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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Ashes, a cricket match? 

Ashley Kerkes is a twenty-two year-old Massachusetts babysitter. Her nickname and her twitter handle, is "The Ashes." Turns out, much to her surprise, this is also the name of the cricket series played between England and Australia. The 66th Ashes series began on Thursday.

Cricket fans on Twitter looking for the series swamped Ms. Kerkes's site. They bombarded her with messages. After issuing a series of polite, confused denials, Ms. Kerkes finally exploded with this Tweet Thursday, "I AM NOT A FREAKING CRICKET MATCH."

Cheeky cricket fans encouraged others to follow her. Her following exploded from 300 to 8,400. According to the Associated Press, "...her attitude appeared to soften [and] by Sunday, she was inquiring about the rules of the centuries-old game."

Again, according to the A.P., this had cricket fans enthused and they started a microblogging campaign called, "Get the Ashes to the Ashes." The Australian airline Quantas stepped in and offered her free plane tickets to Australia. Vodafone Australia has since offered to pay for her match tickets.

The Ashes (Ms. Kerkes) said, "I most certainly would not object to a free trip to Australia!"

Ah, what an era...

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Bomb a nuclear weapons program? 

There is more than one way to bomb a nuclear weapons program, as the CIA and Mossad showed today, allegedly. Twin blasts in Iran killed a top nuclear scientist and maimed another today; unidentified motorcycle riders sped past their vehicles in different parts of the capital Tehran attaching bombs to the windows which detonated seconds later.

Right out of a movie.

Thanks to our friends at Rantburg for the heads up.

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The Birds 

An amazing unscripted video...

Are these birds counting coup?

Certain cats, you don't mess with them.

Thanks to one of our local Durham readers for sending this video our way.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Picasso Trove surfaces 

271 pieces by Pablo Picasso including lithographs, cubist paintings, notebooks and a watercolor from his "Blue Period" have surfaced in the hands of a retired electrician in southern France. Pierre Le Guennec, the electrician, installed burglar alarm systems at Picasso's various houses in France, including his villa in Cannes, during the three years before the artist died in 1973.

Le Guennec says that Picasso gave him the works. Picasso's son claims it is not true, "To give away such a large quantity, that's unheard of. It doesn't add up," he told the French newspaper Liberation. "It was a part of his life."

Police have raided Le Guennec’s home in the Cote d'Azur, seizing him and the art. They have since released him, but the paintings remain secured at the Central Office for the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property on the outskirts of Paris. Reportedly Le Guennec had the works stored in a trunk in his garage.

Le Guennec says he came forward now because he did not want possession of the art work to cause problems for his children.


Monty Burns frog 

An expedition coordinated by Conservation International looking for possibly extinct species of frog instead discovered three new species, two toads and a poison-secreting rocket frog. The expedition to Colombia failed to find the species it was hoping to rediscover, the Mesopotamia beaked toad.

According to the BBC, it did find a 3-4cm red-eyed toad, which was discovered at an altitude of over 6,000 feet. It also encountered a new toad that is also tiny, less than 2cm long. It has a bird beak-shaped head that Dr. Robin Moore, the scientist who led the rediscovery project, compared to the snout of Montgomery Burns.

Read the whole story here in the BBC.

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What small town rule might look like 

Old McAlester High School

Last week the town of McAlester, Oklahoma showed Americans what small town justice might look like, for good and for bad, if left entirely to its own devices. Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas were in town demonstrating at the funeral of Army Sergeant Jason James McCluskey. Westboro church members are infamous for picketing military funerals across the country, spreading their message that "God hates America" because it tolerates homosexuality.

In McAlester, Oklahoma they were jeered and outshouted by a crowd of more than 1,000 people. More than two dozen cops formed a security cordon around the Westboro protesters. In the end they returned to their mini van to discover two of their tires had been slashed. To quote the Tulsa World, "To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police."

Small town justice.

But it today's America, no such option exists. It has been globalized. The tentacles of Empire reach even to McAlester, Oklahoma. The Tulsa World continues..."The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck arrived and loaded up the minivan. Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller said the minivan was taken to Walmart for repairs."

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Bell Labs, an untold story 

Tim Wu, the developer of Net Neutrality theory, has written a fascinatingly little article for io9.com. He documents the interplay between Bell Labs, the government and the profit motive of a corporation. Bell Labs, for some fifty plus years, was one of the preeminent research institutions and facilities in the world. Its scientists garnered seven Noble Prizes. They invented the transistor and Unix. But it was not a public facility, nor a wholly state-owned entity, it was a private actor with its own particular motives.

Wu shows what that wrought, in this brilliant nugget- here.

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No more hiding behind a wall 

The United States Army is deploying a revolutionary new weapon in the endless war in Central Asia. The Army's project manager for the program says it is a game changer. Naturally. It does sound to the Clarion Content like a particularly gruesome tool, as it designed to eliminate the target's ability to hide behind cover.

The weapon is called the XM-25 rifle. It is a programmable rifle that can be set so that its 25 millimeter ammunition rounds detonate either in front of or behind a target. It something like a meld between a rifle and a grenade launcher. Sounds interesting, right? In theory it works like this:
-- A patrol encounters an enemy combatant in a walled village who fires an AK-47 intermittently from behind cover, exposing himself only for a brief second to fire.

-- The patrol's leader calls for the XM25 gunman, who uses the weapon's laser range finder to calculate the distance to the target.

-- He then uses an incremental button located near the trigger to add 1 meter to the round's distance, since the enemy is hiding behind a wall.

-- The round is fired, and it explodes with a blast comparable to a hand grenade past the wall and above the enemy.
It has a range of 2,300 feet.

And somebody is making some green off of these bad boys. They reportedly cost $35,000 per rifle! According to Lt. Colonel Christopher Lehner, the Army is ordering 12,000 of them in the next year, ostensibly enough to have one per Infantry and Special Forces squad deployed in the theater of war.

The era of ducking behind a wall is ending.

Thanks to our friends at Rantburg for the heads up on this one.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Computer, run amok 

Ever wonder about what your computer might be up to when you leave it alone for a long period of time? They warn you that turning the machine on and off is the most stressful part of its life-cycle, so many of us leave our machines running 24/7.

So what do they get up to during that quiet time? We have found anthropomorphism to be a bankrupt concept, because inanimate objects have a mind of their own.

Here is one animator's insight into computer down time.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Truth trumps fiction 

From the "Can you make it up any stranger than that?" files, the Clarion Content ran across story that went beyond the boundaries of bemusing to a more profoundly weird place. It started innocently enough. Firefighters were called to the old George Washington Hotel in Washington, PA, this past weekend. There was a fire in the laundry room Sunday.

The fire crews set about evacuating the hotel, floor by floor. On the fourth floor, they ran into a room with what Washington, PA, Police Chief, J.R. Blyth, would later call the most grisly murder scene he had borne witness to in his thirty-five years in law enforcement. "[There was] blood on the floor, the mattress, the pillows, piece of a scalp with hair still attached in the center of the bed..."

But by Sunday evening the case had been solved. It was fake blood.

Two years ago, the room had been used to film a scene in a straight-to-DVD movie called "New Terminal Hotel" with the doomed Corey Haim.

The room had been left uncleaned after filming ended because the property owner wasn't sure if the movie crew would have to come back and do re-shoots.

The creepy George Washington Hotel, built in 1923, according to Pittsburgh's Channel 4 Action News, is a perfect setting for a horror movie. More than a dozen people have died in the hotel, four people since current owner Kyrk Pyros bought the hotel, only seven years ago.

The cops were initially mad that detectives put in eight hours of overtime investigating the scene before the mystery was cleared up. In the end, glad no ghastly crime had been perpetrated, they were left shaking their heads at the strange but true story, of a fictional movie starring a man who was dead before the old hotel got the room cleaned.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The internet, it is not just for sale! 

The internet, it is not just for sale!

Or so one might hope. Corporations continue to view the internet as an extension of their marketing arms. Despite individual attempts to innovate and to resist this trend, the news continues to get bleaker.

The Clarion Content has long believed it is self-evident that Facebook is a sales tool. Numerous violations of common law standards of privacy have laid bare Facebook's purpose; to mine data that allows it to closely track what you do, what you like, who you are and what you buy, and then to sell that information onward to the highest bidder.

Some of Facebook's maneuvers to do this are more obvious than others. In many, folks have to opt-in to willingly allow their data to be shared. Sheep to the slaughter, they are happy to do so.

One example is the Facebook "Like" button. Facebook users are given the opportunity to click and say they like something. Big brands have been especially crafty about using this marketing tool. Previously Facebook "Likes" used to be called "Fans." Quite probably, it was more obvious to the consumer that by becoming "Fans" of something, they were glomming on to corporate cultural brainwashing. Hence the name change, and has it ever been, effective.

According to the website Mashable, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized brands, had 800 Facebook "Fans" in November 2007. It has 16.5 million "Likes" now. This list of customers, voluntarily offered up, is an invaluable sales tool.

Check out this graphic history of how some of the world's biggest brand names use Facebook to market.

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Wrigley Field college football update 

As we warned in our post the other day, the end zones set up for college football at Wrigley Field looked mighty risky. The Big 10 decided at the last moment they agree. The game will be played with one end zone.

Yep you read that right, dear readers. One end zone. Never seen that before. What is this high school inter-murals? Are we talking about practice?

Nope it is the real deal. Here is the summary of the rules changes from ESPN.

All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.

All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.

After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.

Wow. Hard to imagine.

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Bush book prank 

There is a movement afoot and a Facebook page dedicated to causing a little fun-loving mischief now that King George the II's new book has come out. The plan is this: Move Bush's memoir to the Crime section of your local bookstore (the Fiction, Science Fiction, and Humor sections are also applicable), take a picture of your handiwork, and post it to the wall of the event page on Facebook.

We highly recommend joining in!

Sponsored by Waging Nonviolence.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Only a French guy 

Only a French guy would have the guts to cheat on Eva Longoria. Allegedly, French basketball star, Tony Parker did just that, and with a former teammate's wife, nice.

Longoria announced today that she was filing for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." She is seeking spousal support from Parker. The couple had a pre-nuptial agreement that was not made public.

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Watch out for that brick wall! 

Mama said knock you out! Oops upside the head, said oops upside the head.

Why are these are things that the announcers at the Illinois-Northwestern college football game might say this weekend? To lighten the mood?

Illinois and Northwestern are playing at Wrigley Field.

The famous baseball diamond with its ivy covered brick walls. Said brick walls are, approximately, twelve inches behind the back of the end zone at some points under the rightfield grandstand.

The other end zone along the third base dugout is no peach either. They cribbed the let's host a college football game idea from Yankee Stadium, but Wrigley looks great.

They have added extra padding to the brick outfield walls. With all the concussion discussion that has been in the air in recent months, we here at the Clarion Content, hope they carefully weighed the players well-being and safety against the value of the all-mighty dollar.

Playing at Wrigley Field will most definitely sell some ducats.

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Simple advice 

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Interesting Conversion 

The New York Times reports that the rapper Shyne, a Sean P. Diddy Combs protégé, has converted to Orthodox Judaism and moved to Israel. He has legally changed his name from Jamaal Barrow to Moses Levi. He says, "My entire life screams that I have a Jewish neshama...[the Hebrew word for soul]."

Shyne served almost nine years in prison for allegedly opening fire in a New York nightclub in 1999. Shyne was in the club with Combs and his then girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. Many surmised that Shyne took the fall for the more famous, P. Diddy Combs. Combs is now allegedly worth $350 million dollars. Might be a little debt of gratitude there.

Shyne had a fascinating backstory even before his conversion to Judaism. He grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with a single mother who cleaned houses for a living. His father is now the Prime Minister of Belize.

Shyne has two new records coming out with Def Jam.

Read the whole story here.

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Stevie Johnson got it going on 

Stevie Johnson is the Buffalo Bills rookie sensation at wide receiver. He has had a monster start to his career, with six TDs and nearly 600 yards on a struggling team, in just the first ten weeks. It turns out, however, Mr. Johnson, aka Steve Styles, is multi-talented.

We heard our man free-styling on Jim Rome today and had to dig a little deeper. Check him out. He has got some skills.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Samaritan: How about that engineer! 

At the Clarion Content we sometimes take heat for being too negative. We are not naive enough to ever believe we could be fair and balanced, but we do think about and follow the positive, too. We take great joy in reading good stories. It is sometimes difficult because of the nature of the angle of the media, of which we might be forced to concede, we are a part. In our view, the role of the fourth estate is inherently critical, though not exclusively so. Being outside the gates of power, it is the press's obligation to shine a light on what is going behind the walls and the proverbial curtains, in the smoked filled rooms.

However, this time, today, it is "Ahoy, good news ahead!"

Check out this story we just ran across in the Seattle Times.

Duane Innes of Kent, Washington, who is a Boeing manager and engineer by training, had a brilliant and ingenious good samaritan moment. While driving to a Seattle Mariners baseball game this July, Innes saw a pickup truck ahead of him drift across several lanes of traffic, sideswipe a concrete barrier and continue forward on the inside shoulder at about 40 mph.

Innes, in a minivan, knew a busy intersection was just ahead. Balls and brains, all systems go, Innes told the Seattle Times, "Basic physics: If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together."

Without consulting the passengers in his minivan, "there was no time to take a vote," he pulled his minivan onto the shoulder at speed, got in front of Bill Pace's pickup, and allowed it to rear-end his vehicle, then brought both safely to a stop before the intersection. The eighty year-old driver, Pace, had a minor heart attack two days earlier. He had passed out at the wheel of his truck, due to what doctors later deemed to be poor circulation, with his foot on the gas.

Read the whole harrowing, but ultimately redeeming story here.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

The long con 

Faces you can trust?

Although it does not get much publicity, there are still people out there running the long con. The long con is a confidence trick played out over time. The hustler gains the complete or nearly complete confidence of the mark, they use this power to defraud the mark of substantial amounts of dough over an extended period of time.

Today, we ran across one of the worst/best examples we had heard about in quite some while. Roger Davidson was scammed out of somewhere between $6 million and $20 million according to court filings. Computer geek, Vickram Bedi, thirty-six, and his Icelandic girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir, thirty-nine, were first visited by Davidson in an attempt to rid his laptop of a virus.

Upon learning of his wealth, the pair, initiated what the police called "an elaborate social engineering scheme," eg. the long con. They convinced Davidson that his computer virus was part of a larger plot in which he was being menaced by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals and the shrouded in secrecy, Catholic organization, Opus Dei. How they got Davidson to buy into this conspiracy is unclear. Police allege that Davidson paid the couple $160,000 per month for 24-hour protection against the purported threats. This continued for a period of six years.

Police continue to investigate other ways the couple might have been defrauding Davidson of his money.

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Latin American baseball players 

People mock and deride White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Guillen, a sharp tongued Venezuelan, who does not hew to the diktats of political correctness, has warned for years that young Latin American baseball players are exploited. They are generally from impoverished backgrounds with limited educational opportunities. Sharps, handlers, runners and their ilk take advantage of these young men repeatedly. A few years ago it was Jose Rijo and the Washington Nationals front office that was in the spotlight.

Yesterday a federal court indicted David Wilder, a former White Sox scouting executive, and two former White Sox scouts, Jorge L. Oquendo Rivera and Victor Mateo. Charges include accepting about $400,000 to sign twenty-three prospects in Latin America between 2004 and 2008, accepting kickbacks from signing bonuses and contract buyouts, deliberately targeting players from impoverished parts of Latin America. Not entirely coincidentally Major League Baseball announced yesterday, it has expanded oversight of teenage prospects in Venezuela, a similar system to the one they finally implemented in the Dominican Republic earlier this year.

Thanks to the New York Times for the heads up on these announcements.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Still making the ultimate sacrifice 

It is important to remember, on this, of all days, Veteran's Day, there are still American servicemen and women making the ultimate sacrifice. After more than nine years of War, it is easy to feel fatigued, inured to the pain, pain and loss that is so real to those for whom the War is personal.

North Carolina has thousands of men and women stationed overseas away from their families.

Today we humbly thank them and wish them all the speediest of returns.

End War now!


LeBron, looking for suggestions 

LeBron James is apparently looking for suggestions. LeBron utilizes the methodology of communication between icon and the masses that has become the norm in post-post modern society, the commercial. It transcends the press conference because of the limitless opportunities for staging and setting that a commercial presents. Moreover, it is a one-way channel of communication, no nagging questions from the fourth estate can be heard...

LeBron himself asks the only question, over and over, "What should I do?" and despite all the options the Nike marketing people have offered him, it appears quite clear, LeBron does not quite know what he should do.

Here, in one societal reply to the once and former King James, Eric Cartman asks himself the same question.

Mysterion Rises
Eric Cartman,Mysterion,more...

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What they are watching...Episode XV 

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 time we ran into a t-shirt at the mall that said, "Hide your wife. Hide your kids." And we were like, yo, what is that about?

Apparently, it is about this. And that, spawned this...Which is what they are watching. Amazing.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Missle Launch 

The media and the blogosphere are a flutter over a supposed submarine missile launch immediately off of the coast of California. Some spectacular footage was captured by a KCBS Los Angeles television crew, check it out here.

The United States Navy and Air Force both officially have no knowledge of the event. NORAD claims it did not pick up a missle launch. The Pentagon asserts it was not from a foreign source.

The comments on our old friend Rantburg's site range from the hilarious, like India test firing the nuclear missile submarine that Obama just sold them, "Kicking the tires and revving the engine? Would YOU take somebody's word that the missiles would fire?" to the skeptical, "a jet contrail viewed from a funny angle," to the conspiratorial, "a target missile for a new type anti-missile system. Probably something so classified it would make your toenails rot off...we don't know what NSA/CIA/super-secret-moose-n-squirrel-division is up to..."

Read them all here.

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Brilliant NHL All-Star game revamp 

Shanahan was an eight time All-Star himself.

As we tweeted just a few minutes ago, the Toronto Star is reporting that the NHL All-Star game has a brilliant new wrinkle. They have eliminated the standard, old, passionless conference versus conference battle and are going to implement, this year, a radical suggestion from former player, now NHL VP, Brendan Shanahan.

They are going to nominate captains and pick teams like they were playing pick-up. The captains will still be selecting from a pool of players voted on by the fans. Reportedly, the NHL's All-Star weekend will kick off with the captains picking the teams, playground style, on live television.

Should be captivating stuff. Great innovation, NHL, you go!

The NHL All-Star game is North Carolina this season.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Duck and Cover, on point 

Our friends over at Duck and Cover have seen our future...

Read Duck and Cover at the Blue Pyramid.

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Sound familiar 

As we think about the decline (and potential fall) of the American hegemon, we see some referential wisdom in the words of the Roman historian Sallust...
"Growing love of money, and the lust for power which followed it, engendered every kind of evil. Avarice destroyed honor, integrity and every other virtue, and instead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect religion, and to hold nothing too sacred to sell. Ambition tempted many to be false... At first these vices grew slowly and sometimes met with punishments; later on when the disease had spread like a plague, Rome changed: her government, once so just and admirable, became harsh and unendurable."

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Young maestro 

Check out the young maestro grooving to the 4th movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

We would like to thank one of our Allentown, Pennsylvania readers for sending this link our way.

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Rasmussen Reports polls widely wrong 

The Clarion Content, among many others, has questioned the accuracy and neutrality of polls from the Rasmussen Reports. They were founded by a former employee of the coronation, errr, campaign, of King George the II. They consistently phrase their polling questions with just a little twist to produce the desired result.

Their defense? They were right on the numbers in 2004 and 2006.

Last night, however, they were outed. According to our friend Nate Silver, over at the 538, "Rasmussen polls quite consistently turned out to overstate the standing of Republicans tonight. Of the roughly 100 polls released by Rasmussen or its subsidiary Pulse Opinion Research in the final 21 days of the campaign, roughly 70 to 75 percent overestimated the performance of Republican candidates, and on average they were biased against Democrats by 3 to 4 points."

Interestingly, it would be our argument that overstating your candidates odds at the polls actually hurts their chances. It would be analagous to the brass continuously telling American troops in Vietnam that the enemy was weak, under-armed, on the verge of starvation and primed for defeat. These lies and exaggerations actually harmed United States soldiers and Marines by leading them to regularly underestimate the enemy. We would argue that the Rasmussen Reports did something of the same for right-wing candidates last night.

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56 years! 

What does it feel and look like when your team, a franchise that has not won a title in your lifetime, in multiple lifetimes, finally wins? Something like this!!!

All those of us New York Ranger fans, like the Clarion Content's sports editor, who remember the "1940" chants of our youth, the generations of fans who rooted and rooted without a Cup, know the feeling. Mark Messier, we are eternally grateful.

Congratulations, Giants fans!

Cleveland Indians fans, we hope, some day, this is you.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Time to think 

The public sucks? What the f*ck? Hope?

George Carlin, the greatest wordsmith of our time! Too bad he didn't live long enough to participate in the Revolution.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Rerun success 

The current show we see as mostly likely to become a cult hit in reruns, a much bigger success in its second life than in first run, is "How I met Your Mother." It has been increasingly popular as a CBS network television show. Word of mouth has gradually built over the years, it has momentum. As the sitcom heads into a sixth season, "How I met Your Mother" is poised to enter another echelon of fame moving into syndication.

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Favre on Favre 


Brett Favre's comments in the lockerroom after Sunday's Vikings game with the New England Patriots, "I was shocked that I was able to play and move around the way I was. My prayers were answered. I wanted the chance to play. I wanted the chance to play and play at a high-enough level to give us a chance to win. I didn’t want to play just to play. I didn’t want to come in for one play to get a start; I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to come in and help this team win. It was touch-and-go even before the game today."

Wait a minute. Brett? Brett? You guys lost the game, didn't you?

Ahhh, the narcissism. As the Vikings season goes down the drain, Favre is focused on one thing, and one thing only, himself. It is a delight to see him end his wildly overrated career this way. All that is left is for him to throw that pick six, that taint, on his final pass of the season, and it will be a Grimm's fairy tale ending.

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