Saturday, April 23, 2011

Enjoy your Saturday Night Live…


                     Black & White Photo                                            color photo

More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010

Infographic, US Soldeir deaths, Military, Veterans, Afghanistan, Iraq

For the second year in a row, more American soldiers—both enlisted men and women and veterans—committed suicide than were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. A difference of six isn't vast by any means, but the symbolism is significant and troubling. In 2009, there were 381 suicides by military personnel, a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths.

"If you think you know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, "because we don't know what it is."  Story Here

Check out this amazing time lapse video of Milky Way

Terje Sorgjerd, the photographer behind the viral video The Aurora, has done it again. Sogjerd captures the Milky Way over El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain.

Filmed between April 4 and April 11, 2011, the individual frames were shot using a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 17mm TSE, Canon 16-35mm II, Canon 24/1.4II, and Sigma 12-24mm.

GO HERE TO SEE VIDEO    Image via Vimeo screengrab

A poem by Ogen Nash…

The centipede was happy quite

Until a toad, in fun,

Said, "Pray, which leg goes after which When you begin to run?

That worked her mind to such a pitch,

She lay distracted in a ditch,

Considering how to run.

15 Bizarre Mental Delusions other than the ‘Birthers!’

When you are delusional, you lose the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy. You know, like the “Birthers” right now. Sufferers stumble through life, constricted by pseudo-worlds of their own making. Although the term was first coined in 1977, symptoms of delusion have been recorded for over 150 years.


1. Capgras Delusion

In the heat of an argument it’s normal to want to disown your parents or kids, but for the sufferer of Capgras delusions that feeling never goes away. It’s commonly caused when the “wire” that connects the visual section of the brain to the emotional section is damaged. As a result, the sufferer sees their loved ones but no emotional response is triggered; they truly believe that the person in front of them is nothing more than an imposter.


Read about the other fourteen mental delusions here.

'Birther' claims force GOP leaders to take a stand – fact or fiction?

Image: Donald Trump

It's the conspiracy theory that won't go away. And it's forcing Republican officials and presidential contenders to pick sides: Do they think Barack Obama was born outside the United States and disqualified to be president? Story Here

Donald Duck Trump is talking like a presidential candidate and is actually leading top Republicans like Mitt Romney and former Gov. Mike Huckabee in the polls. OMG!

I think the Republican Party better get their collective heads out of their asses and ignore the “Birther” mania coming from the extremists. If they want to maintain any credibility in the upcoming 2012 elections they should cut the ties with the wackaloons who ignore facts and reality. Some Republicans frontrunners are admitting they know the president was born in Hawaii. Even Tea Party favorite, Michele Bachmann, grudgingly let go of the myth on TV recently: 

“When ABC's George Stephanopoulos showed a copy of Obama's birth certificate to Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who was ambivalent at first, she said: "Well, then, that should settle it. ... I take the president at his word."

But that’s not going to stop those who simply hate Obama. The Republican Party is at a crossroads of credibility with the American public. Those who rise to the top and become viable contenders will have to cut ties to the vicious myths surrounding the president’s birthplace, unless they want to alienate Independent voters who don’t play the “Birther” game.

Meanwhile, oh what a circus this is shaping up to be! When you have clowns like “The Donald” in the main ring it’s going to be a show to remember. 

As It Stands, I recommend not sitting in the front row when the fun starts because there will be much fecal matter being thrown about during that three-ring  performance.

Guest Opinion: Class Warfarin: Dosage

Why Americans are not upset by the steady siphoning of wealth from the many to the very few is a question that confounds, more confounding than probing into America's love affair with the automobile because class and conflict are words, like Lord Voldemort, that cannot be uttered. Unfortunately, we are gladly feasting on what makes this silence possible.

by Joseph Natoli

“It’s crazy, but when I hear talk of “class warfare” in these Obama days we are in, I think of the rat poison Warfarin and the insidious way it kills.

Warfarin, according to our Delphic Oracle – Wikipedia – is the most widely prescribed anticoagulant drug in North America. Some thirty five years ago, I used it on my Oxley Holl’er West Virginia farm to poison a swarm of rats that had settled under the house for the winter. It’s got some persuasive talking points: one, the rats don’t eat it, croak and rot in place – under the house – but feed on it for days, wander away from the house seeking water, drink and die, and two, wise and closely observing rats can’t connect eating the poison and eventual death. They go on munching away while observing in the distance the death throes of their buddies. Maybe the expression “die like a rat” in some kind of loathsome, dark and mysterious way derives from this.”  Story Here 

The idea of class struggle and class conflict is foreign to American culture. We are all brought up to think we are one big, happy family.
Howard Zinn

Every violent reform deserves censure, for it quite fails to remedy evil while men remain what they are, and also because wisdom needs no violence.
—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible.
-Ram Dass

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kobe and Pau = KaPow! Lakers swat Hornets 100-86, take series lead

I just found out that Pau Gasol has been playing with a chest cold. Tonight he must have been feeling better because he scored 17 points and hauled down 10 rebounds in the Laker’s win.

Bynum continued to be a big factor, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Kobe was Kobe and scored 30 points. That’s the 80th playoff game he’s done that in now. Wow! Only one other player in NBA history exceeds that number. Can you guess who? I’ll give the answer tomorrow with a short update on this post.

Go Lakers!

(4/23) The answer to the question is: Michael Jordan (who else?)

photo source

Ira Einhorn: Earth Day co-founder killed, composted girlfriend

Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the "composted" body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and '70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself "Unicorn" because his German-Jewish last name translates to "one horn"  —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day. Story Here

Austrians hail a 'fairy-tale find' of medieval riches

Image: Brooch

A man turning dirt in his backyard stumbled onto buried treasure — hundreds of pieces of centuries-old jewelry and other precious objects that Austrian authorities described Friday as a fairy-tale find.

Austria's department in charge of national antiquities said the trove consists of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver plates and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments. It said the objects are about 650 years old and are being evaluated for their provenance and worth. Story Here

Potential 2012 Republican candidates are profiled on…


Gold at all time high: Fear, uncertainty driving gold rush

Image: A goldsmith displays gold bangles in his jewellery shop in Istanbul

Uncertainty about the economy's strength, fears about rising prices, worries over global instability. Investors are facing an onslaught of headlines, from inflation to turmoil in North Africa, that is driving them into the arms of gold.

The precious metal blew past $1,500 an ounce this week to record levels in dollar terms, rising for six straight sessions. The precious metal is still trading below its inflation-adjusted peak of about $2,200 an ounce, however.

There are no guarantees that gold prices will keep rising from historic levels. For now, though, just about all the forces that have traditionally pushed gold prices higher are in place. Story Here

I knew others felt the way I do about the upcoming Royal Wedding…

Dreading the Wedding by the Headlines…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Float through a gallery of Zeppelins from their golden age of travel

Go through this cool gallery to see more fantastic images from the golden age of zeppelins

New Graphene Material is Paper-Thin and Ten Times Stronger Than Steel

You know, of course, that this must be alien technology which we have just recently cracked.

Area 51…X-Files…have all hinted at it and now...

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have created a new material that is lighter, less dense, harder, and stronger than steel. But this material isn’t one of those breakthroughs that only sounds good on paper. It is paper, and it could be a game-changer for materials science if it can live up to researchers’ hopes.

[ Read Full Story ] Via

The Man Who Leaves Roses on Edgar Allan Poe's Grave Every Year Has Disappeared

One of the best pieces of arcana of American letters is the man known as the "Poe Toaster." Every year on January 19 (Edgar Allan Poe's birthday), the toaster appears in the Baltimore graveyard where the author is buried and leaves a half-empty bottle of cognac and four roses. No one knows his identity or his motives. Last year, for the first time in 60 years, the mysterious man did not show up. Last night, he failed to show up again, leaving many to think that the tradition is now over.

Story Here

Poe is one of my favorite American authors, and when I was in high school I memorized every verse of “The Raven.” I probably could still rattle off at least half of it…Once upon a midnight dreary… 

Bambi And Thumper Do Exist…

Captuinofre Captureograbbab

More Photos of these buddies. Found while Stumbling

'Weird Al' Yankovic gets permission to 'perform this way' after Lady Gaga dustup

Ooh, don’t worry, I’m okay…Hey, I just perform this way…

Lady Gaga has a sense of humor after all. That’s nice to know because I’m a huge Weird Al fan…

On Wednesday Pop & Hiss, the LA Times’s Music blog… reported that Lady Gaga denied permission for parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic to satirize her anthem, "Born This Way," according to a lengthy post on his blog.

Dubbed "I Perform This Way," the man who turned Michael Jackson's "Beat It" into the gluttonous ode "Eat It" -- among dozens of others -- planned on poking fun at all things Gaga and donating sales from the video and song to the Human Rights Campaign.

But before Weird Al fans got ready to picket the Queen of the Monsters, it turned out her manager was responsible for nixing the song, without sending it to Gaga first. Yankovic didn't actually need Gaga's permission, but he extends the mutually beneficial proposition as a courtesy -- his parodies have always fallen under "fair use"  in matters of copyright law.

Yankovic wrote in an updated post that Gaga's manager apologized -- and that Gaga loves the cover.

Royal Maddness: Would you pay $800 for a friggin Jellybean?

If this jelly bean looks like Kate Middleton to you then hurry over to ebay and bid on it if your one of those rabid royal collectors.

All I can say is Barnum and Bailey would have been proud of this royal circus wedding!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lakers even Series 1-1 – Bynum comes up big, Kobe sucks

The long and the short of it; Andrew Bynum went back to playing like a big man and the Laker bench looked really good.

Especially Lamar Odom who was just named 6th Man Of The Year by the NBA. A well deserved honor for a guy who has been a key for the Lakers during the last two championships.

Kobe was practically non existent. He made a lot of bad plays, and had his lowest playoff scoring game since…I can’t remember when! His defense on the Hornet’s Chris Paul was his only saving grace. He did make it tough for the New Orleans speedster.

Go Lakers!

Can you profit from pot ? Opposition against it is going up in smoke


Hard times, meet high times.

Freewheeling California and Colorado typically come to mind whenever anyone mentions easy access to marijuana, even for medical purposes. But with state-budget crunches forcing lawmakers nationwide to expand their minds to new revenue sources, opposition to pot is going up in smoke.

In a trend that experts say is likely to continue, even a number of states you don't normally associate with flower power or the '60s are approving medical-marijuana sales.

"One of the reasons we are seeing states having more of an interest in cannabis is because of the revenue it can generate," says James Pakulis, the CEO of General Cannabis (CANA, news).   Story here

Meet Daniel Edmondson: I love the lighting in his paintings

Recently Daniel Edmonson has been stopping by “As It Stands” and making some very nice comments. When I visited his blog, by invitation, I was blown away! This guy is really a great artist. Not because of all of his schooling, but because of his use of lighting in his compositions which are reminiscent of the Old Masters. This blog is humbled by his interest in the posts here.

Stop by his blog and say hi! Oh yea…and tell him Dave sent you! 

Happy 420! Check out how these pot entrepreneurs are stimulating the economy

Image: Kathy Parkins

“In many ways, medical marijuana entrepreneurs are no different than any other business start-ups: They need a business plan, venture capital and a fair dose of fortitude.

They also are likely to have something not generally found in most small-business owners: an activist streak.

More than half (58 percent) of those in the burgeoning industry say they started their businesses to promote expansion of medical marijuana or outright legalization, according to a report released last month analyzing the growing market. Only 12 percent said “financial opportunity” was their primary motivation.

You are unlikely to find numbers like that on Wall Street, Silicon Valley or even Main Street. A survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 29 percent of people starting a business said making money was their primary motivator.

Jeffrey Miron, director of undergraduate studies at Harvard's Economics Department, finds the data on cannabis entrepreneurs interesting — but not surprising.” Story Here

Kathy Parkins of Seattle owns her own cannabis baking company. Here she puts a few drops of a marijuana tincture into a spoon for a customer to sample at the Seattle Cannabis Farmers Market.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

McJob’s Hiring Day Draws Crowds of Desperate People Willing to Mostly Work Part Time at Minimum Wage with No Future

How exciting! This ought to get our economy jump started!

McDonald’s says they’re adding 50,000 new jobs nationwide! Oh joy! Oh boy! Oh wait a moment…this is coming from "McJob" defined as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects." (The Oxford English Dictionary)


“Danitra Barnett, the company's U.S. vice president of human resources, said she couldn't specify what proportion of the 50,000 new jobs will be full-time, or what they will pay.”

No surprise there. Take a guess on how many will be part-time minimum wage. Oh…there’s one more little thing that keeps this from being a game-saver for the economy and invigorating Wall Street:

“With 14,000 U.S. restaurants, Tuesday's planned additions amount to about three or four new employees per restaurant — the amount that each store is probably usually looking for anyway, said Sara Senatore, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.”

Story Here – ( Photo source)

Study suggests cheery people die sooner…I think I feel the ‘Big One’ coming…but I’m not sure


I may be in trouble. I’ve always had a problem with taking life too seriously, (as this photo attests) and have opted for humor whenever possible.

I may not have much time left as this study says being retired is not a good thing. Oh well. I always knew I wouldn’t get out of this life alive anyhow.

Serious folks live longer, and some stress is actually good for you, eight-decade study shows

“For decades we’ve been told that stress can kill you, that happy people live longer and that hours in the gym will keep you healthy. Now researchers have turned this kind of long-cherished conventional wisdom on its head. The new mantra: Stress can be good for you. Serious people may live longer than those with sunny dispositions. The treadmill may not hold the key to longevity.

These conclusions come from a unique study, which followed 1,500 Californians across eight decades. The study is described in a new book, “The Longevity Project.” Study co-author Leslie Martin says that some of the new results surprised both her and her co-author, Howard Friedman.” Story Here

Where Children Sleep: A Diverse World of Homes


When photographer James Mollison was asked to do a project on children’s rights, he found himself thinking back to his childhood bedroom and the deep importance it played in his upbringing. Taking that idea with him around the world, he photographed a diverse cross section of children and the bedrooms they call home. His moving images remove the children from their home environment, showing them before a neutral background that mostly hides their economic status as if to say “kids are just kids.” Only when their bedroom is observed, however, does the full scope of their living situation become poiniently clear. Where Children Sleep, a beautiful hardcover book featuring 112 color photographs is now available from

Go here to see more examples of Mollison’s photo essay.

TV networks washed up with soaps - gritty gameshows & cooks in

Image: "As the World Turns"

The demise of the soaps is inevitable. They just aren’t dirty enough to compete with reality TV!

People have shorter attention spans when scanning the boob tube these days, and are looking for a quick entertainment fix. Food is really hot with our obese society and the ratings are cooking the competition in mainstream markets.

“The cancellation of “AMC” and “One Life to Live” on April 14 sent shock waves through an already-reeling soap-opera industry. Last year, CBS killed off two of the longest-running daytime serials — “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light” — which was already a major blow for an industry that was losing viewers. But ABC’s surprise twofer announcement seemed to confirm that one by one, broadcast networks are giving up on the idea of original scripted drama in the daytime.”

Story here

Doctors literally gave woman a hand…surgery a success

The California single mother lost her right hand in a car crash in 2006

I won’t call this a miracle because it took a lot of hard work on behalf of the scientists and surgeons doing it. Medical science is making breakthroughs every day.

Still, I never would have imagined that we would someday have the ability to replace hands, feet, and limbs…

“But now Fennell has a transplant, a donated “new” hand attached to her own skin, bones, nerves and  tendons by a surgical team from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“It has been surreal to see that I have a hand again, and to be able to wiggle my fingers,” says the 26-year-old single mom from Yuba City, Calif. “My 6-year-old daughter has never seen me with a [right] hand. She looked at it, touched it and said it was ‘cool.’”  Story Here

Not again! What the hell is going on with air traffic controllers?

So what’s next? Falling asleep and watching movies may only be the tip of the iceberg.


“An air traffic controller has been suspended for watching a movie when he was supposed to be monitoring aircraft, deepening the Federal Aviation Administration's embarrassment following at least five cases of controllers sleeping on the job.

In the latest incident, the controller was watching a movie on a DVD player early Sunday morning while on duty at a regional radar center in Oberlin, Ohio, near Cleveland that handles high-altitude air traffic, the FAA said in a statement Monday.”  Story here.

Error caused first lady's plane to abort landing -

Today Air controllers blamed as White House jet comes too close to massive military plane!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sheriff accused of dealing meth in drug-ravaged state

Image: Tommy Adams

One county on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks seemed oddly immune to the scourge of methamphetamine ravaging the state, boasting few meth raids or arrests in recent years. Some residents now think they know why, after a meth bust landed the Carter County sheriff himself in jail.


As It Stands recently looked at this problem:

Speed Kills -- so why is meth still scourging our society?


No state has been hit harder by the meth epidemic than Missouri, which led the nation in meth lab busts every year for a decade before Tennessee took over the top spot in 2010, dropping Missouri to second. Missouri has reported more than 13,000 meth lab incidents in the past seven years. The highly-addictive drug, made by cooking common chemicals, has caused countless fires and explosions, along with severe health problems among users. Story Here

Sometimes money doesn’t buy everything…but


Certainly there are things in life that money can't buy, but it's very funny - Did you ever try buying them without money?                                                               Ogden Nash

I remember when my 1970 Dodge Charger got me in trouble in 1971

My 1970 Dodge Charger had a 440ci motor (425-HP), 727 Torque Flight Transmission, heavy duty Hurst Shifter and clutch. It looked just like this one, but was Midnight Blue metal flake instead of this Turquoise color.

I’d been out of the Army for six months in the fall of 1971 and bought the beast and got into some street races.

The race that got me in trouble was against a red corvette in Orange County. The cop clocked me at 110 mph and I was pulling away! His siren came on behind me. I pulled over, and the corvette didn’t.

I won’t even go into how ugly that little situation got. It earned me a visit to a judge who made me pay a lot of money for exhibition of speed and several other citatations. That was one hell of a car!  image source

Concerns grow as more Americans get caught in brutal gang violence of Mexican cartels

Image: Tiffany Hartley

I wrote about this subject last year and things have just got worse since then.

“While U.S. officials have long been concerned about the mindless violence bred by Mexico’s bloody and brutal drug wars, they have a new reason to worry: Americans are increasingly getting caught in the deadly crossfire.

Some who have died were themselves working for the drug cartels. But more and more often, experts say, the casualties are U.S. law enforcement officers and innocent victims who died simply because they ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. "These cartels will stop at nothing," said Tiffany Hartley, who became an anti-cartel crusader after her husband, David, apparently was gunned down on Sept. 30 by Mexican drug gang members on Falcon Lake, a dammed section of the Rio Grande straddling the Texas-Mexico border. "The violence is not going to stop and more will die at the unforgiving hands of cartels."

Photo -Tiffany Hartley, speaking at a rally at the Colorado state Capitol in Denver on March 30,  demanded that the U.S. government find the body of her slain husband, David.  Story Here

  1. More stories on The War Next Door

    1. Top cop quits after 145 found in Mexico grave
    2. Countless Juarez residents flee 'dying city'
    3. Violence, scandal mar governor's race in Mexico
    4. Gang's terror felt far from drug war on border
    5. 31 dead in 4 days in Mexico's Acapulco
    6. Images from Mexico's drug war
    7. NBC News: ‘War next door’ linked directly to U.S.

Say What? Bidder snags William and Kate PEZ for $13,000!

Image: Kate Middleton and Prince William Pez dispensers I can’t friggin believe it!

Someone paid over $13,000 for a PEZ dispenser.

Every time I hear something about that stupid Royal Wedding overseas, it gets more ridiculous. The American media (not just the entertainment part) is desperately trying to pump this matrimonial ceremony up into a money maker.

Their pathetic attempts to recreate the monster cash cow Diane and Prince Charles’ Wedding became, aren’t resonating with most Americans. Over 65% said they were ignoring the wedding in a recent Gallup Poll.

By the way, PEZ is an Austrian business, but someone from America (Connecticut) ponied up the bucks for this (I would hope) one-of-kind PEZ product.

Story here

Did you know that US taxes are among the lowest in the world?

Image: Mad hatters

By many measures, Americans pay less than most other developed nations

“Think you pay too much in taxes? It could be worse. You could be living in Denmark.

As you send your hard-earned cash off to the good folks at the Internal Revenue Service, a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development may help take some of the sting out of writing that check.

The Paris-based group that tracks the economies of 34 nations found that the burden on U.S. taxpayers is just about the lowest in the developed world.”  Story Here

Photo - Several dozen protesters using a "mad hatter" theme counter-demonstrate against a tax day Tea Party rally of about a hundred protesters nearby Friday in Bellevue, Wash

Changing of the guard: Coachella 2011 - The rise of a new generation

Arcade Fire

It was rocking in Coachella this past weekend as bands from the aughts dominated.

I can just imagine the heat there as I use to work in Palm Desert and had a newspaper in Indio.

It’s good to see a new generation of rock emerge with their own unique sounds. 

“As the U.K. folk-revival quartet Mumford & Sons, all of whom are in their early 20s, stared out on the 70,000 people or so gathered to watch their set at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on Saturday night, they couldn't help but remark on how much had changed for them. "In 2008, I was a punter sneaking in here for Rage Against the Machine," one of the Mumfords' string players cracked in disbelief.” Story Here

Photo - Arcade Fire performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio on Saturday. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Like David vs Goliath…Lakers vs Hornets….underdogs rule!

As a longtime Laker fan I can truly say I saw this loss coming….ouch! It still hurts! The Lakers have a bad habit of “playing down” to teams they think they own.

As I suggested in an earlier post, just because the Lakers won all four games against the Hornets in the regular season it doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the NBA Playoffs.

Losing today, 100-109, the Lakers weakness against top guards was fully exposed. Pau Gasol was beat up (stitches required under his eye) and had a horrible game. Kobe Bryant had more turnovers than the entire Hornets team who set a record for the least amount of turnovers in a playoff game. The Lakers looked unprepared and didn’t play like a team with good chemistry.


"It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters."
-Paul "Bear" Bryant


If you are a Laker fan this was an ugly game to watch, as they trailed through most of it. If you’re a Hornet fan, I’m sure you’re buzzing with excitement. It was a painful loss for the mighty Lakers who wanted to play the Hornets instead of Portland in the first round. Beware what you ask for!Another ouch!


"The most important lesson I've learned from sports is how to be not only a gracious winner, but a good loser as well. Not everyone wins all the time, as a matter of fact, no one wins all the time. Winning is the easy part, losing is really tough. But, you learn more from one loss than you do from a million wins. You learn a lot about sportsmanship. I mean, it's really tough to shake the hand of someone who just beat you, and it's even harder to do it with a smile. If you can learn to do this and push through that pain, you will remember what that moment is like the next time you win and have a better sense of how those competitors around you feel. This experience will teach you a lot on and off the field!"
-Amy Van Dyken


Will the Lakers recover from this stinging loss? I wish I had the answer. As a fan, I’m going to display confidence in my team, and urge them to play better in game 2. That’s all I can do.

Go Lakers!

image source

As It Stands: Social experiments, thieves, and six degrees of separation

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 04/17/2011 02:40:26 AM PDT

I wonder what would happen if I walked into a fancy jewelry store, tried on an expensive watch, decided I liked it, and walked out the door with it like Lindsay Lohan, who took a necklace?

A jury will have to decide if Lohan's guilty of grand theft. As for me? I'd soon be rotting in jail on grand theft charges if I tried that little trick. Heck, I couldn't afford one of her lawyers (even for an hour), and my defense team would probably look like the “Whose Who?” of struggling public defenders in northern California.

I'm picking on Lohan because she's been down this path before. Poor little rich girl caught stealing stuff. Gets old after a while, don't you think? Then I got to thinking (uh oh!) and wondered if she's conducting some sort of “social experiment” and plans to tell the jury all about it at the proper time?

I recently read about one teenager in Southfield, Mich., who claimed he was conducting a “social experiment” when he robbed a comic book store.

According to WJBK-TV in Detroit, the teenager didn't want money. He wanted a detailed list of collector merchandise and threatened to use a realistic-looking homemade bomb. Here's where it gets weirder; the clerk was stubborn and didn't meet his demands. Then the robber relented and paid cash for the few items on the list the clerk did have!

When he was arrested (you knew that was coming), he told the authorities that the whole thing was just a “social experiment.” Isn't that interesting? If so, he might want to contact Lohan's lawyers and see if they could take his case. Providing he's the son of an oil baron.

Now where were we? Oh, yeah. Social experiments. I found this great website -- -- which shares experiences in social experimentation, sociology and human observation.

I didn't stop exploring the subject of social experiments there. In a controversial social experiment currently going on in New York City, the city is denying part of its homeless population any assistance for the next two years. They want to see if their $23 million program, called “Homebase,” is helping the people for whom it was intended.

Sounds cold, doesn't it? Perhaps clinical is a better word. In medical testing, it's long been the standard to give drug treatment to one group while another, the control group, goes without. You can read more about this social experiment at

Have you heard of Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist most noted for his controversial study “the Milgram Experiment” in the 1960s during his professorship at Yale? You might look him up for further enlightenment on the subject.

He was influenced by the events of the Nazi Holocaust and carried out an experiment to demonstrate the relationship between obedience and authority. Shortly after the obedience experiment, Milgram conducted the small-world experiment (the source of the six degrees of separation concept) while at Harvard.

Particularly poignant to me is the song “American Pie,” which documents the period of 1959 to 1970 in the “10 years we've been on our own” of the third verse. Coming near the end of a turbulent era, “American Pie” spoke to the grand social experiments of the 1960s, which eventually collapsed under the weight of realities.

And in 1970, as I sweated in the jungles of Vietnam, I knew the world back home was rapidly changing. My peers in the States now looked at me and my comrades as the enemy. My generation didn't lead the country into a new Age of Aquarius where love ruled.

The really sad part is there is no going back to those innocent times when America's youth thought they could change the world with the power of love. Turned out, peace and love demanded a price. Harsher for some than others. We all paid it in different ways.

My final observation to share with you is that life is an ongoing social experiment, constantly evolving and challenging us to be happy.

As It Stands, the lyrics “Bye bye, Miss American Pie” still bring tears to my eyes.

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...