Monday, June 28, 2010
Submitted by a fabulous local Durham contributor.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Somebody once told me, "Take care of your body, its the only one you get." Advice that I seem to remember taking lightly at the moment, the passage of time, entropy, has underlined the soundness of this simple suggestion.
I have fifty-year old friend, the mother of four children, and people are forever telling her that she looks ten years younger than her age. From her kids' adolescent peers to attractive men in their thirties, she is perceived as younger. Her secret? She took and takes care of her body, like many more women than men. It is no coincidence that the rise of MILF as a wildly popular slang for attractive older women has occurred during an era where older women are taking better care of their bodies than ever previously.
As for myy friend it helps of course, that she doesn't drink or smoke. On the other hand as W.C. Fields once put it, "I pity those who don't drink, because when they wake up in the morning, that's the best they are going to feel all day." So there is that...
But either a drinker or no, the time is now, fellas, to fall in with the ladies. Take care of your body. My friend, she eats right and never to wild excess. She exercises. She puts on some sort of creams and lotions. I have been in her bathroom, but I am a guy, so the details of such things remain a mystery to me. The point is not the exact regimen, but simply that you have one. My own male roommate prefers to read the health advice to men in Esquire Magazine. Whatever. So long as you do something and stick to it.
It is not rocket science. What did they tell you as a kid? Wash behind your ears, in your pits, your butt crack, and underneath your balls, fellas. Oh wait, maybe that was what they told you in the Marines, but the point is the same. Do some maintenance on your body. You change your car's oil every 5,000 miles? Mix in a salad, do regular exercise, use skin lotion.
Think hard for a minute, fellas, and try to determine if your skin seems more oily or dry. Come on now, you have been living in it your whole life. It is perfectly acceptable to conclude that you are oily in some places and dry in others. Pony up and get two kinds of lotion or skin cream. Read the labels and apply accordingly. [The labels say whether they are for oily or dry skin.] Don't get something that smells flowery.
Check your body out. Buy a hand held mirror if you do not have a full length one. You think she doesn't notice if she gets a new growth, a new mole, a new zit, an in-grown hair? Want to look great yourself, than you should notice too. Not to mention sometimes these are the warning signs to other things that are much more treatable if you catch them earlier.
Body maintenance. Make it a norm. Take a baby aspirin on the days you're not drinking, and/or before intense exercise. Get some intense exercise at least once a week. Take walks when you can't mix in any other exercise. Stretch as often as you can. Find a partner and have sex. Love thine ownself. Body and soul. Love and care for your body. We all have but a precious one. Wash regularly, smelling good is très important.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
You may, dear readers, remember this author and Clarion Content guest columnist, one of Durham's own, from his on-going work of meta-fiction. The hilarious and wildly popular, The Unauthorized Autobiography of G.Ia.M'Rock. Read the old chapters here. Today he brings you a piece in the manner of practical advice. Listen up, fellas.
There may be exaggerations in this article. There, I've warned you. Every man needs certain, specific and different items to speed him on his way through life. And while I might cast all of these items as 'must-haves,' obviously the need is less for anyone living in a city where a car is not a constant companion. My readers in New York, DC, Chicago, and Boston may heartily disregard this advice, and know that they are in situations where the needs of a given moment are not constrained by either their reliance on a car, or the possibility of being stranded without any more supplies that might be ready to hand.
That being said, I do think that the contents of the glove box of any vehicle, for a man who relies on his car, ought to be carefully considered, and thoughtfully arranged. For your average man, living in your average city (and I consider my current hometown of Durham, NC, population~200K to be an average city,) a car is not only an indispensable tool, but also a source of refuge. It gets you to work. It is helpful getting the groceries home. It saves you the cost of a cab most places you wish to go. And it occasionally serves as a comfortable sleeping place when you've had enough to drink, and have spent the contents of your wallet such that the aforementioned cab is not necessarily possible.
So let me begin with suggesting that you look into your glove compartment. You'll likely see a few cigarette butts, McDonald's wrappers and some ketchup packets. The leatherbound folder containing the user's manual and a three year old copy of an insurance verification. Oh, yes, plus that copy of a map detailing a portion of the country that you once visited back in 1998, and would never go back to again. Perhaps, if you think you're witty, there will be a glove. When you break down in the middle of the highway hours away from home, your cellphone out of juice, you're screwed. It really doesn't need to be that way. Empty out that little trash midden and replace your little 1'x1'x6" box with some lifesaving materials.
1) A copy of your license, registration, and proof of insurance. Even if you keep your license in your wallet, which is always in your back pocket, there's going to be that one time where you forget your wallet. Perhaps while driving to the store to pick up a bottle of champagne to make mimosas for some lady you're attempting to impress the morning after some disappointing sex. If you can't get a legal second license in your state (North Carolina being one of those,) a photostat of the same will give the officer at that 6AM checkpoint enough information that he can run your records and perhaps let you off with a warning. If a friend borrows your car, it's always good for him to find a little folder with these items on top, just on the off chance he runs a red light, so that he doesn't wind up on jail for lack of proof of insurance. And if you leave your car in the wrong place, many states will require copies of all three of these in order to get your car out of impound. It's always easier to ask for access to your car than to have to rush back home to find a secondary copy.
2) A flashlight. This doesn't need to be a four-foot Maglite suited for bashing the brains of a bear. Find a little six inch flashlight at any convenience store, throw a couple of AA batteries in it, and forget about it. When you get a flat tire at 2AM, it's significantly easier to change your tire when you can see what you're getting at. Similarly, any time you need something else in the glovebox or your car, it's always fantastic to have a little flashlight around to shed a little light on the subject. That jerk you see next to you in the parking lot with his ass hanging out of the car, scraping around for a quarter to feed the meter? He didn't put a flashlight in his glovebox.
3) A tire gauge and a rag. If you own a car, you need to have these two things. Might as well have them in a convenient location. Every time you fill up your gas tank, go around all four tires and make sure they're filled to the proper pressure. Then go check your oil dipstick. Doing these two things will extend the life of your vehicle, as well as increase your gas mileage, which is why I tie them into filling up my car. The total cost of the pair, at the local Autozone, is $.84. The cost of a new set of tires, or a new engine, significantly more. This is one of those seemingly silly little things your Dad told you to do when you bought your first car that is totally worth it. Taking your car out for a long trip to 'blow out the crud on the plugs' is not. If you don't know how to check your tire pressure or your oil with these two items, call Dad. He missed a few things in your 'being a man' talk.
4) A Swiss Army Knife. This doesn't have to be a branded: Wegner or Victorinox. I'm just talking about any multitool utility knife: SAK, Leatherman, or otherwise. When you forget to pack a corkscrew for a picnic, having one of these in the glovebox changes a day without wine into a two minute inconvenience. Bought a new CD and want to listen to it on the ride home? The gentleman with a knife in the car is on his way in seconds, while the schlub without spends ten minutes and gains a chipped tooth opening up the package. The one I keep in my glove compartment was a Employee Appreciation gift from a past job, and includes a little flashlight on the end, completing requirement 2 above. If someone breaks into my car and steals it, I'm out about $5 at the local gas station to get a new one. Multiple tools will solve multiple problems, any day.
5) A Map of your Hometown. Even if you've lived there all your life, I promise that there's at least one street that you don't know the location of. And, at some point, that street is going to be the location of a happening party. Toss this item in the very back of the glove compartment, and forget about it. One day, you're going to be in some strange part of town and desperate to know the fastest route to the highway. You're saved!
6) Beef Jerky. Everyone takes a road trip once in a while. If you haven't, get out and live more. When you do, there's likely to be some time where you're a little bit hungry, but there's no reason to stop for gas (and the ensuing fast food stop.) Keeping some food in your glove compartment will keep you from having to pull over for a while. I recommend jerky because it keeps forever, and while it might get a little bit less delectable, it stays edible for years at a time. If, for some reason, you get completely stranded, having a small amount of food on you can be the difference between sanely staying where you are and a death-hike into the wilderness. Now, if you're a vegetarian, or just hate jerky, let me suggest sunflower seeds instead. Or perhaps salted peanuts. Proteins will fill you up much faster and longer than any other sort of food. If you've got some high-carb, high-fat Cheetos in the car, you'll be hungry in an hour even if your body can absorb just as many calories from them. Proteins will keep your stomach satiated for up to five times as long.
6) A three-pack of condoms. So you've had an enjoyable night with a young lady. You make your way to her house, but as you pull up in the driveway, you realize that you haven't packed any rubbers. You can either go with that one you've kept in your wallet (and your butt-heat has reduced the effectiveness of) or you can just chastely kiss her on the cheek goodnight. Ah-ha! Joy! You recall that you've kept some high quality (don't count on those Lifestyles you got from Planned Parenthood, get some Trojans, lad) condoms in the car.
7) A $20 bill. Cash is king. Even if your situation is dire, i.e. you're broke, you should be able to throw together $20, and that's a fine nugget to be stocked away for future risks. $20 can buy you a pint of oil, a few gallons of gas, or perhaps pay off a bouncer getting you into that club, without having to find a cash machine. An ATM card, these days, will get you most places. In case of emergency, an Andrew Jackson will get you into the rest.
You might find, after stocking your glove compartment with the aforementioned items, that you've got some extra room. And, definitely, there's some other things that may be helpful in an emergency that you'd love to have in your car. Just remember that the more you put into any given place, the more difficult it will be to find the right things in an emergency. So keep the blanket (useful for keeping warm, or providing traction in ice), flares (useful for signaling for help or for the Fourth of July) and the tire iron (useful for getting your wheels off or for beating in the head of an obnoxious motorist) in the trunk. The glove compartment is devised for those items which are both small and useful in many situations.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The amateur cameraman is waiting on the street ala the paparazzi and asks, "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?"
This question irritates the Congressman and he demands to know the video cameramen are. He repeats the question several times as they refuse to answer. He attempts to swat the camera out of his face unsuccessfully, then gets even more aggressive. The tape shows Representative Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat, holding the young man by the wrist and grabbing him by the back of the neck.
Did the Congressman get ambushed? Yes. Did he overreact? Yes. This is the logical extension of what happens to public discourse when America plays gotcha politics. We can all get in the sewer together or we can all climb out of the sewer together.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Sea shaped Silly Bandz
There are literally hundreds of other shapes...
You may not have even had an opportunity to hear about the latest craze of the tweens and their younger siblings, Silly Bandz, and already these fantastically shaped, stretchy, colorful bracelets are being banned from schools. Silly Bandz are rubber band–like silicone bracelets, which sell for about $5 bucks per pack of twenty-four. [Imagine the killing they are making on those?!?] Elementary schools in Raleigh, NC have already started to ban the latest craze as a distraction to kids' learning, which, of course, only insures their popularity will continue to increase.
According to Yahoo, BCP Import, a small business in Toledo, Ohio, is behind the bracelets. It was hardly prepared for the fad frenzy. It has increased its team from twenty employees to 200 during the past year and added twenty-two phone lines to keep up with inquiries. Yahoo also reports that Macy's is considering a Silly Bandz float in this year's Thanksgiving parade. Although Silly Bandz have been available for two years, Yahoo estimates the tipping point was only about a year ago.
Labels: Pop Culture
Kind of a catchy tune.
The Clarion Content saw a note that caught our eye this afternoon while reading David Brooks on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times. Brooks was discussing the effects of the economic stimulus package on the American economy and employment. He was defending debt reduction as the urgent priority now. The Clarion Content is not so sure.
Regardless, we were fascinated to see this tidbit about the nature of employment loss during the current economic turbulence, "According to a Hamilton Project/Center for American Progress study by MIT economics professor, David Autor, high-skill sectors saw no net loss of jobs during the recession. Middle-skill sectors like sales saw an 8 percent employment decline. Blue-collar jobs fell by 16 percent."
Brilliant, but controversial political theorist, Jeremy Rifkin was predicting this sort of employment shakeout in America all the way back in the first term of the Clinton administration. His book The End of Work, agree or disagree, should be mandatory reading for American policymakers today. It is, if hyperbolic, eye-opening.
The Clarion Content would argue that one way to address these unemployment trends, which are likely to whip up tremendous social tension if ignored, is to allow lots of legal immigration, priming the economic pump from the bottom upward.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The BCS was always BS...
Talk of the consolidation of college football's major conferences has been all the rage this week. Today it looks as if it is becoming official, with University of Colorado's announcement that it is joining the PAC-10 and the University of Nebraska announcement that it is bolting the Big 12 for the Big 10. This will very quickly make the Big 12 no mas, as most of the remaining teams will seize the opportunity to make the PAC-10 a sixteen team league.
As wily observers know this is all about the haves and have-nots amongst the college football power players. The expansion of PAC-10 to a sixteen team league will be followed in short order by the Big-10 and SEC expanding to sixteen team leagues. The ACC will also be reluctantly forced to do so to ally with the college football superpowers. This will allow these four conferences to sideline the NCAA, as well as the BCS and have their own college football playoff. It is all about the dead presidents and there is no reason for the college football programs with the juice to split the Division I-A college football revenue pie one-hundred and eleven ways when they can reduce that split to sixty-four.
There is an interesting analysis about how this came about by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports here. However that is looking backward, the Clarion Content is more fascinated by how things will turn out going forward. Our prediction is it will not be long before the Big East is a basketball only league again. Villanova, St. John's and Georgetown will not mind. The question is what happens to the storied and not so storied programs from the current BCS conferences that end up on the outside looking in at the money. Our speculation on the schools that might end up on that list would include Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and UConn. These schools along with the already jilted: Utah, Utah State, Boise State and Fresno States of the world may be made enough to actually get congressional action this time.
Have the college football commissioners warned the university presidents that their radical schemes for the future might bring about anti-trust lawsuits and Department of Justice maneuvering. President Obama signaled way back in the election campaign that he was pro-college football playoff, but by any means necessary?
The Clarion Content is pro-college football playoff too, but it is easy to feel genuine concern that money has distorted the system so badly that these schools are losing track of their education mission to their student bodies and their duty to the college athlete. And maybe this was already so under the corrupt and co-opted NCAA, but will this consolidation make it any better? Quien sabe?
We walked by this beauty on Main Street in Durham, NC out in front of the Federal. It was in a great shape. Pity our photog didn't have a better camera with them.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
A typical celebratory mob forming
The California Angels have ripped a page straight out of the French social anthropologist Émile Durkheim's proverbial manual on the power of collective ritual. Last week the Angels were celebrating a walk-off home run in what has become the style. They were pounding the home run hitting teammate on the noggin, shoulders, and upper body, in a veritable mosh pit around home plate. Star first baseman Kendry Morales slipped and broke his leg during the collective celebration ritual of an exciting win.
A funny thing happened after that, despite Morales leading the team in home runs, runs batted in and average before getting hurt, the Angels increased their offensive production. They have won seven of eight while scoring an average of 7.25 runs per game. This is well up from their heretofore paltry, for the American League, 4.35 runs per game. They have slugged thirteen homers in those eight contests and are hitting .303 as a team since Morales got hurt.
It says here that, this is a classic case of the power of ritual to collectively raise the abilities of all members who participate. [Belief helps.] The California Angels as a team joined in a celebratory dance in which Morales was severely, if accidentally, injured. The team likely felt a collective guilt for this injury. In the video replays it is quite difficult to assess blame for the injury individually. These players participated in the ritual that created a problem for their teammate and theoretically their team. They could not undo what was done to their teammate, but they could channel their collective psyche and its powerful response (exponentially powerful as Durkheim would tell it by the relative unanimity of emotional experience).
They did so on the field, tearing the cover off the ball, like a team possessed by a spirit. Who would have thunk a French social anthropologist could have told you so?
Saturday, June 05, 2010
The Supreme Court in a controversial 5-4 decision, that highlighted the importance of Presidential elections that determine Supreme Court nominees, backed away from strict enforcement of Miranda Rights last week. Miranda Rights refer to rights specifically outlined in the United States Constitution that a criminal suspect may or not be aware they have.
The Miranda warning is so standard in United States criminal procedure that many of us are familiar with its basic form from television and the movies, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense."
The Supreme Court having long held that the "burden rests on the government" to show that a crime suspect had "knowingly and intelligently waived" his rights changed its position. The Court, packed with appointments made by King George the II, ruled in favor of coercive interrogation. (Clearly a policy the Bush-Cheney regime favored.) The Court decided that a suspect's words can be used against him if he fails to clearly tell police that he does not want to talk. The police are no longer required to get a statement of the subject's waiver of their right to remain silent before interrogating him.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the ruling "turns Miranda upside down" and "marks a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination."
One more step towards the Sovietizing of the United States.
Labels: constitutional issues
Friday, June 04, 2010
The piece is from a blog haughtily titled, God's Politics. Nonetheless it is surely food for thought...
Here is an excerpt that made us think
I am...reminded of what G.K. Chesterton once said when asked what was most wrong with the world. He reportedly replied, “I am.” Already, we are hearing some deeper reflection on the meaning of this daily disaster. Almost everyone now apparently agrees with the new direction of a “clean energy economy.” And we know that will require a re-wiring of the energy grid (which many hope BP will have no part in). But it will also require a re-wiring of ourselves -- our demands, requirements, and insatiable desires. Our oil addiction has led us to environmental destruction, endless wars, and the sacrifice of young lives, and it has put our very souls in jeopardy. New York Times columnist Tom Freidman recently wondered about the deeper meaning of the Great Recession when he asked, “What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last fifty years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall -- when Mother Nature and the market both said, ‘No More.’” The Great Spill makes the point even more.
Read the whole article here.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
A hero to tell the kiddies about, Armando Galarraga...
At the Clarion Content we ask the Sports Editor not to get too philosophical, but sometimes it is inevitable. Sports are a microcosm of society and they are part of the arena in which we address, debate and come to understand important moral dilemmas for stakes lower than life and death.
Last night was such an example, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game. The centerfielder Austin Jackson had just made a dandy defensive play, retiring the leadoff hitter in the ninth with a superb running catch almost at the wall, to preserve the perfect game. One out later a routine groundball to the firstbaseman, who fired to Galarraga covering. Ball game! Perfection! First time ever three perfect games had been thrown in one season, or so we might have thought.
Unfortunately, the first base umpire, Jim Joyce blew the call. He ruled the runner safe, when instant replay clearly showed that Galarraga nipped him at the bag. Perhaps, Joyce was fooled by a slight bobble on the catch muffling the usual thwack into the glove. No matter, the reality is simply that he made a mistake.
And this is where the philosophy comes in, the Clarion Content holds that, as we understand the nature of things, there can be a maximum of one perfection in the Universe. Joyce did nothing wrong. (Morally, accidents are not wrongs.) He showed that he was human like we all are. Publicly, in a society with omnipresent 24/7 media coverage. Galarraga handled the situation so graciously after the game, accepting Joyce's apology with class and dignity. He could not have handled the situation better. He had achieved baseball immortality either way: a perfect game or the most widely footnoted non-perfect game this side of Harvey Haddix's twelve miraculous innings. He said someday he would show his son a tape of the game and be just as proud.
This was what the experts like to call "teachable moment." Nobody is perfect, we all err, and to admit your wrongs (like umpire Joyce did immediately after seeing the replay) and forgive (like Tigers' pitcher Andres a Galarraga) is what makes us the best we can be. The best we can be is human beings as fallible. It is a terminal condition we all share. None of us perfect. None of us as immortal. At our highest heights, and this was certainly the biggest moment of Galarraga's career, the best we can be is humble and gracious.
de la Rocha
The Clarion Content is vehemently opposed to the new Arizona law, allowing the state to demand papers at simply traffic stops. It is entirely to Soviet for our liking. As such we were glad to read in the BBC that a group of musicians called The Sound Strike led by Los Angeles rockers Rage Against The Machine and including Cypress Hill, Massive Attack and System Of A Down's Serj Tankian, are boycotting performing shows in Arizona until law SB 1070 is amended.
The BBC quoted Rage Against The Machine's lead singer Zacarías Manuel de la Rocha, "Some of us grew up dealing with racial profiling, but this law takes it to a whole new low."
Glad to hear the artists speaking out and using what financial clout that they have.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
During my stay in Ethiopia, I got to venture out of Addis Ababa for one day to visit Adama. Addis is the capital and largest city in Ethiopia (population ~5 million), and is sometimes referred to as the “the political capital of Africa”, as the African Union is headquartered there and the city holds cultural and historical significance for the continent. It was welcome break from the smog, the traffic, and the hustle for one day. But most importantly, it was a relief to get away from all the bustle, which had grown particularly tiresome.
Some mountains and rural countryside in the Great Rift Valley.
Adama is the third largest city in Ethiopia, about 90km to the southeast of Addis. My driver was a true professional who used to work for the extravagant Sheraton Hotel, preferred accommodations for international dignitaries and NGOs in Ethiopia. Now he drives international travelers strictly on a referral basis, and he once drove President Clinton on one of his visits to Addis with the Clinton Foundation. The drive to Adama is two hours each way. During the four hours on the road I had the chance to learn a lot about Ethiopia from the driver, who showed immense patience with my thorough lines of interrogation.
An Ethiopian Orthodox church in Adama.
The Djibouti Road took us through the Rift Valley to Adama through some rural countryside. The road is so-called because it connects Addis to the port city of Djibouti, Djibouti, roughly nine hours away. Ethiopia is landlocked, with three bordering coastal countries to the east: Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. Relations with Eritrea and Somalia are strained, and in the case of Eritrea’s, there has been border disputes going on with Ethiopia since Eritrea split away from Ethiopia in the early 90s. Consequently, all of the international goods imported into Addis come in via the port of Djibouti and the Djibouti Road. The road will accommodate roughly three or four lanes of travel in most places, but there is no barrier separating the directions of travel, and in most places no lines either. Passing sometimes resembles a game of chicken, and there are many auto accidents on the road, especially at night.
This is some video I shot while we traveled down the Djibouti Road. It gives a pretty good idea of the typical road width and passing conditions.
Contributing to the danger on the Djibouti is the pressure many drivers are under. Nearly all of the trucks used for transporting produce are not refrigerated, so if perishable goods have to make a lengthy trip in a hot car, it behooves the driver to deliver the cargo to a refrigerator in Addis in a timely manner. Many of the drivers who are transporting the perishables drive a particular model of Isuzu pickup truck, so my driver let me know he has to be on guard for aggressive or “greedy” driving from these cars.
Not all of the produce in question is fruits and vegetables. One of Ethiopia’s major exports is khat, a leafy shrub. When chewed, it acts as a stimulant with mild narcotic properties. It is legal to grow and use in Ethiopia, though it’s not legal in the US, Canada, and some other countries. It’s popular to use in numerous countries, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, and the UK, where some legislators have been working to ban the drug. Growing and selling khat as a cash crop has certainly helped Ethiopia’s economy in some ways, though it has some drawbacks, including additional danger on the Djibouti Road. Drivers will often move the crop at night, as it is perishable and the roads are less crowded at night. Sometimes they chew the khat to keep them awake at night, and the khat can keep them awake on the road for up to four or five days straight to move more cargo. The problems can arise when drivers without proper rest eventually fall asleep at the wheel, leading to dangerous accidents that can claim lives and slow down trade on the Djibouti Road, the artery of Addis Ababa.