Oct 9, 2009

The Colorado Rockies: another fluke or are they for real?

Two years ago the Colorado Rockies swept the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first and only appearance in the World Series.

Once in the World Series, the Rockies fell apart and lost in a 4-game sweep to the superior Boston Red Sox.

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Two years ago it was “Todd and the toddlers,” meaning veteran Todd Helton and a bevy of youngsters. Now the “toddlers” have grown up into quality baseball players such as standout shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and all-star right fielder Brad Hawpe.

Is their appearance in the playoffs this year another fluke or are they for real this time? Regardless, it may be some time before baseball fans around the country stop referring to them as those "pesky Rockies" or the "upstart Rockies."

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When former manager Clint Hurdle was fired May 30, the Rockies were 10 games below 500 at 18-28 headed for a second straight dismal season.

Under new manager Jim Tracy the Rockies went on an 11-game winning streak. In Tracy's first 24 games, the Rockies won 19.

This year the Rockies appear to be for real.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley dives in an attempt to catch a grounder off the bat of Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzales in the third inning of game 2 Thursday night.

Rockies ace Aaron Cook pitches in the first inning at Citizens Bank Park Thursday night. Cook was the winning pitcher in game 2.

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton congratulates catcher Yorvit Torrealba after his 2-run homer in the forth inning of game 2.

A young Phillies fan waiting for his favorite team to score some runs.

Nobel Peace Prize prestige sinks to new low

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Huskers shock Mizzu in the rain Thursday night

From the Columbia, Missouri Tribune:

Riding a three-game losing streak in Columbia, the Cornhuskers (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) vaporized a 12-0 deficit through three quarters, a lead that once seemed insurmountable considering the game’s drenched conditions and the Huskers’ nonexistent offense.

The Tigers were coasting to their third straight victory over Nebraska, something they hadn’t done since 1969.

Then came the Tigers’ fourth-quarter meltdown in front of an announced crowd of 65,826 Mizzu fans wearing rain-soaked panchos.

The game began with a power outage that turned out the lights on parts of MU’s campus and turned Memorial Stadium’s sparkling new videoboard into a $3.8 million blank screen.

Coaches and players had to keep track of their own time on the field with no play clock visible during the power outage.

Trailing 12-0 in the fourth quarter the Huskers caught fire and scored the next 27 points for a 27-12 victory.


Airline asks passengers to go before they board

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has started asking passengers to go to the toilet before boarding in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

That’s right, they want passengers to go before they go to the boarding area.

The airline claims that empty bladders mean lighter passengers and a lighter aircraft uses less fuel.

The airline began the policy on October 1, according to Japans NHK television.

Although it is intended as an experiment lasting one month and 42 flights, the trial may be extended if it is well-received by passengers and if results are positive.


Tricycle with huge balanced load

A woman rides a tricycle loaded up with many polystyrene foam boxes in the southern Chinese manufacturing city of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China. 2008

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

From a report at the first link below:

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize? Really? What were they thinking?

From one commenter:

Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Big Deal. So did Yasser Arafat (pictured) and he was a terrorist. Proves how blatantly irrelevant the Nobel Committee has become.

A report at the second link below says this absurd decision makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize.

Link here and here.

Statue of Helen Keller unveiled in U.S. Capitol building

A bronze statue of Helen Keller was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Lawmakers praised her as a trailblazer and an inspiration for those with disabilities.

The statue shows Keller -- who lost her sight and hearing to illness when she was 19 months old -- standing at a water pump as a 7-year-old, a look of recognition on her face as water streams into her hand.

It depicts the moment in 1887 when teacher Anne Sullivan spelled "W-A-T-E-R" into one of the child's hands as she held the other under the pump.

It's the moment when Keller realized meanings were hidden in the manual alphabet shapes Sullivan had taught her to make with her hands.

"W-A-T-E-R," said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. "Five simple letters that helped rescue 7-year-old Helen Keller from a world of darkness and a world of silence.

The statue is the Capitol's first to depict a handicapped person and also the first depicting a child.

Keller's statue will replace one depicting Jabez Curry. Curry, who has represented Alabama in the Capitol since 1908, was a Georgia native who served as president of Howard College, which later became Samford University in Birmingham. The Curry statue is being sent back to Alabama for display at the university.

Link here.

These boots were not made for walking

Just when you thought you’d witnessed it all on a fashion catwalk.

With apologies to the Lee Hazlewood song, sung by Nancy Sinatra, These boots were made for walking.

Alexander McQueen's tall order: Towering 12-inch boots on a Paris catwalk that were NOT made for walking...


House ethics panel expands Rangel probe

A report at the link below states:

Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (pictured) is headed for more trouble as the House ethics committee announced Thursday it has expanded its investigation to include Rangel’s financial disclosure reports, which show hundreds of thousands of dollars in previously undeclared personal assets and income.

While the House the ethics panel continues its months-long probe of the Harlem Democrat, Republicans have been trying to take away his chairmanship of the prestigious Committee on Ways & Means.

The House voted mostly along party lines on Wednesday to allow Rangel to keep his gavel. However, the House ethics panel continues its months-long probe of Rangel.

The ethics panel also disclosed Thursday that it has issued nearly 150 subpoenas as part of its yearlong Rangel investigation, interviewed 34 witnesses and combed through thousands of pages of documents related to the New York Democrat’s personal finances.

The vote to widen the already sprawling investigation was unanimous.

In July, Rangel quietly filed amended financial disclosure documents, going back to 2001, showing at least $600,000 in assets that he had never previously declared.

Republicans have long been putting pressure on the House ethics panel to investigate Mr. Rangel while the Democrats have been trying their best to protect the Harlem Congressman.


Oct 8, 2009

Long reach

A child reaches to touch a statue of French general Charles de Gaulle in Bucharest, Romania.

Candidate put rivals names on tombstones in his yard

A township trustee candidate in Ohio has put a Halloween display in his yard that includes tombstones bearing the names of his political opponents.

Royal Barber of Sylvania Township near Toledo said it's all in good fun but some of his opponents don't agree.

One of Barber's rivals for township trustee thought it was funny when she saw a tombstone with her name. However, she said Barber should put more time into running his own campaign instead of decorating his yard.


Oct 7, 2009

Nervous clerks thought drunk was robber and tossed him cash

Clerks at an Iowa convenience store that was robbed twice in recent months were understandably jumpy.

The clerks at Five Star Snacks and More thought they were being robbed when they were confronted by a rambling man who had his hand in his pocket.

Police Capt. John Beckman said the clerks put money in a bag and threw it the man, who left it alone and walked out of the store.

Police said the man was drunk and the robbery suspicions were a mistake.


Why Americans are wary of swine flu vaccine

A Christian Science Monitor report says government officials insist that the swine flu vaccine is safe, but critics have doubts about its effectiveness and effect on children.

As the H1N1 flu vaccine begins arriving at clinics around the country this week, Americans are confronting a difficult question: Is the risk of getting the swine flu higher than potential complications from a vaccination?

Most US doctors say the new H1N1 vaccine, though quickly tested, is safe and effective. The biggest problem right now, they say, is making sure there's enough vaccine for everybody who wants a shot.

But as the US embarks on its largest vaccine campaign in history, a number of concerns – including actual effectiveness, its effect on children with asthma, and the use of miniscule amounts of mercury as a preservative in adult doses – are feeding into a growing reluctance by as many two-thirds of all US moms and dads to give their children the shot, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.

More of the story here.

Colorado ski area: earliest start in 40 years another will break 64-year record

What global warming?

The Denver Post reports that Loveland ski area opened today and Arapahoe Basin ski area will open on Friday.

Loveland is the first ski area in North America to open its season, with $44 lift tickets. Loveland trail crews were able to begin snowmaking operations on Sept. 21.

As usual on opening day, Loveland opened Chair 1 with 1,000 vertical feet of terrain on Catwalk, Mambo and Homerun.

Friday will mark the earliest opening in Arapahoe Basin's 64-year history.


Some students in Idaho see earliest snow day in history

Just one week ago, Bellevue Idaho was expecting a "cool down" from the 80s to the 60s. Then came the snow.

But isn’t this supposed to be global warming? Where’s Al Gore when ya need him?

This may be one for the record books, not only how early this heavy fall snowstorm is, but the fact that it appears to have created the earliest snow day in the history of the Blaine County School District.


Spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope

Astronaut John Grunsfeld performs work while participating in the first of five scheduled spacewalks while servicing the Hubble Space Telescope last May.

The space shuttle Atlantis' mission is to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope in order to extend its working life.

Democrats push Reid to let public read ObamaCare bill

A report at the link below states:

A group of eight Democrats asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (pictured) for the health care reform bill to be posted online for 72 hours before a vote on the measure and once again before a vote on the conference report that will meld the House and Senate versions.

Mr. Obama wanted this bill pushed through Congress before the August recess.

If the bill can somehow be put off until 2010, think how many representatives in the House will be afraid to vote for it for fear they would not be re-elected.

That's why many Democrats in the House are having second thoughts about voting for ObamaCare now. Some senators are in the same predicament.

If they vote for a discombobulated bill that their constituents don’t want, they may very will lose their next bid for re-election.

As one commenter said, Congressioonal Democrats are busy reserving seats on the life boats ... so many Democrats ... so few lifeboats.

All other states will have to increase taxes if ObamaCare passes, but Nevada is exempt. Is that why Harry Reid doesn’t what the bill posted?

His re-election as Senator from Nevada is already in doubt and this special exemption for Nevada would bring unwanted national attention to Reid and the state of Nevada.

In spite of everything, don’t be surprised if ObamaCare is crammed down American’s throats one way or another.

More of the story here.

Wellness Skull by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout

A pedestrian walks past the "Wellness Skull", an installation by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout, at the Karlsplatz, Vienna, November, 2008.

The skull, which includes a built-in sauna, is part of an effort by Public Art Vienna to revitalize and enhance urban space around the capital.

Firefighters lose large grant to ACORN

From a report at the link below:

Nearly $1 million in Homeland Security funding typically earmarked for fire departments has been awarded to ACORN, despite a clear signal from Congress that it intends to cut off federal funding to the embattled group.

The grant to ACORN's Louisiana office became public on Oct. 2, less than three weeks after the House and Senate voted to cut off ACORN funding.

It was one of only three such grants issued to the state and made up almost 80 percent of the firefighting money earmarked for Louisiana, prompting one of the U.S. senators from the state to demand that the funds be taken back.

ACORN and the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) helped elect Barack Obama.

However, if we had a responsible media, Acorn and the SEIU would damage the Obama administration enough to hurt Democrats in the 2010 elections.

More here.

Criticism of Obama’s Czars deepens

The controversy over appointed officials within the Obama administration who have not undergone Senate confirmation -- so called czars -- has long been criticized by conservatives.

Now the subject is beginning to receive close scrutiny by Democrats on Capitol Hill as Senators dedicated a hearing to the topic of czars on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

A hearing was headed by Senator Feingold took place in the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution.

While past presidents have had czars, President Obama is facing particular criticism because of the high number of such appointees in his administration.

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is among those in Congress who have voiced disapproval.

“They are unelected, un-vetted, and unaccountable,” Sessions said in response to the hearing today. “They include individuals with extremist views and records—such as Van Jones, John Holdren, and Kevin Jennings—all of whom were installed in high government offices without having to face scrutiny before Congress or the American people.”

Don’t look for representatives of the White House to testify about the czars because they already know that some of their powers violate the Constitution and federal laws.

One critic said the Obama administration has all those czars working feverishly behind the scenes. Like wormy parasites, cranking out voluminous new insidious rules and regulations, eating at the freedoms and fabric of American society.

More here.

Oct 6, 2009

Rush Limbaugh interested in buying the Rams football team

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh announced he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues hockey team owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams football team.

The Rams have the dubious distinction of owning the NFL’s longest losing streak at 14 games and have a record of 5-31 since 2007.

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A very brief Rams ownership history:

In 1972, Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom traded the entire franchise - players, administration, equipment, everything - to Robert Irsay the then-owner of the Los Angeles Rams for his entire franchise. No people or equipment changed cities.

One day Rosenbloom and Irsay owned the Colts and Rams respectively, and the next day they’d switched places as owners of those teams. It was surely the most unusual ownership change in NFL history.

In a strange coincidence, both teams would eventually leave their respective cities and relocate to play football in the Midwest.

The Colts left Baltimore in 1984 and have since played as the Indianapolis Colts, while the Rams left Los Angeles in 1995 and became the St. Louis Rams.

Georgia Frontiere became owner of the Los Angeles Rams after the death of her husband Carroll Rosenbloom in 1979. In 1995 she moved the Rams to St. Louis where she grew up.

In the photo above taken Jan. 30, 2000, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere holds the Super Bowl trophy after the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Atlanta.

Frontiere died in 2008 at age 80 leaving 60 percent of the Rams ownership to her children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

Forbes magazine has estimated the Rams franchise has a value of $929 million.

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It wasn’t clear if the Limbaugh/Checketts bid was for 100 percent of the Rams or just the 60 percent share owned by Rosenbloom and Rodriguez.

Billionaire Stan Kroenke of Columbia, Mo., owns the remaining 40 percent

Rush Limbaugh is a native of Cape Girardeau, Mo., about 100 miles south of St. Louis.


Polar bear in Munich zoo

Gianna, a 2-year-old polar bear, yawns in the pool inside her enclosure at Munich's zoo Hellabrunn in southern Germany.

Gianna will soon become a companion to the Berlin polar bear Knut, who became a worldwide media sensation as a cub in 2007.

Doctors flanking Obama at event donated to his campaign

The four doctors who flanked President Obama at his White House press event today recommend his plan.

We all knew that.

What we didn’t know was that three out of the four donated to his presidential campaign.

It could be an ad slogan to put the toothpaste marketers who like to brag that nine out of ten doctors recommend their brand to shame.

The four doctors who stood and clapped along with Mr. Obama’s plans were Dr. Mona Mangat of St. Petersburg, Florida, Dr. Hershey Garner of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Dr. Richard A. Evans of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, and Dr. Amanda McKinney of Beatrice, Nebraska.

Campaign finance records made available by the Center for Responsive Politics show three of them gave thousands to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign. Dr. Manget gave $500, Dr. Garner gave $4,415 and Dr. McKinney gave $1750.

No campaign donations were found in the 2008 election cycle for Maine-resident Mr. Evans.

Accordingly, 3 out of 4 doctors agree, contributing to the President’s campaign gets you a great photo-op!” joked one Republican Hill staffer who wished to remain anonymous.

The whole white coat photo-op appeared embarrassingly amateurish even without knowing it was staged by Obama backers.


The Little Giantess on Berlin's Friedrichstrasse

The "Little Giantess" of the French theater company Royal de Luxe makes her way down Berlin's Friedrichstrasse as part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin wall.

Aida Vita cruise ship

The Aida Vita cruise ship entered service May 2003. The ship is flagged in the UK and has a maximum passenger rating of 1,266. It carries a crew of 418.

Pennsylvania woman killed by her pet bear

A 37-year-old Pennsylvania woman died after being mauled by her pet black bear.

She was attacked when she entered the bear's cage to feed the 350-pound animal and clean its cage, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

The bear lived in a 15-by-15-foot steel and concrete enclosure on the property.

The woman also had a permit to keep a Bengal tiger and an African lion. The property routinely passed inspection and had no violations.


Setting the record straight on healthcare

Oct 5, 2009

Doctors react to ObamaCare

An article at the link below reports:

Doctors are rallying together in protest of the president's plan for health care reform less than 24 hours after he laid out his plan.

Other doctors accepted an invitation to put on a show of support for ObamaCare in the Rose Garden as shown in the photo below:

Obama even made them all wear white smocks. The white smock photo-op was as comical as it was phony. However, any trick is worth a try when attempting to pass a healthcare package that most Americans don’t want.

If any other president had tried the “doctors with white smocks in the rose garden stunt” the media would have howled with laughter. Time will tell if this event will be ignored or praised.


Just horsin’ around

A kiss for the road

Bridgewater a stinkin’ little town in South Dakota

When I was a kid we would drive past the one-puddle town of Bridgewater on our way from Sioux Falls to Mitchell.

Passers-by last summer would have recognized the town of 600 by the smell.

Forty-four tons of rotting putrid meat will do that.

Behind the freezer doors at a meat plant mysteriously abandoned by its owner, the 44 tons of bison meat managed to hold its own for months, masked by the brutal chill of two South Dakota winters.

Once the power was cut and spring thaw arrived, nature took over. And enough rotting meat to fill a high school gym did exactly what you'd expect: It stank.

It stank at the bank. It smelled at the law office. It reeked at the cafe. Even the jewelry store wasn't immune.

Everyone in this tiny town could smell it, everywhere they went. A putrid odor so downright nasty the cleaners sent to mop up the gooey mess of liquefied meat — topped by a blanket of swarming white maggots and buzzed by a legion of flies — gave up after two days.

More of the stinkin’ tale here.

Senate Finance Democrat says ObamaCare bill is Gibberish

Democrat Senator Thomas Carper, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, says the actual legislative language of the committee’s health care bill is “confusing” and that anyone who claims they are going to read it and understand it is fooling people.

Carper described the type of language the actual text of the bill would finally be drafted in as "arcane," "confusing," "hard stuff to understand," and "incomprehensible." He likened it to the "gibberish" used in credit card disclosure forms.

More of the story here.

How will they pay for ObamaCare

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Oct 4, 2009

Report: President AWOL as our commander

A report in the New York Post says:

IF you still doubt President Obama is trying to do too many things and is giving short shrift to the most important ones, consider this pathetic scene at the Copenhagen airport.

It was Friday, and the president went to Denmark to make his pitch for the Chicago Olympics.

Before Air Force One took off for home, Obama met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal (pictured). Our commander in Afghanistan was summoned from London and got 25 minutes of face time with the commander-in-chief.

That's it -- 25 minutes on the plane for the man Obama picked to lead 68,000 troops and rescue a war he calls one of "necessity." Compare that to the 14 hours or so Obama wasted flying and speaking about the Olympics, and you get a snapshot of a president off course.

the New York Post also says, “Not incidentally, that was the same day the unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent, the highest since 1983, as employers shed 283,000 more jobs in September.”

Yes, the president is trying to do too much. Even worse, much of what he is trying to do are things most Americans don't want.

In the two months before he addressed Congress on Sept. 9, he held six health-care town halls and an evening news conference.

He then hit the road for more town halls and interviews, culminating in his TV blitz on Sept. 20, when he appeared on five Sunday shows, followed by an appearance on David Letterman.

Did Mr. Obama meet with Gen. Stanley McChrystal even once during that time?

He was too busy promoting his healthcare plan followed by his unsuccessful attempt to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago.

More of the story here.

Julia Child reincarnated as a robot?

Cooking robot "Okonomiyaki Robot" pours the ingredients for okonomiyaki (Japanese flour cake) over a heated cooking pan during a demonstration at the International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan last June.

Skull mask protesters in Manila

Protesters wearing skull masks join hundreds of others in a rally at Mendiola Bridge near the Presidential Palace in Manila last week to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The protesters likened the martial law era to the present government as they accused President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government of employing human rights violations, economic plunder, abductions and killings of activists.

The signs read: "Marcos and Gloria are Corrupt!"

Toyota recalls 3.8M vehicles over floor mats

Toyota announced it will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the United States because of problems with a removable floor mat that could interfere with the vehicle's accelerator and cause a crash.

Toyota says it will be the largest U.S. recall in its history. Owners could learn about the safety campaign as early as next week.

The recall will affect 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Owners should take out the floor mats on the driver's side and not replace them.


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More on Obama’s overnight dash to Copenhagen

NPR says:

The president's high-profile lobbying ... crashed early and embarrassingly.

It didn’t take long for the world says no to Obama and Chicago. A report at the link below is titled, Obama's Olympic Oops! Or, When To Lie Low.

From the report:

Friday was destined to be either a "phew" or an "uh-oh" political day in Copenhagen for President Obama, who had traveled to the Danish city to pitch his adopted hometown of Chicago as the site for the 2016 summer Olympics.

At least it didn't take long for him to find out that relief would not be the emotion of the day.

The president's high-profile lobbying for the Windy City crashed early and embarrassingly: Chicago attracted the lowest number of votes in a four-city contest eventually won by Rio de Janeiro.

The stunning first-round ouster gave Obama's opponents — even those who say they were rooting for the only U.S. city in the running — fodder for a day of questioning the president's powers of persuasion.

How much of the rejection must be blamed on the arrogance of the Obama’s and their self-serving presentation speeches may never really be known.