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Author: Jean Champagne Created: 1/30/2009 3:54 PM
Jean M. Champagne was educated as an attorney and Certified Public Accountant, and has pursued an eclectic career path which includes restaurant and real estate development, regulated private utilities and banking, in addition to planning & zoning, economic development, and other community service. His private affinities include oenophilia and using big words. Labeled as a bon vivant and raconteur by a past employer, he insists that he is merely striving for curmudgeonhood. Friends who will remain unnamed insist that his progression has stalled at “a∙∙hole.” Regardless, he opines monthly on issues related to parish growth, or sometimes just whatever gets him excited.

The governing bodies of professional sports (e.g. NFL, NBA) regularly impose sanctions upon professional athletes who violate their rules.  In addition to discouraging illegal behavior, explicit in these sanctions are a desire to have these athletes serve as role models for today’s youth, which is admirable, given the inordinate role that these athletes play in shaping the psyche of the next generation.  The question of why athletes and other entertainers play such a large role is best left for another column.

Athletes are routinely punished for drug abuse, and occasionally for violation of laws proscribing other behavior.  What strikes me as odd is that there is not a greater insistence on integrity in the conduct of their performance of their professional duties.  While there are penalties for personal fouls in football, technical fouls in basketball, and yellow and red cards for unsportsmanlike behavior in soccer, where are the penalties for obvious dishonesty?  For example, several weeks ago, Miami...

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Before Nobel laureate Al Gore invented the Internet, the mass dissemination of the news was typically accomplished by print, radio or television, in that historical order.  Journalistic standards were meaningful (I’m going back a ways, here), and the news media made an effort to report the facts accurately.  This may come as a surprise to Gen. Y, but I am not kidding.  Opinion was reserved for the editorial page, and public reaction and comment was solicited.  When public comment was received, an effort was made to ensure its legitimacy by requiring that the commenter disclose his or her name, address and telephone number.  Many media organizations still require this; for example, newspapers will not print a letter to the editor without what they feel is a valid name and address.  I would submit that most of them are more scrupulous in this regard than they are in objectively reporting the news, holding their readers to higher standards than themselves, in many cases.

Requiring those who choose to address...

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                  The Center for Planning Excellence recently hosted the fourth annual Smart Growth Summit in Baton Rouge.  After receiving a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Smart Growth grant, secured by Senator Mary Landrieu, the Center for Planning Excellence initiated the Louisiana Community Planning Program in the fall of 2006.  The program's mission is to build local capacity in community planning throughout southern Louisiana using Smart Growth best practices.  In four short years, the Summit has  become the premier event for promoting quality planning and design in Louisiana.

                     At its core, Smart Growth seeks to create quality places to live, work and recreate.  It does so by seeking a return to the way communities were once built, with the walkability, safety and convenience that flow naturally from common sense planning decisions.  The tenets of Smart Growth include the following:

        (1)   Mix land uses (residential, commercial, retail);

...

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            Carl Gustav Jung stated that “[t]he pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”  It’s important to note, however, that while these concepts are coterminal, they are hardly equivalent.  On the other hand, in Immanuel Kant’s world in which reason is the fundamental authority for morality, perhaps the sense/nonsense and right/wrong continua should at least intersect at some point.  The pendulum metaphor finds application throughout human endeavor, whether physical or metaphysical.  A normal heartbeat is represented by a sine wave, or sinus rhythm, a familiar representation of a cycle.  We view our economy’s cycle with alarm, noting our place in the trough, while hoping for an amplitude shift that will evidence improvement.  Human nature is such that we believe that things will improve eventually and the cycle will continue. ...

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In the last two issues, I have commented on certain things that concern me with modern life. The first, For God’s Sake, Shut Up! (Northshore Conifer, May, 2009), dealt with today’s cult of celebrity, wherein simply being famous is enough to guarantee that one’s views will be broadcast by the media. Further, this is not limited to those who have gained fame by accomplishment, however dubious, but also includes those who are famous merely, well, for being famous. I would submit that the silly Paris Hilton currently serves as high priestess at this altar of self-worship. Interestingly, my article was poorly received by at least one reader, whom I will call “Dick” to protect him from his neighbors, of parts undisclosed, who wrote the following:

 

What makes you the voice of reason that wants people that are not right wing Bible thumpers to shut up? It’s no wonder that the rest of the country thinks that all people from Louisiana are a bunch of jackasses. Get this: The wind in the entire country...

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A common aphorism holds that “[c]lothes don’t make the man,” meaning, of course that one cannot (should not) judge a person solely by appearance. Mark Twain’s variant on this, however, insists that clothes do indeed “make the man,” as “[n]aked people have little or no influence on society.” This calls to mind the story of the mature woman who was surprised when her newlywed daughter answered the door in the nude, only to explain that she was wearing her “love dress” in anticipation of her husband’s imminent arrival. When the mature woman surprised her husband in a like manner and similarly explained her déshabillé, the old gentleman simply remarked that her love dress needed ironing. Whether or not he was “influenced” was not revealed (pun intended).

 

While both positions have merit, I would argue that the choice of clothes (or the lack thereof) reveals a great deal about a person. No less an avatar of modern culture than Homer Simpson has remarked that “[t]he only guys who wear Hawaiian...

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On Thursday, April 16, actress/comedienne/harridan Janeane Garofalo was interviewed on MSNBC by erstwhile newsman Keith Olbermann, who asked for her take on the April 15 “tea-bag” protests against high taxes and wasteful spending. In her inimitably gentle fashion, Garofalo stated of the peaceful protestors that “they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks.” She went on to say that “the limbic brain inside a right-winger or Republican or conservative or your average white power activist, the limbic brain is much larger in their head space than in a reasonable person, and it's pushing against the frontal lobe.” Here we have it, straight from no less an authority than the former “Funniest Person in Rhode Island,” the apparent acme of whose career was her appearance on Comedy Central’s prophetically titled “Freak Show.” Nevertheless,...

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Our President calls us to hope, which seems opportune, if not downright auspicious, given that the opposite of hope is despair. Indeed, despair is defined as the loss of hope. After all, did not the inscription at the very gate of hell read “All hope abandon ye who enter here,” in Dante’s Divine Comedy? A sobering thought to be sure, but seemingly appropriate for the circumstances.

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When I recently addressed the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce and guests at its annual installation banquet, I was asked to say something inspirational. I was also asked to be brief, which called to mind George Santayana’s reflection that “[t]o be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.” I considered this charge in the particular context of the audience, which included many of the business and community leaders of St. Tammany Parish. They were there in support of the Chamber and its new board and officers, but in a more general sense, they were there because they care about this community and are willing to devote their efforts to its improvement.

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