Pirates’ rotation in limbo

first_imgOne-third of the way through exhibition play, there are as many questions as answers about the rotation. Currently, only Duke and Snell look to be locked in, though it would be a surprise if Gorzelanny and Maholm aren’t in the rotation when the season starts April 2. Gorzelanny, out for a month late last season because of a sore elbow, has been ineffective so far with a 14.21 ERA in three appearances. He made his first start of the spring Sunday, allowing four runs in the first inning of a 9-8 loss to the Cincinnati Reds before settling down to pitch two scoreless innings. “As we go along here, it’s something we’ve got to be mindful of – you don’t want to dig that type of hole for yourself,” Tracy said. The wild card in the competition is McLeary, who was 2-0 in five games late last season. He has a 3.86 ERA in seven innings this spring and has impressed Tracy with his determination to win a job. “It’s why we stay here until the end of March,” he said. When camp opened, the top four starters appeared set with right-hander Ian Snell and left-handers Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny. Right-handers Tony Armas, who signed a $3.5 million contract for this season, and Shawn Chacon were expected to compete for the other job. SARASOTA, Fla. – Maybe that Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation isn’t nearly as settled as it appeared to be when spring training opened last month. Manager Jim Tracy’s explanation for unforeseen developments, which include Marty McLeary greatly improving his chances for a spot in the starting rotation, is simple. center_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Daryl ‘Nightmare’ Naidu: scaring off Durban’s bullies

first_imgWrestler and community youth worker Daryl “Nightmare” Naidu will feature in the next instalment of Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part TV series, to be aired on Sunday 27 July at 9pm on SABC2. “I don’t know if it’s my intimidating looks or the good work I do but kids look up to me,” says Daryl “Nightmare” Naidu. (Image: Daryl Naidu)Brand South Africa+27 11 483 [email protected] PhilipHis legs are pillars, his technique textbook as he plants them to steady himself. He shifts his weight as he grabs his target by the shoulder and arm, rolls him along his own bulging arm, lifts him effortlessly and flings him easily over his shoulder. His hapless prey drops like deadweight. Looking up at the Nightmare – his opponent’s ring name – the fallen wrestler can only wonder how much more pain he will have to endure.Daryl ‘The Nightmare’ Naidu is the blueprint of a wrestler – a ball of aggression with ripped legs and toned arms – but he blows away every pigeonholed idea you may have. At almost two metres tall and as broad as heaven’s expanse, the first impression Naidu creates is one of explosive anger. His ringside antics give you only a cursory glance into the chaotic world of a man who has earned renown as a wrestler and, more importantly, as a community youth worker.The dropoutNaidu dropped out of high school, partied without considering the consequences, disregarded guidance from his parents and funded his drug habits with odd jobs when his parents eventually cut him off. “I wanted to be one of the cool kids, but they turned on me when I tried to reform myself. They resorted to violence when I stopped funding our drug habit.”Being a victim of this extreme form of bullying lit a spark and Naidu went from being the cool bad boy to rededicating himself to wrestling. Calm and meticulous when he speaks, he explains that bullying is the root of the problem facing kids in Chatsworth. “It’s a slippery slope from being bullied to becoming a bully to gangsterism, violence and substance abuse. By starting at the root it’s only a matter of time before we can dissolve the bigger problems by giving kids a solid foundation to build on.”Naidu has gone from being the rebel without a cause to a celebrated wrestler with legions of fans, with the obligatory nemesis. He is recognised on the streets of the Durban and applauded in the Chatsworth community. Wrestling started out as the means to his own salvation but it is the end that has allowed him a certain amount of celebrity, fame that he now uses to run an anti-bullying campaign in his drug-riddled poor community.“Being celebrated in Durban made me want to always walk that straight and narrow path. To live a positive, loving life and helping others. I was no saint growing up but I chose to love life over living a negative life.”Finding ambition in the wrestling ringThe wrestling ring has long been home for Naidu. He matured there and found a way to work past the mistakes he made in his own life. Those mistakes, he tells kids, made him want to do something to help kids he saw going down the path he managed to escape.“Wrestling gave me ambition; it occupied my mind, kept me busy. Once I started achieving goals and getting praise I felt better about myself and never looked back. I use wrestling, sport, to give kids direction. If I can change their lives, make them role models, together we can change the nation.”It’s not his intimidating demeanour that allows him to connect with the kids he helps. He welcomes anyone to his wrestling academy, based at the Chatsworth Youth Centre, and encourages kids to join him in volunteering at the other outreach projects at the centre. He is successful because he talks to kids in a language they understand. “Humour … humour … and making them laugh when I talk to them. Kids are looking for someone they can relate to and not some stern guy in a suit and tie.”Nightmare uses his own life experience to help kids understand that life can be bigger than the world they find themselves trapped in. He says it will not be easy to for them to change but that the rewards are worth the pain. “Substance abuse held me back from becoming who I was destined to be. Wrestling gave me the self-confidence to speak out, to stand up, to become a role model who gives back to the community.”It’s the most important lesson he feels he can teach kids who look to him for guidance. He warns kids that he changed his life because he had to, and he wants them to make the right choices before they are forced to. “I warn kids that they are in danger of becoming the people they surround themselves with. They need to surround themselves with people that celebrate you, not tolerate you, because you are the architect of you own destiny.” “I am a walking billboard for everything I believe in,” Daryl Nightmare Naidu. (Image: Daryl Naidu)A child of MandelaThat his message is heard in Chatsworth matters to him. To kids here he is a superhero and he is happy to use that status to make a difference in his world. It hurts, he says – letting his superhero mask slip and showing human emotion – that kids find it so easy to give up their dreams; that if he can change the course of his life then anyone can. “If they need help, I will be there for them to lean on.”When Naidu talks about wrestling he uses the vocabulary of addiction – dependent, enabled, intervention and rehabilitate – but it is his addiction to wrestling that has helped him beat his other demons. Nightmare says that stepping into the ring makes him feel like he just won the lottery or found money lying on the floor.He celebrates his new life with body art, among the many tattoos that cover his muscular frame are the words ‘Don’t be a bully. Be a star’ across his hands. “The portrait of Nelson Mandela on my calf shows that world that I am a child of Mandela, proudly South African and choosing to live my life in his spirit.”last_img read more

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The Supreme Court Saves the Smart Grid

first_imgMany smart grid details are still being worked outThe Supreme Court ruling enables the creation of new services, such as selling home battery power back to the grid. But the business models for many innovative smart grid technologies are still being worked out, and it still isn’t clear what a sustainable business model looks like. Prices in electricity markets, for example, have been in a slump for years thanks to cheap natural gas, which makes it more difficult to earn money selling electricity services.The ruling also does not mean the end of all tensions between state and federal regulations. States may still be able to prohibit or limit participation in demand response markets.Community solar, for example, may be able to sell into power markets in theory, but in practice much still depends on the rules governing how solar power is metered when connected to the grid. Those rules, still firmly in the hands of the states, have become more restrictive in some places in recent years.So by ruling for FERC, the Supreme Court did not kill the smart grid, as some people had feared. But it will take more than a single sweeping ruling to completely save it. Getting paid to save energyThe FERC rule allows homes and businesses to get paid for energy conservation when demand on the power grid is very high, a practice known in the electricity business as demand response. Demand response has been around for years even before the case was heard by the Supreme Court, and has been credited with keeping power costs down and even with avoiding blackouts. Microgrids and community solarWhile demand response has been controversial, it has (alongside the rest of the smart grid) undoubtedly paved the way for a burst of innovative technologies, practices and business models, the likes of which the electricity sector has not seen in many decades.Electric vehicles, the wi-fi connected thermostat, Tesla’s distributed battery system, and the automated response of household appliances in reaction to conditions on the grid are among the potentially game-changing solutions to the grid’s many challenges — and all have the potential to do the job better and more cheaply than large power plants or batteries.My home state of Pennsylvania is but one example. A number of companies that coordinate demand response have sprung up in southeastern Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey.For instance, the Philadelphia subway system is now capturing energy from braking and storing it in batteries for reuse or resale on the wholesale energy markets. The city’s electric utility, PECO, is looking into developing micro-grids for local power supply and distribution. (Full disclosure: I have been involved in a number of projects related to demand response, smart grids, and micro-grids through my university employer, Penn State, and the Microgrid Systems Laboratory.)So it would now seem to be all systems go for demand response, electric vehicles, rooftop solar, and Tesla’s home battery system. But the irony of the ruling is that it may actually have muddied the waters, even when the sweeping language in the ruling suggests the opposite. RELATED ARTICLES Will the Supreme Court Kill the Smart Grid?The New ‘Smart’ GridTesla Will Sell Home BatteriesThe Smart Meter: Friend or Foe?Older Americans and the Smart GridGet Ready for Smart AppliancesOntario to Yank Some Smart MetersIn Nevada, Calls for a Smart Meter ProbeWhen Customers Challenge the Wisdom of Smart MetersFinding the Smartest Use for Smart MetersSmart Meter SmackdownThe Smart Meter’s Contentious Opponents Awkward analogies in an effort to explainDuring oral arguments in October last year, the attorneys arguing on behalf of the FERC sometimes struggled to explain the workings of the power grid and the markets that have been created in the wake of electricity deregulation in the 1990s.A host of awkward analogies, from sports cars to hamburger stands, were used on all sides. At the end of arguments, it seemed that the FERC had won some points and opponents of demand response some others, but ultimately, that confusion had prevailed.Some months ago, I argued that this case has hugely broad implications for the electricity business, particularly for innovation, that go far beyond demand response. Indeed, the majority opinion, authored by Justice Kagan, seemed at times very sweeping.During arguments, power generators complained that FERC simply did not have the jurisdiction to set up a market for demand response. The Federal Power Act suggests that the portion of the grid that distributes power to homes and businesses, rather than high-voltage transmission lines that transport power long distances, is the jurisdiction of the states. On this point, the message from the court was pretty clear: FERC has the authority to make the rules for deregulated electricity markets, and it can be as permissive or restrictive as it sees fit in determining who gets to participate in those markets.As a result, the ruling seems to put the federal government in the driver’s seat over modernizing the power grid, at least in the 70 percent of the U.S. where deregulated regional electricity markets are now the norm and have been for nearly two decades.Get paid to reduce electricity demand? Use on-site generators to supplement the grid during hot summer days? Allow community solar and energy storage to earn the same market price as natural gas or nuclear power generators? The Supreme Court has now opened the door to all of this. A smarter grid, here we come!center_img Seth Blumsack is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation. In a surprising 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a controversial energy conservation rule from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that regulates interstate electricity sales.The rule was one of those arcane pieces of federal policy so complex that even attorneys arguing for and against had difficulty explaining it. Yet this particular decision by the court is one of the most important in the energy world for many years — not because it upheld a particular FERC rule but because the decision seems to tip the balance of power on electricity policy toward the federal government and away from the states.The breadth of this decision paves the way for a host of new technologies and business models that seem poised to disrupt the usually staid business of electric utilities and usher in a more technologically advanced power grid. At the same time, the ruling sidestepped a number of thorny questions at the heart of state versus federal control over the power grid. For example, on hot summer afternoons when the air conditioner load soars, consumers and businesses can sign up for utility programs to turn up thermostats for short periods and, in return, receive a rebate. By arranging to consume less power during those critical times, grid operators can avoid purchasing costly power from very polluting generators.Critics of the practice have complained that payments in the demand response market have been so lucrative as to amount to a major subsidy for electricity users, one that has eroded the profits of power plants to the point where (ironically) the reliability of the grid may eventually be threatened. The decision issued last month, and the margin by which FERC’s demand response rules were upheld, came therefore as something of a surprise.last_img read more

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Cabinet expansion on cards, Maharashtra CM meets Uddhav, Governor

first_imgChief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday, giving rise to the possibility of a cabinet expansion on Sunday. “Met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence Matoshri and had detailed discussion regarding cabinet expansion,” tweeted Mr. Fadnavis late on Friday night. He met Mr. Rao earlier in the day. With just four months to go for Assembly elections both BJP and Sena are keen to give an opportunity to new faces in the cabinet.Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who quit the party and resigned as MLA to join the BJP, is likely to be inducted in the cabinet. Another name doing the rounds is that of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former minister Jaydutta Kshirsagar, who has joined the Sena. The State does not have full time Agriculture and Health ministers at present. Several Ministers of State are also likely to be sworn in.last_img read more

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