Saturday, March 31, 2012

100th Anniversary of the Titantic: new images and a movie in 3-D

In 1943, more than 30 years after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, the Nazis thought it would be a good idea to make a movie about it.

Joseph Goebbels, who was Adolf Hitler's minister of propaganda, saw the Titanic story as a tale of British greed and incompetence. He wanted a film about the so-called "unsinkable" ship, one that would include a fictional character, a German officer named Peterson who would be the sole voice of reason on board.

A German director named Herbert Selpin was hired to make the movie, but when he refused to follow orders - he resisted efforts to make the British even more cowardly - he was arrested and jailed. The next day, he was found hanging in his cell, garroted with his own suspenders.

Another director finished the movie. It was a flop, and Nazi censors pulled it from theatres because audiences were too sympathetic to the passengers. The ship that was not going to sink became an apt symbol for the Reich that was going to last a thousand years.

The Titanic has a special relationship with the movies: A 10-minute film starring Dorothy Gibson, an actress who survived the sinking, was released a month later. Other movies nibbled around the edges: A 1929 film called Atlantic told the story, but changed the name of the ship; Noel Coward's 1933 Cavalcade has a scene on the deck of the Titanic; in History Is Made at Night, a 1937 movie with Charles Boyer, a Titanic-like ship avoids an iceberg.

Alfred Hitchcock was supposed to make a Titanic movie in 1938, but it got tangled up in legal troubles.

The first major movie in English was a 1953 drama called Titanic. It starred Barbara Stanwyck as an American woman taking her children on the boat to flee constricting English society and Clifton Webb as her snobbish husband, who follows her and ends up dying, bravely singing Nearer My God to Thee, as the Titanic sank.It was followed by A Night to Remember, a 1958 film that had a more modern approach. Based on a bestselling book by Walter Lord, it juggles various plots, characters and perspectives while still telling an old-fashioned story.

In 1964, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which starred Debbie Reynolds, told the story of a real-life woman who survives through sheer pluck. She not only helped evacuate the ship, she insisted her lifeboat return to look for more survivors, and she even helped row. For a '60s audience, she is a flag-waving American and early feminist.

By the time of Cameron's film in 1997, many of the old assumptions had been turned on their heads. Now the first-class passengers had become the villains, and the hero is rough-hewed Jack Dawson from steerage, played by heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, who saves Rose (Kate Winslet) from a loveless marriage to a duplicitous rich man played by Billy Zane.

The 3-D version that is being released on April 4 comes into a world buffeted by recession and redefined by various Occupy protests as being divided between the "one per cent" and the "99 per cent." Some of us are in first class, and most of us are in steerage.

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the most storied maritime disaster in history, National Geographic magazine and a team of researchers have unveiled new images of the Titanic, revealing unrestricted views of the wreck for the first time ever.

article sources – The Vancouver SunLeader PostThe New York TimesThe San Jose Mercury News


                  Good Day Humboldt County!

Was there a particular time in your life when smart ass answers seemed to flow from your mouth with no effort? Inspired gems that left others speechless. I’ve found the best smart ass answers come from teenagers. It seems to be a universal gift they enjoy from 13 to 19 years old.

I was nineteen when I was in Vietnam in 1970. Whenever when one of the “Lifers” got mad at me, threatening some vague retribution, I was always quick with my stock smart ass reply, “What are you going to do to me? Send me to Vietnam?” It always got a laugh from the guys in my squad, and pissed off my tormentors. What could they say? Well okay, sometimes they sent me back to the bush early, which happened about fifty percent of the time.

Then we have people who continue to cultivate their smart ass answers as they grow older. Sometimes they’re even funny. I’ve got six quick examples (below) for your consideration. Feel free to comment on the one you think is funniest:

It was mealtime during an airline flight.  
'Would you like dinner?', the flight attendant asked John, seated in front.  
'What are my choices?'  John asked.  
'Yes or no,' she replied.

A flight attendant was stationed at the departure gate to check tickets. As a man approached, she extended her hand for the ticket and he opened his trench coat and flashed her.
Without missing a beat, she said, 'Sir, I need to see your ticket, not your stub.'

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, ' Do these turkeys get any bigger?'
The stock boy replied, 'No ma'am, they're dead.'

The police officer got out of his car as the kid who was stopped for speeding rolled down his window. 'I've been waiting for you all day,' the officer said.
The kid replied, Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could.'
When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket.

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway and noticed a sign that read: Low Bridge Ahead. Before he knows it, the bridge is right in front of him and his truck gets wedged under it. Cars are backed up for miles.
Finally a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, 'Got stuck, huh?'
The truck driver says, 'No, I was delivering this bridge and I ran out of gas.'


A college teacher reminds her class of tomorrow's final exam. 'Now class, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that's it, no other excuses whatsoever!'
A smart-ass student in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, 'What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?'
The entire class is reduced to laughter and snickering. When silence was restored, the teacher smiled knowingly at the student, shook her head and sweetly said, 'Well, I guess you'd have to write the exam with your other hand.'!!!!!!!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, March 30, 2012

Always losing arguments? Don’t despair – there’s hope out there

It doesn’t matter if you’re a husband, wife, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, or the head of your high school debate team – a well presented argument is a must in order to win. One of the best people to read how to present your case is Arthur Schopenhauer. Take a minute and check it out. You never know. You might learn something.


Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), was a brilliant German philosopher. These 38 Stratagems are excerpts from "The Art of Controversy", first translated into English and published in 1896.

Schopenhauer's 38 ways to win an argument are:

  1. Carry your opponent's proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponent's statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow his or her propositions remain, the easier they are to defend by him or her.

  2. Use different meanings of your opponent's words to refute his or her argument.

  3. Ignore your opponent's proposition, which was intended to refer to a particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than that which was asserted. READ THE REST HERE

Lotterys and Religion: win some and lose some…

                         Good Day Humboldt County!

The way I understand it, there’s an earthly plane, and a spiritual plane. I realize that’s a simplistic statement. Allow me to try to explain. Our journey through life means we experience real world pain and joy. But there’s this part of us that believes we’re going to be held accountable for our deeds in life after we die.

That’s why if I won the lottery, or the massive Power Ball (which at this moment is up to $540 million) I would give most of it away to friends, family, and charities. What would world religious leaders do with a lot of money if it fell into their holy laps? 

For example, what would the Pope do if he won $1.7 million? My guess is he’d have some trouble explaining why he’s playing the lottery. If he’s successful at bullshitting the faithful about why, because he’s God’s best boy, then he should be able to convince them the money is going somewhere worthwhile… which in fact would be the Catholic Church’s coffers.

The Asian version of the pope, The Dalai Lama, was awarded a prize – $1.7 million – because he’s been busy showing a link between science and religion lately. What’s he going to do with all that money? The way I understand it, he’s got free rein to have a wild time with all that loot if he so chooses. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s going to use the money for a free lunch program for all Tibetans for the next decade!

News Snippet:

“The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, has won $1.7 million after being awarded the 2012 Templeton Prize for his work linking science and wider questions of faith and religion. Tenzin Gyatso, 76, the 14th Dalai Lama, will be presented with his award at a ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in May.”

I realize that the Dalai Lama didn’t play the lottery, but he still won something so I’m including him in this conversation. This lottery business can be really exciting until you realize your chance of winning (even when you play every day) is about as likely as opening a café on Jupiter for wealthy intergalactic visitors!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why can’t I find a real Picasso on a thrift-store shelf?

Video still of Zach Bodish with his thrift store Picasso find (© The Columbus Dispatch/

My wife and I enjoy watching shows like American Pickers, Auction Kings, Storage Wars, and the series Pawn Shop. (Chumley is the man!) Checking out thrift stores is also one of our pastimes.

We both dream of going to a garage sale, a flea market, or thrift store, and finding a hidden treasure.

That’s just what happened for one lucky thrift store regular – Zack Bodish: 

“Zach Bodish, a thrift store regular, paid $14.14 for a framed Picasso "poster" at the Clintonville, Ohio, Volunteers of America outlet. But after some online research, he learned that the red signature in the corner had probably come from the artist's own pen and that it might be worth $6,000 -- or about 428 more thrift-store shopping sprees. Ohio State art professor Lisa Florman examined it, declares it is not a poster but a signed print and said Picasso created it for a 1958 exhibition of his ceramic works. Bodish is already debating what to do with his bargain-priced Picasso. "There's a good chance I'll probably sell it," he told the Columbus Dispatch. "I want to keep it, but money is tight."

Trayvon Martin tragedy: now his death is being marketed

I often wonder how low some people can go when it comes to making money off of other’s misfortunes. The Trayvon Martin story is tragic for a number of reasons, but there’s one in particular that is pissing me off!

His own mother, Sybrina Fulton, filed to trademark “Justice for Trayvon,” on March 21st. She wants to use the phrase in connection with CDs, DVDs, and other digital products. She may be the first to file, but there’s someone else who filed days later on March 23rd:

Marcus Singletary, a 36-year-old musician, is seeking to cash in on the phrase, “Justice for Trayvon.” His United States Patent and Trademark Office filing notes that he wants to solely use the phrase for “Hooded sweatshirts.”

He submitted his application online and it cost $275. It’s excerpted here. A rock guitarist, he is pictured right in a photo off a 2008 album cover.

In my mind’s eye, I see jackals and hyenas chewing on Martin’s memory like ghouls.

To sleep…to dream…and to have odd sleep disorders


     Good Day Humboldt County!

In the course of our lives we have to step off off our daily path, and get some sleep.

When I was young (grade school), I walked in my sleep a lot. I also talked in my sleep, usually relating the day’s events to an unseen listener.

I know this because there was a listener, my Mother, who would check in on me at night and tell me about what I said the next day. As you can imagine this bothered me. I talked about everything! Luckily this period of my life didn’t last long or it would have gone harder on me as I was confessing things like gambling - throwing dice in the boys bathroom or pitching pennies!

Because of my PTSD, and the nightmares I battle with, I take a large dose of Trazodone before bed to knock myself out. The result: No dreams, or nightmares. I generally wake up rested after five or six hours sleep and I’m ready to go for the day.

I feel pretty lucky that I’m able to get that deep sleep these days. There was a time it wasn’t possible. For years after I came back from Vietnam I couldn’t sleep more than an hour or two because I was always on the alert. Those were hard years where I didn’t get any help for my condition.

Enough about me though! Here’s eight sleep disorders that will leave you happy that you don’t have them!  

                             Sleep Paralysis: people who become immobile even after they are awake:

During REM sleep, dream activity revs up and the voluntary muscles of the body become immobile. This temporary paralysis keeps us from acting out our dreams and hurting ourselves. Sometimes, though, the paralysis persists even after the person wakes up. "You know you're awake and you want to move," Kline said, "but you just can't."
Even worse, sleep paralysis often coincides with hallucinations. In one 1999 study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, 75 percent of college students who'd experienced sleep paralysis reported simultaneous hallucinations. And these hallucinations, when they occur with sleep paralysis, are no picnic; people commonly report sensing an evil presence, along with a feeling of being crushed or choked. That sensation has given sleep paralysis a place in folklore worldwide. Newfoundlanders know it as the "Old Hag." In China, it's the "ghost pressing down on you." And in Mexico, it's known as the idiom "subirse el muerto," or "the dead climb on top of you." Even today, some researchers suspect that tales of alien abduction may be explained by episodes of sleep paralysis. (Link)

Read about the other seven  Bizarre Sleep Disorders here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

International Drug Lords should celebrate drug prohibition day

It would be a gas to see some people actually do this!

Host A Satire Drug Lord Party In Your Area

This video is from last year, but Oregon SSDP Coordinator Sam Chapman pointed out that it would be amazing to do it this year at state capitols around the nation. It’s satire of course, but it really shows people how ludicrous the war on drugs is.

Thanks to the Weed Blog!

I recently wrote a column -

The bottom line: most of the UN nation’s are continuing their senseless war on drugs. They follow party lines established by the US,which is the real culprit in preventing drug reform policies.

Is it just me or does flying seem like a good way to meet people having mental breakdowns?

Erratic Pilot Diverts Flight: FAA    Good Day Humboldt County!

  In our life travels we have opportunities to go by plane, train, automobile, motorcycle, skate board, roller skates, skis, and on artificial knees.

Taking a plane these days seems to be a good opportunity for meeting people having mental meltdowns.

News Snippet:

“Screaming "They're going to take us down!" a JetBlue pilot stormed through his plane rambling about a bomb and threats from Iraq Tuesday until passengers on the Las Vegas-bound flight tackled him to the ground just outside the cockpit, passengers said.

The captain of JetBlue Airways Flight 191 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport was taken to a hospital after suffering a "medical situation" on board that forced the co-pilot to take over the plane and land it in Amarillo, Texas, the airline said.” (Source)

The good news is how quickly and efficiently the passengers took down their crazed captain who was reportedly foaming at the mouth. The four passengers who stopped him from getting back into the cockpit, sat on him until the plane landed. But it wasn’t that long ago since a stewardess had a mid flight mental meltdown too.

Two months ago, an American Airlines flight attendant took over the public-address system on a flight bound for Chicago and spoke for 15 minutes about Sept. 11 and the safety of their plane, saying "I'm not responsible for this plane crashing," several passengers said.

Passengers wrestled the flight attendant into a seat while the plane was grounded at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; the flight attendant was hospitalized. The whole experience of flying anywhere is becoming more stressful all the time. From invasive check in’s, to long lines of really pissed off travelers at ticket counters, there’s no more flying the stress-free friendly airways – if they ever were!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Related Story - Civil Aviation Incivility

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From deep in the grickle-grass, Lorax statue stolen from Dr. Seuss estate

On this pathetic note – who would steal a Lorax anyway? 

I bring a close to my long day…

Perhaps he ventured off to warn other Once-lers about threats to the environment.

But more likely, the Lorax -- in this case a 2-foot-tall, 300-pound bronze statue that resided in La Jolla, Calif., on the estate of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss -- was stolen.

Property manager Carl Romero told the San Diego Union Tribune that he and Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’ 90-year-old widow, discovered the statue was missing on Monday morning as they were walking through the garden.

Romero saw footprints in the garden, a sign that a thief had dragged the statue to the road and lifted it over a fence, the Tribune reported. Perhaps he ventured off to warn other Once-lers about threats to the environment.

But more likely, the Lorax -- in this case a 2-foot-tall, 300-pound bronze statue that resided in La Jolla, Calif., on the estate of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss -- was stolen. Property manager Carl Romero told the San Diego Union Tribune that he and Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’ 90-year-old widow, discovered the statue was missing on Monday morning as they were walking through the garden.

The statue stood beneath a century-old Italian Stone Pine, according to Romero told the Times that the pine inspired the tree from the book “Horton Hears a Who.” In the story, Horton, an elephant, sits on a branch of the tree. The incident recalled an early passage from the Lorax, the book: "And deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say, if you look deep enough you can still see, today, where the Lorax once stood just as long as it could before somebody lifted the Lorax away."

The only Seuss character at the Geisel estate, it was cast and created by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Audrey Geisel's daughter and Dr. Seuss' stepdaughter. “I want very badly to get our little Lorax back home where he belongs,” Dimond-Cates told the Tribune. “Wherever he is, he’s scared, lonely and hungry. He’s not just a hunk of metal to us. He was a family pet.”

The statue, valued at $10,000, featured the Lorax, a squat, orange-whiskered creature, standing atop a wooden stump. The word “Unless” was inscribed at its base, a reference to Lorax's warning that “unless” someone plants the last remaining tree seed, they will disappear from the world. (source)

High cost of movie theater snacks spurs class action lawsuit

The exorbitant prices for popcorn, soda and candy at the movies fueled Michigan resident Joshua Thompson to file a class action lawsuit against his local AMC Theater.

The 20-something’s buttons were pushed when his movie house did not allow him to bring in his own supply of soda and candy which is an alleged violation of his state’s Consumer Protection Act, reports the Detroit Free Press.

His lawyer is saying the prices for goodies are extreme and in violation of Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act which is designed to prevent price gouging.

Theatres have traditionally charged three to four times the cost for their goodies. A profit center, within a profit center, so to speak. This has been going on since I first walked into a theatre in 1958. Theater owners have come to count on that extra money.

I’m going to keep on eye on this case. It may have huge implications for the entertainment industry. Oh yeah, and consumers may get a break on the price of popcorn someday. But don’t hold your breath. The chances are slim  according to Ian Lyngklip, a nationally known consumer lawyer in Southfield. ”Movie theaters are regulated, so the lawsuit won’t go anywhere,” he told the Detroit Free Press.

Sadly, he’s probably right. Still, I’m awarding a thumbs up to Mr. Thompson’s effort to challenge the status quo.

There's a New Reality in America: The Threats Artificial Intelligence Poses

For over 100 years science fiction writers have written about robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence (AI) . Their fictional musings ...