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Iranian President under fire again
By Bob Stewart
A picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad consoling the 78-year-old mother of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at his funeral has Iranian holy clerics in an uproar. In this incident he violated the Iranian ban on touching an unrelated woman. This is not the first time Ahmadinejad has offended the Iranian clerics. In fact, it is just the most recent in a long line of serious transgressions. (See story and picture here: http://tinyurl.com/bcoz2jh )
10 December 2010 – Ahmadinejad ate food at an event hosted by Nelson Mandela. The food itself was acceptable, but consuming the property of an orphan is not. Mandela was raised as a ward of the state.
13 February 2010 – The lines to the restrooms were long at a rally to condemn homosexuality. Needing to pee very badly, Ahmadinejad used the first available stand-up urinal. Many clerics cited this as a violation of the rule to protect oneself from urine. Ahmadinejad supporters point out there was no evidence of an accident.
17 January 2006 – At a monthly meeting of the “Friends of the Axis of Evil,” Ahmadinejad was allegedly dealing cards in a poker game with Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and actor Gary Busey, which violated a ban on gambling.
24 July 2007 – An anonymous high-ranking cleric accused Ahmadinejad of being skimpy on his Zakāt payment.
11 March 2009 – At the annual Tehran Carnival and Bazaar, Ahmadinejad began juggling for a group of kids, which violated a ban on “showing off.” Supporters argued that juggling is not that big of a deal and it is hardly “showing off.” Clerics countered that he crossed the line when he moved from three tangerines to five knives with flaming handles all while riding a unicycle and balancing a bowling ball on his nose. Further, they maintain that the only acceptable excuse for juggling is when you juggle the severed heads of infidels.
21 December 2012 – Clerics accused Ahmadinejad of having a suspiciously light schedule for the day, leading them to think that he sinned by believing in astrologers, in this case, the Mayans.
25 October 2008 – Dismayed clerics found Ahmadinejad’s iPhone, which had various ringtones for Iranian and other world leaders. Some selections included Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, The Clash’s “London Calling” for Tony Blair, The Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” for George Bush, Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” for Vladimir Putin, and Rick James’s “Super Freak” for former U.S. President Bill Clinton, all of which violated the ban on 80s music.
The Papal Conclave Conference
Monday 11 March 2013
6:00am Registration. Coffee, tea & consecrated crumpets
7:00am Holy Mass with record-breaking homily attempt by Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo
10:00-10:50am Holy Seminars
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi: “Disguising your handwriting for the Papal voting ballot” (John Paul II Exhibit Hall A)
Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto: “Women: Is there even a remote chance they will ever be qualified to celebrate the Mass?” (Clement X Hall)
Bishop Thomas Olmsted: “American Catholics: Should we just tell them they only have to come to church on Christmas and Easter?” (Saint Pontian Auditorium)
11:00-11:50am Holy Seminars
Seamus Martin: “The Pope in the media: Scandals, molesters, and big hats – oh my!” (Constantine Theatre)
Tom and Ray Maggliozzi “Keeping your Popemobile in tip-top shape” (Venerable Pope Pius XII Hall)
Rabbi David Fox Sandmel: “Getting along with Jews, Muslims and Kardashians in the 21st century” (Pope Honorius III Hall)
12:00-12:50pm Lunch (Padre Pio Cafeteria)
1:00-1:50 Private prayer and reflection
2:00-3:20 Wine tasting (Vatican Pub&Grille)
3:30-4:50 Keynote Address
Speaker: Hologram Pope John Paul II with special guest Dalai Lama (Sistine Chapel)
4:50-5:00pm The serious seminar series
Cardinal Bernard Law: “Counseling the victims of pedophile priests” (Pope Leo Pavilion)
Cardinal Edward Egan: “Helping families cope with homosexual members” (Pope Julius II Chapel)
5:00-7:00 Fish Dinner with choice of Fried Faithful Flounder, Habit Halibut, or Sacred Swordfish
7:00 50/50 tickets available. Proceeds benefit Vatican City under-11 boys soccer team
8:00 Lights out
8:00 Networking mixer, featuring 22-ounce chalices of Sister Margaret Marie McCafferty’s world famous Bloody Mary
9:00 Breakfast (Padre Pio Cafeteria)
10:00-11:50 Final Seminars
Elio Cardinal Sgreccia: “Smoke signals: It’s not all black and white” (Saint Victor VII Hall)
Sister Jeanne Patricia Crowe: “The switch to Gluten Free wafers and organic wine” (St. Cornelius Chapel)
Cardinal Camillo Ruini: “Should Sunday mass schedule be expanded to Monday nights?” (St. Dionysius Hall)
12:00 noon Lunch
2:00 Wagering on possible new Pope’s name
John Paul III 11:1
Pius XIII 20:1
Leo XIV 30:1
Innocent XIV 50:1
Sixtus VI 60:1
Huang I 250,000:1
Jose I 500,000:1
Okonkwo I 750,000:1
Joan II 1,000,000:1
4:00 Private prayer and winning tickets for 50/50 called
5:00 Pontifical selection process commences
What the Phillies need to do to get into the playoffs
By Bob Stewart
With this day off it is a good time to take a look at the rest of the Phils season. They have signed Cole Hamels instead of trading him for picks and prospects. They believe they can contend for at least the new wild card spot for the fifth best team in the league. But with so many teams in front of them, the question is: how do they get there?
Checking out recent history, the Phils can figure out what they may need to clinch that spot. Last year the Atlanta Braves were the fifth best team in the National League. They finished with 89 wins. In the American League, the Boston Red Sox missed with 90. Those numbers hold pretty well all the way back through 2005 which is the year the Phillies began finishing fifth or higher each season. In 2010, The Red Sox missed with 89 and the San Diego Padres missed with 90. Overall through that time the lowest total that would have been good enough for fifth was the 2006 Phillies with 85. The highest total to miss was the 2005 Cleveland Indians with 93.
To be safe the Phils will need 90 wins. The have 45 right now. Friday is the 100th game so they have 63 remaining. That means they need to go 45-18 the rest of the way. That is a pace of five out of every seven games. Daunting but not impossible.Winning two out of every three games is good baseball, but that will only get the team 87 wins. They need to dig a little deeper. It will not happen with way the team played the first half of the season. Even with Utley and Howard back, the rest of the guys will need to pitch in (pun intended).
To put it into perspective within the 2012 season, the Phils need to play better than (.700) baseball, (.714) to be exact. The best team in MLB is the New York Yankees who have a (.602) winning percentage. In the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first 63 games they compiled a 40-23 record, good for tops in the league but five less wins than the Phils need.
The road map is there. It has some steep hills and a few hairpin turns but it exists. Happy trails.
(The following is an op-ed that I submitted to the Washington Post and the Washington Times in March. Neither publication elected to publish it. Feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page.)
The 2012 MLB season is set to begin. That means that just about every day until October there will be 15 stadiums across America full of tens of thousands of fans spending money on food, drink, and parking. The home team fans will make up the majority of folks in attendance, but a portion of those fans will be cheering for the visiting team instead. The summer allows for leisurely travel and overnight or weekend stays. Many fans love to check out Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. Others travel to nearby cities despite the lack of legendary stadiums. Hotels and restaurants benefit greatly from this which is fitting. It is fitting because in many cities, particularly Washington D.C., it is increased business taxes that pay for the stadiums. However, the Washington Nationals have decided to bite the hand that feeds them.
In February the franchise decided to make it difficult for Philadelphia Phillies fans to purchase tickets to the Phillies – Nationals games. The method was simple; they eliminated competition for the tickets from outside the area by allowing only credit cards with local addresses to purchase them. They also limited group sales. Beyond their technical methods, they encouraged season ticket holders to refrain from selling their tickets to the visiting fans the so called “Take Back The Park” effort. Apparently, no part of this effort encourages the season ticket holders to reserve a room at a local hotel and have a meal at one of the D.C. area’s fine dining establishments. Nor do I see the Nationals ownership starting a “Give Back The Tax” effort to reimburse local businesses for their forced investment in the stadium.
It is well known that professional sports is an overall losing money situation for the areas that have them. The only entity making money is the team itself. The returns on the public funds pale in comparison to the expenditure. The construction jobs end and the in-house jobs are part-time and not high paying. The local fans generally go straight to the game and then straight home. One telling piece of evidence is the 1994 MLB Labor dispute was a boon to MLB city restaurants. But visiting fans at least close the gap somewhat. In fact, it is the only real return the teams can provide to local businesses. It delivers outside money that could have gone to any other city in the world. Why would a publicly funded entity, the only one making money from the venture, discourage that?
Bars and restaurants keep a good tally on the ups and downs of their business. I work at a popular Philly sports bar. The increase in business on days when our local teams are playing New York and D.C. area teams results in more people being put on the schedule to work. The difference is clear compared to days when our teams are competing against teams from California, Minnesota, and Texas for example.
Rather than make it difficult for Philadelphians, the Nationals should embrace them. Specially discounted tickets for certain sections would be a good idea. It would corral the visiting fans into a particular area. Multi-game package discounts would encourage overnight stays. When the Nationals improve their on-field product the problem of too many outside fans will take care of itself. Home fans will fill the parks and decide to not sell the tickets they were able to obtain. The local enthusiasm for the home team will result in more people venturing out to watch games with friends and make up for the loss of visiting fans.
In the meantime, excited Phillies fans will spend their money where it is welcomed. The New York and Pittsburgh area businesses will benefit in 2012 from day trips. I’m sure hotels in Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami will be happy to accept the credit cards with addresses located in Southeastern Pennsylvania. And I’m sure the bartenders and servers in those areas will be happy with the 18% gratuity they are given for their work. But don’t fret too much, D.C. area. The nearby Orioles are happy to accept Philadelphia money. The tickets for the Phillies – Orioles games on StubHub are going for more money than any other series. Maybe those enriched workers will spend their money in your area.
By Bob Stewart
The three-team NALL is set to begin play in late January. They have also announced their championship game plans.
“We’re going to play our inaugural title game on March 3rd, in Philadelphia, at the Wells Fargo Center, during halftime of the Wings – Knighthawks game,” said NALL commissioner Tony Caruso. “We are proud to be able to showcase the talent of our league on the stage of one of the most successful NLL franchises. Just think, in a couple of years they will want to have their title games at halftime of our games. I guess it would be at Kentucky since that is our only real team right now.”
The Wells Fargo Center group sales team acknowledged that Caruso requested an information packet. However, a representative also said they have not booked anyone for that date yet. The deadline is a few weeks away.
“I told him he had to hurry if he wants to do our ‘Play Like the Pros’ halftime event. They need to purchase 200 tickets to get field access. Typically the player’s parents and siblings buy the tickets,” the Wings representative said. “He also seemed really interested in the “High Five Tunnel” experience, where his players would get to high five the Wings on their way out to the floor, as well as the ‘Meet and Greet’ with Mad Dog – our mascot.”
Caruso claims he will have the tickets purchased soon as the three team league is well funded. However, they are just having some trouble because the second and third teams were just invented the other day.
“Look, you have to give us a little bit of time is all,” Caruso said. “We are a well organized and highly professional organization. We have a Facebook page and everything.”
Caruso believes they will have players with uniforms and everything in a week or two. One of the first things he will do is make sure the new players have friends that will buy tickets to the big game.
“We’ll recruit world class talented lacrosse players who also have moms and dads who support them in all their endeavors,” Caruso said. “Further, we know these yet to be found players will be able to meet their yet to be named coaches and learn the yet to be determined offensive and defensive systems of indoor lacrosse that those coaches wish to employ. Then they will be able to execute those systems against our one real team, the Kentucky Stickhorses, as well as the Jersey Jesters, a group of paintball players we trained to play lacrosse as a ‘guest team,’ in less than one week.”
The Wells Fargo Center pointed out that another group has also inquired about the March 3rd halftime slot. The Little Laxers Lacrosse League, based in Northeast Philadelphia, claims on their website that March 3rd will be, “Family Night at the Wings Game.” The site also states that the kids will in fact be playing on the turf at halftime.
“Perhaps this Caruso guy can just wait until March 17th or the 25th,” a parent from the Little Laxers said. “It would give him more time to prepare and there is less competition for the space. He may even be able to generate more exposure for the league with a little more time to promote it.”
But Caruso was adamant.“No, no, no! We’ll do it now! The 17th is ‘Irish night’ and our fans will think the Shamrox team we kicked out of the league is back in. The 25th is too late. How long can you run a three team league for crying out loud?” Caruso asked. “We’ll slap an injunction on those little lawless laxers or whatever and shut their website down. March 3rd is our night. We’ll reward all of our loyal players and coaches, even though we don’t have them all just yet, with 15 minutes of fame.”
But even that point was countered by the people at the Wells Fargo Center. “Fifteen minutes? No, I told the dude that we have a local car dealership giving away a free Kia Sorrento to a lucky fan that can score a goal from the other end of the field,” the Wings representative explained. “By the time we get the car off he’ll have about 8 minutes for his kids. Does this guy have any experience being a commissioner?”
Caruso says the league will make the championship game work in the time allotted so long as the Wings flair team can wait until the game is over before they throw free t-shirts into the stands. But he takes issue with questions about his abilities as commissioner.
“I’ll have that guy know that I have over eight years of commissioner experience at the Fantasy Football level,” Caruso explained. “I oversaw a group of my friends transition from a redraft league to a keeper league. Seven of the ten friends dropped out of the league in protest. But the rest of us persevered. Hell, I have Tom Brady as my backup quarterback. What other league can boast prestige like that?”
By Bob Stewart
A growing number of our nation’s neurologists are being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. Players from the NFL are concerned.
Carpal Tunnel is a debilitating condition caused by long periods of typing or repetitive motions. Doctors are susceptible due to constantly writing up reports for medical records and billing insurance companies. Neurologists have seen a major increase due to all the concussion reports they have been typing up for NFL players. This has many players seeking action.
“I can’t stand by and watch my doctor suffer like this. The institution he works for needs to get him better equipment and change the work rules so that his condition is improved,” said Jahvid Best, a running back with the Detroit Lions. “There are easy solutions. But we need to increase education about the situation.”
Indeed, adjustable chairs and ergonomic pads for keyboards would help prevent the onset of Carpal Tunnel. These items can be found at any major office supply store. But some doctors point out that kickbacks and side deals win out over sensible equipment decisions.
“I can’t just go to Staples and buy one of their comfortable chairs,” said a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who opted not to be identified for fear of retribution. “My department head and the facilities manager here have a deal with some guy they played lacrosse with back in the day. He supplies everything, from the chairs to the computers to the damn pens!”
ESPN analyst, and former NFL quarterback, Steve Young had this to say, “You know, neorgists are always worried about us and our heads. I mean I’ve had a concussion or twelve but I can still type despite having a concussion or twelves. Carpal Tunnel, huh? I got lost in a tunnel yesternight.”
But some players think it is a culture problem within the medical community. Fear of losing status or high paying jobs causes some neurologists to deny that they are injured. These players believe that there needs to be top-down assurances from hospital administration to doctors that it is okay to admit injury.
“The administrators need to put wrist-joint health of doctors on the top of their priority list,” said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was sacked over 50 times in 2011. He also pointed out that rules about recovery time need to be instituted, “When a neurologist complains of tingling in his finger tips he needs to be taken out. A seven day resting period followed by an evaluation by an agreed upon independent Orthopedic practitioner.”
Some doctors disagree despite the fact that they are putting themselves in harms way. According to Dr. Drew Jones, who graduated from UCLA, other injuries will just take the place of Carpal Tunnel.
“I ain’t gonna tell on myself. Why would I? So I lay at home for a week just get bed sores instead? No, not me. And if any sissy doctors do tell on themselves I’ll just go take their job if it’s higher paying than mine,” said Jones.
Sadly that is the prevailing thought process. These guys come from families where the only solution to their social situation is to become neurologists.
The unidentified man from Hopkins elaborated. “Listen, on the mean streets where I come from you got few choices. The poorest people on the block make like 85K. You either become a doctor, a lawyer, a U.S. Senator, or you’re just a laughing stock,” he explained. “God forbid you fall short and become a chiropractor or some chump mid-size city Mayor. You think I would give this up because there is some tingling in my fingers? Hell no!”
FOX Sports analyst, and former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman understands but gives this warning.
“I can totally relate to wanting to hang in there. But what about the future? One day you’re going to wake up and not be able to use the envelope opener when your paycheck arrives in the mail,” the Hall of Famer explained. “Or worse, you’ll eat a sandwich that the maid packed for your lunch and you’ll chomp down on that numb pinky finger four or five times, that’s when the reality of it will set in.”