Monday, October 12, 2009

Who's money?



So according to these two women, the money they are hoping to get comes from President Barack Obama.
Well, not exactly.
The funds were appropriated from the General Fund in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — passed by Congress and signed into law in February.
The cost of the "stimulus" bill will be added to our national debt, to be repaid by taxpayers.
So, the money will not come from the President's "stash" but from each and every American's paycheck.

Lauren Ricks
Associate Editor

Friday, October 9, 2009

What a shocker

President Barack Obama and former President Jimmy Carter have even more in common now that the former is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
All I want to know is what has he done to promote peace? Iran is on the verge of gaining a nuclear weapon, with little resistance from the U.S. China, Venezuela and Russia are all rattling their sabers. To top it off, the Obama administration are considering allowing the Taliban to be active in Afghanistan's government.
It seems to me the administration's tactics are making peace a distant dream.
Did all these problems just appear in January? Of course not, but the actions of this administration has encouraged those who want to do us harm.
The Nobel Prize is nothing more than far-left liberals patting each other on the back. Why else would the President be nominated a full two weeks into his first term?
So congratulations on your many accomplishments President Obama. I just hope America can survive your tenure.
Lauren Ricks
Associate Editor

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Texas Representative Kevin Brady (R) has created a chart that is downright scary.
The chart is a representation of what the Democratic health care plan will do for us little people.
Remember, President Obama and other Congressional representatives will keep their current plans, rather than jump aboard this amazing sinking raft.
Nancy Pelosi and others of her ilk are attempting to restrict Republican representatives from sending the chart to their constituents, saying it is inaccurate.
They claim the "illustration of low-income subsidies is misleading and false" and argue the chart depicts a "Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund" that is “simply a recipient of IRS funds, with no outflow. ... This is false." The quotes are from a Roll Call report, which also provides a really good pdf of the chart.
Okay — just for the sake of argument — take these two factors out of the chart when you look at it.
Doesn't the mass bureaucracy between you and your doctor still freak you out?
We should distribute this chart to everyone we know and even some we don't. Let the American people know what is about to come down on our heads.
A small battle has been won but they are going to pick up where they left off after their little vacation, if we don't tell them otherwise en masse.
— Lauren Ricks, Associate Editor

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So much for pro-choice

Our Dear Leader was interviewed by Dr. Jon LaPook on CBS News yesterday about his plan to overhaul health care.
President Obama said every American should be required to have health insurance. Required is not a word typically used in a free society when it comes to something so personal.
During this interview, he made this incredibly disturbing statement:
"I've been persuaded that there are enough young uninsured people who are cheap to cover, but are opting out. To make sure that those folks are part of the overall pool is the best way to make sure that all of our premiums go down."
As a young person, I highly object to the idea behind his words. We are already responsible for subsidizing the retirement of the "Baby Boomer" generation, who greatly out-number us.
Now, we will have the additional responsibility of keeping the nation's premiums down. This will be accomplished by forcing us to be in the "overall pool," i.e. the state-run health care system. A system which will be able to deny any procedure or medicine on a whim, without another option. One that will force us to live within certain perimeters, set by government bureaucrats.
A fan of a good old-fashioned hamburger? Too bad, it will be too costly for the government for you to eat one.
He has basically just admitted in this one statement that his plan does not include any other option but Uncle Sam.
Investor's Business Daily published an editorial Wednesday which underscores this point. The article reports a interesting passage from the U.S. House of Representatives' "health care for all Americans" bill on page 16.
The article says the "provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage."
The section of the bill in question states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day."
So, the bill is destined to actually wipe out private health insurance companies altogether, through attrition.
This Presidential agenda is just one of the many that will fundamentally change our country if passed. I don't know how much hope there is for stopping this stuff but it isn't over until Barney Frank sings.
— Lauren Ricks, Associate Editor

Friday, June 26, 2009

Last nail

The House of Representatives passed a bill by a very slim margin — 212 to 219 — that will do nothing less than destroy the last shred of hope our economy has, if it is signed into law. It has been called the climate change bill or the cap and trade bill, either way it is unconstitutional.
The bill gives the federal government the ability to trump every state and local law imaginable, including how a house is to be built. It will shut down oil refineries, increase energy cost and ship jobs overseas.
And it will put even more money in the pockets of people like Al Gore.
The absurd part of this story is many of the representatives who voted for it did so after the American people expressed their dissent loudly. Once again, the phones lines and e-mail boxes were jammed with American voices, but this time those sitting in the seats of power chose not to listen.
Eight Republicans voted for the bill and each and everyone should lose their job come election time. There is no reason a small government, fiscally responsible Conservative would approve of this travesty.
If you don't prescribe to the philosophy of the Republican Party, you should not represent it.
We will not be the Grand Old Party again until we return to first principles and deny those who do not vote the correct way.
We can be a big tent all day long, and keep losing representatives, or we can stand up for what is right and proper.
The government should be returned to the U.S. Constitution, where the White House and Congress has limited powers and the states are not the handmaidens.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, June 22, 2009

No more hiding

I never thought I would see the day when I, a proud American and Texan, would cheer on a French politician. But it has arrived.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke out against a specific garment in a presidential address to a joint session of France's two houses of parliament. He actually called the burqas what it is, a prison, and said they are not welcome in France.
Sarkozy stood up for women's rights in the strongest terms I have heard yet. He is quoted as saying, "The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."
I have never seen any representative from the National Organization for Women speak in such terms.
Yet the issue goes beyond the simple garment itself. It is a symbol of the woman being inhuman, being like every other. The burqa robs a woman of her uniqueness and hides it behind a black mesh strip across the eyes. It gives leave for the men in a woman's life to treat her with utmost disrespect.
As a woman, and a true feminist, I find the garment and everything it stands for entirely disturbing.
- Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bravo Netanyahu!

I am so proud of Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for standing up to the pressure brought on him by United States President Obama and other Western nations.
Mr. Netanyahu has apparently learned from his past mistake of accepting all concessions to the Palestinians, as presented to him by squishy liberals. He came out this weekend and squarely faced the main problem between Israel and Palestine.
Those in power in Palestine refuse to recognize the legitimacy and sovereignty of Israel. They want nothing less than the complete destruction of the country. That fact is stated in its charter.
Netanyahu also said he would not stop the settlements in the West Bank, keep Jerusalem and demands the new Palestinian state be demilitarized. I don't blame the Israelis for these conditions. Look at the mess the Gaza strip became after Israel gave that to Hamas.
So, I think it is a great development for both the U.S. and Israel that the leader of the latter stands up to the former.
We need to respect our long-time friend in the Middle East, not bully her.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why America likes Shawn Johnson

Fresh from her surprise win on Dancing With the Stars, 17-year-old Shawn Johnson has been on the move. The kid who reigned as the world champion at 15 and brought home a gold medal from Beijing is riding a new wave of popularity.
How this high school senior-to-be will bear up under the pressure and publicity that goes with her success remains to be seen, but so far she's been a class act.
Like many Americans, I watched the 2008 Olympic Games pretty intently. It was fun to see Nastia Liukin, who lives just up the road in the Dallas area come away as the women's all-around gymnastic champion. But she took the title at the expense of her roommate, Shawn.
Shawn gave us all a little lesson in some of the things all coaches would like their kids to learn. Among those are: accepting defeat with grace, supporting our teammates when things aren't going our way, not letting jealousy over a friends success poison a relationship and of course–don't give up.
It's always good when we see these values displayed by our sports heroes. It's a surprise when the lessons come from someone so young. As long as Shawn holds to those principals, she'll go far.
— Rich Flowers, News Editor

Friday, May 15, 2009

Make up your mind

President Barack Obama criticized the current government's economic policy — saying it is taking on too much foreign owned debt — at a town-hall meeting in New Mexico.
He then went on to praise government's policy on the economy saying we are turning a corner and "we do know that the gears of our economy, our economic engine, are slowly beginning to turn.”
I wonder sometimes if our President hears himself saying these outrageous things.
You say the debt is going to cause a substantial increase in interest rates when China loses interest in owning our debt. This much is true and we have already seen this happening to a degree. The Treasury Department announced in April it would add "more auctions of 30-year bonds to its calendar to address the increase in projected financing needs."
The May 7 auction received little interest from buyers and was reported as "terrible."
In what universe, Mr. President, does this seem to be good news?
Oh, I forgot...you must be pleased with the increase of gasoline prices recently. That is a positive sign to him, right? He did say during last year's campaign he thought $4 a gallon gasoline was a good thing, he just wished it hadn't happened so quickly. No matter what it did to the regular people.
I'm sorry but I cannot see that the "wheels are turning" on the economy, at least not in the right direction.
It seems to me we are going backwards with a hearty push from the Obama administration.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thank God (literally)

The "Most Eloquent" White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced today there would be no bailout for the newspaper industry.
After what has happened to the automobile and banking industries, I am thankful this totalitarian administration is not considering taking over my bread and butter. I could not be part of an industry that does not have independence of thought and the freedom to express opposing views.
The last thing America needs now is for it to go the way of Pravda.
America was founded on the desire for freedom of speech, thought and action. On the ability to choose our own destiny. We are losing bits and pieces of this everyday thanks to a heavy dose of apathy. I pray someday soon the citizenry will wake up and see the destruction all around us, before it is too late.
To some, this may sound much like the rantings of an alarmist. Though I respect others opinions, I would disagree with this conclusion. I am a realist and the things I see going on everyday is disturbing.
A recent example is a charge from a leading bankruptcy attorney Thomas Lauria, who alleges the administration threatened an investment bank with public ruination for not agreeing to the Chrysler deal. According to Lauria, Steve Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration's Auto Industry Task Force told Perella Weinberg Partners the White House would use the press corps to destroy its reputation.
For the sake of posterity, both the administration and the bank have denied the charge.
Considering the "deal" the bank received compared to the Christmas present the UAW got, I would bet something was said behind closed doors. We will wait and see.
As a member of the press, albeit not in the same position of one in the press corp, I an indignant if the White House thought they could "use" a journalist to do their bidding. The profession is not meant to be the attack dog of ANY administration. It is meant to be a unbiased source of factual information.
Unfortunately, I don't believe many of the more powerful newspapers have risen to this standard, which is why they are failing. The best way for the industry to get back on its feet is to have integrity.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good riddance

Senator Arlen Specter has announced he is going to be with his ideological equals today. All I have to say to that is, can you take the other RINO's with you? I hope you get trounced soundly this election cycle and lose your job.
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Friday, April 24, 2009

It is a lie!

Apparently, the facts are beginning to scare Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from Massachusetts.
The same man who was recorded three years ago saying "there is no housing bubble" and calling those who wanted to investigate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac racists, is now saying the opposite. He appeared on the Tavis Smiley show and said it was the Conservatives who pushed people into home ownership regardless of their ability to pay.
My question is simple. How long will the American people continue to let politicians such as the not-so-honorable Mr. Frank get away with such lies. What he said is easily disproved, which makes the claim even more infuriating.
Some of our politicians think they can get away with saying the sky is purple — in August at high noon. They believe this because they are not challenged when they tell a falsehood. It is past time for this to rectified.
Frank was one of the major players in this crisis, as was Chris Dodd and Bill Clinton.
They should not get away with turning history on its head the way they have the Great Depression.
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deja Vu

Our dear leader and his underlings are now saying the "fundamentals of our economy is sound." Does this sound at all familiar to anyone???
The Republican's ridiculous and weak candidate in the general election, John McCain, was ruthlessly hammered for saying the "fundamentals of our economy are strong."
After finally being called out for hypocrisy, the administration is saying it is a vastly different statement due to "sound" and "strong."
This is a good teaching moment for Americans. The administration is obviously splitting hairs to save face. The argument is absurd when looking at the statements and arguments at face value. The economy is in much worse shape now than it was last September, yet the administration thinks NOW the world is full of flowers and sunshine.
I happen to honestly believe we are in fact in a position to recover from the recession, if we change course. If the government continues to hand out money like candy, without concern for where it is coming from, the economy will be driven further down. But if we see the error of our ways and buckle down, we can come out stronger. As we have before.
All is not hopeless however. If the Obama administration stubbornly continues on this path to economic destruction, it will be painful but not permanent. The American spirit has survived one such leader in Franklin Delano Roosevelt and we will survive this one.
I have no doubt whatever the obstacle, whatever the price, we will thrive. That is the American way.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Saturday, March 7, 2009

All things must pass.

The great former Dallas sportswriter Blackie Sherrod was fond of the saying "You can't do something again, you can only do something similar."
That's kind of the way it is here at the Athens Review with the departure of Benny Rogers after 27 years of sports coverage. I met Mr. Sherrod. I told him I'd read his column since I was a kid. He replied, "I'll bet your daddy did too."
It was kind of getting to be that way for Benny I guess. When he started covering sports, the players looked like kids-now it's the coaches.
Benny has his opinions-his likes and dislikes-but he always covered sports with a positive spin. Not that he would varnish the truth, but he seemed to prefer to use words that would build up rather than tear down.
Like Mr. Sherrod, Benny's interests reach far beyond the arena. He was a valuable source at the Review for what happened when in weather or in the news. And of course he new the newpaper business inside and out.
Like Sherrod said, "You can't do something again." There'll never be another Benny, but the guys in the front office are already looking for someone with the special set of skills it'll take to keep the ball rolling. As for another 27 years-bet the under.
Angela Weatherford left the Review February 27 after about 18 months on the job. She wasn't born when Benny took over the sports desk, but that didn't keep her from jumping in and impressing us with her abilities. Angela grew up in Athens and I'm sure her family, friends and the folks at the AISD are more than a little proud of the job one of their own did at the hometown paper.
Miss Weatherford resigned to move to Los Angelas, which I'm sure she thinks means "City of Angela." She may be right.

RIch Flowers

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're all wet



Well, it's never good when you are awakened at 5:15 in the morning by a frantic fellow employee who says he heard a loud boom and then felt water under his feet.
Yet that's how my day started.
The Athens Review was submerged for a short time this morning after a hot water heater burst (in my office closet, no less). It wasn't long before our entire newsroom was under water (see pictures above). It was a bizarre sight to come in to see that.
So after we called the fire department and dragged them out of bed, they got our water turned off and we were left to begin the task of getting rid of some of the water. I'd estimate we (me and our publisher, Lange Svehlak) scooped 50 gallons of water off the floor -- and there were still plenty of water puddles left after that. He was using a 5-gallon Shop vac. I was using our Hoover electric mop, with its half-gallon tank. Tons of fun.
But ... we're on the mend now. Who knows how much damage was done in here. I can tell you the carpet is toast, but we probably won't know how bad it all is for a couple of days.
Please excuse our mess if you happen to stop by the paper today. Yes, we're still here and working hard. We hope to send you on your way as dry as you came.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I thought we were having money issues?

I've decided to be pro-active when it comes to paying my taxes. So, basically, I filed them like a month okay.
Last week I received not one...but two checks from the national government. Being the positive person I strive to be I thought, "Score, maybe I got two refunds from the government...cha-ching!!!!"
I opened the first check and it was for the ammount I thought I was supposed to get back. The mystery check contained -- wait for it -- $1. Yes, you did read that right, the national government sent me a $1 refund. I'm fairly certain postage, the paper and the enevelope for that check cost more than a dollar.
I find it extremely interesting that when we are in an "economic crisis" people can still receive checks for -- well basically for a coke. They could have just put four quarters in the first envelope that way I could get some Laffy Taffys or Runts or the other two or three things you can get with a quarter these day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is a great video from Southern Hills Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas. Man finds a stethoscope with unusual powers. He discovers what soundtrack is playing inside him.



--Andi Green, Advertising Director

Tea anyone?


This is an amazing video of the response to the recently signed "stimulus" bill. Rick Santelli is with CNBC, not Fox News. He is reporting from the trading floor in Chicago. The home of President Barack Obama was never thought to be a bastion of conservatism.
It is highly irresponsible to throw money in the wind and hope it doesn't blow away.
Happy watching!
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

My buddy

Our esteemed Attorney General Eric Holder made a statement yesterday calling Americans cowards. He said we don't confront issues of race often enough in our personal lives.
Holder made a point saying though the workplace is sufficiently integrated, Americans "self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives." Then he told Justice Department employees they "have a special responsibility to advance racial understanding."
This is the crazy path of liberalism. First we integrated the schools and workplace, obviously a great idea. Then when the process wasn't going fast enough for some quotas were instituted.
We may now know the next step in this dance to Utopia. Maybe Holder expects Americans to have a quota system when vetting our friends.
Personally, I don't look at people based on anything other than who they are. I couldn't care less what ethnic group they come from. I subscribe to the theory of judging others for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Apparently, this is not good enough for the most powerful lawyer in the country.
By the way, has he ever explained why he recommended pardoning Marc Rich? Don't think so, but liberals never have to answer for anything.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baseball

The first warm, sunny days of February often awaken the old feelings I had for baseball. As a kid and all the way through my teen years, I couldn't wait to grab a glove, gather up a few friends and head for the old city park diamond, or anywhere with a backstop.
Now, I never was much of an athlete, but I had good timing when it came to swinging a bat. The first time I got into a game with a bunch of neighborhood kids, I hit a couple of home runs and was hooked.
Fueled by my success, I began to take an interest in professional baseball. I would tune my 6 transistor radio to the Houston Colt 45s on WRR in Dallas, or listen to the minor league, Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers on KRLD. If there was a late game, I'd sneek the radio under my pillow so I could listen well past the time a second grader should be asleep.
Baseball was the ideal pastime for a kid. There were 162 games to be played and lots of bubble gum cards to be collected. The 45s and Rangers would be eliminated from the pennant races by July, but that didn't matter. Every day was a new day and there was always another game.
Soon,spring training will be in full swing in Florida and Arizona as the teams get ready for another season to begin around the first of April.
The old game doesn't mean as much to me now as it did all those years ago, but these warm February days never fail to bring back twinges of the way things used to be.
News Editor, Rich Flowers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crying from laughter is a good thing...right?



I can't say why, but I have always found news bloopers hi-larious. There is something about live television screw-ups that can bring me to tears.
One night I was searching YouTube, when I came across a clip of a model falling twice and these two news anchors that can't stop laughing when they watch the clip. In my humble opinion, here is what makes this clip funny — 1) The way the girl falls (seriously it looks like her legs turn into jelly), and 2) The fact that one of the men has the type of laugh that says, "I've been smoking for awhile." You know what I am talking about, that elongated wheeze type of thing.
Needless to say, I was crying from laughter when I first watched this clip...and every subsequent time as well.
Anyway, I wanted you to enjoy it as well. Lord knows we all need a little laugh at the end of Monday.
I guess I'm saying...you're welcome!
Angela Weatherford, Associate Editor

We're under atack


(click on the above image to see a larger version)
I just saw this stunning image on the Associated Press. I first saw it on a sister newspaper's Web site and couldn't see the details very well.
What you're looking at is an artist's rendering of the way the Earth is seen from space, complete with satellites drawn from information obtained from, well, satellite photos of the planet.
Let's say you're an alien and you're approaching Earth to take it over. Wouldn't you start to pull in the drive and then see all those satellites and say, "Hey, Nezbot, let's just go on to the next stop. This one's already got an infestation."
As Louis Armstrong says, "Whada wuunderfuuul world!"
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Please press #@#)*(%)@(*$#@)* KLKJ#@~~~*E{)(*@#$!!

Can someone tell me why we use automated answering services? They are anti-customer service. There's nothing I hate more than dialing up a number and getting the auto-operator:
"Thank you for calling ....."
"If you are dialing from a touch-tone phone, please press 1. If you are calling on a rotary phone, please hang up the phone and go purchase a touch-tone phone. If you are calling on Monday, Wednesday or Sunday, please press * plus the birthdate of the person you are trying to reach, and stand on your left leg only, then press the pound key."
Is there an automated system out there that works? Ahem. What I meant to say is, is there one out there that works efficiently?
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kudos to House GOP

I am thrilled to read not one Republican in the House of Representatives voted for the bloated spending bill today. Hopefully, the Senate GOP members will stay strong among the hurricane of threats coming from the White House.
I believe history will show, once again, extensive government spending will not boost the economy. Government doesn't have to ability to create and sustain 3.5 million jobs. The only source it has to raise money is to levy taxes, which cannot be sustained if all workers are on its payroll.
The administration was attempting to get cover for the bill. Seems like they won't be successful in that either. :)
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I suspect he's not "walking the line" anymore



Joaquin Phoenix, doing his best Rick Rubin impression, showed up on Letterman last night. Bizarre! I know the above video is almost 11 minutes long, but man, it goes by so fast. It's a train wreck, and so awkward.

What was he doing? I think the consensus was that he was high. He doesn't even start talking until about four minutes in. Letterman was doing his awkward pause routine, and the crowd was eating it up. Phoenix, by the way, looked like he was miserable. It gets really awkward when Letterman starts ripping on him and Phoenix starts cussing out the keyboard player (his name is slipping my mind) and then sticks his gum under Letterman's desk.

Let's hope he's getting ready for a role. Otherwise, he's probably heading for rehab or the obit page. Sad to say, but he doesn't look like he's in good shape at all.

-- Jayson Larson, editor

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We should pay people to stop smoking crack, too

Oh, no. No, no.
Just read this on Yahoo!News. It comes from an Associated Press report.

"Dangling enough dollars in front of smokers who want to quit helps many more succeed, an experiment with hundreds of General Electric Co. workers indicates. Among those paid up to $750 to quit and stay off cigarettes, 15 percent were still tobacco-free about a year later. That may not sound like much, but it's three times the success rate of a comparison group that got no such bonuses."

WHAT!!! Are you kidding? Every company has a right to do what it wants to do, but man, isn't there a better way to spend money on incentives? What about the folks who don't smoke? How 'bout a bonus for showing up to work? No, that wouldn't work. There's already a bonus for that. It's called your paycheck.

Nuts, man. Nuts.

-- Jayson Larson,editor

Lone Grove, Oklahoma

I know the first state many people think of when they hear the word tornado is Kansas, because of Dorothy and Toto and the merry land of Oz. But here in Texas, we're well aware of the season that's coming.
Spring in Texas means storms and rumors of storms. Everytime the weather siren goes off in Poynor, folks in this little town remember what even a small twister can do to a community.
Still, when I hear the word tornado, I often think of Oklahoma and my two-and-a-half years in the Sooner state. While at KKAJ in Ardmore, I frequently made the short drive to Lone Grove to broadcast a football game or a basketball tourneyment. The news of the deadly storm there was just another reminder of why the area near the Red River is often thought of as "Tornado Alley."
The deadliest day in the Red River Valley was April 10, 1979. The devastation began on the Texas side when a twister smashed into the southern part of Wichita Falls. The line that produced that tornado continued to traveled northeast until all of south central Oklahoma was braced for another hit. I stayed on the air until 3 a.m., giving reports that I gathered from local police and rescue departments. Our news director drove around the city breaking in with information about fallen trees, high water and swirling winds.
Ardmore didn't get a direct hit, but a couple of the little towns nearby did. Fortunately the death toll, outside of Wichita Falls was low. In researching this, I noticed Henderson County experienced a tornado April 11.
The National Weather Service tells us we can get a tornado anytime of year in Texas, but about this time of year, I try to get prayed up.
— Rich Flowers, News Editor

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gotta love elementary school

I try to have this rule about not reporting incidents from inside the schools when I go eat with my kids. I'm always the newspaper editor, but I try to call "timeout" and be dad, too.
But I've got to report on this earth-shattering piece of breaking news:
I went to South Athens Elementary to eat with my son today. As I was waiting, I saw a teacher waiting patiently with her students in line while others finished using the restroom.
So there's this kid standing second in line (we'll call him Kid No. 1), and I see a boy and a girl behind him plugging their noses and making awful faces. Well, I figure I knew what was going on, and I just chuckled (trying not to let the teacher see me acting like a 7-year-old). Then Kid No. 1 starts breathing into his hands to see if he's got bad breath or something. The boy standing behind him then says, "Ewww, you're gross!"
And then that same kid turned around and stuck his finger about three-quarters of the way up his nose. On that, I could no longer hold my silent laugh.
Isn't elementary school awesome? I miss it. Maybe I can pull a Billy Madison and go back.
If I could, I'd try to stay longer. And I'd try to keep my fingers away from my nose.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Red coats

The monster stimulus bill passed today with the assistance of three traitors. So-called Republicans Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins threw their votes in the pot with the Democrats.
I think the Republican National Committee should run true conservatives against the red coats when they are next up for election. If we lose the seats to Democrats, at least we wouldn't have to hear about how these Republicans In Name Only vote.
Bearing an "R" next to your name should stand for something, should guide your values and principles. That is not true in the case of these three politicians, and they should face the consequences.
I am livid at their betrayal because the unpopular stimulus bill was on the road to failure before they "compromised." This bill will affect all Americans and parts of it will cause suffering. Some aspects of our society are at risk of being transformed to resemble those of European societies. We are on the brink of no return and I don't know how many Americans realize the danger.
These three turned a deaf ear to the will of their constituents, admitted as much, and by rights should lose their jobs.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, February 9, 2009

Exposed...


I will confess up-front that Britney Spears has pretty much always annoyed me. A recent comeback single "Womanizer" is particularly nerve racking because it is so repetitive. The entire chorus is mostly one word — give you three guesses.
So now that I have fully exposed my bias on the subject, I want to say I love the All-American Rejects cover of the song.
The band completely kills the song with an accordion, guitar, tambourine and several hand-made instruments.
Seriously, I dare — even triple dog dare — Brittany to top that!
That is the difference between true talent and a studio prop.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

High times at 'The Valley'

Trinity Valley Community College's basketball teams are enjoying high times. Here we are nine games into February and the regular season is starting to wind down and both are in first place.
This is the 10-year anniversary of the last time both teams qualified for the national tournament in the same season. It's also the last time a Region XIV Conference school pulled off the fete.
It could happen again. Both TVCC teams are playing at a high level right now, especially the men.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is nothing sacred?



Well, I'm not sure where baseball fans are to go now. We lost Canseco to steroids, then McGwire. Bonds, the supposed all-time home run champ was next, following closely behind by Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens.
Then came news this weekend that former Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, arguably the best player in baseball now and the future all-time home run champ, used steroids in 2003 when he was in Texas. I'm disappointed, just not surprised.
Steroids has ruined baseball. I'm 31 now, and if you go back to the roughly 1990, when widespread use began, more than half my baseball life is tainted by steroids. It's so much worse than any gambling scandal has been -- those affected only certain players (Pete Rose) or teams (the Black Sox). This affects everyone. Records have fallen that can't be replaced.
It's a very tough time to be a baseball fan.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Text messages

Well, I've had my new phone for about a month now and I really like it. People can call me at my house in Poynor and I can actually hear them without the signal cutting out. I've taken a few fuzzy pictures with the camera and downloaded some of may favorite songs to listen to when my I-Pod and MP3 player are charging.
Sadly, I'm still on the outside looking in when it comes to text messaging. I see people punching the keyboard with their thumbs and clicking away sending greetings or information to who knows where, but the only text messsages I get are ads. By the way, I appreciate their concern, but my car warranty is NOT about to expire.
My wife has started to trade texts from some of her younger friends, but so far she hasn't sent me one either.
I think texts are cool. They're a good way of connecting with someone who day only have a few free minutes beween classes of on the job. When young people come over to the house to visit, I'm amazed that they always seem to have an incoming or outgoing text in the works. They can achieve this with great dexterity. They'll be talking to us, clicking away at the same time. Of course, I realize if I was anyone important, I'd be getting a text now and then.
At least the car warranty guy cares.
— Rich Flowers, News Editor

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ancient problems

My new lunch-hour book is "Legacy: Paying the price for the Clinton years," by Rich Lowry. In one chapter he quotes Alexis de Tocqueville regarding the nanny-state mentality. I feel the sentiment is worth revisiting, considering our current political debates. And I quote:
"It only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood...It daily makes the exercise of free choice less useful and rarer, restricts the activity of free will within a narrower compass, and little by little robs each citizen of the proper use of his own facilities...Government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society. It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform, through which even men of the greatest originality and the most vigorous temperament cannot force their heads above the crowd. It does not break men's will, but softens, bends, and guides it...It does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not tyrannical, but hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and hard-working animals with the government as its shepherd."
To paraphrase...a big government brings about a small-minded citizen.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Sickening

This, from the Associated Press:
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida agency has revoked the license of a doctor accused of medical malpractice in a botched abortion in which authorities say a live baby was placed in the trash.
The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday found Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique (ren-uh-LEEK’) guilty of medical malpractice and delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel.
An administrative complaint said Renelique was scheduled to perform an abortion on a teenager who was 23 weeks pregnant.
According to the complaint, Sycloria Williams gave birth at a Hialeah clinic after waiting hours for Renelique to arrive. A clinic owner placed the baby in the trash. Police recovered the decomposing remains a week later.
Renelique and his attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can agree as human beings that the revoking of a license wasn't appropriate in this case. The baby in the trash was murdered, and the clinic owner should be tried on a murder charge. Can you imagine a baby, just born, being left in a trash can until it dies? Sickening. In my book, you should be not only looking at a doctor who should never practice medicine again, but a clinic owner in prison for the rest of his or her life.

-- Jayson Larson, editor

Thursday, February 5, 2009

He's joking, right?

Rap star 'Lil Wayne said in an interview with Katie Couric that quote: "Music is another form of news. Music is another form of journalism."
I protest this statement on behalf of all respectable journalists. I know our numbers have diminished — to the point of near extinction lately — but come on!
Singing the events of your life and thoughts does not make you a journalist. At best, you are a singing blogger. I would like to see 'Lil Wayne try to string an intelligent sentence together, because his lyrics don't qualify. Neither does the interview, the man sounded high.
-Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shame, shame ...

Super swimmer Michael Phelps apologized today for getting caught hitting the hash pipe in front of someone with a camera and a hankerin' for making a little dough by selling said photo to a British tabloid.
Why does it seem that every time a super athlete does something super (Barry Bonds) enough for kids to really get excited about a sport (Marion Jones), that athlete then lets everyone down (Mark McGwire)?
We wonder what's wrong with kids today.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

You gotta have heart

Hats off to the Athens Lady Hornets for the effort they gave in Tuesday night's 50-38 loss to the Fairfield Lady Eagles at the AHS gym.
With leading scorer Alex Furr unable to play at 100 percent and only a few minutes due to an illness, the rest of the team pulled together and gave it everything they had.
Yes, in the end, they came up short. But it was inspiring to see them play their hearts out.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New additions


Inger, my beautiful German Shepard, had six equally beautiful puppies on Friday morning. I had so much fun just looking and playing with them over the weekend. It is amazing the difference motherhood makes in an animal. She was much quieter than normal and yet very protective. But she is still loving to her owners, and friendly to their guests.
Thanks dad for taking the picture for me!
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's the allure?

Watching halftime of last night Super Bowl I wondered (as I have many times before) what's so great about Bruce Springstein? My Dad (who is also not a big fan) said he was looked at as the common man when he first started making music. Basically, in a sea of over produced music Springstein came out with unpolished music. Now for the irony...he didn't have a big time hit until he bacame polished and over produced.

Here's another thing, all his songs pretty much sound the same, case in point at the begining of each of his four songs my Mom said, "Yes, Born in the U.S.A., I love that son." He didn't play that one. It would be nice if we could have a really good halftime show that is not over produced and has good musicianship. I.E. No actors dressed as referees please.

— Angela Weatherford, associate editor

Your favorite Super Bowl commercial?



Well, overall I was disappointed with Super Bowl commercials Sunday, but I did come to a realization: the visual effects that used to make the commercials so cool 10 years ago are commonplace now. We've even reverted to using 3D to try to wow viewers.
Still, two commercials were pretty good, in my opinion:
1. During the Super Bowl, the careerbuilder.com commercial was like a train wreck -- kind of like nails on a chalkboard, yet I couldn't look away. I've included the clip above. I spent the rest of the night walking by my wife and saying, "Hey, dummy!" Watch the clip and you'll get it.
2. Before the Super Bowl, the Doritos Beer flavored commercial. Probably one of the best of the day. The setup: a guy is pitching a new flavor of Doritos, and each chip has the equivalent of a 16 oz. can of beer embedded into it. So you've got to know it wasn't long before you saw someone's underwear. Again, included below.
3. One other note: Danica Patrick has repeatedly said she just wants to be a racecar driver and not a sex symbol. Her GoDaddy.com commercial, where she appears in the shower, shows otherwise. Show me the money!

What was your favorite commercial?

-- Jayson Larson, editor

It's about time

So the NFL Hall of Fame committee finally got it right over the weekend and selected former Dallas Cowboys WR Bob Hayes for induction. All I can say is it's about time.
"Bullet Bob" changed the game when he played for the Cowboys in the late 1960s and early 70s. His speed made man-to-man coverage ineffective and ushered in zone coverages.
Some of my greatest memories when the Cowboys were my team and my heroes are of Hayes streaking down the field well behind a defender to catch a pass for a touchdown.
Sadly, he died a few years ago and won't be around for the induction ceremony in August, but it's nice he will finally take his place among the greats of the game.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super duper bowl

Well, it wasn't an interesting matchup, but it was a great Super Bowl. I figured I'd be reading by halftime. Sorry to see Kurt Warner miss his chance at another ring, but it's neat to see Ben Roethlsigslsasgubasdraiwibwegioaberger win another one, too, while he's still young.
The NFL has to be pretty pleased: the last two Super Bowls have been great. Better than the last two World Series, for sure.
So what's a sports fan to do now in Tejas? Mavericks? Not until the NBA Lottery. Rangers? We didn't sign any pitchers, so we'll lead the league in runs again and be last in bullpen ERA and starters ERA and finish (drumroll please ...) third in the AL West this year.
There's always fantasy baseball.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Does it make sense?

Yesterday the Great Unifier, President Obama, told Wall Street firms that "now is not the time for profits." When I heard that, I did a mental double-take. Where does he think paychecks come from? A magic money tree?
A profit allows companies to stay solvent, employ more workers and pay more taxes. This is basic stuff, Mr. President.
I remember learning in history class about a group of students in the late 1800's who thought the rich were evil, and should be forced to relinquish their wealth to the "poor." Of course, the poor never saw the money because the leaders horded it.
Class warfare in any country, any century only breeds more poverty. Neither the poor, nor the government, create jobs and prosperity.
Good luck getting Obama to pay your mortgage.
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Friday, January 30, 2009

They're going to do what? ...

So the World Baseball Classic has announced it's got a brilliant idea to handle those extra, extra inning games. This, according to published reports:
" ... beginning with 13th inning, each half-inning will begin with runners on first and second base, with the batting order intact."
WHAT? WHAAAT!?!?
That's not baseball. I don't know what that is, but it's not baseball.
I've got a better idea. Why don't they just line up one player on third base, and then a player from the opposing team on first, and then let them simultaneously race to the plate. First one there wins it for his team. It makes just as much sense.
Now, I did hear one interesting suggestion on sports talk radio today: a home run derby. It would kind of be like a shootout in hockey. When you reach a certain inning in a tie, let them slug it out. Go 1-9 in the line-up, and the team with the most homers wins the game. At least it would be more exciting.
But artificially putting runners on base is just weird. You're actually going to have guys scoring runs that can't officially be accounted for in the score book.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

We have lost a sweet lady

We have lost a sweet lady with the death of Cleora D. Fleming, who was the longtime author of the Trinidad community newsletter in both the Athens Daily Review and The Malakoff News.
Mrs. Fleming loved Trinidad and Henderson County and was tireless in her efforts to make life better for others, time and again volunteering to serve on organizations and lead fund-raising campaigns.
She dearly loved her hometown of Trinidad and went out of her way to write the most complete community newsletter.
I will always remember her kindness and her smile that would light up any room she entered. Her visits to The Malakoff News office when I worked there remain favorite memories of mine.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is Sunday and it's a match-up nobody expected in December. I'll take the Steelers because of their defense but nothing in the NFL will surprise me anymore.
It's hard to belive it's been 40 years since the New York Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts(and the world) by winning the 1969 Super Bowl. Joe Namath told us it was going to happen and I thought it was possible that they could pull it off. What I didn't expect was the way the Jets won it. They methodically ground the NFL's finest into powder.
The 16-7 score is misleading-the upstart Jets dominated the game. It was the defining moment of Joe's career. His gimpy knees never allowed him to accomplish what he might have had he been healthy.
The losing coach in the game managed to overcome the loss and win a title of his own. Don Shula would soon jump to the Miami Dolphins and after stumbling against Dallas in 1972, coach the only perfect NFL season in 1973.
The Jets win changed perception of the AFL teams forever. They proved they could beat the old NFL's best, and do it when it counted most. The hully-gully image of the new league was changed by the Jets dominance in the trenches. Matt Snell rushed for more than 100 yards, and the Colts were held scoreless until late in the contest.
The next year Kansas City destroyed the Minnesotta Vikings 23-7 just to prove 69 was no fluke.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Too ... cold ... to ... go ... on


Holy cow it's cold this morning! As of about 9 a.m., it was still down to about 24 degrees. I'm told by one of our veteran reporters in the field (you may know her as Rhonda "Scoop" Garcia) that it was sleeting overnight, including 2 a.m. when it woke her up.
The cold weather is brutal, but nice. And maybe it means our annual February sprinkling of snow is coming, too.
Roads are pretty good. The worst report I'd heard this morning was that the bridges over Cedar Creek Lake between Seven Points and Gun Barrel City were pretty bad. Otherwise, everyone seems to be slowly getting around. Most schools open at 10 a.m. here, although I'm told most Navarro County schools (to our west) are closed all day. Lucky them.
Please, please, please be careful out there. Even though you think the roads aren't icy, they're still probably slick. And the loop overpasses here in Athens may still be dicey (and icy).
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keep firefighters in your thoughts and prayers



Heard on the radio this morning about the firefighters killed during a training exercise in Kilgore. They apparently fell eight stories to their deaths. It was a horrible bit of news.
Later, I was speaking with a police officer about the tragedy, and he was recounting to me how brave firefighters are. It was just another event that makes you stop and think about being thankful for what firefighters -- and for that matter, police officers -- do. Rushing into burning houses with the ceiling falling in on their heads ... walking up to vehicles on routine traffic stops never knowing who may try to pull a gun or get crazy. I actually went through a police simulator once. The simulator requires you to use discretion when using a firearm. About three or four times, I shot someone who didn't have a weapon just because I was jumpy and worried about getting shot myself. Cops -- good ones -- know they don't have that option.
Both groups, consequently, are highly scrutinized and don't get many 'atta boys (or 'atta girls, ladies). That's just the way it goes, but it doesn't make it any easier.
Thanks for all you do.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Friday, January 23, 2009

You never know

Seventeen years ago, this week, I took my first job in Henderson County——at a little radio station on State Highway 31. I lived in Tyler at the time and thought it would be a temporary move until I landed another job in Smith County.
I guess that's the way a lot of us make our longtime choices. We come to a fork in the road and say "I think I'll walk this way for a while."
One of my favorite poems is the one by Robert Frost where he stopped in the woods for a moment to consider which of two divergent paths he would take. He took the one where the snow was deepest and the woods were the thickest.
The point is, Frost made a choice. It wouldn't have been near as good a poem if he had said, "It looks like a lot of folks have been going this way. At least if I slide off the road, someone will see me and pull me out of the ditch."
So that's what holds us back in life———fear of ditches.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overview of day two


Day two of U.S. President Obama's administration has revealed some disturbing, but predictable, policies. He signed executive orders to shut down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, cease all "Black Sites" and stopped intercepting phone calls from known foreign terrorists (known in pop culture as Wireless Wiretapping).
I say these policies are predictable because when he was campaigning, then Senator Obama said he would take these measures. I am of the opinion that they are both dangerous and negligent. Apparently, our newly inaugurated President does not understand that we are in a war. I wonder if he, and those of his mindset, think if we quit the terrorists will do likewise? If so, he is terribly mistaken and the result will not be pretty.
We did not fight the terrorists before September 11, 2001, except for putting a handful on trial. They used this time to execute at least four cowardly attacks on citizens, and plot the mother-of-all attacks. This is a dangerous road we are now traveling, both regarding our national security and our economy.
As Betty Davis famously said "Fasten your seat belts, its going to be a bumpy night!"
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

A drive on 175

Highway 175 between Athens and Eustace has become a more pleasant and safer drive as the widening project continues near its completion. Shouldn't be much longer until its completely finished, which will then leave only the stretch from Eustace to Mabank (currently under construction) as the only one not four-laned between Athens and Dallas. I'm sure those who make the drive to and from the metroplex each day can't wait for that part of the project to be completed. I'm guessing it will shorten the drive time by a few minutes.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

And the Oscar goes to ...

Oscar nominations just came out this morning. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" leads the field with 13 nominations, including a Best Actor nomination for Brad Pitt.
I've always said Pitt isn't a great actor. He's eye candy. Just ask my wife. Or your wife. Or your mom or your sister.
But this is one movie I'd like to see. A lot of the other nominated movies also seem pretty interesting, including "Frost/Nixon" and "Slumdog Millionaire." There's another movie, "Milk," that's intriguing, as well. Sean Penn, I think, was nominated for Best Actor from that one. He's annoying, but not bad.
Has anyone seen any of these movies? Any recommendations?
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Disturbing ... FYI


Just saw this on Yahoo! News. I wondered if it was the worm that infected and killed my last laptop. It wasn't. Read carefully, friends. It seems the best thing you can do is run Windows Update (because there's now a patch).

"Judging from the complaints and questions filling my inbox, Windows security looks like it's already on track for its worst year this decade. The latest attack is a worm called Downandup, Downadup, Kido!, or Conficker (all the same thing), and it primarily seems to be being delivered via infected USB drives.

How's it work? By tricking you into running the virus by modifying the way "autorun" works when you plug in a drive. Look closely at the screenshot above and you'll see two entries for "Open folder to view files." The one at the top is a phony entry that actually installs the virus on your machine... but of course it's the default selection that pops up when you plug in a drive. Once installed, the virus spreads like crazy via a separate flaw in Windows networking system (now patched, so be sure to run Windows Update if you haven't lately) and can quickly infect a whole office. F-Secure has more analysis on the clever way it tricks you into installing the malware yourself.

How bad has it gotten? Estimates range from 3.5 million infected in the first four days after it bean spreading to 9 million impacted... and gettng worse. By now I figure the numbers could top 15 or 20 million.

From an antivirus standpoint, fixing Downandup isn't easy. The worm is particularly problematic because of the tricky way it involves the user in installing the software, bypassing auto-installation safeguards, plus its sophisticated way of avoiding detection, as it morphs its code constantly (using randomized elements) to make traditional, signature-based detection almost impossible.

Your best strategy for avoiding Downandup? Turn off AutoPlay/AutoRun on your computer (with Windows XP, TweakUI is the easiest way to do it). If you do see an AutoPlay dialog box like the one above, just close it and eject the disc or thumbdrive; browsing the drive manually for individual files should keep you uninfected, but you're best off not using the drive at all. And of course, make sure your system is fully patched via Windows Update.

What if you already have Downandup infecting your machine? Try your standard antivirus utility as a fix. If that doesn't work, F-Secure has a removal tool that should get rid of it. Good luck out there."

-- Jayson Larson, editor
PS -- All of the material inside the quotation marks was lifted from the Yahoo! News article.

That's my family...well, kind of



Growing up I had three comedic heroes: Lucille Ball, John Ritter and Carol Burnett. If I remember correctly I discovered them in that order. As long as I can remember I have watched, read and collected anything I could that dealt with Lucille Ball. Carol Burnett also looked up to Lucille Ball, and actually became good friends with her. So much so that Lucille (as she liked to be called) would send Carol flowers on her birthday. Lucille died on Carol's birthday and there is a story that Carol tells about receiving the flowers from Lucy on that day as always. She must have ordered them the day or two before. Kind of odd, but I like knowing that they were friends.
Now to why I have the clip of one of the Mama's Family sketches from The Carol Burnett Show. My Mom and I used to watch the Carol Burnett Show together everyweek in re-runs and everytime a Mama skit — as we in the know call them — came on we would die laughing and my Mom would say "That is just like my family." When I was talking to News Editor Rich Flowers about the skits he said the same thing.
That to me is the true sign of humor. Some people can watch a Mama skit and think that is so sad they don't communicate, they fight a lot, and Mama is so mean. However, if bet if you asked the characters if they loved each other they would say they do. Plus, in this particular example who has not had this experience when playing Monopoly. I mean seriously the game lasts an entire day and when you are losing it is the most depressing game ever.
— Angela Weatherford, Associate Editor

Cell phone ban

In tomorrow's edition of the Athens Review, we've included a story about the town of Southlake (as in Southlake Carroll, home of the team that seems to win state championships every other year). In Southlake, drivers aren't allowed to use cell phones while they are traveling in school zones.
Not a bad idea.
I don't see what that can hurt. Drivers will still be allowed to use hands-free devices, and a little inconvenience to make areas where schools are safer is OK by me.
Now, a councilmember in Southlake also said the city might consider banning the use of cell phones in vehicles altogether. Whoa there, partner. Let's not get crazy. That seems tantamount to banning radios in vehicles. Both can cause wrecks, but they're not inherently dangerous devices.
Only the operators who carelessly use them are.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

From the mouths of kids...

So after watching the inauguration all day at work I left to go pick up my kiddos from school. I started off the conversation the same as I do every day when I pick my kids up from school, so how was your day? Payden replied "it was pretty good." Then I asked "well what did you do today?" He said "Inguration stuff" (that's how he pronounced it). So I asked "well what did you think about all of it." His reply was "well did you hear the people laughing at the lady who read the poem?" I said "no" then he turned to me and said "the people were rude." So being the mom in me I said "PayBo sometimes people can be that way but as long as you act the way your suppose to others will follow." Then he says to me "mom did you see that guy who prayed I could hardly understand anything he said", I replied "at least you knew he was praying and who he was praying to."

It amazes me what kids think of, what they see. So we should all be good role models because when you think they aren't paying attention to details think again!

---Andi Green, Advertising Director

Monday, January 19, 2009

Big day coming

Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president tomorrow. I've heard 100,000 people crowded into D.C. Sunday for the big inauguration concert. More precisely, I heard it took about seven hours for the National Mall to fill up, and then about 30 seconds for 100,000 people to start leaving all at the same time once it was over. Crazy. Imagine what will happen when millions converge there ...
It's very cool local folks will be there to witness a great time in our history. I'd like to be there, too, but only in a floating bubble above the massive crowds.
I also wanted to plug Sports Editor Benny Rogers here. He wrote a column for our Tuesday edition about the inauguration. It's actually more of a good-bye to President Bush as it is a welcome to President Obama. But I'd urge you to read carefully what Benny wrote in regard to gracefully saying good-bye to the old president while welcoming the new president with respect -- even if you don't agree with the politics of one or the other.
Benny's column will run on Tuesday's editorial page, and we'll also have extensive coverage from locals who will be there as well as national coverage.
You'll be able to access the coverage on the Web as well at www.athensreview.com.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Justice

President Bush announced today he has (finally) commuted the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two border agents jailed for shooting a known drug dealer and coyote in the butt. All I have to say is, thank God he finally did the right thing. Our government owes those two men a huge apology. They were doing their job, not breaking the law.
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Super Bowl prediction ... massive lack of interest

Yeah, yeah, I know it's interesting to see Kurt Warner -- the 37-year-old Superman -- try to take the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals to an improbable Super Bowl victory next month.
And yeah, it would be interesting to see Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, goes for his second ring, as Warner will be doing.
But is anyone really really interested in seeing this Super Bowl? Come on, really?
Not really.
Maybe I'm just grouchy because I'm on Week 3 of the Larson Improvement Plan (which consists of 5:30 a.m. workouts and a reduced amount of chicken fried steak, chicken quesadillas and pizza (reduced = zero in this plan). But I just don't think I'll be able to get excited about this one. And I consider myself a pretty big sports fan.
Maybe it's because I don't have a dog (dog = Cowboys) in the fight. But I would have been a little more interested in seeing the Eagles and Steelers.
Oh, well. That's not going to happen. Guess I'll just eat my low fat cheese stick and water bottle and take in the first 20 minutes of the game before switching over to watch Survivorman re-runs.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why I love our town

My family and I were traveling to Tyler Saturday afternoon to try to get pet supplies to save the life of the family iguana, T.W. (stands for Tail Whip, ask my son why). As we headed up East Tyler, a friend of mine was walking home, probably heading from work.
"Honey, mind if I swing around pick this guy up before we get out of town? He's a friend. Super nice guy?"
She was fine with it, of course. So we swung the car around and headed back the other direction. By the time we reached the friend, another truck had already stopped and he was getting in. It took us all of a minute to turn around.
I told my wife, "How many towns can you try to offer a friend a ride and somebody else beats you to it before you can even turn around?"
Really, think about that. Athens isn't perfect. It's just more perfect than a lot of other places, including most big cities you'll ever step foot in.
I've been in other places, all of them relatively small and all of them pretty nice towns. But I'm glad I'm getting to raise my kids here.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Thursday, January 15, 2009

LIVE BLOG: Signing off from the Chamber banquet

Good food, good time. This year's 65th Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet was packed, and the award winners, again, were top notch.
Thanks to all in Athens who made this event great. Special thanks to Mary Waddell, the Chamber director, and her staff for helping us stay in the know about what's going on at the Chamber.
Also, I'd be remiss not to thank Athens Country Club GM Cyndi Davis, who helped us get our laptop connected to the club's wireless Internet connection.
If you'd like to comment on the blog, or have ideas about how to make it better, contact me at editor@athensreview.com. This is the second event from which we've posted a live blog, and we're working to get better at it.
Good night!
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: And tonight's big winner is ...

He was described as part Superman and part Energizer Bunny.
Those were the remarks given by last year's winner of the Citizen of the Year award, Jess Laird, about this year's winner: Gary Chasey.
He's worked with Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Jess Laird, last year's winner, said he and his wife have spent countless hours and driven countless miles to represent children. He's also an integral part of the Labor of Love project.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Chairman's Award

Her second time on stage, this time as an award winner: Meshell Scott (spelled correctly this time). Presenter, award-winner and, Mitch West tells us, she decorated the room.
She's a talented lady.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Ambassador Business of the Year

Mechelle Scott of Texas Trust has just announced Kathy Means of Kathy's Boutique is second runner-up for Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
First runner-up is Reuben Austin, of Texas Trust.
And the big winner of the night in this category is Kim Hodges, who I believe it was said is a two-time winner.
When we talk about the folks out there in the community getting things done, these are the folks who are talked about.
The Business of the Year, a family owned operation, is Cole's Air Conditioning and Appliance. If you're keeping score at home, chalk up another standing ovation. If you know the Coles, you know why.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Hanging on by a thread

Dr. Fred Hayes, superintendent of the Athens Independent School District, has taken the stage and my battery is at 29 percent.
Just kidding. Hayes announced the Teacher of the Year award, one of the headline awards of the evening. Campus teachers of the year (forgive the spellings if I miss one here): Mary Ann Tyner, Athens High School; Kim Mattingly, Athens Middle School; Nicole Mason, Athens Intermediate; Linda Mizzani (Linda, sorry, I know I botched your last name), South Athens Elemenary; Dawn Andress, Bel Air Elementary; and Keisha Garrett, Athens Annex. In a very nice moment tonight, the teachers were given the first standing ovation. They more than deserved it.
From that pool, Hayes then announced the district's Elementary Teacher of the Year: Dawn Andress, a second-grade elementary teacher, who herself was given a standing ovation.
From there, the Secondary Teacher was named, and also given a standing "O": Kim Mattingly.
Congrats, ladies. Well done.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: West honored just before break



Clint Davis, the Chamber board chairman for 2009, just called outgoing chair Mitch West back onto the stage. Davis presented West with a plaque.
Davis -- and promise, this is the last on his comments -- closed his speech to the crowd by talking about communication between agencies in the community. It's a good message. So many of these community agencies and organizations are working toward the same goal, namely, to make Athens one of the best places in Texas. That will be one of his main goals during his term as chairman.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: All right, funny guy

Clint Davis gets the gold star for first funny line of the night. As he was talking very favorably about the annual Athens Christmas parade, he said the following:

"That's bad if you have a fire, because we have every firetruck within 50 miles in our parade."

Nice bit of laughter from the room.

-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: This and that before the big awards

-- 42 new members have been welcomed into the Chamber this year, according to Mitch West. Members have hosted 12 business after hours, and the monthly luncheons continue to grow.
-- Also, West talked a little about the Athens Leadership Institiute -- 21 members of the community who participate in various functions to learn more about Athens throughout the year.
-- Outgoing board members were honored. They are: Past Chairman Kevin Lilly, Charla Till, Dick Grymonprez, Joe Warren, David Stewart.
-- The new chairman, Clint Davis, was then introduced. Davis, chamber chair for 2009 and Henderson County's county attorney, said this by far is a "significant increase" in what we've had at past years at chamber banquets. He talked about the chamber's goal to not only promote business, but to promote the quality of life in the community.
"Obviously if you enhance the quality of life in your community," he said, " ... you enhance the quality of your business in the community."

-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Dinner is served!

Aside from the mix-master type line that fed into the buffet table, dinner was wonderful. And for the record, that long dinner line was actually a positive -- there's a lot of folks here tonight. Seems that at the last chamber banquet, or maybe the one before that, the partition in the banquet hall was up. It's wide open tonight, with tables stretching nearly to the back wall near the bar.
So what was on the menu? Stuffed Chicken (that's Chicken Kiev to some of you), baked fish, broccoli and a vat of cheese and dinner rolls, of course. The food was super tasty. And lucky me, I'm trying to cut back on some of the bad stuff and had no problems at all.
Think we're about to get going ...
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Schedule of events

The buzz is starting to pick up. The welcome address is being given right now by Mitch West, who is noted that this is the 65th year for the chamber banquet. I think that's kind of cool.
And he just said he'd like to invite us to the buffet. That's kind of cool, too.
Thanks was just given to Marilyyn Wright for providing the music. She's wonderful, if you've never heard her play the piano.
Other dignitaries are also being recognized right now, including County Attorney Clint Davis, District Attorney Scott McKee -- who were recently sworn into office -- and other elected representatives. New Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt is here, too. Yes, Mayor Randy Daniel is in the building. And so are the other good folks from the city council.
Obviously, there's too many to list here. I just can't type that fast.
Time to eat.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Dining hall is filling up at Chamber of Commerce Banquet




It's five til 7 p.m. and I think we're about to get underway. Eating, that is.
I just got done making a trip around the room, including a stop in the silent auction area for the first time. As always, there are some very nice items. "Nice" means "cool" for the fellas, including a full golf package here at the Country Club, Athens Hornet football and athletic gear and a huge gas grill. My daughter would love the little pink tractor, by the way, if anybody wants to commit money online for me to make a bid.
Let me use that opportunity to say I'd love it if you guys out there have questions or comments for me or any of my colleagues at the Review during this blog event (there's eight of us here from the paper). You can post comments by clicking the "comment" button below each blog entry.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Some pretty cool items at the banquet



Well, we're now officially ... official. No more laptop worries. Well, maybe except a battery life that's now at 72 percent.
By the way, there are some very cool auction items. I've posted a few pics here so you can see them from home (wish you were here).
By the way, I'll be posting pictures throughout the evening, including pictures of the winners.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

LIVE BLOG: Athens Chamber of Commece annual banquet

Hello from Athens Country Club! I'll be keeping a live blog tonight from the Athens Chamber of Commerce Banquet, where our top citizen, top business, top ambassador and others will be honored.
There's also a silent auction that will be going on for about another 45 minutes or so, and in the meantime, beautiful music by Marilyn Wright.
One little thing ... we're having some technical difficulties and I'm typing from ACC General Manger has been kind enough to lend me her laptop to post this while she sets up my wireless connection. Good folks over here at the country club.
Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shameless self-promotion for The HC magazine

I'm locked down tight in my office right now in Central Athens proofing stories for the third issue of our quarterly magazine, The HC. We're very proud of this product.
I'm excited about this issue because each one has been better, and I'm eager to see where this one goes. But also, we have some pretty interesting stories coming down the pipe. I'm currently reading an article regarding Brownsboro ISD's Internet radio station. How many schools that size do you know that have an Internet radio station? I saw Perry Eaton, who pretty much heads up the program, broadcasting the Eustace at Brownsboro varsity game last Friday night. Perry's a great guy and familiar with a lot of folks in Athens.
This edition we will also get our first peek into a local home as part of a "beautiful homes" type feature. The idea is, we want to give readers an inside look into some of the most beautiful homes in Athens and the area. I think this will be a popular feature.
The third issue of The HC magazine is set to publish at the end of this month. If you have story ideas for the magazine, you can e-mail me at editor@athensreview.com.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Would you believe 51?

Athens Lady Hornet junior guard Alex Furr had a spectacular game Tuesday night at the AHS gym. She scored 51 points — yes, 51 — to lead the Lady Hornets to an 82-58 win over the Palestine Lady Panthers. She had 18 field goals -- 7 of which were three-pointers -- and was 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
I got to thinking about it this morning and that's the most points I've ever seen a player score in the 30-plus years I've been covering basketball. The previous most was 46 by Shalonda Enis(Celeste High School) against LaPoynor in the Region III-A championship game in Kilgore in 1993. Enis, of course, went on to start at TVCC.
Furr is no stranger to big scoring games, having scored 47 in a game against Rains earlier this season.
She could have easily had 60 last night. She left the game with 3:50 remaining.
It was a great show and I'm glad I had a front row seat to see it.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Name from the past

Received an e-mail yesterday from former TVCC head women's basketball coach Gary Ashlock. Still the all-time winningest Lady Cardinal coach with 281 wins, he is a professor at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Fla., where he had a successful stint as head women's basketball coach before retiring from coach in the late 1990s.
He was my JV football coach my freshman year at Malakoff High School, where he, of course, had a long and successful stint as girls basketball coach.
It was good to hear from him.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Spurlock will be missed

Like everyone, I was saddened to hear of the death of TVCC professor Dr. Terry Spurlock over the weekend. He was a dedicated educator and a good friend to many.
Having been a student of his in the late 1970s, I remember his classes being fast-moving and informative. He understood his students were more than just a name on his class roll.
Condolences to his family. Hopefully they can find comfort in the fact he touched and influence many lives in his 35 years at the college.
He will truly be missed.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Familiar face on TV tonight

Just noticed where the St. John's women's basketball team will be playing on TV tonight (Tuesday) against Georgetown in Big East Conference game. So what, you ask?
Well, it's a chance to see a familiar face. Our very own Danny Hughes is in his first year as an assistant coach at St. John's.
Danny, of course, is a product of Cross Roads High School, where he was an all-state performer in the mid 1980s. He went on to star at TVCC and TCU before returning to Cross Roads to serve as athletic director/head boys basketball coach from 1992-2000. He then was Leon Spencer's assistant coach at TVCC for five seasons and Joe Curl's for three seasons at the University of Houston before heading for St. John's.
The game begins at 6 p.m. on CBSCS, which I believe is Channel 152 on DISH.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crying? No, there's no loyalty in baseball

I came in to work this morning to hear the perplexing news: Rangers shortstop Michael Young has asked for a trade. Turns out the Rangers, wanting to move up prospect Elvis Andrus for next season, asked Young to move from short to third (which also shows you Hank Blalock's future here).
Remember when A-Rod came to Texas earlier this decade? He played shortstop, and being a team player -- which he is -- Young volunteered to move to second base. He wasn't the world's best, but he was an All-Star caliber second baseman.
So when A-Rod took our money and ran, Young moved back to short. We rewarded him with a monster contract, well deserved.
So the Rangers reward his loyalty, standing out at short in 110 degree weather watching balls land in the gaps or worse, by asking him to move again -- and this time not for a future Hall of Famer, but for a kid with no real big league experience. And let's be clear: Young isn't costing the Rangers five games a year playing bad defense. He's pretty solid.
Young should stand firm. I don't blame him for not wanting to be a part of this franchise anymore. It's getting hard to be a fan, too.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guess who's back?

Talked to Clyde Alexander tonight. Alexander, as you might remember, is a former Athens resident who served in the Texas House for 14 years, a time that included a fairly lengthy stint as chair of the Transportation Committee. This weekend he officially was offered and accepted the chief of staff position for State Rep. Joe Straus, who is expected to be elected speaker of the Texas House this week.
Anyhow, Alexander sounds ready to be back in politics. He's been in and around it for quite some time and apparently just couldn't get too far away. So if that's the case, he should have all he wants and more.
What's interesting about this to me is he's a Democrat, although some might say a moderate Democrat, while Joe Straus is a Republican. But the two are apparently good friends. Here's to hoping the two of them can heal some of the wounds left by Tom Craddick, who was a very effective politician who burned a lot of bridges.
Check out our online and print editions of the Tuesday Review for an interview with Alexander. I haven't seen any comments of his in print just yet, so maybe we'll be the first to let folks hear from our former state rep. and his new gig.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We've officially entered the twilight zone


Barack Obama will appear in a Spiderman Marvel Comic. Yes, you did read that right. The soon-to-be president and the anti-arachnophobic college photographer (I think that is the correct comic-book-hero-backstory) are friends from way back. According to an Associated Press article, Obama read Spiderman comics while he was growing. Now Marvel has decided to pay the president-elect back with his very own comic book cameo.

Hey, I read Archie comics as a child, does that mean I can hang out with Betty, Veronica and most importantly, Jughead? Probably not, after all I am just an Associate Editor at a community newspaper.

Now to the most important question — if Barack Obama is Spiderman's sidekick in ink, does that mean the red-tight wearing superhero will make a trip to Washington D.C. to save the economy? I hope the answer is yes, because then we (Americans) could have a classic theme song to sing each time a smarmy politician is taken down or the national deficit drops. Here's the jist of it: (I know you know the melody) "Spiderman, Spiderman come to save the economy; the market drops that's okay, it was saved in Spiderman's web; Wherever there's a market crash, you'll find Spiderman."

— Angela Weatherford, associate editor

Top workout songs

No, I didn't make a New Year's resolution, but I am trying to turn over a new leaf as far as losing weight. I've got plenty to lose.
I seem to really feed off the music on my iPod. Certain songs give me a lot of energy, others I use during a cool-down phase (I've included one of the fast tempo songs below in the playlist.com player). There are 203 songs on my iPod, but believe it or not, I'm getting tired of rolling through the same songs.
If you've got ideas for good workout songs, that'd be great. But more than anything, I guess the message here is that when your workouts get kind of mundane, don't stop. Try adding songs or switching playlists. I find the new songs are kind of envigorating.
— Jayson Larson, editor


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oklahoma vs. Florida

The Oklahoma Sooners and the Florida Gators battle for the BCS championship Thursday night in a game with plenty of marquee value. While plenty of fans will complain that a sizzling Southern California or undefeated Utah should have been invited to the dance it Sooners—Gators has the makings of a thrilling match-up.
Still, one of my problems with the bowl set-up is that instead of watching battles between two teams hitting on all cylinders we see teams that have not played in a month. The Sooners and Gators revved their engines through the last few weeks of the regular season and their respective title games only to idle for a month.
I remember hearing NFL coaches complain that the two weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl were detrimental to the game because it took teams out of the rhythm they had established throughout the year. When Texas played Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, both had been off for more than five weeks.
Years ago, the pollsters knew this and chose the national champion before the bowls. That's how Notre Dame piled up 5 titles despite a 40 year bowl embargo that ended in 1970.
If OU and Florida give us a great title game it will be a tribute to the teams and athletes on hand, not the flawed system.
Rich Flowers News Editor

Why won't he go away?

Our good old buddy, John McCain has decided to start a political action committee called "Country First." The foremost Republican in Name Only actually said the purpose is to promote "Republican causes and candidates and work to help the GOP redefine itself."
Mr. McCain, you have done plenty to redefine the Republican party and I ask you to leave us be. It is because of your unwillingness to confront your opponent's ineptitude that he will be inaugurated in a few weeks.
Just melt away from political life into the desert sunset of Arizona.
Lauren Ricks Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who's No. 1? We'll never really know

Just got through reading a blog on the Dallas Morning News Web site. There, a staffer pretty much said voters in college football wouldn't agree with University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy's assertion that no team in the country could beat the Longhorns right now.
UT lost one game this season, to Texas Tech. Tech ended up with two losses.
Oklahoma, which is playing one-loss Florida in the BCS college championship game Thursday, only lost one game, too — to the University of Texas. Hmm.
I'm not going to rehash the same old argument about who beat who and who's cheating who and who don't even care anymore. But I am saying this: college football is super entertaining, but for the players, it's something akin to gambling.
Division I (or whatever they're calling it these days) college football is the only league that I've ever heard of where you can win all your games and not be crowned a champion. Utah finished 13-0 this year, probably won't finish ranked higher than third or fourth, below teams that will all have one loss.
This isn't a rant insisting Texas should be in the title game, because, as I said before, how do you pick who the best 12-1 or 11-1 team is?
As Jim Mora once infamously said (and now says in perpetuity on beer commercials): PLAYOFFS!
Please, for the love of Pete, institute a playoff system in college football before I die! That way, 13-0 Utah gets a shot at UT in a national semifinal. USC gets a shot at Florida or Oklahoma in another. Then, the two best teams in the tournament play for it all.
It's still shocking to me major college football doesn't do it this way. It's the one place where, when coaches tell their players to leave it all out on the field, their efforts may not necessarily matter.
—— Jayson Larson, editor

Late night worth it

My guess is there will be more than just a few of us operating on just a few hours sleep today -- if that much -- after the Fiesta Bowl last night. The game went down to the end with Texas pulling out a 24-21 win over Ohio State in dramatic fashion. If you're a Texas fan like me, you no doubt spent an hour or two psyched out of your mind after the game and sleep was the last thing you cared about. By the time I finished watching all the postgame coverage and press conferences on ESPN News, well it was close to midnight. In less than three hours it was time to get up and come to the office. No problem. Hook 'em Horns!!!
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cold day in Athens

So the First State Bank time and temperature tele-lady says it's 39 degrees right now. Man, I'm a wuss. My guess would have been about -9. It's cold. But it's East Texas cold. I'm sure someone in Green Bay, Wisc., is out mowing in this weather right now.
How cold is it? I waved at an electric company employee driving by in my truck earlier today, and he just looked at me -- no nod or wave back, as is standard in these parts. But you can't blame the guy. His hands were in his pockets, and who knows how long he'd been outside.
I'd keep my hands in my pocket, too.
-- Jayson Larson, editor