Saturday, February 5, 2011

What do I wear? I’m now officially ordained to perform a 1950s Zombie Wedding in Las Vegas?

Ordination ReceiptMy niece asked me to marry her and her partner in Las Vegas this October. So I went online and got ordained by the Universal Life Church in order to comply with her request.

I received this:

“Congratulations! You are now legally ordained for life, though you may relinquish your credentials at any time. AS OF Saturday the 5th of February 2011 YOU HAVE BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS CLERGY. You have earned a title worthy of admiration and respect.

Let it be known on this date that in accordance with the laws of the Universal Life Church Monastery, as ordaining officer, I, Brother Martin, do ordain you into our ministry. From this day forward, you are entitled to all of the rights of an ordained minister. You have the authority to perform marriages, baptisms, and all other ceremonies of the church. You are an independent minister of this church. This is a position that carries with it a burden of responsibility; please respect others and comply with the laws of the land.”

As a member of the Universal Life Church you are granted the ability to:

So…it’s going to be a 1950s Zombie Wedding in OCTOBER and I’m trying to figure out what to wear! Any ideas?

‘Dangerous schizophrenic’ escapee hired to teach at two schools

I think it’s interesting to note that the students didn’t have a problem with their new teacher. They certainly didn’t flick him any shit during his short stay.

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – “A mentally ill man from Northern Ireland who once stabbed a work colleague in the neck was hired by a secondary school in France and taught German for nearly a month before his past caught up with him. Lewis Alexander Mawhinney, 26, escaped in November from a psychiatric ward where he had been interned indefinitely and labeled a "dangerous schizophrenic" after he attacked a fellow call center trainee with a knife three years earlier.” STORY HERE.

Sarah Palin trys to cast herself in Reagan mold during event celebrating the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth

A blistering critique

“During a banquet at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, Palin skewered Obama's recent State of the Union address. She suggested that his call to "win the future" through innovation and new investments in clean energy and other research was simply an attempt to increase government spending.” STORY HERE.

Great.  An idiot who wants to be president quoting a dead conservative icon.  Everybody knows she's a moron.  I hope that the Republicans nominate Palin.

What fun everyone will have watching her campaign.  Just to get primed I looked back at the Palin stats....She doesn't read the paper, she doesn't write any of her own material,  she quit her only elected position leaving her constituents in a lurch, she posted a map with gun sight crosshairs targeting Gabby Giffords...and stupidly declared "don't retreat, reload". She removed her gun sight targeting map after Giffords and friends were shot, but not before putting her foot in her mouth again. 

She works for the Fox News right wing propaganda machine owned and operated by some Australian super rich guy.  Why would anyone want this bumbling buffoon at the helm of America? What we need is a brilliant, dedicated-non-quitter who can rally fellow leaders and the people and take action for the betterment of us all. 

Slash the defense budget by at least half. Bring home 90% of military personnel stationed outside of US borders.  Stop wasting money on pointless space travel and focus on improving the water supply, delivering healthy food, developing green energy. and making ours the best educational system in the world.  On the other hand if gun toting is most important to you pick Palin.

Winter not bad enough? How about exploding manholes

“Record snowfall is turning the city's mean streets even meaner, with 65 manholes exploding or catching fire since New Years, a utility spokesman said on Friday.”
On January 18, manhole fires forces evacuations of homes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx

Record snowfall is turning the city's mean streets even meaner, with 65 manholes exploding or catching fire since New Years, a utility spokesman said on Friday.

With snow piled six feet high for the past month, huge ice chunks raining down on congested intersections and street corners turned into frigid wading pools, flying manhole covers are yet another symptom of winter's wrath.

Story here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Reverse Arctic Oscillation"- Frigid U.S., warm Arctic

Image: Map of sea ice

Weird weather shows 'why we've got to realize the Arctic is important,' expert says

While much of the U.S. is seeing a wicked winter, the Arctic is going through just the opposite: January saw the least amount of sea ice for that month on record, plus the region's air temperatures are way above normal. So experts are asking themselves: are these two events intertwined?

La Nina, the naturally occurring (i.e., not manmade) ocean cycle, is certainly a factor in terms of the precipitation coming off the Gulf of Mexico that's colliding with the cold Arctic air. But what's rare is the Arctic air moving so far south and in several rounds this winter.

It's well documented that the Arctic has been warming much faster than other parts of the world in recent years, and many experts tie that to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases that trap heat.” Story here.

This map by the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows the extent of Arctic sea ice in January, and how it compares to the 1979-2010 median (purple line).

Talk like your sweetie? What that says about your relationship

This study really strikes a true note for me. My wife and I would score well in the language-matching category. Sometimes it even goes beyond that, and one of us will say what the other was just about to! We like to kid around and say “great minds think alike!” Now, according to this study talking alike is another good indicator of compatibility.

Emily Taffel-Schaper and her husband, Fritz Schaper (left), say they often find themselves accidentally channeling the other when they speak. (And aside from a shared speaking style, the two clearly have a shared love for acting goofy for the camera.)

Study examines the grammatical structures of pairs' speech styles

“In one experiment, 40 men and 40 women (whose average age was 19) volunteered to take part in a speed-dating study. The volunteers went on as many as 12 four-minute speed dates, each of which was audio- and video-recorded. Researchers then transcribed the conversations, and ran it through a computerized text analysis program, which calculates the number of those "function words." Within a day after the speed dates, the participants were asked whether they would want to see each of their dates again — and those pairs who scored higher in the language-matching analysis were more likely to say they wanted to see each other again.”

And the definitive hangover cure is ... plain old coffee and aspirin, actually

Some people swear by bacon. Or Red Bull. Or a big bacon cheeseburger with fries -- the greasier the better. 

Thanks to new research out of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, though, we now know the exact cause of the hangover headache and the Absolut … er … absolute best way to get rid of them. (And no, it’s not a hair of the dog that bit you.)

Turns out, the scientifically-proven best hangover cure may be plain old coffee and aspirin.” STORY HERE.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Australian researchers claim parrots tend to be "left handed"

It’s stories like this that make me wonder what researchers are thinking?

What earthly good is it for people to know why parrots tend to be left handed clawed?

Try as I might, I haven’t come up with the answer yet.

“Parrots, like humans, choose to use one side of their body more than the other, with more of them left handed -- or, more precisely, left footed than anything else.

Some species even try out both before deciding on one side.

Australian researchers found that virtually all the parrots they studied prefer to use either their left eye and left foot, or right eye and right foot.” Story here.

Tension builds as states seek to copy Arizona immigration law

Measures introduced in at least 15 states; some pose dilemma for high-profile Republicans

At least 15 state legislatures are considering measures modeled after provisions of SB1070 that made Arizona the first state to allow police to question the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. The list does not include Wyoming, where a House committee this week killed a bill that would have allowed police to check the immigration status of anyone who is stopped for another violation. (Includes measures that had formally been introduced as of Feb. 2.)

"It's a huge problem," said Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi, where the state Senate last month became the first state legislative chamber to pass a bill modeled on the Arizona measure.

The Assembly is considering a measure that would require police to question the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

The House is considering a measure that would allow police to question the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. The Senate is considering a measure that would require them to.


Something you should know: U.S. cities with the worst drinking water

Image: Downtown Houston skyline

If you live in Pensacola, Fla., you may want to invest in a water purifier

“In fact, some organizations and state environmental agencies that collect and analyze water data say the level of chemicals in some Americans' drinking water not only exceeds recommended health guideline but the pollutants even exceed the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the national legal authority in these matters.” STORY

PHOTO - Texas conducted 22,083 water quality tests between 2004 and 2007 on Houston's water supply, and found 18 chemicals that exceeded federal and state health levels

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rewards for Rebellion: Tiny Nation and Crown for Life

You gotta love Casley’s spirit! This is my kind of guy.

“At 40 years, Hutt River is the oldest micronation in Australia, sprawling over 18,500 acres of farmland in this dusty, windswept slice of Western Australia. Back then, angered about a government quota on wheat, Leonard Casley, now 85 and still the leader, took his land and broke away from the rest of Australia. The apparent secession gave birth not only to this principality but, tapping into Australia’s convict history and an enduring popular disdain for central authority, also inspired a proliferation of new micronations across the country.” Full Story Here. 

PHOTO - Leonard Casley has been leading the oldest micronation in Australia, Hutt River, since its creation on 18,500 acres of farmland in 1970. Nori Onishi/The New York Times

Powerful Santa Ana winds overturn trucks; lanes of I-15 closed in Inland Empire

I’m reminded of the bad old days when I lived down in the Palm Springs area and had to drive on Interstate 10 every day. If it wasn’t dust storms, it was the high winds! Then there was the sheer volume of traffic…agghhhhh…I don’t know how I handled it for so long. Now I live in paradise (as far as I’m concerned).

Those dreaded and powerful Santa Ana winds were causing major problems in the Inland Empire on this morning, toppling big rigs and causing officials to close a portion of two freeways.
The California Highway Patrol reported that lanes of the Interstate 15 at Interstate 10 were closed because of overturned trucks. Story Here.

Punxsutawney Phil sees no shadow, predicts early spring

Image: Groundhog handler Ben Hughes

Prophetic groundhog has seen his shadow 98 times, hasn't seen it 16 times since 1887

The world's most famous groundhog predicted an early spring Wednesday, but wasn't willing to go out on a limb to forecast whether the nearby Pittsburgh Steelers will win Sunday's Super Bowl.

Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd who braved muddy, icy conditions to hear his handlers reveal that he had not seen his shadow.

There Goes Snail Mail: Thousands of Post Offices Might Close

There Goes Snail Mail: Thousands of Post Offices Might Close

Originally, the 'broader mission' of the post office was more than 'simply delivering letters—it was dedicated to spreading information as widely as possible.'

With that function handled increasingly by TV, radio, and, of course, the Internet, might the Postal Service one day become extinct?

As the January 24th Wall Street Journal reports, half of the US's post offices are operating at a deficit. In 2010, the postal service's losses were a record $8.5 billion

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As It Stand’s Random Reader for February is from Bialystok, Poland

Here’s a shout out to one viewer who spent 42 minutes perusing this blog today. Thanks for stopping by. I hope the weather is as nice where you’re at, as it is here today! 

Here’s a little history about where you live for other readers: 

“Białystok, with a population of almost 300 000, is a city located in north-eastern Poland, serving the function of the capital of Podlaskie province. It is the administrative, economic, and academic centre of the region which, due to its exceptional environmental assets, has been termed the Green Lungs of Poland.

The location in the environmentally clean region, full of tourist attractions, as well as the rich infrastructure of Białystok, makes the city and surrounding area a great place for living, recreation and development of tourism.” Go here to read more.

Here’s a list of the 10 Best Places to Live for Escaping World Conflict

Where would you be the safest if World War 3 broke out tomorrow? Perhaps it’s a grim subject, but safety and distance from world conflict can be a motivating factor in your choice to expatriate. switzerland

At the very least, conflict around the world can weigh heavy on the soul, and it’s nice to know there are some places still left in the world where you might be left in peace.

10. Switzerland

Switzerland’s long history of neutrality and its tucked away location among the valleys of the Alps still make it a safe bet, even despite having a high number of bordering nations. It helps that neighboring Austria is also considered a neutral nation.

Read the rest here.

A Modernist Breakfast at Nathan Myhrvold's Kitchen Laboratory

I don’t think I’m going to be eating a lot off of the items (or drinking I should say) from this so-called Modernist diet. Here’s one example:
A Bagel In a Glass

Broth made from an everything bagel, with tidbits of dill, lox, chives, and all the rest of a complete breakfast.The photo below is a look at the kitchen lab where they come up with concoctions that will amaze – and disgust – some people. Read the whole story here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New WWF Report warns that Earth 'will expire by 2050'

Our planet is running out of room and resources. Modern man has plundered so much, a damning report claims this week, that outer space will have to be colonized

“Earth's population will be forced to colonize two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate, according to a report out this week.

A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to be released on Tuesday, warns that the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life.

In a damning condemnation of Western society's high consumption levels, it adds that the extra planets (the equivalent size of Earth) will be required by the year 2050 as existing resources are exhausted.”

Full Story

Want to improve the quality of your life? Here’s 50 Secrets and Tips

50 Life Secrets and Tips

  1. Memorize something everyday. Not only will this leave your brain sharp and your memory functioning, you will also have a huge library of quotes to bust out at any moment. Poetry, sayings and philosophies are your best options.


Miracle Surgery: Surgeons removed half her brain to save her life

Toddler suffered from rare condition that caused constant seizures

Katie Verdecchia was born healthy -- a beautiful baby girl.

“But when she was just a month old, she started having seizures. Soon the Vancouver, Wash., girl was seizing every day, up to 50 times a day. The diagnosis: Aicardi Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the right and left sides of the brain don't connect. Doctors told her parents, Maryalicia and Brian Verdecchia, that their daughter might live to be 8.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

As It Stands: 'Huckleberry Finn': Another attempt at compromising a classic

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 01/30/2011 01:24:10 AM PST

There's no good excuse for rewriting “Huckleberry Finn” to make it politically correct. We might as well say all of our historical literature is fair game then. The Nazis took a shot at re-writing Germanic history. I think we can all agree that vile attempt resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives.

When people like Alan Gribben, a professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery, rewrites a classic like “Huckleberry Finn” I get concerned. His sanitized version is coming out in February.

I say sanitized because he replaced the word “nigger” with “slave” 219 times and substituted “Indian” for “injun.” Amazingly, professor Gribben was quoted by AP as saying, “I'm by no means sanitizing Mark Twain.”

The initial print run is reported to be 7,500 copies. So far, no school districts have snatched up this revised edition to spoonfeed to their students. That's a good thing. Still, it starts the year off with a racial controversy. Like Kai Wright, the editorial director for “Colorlines,” recently said, “We've got our first official race flap of 2011 -- and it involves something published in 1884.”

There's no doubt there is racist content in Huckleberry Finn. People have argued for years that Jim's subservient role as a stupid character and some of the language are offensive and should be banned. In September 1957, the New York Times reported the first time “Huckleberry Finn” was banned from the approved textbook lists of elementary and junior highs. It was still taught at the high school level, however.

In 1963, the Philadelphia Board of Education replaced “Huckleberry Finn” with a doctored version that toned down the violence and deleted all derogatory references to Negroes. They also “simplified” the Southern dialect. The administration of the New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, removed “Huckleberry Finn” from the shelves in 1976 after student protests.

In an excellent article titled “Controversy over N-word in 'Huckleberry Finn' is example of ongoing confusion in American culture” by Stanley Crouch, he challenges those who are concerned with the demeaning and dehumanizing effects of the N-word to look at black culture today.

He contends that the 1980s emergence of gangster rap took away the desire for black youth to study and read. As an example, he points out Thomas Chatterton Williams' memoir of growing up in the black middle class of New Jersey. “Losing My Cool” is Williams' harsh critique of the so-called “Hip Hop” culture.

Crouch contends that Twain's novel, “... N-word and all doesn't shock or even offend those black kids who are trying to connect themselves to the black lower class by carrying themselves like thugs or prostitutes in training.”

His main point is that people should leave “Huckleberry Finn” alone and turn their attention towards the lack of interest in learning among black youth today. He feels the book is a classic and “should not be mottled by well-intentioned stupidity.”

Millie Davis, the anti-censorship representative for the National Council of Teachers of English, said, “Yeah, it's a tough book. Which is an excellent reason for teaching it.”

Michaela Angela Davis, a former fashion editor for Essence magazine, weighed in on the subject during a recent interview: “If a teacher is not prepared to have a social and historical conversation, and place that masterpiece in context, is she prepared to teach that text? Should it be to those students? So, when we get into changing words, un-writing history, rearranging art, we start to put democracy in danger.”

Since “Huckleberry Finn” was first published, controversy has followed it like a faithful dog. It's been criticized, censored, and banned for an array of perceived failings. People have called it obscene and full of coarse manners. It's been slammed for bad grammar and atheism. Critics have claimed it has a low moral tone and is anti-Southern.

Perhaps Mark Twain himself best summed up his use of the controversial N-word. “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter -- it's the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

For those interested in this subject, go to and read “Huck Finn in Context -- A Teaching Guide.”

As It Stands, “Huckleberry Finn” is a revealing slice of life from another century, and there's not one good reason to change it in any way.

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...