Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do Earnings at FICO Matter? (NYSE: FICO)

Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE: FICO) provides analytic software and data management services intended to help reduce losses from fraud and other risks. The company reports earnings on Wednesday and is preparing to earn $0.41 per share on revenue of $151 million.

To Read Edwards' full report, click here.

Is BP still in a Bad Position? (NYSE: BP) (NYSE: HAL)

The fate of BP still lies in the hands of the government as questions still loom about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Earnings for the oil giant are set to come in at $1.51 when it reports on Tuesday. Revenue is expected to be $72.46 billion for the quarter.

Halliburton has been blaming BP for the disaster, but recently some of the blame was shifted to HAL in a report saying that the cement used in the well in the Gulf was unstable. HAL fired back with a report saying that the results from the cement test were positive.

Sonus Sets To Break Even (NASDAQ: SONS)

Sonus Networks provides IP (Internet Protocol) infrastructure in countries all over the world. Sonus offers voice, video, and data services and solutions for wireless and wired networks. The company is due to report $0.00 in earnings on revenue of $58.16 million.

The company should benefit from an increase in spending for Internet infrastructure, as more and more users switch to mobile devices increasing the need for bandwidth.

To read the full report, click here.

What's next for Cognex (NASDAQ: CGNX)

Cognex, a maker of machine vision products used for manufacturing and automating tasks, reports earnings this week. The company will deliver its report on Monday, expecting to earn $0.33 per share on revenue of $75.41 million. The company is a serial beater of earnings. The stock closed at $26.70 on Friday and continues to break new barriers with its stock price.

The Play's The Thing (NASDAQ RIMM) (TSE: RIM)

Research In Motion was downgraded earlier this week at Oppenheimer from Outperform to Perform. The rating firm cited M&A probability as not being likely.

However, Research In Motion has been on a tear lately, as the stock has shown bullish momentum, and has continued to rise sharply over the past week.

Demos of the company's new PlayBook tablet device sparked interest among investors. The products new capabilities such as device pairing, and full Flash support are turning heads in the business world. The new device is aimed at corporations who wish to increase employee productivity by enabling them with the high powered tablet.

The PlayBook boasts a 1GHz dual core processor, two HD cameras (3 MegaPixel front facing and 5 MegaPixel rear facing), Wi-Fi compatibility, and a host of other features. RIM intends to offer 3G and 4G models in the future. The device is set for release sometime in Q1 of 2011.

Ceragon Makes The Connection (NASDAQ: CRNT)

Ceragon Networks was upgraded by Oppenheimer from Perform to Outperform today causing the stock to spike almost 8% on the news. the rating firm cited string earnings and order for 4G equipment from Verizon that hinted the trend would continue. Ceragon provides wireless backhaul solutions that enable service providers to deliver high quality data services on their networks.

Ceragon is currently trades at $11.06 - above its key moving averages. the company has hot a 52-week high of $13.29.

The networking company recently reported earnings of $0.13 per share, beating analyst estimates of 12 cents per share. The company reported revenue of $62.2 million.

Football: Updated VivaLoudoun Scoring Chart

(Oct. 21, 2010) - The VivaLoudoun football scoring chart, sponsored by Cheers Sports, has been updated through Friday's games:
Scroll down to see all players or open full chart

Obama Campaigns for Sestak, Onorato

President Obama is warning Pennsylvania Democrats their party could lose Tuesday, if voters don’t amp up their energy over the coming days.
Speaking for less than ten minutes to a crowd of about 16-hundred people in Philadelphia Saturday, Mr. Obama urged Democrats to knock on doors and make phone calls between now and Election Day.

"The key right now is not just to show up here. It’s not just to listen to speeches. It’s to go out there and do the hard work that’s going to be required to bring this home over the last few days."

But interviews with attendees, Joatta Glover, Jamie Papas and George Scott, revealed a wide gap, when it comes to support for the president, compared to enthusiasm for Tuesday’s Senate, gubernatorial and Congressional elections.

"I want Joe – what’s his name? Joe Sec…sec…Sestak? Sestak. Yeah I want him to win.
I’m going to sound bad – I didn’t register. I went to the day it was due – my mom yelled at me – but I just didn’t get do.
Governor – what’s his name? Dan Onorato? I can’t pronounce it."

Top Democrats say big turnout in Philadelphia and its suburbs is key, if the party wants to win.

Yankees have bona fide boondoggle with parking price increase

Think parking is too expensive now at Yankee Stadium? You ain't seen nothing yet. The parking garages closest to the ballpark are planning on raising their rates next season from $23 to $35! This is to close a budget shortfall due in part to...wait for it...not enough fans using the parking garages. Yes, because the easiest way to get more people to use the parking is to jack up the prices!

New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez has the scoop:
Even at those rates, the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.

Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.
I haven't driven to a game at the Stadium in years, because it makes no economic sense for me personally. I can take the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan and pay $4.50 round trip on the subway, or I can drive in, battle tons of traffic, and spend money on gas, bridge tolls, and parking, with current expenses coming in at around $35 or so. Not exactly a tough decision. Now, if I lived much further away, with no public transportation options, I would have to drive. But for fans who live closer, using public transportation makes the most economic sense.

Apparently, building these parking garages cost hundreds of millions of dollars:
The firm, which is independent of the Yankees, is a three-year-old subsidiary of a little-known Hudson County nonprofit, Community Initiatives Development Corp.

The city Economic Development Corp. selected Bronx Parking to build and run the parking system. In addition to getting the right to raise $237 million with tax-free bonds, the firm received $100 million from the city and state for the project. This generosity despite the fact that its parent firm had defaulted on two previous tax-exempt industrial development bonds in upstate New York.
Given how much parking costs at Yankee Stadium, most fans are either 1) taking public transportation to and from the game, or 2) parking at lots further away from the Stadium that cost significantly less money, like at the Gateway Shopping Center.The article says that the Stadium lots are operating at around 60% capacity. Not exactly a shock.

And raising the rates will only discourage people from using the garages. I mean, really, how does this make any logical sense? What's next -- forcing people to drive and park instead of taking public transportation?

I also want to know why it costs so much money to build these parking garages. Is that typical?

I don't know the answer to that. But I do know what the Texas Rangers charge to park in their lots -- $10. And this in an area where most people drive to the games. And get this -- unlike Yankee Stadium, where the parking garages charged $40 for playoff games, the Rangers even charged the same rate for the ALCS as they did in the regular season! Imagine that!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Indie-credible: Film festival brings a wealth of indie talent to Cornwall

Emma Farley casts her eye over the latest happenings from the indie movie scene...

Living in Cornwall and being an indie fan isn’t an easy task. Very few independent films make their way down to my neck of the woods, which is why I am proud to be on the committee of the Penwith Film Society (I have a say in the films that are shown in my cinema) and why I am grateful for the Cornwall Film Festival. For once, the new indie releases will be shown on time pretty close to home. I have been crazy busy this week with preparations for the festival and trying to balance it with the day job so this week’s indie-credible is just a shout out about the indie releases you need to check out in the next week. And please, show some love for your own local film festival and tell me what’s so awesome about it in the comments section.

Cornwall Film Festival
New releases:

In cinemas now – Let Me In, Another Year, Mammoth

Three awesome indie films are opening in cinemas this week; two of which will be playing in my area courtesy of the Cornwall Film Festival next week. Let Me In has surprised me with its popularity, both with audiences and critics. I’m usually against Hollywood remakes of successful foreign films but Matt Reeves’ vampire flick has enough of an indie edge make me give it the benefit of the doubt. For those of you not in the know, it is adapted from the Swedish novel Let the Right One In and is about a boy who is bullied and finds a friend in a girl who just happens to be a vampire. Of course, there’s a helluva lot more to it than that.
“Horror film, serial killer drama, revenge fantasy, or coming-of-age romance, Let Me In succeeds whichever way you want to look at it.” - Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy
Let Me In
Another Year, Mike Leigh’s latest dramedy, stars Jim Broadbent, Leslie Manville and Ruth Sheen in a film about love, relationships and friendships. The film follows an old married couple throughout one year in their life and the people who come and go. In an era where British cinemas are dominated by Hollywood blockbusters, it’s reassuring to know that filmmakers like Leigh can still make an impact.
“Makes you appreciate that there are still a few people out there for whom film is still a worthy artistic expression.” - Laremy Legel,
Another Year
Lukas Moodysson’s art house film Mammoth features indie darling Michelle Williams and world cinema favourite Gael Garcia Bernal as a married couple who are dealing with a long distance relationship while the husband is working in Thailand.
“A remarkably subtle exploration of family in a time of capitalism.” - Christopher Null,
Out on DVD Monday 25th October – Moulin Rouge (BD), Romeo + Juliet (BD)

The DVD highlights for me this week are the Blu-ray editions of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet. There are few films as well written, beautifully shot and passionately acted as these, and they feature some pretty incredible on-screen couples. My DVD buying habits have been a bit excessive lately so I’ve had to resort to putting these on the old Christmas list.

I hate having to wait

Romeo + Juliet
Emma Farley a.k.a. filmgeek

Movies... For Free! House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Showcasing classic movies that have fallen out of copyright and are available freely from the public domain (with streaming video!)...

House on Haunted Hill
House on Haunted Hill, 1959.

Directed by William Castle.
Starring Vincent Price, Carolyn Craig, Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal and Julie Mitchum.

A low-budget b-movie horror from 1959, William Castle's House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren, who invites five random strangers to attend a party for his fourth wife Annabelle (Carolyn Craig). Loren then offers them a proposal: to spend a night in his haunted mansion - the location of a series of brutal murders - in return for $10,000 each, payable upon their survival. Warning the guests that their host is psychotic, Annabelle soon commits suicide and the strangers begin to experience a series of macabre events with no means of escape from the terror...

Director Castle employed a unique promotional gimmick known as 'Emergo' during the film's original theatrical run, which utilised a pulley system to frighten the audience by dragging a plastic skeleton above their heads. House on Haunted Hill proved to be a huge financial success and prompted Alfred Hitchcock to develop a low-budget horror of his own, resulting in the 1960 classic Psycho, while it was also the subject of a remake in 1999 starring Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen.

Embed courtesy of Internet Archive.

Click here to view all entries in our Movies... For Free! collection.

Montpellie vs PSG Soccer Match

A very interesting match in the championship of France, a very balanced match between odua teams in the top two teams close to going very well in the championship.

Started the championship very well and I think it will leave you with a nice game considering that both teams will looking for all three points and could climb clasament.

Gazdele seriously busy at the moment the position in June, is a team that last year made a very good season and I think this year will make it a beautiful performance since it is I care very well so far in the other PSG clasament.

De ranks 7th in the rankings, and they started the season pretty well and I think this trip will come after all three points but I'm sure they will not be easy

Artist Day at work?!?

I had to miss artist night on Tuesday this week because of various things going on in my life. I'm actually considering putting it on hold for the month of November because there is so much going on. I really enjoy it though, and it does give me a break from my normal routine. I also have some fun artist activities planned. For example, the 8-bit Mike project is coming up, and I am very excited for that.

This week's activity was a little unusual because it was related to work. You see, I used to really enjoy programming and I would stay up late at night to work on various projects. I haven't been able to do that very much lately. I have a lot of interruptions at work and I find that I can't handle the context switches very well. I've found it does take me about half an hour to really get back to something I was working on after an interruption. I would say I get interrupted at least every half hour when I'm at work. Obviously, there is a productivity issue there.

The other interesting thing that's been happening lately is that my eyes get really tired. I think it's from using the 30" cinema display I have at work. But I've found I can't look at computer screens very much after going home after work.

So for artist day this week I did something that should be normal but has not been typical for me in the last few months. On Saturday, I put my headphones on, closed my email and IM programs, and just did some of the programming that I needed to do for work.

I was surprised how much I could get done without all the distractions. It was actually really fun too. It helped me remember what I really like about programming and why I majored in computer science.

There are some artistic aspects to developing software. There is art behind the code itself that is difficult to describe to someone who doesn't program. However, when you see well-written code it can be refreshing - like looking at a piece of art. Also, when you finally run your program and everything works like it should there is a great feeling like you've created something and it is good. I think developing can be beautiful. My employees would attest to this - my favorite question to ask them when they tell me they've completed their projects is "Is it pretty?". I love it when it is.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ohio Gov Tight

The Ohio Governor's race is looking like it could go either way three days out from the election. Ted Strickland has made a huge comeback in the final months of the campaign and now trails John Kasich only 49-48. PPP's most recent previous poll, in late August, had found Strickland trailing by 10 points.

What Strickland has done over the last two months is bring the base home. He's now winning 87% of the Democratic vote, up from only 78% in the previous poll. Democrats also look like they'll now account for a larger share of the electorate, as the party's voters have increased their interest in turning out as the election has moved closer.

Even though Strickland has closed in the enthusiasm gap is still a significant issue for Democratic prospects in the state. Those saying they're likely to vote this year report having supported John McCain by 3 points in 2008, in contrast to Barack Obama's actual 4 point victory in the state last time. That suggests there are still a lot of Democratic voters in Ohio planning to sit at home this year- if the final electorate ends up being even just a point or two more Democratic than we're anticipating it could end up being enough to put Strickland over the top.

If Kasich does end up winning it will be because he, like most Republican candidates nationally and particularly in the Midwest, is cleaning up with independents. He has an 18 point lead with them at 56-38.

Even though he's made up a lot of ground in the last couple months Strickland remains a pretty unpopular Governor. Only 41% of voters say they approve of the job he's doing while 50% disapprove. Usually those kinds of numbers would pretty much guarantee a loss for an incumbent. But Ohio voters' attitude towards Kasich, as it has been throughout most of the cycle, is 'meh.' 43% of voters like him and 42% of voters don't. That's giving Strickland room to pick up support from some voters who aren't that enthralled with the job he's done.

While the Governor's race in Ohio is all the sudden looking very interesting the Senate race is headed for a blowout. Rob Portman leads Lee Fisher 57-39. There's no doubt Fisher has proven to be a pretty weak candidate but with Barack Obama's approval spread in the state at 38/55 it's pretty doubtful that any Democrat could have won a Senate election in Ohio this year.

And despite all the initial concern about his Washington baggage and ties to the Bush administration Portman proved to be a pretty strong candidate. 50% of voters rate him favorably to only 25% with an unfavorable opinion. The most remarkable number on the Senate race is Portman's 37 point advantage with independents, at 66/29.

Full results here

CT-Gov tightens up

There's been a huge movement in the Connecticut Governor's race over the last month and the race is now a toss up, with Republican Tom Foley inching ahead of Democrat Dan Malloy by a 49-47 margin after trailing 50-40 in early October.

A look inside the numbers makes it clear that attacks on Malloy, rather than an increase in voter affection toward Foley, are what has made this race so competitive in the final days. A month ago Foley's favorability rating was 41/40 and now it's almost identical at 41/38. Voters aren't really warming up to him. But Malloy's numbers have seen a precipitous drop. At the beginning of the month he posted a stellar 50/29 favorability spread and that's gone all the way down now to 39/40, a 22 point decline on the margin in just four weeks time.

Foley has built a dominant lead with independent voters at 58-33, even as they simultaneously split almost even with their Senate votes. A lot of indys in Connecticut are clearly planning to vote a Blumenthal/Foley ticket. Foley's also seen a large increase in his crossover support, now taking 20% of Democrats compared to only 12% a month ago.

The race is still certainly close enough to go either way but we've been talking a lot recently about the formula for a Republican to win in a deep blue state: take independents by an overwhelming margin and get 20% of the Democratic vote. Foley's doing those two things and this is going to be a close one.

One thing that has to help Foley's prospects is that the state already has a Republican Governor it really likes. Jodi Rell's approval rating as she leaves office is a 55/31 spread, making her one of the most popular Governors in the country. Democratic leaning Connecticut voters know that they can be pretty content with a GOP Governor.

While the Governor's race is now looking pretty interesting, the Senate contest is not. Richard Blumenthal leads by a 54-43 margin. Republicans probably could have been competitive in this race. Blumenthal's net favorability is a +10 at 50/40. Those numbers don't exactly scream invincibility and they represent a 30 point drop on the margin from when his favorability was +40 at the beginning of January. Republicans were not, however, going to be competitive with Linda McMahon as their nominee. 52% of voters view her dimly while only 37% see her in a positive light.

Republicans can win a Senate race in a deep blue state with a strong candidate. They didn't have one in Connecticut. Blumenthal's final margin of victory is going to be smaller than most of his poll leads over the course of the year were but he's going to win just the same.

Full results here

Dayton slightly ahead

Mark Dayton is the slight favorite heading into the final three days of the Minnesota Governor's race but Tom Emmer's close enough that he could still come from behind to win. Dayton's getting 43% to 40% for Emmer and 15% for Tom Horner.

If Dayton does end up pulling out a narrow victory he may have Horner's presence in the race to thank for it. Horner's getting 11% of the Republican vote but only 8% of the Democrats, indicating he's a slightly greater threat to Emmer's base than Dayton's. He's also getting 26% of independents which is holding Emmer to only a 3 point lead with them over Dayton, a much smaller margin than most GOP candidates across the Midwest are enjoying this year.

The Minnesota Gubernatorial race is somewhat emblematic of the unhappiness voters across the country are feeling with politicians this year. None of the three candidates has a net positive favorability rating. Horner comes closest at -1 (35/36), followed by Dayton at -2 (43/45), and Emmer at -14 (37/51).

Neither Dayton nor Emmer really has any crossover appeal. Only 6% of Democrats are planning to vote for Emmer and just 5% of Republicans are for Dayton. That makes the state of this race pretty easy to spell out. Minnesota's a Democratic state so if the Democratic candidate wins all the Democrats and the Republican candidate wins all the Republicans and the independents split pretty evenly the Democratic candidate's going to win. That's where the contest stands right now so Emmer will have to make up some ground in the final days if he's going to pull this one out.

One other interesting note on the Minnesota Governor's race is the impact that Pawlenty fatigue might be having on it. There are a lot of open Gubernatorial seats this year where the unpopularity of an outgoing Democratic Governor is making it hard for his party to hold onto the office, but Minnesota's a rare case where an unpopular outgoing Republican could be part of his party's problem. Only 43% of voters in the state approve of the job Pawlenty is doing to 50% who disapprove. And the state expresses little enthusiasm for a 2012 Pawlenty White House bid with only 23% supportive of the idea and 59% opposed to it. It's a close race and could go either way but Pawlenty fatigue might help put Dayton over the top.

Full results here

BK Prostejov vs USK Praha NBA Match

Today, 30 October 2010, the 6th stage of the first Czech basketball league, teams will meet and Prostejov USK Praha.

In this season, has four wins Prostejov (101-70 at home to Brno, from 1977 to 1971 with Decin, 98-71 and 88-65 with the Lok Svitavy. Plzen away) and one infragere (with Pardubice 85-87 home) while USK Praha has one victory (1987 to 1984 in Svitavy home) and four defeats (55-76 to 63-92 and the Pardubice home Decin, Decin and 79-108 to 71-82 on the road to Brno).

My forecast would be a handicap: USK Praha +35.5 points. In the last three seasons, the two teams have met 15 times in the Prostejov was imposed 12 times, and USK Praha won three parties: the 2007/2008 season, each team earned their parties on the ground own Prostejov with 88-65 (23 points difference) and 90-74 (16 point difference) and the 81-80 and 84-77 USK Praha, in the 2008/2009 season, won 89-77 Prostejov (12 points difference) and 80-69 (11 point difference), both at home, and 85-83 after extra time in travel, while USK Praha won 77-73 at home, in 2009/2010, the two teams have met seven times, four times in the regular season and three times in the playoffs, all seven victories coming back to them with those of Prostejov 74-57 (17 point difference), 75-50 (25 points difference), 95-55 (40 point difference) and 89-70 (19 point difference) at home, 89-55 (34 point difference), 94-62 (32 points difference) and 80-59 ( 31 points difference) away.

As can be seen in the last 15 meetings direct Prostejov defeated only once in a difference of more than 35.5 points, as is the limit imposed by bookmakers today

Football: Broad Run 52, Potomac falls 24

(Oct. 30, 2010) - Derrill Thomas rushed for three touchdowns and Mitchell Nicholas returned an interception for a score and ran one in as the Spartans blew past Potomac Falls Friday, 52-24.

Broad Run led 27-0 at the half but Potomac Falls should spirit with sophomore quarterback John Fischetti throwing for 366 yards in the contest including two scores to Nich Fernandez, who had 214 yards

Football: Wiley Rushes for 266 Yards to Lead Vikes Past Pride on Senior Night

Kevin Wiley rushed for 3 TDs and 266 yards to lead Vikes to Victory
(All photos courtesy of Carl Lukat/Loudoun Times-Mirror)

By Carl Lukat
Loudoun Times-Mirror Sports Editor

Purcellville (Oct. 29, 201) - It was only fitting that a senior would steal the show in Loudoun Valley's 49-21 home victory over Heritage Oct. 29, considering the Vikings honored their senior class prior to the game.

Mixed Verdict for G20 Protester from NYC

A G20 protester has been acquitted of aggravated assault but convicted on 2 lesser counts in connection with a clash with police September 24, 2009 in Pittsburgh.
An Allegheny County jury found 28 year old Allen Weber of New York City guilty of disorderly conduct and obstruction of highways. The jury was deadlocked on a charge of propulsion of a missile into an occupied vehicle.
Police say Weber refused an order to disperse during a protest in Oakland and an officer in a SWAT truck tossed a smoke grenade to get protesters to leave. Police say Weber picked up the grenade and threw it back at the officer.

Razing of Braddock Hospital Okayed

Allegheny County Judge Lawrence O'Toole has signed off on the demolition of UPMC Braddock Hospital and the transfer of the property to the county Redevelopment Authority. Seven Braddock residents filed a lawsuit to stop the razing of the closed hospital, claiming UPMC violated their civil rights and the health system failed to adhere to laws that govern nonprofits.
Judge O'Toole ruled that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge the demolition. A UPMC spokesman says the razing of the main hospital building could begin Monday.
The state is providing $3 million for a new facility that will house a health services clinic, a community college center, a restaurant, and additional housing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

More Thoughts on... The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network, 2010.

Directed by David Fincher.
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer and Max Minghella.


A biopic on Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of popular social networking site Facebook.

“Who on earth would want to make a film about Facebook?” was my first remark upon hearing the popular social networking site was having its story told on the big screen. My thinking was that a group of geeks and nerds masturbating over their motherboards and electronic code with the eventual goal of creating something that people could use to let their friends know they have fed their cat and are now eating hobnobs seemed absolutely shite. Even when I saw the trailer and it’s slick production value I couldn’t have cared less. That is until I saw one name – David Fincher. “It’s made by Fincher?” I exclaimed. “Shit! I’m going to have to watch this.”

I must confess that I am a massive fan of Mr. Fincher. Fight Club is a film that blew my mind as 16 year old as it was so clever, dark and the twist was one that I could never see coming in a million years. I was mesmerized by the story and the method by which it was told, so for that reason it is one DVD that will never gather dust on my shelf. The Game and Seven are also two fantastic films that captured my imagination and, more recently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button moved me to the verge of tears. So… I had to see The Social Network.

The Social Network is the story of Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, as he takes the idea of an electronic social network from a seed through to its one-millionth member. Throughout the film we cut back and forth between the two legal battles being fought against Zuckerberg by his former best friend and first investor, Eduardo, and the three guys who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea. How closely based it is upon Zuckerberg’s real story is unsure since the world’s youngest billionaire has distanced himself from the project, but it doesn’t matter. The film is brilliant. Despite the cutting back and forth between two lawsuits that consist of Zuckerberg sat wearing socks and sandals at a table with several lawyers constantly arguing, the film never slows.

I was engaged right from the very start when Zuckerberg’s rude, ignorant and condescending conversation with his girlfriend leads to her breaking up with him. I was still engaged come the very end when Facebook achieved it’s one-millionth member and Zuckerberg had managed to alienate every single friend he ever had. There’s something about Fincher’s slick and slightly dark style of directing that keeps me enthralled in all of his films. This is no different. The Social Network really is a slick film and whispers in Hollywood are suggesting possible Oscar nominations.

Acknowledgement must go to Aaron Sorkin’s script as it ticks along nicely and gives you enough time with Zuckerberg to see his loneliness and resentment for others without spending too long watching him sat on his own. Zuckerberg’s clever wit flows beautifully despite the sheer number of immensely complicated words he strings into his clever sentences.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg exactly as I would expect a billionaire computer nerd to act and he gives a great portrayal of a kid who has absolutely no social skills. The harder he tries to make friends, the less he has. It must be said that this film could well have been a bore-fest with any other combination of filmmakers, but Sorkin and Fincher have nailed it with the help of Eisenberg.

The Social Network is a story of success, friendship and how one will ruin the other. To be successful Zuckerberg must forsake his one true friend Eduardo and despite the website hitting its one-millionth member the loneliness felt by Zuckerberg is so brilliantly subtle and so very tragic. I could easily watch The Social Network again immediately.

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D.J. Haza

Movie Review Archive

Needs More Power (NASDAQ: PWER)

Power-One, Inc. (NASDAQ:PWER) announced recently that the company had earned $0.40 per share while analysts were expected $0.23. The share price fluctuated greatly throughout the trading day on Friday, reaching a high of $12.93 and a low of $10.20. The stock closed down 6% to finish at $10.42 on higher than usual volume.

Is MIPS a Good Judge of Speed? (NASDAQ: MIPS)

MIPS Technologies was up sharply today hitting a fresh 52-week high. The stock rose 5.83% after Mad Money's Jim Cramer interviewed the CEO on his show. The company specializes in processor architectures that can be found in common digital household items. Jim highly recommended the stock to his viewers.

MIPS closed at $14.70 today hitting an intra-day 52-week high of $14.96.

Football: Stone Bridge Mauls McLean, 38-0, in Match-up of 8-0 Teams

By Dan Sousa
VivaLoudoun Editor

(Oct. 29, 2010) - The Stone Bridge High School football team played a nearly flawless first half Friday as the Bulldogs mauled McLean for 38 points before the break in a match-up of teams with 8-0 records. With Marcus Harris rushing for three scores and 124 of his 161 yards, Stone Bridge left no doubt as to the top team in the Liberty District as well as Division

Wall Street Star Of The Day (NASDAQ: CSTR) (NASDAQ: NFLX)

Coinstar Inc. jumped 24.47% on Friday as earnings beat Wall Street analyst expectations by 20%. Q3 profit fell sharply to $0.60 but still beat expectations of $0.50. Revenue was recorded as being $320 million. Coinstar owns self-operated coin machines and offers DVD services. The company competes with the likes of Netflix, a company that offers DVD services as well as online streaming services.

Open The Pod Bay Doors HAL (NYSE: HAL) (NYSE: BP)

Halliburton is being investigated by a government panel that claims the oil services company may have played a role in the deep water platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton is said to have supplied cement to BP, that the company knew was unstable, for the purposes of sealing the well.

HAL came out with a 6-page statement however, citing that the results from the cement test were positive. Halliburton, which has been blaming BP for the disaster, did admit that there was no stability test done on the cement on the well which blew out on April 20th killing 11 workers.

Halliburton shares were up 0.57% on Friday after trading almost 8% lower on the Thursday.

A Monster Quarter (NYSE:MWW)

Monster Worldwide, which offers online employment solutions to users online, reported a sharp increase in quarterly earnings. Shares were up 25.50% on string revenue beating analyst estimates. Adjusted earnings came in at $0.02 per share, doubling analyst predictions of $0.01. Revenue was $228.8 million compared to the estimates of $226.5 million. Citigroup raised their target rating on Monster to buy after the announcement.

Monster helps to connect employers with job seekers by providing personalized career advice to consumers globally.

Football: Friday Night Scoreboard

VivaLoudoun Friday Night Scoreboard
Broad Run 52, Potomac Falls 24
The Skinny: Spartans, with bye next week, finish regular season with 9-1 record, giving the school an overall 39-1 regular-season mark in the last four years
Dominion 24, Park View 21
The Skinny: Titans should clinch the school's first ever playoff bid with this big win as Trey Baxter hooks up with Sammy Coleman for two TD passes.

Football: Dominion 24, Park View 21

(Oct. 29, 2010) - The Dominion High School football team most likely clinched the school's first ever playoff bid with this big win Friday at Park View. Trey Baxter hooked up with Sammy Coleman for two TD throws, including one that was set up by a 70-yard Baxter run as the Titans erased a 14-7 third quarter deficit with 17 straight points.

Dominion (4-5, 2-1) 0 7 7 10

Football: Loudoun County 12, Freedom 0

South Riding (Oct. 29, 2010) - Loudoun County High School's defense turned six sacks into a shutout as sophomore Jake Lokey threw for 132 yards and ran in the game's only touchdown in the Raiders 12-0 Dulles District win at Freedom Friday night.

The Eagles, without starting quarterack Matt Malacane, who went out injured in last week's win at Potomac Falls, were held to 122 total yards.


4th of July, Citi Field (Sandy)

The best parts of Sandy Alderson's introduction as new Mets GM came after the televised press conference. Adam Rubin's list of talking points from the media's subsequent conversations with Alderson and the Wilpons has some great news regarding both eating contracts and the slotting system for the draft.

- Releasing players with guaranteed contracts. (Obviously, the reference was to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.) Ownership expressed a willingness to eat money.

"We sort of know who you're talking about," Jeff Wilpon said.


- Slotting system/draft. Major League Baseball recommends signing bonuses based on a prospect's draft position. The Mets try to be good MLB citizens and adhere to that system, but that appears as if it will change under Alderson and they will spend over the recommended amount to exploit the system, as other big-market clubs do.

The Yankees and Red Sox have better farm systems than the Mets because those clubs are willing to go over slot much more frequently. I wondered if Alderson would end up adhering to the slotting system because he has been working for Bud Selig and MLB. But Alderson spoke at length about developing homegrown talent, and if he's serious about that, the first thing he will do is put the Mets on equal footing with other big-market clubs.

Alderson also spoke of wanting to have a competitive team in 2011 rather than waiting until 2012, when tens of millions of dollars of payroll come off the books. If he's as serious about 2011 as he sounds, he won't have Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo on the roster.

I can't blame him if he has Ollie play winter ball in a last-ditch effort to establish some minimal value for him, since if Ollie gets cut, someone will pick him up just for his potential. But who is going to want Castillo, except maybe as a temporary fill-in if their second baseman is hurt? Alderson can make a nice splash right away by cutting Castillo now.

When I wrote the title of this piece, I was thinking not just of Springsteen, but of looking forward to a July Fourth when the Mets were once again in contention. Then I remembered that the Mets were in contention on July 4, 2010. They were 46-36, two games behind first-place Atlanta. They were three games ahead of the Phillies, though the Phillies had been besieged by injuries. The Mets were also 4 1/2 games in front of the 41-40 Giants, who are now halfway toward winning the World Series.

The Mets' collapse in the second half showed that they still have a ways to go. The one false note in Alderson's news conference was when he suggested that the Mets would have done better with another 800 at-bats from Jason Bay and others. If the Mets had several hundred more at-bats from the 2010 Bay, they might have done worse.

But the Mets' strong first half shows that there is a foundation to build on. Alderson seems like a guy who can find the spare pieces that winning teams like the Giants manage to obtain but generally eluded Omar Minaya.

After today, I'm not just looking forward to 2012, but 2011 as well, and a festive summer at Citi Field.

Will Sandy Alderson turn around the Mets? Tell us what you think.

West Penn Finalizes Job Cuts

The West Penn Allegheny Health System announced its final plans for the consolidation of the West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield today saying around 400 jobs would be cut as relocation of its services begins in January. An original estimate for jobs lost due to the consolidation announced in June was approximately 1,500 positions. The facility in Bloomfield will continue to offer outpatient services and outpatient surgery. But other areas, inluding emergency services will move to Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side. The emergency unit of the Bloomfield branch will close December 31. According to West Penn, 210 employees will accept other positions within the system, 65 employees will move to Allegheny General, 220 employees left through resignations, and 400 will lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation. West Penn spokesman Dan Laurent says West Penn's plan is to provide health care needs locally with an eye on future changes in health care reform, "We're focused on our system and what we need to do to become a more effective health care system for the people of this community." Laurent says they plan to develop more localized, community health care at a center it plans to built in Peters Township next year.

Study Finds "Natural Plastics" Not Very Green

University of Pittsburgh students performed a study on 12 kinds of plastics to determine how green their life-cycle is. Biopolymers, plastics derived from natural elements, were the most biodegradable, with low toxicity, and used the most renewable resources. But, because of the natural components that make up Biopolymers, fertilizers and pesticides used in creating the material for the plastics those components pollute more then other plastics during their production.

Eric Beckman, Professor of Chemical Engineering, says that when designing Biopolymers engineers worked to make them as green as possible, but when it came to production they missed the mark. He also says that the most surprising aspect of the research was that Polypropylene, a fossil fuel based plastic, tested well, polluting less during manufacturing.

Beckman says the main improvement the chemical industry can make after the study is using less material during plastic production. "If you look at the guidelines we give to people to be more environmentally benign we always say 'reduce, reuse, and recycle'...And I think the key lesson for this study is that if your going to try to be greener in the future no matter what you make, is to just less stuff when you make it."

The bulk of the research was done by a group of undergraduate students at Pitt in the School of Engineering. More research is planned on the polymers by examining the plastics environmental impact during disposal.

Football: Regular Season Winds Down with Some Big Games

(Oct. 29, 2010) - The high School football regular season is winding down with just two weeks to go and there are some big games on tap tonight.

Follow all the action on our Twitter feed ( Help us by sending us updates from your game (703.509.8826) and we will post them on our Twitter feed. We are looking for students and fans attending the games at Broad Run, Park

Five Essential... Bruce Willis Films

Tom Jolliffe selects his Five Essential Bruce Willis films…

By the time the 80’s were in full swing, the muscle bound action hero era was at the forefront of blockbuster movies. Stallone was in his pomp, and so to was Arnold. The mono-syllabic tough guys with square jaws, rippling 12 packs and far more baby oil on their bods than is actually required, reigned supreme. Still, by the time the 80’s were heading to a close, it was clear there was room in the market for a few everyman tough guys to offer a slightly more relatable hero, a more sympathetic hero, and a more vulnerable hero.

As well as Mel Gibson, who became synonymous as the deranged Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon, even more successful was Bruce Willis, who threw his hat into the action ring in 1988. However, though he’s fired many a gun and set off many an explosion, Bruce Willis has successfully ventured into many genres and taken some well calculated risks over the years with young up and coming film-makers. Turkey’s aside, Willis has a career that has largely entertained and offered diversity. Here is the essential Bruce Willis!

The Last Boy Scout5. The Last Boy Scout (1991, dir. Tony Scott)

A total guilty pleasure. Willis offers us a darker version of John McClane. As Hallenbeck he’s an outright bum, a shit, and a burnout who has to pull himself out of the gutter to solve his latest case, aided by comedy sidekick Damon Wayans. Last Boy Scout is pure excess. It’s one-liners aplenty, style over substance (thanks to Tony Scott’s visuals-first approach), and with some excellent action set pieces. Willis is superb and his deadpan delivery is hilarious. Willis and Wayans bounce off each other brilliantly, while Shane Black's script is stock full of brilliant black humour.

The Sixth Sense4. The Sixth Sense (1999, dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

Before M Night Shyamalan disappeared up his own backside, he introduced himself to the world with this brilliant film about a boy who sees dead people. It’s a film reliant so much on it’s young star, Haley Joel Osment, as well as Bruce Willis. The two hold the film magnificently. While the film may lose a little once the twist is revealed, it is still very well made, and impeccably acted. The only downside following its release was that it started a whole spate of “twist” films in the first years of the new millennium. M Night has also failed to come close to equaling this since, and his films of late have been woeful.

Twelve Monkeys3. Twelve Monkeys (1995, dir. Terry Gilliam)

A fantastic science fiction film from Terry Gilliam. This is the crazy Python stalwart at his best. The film is well designed and challenging, and Willis proved here that he’s a great actor, not just a movie star. Brad Pitt also shines in a role which earned him an Oscar nomination. The film looks great, opting for a bleak, cold and grimy view of the future. Gilliam’s attention to detail is put to good use to create one of the best sci-fi movies of the last two decades.

Pulp Fiction2. Pulp Fiction (1994, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

Following such a brilliant first film like Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino had an uphill task even coming close to repeating his success in his sophomore effort. However, with great aplomb, he manages to match it toe-to-toe. Many will in fact stand rigidly in the corner of Pulp Fiction as QT’s best work, though I’m still too much in love with Reservoir Dogs to ever switch corners. There are so many standout roles in this piece, and the award plaudits headed the way of Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta and Uma Thurman. In any other film Willis’ performance could have earned him an Oscar nomination. He’s superb here, making full use of his screen time. The film is a work of genius, which as yet, Tarantino has not come even close to matching since.

Die Hard1. Die Hard (1988, dir. John McTiernan)

The career defining role of Bruce Willis. Die Hard is quite possibly the best action film ever made. It’s fantastic! Why? Well it’s got it all! It’s got awesome set pieces, the best action hero ever, the best bad guy ever, the best henchman ever, the best douche-bag reporter ever, the best incompetent chief ever, the best partner who protagonist never meets ever, the best slime ball with eyes on lead's wife ever, and the best FBI partnership ever! The humour is simple and brilliant. The film is consistently funny, with great gags, without even trying too hard. The film has a lot of great set ups and pay offs (the bare feet, the watch). But best of all is the pitting of the wise-cracking monkey in the wrench, Bruce Willis, against the sharp suited criminal mastermind, Alan Rickman. Die Hard is infinitely repeatable, with new brilliant subtleties to be unearthed with every re-watch. Action movie perfection.

Honourable Mentions...

The Fifth Element, Die Hard 2, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Die Hard 4.0, Sin City and Hudson Hawk (nah, just kidding!).

Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your comments...

Tom Jolliffe

Essentials Archive

Volleyball: Ideal Senior Night for Pride as Heritage Sweeps Battlefield

By Owen Gotimer
Heritage High School student journalist

Leesburg (Oct. 29, 2010) - Early this week the varsity volleyball team at Heritage High School clinched the Cedar Run District regular season title. Thursday night the Pride ended their regular season district play with an undefeated record (8-0 in district, 18-2 overall), defeating the Battlefield Bobcats in three games.

Heritage got

Split Decision in NH

PPP's final New Hampshire poll finds there's a better chance of Republicans winning the race for Governor than there is of Democrats winning the race for US Senate. That says a lot about the massive shift in the political climate we've seen over the course of 2010. Kelly Ayotte leads Paul Hodes 56-41 in the Senate contest while John Lynch has a more modest 53-44 advantage over John Stephen in his quest for reelection as Governor.

Ayotte has rebounded strongly from a turbulent primary season that saw her favorability numbers decline precipitously. 57% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to only 34% with a negative one. That +23 net favorability represents a 35 point improvement from early September, right before the primary, when her standing was at -12 with 47% of voters seeing her negatively to only 35% with a positive opinion.

What's interesting about the improvement in Ayotte's numbers since then is that it has come across the board politically. It's no surprise that her favorability with folks of her own party has improved from 58% to 87%- that kind of thing is to be expected when everyone gets unified after a primary. But Ayotte has also seen a large increase in her favor from independents (34% to 54%) and even with Democrats (from 11% to 21%). She had to move to the right and embrace Sarah Palin to win the primary and those things really hurt her numbers over the summer but her current standing indicates none of that caused long term political damage.

Hodes meanwhile never emerged as a strong candidate. 50% of voters see him unfavorably to only 34% who rate him in a positive light. Independents don't like him and the number of Democrats who dislike him is greater than the number of Republicans who do like him.

Even if Hodes had proven to be a great candidate it would have been pretty tough for him given how far Barack Obama's popularity in the state has fallen. Only 39% of voters think the President is doing a good job to 55% who disapprove of him. That level of overall animosity toward Democrats in Washington would have made it difficult for any candidate of the party to pick up this Senate seat.

Meanwhile in the Governor's race it appears John Lynch will get reelected, but not by nearly the kind of gaudy margin he has become accustomed to. For instance he's winning independents 56-40, an unusual feat for a Democrat this year. But that's nothing compared to the 79-19 advantage exit polls showed for him with them in 2008. And the 22% of Republicans he's winning is an unusual amount of crossover support for any candidate this year, but it's less than the 31% of them he got the last time around. Nevertheless barring a major shift in the final few days of the campaign he should survive for another term.

Full results here

Historic Artifacts Missing

Auditor General Jack Wagner audited the 23 locations that house Pennsylvania’s historic artifacts and found at least 1800 missing or unaccounted for. He says the audit shows lax oversight that demonstrates the need for a complete inventory and upgraded barcode system.

Now that the Ft. Pitt Museum is being managed by the Senator John Heinz History Center, Wagner says its artifacts are in good hands, but the other venues need improvement to safeguard the state’s historic treasures that are of such great national significance: the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the battle of Gettysburg, etc.

Wagner says the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s budget has been cut drastically over the last four years, and this audit should say to the governor and future governor and legislature that a new security system must be given priority for the state’s valuable historic resources.

Volleyball: Tournament Brackets for Dulles District, Cedar Run District and Liberty District

(Oct. 29, 2010) - All 12 of Loudoun's high schools will be in playoff action next week as the volleyball season heads to tournament time.

AA Dulles District
2010 Volleyball Tournament (view full bracket)
**4 advance to regionals**
Mon. Nov. 1
Playin Game at Loudoun County, 6 p.m.
Park View vs. Woodgrove

Tues. Nov. 2
Quarterfinals at high seeds, 7 p.m.
Park View/Woodgrove winner at No. 1 Loudoun

Volleyball: Thursday Night Scoreboard - End of the Regular Season

VivaLoudoun Volleyball Scoreboard
Briar Woods def. Potomac Fals, 25-18, 25-21, 25-22
Broad Run def. Dominion, 25-18, 25-9, 25-22
Loudoun County def. Woodgrove, 25-14, 25-12, 25-12
Tuscarora def. Park View, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17
Heritage def. Battlefield, 25-8, 25-15, 25-13
Loudoun Valley def. 25-18, 28-30, 25-18, 25-21
Stone Bridge def. Langley, 25-16, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25, 15-7

JSM Skikda vs CA Batna Soccer Match

Today, 29 October 2010, 6th in stage 2 of the league of the Algeria's football, teams will meet JSM Skikda and CA Batna. 

In this season, has one victory JSM Skikda (ASM Oran 1-0 at home), a draw (0-0 in Mostaganem on the road) and three defeats (0-1 at home to Mohammad, and Kouba 1-2 0-1 with Merouana away), while CA Batna has two victories (1-0 and 1-0 Mostaganem Hussein Dey, both at home), a draw (the ASM Oran 0-0 away ) and 2 defeats (1-3 to 1-2 MO Constantine and Biskra, both away). 

My forecast would be a double: x2 equal or victory CA Batna. The only direct meetings between the two teams took place in 2008/2009 season, all in league 2, when each of the teams managed to impose themselves at home: 1-0 JSM Skikda, CA Batna 3 - 0. 

Even if rates do not show the difference of value is very high between the two teams in favor of the CA Batna from my point of view. JSM Skikda promoted to 2nd in the league until late in the season 2007/2008, but has not impressed: Ranked 13th in the 2008/2009 season and ranked 11th in the 2009/2010 season. 

The other side is favored to promote CA Batna, considering that it was relegated from premier league at the end of last season. In February the Algerian league, CA Batna ranked 5th in the 2007/2008 season and ranked 3rd in the 2008/2009 season, when he also managed to promote.


October 29, 2010. Just over a month ago Castrol Edge Dodge driver DJ Kennington claimed the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Championship after closing out the final event at Kawartha Speedway with a third place finish. The result from Kawartha was his ninth podium finish of a remarkable season that saw the team prove their mettle every weekend of the grueling thirteen race series that took competitors from coast to coast. And with the championship smiles still clearly visible on their faces, the Castrol Edge Dodge team is about to begin an off season of celebration!

Almost immediately after the final checkered flag closed out the season and the Castrol Edge Dodge driver was confirmed as the series champion the phone calls, text messages and emails of congratulations began pouring in for the popular driver. “I was overwhelmed by the number of people that called or wrote me a note after we won the title” said Kennington. “I’m glad I was able to have my family there with me after the race and for so many of the people from Castrol to be there was special. They’ve been with me since the beginning and are part of this family too” he added.

This off season promises to be much different than those of the past for the Castrol Edge Dodge driver and Kennington couldn’t be happier about it. “Normally we’d do some clean-up work around the shop and eventually start getting things ready again next spring” explained Kennington. “This year it’s a whole different ball game. We’ve got the cars cleaned up and ready to go because they’re going to be on display an awful lot over the winter” he smiled.

The first event for the 2010 Champion and the Castrol Edge Dodge team will be attending is the Canadian Recognition VIP Reception to take place in the Toronto Distillery district on November 10th. Series sponsors and partners along with members of the media have been invited to this prestigious event. “This will be the first of many big events for the Castrol Edge team” said Kennington. “I’m proud of everyone involved with our team and I’m going to take every opportunity to recognize their contribution and say thank-you” said the driver.

Coming up later this year Kennington will be honoured on December 11th at the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala to be held at the newly opened NASCAR Hall of Fame where he will receive his Championship Ring. “That is going to be a special time” smiled Kennington. “There’s almost a whole week of activities planned for us, we’ll have our Castrol Edge Dodge on display and to be part of that kind of event with all the history of NASCAR surrounding us will be a once in a lifetime experience…..well, actually I wouldn’t mind experiencing it again next year” he exclaimed.

It promises to be a busy off season for the Castrol Edge Dodge team and their many race fans can follow along through a number of different ways. Race fans should bookmark the team website and also sign up to follow them on twitter, Fans are also encouraged to join the Facebook Group DJK Racing.

Photo: DJ Kennington in the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge at Kawartha Speedway

Photo Credit: John R. Walker

DIRTcar: Friesen On Fire For World Finals At Charlotte!

Concord, NC – October 29, 2010 – Stewart Friesen is the talk of the DIRTcar Big-Block Modified world.

A personable 27-year-old Canadian with a hard-charging style and an emotional bent, Friesen has won more Modified features than any other driver in the Northeast this season. He’s been especially spectacular during the month of October, winning the prestigious SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 Presented by Ferris/Snapper/Simplicity Big-Block Modified Championship at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and nearly capturing the unsanctioned 49th annual Eastern States 200 at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y.

Now the lanky racer is taking his red-hot act south to chase more acclaim and history Nov. 4-6 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. He’s entering the inaugural Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified portion of the fourth annual Lowes Foods World Finals Presented by Presented by Bimbo Bakeries and Tom’s Snacks, a blockbuster weekend that also includes the World of Outlaws Sprint Car and WoO Late Model series.

“I’m really looking forward to the World Finals,” said Friesen, who has not competed at The Dirt Track since the Super DIRTcar Series last visited the four-tenths-mile oval in 2005. “We’ve had a great season and we’d love to end it with a win in an awesome event at a world-class facility.”

Friesen, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., who now resides in Old Forge, N.Y., will be part of a star-studded Big-Block Modified field that also features Super DIRTcar Series regulars Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., Jimmy Phelps of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J., Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., and Danny Johnson of Phelps, N.Y. Sheppard brings a 74-point lead over Phelps in the Super DIRTcar Series points standings into the season-ending double-feature meet as he looks to clinch his first-ever overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Modified title.

The addition of the Big-Block Modifieds to the World Finals program has produced plenty of anticipation among the division’s racers and fans. Friesen feels the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the event, prompting him to put extra emphasis on the pair of 40-lap, $6,000-to-win A-Mains that will be contested at The Dirt Track.

“It’s gonna be huge,” Friesen said of the World Finals. “It’s probably the best event of the year for Modifieds other than Super DIRT Week (at the Syracuse Mile). Running in front of a big crowd and having the race televised (the program on Sat., Nov. 6, will be broadcast on SPEED starting at 8 p.m. ET) is a big shot in the arm for Modified racing.

“We’re taking the World Finals real seriously. We’re preparing our short-track car for Charlotte just like we prepared our Syracuse car. We want to put our best foot forward.”

Friesen’s Charlotte plans call for him to drive his red No. 1 car, a proven machine that he co-owns with Jeff Daley and carries power from a C.C. Performance big-block engine owned by Marty Burdick. He steered the machine to a third-place finish in the Outlaw 200 on Oct. 2 at Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway and feels he should have parked it in Victory Lane on Oct. 24 after the Eastern States 200; he led Orange County’s long-running event until a controversial – and, track officials would later admit, incorrect – scoring decision following a lap-184 caution period put Tim McCreadie ahead of him for the ensuing restart. Friesen and his crew did all they could to protest the call – the crowd went wild when Friesen stopped his car on the track and sat on its roof to get the officials’ attention and prevent the race from restarting – but the decision stood. Adding insult to injury, Friesen was black-flagged for the way he argued his case, though he was allowed to restart at the rear of the field and finished a very angry 20th as McCreadie went on to win.

The Orange County defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for Friesen, who would have become just the fifth driver – and first in 12 years – to win the SEF 200 at Syracuse and the Eastern States 200 in the same season. A victory would have put his name alongside Big-Block Modified superstars Buzzie Reutimann (pulled the double in 1972), Gary Balough (1977), Danny Johnson (1997) and Billy Decker (1998), cementing his status in the division’s hierarchy before even reaching the age of 30.

No one, of course, can take away what Friesen accomplished over Columbus Day weekend at the famed ‘Moody Mile’ in Syracuse. Driving the Teo-Pro No. 44 that Daley and Burdick also help him field, Friesen came back from a hard flip in Saturday’s 358-Modified Championship 150 to win Sunday’s 39th annual SEF 200, the most coveted prize in Northeast Big-Block Modified racing. He was brilliant on the division’s biggest stage, making just a single gas-on-go pit stop – on lap 68, which happens to be the old DIRTcar Sportsman number of his late uncle Alex Friesen, a rising track and event promoter who lost his life in a December 1996 snowmobile accident – and then milking his tires and tank of fuel for the remaining 132 circuits.

A third-generation dirt-tracker whose grandfather, Stan, finished 21st in the inaugural Syracuse Big-Block Modified extravaganza in 1972, Friesen understands the significance of winning at the historic track. But he also has come to the realization that it will take awhile for him to fully come to grips with his $50,000-plus accomplishment.

“Tim Fuller (the 2004 REF 200 winner) said winning Syracuse doesn’t really sink in until you go there again, have a chance to win and you fall out because something breaks or something happens,” said Friesen, who was victorious in just his fourth career start in the Super DIRT Week finale and became the first Canadian to win the event. “Once you win it you think it’s something you’ll do again and again, but it’s harder to win than you ever know. Everything has to fall your way.

“Look at a guy like Frank Cozze – he ran the race for like 30 years before he finally won it (in 2008). I know I’m real lucky to have won it already.”

Friesen, a graduate of Ontario’s University of Windsor where he studied geology and physical geography, has already experienced the increased notoriety that accompanies a win at the Syracuse Mile.

“After you win it, you’re instantly more well-known,” said Friesen, who was a Super DIRTcar Series regular in 2005 driving for the Madsen Motorsports team but this year entered about three-quarter of the events as he searches for the right program to make a full-time effort. “If they didn’t know you before, now they do. It seems like everybody – Modified people, Sprint Car people, Late Model people – knows about Syracuse and pays attention to who wins it.”

Friesen will bring his new-found Big-Block stature to The Dirt Track for the Lowes Foods World Finals, where he hopes to continue his rise with another high-profile success. His two previous starts there resulted in a seventh-place finish in a DIRTcar 358-Modified event in 2004 (he led laps 3-18) and a 10th (from the 24th starting spot) in the 2005 Super DIRTcar Series feature.

“It’s going to be so cool to be in the same place with all the top Sprint and Late Model teams in dirt racing,” said Friesen, who started his 2010 season with a Big-Block Modified victory during the Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville. “All the professional drivers in dirt racing will be running at Charlotte and it’s pretty neat to be on the same level as those guys. Hopefully we can put on a great show, turn some heads and make more people fans of Modified racing.”

The Lowes Foods World Finals Presented by Bimbo Bakeries and Tom’s Snacks kicks off on Thurs., Nov. 4, with two sets of heat races for the Big-Block Modifieds (one for Friday’s program, one for Saturday’s card) and two rounds of time trials for the WoO Sprint Cars and Late Models. The Modifieds will compete in consolation events on both Friday and Saturday to complete the fields for each evening’s 40-lap features.

From DIRTcar

Energy Bill Assistance on the Way

Monday marks the first day that low-income families can apply for state assistance in paying their home energy bills. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a federally funded program in which the state distributes cash grants to those who might not be able to afford their heating bills during the winter. Department of Public Welfare spokesman Michael Race says there are two components to LIHEAP assistance. “There are cash grants that go to families to help them pay their heating bills and in those cases the grants are sent directly to the utility company or the fuel provider and show up as a credit on the consumer’s bill. There are also crisis grants that help households who have an emergency and are in immediate danger of having their heat cut off.”

For this winter season, Pennsylvania has requested about $3.3 billion, which would be divided into $2.5 billion in regular grant money and $790 million in crisis grants. Race says the Department typically extends the window for application because they don’t spend as much money early in the winter season as they do in the later months. For those who might need help paying their bills this winter season, Race suggests searching for the income eligibility guidelines at the Department’s Web site and learning how to apply for LIHEAP. One way in which to apply is by filling out an application at the Allegheny County Assistance Office or one of many local utility providers.

News: Loudoun County Public Schools 2010-11 Enrollment Figures Show Newest Schools Growing Fastest

(Oct. 29, 2010) - The Loudoun County Public Schools enrollment figures for 2010-11, as based on the Sept. 30 enrollment count taken annually, shows that the county's two high schools opened in 2005 -- Briar Woods and Freedom -- have become two of the largest and that the two newest high schools -- Tuscarora and Woodgrove -- will soon have more students than the high schools it primarily drew

Irish Banks Have Little Fight (NYSE: AIB) (NYSE: IRE)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - Shares of Ireland's largest institutions, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland continue to slump. In the premarket trading shares are currently lower by 8% for IRE and 4% for AIB. The companies have consistently moved lower over the last year.

Each bank has under-provided for their future losses which will lead to future impairment charges, unless the economy substantially improves going forward. IRE and AIB have loans of around 150 billion in U.S. dollars. Yet they have provided for future losses as if they are a Canadian bank with superior loan quality. IRE only has provisions for 2.5 % of its loans. Bank of America has provisions for nearly 5%. And this is where the large losses will be seen.

To see the full AIB report click here

Rendell is Getting Ready to go

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell finds out who his successor will be Tuesday but he says his administration is already working on a detailed transition plan. Rendell says every department has put together memos for the incoming, “Every department has prepared a transition memo for the governor-elect that will outline what’s been accomplished in the department, what the challenges are that still remain. Analysis of personnel and resources, and even recommendations of what personnel are dispensable, etc.” The governor says he’ll also write a long private briefing for Pennsylvania’s next chief executive. He says he’ll consult with either Dan Onorato or Tom Corbett on major decisions he needs to make between Election Day and Inauguration Day, “I don’t say that I will necessarily follow his opinion, but I will certainly listen to it. Particularly if those decisions have far-reaching effects. But understand that under the constitution, there still is only one governor until January 18th, and then there will be one governor after January 18th.” Rendell told reporters he didn’t want to comment on how helpful outgoing Governor Mark Schweiker had been when the Democrat was preparing to take office in 2002. In the final days before the election, Rendell says he’ll be busy campaigning for Democrats Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak in the Philadelphia area and Lehigh Valley.

Food Bank Launches Foodshare Drive

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is looking to literally take in tons of food during its 11th Annual Foodshare drive that launches Saturday and runs through November 7th. For the next two weekends hundreds of volunteers will be standing outside of Giant Eagle stores handing out lists of much needed items. The same volunteers will then be collecting the items when shoppers emerge fro m the store. Shoppers will also be able to make cash donations inside the stores and Giant Eagle will make a $2 donation to the food bank for every 10 cents in “fuel perks” donated to the cause. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank CEO Joyce Rothermel says they continue to see new clients walk through the food bank’s doors and many of the high demands items are hard to keep in stock. She says that the onset of the winter heating season will further squeeze family budgets forcing more people to turn to the food bank in an effort to put food on their tables. Rothermel says they have not set a specific goal for the campaign but are hoping to add as much food to their warehouse as possible.

Turnpike 43 to Test High Speed Tolling Technology

A six-mile section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike 43 shut down its Express E-ZPass lanes on October 27th. The express lanes between Exit 54 and Exit 48 on the Mon-Fayette Expressway will remain closed until sometime in January as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission tests the latest in high speed tolling technology.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, as part of an E-ZPass Group consortium that includes 24 other transportation agencies nationwide, has submitted this stretch of road to test the equipment because of the current technology in place and the steady but small traffic on the roadway.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spokesman Tom Fox says Turnpike 43 is a convenient toll road on which to test the latest technology.

“One of the reasons that we selected the high speed E-ZPass lanes on Turnpike 43 is because traffic out there is minimal to a certain extent and will be minimal until the entire portion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway between Uniontown and Brownsville is completed,” Fox says.

According to Fox, drivers who currently use E-ZPass will still be able to use their transponders and move efficiently through the tollbooths, but at a slower speed.

“They just have to go through the traditional E-ZPass lanes,” Fox says. “Instead of going 40-50 mph through a high speed E-ZPass lane, you’re going to have to go through a traditional E-ZPass lane as people are familiar seeing on the mainline turnpike.”

New equipment and technology submitted by a number of companies vying to provide equipment to all of the transportation agencies in the E-ZPass Group consortium will be examined during this testing phase. Fox ensures that message boards and traffic controllers will guide those who plan to exit through the proper lanes and that on or off ramps will be affected.

Onorato's Last Days on the Trail

With just days left before the gubernatorial election, Democrat Dan Onorato keeps plugging away. WDUQ's Scott Detrow reports the Allegheny County Executive is confident he’ll overcome Republican Tom Corbett’s lead in the race’s final days.

Listen to Scott Detrow's story here.

Find yesterday's story looking at Republican Tom Corbett's campaign here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open The Door HAL (NYSE: HAL) (NYSE: BP)

Halliburton is being investigated by a government panel that claims the oil services company may have played a role in the deep water platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton may have supplied cement to BP, that the company knew was unstable, for the purposes of sealing the well.

In the past, Halliburton has blamed BP for failing to test the cement and various other measures that may have caused the incident. Millions of barrels of oil were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico as a result.

Halliburton shares traded almost 8% lower on the news Thursday.

Perry headed for reelection

Rick Perry's in a solid position for reelection as Governor of Texas, leading Bill White 53-44 on PPP's final poll of the race.

For White it may be a classic case of the right candidate running in the wrong cycle. He has strong favorability numbers at a 46/39 spread while Perry can only break even on his approval rating at 45% giving him good marks and 45% bad ones. White leads with independent voters 50-44. That makes him one of very few Democratic candidates anywhere in the country leading with that group this year and it's all the more impressive given that Barack Obama's approval rating with that same ground of independents is a 33/55 spread.

Ultimately though to win as a Democrat in Texas you're going to have to win a fair amount of crossover support from Republican voters and in the end White just wasn't able to do it. Just 11% of GOP voters are planning to support him, a number equivalent to the 11% of Democrats who plan to vote for Perry. In this highly polarized political climate Republicans just aren't particularly inclined to vote for any Democrat, even an unusually appealing one like White.

Even if he isn't ultimately successful White's candidacy could have some positive benefits for other Democrats in the state locked in close races. Texas is seeing virtually no enthusiasm gap, especially when compared to the huge drops in Democratic turnout PPP is seeing as likely to happen in other states. Having an appealing person at the top of the ticket has the party's voters there more engaged than in most places.

It looks like Rick Perry will beat back a strong opponent for the second time this year. There's no politician in the country this year who's defeated a more formidable duo than Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill White.

Full results here