Through The Looking Glass

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

“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.

Advertisements

Written by greatfoesofreality

March 3, 2009 at 12:18 am

“It doesn’t matter how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose. And even that doesn’t make all that much difference.”

with one comment

Okay, so I’d like to kick off this blog entry with this.

Yes, this happened Monday evening. Yes, this is one of the most unbelievable finishes to a basketball game that I’ve ever seen. I actually can’t stand the Nets and the 76ers, but I have watched this clip on Youtube about seven times in a row and will probably watch it at least that many times before the day is over. Devin Harris’ shot is one of the best buzzer beaters any sports fan will ever see.

However, there are more pressing matters to tend to. One of the bigger events this of this past week was the 81st Annual Academy Awards presentation.

The Oscars had  several positive themes going for the awards show this year. Slumdog Millionaire won eight awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Heath Ledger won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor award for his iconic portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Finally, Sean Penn and Kate Winslet won for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, respectively.

I’ll admit, I have yet to see many of the movies that were nominated for the major awards. I have yet to see Milk, and I do think Sean Penn is a phenomenal actor. However, I did see The Wrestler and was blown away by Mickey Rourke’s performance. Heath Ledger was certainly deserving of the Best Supporting Actor nod, though. Josh Brolin and Robert Downey Jr. are currently two of the finest actors that can be found in Hollywood. Still, Ledger took on a role that Jack Nicholson revitalized in 1989 and made it better. I’m eager to see what Winslet and Penelope Cruz brought to their respective roles as well.

While Hollywood was looking to gain the support of the Academy voters, President Obama has gained the support of Americans so far.

Most Americans (about 64%) support the President’s $787 billion stimulus plan and President Obama has about the same number giving their approval for his performance thus far. An interesting note is that 75% of those polled felt that President Obama has been trying to work with Republicans.

Count me in as one of the nearly two-thirds of Americans voicing a positive response to Obama’s response to our economic crisis. I really believe that President Obama has the best interests of our country at the forefront of his stimulus package. The Republican opposition so far is laughable, since the article notes that 61% of Republicans polled acknowledge that President Obama is trying to work with Republicans. The GOP has made a point to challenge Obama. It’s too bad they can’t factor in what the majority of America feels would help us all out.

Finally, here’s some scary news for the state of our credit card industry. American Express is offering some of their cardholders the chance to “simplify” their finances.

The credit card company is giving out $300 to cardholders who pay off their balance by April 30. The offer is basically American Express’ way to provide an incentive to those it feels could potentially default on their credit cards. The catch is, cardholders who participate in the program must cancel their American Express cards.

This is alarming to me in many different ways.  American Express’ pre-emptive strike to get unpaid balances helps to prove how bad of shape the credit card industry is in. Also, the cardholders who receive this offer are basically being told to “please leave.” I wonder what kind of balances are being targeted. I do understand American Express’ reasoning for the incentive; it helps to have the cardholder reduce the balance rather than have the creditor eat the deficit by simply closing the account.

That’s the post for this week. Hey, it’s no spectacular half court shot, but it will have to do until I check in next week.

Written by greatfoesofreality

February 24, 2009 at 9:48 am

“You always double down on an 11!”

with one comment

Time to get to the news this week and no, I’m not talking about the UConn/Pittsburgh men’s basketball game I’m watching right now. Although, the #1 ranked team in the nation playing the #4 ranked team should count as some news. However, there are other issues to discuss.

First off, here’s a solution for banks trying to deal with customers in debt. Just a glance at the headline will probably alarm most people who have credit cards.

The article discusses how those who miss payments on their credit card payments will see the interest rates go up. Some companies have already begun charging people with large amounts racked up on their credit cards a surcharge. Some quotes from a gentleman who has credit card debt so he can provide for his family helps to put these ramifications in perspective.

I understand that banks do have troubles of their own, and they have no quick fixes for their problems either. The American consumer is the same way. I’m sure thousands of people like Louis Martinez (quoted in this article) are using credit cards in ways to just stay alive. Therefore, this will make the nation’s economic woes more widespread due to the banks trying to regain their footing. I’m no economist, but I don’t see how these measures can be good for struggling credit card holders. After all, the number of folks with large credit card debt greatly outnumbers the number of banks.

In the meantime, our new administration is doing what it can to try to right the ship for the nation’s economic woes. It’s so great to see the GOP is doing what it can to spite them.

According to the article, Republicans in the House of Representatives are taking the voting of President Obama’s proposed stimulus package to a personal level. Eric Cantor is the Republican Whip (largely in charge of managing Republicans when the House is in session) who put together a video claiming the GOP is “Back in the Saddle” using the song by the rock band, Aerosmith.

I’m all for unity in almost any forum and the Republicans have a right to free speech. So I have no problem with them making a video for these purposes. However, what they want this video to achieve is something that our nation can’t afford. Until someone comes along with a better idea, the proposed stimulus package is something that our nation needs. If Cantor and any of his fellow GOP members disagree so wholeheartedly, maybe they should put their time and taxpayer’s money towards a new solution rather than making videos for Youtube. The fact that the guy in charge of managing the House floor for the Republicans is making this video is also disconcerting.

Finally, I’ll close on a lighter note. If you’re an amateur gambler trying to figure out new ways to win at casinos, make sure you know that they’ve caught on to at least one technological advantage.

Apple has designed an application compatible with its iPhone and iTouch that can count cards. This would be advantageous to a person familiar with blackjack and how the game works. It’s not illegal, but casinos do frown on the practice.

Personally, I think it would take a miracle for anyone to master this application to the point where casinos should be concerned. We’re not all MIT students taking weekend trips to Vegas solely to win money. However, casinos do have the right to tell people to put electronics away while they’re gambling at a table in their establishment. In my case, even if you gave me uninterrupted practice with this application, I could easily still find a way to lose all my money playing blackjack.

Speaking of losing, one final news story tonight: the number one-ranked UConn Huskies have fallen to the Pittsburgh Panthers this evening. Thank you for reading and I’ll be checking in again next week.

Written by greatfoesofreality

February 16, 2009 at 9:07 pm

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

leave a comment »

There is no better story to lead off this week’s post than the Sports Illustrated story about Alex Rodriguez’s alleged positive test for steroid use in 2003.  Even more shocking was A-Rod’s interview with Peter Gammons of ESPN.com.

The Sports Illustrated story cited sources that A-Rod was one of 104 Major League Baseball players who tested positive in an anonymous drug test conducted in the 2003 season. Though the results were to remain anonymous, A-Rod’s name was leaked to the story. In the interview with Gammons, A-Rod confirms the allegations and attempts to move forward with his career.

I have two confessions to make: 1) I don’t like Alex Rodriguez, and 2) I don’t like the New York Yankees. However, I am frustrated as a fan of baseball. I gritted my teeth when Barry Bonds, a man who has been linked to steroids the past several years, passed Hank Aaron as the leader in all time home runs. If anything, I was hoping that A-Rod was a clean baseball player who would someday eventually pass Bonds and leave no questions in the record book. That isn’t going to happen anymore.

There was good news, though, in a story that just broke today: the Senate passed President Obama’s stimulus plan. This is hopefully a step in getting the economy back on track.

President Obama’s stimulus plan has been under fire since he proposed it right after taking the office. The $838 billion proposal has been rebuffed by Republicans, though, which could make the attempt to get it passed through the House of Representatives very questionable. The plan even barely made it through the Senate, getting 61 votes when 60 were needed.

Something has to give with the economy and I hadn’t seen any effort from the Republican leaders to right the wrongs while George W. Bush was in office. President Obama’s plan will strengthen unemployment, give a lift to health care, and provide tax breaks to lower-income families. I understand the Republicans want to tweak the plan before putting their stamp of approval on it, but they are hurting millions of people by delaying something that our President believes is in our best interests. If banks and investment firms can get some help, why can’t the American people?

Finally, Chris Brown condemns domestic violence in this article from the Daily Telegraph. Well, since the singer has been arrested in Los Angeles for a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend, Rhianna, it looks as if he has some explaining to do.

The Daily Telegraph article discusses how Brown grew up with domestic violence in his family and refers to the alleged incident with Rhianna. The article discussing Brown’s arrest mentions a Los Angeles police officer discussing his professional appearance and good looks.

So Chris Brown is professional and good-looking. I can understand police are normal people like the rest of us and might tend to get starstruck around celebrities, but praising someone who allegedly committed acts of violence against his girlfriend is a bit much. As for Brown growing up with domestic violence around him, I hope he remembers how worried he was for his mother when he was younger. He is only 19 years old, so he really isn’t too far removed from these incidents he described.

That’s all for now… more news to come next week.

Written by greatfoesofreality

February 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

“On any given Sunday you’re gonna win or you’re gonna lose. The point is… can you win or lose like a man?”

leave a comment »

This is the first of many entries of a semester-long blog project for my “Writing the News Story” class at the university I attend. This blog could potentially become quite habit-forming and thus it could stretch out longer than the few months I will be working on it. I’m looking forward to at least getting the table set for a continuous blog and writing about the news stories that catch my eye.

So I think the best place to begin is one of the biggest media events of the year. The Super Bowl was this weekend and the ending has been shrouded in controversy.

Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kurt Warner was hit when it looked like his arm was moving forward during a pass. If this were the case, the call made should not have been ruled as a fumble and the Cardinals would have a final shot at the end zone. The controversy stems from the referees not reviewing the play, and the Steelers went on to win their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.

To me, it looked like Warner’s arm was indeed going forward when the ball left his hand. Even if this wasn’t the case, though, there was no reason for the referees not to take a close look at it. It’s the biggest game of the NFL  and it decides who the champion is after a three month regular season and one month of hotly contested playoff games. Maybe the Cardinals wouldn’t have scored on a second chance at the end zone, but the referees of this game really blew it for all those who feel Arizona got a raw deal.

Now I know why I waited until the last possible minute to write this blog entry for class (and yes, I was on vacation this weekend). We have breaking news about Tom Daschle’s nomination for Health and Human Services Secretary.

Though the New York Times’ article in the link is quite brief due to the developing story, Daschle’s nomination has been all over the news the past several days. His failure to pay over $120,000 in taxes has spearheaded the calls that he should withdraw from the role that President Barack Obama presented to him when composing his cabinet.

I believe that Daschle had to make this decision and I’m surprised it took this long. It’s unfortunate because I think he had some great ideas for health care reform but in an instance like this, Daschle had to step down. Both Republicans and Democrats have likely lost some faith in him, and President Obama can’t afford to be overloaded with distractions after just being inaugurated two weeks ago.

Finally, the seemingly never-ending strife in Darfur might be taking a turn for the worse.

Muhajeria, a town in South Darfur containing about 50,000 people, is supposedly the target of Khartoum’s army yet again. Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, attacked Muhajeria a little over a year ago. Since then, a couple of leadership changes between rebel and government forces have made the city a target for another military invasion.

The past five years have given us hundreds of graphic articles and photos from the War in Darfur. This story, if another invasion on Muhajeria is to happen, will create more of them. This conflict deserves as much attention as the unrest in the Middle East. The peacekeeping forces provided by the United Nations are not doing what they can to keep civilians safe and at some point, someone is going to have step in and try to resolve this situation.

Wow… that’s one blog post down, many more to come. See you all next week… if not sooner.

 

Written by greatfoesofreality

February 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm