Sunday, January 31, 2016

Super Bowl XLII Memories

Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14. . Played on February 3, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona. MVP Eli Manning. Favorite Patriots by 12. National anthem Jordin Sparks. Halftime show Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Attendance 71,101. Network Fox. Announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Nielsen ratings 43.3. est. 97.5 million viewers. Market share 65. Cost of 30-second commercial US $2.7 million. Eli Manning 19 34 255 2 1, Tom Brady 29 48 266 1 0, David Tyree 3 43 1, Plaxico Burress 2 27 1, Wes Welker 11 103, Randy Moss 5 62 1

2. Super Bowl XLII - I'm sorry. This is unfair. But I am a Giants fan, and they did play some very good Super Bowls. That included Super Bowl XXV, which i already listed. But that also includes the rivalry with the New England Patriots. And out of those two games, Super Bowl XLII was the best. I mean, the Patriots were undefeated, and many had already designated them the best team of all time. More points than any team had ever scored before. More touchdowns passes thrown by a quarterback (Tom Brady). On average, a greater margin of victory against their opponents than any team had ever enjoyed before in history. And just one game away from football immortality. But the Giants pass rush brutalized Brady and the Patriots, and allowed New York to hang in there, effectively shutting down that historic New England offense. And then, of course, that very memorable fourth quarter, with the Giants taking the lead with a Dave Tyree touchdown catch early in the fourth, to give the Giants the lead at 10-7. New England responded, with a very strong drive capped with a Brady to Moss TD pass with a couple of minutes left, retaking the lead, 14-10. Then, the final drive, with the Giants marching down the field. That memorable pass, when Manning got out of a sure sack, to complete a wobbly pass to Tyree, which might just be the most famous pass in NFL history, and certainly is in Super Bowl history. Capping that with a touchdown pass from Manning to Burress, for another Giants lead, at 17-14. Then, the Giants "D" shutting down the Patriots offense in the final minute, to secure the improbable victory. What an unbelievable Super Bowl! It reinforced why people watch this game in particular, because anything can happen on this day. 

Personal memories: Incredible Super Bowl! Most memorable of my lifetime. Watched it from Prudential, and a lot of people were celebrating a the school the next day.

Here are some of the major events that took place in 2008, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 6.7 billion people. Jan. 1–31: Tribal violence erupts in Kenya after December 2007's presidential election between Raila Odinga, of the Orange Democratic Movement, and incumbent president Mwai Kibaki. More than 800 people die in violence across the country. Preliminary results had Odinga defeating Kibaki, 57% to 39%. In the days after the election, however, Odinga's lead dwindled and Kenya's electoral commission declared Kibaki the winner, 46% to 44%. International observers said the vote was rigged.  Jan. 6: President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is reelected, taking 52% of the vote. He had called for early elections in November 2007, after massive protests prompted by accusations that he abused power and stifled dissent.  Jan. 31: Final report by an Israeli-government-appointed panel, the Winograd Commission, on Israel's 2006 war against the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, calls the operation a "large and serious" failure and criticizes the country's leadership for failing to have an exit strategy in place before the invasion.   Feb. 10: Three men wearing ski masks steal four pieces of artwork from the Zurich Museum in one of the largest art robberies in history. In broad daylight, the robbers took a Cezanne, a Degas, a van Gogh, and a Monet, with a combined worth of $163 million. Feb. 18: Two of the paintings, the Monet and the van Gogh, are found in perfect condition in the backseat of an unlocked car in Zurich.  Feb. 17: Kosovo's prime minister Hashim Thaci declares independence from Serbia. Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica says he would never recognize the "false state." International reaction is mixed, with the United States, France, Germany, and Britain indicating that they plan to recognize Kosovo as the world's 195th country.   Feb. 19: Cuban president Fidel Castro, who temporarily handed power to his brother Raúl in July 2006 when he fell ill, permanently steps down after 49 years in power.  March 2: Dmitri A. Medvedev, a former aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin, wins the presidential election in a landslide. Putin will remain in a position of power, serving as Medvedev's prime minister.  March 10: Some 400 Buddhist monks participate in a protest march in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to commemorate 1959's failed uprising against China's invasion and occupation of Tibet. March 14: Violence breaks out, with ethnic Tibetans clashing with Chinese citizens. Chinese police suppress the demonstrations, and Tibetan leaders say that more than 100 Tibetans are killed.   April 2: Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says he won 50.3% of the vote in March 29's presidential election, defeating Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980. April 14: The High Court of Zimbabwe dismisses the opposition's request for the release of election results. The government cracks down on the opposition.  April 11: In Nepal, millions of voters turn out to elect a 601-seat Constituent Assembly that will write a new constitution. Maoist rebels win 120 out of 240 directly elected seats.  May 2: More than a month after the presidential election, Zimbabwe officials announce that opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, defeated incumbent Robert Mugabe, 47.9% to 43.2%. A runoff election is necessary because neither candidate won more than 50%.   May 28: Nepal's newly elected Constituent Assembly votes to dissolve the 239-year-old monarchy and form a republic. King Gyanendra is told he must step down within 15 days.  June 19: Egypt brokers a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. The agreement is intended to stem the violence in the region.  June 22: Morgan Tsvangirai, of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democracy and Change, who was to face incumbent president Robert Mugabe in a runoff election, withdraws from the race, saying he could not subject his supporters to violence and intimidation. June 27: Mugabe wins the second round of the election, with about 85% of the vote.  July 2: After being held for nearly six years by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in Colombia, 15 hostages, including three U.S. military contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, are freed by commandos who infiltrated FARC's leadership.  July 14: Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, formally charges Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, with genocide for planning and executing the decimation of Darfur's three main ethnic tribes: the Fur, the Masalit, and the Zaghawa.  July 21: Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb president during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, is arrested outside Belgrade and charged with genocide, persecution, deportation, and other crimes against non-Serb civilians. Karadzic orchestrated the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in Srebrenica. July 30: Karadzic is transferred to The Hague to await trial.  Aug. 7: Fighting breaks out after Georgian soldiers attack South Ossetia, a breakaway enclave in Georgia that won de facto independence in the early 1990s. Separatists in South Ossetia retaliate. Aug. 8: Russia enters the fray, with troops and tanks pouring into South Ossetia to support the region. Aug. 9 and 10: Russia intensifies its involvement, moving troops into Abkhazia, another breakaway region, and launching airstrikes at Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Aug. 13: France brokers a deal between Russia and Georgia. President George Bush sends U.S. troops on a humanitarian mission to Georgia. He warns Russia that if it doesn't observe the cease-fire, the country risks its standing in "the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century." Aug. 29: Russia and Georgia sever diplomatic ties from each other. It is the first time Russia has cut off formal relations with one of its former republics, which gained independence in 1991.  Aug. 7: Pakistan's governing coalition, led by Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, begins impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf on charges of violating the constitution and misconduct. Aug. 18: Musharraf resigns as president.   Aug. 15: Nepal's Constituent Assembly elects Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, as prime minister.  Aug. 22: As many as 90 Afghan civilians, 60 of them children, die in an airstrike by coalition troops in the western village of Azizabad. It is one of the deadliest airstrikes since the war began in 2001, and the deadliest for civilians. The U.S. military refutes the figures, which were confirmed by the UN.  Sep. 2: Thai prime minister Samak Sundaravej declares a state of emergency when protests between government supporters and the opposition, People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which is calling for Samak's resignation, turn violent. Sep. 9: Samak is forced from office when Thailand's Constitutional Court rules that he violated the constitution by being paid to appear on a cooking show. Somchai Wongsawat, the first deputy prime minister, becomes acting prime minister. Sep. 17: Parliament elects Somchai prime minister.  Sep. 6: Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the widower of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, wins 481 out of 702 votes in the two houses of Parliament to become president.  Sep. 15: In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe 48% to 43% in March 2008 elections but boycotted the June runoff election because of voter intimidation, agree to a power-sharing deal. Tsvangirai will serve as prime minister and the opposition will control 16 ministries. The governing party will control 15; Mugabe will continue as president.  Sep. 20: A truck bomb explodes outside the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds. A previously unknown group, Fedayeen Islam, takes responsibility for the attack.  Sep. 21: Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is under investigation for corruption, resigns.   Sep. 24: Japan's Taro Aso, a conservative and former foreign minister, becomes prime minister, succeeding Yasuo Fukuda, who stepped down amid criticism of his handling of domestic issues.  Oct. 1: The Iraqi government takes command of 54,000 mainly Sunni fighters from the U.S., which had been paying the fighters for their support. The fighters, members of awakening councils, turned against al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in 2007 and began siding with the U.S.  Nov. 16: Iraq's cabinet passes by a large margin a status of forces agreement that will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq through 2011. The pact calls for the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by Dec. 31, 2011, and the removal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009. In addition, the agreement gives Iraqi officials increased jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by off-duty Americans who are off base when the crimes occur. Nov. 27: The Iraqi Parliament votes, 149 to 35, to approve the status of forces agreement. Dec. 4: The Presidencial Council, made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents, gives final approval to the status of forces agreement.  Nov. 26: More than 170 people are killed and about 300 are wounded in a series of attacks on several landmarks and commercial hubs in Mumbai, India. Indian officials say ten gunmen carried out the attack. It took Indian forces three days to end the siege. Deccan Mujahedeen, a previously unknown group, claims responsibility for the attacks. Pakistan officials deny any involvement in the attacks, but some Indian officials hint that they suspect Pakistani complicity.   Dec. 2: Thailand's Constitutional Court ruling that the governing People Power engaged in fraud during the 2007 elections forces Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from power and bans party members from politics for five years. Dec. 15: Parliament elects Abhisit Vejjajiva, the head of the Democrat Party, as prime minister.  Dec. 14: At a news conference in Baghdad, a reporter for Al Baghdadia, a Cairo-based satellite television network, hurls his shoes at President Bush and calls him a "dog." The shoes narrowly miss Bush's head.  Dec. 22: Guinea's despotic president, Lansana Conte, dies after 24 years in power. Dec. 24: Junior army leaders launch a coup. Army captain Moussa Camara takes over as president of the republic.  Dec. 28: Days after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired, Hamas begins launching rocket attacks into Israel, which retaliates with airstrikes that kill about 300 people. Israel targets Hamas bases, training camps, and missile storage facilities.

Why I Think Bernie Sanders Has a Real Chance to Win

This is the final weekend before the first real points are up for grabs: the Iowa caucus, which will be held on Monday. Tomorrow.

This will be quickly followed by the New Hampshire primaries the following week.

And as expected, many detractors of Bernie Sanders focus on how unrealistic it is to expect that he will ever be elected president, and that even if he somehow defeats Hillary, he will cost the Democrats the election, and then, even if he somehow manages to defeat Hillary and then wins the presidency, he will fail as president because, this line of thinking goes, he will not be able to reach across the aisle and work with either party, let alone the official opposition party.

This is the criticism of Sanders, who perhaps seems kind of unpolished to them, not what most people have come to think of as a typical politician at all. When he speaks, he seems to be shouting, and this turns people off. Also, he does something that seems kind of strange: he actually states things as he sees them, and then voices his opinions on them. You either like his message, or you do not.

And this, in turn, is perhaps the reason why people compare him to Donald Trump, because they both, at least on the surface, express their opinion, and generate considerable publicity in so doing. Bernie Sanders, according to detractors, is on the fringe of the Democratic party, what some people like to call a liberal extremist, even a (gasp) socialist! And Donald Trump, according to this same criticism (at least when he is compared to Sanders) is on the fringe of the Republican party, what some people like to call a conservative extremist. Some people suggest that he is out of his mind, that he is a fascist.

Of course, when they are lumped together, it is to suggest that they are both extremists, and that the success of these two men is cause for alarm, and that the political climate in the United States now gravitates towards extremes. Again, this is designed to discredit Sanders in particular.

On some level, comparisons can be made. After all, both men are relative outsiders within the two major parties, and both men have shaken the political establishment of the two parties to the core. Both have done so by saying things that many people have wanted to hear from a politician for a long time, and there is a sense by supporters of both men that their guy is unlike other politicians in that he cannot be sold. That much is true of both candidates, and most likely accounts for their success thus far in the campaign.

That is where any real comparisons end. Yes, they have both shaken the political establishment, and both say things that are unpopular with the accepted political establishment. But what they are saying cannot be different. What they are saying - and how they are saying it - is, in fact, the polar opposite of one another.

Donald Trump echoes the conservative talk radio element. He says what many conservative pundits have been saying for a long time, even if many of them seem to want to distance themselves from him - mostly for the same reason that main stream Democrats want to distance themselves from Sanders - because according to conventional thinking, he cannot win. He will cost them the election, or so they say.

Trump is loud and crass, and absolutely sure of himself. He at least seems to say what is on his mind, and this is apparently what is on the mind of many self-described conservatives, who feel that he is a refreshing change precisely because he says what many conservative people are thinking. That immigrants are to blame, and cannot be trusted. That Mexicans are dangerous to our economy and to our society at large, and should be expelled and most certainly not welcomed into our borders. That Muslims are dangerous to our society and should not be welcomed into our borders. Other people, those who criticize him, are losers. When he gets into office (never if, because this man knows no humility), America will be great again. Details as to how he intends to accomplish this are scarce, because he has not needed to get more specific, yet. But, he says, rest assured that once (again, not if) he is in office, America will start winning again. He will be the greatest producers of jobs in American history. The country will not only start winning again, but will get so used to winning, that Americans will actually get sick of winning.

It is implied that Trump cannot be bought, because he is a billionaire, and what need does he have of money? This is the thinking of many of his admirers, although this man has been about nothing more than money all of his life. He is, in fact, the product of the sick economy that so many of them are fed up with. He is one of the elites, one of the billionaires who holds tremendous sway over how the economy works. This is the reality of things. He has only known privilege, has only known powerful positions from posh executive offices overlooking the financial district of Manhattan. He places his name high atop buildings, so that there are seemingly Trump Towers all across the globe, and somehow, they remain Trump Towers, even when he is no longer in control of them. We get to see his name up in the sky when we look at our downtown financial districts, way up in the sky, atop the glass and steel towers, as if he were some kind of God.

In the past, Trump's political positions have been widely inconsistent. There was a time when he felt that a single payer health care system would work, and was even really the best solution for the country. Now, he despises it. There was a time when he criticized George W. Bush for lying about the reasons for getting into a war with Iraq, although now, he promises to outdo George W. Bush in terms of the destruction that he, as president (again if, not when) would render.

By way of comparison, Bernie Sanders is from a small town in Vermont. He has been remarkable consistent with his political views, and has a proven history of advocating for the poor and middle class and criticizing the billionaires and corporate elites who dominated the economy, long before this became the popular thing to do. In so doing, he stood alone. When he speaks during this campaign, he talks about what has gone wrong with the country, and why things are not working. He gives concrete reasons, not mere abstractions, or vague promises that he will fix them. He states the reasons very clearly: things have gone down ever since the tax rates for the ultra-elites were relaxed. Ever since they stopped paying their fair share, leaving an increased burden on the rest of us. Really want to know why the middle class is disappearing? Sanders makes clear that the reason for this is that the ultra-rich stash and hide their money away in offshore accounts, and that the poor, obviously, cannot afford to pay for the money that previously came from the rich. And so guess who makes up the difference? That's right, the rest of us. The disappearing middle class.

If we have the courage to change this, to stand up to the billionaire class, then we can begin to right the ship, and to get this country heading back in a desirable direction again. Until we do that, he warns, things will simply continue to get worse. He is very specific, and he knows what he is talking about. This is a man who has told it as he sees it, and gives very, very specific examples as evidence of why he is correct. he does not sugar coat, explaining that mainstream politicians cannot, or will not, change things, because they are sponsored by those same corporate elites who have, for far too long, controlled out economy and made things worse by only pining for their own interests at the expense of what is best for the country, bankrupting the nation in the process.

This is a message that people began to listen to, and it seems to make enough sense to people that they are listening. Yes, people are paying attention to Sanders, and he seems to be the man of the moment, because he says it as he sees it, and explains it in a way where other people can see it, as well. Again, he is very specific, and his arguments do not center around him. No magic wand, no promises that everything will be fixed by his hand. Some of his detractors, typically, suggest that his plans will not work, that they will bankrupt the economy, even though some leading economists have suggested that his policies, if passed, would actually work exactly as he predicts that they would if and when implemented. They would ease the burden on the poor and the middle class by making the richest among us pay their share. He is not suggesting these things will be free at all, but arguing that we need to stand up to elite interests and, once and for all, force them to pay the money that they have withheld from the country, and which has hurt our economy. This has hurt everyday people like you and me, and Sanders always has, and always will fight to right this wrong.

Do you want to know why I do not support Hillary, despite what her supports claim is a proven track record? Because she advocates changes that are so incremental, as to hardly matter. They are so watered down, that any chance of really improving people's lives will not happen. I do not trust her because deep down, she is a typical politician, despite her being a woman with a real chance of becoming the first female president. Because she seems willing to say or do anything to get herself elected. She is willing to take millions of dollars from some of the same, destructing corporate interests that have been hurting the American economy, and hurting average people like you and me, for so long. Oh, sure, she acts angry when Sanders directly accuses her for taking these large sums of money, and suggests that she made friends with them in their hour of need following the September 11th attacks.

But do you know what else she did after the September 11th attacks? She voted for the so-called PATRIOT Act. Not once, but twice, in both 2001 and 2006. She also voted for George Bush's war on Iraq. While she had once seemed like a crusader against corporate interests in the healthcare industry, she now advocates a much more incremental approach and - surprise, surprise - she takes money from them. Not small amounts, but vast sums to add to her war chest.

She entered the race as the clear favorite, but then Sanders began to gain on her, despite supposedly being representative of an extremist fringe. After being declared the unofficial winner of debates by all the major news media (despite the popular sentiment on the internet with a buzz suggesting that she had actually not won the debate at all), she took a page from George W. Bush after the 2000 election, and began to act the part of the winner, looking beyond Sanders. The major news media declared the race to be over, and her supporters stopped attacking Sanders, having unofficially dug dirt on his campaign's grave.

Only, as it turns out, this was far from the case. Sanders hung in there, and drew closer in national polls, as well as those in Iowa, which were suddenly very close. In New Hampshire, he took a lead of 60% to 33%, almost doubling Hillary's support.

Suddenly, the race was not over at all, she was not the clear winner at all and, in fact, once again looked like she was in trouble. Much like she had been earlier in the election, and much like she had been in 2008, when she lost the election to now President Barack Obama.

Suddenly, her campaign began to mount desperate attacks, and have suggested that Bernie Sanders is a communist sympathizer, something that Republicans tended to do towards her and her husband throughout the Clinton presidency and beyond.

Suddenly, Hillary and her supporters seem willing to say and do anything to discredit a surging opponent who attacks her at her weakest point: that of credibility. She cannot be trusted, he says. People are listening, and the polls suggest that he is right.

Still, many of the so-called experts warn that Sanders cannot possibly win, when they will allow discussion of what they claim to be the remote possibility of a Sanders win, they suggest it will be a disaster. That he cannot work with Congress, that he has no ability to reach across the aisle and get things done.

But you know what? Hillary and her supporters are wrong, and have been wrong now for a long, long time. She is wrong to believe, as she did before, that she is the presumptive candidate for the Democratic party. She is wrong to now label the very real threat of her opponent, Bernie Sanders, as some kind of communist. She is wrong to take millions from corporate special interests. She was wrong to support the PATRIOT Act, and she was wrong to support the Iraq war. Indeed, she seems to be making a point of proving Sanders right, that she is the consummate politician, willing to say and do anything and everything to get elected.

Do I think Sanders can really win?

Yes, actually, I do. And here's how: Iowa is close. If he can win Iowa, and follow that up with a win in New Hampshire (where, again, he has a solid lead over Hillary), then he will have proven to be a viable candidate to defeat Hillary. More people will pay attention, and the margins in national polls that show Sanders closing in on Hillary will narrow still more. Perhaps they will narrow to the point where he takes the lead, as he has in New Hampshire. Not because she is evil, or because she is somehow not electable, that something is wrong with her. But because she represents an old political establishment, a grim reality in this country right now. Because she advocates a tired message that no longer rings true and hollows empty for most people. Because she seems to advocate her own interests and ambitions, at the expense of what is best for the country, mirroring exactly the corporate special interests that sponsor her, and more and more people are seeing through the veil, and seeing her, and others like her (such as Jeb Bush for the Republican party) for what they are.

Yes, Sanders can win those two early primaries, and then take the momentum gained from that, and defeat Hillary. He can beat her to take the Democratic nomination, and then, he can win the general election, especially if his opponent is also considered a political outsider, such as the two leading Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, are considered to be. Remember, they are largely opposed by establishment Republicans, because there are fears that they cannot win a general election.

Indeed, I do think that Sanders actually can win the election to become the future president.

Yes, I can.

As to the critics who suggest that a Sanders presidency will not work, and cannot work?

Well, they have been wrong about a lot of things before. Many of them supported the PATRIOT Act, like Hillary. Many of them supported the invasion of Iraq, which turned out to be a disaster. Many of them advocate incremental change, even though an increasing number of Americans recognize that the grim reality of this responsible sounding (on the surface) talk of incremental change is that, in reality, nothing changes.

I would rather have a proven advocate of the American people, of the average American family, than a politician with a proven record of being untrustworthy. Yes, Hillary has reached across the aisle, learned to compromise, and thus can claim superior experience in this regard. She reached across the aisle, so to speak, to change from a fierce advocate for serious healthcare reform to an advocate of some vague, incremental reform, while taking money from those same private healthcare interests. She reached across the aisle to help President Bush make the PATRIOT Act a reality, and then helped him make the Iraq war a reality.

So, if you want more of the same, politics as usual, than indeed, the choice is clear. Vote for Hillary if you are a Democrat, or for Jeb, if you are a Republican.

But if you want the possibility of real change, and a tireless advocate for what would be best for the country as a whole, someone with a proven and consistent track record, than there is no one more qualified for the job than Bernie Sanders.

It really is that simple, and I am guessing, in your heart of hearts, you know that, too. An increasing number of Americans are beginning to realize that, and this is what will make a President Bernie Sanders not only a possibility, but a reality.

We can see this country move forward again, with a leader that we can trust. Yes, we can. You might even wonder why it should ever have been otherwise.

Please join us in helping to elect Bernie Sanders as our next president.

I support Bernie Sanders, and I’m not stupid or unrealistic Posted on 01/27/2016 by Cody Gough:

Peyton Manning May Walk Away From NFL as Champion

Peyton Manning

 Image Courtesy of Craig Hawkins’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Yes, I just completed a recent article for the Guardian Liberty Voice, and hope that you will take a look at it:

Peyton Manning May Walk Away From NFL as Champion (GLV article by me published on January 31, 2016):

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Super Bowl XLI Memories

Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears  17. Played on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium, Miami, Florida. MVP Peyton Manning. Favorite Colts by 7. National anthem Billy Joel, ASL performed by Marlee Matlin. Halftime show Prince and the Florida A&M University Marching 100. Attendance 74,513. Network CBS. Announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Nielsen ratings 42.6. est. 93.2 million viewers. Market share 64. Cost of 30-second commercial US $2.6 million.

This was a surprisingly good Super Bowl. I had expected the Colts to dominate, and even though they won it convincingly enough, it nonetheless was a well-played Super Bowl, where both teams showed much of what got them to the big game in the first place.

Chicago scored on the first play of the game, earlier than any other team in Super Bowl history had, as Devin Hester broke free. The Bears went on and controlled the game early with a 14-6 lead in the first quarter.

The Colts, however, began to take over in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and going into the locker room with a 16-14 lead. They expanded that with the foot of Adam Vinatieri (yes, the former placekicker for the Colts archrivals, the New England Patriots). They built a 22-14 lead, but the Bears were able to cut it to 22-17 with a field goal of their own.

What ultimately decided this one was the interception of Rex Grossman which was returned for a touchdown by Kelvin Hayden of the Colts, giving Indy a 29-17 lead relatively early in the final quarter. The Colts were able to make it stand up, and that wound up being the final score, as the Colts won the second Super Bowl title of their franchise history (Super Bowl V being the previous time), and Peyton Manning finally earned his Super Bowl ring with Indianapolis.

One thing that made this Super Bowl stand out was the rainy weather. It simply poured all game long, making this the first Super Bowl played in very bad weather. Still, somehow, the Colts and Bears were able to make this a reasonably entertaining game.

Personal Memories: Lost a lot of weight starting Super Bowl week. It was the beginning of a year in which I would lose a tremendous amount of weight - over 40 pounds within the span of months. I felt great physically and mentally, although underneath the surface, my marriage was beginning to crack with a crisis this year, followed by another the next year, and these were the beginning of the end of that relationship.

Here are some of the major events that took place in 2006, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 6.7 billion people. Romania and Bulgaria join the European Union, bringing the number of member nations to 27 (Jan. 1).  Leaders of Hamas and Fatah, two rival Palestinian factions, meet in Mecca and reach a deal to end hostilities and form a unity government (Feb. 7). The Palestinian legislature approves a Hamas-dominated unity government (March 17). Hamas takes control of much of the Gaza Strip (June 13). Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissolves the government, fires Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, and declares a state of emergency (June 14).   The U.S. begins its "surge" of some 30,000 troops to Iraq to stem increasingly deadly attacks by insurgents and militias (Feb. 7).  The International Court of Justice rules that the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica in 1995 was genocide (Feb. 26).  David Hicks, an Australian, pleads guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda. He's the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be convicted by a military commission (March 26).  Iranian troops detain 15 Britons (eight sailors and seven marines) claiming they were in Iranian territorial waters (March 26). The detainees are freed (April 4).  Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, and Rev. Ian Paisley, the head of the Democratic Unionist Party, meet face-to-face for the first time and hash out an agreement for a power-sharing government (March 26).  Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko dissolves Parliament and accuses Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich of attempting to consolidate power (April 2).   President Vladimir Putin announces Russia will suspend the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which limits conventional weapons in Europe (April 26).   In the second round of French presidential elections, Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy defeats Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, 53.1% to 46.9% (May 6).  A commission that investigated 2006's war between Israel and Lebanon says Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was responsible for "a severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility, and prudence." It also says Olmert rushed to war without an adequate plan (April 30).  Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair as the prime minister of Great Britain (June 27).  Russian president Vladimir Putin announces that the country will suspend its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a cold-war era agreement that limits the deployment of heavy weaponry (July 14).  India and U.S. reach an accord on civilian nuclear power that allows India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to buy nuclear fuel from the U.S. to expand its civilian nuclear energy program and reprocess its spent fuel (July 27).  President Ramos-Horta names independence activist Xanana Gusmão as prime minister of East Timor (Aug. 6).  Two pairs of truck bombs explode about five miles apart in the remote, northwestern Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera, killing at least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community, making it the single deadliest insurgent attack of the war (Aug. 14).   Abdullah Gul, of the Justice and Development Party, is elected president of Turkey in the third round of voting by the country's parliament. He is the first Islamist president in the country's modern history (Aug. 28).  Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe abruptly announces his resignation. The move follows a string of scandals and his party's recent defeat in parliamentary elections, in which his Liberal Democratic Party lost control of the upper house to the opposition Democratic Party (Sep. 12). Yasuo Fukuda is elected prime minister of Japan (Sep. 23).  Seventeen Iraqi civilians are killed when employees of private security company Blackwater USA reportedly fire on a car that failed to stop at the request of a police officer (Sep. 16). The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform finds that employees of Blackwater USA have been involved in some 200 shootings in Iraq. The report says the company paid some families of victims and tried to cover up other incidents (Oct. 1). The State Department announces that its own monitors will accompany Blackwater employees on all security convoys (Oct. 5). An FBI report says 14 of the 17 shootings were unjustified and the guards were reckless in their use of deadly force (Nov. 13).  Nuon Chea, who was second-in-command to Pol Pot during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule that led to the state-sponsored massacre of between 1 million and 2 million Cambodians, is arrested and charged with war crimes (Sep. 19).  After a month of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that include hundreds of monks, Burmese government forces shoot at crowds, raid pagodas, and arrest monks. Dozens of people are killed. The protests are the largest in Myanmar in 20 years (Sep. 26)   In a landmark deal, North Korea agrees to disclose details about its nuclear facilities, including how much plutonium it has produced, and dismantle all of its nuclear facilities by the end of 2007. In exchange, the country will receive some 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil or financial aid. The Bush administration will also start the process of removing North Korea from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism (Oct. 1).  Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is easily reelected to a third term by the country's national and provincial assemblies. The opposition boycotts the vote, however, and only representatives from the governing party participate in the election (Oct. 6). Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto arrives in Pakistan after eight years in exile (Oct. 18). Musharraf declares a state of emergency, suspends the country's constitution and fires Chief Justice Iflikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the other judges on the Supreme Court (Nov. 3). The Supreme Court, filled with judges loyal to Musharraf, dismisses the case challenging the constitutionality of Musharraf being elected president while head of the military (Nov. 22). Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan after eight years in exile and demands that Musharraf lift the emergency rule and reinstate the dismissed Supreme Court justices (Nov. 25). Musharraf steps down as military chief. He is replaced by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Nov. 28). Musharraf is sworn in as a civilian president (Nov. 29). Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is killed in a bombing at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi (Dec. 27).  Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is elected Argentina's first woman president. She succeeds her husband, Néstor Kirchner (Oct. 28).  Australian prime minister John Howard loses to the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd (Nov. 24).  A National Intelligence Estimate says "with high confidence" that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The report contradicts one written in 2005 that stated Iran was determined to continue developing such weapons (Dec. 3).  The African National Congress chooses Jacob Zuma as its leader, ousting South African president Thabo Mbeki (Dec. 18).  Violence breaks out between rival tribes after preliminary results in Kenya's presidential elections show opposition candidate Raila Odinga, of the Orange Democratic Movement, defeating incumbent Mwai Kibaki, 57% to 39% (Dec. 27).

Friday, January 29, 2016

'Star Wars' Toys From Yesteryear That Are Worth a Small Fortune Now

16 super-collectible 'Star Wars' toys your mom probably threw out (pictures)

Super Bowl XL Memories

Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10. Played on February 5, 2006 at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan. MVP Hines Ward. Favorite Steelers by 4. National anthem Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, ASL performed by Angela LaGuardia. Halftime show The Rolling Stones. Attendance 68,206. Network ABC. Announcers Al Michaels and John Madden. Nielsen ratings 41.6. est. 90.7 million viewers. Market share 62. Cost of 30-second commercial US $2.5 million  

Now, I will admit to thinking that this was probably the worst Super Bowl that I have seen, even though it should not have been. I liked both teams (this was prior to knowing how much of a lowlife the Steelers star quarterback was), and thought that they had both played inspired ball to get this far. For Seattle, they enjoyed their finest season in history up to that point, and qualified for the Super Bowl for the very first time in franchise history. For Pittsburgh, it was an amazing run through the AFC playoffs, going on the road and beating Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Denver, becoming the first NFL team ever to knock off the number 1, 2, and 3 seeds in playoff history. So, you kind of figure that it is going to be a good game.

Not so much. Major mistakes were made by both teams, such as dropped passes and missed opportunities. The high profile players largely did not play key roles in the game, either. And it did not help that the referees also had a game worth forgetting.

There were some Super Bowls that were bigger blowouts, while this one was relatively close throughout. Yet still, I would pick this as the worst Super Bowl, simply because despite how much of an accomplishment it was to get this far, there was not the sense that yo saw two teams playing their best, which made it feel, at least for this game, that the best teams were not playing. Would other solid teams of this season have played better? Had Indianapolis averted disaster and beaten the Steelers and made the Super Bowl, could they have played a better game? If the Panthers had managed to defeat Seattle, perhaps they would have had less mistakes and fewer dropped passes. It certainly did not feel unthinkable.

All of that added up to a lackluster affair, and what I felt was the dullest Super Bowl imaginable. Even when there seemed to be a little bit of intrigue, with Seattle possibly having some chances at the end, the game never seemed to roar to life. Just a boring game that has become a largely forgettable Super Bowl for everyone but the team that ended up winning and their fans, and that is largely by default. To their credit, however, the Steelers would more than make up for it a few years later, when they won their second Super Bowl title in four seasons in electrifying fashion against the Arizona Cardinals. But in this one, they looked like the least impressive Super Bowl champions ever.

Personal Memories: The night before the Super Bowl, my then wife and I left our son with my parents, and spent the first real day or evening without our baby, who was about three months old at the time. It was to see an event with authors, and my particular favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut.

The year 2006 was rather a strange one, as I remember, although it has the distinction in my life of being my first full year as a father, which is something that I am proud of.

As for what was happening in the world, George W. Bush was still embarrassing the country he represented. France made it back to the World Cup Final with an amazing run, although they fell short in the shoot out that decided it after overtime. The most memorable moment from that game was an ignominious one, when French star Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi of Italy. It was after that foolishness that I, as a fan, kind of felt the air go out, and there was that sinking feeling that France had already lost it.

This was the year that Pearl Jam released their self-titled album, which is sometimes referred to unofficially as the avocado album, as they returned to a more grungy, punk sound than they had had for years, since at least 1998's release of the Yield album.

Here are some of the major events that took place in 2006, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 6.5 billion people. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke; he is replaced by acting prime minister Ehud Olmert (Jan. 5).  Militant group Hamas wins 74 of 132 seats in Palestinian legislative elections (Jan. 25). Israeli leaders vote to withhold $50 million per month (Feb. 19).  A Danish newspaper challenges taboos against illustrations of Muhammad by printing several negative cartoons depicting him. Angry demonstrators throughout the Muslim world smash windows, set fires, and burn flags of Denmark and other nations whose newspapers reprint the cartoons (Feb. 4 onward).  In Iraq, a coalition of Shiites and Kurds dominates the new government. Secretarian violence wracks the country, killing tens of thousands, with fatality rates rising throughout the year; some observers describe the situation as a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Several internal reports characterize the U.S. military efforts as failing. See Iraq Timeline 2006.  After weeks of crippling student-led protests, French president Jacques Chirac repeals a new labor law that would have made it easier for employers to fire workers under the age of 26 (Apr. 10).  In defiance of the U.N. Security Council, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has successfully enriched uranium (Apr. 11). The International Atomic Energy Agency reports to the Security Council that it has found traces of highly enriched uranium at Iran's Natanz facility (July 31). U.N. Security Council resolution bans the Iranian import and export of materials and technology used to enrich uranium (Dec. 23).   North Korea test fires missiles over the Sea of Japan (July 4) and explodes a nuclear device in the North Korean mountains (Oct. 9). The U.N. Security Council votes in favor of a resolution banning the sale of materials to North Korea that could be used to produce weapons (Oct. 14). North Korea agrees to resume disarmament talks with China, Russia, the U.S., and South Korea (Oct. 31).  India test-launches a missile with a range of 1,800 miles (July 9). More than 200 people die and hundreds more are wounded when a series of bombs explode on commuter trains in Mumbai, India during the evening rush hour (July 11).  Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, fires rockets into Israel. In response, Israel launches a major military attack, sending thousands of troops into Lebanon. (July 13–Aug. 15).  Saddam Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity by an Iraqi court (Nov. 5), and hanged in Baghdad. A witness videotapes the hanging using a cell phone and captures the chaos that unfolds as Shiite guards taunt Hussein (Dec. 30).