Saturday, May 30, 2009

On this day in 1928 there was still Civil War Veterans...

TODAY IN PHOTOGRAPHS: By Steven Mikulan in City News

Civil War veterans join a Memorial Day celebration at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The original newspaper caption read: "Old in years but young in spirit those who fought in the War of the Rebellion again paid tribute to the hero dead of the nation."

image via LA Weekly

Lakers back in NBA Finals - They wrap up Nuggets in 6th game

photo by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the NBA Finals after taking care of a tough Nugget team 119-92. It was another hard-fought series, but the Lakers survived. Now the question is, who will they play in the Finals? Cleveland is down 3-2 and plays the Magic tonight. If the Magic win then it's LA vs Orlando. Go Lakers!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A History of Credit Cards: Americans embrace concept in 1951

These early credit pioneers led to the blood-sucking credit cards companies of today who are so bad that Congress has recently had to make them clean up their act. However, I think they will narrowly apply the mandated regulations while thinking up new ways to fleece customers.

From The Big Money...

By Caitlin McDevitt

Diners Club Card, 1951

As the story goes, 60 years ago, Frank McNamara, the founder of what's considered the first credit card, was eating out at a restaurant, and when the check arrived, he realized that he had not brought along his wallet.

The embarrassing situation led him to eventually create the Diners Club card, which allowed members to pay restaurant bills monthly.

The card itself was wallet-sized and made of paper and wasn't any fancier than a library card. But the idea behind it-a third party facilitating a "buy-now, pay-later" process-was revolutionary.

BankAmericard, 1958

The first bank credit card, the BankAmericard, was unveiled when Bank of America gave out 60,000 unsolicited cards in Fresno, Calif., in 1958.

Unlike in the past, when getting a loan might have meant taking a trip to the bank’s basement, this card was a ticket for anyone to spend freely and decide when was best to pay it back.

American Express Card, 1959

Plenty of large and small players saw the opportunity in the card business and jumped in quickly. American Express (AXP) differentiated itself from other providers by offering the first-ever plastic credit card in 1959. As opposed to flimsier cards, the plastic alternative was designed to “better withstand day-to-day use

Some other milestones are: The American Express Executive Card, 1968; Master Charge, 1970; Chase Visa Card, 1984; Discovery Card, 1986; and the Visa/NFL Co-Branded Credit Card in 1989.

images of Diner Club and BankAmericard via creditcollectibles. American Express Card image via American Express Corporate Archives.

Oklahoma State Trooper Assaults, Attempts to Arrest EMT Headed for Hospital

This is another example of why people think cops are bullies. Anyone who has ever been pulled over by State troopers in Oklahoma or Texas knows it can be a scary experience. I've been there and done that!

By William Grigg

Who cares about the needs of a critical care patient when there's a State Trooper's hungry ego to feed?

Emergency Medical Technician Maurice White, Jr., a paramedic with the Creek Nation EMS in Oklahoma, was shuttling a patient to the hospital when he was stopped by a State Trooper. White, intent on getting the patient the care she needed, hadn't noticed that the trooper had been behind him with lights flashing; when the trooper zoomed by, he made radio contact and snarled at White that he "should consider checking [his] rear view mirrors."

A little while later the Trooper, operating his vehicle with typical recklessness, cut off a car driven by a family member of the patient and signaled for White to pull over. Seeing a woman sitting next to the Trooper, and thinking she might need medical care, White complied -- only to find himself under assault and the subject of a spurious arrest on the way to the hospital.

Several other brown-shirted state police materialized, and White was swarmed; at one point, one of the skinheaded state stormtroopers had his hand on White's throat.Once again, in keeping with the quasi-official media protocol, this episode was described by local ABC affiliate news as a "scuffle" or a "confrontation," rather than a criminal assault by several armed tax-feeders on a medical professional in the course of carrying out a task that actually helps people, rather than harassing or plundering them.

image via the LRC Blog

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Illinois Senate narrowly passes Marijuana bill

I almost forgot to mention that Illinois is joining a growing number of states that will be legalizing marijuana (see story below about Delaware).

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Associated Press) — The push to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois has taken a big step forward.

The Illinois Senate voted 30-28 in favor of a plan to let sick people use pot for relief from diseases like cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

The bill now goes to the Illinois House, where a committee passed a medical marijuana measure earlier this year.

Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, says that if the bill is eventually signed into law, Illinois would join 13 other states that have such measures in place.

Critics argue allowing medical marijuana would make it harder for police to enforce other marijuana laws and would be a step toward wholesale legalization of pot.


image via Google Images

Not Outright Decriminalization, but Delaware bill would legalize marijuana

From the 10th Amendment Center today...

source from the Delaware Sussex Countian

Delawareans afflicted with a variety of chronic and painful conditions would be able to legally use medical marijuana to ease their suffering under a bill now under consideration in the Delaware State Senate.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East), said her bill isn’t an outright decriminalization of marijuana and is aimed at balancing compassion for the sick with maintaining tight controls on access and the amount of marijuana a person can have.

“Modern science shows us that marijuana can have beneficial effects for people suffering from a number of conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and HIV-AIDS,” Henry said. “While we don’t want to encourage the use of marijuana as a recreational drug, it makes no sense at all to deny the comfort it can give to people suffering from truly debilitating and painful diseases.”

If passed, Henry’s bill would: Click here to keep reading.

image via Wikipedia Commons

Thousands of marauding caterpillars trap car in silky web!

From Mail Online this morning....

"Most drivers would be delighted if their car came with a silk-lined interior.

Whether it's such an appealing prospect on the outside is another matter.

This is the sight that greeted one unlucky motorist when he returned to his vehicle in Rotterdam.

Under a giant silk cocoon created by an army of caterpillars, the shape of a Honda is just about visible.

The car was mistaken as food by spindle ermine larvae, which had already begun to strip a nearby tree of its leaves.

Spindle ermines weave silk webs to protect themselves from birds and wasps, allowing them to gorge on leaves for six weeks before transforming into butterflies."

Click here to read the rest.

image via Mail Online

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Former interrogator shreds Cheney's theory on torture

From The Raw Story today...

By John Byrne

A 14-year military interrogator has undercut one of the key arguments posited by Vice President Dick Cheney in favor of the Bush Administration’s torture techniques and alleged that the use of torture has cost “hundreds if not thousands” of American lives.

The interrogator, who uses the name “Matthew Alexander,” says he oversaw more than 1,000 interrogations, conducting more than 300 in Iraq personally.

Click here for rest of story and video.

From Information Clearing House (news you won't get from CNN)

Read the following for historical perspective...

By Matthew Moore

MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. Read more here. This article is three years old, but still bares reading for perspective today.

Top photo via Wikipedia Commons

Bottom photo via The Clearing House

Pre-game rituals and superstitions in our society

Illustration By Mike Curti

via USA Hockey

                     By Dave Stancliff
   It wasn’t unusual for me to throw up before game time when I was a freshman playing football. I was never sure if it was out of pure terror, or it was a good omen and I would run faster.
   Years later I read that Kareem Abdul Jabbar use to throw up before games because he was nervous. Anyone who ever watched him play however, would never have guessed it. He always seemed calm and in control on the court.
   When my Father and I watch the thoroughbred race horses, he always looks for the one who relieves itself in the paddock area while being shown off before the race. This ritual, he firmly believes, is a good sign.
    I was never much for rituals. Routine has always bored me. I have known some interesting people whose rituals were, to put it mildly, kinda crazy. One such person was in my squad in Vietnam. Every morning when he woke up the first thing he did was sharpen his (non-regulation) hunting knife!
   Guys would be washing their faces, shaving, drinking coffee, and other normal things while he sat cross-legged on the ground and carefully slid the whetstone over the razor sharp edges. You could call it his morning ritual.
  Baseball legend Wade Boggs, who played third base for the Boston Red Sox, always made sure to eat chicken before each game. He also wrote the Hebrew word “Chai” meaning “living” in the dirt before each at bat.
   Some athletes think that any sexual activity before an athletic event will hurt their performance. Mohammed Ali, thought that “when you don’t get sex for a while, you get mean and angry and it makes you a warrior.”
   He may have had something there. He’s still considered one of the greatest boxers ever. I think that when a person finds a routine that they are comfortable with, they should stick with it. It doesn’t have to make sense, it’s how it makes them feel.
   Karl Malone, basketball Hall of Famer, felt that wearing the same pair of sox for every game during the NBA season, gave him an edge. It might have, if smell counted for anything! Just joking of course, but I’ll bet that pair of socks had to be full of holes by the end of the season.
   According to an article in the Journal of Sports Behavior by Melissa Todd and Chris Brown, rituals and superstitions help “athletes cope with the uncertainty of sports competition.”
   The fear of wearing #13 on one’s uniform is a common superstition among all sports. I think if people believe it will bring bad luck, it will. There’s been exceptions to this superstition like Hall of Famer Dan Marino in football, and hoop legend Wilt Chamberlain.
   Daily rituals for people have always been around. The ancients felt sacrificing animals would bring them good luck. When I was very young, I had a neighbor who sacrificed snails by pouring salt on them. This ritual was usually performed when he was ticked-off with someone.
    As It Stands, I’m not really clear where the separation is between routine and rituals unless it’s when you make little clay figurines and stick pins in them, as opposed to puking before a game!

Burris on wiretap: 'Keep me in mind' for Senate seat

Burris and Blago in a tree,

can you spell conspiracy?

Burris and Blago in a tree,

Today here's what we see... 

From the Associated Press...

Sen. Roland Burris promised to "personally do something" for Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund while pressing for the then-Illinois governor to appoint him to President Obama's former Senate seat, according to a wiretap transcript released Tuesday.

"Tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat, would ya?" Burris tells Robert Blagojevich, who headed his brother's campaign fund, in a Nov. 13 phone conversation secretly taped by the FBI.

Click here to read the rest.

image via AP in USA Today

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I think everyone needs a SpudGun...don't you?

So you're having trouble getting that special someone a gift they'll always remember eh? Fear not, for the SpudGun promises to please people of all ages with a passion for propelling obstacles!

Joel Suprise says...

"I would like to welcome everyone to the internet's premiere website pertaining to spudguns and all other types of novelty launching devices. Branded "the center of the spudgun universe" by CBS news. Specializing in pneumatic and combustion-based launchers of ALL types, styles, sizes, and feature levels. Find out all you could ever want to know about has become a favorite weekend past time for people of all ages. Thank you for visiting and please enjoy your self while you're here."

image via the SpudGun Technology Center

Desert Solar Could Meet 25% of World’s Power Needs by 2050

From Solve Climate today...

By Stacy Feldman - May 26th, 2009

Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could meet 7 percent of the world's power needs by 2030 and 25 percent by 2050, according to a new report by Greenpeace, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association and the International Energy Agency.

Such systems currently make up just 430 megawatts of generation capacity, or less than one half of one percent of electricity needs worldwide.

CSP "is about to step out of the shadow of other renewable technologies and can establish itself as the third biggest player in the sustainable power generation industry," the report's authors write.

Click here for the rest of the story.

image via Solve Climate

See 15 of the Most Bizarre Beard and Mustache competitors


From Oddee this morning...

Every two years, the owners of the world's most elaborate facial hair come together for the World Beard and Moustache Championships. From 1990, the championships feature competition in a variety of categories that include everything from the delicate Dali moustache to the outrageous full beard freestyle. This facial-hair celebration is open to everyone and spectators are welcome. On 2007, Brighton (UK) hosted the championships, and the City of Anchorage (Alaska, USA) will host the next one on 2009.
Meet some of the craziest beards and mustaches we've found at the championships.

Click here to see the rest of the facial hair photos.

photos via Oddee

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009: Who will you remember today?

By Dave Stancliff
Who will you remember on this Memorial Day?
Your Father? Your Mother? Son or daughter? Aunt or Uncle? Grandfather? Or perhaps a cousin? How many of you had family members die in the military service?
Do you remember their smiles? Or the way they became special to you? Their humor? Their dreams? Their loving embrace? The softness of their touch? Or, when they use to take you fishing? All gone now. Just ghosts wearing uniforms.
Memorial Day has been set aside as a national day to remember those who served our country and who are not with us now. They come from generations past when Great-great-grandfather Lucius died fighting in the Civil War, and when your uncle Roger died in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
Memories of loved ones fighting and dying during WW I and WWII. Family albums keep your veterans enshrined. The older photos brown with age and sepia tones give you a glimpse into your family’s history. Uncles with medals, that you will never know, smile uncertainly from beneath helmets.
How fresh is this day to you? Have you recently lost a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan? Did your twin brother die in a place you cannot pronounce? Do you pull out that photo of your mother when she left for her second tour in Iraq and never came back on Memorial Day?
The veterans from WWI are nearly gone now. WW II and Korean veterans are not far behind. Vietnam veteran’s numbers decrease every day. Young men and women still die fighting wars they don’t understand. Their memories still fresh in the 6:00 o’clock news.
Drape American flags from your house in honor of those who died serving their country. Go to the cemeteries and leave little flags there. Have parades and let there be kind words said. Gather in honor of those in your family, and in the nation, who wore uniforms and are no longer here. Gather for those that still wear uniforms, and hold them dear.
Take a moment and remember those loved ones and strangers that died defending this country. They died with your family members and they all became one. We all have someone that was a veteran once, even if it was in generations past. We are all Americans.
We are all a family in the name of freedom. We all believe in our right to say whatever we will. We have fought wars to defend all the rights we hold dear today. So when we have a special day set aside to recall those veterans who are no longer here, we owe it to ourselves to support their memory in some way.
You don’t have to join a parade. You don’t have to do anything to show people you care. But hopefully somewhere in your heart you will wish them well. Hopefully, you will understand that they all died, either during service to their country or years later, as heros.
Don’t let fashionable protests against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mar this Memorial Day. We gained our independence through their blood. We hold our freedoms today through their blood. Don’t judge them politically to pursue some negative agenda.
Let Memorial Day be a day of peace. Don’t play games with the dead. It’s a day to honor sacrifices. Don’t dirty their memories with your thoughtless words. Dust off that old photo of Grandfather in his funny saucer-like helmet and those leg wrappings.
Tell your son and daughter what a great guy he was. Smile and tell them a story. Make sure your grandson knows his dad was a good soldier and father. Keep the good memories alive. It’s a day when we recognize that freedom doesn’t come cheap. We honor those who paid the ultimate price without judging them. As a nation we honor their memory.
As It Stands, we owe our veterans much more than one day of recognition.

image via Google Images

As It Stands: Amazons, Ants, and the Battle of the Sexes

By Dave Stancliff

Once, a long time ago, there was a nation of women who were mighty warriors and didn’t need men.

They were reputed to have fought the men of Atlantis. These warriors were called Amazons and they disappeared many generations before the Trojan War. Still, their legend lives on into the 21st Century. 

  They worshiped the goddess Artemis, who was said to assume many forms. Today the image of the Amazons has morphed into a symbol for strong women bravely fighting breast cancer.

 Talk about change. I recently read an article titled “Rare All-Female Ant Society That Reproduces by Cloning Discovered” at the Impact Lab website. Now get this, there is (and I’m not making this up) a colony of Amazon ants, all female, who reproduce via cloning!

Click here for the rest of the column.

image via Aha! Jokes

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...