Saturday, June 27, 2009

Have you ever tried Absinthe? It was once popular...


After having been banned for over a century in most countries, Absinthe is re-establishing itself as a (legal) cult favorite, and the drink of choice for people looking to become inebriated as quickly as possible. Suffice to say, many of the older absinthes producing companies are no longer in business. These nineteenth century absinthe brands, did however, leave a wealth of history in the form of their print advertisements. Here is a small compilation of absinthe posters from the drinks’ heyday. Most of these come from French brands of the time, and it is interesting to note that many prove a foreshadowing of sexual innuendo-laden modern beer advertisements.

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-74% ABV) beverage It is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as “grande wormwood”. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color but can also be colorless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” (the Green Fairy).

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of February 2008, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Commercial distillation of absinthe in the United States resumed in 2007.

To see some more images click here.

Text and images via The Weird News

National Health Care: A Canadian's view on the subject

As the Obama administration tries to get a new national health plan through Congress, there are a lot of people with fears that it would make things worse for people. Canada is often held up as a poor, or good example, of socialized health care. It just depends upon who you talk with. I found this well-written article, by a Canadian who seems to thing the system works for them. She addresses most of the issues involved in a national health care system that does work.

From Common Dreams... 

Debunking Canadian Health Care Myths

by Rhonda Hackett

As a Canadian living in the United States for the past 17 years, I am frequently asked by Americans and Canadians alike to declare one health care system as the better one.

Often I'll avoid answering, regardless of the questioner's nationality. To choose one or the other system usually translates into a heated discussion of each one's merits, pitfalls, and an intense recitation of commonly cited statistical comparisons of the two systems.

Because if the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes.

Yet, the debate rages on. Indeed, it has reached a fever pitch since President Barack Obama took office, with Americans either dreading or hoping for the dawn of a single-payer health care system. Opponents of such a system cite Canada as the best example of what not to do, while proponents laud that very same Canadian system as the answer to all of America's health care problems. Frankly, both sides often get things wrong when trotting out Canada to further their respective arguments.

As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.

Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

Myth: Canada's health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.

Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.

Ten percent of Canada's GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada's. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

image via Google Images

'The Grand Life' and 'As It Stand's' team up today

D.o.D. and Homeland Security join forces


U.S. military teaches 'protesters' are 'low-level terrorists' Become 'dangerous citizen' by 'repeating the very phrases Founding Fathers used'

From the Saturday, June 20, 2009 post titled:
Orwell would have shook his head and said: I told you so!

By Bob Unruh © 2009 WorldNetDaily


So far everyone who has seen this toon asks. "Why Lincoln?".

Jefferson and Franklin and many others wrote these priceless documents. Lincoln, for all intents and purposes, stood alone in his attempt to defend and maintain their place as guides for our government, as well as maintain the nation as a whole, as the Founding Fathers intended.

Seems a shame to let certain departments in the very same government, screw with it!

Cartoon and text via Holloway's The Grand Life

Are we alien offspring? Scientists say we came here on comets

In 1953, a scientist named Stanley Miller demonstrated to the world that running an electric current - representing lightning - through a mixture of methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas and water could create amino acids and simple carbohydrates.

Miller, perhaps taking his cue from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, believed that he had proved life could spontaneously erupt from the most basic of ingredients already available here on Earth.

While this is what some scientists would have us believe, there is another possible scenario for the creation of life on Earth; perhaps it came from outer space.

X Files babble aside, it’s possible that bacteria (prokaryotes) traveling through space on comets, were the building blocks for all life on Earth. The idea that life on Earth arrived from space is called Panspermia and is backed by a number of high-profile scientists. Like dark matter and dark energy, it’s difficult to prove one way or the other, but hotly contested evidence concerning whether there was, or is, life on Mars may provide evidence of life-creating space invaders.

There is actually quite a strong case for the proposition that bacteria contained within comets and asteroids colonized and seeded the Earth for life. Pod people? Not quite. In 1996 NASA made public their claim that life may once, or still does, exist on Mars. Some in the science community have contested the evidence, but the NASA team was very sure that what they had in their possession were 3.6 billion year old fossilized ‘bacteria-like’ organisms.

Click here to read the rest.

photo and text via Science A Go Go

Friday, June 26, 2009

Here's the Top Ten Candy Myths to sweeten your Friday

Here's an example of one of the top ten Candy Myths from

Toptenz ...

#8 The Gruesome Origins of LifeSavers’ Name

Has anyone ever tried to freak you out with this little bedtime story: The inventor of LifeSavers originally designed the candies to be disks without holes, but when his poor little daughter tragically choked on one and died, he vowed to end the senseless killings, so he put holes in the middle and re-dubbed them LifeSavers? I’ve heard this one from quite a few sources, and, well, let’s think about this, people. Would that little hole prevent a kid from choking? It’d have to be lodged just right.

Naw, the real story is a lot less dramatic. In 1912, Clarence Crane began production of a peppermint candy. The machine worked best if the candies had holes in them, and he couldn’t help but compare these these donut-shaped mints with the newfangled life preservers that were becoming fashionable after the recent Titanic disaster.

Click here to read the other nine myths.

This article was submitted by Caitlin Kendall. Visit the Candy Addict for more sweet samples.

Poppy field fantasies: Stoned wallabies make crop circles!

 SYDNEY (Reuters) – The mystery of crop circles in poppy fields in Australia's southern island state of Tasmania has been solved -- stoned wallabies are eating the poppy heads and hopping around in circles.

"We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," the state's top lawmaker Lara Giddings told local media on Thursday.

"Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high," she said.

Many people believe crop circles that mysteriously appear in fields around the world are created by aliens.

Poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids said livestock which ate the poppies were known to "act weird" -- including deer and sheep in the state's highlands.

"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," said field operations manager Rick Rockliff.

Australia produces about 50 percent of the world's raw material for morphine and related opiates.

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

image via Google Images

Bored? Get mechanical centaur legs that let you walk like a horse

Short people of the planet rejoice! Now you too can be tall and nimble on your centaur legs!! Just imagine the applications these great legs must have. You can dress up wearing all black and your centaur legs and hop around your neighborhood on a moonless night scaring the hell out of anyone you meet! Oh the possibilities...

From Gizmag...

By Loz Blain

Ever wished you were a 7-foot tall semi-centaur with the body of a human and a horse's legs? Er, me neither. But there's plenty of people out there who do, and Seattle-based fantasy artist Kim Graham has come up with a killer Halloween costume that makes you 14 inches taller and gives you uncanny-looking equine legs and spring-loaded cloven hooves. The effect is quite amazing, and even a bit sexy - or, maybe that's just the admirably proportioned Ms. Graham; check out this video . A set of Digitigrade legs like these can be yours for under $1,000.

photo via Gizmag

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP: Actress Farrah Fawcett dead at 62

From The Canberra Times...

Actress Farrah Fawcett, best known for her role in television series Charlie's Angels, has died, her long-time companion Ryan O'Neal says. She was 62.

Fawcett died in hospital surrounded by friends and family shortly before 9.30am on Thursday (0230 AEST Friday), reports said.

"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," O'Neal said in a statement released by Fawcett's publicist Arnold Robinson. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."

O'Neal told People magazine's online edition he had talked to Fawcett through the night.

"She's now with her mother and sister and her God. I loved her with all my heart. I will miss her so very, very much. She was in and out of consciousness. I talked to her all through the night.

"I told her how very much I loved her. She's in a better place now."

Speculation that Fawcett's death was close at hand had mounted after veteran ABC television interviewer Barbara Walters said the actress had been given her last rites earlier on Thursday.

Reports said O'Neal and Alana Stewart were at Fawcett's bedside when she passed away at St John's Hospital in Santa Monica.

Earlier this week, O'Neal revealed he planned to marry Fawcett, who has been battling cancer for three years. "I've asked her to marry me, again, and she's agreed," O'Neal said.

photo via Canberra Times

O'Neal, 68, and Fawcett had been romantically involved off-and-on since 1982. The couple had a son together, Redmond, but never married.

Redmond O'Neal is in jail in California for drug offences and was not at his mother's bedside when she died but spoke to her on the phone before her death, his father told People.

Pop Icon Michael Jackson dies of heart attack

 From the LA Times and TMZ...

Pop icon Michael Jackson died on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest, multiple US media outlets reported, sending shockwaves through the entertainment world.

The Los Angeles Times and celebrity news website reported Jackson, 50, died after suffering an arrest just after 12pm local time (0500 AEST) and paramedics were unable to revive him.

The Times cited multiple city and law enforcement officials as confirming the pop icon's death.

Jackson's manager Tohme E. Tohme was not available for comment. Officials at UCLA Medical Centre where Jackson was treated also could not be reached for comment.

National and local television networks showed hundreds of media gathered at UCLA Medical Centre for what appeared to be a briefing.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Devin Gales did not confirm Jackson's identity but said paramedics went to an address corresponding to the star's home at 12:21pm (0521 GMT) and the person was taken to UCLA Medical Centre.

An unidentified family member earlier told TMZ -- the first outlet to report that Jackson had suffered a cardiac arrest -- that the star was in "really bad shape."

Michael's father Joe Jackson told E! Online he was aware of the emergency but did not know further details.

"I am in Las Vegas, but yes, people in Los Angeles called me and are with Michael and tell me he was taken to the hospital," he said.

"I am not sure what's wrong. I am waiting to hear back from them."

The reports came as Jackson prepared to make a keenly anticipated concert comeback in London, his first series of shows in more than a decade and the first since his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges.

However those concerts -- billed as the "final curtain" -- had been thrown into doubt after Jackson pushed back the opening dates last month.

Toronto's new green roof law a first for North America

From Mother Nature Network...

                                           By Michael dEstries

In a first for a North American city, Toronto recently passed a new law mandating "green" rooftops for all new developments. Any new construction with floor space of more than 2,000 square meters must devote between 20 and 60 percent of its roof to vegetation. The rule applies to residential, commercial, industrial and institutional structures.

As expected, developers are less than thrilled with the new mandatory rules -- least of all that they come during an economic downturn. Some estimate that green roofs could add more than $177,000 to the cost of a project; not including the ongoing maintenance, replacement and repair costs. "I don't think anybody is warm and fuzzy about having a green roof bylaw impressed on them as a prescriptive method," said one developer to Reuters.

Still, the benefits to the city in terms of energy savings and rainwater runoff management are seen as cost-effective in the long term. According to the organization Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, more than 3.1 million square feet of green roofs were installed in 2008, a 35 percent growth over the previous year. Though Toronto may have the lead in proactive legislation, the city of Chicago still retains the crown for having the most green roofs in North America at more than 600. Still, it should be interesting to see if our neighbors to the north inspire some U.S. cities to follow with similar legislation.

image via Photo: 416style/Flickr

'Outside The Box' teams up with As It Stands for laughs!

Tom Holloway is an old high school buddy of mine, and my brother-in-law. He does cartoon strips for the Frederick News-Post in Maryland.

"The Grand Life" and "Outside the Box," are the titles of two of his cartoons. Tom showed his artistic acumen in high school drawing superheros from Marvel and DC Comics.

Tom was recently inspired to draw this cartoon based on a post I made about Cheerios two days ago. If you'd like to see more of his work go to "Holloway's Grand Life" Enjoy.

Tom's comments:

Honest to God, this toon is based on an actual news story!

Check out the whole story from Tuesday, June 23, 2009
FDA says Cheerios is a drug and may not be legally marketed!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PETA Insanity: Clooney declines sweaty tofu offer

 That's all I can take without saying something. PETA has done a lot of questionable promotions in the past and taken some silly stands (PETA defends fly that Obama swats!), but this is just too much!

  Good grief! Who the hell would want to eat someone else's sweat? This is crazy. These PETA people must run around with tin-foil hats to avoid the galactic rays or something. I mean...c'mon...really?  

From ...

George Clooney has declined an offer for his sweat to be used to make tofu.

Animal rights group Peta want to create the unusual vegetarian food by extracting George’s salty perspiration from his used gym towel.

The organisation wrote to the handsome actor asking for permission to create the product, saying: "The technology actually exists to take your perspiration and make it into George Clooney-flavoured tofu (CloFu).

"Of course, your fans would swoon at the idea of eating CloFu but what interests us most is that we would attract many people who don't try tofu because they worry that it would be bland or that they wouldn't know how to cook it.

 Click here to read the rest.

image via Rueters

S.C. governor admits affair, apologizes to family, public

  All right, what's going on here? What is it with Republican Governors cheating on their wives? This is becoming pretty commonplace among the GOP.

This guy, Stanford, was supposed to be in the running for President in 2012, but he can kiss that idea off! Last week it was another Republican Governor, John Ensign of Nevada, who did the dirty with another woman, despite the fact that he's married. Both of these cheaters were upcoming GOP leaders. This doesn't bode well for the staggering GOP party who are trying to shed their shitty image!

  From the Associated Press...

  The governor of South Carolina, who caused a ruckus after he could not be located by staff, family and friends for days, said Wednesday he has been having an affair and will resign as head of the Republican Governor's Association.

Gov. Mark Sanford, a married father and a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, gave an emotional statement in which he apologized to his wife, staff and others after returning from a trip to Argentina that followed a days long absence.

TV COVERAGE FROM WLTX: Sanford speaks about trip

His staff had said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford's infidelity admission adds to an ever-growing list of woes for the out-of-power Republican Party as it looks to rebound against the popular President Obama and his emboldened Democrats. The episode is another distraction for a party seeking a turnaround after disastrous losses in consecutive national elections as it confronts a stark reality: its less than diverse ranks are steadily shrinking, its regional heft is limited to the South and it lacks a leader of stature to guide the party back to power.

Click here to read the rest.

photo via Mary Ann Chastain, AP

Senate to Consider Hate Crimes Legislation this week

Last year I wrote a column about hate crimes -

Election Fallout: Hate groups experience growth.

This year the senate is looking to do something about them.

From the CBN News Channel....

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider hate crimes legislation this week.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify in support of it.

The legislation is supposed to offer greater protections to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gendered crime victims.

But critics argue it could lead to charges against those who speak out against homosexuality, like pastors.

The Liberty Counsel is trying to collect more than 100,000 petitions to send to Senators before Thursday's hate crimes hearing.

Click here to read the rest.

image via Google Images

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FDA says Cheerios is a drug and may not be legally marketed!

How can this be? I eat Cheerios every morning. I need my Cheerios. I hope the FDA and the makers of my favorite cereal work this thing out and don't get stupid and take it off the market!

From The Washington Times...

The latest verdict from the Food and Drug Administration is that Cheerios is a drug. Parents, then, must be drug pushers.

The FDA sent a warning to Cheerios maker General Mills Inc. that it is in serious violation of federal rules.

"Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease" the FDA letter said. "[Cheerios] may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application."

Click here to read the rest.

image via Google Images

A day in the life of the biggest land-dwelling arthropod in the world


How can you ever look at a crab from Alaska, or say Maine, and not think about their huge cousin the Coconut Crab now? It’s the biggest land-dwelling arthropod in the world. So if it wants to eat your garbage... let it! They got their moniker because they're actually strong enough to break coconuts with their claws! Ouch! I don't know how eatable the Coconut Crab is...but be assured I'll never go looking for them!

crab photos via Riff Trax 

Russian church sells miracle stickers to cell phone users

From MOSNEWS we have the following story about cell phone users. I recently wrote a column about cell phones 

That column generated a tremendous response and some readers even sent me more information about cell phone dangers in regards to children using them. Since that June 7th column, a steady flow of emails has come in. I just got one yesterday (today's not over yet).

I thought this article was an indirect link to what I wrote about, i.e., cell phone dangers, and an amusing solution to a very serious subject. 

The Russian Orthodox Church has started to sell stickers that, when put on a mobile phone, will miraculously protect its owner from hazardous electromagnetic waves.

For 170 rubles, or just $5.5, anyone can purchase the sticker at so-called “church shops” in the Novgorod Region, where they are sold among accessories like crosses, prayer books and candles, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily writes Tuesday.

The round stickers are decorated with images of famous Russian churches and monasteries – such as Christ the Savior or the Trinity Laura. They are extremely popular with customers.

  Click here to read the rest.


Man digs 50-foot hole to fish - in his own kitchen!

A Chinese farmer dug a 50ft hole inside his house to go fishing.

Li Huiyan, of Chongqing, hired 30 villagers for six months to dig the hole in his kitchen, reports IC Media.

He wanted to reach an underground river which he suspected was full of fish.

The river had been over ground but had disappeared 30 years ago when the local authorities bombed part of a mountain to pave a road.

Li explained: "The river used to have so many fish, and by simply putting a net there, hundreds of fish would be caught."

After digging his pit down to the river, Li installed a fishing net across it and regularly hauls out fish, so far earning his family nearly £2,000.

"I sell the fish at a wholesale price of 24 yuan (£2.15p) per kilo, but 36 yuan (£3.20p) per kilo for retail," he said.

Li built ladders from his kitchen to the river 16 metres below, and each day he has to go down to check the harvest.

 Photo and text via Annanova

Monday, June 22, 2009

I think I'd like to go to Bora Bora - how about you?

photo by easy.tahiti )

Bora Bora - One of the most mythical of the Pacific islands remains the island of all dreams.

The legends, mysteries, and romance associated with the words “Bora Bora” bring an almost mystical presence to the island. The island, located about 230 kilometers northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef.

The island has been made famous by books, movies, and its stunning beauty. Warning- the island is now besieged by tourism and overcrowding. Regardless, if you must visit a South Pacific island, Bora Bora would be an interesting one.

To see some more incredible photos click here.

Crocodile versus Leopard: Guess which one won...

The astonishing spectacle of a leopard savaging a crocodile has been captured for the first time on camera.

A series of incredible pictures taken at a South African game reserve document the first known time that a leopard has taken on and defeated one of the fearsome reptiles.

The photographs were taken by Hal Brindley, an American wildlife photographer, who was supposed to be taking pictures of hippos from his car in the Kruger National Park.

The giant cat raced out of cover provided by scrub and bushes to surprise the crocodile, which was swimming nearby.

A terrible and bloody struggle ensued. Eventually, onlookers were amazed to see the leopard drag the crocodile from the water as the reptile fought back.

With the crocodile snapping its powerful jaws furiously, the two animals somersaulted and grappled. Despite the crocodile's huge weight and strength, the leopard had the upper hand catching its prey by the throat.

Click here to read the rest and see more photos.

Photo by Hal Brindley Story via the Telegraph

Marijuana News: Barney Frank Files Bill To Decriminalize Pot

From WBZTV...

A controversial law in Massachusetts could go national if Congressman Barney Frank gets his way.

Frank has filed a bill that would eliminate federal penalties for personal possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.
It would also make the penalty for using marijuana in public just $100.
"I think John Stuart Mill had it right in the 1850s," said Congressman Frank, "when he argued that individuals should have the right to do what they want in private, so long as they don't hurt anyone else.

It's a matter of personal liberty. Moreover, our courts are already stressed and our prisons are over-crowded. We don't need to spend our scarce resources prosecuting people who are doing no harm to others."
Frank filed a similar bill last year, but it failed.

The law passed in Massachusetts last November.
Ten other states have also reduced penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana – in some cases they are a civil fine. These states include California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon.

photo via WBZTV

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's thoughts about closing the gap between centuries and generations

By Dave Stancliff/The Times-Standard

 Posted: 06/21/2009 01:27:13 AM PDT

If you're a Baby Boomer like me, you might feel we are straddling eras. I have one slightly gnarly foot in the 20th century, and the other poking uncertainly into the 21st.

Mine eyes have seen the birth of television and the worldwide web. They have witnessed the end of the Korean War, the middle of the Vietnam War, the start of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the glory of space travel before it become a common occurrence.

I watched wonders from my Marvel and DC comics from the 1960s become common gadgets in this marvelous age. Wrist phones, wireless phones, and computers that can store limitless knowledge have jumped off those colorful comic pages and landed in today's reality.

If only H.G. Wells or Jules Verne, could have seen their wild ideas about space and inventions come true. Aldous Huxley would be intrigued by what's happening today. George Orwell would probably say, “I told you Big Brother would take over.”

I can still see Robbie The Robot walking awkwardly inside our little black-and-white 1950s television. All those early robots were big and bulky. They spoke in monotones and often looked intimidating.

Click here to read the rest.

image via Google Images

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...