White House beer bash much tamer than all those rowdy nights yours truly once spent at the Spruce, the Peanut Bar and the IA's

The most hyped round of beers in history was anxiously awaited by a thirsty world.
But the beer fest that Sgt. James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates Jr. shared with President Obama and Vice President Biden Thursday evening at the White House seemed to be much ado about nothing.
Neither Gates nor Crowley threw a beer glass at one another or jabbed the other in the eye with a cue stick in the wake of the intense debate their first meeting generated about racial profiling and police procedures. They politely agreed to disagree last night and promised to stay in touch on the phone.
How quaint.
It obviously was a much more cordial meeting than their July 16 get-together when Crowley busted Gates for disorderly conduct in his Boston-area home.
For the record, the president was drinking Bud Light, Biden was drinking Buckler (a nonalcoholic beer), Gates was drinking Samuel Adams Light and Crowley was drinking Blue Moon.
Nobody grew beer muscles, to the dismay of all in the Zeke Blogosphere.
Perhaps shots of Jack Daniels and some honky tonk music would have livened up the discussion a bit.

Older white guys used to rock — then the world turned upside down and they got rolled

Once upon a time, white guys over 55 were large and in charge. They were at the peak of their earning power and work experience.
In previous recessions, veteran workers usually escaped the chopping block.
But white dudes with some white in their hair are taking it on their sagging chins in this recession.
Yep, they now are the poster boys for joblessness. They’re reduced to riding bikes in the park to pass the time of enforced idleness and to avoid the honey-do list at home.
White guys over 55 had a record 6.5% unemployment rate in the second quarter, far above the previous post-Depression high of 5.4% in 1983.
And when you lose your job when you’re old, it’s more difficult to learn new tasks that even a well-trained chicken could pick up. Once some geezers are out of their comfort zone, they usually work as well as a Styrofoam hammer.
Their options are limited. They are too old to be guitar gods, too frail to barrel-roll F/A-18 Hornets and too slow to floss rhinos. And the world already has enough folks selling Elvis wristwatches and Okefenokee time-shares.
So if you’re white and over 55, hang onto your job as it were your lifeline for survival.
Because it is.

Microsoft and Yahoo teaming up in hopes of swallowing Google

Microsoft and Yahoo needed more bullets in their gun belts so they’ve paired up like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And they ain’t gonna keep their guns holstered, pardner.
When most folks search online these long days and lonely nights, it’s a one-stop safari: Google.
Google is an iconic search engine whose name has morphed into a noun and a verb. It may be the most versatile word besides the F-word. The Google brand is tar thick. We all say we Googled something. And we no longer say it with our voices raised an octave. It’s been eons since people thought Google simply was Goggle misspelled.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Microsoft/Yahoo and its Bing software can kick Google around like a rented mule. Still, the search war should become as hot as a skillet.

Michael Vick is back from oblivion — sort of

Once upon a time everybody was desperate to hitch a ride on the thundering rocket that Michael Vick was riding to superstardom.
Then Vick was busted for heinous dog-fighting crimes and crashed to earth like a giant meteor. Talk about flameouts!
Now a pariah, it’s doubtful Vick ever will be swabbed in heartfelt forgiveness.
But Roger Goodell has conditionally reinstated him to the NFL.
Of course, there is plenty of wiggle room. If somebody signs Vick, he will be allowed to practice with the team and play in the final two preseason games.
If Vick keeps his nose clean and stands in the woodpile and chops like a lumberjack on speed on rehabbing his image, Goodell said he will reinstate him to play sometime before Week 6.
Of course, it will be interesting to see what teams reach out to Vick. He has two years of rust on him and he has never evolved as an NFL quarterback.
Perhaps if he does sign, it would be best for him to practice for awhile before he plays. Otherwise it would be like listening to the late Pavarotti sing an aria after just a couple gargles.

Eagles' training camp not something to work up a sweat over

The Eagles opened training camp this morning at Lehigh (yawn).
Hey, nobody loves pro football more than the ol’ Zekester! But the media and fans make way too much out of training camp. It is NOT the most important thing since the invention of alcohol.
Camp is merely an exercise in tedium where fat fans can watch fat players sweat up close and personal. And the team can sell merch. Now if they had the team’s cheerleaders sweating through two-a-days, that would be a different story.
With mini-camps and OTAs, training camps ain’t what they used to be. Which is why more and more teams don’t even go to camp.
Camp, by the way, has all the relevance of sculling unless one of your major stars blows an ACL and turns your season into so-much spaghetti before it even starts.
Andy Reid, of course, loves to be a happy camper. The porcine former offensive lineman loves to watch his players wail and grunt in the heat and humidity. And somehow squeeze into tiny dorm rooms. Go figure.
Joe Banner apparently is a happy camper, too. The team president used to be just a bean counter and since he hardly looks like the guy you would send out to kill bin Laden, he looks the part.
But evidently he is now a football guy, too, and he has proclaimed the Birds’ roster to be the best in the whole NFL.
Which has to put a tad of heat on Reid, who essentially has been a Teflon guy.
Since the Eagles could have/should have won a couple Super Bowls by now, you would think that would bruise a mere mortal’s confidence beyond repair.
But apparently not Banner, who supposedly is astute enough not to be the sap who picks up the dinner check and expects nothing in return.
Are the Eagles talented this year? Do they wear green?
But it is a capricious game and there are some questions hanging like humidity over the team.
Will Donovan McNabb stay healthy two seasons in a row?
Can Brian Westbrook ever be healthy?
Can the offensive line, after undergoing more shuffling than a game of blackjack and with more new faces than you’ll find on Facebook, jell?
Will top pick Jeremy Maclin be lost in the shuffle at wideout if his contract situation forces him to miss too much camp?
Will the intense leadership of Brian Dawkins be missed and blow up the chemistry of the locker room?
Can Sean McDermott, who at 35 is younger than some of my t-shirts, be anywhere near the defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was?
Of course, nobody knows the answers until the season unfolds.
Not even Joe Banner.

So is New Jersey one big felony?

Oh vey!
Tony Soprano, where are you?
As graft stings go, this whopper has even the damned in hell thrilled they are living there instead of the bowels of New Jersey.
A sprawling corruption scandal that involved the sale of a black market kidney for 160 grand, oodles of bribes and God knows what else has resulted in the arrest of 44 people, including three New Jersey mayors, two state assemblymen and five rabbis.
Is nothing sacred anymore or is everybody gone meshuggenah?
Orthodox rabbis acting like crime bosses? My God, Woody Allen is banging out the screenplay right now.
Piles of cash were shipped around like Christmas hams (OK, maybe a bad analogy with the rabbis and all). One corrupt payment of 97 grand was stuffed in a box of Apple Jacks cereal.
All this has led to mazel tov time for media outlets mining for wow stories that are too good to be made up.
So the next time you kvetch about crime and government around here, remember it could be worse and you could be living in Jersey City.
To paraphrase that late philosopher Sonny Liston, I would rather be a lamppost in Reading than the mayor of Hoboken.

Busting a guy in his home who is a prominent black Harvard professor and a friend of the president is hardly a profile in brilliance!

Racial profiling in America?
Come on, say it’s not so!
Seriously, you and I both know it exists. The steamy breath of racism still hangs in the air because some people refuse to free themselves from the quicksand of their own prejudice.
President Obama is being called to task by some for saying last night in his press conference that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “acted stupidly” in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor last week after a confrontation at the man’s home.
Like Obama, I wasn’t there. Unlike Obama, Professor against Henry Louis Gates Jr. is not a friend of mine.
Not to demonize the cop, but if you look at the situation with honest eyes, it’s tough to imagine a white guy would be arrested in his own home under similar circumstances.
One wonders if the tension of racism will ever atomize after leaving so many blisters on so many hearts for so long.

Could things be any worse in the Reading School District?

They apparently aren’t grinning a lot of dimples in the Reading School District these days.
Things are more painful than passing a kidney stone there.
Soon the folks in the district are going need to apply a tourniquet to the hemorrhage of problems exploding like zits on a young teen’s face.
Darkness seems to gracing every page of their textbook.
A good thing it’s summer because there isn’t much time for education in the district.
For instance, the ills of the city burned the district big time shortly before midnight Monday. And you thought nothing good happened AFTER midnight.
Flames from a stolen car that had been set on fire spread to a school district warehouse, destroying the building and causing $2.5 million in damage.
This fiery news came on the heels of the news that about 45 laptop computers worth as much as $41,400 are missing from EXCEL, an alternative-education school whose principal resigned two weeks ago.
Oops. Apparently those laptops just didn’t grow legs and walk out of the damn place.
And there seems to be a predilection for trouble brewing like vats of hot tea elsewhere in the district. Like a good tavern owner, they evidently need to check the arithmetic of their bartenders.
The school district is being investigated by local, state and federal agencies. A district source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Reading Eagle that the FBI and auditor general are investigating the use of district credit cards by administrators and possible financial misappropriations in the food service and athletic departments. The district attorney’s office, the source said, is investigating finances of all Reading School District departments.
The Castle on the Hill and everything else in the district seem to be under siege.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Chapman must not feel like the prince of the city right now.
And the peasants are growing restless.

Fed vows deflation to curb inflation and prevent conflagration

Talk about a double whammy that could be woolly serious to all of us, not just the greed heads.
Whammy No. 1: The appendix burst of bilious disillusionment over the Obama economic stimulus.
Whammy No. 2: The fear spreading like wet cement in the guts of both consumers and capitalists that once a recovery grows roots, inflation will balloon as if on steroids.
To calm Wall Street and Congress that he’s on it, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured the House Financial Services Committee today that the Fed will be able to prevent a volatile eruption of inflation.
We shall see, of course, if Bernanke can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
After all, historians who love to look backwards remember the pitch-black havoc that hyperinflation caused in 1920s Germany when kids had to stack wads of money just to buy a candy bar.

The insanity of teens gunned down in alleys strikes a mournful personal chord

Senseless gun violence has settled over our city like a shroud.
When two 17-year-old best friends are found shot to death on back-to-back early mornings in the same small alley in the 300 block of North 10th, you know our town is redolent with the musk of blood lust.
Anthony T. Lias was the first die early Saturday; Donald S. Elmore Jr. followed him to the grave early Sunday. Elmore’s gunshot reportedly was self-inflicted.
I don’t know what gnarled and grotesquely misshapen elements of the streets led to their demise.
But I did know Donald. I was his mentor for a couple years as part of the Berks Community Action Program’s Y.E.S. Mentoring when he was a pupil at Lauer’s Park.
He was a fun-loving kid who loved sports, toys and ice cream. He was fun to hang out with.
But that was then and this is now.
And I feel as if a cold, hard wrecking ball has hit me in the gut.
Donald is dead, all his potential and promise snuffed out by God-knows-what circumstances and demons.
And two ounces of hot lead.
Rest in peace, Donald. And thanks for all the good times we shared. I just wished I could have done a better job of shielding you from this.