Through The Looking Glass

For expression, for self-fulfillment… and for a grade

Archive for March 2009

“So, if the Beers beat Detroit and Denver beats Atlanta in the American Southwestern Division East Northern, then Milwaukee goes to the Denslow Cup, unless Baltimore can upset Buffalo and Charlotte ties Toronto, then Oakland would play LA and Pittsburgh in a blind choice round robin. And if no clear winner emerges from all of this, a two-man sack race will be held on consecutive Sundays until a champion can be crowned.”

leave a comment »

First off, before I get too far into writing, I just want to welcome back Tiger Woods. I love golf and it was pretty cool to flip over to Tiger’s rally during the basketball commercials.

In news that’s somewhat less predictable, March Madness continues its run through this month (and the recurring theme of this blog). Congrats to North Carolina, Connecticut, Villanova, and Michigan State. Also, a great big thanks to Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Memphis for their solid contributions to ruining my bracket.

How about a look at the political side of March Madness to change things up a little bit. Cities like Detroit, Boston, and Memphis all have some appeal for regional and national finals, but how come Columbia, South Carolina doesn’t get a fair shake?

Ron Morris does a great job of writing about how the Confederate flag flying above Columbia’s state house likely affects why the city and its facilities are largely ignored by the NCAA. Morris notes the money, publicity and recognition the city would get from hosting these games.

I couldn’t agree with Morris more. Of course, I can’t speak for South Carolina residents who refuse to change the state flag. Morris brings up a valid point, though: why should cities about the same size as Columbia (and even ones in a neighboring state) be the beneficiaries of something that Columbia could be eligible for? At the same time, I have to commend the NCAA for staying away from the temptation of going to a place where a Confederate flag is still proudly displayed. It makes me wonder what other profitable opportunities that South Carolina could be missing out on due to their refusal to let go of the past. After all, it’s not like states can’t use the money.

Now let’s continue the journey south across the border to Mexico where movie film crews are now being affected by the country’s drug gangs.

Death threats were sent to a director for a movie about a drug smuggler in Mexico that was to star Josh Hartnett and Eva Mendes. Unfortunately, the gangs behind this aren’t only scaring Hollywood away, they’re also affecting the economy of their country.

Taking Hollywood out of the country and hurting the economy of Mexico are two big issues, but the numerous deaths due to rival gangs fighting territorial wars is the eyebrow-raiser here. It’s never a bad thing to be able to show celebrities enjoying their time while in a city but when spring break travelers (who would show up in large numbers with plenty of money) desert resorts like Tiajuana, the problem extends beyond exposure on TMZ.com. A “failed state” is a territory with a shattered political structure and as Hillary Clinton mentioned, there are ways for the U.S. to help out. As entertaining as movies based out of Mexico can be, I don’t see Josh Hartnett being an economic and political cure for what’s ailing Mexico.

Finally, the previous article mentioned cocaine smugglers. Did they have a meeting with Ashley Biden recently?

Probably not. According to this piece from the Huffington Post, the lawyer attempting to sell the tape has withdrawn and dropped his client. Apparently, the publicity of the tape allegedly involving the daughter of the Vice President of the United States was not something this lawyer wanted.

I find it interesting that this comes about two months after the Michael Phelps story. Granted, Phelps was identified and came clean about the marijuana use in his photo, but is the celebrity spotlight really meant to be a smoking gun? Furthermore, the article mentions that it was a 20-something woman with light skin and long brown hair in this particular video. This means it could be Ashley Biden or about ten million other women around the world. The article also brings up the surprise of other lawyers that another lawyer would be so willing to shop this tape to the tabloids. I’m surprised as well; money brings fame and this lawyer could be caught on tape doing something he doesn’t want others seeing him doing.

All right, another week is done! Tune in next week for a look at the men’s NCAA champion (or championship) and whatever news the world throws at us in the meantime.

Advertisements

Written by greatfoesofreality

March 30, 2009 at 11:05 pm

“You see, Billy, it’s like this: you either smoke or you get smoked. And you got smoked.”

leave a comment »

I’m back after another week of searching for news stories in between my steady diet of watching college basketball and… watching college basketball. I hope everyone is doing well in their brackets he/she  filled out that have no monetary prizes attached for the most accurate picks. I’m currently in a tie for third in my office pool… come on UNC (and Nova beating Duke and Syracuse taking out Oklahoma would be nice too).

I’ll start off the blog this week with this article on employers losing money on employees spending time focusing on March Madness. At least that’s what they want us to believe.

Slate reprinted this piece late last week from Jack Shafer (it first appeared in 2006). The article brings up the myth that employers lose money on employees watching games on their computers or checking scores.

Shafer makes two great points in this article. One, casual fans lose interest as the tournament progresses. Believe me, half the people in my office pool will not watch a minute of college basketball until next year after their brackets imploded over the weekend. The second point that Shafer makes is that employees do stuff during the work day that wastes time regardless. He mentions shopping, talking on the phone, coffee breaks, etc. as ways that workers spend their time if they’re not working. I’ll admit that I check scores when games are on. However, it’s literally for only two days during a standard work week when the NCAA Tournament begins. After that, the games are all on so late on the East Coast that employers should worry about whether or not their employees will set their alarms.

Speaking of madness, Dick Cheney’s in the news again! However, the twist on this story is bound to make some readers chuckle (and no, small game hunting is not involved).

This story from TheHill.com mentions Republicans are advising Cheney to lie low for a little while. His vocal defense of the Bush/Cheney administration has been making headlines, and the Republicans are trying to mend the GOP’s proverbial fences.

I can see what the Republicans are trying to do and it’s actually a pretty smart move. If you look at the major overhaul of the political landscape all across federal and state governments in November, Republicans have to undergo some serious self-examination to get the bad taste out of their mouths. However, the two symbols (Bush and Cheney) of what many Americans would point to as the root of the problem are not going away. I actually think Bush should be commended for taking the high road and letting President Obama do his job. Cheney has every right to speak his mind and disapprove of Obama’s progress, but when your allies are telling you to keep it down you should maybe consider going on a trip with no phones or television.

Finally, I’ll end this post on somewhat of an odd note (as I usually do). What would you do to make money in these hard economic times? It seems that some women are looking into dancing and stripping since there is no sign of the job market rebounding.

In cities like Chicago and New York and even smaller cities like Providence, RI, the job market for exotic dancing still can earn a woman a decent living. As long as strip clubs are still pulling in a consistent number of customers, women are finding that paying college loans and bills can be easily done even with the economic crisis in full effect.

Personally, a woman has every right to do what she wants to do. If she wants to dance, she should dance. If she wants to be an actress, take some acting classes. The possibilities are endless. However, the economic downturn has left talented men and women wondering when and where their next opportunity will be to pull in a decent living. Therefore, if a woman can make six figures in big cities and she has the confidence and ability to be a dancer, she should definitely go for it.

There’s the blog post for this week. Tune in next week for the trials and tribulations of a non-profit office pool and some recent news stories that might qualify as some form of madness… just maybe not March Madness.

Written by greatfoesofreality

March 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm

“There’s a… um… tradition in tournament play… not talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you.”

leave a comment »

All right, spring break is over and I’m back in the saddle for the foreseeable future! Not a moment too soon either because one of my favorite times of the year is here: March Madness. There’s nothing like filling out a bracket and spending the next few weekends watching college basketball teams play for the chance to go to the Final Four. Lose and go home. NCAA football… are you paying attention?

March Madness actually ties in to the first piece I want to write about. An article in the New York Times discusses the lack of star power in the college ranks this year. This will likely not be helping the NBA Draft in any way when it rolls around at the end of June.

The article discusses players who have been recently drafted and have gone on to become NBA stars. The issue is that this year’s March Madness tournament really doesn’t have anyone (outside of Blake Griffin) that NBA teams can pencil in as a potential franchise savior.

The writers of this article do have some good points. There isn’t an O.J. Mayo or Derrick Rose on any of these teams in the NCAA. However, I think it’s unfair to say there won’t be any talented players in this year’s draft. They even mention the possibility of international players like Ricky Rubio. There won’t be any players that teams can build a franchise around, but there are plenty of players who will become serviceable NBA players. Besides, March Madness has yet to start. Let’s let the kids enjoy this experience before telling them you think they won’t be stars at the professional level.

From basketball to bailouts and bonuses… the saga of the nation’s chaotic nature of its financial institutions continues this week. However, one insurance company (AIG) already working with bailout money decided to award $165 in bonuses to its executives.

Long story short, numerous banks and insurance companies have been receiving bailout money due to the financial crisis and instability of the Dow Jones. The bailout money in this situation has been used by AIG to pay out bonuses to employees to honor contracts.

The defense of AIG is that their executives were under contract to receive these bonuses. Personally, I think those contracts should have been nullified the second one penny of bailout money went to AIG. Taxpayers are the ones who feeding the piggy banks of these firms and for them to award bonuses to the people who were supposed to be running the show as the business collapsed is a collective slap in the face. I realize that arbitrarily tearing up an existing contract is essentially impossible but with the economic standing of our nation, I think fulfilling these contracts could take a back seat to more pressing needs.

Finally, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Slate.com investigates what actually is greener (environmentally in this context): drinking beer from bottles or cans.

The article goes into great detail about which alcohol-holding container actually is more greener. The consensus is that if a homegrown brewery is close, glass bottles might be better. Otherwise, drinking beer from cans might be more environmentally friendly. However, the writer suggests drinking from pint glasses is likely the best way to go.

I think this article brings about a good point. The alcohol industry really hasn’t shown the effects of economic stability and production and monthly totals in 2008 were close to 2007 numbers. President Obama has promised to look for ways to create more environmental friendly jobs and even has a “green team“. I think it’s a great idea for an area that is consistent as the alcohol industry to devise ways to inform and educate consumers about something that can help the future of our country. Granted, some party-goers are indifferent to whether or not they drink from a glass, can, trough, etc. However, the opportunity to mix “green” with St. Patty’s celebrating and environmentalism is a unique occurrence.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for March Madness updates (and other general madness updates across the world).

Written by greatfoesofreality

March 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

“It’s a lock! I hit a 7 iron like John Daly hits the 3!”

leave a comment »

I’m officially excited. I get to take a short weekend trip to Florida to do some golfing and hopefully avoid alligators. Most importantly, the forecast for Jacksonville is going to be in the 70s. The snow and cold temperatures in the Northeast are getting old really quick. The bottom line is, Thursday can’t get here soon enough.

Coincidentally, my first story this week begins on a golf-related note. Whether you are a golf fan or not, it was hard not to notice that Tiger Woods made his return to the PGA Tour at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, AZ.

Tiger’s return came several months after winning the U.S. Open on a torn ACL in his knee. Several young players have emerged as bona fide contenders to unseat the world’s best golfer, but Tiger seems to be getting ready to be in championship form.

Although Tiger didn’t play well in this tournament (he lost in the second round to Tim Clark), the fact that he got back on the golf course is great news for the PGA Tour. I like to see young golfers like Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy and Camilo Villegas become stars, but Tiger is the face of golf and therefore brings in more ratings. I thought the Match Play tournament would be a tough one for him to come back to, but I never count Tiger out of anything. Any rust he has will surely be gone by the time The Masters starts in April.

Speaking of rust, did anyone see Bobby Jindal’s speech following President Obama’s address to the nation last week? While the Louisiana governor’s speech received mixed reviews, it turns out that one big part of it wasn’t exactly true.

Governor Jindal told a great story during his speech about standing side-by-side with a sheriff during Hurricane Katrina and trying to fight with federal bureaucrats who were objecting to rescuing stranded flood victims. However, Jindal was never even in the sheriff’s office (which he claimed) and the fact that his speech hinted that Jindal had a personal hand in the rescue attempts has to raise some eyebrows.

This really could not come at a worse time for the Republican Party. They need a fresh face to guide themselves back into favor with American voters and Jindal was a leading candidate for this movement. Not only did he discredit himself on national television, he likely might have people wondering what they can believe from jim in the future. Granted, voters are forgiving and have relatively short memories, but Jindal had a chance to showcase himself and the Republican Party after a disastrous election month in November 2008.  Now, lying is once again back in the spotlight for the Republican Party.

I’m going to wrap this thing up by sticking with the state of Louisiana. Republican Senator David Vitter is up for re-election in 2010. Unfortunately, Senator Vitter was found to be involved in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal in 2007. This will hurt his chances to keep his Senate seat, and those interested in taking it include a former opponent of Vitter (Family Research Council leader, Tony Perkins) and adult film star, Stormy Daniels.

I think disenchanted voters who were embarrassed by Vitter’s actions during his tenure in office would vote for just about anyone. Perkins would likely have the name and credentials that voters would be familiar with and would seem to be a likely successor. Daniels is certainly an interesting third party (or even Democratic) nominee. She is very well-spoken and certainly seems comfortable in this interview. We’ve seen actors, athletes and even professional wrestlers get involved in politics. It’s very possible that new ground could be broken in Louisiana if Daniels gets a nomination.

Time to pack up the golf clubs and dig out some warm weather clothes. Tune in next week for more news and information on my astronomically high golf scores.

Written by greatfoesofreality

March 3, 2009 at 12:18 am