Monday, October 31, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- The Jolly Green Giant and the Pumpkin Patch, October 31st, 2011

Today's train of though takes us back to the pumpkin patch for Haloween this year, this time in the Wolverine state.

Here, contributor Craig Williams caught Huron & Eastern's Durand Turn decelerating past a pumpkin patch south of Bay City, MI. The weekday train to the Norfolk Southern interchange in Durand (west of Flint) has an all GE lashup on this October 2008 afternoon. The green paint of previous owner BNSF/Burlington Northern on lead unit- C30-7 #5086- is still visible in the fading afternoon light.

Trailing #5086 is cabless B30-7AB- also purchased secondhand from Burlington Northern- has been repainted into a scarlet and grey reminiscent of the Southern Pacific and a black and white U23B trailing.

Happy Halloween From Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Well, this certainly has the feel of a Halloween unlike any other. Whether travel plans included flying across the country or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, the recent snowstorm has thrown the travel plans of millions into complete disarray.

Whatever your Halloween plans are, here's hoping that you're able to stay safe and warm. If you're travelling any distance, be especially careful.

And Halloween just wouldn't be Halloween without attractive women wearing not very much, wouldn't it? Even though there's technically no costume involved, one can't help but admire this Elvgren girl proudly displaying the fruits of her labor.

This is from a 1962 Gil Elvgren piece titled All Smiles (or Glamorous) in which the charming, scantily clad brunette still has the foresight to keep pumpkin guts off of her.

Millions Without Electricity as Northeast Socked by Early Snowstorm

Williamstown, MA looking more like a Christmas card thanHalloween this weekend. AP Photo
Much of the northeast and mid-Atlantic region was socked by an unusually early snowstorm this weekend, knocking down tree branches, shutting down schools, airports or highways and leaving millions without electricity. Some officials say that it could be up to a week before electricity is fully restored in some areas.

From West Virginia to Maine, residents were digging themselves out from as many as 32 inches of snow in some places. Governors throughout the region declared a state of emergency as utility crews and personell worked to restore power, open up roadways and remove falled tree limbs.

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy ordered 900 cots and food brought to Hartford's stranded travellers at Bradley International Airport. Travellers on a Jet Blue flight that was diverted from Newark to Bradley International were stranded on the tarmac for nearly 7 hours with no food, water or functioning bathrooms. Firefighters and paramedics came on board to treat a parapalegic who had trouble with the circulation in his legs before the remaining passengers were eventually bussed to the terminal.

In New York City, Central Park was closed after a woman was injured from being hit by a falling tree limb. Crews have been working to chip the fallen trees and reopen the park in time for the New York City marathon, despite as little as one inch falling on Manhattan. However, the snow was wet and heavy and many of the trees were thought to have been weakened from Tropical Storm Irene passing through in late August.

In Western Massachusetts, as many as 700,000 people were without power after the snowstom. The Berkshire county town of Peru had already received a record amount of snow, with 32 inches being dumped on the Western Massachusetts hilltown before Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sports Chowdah Update for October 30, 2011- 11th Title in the Cards for St. Louis; If You Sell It, They Will Come? Pats Get Steel Toed Boot

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
WORLD SERIES: It seemed to have that air of inevitability around it almost as soon as David Freese's bat made contact with the ball in the bottom of the 9th of Game 6 with 2 outs and a 1-2 count.

Despite Texas getting out to the early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, the Cardinals- unsurprisingly and inevitably- came back to tie the game up in the bottom half of the 1st frame on a 2 out, 2 RBI double from none other than David Freese.

Cards outfielder Allen Craig put St Louis up for good with a solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd. In the 5th, the Cardinals would get some insurance when catcher Yadier Molina drew a 2 out bases-loaded walk, followed up by Rafael Furcal getting hit by a pitch with the bags STILL loaded to make it a 5-2 game.

Although Texas would get the occasional leadoff runner on, the 2 runs they got in the first inning would be it, and Molina would get another RBI- this time in the form of a single that plated Berkman- to put St Louis up by 6-2. Jason Motte, who put the 2 Rangers baserunners on in Game 2 that ultimately cost St Louis the game, came on for a one two three top of the 9th to seal the Cards 6-2 win and the World Series.

Chris Carpenter went 6 complete innings for the win for St Louis while Matt Harrison was hung with the loss for the Rangers. Molina went 2-3 with 2 RBIs for the Cards while local hero David Freese went 1-2 wirh 2 RBIs and 2 walks. Thanks in large part to his role in both Game 6 and Game 7, Freese was named the 2011 World Series MVP.

Game 6 was such a difficult act to follow- even though I knew better, I was a little disappointed that Game 7 didn't end in a similar manner. I remember the last time the Cards were in the World Series (2006), all the East Coast sports figures and yammering heads on ESPN were bemoaning that it would be an all-Midwest World Series, thus boring.

Unfortunately Detroit proved them correct by basically air-mailing a bunch of pivotal innings away. I haven't been watching or listening to alot of the 'personalities' on ESPN, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they were saying the exact same things five years later.

As a Red Sox fan, I'm not particularly passionate about either one of the teams in the 2011 World Series [lest anybody forget, Red Sox Nation had their day against St. Louis 7 years ago- NANESB!] but the quality of the games was something to behold- well, most of the games at least.

It seemed as though I found myself asking 'What can they do to one-up this?' every time I was watching or listening. Even in the one true blowout, viewers got to see Albert Pujols put himself in some very distinct company. Texas kept themselves in it with some small ball in Game 2 and a heroic outing by Derek Holland in Game 4 as well as Napoli's bat in Game 5.

But all that was left in the dust once Game 6 wrapped up.

Congratulations to the 2011 World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals and congratulations to both teams for treating us to some very exciting October baseball.

OTHER BASEBALL NEWS: The family farm complete with a baseball diamond hewn from a cornfield in Dyersville, IA that was used for filming the 1989 film Field of Dreams will be sold.

The land, which has been in the Lansing family since 1906, had been on the market since May 2010 with an asking price of $5.4 million. The parcel includes the baseball diamond, a two bedroom farmhouse, a half dozen other buildings and 193 acres- primarily cornfields.

The Lansing family said they were committed to finding a purchaser that would maintain the legacy of the site. Although the exact amount wasn't disclosed, the northeastern Iowa farm and baseball diamond will be sold to Go the Distance Baseball LLC, operated by Mike and Denise Stillman.

The property is about 20 miles west of Dubuque, IA and has been open to visitors during the summer months for the past 20 years.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
NFL: Damn- is it too late for me to blame the porn starlet that Gronkowski (allegedly) hooked up with?

I can't even say New England came out of the bye week looking rusty, because it was hard to make an informed statement on how the looked with Pittsburgh dominating time of possession. The Steeler had the ball for just under 40 minutes while New England had possession for just over 20- not really a winning formula.

Even with that disparity in time of possession, the Patriots headed to the locker room at halftime trailing by 17-10 thanks to a 46 yard Gostowski FG with 29 seconds remaining in the half.

While the Pats would keep Pittsburgh out of the end zone for the 2nd half, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger would manage to move the ball fairly effectively while eating up the clock and the Steelers were still able to come away with FGs on two trips inside the red zone.

After being stymied for much of the game, Brady would drive New England down to the Pittsburgh red zone where he would connect with Rob Gronkowski, where no doubt driven to distraction thanks to his tryst with Bibi Jones [just kidding...jeez], he was stopped just shy of the goal line. Now while he had possession of the ball and both feet appeared to be in the end zone, Gronkowski was ruled down inside the 1 yard line with 4:15 to go in regulation.

With all three time outs remaining, instead of throwing out the challenge flag, Belichick decided to punch it in from there on 3rd and 1. Kevin Faulk was knocked back for no gain, and while New England got a fresh set of downs on 4th and 1 after a Pittsburgh holding penalty, precious time was burning off the clock. Although Brady would complete a pass to Aaron Hernandez in the end zone, there was all of 2:38 remaining on the clock.

Even if The Patriots had demonstrated an ability to hold Roethlisberger and the Steeler offense to a 3 & out, that rosy scenario STILL would've left the Patriots with precious little time. Also worth noting that the last time the Patriots had a successful onside kick was 1994- and after today, the last time the Patriots had a successful onside kick was....1994.

As it turns out, the Steelers got a first down, bleeding off precious seconds from the clock and forcing New England to use up their time outs. New England did manage to sack Roethlisberger twice before the Steelers had to punt from mid-field, but that was a day late and a dollar short.

The Patriots got the ball back on their own 22 with all of 8 seconds left in regulation, only to have Steelers DE Brett Keisel strip the ball from Tom Brady and batted into the end zone by shaggy Safety Troy Polamalu for the safety.

Pittsburgh wins this one by a 25-17 final. Brady went 24-35 with 198 yards and two TDs while Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger would go 36-50 with 365 yards with 2 TDs and an interception. New England's offense was held to just 213 yards altogether on the day.

This sets up a showdown with the NFC east leading New York Giants next week at Foxborough. The Giants are coming off come-from-behind victory against the winless Miami Dolphins at the Meadowlands on Sunday.

NBA: With no deal in sight between the player's association and the owners, the league has cancelled two more weeks worth of regular season games, leaving most of November with no scheduled regular season NBA contests.

NHL: a couple of weeks in and its becoming apparent that the Bruins need to come up with something else aside from pointing out that they won the Stanley Cup and hoping their opponents are sufficiently dazzled.

So far, the Canadiens have shown themselves to be underwhelmed. Saturday night was the away half of a home-and-away series against Montreal. Les Habs got off the the quick start in the 1st with goals from Brian Gionta and Lars Eller for the early 2-0 lead. Dave Desharnais would make it a 3-0 lead in the 2nd period on a power play goal before the Bruins got on the board thanks to a Milan Lucic tally.

About 55 seconds into the 3rd period, Boston would make it a 1-goa game thanks to an even strength Tyler Seguin goal, but late in the 3rd, when the Bruins pulled Rask for the extra attacker, Tomas Plekanec managed to get the empty-netter for the 4-2 win.

The Bruins will head back to the TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday to take on the scalding-hot Ottawa Senators, who have won their last 6 consecutive games. Puck drops at 7PM ET.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Understandably lost in a couple of great games Saturday night was the fact that the struggling BC Eagles had managed to notch their first win against a non FCS team this season- not only that, but an ACC opponent!

The Eagles came into a snowy College Park, MD to take on a marginally better Maryland Terrapins. Eagles RB Rolandan Finch drew first blood as Boston College managed to score on their opening drive to take the early 7-0 lead.

The Terps would reply with a FG to get on the board just inside the 10 minute mark. Boston College would take a 21-3 lead to halftime, and although the Terps would get on the board once again in the second half, it would turn out to be not nearly enough.

Boston College goes on to win by a 28-17 final and Finch gets 39 carries for 243 yards and 2 TDs in his productive afternoon. The Eagles are getting ready to host the Florida State Seminoles on Thursday night at 8 PM.

BIG EAST: Earlier this week, in leiu of being treated to World Series Game in St Louis, those of you inclinced to watch some college football were treated to the UConn Huskies getting stomped by Pitt by a 35-20 final after getting picked apart by Junior QB Tino Sunseri. UConn was held to a field goal for the first half, trailing 21-3 at halftime. The Huskies did manage a couple of big plays in the 2nd half, but it wasn't nearly enough.

OTHER BIG EAST NEWS: West Virginia made it official this weekend that they would be leaving the Big East conference for the Big 12, likely replacing the Missouri Tigers who are finalizing plans to join the SEC.

Like Syracuse and Pittsburgh (who announced their plans to join the ACC), Big East plans on retaining the Mountaineers until 2014.

Joe Mahoney/ Richmond Times-Dispatch
COLONIAL: UMass rebounded from their loss at Foxbourough's Colonial Clash versus New Hampshire last week with a very convincing win over the Richmond Spiders in the Old Dominion State by a 28-7 final. Three of those TDs against Richmond came in the 1st quarter and three out of the 4 were from RB Jonathan Hernandez, who had 3 of the UMass TD's on the day and 103 rushing yards.

The Minutemen will next play host to Villanova this coming Saturday.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL: In case you missed it, some of the late games Saturday night actually lived up to the hype.

Granted it wasn't as time expired like last week against Michigan State, but the Wisconsin Badgers had their hearts ripped out for the second week in a row with less than a minute left on the clock. Trailing 14-26 late in the 4th quarter, the Badgers came back to score two TD's and take a 26-29 lead on a successful two point conversion.

The Buckeyes had gotten the ball as far as mid-field when Ohio State QB Braxton miller heaved a 40 yard pass with 43 seconds left in regulation. The pass looked a little wobbly, but somehow managed to find freshman Ohio State WR Devin Smith in the end zone for the TD and the 32-29 lead with less than 45 seconds to go.

That would be the final, as the Badgers couldn't score with their final possession.

Meanwhile, out west, the Stanford Cardinals needed triple OT to get past the USC Trojans. Stanford had already scored and successfully pulled off the 2 point conversion in their half the the third OT when USC got the ball back. However, on the Trojan's first possession, RB Curtis MacNeal fumbled and Stanford recovered, giving them the 56-48 win.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Once Again Whistling Past the Graveyard, October 25, 2011

Today's train of thought seems to have a little bit of everything- some New England Fall Color, 'classic' motive power, clear skies, branchline railroading and- fittingly enough a few days before Halloween- a graveyard.

Here, contributor Brian P Bennett caught up with Guilford/Pan-Am local BK-1 as it makes its way south with light power. EMDs are trundling past the Riverview Cemetery in N. Bucksport, ME in October of 2007 enroute to do some work at Bucksport on a crisp day as the leaves are approaching their peak colors.

Lettered for Guilford/Maine Central, GP40 #381 has the honors today, followed by high-hood GP35 #212. The photographer has traced the lineage of the #381 as far back as 1969 when it was built as Seaboard Coast Line #1577. The trailing #212 is slightly older, being built in May 1964 for the Nickel Plate before their October 1964 merger with Norfolk & Western.

And to the best of my knowledge, none of the headstones in the Riverview Cemetery read 'Gage Creed'.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Canada's Ruling Conservative Party Moves to Scrap Nation's Costly Long Gun Registry

Loathed by Canadian hunters, farmers and sportsmen while coveted by gun control advocates in both Canada and the USA, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Cabinet introduced legislation that would scrap Canada's costly and controversial long gun registry once and for all.

"Our government believes that the requirement to register long-guns has needlessly and unfairly targeted law-abiding Canadians, specifically law-abiding firearms owners, as criminals for simply owning a long-gun," said MP Hoeppner [Representing the Portage-Lisgar, MB riding; southwest of Winnipeg] who introduced a similar private member's bill in the last Parliament that was narrowly defeated.

"Furthermore, these lawabiding firearms owners have been burdened with red tape that the long-gun registry has caused."

Ms. Hoeppner said the Conservatives have "examined" all the evidence and that she can now say confidently that the nearly $2-billion registry has been "completely ineffective" and "completely wasteful."

The legislation introduced Tuesday will not have an impact on registration requirements for restricted and prohibited firearms.

Gun owners will also still be required to pass a police background check, a firearms safety course and they will have to comply with all safe storage and transportation requirements.
The recently introduced bill would also require that data accumulated in the long-gun registry be deleted so that the registry could not be reconstituted in any way shape or form by a future government. Interestingly, after more than a decade of ignoring cost overruns from building and maintaining the actual registry, many supporters of the long gun registry are claiming that deletion of the registry's files on Canadian gun owners would be an onerous and costly proposition. The RCMP, which is responsible for the database, refused to make public any cost estimates regarding the registry's scrapping and deletion.

The Quebec government has already announced their opposition to both the closure of the registry and the mandated deletion of the files within. While the bill would allow for individual provinces to set up their own gun registry scheme, it was also made clear that the provinces should expect no federal funding for such endeavors.

The registry was introduced in 1995 and was finally operational by 2001 before Canadian gun owners were given a deadline of Jan 1, 2003 to individually register their non-restricted firearms. Failure to register guns or renew a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) by a gun owner could draw a fine, possible jail time or confiscation.

In 2006, an Orilla, ON web consultant who worked on an earlier version of the registry's website said that the database could be easily hacked and the make, model and serial numbers of registered guns along with the home address and phone number of their owners could be accessed by just about anybody with a computer and about a half hour to spare.

Many gun owners also expressed concerns that additional restrictions or a prohibition of firearms with certain characteristics would be put in place under Chretien's government that would outlaw nearly overnight guns that they had legally obtained and owned for years.

While many top-level police officials in Eastern Canada initially supported the registry as a law-enforcement tool, others remained skeptical of its effectiveness.

Dismantling the registry was something Harper had campaigned on in previous elections, but lacked a Conservative majority in parliment to pull it off, although a measure to kill the registry was narrowly defeated in 2010. But in May of this year, Harper won re-election and his Conservative party trounced the opposition.

Since 1977, civilian firearms in Canada have fallen into three categories- non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Non restricted guns can are usually long guns that can range from antique single-shot rifles and shotguns to semiautomatic or large caliber rifles and carbines. Firearms in the restricted category include all handguns as well as long-guns with certain features such as a flash suppressor or pistol grip (yet are functionally similar to many long guns in the non-restricted category).

Guns in the Prohibited category include belt-fed or fully automatic weapons or sawn off shotguns or rifles that had been grandfathered in prior to the revised guidelines in 1977.

Even though I'm neither Canadian or a Canadian gun owner, I personally will be glad to see this costly, onerous boondoggle go away. About 10 years ago, gun control advocates in the USA were approvingly citing this program as something that should be implemented here.

They didn't seem to mind the fact that this scheme would put law-abiding gun owners under even more scrutiny from law enforcement while gang members and criminals (on either side of the border) would continue to murder, rob and rape with their decidedly unregistered guns that they either stole or got on the black market. This quote from an Ottawa Citizen article about reaction to this week's development is pretty telling:

Some Canadians are alarmed that registered firearms users such as Styles have legal access to such weapons, which are considered "civilianized" models of modern military-assault rifles. Although these high-powered rifles are seldom used in crimes in Canada, many gun-control advocates want them banned in the name of public safety.
There you have it. Even though these purportedly fearsome weapons rarely show up at crime scenes on either side of the border, we're supposed to believe that these noble-minded busybodies are trying to protect us from a public safety threat that hardly even exists.

Others have been far more shrill and vindictive, not the least bit hesitant to lump hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens with a misogynist sociopath who went on a killing spree at Montreal's École Polytechnique in December 1989. And then telling anybody who resents the comparison to 'get over themselves'. As the National Post's Chris Selley pointed out, these are hardly the ingredients for a successful charm offensive.

Outbursts like those from the Montreal Gazette's Janet Bagnall seem to do nothing but remind people that issues like gun control or gun registration were never about public safety to begin with, but rather utilizing the mechanisms of government to control a segment of the population those like her find distasteful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Squirrely Sports Chowdah Update For Oct 27th: Angry Birds- Cardinals Storm Back To Tie World Series on Final Out; The Tight End and the Tight End

WORLD SERIES: Without much in the way of exaggeration or hyperbole, this was one for the ages.

Postponed by rain on Wednesday night, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series got underway in St Louis 24 hours later and with the Cardinals in a must win scenario, often times trailing the Texas Rangers.

Texas got out to the early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st thanks to a leadoff walk to Ian Kinsler and a single to Elvis Andrus before Josh Hamilton drove home Kinsler with an RBI double.

Tha Cardinals would take the lead in the bottom of the 1st with a 2-run Lance Berkman homer, but the Rangers would knot things up in the next frame thanks to an RBI Kinsler ground-rule double, leaving the game tied at 2-2 for a little while at least. Well- until the top of the 4th inning, which is when Nelson Cruz reached 2nd on an error before being driven home on a Mike Napoli RBI single. However, in the bottom half of the 4th frame, Lance Berkman would reach on an error and become the tying run on a Yadier Molina groundout.

The sloppy play and back and forth would continue for quite a bit, with Texas finally taking what seemed like a commanding 7-4 lead in the top of the 7th inning thanks to solo homers by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz as well as a Kinsler RBI single for good measure.

After a solo homer by Allen Craig in the bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals managed to load the bases before Rafael Furcal grounded out to end the inning, leaving it still a 7-5 game. After a fairly uneventful top of the 9th where the Rangers didn't score, Albert Pujols hit a 1-out double to center before Lance Berkman was walked. Allen Craig then struck out and when David Freese stepped into the batter's box, the Cards were down to their last out- their last strike, even- in the World Series when he managed to send the ball all the way to the outfield wall to bring in Pujols and Berkman to tie the game up at 7-7.

Texas would strike right back with a 2-run Josh Hamilton homer in the top of the 10th, but the persistent Cards would come back in the bottom of the 10th after moving runners into scoring position and a Ryan Theriot groundout plated one run and Lance Berkman tied the game at 9-9 with a 2-out RBI single.

After some confusion in which Ranger's manager Ron Washington looked uncertain about who he wanted to send to the plate in the top of the 11th, the Rangers were really unable to do anything with a Mike Napoli single and finished off the inning pretty quietly.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Cardinals led off with Wildwood, Missouri's Lafayette HS graduate David Freese.

The 3rd baseman who grew up a Cardinals fan in the St Louis area helped propel his team to a Game 7 in the world series in the most dramatic manner possible, giving St Louis the 10-9 win over a reeling Texas [I get the feeling all those Freese-related puns have been done to death, and I figured I might as well give it a rest after the NLCS- NANESB!].

Freese's late-inning heroics set up one final game for the 2011 season and the first Game 7 in nearly 9 years. Freese went 2-5 with 3 RBI including the game-winning homer while Lance Berkman went 3-5 with 3 RBI on the evening. Jake Westbrook, the 6th pitcher to take to the mound for St. Louis Thursday night, was the winner while Neftali Feliz, Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman each had an opportunity to seal the win for Texas coming out of the bullpen, only to watch the Cards claw back each time. Feldman was charged with the blown save and Mark Lowe was hung with the loss.

Tomorrow night's game is set to get under way from St Louis with a first pitch at 8:05 ET and will be televised on FOX. Chris Carpenter is set to get the start against the Rangers Matt Harrison. It'll be interesting to see if Texas can bounce back from what must feel like a crushing loss on Thursday night.

OTHER MLB NEWS: The Boston Herald is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays may be getting ready to aggressively go after Red Sox DH David Ortiz this offseason. The 36 year old slugger is a free agent and has been with the club since 2003, including two big postseasons that saw the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

NHL: Damn it, damn it, damn it! I understood that there might be the risk of a Stanley Cup 'hangover', but why does it seem as though things have been going downhill ever since the banner raising ceremony?

And the damndest thing is, the Bruins are getting beaten by the few teams out there with worse records than them.

The Montreal Canadiens managed to hang on for a 2-1 win against the Bruins at the Garden Thursday night after the Bruins managed to get on the board thanks to a Tomas Plekanec own-goal against Carey Price.

The Habs would then get two unanswered goals (this time against the Boston goalie, Tim Thomas) including another Plekanec tally for the 2-1 final. Thomas turned aside 33 of 35 shots faced in the loss while Price stopped 29 of 30 shots faced (29 of them coming from Bruins players).

The Bruins will travel to Montreal (where they are no doubt ready to call the Sûreté du Québec on Zdeno Chara) on Saturday night with the game being broadcast on CBC beginning at 7:00 PM ET.

NFL: Oh come on now. This is getting a touch ridiculous.

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski issued a statement saying that he didn't intend to hurt the team's reputation when he had his picture taken with porn starlet Bibi Jones. Gronkowski reportedly made the statement after meeting in private with owner Robert Kraft.

Earlier this week, Jones posted two photos of herself with Gronkowski on her twitter account. She was wearing the #87 jersey in both photos while Rob Gronkowski was shirtless in one of them. The pictures were reportedly taken during the bye week.

I'm not sure what the big deal is, to be honest. I mean, Gronkowski is young and single, and as long as it doesn't detract from his on-field performance, I don't really see the problem with having his picture taken with a porn starlet. According to Jones, nothing happened (much to her dismay) between her and Gronkowski.

Jones also stated in a radio interview that an unnamed MLB agent used her to entice potential free agents to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010. However, she insists she wasn't paid for meeting with the agent's potential clients in Phoenix area bars, but served as 'arm candy' pro-bono due to her affinity for athletes and baseball being her favorite sport.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pin-Up Bettie Page Lands on List of Top-Earning Deceased Celebrities

Late pin-up model and centerfold Bettie Page has landed on a recent Forbes' list of top-earning (dead) celebrities for the first time since her December 2008 death [and you know what that means, right? If you said 'A completely gratuitous opportunity to adorn your blog w/more vintage Bettie Page imagery' give yourself a gold star!- NANESB!]

With an estate worth an estimated US$6 million, Page was tied for 13th place overall with artist Andy Warhol and former Beatle George Harrison. The iconic model had lived in relative obscurity in Southern California for most of her latter days.

However, beginning in the 1980s the pin-up enjoyed a resurgence in popularity- something she was unaware of for the better part of a decade. Writer Dave Stevens based the romantic interest of the title charachter in his Rocketeer comics on Page (although this did not show up in the 1990s film adaptation) and in the 1990s, Dark Horse comics had introduced a line of Bettie Page comics and merchandise.

After some litigation with her Chicago-based agent in 1997, Page began collecting royalties from her modelling and continued living off of those for the next decade. Aside from an official website, Page lent her name to lines of retro-style shoes, blouses, lingerie and swimwear.

Page's 2008 death did not diminish the popularity of the iconic pin-up in the least. Her estate is still collecting royalties and Bettie Page Clothing continues to sell 1950's style clothing online and from stores located in Las Vegas, Hollywood, San Francisco, the Twin Cities and San Diego.

Other recent additions to the list include actress Elizabeth Taylor and Swedish author Stieg Larsson, who penned The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo before his 2004 death.

Blue State Graft Watch: Maryland State Senator Won't Testify in His Own Defense in Corruption Trial

A 4-term Democrat state senator representing Prince George's county does not plan on testifying on his own behalf as his Federal corruption trial is coming to an end, according to his lawyers.

Attorneys for Currie had held out the possibility that he might testify, but it is rare for defendants in criminal cases to take the stand, and Currie and his defense team indicated that he will not.

The announcement in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by defense attorney Joseph L. Evans came during a full day of testimony in the trial, now in its fifth week. The 74-year-old senator is accused of taking bribes in exchange for a series of government favors for Shoppers Food Warehouse.

Currie has also been charged with making false statements to the FBI during an interview at the time of the early-morning raid of his home.
Instead, the defense has made the claim that Currie's memory and mental capacity has been diminished by injections of a drug called Lupron stemming from his 2008 treatment for prostate cancer.

In May 2008, the FBI searched his District Heights, MD home and seized documents pertaining to his consultation work with Shoppers Food Warehouse. Currie was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2010.
A federal grand jury has indicted Maryland State Senator Ulysses S. Currie, age 73, of Forestville, Maryland; and Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp. (SFW) executives—former president William J. White, age 67, of Annapolis, Maryland and Jupiter, Florida; and former vice president for real estate development R. Kevin Small, age 55, of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania—in connection with a scheme from 2002 to 2008 in which the supermarket chain allegedly paid Senator Currrie in exchange for using his official position and influence in matters benefitting White, Small, and the supermarket chain. In addition, a separate criminal information was filed against Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp., which has agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement.

The 18-count indictment alleges that soon after Ulysses Currie became chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee in 2002, he asked to be placed on the payroll of Shoppers Food Warehouse Corporation and agreed to use his government office and authority to pursue specific state action to benefit his private employer. Chairman Currie allegedly signed contracts reflecting the cover story that he would provide services unrelated to his government office; failed to file legally required conflict-of-interest statements with the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics; and lied under oath on public financial disclosure forms filed with the Maryland State Ethics Commission for five consecutive years, in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Meanwhile, Chairman Currie caused to be introduced and voted on legislation to benefit the corporation and sought benefits on its behalf from state officials. The indictment alleges that Chairman Currie prepared a list of 12 specific projects in which he used his Senate office and influence to benefit the supermarket chain, and offered to bring “many more” government benefits in the future. Chairman Currie allegedly wrote that he was “in a unique position to assist” the supermarket chain “in expanding its mission and increasing its bottom line.”

The indictment alleges that Currie received payments of $3,000 per month beginning in February 2003, raised to $3,416.67 in July 2004, to $3,800 in June 2007, and ultimately to $7,600 per month in December 2007. In order to conceal his arrangement with White, Small and the corporation, the indictment charges that Chairman Currie did not disclose any income from the corporation on five separate annual ethics disclosures, from 2004 through 2008.
In a separate deferred prosecution agreement, Shoppers Food Warehouse was assessed $12.5 million in fines.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sports Chowdah Update- Napoli Ever After, Texas 1 Win Away From Word Series; Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Lady Lansings;

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
WORLD SERIES: Well damn- it looks like I owe you not one, not two but three World Series updated.

Saturday night's game brought the World Series to Arlington, TX for the second time in two seasons. It was a pretty one-sided blowout with the 16-7 Cardinals win being more reminiscent of the final for a Cowboys-Rams game. However, the contest was noteworthy in that Cards 1st baseman Albert Pujols put himself in some very distinguished company (i.e. Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson) by becoming the third ever player to belt 3 home runs in a World Series game. Pujols went 5-6 with 6 RBI on the night in the St Louis rout.

The following night, however, Rangers starter Derek Holland would go 8 and ⅓ shutout innings allowing just two hits (both of them off of Lance Berkman who was in the DH role) while a 1st inning RBI double from Josh Hamilton would be all the run support Holland needed- altho' he would get more insurance in the form of a 3-run Mike Napoli blast off of Cards reliever Mitchell Boggs in the bottom of the 6th. Texas would go on to win by the 4-0 final on Sunday.

For Game 5 on Monday night, the Cards would get out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second, thanks to a Yadier Molina RBI single and Skip Schumaker groundout with a runner on 3rd.

Texas would cut the lead in half with a solo homer from 1B Mitch Moreland and another one from that 3B Adrian Beltre hit from his knees off starter Chris Carpenter to knot the game at 2-2. Then, in the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded and 1 out, C Mike Napoli scalded a double to deep center field where it bounced off the wall and drove in two more runs for Texas.

Neftali Feliz would then come on in the top of the 9th and after the leadoff batter, got Pujols to stroke out and cut down Allen Craig as he attempted to steal 2nd base. Matt Holliday was walked and Lance Berkman struck out to end the game and give Texas the 3-2 World Series lead.

The World Series heads back to St Louis on Wednesday night, although the forecast calls for extended rain showers throughout the day, so this must-win game for the Cardinals might be postponed for another day.

OTHER MLB NEWS: The Philadelphia Phillies have declined to pick up the 2012 options on starter Roy Oswalt and closer Brad Lidge. Both pitchers are coming off of an injury plagued 2011 season. Although both are free agents, Phillies brass hasn't ruled out either one of them returning under a new, renegotiated contract.

RED SOX: Boston GM Ben Cherington announced that starter John Lackey will miss the 2012 season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his elbow. Lackey was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA this season- the second year into his 5 year, $85 million contract.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: The Toronto Blue Jays issued a statement in which they announced they "would not grant permission for lateral moves", a reversal of the previous policy where the organization permitted any employee from talking to any organization about any job.

The announcement came amid speculation that manager John Farrell was being sought after by the Red Sox as a replacement for Terry Francona. Farrell spent four years as Boston's pitching coach and led the Blue Jays to an 81-81 record his first season as Toronto manager.

CHICAGO CUBS: Theo Epstein was officially introduced by the Cubs as their newest president of Baseball Operations on Tuesday.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Man oh man....what is it with Michigan State and these dramatic finishes?

With about 4 seconds to go in regulation against the #4 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans QB Kirk Cousins heaved a Hail Mary Pass from mid field and after caroming off the facemask of Spartans WR BJ Cunningham found its way into the arms of Spartans WR Keith Nichol, who managed to break the plane of the goal line for the 37-31 Spartans win.

The win vaults the Spartans from #15 to #9 in the AP Top 25 poll.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL: Meanwhile, Boston College's futile quest for a win against a FBS opponent continued after falling 14-30 to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday. The BC Eagles will next face Maryland at College Park, MD at 3:00 PM ET.

UMass, whis is the only team the Eagles have managed to beat this season, was defeated by the UNH Wildcats by a 27-71 final in the Colonial Clash at Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, Ma on Saturday. This could be a preview of 'home' games once the UMass Minutemen join the MAC starting in 2012.

UConnhad the weekend off, but plays Wednesday night against Pitt at 8 PM ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.

NBA: Speaking of UMass, Basketball hall of famer and UMass alumni Julius Erving is putting up his championship rings and MVP trophies up for auction after being sued for $200,000 by a Georgia bank.

Erving purchased an Atlanta-area golf course in 2006 and moved to the area a few years later. Using a Gwinnett county home as collateral, Erving secured a $1 million loan from Georgia Primary Bank in 2009. In 2010, the line of credit was reduced to $750,000 and the maturity date was extended to July 24th. However, the bank is suing Erving over the outstanding balance.

Among the items up for auction include his 1974 and 1976 championship ring from the ABA as well as a 1983 championship ring with the Philadelphia 76ers and 1980-81 NBA MVP trophy.

NHL: And just as quickly as Boston's offense showed up against Toronto, it seemed to abandon them as they hosted the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Coming off a 4-3 shootout win against New Jersey, the Bruins hosted Joe Thornton for career game #1001, but it was Essex, MA native and former BC Eagle Benn Ferriero that would put the Sharks up on top after Tyler Seguin had managed to knot the contest up at 2-2 in the 3rd.

Ferriero managed to bury a rebound past Thomas late in the 3rd to make it a 3-2 contest before a Patrick Marleau empty-netter in the final minute would ice the 4-2 win for San Jose.

Interestingly, while Thornton was playing career game #1000 in New Jersey, Ferriero was being called up from the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL for his NHL debut.

To mark the occasion of Thornton's return, the Bruins played a video tribute at the garden in the 1st period congratulating the San Jose center on the career milestone.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Todays Train of Though- Change of Seasons in the Hoosier State, October 24, 2011

Granted New England seems to be more renowned for its fall foliage, but with just the right composition, the Midwest autumn can be just as colorful.

Take for instance this local freight on the Indiana & Ohio's Brookville line in Southern Indiana. Here, contributor Michael Beihn caught GP38-2 #3889 from sister Rail America road Chicago, Ft Wayne & Eastern trundling long hood forward past some late fall foliage in Cedar Grove, IN in November 2009. In most of New England, most of the foliage is typically already on the ground by this point.

The freight shown here is traversing the I&O's Brookville branch which connects the southern Indiana town with the Cincinnati, OH area.

Longshoremen Union-Backed Attempt to Recall Washington Sherriff Fizzles

An ILWU-backed effort to recall the Cowlitz County, WA Sheriff failed this week after a Washington judge ruled that none of the charges raised by the Longshormen's local met any of the legal requirements for a recall election.
[Judge] Warning said his ruling was based on the fact that union offered no witnesses to demonstrate there was a good-faith belief that the claims were based on actual incidents. Warning also said elected officials have broad discretion to carry out their duties and can't be recalled based on actions of their subordinates, such as deputies making arrests.

[Sherriff] Nelson said after the ruling that he was relieved to be able "to get back to work." He added the recall was a "distraction" that's "taken up far, far too much time, and I want to get back to doing the things the sheriff ought to be doing."

During the hearing he said that he's urged both sides to follow the law since the protests began but had to make arrests "once unlawful actions began."

"I respectfully submit I've done nothing wrong except work to keep the peace," Nelson told Warning.

There has been some speculation the recall and a federal civil rights lawsuit were attempts to intimidate law enforcement to back off at future protests.

"If that's true, those people don't know me very well," Nelson said after the hearing.

Union officials said they were disappointed with the ruling and needed time to "regroup" before deciding if they'll appeal to the state Supreme Court.

During the hearing, ILWU lawyer Laurie Davis repeatedly said Nelson had failed to protect union members from harm and that voters should get to decide if he remains in office. She acknowledged that many union supporters have been arrested, but said it was how they were arrested and treated that the union questioned.

"Just like we are accountable for the behavior we did, he's accountable for not supervising his subordinates and keeping them from injuring us," Davis said. "It's his job to protect every citizen in Cowlitz County, and that includes ILWU members."

Warning said he was surprised the union didn't have any witnesses, saying the roughly hour-long hearing concluded much more quickly than he had expected. Officials had reserved the courtroom for the entire day.
The recall effort was launched just weeks after members of ILWU Local 21 raided a grain unloading facility in Longview, WA with baseball bats and axe handles taped to picket signs before dumping grain and cutting the air lines on a parked freight train and wrecking a vehicle belonging to one of the port's security gurads.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

At Least 75 Killed, Many More Trapped and Injured After Magnitude 7.2 Quake Rocks Eastern Turkey

AFP Photo
At least 75 people were reported killed and many more feared trapped in collapsed buildings after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake jolted the mountainous province of Van in southeastern Turkey on Sunday.
Up to 30 buildings collapsed in Ercis, including a dormitory, and 10 buildings collapsed in Van, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said.

Rescuers in Ercis scrambled to find survivors in a flattened eight-story building that had shops on the ground floor, television footage showed. Residents sobbed outside the ruins, hoping that missing relatives would be rescued.

"My wife and child are inside! My 4-month-old baby is inside!" CNN-Turk television showed one young man crying.

Witnesses said eight people were rescued from the rubble, but frequent aftershocks were hampering search efforts, CNN-Turk reported.

"There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed. There is too much destruction," Zulfikar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis, told NTV television. "We need urgent aid. We need medics."

The quake's epicenter was in the village of Tabanli, 10 miles from Van.
Between the aftershocks and the number of people feared trapped in some of the collapsed buildings, the death toll is expected to rise. Authorities had no word on damages or casualties from the remote villages in the region, but local officials beginning to assess damage via helicopter.

Campaign Treasurer's Arrest Leaves California Democrats Scrambling

California Democrat officeholders and party officials have been left frantic and scrambling since the arrest of prominent Democrat campaign financier Kinde Durkee last month. [BREAKING: I can't seem to find my world's tiniest violin; I think it's in the shop for its 20,000 sad sad song tune-up- NANESB!]

Durkee was arrested at her Burbank, CA offices on September 3rd by the FBI on charges of mail fraud. Durkee allegedly used funds raised from Democrat party donors to pay her own mortgage, travel expenses and American Express credit card bill.

Since the arrest, donors and candidates are trying to assess the full extent of the losses while attempting to raise money to replenish funds misappropriated by Kinder or frozen by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission. Complicating matters is that Durkee co-mingled money from the nearly 400 different accounts she controlled at First California Bank, making it difficult to determine exactly how much funding each campaign had available.

In late September, multimillionaire Senator Dianne Feinstein filed suit against both Durkee and First California Bank, alleging fraud and estimating her campaign's losses to be in the neighborhood of $5 million (much of that self-funded). In the meantime, much to the chagrin of statewide Democrat Party officials, First California has reportedly turned over the accounts under Durkee's control to a California court to determine who exactly has claim to what.
The bank angered clients when it handed over control of the 398 bank accounts associated with Durkee to a California state court on September 23, recusing itself from sorting out how much of the recovered money should be doled out to whom.

"In yet another attempt to escape liability for the fiasco that they helped create, First California Bank has turned most of the accounts that Durkee controlled over to the courts," the Los Angeles County Democratic Party said.
Hmm....Perhaps we touched on another reason why Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D- CA18) announced that he had decided not to run for another term this week.

Let me be honest- I can't say that this story makes me sad, because it doesn't. Not in the least. I grew up in a very blue state controlled by Democrats and aside from a stint in the US Army, I've spent the majority of my adult life in another dark blue state largely controlled by Democrats. The way the democrats have engaged in class warfare and the politics of envy and avarice while simultaneously representing the wealthiest ZIP codes in the United States would be laughable at face value if they didn't keep getting elected by the same cadre of vapid, wealthy elitists who whine endlessly that wealthy people like Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers are bad for America.

All of a sudden, this Durkee decides to help herself to their millions and out come the lawyers and sob stories when in reality, Durkee pretty much personified the end result of what passes for economic policy from the Democrat party these days- find an entity with lots and money and help yourself to it while convincing them you're doing them some sort of service.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rising Thai Floodwaters Reach Bangkok

Flooded highway interchange at Pathum Thani north of Bangkok on October 20
Knee high floodwaters began inundating outlying sections and neighborhoods of the Thai capital this week as officials warned resident to move their belongings to higher ground.
Knee-high floods began to appear in some outer districts of the city, a day after authorities said they would take the risky move of releasing some waters that had been building up in recent days behind barricades fashioned along the city's northern outskirts. The idea is to let some waters run through the canals that crisscross Bangkok to escape to the sea, but it was unknown whether the operation could be executed without inundating large parts of the capital.

In Thailand, more than 200 major highways and roads are now impassable, while several key industrial estates have been inundated. Damages are expected to tally at least $6 billion and shave up to two percentage points off gross domestic product, according to economists' estimates. Humanitarian groups said parts of the affected provinces-- covering about a third of Thailand -- are inaccessible, with some towns under water more than six feet high.
There are several industrial parks around Bangkok that provide components for products from companies such as Toyota [NYSE: TM], Apple Computers [NASDAQ: AAPL] , Honda Motors [NYSE: HMC] and Sony [NYSE: SNE] that have halted production at their Thai facilities due to the ongoing flooding, further disrupting supply chains already in disarray from the March 2011 quake and tsunami that struck Japan.

State Railways of Thailand (SRT) passenger tran traversing flooded are near Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand on October 19, 2011. Lerdchai Seangsong photo

Some of the expressways in and out of the capital had literally become parking lots as the high overpasses were the only high ground that the motorists were able to find. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and over government officials have warned that the floodwaters could take as long as 6 weeks to fully receede.
Earlier this month, the Kingdom's State Railway of Thailand shut down freight and passenger service to two northern cities while more recently it offered tourists refunds on tickets rendered unusable due to suspension of service because of the floods.

Oh Rats! How Boston's Fleeting Triumph in the 1975 WS and a Giant Rodent Were Behind the (Accidental) Birth of the 'Reaction Shot'

"If it stays fair.....Home Run!"
With the current Red Sox in a state of disarray, I thought that the 36th anniversary of Game 6 in the 1975 World Series might be worth revisiting.

Back in 1975, it was a little unusual to be playing baseball this late in October. However, the series had been postponed by rain for three straight days in Boston and Game 6 didn't get underway until October 21st.

Although the Red Sox got out to a quick 3-0 lead that night, the Big Red Machine managed to tie things up and then take a 6-3 lead thanks to a home run by George Foster in the 7th and a solo shot from Ceasar Geronimo in the 8th.

In the bottom of the 8th, Bernie Carbo belted a 2-out, 3-run homer to tie the game up at 6-6 [Years later, Carbo would later claim he showed up to the ballpark high for Game 6- NANESB!] but the Red Sox would manage to squander a bases-loaded nobody out situation in the 9th, sending Game 6 to extra innings.

In the top of the 11th, Boston outfielder Dwight Evans would make an outstanding diving catch of Joe Morgan's line drive seemingly headed for the right field seats to begin a double play.

I wouldn't be surprised if many of the regular visitors to this blog knew what happened next, when Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk led off the bottom of the 12th inning. 'Pudge' took the first pitch for ball one off of Cincinnati's Pat Darcy. Then he took the next pitch deep where it soared into the misty night sky before ricocheting off the left-field foul pole for a walk-off home run to seal the Red Sox win for Game 6.

What stood out about Fisk's homer wasn't so much the distance or his timing. Rather, it was his body language- caught thanks to NBC cameraman Lou Gerard, who was filming from inside the Green Monster- the Vermont native wearing #27 earnestly waving the ball fair as he jumped sideways down the baseline at 12:33 AM on October 22nd, 1975.

Years later, NBC sports director Harry Coyle explained that Gerard's filming of the exhuberant Fisk making his way down the baseline was purely by accident. If the ball was hit anywhere near him, Gerard was supposed to track the ball with his camera. Well- the ball hit the right field foul pole on the Green Monster. So what happened?
Lou says to me, "Hey, Harry, there's a rat right here next to me and it's moving closer.'

"Well, it was a misty night and, with Lou looking a rat in the eye, it was tough to pick up the ball. So when Fisk swung, Lou stayed with him at the plate and got the whole bit -- Fisk frantically trying to wave the ball fair and then the home-run trot," Coyle said. "Give that rat credit, not me, for what may have been the greatest shot in televised sports."

Think the rat story is mere exaggeration or hyperbole?

Boston Globe photo
Then ask yourself this: Why do you think the hawks that nest in Fenway Park are so well-fed?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Electric Car Company Building Vehicles in Finland After Obtaining US Gov't Loan From Obama Administration

The Obama Administration and Department of Energy are defending a $529 Million loan to Anaheim, CA-based electric car manufacturer Fisker after a report from ABC News on Thursday highlighted the fact that two years ago, the Administration approved the company shifting production overseas to Finland.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company's manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland.

"There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle," the car company's founder and namesake told ABC News. "They don't exist here."

Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.

The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty -- and pricey -- cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, says it will do the same in a massive facility tooling up in Silicon Valley.

Fisker is more than a year behind rolling out its $97,000 luxury vehicle bankrolled in part with DOE money. While more are promised soon, just 40 of its Karma cars (below) have been manufactured and only two delivered to customers' driveways, including one to movie star Leonardo DiCaprio.
A department of Energy spokesman defended the loan to Fisker, saying that the company also plans on producing a $50,000 hybrid called the Nina at a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware.
"The Department's funding was only used for the U.S. operations," Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow wrote. "The money could not be, and was not, spent on overseas operations. The Karma also relies on an extensive network of hundreds of suppliers in more than a dozen U.S. states."

He said the first part of the loan, $169 million, supported engineering work at Fisker's U.S. facilities as the company "developed the tools, equipment and manufacturing processes for Fisker's first vehicle" -- though that work so far has not contributed to a production line in the U.S.

But Leistikow said the rest of the loan is still supporting U.S. production of another vehicle line called the Nina.

"Fisker is using this funding to bring a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware back to life and employing more than 2,500 workers. Fisker was attracted to this site in part by the opportunity to rehire some of the trained, dedicated workers who lost their jobs when that plant closed," Leistikow said.
However, industry sources are claiming that Fisker's production of the Nina at the Delaware site has been pushed back to mid-2013. Fisker claims that the car has been designed and built, but remains under wraps to maintain a competitive edge.

Moreover, according to a recent Forbes article, once off its electric motor (reportedly good for 32 miles) the Fisker's Karma hybrid actually gets worse gas mileage than a late model Ford Explorer SUV

Does anybody else remember the various factory and workshop tours that President Obama embarked upon during 'Recovery Summer' last year? All of them seemed to pivot around so called 'Green Jobs'- factories that made electric vehicle components, solar panels or batteries for hybrids. And it seems that this wasn't really by accident, either.

Quicke Sports Chowdah Update For October 21st- Elvis Hasn't Left the Building Yet- Series Heads Back to Texas Tied 1-1; B's Offense Blows Leafs Away

Dilip Vishwanat- Getty Images
WORLD SERIES- And just like that, the Texas Rangers are back in this thing.

Two games into the 2010 World Series, I'm pleased to report there have been no blowouts so far. In Game one, the Cardinals broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI single from pinch hitter Allen Craig in the bottom of the 6th- and that would be the final on Wednesday night.

Thursday was a slightly different story as the Cards Jaime Garcia went 7 shutout innings, striking out 7 while giving up all of three hits. Colby Lewis went 6 and ⅔ innings for the Rangers, but once again, Allen Craig got the Cards on the board in a pinch-hit situation- this time in the bottom of the 7th- to give the Cards the 1-0 lead. The way Garcia and the Cards bullpen was keeping the Rangers bats quiet, it looked like that lone tally would be enough.

However, Ian Kinsler would lead off the Rangers half of the inning with a single off Jason Motte. Then, in a move that was almost as predictable as Dave Roberts stealing 2nd off of Mariano Rivera in the top of the 9th of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, Ian Kinsler took off for second and slid in barely ahead of a throw from catcher Yadier Molina and tag by Rafael Furcal.

Elvis Andrus the followed that up with a single, that put Kinsler on 3rd and Andrus reached on 2nd thanks to a Pujols botching a cutoff throw from right field.

The Texas bats had been quiet for most of the World Series so far, but with runners on second and third with nobody out, outfielder Josh Hamilton stepped into the batter's box. Hamilton gave it a ride to right field for a long flyout, but deep enough to plate Kinsler to tie the game and advance Andrus to 3rd base. Next up in the batter's box was 1B Michael Young, who would also fly out to deep right, but still deep enough for Andrus to make it home and put Texas up by 2-1. Adrian Beltre would go onto ground out to end the inning.

Nefatli Feliz would take the mound in the bottom of the 9th and allow a leadoff walk to Yadier Molina before getting the next three batters out for the 2-1 win. So Texas rallies to bring the World Series back to Arlington tied 1-1 not because of the big bats of Hamilton or Cruz, but thanks to aggressive baserunning and small ball.

Game 3 will be played Saturday night in Arlington, TX with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 PM ET. Kyle Lohse (14-8; 3.39 ERA in the regular season) gets the start for the Cards while Matt Harrison (sporting eerily similar regular season stats of 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA) takes to the bump for the Rangers. The game will be televised on FOX.

RED SOX: Not too surprisingly, both players and front office personnel from the Red Sox deny the rumors of players drinking beer, playing video games and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse between innings during games. DH David Ortiz made some noise about joining the Yankees as a free agent, but seemed to walk back those comments in the last few days and expressed a preference for staying with Boston.

On Friday, the Oakalnd A's announced that former Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young was leaving Boston to join manager Bob Melvin.

Meanwhile, a deal that would see Epstein head off to the Cubs is still considered likely, but the proceedings have slowed down noticeably this week.

Elsa/Getty Images
BOSTON BRUINS: At long last, the Bruins offense was showing some signs of life, handing the Toronto Maple Leafs their first regulation loss of the season.

The Leafs had gotten off to a scalding 4-0-1 start on the regular season heading into Thursday night's game at the Garden. Meanwhile, this would be the Bruins first divisional matchup of the season after hosting the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-1 loss on Tuesday.

Toronto would draw first blood with a Dave Steckel tally at the 7:29 mark in the first period, but that would be just about it for the Leafs. The Bruins would get two separate power play goals starting with Nathan Horton's game tying goal three minutes later (with assists from Chara and Ference) before Zdeno Chara's power play goal at the 16:05 mark (with assists from Andrew Ference and Tyler Seguin).

With just under 3 minutes to go in the 1st, Chris Kelly would put Boston up by a 3-1 score on what would turn out to be the game winner. After a scoreless 2nd period, the Bruins got plenty of insurance thanks to goals from Lucic, Bergeron and Seguin (all even-strength) before Toronto notched their second goal of the evening.

Boston moves to a game under .500 with this dramatic 6-2 win over the previously surging Leafs, making them undefeated (1-0) in matchups against teams in the Northeastern Division.

The 3-4-0 Bruins will next host a homecoming of sorts for Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks (1-3-0) at the Garden on Saturday at 7PM ET. The game will be televised on NESN.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

California Democrat: I'm Not Going to Bother Running For Re-Election With That Friggin' Obama Albatross Hanging Around My Neck

OK, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D- CA18) didn't come right out and say that when he announced that he wasn't going to run for another term, but it was implied in his parting shots toward the Obama Administration.

In a statement explaining his decision, Cardoza, a leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, said he was “dismayed” by the administration’s “failure to understand and effectively address the current housing foreclosure crisis.”

“Home foreclosures are destroying communities and crushing our economy, and the Administration’s inaction is infuriating,” Cardoza said.

A former chairman of the moderate Blue Dog Caucus, Cardoza also bemoaned the increasing partisanship in Washington, and blamed the media for fueling the ideological divide in the country, not giving enough attention to moderates.”
Cardoza's district includes the cities of Stockton, Modesto and Merced, which are currently among the top 10 cities with the highest foreclosure rates in the United States [not to mention the district's brush with infamy 10 years ago thanks to former Congressman Gary Condit- NANESB!].

Also, keep in mind that a number of Democrats leading up to the 2010 mid-terms portrayed themselves as 'moderate' or 'fiscally conservative', despite having voted in favor of two of the most sweeping big government proposals (Cap & Trade and Obamacare) in generations- Cardoza voted in favor of both. This caucus of supposedly moderate Democrats (known as the Blue Dogs) was been led by Cardoza at one time.

Cardoza is one of three Democrat Congressmen from the Blue Dog caucus to announce in the last 4 months that they wouldn't run for re-election. In early June, Representative Dan Boren, who represented Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district (Basically Tulsa and the eastern ⅓ of the Sooner State) announced that he wouldn't run for another term.

A month later and on the other side of the Ozarks, 6-term Blue Dog Mike Ross (D-AR4) announced that he wouldn't seek a 7th term, leading to speculation that in some corners that Ross was preparing for a 2014 bid for the Governor of Arkansas.

FBI Investigating Death Threats Against Illinois Congressman Bobby Schilling

The FBI along with local and U.S. Capitol Police are investigating an online threat made against western Illinois congressman Bobby Schilling this week.
Schilling learned of the threat against him in an email alert Tuesday night, according to his spokeswoman, Andrea Pivarunas. Sherriff’s deputies reportedly responded to the congressman’s district home, and have passed the matter on to the FBI and Capitol Police.

“After receiving a very concerning email alert Tuesday evening, Rep. Schilling and his family are taking recommended precautions while the situation is investigated by relevant authorities,” wrote Pivarunas in an email to The Hill.

“He is grateful for the professionalism of local law enforcement in responding to this situation,” she added.

The email threat against Schilling states, "I will pay $75,000 for ASSASSINATING Illinois Congresswoman (sic) Bobby Schilling and any US Congressman, US Senator and FBI, CIA and NSA DIRECTORS and their FAMILY MEMBERS regardless of their age,” according to local news reports.

In late September, a Google user offered up to $100,000 for killing the president and his immediate family, as well as George W. Bush, several members of his administration and Congress, The New York Times reported Thursday.

“KILL the MASS MURDERERS, TERRORISTS, SADISTS, PERVERTS and PSYCHOPATHS George Bush, [Donald] Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, FBI director Robert Mueller III, NSA Director Keith Alexander, CIA Director David Patraeus, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and National Intelligence director Dennis Blair,” according to the posting obtained by the Hill.

The messages were posted by Google user FBInCIAnNSATerroristSlayer, and contain language parallel to that of the threat made against Schilling. Other messages included in the user’s profile include threats against FBI, CIA and NSA agents, as well as a $75,000 reward to assassinate Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.).
Schilling, a former pizzeria owner who enjoyed backing from the Tea Party during the 2010 midterms is a freshman who's western Illinois district includes the Rock Island Arsenal, the Illinois part of the Quad Cities and part of the state capitol of Springfield.

On Thursday, Schilling announced on his Congressional that he would be visiting towns in the district via his 'Mobile Office' starting in November.

Libya's Interim Prime Minister: Ghdaffi is Dead

The Prime minister for Libya's interim government announced today that Libyan strongman Mummar Ghdaffi has been killed by rebel fighters in his hometown of Sirte on Thursday.

Qaddafi died of wounds suffered during his capture near his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, according to a spokesman for Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).

"Qaddafi is dead. He is absolutely dead ... he was shot in both legs and in the head. The body will be arriving in Misrata soon," media spokesman Abdullah Berrassali told Sky News.

Earlier, a man who claimed to have witnessed the attack told the Associated Press Television News that he struck Qaddafi with his shoes after he was shot.
Footage aired on Arabian TV showed a captured and wounded Ghdaffi bleeding as he was pinned against a truck's hood before being jostled and shoved by rebel fighters who were firing into the air and shouting "Allahu Akhbar! [God is Great]".

Now, before we get all warm and fuzzy [dare I say hopey-changey? NANESB!] lets not forget that an exiled Libyan Jew who was working to restore a Tripoli synagogue was threatened by masked men brandishing rifles earlier this month. There is also the matter of Libyan rebels arbitrarily rounding up and detaining black men and as many as 20,000 Russian-made shoulder-launched missiles in Ghdaffi's military arsenal that are now unaccounted for.

Still, the Libyan dictator's demise comes as not only good news to a number of Libyans, but also the family members of those killed in Lockerbie, Scotland when Libyan agents blew up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. Five Bulgarian nurses who were working in Libya before being detained by the Ghdaffy regime in 1999 and accused of deliberately infecting children with HIV in a show trial also welcomed the news of Ghdaffi's demise. In 2007 Mummar Ghdaffi's son admitted that the nurses were tortured in order to obtain a confession.

Exit question- what exactly is the status of Ghdaffi's all 'Grrrl' bodyguard squad? Were they captured or die with their leader in Sirte? I get the feeling the smarter of the Ghdaffi 'Grrl Power' squad are currently referred to as 'Rebel/Interim Government spokeswoman'.

UPDATE: This slideshow from Al-Bawaba offers some insight into the women of Ghdaffi's inner circle- both Arab and European- leading up to the civil war, including the bodyguard squad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Non-Irene Iron Horse Roundup for August/Setpetmber 2011: Genset-apalooza Edition

ARGENTINA: At least 11 people were killed and dozens more injured after a bus collided with two trains in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires last month.

CCTV cameras on the nearby station platform filmed as the disaster unfolded. Upon impact with the bus, the first train was knocked into the path of an oncoming train that was also pulling into the station.

Argentine Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said that most of the fatalities were on board the bus. The crossing that the bus used was reportedly protected by gates that lowered on a train's approach.

Arizona Eastern B39-8 #8560 leads a train north into Duncan, AZ on the former Southern Pacific Clifton Branch in April 2009. Photo- Micheal Derrick
ARIZONA: Greenwich, CT based shortline operator Genesee & Wyoming [NYSE: GWR] announced last month that it has completed the purchase of the 200+ mile Arizona Eastern from Iowa Pacific Holdings.

Arizona Eastern operates two branchlines in Arizona and New Mexico. The 130 mile line between the Southern Pacific Sunset Route in Bowie, AZ and the copper mines around Miami, Globe and Claypool, AZ was purchased from Southern Pacific in 1988. In 2008, the AZER purchased the 70 mile Clifton branch between Lordsburg, NM and the Freeport McMoRan [NYSE: FCX] mine at Morenci, AZ from Union Pacific.

The deal is worth an estimated $90.1 million and includes about 50 miles of trackage rights over Union Pacific's former SP Sunset route between Bowie, AZ and Lordsburg, NM to connect the two lines.

Nickel Plate 765 doing a photo runby on the Cuyhoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Boston Mills, OH on September 25th. Photo, Richard Thompson
OHIO: The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society's restored Nickel Plate Berkshire #765 travelled to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in September to haul a series of excursions as part of the CVSR's 'Steam in the Valley' event. The steam powered excusrions were in additon to the regular slate of diesel powered excusrion trains on the CVSR. This is the second year in a row that the #765 made an appearence on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The Berkshire travelled northwest to Owosso, MI from the Akron area to haul a series of fall foliage excursions for the Michigan Steam Institute between Owosso and Alma, MI over track belonging to the Great Lakes Central. The October excursions in Michigan are reportedly to help raise funds to bring the Michigan Steam Institute's own Berkshire steam locomotive- Pere Marquette #1225- back into working order after its 15 year boiler inspection.

F Units and passenger cars from Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern make their way across the Hudson River at Stillwater, NY enroute to the former B&M yard at Mechanicsville, NY. Photo, John Bazan
PAN AM RAILWAYS: On August 22nd and 23rd, Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern operated a joint Office Car special between Ayer, MA and Mechanicville, NY to view progress on the rebuilding of the West end of the line as well as the former B&M Mechanicville yard, which is currently being rebuilt as an intemodal and auto unloading facility.

The office car special used FP9s and cars from both railways before being split up at Mohawk Yard in Schenedtady, NY with the Pan Am equipment heading back east and the Norfolk Southern equipment making its way back to home rails via Canadian Pacific and Binghamton, NY.

Freshly repainted into Boston & Maine 'heritage' colors, Pan-Am GP9 #77 is seen at the former B&M yard in E. Deerfield, MA drilling cars with Guilford-painted GP9 #72 on September 25, 2011. Photo, Justin Winiarz
OTHER PAN AM NEWS: Workers at Pan Am's Waterville, ME shops painted former Boston & Maine GP9 #77 into vintage maroon and gold colors complete with the B&M 'Minuteman' herald that adorned the railway's early diesels.

The locomotive debuted in it's 'new' colors in August and saw service on Waterville, ME-based local SAPPI-3 before being transferred to the Boston & Maine's freight yard at E. Deerfield, MA where it was put into service as the yard switcher. Reportedly, more 'Heritage' style locomotives are in the works for Pan Am, including some vintage EMD's that could be painted in Maine Central's green and orange paint scheme.

Photo, Dave Duccolo
CALIFORNIA: Stockton, CA based Central California Traction Company purchased their first genset locomotive, which was completed by the Brookville Locomotive Works division of Brookfield Equipment in August. The locomotive, designated a BL21CG is former Brookville Locomotive Works Demonstrator #259 which was rebuilt from a Maine Central GP38.

In addition to the former Brookfield demonstrator, Central California Traction currently rosters a number of SW1500s as well as a couple of 1st generation GP18s and GP7s.

Brookfield has previously built gensets for both ConnDot and MetroNorth to be used in passenger and work train service.

NBSR GP38-2 #2317 seen heading west on the former Montreal Maine & Atlantic/ Bangor & Aroostook Millinocket subdivision with Maine Northern/New Brunswick Southern Train #901 bound for Brownsville, Jct, ME on July 30, 2011. Photo, Ron Tilley
MAINE: St. John, NB-based New Brunswick Southern Railway has begun operations over nearly 230 miles of track owned by the state of Maine beginning in July. The track was the former Montreal Maine & Atlantic Millinocket subdivision between Millinocket, ME and Madawaska, ME as well as branch lines to Houlton, Limestone and Ft. Fairfield, ME. Previously the line had belonged to the Bangor and Aroostook.

In early 2010, the MM&A filed a notice of intent to abandon most of its northern trackage. The state then reached an agreement with MM&A to purchase the lines for $20 million and then subcontract operation of the lines out to a third part while MM&A would retain trackage rights over the line to serve between St. Leonard, NB to the north and Brownville Jct, ME to the south.

In April 2011, the New Brunswick Southern- part of Canadian congolmerate J.D. Irving's holdings in transportation, lumber, food processing agriculture, retail and shipbuilding- was awarded the contract to operate the former MM&A lines, with the actual transfer set to take place on July 1, 2011.

Prior to the agreement, the New Brunswick Southern already operated over 100 miles of former Canadian Pacific track in the state of Maine as the Eastern Maine Railway between the Maine Central/Guilford/Pan-Am junction at Mattawamkeag, ME and the international border at Vanceboro, ME as well as the MM&A connection in Brownsville Jct.

Parent company J.D. Irving said that they expect to hire 30 additional employees and purchase more rolling stock as a result of the agreement with the state of Maine. To accomodate the expansion, the NBSR also purchased a pair of former Union Pacific GP38-2s that arrived in July

OREGON: The former Southern Pacific branchline between Eugene and Coos Bay, OR has been reopened and is seeing limited freight service as the Coos Bay Rail Link ran the first through train over the line in nearly four years.

Rail America's Central Oregon & Pacific last operated over the line in September 2007, electing to shut down most of the branch west of Eugene due to at least nine aging tunnels that would cost an estimated $7 million to repair. A month later, the Port of Coos Bay filed a $15 million suit against Rail America saying that they failed to provide the required 180 day notice prior to shutdown. In late 2008, the surface transportation board ordered Rail America to sell the line to the Port of Coos Bay for $16 million. Since then, contractors have gone to work replacing washouts, strengthening tunnels and inspecting trestles and crossings. In April 2011, it was announced that Arizona-based ARG Trains would handle the railway operations of the 133 mile line.

The first revenue Coos Bay Rail Link train departed Eugene on October 11th with a single SW1200 and dozen centerbeam flatcars, arriving in Coos Bay the following day.

MPI GP15D Genset #1509 and GP20D #2009 are seen waiting to enter yard limits in Rutland, VT with a local freight on August 10, 2011. Photo, Kevin Burkholder
VERMONT: The Vermont Railway began testing a pair of MPI Gensets in early August. The two locomotives- a 1500 HP GP15D and 2000 HP GP20D- were scheduled for three months of testing and began service as a pair on the Rutland to Florence, VT local their first week.

At around the same time, the VRS has started the long-term lease of two former Rail America GP38-3s- numbered 3801 and 3803.
Iowa Interstate 2-10-2 QJ steam locomotive #6988 seen running around the wye at Bureau, IL on September 9, 2011. Photo, Erik Rasmussen
IOWA INTERSTATE: Just because Trainfest 2011 is over and done with doesn't mean that the Iowa Interstate was finished with steam for the year. On the weekend of September 9-11, the town of Geneseo, IL- just east of Rock Island, IL on Iowa Interstate's former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific line- was home to the 5th annual 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'.

Besides vintage aircraft and automobiles, the Iowa Interstate provided the trains by having Chinese built 2-10-2 QJ class steam locomotive #6988 on display along with a switcher from Patriot Renewable Fuels. The #6988 also powered short excursions out of Geneseo with Iowa Interstate coaches.

Iowa Interstate ES44AC #513 is seen leading detoured freight BICB (BI = Indiana Harbor Belt Rail Yard at Blue Island, IL; CB = Council Bluffs, IA) off IAIS rails in Peoria Heights, IL on October 9, 2011. Photo- Craig McGregor

OTHER IOWA INTERSTATE NEWS: A derailment in Tuskwila, IL on October 7th forced the detour of Iowa Interstate's daily Chicago-Council Bluffs, IA (and its eastbound counterpart) BICB/CBBI by way of Peoria, IL and then west to Colona, IL on the BNSF via Galesburg, IL.

About a half dozen cars loaded with ethanol ignited and the village of Tuskwila had to be evacuated after the derailment in the early morning hours. Nodoby was injured in the wreck and the fire was contained by mid-morning.

The NTSB is dispatching a 6-person team to investigate the cause of the derailment.

New Genset from Tacoma Rail basking in the sun enxt to Mount Rainer Scenic's Restores Polson Logging 1922-buil Balwin on Aug 27th. Andrew Temoshek photo
WASHINGTON: Tacoma Rail has taken delivery of its first genset, an 3GS21B from National Railway Equipment. The locomotive arrived on the property in time for an open house where the 3-day old diesel was on display with Mount Ranier Scenic Railway's restored 1922-built Baldwin 2-8-2 #70, contrasting the old and the new.

[Hat tip: Steel Wheels Photography; Canadian Railway Observations; Peoria Station]