Archive for December, 2012

An historic model of peace under fire

Friday, December 28th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Last week Shinzo Abe was elected as Japan’s new prime minister. Abe has promised to review Japan’s post-WWII constitutional security policies and no one seems even remotely concerned that the only national to have ever constitutionally rejected war, is on the path to rearmament. After WWII, Japanese policymakers made it unconstitutional to have a military, in an act of defiance to their American occupiers who were intent on rebuilding the defeated nation as an armed ally in the impending Cold War.

Since signing its new constitution, Japan has prospered economically, going from a nation leveled by firebombing and atomic weapons, to one of the strongest economies in the world. Not having to seep money into a bloated defense budget has been one of the attributes lending to Japan’s economic success, though there have been many other contributions.

Today Japanese WWII-era policy makers having passed from power, policy makers who understood firsthand the horrors of war after they had witnessed their friends and loved ones mutilated or burned to death. Since new generations, who cannot recollect the horrendous nature of war, have come to power in Japan there has been a concerted push to reinstate the military. Already Japan has developed a small military under the pretense of creating a defense force. Japan even committed a small symbolic detachment to the war in Iraq dispute, explicit warnings that the gesture would garner Japanese citizens negative and unnecessary attention from extremists.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

Friday, December 28th, 2012
Patrick Newell

You may have heard of the Sports Illustrated jinx. It’s an urban legend that foretells bad luck for the person who graces the cover. The same jinx, quite often, has applied to our Athlete of the Week. That feature has run intermittently the past three decades While bad luck does not always befall our star athlete, I would estimate close to one-third of the time, said athlete either has a subpar game or his team loses. Has that jinx now extended to my blogging? Using last week’s entry as an example, the answer would be an emphatic yes! My top item of interest last Friday was the undefeated starts of the Bainbridge-Guilford and Norwich basketball teams. What happened that evening? Both clubs lost. I also lauded the incredible start of Oxford senior Andrew Golden. Golden subsequently scored his season-low point total – 17 – in a loss to Delhi. Still, Golden is averaging 26.2 points per game, and his “low” scoring total is the average the next-best scorer in the area, and 11 1/2 points more than the third leading scorer.

Speaking of unbeaten, I have compiled a list of wrestlers who have maintained unblemished records through the first month of the season. While there are some wrestlers with two, three or four matches who have not lost, my one caveat to qualify is that the wrestler must have competed in at least one tournament and two dual meets. Right now, five wrestlers qualify with all sporting at least a 6-0 record or more. Making the grade are Jesse Griswold, B-G/Afton; Mike Beckwith and Joel Roselle of Greene; Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich; and Joe Nelson of Oxford. Griswold and Rifanburg are both competing in the same weight class at the Windsor Tournament this week, so one of the two will lose their perfect mark by week’s end.

Treacherous road conditions claimed the life of Norwich graduate and former athlete, Casey Decker, Thursday. Decker was part of a standout group of NHS gymnasts in the late 1990s, who set numerous records under longtime head coach Gloria “Scotty” Decker, Casey’s mother. Staff photographer Frank Speziale took dozens of photos of Decker and her teammates, and we regularly featured Casey in our sports section. As tiny as Casey was, I will always remember her explosiveness combined with her grace.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

A not so complicated solution to a very complicated problem

Friday, December 21st, 2012
Shawn Magrath

The NRA waited a week to respond to the tragedy in Sandy Creek. Their solution: have an armed guard in every school. An entire week and that’s what they came up with; fight gun violence in schools by putting guns in schools. What can go wrong with that?

This is not a rant for stricter gun regulations, nor an attempt to feed the ill-educated conspiracy theory that the US government is enacting a total gun ban. This is a plea to keep guns out of schools – all guns out of all schools.

I’m a firm believer that our culture, our general way of life, has played a huge role in the acts of senseless shootings in recent years. Early pregnancies, broken families, conflicting work schedules, television, video games, toys, books, magazines, everything that makes us… well, us: it can all cumulate into one incredibly troubled individual if poorly handled. Given, there are some things that are beyond our control. But for the things within our control, it’s time to be proactive.

More gun regulations just opens the door for an incredibly dangerous and incredibly costly black market; and the advice of the NRA turns schools into nothing better than a prison, minus the orange jumpsuits. I think the solution is not to restrict guns. It’s certainly not to add guns. You want to help combat the growing epidemic of shootings and ungodly devastation? Hug your kid!

On a separate note, today, of course, is the end of the world. I just want to say, this has been the worst apocalypse ever.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Patrick Newell

State rankings at this time of the year mean little to coaches. We’re not even one-third of the way through a 2 1/2-month season, and most mentors will point out the most important ranking is the last one when all the games are completed. Still talking up the rankings makes for good watercooler fodder, and the ranking demonstrates that pundits in my line of work appreciate what a team has done through the first three weeks of the season. As of last week, Norwich’s boys basketball team was ranked number 12 in the Class B poll, while Bainbridge-Guilford’s lads are number 14 among Class C schools. Both clubs recently improved to 5-0 on the season, the best basketball records of any team we cover in Chenango County. In reaching it’s 5-0 mark, Norwich is allowing less than 40 points per game. Head coach Tom Collier will be the first to say he hasn’t beaten a murderer’s row of opponents, but holding teams to 37.8 points per game — with a 30-second shot clock and an inviting three-point line – is impressive. In those five games, Norwich is scoring 55 points per game, or about 5 1/2 points less per game than last year’s Class B sectional champion. In the end, does it really matter how many you score as long as it is more than the opponent?

Over at Bainbridge-Guilford, the club is guided by B-G alum Greg Warren. Warren returned to the school district about five years ago to assume the director of athletics position. Last year he took over for Ben Nelson as head basketball coach, and the momentum last year’s club had in the second half of last year has carried over to this year. The Bobcats started 2-4, but finished 11-7 in the regular season before losing its first-round sectional playoff game. B-G’s best record over the past 17 years was a 17-5 mark during the 2003-2004 season, and that winning percentage may be eclipsed. How is this year’s B-G club getting the job done? Offensive and defensive balance. The Bobcats have four players scoring in double figures – Corbin Palmer, Austin Bauerle, Brooks Harmon, and Lucas Butcher. Bauerle leads the team in rebounding, but everyone contributes to the rebounding numbers. Warren is typically low-key and understated in his post-game comments, and his team is flying under the radar – so far. Friday, we’ll see where the Bobcats stack up in the Midstate Athletic Conference when they host last year’s league champion, Unatego.

A few years ago I was researching Chenango County’s all-time basketball scoring leaders. Studying the men, I came across Sherburne-Earlville’s Bob White, who amassed over 1,600 points in three varsity seasons for the Marauders. White’s junior season was particularly impressive as he maintained a 30 points per game average over 20-plus games. A jump shooter with incredible range, White had the green light to shoot once he crossed halfcourt. It’s impossible to calculate what he may have averaged with the benefit of the three-point line, but our guess is that you could probably raise his career points by at least 25 to 30 percent. I was reminded of White after looking at this year’s early-season scoring leaders. Oxford senior Andrew Golden is off to the fastest start we’ve seen in two decades. Through four games, Golden is averaging 28.5 points per game. If that holds, it would be the second highest single season scoring average since White’s 30.0 average 40 years ago. As a measure of comparison, the area’s second leading scorer this year, Dan Treadwell of Greene, is putting up 17.0 per game, or nearly a dozen less per game than Golden.

Back to Collier, who was able to find some humor following Tuesday’s win over Windsor. Collier had an 11-man roster at the end of last week. That number dwindled to six, temporarily, after a series of unfortunate events. In one fell swoop, Collier lost one player to eligibility, three to injury, and another fell ill on the bus ride home from Windsor. Collier expects one or two of those kids back for Friday’s game at Johnson City, and has added some junior varsity players to the roster to give him at least 10 for practices. Regarding the injuries: “I knew I was in trouble after the Windsor game when I went to fill out the accident report sheets, and I had to make extra copies because I didn’t have enough,” the NHS coach said.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Another hallmark of goat fanaticism falls victim

Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Since 1966, a guerilla war has raged beyond the confines Sweden’s Scandinavian shoals. Authorities have battled each year to protect a majestic goat, constructed out of 3.6 tons of hay. The elephantine goat is erected every holiday season as a Scandinavian symbol of gift-giving, predating Santa Claus.

Over the past 56 years, only 12 of the goats have survived the onslaught of arsonist Swedes, who annually concoct schemes of goatly demise. This year, the goat hunters were able to evade security patrols, and set the mountain-high Scandinavian Yule symbol alight, even despite an icy coating designed as a flame retardant.

In years past the goat nimrods have utilized other means to dispose of the afront to grinchdom. In 1976 there was the famous high-velocity frontal assault with a car bumper. Then there was the confounded ploy of 2010, to swoop in low with a helicopter, and whisk the towering hay bail away to Stockholm.

Although the prodigious goat met its demise via inferno, the contest of wills shall resume once more next holiday season. With no end to the hostilities in sight, the Swedish goat wars may one day spell doom for giant symbolic goats across the world.

Editor’s Notebook: 12/18/12

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Jeff Genung
• So much sadness and horror in Connecticut on Friday that it almost made me glad we don’t publish over the weekend. Although media-bashing is a popular sport post-any tragedy, I feel confident in speaking for my journalistic brethren when I say that no one “enjoys” this kind of reporting. Misinformation leaked out, lines of propriety were both blurred and crossed, but I can assure you no one was having the proverbial “field day” among the throngs of media that descended upon Newtown that day or since. Sometimes, this job is as ugly as the things to which we bear witness.
• I’m not even sure what a “field day” is, really. Pretty sure I’ve never had one.
• On a brighter note, I’m going to pour myself a stiff glass of eggnog tonight and “help” St. Nick respond personally to all the “Letters to Santa” we’ve received on his behalf at The Evening Sun this year. My trusty staff of elves helped with the first batch Friday afternoon (every kiddie who writes in gets a personalized response), and tonight I’ll bat clean up. So far, the best request was “I want my mom to be skinny.” There’s only so much Santa can do, kid. That, and the preponderance of requests (seriously, there were multiple) for duct tape. Duct tape. For Christmas. Not even sure what to do with that one.
• Every letter we received by deadline (yesterday) will be published in a special section this Friday, the last of our “Delivering Christmas” editions. It’s a keeper, for sure.

• So much sadness and horror in Connecticut on Friday that it almost made me glad we don’t publish over the weekend. Although media-bashing is a popular sport post-any tragedy, I feel confident in speaking for my journalistic brethren when I say that no one “enjoys” this kind of reporting. Misinformation leaked out, lines of propriety were both blurred and crossed, but I can assure you no one was having the proverbial “field day” among the throngs of media that descended upon Newtown that day or since. Sometimes, this job is as ugly as the things to which we bear witness.

• I’m not even sure what a “field day” is, really. Pretty sure I’ve never had one.

• On a brighter note, I’m going to pour myself a stiff glass of eggnog tonight and “help” St. Nick respond personally to all the “Letters to Santa” we’ve received on his behalf at The Evening Sun this year. My trusty staff of elves helped with the first batch Friday afternoon (every kiddie who writes in gets a personalized response), and tonight I’ll bat clean up. So far, the best request was “I want my mom to be skinny.” There’s only so much Santa can do, kid. That, and the preponderance of requests (seriously, there were multiple) for duct tape. Duct tape. For Christmas. Not even sure what to do with that one.

• Every letter we received by deadline (yesterday) will be published in a special section this Friday, the last of our “Delivering Christmas” editions. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Russians save elephants with distilled potatoes?

Monday, December 17th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Today in the news there was a story about a Russian zoo director claiming vodka saved the lives of two elephants. When the elephant’s trailer caught on fire, they were forced to wait, exposed to the elements, in the deadly cold of a Siberian winter until back up was able to arrive. Despite spending hours in the frigid cold, the elephants only suffered minor frostbite on the tips of their ears.

How were they able to escape this potentially life threatening scenario virtually unscathed? By drinking 10 liters of vodka diluted with warm water, claims zoo director Rostislav Shilo. The ten liters of liquor, enough to kill a grown man and the mother that bore him, was reportedly not even enough to hamper the walking mountain’s ability to operate a motorized vehicle. Yet it was apparently enough to save them the pain of breaking off frostbitten extremities despite the fact that alcohol thins the blood and lowers the body’s core temperature.

What a stereotype though, Russians curing the cold with vodka, God forbid they tried using a blanket. Now what will the rest of the staff drink?

Inflatable junk

Friday, December 14th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Don’t you think there’s a select few homes that have… well, gone just a little overboard on the inflatable Christmas decorations (little meaning a lot)? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the lights, wreaths, decorated trees and shrubs, and almost anything else that screams Christmas. It’s one of the perks of the season. But curse the day someone decided to put an inflatable Santa on their front lawn. Inflatable decorations seem to grow in numbers and in size from year to year, which makes me question: Doesn’t a two-story inflatable snowman violate some type of codes ordinance? Adding salt to injury, so many of these already ugly decorations don’t make any sense – from the trailer park Santa (because we all remember how Santa lives in a magical trailer park in the North Pole) to the cowboy penguin (that is, a penguin dressed up like a cowboy). Worse still, no one replaces their old inflatable decorations; they just add to it. So the collection grows until inflatable crap overtakes every vacant spot on their yard, like a glowing deflatable Woodstock (or a Christmas time grand opening of a used car dealership).

On a much more somber and serious note, my deepest condolences and heart-felt prayers for the families and victims of the school shootings in Newton Connecticut. It’s a horrific, awful thing and I have only best wishes for the community now dealing with the unthinkable.

Thoughts and prayers … and other stuff

Friday, December 14th, 2012
Brian Golden

Another school shooting, this time at a Connecticut elementary school. Dozens dead, many of them young children. And no, I’m not going to turn this into another anti-gun plea, because I am not – nor have I ever been – anti-gun. I’m simply tired of the wrong people getting their hands on these weapons, an occurrence that seems to be happening more and more often. Senseless violence is all it is and there’s simply no excuse for it. My prayers and thoughts go out to the families of those impacted by this tragedy, and I pray that someday we can find a viable solution to this growing problem.

Let’s pray, as well, that something like this never happens in Chenango County, because that would be surreal to say the least, and truly heartbreaking. Then again, that’s probably how they’re feeling in Connecticut. What a world we live in.

On a brighter note, I had a chance to see the international space station zooming across the night sky last night, thanks to the good folks at WBNG who gave the heads up that it would be travelling across the west-northwest portion of said sky at approximately 6:36 p.m. And while it’s hard to believe that tiny speck of light is actually a space station (I can just hear Obi-Wan Kenobi now … “that’s no moon”), the thought of the structure hurtling through the cosmos certainly appeals to the science fiction fanatic within. Now if we could only build a true-to-scale Death Star, which would orbit the Earth protecting us from any and all future alien invasions … well, then we’d be all set.

You never know, it could happen.

And with that, this week’s “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Day,” brought to us by … Man from Norwich.
“Hey Brian!!!! I swear not to long ago there was an article saying Chenango County and the city are debt free. If this is true why raise taxes????”

Well, man from Norwich, I’m not sure how to answer you on this one considering I had no hand in writing either article. However, I believe one of the articles you’re referring to indeed stated Chenango County as debt free. Note to man from Norwich … the City of Norwich, while located within Chenango County, is not Chenango County. Cities, towns and counties all have their own taxes.

With that said, here’s hoping everyone has a great weekend. I’m off to Syracuse to put the finishing touches on Master Thieves’ soon to be released live disc with my musical brothers in arms, Capt. Chuck and Mr. Tozer, otherwise known as Kyle the drummer … even though his name is Eric.

Long story.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Dec. 7, 2012

Friday, December 7th, 2012
Patrick Newell

Ever watch a player continually get the job done in the face of steep odds? The best teams all have a guy (or girl) like that – an overachiever. Norwich has such a player, senior Grant Brightman. A fullback/linebacker on the varsity football team, Brightman is a backup forward/center for Norwich’s unbeaten basketball. He’s all of 5-foot-11, and typically giving up several inches in height to whomever he defends. Watch Brightman for a few possessions, and no doubt he’ll hit the floor a time or two diving or scrambling for a loose ball. He leads Norwich in floor burns, and probably offensive rebounds. In the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s Tom Schwan Memorial Tournament championship game, Brightman pulled down at least four offensive rebounds. Out of a pack of taller young men, ultimately Brightman secured the offensive rebound creating another possession for his team. As a junior varsity player, Brightman earned recognition for the number of defensive charges he drew. Again, he created additional possessions for his team. “We do a rebounding drill, and there are pretty much no rules,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier. The toughest guy comes down with the ball, and ultimately, it’s Grant and Michael (Oralls) fighting for it. In the end, Grant gets all of the rebounds. He’s a warrior and an instinctive player with a will to win. He just figures out a way to get the job done, and he’s always done that.”

* Norwich’s guard version of Brightman is senior Danny Carson. Carson possesses much more quickness than Brightman, but what he does is not always pretty – particularly for the opponent. He is a smothering on-the-ball defender, the effects of which contributed to Oneonta’s 27 turnovers in Thursday night’s loss to the Tornado. Carson had seven steals and scored a varsity-high 12 points. He’s perhaps second to Brightman in times that he hits the floor, and his scrappy play has proven vital to Norwich’s early success. “Danny is another warrior, and his defense on the ball is tremendous,” Collier said. “Oneonta not only had trouble bringing the ball up against him, but just getting into its offense.” With Carson among Norwich’s defensive leaders, the Tornado are giving up just 36.7 points per game.

* Oneonta State has a pair of freshmen, both from Norwich, playing on the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Seth Thomsen, who played four years for the Tornado, has played in all six games this season through this past Tuesday, and is averaging just under 11 minutes of playing time per game. Bryn Loomis, a four-year player for Norwich’s girls hoops team, averages better than 22 minutes per game and scored a season-high 12 points in a win over Wheaton College…Oxford Academy graduate, Alyshia Crawford, a teammate of Loomis’ has also played in every game for the Lady Dragons with five starts and 21 minutes of playing time per tilt. Crawford, a junior, is averaging 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

* Today marks the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i. Along with Sept. 11, 2001, it stands as one of the most significant – and tragic – days in American history. Those who lived through those times will never forget, and descendants veterans should always remember.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat