Friday, August 30, 2013

Moving Brings Blog Break & Timely Observations

      Good Day World!

I’m taking a blog break because I’m moving to Southern Oregon. I will report back on September 4th, and let you know how things went.

I hate moving, but there comes a time when we need to. As for California…I’m not going to miss living in the #1 worst state for retirees due to excessive taxes! You get taxed for farting in California.

So, it’s on to Oregon and the adventures that this move will surely bring. At 62, I’m a little long-in-the-tooth for all the lifting involved, but I’ll be damn if I’m going to pay some professional movers! Two of my sons will handle the heavy stuff.

A few quick observations:

20101007_34631

File the next story under the “I’ll believe it when I see it” department:

“The Justice Department will not sue to prevent the states of Washington and Colorado from permitting recreational marijuana use for adults.

Officials said that Attorney General Eric Holder called the governors of both states on Thursday to inform them that federal authorities won’t pre-empt their state laws permitting recreational use of the drug, which voters approved last year via ballot initiatives.

Holder told the two governors that the Justice Department will use a “trust but verify” policy, saying the federal government won’t step in to prevent the implementation of the marijuana laws if the states develop a sound, workable regulatory structure.” Story here

If this turns out to be true, California needs to get some long-awaited respect for their vote on Medical Marijuana. The feds have trampled on California voters for years now with blatant disregard for their decision to legalize it for medicinal use.

I’m taking bets on this next story. What do you want to bet this Wall Street bigwig beats this rape rap?

A Goldman Sachs Group managing director has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of raping a 20-year-old woman during a party last week at a house he rented in the up-market Hamptons area of Long Island, according to court filings.

Jason Lee, 37, was indicted on Wednesday on one felony charge of first-degree rape and two misdemeanor charges of assault and sexual misconduct, according to the filings.

Police said last week that Lee was arrested on Aug. 21 in East Hampton, New York, after police, responding to a complaint about a stolen car, found the unnamed woman, who alleged she had been sexually assaulted. Lee was released on $20,000 bail. 

This last story is kinda scary when you think about it:

Addicted to Facebook fame? Blame your brain's nucleus accumbens

It only makes sense: Neuroscientists see a link between your drive to build a better reputation and the intensity of your Facebook usage. They say the two activities stimulate a reward center in the brain, known as the nucleus accumbens, in a similar way.

The nucleus accumbens figures in a wide variety of cravings, including food and sex as well as gambling, booze and rock 'n' roll.

That little knot of neurons also plays a part in how good you feel about financial gain — but in a series of experiments, researchers in Germany found that Facebook usage seems more closely related to a boost in reputation than a boost in the bank account.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, August 29, 2013

‘How cute! I want a dozen of those little brains!’

    Good Day World!

Dr. Frankenstein would have approved.

Mad scientists worldwide are rejoicing! Science fiction writers are smiling smugly and saying “I told you it was just a matter of time.” What is everyone referring to?

Drum roll ….

Researchers have learned how to grow human brains out of a petri dish! The pea-sized brains (cloned from Republicans) are probably best suited for tiny insect implants, but brains nevertheless! I’m stunned, but probably shouldn’t be. It was inevitable.

When I first heard about stem cells, I quickly grasped they spelled trouble. It was just a matter of time as researchers cloned everything from goats to human body parts. There’s even been talk about cloning a mammoth found perfectly preserved in the frozen Siberian tundra.

The brain, being the most difficult to reproduce, was naturally the last frontier. Are these “minibrains” capable of doing anything? Hint, they were cloned from GOP DNA so don’t expect much from them!

Here’s a snippet:

“The first complete living model of the developing human brain has been created in a lab dish. Researchers grew human stem cells in an environment that encouraged them to form pea-size gobs of brain tissue, which developed into distinct brain tissues, including a cerebral cortex and retina.

The minibrains were used to model microcephaly, a human genetic disorder in which brain size is dramatically reduced.” Story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

U.S. Secretly Sends SPY Satellite into Space Today

Image: Delta 4 Heavy launch

The United States' largest rocket launched a spy satellite on a hush-hush mission today. An unmanned Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifted off the pad at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:03 p.m. ET (11:03 p.m. PT) Wednesday, carrying a classified payload into a polar orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

"Today's launch is dedicated to the men and women who serve for our nation's freedom," a commentator said a few minutes into the liftoff. [See more photos of the spy satellite launch]

Hackers Attacked Everything from the NY Times to Baby Monitors!

      Good Day World!

Hacking is back in the news.

Two current stories of hackers demonstrate how they can touch anyone in the world when they feel like it. It can be serious stuff, or just pranks.

But, hacking is hacking, and it sucks to be hacked! 

This time a group known as the Syrian Electronic Army was the culprit. The New York Times website, nytimes.com, was hacked Tuesday, taking the the site down for a second time in two weeks.

Perhaps it was just coincidence, but the attack on one of the nation's major media organizations came as the United States weighs penalizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military for using poison gas on his countrymen.

Domestically, I ran across an odd story of hacking.

Marc and Lauren Gilbert were terrified when they heard a strange voice calling out to their 2-year-old daughter Allyson, through a baby monitor in her room. The Texas family learned the hard way that almost anything connected to the Internet can get hacked.

A voice coming through a baby monitor, that was hooked up to the home's wireless Internet system, appeared to be operating on its own. CNN reports that the hacker used the device to curse and say sexually explicit things to the sleeping girl - calling her by name and telling her to wake up.

Gilbert says the hacker was able to take control of the camera and see his daughter's name on the wall. In a panic, he pulled the plug on the device. The girl was not disturbed by the hacker's calls because she was born deaf, having to depend on a cochlear implant to hear.

Parents can protect their homes by setting a strong password. Experts recommends using Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) to set up a password because it uses better encryption standards and is very difficult to crack, especially combined with a good password.

This kind of thing may go unreported, but I’ve heard of a phenomenon called "wardriving" -- where people drive around looking for homes with weak wireless security. When they find one, they hack into whatever is easiest.

Even baby monitors.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I’m Not Sure What to Think about Edward Snowden–How about You?

        Good Day World!

Is he a saint or a showman? Or, is it possible that Edward Snowden is a combination of the two? I’m having a hard time deciding. Being somewhat of a skeptical sort, I always question a person’s motives for doing things – good, or bad. 

Are we all witnessing the channeling of Patrick Henry, via Snowden? “Give me Liberty or Death?” Is it possible Edward Snowden cares so little for his personal safety that he would expose NSA spying methods – and almost Jesus-like - offer up his life as a sacrifice for his fellow Americans?

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things," Snowden told The Guardian. "I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

"You are not even aware of what is possible," Snowden told the world.

As we've seen, the NSA's story on "abuses" keeps changing. First there were no abuses at all, then there were a whole lot of abuses (but all unintentional) and now we know that there also were a bunch of intentional abuses.

Some people are saying Edward Snowden Did Not Want to Stay in Russia any more than Russia wanted him to do so. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know the answer to that. There’s really not enough information out on him to understand the man. Here’s 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Edward Snowden however.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video that hardly anyone appears to have seen.

On screen is Matt Damon, who appears to be talking to a journalist of foreign provenance.

He is being asked what he thinks of Edward Snowden. Astonishingly for someone who has been Jason Bourne and knows the danger of such things, he is answering the question.

"I haven't read everything that he's leaked," he admits. Who has? Even the government doesn't know what Snowden secreted on his gadgets.

"Snowden is a hero because he realized that our very humanity was being compromised by the blind implementation of machines in the name of making us safe," writes Douglas Rushkkoff of CNN.

"Unlike those around him, who were too absorbed in their task to reflect on their actions and pause in their pursuit of digital omniscience, Snowden allowed himself to be 'disturbed' by what he was doing."

Is that a fact? I wish I knew more about Snowden’s personal life. He almost seems to be too good to be true. He’s making Americans ashamed of themselves for not demanding more accountability from our government.

Does one’s peace of mind, one’s sense of duty, and one’s love of country motivate them so much they’re willing to give up a normal life and to be a fugitive? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone like that. I might even have to check the history books. Or, the Bible!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, August 26, 2013

Forget about the Bulls! How about a Running of the Politicians?

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Folks are getting a thrill of a lifetime by letting bulls chase them!

Good Day World!

 Here’s what’s happening; Americans are importing one of Spain’s oldest rituals, “The Running of the Bulls.”

 As you’ll see in this video, people are doing it for an adrenalin rush. There’s a lot of young bored people who feel this experience will show how macho they are. Or, whatever.

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'Exhilarating': 4,000 run from the bulls in US event modeled after Pamplona

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The reality is this little dash for life is far from life-affirming, and possibly a unique way to depart the planet. For those individuals with suicide on their mind, this will be more dramatic than jumping off a bridge. Of course one has to pay for the privilege.   

From what I’ve read, not that many people in Spain have been killed over the centuries while running from those pissed-off bulls! But this is America folks! Whatever significance it held for the Spaniards is one thing, but for Americans it’s just another chance to make asses out of ourselves! We’ll probably have more casualties than Spain has ever had during the first year of these bull runs.

My suggestion is we need to focus more on this idea of the “running of the bulls” and make it a more significant event by enacting our own set of four rules for the race:

One, only politicians running for office will run from the bulls. It’ll be mandatory in every election from the state level to the national level! That will help us weed out the whimps in these campaigns.

Two, all political parties will take part. No exceptions.

Three, all runoff-elections will be decided by double the amount of bulls chasing the contestants.

Four, winners simply have to be the first to cross the finish line…alive and not impaled on a bull’s horns!

Thank you for stopping by ladies and gentleman. The next running of the politicians will be…

Time for me to walk on down the road…

 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finally! A Museum Full of Bad Art! What is Bad Art By The Way?

LUCY IN THE FIELD WITH FLOWERS
Unknown
30"x24", oil on canvas
Rescued from trash in Boston, MA
by Scott Wilson (MOBA Esteemed Curator Emeritus), 1993
...

    Good Day World!

How’s your Saturday going? Today I’m taking you on a tour of bad art. Yes, bad art. So bad that it’s…well, good! If your confused don’t let it bother you. But, it’s true: there is actually a museum of bad art.

The very real Museum of Bad Art, or MOBA, is looking for art so bad it's good. The Massachusetts museum proudly showcases the work in three galleries, one in the basement of a community theater in Somerville and two in nearby Brookline.

Founded in 1994, the volunteer-run museum has since received attention from around the world, and critics from the New York Times to Harvard scholars have expounded on its influence. MOBA has even released two books,"Museum of Bad Art: Art Too Bad to Be Ignored" and "Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks."

The origins of the museum lie in the painting "Lucy In the Field With Flowers (shown here)," which antiques dealer Scott Wilson found in a pile of trash in 1994. (Story and video tour here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Catching asteroids is NOT as Important as Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure!

Asteroid

   Good Day World!

I don’t have a problem with NASA. If they want to continue to seek the stars on Uncle Sam’s ticket, so be it. But where do we draw the line at stupid missions?

 I have to admit catching asteroids – like space cowboys – is an alluring image. Yahoo! Space, the final frontier…and all that jazz.

But when it comes down to allocating our taxes to various government and private projects, we can’t afford to prioritize space travel over life here on the planet – as in our country, which has a crumbling infrastructure! Our travel goals ought to be expanding and repairing our highways, not out chasing asteroids.

Say I’m not a dreamer, if you want. That I lack imagination and appreciation for space travel. I don’t care. I’ve always been a realist – not always a popular position to take. The fact is every one of our 50 states have highways going to hell!

Either we pay now to fix America’s crumbling infrastructure, or we pay more later. 

We all drive on bridges, overpasses, and viaducts that we assume must be safe because, surely, somebody inspected them and determined that they are safe. We pay taxes so somebody makes sure the bridges and roads are safe, right?

That trust is badly misplaced. For decades, we have been using up our infrastructure faster than we have been replacing it.

Here’s the status of NASA’s plan to catch asteroids:

“One of NASA's most audacious plans for the future is a mission to capture an asteroid and tug it back near Earth within the reach of astronaut explorers. This proposal is illustrated in captivating new detail in a series of images and video released by NASA Thursday.

The new asteroid mission concept photos from NASA show how the plan would play out in detail. For example, the animations show how a robotic spacecraft could initially lasso in the asteroid and contain it within a giant "asteroid capture bag."

The mission is part of NASA's goal to find and study the space rocks near Earth, including those that may pose an impact danger to our planet. The plan was outlined under President Barack Obama's 2014 budget request.

In this conceptual image, the two-person crew uses a translation boom to travel from the Orion spacecraft to the captured asteroid during a spacewalk.” Read story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, August 23, 2013

You’ll Pay for Bradley Mannings Sex-Reassignment Surgery if Has it!

     Good Day World!

            By Dave Stancliff

 Our prison systems – both civilian and military – are turning into resorts. Taxpayers are paying for everything from flat screen TVs to computers to entertain the inmates. They already get better health care than most Americans do.

My wife worked in oncology for years and frequently saw prisoners (from Pelican Bay – home of the worst killers in California) get treatment (guards brought them) even if it meant canceling a civilian appointment! That’s a fact. Not heresy, or something I read. By the time the state was done paying for the two guards that had to accompany the prisoner and his oncology bill, it cost thousands of dollars. They enjoy priority care. That’s the truth.

What have prisoners done to warrant such special treatment? Nothing. They’re behind bars for a reason. But, in recent years there’s been a movement to make their lives more pleasant. They are rewarded for being thieves, murderers, gang members, sociopaths, and the scum of our society. That’s crazy.

When I read that Bradley Manning, convicted of violating the Espionage Act and other offenses, declared that he was a female and wanted to be treated as such, I had to pause and count to ten! What did that mean? The move raises a host of questions about Manning, about transgender inmates in the U.S. - and about the treatment itself.

Throughout Manning's court-martial for divulging government papers to the website WikiLeaks, the soldier’s gender confusion was a factor used by the defense. I don’t see how being confused about your sex has anything to do with leaking classified Army documents, but they tried.

Fact: The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder. This fact didn’t phase Manning’s lawyer, David Combs. He told the press that he’s “hoping” Fort Leavenworth “would do the right thing” and provide hormone therapy for Manning.

The “right thing” according to Combs means being cooperative and changing all the rules for his client. And, heaven forbid, if the Army doesn’t see it his way, he threatened do do everything in his power to make sure they are forced to!

What seems odd, is Coombs said that Manning hasn't discussed whether to pursue sex-reassignment surgery while in prison. Maybe that’s because no inmates have ever received sex-reassignment surgery while in U.S. prisons.

Brace yourself for this little tidbit: the cost ranges widely from $12,000 to $30,000 or more for surgery with ongoing costs of up to $200 a month for hormone therapy and more for psychotherapy! That’s on top of the other normal costs of keeping him behind bars.

Plain fact: if a prisoner receives care while incarcerated, taxpayers foot the bill. And I have a problem with that! When are we going to draw the line when it comes to over-the-top expenses for prisoners so they’re comfortable with their situation?

Meanwhile, I’ll be curious to see if Manning is rewarded for his crimes by getting a free sex-change while he’s locked up.

As It Stands, I wonder if they’ll throw in a boob job if his lawyer wins the case?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The GOP & The Tea Party: Not a match made in heaven!

     Good Day World!

 Well here we are in the dog days of summer and both political parties are stumbling along like lame horses.

The GOP has been able to successfully pursue their fascist legislative agenda at the state levels (see North Carolina and Texas) and are raising tons of money for campaigning.

But their internal struggle with the Tea Party continues to leave the GOP languishing in a non-productive ideological limbo. They just can’t get along. 

This summer has highlighted both the Tea Party’s re-emergence inside the GOP, as well as the Huge divides within the party. Think immigration reform, the “defund Obamacare” movement, John Boehner’s struggles to corral his GOP colleagues, Mitch McConnell’s primary challenge. Nine months after the GOP’s losses in the 2012 election, there’s still a clear fight going on over the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

Here’s the kicker; this establishment-vs.-non-establishment fight will play out over the next couple of years. The Republican Party meanwhile will continue to loose credibility without a central unified message. Divided, they’re falling. It’s safe to say they’re not a match made in heaven, and have their demons to deal with. 

But we’ve also seen reminders over the last 24 to 48 hours about the Tea Party’s limits within the GOP. For instance, the movement to defund Obamacare has gone nowhere, even as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has exhorted his colleagues not to blink in the fight. What’s more, Cruz decided to renounce his Canadian citizenship after it was revealed he has dual citizenship.

Tea Partier Joe Carr, who’s challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), misspelled the word “Senate” on his website. And McConnell released a new ad highlighting that primary opponent Matt Bevin had once incorrectly suggested he graduated from MIT (when he didn’t). As some establishment Republicans have gleefully noted to many over the last few days, it hasn’t been the best of times for the Tea Party.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Tuesday Pot-Pourri Report: Marijuana Stocks are Shaky!

20100708_28094

   Good Day World!

There’s a growing green movement on Wall Street.

And I don’t mean “green” as in environmental. I’m talking about pot stock.

Who would have ever thought there would be such a thing? Now, I’m waiting to see if there will be expanded news coverage for Wall Street.

Read “The Mary Jane” money report straight from the farmer’s lips every day, as prices fluctuate from state to state! This news report brought to you from the Marijuana Farmers of America and their affiliate, “Bongs For People.”

IN THE NEWS:

Investors in marijuana-related stocks may see their profits go up in smoke, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday.

20090513_9999_23

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog, warned that scammers have been targeting investors attempting to tap into the growing U.S. marijuana industry.FINRA said red flags for investors range from the classic "pump and dump" - in which con artists boost the price of thinly traded stocks by misleading investors about a company's potential, then sell their shares at a peak - to executives with criminal records.

The majority of marijuana-related companies are so-called penny stocks that trade on the over-the counter-markets, which do not have the liquidity and reporting requirements of major exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

The Year Domestic Terrorists Openly Declared War on the Nation's Power Grids

Note: The Government Accountability Office says their recommendations from years ago still "have not been implemented yet leaving the p...