Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pondering Katrina..

I’m one of the few people I know who has never been to New Orleans. I’ve just never cared about it, but everyone I’ve ever heard talk about the Crescent City has come away in love with it. A great place to visit, great food, cool architecture and the ongoing party atmosphere.
Today I’m saddened as I’ve watched the “Katrina” coverage and it has become increasingly clear that this is the catastrophic storm “big easy” locals have always feared.
Fortunately most of the residents have been able to get out of town over the past 36 hours. Those with no way out are assembling mostly in the Superdome, a structure built to withstand 200 mph winds sitting on one of the high and dry areas of downtown.
Of course there are always some who choose to ride out one of these storms in their homes…it worked for them for the last 59 years and there is property to protect. They shouldn’t. If the experts are right about what will happen if the eye of this borderline category 5 hurricane comes ashore just slightly to the west of the city a series of events will inevitably lead to Lake Ponchartrain overflowing the levees and flooding New Orleans with 15 to 25 feet depth of water!
Looming post storm besides the cleanup will be damage to our gas and oil economy already suffering.
25% of our domestic oil use comes from or through offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. These have been already shut down for the past two days and will be inevitably damaged today and tomorrow as the storm passes along with the New Orlean Port facilities. Things look grim.
Our prayers are with those people living in the Gulf coastal states.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Screwing Exxon/Mobil...

One of the nicest people I’ve met since I returned to Pittsburgh is a Federal Express Executive named “Roland”. I chat with Roland for a few minutes several times a month, usually about politics. Roland could easily be the guy in “Castaway” played by Tom Hanks …enough said. Last night Roland and I had one of our talks.
“Are you going to be boycotting Exxon/Mobil? You know it's how everybody is going to be teaching Halliburton a lesson.” he said laughing. This coming from a guy who knows what it costs to run a large fleet of box trucks and cargo jets.
I responded with some Jipzeecab economic gibberish about how picking on one retailer (albeit the biggest) wasn’t going to change the fact that India’s and China’s developmental engines were sucking up the marginal oil reserves and that was the real reason gasoline prices are skyrocketing at the pump and if all we did was transfer our economic choice to another retailer it wouldn’t affect anything.
Then this morning I got an e-mail from my daughter suggesting I discuss on my site a “chain e-mail” she had received. You may have gotten it too. It is the one that purports to be from someone named “Phillip Hollsworth” and basically suggests that the way to lower gas prices at the pump is to boycott Exxon/Mobil and by not purchasing any gas from them the rest of the oil companies will learn a lesson and give up the obscene profits they are making. Supposedly if you will follow the precepts and get 10 others to do so soon 300 million of us will be sticking it to Exxon/Mobil.
I first heard of this chain e-mail on Zeneece’s website (see link on right or on April 1. Zeneece is the grownup version of the little girl in your third grade class who brought something to “show and tell” everyday. She has a fabulous site and if you read it everyday you will soon be the smartest person (commonsense wise) in the’s that good. But I digress.
According to “Breaking the Chain.Org. this particular letter has been around in slightly different forms since 2000. It has also been used in foreign countries against “Esso” and “BP”. In 2002 “Phillip Hollsworth’s" name was added as the originator. It resurfaces every time gasoline prices take a big jump.
I suppose if it really had any effect Exxon/Mobil would have surrendered and left our communities by now. Logic says that unless you stop buying gasoline entirely you are not going to affect its price.
In the interest of proper disclosure I admit that my family has large holdings in Exxon/Mobil Stock (but you suspected that anyway didn’t you...after all this site is called "Mobil’s Jipzee Cab") although I don’t own any myself. I do acknowledge that my largest single financial asset is SUNOCO, one of the oil companies needing to be taught a lesson…

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"First..Do No Harm"..

I like to think I’m one of the last people on Earth to be offended. And I usually can’t figure out why some of the rest of us get upset about this or that.
I believe political correctness is out of control…all you have to do is found your own interest group, organize your minority and you can declare something offensive.
So why am I upset about a particular ad that portrays Doctors in a negative light in an attempt to be funny?
I love mean lawyer jokes even though my daughter is an attorney and my son, a second year law student.
I don’t have any special love for Doctors. In fact I’m not sure I particularly like one I’m seeing at the moment but he does do his job professionally and in my best interest.
The ad which has my “political correctness hackles” up promotes Coors Light, probably my favorite beer after Corona. It is called “Shock” and was produced by Foote, Cone and Belding’s Chicago Division. It’s been on TV a lot this past week.
A woman brings her catatonic boyfriend/husband to an emergency room/clinic. He has a bottle of Coors Light in a frozen grip. The woman tells the male physician that the patient went into shock when he discovered this particular bottle wins a superbowl game tickets promotion. The physician proceeds to try to wrestle the bottle away from the patient. After some Coors Light ad copy the physician is depicted saying “It’s OK…I’m a Doctor,” while repeatedly slamming a door shut on the patient’s arm.
Ok..If it wasn’t a Doctor doing it I would probably find it funny…even if it was your favorite neighborhood barrister.
I guess I just don’t feel we should treat those who practice the healing arts this way..
Am I losing it?..

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ex Post Facto Testing..

“Lance Armstrong Hit with Doping Allegations”

I thought when I saw this headline today it was a rehash of charges that have been around for years but have managed to remain outside of the mainstream press. Ironically I had suggested in a previous comment section of mine earlier today that Lance was one of several athletes that get “a pass” from the media.
According to Reuters, a Paris newspaper called L’Equipe is reporting that Armstrong used a “banned” drug called EPO (erythropoietin) in 1999. As evidence they allege six out of nine test vials they assert are Armstrong’s tested positive for traces of the illegal substance. L’Equipe also showed documents from the French Cycling Federation purportedly linking the test results with Armstrong. Back in 1999 when the samples were taken there wasn’t a test for EPO, the tests were performed since on supplemental samples from then.
Armstrong quickly publicly denied the story saying on his website, "I will simply restate what I have said many times. I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs."
Last year Armstrong was forced to refute “blood doping” allegations by a former cycling team groom. He won a lawsuit recently against a British newspaper that printed excerpts from the groom’s tell-all book.
Timing is everything. Curiously this new report surfaces three days after the Anti War Armstrong had his celebrated ride with President Bush.
You can count on the French to keep things interesting.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Much Ado About Something...

Forces on the left and the right are both known for criticizing bias in the media, but noone ever take the “sports media” to task about what they write or say except individual athletes and their agents. The past few days I’ve discovered a subject the whole sports media seems to be in agreement about.
In the “collective mind” of sports writers and commentators Tiger Woods has committed a major “faux pas”.
It is generally agreed that Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer presently competing in the world.
This current season is one of his best. He has won 2 “majors”, The Masters and the British Open, placed second in the US Open and fourth in the PGA..He also has won three other professional tournaments including this past weekend's World Golf Championship/NEC Invitational (pictured on the left).
So what is all the fuss about? Last week when the PGA Championship was washed out by rain for the final few holes on Sunday, Tiger who had “birdied” his final two holes had completed his round and was the “clubhouse leader” at two under par. There were 10 other golfers still playing when play was postponed until Monday morning and at the time 3 had better scores than Woods and 5 of the players were easily in range to finish better than the clubhouse leader. Probably the best Tiger could hope for was that none of the five would end up with a better score than him and there would be a playoff.
Last Monday morning the finish was televised on CBS. I remember Jim Nantz remarking (as Steve Elkington lined up a 2 ½ foot putt for “birdie to finish “3 under”). “Well I think Tiger just got in that limo to head out to Teterboro” (Private airport near NYC).
Not so fast Mr. CBS network sports anchor.. we learned later in the day that Tiger wasn’t even there. He had flown home to Orlando Sunday night and was working out in a gym there Monday morning while the finish was going on. This seems odd since Tiger is all about the “major” golf tournaments and winning three in one season would have been quite an accomplishment.
He is quoted as saying about the controversy.. “Look, there were five of the best golfers in the World there..each one of them had won a major championship ..I couldn’t believe all of them were going to come back to 2 under..”
Tiger does an ad for American Express where he says,"In my life there are no rainy days..My life is about never settling." the implication being that his whole career (even “what would be a day off for everyone else”) is planned out. Maybe this is true to the point where he hates to disrupt that schedule..
Back to my original assertion. Slowly during the past week a negative hue and cry from the sports media has been building, condemning Woods for leaving the PGA Tournament before it was settled.
Do you know what the sporting public thinks? ESPN ran a poll nationally which asked if "Woods was wrong to head home on Sunday night?" 76 % of the respondents said he wasn’t.. although for some reason respondents in Vermont and New Hampshire thought he was by 70 % and agreed with the sports media. Fox just ran a similar poll..57 % said Woods wasn’t wrong to leave although 43 % thought he was.
The Libertarian in me says, “Much ado about nothing.”

Sunday, August 21, 2005

By the Night's Gonzo Light!

Last night in Woody Creek, Colorado a final tribute was held for Hunter S. Thompson. 250 friends of the famous journalist gathered near a 153 foot monument near his home for a final sendoff.
A fireworks display dispersed his ashes over his Colorado estate as predicted in a 1978 BBC Documentary.
The tribute was financed primarily by actor friend Johnny Depp who played the Hunter Thompson character in the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“.
Performing at the event were “The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Lyle Lovett.
Thompson’s widow, Anita said that not all the late writer’s ashes were involved..some had been retained for private services.
On Wednesday this past week she delivered the ashes used last night to the Zambelli Fireworks Company in New Castle, Pennsylvania where they were placed in 34 different red, white and blue rocket shells.
Although I've been told during my life by some who knew me that I remind them of Thompson..and that I would probably really appreciate his writings, I never got into his works until this past year. It is very interesting reading to say the least..
I also finally saw the aforementioned movie "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in February. What a laugh riot that was!
I wonder if it was a coincidence that the Moon was at its fullest last evening…

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Rocket's Red Glare..

The Houston Astros have announced that Roger Clemens will undergo an MRI test of his back today.
During Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Clemens says he felt a "twinge" in his lower back during the third inning and again in the fifth. Despite these moments of discomfort the Rocket pitched 8 complete innings of shutout baseball giving up only 2 hits and striking out 9. He threw only 88 pitches.
(The Astros lost the game 1 to 0 in the 9th inning when their ace reliever Brad Lidge gave up a homerun to Pirate shortstop Jack Wilson).
Clemens hurt his back moving furniture in July but has yet to miss a start.
A debate has begun to emerge among sport’s commentators about whether or not Roger Clemens deserves to win the National League Cy Young Award which is supposed to go to the League’s best pitcher. The Rocket won the award last season. He had his 43rd birthday on Sunday.
This season he has a mind boggling 1.32 ERA easily the lowest by a regular rotation pitcher in 37 years. Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA in 1968 the best ever by a modern pitcher.
The problem is that the Astros haven’t been scoring runs themselves on the days he’s been pitching. Eight times in which Clemens has started games the Astros haven’t scored.
Clemens has started 24 games and yet has only 11 wins. Teammate Roy Oswalt has 14 wins with the same number of starts. Chris Carpenter of St. Louis has won 17 games in 24 starts. Clemens and Carpenter have both lost only 4 games and Carpenter’s Cardinals are in first place in the Astros division although Houston is in the lead for the wild card berth.
If you believe is passing these awards around Carpenter should get the National League Cy Young Award.
Recognition of his ERA achievement if he can continue to pitch may yet get Clemens an 8th Cy Young.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Valerie Out...Miller In...

Could this story get any stranger..
Confirmed this morning by none other than Tom Brokaw, former anchor and director of NBC News is the report that Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, is being seen at Manhatten film premiers on the arm of actor Robert DeNiro.
Plame's "outing" as a covert CIA agent is the issue at the center of attempts by Democratic forces to get Karl Rove fired as George Bush's political advisor.
This while Judith Miller, a New York Time's reporter, sits in a Federal jail for refusing to testify to a Grand Jury in the controversary about a story she never wrote.
Oh, and to add to the zaniness, reporter Miller's husband Jason Epstein is vacationing...cruising the Mediterranean, while his wife is wearing stripes.
Don't any of these people have any sense at all of public relations savoir faire, or as we used to say SHAME!?..

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