Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fallen Evangelical Preacher Haggard prepares for HBO documentary on his time in Exile

Controversy clings to Haggard, 52, like wet cheese cloth, and his upcoming documentary is only going to add to it.

He's set to make some high profile appearances on TV next week, but is currently dealing with the confessions of a church volunteer who stated they have had sex for a long time this week.

He is scheduled to appear on CNN's Larry King Live on Thursday, the date of the documentary's premiere, and already has taped "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

For the whole story go to this link in the Chicago Tribune.

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The Next Bubble to Burst: Biggest Antitrust Conspiracy Ever?

An anonymous reader made the following comment on my column from last Sunday:

I believe people will find this reader's comments interesting.

Here's a link to the column for a reference point.

Humboldt County Library building in Eureka is funded by a suspicious kind of bond. Same type also built the newer Humboldt County Court House Jail remodel.
The bonds are secured by the Jail or the Library, and the interest rates are quite high, going back to the time they were written, but particularly if contrasted with contemporary rates. Bonds ordinarily require voter prior approval, but these were backdoored, so as to require no vote.
Premium rates are way above the market from the get go. They haven't met the market since, so far as one can tell.
Construction costs at the time were quite high for any region, but certainly for around here-- envelope computations suggest the buildings cost more than $400 per square foot, adjusted for inflation the costs would be more like $600/sq.ft.
The twist was, a quasi-public entity was set up to receive land from the County, then issued a bond to finance construction, and owns the facilities, which are then leased back to the County until the structure is fully depreciated.
Someone gets the depreciation tax credit,and someone gets the huge interest paid on the bonds. If bonds rates were readjusted to reflect markets during their existence, taxpayers would have saved millions. It is hard to say how much.
These details weren't discussed much, in public meetings; they received little news media examination. If you find out more maybe you could write another stimulating editorial about bond corruption, but with a more local perspective.
I really don't like to use "anonymous" here as my name, but ...
Posted by Anonymous to As It Stands at January 24, 2009 7:36 AM

Friday, January 23, 2009

Magic Bus in Yarn: Knitter 'yardbombs' anything!

If you are into knitting, then you have to read this story that I found in the British Newspaper, The Telegraph, today.

Streaker interrupts Williams sisters' match in Australia!

MELBOURNE, Australia - A streaker dashed on court while Venus and Serena Williams played doubles today at the Australian Open, prancing around before being arrested.  

This is a wild banana, an ancestor of today's bananas

This photograph shows seed-packed fruit of Musa balbisiana, one of the ancestors of the edible bananas.
The banana may be one of the first crops to be domesticated by man. They may have evolved along with the earliest settled agriculture and may therefore be some tens of thousands of years old.
Banana is now one of the most popular of all fruits.
Although it is viewed as only a dessert or an addition to breakfast cereal in most developed countries, it is actually a very important agricultural product. After rice, wheat and milk, it is the fourth most valuable food. In export, it ranks fourth among all agricultural commodities and is the most significant of all fruits, with world trade totaling $2.5 billion annually.
Yet, only 10% of the annual global output of 86 million tons enters international commerce. Much of the remaining harvest is consumed by poor subsistence farmers in tropical Africa, America and Asia

Meet Greedy Pig-of-the Year: former Merrill Lynch CEO

My nomination for Greedy Pig-of-the-Year for 2008 goes out to scumbag John Thain, former CEO for Merill Lynch.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) web site features a good article on his misdeeds this morning.

Prepare to get pissed off! Click here to read about rampant greed.

Caylee Anthony's Grandfather taken to Psych Hospital

It looks like the saga of his murdered granddaughter was too much for George Anthony, as family members contacted police to find him yesterday after fears he was going to kill himself. He was found in a motel room a few counties away from where the Anthony's live.

I've always suspected the grandparents knew more than they were saying. I still recall that early phone conversation where Cindy Anthony said the car smelled like a dead person.

George made comments to the same effect, at first. But as time went by they both changed their story. My guess is that they decided that they didn't want to lose a daughter too, and agreed to lie to the authorities about what they really knew.

But George, an ex-cop, has a conscience, and it's what I believe drove him to consider suicide. Holding a terrible secret like that will eventually take it's toll. I have a feeling, before this whole mess goes to court, that George and Cindy are going to get in trouble for lying about what they know their daughter did.

AP file photo

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mono-wheel mode of travel has some interesting history


(Left) Swiss engineer Mr. Gerdes astride/inside his one-wheel motorcycle, 1931. (Right) The Mono-Wheel is popular for travel between remote Russian villages.

See Chinese Military in modern times enjoying mono-wheels, presumably for balance training, but maybe simply... for fun?

Some outlandish mono-wheel concepts from 1925 "Science & Invention" and "The Electrical Experimenter" in 1918.

all images from where you can find a complete pictorial and written history on mono-wheels in their archives. Enjoy!

Critics of Global Trade don't get a lot of media time

Media Matters Action Network reported today that "scant space is given to critics" of Global trade.

Personally, I've always been against the whole concept of "free trade" or global trading. History has shown us that the whole concept has turned into a drain on the American economy. We've lost too many jobs over the years to trade agreements that only benefit corporate interests.

Academics, interest groups, businesspeople, and workers have been engaged in a vigorous debate over the impact of free trade on job loss, income inequality, wage stagnation, working conditions, human rights, environmental degradation, corporate profits, public health, transparency, democracy, national sovereignty, and freedom itself.

For more details on this subject read this and see what you think.

Fighting stopped, Gaza's smuggling tunnels reopen

Supplies flow again, possibly threatening cease-fire with Israel

Beneath the semi-desert scrub of olive groves and cactus trees traversing Egypt's border with Gaza lies a warren of crudely dug tunnels that may determine whether the cease-fires ending the 22-day war between Israel and Hamas will last.

Click here to read the whole story in the Chicago Tribune.

Palestinians hold white flags as a signal for Israeli troops after leaving their house near the area where Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants exchange fire outside Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

(AP Photo/AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Life under a microscope: It's a small world after all

Golden wonder: Using fibre optics, this image shows the wing scales of a sunset moth

This surreal looking image shows the micro-flow pattern in a thinning soap film.

Purple haze: This fluorescent image shows a magnified mangrove fern leaf.

images from

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An early pictorial history of cars that fly...sort of


In the early 1900s some rather crazy-looking armored vehicles were used by the military; here is a "Sizaire-Berwick Wind Wagon" from 1905.

French engineer Marcel Leyat made plenty of "Helica" propeller-powered cars between 1913 and 1926 (30 were built, two still exist today). Some models had an open, unprotected propeller, good for shredding everything that might stand in their way. Other models gained a wooden protective shroud, which made them sort-of road-worthy (at least in France.

This 1932 model was pretty ugly, but boasted a maximum speed of 80 mph!

image credit:


(image credit: Aerofiles)    "Taylor AeroCar III" (1965)

Lobbyists and Their Employers: Web site tells all!

Do you want to know more about Lobbyists near you?

There's a great resource for Information on Money in State Politics at Lobbyist Link, a watchdog web site.

Lobbyist Link helps you make the connection between lobbyists and their employers. Take it a step further and see what those employers give directly to candidates to exert additional influence over the lawmaking process.

Money in state politics plays a pivotal role in shaping public policy in individual states and across the nation. Lobbyist Link helps you track political donations in all 50 states. Take a look.

Posters from the Great Depression: Some things never change



Wall Street Journal staff flee building: suspicious packages found!

I just hear this news alert on CNN. It seems there's concerns over packages found in the offices of the Wall Street Journal and authorities are evacuating the building. Details are still sketchy. One commentator mentioned anthrax, but nothing has been confirmed at this time. I wonder what article brought this on?

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Are you kidding me? That inaugural poem stunk!

Talk about a dud...Elizabeth Alexander's poem "Praise Song for the Day" simply didn't made me snore!

The Yale professor and author of five books on poetry didn't even come close to the talent of other poets in inauguration ceremonies, like Robert Frost (JFK's swearing in) or Maya Angelou (Clinton's swearing in).

I'm no expert on poetry, but it sure sounded like prose, and did not have the flow of a good poem.

AP photo 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What does the future hold under a new administration?

image from

Thoughts on this day...

As I watch the swearing in of Joe Biden, my thoughts wander back to the recent presidential campaign and the growing popularity (seemingly out of nowhere) of Barack Obama. Two years ago he was an obscure senator from Illinois and now he sits waiting for the moment when her will stand up, walk over to the podium, and put his hand on President Lincoln's Bible and get sworn in as our 44th President of the United States.
I watch as the cameras keep panning on the millions of people in the National Mall, and I try to imagine what it would be like to be there.

I know, because of my PTSD, that I could never be in a crowd that big without panic seizing me like a vise. I wonder what it would be like standing among that many like-minded people.
Now, as Barack repeats the oath, I watch his wife's eyes reflecting pride...then "Congradulations Mr President" and the crowd claps deleriously. People hugging and kissing. Jumping up and down for joy. Tears running down eyes that never thought they would see this day.
A sense of hope so strong that you can taste it, smell it, feel it in your pores.
Now, as Barack addresses everyone, he calmly, in his rich voice, speaks. His eyes seem to make contact with the millions before him. He appears serious, yet, a secret smile breaks through at times, as he spells out the challenges we all now face. He points out the problems we must now tackle, and the economy is mentioned first.
He tries to make us all understand that their are many challenges, but as he said, "They can be met!" You know, by the tone of his voice he means it. He speaks, not to just Americans, but to the world which is also watching this ceremonial changing of the guard. This peaceful transistion of power is something we pride ourselves in as Americans.
Cameras walk through the mass of humanity, and sometimes they settle on a face - and we see smiles or tears.

My mind wanders back to when I was growing up in the 50s and 60's and saw the ugly face of rasicm and an oppresed people. In those days, people referred to African-Americans as niggers, and other blatantly racist terms. I was familiar with descrimination as one of the few Caucasians that lived in the barrios of La Puente and El Monte. Most of my fights were because I was different. I didn't fit in those prodominately Hispanic communities.
So you see, I have a certain prospective on race that helps me understand what the blacks in this country have gone through.

Now, everyone's clapping... he waves...and waves amid the sea of sound. Then it's over. It's official. I wait for the ground to open up and Angels to sing...
but all that happens is a woman walks up to the mics and recites a poem. The spell is broken too soon. Too soon. The rhetoric sets in now...

Kobe and Gasol carve up the Cavaliers, 105-88

Forget about a dislocated pinkie that happened in the first quarter, Kobe finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 12 assists!

LeBron and company got brought down to earth, as they suffered their worst loss of the season to the surging Lakers.

The game was reminiscent of the Celtic game, where the Lakers stopped the Celtics winning streak (19 games).

Cleveland has the best record the franchise ever posted and has been winning games easily until they ran into the Lakers last night.

At times like this, it sure is fun being a fan (since 1961 by the way).

AP photo

An Historical Day: Obama becomes 44nd president

Was there ever a president who had more expected from him? It's incredible to see the support for Obama.

Watching the crowd grow this morning at the National Mall, I was reminded of the glory days of JFK, when most Americans had a sense of hope and change.

After the pomp and ceremony of today, Obama faces challenges that would make any man nervous, but he seems to maintain a sense of calm that only that only the great one's can.

May God bless his administration.

AP photo

Monday, January 19, 2009

LATEST UPDATE: FDA confirms salmonella in Kellogg Peanut Butter Snacks!

Watch out for peanut butter!

What began as an investigation of bulk peanut butter shipped to nursing homes and institutional cafeterias has broadened with the Kellogg Co. recalling 16 products and federal officials confirming salmonella contamination at a Georgia facility that ships peanut products to 85 food companies.

There's a reported 474 people sick from peanut butter products, and six deaths attributed to the outbreak.

The new recalls, including one from General Mills (GIS) for Lärabar and JamFrakas snack bars, means that about a dozen companies have pulled products, including cookies, crackers and ice cream. Products were sold in stores such as Wal-Mart and Food Lion.

Kroger said Monday that it is recalling Private Selection Peanut Butter Passion Ice Cream sold in select stores because the peanut butter in the ice cream was supplied by Peanut Corporation of America and may be contaminated with Salmonella. Stores under the following names are included in this recall: City Market, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC and Smith's.

More recalls are likely, given that the Peanut Corporation of America, which earlier recalled the suspect peanut butter and peanut paste, supplied 23 other companies with product that's been recalled. PCA first recalled peanut butter last Tuesday, then Sunday added its peanut paste, an ingredient used by food manufacturer

Photo on right is the American Peanut Butter plant.

To see what products are being recalled click here

AP photo

The only good thing Bush Did: Pardons Border Guards

The El Paso Times / Associated Press

Border guards Ignacio Ramos, at left, wearing tie, and Jose Compean, pictured here in file photos, today had their prison sentences commuted by President Bush.

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...