May 9, 2009

Pedal powered submarine for two

A pedal powered submarine for two will be available for $75,000 by a company in Russia.

This new underwater vehicle (UV) from Marine Innovation Technologies (MIT) will be cheaper to buy and run than existing submersibles.

It will be simpler to operate, and requires no special training - other than physical fitness training.


Australian men turn to lasers to cut need to shave

Men in Australia are increasingly seeking the permanent removal of hair from their face and neck by laser.

Reasons included allergies to shaving cream, acne scars, a skin condition which involved persistent ingrown hairs, and transgender people who wanted to avoid a "five o'clock" shadow.

The number of men attending her Brisbane-based clinic for hair removal had increased over the past ten years from about one a month to one or two every day.

The cost of permanently removing facial hair starts at about $600 - while a pack of disposable razor head replacements can cost $10.


May 8, 2009

Cappuccino with your fries?

It’s no wonder Ronald McDonald is smiling.

The recession has been good to McDonald's. As consumers trade down to cheaper, faster food on the go, McDonald's has kept up its growth during the downturn. Same-store sales rose 4.3% for the quarter that ended March 29. Profits were up 4%, to $980 million.

In this economy, that's an explosion.

McDonald’s is going after ailing Starbucks with its McCafĂ© section of the menu.

McDonald's has been steadily introducing lattes, cappuccinos and mochas in individual markets across the country. Some 80% of the company's 14,000 U.S. stores now sell these drinks, and this week McDonald's will roll out a national advertising campaign trumpeting the McCafé section of its menu.

The timing of the rollout just happens to coincide with the struggles of Starbucks, whose earnings sank 77% this past quarter, mainly because of charges related to store closures and falling real estate values.

McDonald's will gladly kick a double-soy-latte-drinking competitor while it's down.

This is shock and awe," says Steve West, restaurant analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

The new McDonald's drinks are about $1 cheaper than those at Starbucks.

Is it Starbucks quality? Probably not, but it’s close. Close enough for consumers to make a switch in a down economy.


Cutting the federal budget - Obama style

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Health officials warn against Hydroxycut use

Government health officials warned dieters and body builders last week to immediately stop using Hydroxycut, a widely sold supplement linked to cases of serious liver damage and at least one death.

The Food and Drug Administration said the company that makes the dietary supplement has agreed to recall 14 Hydroxycut products.

Available in supermarkets and pharmacies, Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients. At least 9 million packages were sold last year, the FDA said.

The FDA's food and nutrition division said the agency has received 23 reports of liver problems, including the death of a 19-year-old boy living in the Southwest.

Other patients experienced symptoms ranging from jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, to liver failure. One received a transplant and another was placed on a list to await a new liver. The patients were otherwise healthy and their symptoms began after they started using Hydroxycut.

More of the Hydroxycut story here.

Senator Arlen Spector turned defector - again

Arlen Spector (pictured) started out as a Democrat, spent 43 years as a Republican and then abruptly switched parties last week in a naked bid to save his political career.

Senator Arlen Spector is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat from Pennsylvania. Spector is apparently more of an opportunist than a politician with any real party loyalty.

He is rapidly discovering that switching parties is not as simple as checking a new box on a voter-registration card.

After a week and a day as a Democrat, Mr. Specter is viewed with suspicion by his new Democratic colleagues, with general disdain by his old Republican friends.

Democrats for now have stripped away his seniority on Senate committees, though he hopes to get them back but there is no guarantee.

Behind the scenes, he was scrambling to find money to save the jobs of several aides after losing the payroll authority that came with his position as senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee and various subcommittees.

Mr. Specter, who is up for re-election next year, concluded that he could not win a Republican primary.

But can he win the seat as a Democrat?


May 7, 2009

Drug violation gets Ramirez 50 game suspension

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez (pictured) was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday after testing positive for a banned drug.

The Dodger left fielder will lose about one-third of his $25 million salary.

Ramirez issued a statement through the Major League Baseball Players Association saying he recently saw a physician for a personal health issue who gave him a medication which he thought was OK.

Ramirez is the third player suspended this year under the major league program, following Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero and Yankees pitcher Sergio Mitre.

Just two relatively low-profile players were suspended under the major league program last year, San Francisco catcher Elizier Alfonzo and Colorado catcher Humberto Coto.

In the past, the best-known player penalized was Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro, who received a 10-day suspension in 2005, the first year of penalties for first infractions.


Washington truth commission

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Obama postpones his promised stimulus accountability

Barack Obama vowed that citizens would be able to track "every dime" of the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Now it appears the stimulus accountability will be delayed until at least October and may not be complete until next spring.

How the stimulus was spent will never be divulged. The administration will never admit to all of the pork in the stimulus packages.


May 6, 2009

Mexico looking for new Public Relations firm - cartoon

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Google Earth photo New York 9 12 2001

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This photo, taken the day after terrorists attacked New York and Washington, D.C, shows the World Trade Center site continuing to burn after the initial attack.

Peter Birch, Google Earth's product manager, says, "A lot of this is about preserving our history and having a record of our footprint. It's easy to forget what the world looked like."

The coming health care rationing in America

Obama’s vision for medicine in America is a “single-payer” system, and the reality of “single-payer” is rationing.

When the government will be the ultimate provider of medical services, it will provide only what it can afford.

This rationing of medical services and goods will be imposed on a largely unsuspecting American population by means of simple majorities in both houses of Congress.

Almost anyone familiar with the push for what is euphemistically called “health care reform” knows that many experts on the left believe that far too many dollars are spent on providing health care to people in the final weeks or months of their earthly lives. If controls can be placed on these expenditures, then more of the government’s resources will be available for younger and much healthier people.

Thus, rationing’s first target is going to be the expensive demands made by the elderly.

The new system will simply scoff at the idea of a liver transplant for anyone over the age of 65. Or 60. Or maybe even 55. Liver transplants are expensive.

The obvious second target for medical care rationing will be for the disabled. Medical care for this group will also be expensive and therefore severely limited by Obama’s government health care plan.

After the easy cuts are made at the beginning and end of life, expect the government to begin to squeeze on disfavored behaviors via the minimization or withdrawal of medical care for, say, lung cancers in smokers or heart disease among the obese.

Another way the Obama plan will restrict medical services is by limited services to large families.

If you should pass a prescribed number of children, well, surely you can’t expect the government to treat a family of eight the same as it does a family of three –where’s the equity in that?

Equity” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the holder of the purse strings.

If Obama/Pelosi/Reid “health care” reform blasts through Congress on jam-down minimum majorities and with a huge delegation of subsequent rule-writing authority built in, the holder [of the purse strings] will be the federal government.

Most amazing about this debate is that thus far there hasn’t been any.

There should be outrage! Where are the conservatives in Congress? Why aren’t they trying to oppose this socialized medicine agenda of the Obama administration?

We may soon have a health care system much the same as in the UK where anyone over a certain weight or over a certain age will have little or maybe no health care. Others will have health care provided by an inefficient over-worked system led by providers with little incentive.


Another dumb celebrity quote…

We posted this some time back but it deserves a revisit:

Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured), former actor and star of the science fiction movie The Terminator, was caught in a “dumb celebrity quote” during a radio interview while campaigning for governor of California.

Arnold Schwarzenegger told radio host Sean Hannity in 2003: “I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”


Xanadu may be the last discretionary Shopping Mall

Time Magazine online reports:

It rises out of the tidal murk of the Meadowlands — the polluted northern–New Jersey wetlands on which the sports complex of the same name was built some 33 years ago — like a garish species from a monster movie.

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What is that swamp thing? It's a mishmash of big-box structures covered in aqua, blue and white tiles, with a little mustard yellow and brown thrown in to finish off the 1970s-nightmare look.

"Looks like bathroom tile from the 1970s," one astute commenter wrote on, a website that covers New Jersey news.

It is a mall called Xanadu, located in East Rutherford near Giants Stadium.

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The name is a nod to the heavenly summer home immortalized by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree: where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea.”

Slated to open in August, Xanadu, a wannabe shopping paradise, will be a 2.4 million-sq.-ft. retail and entertainment complex located 3½ miles from the Empire State Building, across the Hudson River at the intersection of the New Jersey Turnpike and two heavily trafficked state roads through which 88 million vehicles pass each year.

More of the Xanadu story here.

May 5, 2009

If this won't cheer you up nothing will

From the Mayo Clinic atrium piano:

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German office chair racing

Zay vil race any ting in Germany!

The German Office Chair Racing Championship was held in Bad Koenig-Zell, Germany, on Saturday, April 25, 2009.

Seventy participants took the chance to bring their office chair out into the sunshine and put it through its paces.

The race down the Odenwaelder street was mainly downhill and involved starting on a steep ramp and racing over another ramp.

The only uniform rule was a crash helmet, which many participants needed. Dozens of racers fell off their chairs, and many chairs didn't make it to the end of the 170-meter race.

Click here to see a video.

NBC cant make Washington DC office rent

The report at the link below says that NBC News can’t make rent on their digs in D.C.

The longtime NBC Headquarters in Washington D.C. may be forced to take in a tenant to help pay the bills.

NBC News is not alone is reconsidering its physical footprint in Washington. In recent years, ABC News has significantly reduced the size of its Washington bureau on DeSales Street NW transferring the bulk of its Nightline staff up to New York City and moving This Week with George Stephanopoulos into a studio at the Newseum.

We have a better idea - just shut down MSNBC. That should save NBC, and parent company GE, a lot of money.

There is a posting here showing how MSNBC compares to other cable news channels.


May 4, 2009

Stacks of Coke down under

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An employee inspects skids of Coca-Cola ready for distribution from a bottling plant in Sydney, Australia.

FOX continues to dominate cable news

TV Newser reports:

How's this for cable news domination - Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in every hour from 6amET to MidnightET in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo for April 2009.

FOX had the top 11 cable news programs in Total Viewers and 12 of the top 15 in the demo.


Swine flu masks from around the world

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Shown is a combination of twelve recent pictures made on Saturday showing people around the world wearing face masks to protect themselves against the risk of contracting swine flu.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Hysteria may be the real swine flu danger

Some are saying hysteria over swine flu is the real danger.

As the number of swine flu cases rises around the world, so is a gradual backlash -- with some saying the threat the virus poses is overblown.

By Sunday, 898 cases of swine flu had been confirmed in 18 countries, the World Health Organization said. The number of fatalities was at 20, including one in the United States.

"There is too much hysteria in the country and so far, there hasn't been that great a danger," said Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas. "It's overblown, grossly so."

Paul, who was a freshman congressman during a swine flu outbreak in 1976, said Congress voted to inoculate the whole country at the time.

Twenty-five people died from the inoculation while one person was killed by the flu, Paul said, adding that he voted against inoculation.

More here.

Racial firing cost NY Governor $300,000

New York governor David Paterson (upper photo) was involved in a racial firing while he was a New York Senate Democratic leader.

Paterson was accused of firing a white photographer in order to hire a black man, El-Wise Noisette (lower photo).

Gov. Paterson raised state taxes by $8 billion last month, just cost state taxpayers $300,000 more.

The state has secretly settled an embarrassing federal racial-discrimination lawsuit, The Post has learned. The suit accused Paterson, back when he was Senate minority leader in 2003, of firing a white Senate photographer in order to replace him with an African-American.

The lawsuit was to go to trial in federal court last week. Paterson, the state's first black governor, was to be a key witness. The case was a civil rights action that was settled out of court.


May 3, 2009

Art market heading for new lows

Art, along with antiques and other collectibles have always suffered during financial downturns. They nearly always sell more slowly and for lower prices than during good economic times.

A Wall Street Journal report at the link below gives an example:

Sotheby's stunned the art world three years ago by selling a single painting by Pablo Picasso for nearly $100 million. On Tuesday, the auction house says it will need to sell everything in its evening sale of Impressionist art to hit that mark.

With the recession hitting home among wealthy collectors, the auction houses are bracing for one of their toughest seasons in years.

The auction catalogs weigh half as much as they did three years ago.

Bold plans by art auction houses to protect the value of art work that brought high prices in recent sales will further lower current auction sales totals.

As the article explains:

The roster of artists up for sale has shifted dramatically this season, as auction houses have steered away from some whose prices soared during the recent boom, making them more vulnerable to precipitous drops.

Instead, the auctioneers have sought out more-subtle works by lesser-known artists who are popular with curators in hopes that museums or seasoned collectors will bid.

In a tight economy, buyers may not want to flaunt their fortunes with status art, a recession-era taboo that could affect current sales.

More of the story here.

Where are the 150,000 jobs saved or created by stimulus?

ABC News' Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper (pictured) wonders where the 150,000 jobs are that the stimulus was to have saved or created.

Mr. Obama said in his speech last Wednesday night, "We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families,"

We wondered where the president got that from, given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 1.3 million jobs were lost in February and March, with dismal April numbers to come.

We were told by a White House official that the Council of Economic Advisers estimated the effect of the stimulus bill on employment in two ways:

One was to prorate the original quarterly estimates by the CEA of the effect of the stimulus bill at the time of passage in a conservative way."

The second way was to use the data available on actual spending to replace the assumed spend-out rate. CEA then applied the same estimates of the likely impact of spending on output and employment used in the original calculations.

Both methods yielded similar results: 150,000 jobs.

This fuzzy math is challenged by as they wonder about Obama’s fantasy jobs.

FactCheck shows that the number of jobs is actually plummeting and provides a link to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey that shows that the economy lost more than 1.3 million jobs in the two months after Obama took office. FactCheck also says the economy has probably lost at least another half-million in April.

The day after Obama spoke, the Department of Labor announced that another 631,000 workers (seasonally adjusted) had filed new claims for unemployment insurance the previous week!

So what 150,000 jobs was Obama talking about?

It turns out the president’s claim is really an estimate of what his economic advisers think the stimulus bill is doing, and not based on any evidence of its actual effects.

Ninety percent of the media goes with whatever Mr. Obama says.

Blatant misinformation may make Obama and his fawning media feel better, but sooner or later the people are going to learn the real truth - that the president is often untruthful.

I tip my hat to Jake Tapper who is one of the very few main stream media reporters not afraid to make an attempt to hold the Obama administration accountable. We just hope he doesn’t lose his job at ABC as a result.

Link here, here, and here.

Facebook hit with phishing attacks again

Facebook stopped a phishing attack last Thursday. It was the second day in a row that Facebook was hit with a worm on the site that lured people to a fake Facebook page and prompting them to log in.

Unsuspecting Facebook users get a message from a friend urging them to "check this out" and including a link to a Web page that appears to be a Facebook log-in page, but it is a fake site that steals their information when they type in their username and password. The worm also sends a copy of the message to the infected Facebook member's contacts.

In the latest attack, the Web address was "" In Wednesday's attack, the address was ""

The attacks were stopped within a few hours in each case.


Strange swine flu advice from Joe Biden

After Biden’s unseemly flu remarks settled in, people from Biden's office to Napolitano to Gibbs - everyone but the White House dog - frantically issued clarifications excusing the VP by saying, "what he really meant was...”

What he really said was:

"I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," Biden said. "It's not that it's going to Mexico. It's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft." Biden went on to say he wouldn't suggest that they ride the subway either.

Avoid all airline travel? Don't ride the subway?

Cue the backpedaling:

At 8:47 a.m., Biden's office put out a statement gamely trying to rewrite the vice president's words.

By 10 a.m., Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano had supplied her own do-over for the VP.

Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "I think what Joe Biden was talking about was...”

More of the Joe Biden alibi story here.