Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

November 25, 2010
Auburn Is Seeing Crimson Over Questions and Rivalry

The most anticipated day of every year in the state of Alabama has arrived with Auburn football devotees caught in a riptide of emotions. . . .

N.C.A.A. violations have landed the Tigers on probation six times, totaling 12 years, since 1956, though none recently. (Alabama received penalties last year for the fourth time since the mid-1990s.) . . .  [my emphasis]    GO HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE

Does the NCAA need a “Six strikes and you're out rule”?  Why would any self-respecting institution of higher education want to put up with a record like this? Why would any self-respecting institution of higher education want to establish, cater to, and cower before an army of team boosters that ignore a record of malfeasance equal to Auburn’s, Alabama's,  or _______________, or ____________, or ________________ (you fill in the blanks, many Big Buck Programs to choose from)?

Yeah, the Auburn - Alabama game will be a big game.  Anyone with their nose to the wind will be able to smell it.


Monday, November 22, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

“WARRINER, Christian M., 19, Pfc., Army; Mills River, N.C.; 101st Airborne Division.”
A little over three years ago lines formed outside of bookstores everywhere.  Young people came dressed in costume and makeup.  These were serious Harry Potter fans and they were on a mission.  The last volume in the  J.K. Rowling earth moving series of books was going on sale.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was snapped up, devoured and discussed.

At the time, I couldn’t ignore the fact that among these 13 to 19 year old readers, one who might have been there to enjoy the excitement was Ron J. Joshua Jr..  The Department of Defense reported that Pfc. Joshua Jr. was killed in Iraq on July 17, 2007, when a makeshift bomb exploded near his Military Police vehicle.

Of course, the Department of Defense did not provide information as to whether or not Ron J. Joshua Jr. was a reader of the Harry Potter books. If he was, Ron Jr., age 19, did not have the opportunity to read the seventh and final novel in the series. He became one of 229 nineteen year olds who had died in Iraq up to that point.

And now Part One of the movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is premiering.   And again 13 to 19 year olds are waiting in line for the movie and enjoying life.  And still we have 19 year olds dying in wars far from home.

Last week from the Department of Defense we get this terse announcement of an American service member who has died as a part of the Afghan war-- “WARRINER, Christian M., 19, Pfc., Army; Mills River, N.C.; 101st Airborne Division.”

Nothing on whether or not Christian was a Harry Potter fan who stood in line at age 15, waiting to buy a copy of  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”  It’s a pretty good guess that if Mills River, N.C. has a cineplex, Christian would have seen the movie.  I hope the film includes this epigraph from J. K. Rowlings’ book, 

"Oh, the torment bred in the race,/the grinding scream of death"--Aeschylus

More kids like Ron J. Joshua Jr. and Christian M. Warriner will die in Afghanistan next year and in the years beyond.  Will we, a distracted and indifferent people (judging from the silence of the politicians and public on the wars in the last election) ever start to think about how we continue to send 19 year olds into “the grinding scream of death”?

As of November 21, 2010, 329 young people, age 19, have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

November 19, 2010
SEC Suspends Vols’ Coach for First 8 League Games

In what could be a harbinger for stiffer penalties for rules breakers in college sports, the Southeastern Conference announced Friday that the Tennessee men’s basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, would be suspended for the first eight league games. . . .
In September, Tennessee cut Pearl’s pay by $1.5 million over five years and prohibited him from participating in off-campus recruiting for a year after he acknowledged that he misled N.C.A.A. investigators about photographs taken of him with a recruit in 2008. Tennessee also found that Pearl and his assistants had broken N.C.A.A. rules by making too many phone calls to recruits. . . .
“I’m in favor of this type of thing,” Hamilton [Mike Hamilton, Tennessee’s athletic director] said. “I think it’s necessary if we’re going to take back control of things in college athletics.”

I guess this means AD Hamilton is admitting things among the Programs of Plenty of Deficits are out of control.  As the NYT's pointed out  yesterday, "Only 14 of the nation’s 120 major athletic departments reported making a profit in the 2008-09 school year, according to the N.C.A.A."  Financial and ethical deficits in college sports--who'd a thunk it?


Friday, November 19, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

MobyLives   is always worth a visit and some thought.  The following DDD comes from this site.


Friday, November 12, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

And the beat goes on. You lose when you lose and you lose when you win. So now we can add a new phrase to our policy/process hip conversations. “Win-win” situations can be tempered with “lose-lose” realities. At least when it comes to the Big Buck College Athletic programs.

NYT November 11, 2010
How Broken Must College Football Be to Fix It? By GEORGE VECSEY

It is time for my annual foray into the lower depths of higher education — that is to say, the business of Bowl Championship Series football as perpetrated on or near centers of learning. . . .

My theory is, when a university suddenly becomes proficient at football or basketball, it is usually a sign its admissions director is being held hostage in some rural hideaway.

But this is worse. The B.C.S. system turns out to be a private enterprise for the usual suspects in the insider conferences. The top colleges make money, but the big winners are the major bowls — and the administrators thereof.

According to the Sports Illustrated article, Paul Hoolahan, the top executive of the Sugar Bowl, made $607,500 in 2007 and the Sugar Bowl was given $3 million by the hard-strapped Louisiana government.

The big losers are the lucky tigers who get invited to the Cement Shoes Bowl and then lose money that could have gone to athletes or, even better, budding physicists or linguists or cellists and other potential assets to society.[my emphasis]

The same article points out that Virginia Tech and the Atlantic Coast Conference had to purchase 17,500 tickets at $125 each for the 2009 Orange Bowl, but sold only 3,342, for a loss of $1.77 million — surely worth it for a marginal inclusion into Our Thing, as the B.C.S. could be called.

The latest Heisman mess and the B.C.S. shakedown have led me to reconsider my long-held position — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — about bowl games and the national championship. . . .

As it is now, only the anointed championship bowl game is worth a glance. And the old concern about keeping the lads from their classrooms and laboratories seems laughable at this stage.

Full article here


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, MSNBC liberal, all round great man, came to Terre Haute last night. He spoke to the community and the students of Indiana State University about politics and the last election. Sadly, he didn't mention once the failure of the press to cover the issues in depth. Even Mr. Robinson has fallen into the insiders trap of seeing politics as "narrative," sensation, and up or down poll numbers.

How many Americans, after two years of fighting the Bush Depression, can tell you how the economics of the stimulus is/was supposed to work? How many understand what half/no truths went into the catch term "Death Panels"? How many know in a conversant manner about the distribution of income in this country?

It's easy to say (as Robinson seemed to be saying) that the president failed to get his message across on any of this. It's just as easy to say that the press failed to do this job. And unless the press is going to hide its failings behind the lame excuse "We only report what comes out of the White House," don't we all have to say "Thanks for nothing, press corps," that's what you've been giving the American public the past ten years.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [from the Republican Study Committee]    
Tackling Spending: Save $25 Billion by Restoring Welfare Reform

Washington, Nov 8 - With the national debt quickly approaching $14 trillion, Washington needs to get serious about cutting spending. One option the next Congress should consider is to restore welfare reform, one of the most successful bipartisan initiatives of the 1990s.

The 1996 welfare reform law created incentives for states to help people get back on their feet and off of taxpayer assistance.  However, the 2009 stimulus package created a new “emergency fund” under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program which actually incentivizes states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied individuals to work, get job training, or make other efforts to move off of taxpayer assistance.  Specifically, a state must increase its welfare caseloads in order to receive any funding, and states receive an 80% match to cover all expenses associated with increasing their welfare caseloads.  This costs taxpayers $2.5 billion each year.

    “The goal of welfare programs should be to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible rather than simply expanding dependence on government,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA).  “In addition to saving taxpayers $25 billion over the next 10 years, cutting the emergency fund from the President’s failed stimulus package will refocus temporary assistance on its rightful role.”

This is just one of the many common sense spending cuts proposed by the Republican Study Committee.  For more, check out the RSC Sunset Caucus and our FY 2011 Budget Plan.

Go get ‘em debt reduction tigers! 

Oh wait! 

---  The TANF Emergency Fund no longer exists.  It expired on September 30.  You can’t achieve savings by ending a program that has already ended.

—  Nobody has ever proposed spending $25 billion on the fund.  Earlier this year the House passed a bill to extend it for one year, at a cost of $2.5 billion — one-tenth of the savings that the RSC claims.

---  The TANF Emergency Fund is welfare reform.  In fact, the fund represents welfare reform at its best:  it has enabled states to expand work-focused programs within TANF despite high unemployment and a weak economy.  Using the fund, states placed about 250,000 low-income parents and youth in subsidized jobs, mostly in the private sector.

GO HERE:   Killing Expired Program Won’t Save Money


Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

                 CAN THE McRIB SAVE US?
[Go Here]

[On the large space above, I don't know how in the hell it got here and I can't seem to get rid of it. But think of it as the TeaHeePublicans version of John Locke's tabula rasa, a blank slate they never get around to filling in with anything approaching sanity or social kindness.]