Romney, GOP Race Come to Maryland

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Mitt Romney is bringing his campaign for the Republican nomination to Maryland, with a 4 p.m. stop in Arbutus today at a town hall event at American Legion Post 109 in anticipation of our primary vote on April 3, with 37 delegates at stake.

I have been DYING for the Republican primary to get to Maryland, just so it can finally count as local news. The thrills! The gaffes! The absurdity! Of course, it would have been nice if the race made its way to Maryland before Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry dropped out — remember when Perry said he wanted to kick Turkey out of NATO? I loved that guy. But now that it’s finally here, I gotta tell you, I’m a little sick of the whole thing. All the best jokes have gone stale, and now we’re just left to slog through a terrible culture war.

The perpetually disempowered Maryland Republicans will actually get to play a role in their presidential primary, and for them I’m glad. But, man, we all paid the price for it, didn’t we? We had to restart ages old debates about the separation of church and state, birth control, even pornography. And we were too distracted we missed some heavy-duty news items, like the Attorney General defending the assassination of an American citizen with the argument, “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same.” Sure, we got the occasional glorious “moon colony” moment, and for an instant, maybe it all seemed worth it, but how fleeting those moments were.

Maybe if Gingrich comes here — right now he’s focusing on Louisiana — we’ll get to see him promising horse-loving Maryland that he would bring back the pony express.

Towson: Terrible at Basketball, Good at Computers

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Towson anti-hacking team makes NationalsWhile Towson University might have the worst college basketball team in America (sorry, Tigers), at least one of the school’s teams is on a winning streak.  They came out tops in the seventh annual CyberWatch Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, in which a fake hospital computer network (complete with patient records, GPS tracking, phone/computer networks, and a medication dispensing station) was attacked by a group of nefarious hackers; the Towson team was one of 25 that tried to stop them.

Towson’s anti-hacking team has proved victorious before.  It won the 2011 Maryland Cyber Challenge, the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Regional, and the 2010 CSC Cyb3rBatll3ground Competition. (If you can’t read the name of that last one, there’s no chance you’d ever make the cyber defense team.)

The group, which is coached by math professor Mike O’Leary, advances to nationals in San Antonio on April 20-22. W00t!

Baltimore City Thinking About Selling 15 Historic Properties

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The city of Baltimore is looking to raise some cash, so it is hiring an Annapolis appraisal firm to give it the market value on some beautiful and beloved historic properties. The appraisals are intended to give leaders more information to decide whether to sell or lease the historic landmarks.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore’s Board of Estimates is scheduled to approve tomorrow a $46,500 consulting contract with appraisal firm Westholm & Associates to figure out the next step.

“We’re looking for strategies and options,” said Thomas J. Stosur, the city’s director of planning. “Should the city retain them? Should we lease them to existing tenants? Or should we try to sell some outright?”

See below for a list (with pictures!) of the fifteen properties.

1. Superintendent’s House, Clifton Park

Read the whole story at The Baltimore Sun and see the rest of the properties under consideration at the jump.

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Fest: Feel the Burn Outside the Gym

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American bourbon labels

Bourbon headlining an event this close to the Mason-Dixon line? Happily, yes. The Fifth Annual Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival takes place this weekend, starting Friday, March 23, at Timonium Fairgrounds.

The festival features 40 bourbons — among the 60 beers and pits of BBQ — all available for sampling.  The menu of bourbon includes classics such as 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, Maker’s Mark, and Booker’s. However, options like the Evan Williams Cherry Reserve and Red Stag Honey Tea reflect a recent trend in bourbon expansion, flavor infusions. Larry Kass, spokesman for Heaven Hill Distilleries, which includes the Evan Williams brand, has called the flavored bourbons, “a gateway-type product into the category.”

Happy Free Rita’s Day

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Free Italian Ice at Rita's

The first day of spring is the best. Daffodils! Robins! Free frozen slushy treats! Yes, to celebrate its annual seasonal reopening, everyone’s favorite ice/custard shop offers up free regular-sized Italian Ices for all customers, today only. So get thee to the nearest Rita’s today from noon to 9 p.m. and join in the celebration. (Find the nearest location here.)

Charm City Cook: Getting Your Share of Local Produce

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I love Waverly Farmers Market. It’s year round and I shop there every Saturday morning, buying everything from milk and cheese to meat, bread, eggs, potatoes, greens and more.

But…when spring rolls around, it’s lots more fun. Sorta like payback for being a faithful market shopper. You see more familiar faces and you can tell what month it is based on what’s at the farmers’ booths. Here in Maryland, shortly we’ll start seeing asparagus, strawberries, peas, radishes, blueberries. Then later, squash, corn, tomatoes, melons and so much more in between. Cannot wait. I can taste the fresh peas now.

A Futuristic Nightmare: Anonymous, Automated Political Calls Target Women in Maryland’s Sixth District

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There is only one robocall I receive on a regular basis, and I love it. I answer the phone, and halfway through my “hello” a foghorn blasts in my ear. Then a cheery voices says something like “All aboard!” or “The captain’s calling!” and it offers me some kind of cruise. The timing of the foghorn is perfect, and it gets funnier to me every time.

Recently, women in Maryland’s sixth district have been targeted by a less enjoyable robocall, one that demands that receivers of the call demand that U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett demand that Rush Limbaugh end his “war on women.”

Now, I never listen to the cruise message all the way through, but if it’s legal it includes an “authority line” at the end of the message naming the group responsible for the call and how to get in touch with them. The anti-Rush call is credited only to “women of the 99 percent” — not the name of any official group — which makes it illegal. Trouble is, it’s hard to know who to blame for an anonymous call. The number apparently doesn’t show up on caller ID, and MoveOn.org, who endorses Roscoe’s opponent State Sen. Rob Garagiola, denies making the call.

It’s almost too scary to suggest, but has anyone investigated the possibility that perhaps the machines have gained sentience and that these anonymous political robocalls are being made by the robots themselves? Is this what the dystopian future looks like? A topsy-turvy world where man is politically harassed by machine?

More Schools Skew Rankings with False Data

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More colleges give false data to US News rankings

Okay, this is starting to look like an epidemic. Two more schools have been caught reporting incorrect data to the U.S. News & World Report, after California’s Claremont McKenna got in trouble for similar fraudulence earlier this year.

The Most Important Envelope of Your Life

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Match Day envelope

It was undoubtedly the tensest brunch ever.  Each of the 110 Johns Hopkins medical students had an envelope with their future inside. And they weren’t allowed to open it until noon. Until then, they drank champagne and stared at a breakfast they were too nervous to eat.

There’s nothing else quite like Match Day, the moment when all the nation’s medical students find out — at the exact same time! — where they’ll be doing their residencies, and in what specialty. Months before the big day, students rank their preferred programs, judging each by various criteria:  do they want to live in California? Do they want to work at a top-notch hospital? Where is the best endocrinology program in the country, anyway? After an anxious series of interviews, each program also ranks students. Then a mysteriously omniscient computer algorithm sorts it all out, placing students in programs that they asked for, but that also want them… thus determining a huge chunk of their future.