Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The following is a reprint of a piece I wrote to commemorate Independence Day 18 months ago. Read and enjoy, especially if you are a Western Pennsylvanian in fact or in spirit.

Fourth of July 2007

Happy 231st Birthday to America. As far as reflecting about Clairton, according to “Early History of The Peter’s Creek Valley and The First Visitors” by Noah Thompson, the Ravensburg Patent was granted in 1791 which defined what is now Wilson. Later tracts of land that collectively made up the City of Clairton were surveyed by Samuel St. Clair (1784) and Samuel Wyile (1788). More about the historical beginnings of our city can be found in the following link:

Clairton in the 1950s was a booming metropolis. We were known as the “Coke City of the World,” and the coke that our mills produced was neither drunk nor snorted but served as a component of the manufacture of steel. Virtually everybody had some family member who worked in a steel mill. We were naïve to the ways of the world although it was just about a dozen years after World War II had ended. Most of our fathers or uncles served in that war and many of us were the product of wartime relationships. The old joke was, “My parents wanted to name me ‘Furlough.’”

We did not understand the message of the KKK as most of us were an amalgamation of Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. CHS was naturally racially integrated and our common bond was high school football. Coach Neil Brown was spirited away from another school for his coaching prowess and his success coaching the football team was eventually rewarded with the principalship of CHS.

Benny Benack did a superb job with the marching band. On Friday nights the band would assemble at the high school and march the ten or so blocks to the stadium. Residents would crowd Miller Avenue and watch the parade. I can remember as a lad, watching the Honey Bears twirling their batons followed by the band in full regalia marching and playing fight songs. In fact for a long period of time I actually thought Notre Dame had stolen its fight song from the CHS band. Another memory of childhood was that It seemed the biggest, strongest band member was needed to carry that huge bass drum.

When I got into high school my athletic prowess was limited to shifting my Jeep into second and third gears and my musical ability tuned the radio. I was surprised when classmate who was the skinniest, scrawniest kid in the band, was the one to carry that big bass drum. I was also ecstatic when my own sister was selected to be a Honey Bear majorette.

And CHS was powerful on the football field. We won the WPIAL championship in 1954 led by Carl Pastore and Marion Vujevich, we had All State lineman Gary Kaltenbach and All American end Jim Kelly bringing glory to Clairton with their on-field exploits.

We were as patriotic to our country as we were loyal to our school. Reggie Desiderio went off to fight in Korea and was posthumously awarded our nation’s highest medal – the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Roll of Honor stood proudly near the police station and many families, including my own, erected a flagpole in their front yard to recognize the sacrifices of young men and women who served.

The patriotic holiday hoopla included Independence Day celebrations on the fourth of July. That was a day of “cookouts” and games and marked the halfway point of summer vacation. At night everybody sought the best vantage point to watch city sponsored fireworks displays. Since we lived at the end of St. Clair Avenue – there was no bridge to Clairton Park in those days; in fact, St. Clair Avenue was not even paved beyond Gumble Chevrolet at Seventh Street, we walked around the corner, to the edge of the hollow. From that vantage point we were able to see not only Clairton’s fireworks, but Glassport’s, and bits of McKeesport’s.

Remember and reflect where you might have been during those lazy crazy hazy days of summer and Happy 4th of July, 2007.

UPDATE: Happy New Year, and may 2009 bring us a little closer to those happy days of our childhood. Our children and grandchildren deserve no less.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Dream the American Dream” by Joseph Pokorny.

Dr. Forgot

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year and Pardons

Had a Cool Yule? Have a Frantic First

Pardon Me George: The end of any presidential term is laden with pardons from the president. They’ve all done it. But the list of the current prexy is longer than one might think. According to Wikipedia, his list of pardons includes:

1. James Leon Adams (1965 selling firearms to out of state residents and falsifying firearms records)
2. Kristan Diane Bullock Akins (1990 Embezzlement by a bank employee)[
3. Charles James Allen (1979 conspiracy to defraud the United States. A former federal employee, Allen was convicted for approving payments to James Hilles Associates Inc., a Virginia firm, for office supplies that were never delivered. In return, Allen received car parts, a radio, a freezer and other gifts from the firm. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
4. William Thomas Alvis III (Possession of an unregistered firearm, distribution of cocaine)[
5. John Allen Aregood a/k/a Johnny (Sonny) Aregood (Conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens)]
6. Tony Dale Ashworth (1989 unlawful transfer of a firearm)
7. Alan Dale Austin (1987 misapplication of mortgage funds
8. William L. Baker (1980 falsifying records)
9. William Sidney Baldwin Sr. (1981 conspiracy to possess marijuana. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
10. Timothy Evans Barfield (1989 aiding and abetting false statements on a Small Business Administration loan application. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
11. Bruce Louis Bartos (1987 transportation of a machine gun in foreign commerce)
12. George Francis Bauckham (1958 unlawful detention or delay of the mail by a postal employee)
13. David Thomas Billmyer (1978 military conviction for making a false claim)
14. Eric Charles Blanke (Making impressions of obligations of the United States)
15. James Allen (Albert) Bodendieck, Sr. (1959 interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle)
16. Clyde Philip Boudreaux (1975 military conviction for borrowing money from enlisted men, accepting a noninterest-bearing loan from a government contractor and signing and swearing to a false affidavit. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
17. Gene Armand Bridger (1963 Conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and mail fraud)
18. Marie Georgette Ginette Briere (1982 possession of cocaine with intent to distribute)
19. Kenneth Charles Britt (1998 conspiracy to violate fish and wildlife laws)
20. Jeffrey James Bruce (1994 possession of stolen mail)
21. Charles Wayne Bryant (1962 theft of U.S. mail matter by employee)
22. William Bruce Butt (1990 bank embezzlement))
23. Mariano Garza Caballero (1984 dealing in firearms without a license)
24. Carl E. Cantrell (1967 moonshining)
25. Charles Winston Carter (1964 conspiracy to steal government property)
26. Meredith Elizabeth Casares (1989 embezzlement of US Postal Service funds)
27. Ronald William Cauley (1980 Misapplication of bank funds by an employee)
28. Steve Doyle Cavender (Conspiring to import, possess, distribute and dispense marijuana; importing and causing to be imported marijuana; possessing marijuana with intent to distribute)[
29. Cathryn Iline Clasen-Gage (1992 Misprision of a felony)[
30. Leslie Owen Collier (unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act)
31. Thomas Kimble Collinsworth (1989 Receipt of a stolen motor vehicle that had been transported in interstate commerce)
32. Charles Russell Cooper (1959 bootlegging)
33. Milton Kirk Cordes (conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, prohibiting importation into the country of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws)
34. Anthony John Curreri (1976 Mail fraud)
35. Morris F. Cranmer, Jr. (1988 Making materially false statements to a federally-insured institution)
36. Dale C. Critz, Jr. (1989 making a false statement)
37. Richard Micheal Culpepper (making false statements to the federal government)
38. William Charles Davis (1983 income tax evasion)
39. Randall Leece Deal (1960 and 1964 liquor laws)
40. Brenda Jean Dolenz-Helmer (reporting or helping cover up a crime)
41. Paul Jude Donnici (September 23, 1993) Use of a telephone in the transmission of wagering information
42. William Henry Eagle (1972 moonshining)
43. Mark Alan Eberwine (1985 conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, and obstructing the assessment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service and making false declarations to the grand jury. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
44. Rusty Lawrence Elliott (1991 Making counterfeit Federal Reserve notes)
45. Marie Elena Eppens of Lynden, Wash. (conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana
46. Robert Carter Eversole (1984 theft)
47. Lydia Lee Ferguson of Sun City, Ariz. (conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana
48. Gerald Douglas Ficke (1992 money laundering)
49. Harper James Finucan (1980 marijuana possession with intent to distribute)
50. Kenneth Clifford Foner (1991 bank fraud)
51. Anthony Americo Franchi (1983 tax evasion)
52. Colin Earl Francis (1993 accepting a kickback of about $9,000 for helping a vendor for United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft division, where Francis worked at the time, land a contract. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
53. Victoria Diane Frost (1994 conspiracy to possess)
54. William Grover Frye (1968 AWOL and 1973 sale of stolen car)
55. Joseph Daniel Gavin (1979 military insubordination, drunkenness, threats, and other offenses)
56. George Glenn (1956 accepting $50 bribe while in military)
57. Eduviges Duvi Gonzalez-Matsumura of Clovis, Calif. (aiding and abetting embezzlement of bank funds)
58. George Clarence Greene Jr. (Mail fraud)
59. Samuel Wattie Guerry (1984 food stamp fraud)
60. Adam Wade Graham (1992 Conspiracy to deliver 10 or more grams of LSD)
61. Charles E. Hamilton (1989 mail fraud)
62. Stanley Bernard Hamilton 1990 (money order fraud)
63. Brianna Lea Haney (1991 failure to report monetary instruments)
64. Andrew Foster Harley (wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine)
65. George Thomas Harley (1984 aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
66. Rufus Edward Harris (1963 Possession and selling tax-unpaid whiskey)
67. Jesse Ray Harvey (1990 Property damage by use of explosives and destruction of an energy facility)
68. David Custer Heaston (1988 false statement)
69. Melodie Jean Hebert (1984 defrauding U.S. with false claims)
70. Obie Gene Helton (unauthorized acquisition of food stamps)
71. Carey C. Hice Sr. (income tax evasion)
72. Geneva Yvonne Hogg (bank embezzlement
73. Patricia Ann Hultman (1985 conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
74. James Won Hee Kang a/k/a Won Hee Kang (Trafficking in counterfeit goods)
75. Bobby Frank Kay Sr. (1959 operation of an illegal distillery)
76. James Ernest Kinard, Jr. (1984 fraudulent firearms dealer records)
77. Richard Ardell Krueger (1979 mail fraud and 1980 and false statement on a loan application)
78. Devin Timothy Kruse (1979 AWOL from Coast Guard)
79. Margaret Ann Leggett (1981 false claims)
80. Raul Marin (1982 failure to appear in court)
81. Larry Paul Lenius (1989 Conspiracy to distribute cocaine)
82. Larry Lee Lopez (1985 Conspiracy to import marijuana)
83. Alan Stephen Maiss (Misprision of a felony)
84. Bobbie Archie Maxwell (1962 Mailing a threatening letter)
85. David B. McCall, Jr. (1997 False entry in bank books and aiding and abetting)[]
86. William Hoyle McCright Jr. (making false entries, books, reports or statements to a bank)
87. Paul Julian McCurdy (misapplication of bank funds)
88. Melvin L. McKee (1982 conspiracy to make false statements on a loan application)
89. Charles McKinley, (1950 moonshining)
90. Michael Mark McLaughlin (1983 mail fraud and conspiracy)
91. Craven Wilford McLemore (1983 Conspiracy to defraud the United States and Caddo County)
92. Denise Bitters Mendelkow (1981 Embezzlement by a bank employee)
93. Richard Harold Miller (Conspiracy to defraud the United States)
94. Michael Robert Moelter (1988 illegal gambling business)
95. Robert Earl Mohon Jr. (conspiracy to distribute marijuana)
96. Billie Curtis Moore (1977 income tax evasion)
97. Ronald Alan Mohrhoff (unlawful use of a telephone in a narcotics felony)
98. Richard Arthur Morse (1963 transportation of a stolen vehicle)[]
99. Gerard Murphy (1972 car theft)
100. Kenneth Lynn Norris (1993 unlawful disposal of hazardous waste)[]
101. Delano Abraham Nixon (Forging the endorsement on a U.S. Treasury check)
102. Joseph Mathew Novak (1994 possession and transfer of an illegal weapon)
103. Eric William Olson (1984 military conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
104. Glanus Terrell Osborne (1990 possessing a stolen motor vehicle)[]
105. John H. Overholt (Concealment of information affecting Social Security benefits)
106. Morris Keith Parker (Misprision of a felony)]
107. Jerry L.(2005 armed bank robbery)
108. Fred Dale Pitzer (1976 transportation of falsely made securities)
109. Charles Blurford Power (1948 transportation of a stolen vehicle)[]
110. Michael John Pozorski (1988 Unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm)
111. Daniel Figh Pue III (illegal treatment, storage and disposal of a hazardous waste without a permit)
112. Robert Truman Reece (Unauthorized absence,missing ship's movement)
113. Thomas R. Reece (1969 violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
114. James Edward Reed (1975 marijuana possession with intent to distribute)
115. Cecil John Rhodes (1981 false statement on a loan application)
116. John Louis Ribando (1976 and 1978 marijuana dealing)
117. Donald Edward Roessler (Embezzlement of mail matter)
118. Larry Gene Ross (1989 making false statements in a bank loan application. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
119. Ernest Rudnet (1992 conspiracy to file false tax returns)
120. Gary L. Saltzburg (1995 theft of government property)
121. John Gregory Schillace (1988 conspiracy to possess cocaine for distribution)[]
122. Russell Don Sell (1995 aiding and abetting a false statement on a loan application)
123. Scott LaVerne Sparks (1989 theft of government property)
124. Wendy St. Charles (1984 conspiracy to trade narcotics and cocaine distribution)
125. David Lloyd St. Croix (1989 disposal of stolen explosives)
126. Jearld David Swanner (1991 making false statements in a bank loan application. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
127. James Walter Taylor (1991 bank fraud. Pardoned December 21, 2006)
128. Johnson Heyward Tisdale (1994 food stamp fraud)
129. Issac Robert Toussie (False statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, mail fraud)(Revoked a day later)[8]
130. Edward Rodriguez Trevino, Jr. (1997 theft, convicted in military court)
131. Janet Theone Upton (1975 mail fraud. pardoned December 21, 2006)
132. Orion Lynn Vick (aiding and abetting the theft of government property)
133. Jerry Dean Walker (1989 cocaine distribution)
134. Joseph William Warner (1995 arson on an Indian reservation)
135. Mark Lewis Weber (1981 Selling Quaalude tablets, selling, using, and possessing marijuana )
136. Roger Charles Weber (1969 Theft from an interstate shipment)
137. David Lane Woolsey (Aiding and abetting violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act)

Issac Robert Toussie (False statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, mail fraud) George W. Bush has revoked his pardon after discovering Issac Robert Toussie's father donated USD $28,500 to the National Republican Party in April

George never was the best of readers: Perhaps the president saw the name of Isaac Robert Toussie and thought it was Lewis Scooter Libby, but once he realized his mistake, he corrected it – something he was loathe to do in Iraq, Katrina, and the list of other blunders while in office. But in honor of the whoops pardon incident, we will dedicate our own version of a song. Think of the melody of “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” with apologies to Glen Miller nad his fans.

Pardon me, George
My Daddy donated 28 grand,
Or was that twenty-nine?
I can’t remember, gimme mine.
I can afford
To to skip out on my felonies
My Dad’s got my fare
And he will send it anywhere.

I falsified some documents and I lied to the feds
Evaded lots of taxes and put HUD in the red
Inflated my appraisal
And now my nights and days‘ll
Be spent on my spaghetti and basil

Thank you George the pardon is just what I need,
It really has nothing to do with felonies or greed.
I’m so glad you’ve spoken
But, WHAT??? You’re now revoking
My pardon, now my garden
And all my graft will be going out to seed.

A little blogging music Maestro… “I Beg Your Pardon” by Kon Kan.

Dr. Forgot

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rudolph and Football

Merry Curmudgeonly Christmas + Football

Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer: Is it just me or does the Rudolph song smack of hypocrisy? Let’s take a look, “All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names, they never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games.” Rudy was the object of taunting and bullying. His peers ganged up on him, blackballed him from the fun and games. We can presume that if there was a reindeer fraternity at Reindeer University, he would have been blackballed from membership. In a word, Rudy was excluded. Why? Because his nose was red. Maybe some of the gossip held that Rudy was a drunk and not fit to pull Santa’s sleigh, although the Big Man himself was said to sip a toddy or two that awaited him at the homes of the little kids.

Then one foggy Christmas eve, the Boss decided to further humiliate Rudy by using him as a fog light. Seeing the outcast get attention, the other bullies became toadies, “…then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee.” What a crew! It would serve them right if one of the tricks they played on Rudy that day was to serve him Ex-lax laden brownies and warm milk. Bah, Humbug! (P.S. I didn’t get the bailout I really wanted for Christmas).

Clairton legacy wins and loses: My favorite dentist and Clairton high classmate Dr. Ron, and his wife and fellow classmate Adele sent me a recent newspaper clipping about Pennsylvania State High School Football Championships. First, a little history about Clairton High School. During the 1950s Clairton was a mill town that personified the American dream. Many of the residents were first and second generation Americans whose families had migrated from Eastern Europe and beyond. They found work and prosperity mostly in the steel mills around the Pittsburgh area. By the late 1950s Clairton High School was bursting at the seams with war babies and was blessed with the best in music, sports, and academics. To alleviate the overcrowding a second school was built in a semi-rural bucolic location on Old Clairton Road. The inaugural class at Thomas Jefferson High School was comprised solely of former Clairton High School classmates. Curiously school rivalries did not develop between the two schools as their populations grew apart.

Fast Forward a half century: The demographics of both schools changed over the years. The recession in the steel industry of the 1980s crippled the Clairton economy and many of the best and brightest who left for college found more promise in jobs elsewhere. The community that fed Thomas Jefferson High School continued to thrive as white collar workers and business owners fled the rundown city whose tax base had withered, and moved to the newer, cleaner, more rural climes. The parent school struggled as the newer school thrived.

Football remained paramount: The one area in which the two schools stayed similar was athletics. Both schools continued to thrive. As Clairton shrunk in size and played in a smaller division the chances of the two schools playing one another faded. That is not to say strong links did not exist. One of Thomas Jefferson’s most successful coaches was a Clairton grad as were many parents of Jefferson students. Still, both schools played their sports in what Future Shock author Alvin Toffler might describe as “…in isolated proximity of each other.” Though their paths did not cross as opponents, they made history this year.

Class A and Class AAA championships: A couple of weeks ago the Pennsylvania high school football championships were held in the Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA. Clairton High School played Steelton-Highspire for the Class A state title. Both teams sported identical 15-0 records coming onto the game. At halftime the teams were tied, not only in points but in speed and grit. But once the second half began, as so often happens in football, the ball bounced the other way for the Clairton Bears and they finished the game as runners up. Still, not too shabby.

The Clairton-spawned Thomas Jefferson Jaguars entered their AAA title game against heralded Archbishop Wood. The Jaguars stomped the Vikings 34-7 to become state champs for the second consecutive year and three of the past five seasons. Their record over the past seven seasons is 92-8. Just as the first year graduating class had an affinity to the Clairton Bears, so must many current and former Clairtonians be proud of the Jefferson Jaguars.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Rise to Glory” by DJ Quik.

Dr. Forgot

Monday, December 22, 2008

What it Was was Football

Football Playoffs and Bowl Games Begin

College and Professional Football: Ah the time of the year when footballs fly through the air and big ugly guys smack other big ugly guys around and get paid for it. College players don’t get paid per se, but they do get a “free college education,” or at least, thanks to strict NCAA rules they get to major in eligibility for four years. We’ll talk more about that later, but first, let me air a few of my pet peeves. They have to do with the English language. Announcers at all levels of athletic competition seem to have an affinity for murdering the English language. These are probably the same guys who mock immigrants for not learning English quickly enough or who don’t speak with grammatical perfection. Well, let’s take a look at a few of a few of the trite phrases and language butchers.

Whoa, Nelly: One of the favorite terms by Keith Jackson that has become his hallmark is fine with me. But the one that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me is “True freshman.” As in, “The quarterback is a true freshman.” Are the other freshmen liars, or perhaps seniors masquerading as freshmen? No, the NCAA blesses college athletes five calendar years to complete four years of eligibility. If a first year academic freshman does not participate in sports, then the following year that player might be a sophomore academically, but is playing his first (or freshman) year of eligibility.” Thus an academic sophomore who participates in his first year of athletic eligibility is a “Redshirt freshman.” I guess the announcers believe that no freshman should be on the field without two descriptive adjectives. But fellas, the first year participant who is also in his first year of academic statue is a freshman; not a “True freshman.” Whew, I feel better.

Not to confuse all the Ohio State’s with one another: The next expression that rankles me goes something like, “The BYUs, Penn States, and Ohio States….” Uh, fellas, there is only one BYU, one Ohio State, one Penn State, etc. so they can’t be plural. The exception is Miami, which is found both in Ohio and Florida. Next, let’s talk about tense. After a player is tackled trying to run up the middle of the field, the announcer will often say, “If he runs to the outside, he scores.” Come on guys. Is it so difficult to say, “Had he run to the outside he would have scored?” Oh, don’t forget, coming up is a third down situation. I once counted “situation” used 27 times. How about “Third down coming up?” And if your team is doing poorly because, “they have yet to get untracked,” does that mean your team is tracked? How exactly does a team become tracked in order for it to become untracked?

Switching sports metaphors: It seems that anything that happens for the third time regardless of the sport becomes a trifecta. If a baseball team wins the last several games of the searon, that team will have “run the table.” A player who might be the best in a particular area is “arguably the best.” But I never hear an argument. Or, “he’s as (fill in the blank) as anybody in the country.” Often a team needs to amp up its energy, or it may need to hunker down. Can a team amp down or hunker up? If not, the direction is superfluous.

Individual achievement: A player of substantial size, especially in basketball, is often praised by announcers because he can “get up and down the court for a man his size.” But the king of redundancies and mispronunciations has to be John Madden. After each play Madden feels obligated to provide analysis of what has occurred no matter how redundant or irrelevant. He would be an ideal color man for radio or for visually impaired folks watching television, but PLEASE John, ease up on the paralysis of your analysis. My final comment has to do with words that are either misused or made up. How often does one hear of a player’s “athleticism?” We will close with a recent term that was spewed from the lips of an announcer when a football player leapt over opponents. In the words of the announcer he became “verticalized.

But those announcers went to college: Graduation rates among college athletes have been a hot topic for decades. Allen Sack, a professor in the College of Business at the University of New Haven, played football on Notre Dame’s 1966 national championship football team. He has written several articles critical of NCAA reporting of graduation rates for athletes. In a recent article Stack states, “For instance, the University of Florida, a top-ranked team in the Bowl Championship Series ratings, graduates 81 percent of its student body, but only 36 percent of its football players. Other top ranked BCS teams whose graduation rates fall 30 or more percentage points below those other students include Texas, USC, Georgia, BYU, Georgia Tech, California, and Michigan State. The average FGR for the top 25 BCS teams as of Nov. 3 was 52 percent, 18 percent below that of student bodies.

There are graduation rates and there are graduation rates: The NCAA uses a different method to calculate athlete graduation so schools appear to have a higher graduation rate. Some, like Sack say is tantamount to cooking the books. But even when giving the NCAA the benefit of the doubt, a closer look reveals what is referred to as “clustering.” According to a recent USA Today article, “the NCAA's toughening of academic requirements for athletes has helped create an environment in which they are more likely to graduate than other students — but also more likely to be clustered in programs without the academic demands most students face. Some athletes say they have pursued — or have been steered to — degree programs that helped keep them eligible for sports but didn't prepare them for post-sports careers.”

All so-called Division 1A school were studied and the results were that “83% of the schools (118 of 142) had at least one team in which at least 25% of the juniors and seniors majored in the same thing. For example, seven of the 19 players on Stanford's baseball team majored in sociology.

•34% of the teams (222 of 654) had at least one such cluster of student-athletes.

•More than half of the clusters are what some analysts refer to as "extreme," in which at least 40% of athletes on a team are in the same major (125 of 235). All seven of the juniors and seniors on Texas-El Paso's men's basketball team majored in multidisciplinary studies, for example.” And a Multidisciplinary Studies major prepares the young college graduate to do what? Oh yes, to apply at all those multidisciplinary firms that snap them up.

Graduation rates increase and the NCAA can boast that they keep the student in student athlete. Coaches who recruit can tell the parent of every athlete what they want to hear – that their son or daughter will leave their institution with a quality education. Even the athlete believes it. But the joke’s on him, or her.

A little blogging music Maestro… A little Beach Boys singing, “Be True to Your School.”

Dr. Forgot

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby Its Cold Outside

Paralysis of Analysis

Don’t let your heart be snowbound: Yes, Las Vegas is in the Mohave Desert. Yes, the desert is hot and dry. Yes, the average precipitation in Las Vegas is about 2.75” annually, but when it rains, “gully washers” start high in the foothills on the west side of town and cascade down onto the Strip a little more than 300 feet below, then down to Henderson, another 300 feet or so, and finally into Lake Mead. The County has spent millions of dollars to tame the flooding with catch basins strategically placed throughout the Las Vegas Valley and for the most part it works pretty well. No longer do cars float in the Strip Hotel Casino parking lots, and those lucky enough to be visiting during a desert rainstorm are no longer treated to Mother Nature’s fury. But the snow… well, that’s another story.

Oh the weather outside was frightful: Earlier this week a storm blew down from Alaska and Canada and through the desert. This happens every 5-8 years or so and the Las Vegas valley sees a sprinkling of show but not very often and not for very long. But records are made to be broken, right? The 3.6 inches that fell on Vegas last Wednesday was the heaviest snowfall in recorded history. That is not a misprint 3.6 inches was a record. McCarran International airport was shut down tighter than the lid on a pickle jar, and I-15 northbound to Utah and southbound to California was shut down. U.S. 95 north toward Reno and south toward Boulder City and Arizona was shut down. The city came to a grinding halt. Thousands of airline passengers were stranded. Of course, there are worse places to be stranded than Las Vegas, unless of course, you gambled all your money and had your airline ticket pinned to the inside of your underwear. Nobody was Leaving Las Vegas.”

The fountain of knowledge was turned off: Nevada, like most other states is experiencing an economic slowdown. Two rural schools had meetings planned to see if they would be eliminated forever. One, on Mount Charleston, was set to have a town meeting Wednesday to discuss its future but the meeting was snowed out. So were Christmas concerts, plays, and other school activities were all canceled. School administrators got their heads together and fortunately didn’t hurt themselves, but decided to close the schools Thursday. Let me repeat, 3.6” of snow. Of course, as luck would have it, Thursday was bright and sunny and teachers and students had the day off but without an opportunity to play in the departed, melted snow.

Are there bargains in Vegas?: The MGM seems to think so.


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Kate Evans/Joan Bloom, M Booth & Associates
(212) 481-7000 or

About The Signature at MGM Grand: For a gratifying getaway, look no further than The Signature at MGM Grand, ideally situated away from the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip. Ranging from 550 to 1,500 square feet, suites feature king-size, pillow-top beds draped in 300-thread count sheets and soft, down comforters; bathrooms stocked with plush towels, cozy robes and June Jacobs’ spa products; and in-suite kitchens featuring top-of-the-line appliances and cabinets filled with bone china, glass stemware, sterling silverware and a selection of cookware. Guests also enjoy The Signature’s private pool complex, state-of-the-art fitness centers and superior concierge staff readily available to customize a dream vacation. While staying at The Signature’s non-smoking, non-gaming environment, guests are only steps away from the excitement of MGM Grand’s electrifying casino, award-winning dining, world-class entertainment, dynamic nightlife and luxurious spa and salon.

A little blogging music Maestro… One more time with Elvis doing, “Viva Las Vegas.”

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prisoner of Second Grade

Help, I’m being held prisoner…

More Clairton legacy: We have written about our old hometown of Clairton, PA on numerous occasions. See labels for other Clairton entries. Clairton was a mill town of about 20,000 people during the 1950s and was fairly diverse for that era. Those of Anglo extraction were for the most part the movers and shakers in Clairton although after World War II several second generation Americans became prominent citizens in politics, supervisory positions in the mills, and of course business owners. The town was prosperous boasting at least three movie theaters and about a dozen car dealerships. The high school boasted a winning football team and two All American football players; Andy Berchock and Jim Kelley. Ron Lancaster, “The Little General" is a legend in Canadian football. Capt. Reginald Desiderio won the Congressional Medal of honor. Other sons and daughters of Clairton include entertainers, congresswomen, doctors and poets.

My poet of choice: Joan Cutuly was an odd duck. Her dad was a prominent Clairton physician and her mom a scientist. They had six college degrees between them and Joan was genetically engineered to become a scientist as well. She was smart enough, earning top grades in school and her analytical mind could analyze a science problem as easily as it could diagram a sentence. But her heart was that of a poet not a scientist. She wrote poetry. Lots of it. She also published a book in 1993 about her days teaching English at Las Vegas High School. It sold well and Joan Cutuly’s name was added to the long list of Clairtonians who made their mark on the world. Then Joan just disappeared.

Clairton High School alumni are diligent about keeping in touch. Many graduating classes have reunions every five years. Some classes combine their reunions and there is an annual multi-class reunion each summer at Clairton Park. Clairton ex-pats living in Florida even have an annual Clairton High School reunion. During the reunions the “Whatever happened to…” question is invariable asked and when Joan’s name was mentioned nobody seemed to know. Didn’t she visit her Dad once driving up in a limo? Was she waiting tables at a lodge in the Grand Canyon? A ski bum in Telluride? Selling insurance in Seaside, Oregon? Then on to the next classmate.

The lost has been found: Turns out Joan was indeed in Oregon for the past decade or so writing poetry and compiling a book that was recently published. “Prisoner of Second Grade” is a sad and hilarious story of the author’s 50-year struggle trying to both reconcile the poet’s mind trapped inside a scientist’s environment and trying to make a perpetually broken system of education work. If you have any Clairton connections this book is a must read. If you ever felt your psyche was trapped in the wrong body this book is a must read. If you can answer “yes” to the question, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the American education system?” this book is a must read. Go to Joan’s website at and see what you are missing.

More famous Clairtonians: Nancy Bekavac was the sixth president of Scripps College, one of the Claremont Colleges in California. She was the first female to hold that position. Nancy was a 1965 CHS grad who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore and then graduated from Yale Law where she was a classmate of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Benny Benack was made famous by his song "Beat'em Bucs" and was a staple at Pittsburgh Pirate and Steeler games. He began playing trumpet at age five, and practiced for six or seven hours a day throughout his childhood. He was an innovative bandleader at Clairton High School, introducing jazz, swing, and high-stepping routines to the marching band's pregame and halftime performances.

Washington Redskins running back Larry Brown, born in Clairton, went to four consecutive Pro Bowls under Coach Vince Lombardi.

Dale Hamer a professional football referee for 23 years was an Algebra teacher at Clairton High School. He is now an instant replay official.

At 6’8” Stew Johnson was considered a giant in the 1950s when he played center and Forward at Murray State. He was drafted into professional basketball in the second round of the NBA draft by the New York Knicks in 1966.

Lance Michael Parrish, a Clairtonian, aka "Big Wheel" played professional baseball starting in the mid-1970s with the Detroit Tigers and playing catcher for several teams until he was beaten out by Mike Piazza.

Finally, Claudine Cmrada Schneider was born in Clairton and served ten years in the U.S. House of Representatives. She also was a faculty member at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Just a few who got their start in the City of Clairton, Pennsylvania.

A little blogging music Maestro… The Clairton High School band pep song, “When the Saints Go Marching In” with Benny Benack directing.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Farewell Dear Friends

A Week of Legacy

Florie of China: A true era has passed with the passing of a dear friend. Florie was the last of the group of World War II era people who simply exuded class, good manners, grace, and a sense of worldliness. She lived in Shanghai, China as part of a class of people who rubbed elbows with heads of state. Her eldest son was born in Shanghai and her family’s textile mills produced a good portion of the Chinese GNP and exports. After the War ended and the infamous Gang of Seven began their takeover in China, Florie and her family were able to move to South America where although life was not as regal as it had been, she still was able to maintain her persona.

Years became decades and Florie’s family did as families do. Her parents passed on, she lost her husband, and her children got on with their lives throughout the world. Florie moved to Canada and lived alone in her apartment for decades as the world that she and her family helped define changed. Even into her nineties she visited her children regularly in New York and Thailand. One son moved to Canada and lived nearby.

Last week at age 99 Florie fell in her apartment, apparently after suffering a heart attack. She had rarely been ill or dependent and her children sensed the worst. Her eldest son raced to the Bangkok airport but in a cruel twist of fate the airport was closed by government protesters and remained so for more than a week. Unable to leave Thailand the eldest son depended on missives from his sibling in Canada for medical updates. There were few, as Florie passed away peacefully not long after entering the hospital. The tragedy is doubled as the son who devoted his life to making sure his mother was able to live the life she deserved, was prevented by political unrest from being at her side at the end.

James of Japan: Jim Wilson really wasn’t from Japan. He wasn’t even Japanese. Well, yes he was. Jim was born as Caucasian American as one could be. Jim joined the Navy and spent time in Japan as a cryptologist and computer expert. There he decided to stay for, oh, a quarter century or so. He became so prolific in the Japanese language and culture that he became a court reporter and Japanese interpreter. When his younger brother became a ward of the state Jim brought him to Japan and enrolled him in school. That’s just the kind of guy Jim was. But that is not only who Jim was. Short in stature and slight in build, Jim had more energy than the Eveready Bunny.

Jim became a businessman and taught himself the technology of the internet. His specialties included business and professional coaching, wireless networking, multimedia, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Also Consulting: Japanese-English DVD translations and conversions, site development and strategies as well as conference A/V Support, Multilingual Simultaneous Interpreting. Jim was a master promoter, developing dozens of media outlets including vegasnews, which featured himself as a columnist as well as Robin Leach and myself. If you wonder how effective he was at getting his clients featured on the net, Google Makino Green Tea, one of his recent Las Vegas clients and notice the plethora and placement of the product.

A small segment of Jim’s resume includes: “Developed 1.5 million + subscribers in Japan for streaming desktop product, Index-TV, and three strategic alliances for content and distribution mostly in Asia. Successfully negotiated Japan license for Canadian Playerless streaming media product which replaced Index-TV's original QuickTime-based product. Vice President, Business Development, Managed Staff of 27; Direct reports included directors of Marketing, Sales, Public Relations, Creative, Internet Broadcasting and related programming staff. Identified and developed 140 business alliances and partnering strategies for print and electronic media. Internet and business development services for corporations marketing to Japan and Japanese tourists in Las Vegas. Japanese Website Development. Owner at Wilson Productions, Vegas Buzz News & Radio .

Jim’s biggest venture of late was the Las Vegas Marathon, a project he worked on for several months. He did publicity nad planned to stream the even live across the world via his online news network. The run will take place Sunday, December 7, but Jim will not be there.

Last week, probably on Tuesday, Jim’s heart ceased to function. He lived alone and remained at home until he was discovered two days later after concerned friends asked the landlord to check on his welfare. The world is a less perfect place after the loss of my friends Florie and Jim. They were both single-mold people. Neither met the other but both made the world a better place. Rest in peace my dear friends.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Roses and Tears” by Capercaillie.

Dr. Forgot

Read me also for the last time at Jim Wilson’s:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Little Pick-Me-Up

The Week of the Chuckle

No Phi Beta Kappa: Before we get to the serious stuff, let me share transcripts of some alleged 911 calls that I received. I will not reveal the city of origin but let’s just say it supposedly came from a city known for its Country and Western music:

Dispatcher : 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
Caller: I heard what sounded like gunshots coming from the brown house on the corner.
Dispatcher: Do you have an address?
Caller: No, I have on a blouse and slacks, why?

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller: I'm trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn't have an eleven on it.
Dispatcher: This is nine eleven.
Caller: I thought you just said it was nine-one-one
Dispatcher: Yes, ma'am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing.
Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I'm not stupid.

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What's the nature of your emergency?
Caller: My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart
Dispatcher: Is this her first child?
Caller No, you idiot! This is her husband!

Dispatcher: 9-1-1
Caller: Yeah, I'm having trouble breathing. I'm all out of breath. Darn...I think I'm going to faint.
Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm at a pay phone. North and Foster.
Dispatcher: Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
Caller: No
Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
Caller: Running from the Police.

Remember, these callers are the same ones who vote for our leaders.

Next, a little football humor to commemorate a great season despite the BCS providing their BS to Boise State. Quotes by coaches and players:

'After you retire, there's only one big event left... and I ain't ready for that.' - Bobby Bowden Florida State

'The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.' - Lou Holtz / Arkansas

'When you win, nothing hurts.' - Joe Namath / Alabama

'Motivation is simple.. You eliminate those who are not motivated.' - Lou Holtz / Arkansas

'A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.' - Frank Leahy / Notre Dame

'There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.' - Woody Hayes / Ohio State

'I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation.' - Bob Devaney / Nebraska

'In Alabama , an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant.' - Wally Butts / Georgia

'You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life.' - Paul Dietzel / LSU

'It's kind of hard to rally around a math class.' - Bear Bryant / Alabama

When asked if Fayetteville was the end of the world. 'No, but you can see it from here.' - Lou Holtz / Arkansas

'There's one sure way to stop us from scoring- give us the ball near the goal line.' - Matty Bell / SMU

'Lads, you're not to miss practice unless your parents died or you died.' - Frank Leahy / Notre Dame

'I never graduated from Iowa , but I was only there for two terms - Truman's and Eisenhower's.' - Alex Karras / Iowa

'My advice to defensive players: Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in a bad humor.' -Bowden Wyatt / Tennessee

'I could have been a Rhodes Scholar, except for my grades.' - Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State

'Always remember... Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David.' - Shug Jordan / Auburn

'They cut us up like boarding house pie. And that's real small pieces.' - Darrell Royal / Texas

'I asked Darrell Royal, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, why he didn't recruit me and he said: 'Well, Walt, we took a look at you and you weren't any good.' - Walt Garrison / Oklahoma State

'Son, you've got a good engine, but your hands aren't on the steering wheel.' - Bobby Bowden / Florida State

'Football is not a contact sport - it is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.' - Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State

After USC lost 51-0 to Notre Dame, his postgame message to his team: 'All those who need showers, take them.' - John McKay / USC

'If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education.' - Murray Warmath /Minnesota

'The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb. To be a back, you only have to be dumb.' - Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

'We didn't tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking.' - Wilson Matthews / Little Rock Central High School

'Three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad.' - Darrell Royal /University of Texas

'I've found that prayers work best when yo have big players.' - Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

'Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football.' - John Heisman

A little blogging music Maestro… “Backfield in Motion” by Mel and Tim.
Dr. Forgot

Read me also at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vegas Weekend Update

Vegas Weekend Update

What happens in Las Vegas…

TIGER SHARKS NOW LURK AT MANDALAY BAY: Species Ranked Second Deadliest to Great White Shark. Two female tiger sharks now rule the waters of Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. The only tiger sharks available for viewing in the U.S., these exciting new additions can be identified by their distinct tiger-striped markings in the 1.6-million-gallon aquarium. Attributing to the tiger sharks’ impressive reputation are their sharp, serrated teeth, powerful jaw and insatiable, non-discriminating appetite. These sharks have been known to consume unusual items such as license plates, tires, baseballs and other debris – earning them the moniker “garbage cans of the sea.” Currently, Shark Reef’s two tiger sharks are more than six feet in length, and the species can reach up to 14 feet in length. The scavengers lurk in shallow, coastal waters in tropical and temperate regions such as Hawaii and Australia.For more information, visit, or call (702) 632-4555.

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas to Open in December
Encore, the new signature resort in the Wynn collection, is located next door to flagship property Wynn Las Vegas. Encore, set to open in December, is a distinct resort destination with its own repertoire of accommodations, culinary offerings and leisure activities including 11 retail outlets, seven cozy bars and lounges, five restaurants, one ultra-chic nightclub and an opulent spa and salon. The Encore experience includes a landscape of foliage and shimmering pools of water. Butterflies, vibrant carpets, mosaic tiles and textured walls draw you into juxtaposition between indoors and out. For more information, contact Jennifer Dunne, Wynn Las Vegas,

Michelin Selects 2009 Restaurant and Hotel Selections for Las Vegas
The world’s most discriminating restaurant and lodging guidebook – the prestigious, 107-year-old Michelin Guide from France – recently released its 2009 edition to showcase Las Vegas’ offerings. The Michelin Guide Las Vegas 2009 features 140 restaurants and 32 hotels. Among Las Vegas restaurants receiving coveted starred ratings: Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand (three stars – the guidebook’s top rating); Picasso at Bellagio, Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace and Alex at Wynn Las Vegas (two stars); and Alizé at the Palms, André’s Downtown, Aureole at Mandalay Bay, Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace, Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas, DJT at Trump International, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, Le Cirque at Bellagio, Michael Mina at Bellagio, miX at Mandalay Bay, Nobu at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Restaurant Charlie at Palazzo and Wing Lei at Wynn Las Vegas (one star). One star means a very good restaurant in its category. Two stars mean excellent cooking, worth a detour. Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey. For more information, contact Ceci De La Montanya, Allison & Partners,

AAA Announces 2009 Five Diamond Award Recipients
AAA recently announced the hotels and restaurants that achieved Five Diamond status, the travel authority’s highest rating. For 2009, Las Vegas AAA Five Diamond-rated hotels include Bellagio (eighth consecutive year), Four Seasons Las Vegas (tenth consecutive year), Skylofts at MGM Grand (third consecutive year), Wynn Las Vegas (third consecutive year) and The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino (second consecutive year). Las Vegas AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurants include Alex at Wynn Las Vegas (fourth consecutive year), Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand (third consecutive year), Le Cirque at Bellagio (sixth consecutive year), Picasso at Bellagio (eighth consecutive year) and first-time winner Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace. AAA rates nearly 60,000 restaurants and lodgings each year throughout all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, providing the broadest coverage of any U.S. rating system, both geographically and by number of properties rated. Of those, only 103 resorts and 59 restaurants earned the highly coveted AAA Five Diamond rating for 2009. For more information, contact Heather Hunter, AAA,

Las Vegas Art Museum Presents L.A. Now
The Las Vegas Art Museum is pleased to present L.A. Now, curated by David Pagel. The exhibit displays 20 emerging and established artists who are currently living and working in Los Angeles. The artists work in a wide variety of styles and media; each has gained national or international recognition for artistic achievement. Mr. Pagel is an art critic for the LA Times and a professor at Claremont Graduate School. The exhibition opens for regular viewing on Dec. 12, and remains on view through March 8, 2009. For more information, contact Anne Kellogg, Las Vegas Art Museum,

NOBHILL TAVERN (Formerly NOBHILL) Debuts at MGM Grand
NOBHILL TAVERN by Michael Mina infuses a new concept into the
ever-evolving Las Vegas dining transformation. Tavern cuisine, an innovative drink menu that pays homage to classic cocktails, and an expansive lounge area where guests can relax while listening to a music selection of popular songs from a variety of genres make up the NOBHILL TAVERN experience. The menu affords guests the opportunity to enjoy Michael Mina’s signature trio concept. For more information, contact Michael McKiski, MGM MIRAGE, at

Pianist Philip Fortenberry of “Jersey Boys” Debuts “Liberace and Me”
Philip Fortenberry, a solo pianist, improvisational composer and cast member of “Jersey Boys,” has debuted his new acoustic cabaret-style piano performance “Liberace and Me” for a six-month limited engagement through March 23 at the Liberace Museum. As a tribute to the legacy of Liberace, the 45-minute, afternoon show features original compositions, selections from the classic repertoire and Broadway music in the 75-seat Cabaret Showroom. For more information, contact Shelley Mansholt, Mansholt PR, at

Bar Louie Opens at Town Square
Bar Louie, a casual neighborhood restaurant and bar, has opened a location at Town Square. The popular Chicago-based chain is known for its signature sandwiches, uniquely prepared appetizers, inventive pizzas and specialty cocktails. The 6,500-square-foot space seats more than 200 and features design elements characteristic of all Bar Louie locations. The venue, which is the 49th in the nation, is open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining. For more information, contact Amy Weisenburger, Bar Louie America, at

The Holidays Arrive at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will welcome winter with a holiday display rich in nostalgia. The display will feature flying reindeer made of whole pecans, a charming snowman family created with white carnations and an oversized wreath adorned with pine cones and a golden bow. The centerpiece is a 32-foot Shasta Fir tree featuring more than 12,000 holiday lights. The holiday display is available for guests to enjoy December 7, 2008 through January 3, 2009. For more information, contact Rebecca Ingram Frisch, MGM MIRAGE, at

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Celebrates 50 Years with Big-Name Entertainment
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), considered the world’s premier rodeo, features 10 straight days of the best in rodeo competition, with a total of 120 contestants competing every night in seven events. Each December, the top 15 contestants, based on the 2008 Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings, in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding qualify to compete at the Wrangler NFR. Some of the biggest names in country music will take the stage at Thomas & Mack Center Dec. 4-13 each day to open the event. Entertainers include Trailer Choir, Jake Owen, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Crystal Shawanda, Red Steagall, Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Daniels, Jewel, Jack Ingram and Matt Lewis as Elvis. For more information, contact Michael Mack, Las Vegas Events,

Ethel M Chocolates Creates Its Annual Chocolate Wonderland
Located adjacent to its Henderson factory, Ethel M Chocolates has transformed its three-acre Botanical Cactus Garden into a Chocolate Wonderland complete with thousands of sparkling lights, opportunities to visit Santa, and appearances by local choirs. Visitors can wander down the garden’s illuminated cacti pathways and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week excluding Christmas Day. The attraction is free of charge and open to the public through Jan. 1, 2009. For more information, contact Katie Knoch, SK+G,

The Springs Preserve Presents Its Second Annual Winter Lights Festival
The Springs Preserve proudly presents its second annual Winter Lights Festival. The lights display in the eight-acre garden and throughout the Preserve is created from half a million LED lights illuminated by solar power, a leading example of a sustainable holiday celebration. Guests enjoy entertainment from roaming performance groups, carriage rides, visits with Santa Claus and Theater Las Vegas’ original puppet show “Dickens Done Over.” Holiday inspired treats and green gift options are available throughout the Preserve. The festival runs 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday through Dec. 21, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily from Dec. 22-24 and Dec. 26. For more information, please Dawn Barraclough, Springs Preserve,

Las Vegas Monorail to Operate on New Year’s Eve with Special Fare
With approximately 300,000 revelers descending upon the Strip on New Year’s Eve, the Las Vegas Monorail will continue to operate even when the Strip closes to vehicles and buses – providing a convenient transportation option for visitors looking to get to the city’s hottest spots safely, quickly and efficiently. The Monorail will be open from 7 a.m. Dec. 31 to 3 a.m. Jan. 1 to transport people throughout the night. The Las Vegas Monorail Company will offer an Unlimited Ride Day Pass for $12. For more information, contact Kristen Hansen, Las Vegas Monorail,

America’s Party to Bring Fireworks Closer to the Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) will once again partner with Fireworks by Grucci for its annual midnight fireworks display to be launched from nine locations along the Strip. Las Vegas’ famed Fremont Street Experience will host a New Year’s Eve celebration called “TributePalooza.” The world’s best tribute bands will perform 14 hours of live music from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. on two stages, and will include tribute bands such as Billy Joel, Eagles, David Bowie, KISS, The Rolling Stones, U2, Queen and Aerosmith. The five blocks of the Fremont Street Experience, home to 10 legendary casinos, will be transformed into the biggest private party in town. For more information, contact Michael Mack, Las Vegas Events,

JW Marriott Las Vegas Celebrates New Year’s Eve
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa will offer two great ways to ring in the New Year. J. C. Wolloughan’s Irish Pub will offer an all-inclusive, three-course dinner complete with party favors and a champagne toast. The culinary team at Ceres has prepared a four-course dinner menu and champagne reception. Join in the countdown with entertainment provided by DJ Kayle Stevens. For more information, contact Lisa Roughley, Roughley Speaking PR, at

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas Offers Ways to Ring in the New Year
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas will offer a four- and five-course gourmet dinner menus at Medici Café & Terrace complemented by party favors, champagne, dancing and live entertainment. Or, guests can join the party in the Firenze Lobby Lounge for dancing, a selection of fine libations and light dining fare. For more information, contact Bonnie Crail, Crail Communications, at

BELLAGIO PRESENTS ‘CLASSIC CONTEMPORARY: LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL & FRIENDS’ New Exhibition in Partnership with Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Debuts January 23, 2009. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA) is pleased to announce the debut of “Classic Contemporary: Lichtenstein, Warhol & Friends. Organized in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), the exhibition will feature important paintings and sculpture by major contemporary artists with a focus on the 1960s and ’70s. The exhibit will include many of the major works in MCASD’s collection, primarily large-scale paintings along with sculpture and works on paper. The iconic artists to be featured were the leaders of their generation – Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt and Ed Ruscha, among others. Their innovative use of material and imagery was at the forefront of Pop Art and Minimalism worldwide. See or

A little blogging music Maestro… “Viva Las Vegas” sung by Elvis.

Dr. Forgot

Read me also at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Turkey Day


Today is Thanksgiving Day, a time for reflection upon things for which we are thankful. Mine is an easy list to prepare – friends, family, yada, yada. But I am most thankful that the Bush Administration will be gone in less than 60 days. Unfair, you say? Kicking a man when he’s defeated, you say? Several lists have been made of Bush’s bungles. Just for chuckles, I’ll use the one by Paul Kiel posted on Ready?

Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty

* Eric G. Andell - deputy undersecretary in charge of newly created Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (previously senior adviser to Secretary of Education Rod Paige) plead guilty to one count of conflict of interest for using government travel for personal causes and was sentenced to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and fined $5,000.

* Claude Allen - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy- resigned, pled guilty to shoplifting from Target stores.

* Lester Crawford - Commissioner, FDA- resigned in late September 2005 after only two months on the job. On October 17th, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, making a false writing and conflict of interest. On February 27, 2007, Crawford was sentenced to three years of probation and was fined $90,000.

* Brian Doyle - Deputy Press Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - Resigned in wake of child sex scandal. Doyle was arrested on April 4th, 2006 and pleaded no contest on September 19, 2006 to seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and sixteen counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor. On November 17th, 2006 Brian Doyle was sentenced to five years in state prison and ten years of probation. He will also need to register as a sex offender.

* Steven Griles - Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department - is the highest-ranked administration official yet convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In March 2007, Griles pleaded guilty to lying about his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Sentenced to 10 months incarceration.

* John T. Korsmo – Chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board from 2002 to 2004 – pleaded guilty in 2005 to lying to the Senate and an inspector general. He swore he had no idea how a list of presidents for FHFB-regulated banks were invited to a fundraiser for his friend’s congressional campaign. On the invites, Korsmo was listed as the “Special Guest.” Got 18 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.

* Scooter Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff - resigned after being indicted for lying to a grand jury and investigators in connection with the investigation stemming from the leak of Valerie Wilson’s covert CIA operative’s identity. Convicted on four of five counts, making him the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-contra scandal. Sentenced to thirty months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. On July 2nd, after a judge decided that Libby would remain in prison during the appeals process, President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence by removing the thirty months in prison.

* David Safavian - former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget - convicted of lying to ethics officials and Senate investigators about his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. On October 27, 2006, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He is currently appealing the ruling.

* Robert Stein - former comptroller and funding officer for the now disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority, Southern Central Region in Al-Hillah, Iraq - pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, possession of a machine gun, and being a felon in possession of a fire arm. On January 30, 2007 Stein was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.6 million.

* Roger Stillwell - desk officer, Interior Department - pleaded guilty to failing to report Redskins tickets and free dinners from Jack Abramoff.

Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety

* Philip Cooney - chief of staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality - a former oil industry lawyer with no scientific expertise, Cooney resigned after it was revealed he had watered down reports on global warming.

* George Deutsch - press aide, NASA - resigned amid allegations he prevented the agency’s top climate scientist from speaking publicly about global warming.

* Michael Elston - chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty - announced his resignation on June 15, 2007. Despite allegations that he’d threatened at least four of the eight fired US Attorneys, McNulty said Elston had served the Justice Department “with distinction for nearly eight years.”

* Kyle Dustin “Dusty” Foggo - appointed executive director of the CIA, the agency’s third-highest post, in October 2004 - resigned and was ultimately indicted on bribery charges related to the Duke Cunningham scandal.

* Alberto Gonzales - former Attorney General - resigned without explanation amidst investigations of the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the politicization of the Justice Department, warrantless surveillance, and the torture and mistreatment of detainees.

* Monica Goodling - former Justice Department liaison to the White House and senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned on April 7, 2007 amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.

* Michelle Larson Korsmo - deputy chief of staff, Department of Labor - Helped her husband (see John Korsmo, above) with his donor scam. Quietly left her Labor plum job in February 2004, about two weeks before news broke that she and her husband were the targets of a criminal probe.

* Howard “Cookie” Krongard - former State Department inspector general — accused of not properly investigating State Department contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan; of retaliating against whistleblowers in his own office; and of not telling the truth about his knowledge of his brother’s ties with Blackwater, a State Department contractor. Faced with a possible perjury investigation, Howard Krongard resigned on December 7, 2007.

* Julie Macdonald - former deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department - resigned in May 2007 after an “inspector general’s report found she had improperly leaked information to private organizations, bullied staff scientists and broken federal rules.” The Department of the Interior is investigating many of her decisions regarding endangered species; so far seven have been overturned.

* Paul McNulty - Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice – resigned, after questions about his involvement in the U.S. attorney firings and his testimony to Congress about the firings.

* Richard Perle - Chairman, Defense Policy Board - resigned from Pentagon advisory panel amid conflict-of-interest charges.

* Susan Ralston - assistant, White House - resigned amidst revelations that she had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him, counter to White House ethics rules.

* Janet Rehnquist - inspector general, Department of Health and Human Services - resigned on June 1, 2003 in the face of an investigation into her alleged efforts to block a politically dangerous probe on behalf of the Bush family.

* James Roche - secretary, U.S. Air Force - resigned in the wake of the Boeing tanker lease scandal, after it was revealed he had rather crudely pushed for Boeing to win a $23 billion contract.

* Kyle Sampson -former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.

* Joseph Schmitz - Inspector General, Defense - Resigned amid charges he personally intervened to protect top political appointees.

* Bradley Schlozman - resigned from his third and final post with the Justice Department after accusations of actively politicizing the department. He’s currently under investigation by the Department’s inspector general.

* Thomas Scully - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - shortly after Scully resigned in 2003, an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that Scully had pressured the agency’s actuary to underestimate the full cost of the Medicare reform bill by approximately $100 billion until after Congress passed the bill into law. Scully was also hit with conflict of interest charges by the U.S. attorney’s office for billing CMS for expenses incurred during a job search while he still headed the agency. He settled those charges by paying $9,782.

* David Smith - deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, Interior Department - resigned on July 21, 2006 after shooting a buffalo and accepting its skeletal remains and meat as an illegal gratuity. He eventually paid over $3,000 for the dead buffalo, but only after the internal inquiry had commenced. The Department of Interior inspector general also noted in a May 16, 2006 report that Smith’s involvement in the designation of Houston as a port of entry for imported wildlife in order to benefit a friend was inappropriate.

* John Tanner - Voting Rights Section Chief, Justice Department - resigned in December of 2007 and moved to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices. Already under suspicion for aiding efforts to politicize the voting section, the bumbling proponent of voter identification laws angered lawmakers with his comments that such laws actually discriminate against white voters because “minorities die first”. Even more impressive was his apology for the comment. The DoJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility is currently investigating his travel habits and those of his deputy.

* Sara Taylor - Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs at the White House, where she was Karl Rove´s top aide - resigned amidst the U.S. attorneys investigation and other probes of Rove´s alleged politicization of the government.

* Ken Tomlinson - Board Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; member, Broadcasting Board of Governors - resigned at the release of an inspector general report concluding he had broken laws in spending CPB money to hire politically connected consultants to search for “bias” without consulting the board. At BBG, a separate investigation found he was running a “horse racing operation” out of his office, and continuing to hire politically-wired individuals to do “consulting” work for him. After being nominated and serving another term, he finally stepped down from that spot earlier this year.

* Carl Truscott - Director, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau - resigned. A report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that Truscott wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethics rules by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.

* Paul Wolfowitz - World Bank President - resigned in May 2007 after a committee report found that he broke ethics rules by giving his girlfriend a substantial raise.

Nomination Failed Due to Scandal

* Linda Chavez - nominated, Secretary of Labor - withdrew her nomination in January 2001 amidst revelations that an illegal immigrant lived in her home and worked for her in the early 1990s. Chavez blamed what she said were the “search-and-destroy” politics of Washington.

* Timothy Flanigan - nominated, Deputy Attorney General (also Alberto Gonzales’ top deputy at the White House) - withdrew his nomination in October 2005 amidst revelations that he’d worked closely with lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he was General Counsel for Corporate and International Law at Tyco, which was a client of Abramoff’s.

* Bernard Kerik - nominated, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - withdrew his nomination amidst a host of corruption allegations. Eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor relating to improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a New York City official in the late 1990’s. Subsequently, on November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted on sixteen counts for bribery, tax fraud, and false statements with a maximum sentence of 142 years and more than $5 million in fines. Kerik has pleaded not guilty. For a rundown of Kerik’s myriad indiscretions, check out TPM’s Ultimate Kerik Scandal List!

* William Mercer - the former associate deputy attorney general and US Attorney for Montana - withdrew his nomination to be the permanent number three official at the Department of Justice on June 22, 2007 due to his role in the U.S. attorney firings.

* Hans von Spakovsky - Commissioner, FEC - nomination to another term after his recess appointment failed due to allegations that he’d worked at the Justice Department to suppress minority voter turnout.
Under Investigation But Still in Office

* Stuart Bowen - Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) - was once admired for his successes while investigating allegations of waste and fraud in Iraq, but now employee allegations have prompted four government investigations into the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).

* Lurita Doan - Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration - still in office, despite investigations by both the Office of Special Counsel and the House oversight committee that found that Doan had “crossed the line” by suggesting that the GSA use its resources to help Republicans get elected.

* Alfonso Jackson - Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - following reports that Jackson told a business group in April 2006 that he once canceled a contract after the contractor criticized President Bush, an investigation by the HUD inspector general found that while Jackson told his deputies to favor Bush supporters, there was “no direct proof that a contract was actually awarded or rescinded because of political affiliation.” A second, criminal investigation was triggered in part by Jackson’s claim before Congress in May 2007 that “I don’t touch contracts.” That probe, now before a federal grand jury, has turned up evidence that Jackson may indeed have touched contracts - and steered them towards friends.

A little blogging music Maestro… “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” by Sonny Curtis and the Crickets, Bobby Fuller, and The Dead Kennedys.

Dr. Forgot

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday, Monday

Monday Mish-Mash

No Phi Beta Kappa: I admit to the fact that my academic credentials pale in comparison to those of our new president. And indeed, I probably spent as much time on academic probation as did our current president. I didn’t appoint Brownie to do a heck of a job, read “My Pet Goat” during the 9/11 disaster, or fly over Katrina and wave. On the state level my credentials do not include being a military pilot (what is it with those guys?) or getting fired from Delta Airlines, or wrestling with a cocktail waitress just before the elections, or even texting my girlfriend on a state phone while my wife was curled up in the Mansion with a good book. But despite my lack of credentials I’m going to go way out on a limb and suggest some fixes for the state budget. Rather than take dollars from scholars, and given the fact that the casino and hotel industry is having its own problems, why not introduce a state lottery designated for the Education budget only? Let’s see, that would not only remove the deficit from the schools, it would allow the funds currently being directed to the schools to be redirected to other areas in state government. A Nevada lottery has been proposed in the past but the idea has been killed each time by the casino/hotel industry that did not want the competition. Typically lottery players do not use casino funds to play the lottery, and now might be a good time to strike – before the iron freezes.

Bridges inside and out of Madison County: A government study done after the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota found that more than 70,000 bridges in the U.S. to be structurally deficient. Another recent study stated that 33% of the nation’s major roads are in “poor or mediocre condition.” So where to find the revenue to improve the roads both in our state and nationally? How about an increase in the gas tax? Gasoline prices are a fraction of where they were a year ago so why not add say, a quarter to the state tax and a dime to the national tax. That would increase the tax on a gallon of gas by 35 cents. It would also increase the revenue by about 40% statewide and nearly double the revenues. Nobody likes to pay taxes any less than I do but our nation is in economic crisis. The education system that offers free education to our children is the single most crucial part of our government benefits that helps our most precious commodity. President-elect and Mrs. Obama are two stunning examples of working class families who had the opportunity of a good public education. Highways, on the other hand, are the lifeblood of our tourism industry. Hence, these two areas must be addressed during this economic crisis.

Git the heck outta Gitmo: One of the many fiascos of the current administration was the indiscriminate vacuuming up of alleged “terrorists” during the panic of post 9/11 imprisoning them in the American military prison at Guantanamo. Despite many who have been held for years, isolation and alleged torture, not one iota of information that would be of benefit to the so-called “war on terrorism” has been received. Not one American soldier’s life has been saved as the result of such information. Of the 800 or so who were imprisoned, more than half were released without being charged and only one was convicted of a crime, and many have suggested even that one was a sham. There have been hundreds of suicide attempts, four of which were successful. President elect Obama has suggested the closing of the prison. Perhaps rather than close it we could change it to a detention center for all those CEOs, CFO, and other bigwigs who have robbed, raped, and stolen from the American public. Perhaps the Wall Street Gang could go the way of the Keating 5, but their Club Fed could be Gitmo. At least there would be real lawbreakers in detention.

Aye Matey, piracy is becoming big business: Piracy of tankers and other ships has become big business off the coast of Somalia. During the depression bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. He responded, “Because that’s where the money is.” Pirates of the Suez have become his disciples, hijacking tankers nad other ships and holding them for ransom. In the first 9 months of 2008 there have been 199 maritime attacks and 31 hijackings of ships carrying from oil to Christmas toys, clothing, and cars, and even a Ukrainian ship carrying at least 30 tanks and weapons. Millions of dollars have been paid in ransom for the safe return of the ships and cargo. Videos of the hijackers in their flimsy boats with a few weapons have been shown around the world. All the great security brains have been unable to control the pirates and their ventures. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but it would seem that one gunship sitting on a helipad would be a deterrent. When the pirates start to chase the ship, simply deploy the helicopter and blow their sorry behinds out of the water. Problem solved.

Push a button, pull a chain, $ 100,000 down the drain: The other day an astronaut was doing the equivalent of a lube, oil, and filter change to the space station when her $ 100,000 toolbox and all her tools slipped away and sailed off into space. Once again, I don’t presume to be an astro-physicist, but I can think of one simple little attachment. Can you say, t-e-t-h-e-r? If surf bums are smart enough to connect their surfboards to their ankles so the boards are not lost at sea, can our finest scientists figure out a way to attach a tether to a hundred thousand dollar toolbox? Just asking. Perhaps it was a “woman doing mechanic’s work” thing or maybe the astronaut was dyslexic and missed the bag when she reached for it. Wouldn’t be the first time health issues interfered with history. It has been suggested that Napoleon suffered from attacks of hemorrhoids so severe that they actually influenced the result at the Battle of Waterloo. Makes one wonder how they’ll be remembered in the annals of history.

A little blogging music Maestro… “A Big Hurt,” by David Bowie.
Dr. Forgot

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christians, Atheists, and Anagrams

Freedom OF Religion but not
Freedom FROM Religion

Pledge of allegiance: The other day I was reminiscing about how schools had changed in the past several decades. We began to play “Whatever happened to...?” and the conversation turned to a local teacher. Years ago the self-proclaimed hippie taught social studies and civics at a public junior high school. He wore his hair long at a time when most men wore crew cuts. (for you youngsters, a crew cut is sort of like a short Mohawk but with hair all over your head) He wore a shirt that looked like an American flag and was not shy about stating his opinion that the U.S. had no business fighting a civil war in Viet Nam. In those days teachers were required to sign a loyalty oath or their contracts could be rescinded. They were also required to lead their classes in a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The young teacher would end his pledge with the words, “… with liberty and justice for some.” I’m not sure what ever happened to the young rebel. Maybe he cut his hair, donned a suit, and became a school administrator, or maybe he continued his protests. Then I picked up the newspaper and read an article that caused me to wonder how tolerant we really had become as a nation toward those who do not conform.

American boasts freedom of religion: The recent election of the first ever Hawaiian, Barack Obama was a landmark in our country. During the election, however, he was accused of being a Muslim. He’s not, of course. He is a good Christian who attended a good Christian church presided over by Christian minister Reverend Jeremiah Wright. When the president elect was not being pilloried for attending a church whose Christian pastor preached fiery sermons, he was “accused” of being a Muslim, God forbid. Whatever happened to freedom of religion that our soldiers fought for over the years? Religion writer Tom Krattenmaker wrote an article in USA Today in which he discusses America’s views on atheism. If we are persecuted for our choice of how to worship, imagine what happens to those who chose to not worship.

Oh those crazy Illini: This spring a speaker and atheist activist named Rob Sherman attempted to testify against a bill in the Illinois legislature that would have granted $ 1 million in state money to a church. Representative Monique Davis, Democrat, Chicago native, former Elementary School Administrator, who is working on a Doctorate in Guidance and Counseling, took exception to comments by Rob Sherman who would present an opposing opinion. The issue was related to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's misdirected $1 million grant intended for Pilgrim Baptist Church. As Sherman began to speak Rep. Davis shouted, “I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous—“

Sherman asked what she saw as dangerous and Davis continues, “It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!” Sherman thanked her for her opinion and Davis continued, “You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”

Sherman, after being told repeatedly by Davis to get out of his seat because he was an atheist commented that he felt like Rosa Parks, “who also was told, get out of that seat and arrested when she didn't give up her seat on the bus to a white person.” Davis is African American.

Land of the free, home of the brave, except for Lincoln and atheists: The speaker, Rob Sherman wasn’t trying to force the little kiddies to denounce their religious beliefs he was speaking against giving taxpayer monies to a particular church. So was Davis tirade an anomaly? Well, no. Many groups ban atheists from memberships including the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, and some local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to name a few. The founding fathers built this country on the premise of separation of church and state. In fact, Illinois, the “Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” as Rep. Davis proclaimed, in fact has wrestled with this issue since the time of Lincoln, who was attacked by politically active pastors in his time. While running for election Lincoln opined his frustration over the opposition he faced from 20 of 23 Protestant ministers in Springfield. Early in his political career religious figures warned against voting for Lincoln on the grounds that he, “…belonged to no church (and) was suspected of being a deist.”

The new atheist agenda: In an effort to make this a kinder, gentler world today’s atheists eschew the in-your-face activism of Madayn Murray O’Hair whose campaign mocked religion and was successful in removing mandatory prayer from the classroom. However, anybody who believes prayer has been removed from school had not been in a school during exam time. Studies suggest that up to 15% of the population is either non-believers or strong doubting Thomases. Margaret Downey, former president of Atheist Alliance International is doing her best to put a new face on what many call “positive atheism.” She recently joined forces with a Christian group to spend the better part of a day sorting and packaging food for the needy. Perhaps Christians and atheists can someday stand shoulder to shoulder instead of hand to throat, but my biggest concern is, “What do you say to an atheist who sneezes?

Finally, a bit of anagram silliness: You remember anagrams don’t you; those words whose letters can be rearranged to make other words. Although “atheist” does not lend itself well to be an anagram, many others do. Remember the one about the dyslexic atheist who didn’t believe in Dog? Here are a few others that might tickle your fancy. When letters are rearranged,
















A little blogging music Maestro… “Sympathy for the Devil” by Ozzy Osbourne.

Dr. Forgot

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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Bottom Line

Cliché Today
As American as apple pie: Although cliché is a French word Americans prefer a cliché to a soufflé. Today I’ll go against the grain and although I have no axe to grind, will give you the bottom line while we drill down to get the information that is on the money. Some clichés are as clear as mud and their meanings are rarely as pure as the driven snow. But today I will start at the crack of dawn and write, and though my thoughts may come as slow as molasses in January, I won’t beat around the bush, even if this column leaves me between a rock and a hard place.

Blood is thicker than water: The idea for today’s topic came from a sibling whose emails could fill a bottomless pit. Though she sometimes can’t see the forest from the trees she can also be the cat’s meow. Thus I will forget politics for today, which is for the birds, and sit back as cool as a cucumber and write today’s column come Hell or high water. Hopefully you’ll find this one funnier than a barrel of monkeys but I won’t count my chickens before they hatch. Compared to my other 300 posts this one is just a drop in the bucket. Oh, you might think that composing this is as easy as falling off a log but it is as hard as a rock to do this. Although even a blind squirrel can find an acorn beneath an oak tree. So I’ll just get my feet wet and go with the flow.

A good rule of thumb: Before you leave this site remember the grass is always greener on the other side, so don’t be a stick-in-the-mud. Laugh and the world laughs with you. It can cause a ripple effect. Send this to your friends and give them something to crow about. Soon enough we’ll all be pushing up daisies. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Your sorrows will be just a drop in the bucket, knock on wood. Life is a bowl of cherries. Laugh and the world laughs with you and soon your troubles will be as hard to find as a needle in a haystack. Sorrow is not my cup of tea. There’s no use crying over spilt milk, let yourself go. Be as nutty as a fruitcake. Avoid bummers like the plague.

Wake up and smell the coffee: With the economy in disarray it is well to remember that a penny saved is a penny earned. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Don’t tempt fate, look out for number one. Times might be rough as a corn cob but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Wall Street makes me as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof and the political parties that caused this are like two peas in a pod. Birds of a feather flock together. They pulled the wool over our eyes then told us to put that in our pipe and smoke it. The CEOs who caused this mess by trying to pull a fast one need to take their attitude and stick it where the sun don’t shine. As voters we need to tell those asking for a handout, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” As we watched our 401K bite the dust until it bought the farm we needed to bite the bullet. Although there are dark clouds ahead every cloud has a silver lining. Do something to take your mind off your 401K. A watched pot never boils.

Take me out to the ball game: To take your mind off the economy, perhaps an athletic event is in order. Sit back, relax, and see who draws first blood. The game might be nip and tuck or a real barn burner. The teams might go at it like two heavyweights, fighting tooth and nail while the crowd goes wild as players give 110%. They certainly came to play. Yours is a blue collar team that shows flashes of brilliance but they are taking it one game at a time. Pretty soon your team will begin to take it to the next level. They thrive under pressure, rising to the occasion, and perhaps breaking a record, as records are made to be broken. They control their own destiny. This is a must win situation. Your team was really dialed in. They left it all on the field.

Nothing ventured nothing gained: Now comes the time to wrap it up and put the pedal to the metal. We hope you enjoyed today’s column. Maybe we were pulling your leg. Maybe we were jerking your chain but don’t jump to conclusions. Was this satire or philosophy? You can’t judge a book by its cover. It is what it is. As for us, we’ll continue writing this tripe come Hell or high water. Most of what I write is on the tip of my tongue, and you can take that to the bank.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Words of Love,” by The Beatles.
Dr. Forgot

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