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Thursday, March 13, 2008
The etymology of the word fan

I WILL TELL YOU WHY etymologists believe the word fan is derived from the word fanatic.  This will take a moment.

Last Saturday, my men's team, the Gentlemen Tar Heels, won its rivalry game over the Devils of Duke at Duke on Duke's senior's senior night in the hallowed confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium winning an the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title outright.  On Sunday, my women's team, the Lady Tar Heels, swept its rival the Lady Devils of Duke three times this season, including in the hallowed confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, on the Lady Tar Heels' seniors' senior night in a swan song to the Old Carmichael Auditorium winning the Atlantic Coast Conference in an undefeated regular season, and winning the ACC tournament in Greensboro for the fourth consecutive time.

My favorite North Carolina women's player, LaToya Pringle, won this year's Conference Defensive Player of the Year, announced by the league today.  My favorite North Carolina women's sub, Jessica Breland, earned the league's first-ever ACC Sixth Player of the Year honor.  My coach, the University of North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell, ran away with the 2008 ACC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year award – just like her team did with victories over its opponents.

I am, as a fan, of course, outraged at the injustice of it all.

Injustice Number One: Erlana Larkins was not conference player of the year.  She finished second to Crystal Langhorne of Maryland, even though "E" is a better all-around player and has clearly outplayed Langhorne the last five times that UNC played against Maryland. And, oh yeah, Larkins team which she led by effort and example went undefeated in conference and tournament play.

Injustice Number Two: Cetera Degraffenreid was not ACC rookie of the year and did not make first-team all tournament, even though she replaced everybody’s All-American Ivory Latta – and the team didn’t lose a beat, including the Degraffenreid-led run to the tournament title.

Injustice Number Three: Inconceivably, Tyler Hansbrough did not shoot a single free throw in the game against Duke.

Injustice Number Four: Dick Vitale says that Jon Scheyer is his "choice for the best sixth man in college basketball" -- while he was watching Danny "Green Like Money" Green play. Not only is Green the best sixth man in college basketball, he is clairvoyant.  Don't believe me?  Here's what happened from the point in the game at which Mr. Dick Vitale anointed Scheyer the best sixth man in college basketball, until the game’s finish.

At 5:50 Scheyer had the ball, drove to the basket, Danny Green, coming over to help, blocks Scheyer's shot.  Scheyer gets the return, puts it in for the first Duke lead since the first couple of minutes of the game.  At 4:45 Green gets a rebound.  At 4:35 Scheyer gets a rebound. At 3:35 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot.  At 2:15 Green gets a rebound.  At 1:15 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot.  At 0:55 Lawson steals the ball, goes downcourt missing layup, Green follows with a tap-in. At 0:45 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot.  At 0:45 Scheyer shoots, Hansbrough blocks his shot.  At 0:30 Green gets a dunk.  At 0:12 Greens blocks a shot by Paulus. Ball out of bounds to Carolina. Clock at 0:00, UNC wins 76-68, having scored the last 10 points in the game.

During those 5 minutes and 45 seconds, Jon Scheyer got two rebounds and scored two points (on six shots, having five of his shots blocked).  Meanwhile, Green blocked five shots, got three rebounds and scored four points (on two shots).  Who sounds like the better player to you?  Normally, six minutes don’t tell the story of a season – but in this case they do.

The one consolation in it all, which may be sufficient to compensate for all the disgraceful injustices enumerated above, the Speedo guy pays $45,121 a year to attend Duke University – unless, of course, he’s on scholarship.


Gary D. Gaddy played basketball regularly until he was over 50 years old, retiring from the sport like Jim Brown, no joke, at the top of his game.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 13, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:19 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, May 11, 2008 11:06 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 6, 2008
Doherty to be awarded Duke's Spire

DURHAM -- At the halftime of the Duke-Carolina men's basketball game, Duke University will award its highest non-academic honor, the Spire Award, which recognizes those who make the significant contributions "to improving the aesthetics of the Duke Campus," to Matt Doherty, the former men's basketball coach at the University of North Carolina and current head coach at Southern Methodist University.

In his written citation, Duke President Richard Brodhead said that Doherty "had brought a greater awareness of the possibility of the human form in its use as a catalyst to spectatorial participation in athletic competition."

"Doherty," said Brodhead, "even if inadvertently, heightened our sense of beauty, and the possibilities that lay ahead. For this our campus community will be forever grateful."

The genesis of the award to Doherty came during the UNC-Duke game in 2001, at a critical juncture late in the game. Doherty made what he thought was a private comment to his players as they broke a timeout huddle: "Oh, by the way, Duke still has the ugliest cheerleaders in the ACC." The players are said to have laughed -- but the remark somehow made its way into an ESPN magazine article.

Doherty said it was just a joke -- meant to break the tension of the game. In a letter to the Duke cheerleaders two days later, the then-UNC coach wrote, "I apologize for the insensitive reference and hope you do not take it seriously or personally."

Unfortunately, they did. Fortunately, for the Duke community and its sports fans, the Duke University athletic administration did as well.

Led by Dr. Swen Flierigsted of the Duke Medical Center's Department of Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery, a committee was established to investigate Doherty's claim. While the committee could find "no credible evidence" that Duke had ever been determined empirically to have "the ugliest cheerleaders in the ACC," they did find that their squads regularly did finish last in fan polls of the prettiest in the conference.

Following an analysis of aesthetically pleasing body proportions by Flierigsted, based on the Florida State cheerleading squad, Duke then began in earnest recruiting cheerleaders and dance team members who met the raised standards, ones who could in addition to entertaining their own fans, easily distract opposing team players.

But the benefits of the upgrade appear already to have gone beyond that well-established role.

Newly hired Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe credits Doherty, at least in part, for his biggest recruiting coup, signing Sean Renfree of Scottsdale, Ariz. Renfree is rated the 10th-best quarterback prospect in the nation. Said Cutcliff, "When Sean came back from his campus tour, including a men's basketball game in Cameron, don't think he was talking about the beautiful steeple on Duke Chapel, or the game for that matter -- he was all about 'babe-i-lic-ious' cheerleaders."

It is worth noting that this is the first time the Spire Award, named after the spire on Duke's landmark chapel, has been given to someone without a direct campus connection -- alumni, faculty, staff, student or donor.

Duke Chapel, designed by architect Julian Abele, is an example of neo-Gothic architecture in the English style. Gothic architecture is characterized by large stone piers, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses, which allow the creation of vast open spaces, uninterrupted by columns for support.

* * *

Urban renewal to raze Krzyzewskiville

DURHAM -- In news with an ironic twist, just days after being voted the Most Expensive Place to Live in America, according to an analysis by the management consulting firm Runzheimer International, Krzyzewskiville finds itself high on the list of neighborhoods in Durham slated for urban renewal.

The Runzheimer analysis shows Krzyzewskiville, given the levels of amenities (or, more exactly, the lack thereof) and average room size (four-foot wide by eight-foot deep), as more than three times as expensive per day as the luxury resort of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The cost to attend Duke, for an undergraduate, for the 2007-2008 school year, including room, board, tuition and fees, totals $45,121.

Krzyzewskiville now finds itself high on the urban-renewal-candidate list after years of continuing complaints from nearby low-income neighborhoods downwind from its site about the smell emanating from the refugee-like squatters camp and contaminated runoff polluting area water supplies, and because Krzyzewskiville easily met all the criteria for a homeless site as established by the Remove and Relocate Subcommittee of Durham’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.


Gary D. Gaddy once, while on a senior-year sabbatical from Furman University, lived rent-free in a Krzyzewskiville-like pup tent for about a month while tending an organic apple orchard near Woodville, Virginia, not too far from beautiful Skyline Drive.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 6, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:04 AM EST
Updated: Friday, March 7, 2008 7:44 PM EST
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Sunday, March 2, 2008
Coach K wins round number of games

(Special to, a column heretofore unpublished, but now, available to my web-only readers only, at no additional cost.)

DURHAM -- All of sportdom is abuzz as statistical analysts have calculated that Duke University's head men's basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski has won a round number of games.

"It's very impressive feat," said Dr. Lawrence Lugg of Duke's Department of Statistical Science. "Fewer than one in a hundred coaches have won a number of games that ends exactly in double zero," said Lugg.

"While winning a number of games that ends precisely in a single zero is relatively common, almost one in ten coaches has done that -- but double zeroes, that's impressive.  How difficult a record it is is also shown by how hard it is to keep.  Almost always, within a few games, they lose it," said Professor Lugg.

Experts predict that Krzyzewski, if he doesn't let this usually ephemeral record slip away on Tuesday against the University of Virginia, will manage to hold onto it at least until after their regular season home finale against the University of North Carolina this coming Sunday.


Gary D. Gaddy once, in a previous life, was the coordinator of statistical consulting for the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:35 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, March 2, 2008 9:52 AM EST
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Thursday, February 28, 2008
Roy Williams undergoes experimental skin treatment

CHAPEL HILL – UNC coach Roy Williams is recovering well, say doctors at the UNC Hospitals' Center for Skin Disorders, after undergoing an experimental treatments to counteract a chronic skin condition which recently took a turn for the worse.

Dr. Dolph Frejgen, a dermatologist with the Center, said that Williams appeared to be responding well to the treatments which consist of continuously applying a topical ointment to Williams' entire epidermis. With successive treatments, said Frejgen, a protective crust will form over the patient's skin surface. Even without substantive changes to the skin, said Frejgen, the treatment effectively thickens the skin.

Because of the progressive thinning of his skin, a condition known as tergum ieiunium, said Frejgen, it was not advisable to wait until the basketball season ended to begin treatment. Said Frejgen, "If his skin got any thinner, it would be possible that his 'innards,' as Coach Williams would call them, would be have become visible."

Frejgen said that he has accelerated the medication regime in the hope that Williams' course of treatment will be completed by the tipoff of the Duke-Carolina game. "I know I'm not missing it in any case," he added.

As to the origin of the disorder, one noted medical researcher says it is likely genetic but some viral trigger must have set off this most recent episode. A scientist at the Center for Dermatology's research laboratory who works extensively with animal models, Darl Kleinschmidt, said that a careful examination of Williams' skin showed a number of compact lesions that appear curiously similar those commonly experienced by their lab techs.

"We don't know exactly what to make of it, but they look a lot like small animal bites," said Kleinschmidt. "Based on the tooth marks, they seem to be those of a smaller member of the rodentia family. One incident involving rattus polisicus could explain the latest flare up in Williams' condition," he noted. Polisicus, said Kleinschmidt, is noted to carry the R. Knightitus retrovirus, which has given the thin-skin syndrome its common name: B. Knight's Disease.

A slightly agitated Kleinschmidt said the most recent episode could have been avoided altogether if the rats had "stayed in their own [darn] lab."

Friends and fans of the coach are being asked not to contact UNC Hospitals about Coach Williams' condition. The UNC men's basketball office will be releasing regular updates on his injury status as they become available.

* * * *

NCAA to make coach buyouts fairer

INDIANAPOLIS – Following the uproar ensuing after a series of school-imposed sanctions on coaches fired for NCAA-rules violations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is revising their sanction guidelines to make them "fairer to all parties involved."

The latest brouhaha involved the termination of head men's basketball coach at Indiana University Kelvin Sampson for repeated phone calls made recently to recruits outside the times and limits set by the NCAA. For his offenses, Sampson, who was under sanctions for previous violations of a similar nature several years ago at the University of Oklahoma, and for subsequent similar violations at Indiana, received a $750,000 buyout by the university to step down as head coach.

"Where others have made much more serious violations, with some coaches even paying bribes to high school players in an effort to get them to sign with their schools," said the NCAA's Myles Brand, "it seems patently unfair that some of them have received much smaller buyouts, in some cases, no payments at all for their efforts."

"While we must give credit to Coach Sampson for his persistence in continuing to violate the rules, it is hard to believe that others who have expended much more energy, and incurred much greater personal costs, should not receive commensurate rewards from their schools for their efforts," said Brand.

Brand said a committee will be established to create fairness guidelines for such "separation-agreement" payments from schools to coaches they fire to "ensure such egregious injustices do not occur in the future."

* * * *

NCAA bans Indian in all its variations

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA pledged today to take its program to eliminate "hostile, abusive or offensive nicknames, logos and mascots" from NCAA-sanctioned events to its ultimate conclusion.

Following up on its earlier move to force the College of William and Mary to remove two feathers from its school athletic logo, the NCAA has moved to ban all NCAA-related events and meetings from the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and all the campuses of the Indiana University system until each change their respective names to something less offensive to Native Americans.


Gary D. Gaddy, who is, according to some informal genealogical estimates, one-sixteenth Native American, was deeply offended even as a small child when his mom read to him from "The Little Engine that Could."

A version of these articles were published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 28, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:43 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:53 AM EST
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Thursday, February 21, 2008
Chapel Hill's "gift" to Williamsburg

WHEN THE FORMER DEAN of the School of Law at the University of North Carolina was hired as president of the College of William and Mary, I said to my wife (and I think these are my exact words): "I hope the guy doesn't wreck the place." I wish my hope could have been more hopeful -- and my prescience had turned out a little less prescient.

If you haven't been reading the papers closely lately, Gene Nichol has left the presidency of William and Mary, the second oldest college in America -- and left the school in disarray.

Nichol's tenure was marked by repeated controversies which began in earnest when he had a historic cross removed from Wren Chapel. While Nichol said that he intended to make the campus chapel "more welcoming to those of other faiths," the action was taken without consultation from the campus community. Nearly 20,000 alumni and students signed a petition seeking the cross's restoration to the structure, which has been used for religious services since 1732, at an institution that began as a Christian ministry.

Nichol also implemented the "Gateway Initiative" proposed by his predecessor, similar to UNC's Carolina Covenant, to increase socio-economic diversity. But he announced the program without obtaining the endorsement of the W&M's Board of Visitors or gaining sufficient funding to ensure its future.

Some advocates of free speech were disturbed as the Nichol administration instituted an anonymous "Bias Reporting System" in October 2007, harkening to the now generally discredited speech codes of the 1990s, in which vague accusations of speech bias against a laundry list of "conditions" (such as gender, race, sexual orientation and, curiously, pregnancy) could be reported and investigated.

Then came the student-fee funded performance of the Sex Workers' Art Show, which stopped by Duke recently to much less fanfare. Nichol declined to ban it because he didn't want to infringe on free speech. But the juxtaposition of an inert cross being offensive enough to be put away from sight while the public demonstration of the use of sex toys was not, seemed a little much for the non-nuanced.

The College of William and Mary's Board of Visitors, in not renewing Gene Nichol's contract, effectively fired him at the end of his first term. The Flat Hat, W&M's student newspaper, which just four months earlier called for his contract renewal, said the day after Nichol's contract wasn't renewed that the BOV has "done the right thing."

The BOV decision wasn't primarily about politics; it was about politicization -- for which Gene Nichol was primarily responsible.

During his tenure one donor revoked his $10 million to $12 million pledge, and numerous other alumni threatened to withdraw their support as well if Nichol was not removed. Meanwhile, other alumni and some current students are now threatening to withhold their financial support because he was removed. All this in the context of one the greatest challenges to the university being an endowment that was not up to par with its peer institutions.

If you think that what the Board of Visitors did in not renewing Gene Nichol's contract was the wrong thing, just look at what he did when his contract was not renewed: abruptly resigned rather than finishing his term. Adding to that, upon resigning he immediately sent out a defensive, accusatory and combative letter to the college's entire email list (faculty, staff, students and alumni) before the BOV could even respond to his resignation -- even though the head of BOV asked to him to give a chance to do so.

A patently self-serving move, this email guaranteed the divisions he helped create would be magnified. And, to add insult to injury, he will stay at the university -- talk about promoting the festering of a wound -- moving over to join his wife, Glenn George, on the law school faculty.

Undeniably, the W&M BOV made a mistake in regard to Gene Nichol, but it wasn't in unanimously voting to fire him. It was in unanimously voting to hire him in the first place. From his resume they should have seen that he is sincere and dedicated man better suited to be the head of the ACLU (a state chapter of which he once led) or a candidate for partisan political office (such as the senate seat for which he once ran.)

The College of William and Mary, which has survived the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and Great Depression, will also survive this debacle, and I hope somehow for the better.

And a final word, to the UNC Chancellor Search Committee: Please don't recommend Gene Nichol for the job if he applies. It was hard to write this column and I really don't want to do it again.


Gary D. Gaddy, a native Virginian, has great fondness for fine, old things, like the College of William and Mary.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 21, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:58 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:13 AM EST
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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Predatory education bill passes North Carolina House

RALEIGH -- A bill designed to end "predatory education" has passed the North Carolina House of Representatives. The proposed statute (HB 937) would ban predatory college tuition rates and limits storage fees for undergraduate students who stay in college longer than the now-standard five years.

A companion Senate bill (SB 1032) seemed set to sail through to the governor's desk when a committee hearing raised new issues that shifted thinking on the proposed law.

Testifying before the Select Committee on Higher Education Finance, former UNC System president C.D. "Dick" Spangler said, "Studies have shown clearly that the more we pay professors, the better they teach. It's just like the way it works for what we pay coaches. As Roy Williams might say, 'You ain't getting ol' Roy unless you pay for that dadgum sucker.'"

While most of the senators present did not seem to buy into Spangler's data or logic -- few seemed to believe that faculty taught better when paid more -- Spangler's sports analogy did raise the question of how the proposed law might impact coaching salaries.

Called to speak to the issue, UNC athletic director Dick Baddour testified that without high tuition rates it would be "simply impossible" to pay revenue-sport coaches "the salaries they deserve." Baddour added, "To use one example, do any of you think that the University of Alabama could have lured Nick Saban from the Miami Dolphins without a massive infusion of alumni funds? Without sufficient tuition rates, some alumni resources would be diverted to supporting educational purposes, and thus would be unavailable for market-rate coaching salaries."

Baddour's stunning revelations seemed set to kill the Senate bill in committee as members considered the impact on their respective alma maters.

But the bill's flagging momentum reversed again when University of North Carolina officials suddenly announced their "whole-hearted support" for the bill as written. Inside sources say the turn of heart came after UNC administrators realized that while the proposed tuition-limiting law would crimp finances at UNC, it would put Duke University out of business in a matter of weeks.

Legislative analysts say the bill would rollback tuition rates by as much as 55% and would limit future rates of increase to the rate of inflation as measured by a specially calculated index which weights more heavily than the standard CPI the costs of textbooks, beer, pizza and cell-phone airtime charges.


Bailout coming for ailing college football industry

WASHINGTON -- In the midst of the looming national crisis in the college football industry, Congress has voted a $22 billion bailout to rescue the many potential victims from its imminent collapse.

The bill passed easily after riveting testimony by National Collegiate Athletic Association president Myles Brand.

"The current system is broken," said Brand.bluntly, as he fired off a series of points to back his claim:

* Many bowl-bound teams lose money -- even if they win the game.

* Many loyal fans of "name-brand" football schools feel like losers -- even when their teams win most of their games.

* While many coaches at high-profile schools are making multi-million dollar salaries -- they don't have time to spend the money.

* Coaches at lower-profile schools aren't making multi-million dollar salaries -- and pro-rated across the number of hours they work don't even make the federal minimum wage.

* While many universities have done their share by compromising their academic and behavioral standards to admit gifted non-student-athletes -- all they have gotten in return is lowered graduation rates and bad press stemming from notable arrests.

Brand admitted that while the money wouldn’t fix the problem, it would make everyone involved in college football from fans to college presidents feel better.

For its part, the NCAA is proposing to give every college football team a 2-0 win-loss record to start the season. "It'll take getting used to. But, think about it, we begin every game by having teams kick off from the 35 yard mark, not the goal line," said Brand.

Brand noted that these "gifts" will not be first for colleges and universities.

"You may or may not be aware but we have always given students 200 points on their SATs, as they say, just for signing their names. Same concept. It has worked wonders on the academic side. How many football players do you think would be eligible for admission without those extra SAT points? Not many, I'd venture," said Brand.


Gary D. Gaddy, who came with his wife and two preschool children to attend graduate school in Chapel Hill in 1980 penniless, used a variety of scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and a mobile home purchase to leave UNC with a Ph.D. and a check for $4500 in his pocket.

A version of these articles were published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 14, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:07 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2008 8:17 AM EST
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Thursday, February 7, 2008
UNC women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell fired

CHAPEL HILL -- Sylvia Hatchell has been summarily dismissed from her position as the University of North Carolina's head women's basketball coach, the University announced today.

"It is with some regret that we announce the immediate termination of Sylvia Hatchell as head coach at the University of North Carolina," said UNC athletic director Dick Baddour. "While Coach Hatchell has had great success on the court representing our university, her off-court behavior has crossed a boundary which this institution will not tolerate. The young ladies of the Tar Heel squad need better leadership than ex-coach Hatchell seemed prepared to give them."

"If the events following Monday night's game versus Duke had been the result of spontaneous exuberance," said Baddour, "Chancellor Moeser and I agreed, then a season-ending suspension might have been in order. But it is clear that Hatchell's actions were premeditated, otherwise why would she have had the tools of this vandalous act on the bus -- and why was it in front of Sutton's instead of front of Carmichael Auditorium where it should have been?"

Because Hatchell's dismissal was the result of a violation her contract's "moral turpitude clause," one employment expert says, she is unlikely to receive any severance package.

In a related event, the Town of Chapel Hill announced that it will be awarding its highest honor for public service to the Chapel Hill Police Officer Walters for his work in apprehending Hatchell for public littering as she led the Lady Tar Heel team in what Walters' police report called "toilet papering" a small tree in front of Sutton's Drug Store on the 100 block of East Franklin Street.

Mayor Kevin Foy is also asking that anyone who witnessed Monday night's events to please contact the mayor's office, as it works to identify the public-minded individual who, after attempting a "citizen's arrest," alerted the police to the crime in progress. The town hopes to recognize him or her for "meritorious service to our community."

College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Hatchell coached for 32 seasons and stood on the verge of 500 with UNC, sitting at 499 following Monday's victory over 11th ranked Duke at Cameroon Indoor Stadium on Monday night. Hatchell was the only coach to have won national championships at three different levels in college basketball, at Division I with UNC in 1994 and at the AIAW and NAIA levels at Francis Marion.

At termination Hatchell was the third-winningest active coach in the nation. She had twice been named national coach of the year and had led teams to at least 20 wins 25 times, fifth-most nationally, with a career record of 771-274.

Following the example set by Texas Tech University after this week's sudden resignation of its head basketball coach, Bobby Knight, UNC is said to be set to name Sylvia Hatchell's son, Van, to replace her. Van, a freshman at UNC, is currently a walk-on reserve on the men's JV team.


Emperor Clothing opens Chapel Hill location

CHAPEL HILL -- International clothier Emperor Clothing will open its newest American store in Chapel Hill later this year, according to company officials.

"With the re-positioning of Julian's on Franklin Street, there was hole left in the market, and Emperor Clothing fits the bill perfectly," said Gina Monetti of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

"Emperor sells clothes for the twenty-first century academic," said Andre Piccou, the regional marketing manager for Emperor Clothing. "You won't find stodgy gray tweed coats with leather elbow patches in our boutiques, we're way beyond that," he said.

"Our fashions don't draw attention to themselves," said Piccou. "They draw attention to the wearer. They are not superficial statements about who one aspires to be. They reveal who you really are," he added.

With U.S. operations based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Emperor Clothing currently has outlets in Ann Arbor, Madison, Austin, New Haven, Princeton, Berkeley and Palo Alto, as well as its original stores in Oxford and Cambridge, England.

Emperor Clothing has been a darling of the stock market of late because of its attractive business model which includes low cost of inventory, transparency in its financial operations and its targeting of the burgeoning academic class.

The chief economic development officer for Chapel Hill, David Swindell, said that this retail coup will continue the town’s recent run of business development success, noting that Chapel Hill was recently voted one of the top four "business friendly" locations in Orange County, finishing behind Hillsborough, Carrboro and unincorporated Orange County.

Gary D. Gaddy is undefeated in his coaching career, going one and zero, with a victory over the Wahoos of the University of Virginia, as a temporary, part-time, honorary assistant coach for the Lady Tar Heel team.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 7, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:26 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2008 9:12 AM EST
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Thursday, January 31, 2008
Brady benched; Bundchen in Super Bowl

AS OVER ONE BILLION EXPECTED VIEWERS await the coin toss, inside sources with the New England Patriots reported today that reigning league MVP quarterback Tom Brady will not play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but his girlfriend, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, will start in his place.

With the decision being announced on the eve of one the most anticipated Super Bowl games ever, as the New England Patriots seek to defeat the New York Giants and become the best team in the history of the National Football League with a record of 19-0, the sports world is abuzz.

This revelation has clarified to many National Football League observers and analysts the mystifying events occurring since the NFC championship game: why Brady was wearing a protective boot on his foot although no one saw him get injured; why he missed important practice sessions leading up to what may be the most consequential game in American football history, and why he was spending so much of this crucial preparation time off the field with Bündchen.

The decision, said a source within the Patriot's organization who asked to remain anonymous, was rooted in New England coach Bill Belichick's desire to prove that the Patriots' unprecedented success was due to his coaching rather than Brady's play. Like National Basketball Association head coach Phil Jackson, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships with Michael Jordan, but could not get any credit until he won one with the Los Angeles Lakers without Jordan, Belichick has been living in Brady's shadow.

With this move, Belichick hopes to remove the constant tagline to every recital of his successes; "Yeah, but with Brady at QB, who couldn't?" With Bündchen at quarterback, Belichick hopes to show who could.

Ron Jaworski, former American football quarterback and current NFL analyst for the all-sports ESPN cable television network, explained why Belichick could not do like Jackson, simply go to another team, say the Miami Dolphins, and win there to prove "it was him" not Brady.

"It's as simple as a play action where you fake a fade pattern before coming back to catch a curl when the coverage is lined up in a two-deep. Belichick is persona non grata with every team in the NFL since the 'Spygate' scandal earlier this season in which a New England assistant coach was caught illegally filming the defensive signals of the New York Jets during a game. He has to do it with the Patriots."

The decision to switch quarterbacks also explains the excessive time that Brady has been spending with Bündchen: "team player" Brady was coaching her in a quick course on the Patriot playbook, say analysts.

Only after the announcement did observers realized that they had never actually seen backup quarterback Matt Cassel during the practices they were briefly allowed to attend. All they saw was someone wearing jersey number 16 – and a visored helmet.

Initially some football analysts, while not doubting his ego, had questioned Belichick's sanity in shifting to the untested Bündchen. "No dadgum way that anyone, even Billy Belichick, would risk this game on such a gamble," said football analyst John Madden. "I don’t know if even (Randy) Moss can catch a limp-wristed throw from a girl," he added.

But others say that they can see the logic. "No one who has ever seen the Brazilian Women's World Cup soccer team would ever question the athletic ability of Brazilian babes," said USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan.

"And how can anyone say Belichick wouldn't do something that crazy, when, with clearly the best team in football, he was stealing signals in broad daylight?" added Brennan. "Audacity is Hoody’s middle name."

"Further," said Brennan, "if you think that pretty boy Brady got protection from the Patriots' o-line, wait until you see what they give to Gisele. The Giants d-line will be lucky to ever see her, much less touch her.

"Don't think it's coincidence that Gisele sounds like gazelle. Being chased by boys is something she is very used to. Wait until you see her run a QB option. Mike Vick chased by a pack of pit bulls couldn't run that fast," said Brennan.

Salary cap issues have been raised in regard to the signing of Bündchen, but pay is likely not to be an issue. Patriots' owner Robert Kraft has been notably willing to "pay what it takes to win," and Bündchen doesn't really need the money, since, according to Forbes, she is currently the sixteenth richest woman in the entertainment world.


Gary D. Gaddy once dated the future home-coming queen while a deep reserve on the JV football team at George Wasington High School in Danville, Virginia.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 31, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:11 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:16 AM EST
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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Courting racial equality in the ACC

THIS WEEK WE CELEBRATED the birth of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a day which has been set aside to consider his work, his legacy and his unfinished mission. And while we continue to work toward his goal of a color-blind society, it is worthwhile to consider the progress we have made. Without denying the distance left to go, now is a good time to celebrate how far we have come -- in part because of the work of this visionary man as well as others.

While we have made great progress towards a color-blind society in many arenas, I'm not sure that we have made more progress anywhere than in sports. I say this in part because of the way sports work in our sports-obsessed society -- which is not always good, but sometimes is.

Our sports obsession is one reason Dean Smith, as a coach, may have done more to eradicate racism in North Carolina than any of the many well-intentioned individuals who talked the talk of racial harmony but didn't walk it the way he did. He did it the day he convinced Charlie Scott to come to Chapel Hill on a basketball scholarship. That day the racial culture of this state changed.

My personal experience underpins that observation. When I started high school in Danville, Virginia, in 1965, the school system was segregated. During my time there they began to be integrated using "freedom of choice," which meant, in practical terms, some black students chose to come to the formerly all-white schools.

In my senior year, my recollection is that there were about 50 black students in a student body of 2400. Most came on principle. Some came for academics, being college bound. A few came for athletics, thinking that they might make a sports team at the white school that they couldn't make at the black one -- and often they were correct.

I played basketball, but not well enough to make the school team. I used to play regularly in pickup games on weekends and on weekdays during the summer on city playgrounds, traveling about with my best friend Maynard Reynolds. Maynard was good; he started as the varsity point guard as a sophomore. He once scored 56 points (as I remember it) in a freshman game at Hargrave Military Academy.

It is easy to see why they often fought over whose team got Maynard as we divided to play. I got to play because I was with him. Every time we played we were the only white players on the court. We were all just players, teammates and opponents, no distinctions, except maybe shirts and skins, the color of which was irrelevant.

Likewise, when black players joined the George Washington football team, if they could play they were welcomed as teammates. If they couldn't, they were ignored, sort of like I was -- not objects of animosity, just irrelevant.

But what about the fans? In case you haven’t noticed, they like to win too. If you were a running back and could run over an E.C. Glass linebacker, the fans loved you. The only color anybody cared about was the color of your jersey.

So, let's look at the roster of ACC men's basketball coaches today.

Of the current men's basketball head coaches of the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference schools, seven are African-American: Frank Haith at Miami, Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech, Dave Leitao at Virginia, Sidney Lowe at NC State, Oliver Purnell at Clemson and Al Skinner at Boston College.

It is in light of this reality that Raleigh News and Observer columnist Barry Saunders decried Duke University's decision as doing "the white thing" when it hired as its head football coach David Cutcliffe, a white man. If Saunders doesn't think that Duke's administrators would have hired a black man to be their coach if they thought he would be the best they could get, he's a bigger knucklehead than some of his columns imply. Duke was desperate. They would have brought back former placekicker Heather Sue Mercer as their head coach -- if they thought she could build a winning program.

And that’s football. If there is anywhere in this athletic conference where quotas, tokenism or unjustified affirmative action (meaning hiring less than the best) would not be tolerated, it is in men's basketball. Here we all, black and white, join Vince Lombardi in saying: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" -- with one condition, on which Lombardi would agree, as long as it's done right.

All these basketball coaches were hired because the schools thought they would win and win right. So far, they look pretty smart -- schools and coaches alike.


Gary D. Gaddy admits, based on some of his own columns, he is probably is a bigger knucklehead than Barry Saunders.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 24, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:20 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2008 11:24 PM EST
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Thursday, January 17, 2008
Local writer's wife goes missing

CHAPEL HILL -- The wife of the Chapel Hill Herald's leading Thursday columnist has gone missing, according to a spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department's Investigative Unit.  Foul play is not suspected.

Sandra Grey Herring, 56, was last seen at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport early on Sunday morning.

Ms. Herring, who also sometimes goes by the name Sandy Gaddy, had been acting strangely for some time preceding her disappearance, according to friends and associates.

This is the second time in 20 months that an Orange County attorney has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.  The first case, involving Chapel Hill attorney John McCormick, appears to have been the typical instance of substantial quantities of missing money, followed by a disappearing suspect.

Police officials say that in the Herring case there have been a series of credit card purchases, particularly notable were acquisitions over the past 18 months of banjos and banjo-related items, including strings, picks, cases, straps, numerous instructional CDs and DVDs as well as earrings and other banjo-themed clothing and paraphernalia.

These purchases, however, do not appear to have been made from Ms. Herring's clients’ trust funds.  In fact, curiously, most of the dozens of purchases were made by her husband with credit cards held in his name.

Jim Huegerich, Crisis Intervention Unit Officer for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said that he has never seen a case exactly like this before, even though the general pattern was familiar.

"A disappearance preceded by a substantial increase in online activity such as contacts made through Meetup groups, Internet listservs, and Chat Rooms are typical of the syndrome I have seen many times before -- but never for someone fitting Ms. Herring's demographic profile. Usually it's 13-year-old girls or single males in their late 30's or early 40's -- never a woman of her age," said Huegerich.

Police have interviewed several persons who were thought to have knowledge of Ms. Herring’s recent activities, including Jesse E. Miller, the founder of the local chain of Music Loft stores. Under advisement from his attorney, Miller refused to provide any statement to investigators. All of the men congregated at Reno Sharpe's Store near Goldston refused comment as well.

Peter Wernick, a.k.a. Dr. Banjo, who has not been charged in any crime at this time, is, according to Chapel Hill police, "an individual of interest," saying they did not think that it was a coincidence that Wernick, according to the website, will be holding a "Banjo Camp" this week in Boulder, Colorado.

One theory is that Ms. Herring's disappearance is related to her preparation for a combined banjo and accordion festival to be hosted by a local accordion society. Sources close to the investigation say that they believe that it is highly unlikely that there is such an event in planning, and that this was just cover story or perhaps a delusion of Ms. Herring's related to her "future in bluegrass."

Elli Clausson of the victim's rights group "We're People Too" said that people who think of spouses "developing new interests" as "victimless endeavors" haven't seen "the devastation on those left behind."

A family spokesman said that Mr. Gaddy was currently being treated for "separation anxiety" in the Relationship Addictions Unit at UNC Hospitals.


Gary D. Gaddy, seriously, is pining away for his banjo-pickin' girl.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 17, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 3:35 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, January 19, 2008 6:26 PM EST
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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Columns when I don't have an idea

ONE QUESTION MANY OF MY LOYAL READERS (as well as some of my sometime skimmers) regularly ask me is this: "What do you do when you don't have any column ideas?" One plan I have pondered, but never tried, is to have the Chapel Hill Herald print a large blank space.

This would be philosophical statement akin to the musical statement made by composer John Cage in his seminal work 4'33" which challenged his listeners with four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence. (A work, I might add, that I consider to be among his most aesthetically pleasing.)

"Drawing a Blank," as I considered titling this work, would extend the later, derivative musical statement made by Yoko Ono in her piece Two Minutes Silence which challenged her listeners with two minutes of silence and which moved the form forward by spelling out "Two Minutes" as well as enunciating "Silence." This opus, the critics and I agree, is unquestionably Ono's greatest direct contribution to the musical arts.

If I thought that my sophisticated readers would fathom the depth of such an open form, I would consider it further, but I fear that you would not.

Another reason that I have not published a blank column is that it might evoke memories of when the "journalists" of the Duke Chronicle published a faux newspaper just before the Duke/Carolina basketball game in 1991 with a large empty box on the front page with this caption: "This useless white space was placed here to remind you of Eric Montross." This was so crass, so cruel, so insensitive -- so Duke -- that I would not want it to ever be brought up again. Besides, some people might find it funny still.

(Disclaimer: I once met Eric Montross, looked up at his face and shook his hand -- and I really love the guy. I am not endorsing the devilish sentiment stated above. The only thing bigger than Eric's body is his heart. [Please resist the temptation to dissect this statement logically. It's metaphorical.] I, like every other tried and true Tar Heel blue fan, loved Eric as a basketball player -- when he bled.)

Besides blank columns to deal with column blanking, I have also thought of republishing "Classic Columns." However, after little more than one year of being "The Chapel Hill Herald's Leading Regular Thursday Columnist," that seems a little premature.

(It took the Coca-Cola Bottling Company more than one hundred years, and the introduction of New Coke, before they produced Coke Classic, so I'm going to wait a couple of months on this idea.)

I also have considered just making stuff up -- which seems to have worked quite well for James Frey (of the "A Million Little Pieces" and Oprah Book Club controversy). Frey, after gaining fame for faking his biography, has moved on to what seems to be a more natural genre, fiction.

The reason that just making stuff up when I can’t think of anything to write wouldn’t work for me is that just making stuff up is what I usually do anyway. And for my biographically oriented material, "just making stuff up" seems pointless since my actual life has been goofier than anything my limited imagination is capable of producing. A fuzzy memory seems to be all I really need.

I could also take questions from my readers but that really seems like cheating so I wouldn't do that.

So, where does that leave me? With rhetorical questions, pointless musings and non-sequitorial asides (frequently in parentheses [sometimes with brackets within parentheses]), which ruminations convey to my readers the sometimes convoluted, often circuitous nature of my mental life.

And what if instead of having no idea at all I just run short of words? I guess could try just leaving a paragraph empty with this notation:



[This paragraph left intentionally blank.]


Gary D. Gaddy, who studied the music of John Cage very briefly, as an unreformed Beatlemaniac detests the most truly significant work of Yoko Ono -- breaking up the Beatles.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 10, 2008.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:48 AM EST
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Thursday, January 3, 2008
America's best anti-poverty program

HEAD UP TOWARDS HILLSBOROUGH (just about up to I-85), or over towards Durham (just across I-40), and you will find something quite interesting. It is a privately owned, nationally operated anti-poverty program. It's called Wal-Mart.

During the last two Christmas seasons I did some extensive research into the consumer base of Wal-Mart. As a member of the Durham Civitan Club, I stood for two hours ringing the bell in front of a red Salvation Army kettle at the main entrance to the Wal-Mart at New Hope Commons.

Based on superficial observation (which is where I get a great portion of my most valid and reliable data), the majority of Wal-Mart's clientele are not rich. Based on the people going in, Durham Wal-Mart shoppers are like a fancy mocha drink from Starbucks: a rich swirl of browns and blacks mixed with fluffs of white.

Based on the shopping carts coming out, the poorer you look, the more you buy.

This parade confused me. I could understand why the few seemingly well-to-do were coming to shop there: to exploit the oppressed Wal-Mart employees here and the sweatshop workers overseas by buying under-priced goods. What I couldn't understand is why the poor people were coming to shop there, or for that matter why the employees that I have seen working there for years continue to do so. Haven't they gotten the memo about how evil Wal-Mart is? Apparently not.

Well, we can certainly understand that. Most of these people are poor, ignorant and uneducated. They wouldn't know a low price when they see one, would they? And of course they wouldn't recognize a bad job if it was offered to them. That may be why they apply for these jobs, take them and keep them. That may explain why when one Wal-Mart opened in 2004 in Arizona, 8,000 people applied for 525 jobs. Such stories abound.

Besides ignorant poor people, who else thinks Wal-Mart is good for the poor? Economists. Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag did a study showing that consumers benefit from having a Wal-Mart in their area, as its competitive pressure makes food and consumer goods as a whole cheaper, with low income households benefiting the most.

Also, Jason Furman, an economist who advised the Kerry/Edwards campaign, estimates that Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone saves American shoppers at least $50 billion a year, and possibly five times that much across all retail goods it sells. Using federal anti-poverty programs as a point of reference, in 2005, food stamps were worth $33 billion, and the earned-income tax credit was worth $40 billion.

While making a multi-billion dollar profit, earned solely from freely offered consumer dollars, Wal-Mart may do more for the poor than the federal government does using tax dollars it extracts from us. It's a pretty nifty trick what private enterprise, entrepreneurial initiative and accumulated capital can do. You can call it the greedy search for filthy lucre; I call it the miracle of the free market.

But what about the poor exploited workers in China? I've been to places, such as Cameroon in West Africa, where the workers weren't being exploited by companies supplying goods to Wal-Mart -- they just wish they were.

Even the liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman says that "bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all" -- which is the real "choice" for most "sweatshop" laborers in the Third World. Many of these Third World peons would no doubt be Ivy League economics professors or New York Times columnists if they could, but those options just don't seem to be open to them, so they work in crummy factories at poor wages -- just like many Americans did 50 to 100 years ago, as they built the American dream.

Is everything Wal-Mart does wonderful? Hardly. They look out for themselves not everyone else. Is outsourcing good for everybody? Nope, at least not in the short run. But globalization wasn't started by Wal-Mart (actually I think it was Marco Polo) and it can no more be stopped than the incoming ocean tide. And it is unequivocally good for the world as a whole in the long run.

So, Chapel Hillians, and Carrborundians as well, you are now free to shop at Wal-Mart -- and you don't have to feel bad about it. You can even feel good about helping poor people because, well, you will be.

If you just can't bring yourself to feel like that, despite all logic and evidence, then one day succumb to the temptation to selfishly hang on to some of your money by shopping at Wal-Mart -- if it's Christmas time -- you can just drop some of the bucks you save in the Salvation Army kettle. We'll both feel better.


Gary D. Gaddy, a regular Wal-Mart shopper, uses investments in big box retailers to support his writing habit.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 3, 2008.

Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:00 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:15 AM EST
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Thursday, December 27, 2007
Dean Dome collapses from "jersey fatigue"

CHAPEL HILL -- The roof of the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center collapsed last night causing major damage to the facility where the University of North Carolina plays its men's home basketball games. No casualties were reported.

A team of consulting structural engineers from NC State University, who examined the collapsed structure, believe that the event was the result of what they termed "jersey fatigue."

Dr. Rajiv Shakendra said "the final straw was the addition of the large replica of the jersey worn by Robert Bower 'Buzz' Peterson to the rafters."  [Editor's note: Peterson's jersey was being hung to honor him as the North Carolina high school basketball player of the year in 1981, a notable achievement given his future college roommate, Michael Jordan, graduated from high school in North Carolina in the same year.]

There were, by one count, at least 135 jerseys and banners hanging from the rafters of the Dean Dome, Mike Knobler of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last spring. But even he had not seen this coming. "I recognized the quantity but had never fully realized the weight of these jerseys. Of course, everyone knew that it was burden to carry the name 'Jordan' or 'Rosenbluth' on your back but until this event no one had even thought to actually measure it," said Knobler.

"After we started looking more closely we realized that the weights were far more significant than we had ever thought," said UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour. "Consider for moment Hubert Davis. His senior year he had to carry the entire Tar Heel team, not to mention the Davis family moniker, on his back. When you're hauling Uncle Walter's good name and reputation with you at all times, the 2653 pounds of the rest of the squad doesn't mean squat. And, if you're ready for this, Davis' jersey isn't retired -- or even honored."

How the UNC men's basketball team will cope, right at the beginning of the Atlantic Coast Conference season, without it's regular home court is unclear at this point, although several alternative venues have been eliminated already.

Negotiations with Duke University to use Cameroon Indoor Stadium fell apart after UNC officials discovered that the building has neither heat nor air conditioning and that male Ram's Club members would have to urinate in sink-like structures in its antiquated bathrooms.

Negotiations with NC State and the Carolina Hurricanes to use the RBC Center came to a halt after State offered to let UNC use it, but said, "due to logistical considerations" that the Tar Heels would have to play on the ice of the hockey rink. The UNC players were reported to have been excited about "more sliding and less running," but Roy Williams nixed the idea. Said Williams, "It's the galldurnest notion I ever heard. Only place I want ice at a basketball game in my dang Coca Cola."

Clemson University had offered use of Littlejohn Coliseum free of charge, but quickly retracted when informed by the ACC that a victory over the Tar Heels in Littlejohn would not constitute breaking the Tar Heels' 78-year-long home-winning streak against the Tigers. UNC's 52 consecutive home wins over Clemson ties the NCAA record for the longest home winning streak over one opponent. Clemson has never won a men's basketball game in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina also briefly considered refurbishing Woollen Gym, where the 1957 team played during its national championship season. But, with a seating capacity of 4500, according UNC economist Elbert Stoops, demand for seats would push the market price for one ticket to single game to $185,000. And, according to Prof. Stoops, "the scalpers' prices for the Duke game would be more, way more."

Currently, the men's basketball program is talking with the women's basketball program about using Carmichael Auditorium for practice and home games. The primary snag at this point is women's coach Sylvia Hatchell's concerns that having her team exposed to the "languid pace of the men's team's play" would be counterproductive for her squad as it might "slow 'em down."


Gary D. Gaddy used play basketball in Woollen Gym two or three times a week -- before he started thinking more about his knees and ankles than he did about guarding his man.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 27, 2007. 

Copyright   2007  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:32 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:24 AM EST
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Thursday, December 20, 2007
Claus arrested in "Baby Jesus plot"

CHAPEL HILL -- On Wednesday, following the culmination of a months-long racketeering investigation, agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation arrested Santa "Knicky" Claus on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

In the middle of the Christmas shopping rush, Claus was led away in handcuffs from the center of University Mall, where just moments earlier he had been taking Christmas gift requests from a long line of small children. SBI spokesperson Alicia Malencort said the arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation, coordinated with the FBI, into a plot to commit murder by the Claus organization.

Using wiretaps authorized under the Rico statutes which target organized crime activities, the SBI had determined that Claus, who heads the Claus family syndicate, had taken out a contract, said to be well in excess of one million dollars, on the life of the Baby Jesus.

Also arrested at the same time were Claus family associates, elves as they are called on the street, Bernard "Shorty" Kiskowitz, Elmo "Slinky" Kruger and an individual known as DJ 2Pop4Shure.

The Claus family, noted the SBI, gets a substantial part of its income from kickbacks from retailers based on holiday sales. As a result, they had become very concerned about the efforts that Jesus and his associates had been mounting to reduce the emphasis on the gift-giving and gift-getting aspect of the holiday, and their plans to make it a smaller celebration focused on friends, neighbors, families, and, ultimately, Jesus.

Discussions of the planned hit were caught on tape from a wire that investigators had put on one of Santa's closest associates, Gregor Grimbalski, an elf known to insiders as Grimy. On one part of a transcript obtained by CBS investigative reporter Karolina Borkesson, Claus is reported to have said "that little Jesus has gotta go," then adding, "You's gotta rub him to a smudge. That'll take the Christ outta Christmas."

Some observers had seen an escalation in the simmering conflict coming as the turf wars between the Claus and Jesus families became increasingly acrimonious following Claus and company moves into arenas that were traditionally Jesus' exclusive venue. Especially contentious were public Christmas displays, now frequently termed Winter Holiday displays, where rotund Santa figures as well as sleighs with multiple reindeer had hidden, or even replaced, the Baby Jesus and his attending angels.

The planned hit was to be disguised as part of a faux reality TV series "Survivor: The Mall." The episode entitled "Christmas Story Redux" was to re-enact the biblical story of the early years of Jesus' life. The scheme had the hit man dressed as one of King Herod's henchmen -- only this time they would get to the child before he was shuttled across the border to a foreign land.

The daylight assassination was slated to take place in Washington, D.C. A living crèche, or manager scene, was to be set up on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, and just as the justices of the court came out to remove it, the hit man, dressed in a long black robe, would strike.

A special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Graham Dunn, said he never seen a plot this intricate or bold, noting that the entire event was to be captured live on film by the culprits. FBI analyst Eugene Poole speculates that the recording of the hit would have later been sold to a major network for broadcast, presumably to enormous ratings.

According to sources at INTERPOL, the international criminal police coordinating organization, Claus, who also goes by Nick Santorum, has been implicated but never charged in the operation of a large multinational smuggling ring in which Chinese toys were distributed around the world outside normal taxes and tariffs thus abrogating the GATT world trade framework.

Daniel Baruch, an attorney representing the estranged Mrs. Claus, née Kristina Kringle, said of his client, "Kris had no part in any alleged plot to kill the Baby Jesus or any other child for that matter. I can’t speak for Mr. Santorum."

News of the Claus arrest sent the New York Stock Exchange into tailspin as analysts revised earnings estimates for a host of retailers downward. Especially hard hit were Toys-R-Us, Best Buy and Hickory Farms, each of which lost more than 30 percent of value in just hours.


Gary D. Gaddy stopped believing in Santa Claus at about age five.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 20, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:56 AM EST
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Thursday, December 13, 2007
Honky's: "Just like eating at home"

AMONG THE PLETHORA OF ETHNIC RESTAURANTS in the greater Chapel Hill/Carrboro area, one would be hard pressed to find even a sliver of space that hasn't long ago been filled, but Bill and Betty Witman have done just that in opening Honky's. Located on Franklin Street in former site of the colorful "Wicked Burrito," Honky's stands as the region's first fully Caucasian restaurant.

Honky's, as their logo says, is "just like eating at home." Its creative fusion of North Carolina and Ohio foods will meet the area’s twin culinary deficiencies: authentic non-ethnic North Carolina home cooking which the majority of Chapel Hillians who hail from other parts of the globe have never experienced and Yankee comfort foods which the many northern transplants continually long for but up until now have not been able to find except on Christmas vacation back in Cincinnati.

            214 West Franklin
            Chapel Hill
            Price: Moderate
            Rating: ***** (out of 5)


You may be thinking, so this is "a white bread restaurant"? I share your excitement. No chewable baguettes at Honky's, just an "open loaf" of Wonder® Bread.

Honky's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. To give Honky's a full and fair test, I tried all in one day -- and I wasn't disappointed.

Honky's features a literal "Variety Pak" of cereals for breakfast -- served right from the miniature boxes. Children love them (but so do Mom and Dad!) Also available singly are Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Wheaties. I had a bowl of Life, the featured selection of the day, lightly dusted with Dixie Crystals and splashed with cool half-cup of Carnation. You don't have to be Mikey to love it!

Rather than offering the mundane and over-worked "fresh, not-from-from-concentrate" orange juice served almost universally at area eateries, Honky's features Bluebird orange juice "right from the can." It'll take you straight back to a sticky summer's morning at Grandma's house!

For lunch I had the signature Honky's special: the Grilled Cheese Samich. Lightly basted with Blue Bonnet, the slices of sandwich white were cooked in a double-heated press grill which left the processed American cheese food oozing from between the flattened and precisely browned toast. Delectable! Ovaltine® in a chilled glass of two-percent Coble set it off perfectly.

At a neighboring table they ordered an American classic, a Franco-American classic, in fact: spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce was microwaved to a boil and the smell nearly irresistible. I know already what I’ll get next time!

Dinner is served "family style." The entrees are meatloaf and a nightly chicken special. The night I was there it was boiled. And when Honky's says boiled, they mean boiled, boiled until the meat was falling off the bone. The vegetables du jour were Del Monte's green beans and Green Giant® corn niblets. Cooked to mush just the way you remember them.

And every dinner comes with a bottomless basket of Nabisco Saltines. You know, no meal at Honky's would be complete without crackers.

Dinner is, of course, "All You Can Eat." Or, as Betty says, "It’s 'More Than You Should Eat!'

Honky's is perfect if you're on what Uncle Bob used to call a "Seafood Diet" -- where if you "see food," you eat it.

Honky's desserts are prepared by Food Lion. The chocolate chocolate cake was still slightly frozen, the way I love it. Topped with a heaping dollop of Cool Whip, it is to die for!

And speaking of things to love, Glen and Ann Smith, who shared the table with me, were just delightful company -- very well mannered and they didn't practice the "board-house reach" either!

With a hostess like Betty Witman, I guess I shouldn't be astounded at the civility of the clientele. Betty is a retired pediatrician whose people-skills are only exceeded by her deft touch in the kitchen. Betty says years of practice at minor surgery "really help when wielding a kitchen knife."

Bill mans the cash register. Bill retired from his work as a certified public accountant specializing in managing medical practices. Behind his gruff exterior, Bill is, as you might expect, a teddy bear. Bill says his only regret in making the career change is that he has had to give up golf, tennis and fishing to make time for balancing the register drawer each night. As Bill points out, "You can't use a computer to count cash."

I give Honky's FIVE STARS!! (But only because our rating system won't let me give SIX!!!)

Honky's is open daily from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. The associated Honky's Catering specializes in supplying home-cooked food for church covered-dish potluck dinners.


Gary D. Gaddy, who is himself of the Caucasian persuasion, eats out way too much.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 13, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:42 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 2:34 PM EDT
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Meet Time's 2006 Person of the Year: Me!

(Special to, a column not heretofore published, but now, with newly lowered standards, available for public perusal, in a not-so-subtle bid to get Time to repeat me as Man of the Year.)

AS A RELATIVELY NEW COLUMNIST I feel I need to introduce myself. (If you have already heard of me, please ignore what you have heard previously.)

If you not have seen the end-of-the-year issue of Time magazine, you may not know yet: I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year. I am sure that you are less astounded by this than I am. I never see these things coming. (The one time I did see it coming -- when I won the prize as the best history student in the sixth grade at Forest Hills Elementary School -- it never came. Henry Swanson told me I won, because he saw the initials "GG" beside the listing of "History" on Mrs. Duncan’s copy of the Award Ceremony program. Good data, bad analysis: that goofy Gail Goodson won.)

Some people have said they don't believe that I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year, including several who say they have seen the Person of the Year issue. OK, Time didn't put my name on the cover, but, duh, they did put my picture on it. Look for yourself. Hold the picture on this column up to the Time cover and compare: the same distinguished, graying hair, the same wry but charming smile, the same classically crooked nose from that bicycle accident in seventh grade. Even Narcissus would have to concede that that's me. Anyway, I'm not going to let the willfully blind keep me from basking in the warm glow of my limelight.

This had been a good year for me, even before the Person of the Year award. No detached retinas. (I had had one in 2004 and one in 2005 so I projected at least one in 2006, but I was wrong.) No major arrests or outstanding warrants against me (as far as I know.) Only had a loaded gun pointed at me once. I won a major award at my tennis club (Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club's Most Mediocre Tennis Player.) Finally, I became a regular columnist at the Chapel Hill Herald.

Why did I win Time's 2006 Person of the Year? I can only speculate as Time gave little justification for me as their choice. Perhaps they thought it was obvious. I think it was because I symbolize everything that is America in 2006. I am Biedermann. (For those of you not clever enough to have a degree in the modern foreign language of German, Biedermann is Everyman auf Deutsch.)

So, how am I Everyman? Politically, I am confused -- like almost all Americans, except for those few who are very certain and very certainly wrong. Like most Americans, I would like to throw all the bums out.

Physically, I am the very image of America: of average height and shrinking, of average weight and growing. Intellectually, I'm smack in the middle: half the people know they're dumber than me; half think they're smarter.

I know you're thinking, "Well, you're not average in ego, buster!" That is certainly true now that I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year, but you must understand that I must be measured against my peers, of whom there are very few. Compared to, say, Steve Spurrier, Terrell Owens, Donald Rumsfeld or Donald Trump, even my critics would have to agree I am of a quite average ego. So, I am Biederman with a capital "B."

But why this year?

I think Time realized that 2006 might be the last time in long time that a well-to-do white male could be awarded anything, much less a Person of the Year award. (Though I can follow the trends they see, not to mention the very real prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, I think they are wrong, if for no other reason than I fully expect to be the first person to repeat as Time's Person of the Year.)

But enough of these questions, which are just quandaries to contemplate, nothing that should be allowed to diminish for a moment the radiance coming off my award. Sometimes blessings like this come and you never know why, even when you know you have done nothing to deserve them. The way my wife feels, I'm sure, every day.

For those of you who did not win Time's 2006 Person of the Year (all 6,613,284,045 of you!), I would like to encourage you not to give up on your dreams even if the statistical probabilities say you should, like when, for example, the statistics say each of you can expect to wait 3.3065 billion years before you become Person of the Year.

And for those of you who have not had the chance to congratulate me yet, the line forms at the rear.


Gary D. Gaddy, Time magazine's 2006 Person of the Year, would like to thank his parents, Inez and Clifford Gaddy, without whom he would not have been possible.

A version of this article was previously not run anywhere.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:49 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 9:59 AM EST
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Thursday, December 6, 2007
Revisiting the presidential candidates

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, resting comfortably in my Orange County estate, I did a survey of the leading as well as lagging candidates for president of the United States. After some thought and reflection, I now realize I was completely wrong about all of them. Before the farmers of Iowa tell you whom to support, let me present my revised opinions.

Starting with Hillary Clinton, as her neckline plunged her prospects, as well as the web hits on her photos, surged. I realize now that if she could just get a man, any man, even Bill, to actually hit on her, her election prospects would go out of sight, as is indicated by the impact of significant others of insignificant other candidates. (See below, Kucinich, Dennis, wife of.)

Earlier in the campaign, I had thought that John Edwards might be a little too namby pamby for the office of president (due to his penchant for pricy hair styling). After finding out that Edwards sits on the board of a the hedge fund that was foreclosing on homes hit by Katrina, I now realize that he may have what it takes to be president.

Joe Biden, I now see, is handicapped by the standard debate format -- you know, too many candidates, not enough time. Biden is not a sound-bite kind of guy, being steeped in the United States Senate where bloviation is called deliberation, and elder statesman is the preferred term to describe a gasbag.

Barack Obama's staunch anti-Iraq war stance had made some question him as commander in chief of the greatest military in the world. But Obama's announced planned invasion of Pakistan has elevated him in those same skeptics who now see that even if he is dovish on going to war with our enemies, this is more than compensated for by his being hawkish on war with our allies.

After seeing the diminutive 60-year-old Dennis Kucinich's attractive 29-year-old wife, I, along with an entire nation of men, have had our eyes opened -- really, really wide. It is now obvious that Kucinich does have presidential stature -- she’s close to six-foot tall! His marriage has many of us asking, "So, how’s this vegan thing work anyway?" (And to answer the other question that came immediately to many of you when you first saw the lovely red-headed Mrs. Kucinich together with her husband: Yes, he is older than her father.)

Bill Richardson has made a big mistake -- actively courting the Hispanic vote. Previously, no one, including his wife, realized that he was of Hispanic extraction. Given a pre-electoral mood swing during the next session of Congress, this current governor of New Mexico will find himself in Old Mexico, where he would also be the best qualified candidate for president.

As soon as I can find anything out about Chris Dodd, I will give you my revised opinion on his prospects.

Now let us consider the Republican candidates starting with Rudy Giuliani. The numbers say that Giuliani should be a shoo-in. The numbers, of course, being nine and eleven. Given that middle America likes its presidents warm and fuzzy (consider, as cases in point, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ignoring, if you would, Richard Nixon), Giuliani will have trouble in the heartland. Giuliani is about as huggable as fellow New Yorker Leona Hemsley – and she’s dead.

Seeing that it took Mitt Romney an estimated five million dollars to finish first in the Iowa Straw Poll with 4516 votes, it is obvious he is a hopeless candidate, as it will take him almost seven trillion dollars to get as many votes as George Bush got in 2004 -- which is more money than Romney has.

Ever since former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee finished second in the Iowa Straw Poll, where the three leading national candidates did not compete, it is apparent that he is now the front runner. (He did barely spend a nickel.) His prospects are now good but somewhat muted by the fact that he does not support tarring and feathering illegal immigrants before running them across the border on a rail.

I previously thought Newt Gingrich and John McCain were toast, it's now clear they are burnt toast.

This brings us to Fred Thompson, whose wife is a mere 25 years younger than he. As a U.S. senator, and more importantly, a major Hollywood actor, he really should have been able to do better than that. (See above, Kucinich, Dennis, wife of.) With this spousal age-related revelation, his persona, charisma and star power fall into question. This is nothing, however, that a Nevada quickie divorce and subsequent third marriage to an even cuter chick couldn't fix.


Gary D. Gaddy, coming out of a caucus system, was a delegate to the Virginia Democrat gubernatorial nominating convention in 1977 -- but at the moment he can't for the life of him remember his candidate's name.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 6, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:09 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2007 10:16 AM EST
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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Jesus: I am not coming back

CHAPEL HILL – Just as the Christmas shopping season was beginning, a damper has come down on the holiday’s festive spirit, as Jesus announced Wednesday that he is canceling his previously scheduled return to earth.

In a surprisingly candid and informal statement to an invited assembly of world leaders and journalists at Memorial Hall on the University of North Carolina campus, Jesus detailed his reasoning behind this momentous decision.

"I’m not coming back," Jesus began. "I'm sorry. I know I promised I would return but have any of you really looked at the state of the world lately? Tell the truth now; would you leave heaven to come to this? Didn't think so.

"Last time I came to earth I invested 33 solid years and what did I get? Crucified. I mean literally crucified. At some point you've got to cut your losses, don't you think?

"I'm pretty good about keeping my commitments. At least I think so. But can't a guy get a little reciprocity every now and then? If even a couple of you would keep maybe one commandment for part of one day every once in a while, I'd be at least tempted to come back.

"But, give me a break, since I left, you guys are about one for a hundred and fifty quadrillion -- and I'm talking about the people who actually try.

"I'm just not coming back," Jesus said as he despondently walked away from the podium to end his announcement.

A convocation of the National Council of Churches in consultation with the Jesus Seminar declared that they were not at all surprised to hear Jesus was not returning. "We never believed he was returning to begin with," said Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, the NCC's General Secretary.

Dr. Bart A. Ehrrman, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, expanded on this view. "Textual analysis had shown that Jesus' so-called promises to return were not the authentic words of Jesus. A careful analysis of the extant texts shows that the only thing it is certain that Jesus did say was 'Lo.' After that it's mythology, wishful thinking and ex post facto theology put into his mouth."

Not everyone was so callous in their assessment. Bertrand Russell IV, a fifth-generation atheist from New York City who attended the press conference, was impressed by the uncontrived honesty of Jesus' declaration. "I really liked the guy. I had always thought of God as aloof and distant but this guy is really quite down to earth. I'm seriously considering becoming a believer now that I know it's not just a cheap ticket out of Armageddon."

Orthodox Jews who are still expecting the first coming of the Messiah were somewhat daunted by Jesus' announcement. Rabbi Simon Hirschfeld spoke for many when he said, "Maybe he's still coming the first time even if he's not coming back again. Oy vey, what if we missed him and the bus just isn't coming back to this station?"

Fundamentalist believers, however, remained unwavering in their faith. "I don't care what ‘Jesus’ said, if it ain't in the King James Version, I won't receive it, I don't believe it, and that's the way I'm gonna leave it," said the Reverend Moran Lofquist, executive director of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.

Although he admitted to being temporarily shaken, author Timothy LaHaye says he now plans a new book series: "Really Left Behind."

Among major world religious figures, only the noted evangelist Billy Graham seemed completely nonplussed by Jesus' decision. "I figure I'm going to Jesus myself any day now. What do I care if he comes back when I'm in heaven? Seems like that's y'all's problem, not mine."


PETA volunteers to assist in fundraiser

HILLSBOROUGH – In a compromise that has everybody smiling, volunteers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have agreed to take the place of the donkeys in the the C.W. Stanford Middle School Booster Club's re-scheduled donkey basketball fundraiser that had been cancelled earlier in response to PETA protests.

"It's the perfect solution," said PETA spokesperson, Alma Snock. According to Snock, PETA members are "used to abuse" while participating in PETA events. "Compared to disrupting research at a cancer lab, this will be a piece of cake," said Snock.

A Stanford booster club spokeswoman, who asked to be unnamed, said that PETA "donkeys" will be more manageable for school faculty and staff, who will be riding the "donkeys" as they play a game of basketball, "as they are more used to dealing with little jackasses anyway," adding, "and we expect attendance to be standing room only."

Delicious Tofu Pups® vegan hot dogs and smooth, creamy Silk® Soymilk will be available as refreshments.


Gary D. Gaddy once regularly attended Bible studies at the Maranatha! House in Greenville, S.C.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 29, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:49 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:15 AM EST
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Thursday, November 22, 2007
Candid yams contain truth serum

RALEIGH – A team of scientists from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina announced today a discovery that may explain why so many Thanksgiving dinners go downhill so fast and end so unpleasantly.

The team of biologists and chemists determined that yams (Dioscorea species) -- which are often very mistakenly called sweetpotatoes (Ipomoea batatas) -- contain a precursor to truth serum (sodium pentothal). This chemical (sodium quattrothal) reacts with agents in the toasted marshmallows, a sweet confection of a spongy consistency traditionally used as a topping on holiday yam sidedish preparations. In the heat of an oven, the chemicals in each combine to form the complete truth serum molecule.

When consumed in sufficient quantities, a generous second helping is usually enough, the sodium pentothal takes effect. The honest comments then follow. These moments of candidness, say UNC’s sociologists who observed over 200 Thanksgiving dinners in their natural setting, lead directly to the sticky messes that followed.

"Every dinner we observed ended when Uncle Pete stormed out of the house, after Cousin Suzanne told a story about that summer at Grandma's house, and the 'wellhouse incident'," said UNC's noted social psychologist, Darko Milosovic. This happened consistently when candid yams were served but never, during any of the almost 100 family holiday dinners observed, when sweetpotato casserole was served instead.

NC State nutritionist Gordon Flattus said that though the two vegetables are visually similar, the yam has more natural sugar (and, thus, calories) and less vitamins A and C (both antioxidants). So, sweetpotatoes are the better choice nutritionally -- and socially.

A social environmental impact study of cost of candid yam sidedishes (as compared to a baseline of sweetpotato casserole) showed that candid yams have social costs of $6.6 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Obesity and its attendant medical woes, such as diabetes and heart disease, caused $1.6 billion of these costs. The bigger costs, heretofore unmeasured, related to domestic violence (including number of police calls, days in jail and prison, and criminal court costs) amounted to $2.2 billion per year.

But, in a finding that surprised even the multi-disciplinary research team, the costs of civil litigation amounted to $2.8 billion per year. Many of these costs had not been noted before as they are lagged, often by years, and so didn't appear in the more typical short-term study.

The team's legal expert, UNC’s Stephen B. Gruber, said the obvious libel and divorce suits were a factor, the biggest impacts came from previously unnoted contentious will caveats and the extended time that estates stayed open in the candid-yam families.

"Among the candid-yam families, many estates with larger pools of heirs were completely drained of their resources before the multiple suits, claims, caveats and counterclaims were settled," said attorney Gruber.

In the end, in most cases, only the lawyers got any money, said Gruber.

Earlier family studies research had attributed holiday discord to excess consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially mulled wine, spiked eggnog and, among families of Scandanavian descent, glögg.

However, these ethyl-based theories were never fully accepted as they failed to account for the holiday blowups among AA members and conservative Baptists. Candid yams, the team pointed out, do.

According to noted food historian, Waverly Root, the historic shift from sweetpotatoes to yams in confectionary desserts and sidedishes pre-dates the meteoric rise in non-personal injury lawsuits by the same 8- to 10-year lag found in the NCSU/UNC study.


My name is Gary D. Gaddy and I approved the preceding announcement. Paid for by the Committee to Elect Gaddy Official Town Dunce.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 22, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:47 AM EST
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Monday, November 12, 2007
Energy independence in eight years

ONE OF THE CURRENT CROP OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES says that he will bring energy independence to the United States "by the end of his second term." Believe it or not, the candidate is a Republican.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, says the first thing he will do as President is send Congress a comprehensive plan for energy independence -- and that we will achieve energy independence by the end of his second term.

Huckabee says energy independence is vital to achieving success both in the war on terror and in the global economy, aiding both our security and our prosperity. To achieve it, he says, we will have to explore and conserve, and pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel and biomass.

The man makes sense to me, even if he does set very ambitious goals. As the richest and most technologically advanced society in the history of the world, who says we can't? Who says we shouldn't try?

How would we do it? Here are some of my suggestions. We start with tax incentives for cost-effective conservation. Then by applying the technology we have now and accelerating that which is now under development, including cost-effective fuel cells that could provide pollution- and carbon-free power. The government would provide much greater direct and indirect incentives for such research.

The government would mandate – for itself – technologies it wants to bring to consumers. For example, every vehicle the government purchases should be a hybrid. I am generally for free markets operating unfettered but "sin" taxes on activities with social costs (like pollution that leads to disease) and tax breaks for activities with social benefits (like energy savings that lead to less pollution and energy independence) make social sense.

If you say it can't be done that fast, consider this: Brazil is close to energy independent -- now. How? Brazil makes ethanol for about $1 a gallon, according to the World Bank. Ethanol accounts for about 20% of Brazil's transport fuel market. Gasoline use has actually declined since the late 1970s. Making these changes wasn't free, but it was affordable for Brazil, so you might think it would be for us as well.

France produces its electricity almost without any fossil fuel. How? Nuclear power. France launched a nuclear program dating back to 1973 and the "oil crisis." France's 59 nuclear plants now generate 78% of its electricity, and it is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low generation costs

Iceland is moving towards a total "hydrogen economy." How? Using geothermal energy, which currently produces about 26% of that country's electricity, and meets the heating and hot water requirements for around 87% of the nation's housing. Recently an MIT panel said that the thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of U.S. electricity needs, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

Hydroelectricity now supplies about 19% of world electric power. Some estimate the world’s potential for hydroelectric power generation to be three times the current installed base. The U.S. is said to have exploited only half its hydro potential

Estonia's current shale oil shale accounts for about 95% of its electrical generation. Total world resources of oil shale are thought to be enough to yield about three trillion U.S. barrels of oil. The U.S. accounts for 62% of world resources.

Research into effective methods of sequestering carbon dioxide could produce "clean coal," a mineral resource we also have in great abundance.

When I visited Sicily last fall, large parts of the island were covered with wind farms. Many places in America could be too. Solar water heaters sat on nearly every roof there. Many parts of the southern U.S. could look that way too.

We are just one governmental nudge away from photo-voltaic technology in the form of roof shingles being economically feasible. Every house could provide much of its own power with its roof.

The medians of American highways could be growing plants which can be converted in fuel.

And the list of solutions could go, not the least of which is nuclear fusion which offers the possibility of virtually unlimited energy -- even if in the distant future.

David Brooks, a sensible conservative and a fan of Huckabee, says that Huckabee "vows, absurdly, to make the U.S. energy independent within eight years." Well, perhaps absurdly. But, consider that on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy presented this challenge to America: Let’s send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. Just in case you have forgotten, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface.


Gary D. Gaddy helped build a solar-heated house in 1973 and co-founded a solar and energy conservation company in 1977.

A version of this article was published in the News & Observer (Raleigh) on Monday November 12, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:23 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2007 7:28 AM EST
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