Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winners and Losers for the week

Winner of the week: Lakewood Baptist Church members in Ohio
This is from in Cleveland.
LAKEWOOD -- Some kids in Lakewood went to bed on an empty stomach Friday night, knowing that they wouldn't eat again for another 18 hours. Three children, members of the Lakewood Baptist Church, are participating in an international 30-hour fast to raise money and awareness about children living in poverty around the world.

Church members lit 600 candles to symbolize the estimated number of children who die of hunger every 30 minutes. Eleven-year-old Sarah McKissock is one of the children going without food for 30 hours.

"It's unthinkable that so many children are dying," McKissock said.

During the fast, the kids will put together care packages for the needy at a food pantry and make blankets for children who are seriously ill.

What a great thing to do for people they don't know.

Yesterday, I volunteered at my church with the Fish Fry. I have always wanted to do volunteer work and this was a good chance to do something, to get involved.

Loser of the week: Kanye West
This has been reported in several media outlets. Here is US Magazine's version.

Kanye West's controversial comments during a Feb. 13 taping of VH1's Storytellers will be cut before the show airs this Sunday, Reuters reports. The rapper defended Chris Brown, downplayed Michael Phelps' controversial pot pics and slammed Radiohead during the show's three-hour taping on Feb. 13 in L.A.

In the style of Storytellers episodes, VH1 filmed West -- known for his outspoken personality -- as he played his songs in an intimate setting and shared tidbits with the audience about how they were written. His controversial comments ended up on the cutting room floor, but not for political reasons, executive producer Bill Flanagan told Reuters.

"Can't we give Chris a break?" West said to the crowd regarding Brown's arrest for allegedly beating his girlfriend, Rihanna "I know I make mistakes in life."

On a similar note, he earned applause for his support of other stars who have seen their share of scandal. "Michael Jackson, amazing," the hip-hop star said. "Michael Phelps, amazing. He's a real f---in' person. He makes mistakes."

Ok, ok, I know we are all not perfect BUT that doesn't mean that smoking pot, beating up women, and allegedly having sex with kids is acceptable because "we make mistakes."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winners and Losers for the week

Winner of the Week: Eric Mansfield
Eric is a former colleague of mine from the TV world. He is an anchor/reporter for WKYC channel 3 in Clevleand. Eric used the release of the Rihanna photo as a news-story to see how this will affect attitudes towards domestic violence. Eric did the story without showing the photo. I appreciate Eric's sensitivity towards the issue.

Loser of the Week:
Congratulations to the tabloid website for putting the photo of Rihanna out there for the world to see. Doing this serves no newsworthy purpose. None. Her injuries have been described in the media. I have heard the "oh, we now have a face for domestic violence." What? Wasn't Nicole Brown Simpson good enough? The photos of her post-O-J beatings have been out there.

What kind of this standard is this setting for journalism? Where is the line drawn for not showing photos of victims?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let it go!

Will somebody please tell the mainstream media that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston stopped dating YEARS ago? Here's the latest to make the news courtesy of

Jennifer Aniston believes in hanging on to relationship mementos, even when the guy's just not into her anymore.

The former Friends star tells Marie Claire magazine that she can't bring herself to erase some of ex-husband Brad Pitt's voicemails. In fact, she has trouble erasing many of her past flames from her life. "I still have the cassette tapes of messages from my first boyfriend, my second boyfriend, my husband," she said.

Though it may seems strange, Aniston insists that saving the recordings is similar to keeping other lovey-dovey memorabilia. "It's like saving love letters," she said.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thank you, program directors.

I saw on the news that several radio stations around the country have stopped playing music by Chris Brown as the charges of domestic violence loom above him. While he has not been found guilty in a court of law yet, Brown himself has pretty much accepted responsibility.

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - R&B star Chris Brown , who was arrested last weekend on suspicion of attacking a woman widely believed to be the pop star Rihanna , said on Sunday he was "sorry and saddened" about the incident, and was seeking counseling."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chris Brown and Robbie Alomar

Being this close to Valentine's Day, it's sad to see the news that has come out regarding the relationships of Chris Brown and Rihanna as well as the relationship of Robbie Alomar and his ex-girlfriend.

Chris Brown...If you haven't heard by now...Chris Brown allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Rihanna.

Los Angeles (E! Online) – Earlier today, the Los Angeles District Attorney asked police detectives to dig up more evidence for their case against Chris Brown. The police are getting cooperation from Rihanna, and what she has told them so far is chilling. A source close to the investigation tells E! News exclusively that Rihanna has alleged to police that Brown choked her while threatening to kill her and, subsequently, she lost consciousness. They began squabbling after leaving Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party late Saturday. Shortly after midnight, things blew up. Brown pulled his silver Lambourghini to the side of a street in L.A.'s Hancock Park neighborhood. That's when, per the source, Rihanna grabbed the car keys and tossed them out the window, sending Brown into a rage. He tried in vain to find the keys, then came back to the car, put his hands around her neck and, according to the insider, said, "I'm going to kill you!"

The 20-year-old "Disturbia" singer told police that she lost consciousness, the source says, and when she awoke, Brown had fled.

According to the source, her right eye was blackened and badly swollen and she had hand prints on her arms. The responding officers were so concerned about her, they drove Rihanna to the hospital in their squad car instead of waiting for an ambulance.

Robbie Alomar did WHAT? I couldn't believe this when I read about this on Chris Hyser's (former WKYC in Cleveland producer) Facebook page.

NEW YORK – An ex-girlfriend of Roberto Alomar filed an explosive lawsuit alleging the former baseball star insisted on unprotected sex for four years despite having AIDS. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 30 and transferred to U.S. District Court on Wednesday, contains accusations that could not be corroborated but portray Alomar as someone who demanded sex without a condom despite showing obvious signs of HIV. Ilya Dall is seeking at least $15 million in punitive damages from the 41-year-old former infielder. Alomar spent 17 years in the majors and was one of the game's great second basemen.

Calls seeking comment from lawyers for Alomar and Dall were not immediately returned. Alomar lawyer Charles Bach told the New York Daily News the allegations are "frivolous and baseless."

Dall said the two began dating in spring 2002 and had unprotected sex for the next four years. She said that on several occasions during that time, Alomar refused to get tested for HIV, despite severe fatigue, sores on his mouth and throat, a constant cough and an infection of the esophagus that is associated with AIDS.

She said Alomar finally relented and tested positive for HIV in February 2006.

Absolutely sick

Sometimes, I hear/see things on the news that make me wonder how cruel people can be. I can relate to this story from WKYC in Cleveland in a couple of ways. First, when I was living in Cleveland, my ex's house was broken into and ransacked. Some small items were taken. Nothing big. Having your home broken into makes you feel "violated." But I was more worried about our dogs at the time. Thankfully, the dogs were alright. Secondly, I am a dog lover. I love my little Scottie, Bonnie. Pets add so much to life. I feel so much sorrow for the woman in the video.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Early winners and loses for the week

Winner of the Week: Neil Diamond

Neil was named the MusiCares Person of the Year at their annual charity fundraiser, which benefits musicians who have fallen on hard times. Diamond's career goes back to the 1960s is still going strong and is putting together a tour. How is this guy not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.?

Loser of the Week: Alex Rodriguez
A-roid admitted on Monday that he used "performance-enhancing drugs" in 2001 and 2003 with the Texas Rangers. Among the many excuses that A-roid has used, he has included: "I was pressured to perform" and the old teenager standby "everybody else was doing it." Nice role model.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The scary state of public education

I saw this article in today's (Sunday's) Canton Repository when I was home in Massillon.

How scary is this that teachers are giving students easy grades?

Why easy grading is good for a teacher's career
By Jay Mathews
The Washington Post
Posted Feb 05, 2009 @ 05:07 PM

New Jersey high school teacher Peter Hibbard flunked 55 percent of those in his regular biology class one year.

There were no failures in his honors classes, he said, but many of his regular students refused to do the work. They did not show up for tests and did not take make-ups. They did not turn in lab reports. Homework was often ignored.

“Still, the principal told me that the failure rate was unacceptable, and I needed to fix it,” Hibbard said. “The pressure to give grades instead of actually teaching increased.

“A colleague told me that he had no problem. If students showed up, they got a C. If they did some work, they got a B. If they did fair or better on tests, they got an A. No one ever complained, and his paycheck was the same. He was a finalist for a principal’s job.”

Sometimes teachers are so candid and wise I am compelled to quote them. Here is what Hibbard told me:

“The pop phrase is that ‘those who can’t do, teach.’ I would like any serious critic to spend a month in the classroom. It is easy when you are a guest speaker and don’t have to worry about discipline.

“But do the planning, maintain interest, do practice and review, write and grade a test or three, and then deal with the parents. In your spare time, maintain records, deal with teen angst and crisis, monitor the bathroom (I went to college for this?) and be available for extra help. ...

“The message comes from the top. When leadership backs good teachers, it is so much easier. When I have to justify failing a student who refuses to try, well ...”

Hibbard taught biology for 27 years. Before that he was a field biologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department and a lobbyist on environmental issues for the housing industry.

He thinks his experience in the field was invaluable. When he started teaching he could give students practical answers to the question, “Why do we have to learn that?”

Asked for solutions for the apathy and buck-passing he observed, he sent me seven ideas. Each suggestion is followed here by my “grade.”


Get parents involved, not in the grades, but in the learning. If Johnny cuts school or misbehaves, on the third detention, one of the parents must also be present. The time should not be “quiet time” but a session with a professional on behavior modification.

Grade: A (Many of us parents hunger for support of our desperate attempts to deal with teenagers. Those of us who are totally clueless can still use a taste of reality.)


Since we cannot require teachers to gain more experience in their field, the school system should arrange for paid internships for teachers during summers.

Either colleges or school systems can do this.

Grade: B (This strikes me as expensive, thus unlikely, but worthwhile.)


Do away with it. The federal government should set specific standards for knowledge and application. States may add to it but not teach less.

The committee that sets the standards should have equal numbers of teachers, administrators, college officials and business executives. Parents should have representation.

Grade: A (This is expensive, too, but essential. It is possible under our current system to miss half of the questions on some state achievement tests and still be judged proficient.)


I almost lost my job because I failed an administrator’s child who did no work and got in my face, assuming his parent would protect him. Good teachers must not be subject to political pressure for grades. It happens far too often.

On the other hand, unions and administrators must decide on a procedure that does not protect bad teachers.

Grade: C-plus (The problem is real, but enforcing tenure rules is not a solution. As Hibbard’s own clash with his principal shows, an administrator trimp even a tenured teacher.)


Funding must be reliable and consistent. In New Jersey, the budget is sent to the voters. They provide the students but don’t approve enough money to educate them.

Grade: C-minus (Reliable and consistent funding is a fine thing but impossible to arrange in a free-enterprise, nonrecession-proof democracy. So this is a pipe dream.)


Give teachers ownership of their program. Teachers should have sufficient collaborative time to decide how to achieve the goals, what books to use and what equipment is needed, within the budget.

Most people with any skills want to be told what the job is, but not how to do it. That is why I went to college and go back for continuing education.

Grade: A-plus (Harnessing the creative energies of teachers is the key to making schools work.)


Districts must set up programs for parents during the evening or weekend for those who want to learn how to help their children with school. So many parents tell me ... they understand their children’s frustration, but they don’t know how to help.

Teach study skills to both students and their parents throughout their school years.

Grade: A (My mother taught parent-effectiveness classes after she retired as a classroom teacher. They were very popular, and I wish more parents had the same opportunity to learn proven techniques.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Phelps and Pot

The fallout is underway with Michael Phelps and his infamous bong. USA Swimming has suspended Phelps for three months due to the photo above. USA Swimming has also cut financial support off from Phelps for three months as well.

The Kellog cereal company has dropped Phelps saying that bascially his bong hit "is not consistent with the company's image."

The guy was smoking pot, which is not a "performance enhancing" drug.
I have several reactions to this whole mess. First, I am tired of people saying his smoking pot is part of the whole "experimenting" and "maturation process." Hell no, it is not! Not everyone smokes pot. It is so wrong to hear "experts" on tv try to dismiss this as "typical behavior" for someone who is "maturing."
Secondly, yes, smoking marijuana is wrong. Nothing more. Just because "everyone" smokes it, it's still not right.

Lastly, I wonder how great the person feels who took and leaked this photo to the tabloid. He probably got a nice check from it. It's sick that someone would look to profit from someone else's missteps.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Old stars, new stuff.

What is it that keeps older music artists still "in"? Bruce Springsteen did a great job with his half-time show at the Super Bowl. A few months back, I posted that Tom Jones has out new music. His new song "If He Should Ever Leave" is getting airplay around the world. Several tour dates are posted on his website, including a March 3rd appearance at the House of Blues in Cleveland. I saw him a few years ago at the House of Blues and he was amazing. He puts on a great concert.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bruce Springsteen's Performance

What did you think of the halftime show? It didn't set the world on fire for me. I'm not a big Springsteen fan. It was ok. I'll say that much. People are talking about Bruce's "crotch first" slide into the camera. On the video, it is 3:43 in. While that is getting a lot of hype, I can't believe I haven't heard as much a peep about Springsteen's "hold his mic stand penis" move. This is 1:22 into the show! Hello!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why is this such a (no pun intended) big deal?

Jessica Simpson recently appeared at a couple of concerts, looking noticeably different. Why is this such an issue? Of course, the tabloids are all over her larger size. I don't get it. I still think she is a very attractive woman. Am I that far off on this one? I don't think so.

I definitely think there is a double standard. I highly doubt that if Matthew McConaughey put on weight, we would be seeing this much press about it.

Winner of Last Week

Winner of the Week: President Barack Obama
All of the people who supported Hillary Clinton, I hope, were impressed with the first bill that Obama signed into legislation last week. Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Act extends the statute of limitations for those who want to sue their employer in the case of pay discrimination. The statute of limitations now (thanks to the law) is now 360 days.