Monday, March 09, 2015

Think twice about driving to the ballpark, Oregon first state to tax miles driven, 10 other states considering similar programs

3/9/15, "Oregon to debut mileage-based gas tax, helped by Waterloo company," CBC News

"A Waterloo-based company is helping the state of Oregon implement a new voluntary program that will tax drivers based on distance driven, instead of a flat gas tax. 

Waterloo's Intelligent Mechatronic Systems plays an integral part in the new program. The company created DriveSync, a platform that essentially can connect a car to the internet or other devices such as smartphones.

DriveSync makes it possible for insurance companies to assess customers based on usage, for example. "It's a very interesting approach to change one form of taxation on the gas pump to a fair usage fee on the road," said Ben Miners, the vice president for innovation at IMS, in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Monday.

"Having a usage fee on the road provides people with transparency in terms of how much it's actually costing to be on the road," he said. "So hopefully, people will make informed decisions before they take their car out to drive to the corner store."

Drivers won't need to do anything special to their vehicles to take part in the program, but they do have to register and get a DriveSync device, which can be plugged into their vehicles.

"It's a standard port in every vehicle built after 1996. The port's just below the steering wheel, you reach down and plug it in and you can drive and not need to worry about it ever again," said Miners. The program will start for Oregon drivers on July 1.

Drivers can choose how much to share

For the privacy-minded, participants can choose how much information they want to reveal to the state of Oregon. Drivers can choose to only share the distance the vehicle travels, and avoid location information. However, if they do share location information, they won't be taxed when they drive on private roads or head out of state, for example.

The billing itself is handled by another company, Sanef ITS, which has partnered with IMS and the state of Oregon. Every quarter drivers will get an invoice showing how much fuel they've consumed and how far they've travelled. Participants will get a gas tax refund, and then pay their usage tax at a rate of 1.5 cents per mile driven.

"Now people can see that when they're driving, when their cars are actually causing impact to the road, the funds or the fees that they're paying are directly being applied to help maintain those roads, maintain the infrastructure and repair those potholes," said Miners.

According to Miners, as people switch to vehicles that consume less gas, governments need to find new ways to raise funds.

"The revenue shortfall from traditional gas tax-based approaches is only increasing in its magnitude, with the prevalence of highly fuel efficient vehicles, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles," he said."

3/9/15, "Oregon To Be First In Nation To Implement Per-Mile Road Tax Program,"
thetruthaboutcars.com, Cameron Aubernon

"Oregon won’t be the only one to undergo a road tax program: over 10 other states are either in the process of passing legislation or conducting trials for such programs."

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Derek Jeter Players' Tribune on SiriusXM will air weekly on Mad Dog Sports Radio, SiriusXM Channel 85, Wed. 7-8pm ET

2/17/15, "SiriusXM and The Players' Tribune Launch New National Radio Show," finance.yahoo.com

"The Players' Tribune on SiriusXM" brings Derek Jeter's new athlete-inspired media platform to the airwaves. Listeners can connect with Players' Tribune personalities every week on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio channel."

"SiriusXM and The Players' Tribune announced today the creation of a new national radio show that brings the high profile new athlete-inspired media platform founded by Derek Jeter to the airwaves, showcasing the voices of athletes associated with the site and connecting them with listeners around the country.

Starting February 18, The Players' Tribune on SiriusXM will air every Wednesday (7:00-8:00 pm ET) throughout the year on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio, channel 85. The show will feature a rotating group of hosts and guests who are Players' Tribune editors or contributors, and give SiriusXM subscribers first-person access to the perspective of professional athletes across many sports.

Wednesday's show will include interviews from the event launching the new Players' Tribune website this past weekend.  Listeners will hear from Derek Jeter, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and others.

The Players' Tribune is a new media platform that presents the voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before. Founded by Derek Jeter, The Players' Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes. From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, the Tribune strives to be "The Voice of the Game."

"Our partnership with SiriusXM is a perfect vehicle to help bring the athletes' stories from The Players' Tribune to life," said founding publisher Derek Jeter.

"Since launching a few months ago, The Players' Tribune has generated a lot of buzz in the sports world and captured the attention of fans across the country," said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM's President and Chief Content Officer. "We're excited to team up for a new show that will give the voices on the site a new nationwide forum to interact directly with fans, while also giving our subscribers access to some of the biggest personalities in sports."

Athletes who are editors or contributors for The Players' Tribune include Kobe Bryant, Russell Wilson, Matt Harvey, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Julius Thomas, Brandon McCarthy, Sean Avery, Chris Long, Danica Patrick, Shawne Merriman and others." via XMFan.com

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Cold weather and snow keep criminals off the street. Major crimes have dropped in Boston, NY City reported 12 consecutive days without a murder-NH Union Leader

2/28/15, "Bad weather keeps criminals off the street and out of trouble," New Hampshire Union Leader, Paul Feely

Manchester, NH, in front of Kay's Bakery

"The historic stretch of winter weather gripping New Hampshire in recent weeks is helping to prove an old adage among law enforcement circles: Crooks like it hot. Police say the steady string of storms into the Granite State since mid-January show the special relationship between weather and crime: as the snowflakes and temperatures fall, so do the number of certain types of crime - particularly assaults, burglary and robberies.

"Burglars can be stupid, but they're not completely dumb," said Lt. Dan Bailey of the Nashua Police Department. "They're not going to break into a house when they'll leave footprints in the snow.

Reports from areas hit hardest by record-breaking cold and heavy snow appear to support the idea. Police calls are down in Concord and Nashua. Same thing in Manchester. Major crimes have dropped in Boston. New York City police reported 12 consecutive days without a murder, the longest such streak since the department started collecting crime data in 1994.

"You don't have people out and about," said New Hampshire State Police Major David Parenteau. "If people aren't out, there are fewer potential victims for criminals."

It's science

The theory has been tested by researchers, who say the data prove their point.

"Weather has a strong effect on the incidence of criminal activity. For all offenses except manslaughter, higher temperatures lead to higher crime rates," writes Matthew Ranson, an economist for the Cambridge, Mass. consulting firm, Abt Associates.

Ranson recently published results of a study combining 30 years of data across the country and found "a very strong historical relationship between temperature and crime."

Ranson writes in the report that he began looking at the data in an attempt to picture what the world might look like if global temperatures rise. He believes crime, and social disorder, could increase along with temperatures, and said the evidence shows colder stretches over the last 50 years marry up to drop-offs in criminal behavior.

Ranson looked at nine major crime categories, ranging from theft to murder, and reports offense rates decreased when the temperature dropped below about 50 degrees. In most cases, the rates continued to drop as the temperature got colder. The exception was car theft, which jumped when temperatures got below ten degrees."...

Image above from New Hampshire Union Leader, David Lane. via Free Rep.

Regis Chagnon shovels snow in front of Kay's Bakery as a city crew removes snow in the "The Hollow" neighborhood of Manchester. A month of snow and cold has a silver lining. Officials say, certain types of crime, such as assaults, burglary and robberies, are way down. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)) - See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150301/NEWS03/150309973#sthash.piFBYd7L.dpuf

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Arod is saving Yankees from irrelevance-Joel Sherman

2/26/15, "Note to A-Rod-hating Yankees: He’s saving you from irrelevance," NY Post, Joel Sherman

Arod signs 2/26/15

"By far the smallest crowd since the Yankees moved their spring camp to the west coast of Florida two decades ago greeted their first full workout, and the largest applause went to Hideki Matsui and then Alex Rodriguez.

So, if you are scoring at home, the fans appear less interested in this club than at any time in a while and their greatest demonstration of appreciation was for a guy who no longer plays and a guy who the Yanks hope stops playing.

In this way, the Yankees should be careful what they wish for. Right now, A-Rod is giving the organization great cover. If he weren’t here, there would have been far more questions asked of those in charge about why Yoan Moncada is a Red Sox and why there is so little interest in the team. The fans, after all, buzzed about Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann as much as they did Jonathan Galvez and Nick Noonan, which is to say not at all.

Joe Girardi’s post-workout press conference began with nine questions about A-Rod and then one about a retired player, Derek Jeter. When asked if he was happy to have Rodriguez in camp, Girardi answered broadly by speaking of how pleased he is to see everyone. When it was noted to him that he didn’t really answer the question about A-Rod, Girardi brandished what are his two tells when he is about to be misleading — his voice went higher and he grew angry, in this case, criticizing the meaning of the question.

Brian Cashman answered a series of A-Rod questions and then also grew annoyed when asked if he was happy that the disgraced slugger was back, saying soon after, “I don’t really want to talk about Alex anymore.” This from a general manager appreciated by the media for his willingness to handle questions in all varieties of Yankees storms.

When asked if he could imagine shutting down inquiry about any other player in camp on Day 1 of full workouts, Cashman said he was doing this because of the repetitive nature of the questions. But it is hard to believe if folks had repetitive questions about Nate Eovaldi’s splitter or Mark Teixeira’s wrist, that Cashman would cease discussion.

As much as they talk about normalcy and moving on when it comes to Rodriguez, Yankees officials are not truly embracing that. Several times in the last week, a Yankees executive has expressed displeasure to me about something I wrote that they perceived as pro-Rodriguez — and these are in columns in which I referred to A-Rod as narcissistic, egomaniacal, dishonest and insecure or hardly endorsements of Rodriguez as a human.

In a private moment, when I told A-Rod about the reactions by Girardi and Cashman when asked if they were happy he was here, Rodriguez offered a “No comment” in reply.

But it underscores just how uneasy this camp could end up being. How could it not be? On truth serum, any Yankees official would say what they wanted for A-Rod in this camp is for his hips to break down again, forcing his retirement and their best chance to recoup most of the $61 million they still owe him.

That is a totally logical position for them to have right now. That would be best for the sanity and finances of the franchise. But you cannot exactly have a tension-free relationship when everyone knows what hovers. When I asked Rodriguez what he thought of this, he offered another “No comment.” For now, Rodriguez is avoiding his familiar self-destructive responses and darkest angels.

The Yankees will strive for the same through gritted teeth. A-Rod is their necessary evil. Are they happy he is here? No. But he is here because the Yankees signed him to a 10-year contract and not at gunpoint. Their officials should just acknowledge that the history with this player demands they be leery of what might happen, but as long as he is in uniform, they will try to do their best by him and hope he thrives. Heck, they didn’t love Jim Leyritz and won a title with him in 1996, nor David Wells and won it all in 1998, or a fella named Alex Rodriguez in 2009.

Plus, I wonder if these Yankees need A-Rod more than he needs them. They built a team with Chase Headley at third and on which Carlos Beltran or Garrett Jones could DH. But even when the spring games begin — despite protests from so many fans about having A-Rod fatigue — what will make them click on YES? Maybe what Masahiro Tanaka’s arm looks like or Didi Gregorius’ glove.

But at a time when the tiny crowd Thursday at Steinbrenner Field possibly said something about fascination with this squad, will there really be anything fans want to tune in more to see than A-Rod at-bats? Does he still have it or not?

For better or worse for this franchise, the necessary evil is their biggest star. He took the field for the first time in a while in full Yankees garb and his name was screamed often from the crowd. No one else on the roster drew such a reaction.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 Yankees." Image above, NY Post, Wenzelberg

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fisherman wins 5-4 Supreme Court case, vindicated after facing prison for discarding undersized fish in 2007 off Florida coast

2/25/15, "Supreme Court Sides With Fisherman In Case Of The Missing Fish," npr.org

"Commercial fisherman John Yates and his crew were fishing for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Cortez, Fla., in 2007. His vessel was boarded by John Jones, a state Fish and Wildlife officer who was working on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

As NPR's Nina Totenberg reported last November: "Jones, suspecting that the fishermen were keeping fish smaller than the 20-inch minimum, measured some of the catch and found 72 grouper that were undersized."

That's 72 fish out of a catch of more than 3,000, Yates wrote last year in Politico. He was issued a civil citation from the state.

But when Yates' vessel returned to port the next day, Jones and other officials examined the entire catch and found 69 — not 72 — undersized fish.

"Nearly three years later, the federal government charged me with the destruction of evidence — yes, fish — to impede a federal investigation," Yates wrote in Politico. "I was subsequently arrested at my home. I have been blacklisted by boat owners who fear federal investigations similar to mine. I am now unable to make a living doing what I love to do."

Yates was charged with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed after, as Nina put it, "a scandal ... destroyed energy firm Enron and resulted in criminal convictions for accounting firm Arthur Andersen."

Prosecutors said he told his crew to throw the undersized fish overboard. He was convicted of destroying evidence to impede a federal investigation and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing the law applied only to documents and records, not fish.

But, as Nina noted at the time:
"The federal government, however, argues that the law was clearly written and intended to be a broad anti-obstruction-of-justice law that would fill gaps in the criminal code that had long existed."
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act makes it a crime to destroy, alter or cover up "any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to ... impede or obstruct" the investigation of "any matter within federal jurisdiction."

Today, the court narrowly agreed with Yates, and reversed judgments by lower courts.

NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast unit that the court's majority said the "government overreached by deploying the financial fraud law against a commercial fisherman. The majority said tangible objects should be read to mean documents or computer hard drives not undersized fish."

"Fish one may fry, but may one falsify, or make a false entry in the sea-dwelling creatures?" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, reading from a summary of her opinion from the bench.

She was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Also in agreement was Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote a separate opinion.

Justices Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

"A fisherman like John Yates, who dumps undersized fish to avoid a fine is no less blameworthy than one who shreds his vessel's catch log for the same reason," Kagan said.

The case was Yates v. United States."

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Arod signs in Tampa at The Boss

2/24/15, "A quick look at all the stuff you missed today b/c you were busy with "real life" --
via Lohud Yankee blog 

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Forty days til Opening Day in the Bronx

2/24/15, "From Chopper 880: Center field work continues at frozen Stadium; 40 days til via Yankee Lohud blog 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 spring training officially opens at George M. Steinbrenner Field

2/21/15, "Sabathia balloons to over 300 lbs for apparent health reasons," NY Post, George A. King III, Tampa

"CC Sabathia’s surgically repaired right knee houses a degenerative condition he hopes to control by exercise, injections and possibly draining.

After playing the past two seasons at 295 pounds, the veteran lefty arrived at Yankees spring training weighing in at 305, believing the added 10 pounds puts him in a position to feel better.

Welcome to the Yankees’ former ace’s world as he prepares to rebound from a dreadful 2014 in which he worked eight games before the knee required arthroscopic surgery.

The road back began this winter with a throwing program, and Sabathia was in the first group of pitchers throwing off a bullpen mound Saturday when the Yankees officially opened spring training with pitchers and catchers going through drills at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It was Sabathia’s second bullpen session and the first one outdoors.

“It’s a bum knee. It’s degenerative, there is nothing we can do about it,’’ Sabathia said of his knee that underwent surgery, is lacking in cartilage underneath, has required four platelet-rich plasma injections to keep the fluid out and faces the possibility of being drained if the fluid returns. “We are not going to try micro fracture or invasive surgery right now. Keep the maintenance and make sure it’s good enough every day to go out and play.’’

Sabathia said the three PRP injections, the last of which he received recently, should be good enough to carry him to the All Star break before another is needed.

Saturday he threw 25 pitches to John Ryan Murphy, didn’t favor the knee and was pleased with the exercise.

“It felt well, no problem,’’ Sabathia said. “I’ll take two days off and throw another one.’’

Sabathia, who turns 35 in July, has rinsed away last year and called 2013 “terrible’’ even though he was 14-13 and threw 211 innings coming off elbow surgery (bone spur) and working with a fastball that didn’t creep much above 90 mph.

“For me it was [terrible],’’ Sabathia said. “Maybe that’s what I am.’’

For a pitcher with Sabathia’s career, those numbers might be hard to accept, but if you told Joe Girardi the left-hander would give him that type of season this year, the manager would jump at it.

That’s because since beating the Orioles with a complete-game effort in Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS, Sabathia is a pedestrian 17-18 with a 4.97 ERA in 58 games.

“I wanted to come here with a clear mind and pitch,’’ said Sabathia, who was examined by a doctor Friday and won’t be held out of any activities. “I felt I passed every test.’’

Asked if he can return to being the staff ace, Sabathia said, “I have no idea, I am just happy to be here.’’

Considering the Yankees owe Sabathia $53 million for the next two years and could be on the hook for a $25 million vesting option in 2017, it would lessen the anxiety level if the former ace repeated his 211 innings of 2013 instead of throwing just 46 innings like last year.

After losing close to 40 pounds following the 2012 season, Sabathia has gone from 295 to 305 since last season.

“I lost that weight because I had a cousin die from heart disease,’’ explained Sabathia, who some felt the decreasing velocity was attributed to the drop in weight.

“Now I feel good where I am at. I feel a little stronger, I feel my legs under me.’’

Time, of course, will tell a lot more than the first bullpen session of camp.

“You really have to get into it and the rigors of 100 innings and throwing every fifth day but so far the signs that we have seen are positive,’’ Girardi said."

2/21/15, "Girardi signing some autographs before today's workout, Erik Boland twitter

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Fewer sports cars, more pickup trucks among 2015 Yankees-Barbarisi

2/16/15, Daniel Barbarisi twitter, via Lohud Yankee blog

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

No autograph seekers outside Yankee minor league complex for second day in a row-Boland

2/11/15, "Same autograph seekers as yesterday lined up outside Yankees minor league complex," Erik Boland twitter

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

In January 2010 NBC's Brian Williams slammed Mark McGwire for lying

2/5/15, "Brian Williams Slammed MLB's Mark McGwire For Lying," CNS News, Eric Scheiner

"In January of 2010, NBC news anchor Brian Williams said, “we can’t say what we would like to” when discussing the news that baseball player Mark McGwire “stopped lying today” and admitted to the use of steroids.

“Because this is a family broadcast we probably can’t say what we would like to about the news today that Mark McGwire, the home run hitter, the fan favorite from the St. Louis Cardinals, stopped lying today and admitted that he did it while on steroids,” Williams said during the January 11, 2010 Nightly News broadcast.

“He didn’t tell the truth to Congress or to his fans until finally, formally coming clean today. He’s been unable to get into the Hall of Fame and apparently even for him the shame here was too much.”

After a reporter presented a video package on McGwire’s career and confession to using steroids Williams said, “Kind of an American tragedy the way it’s ended so far.

Williams apologized Wednesday for falsely claiming he was on a helicopter forced down in 2003, during the invasion in Iraq.

"I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago," he said.

"I want to apologize. I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft."

His apology was prompted by a story in Stars and Stripes in which crew members on the helicopter that was hit said Williams wasn't on it.

The story of being on the helicopter when it was hit was told by Williams several times.

In March of 2013 he told the David Letterman Show, that while in Iraq “we were going to drop some bridge portions across the Euphrates so the third infantry could cross on them. Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire including the one I was in. RPG and AK-47's."" video at link. via Lucianne


2/4/15, "NBC’s Brian Williams recants Iraq story after soldiers protest," Stars and Stripes, Travis J. Tritten

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Historic Blizzard Bust: First time in history entire NY City subway system closed due to snow-but blizzard never happened. Only a few inches in Manhattan. NY Gov. Cuomo said blizzard was proof of global warming. Lack of blizzard also reported to prove global warming

1/27/15, "City at Standstill as Blizzard Strikes," NY1 News, Time Warner, 2:08AM EST

Chelsea, NYC, 2:08AM, NY1

"New York City is without public transportation this morning and non-emergency vehicles are banned from the roads in an unprecedented response to what's quickly become known as the Blizzard of 2015.

By midnight the storm had dumped almost half a foot of snow on Central Park, with more than six inches accumulating at La Guardia Airport.
NY1 meteorologist John Davitt says he expects the storm to drop 12 to 18 inches or more on the city by morning, with the National Weather Service calling for up to 30 inches of accumulation....
Included in the shutdown are all subways, buses, Metro-North trains, Long Island Rail Road trains and PATH trains, making this the first time that the entire subway system has been closed to the public due to snow – although many trains are continuing to run empty to keep the tracks clear."...
"Andrew Cuomo says frequency of extreme weather, such as hurricane Sandy and current blizzard sweeping across north-east, ‘is a pattern never seen before’"

"Massive snowstorms such as the one sweeping into the US north-east on Monday are “part of the changing climate”, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, declared at a press conference announcing a state of emergency. 

Cuomo said on Monday that “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before” – reiterating his comments in the wake of hurricane Sandy, when he said that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”"...


Blizzard or no blizzard both prove global warming:

1/26/15, "Repeating News Story: Global Warming To Make Blizzards Worse," cato.org, Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels

"Over the next couple of days, as the Nor’easter honing in on the New England coast matures and eventually unleashes its winter storm fury, you are going to be subject to a lot of global warming hype.

After all, the climate change alarmist credo is: let no extreme weather event pass without pointing out that it is “consistent with” climate change caused by human industrial society.

The push has already begun.

But this time around, the pushback is also well-prepared.

While the “curator” of the Washington Post’s newly-minted online “Energy and Environment” section Chris Mooney tells us in his article that global warming may make blizzards worse by increasing the temperature of the western Atlantic ocean and thereby increasing the moisture feed into the developing storm, meteorologist Ryan Maue is quick to point out that just the opposite is likely the result—that the elevated sea surface temperatures actually act to make such storms tamer.

Maue goes on to add that it is easy to make case that global warming weakened this blizzard significantly due to warmer [sea surface temperatures].”

While Ryan is probably being a bit optimistic here, the reality is that this blizzard (in fact pretty much all storm events) are the result of a very complex system of physical interactions—the precise behavior of each one of which is not completely understood, much less perfectly predictable. This makes ascertaining the influence of human-caused climate change virtually (if not entirely) impossible.

Blizzards affecting New York City are perfect examples of this.

A couple years back, during another New York City blizzard, we looked at some of the confounding factors at play in determining how much it snows in Central Park. Our conclusion after reviewing the cases for both more and less snowfall there?

 Which leaves natural variability as the primary driver of just how white New York City’s winters are.
Figure 1 will give you some idea of what we were talking about. It shows the winter snowfall history from New York’s Central Park since the late 1800s.

Figure 1. Winter snowfall totals from New York City’s Central Park.

Kudos to you if you can pick out the patterns formed by global warming. And if you can, please write them up for scientific publication somewhere. The world awaits the definitive answer.

In the meantime, don’t believe the hype." Chart via Cato from NCDC AccuWeather data. via Climate Depot


Comment: I have a clear view up First Avenue in the 80's in Manhattan. As of 5:21AM there are only 3-4 inches of snow.


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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Billionaire who owns 5 mansions stopped by Davos via private jet to warn that Americans must reduce lifestyles because jobs aren't coming back, danger of social unrest

1/23/15, "The 5 mansions of the billionaire who wants America to live a 'smaller' existence," Adrian Glick Kudler, homes.yahoo.com


"Jeff Greene is a billionaire who made most of his fortune shorting subprime mortgages ahead of the last recession. Greene took a private jet to this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, along with his wife, children and two nannies, and then told Bloomberg that "America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence. We need to reinvent our whole system of life."
Green owns a $195-million palace in Beverly Hills with 23 bathrooms and a rotating dance floor, two other Los Angeles mansions, a mansion in Palm Beach, a mansion in the Hamptons, and a 145-foot party yacht called Summerwind that once severely damaged a protected coral reef off Belize."...image via Yahoo News

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Smell of smoke from the fire at John Sterling's New Jersey apartment building has permeated the halls of buildings on the East Side of Manhattan

1/22/15, 7:11am: I live near First Avenue in the East 80's in Manhattan. I smelled smoke in the hallway outside my apartment a few minutes ago, so went down to speak to my doorman about it. When I got in the elevator I smelled the same smoke. It was in the lobby too. I asked the doorman if he smelled smoke, and he said, yes, and pointed in the direction of New Jersey. "It's from the fire in New Jersey."

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Fire in Edgewater, NJ apartment complex leaves Yankee radio play by play announcer John Sterling without a home-NY Daily News

1/21/15, "Multialarm fire engulfs Edgewater, N.J. apartment complex, leaving Yankees announcer John Sterling among hundreds without a home," NY Daily News, Bob Raissman, Nina Golgowski

"The 400-unit Avalon at Edgewater complex was destroyed after a multialarm fire broke out around 4:20 p.m. Wednesday. New York Yankee’s broadcaster John Sterling is one of those who called the complex home. He told the Daily News he fears he’s lost everything."

"A massive multialarm fire that lit up the western skyline along the Hudson River has destoryed a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey and left hundreds homeless — including the beloved voice of the New York Yankees.

John Sterling, the longtime play-by-play announcer for the MLB team, is among those who have called the Avalon at Edgewater complex home.

“Maybe I’ll get lucky and there won’t be that much damage,” the sports broadcaster told the Daily News while taking refuge in a hotel.

Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland, who took office Jan. 2, declared a local state of emergency as firefighters battling the blaze reported it remaining out of control four hours after it first broke at 4:20 p.m. Five FDNY fire boats attacked the inferno from the river, but by 9 p.m. parts of the complex began to collapse, The Bergen Record reported.

No serious injuries to civilians or firefighters have been reported. About 400 residents were evacuated, the complex owner said. Officials said all people and pets have been accounted for.
But many residents, during a particularly frigid night, were left in the cold not knowing what possession they may have left. Sterling is one of them. “I don’t know what to expect. Now, I have nowhere to go. And I need a toothbrush," he said. Sterling said he was returning to the 408-unit building, attempting to board an elevator, when he noticed the smell of “intense smoke.”

“On one side of the building the elevators had already been shut down. I went to my elevators (at the back of the building) and tried walking in, but the smoke was so intense I said to myself, ‘John, you better get the hell out of here.’ So I just drove away,” he recalled.

“I was wondering what I was going to do for clothes. But then I started thinking about all the stuff, all the memories, whether it be music, books, and a lot of other stuff,” he said. “You know I was planning on moving to a new apartment complex and felt I was going to throw a lot of that stuff out. Now I hope I haven’t lost it,” he continued.

“One positive is, if there can be any, is all the people that have called me up asking how I’m doing. Like Willie Randolph, a secretary from the Yankees. Suzyn— another friend from Los Angeles. It must be a big fire because she heard about it on Ch. 7 L.A.,” he said.

As for what Sterling said he plans to do next: "I have a TV taping Saturday with Mary Carillo for the Hallmark Kitten Super Bowl. All I have to wear now is what’s on my back: Jeans, a polo shirt and a sweater."

Authorities say it appears that everyone in the four-story, luxury complex was able to get out safely, although the cause of the fire was not immediately known. Displaced residents have been moved to the nearby Eleanor Van Gelder School and the Boys and Girls Club.

Edgewater schools will be closed Thursday.

Numerous firefighters from Edgewater and surrounding towns swarmed the scene to help battle the blaze — easily seen raging from across the Hudson River in Manhattan — but their efforts were being hampered by windy conditions and temperatures in the low 30s.

Streets around the burning building were cordoned off, but no major traffic problems have been reported.

Authorities are looking into reports that plumbers were working close to where the fire broke out, in a wall of an apartment on the first floor at the south side of the complex, Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore told The Record.

Shockingly, this wasn't the first time the apartment complex has burned down.

During its 2000 construction the $75.6 million building, then called the Avalon River Mews, caught fire after reports of an explosion.

One witness described the fire as needing only 12 minutes to ignite all three of the wood-frame buildings that comprised the new housing development, thanks to fanning winds.

"I went out front and the flames were like 500 feet high," Mike Caprio told the News that August."

Image NY Daily News, Sam Costanza


12/22/14, "John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman officially back in Yankees' WFAN booth for 2015," Newsday, Neil Best

"John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will return as the Yankees' radio team for 2015, WFAN operations manager Mark Chernoff confirmed Monday.

Newsday reported in September that the duo likely would be back, but since then, that has become official, meaning Sterling and Waldman are set to spend an 11th season together.

Sterling, 76, always has been consistent about his thoughts on retirement, telling Newsday in September: "I'm never going to retire. I don't understand why people would."

The Yankees do not have hiring or firing power over the announcers for their games, but they do have input.

Team president Randy Levine said in September: "I think John and Suzyn, they are iconic . . . I love them. They're friends, they're great people and they're part of the Yankee brand.""

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Does democracy matter in sport? More sports events are being hosted by authoritarian states using them to gain political legitimacy-BBC Sports, Roan

1/20/15, "Does democracy matter in sport?" BBC Sports, Dan Roan

""Less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup." 

"The words of Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke in the fraught build up to Brazil 2014 may have surprised some people, but they serve as a reminder that sport's relationship with democracy is an uneasy one....

In the 21st Century, more and more sports events seem to be hosted by authoritarian states, using them to gain political legitimacy and strengthen the power and profile of their rulers.

Where once sports turned to Western democracies as the natural place to do business, they increasingly look east, to countries where money, rather than freedom, rules.

Thanks to its vast wealth, the Arab world is becoming a true sporting hub, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in particular hosting more global events, sponsoring shirts and stadia, and buying up sporting assets to gain exposure, improve their image, and accumulate "soft power" among their trading partners and military allies in the Western world

No matter that Amnesty International says the United Arab Emirates is a "deeply repressive state", a recent report pointing to "a climate of fear, with authorities going to extreme lengths to stamp out any sign of dissent, criticism of calls for reform"....

Repressive regimes have certainly looked to exploit sport for their own political ends. During the Cold War, Communist countries wanted to use Olympic medals as a means of proving the superiority of their ideology over capitalism....

But what role does sport play in democracies?

We are often told here that sport and politics should not mix, that politicians should not meddle with sport, and most sports organisations actively discourage governments from encroaching on their territory....

And when it comes to the furthering of political causes, sport has often shown itself to be more powerful than elected representatives....

England cricketer Moeen Ali wore "Save Gaza" and "Free Palestine" wristbands during a test match in 2014.

But he was quickly banned from doing so by the International Cricket Council, on the basis that the rules "do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match".

Having tweeted his support for the Yes campaign on the morning of the referendum on Scottish independence, tennis player Andy Murray received a torrent of abuse, via social media and quickly expressed his regret at having revealed his opinion."...

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Nationals trade star reliever Tyler Clippard to Oakland-Loverro

1/18/15, "LOVERRO: Keeping Tyler Clippard a luxury the Nationals couldn’t afford," Washington Times, Thom Loverro

"Never fall in love with a relief pitcher — unless his name is Mariano Rivera.

Who knows? Maybe Tyler Clippard will wind up being the Mariano Rivera of set up men coming out of the bullpen. But $9 million for an eighth-inning pitcher is a luxury the Washington Nationals can’t afford, so the popular reliever was traded last week to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Yunel Escobar, as Washington general manager Mike Rizzo continues to battle the payroll beast.

The Lerner family is going to keep this team’s payroll in the $140 million neighborhood — an upscale, if not luxury, neighborhood.

In order to do that, you can’t be paying the setup reliever $9 million, what Clippard is seeking in arbitration, and not when you have two ace starting pitchers and a three-time Silver Slugging shortstop facing free agency after the 2015 season — and hope to keep any of them.

Remember, yesterday’s failed starting pitching prospect is tomorrow’s ace reliever. See Clippard.

Clippard had been a starter — a bad one — in the New York Yankees system since he was drafted in 2003. By the time 2007 came around, he was an afterthought, traded to Washington for relief pitcher Jonathan Albaledejo. And it wasn’t until two years later, after a conversation with Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty, that Clippard moved to the bullpen — and a Nats star was born.

Fans fall in love with relief pitchers because, besides the starting pitcher’s walk from the bullpen to the dugout before the game after warming up, relievers are the only players on the team that make a grand entrance — and often in dramatic conditions. No one made a grander entrance than Clippard with his goggles and long-legged show horse strut. He connected with a fan base still learning how to fall in love with a baseball team.

But remember, so did Chad Cordero. So did Joey Eischen. Relievers are often shooting stars — here and gone. Others come along.

It’s up to Rizzo to find one. Maybe he already did — another afterthought.

Blake Treinen came to Washington as a supporting cast player in the Michael Morse three-way trade to Seattle that brought Nationals pitching prospect A.J. Cole back to Washington from Oakland, along with reliever Ian Krol. Treinen worked both as a starter and reliever last season, back and forth between Washington and Triple-A Syracuse, but when Rizzo saw Treinen in spring training last year, he knew he had something special.

He posted good numbers last year when used as a spot starter in Washington — a 3.00 ERA in 36 innings. But he was lights out coming out of the bullpen, with a 1.23 ERA in eight relief appearances. Will he be Tyler Clippard? That’s a high standard. Rizzo told reporters last week after the deal was made that Clippard “maybe the best eighth-inning setup man in the history of the game.”

But the Washington Nationals can’t afford to have the best setup man in the history of the game. Actually, they could easily afford it, but ownership chooses not to, so it’s up to Rizzo to project forward to insure payroll flexibility — after talent, the two most important words for any Major League Baseball franchise seeking long-term success.

Payroll flexibility drove Clippard to Oakland, just as it brought Escobar to Washington. The infielder is here because the future of the Nationals infield up the middle is up in the air. There is no obvious second base choice right now, and shortstop Ian Desmond is on the trading block, going into the final year of his contract, with the two sides reportedly not even close to make a long term deal.

Washington reportedly offered Desmond a $90 million contract extension last season, which he turned down. They don’t appear close to agreeing to any sort of lengthy contract extension, and Desmond has been the subject of numerous trade talks.

Rizzo has three such commodities — Desmond and starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. One or two of them will likely be playing someplace else next year. Rizzo has to juggle those future payrolls. Escobar helps him do that — but only if he performs above what he did last year in Tampa Bay. He is a career .276 hitter with an above-average glove. He hit .258 with the Rays last season, finishing with 18 doubles, seven home runs and 39 RBI in 137 games. His .324 on-base percentage and .340 slugging percentage were each below his career averages of .347 and .381, respectively.

“We got ourselves a really good everyday baseball player that can play shortstop on a regular basis, has done it on a championship-caliber club,” Rizzo told reporters. “And this year, [he] fulfills us as an upgrade at second base. We have protection and depth in the infield beyond 2015, so we feel that we’ve checked off a lot of the boxes that we try to check off during.”

Protection and depth in the infield beyond 2015. It may be maddening for Nationals fans to lose a favorite now to hedge future bets. But after waiting 33 years for Major League Baseball to return to Washington, a plan for future success should make everyone feel good."

• "Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com."

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Derek Jeter chats with Seattle Seahawks Champ Russell Wilson before June 2014 Yankee-Mariner game in Seattle

6/11/14, "The Captain and the Super Bowl Champion
Jeter with Russell Wilson, QB of Seattle Seahawks, via Erik Boland twitter. Final NYY 4 Seattle Mariners 2.

1/18/15, "Lynch, Wilson lead epic comeback to send Seahawks back to Super Bowl," USA Today

1/18/15, "Emotional Wilson 'honored' to play for Seahawks," FoxSports

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Michigan rollercoaster has no customers in January

"Out of service: In this photo, snow is pictured covering a wooden rollercoaster at Michigan's Adventure in North Muskegon, Michigan," ap

1/10/15, "Stunning pictures of Michigan's St Joseph Lighthouse transformed into giant icicles as arctic blast continues to sweep across the US," UK Daily Mail, by Sophie Jane Evans

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mighty US government joins lawsuit to deny Washington Redskins use of trademark. Loss of trademark doesn't mean team must change its name

1/9/15, "Obama lawyers go to court to fight Redskins over team name," Washington Times, S. Dinan

"The Obama administration joined a lawsuit opposing the Washington Redskins‘ team trademark on Friday, filing court papers to defend the federal law that gives the government the power to deny recognition to trademarks it believes to be disparaging.

The Patent and Trademark Office's appeals board had revoked the NFL team’s trademarks last year, finding that they were offensive and so they weren’t protected under federal law. The Justice Department said it agrees with them, and will fight a lawsuit by the team’s owners seeking to overturn the federal Lanham Act as a violation of free speech.

I believe strongly in the rights of all Americans to celebrate and maintain their unique cultural heritage,” said Joyce R. Branda, an acting assistant attorney general. “Going forward, we will strive to maintain the ability of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to make its own judgment on these matters, based on clear authorities established by law,” she added.

Mr. Obama hasn’t always intervened to defend laws. Most notably, his Justice Department refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.

But in this case his Justice Department said the law prohibiting offensive trademarks deserved backing.

Losing trademark protection doesn’t mean the Redskins must change their name, but it could make the name less lucrative because the team could have a tougher time enforcing its brand against counterfeiters.

Some Indians have argued the name is an outdated slur that should not be given federal protections."

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Edgar Martinez should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame-Washington Post, Neil Greenberg

1/6/15, "Edgar Martinez should be in the baseball Hall of Fame," Washington Post, Neil Greenberg

"Edgar Martinez, a seven-time all-star, should be in the baseball Hall of Fame, but support for his candidacy has been waning over the past three seasons.

I’m not surprised that my percentage went down,” Martinez said a year ago. “We just have to wait and see for the future.”

The biggest knock on his enshrinement is that he played as the team’s designated hitter and thus had little to no impact on the defensive part of the game. However, he still deserves to be in.

For starters, the American League has required a designated hitter ever since the 1973 season, so to penalize him for playing at the position is ludicrous. Martinez played his entire 18-year career with the Mariners (1987-2004) and spent the final 10 seasons primarily as a designated hitter. He was so good they named the award for outstanding designated hitter after him.

Martinez hit .312 for his career with an on-base plus slugging percentage that was 47 percent higher than the league average after adjusting for park effects. He also led the league in on-base percentage three times (1995, 1998 and 1999) and had a career mark of .418. He struck out 100 times just once in 18 seasons: his last in 2004 at 41 years old.

According to the Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor, which attempts to determine how likely a player is to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Martinez is at 132. Anything over 100 is considered to be likely enshrinement.

Bill James’ Hall of Fame Career Standards, a 0 to 100 scale which determines how well a player’s career statistics match up to the typical standards of the HOF, has Martinez right at where you would find the average Hall of Famer (50).

His 68.3 career rWar is higher than that produced by Craig Biggio (65.1), who received 74.8 percent of the vote last season. it is also higher than Mike Piazza (59.4), who was listed on 62.2 percent of last year’s ballots.

The numbers speak for themselves: the best designated hitter of all time deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

"Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd." via Free Republic

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Baseball-themed Caribbean cruises

12/25/14, "Caribbean: Baseball-themed cruises featuring retired greats," LA Times, Rosemary McClure

"Three baseball-themed voyages, hosted by former New York Yankees pitcher Stan Bahnsen, are scheduled for this winter and spring.

The seven-night MSC Cruises, "baseball greats" sailings, which depart from Miami, give passengers a chance to meet retired players such as Gorman Thomas of the Milwaukee Brewers, Randy Hundley of the Chicago Cubs and Ken Griffey of the Cincinnati Reds.

Activities include player-hosted trivia games, question-and-answer sessions with players, passenger pitching contests and storytelling sessions. In addition, players host pitching, hitting, fielding and base-running clinics.

Dates: Feb. 7, 21, March 7

Price: From $349 per person, plus fees and taxes. Included are meals, accommodations and entertainment. Airfare, excursions, spa treatments, many beverages and gratuities are not included.
Info: MSC Cruises, (877) 665-4655"

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Star over Bethlehem

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ANSWER Coalition shuts down Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, blocks ambulance at 54th and 5th

12/23/14, "Anti-cop protesters flood NYC despite de Blasio’s appeal," NY Post, by Sean Gubitosi, Aaron Short, Georgett Roberts

"Over a thousand anti-cop activists tried to shut down Fifth Avenue in Midtown and the Upper East Side on Tuesday– defying Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s call for a moratorium on the demonstrations after two Brooklyn police officers were slain.

Many of the activists took shots at the mayor. “The mayor says stop that, we say fuck that!” yelled activists, while jumping in place. The group started on 59th Street and 5th Avenue, went down to 53rd Street, and then marched up the Upper East Side.

Activists said they planned to march up to East Harlem, and then protest at a local precinct. Tarik Grand, 25, of Brooklyn said he was out there because of de Blasio’s words on Monday. “We’re protesting tonight, because the mayor specifically said not to,” he said. “They asked for a moment of silence for the cops, but not for Garner.”

Most of the agitators chanted angrily at the police. “How do you spell murderers? N-Y-P-D!” said the agitators.

“NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” other protesters chanted, who started on the sidewalk before moving onto the streets of Fifth and Madison Avenue.

The activists choked the traffic– and left an ambulance from New York Presbyterian stranded on 54th Street and 5th Avenue.

They began moving downtown on 5th Avenue from 59th Street about 5:30 p.m. The demonstration has been organized by the Act Now To End War and Stop Racism Coalition (ANSWER), which has blasted de Blasio’s words as an effort to “chill the expression of free speech rights.”

The activists are using the hashtags “jailkillercops” and “winter of resistance” to organize their activities.

Two heroic Brooklyn police officers were executed Saturday– after weeks of protests following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a cop who fatally choked Staten Island man Eric Garner while taking him into police custody.

“Personally, I feel it was horrible what happened to the police officers,” said Frangy Pozo, 21, a student at Rutger’s University. “We’re not saying we’re against them. [But] just because they died shouldn’t slow us down.”"

Above image: "ANSWER Coalition @answercoalition In front of the plaza now to Manhattan, NY, United States" via NY Post


12/23/14, "Protesters to Defy De Blasio, Plan to ‘Shut Down’ Fifth Ave. in New York," Breitbart, Kerry Picket

"According to reports, The Answer Coalition said it would go through with the march, which it says was planned long before Saturday night’s murders. They denounced the mayor for asking for a moratorium on protests, saying that would be an “outrageous” attempt to chill free speech."...Above image via Breitbart

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