Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pitt to the Big 12?

No way, you say? It could be yes way.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes there is at least one report indicating that the University of Pittsburgh is a legitimate candidate to join the Big 12.
According to the Texas-based Rivals web-site Orangebloods.com, Pitt has quickly become the top target of the Big 12 conference, which is looking to add teams to replace Colorado, Nebraska and now, Texas A&M.
The site said Pitt and BYU are the two teams the conference is most interested in adding.
A Pitt spokesperson didn't exactly slam the door on the Panthers jumping from the Big East to the Big 12, but if the athletic department leadership is considering a conference move, then wouldn't it make sense to determine first if the nearby Big 10 has any interest? Or, perhaps the geographically logical ACC should be offered an opportunity to have the conversation?

Then again, perhaps the university has sent out such feelers and didn't like the reply.

The University of Kansas is a member of the Big 12, and the newspaper that most closely covers the Jayhawks' athletic teams is the Lawrence Journal World. It argues that the Big 12 ought to not only snag Pitt but also multiple members of the Big East.
So far, the Big 12 has been raided three times, losing Colorado, Nebraska and soon Texas A&M and hasn’t raided any other conference.

Time to assess the national landscape, identify a vulnerable football conference and raid away. Before any Big 12 institutions seriously consider how they might fit into the Big East, first look at how a few Big East schools might look in the Big 12. Figure out a way to bring Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia to the Big 12 before the Big Ten decides to expand again and does the same, or adds Syracuse instead of West Virginia.
Why not explore adding Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia before taking the less aggressive step of simply adding Houston and moving ahead with a 10-team conference?
Remember if the Big 12 adds the three schools then those programs would enjoy the financial windfall that a conference football championship game brings. In the eight-team Big East that cannot happen. Moreover, the quality of football top to bottom in the Big 12 is superior to that in the Big East and such an affiliation could aid Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia in recruiting.

Let's imagine the Big 12 having a two divisions in football that shaped up like this:

NORTH
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Pitt
Rutgers
West Virginia

SOUTH
Baylor
Missouri
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Texas
Texas Tech

Sure, top to bottom the league is weaker in football when compared to its original 12-team alignment (which included Colorado, Nebraska and Texas A&M, presuming of course that the Aggies do work out a financial arrangement to leave), but it does improve its overall men's basketball picture.

In the past, the league has used Dallas and Kansas City as the sites of its football and basketball championships. Perhaps Pittsburgh can become one of the rotating sites to assist the eastern-based schools in generating fan interest, but I cannot see that being a divisive issue.

So, perhaps Pitt in the Big 12 isn't as farfetched as you might think.

Texas A&M is outta here!

Well, almost. As the Associated Press reports, the university announced today what has been clear for several days -- it wants out of the Big 12 Conference.
Texas A&M dealt a blow to the Big 12 Conference Wednesday, saying it plans to leave by July 2012 if it is accepted by the SEC or another league.
The move, which had been expected, may set off another round of conference realignments in college sports. The Aggies have made it clear they want to join the 12-member Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 said again after the announcement that it will move swiftly to find at least one replacement for the Aggies.
University president R. Bowen Loftin notified the Big 12 in a letter and said departing the league "is in the best interest of Texas A&M." He said he hopes the move can be amicable and presumably hopes to negotiate a reasonable exit fee.
Texas A&M, which has been in the Big 12 since the conference's founding in 1996, said it will submit an application to join another, unspecified conference. If it is accepted, Texas A&M will leave the Big 12, effective June 30, 2012.
My guess -- and that's all it is -- is that the Southeastern Conference leadership told Texas A&M officials that the Aggies will be granted membership in the SEC once it dealt with the various issues associated with leaving the Big 12. You'll recall earlier this month that Texas A&M appeared to force the issue of joining the SEC by asking to join the league. At the time, the SEC said "no," but it also made clear that it would leave (wide) open the question of expansion.

Is Texas A&M's departure a sure thing? Probably, presuming an agreeable exit fee is established, and the Houston Chronicle reports that the SEC sees advantages to the Aggies in the conference.

The SEC is expected to announce A&M’s entry as its 13th member in the coming days, putting the wraps on a whirlwind month in Aggieland. A&M will end a 16-year run in the Big 12 next summer, and intends to play football, volleyball and soccer in the SEC starting in the summer of 2012.
“We are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement. “This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically. Texas A&M is an extraordinary institution, and we look forward to what the future may hold for Aggies worldwide.”
Recognizing that the SEC wants Texas A&M, this blogger also is guessing that the conference has identified a couple schools that could become member No. 14. The even number makes scheduling and a host of issues more manageable. If I'm correct -- and I have no evidence to support that I am -- then it should not be long before the additional schools begin to appear in media stories.

Let's also leave out whether the Aggies' decision is the right one; we know in the college athletics universe that exists today that programs are searching for the biggest pot o' gold they can find, and in doing so issues such as tradition are tossed to the side of the road.



President Obama is playing politics

And you can decide whether he should be.

The White House announced today that the president has asked to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday night in order to layout his jobs plan.

The New York Times outlined the president's plan in this news alert it sent at 12:53 p.m. EDT:
President Obama is requesting a joint session of Congress for next Wednesday — at 8 p.m., exactly the same time as the scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens — to give a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy.

In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said it is his “intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans.”


That Mr. Obama was going to make his speech next week was expected. But it is remarkable that he would choose to do so in such an elevated setting, and at the same time that Republican candidates for president will be laying out their own vision for how to get the country out of the economic doldrums.
Indeed, on that evening, the Republicans who want to replace Mr. Obama are gathering in California for one of their debates. Though he didn't use that as a reason, House Speaker John Boehner asked the White House to move the address to Sept. 8, as Politico noted in one of its alerts.
House Speaker John Boehner rejected President Barack Obama's request to address a joint session of Congress the night of Sept. 7th and invited him to speak the next night instead.

In a letter to Obama, Boehner said Sept. 8th would be better "so we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks."
Now, you know and I know there are no "parliamentary or logistical impediments" on Sept. 7; Mr. Boehner simply doesn't want to give the president the spotlight on the night Republican presidential hopefuls thought would belong to them.

Perhaps the White House goofed, forgetting about what was taking place on Sept. 7? Uh, huh. Sure it did. The Washington Post makes clear that such mistakes never happen.
Strategists spend hours poring over every word a president utters, every policy position he takes and every state he visits, a level of attention to detail that makes happenstance virtually nonexistent.
And so, when the White House announced today that President Obama would deliver his much-anticipated jobs speech on Sept. 7 at 8 pm — the exact same day and time that the 2012 Republican candidates are scheduled to debate in California — the idea that the timing was purely coincidental was, well, far-fetched.
It’s clear that this White House saw an opportunity to drive a major — and direct — contrast between President Obama and his potential Republican rivals and took it.
It is common for the White House to request a date and time for an address to Congress, but CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller "tweets" that such protocol was not used this time: Boehner aide says WH didn't try to negotiate time for speech before going public w its request.

The White House should have known better. In my opinion, whether it requested that night is irrelevant -- it set up a showdown with the Republican Party that it didn't need. It also gives off the impression, again in my opinion, that it is worried that the Republican bashing of the president will have some traction with the public.

It should have asked for a different night and a different time. However, it is now in a no-win situation -- it can back down (and look weak) or it can move the address to another location (thus denying the president the ability to address the Congress). Remember, a president requests the opportunity to speak to Congress; it does not dictate when it will happen.

Petty politics here, ladies and gentlemen. I expect more from this administration. 

There will be no merger of AT&T and T-Mobile...

...if the federal government gets its way.

As the New York Times reports, the Justice Department announced today it is seeking to block the planned merger of the second- and fourth-largest cellular phone companies.
AT&T said it would fight the lawsuit. “We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed,” the company said in a statement. “The D.O.J. has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive effects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.”
AT&T said it had no warning that the government was going to file to block the merger, because it has been actively involved in discussions with both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission since the proposal was announced in March. AT&T has indicated that it would consider some divestitures or other business actions to allow the deal to go forward.
But Justice Department officials said that those discussions led it to believe that it would difficult to arrange conditions under which the merger could proceed. “Unless this merger is blocked, competition and innovation will be reduced, and consumers will suffer,” said Sharis A. Pozen, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.
The question of what's next is examined in this Bloomberg story. Mother Jones notes the immediate fallout from the government's decision.
Back in July, AT&T—which has spent millions in lobbying and campaign contributions in support of the deal—filed a report with the Federal Communications Commission claiming that the merger would result in lower prices, increased service in metropolitan areas, and 5,000 new, "in-sourced" jobs, Bloomberg News reports. But the DOJ begs to differ, alleging that the merger violates anti-trust law. Removing a low-cost carrier like T-Mobile from the market would result in drastically reduced competition, less choice, and higher prices for wireless customers, the Justice Department argues.
AT&T has plenty at stake if regulators strike down the deal. AT&T shares fell by 5 percent after the suit was announced. And if regulators reject the merger, the company would have to cough up $3 billion in cash to T-Mobile's Germany-based parent company. It would also have to hand over wireless spectrum, among other things, to T-Mobile, in a package valued at $7 billion.

Shame on you, University of Kentucky athletic department

Well, this is certainly one way to get the media riled up -- pick on a student reporter.

And that's what appears to have happened at the University of Kentucky, where the athletic department has revoked the media pass of a student reporter for not going through proper channels as he sought to interview two members of the men's basketball team.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the decision already is being judged as illegal.
DeWayne Peevy, UK's associate athletics director for media relations, rescinded an invitation to the Kernel's basketball writer for the interviews after learning that he had contacted two students rumored to be walk-ons this fall on the basketball team. The reporter, Peevy said, broke the university's unwritten policy barring media from interviewing student-athletes without first going through UK's media relations teams.
The decision to ban the writer "is so clearly a violation of First Amendment rights for the university to condition access on gathering or publishing information the way the university wants you to do it," said Kentucky First Amendment lawyer Jon Fleischaker.
The dispute began when Kernel sportswriter and managing editor Aaron Smith found the phone numbers in UK's student directory for walk-ons Brian Long and Sam Malone after seeing them named in a post on Kentuckysportsradio.com and mentioned in a Twitter post by UK freshman basketball player Anthony Davis. UK basketball coach John Calipari has since posted on Twitter that the two are indeed walk-ons.
The story did appear in the student-run Kentucky Kernel.

The Kernel also is posting various reactions to the decision, and one of them came from Mr. Peevy:
Peevy told the Kernel Monday evening that there was no written policy about contacting Media Relations first, but reporters knew that was the preferred method. Later, Peevy tweeted a photo of a written policy.
The potential for this story to blow even more out of control than it already is obviously is there. I think there is at least one way to solve the problem: First, the athletic department makes states clearly and in writing what its procedures for interviewing student-athletes are. Second, representatives from the athletic department sit down with the student newspaper to explain why the decision to revoke credentials was made. Third, the paper reports what took place in that meeting, which needs to include an apology from the athletic department and an "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause any trouble" from the reporter.

The bottom line in this -- the reporter didn't know he goofed, and the athletic department should have reacted much differently to it. The power trip looks amateurish.

Your last chance to get an HP TouchPad...

...is coming.

But there are a host of unanswered questions associated with HP's decision to produce one last batch of its TouchPad, which rapidly sold out earlier this month when the company slashed the price to $99. (The price cut was due to the decision to stop producing the product.)

The company made the announcement of the final TouchPad production on its Website, but you can't blame media who cover the tech industry, consumers and investors who are a bit confused when they read:
Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand. We don’t know exactly when these units will be available or how many we’ll get, and we can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase.  
Now, if I knew I'd be one of those people who could get one....

For Jon Huntsman, it might be now or never

He's surrounded by fellow Republicans who are more vitriolic. He's a moderate at a time in which GOP voters appear to want raw, red and partisan meat. He's down in the polls.

So, does former Utah governor Jon Huntsman have any chance to make his mark in the race to be the GOP presidential candidate?

The next few days could give us the answer.

As the Washington Post reports, Mr. Huntsman is unveiling his jobs plan later today, which could -- emphasis on the word 'could' -- provide him a needed boost of attention.
“We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products,” Huntsman will say, according to excerpted remarks. “It’s time for ‘Made in America’ to mean something again.”
Meanwhile, as the Los Angeles Times notes, Mr. Huntsman also could be aided by a "Super Pac."

GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman is the latest candidate to get the backing of a tailor-made "super PAC" -- complete with top-tier talent formerly with his official campaign.

Fred Davis, the GOP ad man whose off-kilter contributions to the political lexicon include "
demon sheep," has signed on to the newly formed "Our Destiny PAC," which filed papers with the Federal Election Commission last week and includes, among its officials, an executive from Huntsman Corp., a global chemical company owned by the candidate's father, Jon Huntsman Sr. Politico reported today that the corporation said it has no affiliation to the PAC.

Davis, who was with the official Huntsman campaign until he resigned on July 27, will "be an important part of the PAC's team," according
to the group's website. The move, first spotted by Real Clear Politics, gives Davis a bigger piggy bank to play with, as independent-expenditure groups are allowed to solicit unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions.
Give credit to Mr. Huntsman (and for that matter Mitt Romney as well) for not seeking to be someone he's not in order to jump start his stalled campaign. He's not slinging mud and otherwise demeaning others, in an attempt to get support. That strategy might not win him a campaign, but it will demonstrate that you need not surrender your gentlemanly status in order to seek higher office.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Texas A&M moves closer to saying "see ya, y'all" to the Big 12

The clock that represents how much time Texas A&M has left in the Big 12 Conference is about to strike midnight.

The signs that the university is planning to exit the conference (and likely seek to join the SEC) are everywhere, and as ESPN reports the announcement could come this week.
Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin had a phone conversation with Missouri chancellor and Big 12 Conference board chairman Brady Deaton on Monday night about his university's desire to withdraw from the conference, a Big 12 source confirmed to ESPN's Joe Schad on Tuesday.
Texas A&M could send its formal, written letter of departure as early as this week, the source said. The only holdups are threats of litigation by Big 12 members and the need to clarify exit fees.
A university spokesperson earlier today denied that an exit letter was sent to conference leaders, but the tenor of the conversation suggests the message is "no, we might not have sent it today, but we very well could be sending it tomorrow."

The Associated Press reports that Big 12 leaders are already scouting out possible replacements for Texas A&M. One school has made its interest public -- SMU. There is no certainty that only one school would be added; the conference leadership could opt to return to 12 teams by offering invitations to three schools.

No parking? I quit!

A political science professor at a Canadian university has quit his job. As the CBC reports, years of being driven to frustration about an inability to find a parking space led to the decision.
"For a guy like myself that lives in Lower Sackville, I have to get on the road around 6:30 to 7 to get an assured parking spot somewhere so I can get here to teach at 2:30 in the afternoon," said Middlemiss, an expert on Canadian defence policy.
"It's ridiculous, in my view, and the university just keeps pretending that it's not the problem that it is."
Middlemiss said parking has always been a problem at Dalhousie. But this time, he simply had enough.
"I went straight upstairs, I said, 'I'm not kidding this time, I don't have to put up with this. I'm resigning,'" he told CBC News.
Dalhousie, in south-end Halifax, has 2,000 parking spaces for 17,000 students and 3,000 employees.
The man sounds reasonable, but I can't help but have the "you know what really grinds my gears" episode of Family Guy in my head. I could come up with other such puns, but I'll reverse my thinking and not get keyed up.

NBC will offer all London Olympic events live

Too good to be true?

Nope, it's true. The Associated Press has the details.
For the first time, the network plans to show every event live in some form - even if it's just raw video streaming online. But the prime-time broadcasts will still use that traditional formula of human-interest features and taped competition.
Ah, the perfect opportunity to skip the gibberish and billions of ads during the prime-time shows!

A Sept. 11 TV archive...

...is now online.

It's worth a look.

They got him

The Los Angeles Times reports that a former NBA player wanted in connection with a deadly shooting in Atlanta has been caught.
Former Laker Javaris Crittenton was arrested Monday evening at John Wayne International Airport on a murder warrant in connection with a slaying in Atlanta, the FBI said.

He was taken into custody without incident by a fugitive task force of FBI agents and Los Angeles Police Department officers, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. He was being booked Monday night by LAPD officers. Crittenton, 23, allegedly shot Jullian Jones, a mother of four, on Aug. 19 as she stood outside her home with two other people, authorities said.
The story also notes that Crittenton likely was intent on shooting someone he believed had stolen jewelry from him but shot Ms. Jones on accident.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Would you give cancer drugs to a dying man?

Undoubtedly, yes.

Now, would you do it if that man were Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of blowing up a U.S.-bound airplane that killed 270 people?

The Daily Mirror reports that al-Megrahi's family has made such a request to the British government.

Just yesterday, the National Transitional Council said it will not send al-Megrahi to Scotland, where he was released on compassionate grounds in 2009. At the time doctors said he had only weeks to live. Today, as the New York Times notes, the Scottish government supported the NTC's decision.
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, said that based on statements from the Transitional National Council, the new interim government of the Libyan rebels, it was clear that “following their own laws, there was never any intention of agreeing to such extradition,” nor was there any plan in Scotland, which had jurisdiction over Mr. Megrahi’s trial, to demand extradition.
The developments touched on one of the most abrasive issues in years to emerge between Britain and the United States, and threatened to reignite anger over the case on both sides of the Atlantic.
Despite the comments from Scotland, the U.S. asked Libya to re-examine the al-Megrahi case.

Mrs. Qaddafi is in Algeria

But as this New York Times alert (which was sent at 2:28 p.m. EDT) notes, the whereabouts of her husband remains a mystery:
The wife and three children of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi fled to Algeria on Monday, the Algerian Foreign Ministry said. It was the first official news on the whereabouts of any members of the Qaddafi family since he was routed from his Tripoli fortress by rebel forces a week ago, a decisive turn in the Libyan conflict.

In a brief announcement carried by Algeria’s official news agency APS, the ministry said Colonel Qaddafi’s wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, “entered Algeria at 08:45 a.m. (0745 GMT) through the Algeria-Libyan border.”


The announcement gave no further details. The whereabouts of Colonel Qaddafi himself remain unknown, along with those of his other sons, most notably Seif al-Islam, his second-in-command; Khamis, head of an elite paramilitary brigade; or Muatassim, a militia commander and Colonel Qaddafi’s national security adviser.

Michele Bachmann: Earthquake and hurricane were calls from God

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann was in Florida over the weekend. There, she suggested that the weird weather week -- including an earthquake and a hurricane -- were calls from God to America's politicians.
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
Let's give credit to the reporter who covered her appearance in Florida. There was no hyping her comment; it was not made the focus of the story. Instead it was reported in proper context in relation to the rest of the story. 

The National Geographic Television interview with President Bush...

...was outstanding.

I learned a nugget or two about the 9/11 attacks that I had not known (President and Mrs. Bush and their dogs were rushed to a secure bunker in the White House on the night of Sept. 11, 2001 after an Air Force pilot inadvertently had set his transponder to the wrong frequency as he flew over Washington), but I was impressed by the images to which the filmmaker had access.

The still photos of Mr. Bush flying over the Pentagon and New York City in the aftermath of the attacks provided stark evidence of a man who shared the disbelief, the pain and the uncertainty that Americans also felt.

The still photos of Mr. Bush inside Air Force One as he traveled from Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska and finally Washington on Sept. 11 also showed snippets of a man working with his staff to formulate any kind of response to what had taken place in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania.

The video images -- especially of Mr. Bush exiting Air Force One after it had brought him home -- also left me stunned by what the filmmaker had available to him.

I don't know if National Geographic Television intends to air the program again, but you can access video and photos from the link provided in this sentence.

Historians, critics and others will dissect the program more carefully than I have for its content, what was said, what was omitted, what was new information and what was contradictory. I'll be interested in reading those. But for me, as someone with a television background, the images aided the story that was told. And told well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

And what are you studying?

I confess -- the academic load, physical responsibilities and acceptance of their post-graduation commitment ensure that I have a deep respect for the men and women who attend our military academies in New York, Maryland and Colorado.

To give you a sense of what their lives are like, I share with you a Facebook post that appeared tonight:
Facebook friends and family, I’m Midshipman 1st Class Carolyne Vu and now that the storm is finished I just wanted to share with everyone that the academic year at the Naval Academy is off to an eventful start! This semester my classes are Principles of Propulsion (Thermodynamics), Weight Training, Anglo-American Literature, 18th Century Literature, Creative Writing, and Law for the Junior Officer.
Remember, those are her classes. Impressed?

Some "interesting" reactions to Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene began her assault on the eastern seaboard late Friday and she continued to leave a large swath of destruction through the weekend. Tonight, she's been downgraded to a tropical storm as she exits the United States and moves into Canada.

I'm baffled by the number of people who via Twitter, Facebook or other mechanism are offering sarcastic reactions to what took place over the weekend. Consider just some of these tweets I've come across today:

 
Told you that was not a bfd
 
At last, no more inane Irene coverage
 
Yes, New York City and its immediate environs were spared the brunt of the storm, but that was not the case in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer notes what eight inches of rain caused.
Flooding still threatened residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey today, even as Hurricane Irene was well past the area.
Irene dumped up to eight inches of rain on some parts of the area, chasing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and from shore vacations. Thousands ended up in temporary shelters.
Most of the high winds never materialized, even though strong gusts were reported. But, as of this evening, the most serious result of the storm was flood water, rising alarmingly fast in some places.
The storm already has left 180,000 homes in Quebec without power. Millions in the United States are in a similar fate, and there is no firm timetable for when the power will return.

And yet there are those who will tell you that the hurricane was a whole lot of nothing, a waste of time or another effort by the media to scare the public.

Perhaps those who are being so snarky ought to instead be thankful and perhaps even chip in to help those whose lives are in various states of disrepair. And then they should take the time to read this editorial from The Economist.
Hurricanes are serious business. They have the capacity to cause billions of dollars in damage and kill hundreds or thousands of people. They have political consequences, too—no politician wants to be blamed for a disaster the way President George W. Bush was after Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, it is very unusual for a hurricane to hit America's north-east, where around one sixth of Americans live and a quarter of the country's economic output is produced. An unusual, potentially disastrous event that was certain to affect millions of Americans and put billions of dollars of property at risk is just the sort of thing the media should be covering. Just because Irene wasn't the disaster that some Americans feared doesn't mean it wasn't important to cover it.
Although the media's coverage of Irene may have seemed wall-to-wall, Nate Silver, the New York Times' in-house statistician, says that, according to his research, "Irene received only the 13th most media coverage among Atlantic hurricanes since 1980," and that "Hurricane Gustav in 2008 received at least as much coverage as Irene and Irene may wind up causing as much or more damage." It's good news that Irene was not as devastating as some feared. Extensive media coverage meant people were more aware of the oncoming storm and better prepared to deal with it when it hit. That's a good thing, too. Remember: 19 people are dead, millions of people are without power, and there is widespread flooding and property damage across over a dozen states. People complaining about the "hype" are missing the point. Americans should be thankful the storm wasn't a lot worse.
So, spare me (and others) your sarcasm.

The Lockerbie bomber will live out his days in Libya

The National Transitional Council -- the de facto government of Libya -- announced late today that it has no plans to hand over to the West the man convicted of blowing up an airplane and killing 270 people.

Reuters reports that the NTC's justice minister made clear that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi will remain on Libyan soil.
“We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West,” Mohammed al-Alagi, the NTC justice minister, told reporters in Tripoli. The NTC became Libya’s de facto government after rebels streamed into the capital last week, overthrowing leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again ... We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gaddafi does,” Alagi added.
Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with cancer, served eight years in a Scottish prison for orchestrating the bombing of the Pan Am passenger plane which blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 killing 270 people.
He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds after doctors gave him only months to live.
CNN reports it has tracked down al-Megrahi, and he is near death.
CNN found al-Megrahi under the care of his family in his palatial Tripoli villa Sunday, surviving on oxygen and an intravenous drip. The cancer-stricken former Libyan intelligence officer may be the last man alive who knows precisely who in the Libya government authorized the bombing, which killed 270 people.
The decision by the NTC -- regardless of al-Megrahi's medical condition -- is certain to be debated in the days to come. However, if he was released to his native Libya two years ago, then why should anyone believe that he ought to be handed over again? Because he lived longer than he was expected to?

The mistake -- if that is the proper term -- in releasing him was made in Scotland and by Scottish leaders; whether they did the right thing can still be discussed, but it cannot be in the context of returning al-Megrahi there.

Let's acknowledge that the man did something horribly wrong. Let's acknowledge that he has been convicted of it. But let's also acknowledge that once the Scottish government sent him home, the issue of where he would serve the remainder of his sentence was moot.

No, don't fault the NTC today; fault the Scottish government for what it did then.

Would you give up $800,000...

...so that kids could get a better education?

This man is.

As the academic year at Point Park University begins...

...I wonder what it has in store.

This year, just like each that has preceded it, is sure to have its surprises -- the student who gets the internship that was unexpected; the colleague who finds an intriguing research opportunity; or a trend in higher education that few predicted are some of the many possibilities.

This year also will have its so-called repeat events -- watching students moving from 'I think I can' to 'I know I can'; students sitting in faculty offices taking stock of why they are majoring in some form of communication; and writing those letters of recommendation are going to happen.

This academic year is different for me on a couple fronts. First, after consecutive years of having one-year administrative appointments, I return to the faculty ranks. Those administrative experiences were invaluable and I appreciate that the School of Communication's Founding Dean, Dr. Tim Hudson, afforded me the chance to serve in those roles. I hope I represented the School well.

Second, I have assumed the co-editorship of the academic journal Electronic News. The two men who founded the journal -- Charlie Tuggle and Bob Papper -- invited me to serve as book editor for two years before offering me the co-editorship because of Dr. Tuggle's decision to step back from his role. Needless to say, this opportunity has rekindled the research fires that often get cooled while serving in administration.

And so, the new academic year begins. Who knows what kinds of stories will be written between now and early May, when commencement signals the end of the 2011-12 academic year.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Winnipeg and Calgary?

I'm not sure who would have believed that as the CFL season approaches its midway point that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Calgary Stampeders would be the league's top two teams.

But they are, and each has a chance over the next couple weeks to solidify their place at the top of their divisions and the power rankings.

What follows is my weekly power rankings (with last week's ranking in parentheses):


  1. Winnipeg (1), 7-1: This team finds a way to win. Week 10 at Saskatchewan.
  2. Calgary (3), 6-2: The hottest team in the CFL could effectively win the Western Division over the next two weeks. Week 10 vs Edmonton.
  3. Montreal (2), 5-3. Hard to believe but if they lose to the TiCats next week, they’ll be in third place. Week 10 at Hamilton.
  4. Hamilton (4), 4-4. A loss to Winnipeg and now two straight against Montreal. Week 10 vs Montreal.
  5. British Columbia (5), 2-6. A home and home series with Toronto means the Lions have a chance to put some distance between themselves and the Riders. Week 10 at Toronto.
  6. Edmonton (6), 5-3. Three straight losses before the bye; now two straight games with the Stamps. Perhaps the Esks haven’t hit bottom yet. Week 10 at Calgary.
  7. Toronto (7), 2-6. A home and home series with British Columbia means it’s now or never for the Argonauts. Week 10 vs British Columbia. 
  8. Saskatchewan (8), 1-7. Was it the coach or the players? The first chance to answer that comes with two straight against the league’s best team. Week 10 vs Winnipeg.

If you had to assign reporters to cover Hurricane Irene...

...then where would you send them?

One of the challenges television news managers face each day is how to assign their precious-few reporters. The unfortunate reality today is that there are never enough reporters to be at every important location where news is taking place. Granted, in situations that exist along the eastern seaboard today, all hands are on deck and every available person finds himself or herself covering some aspect of the hurricane.

So, if you were in the role of a news manager today, where would you assign your reporters? Let's presume you have four reporters and you can station them anywhere within 50 miles of the Washington D.C. area. Where, in your opinion, are the most critical places?

The projections call for the worst of the storm to hit your area in the overnight hours, so with the evening approaching you are going to have to consider the safety of the men and women you dispatch.

Would you assign someone to either of the vacant airports or the vacant Union Station? A major U.S. metropolitan area is without two of its essential transportation services -- flight and train -- so perhaps a discussion about that is necessary?

What about one of the city's landmarks? Remember that the Washington Monument was damaged a few days ago because of the earthquake. How about someone there to discuss whether the pounding rains and winds might do further damage to that national landmark?

What about to the south of Washington? The first significant blasts from Irene will hit there -- and perhaps an hour or more before they get to central Washington. You can't concentrate just on Washington; remember, you have a significant viewing area to cover.

Would you send someone to a relief shelter, especially if you knew that one was filling up? There will be plenty of good stories to tell, as people relate to your reporter their thoughts and fears as they get ready for what might be the worst weather phenomenon of their lives.

If you said "yes" to each of those scenarios, then congratulations! You have assigned four reporters to four different locations. However, you've placed one in a place where nothing is happening -- an airport or train station. You've placed one in the National Mall, which also will be empty. It also will be getting harder and harder to see; so as your reporter continues to cover what is (not) happening there, he or she will be a solitary figure with nothing but blackness in the background. You assigned a third person along the water -- just like every other news station is doing. And what exactly will those video images look like at 11:00 tonight? Your fourth person is now stuck, for lack of a better term, in a closed environment.

Time to re-think your plan?

Maybe. Maybe not.

My point here is that critics are going to examine the choices you made, and those critics include your competition, journalists who follow the television industry, the public and more. So, make the decisions that you believe to be right and that can be explained and defended.

After that, turn your people loose and let them do their job!

Mother Nature

Watching various news reports as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene continues its assault on the U.S.' eastern seaboard, I am reminded just how magical she is.

Yes, at moments such as this -- when Mother Nature's wrath is on display -- appreciating what she can do might seem illogical. (And, sure, it's easy to write that now while I'm in sunny Pittsburgh.) However, seeing the pounding surf, high waves and intense rain, I see nature's beauty at work.

My wife and sons (I think) chuckle every time a thunderstorm hits where we live because it doesn't take long for me to step out onto our small, covered porch and feel the wind and the rain, while listening to the thunder and watching for the lightning. (Yes, when it gets too close, I head inside!)

You'll recall that two winters ago the so-called "snowmaggedon" hit western Pennsylvania and many areas around it. Though my back certainly didn't enjoy digging out from it, I enjoyed the white wonderland that effectively shut down this part of the state for a couple days.

If I have one gripe with Mother Nature, it's heat. I'm not a summer person -- heat and humidity leave me drained and feeling uncomfortable. I say that knowing full well that my wife relishes the warm, sunny days that make up summer. Good for her; you can give me a crisp 50 degree day and I'm quite content!

Yes, over the next couple days, we're going to be reminded of Mother Nature's fury. But in all that energy, I see reasons to appreciate and admire her.


Is Qaddafi relevant?

In much the same way that over time Osama bin Laden became less essential to track down, now it is Moammar Qaddafi who day-by-day becomes a less essential figure.

Yes, killing bin Laden was symbolically important; his death provided an element of closure for the families who lost loved ones almost 10 years ago, but it also was a symbolic destruction of al Qaeda. (Let's be clear -- al Qaeda is not dead.)

Where is Qaddafi? is a question that has been asked many times over the past week. On the run and acting as a cowering animal would, Qaddafi is no longer a dictator who controlled Libya for more than 40 years. The National Transitional Council has been recognized already by multiple nations, and at some point in the near future one of its representatives will assume the formal role of leader.

Of course, capturing Qaddafi (killing him and finding him already dead also are options) remains of symbolic importance; that action would confirm that he no longer controls the levers of power that allowed him to intimidate his people for so long. However, the longer he remains the on-the-run wimp (oh, and by the way, where is his oh-so-confident son, Saif al-Islam?), the longer he confirms that he is not relevant to the future of Libya.

Friday, August 26, 2011

As the college football season rapidly approaches...

...a second look at the Moretti Pre-season Top 25. Remember that the comments following each team are as they were on July 20; I haven't moved any team up or down since then, but in some cases I've made a new comment. If that has happened, it is in italics.

25. Texas. Mack Brown recruits too well and is too good a coach to keep the Longhorns down. This team has enough talent and a favorable schedule to finish much higher than this.

24. Arizona State. Dennis Erickson has to produce results, and quickly. If this team crashes and burns, he's gone.

23. Georgia. Perhaps no coach begins the season with a hotter seat than Mark Richt; the Bulldog faithful are fed up seeing other SEC teams win national championships.

22. West Virginia. This is the best team in an otherwise mediocre conference. The Mountaineers need some time to heal from an emotionally draining coaching situation.

21. Florida. The Gators could go 9-3 or 7-5.

20. Miami. If Randy Shannon recruited well, then Al Golden will be the beneficiary. Right now, however, the Hurricanes do not appear to match the talent and depth of Virginia Tech. Now it appears that the Top 25 for Miami is a mirage. This might be the most difficult team to assess at the end of August, but a stay in the Top 25 seems unlikely.

19. Auburn. This fall will be a lot quieter on the Plains.

18. USC. The countdown to the end of probation continues. Believe it when the Trojans say winning the conference is their national championship.

17. South Carolina. The Gamecocks will try to pound their opponents into submission, and they don't play Alabama or LSU during the regular season.

16. Notre Dame. One more strong recruiting class and the stellar coaching of Brian Kelly means the fight will be back in the Irish.

15. TCU. The Horned Frogs won't blast teams as they did last season, but they're going to win a bunch of games again.

14. Michigan State. An immensely tough road schedule separates the Spartans from the top 10 and a certain date in the conference title game.

13. Nebraska. There are 11 other teams hoping that the Cornhuskers first season in the Big 10 doesn't end with a conference championship. They could end up frustrated.

12. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are good enough to finish higher than this, but their difficult schedule could knock them down much lower than this.

11. Virginia Tech. The recipe in Blacksburg doesn't change -- a stout defense, an opportunistic special teams and a methodical offense guarantees a 10-win season. But this is no longer the class of the conference.

10. Ohio State. Under much different circumstances, this team would be ranked among the top 5. A potential bomb from the NCAA wasn't dropped, so the Buckeyes season could be looking up.

9. Wisconsin. If the new guys on the offensive line come through, the Badgers could wind up ranked higher than this.

8. Stanford. Can a great quarterback propel a very good team in an average conference into the national championship conversation? Keep an eye on Palo Alto for an answer.

7. Texas A&M. The Aggies have the swagger of a team that believes it is very good. Will the inevitable distraction of what conference the Aggies will be part of damage this season?

6. Boise State. If they beat Georgia in early September, the Broncos will face one significant test the rest of the way -- Nov. 12 against TCU.

5. Florida State. It didn't take long for Jimbo Fisher to turn this program once again into a national contender. If the new quarterback comes through, look out.

4. Oregon. With the NCAA snooping around, the Ducks might want to win that national championship quickly.

3. Oklahoma. The Sooners couldn't possibly get to another national championship game only to get whacked. Right?

2. LSU. Because the Tigers play Oregon plus the immensely deep SEC West, they could lose two games and still be in the national championship conversation. The prospects for a championship season dimmed in late August with the arrests of multiple players. A loss to Oregon could start a slide down the rankings.

1. Alabama. The Crimson Tide's second string would wind up somewhere in the Top 25.

Got (a football) game? Then cancel classes!!

The University of Utah has an upcoming Thursday night home football game. And because of it, the university is cancelling classes that evening.

Needless to say, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, not everyone on the campus is happy with that decision.
To avoid campus gridlock, University of Utah administrators have canceled classes on the afternoon and evening of Sept. 1, when the Utes make their debut as a Pac-12 football program.
“It’s a recognition of the reality that the stadium is now filling for every game,” said David Pershing, the U.’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “Any game that occurs on weeknights gives us huge parking and transportation issues. Last year [for the Sept. 2 game against Pittsburgh], we did not cancel classes and it proved to be a nightmare.”
Pershing, who announced the cancellation on Wednesday, stressed that academics remain more important than athletics at the U., but some faculty were not pleased with the precedent it sets.
“I don’t like the message it sends,” said Jay Jordan, an assistant professor of English. “We are going to use the academic schedule to accommodate football.”
But student president Neela Pack noted a precedent was set for accommodating rock ’n’ roll when classes were canceled for the U2 concert last summer.
“It would be counterproductive [to hold classes] when there’s so much noise, traffic and people missing,” she said. “It’s an understandable thing. A majority of students will be at the game.”
A majority of students will be at the game? Hmmmm. According to the University of Utah's athletics website, the Utes' home stadium holds 45,017.  And according to the university's information page, the student enrollment is 31,000.

For a majority of students to be there, that means more than 1/3 of the stadium would have to be filled with students. Am I the only one who thinks that seems a bit high in today's let's-maximize-income-by-selling-season-seats-to-the-general-public strategy?

However, the far more important issue here is whether the university's administration did the correct thing in shutting down the university to accommodate a football game. There's only one answer to that -- no.

New York City preps for Hurricane Irene

It might be the city that never sleeps, but tomorrow New York City will be the city without mass transportation. The New York Times sent this alert at 1:38 p.m. EDT:
With Hurricane Irene pushing relentlessly toward the East Coast, officials made plans to shut down New York City’s sprawling subway and bus system beginning at noon on Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

The commuter rail lines that serve Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut will also be shut down.


Officials decided to go ahead with the transit shutdown, which they had first mentioned on Thursday as a possibility at a City Hall briefing on Thursday, as the city was evacuating hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas. State officials continued arrangements for coordinating emergency services and restoring electricity if the storm does the kind of damage many fear.
In a separate story, the newspaper adds that mandatory evacuations of the city's coastal areas are soon to begin.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation — something he said the city had never done before — of coastal areas in all five boroughs, including all of the Rockaways; Battery Park City and the financial district in Lower Manhattan; and Governor’s Island. The evacuation covered 250,000 people in and around what the city calls Zone A low-lying areas who, the mayor said, should get out before the storm swept in.
“You only have to look at the weather maps to understand how big this storm is and how unique it is,” the mayor said at a news conference, “and it’s heading basically for us.”

This is my day

School of Communication faculty meeting this morning... university-wide faculty meeting in the afternoon... convocation after that. Yup, academic year has begun!

More blogging tonight!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If Texas A&M appears so committed to leaving the Big 12...

...then can someone explain to me why the conference leaders simply vote to ditch them? Say, now?

There is little doubt that Texas A&M's administrative and athletic leaders believe that the university's future will be better served elsewhere. About two weeks ago, there was a chance the Aggies would leave the Big 12 for the SEC; however, SEC leaders opted to not expand. For now.

Since then, Texas A&M's leaders have left little doubt that they want to move the Aggies. In fact, just today, as ESPN reports, they told Big 12 officials that they continue to explore their options.
Texas A&M says if it chooses to withdraw from the Big 12, it will do so in accordance with Big 12 bylaws, and would be supportive of the Big 12's efforts to secure a new member in the conference.
"As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the state of Texas. This truly is a 100-year decision," Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a release. "While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically."
Would the SEC's leadership accept Texas A&M so soon after rejecting the school? According to the New York Times, the answer appears to be "yes."
A high-ranking SEC official said he did not expect any movement on Texas A&M within the next week, because he said the university was busy working out the legal issues involved with leaving the Big 12.
“They have to unencumber themselves from the Big 12,” the official said.
There have been some recent voices opposing the move, including from Vanderbilt, but it does not appear that enough resistance has been built up to prevent it from happening.
“I think it’s a matter of timing and substance,” the SEC official said. “Who is it and when is it done? I don’t think the SEC has any strong opinion against expansion. Likewise, we’re not under any pressure to expand.”
Perhaps the Big 12 leadership ought to give Texas A&M exactly what it wants -- a (Texas-sized boot) kick out the door. Instead of being held up by legal machinations, perhaps this ought to be settled in a Texas kind of way: "Y'all want out? Then, y'all are out."

Dare the Texas A&M administration to sue for breach of contract. Dare the athletic department to cry foul.

It seems to me that if Texas A&M doesn't want to be part of the Big 12 (which has only 10 schools, but let's not go there again), then give it a swift kick in the butt and send it on its way.


Getting ready for the hurricane

Mother Nature -- in the form of a hurricane named Irene -- appears ready to pound the eastern seaboard over the next couple days.

One of the good things, if such a term can be used, about hurricanes is that you always know where they are, and they also allow meteorologists and others to project where it might head next. Of course, in discussing "what might happen," those forecasters need to make educated guesses -- they don't know with 100 percent certainty where a hurricane will go.

It is in making those forecasts that meteorologists are at times questioned (or more harshly stated, faulted) by the public. "Do they really need to scare us?" is the often-heard complaint. "Oh, come on, it won't be that bad!" is another. "They're talking about it just to attract viewers!" is yet another.

Having worked in more than one newsroom, I can tell you with confidence that meteorologists do not attempt to scare and do not attempt to downplay/overstate what might happen. Neither do politicians, emergency officials and others who are charged with making decisions about evacuations and other preparations. Such people in multiple states are taking a proactive approach about Irene tonight; they'd rather be safe than sorry.

If you live in the "cone" where Irene might hit, you'd be wise to heed the warnings. If you're not, you'll hear a lot about Irene over the next three or four days. And as you do, remember that the uncertainty about where she might go, and what death and destruction she causes justifies the media coverage.

The "r" word

There is perhaps no worse decision an academic journal editor has to make than to retract an article that has appeared in that journal. InsideHigherEd.com reports today that the "r" word is happening more and more often.
Data from Thomson Reuters indicate that there was a 15-fold jump in the number of retraction notices between 2001 and 2010, from just 22 in 2001 to 339 in 2010. In the first six months of 2011 there were 210 retraction notices, suggesting that the numbers are continuing to climb.
I assumed the co-editorship of the Electronic News journal a couple months ago, and at a recent academic convention I attended I learned about at least two recent cases of retractions in journals relating to mass communications.

The suggestion that academicians are well-versed in ethics, law and other such disciplines, and therefore would not resort to such shenanigans as cheating, attempting to write what is essentially the same paper in two academic journals or plagiarizing is specious.

What's wrong is wrong.

Did HP goof in ditching its personal-computing division?

Hewlett-Packard sent a shock wave through the computing industry late last week when it announced it was doing away with its personal-computing division.

Much has been written in the past week about the decision. Today, the Financial Times is the latest to chime in; and, true to its style, it's less than impressed. Columnist John Gapper writes that no amount of spin-doctoring at this point can save HP from a poorly timed decision.
Even if the new strategy is vindicated, which it may eventually be, he needlessly alienated investors by thrusting so much unpalatable information and future uncertainty on them at once. He should have taken things steadily rather than making a big bang.
Perhaps, but the New York Times reports that the decision might not be a "big bang".
...it’s not hard to see the trends behind the revised thinking at the Silicon Valley headquarters of H.P., as the company retreats from PCs to focus more on selling more profitable data-serving computers and specialized software to corporations and governments — the so-called enterprise business.
Yet H.P.’s strategy also has a familiar look. It’s I.B.M.’s strategy, but embarked upon years later.
A fresh piece of evidence for the logic of an enterprise-first strategy came Tuesday evening. IDC reported that server computer shipments in the second quarter of 2011 increased 8.5 percent and revenue rose 17.9 percent from the year-earlier quarter. By contrast, PC shipments for the quarter inched up 2.6 percent in the quarter, while revenue rose 6 percent.
One potential suitor was thought to be Samsung, but today it indicated it's not interested. "Not interested" also is the way to describe one industry critic's opinion of HP's $99 sale on its basic tablet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This sports fan is in a funk

The past two days have not been good to this sports fan -- two of the titans of sports, because they qualify as people I admired when I was a kid, have been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

On Tuesday, legendary University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt announced she has early-onset dementia. Considering that at least one of my aunts suffers from dementia, I can tell you that I feel terrible for Coach Summitt, her family and her players.

I don't know how the disease will affect her over the next few years, but I do know that Coach Summitt will fight it like a tiger. This New York Times story captures the essence of who she is, and will continue to be.
Summitt overcame athletic inequality with a stoicism and determination that came from growing up on a farm in Tennessee, chopping tobacco and baling hay as part of her sunup to sundown chores while her father admonished, “Cows don’t take a day off.” Basketball games were played at night in a hayloft with her three older brothers.
“They would just run over me,” Summitt said in a 2008 interview. “But that was O.K.”
She would not be run over for long. At 22, Summitt became head coach at Tennessee, barely older than her players. Thirty-seven seasons later, she has won eight national titles and more games (1,071) than any major-college basketball coach, man or woman, while avoiding scandal and graduating the vast majority of her players.
“In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women’s sports — Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt,” said Mary Jo Kane, a sports sociologist at the University of Minnesota. “No one else is close to third.”
I have always admired Coach Summitt. I don't know her, and I never had the chance to interview her when I was in the sports broadcasting world. But from my outside looking in position, she did things the way they should be done. She won. She played by the rules. Her players succeeded inside and outside the classroom. She was, in other words, a model of how college coaches should behave.

I wish her the best. 

Late tonight (U.S. EDT), I learned that former Major League pitcher Mike Flanagan was found dead. Though the police are early in the investigation, there already are reports that Mr. Flanagan took his own life. His most successful years as a pitcher came when I was a kid; and he was one of those few pitchers I could watch every day.

I dreamed of being a pitcher as a kid, and Flanagan was certainly someone worth studying. He was not tall. He wouldn't blow 100 mph fastballs past hitters. But he won. And he played in the era before baseball was tarnished by the temptation and ultimate disgrace that was the steroid era. From my perspective, he was someone I wanted to be.

Moreover, he played most of his career for what at the time was one of the most respected teams in Major League Baseball -- the Baltimore Orioles.

The Baltimore Sun examines what Mr. Flanagan meant to the team and to the city.
Flanagan, who was in his second year as a color analyst for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, spent more than 30 years with the Orioles as a player, coach, front office executive and broadcaster.
Selected by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 1973 amateur draft, Flanagan went on to pitch 18 major league seasons, including parts of 15 with the Orioles. He was a key member of the 1983 world champions, going 12-4 with a 3.30 ERA in the regular season and winning Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox.
The left-hander won 141 games in his Orioles career, including an American League-leading 23 in 1979, when the Orioles lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.
Flanagan won the American League Cy Young Award that year as the league's top pitcher and finished sixth in Most Valuable Player voting.
College and professional sports often attract attention for what the coaches, players, managers and others do wrong. Ms. Summitt and Mr. Flanagan offered reassurance that the news wasn't always bad and that good people could make their mark.

I know I'm not alone in thinking that if there were some way to erase the reports over the past two days about Ms. Summitt and Mr. Flanagan that humanity would be better. Instead, they serve as important reminders that some athletic heroes do live up to that admiration.

Steve Jobs has resigned as head of Apple

Politico sent the following breaking news alert at 7:02 p.m. EDT:
Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple CEO. In a letter to the Apple Board of Directors and "the Apple Community," the tech visionary writes: "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee. As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple. I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role. I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

An approval rating of 19%

If you are a politician, then an approval rating is an important barometer of what the public thinks of you.

The mayor of Pittsburgh enjoys (if that's the correct term) an approval rating of 19%. That's right, less than one in five people is in favor of how he's doing. KDKA-TV reporter Jon Delano reported the story.
In Pittsburgh, only 19 percent of city residents approve the mayor’s performance — with 48 percent disapproving — and 33 percent have no opinion.
Outside the city, 20 percent approve of Ravenstahl’s conduct — 45 percent disapprove — and 35 percent have no opinion.
Ravenstahl gets his best approval ratings from those who live more than a hundred miles from Pittsburgh.
Some 31 percent of those who don’t live nearby approve his work — 21 percent disapprove — and 48 percent have no opinion.
If Pittsburgh had two strong political parties, then the mayor might have to seriously worry about whether he would be able to remain in office beyond the next election. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh has been dominated by one party -- the Democrats -- for about one-million years. If a Republican had a chance to win the mayoral office, then the politics in this city might be a bit more interesting than it is.