Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review: News

Remember when President Barack Obama got sworn in? How about when pirates took a U.S. cargo ship captain captive? See these and more top moments that made headlines in 2009.

               JAN 15: US Airways plane river landing

( Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images )

“Rescue boats float near a US Airways plane floating in the water after crashing into the Hudson River in the afternoon on January 15, 2009 in New York City. The Airbus 320 flight 1549 crashed shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport heading to Charlotte, North Carolina.”

    Wednesday, December 30, 2009

    That joint? It's all in the name of research

    Writing isn't all done at a keyboard. And if your protagonist is a pot grower, well . . . please excuse the cloud of smoke.

    In my novel "Baked," I tell the story of a young underground botanist from Los Angeles -- a man inspired by Floyd Zaiger, inventor of the pluot -- and what happens when he wins the Cup and returns home to find himself caught in a tug of war between medical marijuana dispensaries who want an exclusive on his strain.” - Mark Haskell Smith

    Go here to read the whole article.

    Image titled “Cannabis Cup” by Jacob Thomas

    Putting 2009 behind us and looking forward to 2010

    Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

    Posted: 12/30/2009 01:27:11 AM PST

    People still wander in a financial haze after the expensive holidays, with little time to rest or recover before the new year roars in with new days to celebrate and spend money.

    Some experts say the economy is recovering, and they cite all kinds of startling statistics that only exist on paper. Very few have any relevance to reality.

    Our reality in 2009 was grim. We drained another generation's blood with wars that cripple our economy and contribute to our crumbling infrastructure. They drag on, remnants of failed policies that we're still stubbornly trying to make work.

    Go here to read the rest at The Times-Standard.

    Tuesday, December 29, 2009

    10 Reasons the U.S. Military Should (Officially) Use Pot

     Medical marijuana may have a host of advantages over other treatments for traumatized vets, but the VA won't even study its efficacy.

     Excerpt from AlterNet:

    Me and the rest of my veterans' group talk about it all the time," he says. "Most of them also medicate with marijuana. If you asked any of us what, out of everything, was most effective in PTSD treatment, we would tell you marijuana." But the VA is a federal agency, so even in the 13 states where doctors are at liberty to suggest that patients try marijuana, they are prohibited from dispensing it.” 

    Read more here.

    Psychologists: Those in power more apt to 'moral hypocrisy'

    Power increases "moral hypocrisy," says Adam Galinsky, a behavioral psychologist at the Kellogg School of Management atNorthwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and co-author of a study published today in the journal Psychological Science. Go here to read the rest.'s Best Viral Videos of the Decade

    Check out this interesting list of the the best viral videos of the decade from

    Since is a news website and doesn't focus on humor, their top pick wouldn't jive on this site, though the "Yes We Can" video is certainly one of the best pieces of video content to ever be created for the Internet.

    You might recognize several of the humorous viral video choices as they appeared on my Top 20 Viral Videos of All Time list. Consensus! Yay!

    But guys, no Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama video? Oversight of the, uh, decade!

    photo courtesy of

    TMZ Falls For JFK Photo Hoax

    Photo that "could have changed history" actually from a Playboy shoot

    “In a colossal screw-up, the gossip web site TMZ published a photo yesterday purporting to show John F. Kennedy frolicking on a yacht with a harem of naked women--except that the image actually appeared as part of a November 1967 Playboy photo spread, The Smoking Gun has learned.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Top 10: New Year's Resolutions All Men Should Make

    1.Visit a new destination

    The No. 1 resolution for 2010 is about taking yourself outside your comfort zone, broadening your horizons and checking out a new corner of the world.

    The quickest way to cure listlessness or boredom is to put yourself in the crosshairs of an adventure. Whether you have a dream destination in mind or you simply throw a dart at a map of the world, going somewhere new is the most important New Year’s resolution all men should make.

    Even if you hate traveling, you can still do this. Visiting somewhere new can even include the restaurant you walk past every day, the local museum or the next town over.
    If you need help finding a place to go to bring in 2010, check out our Top 10: 2010 New Year's Eve Destinations and if you need more convincing to go somewhere this year, read our Top 10: Reasons All Men Should Travel.

    Go here to read the rest.

    Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Putting 2009 behind us and looking forward to 2010

    Note: The Times-Standard didn’t have this column Online yet this morning, so I’m running the whole thing here today.

    Update: Someone really screwed up! My column isn’t even in the print edition.

             By Dave Stancliff
      People still wander in a financial haze after the expensive holidays, with little time to rest or recover before the new year roars in with new days to celebrate and spend money.

    Some experts say the economy is recovering, and they cite all kinds of startling statistics that only exist on paper. Very few have any relevance to reality.
          Our reality in 2009 was grim. We drained another generation’s blood with wars that cripple our economy and contribute to our crumbling infrastructure. They drag on, remnants of failed policies that we’re still stubbornly trying to make work.
         Our politicians were so polarized this year that nothing meaningful was done for the common citizen who struggles to survive in this brutal economy. For Wall Street bankers it was a great year and they passed out fat bonuses to prove it. 
       This is the time of year when many of us look back upon the past year and wonder what the new one holds. On the days leading up to January 1st some of us make personal resolutions that will fade away like fog as the year progresses. 
        In fairness, lots of people have enough fortitude to keep the promises they make to themselves. These people are usually the successful ones, the makers and shakers, and this country was once chock full of them.
       There was actually a time when we produced nearly all our needs, and didn’t have huge trade deficits. In the 1950s we were a manufacturing powerhouse and people were proud to own anything made here.
       Those days are now faint memories with black-and-white photos as proof our country was once a major superpower without equal. I wonder, do history teachers talk about our pride back then, and how productive we were, and all the jobs that were available, in their classes now?
       Today we have the so-called global economy, and our leaders tell us their vision of a one-world economy/society is good for us. I look around and see cheap manufactured goods from  countries like China, our major trading partner in 2009, who delivered their latest rip-off in massive quantities; dry wall laced with toxic chemicals.
      From what I have read and heard, the Chinese  own billions in American debt. We must have bean-counters in Washington who live in fear that China will suddenly call in their markers. When their gamble with our money fails, will we all be speaking Chinese as a first language in ten years?
       It’s not all bad news. Lots of good things happened in 2009. There were signs that Americans are ready to legalize marijuana. California will lead the way when that day comes. Several petitions are circulating for legalization to be on the ballot next year.
      The polls point out that a majority of Californians are ready to end the prohibition of pot. Numerous studies show marijuana’s effectiveness in fighting multiple cancers. The American Medical Association asked the feds to ease up their assault on medical marijuana and to do more research into its medical applications.
       I’ve read and seen some heart-warming stories this year about people-helping people. I have a new hero for my annual list. Her name is Betty Chin. If you don’t know about her, or what she has done for people over the years, take a moment and check out The 2009 Minerva Awards homepage online.
       In October, Betty Chin was awarded this honor for her work with the homeless in Eureka. Betty has been quietly showing love, comfort, and basic humanity to people for many years now. She escaped from China during the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s, and has devoted her life to helping others. This woman walks-the-walk and talks-the-talk.
      This year has gone by too fast for me. An old man’s complaint. We have a new president who has already disappointed me by sending more troops to Afghanistan. 
       It will take a lot of good men and women in the right places to get us out of these wars. It will take politicians who listen to the people who voted them in, rather than the lobbyists who currently poison our political system. It will also take a unified America to make any progress, whether it’s healthcare or warfare.
       We should have term limits for all politicians. That scares them silly. They’d have to make their time in office more productive and less partisan, and they wouldn’t have to start campaigning for their next term halfway through their current term. We need to stop repeating the same mistakes and prioritizing the same failed policies, by the same people.
       As It Stands, the new year traditionally represents change, and the hope that things will get better. I wish you a happy and a safe New Year!

    Saturday, December 26, 2009

    Murray’s mousing career is off to a slow start…

     …and all through the house the only thing stirring was a mouse …

    on Murray the kitty!

    Peace On earth!


    The Top 10 Everything of 2009

    1. Sweden Burns Bunnies for Fuel

    Read more here:

    The Top 10 Everything of 2009

    Top 10 Oddball News Stories

    Passengers help foil attack on Detroit-bound plane

    This whole thing sounds like it would have made a great movie: 

    “An attempted terrorist attack on a Christmas Day flight began with a pop and a puff of smoke — sending passengers scrambling to subdue a Nigerian man who claimed to be acting on orders from al-Qaida to blow up the airliner, officials and travelers said.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    AP – This picture provided by J.P. Karas shows Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on the runway after arriving.

    Friday, December 25, 2009

    Merry Christmas readers and bloggers!

    I hope that all of you are enjoying your holiday. It’s hard to believe that another Christmas is here…and soon will pass.

    Peace On Earth and Good Will To All!

    Beverages: Spirits not so bright this holiday season

    Liquor companies' sales fall as consumers go out less and opt for cheaper brands.

    Derrick Hale replenishes stock at Emilio's Beverage Warehouse in Bellflower. Sales of distilled spirits fell in the first half of November from a year earlier. (Photo by Robert Lachman, LA Times /December 22, 2009)

    The people running the nation's large liquor companies may need a few stiff drinks right about now. Go here to see why.

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    A poem: Christmas in America circa 2009

    Christmas in America circa 2009

    strands of colored lights stretching from coast to coast
    people boasting about who has the most
    it’s Christmas in America

    credit cards deck check-out lines in every store
    despite the economy or bills waiting in January, people buy more
    because it’s Christmas in America

    it’s a white Christmas for many states this year
    travelers stuck in airports find it hard to be of good cheer
    this Christmas in America

    financial types tell us, as we wait in long lines at the dollar store
    that we’re coming out of this recession and were really not poor
    this Christmas in America

    minimum wage Santas in Malls bounce children on their knees
    in nearly every house there are brightly decorated trees
    for Christmas in America

    corrupt pols beneath mistletoes with lobbyists, and who knows?
    Our fates lie with greedy Grinches in government and other
    this Christmas in America

    homeless veterans, cast-offs from three wars, litter the streets
    with other victims of society as we enjoy holiday sweets
    living here during Christmas in America

    in recent times, Jesus climbed down from the Christmas tree
    disgusted with the gift-giving capitalistic frenzy
    that’s Christmas in America

    -Dave Stancliff

    Boy finally reunited with dad in Brazil after custody battle

    David Goldman has fought for his son for five years. The family that held him made sure to make a big production out of returning him to his father with the press and thousands of spectators watching.

    The classy thing to do would have been to take the lawyers advice, and make the switch in private somewhere so there wouldn’t be a dog and pony show like what happened.

    It took a financial threat to the trade agreement between the USA and Brazil before Brazilian authorities finally stepped up to the letter of the law. The family that held Sean were abductors, yet they got away with what they did because the Dad was a well-connected lawyer.

    The judges have been in his pocket since day one. Hopefully, Sean can now lead a normal life with his biological father.

    Excerpt from USA TODAY:

    “A New Jersey man and his 9-year-old son were reunited Thursday in Brazil after a 5-year international custody battle, and immediately headed home to spend Christmas in the United States.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    Bianchi family photo of Sean Goldman via Reuters

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Woman Allegedly Threatened Michelle Obama

    This photo provided by the U.S. Secret Service shows Kristy Lee Roshia. Authorities say Roshia, accused of threatening to kill first lady Michelle Obama, is in federal custody in Honolulu as the Obama family plans to travel to Hawaii.

    A woman accused of telling the Secret Service she would "blow away" Michelle Obama was in federal custody Tuesday as the Obama family planned to travel to Hawaii.
    Kristy Lee Roshia, 35, was charged with threatening a family member of the president and assaulting a federal agent after being arrested Saturday less than two miles from the Kailua home where the Obama family planned to stay during a holiday visit later this week.”  Go here to read the rest at CBS

    The photo above was provided by the U.S. Secret Service and it shows Kristy Lee Roshia.(AP Photo/US Secret Service)

    Court: Inmates must endure sheriff's Christmas music

    “Sheriff Joe Arpaio -


    "toughest sheriff"

    in America - likes Christmas music, especially "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and apparently he thinks the 8,000 inmates inside his Phoenix jail should, too.” Go here to read the story.

    Photo and related story via Department of the Offense –Taking It Back

    BlackBerry e-mail service restored for some after 2nd North American outage in a week

    Trouble in tech-land. Earlier this year there was another problem with Blackberries that left customers snarling.

    But millions of people love their little Blackberries and temporary outages, or disruptions of service, are taken in stride.

    The Chicago Tribune gives details on the latest malfunction.


    Research In Motion Ltd. said Wednesday the root cause is still under review but its preliminary analysis has determined there was a flaw in two recently released versions of its BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging software.” Go here to read the rest.

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Does Christmas Need to Be Saved?

    The following article ran in the New York Times in 2004. I’m bringing it up again because the debate about taking religion out of Christmas still goes on today.

    What do you say? Should Jesus Christ climb down from the Christmas Tree this year?

    Or, should Christmas continue to mix the secular with the religious parts of the holiday?


    “A pastor in Raleigh, N.C., took out a full-page newspaper ad in November exhorting Christians to shop only at stores that included "Merry Christmas" in their promotions.” Go here to read the rest.

    Report: FBI probes theft of tens of millions after hackers attack Citigroup

    The FBI is investigating a hacker attack on Citigroup Inc. that led to the theft of tens of millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported Today

    Citing anonymous government officials, the Journal reported that the hackers were connected to a Russian cyber gang. Two other computer systems, at least one of connected to a U.S. government agency, were also attacked.
    Citigroup denied the report. "We had no breach of the system and there were no losses, no customer losses, no bank losses," said Joe Petro, managing director of Citigroup's Security and Investigative services. "Any allegation that the FBI is working a case at Citigroup involving tens of millions of losses is just not true."
    The Journal reported that the attack on Citigroup's Citibank subsidiary was detected over the summer, although it may have occurred up to one year earlier. The FBI, the
    National Security Agency, the Homeland Security Department and Citigroup worked together to investigate the attack.
    Cyber crime is of increasing concern to businesses and the federal government, with
    President Barack Obama calling it one of the "most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation."
    Obama is expected to announce today the appointment of Howard A. Schmidt, a former
    eBay and Microsoft executive, as the government's cyber security coordinator.

    Via Associated Press release

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Maine Wants to Add Warnings to Cellphone Packaging

     My June 7th, 2009 column in The Times-Standard on cell phone dangers, “Are young people facing a brain cancer epidemic caused by cell phones?” was one of the few “mainstream” articles on the subject ran by any major newspaper in the nation this year.

     The cell phone industry has managed to put off controversy about the health care effects of using cell phones thus far with massive lobbying efforts designed to hide the science behind the concerns.

    Cracks are appearing in the cell phone lobby’s claims however, and the industry’s assertions that they are safe. They may lead to a major shake-up someday in how we use these handy devices.

    I want to thank The Times-Standard for having the guts to allow me to run my warning about cell phones. It wasn’t the kind of article local cell phone advertisers wanted to see for sure. But it ran. Special thanks to Managing Editor Kimberly Wear for putting it in print. You can’t hide the truth forever…

    Here’s the tip of the iceberg:

    The state of Maine has declared its intentions to be the very first state in the country to add warnings to all cell phone packages. As you might have heard before, many scientific studies claim that cell phones’ electromagnetic radiation can cause brain cancer. The proposal will be discussed at a  January 2010 session that is “usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills,” says Glenn Adams from The Huffington Post.

    A similar effort is taking place in the city of San Francisco, California. Mayor Gavin Newsom wants San Francisco to become the first city in the nation to require warnings.” Go here to read more at Erictric via The Huffington Post via CrunchGear

    WTO: China unfairly restricting American products

     A couple of weeks ago I did a column It’s as simple as ABC: ‘You get what you pay for’ in which I discussed America’s trade relationship with China.

    Space restrictions kept me from exploring all the problems we have with the Chinese. When it comes to importing and exporting products, we’re getting royally shafted!

    This story ran in USA Today and it examines just how lopsided our arrangement with China has been.

    I was surprised to see, according to the related news article below, that China is our 2nd biggest trade partner. Can you guess who our number #1 trade partner is?


    The World Trade Organization's top arbitrators upheld a ruling that China is illegally restricting imports of U.S. music, films and books, and Washington pushed forward with a new case accusing China of manipulating the prices for key ingredients in steel and aluminum production.

    Monday's verdict by the WTO's appellate body knocked down China's objections to an August decision that came down decisively against Beijing's policy of forcing American media producers to route their business through state-owned companies.

    If China fails over the next year to bring its practices in line with international trade law, the U.S. can ask the WTO to authorize commercial sanctions against Chinese goods.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    In a related news, prior to President Obama’s visit to China, the Wall Street Journal’s Online edition ran this story.

    Can you spell irony?

    Lobbyists perform lobotomies upon health care bill

    During my morning coffee routine (where I pour the first cup over my head) I read the following story in the LA Times.

    This story points out the reality behind the whole health care debate: lobbyists are making a mockery of the supposed reform on health care. They’ve been in charge since day one.

    You have to go beyond the normal squabbling between the Dems and Pubs to understand what has been happening throughout this process.

    Behind the scenes, where power is really wielded today, there is no concern for Americans without insurance. Proof? Just look at this latest abomination the Dems passed. People are going to be fined for NOT having insurance! That’s pure bullshit. And proof of the lobbyist influence.

    Check this story out: 

    Familiar faces among health industry lobbyists

    Many of them used to work in the Capitol as aides or as lawmakers themselves.

    “David Nexon had a big problem. An early version of national healthcare legislation contained a $40-billion tax aimed squarely at members of the medical device trade association he represents.
    Nexon, a former advisor to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), went to work. He marshaled 14 people like himself -- lobbyists who were once congressional aides, many of them from staffs of congressional leaders or committees that had a hand in crafting the healthcare overhaul.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Pass me the positive news stories, please

    By Dave Stancliff

     For The Times-Standard

    Posted: 12/20/2009 01:27:22 AM PST

     Good things happen in the world every day, but they are seldom reported in the major media news outlets. Not even for the holidays.

     Bad news dominates what we hear and read at every turn. Just look at the headlines on any given day; “Tiger Woods cheats on his wife -- repeatedly” or “Five car bombs in Bagdad kill hundreds.”

    Really terrible news produces documentaries or is made into Hollywood movies to satisfy public bloodlust and morbid curiosity. Do you know why violence and bad news are so pervasive today?

    The answer? We feed the frenzy. The media, the entertainment world, sports scandals and the seamy world of politicians are all daily items that bring us down, but we choose to follow them. Not all of us, of course, but the masses, like ravaging hyenas, call for the gloom and doom that sells books and movies like 2012, a “thriller” depicting the entire earth under siege from elements gone berserk!

    Go here to read the rest.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Cussing in German : "Schimpfwörter"

    A while back I listed some French cuss words that brought readers back for months afterward. It seems people are interested in refining their anger at times!

    I have a cousin who lives in Germany who I bet could tell me words that aren’t even listed here (or in the link I provided). What do you say Perry?

    Note that in general, German is a very lenient cussing language. Seven-year-olds readily use the equivalent for "shit" in front of their mothers. It's just hard to get the same severity as in English. 

    There are more nasty names that I won’t list here, but if you go here you can read the ones that really mean business!


    House passes Bay Area lawmaker's bill to turn down volume of noisy TV ads

    Wow! So it is possible to get a bipartisan vote these days. Look at the subject though: irritating loud commercials. How can anyone vote to keep them?

    The English banned loud commercials last year.

    I’m not letting this moment excite me too much as this was hardly reflective of what our legislators do when it comes to an important issues.

    Excerpt from Dec. 15th Contra Costa Times:

    Showing bipartisan opposition to blaring TV commercials, the House on Tuesday decisively approved legislation to turn down the volume.

    The measure, sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and approved by a voice vote, directs the Federal Communications Commission to enforce a set of technical standards — recently approved by a body representing the broadcasting industry — to essentially ensure that TV ads are not noticeably louder than the programming they follow.

    Jarringly loud commercials have been among the top complaints to the FCC for decades.” Read the rest of the story here.

    Biblical bedroom billboard rouses ire

    I’ve found that most churches have little sense of humor. Some religions, like the Islamic faith go beyond that, and get down-right angry if there’s even a drawing of Allah.

    You can imagine if someone drew a funny picture of Allah. The extremist Muslims would put out a death bounty (like they did with Solomon Rushdie) a few years back.

    A handout picture released by the St Matthew-in-the-City Anglican church in Auckland shows an apparently naked Virgin Mary and Joseph in bed together. The billboard has sparked the ire of conservative Christians in New Zealand.

    (AFP/HO/St Matthew-In-The-City)

    “A billboard sponsored by a local Anglican church that shows Joseph and Mary in bed has set tongues wagging in New Zealand, with the Catholic Church condemning it as others found it funny.

    The controversial billboard, erected by St Matthew-in-the-City Church in Auckland, shows a dejected-looking Joseph under bedcovers beside a sad Mary. Underneath the image, a caption reads: "Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow."

    Go here to read the rest.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Labeling People – Or, how to protect your brand

        As you go through life, labels follow you like endorsements you didn’t seek.

      The moment you take a stand on anything, the opposition to your stand will go after you with negative labels.

       When I got out of the Army in 1971, people labeled me a “baby-killer,” and other things some people felt were necessary to call anyone in the military. Back then, the stereotype of a veteran was so negative it was toxic.

       My eyes were opened and my world expanded serving in Vietnam and Cambodia. I knew the war was wrong. I knew what happened there was bad, and I didn’t feel good about some things I had to do. I came home with a mental condition that eventually cut my civilian career short. People know a lot about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) now, but back then people with this issue were called “crazy” and worse.

       The first time I ever voted, I voted for Richard Nixon. That was before Watergate. At the time I thought he knew what he was doing. Because I voted for him, people labeled me a Republican. I didn’t believe all the things the GOP stood for, but that didn’t matter.

       The next president I voted for was Ronald Reagan. I liked the guy. He was a great speaker and (I thought) patriot. I felt he would protect our country’s interests, so I voted for him. I didn’t join the GOP. I just voted for a guy I liked.

        One guy I didn’t like was Bill Clinton. When he ran the first time against George Bush Sr. in 1992, I voted for the Independent candidate Ross Perot (who ran under the banner of the “United We Stand” party). When Clinton ran again in 1996 against Bob Dole, I went with Perot again (this time he was under the banner of the “Reform Party”).

       When George W. Bush ran for president in 1999, I found myself voting for the Democrat Al Gore. When Bush ran again in 2003, the Democrats pointed out a lot of serious things, like having our rights trampled on and being involved in a war for oil. The “weapons of mass destruction” smokescreen for invading Iraq was exposed.

      Then Obama came along, and I thought he was a good speaker, but I voted for Bob Barr a Libertarian. My latest label, which I’m shedding now, will soon be replaced as others look for a way to explain my current political stance . When you write for the general public, you must be prepared to be labeled.

      The idea of voting on issues doesn’t get much play. Some people like to project an independent political stance (like me),but come across as liberal. I try to do this high-wire balancing act in my column and blogs, but sometimes I take a position because I have strong beliefs on a particular issue.

      The moment I do, I get labeled. The issue becomes secondary, and  people attach a label to me in order to refute my position with the chosen party line. By using labels, people don’t have to think too hard about their political stance. Their chosen party tells them what to say on every issue.

       When people hold up signs in public rallies calling our president a monkey (yes they called Bush a monkey too - but that same insult to an African-American immediately brings to mind a history of abuse from white Americans) a label is given to them. Racists.

       Past president Jimmy Carter recently brought up the race issue in regard to President Obama’s presidency. The reactions were immediate from some who said he was senile or a racist himself. Just another good example of a label attached so people can justify calling him names.

      Many Americans are comfortable with the two major parties which control this country. There are other parties out there, but they are labeled “fringe parties” and are seldom taken seriously by the Democrats and Republicans in power.

      If you choose to believe what Rush Limbaugh says, then you can only be a “hard-line” Republican. If you believe what Keith Olberman reports, then you must be a “bleeding heart” liberal Democrat. If you call yourself a member of either party, does that mean you go with “their party line” on everything - even if it’s wrong or inaccurate?

      Some people need to protect their labels, and are comfortable nestled in their ideologies. They don’t have to think of original replies when their political stance is challenged, as their “party” will provide it. Sound byte politics s is all the rage.

      Too many people don’t really examine political issues in detail. America is polarized politically, and the effects are slowly destroying this country. We have a do-nothing Congress,  and neither the Democrats or the Republicans, are prepared to put their “brand” aside to really serve the American people.

      As It Stands, I suspect I’ll be labeled a trouble maker, for even bringing up this subject.

    image via Google Images

    There's something wrong with redheads?

    It seems to me red heads have been picked on for a long time.

    I remember one phrase, “they beat him like a red-headed stepchild…” while growing up. It always struck me as odd, as I think red hair is cool.

    “An ad for a TV dating show has been banned for suggesting that redheads are unattractive, Britain's advertising watchdog said on Wednesday.” Go here to read the story.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Magnetic Hill Draws Visitors to Ladakh

    I may have to put this destination on my “bucket list” of things to do. I just wonder how safe the area is to visit?

    You may not believe that a vehicle with its ignition off can move, but in Ladakh seeing is believing. Not only do vehicles move without the engine being turned on, they even defy gravity by climbing uphill.

    A hill on the outskirts of this picturesque cold desert town is so full of magnetized iron that it has the power to pull any vehicle in its vicinity towards itself. Perhaps inevitably, it is called Magnetic Hill.
    The hill is situated about 25 km from here on the Leh-Kargil-Batalik national highway and is bordered by the Indus river, which originates in Tibet and flows through Ladakh on its way to Pakistan.

    Go here to read the rest of the story.

    Intel faces new antitrust accusations as FTC files suit

    The chip maker has deliberately tried to hamstring its competition, the commission says. Intel says the case is 'misguided.'

     Excerpt from 10 a.m. update:

    The Federal Trade Commission today sued Intel Corp., accusing the computer-chip giant of abusing its market dominance for a decade to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly.”

    Go to the LA TIMES to read the story.

    In France, horse falling off restaurant menus

     While draining a cup of Joe this morning, I found out, to my horror, that people in France eat horses!

    I had no idea these beautiful animals were on anyone’s menu these days. I’m glad to see that the practice is slowing down, and hopefully will end soon.

    Many people love horses and traditionally, many French people have loved them even more with a side of salad.

    That passion, however, has slowed to a trickle in the last couple of years as crisis-hit French consumers buy less meat and years of campaigning by animal rights groups take effect.”

    Go here for the rest of the story.

    Photo via

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    A Diamond Bigger than Earth lurks in Constellation Centaurus

    Like an episode out of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced in 2007 that the discovery of a mass of crystallized carbon formerly known as star BPM 37093, now known as the biggest diamond in the galaxy, is fifty light years away from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

    The star, named "Lucy" after the Beatles song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," is estimated to be 2,500 miles across and weighs approximately 10 billion-trillion-trillion-carats – a one, followed by 34 zeros. Travis Metcalfe, an astronomer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and leader of the team who discovered the gem, says “You would need a jeweler’s loupe the size of the sun to grade this diamond. Bill Gates and Donald Trump together couldn’t begin to afford it.”

    The diamond is actually the crystallized interior of a white dwarf – or the hot core of a star that is left over after the star uses up its nuclear fuel and dies. It is made mostly of carbon and is coated by a thin layer of hydrogen and helium gases.

    Five billion years from now, our sun will die and become a white dwarf. Approximately two billion years after that, its ember core will crystallize as well, leaving a giant diamond in the center of our solar system. A paper announcing this discovery has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters for publication. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. Scientists within the organization are classified into six research divisions where they study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

    Posted by Casey Kazan @ The Daily Galaxy

    Black nativity angers Italy's "White Xmas" party

    It seems that the Italians have their racists too. We talk about the KKK, and other white hate groups, but none have the power that Italy’s Northern League Party has.

    “A nativity scene featuring a dark-skinned Jesus, Mary and Joseph that has gone on display in a Verona courthouse has created heated debate in a city with strong links to Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party.

    The nativity's appearance coincides with the League's controversial operation "White Christmas," a two-month sweep ending on Christmas Day to ferret out foreigners without proper permits in Coccaglio, a small League-led town east of Milan.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Back from combat, women struggle for acceptance

    I highly recommend this article for all Americans to read. This is a subject that has yet to get it’s due in the media. Not enough has been written about the serious challenges a woman faces in the modern military services.

    I became aware of some of their challenges while attending local Stand Down’s for Veterans.

    Some of the women I talked to said the exact same things that you’ll read in this well-written report. This is Part 1 of a 3-Part series by The Seattle Times.


    “Even near military bases, female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't often offered a drink on the house as a welcome home.

    More than 230,000 American women have fought in those recent wars and at least 120 have died doing so, yet the public still doesn't completely understand their contributions on the modern battlefield.”

    Go here to read the whole story.

    Photo via Impact Lab which also offers many more photos of women in the military, and their historical involvement in the services.

    California's neediest high school students have the least prepared teachers, study says

    The good news: A steep drop in the total number of 'underprepared' teachers.

    The bad: Aspiring teachers aren't being taught how to emphasize critical thinking skills and 'real world' learning.

    Go here to read the whole story.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Future holiday meals may feature 'miracle meat'

    By Dave Stancliff /For the Times-Standard

    Posted: 12/13/2009 01:27:15 AM PST

    December 2014 -- A typical American family gathers around a table to enjoy their holiday meal.

    They might be celebrating Bodhi Day (Dec. 8th), Hanukkah (Dec. 12th), Christmas Day (Dec. 25th), or Kwanzaa (Dec. 26th).

    The amazing thing about this season is a new culinary delight with something for everyone. Scientists have developed a meat -- the press dubbed it “miracle meat” -- that satisfies all the dietary needs of the various religious holidays.

    Go here to read the rest.

    Image via flickr: goatopolis

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Extraordinary Usage For Lots of Coins

    Extraordinary usage for lots of coins - without glue or scaffolding.

     Just very carefully put one coin on another. A few hours a day months of practice and maybe you will be able to do something similar to these structures?

    Amazing physical law showed in a different way.

    Go here to see more photos.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Teeing off on a golfing legend…


    World's First Novel (1007): Tale of Genji

    More than a thousand years ago, on 1007, a Japanese court lady put the finishing touches on what is considered the world's first novel.

    Spanning 75 years, more than 350 characters, and brimming with romantic poems, the "Tale of Genji" tells the story of an emperor's son, his quest for love, and the many women he meets along the way. It is attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu.

    Art and text via Bezbrige

    A bad Santa is Collared in Ohio

    Cops: Costumed Ohio man tried to abduct 12-year-old girl

     An Ohio man dressed as Santa Claus and carrying a red sack brimming with candy canes was arrested this morning after he allegedly tried to abduct a 12-year-old girl.

    “According to cops, Anthony Russo, 46, was hiding in the bushes adjacent to a Parma intersection when he asked the girl, who was walking to school, to come to him.

    When the child continued walking, Russo twice grabbed her arm, though the girl broke free and eventually sought help from a business owner.”

     Read the rest at The Smoking Gun

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    World record: 0.01mm nano-snowman

    You're looking at the tiniest snowman ever built. Well, it looks like a snowman, but this minuscule model — about a fifth the width of a human hair — is not made out of snow.

    It's constructed of two tiny tin beads that are usually used to calibrate an electron microscope, and welded together with platinum.

    It's built by David Cox, a nanotech expert at the Quantum Detection Group of Britain's National Physical Laboratory. He's accustomed to working with such astonishingly small objects, and used his nano-particle manipulation tools to demonstrate the astonishing accuracy of his work.

    He bathed the snowman in blue light to give us this entertaining, snow-blown image. The remarkable flourish of his smiling snowman is its little happy face, carved into the top orb using a focused ion beam. That's no small feat.

    Daily Mail, via Gizmo Watch

    A life lesson we can all benefit from

    Slurping my coffee happily this morning, I read this inspirational, and thought-provoking, story by a Native-American elder – Kent Nerburn.

    The message is positive, despite some sad elements to it. In other words, it’s reality and not TV. 


    "Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

    "It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

    "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

    I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

    "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

    I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.”

    Continue reading here.

    from The Cab Ride I'll Never Forget
    by Kent Nerburn

    Note: For more inspiring writing by Kent Nerburn, see his website: The above story is taken from his book Make Me an Instrument of your Peace: Living in the Spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis, available here. The author has personally confirmed that this story is true

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Pentagon asks party crashers for covert advice

    Questions for the Crashers

    By Daniel Kurtzman, Guide

    Financial investigative reporter who tackled the Fed dies suddenly at 52

    You may never have heard of Mark Pittman, but if you have you know he was one of the old school reporters who fearlessly sought the truth.

    He dared to challenge the Fed’s inner workings, and now he’s gone. They say he had a heart attack. Others suggest it might have been murder!

    To see a one-minute video of a mind-blowing US Congressional testimony on a CIA dart gun which can easily cause a heart attack, click here.

    The poison from this gun is undetectable during an autopsy. Could such a weapon be used by the rich and powerful bankers who might want to silence someone who threatens literally billions of dollars of profits, someone like Mark Pittman?

     Mark Pittman, Reporter who challenged Fed secrecy, dies at 52 

    He was one of the great financial journalists of our time,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University in New York and the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics. “His death is shocking.”

    A former police-beat reporter who joined Bloomberg News in 1997, Pittman wrote stories in 2007 predicting the collapse of the banking system. That year, he won the Gerald Loeb Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the highest accolade in financial journalism, for “Wall Street’s Faustian Bargain,” a series of articles on the breakdown of the U.S. mortgage industry.”

    Go here to read the rest at the

    The Power of Determination - The Glenn Cunningham Story

    Nothings better than to sip that first cup of coffee and to start your day with a positive story. Enjoy…

    By Burt Dubin

    “The little country schoolhouse was heated by an old-fashioned, pot-bellied coal stove. A eight-year-old boy named Glenn Cunningham had the job of coming to school early each day so that he could use kerosene to start the fire and warm the room before his teacher and his classmates arrived. One cold morning someone mistakenly filled the kerosene container he used with gasoline, and disaster struck.

    The class and teacher arrived to find the schoolhouse engulfed in flames. Terrified on realizing that Glenn was inside, they rushed in and managed to drag the unconscious little boy out of the flaming building more dead than alive. He had major burns over the lower half of his body and was taken to a nearby county hospital.”

    Go here to read the rest.

    Photo via Google Images

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    The Power of Nightmares

    This highly revealing BBC documentary digs deep into the roots of the war on terror, only to find that much of the widespread fear in the post-9/11 world has been fabricated by those in power for their own interests.

    The intrepid BBC team presents highly informative interviews with experts and top officials in combating terrorism who raise serious questions about who is behind all of the fear-mongering. These experts and riveting footage also show how the media have been manipulated to support secret power agendas.

    This eye-opening documentary shows that, especially after 9/11, fear has been used widely in the media to manipulate the public into giving up civil liberties and turning over power to elite groups with their own hidden agendas. The Power of Nightmares clearly demonstrates that the nightmare vision of a powerful, united terrorist organization waiting to strike our societies is largely an illusion. Wherever the BBC team looked for al-Qaeda, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the sleeper cells in America, they found that we are chasing a phantom enemy. For all citizens who care about the future of our world, this is a must-watch video.

    View Free: All Three Parts of the BBC Documentary Power of Nightmares

    Each episode is one hour. Part 3 is the most revealing. A 22-minute summary is also available.

    For 22 minutes of the best excerpts from this three-hour documentary, click here
    Click here to watch Power of Nightmares on Google Video.
    Click here to watch and read reviews of Power of Nightmares on
    For the downloaded copy of an excellent review of Power of Nightmares in the Los Angeles Times, click here.
    For a full written transcript of each part of Power of Nightmares: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
    For transcripts, audio and video downloads, and other excellent information on the series, click here.
    To order all three parts of Power of Nightmares on one DVD, click here.
    Another excellent, highly revealing BBC/Adam Curtis documentary, Century of the Self, delves into the history of mass propaganda and its power to shape public perception. Click here to purchase. Click here to watch it free.

    Why is Santa naked? kids want to know

    A Texas homeowner who adorned his front lawn with Michelangelo's "David" as a scantily clad Santa got more than just jolly laughs from his neighbors.

    Barry Mcbee said he was aiming to make people chuckle by adding a Santa hat and white beard to the 5-foot-tall replica of the Renaissance statue with six-pack abs — an image at odds with usual depictions of a fat, jolly St. Nick.

    Then, parents started calling Big Spring city officials saying their children were asking why Santa was naked.”

    Go here to read the whole story.

    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...