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10 Panthers named to Pro-Bowl

And yes, being undefeated helps to up the number of Panthers picked for the Pro Bowl. Congratulations go to Thomas Davis (1st Pro Bowl selection) Ryan Kalil (5th Pro Bowl selection), Luke Kuechly (3rd Pro Bowl selection), Cam Newton (3rd Pro Bowl selection), Josh Norman (1st Pro Bowl selection), Greg Olson (2nd Pro Bowl Selection), Kawann Short (1st Pro Bowl selection), Jonathan Stewart (1st Pro Bowl selection), Mike Tolbert (2nd Pro Bowl Selection), and Trai Turner (1st Pro Bowl selection). Of course, hopefully none of these guys will actually be playing in the game in Honolulu on Jan. 31, 2016 as they’ll have a bigger commitment a week later…

Bonus observation: 10 Panthers being selected for the Pro Bowl is a team record, topping the eight players picked in 1996.

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Virginia to stop accepting North Carolina concealed handgun permits

Effective February 1. Richmond Times-Dispatch story, available via the Winston-Salem Journal, is here.

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Population growth and legislative and congressional district size

The UNC Population Center has updated data on how population growth since 2010 has impacted how many people live in each legislative and congressional district in the state. The key issue:

While North Carolina’s population growth continues to outpace the nation, this growth is concentrated in the state’s urban areas. Nearly half of the state’s population growth since 2010 has occurred in two counties—Wake and Mecklenburg. Over this same time period, 49 of the state’s 100 counties have lost population.

Ordinarily, you’d think that urban growth would really help Democrats in the 2020 redistricting. That might not be the case, as among the areas most rapidly losing population is rural northeastern North Carolina, which has a heavily African-American population and thus leans very heavily Democratic. Also, some of the most rapidly growing districts are ones which Republicans currently hold:

The NC Senate district with the fastest estimated growth between 2010 and 2014 was District 41 in Mecklenburg County (Jeff Tarte). Senate District 41 has gained 28,600 new residents since 2010, an increase of 15.7%.

And:

Like the NC Senate, the NC House district with the fastest estimated growth between 2010 and 2014 was also in Mecklenburg: District 92 (Charles Jeter). District 92 grew by an estimated 19.5% between 2010 and 2014, gaining nearly 15,200 new residents.

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Regular US – Cuba air service to resume

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. and Cuba are closing in on an agreement to restore regular airline serve between the two countries. Might this mean that we will soon see Charlotte – Havana flights? I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Air service is likely to be restricted to about a dozen or so flights a day on the framework that’s being negotiated, and numerous airlines including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United are expected to apply. It’s just hard to see a Charlotte flight as being near the top of the Department of Transportation’s priority list. Indeed, I kinda doubt that CLT is even near the top of American Airlines priority list in applying for Cuban flights — certainly Miami several times a day, Dallas, New York, plus likely some other Florida cities or Los Angeles would all be higher priorities.

To take it a step further, this may be a case where the US Airways/American Airlines merger hurts Charlotte’s chances of getting a flight. As a standalone carrier, US Airways likely would have submitted a bid for Charlotte – Havana. OK, that probably doesn’t get picked as one of the initial wave of routes, but as time goes and more flights are added, eventually it would get picked, in part because the DOT does value having more carriers fly to a destination. With the merger, it will likely be awhile longer before American even applies for a Charlotte route, and longer still before it gets selected.

Important note: Cuban Americans are concentrated in certain parts of the U.S. (Miami immediately comes to mind), and Charlotte isn’t one of them.

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Collecting cool points by buying vinyl

Records are very popular these days and the prices for many albums has gotten just silly. Long-time record collector Liz Ohanesian, writing in LA Weekly, has seen enough:

But it’s not just the over-inflated price of records that has become so disheartening. The current obsession with “curating” stores instead of just stocking whatever’s available has made record shopping boring. The dust and chaos of the old stores has been replaced with neat bins that carefully organize records into genres and sub-genres, some with handy recommendations on the front. Instead of crate-digging, I feel like I just stepped inside Pandora.

Add that to the eBay-mimicking prices and it’s like the world of Internet music consumption has spilled over into the real one. It’s music for people who are used to algorithm-based recommendations and who want the prestige of vinyl at any cost, except the cost of dedication. I’m starting to feel like people are selling me cool points instead of music.

Exactly.

H/t: CJ

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Students subsidizing college sports

Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis writes on the UNC system universities relying upon student fees to help cover the costs of their athletic programs. Here’s what she says about UNC-Charlotte:

Other notable subsidies include those at UNC-Charlotte, where the athletic department has subsidized $85,854,522 of its $116,678,876 total spending (or 74 percent) since 2010. Student fees comprise nearly three-fourths of those subsidies, adding up to $64,390,891 over the last four years.

College athletic programs continue to expand as universities use a variety of justifications for sports development, says economist Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. One recent example is the UNC-Charlotte 49ers football program, which was established in 2008 based in part on the argument that adding Bowl Championship Series-level football would be a magnet for both donors and students.

That’s a common rationale university administrators use to beef up athletics — but it’s not necessarily realistic, Vedder said.

“As I read the empirical evidence on this, by and large that’s not a very strong argument,” Vedder said. “In most cases there is little evidence that there is an increase in the donations that sports bring in. There is no evidence at all that they bring in more money. And when they do, sometimes the … incremental amounts of money they bring in is to support the sports program itself.”

In 2014, UNC-Charlotte’s athletics department received financial contributions of $4,420,363, as well as a total endowment and investment income of $271,738, roughly $1 million more than in 2010, when it received $3,276,840 in contributions, and $317,728 in endowments and investments. But that increase in donations over the last four years may not represent any real benefit to the school, Vedder said.

“That extra [money] is going to support the operations of the athletic department,” Vedder said. “So how does that help the university in a material way?”

College sports continue growing, not because they are of true value to universities, but because they are popular, Vedder said. That popularity is driving a kind of athletic arms race, and an immediate solution looks unlikely due to peer pressure among universities, he said.

“A basic problem is that people love sports,” Vedder said. “So this assumption that you can [use sports] to buy your way into donations by prominence and high reputation doesn’t work. Because one thing everyone forgets is what I call the Iron Law of Sports: Every time someone wins a game, someone else loses, and not everyone can win in sports.”

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American Airlines adds Charlotte – Madison, WI flights

How’s this for timing: Just before Thanksgiving, I posted a list of the largest unserved air markets (places lacking nonstops from here) within 1,050 miles of CLT. Well, today American announced that they were doing something about the top city on that list. Twice a day service to Madison, WI (MSN) starts on April 5th. Will update with aircraft type when American loads the flights into their reservation system over the weekend.

This leaves Wichita, KS (ICT) as the largest unserved market with a thousand or so miles of Charlotte. Note though that the Charlotte – Wichita market is a about a third smaller than Charlotte – Madison and that Wichita is a couple hundred miles further away.

Update: Looks like American will be using Bombardier CRJ700s on the route. The CRJ700 seats 65 and features a first-class cabin. The selection of a large regional jet instead of a 50-seater for this route is very interesting, and highlights the potential of such secondary Midwest markets. Recent additions in the area have done well — Grand Rapids, MI has been upgraded to CRJ700s from 50-seaters while Ft. Wayne, IN is getting an extra (second) flight.

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North Carolina’s $1.5 million new branding campaign

Features this logo:

Nothing-Compares-NC-logo

It’s easy to understand why this has gotten some decidedly negative reviews — there’s just too much going on. The font used for the “NC” also is clunky and presents the wrong image.

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More Eastland finger pointing

This time between the county and city. Essentially, the county claims the city isn’t doing enough — meaning isn’t aiming high enough — to redevelop the site and those justify county money. Or as Commissioner Jim Puckett put it, “It is my opinion the city of Charlotte has a white elephant on their hands and are looking for partners to help spread the financial pain. I have no interest in being part of this poorly conceived land purchase.”

Which gets us to, per the UPoR: “Some commissioners worried the area’s culture would be lost and questioned whether the city planned to revitalize neighborhoods around Eastland Mall.”

What? I grew up within two miles of Eastland, and to put it bluntly, that world no longer exists. I literally  have no idea what this “culture” is that some commissioners now seem so concerned about protecting.

Bonus delusion: “We want to see Starbucks; we want to see the same kind of development we see in midtown and SouthPark.”  — John Leonard, a board member with the neighborhood Eastland Area Strategies Team. It doesn’t work that way. Retail follows income, and east Charlotte lacks that these days. And people making decent coin don’t want to live in the outdated housing stock in those neighborhoods around Eastland. There’s no simple solution for that.

Which, of course, explains this line from the same story: “Pat Mumford, who oversees the city’s Neighborhood and Business Services department, told commissioners no developers have signaled interest in the mall.”

Goes to show that the potential of streetcars isn’t the cure to all problems.

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An alligators hunting season in North Carolina?

Yes, it’s being considered, but with some restrictions, reports The Virginian Pilot:

The season would likely run from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1. Hunters would need a permit allowing one alligator per season, said Ryan Kennemur, spokesman for the [North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission]. Alligators could be killed with such weapons as harpoons, bows and arrows, or clubs known as wooden pegs. They could not be hunted with guns, he said.

Clubs? As in going into the swamp and trying to beat a large reptile with sharp teeth to death with a wooden club? Really?

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