June 16, 2014

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The Jacksonville Jaguars: An American Tragedy

November 9, 2012

I watch a ridiculous amount of football.  Most people who know me will confirm this fact.  When I’m not watching football, I’m reading about football, thinking about football and looking forward to the next season even while the current season is in progress (a trait acquired by a lifetime of Philadelphia Eagles fandom).  So, it should come as no surprise that these hours spent analyzing this game in my own head lead me to make certain declarations, many of which are ludicrous, but some eerily accurate.  Today, I’m making one such declaration:  The 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars are on pace to be the worst NFL team of my lifetime (dating back to 1979).

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Before we get into the hard numbers, let’s take a look at some characteristics of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Say nothing of the fact that they’re remarkably (if not historically) awful on the field, they’re the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The most maligned, oft-forgotten team in NFL history.  The occasional bright spots in Jags history are completely overshadowed by a dated color scheme and godawful uniform situation.  While the clothes may not always make the man, asking those men to take the field in the most Mid-1990’s of all Mid-1990’s uniforms should be punishable in a court of law.  The 90’s were a terrible time for professional sports uniforms, but everyone for the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors to the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens have managed to overcome their 90’s hangover and offer up redesigned uniforms… not the Jags.  The Jacksonville Jaguars are the Toad the Wet Sprocket of the NFL.  You remember them when someone mentions them, have a hard time remembering the songs, and they look/sound exactly like the era in which you first heard of them.

While some men have been bold enough to take up the charge of wearing the teal and gold, and some have actually been pretty good, the current crop of Jags fit perfectly into the general Jaguarism that surrounds them.  Let’s take a look at Jacksonville’s depth chart:  

Offensively, their number 1 and number 2 receivers are Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon.  Until Maurice Jones-Drew returns, the ground game is being led by the completely underwhelming attack of Rashad Jennings, backed up by Jalen Parmele.  I can’t claim to be a Jalen Parmele expert, but based on his career stats of 15 carries for 62 yards and no TDs, I’m not convinced that the Toledo standout will be breaking apart NFL defenses any time soon (note:  Parmele’s yards per carry is a bit inflated when you factor out one particular carry which went for 26 yards).

Defensively, we see the lone, tiny bright spot in the Jaguars roster.  Amidst a sea of “Who?” and “Oh, that guy?!” defensive superstars, we find Paul Posluszny and Russell Allen.  Posluszny and Allen have each tallied 70 tackles this season, placing them at a tie for 12th in the league in total tackles.  While such a nice start to the season from your linebackers corps should be a sign of pride for any team, when you consider that the two are responsible for almost 25% of ALL tackles recorded by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the otherwise impressive numbers begin to take a backseat to the general ineptitude of their surrounding teammates.  

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The surrealist nature of the Jacksonville franchise is far more understandable when you factor in their owner, Salvador Dali.

You can make any number of statements regarding the general ineptitude of the Jaguars.  Statements such as “Blaine Gabbert would be on the practice squad for a quarter of teams in the NFL” or “At least a dozen NFL franchises have third-string WRs and/or RBs who would start in Jacksonville”.  But opinions are just that, opinions.  

So, how bad is this team, really?  Let’s look at some Jacksonville Jaguars Fun Facts:

  • The Jacksonville Jaguars have amassed a whopping 709 rushing yards through this season.  To put that in perspective, if the Jacksonville Jaguars were a person, they would rank behind Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Stevan Ridley in total rushing yards in the league.  It should also be noted that the Jaguars, at this point, have played one more game than any of the men listed above them.
  • Jacksonville has throttled defenses with a mighty TWO rushing scores through the first half of the season.  Again, assuming that the entire Jacksonville offense is one person, Mr Jag would be behind men like Andrew Luck, Jackie Battle, Larod Stephens-Howling and Jamie Harper in total touchdowns this season.  He would be tied with such first-ballot Hall of Famers as Jovorskie Lane, Shaun Draughn and Colin Kapernick.  Yes, San Francisoco’s backup QB has been more effective running the ball than the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • An improving Blaine Gabbert has already doubled his ESPN Total QBR from last season.  Blaine Gabbert’s current QBR is 41.3.
  • Defensively, the Jacksonville Jaguars have forced six fumbles.  Charles Tillman has forced seven.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars have fewer interceptions than Tim Jennings.
  • JJ Watt has more sacks to his name this year than the entire Jacksonville defense. 
  • According to ESPN Stats, Pierre Garcon  has one more defensive touchdown than the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Prior to last night’s humiliation at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars had outscored New York Giants’ kicker, Lawrence Tynes, by exactly fifteen points this season.

So, there you have it.  Ice cold, inarguable facts which point to one of the worst statistical seasons a team has ever had, or is particularly capable of having.  On top of that, with injuries plaguing the team every week, the best of the season may be behind the Jags.  This team may, somehow, be on the downhill slide and looking to get worse, and without a single potential win left on the schedule (barring a potential win over Tennessee at home), there isn’t much light at the end of the big, teal tunnel.  

Fortunately, the draft is ahead.  Perhaps more fortunately, a move to Los Angeles complete with a total change of front office, player personnel and culture may likely be ahead.  Congratulations, Jacksonville.  You’re the best friend 31 other NFL teams have ever had.  

My early condolences to Matt Barkley.

Bono is Here to Feed the World, and Wear Ridiculous Clothing.

December 15, 2011

I was just watching the video for “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” as is mandatory this time of year, and a few thoughts occurred to me…

Quick!  Get everyone who may still be famous in 25 years to the front!

First of all, the song is awful… or should I say, “bloody awful”.  It’s so dated and synth-heavy that it’s been rendered almost unlistenable by time, the lyrics are borderline terrifying, and with the exception of Simon LeBon, Bob Geldof, Boy George and Bono, I have no idea who any of those people are.  Oh, wait, Phil Collins is in there.  That’s one more.  And three black people who shouldn’t be too hard to identify, as there are only 2 dozen or so black people in Britain, and surely no more than five had a record deal at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

20 or 40 Things That Rocked 2011

December 14, 2011
Another year is in the books, filled with the highs and lows, ups and downs and occasional moments of true greatness that we’ve all come to expect when we open up that brand new calendar in early January.  I have more to be thankful for in the closing moments of 2011 than I can ever remember, a testament to the growth that comes with sending 32 of those aforementioned calendars into the trash bin.  With all of the small miracles and occasional disasters that surround us each day, things like music can seem trivial.  But it’s the crunch of a guitar or the explosion of a subwoofer that scores these moments, that keeps us grounded and gives us something to sing with our friends at 2:00 AM.  It brings us together, sparks debate and entertains us in quiet times when no one is looking.

That’s why this year I’m returning to my list of the “Best Albums of the Year,” but with a twist.  These aren’t necessarily the best albums of the year, as there is no deep music theory going on or intricate analysis of the poignant lyrics.  No, these are just “Cory’s Favorite Albums of 2011,” as they stand right now, having brought me immense joy and hours of pleasure this year.  Hopefully you’ll find something on here that interests you, or a description that grabs your attention.  We’re at our best when we’re expanding our horizons, even if that does mean expanding them into the realm of party rocking.  And, just because I love each and every one of you, I’m throwing in a Spotify playlist with the best of the best albums and one with my favorite tracks of the year (whether they make the list or not!) at no additional cost, just to make rockin’ the beats a little easier. Here we go… Read the rest of this entry »

Why Everything Was Better 10 Years Ago (Chapter 1)

September 30, 2011

Let’s get one thing out of the way early:  I’m not an old man.  Yes, I’m now in my early thirties, but given the advancements in modern medicine, I’ll likely look back on these as my “tween” years by the time I’m buying new organs at Target on double coupon day.  However, there is no force on earth more able to make a relatively young man feel like he should take up residence in the local barbershop, quite like the internet.  This wonderful series of tubes has managed to bring us closer together in ways we couldn’t imagine, and frankly, in ways we were never intended.  It has also revealed one clear, irrefutable truth:  Most of us shouldn’t be broadcasting our opinions.  Yes, I am aware of the irony of making this statement on a blog, on the internet, with an opinion no one asked to hear.

Perhaps in no area (other than possibly the political process) has the blogosphere affected more change than in the world of popular music.  For years the “cool kids” sought out the “cool music” of their day, thumbing their collective noses at the “industry” that was undoubtedly holding back the next great artist, focusing only on cruel profit margins and dismissing artistic integrity.  While that has certainly been the case from time to time, this conspiracy did leave one gaping logical hole – the invisible hand of capitalism.  Trust me, David Geffen wasn’t worried about artistic integrity when he brought his checkbook to Seattle and signed every long-hair in the city with a guitar and a flannel shirt.  We were quick to dismiss the quality control afforded us by record labels, heralding the next earth-shaking artist as a mere fluke and wondering “how they slipped by the suits at the label,” never realizing that behind the revolutionary sound we heard were two dozen like-minded bands, who happened to be pretty awful.

So, with the emergence of the internet, music once again belonged to the people.  I will freely admit that from around 1994-2005 I was a bonafide hipster.  I may have not always looked the part, but my cultural tastes oozed elitism in a way that encouraged those around me to toss off the shackles of the mainstream and embrace the latest act that was sure to change the world (that I would forget about two months later).  Unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t an original snowflake.  I was one of millions of people just like me, fueled by short attention spans and a desire to catch on to the next big thing long before any of the squares could ruin it.  Unfortunately, we all rallied around the internet like a great music nerd convention, and like all great nerd conventions, this one devolved into a shouting match over the auditory version of Capt Kirk vs Picard.

In my youth, before the internet was available in every home, coffee shop and rest stop in the country, the underground tastemakers were your friends and peers.  When someone whose interests you respected offered you a mix tape/cd, or suggested a band, you took their suggestion seriously.  You’d built a history of trust with some, knew who had similar interests, and above all knew that if someone had put forth the effort to bring you a copy of a record, it was only polite to give it a spin.  Many times, that politeness translated into an obsession with a new artist, one who may define your listening habits for months or years to come.  Music was a communal experience.  We learned of new bands while riding in cars, dancing at parties or sitting around someone’s living room and sharing in the experience of something new.  The evolution of this practice, one now done digitally, forces us into isolation – hearing new artists for the first time in our pajamas, through computer speakers or earbuds.

In the past, sharing new artists took patience and dedication.  I can remember needing a feeling of certainty about a band before sharing it with my peers, sharing only what seemed to be a “can’t miss” album, not wanting to be labelled “the guy with bad taste” of the group.  The difficulty of gathering people together to listen to something has been replaced by the ease of sending a digital file to a friend.  What was once a breathless rush to share an amazing piece of art with someone, often waiting days or weeks to meet the person face-to-face, is now as easy as hitting “share” on Spotify or Facebook, throwing any flavor of the month to the masses as casually as you can click a button.  Unfortunately, that lackadaisical approach to sharing information has transformed the art of music criticism and promotion into a catch-all for any fifteen year old with a laptop and a broadband connection.

Make no mistake, we need hipsters.  Hipsters brought rock and roll out of the segregated clubs and into the malt shops.  Hipsters turned Be-Bop-A-Lua into Let it Be, and turned Pet Sounds into Punk Rock.  When glam and synthesizers threatened to crush the rebellious spirit of rock and roll, those same hipsters revived Punk Rock, roaring into the 1990’s with an edge that left a sea of battered, bloodied Loverboy fans in their wake.  Hipsters have inspired the emergence of everything from the electric guitar to the Ok Computer, and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude.  However, the hipsters of the past had an edge over the hipsters of today:  They were professional hipsters.  Believe it or not, there was a time when people were paid actual money to listen to music, to evaluate talent and to determine that maybe we should pay more attention to The Sex Pistols than The Marshall Tucker Band.  These days, with everyone having a voice, we’re actually forced to debate that issue… and the debate is killing us.

Landmark albums have always been a major part of popular music.  Every decade or so, an album appears seemingly out of nowhere, one that shatters convention and drastically changes the course of what we consider to be “good music”.  In the 60’s, The Beatles, Beach Boys and Velvet Underground shaped what music could become.  The 7o’s exploded into psychedelic adventure with artists like Pink Floyd and David Bowie, while bands like Sly & The Family Stone and Marvin Gaye advocated social change – before Led Zeppelin eventually kicked our doors down with a sonic wall of noise unlike anything white people had ever heard.  Punk Rock charged us into the new era of music with The Sex Pistols and Ramones stomping out the disco movement from both sides of the Atlantic, bringing a ferocity that was only tamed by acts like The Cure and The Smiths, later in the decade.  When the indulgence of the “Me Decade” had run fully rampant, Nirvana and N.W.A. arrived… all revolutionary acts, all stood to inspire countless acts to follow, and all signed to major label distribution deals.

Aside from being pushed by “the man,” each of the above musical revolutions had one thing in common:  Each was also heralded as a savior upon arrival by the “mainstream” press.  Yes, the hipsters may have argued semantics, like whether or not Mudhoney or Screaming Trees were better than Nirvana in their day, but none of it actually mattered.  Those conversations were reserved for bars and coffee shops, never influencing the masses.  While the waifish, t-shirted throngs argued the superiority of Mark Lanegan’s growl or the raw, edginess of Sub Pop era “Grunge” bands who lacked the widespread accolades being foisted upon Kurt Cobain, countless teenagers picked up guitars and began learning to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Young people, in whom the spirit of rock and roll truly exists, were oblivious to the petty bickering and cynical snubs of their older, “wiser” music aficionados.  From there, a generation of bands rose from the garages and basements of America to take back the guitar.

Today, our petty bickering isn’t just being aired for the world to see, it is somehow managing to define the musical tastes of an entire generation.  While our society is due for another musical explosion, the kind of record that unites the world and fuels the future, it is being met with message board snark and hissing reviews on YouTube.    The cyclical nature of popular music tends to suggest that we are not only due for that evolutionary explosion, but we are actually quite overdue.  The last, great cultural landmark album to make its stamp both critically and in the popular culture may have been Radiohead’s masterpiece, “OK Computer”… thirteen years ago.  Meaning that an entire generation of kids are now reaching the prime age to pick up an instrument and change the world, having never lived to experience such a musical event.

Such albums have bubbled up, seemingly ready to tackle the conventional and spare us all from the hum-drum world of stale, lifeless radio.  Yet time and time again, just as those records began to truly show their ability to influence, they were met with scorn from “fans” who lived only to prove their worth by disparaging the artists work in the interest of staying ahead of the mainstream.   If ever an album seemed to be poised to explode, taking the world in a direction we’d never seen and ensuring its place among the legendary releases of days past, it seemed to be Arcade Fire’s brilliant major debut, “Funeral”.  It hit on every note:  technical wizardry, powerful lyrics, pop sensibilities, and nearly any other piece of the puzzle required to become a generation-defining, seminal record.  Tragically for Arcade Fire, while the album certainly made its mark, the impact was drowned out by pointless debates over its worth, beating it about the head and chest and turning a beautiful work of art into nothing more than a piece of an argument.  It became impossible to simply embrace the charms of “Funeral” without arming yourself to the teeth and battling back fans of Animal Collective, Dungen or Fiery Furnaces – all vying to lay stake to the claim of “Best Album of the Year”.

While before us we saw what could have been a major shift in the state of modern music, our valiant hipsters brought their closed-door shouting matches into the mainstream, killing the momentum and turning a movement into an afterthought.  The argument became more important than the music.  The nerds crawled back into the basement, arguing over which of the cheerleaders was hotter over a game of Dungeons and Dragons, forgetting the fact that they were still being beaten up by the football team on a daily basis.  And while we argued over the petty, debating the relevance of one album in the grand scheme of things, the public at large continued to make Nickelback into the biggest rock band on the planet.

But then again, maybe that is the legacy of Arcade Fire.  While the world waited for the next genre-busting experiment from a previously unknown group of rock gods, maybe the explosion came with a whimper… and maybe that whimper was the explosion.  As more and more music becomes available, and as more opinions cloud what could be (turning it into what never was), we may find ourselves staring at a new dawn in the world of rock and roll.  The mega-album may be a thing of the past, and the great fracturing of rock and roll may be an unavoidable reality.  It seems almost unthinkable to ponder a world in which the generation-defining album has become a thing of the past, but the evidence is mounting and the jury seems poised and ready to deliver a verdict.  While I’ll always long for the days of the communal, “let’s all hop on board the bandwagon” album, the cynical hipster still living in me fears that those days are gone.  If that’s the case, then I guess I’ll just have to adapt along with the rest of the world.  But there is one thing I’ll say for certain:  If I hear the word “dubstep” one more time, I may kill myself.

White Noise

December 17, 2010

Recently I found myself in conversation with a friend, debating the various ills of society, when a frequent scapegoat in our great cultural decline reared its head.  The subject:  the degradation of women in modern music… specifically hip hop music.  It seems that since the day songs had lyrics, there has been a rather vocal army of opposition present in society eager to point out how a particular generation of children will simply not survive the sexual onslaught being foisted upon them by dirty songs.  A great screech bellowed from the lungs of middle America on the day Elvis Presley first gyrated his hips, and that roar of white noise has been echoing throughout the land ever since. Read the rest of this entry »

Brief Thoughts on a Fallen Giant

June 28, 2010

The ravages of time are inevitable.  To suggest otherwise would be foolish.  Each man born onto this planet will one day pass, and the legacy he leaves behind will be how he is forever known.  For some, that legacy can be that of the greatest hero, for some the most wretched villain, but for most everyone that legacy is a mixed bag of opinions, varying widely depending on who tells the story.  Today I, along with many others, mourn the loss of a man whose life was most certainly the latter.

I have never lived a day of my life without Senator Robert Byrd representing the people of the state of West Virginia, a state I love dearly.  His tireless efforts, stretching further into his life than anyone could have imagined, have contributed to the lives of generations of those of us who call the state home, for the good and the bad.  But Senator Byrd’s politics aside, on this day it is important to remember the power of change, not just in our government but in ourselves.

As many of you may know, as a young man Senator Byrd joined the most despicable and wretched terrorist organization that our nation has known – The Ku Klux Klan.  His actions at the time horrendous, this learned behavior of white supremacy led him to take up arms against the Civil Rights Act, delivering one of the most shocking and appalling speeches in modern political history by way of a filibuster.  He stomped and spewed vile hatred with every breath, eventually stepping aside as the forces of progress became too strong to fight.

Then, something happened.

As time marched on, and the world became a better place, Senator Byrd came to a profound realization.  He took stock of his past, realized the error of his ways and began to change the man inside.  His public opinions and votes moved from those of the most deeply-rooted racist, to those of a man eager to understand what he misjudged and desperate to atone for his sins.  The fiery hate in his heart cooled, and his mind opened to the world around him.  While Senator Byrd remained imperfect, his steps toward changing his worldview helped shape the future of our nation and perhaps helped cool the spirit of hatred in many of his countrymen.

Once among the most vicious racists to ever set foot in the Senate Chamber, Robert Byrd died with a 100% rating from the NAACP, never backing away from his past and always taking any opportunity to apologize, and to help heal the wounds that he admittedly helped create.  As he evolved, so did the nation.  The state of West Virginia, once a hotbed of racist extremism, offered up 42% of the vote to Barack Obama in 2008… a statistic that would have been deemed utterly impossible on the day Byrd first took office in the U.S. Senate.

Attitudes change, and have changed in our region.  I once heard a dear friend remark, “When Martin Luther King was killed, I laughed and drank a beer.  I can’t imagine why I did that, and I’ll never forgive myself.  I was just young and stupid.”  It is that genuine change of heart, earnestly expressed, that prevailed through Byrd’s final years.  He witnessed the changes in his party, his state, his country and the world, and into his 90’s still championed civil rights and justice for all people.  In a society where almost all apologies for misdeeds begin with “I apologize if I may have offended anyone…” Byrd delivered unvarnished apologies, genuinely sickened by his mistakes.

As we mark today in history, a day when a giant has truly passed away, it is important to remark on what will truly be his legacy.  A legacy of change and a legacy of redemption.  There will be time to study his policies, time to argue over votes on a certain bill or the acquisition of a certain project.  There will be time to argue and debate childishly over issues that we don’t fully understand.  But today, just for today, it is important to remember one thing, the one thing that I believe Senator Byrd would want to be his legacy:  within all of us, no matter how sordid our past, lies the ability to change.  There is no soul without redemption, and that change may not stop at our own doorstep, but may in fact change the entire world.

Good night, Senator Byrd.  You will never be forgotten.

Deregulation in its Purest Form

April 6, 2010

As we sit on the edge of our seats, holding our breath and praying for the lives of four trapped miners and for the loved ones of the 25 lost forever, the nation again becomes aware of coal mining.  The pride felt in coal communities, a pride built on the backs of forefathers toiling in unspeakable conditions while building the backbone of our nation, swells large today.  With a heavy heart and a tear, we are all reminded of the special people behind the light switch.  The brave individuals who, for meager pay, keep the entire nation running.  Today, those men and women who work in the shadows are again thrust into the forefront of our minds, if only for a few days or one news cycle.

But while those of us fortunate to still draw air into our lungs go on with our lives, the heartbreak in Montcoal, WV will live on in very real ways, for a very long time.  It is in times like these that we all must ask ourselves the important questions.  Even during our time to mourn, even during our time to heal, we must strengthen our resolve and work together to make this important industry, an industry that supplies the lifeblood for entire regions of our nation, a safer and more accountable practice.

Massey Energy C.E.O. Don Blankenship is a monster.  I have no qualms making this statement, as it is one that I have echoed for years.  While dedicated employees risk their lives to create a better world for us all, Blankenship historically and without question flaunts the very regulations and requirements that keep these men and women safe.  In six of the past ten years, in just the specific mine in question, Massey recorded an injury rate higher than the national average.  In 2009 alone, the Upper Big Branch mine was assessed with $897,325 in fines stemming from 458 specific safety violations, 57 of which came in the last month alone.  Many of these violations specifically related to issues within the mine’s ventilation system, the same ventilation system believed to be responsible for the disaster we witness today.

The curious nature of Blankenship’s relationship with enforcement officials can be traced back to the oldest form of politics in history.  Cash and carry government.  As the nation’s 4th largest energy provider, Massey took in an impressive $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, heaping huge salaries on their C.E.O.  Embracing the “what’s good for business is good for me” attitude, the wealthy (albeit somewhat eccentric) Blankenship has historically taken a large role in local government.  Throughout his dabbles in the political realm, Blankenship has contributed thousands of dollars to pro-deregulation candidates in the state, most visibly sinking millions into a smear campaign against a West Virginia State Supreme Court Justice in 2004.  The well funded and well organized attack worked, allowing Blankenship’s candidate a seat on the court, a seat he refused to recuse himself from as a $70 million lawsuit against Massey sat before him.

The long arm of Massey reaches far into the state, even bringing the propaganda machine into the back yards of West Virginians.  In 2009, Massey sponsored the “Friends of America Rally,” complete with entertainment from Conservative icons Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent and Hank Williams Jr.  The event, free to the public, provided a much needed escape for the local community, all with a very specific political idea behind the curtain. “Our responsibility to the people of Southern West Virginia is to protect jobs not only here in West Virginia but America as well, being the son and grandson of West Virginia coal miners, we must keep these jobs from being regulated out of existence by policies that would harm working families,” read the Massey press release.  With a grin and a lawn chair, people listened to “Family Tradition” as the traditions of their own families, the safety regulations that their grandfathers bled for, were slowly chipped away by the highest bidder.

In the case of Massey energy, and those who work each day to skirt the law, individuals are employed to search for loopholes and in many instances flatly refuse to pay fines or bring their workplaces up to code.  The time for fines and strongly worded letters has come to an end.  How many more courageous, hard working miners must lose their lives before criminal charges are brought against those who would routinely and without conscience endanger their lives to extend the bottom line?  How many more rallies must be held to promote deregulation and the loosening of safety standards before we stand up to this injustice?

In the coming days another news cycle will erupt around another issue.  There will be a scandal in Washington, there will be a controversy somewhere in the heartland and another politician will say something profoundly absurd.  When that happens, we will turn away from the victims of this disaster, compartmentalizing the sadness and empathy we feel for the families in order to move on to the next water cooler topic.  For those in Southern West Virginia, the time to mourn is only beginning, and no amount of Washington posturing is going to erase the incredible sadness that permeates the air.  I ask you only for one small consideration before we all move back to worrying about Lindsey Lohan, the upcoming baseball season or the next battle between Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck:  I ask you to remember the sacrifice so many make for our convenience.  Because in many ways, the coal industry has changed in the past 100 years, but in many others it remains exactly the same.

Political Maturation and Partisanship in 2010

January 5, 2010

For nearly as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by two lines of thought as they relate to political affiliation and age:

1.  The older you get, the more conservative you’ll become.

2.  A conservative is just a liberal who has been mugged.

While those time-honored clichés still exist (and will likely continue to do so until the end of time), the aging process has, in my case, proven them to be both correct and incorrect.  The common theory is that age causes us to lose the doe-eyed liberalism of our youth, eventually succumbing to the harsh reality of the world around us and shifting a belief system to reflect that changing perspective.  We’re led to believe that as the world begins to show its true colors (whether it be through taxation, crime or general cynicism) the perception of our surroundings begins to change, thus altering our political allegiances. Read the rest of this entry »

John Calipari: Fact or Fiction.

December 22, 2009

In the wake of and leading up to the University of Kentucky’s 2000th victory, the usual snakes slithered from under the usual rocks to take the usual shots at UK Coach John Calipari.  It seems that every has-been and never-was in the game feels compelled to bless us with their half-baked opinions on what exactly makes Coach Cal such “slime,” such a “scumbag” or any other negative adjective.  The greatest purveyors of this trash seem to come directly from the top, that rogue’s gallery of “analysts” currently employed by ESPN.  In a week when UK faithful should have been enjoying a moment of unprecedented success, Big Blue Nation was forced to ball up its collective fists in anger as the ever-charming likes of Bobby Knight, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Pat Forde, Jemele Hill and Jay Mariotti fired shots across the bow, questioning not only the character of the coach, but of the fans and the university itself. Read the rest of this entry »


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