Friday, August 31, 2012

RNC: Disheveled, confused Eastwood tells viewers to 'look for Bridges of Madison County 2 in theaters soon'

Time-strapped beach vacationing families getting help with sand castle construction

New niche company will build castle for you. Stone Harbor, N.J.--It is Labor Day weekend. It's hot. The ocean waters here in the northeast are a comfortable and refreshing 73 degrees. The last jelly fish spotted was back in July, and the ocean breeze has kept the green heads at bay-side--where they belong. With the end of summer looming, families all over the country are attempting to squeeze in last minute vacations before the kids head back to school. Oh, the chaotic month of August and the holiday celebrating labor.

The South Jersey beach towns are no different. Young families blanket the sand with umbrellas and pop-up canopies as far as the eye can see. The patch of ocean directly in front of the lifeguards is packed with swimmers, the waters edge lined with book-reading, low beach chair sun bathers. Ocean winds carry the dull thud sounds of tensely played paddle ball tournaments to the hotter sands near the protective dunes. A futuristic velcro ball game complete with "mitts," plays out where the wet sand ends. New games, such as Disk Dunk, where teams of two dunk a frisbee into a cylindrical container, or washers, a horseshoes-like game, have stormed onto the beach recreation scene.

So much going on during shore (beach) vacations, where has the time usually dedicated to building sandcastles gone? The fact is that sand castle building as recreation is plummeting! Studies have shown that castle building is down 34 percent over the last six years and 54 percent over the past twenty years.

"Handheld gadgets are mostly to blame," says Dr Phillip Anderson, a sociology professor at Atlantic City State College, referring to time spent on cell phones, ipads, ipods, and smart phones. "Technology has basically killed sand castle building as a pastime." Dr. Anderson did recognize the rise in popularity of beach sports--paddle ball, disk dunk, wiffle ball, for example--as possible reasons behind the drop in castle creation, but ultimately blames technology.

Anderson also pointed out that the U.S., which has placed fifth or higher in the Sand Castle Building World Championships from 1973 to 2004, hasn't claimed a spot above 25th place in the time since and didn't even enter a participant in last year's competition. Though competitive building, it speaks volumes about where the hobby has landed on the list of entertainment and tradition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RNC: Gov. Christie uses almost entire keynote speech to promote A.C.'s struggling new Revel casino

The N.J. governor is desperate (and nervous) to see the disappointing $2 billion boardwalk casino, which received plenty of state funding, meet its expected numbers. Actual revenue is well below projected revenue.
Below is an excerpt from New Jersey governor Chris Christie's keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, on August 28, 2012:
One word America: Revel. Yes, Romney, but right now, Revel. What is Revel? America, Revel is the newest casino along the Jersey shore in bustling, exciting Atlantic City. Romney. It has great restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and, not least, gaming. The building is forty-eight stories tall. Forty-eight stories, America! That's pretty tall, you have to admit. Romney. Let's look at the shopping options for a minute. You got Hugo Boss and Denim Habit, do I really need to say anymore? I mean, who doesn't love Hugo Boss? It reminds me of the Boss, Bruce Springsteen and I love, love that guy. Ryan. Let's look at dining for a second, you got the top notch Spanish place Amada, mmm mmm good. If you want something quick hit up Luke's Kitchen and Marketplace--excellent hoagies. Romney. How about the upcoming entertainment schedule? I mean, wow! The Eagles and Barry Manilow ARE COMING TO REVEL. I repeat, The Eagles and Barry Manilow are coming. So, America, stand with me ... at a slot machine on the A.C. boardwalk in the beautiful new Revel casino. Romney. I mean, Revel.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency strips Armstrong of 'First Man on Moon' title

The U.S.A.D.A. claims the astronaut, who passed away on Saturday, had a 'significant' role in pro cycling's doping culture. Armstrong's popular 'space medicines' were widely distributed among professional riders. The family members of the infamous astronaut say they will not contest the agency's ruling. 'Because of the scandal, Armstrong will now be known as the sixth man on the moon,' said one official.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Should thunderstorms be permitted to cross state borders?

One legislator says no way. Feels if storms continue to cross borders than states where the storm developed should pay for damages caused by the same storm in neighboring states.
Nearly one quarter of the lower forty-eight is currently experiencing severe drought conditions. One quarter! The record drought has rendered acres of crops--corn, soy beans, wheat, and corn soy, mostly in the heartland--virtually useless. At the same time, parts of the country have been battered, almost daily, by harsh, unforgiving thunderstorms. Purple, red, and yellow, like moving bruises on a map, have been familiar colors on local doppler radars indicating heavy rain, wind, and strong storms.

A storm popping up in Michigan may move south into Ohio, nip southwest Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, before moving into Virginia and Maryland. The storms can quickly cover hundreds of miles before petering out far from its origin at what meteorologists refer to as the cul-de-sac of destruction.

One senator, whose state has seen its fair share of dark clouds and lightning asked: "Why do we let thunderstorms cross state borders?" It's a fair question, perhaps, one that should have been asked long ago.

"Severe thunderstorms cross state borders every day," says Senator Janice Trout, a republican from Indiana. "They inflict incalculable amounts of damage and in some cases can prove deadly. Let's prevent thunderstorms from crossing state borders."

The infuriated official made it clear that she did not want to be responsible for clean up by storms entering her home state from Illinois or Iowa or Wisconsin. Senate Bill 1209B-19, which Trout recently proposed, calls on states to close their borders to thunderstorms.

"Janice is frustrated," said Sen. Mike McCannon of Ohio, "and I don't blame her. Indiana has been hard hit. I think the country needs to rally around this bill. Prevent thunderstorm damage by closing your borders to these ... these ... these things. Hey, listen, I don't mind state money helping Ohioans--or is it Ohioites?--affected by storms that started in Ohio. But, it pains me to use state money for aid from damage caused by storms forming in another locale."

Mitt Romney and President Obama are set to square off on the controversial bill during the first presidential debate set for October 3, 2012. "It's a topic neither of us can avoid talking about. I have made my position clear," explained Romney. "Thunderstorms should not be able to run willy nilly all over the country over state lines, simple as that." Obama, on the other hand, has not taken a firm stance on the subject, but the President must do so by early October.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

20th Century FOX: BJ and the Bear to be made into feature film starring Gosling, Culkin

Hollywood--Studio giant Twentieth Century FOX announced today that the popular late 1970s and early '80s television show BJ and the Bear will be made into a feature film for release in the summer of 2013. Ryan Gosling will play renegade truck driver BJ McKay, and, in an effort to save money, the sidekick chimpanzee Bear will be played by a costume-wearing Macaulay Culkin. "This is a very complicated character and I look forward to the challenge," said Gosling, at a press conference announcing the new film, about playing Billie Joe McKay. "I look forward to working with Macaulay, and, let's be honest, driving a rig." Bear died in 1984, after crashing an 18-wheeler in the Arizona desert during a Mother's Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) fundraising campaign that had planned for the chimpanzee to drive solo across the country. He had started in California. The movie will be filmed mostly in southern California and select locations around the country, and joins the Dukes of Hazard, 21 Jump Street, Starsky and Hutch and the Flintstones, as popular television-to-big screen remakes. BJ and the Bear also spawned nearly five pornographic films by the same name during the '80s and early '90s, which were banned in nearly sixty countries (including the U.S.) because of animal rights violations.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Steelers to place silent 'P' in front of name?

Pittsburgh--The Steelers are facing a serious dilemma. In a city with three major professional sports teams, they are the odd organization out, quite glaringly, in one (trivial?) aspect.

The N.F.L.'s Steelers, the N.H.L.'s Penguins, and the M.L.B.'s Pirates share the same basic color scheme: black and yellow (or gold in Steeler land). It is the only city in the country where the professional sports clubs purposely color coordinate uniforms on the field or ice. Fashion-conscious sports fans around the nation, but mostly in San Francisco, have long been jealous. Meanwhile, two of these three Pittsburgh franchises have team names that begin with the letter "P". Getting the Steelers to also coordinate letter schemes has been a whole different matter.

"We never wanted the Steelers to change their name completely, but we did want them to add a silent 'P' at the beginning to match the Pirates and Penguins," said Pittsburgh city councilman Frank Dumbauer, who has aggressively lobbied the team to make the letter addition since 1987. "I'm not asking that the new "P" be pronounced, but it would really complete the team color and name scheme that all western Pennsylvanians so desperately desire. It would be fantastic."

In the past, the Steelers--by way of the Rooney family, the owners--have been very clear that they would not even entertain the idea, calling Dumbauer a "loon who should worry about the city's real problems." However, the city councilman's tenacity--he raises the subject every summer around training camp time--has paid off, as the Steelers will hold an online fan vote to decide if a silent "P" should be added to the historic franchise's name.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NBC: Yellow WR swimming line drew millions of N.F.L. fans to Olympic broadcast thinking graphic indicated first down

American football fans strongly related to the moving yellow world record pace line, which appeared during the men's and women's Olympic swimming broadcasts. NBC announcers, in an effort to lure more N.F.L. viewers, referred to the line as the first down line. 'The swimming guy kept almost getting a first down,' said one fan. 'It was great.'

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Australian twins ready to dominate at London Paralympic men's synchronized diving

Above: Paralympic synchronized divers Brendan and Brandon Stevenson of Australia take a practice dive yesterday at the Aquatics Center in London's Olympic Park. The native suburban Melbourne twins dominated the Paralympic Games in Beijing four years ago, taking gold in all three diving events. The two are heavily favored to occupy the top spot on the medal stand at the conclusion of this year's games, which run from August 29 to September 9, 2012, in London.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sustainability at the Olympics: What happens to all the pommel horse manure?

Above: A Japanese gymnast narrowly misses a large pile of pommel horse manure after dismounting from the pommel horse. Gymnasts lose points for coming in contact with the manure. Clean up crews have had a difficult time keeping pace with the absurd amount of solid waste produced by the pommel horse.

London--The host of the Summer Olympics has yet to miss an opportunity to remind viewers and visitors that this 2012 version of the games is the most sustainable ever. Yes, even more so than the 1948 London games, in which the city constructed no new venues when it welcomed the world shortly after WWII ended.

Solar panels provide power for lighting the ExCel Center where fencing and table tennis competitions are held. Geothermal eases the energy demand for climate control in the Basketball Arena. And, roof-mounted wind turbines give life to Earls Court, a 20,000-seat arena, home to the volleyball matches. The city planted over 30,000 new trees near the gleaming sporting venues, which reduces the amount of stormwater runoff destine for the Lee River, a tributary of the Thames, and the Hertford Union Canal. Giant rain barrels strategically placed throughout the park provide water for the elaborate, royal-like (and very thirsty) gardens dotting the landscape.

But it doesn't end there.

So green are these Olympics that the pommel horse manure, usually discarded into a local landfill or discreetly (or often not so discreetly) unloaded into a nearby waterway of a host city, is being recycled and stored energy extracted to lessen the demand on the power grid.

Four years ago, Beijing dumped over three million tons of pommel horse manure into the moat surrounding the Forbidden City and the far-away Yangtze River at the conclusion of the games. In 2004, an economically-challenged Greece called on (pleaded?) other European nations to accept some of the manure produced by the apparatus. And, in 2000, the Australian government disposed of the pommel horse manure by, first rounding up, then filling the pouches of thousands of kangaroos, who then hopped into the expansive Outback.

These cities are kicking themselves now after seeing what London has done with pommel equine droppings. "Beijing considered harnessing the power but never followed through," said Hillary Cartwright, an engineer with Cooper-Sinclair, an energy consulting company that worked closely with the British government when planning the summer games. "One piece of manure can power a four-inch flat screen television for twenty-seven seconds. We thought, 'Imagine what tons of manure can do?'"
Above: Predicting when the pommel horse will relieve itself has been a real headache for gymnastics organizers. 

"Pommel horse manure is just a simple fact of the Olympics," said Gary Thomas, London 2012 vice president of sustainability. "We knew this when we bid for the games and we wanted to find a suitable use for the, excuse my language, horse shit. We think we did."

The pommel horse manure is being used to fuel the entire Olympic Village, the compact city within a city in East London's Olympic Park, where the athletes call home during the two-week competition. During breaks between performances, the manure is gathered from beneath the pommel horse by local homeless volunteers in three-gallon, Union Jack-emblazoned buckets, brought to the loading dock of North Greenwich Arena, then transported by container truck to the Olympic Village Dung Power Generating Plant, located along the north side of the high-rise residential towers near Temple Mills Lane.

Amaro on placing Cliff Lee on waivers: 'Waivers? Are you kidding? No, I placed Cliff's jersey on a box of wafers.'

With trade rumors swirling around the Phillies, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. reassured starting pitcher Cliff Lee with a box of Nilla Wafers on Thursday, the left-hander's favorite kind of cookie. "I wanted to surprise Cliff with some wafers, he loves those things, so I put his jersey on top of the box at his locker at Nationals Park. Somehow that got all turned around and it sounded like I placed Cliff Lee on waivers. That's absurd, I placed Cliff Lee on wafers. I mean, his jersey. C'mon, people!"