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Friday, October 29, 2010

Another Whistleblower punished 

It has long been the Clarion Content's contention that America hates the whistleblower. It is one of the tragedies inherent in capitalism. The whistleblower is viewed as a downer, a party-pooper, somebody who refuses to get with the program.

We have another poignant, sad, story of a whistleblower who would not do what the program wanted her to do, specifically the State University of New York at Binghamton's basketball program wanted her to do. Change player's grades to make them eligible to compete. The New York Times reports that Sally Dear, an adjunct lecturer at the university, said the fallout of the scandal had deeply wounder her and continued to affect her. She has stated publicly that she received so much pressure to change her grading policy for basketball players that it bordered on harassment.

As the scandal has enveloped the university how has it played out?

The university paid a $1.2 million settlement to former basketball coach Kevin Broadus to resign. Broadus will receive $819,115 from the Binghamton athletic department and $380,884 from the general fund of the State University of New York. The payment exceeds the value of Broadus’s remaining contract and requires him to withdraw the racial discrimination lawsuit he filed in March and to relinquish his right to any other claims against the university.

Professor Dear? No million dollar payments to her for calling the basketball program on its cheating. Instead, she said in a recent telephone interview with the NY Times that she has not been assigned to teach classes next semester. Punished.

During Coach Broadus's brief tenure six players were dismissed from the team, including one who was busted selling crack. One player was allowed in consecutive semester's to take sixteen and then twelve credits of Physical Education, when the maximum in the second semester should have been two credits. The scandal forced the university's Provost to step down.

How does Professor Dear feel about all of this mess? She told the NY Times, "This is why people don’t blow the whistle. I understand. In my heart and in my gut and every fiber of my being I understand why people don’t blow the whistle, why people are afraid to tell the truth. My life has been a living hell since all this took place."

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Connected shootings... 

The FBI has announced that it believes that three Washington, D.C. area shootings were connected. A domestic terrorism investigation is underway and all ranges of motives are being considered.

The first shooting targeted the National Museum of the Marine Corps October 17th. The Washington Post reports that a cleaning crew discovered bullet holes in upper-level windows at the museum. The next incident took place at the Pentagon. October 19th, audible shots were reported in a Pentagon parking lot area around 4:30 a.m. Two windows of unoccupied rooms at the Pentagon were hit. Evidence of a third shooting was discovered at a Marine Corps recruiting office in Fairfax County, Virginia yesterday. The recruiting station, like the Pentagon offices and the museum in the middle of the night, was unoccupied.

The shooter's motives, goals and message remain unclear. Authorities have said that the attacks essentially amount to vandalism, but that they are troubling and mysterious. Ballistics tests have confirmed the first two shootings were related. Tests from the Marine Corps recruiting office are on-going.


Drill, Alaska? A reality check. 

The U.S. Geological Survey issued a reality check to those who think that United States can get by without foreign oil. Mind you, those who think U.S. oil resources are/were sufficient are in a special minority of dreamers, right there with those who still think the Earth is the center of the universe and the tooth fairy is real.

Despite the fact that these folks aren't the sort to be swayed by facts or numbers, it cannot help their cause that the U.S. Geological Survey revised the amount of untapped oil reserves that it estimates are in Alaska and its waters down by 90% this week.

The Survey group's new estimate is 896 million barrels of oil are in the reserve, approximately 90% less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels. The good news natural gas reserve estimates were revised upward from 8 trillion cubic feet of gas to 61 trillion cubic feet gas.

Side note, the United States desperately needs more liquefied natural gas terminals. Imagine an America willing to invest in its infrastructure. Too bad, it is a dream, not a reality.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can the Tea Party get out the vote? 

The Los Angeles Times ran an article this morning asking that very question. In their view, the answer is unclear. They report that, "Up to now, the emphasis on the right has been on television ads, and conservative groups — including American Crossroads, founded in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove — have dominated...the push to get the nation's conservative voters to the polls is fractured and untested, with some "tea party" activists refusing to cooperate with more mainstream Republicans, in contrast to the unified and well-organized parallel effort by unions and Democrats, according to key players on both sides."

Is this for real? Or are they just trying to get their side hyped up?

It has long been the Clarion Content's contention that the media is missing the point when they say there has been a massive shift toward the Republicans this election cycle. We heartily disagree. There is simply much of the same simmering discontent that has been present for the last several election cycles. There is a massive undercurrent of unrest in American that spans the political spectrum. It has been seen through insurgent candidacies in both parties: from Howard Dean through Obama to Sarah Palin, the parameters have remained essentially the same even as the particulars have differed.

Will the Tea Party produce a big early fizz followed by a small pop, ala Howard Dean? Or will they have more of an Obama-scale effect?

The Clarion Content is now betting on big Republican gains in the House, enough to net a 20+ seat majority, while the Democrats hold on to the Senate by 2 to 4 seats.

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2010 NC Latin American Film Festival 

The 22nd Annual North Carolina Latin American Film Festival kicks off this coming Monday, November 1st. The opening film will be screened at Durham's Carolina Theater. It is called "Brother Towns or Pueblos Hermanos." It was made by Duke's Charlie Thompson and Michael Davey, filmed in both America and Guatemala. It follows two different towns, Jacaltenango, a Guatemalan highland Maya town and Jupiter, Florida, a coastal resort town connected through a web of immigration, family and work.

Films will be screened though November 20th in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Raleigh and Greensboro. All are free and open to the public. Some of the highlights include:
• “The Two Escobars” by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (USA/Colombia, 2010)

• “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” by Juan Jose Campanella (Argentina, 2009)

• “Chigualeros” by Alex Schlenker (Ecuador, 2009)

• “Crude: the real price of oil” by Joe Berlinger (USA/Ecuador, 2009)

• “Terras” by Maya Da-rin (Brazil, 2009)
Follow this link to the festival's official website.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mac Envy 

We loved the Urban Dictionary definition of the day yesterday. The word phrase was "Mac envy." Defined as, "a state of mind in which a PC owner realizes his computer sucks, then is immediately jealous of all his Mac-owning friends."


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Friday, October 22, 2010

Sexpresso, really? 

This is what selling coffee looks like in Washington state?!?

What won't they do to sell something to the American public? We came across this item in the Nation's Restaurant News earlier in the week. "Baristas Coffee Company Inc., a small chain of drive-thru espresso stands featuring female employees in skimpy costumes, opened its new flagship store in Kent, WA...BCCI has a total of six company-owned locations in Washington state."

Apparently, they are part of an existing Sexpresso industry in the Pacific Northwest. There is also Cowgirls Espresso of Arlington, WA which offers bikini and theme-costume-wearing female employees at twelve stands operated by Cowgirls Franchising LLCA and another ten by franchisees. There are also three Chicka Latte Beautiful Coffee of Seattle, which partners with a clothing company to sell the lingerie and provocative costumes worn by its staff.

Some of the Sexpresso industry has gotten in trouble. In September 2009, local law enforcement officials in Everett, WA arrested five female baristas from Grab-N-Go Espresso and charged them with prostitution and violations of the city’s adult entertainment ordinance.

This is not to mention the dangerous combination of skimpy clothing and burning hot beverages.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The degeneration of the American Male 

The Clarion Content is not typically a fan of Bill Maher. We have no truck with the man, rather we have been little exposed, and have hardly encountered his work. We came across a most fascinating piece of his the other day on the Huffington Post.

The thesis, tongue only partially in cheek, is that white American males are really who is dragging the country into the toilet. There is a deterioration in the morality of America. Standards for civility have dropped off of the proverbial cliff. Maher uses Brett Favre's recent scandal as his whipping post, but he could have easily picked from half a hundred others.

He says that the white American male is threatened by the surge of immigration in the last thirty years that has left them heading towards a plurality with African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. As Maher puts it, "the president is black, and the best golfer is black, and the Secretary of State is a woman, and suddenly this country is way off track and needs some serious restoring."

Next, he flips this white male degeneration around and attributes to it the popularity of "Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Michele Bachmann; the lovely MILFs of the new right.." He goes on to put this popularity in context, "...and their little secret is that their popularity comes exclusively from white men. Look at the polling: minorities hate them, women hate them -- only white men like them. I'm no psychiatrist, but I do own a couch, and my theory is that these women represent something those men miss dearly: the traditional, idiot housewife...If an election between Obama and Sarah Palin were held today, and only white men could vote, Sarah Palin would be president."

An eyeopening social cultural perspective that dances on the nexus where the humorous, the absurd and the real meet. Good work, Bill Maher. Check it out here.

Incidentally another writer who works a fascinating pop cultural nexus is Stephen Marche. His brilliant "1,000 words About Our Culture" column can be found here at Esquire. Check him out!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cablevision and Fox go toe to toe 

The pipes versus the content. In this case, the pipes are represented by Cablevision, provider of cable television and internet connection services in the New York area. The content is represented by the Fox network owned by News Corporation. Billionaires with agendas on both sides to be sure, massive corporations with lots at stake.

What is the dispute you ask? Fox, like the other networks: ABC, CBS and NBC, has long given its content to the cable television providers for free. Why not? Fox, like the other networks, broadcasts its content for free over the airwaves. Back in the day, people used to commonly receive it on antennas for free.

In recent years, as the antennae using public has dwindled to near nil, the networks have been trying to charge retransmission fees to the cable provider companies: Cablevision, Time Warner, Comcast, etc. (pipes), fees which mimic the fees that cable television networks: ESPN, TBS, MTV, etc. (content) charge cable television distributors (pipes) for their programming.

The fight over Fox~News Corporation trying to charge these fees to Cablevision has caused an already four day long shutdown of Fox's programming to Cablevision subscribers. Fox reportedly wants $1.00 per subscriber. This has meant no network TV Shows, no National League Championships Series' games, and no Sunday Giants football for more than three million irritated subscribers in the New York area. This is the single largest corporate battle in this arena to date. Previously, Walt Disney Company and Cablevision had brawled over fees for the ABC network, culminating in a twenty hour content cutoff that briefly interrupted the Academy Awards.

In the current dispute, yesterday, day four, Fox~News Corporation signaled a potential lateral escalation when it blocked Cablevision's customers from being able to view Fox content on Fox.com or Hulu.com. The blockade, which further mocked the concept of net neutrality, was quickly withdrawn when News Corporation realized that by blocking Cablevision subscribers’ computers (pipes) it was also blocking some people who pay Cablevision for Internet service only, including consumers who pay competitors like DirecTV for television.

The government would love to get involved. The chairman of the FCC issued a statement. Senator John Kerry threatened some wafflely and likely useless legislation.

The super short summary for the average person; network television is not free, cable distributors are going to pass the costs along to you and don't count on making an end around on the internet, either.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baby Talk 

This is something the intuitive have known for a long time. Baby's brains are ready and open for business from a very young age. Baby talk is the foundation of language. It is how babies practice and imitate the adults around them. Ask a smart parent, they will tell you.

The scientists are catching on, too. M.D. Perri Klass in the New York Times, "Babble is increasingly being understood as an essential precursor to speech, and as a key predictor of both cognitive and social emotional development."

What is more interesting is first-year babies all over the world babble in similar ways, but during their second year, toddlers mold their sounds into the words of their native tongues.

This has implications for linguistics that stretch from the Biblical Tower of Babble story to the co-development of the human species.

For parents this is a reminder to talk to your kids even from the youngest age. Scientists' research indicates that babble has cognition in common with questions. Babies' brains are open for reception when they are babbling along in baby talk. Research also suggests that the television and the computer don't substitute for human interaction when it comes to language learning. Babies are picking up on facial clues and gestures as an essential part of their language skill development.

The New York Times reports that a baby hears much of language and is able to differentiate well before it can reproduce the same range of sounds. The experiments argue that a baby’s vocalizations signal a state of focused attention and a readiness to learn. When parents respond to babble by naming the object at hand babies are more likely to learn words.

This kind of linguistic and neurological digging is a wonderful nexus for people to understand our common humanity. And a great reason to start talking to your kids as early as you can.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Facebook, not so private 

This is not really news. The Clarion Content has been covering for years now the ways in which Facebook exploits the information it collects about its users. Facebook collects this information with or without the user's consent. This week the Wall Street Journal highlighted another way that Facebook can and does take advantage of users.

Facebook applications like FarmVille, Quiz Maker, Texas Hold'em, and Frontierville, to name but a few, have shared tens of millions of Facebook users' personal information to third-party advertisers without users' consent. The Wall Street Journal reports,
"The information being transmitted is one of Facebook's basic building blocks: the unique 'Facebook ID' number assigned to every user on the site. Since a Facebook user ID is a public part of any Facebook profile, anyone can use an ID number to look up a person's name, using a standard Web browser, even if that person has set all of his or her Facebook information to be private. For other users, the Facebook ID reveals information they have set to share with 'everyone,' including age, residence, occupation and photos.

The apps reviewed by the Journal were sending Facebook ID numbers to at least 25 advertising and data firms, several of which build profiles of Internet users by tracking their online activities."
Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explained to MSNBC why this is a nightmarish problem,
"Apps help advertising companies track users and create a very sensitive dossier of your interests, all with the constant reassurance that your real identity is protected. By handing over Facebook user IDs, apps enable advertisers to tie your real name and identity, so these behavior advertising companies have detailed information about you, and now they have a real name to put to those logs."
Facebook is not worried, nor in any hurry to deal with these concerns. After all, selling this kind of data about its users is Facebook's lifeblood. It is how they make their money. A Facebook spokesperson pandered to the Wall Street Journal's points without saying anything substantial about changes it intended to implement, "This is an even more complicated technical challenge than a similar issue we successfully addressed last spring on Facebook.com, but one that we are committed to addressing."

Paraphrased that reads, "Yeah, uh, we will get right on that. Thanks."

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Not polling cellphone users 

Nate Silver

We saw a interesting note from Nate Silver, a baseball guy, a statistician and pollster that the Clarion Content has been following for some time. Silver, once an independent blogger, has recently been hired by the New York Times.

Try not to hold it against him, he still unearths some fascinating data. For example, last week he held forth on the effect on polling of the exclusively cellphone demographic. At least 25% of Americans no longer have landlines; of course, these folks tend to skew tech savvy and younger. Strangely enough, many American polling companies do not do any surveying of the only cellphone using set at all, dialing up only landlines.

None! Egad, a remarkable oversight.

Good catch, Nate. The answer of the pollsters is that they use demographic weighting to make up for the underrepresented. As Silver points out, "It’s always been harder to get men on the phone then women, younger people than older people, blacks and Hispanics than whites." However, Silver points to new study by the renown Pew Research suggesting that bias remains even after demographic weighting is applied. According to Pew the effect of the failure to include cellphones may result in a four percentage point bias against Democrats on the generic ballot.

Read the whole article here.

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OK Cupid Sex Survey 

Not sure how many of you, dear readers, are familiar with the on-line dating service called OK Cupid. It is definitely a popular alternative, especially among the younger set, to Match.com and E-Harmony.

One of our newest Durhamanians recently emailed us a link to a fascinating OK Cupid blog piece about gay sexual mores and gay relationships versus straight sexual mores and straight relationships. The data is clearly not scientifically perfect. All data has bias, and this is no exception. What is fascinating about this piece is the huge pool of data OK Cupid had to work with period. 3.2 million users, 4 million match searches and 669 million user answered questions- that is a lot of data.

Read the survey and the accompanying blog piece here at their blog, OK trends.

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What are they watching...Episode XIV 

Our look at what the teens and tweens of America are watching. You may have caught some of our earlier episodes, if not, follow this link and [scroll down]. This one is a remake of the soon to be classic Miley Cyrus tune, "Party in the USA."

These boys really get into the spirit of things.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


People wonder why folks from Jersey have an attitude that can sometimes seem a little harsh, maybe even defensively aggressive, accompanied by bouts of lashing out and attacking, necessary or not...

It is because of videos like this. Jay-Z does a New York song, an inspired masterpiece about a New York state of mind. And some goofball parodies it as a way to knock Jersey.

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Tornadoes in NYC?!? 

Tornadoes ripped through New York last month killing thousands of trees. The Clarion Content was shocked at the bare minimum of ripple this caused in the American media. Tornadoes in New York felt to us like just the kind of thing that the global warming alarmists would seize upon to promote their legislative cause.

While the Clarion Content does not believe that global warming has the capacity to wipe out the planet and its ecosystems, it does have the power to radically reorient them, with the possibility of massive species extinctions in the process. Still the scale of time involved is geologic, this is one of the nexuses where we clash with the global warming lobby. If we had not been raised in the era of The Population Bomb, we might be able to be more sympathetic to the warming tribe's claims that the change is reaching a tipping point, that the time scale is exponential not linear, and we are at the really sharp point of the curve.

This debate aside, we can't believe more people are not howling about tornadoes in New York City. Maybe it was because there were no deaths? But to the Clarion Content's way of thinking, one of the single most effective tactics to convince the masses that urgent reorientation of humanity's treatment of the global ecosystem is necessary, is extreme weather. Extreme weather, volatile weather, atypical weather is among the most convincing of events to people who cannot observe ocean rise or conceptualize ice cap melting.

Tornadoes in New York City feels pretty extreme, pretty volatile to us. While in the same year, Los Angeles sets an all-time high in temperature?

Environmental change is self-evidently happening, but it is always happening. Is something epic or cataclysmic in progress? How fast is the train headed down the tracks? ¿Quién sabe?

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Cool, outer space 

Think it is too hard to figure out anything fun to do with you kids? Well you have got to watch this captioned video from the Brooklyn Space Program!!! These young folks and their parents rigged up a weather balloon with an i-phone and a camera, and you will not believe the footage they got. The balloon made it to approximately 100,000 feet before it burst. The camera survived impact and was recovered.

The seven minute video, found here, is breathtaking. The countdown to launch may be the best part!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the front 

Technology continues to outpace the government's efforts to limit and control knowledge about what is happening on the front lines of War. These two videos are from Afghanistan today, 10/13/10, here and here.

Thanks to Rantburg for the links.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Duke tops $200 million in stimulus grants 

Duke University has reached $200 million in grants from the federal stimulus package, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). According to a Duke University press release, through the end of September Duke had won 360 competitive grants for research and construction totaling $202 million from seven federal agencies. Of course, the lion's share of this money has gone to Duke's hospitals, Duke's Schools of Medicine and Nursing account for $166.3 million of the total.

Duke established a team of four grant administrators to help process more than 1,100 ARRA applications rapidly, and set up special websites and a phone hotline to answer faculty questions.

Duke continues to bring money to Durham. The press release quoted James Siedow, Duke's vice provost for research, "The stimulus funds are doing two things. Near-term, it's about creating jobs and economic activity. Longer term, academic R&D is an investment in American competitiveness." For example, one of the grants awarded $718,000 to Duke to set up a new research center and hire two new faculty to study the biology and culture of addiction and how it might be addressed through public policy. The Department of Energy has given David Beratan's work on solar fuels and next-generation photovoltaics one year of support at $210,000. Computer scientist Jeffrey Chase has received four years of support from the National Science Foundation ($627,000) to improve the reliability and trustworthiness of "cloud computing."

Good things are percolating at Duke.

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Dodgers raising ticket prices 

Like Snoop once said, the McCourts got the mind on the money and the money on the mind...

The Los Angeles Dodgers management must not have been reading the Clarion Content lately. Because despite all we have written about sports comeuppance and the arrogance of ticket pricing in this era and especially in the current economic environment, the Dodgers are raising tickets prices. They are jacking their ticket prices after a losing season.

According to the LA Times, the average single-game ticket will go up to $44.68 next year, from $44.28 this year. A team spokesman, Josh Rawitch, estimated that 60% of ticket prices will remain the same and about 35% of single-game tickets and 20% of season tickets will increase in price. But don't worry Dodger fans the price of the rest, the other 5%, will decrease.

Thanks, Mr. & Mrs. McCourt. The LA Times also reports the Dodgers also will charge a premium for the first row tickets of every section. Too bad nobody's running the team while the McCourt's are destroying each other in divorce court.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Not using our bathrooms 

The Marine Corps Marathon
is in Washington D.C. on Sunday, October 31st. John Stewart and his Comedy Central cohorts "Rally to Restore Sanity" will be using the same area of the National Mall in D.C. the same weekend. Reportedly, this has caused the Marines to put their bathrooms on lockdown.

According to the New York Times, Rick Nealis, the race director for the marathon, said that on October 30th he would put metal padlocks on about 100 portable toilets he was setting up around the Mall for the race day. He was quoted in the NY Times, "I understand that they were having problems ordering Porta Potties, that they might have to go as far as Baltimore to get them, but I just didn’t want to share. It will cost me a few extra pennies, but it’s worth it to know that my runners won’t run out of toilet paper."

Stewart and his team will no doubt get much comedic mileage out of the situation, although they may have to go as far Baltimore to get their own Porta Potties, 217 of them in total, which are required by law to obtain the rally's permits.

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Rangers rookie opens with a hat trick 

The New York Rangers center Derek Stepan scored three goals, a hat trick, in the first game of his career. Stepan, who is twenty, became the fourth player in National Hockey League history to score three goals in his debut. Stepan was captain of the USA gold medal team at the 2010 World Junior Championships, where he led all scorers. The Rangers got a 6-3 win over Buffalo and Vezina Trophy winning goalie Ryan Miller. Read more here in the NY Times sports page.

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West Durham development continues apace 

According to this report on the blog The Bull City Rising, West Durham's development, especially in the area around Duke Hospital, continues to move forward. BCR reports that the land across the street (Kangaroo Drive) from Durham's 27705 Post Office will be developed into an apartment complex adjacent to the Millenium Hotel and the Sandy Creek Greenway.

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Google has designed cars that drive themselves 

Yes, dear readers, you read that correctly. Google has designed cars that drive themselves. As part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) series of autonomous vehicle races, Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon robotics scientist, Mike Montemerlo, senior research engineer in Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Lab, and Anthony Levandowski, a product manager at Google, developed a self-piloting car. This modified Toyota Prius has already logged 140,000 hours on the roads driving the 352 miles between the Google's Mountain View headquarters and its office in Santa Monica with minimal human intervention.

According to Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun, "Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to 'see' other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain."

Read more here in Information Week.

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What they are watching...Episode XII 

Our look at what the teens and tweens of America are watching. You may have caught some of our earlier episodes, if not, follow this link and [scroll down]. This, our latest episode, is more than a little different.

The rumor circulating is that the YouTube hosted video was made by two teens who secretly recorded their friend. Which in light of the recent tragedy at Rutgers University, is a sketchy premise.

In this video, the friend was allegedly tripping on acid and sitting in a closet. His pals recorded his ramblings and wrote some animation to go with the spew. Intriguing and hard to characterize. Edgy. One has to wonder about the consent (even subsequent) of the party involved. Or whether it could have been staged.

Safe for work save for a couple of f-bombs.


Friday, October 08, 2010

Duke F*ckbook follow-up 

Just a brief follow-up about the PowerPoint sexual conquest list published (allegedly accidentally) by a graduating Duke Senior. As we noted in our original piece, several days before the national media descended on Duke and Durham to write their version, the story is so much bigger because the Duke F*ckbook was written by a woman.

There is a double standard for male and female sexual conquest. American society has yet to stop placing women on a pedestal that somehow demands different and more chaste behavior. One might hope in this day and age that we had come further than that. A New York Times piece today recalls a similar scandal that took place at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970's. In this case two women at MIT published a similar rating of the sexual methods and prowess of thirty-six male undergraduates. The report appeared in an alternative campus newspaper as a, "Consumer Guide to M.I.T. Men." The idea was to "turn the tables" and show men how it feels for women to be objectified. The double standard in the guise of the university reared its ugly head and the two women were put on academic probation for 10 months.

Will Duke sanction Karen Owens? We sincerely hope not.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Check out this link 

This is a link to a 3D photograph of Sulfur Canyon in Capital Reef National Park, Utah. The Clarion Content is rarely impressed by anything 3D, but this is pretty jaw-dropping, quite the technological upgrade from a generation past.

Here is a 2D photo.

Looks like a bad ass place to hike. America is beautiful.

Follow this link to the 3D photo. Revolves 360 degrees around the vertical, the horizontal and the skew.

Special thanks to one of our eastern Pennsylvania readers for sending this link our way.

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Baseball playoffs, Round 1 

It is the first time in the playoffs for the dominating Doc Halladay...

The Clarion Content was not and is not a fan of the expanded baseball playoffs. It makes no sense to play 162 games and then a five game series. It devalues the regular season, which is baseball's most unique virtue. Why play 162 games to decide the positioning and only give the better squad a one game advantage, in a sport where home field is not nearly as crucial as it is in some of America's other major sports? Why decide the fate of a season that runs from April to October in five days? With 3% worth of the season's games?

Booooooooooo! The expanded playoffs have deflated the pennant races and produced ridiculous, undeserving champions. Yes, 2006 Cardinals, we are talking about you!!!

But enough, ranting, here are our predictions, in brief, for Round 1.

The American League

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Despite a near no hitter by Cliff Lee in Game 1, the Rays squeak out a win, as David Price matches him strike for strike. This leaves the pitching poor Rangers so demoralized that the Rays sweep. It is too bad the Rangers star and former Rays draft pick, Josh Hamilton, could not be 100% for this series. The Rays despite the best record in the A.L. do not sell-out any home games for this series, prompting further calls for them to move to Durham.

The Minnesota Twins vs. The New York Yankees

The Yanks have owned the Twinkies in recent years and we see no reason for that not to continue, despite the Bronx Bombers suspect starting pitching. The Twins absolutely must beat C.C. Sabbathia in Game 1. When they come up short, they will be swept out again. The Yanks will shell the goldbricking Carl Pavano and the soft tossing Twins starters. Again, it is too bad the Twins are not 100% healthy, missing MVP first baseman, Justin Morneau. Minnesota has lost nine straight postseason games and hasn't won a playoff series since 2002.

The National League

Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

While we both like and respect the Braves future Hall of Fame skipper, Bobby Cox, he has beat the heck out of the Braves bullpen this season. And with the Giants edge in starting pitching, it will be the key difference in a tense low scoring series. The Giants starters are so good, they have an outside shot at winning the whole thing, even with their pop-gun offense. We will delight at watching two terrific rookies, Giants catcher Buster Posey, and the Braves five tool outfielder Jason Heyward.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phils are prohibitive favorites and for good reason. They have the best starting rotation of any team in the postseason. They have three perennial MVP candidates in their infield; Howard, Utley and Rollins. They have won the last two N.L. Pennants and are looking to be the first N.L. team to make back to back to back World Series since the St. Louis Cardinals during WW II. The underrated and under-appreciated Reds manager Dusty Baker has guided his 3rd N.L. squad to the playoffs. The Reds have a nice infield too, led by this year's MVP Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, but it says here they take no more than one game from the Phillies juggernaut.

P.S. While this round could conceivably produce four sweeps, the League Championship series should be dynamite.

P.P.S. There is no way King Felix should win the A.L. Cy Young!!! Just because the morons who vote screwed him last year in favor of Zack "who cares if I win, my WHIP is so low" Greinke, does not justify making the same mistake twice in a row. In the immortal words of Coach Herm Edwards, "You play to win the game!" Statistically starstruck writers who never played the game simply don't get it. It is the same folks who deified Billy Beane despite his A's squads' inability to win so much as a pennant, let alone a World Series. We love King Felix, but it would be a joke. And if you haters want to keep the Cy Young out of the hands of a Yankee, fine. Vote for Clay Buchholz who is also more deserving the Hernandez.

Thank you. That is all. See you next round.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Some things should not be changed 

While staring, befuddled at the new ribbed shape of the Mountain Dew 20 oz. plastic soda bottle today, it occurred to the Clarion Content that some things should not be changed. This is especially true if they worked wonderfully in their status quo format.

The goofy Mountain Dew bottle reminded us of this axiom. But the case in point also comes from the convenience store, it is the king size Snickers bar. Now in two pieces?


Some company executive decided that you should pre-break our candy bars in two for us? Hey genius, people return broken candy bars as defective. What are you doing trying to preempt Super Size Me style class action lawsuits? "Oh no, your honor, our candy bar isn't designed to be eaten all in one session. It is two pieces."

Keep it real. First of all, it is designed to be eaten in one sitting whether you break it in half our not. You just make your loyal clientele feel worse about it by breaking it into two pieces. Plus, it creates an underlying sense of being defrauded. Is that two piece candy bar really the same size as the old king size Snickers? You can tell us it is all day, but it sure does not look or feel like it.

Mr.Mars Executive, quit trying to sell us broken candy bars! Fix the Snickers king size. Things which work really well, should not be changed.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Duke F*ckbook 

This is a surprise. It is emblematic of the multiplier effect of the internet. A Duke student, class of 2010, named Karen Owens created a Power Point presentation detailing graphically the guys she hooked up with in college. She says that she never intended for it to go public. She only forwarded it to three friends. But it has gone viral!

It is all over the internet.

The Clarion Content is headquartered here in Durham, NC. We know from Shooters.

It is our belief that people have collated lists of folks they have had carnal relations with since the beginning of time. Ms. Owens' list is such a salacious scandal because of the prestigious Duke University name attached. (Note: she did not get with any of Coach K's ballplayers.) Duke lacrosse's slimy history and well-deserved reputation also made this story bigger. (Several of her conquests were lacrosse players.)

What should not make the story bigger or more scandalous is the fact that it was conceived of and carried out by a woman. The double standard of women are sluts and men are studs should crumble in the face of this kind of brazen attitude. Women talk about sex, too, her Carrie Bradshaw like manner and voice was the best part of the story.

See the whole Power Point (names redacted) here.

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