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Saturday, June 26, 2010

FORBES most disliked sports people

Ben Roethlisberger, he's messing up big time.

Forbes magazine recently released its list of the ten most disliked people in sports. Eleven hundred people nationwide, age 13 and older, were asked their opinion on those currently active as a player, coach, manager, agent, owner, or broadcaster. A 10% minimum awareness level of those polled was also a prerequisite for being eligible to make the list.

Here are the results:

1. Michael Vick. Vick ran a dog fighting operation and was known to kill dogs through beatings and burnings. This is his second year in a row as number one on Forbes list and since I am an animal lover, that’s good enough for me. You just don’t mess with man’s best friend.

2. Al Davis. Al owns the Oakland Raiders and although I don’t dislike him, I think he is well past his prime and makes shaky decisions concerning his team. Most of the dislike of him may be from Oakland and Los Angeles, two cities he has moved his team to looking for a pot of gold.

3. Ben Roethlisberger. Ben is 28, and acts 18. The good: The recent charges of sexual misconduct by a 20 year old U. of Georgia co-ed were dropped. The bad: This is the second time this has happened. Are these girls being bought off? Ben is an embarrassment to his Pittsburgh Steeler teammates and is not a likable fellow. He would fit well in Oakland.

4. Tiger Woods. Do you dislike him because he fooled around on his wife? It doesn’t bother me; it just shows he is not too smart, not unlikable.

5. Jerry Jones. Jerry is owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team and thinks he is more important than the league. I’ll love it when a punter hits his billion dollar scoreboard.

6. Mark McGwire. Mark is a baseball cheater. He set the season home run record for major league baseball a few years ago but later it was found he was on drugs. Nice guy, just not smart.

7. Terrell Owens. Owens is another loud mouth, prima donna, unlikable wide receiver in the NFL who fortunately is just about washed up after being with four teams.

8. Alex Rodriguez. As 3rd baseman for the Yankees "A Rod" messed up a good thing. He showed too much greed with money, was caught using enhancement drugs, and left his wife to become a first class womanizer. At least a little restraint might have helped.

9. Allen Iverson. NBA player with Philadelphia 76ers who once told his coach he didn’t want to practice. He never turned down his big paychecks though

10. Gilbert Arenas. Former U of AZ player with the Washington Wizards of the NBA. I would list him in the "not smart" category. He came into his team’s locker room with a loaded gun. He may lose $80 million because of it.

If I was adding some honorable mentions, I may place former major league baseball player Albert Bell on the list although he may not make the 10% awareness list. How about Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, and Manny Ramirez? With the Suns set to flounder next year with the loss of Steve Kerr and Doug Griffin in the front office, and the probable loss of Amar’e Stoudemire from the team, maybe owner Robert Sarver should be added as an honorable mention. What do you think?

To leave a comment or read other comments, go to "Jim's azcentral blog" under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Expressions of the past, the Ford Model "T"

(Ford Museum)
The June, 2010 AARP Bulletin has a list of some interesting expressions from the past. These expressions were once applied universally to our lifestyles and the technology of the time but have become a bit out of date. For those of a certain age, you will understand them. For the younger crowd, maybe not. Either way I’ll give a short explanation on each.

Asleep at the switch. I still hear this occasionally as a description of someone who is not giving full attention to something. However, it originated from the days when railroads had humans doing a lot of work that is automated now. If a guy didn’t change the tracks for a train going to Chicago and it wound up in Cleveland, he definitely was asleep at the switch.

That and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee. Yes, there was a time when coffee was a nickel a cup. I saw a sign in a diner when I was a kid that read "cup of coffee, glass of water, and a toothpick: 7 cents." Throw a nickel on the counter at Starbucks and see what you get.

Came in over the transom. Does anyone remember transoms? They were those windows above the door that many old hotels had to allow for better ventilation.

Put through the wringer. If someone had difficulty or was working too hard, they may say they were put through the wringer. The wringer was used to squeeze the water out of washed clothes. Wringers were replaced long ago by the spin cycle in modern washing machines.

Best thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread was quite an invention at one time and anything that was also newly invented could be referred to being the best thing since sliced bread.

Film at 11. That was the tease for TV news in the days long before live reporting.

Beam me up Scotty. "Star Trek" technology from the 60s and an expression you may still hear occasionally.

Let’s get cranking. Popular in the days when cars had cranks to start them, no ignition switches and starters then.

Dial her up. This comes from the days when if you called a girl you liked, it would be on a rotary dial phone. No push buttons in those days.

Here is one of my favorites not on the AARP list. In the great crime film from 1931 "The Public Enemy", James Cagney is a wise guy crook driving a new stick shift fancy roadster. The stick shift (or synchromesh transmission) was a new item at that time and when a valet goes to park Cagney’s car, he grinds the gears. Cagney shouts, "Hey, stupid, be careful! That things got gears. That ain’t no Ford!"

Cagney was referring to the Model T Fords of that era which, as he said, didn’t have gears.

The Model "T" Ford was one of the most successful cars in history. Millions were sold from the early 20th century until 1928 when they were replaced by the Model "A" which had a 3 speed stick shift. A lot of customers didn't like the "A" and Ford had to dismantle many of the old "T's" to create a demand. Cagney was right, they didn't have gears, just three floor pedals. Above is a 1926 Model "T" tudor. (Ford Museum)

To read other blog comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black history v. illegal immigrants

When slavery was abolished in the United States in the 1860's, it was a blessing to a multitude of black people who had previously been "owned" by wealthy Southern landowners. However, were those people really "free"? Freedom did not suddenly mean equality and respect even though most ex-slaves were United States citizens.

In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U. S. Supreme Court reinforced the constitutionality of separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites. Homer Plessy was 1/8 black and 7/8 white and easily passed for white in the society of the day. When he boarded the "white" car as a test on a train in Louisiana, he was quickly arrested for violating the separate but equal law. The Supreme Court, in a 7-1 vote (one abstaining) upheld separate but equal and Plessy was fined for his transgression.

The case of Plessy v. Ferguson remained the law in the United States until 1954 when it was abolished via the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. During the 58 years from 1896 to 1954, accommodations of blacks and whites were anything but separate and equal. Public restrooms for whites were more like what you would see off the ballroom at the Phoenician while black restrooms were more like what would be in a downtown Greyhound bus station. If you were black and went to a movie theater, you sat in the balcony and entered and left by a separate entrance.

Black citizens also suffered indignities in show business playing mainly servant roles with names like "Snowflake" or as derisive characters who bowed to the white man and were considered fools. Willie Best and Stepin Fetchit were good examples of actors from those times. Remember, these people were United States citizens.

Fast forward to 2010. Black citizens must laugh when they see illegal immigrants marching in the streets demanding their "rights" while they receive free medical attention, free schooling, and various other benefits that cost tax paying Americans millions. In addition, nine privately owned immigration detention centers across the U. S. will soon start to receive government funding to give illegals continental breakfasts, bingo, and art classes. They will also have some nice carrot sticks to munch on along with free phone service, dancing lessons, and some hanging plants to make the facility a bit nicer. I wonder what Homer Plessy would think of this. Read about it here.

The comedian Yakov Smirnoff was right when he looked at the U. S. and declared, "What a country!"

To read the other 90 comments or add your comment, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister is a columnist for the Scottsdale Republic in Arizona.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The business of love

It seems so romantic. Boy meets girl, they are young and fall in love, and they decide to get married. They figure this will be forever, after all, neither one could ever love anyone else, right? Never mind that she has $5 million and he has $500. They both proclaim that "The money doesn’t matter."

In a previous era that couple would tie the knot and hopefully live happily forever. In today’s "lawyered up" world, after the couple decides under a beautiful Arizona moon that they are in love, it is time to start the car and head for each person’s lawyer to get financial arrangements made in the form of a prenuptial agreement.

In the case of a couple with no significant assets, a prenup usually isn’t necessary. If they break up they can split the gas station free dishes, the Denny’s gift certificate, or whatever else they have of little value. In a prenup, both parties have a lawyer at about $2,000 each which means the legal costs would probably be more than the value of their assets.

What about if there are a LOT of assets, especially when most of them come from one party? About 40% of marriages fail so doesn’t it make sense to plan for such a contingency? To me the answer is yes and no. I’m still a romantic in the sense that when I fell in love with my future wife, the last thing on my mind was how we would split the estate if we got divorced. Of course, when your estate is about $800 as ours was, such things aren’t a factor. On the other hand, if I had $5 million, I might have wanted a legal document proclaiming how it would be split. However, in 1967 such things weren’t really considered.

Because of the cost of lawyers and the lack of assets of most young couples, most prenups involve baby boomers in the 40 to 60 age group who have had time to accumulate assets. They total 3% to 5% of total married couples.

In spite of their growing popularity, a prenup can still cause disharmony between a couple with responses like "You don’t love me!" One adviser says that both partners need to realize that it is only a piece of paper and is a "routine part of the business of getting married." The BUSINESS of getting married? Gee, doesn’t that sound romantic?

To leave a comment or to read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. There are no viruses.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rock oldsters still popular

I enjoy alternative rock music. I’m glad because it means there is at least some newer music around these days that I like. I look at someone like Lady Gaga and all I see is a reincarnation of Madonna only with a lot more make up. She better have some good songs or she will go the way of the Spice Girls. That kid Adam somebody, who kissed his male keyboard player on TV, makes me want to regurgitate. As for most of the other pop singers, they may be OK but I see a lot of stations still playing the great artists and groups of the past. Stations like KDKB must get decent ratings from it or they would change their format.

Why do you suppose all five of the Grammy nominees this year for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance were in the over 50 age group? They were Bob Dylan (69), John Fogerty (65), Prince (52), Neil Young (64), and Bruce Springsteen (60). They were nominated because, regardless of their age, they are still some of the best and are able to retain their appeal.

AARP reports that Tina Turner (age 70) was mobbed by paparazzi in Paris this year asking if she is planning a tour. She gave them a definite "maybe." Meanwhile Elton John (65), Billy Joel (60), U2, and even AC/DC (Bong! Bong!), who has been around since 1973, were top grossing acts on North American tours in 2009. Carole King (68) and James Taylor (62) are set to tour North America, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan in 2010.

Neil Young has recovered from a brain aneurysm in 2005 and is bitching as usual against the establishment and David Bowie at age 63 is recording his 42nd album after having heart surgery six years ago. The Who with Roger Daltrey (66) and Pete Townshend (65) were a hit at the Super Bowl halftime show.

These guys are from my generation and I still enjoy them. As a kid in the late 50s and early 60s, there were a lot of great songs but most of the artists were what we called "one hit wonders." They had one huge hit and no staying power to do it again (Has anyone heard from Diane Renay, Sue Thompson, or Linda Scott lately?). That changed with the late 60s and beyond as the above paragraphs attest.

Two years ago (4-22-08) I did a blog about the resurgent success of the older stars and groups like Van Halen and The Police. Apparently two years later the success continues. Lady Gaga better keep her eye on the rear view mirror as she is about to get run over by a bunch of old timers.

To leave a comment or read 45 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. There are no viruses.