Saturday, April 18, 2009

Can Superman Save The Newspaper Industry? If not, 'As It Stands' has some tried and true ideas for struggling newspapers

Fair warning...I have a column coming up that strips away any pretenses about the current state of the newspaper industry, and offers hope for those who go with some tried and true business advise. There are options. So keep the faith readers.

To check out some more Horsey cartoons, click here or here.

Cartoon via the Houston Chronicle's Texas On The Potomac Online magazine

Going Treasure hunting for Sea Glass along the California Coast

My wife and I are planning on going down the coast to the Ft. Bragg area soon, to explore the beaches there. I hear there's one beach that contains a lot of sea glass. Where does sea glass come from? Brace yourself...trash. Many years of broken bottles and other glass objects that were tossed into the sea, and smoothed over by the friction of the waves and rocks. The sea offers up these specimens when the tides are right.

 We went to a beach in Kauai last April that had sea glass, but the surroundings were industrial and depressing, so we didn't stay long searching for good specimens.

We were watching a Discovery Channel segment that showed people who used sea glass in their art. They went to special little coves along the San Francisco coast that were only accessible during certain times of the day, to get great pieces of sea glass. The people had to run out, scoop up what they could, and run back before a wave smacked into them!

One of the places was only accessible by kayak. For many years art glass scraps had been thrown into the ocean by an art colony there and the resulting pieces of sea glass are really beautiful...and expensive. Yes, certain pieces of sea glass can be worth a lot of money!

We discovered the most desirable colors were orange and red, both rare, and thus expensive. The prettier pieces are made into jewelry that can sell for astronomic prices. Maybe we'll find a gem in the rough next weekend!

Sand grains from around the world are mixed together like a pouch full of gems in this photo. The sand grains are from Maui, Hawaii, Japan, California, Ireland, Bermuda, and Minnesota.

Where would a person find a such a close-up of sand grains? Step right up and go to to see some beautiful examples of other sands, and artwork by Gary Greenberg who explores images through a microscope.

Here's the story of a newspaper that's thriving in today's economy

 Just when you thought there was no hope for newspapers survival in this tough economy there comes an exception to the norm. Whatever the Real Change Newspaper is doing right, it should be noted by other publications in the industry. Is this the new business model for journalism in the 21st Century? See what you think.

 Real Change newspaper wins national award,

wins national awards and readers

  At a time when traditional media is in the doldrums, it's not often you get an upbeat story about newspapering. This is one of those times.

  Seattle's Real Change newspaper, best known for its cadre of homeless street-corner vendors, is growing dramatically.

  Its circulation jumped 41 percent in the last two years alone, according to executive director Timothy Harris, up to 17,000 weekly.

On top of that, the newspaper's journalism recently won national recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists for a story on the life and death of a man who jumped from the Aurora Bridge. The award is an especially big deal for a paper with a newsroom staff of three.

To read the whole article in the Seattle Times click here.


Friday, April 17, 2009

I've always been fascinated with surreal art: here's some nice examples

Erik Johansson's portfolio is worth checking out for more looney and surreal images.

Domino's plans to file a civil lawsuit against piggy pranksters!

  A blogger from "Wandaphull World" probably regrets she ran a video of the two pigs working in A Domino's Pizza. She talks about the clowns who didn't leave the world laughing...

"Remember the video I posted a couple days ago of the two employees doing just ungodly things with people Pizza, well Johnny Law snatched and grab them, I hope someone spits and sneezes on their ass like they did to people food:"

Kristy Lynn Hammonds, 31, and Michael Anthony Setzer, 32, have each been charged with distributing prohibited foods — the same North Carolina statute that forbids any tampering with Halloween candy, police said.The pair, who called themselves “Michael” and “Kristy,” were fired immediately after the video surfaced and turned themselves in to police Wednesday.Setzer was later released under $7,500 bond, while Hammonds remained in jail under a similar bond. Both reportedly have court dates set for Thursday.The pizza delivery giant said it was stunned when the footage surfaced.Employees characterized the stunt as a prank, and Domino’s said the filthy food was never served.

But a spokeswoman said the company “was not in a forgive-and-forget mood,” the BBC reported, thus, taking the extra step to file a criminal complaint.Domino’s apologized for the actions of “Michael” and “Kristy” and said the videos marred “the hard work performed by the 125,000 men and women working for Domino’s” in the United States and all over the world. The company also said it plans to file a civil lawsuit against the pranksters.

"Please, I dont give a damn what they say,  I am traumatized for life and Dominoes don’t ever have to worry about seeing my face anywhere near their establishments…."


Here's the story.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meet Akiyoshi Kitaoka - you won't believe your eyes!

Akiyoshi Kitaoka is a famous creator of moving illusions. That is, they seem to move but they don't.
Warning : this illusion is so strong that sensitive observers might feel sick.

This is an example of one of the most famous of Kitaoka's posters: Rotating Snakes !


Story and Image via

Eureka Tea Party protests everything from taxes to gun control

Yesterday's national call from Conservative groups and organizations to protest taxes, brought out an interesting crowd of about 200 people, according to today's Times-Standard. The photo shown here is from the Times-Standard's front page. As you can see, some people had fun dressing up in historical costumes, while others aired grievances ranging from taxes to gun-control.

On a day that was supposed to be a grass-roots effort to protest taxes, there were conservative talk-show hosts and radio personalities financially-backed by Conservative organizations, who used the event to attack the Obama administration's stance on gun control and other issues unrelated to taxes.

I talked with two people yesterday who attended the event in Eureka. They told me people were talking about gun control, capitalism, corporate greed, reclaiming their country from the liberals, and environmental issues such as global warming.

My impression is the event was an opportunity to air grievances of all kinds. Watching the news on television this morning, I noticed the signs people were carrying (in different cities) were not all about taxation. A whole litany of other complaints got air time yesterday.

I can't remember how many times I've seen protests on Tax Day in the past. This year however, there was an eclectic assortment of issues relating to the economy (no surprise there-we're in a recession). Despite that, comparatively speaking, the protests weren't that well attended. A few big cities had crowds in the thousands. It wasn't the massive mandate against Liberals that Conservatives were hoping would happen.

That doesn't mean the Conservatives are going to give up. They're probably already working on the next event to stir up dissent in this country. They will continue to attack the Obama Administration, and Democrats in general, until they get back in office. They don't care if they have polarized segments of America. The only thing they care about is regaining power, tearing down financial market regulations, and restoring a system that favors the wealthy.

I have no problem with any of the demonstrations that were really grass roots events. I think ours in Humboldt was a microcosm of many others in rural communities. People took the opportunity to protest whatever bothered them. No one likes taxation, so what better day than to hold a tea party than April 15th? I respect that. It's when the neo-cons try to slip their agendas into an event like this that bothers me. They're wolves in sheep's clothing, waiting to capitalize on any dissent to use as a springboard for their ideology.

As It Stands, it was "A tempest in a teapot" brewed by desperate Conservatives.

Homeland Security report on extremism gets flack from veteran's groups

Right-wing Extremism noted in Homeland Security report suggests veterans could be recruited by extremists groups. It also suggests that there's a resurgence in radicalization and recruitment by right-wing groups in America today... 

Homeland security chief Napolitano defends agency assessment of right wing extremist risks

By Associated Press/in the Chicago Tribune

Homeland security chief Napolitano defends agency assessment of right wing extremist risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday a report warning that military veterans could be prone to joining right wing extremism was a routine assessment giving a "situational awareness" of potential threats.
Napolitano defended the internal agency intelligence report against a crescendo of criticism during a series of interviews on network news shows as she toured the troubled U.S.-Mexican border.
Asked about the report's assertion that some U.S. military veterans could be seen as potential converts to right wing extremism during a time of a down economy, Napolitano said the report was a routine form of guidance for state and local police and that it is a set of assertions, "not accusations."

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Republican/Obstructionist elite are holding a Tea Party today!

Look at what the Moral majority are calling themselves these days...the Silent Majority!

Say what? Based on actual numbers from our recent presidential election, this new incarnation should be called the Silent Minority. The majority of Americans think Obama and the Democrats are doing fine. See most recent Gallup Poll (link provided in MSNBC article below) to confirm this.

So what's the deal with this Obstructionist Tea Party? Do these clowns really think sending a tea bag to Obama will convince him the majority of Americans think he's wrong to raise any taxes? Reality doesn't seem to affect these disaffected elephant worshippers.

I have a word of advise for these rocket scientists; come up with another image! Let's face it, Tea Bagging to protest taxes sounds pretty Gay. Perhaps it's not so ironical, as there are plenty of Republican Chicken Hawks who want to wage war, while wasting our nation's youth on their dreams of empire.

Today's the day, the so-called Silent Majority, hopes to see protests from people waving tea bags in cities across America. Perhaps this Silent Majority is really a majority of the wealthy in America who can't stand the thought of paying their fair share of taxes. Now that would be a majority from the minority of Americans. I've never seen such a bunch of cry babies. They should be passing out baby pacifiers, instead of tea bags, to their rank and file who could wear diapers to demonstrate their infantile displeasure!

As It Stands, after today I expect those wealthy, gun-toting, malcontents to come up with another event. It obvious they're going to keep ranting and fighting until the return of the good old days of the Bush regime.

Poster Image via Constitutional Emergency


From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro of MSNBC
Tea time: Who would have ever thought that a discussion of tea bags -- even used as a verb, from both the right and left -- would become a political topic, let alone a subject we’d mention in First Read.

 But here we are… On this Tax Day, some Americans are attending so-called "tea party" or "tea bag" events across the country to protest everything from tax rates and the federal bailouts, to the young Obama presidency. But let’s be clear about one thing: These tea parties are hardly non-partisan events.

While there’s certainly a grassroots component here, these parties have been co-opted by a major America political party (the RNC's Web site allows for creating send-a-tea-bag post cards to Dem leaders) and an entire cable news channel (which has been promoting the events).

The main Web site for the events today, Tax Day Tea Party, is funded by conservative groups, and a public records search shows it's registered to a conservative techie, Allen B. Fuller, who used to be a legislative correspondent for GOP Sen. Richard Shelby and who touts creating Web sites for Republican elected officials. Also reportedly involved in today’s protest events are FreedomWorks, a conservative group founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Americans for Prosperity.

*** What Republicans might stand to gain -- and lose: With its association with these “tea party” protests, the Republican Party does stand to gain here in a mechanical/process way. If it gets a huge turnout nationwide, it will be a bit of a test run for its social networking apparatus. The Tax Day Tea Party Web site, in fact, is reminiscent of what the Obama campaign was able to do with things like voter registration and grassroots meet-ups.

You can click on a state and find where there's a local tea party in any state in the country. This kind of tech savvy could pay dividends in the long run. On the other hand, this whole thing could backfire if some unsavory elements (i.e., people saying and doing some very stupid things) attend these events. Also, what happens if today’s parties don’t capture the imagination of anyone beyond the GOP amplifiers of FOX and talk radio?

Today has turned into a big test of the power of the GOP grassroots in the Obama era. The pre-game for these tea parties has seemed a bit scattershot. One can sense a hesitance from the establishment wing of the GOP about getting too involved in this movement, for the fears we've described above. Tax Day has normally been an easy P.R. hit for the GOP, but with the tea party gamble, the GOP doesn't seemed focused on good 'ol fashioned tax issues.

Obama on Tax Day: As for what President Obama is doing on Tax Day, he will deliver remarks at 11:55 am ET about “restoring fairness to the tax code,” as well as “providing tax relief to working families” in the stimulus, the White House says. How big of a political issue have taxes become?

Not much, according to a recent Gallup poll. It found that 48% of Americans think the federal income tax they pay is “about right” -- one of the highest scores on this question since Gallup began measuring it in the 1950s. The poll also found that 61% believe the federal taxes they’re paying are fair. In the last few years, the GOP has seen its advantage on the issue of taxes deteriorate, and it's something that has thrown the party for a loop -- as without taxes as a rallying cry, the GOP has found itself with fewer issues to brag to the public about.


Strange News for the Day: Woman tapes puppy to refrigerator!


Meet Abby Toll. The University of Colorado student, 20, is facing a felony animal abuse rap after she allegedly taped her boyfriend's puppy to the side of a refrigerator in a bid to teach the rambunctious animal a "lesson."

According to police, Toll used clear packing tape early this morning to adhere the eight-month-old dog (a Shiba Inu named Rex) to the appliance in the kitchen of her boyfriend's apartment.

Toll allegedly was angry at Bryan Beck, 21, for failing to get rid of the puppy, which, Toll told cops, bit her a few days ago. According to the below Boulder Police Department reports, when cops responded at 5 AM to a "report of a male and female yelling" at Beck's apartment, they discovered that "Rex's body was completely encased in packing tape."

When Officer Kara Jurczenia asked what was on the side of the fridge, Toll replied, "The dog." Toll added, "I know this looks really bad, but the dog bites. He is aggressive." Jurczenia asked how long the puppy had been taped upside down to the side of the refrigerator. "Not long," Toll replied. "Like 20-30 minutes. It was just until he calmed down."

The reports note that when Beck saw his dog stuck to the refrigerator, he told Toll, "Take him down," adding, "You are so sick!" Toll replied, "No, you are sick for not caring enough about me to get rid of the dog." The animal, whose paws had been bound with elastic hair ties, was clearly in pain and "yelped and screamed loudly" as cops worked to free him. "Rex just lay motionless, but breathing, on his kennel after he was removed from the tape." The puppy was handed over to the Boulder Valley Humane Society.

Toll, seen in the above mug shot, was turned over to county jailers. Beck, who was arrested in connection with his scuffle with Toll, was not charged with animal abuse. Though he did reportedly tell police, "We were going to get rid of him anyway. We usually don't do this."

Image via


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pavement Masterpieces: artist Julien Beeves uses 3-D effect

For some more great examples of pavement art go to J. Beever

Pirates aren't going to stop seizing ships until the world wakes up and does something about it!

  It only took Somali pirates 24 hours after an American vessel and crew escaped from one of their attacks, before they started seizing other ships. Four, including one in an unusual night attack, ships were seized and their crews held hostage.     

   The pirates have declared they will get revenge for the killing of three of their thieves who were holding an American ship captain (Richard Phillips) in a lifeboat.

    President Obama told the press that the acts of piracy should be punished. Whether he will send troops to the pirate's den on the coast is another matter. As far as I'm concerned, the only way to stop these thieves is to take out their base of operation on land.

    For nearly two decades, Somali's have been seizing ships and making easy money. I blame the world's various maritime companies who would rather pay a ransom than to actually do anything about these pirates. The companies simply don't want to pay higher premiums, so they enable the pirates.

   This is a worldwide problem. It just doesn't make sense that a little rogue nation can hold the entire world hostage with impunity, and get away with it.

The following article from The Los Angels Times discusses four recent hijackings.

Image via

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meandering With Millie: While walking we encountered a skunk today!

   Millie my pug and I were taking our daily walk when we came upon a skunk standing unsteadily on the side of a gravel country road.

   We both instantly knew that skunks shouldn't be out during the day. This one looked like it was drunk on blackberry wine and was swaying slightly from side-to-side.

   Not good. His beady black eyes seemed to be fixed on some point beyond us as he didn't react to how close we were. Time was frozen. I was worried that the skunk would lunge at Millie and bite her if I moved too fast.

   It came to me that Millie had her rabies shot eight days ago, so she was at least protected in the worse case scenario. I, however, haven't had mine. I can't remember the last time I had a rabies vaccination.

    I remember when I was in third grade a dog bit me in the front of my school and I had to get the whole stick-the-needle-in the-stomach treatment! But that was no vaccination. That was the treatment. Do they still do that?

   So far no one made a move. Millie finally decided she wanted to take a closer sniff of this strange black-and-white animal, and I picked her up in the same instant, holding my breath and expecting to be attacked.

  It didn't happen. The skunk continued to wobble, looking blankly ahead. We set off down the road. I put Millie down and we continued on our regular route. On the way back I kept my eyes peeled for the skunk. But it was gone. Probably back into the blackberry bushes and high grass.

   I was secretly thrilled we didn't have to contend with Billy Bob Skunk. You see, Millie and I got to talking while we were walking, and decided it could have been a "geeter-head" (same-same as a meth-head) skunk who might have went by the name of Billy Bob. Why not?

   We started coming up with wild headlines:

'Geeter Skunk sends man and pug packing!'

'Man and pug accidentally stumble upon stoned Skunk's outdoor meth lab!'

'PETA says man and pug threatened skunk stoned on medical-meth'

  Before we knew it we were back home. Just another day in our adventuresome lives. Peace.

Skunk image via


State scammed by people who are supposed to be serving the elderly and disabled

Fraud infects state in-home care program

By Evan Halper/LA Times 
April 13, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento -- Loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester in a rapidly expanding multibillion-dollar state program that provides personal caregivers to the impoverished elderly and disabled. Hundreds of reports of scams and swindles are going without investigation.
Prosecutors and program administrators across the state say they are alarmed by the ease with which people are taking advantage of the program, In Home Supportive Services.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today's As It Stands in The Times-Standard: Reality vs Fiction

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 04/12/2009 01:26:06 AM PDT

Remember the 1995 hit movie “Outbreak?”

Parts of it were filmed here in Humboldt County, and Ferndale was supposed to be the fictional town of Cedar Creek. In the movie, a deadly virus (Motaba) passed from a Capuchin monkey to a human who went on to infect others and scores of unsuspecting people died as a result.

Pretty scary stuff. Now let's consider a small news item recently sent out by the Associated Press. At the Oregon National Primate Center, nine Japanese Macaque monkeys got out of their cage when a keeper accidentally left it unlocked. Five of the monkeys were quickly caught, but the other four remain on the loose. According to Jim Newman, an Oregon Health & Science University spokesman, officials watched three of the escapees from a distance, and tried to catch them in cages baited with apples.

It's that last monkey that concerns me. The missing monkey is thought to be somewhere on the Beaverton Primate campus. One more little thing about this primate, it's infected with a virus that could hurt people! Read the rest of the column here.

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...