Thursday, 24 January 2013

Uni Watch evaluates New Orleans Pelicans

When we invited Uni Watch readers to rename and redesign the New Orleans Hornets last spring, one of the five finalists was this New Orleans Pelicans design by reader Chris Giorgio. That design was by far the most popular option among those who voted in an ESPN SportsNation poll. New Orleans PelicansThe New Orleans Hornets will officially become the New Orleans Pelicans next season.Maybe the NBA or team owner Tom Benson were listening, because the Hornets will become the Pelicans next season. Info on the new uniforms, according to the team's news release, "will be relayed in the coming months," but you can see the team's five new logos here.

Some preliminary thoughts:
• The new name makes a lot more sense for a New Orleans team than "Hornets" ever did, and it's also way better than some of the other names that had been floated. Well done.

• Looks like the NBA's long-running rule about logos having to show a basketball remains intact. It's odd that the league insists on sticking to this protocol. Can you imagine if the NFL had a similar rule about every logo showing a football?

• The feeling here is that the lettering is too ornate, too busy. And the trend of bookending the wordmark with a large letter on the right side is way overplayed by now.

• Oh man, another team wearing red and blue. Sigh. New Orleans has such a rich chromatic tradition, leaning heavily on purple and green. Why use the same default colors that so many other teams use?
• Here's an odd cross-sport confluence: The new Pelicans logo looks a lot like the Patriots' old "tri-corner hat" logo.

• The secondary logos are fine. Nice that they came up with the Bird-de-Lis to replace the Fleur-de-Bee (which was always misnamed, because a hornet is not a bee!).

In short: a mixed bag. But let's wait until we see the uniforms before passing final judgment.
The real question now is whether the Bobcats will claim the name "Hornets" and bring it back to Charlotte.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Taft School Shooting: Teen Gunman Told Teacher, Ryan Heber, 'I Don't Want to Shoot You'

A California teacher'sbrave conversation with a 16-year-old gunman who had opened fire on his classmates allowed 28 other students to quickly escape what could have been a massacre.

Science teacher Ryan Heber calmly confronted the teenager after he shot and critically wounded a classmate, whom he claimed to authorities had bullied him for more than year at Taft Union High School.

"I don't want to shoot you," the teen gunman told Heber, who convinced the teen gunman to drop his weapon, a high power shotgun.

Responding to calls of shots fired, campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields arrived at the classroom and helped Heber talk the boy into giving up the weapon.

"This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."

One student, who police say the shooter had targeted, was shot. He was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical, but stable condition, Youngblood said. He is expected to undergo surgery today.

Two other students received minor injuries. One suffered hearing loss and another fell over a table while evacuating. Heber received a wound to his head from a stray pellet, police said.

Police said the teen, whose name has not been made public because he is a minor, began plotting on Wednesday night to kill two students he felt had bullied him.

Authorities believe the suspect found his older brother's gun and brought it into the just before 9 a.m. on Thursday and went to Heber's second-floor classroom where a first period science class with 20 students was taking place.

"He planned the event," Youngblood said. "Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet."

The gunman entered the classroom and shot one of his classmates. Heber immediately began trying to talk him into handing over the gun, and evacuating the other students through the classroom's backdoor.

"The heroics of these two people goes without saying. ... They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't," the sheriff said. "They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun."

The gunman was found with several rounds of additional ammunition in his pockets.

Within one minute of the shooting, a 911 call was placed and police arrived on the scene. An announcement was made placing the school on lockdown and warning teachers and students that the precautions were "not a drill."

The school had recently announced new safety procedures following last month's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 young children were killed. Six school staffers, including the principal, were killed as they tried to protect the children from gunman Adam Lanza.

The school employs an armed security guard, but he was not on campus Thursday morning.

Youngblood said the student would be charged with attempted murder, but the district attorney would decide if he was to be tried as an adult.

Some 900 students attend Taft Union High School, located in Taft, Calif., a rural community in southern California.

U.S. tells computer users to disable Java software

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advising people to temporarily disable the Java software on their computers to avoid potential hacking attacks.

The recommendation came in an advisory issued late Thursday, following up on concerns raised by computer security experts.
Experts believe hackers have found a flaw in Java's coding that creates an opening for criminal activity and other high-tech mischief.
The malware has currently been seen attacking Windows, Linux and Unix systems, and while so far has not focused on OS X, may be able to do so given OS X is largely similar to Unix and Java is cross-platform.

Even though the exploit has not been seen in OS X, Apple has taken steps to block it by issuing an update to its built-in XProtect system to block the current version of the Java 7 runtime and require users install an as of yet unreleased version of the Java runtime.

Luckily with the latest versions of Java, users who need to keep it active can change a couple of settings to help secure their systems. Go to the Java Control Panel that is installed along with the runtime, and in the Security section uncheck the option to "Enable Java content in the browser," which will disable the browser plug-in. This will prevent the inadvertent execution of exploits that may be stumbled upon when browsing the Web, and is a recommended setting for most people to do. If you need to see a Java applet on the Web, then you can always temporarily re-enable the plug-in.

The second setting is to increase the security level of the Java runtime, which can also be done in the same Security section of the Java Control Panel. The default security level is Medium, but you can increase this to High or Very High. At the High level, Java will prompt you for approval before running any unsigned Java code, and at the Very High level all Java code will require such approval, regardless of whether or not it is signed."
Java is a widely used technical language that allows computer programmers to write a wide variety of Internet applications and other software programs that can run on just about any computer's operating system.

Oracle Corp. bought Java as part of a $7.3 billion acquisition of the software's creator, Sun Microsystems, in 2010.

Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., had no immediate comment late Friday.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Chuck Hagel nomination creates rare partisan fight over Pentagon post

The nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon has set in motion a highly unusual campaign-style brawl over a Cabinet post long considered above politics.
Supporters and opponents are raising money and building political organizations in anticipation of a grueling and contentious Senate confirmation process
The opponents, led by a conservative group called the Emergency Committee for Israel, began airing attack ads soon after the Nebraska Republican’s name surfaced weeks ago and on Monday rolled out a Web site,, to lay out its case against him. The group has questioned Hagel’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state and accused him of being soft on Iran.
White House officials, meanwhile, have begun an aggressive push to introduce “the real Chuck Hagel,” recruiting high-profile endorsements and contacting potential critics in an effort to neutralize opposition. For the first time since his name was floated, “the White House is putting its full muscle” behind Hagel, said a person familiar with the process.
In the past week, fundraising has become a priority for both sides, introducing a new element of electoral-style politics into a realm that has seldom, if ever, seen it before.
A group of Hagel’s backers, led by Richard Burt, a senior diplomat in the Reagan administration, formed a nonprofit organization and solicited contributions from donors active in foreign policy and defense. Burt said the aim was to prepare a public response to what they said was unfair criticism and make sure “Hagel was not whittled down” before he was nominated. With President Obama officially naming Hagel on Monday and the White House bolstering its defense of the nominee, Burt said his group will refund the donations.
As Burt’s group was getting started, another organization, the Bipartisan Group, hired the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, to promote Hagel’s credentials.
The escalating campaigns come amid what has already been a flurry of published letters, op-eds, and print and broadcast advertisements.
Officials at the Emergency Committee for Israel said Monday that they are ramping up a substantial online ad campaign, buying Google keywords and placing ads on Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to their new anti-Hagel Web site. “Anyone concerned about Chuck Hagel is going to see what we have to contribute to this debate in the coming weeks,” said Noah Pollak, the group’s executive director.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights, purchased a full-page ad in Monday’s Washington Post recalling Hagel’s 1996 statement supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a statement he made in 1998 referring to an ambassadorial nominee as “openly, aggressively gay.” The ad notes Hagel’s recent regret for his past comments and labels the apology “Too little, too late.” Gregory T. Angelo, the group’s interim executive director, declined to say how much money the group raised for the anti-Hagel ad.
The battle lines are being drawn so sharply because of the high stakes on all sides.

Work it LinkedIn endorsements explained

The way we find jobs and pitch ourselves to prospective employers is changing rapidly, and LinkedIn is trying to help you stay ahead of the game. The “social network for professionals” recently introduced a new feature called Endorsements that, with a little help from your coworkers and close friends, can help you catch the eye of recruiters who are short on time but long on candidates.
Give a quick overview of your skills
Endorsing someone is a bit like tagging a photo on Flickr. Add just a few tags, er, skills, to your LinkedIn profile, and recruiters can find you more easily and get a quick overview of your areas of expertise. You can also meet other LinkedIn members with similar interests and get a better idea about related fields that you could branch into or specialize in.
Let yourself see more of the big picture
When you’re logged into, the Skills & Expertise menu (More > Skills & Expertise) at the top lets you search for skills to add to your profile. Type a few letters of an “area of expertise” into the search box, and LinkedIn will suggest matches and (ideally) more-specific terms. Click a suggestion to add it to your profile, and you’ll see a page that tells you more about the skill, related skills that you might want to focus on, geographical locations where related positions are especially common, and fellow LinkedIn members that you could reach out to.
Your skills appear on your profile, and the real magic commences after you add a few. When your coworkers and friends log in to LinkedIn, a big blue box at the top of the site will ask them to endorse you and confirm that you possess the skills you claim. Contacts can also visit your LinkedIn profile to see this box.
To endorse someone, simply click the relevant Endorse button. It requires much less of a time commitment than writing a LinkedIn Recommendation does—so it’s an easy way to obtain and display second opinions that back up your expertise.
Manage your endorsements
LinkedIn makes it easy to see who has endorsed you for what skill.
Did you receive an endorsement from a distant friend or a contentious former coworker that you’d rather not show on your public profile? Did someone add a skill to your profile that you're not comfortable with? You can hide rogue endorsements from your LinkedIn profile by editing it Scroll to the Skills & Expertise section, click the Edit button (it looks like a pencil), and then switch to the Manage Endorsements tab.
You can add a total of 50 skills to your profile, but only 10 can be displayed with endorsements, so choose wisely
Is it worth it?
You may be wondering whether doing any of this is worthwhile, even though touching up your profile doesn’t take much time. Anecdotally, I can tell you that I’ve been recruited three times on the basis of my LinkedIn profile, by reputable companies with great offers.
On a broader scale,recruiters have long looked at written LinkedIn Recommendations and the people who wrote them, but the Endorsements feature is only a few months old. The job market is intensely competitive, and this simple way to offer a possible employer a quick overview of your potential value could give you an edge over candidates who require recruiters to read all 1000 words of their profile.

A.J. McCarron brought an entire bagful of shoes with him to Miami

The stereotype of the pretty boy quarterback probably started with Joe Namath. If it didn't start there, Namath surely perfected it.
So it's fitting that the current Alabama quarterback is following in Namath's fashion footsteps.
While A.J. McCarron isn't going to be wearing a fur coat on the sideline, he likes to look fashionable (and we're not making fun of him for it, considering he's got the whole "dating Miss Alabama" thing going on). That is why he brought a whole bagful of shoes with him to the BCS Championship Game.
How many shoes in the bag? He says there are 30 pairs.

Now, why would McCarron need to bring 30 pairs of shoes with him for a six-day stay in Miami?
 figure you can wear the same outfit, change the shoes and it looks like a totally different outfit," McCarron said.
McCarron is famous for his collection of bow ties, wears enough hair gel to double as his helmet and has a wicked chest tattoo, so the love for shoes shouldn't be a big surprise either. Like Deion Sanders says, "If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay* good." (* - we are not saying McCarron will be getting paid good while at Alabama, no matter how good he looks, feels or plays)
"I've got a lot of shoes I've been that way ever since I was little," McCarron said.

Who is ‘Notre Dame’?

The University of Notre Dame takes on Alabama Monday night in the BCS national championship game, but when cheering fans shout “Go Notre Dame!” from the stadium bleachers, what are they really saying?
When The Rev. Edward Sorin of the French Congregation of Holy Cross founded the university in 1842, he gave it the French name L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac, (In English: The University of Our Lady of the Lake).“I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady,” Sorin later said. So when fans root for Notre Dame, they are actually crying out “Our Lady,” a title referring to Mary, known to Catholics as the virgin mother of Jesus. The words of the university’s alma mater were written by a priest, and the song also honors Mary, saying “Notre Dame, our mother.” In addition to “Touchdown Jesus,” the university’s campus is famous for its golden domed-building upon which a statue of Mary stands.
“Prayers and hymns honoring the Blessed Virgin can be traced back as far as the third century, but the Middle Ages, especially the eleventh and twelfth centuries, were the period [of] increased reverence for Our Blessed Lady” writes author M.M. Miles in her book “Maiden and Mother.” Churches and other Catholics institutions have been named after her or dedicated to her honor for 1,600 years. Notre Dame joins thousands of other Catholic institutions today in being named after the Virgin Mary.
According to Catholic theology, Mary was conceived in her mother Anne’s womb without original sin (called the “Immaculate Conception”), and never physically consummated her marriage to Joseph, Jesus’s adoptive, earthly father, making her a “perpetual virgin.” Because she is seen as fully human, Catholics are often implored to live Mary’s example of obedience to God and selfless devotion to Jesus (who is considered both God and man.) She’s been called “the first disciple.”
To Catholics, the presence of the Virgin Mary is often seen as a sign of hope in places or times of distress. There are historical examples, many still venerated today, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Fatima, and those of the present day, such as the statue of the Virgin Mary that survived the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, NY.
What does the virgin mother of God have to do with crushing skulls on the football field? Plenty, if you read Kevin Helliker’s piece in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.
The University of Notre Dame and its football team have blended ancient Catholic traditions with purely Fighting Irish ones, from attending Mass before games to pre-game prayers of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
No, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend Notre Dame, but 83 percent of its student body is. While Helliker reported that “most players on the Notre Dame squad aren’t Catholic,” that has not stopped most of them from embracing the school’s longtime religious traditions.
Gerome Sapp, the captain of the 2002 squad, according to Helliker’s reporting, “had no qualms about leading the team in the Hail Mary, a prayer utterly alien to his Southern Baptist upbringing.” Sapp told Helliker “[the Hail Mary] prayer was just one tradition in a school rich with tradition.”
For others, it’s a tradition too far: “The distance between popular evangelicalism and popular Roman Catholicism is never more apparent than when doctrines and devotional practices about Mary arise,” said the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Explains Mohler: “Evangelical Christians honor Mary as she is rightly honored in Scripture. . . But evangelicals do not find any biblical basis for claims that Mary holds a continuing functional role in salvation or the Christian life.”
Notre Dame also has its critics within the church. Post writer and ND alum Melinda Henneberger says she won’t be cheering for her alma mater because she believes the university responded deeply inadequately to allegations of sexual assault and rape against two players. Michael Leahy, writing for Outlook, said that Notre Dame reflects many of the issues that Catholics have with their church at large --from prohibitions on contraception to not tolerating dissent. On the other end of the spectrum from Leahy is the Cardinal Newman Society, which has often criticized Notre Dame as not Catholic enough for acts like its invitation and honorary degree to President Obama in 2009.
The university named after the Virgin Mary has served not only as a home for storied sports teams facing off on the football field, but has also been, like the church itself, home of many battles over how to keep the faith.