Monday, January 25, 2016

Florida State U Pays $950,000 To Settle Rape Accusation Claim

Florida State University has agreed to settle the claim that football star Jameis Winston raped student Erica Kinsman in 2012 rather than taking the matter to trial, according to this account.

The $950,000 settlement will be divided with $250,000 going to Kinsman and $700,000 being paid to her attorneys. Kinsman’s attorneys in her lawsuit against Winston, Baine Kerr and John Clune, are considered two of the most accomplished on Title IX matters. They've been involved in several prominent cases where student-athletes are accused of sexual assault, such as the Title IX cases at the University of Colorado and Arizona State University.


John Clune and Blaine Kerr, who together took in over twice as much as victim Erica Kinsman in the FSU settlement, $700,000.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Takes $1,000,000 Pay Cut!

As the result of a somewhat tortured year on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has had his compensation reduced by a whopping ONE MILLION DOLLARS!  For his services to the big bank the balding 61 year-old executive will receive a paltry $23 million in salary, stock and bonuses, as opposed to $24 million in 2014, a 4% reduction. In 2007 the feisty banker was awarded $70 million so times are indeed tough in the lower Manhattan financial jungle, even for a billionaire.

Goldman Sachs shares dropped 7% in 2015 and profits went down 31%. Company profits were a little less than $6 billion.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Killer Koyotes, They're Not a Rock Band

Those darn coyotes are at it again. The predator plague that's got the country in a tizzy has apparently made a meal of a rare animal being kept by the Smithsonian National Zoo, a dama gazelle, as the Associated Press advises us:

FRONT ROYAL — The Smithsonian National Zoo says it wants to hunt down the trio of coyotes that recently killed a critically endangered dama gazelle at its sprawling Conservation Biology Institute here. Plans are to soon target the coyote group that got into an enclosure and was seen near the gazelle carcass. Those predators, having found a good food source, are now liable to kill other such vulnerable animals at the 3,200-acre site.
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The institute’s deputy director, William Pitt, said it was a painful decision, but the zoo has a responsibility to protect endangered species from predators.
A rash of coyote sightings have recently been reported in Fairfax and Prince William counties.
“It is a choice you have to make,” Pitt said. “It hasn’t been an easy decision for me. ... If there were a thousand coyotes on the property and this (killing) didn’t happen, it would be fine.”
The killing of the gazelle was the first time the institute has lost an animal to a coyote.
Pitt said the hunt will try to target only those coyotes that killed the gazelle, by focusing on the specific territory where they live around the complex.

He said a hunter will probably stake out the area, lure the coyotes with a recording of a rabbit in distress, and shoot the predators when they come to investigate.

The dama gazelle is native to the Sahara area of northern Africa. It's possible that the coyotes regard the gazelles as an invasive species rather than lunch but who knows? Of course, attempting to draw in the guilty coyotes by the use of a predator call may well result in the murder of an innocent coyote, should there even be such a thing. Even if the trio of killer koyotes is eliminated, considering the exploding population of the canines, it's likely that others will come to take their place. Nature abhors a vacuum.

 Image result for dama gazelle


Friday, January 15, 2016

Optum Pro Cycling Becomes Rally Cycling

Minneapolis-based Circuit Sport has announced a new title sponsor for the cycling team once known as Optum Pro Cycling. The new primary sponsor is Rally Health and the team will be known as Rally Cycling.

The highly successful team has its usual complement of incumbent members on the men's side, Tom Zirbel, Jesse Anthony, Brad Huff and Will Routley among them. There's been big changes in the female roster, however, and it will be interesting to see how some fresh faces do in the upcoming season. Canadian all-around rider Jasmin Glaesser and US veteran Erica Allar will be the leaders in 2016.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Women's Pro Cycling Pre-Season All-Star Team

It's a new year for the women's peloton and we have no way of knowing for sure who will be the most successful riders this season. Marianne Vos has missed a year with injuries. It remains to be seen if the most dominant cyclist of her generation can return to her normal spot on the top of the podium. Emma Pooley is talking about moving back to cycling from endurance running in an effort to make the Rio Olympics. In fact, for some of the very best female cyclists, making it to Rio de Janiero is more important than the season as a whole and might have an effect on the make-up and results of some very important races. Some riders are perhaps in the twilight of their careers, others have yet to reach their potential. These are the ladies that we think have will real success in 2016.

Floortje Machaij - Team Liv-Plantur 2016
Floortje Mackaij, the rider that Liv-Plantur is counting on for the future.

 Even with the uncertainty of the coming year for Marianne Vos, Rabo-Liv still has the firepower needed to dominate women's cycling. Anna van der Breggen, at the peak of her career, supplies some of the ammunition.          

Image result for emma johansson

If Marianne Vos has been the queen of women's cycling, super consistent Emma Johansson has been the princess. The Swedish star moves to the Wiggle High 5 team for 2016, making noises that she may soon retire.

                      Megan Guarnier, riding for Boels-Dolmans, is the 2015 world championships bronze medalist.

Canyon rider Alena Amialiusik represented Belarus in the London Olympics and will probably ride in Rio as well.
Image result for Lotta lepisto

Finnish road racing champion Lotta Lepisto will be carrying the mail for Bigla.

Hard-charging Valentina Scandolara will be one of the leaders of the new Cylance team.

Now riding for Orica-AIS, American Tayler Wiles seems to be ready for a breakout season.

A native of Belgium, where cycling is the national sport, Jolien d'Hoore is a national champion on the road and the track.

 Leah Kirchmann - Team Liv-Plantur 2016
Triple Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann moves over to Europe to sprint for Liv-Plantur.

Now with the Wiggle High-5 team, Elisa Longo Borghini has been a force to be reckoned with on the international peloton since she was 20 years old.

Rabobank, maybe in their last year of sponsoring a ladies team, still has Dutch star Lucinda Brand.

Rising Italian pro Elena Cecchini has moved to Canyon-SRAM.

World Champion and probable Olympic favorite Elizabeth Armitstead of the Boels-Domans team.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, 2014 world champ, mountain bike and cyclocross star and a general in the Rabobank army.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"The Vulture", Samuel Johnson, Saturday, 9 September, 1758

Many naturalists are of opinion, that the animals which we commonly consider as mute, have the power of imparting their thoughts to one another. That they can express general sensations is very certain; every being that can utter sounds, has a different voice for pleasure and for pain. The hound informs his fellows when he scents his game; the hen calls her chickens to their food by her cluck, and drives them from danger by her scream.

 Birds have the greatest variety of notes; they have indeed a variety, which seems almost sufficient to make a speech adequate to the purposes of a life which is regulated by instinct, and can admit little change or improvement. To the cries of birds, curiosity or superstition has always been attentive; many have studied the language of the feathered tribes, and some have boasted that they understood it.

The most skilful or most confident interpreters of the sylvan dialogues have been commonly found among the philosophers of the east, in a country where the calmness of the air, and the mildness of the seasons, allow the student to pass a great part of the year in groves and bowers. But what may be done in one place by peculiar opportunities, may be performed in another by peculiar diligence. A shepherd of Bohemia has, by long abode in the forests, enabled himself to understand the voice of birds; at least he relates with great confidence a story, of which the credibility is left to be considered by the learned.

 "As I was sitting," said he, "within a hollow rock, and watching my sheep that fed in the valley, I heard two vultures interchangeably crying on the summit of the cliff. Both voices were earnest and deliberate. My curiosity prevailed over my care of the flock; I climbed slowly and silently from crag to crag, concealed among the shrubs, till I found a cavity where I might sit and listen without suffering or giving disturbance.

 "I soon perceived that my labour would be well repaid; for an old vulture was sitting on a naked prominence, with her young about her, whom she was instructing in the arts of a vulture's life, and preparing, by the last lecture, for their final dismission to the mountains and the skies.

" 'My children,' said the old vulture, 'you will the less want my instructions, because you have had my practice before your eyes; you have seen me snatch from the farm the household fowl, you have seen me seize the leveret in the bush, and the kid in the pasture; you know to fix your talons, and how to balance your flight when you are laden with your prey. But you remember the taste of more delicious food; I have often regaled you with the taste of man.' 'Tell us,' said the young vultures, 'where man may be found, and how he may be known; his flesh is surely the natural food of the vulture. Why have you never brought a man in your talons to the nest?' 'He is too bulky,' said the mother: 'when we find a man we can only tear away his flesh, and leave his bones upon the ground.' 'Since man is so big,' said the young ones, 'how do you kill him? You are afraid of the wolf and of the bear, by what power are vultures superior to man? is man more defenceless than a sheep?' 'We have not the strength of a man,' returned the mother, 'and I am sometimes in doubt whether we have the subtilty; and the vultures would seldom feed upon his flesh, had not nature, that devoted him to our uses, infused into him a strange ferocity, which I have never observed in any other being that feeds upon the earth. Two herds of men will often meet and shake the earth with noise, and fill the air with fire. When you hear noise and see fire, with flashes along the ground, hasten to the place with your swiftest wing, for men are surely destroying one another; you will then find the ground smoking with blood and covered with carcasses; of which many are dismembered and mangled for the convenience of the vulture.' 'But when men have killed their prey,' said the pupil, 'why do they not eat it? When the wolf has killed a sheep, he suffers not the vulture to touch it till he is satisfied himself. Is not man another kind of wolf?' 'Man,' said the mother, 'is the only beast who kills that which he does not devour, and this quality makes him so much a benefactor to our species.' 'If men kill our prey and lay it in our way,' said the young one, 'what need shall we have of labouring for ourselves?' 'Because man will, sometimes,' replied the mother, 'remain for a long time quiet in his den. The old vultures will tell you when you are to watch his motions. When you see men in great numbers moving close together, like a flock of storks, you may conclude that they are hunting, and that you will soon revel in human blood.' 'But still,' said the young one, 'I would gladly know the reason of this mutual slaughter. I could never kill what I could not eat.' 'My child,' said the mother, 'this is a question which I cannot answer, though I am reckoned the most subtle bird of the mountain. When I was young, I used frequently to visit the aerie of an old vulture, who dwelt upon the Carpathian rocks; he had made many observations; he knew the places that afforded prey round his habitation, as far in every direction as the strongest wing can fly between the rising and setting of the summer sun; he had fed year after year on the entrails of men. His opinion was, that men had only the appearance of animal life, being really vegetables with a power of motion; and that as the boughs of an oak are dashed together by the storm, that swine may fatten upon the falling acorns, so men are, by some unaccountable power, driven one against another, till they lose their motion, that vultures may be fed. Others think they have observed something of contrivance and policy among these mischievous beings; and those that hover more closely round them, pretend, that there is, in every herd, one that gives directions to the rest, and seems to be more eminently delighted with a wide carnage. What it is that entitles him to such pre-eminence we know not; he is seldom the biggest or the swiftest, but he shows by his eagerness and diligence that he is, more than any of the others, a friend to the vultures.' "

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Abstract Artist Ellsworth Kelly Dies At 92

Ellsworth Kelly, abstract minimalist art star, has passed away at age 92. Having been a part of the US military's camouflage efforts in WWII, Kelly went on to an education in art in Europe but eventually returned to the US where his efforts in art, sculpture and design then spread around the world.
This review from the Washington Post gives one view of his work. A look at some examples:

Ellsworth Kelly
Kelly's High Yellow, 1960, a gift to the University of Texas by Mari and James Michener in 1990.

Aloes Nov 58 Kelly Sold by Christies in 2012 for $242,500.

Curved Red on Blue 1963

If you've an interest and ability in art, you might feel that you yourself could produce such wondrous and important works as Ellsworth Kelly did. You can't. You're not a real artist like he was.