Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where's the Cobra?

Earlier this week, the renowned bronx zoo mysteriously lost it's prized and deadly Egyptian Cobra. This specific loss is of significant importance because of the snake's deadly venom, which can reportedly kill a human within 15 minutes of a bite. While the Bronx zoo is clearly clambering to find it's missing 20 inch cobra, many New Yorkers have taken the comedic approach to the disappearance. The creation of a fictional twitter for the snake has garnered national media attention. The anonymous tweeter has been sending out comical updates about the snake's supposed journey through out New York City. The twitter has ever grabbed the attention of NYC mayor Bloomberg who recently tweeted "Today President Obama and I toured NYC's Museum of Natural History. We saw a 94 foot whale, but not @BronxZoosCobra" While the last month has produced headlines of deadly disasters and images of violent war, the light-heartedness of the missing Cobra story has brought an ease to the tensions of American media over the past several weeks. However, it is still important to understand that the missing snake is deadly and out of it's element, so those in the vicinity of the Bronx Zoo should keep a close eye out!As of today, the Cobra has still not been found, and so the reptile house at the Bronx zoo remains closed. Zoo officials have been confident that they would find the reptile within zoo grounds, however, as days pass that likelihood seems less and less. The loss of such a dangerous animal raises some speculation on how safe the Bronx Zoo truly is, and how responsible the keepers are about maintaining both the animal's and patron's safety.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Al Jazeera

Several weeks ago U.S. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton undertook heavy scrutiny from republicans and U.S. news sources after endorsing the Arab news outlet Al Jazeera. Clinton argued that the United States was falling short of providing the news that other foreign media outlets were capable of, specifically Al Jazeera.“Al Jazeera has been the leader in that are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective,” Clinton said in a congressional state department address last week. She continued to explain that Al Jazeera has started to gain popularity in the United States because it reports 'real news'. Clinton points out that while Americans deal with biased agenda pushing media sources like Fox or CNN, Al Jazeera reports internationally, with no political affiliation or outside influence. Furthermore, while American media interrupts important news with unnecessary commercial breaks and shows which portray "talking heads" Al Jazeera is finding ways to report in depth about situations across the globe. While Americans may be reluctant to accept the fact that an Arabic news source is the best outlet for uncovering true facts, the reality is undeniable. The United States has fallen behind in the true reporting aspect of the news. Al Jazeera and media networks such as BBC are breaking the international news quickly, more effectively, and without bias. While many republicans took Secretary Clinton's remarks as Anti-American, the fact remains that viewership of Al Jazeera online, and the utilization of their news website has gone up significantly in the United States. Al Jazeera is the primary news source for many areas of the world, having reporting offices through out the middle east, Asia, Africa, Russia, India, etc. Al Jazeera has even over taken BBC as the primary news source in Israel, a state which has been at odds with the Arab world for centuries. While Glenn Beck called Hillary Clinton's comments "insanity" he did to provide any support that she was wrong in his cynical and scornful comments on her remarks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Lockout

Many avid sports fans have been toughing it out the last several weeks as the NFL players Union negotiates a new collective bargaining agreement with the owners association. With these negotiations comes the looming possibility of a lockout, and the fear that as of September there will be no football to be played. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was set to expire yesterday, March 4, however, the player's union and the owners recently agreed to a seven day extension in attempt to further negotiate the new CBA. The players and owners are in disagreement on several major issues pertaining to the new agreement. First the players are opposed to a new schedule which would endow a new 18 game regular season, a season in which many players are not happy about. Players believe that increasing the season to 18 games increases the risk of player injury. This all comes after a season filled with fines in the name of protecting the safety of athletes. The players also feel as if the owners are boxing them out of their fair share of monetary rights from television sponsors. The issue of how the NFL should divide up it's 9 Billion dollar revenue has become the main focus of the CBA negotiations. While most believe that the lock out is a serious possibility, there are those skeptics who say it's all a sham. Buzz Bissinger, a noted NFL writer and analyst believes that the NFL is pumping the possibility of a lockout to increase the NFL's ratings. Bissinger thinks that the actuality of a lockout would be devastating for the NFL, and crippling for the sporting industry. Whether or not there will be an NFL season this coming September is unseen; the negotiations continue almost non stop in attempt to avoid a lockout. It is important to note that the NBA's collective bargaining agreement is also set to expire following this season, which could lead to another whirlwind battle between owners of NBA teams and the NBA players union. It's hard to believe that in today's world there's an actual possibility that there will not be professional football or basketball next season. It is because of owners and players alike, haggling between millions and billions that the entire world hopes in angst that they will be able to see their favorite teams on the field (or court) come fall.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watson's Wits

This past week on America's favorite trivia game Jeopardy, IBM introduced their newest computer innovation, Watson. This super computer is the first of it's kind, and is no ordinary computing machine. For three days Watson competed against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two of Jeopardy's greatest champions in a battle of human intellect versus human innovation. Watson is the first computer designed with enough depth and intelligence with the ability to answer specific question based on the knowledge of word association. Watson has the uncanny ability to answer and analyze questions with specific meanings (like those on the game show jeopardy) in a timely and correct fashion. Watson has no connection to the internet or outside resources and relies heavily on a vast bank of words and phrases he can use to piece together specific answers. While he did stumble, Watson did not fail to impress, answering the first 10 of 12 questions right on his second appearance. Even perhaps the greatest Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings  was no match for Watson's intellect. While he and Brad Rutter gave Watson a run for his money on night 3, Watson still dominated the two humans in the three night showdown. While Ken Jennings commends those at IBM for the feat, his frustration during the game show was obvious; I'm sure it can't be easy being one of the smartest men on the planet and being out done by a machine. While his wits are Jeopardy impressive, IBMers hope that Watson's purpose goes far beyond the scope of trivia entertainment. IBM experts hope they can use Watson's technology to solve 'real world' problems and do so with a speed that no man or computer has ever been able to do it. Watson instantly accesses a massive IBM database of human knowledge that he uses to rapidly locate the best possible answer for specific questions; his knowledge is not internet based, but based upon a cognitive ability to deduce an answer from key words and clues. Though Watson experienced some glitches, such as confusion and it's inability to recognize certain scenarios of the Jeopardy game state, his overall success brings to light the pure brilliance of human innovation and the incredible science of technology. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carmelo Anthony Trade talks

Over the past two months, the NBA has been swarming with rumors of a block buster trade that could send Denver Nuggets Superstar Carmelo Anthony  to a number of different NBA teams before the NBA's February 24th trade deadline. For the past sixty days trade talks have intensified between teams like The New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks and the Nuggets involving Anthony. The Nets reportedly had the edge, coming close to a deal in mid January. However Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov eventually reneged on the negations citing that his team was no longer vying for interest in Carmelo. Going into February it seemed as if the prospect of moving Carmelo mid season was becoming a pipe dream. Anthony has played his entire season in Denver having moderate team success, but incredible personal success. Anthony has the option of opting out of the last year of his contract after this season with Denver; making him ore valuable in a trade now for the franchise. A former Syracuse Orange and a New York native, Carmelo has made it clear that he would love to play in New York(Or Brooklyn IE The Nets) but the choice is not as cut and dry as it may seem. While he has said he wants to play in New York, the options are still open for the superstar who could still opt to stay in Denver for the remainder of this season. While the trade rumors have caused controversy through out the league, it has not affected Carmelo's performance on the court. Last week he scored 50 points and recorded 11 rebounds, one of his best performances of the season. The roller coaster that is the trading block in the NBA has been anything but calm over the past several weeks. While trade talks have heated up again with the Knicks, another wild card has thrown it's hat into the ring. Defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers have entered into trade talks with the Denver Nuggets in attempt to acquire Carmelo. To most basketball fans this is a shocking rumor due to the sheer magnitude of it's affect. The Laker's who already obtain the NBA's best player in Kobe Bryant, are looking to structure a deal around big-man sensation, but injury prone center Andrew Bynum. On the surface the trade seems farfetched because The Lakers would have to figure out how to sign Carmelo to a big time deal while staying under the 58 million dollar NBA salary cap. With big names like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and others, this will be no easy task for the Lakers organization. The difficulty does not make it impossible or even improbable. The champs have struggled as of late and could use the spark of a player like Carmelo on their team. They will need the strength entering the playoffs, poised to face off against some power house eastern conference teams like the Heat or the Celtics in the NBA finals this season. Anthony's aspirations to play in New York may quite possibly be over powered by the sheer attractiveness of winning an NBA title this season, playing with one of the greatest players in NBA history. Whether Carmelo Anthony goes to New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, or stays in Denver, his decision will have a major impact through out the NBA. Regardless of the out come, the events which will take place within the NBA between now and February 24th are sure to be exciting.