Archive for August, 2008

Now that I’ve seen this it had better happen. Simply too cruel a tease if not.

Dead by dawn!


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Keeth Smart is flying to New York on Monday to begin his new life at Columbia Business School. He is carrying an Olympic silver medal for fencing.

In addition to winning the silver medal Sunday in men’s sabre, ending with a 45-37 loss to France, the United States won five other medals here. The women, among them Smart’s sister, Erinn, won a silver medal in foil, and they also won a bronze in sabre.

“This is the greatest performance in American fencing, and I am proud to be part of it,” Keeth Smart said.

In the first round of team competition Sunday, Smart went last, with the Americans trailing Hungary, 40-36. He then outpointed Zsolt Nemcsik, 9-4, to allow the United States to advance. In the semifinals, the Russians held a 40-35 lead, but Smart outpointed Stanislav Pozdnyakov, another experienced fencer, 10-4, to give the United States a 45-44 victory.

“Keeth Smart is our hero,” said James Williams, another American fencer. “He had those two losses in Athens, and he was so brave today.”

Smart, who turned 30 on July 29, is a graduate of St. John’s University. He grew up in Brooklyn and was attracted to fencing when his father, Thomas, read that Peter Westbrook, a 1984 bronze medalist, was running a program for city children. Erinn Smart, now 28 and a graduate of Barnard College, followed her brother into the sport, as New York became a magnet for young fencers.

The women have made more of a mark than the men. In 2004, Zagunis won the gold medal in women’s sabre, and Jacobson won a bronze. But Keeth Smart has been the leader of this generation.

“People don’t realize how much he brought to fencing,” said Tim Morehouse, another New York fencer who was part of the silver-winning team Sunday. “This is a coming-out party for U.S. fencing. We never did anything before.”

Congratulations Keeth and Erinn!

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The Daily News interviewed Pakistani immigrants in my Brooklyn neighborhood for a story in today’s paper.

It’s not surprising that Pakistanis in the US would dislike Musharraf but it’s pretty rare that Little Pakistan is ever mentioned in the news. So I’ll indulge myself and take a moment to talk about what I think is one of the terrific perks of living where I live.

Little Pakistan is a working-class and family oriented immigrant neighborhood that established itself on a rather unaesthetic, mostly commercial length of Coney Island Avenue. It spills over into the neighborhoods on either side; Kensington on the west is mostly Russian, Jewish and Carribean and Ditmas Park on the east is gentrifying and in it’s current state is very diverse – a less common neighborhgood trait in Brooklyn than most people probably know. The entrance to my apartment building is one block off CIA on the Ditmas Park side.

The Pakistanis are friendly neighbors and welcoming business owners. I’m always recognized in their shops and restaurants and never made to feel like an outsider in the little niche they’ve carved out for themselves. I will admit that regularly seeing women in full burkahs took a little getting used to, but now I barely notice them. Little or no crime emanates from their community and on the whole their presence only benefits the greater area that I consider my neighborhood.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Vacation Storm

This storm rolled into Rehoboth Beach, DE, late Sunday morning.

The video really doesn’t do it justice.  At the height of the hailstorm the iceballs ranged from the size of marbles to some that were as big as a supeball.  And they were pounding us, probably for about 20 minutes.  I didn’t think the windows were going to make it and I was surprised to see our rental car was undamaged.  Now, there isn’t a lot of extreme weather where I live in the Northeast; a few good nor’easters each year and the rare hurricane that manages to hold together for the trip up the east coast is about it.   So I guess I’m probably easily impressed, all the hail I’ve ever seen were little pellets.

Didn’t ruin the day, the storm clouds passed over us in under two hours.   And I think the boardwalk and beach were a lot less crowded than usual for the rest of the day.

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Scientific American

Today, this flue gas wafts up and out of the power plant’s enormous smokestacks, but by simply bubbling it through the nearby seawater, a new California-based company called Calera says it can use more than 90 percent of that CO2 to make something useful: cement.

It’s a twist that could make a polluting substance into a way to reduce greenhouse gases. Cement, which is mostly commonly composed of calcium silicates, requires heating limestone and other ingredients to 2,640 degrees F (1,450 degrees C) by burning fossil fuels and is the third largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Making one ton of cement results in the emission of roughly one ton of CO2—and in some cases much more.

While Calera’s process of making calcium carbonate cement wouldn’t eliminate all CO2 emissions, it would reverse that equation. “For every ton of cement we make, we are sequestering half a ton of CO2,” says crystallographer Brent Constantz, founder of Calera. “We probably have the best carbon capture and storage technique there is by a long shot.”

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Brett Favre is a New York Jet

Maybe it’s typical Jet fan cynicism but this looks like a disaster in the making. On local cable news this morning they’re showing man-on-the-street interviews where everyone who responds seems thrilled. These people don’t sound like Jets fans to me at all. Are they not aware that Favre turns 39 in October? I understand that he had one of his greatest seasons last year. It’s not all that rare for great athletes in the twilight of their careers will put up one last great season after their skills had seemed to decline toward mediocrity. Ottis Anderson in 1989. Randall Cunningham in 1998. Rickey Henderson in 1999. What is extremely rare is for a player to see his skills decline in his late 30s, as Favre’s did in 2005 and 2006 (QB ratings of 70.9 and 72.7, respectively) followed by a strong comeback to previous level of play – that lasts any longer than one season.

By comparison, Chad Pennington’s QB ratings in the past two seasons are 82.6 and 86.1, though he only started 8 games last year. Kellen Clemens, who started the other 8 games, had a paltry 60.9 rating but the team likes his skill set and sees him as a work in progress. Pennington will apparently be released by the Jets. Wish him well, he was always a team-first player. He stood on the sidelines too long holding a clipboard for Vinny Testaverde – another aging QB who played for the Jets at the end of his career as a starter. In Vinny’s case, Jets fans were lucky to get his great career year/comeback season in New York. That was 1998, when Vinny led The Jets to the AFC Conference Championship game. Going into the following season, the Jets were regarded as Superbowl contenders with 36 year-old Vinny Testaverde at the helm. In the first quarter of the first game of the season, Vinny dropped back for a pass and went down without anyone touching him. He’d snapped his achilles and was done for the season. You’d think that would be a lesson a franchise wouldn’t forget for at least 10 years.

A couple of choice excerpts from today’s NY Times:

Tannenbaum said that Favre had to be convinced to consider the Jets and that Favre talked directly to the Jets only in the last two days. Favre and his family favored the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Favre knew Coach Jon Gruden and his offense, all the way up to the moment when the Jets made the deal. The extent of Favre’s commitment to the Jets remains a question.

Favre has no previous relationship with Coach Eric Mangini and the offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and he will be forced to learn an unfamiliar offense on the fly. Favre’s style has always had a seat-of-his-pants element, and that has led to a striking propensity to throw interceptions. That problem could hamper him with the Jets, particularly early in the season as he tries to find his comfort zone with new receivers. But as he left Green Bay Wednesday morning, Favre expressed weariness at his predicament — the falling out with the Packers had taken a toll on him and his family — and a desire to merely join a team.

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