First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the latest sports news

Tracee Hamilton,Jason Reid
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 9:30 AM

Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

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Your forgot to mention seating: Split the big table and card table 3-4 or 4-3? Just don't get between Uncle Albert and the gravy bowl.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, that's a great one. Missed opportunity. Thanks. I'm getting email from people who either loved or hated today's column. Can't please everybody.And good morning, everyone! Yesterday was so slow here I was worried about you all, but hopefully everyone has shaken the tryptophan and finished his or her Cyber Monday shopping and is ready to talk ... whatever!

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WAHOOWA: How 'bout them Hoos! That was quite a performance against Minnesota. Bodes well for the ACC/Big Ten challenge, even though the rankings would have you believe the BT is currently superior. Was sad to see our beloved former walk-on Will Sherrill go down, though. Is there any news about his injury? I hope it's not serious; it would be a shame if he didn't get to play his one scholarship year.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, nice win for the Cavs. As for Sherrill, this is the latest from Steve Yanda -- stay tuned to the Cavs blog as I'm sure Steve will keep you updated.

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Heat beat Wiz: Am I the only one who thinks the national media (based in, ahem, Connecticut) is hyping last night's win by the Heat a little too much? What does it say about the lowered expectations of this Heat team that beating the Wizards by 11 is considered a great accomplishment? I mean, we expect the Wiz to lose most nights, but against The Greatest Basketball Team Ever Assembled shouldn't they be absolutely blown off the floor?

Tracee Hamilton: Well, yes, the TGBTEA should blow the Wizards off the floor, especially on their own court. Years of rooting for KU football have taught me the importance of moral victories and that was one for the Wiz. This Heat mess is, to be honest, delicious. I honestly wouldn't care if they were unbeaten at this stage, but the fact that they are imploding is just sort of fun to see.

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Play-offs ? . . . What for ?!: Tracee, Redskins fans are already considering the possibility of a playoff berth if the Redskins win their final five games, as they did in 2005. It would be great momentum for going into next year, but I'd really prefer that the Redskins not go back to the playoffs until they can have a playoff game at home and make a deep run. Seriously, even if the Redskins got into the postseason how far do you think they'd go? This team has such glaring deficiencies, especially on offense, that they'd be looking at another early exit, just like in 2007. Let's look at the offense. The only positions that the Redskins are set at are tight end and left tackle. The Skins are great at tight end with Chris Cooley and Fred Davis, and I like Trent Williams as the left tackle. But the Redskins need to upgrade all four of the other offensive line positions. That will take at least two years. As for wide receiver, the Skins have too few play-makers there. Maybe next year if Malcolm Kelly returns and stays healthy the Redskins will have an effective trio (Kelly, Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong), but right now they are thin. And at running back the Redskins will need someone who can stay healthy, something Clinton Portis was not able to do. And I think he's played his last game as a Redskin. Ryan Torrain may be the starter next year, but he's had durability issues as well. Finally, it's hard to evaluate the quarterback position until they can get Donovan McNabb an elite offensive line. So until these issues are addressed the Redskins will never be better than a number-six playoff seed . I'd rather they sit out the playoffs until they can be a division champion.

Tracee Hamilton: Truthfully, I've thought all along that playoff talk for this team was crazy talk, and I still do. I always root for the best story, and if they ran the table and made the playoffs that would be a GREAT story. However, I just don't see any possibility of that happening. And all the weaknesses you mention are correct and pretty much what I wrote in this morning's paper. They need major help and it's going to take more than one offseason to fix.

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peanut butter, celery, and the Big 12 Championship: Ms. H: Great column today, but, I must note, I prefer celery with peanut butter to imported olives (what can I say, a 1921 Dom Perignon just tastes better that way). I can't believe you're jinxing my Huskers by picking NU over OU. IF, if Martinez was 100%, I might agree, but he's not close to it. From what I can tell, all of the Big 12 (except NU fans of course), want OU to win - and the few nuts who were screaming about Beebe and other Big 12 officials, plus Pellini's idiotic behavior at the A&M game didn't help. Oh well, b-ball season is here, so nearly all the Big 12 will be able to enjoy kicking NU around two more times before March. (looks like MU might be able to challenge KU in b-ball -won't that be fun) AHG

Tracee Hamilton: I wasn't intending to jinx your boys. I'm not sure about OU; when I saw them play FSU early in the season I thought they were going to be pretty unstoppable but I was wrong.As for hoops, my boys looked pretty sharp last weekend in Vegas. And that's all I'll say about that!

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Demise of the printed press: Tracee, this may be better suited for the TV chat, but I'm asking you since it is only Tuesday... What will kidnappers on television use to prove their hostages are still alive if newspapers stop printing daily? A screenshot isn't an adequate compromise, what with the glare from the screen n' all. How will fictional captors provide proof of life to get their ransom money?

Tracee Hamilton: Great question. I can add this to my list of reasons we need newspapers: 1. Bird cage liner. 2. Fish wrapper. 3. Proof of life.

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"Little Pumpkin Tart": It is a sad day when the pumpkin tart overshadows the mac n' cheese, stuffing/dressing, and mashed potatoes. But it's even worse when the pie is pulled away from the table due to a mistake, like adding pecans when one person has a nut allergy. Sucks when one of the guests can ruin such a sweet finale for everyone at the table. (see: Riley, Perry)

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, that was just awful. There's a lot of discussion going around about the crowd at FedEx Sunday -- loud or not loud. I felt it wasn't loud and that the fans seemed to be waiting for something to get excited about. Then there was the return, then it was ruined. Anyone else feel that way?

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If I were Commissioner...: I generally oppose the joyless micromanaging of the No Fun League, but it is time to create a personal foul for the gratuitous "are you going to throw a flag" gesture that follows nearly every incomplete pass. If, in fact, pass interference occurred, said gesture would result in an offsetting penalty. "First down" and "average tackle after considerable gain" celebrations would be next. Bah!

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, there is too much lobbying going on on the field in general. From the coaches, okay, I get it, but the players need to butt out.I'm in shock about the lack of suspensions for the Johnson fight this past weekend. Am I the only one?

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Jerseys for sale: Sorry, just got a chance to read your column on paying student athletes -- Thanksgiving, family, etc. I chuckled when you mentioned colleges selling game jerseys and UGA's A.J. Green. It is ironic his school has and is selling game worn jerseys periodically via a web site. There are no names on the jerseys and it is not know when they were worn but still.....

Tracee Hamilton: The hypocrisy just blows my mind.

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Skin moves: Tracee,I know Allen and Shany were supposed to be upgrades on personnel matters but how do they explain bringing in Hicks, Parker, Johnson, and keeping Galloway until after mid season. And we are lucky to still have Banks as I think he was originally cut? Most of us arm chair QBs knew these were not good moves.

Tracee Hamilton: I give them points for trying. They worked the waiver wire and the undrafted lists pretty hard. They were wrong about some guys. They are lucky Torain and Banks were available when they needed them. I liked Torain in training camp and thought he was better than Parker and Johnson. They hung on to Galloway too long. And now there just aren't any options out there. I expect fewer of these kinds of signings next year as they start to build more through the draft. Hopefully, that won't mean they'll miss a guy like Banks, but you're not going to find one of him every season. To have both Banks and Armstrong make this kind of impact, that says something about their abilities to find talent. They just aren't going to be right all the time.

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Newspaper uses: And there's the whole reading with one's morning coffee aspect.

Tracee Hamilton: (The hat's at the very top of the page, FYI. You might miss it.) And yes, there is that crazy idea of reading it in the morning.

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Movies!: Good morning, Tracee. As I haven't got the stomach to discuss the Wuzzes, I thought we might talk about movies. I saw and enjoyed Morning Glory, which stars Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, & Rachel McAdams. Ty Burrell from Modern Family had a small part, which he did well. I saw & somewhat liked Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (which I will happily discuss). I look forward to seeing Black Swan (NOT a movie about hunting!) this weekend and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next weekend (Ben "Prince Caspian" Barnes is a god!).

Tracee Hamilton: Thursday. That's probably the best I will do. Oh, and I'll try to get my dad to go to "True Grit" over Christmas with me. My dad and I saw the original together when I was a kid; I think that's the only movie we saw together on a weeknight and that was a huge deal, just to be able to go.

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You need newspapers when cooking bacon.: Paper towels just don't work as well when draining the grease.The Caps have an interesting video on their site now. It is a team building visit to the FBI Academy in Quantico where, among other things, they got to blow stuff up, including a stuffed penguin.

Tracee Hamilton: Another good one. I need to be writing these down. This group is great at list making.I wish they hadn't blown up a stuffed penguin. I have a thing for penguins. Otherwise, very cool.

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What's In a Name?: Tracee - Could you calm my heart palpitations? When I look for the chat, I look for FTF... "Sports" at 9:30 just does not cut it!

Tracee Hamilton: Oh dear. Well, I can't control that but I'll pass it along to those who can.

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Suspensions and fines: I, too, am surprised that the NFL didn't levy higher fines or even suspensions against R. Seymour or the two fight participants. For a league that is as image conscious as the NFL, these decisions seemed remarkably tone deaf.

Tracee Hamilton: Agreed. If you can suspend Ben R. for four games -- and I have no problem with that -- how do you not suspend guys whaling on each other on the football field, wearing the NFL logo? THAT isn't an image problem?Either someone is breaking into my house or the cats are wearing cleats. Perhaps I should go see...

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The Costanzas: There was so much talk about the Costanzas the other day I was motivated to put in a Seinfeld DVD over the weekend. Found the one where Frank accuses Kramer of "stopping short with his wife" and where he fell down and caught the fusilli Jerry in a very uncomfortable place. Jerry Stiller is an absolute comic genius!

Tracee Hamilton: Just reading "fusilli Jerry" makes me giggle. I may get those DVDs out if I ever get my DVR cleared. I'm way behind.Anyone else watch "Luther" on BBC America? That's some great stuff.

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Thanksgiving Postgame: Last Wednesday I posted my chocolate peanut butter pie recipe and you suggested crumbling Butterfinger over it. Normally I'm not too into Butterfingers, but I thought "Tracee wouldn't steer a chatter wrong!" so I took your suggestion. It worked very well, thanks! Hope your Thanksgiving went well

Tracee Hamilton: Well, Julia Child I'm not but glad to help! Our Thanksgiving went well; everything I cooked was done at the same time and that so seldom happens that I was pretty grateful just for that.

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Tryptophan: It turns out this is a myth. Turkey does contain tryptophan but not nearly enough to make you sleepy after one meal. The likelier explanation is that the tryptophan triggers the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy, and when that's combined with a full stomach sleep responses kick in. (Maybe we can make this the Official Biochemistry Chat as well.)

Tracee Hamilton: Excellent idea, as you long as you submit something every day. I know I can't handle it!

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College Football column: Your column really gave me a lot of food for thought, but I'm still not sold on the idea of paying the players. I guess my main concern lies in the impression it leaves; namely that if you pay college football or basketball players a stipend, it sends a message to the thousands of atheletes in the non-income generating sports that they're less important and their contributions are less valued by the university. So maybe it should be and "all or none" kind of things. But I can't argue with your point about the schools reaping all the spoils and passing the fallout to the players. I'm really torn on this. And it's a shame, because college football is such an incredible game. I hope there's a day when we don't have to sift through so much grime and sleaziness to enjoy it. It's so bad it feels embarrassing to call myself a college football fan, as if by doing so I feel as if I'm enabling or excusing all the jackwagons that run the sport.

Tracee Hamilton: I know exactly how you feel. I want to enjoy the games like I used to but it's becoming harder and harder.

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running up the score for the polls: I asked Wilbon this yesterday. Basically, the only reason Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl is that they ran up the score against lowly opponents to get a higher BCS ranking. If you had a vote in the polls, would you rank a team higher for beating a lousy team by 63 points instead of 23? Personally, I would vote them lower for a lack of class.

Tracee Hamilton: I wouldn't take whoopings into account unless Wisconsin beat, say, Ohio State by 63 points. Beating KU by 63 -- hey, who hasn't? Ba dum dum. Of course, the BCS calculations eliminate that possibility and rewards teams that do it. Another reason to hate the BCS.

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RB turkeys: Trace, love your stuff. For the love of all things holy what is Shanny doing at RB. Williams has one good week and the next, of course he rides the pine. After that game vs the Eagles I was considering auctioning my fandom off to the higher bidder (Raiders here I come)

Tracee Hamilton: I don't get it. I REALLY don't get why that first series worked to perfection and contained creative plays and after that -- nothing! Script the entire game if you must, but give us more of that, more Banks, more Fred, more whatever. Throw in Young on occasion just for a surprise. Do SOMETHING. Try SOMETHING. Sorry, I'm getting worked up.

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Wiz: I believe in Ted Leonsis because he has a track record of success. I believe the Zards are on the right track to becoming a contender and am willing to be patient. I won't waver on that because they can't win on the road right now. All that said, is the real reason for concern that John Wall is going to have chronic injury problems? This is a few games missed now, and all I can think of is the sad story of Greg Oden. Of course Wall is a different body type than Oden and maybe not as injury prone, but still, a little scary...

Tracee Hamilton: I'm a little concerned about this as well. Is it really a knee bruise? Because that must be one hell of a bruise? I know it's apples and oranges to an extent, but the Caps play with their jaws wired shut. I don't want to call Wall soft because we don't know the extent of the injury; it's possible it's more serious and they are calling it a bruise. But he's missing a lot of games for a healthy 19-year-old.

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Making me feel old...: Seriously - are there stats, reports, or even anecdotes that would suggest that not wrapping up while tackling benefits a player (i.e., less risk of injury to tackler) or derives from a credible defensive philosophy? My fading memory recalls being taught to punch/wrap after impact to - um - "tackle" the ball-carrier and possibly create a turnover. Is "running-into-the-ball-carrier" actually coached? Or, maybe, at what level of play does actual tackling get dropped as a prerequisite skill for a defender?

Tracee Hamilton: It's taught until the NFL. Not so much teaching going on, and I guess it becomes tempting to make the dramatic hit over just wrapping a guy up. I don't get it, either. If the players think the fans don't appreciate a guy who just wraps up the other guy and slams him down, they're crazy.

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Bet the farm: Redskins have never been more than one game above or below .500 this year. So even though common sense would tell you the Giants will blow out the Skins this week, you know who to bet on.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, this is the one they can win. Then lose the home finale, of course. This is why I picked the record before the season but not the specific games. You could lose your mind picking the specific games.

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Montgomery Village, MD: Tracee Pallindrome update from last Thursday. As you recall, all three NFL games included teams with exactly opposite records 8-2 vs 2-8 or 7-3 vs 3-7. All three games ended with three pallindromes 9-2;2-9 8-3;3-8Just sayin'.

Tracee Hamilton: Thanks, MVMd. I hadn't realized that was the outcome. Too much meat loaf.

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The "laughing" Cardinals: ESPN, with Jon Gruden leading the way, made a big deal about Derek Anderson laughing with a teammate on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of their loss last night, and a reporter asked Anderson about it several times after the game, causing him to blow up. Any thoughts on this? I think it's a classic case of the media pulling something out of context and blowing it out of proportion, which I think is soooo out of character for ESPN.

Tracee Hamilton: Eh, if you're a fan of the Cardinals, you probably don't want to see him laughing but these guys are human, and who knows what his teammate said to him to make him laugh? This reminds of that Ovechkin kerfuffle from last week (or the week before) when he was laughing after a loss with another Russian and Boudreau wasn't happy. I can understand that but when the game is over, it's over. I don't think it's indicative of a lack of will to win. I have said this before; I've met very few pro athletes who didn't care whether they won or lost.

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Again with the newspapers: Two words: papier mache. (As if I'd ever do it, not being a crafty type, but still...)

Tracee Hamilton: True, but what would grade school students wrap around balloons to make planets if we didn't print the paper? Another good one!

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John Wall: Any idea when I will see him again for my 13 game, $137 per ticket, ticket plan at the phone booth?

Tracee Hamilton: Really good question. I'm sure Ted L. is wondering the same thing.

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Re: Palindromes: I've often wondered why Glenelg High School doesn't call its teams The Palindromes! Other suggested team names: The Hammond Eggs and the Creighton Barrels!

Tracee Hamilton: Nice!

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Free agency: I have been a Redskin's fan for almost 60 years, longer than Boz, and I do not get mad at them very often. I got mad at Gibbs when he wasted 2 first round draft choices on Desmon Howard and I got mad at Snyder when he signed Deon Sanders for 10 million. The only light at the end of the tunnel that I see in the near term is if the Redskins draft well and sign some truly good free agents this spring. This is supposed to be one of the best free agent classes ever. Just remember that Vinny is no longer around to mess things up.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, a lot will depend on this offseason. They have some picks to work with; we'll get a real feel for this operation in April's draft, I think. (And not before, because they sure won't talk about!)

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Sally Jenkins: Posting this cause you mentioned once that Sally Jenkins reads this chat. I should try and e-mail her this, but I just finished her book The Real All Americans that I picked up from the library. It's about the formation of the Carlisle Indian School and its football team. Excellent, excellent read. Both as a sports story and a history I couldn't put it down, so Sally if you read this, kudos! Your other chatters should check it out if they haven't

Tracee Hamilton: Sally, a shout-out, and well deserved! That was a great book and so was her book "The State of Jones." I HIGHLY recommend it. An aspect of the Civil War I didn't know about, which with all the Civil War books out there is saying something.

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It's Hamiltime!: Tracee: Great article! But one question. Why does the headline for the chat (on the front page of the e-edition) say the same thing as your headline for your article? Shouldn't it say First things First with Tracee Hamilton? It did that yesterday too and I was confused as to whether I was entering your chat or another one. Makie them stop the madness and call the chat what it is...First things First!

Tracee Hamilton: I see, it's on the home page. Well, that's even further out of my area but surely my dear editors will ask them not to do that again. You are right; that's not our usual way.

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Rockville, MD aka Montgomery Village, MD: Re "Running up the score" Wisconsin beat Indiana 83-20 and , Michigan by 20 and Northwestern 70-23 after leading 49-17 and the half. The Badgers threw ONE pass in the second half. If you don't want your opponent to run up the score --STOP them or shut up ! BTW, the reason Wisconsin is ranked ahead of THE Ohio State University is beacuse they BEAT the Buckeyes when OSU was ranked, ..........wait for it ........... NUMBER 1

Tracee Hamilton: Settle down. No one said that Wisconsin wasn't good, or implied they weren't better than OSU. We could have the "running up the score" argument until the cows come home. I imagine Wisconsin had the score run up on it many times in the past. But in today's world it has an actual value and I get why they do it.

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Winter movies: I am ashamed to admit that I intend to see "How Do You Know", only because of the Nationals angle (and filming in DC). I saw "Harry Potter" this weekend though and it was great!

Tracee Hamilton: Never be ashamed of your choices. Our founding fathers guaranteed you the right to see any movie you want! The Potter movie sounds pretty good; I may need to catch that one.

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@Skin Moves: I have seen many Redskins fans question bringing in guys like Galloway, Parker,etc. They seem to think that this indicates that somehow Shanahan doesn't know what he is doing. However, everyone that ask this question has no alternatives. The fact is the Redskins were 4-12 last year, and had almost no draft picks this year, thanks to Vinny Cerrato. What exactly were the Redskins supposed to do? Give Darren Sproles a gigantic contract? Trade picks and money for Braylon Edwards or Darren Jackson(ala Vinnu Cerrato)? To me, Shanahan decided to start the rebound by bringing in people that were cheap and available, which he did. It is nearly a miracle that they have 5 wins with Ryan Torain, Brandon Banks, Keiland Williams, and Anthony Armstrong as feature players....all players that would have been unemployed but for the Redskins. Let''s give some credit here, and look towards the future.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, that was the point I was making. They had the biggest roster to start training camp that I've ever seen. There is no harm in trying a lot of guys out and keeping the cream of the crop, especially when you have so many holes to fill. Next year, there will be slightly fewer holes. Sadly, they are BIG holes, starting with running back. But this year was a start and the fact that they found a few gems should be seen as a positive.

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Can we blame a higher power?: I mean, everyone else is doing it.

Tracee Hamilton: Ah, yes, we haven't even discussed that one. That's just pretty amazing. Although it's a refreshing change from "God wanted me to make that field goal."

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Re: paying college players: My solution: base their salary on the cost of an education at that school. They either use their salary to pay for their tuition and room and board and go to classes like the other students, or they get the same amount as a regular paycheck and become part of the school's "external promotions department" (because, really, isn't that what the teams are all about?). Each athlete gets a five-year deal, not guaranteed. The star players whose likenesses and uniform numbers are used in promotion get an additional deal.The usual rules apply about off-the-field behavior and use of performance enhancing drugs. Go pro when you want. No rules against transfering (if the coaches can leave and take a new job the next year, why not the players?).Terribly cynical, I know, but tell me this isn't the most honest way to deal with the issue.

Tracee Hamilton: I've heard from a lot of readers with a lot of interesting ideas of how to fix the system. Yes, it's cynical but it certainly would be more honest in acknowledging what it's really all about.

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And there's the whole reading with one's morning coffee aspect.: But I can read my netbook with a cup of copy without any problems at all.

Tracee Hamilton: I know you meant "coffee" but you just came up with a great slogan for the paper -- "your morning cup of copy". Nice!

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Hated It or Loved It: Well, TH, IMHO you have arrived as a columnist if you have some opining readers saying that they loved it and others saying they hated it. That's what a column is supposed to do. Well done. PS: I liked it.

Tracee Hamilton: Thanks, that's a great way of looking at it.And I've run quite a bit over so time to stop. Thanks, everyone, for returning to the fold today. Let's talk tomorrow at 9:30, hopefully as "First Things First" once again!


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