Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why I Like Soccer

Unlike many sports that I need a rooting interest or some connection, I find I can just sit down in front of any decent quality soccer game and kill a few minutes. During the seasons, it's a great unwinder.

So today, I plop down on the couch and with nothing on early, I see what's on Fox Soccer Channel. Hmm, World Cup qualifier. Iran and Saudi Arabia, OK, I'll give this a few minutes. Turns into a half hour and a great reminder of what futbol means on the world stage.

The politics, the passion, the game -- it was all there. Two ancient rivals -- and by that I don't mean just the 20th century cartography inventions of Iran and Saudi Arabia. There were a sold out 100,000 men in the stadium for a must win home match for Iran. There were three great goals, 2-1 Saudis, and plenty of on-field scuffles.

The soccer was good -- and that keeps me watching.

The drama was high -- look, there's the President of Iran watching his team implode in the final 10 minutes.

The politics were great -- notice, 100,000 men; no women are allowed to attend. Parse that. The commentators noting that Iran can't get friendlies, which affects their game polish severely.

The sport was excellent -- the name on the back of every Iran jersey: I.R. Iran. A perfect touch for a team that's trying to come together and emphasis the team. No individual names, a we are one approach.

Don't tell me soccer isn't serious everywhere else -- the rumor was floated at the end of the telecast that a $5 million bonus was on the line for the Saudi players if they came away with the win.

And, the real obvious takeaway, how small is the world that in Fayetteville, Ark., I can watch a soccer match from Iran with voice-over announcers in Canada creating the English-language commentary.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Winners Write The History

There's an old adage in the history business -- winners write the history. It refers to conflict, usually wars, in which the victorious side's cause takes over the historical record. In our context, the American Civil War is one of the easiest analogies -- the Union was right because it won. That's not an endorsement of the Confederacy; it's the recognition of a fact. Had Hitler succeeded, would Franklin Roosevelt not been cast as a war criminal who singled out people of Asian origin for concentration camps?

To bring another old saw to bear, the line from The Right Stuff: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers.

Winners and losers in the business world are measured in dollars, not sense. And once the big winners in the net media world figure it out, I can predict who the "Big Three" of the early 21st Century are.

Of course, the old Big Three networks, who commanded the media stage and set the national agenda were ABC, NBC and CBS. They are gone. They can barely fund their core functions, much less pay for the type of news organizations they once had.

The New Big Three networks: Google, Yahoo and Fox Corp.


What made the old Three was advertising. Money. The Bucks for Buck Rogers. Today, who has the advertising dollars? Primarily the web-based ad network of Google, and to a much lessor extent Yahoo and Fox Corp (notice, not Fox or Fox News -- the mothership).

The sports world got a taste of what this means. Who funded the investigative journalism that turned over the latest round of tawdry recruiting issues in college sports? That would be Yahoo.

When the Googleplex decides it is time to reshape journalism, they will unleash a firehose of funding that will make every net media outlet associated with them masters of their domain.

How they do it, and to what ends are yet to be seen. Could be meet the old boss, same as the old boss. Could be time for something completely different.

One thing is for sure. The new winners are about to write the first draft of history.

Can't Fight the Future

Regardless to my opinion on Twitter, you have to roll with the trends. We've kept an address -- ArkRazorbacks -- in the back pocket since December of last year, but had the sense that it would compete with our website, and thus hurt live blogs, live stats, etc., and just take eyeballs away from the overall click count.

Two weeks ago, I decided to go all in and start using the devise to promo the big stories from here, and send out scoring alerts occasionally.

Take note to this growth curve: 3 followers to 47 in one week; 137 and growing this week.

That's natural growth, no promo on the main site yet. Who's on the follower list? Almost all our 20-something media and most of the net native media that cover our teams.

Here's how I cast it for an administrator here -- feel free to chime in if I missed the target.

50 and up will get out content by subscribing to our blast email list out of the website, and read all the copy inside their email client
35 to 50 seem to grab the same info off the RSS feed, scanning the outbound paragraph to decide what they'll click through to
Rising generation through mid 30s, they want the Tweet to the mobile

Same content, different platforms based on the needs of the user.

John Dvorak -- a devout Twitter distopian -- gives some basic reasons to use it in his column this week. I like his closing statement best:

So anyone who doesn't "get" Twitter is probably on the right track, because there is nothing to get. You invent a use for yourself, if you can manage to think of something useful for it to do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Your Website is Your Beat Reporter

Further confirmation of the continuing shift from local media coverage to institutional media coverage as the Houston Chronicle dumps three beat reporters on colleges. If you're interested in Rice, Houston or Texas Southern, their SID offices just became your best information source. Excuse me, only information source.

Shocked to Learn

Claude Rains has nothing on the internet community. In England, privacy advocates are just soooo surprised about the latest.

"The U.K. government is considering the mass surveillance and retention of all user communications on social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo. "

Vernon Coaker, the English equivalent to Homeland, wants ISPs to keep "communications data" for long periods of time. To read more, jump to ZDNet Asia's story, which was sent out on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's feed a few days ago.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not Just Newspapers

To give us all a break from the end of newsprint, could be worse -- you could be an Air Force cadet learning to fly traditional dogfight for the F-22, a plane that might not ever go to full production, against the Russians, an enemy that might not ever materialize. Or a Naval Aviator, learning to slam onto carrier decks that might no longer sail the oceans blue.

Not unlike the quandary of who will bring us our news, think this one through -- who will fly our airliners if the U.S. military gets out of the Top Gun business.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Perfect Spokesman's Description

Chuck Todd was on NPR's Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!, and said this regarding White House Press Secretaries in general and the current occupant, Robert Gibbs, in particular:

His job isn't to make news; his job is to move the message


This is Going to Get Me in Trouble

For two weeks since I read this, I've debated how to address it. I considered posting it anonymously, because it must be said. At the end of these weeks, I decided I would not be true to myself and my own disdain for the hidden.

The shame of our national organization, CoSIDA, was on full display in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

When you look at the national average salaries for administrative positions within higher education, the Assistant/Associate Athletic Director for Sports Information/Communication is by far the lowest within athletics. In fact, there are precious few administrative positions in all of academe with a lower national average.

I know that the leadership of the organization has been very concerned with realigning CoSIDA away from its independence to an alliance with NACDA. That train has left the station.

One of the promises is of having more access to the decision making table. Fair enough -- let's do something about these numbers:

The national average for our administrative lead positions: $46,020.

That's the only position in athletics under $50,000. It's about $10,000 less than the average for the asst/assoc ADs of compliance (you know, when you think about it, another shame on our field). All other positions -- over $60,000.

It's not just that our profession is low on the pay scale and perhaps longest on hours and commitment. Let's bring it down to this: In the page long listing of literally hundreds of averages for positions all across the campus, there were only nine -- NINE -- that paid an average of less than $50,000.

They are:
Assistant Director of Student Activities -- $41,796
Assistant Registrar -- $42,637
Dean of Greek Life -- $45,000
Housing Officer Residence Life -- $45,576


Asst Director of Campus Rec/Intermurals -- $46,444
Director of Mailing Services -- $46,630
Associate Director of the Bookstore -- $47,280
Assoc/Asst Director of Women's Center -- $48.470

This is no shot at any of these other professions. I'm sure they put in their labor as well, and many of them also get or need an advanced degree for consideration. But look at those titles -- Only two are directors -- Greek Life and the Post Office. The rest are subs to a higher paying executive (assistant directors). The assistant/associate ADs for media are usually commanding a staff and front-line with the media and general public.

Let's get the membership motivated and the leadership directed to start dealing with this systemic problem. Retention has become a big buzz word, and the "dead zone" between 10 years experience and 25 years to retirement. Well, I wonder why?

If you can shift across campus on average to become an associate director for publications -- the lowest paying job on average in the external affairs/public relations wing -- for almost $10K more -- $55,085 -- why stay in athletics? Why not go over the wall into the private sector? This is where our best and brightest are headed, and for good reason. The entire rest of University Relations averages above $60,000.

We can be told all day long about how important we are, how valuable to the brand, how critical to managing the reputation of the department. Money talks. Spin walks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

As One Dies, Another Tries

Tomorrow marks the end of the print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The last victim, the Rocky Mountain Post, will try to return as an on-line edition in May if the former staffers get a 50K subscriber base at $4.99 per month. Read more brief details here, but the "premium" areas might give them the edge they need.

However, kind of sounds like after the Arkansas Gazette was bought by the Arkansas Democrat and many of the departed former Gazetteers formed the Arkansas Times. They have survived, but that was when print still worked.

Another Edition of Past as Prologue

Via Boing Boing, where Dan Gillmor is hanging out for the next week, Thorstein Veblen writes in 1915 about the state of the "new media" of the early 20th century. The quotes speak for themselves:

The highest product of this development is the class of American newspapers called "independent." These in particular -- and they are followed at no great interval by the rest -- edit all items of news comment or gossip with a view to what the news ought to be and what opinions ought to be expressed on passing events.

See if this sounds familiar:

The first duty of an editor is to gauge the sentiments of his readers and then tell them what they like to believe. By this means he maintains or increases the circulation. His second duty is to see that nothing is said in the news items or editorials which may discountenance any claims or announcements made by his advertisers, discredit their standing or good faith, or expose any weakness or deception in any business venture that is or may become a valuable advertiser. By this means he increases the advertising value of his circulation. The net result is that both the news columns and the editorial columns are commonly meretricious in a high degree.

And, a little bit for the participatory media crowd that stay perpetually upset at the legacy media referenced above:

Systematic insincerity on the part of the ostensible purveyors of information and leaders of opinion may be deplored by persons who stickle for truth and pin their hopes of social salvation on the spread of accurate information.

Rank that right up there with good old Lord Northcliffe -- another turn of the 20th century media raconteur -- "News is what somebody, somewhere want to supress; all the rest is advertising."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

14:59 And Counting

The Saga of the Tweeting Juror continues. If you wish to consume his feed find him here on Twitter. I'll give him credit for being in the Tweet pool early enough to have just his first name.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Not Good News

The man who invented the internet says government snooping is the future.

Also, points out that the future is mobile.

Why Is This Book So Hard to Find?

Finally, my copy of True Enough arrived via Amazon. None of the brick and mortars I've visited recently carried it -- again, in an attempt to support my local book monger. Granted, it's a year old now, but this is a very meaningful tome. Probably why you don't see it on the average shelves.

I did get a good couple of hours with CALS copy at the downtown Little Rock location, and came away with some quick hits for the blog.

The central premise is that no longer do we fight over interpretations of events, we fight over the literal facts. I see that often with my history students at NWACC, and my students last spring at UA in journalism. Farhad Manjoo goes a little further than helping validate some of my own dark theories -- the rise of the brand and the decline of the counterbalancing media.

Manjoo posits that society works better when people trust one another, and that trust is breaking down. As trust fades, the "social capital" of a society is spent.

It made me realize something I had been watching for some time. You cannot change a truth held as self-evident through acculturation and observation. You know it to be true, because in the echo chamber you lived you came to see it as gospel and no amount of factual evidence will dissuade the believer.

Manjoo does have his own switch backs. Right after this jewel -- "A medium that makes lying easier won't foster trust" -- he attempts to use eBay to suport the point that on-line communities can be filled with trust. Obviously, he hasn't tried to buy anything there lately.

But eBay transactions are predicated on the fact I trust that you won't screw me over deliberately on a sale, and it brings up the concept of Particularized vs. General Trust. I know you to be trustworthy because I know you as a particular person vs. I don't trust people from your social group because of my general mistrust.

This is one of my early takeaway quotes, speaking of society becoming:

". . . pistons in what has become, today, a powerful engine of propaganda, one that drives nearly all the recent examples of our society's unfettered departures from "the reality-based world"."

However, his final line of the book is going on the permanent quote sheet:

"Choosing means trusting some people and distrusting the rest. Choose wisely."


Demon Technology

I must admit, it's not every day that one opens the local newspaper to find the latest in technology splashed across in banner type:

Twitter use prompts motion for new trial

It seems young Johnathan Powell could not disconnect himself from the outside world while serving as a juror for a local civil trial that led to a $12.6 million judgment. Gee, you reckon the defendant will move for mistrial once your Twitter trail is discovered?

E-discovery is the hot new item in jurisprudence, and Mr. Powell just got himself caught in its web.

I'll leave the news accounts for the details -- here are my takeaways. I'll try to keep them tweet length

Obviously the concept of traditional American jury duty is lost on Mr. Powell.

You look like a goober when you brag about someone else's ill-fate in which you participated.

Did you not understand digital messaging lives somewhere forever?

Or did you just think those squares on the bench were hick-rubes that wouldn't catch you Tweeting?

Legally, it appears this will be much ado about nothing with the Arkansas' standard for mistrial and the fact there is no current evidence that Mr. Powell received outside information -- either by using one of his "toys", his computer which he bragged about being smart enough to bring with him to the trial, or via Twitter. Wait, I'm sorry, that was more than 140 characters. Very well, continuing for those with longer attention spans, Mr. Powell seems quite lost in today's legacy tree version of the story that what he did was wrong.

"They are trying to make it look like I was talking about the trial the whole time I was there."

The concept is you aren't talking to outsiders when you are on a jury. No phone calls. No reading the newspaper. So guess what, McFly (oh, sorry, that's a dated reference to the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least Vic 20s), the judge means that. It doesn't matter if you made one or one hundred Tweets, you violated the rules. They call that Contempt of Court -- if you're vague on it, try Wikipedia. You gave a good lawyer an opening, and they will now exploit it to the fullest extent possible.

For all of Mr. Powell's sneering Gen-Y contempt -- "It totally caught me by surprise. I find it weird they are making a big deal about it. It's mainly because it's new and it's Twitter. It's technology, and it's easy to confuse people." -- there is plenty of well-reasoned opinion in this event. The judges get it, and that's why Mr. Powell's in dutch. New technology is a part of the court room, and guess what, Mr. Powell, your own ignorance of how it works -- that a friend of the defendant could Google the trial and find your Tweets.

Really, Mr. Powell. Did you think they just disappeared? They aren't SMS text messages. Are you confused? Let me guess, you also believe that Facebook security works and it really isn't that big a deal to pirate digital content, as long as its for your personal use and the use of your 50 or 60 friends that you've brought into your Justin.TV chat room.

At the end of the day, no one can say NWA is off the techno-legal map. We've already started to make the legal blogs, again. We can add this case to our folio of the iPhone boudoir photos at McDonalds and of course the recent unpleasantness surrounding Mitch Mustain.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Legacy Ignorance

OK, I've been a fan of the local papers, and respect the need to make cuts. The ones done recently by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette don't make a lot of sense. They've dumped my two favorite Sunday sections -- Books and Travel. Oh yes, Travel is still there -- just two pages sandwiched into the Style section.

Let's parse this decision. The people who are still buying the print edition are older. They're probably bibliophiles. Yeah, that's playing to strength -- cutting the section that the core demo is most interested in to keep sections aimed at 20-somethings that rarely if ever pick up the print edition.

Whacking down Travel -- same story, second verse. Who's going to take time to read the print edition? The older demo.

Instead, we keep plenty of space for the society section, etc. Honestly, I'd never considered dropping the subscription, but this has me thinking seriously about saving that money and going on-line. I already get the majority of my news there, and don't need another reason to jump.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Convergence Brilliance

While mourning the passing of my two favorite sections of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I come across this slice of absolute convergence journalism brilliance by Jay Grelen. His column, Sweet Tea, is a regular in the Little Rock edition. Usually, I won't see it as I have been (key word -- been) a NWA subscriber.

Grelen writes about the repair of his old Boy Scout Timex in the Sunday, March 8, edition. His column was a very nice mix of memory lane and modern day. The closer is the key. He gives us a great story that makes us want more, then provides it through a well-balanced mix of on-line extras -- a video of the Timex worker on the paper's website. TinyURLs to old vintage Timex watches. Then the digits to the Timex outlet. I was moved to use all three.

That's the essense of quality content, and how it can overcome the limits of both the paper and the economy.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Only Thing Better than a Library . . .

. . . is a good local book store. Wordsworth Book Company in Little Rock certainly qualifies. You can really tell a well managed independent store. No matter how small, if there's a bibliophile running the shop, you WILL find a book you can't live without.

Such was the case today with Wordsworth. No, that's a quaint little store -- I'll kill some time here. Yeah, small and quaint like Claflin's in Manhattan, Kansas. I escaped today with only one book, but one I'd not seen before in any of the big boxes.

The other thing about a good local store, the sense of salon. It was evident when a Wordsworth regular came in to let the operator know that So-and-So's book club was missing from the display.

Certainly, I'll make the runs to the big boxes -- nobody puts on a magazine rack like a large section Hastings -- but I'm a sucker for the indies. Kind of like my radio partner Kyle Kellams with used CD stores, we'll throwdown for a book or two as a tithe to keep our respective genres operating.

One thing about going into the stores now -- no need to go into the children's section. That's a sad right of passage. Every really good store had a quality section, and both Will and Ashley have gotten their share of books from Joseph-Beth in Lexington, for example. In fact, several of those J-B books got handed down from Will to Ashley. Now with Ashley firmly in the Twilight series, no need for a good quality elementary school book.

This has been a good year for books on the road -- even without the obligatory stop at Square Books in Oxford (no road trips to date to Ole Miss). As long as we alternate Lexington and Oxford, it's all good.

The top road book stores:

Square Books -- Oxford, Miss. Reason enough to take the trip to Ole Miss, one that many others carp about having to take.
Joseph-Beth -- Lexington, Ky. The mothership rules over the other parts of the chain, but the location they overtook in Nashville isn't bad.
Comstock's -- Auburn, Wash. If you are into aviation, there is no other store like this.
Powell's -- Portland, Ore. Got a spare day? No, I mean that literally.
Claflin's -- Manhattan, Kansas. Don't let the fact it's almost as much a thesis and dissertation copy store fool you. I honestly can say that Kyle Kellams and I could have dropped a Franklin each if we weren't on budgets.
Wordsworth -- Little Rock, Ark. I'll give them the props, reminds me of my childhood book store, The Book Mark in Monroe.

I say road, because for used books, there is no equal to our home town Dickson Street Books. Seriously. I've seen them from east to west coast (Powell's included) and for both selection and quality, nothing beats Dickson Street. God forbid those two guys ever decide to give up the business.

Meanwhile back to the game . . .

Saturday, March 07, 2009

There's No Yellow Page Listing for Whale Tallow

In a quite pessimistic essay on the future of the newspaper by James DeLong, there are several takeaway nuggets. Or as one other writer recently said, here's the 140 words for the Twitter generation:

The role of gatekeeper and certifier of expertise has largely departed, and they have lost their position as the only game in town for those who want to be informed. Experts can reach out on their own. Slovenly reporting and bias are illuminated.


When Hurricane Napster hit the music industry in 1999, the news biz did not sympathize with the recording industry. The editorials were full of comments about “the need to adapt” and “don’t protect broken business models.”

Still, the real strength of DeLong's work -- and it's well worth the time you'll need to invest in it -- is his revelation of something that's been a regular meme in this space: many parts of this change in media is a change, really, in technology.

He highlights three previous great changes in media, although may favorite is the second one:

The nature of the newspaper itself—a cheap, portable, disposable, random access device that could serve as a platform for content of all kinds. Think of it as 19th-century broadband.

At the end, you get the sense that DeLong is OK with these shifts, and thus the main reason why today we buy compact flourecent light bulbs and don't worry about trimming our wicks and restocking the whale tallow for tomorrow night's reading.

Play the Woman, Not the Uniform

I've said it over and over regarding Tennessee to our own team: when you worry about the Orange, rather than matching up with the person -- you're done.

So far tonight, Auburn is playing the woman, not the unis. Right now, a 18 point Auburn second half lead. That would be tough to overcome. Tigers may be on the way to a very rare regular season-tournament sweep in SEC women's basketball.

Nothing Like a Good Library

Yeah, I know -- the true geek comes out when you make travel commentary on a local library, but the reality is there's nothing like a good, relaxing visit to a quality library. Particularly when you've already exhausted the local options.

The downtown public library here in Little Rock is one of those such spaces, and the friends of the library bookstore next door (OK across the parking lot, but it seems next door). It also afforded me the chance to do a little reviewing on Manjoo Farhad's True Enough -- a book I'd struggled to find sitting on anyone else's books shelf.

The CALS (Central Arkansas Library System) is also the home to a real hidden gem -- the Jay Miller Aviation Collection. Jay had one of the largest private collections of aviation books, real obscure texts and primary documents like NOTAMs and FAA regs.

Not the first time a road library has come to the rescue. The Nashville, Tenn., downtown branch got me up close with Neil Postmann's Amusing Ourselves to Death before I could find my own copy through the used books store system.

Rating libraries by the recent visits:

Nashville downtown (which also has one of the best little brassaries located inside the building)
Seattle downtown (fabulous architecture)
Little Rock downtown (I even liked the old location away from the new sparkling River Walk building)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Facebook's Security Weakness

The thing about Facebook's security is it is based on people. Friends can become enemies and copy party pics out. Friends can think its funny and post your intimate poses. But above all, when you post those nudes, you better assume that since people are involved, they will violate your security.

Case in point at UMass-Dartmouth as a sys admin got sacked for using his privileges within the campus IT to get access to female coed's Facebook accounts, then copy out the photos he wanted.

Yes, he shouldn't be doing it; but I return to the first rule of social network security:

Digitial assets are extremely portable, and once posted, belong to the world.

I know he was very, very wrong. The victim contributed to the risk to herself by posting the photos to begin with. That's not some "the person asked for it" defense -- absolutely not. No one deserves to be publicly embarrassed on-line.

Back in the day, risque photos were kept in the back drawer. Today, they are out for the world to see.

Make no mistake, this guy was a creep, with a webcam and some attempted upskirt shots also found on the hard drive.

For a more chilling view, read the Wired Campus Blog's entry today at The Chroncle.

Welcome to North Little Rock

The week's festivities for the SEC Women's Tournament are underway. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks are out in the first game. We're getting ready for the second session, and we are officially at a three Rocky Top count. (If you're here, ask me and I'll explain).

ALLTEL Arena -- or should I say Verizon? -- is a good venue for the event, not just because its a three hour commute for our folks. The downtown district on both sides of the river is great, the Clinton Library is a must regardless of your political perspective. Lots of cool eateries and night spots.

Meanwhile, back to monitoring the live stat feeds.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy 25th

How stupid am I? Today is my 25th wedding anniversary, and when Libby and I got married I was never, ever thinking that this would be a problem.

Then I got into sports information. We should have figured out this was bad when one of our first anniversaries was spent on a road trip. Now, granted, it was to Alaska for the old Northern Lights Invitational and we remember it fondly. However, since getting with the SEC, I've missed almost all the anniversaries running the stats for the tournament.

Fortunately for me, I've got the greatest spouse in the world. She has been incredibly tolerant of the sacrifice of not being home on March 3 for my job and for the SEC tournament. Getting to do that has been a privilege for 15 of the past 17 years. Today is one of those rare exceptions -- I don't have to leave for Little Rock until Wednesday morning. With any luck, we'll actually get to go out to dinner tonight (baring surprises from work).

Happy 25 honey.

Loading Media

Standing at the business end of a huge HP UV printer waiting for a set of color proofs for a project, the status display of the unit is flashing "Loading Media." A moment later, it announces "Media Jammed." The owner explains the printer has such high tolerance that it notices and alerts on the slightest variations in thickness. No small issue since this baby prints from text paper to 1/4-inch ultra-board.

That's when it hits me again -- it really is about the content, not the media.

You can feed anything into this printer. As the print shop guy said, the proofs of my layout and artwork would be good enough now to be a placemat -- sealed, water resistant thanks to the process.

It's not the media that matters, it's the content we put on it. Whether it's paper or screens, the content is the key.

Why can't we get past using that term -- media -- to refer to the content producers? We dumped "press" like the antiquity we perceived it to have become. The "media" aren't the people that produce what we want to know, to read, to see, to hear. The media is the delivery system.

Right now, it's the delivery system is jammed. Might just be that it's too thick -- imagine that.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Montgomery? Crimson Tide?

Working my way through Sal Paolantonio's book, How Football Explains America, and there's good and bad. The concept is solid, and some of the research is interesting. The repetitive nature of some of the copy makes me think it would have been best served as a series of magazine articles -- the same text cycles in a way that tends to pad chapters.

I like his points about the expression of manifest destiny and the zeitgeist of America built into the game.

But, if you're going to be one of ESPN's lead analysts for football, you really need to know that the University of Alabama is not in Montgomery. When speaking of Bart Starr, who was born and raised in Montgomery, didn't play his games there.

"But this was before Paul 'Bear' Bryant was brought home to coach Alabama, and Starr's final two years in Montgomery did not go well."

Sal, you do know the SEC closest to Montgomery is Auburn? I'd like to think this was a bad proof reader at the publisher, as there were correct references to Starr's birth place, then a following reference on the next page that was vague enough to not say they had confused Tuscaloosa and Montgomery.

It's the most obvious factual error in the book, but Paolantonio plays a little loose with his historical interpretations during the turn of the 20th century cross overs. Trying to tie the start of football to Davy Crockett, linking American's desire to associate and group together to the invention of the huddle and equating the Patriot's signal stealing scam with America's victory at Midway -- these are a bit of stretch. No, seriously:

"Yes, let's call it what it is: you've got to try to steal their signals. Don't be squemish about it. It's the American way. How do you think America won World War II?"

Sal, that's not the American way. That's the military way. The Germans were stealing British intelligence, the British were reading American mail, the Japanese were infiltrating the Hawai'ian island. But not halfway down the same page:

"But equating football to actual combat is an affront to anybody who has ever served in uniform."

Then why in the world did you, Sal.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Happy 450th Post & Let It Snow

Hooray snow! Snow leaving Fayetteville, and even better, snow in Auburn. Big, sloppy snowflakes, and by game time today about two inches on the ground.

Two great mysteries. First, how in the world did Cheeburger, Cheeburger! -- the Auburn originated southern premium hamburger chain -- fail in Fayetteville? It's always a pleasure to visit the mothership here near Toomer's Corner. The second mystery -- how does Books A Million fail in Auburn. A major university town without a major big box books store? They've even got a Barnes in Starkville (granted, it doubles I think as the campus book store).

The big upside of the snow here was being the "northerner", non plused by the flakes. Meanwhile, dozens -- maybe close to a 100 -- students and locals flocking to the front of Sanford Hall to pose with the snow and the snowmen.

Let's hope there is a de-icer at the local airport.