Saturday, September 16, 2006

USC - University of Sports Cash

One thing I really enjoy is good hypocrisy. Recently, the folks at Yahoo Sports ran a story detailing some indescretions by former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush, now a player for the NFL's New Orleans Saints.
The story went into some detail about Reggie allegedly (there's that word again) accepting gifts from agents. The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, forbids athletes from accepting gifts of cash or material from anyone, lest their golden image be tarnished. The story went like this:

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush insisted Friday he and his family have done nothing wrong, responding to allegations that they accepted gifts, money and other benefits worth more than $100,000 from two marketing agents during his career at Southern California.
"I'm not worried about any of these allegations or anything like that, because I know what the truth is, like I said from day one," Bush said after a Saints practice. "Once the smoke clears, everybody's going to see we did nothing wrong." reported Thursday that Michael Michaels, a marketing agency investor who wanted to represent the Heisman Trophy winner, and current Bush marketing agent Mike Ornstein supplied Bush and his family with gifts while he was still at USC.

You're right, Reggie. You did nothing wrong, but not for the reasons you may think. The hypocrisy is that USC granted you a full scholarship, which, according to their web site, breaks down costs as follows:

Undergraduate Estimate of Costs

Based on the 2006-2007 academic year, the following are estimated two-semester costs at USC for a full-time undergraduate living in university housing:

  • $33,892 Tuition and fees (12-18 units for two semesters)
  • $10,144 Room and board
  • $750 Books and supplies
  • $1,600 Personal and Miscellaneous
  • $580 Transportation
  • $46,966 Total (add $140 for your very first semester at USC orientation fee)
That's a lot of money to go to USC. If Reggie accepted $100,000 from a couple of marketing agents, it pales in comparison to what he accepted from USC to help them market the school. It's time we stopped goofing around with this nonsense and accepted these kids for what they are...

...unpaid advertising for the schools for which they play a sport. You accepted a gift, but the gift was the education you received from USC. While it's true that you may never need it, the fact is that it was given to you. If the school fails to realize that you were given a gift, then the education they provide isn't worth what they're charging. After all, regular students who do nothing but go to class and graduate would not like to hear that the NCAA doesn't value their education as much as they do a gift from a marketing agent.
That $100,000 is a small fraction of what you will earn marketing such things as shoes, eyewear and Trojan condoms.

It's about time the NCAA stopped the nonsense surrounding pay for student athletes. Mostly, it makes kids look like criminals for doing something as petty as accepting a suit of clothes from an alumni booster. The NCAA and the schools get much more than that from the athletes and never have to answer for it.

Failure to recognize the cost of attending school cheapens the educational experience, and isn't that what college is supposed to provide?

Saturday from Space

Here's a photo of the earth taken from space. It's a familar location, and if you've been there, I'm sure you were impressed. Take a guess in the comments section and check back to see if you're right.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The NFL - Our 51st State

The National Football League is moving closer to world domination every day. Forget about the crisis in the Middle East and the threat of terrorism, the real threat to our way of life is coming from the NFL.
The top-rated TV show last week was Sunday night's Manning vs. Manning match-up on NBC, with 15,730,000 viewers nationwide. Seven of the top 20 programs last week were NFL games or pre-games.
There is an entire network devoted to the games, called appropriately, the NFL Network. Hey, nobody said they were creative geniuses, just bent on world domination.
There are games on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday. This Thanksgiving there are 3 games on, instead of the usual 2, because you can't have a holiday without 24-hour football.
Tuesday at 10am, the Philadelphia Eagles drove another nail into my cynical coffin. They placed on sale an additional 1,500 seats for each home game. Eagles games are sold-out, and season tickets are harder to come by than Elton John's girlfriends. Seriously, there is a 50,000 person waiting list to get them, so figure out how many people have to die for someone to get to #1 on the list. If I was a security guard looking for terrorists, I'd check the 50,000th guy on the waiting list and check his house for anthrax. One good dose would wipe out a lot of the fans ahead of him on the list - but I shouldn't give him any ideas.

Two interesting things about the additional tickets:
1 - They were standing-room tickets, which means you would have to find your own spot and hope that you were taller than the guy in front of you.
2 - They were priced at $50 each. To stand. For the record, that meant an extra $600,000 in ticket revenue for the team (12,000 tickets x $50), and they did nothing but provide a ticket. No seat, no luxury box ... only the priviledge of attending the game and the work of finding a place to stand. Suckers. I'll watch the game on TV - seated.

Even more interestingly (3), the tickets sold out quickly - 7 minutes, according to reports, and several scalping web sites had the tickets for sale 4 hours before they were available - for $185 each. Go figure. After all that, what motivation does the team have to (God forbid) maintain the price of tickets (or even lower them) if they know that people will overpay for them? For that matter, why even have seats?

TICKET MANAGER: Did you see the prices of those standing room tickets?
OWNER: Yes. Strange, isn't it? People will pay even if they don't have a seat.
TICKET MANAGER: Right. Maybe we could yank out all the seats and jam another 10,000 people in the stadium? If they don't want to sit down, why should we help them?
OWNER: That's a good point. If we take the seats out for next year, and reduce the price by $5, they'll think they're getting a bargain! We'll make even more money [rubbing hands with glee].
TICKET MANAGER: I'll order a hundred wrenches and get some homeless people to help, like we did when we had that snowstorm a couple years ago.
OWNER: Hell of an idea. Give them gloves this time.

Meanwhile, the NFL stands by and watches it, padding their pockets.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Waste of a Good Cell Phone

Speaking of guys who need a shoe piece...

PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida - A 77-year-old local man who reportedly admitted looking up women's skirts for 13 years, was arrested Monday in connection with an incident last month at a Wal-Mart SuperCenter in St. Lucie West.

You have to watch out for those "local men". I don't approve of releasing his name, since he "reportedly" looked up their skirts, so in the interest of fairness, and the assumption that one is innocent until proven guilty...

He told investigators that he had been looking up women's skirts without their knowledge for about 13 years. He said he used a mirror from the stores to stare up their skirts.

It seems as though our man doesn't hold up well under questioning. As his ersatz lawyer (I'm an accounting grad, but WTF) I would have advised him to keep his pie hole shut. Cop to the Wal-Mart incident, pay your fine and move on.

Police learned of [the assailant] after a woman found him with a camera cell phone behind her. "I think it's horrendous," said Connie Sue, 57, one of Tasker's neighbors. "He just kept looking at you every time I walked past."

Wait a minute - Connie Sue? Connie Sue what? If Sue is her surname, I'm never going to Florida again.
C'mon, Connie, have a heart. For the record, I don't see the appeal in looking up skirts, but the guy is 77 for Chrissakes. A little leeway, please. He found a hobby. How many people never find their true calling. Hobbies are one thing, but thirteen years qualifies as a lifestyle, I think.

So, watch out girls - especially at the SuperCenter. Those "local men" are everywhere.

13 Little Things (for Thursday)

13 Little Things That Aggravate Me
1. SUVs and big 4WD trucks that tap their brakes going over railroad tracks. What's the point of having these house-sized vehicles if they can't go over a little bump?

2. SUVs and big 4WD trucks.

3. Pitchers that can't bunt. They have nothing else to during their 4 days off. Why not learn to handle a bat?

4. Signed golf balls. I don't understand the signed golf ball. It's too small and bumpy. It seems like they're forcing the whole "signed ball" concept that works well with baseball and football. A little odd.

5. Size "XL" thongs. Please, don't encourage these people. They can't see what we can.

6. Gas Station Attendants. My fuel goes in on the passenger's side, and the attendants are so lazy that they won't come over to my window to serve me. Rather, they make me put down the right-side window and order across the car. A good shoe piece would straighten them out.

7. Lance Armstrong. After a couple of his former teammates confessed to blood doping, the 7-time Tour deFrance champion started in, saying that the reports were a "hatchet job". Shut up, Lance. We're tired of listening to you. He definitely needs a shoe piece.

8. Reality TV. First, there is no such thing. It's an oxymoron. Second, it's enough already. Lucky for you, My Name is Earl is on opposite the founding father of nonsense, Survivor on Thursday. Kick their ass, Earl.

9. Paying for Parking. I've already paid $60 for your concert, and you have the nerve to charge me another ten to park my car. How else am I going to get there? It's a scam, with no sign of relief.

10. The Grunting. I used to love women's tennis, but I can't watch it anymore, with all the grunting - and screaming - with every shot. I don't know who started it, but they need a shoe piece, too. Then, at least they'll have a reason to grunt. Please, LPGA, don't start.

11. Hair Balls. What's with the hair balls? I love my cat more than most people, but can't you get that hair to come out the other end?

12. The Screen Icon. TNT is the worst. They put a full program ad in the bottom-right corner of the screen. It's supposed to be opaque, but it's like cleavage - I have to look - it's distracting. Then, they start with that other thing ...

12a. The Swoop. Some program ad comes swooping in during a program. Usually involves action of some kind - like pit crew guys changing a tire, reminding me to watch NASCAR on TNT. OK, I get it. Leave me alone to watch my show. Imagine, while you're reading the newspaper, someone waves a sheet of paper in front of you. You'd hit him with a chair, right? So, why do we put up with it on TV?

13. The Pop-Up Ad. The second, illegitimate cousin to the screen icon, these annoying little bastards work their way onto our computer screen and do nothing but annoy us.

OK, so that was really 14. Soon, I'll put up 13 things I like, to balance my Karma.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas

PARIS (AFP) - For three generations, schoolchildren struggling to remember the planets of the solar system have used a mnemonic, with the first letter of each word in a sentence reminding them of the order from Mercury, the closest to the Sun, to Pluto, the farthest. But the age-old learning technique has been thrown for a loop by the decision last week of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the paramount authority on astronomy, to expel Pluto from the list.

The eight planets now officially recognized by the IAU are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Here are some I made up. It's fun ... really. Post yours in the comments section.

Mainly, Vincent Evenly Measures Jerky Sold Unwrapped, Nancy.
My Voice Evokes Memories Judged Silly Unless Nearby.
Most Viewed Eating Mint Jello Stupid, Until Now

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Laugh Now Crocodiles - You're Next!

SYDNEY, Australia - At least 10 stingrays have been killed since "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was fatally injured by one of the fish, an official said Tuesday, prompting a spokesman for the late TV star's animal charity to urge people not take revenge on the animals. Two were discovered Tuesday with their tails lopped off, state fisheries department official Wayne Sumpton said.

Watch your ass, crocodile ... It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Uggghh ... revenge on the animals? Silly humans. Use your rage for good, not evil. Fox News headquarters is at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York. Cut off Bill O'Reilly's tail. I'm pretty sure he has one.

But wait ... the fish will have their revenge:

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida diver shot a large grouper with a spear gun then apparently drowned when the fish sped into a hole, entangling the man in the line attached to the spear, investigators said Monday. The 42-year-old man, whose name was withheld, was free-diving in about 25 feet of water off the lower Florida Keys Saturday and speared a Goliath Grouper, Monroe County Sheriff's Detective Mark Coleman said.
"It looks like the fish wrapped the line attached to the spear around the victim's wrist. The fish then went into a hole in a coral rock, effectively pinning the man to the bottom of the ocean."

The score so far: MAN 10, FISH 2. Bottom of the second.

That's why I don't fish. I can buy fish. I don't want to piss them off.

Now you've gone too far!

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Four prisoners in an El Salvador jail hid cell phones, a phone charger and spare chips in their bowels so they could coordinate crimes from their cells, prison officials said.

Wow. Those phones get smaller all the time!

Who says you can't be rehabilitated in prison? Just be careful the next time you buy a used phone, especially ones that come with a charger and spare chips.

I hope they took the ringer off 'vibrate'. That would sting.

That looks like a Nokia Sphincter 5000 model.

Ring tone? "Shake Your Booty".

Make your own joke.


We're big on anniversaries, especially the first, and multiples of 5. So much so, that there's even a name for it. Yesterday was a quinquennial, and it was a big one at that. I'm not entirely sure what makes 1, 5 and 10 bigger than 2, 6 and 11 - they just are - and sometimes you just have to let things be what they are, no matter how odd. That applies to people, too.
You'd think that the good ones like weddings and birthdays would be important every year, and that the horrible ones like devistation and despair would be less so. Maybe there's some psychology to it, or maybe we just like the numbers.
I'm not sure how it got to be called 9-11, and not by a name, other than maybe CNN or some media outlet decided to shorten it for TV. It has a marketable ring, as if we needed to market it at all. Generally, my answers to questions like that are "TV" or "money", and they are usually correct. We don't call Pearl Harbor 12-7 or the Kennedy assassination 11-22. Maybe they're not as catchy, or maybe it's because we didn't have CNN in 1963.
There is some speculation that the reason the president made so much of the five-year anniversary of the attacks is because it is an off-year election, but I'm not so sure. Even our local evening newscasts were done from "Ground Zero, and the barrage of television shows (both documentary and docu-drama) were staggering, as to be almost overwhelming.
A couple of friends thought it was a bit much, and I suppose it is human nature to sort of turn your back on something that is so difficult to talk about. None of us can change the fact that it happened, and how each of us deals with it is up to us. Still, I suppose it is healthy to pause and reflect (even if it's only every five years) on events that changed our lives.
Shortly after the attacks, we were reminded who the real heroes were that day, and that the made-up heroes like athletes and performers were not worthy of such a title. For a little while, we remembered it, but now I see we're back to calling quarterbacks and actors heroes, just like we did on September 10, 2001.
We will gravitate back to whatever we are comfortable with, and it would seem that the day makes us uncomfortable. As it should.
So, now it's back to the nonsense.
Life goes on.

Monday, September 11, 2006

2996: One Remembered Here

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11. On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim. We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

James Matthew Patrick
Age 30

Place killed: World Trade Center

Resident of Norwalk, Connecticut

Patrick, a bond broker with Cantor Fitzgerald on the upper floors of One World Trade Center, was on the phone with a client when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 hit the building. The client, who was not identified, called the family to relay Patrick's final phone conversation.

"He apparently simply interrupted the client and said he had to leave because the building was being evacuated because a plane had hit,'' his father-in-law, Terry Buckmiller said.

Patrick's wife, Tera Lynn, a tutor at a middle school in Naugatuck, was expecting their first child, a boy, four weeks after the attacks.

"Oh he was so excited about this baby,'' Jacqueline Buckmiller said in between tears as she waited her daughter to return from a doctor's visit. "He and Tera Lynn had just celebrated their first anniversary last weekend. They had gone to Vermont to celebrate. How quickly life can change.''

James Patrick envisioned his future as filled with children - shouting, playing and bouncing around the house. "He really liked the noise, the chaos, the Sunday morning with everyone jumping in bed with you," said his wife, Terilyn. "I was bargaining for three kids. He didn't want to settle for any less than four."

But Mr. Patrick died seven weeks before his first child, Jack, came into the world. "We would talk about that stuff all the time," Mrs. Patrick said. "He really loved the thought of teaching them to play hockey and going to all their games, and in college, going up to their games and tailgating with them."

Mr. Patrick grew up with five siblings in a noisy Irish family, and he wanted to repeat the experience from a dad's point of view. In the spring of 2001, a few weeks after Tera learned she was pregnant, the couple moved from the Upper West Side to a condo in Norwalk, Conn. It was to be a brief stop on the way to a big house in Fairfield County. "They have great hockey there, for the kids," Ms. Patrick said.