Saturday, September 10, 2011

‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order’

image  quote by John Burroughs

Oscar winner Cliff Robertson dies in NY at 88

Cliff Robertson, who played John F. Kennedy in "PT-109," won an Oscar for "Charly" and was famously victimized in a 1977 Hollywood forgery scandal, has died. He was 88.

His later roles included kindly Uncle Ben in the "Spider-Man" movies. His triumph came in 1968 with his Academy Award performance in "Charly," as a mentally disabled man who undergoes medical treatment that makes him a genius — until a poignant regression to his former state.

PT 109 image

Pug who ate, pooped 100 rocks is contest front-runner

If pooping out rocks was a skill, a pug from Rhode Island would be the most talented dog in the country.

Instead, Harley the pug will have to settle for a potential “Hambone Award,’’ given out annually by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Each year since 2009, the company has nominated the 12 most unusual and outrageous pet insurance claims that it receives out of tens of thousands. The award is named after a dog that was stuck in a refrigerator and chowed through an entire Thanksgiving ham before being found. The good news is, all nominees made full recoveries and received their insurance money for eligible expenses.

NBC Twitter acount hacked, girl saves her mother’s life twice, and SF eyes ordinance for naked bottoms

Good Morning Humboldt County!

What a great start for the day. The sun is shining early and it’s going to be another day in paradise! I’m glad you could stop by. Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with me as we look at a trio of stories ripped from recent headlines. I had no idea it was okay to walk around naked in San Francisco, or anywhere in America for that matter. You learn something new everyday I guess.

FBI probes hacking of NBC News' Twitter account

The FBI is investigating the NBC News Twitter account hacking committed by perpetrators who posted bogus information about the hijacking of a civilian airliner that supposedly crashed into Ground Zero in New York, officials said Friday night.

A posting on the NBC News Twitter profile accompanying the attack indicated the perpetrators may have been members of a new group of cyber pranksters known as "The Script Kiddies," whose main goal appears to be targeting mainstream news organizations. 

The postings were swiftly taken down minutes after they appeared on the main NBC News Twitter account — a tightly controlled account for which only three NBC News executives have the password. Anchor Brian Williams read a statement on the NBC Nightly News Friday night disclosing the attack, adding that the network was "working with Twitter to correct the situation" and apologizing "for the scare that could have been caused by such a reckless and irresponsible act."

Image: Sadie Sipes

Fourth-grade girl saves mom's life twice

Nine-year-old Sadie Sipes is a champion. A wall of her burned-out home displays trophies she's won for everything from beauty pageants to hunting. Now Sadie can add "hero" to her list of accomplishments. It was early Friday morning, and Sadie and her mom Stephanie Sipes were asleep inside their home in Linden. At around 4:00 a.m., the fourth grader awoke to the sound of smoke detectors going off. But her mother was sound asleep, ill, and not easy to arouse.

"I told momma and she thought it was just my brother's alarm clock and then she told me to go back to sleep," said Sadie Sipes. But the alarms kept blaring, by now Sadie Sipes was smelling smoke and terrified for her mom. "I had to shake her for a little bit because she was sick and then after I finally got her woke up she smelled smoke too," said Sadie Sipes. The whole back side of the house was in flames. The two made it out and ran next door to a neighbor's to call Sadie's dad and 911."I couldn't be more proud of her she's a very brave girl," said Will Gillioun, Sadie's dad. But the child's bravery didn't end with the fire. Three days after the blaze, Stephanie Sipes had trouble breathing and passed out at a motel room where she and her daughter were staying.

"I walked out of the motel door I just fell out," said Stephanie Sipes. Once again, Sadie Sipes took control, running back into the motel room and trying to call 911. The call didn't go through because she needed to dial "9" first. Motel staffers called for help when Sadie Sipes dialed zero.

Ordinance would cover naked bottoms

In the San Francisco Bay area where tolerance is king, it is a rare politician willing to clamp down on citizens who let it all hang out. But San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener stepped into that position earlier this week when he introduced an ordinance that would require nudists to cover their seats in public places and wear clothes in restaurants.

Public nudity, he explains, is legal in San Francisco and in recent years a group known informally as Naked Guys have shown unbridled enthusiasm for appearing in the nude."I see it pretty regularly, and unfortunately there are nudists who are not doing what they should," Wiener told Reuters. The nudists, who expose themselves most often in the city's famous gay neighborhood, the Castro District, have got Wiener and others worrying about public health. "I'm not a health expert, but I believe sitting nude in a public place is not sanitary," he said. "Would you want to sit on a seat where someone had been sitting naked? I think most people would say, 'No.'" Wiener, who represents the Castro neighborhood, said he hears from merchants who fear the public displays may drive away customers, hurting the business' bottom lines.

That's particularly true in restaurants. He acknowledged that he has not seen any research establishing a health risk. "But when you have your orifices exposed in an eating establishment, a lot of people don't like it," he said.California does have legislation against indecent exposure. But the law is lenient enough that it has barely affected San Francisco's current coterie of flaunters. Weiner's proposed ordinance will next be assigned to a committee, and Wiener expects a public hearing within months. Clothing required.

Time to walk on down the road…

Friday, September 9, 2011

Here’s some “Trashy” Art by Tom Deninger…

 Tom Deninger is an artist from Bristol. His artworks speak for themselves.

Check out the models created from nothing but trash.

I can’t believe how super-realistic they seem.

GOP Voted For $50 Billion To Rebuild Iraq Without Cuts, Now Insist On Cuts To Offset Funding To Rebuild America

The recent unprecedented onslaught of natural disasters has left already cash-strapped states with a record $36 billion in damages. Ten different natural disasters have struck in 2011. According to FEMA, damages from Hurricane Irene alone will cost at least $1.5 billion in disaster relief — and the hurricane season isn’t over.

This disastrous year is also the year that many Republican lawmakers have also decided to break precedent and demand that much-needed disaster relief be offset with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

(Photo - Wildfire damage in Texas) Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed to quickly usher $6 billion in emergency disaster relief for states through the Senate. However, even as wildfires obliterate more than 1,000 homes in his state, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) insisted that those funds be offset because “we can’t keep spending money we don’t have.” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), whose state has suffered “millions and millions of dollars” in wind and flood damage from Hurricane Irene, simply demanded that “we’ve got to offset everything“:

“We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, where deadly wildfires have charred tens of thousands of acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. [...]

“I think we’ve got to offset everything; anything that’s not allocated has got to be offset these days. It shouldn’t delay it,” Burr told POLITICO. “There’s hundreds of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse that could be accessed like that.”

This purist principle did not stop both Cornyn and Burr for voting to fund rebuilding efforts in Iraq without a single offset. Indeed, Cornyn voted against delaying $20.3 billion in Iraq infrastructure funds even though the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) noted that such a payment would increase the budget deficit. Overall, the U.S. has spent $44.6 billion in taxpayer funds on rebuilding Iraq through emergency supplemental bills — and not a penny was cut from elsewhere in the budget.

Cornyn and Burr’s position — first espoused by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) — is so callously out of touch that even fellow Republicans are slamming the idea. After enduring serious bipartisan backlash, Cantor is now gun-shy. Calling Reid’s emergency funds bill “unprecedented,” he is not clearly taking a stand against it.

Article source

Reflections: I was only 19 when I went to the Nam – the same as this Aussie soldier named Dave

Legendary Dave is an Aussie who fought with the US in Vietnam.

A friend sent me this video today, and it’s brought back a few memories from my experiences with Aussies in the Nam.

The video says it like it is. For example, the part about Agent Orange. A lot of people don’t realize how many Aussies fought alongside us in Vietnam and who were also exposed to that deadly defoliant.

I had a short mission – four days – assisting an Aussie unit in building a forward outpost in the bush. Those guys sure had a great sense of humor.I admit at times I couldn’t quite make out what they saying with their heavy accents but it didn’t matter.Their body language and easy laughter was infectious. Unlike most Americans in Vietnam who were minorities or from the poorer classes, the Aussie’s were mostly Caucasian.

We had many things in common, but the thing that stood out the most was our mutual disgust with the war we were fighting. None of us thought we were protecting freedom for our countries. It all came down to survival. You did what you had to do…no matter what.  

Otter love, the nation most tolerant of sex scandals, and a man dressed as Gumby tries to rob liquor store

( source )

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Welcome…step right in and have a cup of joe with me. This morning’s roundup ought to get at least one smile out of you! You may be surprised to find out that France is NOT the most tolerant nation when it comes to sex scandals.

National Kissing Day

Here’s a lineup of the cutest otters kissing that you’ve ever seen. Their expressions are priceless, but don’t take my word for it. Click the link above and be prepared to go ahhhhhhh!

And the most tolerant nation for sex scandals is..

When politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrived in France last week, cleared of a New York sex scandal, he returned home smiling despite facing a frosty reception. Maybe he should have gone to Mexico, instead.

Pay attention Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods, Brett Favre and others caught up in public, sexual indiscretions. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday shows 57 percent of Mexicans would be either very likely or somewhat likely to tolerate the sexual indiscretions of stars and politicians. They were followed by Belgians at 55 percent. In the United States, the tolerance factor was 48 percent. France, in fact, was way down the list at only 33 percent, while Japan was the least forgiving country at only 28 percent.

Man dressed as Gumby tries to rob store

In the world of animated TV, it's no stretch to say that good-natured Gumby is far down the list of characters that would commit armed robbery. But a man clad in a full-figured Gumby costume has made a botched attempt to rob a 7-Eleven store in California, and authorities are looking for the suspect, police said on Wednesday.

It happened early on Monday when the man came into the San Diego store dressed as the green claymation figure, accompanied by an ordinarily dressed accomplice, San Diego Police spokesman Detective Gary Hassen said. The costumed man announced he was robbing the store, but the clerk thought it was a joke, police said. "Gumby said, 'You don't think it's a robbery? Let me show you my gun,'" Hassen said.

The suspect then tried to reach into his Gumby outfit but experienced a "costume malfunction" and could not fit his hand in a pocket, he said.Instead of a gun, the costumed suspect pulled out 26 cents in change which he dropped on the floor, police said. The accomplice, who had left the store and gotten into a minivan, honked at the man dressed as Gumby. He, too, walked out of the store without managing to take any money, police said. Both men left in the minivan. After their getaway, the store clerk was still not certain an attempted robbery had occurred and did not call police. The store manager, who arrived later that morning, reported the incident.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’

image  —  Quote by  Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’re a conservative who hates taxes, please do the following…

1.Do not use Medicare...

  1. 2.Do not use Social Security
  2. 3.Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
  3. 4.Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
  4. 5.Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
  5. 6.Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
  6. 7.Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
  7. 8.Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
  8. 9.Do not use public restrooms.
  9. 10.Do not send your kids to public schools.
  10. 11.Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
  11. Do not live in areas with clean air.
  12. Do not drink clean water.
  13. Do not visit National Parks.
  14. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
  15. Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.
  16. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
  17. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
  18. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
  19. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
  20. Read the rest at the blog What Would Jack Do?

Exploring a smile’s subtleties, ‘Schweddy Balls’, and a dumpster diving dad who does what it takes to get by

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Don’t you love the mornings? It’s so quiet and peaceful. Glad you could stop by. Pull up a seat and grab a cup of coffee or tea, and check out the headlines with me:

Read my lips: New book explores a smile's subtleties

A smile is much more than a cheerful expression, writes author Marianne LaFrance in her new book "Lip Service." The smile, she suggests, "is a social magnet, a trustworthiness meter, a device for diffusing anger, a patch for frayed interpersonal bonds, and a lubricant for keeping social ties in good working order."

Perhaps that's why turning the corners of the mouth upward is "the most instantly recognized facial expression." Whether discussing lop-sided grins, wolfish smirks, sinister sneers, or radiantly beaming, LaFrance, a Yale University psychology professor, delves into the science behind the smile and explains its affect on politics, work, relationships, and culture.

This routine was a riot. Sure miss the classic SNL skits…

Ben & Jerry's tosses out some Schweddy Balls

On Wednesday, Ben & Jerry's ice cream company announced its newest flavor, Schweddy Balls, a limited-edition flavor that harks back to an "Saturday Night Live" routine and will contain vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered rum and malt balls, according to Time magazine.


When money ran short, this dad started Dumpster diving

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure.  For Todd, trash is simply a way to keep bread on the table for his three kids.

A programmer by day, Todd takes to the streets of North Carolina by night, digging through Dumpsters at drug stores and grocery stores all around his rural neighborhood.

"You would be simply amazed at what businesses throw out," he said. "I've only had to buy two loaves of bread all year. ... Last week I had a trunk full of cereal, cookies, chips and ramen noodles." Todd slinks in and out of smelly places with low-light flashlights to evade rent-a-cops who will shoo him away.  Most nights, his 14-year-old son comes along. "I don't like getting all the way into Dumpsters unless there's something really valuable in there, but my son doesn't mind as much. He'll jump right in," Todd said.  The two yearn for colder weather, when items spoil more slowly and the stench is far easier to bear.

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blogging on the GOP primary debate: who kicked ass?

buttkickAre you ready to rumble?

I never watched a Republican or Democratic primary debate before. I admit it. By the halftime break (where everyone had to scurry to the nearest toilet – especially Ron Paul - of tonight’s GOP blab fest, I realized how entertaining this little ritual verbal punching match could be.

Huntsman looked like the sanest of the candidates early on. Not that this is such a big accomplishment considering the room full of clowns. Cain sounds like a preacher. Speaks well, but a little too fast. Bachmann as a meek onlooker. Where’s her spunk? She needs to be a junkyard dog.  She tried to sound like she knew what she was talking about, but that $2.00 a gallon gas thing puts her further down the rabbit hole. Then there was Newt. Typical theatrical Gingrich classic rhetoric (we’ve heard it for years).

Oh yeah…Sen. Santorium (I did like his pink tie) said something.Everyone watching took the opportunity to yawn. Romney and Perry parried like two drunks (no one actually landing a good blow) but I expect more in the second half. Get ‘em Cowboy! At one point they all sang that they were family and wouldn’t pick at imagesCAKD4HT8each like rabid jackals for the entertainment of the Democrats. Then they proceeded to swing clumsy shots at at each other vying for an edge. 

 Back… Perry whines that he feels like a pinata suggesting everyone is ganging up on him. I hope he doesn’t pull out his guns as equalizers.…heartbreaking. Romney tries to act like the moderate and doesn’t kick Perry as often as he could. The others take a few dispirited jabs with no effect. Huntsman makes another nice little speech.

Perry explained how he made thoughtful reductions in the state’s education system. I tried not to gag knowing where he put the state’s money instead. Gingrich spoke up on education and it was like listening to him speak about it in the 80s. Totally clueless. Hold on! Perry’s talking about putting “boots on the ground” on the Tex MeximagesCAP1SKWT border. Perry calls Obama a liar. He says the Tex Mex border is not safe as Obama claims. He’s warming up.

Romney steps up on the subject and has the audience clapping. Perry withers a little behind the podium. Not one person clapped after his blathering. Gingrich is back. Oh yeah. Says we need to insist all immigrants learn English or get deported. Classic Newt. Sen. Santorium throws out the Italian immigrant race card and says he knows what to do about our illegal immigration problem.

Where’s Bachmann? There she is. Everyone she knows wants soimagesCA81DPK1mething done about illegal aliens. She knows what to do. Even if she didn’t explain what. She opened her eyes real wide and waved her hands. Now that got a scattered applause.

Cain said I agree with everyone. Next? Here’s Huntsman…he’s talking about his legally adopted Chinese daughter (I’m not sure why but he’s smiling). Paul says we don’t need to have an armed border. No really. He said that all that has to happen is for the economy to get better and everything will be peachy keen.

Final Break time. Here we go. Romney comes out and says “I’m not a card carrying Tea Party member, but I love them and agree with anything they say.” Here’s Bachmann…what the hell is she talking about? She’s not even addressing the question Brian Williams asked. She may be losing it folks.

No pledges says Huntsman! The rest of them all look a little pale…even Cain. Oh yea! Good one.

Huntsman is on a roll. Scattered applause. Perry responds. “We need someone wNO SPECIAL SESSIONhose worked in the private sector and who loves America. That’s me. I’m a job machine”

Bachmann on removing dictators: Obama has weakened us militarily. He not done what he should have to keep us safe. Shouldn’t have gone into Libya she says. This is the closest she’s sounded to sane yet…wait for it. A small applause.

Santorium says we need to stay spread around the world militarily. It’s what Ronald Reagan would have wanted. Huntsman – GOP can’t run from science if we want to win in 2012 – can’t make comments about evolution. Obama can’t lead, but Huntsman said he can. Perry says the idea of scientific theory of global warming isn’t right – he worries about economic impact. The science is not settled on “climate change.”

Get rid of the EPA Bachman says. Promote coal. It’ll lead to massive jobs. Drill baby, drill. Gingrich puffs up like a blow fish and rambles on about the fed. He agrees with opening up energy markettumblr_lptl70JPnQ1qzg84yo1_250s like Alaska. And off shore drilling.

Taxes. Romney says middle America hurt. No tax on people earning less than $250.000 would solve the problem. Then cut back on tax’s for corporations. Oh yeah. Sexy stuff. And Perry on the death penalty. He’s signed more death warrants than all of the other state governors combined. He feels Americans understand justice. Okay.

Back on Taxes. Cain promotes his 9-9-9 plan.Then tells everyone what they already know about the economy. Interesting tactic. I think he likes the sound of his voice, but people clapped. Paul went on a libertarian rant that lost some people. No mandates! No mandates! Looks like the debate is over.

My first and last coverage of one. Who won? Who cares????


Seven curious facts about Dr. Seuss books…

1. Hop on Pop

In an early draft of the book, Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wanted to make sure his publisher, Bennett Cerf, was reading the manuscripts he was turning in, so instead of this line:

 “My father / can read / big words, too. / Like… / Constantinople / and / Timbuktu”

the manuscript read as follows:

When I read I am smart / I always cut whole words apart. / Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too / Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo.”
Go here to read the rest

Health industry lobby influence on supercommittee, the new face of poverty in America, and waiting for the job market to improve

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Pull up a chair, grab a cup of joe, and join me in scanning a trio of headlines that highlight challenges facing the American economy. It’s not a pretty picture. How long will we go on like this? Something has to change soon. Too many “have-nots” versus the “haves.” The disparity is leading us away from hope for recovery and down the road to abject poverty.

Health industry gives millions to lawmakers tasked with cutting spending

Doctors, drugmakers, hospitals and health insurers have spent millions over the years wooing lawmakers who now are on the powerful congressional panel charged with finding a formula to control deficits and debt, a new analysis finds. Those very same industries would get hit hard if the supercommittee succeeds.

The industry campaign contributions, compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, reinforce doubts that the 12-member panel will issue a sweeping plan to curb federal spending, an equation that can't be solved without major Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

Working-age poor population highest since '60s

Working-age America is the new face of poverty. Counting adults 18-64 who were laid off in the recent recession as well as single twenty-somethings still looking for jobs, the new working-age poor represent nearly 3 out of 5 poor people — a switch from the early 1970s when children made up the main impoverished group.

While much of the shift in poverty is due to demographic changes — Americans are having fewer children than before — the now-weakened economy and limited government safety net for workers are heightening the effect. Currently, the ranks of the working-age poor are at the highest level since the 1960s when the war on poverty was launched. When new census figures for 2010 are released next week, analysts expect a continued increase in the overall poverty rate due to persistently high unemployment last year.

Wait for the job market to recover? Some workers can’t

The theory has it that disgruntled employees across the nation will start sending out their resumes once the weak economy turns around. But some workers can’t wait that long. They feel overworked, underpaid and unappreciated right now, and things are so bad for them that they want a new gig now.

The Labor Day holiday was created to celebrate workers, but many don’t feel like celebrating after years of cutbacks and sacrifices. More than one-third of U.S. employees believe “the spirit of the American workforce is broken,” according to the Aflac WorkForces Report released this week. And that appears to be causing the beginnings of a turnover trend even in this tough job market.

An annual labor study by, a jobs website, found that 22 percent of employed individuals in the United States have changed jobs in the last year, that’s up from 18 percent in 2010.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm 'cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs' samurai swinging man tells cops

A shirtless man swinging a 35-inch samurai sword while marching along an Indiana interstate was arrested last Sunday. The man, who appeared to be in his 40s but refused to give police his name, told officers he was “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

He apparently abandoned his car in a middle lane of Interstate 65 and was seen waving the sword around 2:30 p.m., police said. “The man was marching like a drum major, holding the sword, moving it up and down in rhythm with his marching cadence,” state police said in a statement.

(image) The man defensively swung the sword at an approaching state trooper but then dropped it in compliance with the trooper's command. He then tried to force himself into an SUV that swerved and stopped on the inner shoulder to avoid hitting a police vehicle responding to the incident, police said. He was charged with attempted carjacking, resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana.

Americans get ‘cool’ international rating, United States of Europe? and nearly 40% of Europeans suffer mental illness

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a seat, and let’s take an international tour of headlines. The good news is American’s are considered “cool abroad.” That’s not what I’ve been hearing in the news for years. I’ve heard more “Ugly American” stories than I care to remember. This news comes as a surprise to me.

The world still thinks Americans are "coolest" – poll

They may be witnessing their global superpower influence decline in the face of challenges from other emerging players on the world stage, but Americans have been voted the world's "coolest nationality" in an international poll. Social networking site ( asked 30,000 people across 15 countries to name the coolest nationality and also found that the Spanish were considered the coolest Europeans, Brazilians the coolest Latin Americans and Belgians the globe's least cool nationality.

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stands in front of a picture of Nils Schmid, Social Democratic Party (SPD) top candidate for the Baden-Wuerttemberg state election before an election campaign in Stuttgart March 17, 2011. The Baden-Wuerttemberg state election is due to take place on March 27, 2011. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Former German leader calls for "United States of Europe

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday called for the creation of a "United States of Europe," saying the bloc needed a common government to avoid future economic crises. Schroeder, a Social Democrat who ran the country from 1998 to 2005, said in an interview with Der Spiegel that European Union leaders were wrong to expect the euro to drive the bloc on its own.

"The current crisis makes it relentlessly clear that we cannot have a common currency zone without a common fiscal, economic and social policy," Schroeder said. He added: "We will have to give up national sovereignty."

Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study. With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden -- measured in the hundreds of billions of euros -- as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down. "Mental disorders have become Europe's largest health challenge of the 21st century," the study's authors said.

Time to walk on down the road..

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo Break: Portraits of Dogs as They Shake Off Water

For her series “Shake“, pet photographer Carli Davidson photographed curious portraits of dogs shaking off water.

Use a fast shutter speed and you can capture all kinds of strange expressions on your dog’s face.

You can find the rest of the photographs in the series here. Shake (via Photojojo)

Postal Service faces shut down, cheating on state tests, and campaign fund fraud lands Democratic campaign treasurer in jail

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Here we are at the start of another week. Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with me. Today’s trio of headlines offers a look at what’s currently happening in our country.

Postal Service on verge of going broke, shutting down

The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances. “Our situation is extremely serious,” the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

Cheating on state tests found at two Los Angeles schools

The state has thrown out the test scores of a top-performing Los Angeles school and of the highest-scoring campus in the nationally known Green Dot charter group after cheating was uncovered involving several teachers.
Short Avenue Elementary in Del Rey and Animo Leadership Charter High School in Inglewood were barred from receiving academic rankings released last week by the California Department of Education. That action deprived the schools of the state rating that has become the key figure used by parents and officials to judge campuses in California.

Elected officials notified of possible campaign fund fraud

Several clients of Kinde Durkee (pictured left), a prominent Democratic campaign treasurer who was arrested Friday on a federal fraud charge, have reported that they were contacted by the FBI or U.S. attorney’s office about the criminal investigation.

Durkee was arrested from the office of her business, Durkee & Associates, in Burbank on one charge of mail fraud and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Los Angeles. She had served as campaign treasurers on hundreds of political campaigns over the years, working for federal, state and local candidates. Officials have so far said only that the charge relates to Durkee’s work for a California Assembly member but have not disclosed which member or when.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) said Sunday that the FBI notified him Friday that Durkee might have embezzled from his campaign. He declined to comment further on the details pending Durkee’s arraignment.

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, September 4, 2011

As It Stands: Dying for dollars: reality shows and suicides


                                      By Dave Stancliff/For The Times Standard

What makes people display the most intimate parts of their lives before millions of strangers in reality shows? Is it the money? Is it the fame? Either we find them entertaining or we find them so shocking we are simply unable to turn away.
I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer, but I do know people are killing themselves as a direct result of being reality stars or sidekicks.
The most recent case is Russell Armstrong - the estranged husband of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Taylor Armstrong. He wasn’t a reality star, but he did appear frequently with his wife on the Bravo TV show.
 Looking back at an interview of Armstrong in People magazine published weeks before his death, is revealing in more ways than one. He admitted the show caused him angst in his actual reality. “It got really overwhelming,” he told the magazine. 
“When you get a TV show involved, and all the pressure — it just takes it to a whole new level. ... We were pushed to extremes,” he said.
Extreme is the name of the game these days. Each new reality show breaks new boundaries of bad taste, which by the way, is what TV producers say their audience wants. That may be true, but I suspect the main reason we see so many is because reality shows are much cheaper to produce than the traditional fare we grew up with.

With our struggling economy as a backdrop, reality shows are a way to hit the big time while doing everything from losing weight to fighting for survival in exotic parts of the world.
Common people turn into characters who suddenly find themselves on magazine covers, getting endorsement deals, and becoming famous and wealthy overnight. To some, this must be a heady way to achieve lifelong dreams, but when things get ugly, they find themselves living in personal hells.
According to, which investigated reality show suicides, 11 contestants or would-be contestants from reality TV shows around the world have taken their lives.
Reality shows where partying, sex and obscene behavior are glorified, set bad examples for today’s youth. Watching people treat each other ruthlessly to avoid being voted off the show, hardly sets a good example for anyone.   
For some viewers, it is a form of Schadenfreude, a German word used to describes people's delight and entertainment at the failings and problems of others. There’s no doubt people do suffer on some reality TV shows.

Actually there is less reality - unscripted and unplanned situations and reactions - and more staging of situations than the producers want you to know. One of the ethical problems of reality television is the fact that it isn't nearly as "real" as it pretends to be.
When you watch a dramatic show you understand what you see on the screen doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of the actors' lives. The same can’t be said for heavily edited and contrived scenes in reality shows. The producers define entertainment as conflict, and go out of their way to create it on the sets.
Situations are heavily contrived. People's ability and willingness to take pleasure in viewing such things may stem from their increasing separation from others. The result is they become distant  from each other. Some people objectify the characters and have no sympathy or empathy for them.

I don’t see any redeeming qualities to reality TV. What I see is humiliation and anger. The effects of reality TV can destroy lives. We all know this. We see the headlines. When people kill themselves after being treated like trash, or kicked off these reality shows, you have to know something is very wrong.
I know one thing for sure, as long as people watch reality TV programs, producers will make them and the stakes will get higher. Think about the Roman arenas where the ultimate reality shows kept fans entertained.  Can death sports be far away?

As It Stands, when we reach the point where we watch people kill each other in real time, the end times for this country will be upon us.

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