Wednesday, December 31, 2008



It's a New Year
It's a new year
Let's give a cheer
Pour us some wine
And maybe some beer
Get all your friends
Party till the day ends
Then the ball will drop
And the balloons will pop
It will be 2009
Give me a high five
Another year passes
Through life's glasses
Happy New Year  


New Years are a Chance for a Beginning
New years are a chance for a beginning
Even when there hasn't been an end.
Wheels turn in an interminable bend,
Yet, marked in one spot, seem to wobble spinning.
Each year we hope to do a little better
Although we know that really nothing's changed.
Reason thinks that everything's arranged,
So we must dream if we would fate unfetter.

Comic Books: Which Ones will Be Breakout stars in 2009?

The New Year is wide open with comics firing on all cylinders in the upper echelons of superhero comics to the vibrant field of modern comics. But who rests at the top? Who are the biggest and brightest – who are the ones who pose to make 2009 a breakout year for themselves? From characters to comics to creators, and even to the wider spectrum of television and movies – who will be the breakout stars?

Click here to read Chris Arrant's take on things for Superheros in the New Year.


I have wisely chosen not to make a New Year's resolution. I've never managed to stick with one, and there's no reason to think I will this year.

I wouldn't say 2008 was great because the economy tanked so badly. I'd like to say 2009 will be fine, but our depression is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Having said that, I still think that we all have the choice to be happy or sad, regardless of the economy, and world events.

I'm not suggesting a Pollyanna outlook on life, but I believe that we do have some control as to how our days go. It's harder to think positive, than it is to think negatively, according to experts.

The answer is, you have to force yourself to think of something positive, but in time it will come easy as you train your brain! Happy New Year's To You!

Time To Say Bye Bye Bush, We Certainly Won't Miss You!

Dubya will go down in the worst president this country ever had! Take a moment to check out His Chimpness in photos that were taken during his disastrous days in office.  



photos source -

Blagojevich stuns everyone by making senate appointment!

Gov. Rod Blagojevich stunned everyone yesterday by appointing Roland Burris (right) to the vacant senate seat left by president-elect Barrack Obama.

It's apparent that Blago is as brazen as they come, as he defiantly made the appointment despite the legal problems that will probably kick him out of office. It was just a month ago since Blago was taped trying to sell the senate seat to the highest bidder! To add to this growing circus, former Black Panther-turned-Daley-machine-functionary, Bobby Rush decided to throw a race card out there by suggesting that anyone who tries to stop Burris from taking the senate seat is a racist!

Give me a friggin break! Rush threw out words like "hanging and lynching" a black appointee when he made his appeal for Burris to take the senate seat without opposition. Well, guess again Rush. This isn't about race, it's about a corrupt governor trying to make an appointment before his indictment comes through in another week.

How could anybody be expected to not be concerned with any appointment that Blago makes? The guy's a corrupt politician and that's all there is to it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gambled Thrived During Great Depression, But That's Not True for Our Current Depression!

      By Dave Stancliff
    My father lived through the Great Depression and over the years he’s told me interesting stories about those tough times. One was that gambling stayed popular, either in spite of or because of, financial desperation.
      “People gambled and went to the movies,” Dad assured me. As far as I can tell people are still going to the movies during our current depression (screw the term recession). It seems all bets are off for the gambling industry in America today.
        As more people lose their jobs, the revenues for state lotteries and casinos are dropping. That old notion that gambling is recession proof is being challenged. People don’t feel “lady luck” will be any nicer to them gambling than what she showed them at the workplace.
        For an industry that doesn’t create wealth but simply transfers it-mostly from the poor to the already rich-the future is not rosy. Their shaky stocks don’t translate to buying lottery tickets. State governments are scrambling to make up for an average 2 percent dip in lottery revenues in the third quarter compared with last year.
       Companies that run casinos saw their stock prices drop by more than 60 percent in 2008, while on the Las Vegas Strip, gambling revenues have fallen nearly 10 percent. Nevada faces a sobering moment about the risk of risk. Not only is its gaming industry suffering, but the state has the highest rate of home foreclosures.
       To me it appears the gambling mentality extended to buying homes, on the assumption that prices would always go up. That belief-nationwide- is now as dubious as the pull of a slot machine.
        It’s the state lotteries that are particularly pernicious because elected officals, supposedly the guardians of public morality, prey on the most vulnerable to supplement their budgets. Experts say that about 1 in 5 people play the lottery regularly. They are the wrong people however. Those who spend the most on tickets earn less than $12,400 a year, parting with about 9 percent of their income!
       There’s some states, like New York, who want to expand their gambling to make up for budget shortfalls. “Get rich” marketing has become more aggressive, trying to hook young people in. I’ve heard that there are some tickets that are infused with smells like chocolate. I guess the buyer can eat them after their numbers don’t deliver them to financial security.
       As It Stands, gambling will never be the answer to people’s problems, it will only compound them.

'Kissing the way into the New Year' on Most Viewed List Today

Thanks to the Times-Standard readers for putting my last column of 2008 on the Most Viewed online list with a Number One rating.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read this column yet, click here. 

Who do you plan to kiss the New Year into with?



Man shot in movie theater by crazed gunman who wanted silence!

         A South Philadelphia man enraged because a father and son were talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took care of the situation when he pulled a .380-caliber gun and shot the father, police said.

James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29 (right), is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations for allegedly shooting a guy who talked through a movie!

Talk about an attitude. This guy just sat back down to watch the movie after shooting the dad. I have a feeling this guy has a lot of bad days and should be locked up somewhere safely. At the moment he is locked up and being charged for his actions.

It's getting so that you have to be careful anywhere you go, because people with guns are everywhere. There's good gun owners, and there's bad one's, like this clown who was packing in a movie house.

Price of gasoline going up in California while it goes down nationwide

I really get sick and tired of all the bullshit excuses why Californians have to pay higher gasoline rates than the rest of the nation.

Here in Humboldt County we generally have the highest gasoline prices in California, giving us a dubious reputation.

The Los Angeles Times today takes a detailed look at the whole situation. Click here to read the reasons why we get screwed in California.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Confessions of a Hybrid Writer: I Just Want To Have Fun


By Dave Stancliff
I’ve come to the conclusion
that I’m a hybrid between a traditional journalist and blogger.
The traditional part of me, the one that was a newspaper editor and publisher, is concerned about the fate of newspapers.
The blogger part of me says that it doesn’t matter if you lose the dead wood if you can still communicate with people. Reaching out to readers, after all, has always been the point of journalism.
The perception of bloggers being a bunch of nerds and nuts has long given way to legitimacy that called for them to be represented during the recent presidential election. Both parties made sure to save press room for the blogger community.
In the last seven months I’ve started a blog and moved my opinion column from the

Eureka Reporter to The Time-Standard. In both cases I’ve been astounded (and gratified) at the readership for my column.

The Times-Standard ran the results for their Online readership for 2008 recently. My column - “Judge Says Feds Violated 10th Amendment by Subverting state Marijuana Laws” - was #1 in their Top Ten.(see column on right under Times-Standard for link.)
My other column to crack that Top Ten was - “America in Crisis: Are We Preparing For Martial Law?” - came in 5th on the list.(See column on right under Times-Standard for link)
Both went viral to get there. That means over a million readers viewed each column. I’m humbled by the interest shown.
I’m also amused at Times-Standard editor James Faulk, who wrote the short article about the newspaper’s Top Ten online stories for 2008. He asked in the article, “What does this list mean? Nothing.” he assured the reader.
Well gee...doesn’t it count for something if over a million people view your article? What other yardstick can an editor use in this cyber age for such accuracy in tracking readership? Those little hits, every time someone views the article, add up to money in online advertising.                                                                                                                                
So it seems to me the list has some value. I guess it depends on how you look at it. My overall goal to attract readers to my newspaper column appears to be doing alright, and my overall goal to have fun with my blog has been achieved.
It hasn’t been a year yet since I started the blog, but it is turning out to be a blast! I’ve decided not to advertise on my blog, which eliminates any concerns for content. I can continue to say what I damn well please this way!
Reader feedback really gets me reeved up! I just love that interaction. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad a long time ago (1981 was my first editorship with a newspaper - the Desert Trail in 29 Palms, California).
I had plenty of up close and personal visitors for years In the old days, reader feedback often went beyond a letter-to-the-editor and often meant a visit to my office when I use to work full time. They weren’t always pleasant visits, but I managed to remain professional and not let them irritate me.
Now my critics are online and it’s easier to maintain a calm response with that  barrier.                                                                                   

As It Stands, my guess is that there are more “hybrids” out there going through the transition from traditional to the new cyber age of communicating.      

What would the Mona Lisa look like painted by other artists?


  Matt Groening                                   Pablo Picasso 

Andy Warhol

Manga Style Art                              Roy Lichtenstein

All Art by Aviary


How to compound a catastrophe, or Murphy's Law wins!


You think the above is the end of this situation, don't you? Not even. It's only the start of what must have been a long day for several tow-truck drivers. Click here and watch how the whole story pans out in photos. You'll be amazed at the resulting havoc which reportedly took place in Ireland somewhere.

Israeli airstrikes continue to bombard Hamas in Gaza


Hatem Omar, Associated Press

A Palestinian family flees the Rafah refugee camp after an Israeli strike. The Palestinian death toll rose to 303 with an estimated 900 injured as raids continued. Some Gazans reportedly tried to break through the border to Egypt, but were repelled by Egyptian forces.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As It Stands Column is #1 & #5 in Online Top Stories in T-S

By James Faulk/Times-Standard     

For most of this year, I was the Web editor here at the old Times-Standard, toiling away on making sure that this newspaper did its best to bring all of its brilliant content to the Internet.

It was a nice job in a cozy office with Jeff Soderberg, the technical guru of all things interactive at the T-S.

But since early November or so, I have switched jobs, becoming the city editor and leaving my digital roots behind. But even with that transition, I can't help but be interested when the top 10 list of online stories for 2008 was circulated in the office.

First, here goes the list for 2008:

1. Judge says Feds violated 10th Amendment by subverting state marijuana laws (See column to the right under Times-Standard for a link)

2. Feds launch massive pot sting (with video)

3. SoCal's atheist billboard taken down

4. UPDATED: Major sting targets commercial grow op (with video)

5. America in Crisis: Are we preparing for martial law?

(See column to the right under Times-Standard for a link)

6. No longer a Long shot?: Raiders' Davis may land his prized possession after all

7. Rodoni dies in 101 crash

8. Seized pot worth $25M to $60M

9. Arcata man falls to his death

10. Driver sought: Suspected drag race on 299 results in fatal crash

So what does this reveal about the Web? I argue, absolutely nothing! What we have here is a collection of random stories, some of which went viral. Those that went viral, for whatever reason and because of this or that blogger, got the most hits.

The Web is such a strange, interesting place, the likes of which have never been seen before in human history. It's such a dynamic place that it's hardly possible to predict what will be the top 10 stories of the year ahead of time, or even what type.

It depends so much on what gets noticed, and what gets forwarded, that developing a plan of action to produce such results is self-defeating.

I would argue that only the Rodoni story, and one or two others, were made popular by primarily local views, and the only ones driven by our paper's traditional news audience. The rest is directly the result of a viral spread.

What does that teach us for driving traffic at the T-S Web site? Beats me, but it sure is fun to watch.

Today's As It Stands: Here We Go Kissing in the New Year

(editor's note: The Times-Standard didn't update their Opinion section in the Online version 12/28. So here it is.)

Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 12/28/2008 01:31:06 AM PST

Have you ever been to a New Year's party where, at the stroke of midnight, everyone started kissing? Who hasn't? It's an old tradition and also a superstition.

In Biblical times the act of kissing or touching ones lips to those of another, or to another person's cheek was a token of affection or respect.

Kissing was common not only between male and female relatives (Genesis 29:11; 31:28), but also between male relatives. (Genesis 27:26, 27; 45:15; Exodus 18:7; 2 Samuel 14:33) It was likewise a gesture of affection between close friends. (1 Samuel 20:41, 42; 2 Samuel 19:39) Kissing might accompany a blessing. (Genesis 31:55)

Historians credit the Romans (are we surprised?) with starting the tradition of kissing and merrymaking on New Year's Eve. They called it the Festival of Saturnalia. Later on, the English and the Germans would celebrate the coming of the new year by kissing the first person they met when the bells chimed twelve.

Europeans have celebrated with masked balls on New Year's Eve for hundreds of years. Tradition says the mask symbolizes evil spirits from the old year and the kiss (after taking off the mask) is an act of purification.

I've always viewed this superstition/tradition with anticipation. What better way to start the new year than with a kiss? Beats a kick, as they say. My first kiss of the year, for the past 34 years, has been for my wife, Shirley.

Before marriage, I went to some pretty odd New Years Eve parties. The saddest one was in 1970, just days before I left for Vietnam. A lot of people kissed me that night, probably thinking they wouldn't see me again.

My buddy and I threw a New Year's Eve costume party three years later, when I was a civilian again, and someone showed up in a frog costume. I think (this was long time ago and it was a good party) he went around telling the women he was really a handsome prince and a kiss would release him from his warty exterior.

To kiss the one dearest to us, at any time, is sublime. On New Year's Eve, it takes on meaning from that last moment of the old year, and gives the promise of a good year ahead. It says you both believe the best is yet to come.

Because Jan. 1st is the first day of the year, people have historically connected what they do on that day with their fate throughout the rest of the year.

Don't attend a New Years party without a date, if you don't want to end up watching everyone else pucker up. Then again, booze doesn't disinfect mouths, and in a room full of strangers you're probably better off kissing the dog when the clock strikes twelve.

If you find yourself at a New Year's party where you have no wish to kiss anyone in the room, there are tactics to it. For example, have something physical in, or over, your mouth. An inhaler, toothpick, or even a surgical mask, will do the job.

Another ploy worth considering is to excuse yourself a few minutes before midnight to take a “head-clearing” walk. You can return after the kissing has stopped. Sometimes retreat is the better part of valor.

This kissing thing at New Year's can be serious stuff. Michael Christian, who wrote “The Art of Kissing” under the pen name William Cane, said the zeal of New Year's Eve can lead to mixed messages and lingering awkwardness. In other words, be careful how you kiss your neighbor's wife when she wanders under the mistletoe.

A recent survey for an American mouthwash manufacturer found that 6 percent of people greeting the New Year at midnight plan to kiss their pets. I find it odd that this statistic isn't higher. There's a lot of animal lovers out there.

I plan to greet the New Year by kissing my wife first, and then my pug. After all, there is a pecking order in our house.

As It Stands, I'd like to wish all my readers a safe and Happy New Year!

Image from

Bush's Legacy: He Leaves us a World that Hates Americans!

Click here to read how America's image has been badly tarnished during his eight years in office.

Find out why the world doesn't like us nowadays. This article in today's Chicago Tribune lays out the whole mess.

Robert Graham, LA sculptor, dies at 90


photos by Bob Chamberlin/LA Times

Robert Graham was known for his major civic monuments across the nation. Most of his work can be found in the LA area, however, as the artist lived in Venice. His legacy is visible all over LA. The largest, and most prominent public work that he did is in LA. Called the "Great Bronze Doors", it is a huge entryway topped by an angel, and was made for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, in 2002.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How many cats do you see in this illusion?

HINT: There's more than 7 of them.

A Writer Tries Not to Use, or Buy, Plastic for One Week

Your probably saying "it doesn't sound that hard." But think about what that really means. No plastics period. "No one can do the whole thing in one week," warned Beth Terry, an accountant from Oakland California, who blogs about trying to live the plastic-free life at

Did the writer manage to do it? Read this article in the Chicago Tribune Online edition to find out, and to get educated on just how much plastics play a part in our everyday routine.

The Snow Plough Business is Booming in a Bad Economy

All we seem to hear about these days are businesses going bankrupt or laying off thousands of employees.

But there's one business that is benefiting from the snowy blanket that covers many northern states right now: the snow plough business.

It just goes to show that one person's misery may be another's gold mine!

Snow plough operators everywhere right now are singing, "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Click here to read how ice is nice for some people.

Friday, December 26, 2008

There's a lot of strange plants on our planet...

        Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants(right). It was discovered in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide in 1818. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It spreads its root-like haustoria inside the tissue of a vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species the flower may be over 100 cm in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kg. The flowers look and smell like rotting meat, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower".


(Above)The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence (group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem) in the world. Due to its fragrance, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant". Below, are a couple of more exotic plants. Photos thanks to Damn Funny Photos (2006).



As It Stands: It's Time to Stop the Government Gravy Train for Corporations

       By Dave Stancliff
       We’ve bailed out the bankers on Wall Street.
       We’ve bailed out Freddie Mack and Fannie Mae.
       We’ve bailed out the Big Three.
       Now the Commercial Real Estate Properties want money.
       When is someone going to bail out me?
       Like Janis Joplin, all I want is a Mercedes Benz.
       Seriously, when do the handouts end?
       When we have no more money to hand out? No, because that’s what we’re doing now. The government is busy printing funny money and spending it faster than it takes the bills to dry.
       This latest example of shoddy management practices begging for relief, comes from Richard Cowden, managing editor of the Real Estate Law and Industry Report. He told NPR “that it’s been a train wreck for the commercial real estate market,” during a recent interview.
       Cowden was talking about getting loans. Whether you are a plumber looking to buy a $20,000 truck or a real estate company looking to refinance a $20 million office building, the credit crisis has made it harder to get a loan now. The banks are giving out less loans this year and playing the Grinch, even though they got their cash infusion from Congress.
       Experts are talking about $400 billion of commercial mortgages that will mature in 12 months. Why should that bother you and I? Michael Grupe, a vice president with the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, says the pipeline for funneling cash into the system has slowed down. “It’s not like there’s been a mild slowdown here. The pipeline is frozen. No money is coming out,” Grupe told the press.
       So now we have to wonder what that means. What is going to happen when hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of commercial real estate can’t get refinanced when it comes due? “We don’t want to find out, “ Grupe said.
         Maybe “we” ought to find out. I’m sick and tired of big business getting massive loans because they can. What happened to declaring bankruptcy these days? It use to be when you couldn’t pay your bills as a businessman your only recourse was to declare bankruptcy.
         Now, for reasons that I suspect are corruption at it’s finest, the big boys are lining up with sob stories and trying to scare Congress and the American people into giving them a handout.
Grupe and others in the real estate industry have been meeting with officials at the Federal Reserve and asking the government for help.
         I’m sure getting tired of hearing that the only way to save the economy is to print more bad money for bad businessmen, who will go on being bad, regardless of the amount given. CEOs are getting their obscene bonus checks while the pink slips trickle down to the rank and file.
         Economists are starting to admit that our current situation is as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression. We all know that it lingered on for years, and what we’re facing now looks like a repeat in the worst way.
         Whose next? Giant entertainment industries like Disneyland? I can just see Goofy stating Disney’s case in Congress. He’ll probably blend in there nicely.
          We can’t keep bailing out every big business that comes asking for funds. It’s just not possible. Businesses are going to have to tough this out and come up with a future model for doing business. But if they keep getting handouts for doing a shoddy job, where’s the incentive for them to change their ways?
         As It Stands, call it tough love, but I think it’s time to stop the government gravy train. 

Global cyber-crime more profitable than illegal drugs

A sure sign of the new millennium is that cyber-crime has passed illegal drugs in world-wide crime according to experts.

Russian hackers are targeting the U.S. and Europe daily, hiding in cyber-rat holes that even the police have been unable to uncover.

The chief international culprits are the Russians and the Chinese. Both have attacked the U.S. Department of Defense computers recently, as well as both Obama's and Mccain's computers during the presidential election.

Even NASA has been attacked repeatedly. But most of these reportedly young and smart hackers crimes come in the following areas; pilfering online bank accounts, swiping Social Security numbers, stealing credit card data and peeking at email log-ins and passwords, are accounting for an estimated $100 million-a-year global cyber-crime business.

Welcome to 21st Century crime.


Lakers celebrate Christmas and beat Celtics 92-83

If you missed this game, you missed the NBA at its best. It was the first time two teams with as few as a combined seven  losses have played against each other.

It was the East leader and the West leader, and the West was best! The Lakers are out to get revenge for last year's NBA Finals Playoff loss.

This was a good way to make a statement. The Lakers are officially prime time!

                     photo by Wally Skalij/LA Times

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008 to my blogger friends and visitors!

The Stancliff Family wishes you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May all of your wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Movie Alert: Watch 'Christmas Vacation'

Looking for a funny Christmas story in keeping with the season?

Watch the Griswold Family "Christmas Vacation." If you ever saw "Family Vacation" then you know you're in for belly laughs when Clark hosts Christmas for the entire family. One of my favorite performers (aside from Chevy Chase) is Randy Quaid who gives a great white trash impersonation.

Best line in the movie was when Quaid's character pointed at his trashy, run down, motorhome, and proudly said, "Now Clark...that there is what they call an RV!" 

My wife and I, watch it every year with our other favorite holiday classics.

 'Tis the season to be merry!  

Christmas can be funny - on a day that may not be sunny!

Political Christmas Song III:Do You See What I See?

(To the tune of “Do You Hear What I hear?")

Said the American people to Congress
“Do you see what I see
way up on Wall Street, the Banks, and the Big Three?”
“Do you see what I see
CEOs dancing in the night
and hugging bonuses under the moon’s light?
and hugging bonuses under the moon’s light?”

Said the taxpayer to The Mighty Fed
“Do you see what I see
a bunch of bankers getting bonus money
Do you see what I see
financial corporations hurting the economy?
financial corporations hurting the economy ?”

Said the average guy to the Mighty President
“Do you see what I see
a wrong war and the loss of my privacy
Do you see what I see
A time for peace in this country?
A time for peace in this country?”

Fan Alert:Lakers and Celtics to play on Christmas Day!

The highly anticipated first encounter between the Los Angeles Lakers and The Boston Celtics this season, is on Christmas Day.

The Lakers may need a Christmas miracle to beat the streaking Celtics who have won a franchise-best 19 straight games. It's a home game for LA and a great opportunity to "make a statement" before the inevitable

Finals meeting between these two conference leaders. East meets West, in what I hope is a highly entertaining contest that ends up as a victory for the Lakers! GO LAKERS! I'll be watching you tomorrow...

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...