Saturday, December 30, 2006

Video games and the passion of sports

I must confess with some degree of hesitancy that as a 30 year old adult I enjoy a rather juvenile passion-I like video games. More specifically, I enjoy sports video games, and especially (though not exclusively) those produced in the EA Sports line, such as Madden's NFL series, NCAA Football series, MLB, and NCAA Basketball.

One of the reasons I enjoy these sorts of games (and have since PlayStation first became popular-I was still in college back in those days) is largely due to the fact that I was never able to play these sports growing up, and I had an insatiable love of sports, as many boys do. My wife can verify that she does not like to sit in the same room with me while I watch a football game. I usually coach the television, hollering at it what play to call, who to throw to, when to hand off to the fullback instead of the tailback, and what defense to run on the next series. For some reason, my wife sees fit to remind me that utterly no one can actually hear me make these overtures, and so they are a senseless exercise in futility. While she is quite correct, my mind and my emotions often separate when viewing a sporting activity.

Baseball is even worse, because in high school I was an actual first base coach for the Junior Varsity, or reserve team. When a player does something stupid on the basepaths during a game, I tend to react. I once fumed excessively during the 1998 Division Series when Mickey Morandini made a baserunning miscalculation that ultimately cost my beloved Cubs the game and eliminated them from the playoffs that year. One of my old baseball-watching buddies later told me that I mumbled under my breath "that's the dumbest thing I have ever seen..." and broke down the bad logistics of the play in question in whispers for over three hours.

I'd rather get mad about sports than over-react to something far more important, and sports often provide a needed escape from the more harsh realities of life. Many of the modern video games are built on a concept of realism that is so advanced that the coaching is left entirely to the gamer, so if there is a mistake in a playcall or a coaching error, the only person the player has to blame is themself.

Of course, I don't have a whole lot of time to pour into sports video games these days, but the fact that I enjoy them for the sake of their realism (at my age) is a testimony to just how good some of them really are.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Give us a fighting Mumpower

In today's radio podcast, I discuss in great detail Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower's seeming fear of the blogosphere and what he can do to win the Tennessee blogosphere (on the right) over after a bitter leadership fight in which most conservative Tennessee bloggers supported his opponent.

I can't speak for other bloggers, but contrary to Kleinheider's assertion, I am not bought with lunch or coffee. I think those are lovely gestures and I will certainly accept them if offered, but it takes more than my favorite espresso or steak house to convince me of someone or something, I need to both hear and see someone willing to "fight the power."

I am willing to hear Mumpower out, and I am sure other bloggers are too, if he is open to talking to us (and I mean really talking-answer the hard questions, no fluff). I am willing to be convinced if Mumpower is willing to convince me, and he doesn't even have to buy me coffee to do it.

I also discuss the college bowl situation and Rutgers' surprise (to me, anyway) defeat of Kansas State in the Texas Bowl last night.

Oatney On the Air-December 29, 2006

(NOTE: I apologize for the call/break in mid-show. By next week I will have a new voicemail system installed that should remedy this problem.)


Mumpower and the blogosphere

The World has heard from several sources that can be deemed highly reliable that new Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower does not think too highly of the blogosphere. Even without hearing this from outside sources, this was something that I suspected since the day Mumpower was elected. After all, there were mysterious anonymous comments that I suspect may have either come from Mumpower or a source within the Capitol (a staffmember or a legislative supporter) close to Mumpower. Supposedly, Mumpower has told several different people that he "does not care" what the blogs say (presumably about him), and he has reportedly taken an uppity attitude toward members of the blogging community who have some political pull over and above their contributions to blogging.

I realize that there are still many leaders who tend to shrug off the blogosphere, and with some good reason. Public access to the internet, though very widespread, is still not high enough on a national scale for the readership of blogs to be widespread also. Readership is steadily increasing, however, as access to the internet increases, and people without the internet at home begin to discover the blogosphere through libraries and public portals. The day will come (not far off) when blogs have far more political influence nationally than they have now, though their primary use will continue to be as a tool for organization.

There is also the issue of the uniqueness of Tennessee's political blogosphere. Since I not only write a blog and host a daily podcast, but read other Tennessee bloggers daily, I can say without any reservation that Tennessee political bloggers provide the best coverage of the General Assembly of any news source in this State that is disseminated widely among the public. If Jason Mumpower wants people to know what is really happening on the Hill, and he wants to get the word out about the GOP agenda, he had better take a different attitude toward the blogosphere. Tennessee also has one of the best (in terms of numbers and readership) and most diverse political blogospheres in the whole Union. Our blogosphere boasts people from both sides of the aisle and all sides of the political spectrum. We enjoy solid contributions from writers, attorneys, political insiders, elected officials, musicians, journalists, television and radio personalities, activists, and "everyday citizens," all right here in Tennessee. None of us are people who sit around and do nothing, we act on the beliefs about which we write-and since that is the case, it would benefit Jason Mumpower to open himself up to the blogosphere a bit more than he is apparently willing to do.

The truth is, however, that I do think Mumpower cares what bloggers are thinking and saying about him. I think he does care that when he announced for a Leadership race against Bill Dunn, the Tennessee blogosphere on the right was in overwhelming support-of Dunn. I think he does care that he was hammered for even challenging the amiable and popular now-former Leader who was well-respected on both sides of the aisle, and I think he does care that in victory he gets no love, because his victory appears shady at best. I think he does care that the grassroots people who tend to be the ones most likely to be bloggers still support Bill Dunn. I think he cares about all of this and I think that is exactly why he is pretending he doesn't care.

Jason, all you need to do is the right thing and bloggers on the right will be the best friends you have ever had. If you do things that aren't good, don't expect mercy from us. But it would do you well to understand that we can help you-especially in a State like Tennessee with such a diverse blogosphere-get the word out about Republican and conservative plans for Tennessee's future. That is, of course, if your vision of the future is a conservative one.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford and football

Today's radio podcast deals with two separate and totally unrelated issues, united only in the reality that the late former President Gerald Ford was an all-American football player at Michigan and helped win back-to back national championships in 1932 and 1933.

First I further elaborate on the passing of President Ford, and discuss the thoughts of some Tennesseans about Ford, his life, and his legacy. I reveal my "true" opinion of Ford's politics, and temper that against his now-posthumous post-Watergate image. It has always struck me as odd that people ready to hang you from the rafters when you are an elected leader are praising you as The Great One once you are passed on.

In spite of my opinion of Ford's personal politics, I still believe he was exactly what our country needed and he was a real and genuine statesman-his modesty and humility was not an act. In our modern political, we need a few more people who are as humble and self-sacrificing as Gerald Ford was, and I say that as someone who admittedly didn't like Ford's brand of Republicanism.

Our second issue is my picks for the winners of college football bowl games and who will (and should) win this year's football national championship.

Oatney On the Air-December 28, 2006


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Ford, not a Lincoln

My radio show today was a bit shorter than normal, but was a tribute to former President Gerald Ford, who died yesterday. I spoke of Ford's willingness to sacrifice his own political career to do what was best for our country over the long term, a virtue sorely lacking in today's leaders.

Oatney On the Air-December 27th, 2006


Gerald R. Ford 1913-2006

I was retiring to bed last night when I got the news that President Gerald R. Ford had died. I had mixed feelings. I didn't think Ford was a particularly good President, and we come from different wings of the Republican Party. Ford liked to keep company with the Rockefellers, while I despise the Rockefellers as an institution (though I have no personal hatred for any of them). My family (on my mother's side) and the Rockefellers have a mutual dislike for one another that goes back to Jay Rockefeller's entry into West Virginia politics. In fact, I wouldn't even say it is mutual dislike-we didn't care for the Rockefellers, I don't know if they thought anything at all about our clan.

President Ford, however, was fond enough of that gang to make one of them his Vice President. His political acumen was lacking greatly, and he wasn't ready to be President, and this was painfully apparent. But there was another side to Ford. It was the side that helped heal the nation after the Watergate Scandal tarnished the people's image of the Presidency. Ford was a clumsy fellow, but the whole country saw him as a kind of national antiseptic being poured on to an open wound, and he did a wonderful job of cleaning out the infection.

So eager was Ford to bring healing that he and his wife Betty agreed to make public her difficulty with alcoholism in order to help others in the same situation. Even Ford's most famous political "mistake" was rooted in a desire to bring healing. Ford's pardon of Nixon brought him defeat in
1976, and he knew that it likely would, but he said of the pardon:

"If I had not granted a pardon, Mr. Nixon would have been indicted and convicted and there would have been an appeal and there would have been a three- or four-year period ... that issue would be the headline.

"We had to get that off the front page. The only way to do it was to make a decisive mood, grant pardons, and get on with the business of the country. At the time, the public did not generally understand the reasons for the pardon. Time has convinced most people, well over a majority."

Ford was right, and in time even senior Democrats would see the wisdom of what he had done. For having cared more about healing our land than about his own political head, Gerald Ford deserves all of the gratitude that our nation can give him.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oatney on the Air-the odd Christmas e-mail

In today's edition of Oatney On the Air I discuss an e-mail that I received on (of all days) Christmas Eve in strong defense of the new Tennessee House Minority Leader, Jason Mumpower. Representative Mumpower has been the object of some criticism and a great deal of skepticism by myself, as well as by some members of the House Republican Caucus.

I also discuss the twisted nature of modern American Christmas celebrations, and an interactive online listener joins the discussion at the end of the show.

Oatney On the Air-December 26th, 2006


We are such Scrooges

In our peculiar case as a people, our tendency to simply stop celebrating Christmas at 12:01am this morning is partly rooted in the over-saturation we have in all things Christmas from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. I'm not saying that some of the things done during that time don't have a place or shouldn't have a place at the table of holiday celebration, just that we tend to overdo it, and by the time December 26th rolls around we're just tired of Christmas and we've lost the true spirit of this special time of year. We can blame the problem in part on overzealous retailers anxious for that holiday dollar. After all, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is really a glorified Christmas parade on a day when I am more concerned about what pies we will have to choose from at dinner than I am about shopping for presents.

The merchants (some of whom are so intent on turning the birth of Christ into dollars that they remind me of the moneychangers in the Temple) are not the only ones to blame for the oversaturation that leads to a fast shutdown of Christmas at the end of December 25th. We all collectively revel in the flood of early Christmas imagery. The Town of White Pine (where I happen to live) had its Christmas Parade earlier this month. White Pine is really a wide spot in the road and we don't have a lot of big retail stores looking to make large amounts money-the Dollar General Store and the Food City are the extent of our holiday economic engine. I thoroughly enjoyed the parade, and I thought that everyone did a wonderful job. You could tell the kids just loved it. The parade happened to be on December 2nd, however. Christmas was 23 days away and judging by appearances that day you would have thought it was Christmas Eve. No wonder we as a culture are so enthusiastic about the coming of Christmas, but so quick to dismiss it after only one measly day.

Contrary to both the culture and popular belief,
Christmas is not over. Today is the second day of Christmas and day two in the Christmas Octave. It also happens to be the Feast of Stephen -the same Feast of Stephen mentioned in the carol Good King Wenceslas. There are still ten days of Christmas left after today and six days remaining in the Christmas Octave. We have enough Christmas in us to run roughshod over normalcy from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, but not enough Christmas within us to continue celebrating Christmas during Christmas.

Scrooge would be proud.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today is the Fourth Sunday and final day of Advent.

Luke 1:26-55:

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

I have often called today (Christmas Eve) "the old curiosity shop," because tonight we will see many of our Protestant brothers and sisters at Mass-people we do not see the rest of the year. For some, it will be the first time they have ever experienced the customs of Catholic liturgy. I recall last year when I attended Midnight Mass at Holy Ghost, Father Brent Shelton, the associate pastor, had to stop someone returning from the Communion line. The reason was because he saw them attempt to place Our Lord, who was present in the form of a consecrated host, in their pocket. Our Lord's Body may be placed in one's mouth, of course, but not in your pocket. We will also see come tonight Catholics who have been away from the faith, and this time of year may be the only time we see these people in a church.

As often as I rail against "Christmas and Easter Catholics," it is important to remember that these days of the year are truly days that the Lord has given to the Holy Catholic Church to be a supreme witness to the Truth, both to Catholics who are fallen away as well as to our Separated Brethren. As Mary gave a testimony to her cousin Elizabeth of her gratitude because of the Lord's favor, so we must use the opportunity that this Blessed and Holy Season to give a testimony to the Truth. Christ said to Pontius Pilate that the reason he was born and came into the world was to testify to the Truth-so must we, and how much more fitting than to give this testimony as the Body of Christ in the season of Our Lord's Birth.


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