Make-a-thon 2014 is a Soviet Plot!

We told staff photographer Stevens Brosnihan to take some great pictures of 3d printers. This is what he came up with.

A couple of weeks ago, I was told to cover what was billed as a community effort to assemble “3D printers” for a one-to-one maker-inspired curriculum at O’Maley Innovation Middle School. Naïvely, I enlisted my trusty 1951 David White Stereo Realist camera (in the spirit of 3D) with it’s handy bulb flash and some contemporary Arista EDU film (in the spirit of education) to shoot what I assumed would be a typical after-school parent-teacher collaboration. What I discovered instead was a sinister and obviously Soviet-backed plot to enslave unsuspecting sleeper agents, forcing them to manufacture, test and deploy an army of self replicating, semi-autonomous, nuclear powered robots! After much paranoid deliberation along with liberal applications of poultices of crushed Xanax™ tablets and raw honey to my face, neck and genitals, I’ve decided to come forth with the terrifying truth, even if it means risking my own safety.

3d1

Mikhail Golubkin posing as ‘’Jim Dowd” – soldering the contacts on the guidance system of the latest Russian nuclear powered combat exoskeleton

Sweden thinks it has it bad with its russian U-boat infested waters! Friends and comrades are working in our midst, assembling the tools of the neo-Soviet uprising. Their overseer, a KGB agent code named “Colin” was blaring on multiple screens, straight out of a scene from 1984. He gave step-by-step instructions to the room full of sleeper agents and kept referring to his ‘dog’ while still remaining mysteriously anonymous. His hands often worked off-camera on complex tasks he would describe in his perfectly practiced American accent only to return on camera with a completed assembly, brandished as if to taunt the enslaved workers. Gasps of frustration would ripple through the room every time this happened and yet the workers would plod on.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Food and drink were supplied in uncharacteristic abundance, including cappuccinos, undoubtedly laced with truth serum and the antidote to a slow acting poison used to ensnare and retain the laborers.

I snuck away from the primary laboratory–craftily disguised as a Middle School library–into an underground bunker that housed a massive inventory of completed and partially assembled high tech mechanisms, each with it’s own computer brain, sensors, and actuators. I could smell the radiation.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

This series of anaglyphs is rock-solid evidence of a complex and terrifying plot being orchestrated in our midst by Vladimir himself who intends to undermine and eventually enslave our entire population. Use standard issue red/cyan goggles to get the full 3D effect. остерегайтесь козёл!

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

 A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.


A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

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Five Awesome Things about Ottawa

I am an unabashed fan of the city of Ottawa. It was the first city I ever fell in love with. I first heard about it in 5th grade, when one of my best friends went there on a family vacation and sent me a postcard, since we didn’t have email back then. On the back, she wrote “I am having a fun time. (My 8 year old brother) Jeff got his fingers caught in the elevator door at the Parliament buildings and he cried.” It was then that I knew I needed to go – and go I did, every time vowing to return as soon as humanly possible.

In fact, Gloucesketeers, you once almost lost me to Ottawa forever. Were it not for a too-short work history to meet immigration standards (and then changing, more selective standards), we may have uprooted and been Ottawa Citizens (ha, get it) forever.

I hate that people of such a wonderful city have to deal with what happened yesterday. It’s unfair. And I’m sorry, Ottawa. Believe me, we’re Bostoners, we’ve been there, and it’s horrible and earth-shaking. Even though you are a tough, strong city, this cuts you to the core.

But I want to share with as many people I can the beauty of Ottawa, this small city with so much to offer. So here’s a list of the best things about Ottawa.

 

1. Skating the Rideau Canal.

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway?

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway? Not a skinnier, younger version of me from 2008.

In the winter, at least before Climate Change fucks everything up forever, the Rideau Canal freezes over and you can skate on it. It’s technically the world’s largest skating rink. You can get on at one spot and get off another – there are folks who commute via skate. Our hotel has had daily weather reports and guides that tell you which mile markers you can skate on and which are closed if the surface isn’t safe ahead of time so you can plan your route.

The Rideau Canal itself is pretty cool, as well. In fact, it was once home to the Stanley Cup overnight in 1905 when a drunken Ottawa team, having just won the cup, took bets to see if someone among them could drop-kick Lord Stanley’s cup into the canal. Unsurprisingly, they were successful, and had to go fish it out once they sobered up in the morning.

2. The Diefenbunker

Don't panic, eh?

Don’t panic, eh?

The city of Ottawa, being the capital, obviously has an awesome formerly top-secret Cold War nuclear bunker capable of keeping the Prime Minister and other top officials safe underground for 30 days, right? You goddamn bet. Commissioned in 1959 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker, it operated not-very-secretly underneath farmland in rural Ottawa from 1961 until 1994. In 1997, it was turned into a museum, and the public can visit. It has a tiny CBC recording studio inside, some cheery posters of not-apocalyptic scenes, and some awesome mid-century modern radioactive decontamination showers for the hipster in us all. It’s awesome.

3. Sleeping in Jail

Hope you like brick and steel and ghosts!

Hope you like brick and steel and jail-ghosts!

We’ve all been there. You wake up behind bars after a questionable evening. Fortunately for me, we had booked a room at the HI Hostel at the old Ottawa Jail. The top floor held death row, executions took place there until 1946, and inhumane conditions and unmarked graves marred its storied history. Now, the whole thing is a hostel – from semiprivate jail cell rooms to the upper (death row) floors that hold the family suites. It’s a blast, a bit creepy, and beautifully macabre.

4. The Parliament Buildings at Night

It's funkadelic.

It’s funkadelic.

The Parliament buildings on Capital Hill are stunningly beautiful by daylight. They are the backdrop for peaceful protesters for all causes, thousands of tourist photos, and at night, they become even more photogenic. Every evening from June to September, weather permitting, a free sound and light show called Mosaika unfolds against the buildings, telling Canada’s story in both English and French.

The character of the Hill is wonderful, as well. Until last year, Parliament Hill had its own marauding gang of cats cared for by volunteers who were allowed to mill the grounds. They had been brought to the buildings to deal with a rat and mouse problem in 1924. The cats began to be spayed and neutered 15 years ago, and finally the four remaining cats were considered too frail to survive the Ottawa winters in the outdoor cat sanctuaries, and were adopted to homes.

5. Byward Market

Byward-Market-Ottawa

The Byward Market area is full of bars, restaurants, tiny shops, and Beaver Tails.  Beaver Tails, my friends, are oblong pieces of fried dough coated with gooey maple sugar and chocolate. They are amazing and they are proof that life is good.

I WANT ONE SO BAD

I WANT ONE SO BAD

Aside from Beaver Tails, Byward Market has small farmer’s market stands, tons of crafts by local artisans, cheese shops that sell squeaky, unpasteurized cheese curds (the building block of poutine), a bar called Zaphod Beeblebrox’s, a strip club called Barefax with a low cover and relatively classy atmosphere, and something called the GreenRoom Carbon Neutral Nightclub which really is the most Canada thing to ever occur. Byward Market spans four blocks and is nothing but awesome.

While Ottawa reels from yesterday, its beauty, its spirit, and its vibrant core will continue to shine. And I’ll be going back.

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Clam the Vote: The Gas Tax

Greetings Clamlectorate! The user data streaming into our offices here at Clamedia Tower in the heart of the financial/salon district of Gloucester tells us you guys are asking how to vote. Furthermore, we know you’re thinking a satirical website featuring content like the video of Staff Photographer Stevens Brosnihan dressed as the Man at the Wheel twerking is the “go-to” source for this information. We’re all watching it on the big screen in the main conference room.

It’s life-changing, really.

So before the election we’re going to bring you a bunch of our opinions on the different ballot questions and candidates. Oh, and we’re turning off the comments because comments. If you disagree, swell. Go start your own fuckin blog.

Anyhoodle, the first ballot question is the Gas Tax or “Question 1.”

Gas stations in Japan have these pit crew dudes who check your tires, oil, wipers and clean your windshield. It's awesome.
Gas stations in Japan have these pit crew dudes who check your tires and oil and stuff. It’s pretty great.

Vote “No” on that. Ok? Good. Back to the mesmerizing rhythmic revolutions of Stevens’ buttcheeks…

What? What do I hear? You want to actually know why rather than just do our Clammsih bidding in the ballot box. Fiiiiiine, here is why you should vote “No” if you must:

Fun Facts:

The monthly average price of Gas in the United States, according to AAA is $3.34. The average monthly price in MA is $3.43. We’re very close to the average national price here.

But our state is heavily infrastructure-dependent, and that infrastructure is old. We have old roads, lots of aging bridges and tunnels, winters that are tough on roads. Those of us on “this” side of the bridge are even more dependent on that critical road link. Even if you never go to the other side of the Ansiquam, everything that affords us a modern life comes over those bridges. And plenty of our readers use the rail bridge to get to work in Boston or to court-mandated probation officer visits in Salem. We need that infrastructure to be in good working order to facilitate our economy and lives. The gas tax is used to pay for that infrastructure. It’s that simple.

Side benefit of crumbling infrastructure: Zombie movies become much easier to film

Side benefit of crumbling infrastructure: Zombie movies become much easier to stage

And pay it does. All three of our bridges need work. Isn’t it fun that people from Springfield are helping to pay repair them? For once Gloucester makes out on a state program rather than getting screwed. How did that happen? Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Would you believe that MA actually has a gas tax lower than the national average? The average national tax on a gallon of gas is 50 cents. Here it’s only .45 cents on a gallon. MA HAS A LOWER TAX? BELIEVE THAT? Well it’s true. And considering how many more roads, bridges and tunnels we have per capita, and how important they are to our service-based economy, we should be investing more to keep them working.

Taxing gasoline makes people actually pay for use. You know that asshole with the truck that says, “Happily burning all the fuel your Prius is saving”? That guy is paying more taxes. Also has tiny peen. You know that person who does not drive and takes public transportation everywhere? That person is not paying gas tax. See how that works? Clever, eh?

'Murica!

Because America

Why should it be pegged to inflation? It’s so the legislature doesn’t have to waste time passing a bill every few years and giving some idiots the “We’re fighting to reduce taxes” flag they can wave, when all they are doing is making it harder to fix roads (thanks, guys!). It’s not “taxation without representation.” We’re voting on it. That’s representation. Holy stupidity.

We pay absurdly low taxes in this country and much of what we do pay goes to a military still rigged to fight WW III with a nonexistent superpower. Here in the Commonwealth we are 11th out of the states for our state and local tax burden at 10.3% As a resident I see some waste, but overall we have some pretty great shit other states don’t. Our health care systems is second to none and we’ve got close to universal access and have had so since Romneycare. We’ve got the best schools in the country. We’ve got low crime rates. We have healthier people, healthier kids, a cleaner environment an occasionally vexing but still at least working public transportation system. All in all, the average 3 grand a taxpayer dishes out in MA per year is a good deal.

Voting “NO” means don’t change, let it increase with inflation and the average person will shell out something like ten more bucks a year, max, when it goes up. Adults realize that things cost money, roads cost money and we have to pay for them. If you want to see how the “low tax” states fare on things like healthcare, education and so on, I invite you to look at Kansas, which was supposed to be an experiment for getting rid of the tax burden. It has been an unmitigated disaster. Check it out from the commie pinkos at The Socialist Worker Forbes Magazine. Adults did this. Very stupid adults.

So be a grownup and let’s keep letting people in Fitchburg pay for our bridges. Tee hee.

 

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Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Intersections: Finishin’ Up Round 2!

Welcome back to our Tournament of Shitty Intersections, where we face off Gloucester’s worst intersections bracket-style until only one remains. We’ve already eliminated 8 of the weaker (and therefore safer!) intersections. Let’s knock it down to 4, shall we?

intersections

Poplar/Washington vs Sayward/Bass/Brightside.

Poplar and Washington’s clusterfuck beat out my personal favorite worst intersection: Centennial & Emerson. Perhaps it’s only me that almost dies there literally 3 times a day. WHATEVER, PEOPLE. Poplar and Washington deserves its spot, however. Have you ever actually successfully turned left from Washington onto Poplar? It takes about nine months to do and you’ll still narrowly avoid being T-boned by a work van flying off the rotary like they’re matter being flung into the atmosphere by a dying star. My personal advice is to put the passengers you like the least (mothers in law, most annoying of your child’s soccer teammates) on the right side of the vehicle. I actually bike this when I need to go to my doctor’s office and pretend I’m a healthy individual, and it’s terrifying. TERRIFYING.

Sayward/Bass/Brightside narrowly edged out Norman & Magnolia Avenues to advance to the second round. JUST KIDDING IT WAS A FUCKING LANDSLIDE. You know what the most obnoxious thing about that intersection is (besides “all of it”)? The folks who use the right lane and then turn left like they didn’t realize where they were going until it was too late (bullshit). Those people need to be launched directly into the ocean at a speed unsustainable for human life. Also, people coming from Brightside are irritating, because they skip the whole “waiting in line” thing AND take your break in traffic since they have the right of way. Mostly I’m mad because I’ve lived here and my kid goes to EGS but I still don’t really have a clue how to navigate to actually come down Brightside. I also feel like people on Bass Ave actually fucking speed up sometimes to not let you go, because they are unrelentant sociopaths.

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What is Gloucester Googling For?

Because of our intense journalism and elite hacking skills, the Gloucester Clam has echolocated all the data for everyone in 01930’s google searches for the past 12 months. We hemmed and hawed over our responsibility as journalists to publish or keep private these results. However, we realized the sociological exploration, as well as our community’s clearly necessary deep moment of introspection, outweighed the privacy concerns.

Here are the results.

“How do mermaids fuck?” – 1,209 searches, 400 from Rocky Neck alone.

“Fishing hook stuck in leg leave in or take out” – 510 searches, mostly offshore.

“Ebola coming to Gloucester” – 400 searches, all by idiots.

“When the fuck is Anmol expanding to Gloucester?” – 300 searches, mostly from the Brits and Marty DelV.

“What determines residency? Please don’t say an actual house where I sleep.” – 1 result, ward 3.

“When is next season of Wicked Tuna” – 3 searches.

“Is Fuller School’s re-use as a swing space a mathematically sound proposition?”- 1 search, 0 results.

Drone Recovery Tree Island Crossbow – 1 search, East Gloucester

“How to get marine epoxy out of pubic hair” – 6 searches, Magnolia.

“I think aliens and goverment workers have abducted me, fuck the police!” – 1 search.

“Cod stocks are coming back, right? Right? RIGHT?” – 3,520 searches.

 

 

 

 

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No Snark Sunday- Oh Shit, We Need to Stop Letting Kids Play Football

Oh man, this is one I didn’t want to write. It feeds every elitist, latte-sipping, craft-beer-drinking, self righteous hipster stereotype rolled into one vegan organic burrito of preachiness. I’ve dreaded doing this column for a long time, but speaking uncomfortable truths is a sacred task, so here goes:

We really shouldn’t be letting kids play football.

Look, fine. Get angry at me. Spit on my Prius. I don’t have a Prius, but spit on one and pretend it’s mine if you have to. Burn an effigy of a thick-glasses wearing ironic t-shirt figure clad in corduroy. Do what you have to do to make yourself feel better, but when you’re done for fucks’ look at what actually goes on neurologically for kids who play football.

Take a step back: what would be your opinion of a school that featured the competitive eating of lead paint chips as a sport? You’d think they were pretty dumb, right? Now tell me how football is fundamentally different.

Screen shot 2014-10-19 at 10.10.58 AM

It’s not.

Ok, here we go. For the record, I know the following things:

  • I know that football produces “teamwork” and “camaraderie” and “gives people something to rally around, especially in these troubled times when we are questioning our very identity as a city, etc.
  • I know that you may have played football and turned out fine, or that your brother or husband did or whatever.
  • I know there are new rules/equipment now to supposedly make football safer.

When you’re done with the mental gymnastics and apologetics, will you just read the reports on the injuries and deaths and permanent damage being done to kids’ brains by the repetitive (repetitive, turns out is the key here, not just single, obvious concussions) high G hits that are the central component of the game? It’s not like other sports. It’s not like hockey or soccer. There is no other sport where you go running at the opponents with your head and then smash into them on every play (Also cycling without a helmet is crazy-dangerous, as I have said before).

Also what the fuck is up with college wrestling?

Also what the fuck is up with college wrestling?

All the arguments for keeping football as something developing kids do are subjective and based on things like “tradition” and “feelings.” We’re talking about medicine here, and that’s based on science and science does not give a shit about how anyone feels. It just reports the facts and the facts, in this case, are increasingly ugly.

Three years ago I worked on communications for new medical pump to deliver Parkinson’s medication. As part of the project I interviewed 30 neurologists from around the country. At the start of the interview I would let them talk for five minutes on the topic of their choosing. All of them, every last one talked about football or brought it up during the interview. Here is a typical response:

“I’m from Texas. I played football. My Daddy played football. Football around here is religion. There is no way in HELL I would let my son play football… in twenty years, when we look back at what we knew and what we did about it, we’re going to have to ask some hard questions about why we kept letting kids play as long as we did.”

That was not some effete essayist at Salon.com or an ideologically motivated NPR contributor. Neither was it a feminist blogger or some nerd who’d been subjected to wedgies in the locker room. That was a hard-core football fan who also happened to be the head of neurology at a major hospital and research center in Houston, and he’s right. We should not be letting kids play football.

Three kids have died playing the game in just the past month. Eight people died playing football in 2013, all of them high school kids. No one died playing any other high school sport. Football in the United States is more dangerous than Ebola. Knowing everything we know, how can anyone look those parents in the eye? “We were too invested in the idea of ‘tradition’ and our own nostalgia to protect your kid from an obvious and real threat made clear by modern medicine. Sorry.”

It's not this.

It’s not this.

I’m the first one to tell you there is an excess of gaspy “oh mercy!” over-protection of children in our culture. Too many of us wrap their kids up in bubble wrap and don’t let them out of our sight. I, like most people my age, grew up without wearing seat belts or helmets and people smoked indoors and in cars an all over the place. I hate how we’ve extended the infantilization of kids and all the bullshit about how people think predators and abductors are around every corner so kids can’t go to the playground alone. Read this blog and you’ll further see how I can’t stand what a nation of pants-shitters we’ve become over stupid, fake-ass things like the above-mentioned Ebola “threat” in the United States and how there is a general panic over anybody from another country wearing traditional headgear.

This is not that. Football is really, in-reality, absurdly motherfucking-ass dangerous and does long-term damage to kids’ brains and we should stop playing it as an organized and sanctioned sport. Oh, and on the “It provides camaraderie and teamwork for young males while channeling their inherent aggression to positive ends.” People, like, at the Wall Street Journal actually said that. Camaraderie? We’re fucking up kids brains for camaraderie? Really?

Baseball promotes teamwork. So does soccer. And a soccer ball will hit your head once in a game at a max of 20 Gs. Football players in High School take repeated hits (again, it’s the repetition that’s problem) from 20-300gs. Add that up to 200-2,000 hits a season and you’re talking some serious damage as discovered on MRIs of high school players by Purdue University. Read the study. It’s the study I linked to above. Here it is again. A lot of the previous studies have called for further research and these guys finally went and stuck high school-aged players in an MRI brain scanner after recording their hits on an accelerometer mounted inside their helmets. The research is clear.

Football fucks up kids’ brains.

This is not a culture war. This is not about liberals and conservatives. This is data derived from actual research. It’s like smoking: something people thought was safe and now has been proven by science not to be. We should stop doing this.

It’s that simple.

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The Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Crappy Intersections: Round 2 continues!

Another day, another faceoff! We’re almost done with round 2, folks. Hooray.

intersections

Maplewood/Prospect/Railroad vs. Pond/Eastern/Witham

In news that will astonish no one, Maplewood/Prospect/Railroad got over 90% of the votes last round over Washington/High. Apparently only like 10 people live in Lanesville and read our blog. Or, the Maplewood/Prospect clusterfuck is really that bad. Spoiler alert: it is that bad. First of all, the random buoy in the middle of the intersection. Why do we do this, Gloucester? Does this mean the general vicinity falls under maritime law? I try not to leave a wake with my Scion, but I guarantee nothing. Next, the backup. Coming from Maplewood, it’s especially onerous, because no one approaching Prospect from Railroad will let you across. This leads people turning right to cut through Shaws, who apparently hated that so much that when they re-did the parking lot, they made it harder to cut through, but people still do, even using one-ways the wrong way to do so. And again, one idiot clogs the intersection, and the whole thing gums up and everyone is stuck there until next week, beeping morosely.

Meanwhile over on the other side of town, there’s the intersection where Witham and Pond meet Eastern Ave. This beat out the Joan of Arc statue fauxrotary by ONE VOTE. Usually one side wins by a huge margin, but dang. Anyway, there’s so many reasons this intersection is not only sucky, but pretty goddamn dangerous: the speed limit is high coming from Nugent Stretch, and people are FLYING. Turning left from Witham onto Eastern has made me stool my panties on more than one occasion. Turning left onto Pond is almost as bad, but at least you after that turn you can console yourself with amazingly-priced secondhand furniture from Second Glance. Either way, this intersection blows.

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