Archive for August, 2009

Britton runs into buzz saw

August 31st, 2009 Comments off

Looking at the match before it was ever played, one figured Jackson native Devin Britton was playing for the opportunity to gain experience.

I mean, Britton had career earnings of about $10,000.

His opponent?

$50 million

Roger Federer extended his U.S. Open winning streak to 35 matches with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 victory over NCAA champion Britton in the first round.

The top-seeded Federer is trying to become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win six consecutive titles at the American Grand Slam tournament.

Britton was an 18-year-old wild-card entry and former Ole Miss standout who was playing in his second career tour-level match – and first at a major championship. He actually hit more winners than Federer, 32-31. But Britton also made more than twice as many unforced errors, 40-18.

Chalk one up for experience.

Britton will have his day. That, I feel sure of.

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Cotton looks good, prices don’t

August 26th, 2009 Comments off

Mississippi’s ever shrinking cotton crop appears to look good as growing goes, but with prices below break-even levels, the state’s farmers are holding their breath until they harvest time.

Prices in mid-August were about 53-55 cents a pound. Mississippi State crop budget estimators indicate the average farmer needs about 62 cents to make any money, at all.

And with the general economy still in the tank, that means bad news again for Mississippi farmers. These guys could use some good luck for a change.

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Fond thoughts of Stein Mart

August 24th, 2009 Comments off

The Stein Mart you may drive past these days is not the Stein Mart of the past.

That Stein Mart was of humble beginnings that clothed much of the Mississippi Delta for little or nothing.

People would travel from Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas to shop at the famed original store in Downtown Greenville.

The famous sales would have people lining streets waiting for the store to open.

I am reminded of these days with the news over the weekend of Freda Stein’s death. She was 96.

Freda and her husband Jake were integral to the success of Greenville from the 1940s until the mid 1980s.

My personal experience with Stein Mart is only as a shopper, but as a college student looking for clothes for a job interview in the mid 1980s, I made the trek to Stein Mart simply because that is what I could afford. It was the first suit I had ever bought on my own.

I don’t remember exactly what I paid for the suit, but I do remember buying a Sax 5th Avenue tie for 50 cents. I was thrilled.

By the way, I got the job.

And the tie lasted another 10 years, until it looked like it was worth 50 cents.

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Freda Stein, of Stein Mart fame, dies in Florida

August 24th, 2009 Comments off

For more than 50 years, the Stein family was royalty in Greenville and throughout Mississippi.

The Stein Mart stores eventually became a staple of life throughout the South.

On Saturday, Freda Grundfest Stein, died at her home in Jacksonville, Fla. Stein was 96 years old.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Hebrew Union Temple in Greenville, with the burial following in the Jewish Cemetery.

Most of the Stein family has long left Mississippi with the corporate headquarters now in Jacksonville with Fred’a son, Jay still the CEO. And even the original Stein Mart has been torn down in recent years in downtown Greenville. However a Stein Mart still remains in the River City as well as in many cities throughout Mississippi.

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Health matters when talking about healthcare

August 19th, 2009 Comments off

We should all be careful as the debate about healthcare rages on in Washington and across the United States in the next few weeks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent her chamber home for the summer recess with a list of talking points to respond to constituents’ questions about pending healthcare legislation.

However, traditionally sleepy town hall meetings have become rowdy shout-fests across the nation with opponents hanging members in effigy and mocking them with Nazi and devil imagery in an effort to derail discussions of healthcare.

Part of the problem at the town hall meetings have come from conservative think tanks like FreedomWorks, which offers tips on how to disrupt a meeting (“Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early,” says one) and helped in some cases by anti-tax “Tea Party” sympathizers.

That is a shame.

These town hall meetings, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, were designed as an opportunity for local citizenry to come out and have frank discussions with their representatives about real issues of the day.

They were not intended for screaming yahoos to interrupt the process of giving the honest voting public information to make decisions.

Yes, it is a free country.

And yes, last time I checked, freedom of speech was still in effect.

Still and yet, these are serious times, and no one should be forcing their opinion on anyone else, regardless of whether you are a member of a right-wing political organization or a member of Congress.

Real people are wanting real answers about a real subject: healthcare.

There is not one person in American who should not be concerned about the potential changes to the healthcare system in this country.

It, unlike many political footballs, has a direct effect on every single person reading this column and in this country.

I suspect most of the people, for or against the current proposals, would like to have an honest exchange with policy makers from their hometown.

The process, one would hope, should educate everyone involved.

Shouting matches educate no one and only fuel the fire of extremists looking to make a name for themselves.

Let’s be thoughtful.

And while we are at it, let’s think about what’s right for the country, as a whole — every man, woman and child in all 50 states.

I’m not naive. I know it’s all about politics.

But is that really what it should be about.

How about focusing on healthcare?

How about focusing on the financial impact?

How about having a calm, intelligent conversation about the issues.

That would be a welcome scene.

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New Web site a labor of love

August 18th, 2009 Comments off

Today, the Mississippi Business Journal unveils its new Web site. We are all very proud of the work that has been done and the changes that have been made. … Most notably, readers can actually find stories that have appeared in the print edition of the MBJ, which previously had been a difficult prospect. We continue to give the readers the Mississippi headlines of the day. … One more thing to look for on the new Web site is the newsmakers feature that has been so popular in the print edition. If someone in Mississippi has been promoted within their company or has taken on new responsibilities at a different firm or business, it likely will appear in the Newsmakers section of … Please take an opportunity to look at the site; tell us what you like and don’t like. … While we have worked hard to make this an upgrade to our previous Web site, we know it isn’t perfect and is a work in progress. We hope you enjoy the upgrades, and we look forward to your input.

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Michael Ohr Story

August 5th, 2009 Comments off

Saw the movie trailer for the Michael Ohr Story this morning. You remember the African-American Ole Miss lineman, who was adopted by a white, upper-middle-class family. Mississippi doesn’t always have a lot of feel good stories, but this is one of them. The movie probably isn’t going to win any Academy Awards, but a good movie for all Mississippians to see. Plus Sandra Bullock is in it. Can you believe she is pushing 50?

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