Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NY Times remains the most powerful force for evil, hatred, and premature death in the world. Latest, published home address of Ferguson officer. Without the NY Times, the world would have a chance

11/25/14, "The New York Times and Other Members of the Ferguson Hall of Shame," Roger L. Simon, PJ Media

"That the photograph of Walter Duranty--the New York Times Moscow correspondent who deliberately whitewashed Stalin’s 1930s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians and won the Pulitzer for it--still is on the newspaper’s wall of fame with their other prize winners is apparently no aberration. The New York Times has no moral center. In fact, it’s despicable. On November 24, they published the home address of Officer Darren Wilson.

By now most of America knows who Wilson is--the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer exonerated for the murder of Michael Brown, the supposed 6′ 6″, three-hundred-pound “gentle giant” who was reportedly on his way to college, but it turns out was holding up convenience stores and trying to grab Wilson’s gun and bashing him in the face all while the officer was sitting in his police car. We also all know the reaction of some of the angrier members of the Ferguson community and those omnipresent “outside agitator” dime-store anarchists to the grand jury announcement — cars torched, minority businesses burned down, looting, gunfire, freeways blocked, etc., etc. A lot of out-of-control mayhem from L.A. to NY with racial hatred fanned at every turn. The NYT apparently doesn’t give a shit (excuse the French, but it’s merited). In the midst of all this, they print Wilson’s address. It was to them “all the news that’s fit to print.” Who cares what might happen to the cop and his family? He’s just a cop, after all, and a white one at that. Definitely not a member of the elite — not bon type, bon genre. (Maybe someone should do a country song — “Two thousand miles from Zabar’s.”)

So much for that newspaper. They’re cancer.

Not quite cancer but pretty bad is Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Not only did he attempt to prejudge the case, calling for Wilson’s head like some minor league Robespierre months before there was any evidence, but then, on the night of the grand jury announcement, after having brought in the National Guard, he goes completely AWOL and doesn’t use the Guards at all, leaving the poor store owners of Ferguson to fend for themselves, not to mention the police. Everyone got to watch the results on TV.

Peter Kinder, the vice governor of Missouri, wants to know what happened. Why no Guards, when they were all set to go? Did the word come down from the White House or the Department of Justice to keep the Guards out? Nixon didn’t answer, just accused Kinder of playing politics. (At least he didn’t play the race card, but that would be hard, white man to white man…. although it’s possible.) 

So we don’t know…yet.

And then there’s Brown’s stepfather who looks about five years older than Brown himself and exhorted the crowds to “Burn the bitch down.” Geraldo wants him indicted, which says a lot. To me he’s a minor player.

And finally there’s the Revered Al, a character straight out of the pages of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. A demagogue with the ear of the president and attorney general, he’s no minor player. 

No wonder he hasn’t been collared for the 4.5 million in back taxes his various organizations are said to owe. O’Reilly thinks he’s the most hated man in America right now and he may be right. He’s certainly in competition with the KKK of old for outright race incitement, although he hasn’t gone as far as lynching, unless you count the Tawana Brawley case, which was pretty close to that....

When it comes to civil rights, more than most of them, I have been there and done that. I was there in the sixties and I was, to my shame, a financial supporter of the Black Panthers. I’m not a young guy and I have seen a lot. And nothing I have seen, after all this time, is sadder than Ferguson."

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Rush Limbaugh describes his friend Al Michaels' new book about events and people in his sports broadcasting career. Limbaugh was at a restaurant in Kansas City with George Brett when he first met Michaels

11/25/14, "A Great Book By NFL Broadcast Legend Al Michaels! You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television," Rush Limbaugh

"Now, we're coming up on Thanksgiving and the holiday season. I want to take a brief moment to tell you a little bit about a friend of mine that you all know but you don't know. And his name is Al Michaels. I got to know Al Michaels some years ago. It was at a restaurant in Kansas City. It was not long after this program birthed. I was in Kansas City, I think for a Rush to Excellence Tour or some such thing, with George Brett

I stopped in Indiana to pick him up at a popcorn factory. He was doing a public appearance. We stopped, went to a restaurant in Kansas City, Plaza III, which, when I lived there, it was a treat.  I mean, it still is, one of the best restaurants in town, of so many.  They had the greatest Plaza III salad, the salad dressing.  I don't know if it's still the same, but back then -- talking seventies and eighties -- it was just out of this world.

So, anyway, we're in there, and I think the Chiefs are playing the Steelers. I think it's a playoff game on the following Saturday. This might have been a Thursday night or Friday night, I forget which.  Anyway, we're walking out, and Dan Dierdorf comes over, says, "I've got somebody that would love to meet." It was Al Michaels. I met Al and we've become fast friends, golf buddies now and then. Al was prominent at our wedding. He's just a great guy, but, you know, you don't know him because he's such a consummate professional.

I know a lot of people in media, of course, and particularly in sports broadcasting, and a lot of them are really good. Jim Nantz is a great guy and a huge talent.  It's a field, you know, you've got two or three that are really exceptional, and Al Michaels is probably the leader of that pack. They're all great people. They do their jobs so well that you don't know them....If you had the chance to meet Al Michaels, I guarantee you he would be exactly what you would hope he would be.

You see him on television every Sunday night doing Sunday Night Football. You see him on Monday Night Football and Monday Night Baseball, start Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants baseball.

He's been doing this for years and years, and he's just a consummate professional, and as such you don't learn much about him because he's not the story. You don't get to know Al. He becomes your friend. You become totally trusting. You respect and understand his authority.

He's one of the few that makes the event bigger than it is by his presence. You could put Al Michaels on the worst Sunday afternoon game on an NFL schedule and it would become the biggest, and there aren't too many who've done what Al does that you could say that about. You could say that about Cosell. You could say it about Jim Nantz at CBS. There aren't too many, but Al is at the peak here.

He's funny. He's happy. He's a great citizen. He's reliable, trustworthy, but the point is he's written a book.

People have been after him to do this for years and he's always resisted. He's not the story, doesn't want to become the story.  He does not take advantage of all of this airtime he's had. I mean, I can remember two occasions where Al Michaels has said something in relationship to taxes or something that everybody agreed with, and I was swamped with e-mail: "Hey, even Al Michaels last night, did you hear what he said about taxes?" Just a five-second line about it.

But he's written a book. He's finally relented and succumbed to the pressure to write a book of his experiences and the people he's known and the stories that are just out of this world. Stories about all the people he's worked with, many of the athletes, some of the other fellow broadcasters. And he doesn't pull any punches on any of these. He's not like a jock, a former player gets a gig in the booth and then immediately shuts up so as not to offend friends that are still players and, you know, gets vanilla.

This book is not vanilla. It's funny, it's outrageous, but it's got some hard hitting stuff in it, too, things that you will never know unless you read the book. Things that you'll never hear about.  And if you're a sports fan, you're gonna eat all of this up. You're gonna hear some of the truthful reactions that Al had to Cosell. You're gonna hear about things that happened in the Monday Night Football booth that you will never hear about anywhere else but this book....

I'll tell you something else about Al Michaels. He makes everybody that works with him better just by virtue of his presence. He elevates everybody else's work. It's not too many people that have achieved this pinnacle, particularly in broadcasting. And he never calls in sick. He's there. He shows up. He's dependable as can be, and when Al is there, you know it's big, and it has that feel, it has that aura about it.

The book is called -- I have it right here. I've got my official copy, and it is called "You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television."...

But even if you're not a full-fledged sports fan, if you're just interested in stories about people in the media and particularly in this case the sports media, and want to learn some things that you'll never know by just watching, you -- and Al's doing some interviews talking about the book. So he's talking about some of these things now, but on Sunday Night Football he will not say a thing about this unless they do a special segment about it a in a pregame show. He will never intrude on the game.

That's a remarkable thing.  It's remarkable professionalism, and it's a throwback mentality about respect for the game, for the job....

It's gutsy he's done this with still a lot of years left in his career. He doesn't pull any punches. I mean, he even goes after Costas in this book over a couple things. Not Costas per se, but an event that involved Costas and salary and baseball.  It's good. You'll like it.  So while you're out there populating your Christmas baskets with Rush Revere and the American Revolution, check out Al Michaels and You Can't Make This Up, because you can't."

Amazon: You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television - Al Michaels 

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Derek Jeter visits Goldman Sachs technology conference in Vegas

11/22/14, "Derek Jeter plays ball with tech honchos," NY Post, Stephanie Smith

"Could Derek Jeter be the next tech mogul? After launching his new sports Web site, The Players’ Tribune, the retired Yankee captain made the rounds at the Goldman Sachs technology conference in Las Vegas.

Jeter has made some noise with several stories on the Tribune, a site the lifetime .300 hitter describes as “a place where athletes have the tools they need to share what they really think and feel.”

It’s where Tiger Woods recently expressed disgust with a satirical column by golf writer Dan Jenkins [“Journalistically and ethically, can you sink any lower?” Woods said], and where Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a devout Christian, said he was a bully in grade school.

“I threw kids against the wall. I rubbed their heads in the dirt at recess. I bit them. I even knocked teeth out,” Wilson wrote in an essay.

Last week, Jeter spoke on a panel with Kim Posnett, Goldman’s head of global Internet investment banking, at the powerhouse Wall Street firm’s annual Vegas tech confab.

He was also spotted chatting up star Jessica Alba, who was a panelist with her Honest Company co-founder Brian Lee at an after-party at the Hyde Bellagio. Alba’s company is prepping to go public with a $1 billion valuation.

In December, Jeter will also discuss business with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at a charity breakfast hosted by Steiner Sports at the Hudson Theater in New York

“Witness history as the two trade secrets to their success, talk startups and reminisce about becoming a champion,” the site says of the breakfast.

Meanwhile, in Vegas Thursday night, Jeter partied with girlfriend Hannah Davis, his sister Sharlee, and buddies Tino Martinez and CC Sabathia at Tao nightclub for what looked like a retirement party.

He was also spotted out at Surrender Nightclub in Encore at Wynn after signing copies of his book “Excellence and Elegance.”

A rep for Jeter didn’t get back to us."

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Derek Jeter plays golf with Obama and big democrat donor in Vegas

11/22/14, "Obama golfing with Derek Jeter – but Shadow Creek may be the real star," csmonitor.com, Linda Feldman, North Las Vegas, Nevada

"President Obama is playing golf Saturday at Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas, one of the most exclusive courses in the world. Retired Yankee great Derek Jeter is on the links with him."

"President Obama loves his golf – and on Saturday, snagged a round at one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world, Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas.

On the links with POTUS: recently retired Yankee great, Derek Jeter. Rounding out the foursome are Stephen Cloobeck, a Las Vegas businessman and big Democratic donor, and Brian Greenspun, editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun.

But the real star of the show might be the golf course itself. Built in the late 1980s by Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, the course is a lush oasis amid the Nevada desert. Dirt dug up during construction was used to create a berm that surrounds the property, protecting the exclusive clientele from prying eyes.

“What happens at Shadow Creek stays at Shadow Creek,” Josh Sens wrote at Golf.com in 2012.

“That's the unwritten rule at this hush-hush desert hangout, prime migration grounds for Las Vegas whales and Michael Jordan's home away from home.”
“Officially, of course, the Tom Fazio design is public access and has been since it opened in 1989, with greens fees pegged at $1,000 (the price has since been slashed in half). But more than two decades later, the course remains willfully under-the-radar, the golf world's answer to Area 51.”

Perhaps, some wags have suggested, getting to play Shadow Creek is the real reason Obama wanted to come to Las Vegas to give a speech Friday promoting his move to defer deportation for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants.

“Pool” reporters accompanying the president, yours truly included, rarely get a glimpse of the president teeing off, and this time is no exception. But we can report that the club house is nicely appointed – comfortable, not flashy. And they serve up a nice Arnold Palmer, a blend of iced tea and lemonade.

“To land a tee time,” writes Mr. Sens, “you not only have to cough up $500 (that includes limo transport to and from the Strip but not the caddie whom you're required to take), you also have to be a guest at an MGM-owned hotel. If your name isn't, say, George W. Bush or Justin Timberlake, play is limited to Monday through Thursday. And even then there's the chance you'll be bumped by a bigwig, someone with the clout to claim the whole joint to himself.”

We did see a limousine or two – and a Rolls Royce – drive onto the property while we (the pool) were held in vans near the main entryway for the first hour. So apparently Obama didn't commandeer the whole club for his party. Indeed, after we got into the club house, we could see another party playing the 18th hole."

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Staten Island house featured in 'The Godfather' is up for sale

11/13/14, "The Staten Island mansion was made famous by the iconic 1972 film," Getty

"The Godfather: 'Corleone family home' for sale," BBC

"The mansion which served as the fictional headquarters of the Corleone family in the 1972 film The Godfather has been listed for sale.

The five-bedroom, seven bathroom mansion in Staten Island, New York, is being advertised for $2.9m (£1.84m). The house was gutted and renovated in 2012 after having been a family home for six decades.

The film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, won three Oscars.

The Godfather was also, for a time, the highest grossing film ever made. The exterior is most famous for being the location of a Corleone family wedding at the start of the film.

The film's production crew transformed five houses on the same street into the Corleone family residential complex."...


11/13/14, "Staten Island house featured in 'The Godfather' up for sale," Fox News
"Technically, only the home's exterior was filmed in the making of the movie, but the Staten Island Advance reports that the current owner, who bought the home in March 2012, has remodeled some of the interior rooms to make them seem more like the ones seen on screen. Among the renovated rooms is a first-floor office made to resemble where Marlon Brandon's don greets supplicants and well-wishers on his daughter Connie's wedding day.

The house was purchased for $1.7 million from the Norton family, who had owned it since 1951. The five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home was originally built in 1930 for future Staten Island Borough President Joseph Palma, who lived there with his wife and 11 eleven children.

But it wasn't until over 40 years later that the home became part of cinema history. Producers and location scouts selected the home for filming on the advice of Staten Island native Gianni Russo, who played Don Corleone's abusive, treacherous son-in-law Carlo Rizzi."...

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Global Warming snow falls on Mt. Rushmore, 11/11/14

11/11/14, " 21h21 hours ago, Le Mont Rushmore est sous la neige! ...Additional EarthCam link

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day

World War II US Air Force pilot and his Stearman biplane; below same soldier in his Air Force Uniform in the 1940's, surviving. At the end of the war in the Pacific, Dad rescued some American soldiers the Japanese had captured. He said the soldiers were in pretty bad shape.

  • Born in Brooklyn in 1922

Portrait in the 1990's. Thanks, Dad.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Fulton Center Subway Complex reopens in Lower Manhattan Mon. Nov. 10-NY Times

11/9/14, "Out of Dust and Debris, a New Jewel Rises, Fulton Center, a Subway Complex, Reopens in Lower Manhattan," NY Times, Vivian Yee

Image: "The platform level of the Fulton Center a day before the restored transportation hub opens to the public. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times" 

"The glass-and-steel prism called Fulton Center began life as a public-transit labyrinth, a spaghetti-bowl tangle of dimly-lit corridors, narrow switchbacks and baffling signage cobbled together out of five subway stations built in the early 1900s.

A century later, and more than a decade after part of the Lower Manhattan subway complex was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the nine subway lines that converge on Fulton Street and Broadway have been knit together anew. New Yorkers, accustomed to thinking of transit hubs like Penn Station and Times Square as places to suffer through, will find on Monday morning a kind of Crystal Palace, crowned by a dome that funnels daylight two stories below ground.

Even with ballooning budgets and repeated delays, Fulton Center was the kind of megaproject designed to inspire hyperbole, and it did: “Forget the Grand Central clock,” said Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, at Fulton Center’s opening on Sunday afternoon. “They’re going to come here.”

She and the other politicians and transit officials who spoke at the opening reminded the crowd of the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when dust and debris entombed the surrounding streets. As daylight streamed through the oculus’s “Sky-Reflector Net,” the speakers all came to the same point, most succinctly summarized by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“This station,” he said, “is a metaphor for a revitalized downtown.”

Around Fulton Street, the scaffolding and cranes that chopped up lower Manhattan have come down. The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened in May. The skyscraper at 1 World Trade Center welcomed its first tenants last week. Up to 300,000 passengers a day are expected to pass through Fulton Center.

But like the others, Fulton Center was never intended simply to restore: with retailers like Tom Ford claiming space in the World Trade Center and a food court drawing buzz in nearby Brookfield Place, officials envision the new building as downtown’s answer to Grand Central Terminal.

A classical guitarist serenaded the opening-event guests. Burberry ads flashed across large screens....

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s architects and construction workers had to resolve century-old rivalries among the nine subway lines around Fulton Street, the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, Z and R. Their stations originally belonged to three competing subway companies.

“It was a nightmare, and you never knew what direction you were headed,” recalled Michael Horodniceanu, the transit authority’s president of capital construction. Now, he said, “We expect it to become the new paradigm for stations.”

The builders smoothed out connections, diminishing the bobbing-and-weaving that had made navigation at Fulton Center an ordeal. Now, among other changes, the A and C lines run a few flights of stairs down from the 4 and the 5. Passengers can reach the 4 and 5 trains from any point along the platform, rather than from the three doors they squeezed through before. And the entire complex is accessible to the disabled.

They threaded a 350-foot-long pedestrian passageway under Dey Street to link Fulton Center with the R and, sometime next year, the World Trade Center PATH train complex, designed as a companion hub. Once the World Trade Center’s complex opens and the Cortlandt Street station is rebuilt, passengers will also find the E and 1 lines through the passageway.

At the end of the new passageway, they brought back something old: ceramic tile art by Margie Hughto that was originally installed at the Cortlandt Street R station in 1997.

They encircled the central hub with shops and kiosks.

Next door, they preserved and built a new foundation for the historic Corbin Building, which will hold more than 36,000 square feet of office space.

The scale of the project was such that the transit authority felt the need to distribute a fact sheet.

There are, for instance, 1,950 fire alarms in the building, which used 60,000 square feet of granite.

More than 50 screens carry maps and service updates, digital art and advertisements, including one for a Burberry watch that displays the correct time when it appears onscreen.

What went unmentioned in the fact sheet were the major setbacks along the way: cost overruns, delays and a corresponding downgrade in ambitions, problems that have plagued other transit authority projects in recent years. The dome was scaled back, a planned direct connection between the R and the E lines scuttled. What was supposed to open in 2007 at a cost of $750 million took seven more years and totaled $1.4 billion.

So it was perhaps understandable that a handful of impatient passengers tried to cut into the station on their way from the A train to the 4 on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Horodniceanu beamed. “Tell them to come back at 5 a.m.,” he called."

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Where college football means the most-NY Times map

"Source: Facebook; stadium locations from football-reference.com"

11/9/14, "The places where college football means the most," NY Times, by

It is hard to explain to someone who grew up in a big city in the Northeast just how big a deal college football is in the Southeast.

College sports, and particularly football, occupy a role at the center of daily life in the South — like in South Carolina, where one of us grew up — that is hard to imagine for many people who grew up in New York or Boston.

Last month we published The Upshot’s map of college football fandom, showing where people root for what college teams. That map offers great detail about what teams college football fans root for in a given location, but nothing about how concentrated college football fans are in that place.

Here, we are looking at another question: not which teams fans root for, but the proportion of the population in various places who are fans of any college football team. We asked Facebook to compile that information, and the results offer a portrait of America’s college-football obsession — or lack thereof. To be more specific:
Alabama has the highest concentration of college football fans. This perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, given that the University of Alabama has finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country in three of the last five seasons and that Auburn has finished twice in the top two. It will also not surprise anyone who has read “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer,” by Warren St. John. Almost 34 percent of Alabama Facebook users were fans of a college football team, more than five percentage points higher than in the state with the next-highest level.

It is difficult to separate correlation from causation from coincidence, however.

Is Alabama college football fandom more intense because its teams are so good? Or are its teams so good because there is such intense fan support, including of the financial variety? (Nick Saban may be the best coach in college football, but he doesn’t come cheap, with a reported $7 million annual salary.) Or have the passionate fans of Alabama been blessed with lucky several years?

We don’t have useful historical data, because widespread adoption of Facebook is too recent a phenomenon.

Regardless, the Facebook data offers circumstantial evidence that last year’s Iron Bowl rivalry game between then-No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn, featuring arguably the greatest ending to a college football game of all time, created a perfect vortex of human emotion.

The South loves college football, but so do pockets of the Midwest.
Our original intuition — that college football means something entirely different in the South than the Northeast — holds up. The states with the lowest rates of college football fandom are five New England states (all but Connecticut) followed by New Jersey and New York. In those seven Northeast states, fewer than 4 percent of Facebook users were fans of a college football team, based on their likes.

Beyond Alabama, the South is heavily represented among states with the highest levels of college football fandom; in the top 10 are Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana.

But Big Ten country makes an impressive showing as well — at least the areas that have a Big Ten college with a strong football tradition. Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio also make the top 10 states for fan concentration, with Wisconsin and Michigan close behind.

Fandom is distributed a bit more irregularly in the Midwest than in the South. For example, Illinois is only No. 40 among states for football fandom despite the presence of the Fighting Illini and the Northwestern Wildcats. Minnesota, home of the Golden Gophers, beats only the Northeastern states in concentration of college football fans.

This data supports the idea that college football fan intensity is linked to football greatness over a long period. Nebraska has a tradition of football success that Illinois and Minnesota don’t, which may factor into high levels of fan attention in that state.

College football attracts the most fans in rural areas without professional teams. There is quite strong evidence in this data that devotion to college football increases the farther you get from large cities, especially large cities with professional sports teams like N.F.L. franchises.

The seven states where more than 25 percent of Facebook users are college football fans have between them exactly one major professional sports franchise: The Oklahoma City Thunder, the pro basketball team that has existed since only 2008 (after relocating from Seattle).

The pattern shows up even more clearly when you look at county-level data. Georgia is a prime example; it is thick in the intense band of Southeastern Conference fandom, surrounded by the football hotbeds Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. The University of Georgia has both a tradition of excellence and has been highly ranked in recent years. Yet only 13 percent of Georgia Facebook users were fans of a college football team, roughly half that of South Carolina.

What’s going on? As it turns out, rural Georgia counties have similar college football intensity to neighboring South Carolina and Alabama. But the Atlanta metro area is the culprit, with only a 11 percent rate of fandom in DeKalb County and 15 percent in Fulton County.

There are two possibilities: One is that Atlanta residents have the N.F.L.'s Falcons to root for and so aren’t as attached to the Bulldogs. Another is that there are more transplants from other regions where college football is less of a passion. Both probably play a role.

Similarly, fandom in Florida is less concentrated in Miami than in the northern parts of the state.

In Cook County, home of Chicago, only 4 percent of residents indicated support for a college team. And the five counties in the United States with the lowest rates of college football fandom are the five boroughs of New York City. Manhattan manages 2 percent, and the other four are all below 2 percent.

Recent excellence (may) matter. You might expect that if a local team has been hugely successful in the recent past, it would attract more fans through a bandwagon effect. That may well be at work with Alabama. There is some evidence this is the case, but it is not conclusive.

One way to test that is by looking at fan intensity in places where the local team has had recent success but not a historical track record of excellence.

The University of Oregon has finished the season among the top 10 teams in five of the last six seasons, but previously was only sporadically ranked in the top 25. One might expect this recent success to coincide with a rise in interest in college football in Oregon. And you would be right. Some 20 percent of Oregon Facebook users were fans of college football, easily more than any of the surrounding states.

But there are some counterexamples.

Boise State has been one of the most exciting college teams of the last decade, finishing in the top 25 nine times since 2002 and going undefeated in 2006 and 2009, despite the program’s having little national success before that. But Idaho’s rate of fandom is actually a bit lower than that of neighboring Wyoming, where the University of Wyoming Cowboys have had a losing record in five of the last seven seasons.

And the University of Missouri has also had a track record of mediocrity before finishing the season in the top 25 in four of the last seven years. Yet Missouri continues to have a much lower concentration of college football fans than neighbors like Arkansas and Iowa.

It will be worth looking at data along these lines in the future to see if the rate of college football fandom rises in places with successful teams and falls in those where the home team has a weak spell.

Add it all up, and it is easy to explain why Alabama and Nebraska have the highest rates of college football fandom. They are both states without large cities and major professional sports franchises, in regions with a strong history of college football support, and with teams that have been excellent in the recent past.

And if there is any question of what parts of the country will have the most collective energy invested in the activities of a bunch of unpaid 18- to 22-year-old men crashing into one another this Saturday, we now have some answers."

"About the Data: It was provided by Facebook using estimates of support for the Football Bowl Subdivision programs, based on the share of Facebook users in a county who “like” a team. Facebook likes are an imperfect measure of fan intensity, including the fact that Facebook users may not be representative of the population at large. The results are also influenced by how intensely different universities cultivate their social media presence, and how widely Facebook is used by people in a given location."

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

San Francisco rejects new tax on sugary drinks. Prop E would've added 2 cents per ounce to cost of sugary beverages

11/5/14, "Sugary drink tax measure fails," San Francisco Examiner, by Joshua Sabatini  

Proposition E, a 2 cent per ounce tax on the purchase of sugary beverages that was heavily opposed by the American Beverage Association, was defeated at the polls Tuesday when fewer than two-thirds of voters supported the proposal.

The tax was proposed to combat health-related illnesses like obesity and diabetes. It drew the support of the majority of the Board of Supervisors, which voted to place it on the ballot, and a number of health organizations, such as the American Heart Association and the California Dental Association.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the large soda companies, had raised $7.7 million as of Sept. 30 to oppose the measure. The group's campaign had seized upon San Francisco's rising cost of living and growing income inequality, and had suggested in ads that the tax would increase the cost of groceries and meals at restaurants.

It is estimated that San Francisco consumes about 3 billion ounces of soda and other sugary beverages annually and that a 2 cent per ounce tax would decrease consumption by as much as 31 percent, according to a City Controller's Office report. Estimates said the tax could generate as much as $54 million a year.

Since the measure specified how the tax money would be spent -- on such things as nutritional school lunches, dental care for low-income residents, increased recreation center hours and water-bottle fill stations -- it required a two-thirds majority of votes to pass....
Supporters had argued that "if we do nothing to address this emerging health crisis, 1 in 3 children today will develop Type II diabetes in their lifetime; for children of color the risk is 1 in 2."

Opponents argued that the tax was unwise in a city where families are already struggling to get by amid rising rents and cost-of-living and questioned whether the funding would result in any effective programs.

The vote came two years after residents in the nearby city of Richmond rejected a similar tax measure by more than 60 percent.

Last year, Mexico adopted a 1-peso-per-liter tax on sugary drinks that took effect this year. But in the U.S., past efforts to curb soda consumption have failed.

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, planned to ban the sale of large sodas, but a judge struck that down last year. And also last year, voters in Telluride, Colo., opposed a soda tax."...

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Earliest snowfall for this date in Columbia, South Carolina since records began in 1886-WLTX

11/1/14, "Earliest Recorded Snowfall Hits Midlands," WLTX.com, Adam Lautenschlager, Columbia, South Carolina

"Parts of the Midlands experienced the earliest recorded snowfall in the history of the region, as some areas saw between two and four inches of snow.

"This has been a historic event," News19 Meteorologist Daniel Bonds said. "It's unprecedented. I've run out of adjectives to describe it."

The winter weather began around daybreak in some areas, and picked up as more precipitation began moving into the area. The snow was Isolated toward Lexington and Saluda Counties, with areas from Irmo to Lexington to Batesburg-Leesville reporting seeing the white stuff. Official reports are that two inches fell, but some areas saw as much as four inches.

The previous earliest recorded snowfall in the Columbia area was on November 9, 1913. Official records in South Carolina began in 1886.

To add to the bizarre nature of the event, this means that the area saw its first snowfall before its first freeze, since temperatures did not go below freezing. Ground temperatures were also well above freezing, which should have made it hard for the snow to stick to the ground.

But it did.

Odder still, we're just a week removed from tying an all-time daily high temperature, when it hit 87 degrees in Columbia last Sunday.

The National Weather Service had earlier issued a winter weather advisory for most the Central and Western Midlands until 11 am, but that advisory was allowed to expire.

Bonds says that roads could be slick where the snowfall has been heavier. The South Carolina Highway Patrol had to shut down a portion of Interstate 20 because the conditions were so hazardous.

The roadway has since been reopened.

The freak storm also knocked out power. By mid-Saturday morning, about 22,000 customers in Lexington and Saluda had no power. Much of that electricity was restored, however, within about three hours.

Daniel says any frozen precipitation should move out by late morning, and the rain should end by mid-afternoon, with temperatures struggling to reach the upper 40s."

Image: "A pic to to celebrate the Snow and the day after Halloween. Jack-Snow-Lantern," Instagram, 11/1/14

Image then published on WLTX: "This says it all: RT @T_Bell32: Snow and day after Halloween = Jack-Snow-Lantern @WLTX," via iceagenow.info 

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