Monday, March 31, 2008
One more reason to appreciate Barack Obama is what he is bringing to the Democratic campaign, quite literally, the new faces he is bringing to the fore. The contrast is even more stark when compared to the recycling of the Clintons.
The latest example of this trend was on display at the California Democratic party's convention. Hillary brought in Bill as her surrogate. He urged the superdelegates not to rush to judgment, and made suspect claims that the bruising battle between Clinton and Obama is not hurting the potential Democratic presidential ticket.
Obama on the other hand was represented by someone our non-California readers have probably never heard of, the refreshing and energetic San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala D. Harris.
In North Carolina, Saturday, at the N.C. Young Democrats rally, the same pattern held. Clinton was represented by an aging voice from the past, James Carville. Obama was represented by a dynamic new leader of the future, and a personal Clarion fave, Newark Mayor, Corey Booker.
Major League baseball could not have screwed up Opening Day any worse if they had held a contest for ideas on how to screw up Opening Day.
How's this for an idea, baseball honchos and assorted used car salesmen? Let's open up our season, at 6am, on a Wednesday, in another continent with the World Champions? Then let's arrange for said World Champions to fly home from Japan have a couple of more exhibition games in Los Angeles(at least it was for charity,) then schedule a single, stand alone, nationally televised game on a Sunday night. But let's have the showcase Sunday night ESPN game be a one game "series" between two also-rans and have the rest of the league open Monday???
What happened to the Cincinnati Reds only opener on an April, not March, Monday? This was a tradition that worked, for what was then America's pastime, for all but two years between 1876 and 1989. Instead, today, there are not just a slew of other games scheduled, some at night, but there are games scheduled to start in Detroit and the Bronx an hour earlier than Cincinnati pushing the Reds all the way back from their traditional first home opener slot to 5th after Japan's Red Sox, Washington's Nationals, as well as, the Tigers and the Yankees.
Of course, this Opening Day stupidity is just part of a litany of anti-fan things done by Major League baseball in recent years. If you have any doubts, try using mlb.tv someday, it makes the your local Department of Motor Vehicles seem friendly and efficient. Fortunately, baseball's customer service reps are only slightly less responsive than the average tech company who has outsourced the back office to a non-English speaking place in Central Asia. They care not at all. It is all about the money. Ask the 1994 World Series.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Or life's little surprises.
The vagaries and exigencies of living with children, one must always be prepared, ready. For example, be prepared that the lid to the salsa, the peanut butter, the pickles, et cetera, may not have been screwed back on tightly. When picking up said jar or container, one must always grip it firmly by the sides of the container and lift carefully. Don't just grab it by the top. You think salsa is not a missile, peanut butter is not a bomb. Try not to think about the pickles or worse, sour cream. Reassure yourself, most of the time these days, they're in a plastic container. Oh yeah, that's better, but it doesn't equal shatter proof when dropped. The splatter radius of said container exploding is huge. There are nooks and crannies that haven't seen the light of day in eons that will be gooped. So listen to the Coast Guard, "Semper prepatus." Grab jars from the side, not by the top. The mess you save will be your own.
Labels: Practical Advice
We warned you about the Clarion's predictions way back. Salt, people, lots of salt. (Heck, we recommend you take our links with salt.) But the debate has been raised editorially, perhaps we should be even more explicit about our prognostication.
Masticating, prognosticating, there is a certain, in our view, semi-wonderful confluence between what we are rooting for, here at the Clarion, and what we are predicting. We know it. Know thyself is only an opening step on a long journey. As yet, despite knowing our bias towards seeing what we wish were true, we can deviate from it no more than minutely. We console ourselves with the power of our ability to control our own destiny. Doesn't much help when predicting professional sports, but doesn't much matter when we're wrong about sports. Does it? Well, a only a smidgen. Give us grief then, as needed.
As to our non-sports, non-pop culture predictions, the preferred recipe is a pinch of salt mixed with these kind of thoughts...
"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee." ---Marian Wright Edelman
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."---Mahatma Gandhi
“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” --–William James
"The essence of your prayers is the faith you have in them that they will be answered." ---Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"Vision is a picture of a preferred future."
"Team is those needed for the vision to become a reality."
"Culture is the locus of change."
"Integrity is the congruency of the vision and reality for the leader and the team."
---Lovett H. Weems Jr.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Hillary Clinton refuses to let the facts get in the way of her story. She is going to make it up which ever way is best for her. (Aside to faux victim Chelsea Clinton: this is why the "blue dress" is relevant; if it doesn't turn up, Hillary savages Monica as part of the "vast right wing conspiracy" along with Paula Jones, Jennifer Flowers, Kathleen Wiley, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.)
Hillary Clinton was busted telling tales last week about her heroic charge across the tarmac in Bosnia, which in actuality was a slow stroll, waving to the crowds with Chelsea, shaking hands with the Bosnian president. Clinton was back at it again Tuesday, making inaccurate claims about being the first, First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to visit a war zone. (Not to even touch the issue of whether Bosnia was a "war zone,") Clinton ignored First Lady, Pat Nixon's trip to Saigon in July 1969. Clinton has demonstrated time and again, she will not let the facts stand between her and what she wants.
Fortunately, George Bush II, is certain of G-d's backing of his decision to invade Iraq, "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency. It is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision."
It is this kind of claim of absolute sureness, that a small "c" conservative; with a philosophy rooted in doubt and a healthy skepticism of faith based certainty, because of its inaccessibility to debate and reason, finds maddening.
Labels: Middle East
Thursday, March 27, 2008
As we have noted in Pakistan and elsewhere(Kenya's recent conflicts leap to mind) the war in Iraq is internecine and rooted in false boundaries drawn on a map. The United States' troops have been able to suppress conflict. However, the underlying and on-going battle is over the spoils of the state. In no way does it break down along lines that can managed by outsiders. This week's most recent fighting underlines that premise.
The fighting this week is mostly between the Shi'ite Sadrists and the Shi'ite majority government. However, the fault lines within Iraq, divide the Sunnis as well, along tribal and clan lines, between the fundamentalists who might support Al-Queda and the more moderately religious, and those from the Sunni areas and tribes with Baathist ties. This secular divide is between central and southern Iraq, as well as the Kurds of central and northern Iraq. The absence of secure state control has divided and redivided the country into smaller and smaller units. Outsiders are not helping. Compromises have not been made politically to bring all factions into government. Division of revenues and power in a way that satisfies all is well nigh impossible.
In the last few days the conflict has exploded disastrously across Iraq. Reports indicate that in parts of Bagdhad police and government checkpoints have disappeared to replaced once again by local irregulars. United States troops have in the last several months slowed the slide of the state into total chaos, but there is nothing to what they are protecting. Iraq is an illusion that has been only held together by force. There is a constant low intensity conflict, that is now bubbling over again, fighting for the levers of power. No amount of American firepower can change the underlying reality of conflict set in play by the mapmakers of generations past.
Labels: Middle East
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Here's today's latest and greatest
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
There has been a steady drum beat of commentators questioning what experience Hillary Clinton actually gained in her role as First Lady. Does simply sleeping off of the corridors of power count for something? Does attending state dinners qualify?
As Clinton has been forced, resisting all the way, to reveal documents from her time as First Lady, her role has been shown to have been mostly on the margins. This has also been the recollection of other senior policymakers. She looked the utter fool last week when she tried to claim a lead role in negotiating peace in Northern Ireland, only to have the former First Minister of Northern Ireland and Noble Prize winner, David Trimble publicly repudiate her claims. Other commentators have been more conciliatory, noting that while she was not involved in the nitty-gritty of the process, she was a supporter.
Last week she was back at it, describing her dramatic landing under sniper fire in Bosnia. Whoops, only when further confronted Clinton was forced to recant and admit she "misspoke." What a euphemism!?! She misspoke?!? Compare.
During a speech last Monday on Iraq, she said of the Bosnia trip: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
In her book, Living History she wrote, "Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find."
However, CBS News video of the Bosnia trip posted on YouTube, shows Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, walking across the tarmac from a large cargo plane, smiling and waving, and stopping to shake hands with Bosnia's acting president and greet an 8-year-old girl.
Clinton is worried that the "untested" Obama is going to provide the attack machine with too much cannon fodder?!?
When it comes to the truth the Clintons are cut from the same cloth as the Bushes.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Courtesy of Esquire magazine and John Sack...
"Stop burning those houses!" Smoke cried to his captains. "There's no VC in those houses!" The captains told their lieutenants, don't burn those houses if there's no VC in them--the lieutenants told their sergeants, if you burn those houses there better be VC in them--the sergeants told their men, better go burn those houses because there's VC in them, and Morton kept striking his C-ration matches.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
He is doing things that are all but unprecedented in his sport. He has won five PGA tournaments in a row for the third time in his career. (He has also won the last two other tournaments that he has entered worldwide, for seven in a row all told.) Only two other golfers have ever had streaks of five or more PGA tour wins in the history of the game. Let us repeat, Tiger has three such streaks including one active now.
Last weekend he tied the legendary Ben Hogan in the record books for the third most PGA tours wins of all time, having already passed living legend Arnold Palmer, all this at the ripe old age of 32. The way he is doing it is equally remarkable. Last weekend it was a masterful charge from off the lead, culminating with superb style as Tiger drained a sharp breaking twenty five footer on the 72nd hole of play, to win the tournament with Arnie, now age 78, looking on green side. Word has it, Arnie called Tiger shot, whispering in the ear of a compatriot, "He's gonna make it." It was breathtaking. One of those moment people refer to when they describe the Durkhemian ritual of sport, its transcendent power to raise spirits and lift hopes. Look at this human, he is incredible and we are all witness.
This weekend, in between NCAA tournament games, do yourself a favor and flick over to Tiger at Doral, a tournament he has won three years running. For sure, don't miss the Masters, April 10-13th, as Tiger begins his quest for the Grand Slam, a feat never accomplished in modern golf. Remember for all the wingeing and wheezing about tennis great Roger Federer being an all timer, the Grand Slam something he was never able to accomplish in his much ballyhooed and over-hyped career, let alone a single season.
This year Tiger could do it. It will be historic. You will tell your grandchildren about Tiger. If he could do it in the year of Obama, all the better.
One final thought, on what separates Tiger, why he is this great, there is talent, but the real difference is drive, work desire and effort. He is the epitome of 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Check this quote...
"Asked last week about the source of his hunger, Tiger seemed almost offended by the question. “I don’t see how you can live with yourself not trying, and not giving your best,” he replied. “People do that. I don’t know how they do. That, to me, is unacceptable.”
Labels: Practical Advice
Friday, March 21, 2008
The Clarion has always been one to measure inflation by feel, and locally. It is quite less than a scientific method. But yet, like a recession, inflation is something that pervades the Clarion's senses or doesn't. It is either present in the air or illusory. Our measures are the every day things of life. It sounds stunningly obvious. How else would one measure whether or not prices have gone up other than with the every day, most regular, common, things one buys?
Of course, this is just the opposite of the thinking behind the man's most popular inflation measuring stick, which is the "core measure" of the Producer Price Index. This gauge excludes so-called "volatile" food and energy prices. What else is more every day than gas and grub? Is there something else that is as omnipresent in people's lives? Isn't most everything else more discretionary? Nope, not according the United States Labor Department. Nonetheless, the Producer Price Index's "core measure" jumped 1/2 of a percent yesterday, its biggest gain since 2006. Washington's measurement.
Meanwhile, back in Durham, North Carolina, the Clarion went into a local institution, Foster's Market, with $2 in cash, salvaged from an unspeakable place in the hoopty, only to discover the price for a cup of coffee had gone up. $2 no longer gets you a cup of joe at Foster's Market. For some years the price has been $1.50 and with tax $1.61. As of yesterday, it is now $2 flat, which with the government of North Carolina's further tithe is $2.12. Fortunately deep in the recesses of our pockets, we had a handful of change, so coffee was thankfully procured, not denied. After a few sips, when we were able to speak more cogently, we queried the cashier, a long time employee, about the price change. The cashier pointed out that the price rise was across the board.
Foster's Market has raised the price not just on drip coffee, but on cookies, scones, brownies, sandwiches, and most of their menu. And they are not alone. Just down Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, the popular local German bakery, (and cafe,) Guglhupf has a sign on the bake case detailing the increases in cost of its basic supplies in recent years. They want to be sure their customers know that sugar, flour and cooking oil prices are shooting through the roof. This is apparently a local manifestation of a national and international trend. The Clarion felt it yesterday, and the Foster's cashier said nearly every customer that had been in commented on it.
And of course, there is gas. Gas is up and down, and up and down, but more up as of late. Around these parts under $3 per gallon hasn't been seen in some time. Faithful readers will recall that we wrote last month in an article about $100 a barrel crude oil, even higher gas prices are coming. $3.75 to $4.25 per gallon for regular unleaded gas will be the national average by early summer. By the, the by, oil was $109.42/barrel yesterday.
We are not aged enough to remember America's lost decade of the 1970's and stagflation, but this old dog smells something in the air, now, today, March 2008, and it isn't just the coffee. Dear readers, your thoughts and perceptions would be welcome. Are you feeling, seeing, smelling inflation in your neck of the woods?
Sports talk radio show host Jim Rome speared the recently collapsed investment bank Bear Stearns this afternoon with a heck of a skewer. Paraphrasing what Rome said, 'Today, Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez, both of them, are worth more than Bear Sterns!!'
Rome may be technically correct based on the bargain basement $236 million, $2 per share price JP Morgan paid for Bear Sterns yesterday. Was this price the final insult of a deal railroaded through by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, favoring the fear of the status quo crisis over the future moral hazard?
The Clarion long a detractor of insurance, a conservative with a tiny 'c' loathes the interference of the government, this administration. There is no arguing that this administration has been a massive expander of the Federal Budget and the Federal debt. They will tell you it had to be done, this rescue, and it will be years from now before we can see clearly, if ever, who was right and wrong. But in the long decline of the American hegemon, mark this as another notch on the bedpost. A clichéd sequence in time where the overdependence of the economy on financial services kicked the taxpayer square in the groin. This deal will cost billions. Did it head off catastrophe? Quien sabe? But even if it did, doesn't that need point to major systemic issues for the American economy?
Two other notes. This first neither proves nor disproves the merits of the deal, but it is ironic. The New York Times' Andrew Sorkin pointed out that Bear's headquarters on Madison Avenue is valued at $1.2 billion. This would value Bear Stearns at $8 share (not $2) if it could truly fetch that hefty price.
The other note seemingly unrelated except in the Clarion's minds eye, the physical cracking of the infrastructure of the American state was on display today in Philadelphia. A six foot crack opened in a pylon on Interstate 95 that will close a three mile section of highway used by an estimated 190,000 commuters per day. Traffic was snarled today on the pothole ridden streets of Richmond Avenue according the Philadelphia Inquirer.
While money is poured down the drain maintaining the Empire, the streets and highways of America are crumbling. (Not to mention the water pipes.)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Root for the Georgia Bulldogs today, if you possibly can. You might have heard about their improbable run through the SEC tournament. Winning four games in three days and two games in one day after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta and played havoc with the tourney schedule. (An aside here, increased weather intensity will be the biggest global warming impact.)
But the disruption to their schedule and their ability to overcome it is not why we are asking you to pull for Georgia today. It is about a much more profound, important stance and a coach who has insisted on doing things right.
Dennis Felton took over a program mired in the abyss. Georgia had been destroyed by the academic fraud of Jim Harrick and son. Harrick's son and assistant coach was teaching the infamous "Strategies of Basketball" class for athletes. It featured a final exam with questions like, 'How many halves are in a basketball game?' and 'How many points is a three point basket worth?' Way to go Harricks, now there's a real college education like the rest of the student body is getting.
New Coach Felton had to clean up this mess. He started five years ago with a program featuring 11 walk-ons. Georgia had reason to believe in Felton, at Western Kentucky not only had Felton led on court success, but he graduated 100% of the players he recruited. Last year, Felton, a character with education guy, led a drive at Georgia to install tougher academic standards for athletes, including fines and suspensions for missed classes and tutoring appointments. Way to go Coach!!
And when push came to shove, he stuck to his guns and kicked the two leading scorers from last year off of the team before this season, when they wouldn't take their academics seriously. Of course, this had an adverse effect on the basketball court. Felton and Georgia struggled to a 13 up and 16 down mark heading into the SEC tournament. The media honks at ESPN and elsewhere were already starting a whisper campaign about Felton's job, then a remarkable run, four wins in three days and a little karmic redemption for a coach who surely deserves it.
Today, unless you are a Xavier alum (you're exempted) pull for Dennis Felton's Georgia Bulldogs, an example of what is right with college sports.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
These picks are for entertainment purposes only, so don't come crying on our sweater if you listened to us and didn't win the office pool. We will offer a brief capsule of our rationale after each squad. Remember, it is the people who pick the horses by name who win money at the track.
In the East the Clarion has...
North Carolina -- led by the national player of the year, Tyler Hansbrough, they are the favorites to win the whole kit and caboodle.
George Mason -- this pick is one part nostalgia, and two parts returning senior leading scorers from a club that slayed UNC and UConn on its way to the Final Four.
Lousiville -- Rick Pitino's teams play defense and win. We may not like the guy, but at the college level he wins.
Butler -- The Clarion's first dragon slayer, says here their fundamentally sound, don't turn it over, guard-oriented style gives Tennessee fits.
In the Midwest bracket we like...
UNLV -- Yes, UNLV. We road that horse last year, when we predicted the Rebs run to the Sweet Sixteen, and this year we are back on it. UNLV plays good defense.
Clemson -- Okay, we know they can't shoot free throws, and that might come back to bite them on the ass, but we can't help but be impressed with their recent gutty play.
USC -- They are more than freshmen sensation O.J. Mayo, note our anti-Michael Beasley sentiment might be coloring our opinion here.
Georgetown -- They were our early national champion pick. We are sticking with them.
Our bracket in the South looks like this...
Memphis -- By default, we aren't enamoured with anyone in their sub-regional.
Pitt -- Winners of the Big East tournament, the Panthers have looked great every time the Clarion has seen them, including a big early season comeback against Duke in the Garden.
Stanford -- a team of tall trees, whose mascot is a tree?? Right up our alley, Palo Alto.
Texas -- How can they be this good with Rick Barnes, but without Durant? Guard D.J. Augustin must be sick nasty.
Finally out West our Sweet Sixteen teams are...
UCLA -- We have been behind the Bruins and this year's best NBA prospect, Kevin Love, all year.
Drake -- We have always liked their cakes.
Purdue -- Gritty Matt Painter's kids don't look like much on paper. Scott Drew's Baylor bunch could be a tough first round draw, but Purdue is battle tested.
Duke -- Coach K. fall before the Sweet Sixteen two years in a row? The Clarion thinks it is pretty unlikely, despite how poorly Duke has played down the stretch.
Our Final Four, with the brackets set, now looks like...
Our final game is Georgetown-UCLA. It is a coin flip, good coaches, good big men, good defense, good systems, lots of experience for both squads. Earlier this year we picked Georgetown, let's stick with that today.
Monday, March 17, 2008
"If Hillary's last name wasn't Clinton, she would be just another crazy white lady with too much money and not enuf lovin'...I know women like that, and you do not want them on the phone at three in the morning."
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Welcome loyal readers!! We are returning with the March version of the latest interesting links, from fascinating and delightful to horrifying to thought provoking, this is what we have seen and you have submitted. To check out our old interesting links posts click here. January's interesting links has links embedded to all the old links.
First a couple of fellow bloggers, one of whom the Clarion has been meaning to highlight for months. We know neither of them personally, but this first one, we admire her blog, Liberation Begins with Education, tremendously. She is clearly a committed political activist. Her blog is filled with wonderful links to further resources. She writes cogent, thoughtful essays and points the direction to others good work. We pop by here at least once a week. Here's an essay that we liked(though we didn't entirely agree with) about her objections to Hillary Clinton's possible presidency.
The second blogger we want to note, we have read less of, but what we have seen cracks us up. It is Some Guy's Blog, from Sammy Davis Jr. glass eye to Sandy Duncan's rumored glass eye, to shopping with grandma and the difference between Spock and sporks, nothing is safe from the razor sharp wit of Some Guy's Blog. Yep, he is just some guy, but he is some guy with a dang funny sense of humor. And, sheesh, does this guy, know how to find the funny pictures or what? He is highly hilarious.
Here's one more funny one that has been making the rounds of late. The name, Stuff White People Like, is a dead giveway that it isn't PC, but it is funny.
Having detoured a long way from the straight and narrow view with that last one, we will begin the transition back with a fun political cartoonist, from Newsday. Sometimes humor is the only way to face down the toughest of subjects, and a picture is worth 1,000 words or so they say...
To that end on a more political and far less bemusing note, sometimes the visual is the best way to communicate scale. This link provides a grim window into that insight. It looks at casualties from George Bush the II's Iraq War. It is important to note, as one of our local commentators pointed out to the Clarion, most Iraqi casualties from Bush II's war were not in fact wounded or killed by the American military. In fact, the vast majority of Iraqi dead and wounded are from the chaos the enveloped the country after America attacked. The descent into mob rule and the on-going civil war have claimed the most victims.
More thought provoking, Iraq related stuff we have seen in recent weeks includes, a new book by a crucial advisor in the run up to the Iraq War II, Douglas Feith. Feith was a chief architect of the Neo-Con approach to the Middle East. His early thinking on the fall of the Berlin Wall foreshadowed a day when the American military empire would refocus on the Middle East. Rather than give Feith credit for astute prediction, the Clarion sees him as an essential cog in the military industrial complex. His stance, along with that of the disgraced Paul Wolfowitz, helped move Rumsfeld and Cheney along the path to war. He helped convince them that a Middle Eastern resource war was an inevitable trajectory. While this book has yet to be released it already has the wonks and insiders buzzing. It is a massive tome that shunts blame for the war on to Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, rather than addressing head on the lies that Feith and others were spreading about ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Follow this link to read about a report the Pentagon published and immediately surpressed this week, concluding there were no connections between the Iraqi state and Al-Qaeda. Feith refuses to admit that the invasion was a disastrous mistake and in his book attempts to blame its horrific failure on the "disloyalty" of the State Department and other administration officials. The scariest part is that people like Doug Feith and Richard Perle are not in leg irons in front of the Capitol Building. Rather having never served a day of combat, they are still justifying and worse profiting (via consulting and lobbying) from having put other people's children in harms way.
Rather than end this post on that kind of discouraging, negative note, the Clarion has two more quickies for you. As the Crystal Method reminds us, "There is Hope." Hopeful note number one, a judge in Los Angeles freed a man who had spent 25 years in prison for a murder he always swore he didn't commit. An unreliable, sole eyewitness had put him away, thank goodness he didn't get the irreversible death penalty.
A final link for you, hint it's funny.
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Madness of March is underway. The NCAA Division I college basketball tournament is like the old Indiana High School tournament, every school in Division I theoretically has a chance to win. These days all the leagues, save for the Ivy League, have post-season conference tournaments. Win your conference tournament and you get to go dancing with the big boys and girls. This week everybody can dream of being George Mason.
There have already been tickets punched as CBS likes to say. Dreams are in the air, two first time ever schools have qualified for the final 64, Portland State and American University. For the more tradition laden programs this week is hardly a formality, winning your conference tournament is about bragging rights, and perhaps more importantly seeding.
Brackets unmade and unseen, the Clarion is sticking with the same Final Four we had four weeks ago. Georgetown, UCLA, UNC and a Big Ten team, from the trio of Purdue, Indiana and Mich State. We still like Georgetown as the national champion despite the presence of national player of the year candidates and more All-Americans on the other squads.
Word to the wise tonight, in the ACC tournament, Duke, be careful, don't sleep on Georgia Tech.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter, and one of the smartest politicians this side of Dan Quayle, popped off earlier this week with what has been deemed by the media an egregiously politically incorrect statement.
Ferraro, a former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee said to Fox News, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
If she was trying to underline the Clarion's point about the divisiveness of the continuing fight for the Democratic nomination she could not have done a better job. Of course, the remark set off an immediate firestorm.
Hillary Clinton had to disavow association with it, as she disavowed connection last week with one of her lead advisors calling Obama a Kenneth Starr, as she brushed off the week before one of her Latino, Texan supporters saying, "When blacks had the numbers, they didn't do anything to support us. They always used our numbers to fulfill their goals and objectives, but they never really supported us, and there's a lot of hard feelings about that. I don't think we're going to get over it anytime soon." That's a lot of accidental negativity from your camp, Mrs. Clinton.
Ferraro called the response to her remarks reverse racism. And at an undisclosed location Karl Rove smiled.
Was Ferraro simply speaking truth to power? Saying what the rest of the pundits and the country are afraid to admit? After all John Edwards was a young, dynamic, good looking, single term Senator, who was a terrific orator, with a moving personal story. Did the Democratic Party fail to coalesce around him simply because he was white? Ferraro would have us believe it was Obama's novelty that drew people to his campaign.
How tragic and wrong!! It is this kind of callous cluelessness that underlines for the Clarion the difference between the old way, politics as usual of Clinton and the change Obama represents. Obama drew millions of new people into the process not because of his race or appearance, but because of his message. Change. Change the old way of doing business, listen to new voices, think about new possibilities. To imagine just the starting point, the Clarion daydreams of the vast differences between an Obama appointed cabinet of new faces and a Clinton appointed cabinet of recycled hacks.
Edwards was rejected because his campaign preached moving back to the old Al Gore model. Edwards focused on what was wrong with America, its divisions, faults and failures. Obama's message of positive change trumped that, "Yes, we can," blew, "Those people are screwing you," out of the water. Edwards' message had already lost twice, Gore and Kerry. Edwards didn't lose because he was white and Obama black, he lost on the substance of what he stood for.
Contrary to Ferraro's small minded, parochial attack, very few people were enamoured with the idea of a black nominee in the beginning. It was thought unrealistic and a surefire general election loser, look at the "token" candidate attacks and Jesse Jackson comparisons made by Bill. This was meant as a reminder that in the view of the Democratic establishment Obama was not a candidate of substance, but rather a symbol.
But as we now know it backfired horribly as Obama went on to win in states with small black populations like Vermont and Wyoming, like Wisconsin and Utah. To paraphrase a line that the Clinton's used to like, "It's the message, stupid."
The Clinton's continuing attacks on the messenger are handing the White House back to the Republicans despite the fact that they have been in charge for eight years of unmitigated disaster.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Clarion as long time readers can confirm was not stoked about the dismissal of Joe Torre from the post of Yankees skipper. Make no mistake, it was a dismissal. Veteran New York watchers know a one year contract in the City sports scene is one foot on the proverbial plank. The illustrative comparison can be seen with the way the New York football Giants handled Coach Tom Coughlin before last season. The Giants ownership, who get it, just as much as the Yankees ownership, knew Coughlin only had one year left on his deal. They didn't want him to go into the season as a lame duck, so they gave him a one year extension. It worked out okay. They knew that the New York media begin speculating about your job security from day one, and it is all but impossible to successfully coach when facing lame duck status. (The modern athletes one is supposed to manage know one's contract status just as well as the media.)
So Torre was forced out, but the Yankees claim to have replaced him with a younger, better product. If you'll pardon us the bad pun, there's a new Joe in town, one who was the National League Manager of the year, before being fired for getting into a dispute with ownership. The Clarion thinks the Marlins ownership is a denizen of about the 5th circle of hell, so we are willing to give Girardi the benefit of the doubt on that one. However, already three things have rubbed us the wrong about the new Joe, one tactical, one practical and one absurd.
The tactical one is pretty straightforward. Girardi has been talking about platooning Matsui some in left field to get Damon and Giambi more at-bats. Not that Giambi is to play in left, but rather Damon is not to poach his at-bats from 1st base and the DH spot, but instead from left field. The Clarion hates that plan. When healthy, Matsui is much more productive than either of those guys, still got his 100 RBIs in only 143 games last year. He is faster at this point in his career than either. He is a much more fundamentally sound player. We are willing to give Girardi the benefit of the doubt for a moment, but in our opinion Giambi is all but done. Sorry about his contract, but put him out to pasture already. Our crack sports staff would rather see Shelley Duncan get his roster spot.
Issue two is a practical one, what is this whining about the back up catcher, Francisco Cervelli, getting hurt in a home plate collision. Too bad. And sincerely, too bad because the kid broke his wrist, but what are they supposed to play the games half speed when you say so, Joe? Girardi's arrogance just oozes off of him. Worse the Yanks had to get called out on this incident by old man Don Zimmer, who told Girardi in no uncertain terms to back off. The guy who ran over the back-up catcher is trying to make the Rays, trying to give his all and get noticed. Worst yet, the baseball people present said it wasn't a dirty play. Francisco Cervelli was blocking the plate Elliot Johnson ran over him. Minus two points for whining Joe.
Issue three, they are letting Billy Crystal play? Sixty year old Billy Crystal? Play, not just trot on to the field to throw out the first ball like every other celebrity. Don't get the Clarion wrong, we love Billy Crystal, he's an American icon, but putting him in a game at 60 is another sign the Yankees are taking the wrong approach this Spring. Ya know Joe, Robin Williams sits in the same luxury box as Billy quite often, maybe you can let the two of them play the whole left side of the infield. Sweet.
Even the Cubs don't let Bill Murray play. Keep up the good work.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
The irony is the Clarion was thinking just the opposite. We feel that Hillary is hewing to the center and winning voters that are ultimately going to break for McCain in the fall. Hillary appears to be gaining traction amongst so called Reagan-Democrats. A demographic that when compared to Obama's has more older, white males, who are middle class or poorer. The Associated Press has a fascinating story about the affects of Obama’s race on the selection process. One of the first essays that the Clarion has seen that addresses the issue of race and the election head on. Even before this piece, the Clarion was seeing Democratic primary voters who are rejecting Obama now, as containing significant numbers of folks who will ultimately vote for McCain in the fall. It is our belief a Hillary Clinton nomination, especially achieved via superdelegates, will supress voter turnout with her negativity. If she is able to vanquish Obama it will be through politics as usual and will squash the morale of young and black voters alike. (Both are core Obama constituencies. Clinton has her own core contituencies that will not be turned off.)
Then we saw a a stunning LA Times piece which takes the issue of whom Clinton’s primary voters are, way further, questioning the reality and applicability of her victory in Texas. This was apparently a story some in the Clarion’s coeterie had heard, but not us. Rush Limbaugh was pushing his listeners to vote for Hillary in Texas!?! With the admitted motive of prolonging the Democratic nomination fight?!? And a with boring, sewn up Republican nomination, as many as 100,000 by some estimates, may have?!?!
Friday, March 07, 2008
Hillary Clinton's victories in the Democratic primaries this week, convincingly in Ohio and by a nose in Texas, all but assured John McCain the presidency. The Clarion makes this bold statement with an eye to what is going to happen in the coming weeks. We have already seen hints of it in the last few days. Negative campaigning will dominate. Claws have been bared.
The Clinton camp is a by any means necessary group of warriors. Early this week, Clinton's people were talking about finding a way to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan even though, no other candidates campaigned there and the Democratic party chairman said it absolutely cannot happen.
Whatever it takes to win, it will be done, because the Clintons have longed believed that the outcome is far more important than the means. H. Clinton demonstrated this time and time again in her days in the White House. What did it matter if policy goals were accomplished? These modus operandi have resurfaced this week. Clinton has once again taken the gloves off. Go on the attack is the mantra. Damn the facts, full speed ahead.
She and Bill tried this strategy once already this presidential primary season in South Carolina. It backfired horribly. Bill accused Obama of being a token candidate, another "Jesse Jackson." Bill claimed that he was really the first black president. He derided Obama's visionary rhetoric. In South Carolina, this strategy was an utter failure and produced a massive backlash that got Clinton trounced. However, the demographics in South Carolina were different. A heavily black electorate, said with their votes, "Oh no. We will stand for no such demeaning and degrading politics. We have been there and done that, thank you, no."
Sadly the lesson in Ohio and Texas this week was that the rest of the country is much more ready and open to the politics of attack. Leading into those primaries Clinton was running negative ads portraying Obama as weak on national security, asking who will answer the "hotline" phone in the middle of the night if it rings. Typical of these kinds of campaign ads, there is little to no connection to reality. This ad conjures Soviet Era Cold War themes and fears, but the Soviet Union is no more and the Cold War is over.
Hillary Clinton had a crucial national security test and cravenly caved to the will of George Bush the II. She voted for Iraq and has spent years rationalizing why she doesn't have to apologize for said vote. (Incidentally why did she vote for Iraq? Because, like her husband, she is a poll driven creature with few core values other than whatever it takes and just win. The polls said the American people favored Iraq so Hillary Clinton favored Iraq, as that position has shifted, so has her position.)
Now Obama's people are raising the spectre of Whitewater as his campaign, lesson learned, starts to go negative for the first time. His attacks are quickly building, accusing Hillary Clinton of a McCain-esque foreign policy. One of Obama's aids, responding to a Team Clinton comparison of Obama and Ken Starr, referred to Clinton as a monster to a Scottish newspaper. This aide is now resigning.
Nobody will benefit more from the two leading Democratic candidates attacking each other than McCain. He can remain above the fray, portray himself as a statesmen, all the while his opponents perceived weaknesses are being debated by the American electorate.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Perception is reality. Functionally in modern American society it is so.
Ironically the Clarion has been participating in the debate about the veracity and the outcomes of this solipsism for many years.
The thought has become ingrained in American consciousness and inherent in American culture (advertising is omnipresent.) The distinction between perception and reality has blurred so much that the debate has faded from view (spin is accepted.)
We recently crossed paths with this theory once again, in Barack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. The following is direct quote.
"I--like every other politician at the federal level--am almost entirely dependent on the media to reach my constituents. It is the filter through which my votes are interpreted, my statements analyzed, my beliefs examined. For the broad public at least, I am who the media says I am. I am what they say I say. I become who they say I've become."
Now compare this quote to that of another, different, astute, American cultural critic.
"I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn't than why would I say I am? In the papers, the news, everyday I am, I don't know its just the way I am."
This Eminem (Marshall Mathers) lyric is from his hit tune, "The Way I Am."
The Clarion collects and cojoins these quotes not to raise the false flag of plagiarism, ala the Clinton campaign. Rather, we wanted to emphasize that widely divergent, intelligent commentators note the difficult of communicating their authentic selves and authentic message on a scale as large as American society.
Caution and skepticism about what you read, see and hear from any portion of the media should be your modus operandi.
Ladies and Gentlemen, new readers and old, please join in welcoming to the Clarion Content our first GUEST COLUMNIST!!!
A distinguished native North Carolinian and ardent TV watcher brings you the latest news on high-def technology...
One day when I am old and grey, I will tell my grandkids about the wonderful and exciting transition from standard definition to high definition (HD) television back near the turn of the century. My stories will probably sound similar to my parents telling me about the transition from black and white to color TV. But the biggest leap in technological advancement for video may be saved for our kids (or grandkids) as they live through the transition from HD to UHD.
Japan’s Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) first began working on the current high definition format in 1964. After approximately 40 years, HD has finally taken a strong foothold toward its inevitable rise as the new standard for TV broadcasting. On its heels is the next generation broadcasting video format being developed by NHK that would take movies and TV to an entirely different level.
Back in 2003, NHK introduced an experimental digital video format call Ultra High Definition (UHD) with a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels, compared to the 1920 x 1080 pixels of current full high definition (HD) format. Think back about the first time you saw high definition programming and how simply incredible the picture seemed compared to standard definition. The resolution of HD content is approximately 5 times the resolution of standard content. Compare that to UHD which is 21 times the resolution standard content! UHD also calls for 22.2 surround sound: (10 speakers at ear level, 9 above, 3 below and 2 for low frequency) compared to HD’s 5.1 surround sound.
The technology is billed as “total sensory immersion” to the level of physically being at the location of the broadcast, a literal electronic window to the world. Along with the development of hardware required for the technology, NHK is concurrently studying the physical and psychological effects of UHD. At one demonstration, a short film, shot in UD by placing the camera on the front of a car driving along a country road, was projected on to a large screen at a technology trade show. Viewing the film caused several audience members to experience nausea from the ultra realistic visual effect of speed without the usual physical sensation of movement. For some people, the brain could not tell the difference between the images on the film and the reality of being in the car.
Also known as “Super Hi-Vision”, the video format is still many years away from crossing the line from experimental to marketable. Currently the format requires a 450-inch diagonal screen to fit the 32 million pixels. NHK is working on how to apply the format to smaller screens. Another problem is the massive amount of data needed to create the signal. When tested, 18 minutes of UHD footage required 3.5 terabytes of storage (or about 750 DVDs). Even more challenging due to the signal’s vast size, is the speed required while transmitting. During demonstrations, the data had to be transmitted over 16 channels at a total rate of 24 gigabits per second, which is thousands of times faster than a typical DSL connection. NHK has made advances on compressing the signal in the last couple of years, but certainly the signal’s enormous size remains one of the biggest challenges to advancing the technology from drawing board and into the real world.
This technology can produce images that are more palpable and vibrant than anything you can currently imagine. Is this level of clarity and realism always a good thing? One demonstration of the technology showed clips of sumo wrestlers which many in the audience agreed was much too clear for comfort! And as mentioned earlier, some people may have a difficult time both physically and psychologically contending with an image that is as life like as being there.
NHK expects the format to be available by 2015. How long it may take to be applied to film or TV is anybody’s guess.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Just in case you doubt the Clarion's carping about the evil NCAA and the villainous Myles Brand, do we have an article for you. We firmly believe the NCAA is a vicious, self-serving institution created strictly for the purpose of money grubbing.
Read about Michael Beasley's high school education, if you could call it that, here. Remember after reading this that long time scumbag cheater, Bob Huggins recruited him to Kansas State, which admitted him to college!! And you wonder why it is hard to compete at a place like Texas Tech which refuses to cheat or even admit this kind of person to their fine university.
Beasley should be forced to join the Marines. Instead he'll end up in the NBA someday scoring 20 points a game for a 50 loss team, and bitching about how hard and unfair his life is.
Generation Gab organized by one of Durham’s own, Mary Coffman, was a tremendous success. Generation Gab was an event that brought together four octogenrian women, all near lifetime citizens of Durham and a smattering of Durham’s civically oriented youth for a tea party and oral history forum. It was the first in what Ms. Coffman hopes will be a series of Durham oral history forums.
Ms. Coffman’s mother, Laurie Coffman is the pastor of Cavalry Methodist Church where the event was held. The four women, Linda Woodall, Betty Philips, Ruth Upchurch, and Louise Parrish are all long time members of Calvalry Methodist. The Coffmans aware of the personal treasure they had in their midst and anxious share, persuaded these ladies that they had organized an opportunity where their stories could be heard and valued. Mary convinced a coeterie of her own peers to spend their Saturday afternoon nibbling on delicious cucumber sandwiches, sipping tea and listening.
Mary’s vision had come together. It had originally flowed from conversations with fellow Durhamanians following viewing the recent Durham documentary, "Durham: A Self Portrait.” Twenty-something Mary has personally known these ladies since she was a young girl. Durham has changed substantially in just that time. Mary recognized that these ladies were irreplicable recepticles of Durham’s history. To offer but one example of the change in Durham between Mary’s youth and the Clarion’s establishment, the sweet smell of tobacco. The sweet smell of tobacco you say? Apparently Durham positively exuded the sweet scent for years on end. The Clarion has never smelled it, never even heard of it. But after Generation Gab when we asked around, it was firmly ensconced in the memory of all the Durhamanians who had been here when.
This was hardly the only nugget. Did you Durham once had a streetcar system? Or that the North Carolina School of Science and Math was originally Watts hospital? Or that sixty plus years ago, it was standard to finish school with 11th not 12th grade? The list goes on and on.
These amazing women, who remember filled their lives with achievement long before the groundswell of feminism in the late 1960's and 70's, literally bubbled over with stories, anecdotes and facts of Durham's rich history. It was terrific. All involved glowed with joy and wished that we had more time to explore. Fortunately, Mary Coffman is already in the process of organizing a follow-up event, much to the delight of all the participants.
Keep your eyes on the Clarion we will have the date and location as soon as it is announced.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Clarion can take no credit for this, other than for showing up at the right kind of parties, where people are batting around brilliant ideas like this one. This particular bright idea is rooted in preserving other bright ideas. How many times have we all been in the car driving along when inspiration struck? The Clarion has tried to scribble notes on everything from the back of a checkbook to the owners manual of the car. They usually come out looking like they were written by a dyslexic on Psilocybin. Not to mention the risk to other drivers caused by careening all over the road while trying to scrawl a coherent thought.
Now here comes a genius answer.
Invent a voice activated or push button recorder. Either way, drop in a recording unit. The technology has to be out there already. The steering wheel and the dashboard of a modern car already encompass a range of computers that can do just about anything you want to do. If you can control the cars speed, the radio-CD player and use your Bluetooth through the buttons on the steering wheel and the dash, how hard can it be for the car companies to drop a flash drive or a tiny cassette tape into the steering wheel.
Roll tape. Let the brilliance begin.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
The Clarion has begun to wonder why is it so commonplace to see Hillary Clinton referred to by her first name in the press and so rare to see Barack Obama and John McCain referred to by theirs. All too often it is "Hillary and Obama," or "Hillary and McCain," it is never "Barack and Clinton," or "John and Clinton."
It seem less than fair and balanced. It feels like a legacy of patriarchy. It is especially distasteful in the realm of politics where the last name adds gravitas and the first name resonates with the inappropriately diminutive.
Sure the apologists will hide under the rubric of, her husband was president, we have to distinguish between the two. And they will offer that recognition via a single name is evocative of true superstar, ala Pele or Madonna.
It is hard to swallow when all the presidents within memory have been referred to by their last name: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, even Bush I and Bush II, where the repetitive ambiguity might have been parallel, if not analogous to the Clinton situation.
It is the Clarion's firm belief that the American establishment is still all too reflexively, instinctively, if perhaps unconsciously, patriarchal.
Can a word be rejected on a purely aesthetic basis?
As regular readers know, the Clarion is a big fan of wordsmithery. We appreciate the new, well-crafted word. We're not exclusionary or any sort of linguistic purists. We were intellectually braised in the late, late 20th century stew of a post, post-modern era. We accept that language is an imperfect convention and a constant invention. If most all rules in this existence are to a large extent constructs and no rules are firmly affixed, well, linguistic rules are no different, they flux, too.
The two words in question today are recent additions to the Clarion's heard word lexicon, pimpins and shubbas.
Pimpins and Shubbas.
Both of these words fail to turn up at Merriam-Webster.com. The good folks at Merriam-Webster never got wind of these words. Truth be told, the Clarion hadn't either until hearing them uttered by our local, Durhamanian youth recently.
Pimpins is used to refer to one's male comrades, one's homies, one's pals, one's buddies. Used in a sentence, [talking to said buddies about leaving.] "Come on pimpins, it's time to bust out of place."
Shubba is a team of endearment for an extremely cute animal. Used in a sentence, "Aww, look at the little the shubba."
Shubba, for less than good reasons, is somehow significantly more aesthically pleasing to the Clarion's ear. It is in part connotation, shubba's are inevitably darlings, pimpins decidely less so. Beyond that, pimpins is a strange creation, ideally, grammatically, pimps has more basis. However, the fatal flaw of pimps is a decidely negative connotation, even syms don't want to be referred to as pimps. It is widely considered derraogatory. To be pimpin, or better yet big pimpin, on the other hand, is a good thing. To be pimpin is to be stylin' or looking good or rolling in it, winning at the game of life. So when one refers to one's homies as "pimpins" the connotation is then positive, they got it going on, they may even be playas, but they are not pimps. (read: misogynists)
The sound of it still doesn't roll off of the Clarion's tongue, but language is both personal and a consensus. If it works for others who are we to say, "No!" We have no such standing, nobody does except in France.
At first we thought neither of these definitions of these words made the Urban Dictionary cut. For shubba this is correct, the one definition listed is an usage the Clarion is not familiar with, shubba as an exclamation. But a closer look at the UD for pimpins, reveals definition number five, from Big Dirty (Joppa Smoot), who defines pimpins as "another name to call someone." The example of it used in a sentence is, "'Sup, pimpin." This is spot on for the sense the Clarion has heard in Durham.
In sum, despite its less than pleasing sound, pimpins is in the lexicon, alongside shubbas. No language is onomatopoeia. New words cannot, in fact, be rejected on a purely aesthetic basis. One might elect to use them more or less on the basis of aesthetic preference, as in: the Clarion is going to refer to the dudes as "pimpins" on, but not before, the Tuesday after Never. Whereas, while we are unlikely to use shubbas when speaking with homo sapiens, we are quite sure to use it when speaking with other furry creatures.
A long time aide to President George Bush the II, and a critical member of former White House chief of staff Karl Rove's team was busted and resigned from the administration today. Timothy Goeglein, who has worked at the White House since 2001 was a special assistant to Bush and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison. He served as the administration's link to many influential conservatives and helped shepherd the Supreme Court nominations of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Goeglein resigned after admitting he plagiarized more than twenty columns he wrote for the Fort Wayne, Indiana, News-Sentinel. He was caught by another journalist and former co-worker, Nancy Nall.
Solid work, Tim. The administration acknowledged Goeglein's despicable behavior with its usual grace, according the White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, Bush said, [he] "has long appreciated Tim's service and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country