Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bizarro World

This has got to be a mistake.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Payday Lenders Target Military

UNCG professor William Brown Jr. recently testified before the U.S. Senate banking committee in support of payday lenders that prey on military personnel. In many states, these lenders take advantage of men and women in uniform by charging rates exceeding 400% (NC rightly caps the rate at 36%).

These predatory loans frequently lead to deeper financial problems that cause military personnel to lose their security clearances, limiting their career progress and promotions. This, of course, just adds to their financial woes. To this, Dr. Brown says "You want to make sure you give people the ability to learn from their mistakes in some cases as well."

I will rely on Maj. Gen. Mike Lehnert, commander of Marine Corps Bases (West), who knows something about the destruction caused by payday lenders. He recently said "Let me be clear. Pay day lenders are not providing our Marines with a service. They are parasites, bottom feeders and scumbags."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ryder Cup Preview

For the first time ever, the USA enters the Ryder Cup as an underdog. They earned it by getting blown out in the last Ryder Cup two years ago and having four rookies on their squad this time.

Excepting Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the US players are off form. However, several Euros are playing well, and they always seem to bring their best to the Ryder Cup.

I thought the Euros would upset the US in the last two Ryder Cups, and they did. This time, the Americans will get their revenge. Here is why:

- Captain Tom Lehman and assistant captains Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts are tough as hell.
- With several veterans not on this team, Tiger Woods has stepped up as a team leader.
- Tiger is white hot and has finally found a perfect partner in Jim Furyk.
- Phil Mickelson will pair very well with fiery Chris DiMarco.
- The Euros chose a US-style course as the venue (a rich guy bought hosting rights for a reported 20 million pounds)
- The one ball rule is not in effect, opening up some new pairings in the fourball matches.

The opening match pits Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk against Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie, Europe's greatest Ryder Cupper. A win for Tiger and Furyk will set the tone for the rest of the matches. I hate to say that a 28 match competition hinges on one match, but it is huge.

I expect Tiger and Furyk to get a close win. They should be paired four times and get at least three points. That will help the US be at least even after the first two days.

Golf is almost always an individual sport whose competitors are paid on their performance in a given week rather than past accomplishments. This week, golfers play for their team and country with no financial reward. That causes emotions to run high among players and fans.

All of this causes The Ryder Cup to be one of the premier events in all of sports. I can't wait.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ed Cone on 9/11

For me, no one has captured the essence of 9/11 like Ed Cone.

Today's column follows a string of exceptional writing on the topic. I do not know how Ed summoned the strength to write so well about something so personal and tragic, but he has made 9/11 more real for me than anyone else.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Goodbye Chuck Amato

It happened again today. NC State lost to Akron.

To put this loss in perspective, the Zips now have two wins over I-A football teams in their entire history. The other victim was Temple, whose football program is so bad it was kicked out of the Big (L)East Conference.

Despite a lackluster effort by the Pack, this loss was completely avoidable.

State scored with a minute to go. Rather than realize it still had work to do, the team celebrated the score on the field and incurred a 15 yard penalty on the kick off. This 15 yard gift helped Akron score as time expired for a victory.

When dumbass penalties like that occur once in a while, you blame the players. When it happens repeatedly, you blame the coaches.

About a year ago, I wrote "Amato came to the Wolfpack from Florida State, whose great teams' hallmark was beating opponents while being undisciplined.....Amato has not adjusted the coaching style he learned as an assistant coach at FSU to the talent he has at State, so his teams continue to lose games they should win."

The odds of Amato returning as head coach at State next year just slipped under 50/50. If he is fired in November, we will look back at this game as a prime example of his shortcomings.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Coastal Report

I am at the coast for a much-needed vacation with my family. Our kids are not yet to kindergarten age, so we take advantage of this week. The crowds are gone, but the weather and surf temperature are still perfect.

I have noticed a few things you don't normally see back home:

- Multiple dogs in the swimming pool, and no one minds
- Local TV reporters doing their spots sans shoes
- Lifeguards who have already bagged their quota for the season and are helpful

I am ready to enjoy a few more days without tending to an overpacked schedule.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mr. Sun Steps Into The Light

Mr. Sun has stepped out from behind anonymity. He is Jim Rosenberg, longtime local funnyman and more recently a humor columnist for the News & Record.

Two years ago I suggested that Jim was the local resident most in need of a blog. Hogg replied that Rosenberg would be a bore. That seemed odd at the time, but now I know Hogg was having a laugh at my expense.

About a year ago, I read something Mr. Sun wrote, and it seemed familiar from a funny-as-hell daily email Jim used to write. I asked Jim if he was Sol, and he confirmed he was after extracting a 20-page non-disclosure agreement from me.

I will be curious to see if and how Mr. Sun's blog changes now that he is out. Either way, I look forward to more flares from Sunny Jim.

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