Saturday, December 11, 2010

As it Stands: if you ever go to Texas see Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum

I’m just saying…

Artist Barney Smith, a retired plumber, has been named "The King of the Thrones" thanks to his very unusual canvases. Proving that plumbing can be an art, his passion is painting and decorating toilet seats, which he displays in his Texas garage. You'll find toilet seats decorated to commemorate Super Bowl victories, one emblazoned with license plates and others painted to depict his travels. Address: 239 Abiso Avenue, San Antonio, Texas
Photo courtesy of David T. Cole/ via Flickr.

Weird 911 Call: 'As soon as I saw the squirrel, I knew I needed backup'

Police respond after Okla. woman calls 911 to report rodent in her toilet

The owner of an Edmond home discovered a squirrel swimming in the toilet. It was one of the most bizarre requests for help the 911 dispatchers had ever heard.

DISPATCHER: What's going on there, ma'am?

CALLER: I have some kind of animal in the toilet in my bathroom.

DISPATCHER: Like, what's it look like?

CALLER: Well, it's gray. That's all I can tell you. I didn't look real good because it scared me to death. I'm sorry.

DISPATCHER: But it's not like one of your animals like a cat or something?

CALLER: No. My cat is in my office, behaving herself.

Read the rest here.

Anonymous donors spent $132M on 2010 campaign ads

Here’s the result of the Supreme Court's so-called Citizens United ruling. Anonymous people with political agendas accounted for 15 percent of all federal spending in 2010. Who were these people that were trying to influence election results? We’ll never know thanks to the Supreme Court’s criminally stupid ruling.

That ruling cleared the way for companies and labor unions to spend unlimited funds to influence elections, often using money from anonymous donors. It’s only going to get worse in 2012 when it’s time for elections again.

“Independent groups that do not disclose the identity of their donors spent $132.5 million to influence elections nationwide this year, accounting for about a third of all spending by outside groups in the 2010 election cycle, a report released Friday found.”

“Anonymous or unlimited corporate spending allowed by the Citizens United ruling represented 15 percent of all federal political spending in 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blast from the Past: I’m ‘Going up the Country’ with Canned Heat

This is my favorite Canned Heat hit. Brings back a lot of memories. Rock on!

Funny Video for Friday: Einstein the Parrot talks and squawks

Sit back and enjoy if you’re a bird lover!

This whimsical wrap-up of TED2006 -- presented by Einstein, the African grey parrot, and her trainer, Stephanie White -- simply tickles. Watch for the moment when Einstein has a moment with Al Gore.

About Einstein the Parrot

Einstein, the African grey parrot, has a vocabulary of more than 200 words and sounds; she can perform nearly half on cue. Full bio and more links

Discovery Channel documentary set for Saturday: Amelia Earhart's final resting place confirmed?

Image: Amelia Earhart

Tiny fragment of a human finger bone was found on atoll and is believed to be pilot's final resting place:

“A tiny bone fragment could provide crucial information about the fate of Amelia Earhart, the legendary pilot who disappeared 73 years ago while flying over the Pacific Ocean in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Collected on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, the bone has raised the interest of  The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the Earhart mystery,  as it may be from a human finger.”

Their findings, along with historical reconstructions of Earhart's disappearance and the futile massive search that followed, are detailed in "Finding Amelia," a Discovery Channel documentary  that airs Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The Discovery Channel.

The helpful hippo that rescues helpless animals from the Mara river

Visitors to a safari camp close to where the film Out Of Africa was shot stood in awe as they witnessed the annual wildebeest migration.

Here we go again: The hippo nudges the tiny zebra through the river to the safety of the rocky shore in Kenya (Michael Yule/Sanctuary Olonana)

Here we go again: The hippo nudges the tiny zebra through the river to the safety of the rocky shore in Kenya (Michael Yule/Sanctuary Olonana)

As they watched thousands of animals cross the raging Mara river they were astonished to see a hippo come to the rescue of two drowning stragglers.

The strong current separated a wildebeest, or gnu, from her calf and she watched helplessly as it was swept away.

Good Samaritan: The hippo gets closer as he sees the wildebeest struggling

Good Samaritan (right): The hippo gets closer as she sees the wildebeest struggling
‘To everyone’s amazement the hippo came to the gnu’s rescue and pushed it gently to the river bank,’ said Abdul Karim, the head guide at Sanctuary Olonana in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

The infant panted for a moment before getting up and running to its watching mother.

But the female hippo’s work did not finish there. Within ten minutes she spotted a little zebra crossing the same stretch of water and pushed it across, its tiny head struggling to keep above the torrent.

I’ve got gnu, babe: The young animal is guided to the bank by the hippopotamus

I’ve got gnu, babe (left): The young animal is guided to the bank by the hippopotamus
Maternal love can be so strong it can even surpass species boundaries,’ he added.

Huge concentrations of game move between Kenya and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park every year in the constant search for fresh grazing.

Thanks to Metro for story & photos

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sick Westboro Baptist Church to picket Elizabeth Edward’s funeral


Nothing is sacred with those sickos from Westboro Baptist. Once again they’re showing the world the face of naked prejudice and hate. 

I recently devoted a column to this group of hate mongers I don’t consider them a real church. You have a world class-hater, Fred Phelps, his children, grand children, and in-laws. They amount to 80 people. An extended family that has been raised to hate others. Fred’s bleak vision of the world, and twisted religious dogma, has not attracted outsiders to join them.

Westboro Baptist is a cult. An inbred cult that lives in a world that hates America, the very country that allows them to get away with spewing their filth outside private funerals. His loathsome world view is spread by his family. They’re also all-purpose haters, as Elizabeth Edwards was not in the military, but they’ve decided to profane her funeral anyway. Why? To get more publicity of course. Their cruel, evil, message will reach more ears. They have no sense of civility. They do not practice what the Christian God says. Their message is coming from the Devil that springs from all religions. 

Westboro Baptist, which is at center of Supreme Court case, also pickets military funerals

“A church that pickets funerals to protest what it calls American immorality says its members will be picketing the service this Saturday for Elizabeth Edwards, who died of breast cancer on Tuesday.

Based in Topeka, Kan., the Westboro Baptist Church said it would be outside the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., during the funeral for the former wife of one-time vice presidential candidate John Edwards.

Signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" have been raised at military funerals, and the church announced its latest action with a press release titled "God hates Elizabeth Edwards."

Crocodile attacks kayakers, drags guide away

Hendri Coetzee

South African Hendrik Coetzee presumed dead; two Americans paddled to safety

“An acclaimed South African outdoorsman who was leading a kayaking expedition from the source of the White Nile into Congo was dragged from his craft by a crocodile as two Americans watched, horrified. The guide is presumed dead.”

The two Americans involved:  Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic

Korbulic is from Rogue River, Ore., and Stookesberry is from Mount Shasta, Calif.

PHOTO: This undated photo supplied by Fluidkayaks shows South African Kayaker, Hendri Coetzee, posing with a monkey on his shoulder.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I’ll never look at storks the same after reading they fed on real-life hobbits

Bones of small humans and giant birds, found together, tell chilling tale

“In the "Lord of the Rings" books, hobbits were rescued by giant eagles, but real-life hobbits might have been hunted by giant storks, scientists find.

The fossil remains of what may have been a hobbit-like species of human were discovered in 2003 at the Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. In that cave, scientists also unearthed a large number of bird fossils — including 20,000- to 50,000-year-old wing and leg bones from what appears to have been a stork nearly 6 feet tall (1.8 meters).

"From the size of its bones, we initially were expecting a giant raptor, which are commonly found on islands, not a stork," said Hanneke Meijer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.” Story here.

Man arrested in plot to blow up Baltimore military hiring center

Here’s another case of a mad bomber being caught up in a sting operation. We’re certainly seeing more of this kind of activity. Americans have good reason to be concerned about extreme Muslims living in this country. The Europeans are facing more terrorist threats every day, as the Western world tries to adapt to radical Muslims moving into their countries. Luckily this guy was caught, but sadly, the odds of others out there trying to kill Americans are going up.

Authorities say suspect tried to detonate what turned out to be a phony bomb

“A man has been arrested for plotting to blow up a military recruitment center in the Baltimore area, authorities said Wednesday.

The Baltimore man planned to detonate a vehicle bomb at a U.S. Armed Forces recruitment center in Catonsville, Md., a plot that was a sting operation, the U.S. Justice Department said.

"There was no actual danger to the public as the explosives were inert and the suspect had been carefully monitored by law enforcement for months," said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd. He declined to identify the individual arrested.”

Islamists raise fears of violent 'clash of cultures' in Europe

Image: Anjem Choudary

'It's a mathematical certainty there will be a successful attack ... at some point,' expert warns


“But fear of another Islamist-inspired atrocity after Madrid in 2004 — 191 dead — and London in 2005 — 53 dead — remains high.

Rightly so, according to Dr. John J. Le Beau, a former CIA officer and now professor of strategy and security studies at Germany's George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

"It's a mathematical certainty there will be a successful attack in Europe at some point," he told "The amount of attempted plots we see is not decreasing. I think what we have seen is a ... strengthening of attempted attacks that in some cases have come pretty close."

PHOTO: Anjem Choudary, center, achieved notoriety in Britain after announcing an Islamist parade through the town of Wootton Bassett, where local people have taken to lining the streets to pay respects to dead soldiers as they return home through a nearby air force base.

Rock and Roll Marathon: Doc dressed as Elvis saves runner's life

Image: Dr. Claudio Palma

36-year-old anesthesiologist performed CPR on unconscious woman after Las Vegas half-marathon

“It wasn't blue suede shoes but a pair of sneakers that led a San Francisco doctor dressed as Elvis Presley to a woman who passed out at a Las Vegas restaurant after a marathon.

Claudio Palma tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he was dressed as the King after Sunday's Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon when he performed CPR and resuscitated another runner at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Place.

The 36-year-old was clad in a jumpsuit, sideburns and scarf for the race and may have looked like Presley, but in real life, he's an anesthesiologist.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

U.S. House passes bill designed to bring pot prohibition to an end!


I just received this news from Tom Angell, Media Relations Director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

I don’t know about you, but I never saw this coming…

U.S. House Passes Bill on Drug Cartels Growing Marijuana in National Parks

Cops and Border Patrol Agents Say the Only Real Solution is Marijuana Legalization

WASHINGTON, DC --  The U.S. House passed a bill today directing the White House drug czar's office to develop a plan for stopping Mexican drug cartels from growing marijuana in U.S. national parks.  A group of police officers and judges who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" is pointing out that the only way to actually end the violence and environmental destruction associated with these illicit grows is to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade.

"No matter how many grow operations are eradicated or cartel leaders are arrested, there will always be more people willing to take the risk to earn huge profits in the black market for marijuana," said Richard Newton, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who is now a speaker for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "My years of experience in federal drug enforcement tell me that only when we legalize and regulate marijuana will we put a stop to this madness.  After all, you don't see too many Mexican wine cartels growing grapes in our national parks, and that's because alcohol is legal."

The bill, H. Res. 1540, which was passed by the House via voice vote, points out many of the harms of the current prohibition policy that leads to drug cartels growing marijuana in U.S. national parks, including that

* drug traffickers spray considerable quantities of unregulated chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers;

* drug traffickers divert streams and other waterways to construct complex irrigation systems;

* it costs the Federal Government $11,000 to restore one acre of forest on which marijuana is being cultivated;

* drug traffickers place booby traps that contain live shotgun shells on marijuana plantations;

* on October 8, 2000, an 8-year-old boy and his father were shot by drug traffickers while hunting in El Dorado National Forest;

* on June 16, 2009, law enforcement officers with the Lassen County Sheriff's Department were wounded by gunfire from drug traffickers during the investigation of a marijuana plantation on Bureau of Land Management property; and

* Mexican drug traffickers use the revenue generated from marijuana production on Federal lands to support criminal activities, including human trafficking and illicit weapons smuggling, and to foster political unrest in Mexico.

The bill points out that law enforcement efforts to date have only brought about "short-lived successes in combating marijuana production on Federal lands" but offers no suggestions for solutions that would actually hurt the cartels in the long-term.  The law enforcement officials at LEAP believe that legalization is the only long-term solution, and if the bill is enacted into law they will be working to make sure that the White House drug czar's office seriously weighs ending prohibition as part of the strategy called for by the legislation.

The full text of the bill can be found at: <>

Speaking on the floor today, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), said the bill "serves to perpetuate this failed policy of prohibition which has led to rise of criminal production of marijuana on federal lands."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

Tom Angell, Media Relations Director

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

San Francisco, CA

phone: (415) 488-6615 or (202) 557-4979 


Videos of LEAP cops:

LEAP on Twitter:

LEAP on Facebook:

BOA admits antitrust activities as Justice Department prepares to launch massive investigation



A Bank of America billboard dominates a street corner in Times Square in New York City. US banking giant Bank of America has admitted it committed fraud in the bond derivatives market and will pay 137.3 million dollars in damages, the government said Tuesday.


Philippines bans 'Merry Christmas' at airports


Christmas greetings could be code for extortion requests, customs official says

“Visitors to the Philippines may get smiles from airport immigration officials, but they shouldn't expect to hear "Merry Christmas."

Immigration Bureau chief Ronaldo Ledesma says officers at passport counters are banned from offering Christmas greetings because they may be misconstrued as soliciting gifts or cash.

It is a tradition in the Philippines for children to offer Christmas wishes to solicit gifts from godparents and relatives. The practice has been hijacked by corrupt officials who sometimes use it as code for extortion requests.

Ledesma said Tuesday that a Christmas greeting, even if sincere, may sound like asking for a tip. Instead, he said officials should give a warm smile, and efficient service.

Ledesma's bureau has been criticized as a beehive of corruption, and he has promised to clean it up.”

Hero or Villain? WikiLeaks' Assange denied bail, jailed

WikiLeaks founder sexual assault claims

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was refused bail and jailed for a week by a British court Tuesday, pending an extradition hearing over alleged sex offenses in Sweden.

Assange surrendered to U.K. police earlier in the day in the latest blow to his WikiLeaks organization, which faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutors had issued an arrest warrant for the 39-year-old Australian, who is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another.

Assange surrendered at 9:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) Tuesday. The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported that Assange later arrived at a London court accompanied by British lawyers Mark Stephens and Jennifer Robinson. Story here.


  1. Is WikiLeaks hacker a villain or a hero?
  1. WikiLeaks reveals U.S. list of 'critical' sites

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marshall Islands: if seas swallow island state, is it still a nation?

Image: Cemetery being eroded along beach

Climate talks include that issue; Columbia University will gather scholars

Story here.

PHOTO -This cemetery on the Majuro Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands, is among the areas being overtaken by slowly rising seas.

Giff Johnson  /  AFP - Getty Images

Problem with new $100 bills causes Feds to shut down production

Image: Unveiling Of New Hundred Dollar Bill

As the Feds were printing their latest installment of funny money there was a production glitch.

So what happened? The bills were unusable because of a creasing problem in which paper folds over during production, revealing a blank unlinked portion of the bill face.

“A significant production problem with new high-tech $100 bills has caused government printers to shut down production of the new notes and to quarantine more than one billion of the bills in huge vaults in Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, CNBC has learned.”

And now…

“Officials don’t know how many of the 1.1 billion bills include the flaw, they have to hold them in the massive vaults until they are able to develop a mechanized system that can sort out the usable bills from the defects.”

Jimmy Stewart Museum needs a George Bailey miracle

Image: James Stewart In 'It's A Wonderful Life'

'We need a cash influx to help us get through this challenging time,' museum director says

“The Jimmy Stewart Museum needs a George Bailey moment.

It needs a community of good-hearted people who revere all that’s good about Hollywood to dance in with baskets of cash to save it from a dreary Pottersville of a future with shuttered windows and sidewalks of scowling strangers.

It needs a Sam Wainwright to wire it a line of credit to ensure future generations of Americans won’t forget about a Yankee Doodle Dandy whose charm and patriotism still resonate.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

As It Stands: American shame: Hungry, under-educated children with uncertain futures


By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 12/05/2010 01:26:55 AM PST

“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.” -- Pearl S. Buck

Something's wrong. Feeding America reports that nearly 14 million children are estimated to be eligible for free food programs. Over three million of them are under 5 years old.

Twenty percent or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food (John, Cook, Child Food insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that in 2008:

“Of the 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007), 32.4 million are adults (14.4 percent of all adults) and 16.7 million are children (22.5 percent of all children).”

Our children are our only hope for the future, but we are their only hope for their present and their future.” -- Zig Ziglar

So, how can we explain 16.7 million, or approximately 22.5 percent, of children in the U.S. living in poverty? Research shows that for young children even mild under-nutrition during critical periods of growth impacts their behavior, their school performance and their overall cognitive development.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -- Stacia Tauscher.

Childhood hungerad_41-2061798 is more than moral issue. Scientific evidence suggests hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens. How can this be happening in America?

We pride ourselves on giving billions in food relief to countries across the world, and we can't properly feed our own. That's just shameful. There's nothing else to call it. Our priorities need to be reevaluated.

“Upon our children -- how they are taught -- rests the fate -- or fortune -- of tomorrow's world.” B.C. Forbes

California's education system is crippled. A record 174 districts may not be able to meet their financial obligations over the next two years, according to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. That's a 38 percent increase over last year.

After announcing this news in June, O'Connell told The Associated Press, “The economic picture for our schools regrettably is bleak. The lack of funding is hurting our children, our schools, our neighborhoods and our future.”

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt libby

It's been hard to watch public education in California get $17 billion less than expected over the past two years, because of the ramifications. Teachers are laid off, we're seeing bigger classes and shortened school years. Extracurricular activities, like music and sports, are slashed for lack of funds. The same situation faces most of the other states.

Garrison Keillor wrote, “Nothing you do for your children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

I heartily agree with this wry evaluation. We need to take a long, hard look at what's happening with children in America. Our state and federal government should support them, not political agendas and partisan politics that prioritize everything but their welfare, education, and future.

As It Stands, Walt Disney summed it up nicely, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”


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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...