GARY D. GADDY
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Thursday, August 2, 2007
A very, very questionable column

SOME OF MY MOST DEDICATED readers, who seem to have nothing better to do than try to figure out what I mean by my columns, have sent me a series of very questionable queries, all of which indicate that they really should be spending their time on something more worthwhile -- perhaps watching re-runs of Jackass.  But, even so, being the man that I am, I will answer these queries to the best of my ability, which ain't much.

Terry O'Culligan of Durham wants to know: Why are you always making fun of liberals and Democrats?

My brother-in-law says I'm a contrarian.  Though I'm not sure he could spell it, I think he may be right.  Because the dominant ethos of this area is liberal (Republicans only being allowed within the Chapel Hill city limits during hunting season), it is more fun to make fun of liberal Democrats than their conservative Republican cousins.  Further, I simply find that liberal Democrats' general wack-wack-wackiness much more personally entertaining than the banal moronity of some conservative Republicans.  Trust me, I distrust them both.  As it says on every greenback in my pocket, "In God We Trust" – and if that's good enough for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Dr. O'Culligan, it's good enough for me.

Michael Ratty of Orange County asks: How come sometimes you are funny and others times you are not? 

Michael, sometimes the subject matter does not lend itself to humor.  Sometimes I'm not feeling funny.  Sometimes the jokes just don't work.  But maybe it's your problem, Mike.

Dr. Henry Lesesne of Chapel Hill wonders: Don't you think that it is dangerous to put words in the mouth of God and Jesus? 

Yes, it is, Hank, but at least I know I am making up what they say when I do -- which puts me on much firmer ground than many people "quoting the Bible" -- an especially popular pastime during this interminable election season.

Daniel Crummett of the Chapel Hill Tennis Club asks: Do I need to be careful so you won't put what I say in the newspaper? 

No, Dan, you don't because I won't. You have to say something interesting, or at least that I think might possibly be mildly interesting to any one of the several readers of the Chapel Hill Herald, before I will put it in my column.  Sorry, Dan.  (And, by the way, if anyone ever did say something interesting, I wouldn't use their name, I would just steal their idea.)

David Stickel from the fringe of Carrboro inquires: Why does the Apostles’ Creed, a traditional statement of orthodox Christian belief, say of Jesus that “he shall come to judge the quick and the dead”? 

David, it is not as many suppose because he, like us, will judge athletes for their rampant steroid abuse which leaves them either quick or dead.  Instead, this creed employs an arcane use of the term "quick" meaning living.  Dead means dead.  The reason the creed says this is, well, how can I put this delicately . . . he will.  And if you think about it, Dave, that pretty much covers everybody, so watch out.

Paul Jones of UNC (not to be confused with John Paul Jones, bassist for Led Zeppelin) questions: Is it true that you are a published poet? 

Although I am humbled by the very thought that you, Paul, so world weary, would pose such a query; yes, I must confess I am.  If you don't believe me, right here is one of my published works.

The Poet Would Be

The would-be poet sleeps with pen in hand,
reads each morning his ink-stained sheets;
hoping, waiting for the masterpiece
that comes so often in dream.

Every morning it is the same.
The spots and splotches yield not a word.
Try though he may, he cannot find a line,
remember not a word from these great works,
only the echoes of the praises
and the prizes, and his name.

Now you will have to admit that that is poetic, don't you?


Finally, Sandra Herring, from the next room, asks:  Are you coming to bed or not? 

Yes, darling, just as soon as I finish one more

 

 

Gary D. Gaddy was a poet in both high school and college where he found it to be the best way, short of learning to play lead guitar, which is really hard, to pick up chicks.  (Go to GaryGaddy.com to see past columns and such.)

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 2, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:36 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2007 9:03 AM EDT
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Thursday, July 26, 2007
It's time to throw my hat in the ring

THE TIME HAS COME for me to throw my hat in the ring -- where it will be trampled by a herd of jackasses and pachyderms.  I am today unofficially declaring myself a candidate for the office of president.  After canvassing the field, I feel that if these guys (and gal) are of made of presidential mettle, so am I.

But that's not for me to decide.  To help you, the voters of Orange County and beyond, determine whether I am the kind person you would like to pummel, debase and degrade while I bring disgrace and dishonor to the office, I will answer some of the questions from this past Monday (7/23/07) night's CNN/YouTube debate.

Davis Fleetwood from Groton, Massachusetts: How would America be better off with you as president than we would be if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama became president? 

Answer: We have looming before us two families being in charge of the presidency for 28 consecutive years, or longer, if Hillary Clinton were to be elected and then re-elected, with likely prospect that Jeb Bush would succeed her.  With me as president, that bi-familial stranglehold would be broken.  Obama would do that as well -- but set an uncomfortable precedent, which I would not, of being a president with an unAmerican name.

Rob Porter from Irvine, California:  Would you use the word "liberal" to describe yourself?

Yes, and proudly so.  I am also a progressive, regressive, moderate, forward-thinking, tradition-holding, radical conservative with libertarian values.

Jordan Williams from Coffeyville, Kansas:  Are you authentically black enough, or satisfactorily feminine to be president? 

Yes, in fact, I think I will be blackest president since Bill Clinton left office, and although I am not nearly as hair-stylish as John Edwards, that I can hold my own in tennis playing ladies doubles certainly suggests a certain feminine touch.

Reverend Reggie Longcrier of Hickory, North Carolina:  Is it right for your faith beliefs to be imposed on the American people when you're president of the United States?

When I'm president I will not impose my beliefs on the American people, heck, I barely impose them on myself.  As long as atheist, agnostic, secular humanist and non-sectarian beliefs are not being imposed on the American people, it will all be fine with me to keep mine out too.

Would you meet with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il? 

Yes, preferably in a convenient, yet neutral location such as Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Jane Delano Brown because she lives in Chapel Hill, and therefore might read this, who was my dissertation advisor, and who through her kindness helped me obtain my doctorate in mass communication research, which places me head and shoulders over Dennis Kucinich who has a mere master of arts in speech and communication.

What will you do to ensure that snowmen live a full and happy life?

I will supply free chest-type freezers to every home in America where each family can store snowmen or snowballs (which may be used for snow cones or snowball fights in July), as will be their free choice.

Do you believe that nuclear power is safer, cleaner and provides a quicker avenue to energy independence than other alternatives? 

Yes, and it's the best way to reduce carbon-dioxide production for the near-term future as well.  Nuclear waste storage is a political problem, not a scientific or technical one.  Encasing nuclear waste containers (along with environmentalists who warn of the doom of planet earth from global warming and still oppose nuclear power) in concrete blocks and placing them in the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada, which is conveniently not only the home of Reno and Las Vegas but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, will do much to solve this political problem as well as others.

In the wake of the elections in Florida in 2000, what do you think of dangling chads and paper trails?

I promise not only to dangle chads but hang jeremys as well.  Also, having learned from Nixon's mistakes, I promise not to leave an audio, video or paper trail.

Would you serve as president at the minimum wage?  (All of the Democrat presidential candidates excepting Chris Dodd said yes to this question. But note, as far as I know, none of them are "serving" for that now.)

No.  I have worked for minimum wage before as the weekend night desk clerk at the Econo-Travel Motel in beautiful inner city Norfolk.  Risking your life for $3.35 an hour (in 1978 dollars) won't worth it then and ain't worth it now.

 

 

Gary D. Gaddy is not really going to run for president -- for those of you who are still trying to separate fact from fiction.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 26, 2007.

 



Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:02 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2007 10:30 AM EDT
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Thursday, July 19, 2007
News in briefs by Fruit of the Loom

Today's news snippets are being brought to you by Fruit of the Loom all-natural undergarments and through the generous support of writers like me.

Horace Williams to become spaceport

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina announced today that it is dropping all plans for developing Carolina North into an academic campus and instead will convert Horace Williams Airport to an inter-galactic spaceport. UNC chancellor James Moeser said that continuing local opposition to the reconfiguring of the Horace Williams location as a mixed use research, educational and residential development had convinced the University administration to look to more "forward-thinking" uses for the property.

"We'll be grand-fathered in as an air transportation hub -- if grand-fathered is the appropriate term to use for transitioning the facility to a 21st century inter-galactic launch and landing site."

According to Moeser, the new complex, which will feature a multi-use, space-themed conference center, will also be the "perfect place for UNC computer science students and other Carrboro residents to hold Star Trek meet-ups, conferences and conventions."

"We had considered offering the airport site to the Navy as an outlying landing field but University ornithologists had recommended against it, saying that there were neither the numbers nor types of birds appropriate for such a use, based on the previously proposed sites in migratory bird pathways in eastern North Carolina," said Moeser.

 

Duke University to drop football

DURHAM -- Duke University will drop football, according to an internal report leaked to an investigative reporter for the Chapel Hill Herald, and this is likely to occur as soon as the first game of the upcoming season. Given the on-field record of Duke's football team over the last several decades, especially the last several seasons, the closest observers of college football were stunned to realize that they hadn't already.

"I had assumed that the reason that Duke had lost 20 games in a row was due to forfeits. I figured as little attention as Duke's athletic administration pays to football they had simply forgotten to inform their opponents for the last several seasons that they had dropped the sport," said Sports Radio 850 The Buzz Program Director Adam Gold.

When told of the report, Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford was quick to note that fielding a football team is a requirement for any school belonging to the ACC -- which would mean that all Duke teams, including their men's basketball team, would be reduced to club sports.

Duke administrators were equally quick to quash the speculation that the leaked report had generated.

"Duke has not and is not terminating its football program," said President Richard Brodhead. "The portions of the report that were released did not reflect accurately the totality of its meaning." said Brodhead. "While I cannot deny that the report said 'Duke to drop football,' the context was a statistical analysis showing that given the rate of turnovers per game, it was highly likely that the team would fumble the ball multiple times in the first quarter of the first game of the season, not including botched extra-point attempts, if any."

Brodhead continued by saying that "Duke football is too important to Duke University to even consider dropping it," noting that in any given year up to one-third of Duke's medical students are former Duke football players.

 

Ex-Speaker says prosecution "racist"

RALEIGH -- Deposed Speaker of the NC House of Representatives says that he was only prosecuted because he is Black.

 

Hybrid sales surge following arrest

Tokyo -- Toyota Motor Corporation reports that sales of its hybrid-energy propelled Prius automobile surged 18% in a single week following a July 4 news report that Al Gore III, 24, was arrested in California for speeding. Al Gore was driving a blue Toyota Prius 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway when he was pulled over at 2:15 a.m., Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

IN RELATED NEWS: NASCAR insiders say that they are considering adding a "Car of the Day After Tomorrow" division in addition to the Nextel Cup, which will feature only Toyota Prii. The Joe Gibbs Racing team is said to be currently in negotiation with Al Gore III as their lead driver.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is proud that his parents are one of America’s few multiple Prius-owning households and loves attending UNC-Duke football games at Wallace Wade Stadium where his seat is usually better than the ones he often gets given in the luxury boxes at Kenan.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 19, 2007.


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:43 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2007 10:09 AM EDT
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Thursday, July 12, 2007
Global warming thaws Al Gore

SOUTH POLE STATION, Antarctica – In what climatologists say is the definitive sign that the theory of global warming is fact, Al Gore appears to have spontaneously thawed. Gore's frozen visage that many remember from the 2000 presidential campaign no longer exists, say geo-political experts.

Now that he has melted, says North Carolina State University political scientist Dr. Marv Mendenhall, Gore could run more effectively than he did as a solid, changing the whole landscape of the Democrat presidential nomination process.

If Gore begins to run, as Mendenhall expects, this could spell an end to the presidential bid of Chapel Hill's own John Edwards, who, body language experts say, will now come across as the rigid one in comparison.

Frank Paley, Duke University political scientist and economist, points out, however, that his thawing has already cost Gore his position on the Bird's Eye board of directors and will likely lose him the support of the frozen confections industry. Paley also notes that this leaves the frigid vote clearly in the hands of Hillary Clinton.

Gore, the cold and stiff candidate who made fellow northern-state Democrat presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale seem warm and fuzzy by comparison, is no longer recognizable to even his own family. The change, temporarily hidden by an ecologically correct Grizzly-Adams-type beard, became apparent when Gore shaved it off as part of an "Earth First!" fundraiser. His wife, Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore, onlookers reported, was surprised when she first saw him clean shaven. "He just didn't have that chiseled look that I had grown to love," she said with an edge of despondency.

Gore, according to University of North Carolina art historian Joan Miro-Miro, now looks more like a Salvador Dali painting than the ice sculpture that has been acting as the official Gore vice-presidential portrait. Climate scientists believe the melting began when Gore was onsite in Antarctica observing the photographing of the nature film "March of the Penguins." Wake Forest University political psychologist Dr. Werner von Krankeit said that he believes that the tipping point for Gore may have come when he recognized himself in the Emperor penguins walk.

While environmentalists have hailed the Gore-based documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," as ice breaking, unfortunately, they are also concerned as Gore's new energy and passion are thought to be responsible for most of this year's 0.2 degree (Celsius) increase in the mean global temperature.

 

Congress solution to energy crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Enron, the world's largest natural gas company, today announced during a public ceremony tapping the Capitol Dome that it has solved the world energy crisis. "Our latest tests show that the Capitol produces more natural gas daily than the combined output of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and several other notable Stans," said Enron's Dr. Furken Farzengruper.

Gas generation, Farzengruper said, is primarily a Senate byproduct. While the House of Representatives also manufactures substantial amounts of gaseous substances, Farzengruper noted that its natural gas is diluted by large quantities of hot air. "As a fossil fuel, natural gas is much more naturally and purely produced by the Senate," concluded Farzengruper.

Environmentalists are ecstatic at this news, noting that capping the Capitol would immediately reduce U.S. emissions of the major greenhouse gasses methane, ethane, propane, butane and inane by an amount several times larger than that called for over the next decade by the Kyoto Accords.

Some concern was expressed by a consulting engineer from North Carolina State University about the long-term prospects for this find. Dr. Garland Leipugh said that his mathematical simulations show that the loss of Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy (D-Mass.) alone could dramatically change future production rates.

"Senator Kennedy expels each day the natural gas equivalent of 200 rotting whales," said Leipugh. "So, the Senator's health, of course, concerns us. If the Senator were to pass, while it would certainly lead to a temporary spike in production, eventually his quota would have to be replaced. None of the younger senators seem capable of producing even a fraction of Senator Kennedy's daily output," he added. Professor Leipugh also indicated, that if revived, the proposed ban on filibusters of judicial nominees could cut total gas yield by a factor of two.

Alternate gas sources are being sought. Tests on the White House, unfortunately, indicate that the copious volumes of natural gas it produces cannot be harvested at this time as it is quickly sucked into a localized but seemingly permanent vacuum in the West Wing. Early tests on the press briefing room are promising however.

Efforts to apply similar technology in North Carolina have met with little success as experts have determined that both its Capitol Dome and Governor's mansion are filled with holes.

 

Gary D. Gaddy attended the first Earth Day demonstration and teach-in on April 22, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Go to GaryGaddy.com to see past columns.)

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 5, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:55 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2007 8:22 PM EDT
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Thursday, July 5, 2007
Bathe French Month is cancelled

CARRBORO, N.C. -- The Carrboro Board of Alderpersons voted Tuesday to pull the plug on "Bathe French Month." What was to be a month-long celebration of French hygienic culture was terminated by a unanimous vote with minimal discussion.

A proclamation made in April to designate August "Bathe French Month," insiders say, was part of a move by Carrboro to officially become, in alliance with Québec, part of France within the next decade.

Culturally, politically, hygienically, it's where we belong," said Alderperson Jacqueline Gist in April. "As the rednecks from the country around here say, 'America, Love or Leave It.' We have decided to leave it."

The more-than-honorary French-solidarity month passed unanimously, affirming Carrboro's "closeness to the French people." The April meeting ended with hardy cheers of "Vive la France!"

Tuesday's meeting ended in stone cold silence.

"We all understand why we did what we did; no need to talk about it," said Dan Coleman, alderperson, community activist and Green Party stalwart. Coleman clutched a copy of the Raleigh News & Observer in his hand from earlier this year. The clearly visible headline read: "France, U.S. to present draft resolution on Lebanon to Security Council."

With the recent election of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy as French president and France's new-found spirit of cooperation with the Bush regime, Carrboro's plans for being annexed by France are being put on hold.

Carrboro's cancelling of "Bathe French Month" had ripple effects in neighboring communities. In April, the Town Council of Chapel Hill voted to support Carrboro's proclamation -- without adopting a similar one themselves.

"We thought it was great that Carrboro was doing this. It meant more water for us to irrigate our lawns," said Mayor Kevin Foy. "We're obviously disappointed that they cancelled it without consulting us," he added, "though we understand. We share a common foreign policy."

An expert from the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health's Personal Hygiene Curriculum said that changing from American bathing standards to those of the French would amount to water savings of 40 gallons per person per day. "For a town of 18,000 for one month that totals to over 21 million gallons of water," calculated Professor Bernard Zauber.

When it was pointed out to Dr. Zauber that it was Carrboro that was under discussion, he revised his calculations quickly. "I have several graduate students who live in Carrboro, and, trust me; it won't make much difference at all, couple of ounces one way or the other, max."

Carrboro, which touted itself as the "Paris of the Piedmont" in 1970 and proclaimed March 2003 "Buy French Month," is a small town on the western outskirts of Chapel Hill.

 

Congress Passes Equal Heights Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today the United States Congress voted to amend the Constitution to provide that: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of height." Heights-rights activists hailed the proposal as the "First Amendment of the 21st Century."

Since, technically, Congress cannot amend the U.S. Constitution unilaterally, the legislation enacted enables the clerk of court of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to make the changes enumerated in the statute.

One of the House representatives of lesser stature, Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.), observed that this principled stance, endorsed unanimously by congressional Democrats, will cost the party in the short run.

"We'll lose some of our biggest supporters, no question," said Kucinich. "We realize that Shaquille O'Neal will become a Republican."

"Heightism is rampant in our society. If you don't believe me, ask Katie Couric. O.K., bad example. Still, tell me the last time someone vertically challenged was named MVP of the NBA? Muggsy Bogues never had a chance," added Kucinich.

Political observers note that Kucinich could be the biggest beneficiaries of the amendment. "Forget the 2000 election being stolen from Al Gore. Dennis Kucinich would be president today if it were weren't for pervasive societal height bias. Looking like a lawn gnome shouldn't disqualify someone from our nation's highest office," said Democrat political consultant James Carville.

Republican opponents of the amendment listed many "ramifications of this ill-conceived proposition": Dwarf tossing would become a hate crime; Randy Newman's song "Short People" will be banned as performance accompaniment for free-style gymnastics routines; signs stating "No one shorter than this" will be forbidden at amusement parks; and "Separate-But-Unequal" lowered-height urinals would be outlawed.

Local representative David Price (D-N.C.) voted for the amendment while both North Carolina senators, Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole, voted against the measure.

An irony expert in the Department of Linguistics at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Meta Imalosa, noted that the "Equal Heights Amendment" will be the shortest in the history of the constitution.

 

 

Gary D. Gaddy bathed French during the school year of 1969-70 and his first girlfriend was vertically challenged.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald July 5, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 12:31 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, July 8, 2007 12:37 PM EDT
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Thursday, June 28, 2007
A salute to my championship season

WHEN YOU ARE SITTING ON TOP of the bell-shaped curve, resting at the very height of averageness, many would say that it would be hard to go anywhere but down. Well, they'd all be wrong.

After ascending to the pinnacle of mediocrity, I have climbed yet higher -- to the United States Tennis Association's North Carolina state senior men's 3.5 doubles team championships. At these championships the best team of mediocre over-age-50 male doubles tennis players in the state will be definitively determined -- proving conclusively that most members of that winning team should have been playing in a higher division.

I could start this account by regaling you with my many past athletic accomplishments -- but I don't really have any. The previous high point of my athletic career was playing on an undefeated junior varsity football team for George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia, in the fall of 1966.

The coach used me to finish off key games. I played six plays in seven games. I "played" defensive halfback. I say "played" because that is what I practiced for but not where I played for half of my six grand moments of glory. I was put in once on offense late in the fourth quarter at the wingback position. I did not know what a wingback was much less what it was supposed to do. (On both my plays at wingback, I lined up where I thought a "wingback" should line up, and then blocked the guy in front of me.)

I also played the essential last down of the Virginia Episcopal School game (score 28-6, our favor). As one of two kick return specialists back to receive a free kick, my strategy was to pray to God that the ball not come to me. Thanks to the fervency of my request, the ball went to the other sucker who had also never even practiced returning a kick. I, for my part, blocked the guy in front of me.

My three plays at defensive halfback were generally uneventful, except the one where I recovered a fumble by a pass receiver I was supposedly defending and was returning it for a touchdown -- when the official ruled it an incomplete pass. In playing time, my football career took less time than it did for you to read about it.

Tennis is an entirely different matter. The ball is much smaller, for one thing. Further, physical contact is more limited in tennis than it is in football -- unless you count me hitting my partner, inadvertently, in most cases, with my racket.

Actually, I do already have a tennis championship -- but, due to the rampant sexism in our society, many of you will not count it: the 2004 Sweet Briar College Reunion Weekend Doubles Championship. Yes, Sweet Briar, my darling wife's alma mater is a women's college. However, due to the odd number of women enrolled in the tournament, they took me, an odd male, to fill out the bracket.

In the finals, I (playing with a member of the class of '64) beat my wife (playing with a member of class of '99) to take the championship. (My lovely and talented wife can explain why her 27-year-old former Sweet Briar tennis team member was not the asset that she could have been, and why my 62-year-old partner actually looked younger than hers. It involves a "party-like-it’s-1999" party the night before in her room which lasted until 5 am.)

Anyway, back to men's tennis, before the season I felt that our Hollow Rock team could easily finish in the top two in our league -- given there were only two teams. Then, when I had to explain the rules of the game before our first match to our opponents (specifically, how a tie-breaker is played), I calculated our chances of winning the league to be 50-50. I was, as it turns out, being pessimistic.

As a team, we crushed them to a smudge, winning seven of eight matches. Out of pure generosity I won't mention our opponents' name, but suffice it to say that it these pleasant gentlemen were from an expensive, exclusive, gated-community with a name-brand golf course in northern Chatham County. I, personally, as would be expected, won four and lost three matches, the closest to perfect mediocrity that one can get in seven matches.

Coming soon: First-round elimination from the state championships!

 

Gary D. Gaddy really is going in June to the state senior men's 3.5 doubles team championships, where he expects, if the stars align properly, his team will still be crushed to a smudge by an under-rated team from Mecklenburg County.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday June 28, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:16 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:18 AM EST
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Thursday, June 21, 2007
Schadenfreude and other sports terms

IN MY CONTINUING QUEST to educate the not-so-squalid masses of the Orange County vicinity, I have decided to fall back upon one of my more dependable areas of expertise: modern foreign languages.

As Americans we are trained from birth to believe that English is all we need to get by in life. And while that is true, the many foreign languages still spoken by the less sophisticated in obscure corners of the globe do provide some educationally entertaining tidbits to keep us occupied before globalization brings us an entirely English-only universe.

My brother-in-law said it was kind of sad that he spent the past football season in schadenfreude -- but he did anyway. (Schadenfreude, for those of you unversed in the Teutonic tongues, is a German word for finding joy in the misfortune of others.) In the midst of a woeful football season for his Tar Heels, he found solace in the many close losses and game-ending collapses of the NC State Wolfpack team.

I was not surprised at his schadenfreude; I was surprised that he knew the word. Perhaps, I shouldn't have been since he is a graduate of the world-renown University of North Carolina, but I was because I knew that the only foreign language he took was Portuguese -- the then-preferred language of study for the UNC football team (being rated on the scale of linguistic difficulty as Spanish Lite). Anyway, schadenfreude is our first word of the day.

The next is the Greek term hubris. According to its modern usage, hubris is exaggerated pride or self-confidence. You've heard the expression "everybody loves a winner." Well, briefly, maybe. Sometimes very briefly. (Consider the fifteen minutes of love the 2006 national champion Maryland Terrapin women's basketball team got.)

Mostly, everybody hates a winner. Don't believe me? Ask the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, or the Tar Heel men's basketball team. ABC fans have been around for quite a while. (ABC standing for "Anybody But Carolina." A sentiment immortalized in the bumper sticker: "My Two Teams are State and Whoever's Playing Carolina.") The problem is the perception by the vanquished that the regular victors over them are haughty, prideful, and therefore displaying hubris. (Which they usually are.)

Despite all its success, Duke has not taken on its parallel ABD mantle well. It just doesn't seem to fit comfortably. They can't even handle teams celebrating their victories over Duke. For example, the Duke men's basketball fans were not happy when the Florida State players danced around the floor of Cameron Indoor Stadium after defeating the Blue Devils in January, poking out their jerseys at the crowd.

Crazies, if I may be so familiar in calling you that, don't be sad when opposing teams celebrate after defeating your team. Understand that you want opponents saying, as Virginia Tech guard Jamon Gordon said in January, "To beat Duke in Cameron, that's one of the sweetest things you can do." When you should be sad is when they don't -- because it ain't worth celebrating about.

However, if the Seminole roundballers continued to win and puff themselves up about it (like their football team used to do), we will all start hating on them, because, now you're catching on, they will be displaying . . . hubris.

I am, generally, a uniter not a divider. When it comes to contests outside the ACC, I am a conference loyalist. During the ACC-Big Ten Not Quite a Challenge, I always pull for every ACC team (with the exception of remaining mostly neutral when my Wisconsin Badgers play). Likewise, when the national tournaments start (NIT or NCAA, men or women), I pull for conference teams, mostly because every time they win it makes my Heels look better, whatever its record is against them.

I am not the kind of fan who wishes pain on the fans of other teams, even those of my chief rivals. I wouldn't just pull against Duke for "pulling against" sake. Instead, in the process of viewing a game, I let myself flow to the team with which I hold a natural affinity.

During the recent March Madness, in doing so, I discovered my great commonality with Virginia Commonwealth University, recalling my roots as a native of that great state and realizing, in an epiphany, that their ram is our ram's brother and that we are thus bonded together with their supporters as soul mates. So, it was not with schadenfreude but, with our final and French phrase of the day, joie de vivre, the joy of life, that I exclaimed, "Go Rams!"

 

Gary D. Gaddy majored in the modern foreign language of German at Furman University, graduating a couple of hundredths of a point short of magna cum laude, which is Latin for "almost pretty hot stuff," qualifying him to work as a waiter at Das Schnitzel Haus, though he never did.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday June 21, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:09 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:19 AM EDT
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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Coming down from the mountain

MANY OF YOU, I know, are sitting on the edges of your seats waiting with bated breath to hear how I did at USTA North Carolina Senior Men's 3.5 Doubles Tennis Championships. You can slide back now; I will get to that indirectly.

Asheville is nice. It's kinda like Carrboro on steroids. For example, one of our waitresses at Tupelo Honey Cafe (which I would highly recommend), was pleasant, efficient and educational -- appearing to have the collected works of Hieronymus Bosch tattooed on her body.

We didn't really see a lot of the town, though we did go to the Chamber of Commerce -- twice in one day. (They had computers for checking email that we used to email to see how we could get email at the place we were staying. So much for "getting away to the mountains.")

While there I bought a t-shirt for my lovely wife at the whitewater rafting booth. It says: "Paddle faster! I hear banjo music." She thinks it means head toward the music.

The Senior State Championships in a nutshell: lots of old guys, as well as some well-preserved gals, hitting balls back and forth. That’s pretty much it.

Our team, which represented the aging yet middling tennis players of the greater Durham/Orange/Northern Chatham County area, did not fare so well -- if winning and losing are any standard. In the thin mountain air, our balls tended to go long, while our opponents' managed to just dribble over the net onto our court.

I know that many of you would like to know how I did in the championships, wondering what happens when mediocrity meets excellence. Briefly, it's not pretty.

But this is not just about me. As many of our coaches over the years have repeatedly pointed out to us, there is no "I" in team. (Experience, unfortunately has shown me that it usually does include both an "M" and an "E".)

How did our team do? We exceeded all expectations -- of which there were none. Just as I had so presciently predicted: first-round elimination! We finished second in the four-team Group III -- just behind three teams tied for first, including the team from the mountains where there is barely enough level ground to build a tennis court, and the team from Wilmington where bikini-clad women are a constant distraction. Finishing behind Greensboro we expected. (Civic motto: America's Most Boringest City).

We did not embarrass ourselves – mostly because we are not easily embarrassed. During three team matches, each with three "individual" doubles matches with two sets each (for a total of 18 sets), we won one. (Thanks, Doug and Dave – for making the rest of the team look bad.)

But, hey, but nobody bagelled any of us! For those not versed in the technical language of competitive tennis, "to be bagelled" means to lose a set at zero games, derived from the similarity in the torus shape of the bagel and the number zero. (Speaking of zeroes, know how to tell winners from the losers at the tournament post-first-round party? The losers are drunk; winners are sober, still having matches to play.)

In a completely unexpected turn of events, my regular partner, Terry O’Culligan, the esteemed manager of the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club, despite being saddled with several disabilities (including me as his partner) ended up with the best results for our team, winning an average of seven games per match.

Still, my readers ask: how did you do? OK, I’ll say. To help you visualize my matches, for those of you who don't know me by sight, I have a body a lot like that of Rafael Nadal -- just distributed a little differently. Our opponents didn't look much better -- until they hit the ball. Many of them appeared to have played this game before.

My results? Losers just lose. So I didn’t do that. Winners just win. So I didn’t do that either. Mediocre players? They get leads and blow them. That characterized the whole weekend for me and whichever poor sucker was paired with me. (For example, ahead in games 4-1 then 5-2 in the first set of our first match, we lost 7-5.)

However, I really had only one personal goal going into the tournament -- for my partner and me to win the Misses Congeniality Award -- and although there was no official vote, the consensus was that we walked away with it. We are sure, given our conduct on the court, all of our opponents would have been glad to play us again -- and again and again and again.

 

Gary D. Gaddy grew up with public tennis courts practically in his backyard in Danville, Virginia -- for what little that turned out to be worth.

A verion of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald June 14, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:17 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:27 AM EDT
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Thursday, June 7, 2007
Truth vs. fiction, and vice versa

MANY OF MY LOYAL READERS, it appears, are, as might be expected, confused. (By application of the principle of contraposition, I conclude that many of my disloyal readers are confused as well, just not as much so -- and one can only imagine where this leaves my first-time readers.) I come to this conclusion of confusion because I am continually being asked: "Is what you write true or not?" The short answer: yes. But as you might figure, it's more complicated than that.

To help in this confusion, here are several essential principles for distinguishing fact from fabrication. If a story seems so outrageous that it couldn't possibly be true, it probably is. Truth is stranger than fiction. So, in order to keep a spoof credible, one must often tone down the truth. For example, if I had run a spoof suggesting that George Bush actually got better grades at Yale than John Kerry, who would believe that? (And since it is true, imagine how bad off the country would have been if Kerry had been elected!)

Anyway, last week's story seemed particularly problematic to my readers as indicated by this succinct email (an actual letter from an actual reader):

Dear Gary:

Please confirm that your article is a parody. The narrative is so close to the truth that the distinction is without a difference.

Ralph Heinz

While this letter could refer to any number of my top-notch columns (e.g., "Hooters Carrboro encounter" or "UNC's cure for political incorrectness," or "Duke discovers it's in North Carolina"), it in fact references "University of North Carolina to hire Republican."

Dr. Heinz appears to be one of my few readers who understands what I am trying to do. Something I often don't myself. Unfortunately, while I would like to confirm that this story is a parody, I cannot. My stories are not generally parodies.

My columns are usually premonitionary news stories based upon certain suppositions. As such, they might be more accurately called suppositories. With the exception of names, times, dates, spelling and grammar, they detail what almost certainly is exactly what would happen if my suppositions were to come to pass. (It is worth acknowledging that it is doubtful, however, that in our lifetimes, Duke will ever discover that it’s not in New Jersey or that UNC will knowingly hire a Republican.)

Nevertheless, my readers demand: "How can I tell which of what you write is spoof and which is true?" Very easy, consult Wikipedia. If it's not in Wikipedia, it didn't happen. Granted, for some localized truths, this may not work. For example, how many plays I played in a particular game for a high school JV football team (Go Cardinals!) 40 years ago may not be in Wikipedia -- yet. (Gimme a chance, guys, I'll get to it!)

For now, you're just going to have to trust me on my JV football career -- not that I would myself. Many of my columns should include a tagline disclaimer that says: "To the best of my recollection."

Still, I might note that even my lovely and trusting wife did not believe all of my claims about high school until she went with me to my 30-year class reunion and observed the behavior of some of the people I am happy to call my former classmates. I had told my wife, for example, that I kissed every girl I wanted to in the school, with the exception of Jeanne Russell. The more the darlings of the class of 1969 drank, the clearer it became to my wife that this certainly could have been true.

Further note, to the deacons and elders of my church: my high school years were before, repeat before, I became a Christian. And, my lovely classmates, not me, were the ones becoming progressively inebriated. In fact, the entire experience was very sobering to me.

To tell the truth, despite the protestations of my supposedly question-laden readers, I'm not sure anybody is really interested in The Truth. I doubt either Dr. Heinz (whose name adorns the list of "Friends of Duke University") or Mike (whose email came suspiciously from @duke.edu and who requested an electronic version of my story), cares one wit about The Truth. They both merely wish to ridicule my beloved alma mater. The very thought of which incites me to say: "Hey, that’s my job!"

Finally, relax, guys, don't you remember, up here on the Chapel Hill, and over by Mr. Duke's Chapel, we stopped believing decades ago in such out-dated, out-moded, obscenely obsolete, pre-post-modern concepts as "truth"?

 

Gary D. Gaddy says that every word in every biographical blurb that has appeared in this space is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, more or less.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday, June 7, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:09 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 11:23 AM EDT
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Thursday, May 31, 2007
University of North Carolina to hire Republican

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- In a split vote, the University of North Carolina's Board of Trustees voted to today to broaden its affirmative action policy on hiring to include a Republican. Board chair Jim W. Phillips, Jr., said the new policy will put in place for the fall of 2008.

Chancellor James Moeser said that while he welcomed the "experiment," as he called it, he also thought that the university must move "cautiously" into this unknown territory.

"We take our mission as a liberal arts institution very seriously," said Moeser. "We will remain a safe place for our ideas, and to do so it is very important that we speak with one voice to and for our students. A cacophony of thoughts will just lead to confusion the part of the student body.

"As a musicologist I understand that euphony is what makes music to our ears," said Moeser, who began his academic career as a professor of music and is still an accomplished organist.

Professor Ellis L. Suede, who headed up the working group on campus intellectual diversity which advised the Board in formulating the new hiring policy, said he wanted to allay any fears that this decision may diminish the university in any way.

"Those concerned about how this may impact the integrity of the educational process on our campus should rest assured that this decision has been carefully considered. The only place for a Neanderthal on our campus is as subject matter in the anthropology curriculum, not in front of a lectern," said Dr. Suede.

"Other schools have experimented with such a policy in the past to their regret," said Suede. "We're trying to learn from their experiences. We're looking for a Republican who will understand the 'Carolina Experience.'

"To aid our search, we're asking that the Log Cabin Republicans for the names of nominees that they think would be appropriate for us to consider," said Suede.

The UNC Young Republicans (Bob Allison and Reggie Smith) were jubilant at the news. "The possibility that we won't have to travel to Buies Creek to meet with our advisor is really exciting to us," said Smith, a junior from Lincolnton.

UNC's Young Republicans have not had a regular, on-campus faculty advisor since history professor emeritus Beauregard P. Smaples died in 1957.

Chancellor Moeser was adamant that it was a "misconception" that UNC currently had no Republicans on its staff. "We have not just had a Republican," said Moeser, "we have had a reserved slot for a Republican for years. How on earth do you think we could ever get the CEO of a major corporation as dean of the business school if we only took Democrats? We've just been careful to limit them to that position and to make sure that we monitored the dean's contact with students.

"We have never looked at having Republican as head of the business school as a liability to the university but rather as an opportunity to improve our external relations both with the corporate world and wealthy individual donors," said Moeser.

Not everybody on campus was happy with the the Board of Trustee's decision. Students for a Democratic Society staged a sit-in in the chancellor's office to protest the change in the hiring policy. "When our name says 'for a Democratic Society,' it means what it says. There is no way anyone can look at today’s decision as anything but turning away from that lofty ideal," said SDS Minister of Communications Dante Donatelli, a senior from Evanston, Illinois.

Dr. Bernard Kleinschmidt, an intellectual diversity expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that there is little reason to fear that this will "open the floodgates" to hiring a rash of Republicans by UNC.

"Although the Supreme Court rulings limiting quotas in admissions and in hirings present a challenge in theory, in practice they have not been necessary," said Kleinschmidt. "There are so few Republicans who can put two thoughts in a row that the number of qualified applicants will always be constrained. Further, with the requirement of a terminal degree of in their field of expertise, the sifting and sorting process of our graduate schools will have eliminated most of the most bothersome candidates. And I don’t think UNC will never have to worry about getting too many 'highly recommended’ Republican applicants," said Kleinschmidt.

A late report by the Associated Press that Duke University head basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski is a registered Republican has many on the Chapel Hill campus saying that UNC’s trustees will almost certainly repeal this policy at its next meeting.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, whose parents supported Barry Goldwater for president in 1964 (favorite bumper sticker from the era: Au H2O) and then George McGovern in 1972, grew up in a community in Virginia that went for George Wallace in 1968.

 

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday May 31, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:55 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2007 11:47 AM EDT
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Thursday, May 24, 2007
A salute to my championship season

ALTHOUGH MY RECENT TENNIS NOTORIETY ("Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Member," Thursday April 5, 2007) was recognition long overdue, thanks to the high-speed printing press, it is just getting going.

When you are sitting on top of the bell-shaped curve, resting at the very height of averageness, many would say that it would be hard to go anywhere but down. Well, they'd all be wrong.

After ascending to the pinnacle of mediocrity, I have climbed yet higher -- to the United States Tennis Association's North Carolina state senior men's 3.5 doubles team championships. At these championships the best team of mediocre over-age-50 male doubles tennis players in the state will be definitively determined -- proving conclusively that most members of that winning team should have been playing in a higher division.

I could start this account by regaling you with my many past athletic accomplishments -- but I don't really have any. The previous high point of my athletic career was playing on an undefeated junior varsity football team for George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia, in the fall of 1966.

The coach used me to finish off key games. I played six plays in seven games. I "played" defensive halfback. I say "played" because that is what I practiced for but not where I played for half of my six grand moments of glory. I was put in once on offense late in the fourth quarter at the wingback position. I did not know what a wingback was much less what it was supposed to do. (On both my plays at wingback, I lined up where I thought a "wingback" should line up, and then blocked the guy in front of me.)

I also played the essential last down of the Virginia Episcopal School game (score 28-6, our favor). As one of two kick return specialists back to receive a free kick, my strategy was to pray to God that the ball not come to me. Thanks to the fervency of my request, the ball went to the other sucker who had also never even practiced returning a kick. I, for my part, blocked the guy in front of me.

My three plays at defensive halfback were generally uneventful, except the one where I recovered a fumble by a pass receiver I was supposedly defending and was returning it for a touchdown -- when the official ruled it an incomplete pass. In playing time, my football career took less time than it did for you to read about it.

Tennis is an entirely different matter. The ball is much smaller, for one thing. Further, physical contact is more limited in tennis than it is in football -- unless you count me hitting my partner, inadvertently, in most cases, with my racket.

Actually, I do already have a tennis championship -- but, due to the rampant sexism in our society, many of you will not count it: the 2004 Sweet Briar College Reunion Weekend Doubles Championship. Yes, Sweet Briar, my darling wife's alma mater is a women's college. However, due to the odd number of women enrolled in the tournament, they took me, an odd male, to fill out the bracket.

In the finals, I (playing with a member of the class of '64) beat my wife (playing with a member of class of '99) to take the championship. (My lovely and talented wife can explain why her 27-year-old former Sweet Briar tennis team member was not the asset that she could have been, and why my 62-year-old partner actually looked younger than hers. It involves a "party-like-it’s-1999" party the night before in her room which lasted until 5 am.)

Anyway, back to men's tennis, before the season I felt that our Hollow Rock team could easily finish in the top two in our league -- given there were only two teams. Then, when I had to explain the rules of the game before our first match to our opponents (specifically, how a tie-breaker is played), I calculated our chances of winning the league to be 50-50. I was, as it turns out, being pessimistic.

As a team, we crushed them to a smudge, winning seven of eight matches. Out of pure generosity I won't mention our opponents' name, but suffice it to say that it these pleasant gentlemen were from an expensive, exclusive, gated-community with a name-brand golf course in northern Chatham County. I, personally, as would be expected, won four and lost three matches, the closest to perfect mediocrity that one can get in seven matches.

Coming soon: First-round elimination from the state championships!

 

Gary D. Gaddy really is going in June to the state senior men's 3.5 doubles team championships, where he expects, if the stars align properly, his team will still be crushed to a smudge by an under-rated team from Mecklenburg County.

 A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday May 24, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 3:03 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2007 11:10 AM EDT
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Democrats 'undemocratic' proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary D. Gaddy is a voter from Orange County.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Deploy soldiers to the southern border

(b) Send illegal immigrants who are caught to jail

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

(d) All of the above

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) Make the Rio grander.

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

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

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

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

Coming soon: The Costs and Benefits of Illegal Immigration

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

REPORT FROM THE SCENE

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

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

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

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

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

"This is Ron Stutts."

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:04 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:27 PM EDT
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