Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How about a show of hands ...

Is anybody out there really, truly surprised by this? ...

Congressional pay during a shutdown? Still looks likely

By Luke Russert
NBC News

"With the threat of a government shutdown again rumbling on the horizon, federal workers may be looking nervously at their bank accounts ... but what about members of Congress?"
CLICK HERE to read the rest of Russert's report ... though you've probably already guessed the answer to the above question.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well ... actually ... no, it's not ...

It didn't take long for the rhetoric swirling around the current NFL/NFLPA tiff to remind me of how fast and how tired I became of the rhetoric that accompanied their 1987 tiff. It also emphasized that some players would be better off to let their actions on the field do their talking, rather than engaging their mouth. Back then, it was Tony Dorsett in the parking lot at Cowboys Stadium ... this time it's Adrian Peterson in a Yahoo Sports interview.

Doug Farrar writes, "Speaking just minutes after the owners locked out the players, Peterson compared the players' place in the game to 'modern-day slavery,' a statement that, while ill-advised, was made in the context of how the players feel they're being treated in these talks."

Farrar quotes Peterson as saying "It's modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too."

What? ... "kind of" laugh at that? Why not try "TOTALLY" laugh at that ... and for good reason, too. There are plenty of us here, in Midland, that have experiences abroad - through Christian mission, business development, etc. - to see what modern-day slavery is REALLY like, and to find ways to combat it with our time and effort, our love and our funds. Our community has also provided a new home for people fleeing the acts of modern-day slavers working through sweat-shops, brothels, and impressment into 'armies' and labor battalions. Sadly, we have also seen modern-day slavery right here, at home, where sex trafficking is creating a new and growing slave trade, 150 years after we fought a terrible and bloody war for emancipation and union.

So, please, spare us the rhetoric about modern-day slavery, save it for the closed negotiations, behind closed doors, sparing the rest of us the public outrage ... and you the public ridicule.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good Luck, Chaps! ...

It's Spring Break this week on the campus of Midland College ... but NOT on the hardwood floors in Hutchinson, Kansas, where the MC Chaparral men's basketball team begins play, tomorrow, in the NJCAA National Men's Basketball Tournament, in pursuit of another national basketball championship.

Good luck, Chaps !!!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I suspect just about everyone has at least one period of time - a moment, a season, a year, or more - that is especially significant, with an impact upon their lives that may be instantly obvious ... or not even recognized until much later. One of mine was the summer of '75, when I journeyed with a troop of Boy Scouts from Pennsylvania and New York, to the town of Lillehammer, Norway - site of the 14th World Scout Jamboree. An acquaintance I made in the course of that journey was a Boy Scout from Japan, Kiichirou Kamio. At one point in the Jamboree, 20,000 Scouts from around the world were organized into the multi-national patrols, and sent backpacking into the mountains around Lillehammer, at the height of a Nordic summer ... I can think of worse ways to spend one's time. Here's our patrol ... that's Kiichirou and I on the right.

In the years that followed the Jamboree, he and I kept in touch intermittently, by mail and by telephone. Sometimes the letters would be accompanied by cards, mementos of our countries, and wedding pictures. We hadn't kept in touch so much in recent years ... there was our work (he's a restaraunteur, I've been all kinds of things), and our families, and our moves from one city to another.

Yet, as the news continued to stream-in today from Japan - earthquakes and tsunamis, fires and floods, death and devestation - I found myself thinking of Kiichirou (who several years ago had moved from Hiroshima to the coastal city of Iwakuni), and hoping he was alright ...

... and it turns out, he is. I know this courtesy of a Facebook connection that didn't even exist at the start of this year, but was there now. I'll let Kiichirou fill you in on the rest ...

"Thank you worried for me. This earth-quake was 5th-biggest since 1900. But here west part of Japan, there is not any trouble. I have usual life. It is said there will be about 1000 people died. Because of under the broken bildings and houses, and "Tsunami". Especially Tsunami's broken is hard, floated cars, floated houses, people who run away and are late, people who do not know tunami occurred, people who do not think so big wave comes. Tsunami's height is much over forecast, 3m-7m high."

"Japanese earth-quake measures is top level of the world. When earth-quake occurs, the signal 'earth-quake comes soon' appears on TV and Radio quickly. So we can go to more safety space near by.(in house or bilding under the desk etc.) or can make safe action; runs away from big machines; stop the dangerous machines) Before shake comes . And then people near sea or river run go to higher place. But unfortunately people who don't know this message, who can't make safty action (old people, on dangers work,etc.), who don't think damage is not so big, are have big damage. Lose own life, injured, lose cars. New houses and bildings don't have big damage. But old ones are have big damage. Law of building construction is severe in Japan, so few people was damaged on this earth-quake."

"Yours, Kiichirou"

さようなら今のところ、私の友人。 私達は再度会うよろしいです。

Those who want to help can go to and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A wonderful, classical birthday, Pt. 2 ...

Not one, but TWO wonderful composers of classical music were born on this day - a century apart, and on opposite sides of the world, yet still sharing a creative spirit that brought new ideas and themes into the concert halls ... where they still resonate to this day.

Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was born on this day in 1839, while American composer Samuel Barber was born on this day in 1910.

Barber was a dang Yankee from back-east like myself, born in the Pennsylvania town of West Chester, just a couple hours' drive south of my hometown. His interest in music began early - a musical at seven years of age, and an attempt at opera at ten years - and would cover orchestral, opera, choral, and piano works that spanned a long and productive life, which knew both highs (including a pair of Pulitzers) and lows (critical rejection, and clinical depression). Unlike Mussorgsky, Barber would live to see near-unversal acclaim for most of his works - helped in part by a distinguished list of musicians, singers and conductors worldwide who were among his champions.

Certainly his most well-know and easily-recognized work is "Adagio for Strings," a movement from Barber's "String Quartet" that has emerged as a stand-alone classic, a favorite for film scores and television soundtracks ... and the first works that comes to mind for many on occasions for mourning. It was broadcast over the radio following the announcement of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt's death, and played at the funerals of Albert Einstein, and Monaco's Princess Grace (another Pennsylvanian). In 2001, at Englad's celebrated Last Night of the Proms, it was performed to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks ...

Barber died on January 23, 1981. I was working the evening/closing shift at KHFM radio, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when the news came over the AP wire. I went back to our library, pulled a worn cover off the shelf, and placed an oft-played album on the turntable. It was about time for sign-off, I read the AP report, then closed the evening with "Adagio for Strings."

A wonderful, classical birthday, Pt. 1 ...

Not one, but TWO wonderful composers of classical music were born on this day - a century apart, and on opposite sides of the world, yet still sharing a creative spirit that brought new ideas and themes into the concert halls ... where they still resonate to this day.

Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was born on this day in 1839, while American composer Samuel Barber was born on this day in 1910.

Mussorgsky's works gave new, lyrical voice to Russian history and Russian folktales, as well as contemporary expressions of Russian culture at the time. Ironically, this put him at odds with the Russian royal court, which preferred a more traditonal and less innovative, European-themed approach to classical music. But what Moscow's inner circle dismissed at that time, the world has acknowledged and embraced over the ensuing years ... creating a legacy that Mussorgsky never even imagined when he died an untimely and debilitated death shortly after his 42nd birthday. That death left a number of his works in various states of completion or format ... some of the orchestral works of his, that are a popular part of today's classical music canon, are actually transcriptions prepared by Mussorgsky's friends, or by later advocates for his music.

'The Bogatyr Gates' movement from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" has become a staple for film, television and commercial productions. One of my favorites, though, is the transcription of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain ... like millions of others, I was introduced to Mussorgsky cortesy of Walt Disney, Leoplod Stokowsky and the animated film "Fantasia" ... coupled with "Ave Maria" in the video below (from sadisticmind87 at YouTube

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Going to Midland media, Midland College for the truth ...

It may be the truth for some in Travis County ... but it registered otherwise on the Austin American Statesman's "Truth-O-Meter," with help from Midland's newspaper, and Midland's college.

The "Truth-O-Meter" is a daily fact-checking feature powered by and the Austin American Statesman, and appears locally on the op-ed page of

"Sweeping statements oft fuel fact checks," the T-O-M-Texas home page explains. "As fact-checkers, we sit up especially straight when someone connected to Texas politics makes a flat-out claim. Absolutes seem to holler for review."

Such as the statement from Andy Brown - chairman of the Travis County Democrats, and past executive director of the 21st Century Democrats in Texas - who said nobody in higher education believes Gov. Rick Perry’s proposal to "serve up $10,000 college degrees" is possible. Brown was harldy alone in his opinion ... but it was his statement that provided the spur for T-O-M's analysis - an analysis that concluded, "We rate Brown’s statement False."

That analysis included the following ... "Catherine Frazier, Perry’s deputy press secretary, pointed out a Feb. 10 news article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram describing Midland College’s applied technology bachelor’s degree, which the article says can be earned for about $10,000."

And in an ironic twist on the subject that prompted the original, tested statement, Truth-O-Meter noted that the MRT's article also reported that MC's BAT program might not be funded in the next state budget.

Sheesh ...

Anyway, a hat-tip to the Midland Reporter-Telegram for the part they played in holding the feet of at least one political pundit to the factual fire. I hope they will continue to include the Truth-O-Meter feature on their website.

Monday, March 07, 2011

My first - and last - visit to the "Herd Rock Band Bracket"

Wednesday evening is 'church night' for some of us, and you'll find me attending "The Gathering" at First Prez-Midland each Wednesday night, enjoying a shared meal, fellowship and a variety of activities ... sometimes choir practice, sometimes Bible study, sometimes a worship service ... and sometimes, an intense discussion of contenders for the title "Best Rock Band" ... e-vuh!

I think it was Greg Pysh - who heads music ministry at FPC-M, and is an adjunct professor of music at Midland College - who raised the topic of "The Herd Rock Band Bracket" where, we are told "Colin Cowherd and The Herd with Colin Cowherd staff need your help crowning the best rock band." There were a number of us who had listened to at least a little rock over the years - many of us spinning 45s on a turntable, way back when - and we soon had the liveliest table talk in the fellowship hall.

Hmmmm ... what WOULD Jesus listen to?

This morning, I finally got around to visiting the bracket's website, and started ticking-off my votes in each of the 32 match-ups. Some were pretty easy ... I picked the Rolling Stones over Blink 182, and U2 over Korn. Others were harder ... I had a hard time deciding between The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which opened my eyes to new paths that rock might take, and Electric Light Orchestra, which produced my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE cover of "Roll Over, Beethoven."

So far, so good ... until I had gotten to the end of the selections and realized that MY personal favorite rock band - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - was missing from the list. What the ... ?!?!?!

Let me explain why this upset me ... I don't necessarily think they would win the contest. I mean, look at the four #1 seeds ... the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin ... all of whom I consider strong - or stronger - contenders. I guess what upset me the most was that Springsteen's band didn't even make it into the initial field of 64 ...

It ain't right, man!

And that's why I've paid my first - and last - visit to the "Herd Rock Band Bracket."

Friday, March 04, 2011

"The Last Doughboy"

A passing-of-note took place early this week ...

"Frank W. Buckles died Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused," Paul Duggan wrote in
this article for the Washington Post "In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor."

When I was young, World War I vets were still common enough that we could all hear their first-hand recollections of that era, and the changes wrought by that conflict. I had both a grandfather and a great-grandfather in the war. But even back then, forty years after that strangely silent November morning signaled the end of "the war to end all wars," the old soldiers were begining to pass on to their final posting.

In the 70s, when I moved to New Mexico to attend college, I ended up living next door to another old vet. A dang Yankee from back-east like myself, he had moved from Ohio to the southwest for health reason, due to a collapsed lung he suffered from a gas attack during the war. A few years after we met, that grand old man passed away.

Sure, we have books and photos, films and audio tapes ... but it isn't quite the same as being there with them, asking questions, listening to the answers, watching their eyes, hearing a catch in their voice, and getting at least some sense of what it must have been like. The recollections are still there, but now they are second-hand ... as Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said, "We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history."

Midland kids go nationwide

You don't have to tell me what a great job is being done by "Coach" Curt Cowdrey and the students in San Jacinto Hunior High School's "Robotics Program" ... it's something I've experienced first-hand through Younger Son's participation when he was a student at SJ. But now more people are finding out, thanks to a report from KOSA-TV/CBS 7, that has since gone nationwide - and beyond! - with that story being picked up by CNN

MAJOR hat-tip to Coach Cowdrey and the kids at SJ Robotics!

Buon Compleanno! ...

... to il Prete Rosso Antonio Lucio Vivaldi - composer, priest and virtuoso violinist - born on this day in 1678. Dismissed by some, but loved by many more, Vivaldi - in his life and his music - has known both acclaim and obscurity over the centuries. At this time, he is very much IN and works such as The Four Seasons have become staples of classical music performance and enjoyment over the past century.

Here's "Winter" from The Four Seasons, performed by
I Musici in Vivaldi's hometown of Venice, Italy.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Well, I'm "Inspired!" ...

I stumbled across this video by accident, watching the scoller of Tweets that pop-up on your screen when you've logged-out of your Twitter account. I really, REALLY like this video. Now, if Southwest could just start flights to Iceland ...

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

Hat-tip to Eric for something well done AND well deserved ...

Does it worry anyone that more people can quote Charlie Sheen than can recite a poem from memory?

Someone please tell me why Charlie Sheen is news? WHO CARES ABOUT CHARLIE SHEEN? Egypt, Libya, union battles with Congress, that's news.

Sure, I could paint the Mona Lisa, but it's already been done - and done far better than I ever could - by Leonardo da Vinci. Along those same lines ... sure, I could deliver a well deserved, virtual dope-slap to celebrity flavor-of-the-month Charlie Sheen. But that, too,
has already been done - and done far better than I could - by Eric at Fire Ant Gazette.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

All good things must come to an end ...

A few weeks ago, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers' run for a record 7th Super Bowl victory and National Footbball League championship ... and a few days ago, it was that awesome beard sported by one of the Steelers' "Mane Men."

"He knew sooner or later it had to go, so Brett Keisel figured he might as well make it worthwhile. That’s why he hosted Shear the Beard, to benefit the cancer programs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC on Thursday." MORE ...

Clean-shaven as he now is, I still tip my hat in deference to this gentleman who was a temporary - but peerless! - member of the Brotherhood of the Brush.