Aug 16, 2008

Apple tops Google as Silicon Valley king

A report at the link below says the success of Apple’s iPhone fuels huge surge in share price while a fall in online advertising hits Google's profits.

The sleek, touchscreen iPhone (pictrued) has proved so lucrative for Apple that the electronic gadgets manufacturer has unseated Google to become the most valuable company in America's cradle of technological innovation, Silicon Valley.

Queues outside Apple's stores are commonplace since the phone's launch a year ago as shoppers line up to get their hands on the prized device.

Apple's predominance amounts to a shift in the balance of power in the hi-tech world. The company has repeatedly been able to eclipse rivals with its distinctive, easy-to-use designs. The iMac and the iPod continue to be firm favorites among computer buyers and music fans.


Texas school district will let teachers carry guns

A tiny Texas school district in north Texas may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to carry guns for protection when classes begin later this month.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

How long will it be before gangs of students overpower pistol packin’ teachers?


Aug 15, 2008

I’ll have the luncheon special - hold the E-Coli

This could be disturbing news for anyone forced to eat out often.

Hundreds of restaurants across America are plagued with critical food safety hazards, including contaminated food preparation surfaces, improper food storage temperatures and excessive rodent and insect activity.

A nationwide study of health inspection reports by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a leading public health group, found that over 66 percent of restaurant kitchens examined had at least one "high-risk food safety violation."

More of the story here.

China using fakery to present perfect Olympics

A report at the link below says that:

Olympic opening ceremony featured fake fireworks and used a fake singer all in the name of national interest.

Olympic games are supposed to promote noble values.

China apparently has different values.

The small Chinese girl who became a national celebrity after singing at the Olympic opening ceremony did not sing at all.

The cute little girl in a red dress and white shoes, did not actually sing "Ode to the Motherland." She was lip-synching to another girl's voice.

The face of the singer wasn’t quite cute enough and the cute girl’s voice wasn’t quite good enough for China to present to the world.

The girl with the face you saw is on the left and the girl with the voice you heard is on the right.

Actually, the world would have loved the real singer - crooked teeth and all!

So much for noble values at the Beijing Olympics.


More fakery from officials in Beijing

A wall near Tiananmen Square hides an entire run-down neighborhood in Beijing that Chinese officials want to hide from Olympic visitors.

(click on picture to see video)

More fakery from officials in Beijing

Aug 14, 2008

Booted from hacking conference for hacking

Three French journalists covering the Black Hat hackers convention in Las Vegas were expelled for … well … hacking.

With thousands of hackers milling around the Black Hat convention here, and widespread snooping on the public WiFi network, one place was supposed to be off limits: the press room.

But in a case of reporters spying on other reporters, three journalists working for the French publication Global Security Magazine were booted Thursday from the hackers' conference after they were allegedly caught hacking into the private computer network set up for the media.

The French journalists captured what they claimed were usernames and passwords of reporters from at least two media outlets - eWeek and CNET News.

Black Hat attendees are warned that the conference's public wireless network is being monitored by hackers.

People who send sensitive personal data over it are cautioned they might have that information posted on the Wall of Sheep, a forum to embarrass security professionals who don't follow proper security procedures themselves.


Joker attempted to steal Batman movie posters

A twenty-year-old Batman fan was sentenced to one day in jail for attempting to steal Batman movie posters from a theater lobby while dressed as the Joker.

Charges of attempted larceny in a building and using a mask to conceal his identity during the commission of a crime were dismissed as part of his plea agreement.


Empty seats at Beijing Olympic venues

The empty seats at many of the Olympic venues concern Chinese officials.

They have hired volunteers, dressed in yellow shirts, to fill up empty venues and improve the atmosphere inside.

A Chinese spectator said, There were heaps of empties, it's sickening.

One official said, some spectators were also only turning up for specific events, even though they had tickets for a whole session.

Another explanation for empty seats:

For competitions like beach volleyball and basketball, [spectators] have one ticket for the whole afternoon, morning, evening. They may choose to go to one of them, but not all them.

Mr Wang, executive vice-president of Bocog, said local authorities were hiring volunteers to fill empty seats.

“If they find that there are not enough people, or if they find that there are too many empty seats, they organize some cheerleaders," he said. These cheer for both sides to "create a good atmosphere", he added.


Democratic convention detention: Gitmo on the Platte

Denver’s TV4 has the story about how authorities plan to deal with demonstrators at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

The city of Denver owns an old warehouse along the Platte River that will be used in case of mass arrests during the convention.

Local jails are overcrowded so the old warehouse will be used. Channel 4 calls the old building “Gitmo on the Platte.”

Inside the old warehouse there are dozens of metal cages. They are made out of chain link fence material and topped by rolls of barbed wire (pictured below).

Each of the fenced areas is about 5 yards by 5 yards and there is a lock on the door. A sign on the wall reads "Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility."

"Very bare bones and very reminiscent of a political prisoner camp or a concentration camp," said Zoe Williams of Code Pink.

"That's how you treat cattle," said Adam Jung of the group from Tent State University. "You showed the sign where it said stun gun in use and you just change the word gun for bolt and it's a meat processing plant."

The American Civil Liberties Union says it will ask the City of Denver how prisoners will get access to food and water, bathrooms, telephones, plus medical care, and if there will be a place to meet with attorneys.


Aug 13, 2008

This cheesecake is loaded - so hand over your cash

A man in Charleston, West Virginia walked into a movie rental store with a cheesecake 'bomb'.

He placed an empty cheesecake box on the counter with a note saying it contained a bomb.

The robber said the bomb would be detonated remotely if he wasn't given cash.

The clerk refused and the would-be robber fled.

The Police later arrested the 43-year-old suspect who confessed after he was shown a store video of the attempted robbery.

The suspect told police he needed money for gas and cigarettes.

We wonder if they will give him back the empty cheesecake box?


Utah park suffers from fallen arches

One of the largest and most photographed stone arches in Arches National Park has collapsed.

Wall Arch fell sometime early last week, though no one has reported seeing it collapse, said Paul Henderson, the park's chief of interpretation.

He said the arch, located along the popular Devils Garden Trail, was claimed by forces that will eventually destroy other arches in the park: gravity and erosion.

Arches National Park is located in southeastern Utah.


Swedes can now name kids Budweiser or Coca-Cola

Parents in Sweden now have more choices for naming their children.

For decades, Swedish tax authorities had banned parents from naming their children after fast food chains, rock bands or their favorite brand of beer.

Swedish authorities say parents can now name their newborns "Budweiser" or "Metallica" if they so wish.

But tax authority spokesman Lars Tegenfeldt says the guidelines have been relaxed. He says "there is nothing negative about a name like Coca-Cola or McDonald's today. In the 1970s, maybe it was."

Still, authorities are drawing the line at giving children swear words for names. And forget about naming your child God, Allah or Devil.


Aug 12, 2008

Al Capone’s WWI draft registration card

(click on picture to enlarge)

This is a copy of the World War-I draft card signed by 19-year-old Al Capone.


Meet the Democratic National Convention CEO

Meet Leah Daughtry, Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Convention.

She is in charge of planning this month's Democratic National convention: a daunting task.

Daughtry is a self-described 'black chick from Brooklyn' and ordained Pentecostal minister who keeps a Bible in her purse.

She is among a growing number of Democrats of faith showing her party how to get religion.

Dog days of summer

(click on picture to enlarge)

Battle of Gettysburg historic tree falls in storm

There were four trees on the Gettysburg battlefield that witnessed the great Civil War battle. A recent storm severely damaged one of them breaking off the top and severely damaged 70 to 80 percent of the tree.

According to a report at the link below the huge honey locust tree on Cemetery Hill stood just 150 feet from the platform on which President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech.

It is unlikely the National Park Service will be able to save the tree, one of the few remaining "witness trees" to the Battle of Gettysburg.


Only one person showed up at Al Franken roundtable

What would happen if a political candidate advertised a roundtable discussion and nobody showed up?

That nearly happened in Minnesota where Al Franken’s campaign scheduled a roundtable discussion on veterans issues. One person showed up.

Franken (upper photo) is the DFL (Democratic Farm Labor Party of Minnesota) backed candidate hoping to unseat Republican Senator Norm Coleman.

Who is Al Franken? He is a former comedian who occasionally appeared on Saturday Night Live.

Franken was more recently a left-wing political talk show host on the floundering Air America, a radically liberal radio network started by George Soros in early 2004 with Franken as the ‘anchor’ talk show host.

The lower photo shows Al Franken dressed as a baby wearing a diaper. Would you vote for this man to represent you in the U.S. Senate?

(click on picture to enlarge)

When I first saw this photo of a diapered U.S. Senate candidate, some of my Sunday morning coffee nearly spurted out of my nose!

The funniest part of this story is that Franken may win in November. After all, Minnesota is the state that put former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura in the Governor’s mansion in 1999.

Link to the ‘one-person roundtable’ story here.

Aug 11, 2008

Constable election won by 1 vote—her own

A report at the link below says:

All it takes is one vote to win. Just ask a Tennessee woman who was elected constable by voting for herself.

Angela Tuttle, 32, said her father encouraged her to run as a write-in candidate because no one else was vying for one of the positions in Hancock County, which is in northeastern Tennessee.

Tuttle said her husband initially didn't even realize she was running.

"I finally told him about a month before the election," she told The Associated Press on Friday. Her husband didn't think she would win, but now he "just grins at her," she said.

Hancock County election officials said 131 voters of the 674 registered in the 3rd District voted Thursday. Tuttle's vote was the only one cast in the constable race. She will be sworn in Dec. 1.


The Brit’s get it! The joke is on Obama

A British online newspaper asks:

Have you heard the one about the presidential candidate who was once so popular that comedians were frightened to make jokes about him?

The punch line is this: the more seriously he took himself, the more Barack Obama (pictured) has become a laughing matter.

The writer of the Telegraph article is right -- to a point: the U.S. main stream media continues to admire and idolize Mr. Obama. However, comedians in the U.S. are having fun at Obama’s expense.

Some examples:

Jon Stuart

While mocking Obama’s progress through the Holy Land, where he said the candidate stopped in Bethlehem to see the manger where he was born.

David Letterman:

Obama asked a guy at Staples, “Which chair will work best in an oval-shaped office?”

Obama was having head measured for Mount Rushmore.

Obama offered McCain a job in the gift shop at the Obama Presidential Library.

Jay Leno

Obama is becoming a workout fanatic. He's at the gym twice a day, sometimes three times a day according to his staff. Well, he has to stay in shape to do those flip-flops.

Obama back from his big European tour. Did you see him in Europe? People were cheering him, holding up signs, blowing him kisses. And that was just the American media covering the story.

Yes the comedians in the U.S. get it!

The main stream media -- well that’s another story. The U.S. media still adores Obama, treating him as the ‘anointed one.’

The Telegraph sums it up:

Voters are tiring of the wall to wall coverage of his grand pronouncements.


Aug 10, 2008

Water Cube at the Beijing Olympics

China's National Aquatics Center, also known as the "Water Cube", is show above. Part of the interior is shown below.

Will creative spelling become the standard?

A British academic says English spelling is “truly atrosious.”

Report at the link below says:

Embaressed by yor spelling? Never you mind. Fed up with his students' complete inability to spell common English correctly, a British academic has suggested it may be time to accept "variant spellings" as legitimate.

Rather than grammarians getting in a huff about "argument" being spelled "arguement" or "opportunity" as "opertunity", why not accept anything that's phonetically (fonetickly anyone?) correct as long as it can be understood?

To kickstart his proposal, Smith suggested 10 common misspellings that should immediately be accepted into the pantheon of variants, including "ignor", "occured", "thier", "truely", "speach" and "twelth" (it should be "twelfth").

Then of course there are words like "misspelt" (often spelled "mispelt"), not to mention "varient", a commonly used variant of "variant".

This all sounds good to me. I’ve been treating spelling as a “creative art” for years.

More of this story here.

They failed to “beam Scotty up”

James Doohan, who played the part of Montgomery Scott (pictured) on Star Trek, wanted his ashes to go into space.

Doohan died in 2005 at the age of 85. In 2007 his ashes were carried aloft on a space rocket that returned by parachuting into rough and tumble terrain. That story was reported here.

An attempt last week to “beam Scotty up” once more ended in disaster when the rocket malfunctioned minutes after take-off from Kwajalein Atoll and the ashes of “Scotty” along with the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper and more than 200 other people are now somewhere in the Pacific ocean.

Three government satellites were also aboard the ill-fated rocket.

It was the last time anyone will “beam Scotty up.”