Jun 7, 2008

Florida County still fighting the Civil War

A Confederate group plans to fly a giant Confederate flag above the tree line near the junction of Interstate 75 and Interstate 4 near Tampa, Florida.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans wants drivers in the Tampa area to see the massive flag — 30 feet high and 50 feet long — atop a 139-foot pole, the highest the Federal Aviation Authority would allow. It would be lit at night.

With the pole already in the ground and building permits in hand, the group is on its way to having what it calls the "world's largest" Confederate flag in place by mid 2009.

Several nearby business owners don't mind. It's history, they say, and it's on private property.

The NAACP does mind, however.

When Hillsborough County NAACP president Curtis Stokes heard about the plans to have the flag flying next year, he was shocked.

The county has wrestled with sensitive Confederate issues in the past. In 1994, the Confederate flag was removed from the county seal.

Flags Across Florida started about eight years ago, after the Confederate flag was removed from the Capitol in Tallahassee.

So far the group has two major flags erected: one in Suwannee County along Interstate 75 and one in Havana along U.S. 27.


Vandals get classroom penance for trashing Robert Frost home

Last December, a 17-year-old former Middlebury College employee decided to hold a party and gave a friend $100 to buy beer. Word spread. Up to 50 people descended on a farm in Ripton near Middlebury, Vermont.

The revelry turned destructive after a chair broke and someone threw it into the fireplace.

When it was over, windows, antique furniture and china had been broken, fire extinguishers discharged, and carpeting soiled with vomit and urine. Empty beer cans and drug paraphernalia were left behind. The damage was put at $10,600.

Twenty-eight people — all but two of them teenagers — were charged, mostly with trespassing.

The farmhouse that was trashed was on the Homer Noble Farm where
Robert Frost spent more than 20 summers before his death in 1963.

Call it poetic justice, as the story went from “bad to verse” as Middlebury College decreed that the participants take classes in the poetry of Robert Frost as part of their punishment.


Asthma patients must switch inhalers per FDA

Inhalers that contain environment-harming chemicals will no longer be sold after 2008 but the FDA but the government is urging people to switch to CFC-free inhalers now.

Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, once were widely used to propel the drug into the lungs. But CFC-containing consumer products are being phased out because CFCs damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. As of Dec. 31, asthma inhalers with CFCs can no longer be made or sold in the U.S. Inhalers instead will be powered by ozone-friendly HFAs, or hydrofluoroalkanes.

The ozone layer shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation.


Jun 6, 2008

Americans park cars to ride public transit

Train, light rail and bus travel soars in face of high gas prices. Will public transit be able to keep up?

If you've recently decided to start commuting to work on public transportation, instead of driving, you've probably already noticed that you're not alone.

As it becomes less affordable to fill up the gas tank, more Americans are turning to buses, subways and commuter trains instead of getting on the highway

But while public transportation may be a wise economic and environmental choice, today's shift away from cars has some people questioning whether the nation's public transit system can handle the surge.

More of the story here.

The 1985 Titanic search was really covert distraction

More mystery shrouds the Titanic:

The U.S. didn’t want the Soviets to locate and exploit two sunken submarines - USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion.

When oceanographer Bob Ballard uncovered the world's most famous shipwreck in 1985, he grabbed the globe's attention. But in reality the explorer's search for the Titanic was a cover-up for a top-secret mission for the U.S. government.

Ballard reveals he was hired to use his advanced robotic sub to check on the status of two nuclear submarines, the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion, that sank in the Atlantic in the 1960s.

The Navy didn't want the Soviets to know they were looking for these nuclear subs.

The guise of searching for the Titanic's wreckage provided a perfect alibi for the intensified presence of U.S. ships on the Atlantic.

The Navy made a deal with Ballard. After his submarine search was concluded, it would fund an expedition to find the Titanic and now a National Geographic documentary called "Titanic: The Final Secret" follows the true story of the search and recovery of the 1912 shipwreck.

More of the story here.

New uncontacted indigenous tribe spotted in Brazil

Another uncontacted indigenous tribe has been spotted in one of Brazil's deep jungles.

The photo was released by Survival International, showing uncontacted Indians of the Ethno-Environmental Protected Area along the Envira river, in the Brazilian state of Acre, close to the border with Peru, photographed during a flight in May 2008.

(click on picture to enlarge)

The picture shows tribesmen, painted red head to toe, aiming longbows at the aircraft circling above.

The government foundation known as Funai said it photographed "strong and healthy" warriors, six huts and an area of crops. It is not known which tribe the group belonged to.

Funai does not make contact with indigenous people and prevents invasions of their lands, to ensure total autonomy for the tribes, the foundation said.

Fiona Watson, campaign co-coordinator for Survival International, said the tribesmen are likely "fragments" of what was once a much larger group.

Watson said contact with outsiders could even be fatal for these tribespeople, who would be vulnerable to diseases.

"These people are very isolated, they have no immunity to common things like the cold and flu and they could die very quickly," Watson told Newsnet.


Jun 5, 2008

Susan Sarandon will move to Italy or Canada if McCain elected

Actress Susan Sarandon appeared in three films last year including a TV movie "Bernard and Doris." Sarandon is still not a happy camper, however.

She says if John McCain gets elected, she will move to Italy or Canada.

Italy would be good. It’s farther away.


War of the worlds? UFO’s?

(click on picture to enlarge)

Beams of light over Milan Italy. The lights are placed at locations where new important buildings will be erected.

Claimed he bought marijuana to make compost

Police in Iowa City, Iowa caught a man with a large quantity of marijuana.

But the 30-year- old man explained. He told police that he planned to turn several large bags of marijuana into compost and that all he had in mind was recycling.

Officers didn't buy the compost story. The suspect remained in jail Sunday without posting $14,000 bail on a charge of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.


Jun 4, 2008

Ambient sound generator helps you sleep

If you have trouble falling to sleep because of intermittent or continuous annoying sounds such as ticking clocks, traffic noise, etc., this gadget may help.

This “sound machine” produces a gentle whooshing noise that will allow you to relax and fall asleep easily.

It can also be used during the day to mask distracting sounds for anyone requiring a quiet environment for concentration.

Sleep machine is fully adjustable for tone and volume and has two frequency levels for broader range.

This should really help on a trip to block out hotel noises. And what about people who put ticking clocks in their guestrooms to insure you won’t return too often?

Link here.

Will they just go away now?

Too punny for words…

Two hydrogen atoms met

The first atom said, “Ive lost my electron.”

The second atom said, “Are you sure?”

The first atom replied, “Yes, I’m positive.”

Touch screen Widows to replace the mouse?

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates (upper picture) said its next operating system will be made for touch screen applications, an alternative to the computer mouse.

An iPhone-like touch-screen operating system that could be the start of mouse-less computing.

Gates, along with his Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer (lower picture) defended their last operating system Vista.

Bill Gates said he has never been 100 percent satisfied with any Microsoft product, and that the company prides itself on fixing shortcomings in later versions.

Gates us not alone. I think it is safe to say that most Microsoft Windows users have not been 100 percent satisfied either.

The Windows 7 operating system, which will use touch screen technology, is scheduled for release in late 2009. If history repeats itself, Windows 7 may stay in beta until 2011 so don’t be in a hurry to throw your mouse.


Jun 3, 2008

What to do with your blog while on vacation?

Do you have a blog and are wondering what to do when you’re travelling?

Here are a few things I have tried in the past:

1. Do some advance posting before you leave. If your blog platform accepts post-dated entries (most of them do) you can work up postings before you leave home that will show up on your blog on a date and time you specify.

Obviously his doesn’t work with date-sensitive material. This can also be a problem if the story you posted has an unexpected anticlimax before the posting appears on your blog.

2. Blog from the road while you are on vacation. This is easy if you have an Internet card. I don’t so we must rely on other ways to connect along the way.

Last summer, we were able to connect from my brother’s house logging into his wireless network.

Other places to connect would be at restaurants or hotels that provide Internet service. Some are free - many are not.

Some hotels as well as participating McDonald’s restaurants require a Wayport membership to log on at a cost of $30 per month (annual membership is about $50).

Starbucks recently changed from T-Mobile to AT&T as their WiFi provider. The old T-Mobile charge to use Internet service at Starbucks was $6 per hour or $10 per day.

The new AT&T Internet service at Starbucks is $4 for a two-hour session. It’s free if you are an AT&T subscriber. That’s how Starbucks is able to advertise ‘free’ WiFi service.

Some rest stops on Interstate roadways provide Internet service but it is seldom free.

My favorite WiFi hotspots are located in Panera Bread restaurants. They have free WiFi for customers. Stop in for a sandwich or one of their yummy soups and check your e-mail or post to your blog. If it’s not mealtime, get a bagel and coffee while you log on to the Internet.

3. Resurrect a few prior postings from your archives. By revisiting a few of your older postings, you can give the reused stories a post-dated time to reappear on your blog while you are on vacation.

Depending on how old the revisited postings are, here may be link URL’s that may no longer be valid.

4. Put your blog on vacation while you’re on vacation. This is the easiest and possibly the best solution. However, the longer you are gone, the more readers you will lose.

Number of uninsured US young adults grows

Young adults represent a major portion of the American population without health coverage.

Based on census data, 13.7 million people aged 19 to 29 had no health insurance, either public or private, in 2006, up from 13.3 million in 2005, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that researches health policy.

Men and women in this age group accounted for 17 percent of the under-65 U.S. population, but made up almost 30 percent of the uninsured, according the study released Friday.

"If you ask young adults, as we do in our survey, if you've ever had problems accessing health care because of cost -- not filling a prescription, not seeing a specialist -- two thirds of uninsured young adults say yes," Collins said.
Hispanic and black young adults were at greater risk of being uninsured than whites, the report showed.

While 23 percent of whites ages 19 to 29 lacked insurance, the figure was 36 percent of blacks and 53 percent of Hispanics.

Taxes paid by white middle class America already pays for much of the welfare payments paid to blacks and Hispanics.

Now the burden will be even greater as the percentage of blacks and Hispanics without health insurance continues to grow.

Link to the uninsured young adult story here.

Group wants Wi-Fi banned from public buildings

A group in Santa Fe, New Mexico wants Wi-Fi banned from public buildings.

The group says the city is discriminating against them because they say that they're allergic to the wireless Internet signal.

Arthur Firstenberg says he is highly sensitive to certain types of electric fields, including wireless Internet and cell phones.

"I get chest pain and it doesn't go away right away," he said.

Firstenberg and dozens of other electro-sensitive people in Santa Fe claim that putting up Wi-Fi in public places is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

City Councilor Ron Trujillo says the areas are already saturated with wireless Internet.

"It's not 1692, it's 2008. Santa Fe needs to embrace this technology, it's not going away," Trujillo said.


Jun 2, 2008

Do publication editors have tapeworms?

Editors always use the first person personal pronoun “we” instead of “I”
Does that mean they have tapeworms? Or fleas?
… just wondering …

Condos made from metal shipping containers

Detroit is planning to build a 17-unit condominium complex using shipping containers. It will be constructed on lots now vacant or containing burned-out homes.

According to the Detroit Free Press, "The project would stack empty containers four high, cut in windows and doors, install plumbing, stairways and heating, and add amenities such as balconies and landscaped patios."

Architect Steven Flum says that "it solves several problems at once, including the need to build environmentally sensitive buildings cheaply.

The project is going to cost about $1.8 million, about 25% less than a normal condo project of similar quality would run."

The photo shows an example of multiple-unit container housing.

However it turns out, it will be better than an area of burned-out homes.


Fox News Channel outfoxes others - again

TVNewser reports on the cable channel viwership race:

For the 77th consecutive month, FNC finished first in total day and prime time ratings during May. FNC was the sixth highest rated cable network on all of basic cable during prime time for the month (CNN and MSNBC finished 19th and 26th) and the seventh rated network in total day (CNN and MSNBC were 19th and 27th).

It is interesting that conservative political programs such as the popular The O'Reilly Factor on Fox always draw more viewers than all of the ‘Bush hating’ programs (Keith Olbermann,
Chris Matthews, Dan Abrams, etc) on MSNBC added together!

The O'Reilly Factor was the #1 program in cable news for the 90th consecutive month, and saw gains in Total Viewers year-to-year (26%).

Amercia's Newsroom (9-11amET) was up 30% year-to-year, with the program averaging more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined during the time period.

Meanwhile, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren has been #1 for 73 consecutive months in Total Viewers while Hannity & Colmes has been #1 in its timeslot for 54 consecutive months.


Jun 1, 2008

Rules for writing short stories by Kurt Vonnegut

The following is great advice on writing short stories from Kurt Vonnegut's book “Bagombo Snuff box” found here.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Cool Relativity watch - relatively speaking

This Relativity watch is relatively bizarre.

It’s a watch with numbers that are in constant motion rotating counter-clockwise.

The hands are in the correct position but the numbers seem to have minds of their own.
This certainly is a different way to look at time.

This strange watch is $30 in case you want one to amuse your friends.

note: at the time of this writing, the watch was temporarily out of stock.