GARY D. GADDY
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Democrats 'undemocratic' proposal

OBVIOUSLY, you missed the hearings, town hall meetings and the referendum, because the North Carolina Senate voted late on Monday, May 14, 2007 to pass, by straight party-line vote one the most significant pieces of legislation ever to come before it. Senate Bill 954 is a proposal to join a "compact of states" to change the way the president of the United States is elected. And, no, there wasn’t any debate or discussion among the people of this state. Our Democratic legislature is voting to make the United States "more democratic" -- by an undemocratic fiat.

The aim of this "compact" sounds good: to have the president of the United States elected by a simple majority of the voting populace of the United States. If this compact is agreed to by enough states to represent a majority of the nation's electoral votes, the law would require North Carolina to give its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide, not the candidate the state's voters voted for.

That is not, of course, how the president is currently elected. We do not hold a popular vote election; we hold 51 elections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The electoral college, which elects the president, is apportioned by state by the number of U.S. representatives (in proportion to the state’s population) plus two senators per state (so small states are given a modicum of voting power).

This "compact," the idea for which was hatched in San Francisco, would effectively amend the Constitution of the United States, without having to go through the messy process of amending the Constitution of the United States. Once a simple majority of enough state legislatures, constituting a majority of the electoral votes, enacts this "compact," the winner of the popular vote nationally in all subsequent presidential elections would become president.

Sounds democratic, doesn't it? Sounds like letting "the people" elect the president, doesn't it? Well, if it is, how come "the people" aren't part of the process to make this change? Perhaps because how North Carolinians vote in a presidential election will hardly matter, except as they agree with the majority of voters in the country, in allocating our electoral votes.

The framers of our constitution had reasons for setting up our electoral process as they did, and also for the process for how it can be changed: an arduous process of constitutional amendment, guaranteeing a protracted public debate. What they were trying to avoid is exactly what we are seeing here, under-the-table backroom deals that fundamentally alter our system of government.

Our country was created as a republic (a limited representative government) rather than a pure democracy (a government solely of the majority) and a federal system (having states as actors within the national government). If we want to make such a very consequential change, that’s something that should be done with public debate and careful deliberation and not while we’re not looking. If the legislatures of the 11 largest states ratify this "compact," our presidential electoral system is changed -- without any input from the other 39.

Our current system still makes plenty of sense because it preserves some power to the already marginalized rural areas and less populous states. If this "compact" for popular majority presidential elections takes effect, many areas of this country will be almost completely ignored, not just occasionally but in perpetuity. As it is now, "swing states" get lots of attention in each election, but those states change with the current candidates and particular issues at election time.

Under this "compact," presidential elections would become elections by the people of the urban areas of the country. The rural, less populated, parts of our nation would be effectively disenfranchised by this "compact." To do so by so undemocratic a process is ironic to say the least, and it will be a sad day for our republic if we let this happen.

Why are the Democrats doing this? This is not democracy in action; it’s partisanship run amok. In every presidential election since 1976, the voters of our state have opted for the Republican nominee. So, what the Democrat-controlled legislature is trying to do is simple: not to make North Carolina "more democratic" but to make it "more Democratic."

If this process seems acceptable, because the end justifies the means, the next "compact" could say our votes go to, not the majority winner, but the majority party’s nominee. This dictatorship of democracy would be no more or less constitutional than the current proposed "compact."

What’s a better way to bring more democracy to North Carolina? By confronting our state house before it also passes this Trojan horse (House Bill 1645). And by disenfranchising any legislators who are trying take, by an extra-constitutional process, our presidential vote from us, without our permission, so they can advance their national agenda, one not in our state’s best interest.

Gary D. Gaddy is a voter from Orange County.

An edited version of this column appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun on Wednesday May 23, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:31 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 9:18 PM EDT
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Thursday, May 17, 2007
A Pop Quiz on Illegal Immigration

THE PRIMARY PROBLEM with our illegal immigration "problem" is that our problem is also a solution. While you and I, sitting comfortably in our Chapel Hill estates, may perceive that the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States generates social problems and creates economic burdens, these same "undocumented aliens" also solve social problems and alleviate economic burdens -- just not ours, but theirs. Perhaps the following little test will help us see how these problems and solutions interact.

This quiz includes jokes -- but take this problem seriously, because, as a society, we cannot continue to ignore it without major negative consequences.

Q.1. How do illegal immigrants get to the U.S.? If you answered "illegally," you get only half a point. The fact is almost as many illegal immigrants come to the U.S. legally as illegally. Like my cousin from Alabama, they "come up to visit for a week," then decide to "look for job" and end up staying for quite a while. (The difference being that most illegal immigrants do actually look for a job, get one shortly, and don't sleep on my couch for months -- they buy their own.)

Seriously, according to a study by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center, 45 percent of the undocumented migrants in the United States overstayed legal visas.

The Atlanta Olympics were an illegal immigration bonanza. Some international Olympic spectators are, apparently, still waiting for the team handball finals.

Q.2. If your country's southern border is with a poorer country with higher unemployment and many potential workers who are willing to take jobs your citizens seem uninterested in, even if it means they have to cross your border illegally, what should your country do?

(a) Deploy soldiers to the southern border

(b) Send illegal immigrants who are caught to jail

(c) Refuse legal status for most illegal immigrants even after they have been in your country for years

(d) All of the above

Correct answer: (d) All of the above. At least that's what Mexico does with its "problem" neighbors from Guatemala.

Q.2a. Bonus question: How do you spell "hypocrisy" in Spanish?

Q. 3. Why did the Mexican cross the Rio? If you answered, "To get to the other side," please consider yourself admonished. I would not possibly make such a cheap joke. The actual answer is to take back Texas (or should I say, Tejas) from the gringos who stole it.

Q. 4. True or false, illegal immigrants are criminals. (a) True (b) False. Answer: (a) True, see the Funk and Wagnalls definition of the word "illegal".

Q.4a. Follow-up question: How many of you are criminals? Please raise your hand. If you didn't raise your hand, you are a liar as well as criminal. You have never sped while driving? Never jaywalked across a street? Reported every penny of income you have ever received?

OK, there is one major difference here: illegal immigration violations tend to be ongoing. It's not like trespassing briefly by cutting through someone's yard on a short cut to the College Soda Shoppe; it is more akin to squatting on someone else's property indefinitely without their permission.

Q.5. Final question: What should the United States do about its illegal immigration problem?

(a) Nothing. It's worked great so far (just ask the Mexicans who are here or the businesses that use their cheap labor).

(b) Act like it's not a problem. It's worked great so far for the Democrats.

(c) Spout off like it is a problem, then do nothing. It's worked great so far for the Republicans.

(d) Make the Rio grander.

(d) Only because it's better than the first three, our primary current policies. We do have to make our border more secure, much more secure.

Personally, I have a warm spot in my heart for anyone who is willing to work, to work hard, work long and do as well as they can at the job given to them -- especially when they use their hard-earned money to feed, clothe and house their families -- which is what most illegal immigrants do.

I don't have any warm spots for politicians (north or south of the border) doing little or nothing of substance to control their own country's borders or manage immigration properly, or (in the case of the Mexican government) won't provide a free economic and political environment that allows its people to prosper in their own homeland.

Final final question: What would you do if you were living in Mexico, could barely keep your family fed and there were unfilled jobs in the U.S., but you couldn’t get there legally? Thought so. Me too.

Coming soon: The Costs and Benefits of Illegal Immigration

 

Gary D. Gaddy emigrated from Virginia to North Carolina for the same reason most of the immigrants, legal and otherwise, do -- because it's a great place to live.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday May 17, 2007. Copyright  2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:10 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 9:56 PM EDT
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Thursday, May 10, 2007
Global warming: Hot air as a greenhouse gas

GLOBAL WARMING finally came to Chapel Hill. It's called spring. Seriously, global warming is without a doubt taking place. With all the hot air being spewed out about climate change, it pretty much has to be.

What I would love to do is consider the question of global warming in a historical context rather than a hysterical and hypocritical one. Here's my try. Is the earth getting warmer or colder? The answer: Yes! It always is.

Looking at the history of earth's climate during the time we can see observable traces of it, the earth has gotten both warmer and colder. Even without sophisticated science, history tells us that the earth has been, in the relatively recent past, warmer than it is now. Why do you think the Vikings named Greenland Greenland? (Answer: It was green!) So, it has gotten cooler since then.

An article from Newsweek in April 1975 cites "ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically," warning of an impending "drastic decline in food production" and political disruptions that could affect nearly "every nation on earth." Scientists were urging emergency action to head off . . . global cooling. A Time article from June 1975 was entitled "Another Ice Age?"

Granted these illustrious magazines are not scientific journals, but these articles did report measurable trends suggesting the earth was cooling. Do global climate conditions really change that fast? Perhaps, because almost everyone agrees that right now the earth is likely getting warmer.

The next question is why. The evidence for human-activity-induced global warming needs to be examined impartially. But it isn't, from anything I can see, due to a bad case of groupthink stifling any objective discussion. When you hear phrases such as "global warming deniers," you know ideology has trumped science.

Man-caused contributions to the earth's levels of carbon dioxide have been rising significantly for at least a hundred years, so, why the cooling before the warming? Most of the "evidence" that global warming is "man caused" is not data but results from the notoriously scientifically suspect art of computer modeling. It’s hard to model global phenomena occurring over millennia when we have scientific data from only a few decades. We need to continue work with open minds on how climate actually works.

Further, some things about global warming just aren't being discussed. Global warming must have some good effects. I'm no climatologist, but my brother did write a book on the impact of cold weather on the Russian economy, and I'm guessing global warming, however caused, would be good for Siberia even if bad for Florida. (Do note the threatened "global cooling" of the 70s was catastrophic as well.)

If the threat of global warming is real and caused by human activity, we should build wind farms, which produce electricity with a relatively small output of carbon dioxide. But that would require that Edward Kennedy stop opposing wind farms in "his backyard" that will impact his view.

We should reduce energy use, so, however inconvenient, Al Gore should not own a house that produces 20 times as much carbon dioxide as the average house. And John Edwards should settle for an outdoor basketball court at his estate.

If the threat is real, we should be implementing solutions that will actually solve it, and not ones that only make us feel better about trying. Rather than producing food-based ethanol and biodiesel, we should be building nuclear power plants at a dizzying rate. Those who have been blocking nuclear waste storage facilities should be apologizing and getting out of the way. Nuclear energy can produce electricity cost-effectively without producing significant greenhouse gasses.

I say move cautiously, as government "solutions" tend to do more damage than good. By mandating and subsidizing ethanol as a fuel additive for automotive gasoline, the U.S. government quickly doubled the world market price of corn.

For much of the world, corn is the primary food of the poor. (Think Mexico.) High corn prices dramatically cut their meager disposable income (and raised food prices for everyone). And, by the way, many experts say food-based fuels do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gasses, since it takes lots of fuel and fertilizer to produce ethanol and biodiesel.

My suggestion: we stop hyperventilating (which increases emissions of carbon dioxide) and start acting responsibly. How about hybrid-energy U.S. postal service vehicles, state-owned cars and city busses for a start?

Energy consumed is one of our best measures of wealth. We cannot ask the developing world not to develop. We are not going to "undevelop." Whatever we do we should be careful to make effective and economically sensible solutions as the poor of the world will suffer greatly if we don't -- and the climate won't change.

 

Gary D. Gaddy currently lives a guilt-racked existence in a mansion almost as energy wasteful as Al Gore's Tennessee homestead.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday May 10, 2007. Copyright  2007 Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:49 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 9:57 PM EDT
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Wednesday, May 9, 2007
After the massacre, TV network adds to the horror

Cho Seung-Hui, the mass murderer who killed 33 people (including himself) in Blacksburg, Virginia, was a sick individual, both in the literal and figurative senses of the word. That gives an explanation, maybe a rationalization, but no excuse for what he did. Evil is evil even when someone as disturbed as Cho commits it.

Such a crime echoes widely from Blacksburg -- especially here in sister college town such as Chapel Hill.

I started writing this column without having seen the video Cho sent to NBC -- and having read barely anything about it. I didn't need to in order to know what a horrible thing it is for NBC to broadcast it. Beyond the pain that this video will cause for the families of the victims, and the fear it has spread across the world, this video was an integral part of a planned mass murder. NBC is now an accomplice after-the-fact to it.

NBC may call their actions what they will but glorifying a mass murderer is glorifying a mass murder.

Cho is dead, so airing this video is not going to make him do anything. But to those teetering on the edge of anti-social action, this video will entice them to go and do likewise. Consider how much dedicated effort normal and healthy individuals are willing to put forth to obtain a fraction of the recognition that Cho has received for this heinous crime. How can this attention, especially that provided by the broadcast of his video, not lure some to follow in his path?

The fundamental mode of human learning is imitation. We do what we see. We say what we hear. (Did any parent ever really teach their child to walk or to talk?) Others, already sadly predisposed to such thoughts and even actions, will with varying degrees of mimicry and varying degrees of success imitate what happened at Virginia Tech. With millions if not billions of people exposed to these images it almost has to. With an amplification of the necessary news coverage, especially NBC’s broadcasting Cho's self-exalting video, such fatal imitation is even more likely.

How do I know that? Because it has happened before -- with far less powerful images on far less widely distributed media than television. Goethe's novel, "The Sorrows of Young Werther," in which the protagonist killed himself with a gun, was considered to have spawned a number of suicides in the late 1700s. So apparent was its impact that the phenomenon of copycat suicide has been since called the "Werther Effect." Almost 200 years later, the 1978 movie "The Deer Hunter" appears to have elicited many suicides by Russian roulette, similar to that shown in the film.

But beyond these widely observed correlations of depictions of suicides and actual suicides, many studies have shown outwardly directed aggression being evoked by exposure to such behavior. The patterns, processes and effects of these types of media depictions are pretty well established. But like smoking to the cigarette companies, apparently not well enough established for NBC.

Before I read about the contents of Cho's video I had assumed, and would have guaranteed, that he was more than aware of the Columbine killings and the associated video the killers there made. I now know that he was. Eric and Dylan were "martyrs," according to Cho. And role models, it appears.

If and when more such killings occur by individuals who may have been inspired by what they saw on the news regarding this latest horrific event, will anyone be able to hold NBC responsible? Probably not.

As far as the networks are concerned, to the best I can see, they don't think, or at least would never admit, that their broadcasts do anything except entertain, educate and sell things. It this case, they may do just that: help sick minds entertain thoughts of the secular immortality of fame, teach them how to obtain it and motivate them to close the deal by going out and doing it.

Whether or not this video will spawn more mass murders may be difficult to ever know with any degree of certainty, but when you watch the next set of videos made by our next mass murderer on your local NBC affiliate, perhaps then you will know.

I pray I'm wrong; I am afraid I will be right.

 

Gary D. Gaddy has a doctorate from UNC, was once a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and now lives in Orange County, North Carolina.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill News, Wednesday May 9, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:17 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2007 9:21 PM EDT
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Thursday, May 3, 2007
God concedes: Atheists are right

CHAPEL HILL -- In the face of the massive onslaught of bestselling books espousing atheism, God has finally given in. In a special two-hour edition of Larry King Live, broadcast worldwide from the Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, God spoke candidly with King, in a relaxed but serious Q & A session.

God began by noting just a few of the many recent titles (Atheist Manifesto; The Quotable Atheist; Letter to a Christian Nation; God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist; and The God Delusion) which make the case against His existence. God started by saying even He couldn't keep up with reading required to refute the seemingly endless arguments that dedicated atheists were putting out.

The excerpts below are from the show which will be broadcast on CNN on Thursday from 9 pm to 11 pm (EDT).

GOD: "Let me get right to the point, Larry: I concede. The atheists are right. I don't exist, never did."

KING: "Why now? Why give up now after all these millennia?"

GOD: "Back when it was no more than Madalyn Murray O'Hair ranting, as annoying as she was, I figured next to nobody was even listening. When Nobel Prize laureates started scribbling away, it got very discouraging.

"Ever since creation I have been inspiring man to believe, giving him ample evidence of my existence, and what do I get? Sass and backtalk from impudent little know-it-alls. It finally wore me out."

Later God admitted to King that He has been battling with writer's block himself, not having authored anything since The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

GOD: "I conceded some shelf space to these nihilistic nimwits, but if you've ever even skimmed Revelations you can see that would take something out of an author -- and it’d be hard to top. It's pretty far out."

KING: "Do I have this right; you now say that you never believed in yourself?"

GOD: "Larry, I don't have to believe. I know. I don't have to hope that I exist. I am. Remember, what I told Moses? I am. Anyway, that's what I used to say; now I say nothing, because I don't exist."

KING: "What do you hope to accomplish with your concession?"

GOD: "I'm doing it just to stop the bickering. I'm telling the atheists they are right, which I really think is all they want to hear. Maybe now they'll stop with these infernal books. Please.

"I'll admit that I am still tempted to say to some of these guys, 'I know that many of your arguments are very logical, some of your facts factual, sometimes you're almost persuasive, but did you ever think about the simple fact that you can think. How do you think that happened? Some nuts and bolts fell in bucket and just kind of put themselves together? I gave you more sense than that, I thought.'

"Honestly, on any clear night, anybody can look up in the sky and see the Milky Way. Just how do think that got there? The Big Bang? Here, I'll give you clueless a clue. The Big Boy started the Big Bang. You guys think it just sorta happened? Nothing, absolutely nothing caused all this to be? Boy, I'll tell you, you've got more faith than Elijah, Elisha and Moses put together. If you can believe in something that preposterous, sure seems like you could believe in a concept as simple as God. Even a child can do that -- and I'm glad that some of them still do.

"But, anyway, let me reiterate, Larry: I don't exist."

When asked by King why He didn't make His announcement on the "more obvious choice," the Rush Limbaugh Show, God answered, "Larry, that's easy, we couldn't find a room big enough to hold us both."

 

REPORT FROM THE SCENE

"This is Ron Stutts, WCHL Radio News, speaking from downtown Chapel Hill.

"Following the end of "Larry King Live" in the Dean Dome, thousands of atheists and atheistically leaning agnostics stormed onto Franklin Street in celebration of their greatest victory. The raucous celebration quickly faded as the celebrants realized that they no longer had a raison d'etre.

"As one person said, 'It's like Duke announcing they're dropping basketball. As much as we hate them, we love beating them even more. Without them, the game wouldn't be worth playing,' said Edgar L. Polonack, a doctoral student in philosophy from King's Mountain.

"The suddenly morose crowd dispersed as dispirited individuals in sullen clumps understood that this was not the happy day that they had hoped it would be.

"As the street emptied, the bonfire they had set extinguished itself, and the street grew dark.

"This is Ron Stutts."

 

Gary D. Gaddy, whom God may or may not believe in, does believe in God. (Go to GaryGaddy.com for other illogical theological treatises.)

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday May 3, 2007. Copyright  2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:30 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 2:18 PM EST
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Thursday, April 26, 2007
Is Chapel Hill safer than Blacksburg?

"In the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech, do you think the UNC campus is safe?" This Monday the Chapel Hill Herald "Community Speakout" asked as well that of five students. They all said "yes." They must also think the Blacksburg campus was safe the day before the killings happened there. Virginia Tech had a person on their campus who was clearly and obviously mentally ill, and chronically angry, isolated and dangerous as well: Cho Seung-Hui. For the record, Virginia Tech was not safe.

Apparently these UNC students didn't notice alumnus Mohammad Taheri-Azar driving an SUV through the heart of UNC's campus last March. Taheri-Azar was charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder. Only his incompetence as a mass murderer kept him from rivaling the total in Blacksburg.

Taheri-Azar said he did this to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world. He likely had a brain disorder also.  His sister says he has tried to kill himself at least twice since his arrest. At last report he was at Dorothea Dix Hospital undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. His lawyer says his client "has a severe mental illness." He was very angry, isolated and dangerous as well.

We should also remember Wendell Williamson. On January 26, 1995, Williamson, then a third-year law student at UNC, killed two people during a shooting spree on Chapel Hill's Henderson Street. Williamson also shot and wounded two others. A jury found Williamson not guilty by reason of insanity. Clearly Williamson received inadequate treatment for his mental illness, having won a $500,000 medical malpractice suit against his psychiatrist.

Williamson had 600 rounds of ammunition in his knapsack when he was arrested. He later said that he originally planned on going up on the hill above the Smith Center at game time for his killing spree -- but he didn't. If he had, dozens, if not hundreds, could have died.

No one can make any place else really safe from individuals who are willing to die in order to kill. There are not enough gun control laws, armed guards or metal detectors in the world to make it truly physically safe.

I can promise you that the task force established in Virginia to evaluate their tragedy will recommend improvements in the campus and the state mental health systems. They should.

Recently, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) graded the state mental health systems. North Carolina got a D+. Virginia got a D. Our mental health treatment systems do not have minor flaws or gaps; they have gaping crevasses that make the Grand Canyon look like a hairline crack.

We can make things substantially safer, starting by providing significantly better and more assertive treatment for people who have serious mental illnesses, especially those who are a potential danger to themselves or others. We know how to do this.

This does not mean locking up every person who mutters to himself or looks strange. Most people with mental illness are not dangerous to anyone -- not if their illness is properly treated and they are incorporated into a close and caring community.

Kicking those with mental illnesses out of school, or the workplace, will only move the problem. A valid and up-to-date student ID is not what allowed Cho and Williamson to kill, nor what kept Taheri-Azar from trying.

Shunning, isolating and marginalizing those with mental illness will not make anyone in this world any safer. Doing these things will make it more dangerous. Appropriate treatment and communities that care about those with mental illness will make things better and safer. Such treatment does exist -- but there is far too little of it and there are too many barriers to receiving it for those in need. And such communities do exist -- but they are too few and too far between.

Sometimes treatment may involve involuntary commitment in locked ward in a mental hospital. (And this should not be only after tragic acts of violence against themselves or others.) But when it does, it should also include appropriate placement in supportive transitional housing after hospitalization, and appropriate community support after that. (Some of which is just what North Carolina is cutting right now, believe it or not.)

Laws to allow for involuntary out-patient treatment would also keep us all safer. Someone hospitalized as dangerous then made safe by medical treatment should not leave the hospital without support and monitoring to assure that they stay on that treatment lest they return to their previous condition unobserved.

We can do this. We must demand this. If we don't, when the next horror happens, we won't have to look for someone else to blame, we can just look for a mirror.

 

Gary D. Gaddy serves on the board of NAMI Orange County.

A version of  this column was first published in the Chapel Hill Herald, April 26, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:34 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, January 22, 2011 4:21 PM EST
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Thursday, April 19, 2007
UNC's Biscuit Burke goes pro

CHAPEL HILL -- Already on edge from the possibly impending announcement that the University of North Carolina basketball team's starting forward Brandan Wright would opt to leave school early to make himself eligible for the National Basketball Association college player draft, the Tar Heel Nation was stunned today at the totally unexpected decision by reserve guard Dewey Burke to go pro.

Some top college basketball analysts were shocked at the announcement since Burke, optimistically listed at six foot and 185 pounds, played sparingly and started but a single game during his time at UNC. Draft insider Dave Telep, director of basketball recruiting for Scouts.com, however, did note that former UNC player Marvin Williams, who did not start any games for the Heels, was picked second overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2005 draft.

Many basketball analysts had not seen Burke going pro at all -- based strictly on his personal and performance statistics. But after the season, a more careful dissection of UNC team outcomes showed that Burke was the key player on the team. Said Telep, "Burke played in 21 games this season -- all 21 of which were Tar Heel victories. Further, all seven of the team's defeats came without Burke. The team only went 10 and 7 when Dewey did not play." Telep noted that Burke's sole start as a Tar Heel varsity player came in no less of a game than UNC's final home contest, a series-sweeping victory over Duke.

"Clearly, 'Biscuit' was worth more to this team than just a cheap breakfast the day after games in which the Heels scored 100 points or more," said former Duke player and current CBS color analyst, Jay Bilas. "More incredibly than just wins and no losses, Burke's contribution came with an average of only one and half minutes played per game," he added.

As a point of comparison, said sportswriter Art Chansky, even the legendary Michael Jordan never had an impact even close to Burke's. In his best year at UNC, the national championship season of 1981-82, when Jordan played the team went 32 and 2, but that took him an average of nearly 30 minutes a game to accomplish, added Chansky.

ACC basketball guru and current Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs said he believes that Burke has the best winning percentage of any player for North Carolina in the last 50 years, exceeding even that of Timo Makkonen, who played for the Tar Heels under Dean Smith from 1981 until 1984, who went 15-0 during the 1983-84 season.

Jacobs noted that Burke made three of the most important plays of the season for the Heels. The first two were 3-pointers that pushed the Tar Heels over the century mark. (January 3 versus Penn and January 31 versus Miami), for which, Burke earned his nickname "Biscuit," as they allow fans to purchase two sausage biscuits at participating Bojangles restaurants for 99 cents as compared to a regular price of $1.79 each.

But Burke also executed the single play that many experts say set up UNC's ACC tournament championship during the Bloody Broken Nose episode at the end of Carolina's regular-season-ending victory over Duke. Without Burke's carefully performed bearhug of the bloodied Tyler Hansbrough, it is likely that UNC would have lost the All-American for one or more tournament games -- as Gerald Henderson would have lost his head again, this time literally.

TV basketball analyst Billy Packer made a special note of the fact that Burke did not play a single second in UNC's NCAA regional finals loss to Georgetown. Packer was emphatic that he would have started him -- and had him jump center.

David Glenn, editor of the ACC Sports Journal, was stunned by Burke's move. "I expected Kevin Durant to opt for the draft," said Glenn. "Greg Oden I could see, but I have to admit that I was blindsided by Burke. I had so much focus on underclassmen. I guess I should have taken note that he was a senior," said Glenn.

An employment placement specialist with Manpower, Inc., Dianne Ving says that Burke, a senior sociology major, could sign an employment contract with "any number of service industries." She said, based on recent statistics for sociology graduates and given his demonstrated charisma and leadership characteristics, could expect to earn an annual salary in "the low-to-mid-five-digit range."

Rumors are that Bojangles is offering Burke an assistant manager position at "the franchise of his choice."

Curiously, Burke has been given little interest in the National Football League for their upcoming draft even though he was originally recruited by Fairfield University as a quarterback but transferred to North Carolina without playing after the school discontinued its football program.

 

Gary D. Gaddy believes that he saw Makkonen score all 20 of his career points (in person or on TV) and definitely did see Finland's finest's two points during the 1981-82 season, but was always more impressed with his fellow Finn, former UNC women’s player Jenni Laaksonen. (Go to GaryGaddy.com to see past columns.)

A version of  this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, April 19, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:07 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2007 3:06 PM EDT
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Sunday, April 15, 2007
End the Legacy of Racism at UNC

APOLOGIZING, as the NC Senate did recently, for slavery was a nice gesture. Now we should do something about it. Since slavery has been abolished already, without any help from the NC state legislature, we don't need to do that. But there are things North Carolina could, and should, do.

One thing that has already been done by the University of North Carolina is the Carolina Covenant. This is a great idea for the Chapel Hill campus because it opens a magnificent university to more of the people of our state by reducing the economic barriers for poorer students.

It is a great idea because it helps remediate the impact of past racist policies that excluded African-Americans from its campus, except as groundskeepers, housecleaners and maintenance workers, thereby helping to keep these poor people poor. But all that past isn't past us yet. The real, the literal racist legacy of UNC is not a historical artifact; it's a current admissions policy.

In the world of college admissions, legacies are the children and step-children of University alumni, and a "legacy policy" really means a "pro-legacy policy," that is, giving preference to legacies in admission. Legacy admissions, by perpetuating the impact of past discriminaton, are figuratively the step-children of our state's racist past.

In 2005 UNC's Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions reviewed then-current practices and "endorsed the general principle of legacy admissions." In 2004 it was reported that UNC reserves about 80 spaces for out-of-state legacy students. For those against quotas, here's a "quota" to be against.

A purely merit-based admissions process provides advantage enough for these children who had the benefit of parents who were Carolina grads. This is a real, undeniable and irrevocable advantage. Having grown up in educated and relatively well-to-do Tar Heel families, these legacies are likely to be better students. I do not propose that we discriminate against them. This is a case, where we must acknowledge that life's not fair and get over it. But we also certainly don't need to promote and enhance such unfairness.

As affirmative action for rich kids, legacy admissions don't have much to recommend them as measure for promoting equality or social justice -- but they are a good way of getting big donors to make big donations. And that's one of the main reasons that they still exist.

The only good reason justifying legacy admissions is that they build the school's sense of loyalty and community across time. Almost by definition, however, this process of building community across time using legacies is opposed to diversity. Bias in favor of legacies will leave a school in the future looking more like it was in the past than the surrounding population in the present -- as compared to how it would look using pure merit.

The legacy policies are generally more pronounced at Ivy League colleges and at private colleges with Ivy-League-level aspirations than they are generally at public schools. According to The Wall Street Journal, legacy admissions account for 10 percent to 15 percent of students at most Ivy League schools. In 2003, at Penn, Princeton and Harvard, the chances of being accepted increase two-, three- and four-fold, respectively, for legacies.

But private schools, in my libertarian view, should be allowed to continue the practice if they wish -- and the best students should make note of it and go elsewhere if they do.

Because, even in the context of a supposedly non-discriminatory past, legacy policies still perpetuate the past inequities. Even if Harvard in 1850 didn't discriminate against African-American students (which I doubt is true), since most of the African Americans were being kept as slaves and deprived of formal education, not many were ever admitted. This left Harvard, Yale and other such schools with predominately white alumni and thus predominately white legacies.

Legacy admissions aren't an issue for non-selective colleges. Elizabeth City State University may or may not have pro-legacy admissions policy; it really doesn't matter. Anybody can get in anyway. Harvard, Yale and Princeton do have pro-legacy admissions policies, and they really do matter. If you graduate from one of these fine institutes of learning, whether you learn anything or not (cf. George W. Bush, John Kerry or any Kennedy), you may get to run the country. Many brighter and harder working students did not get the same chance, and most no doubt have succeeded in life, but perhaps did not have the same opportunity to succeed at the national level. America is poorer for that.

On this issue we can't fix Harvard, but we can fix Chapel Hill. Ending the legacy admissions preference, by bringing in the best qualified students possible regardless of birthright, would do two really good things: make UNC, and North Carolina, more elite and at the same time less elitist. I'm for that. How about you?

 

Gary D. Gaddy lives in Orange County not too far from Chapel Hill and holds a doctorate from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A version of this article was published in the News and Observer (of Raleigh) April 15, 2007.  Copyright  2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:29 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2007 3:07 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 12, 2007
A fan's memo to Coach Butch Davis

THE DOGWOODS are blooming; the sweet smell of pine pollen is in the air. That can only mean one thing: it's time for spring football -- and for the fans to start coaching the coach.

Please know we already love you, Coach Davis. Signing Day made sure of that. Anybody who can snatch an Everybody's All-American from the grubby hands of Notre Dame should be on the fast track to sainthood (not that you'll get any help from Pope Benedict on that.)

Still, my question to you is this: Do you really want to be a head football coach? If the answer is yes, I would like for you to know that new medications are coming out every day that may treat this syndrome. But if you can't be dissuaded, here are a few tips to make your stay happier, healthier, longer and less perplexing.

Since your introductory press conference, I am sure you've been told that North Carolina is the state; Carolina is the school. We don't "recruit Carolina." Don't get mixed up by James Taylor singing, "In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina." After you get an overpass over a minor creek named after you, you can call this state anything you want too -- until then stick to standard usage.

But on second thought, given how well you "recruited Carolina," we could care less what you call this place.

Don't let delusional people in the state of South Carolina who think that some university down there is "Carolina" get you befuddled either. Simply note that they still fly a Confederate flag on their state capitol grounds, so it is to be expected that their knowledge of historical geography is a bit muddled.

Yes, as you noted in a newspaper Q&A about the N.C. State rivalry, UNC is the chief rival of most of its ACC opponents. Yes -- but that doesn't make them ours! Our beloved alma mater does not say "Go to Hell, BC, Clemson, Tech, Miami or Wake!" During football season, it says quite clearly and distinctly, "Go to Hell, State!" (Not that I share such a crass sentiment, but that's what it says.) Don't get me wrong, we like beating those other schools -- but the one we hate is NC State!

Our football team has lost a bazillion games in row in Scott Stadium in Charlottesville; nobody cares. If you add a few more to the string, nobody will care. Lose three straight to N.C. State and you will care that your lawyer put a fat buyout clause in your contract. (Don't believe me? Ask Chuck Amato.)

Since you may lose a few games before you start winning them all, please note that we like good winners, but even more than that we dislike bad losers.

Exemplars of how to conduct yourself before the press include Dean Smith, Anson Dorrance, Sylvia Hatchell, Roy Williams, but I personally would recommend John Bunting. This university, maybe no university, has ever had a coach who conducted himself with more class and dignity in victory and in defeat. Like John Bunting, when you win, don't take credit, pass it on. When you lose, don't make excuses, take the blame -- and don't pass it on.

Also, you'll win lots of friends if you'll do like Coach Bunting and stay to the last note of the alma mater with your hat over your heart. (Concerning substitution patterns for running backs, however, maybe you should look for another role model.)

And we don't like coaches running up the score -- unless it’s when we play Steve Superior’s South Carolina Gamecocks next season. And we don’t like gloating -- unless it’s after whuppin' up on Steve Superior’s South Carolina Gamecocks next season.

And while we are happy to read about recruits committing to us in February, we don't like to read about crimes they are committing on others in November. And we will be especially happy to read about games they win early in January.

Finally, Carolina is a basketball school. Win five national championships before the basketball team wins another and perhaps that will change. In the meantime, we are glad that you understand that until our basketball players start sacking our quarterback, basketball success doesn't hurt football; it helps.

Other coaches may not have understood this. I earnestly think the beginning of the end for Mack Brown at UNC was the day in 1997 he held his regularly scheduled weekly press conference, when his team was on its way to finishing the season ranked fourth in the nation -- and no one showed up. No one. Reports were it really bothered him. This will happen in Chapel Hill whenever Dean Smith holds his retirement press conference.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, according to his brother-in-law who really wouldn't know, stays in the stadium until after the coach has gone home, win, lose or draw. 

A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2007 Chapel Hill Herald.    Copyright  2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:04 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 5, 2007
Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Member

(This article is re-printed from the very latest issue of the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club Newsletter for those of you who aren't fortunate enough to be on their mailing list and just can’t get enough information about your favorite regular Thursday Chapel Hill Herald columnist.)

Hollow Rock Member Spotlight

Starting (and perhaps ending) with this issue, the Hollow Rock Newsletter (HRN, to those in the know) will feature a Member Spotlight, bringing out from the recesses of the unlit backcourts a member who all the other members would or should have some reason to know more about. This might be a member with notable recent accomplishments on the courts or off, or a person with an interesting life story, or maybe one with a checkered criminal past -- somebody we club members may all want to keep our collective eyes and ears on. (I was thinking here of extremely interim club manager Terry O'Culligan or board member in perpetuity Terry O'Regan but I can't remember which. Perhaps I will clear this up in a future issue. Perhaps not.)

Rather than beginning the Member Spotlight with the obvious and hackneyed "member with another national championship" or "up and coming junior we may be seeing at Wimbledon in five or six years," we will begin (and perhaps end) our series with Hollow Rock's most mediocre tennis member. I know a lot of you are getting excited at this point in anticipation of a feature about you; sorry, this story features the "most mediocre member," not just any ordinary player. Mediocrity, in its technical sense, is just as rare as excellence. Just as only one player can be the "best in the world" (Roger Federer), only one member can be Hollow Rock's "most mediocre" (Gary Gaddy). Again, I know many of you, male and female tennis players alike, are saying, "Wait, I'm every bit as bad as Gaddy. How come I'm not Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Member?"

Let me go through this slowly and carefully, so those of you who are of sub-mediocre intellect or education can understand. People toss the word mediocre around like it means bad. It doesn't. Look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls. Mediocre means average, in the middle. Its etymology is from the French médiocre, which is from Latin mediocris, meaning "midway up a mountain." Notice the word midway, not at the bottom. Remember your bell-shaped curve from college psychology or statistics? Mediocrity is the high point on the curve. OK, that's confusing. Just believe me, it means average.

In any case, the ultimate in mediocrity means in the middle in every respect. Mediocre forehand, average backhand, middling serve, ordinary volley: this is Gaddy. The only thing that would make Gaddy any more mediocre would be if his given name was Norm. (When he went through elementary school, however, the most popular name at the time was Gary, which is to say, Gary was the modal, or average, name.)

But more than the elementary mediocrity of his individual skills, his overall tennis game is mediocre. Regardless what level the group he's playing with, how good his partner, how bad his opponents, whether it's with men, women or children, competitive or social, his chance of winning: 50%. Every time, all the time. Although he doesn't keep match detailed records on each of his matches like some of our members (you know who you are), his lifetime career winning percentage is 50%. His lifetime first serve percentage is 50%. Likelihood that any given volley will land in or out? 50%. Probability that an overhead will hit the fence? 50%. You get the picture.

A few miscellaneous facts on Hollow Rock's médiocrité extrodinaire: USTA rating 3.5 (the most common rating for men or women), height 5'9" (the average height for American men), weight 178 lbs. (the average weight for American men), education Ph.D. (the average educational attainment for an adult Hollow Rock member), current USTA national ranking (335,112 out of 670,224 USTA members). Other informative statistics: Gaddy has two cats, two above-average natural children, two above-average stepchildren and one wife who is smarter than he is -- as is true for the average married Hollow Rock male.

Next issue (if there is a next issue): A statistical analysis of why our doubles partners are always losing more points, games, sets and matches than we do.

 

Gary D. Gaddy really is a member of the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club, which is conveniently located on the Durham/Orange county line, halfway between Duke and UNC. If you come by on any given day you can easily recognize him: he’s the one in tennis-appropriate attire with a tennis racquet in his dominant right hand.

A prettied-up version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday April 5, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:07 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2007 10:18 AM EDT
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Thursday, March 29, 2007
God drops out of NCAA playoffs

VATICAN CITY and CHAPEL HILL -- God announced today that He will cease immediately taking a position on specific sporting events, including, of most significance locally, the college basketball playoffs. The announcement came directly as a "Word from God" to Pope Benedict XVI, as he mediated before Vespers yesterday evening. Pope Benedict, in his weekly appearance on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, made the proclamation on behalf of God to an obviously disappointed crowd composed of devout pilgrims, ordinary Roman citizens and curious tourists of all faiths from around the world.

"After millennia of considering the prayers of both players and fans, God said that there was simply no way any longer to be impartial, even for Him, God Almighty," said Benedict.

Here's the way He put it: "St. Johns plays Notre Dame, for example, how is anybody, including me, going to do right in that situation?  Priests, nuns, small children, grandmothers are all praying fervently for their team. I try to be fair, I really do, but any way I go there are players with broken hearts, cheerleaders with tears in their eyes and coaches with curses, and rightfully so, on their lips. This just couldn't go on."

Benedict was emphatic, however, that God was not saying that He was stopping listening to prayer in general.

"God made a point He would still answer prayer in other domains. For example, God said, He will continue to answer prayers for the sick, if only intermittently. God pointed out that it is a rare occasion that one petitioner is praying for healing and another, equally devout, is praying for death for the same person. It happens, He said, but only now and then."

Benedict continued, "But, God said, to consider for a moment pre-game locker room prayers for any tournament game, with dozens of guys praying on both sides, many of them sincerely. ‘How in the heck am I supposed to deal with that?’ asked God."

"Back when it was the Christians versus the lions," Benedict said, "God said He felt could adjudicate those contests fairly.  But when it's the Lions versus the Bears, and you've got entire, albeit only nominally Christian, cities praying on each side, that's a whole different matter." 

TIVO, said God, is what finished it for Him. "When people started praying over digitally delayed broadcasts, ‘That’s about enough,' I said."

As late as the 1960's, when Catholic boys were earnestly crossing themselves before shooting free throws, God said, according to Benedict, He thought that was "kind of cute."  But once it became just a ritual, and then when "believers on both teams started asking me to cover the point spread, then I just wanted to quit."

Benedict said he had emailed this "Word" to former University of North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith before revealing it to the College of Cardinals late last night. Smith, said Benedict, was already familiar with the decision.

"God passed it by me," said Smith, "and I reluctantly agreed. He said that the real deciding event was the Georgetown-Carolina NCAA Division I basketball tournament regional final. With all the nuns on one-side and all the Baptist school children on the other, he just couldn't handle it. With about seven minutes left, He said He stopped watching."

Then Smith added, "God made it clear He is still a Tar Heel; He's just stepping back from in-game management of outcomes. One factor that God said weighed heavily on Him were the bedeviled and demonized souls at places like Duke and Wake, who were falling farther and farther away from God as they failed to see any Divine favor coming in their direction -- especially at 'crunch-time' in close games."

According to Smith, people should not get confused about what this means, or make it any bigger than it is. "God said He will not stop blessing the Tar Heels any more than He will be changing the sky color from Carolina Blue. Chapel Hill hasn’t moved anywhere, said God, it’s still the southern part of Heaven," relayed Smith.

Pope Benedict also wanted make sure that the general populace understood that God was making a clear distinction between the efficacy of prayer on games of skill and on games of chance.

"With games of skill you can work, train, study and prepare, so you don't really need me, the way I look at it. On games of chance, well, what else have you got? Winning the Powerball lottery, hitting double zero on a roulette wheel, making a draw to fill an inside straight, without divine intervention, what chance do you have?"

 

Gary D. Gaddy once attended a Sunday school class taught by Dean Smith. At the time he felt very close to God.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on March 29, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:38 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:07 PM EDT
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
We need to treat, not arrest, those with mental illness

BEFORE I really begin, let me make one personal recommendation to you: If you are going to get a disease — choose your organ carefully — because if you have heart failure, you can get a pacemaker; if you have pancreas failure, you can get an insulin pump; if you have kidney failure, you can get put on dialysis — but if you have brain failure, you can get put in jail. And I mean today, in America; right here in good old Chapel Hill.

Only for the diseases of the brain called mental illness are people arrested for their symptoms.

Can you imagine your child suffering from a disease — but it hasn’t killed him yet — then watching him being denied treatment because your insurance (and I quote) "only hospitalizes for matters of life and death"? Then after your child leaves the hospital, still with a deadly disease, you have to watch him get arrested for his symptoms.

I don’t have to imagine, I’ve been there. My child had a brain disorder. And he was insured as a minor, and I had insurance coverage — as a state employee.

With schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or any other mental illness which manifests itself in psychosis, you can be arrested (and people are, every day) for manifesting its symptoms — delusions, hallucinations, paranoia. Isn’t it punishment enough to lose your job, your home and your family, as many do when they are hospitalized? Wouldn't treatment be better for us all?

A bill before the U.S. Congress now, informally called the Mental Health Parity Act, would help do that. It would require mental illness be treated like other diseases by insurance companies — a bill the New York Times said "it looks as if Congress may be ready" to pass. Please note the word "may."

I have often said that I could convince anyone with either a heart or a brain that the government should do its part to insure that people with mental illness get early and effective treatment.

For those with a heart, I call for compassion to help those who cannot, by virtue of their diseases, help themselves. If government is to help anyone, it would be them.

For those with only a brain, I point out how much more expensive it is to support someone for a lifetime, than it is to treat the illness early, and how much more cost effective treatment centers are than jails and prisons, where many of those with severe mental illness are today — simply because they did not get appropriate treatment. And we will all be better off if people disabled by brain disorders have safe and decent places to live rather than being left untreated and homeless with begging and petty theft as their only means of support.

Mental health insurance parity is one step towards getting treatment to those with mental illness.

People with mental illness, just like people with any other illness, need to be treated so that their diseases don’t progress into lifetime disabilities. The health insurance system is one way we should do that. Currently, most health insurance policies do not cover mental illness like they do other illnesses. Because of what amounts to a system-wide insurance embargo on paying for treatment for mental illness, many episodes of mental illness go untreated until the individuals are so ill that they must be hospitalized — usually at great public expense.

Only an estimated 20% of children and adolescents with mental illnesses currently receive treatment. Because of this many lives are unnecessarily destroyed by these diseases.

Fixing this gap in coverage would not be expensive, and in the long run will save our society money as permanent disabilities and revolving door hospitalizations are prevented. The Congressional Budget Office estimates requiring coverage for mental illness will increase the average premium about 1% the cost of the current average benefit.

Beyond the simple issue of fairness to those struck by mental illness, this would be modest investment in the health of people of our society.

Email or call 1-800-614-2803 to send a message to ours senators, Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole, and to our congressman, David Price, to express your views on mental health parity. Let them know you are a voter and leave your name, phone number and address, so there won't be any doubt. Your call or email could make a difference.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is friend and an advocate for those with mental illness who lives in Orange County, NC.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill News on March 28, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:31 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2007 10:19 AM EDT
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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Hooters' Carrboro encounter

CARRBORO, N.C. -- Hooters of America, Inc., the Atlanta-based operator and franchiser of Hooters restaurants, announced today that they will be opening a new franchise in Carrboro early next year.

Executive vice-president for franchise relations, Zach Barnes, said that he thinks this new location will be a breakthrough both for Hooters and Carrboro. "We have been trying to expand our reach to a more sophisticated, creative-class clientele, this location will do that. At the same time, Carrboro will profit from the cultural benefits that Hooters will bring with it to the town."

Barnes said he understands that the ethos of Carrboro is different from that of most of their other locations but says that "Hooters will be a great fit for a great little town." Barnes then added, "After opening stores back-to-back in Aruba and Singapore, I think we can handle Carrboro."

Barnes said he knows that there may be some resistance to a "national" restaurant coming to town, saying that he understands that Carrboro likes to "eat, sleep and drink local" -- but, he said, "the new Hooters location will allow them to do just that."

"Just for beginners, we will hire locals to staff the store. We understand that this will require that we loosen corporate policies on skin graphics as well as navel, nose, lip, tongue and ear piercings, but we can do that. Hey, we have an all-Chinese staff in Beijing, so we're flexible," said Barnes.

Richardson Boreal, Hooters' head of public relations, adds, "All Hooters have always allowed for a variety of hair colors so we'll just have to broaden the acceptable color spectrum a little. And just like at every other Hooters in the U.S., we plan on hiring local Mexicans for the food preparation staff."

Boreal said that he thinks that Carrboro will benefit from having a Hooters within town limits as it will serve to increase the town’s already ample diversity. "We know that Carrboro treasures its culturally diverse population. Hooters will enhance that as it brings across the town limits people who would rarely come here otherwise, such as the indigenous populations of far western and northern portions of Orange County. This is one of the few things that would get them into Carrboro outside of a stock car race around Carr Mill Mall or a Jesse Helms tribute night at the Century Center."

Tytoni Hawks, who will manage the Carrboro location, said she thinks the restaurant will be the first national chain food franchise to accept NC Plenties as legal tender for food purchases and waitstaff gratuities.

Hawks said the company has taken an option-to-purchase on the space currently occupied by Spotted Dog Bar & Restaurant between Main and Weaver streets near the Carrboro Century Center and directly across the street from Weaver Street Market.

According to the Carrboro Citizen, the planned April 1st grand opening, if it occurs at all, will take place amid a rash of protests from those adamantly opposed to Hooters on ecological grounds.

"This is objectification at its most degrading," said evylenE sorotkiN, a performance artist from Carrboro. "These cartoonish portrayals with exaggerated features which Hooters promotes only elevate debasing stereotypes into the status of social reality," said sorotkiN.

sorotkiN's views were endorsed by her colleague Imanda Wright, the James and Myrtle Beech Endowed Chair in Two-Dimensional Art at UNC, who said that while she valued freedom of expression, "Hooters depictions of the owl are outside the pale. Their caricatures are, in my mind, hate speech. Even a Norman Rockwell print of an eagle wouldn't be as bad. The combination of bad art and animal abuse is beyond the bounds of acceptability."

Hooters of America, Inc. is a privately held corporation which operates or franchises over 435 Hooters locations in 46 states, as well as Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Venezuela. The owl-themed restaurant chain currently has no locations in Orange County.

Non-errata: One of my knowledgeable and observant regular readers (that would be Moody Smith) says I could not have beaten Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess as I claimed in one of my many fine biographical blurbs since Wittgenstein died less than three months after I was born. Let me clarify: I did not say I beat the Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess; I said I beat Ludwig Wittgenstein. My Ludwig Wittgenstein was the Ludwig Wittgenstein's eccentric nephew. I beat him using a satisfying sucker sacrifice of my queen in a classic match in Zell am See, Austria, in the fall of 1971. I did not offer a rematch.

 

Gary D. Gaddy once went to a Hooters in Raleigh for a surprise office birthday party for a colleague of his at the female-owned Chapel Hill research company where he worked. He never did get what the big deal was about the place.

A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 22, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:15 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 3:59 PM EST
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Thursday, March 15, 2007
Duke discovers it's in North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University President Richard Broadhead announced today that researchers from the University's geography department had just discovered that the Duke campus was physically located in the state of North Carolina.  University officials, at first, were at a loss to explain why this hadn't been observed sooner. 

"As part of the Ivy League everyone had assumed that Duke was in the Northeast," said Duke geographer Maurice D'Sorentos.

President Broadhead readily admitted that this revelation had come as quite a shock to the Duke community, including himself.  "Do you really think I would have left Yale if I had known Duke was in North Carolina?" asked Broadhead with an obviously rhetorical intonation. 

The news hit the student body hard.  As the word spread around campus numerous drinking binges and bonfires were abandoned as students stopped to consider what this would mean to them and their inheritances.

Sophomore Nancye Botogliosi was startled at the revelation. 

"I'm from New Jersey, of course.  The whole reason I came to Duke was so I could stay close to home.  I'm thinking about transferring to Rutgers.  They are The State University of New Jersey, or at least that's what they say.  I'm going to have someone check it out this time," Botogliosi.

Dean of Students Berting Dinglehump said that he was going to institute a series of seminars, lectures and colloquia to help Duke adjust to the changed “context in which Duke now finds itself.”  As part of the campus-wide program, said Dinglehump, "We hope to bring some 'locals' on to the campus so that our students and faculty can see what they are like."  Dinglehump said the current visiting scholars program could be readily adapted to this "meet and greet" program.  Translation services, said Dinglehump, would be provided by faculty on loan from the English Department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Seminar topics currently planned include, “Brunswick Stew: What Is It?  How Do You Eat It?,” “Southern Linguistics: Why Speaking Loudly To Southerners Won't Make Them Talk Any Faster,” “NASCAR: Why The Shiniest Car Doesn't Always Finish First” and “Southern Sensibilities: Why Southerners Don't Like Loud, Rude And Obnoxious People.”

The seminars will not just be amusing looks at an alien culture but would give practical tips for everyday living, according to Professor of the Anthropology of Primitive Peoples Lance Grabber. "For example, in North Carolina, we have found, it is not useful to honk at drivers who stop at stop signs and stop lights," said Dr. Grabber.  "Stopping is a local custom here.  As annoying as it is, we should try to tolerate it."

Duke is now considering broadening its diversity policy to include a Southerner, said Director of Admissions West Eloté.  "Others don't agree, but I think that it could be an enriching experience for our student body to get to know someone from the South.  It will make them appreciate their own culture and heritage.  But if we do admit a Southerner, we will be very deliberate in our selection, and we will certainly maintain our campus-wide ban on cars with a bluebook value less than our annual tuition and, of course, all pickup trucks."

Campus changes necessitated by the discovery could be quite expensive, according to Duke's Director of Buildings and Grounds, Dennis Dunn.  Hundreds of campus signs reading "Duke: THE University of New Jersey at Durham" will have to be removed or replaced.  Many of the signs campus entrances will need to be changed.  According to Dunn, the "big arrow at the main campus entrance pointing north, labeled 'New York City,' certainly will stay."

Duke Director of Public Relations Albert Ohlmann vehemently denied rumors that Duke had only revealed this now in an attempt to steal some reflected glory from the University of North Carolina's recent national championship in men's basketball.  According to Ohlmann, the Duke community has not even been paying much attention to basketball lately as it is trying to emphasize "more authentic North Carolina traditions, such as those that natives call hollerin' and banjo pickin'."

In other news:  A study released today by the University of Wisconsin-Stout's Department of Sports Psychology shows that the "cheesehead" hats, worn most notably by Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin-Madison fans, are "not primarily, as previously thought, an ensign of team loyalty but rather an affordable form of head insulation."

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who has a brother who intentionally earned a degree from Duke University and a wife, who is actually from North Carolina, who got a law degree there, apparently inadvertently, attended Boston University himself, which is, of course, in Brookline.

A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 15, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:31 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 1:43 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 8, 2007
UNC finds cure for Political Incorrectness

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Political Incorrectness (PnC), a neurological condition often characterized by scholars as narrow-mindedness, can now be effectively and efficiently cured, researchers at the University of North Carolina announced today.  The treatment, called Oxymoron, is of the class of drugs known as n-objecterase inhibitors, which suppress any synaptic activity not originating in the obdula oblongata, the part of the brain in which higher flights of fancy and general broadmindness reside. 

Oxymoron was shown in clinical trials to be the most effective of the n-objecterase inhibitors in restraining substantive thought relating to gender, race, religion, sexuality and ethnicity.  It is also more effective and faster acting than the standard treatment regime of "talk" therapy in eradicating PnC.

 "Talk therapy often took two, three, four years to treat an incoming freshman,"  said Named Chair of Sociology Dr. Links Sprecher.  "And we didn't reach all of them; the Young Republicans were proof enough of that."

"Like any communicable disease, PnC will keep springing back up if it is not eliminated altogether."

Modest doses of Oxymoron produced positive outcomes within one semester.  Chief among them were an end to bothersome classroom debates and to annoying bouts of campus dissent. University faculty were unanimous in the opinion that campus speech was now the freest it has ever been.

"Once we all agree on everything, academic freedom is no longer an issue," said Dean of Very Liberal Arts Norman Thomas.  "I was so tired of 'traditional values' being brought up semester after semester."

Some researchers were initially concerned about possible negative side effects of Oxymoron, but those concerns have been allayed.

"While Oxymoron effectively treats narrow-mindedness, we were relieved to find it has no significant effect on close-mindness," said sociobiologist  Morris Les.

"It is ironic, and I use that word in its technically correct sense, that a cure for PnC would be found on the campus of a liberal arts university, since political incorrectness was already almost eradicated here," said Professor of Post-Modernity Markus Fischbinder. 

Experts estimate that less than five percent of the faculty at major research universities suffer from political incorrectness, as compared to over fifty percent among the general population -- as estimated from recent election results.

During the announcement University officials noted that they have been adding Oxymoron, in addition to sodium flouride, to the campus water system since August.

A spokesperson for campus police and security said not so such much as a pro forma protest demonstration accompanied the Oxymoron public announcement.

 

GSK to end RLS

Research Triangle Park, N.C. -- Restless Lips Syndrome (RLS), which experts say affects one in four Americans, one in two women, and 95% of all Hollywood stars, will shortly be a thing of the past like smallpox, yellow fever and the black death, say researchers at GlaxoSmithKline.

The new pharmaceutical formulation tradenamed LipLox was a byproduct of research into the causes of lockjaw.  That research also generated the frequently prescribed LipLax, which is not only highly effective in treating lockjaw but is proving very successful in diminishing the symptoms of shyness, tongue-tiedness and social inhibition in general.

LipLax has been so effective that across America Toastmasters Clubs have been closing at an unprecedented rate.  Trade analysts also say that fees for public speakers of all kinds have collapsed as the dramatic increase in the number of fluent banquet hosts, inspirational speakers, orators and lecturers has flooded the market.

LipLox, say GlaxoSmithKline executives, is just the product to restore balance to the speakers’ market.  In addition, if marketed as successfully as LipLax, they say that they expect that LipLox will reduce cell phone usage by as much as 45%.

Even as all across America ordinary citizens, many of whom are still haunted by careless words said last night -- or years ago, hailed the breakthrough, the National Association of Gossip Columnists filed papers in federal court to stop the distribution of the drug saying it will "inhibit the free trade of ideas, one of the bedrock principles on which this nation stands."

Bloggers are also rallying to the print columnists’ cause, saying that this is a “slippery slope,” that any inhibition, chemically induced or not, may prevent the next great idea from ever making it to the light of day.

Groggy72, a blogger from Canton, Ohio, asked this question:  “If Thom. Jefferson had taken LipLox, don’t U think maybe we would have gotten ‘Life, Liberty’ but never have gotten to the ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ part?”

The lawsuit is expected to be heard in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit in early September.


Gary D. Gaddy is an admirer of Tom Swift, Jonathan Swift and Swift's Premium® Hams and Bacon, but is not, despite his stellar times in the President's Council on Physical Fitness’s 600 yard run, always all that swift himself. 

A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 8, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:27 PM EST
Updated: Friday, March 9, 2007 9:58 PM EST
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Thursday, March 1, 2007
Expanding on the ACC expansion

 After demonstrating that football is bigger than basketball at UNC (11/27/06), I will now undertake a much easier task: to show, two and a half years into the new and improved Atlantic Coast Conference, the many benefits expansion has brought to us, the sports fans of the Atlantic coast region.

More national publicity.  The gun-related events of Virginia Tech and University of Miami football players alone have brought more press coverage than the stellar academic and athletic performances of all the so-called Olympic sport athletes at all the original ACC schools combined.  Who cares about an academic All-American at UNC setting conference records in the 200 meter fly or a Wake Forest sophomore scoring a hat-trick in field hockey when you can be reading about ex-Hokie QB Marcus Vick allegedly brandishing a handgun in a McDonald's parking lot, or a University of Miami football player allegedly "returning fire" after his teammate is shot in the buttocks?

More parity.  When Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech joined the ACC as national football powers, they sensed immediately the imbalance they could create in the basketball-oriented league, consequently they responded responsibly by becoming mediocre.  Now Wake Forest and Georgia Tech can play for a berth in the Orange Bowl, and with further parity, next year it could be Duke and UNC -- if they hadn't been put in the same division!

More fairness.  With the elimination of the double-round-robin format in basketball, in which every team played each other twice, once on each home court, basketball immediately became fairer, giving lesser teams a chance to compete against the so-called national powers.  A great example is in women's basketball in which Duke, UNC and Maryland all went to the Final Four last year and started this season ranked one, two and three in the national polls.  This hardly seems fair to other teams who would likely lose to each of them and have no chance of finishing better than fourth in the conference -- but not with expansion!  Florida State, which is currently unranked in the national polls, got to play Duke, UNC and Maryland each one time -- and all in Tallahassee.  With a little expansive luck, the Lady Seminoles could have finished first in the ACC.

Bigger arenas.  Although BC, Virginia Tech and Miami don't have large basketball venues themselves (their arenas are actually rather small by ACC standards), because conference championship tickets need to be divided 12 ways instead of nine, the men's basketball conference championship will likely be held only in indoor football stadiums from now on out.  Fans will now have the marvelous opportunity to watch basketball games in football stadiums, something that up until now only Syracuse fans and Final Four attendees had had the pleasure of experiencing.

Less boring repetition.  Schools don't have to play the same teams year after year anymore.  For example, in football Wake Forest and NC State had played each other every year since a pig skin really was the skin of pig raised on the State College campus.  Now they get to skip years which means both teams’ fans also get to rest from the tiresome competitive banter before, during and after these innovative fallow seasons.  Instead they get to meet teams from distant places that they had never played before and begin building new century-long rivalries.

Wider media exposure.  First, the ACC captured media markets of Boston and Miami.  No longer do Bostonians even care about the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins or Patriots, being totally consumed by the big, upcoming Eagles/Yellow Jackets game -- in whatever sport.  Likewise in the Miami metropolitan area, the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins may soon disband as fans and media  alike are completely enthralled with the next contest in the historic (since 2005) Hurricane/Cavalier rivalry.  Also the ACC now has a complete corner on the coveted Blacksburg media market.

Expansion’s success leads me to  recommend to ACC Commissioner John Swofford approaching the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals as the lucky thirteenth member.  Although it would a little unconventional to add an admittedly professional team, not only would the Bengals bring the southcentral Ohio radio and TV markets but their league-leading publicity generating roster of nine players arrested in the last nine months.


DID YOU KNOW? (Random facts that fell out of the fact-checkers file.)  John Swofford, who came to UNC as a quarterback but was moved to defensive back, once listed in the football media guide as his favorite song, according to my wife's memory from 38 years ago, Melanie's "Brand New Key" (also known as "The Roller Skate Song").


Gary D. Gaddy enrolled at Boston University, not Boston College, for the fateful school year of 1969-70, attending exactly one sporting event (not counting anti-war riots and be-ins), a football game in an almost empty stadium -- to watch a Terrier team that went 9-1 for the season.

 A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 1, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 1:08 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2007 1:14 PM EST
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Thursday, February 22, 2007
ACC intellectualizes athletic schedule

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Under continuing criticism that it "overemphasizes athletics," the Atlantic Coast Conference has decided to add chess, bridge, crosswords and sudoku to its roster of public competitions.

ACC commissioner John Swofford explained that the Commissioner's Commission on Athletics and Competitive Academics had recommended the changes after analyzing the current list of athletic events and scientifically determining that they consistently reward physicality over mentality.

"Our analysis was surprisingly clear," said Swofford. "When you boil it down, football is big men carrying a ball; basketball is big men bouncing a ball, baseball is big men hitting a ball. And, although some might disagree, there is really very little deep thought involved in moving a small sphere from one place to another."

Swofford also noted that with the obvious, and apparently one-time, exception of Wake Forest's Muggsy Bogues, there has been up until now no place for the small person in ACC revenue sports, something heights-rights activists have long decried. Feminists are lauding the ACC's decision not to gender segregate these new "intelli-sports."

Outside experts say that while these changes have been brewing for some time, N.C. State's acceptance of head men's basketball coach Herb Sendek's resignation and hiring this spring of Sidney Lowe made it clear to ACC higher ups that the conference was moving in the wrong direction intellectually. (Editor's note: Sendek had a 3.95 GPA from Carnegie-Mellon, while Lowe, at the time, was a high school graduate.)

Adding events which eliminate balls was key to realignment, said Swofford. "Obviously, simply downplaying athletic prowess was not the answer. Up-playing intellectual endeavors is the better approach."

To make room for these intellectual contests on the TV schedule, Swofford says that the conference will be reducing the football schedule to eight from the current 11 games and reducing the basketball schedule from 14 to 10 conference games, making those stadia more available for chess, bridge, crosswords and sudoku competitions.

Massive new stadium videoboards has made the additions feasible. "The potential for chess has long been evident by the small crowds gathering at 'chess-in-the-park' venues, but the number of spectators has been limited to those with an unobstructed view. With 150-foot-wide videoboards, tens of thousands of roaring fans can now actively participate in live matches," said Swofford.

Although a final decision has not been made, insiders say that the stadium chess contests will feature modestly speed-timed games, best two out of three matches (like tennis), with two intermissions (like hockey). While consideration had been given to having traditional marching bands during the interludes, the conference currently is leaning toward a battle of the marching orchestras format.

One of the first signs that this move would be welcomed by students was evident in Duke's Krzyzewskiville, where students camping out for tickets for the UNC game had set up chess boards in the spaces between tents and were playing chess late into the night rather than holding drinking contests.

"We knew something was on when students missed the ticket distribution time because they were all crowded around a board watching Jeffrey Sussmann (the Cameron crazy who is usually the "D" in Duke) and Rajiv Chandrasekaran Gupta (the guy who wears the turban) as they whizzed through classic endgame moves reminiscent of Fisher and Spassky's first match in Iceland in July 1972," said Duke Athletic Director Joe Alleva.

Alleva says he is confident that Duke can get more students into Wallace Wade for a chess match than it does now for football.

Early indications are competitive academics will dramatically shift the dominance hierarchy within the ACC. Because of the glare which comes off beach sand, none of the proposed additions (chess, bridge, crosswords or sudoku) have never been popular at any of the Florida universities. Conversely, the success of Florida schools in football has long been explained as primarily a function of the weather and the attendant great grass-growing conditions there.

Experts say the cold and overcast conditions which keep students indoors all winter in New England will favor Boston College. They also say that the larger crania of their average students may favor Georgia Tech and Duke in the short haul, before other schools begin recruiting geeks and "eggheads" themselves.

Swofford said the suggestion, which was quickly dismissed, made by ACC-newcomer University of Miami to add Jai-Alai and dog racing to the intelli-sports schedule was apparently the result of their misapprehension of the term intellectual. According to the league office, calculating gambling odds is not generally considered a higher mental function. Florida State's request to add "Chutes and Ladders" was also declined.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who attended Glenn Wilkes Basketball School for two weeks, played several years of Little League baseball and one season of JV football in high school, once beat Ludwig Wittgenstein in chess.

Non-errata: One of my knowledgeable and observant regular readers (that would be Moody Smith) says I could not have beaten Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess as I claimed in one of my many fine biographical blurbs since Wittgenstein died less than three months after I was born. Let me clarify: I did not say I beat the Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess; I said I beat Ludwig Wittgenstein. My Ludwig Wittgenstein was the Ludwig Wittgenstein's eccentric nephew. I beat him using a satisfying sucker sacrifice of my queen in a classic match in Zell am See, Austria, in the fall of 1971. I did not offer a rematch.

A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday February 22, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:31 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, June 12, 2011 7:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Leaving our state's education to chance

Most of my columns to this point have been about various aspects of sport. This column is also about one of my very favorite sports: government bashing. Just like when UNC plays Clemson in men's basketball in Chapel Hill, it is so easy that it is not much of a sport, but it sure is fun! Today's topic will be the North Carolina Education Lottery.

What I do love is the way government can outlaw something one minute as an insidious moral evil, and the next moment, legalize, operate and promote it as a great benefit to society -- and by separating the two by a fraction of a second, avoid even the appearance of hypocrisy. I am working on learning how to do the same thing myself. If I succeed, it will be one way the lottery helped in my education.

With a nod to Phil Woodhall, Duke grad, "second-career potter" and all-round funny guy from Southern Pines, I am calling this column "Leaving education to chance: How the lottery has helped educate North Carolina." By including a prominent colon in the title, I aspire to give my article a subtle gloss of academic respectability.

Let me catalog some of the many successes of the lottery in educating North Carolina. Critics can say what they may, but the lottery has done marvels for education in North Carolina by providing innumerable teaching moments to the state's children and adults, both to losers and winners. For one, it's been instructive even to those well-to-do taxpayers who, by not participating in the lottery, are now letting poor people pay for government services for them, providing a concrete illustration of the meaning of the term regressive funding scheme.

The education lottery also teaches about the concepts of unobserved costs, trade-offs and opportunity costs. As the late Milton Friedman and the late Gary Gaddy have tried repeatedly to teach the public: "There is no free lunch." (Friedman is late because he died recently. I am late because of all the time wasted as I stand in line at the Mini-Mart with my "Two Dogs for Two Dollars" rapidly cooling, behind some guy buying eight Pick Threes, two Carolina Cash Fives and three Powerball tickets.)

The lottery has also provided clear examples to those teaching business strategy, especially the concept of expected return. As in, bet a dollar, expect to get 52 cents in return.

The lottery has greatly simplified the teaching of mathematics. It has never been so easy to teach combinatorial statistics as now. The lottery commission practically writes the tests for the instructors. And lottery wagerers are, of course, always calculating the odds that they will win -- the wonderfully favorable odds being what keeps them betting. For example, how can anyone resist the Powerball odds of having a one in 146,107,962 chance of winning the Jackpot? With odds like these your ship is always just about to come in. Bet once a day and expect to win big in the Year of our Lord 202153, just 200 millenia from now.

The lottery has exemplified moral lessons as well, such as the deceitfulness of riches. Many preachers have harangued their flocks about the false allure of wealth, but to no avail. Now, thanks to the lottery, a number of North Carolinians have learned on their own that money doesn't solve your ills. As one study of lottery winners showed, a couple of years after they hit the jackpot even big lottery winners are no happier than they were before -- often because they also no richer.

The lottery has helped citizens learn about rhetoric by giving them the opportunity to compare politicians' promises to what they actually deliver. This may take a little longer than some of the other lessons but it will soon be clear that the politicians have indeed delivered on their promises that more money will be going to education after the lottery than would have had there been none.

The lottery also will help us learn patience as we wait to see that day.

The clearest evidence that the lottery education program is working is not in higher mathematics tests scores by the state's students, but in the recent report that lottery revenues are far below what the lottery commission had projected, indicating that we are already much smarter than they thought we would be.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who once was a Statistician III, according to the state of North Carolina, has calculated the odds that he will lose money on the lottery to be a statistical certainty – even though he has never played -- because of the resources other suckers are wasting by playing it.

A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday February 15, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:38 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 9:07 PM EST
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Thursday, February 8, 2007
Fair or Unfair? A John Edwards Quiz

Many claims have been made concerning Chapel Hill's very own John Edwards, one of the leading prematurely announced candidates for the Democrat nomination for the presidency of the United States in 2008. For example, some have accused him of living in a 29,000 square foot Orange County estate, when it's not even finished -- so how can they know that?

In the name of fairness, these assertions should be addressed rationally, dispassionately and in an unbiased fashion. But we will leave that for another day; for now I'll give you my take. Each of the following things has been said in the media about John Edwards, but are they fair or unfair?

Great trial lawyer -- fair -- but it is unfair to bring it up. The man has moved on in his life and dredging up sludge like this has no place in modern American political life. Those who say that he spent most of what little energy he spent in the U.S. Senate defending personal injury attorneys must understand that they are people too, usually being citizens who vote and, more importantly, donate to political candidates and so have same right as any other American to buy a candidate, not that this would have been necessary in this particular case.

The Breck Girl -- unfair. His hair appears to have much more mousse than any Breck Girl in recent memory. Still, it has been said that "perfection is a direction." Well, if John Edwards' hair is to be entered into evidence, that statement is not true because his hair has definitely arrived. But more to the point for his career trajectory, if Edwards doesn't make it as president, there will always a place for him anchoring "The News at Six."

Robotic speech reader -- unfair. This is based on his 2004 campaign speech. He did not read it; he had it memorized. (Please note the use of the singular here.) This is not, however, that impressive an accomplishment. His campaign workers had it memorized as well, often mouthing his words as he gave "the" speech. But, also, he was not robotic. Based on what I heard, Edwards actually gave one of the more authentic recitations from memory I've personally experienced, in the same league with Karen Shields recitation of the Apostle Paul's Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13) in the sixth grade Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia in 1963.

Former North Carolina state government employee -- fair. The etymology of the word "employee" (from Middle French employer, from Old French empleier, from Latin implicare "enfold, involve, be connected with") indicates this would mean that John Edwards was connected with the government of the state of North Carolina. That he was. He was definitely on the payroll. Evidence that he is a state government worker (oxymoronic as that might sound), however, is very limited, based on news reports showing that he was rarely in the state during this time.

Son of a millworker -- fair. Since Edwards is the only one who brings this up, and boy does he ever, it would be hard to believe it’s not true or to criticize him for it.

Millionaire -- unfair. Yes, he has millions, but compared to a billionaire like John Kerry (spouse of Teresa Heinz), John Edwards is a pauper. Calling him a millionaire makes him sound rich, and he's not, once forced to live off the donations of tens of thousands of political supporters, the earnings from his part of the more than $150 million in jury awards he collected while a practicing tort attorney and a state salary ($40,000 for a part-time job "finding ways to alleviate poverty").

Knowledgeable on foreign affairs -- unfair even to ask. We need to remember that John Edwards was against foreign affairs quizzes before he was for them. Before Edwards "passed" his Hardball quiz this fall, he "passed on taking" the previous Hardball quiz the last time Chris Matthews tried to give him intellectual batting practice.

America's sexiest politician -- fair -- though it depends on which sex you're asking. None, not one, of the guys I hang out with find him the least bit attractive. However, Edwards was named People magazine's sexiest politician in 2000, so someone over there, possibly a female, must have.

Former U.S. senator -- unfair. While he is clearly "former," it is not at all clear he ever was actually a senator. Extensive research into the congressional archives finds few indications that Edwards performed senatorial duties during his nominal six-year term, with the clear exceptions of several key fact-finding trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Gary D. Gaddy married an attorney, "worked" for the state, grew up in a milltown, read several speeches, is a millionaire (in lira), and has a sister who sometimes uses Breck shampoos, but is definitely not the sexiest politician in America.

A slightly neutered version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday February 8, 2007.    Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:28 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, July 12, 2008 1:25 PM EDT
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Thursday, February 1, 2007
My next job? North Carolina State House Historian

Sometimes we just don't know God's plans for our lives but we still feel like we are being prepared for something bigger. I have often wondered during my arduous two-month tenure as the regular Thursday columnist for the Chapel Hill Herald -- a job for which there is little thanks and even less pay, why? Why me, Lord?

But, then, just the other day I opened a local daily newspaper (one printed by a competitor so which shall remain nameless but is published in our state capital and has a name that rhymes with "Noise and Disturber"), and right there before me was an article about a position in state government which appears to be coming open, which my columnist position has perfectly prepared me for: State House Historian.

First, let me give you a little history, very little history, of the State House Historian. Before May 2005 the position did not exist. But after Ann Lassiter came under scrutiny as the House page coordinator (having sent teenage pages to stay with her son, a felon with a history of drug and alcohol abuse), the kind and generous Mr. James B. Black (D-Mecklenburg), then Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, in coordination with former Representative William T. Culpepper (D-Chowan), helped create the much-needed position.

It is a position about which Lassiter is quoted as saying, "If you are offered a job making $50,000 a year that happens to have had limited responsibilities, is it your fault for accepting it?" Then asking, "How many of your readers would have done the same?" I don't know about Paxton Media newspaper readers in general but for mine (both Ben and Hank), the answer is certainly, all.

But Ms. Lassiter wrote 23 pages in 20 months -- I don’t know if I can do that. However, with $80,000 in pay and a padded state retirement at stake, I could try.

As Mark Twain supposedly wrote as a postscript to a long and discursive letter to a friend, "I'm terribly sorry to have written such a long letter. I didn't have time to write a short one." It will be, without a doubt, harder to write drivel concisely than it is just to spew it out. So, it will doubtless be a burden on me to write about half as much as I do now, but with four times the time I think I will be up to the task. But, based on the writing samples left to me by the previous holder of the office, I will have to scale back my vocabulary somewhat.

This is where some of my other previous work experience will serve me well. Over the past couple of years, on occasion, I have served as a substitute teacher at the Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill. My longest stretch being three days with the fifth-grade "Green Class," I believe it was called. The State Historian, based on the exemplary history left for me to follow, should write approximately on a fifth-grade level. (So as not to denigrate the boys and girls of Trinity School, I will say that apparently the state historian’s spelling and grammar does not need to be as good as theirs.)

Further, as her report opens with a lyric from the Who's 35-year-old hit "Won't Get Fooled Again," my extensive knowledge of late 60's and early 70's rock lyrics I am sure will serve me and the people of the state of North Carolina well.

Since the illustrious Jim Black has been relieved of his duties as Speaker, what is not clear to me is whom I need to be cozying up to. Joe Hackney, the new Speaker, may seem like the obvious choice, but I'm not at all certain that he has the vision and creativity to see what a boon a new House Historian could be to this state, or to recognize that even though I have a college degree and even though I wasn't run out of my last state job, I am still preeminently qualified for it.

In any case I will end my report now as Ms. Lassiter began hers, "Power is a wonderful thing when used to make life better for the majority" -- or, at the very least, I might add, for the majority leaders’ cronies.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is an art historian, once having taken one art history course at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, where his Austrian suitemate, Siegfried Horina, had memorized the lyrics of all of Leonard Cohen’s then-extant songs. It was an existentially depressing semester, and very European.

A slightly neutered version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday February 1, 2007.   Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:19 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:49 PM EST
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