Sunday, October 31, 2010

Not Another New England Sports Blog! Wishes you a Model Halloween


Ah- Halloween, when the kiddies are out trick-or-treating and the adults sometimes get to play dress-up too. It's been awhile since I got to do that, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the end results of others and their costumes.
While some are unfortunate and others are nothing short of complete disasters, others work out quite well, even when they don't work out as intended.

Not too long ago, I was working nights at a sports bar when we were invited to a party afterwards. To my surprise, I saw one of the attractive-but-painfully-shy waitresses there in a costume with fishnet stockings and a pseudo-tuxedo top along with a top hat. To say it was a good look for her would've been the understatement of this relatively young century [unfortunately this all took place before I ever got myself a digital camera or cameraphone- NANESB!].

So, finally after some guesswork on my part, I simply asked her 'Magician's assistant?'

'No...' she replied rather sheepishly and began to explain. 'I was trying for the female Penguin look, but I couldn't get my hands on a monacle or one of those cigarette holders at the last minute'

'The Penguin? From Batman?' I asked

'Yeah'

'But you're not hideously deformed or anything' I replied, with Danny Devito's waddling, hooked nosed antagonist from Batman Returns being the only incarnation of the Penguin I could think of off the top of my head.

'Um- thanks?' she said, arching an eyebrow at my gaffe. 'As you can see, things didn't work out. I couldn't even get an umbrella- do you think anyone will notice?'

'Yes...they're all pointing and laughing at you behind your back. Nah.' I said, trying to be nonchalant. 'As long as you don't go around advertising that you're missing a bunch of stuff, I think you'll be just fine.'

It was kind of funny to hear her stressing over whether or not anybody would notice her costume was incomplete. It would be a little like the raven-tressed bruja pictured above fretting over her costume being incomplete because she left the stuffed black kitty at home.

Speaking of which, the title of this 1959 image by the incomprable Gil Elvgren is 'Riding High'.


While Elvgren, like many other pin-up artists of the day, used live models for much of his work, there doesn't seem to be nearly as many photos of them posing for other pieces are there are of this one model for Riding High, which I thought I'd include....you know...in the interest of being thorough.

So happy halloween and for the love of god, stay away from the candied corn....why do they even still make that stuff?

Today's Train of Thought- Pumpkin Patch Doubleheader, October 31 2010


Shortly after Halloween, a shrill whistle pierces the quiet afternoon of a crisp autumn afternoon as a pair of Canadian National steam engines chuff past with a short freight train.

You might assume this scene took place some 50-60 years ago, but this was actually snapped by railpictures.net contributor Christian Signorelli on in the fall of 2007 on the 4 ½ mile Strasburg Railroad. The Starsburg operates in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, literally across the street from the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg, PA. The present-day Strasburg was established by a group of rail enthusiasts in 1958 after the original Strasburg fell on hard times when traffic began drying up after WWII and a series of storms washed out its right of way throughout the 1950s.

Although compact, the Strasburg's roster is primarily steam powered, with at least four operating examples of locomotives from Baldwin or the Canadian Locomotive Company. And with restored vintage equipment available from the museum, the Strasburg also operates occasional 'photo freights' alongside their year-round excursions (and infrequent revenue freight- the line still does have some customers). Here, Mr. Signorelli caught the Strasburg's two ex-CN steamers- CLC 2-6-0 #89 and Baldwin 0-6-0 #7312- on a rare doubleheaded photo freight making it's way past the pumpkin patch on an Amish farm at the Cherry Hill station site on November 5th, 2007.

The Strasburg also has an operating former Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 and an ex-Great Western 'decapod' 2-10-0 available.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Not Another New England Sports Blog! Presents the Gawker-Friendly October Surprise Press Kit

In the wake of the apparent Gawker fiasco involving an alleged one night stand with Delaware Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell by an anonymous author, I though I'd offer a press kit for future 'October surprises' centering around two consenting adults who may or may not have had sex (but probably not in the instance Gawker has highlighted).....particularly if the candidate is a fairly attractive woman running for office as a Republican.

Just use this template for future press releases or disclosures to the tabloid and watch the attention you've so desperately been whoring for come crashing in like a tidal wave:

Dear [insert publication or website name here] ________________:

I never thought it could happen to a guy like me. This took place a few years ago when I was a

[] Superbowl MVP Quarterback

[] Army Force Recon SAS Ranger SEAL Commando

[] Secret Agent Billionaire Cowboy

[] Deadbeat College Student.


It was Halloween and I had been pounding

[] Jello Shooters

[] Budweiser

[] Black Tar Heroin

[] Absinthe poured into an upside down bowler hat


all afternoon when in walked my roomate's girlfriend's cousin's sister's best friend and her classmates. I could tell they all wanted me so bad, but I was all like "Yeah, whatever" as I looked up from the

[] XBox

[] Nintendo 64

[] Laser Tag

[] Gaming platform yet to be invented.


I've gotten used to it with this cursed animal magnetism of mine totally drawing the shorties to me like a moth to flame. But still, it get's annoying after awhile, and one look from my steely azure eyes let them know that I was so not interested.

But this one chick wouldn't take the hint. For her Halloween costume, she was dressed up like

[] A Ladybug

[] A Maid

[] A Bellydancer

[] That Asian Dominatrix I pay to strangle me every week.


It was a good look for her, but she threw off this sort of desperate and clingy vibe that made me uneasy. Plus I couldn't help but shake the feeling that she would some day be in the running for

[] Congress

[] US Senate

[] Governor

[] America's Top Model


on a number of issues that made this 100% red blooded and heterosexual all American ladykiller who isn't afraid to show his sensitive side more than a little nervous. At this point she asked me if she could change right there and before I could even respond, her costume was already in a heap on the floor and [sordid details redacted] _____________________________.

[insert ambiguous and unverifiable boast about your unmatched sexual prowess over hapless, naked, mousy future political candidate here _______________________.]

Then she got all clingy and would like e-mail me and text me every month and be all "The restraining order says 50 feet- why is that so hard for you to understand?" "Hey- do you wanna hang out?". This chick would seriously not leave me alone, but being well versed in the art of seducing women I had absolutely no interest in, I was used to it. I didn't give it too much though at the time until just recently when I was watching TV and saw footage of

[] Christine O'Donnell

[] Nikki Haley

[] Yulia Tymoshenko

[] Lousie Slaughter

and I was like "Oh my god! That's so totally the chick that wouldn't leave me alone!". I mean..... "That's so totally one of the many chicks who won't leave me alone because I'm so awesome in the sack that I always leave them panting for more".

Why am I writing this, you may ask? Some of you out there might think I did it for the six figure check [insert name of publication or website______] cut me while others might think this anonymous, one-sided version of events is simply self serving bragging about one-night stands to compensate for experimenting with my bunkmate at the all-boys sleepaway camp advertise my Lothario-like charms and unmatched allure to all the chicks out there. To that, all I can say is 'shame on you'.

No, my pure and unselfish reasons for doing this are to warn you of the consequences of voting for somebody I totally did.

Well...OK, technically I didn't 'do' her, but she was like right there in front of me, and her being in the same room as me is clearly an indication of her longing for an unforgettable carnal encounter with yours truly, and she probably knew I was going to ditch her anyways.

So in closing, don't forget to vote for

[] Chris Coons

[] Vincent Sheheen

[] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

[] Keyser Soze

on November 2nd.

-Sincerely

Anonymous dude who's totally awesome in bed

Friday, October 29, 2010

RCMP: Anti-Tank Weapon With Live Ammunition Discovered Abandoned Next to BC Highway

Crews contracted by BC Hydro to clear brush from underneath power lines discovered a loaded anti-tank weapon not 20 feet from the Trans Canada Highway on Friday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a Canadian Forces ordinance disposal unit were called to secure the area about 25km north of Victoria BC and take custody of the device.

The weapon was identified as an M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (a predecessor to the US Army's AT-4). RCMP Sgt. Rob Webb said that the weapon appeared to be at that location for a few weeks before being discovered.

I'm not sure why a loaded anti-tank weapon would be abandoned by the side of the road in Canada, but it does seem pretty disturbing in light of today's other events. Police elsewhere in British Columbia have said they seized a similar weapon in a raid on a marijuana growing operation in a rural area outside of Kamloops earlier this year. So there may be nothing more to it than that, but it seems extremely foolish to dismiss this report with a mere "Oh come on now, that could be anybody's loaded rocket launcher abandoned by the side of the road."

Also keep in mind that for the failed 1999 Millennium Bombing plot, one of the perpetrators was discovered attempting to enter the USA through Port Angeles, WA with explosives after taking a car ferry from Victoria, BC.

Hearty San Francisco Sports Chowdah Update- Giant Gains By the Bay; Leafs Shut Out; Celtics Turn Down Heat; Ponder-ous Florida State Loss in Raliegh

I was flipping around between the World Series, the Bruins and the NC State/Florida State games last night, so instead of being able to tune in to all three games, it was more like trying to get caught up on all three games.

WORLD SERIES: And just like that, the San Francisco Giants are out to a 2-0 lead in the 2010 World Series. I'm not really surprised by that as much as I am the margin of San Francisco's victories.

They jumped all over Cliff Lee in Wednesday night's 11-7 win- the Ranger's starter didn't even make it through the 5th inning, getting yanked with two away after giving up an RBI double to Freddy Sanchez and RBI singles to Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross. It got even worse for the Ranger (who did lead 2-0 early in the game) when Darren O'Day came on and gave up a homerun to deep left off the bat of Juan Uribe to make it 8-2 by the time the 5th inning was finished. Despite that, the Rangers were able to cut into the lead on a Bengie Molina RBI double and a David Murphy single to make it an 8-4 game. However, the Texas bullpen would continue to self immolate, giving up three more runs in the bottom of the 8th, and while the Rangers were able to score 3 more runs in the bottom of the 9th, it was too little too late.

For Game 2, Branch Rickey's quote about baseball being a game of inches never seemed more accurate when Ian Kinsler led off the top of the 5th inning with a booming double off of Giants starter Matt Cain that bounced off the top of the wall and teetered back into play. Had it rolled the other way, it would've been a 1-0 Texas game. Instead, Kinsler was stranded at second and Edgar Renteria belted a solo homer that put San Francisco up 1-0. Texas' CJ Wilson went 6 decent innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits. But all of that would be forgotten when the Rangers bullpen once again took over and self-immolated, giving up 7 earned runs on fice hits and four walks to give San Francisco a 9-0 lead. The Giant's Matt Cain threw 7 and 2/3rds shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out two for the Giants' 9-0 win on Thursday night.

For Game 3, the series heads to Arlington, TX with Colby Lewis getting the start against Jonathan Sanchez on Saturday night. Lewis has gone from closing out the Yankees to being the last, best hope for the Rangers in this World Series. First pitch is at 6:57 PM Eastern Time.
NHL: Phil Kessel earned the gratitude of the crowd at TD Banknorth Garden Thursday night when the Bruins played host to the Maple Leafs after 1st round draft pick Tyler Seguin tallied an insurance goal. Almost as soon as the red light went off behind Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson, the Bruins faithful broke out into a spontaneous, taunting chant of "Thank you, Kessel!".



Kessel's demands for a new, pricey contract or else be traded from Boston culminated in the September 2009 deal where he wound up in Toronto in exchange for Toronto's first overall draft pick in the 2010 NHL Draft as well as another one in the 2011 draft. Let us not forget that the Maple Leafs are responsible for giving us Tukka Rask as well....

But back to last night's game....Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring with his first goal of the season coming on a Bruins power play with less than a minute left in the first period. Seguin's goal- even strength- came in the second period with assists from Michael Ryder and Dennis Seidenberg and Tim Thomas faced on 20 shots from the Leafs in Boston's 2-0 shutout win. The Bruins head into Saturday night's game at Ottawa with a 5-2-0 record.

The Bruins had the option of sending Seguin down to Providence after nine games, but after the game, Claude Julien announced that they plan on keeping him in Boston for the rest of the year.


NBA: Can you believe the NBA season's here already? After beating Lebron James' new team pretty convincingly, the Celtics stumbled against a LeBron-less Cavs. In the 4th quarter, with the game tied 86-86, Cavs Guard Anthony Parker hit a 3 pointer that was subject to review over whether or not the shot clock had expired and if his toes were on the line. Doc Rivers, not surprisingly, objected- saying it was one of the longest seconds in NBA history.

So after beating the Miami Heat at home Tuesday night by a final of 88-80 (this coming despite a 31 point night by LeBron), the C's fall to Cleveland by a final of 87-95, giving them a .500 record. The C's will next host the Knicks on Friday night.

NCAA FOOTBALL: The North Carolina State Wolfpack managed to come back from a 21-7 halftime deficit against #16 Florida State on Thursday night. Facing a 4th and goal from the 1-foot line with 2:44 left, the Wolfpack decided to go for the go-ahead touchdown instead of the game tying field goal, and it paid dividends, putting NC State up 24-28. But Florida state would march right back down the field from their own 29 yard line on the next possession, and when it looked as though the Seminoles would score the go-ahead TD with less than a minute left. However, 'Noles QB Chris Ponder fumbled the ball inside the NC State 10 yard line, effectively putting away the game for the Wolfpack by the 28-24 final.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NCAA: A 20-year old Notre Dame Student died Wednesday when a tower used to film the football team's practices collapsed. Declan Sullivan was filming the practice from a hydraulic scissors lift for ND's athletic department. Most of the Midwest had been experiencing harsh weather for the past few days and the National Weather Service reported that there was wind gusts of up to 51 MPH in the area at the time of the incident.

NFL: The Minnesota Vikings have listed QB Brett Favre as questionable for starting Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. Two fractures were discovered in Favre's ankle after the Viking's Sunday night game against Green Bay. The latest injury puts Favre's NFL-record of 291 consecutive starts in jeopardy. Head coach Brad Childress announced that it will likely be a gametime decision on his part.

Explosives Bound for USA Discovered on Cargo Flights

Suspicious parcels discovered in airfreight shipments by authorities in the UK and United Arab Emirates prompted a terror alert in which UPS planes were grounded in Newark and Philadelphia.

Federal investigators were inspecting the contents of the grounded planes at Newark's Liberty airport and Philadelphia International based on concerns over a terrorist threat originating from Yemen.
The Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is suspected, and investigators are looking into whether the packages were part of a dry run for a future mail-bomb plot. A UAE official told the Associated Press late Friday that an "explosive device" in Dubai was found in a courier company's regional hub.

FedEx reported earlier that a suspicious package was found at its Dubai facility.

Another package, found on a UPS plane at East Midlands Airport in central England, contained what looked like a toner cartridge with white powder and wires coming out of it.

The Thursday night discoveries prompted U.S. authorities on Friday to sweep a UPS plane in Newark, N.J., two UPS planes in Philadelphia and two UPS trucks in New York City.

The planes in Philadelphia are still being investigated. The Newark flight and New York trucks have been cleared [snip].

Given the origin of the packages, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula "is at the top of the list" of suspects, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"Since two of the suspicious packages that were intercepted were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations," Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said.

Federal law enforcement officials said the suspicious device that resembled a toner cartridge was removed from the a flight in a distribution center at East Midlands Airport in the U.K.

A crew member aboard a UPS plane arriving to Philadelphia from Paris later notified authorities on approach about a suspicious package. The crew member described a possible radiological component to the package, the incident report said. The two occupants safely exited the aircraft after landing in a remote area of the airport.

A second UPS plane was isolated near the UPS terminal at the Philadelphia airport before take off, the report said.

A third UPS plane, which arrived at Newark Liberty Airport from East Midlands in the U.K., was investigated, but UPS says it was cleared and proceeded on to Louisville, KY.

Two UPS trucks in Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y., were also investigated and cleared, officials said.

Law enforcement officials also are investigating a suspicious packages in Portland, Maine. No word on whether that package has any links to UPS or Yemen.

"As an additional safety measure, FedEx embargoed all shipments originating from Yemen," Maury Lane, spokesman for FedEx told Reuters.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's Train of Thought- Say "Adirondack"; October 28, 2010


Today's train of thought takes us to the opposite shore of Lake Champlain and the Canadian Pacific's former Delaware & Hudson line between Albany, NY and Montreal, QC.

This end of the D&H wasn't historically as busy as the Mechanicville, NY to Binghampton, NY segment, which to this day serves as a bridge line between New England and the mid-Atlantic states and points west. However, besides being the railroad's gateway to Canada, the more northerly and scenic portion of the D&H was noteworthy in that it hosted one of the few post-Amtrak passenger trains where a freight railway used their own locomotives and rolling stock, when the railroad resumed passenger hauling with the Adirondack in 1974.

Amtrak eventually assumed control of the Rensselaer, NY to Montreal segment of the Adirondack and to this day is rated as one of the passenger carrier's most scenic routes. Through it all, the Adirondack has continued operating through the host railroad's acquisition and subsequent messy divorce from Guilford Transportation, the more amicable divorce from New York Susquehanna & Western and it's current ownership by Canadian Pacific.

In fact, traffic on the Albany-Montreal section of the D&H is expected to see an increase, with the Canadian Pacific and CSX reaching an agreement on hauling CSX freight between Selkirk, NY and Montreal, eliminating a lengthy detour via Syracuse, NY for CSX. In return, CSX would handle Canadian Pacific's freight between New York City and Selkirk. Aside from the already existing CP traffic and newly rerouted CSX traffic, the Adirondack also has to compete with trains 666 and it's less satanic counterpart 667, a unit ethanol train that runs between North Dakota and Providence, RI via Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Rutland, VT (onto the Vermont Railway, New England Central and Providence & Worcester).

Railpictures.net contributor Frank Jolin knows this line well, and on October 23, 2009 he caught Amtrak P42CD #16 leading the southbound Adirondack (train #68 on most timetables), complete with a dome car, making it's way past the Red Rocks above Lake Champlain's Willsboro Bay, just north of Willsboro NY.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bill For Illegal Immigrants' Medical Care Costs Bay State $35 Million

Gov. Deval Patrick's office- acting under orders from the Massachusetts Secretary of State- released figures showing that an estimated 52,000 illegal immigrants in the MassHealth Limited system cost the commonwealth $33.8 million in taxpayer funded in-patient care and another $1.9 million in emergency care [no word if this included coverage for Obama's Aunt Zeituni- NANESB!].

For some reason, Patrick doesn't want to talk about it.
The Patrick administration, which supplied the figures last week, refused to make state health insurance officials available to discuss them.

But critics were quick to blast the huge medical bill being footed by hard-pressed, law-abiding taxpayers.

“Incorporating illegal immigrants into any type of government-sponsored health care is legitimizing their presence here,’’ said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favors stricter immigration policies. “It’s a kind of piecemeal amnesty.’’
Keep in mind this is the same Deval Patrick who initially vetoed $500,000 to keep the outpatient clinic at the Soldier's Home in Holyoke open not even a year ago. It wasn't until after veterans and Soldier's Home staff protested the closure that Patrick did an about-face just days before the January special US Senate election between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley.

[Hat tip- Spitfire Murphy]

Feds Arrest Suspects in Northern Virginia, Hawaii in Seperate Alleged Terror Plots

Hmmm.....must be those dangerous Tea Party activists, healthcare opponents or the various and sundry right-wingers that the Department of Homeland Security and Mayor Bloomberg warned us about.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, conspired with people he believed to be al-Qaeda operatives to attack the stations at Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Court House, the indictment said.

An administration official said Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, first drew the attention of law enforcement officials by seeking to obtain unspecified materials. He later became the target of an undercover sting operation, officials said.

According to the indictment, in April Ahmed began to meet in hotels in Northern Virginia with people he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. He agreed to conduct video surveillance of the stations, suggested the best time to attack and the best place to place explosives to maximize casualties, the indictment alleges.
Meanwhile in Hawaii, the FBI arrested a 21-year old man who had been turned away from Jordan and Pakistan who was hoping to link up with jihadi groups to learn guerrilla warfare tactics and bomb-making.
The 21-year-old [Abdel Hameed Shehadeh] born and raised in New York created websites and posted threats of radical Islamic violence, including one from another American expatriate, Anwar al Awlaki. Then Shehadeh flew to Hawaii and allegedly started taking target practice.

FBI agents said he wanted to join a jihadist group to learn “guerrilla warfare and bomb-making.” Had he been welcomed into the U.S. army, they said, his plan was to defect in Iraq and turn against his comrades.

Shehadeh’s journeys ended last Friday. He was arrested in Honolulu and accused in a federal criminal complaint, unsealed Monday, of making false statements in an international terrorism case
Wait....what? They're not with the Tea Parties? That can't be right....I mean it's not like the SPLC or NAACP would lie about or exaggerate such things.

[Hat tip: Eat It or Wear It]

Indonesian Islands Hammered by Quakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis

Authorities in Indonesia are attempting to cope with no less than two disasters that have struck seperate parts of the country. Television reports from Java indicate that at least 28 people were killed when the 9700 ft Mt. Merapi volcano erupted, unleashing a plume of toxic gases and superheated ash throughout the reigon.

At least 11,000 people scattered thoughout small villages live at the foot of the volcano. Authorities have tried setting up a 4-mile exclusion zone around Merapi, but locals can easily circumvent it with a network of footpaths that lead back to their properties ignoring official warnings to check on their houses and livestock.

Vulcanologists have indicated that pressure is building up under a lava dome inside of Merapi, a likely precursor to a larger and more devestating eruption. The volcano is located in the Yogyakarta province of Indonesia's most populous island.

Meanwhile, about 800 miles to the west, at least 154 people are dead and another 500 missing off of Sumatra's west coast after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake triggered a tsunami on Monday. The quake took place along the same fault line that started the devestating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Rough seas, bad weather and the remote location of some of the stricken areas have hindered relief efforts, leaving survivors to make do with what they could salvage for two days. Fishermen were scouring the waters for survivors while corpses littered beaches and roads in some parts of Sumatra. Cargo planes carrying tents, food, fresh water and medicine were expected to arrive in the area later on today.

Frostbite Falls in Mourning as Rocky & Bullwinkle Creator Passes Away

Alexander Anderson Jr, the creator of the Rocky & Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right cartoons, passed away at age 90 in his Carmel, CA home on Tuesday.

Anderson was the nephew of Paul Terry, whose Terrytoons included Mighty Mouse and were distributed in theaters. After working with his uncle, Anderson and his longtime friend Jay Ward got together and began producing cartoons for the emerging television market in the late 1940s.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Voting Machines on Auto-Pilot? Irregularities Showing At Early Polling in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas

Well, they couldn't get the absentee ballots off in time in New York or Illinois, so why on earth would any of us think the early polling go any better elsewhere?

Early voting for the Nov. 2nd mid-terms got off to a rocky start in some jurisdictions this week.

By Tuesday night, there were reports that polling stations in at least two counties in North Carolina were experiencing problems with the touchscreen voting machines.
Laughinghouse cast his ballot at the [Craven] county administration building at about 2:30 p.m., he said. After voting, he located a Republican worker on site and asked to speak with her about his voting machine issue. A man interrupted, he said, directing Laughinghouse to talk with him instead. That man said the machine likely needed to be calibrated, Laughinghouse said, and set about the method to do so
Nearby New Hanover County also experienced similar problems on the first day of One Stop Voting earlier this month.

Out in Nevada, there have been reports coming in from Las Vegas and elsewhere in Clark County that voters have found their touchscreen voting machines had already checked Harry Reid's name.
Voter Joyce Ferrara said when they went to vote for Republican Sharron Angle, her Democratic opponent, Sen. Harry Reid's name was already checked.

Ferrara said she wasn't alone in her voting experience. She said her husband and several others voting at the same time all had the same thing happen.

"Something's not right," Ferrara said. "One person that's a fluke. Two, that's strange. But several within a five minute period of time -- that's wrong."
As it turns out, the technicians for the voting machines are represented by SEIU Local 1107, which has supported Reid's bid for a fifth term as senator. Perhaps even more ominously, Reid's son Rory also happens to be the chairman of the Clark County Commission and is running for governor of Nevada.

In Texas, there have been reports of votes for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry being switched to the Green Party's Deb Shafto and votes for Democrat candidate Bill White being shifted to show Rick Perry, again using touchscreen technology.

And in Troy, NY, New York State Police investigators have taken DNA samples from a Troy city councilman and the city clerk as part of an ongoing absentee voter registration fraud case from last year. The two officials are suspected of forging dozens of absentee ballots and attributing them to voters who had no role in filling them out.


As an aside, I worked as an election worker in a statewide special election a few years back. The only position that was available at the time was to set up and inspect the touchscreen voting machine. I was assigned to a polling station in a village of about 1800 and maybe 40 people showed up all day. The county gives you the choice of paper ballot or the touchscreen, and none of the voters who showed up wanted to use the touchscreen, so I was basically the Maytag repairman throughout the day. And even though nobody used the machine, we had to secure the memory card and printout with the paper ballots as though there really were votes to be tallied on there before handing them off the the Sheriff's department.

So with that in mind, the million dollar question is "Do each of these jurisdictions offer a choice between paper ballot or the touchscreen, or is it exclusive touchscreen voting?". Although clearly not 100% tamper-proof, I would prefer to use a paper ballot myself come election day in light of recent events.

Today's Train of Thought- Peak-a-Boo! October 26, 2010


I already mentioned that New England doesn't necessarily have the monopoly on fall colors, right? True enough, the foliage in Michigan's upper peninsula or upstate New York's Adirondack and Hudson Valley regions explode into similarly brilliant displays of reds, oranges and yellows- all making for impressive photographic backdrops.

Although many areas in the Southeast or mid-Atlantic can be hit or miss, West Virginia has no shortage of autumn foliage. Railpictures.net contributor Chase Gunnoe reported that a particularly mild summer in 2009 resulted in noticeably brighter oranges and yellows. Here, he snapped CSX (ex-Conrail) GP38-2 #2751 heading south through Ben's Run, WV in October 2009 with a local. The local train originated at Brooklyn Jct. in New Martinsville, WV and is heading south parallel to the Ohio River and WV Route 2 en route to switching some of the industries along the former B&O Ohio River Subdivision.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Obama Urges Hispanics to 'Punish Enemies' in Univision Interview

This from our post-racial, post-partisan President of course.


“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2,” Obama said in the interview, which was taped Friday in Los Angeles.
And what 'enemies' is the Commander in Chief referring to? Al Qaeda? A nuclear Iran? The Mexican cartels and their murderous enforcers?

Gosh no, you naive rubes. He's talking about Republicans- you know, the political party that's been out of power for the last four years.
Obama sought to place blame directly on Republicans, who he said have turned on Latinos by focusing only on border security, supporting Arizona’s immigration enforcement law and opposing the Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for some students and those who serve in the military.

“Those aren’t the kind of folks who represent our core American values,” Obama said of Republicans
Yes, apparently focusing on border security and enforcing this nation's laws is contrary to core American values in Obama's eyes. I mean anybody who opposes wholesome Democrat supported legislative items like 0bamacare, Card Check, Cap & Trade or another stimulus clearly hates mom, baseball, apple pie and all things American.

Let that sink in. We have a sitting president of the United States of America who is exhorting one ethnic group to 'punish their enemies', referring to other US citizens as the 'enemy'.

Nov 2nd cannot come fast enough.

[hat tip- Lonely Conservative; Hugh Hewitt]

Upright Sports Chowdah Recap- Posting Gains in San Diego; Texas Sized Upset; NL Champs? They Might Be Giants; BC Spiral Continues at Turtle's Pace

NFL: OK now....you can unclench.

In the end, it looked like the Patriots wanted to give it away, but the Chargers were having none of it.

The Chargers were headed into week 7 hosting the Patriots in a must-win scenario after dropping two in a row. With 4 turnovers by the Chargers in the first half- including a botched lateral that nearly everybody on the field walked away from before realizing it was a live ball and rookie Richard Goodman leaving the ball on the field after his first career reception (a 25 yard pickup) San Diego was fortunate to be trailing New England by a 13-3 margin at halftime.

The Patriots opened up the second half with an eight minute drive culminating in a Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis TD run from the San Diego 1 yard line to make it a 20-3. But as badly as San Diego played in the first half, the came on strong in the 4th quarter, moving the ball down the field efficiently and outscoring the Pats 17-3. New England got the ball back at their own 40 after the Charger's kickoff went out of bounds, but couldn't convert on 4th and 1, turning the ball over on downs. San Diego was able to get the ball as far as the Patriots 27, running the clock down to 28 seconds in regulation in the process. However, a procedural penalty against the offense forced newly-signed San Diego kicker Kris Brown to attempt the field goal from mid-field. The 50-yard attempt hit the post and New England barely holds on to win by a final of 23-20 on the road.

The Chargers fall to 2-5 while the Patriots have a fairly spiffy 5-1 record. New England has an identical record with the idle Jets, while elsewhere in the AFC East Miami fell to 3-3 with a 23-22 loss to the Steelers in South Florida Sunday afternoon. Tom Brady went 19-32 with 159 yards and a touchdown. Pretty quiet day from Wes Welker, although on special teams Zoltan Mesko acquitted himself fairly well after a couple of bad snaps (including some one-hoppers).

I think when all is said and done, I'm going to have to nominate the right upright of the goal post at Qualcomm stadium as Sunday's MVP for the Patriots.

Next weekend, the Pats will be reunited with Randy Moss at Foxboro as the Vikings come in to town fresh off their Sunday night loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

A picture's worth a thousand words- BWA HA HA HA HA HA!!!
MLB: So....has anybody gone with the 'Steers & Queers' World Series moniker yet?

All I can say is remember when a starting pitcher signing with or getting traded to the Rangers was more or less a career death sentence?

The Texas Rangers had Cliff Lee ready to go for Game 7 should the ALCS get that far. As it turned out, there was no need. With the Rangers heading back to Arlington, TX holding a 3-2 advantage in the ALCS, Colby Lewis got the start for Texas while Phil Hughes was given the start for New York in a do-or-die situation.

If you had heard of Colby Lewis prior to the 2010 ALCS and aren't from the Lone Star state, raise your hand. In which case, I'm probably going to say you're full of crap (altho' I had heard of him in passing after losing against the a close game Sox back in August). On Friday night, the journeyman Rangers starter went eight innings, giving up only one earned run and striking out seven with the growd chanting 'Col-by!' as the innings progressed. The only run allowed by Lewis came on a wild pitch (that apparently hit Nick Swisher) that brought Alex Rodriguez in from third to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the 5th inning.

That was as close as the Yankees would get.

Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland led off the bottom of the 5th with a single before moving to third on back-to-back groundouts. The Yankees decided to pitch around Josh Hamilton to get to Vlad Guererro with two on and two away. Vlad would make the Yankees pay with a booming double to center field. That was the end of the night for Phil Hughes, but the first batter David Robertson would face was Nelson Cruz, who homered to center to make it a 5-1 game. After an Ian Kinsler sac-fly in the 7th to make it a 6-1 game, there was no looking back.

Unlike Game 1, there would be no furious comeback by the Yankees. Neftali Feliz would close out the top of the 9th 1-2-3 (A-Rod was caught looking to end the game and series) good for the Ranger's first-ever World Series appearence and copious amounts of ginger-ale being sprayed everywhere.

Outfielder Josh Hamilton was named ALCS MVP after hitting .350 and belting 4 homers.

The Rangers would have to wait at least until Saturday to find out who they'd be facing in the World Series, with the Giants taking on the Phillies for Game 6 in the city of brotherly love.

Things were looking good for the Phillies as they managed to get two runs off of Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez in the first inning. The Giants would come right back with two of their own in the top of the 3rd, including Aubrey Huff reaching home safely after a fielding error by Phillies 1B Ryan Howard. Sanchez would get pulled and the benches cleared in bottom of the 3rd after hitting Chase Utley with a pitch.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy would go to the bullpen early and often, with Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, ex-Red Sox pitcher Javier Lopez and starter Tim Lincecum combining for a shutout before Juan Uribe gave San Francisco the go ahead run on a solo shot.

New Hampshire's own Brian Wilson came on in the 8th to close things out- he got Ruiz to line out into a double play to end the 8th, but was in for a hairy and somewhat wild 9th, where he had two runners on with two away and managed to strike out Ryan Howard to end the game and the NLCS with a 3-2 Giants win. Despite the electric and attention-grabbing start to the playoffs, it's all over for Philly as the Giants won the series 4-2. Neither defending pennant winner has advanced to the World Series this year.

Game 1 of the World Series is set to take place in San Francisco Wednesday night at 7: 57 ET. A well rested Cliff Lee gets the start against Tim Lincecum and the game will be televised on FOX.

So in either case, the 2010 World Series will end a long run of futility for the Rangers (who have never been) or the Giants (who haven't won a title since moving out to San Francsico in 1958).

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was named the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. Farrell will replace the outgoing Cito Gaston, who retired at the end of the season last month. Toronto finished the season 85-77, good for 4th place in the very difficult AL East in 2010.

NHL: After downing the Capitals 4-1 for their home opener, the Boston Bruins lost to the NY Rangers by a 3-2 score at the TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday. New York's Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 total shots and held off the Bruins to win by a 3-2 final, handing the Bruins their first loss on American soil this season. Tukka Rask got the start and stopped 27 of 30 shots faced in the loss while Zdeno Chara and Nathan Horton had the only tallies for the B's.

The Bruin's record is now 4-2-0 and they next face the Maple Leafs, who are off to a 4-2-1 start, on Thursday night at the Garden.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Not a good weekend for New England's Division 1 schools.

BC Safety Wes Davis was strapped to a backboard after laying motionless on the turf for nearly 10 minutes on Saturday's game against Maryland before being wheeled to an ambulance. The school said that Davis had 'full motion', but remained hospitalized for observation.

After falling behind to the Terrapins 24-7 in the third, BC managed to score two unanswered TD's in the 4th quarter, but successive drives late in the quarter stalled in the 4th when the ball was turned over on downs. Maryland wins by a final of 24-21 in Chestnut Hill. Montel Harris had 27 carries for 116 yards and 2 TDs in the losing effort for the Eagles. This makes it 5 losses in a row, and things aren't looking too good for next week when the Eagles host the Clemson Tigers.

UConn actually did worse, getting shut out 26-0 by Louisville on Saturday. The Huskies will host the West Virginia Mountaineers this Saturday.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NCAA: The New Jersey Nets announced that they would be donating $75,000 towards a fund for paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand. LeGrand has shown no signs of improvement since being hospitalized.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh Crap! Comedy Central D.C. Rallies Find Themsleves Short on Port-o-Johns

From what little I've seen of the Colbert Report and John Stewart's The Daily Show, both hosts struck me as inusfferable, smarmy, know-it-all hipsters. Stewart in particular hides behind the 'Clown nose' defense, where after a vitrolic personal attack on the un-person of the week (either on his own show, or appearing on other shows) instead of defending his comments, he'll just say 'but I'm just a silly clown on TV', basically. From what I saw of last month's testimony before Congress, Colbert reverts to his show's faux conservative persona when challenged with any sort of serious question.

So naturally, I wasn't too shocked to learn that Stewart and Colbert were going to try and counter Glen Beck's 8/28 rally with one of their own. Stewart's rally is going by the name of 'Restoring Sanity' while Colbert's, in keeping with his buffoonish faux-conservative persona, is 'Keep Fear Alive'- both set to take place on The Mall in Washington D.C the weekend before the Nov. 2nd election. Heck, Oprah Winfrey even chipped in by purchasing plane tickets and accomodation for The Daily Show's studio audience.

First of all, I think the title 'Restoring Sanity' is rather presumptuous.....it's wordsmithing on the caliber of the September 11th 'Truther' movement, as in one group is claiming they have a monopoly on truth or sanity and everybody else has been duped or is insane (but will be restored upon hearing Stewart's soothing, yet smarmy oratory).

Unfortunately for them, the Marine Corps Marathon- set to take place on Sunday of the same weekend- had already arranged for 800 port-o-johns, essentially leaving Saturday's Comedy Central rallies without facilities. The organizers have asked the Marines to share the portable toilets for the weekend, but the Marines declined and may even lock the latrines until Sunday morning. And for those of you inclined to howl 'No fair!', why exactly should the Marines burden themselves because of Comedy Central's lack of planning? They made arrangements long before Colbert or Stewart's people, so they should be rewarded with a bunch of overflowing and nastier than usual, slightly used port-o-johns after running a marathon?


But remember- while calling for a rally of an estimated 60,000 yet failing to make any plans along the lines of sanitation or toilet facilities in the nation's capital, it's conservatives and the Tea Party that are stupid and irrational according to Colbert and Stewart.

Others have pointed out the irony of Oprah Winfrey (and apparently Arianna Huffington) paying the way for people to attend this rally who might not otherwise be interested in going. The port-o-potty fiasco shows that not only do the limousine liberal schills for the progressive Democrats have no sense of irony, but they can't even plan for crap.

Remind me again why we're supposed to vote for the candidates they support?

35 YEARS AGO TODAY.



Red Sox Nation's most memorable moment prior to 2004.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cuppa Sports Chowdah Runneth Over- Pats Get Past Ravens W/Help of Sturdy Branch; B's Off to Capital Start; BC's Woes Continue


NFL: Well, that was pretty awesome. I managed to tune in just in time for the 4th quarter of Sunday's Baltimore/New England game with the Ravens leading 20-10. That was answered by a drive that started on the Pat's own 40 and was capped by a Brady TD pass to Deion Branch (who hardly looked as though he missed a practice) to make it a 3 point game. The Ravens would get as far as mid-field on their next possession, but punted it away on 4th and 1.

The game-tying drive for New England started on their own 14 yard line and threatened to sputter when the Pats were penalized 15 yards after advancing the ball to the Ravens 35 yard line, but a 24 yard completion from Brady to TE Rob Gronkowski brought up 2nd and 1, where the Pats would drive the ball inside the Baltimore 10, but have to settle for the game-tying field goal to cap off a methodical drive that burned nearly 7 minutes off of the clock.

After going three and out from their own 20, Baltimore punted and Wes Welker had a 22 yard return to put the ball at mid-field with 45 seconds left in regulation. However, Brady would get sacked by Haloti Ngata before Brady's hail-mary pass was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback as regulation expired with the game tied at 20-20.

Overtime started off with each team going three and out, although Baltimore was able to string together some first downs, they still ended up punting. However, they were able to keep the Patriots pinned deep on their own end of the field- at least until rookie Romanian punter Zoltan Mesko booted the ball 65 yards from their own 14 to put the Ravens inside their own 20. The Ravens subsequently went three and out, giving the Pats good field position for another sustained drive, distributing the ball between Welker, Branch and Algie Crumpler before Stephen Gostkowski kicked a relatively easy field goal (with just under 2 minutes left in OT) to give New England the 23-20 win.

Tom Brady went 27-44 with 292 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and got sacked three times. In his first game for New England since Superbowl XXXIX, Deion Branch had 9 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. For Baltimore, Joe Flacco went 27-35 with 285 yards and 2 TDs and getting sacked three times. Ray Rice was the Ravens leading receiver with 88 yards and Derrick Mason had 100 yards on 8 carries to lead Baltimore's rushing game.

Not a bad way to come off of the bye week. The Patriots have won 3 in a row and are now 4-1. This weekend, they'll travel to southern California to take on the San Diego Chargers at 4PM ET, 1 PM Pacific.

OTHER PATS NEWS: Brandon Merriweather issued an apology to Ravens TE Todd Heap after a helmet-to-helmet hit. Merriweather and two others were fined earlier this week for what the NFL called dangerous and flagrant hits. Merriweather was fined $50,000 for the his but faces no suspension

ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL: Speaking of Southern California, former Pats, Chargers and Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau was released from a La Jolla, CA hospital with minor injuries after the SUV he was driving plunged off of a seaside cliff in Carlsbad, CA on Monday night. The accident came within 12 hours of his arrest and release by police in Oceanside, CA on domestic violence charges after an argument with his 25 year old girlfriend. Seau told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel- Carlsbad police say that the lack of skidmarks on the seaside highway are consistent with Seau's account. Moreover, they say that no drugs or alcohol were present.



Greg Fiume/Getty

NHL: The Bruins are back in the continental United States and off to a pretty good start. I caught most of their 4-1 win over New Jersey on Saturday, and on Tuesday night, they travelled to Washington DC to take on the Caps in which the game was quasi-nationally televised on Versus. David Krejci and Milan Lucic got the scoring started for Boston with a goal each and just over two minutes apart in the 1st. Washington's Marcus Johansson managed to cut the Bruins lead in half in the 2nd period, but Matt Hunwick put the game away with some insurance in the 3rd to make it 3-1. Caps netminder Michal Neuvirth was pulled after allowing the two Boston goals in the first and has since been listed as day-to-day with flu-like symptoms while Tim Thomas stopped 35 of 36 shots faced.

The Bruins head back for their home opener Thursday night against the Caps with a 3-1-0 record. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7PM ET/4 Pacific.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Damn- they played better than the last three weeks, but Boston College couldn't get off the schnide against Florida State. Turnovers by the Seminoles nearly cost them the game, but with a little over 11 minutes to go, a 42 yard TD run by 'Noles WR Bert Reed put them up for good by a score of 24-19. At least 10 of those points for BC came off of turnovers from Florida State QB Charlie Ponder, but it obviously wasn't enough for the W. Montel Harris had 26 carries for 191 yards, but no TD's.

The Eagles head back to Chestnut Hill and will host 4-2 Maryland on Saturday.

OTHER BOSTON COLLEGE NEWS:

Credit where credit's due, CNN ran this story on BC linebacker Mark Herzlich's overcoming bone cancer to return to the lineup this season. Kinda puts a disappointing 0-4 slide into perspective.

OTHER NCAA FOOTBALL NEWS: Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LaGrande suffered a spinal cord injury during last weekend's game against the Army Black Knights and is said to have no movement below his neck. The junior was rushed to Hackensack University Medical center where he underwent emergency surgery and remained in the intensive care unit. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano says that LeGrande is in good spirits and is aware "...of the new set of challenges ahead of him". As of Wednesday night, there was no further updates on his condiditon.

UConn QB Cody Endres has been suspended for the remainder of the season for an unspecified violation of school rules. Redshirt freshman Michael Box is listed as Endres' backup. Endres replaced the erratic Zach Frazier halfway through the September 25 game against Buffalo and could also be a possible replacement.

MLB: Holy crap! These games are just flying by, aren't they? The Giants are one game away from their pursuit of their first World Series title since moving out to San Francisco, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NLCS.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have a 3-2 series lead on the Yankees after splitting the first two games at Arlington, TX and winning the first two games at Yankee stadium. The Yankees won Wednesday's game by a margin of 7-2, setting up a Game 6 back in Arlington with Colby Lewis tenatively scheduled to start against the Yankee's Phil Huges on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WTF, VFW!? Update: VFW to Dissolve PAC

At this point, all I can say is "about damn time". Habitually endorsing incumbents is not unheard-of by certain PACs. Endorsing incumbents that have showed nothing but disdain and contempt for the group you supposedly represent throughout their entire careers shows a staggering laziness and disconnect that cannot be reconciled.

From Blackfive:
I have reviewed the Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors’ response
to our request to rescind this year’ s Congressional endorsements. I disagree with their assessment.

It is now evident to most of the VFW leadership, both National and especially the
departments, that the VFW has been subjected to extreme negative publicity throughout the nation, and the recent endorsement decisions have, in fact, harmed the VFW’ s reputation and future ability to fulfill our mission.

I cannot let this erosion of public support for our great organization continue. The
apparent lack of the committee to address these concerns will lead to a proposal by me, as Commander-in-Chief, to amend the by-laws at the 112th National Convention for the purpose of dissolving the PAC. Meanwhile, under the authority granted to me as Commander-in-Chief in section 619 of the VFW National By-Laws and under section 620 of the Manual of Procedure, I am withdrawing all PAC appointments effective October 15, 2010.

Accordingly, I’ m asking the council for a vote of “ no confidence” in the VFW PAC as
indicated on the enclosed ballot.

To: National Council of Administration
From: Richard L. Eubank, Commander-in-Chief
Date: October 14, 2010
Also from Blackfive comes word that the VFW Ladies Auxiliary withdrew funding from the PAC effective last week.

Better late than never, but one has to wonder how it got to this point in the first place.

[Hat Tip: Blackfive, Spin Strangeness & Charm]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Borderline Psychosis Update- More Freshwater Piracy at Falcon Lake; Mexican Authorities Tread Cautiously in Cartel-Held Territory

A Colorado man is missing and presumed dead after he and his wife were attacked and pursued by smugglers in the waters on the Mexican side of Falcon Reservoir along the Texas/Mexico border.

According to a second, more comprehensive statement to Mexican investigators, Tiffany Young-Hartley, 29, said that she and her husband David Hartley, 30, were accosted by gunmen in three small boats as they were sightseeing along the Reservoir on separate jet skis on September 30. The gunmen opened fire, striking David as the couple fled according to her statement. Both Hartley and his jet-ski have been missing since then.

Mexican investigators were initially skeptical of Young-Hartley's account.
Only ranchers and steers populate the abandoned and partially submerged ruins, as well as a handful of anglers who remain along the Salado river, which flows into Falcon Reservoir. None told investigators they heard anything Thursday while out on the quiet waters.

“How would someone know where the incident occurred?” asked Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, the Tamaulipas State Police commander. “That place is very unsafe. Nobody lives there — only organized criminals. That’s their land.”

Flores has received reports of attacks on Falcon Reservoir, he said. But no one has alleged anything close to what Young-Hartley reported to authorities.

“Since everything is so calm over there, they could hear any noise,” Flores said of the anglers and ranchers in that area. “But they said they didn’t hear any gunshots or anything — and they didn’t even hear a Jet Ski.”
The case took an even more sinister turn last week when commander Flores' severed head was dropped off in a suitcase in front of a Mexican military base at nearby Miguel Aleman. Since then, authorities have suspended the search for Hartley's body.

Investigators in the USA and Mexico and a Texas-based national security think tank believe that the couple was initially mistaken for rival smugglers by the gunmen that accosted them.

ELSEWHERE: The Los Angeles Times accompanied a detachment of heavily armed Mexican police officers who were tasked with delivering US$40,000 in pension and back-pay to senior citizens living in remote towns and pueblas in Sonora.

This was necessary because the region is increasingly cut off from the rest of the country due to a struggle for territorial control between two of Mexico's cartels- the Beltran-Leyva and Sinaloa. Gunmen from the Beltran-Leyva cartel had taken over a string of ranches and pueblas between Altar, Sonora and the Arizona border 50 miles to the north. In retaliation, the Sinaloa Cartel has been patiently and methodically cutting off the area from the rest of the country, choking off food, mail and fuel deliveries to their rivals and an estimated 5,000 residents in the reigon.

I'm not a fan of the LA Times, but read the whole thing. Aside from the high profile and brazen acts of violence in places like Juarez or the grisly discoveries of mass graves in Taxco or Monterrey, the besieged villages in northern Sonora are an example of how the cartels are able to control vast tracts of rural land to expedite their lucrative human and drug smuggling routes.

The Lonely Planet Blonde Guide To Latvia

Well....this could modify my future travel plans somewhat.

From the country that brought us the Blonde Parade comes word that a gender imbalance that skews 8% towards the women has left the Baltic former Soviet republic of Latvia short of men.
While more boys are born in Latvia than girls, the balance shifts dramatically in adulthood.

A high early male mortality rate means that there are 8% more women than men in the country

In the busy entry hall of the University of Latvia, Riga, the gender imbalance is visible.

According to sociologist and lecturer Baiba Bela, there are 50% more women enrolled there than men.

She says this means that women often find it harder to find a partner with an equal level of education.

And by the time women want to settle down, men are dying younger and are four times more likely to commit suicide.

"The first time the gender imbalance appears is between 30 and 40," Baiba explains.

"In this age group the mortality for men is three times higher than the same age group for women."

"Car driving, alcoholism and accidents in the workplace are mainly riskier for men than for women," she adds.

Among the under-30s, there are almost 9,000 more men than women. But between the ages of 30-39, there are almost 3,000 more women than men.
A couple of facts about Latvia- it covers roughly 25,000 square miles and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, the Baltic sea to the west and Russia and Belarus to the east. The unit of currency is the Lat and although it is supposed to be integrated into the Euro-zone, the economic crisis of the last two years have put those plans off until at least sometime in 2012. Latvia's official language, unsurprisingly, is Latvian. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, New Zealand and most EU countries do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days.

Included among Latvia's exports, mezzo-soprano opera singer Elina Garanca (appropriately enough, the blonde in the duet):

On a 100% completely unrelated note, my passport expired nearly three years ago, yet I somehow feel the driving need to get a new one as soon as possible.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's Train of Thought- Change is U.P. in The Air; October 17, 2010

The Lake Superior and Ishpeming in Michigan's Upper Penninsula had a reputation for making the most for it's oddball fleet of six-axle ALCos and GE diesels up until the end of the 1980s, where they were replaced.....well....by more oddball diesels. This time around, the replacements took the form of nearly twenty six-axles U30C's purchased secondhand from Burlington Northern. The 3000 HP behemoths had an extensive background hauling coal from Wyoming's Powder River basin to power plants throughout the midwest and would seemingly be at home hauling ore jennies from the mines to the dock along the south shore of Lake Superior at Marquette, MI. The 50-mile line sees most of it's traffic come from mining.

With the leaves starting to change color in Michigan's upper peninsula, railpictures.net contributor Kevin the Krazy 1 caught LS&I U30C #3006 leading a short train from the Canadian National (former Wisconsin Central) interchange through the rock cut at Neagunnee, MI on a brilliant October 2008 afternoon.

While change may come slowly to the LS&I, it does come sooner or later as the shortline is presently leasing nine C44-9s from CIT Group.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Members to VFW- WTF? Veterans Of Foreign Wars PAC Endorses Liberal, Anti-Military Incumbents Over Actual Veterans

Something's rotten at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their political action committee, and the rank and file VFW membership doesn't like it one bit.

I probably should've noticed something was amiss when the West Hartford, CT chapter of the VFW allowed truth-impaired douchebag Dick Blumenthal to stage his photo-op press conference and non-apology apology from their lodge back in May.

Now, the VFW is in trouble over endorsements their PAC has made for the 2010 midterms, including Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi and Alan Grayson. Despite the uproar from membership, the PAC has refused to rescind their endorsements, citing some ambiguous criteria that skews heavily towards incumbents. Even after it was revealed that Boxer and Waxman used their positions to aid a radical leftist anti-war group to travel to Fallujah, Iraq (by way of Jordan) so they could deliver money and aid to families of insurgents. I mean, besides Speaker Pelosi using the military as her own personal Chauffeur for her and her family, we have Sen. Boxer who voted against funding for body armour and treatment of brain trauma for American soldiers back in 2007, much to Joe Biden's chagrin. So....again, I'd be really interested in knowing what the PAC's endorsement criteria is- because so far, it seems to be apple pie gee-aren't-our-GI's-swell-now-vote-for-me platitudes from leftist hacks specifically trotted out in the weeks before the election.

Although the VFW leadership was critical of 0bamacare's adverse effects on already-existing healthcare services for veterans and active-duty military personnel, the VFW PAC not only endorsed a number of candidates that voted in favor of 0bamacare [feel free to cross-reference the VFW-PAC's list of endorsed candidates with THE LIST- NANESB!] but liberal Democrat incumbents who are running against military veterans.

For instance, out of the 10 candidates on the revised Vets For Freedom PAC Operation 10 in 10, the VFW's PAC endorses 8 of their opponents and declines any endorsement in two other races- the open seat in Arkansas' 2nd district and the race between House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank and Marine Reservist Sean Bielat. There are post 9/11 veterans in California, Michigan and Arizona who's opponents are endorsed by the VFW's PAC as well.

This doesn't just apply to Republican candidates, either. The VFW's PAC also declined to endorse Democrat Matt Zeller, who served in Afghanistan and is running for the currently vacant seat in New York's 29th district.

Now, all this raises the rather obvious question. What's the point of having a PAC if it goes directly against the wishes of their membership? Will the VFW allow itself to be done in by its own PAC?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New York, Illinois Elections Officials Fail To Send Off Mail-In Ballots for Overseas Military Personnel In Time

According to a letter sent to the Pentagon by officials from the New York Board of Elections, absentee ballots for servicemen from all five boroughs of New York City as well as Putnam, Westchester, Erie and Niagara counties were not mailed off by the October 1st deadline.
The delay means approximately 50,000 people from New York City now in the military could miss their chance to vote because it can take two weeks for the mail system to deliver ballots to troops overseas. New York State allows for absentee ballots to be counted up to 13 days after Election Day, which is Nov. 2.
The delay also affects overseas voters from New York City's northern suburbs as well as Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

New York had initially gotten a waiver from the 2009 MOVE act because their primaries were relatively late (September 14), but on Wednesday the Justice Department brought a suit against the state of New York after it became clear that at least four counties missed the Oct. 1st deadline.

The Justice Department is also looking into similar reports from Illinois after the Director for the Illinois State Board of Elections Director said that not all of the state's 110 jurisdictions were compliant with the MOVE Act. Without the waiver, the ballots were supposed to be mailed by September 18th.

Now keep in mind that service members tend to vote Republican most of the time while the local, state and federal lawmakers and officials in jurisdictions that have been delinquent in mailing out the absentee ballots are universally Democrat- unelected Democrats in the Governor's mansion in both Illinois and New York, to boot.

So this more or less comes down to two possible explanations- the more sinister being that this is an effort by Democrat officials to disenfranchise uniformed members of the United States military. This would not be the first time the Democrats went out of their way to disenfranchise military personnel serving overseas [Just ask Houston, TX mayor (and Democrat gubernatorial candidate) Bill White- NANESB!]
The other, more 'benign' and plausible excuse would be sheer and utter jaw-dropping incompetence on the part of officials. In either instance, do you think that they've earned your vote?

[Hat Tip: Weasel Zippers, Lonely Conservative, Realwest at Correspondence Committee]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Endgame! Rescuers Begin Bringing Trapped Chilean Miners to Surface

Man oh man...what a year for Chile. First there was that massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake, then they got their asses handed to them in the World Cup. Somehow, I think the latest news out of Copiapo more than makes up for it.

I figure it would only be a matter of time before I updated the saga of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, but as it turned out, it was a little sooner than I expected.

A metallic capsule named 'The Phoenix' was set to start bringing up the miners trapped at the San Jose mine one by one this week. The miners had been trapped since August, although supplies were being sent down to them through a hole roughly the diameter of a grapefruit as rescuers were working on a larger, parallel shaft.

It's been estimated that it may take as long as 36 hours for all the miners to be pulled up to the surface, but the capsule has successfully reached the miners and the first half dozen have made it back to the surface. Along with the head of Chile's state-run copper company, a medic from Chile's navy went down in the capsule to do a cursory examination of the men before the capsule hauled them up. Right now, all of the men have been given sunglasses- even though they were being brought up to the surface shortly after midnight- because of the glare of spotlights from the media and rescuers. The capsules are also equipped with video cameras, an intercom and oxygen masks to monitor their health on the way back up.

Once at the surface, the men were greeted by their families and Chilean President Sebastian PiƱera before being sent to a triage center and hospital in Copiopo for further physical evaluation.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the miners, their families and the rescuers for their (thus far) successful rescue that has caught the world's undivided attention. All too often we hear about mining accidents on this scale with very tragic outcomes, so it it very welcoming to get some good news along these lines for a change.

[To honor the end of the miner's plight, I'm listening to this- but playing it backwards, of course...NANESB!]

UPDATE 10/13: The last of the 33 miners, 54 year old foreman Luis Urzua, has reached the surface in the Phoenix capsule tonight. Urzua and the other 32 miners are undergoing examination in nearby Copiapo, but are believed to be in overall good physical health.

'Safe' Dem-Held Districts Suddenly Not As Safe As Anticipated

Remember THE LIST from last week where I included the caveat about how races categorized by the Cook Political Report as 'Leaning D' might actually more favorable to the GOP than it would appear at first blush?

Looks like this could also apply to some races that were believed to be completely safe for Democrat incumbents. As I was compiling THE LIST, I came across some reports of Republican challengers seemingly gaining ground on entrenched Democrat incumbents in solidly blue districts. Lest you think this was idle happy-talk from hopelessly out-funded Republican candidates, the Cook Report (which apparently didn't get their reputation by getting suckered by idle campaign bluster) has changed the ratings of at least five Democrat-heavy districts from 'Solid D' to 'Likely D'.

These representatives would include Raul Grijalva (AZ-7), who is facing a spirited challenge from rocket scientist Ruth McClung after the Congressman called for a boycott of his own state immediately after the Arizona state legislature passed SB-1070.

Last month, 30-year Congressman and House Financial Services Committee chair Barney Frank (MA-4) arranged to have Bill Clinton campaign on his behalf in the Bay State, a move many observers feel would not be necessary if his GOP opponent- 35 year old ex-Marine Sean Bielat- was closing the gap in the polls.

Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) could also be in danger of losing his gerrymandered district going up against what some say is his first serious challenge to his seat since 1992 in former teacher and congressional aide George Phillips.

Over in Minnesota, internal polling has shown Jim Oberstar (MN-8) only a few points ahead of challenger Chip Cravaack. Naturally, this most recent poll has the 18-term Democrat crying foul.

Of course, it's entirely possible that all of the above challengers will end up losing in a landslide. However the fact that people are having discussions about normally reliable Democrat bastions as though they were swing states or swing districts would mean that resources being drawn off from more competitive districts for the Democrats, putting them at a disadvantage.

And given the way they've been governing since January 2007, I wouldn't lose much sleep if all of the aforementioned embattled Democrats found themselves out of work in January.