I’ve seen America, and his name is Joe

If you watched the presidential debate last night, you no doubt heard the many references by John McCain and Barack Obama to “Joe the plumber,” which might as well be written Joe the Plumber with a capital P, seeing as that’s his official name as far as the media is concerned. (Read more…)

Idiocy du jour: CNN’s debate EKG

CNN's debate EKGCheck this shit out (Fig. 1). McCain and Obama square off on the issues while partisan, color-coded lines tell you how much the candidates rock/suck.

Although I’ve railed on CNN in the past, I think their election coverage and analysis team on the whole has been top-notch. Even though I want to stab Wolf Blitzer with a screwdriver every time he parrots “the best political team on television,” I happen to believe that CNN does in fact have the best and fairest analyst group, and I must also confess that even John King’s overly informative Delegate Map (seen in the primaries, and certain to be seen on Nov. 4) is pretty darn cool.

But CNN still has a tendency to get bogged down in their goofy technological gimmicks, and the most recent and flagrant example has got to be that EKG-looking thing during the recent presidential and vice-presidential debates.

This thing is just plain stupid.

If you haven’t seen it, the way it works is this: A group of participants is selected and is given a dial that works not unlike the darkness selector on a toaster. During the debate, the participants turn the knobs either toward positive or negative to reflect their feelings based on what they’re hearing. Plus for positive (I like what I’m hearing); minus for negative (I don’t like what I’m hearing). Got it? The results are tallied in real time and fed to the readout which appears on the screen during the debate, sort of like a live heart monitor for debating acumen. (Read more…)

Race to the White House: The sports event of 2008

John King and the Delegate MapCheck this shit out (Fig. 1). CNN’s John King proves that election coverage is not only sports coverage, but a video game you can play yourself.

As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to watching sports, there’s only one season that really matters to me: NFL season. From September until the Super Bowl, I watch football like an addict. Two games on Sunday — maybe even three — and then ESPN analysis. SportsCenter. NFL Primetime. Basically, any knowledgeable analysis of football becomes raw nourishment for my need to understand in detail what has happened and will happen on Any Given Sunday.

And when these football professionals talk, it sure sounds convincing. They can predict the future, give their reasons, and make it plausible. And it’s fascinating. They may end up being wrong (and who among them wasn’t wrong about the Patriots versus the Giants?), but that goes with the territory. (Read more…)

We’re a nation of knee-jerk responders

On Tuesday, about 45 miles from where I live, in the small central Illinois town of Pontiac, there was what’s known as a “gun scare” in a high school. What that means is there was no actual violence, no one was hurt, and no threats were made. (Read more…)

Save/Ban the Chief!


University of Illinois graduate student Dan Maloney portrays Chief Illiniwek at halftime of the Illinois-Northwestern basketball game at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Illinois, on Feb. 18, 2007. The dance was the UI mascot’s next-to-last performance after the UI board of trustees announced Chief Illiniwek would be retired. (AP Photo)

There are some controversial issues that I find I have no strong feelings about either way, until finally I find myself picking a side in the interests of whatever will fastest end the controversy, because I want the damn thing resolved already.

I was a student on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1994 to 1998. For that entire time, I was a staff member at The Daily Illini, the student newspaper. Also during that entire time, there was the tiresome, never-ending debate over Chief Illiniwek, the school’s mascot/symbol. (I have to be careful what I call it. Some pro-Chief supporters will chide me for calling it a “mascot” and point out that it’s actually an honorable “symbol.”) (Read more…)

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