Monday, February 28, 2011

Unfinished Business for Kentucky & America

Sometime this spring Kevin Bales will speak in Louisville, and receive U of L's Grawemeyer award for Ideas Improving World Order...and $100,000.

His revolutionary idea?? End slavery. A sociologist, Bales started looking into this when he heard there were a million slaves in our world. He didn't believe that was true, but his research led him to believe the number is closer to 27 million!

These include people forced to work on farms without pay, and in mines and brothels. Every now and then such "slaves" turn up in the US, usually immigrants..and not all illegals. And occasionally American citizens are found to be working for far less than the minimum wage under intolerable conditions-- usually in agriculture--and long before our economy tanked. (We journalists date our modern social awareness of this situation from CBS's "Harvest of Shame" documentary by Ed Murrow, over 50 years ago. Periodic checks find many of the conditions he found then still exist.)

This year begins the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. As Kentucky "observes" (not "commemorates") various events in connection with the War of the Rebellion, I'm sure we will hear many arguments the war was not about slavery; it was about States Rights. Do not be misled. States Rights was merely a code phrase for.."y'all can't tell us what to do with our slaves!"

Bales talk hopefully may dwell on that. In the meantime you may wish to check out his 2007 book which led to the award.."Ending Slavery."

Because slavery is still with us.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 21, 2011

S-E-X beats Presidents' Day

If this truly were our Presidents' Day (and week) I would probably comment on them. But it's another of those artificial holidays created by Congress, not truly to honor anyone but to provide a 3 day weekend for everyone--including Congress ---so SEX wins.

Besides, I've been wanting to comment on Karen Sypher and now that she has been sentenced, I can.

Ah, Karen--our very own Kentucky sex symbol...those golden tresses, tight clothing, ruby red Cupid's bow lips, and heaving bosom with that "come hither" look...for her age, a true knock-out of a gal.

And, oh yes, a very checkered past.

All probably unknown to the married Coach Rick when he threw "family values" to the winds and engaged in sex, consensual or otherwise, on that famous restaurant bench after hours. For 15 seconds, as one of them said.

She was charged, not with any sexual offense, but with conspiracy to extort money from him for that act, and the evidence indicates clearly she was guilty. He was charged with nothing (though there are some old laws under which he could have been charged I'm sure) and he was guilty of the sexual encounter; he said so.

Charge the UL coach in Lou-ah-vul? Shirley you jest! Did UL even slap his wrist? Nope; that was too much to ask..and probably mirrors what UT did to Bruce Pearl (not much in my view) months later for very different but also serious offenses. (Hey, winning coaches are in short supply.)

Extortion in her case being a federal offense, our sex symbol was charged in federal court..and the feds piled on. Time after time they made sure Ms. Sypher knew she was playing in a man's game. The feds ought to have been charged with unnecessary roughness, but then she might have done worse in a state court, given the ire of Cardinal fans.

So, justice, as charged, triumphs. The guilty Ms. Sypher gets the minimum sentence--87 months, probably so the judge can avoid being accused of being too harsh in her appeal. And our hero coach goes free.

As I figure it, she got 6 months in prison for every second of her intercourse with Pitino. No other Division One coach can make that claim.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Will CentrePointe be our Tahrir Square?

Both are the hearts of their respective cities; both have seen tremendous changes recently. And protests. Especially protests. Now what?

The last update on the official CentrePointe website is this 2009. Surely we deserve better than this?

Will the Webb Companies ever tell us who the shadowy financier of this downtown project is? Or admit there never was one? (Our real problems might come if they ever do come up with the money.)

Will we learn from this experience to get our zoning laws improved? Will we stop bending over when developers say.."Stoop!" Will we insist on more information BEFORE the city gives approval? Will we listen more to preservationists? (but also realize that not every crumbling facade needs to be saved just because it is old!)?

Will we ever learn that "change" does not mean "progress!" Progress is good change; there is a value judgment to be made.

And what will we citizens insist be made of our Tahrir Square?

How about a new central park, with art..maybe even a BIG public art item, such as Chicago's Picasso sculpture? Or Seattle's gnome that eats a VW? Or a huge horse such as Lou-ah-vul's Pegasus? And a place to hold an annual Spotlight festival? A bandshell, picnic tables, and so on. Maybe even underground parking.

Or will this be the site of the UNneeded new Rupp Arena, as some wags have suggested is the REAL motive behind the Webb Companies' proposal?

Or the new city hall?

Will our Tahrir Square ever amount to anything?

At the very least Mayor Jim Gray should call for a public contest for ideas.

(We can get that IdeaFestival back.) The winner gets: naming rights. Ok, maybe nothing, but let's get going on some ideas here. Almost anything would be better than the status quo.

In the meantime, let's protest. How about a FlashMob at the Square, instead of Al's or Busters! Let's take our example from the truly inspired, brave, young protesters of Tahrir Square. They risked all.

All we risk is the status quo...the muddy, soggy, empty, ugly status quo.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 7, 2011

The "Baddy" awards---Lexington's worst commercials

The Super Bowl often airs tv's most creative, unusual, and, yes, best commercials. But this week, 2010 being over, I want to observe our town's worst commercials for last year, for whatever shame they may take from that award.

I never thought that nasal sing-song "where price sells cars" would be less than #1 on my list, but it dropped into 5th place last year. American Freight soars to the top of my list with its totally unnecessary, ear-shattering spots. These people obviously think we are hicks and rubes if we fall for these..and since the store is still in business, maybe we are. Lexington tv managers do NOT have to air these spots; they could insist the volume be turned down for failure to meet advertising standards..but nope, short term greed outweighs long term standards and the tv medium has been debased by accepting these spots..debased for all the other more legitimate sponsors. They should object.

Then there's the furniture store whose spots feature the owner's kids jumping on beds, and lolling on couches, etc.etc.etc...I think I know why they are featured, but I have seldom liked such "family" spots on tv, and I think these exploit those children. Besides, why should we expect good advice on buying furniture from kids?

And the rug store that tells us not once, not twice, but three times (or more, seems like it) that such-and-such is "FREE"..and it isn't. You have to buy something before you get all these "FREE" things..and that is not my definition or Webster's ("without charge") of "free."

And the home security service whose spot is deliberately designed to appear as if is a legitimate interview on a noon show or early morning newscast. The guy even says to the lady interviewer "thanks for having me." Thanks?? He's paying for the spot, she better have him on. Once again, our tv stations are misleading viewers by airing commercials that appear to be real program interviews; they aren't. (Short term greed again, versus long term respect for the medium.)

Which brings us to the year-in, year-out Baddy Award.."where price sells cars." I guess it works, because one of the better dealer's commercials tells us it isn't price that sells cars at his place...but it's annoying as hell and has long since worn out its welcome on my screen. I won't be buying my Toyota at this dealer, lowest price or not.

Those are my 5 Baddy Awards for 2010. I'd be pleased to receive your nominations in case I missed some really terrible ones. And keep your eyes and ears alert during 2011. Unfortunately, bad taste never seems to go out of style.

I'm just sayin'...