campaign contributors.

--It's a plan that puts all the pain on American taxpayers and all the gain on the Wall Street fat cats whose greed caused these problems in the first place.

End of the line

Whoever would have thought just a couple of years ago that a football matchup between Florida State and Miami, Fla., would be meaningless? The two teams play each other this weekend. Yawn!

The big 12 is the conference of quarterbacks

All you need to know to prove this is that Texas Tech's record-setting quarterback is 20th in the nation in passing, yet ninth in the Big 12. David Johnson of Tulsa leads the nation in passing, but spots 2-5 all belong to Big 12 QBs, Colt McCoy of Texas (second), Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (third), Chase Daniel of Missouri (fourth) and Zac Robinson of Oklahoma State (fifth). Oh, and don't forget Josh Freeman of Kansas State (eighth in the nation) and Robert Griffin of Baylor (tenth). End of the debate.

Poll results (for what they're worth)

The latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has Democrat Barack Obama slightly widening his lead over Republican John McCain as a result of last Thursday's debate and surrounding events. The latest poll has Obama holding a 49-44 percent edge, which moves him out of the poll's 4 percent margin of error. His advantage the week before was 48-45 percent.

Other interesting results of the poll:
--46 percent who watched the debate said Obama came across as "more presidential" as compared to 33 percent for McCain
--43 percent said Obama had more "honesty and integrity" than his opponent, while 34 percent said that of McCain. The week before that category split with each candidate receiving 40 percent.
--46 percent said McCain's move to temporarily suspend his campaign last week was an example of "playing politics," while 36 percent said he was "acting for the good of the country."
--As for the debate itself, 34 percent called it a tie, 33 percent though Obama won and 29 percent thought McCain won.
--12 percent more of the respondents thought Obama would do a better job of handling the current financial crisis than thought McCain could.
--51 percent said Obama cared more "about people like you," while only 27 percent said the same about McCain.
--69 percent said they were confident, after the debate, that Obama could deal wisely with an international crisis, eight points higher than the week before. 76 percent said they were confident McCain could deal wisely with an international crisis, down three points from the week before.
--McCain has a 13 point edge over Obama on the question of which candidate would achieve success in Iraq, but that's down four percentage points from the week before.

On this date in

1789 The first U.S. Congress adjourned.

1829 The Metropolitan Police of London, later known as Scotland Yard, was founded.

1954 New York Giants centerfielder Willie Mays made "The Catch" at the Polo Grounds in Game 1 of the World Series.

1957 The New York Giants played their last game at the Polo Grounds.

1966 Chevrolet introduced the Camaro.

1988 The space shuttle Discovery was launched, the first manned space flight following the Challenger disaster.

2006 U.S. Rep. Mark Foley resigned.

Born on this date:
Author Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805)
Physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-1954)
Actress Greer Garson (1904-1996)
Actor-singer-businessman Gene Autry (1907-1998)
Actress Virginia Bruce (1910-1982)
Director Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007)
Actor Trevor Howard (1913-1988)
Director Stanley Kramer (1913-2001)
Actress Brenda Marshall (1915-1992)
Serial killer Fred West (1941-1995)
Actress Madeline Kahn (1942-1999)
Screenwriter Steve Tesich (1942-1996)

Time to play another what if college football game

I launched this exercise a couple of weeks ago with my first such college football scenario, but that one was almost insignifcant compared to today's edition.

There are still nine undefeated teams in the AP Top 10. But two thirds of them are members of either the Southeastern Conference or the Big 12, both of whom show an inclination to devour their young. Those two conferences are so tough it's difficult to imagine anyone going through their respective regular season and conference championship games and coming out the other side undefeated. The last two years a team from the SEC won the BCS championship game after making into the game by default. Last year, LSU won it with two losses on its record.

So for the sake of argument, let's assume in this what if game that somewhere, somehow during this long season each of those six teams -- Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Missouri, Texas and Texas Tech -- lose at least one game. There's a very high probability of that happening. No. 6-ranked Penn State still has road games it must play against Wisconsin and Ohio State, so it's not stretching it to say they won't finish undefeated.

That leaves us with two teams that have an excellent chance of running the table -- No. 8 Brigham Young and No. 10 South Florida. My question is how would the public feel if BYU and South Central played for the national championship while a one-loss Big 12 or SEC school was denied the opportunity? It could happen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

If I voted in the poll ...

Here's what my ballot for the Top 25 college football teams would look like this week:
1. Oklahoma (4-0)
2. Southern California (2-1)
3. Florida (3-1)
4. Penn State (5-0)
5. Alabama (5-0)
6. Texas (4-0)
7. BYU (4-0)
8. California (3-1)
9. Georgia Tech (3-1)
10. TCU (4-1)
11. Georgia (4-1)
12. Oregon (4-1)
13. Boise State (3-0)
14. Arizona (3-1)
15. Boston College (3-1)
16. Oklahoma State (4-0)
17. Texas Tech (4-0)
18. Oregon State (2-2)
19. LSU (4-0)
20. Wake Forest (3-1)
21. Wisconsin (3-1)
22. Michigan State (4-1)
23. Kentucky (4-0)
24. Virginia Tech (4-1)
25. Utah (5-0)

I'd like to use my lifeline

Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live last night with another dead-on treatment of GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin

War of the Words

Some widely divergent opinions in today's Los Angeles Times concerning what the Los Angeles Dodgers should do with Manny Ramirez, whose acquisition from the Red Sox right at the trade deadline propelled the Dodgers to first place in the NL West.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times says: "Acquiring Ramirez for prospects is already one of the best trades in Dodgers history.But if the Dodgers allow these two months to sucker them into signing him to the rich long-term deal he will demand, the trade will be one of their worst. For the long-term future of the organization, Manny Ramirez is not Mr. Right, he is only Mr. Right Now."

Ross Newhan, on the other hand, writes in the same edition: "It is indisputable: Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira helped drive the Dodgers and Angels into the playoffs, although the Angels were much farther along that road when Teixeira became another strong hand on the wheel. It is also indisputable, at least in this semi-retired view, that the Dodgers and Angels have to re-sign both players no matter the bailout-type cost or what they do in the playoffs, no matter the inherent risk (particularly of Manny-mania reverting to a disdainful Manny being Manny) or the sticker shock when season-ticket holders open their renewal letters."

On this date in

935 Saint Wenceslas was murdered.

1066 William the Conqueror began the Norman conquest of England.

1542 Portuguese navigator Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho arrived in what is now San Diego, Calif.

1781 American forces began the siege of Yorktown.

1787 Congress approved the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification.

1867 Toronto became the capital of Ontario.

1928 Biologist Alexander Fleming discovered a bacteria-killing mold that later became known as penicillin.

1939 Germany and Russia agree on a division of Poland.

1941 Ted Williams finished the baseball season with a batting average of .406, becoming the last player in major league history to finish a season with an average over .400.

1978 Pope John Paul I died 33 days after his papal election.

1989 Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos died.

1991 Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis died.

1994 The MS Estonia sank killing 852 people.

2000 Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau died.

Born on this date:
Philospher Confucius (551-479 BCE)
Inventor Thomas Crapper (1836-1910)
Politician Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929)
Sports official Avery Brundage (1887-1975)
Playwright Elmer Rice (1892-1967)
Radio and television executive William S. Paley (1901-1990)
Television show host Ed Sullivan (1901-1974)
Boxer Max Schmeling (1905-2005)
Cartoonist Al Capp (1909-1979)
Tennis player Alice Marble (1913-1990)
Actor Peter Finch (1919-1977)
Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon (1919-1990)
Actor Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996)

New movies to be released this week on DVD

Much better than the average week for DVD releases. No four-star films, but three releases with three and a half stars.

(click on title to see the trailer)

Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008) ***½ Christopher Bell’s first person documentary attempts to look beyond the hysteria and consider exactly how and why a culture that values physical power has internalized the idea that steroid use in sports is a scourge. Entertaining and informative.

Chapter 27 (2008) ** There’s virtually no context provided here, about John Lennon or the Beatles or New York or John David Chapman himself. To put it another way, the film’s entire context IS Chapman. From what I can tell, the film is generally accurate regarding the events of Dec. 8. But I got as much out of it as I did by looking up Chapman on Wikipedia. Except for Judah Friedlander’s earthy, funny work as a paparazzo, most of the performances are vague and dull, including Lindsay Lohan’s supporting turn as a fictional Beatles fan who befriends Chapman.

CSNY Deja Vu (2008) **½ What saves this from its self-importance is the surprisingly lively, timely and timeless music. The only dicey onstage moments involve Stephen Stills’ falling over or wheezing his way through "For What It’s Worth."

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) *** This film is so funny it may be beside the point to complain that, as in many Jud Apatow productions, the writing and direction are still in something of a state of arrested development.

Iron Man (2008) ***½ There are more compelling stories to be found in the comic book world, and there are more expressive directors than Jon Favreau. But on the bases of wit, verve, spirit and whiz-bangery, this film is pretty tough to find fault with. This is the rare comic-book movie that makes the prospect of a sequel seem like a promise instead of a threat.

Jellyfish (2008) *** Tightly constructed, cleverly stylized, serio-comic ensemble piece. Highly cinematic, with a mood of existential loneliness leavened by magical whimsy, its different story strands share themes including the need for affection and the struggle to communicate. Yes, the movie says, it’s a wonderful life, not in that old-fashioned style we’ve perhaps tired of but in a surprising new and magical way all its own.

Lou Reed’s Berlin (2008) *** Your enjoyment will hinge entirely on whether you think the Reed’s "Berlin" album is a masterpiece or a bore.

Taxi to the Dark Side (2008) ***½ The film quickly becomes one of the most powerful, carefully researched investigations of the moral-legal side effects of current American military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s terrifying in a way that sneaks up on you. So disturbing, on so many levels.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The winner of last night's Presidential debate was ... (Part II)

Barach Obama, according to this Associated Press story that said:

"Snapshot polls by both CNN and CBS News showed Obama with a clear advantage among voters in how people perceived the debate performance. CBS monitored a roomful of uncommitted voters and when asked who won the debate shortly after it was done, the number of people who raised their hands for Obama was more than double than those for McCain."

On this date in

1590 Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being chosen Pope, making his reign the shortest in Papal history.

1777 Lancaster, Pa., became the capital of the United States for one day.

1821 Mexico gained its independence from Spain.

1822 Jean-Francois Champollion announced he had deciphered the Rosetta Stone.

1903 In an accident that inspired a popular ballad, the "Old 97," a Southern Railway train, wrecked en route from Monroe, Va., to Spencer, N.C.

1905 Albert Enstein's paper, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon It's Energy Content?", which introduced the equation E = MC squared, was published.

1908 The first Ford Motel T was built.

1930 Bobby Jones won golf's Grand Slam.

1938 The ocean liner Queen Elizabeth was launched.

1954 "Tonight!" (the predecessor to "The Tonight Show") made its debut on NBC television with Steve Allen as the show's host.

1964 The Warren Commission issued a report that said Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John Kennedy.

1996 The Taliban captured Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul, drove out President Burhanuddin Rabbani and executed former leader Mohammad Najibullah.

1998 Google was launched.

1999 Tiger Stadium closed.

Born on this date:
Political leader Coismo de Midici (1389-1464)
Politician-statesman-brewer Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
Magician Harry Blackstone Sr. (1885-1965)
German pilot Lothar von Richthofen (1894-1922)
Politican Sam Ervin (1896-1985)
Author Jim Thompson (1906-1977)
Television producer William T. Orr (1917-2002)
Actor William Conrad (1920-1994)
Actor Will Sampson (1933-1987)
Actor Greg Morris (1933-1996)
Sports reporter Dick Schaap (1934-2001)
Photojournalist Dith Pran (1942-2008)

A tribute to Paul

While many will celebrate Paul Newman, who died of cancer yesterday at the age of 83, for his acting, I have long admired him for his humanitarian achievements and the fact that he and Joanne Woodward, an equally talented actor, remained married for more than 50 years in an industry where most marriages are lucky to last a year. In a Playboy interview he said of his fidelity "I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger." Yes, he was one of the most passionate students of his craft we have ever seen, but he was also a man who opened Hole in the Wall Gang summer camps for children with cancer and other serious illnesses, and used the sale of his salad dressing, popcorn, spaghetti sauce and other food items to donate more than $200 million to charity.

"If Marlon Brando and James Dean defined the defiant American male as a sullen rebel, Paul Newman recreated him as a likable renegade, a strikingly handsome figure of animal high spirits and blue-eyed candor whose magnetism was almost impossible to resist, whether the character was Hud, Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy," Aljean Harmetz wrote in the New York Times.

Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Steven Winn said: "In a performance career that spanned more than half a century, Mr. Newman played rogues and rascals that audiences couldn't resist, probed more deeply into roles he played in his 50s and went on to fashion a gallery of aging and emotionally complex characters in his 60s and 70s. Few American actors have made such a deep and sustained imprint."

Robert Redford, who of course starred with Newman in two immensely popular films, "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," said "There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life -- and this country -- is better for his being in it."
Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post wrote: "Nobody played shrewd better than Paul Newman. He became great playing shrewd."
I didn't care for Newman that much in the first two films in which I saw him, "The Silver Chalice" and "Somebody Up There Likes Me." I don't think anyone, even Newman, liked the former, but the latter is the film many think is the one in which he emerged as a real actor. To me, he chewed the scenery, he seemed to be trying too hard. The part of boxer Rocky Graziano was originally supposed to go to James Dean and I think I would have preferred Dean's more introspective approach to the part. Unfortunately, Dean died before the "Somebody" screenplay was even completed.
It was in Newman's next film, 1961's "The Hustler," in which he stood toe-to-toe with the likes of George C. Scott, Jackie Gleason and Piper Laurie, that convinced me of his talents. The way he slowly revealed the many layers of Fast Eddie Felson was simply mesmerizing.
It's interesting to watch such other great actors who came along after Newman, specifically Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, struggle to find worthwhile roles later in their careers. Compare that with Newman who, with his last on-screen performance in "Road to Perdition," walked away from the movies his own man on his own terms.
There is a scene in Martin Ritt's "Hud" in which Newman, playing the villainous title character who's so charismatic you have to embrace him, is attempting to seduce the family housekeeper played Patricia Neal. He lies on her bed, buries his nose in a daisy and leers at her "What else are you good at?"
No one ever had to ask Paul Newman that question.

Former UT quarterback Tebows Florida

This one is a bigger upset than Thursday night's Oregon State victory over USC. Former Texas Longhorns quarterback Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as Ole Miss stunned Florida and last year's Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow 31-30 in a game played in Florida's "Swamp."

Snead at one point committed to Florida, but then backed out when he learned the Gators were going after Tebow. So he went to Texas figuring he could beat out this small-town nobody named Colt McCoy as Texas' signal-caller. After not seeing much playing time during his freshman year, he asked for and was granted his release and transferred to Ole Miss.

It's interesting. I saw Snead once when he was in high school, in a thrilling Class 4-A state playoff semi-final game in which Highland Park quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Scots to a last-minute victory over Snead's Stephenville team. Stephenville had the game won and only needed to run out the clock, but, for some reason the Stephenville coaching staff called an ill-advised pass that Highland Park intercepted with under two minutes remaining. Stafford deftly led the Scots to the winning touchdown.

Unfortunately, although both Stafford (now Georgia's quarterback) and Snead are in the Southeastern Conference, it's doubtful they will square off against each other again on a college gridiron. Georgia and Ole Miss won't play each other in a regular season game until the 2010 season.

The winner of last night's Presidential debate was ...

... the undecided voter. I hate to sound Capraesque about this, but if you went into the debate favoring Republican John McCain, you undoubtedly felt he came out ahead, especially when the topic turned to foreign policy and he kept repeating variations on the phrase "What Mr. Obama doesn't understand ... "You undoubtedly forgave him for messing up the name of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or when he referred to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zaradri as Qadari. (However, I must admit his statement "The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean. A huge gulag" left me bewildered.)

If you went into the debate supporting Democrat Barack Obama you probably loved the way he seemed to hold his own during the foreign policy debate, where McCain was expected to have a huge advantage, and enjoyed the way he blamed the current financial crisis on programs initiated by President Bush and supported by McCain.

But if you went into the debate without having made up your mind which way you were going to vote, this debate presented a clear difference in the way these two candidates approach the issues the country is facing. It may not have persuaded you to vote one way or another yet -- that may come with future face-offs -- but there was little doubt where these candidates stood and, although they shared the same stage last night, they were not standing in the same spot. Sure, they repeated the same lines they've been using in their stump speeches but seeing the two of them saying these lines side by side was enlightening. Viewers could see that these two individuals would make very different Presidents, especially when it comes to taxes, spending, Iraq and Iran.

It was also clear that these individuals represented two entirely different generations. McCain made repeated references Ronald Reagan, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, whereas Obama promised voters a budget that could be examined by anyone on a "Google for government."

McCain was the more charming of the two, while Obama was more businesslike than his opponent. Obama was not warm or amusing, but he did come across as Presidential, which he needed to accomplish against a rival who wants to paint him as inexperienced. McCain needed to convince undecided voters that, although he has a product of the past, he has the chops to lead America into the future. It will be interesting to see if he succeeded in that.

To me, this debate signaled the actual start of this Presidential campaign. It will continue next Thursday night with the vice presidential debates.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Angela is against renaming Ross, but what about that Industrial option

City Council member Angela Hunt has come down hard against renaming Ross Avenue after Cesar Chavez, but after the City Plan Commision's decision yesterday involving Ross, that renaming didn't seem likely to happen anyway.

But I found her most recent blog entry more interesting for what she didn't say about Industrial than what she did say about Ross. I know I'm reading between the lines here, but my instinct tells me she might vote to rename Industrial after the farm labor leader. At least, she may be the fourth vote need to block the proposal to change the name of Industrial to the bland and inappropriate Riverfront Blvd., which the majority of the City Council wants to do. She blames the Council's Trinity River Corridor Committee, a group she should have been appointed to but was not because of her opposition to a toll road in the park, for the entire mess. Here's exactly what she had to say on this subject:

"This debate has also become unnecessarily divisive, when it didn't need to be. The blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the city. First of all, if the intent was to give Industrial Boulevard a "riveresque" moniker, the Trinity River Committee should have stated upfront that only such names would be considered. That would have eliminated this whole debate about Industrial being named after a person. Second, the Trinity River Committee made a mistake by approving (on Dwaine Caraway's motion, seconded by Elba Garcia) a public survey about proposed names for Industrial Boulevard (Mr. Rasansky voted against doing so, and I'm not on that committee). If the committee wasn't going to respect the outcome of the survey, or make it a legitimate vote with real ballots, then it shouldn't have taken a vote at all. There were already signs at that meeting that this was becoming a divisive issue, and at that point, the city should have nixed the public poll. "

What I infer from this is Ms. Hunt is saying "Ok, committe, you got yourself into this mess, you now need to live with the mess you got into." And if this is indeed what she is saying, then I absolutely agree -- 100 percent.

One man's statisical look at how Kidd helped the Mavs

I hope someone who is a lot more alert than I am right now can take a look at this and explain to me (very slowly) how in the hell you tabulate a team's "efficiency differential" or what a "Win Score per 48 minutes" means. Then, and only then, I may buy into this guy's theory that Jason Kidd really made the Mavericks a better team with him than without him last year. (See, I go by this unscientific won-loss record criteria, but that's old-fashioned me.)

Can't see the city manager for the Forest

For what it's worth, expect Dallas City Manager Mary Sum to tap Code Compliance Director Forest Turner to be an assistant city manager, replacing Interim ACM Chief David Brown. Actually Turner would be replacing one of my favorite individuals at City Hall, former assistant City Manager Charles Daniels. Brown was filling in while Ms. Suhm searched for a permanent replacement. It seems she has settled on Turner who has also served as director of Street Services and what is now called the Business Development & Procurement Department.

Look familiar

Anyone remember the 1964 LBJ-for-President television ad featuring the little girl with a daisy. If you do, this one will look eerily familiar.

Brolin's Bush

Word on the street has it that actor Josh Brolin has captured the essence of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's upcoming film "W" much the same way Philip Seymour Hoffman became Truman Capote, Jamie Foxx nailed Ray Charles or Joaquin Phoenix portrayed Johnny Cash. In fact, he is so good, some are urging the movie be promoted on the strength of Brolin's performance and not as another Stone political piece. Expect the film's studio, Lionsgate, to make a big push for Brolin to receive an Oscar nomination, especially since the DVD is scheduled to come out right around Oscar presentation time.

I can get you tickets near the choir, unobstructed view of the Ark

L'shana Tovah. (This courtesy of Pete's Place Florida correspondent)

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"

According to this report, the world is coming to an end more rapidly than anyone anticipated. The report said the output of man-made carbon dioxide increased 3 percent between 2006 and 2007, which is higher than what leading scientists have referred to as the "worst-case scenario." One scientist forecast this increase would raise global temperatures by more than 11 degrees. An increase of only 3.2 to 9.7 degrees "could trigger massive environmental changes, including melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers and summer sea ice in the Arctic." The only positive I can see out of this is that we may soon be able to purchase beachfront property in Dallas.

Ramblin' with Sarah

The GOP vice presidential nominee did not acquit herself too well last night in an interview with Katie Couric on CBS television.

When Couric asked her if President Bush's bailout should be directed more toward Main Street than Wall Street, Palin replied:

"That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in . . . where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh -- it's got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that."

Got that?

When she was asked how Alaska's proximity to Russia made her equipped to handle foreign relations issues, she said:

"We have trade missions back and forth. We, we do, it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to, to our state."

Sure. Fine. Whatever.

On this date in

1580 Francis Drake completed his voyage around the world.

1789 Thomas Jefferson was appointed the country's first Secretary of State and John Jay was appointed its first Chief Justice.

1872 The first Shriners temple eas established.

1914 The Federal Trade Commission was established.

1934 The ocean liner Queen Mary was launched.

1957 The musical "West Side Story" had its Broadway premiere.

1960 The first televised Presidential debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

1969 The Beatles album "Abbey Road" was released.

1973 The Concorde makes its first non-stop Atlantic crossing.

1981 Nolan Ryan sets a baseball record by throwing his fifth no-hitter.

1996 Richard Allen Davis was sentenced to death in California.

Born on this date:
Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
Johnny Appleseed (1774-1847)
Actor Edmund Gwenn (1875-1959)
Texas writer J. Frank Dobie (1888-1964)
Poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Actor George Raft (1895-1980)
Composer George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Gangster Albert Anastasia (1902-1957)
Actor Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996)
Singer Marty Robbins (1925-1982)
Singer Julie London (1926-2000)

Reason 428 I stay away from Vegas

Four days ago, right here on ths blog, I carefully composed these words predicting the outcome of the current college football season: "I think USC will run the table and finish No. 1." Whoops!

McCain's really blowing it this time

Republican Presidential nominee John McCain is squandering his opportunity to display real leadership. McCain announced a couple of days ago he was suspending his campaign because the country's financial crisis was more important than partisan Presidential politics. As it turns out, he's playing partisan politics at its worst.

Here's the way the scenario should have unfolded for him. McCain should have flown to Washington, summoned Republican congress members about him and instructed them "Here's what we're going to do." Then he could have waltzed into the White House, told President Bush and the American people he had single handedly saved the United States from financial ruin and gone on to win the election in a landslide.

Instead, he pandered to the far right wing of his party -- that group he sucked up by naming the unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate -- and sat there quietly while they successfully derailed Bush's bailout plan. C'mon, John, if you're going to try to convince us you're suspending your Presidential campaign for the good of the nation than you've got to do a whole lot better than this.

Democratic nominee Barack Obama who stood to lose a lot for putting politics ahead of solving the financial crisis actually came out looking far more the statesman than McCain when Obama said of the failed negotiations: “What I’ve found, and I think it was confirmed today, is that when you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, it’s not necessarily as helpful as it needs to be. ... When you’re not worrying about who’s getting credit, or who’s getting blamed, then things tend to move forward a little more constructively.”

And speaking of the bailout plan, I have a major problem with a proposal that only helps Wall Street bankers and does absolutely nothing to help homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Afterall, it was the downward-spiraling mortgage situation that caused Washington Mutual to fold yesterday. I could argue that the government has more of a responsibility to help the average American homeowner than it does to the bankers on Wall Street, but I'm just once voice shouting into the wind.

Barack bending the truth as well

I've pointed out instances in which I felt GOP Presidential nominee John McCain has been misleading and downright incorrect in his attacks against his Democratic opponent Barack Obama. But now it's Obama that's going to the darkside in a series of ads that misrepresent McCain's record and stance on certain issues.

An Obama radio advertisement currently running in Wisconsin says McCain "has stood in the way" of federal funding for stem cell research. Wrong. McCain voted against it once, but since 2001 he has consistently opposed President Bush by supporting the funding. It's his running mate, Sarah Palin, who doesn't support it. An Obama ad in Virginia mistakenly says McCain supports tax cuts only for oil companies, when, in truth, his corporate tax break plan covers all companies. Obama has also released ads that misrepresent McCain's positions on Social Security and immigration reform.

This is another reason, however, why it was wrong of McCain to try to cancel tonight's Presidential debates. American voters deserve to hear from the candidates themselves and not form their views from the misleading and false advertising emanating from both camps.

UPDATE: As of this afternoon, the debate is on. (Yeah!) It can be seen beginning about 8 p.m. on the four major television networks, PBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and BBC America.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Barefoot profile

Lawyer-writer Mark Donald has crafted a wonderful tribute to the late Barefoot Sanders. And some day I'll tell the story about how Judge Sanders added to My Hero's legacy.

Now this is what I call early voting

In parts of Georgia, voting for President began last week. In Iowa, voters can go the their county auditor's office and cast their votes for President beginning today. Voting opens next Tuesday in the crucial battleground state of Ohio.

I mean why wait for the debates and all that. Let's settle this matter right here, right now.

On this date in

1066 The Battle of Stamford Bridge ended the Viking invasion of England.

1513 Standing on a peak in what is now Panama, Vasco Nunez de Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the New World.

1789 Congress passed 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. However, only 10 of them (the Bill of Rights) were ratified. The other two were the Congressional Apportionment Amendment and Congressional Compensation Amendment, which was eventually ratified as the 27th amendment 202 years later.

1906 Leonardo Torres Quevedo demonstrated a device that is credited with being the birth of remote control.

1911 Ground was broken for Boston's Fenway Park.

1912 The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism was founded.

1957 Central High School in Little Rock was integrated.

1978 144 people were killed when a Pacific Southwest Airlines Boeing 727 collided with a private plane over San Diego, Calif.

1981 Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in as the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

2003 Writer George Plimpton died.

Born on this date

Mutineer Fletcher Christian (1764-1793)

Author William Faulkner (1897-1962)

Director Robert Bresson (1901-1999)

Sports columnist Red Smith (1905-1982)

Composer Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Ethel Rosenberg, executed after being found guilty of espionage (1918-1953)

Baseball player and sportscaster Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007)

Baseball player Johnny Sain (1917-2006)

Actor Aldo Ray (1926-1991)

Humorist Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

Pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982)

Dancer-actress Juliet Prowse (1936-1996)

Actor Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

Where have all the leaders gone?

I have refrained from commenting on the national financial crisis and bailout plans until now because, frankly, I really had no idea of what caused them and/or what could fix them. The reason I am commenting now is because I am worried that no one in charge has any idea either.

President Bush's address last night did absolutely nothing to reassure me. Basically he said, "Trust me, my bailout plan will work and it must be passed immediately." Kinda reminded me of when he said "Trust me, invading Iraq will quickly end the war on terror." What Bush said was that we taxpayers were going to have to shell out $700 billion to fix a problem without much oversight from Congress or the judiciary. That's scary. He said he would protect taxpayers, but he didn't say how. Again, it was little more than "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." My problem is I'm not sure he does know, especially when I fear his penchant for deregulation and his massive tax cuts for the businesses and the leaders of those businesses that now need a bailout seemed to have precipated much of this mess.

The other thing that worries me is that I am not that convinced that help is on the horizon. Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama have come up with any viable solutions either. Mr. Obama has come closer. At least he is calling for more regulation of the financial industry and that the only way we are going to ever get out of this financial hole we have dug for ourselves is for the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. But just when I think Obama is about to announce a complete recovery plan, he stops.

McCain, on the other hand, hasn't offered any idea on how taxpayers will recover the bailout money and his continued favoring of tax cuts for the wealthy dooms future generations with the burdon of these deficits. What's worse is that just when Americans need to see for themselves which candidate could best lead us out of this mess, McCain has suggested postponing the debates that will help us make those kind of decisions.

One person has, however, come forward. Check it out.

The value of Joe Torre

Hmm. Last year Joe Torre left as manager of the New York Yankees, forced out by the team's ownership, but quickly landed a job as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And whaddya know -- two days ago the Yankees are eliminated from post-season play for the first time in more than a dozen years and yesterday the Dodgers clinch a tie for their first National League West championship in four years. Coincidence? I think not.

This time he's going to channel Jay Silverheels

The Disney Company sponsored a day-long showcase of its upcoming films yesterday that included the announcement that one of those films will be a remake of "The Lone Ranger" with Johnny Depp as Tonto. It also revealed Depp and director Tom Burton will team up one more time for a version of "Alice in Wonderland" with Depp as the Mad Hatter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why does McCain want a time out?

John McCain's suggestion that the presidential campaign be suspended so that he could return to Washington to deal with the financial crisis is a campaign move in and of itself.

Why does Sen. McCain, who has not cast one single vote in the Senate since April 9, a senator who has missed more votes this session than any other senator but Tim Johnson, who had brain surgery, suddenly feel the need to vote now? What wisdom can McCain, who admitted yesterday he had not even read President Bush's three-page bailout proposal, add to the debate?

I think the answer lies in another story that I ran across just a few minutes ago. According to the conservative leaning Los Angeles Times poll, Barack Obama has recovered from the Palin announcement to open up a four point lead over McCain. I think McCain sees his campaign going in the wrong direction and that's why he is calling a time out.

I would like to remind the GOP presidential nominee that President Bush took time out from running the country to debate John Kerry four years ago. Enough said.

Update: David Letterman really let McCain have it for cancelling his appearance on Letterman's television show saying it was because he was suspending his campaign. Letterman said he smelled a rat, in so many words. You can see it for yourself right here.

Pulp Muppets

Get ready. This movie is coming soon to a theater near you.

Putting Cesar Chavez Boulevard in perspective

Received an e-mail today from my favorite anarchistic bluegrass band, the Austin Lounge Lizards, informing me they are participating in an event at Austin's City Hall. Here's the sentence in the e-mail that really grabbed my attention: "It appears that we'll be playing at 6 PM on Monday, September 29, at the outdoor stage below City Hall on Cesar Chavez Boulevard."

I translate that to mean the city of Austin has absolutely no qualms about renaming the street that runs in front of City Hall Cesar Chavez Boulevard, but Dallas lacks the courage to name a prominent street for the labor leader. Wait a minute. That's it. Let's change the name Marilla Street or even Young Street to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

Idaho fans order cheerleaders to get dressed

Idaho started off its current college football season losing to Arizona 70-0. That's right, 70-0. Then, after a 15-point win against AA Idaho State, the Vandals have lost to Western Michigan 51-28 and Utah State 42-17. Translated: In their three losses, Idaho has been outscored 163-45. And the Idaho fans are mad.

Not mad at the football team, mind you, but at the school's cheerleaders, specifically their "skimpy" outfits. According to Idaho's Dean of Students Bruce Pitman "A number of fans were concerned that the uniforms were inappropriate." You can judge for yourself here, here and here. OK, maybe they are a little bit more revealing than the outfits worn by these girls or these girls and definitely more than these cheerleaders, but I'm not sure they're up there with this, this, this, this or this one who looks more like a Florida Atlantic cheerleader bobblehead doll than a cheerleader for the school.

Idaho has ordered new outfits for the cheerleaders, but in the meantime this is what they wore last week.

Can a student trespass on school property during a public event?

Hooray for the Lewisville School District for dropping the criminal charges against two Flower Mound High School students who pulled a prank during a football game last week. I don't understand, however, why they were even arrested in the first place. Why wasn't discipline handled exclusively by school personnel? And what gets me is the quote from one Karen Permetti, identified only as a "spokeswoman for the school district," who said the students should have been charged with "trespassing on school property." Huh? How could they be singled out for trespassing on school property" and not the football players, the bands, the drill teams and every single person, especially those non-students, who attended the game?

Rapist can't be charged for attack on 12-year-old

The Dallas Morning News has a chilling story today about a man who raped a 12-year-old girl at knifepoint but can't be charged with the crime because the statute of limitations on the case has expired. The man in question, Dewayne Douglas Willis, will complete a prison sentence on unrelated charges of theft and burglary next week. I would advise him to watch his back when we walks out of prison.

On this date in

622 Muhammad and his flowers completed their Hijira from Mecca to Medina.

1789 Congress passed an act establishing the federal court system and the number of Supreme Court Justices.

1869 Gold prices plummet on what became known as Black Friday.

1890 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy.

1906 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the nation's first national monument.

1948 The Honda motor company was founded.

1957 The Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field.

1960 The USS Enterprise, the nation's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, was launched.

1968 "60 Minutes" premiered on CBS television.

1976 Patricia Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison for bank robbery.

1991 Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) died.

1996 President Clinton and the world's other nuclear powers signed a treaty ending the testing and development of nuclear weapons.

Born on this date
Irish brewer Sir Arthur Guinness (1725-1803)
Supreme Court Justice John Marshall (1755-1835)
Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Actor Don Porter (1912-1997)
Sportscaster Jim McKay (1921-2008)
Singer-Actor Anthony Newley (1931-1999)
Puppeteer Jim Henson (1936-1990)
Photographer-musician Linda McCartney (1941-1998)
Actor Phil Hartman (1948-1998)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It won't be long now

The Mavericks start two-a-days a week from today. That's right. The season is just around the corner. The players gather for physicals on Saturday and Monday is media day which is a day Josh Howard might want to avoid. The first preseason game is Oct. 7 here against Washington.

All workouts will be held at the new Crum Basketball Center at SMU.

And what are the title chances for the Mavs this year? Not good, says I. But the real experts are the Vegas oddsmakers which lists the Mavs chances at 20-1 (ouch!). Houston is 6-1 and the Spurs are 5-1. The betting favorites, incidentally, are not the Celtics, which I would have expected (them being the defending champions and all), but the Lakers at 5-2. The Celtics are next at 7-2.

At least we have good water

Dallas city government is making a big deal about how it's going "green." The campaign even has its own Web site, which touts "Green is new building standard in Dallas" and offers the top five tips on "How you can go green." I mean, this is a real PR effort.

And how are we doing in our green efforts? Well, according to this report, not so hot. We're No. 24 among major cities in the country, exactly the same place we were last year (the reports describes Dallas as "treading water.") The category in which Dallas ranked the highest (you can check our rankings in all the categories on the accompanying chart) was City Innovation where we ranked 12th, largely I'm guessing because of above mentioned Green Building Standards, and Tap Water Quality where Dallas placed 14th. But even here, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington finished ahead of us.

Where we ranked worst (48th out 50) was in the category of Local Food & Agriculture, which means growing our own so we're not dependent on food shipped in vehicles burning fossil fuels. We're also not doing so well in solid waste diversion (getting waste to recycling, green waste and composting programs), where we finished at No. 42, but I blame that on those City Council idiots who are thwarting superb efforts by the city to expand its recycling program. San Francisco leads the way with an astounding 69 percent diversion rate. Even New York City, for heavens sake, has a 64 percent diversion rate, according to the study.

The city's green Web site claims the green construction ordinance passed by the city council back in April "adds to the city's record of being an environmental leader." And it quotes Mayor Tom as saying "We're at the lead of major cities in this country."

Unfortunately, the report doesn't see it the same way. It ranks Dallas 21st in the Green Building category, behind, among others, Austin (9th) and Houston (11th). I guess the study wants to see some of these green buildings actually built and not just talked about. Picky. Picky. Picky.

Prez moving to mountains outside of Dallas

You just gotta read this "exclusive" from New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams who reveals that George and Laura are going to move in four months to "a town outside Dallas called Preston Hollow, one of the wealthiest areas in the oil-rich state of Texas" where "Houses come with horse stables, lake views, mountain views, golf club views."

She concludes her "scoop" by saying: "So far this is - or was - top secret around Dallas." Which is probably why I don't know about the mountains or that Preston Hollow is actually a town outside Dallas.

Gov. Perry's views on global warming leaves Texas out of initiative

In a speech a couple of weeks ago in California, Texas Gov. Rick Perry had this to say about global warming:

"I've heard Al Gore talk about man-made global warming so much that I'm starting to think that his mouth is the leading source of all that supposedly deadly carbon dioxide. Virtually every day another scientist leaves the global warming bandwagon. ... But you won't read about that in the press because they have already invested in one side of the story. I'm not saying we shouldn't be good stewards of our environment. We should. I am just saying when politics hijack science, it quells true scientific debate and can have dire consequences for our future."

Perry's policy analyst Zak Covar said Perry doesn't believe global warming is "an issue," and when Covar was asked to back up the statement about scientists leaving "the global warming bandwagon," he listed two dozen recent articles, none of which mentioned any scientists.

It's no wonder then Texas wasn't one of the seven western states that joined with four Canadian provinces in a sweeping plan announced today to reduce global warming emissions. The states represent 20 percent of the U.S. economy and the provinces represent 73 percent of Canada's economy. The plan would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels during the next 12 years. The seven states are Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah. The provinces are British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

What do you get if you mix politics and Rosh Hashana?

Netflix signs deal with CBS, Disney

According to this story in the Wall Street Journal, Netflix has signed a deal with two television networks, CBS and Disney, that will allow viewers to watch on-line such programs as "C.S.I." and "Hannah Montana" beginning the day after they premiere on the networks. The deal is apparently part of a strategy by Netflix to transition from a company that delivers movies and television programs by mail to one that delivers them on-line. Before the end of the year, owners of of an Xbox 360 will get to use that device to play videos over the Internet from Netflix. Netflix currently has 12,000 titles available on-line and more than 100,000 available by mail. Oh, yes, the TV programs will come without commercials.

Two Texas Monthly covers make ASME finals

Texas Monthly is a finalist in two separate categories for the third annual Best Cover contest sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Texas Monthly's May cover of Willie Nelson will go against Latina and T: The NYT Style Magazine for the best celebrity cover. Its June cover on the 50 best barbecue joints in Texas is a finalist in the Personal Service Cover category and is up against New York and Wired.

On this date in

1642 The first commencement exercises were held at Harvard College.

1845 The New York Knickerbockers baseball team was formed.

1846 German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle became the first person to observe Neptune and recognize it as a planet.

1889 The Nintendo company was founded; journalist Walter Lippmann was born.

1932 Hejaz and Nejd merged and became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

1939 Sigmund Freud died.

1952 Richard Nixon made his "Checkers" speech.

1962 The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened in New York City.

1969 The trial of the Chicago Eight began in Chicago.

1972 Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared matial law.

1973 Juan Peron returned to power in Argentina.

1987 Director-choreographer Bob Fosse died.

Born on this date
480 BCE Greek playwright Euripides
63 BCE Roman emperor Augustus Caesar
1215 Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler who founded the Yuan Dynasty
1869 Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary)
1897 Actor Walter Pidgeon.
1926 Saxaphonist John Coltrane
1930 Musician Ray Charles
1938 Actress Romy Schneider
1939 Guitarist Roy Buchanan.

Islands are disappearing along the Gulf Coast

A team of National Geographic researchers flew along the Texas and Louisiana coasts following hurricanes Gustav and Ike and filed this audio-visual report on the islands that have literally disappeared as the result of the storms. The final shot in the most interesting to me. It shows Galveston and, although at first glance it appears to have weathered Ike, a closer look reveals the beach is gone.

Monday, September 22, 2008

On this date in

1499 Switzerland became an independent state.

1515 Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII, was born.

1761 George III was coronated King of England.

1776 Nathan Hale was hanged for spying.

1789 The position of United States Postmaster General was established.

1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

1885 Actor Erich von Stroheim was born.

1888 The first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published.

1895 Actor Paul Muni was born.

1896 Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather, King George III (see 1761 above) as the longest reigning monarch in British history.

1902 Actor-producer John Houseman was born.

1903 Crime figure Joseph Valachi was born.

1912 Actress Martha Scott was born.

1920 Hall of Fame baseball player Bob Lemon was born.

1927 Gene Tunney retained his heavyweight boxing championship by defeating Jack Dempsey in a bout made famous by a long count during a knockdown.

1951 NBC televized the first live sporting event seen from coast-to-coast, a college football game between Duke and Pittsburgh.

1964 "Fiddler on the Roof" opened on Broadway.

1975 Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Ford.

1989 Songwriter Irving Berlin died.

1991 The Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to the public for the first time.

1999 Actor George C. Scott died.

2001 Violinist Isaac Stern died.

2007 Mime Marcel Marceau died.

SEC may need another miracle

The Southeast Conference has produced the last two national collegiate football champions, Florida two years ago and LSU last year. One should not forget, however, that both of those teams needed major breaks to get into the championship game. Two years ago, Florida got in because UCLA stunningly upset USC in their final regular season game. Last year, a two-loss LSU team made it to the big game only because Pittsburgh knocked off undefeated West Virginia and Oklahoma dumped undefeated Missouri at the end of the season.

Right now, the SEC has the third (Georgia), fourth (Florida) and fifth (LSU)-ranked teams in the country. But the chances of any of these teams getting to one of the top two places seem real dicey to me right now. I think USC will run the table and finish No. 1. Second-ranked Oklahoma has a tougher schedule, but if it just loses once (their toughest opponents are Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas and the latter two, in my mind, are terribly overrated) and win the Big 12 title game against another overrated team, Missouri, they could still finish ahead of the SEC teams that must battle each other and then play in a conference title game. Florida, which still has to play Georgia and LSU, has the easiest schedule, but I can't see the Gators going undefeated.

Of course, it not only depends on how many games you lose, but when you lose those games. If Oklahoma, for example, loses a regular season game and then easily handles Missouri in the conference championship game, it will finish higher in the rankings than a Florida team that could complete the regular season undefeated and then lose to, say, Auburn, in its conference title game.

What all this means is that although the SEC is, without question, the best conference in college football, it may have trouble getting a team into the BCS championship unless either USC or Oklahoma loses twice and I can't see either of those teams losing two this year.

Some observations after three NFL weekends

1. There is absolutely no debate on this: The NFC East is the best division in the NFL. The only losses by teams in this division have been to other teams in this division. And, after last night's convincing win at Green Bay, there should be no question that the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL's best division.

2. Without Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are an ordinary football team. Brady's short passing game was effective because opposing defenses knew he also had the ability to throw downfield. Substitute quarterback Matt Cassel doesn't possess the same wide-open capabilities of his predecessor. And if an other ordinary team like Miami can defeat the Patriots on their own field by 25 points, things don't look good for the Pats. First place in the AFC East right now belongs to the Buffalo Bills, 3-0, and it's the first time the Pats haven't been in or shared first place since fourth week of the 2005 season.

3. The state of Ohio is 0-6 so far this season, but the winless streak ends this week. I guarantee either Cleveland or Cincinnati will win a game next week. I absolutely guarantee it. The only question is who is going to be quarterbacking Cleveland, ineffective Derek Anderson or untested Brady Quinn.

4. Mike Martz got the last laugh. Detroit's Matt Millen, the most inept general manager in the NFL, fired offensive coordinator Martz last year because Millen didn't like Martz's pass-oriented style. This year Martz is the offensive coordinator for San Francisco and yesterday, when the 49ers whipped the hapless Lions 31-13, Martz got a level of revenge by calling 39 running plays.

A jury call that was too close for comfort

My one experience with Dallas federal judge Barefoot Sanders, who died yesterday, came when I received a jury summons to serve on a federal grand jury some 25 years ago. I knew nothing about federal grand juries but when I arrived at the appointed time and place and heard Judge Sanders explain the process to all of us, I knew I didn't want to be serving on one.

First of all, we gathered in this auditorium in the federal building and the roll was called. It was easy to see it was alphabetical. Then we were given the opportunity for a quick break, after which we re-assembled and the roll was called again. Then Judge Sanders appeared and explained what this jury duty was all about: A federal grand jury consisted of 24 persons, at least 18 of whom met once a month for a week, three days in Dallas and two in Fort Worth. You served on the jury for 18 months. That meant, if you were selected, for the next year and a half you were committed to spending one week of every month away from your primary place of employment. Not only that, grand juries didn't do anything but indict folks and federal grand juries didn't get to hear juicy, headline grabbing criminal events, but mostly white-color-type crimes. Of course there could be the occasional racketeering charges that came before this body, but mostly it was pretty boring stuff.

After Judge Sanders explained all this he asked if there were any police officers, fire fighters or teachers in the crowd. Approximately a half-dozen individuals raised their hands. He told those individuals they were dismissed. He then asked if there was anyone else in the room who felt they had legitimate reasons for not being able to serve on the grand jury. I racked my brain trying to come up with one, but I couldn't. About a dozen did, however, and they made a beeline to the bench to whisper their objections to the judge. He apparently rejected every single one of them, because all 12 returned to their seats in the auditorium. Then we got another break.

When we returned, the roll was called again and by this time I had learned the names of the three or four people who immediately preceded mine so I would know to be alert at about the time my name would be called. Then Judge Sanders returned and announced he was going to name the people who would serve on the grand jury. Wait, I thought! No questioning of prospective jurors? No determining if they had pre-conceived biases of any sort? Nothing to determine if they could even read or write? Nope. What's more, he just started reading off the roll list again. My heart was pounding as each name was read. Mentally, I tried to calculate if there were more than 24 names before mine. But, dammit, I couldn't remember. Then came one of the names I remembered. It started with a N. Then came another. My breathing was heavier. Then, he stopped, two names before mine.

"Those are the members of this session of the federal grand jury," Judge Sanders said.

It took a few moments for my breathing to return to normal, for my body to stop shaking. But, when I recovered, I gathered the reading material I had brought with me to pass the idle time and quickly left the auditorium.

I was never in the same room with the legendary judge again.

City Council committee to hear briefings on LBJ toll lanes and people mover at Love Field

The Dallas City Council's Transportation and Environment Committee is expected to hear a couple of interesting briefings today that could have long-range effects on how we commute, especially on LBJ and to Love Field. This briefing involves managed lanes on LBJ and this one discusses a self-propelled people mover that connects the DART rail station west of Love Field to the airport's terminal.

I wish I could tell you exactly when these briefings will occur, but the City's Web site lists two committee meetings, this one and the Quality of Life Committee both meeting at noon today (or perhaps midnight, since the actual time listed is 12 a.m., but I'm guessing this means noon).

The LBJ briefing talks about hiring a private firm to construct six managed toll lanes beneath LBJ so that it would become a cantilevered eight-lane freeway from approximately Greenville Avenue on the east to almost Luna road on the West and south on I-35E to the Loop 12 fork. Managed toll lanes, according to the briefing, are "lanes where traffic is kept moving at a faster more reliable speed (at least 50 miles an hour) by adjusting the toll rate up and down as the number of vehicles increase or decrease." Vehicles with just one person in it would pay the full toll, those with two or more would be pay half the toll.

The Love Field people mover would take DART passengers on the proposed Green Line from the DART station on Denton Road over that road and then tunnel under the airport itself to the main terminal. The people mover would be similar to those used to shuttle passengers around airports like DFW. The briefing estimates it could take six years to complete the project at a construction cost of up to $330 million in 2010 dollars and $4.8 million annually to operate it. These costs, according to the briefing, would come from something called a Passenger Facility Charge, which, I'm guessing, means that the price of airline tickets in and out of Love Field will go up.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

If I voted in the poll ...

My college football Top 25 ballot would look like this:
1. Oklahoma (3-0)
2. Southern California (2-0)
3. Florida (3-0)
4. Penn State (4-0)
5. LSU (3-0)
6. Alabama (4-0)
7. Georgia (4-0)
8. BYU (4-0)
9. Texas (3-0)
10. TCU (4-0)
11. Wake Forest (3-0)
12. California (2-1)
13. Ohio State (3-1)
14. Boston College (2-1)
15. Wisconsin (3-0)
16. Auburn (3-1)
17. Oregon (3-1)
18. Georgia Tech (3-1)
19. Utah (4-0)
20. Texas Tech (4-0)
21. Virginia Tech (3-1)
22. Arizona (3-1)
23. Iowa (3-1)
24. Boise State (3-0)
25. Missouri (4-0)

New movies to be released this week on DVD

(Click on title to view the trailer)
Deception (2008) * A throwback to the erotic thrillers of the ‘80s and ‘90s — you’d swear Michael Douglas or Demi Moore were going to show up any minute — this movie would be laughably bad if it weren’t so rotely inert.

The Foot Fist Way (2008) **½ This film was reportedly shot in 19 days, a revelation that’s hardly surprising. The film’s overall lack of polish provides a certain anti-Hollywood charm, but it also underscores the fact that a film needs more than humble roots to be special. It’s more amusing than not, but some scenes outlast the humor in them.

Leatherheads (2008) ** This is not that good a movie, and yet it would be hard to enjoy saying anything nasty about it. Imagine a really nice, jolly, genial person with a mild, intermittent hygiene problem. This movie is a little like that. It exudes goodwill and high spirits, occasionally makes you feel really good, and yet here and there and in some definite ways, it kinda sorta stinks.

Mother of Tears (2008) ** Director Dario Argento is admired for his voluptuous use of color and his operatic bloodletting; this is lovely to look at, if you can stand to.

Pathology (2008) ** Like its characters, the picture is too clever for its own good, allowing the meticulously researched scenario about hotshot morgue interns who kill degenerates just for the sport of it to be undone by implausible behavior and gaping plot holes.

Run, Fat Boy, Run (2008) **½ The humor tends toward the mildly crass — bare buttocks and inappropriate scratching are director David Schwimmer’s go-to comedy staples — and the story is ridiculous. But Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script, plays to his strengths. You can’t help but root for the loser.

Sex and the City (2008) ** If this fabulously decked-out foursome is self-absorbed enough to be inadvertently cruel on occasion, they also suffer lots of guilt — though their angst is rendered somewhat less angsty for viewers by the zingers, the designers, and the cheerfully objectified men on display.