May 27 2008

John McCain and Barack Obama to Travel to Iraq Together?

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 1:22 pm

Now, this is what I like to see. Both sides of the presidential campaign process teaming-up to save some money by traveling together. OK, so it’s just an idea, but it’s an interesting idea:

The Associated Press — McCain likes idea of traveling to Iraq with Obama: After criticizing Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama for not having been to Iraq since 2006, Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain on Monday endorsed the idea of a trip together to the war zone. In an interview with the AP, McCain said such a trip “would be fine” and that he would “seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way.”

I love the bit about Senator McCain “educating” Senator Obama…that’s just good clean politics! Will it happen, I doubt it. But, it is fun to consider.

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May 27 2008

Hillary Clinton RFK Comment, the Fallout Continues

Category: 2008 Election,Politics,VideoTim @ 1:13 pm

It was a long holiday weekend and that probably helped soften the blow of the comments made by Hillary Clinton last Friday. If you missed it, she was asked why she was still staying in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton’s answer was basically the race is not over yet, but her example shocked everyone. Thanks to the wonder that is YouTube, you can judge for yourselves:

My first reaction to this was, “Are you kidding me?!?!” Why on earth would someone evoke the death of Robert Kennedy only weeks before the 40th anniversary of his assignation? Kennedy’s death was a tragedy that shocked our country again. And, just to add a little salt to the wound, Clinton made these comments about Robert Kennedy just 3 days after his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy announces he has cancer.

My second reaction was concern for Barack Obama. This type of comment is just the type of thing that can plant a seed in some wacko’s mind. Clinton quickly realized the mistake she had made and tried to explain her comments:

Do I think she intended her comments to be as threating as they sounded? No. However, in her own words, this IS the most important job in the world and you have to be mindful of what you say every time you speak.

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May 23 2008

Message to Obama: Buy a Car Get a Gun

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 12:26 pm

News out of Kansas City yesterday:

Through the end of the month, car buyers at Max Motors in Butler will have a choice — $250 toward either a gun purchase or gasoline.

General manager Walter Moore said that so far, most buyers have chosen the gun, adding that he suggests they opt for a semiautomatic model “because it holds more rounds.”

In Texas, you had to buy a house to get a gun. In Missouri, we have us some different standards. Why are they offering money for guns with their cars? Check out this quote from Mark Muller, the owner of Max Motors in Butler, Missouri south of Kansas City:

We did it because of Barack Obama. He said all those people in the Midwest, you’ve got to have compassion for them because they’re clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive,” said Muller.

We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns,” Muller said in the interview. “I’ve got a gun in my pocket right now. I have a rifle in my truck. We’ve got to shoot the coyotes out here, they’re attacking our cows, our chickens. We’re not clinging to nothing. We’re just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want. This is the way it ought to be.”

I’d say that’s two votes for McCain.

No one is forcing car buyers to purchase guns, they have the freedom to make their own choices. This is what makes our country great; two citizens exercising their right to free speech, celebrating the right to bear arms, and making a nice profit for their business. Of course we may need to start working on a series of anti-road rage public service announcements or teach drivers to duck…

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May 22 2008

American Idol Finale Out-FOXes DVRs

Category: Entertainment,VideoTim @ 12:41 pm

We watched the American Idol Finale on our flaky little Comcast DVR last night right up to the big moment. “And the Winner of American Idol is, David…” and then the recording stopped. What!?!? I knew it was going to be a David, that’s all we had. Which David?!?! Here’s what it looked like for DVR users.

Yes, Fox ran long with their American Idol Finale and the DVR stopped as scheduled.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Idol’s numbers were down; Wednesday’s finale drew an audience of 30.7 million, compared with last year’s 36.4 million. However online chat groups and other fan sites were sprinkled with complaints yesterday because the megahit ran several minutes over its scheduled two hours of programming, causing many DVR and TiVo users to miss recording the selection of Sparks as the next American Idol.

Should have seen that one coming a mile away. That’s one way to make sure people are watching your shows live, mess-up their recorders. Ironically, the FOX plan may backfire. To find out what happened, I’m sure most DVR users turned to the Internet which is exactly what the networks want to avoid. Maybe they out-FOXed themselves.

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May 22 2008

American Idol Winner: David Cook (Really?)

Category: EntertainmentTim @ 12:18 pm

The most karaoke season of American Idol ended last night with, in my opinion, the least karaoke-like singer winning the prize.

David Cook, a sometimes sullen 25-year-old rocker from Blue Springs, Mo., was named the winner of “American Idol” on Wednesday, receiving 56 percent of the 97.5 million votes cast after Tuesday’s performances, easily defeating David Archuleta, a 17-year-old balladeer from Murray, Utah.

It was in many ways a surprise victory. During Tuesday’s competition, all three of the program’s judges seemed to endorse Mr. Archuleta as the winner. To many in the 7,000-seat Nokia Theater here, Mr. Archuleta’s final performances were more electric. Simon Cowell, the sometimes petulant judge who rarely is at a loss for words, seemed to speak for the other judges at the end of Tuesday’s show when he said Mr. Archuleta “came out here to win” and did so by “a knockout.”

Oops. Yes, it was a knockout (by 12,000 votes allegedly) by the “underdog” and not by the media favorite. Frankly, I thought it was going the other way as well. Here you have a cute boy-band-in-the-making kid who pulls in that 10-15 year-old demographic with all those mothers poised to buy his music just sitting there waiting for the producers to leverage the New Backstreet ‘N Sync Machine for all they are worth and it all goes away. Well, they will still proceed with plans for the runnier-up, it’s just not going to be as big.

The music and television industry are facing increased competition from Internet sources and have to work on different ways to gather and maintain audiences. American Idol has been a consistent performer, but the winds may be changing:

With network television and the music industry both up against a fractured audience and new forms of media, Cook and runner-up Archuleta became standard-bearers for today’s broad-based popular culture.

“Idol” remains the only show able to consistently deliver vast numbers of viewers, eclipsing even the Oscars.

However, after a season in which the series came under fire for various offstage controversies and suffered a midseason sag in ratings, television’s titan stands at a crossroads. It remains to be seen whether this year’s dip in popularity is a one-year phenomenon or the first step on the inevitable downward spiral all successful TV shows eventually face.

I have been a casual watcher of American Idol over the years and firmly believe this year was highlighted by the most brutal untalented singers in the history of the show. Having said that, I always considered David Cook to be the most talented of the bunch. Last night you could see how a performer like Seal completely out-classed the Idols. I guess this is what you get when you try to artificially create a star to fit the mold.

Look for changes next season in the Idol format to reach a younger crowd. I suspect having Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and even Maria Carie will not be back in the future. Let’s face it, those artists don’t resonate with the target demographic.

Oh well, with David Cook, a good kid has won the prize:

Asked what went through his head when he heard his name called: “That my music teacher, Mrs. (Fredalyn) Gentry, made me sing in the Christmas pageant in second grade. Now I’m here. The ride has been pretty nuts.”

Cook’s journey was made more emotionally difficult by the illness of his older brother, Adam, who has terminal cancer. Cook kept his personal story out of the “Idol” process as much as he could. But several times, including Wednesday night, his emotions overcame him.

Good for him and I wish him the best.

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May 21 2008

Are Aluminum Bats Dangerous?

Category: Health,Youth SportsTim @ 4:24 am

I literally cringe every time I hear one of these stories:

WAYNE, N.J. (AP) — The family of a boy who suffered brain damage after he was struck by a line drive off an aluminum baseball bat sued the bat’s maker and others on Monday, saying they should have known it was dangerous.

My kids play on baseball teams and use aluminum bats. What an awful story. A kid playing baseball and having fun one minute is forever changed the next. Baseball can be dangerous and there are risks involved in everything we do in life. But, is it the fault of the bat? The “Don’t Take My Bat Away Coalition” has a few things to say on the subject:

Like baseball itself, the debate about aluminum versus wood has many angles, but safety shouldn’t be one of them. Some players prefer wood because of tradition. Lots of children prefer aluminum because it’s easier to get a hit thanks to the bigger sweet spot found on metal bats. That’s why a ban is so harmful to baseball – it risks driving kids out of the game if it isn’t as much fun.

So, we should let them use aluminum because it is more fun to hit the ball. Yes, I agree, but is it more dangerous too? I have seen the ball jump off of aluminum bats, but I can’t say I’ve seen many wooden bats in play to gage the differences. The LA Times Booster Shot blog had this

Considering how many kids play youth baseball or softball, it’s surprising that there is a lack of agreement on whether aluminum bats are safe.

It’s also surprising there are so relatively few injuries. I can tell you one thing for certain, the kids are bigger, stronger, and better at hitting the balls today then they were even 10 years ago. In Houston, baseball is a year-round sport with incredible training locations and the latest baseball equipment everywhere. Fathers are building private batting cages in their back yards to make their son and all-star. All of this means, the kids are simply better hitters. Does the bat make a big difference? I doubt it.


May 21 2008

Obama & Clinton – End Florida Boycott

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 3:57 am

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be appearing in Florida on Wednesday, the first appearence in the state since last fall.

Obama is seeking to mend fences in a key general election state snubbed by the Democratic National Committee. Clinton is continuing her push to have the state’s primary count and its delegates seated at the party’s national convention in Denver in August.

“My campaign is actively working with the Clinton campaign, the Florida Democratic Party and the DNC, which is responsible for setting and enforcing these rules, to reach an agreement that will give Floridians a voice at the convention,” Obama told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Obama did not say how he wants the dispute resolved, only that it’s important to find a solution so the party can focus on winning the state in November.

I guess they figure Florida is a key state. Seems to me they played an important roll in a prior presidential election…Why have they been avoiding Florida? It seems the Florida Democratic Committee may need to get a calendar:

Both candidates signed a pledge nine months ago that kept them from campaigning here before the Jan. 29 primary. Other than a rally Clinton held after polls closed that night, neither candidate has campaigned here since the DNC stripped Florida of its delegates in September because its primary was held before Feb. 5.

Ouch. That seems like double-secret probation to me. Well, Tampa residents can hardly wait to see Obama:

Whether out of sincere belief in Barack Obama or sheer curiosity to see a historic presidential candidate, Tampa Bay area residents rushed for tickets Monday to a rally now expected to fill the St. Pete Times Forum downtown on Wednesday.

“I just want to see him in person; he’s making such an impression on America,” said Mildred Hart of North Tampa, who called The Tampa Tribune on Monday afternoon in search of a ticket after being told the party office had run out. “I’m trying desperately to find one ticket.”

I wonder what those tickets are going for on eBay. I am still amazed that this entire flap has even occured and it looks like I’m not alone:

“I still cannot believe that any political party would create a barrier between the candidate and the voters,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer told the AP. “It’s a slap in the face to democracy. I’m just glad he finally found out where Florida is.”

Me either.

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May 20 2008

Senator Ted Kennedy Brain Tumor

Category: Health,PoliticsTim @ 6:34 pm

Sad news out of D.C. today, Senator Ted Kenenedy has a brain tumor:

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor, his doctors said on Tuesday, of a type considered potentially very dangerous.

Kennedy has a glioma and likely will require chemotherapy and radiation therapy, neurologist Dr. Lee Schwamm of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and Dr. Larry Ronan, a primary physician there, said in a statement.

I work in a cancer center and hearing things like this always make me sad. Hopefully, he will come down to Houston and get the best treatment going.


May 19 2008

Right or Wrong, Roger Clemens Equals Trash

Category: Pro Sports,SportsTim @ 2:17 am

I admit it, I like Roger Clemens. I like the results he brought to the field and the attitude he produced in to the Astros; an attitude that took them all the way to the World Series. I would be a hypocrite if I said I was not thrilled when he came “home” to Houston with the promise of doing something special. Yea sure, I heard the stories about how he wasn’t always the nicest of guys and that the public Roger could be different than the private Roger, but who could blame the man? After all, 5 days in New York can make someone crazy, imagine living in that spotlight day after day after day…

In 2006, we all held our breath and watched Roger play the fans the media and the Astros to get his magical contract, $22,000,022. He even started back with the team on June 22 after propping-up the minor league teams and playing a game with Kody. How perfect was that? To celebrate the event, the Astros produced a movie-size poster called, “The Return of the Rocket” and gave it to all the fans who attended his first game back. The poster was very cool so I framed it and hung it in my office.

Then it started. Roger went back to New York. OK, could we really expect him to stay on a team that couldn’t produce any runs? No worries, my poster stays as a reminder of our glory years.

Next came the Mitchell Report. Roger and HGH, Roger and steroids, Roger and Andy injecting each other! Hmmm, that’s not good, but you are innocent until proven guilty in the country. Since this is America, I leave my poster right where it is.

Then the biggie, multiple affairs and the possibility of relations with a minor. The accusations are from less then trustworthy sources and celebrity affairs are as common as traffic in Houston, but the cumulative total has finally reached the point of no-return. Roger Clemens, meet the trash can.

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I can’t help but feel a bit sad at the falling of a star. In the end, Roger could be the most wrongly-accused individual in sports or be proven to be a major scum-bag. Either way, as a responsible professional, I cannot have his picture displayed on my wall anymore. He has just become too big of a liability for me and the association is not a good one.

I guess that is the message in all of this mess. When you create the persona of the athlete “good guy,” you create the image of the ideal person. When reality creeps in, that image can be shattered and leave you feeling betrayed and angry. When will we learn, even athletes are human.