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Sunday, August 31, 2003
 

PAC 10 Dominance Goes South



Well, after years of Washington and Oregon schools domination, the power swing comes down south to Southern California. As much as it humbles me to say, it is true, USC is the PAC 10 powerhouse for at least the next 3 years. The Trojans winover Auburn was a dominant performance where it goes to show, defense wins games.



For some really odd reason, this victory comes as a shock to the sporting world. I honestly, do not see why. Last season, according to the CBS SEC biased announcers, SC led the PAC 10 in rushing defense (allowing only 83 yards/game). The running game is the strength of the Auburn game. That is no secret by any means. Cadillac Williams was the star who was going to carry them to victory on Saturday, as their passing game is decent.



SC was able stuff the run early forcing the Tigers into a balanced attack. That didn't work because their team is not balanced. The Trojans forced the Tigers into a situation where they were forced to throw because they were coming from behind on the score board.



The Trojans offense gave the Tigers defense a challenge, but because the defense was on the field for such a long time, they wore down. The defense kept the Tigers in the game, but the rushing game put the defense on the ropes. Hershel Dennis and Reggie Bush proved why they were highly touted recruits.



In the end, the defense won the game for the Trojans. While they are somewhat undersized (in regards to their linemen and linebackers), they are extremely fast and in some instances over pursued the ball carrier into the backfield but was able to recover and make the tackle. Goes to show, speed kills.



Bullseye for the Buck Eyes



Ohio State beat the Washington Huskies 28-17. Many will question the offseason problems and subsequent firing of coach Rick Neuheisel as the cause to such a poor outing. The game was pretty bad. But in the end, the Huskies showed that they were no competition to last year's National Champs. The Buck Eye defense shut down the Washington running game and held them to a game total of 7 yards rushing.


 
 

The Risk of Being Ordinary in the 77th



It is no secret that being a police officer, in general, is dangerous. Many will contend that being a police officer in the City of Los Angeles is even more dangerous. But what could possibly be even more dangerous than wearing the badge in South Los Angeles? How about being an ordinary resident in the 77th Street Division of the LAPD?



In an article in the LA Times, a group of undercover LAPD officers have found that in some cases, it is much more dangerous for them to do their jobs out of uniform. Many of the officers have been approached and shot at simply because they are riding around in one of the roughest parts of town. Officers have had to flee from gun shots from gang members thinking that the officers are rival gang members. They are experiencing the life that residents of South Los Angeles face day in and day out.



The issue that comes to mind is this: is the LAPD so detached from the community that undercover officers are not aware of what goes on in the every day life of the people in their Division? I am by no means taking a shot at the officers that risk their lives doing a thankless job. But if I am a member of the management of the LAPD, this article should raise a few eyebrows.



In order for an officer to best police the community, they need information from the community. The community has a responsibility to help the police in every way that they can. But if the police and community cannot communicate, a serious safety issue can rise for the department employees, who are already a target simply by pinning the badge on their uniform.



I would also be worried about the future ramifications of the situation on the youth growing up in the area. If an undercover police officer is an open target to get shot at and assaulted, teenagers are even bigger targets. In order to seek some type of protection, many of these teens may seek gang membership. Once this occurs, the violence cycle can only proliferate.

 
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
 

998 and counting...



Despite the fact that my blogging has been extremely limited, I somehow managed to get 998 visitors. I owe a great deal of this success to the loyal reader(s) of the Back Page, not to mention Blair Hornstein.



Thank you for your continued patronage.

 
Friday, August 22, 2003
 

Gray has a Wild Side Afterall...



I really debated whether or not I should post this headline on the Back Page. Well, apparently Gray Davis is a womanizer as well. This incident apparently happened 36 years ago...yes 36 years ago in Hawaii while Davis was working for a travel agency.



I don't know about you, but I am having a hard time picturing the current Governor of California being a lady's man whatsoever. But hey, I also thought that the Lakers were going to win last year's NBA Championship.

 
Thursday, August 21, 2003
 

Strip Mall Restaurants



Well, it seems as if strip mall restaurants are the "in" places to eat in, at least according to the NY Times. What's even funnier is that I have gone to half of the restaurants listed in the article on more than one occasion. So I must be trendy afterall...or rather let my stomach govern where I end up driving to.



It should be noted for out of towners...not all restaurants in strip malls would receive an A++ in my book. Only a handful would get this rating.

 
 

Back to School in the Big Easy



School is back in session in New Orleans, LA. Apparently, the big question on the minds of parents in the City (actually, Parish) is not "Who is going to be my child's teacher for the next year?" Instead, parents are asking themselves, "Should I take my child to school now, or after Labor Day?"



The New Orleans School District is in really bad shape. The District suffers from poor acheivement scores, an estimated $30 million budget deficit, poor accounting practices, and an absenteeism problem. Until this year, students did not usually show up for their first day of class. This was something that new Superintendent Anthony Amato has set out to change.



Amato used billboards and incentives to get his message out. His goal was to lower the 30 percent absenteeism on the first days of class. What amazes me, however, is that there was a need to have an organized push to get parents to bring their children back to school.



Why should the district have to use a tickets to an NFL Preseason game as an incentive to bring children to school? How is a parent going to teach their kid to be responsible, if they themselves do not shoulder partial responsibility for their education? It's not as if the start of the school year is something that is unexpected. It happens every year around the same time (give or take a few days). What's so hard about planning a family vacation around a school schedule? There is no excuse for this tradition.

 
Monday, August 18, 2003
 

When 1,028 Equals a Majority of America



An AP article cited a poll where it found that a majority of Americans favor a law banning same sex marriage. It also stated that a presidential candidate could face a backlash if they had decided to support same sex marriages. In this post, I do not intend to take a stance on this particular issue. My issue is with the article/poll itself.



The title of the article is Majority Favors Law Against Gay Marriage . However, when you reach the bottom of the article, you will find that only 1,028 adults from every state but Alaska and Hawaii participated in the poll. It is unclear as to who was polled, what questions were asked, and why Hawaii and Alaska were excluded. The last time that I checked, both Alaska and Hawaii were considered states within the United States.



While, without reading the formal poll results, it is unfair for me to discount the findings, it is also dangerous to draw a conclusion on what seems to be a limited poll. I understand that, while it is ideal, an all encompassing poll is extremely difficult to practically develop.



But to use the title Majority Favors Law Against Gay Marriage is extremely misleading.

 
 

A Man Who Needs No Introduction



Sunday evening, I spent my evening sitting in the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. Was I there to watched my beloved Blue Crew? Nope, the team was halfway across the country.



The dugouts were filled to capacity...with soda refrigerators, instead of players. The bullpens were busy...with vendors trying to sell food. The sellout crowd showed up and was cheering for a man who got no introduction, yet didn't need one. This man who took center stage goes by one nickname...the Boss.



Let me just say this, you have to be one hell of an act to not only pull off a concert without an opening act and without an introduction. Bruce Springsteen has redefined my definition of what a concert should be. Dodger Stadium was his house for three hours last night.



A good concert, according to me, is one where the music takes center stage. Not the artist, the music. There are very little to no pyrotechnics or distractions. An excellent concert is one where you can sit in the audience and close your eyes without missing a beat. With this being said, Bruce's The Rising concert is the best concert I have ever been to, knocking Sting's Desert Rose Tour to a very close second.



My Dodger Stadium day began when I pulled up to the gates and realized that parking had been raised over 100% - from $8 to $20. (Maybe if the Dodgers have Bruce back a few more times, they will have earned enough cash to pay off Darren Dreifort's medical bills). After parking the car at the edge of the lot, and after I recovered from parking price shock, we went to the Stadium and went to our seats.



Our seats were in the second to last row of the top deck. In essence, we were basically as far away from the stage as you can possibly imagine. The only people further away from the action were the smokers who had to leave their seats to smoke on the balcony. We were sitting in our seats watching the crew set up the stage, and then we heard someone count off over the mic.



Then bam...the Boss was on stage. I don't think I have ever been to a concert where the full act took the stage for a sound check. He sang one song (the Rising, if I recall correctly), and then left for the next few hours. From that point on, I knew one thing for sure...we were in for one hell of a show.



The actual concert started at about 8:15 pm. His entrance was something. First, the Beach Boys' California Girls song started to play. Then the video screens showed him walking through the center field entrance and then to the stage. He and the E Street Band took to the stage with an unmatched amount of energy and confidence (despite the fact that he looked like smaller than a crouched down Paul LoDuca in deeeeeeeep center field from our seats).



Bruce and the Band played for 3 straight hours. I now know why they have been around for 30 years in the business. Max Weinberg is a bad ass drummer. I remember when he left the Conan O'Brien Show to start touring. Didn't think much of it then, but now...WOW.



My hat is off to saxophonist Clarence Clemons. He can tear up that stage. Because of him, I will never make fun of anybody who plays a tamborine...(smile). He is a BIG man with huge arms.

Overall, I was really impressed by the concert. Wait, impressed was the wrong word...overwhelmed is a much better fit. I could not have expected anything like what we were a part of Sunday.



There was one thing that I would have liked to see. Even though he does not perform this song anymore, I would have loved to see him play Glory Days. That to me, would have been such a fitting song in a Stadium that has been such a big part of baseball lore.

 
 

The Back Page moving to the Front?



Do you possibly think that this ESPN Gamer article was inspired by this post of mine from July?



Becoming the cover player of a video game is a big gamble. First off, you have the raised professional expecations. Now that you have the fame....can you walk the walk.



But lastly and most importantly, what if the game sucks????

 
Saturday, August 16, 2003
 

The Role of the Summer Job



The New York Times writes that a number of students who would otherwise hold impressive internships have made a turn toward another option. They have chosen to work an "ordinary" summer job. Yes, the summer time ritual of getting a job at a restaurant or department store has drawn some appeal.



I could not agree more. I started working my first job almost 10 years ago (that in itself is scary). The job was working for a movie theatre. It was your common high school job (most of the time). Although I worked more hours than I should have at the time, this experience in itself helped me get to where I am. It gave me the exposure and skill to know how to deal with problems and how to manage a situation. This is something that is not taught in a book.



More importantly, working gives individuals the grounding needed once they are placed in positions of management. This is important when you think about the backgrounds of college undergraduates. These students will one day become leaders of the future. The effective manager is not necessarily the one who graduated from a reputable institution, but one who has walked the walk and can relate and communicate with everyday people.

 
Monday, August 11, 2003
 

"Affleck says 'Gigli' wasn't good"



You know a movie is not worth your time, let alone money, when one of the actors from the movie basically says the movie stinks. Gigli, which has received a fairly cold reception by critics and audiences alike, apparently is just that bad.



If someone can decipher what in the world Ben is trying to say here, please let me know: "You can put scenes together and sometimes they just don't work," he added. "I think there was a certain amount of Schadenfreude, a certain amount of a critical slam dunk contest that it turned into, like some (critic) was saying, 'I have been saving up this one turn of phrase all summer.' But that's part of the deal."



On the other hand, this could be an attempt at reverse psychology. If anyone has seen Mel Brooks' The Producers (either the musical or the movie), you will relate. The thought throughout the Producers was: if you make a musical so bad that critics slam it and drag it up and down the street, the audience will come. Maybe with Affleck coming out and simply saying that Gigli was bad, everyone and their momma will want to go out and see what he is talking about.



Nah, I think I will pass on this one...

 
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
 

He told you he'd be back....



It's official...Arnold is running for governor. Should we really be all that surprised? If former wrestler Jesse Ventura was able to win the post in Minnesota, why couldn't the Kindergarten Cop make it in California?



After all, who better to take care of California's debt problem than the Eraser? How could the state legislature sit on a budget when they have the Terminator in office? Will he prove to be our Last Action Hero, or will he be full of True Lies? Okay, I know I killed the post with movie references, but I couldn't help it.



On a serious note, don't expect Gray Davis to back down from Arnold. Arnold will benefit from the shorter campaign time, but Davis has been in the game for a long time. Davis will have to get moving fast.



The Democrats are in need of a strong candidate. With Dianne Feinstein pulling out, there is no one clear cut candidate. One option, according to the LA Times, is Loretta Sanchez. I am not too confident that the Democrat from Garden Grove will be able to draw the name recognition needed to win.



But then again, I am not an "expert." I just hope this campaign minimizes Collateral Damage (sorry, one last Arnie movie plug).

 
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
 

So Arnold is more than just brute muscle...



Priorities and Frivolities latest post addresses the issue of Arnold running for governor in California. What is interesting is the fact that the post is written with reference to Arnold's bodybuilding books. It seems as if Arnold provides insight into his strategies and attitudes towards contests and campaigns. Very interesting.



Oh, and Robert also has an op-ed in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

 
Monday, August 04, 2003
 

The California Master Plan Challenge



In a time where the California budget is strained, UC and Cal State officials have scrambled to figure out how they will cope with the growing college age population within the state. The latest proposal are system wide caps limiting the number of admitted students each year.



The UC's have long had a policy stating that the top 12% of the state's graduating class will be admitted to one of their campuses. If the caps are adopted this policy would be broken. The CSU's have become overburdened and could perhaps see their first enrollment limitation in their history.



In my humble opinion, this is not the end of the world. Despite what is said about the California K-12 system, California has one of the best university systems in this country. The state provides educational opportunities to everyone, despite cost. If a student is not accepted to a UC or CSU, there is always the community college system.



The community college alternative may in fact prove to be a much more practical approach than that of going to a university for 4 straight years. If a student goes to a community college for 2 years and a university for their last 2 years, they will have saved a considerable amount of cash (trust me, I am speaking from experience). At the same time, this allows for the student to get an idea of what they want to do before they have to decide on a major and get to their upper division classes.



We should also not forget about the private universities around the state as well. Schools like Stanford, Pepperdine, Loyola, Claremont and USC can provide opportunities to those top students who were unable to get into the UC or CSU of their choice. These schools have deep pockets and can help students pay for their education (although the sticker price for tuition is super duper high).



California is a state that can provide high school graduates with options. All is not lost if the UC's or CSU's place a limit on their admissions class.

 
 

The State of School Lunches



Well, if you thought school lunches were questionable chemistry experiments, you may not have been that far off the mark. A food scientist is pushing for blueberry burgers to become a staple in the American school lunch.



My only question is:why?

 
 

Will he be placed on administrative leave too?



The superintendent of the Lawrence, MA school district failed the State's basic English proficiency exam for educators. What's ironic is the fact that Wilfredo Laboy has placed 24 teachers on administrative leave because they were unable to pass that exam. I find his excuse most amusing:




Wilfredo T. Laboy called his failing scores "frustrating" and "emotional." He blamed his performance on a lack of preparation and concentration, as well as the fact that that Spanish is his first language.


"It bothers me because I'm trying to understand the congruence of what I do here every day and this stupid test," Laboy told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence in a story published Sunday.



I am sorry, that is a horrible excuse for his inability to pass the exam. Why does he call the test "stupid" now, after he has used it as a reason to discipline 24 teachers. But let's face reality, this is big news now...but Laboy is going to take the test again and pass. Will he face the same consequences that his teachers did? Nope, not at all.



Where is the justice in this world?

 
Friday, August 01, 2003
 

FINALLY



After a week of searching...my mission has been completed. I finally have purchased a new car. Yes, I have purchased a brand new, 2003 Ford Focus. The price I got the car for was decent. I only say decent because I was trying to minimize the amount of cash that Ford and the dealership was making off of me.



I got the car selling price under invoice, thanks to the $2500 rebate that Ford was running. The kicker was with the warranty. Service is where the car makers make their most money, and basically where you as the consumer spend the most money. Cars are a depreciating asset, therefore the manufacturer knows that you will want to protect your asset. This gets you the warranty. Basically, I want a warranty for as long as I could get it. Afterall, you are talking to the person who will try to replace parts on his truck with rebuilt parts with a lifetime warranty.



The other thing they sold me on was the factory alarm. I don't know why I bought it, but it was my bad run in with my Circuit City type alarm, which cased a short or something in my electrical system, that made me lean towards getting it. This way, if it shorts, I don't have to pay for anything and it is covered under warranty. Seeing that I will need to now get full coverage insurance, I will NEED as many discounts as I can get. So I guess if the alarm saves me $10 a month on insurance (with it actually only costing me $4 more a month), it will have paid itself off.



Despite it all, I am actually excited about the whole idea. I have been impressed with the Focus in terms of look and most importantly GAS MILEAGE!!! I drive an SUV now. The idea of driving a car with great gas mileage is totally foreign. I will be lucky if I can get it to 20 miles a gallon on streets (where I do most of my driving). I will also have a CD player and power windows and locks. Wooohooo!!!!!



In regards to the salesman, I had no problems buying it from him. He is an honest guy, but at the same time, he's a salesman. Keep that in mind. Of course he will want you to feel this way, it could only work in his benefit. But at the same time, you hold the key to his success...your wallet. If you are buying and don't like the salespeople or their approach, leave. Remember, selling a car to you is giving him more money, somehow, someway. They will try to get you to buy right then, right now. If you leave, the chances of you going back are slim (from the vantage point of the salesman). If you can, take your time.



My salesman gave me a really good deal. The warranty and the alarm is where they got me. DAMN!



Maybe I will write a book on buying a car. If so, I think I better revamp my final chapter...Closing the Deal.

 
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