Friday, June 4, 2010

Travel survey cites America’s dirtiest cities

Image: Los Angeles skyline


From L.A. to Miami, find out which U.S. 30 cities need spring cleaning

Los Angeles is No. 3 on Travel + Leisure's list of America's dirtiest cities.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

As It Stands Preview: Frankenstein’s Monster has competition!

“Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!” Henry Frankenstein (played by Colin Clive) announced to the world when his creation moved, in the 1931 movie “Frankenstein“ starring Boris Karloff.

Now reality has met fiction, and the latter is not as scary as the first.

See this Sunday’s As It Stands in The Times-Standard.

image source

Report finds ‘Earmarks’ set aside for campaign donors

Is anyone surprised? Do people take notice of information like this anymore?

All Obama’s talk about getting rid of earmarks hasn’t done a thing. It’s just talk. The following link shows the money trail.

What say we actually go after these fat cats and either vote them out or at least change the way they do business? 

House and Senate lawmakers have received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions this election cycle from organizations for which they had sponsored earmarks, according to a new report by two nonpartisan watchdogs.

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Montana Cannabis caravans fuel medical pot boom

Image: Chuck Campbell


Chuck Campbell with Montana Buds talks with a new cardholder about the services he offers.

In Montana, roving cannabis caravans are makeshift clinics where patients can see a doctor, pay a fee, and leave with permission to use medical marijuana.


June’s Random Viewer Pick is from Tirana

Tirana is the capital and the largest city in Albania.

Tirana has a typical Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot and dry summers and cool, wet winters.

The main cultural and artistic institutions of Tirana are the National Theater, the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, the National Gallery of Figurative Arts of Albania (Galeria Komb√ętare e Arteve), and the Ensemble of Folk Music and Dances. Another cultural event includes performances of renown world composers performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of the Albanian Radio and Television. The city has been a venue for the Tirana Biennale and Tirana Jazz Festival.


Information and photo source

Study suggests chocolate health claims are ‘unproven’

Wouldn’t you know it? For the last couple of years studies have been touting the benefits of eating chocolate, much to the delight of my chocolate-loving wife. This news story is going to come as a blow to her, as she has been guilt-free while indulging in everything chocolate.

Studies have shown benefits from compounds in cocoa, but they remain unproved, and many of the studies have ties to chocolate makers.

It's every sweet tooth's dream. A steady stream of studies has linked chocolate to a variety of health benefits, including decreased blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, even effects on mood.

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Power Play: Blagojevich corruption trial starts today

Image: Blagojevich

Finally..after nearly two years, Blago is going to court. This ought to be real interesting. I understand the government has a lot of evidence against him. Actually, he’s probably no worse than most career politicians but he got caught unlike the others.

Let’s see what the squeekie wheels of Justice does. Did Blago hire a Big Enough Attorney to escape justice? Stay tuned: 

He's pleaded not guilty to 24 counts including racketeering, wire fraud

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial starts today. It’s the end of an 18-month ordeal that began with his humiliating arrest on charges of scheming to profit from his power to fill President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dieting for dollars? More American workers are trying it

How much money would it take to get you to lose some serious weight? $100? $500?

Many employers are betting they can find your price. At least a third of U.S. companies offer financial incentives, or are planning to introduce them, to get their employees to lose weight or get healthier in other ways.


"It's probably a waste of time," said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Photo source

Natalee Holloway murder suspect sought in Peru killing

I’ve followed the case of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance from day one. My wife’s maiden name is Holloway, and we both wonder if she and Natalee are related.

I’m still convinced that Joran van der sloot was Natalee’s killer, and he literally got away with murder because of his Judge father’s influence.

Now I see the scumbag is wanted for another murder. I hope he gets caught and somebody fry’s his smart ass this time! Here’s the link to today’s news story:

Arrest warrant issued for van der Sloot after woman's death


Holloway suspect detained in Peru killing

A Dutchman questioned in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway has been taken into custody in Chile for investigation in the killing of a woman in Peru, Chilean police said.Police announced Thursday that Joran van der Sloot, 23, was in custody in Santiago.

Java junkies get little buzz from morning cup according to survey

While sipping my morning brew, I found this little news item. Apparently researchers feel that caffeine addiction is such a downer that long-time drinkers don’t get a jolt from it.

The researchers should try drinking the strong coffee my Dad and Sister make. It’s almost like syrup and your teeth chatter for a little awhile afterwards. I don’t care how long you’ve been drinking coffee, their brew methods makes it potent to everyone – including longtime Joe drinkers. I know this from experience.

I also know that I still NEED my morning cup of coffee and that it still has the desired effect of keeping my eyes open and encouraging speech after 45 years of drinking it. See what you think about this article on the subject:

Regular coffee drinkers develop tolerance to caffeine's effects

image source

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

California voters back pot legalization, but support is shaky


Will a majority of Californians vote for legalized marijuana in the Fall? Here’s the most recent survey on the subject. I’m sure there’s going to be many more before people go to the ballot boxes.

Survey finds 49% support the ballot measure but a third of those only "somewhat" support it. Of the 41% who oppose it, a vast majority believe it will worsen social problems. One in 10 are undecided.

Deepwater Horizon disaster was no accident – it was a certainty

By Dave Stancliff/for ALL VOICES

Have you ever seen those old movies that ask you to “Follow the bouncing ball?” Using this analogy, let’s follow the bouncing ball that led to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before we follow what led to this ecological disaster that took the lives of 11 workers on the oil rig, let’s take a quick look at the political climate regarding Big Oil. Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a patriotic pal of the oil industry, told her followers the country still needs to “Drill, baby, drill” despite what happened in the Gulf.

Kentucky Republican Senate candidate, Rand Paul, wailed about Obama’s criticism of BP in the wake of the Gulf oil debacle and called it "really un-American." Then he told the press “accidents happen” to explain the catastrophic spill. A truly classic disingenuous statement.

Paul, already facing a backlash over remarks about civil rights legislation, defends Big Oil because he seeks financial support from the GOP to go along with his Tea Party backing. The GOP has been in bed with Big Oil since the first Bush took over the White House. That’s when the ball got rolling.

Read the rest at ALL VOICES  online magazine.         

Photo source

Photo Above: Sperm whales like this one are one of two resident species near the leak area. Like dolphins, whales have no fur that can get oiled, but oil on their skin and eyes can cause irritation and infection.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mother of All Sinkholes in Guatamala Caused by Tropical Storm Agatha

Central America floods, mudslides kill scores

More than 110,000 in Guatemala flee as first storm of season lashes region

Storm, volcano pummel Guatemala
In addition to Tropical Storm Agatha taking at least 63 lives, the Pacaya volcano started spewing lava and rocks, killing at least one person.

More photos

Lakers meet Celtics in Finals for 33rd time in NBA History

Lakers-Celtics eras

The teams, which have combined to win 32 NBA titles, will play Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Take the time to thank a veteran today

Randy Bish /

SF BAY GUARDIAN runs 5/31/09 As It Stands ‘Trolls Exposed: What kind of troll is disrupting your online community?’



Here's some troll information for those of you who may be wondering about the paid political trolls who saturate this and other websites with pro-party line garbage (and who are constantly whining about The Guardian yet they constantly come here and read the articles and comment on them).

From my experience, whenever I talk about trolls it's only the trolls who get upset about me bringing the topic up. So they really identify themselves by their protest of the topic....while the rest of us just go about our business and don't worry about the topic of trolls being mentioned. So who else would care that someone has mentioned something about trolls... other than trolls? Get it?

One of the things that's obvious about trolls is that they change their screen name from, let's say, "apples" to "scrapples." And then next week they may change their screen name to "blabbles" or "Mr blabbles" pretending to be yet another person. Sometimes they will even talk to themselves on message forums because they wrote BOTH comments as 2 different people

Here's an article about trolls and the next-to-last paragraph talks about them being paid. As election time gets closer, the more paid political trolls there will be showing up on message forums cheerleading for their D or R "team." Oh look, here's "clapples." Or is it "raccles" today? It doesn't matter's just a political troll.

And if one doesn't like the Guardian endorsements, no one is forcing you to vote for the candidates they endorsed.

Trolls Exposed: What kind of troll is disrupting your online community?
Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 05/31/2009 01:27:12 AM PDT


NOTE: This column ran exactly one year ago today. It still resonates for some.                             

                            Don't feed the trolls

    (from: Trolls Exposed: What kind of troll is disrupting your online community?)
You know the ones I'm talking about. They prey on news forums, chat rooms, and other online communities. Their purpose: to disrupt any conversation or thread, and to get an emotional response from some unwary person. Ignoring them and not responding to their posts is your best option.

What kind of people are trolls? They're cowards. Lonely cowards. Their posts seldom show any real imagination and often resort to childish name-calling.

Trolls are often extremely pedantic and rarely answer direct questions. There are some exceptions, but most aren't smart enough to make a reasonable argument. They're not interested in reason. They repeat themselves and say stupid, off-focus things to disrupt conversations.

Some trolls like to brag about their IQ. They try to come across like rocket scientists to lure the unwary and then pounce with a verbal attack. Trolls count the responses they get. [Sam's editorial: That answers my question that I've wondered about.] It must be highly pleasurable for the poor creatures to count coups if they disrupt other people's emotional equilibrium.

Trolls call it “Lulz,” a corruption of “LOL” (laugh out loud). Jason Fortuny is the most famous troll in America (using his real name in an interview). He was interviewed in the New York Times on August 3, 2008. This article is the best read I've found on the subject of trolls.

Fortuny's passion for “pushing people's buttons” made him the most prominent troll on the Internet according to the Times. He managed to thoroughly embarrass a lot of men with his infamous “Craigslist Experiment” as described in the Times article.

Like many trolls, Fortuny claims his pastime is just a big joke, a social experiment. He lives alone, spends countless hours anonymously insulting people, doesn't have a full time job, is 32 years old, and brags (to anyone who will listen) about being a troll.

For all of Fortuny's faults, no one has ever accused him of murder, like the woman in the Megan Meier cyberbullying case.

The suicide of a teenage girl highlights another type of troll. A deadly troll, sometimes called a cyberbully, took on a fake identity and seduced a vulnerable girl in MySpace. When the troll was sure she had fallen in love with the fake identity she (this woman posed as a man) broke up with the girl and said terrible things to her.

It was more than Megan Meier could stand and she killed herself. The warning is clear here. You never really know who you are talking with on the Internet, especially in online communities like FaceBook and MySpace.

For a guide on trolls go to, which offers an Intelligence Test for Trolls. For an insight into cyberbullying check out the book “BullyBaby: Portrait of a Cyberbully,” by Andrew Heenan. “Dealing with Internet Trolls,” posted on on April 17th, 2009, is another good information source.

Legislating cyberspace to go after trolls isn't feasible in my opinion. The web is a new frontier for freedom of speech and I don't want to see that changed by Orwellian laws that make it a crime to hurt someone's feelings.

So what do you do about trolls? Recognize that they are part of the Internet community and will be there as long as there are lonely misfits and people who have trouble communicating in the real world.

They crawl through cyberspace seeking to create chaos. It gives them a sense of power when they feel powerless in the real world. They get to say things they'd never dare say to people directly. At best, they are lonely cowards. Ignore them and don't let them spoil your use of the Internet.

Trolls are not hard to spot. For example, go to an online newspaper community like the Times-Standard's Topix Forum. In no time, you'll begin to recognize some names posted in every topic. Realizing this, trolls will sometimes change their identities, but their repetition and negative comments generally “out them” to an aware community.

There are also paid political trolls. They actually get paid to surf through online communities and disrupt meaningful conversations while touting their party line. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of this underhanded practice.

As It Stands, there's really only one practical way to deal with trolls: don't feed them!”

Posted by Sam

Sunday, May 30, 2010

As It Stands: Arizona immigration law creates deeper racial divide among Americans


Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 05/30/2010 01:27:14 AM PDT

Simmering racial tensions boiled over the moment Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed immigration law SB-1070 on April 23rd. Outraged Hispanics, religious leaders, Democratic lawmakers and left-wing activists across the country quickly responded. They organized boycotts against the state of Arizona. They all fear racial profiling will happen when this new law goes into effect in July.

Illegal immigration is dividing this nation, according to recent polls. The latest Rasmussen poll found that 70 percent of Arizonians actually support the controversial new law. The poll also noted that 53 percent of those questioned had concerns the law would violate the rights of U.S. citizens in Arizona.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans -- 64 percent -- approved of the law in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The Pew Research Center for the People and Press reflected those findings. Lawmakers have introduced similar measures, or have announced plans to do so, in 12 other states.

A new NBC/MSNBC/ Telemundo poll shows that White and Latino Americans are deeply divided over immigration. The poll shows 70 percent of whites support the law, versus just 31 percent of Latinos. In fact, 58 percent of Latinos say they strongly oppose it. Only 22 percent of the country's Latinos have a favorable view of the GOP, according to the poll.

Go here to read the rest.                                      Photo source

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...