Saturday, December 13, 2008

Guess which state gets the dubious honor of being 'most corrupt'

So you think that you know where the most political crooks are coming from, right?

You're sure it's got to be Chicago, for it's machine-style politics and its elected leaders have been under investigation for years. But by one measure, you're wrong. Illinois is not even close to the nation's most-corrupt state.

North Dakota, it turns out, may hold that distinction instead!

Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday after a wiretap allegedly recorded him scheming to make money on his appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich, a Democrat, ran for election in part on cleaning up after his predecessor, Republican George Ryan, who was convicted in 2006 of racketeering, bribery and extortion.

IN ILLINOIS: Obama 'appalled and disappointed' by Blagojevich arrest

"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office, said Tuesday.

 On a per-capita basis, however, Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007, according to Department of Justice.                                                                                                                              

Don Morrison, executive director of the non-partisan North Dakota Center for the Public Good, said it may be that North Dakotans are better at rooting out corruption when it occurs.                                                                                           

                                                                                                                A statue of "Honest John" Burke, governor from 1907 to 1913, stands in front of the North Dakota's state capitol building in Bismarck. North Dakota had the highest rate of public corruption convictions won by federal prosecutors from 1998 through 2007.

I'm working on a AS IT STANDS column for January 2009, which will deal with corrupt politicians and the states that produce them.

Bombs in America: increased usage in crimes climbs

I'm disturbed by the increasing use of bombs in crimes stateside since the Iraqi war. No records have been kept (thus far) on the correlation between the use of bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their use here in the states. All you have to do is follow the headlines from the right coast to the left coast and you can find stories like this one:

DATELINE Woodborn, Oregon - Dec. 13

A bomb blast outside the West Coast Bank Branch of Woodborn, has killed two men, and another is in critical condition. Employees of the bank got a call saying that a bomb had been planted there. Police responded. A state bomb technician and a local police officer where killed instantly when the bomb - which was located outside the bank in some bushes - went off unexpectedly. The town's police chief is in critical condition at a local hospital. Authorities say there are no suspects.

MY TAKE ON THIS - Someone wanted to kill cops. Why else would someone plant the bomb outside and no where near the bank's vault? I also suspect it was remote detonated, a trick that the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan use on a daily basis. The technology is out there.

MY MILITARY BACKROUND - I was a Combat Engineer (31st Eng.Battalion), and demolition was my primary MOS. I spent many grueling days sweeping mud roads for enemy bombs in Vietnam and Cambodia. I also searched many villages for hidden booby traps that ranged from holes filled with sharpened punji sticks and covered over, to "Bouncing Betties" carefully concealed near tunnel entrances.

If "Charlie" would have used remote detonation (after all the technology was there several decades ago) I wouldn't be writing this blog right now! My guardian angel was looking out for me back then. I once stepped on a weight detonated French landmine, out of sheer stupidity and exhaustion (I didn't spot the indentation).

My squad leader told me to freeze when I first stepped on it. We both knew at about the same time that I may have made a very bad mistake. He ordered the rest of the squad off the dirt road and pulled out his K-bar and started probing around my foot.

As the seconds ticked by I pissed my pants in terror, not yet aware I was too light to set it off. Finally, my squad leader looked at the partially exposed landmine and gave a sigh of relief. "It's a tank mine," he said. "You have to weigh over 500 pounds to set it off." He got up and told me to go ahead and jump when he did. The rest is history.

SUMMARY - The scary thing is how small bombs are these days - note the illustration of the shoe bomb - and how the ability to make them has become common knowledge. The Internet, with it's never-ending flow of knowledge, doesn't morally discern about such things as making bombs or making nasty birthday cakes. 


Young children are not always excited to see Santa Clause!

   Especially if he's not real!

Conservative media is lying about auto workers wages

United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger (right), said the UAW is willing to renegotiate and change its contracts with U.S. Auto makers.

He said the union would accept payments of billions of dollars to a union-run health care trust to do its part to help the struggling companies secure $34 billion in government loans.

The House passed the Big Three's request for $34 billion dollar loan but the Senate killed it.

Meanwhile, the conservative media is circulating lies about what the auto workers really make. They keep using a number of $70-per hour, which is inaccurate.

How did the misinformation start about what the workers got? I'll tell you who, what, and when, the lies started in this Sunday's AS IT STANDS in the Times-Standard.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gates Memo Announces Final Assimilation of National Guard and Reserve

The Gates memo declares that it will make changes with state governors and representatives "as appropriate" which is code for including only those persons who are amenable to federal control, and naturally exclude any governor or representative who truly asserts their rights and those of the People.

Last October's AS IT STANDS column, "American In Crisis: Are We Preparing For Martial Law" is still moving through cyberspace and I noticed it came up on the Times-Standard Topix Forum this afternoon.

I still get emails from people around the country in response to this column.

Now, as the Gates memo is examined, you can see what I'm talking about. What's really going on? Alex Jones' Inforwar blog has this interesting article on the subject. Just click here and see for yourself.

Meditations on Millie My Pug...

The graphite drawing to the right is not Millie. She doesn't want her cute little face spread around, so I had to settle for this drawing of an unknown Pug. Millie is going on five-years-young and is a vital, full of life, little character.

She is my daily companion. If it wasn't for Millie I wouldn't take long walks everyday, because I'm basically lazy! But when she starts pawing at me (usually around noon), I don't have the heart to turn her down. She loves her walks!

When we first started walking together I only took her short distances, thinking that I didn't want to wear her little legs to nubbins. It wasn't long however, before I realized that she could out walk me any day of the week!

Needless to say, she is in good shape, and all the male dogs on our walks howl with delight when she prances by. And she does prance! You should see her take on for those mutts! She has a habit of speed walking, that I still haven't got slowed down to a casual stroll yet. She takes me for a walk.

I realize that at her age, some things aren't going to change. And she is very pugnacious. If she wants to act stupid, she does it very well, like a clown you might say. She turns her head one way then another regarding you with those bulging brown eyes, when you ask her to do something.

One of the many things I love about Millie is how she seems to sense my moods, and acts accordingly. If I'm sad she snuggles me and licks my face. When I'm happy her little tail is curled tight and she's happy. When she's bummed-out her corkscrew tail hangs straight down. A sure sign. I usually give her a treat, or pet her a lot, and she perks right up.

They say dogs are man's best friend. I have to agree. Their absolute love and loyalty to you, is without bounds. I can talk to her and she never judges me. At times, I swear she understands me when I ramble on. Kinda like I'm doing right now.... 

It took nine years and 24 generations to get these little pigs


Pennywell miniature pigs are bred by Pennywell farms in Buckfastleigh, Devon, England. The spotted pigs grow no bigger than a Cocker Spaniel. Most are sold as pets. It took Chris Murray 9 years and 24 generations to create these mini pigs. These pictures are the smallest the farm has produced. Thanks to fuzztime for these photos.


Photos taken at just the right moment can be very deceiving

Coincidence Photography gives being in the right place at the right time new meaning!
These pictures are not photoshopped, instead relying on clever angels, waiting for just the right moment, or perhaps a bit of luck.
Thanks to million place for showing us these.


Lifting the moon is a big job...                I can't see you, but I know you're there...


Hairstyles changed while you wait...   Ssssshhhhh! I think someone is listening.


Senate Republicans kill auto bailout bill: Now What?


Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), left, George Voinovich (R- Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) speak with reporters following the Senate's rejection of an emergency $14 billion loan bailout for US auto companies. Photo by Haraz N. Ghanbari

Bettie Pages Dies at 85, 1960s Pinup Queen Was a Cult Figure

Historians say that Bettie Page played a key role in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and later on she became a cult figure.

Over 20,000 saucy photos of her were taken by a slew of amateur photographers.

 Most of the popular 4-by-5 inch black and white photos were taken between 1949 and 1957, and featured her in high heels, bikinis, negligees, bondage apparel, and even nude.

Her popularity has inspired biographers, comic books, fan clubs, websites, commercial products, playing cards, action figures, Zippo lighters with her image, and naughty shot glasses.

In 2005 a film of her life came out called "The Notorious Bettie Page."

Goodbye Bettie. You have certainly made your mark!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How many times have 'you been there' without one?

I can't tell you how many times I've been up that creek without a paddle in my adventuresome life. It's sure nice to know that there is a place where you can get a paddle when you need one!

Which of these superheros has the coolest costume?


          The Phantom                                                 Wolverine



                   Batman                                                      Spiderman

Can you guess what is being loaded onto this airplane ?

Believe it or not...this big thing being loaded unto the airplane is a computer hard disk in 1956!






Here's a couple of custom 2008 hard drives.

Woman Attacks Man: He Didn't Want To Have Sex With Her!


DECEMBER 10--Meet Brittany Phillips. Early Saturday morning, the 19-year-old Louisiana woman wanted some sex from her boyfriend.

 But Todd Stewart, 35, was apparently not in the mood. In fact, he tried to push Phillips off of him in the bedroom of the pair's West Monroe home. That much the couple can agree upon, according to Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office reports.

Phillips claims Stewart became violent after rebuffing her advances. Stewart told an investigator that he left the bedroom to sleep on a living room couch, but that Phillips "would not leave him alone." At some point, he added, things got physical and he was stabbed in the lower lip with "a long metal object which appeared to be a knife."

 For her part, the frisky Phillips acknowledged to Deputy Shane Smith that she struck Stewart, but said it was done "to protect herself." Phillips, pictured above in a mug shot, was charged with aggravated battery, while a bloody Stewart (above),  was charged with simple battery. Phillips was also booked on a pair of outstanding warrants, for simple battery and damage to property

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A race to benefit our future - another to remember our past

          Two big car races coming up next year will have something for everyone in America. I’m not talking NASCAR here. These two races represent wildly opposite sides of the experience of owning and driving a car.

The first race, set for April 2009, is a competition to promote fuel-efficient vehicles. It’s a race for Progressive Automobile X Prize and the winners  will drive across America in vehicles that exceed 100 mpg with some strict emissions caps.

The one that finishes with the fastest time, like any race, will be the winner.

This winner will get $10 million dollars. In case you think you can run into your garage and whip up an entry, forget it.

It’s open to big and small car manufacturers. The race is sponsored by the X PRIZE Foundation, an educational non-profit institute whose mission is to promote radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.
        Among 70 teams from 12 countries is Tata Motors Limited of the United Kingdom. I recently wrote about their relationship with Motor Development International (MDI), and the production of air cars in India. For more information, Google , an informative site for the scoop on compressed-air-technology vehicles. This race will have two classes; mainstream and alternative. Tata Motors will probably enter their air car in the mainstream category. You don’t get any cleaner than zero emissions, and that’s what this country really needs.
       On the home front, Western Washington University and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies Inc. of Chicago, think they have a winning entry. Canada weighs in with an entry from Motive Industries.
        This race is set to start in New York City. The route is booked through nine major cities and the organizers are still looking for other cities to host stages of this year-long competition. I hope this race may prove that a viable alternative to fossil fuels can be mass produced soon.
        Then there’s another race with nothing at stake.
          An organization called Great Race Sports has announced that they will hold a re-enactment of the original Great Race of 1908 from New York to Paris.

They were hoping to do it this year, but you’ll never guess what happened. The Chinese government revoked travel permits for foreigners throughout their country after demonstrations in Tibet over the Olympic Torch Run.
          So the Great Race won’t have it’s 100-year anniversary re-enactment right on time, but better late than never. When the old gas guzzlers get going next year the destination will be Los Angeles, where they’ll  pay some of the highest gas prices in the country. I don’t know if that will dampen their spirits, but if they can afford to drive those antiques across the country I guess the price of gas isn’t an issue.
           The organizers are careful to point out that they will follow the original route, which  ought to be interesting. There have been a few changes in the highway system since 1908. Antique car lovers will swoon when those beauties cruise through their towns.
         A funny spoof of this race was a 1965 movie, called appropriately, “The Great Race.” It starred Jack Lemon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, and won four Oscars.
          I find the differences between these two races to be ironic, and perhaps a social statement. We still revere our gas guzzlers in spite of the economy and global warming..
           Whoever wins the Automotive X Prize, I hope they mass produce their entry for the immediate benefit of the American people. We really need an alternate energy vehicle.
           I’m not against having some fun. The Great Race re-enactment promises to entertain car buffs across the nation. However, the X Prize race obviously  has more to offer all of us than  a nostalgic ride in some shiny gas hogs.
           Next year I’ll follow the progress of these two wildly different races and if they both actually happen, I’ll share the results with you.
          As It Stands, in this competitive world it seems like we’re all in some kind of race.

Four Seasons are cleverly combined in these photographs


The four seasons are depicted in each photo using a little digital magic I presume.

Thanks to Spluch for the pictures. You could call it unreal beauty!


The Good News: Dubya's Days are Numbered - 41 & counting!

Like millions of other Americans, I'm thrilled to see Dubya's departure from Washington isn't long now.

True to form, he's busy trying to sneak in last-minute laws to benefit his cronies. But, don't worry. He'll be checkmated by Congress though. I checked.

The world is not going to miss this clown. His legacy will be that he's the worst president this country ever had! In eight short years, he and Cheney have pillaged federal funds and deregulated financial markets, leading to our modern Depression.

I wish people would quit calling it a "recession" and other bullshit buzz names. That's Republican talk. Reality says it's a Depression. Yes...we have a lot to thank Dubya for. 

Philanthropist creates mobile shelters for homeless people


Peter Samuelson (above) invented the EDAR - Everyone Deserves A Roof - to meet the needs of homeless people. Samuelson, who is also a film producer - "Revenge of the Nerds" - saw the need for a snug shelter for people who are homeless. The EDAR is a cross between a shopping cart and a pop-up camper.

According to a 2007 homeless census there are 73,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone. A year ago, Samuelson created the EDAR Foundation whose slogan is, "Thinking Outside The Box." The EDAR was developed and currently costs about $500 a unit, which Samuelson thinks will go down to $400 a unit when mass produced.

Three months ago he gave out 60 of the units for testing purposes. By working with charities, like the Mission in downtown LA, he was able to identify people with the most need of the EDAR. His hope is that more organizations will buy the units to give out to those in desperate need.

Samuelson, who started the Starlight Foundation three years ago, is a man who believes in helping others with his wealth. The Starlight Foundation is an international charity that provides psychological and social services to seriously ill children and their families. For more information about the EDAR Google

All I can say about this wonderful man is "The planet needs more people like him!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Outstanding Original Origami Artwork by Taketori


The ancient art of origami dictates that you can only use one piece of paper, and

that no glue or clips can be used. It's amazing how this art is created by folding it

numerous times. Photos from "Damn Cool Pics." 


Here's a sophisticated home defense system in disguise

So you're lying on the couch when you hear someone trying to get in your front door!

You jump up, grab the end-table/weapon, and in the dark (mind you) you take it apart and are ready for war with however comes through that door!

When friends come by and ask about your odd end table you can take them into your confidence and display the table's hidden function. What fun!

Can you imagine the perplexed home invader when he sees you standing there with a table top attached to your arm and the leg clutched in your steady hand?

That will give him pause...before he shoots you!

Jet crashes into San Diego neighborhood: three known dead

A F/A-18D Hornet from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, was on a routine training mission when something went wrong with one of the engines. It was trying to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar when the pilot had to eject as the plan spiraled downward. The pilot was unhurt.

Illinois Gov. Blagojevich arrested & charged with corruption!

Governor Rod Blagojevich was charged yesterday with conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. Senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.

  He was also charged with threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Cubs.

The FBI produced a 76-page affidavit detailing the charges against Blagojevich. Court-authorized wiretaps have revealed the information over a three-year period.

 The wire taps were in place right up to this month. The irony of this sting operation is that Blagojevich made public comments about possibly being wire-tapped last month.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Experts say there are numerous way to protect your job...



Times are hard and people are doing everything theycan to keep their jobs.

I've heard that you are supposed to make yourself invaluable to your boss by multi-tasking.

 Beside always being on time, and always ready to get the boss a cop of coffee, employees must be prepared to do what it takes to please their boss.

 Brown-nosing is now the 21st Century tool for keeping your job.

 A good brown-noser can expect to be the last one laid off before the company goes kaput!

Monday Musings: what's popular with readers recently

This last week has seen the post "Optical Illusions: How many faces can you count?" go International and National, as readers puzzled over it.

 I got my first visitor from China yesterday - Shenzhen, Guangdong, China - and whoever it was, they enjoyed the Optical Illusion post.

 A reader from Madres, Tamil Nadu, India, was another Optical Illusion viewer. Someone in orebro, Orebro Lan, Sweden, also stopped by to check out the Optical Illusion post.

A Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia, reader stopped to read about my post on chess - RETI Gambit Opening Theme and fun way to fight the French Defense.

Painting by Penguins and other Animals, was viewed by a reader in Bergen, Hordaland, Norway.

My post on - Slinky Co-Founder, Betty James, passes away at 90 - was viewed by some in Makati, Rizal, Philippines. A viewer from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, found the - Monster Pumpkin Feeds on Lesser Gourds! - post amusing. Another viewer from Staffordshire, United Kingdom, found the - Graffiti Art Stretches Across America's Ghettos - interesting.

A couple of Canadians - one from Ottawa, Ontario, and the other from Mission, British Columbia, stopped by two visit. The first looked at the post - Watch Out For Weird Trick-or-Treaters -  and the other one checked out - Looking Like Christmas at Nana and Papa's House.

Other international readers in the last 48 hours include, Dechtice Trnava, Slovakia; Woking Surrey, United Kingdom; Cardiff, United Kingdom; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Bradford, United Kingdom; Quebec, Canada; Raahe Oulu, Finland, and Elgin Moray, United Kingdom.

Tribune Company is exploring bankruptcy filing

         The company that owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Cubs baseball team is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing as it attempts to renegotiate $12 billion in debt with banks and other creditors, a Tribune Co. executive said Sunday.

Tribune and many other newspaper owners, already hurting from the migration of advertising revenue to the Internet, have suffered even bigger setbacks amid the broad economic downturn.

Other media companies, such as Freedom Communications Inc., which operates the Orange County Register, have been struggling with their debt.

The newspaper industry continues to see extraordinary declines in ad revenues, and Tribune is no exception.
The company -- owner of eight newspapers, 23 television stations and other assets, including a share of the Food Network -- has laid off hundreds of employees and combined operations in an attempt to pay its bills.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a tangled web spiders weave when you get them high!

I'm not sure how old this article is, but I suspect that it dates back to the late sixties or mid-seventies.

 NASA experiments have always intrigued me, and the fact that they were busy giving different kinds of dope to spiders really makes this one a classic.

The caption suggested that getting spiders high would lead to some toxicity-testing technique.

That's just one reason I suspect this is an old article. Nowadays you can go to any pharmacy and buy a bottle of stuff that will tell you if you got marijuana, or practically anything else, in your system.

 The new "pee and see" system just might owe these early experiments with drugged spiders a debt!

The premise was certainly simple. Get a spider high on numerous substances, and see what each one makes him do to his web! See diagrams to the right.

What's not clear is why they used spiders, instead of mammals.As far as I know we're not too close on the evolutionary chain to spiders/insects, although I have met some people who think like insects (specialization is their forte).

Among the earthshaking data that came out of this undoubtedly million dollar research project, is that the more toxic a substance, the more the spider screws things up and loses the normally beautiful symmetry his web displays.

I have to admit that I'm somewhat skeptical as to the value of this NASA research project, but what do I know? I'm no rocket scientist! 

Today in the Times-Standard : Hate Groups show growth

How far have we really come in regards to racial hatred in America today?

On one hand we've elected the first African-American President, and on the other, He (Obama) is being hung in effigy, and the target for assassination pools across the country.

The KKK is bragging about their sudden re-emergence with overloaded web sites devoted to hatred.

The FBI has been tracking the progress of these hate groups and are reporting a huge increase in racially motivated incidents throughout America.

 So how far have we really come?

See today's AS IT STANDS - click here - in the Times-Standard.

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...