Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Talk: Americans rated most hilarious in global poll

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Have a quick cup of coffee with me this morning, as I’m shortening my morning format. Reader feedback tells me that people are more likely to comment if there’s a chance to at the end of a post – as opposed to five posts run together and only one area to comment.

The Germans have been voted the world's "least funny nationality" in a global poll, which names Americans the funniest overall and the Spanish the most amusing Europeans, ahead of the Italians and French.

I find it interesting that Americans were found to be so humorous. That’s a good thing I suppose. The good news for today is no rain. None predicted this week anyway. It’s good walking weather and that’s what I intend to do with my pug Millie this afternoon.

Whatever you do today, do it with gusto. Life’s too short not to. Time for me to walk on down the road…

image source

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sexting scandal exposed when Weiner admits it was ‘his weinie’

It’s spring and scandals are in the airwaves again. The latest candidate for the un-coveted “As It Stands” Politician Doing Wrong Again Award” makes a pretty good case for being stupid.

New York congressman: 'The picture was of me, I sent it'

After days of denials, a choked-up Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a photo of his bulging underpants to a young woman, and he also admitted to online exchanges with several women. He apologized for lying but said he would not resign.

image source

Maniac Monday: Americans are not happy and other stuff…

Image: Copenhagen

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you this morning. Have you got a cup of something hot and tasty to drink? All right then. Let’s take a look at the news of the day:

US doesn't make cut for happiest nations list

What makes people happy? The question, which has been debated by philosophers for centuries, now is being tackled by international bureaucrats and the results are interesting, to say the least. Old, stable nations of northern Europe took five of the top 10 spots on our list. These include Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark. Switzerland is also on the list and has many characteristics in common with the Scandinavian countries. The resource-rich, English-speaking countries of Australia and Canada made the cut as well. Noticeably absent from the list are any OECD nations in Latin America, southern and eastern Europe and Asia. Many of the southern European nations like Greece, Portugal, and Spain are in economic trouble and have high unemployment.

PHOTO - Danish residents have consistently rated themselves as the happiest in the world for years in several different studies.

No joke! Your laugh lines may reveal bone health

Your laugh lines may offer clues to the health of your bones, according to a new study.

The results show that for women in their 40s and 50s, the worse their skin wrinkles are, the lower their bone density is.

"This information…may allow for the possibility of identifying postmenopausal women at fracture risk at a glance, without dependence on costly tests," said study researcher Dr. Lubna Pal, a reproductive endocrinologist at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Humble cabbage becomes art

Ju Duoqi stocks up on cabbages in the Beijing vegetable market and then transforms the humble vegetables into works of art depicting beautiful women -- that sometimes leave very little to the imagination.

The 38-year-old said she started using cabbages in her work five years ago when she was looking for a way to bring her art together with everyday life.

"Cabbages come in different sizes and colors. Under different light and in different contexts, I can make cabbages into various forms and take photos of them that produce different moods," Ju said.


Wind power turbines in Altamont Pass threaten protected birds

Scores of protected golden eagles have been dying each year after colliding with the blades of about 5,000 wind turbines along the ridgelines of the Bay Area's Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, raising troubling questions about the state's push for alternative power sources.

"It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production," said field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program. "We only have 60 pairs."

PHOTO - Biologist Joseph DiDonato cradles a golden eagle chick for a Bay Area study. On average, 67 golden eagles are killed each year by wind turbines. (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times


Conspiracy theories abound in American politics

Gulf of Tonkin incident

Osama bin Laden is alive and well. President Obama is a closet Kenyan. Arnold Schwarzenegger hid his out-of-wedlock child with the help of scheming reporters.

Most people dismiss such talk as obviously untrue, if not downright nutty.

But to the conspiracy-minded, those assertions are not just plausible but absolutely true, making them just the latest threads in a long American tradition of suspicion and skepticism that is woven deep within our political and cultural DNA.

PHOTO - Events such as the Gulf of Tonkin incident have convinced some Americans that their leaders are not to be trusted. In a 1964 press briefing, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara described "unprovoked and deliberate" attacks by North Vietnamese boats against U.S. destroyers. The claims were later revealed as a false pretense for plunging the U.S. deeper into the Vietnam War. (Bob Schutz / Associated Press)

I hope you enjoyed our time together. It’s time for me to head on down the road…

Sunday, June 5, 2011

As It Stands: Summer vacations: Costly, stressful, but oh, those memories!

Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 06/05/2011 02:40:23 AM PDT

Listen closely. Can you hear it? The high-pitched chords of “School's Out” from Alice Cooper's 1972 title track single is playing on iPods across the country. Summer vacation is upon us. Let the rituals begin.

Americans love vacations. We love to be entertained. We love to travel. With the current weak economy, however, a lot of us won't be loading up the family SUV and going very far down holiday road.

The price of gas alone is a daunting obstacle. Those with urban beasts that gulp a gallon every 10 to 25 miles will have to look for vacations near home if they don't want to spend all their money on fuel. Somewhere really close. Like maybe the next county.

Forget about flying. Not only has it become so costly you don't dare take a carry-on bag (the prices are going up, up and away), you might also be selected to be groped just because.

But I digress. We're talking about kids getting out of school and parents who feel a lemming-like urge to go somewhere special and prevent their whiny complaints about being bored.

Have you ever seen the movie “Family Vacation?” If you can't afford to go anywhere this summer, rent it for a good laugh. It'll also drown out the kids' whining if you turn the volume up high enough!

I remember going on old Route 66 from California to Ohio and back for a family reunion during the summer of 1966. I was 16 and my brother was 14. We fought every inch of the way. My mother's dire threats didn't carry much weight as she was in the front seat with Dad, and they couldn't reach us in the back of that 1964 Chevrolet Impala without stopping the car.

We didn't have video games or cell phones to entertain us, so we played classic games like “Slug Bug.” You remember that one, don't you? Whoever saw a VW first shouted, “Slug Bug!” and got to slug the other person on the shoulder. Those were simple times.

When I graduated from high school in 1968, a buddy and I took off for the ultimate summer vacation. We drove his black Slug Bug up the west coast to Canada, across Canada to Winnipeg, down to Minnesota, over to Ohio and New York, south to Georgia, and finally west again on Route 66, back to California.

You'll never guess how much we spent on gas. My buddy Larry, who has always been a hoarder (he calls it collecting), has every receipt for gas we bought on that trip! No kidding. It cost us $312.44!

He still proudly shows those receipts to anyone who'll listen to the story of our amazing summer vacation. Yes, he has food receipts, too, but I don't think he's added those up. They don't make as good a topic for conversation as the gas ones.

My wife and I don't worry about summer vacations anymore. We're retired. There's no longer need to shudder when the schools let out in June and our three sons get bored. No sweat now. No stress. If we feel like going somewhere, we still go, but usually prefer to travel when the weather's cooler.

Summer vacations are all about adventure and fun. Sometimes more adventure than fun, but that's life. It's a time for making memories. “Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it,” said Russell Baker. If you've ever had a bad sunburn from going to the beach in the summer, this observation may be especially poignant to you.

I'd like to give you a list of cheap places to travel this summer, but it's all relative. Have you been saving all year and do you now have a comfortable “nest egg” to crack for a family-friendly resort in Cancun?

Or, like many Americans this year, are you going to go a little deeper in debt and head for a theme park in the lower 48?

As It Stands, (in my best Michael Buffer's voice): Let's get ready ... to trav ... el!

Websites carrying this column:

Beach Vacation Home News -

Poll With Us – Your voice makes a difference

Tremont City, Ohio

Family Beach Vacations

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Family dog “bears” hugs from furry visitor…

Family adopts cub

Look at the tolerance in this dogs eyes. Pretty impressive considering the cub is obviously nibbling on him!

A Slovenian family adopted a three-and-half-month-old bear cub that  strolled into their yard about 30 days ago. Although the Logar family would like to put the cub in a fenced enclosure, veterinary authorities would prefer to move it into a shelter for wild animals.

My guess…he ends up in a shelter. I hope it’s a good one.


Interesting Prison Life: Prisoners Can Do Anything, Except Leave

Image: Inmates party

On the outside, the San Antonio prison on Margarita Island looks like any other Venezuelan penitentiary. Soldiers in green fatigues stand at its gates. Sharpshooters squint from watchtowers. Guards cast menacing glances at visitors before searching them at the entrance.

But once inside, the prison for more than 2,000 Venezuelans and foreigners held largely for drug trafficking looks more like a Hugh Hefner-inspired fleshpot than a stockade for toughened smugglers.

Bikini-clad female visitors frolic under the Caribbean sun in an outdoor pool. Marijuana smoke flavors the air. Reggaetón booms from a club filled with grinding couples. Paintings of the Playboy logo adorn the pool hall. Inmates and their guests jostle to place bets at the prison’s raucous cockfighting arena. STORY HERE

Saturday Coffee Break: Dad waves at son’s bus in costume every day and more stuff

Some of the costumes are down-right scary though..

Good Morning Humboldt County!

The coffees nice and hot this drizzly Saturday morning, and there’s a number of interesting items I’d like to share with you.

Starting with the video on the right, we have a Dad who wants to leave a life-long impression on his son. Something he can share with his children about grandpa.

Okay…what a legacy.

I can’t help wondering what the grandchildren are going to think some day when they see his costumes.


US strike kills top al-Qaida operative in Pakistan

A top al-Qaida commander and possible replacement for Osama bin Laden was killed in an American drone-fired missile strike close to the Afghan border, a militant group and Pakistani officials said Saturday.

Ilyas Kashmiri's apparent death is another blow to al-Qaida just over a month after bin Laden was killed by American commandos in a northwest Pakistani army town. Described by U.S. officials as al-Qaida's military operations chief in Pakistan, the 47-year-old Pakistani was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused of a string of bloody attacks in South Asia, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre, as well as aiding plots in the West.




New Mexico boy, 9, becomes youngest to fly balloon solo

I could just see one of my grandchildren doing this. What a feat for a youngster.

A 9-year-old boy has lifted off from a desolate patch of central New Mexico and floated into history.

Bobby Bradley became the youngest trained pilot to fly solo in a hot air balloon early Saturday morning in Tome. He took off in the company of three other balloons, whose pilots included a designated balloon examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration. A crowd of about 50 supporters, including family, friends and classmates, cheered as they took off.

Saggy pants mean no ride on one Texas bus system

Don't get on the bus in Ft. Worth, Texas, if you're not properly dressed.

The Ft. Worth Transportation Authority, known as "The T," has implemented a new policy that prohibits any passenger from boarding a bus with "saggy" pants that expose the person's underwear or buttocks.

"Riders don't want to see a person dressed like that on a public bus," Joan Hunter, communications manager for The T, told Reuters on Thursday. "Our customers think it's disrespectful."

The saggy pants look has been around for more than a decade, tracing its roots to prison attire because inmates are not issued belts. It spread to the rap and hip-hop music community, and from there became a popular symbol of freedom and cultural awareness for many young people.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by. Time for me to head on down the road…

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finally Friday: man’s stolen photo becomes the face of revolution and other stuff

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Pull up a rug, chair, or beanbag, and join me for a cup of Joe this morning as we look at what’s happening in this wacky world of ours:

He became the face of revolution -- because his picture was stolen

His is the face of revolution in the Middle East and in Latin America. He's on the cover of a book published in Mexico. He's an unforgettable image of anger on T-shirts everywhere.  He's an icon painted by graffiti artists on city walls in Spain and on castle walls in Iran. But really, he's none of those things.

Noam Galai is a photographer who's had his self-portrait stolen and misused all around the world -- a stunning case of global intellectual property theft and identity theft that illustrates how life in the digital age can easily rob people the very essence of their identity.

Image: Rielle Hunter and John Edwards

John Edwards charged in felony indictment

The recipient of the “As It Stands Scum of the Year 2010” was John Edwards. Today a federal grand jury indicted the two-time presidential candidate over $925,000 spent to keep his mistress and their baby in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House.

In this Dec. 27, 2006, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, is shown with videographer Rielle Hunter in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, La.

Image: BeerSurprising -- and fun -- ways to cut diabetes risk

Beer, wine and coffee can minimize your chances of developing Type 2. Cheers to that!

A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed a link between moderate alcohol consumption and lower diabetes risk.

Next time you wine and dine, have your last glass as dessert. Australian researchers found that one and a half glasses of wine downed shortly after a meal plunges insulin back to pre-meal levels. Avoid syrupy-sweet dessert wines, such as port or sherry, and ask for a Riesling instead; it's sweet but won't boost blood sugar.

I think this dog looks like he’s “totally stoked” riding the waves.

Surfs Up Dog!

I’d like to enter my Pug Millie in this competition but there’s a slight problem…Pugs really don’t swim that well. Basically they just sink like rocks.

The only way I could consider entering her is to get a little wet suit and rig her up with an oxygen tank. That may be against the rules however. I guess I’ll have to contact the organizers and find out!

Meanwhile, it’s time for me to head on down the road…

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meanwhile back at Pakistan …right next to the former bin Laden compound

elvisda 5

Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen, Politicalcartoons.com

Thursday Thoughts: carnivorous ATMs and other stuff

Good Morning Humboldt County!

The coffee is especially good this morning. Have a cup with me as we explore what’s happening in the world. There’s a negative 2 tide this morning and my eldest son is out at Clam Beach getting his quota. It’s shaping up to be a real nice day. Now the news: 

ATM machine won’t let go of man’s hand!

A Pennsylvania cash machine apparently took all those cracks about service fees costing an arm and a leg a little too seriously.

Firefighters had to free a man who got his hand stuck in the ATM at a suburban Pittsburgh bank on Monday.

Moon Run Fire Chief Paul Kashmer told WPXI-TV his crew used special equipment to free the man after he got his hand stuck in the automated teller machine at the First Commonwealth bank in Robinson, Allegheny County.

Soldier home on leave thwarts Fla. bank robbery

An Army staff sergeant home on leave in southwest Florida chased down a suspected bank robber and held him until authorities arrived.

Eddie Peoples was at a Bank of America branch in Sarasota with his two young sons Tuesday when a man walked in with a handgun and demanded cash from the tellers, officials said.

Peoples told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he sprang into action after the man, identified as 34-year-old Matthew Rogers, threatened his sons.

Fearsome lawn ornament shot dead by cops

File this story under “Shoot first and ask questions later.”

When an alligator was spotted near a suburban Kansas City pond, local police decided they were taking no chances: They would shoot the fearsome creature from a distance with a rifle. But the alligator took the first shot to the head without batting an eyelid, and then the second one bounced off.

At that point, the officers realized the animal was not a bulletproof beast; rather, it was just a concrete lawn ornament, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Now we know where sports fans got the idea…

Penguins do the wave to keep warm

Anyone who's watched "The March of the Penguins" knows that Emperor penguins huddle together to cope with the harsh temperatures and winds of the Antarctic winter. It's a great deal for the birds inside the tightly packed scrum, but how do the penguins on the periphery get their turn?

Researchers spent a whole winter in 2008 tracking the movements of an Emperor penguin colony at Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica, and they present their answer this week in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. It turns out that the penguins engage in a series of continuous, coordinated shuffles that cause the birds on the outside to shift toward the interior, and push other birds toward the outside." Every 30-60 seconds, all penguins make small steps that travel as a wave through the entire huddle," the researchers write. "Over time, these small movements lead to large-scale reorganization of the huddle."

That's right: Penguins know how to do the wave.

Image: A Thai customs official holds a confiscated turtle

Rats on a plane! (And crocs, turtles on another)

A flight crew checking the cabin of a Qantas plane before takeoff found rats in a compartment holding medical equipment, grounding the plane for more than a day.

Crews did a visual check of the plane Tuesday afternoon and found no more rats or any damage.

The rodents had been in a cabinet holding a defibrillator. The plane returned to service Thursday morning, officials said.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Conference set Thursday - global report encourages nations to legalize and regulate drugs


On Thursday the former presidents of several countries, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz, former U.S. Fed chairman Paul Volcker and other luminaries will release a report calling the global "war on drugs" a failure and encouraging nations to pursue legalizing and regulating drugs as a way to put a stop the the violence inherent in the illegal drug market.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of police, prosecutors and judges who have waged the "drug war" on its front lines, is cheering the report and its conclusions.

"It's no longer a question of whether legalizing drugs is a serious topic of debate for serious people," said Neill Franklin, LEAP's executive director and a 34-year veteran police officer from Baltimore, Maryland. "These former presidents and other international leaders have placed drug legalization squarely on the table as an important solution that policymakers need to consider. As a narcotics cop on the streets, I saw how the prohibition approach not only doesn't reduce drug abuse but how it causes violence and crime that affect all citizens and taxpayers, whether they use drugs or not."

Some of the world leaders who signed on to the report will speak at a press conference and teleconference on Thursday:

When: Thursday, June 2 at 11 am, EST

Where: The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, New York (Beekman Suite)

By Phone: USA -- 1-800-311-9404 (Password: Global Commission)

From Outside the USA -- 1-334-323-7224 (Password: Global Commission)

The full report will be available at http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/

Tom Angell, Media Relations Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Visit LEAP's *NEW* website: http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com

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

e-mail: tom@leap.cc

Discussion: Are Republican Politicians and Activists Above the Law?

Let's start with the most former grifter-in-chief . Trump has got away with being impeached twice (a feat no other American president h...