Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Makes For Interesting Reading?

Question: Can you lose something you do not have now and have never had previously?
Below my last post, the one about the writer from The News & Observer who wanted my sources for athletics department personnel who favored the Judge in the case about whether cheerleading is a sport for Title IX reporting purposes, are two comments, one from BobLee of and one from my nephew Jordan. No not nephew Jordan, the son of my younger brother, but nephew Jordan, the son of one of my brothers-in-law.

When BobLee speaks, it’s simply hard to take him seriously, though in many respects he has some serious responses to serious questions and some humorous answers to not so serious statements and some serious answers to stupid inquiries and some funny, tongue in cheek and (as nephew Jordan said) sarcastic returns for those who are dead serious about what they speak.

In response to the cheerleader post, the unexpected second in a series of one scheduled post, BobLee covered, as nephew Jordan, the one who lives in North Carolina and not the one who lives in South Carolina, pointed out lots of subjects in just eight sentences. (That’s a low number for total subjects in the fewest lines for BobLee.) And, nephew Jordan could not determine if BobLee is simply brilliant in his effort or totally bizarre. I’m here to tell you, nephew Jordan, BobLee is both and anyone who reads his stuff should remember that going in.

Nephew Jordan, an educated soul who matriculated at UNC-Chapel Hill (see post of July 30: “How About Another Beer?”) is confused. He thinks what BobLee said is funny but can’t determine if BobLee is using a “clever compliment which adds to the conversation, or just lousy sarcasm.” Well, nephew Jordan, use your educated mind to understand this: when confused about the difference between causation and correlation, remember that beating a tom-tom during an eclipse will always bring back the sun.” Or this one, as Jim Valvano used a lot (though he may have gotten it from Vince Scully): “Statistics are used like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination.”

That BobLee likes the designated hitter rule means he hates managing baseball, at least that’s what I think. Not sure about nephew Jordan on that one. But that’s not the point here, so let’s move on. Eventually I’ve got to get back to the first line of today’s story.

BobLee, though he has a serious side, is always trying to be funny through sarcasm which is easy for an elder statesman to do, and nephew Jordan is just a year or two removed from that college degree ceremony, and he’s tries to show a serious side to what he says and writes. In his response to BobLee, I can tell he’s not trying to be humorous. He’s asking legitimate questions though he probably would have refrained from answering at all if he had perused just one of BobLee’s postings. (Did I give you that website:

At the end, nephew Jordan, the one on the in-law side, sums his thoughts in a similar fashion to a good friend who knows the other nephew Jordan, my brother’s son, and not this Jordan. That friend will toss out all sorts of hypotheses; he will make many statements as he tries to get to the end of what he wants to say, and then he say, “My point being…” followed by a rehash and summary of what he just said in which he also tries to draw to his listener to his way of thinking with, “Don’t you think…” Good technique, friend. When you answer “no” he ends the conversation.

Nephew Jordan does it this way: “The question then is: Does the way readers interpret a writer’s ‘intent’ determine whether or not it is interesting writing?”

Actually, I think nephew Jordan is looking too deeply at the intent of a writer and what is written. The only way to tell is by knowing the writer and asking the intent. Many writers have no intent except to fill space. Others intend to embarrass; some intend to report the results but fall into opinion when such is actually inappropriate. I wonder what nephew Jordan’s intent was when he asked that last question. Maybe he would like a philosophical reply from me, or better yet from BobLee. I’m sure, if he’s gotten this far in reading today, BobLee will add a comment to today’s post as well as beneath nephew Jordan’s inquiry about BobLee in the previous post.

So, with writer’s intent on our mind, let’s take a brief look at a Sunday Op-Ed (for those unknowing, that means opinion pieces on the page opposite the primary editorial page of a newspaper) piece in The News & Observer. It was written by Ellis Hankins, executive director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, and David Thompson, executive director of the NC Association of County Commissioners, not the more famous DT who played basketball at NC State in the 1970s.

The subject of their OP-Ed story is about taxes (anytime those two write, it’s usually about taxes) and the desire by the State of North Carolina to collect sales and/or use tax on items purchased via the Internet, items which are not taxed at the sale. Here’s part of the Op-Ed piece: “Every time you or I order a book from Amazon, we owe a use tax that is the same as the sales tax. The difference is the method of collection. If a seller such as Amazon does not collect the sales tax, the buyer is supposed to pay the use tax on items purchased out of state for use in the state. But many do not pay the tax, and that burden just gets shifted elsewhere. North Carolina and its cities and counties are losing about $190 million annually from this failure.”

Back to my original question: Can you lose something you do not have now and have never had previously? Mr. Hankins and Mr. Thompson are obviously smart people, but if there was no $190 million to begin with, the state, cities and counties cannot lose it. In other words, only if it has been collected up front can it be lost through bad investment or misplacing the cash or buying real estate at the beach for personal use. In actuality, many items may be purchased over the Internet without payment of sales tax, and those individuals who make the purchases and do not submit a use tax, may be skirting the law, but the tax due is not lost. It was never gained; it should never be part of a budget which bets on the come. Understand is as selling, my profession: Nothing sold until it is purchased.

So, nephew Jordan, what is the “intent” of what I wrote today? Do you have any idea or are you reading just to further your education? And, BobLee, any thoughts? I would hate to lose statements from each of you, but then, you may have them and never submit. Therefore nothing is lost; but then your knowledge on me is not gained either. So there. My point being…


  1. Oh, where to begin .... a bit like asking the Dahli Lhama to explain the meaning of Seinfeld "the show about nothing".

    Having a nephew who shares a first name ("Jordan") with Colt McCoy's former roommate, an American Idol winner AND a Biblical river - THAT is cool.

    Until either cures for cancer and alzheimers or directions to the headwaters of the Nile or posted on "the Internet" I refuse to take anything I read (or write) in this silly medium seriously. The only difference between the Internet and that Free Expression Tunnel thing at State is that tunnel has a railroad track over it.

    So I don't take the Internet seriously and I DEFINITELY don't take anything about "sports" seriously. I've been told some folks do. Really? .... those same souls probably take "politics" seriously too. YIKES!

    "Pomz", have nephew Jordan read my recent column trilogy about Marvin From Mars and Butch "the hired help". Both columns went viral. Adult UNCers agreed with me in droves. Non-adult UNCers got confused by the 2-3 big words. You wuffs thought I was just making fun of my UNCers and yelped over it not realizing it all applied to you guys too. :>)

    Heading your way tonight for a clandestine dinner at Peak City Grill. Potential BFD in the works!

  2. I am a bit disappointed at how well you missed the aim of my past comment.


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