My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crop Circles 

Special thanks to one of our Ohio readers for sending this nugget our way. In the best explanation we have read yet for crop circles, from our 'truth is always able to outflank fiction' files, here is a delightful note originally discovered in the BBC News.

Dateline Tasmania: According to the BBC, "Retired Tasmanian poppy farmer Lyndley Chopping also said he had seen strange behaviour from wallabies in his fields." Wallabies are marsupial cousins of the kangaroo that live on the island state. The wallabies have been sneaking into the farmers fields and apparently grazing on opium poppies. Medicinal growing of opium is a farming industry in Tasmania.

Lara Giddings, the attorney general of Tasmania, said, "...one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles. Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

So aliens and/or smacked out wallabies, nice.

Labels: ,

Pithy F*rging Sayings (12th ed.) 

Welcome to our 12th edition of Pithy F*rging Sayings gathered from the singularity.

As always the citation of these sayings does not necessarily imply endorsement, the goal is to provoke thought.

"Great Art doesn't become old."---Wynton Marsalis

"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."---F. Scott Fitzgerald

"I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."---William Faulkner

"I am here to uphold and protect the public interest. Some might say might say the public interest is merely what interests the public. I disagree."---Newton Minow

"Our republic and its press will rise and fall together. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself."---Joseph Pulitzer

"You can't be too tired to have gratitude."---staff

Follow this link to old P.F. Sayings posts. You will see this one again first. Scroll down for older ones.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Goodbye Michael, it was one heck of a ride.

Memo to the rest: Be grateful for every day you get.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lost and Found 

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a real family man

As it turns out our suppositions this morning were correct. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was on the Elliot Spitzer plan, although he had to travel a lot further to get the booty, Argentina as opposed to Washington, D.C. Will Sanford's fall from grace be as swift? Sanford has already resigned as Chairman of the National Republican's Governors Association. Spitzer was forced completely from office. Who knew we were going to be treated to this much South Carolina Republican blogging when we started last week?

Is South Carolina's Republican Lieutenant Governor up to the very capable standards of New York's James Patterson? The Clarion Content thinks we shall soon see.

Labels: ,

Stranger in a strange land 

The story of South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, gets curiouser and curiouser. We defended Governor Sanford when it appeared he had purely needed some time to get a way from the pressures of public life. His staff said he had gone on walkabout on the Appalachian Trail and would be back in a couple of days. Now suddenly the story has morphed into a totally new tale.

The Associated Press reports, "South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is telling a newspaper that he was in Argentina during his unexplained 5-day absence." At the last minute, the Governor supposedly decided he wanted a more exotic break from work and his family. The more we read, the more we feel this appears likely to turn into an Elliot Spitzer or Marion Barry type of story. The truth lies some where between Appalachia and Argentina.


Still missing 

The Clarion Content ran across an amazing story in the BBC News that we had never heard preciously. A fifty-one year old nuclear bomb dropped in shallow waters of the coast of Georgia remains missing. Somewhere near Savannah and Tybee Island there is a 7,500 lbs nuclear bomb buried. The United States government despite numerous attempts has never been able to find it. The Air Force now insists it is safest to leave it where it is, claiming according to the BBC, that it is incapable of a nuclear explosion because it lacks the vital plutonium trigger.

The Clarion Content once detailed for you the amazing story of the only nuclear bomb every dropped on the Continental United States, but we had never heard this one. Read the whole article, the details of the mid-air collision and the heroism of Colonel Howard Richardson, DFC, who insured the bomb did not crash to earth with his near crippled plane, here.


Please, no! 

NBA ready? Hah! We doubt the super soft Rubio could dominate in the D-League.

The Clarion Content's Sports Editor can only hope that the Knicks don't have a chance to draft the 18 year-old Spaniard, Ricky Rubio. We know Coach Mike D'Antoni, he of the shoot in seven seconds or less philosophy, would love to do it. Hopefully, Rubio will have already gone to another sucker. Rubio has rumored as high as the number two pick in a mediocre draft. We agree with Celitcs General Manager, Danny Ainge's assessment that the New York Times quoted, "I don’t see Rubio being that dynamic player now. I think he’s got a lot of potential. He’s a very flashy player. He has a great mind for the game and he’s a terrific passer. I don’t see him — just physically, and because he doesn’t shoot the ball very well — I don’t see him having an impact as a rookie."

The Clarion Content says he won't have a career as good as the man formerly known as White Chocolate, Jason Williams (11 pts and 6 dimes, per game career). The next Pistol Pete Maravich? Pu-leeze, that man was one of a kind. We want to see the Knicks draft Stephon Curry from Davidson.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Golden Sombrero 

Jorge Posada wore the Golden Sombrero in the Yankees 4-0 shutout loss to the Atlanta Braves tonight. The Yankees have been icy cold, losers of 9 of 13 to the bottom three teams in the N.L. East, the Braves, the Florida Marlins and the lowly Washington Nationals.

As the Clarion Content warned, Alex Rodriguez has been putrid in his return. He is now batting an anemic .207 on the season. People returning from hip surgery simply don't recover that fast, especially when they are no longer on the same meds that their body was so used to depending on. A-Fraud's swing relies far too much on hip torque to expect much out of him this season. Now that pitchers and scouts around the league are coming to this realization, Mark Texiera isn't seeing anywhere near as many good pitches as he did when Rodriguez first returned.

Who would have figured Cano, Cabrera and Gardner could be having such positive seasons and the Yanks would still be struggling to score runs?

By the way, the Golden Sombrero means a hitter struck out four times in a single game. Posada also had a throwing error that contributed to a Braves run. How long before Wang says he doesn't want to pitch to Jorge either?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 22, 2009

South Carolina's Governor 

Hopefully, it wasn't our scathing critique that caused it, but South Carolina's head Republican has disappeared, gone it hiding as it were. His staff can't find him, the press says calls to his cellphone are going straight to voicemail, his wife hasn't talked to him in several days. Governor Mark Sanford has gone AWOL or as his spokesman put it "out of pocket." The most recent reports have him hiking the Appalachian Trail, unreachable by cellphone. Talk about atypical.

It is something of sad commentary on American society that a man can't talk a walk in the woods and be alone with his thoughts. The kind of histrionic commentary that Governor Sanford's hike has drawn is ridiculous, "The way things are in the world today and homeland security, we need the governor to be fingertips away. Somebody's got to be in charge." quoth, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican according to the Associated Press.


Lucas Glover 

We know that the urge is to respond with, who? The answer is Lucas Glover from Greenville, South Carolina, a man with exactly one previous PGA tour victory is your 2009 U.S. Open Champion. When everyone else was fading away; Mickelson with a bogey at the 17th, the long lost David Duval, who after a birdie-birdie-birdie run to tie for the lead also bogeyed 17, and worst of all Glover's playing partner, Ricky Barnes, a former U.S. Amateur Champion who got it all the way to 11 under, before playing the final twenty-seven holes in 8 over par.

Meanwhile the small town Southerner, Glover, was as cool as the other side of the pillow. He personally witnessed Barnes meltdown, playing in the final twosome with him in the the third and fourth round, faltered with a bogey of his own on the toughest hole of the Open Championship, the 15th, then righted the ship and birdied 16. Glover closed with an every so steady Open winning par-par. Ladies and Gentlemen, Lucas Glover, who will spend the next year being announced as the U.S. Open Champion! Tiger Woods never really threatened after an opening round of four over 74, and finished in a three way tie for 6th place.

Labels: ,

The Emoticons of texting 

As you may or may not be aware dear readers, the Clarion Content's editor-in-chief is fascinated with the code switching that is on-going in the new language of texting. English has endless vernaculars, and even technologically speaking, texting is but one code among many tech jargons.

Our sincere thanks to the south Durham reader who recently forwarded our way one of the most complete lists we have seen interpreting the emoticons of texting. Interestingly most of these emoticons are primarily made with mathematical and grammatical symbols, rather than English letters. Though we do not endorse all of these interpretations, (follow this link to Wikipedia's fascinating take) we thought we'd share them.

Follow this link to see the big list.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Joe Buck's an ass 

Sanctimonious ass Joe Buck was totally embarrassed on his first episode of his pathetic sports show. Buck is a two faced loser. He is the very same man who excoriated Randy Moss on national television for a mooning gesture offered to the Green Bay Packer fan base at Lambeau Field. His first episode of his new show he hosts, in an attempt to push the humor envelope, he features live Artie Lang stand-up comedy. Lang is a regular on the toilet humor imbued, profanity laced Howard Stern program. He let rip with a segment that made HBO blush. Buck, class act that he is, had his two young daughters in the audience. Hypocrite, through and through, Buck after the television show did ten extra minutes of live podcast with Lang, then the next day claimed he was shocked and appalled by Lang's humor.

Labels: ,

Nature outflanks 

The Clarion Content's editor-in-chief's Gaian perspective inherently assumes that nature outflanks human civilization, a holistic planet cannot be destroyed by one species. It can be made uninhabitable for one species or another, by one species or another, but its rebalancing is innate, at least until the sun goes out. But enough of the big perspective, writ small, here are two instances where nature (in the form of individuals outflanked humankind).

The first is a story about a wolverine. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been tracking wolverines in an effort to discover more about their habits. According to WCS researchers when a male wolverine ranged into Colorado earlier in the week it was the first time a wolverine had been sighted in Colorado since 1919. Wolverines reportedly need massive territories, with individuals staking out as much as 500 square miles of space per creature. The fellow they were following walked over 500 miles in just the months of April and May this year.

The wolverine was once native to the mountains and surrounding areas of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and California. Public records indicate that populations were largely wiped out by the 1930s, according to the WCS. Their recovery has been intermittent since.

Read the whole story here from Live Science.

The other story of nature reappearing, from humankind's perspective, took place clear across the country, in Collier County Florida at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Volunteers there were treated to a rare daytime sighting of a Florida Panther. The female in question probably weighed 100 pounds according to scientists. The two volunteers hunkered down and were able to capture about forty-five seconds of video footage of the cat. A relative of the cougar, there are only estimated to be about 100 Florida Panthers roaming the the low tides, palm forests and wild swamps of the state.

Read the whole article and see the footage here.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 1 of how many? 

Whatchya gonna do when he comes for you?

The rain poured down on day one of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. It prompted officials to sternly warn that the champion would be determined with at least seventy-two holes of golf, whether that might mean Monday or even Tuesday. But stern warnings and gloomy weather were not the only story on an afternoon where the immortal Crash Davis might have said, "Some days you win, some days you lose and some days it rains."

The Boston Globe reported that the day was over when the horn sounded at 10:15 a.m., players hustled to shelter, spectators quickly sought cover. It didn’t take long for streams to form on the fairways, and greens to be completely submerged. The US Golf Association made the decision to suspend play. It was the first time since 2004 that a US Open round was not completed on the day it began.

Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post found a much more interesting story than the weather in Jeff Brehaut, forty-six years old, a journeyman who failed qualifying school 13 times and wandered the minor-league Nationwide Tour with his family in an SUV for six long seasons doing 30,000 miles a year on the open road. Though he only completed eleven holes today, Brehaut found himself "leading the U.S. Open at the end of Day 1." Even better his wife, teenage kids, seventy-six year old Dad and a total of nine family members were there to see it. It was delivered by a guy whose only two pro wins are on the Nationwide Tour and as a medalist at qualifying school.

Read Boswell's whole story here.

Labels: ,

Continental Airlines Flight 61 

From the files of truth surrounds, immerses and swallows fiction every time, we once again note that you can make anything up you want because "they" couldn't say, it couldn't happen. Today on Continental Airlines Flight 61, from Brussels to Newark, New Jersey, the 60-year-old captain died in the cockpit of a suspected heart attack. The 247 passengers aboard did not learn what had happened until the flight landed safely with the two co-pilots at the controls and was met by fire trucks, emergency vehicles and scads of reporters.

The New York Times reports that, "with the jetliner approaching coastal Canada, the pilot’s body was taken from the cockpit to the crew rest area, according to Les Dorr Jr., a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Two other pilots — a first officer with 9,800 hours of flying time and an international relief officer with 15,500 hours — assumed the controls of the plane."

Read the whole story, including other incidents of mid-air pilot mortality, here, in the New York Times.


Tiger on the prowl 

After watching the 71st and 72nd holes of the Memorial two weeks ago, the Clarion Content feels confident enough to announce Tiger is back. He is coming. He is driving the ball great and more consistently in the fairway than ever before. He is hitting his irons stiff. The competition is once again fearful. Sunday at the Memorial he made his charge from four off the lead on the final day. He capped it with a birdie, birdie finish, that included one of the most beautiful golf shots you will ever see, a seven iron from 185 yards to one foot from the pin leaving himself a tap in, tournament winning, birdie on 18th. New York welcomes Tiger to the U.S. Open today.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

South Carolina's Republicans 

The smiling face of the South Carolina GOP

The ever moderate and broad minded Republicans of South Carolina are at it again. Republican activist Rusty DePass reprised one of the oldest racist lines in the book on his Facebook page, over the weekend. The story was after a gorilla escaped from a zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, DePass took the time out to change his Facebook status to, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless," referring to the First Lady. Must be a pleasure for Senator Lindsey Graham and his ilk to be associated with progressive thinkers like Mr. DePass. Though we must query, what's with the ape reference we thought these guys didn't believe in evolution?

Read more here at Politics Daily.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Worst coached NBA Finals? 

A third Van Gundy brother?

The Clarion Content's sports editor didn't watch last night's Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the last game of this NBA season. He had already spent enough time hollering at the television and Stan Van Gundy. As a long time Knicks fan, this was not the first time he has watched a hopelessly overmatched Van Gundy get out coached in the playoffs.

Was this the worst coaching job in the NBA finals ever?

It was embarrassingly bad, to the point where Stan Van Gundy's players were criticizing him with anonymous comments to the press between Games 4 and 5. It was pathetic to the point where a clueless Van Gundy was quoting Spurs Coach Greg Popovich in his pre-game speeches, "Pop tells his guys...." The root of the problem began when Van Gundy inexplicably played point guard Jameer Nelson huge minutes in Game 1. Nelson who hadn't played in 4 and 1/2 months was out of sync and out of shape. After the game Van Gundy vowed not to make the same mistake again. Ha! If only, he should have simply promised to make a litany of new ones.

He took a team that was playing well enough to stop the prohibitive favorite LeBron James and the Cavs and screwed with the rotation like it was baseball Spring Training! He had no point guard in the game down the stretch at all as the Magic came up short in Game 2. Then in Game 4, he went back to his over play Nelson strategy, post-game promises forgotten, all the while screwing with the confidence of his mercurial and talented starting point guard, Rafer Alston, who had helped lead the team to three huge series wins.

Van Gundy did the same with his shooting guards. In one game J.J. Reddick would play huge fourth quarter minutes, in another, he wouldn't see the floor in the second half. In one game Courtney Lee would be asked to take perhaps the biggest shot of the series, then in another he wouldn't play at all in the fourth quarter. A fan could have been pulled out of the stands and done a better coaching job. As the Magic folded and gagged down the stretch of Game 4, Van Gundy set-up Nelson's final coup de grâce backing off Derek Fisher to stop a 2 point drive, and leave an open 3, with the Lakers trailing by 3 and seconds left in the game. It was the final head shaker. What on Earth was the diminutive Nelson doing in the game? Why didn't the Magic use their foul to give?

Our basketball posse discussed; had we ever seen any coach close out the first four games of a NBA series with four different line-ups (not due to foul trouble or injury) but just plain experimenting? Conclusion, never. Coach Van Gundy, it was Mike Dunleavy-esque. And to have to listen to his brother announce it, and pretend like all was well, vile, gut churning nonsense. Then after each game, Stan took time out to explain why the players were at fault, throwing them under the proverbial bus in a lame effort to deflect blame.

No Van Gundy should be coaching anything bigger than Cortland State's D-III program. Unfortunately, there was no Pat Riley to provide the hook this time before Stan screwed the pooch over and over on national television.

[edit. note: The author (our sports editor) is a huge Knicks fan and Lakers hater, this bias may shade his opinions on occasion.]

Labels: ,

Friday, June 12, 2009

There is an HIV positive porn star 

Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation founder,
Sharon Mitchell

In a serious blow to the porn industry, the Los Angeles Times reported that a female performer in the pornography industry has tested positive for HIV, according to the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, a San Fernando Valley-based clinic that serves adult performers.

This case marks the first publicly confirmed HIV infection in an adult star in California since 2004 when an HIV outbreak shut down porn production for weeks. According to the LA Times, "The new HIV infection was confirmed publicly only after discussions of a possible HIV case appeared on adult industry websites." They quote porn veteran and clinic founder Sharon Mitchell, saying they had recently changed their policies on HIV positive performer disclosure for new cases "because if there isn't a widespread danger – if someone isn't completely virulent and hasn't worked and there aren't a lot of people at risk, we don't put a quote out there; just blankets: Everyone should come in and test."

Read the whole LA Times story here.


Mob Ties 

Convicted NBA referee Tim Donaghy was attacked by a fellow inmate in a Florida prison where he is serving time for his role in fixing NBA games. Donaghy, through his spokesman says the assailant is known to be connected to the mob. Revenge for Donaghy's snitching? The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment.

The Clarion Content has people in the Philadelphia suburbs that Donaghy is from, Springfield, PA. In that part of the country, mob ties are like cousins, everybody's got a couple. Fortunately, only seven other referees are from the same Philly area!!! When the real NBA fixing scandal blows up look for several of them to be involved.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Element 

Element 112, is still looking for a name, but it will be added to the periodic table more than a decade after the first single atoms of it were produced. Element 112 was officially recognized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

It is part of a group of super heavy elements that are very unstable and begin to fall apart within a few milliseconds of creation. As yet, it is only possible to "make" such elements in the lab with most powerful of particle accelerators.

Read more here in the BBC.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Acapulco ain't what it used to be 

Partying down 1950's Acapulco style

Counted among the many needless tragedies of the pointless War on Drugs is the degradation of the once popular Mexican resort of Acapulco. In recent weeks less than 100 yards from a famous 1950's hotel where John Wayne and "Tarzan" star Johnny Weissmuller threw lavish parties a huge gun battle broke out between Mexican soldiers and suspected members of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

Sixteen of the unidentified gunmen and two Mexican soldiers were killed, nine other people were wounded, including three bystanders. According to the Associated Press, "The battle erupted after soldiers received a tip that a group of armed men were gathered at a gated house in a seedy section of Acapulco where working-class homes bleed into 1950s mansions. Several gunmen tried to flee but crashed their car into a military Hummer that was blocking the gate. At one point, more armed men with grenades arrived to reinforce the men in the house, but they died in the shooting, said an army colonel, who led the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons."

Perhaps the most telling line of the story was the one that most encapsulates how the War on Drugs has co-opted not only the streets of Mexico, but the very rule of law, "Inside, soldiers found four men bound and shirtless who claimed they were Guerrero state police officers and were being held hostage." No telling though, were they moles working with the cartels? Actually hostages? Are they who even who they say they are?

Read the whole story here.

Labels: ,

Clunker Bill clears the House 

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill that would give consumers vouchers to turn in gas guzzling vehicles and buy new cars that are more fuel efficient. Clunkers eligible for the program must get 18 miles per gallon, or less, in combined city/highway mileage. There are $3,500 subsidies that can be used toward purchasing cars and vans that are more fuel efficient than the older clunkers by four miles per gallon. There is a bigger $4,500 subsidy that can be used toward purchasing vehicles that are more fuel efficient than the older car by 10 miles per gallon. However, cars that are older than 25 years are not eligible to be traded in for credit. The bill supported by President Obama faces an uphill battle to pass in the United States Senate.

Read more here at CNN Money.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 08, 2009

Military spending continues to spiral 

The Clarion Content would love to call it exclusively a legacy of George Bush the II and the Dick, but even we have to admit that there are wider forces at work. The BBC News reported that global military spending rose 4% in 2008 to a record $1,464 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

The BBC noted that the 100 leading defense manufacturing companies sold arms and munitions worth $347 billion during 2007 and that almost all the companies were American or European, a staggering 92%. Sipri's report also showed that the United States is not only the world's biggest seller of arms, but its biggest arms buyer, too, accounting for 58% of the total global spending increase on arms during the last decade.

Sipri said, "during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, US military expenditure increased to the highest level in real terms since World War II." The Bush II reign certainly didn't create the arms race, but it did help it trend in the wrong direction. Anybody remember the peace dividend that was supposed to come from the end of the Cold War? "Mideast Shift," anybody?

Americans we should protest such expenditure of our hard earned money!

Labels: , ,

Not from here 

Columnist Cliff Phillips returns with a brilliant piece about place and change, chronicling our shared modern sense of dislocation with his own poignant New Jersey narrative. There is much to chew on here and cultural advice is hard to take. But who is this other? Aren't they all us? When the tale is from the gut and viscerally we respond to it, perhaps there is hope. The potential for change lies within us. As it says in the Talmud, the power of your dreams is your belief that they will come true.

"I'm not from here"

I live in rural New England, but I’m not from here. I moved to western Massachusetts twenty years ago, and around here, I am the Other, a from-away, and I always will be. It’s an important distinction for natives to make, and I respect it.

No, I’m a native of New Jersey, or at least that’s where I was born and raised. I’ve heard all the jokes and most of them are true. People often ask “Jersey? Which exit?” but they never ask how it got that way. The truth is, nobody knows. Like any tragedy, no one can quite explain how it happened, or why. It’s been so long since I left, people are usually surprised to learn I grew up there. I’m almost surprised myself. I suppose I could go back and try to reacquaint myself, but all those places are gone. Literally, gone. Can you imagine that?

I was born in Morristown, New Jersey, a place first settled by the Dutch in the early 1600’s. It’s a real colonial town, with Revolutionary War sites, and snow in winter, which was long. It was a lot like New England in a lot of respects.

When I was small, there was still new interstate highway construction in the old Northeast, and in northern New Jersey, that meant Route 287 was gradually extending its reach northward toward New York State in an arc around the New York Metropolitan Area. At the time it stopped just north of Morristown, stalled by fervent opposition. I didn’t know it was new and I didn’t know it represented a dramatic kind of change. Maybe I assumed the highway had always been there, on a wide flat plain which happened to have been a perfectly graded, open meadow. I was a kid and I took the world as it was.

I grew up in a 1950’s subdivision carved from a wooded hillside. Mountainside Drive. I didn’t know it was new and I didn’t know our split-level was replicated all over the hillside in nearly identical neighborhoods. A kid doesn’t know the relative ages of things, let alone comprehend the scale or significance of them. Of course, the interstate and my neighborhood were a forested valley and ridge just a short time before I was born.

We were lucky to live at the end of a dead end street where our yard fronted a wide empty circle. It was a place for the neighborhood kids to congregate. It served as a paved playground and gave onto a trail which led through woods to another dead end in a neighboring subdivision. The woods seemed a vast frontier and an enduring mystery to my unchallenged mind. I have been told the roads are now connected and the woods are gone, but I won’t be going back to see that. I’m from New Jersey and I’ve seen enough of that.

From age nine, until I left the state at age eighteen, I lived in Kinnelon, a smaller, more remote town further north. A bedroom community, it was a sad, lonely, beautiful place set among wooded lakes. Dry open ridges of scrappy weather-beaten oaks and wild blueberry fell off steeply into enormous assemblages of glacial boulders, often as big as a house, among the quiet shelter of hemlock forest and the brighter but impassable thickets of mountain laurel.

In the mid-nineties, I returned to the area for the wedding of two friends from this second half of childhood. Approaching from near Morristown, I followed the wedding invitation’s directions northward to be confronted by apparent unreality where the conquering Route 287, now encircling a dominion which extended to the New York State Thruway, had obliterated miles of familiar landscape and ran screaming along the formerly quiet Ramapo Mountains.

The outlying towns were choked by pavement and frantic with pointless commerce. The approaches were a crush of seething resentment as each isolated driver, alone in their car, tried to assert their position against the Other on the already crowded superhighway. Chunks of mountain were gone, blasted away into bits of rock which were baled up in massive chain link cubes and stacked grotesquely like toy blocks. I was less than fifteen minutes from my old home. I recognized nothing. Everything was altered. I know I can’t describe the uncomprehending shock and disbelief I felt, the haunted disorientation, the sweeping sense of exile which has remained ever since.

In New Jersey, a shocking verbal assault can pass for a civil greeting, and the mild disparagement would burn New England ears. Waving is rare but the finger is frequent. In a swathe between New York City and Philadelphia, the people live in a fully developed and totally privatized environment. For many, the only accessible open space is the highway and the parking lot. Both are thronged. Many towns are completely “built out,” and the last forested ridgelines which stood between urban or suburban corridors have fallen to development. Some municipalities have hired sharpshooters to kill off deer trapped in residential settings where hunting is no longer possible. There is ample shrubbery for the deer to browse, but aside from the snipers, there are no predators. There is no habitat.

The places the people grew up are also gone. The places their parents frequented are forgotten, demolished, entombed beneath asphalt. Continuity has been banished, and history has been erased. It’s as if the people’s collective memory has been wiped clean. Social isolation is the rule, but is perversely aggravated by going out in public. Many people migrate from this toxic social and physical environment. The lucky ones, given enough time, find another chance to integrate into a community and belong to a place and a landscape again, though they be forever from-aways in their new homes. Who can blame them?

It’s difficult to see one’s place, which is a birthright, changed from the outside. It’s an injustice. Yet it is worse to see it disfigured beyond recognition. Many New Englanders resent the hypocrisy of the from-away, who would bring change from the outside even while proclaiming “your beautiful New England must be kept intact.” They mistake it for arrogance, but I have a word of advice for any native of rural New England or any other undeveloped island of our great paved country.

Please try to have some compassion and a receptive ear for the most despised of your local transplants, who have trickled into your quiet towns from America’s many ruined and impervious landscapes, like refugees fleeing man-made disaster. Wonder where they came from, with their hatchet accents and impulsive social customs, their tackiness and bad habits. Picture their forsaken homes for yourself: the invasive sameness, the fuming traffic, the blanketing fog of amnesia where corporate culture steps in to set the tone, to name the policy, and to garland the thoroughfares with stoplights, logos and trash. Once beautiful places, all of them, but indistinguishable now.

It can happen anywhere. It can happen everywhere.

Can you imagine that?

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bats recognize each others voices 

The study was conducted with greater mouse eared bats like this one.

The Clarion Content has always been fascinated by animal communication. Our Gaian perspective implies almost axiomatically that animals can communicate with each other (and us, if we are open to it) in very sophisticated ways.

A recent study at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, verified that individual bats recognize each other's voices. They have also analyzed how it works. The lead scientist, Yossi Yovel explained to the BBC, "If you think of this in comparison with humans, it's like being able to recognize a person just by listening to the same one-syllable yell in different voices. The bats learned the voice by listening to hundreds of very short yells."

Read more here from the BBC News.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why do we hate/ignore the whistleblower? 

Colgan Air is a regional partner of Continental Airlines

It is a long standing phenomenon that the Clarion Content has never really understood. Why does American culture loathe the whistleblower? And are we doomed to continue to fail to heed their warnings? Is it the old youthful prejudice against the tattletale? Is their something in our primordial collective psyche that detests the whistleblower for violating the sanctity of the Durkheimian community? Dear readers, feel free to weigh-in, because honestly, we don't get it.

Sadly the purpose of this article is to call attention to another egregious instance of America (in this case the Federal Aviation Administration) ignoring the whistleblower. This time it likely costs folks their lives. On February 12th of this year, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in a wintry mix of light snow and fog about five miles short of the runway at Buffalo-Niagara International airport killing all forty-nine people on board and one on the ground.

As the investigation surrounding the crash has continued, a tragic shunting aside of the warnings of a FAA inspector have come to light. This was the inspector who one year earlier was assigned to monitor Colgan Air's addition to its fleet of the 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. The same plane that crashed near Buffalo.

The FAA inspector reported that Colgan’s first three test flights for the Q400 were unsatisfactory. He also stated that he observed a candidate for upgrade to captain who exhibited “a lot” of problems during a test flight. Furthermore he noted frequent violations of “sterile cockpit” rules mandating that flight crews avoid unnecessary chatter during takeoff and approach to landing. Worse he saw a Colgan crew takeoff despite “patches on the de-ice boots of the left wing that were not airworthy,” and passengers on another flight were allowed to get on and off with the engines still turning. Finally, he also reported that Colgan pilots “botched” the three approaches they made at the airport in Charleston, W. Va., that they flew the Q400 faster than the manufacturer allowed and refused to report a broken radio for fear that it would delay other test flights.

He summed up his report on Colgan Air like this according The Buffalo News, “As a culture the problem starts all the way at the very top. You have young pilots coming in and the next thing you know they’re swapping seats with the engines turning.”

What did the FAA do in response? Whitewashed his complaints and transferred him to a desk job.

What did National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) inspectors find during their investigation of the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407?

The flight recorder showed indeed that sterile cockpit rules were violated on Flight 3407's approach to landing. The NTSB found that pilots at Colgan didn’t as a group have the hard training and grounding that was in compliance with federal regulations. And that the egregious safety violations the FAA inspector observed over the year were systemic. The pilot at the controls of Flight 3407 only had 109 hours of flying time in the Q400.

The FAA inspector filed a whistleblower complaint about his transfer, which the Department of Transportation inspector general is now investigating. Unfortunately, that won't bring back any of the folks who paid for the anti-whistleblower bias with their lives.

Hardly sounds like the kind of thing that could have happened under the government of Bush-Cheney. Because we all know they never forced government agencies to change the results of their reports or data to comply with their pre-conceived notions. They were and are paragons of intellectual honesty. (Just like Clinton never spun the truth or cheated on his wife.)

Read more here in The Buffalo News.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Halfway home 

Juan Pierre is locked in on the ball

The Los Angeles Dodgers officially passed the halfway point of star slugger Manny Ramirez suspension last night. They have weathered the storm so far. Fifteen wins and ten losses while Manny has been away, nursing his overly medicated libido.

The steady hand of manager Joe Torre at the tiller has no doubt been crucial. The Dodgers youthful line-up has continued to produce. Slap singles hitter Juan Pierre has stepped into the batting order and hit at a nearly .400 clip. The pitching staff has continued to throw quality start after quality start.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series in twenty years. Not since 1988 when Kurt Gibson had the gimpy pinch-hit, two run, game-winning, miracle dinger off of Dennis Eckersley, that set the tone for an upset of Tony LaRussa's 104 win "Bash Brothers" A's. Could this be the Dodgers year?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Time wasting game 

So perhaps you have noticed, dear readers, that we at the Clarion Content change the banner pictures over our "New Posts in the Sections" feature. We use "New Posts in the Sections" as a topical aggregator where you can find headlines with embedded links to our posts.

These pictures are supposed to signal whether or not there is new material in the section. If the banner picture is the same as the last time you looked, then there is no new Content in that section. If the banner picture has changed, then new Content has been posted to that section. These banner pictures rarely relate to the content in a direct way. We use the pictures accompanying the actual post for that role. These shots are for sensory entertainment. They are stretched horizontally to approximately 300 by 50. We always come up with these images through the Google Image search page.

We thought it might be a fun game, read: time waster, for you to get to guess at what words we searched to generate the image.

So for example if the banner was

Politics and Policy

You would guess that we searched...

scroll down

If you said

"head gear"

You would have been correct!!!

We will post a link at the bottom of each "New Posts in the Sections" feature with the answers as well as links to the original sites where we found the pictures.

Say no to the Empire 

A local Durham guest columnist examines the possibilities of Notre Dame playing college football in the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

"Say no to the Empire"

The New York Yankees and the University of Notre Dame football program, two athletic clubs who have strugged in recent years by the lofty standards of their history, are in initial talks to hold football games at the new Yankee Stadium according to the New York Times.

Many epic football games were played in the old stadium. And with the Yankees seeking to maximize revenue from the new stadium; the country's most popular sport may help them do just that.

Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame's first year AD, told the New York Times that Notre Dame’s 35-13 victory against Army at West Point in 1913 is considered the most important in the program’s history. He said he was trying to plan around significant anniversary games and that he would love to have the 100th anniversary of that game played at Yankee Stadium. Swarbrick also said the Yankees may be inclined to hold college football at the Stadium before 2013, and if that is the case, he would like the Irish to be part of the debut.

Neither the Yankees nor Notre Dame have made official statements.

Could this finally fill the "luxury ring" on the first tier of the stadium? Only time will tell.

Labels: , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?