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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Google's going to watch the pipes 

The Clarion Content recently read that Google and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that Google helps fund are going to lead research into Internet speeds, latency, jitter, and blocking. Google is going to lead an initiative called Measurement Lab or M-Lab. It will fund three measurement servers (exclusive to M-Lab) to start. By the end of 2009, 36 servers will exist at twelve locations in the United States and Europe measuring data on the diverse networks that make up the pipes, valves, and faucets of the Internet.

According to Ars Technica, "current research projects simply have a massive shortcoming in data collection and analysis...researchers and policy makers are operating from a position of ignorance...To turn M-Lab into a truly open and useful resource, the group is seeking help from anyone who can offer it—interface designers, network researchers, tool developers, and companies willing to host more servers...M-Lab is open to participation from any other group that wants to host a site. To do so, all that's required is three dedicated rack-mount servers with dual quad-core processors each and a fast Internet connection."

The Clarion Content on the one hand, can see that an entity monitoring the internet's traffic laws, policies and outcomes makes sense. Even better that it is an entity that supports net neutrality that is monitoring the pipes. One the other hand, it always makes us nervous when corporations assume huge new (potentially regulatorily influential) roles that might sway government policy and with it the formation and enforcement of the law of the land.

Read more here.


White House chef update 

An update to our post two weeks ago about the Obama's White House chef and decorator. We originally reported that, "despite offers of assistance from luminaries like Chez Panisse founder and slow food guru Alice Waters and Gourmet magazine top editor Ruth Reich, the Obamas are keeping on the White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford." While that is still partially true, Ms. Comerford is keeping her job, the Obama's after initial reluctance have decided to bring in outside help in the form of Chicagoan Sam Kass. Kass cooked for the Obama family in Chicago and will work on Ms. Comerford's staff. She is the first woman to be the head chef at the White House.

According to a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, "Mr. Kass would not be the only cook preparing the family’s meals, but he knows what they like, and he happens to have a particular interest in healthy food and local food.” Kass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and founder of Inevitable Table, a private chef service. Inevitable Table is billed as the “link to clean, healthy food.”

Read more here in the New York Times.

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Video game already 

The Clarion Content ran across this one this morning. We found it newsworthy not so much for the content, but rather for what the turnaround time, the incredible speed of it, said about our world.

Orbs Games Limited has developed and released a game call "Hero on the Hudson" based on US Air Flight 1549's brilliant landing on the Hudson River. According to Newsday the game gives this scenario to open play, "'Both engines are out. The plane is too low and too slow to make it to the airport. You decide to make [an] emergency landing in the river.' - And allows a player to control the aircraft using a computer keyboard's left and right arrows."

The game was the featured game of the day Friday at Tastyplay.com. Newsday reports gamers gave it three and 1/2 out five possible stars rating.

Flight 1549 landed safely in the Hudson River only sixteen days ago.

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Serena Williams is a BAD ASS tennis player 

It is easy to forget in this era when tennis has slipped so far down the ladder of sports' hierarchy. Serena Williams is a bad ass tennis player. She is tougher, stronger and simply better than almost all comers. Tennis has fallen from the point where Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe were global icons to slightly more relevant than lacrosse and American soccer. However, this dimming of the sport's glow has not diminished Williams' accomplishments or presence. Serena Williams has won more money at her sport than any other woman ever.

Last night in the Land Down Under, she won her 10th Grand Slam title. She did so in the dominating fashion that is the hallmark of all of the Grand Slam Finals she plays, save for those against her sister. Williams easily dismissed the Russian, Dinara Safina, who would have been number one in the world if she could have beaten Williams. Instead Serena crushed her 6-0 and 6-3, winning the first set in a mere twenty-two minutes and seized the number one ranking for herself. This followed the pattern Williams has laid down, she has won the Australian Open every other year since 2003. Two years she crushed another talented Russian, Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2.

Read more here.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting used to the weather 

Sasha and Malia play UNO during the campaign

President Barack Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia were shocked when school was canceled in the Washington D.C. area yesterday. The President was speaking to reporters and business leaders yesterday when he interjected, "Can I make a comment that is unrelated to the economy, very quickly? My children's school was canceled today because of what, some ice?" He went on, "As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled. In fact, my 7-year-old [Sasha] pointed out that you'd go outside for recess in weather like this. . . . You wouldn't even stay indoors."

In article about the President remarks the Los Angeles Times notes that, "A spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools said snow, ice or cold has not shut down the system since Jan. 4-5, 1999, when a storm dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on the city. The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, which the Obama girls attended, has closed only once in the last 30 years because of winter weather, said David Derbes, a longtime faculty member."

Welcome to the South, Mr. President, Sasha, Malia.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good news in Compton 

The CPT hasn't gotten much good news or much good publicity in years. But, the Clarion Content has some. Compton's murder rate has plunged to its lowest level in twenty five years. An era so long ago that it predates N.W.A.'s seminal, "Straight out of Compton." Compton still has its gangs, according to the LA Times as many as 65 gangs jammed into ten square miles shared amongst 100,000 people. But despite that, Compton has seen homicides drop by more than 50% since 2005. The LA Times senses a turn in the tide, "Indeed, there is a palpable sense that the streets are safer. In a neighborhood called Sunny Cove, residents take a group walk on Mondays now, unthinkable a few years back. Owens' church (Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church) offers free movies in local parks; the program started slowly, but 900 people came out for the most recent screening, at Lueders Park off Rosecrans Avenue."

The LA Times says the key has been community style policing. In the 1980's the police actions resembled that of an occupying military force. Now the number of, "station volunteers (has risen) from 10 to 55, and reserve deputies from just one previously to eight. Neighborhood Watch and business watch programs are popping up all over town."

It was the will of the people to take their streets back, non-violently that made the difference. The comments attached to the LA Times article are quite inspiring. It is a heartwarming story made possible by people who cared (including cops and the local sheriff's department.)

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Yankees news 

A-Fraud just after striking out with men on base, again...

The New York metro area is aflame with the news that Joe Torre has co-written a book with Tom Verducci. The book isn't even out yet, but the tabloids are running with the pre-release blurbs. The Clarion Content will have to withhold comment into we have actually read the book. However, to comment on the commentary; what people are surprised that A-Rod was known as A-Fraud in the Yankee clubhouse?!? Have you seen the guy play in the post-season? It is not exactly a surprise to the Clarion Content. Seriously, Joe dropped him to 8th in the batting order in the A.L. playoffs against the Tigers because he sucks. He is the king of the "we are already winning or losing 11-0, three run homer." But the bigger the moment, the faster he wilts. (We'll see this season if Madonna and a little Kabbalah meditation have been able to cure him.)

The other point that folks are blowing up out of the previews of the Torre-Verducci book is that General Manager Brian Cashman didn't go to bat for Torre's contract extension the 2007 off-season. Again, this is news? Everyone in the know in New York knew this at the time. Cashman was lukewarm on Torre at that point, and Torre knew he needed a two-year deal for job security. Apparently, the book reveals that not only didn't Cashman want to give Torre a two-year deal, but he didn't even present that to management as the key sticking point of Torre's contract negotiations.

The New York media's histrionic reaction to the forthcoming book was entirely predictable. They mirror their audience, a New York Daily News poll shows that over 80% of readers already have an opinion about the contents of the as yet unreleased book. How's that?

In other Yankee news, old reliable stalwart Andy Pettitte was resigned to a $5 million incentive laden deal. Barring injuries the Yankees will head into the season with a starting rotation of Chien-Ming Wang, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain. Looks good on paper, but can the curse of the A-Fraud be overcome? Even with half a billion dollars in free agent signings? The Clarion Content doubts it.

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Who's a cop? 

In Chicago this weekend past a fourteen year-old kid walked into the Grand Crossing District police station wearing a police-issued shirt, vest, sweater, pants and skull cap. The savvy kid, who reportedly wants to be a cop when he is old enough, said he was an officer from another district, but was detailed for the day to Grand Crossing. The local cops bought it. He signed out a police radio and ticket book, and was sent on patrol with an actual Grand Crossing officer for five hours. According to the Chicago Tribune, "after his tour was over, a ranking officer became suspicious of the boy. Police said the officer discovered the teen was not a real police officer when he couldn't produce any credentials."

The boy was been charged as a juvenile for impersonating an officer. He had apparently been a "police explorer," part of a community program run through the Police Department's Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) that allows youths to interact with Chicago police officers.

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Another delusional Marbury 

Zach Marbury as a member of the Atlanta Krunk.
Too bad they couldn't afford jerseys

Yo, Steph's got a little brother? Who knew. And while Zach Marbury admits his older brother's gifts of a Ferrari and a home at a young age sapped some of his desire and willingness to make an effort, he says next year it is the NBA for him.

Zach Marbury was invited to the Portland Trail Blazers' training camp as a free agent in 2001. He was cut. He played for the Knicks summer league squad in 2004, but didn't make the team. Since then, he has bounced around. Last year, he played for the Atlanta Krunk in the Continental Basketball Association. The team went 9 up and 41 down and has since moved to Augusta to become the Groove. This year he is heading to Venezuela to play in the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto with Los Guaros De Lara. Fortunately, in typical Marbury fashion he hasn't let reality set in and drain his confidence. Zach, who left college early back in 2001 and has never played in a regular season NBA is quoted in the New York Times, "I want to be mentioned as one of the top seven point guards in the N.B.A. for the next seven years. I know that I’ve got the skills to do it. I just feel like if I get the chance to play with those types of players every night, I can be as good or maybe better."

Forgive us if we snicker.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things that need to be invented, part VI 

Biodegradable trash bags need to be invented.

Former President Clinton was in Raleigh yesterday talking about his vision of the future of the world. He said that interdependence was the key determinant facing Americans today. What each of us do affects the other. We are all in it together for good and bad.

He said that it was no longer good enough as an American to say, "I have a job. I work hard. I pay my taxes. I vote. Ergo, I am a good citizen." Clinton said that Americans today have more obligations, more demands, a higher level of responsibility asked of them. We must become again a nation of doers and inventors. The Clarion Content could hardly agree more.

The President also as an aside discussed the opening scene of the new movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," apparently a chase scene across a Mumbai landfill. Clinton said landfills should be a thing of the past. No longer should we simply discard the waste of entire urban and suburban areas into massive indistinguishable piles of rot. The metals should be be removed and recycled. The compostable material should be turned into methane (fuel.) The chemicals dangerous to groundwater should be stored and sealed properly. The Clarion Content heartily endorses this kind of disposal and the end of all landfills.

But in the interim one thing that could make the landfills less permanent would be the invention of biodegradable plastic bags. Many, if not most, Americans put their trash into plastic bags before throwing it out. These plastic bags delay the biological breaking down of this garbage by as much as seventy years. The compartmentalizing of each homes garbage into many tiny, impermeable units makes the landfill mess ever so much worse.

Find old "Things that need to be invented" posts here. (This post will show up first, older posts will be below it.)

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blackmail doesn't pay 

The Clarion Content happened to see a report about a blackmail~extortion case in Australia. A marina worker who successfully extorted $45,000 from former Aussie cricketing great, Craig McDermott, threatening to put sex tapes of him and his wife on the internet, was sentenced to at least 18 months behind bars. For eight months the criminal promised the millionaire property developer and former cricket star that it was the final payment and that he would turn over the, "tapes of you and your missus." The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the criminal obtained, "the two video tapes from a friend, who worked at the Gold Coast marina where Mr. McDermott kept his boat." (A marina worker who was probably smart enough to know blackmail didn't pay, but not smart enough not to give the tapes to his criminally moronic friend.) When McDermott finally got the cops involved, they busted the con man trying to pick up a further $10 large in hush money.

Bonus pseudo-blackmail link from Greenwood, Indiana.


Government Basketball 

The Washington Post reports that in his first meet and greet with his team as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar challenged President Obama. Salazar said that he and the Department of the Interior would like to take on President Obama and his White House team in a basketball game. As the Post noted, good luck. Not only does the White House team have Obama, but also former Duke basketball back-up Reggie Love is on the president's staff. The challenge arose indirectly in response to a National Park Service employee Wendy O’Sullivan telling Secretary Salazar, who is the former Colorado attorney general, that her brother, a Denver-area attorney, had once played in a basketball league that included Salazar and members of the office of attorney general.

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Bush II blowback 

The George Bush II reign did significant damage to Republican popularity in America. The most obvious indication of this was the national election of 2008. However, the Clarion Content recently heard another one. This one was likely especially heartening for liberal politicians. The 43rd annual "American Freshman" survey, a national survey by UCLA researchers, found the share of students who described themselves as liberal was 31%, which was the highest percentage since 1973.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that the college freshmen surveyed, "showed increased support for what are often viewed as liberal causes: 66.2% are in favor of same-sex marriages; 41.3% favor legalization of marijuana; only 28% want more military spending, a large drop since the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks." The Clarion Content would like to note that all of those causes could be viewed as libertarian, too.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

If we told you who... 

If we told you who got shot in the leg early this week, you'd hardly believe it. The wide receiver who got called up off of the practice squad to replace Plaxico Burress on the New York football Giants, Taye Biddle, was shot in the leg and hand while visiting his family Decatur, Alabama. According the Associated Press, police said there was no evidence Biddle caused or provoked the shooting. Plaxico, of course, couldn't exactly say the same. While this is no laughing matter, the good news is Biddle was treated and released from the hospital. The police haven't arrested anyone yet. We may not have heard the end of this story.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Where's it at? 

An unexpected find this week at the BBC News, an article titled, "Gaza ruins beg questions of Hamas." The BBC News is not exactly considered pro-Israel in some quarters. In our collective minds eye, it is rather noteworthy to see them asking questions about Hamas's standing and popularity in Gaza.

As for the action that just ended, inevitably the Clarion Content is dismayed by a policy of "disproportionate retaliation as a deterrent". We find no solace in Israel demonstrating to Hamas that it can kill 100 of theirs for every one of ours you kill. The Clarion Content sees no end game in that thinking, for the enemy is probably provoked to want to get back at you (likely in the most deadly and hurtful way that he/she can.) Hamas however, steadfastly refuses, as Barack Obama put it to "unclench its fist." Israel is right that there can be no negotiating with a party who refuses to recognize your right to exist.

Ultimately the success of this battle for Gaza will not be judged on whether or not certain Palestinians keep shooting rockets into Israel. Unfortunately, they likely will. (Hopefully, the volume will be significantly decreased.) Israel's success in this campaign will be judged on whether Hamas becomes more or less popular in the Gaza strip, a point the BBC article seems to recognize. Did Israel convince enough ordinary Gazans that is a bad idea (from a utilitarian perspective) to support Hamas? Will that rally support for Fatah? Or did it harden more hearts, earn Hamas more recruits and make the people even less willing to negotiate? Remember farcically enough, (truth is stranger than fiction) Hamas was democratically elected in a western monitored election, then shoehorned into a coalition government with Fatah which eventually left Mahmoud Abbas running the West Bank and Hamas running Gaza.

The beat goes on.

The Clarion Content fears it is too much to ask of Obama that he start off his foreign policy with Israel-Palestine negotiations.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Two quickies 

We have two quick links for you this evening. One is a tearjerker of a true story about a good dog. We know some of our loyal readers think we have too much of a proclivity for Bill Simmons, but we urge you not to miss this one.

The second is an article by renowned author and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker. He shakes down exactly what happened grammatically the other day when Chief Justice John Roberts messed up the inaugural oath for President Barack Obama. (The first time.)

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Knicks rumors hot and heavy 

There are all sorts of rumors swirling about the New York Knicks. Several of them were in the air last night when the Knicks met the Phoenix Suns. Newsday reports that Shaq is very excited about his relationship with Knicks coach, Mike D'Antoni. Like LeBron, Bosh and D-Wade, Shaq will be a free agent in 2010. Perhaps the Knicks could pair a young LeBron with an old Shaq? Speaking of LeBron, the New York Daily News reports that it is no done deal for the Knicks and the Global Icon in 2010. LeBron was quoted grousing in GQ about how D'Antoni's teams don't play any defense.

Finally of course, it is all over the press that the Athens based team, Olympiakos Piraeus, the very team that signed Josh Childress from Atlanta, could be in the market for Stephon Marbury. The Knicks would be more than grateful to have somebody take Starbury off of their hands. He has refused to give them a break on the $20 million he is owed. He is acting as his own agent. The Knicks haven't budged either because they surely do not want to see him go to an Eastern Conference contender and succeed. If Marbury is released after March 1, he would not be eligible for the playoffs. Olympiakos is interested in part because Childress is sidelined with a hernia.

The Knicks, by the by, beat the Suns and have now won four out of six. They remain only two games out of the eighth playoff spot in the East.

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Bucking the trend 

Despite major setbacks across the board for the economics of sports; which includes everything from declining NASCAR attendance, to stagnating luxury box sales at Yankee stadium, to General Motors canceling Tiger Wood's bag sponsorship contract, to the LPGA losing sponsors, and on and on. The Chicago Cubs are bucking the trend. They are for sale. And their franchise and Wrigley Field are a hot commodity. According to Forbes it is likely they will be a good deal for the perspective buyers as purchasing solid, possibly undervalued, assets during a depressed market is frequently a good move. The Cubs, who were bought by the Tribune Company in 1981 for $21 million are expected to fetch close to $1 billion on the auction block.

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Inauguration re-do 

The White House Map Room

In what should comes as no surprise to folks who watched the inauguration Tuesday, the White House in an "abundance of caution" had Chief Justice Roberts re-administer the presidential oath of office to President Barack Obama yesterday behind closed doors in the White House Map Room. Chief Justice Roberts had a tongue-tied moment in front of the crowds at the Capitol Tuesday. Roberts stumbled and messed up the wording of oath the second time he spoke. Obama tried to indicate that to Roberts with a little head nod, like hey, repeat that, properly. Roberts didn't follow, then seemed to and leaped back in, the results were that the word faithfully was misplaced. So yesterday, behind closed doors at the White House, Roberts and Obama did it again, with all the words, no mumbles and no crosstalk.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pirates, ahoy 

Bottles of rum

Regular readers of the Clarion Content know that we have been following what is happening in piracy off of the coast of Somalia. Old friends of the editorial staff know we have been following the issue since the predominate area for pirates was the Strait of Malacca.

If you are interested in piracy too, we wanted to sling you a fun batch of fresh links. We try to scatter links throughout posts, so old piracy posts will have further links.

This batch is a five part special series we ran into on the BBC's website.

This first one was written by an embedded correspondent who is on a Turkish NATO warship on patrol for food aid ships making the run from Mombasa, Kenya to Mogadishu. It includes a conversation with a captain of a freighter previously taken by pirates.

The second is about how modern day pirates collect their ransoms. It is tricky business. They aren't taking down Spanish galleons filled with the gold of the New World. They have Saudi oil tankers with two million barrels of oil. There is no practical way for them to sell or dispose of such booty. The method then, is that they grab and hold the ship for ransom. Again, fascinating anecdotes!

The third article is written about the change in life in the pirate town of Eyl on the eastern coast of what used to be Somalia, and now is nominally considered by some the country of Puntland. There is a lot of got rich quick money in the town and whole networks are springing up around the pirates.

This one breaks down a bit about how the pirates do it. According to the BBC there are, "Ex-fishermen, who are considered the brains of the operation because they know the sea...Ex-militiamen, who are considered the muscle - having fought for various Somali clan warlords...and the technical experts, who are the computer geeks and know how to operate the hi-tech equipment needed to operate as a pirate - satellite phones, GPS and military hardware."

There is also one about the technological responses Empire is developing to respond to piracy, including deadly sounds beams and ringing ships with electrical fences. (You don't just, "stand-to to repel boarders" anymore.)

Finally, there is a last piece that is about some of the conundrums of international law that make it more difficult to address piracy. For instance, did you realize that according to the BBC, a warship cannot simply open fire (on a suspected pirate vessel,) an inspection has to be carried out "with all possible consideration," first.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum indeed!


Up for auction 

Guess what's up for on-line auction in Nevada? Natalie Dylan, apparently a pseudonym, a 22-year-old California college graduate is selling her virginity. That is correct, her virginity. In Nevada, where prostitution is legal, the FBI isn't involved and the U.S. attorney doesn't object. States rights, baby! Nevada says the young lady can sell it on-line if she wants to, and the bidding is hot and heavy. If Fox News reports are to be believed, bids through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the brothel that is arranging and hosting the setting for the deal, have reached $3.7 million.


Hung by their toes 

We have noticed a couple of stories here at the Clarion Content in recent weeks where we are genuinely shocked at the inhumanity of the crime. We ardent opponents of the death penalty because of its permanence and irretractability. We do not support the death penalty for these people, nor do we support torture, but these are some awful crimes. If they were committed as the stories read, folks need to face heavy consequences.

The first story is about two teenage girls who allegedly abused the elderly patient-residents, many suffering with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, at the nursing home where they worked. These awful girls allegedly spat in residents' mouths, poked and grabbed their breasts and genitals and at times mocked them until they screamed. 19-year-old Brianna Broitzman and 18-year-old Ashton Larson have been charged as adults. The complaint filed against them in Minnesota criminal court includes charges of assault, abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver, abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, disorderly conduct and failing to report suspected maltreatment. Four other teens are charged with failing to report the incident. Allegedly the group gathered at school to talk and laugh about the incidents. MSNBC thinks they are only going to get probation. Fuck that, insufficient!

The second story is nearly as awful. A man in Greenfield, California allegedly sold his 14-year-old daughter to a neighbor in exchange for $16,000, 100 cases of beer and several cases of meat. This scumbag was also an idiot, because he was caught when he went to the police to complain that his neighbor failed to pay up. Local police say that the man is a member of an indigenous Mexican subculture, the Trique that condones arranged marriage for women as young as twelve. In his defense, he told police that the money was intended as a dowry and the beer and meat were for the wedding. The Clarion Content's stance, 'Sorry pal, not in this country!' Not when are servicemen and women are fighting and dying in places like Afghanistan and Iraq for amongst other things, the demand of equal rights for women. As the man is also an undocumented immigrant, he is likely to face deportation, what will happen to the fourteen year old girl caught up in all of this is still unclear.


Bills hold the line on ticket prices 

inside Ralph Wilson Stadium

The Buffalo Bills who already have the lowest average season ticket prices in the NFL announced yesterday that will be holding the line on ticket prices this off-season. Way to go Bills! The recession and nine straight years of missing the playoffs seem to make it obvious that they should not raise prices, but not everybody operates that way. Regular readers know we have been heaping scorn on the Yankees and their lunatic ticket prices as Wall Street buckles. The Yankees have ignored the economy and the fact that they haven't won the Series in nine years, waiving the dismissive Marie Antoinette hand, "Let them eat cake."

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Latest global warming victim 

California Brown Pelican

The latest of the victims of on-going climate change and global warming were the endangered California Brown Pelican. The birds lured by warming temperatures and mild winters have been moving en mass north to Oregon and even Washington, well beyond their traditional California habitat which ranges from Northern California to Baja California, Mexico.

According to the New York Times as many as 5,000 pelicans may have been roosting on East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary when a brutal storm hit. The storm packed 60 mile-an-hour winds and temperatures below freezing. The Times quotes Deborah Jaques, an Oregon wildlife biologist specializing in sea birds, "These birds were probably not subject to anything like this in a hundred years." UC Davis avian ecologist Dan Anderson told the Times that, "...once exposed to snow and extreme cold, the birds have a tough time drying off if soaked." This jives with the observations of David Jessup, a senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Game. Jessup said his department examined many of the over 400 dead birds found in recent weeks and encountered lots of cases where legs, toes and pouches had frozen off.

In the Clarion Content's view this tragedy epitomizes what is likely to come from climate change and global warming. It is quite impossible for humans to wipe the Earth out. However, significant changes in climate will have all sorts of unintended consequences and blowback. It is quite possible for mankind to wipe out many species, including our own.

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Whoops, busted! 

We don't want our loyal readers to think we pick on the Los Angeles Police Department when it comes to cases of corruption and malfeasance. We try to cast as wide a net as possible and appreciate your submissions and suggestions when we get them.

On that note, it came to our attention that the director of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, one Robert Eric McFadden, was arrested this week for compelling prostitution involving a minor, promoting prostitution and pandering. Apparently Mr. McFadden had established a website that he used to trade information about street hookers and online escorts. According to the Columbus Dispatch, "he would recommend some prostitutes, issue warnings about others and give advice on ways to avoid law enforcement." The site included photographs McFadden took of a seventeen year old prostitute in his wife's car.

McFadden who was paid $36 an hour for his work at the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was transferred to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, but has subsequently been let go.

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Get lost then! 

Former University of North Carolina Tar Heel and current Carolina Panther defensive end Julius Pepper declared through his agent last night that he wishes to play with a different team. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

The Clarion Content's reaction, "Don't let the door hit you in the butt!" Anyone who has watched the Panthers games closely, as our editorial staff has for years, knows Peppers takes a lot of plays off. He is a go hard for a play, stand around for a couple, go hard for another play, then stand around for a couple plays again kind of guy. His efforts are at best inconsistent and at worst lackadaisical. Peppers has scads of natural talent, but he is lazy. He likes to rush the quarterback, but can hardly be bothered to attempt to stop the run. Panthers fans know, too, that down the stretch the defense's inability to put pressure on the opposing quarterback was one of Panthers biggest failures.

Peppers was part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. He is a front-runner, a guy who is at his weakest when the going is toughest. Sure his statistics look good, and he makes the spectacular highlight reel play, but down in and down out his inconsistent efforts are quite evident.

He wants to leave. We say, "Fine. Get lost!"

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rules change? 

This interesting comment was submitted by one of our California readers. Surely food for thought, though at the Clarion Content we have our concerns about false positives and the privacy of testing.


Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job...I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their A--, doing drugs, while I work. . . . Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

Something has to change in this country -- and soon!!!!!!!

I guess we could title that program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

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Movin' on up 

The Obamas are getting ready to move into the White House. The First Family, complete with mother-in-law, are attempting to keep it real. Here are two fascinating articles in that vein. The first from the Baltimore Sun details what the Obama's and their decorator Michael Smith are doing to the top two floors of the White House, the private residence, to make it feel more like home. The Obama daughters Sasha (7) and Malia (10) will be sleeping in bedrooms that have been used by many other presidential children. They will be living on the top two floors of a house that features a bottom two floors that are part museum. The Obamas do have the vast warehouse of old presidential furniture to choose from, as well as the national galleries and museums to resource for Art. According to the Sun, Michelle Obama and Mr. Smith said in a joint statement this week that, "...they want to promote new perspectives from 20th-century American artists and designers while using affordable brands and products." The president-elect, for his part, is expected to install the first couple of basketball nets and rims at the White House.

The second article from the San Francisco Chronicle is about what the Obamas will eat in the White House. It is up to the Obamas who is the White House chef, and despite offers of assistance from luminaries like Chez Panisse founder and slow food guru Alice Waters and Gourmet magazine top editor Ruth Reich, the Obamas are keeping on the White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford. The Obamas reportedly like Comerford, who has worked in the White House since the Clinton administration, because she is a mother who cooks for her own family. The Chronicle's story includes wonderful anecdotes from the former White House chef who watched Chelsea Clinton evolve from a thirteen year old Kraft Mac-n-Cheese out of the box girl to the vegan woman who went off to Stanford.

The article also reveals that George Bush II requested no soup, no salads, no greens and no "wet fish" on the White House menu. Which explains a lot, eat a bad diet and you will have a poor foundation for living and decision-making.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A Miracle on the Hudson? 

The Hudson River is surrounded by densely populated areas

The Clarion Content, like many folks, felt the urge to call yesterday's wonderful job by the pilots of US Airways Flight 1549 La Guardia to Charlotte a miracle. After all they landed a jumbo jet with two dead engines in the middle of the Hudson River after clearing the George Washington Bridge by a mere few hundred feet and everyone on board survived from an infant to an eighty-nine year old granny. No one was hurt worse than a deep cut on the leg experienced by one of the flight attendants.


However, our staff has personally had the six P's of planning pounded into us permanently. What are the six P's, you ask? Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. As amazing as the job performed by the pilot, an Air Force Academy graduate, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III was, and it was amazing, aviation experts agree that it was a combination of skilled, decisive piloting and prior planning that prevented the incident from becoming a tragedy. Sullenberger is a planning expert who started an aviation consulting business called Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. He has worked with both the National Transportation Safety Board and the United States Air Force on accident investigations. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California's Berkeley's Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.

He had prepared for this moment, as had the aviation industry. Here is how the Christian Science Monitor succinctly put it, "Aviation safety experts are adamant that what happened Thursday afternoon was not simply a 'miracle' but a product of years of disciplined training, invaluable experience, cutting edge engineering and an aviation culture that rigorously and regularly reviews and updates safety related procedures and engineering."

The lesson drawn from this incident should not be simply a "miracle" occurred, but rather that preparation, diligence and hard work can make all the difference. Again the Christian Science Monitor quoting aviation consultant Richard Golaszewski, "He did a fantastic job and made all the right choices. He's a really instinctive, well-trained pilot. But there were a lot of things that happened long before that: Design rules that say how long a plane has to float, training of the flight attendants and pilots. Ditching is something they train for."

Rigorously prepare to do your best. Try to improve everyday. Keep educating yourself, there is always more to learn. There may be no warning before you have to draw on your skills, you may only have one shot. Prior planning and practice will pay huge dividends! Yesterday they saved 155 lives!

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Worrying signs of deflation are starting to appear in the American economy. The asset bubbles that inflated under Presidents Clinton and Bush have burst. The huge government surpluses of the Clinton era have been squandered on failed foreign adventures and massive tax breaks for the ultra-rich. Now a far darker spectre has appeared on the horizon, not just double digit unemployment, not inflation, not even stagflation, but deflation---a condition America hasn't faced since the Great Depression. We had best all hope that Japan's Lost Decade is not the path America faces.

The two most recent worrying signs of deflation to the Clarion Content's way of thinking were that: one United States import and export prices both fell for the fifth consecutive month in December and two retail sales fell for the sixth straight month in December, the longest consecutive stretch of monthly declines in at least four decades. Prices are dropping on United States' products both inside and outside the country. American consumers, the people who King George II told after September 11th to "Go out and spend," are tapped out. Trapped by credit card debt, the dropping value of their homes, tumbling 401Ks and stock market portfolios, they have no flexibility to keep spending. The worry is that their retrenchment will become a self-verifying vicious cycle.


Lions to use the Schwartz 

The bumbling Detroit Lions used the Schwartz yesterday to pluck Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz from his current job and plug him into their head coaching position. Schwartz has been highly successful at Tennessee. His defenses have been highly ranked in yards and points allowed, including allowing the second fewest points in the NFL this year. Schwartz is considered a cerebral strategist. He is an avid chess player with a degree in economics from Georgetown.

Schwartz said, "I don't shy away from a challenge." Good thing because the Lions have won exactly one playoff game since 1957.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jailhouse corruption 

Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California

This is an ugly story that the Clarion Content picked up out of the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. At the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California, in October of 2006, inmate John Derek Chamberlain was beaten to death by his fellow prisoners. Chamberlain was in jail on suspicion of possessing child pornography when he was attacked by a group of inmates. According to the LA Times, the inmates mistakenly believed that Chamberlain was charged with child molestation.

Sheriff's Special Officer Phillip Le, granted immunity from prosecution, told a grand jury that, prison deputies would work with inmate "shot-callers" who would help keep other inmates in line with beatings -- called "taxations" -- and would receive special privileges such as sack lunches and new clothes in exchange. He said it was common for officers to watch movies, use their personal laptops and read newspapers and books while on duty.

According to the LA Times he further testified that, "He did not keep an accurate log on the day Chamberlain was killed and that he had made a "command decision" to record over the first seven to 10 minutes of videotape he used to document the scene after guards discovered Chamberlain had been beaten." Le was alerted to the beating when an prisoner climbed on to a table and waved for attention outside the glass-walled guard station.

Ugly. Le and three other officers have left the sheriff's department in the wake of the investigation.


Bears are our friends 

Here at the Clarion Content our Gaian principles dictate that we respond to non-violent, non-threatening animals in the same manner. We are firm believers that the Golden Rule extends to all the creatures on this Earth. Of course, we recognize that even if you are vegan, you are going to eat some plants that had life (and possibly sentience.) No waste, no unnecessary cruelty, no eating the very old or the very young are our eating guidelines.

Here is a fascinating story in that vein from the LA Times of Mammoth, California's "bear whisperer," a leader who shares our ethic. He is a self-taught volunteer who recognized the inherent cruelty and unfairness in killing bears who interacted with humans. If people leave their trash outside unsecured in bear habitat, bears are going to come and investigate. Who's fault is that? And should bears be killed for their curiosity? Of course, it took California's State Fish and Game officials quite some time to accept Steve Searles methods. For a time, they even had their one of their officers surveilling the "bear whisperer' in an attempt to deny his techniques and accomplishments. Over the years, Searles has had great success educating the bears and the locals on how to live together peacefully.

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High Speed stimulus? 

There is a significant amount of debate about what kind of dollars for high speed internet infrastructure investment will come out of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus package. Some pundits are predicting as much as $30 billion, others are forecasting much less. There is also debate about when government investment comes, should it prioritize expanding availability and access to those who do not have broadband, or should the focus be on updgrading the speed of the existing networks, or should it be infusing more competition into the marketplace; not that they are mutually exclusive or zero-sum.

One of Obama's technology advisors warned the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee's State of the Net Conference, "Don't confuse a piece of the puzzle with the puzzle." A tempting promise and mere rhetoric for now, in so many words saying, "Well if you are disappointed with the internet infrastructure investment in the stimulus package, there will be more later." Perhaps this is a deliberate soft-sell spin, to temper expectations from getting too high. There is a lot of stimulus package horse trading still going on; it looks bloated from the Clarion Content's offices, and likely to under-prioritize important network investments like internet infrastructure and the national highways in favor of congressional inside baseball.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yankees ticket follow-up 

The Clarion Content warned weeks ago that the Yankees were having trouble selling the most expensive tickets and the luxury boxes in the new Yankee Stadium. This continues to be a major problem. The recession and the crushing of the lower Manhattan investment banker community have hit the Yankees hard. The Clarion Content smiles at the thought of the Yanks money people, especially Randy Levine, getting their comeuppance.

The Yankees however are not sitting on their bums taking it lying down. The Yankees have hired Prudential Douglas Elliman, a well-known Manhattan residential real estate brokerage to help sell the luxury boxes and über-expensive tickets. Über-expensive, you say? How's about seats (not boxes) that range from $350 to $2,500 per game. Oh well timed, Mr. Levine, nothing says recession friendly like 20 game ticket packages that cost $100 grand for two seats. Brilliant. We're sure the fans will be in a sympathetic, generous mood towards the $500 million trifecta of free agents, Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett while they are getting shafted on ticket prices. Well done. The Yankees refuse to release data indicating how ticket sales from this year compare to last year.

Read more here in the New York Times sports section.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Hall Class 

Bert Blyleven

The Clarion Content salutes the newest members of the baseball Hall of Fame, the incomparable Ricky Henderson and the slugging Jim Rice. Regular readers know we lobbied for the Rice selection. We were quite pleased he got in by a slim margin yesterday. Henderson is the all-time leader in the most important statistical category, runs scored, he was a no-brainer.

The Clarion Content's editorial staff has often been accused of being a "large" Hall supporter, that is to say we have to broad a willingness to accept guys into the Hall. We are convinced our position is relatively moderate. Talk about a big Hall of Fame, here from the New York Times is an article supporting the removal of the 5% rule. This rule states that a player must receive at least 5% of the vote in each year of eligibility or his name is removed from the ballot. The Clarion Content isn't so sympathetic to author Dan Rosenheck's case for Bobby Grich or Darrell Evans, or even one of our all-time favorite players Dwight Evans. It is after all the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of the Really Good.

Currently on our list of guys on the outside looking in who we would support their candidacies for the Hall of Fame: Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines. (We would listen to arguments for Sweet Lou Whitaker.)

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Myron Rolle update 

Florida State safety Myron Rolle, whose extraordinary life story we told you about in November has been awarded a Rhodes scholarship. Rolle who is projected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft in April is passing up playing professional football for now. He will attend Oxford in the Fall to study medical anthropology. The Clarion Content applauds Mr. Rolle and wishes him huge success. Read more here.

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A bad ass dunk 

Point guard Johnny Flynn of Syracuse positively posterizes Mike Rosario of Rutgers.

First a sweet crossover out past the three point line, then a strong one-handed throwdown. Yowzer.

For the poster freeze-frame at 54 seconds...

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A quick tour down memory lane 

If you didn't watch The Muppet Show...

by the way, it was priceless.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer 

Jim Rice is a bona fide Hall of Famer. His statistics in his era absolutely merit his selection. He was one of the most feared hitters of the 1970's. Over a ten year period, he was in the top ten Major Leaguers in home runs, runs batted in and batting average. He was also an above average leftfielder with a strong arm who played in Fenway Park's unique and difficult leftfield.

He should not be diminished by the juiced numbers in the decades that followed. Don't be fooled by his 1981 production, remember that was a strike year. In part his candidacy has been negatively effected by the racial prejudices of Boston in the 1970's which undervalued his achievements (and overvalued those of his fellow outfielder Fred Lynn.)

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Jim Rice should be in the Hall of Fame 

Jim Rice is a bona fide Hall of Famer. His statistics in his era absolutely merit his selection. He was one of the most feared hitters of the 1970's. Over a ten year period, he was in the top ten Major Leaguers in home runs, runs batted in and batting average. He was also an above average leftfielder with a strong arm who played in Fenway Park's unique and difficult leftfield.

He should not be diminished by the juiced numbers in the decades that followed. Don't be fooled by his 1981 production, remember that was a strike year. In part his candidacy has been negatively effected by the racial prejudices of Boston in the 1970's which undervalued his achievements (and overvalued those of his fellow outfielder Fred Lynn.)

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Legalize now! 

The United States of America has got to quit fighting the futile and misnamed War on Drugs. As Sting diagnosed more than twenty years ago, "There is no such thing as a winnable war. It's the lie we don't believe anymore." This is doubly true for a war wherein one's own side is the enemy. American consumers are who drive the demand for narcotics. The war on drugs has also pointed on the ludicrous failure of America's drug education programs. Lying to youth about the potential dangers of drugs, like all propaganda, devalues the points where the state or the man is actually telling the truth. America has to shoot straight with its youth about the real dangers of drugs, and there are significant dangers. It also has to move away from blatantly failed paternalism, learn from its mistakes and legalize.

Will President-elect Obama have the guts or the time to push this radical agenda? Freeing up the massive amount of resources America wastes fighting the drug war would allow these resources to be diverted to far more important places and dangers, like port security (and all homeland security) or screening unsafe toys and food that come into the country from China and elsewhere.

Read an article here from the Los Angeles Times about the havoc being wreaked by the war on drugs. Note to non-economists: fighting the war on drugs raises the price of drugs, HUGELY.

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Let Freedom reign 

An 140 year old lobster was freed from a restaurant holding tank where it spent ten days this month. City Crab and Seafood of New York City made the decision this week to release rather than cook the lobster. Hooray for the dignity of our fellow creatures! The lobster, who was captured off the coast of Newfoundland, is to be released near Kennebunkport, Maine, in an area where lobster trapping is forbidden. Read more here from the Associated Press.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

NFL playoffs week II 

The Player of the Week, from the Playoffs Week 1
Mike Scifres

The Clarion Content is loathe to make any predictions for this week's games. We wouldn't want to jinx any of the teams we are rooting for or against. So then, here are a couple of quick comments on each of this weeks games, in the order they will be played.

Saturday, January 10th

Baltimore Ravens at the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has a great defense. Ed Reed is making a case for the Hall of Fame. Ray Lewis, if character concerns are set aside, will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The Ravens defense is darn good, but so is the Titans. The Clarion Content has long admired character guy and Syracuse alum, Keith Bulluck. Both teams have strong running games and weak quarterbacks. Baltimore's quarterback is a rookie who cost them their regular season game against Tennessee. The Titans quarterback is Kerry Collins who has been around long enough to get shellacked in the playoffs more than once. This game is going to be close. It could be decided by a field goal either way. Tennessee has a slight edge in the kicking department behind, Rob Bironas. They also have the benefit of a week to rest and lick their wounds, plus home field advantage.

Arizona Cardinals at the Carolina Panthers

The Cardinals celebrated last week's Wild Card victory by dumping Gatorade on head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Doesn't exactly give off the feel that they been here before. But why not? They haven't been here before, last week's win equaled the Cards cumulative playoff victory total of the previous sixty years. Yet remember, they played the Panthers competitively in mid-season, leading 17-3 in the second half before Steve Smith and Jake Delhomme took the game over. Delhomme has the third highest passer rating in the playoffs all-time. He trails only Joe Montana and Bart Starr, not bad company. The Panthers pass defense looked awfully vulnerable in week 17 allowing Drew Brees to throw for nearly 400 yards in a game they had to win to get home field. The Panthers are hoping for help from rainy and cold weather to slow down Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The Panthers have had trouble generating pressure in recent weeks. The Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Panthers as ten point favorites.

Sunday, January 11th

Philadelphia Eagles at the New York Giants

The Eagles have underrated, under-respected quarterback Donovan McNabb at the helm. Unfortunately, he has the millstone of Coach Andy Reid around his neck. McNabb also has zero even halfway decent wide receivers. Only one wideout caught even 500 yards in passes for the Eagles this season. The Eagles managed nine offensive points last week against a stumbling Vikings team that was missing two of their best defenders. Bryan Westbrook is a talented player with a knack for making the big play at the right time, but will the Eagles run enough to keep the Giants honest? Nobody in the league has more predictable play calling than Andy Reid, whereas Giants Coach Tom Coughlin seems to have come into his own in the last two years. The Giants are not the team they were last year minus Osi Umenyiora and Plaxico Burress. The Eagles also have a terrific defense. This game will come down to Eli Manning's ability to limit the Giants turnovers.

San Diego Chargers at the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Clarion Content is quite upset that the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with a tragic history of brain injuries, is sending Ben Roethlisberger back into the fray, especially after he admitted his head was still bothering him in practice this week. We are rooting against the Steelers on the basis of this despicable, callous use of a human being. The Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers has been a Clarion Content fave since he was at North Carolina State. The diminutive Darren Sproles showed starting running back LaDainian Tomlinson last week that it is the size of your heart that matters, not your physical size. The Steelers have a terrific defense and they gutted out an 11-10 regular season win at home against the Chargers. Can they do it again with a banged up Ben Roethlisberger, coming off of his fourth career concussion? Behind a subpar offensive line? Do they have enough offensive weapons beyond the gritty Hines Ward? San Diego has the special teams edge.

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Pirates who can't swim 

Unfortunately for five Somali pirates they hadn't practiced their backstrokes enough recently. The five died when their small boat overturned as they were leaving behind the ransomed Saudi Arabian oil tanker Sirius Star. Reports say that their share of the reported $3 million ransom was lost with them. Whoops.

A Saudi Oil Ministry official reported the ship was steaming for Damma, on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast. The Saudis reportedly paid the ransom via parachute drop. The Liberian-flagged ship, owned by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, was reportedly carrying $100 million in crude oil.

Read the full Associated Press article here.

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Back to reality 

In a move designed to move America away from the Orwellian politicization of science that occurred under the reign of King George the II, president-elect Barack Obama has named John P. Holdren, a Harvard physicist as the White House science adviser.

As a letter signed by many of the most prominent scientists in America said to Bush II in 2004, "When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions." Their concerns were ignored by a man who thought the torture of non-combatants was consistent with the American way.

King George the II, aligned with many a denier of evolution, saw no problem in looking at the scientific evidence and blithely declaring it wrong without even mustering a counter-argument. Conclusions were foreordained and the facts must be shaped to meet them. (Note how this principle also played out in pre-war intelligence on Iraq.)

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How bad was George Bush II 

The only honorable thing left for George the II to do.

As regular readers probably know, the Clarion Content believes George Bush the II has saved Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Millard Fillmore and Calvin Coolidge from the ignominy of being the worst president ever. He has taken the title and run. Handed a booming economy, trillion dollar budget surpluses and record low unemployment, he has squandered them all on failed foreign wars. He and Dick have run roughshod over the Constitution operating the most autocratic presidency since FDR. Bush II has tarnished America's image across the world in ways previously thought inconceivable.

The Clarion Content figures you know all this and it is not a surprise. We were surprised this morning to read that some of what we figured might be King George the II strongest defenders saying the same thing in the Chicago Tribune. Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, which will host King George the II presidential library says, "They (Bush father and son) are in fact going to be doing chin-ups on the bottom tier of presidents in modern history."

At another in-state, very Republican friendly university, the University of Texas, Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government who specializes in the presidency admitted, "The likelihood is that the father will be looked upon as a steadier hand and better prepared for the job." This despite George Bush I status as a minimally accomplished, one-term president.

Here from quarters one would much more likely expect is a scathing review of the Bush II disaster of a presidency from Frank Rich in the New York Times. It is stunning and stomach turning to read the whole litany laid out in one place.

What will future history text books say? Will they skip the reign of King George II on the old principle of, if you don't have anything nice to say...


Friday, January 09, 2009

Porn Bailout 


In an Andy Kaufman-esque move, porn industry moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis said Wednesday that they are asking Washington for a $5 billion federal bailout. Reports from the LA Daily News said that Francis's tone was tongue-in-cheek. However, there have been reports from across the mainstream media of a softening in porn revenues.

Flynt and Francis claim in their press release that porn DVD sales and rentals rates are flaccid, down by 22% in the past year, as individuals devour free porn online. Flynt and Francis say the $5 billion dollar stimulus figure is pulled from the decline in porn industry revenues from a climactic peak of $18 billion three years ago. Obviously, this announcement on the eve of the industry's four-day Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas is a bit of a publicity stunt.

But more hard evidence from the LA Daily News talking to an adult film star named Jenna Presley, she said, "I know companies are reducing their rates. Instead of paying a girl $2,000 for a boy-girl (scene), now they’re trying to pay $1,200. She went on to note that revenues at her on-line site have been less than firm, the LA Daily News says, "Her Web site has seen a 20 percent decline in customers, about 1,000 of whom pay $19.99 a month to watch the 22-year-old perform online."

There is no way Washington, D.C. politicos (Francis and Flynt are petitioning Rep. Barney Frank and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson) or President-elect Obama are going to include the porn industry in any kind of bailout or stimulus package. But it is interesting to reflect on the idea that the sagging economy is hurting the porn industry. Is this a sign of the depth of the economic woes of the American economy? Is it a sign that porn for most people is a cut-able entertainment expense? The Clarion Content thinks it probably means that there is a lot of free porn on-line.

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Good grub 

Unfortunately, dear readers the Clarion Content's crack correspondent failed to grab a photo of this resplendent meal. It was a terrific combination for the short days that make up the dark, cold depths of Winter. Perhaps, we will be able to lean on our sources for a recipe or a redo.

When the winds are howling, the fireplace is roaring and all you want to do is bundle up, you can't eat much better than this. The main attraction was a delightful turkey and dumplings pairing. Succulent and moist, it had a perfect texture and a hearty, sustaining warmth. It filled up a cold belly just right. The sides accompanying it were wonderful meshes of flavors. The first was a delicious puree of butternut squash with maple syrup and brandy. The second was spinach emulsified in butter with razor thinly slices of fresh garlic, all tossed in apple cider vinegar, a very inventive contrast of flavors.

The whole plate was a unity was beautiful winter colors of brown, orange and green. The strong savory flavor of the turkey dumplings was finely balanced by the sweet squash dish and offset again in a another direction by the distinctive spinach side.

It was another wonderful local meal by a Durham chef.

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Couldn't fix this one 

As the Clarion Content watched the Big 12's Oklahoma go down to defeat last night against Florida, we couldn't help but be reminded of this year's skewed Heisman trophy balloting. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow looked as good or better as Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford last night. The Clarion Content did not have a strong preference for one or the other of them as the Heisman winner. (We were more disappointed that Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree weren't even invited to New York as finalists.)

However, last night's more or less equal performances from the two top vote getters in the Heisman race highlighted just how illegitimate that voting was. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received the most first place votes, 750+. We felt it fair to vote Bradford, Tebow, Colt McCoy of Texas or Graham Harrell of Texas Tech number one. What was ridiculous was that Tebow left off of 154 ballots, almost all of the from them southwest region. What you didn't think Tebow was even in the top three best players in the country? Really? Or was it (more likely) that you were just trying to fix the outcome for your favorite son? Didn't work last night! Florida handled the Oklahoma offense, which had been lighting up the scoreboard on the Big 12's little sisters of the poor defenses. Last night Bradford & co. ran into a buzz saw. 14 points? What happened to 60 a game?

Well, at least the rest of the conference held up there end of the bargain, right? What's that you say, Texas barely got by Big 10 runner-up Ohio State with help of a very questionable final drive spot? Oklahoma State got thumped by the 3rd place PAC-10 team? And the conference finished with only the 6th best record of BCS conferences in bowl games?

Yeah, Big 12 honks, you may have fixed the Heisman voting, but you got exposed on the field. Say what's Jason White up to these days anyway? Whatever it is, we see Sam Bradford working along side of him soon.

Making Heisman voters ballots public would help solve this problem.

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King George the II, the Legacy 

Another George Bush the II legacy for the country: since January 2001, when George W. Bush took office, the number of unemployed people has increased by more than 84% according to ourfuture.org. At this point ritual hari kari seems the only appropriate course of action left to the disgraced president. The Clarion Content recommends he get on it immediately after Obama's inauguration.

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No respect 

Caps defenseman, Mike Green

Earlier this week we alerted you, dear reader, to the fantastic season the Washington Capitals of the NHL are having. Unfortunately, the NHL's All-Star balloting did not reflect it. The Washington Capitals only got one All-Star, the all world Alexander Ovechkin. The fans selected the starters. They can, in this modern era can not only vote at the rinks and on-line, but also via text message for their favorite team as a straight ticket as it were. In a political machine worthy example of ballot box stuffing, the fans selected only Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens for the Eastern Conference starting line-up.

The reserves are selected by the league office and the general managers of the individual clubs. The Clarion Content is no Caps fan, but for them to only get one All-Star is an egregious oversight. Ovechkin, one of the two or three best players in the league, was undeniable. But where were the G.M.s to correct the imbalance with center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green? Backstrom is 5th in the East in assists and 7th in points. Green leads Eastern Conference defensemen in goals and points-per-game, and he is third in total points and fourth in plus/minus rating.

The league showed no respect for the Caps. Read more analysis of how it went down here at the DC Sports Box.

One more note, the New York Islanders have now dropped 14 straight on the road. They need one more loss to match the team record after getting spanked in Calgary last night. Go, Islanders, go! The Clarion Content believes you can shatter that record.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Harvard is #1 

Michigan you're next!

Believe it, college basketball fans!

Harvard University is the number one team in the land, by virtue of a victory last night over #24th ranked Boston College.

Boston College is, of course, undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC) play. Boston College's last game was a season opening ACC victory was over the consensus national number one, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before BC exploited them, UNC looked so good and so deep, people were asking if they could become the first ACC team to run the table in conference play since '99 Duke. People were saying it was possible that they could be the best college team since UNLV's juggernaut of the early 1990's. The Clarion Content was drinking the Carolina Blue Kool-aid, and next to Harvard, we still think the Heels are the best team in the country.

It should be noted that we were very enthusiastic about the hire of character guy, leader, molder of young men, Duke alum, Tommy Amaker at Harvard. Last night Amaker led the Crimson to their first victory over a ranked team in school history.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Loyal readers of the Clarion Content know that we are all over the police beat when they are doing something nefarious. As we have expressed in the past, we are concerned about what appears to be a shift in the police ethic, from "protect and serve" to "enforce." It is this worry, combined with a sense of the media's increasing complicity, (see: the media's sycophantic performance in Iraq, cravenly following the will of the powers that be,) that has us increasingly conscious of blowing the whistle on the cops whenever possible.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is rife with such opportunities. Whistleblowing has a crucial social function, curtailing bad and unethical behavior. Thinking one or one's organization will get caught has a deterrent effect. Publicizing other organizations that do get caught hopefully empowers folks that know that they are getting screwed by the man to keep fighting for their cause, keep striving to be heard/noticed.

The latest incident the Clarion Content ran across was a blatant case of attempted coercion. It is reported on in full in the LA Times here. The short story is Los Angeles Police Department SWAT teams accidentally killed an nineteen month old kid during a hostage situation where she was being held at gunpoint by her father. It was a tragic accident and we are not here to excoriate the LAPD or their SWAT officers for it. Rather our disgust is about the questionable activities of the LAPD hierarchy after the shooting.

Apparently, before this horrible incident in 2005, LAPD SWAT had never killed a hostage. In this case SWAT had mistakenly thought the gunmen had been wounded by their sniper. He was not, he opened fire on SWAT as they stormed the building where he had barricaded himself. In the exchange of gunfire, nineteen month old Suzie Peña was killed.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office examined the death and found the cause to be a high-velocity bullet fired from one of the SWAT members' rifles. The LAPD did not want to accept that verdict. They intensely lobbied the forensic pathologists at the coroner's office to reverse their verdict. They let a non-medically trained criminologist pursue any means necessary to prove their desired theory that the father, not SWAT had killed the child. They tasked an assistant police chief to lead the lobbying of the coroner's office. They searched the country to find an outside doctor who would reexamine the case. Unfortunately when they did, Dr. William Oliver, a forensic pathologist at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that, "There is little or no good evidence that the wound is from . . . a handgun," (the father's weapon.)

As the LA Times quotes an American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson, "the public has to be able to have faith that when the department goes the extra mile like this that it is about accuracy instead of exonerating officers."

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