Mar 7, 2009

Corn Palace - worlds largest bird feeder

The first Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota was erected in 1892.

The current building is the third Corn Palace. It was built at the present location in 1921.

The building is used as a convention center and auditorium hosting concerts, sporting events, etc.

The murals on the building’s exterior are designed by local artists.

The Corn Palace is redecorated each year with a variety of South Dakota grains and grasses.

The last photo shows how ears of corn, sliced in half, are attached to a pattern.

Most of the displays are completed in sections on sheets of plywood, which are then attached to the side of the building to complete larger mosaics.


Streamlining was not always pretty - part 2

A streamlined single-decker bus on the streets of Blackpool, Lancashire,
England in 1935.

Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Mar 6, 2009

Getting a grip

Workers get to grips with steel wire rod coils at a steel market in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China

Do laborers in China have workers compensation insurance?

Reuters photo

White House seeks economic advice from Twitter

It must be worse than we thought!

Twitter cofounder Ev Williams is headed to the White House today.

The administration invited him to join a “young business leaders" summit to discuss the economic crises.

As Ev himself puts it -- in a Twitter message, of course -- "[this] must mean they're really out of ideas."


Obama stimulus saves tech billionaire hundreds of millions

Billionaire Paul Allen (pictured) along with Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft.

Allen owns the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers.

And, thanks to the stimulus bill President Obama signed this week, he's also about to be as much as a billion dollars richer.

The report at the link below gives the details.

For what it's worth, one of Paul's representatives told the WSJ the billionaire didn't lobby for the windfall. It just fell into his lap.

How many other Paul Allen’s will increase their wealth by a billion dollars as a result of the Obama stimulus plan - a hastily drawn up and poorly thought out boondoggle passed by an obedient Democratic congress?


Tax tip - save your receipts

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Waging war on prosperity

There is a New York Post report by Dick Morris (pictured) titled: Waging War on Prosperity

Dick Morris was an advisor to the Bill Clinton administration after Clinton was elected president in 1992. Morris was Campaign manager for Clinton’s successful bid for re-election in 1996.

President Lyndon Johnson's administration was known for his War on Poverty. President Obama's will become notable for his War on Prosperity.

Those who earn more than $200,000 pay almost 60 percent of America's income taxes and account for a third of its total disposable income.

Two wage-earners in a household can often earn more than $200,000. They are not rich “coupon clippers” - they bring home pay checks.

If these spenders and investors are hunkering down, waiting for the revenuers to beat down their doors, their confidence will be anything but robust. Their spending will drop; they'll be unlikely to invest (especially with an increase in capital gains tax).

Obama must also realize that his stimulus package, with its massive growth of government, is going to kindle huge inflation in coming years

He must know, but not care.

Here is a president who would rather redistribute income than create wealth. He thinks it more important to grow government than to fight inflation. He believes that it is crucial to expand health care to the young and middle aged, even if it means cutting it back for the elderly. He's more committed to effecting "broad change" in his first term than he is to winning a second one.

We have a president, in short, who will stand on his principles. Unfortunately, they're bad ones.


Mar 5, 2009

White House middle-class task force has no middle-class

Obama's Middle Class Task Force is scheduled to meet monthly in cities across the country to confront problems faced by average Americans.

Defining middle class is not an exact science, however, most academics agree that the term refers to anyone earning between $30,000 and $100,000 a year. (Median household income in the U.S. hovers around $50,000.)

Every member of the President's task force makes well over $150,000, putting them in the top 5% of wage earners.

Vice President Joe Biden earns $227,000, Council of Economic Advisors chair Christina Romer earns $172,000 and Energy Secretary Steven Chu earns $191,000.

While middle class Americans are invited to submit questions and ideas through the task force's website, and tickets for the Philadelphia meeting were distributed to labor and environmental groups, the task force did not accept questions from the audience.

"If Biden and his team want to go into this [middle class issue]," said Daniel Morris, communications director of the Drum Major Institute, a think tank that analyzes middle class policy issues, "They're going to need to talk to real members of the middle class. There's no substitute for immediate intimate interaction."

Instead, the task force talked to Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell ($175,000), Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter ($167,000) and United Steelworkers of America president Leo Gerard, (who reportedly earns over $170,000).

At that rate about all the task force will do is go from city to city and pat themselves on the back, learning nothing of the problems of the middle-class.


Just monkeying around

The Philippine Long-Tailed Macaque, an endangered species, is held at a wildlife rescue center in suburban Quezon City, Philippines.

Time Magazine

Tim Geithner - not ready for prime time

Yes, that Tim Geithner (pictured). The tax cheat given the Treasury Secretary cabinet post by Barack Obama.

A Time Magazine report at the link below is titled, Geithner Tries to Resell the Bank Plan — and Himself.

It's ugly, but it's true: when a Washington power player looks set to fall, the capital drools.

So Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner found himself the object of intense interest when he went before the House Ways and Means Committee to testify on Tuesday.

It was his first major public appearance since his less than inspiring rollout on Feb. 10 of a half-baked plan to save banks that left Washington and Wall Street whispering that Geithner, 47, wasn’t ready for prime time.

Mr. Obama told Geithner, “Let's get this right. Let's create a template in which we're restoring market confidence.”

So how did Geithner do?

To judge by the stock market, which dropped 4% in the wake of his Feb. 10 speech and has largely stayed on its downward trajectory since then.

They are probably right - Geithner may not ready for prime time.


This Chihuahua is a cool dude

Is there pork in the stimulus package?

Mar 4, 2009

A death certificate won’t stop debt collectors

An article at the link below reports on a Minneapolis company called DMC Services - the only national collection agency exclusively focused on deceased collections.

The banks need another bailout and countless homeowners cannot handle their mortgage payments, but one group is paying its bills: the dead.

Dozens of specially trained agents work on the third floor of DCM Services, calling up the dear departed’s next of kin and kindly asking if they want to settle the balance on a credit card or bank loan, or perhaps make that final utility bill or cellphone payment.

The most important paragraph in the article says:

The people on the other end of the line often have no legal obligation to assume the debt of a spouse, sibling or parent.

The article is a “puff piece” trying to make it sound like the ghoulish practice of trying to collect money from grieving relatives is honorable. It is not.

If there is anything left in an estate, the executor (or personal representative, in some cases) is duty bound to pay legal debts.

If the estate does not have sufficient funds to pay debts left by the decedent, next of kin generally do not have a responsibility to pay any unpaid bills.


Top hat

Paramilitary police recruits balance hats on their heads during a training session at a military base in China.

Streamlined cars were not always pretty

This car was designed by Sir Charles Dennistoun Burney and built by Streamline Cars Ltd., in 1927 at Maidenhead, Berkshire, England. Only thirteen cars were made and each one was different.

The lower photo shows a Burney in London traffic.

Obama wants a bailout from the American people

After mortgaging our future with his mega stimulus plan, Mr. Obama wants the American people to bail him out.

Barack Obama told Americans yesterday to take a look at investing in the stock market.

The market has tanked since the day he was elected as the graph above shows.

Asked about the troubles of the stock market, seeming to reflect investor insecurity about the Obama administration's economic plans, the president said he was "absolutely confident that they will work, and I'm absolutely confident that credit's going to be flowing again, that businesses are going to start seeing opportunities for investment, they're going to start hiring again. People are going to be put back to work."

Mr. Obama is “absolutely confident.” Didn’t Captain Smith assure passengers of the Titanic that his ship was absolutely unsinkable?


Mar 3, 2009

Dow finishes below 7,000 for first time since '97

The market bounced back a bit today but worries still keep investors cautious.

The graph below shows the Dow from Election Day last November until March 3, 2009.

This shows the lack of confidence investors have in Mr. Obama.

More on the current stock markets here.

Happy Square Root Day to all math fans

It’s 3/3/09 and that means it is time to celebrate Square Root Day.

Don’t miss it. Square Root Day only occurs nine times each century!

This time it falls on Tuesday — 3/3/09 (for the mathematically challenged, three is the square root of nine).

"These days are like calendar comets, you wait and wait and wait for them, then they brighten up your day — and poof — they're gone," said Ron Gordon, a Redwood City teacher who started a contest meant to get people excited about the event.

The winner gets, of course, $339 for having the biggest Square Root Day event.

The last Square Root Day was five years ago, Feb. 2, 2004, which coincided with Groundhog Day. The next is seven years away, on April 4, 2016.


Michelle Obama's patient-dumping scheme

A little know but important story is reported at the link below.

The First Lady (upper photo) helped create a notorious program that dumped poor patients on community hospitals, yet the national media ignored the story.

If her husband were a Republican, the story would be front-page news in most newspapers and top billing on TV network news.

The story did receive substantial coverage in Chicago but that’s about as far as the publicity went.

The University of Chicago Medical Center has received a good deal of justly opprobrious press over its policy of "redirecting" low-income patients to community hospitals while reserving its own beds for well-heeled patients requiring highly profitable procedures.

ACEP's president, Dr. Nick Jouriles, released a statement suggesting that the initiative comes "dangerously close to ‘patient dumping,' a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act, and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick' wealthy patients over poor."

As part of her work as a $317,000 vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Michelle Obama helped create the program!

Oddly absent from most of the unflattering press coverage of UCMC's patient-dumping scheme is any mention of the role our new First Lady played in devising the program.

Mrs. Obama first hatched the UCMC program as the "South Side Health Collaborative," which featured a gang of "counselors" whose job it was to "advise" low-income patients that they would be better off at other hospitals and clinics.

The program was so successful in getting rid of unwanted patients that she expanded it, gave it a new name, and hired none other than David Axelrod (lower photo) to sell the program to the public.

Michelle Obama and David Axelrod, have moved to Washington. As the First Lady and the President's closest advisor, they wield enormous power. Indeed, they may be the most powerful people in the Obama Administration, aside from the President himself.

The report concludes with this statment:

Come to think of it, isn't Obamacare being sold to us in pretty much the same way the Urban Health Initiative was sold to Chicago?

The answer is yes.

Nationalized medicine will dump the masses into Medicaid hospitals where many medical procedures will be denied - especially for the elderly. Many will die waiting to be admitted to these hospitals which will soon be overcrowded.


First sign of spring...

...rushing the season

Men’s 10K Mass Start ski race in Czech Republic

In Liberec, Czech Republic, skiers take on one another during the Men's 10k Mass Start race at the Nordic Combined competitions. The race is part of the Nordic World Ski Championships.

AP Photo

Here comes ANOTHER one just like the other ones

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk (pictured) was selected for the post of U.S. Trade Representative.

Kirk is the fifth tax cheat selected by Obama to be part of his administration.

Timothy Geithner, Nancy Killefer, Hilda Solis and Tom Daschle were the other tax cheats selected by Obama.

Killefer and Tom Daschle withdrew their names. Timothy Geithner was installed as Treasury Secretary and Solis is now the Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration.

Link here and here.

Mar 2, 2009

United Autoworkers Union: Villain of Detroit

A Time Magazine article at the link below is titled The UAW Fights Its Image as the Villain of Detroit.

It is particularly galling to the United Auto Workers (UAW) that, in addition to numerous rounds of layoffs and givebacks dating back two decades, the union is being cast as the enemy in the U.S. auto industry's fight to survive.

The photo above shows a European version of a Ford Fiesta as it rolls off the assembly line in Cologne, Germany. The European Fiesta is a larger car than the Fiesta once made for the U.S. market.

Maybe Ford should stop making cars in Detroit and make them all in Mexico or Europe and give the United Autoworkers Union the boot.

Our contracts with Chrysler, Ford and GM represent only 10% of the cost of assembling of a vehicle. But most days, it seems like we get 110% of the attention," said UAW president Ron Gettelfinger (pictured) in a recent speech.

In the wake of GM's most recent quarter, in which the company lost $9.6 billion — $30.9 billion on the year — the fight is getting more desperate. So the union is back at the table, negotiating more relief for the Detroit Three.

Regardless of how Mr. Gettlefinger tries to explain the UAW high wages, the reality is that GM officials say the average wage reaches $39.68 an hour, including base pay, cost-of-living adjustments, night-shift premiums, overtime, holiday and vacation pay. Health-care, pension and other benefits average another $33.58 an hour, GM says.

That equates to more than $82,000 per year based on a 40 hour week. Health-care, pension and other benefits adds another $70,000.

At congressional hearings in November over a proposed bailout bill, there was palpable contempt for the UAW from Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, whose state is home to several transplant automakers.

To him, the UAW seemed to consist of a bunch of overpaid featherbedders who couldn't match hubcaps with workers at transplants like Toyota and Mercedes Benz, who did not enjoy the Big Three's gold-plated benefits.

The United Autoworkers Union image as the Villian of Detroit seems to be a well-earned label.


500 part-time jobs draw 7,000 applicants at Dodger Stadium

As baseball season is approaching, the Los Angeles Dodgers needed to fill 500 part-time positions.

The long lines of parked cars outside Dodger Stadium was a sure sign of the times as nearly 7,000 applicants showed up at the two-day job fair.

While many are no doubt fans of the Dodgers and would enjoy spending summer evenings at the ballpark, all were eager to convert their summer time into cash.

By many assessments, anyone looking for summer work will have a tough time this year. In January, the unemployment rate in California rose to 10.1 percent.


Dancing the recession away at the White House

Conga lines - parties - cocktails at the White House!

The Obama’s kick up entertainment at the White House - it’s the place to be on Wednesday!

Since the presidency changed hands less than six weeks ago, a burst of entertaining has taken hold of the iconic, white-columned home of America's head of state.

It’s Rockin’ Wednesday at the White House!

The stately East Room, where portraits of George and Martha Washington adorn the walls, was transformed into a concert hall as President Barack Obama presented Stevie Wonder with the nation's highest award for pop music on Wednesday.

A week before that, the foot-stomping sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a female a cappella group, filled the East Room for a Black History Month program first lady Michelle Obama held for nearly 200 sixth- and seventh-graders from around the city.

Cocktails were sipped during at least three such receptions to date, all held on Wednesdays.

More of the White house partying here.

Man used fake money to buy fake drugs

The following is from Erwin, Tennessee via the Johnson City Press:

A man was been arrested after police said he used counterfeit money to purchase fake OxyContin pills from an undercover officer.

Unicoi County Sheriff's deputies arrested a 21-year-old man on Tuesday and charged him with criminal conspiracy with schedule II drugs, forgery and criminal simulation.

Investigator Frank Rogers said the officer met with several people at a mobile home park and arranged for the suspect and another man to come to Unicoi to buy 76 OxyContin pills for $4,875.

Officers said it was "obviously bad money" with some bills printed on just one side.


Comparing recent presidents

This was shown on Lucianne Goldberg’s website recently. The upper left photo shows Ronald Wilson Reagan working on his ranch in California. On the right is George Walker Bush working on his ranch in Texas.

The lower picture shows Barack Hussein Obama fussing with window curtains - or whatever it is he is doing.

Miss Lucianne’s caption was simply: ‘NUFF SAID

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

A picture of William Jefferson Clinton embracing Monica Lewinsky (pictured below) would have been a nice addition to the montage.

Mar 1, 2009

Newspaper convention canceled

A sign of the times:

An annual convention of newspaper editors has been canceled for the first time since World War II, undone by the worst economic crisis since that harrowing era.

The American Society of Newspapers Editors' decision to skip this year's meeting was announced Friday, coinciding with the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News largest daily U.S. newspaper to shut down so far during a steep two-year slide in advertising revenue largest that's draining the life out of the industry.

Newspaper staffs have been gutted, stock dividends have been suspended and, in the most extreme circumstances, bankruptcy petitions have been filed as more readers get their news for free from the Internet and advertisers curtail their spending on the print medium amid the recession.


Media ratings - Fox tops CNN and MSNBC

The TV ratings for February have been tabulated. As usual, Fox tops other cable news channels.

Fox News Channel, which is generally tougher on the president, hammered the two networks that most favor President Obama - CNN and MSNBC.

Also, unique visitors to the Obama-loving Web site Daily Kos have declined a whopping 73 percent since last fall - a disaster! What’s going on?

It all has to do with fear. While Obama retains a high approval rating, many Americans are flat-out scared about the economy.

The steady diet of Obama cheerleading coming from CNN and MSNBC cannot quell the fear of recession and massive pork-laden spending by the liberal majority in Washington.

The Fox News Channel gives Americans the truth about public policy instead of non-stop Obama commercials.


Did you vote for change?

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