Jan 29, 2010

The weekend is almost here…

...you can come out now

Snarling lion cubs

Lion cubs roar in their enclosure at the Ghamadan zoo near Amman, Jordan

Video: truck in Turkey takes out a bridge

(click on picture to see video)

Addressing the party division

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Taxpayers pay $101,000 in-flight food and booze for Pelosi

Pelosi's trips are more about partying than anything else with a taxpayer paid bill of more than $100,000.

It reads like a dream order for a wild frat party: Maker's Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey's Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey … and Corona beer.

That one receipt makes up just part of the more than $100,000 taxpayers paid for "in-flight services" – including food and liquor, for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trips on Air Force jets over the last two years. That's almost $1,000 per week.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, show Pelosi incurred expenses of some $2.1 million for her use of Air Force jets for travel over that time.

Much more here.

Doll simulates injured baby for Israeli nurses

Flood in Peru town near Machu Picchu

The Vilcanota river floods Cuzco, Peru which is located near the remains of the ancient settlement of Machu Picchu.

Hundreds of tourists slept outdoors or in train cars as they waited to be airlifted out.

Time Magazine photo.

Jan 28, 2010

Theme of State of the Union speech - Stay the course

Chris Matthews reaction to Obama’s speech

Last night MSNBC's Chris Matthews said "I forgot he was black tonight for an hour."

During the Obama Inaugural speech one year ago Matthews said he felt a tingle go up his leg.

Maybe this time he felt a tinkle go down his leg.

… just wondering …

Has Twitter peaked?

A CNN report asks, Has Twitter peaked?

It was the upstart rock star of the Internet in early 2009, roaring out of relative obscurity to become one of the most exposed -- some would say overexposed -- services on the Web.
But since the middle of last year, the number of Twitter users has flatlined.

Compete, a Web analytics firm, says the microblogging site's number of visitors hasn't changed much since June and that its roughly 22 million visitors in December was about 770,000 fewer than its highest number, which was in August.

"Maybe Twitter was a victim of its own success," said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at comScore, another company that tracks traffic on Internet sites. "It grew so quickly that it isn't meeting its own expectations."

The popularity is slowing but this is not necessarily the result of failure because people who do use Twitter are using it more than ever.


The Associated Press fact-checks the State of the Union speech

The presidential honeymoon is over.


Reacting to the 70 minute speech is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the lift, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano center and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the right.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Last week it was Democrats in Congress showing anger at Mr. Obama. The simmering anger boiled over when Scott Brown won the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for decades.

Today the Associated Press took the time to fact-check Obama’s State of the Union speech.

The AP report begins by saying:

President Barack Obama told Americans the bipartisan deficit commission he will appoint won't just be "one of those Washington gimmicks." Left unspoken in that assurance was the fact that the commission won't have any teeth.

The first of 8 facts checked in the AP report is:

OBAMA: "Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't."

THE FACTS: The anticipated savings from this proposal would amount to less than 1 percent of the deficit - and that's IF the president can persuade Congress to go along.

The remaining 7 facts can be found here.

Nancy Grace wants to ban cameras in her wrongful death lawsuit

Melinda Duckett was on Grace's TV show in 2006 after her son Trenton disappeared. Grace badgered the woman, accusing her of hiding something.

Duckett shot and killed herself the day the taped interview was scheduled to air.

Nancy Grace is now being sued by Melinda Duckett's family. They blame her for inflicting emotional distress on the 21-year-old Florida mother during the appearance on her talk show.

Nancy Grace is shown on left during one of her programs on Headline News. Melinda Duckett is shown on right.

The attorney for Nancy Grace wants a federal judge to prohibit videotaping of her during a deposition or prohibit the release of the deposition if it is videotaped.

Her attorney says it's necessary to protect Grace from embarrassment.

Nancy Grace is a host on HLN, formerly CNN Headline News.

Grace is known for her abrasive, arrogant and confrontational interviews. She is referred to as Nancy Disgrace in some circles. However, her style must be popular because she has the most popular show on Headline News.


GM will give 1000 dollars to Toyota owners to switch brands

General Motors said Wednesday it would give owners of Toyota cars and trucks $1,000 or free financing if they would by one of their vehicles.

A day after Toyota suspended sales of eight models in the United States due to accelerator problems, arch-rival GM raced into the breach with the offers.

The incentives are available through the end of February.


Healthcare on back burner after Massachusetts election

Regardless of what Barack Obama said in his speech Wednesday, healthcare is on the back burner and may stay there for a long time.

There is a report at the link below titled: Democrats Put Lower Priority on Health Bill.

With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them.

The Senate majority leader Harry Reid (pictured) deflected questions about health care saying, “We’re not on health care now.”

Mr. Reid said, “we’ve talked a lot about it in the past” then went on to say there is no rush and that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

Reid’s comments are just the opposite of the rush to pass ObamaCare right up until the Democrat election disaster in Massachusetts.

More here.

Jan 27, 2010

Man wears skull mask in Macedonia carnival

A costumed man sharpens a knife along a street during a carnival in southwestern Macedonia's village of Vevcani.

The masks usually represent pagan rituals, Biblical issues or political satire.

Indonesia may tear down Obama statue

Indonesian authorities are considering a petition to tear down a statue of Barack Obama as a boy. The bronze statue has only been standing for one month. It was unveiled in Jakarta in December, 2009.

Critics say the site should have been used to honor an Indonesian and 55,000 people have joined a page on social networking website Facebook calling for the statue to be removed.

Members of the "Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Menteng Park" group on Facebook say Obama has done nothing for Indonesia.


Poll: global warming last on list of concerns for Americans

Pew Research Center has found that energy concerns fall as deficit concerns rise.

The priorities for Americans for 2010 are the economy, jobs and terrorism.

As shown above, worry about global warming is dead last on the list.


Toyota stops sales of 8 recalled models

In the wake of Toyota's recent recall of 2.3 million vehicles, Toyota suspended sales of the same eight recalled models and will also halt some production at six assembly plants
starting Feb. 1.

Toyota recalled and suspended the sale of the models after reports of sticking gas pedals that were causing unexpected acceleration. The company plans to suspend the sale of these vehicles, including the best-selling car in America, the Camry, to fix the sticking gas pedals.

The 8 suspended models:

2009-2010 RAV4
2009-2010 Corolla
2007-2010 Camry
2009-2010 Matrix
2005-2010 Avalon
2010 Highlander
2007-2010 Tundra
2008-2010 Sequoia


Poll finds Fox most trusted name in news

According to a new poll out Tuesday Fox is the most trusted television news network in the country.

A Public Policy Polling nationwide survey of 1,151 registered voters Jan. 18-19 found that 49 percent of Americans trusted Fox News, 10 percentage points more than any other network.

Thirty-seven percent said they didn’t trust Fox, also the lowest level of distrust that any of the networks recorded.

Predictably, 74 percent of Republicans said they trusted the network, and only 30 percent of Democrats said they trusted FOX.


Obama worshipper avoids the spam filters

From a report at the link below:

Obama has a suspiciously high number of letter-writing fans named 'Ellie Light'

In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers. Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.

This has happened before. During the presidential election newspapers received bulk-mailed letters of support for Barack Obama. The name Ellie Light was not used during those mailings.


= = = = = = = U P D A T E = = = = = = =

Dozens more ‘sightings’ of Obama's most prolific letter-writing fan reported here.

Jan 26, 2010

Tinkering with computer wallpaper - revisited

The wallpaper above has the HP logo in center-right. The computer, however, is a Toshiba laptop but I didn’t like the wallpaper supplied by Toshiba. I guess this proves I’m an incurable tinkerer.

This wallpaper, on an HP desktop computer, was changed to show a pencil drawing I made as a teenager.

The drawing was made on newsprint, which has turned a bit dark over time.

In both illustrations the Windows Vista “bubbles” screensaver is in use. It looks really cool and is fun to watch but it can’t possibly “save” a screen.

Screensavers were originally designed to prevent burn-in when the old monochrome or RGB (red green blue) monitors were left on for hours at a time.

In the 1980’s it was fairly common to see a monitor with something permanently burned onto the screen. It was usually the main menu of a DOS program that was left on for hours at a time.

Digital guitar has touch pad instead of strings

The Misa digital guitar has no strings to strum or pluck.

Instead of strings it has a touch-pad that enables the player to instantly adjust the sound of the guitar by where he or she places fingers.

(click on picture to see video)

PC World says:

The Misa guitar is actually an advanced type of MIDI controller that is powered by a 500MHz AMD Geode CPU and runs Linux under the hood (but don't worry; you don’t need Linux to use the guitar).

The Linux firmware code is open source, which allows programmers to modify it to their liking.

More here.

Massachusetts election: one week later

Syndicated newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer reports:

Five days before the Massachusetts special election, President Obama was in full bring-it-on mode as he rallied House Democrats behind his health care reform. "If Republicans want to campaign against what we've done by standing up for the status quo and for insurance companies over American families and businesses, that is a fight I want to have."

When Obama campaigned in Boston his work was no more successful than when he tried to help failed campaigns in New Jersey and Virginia.

After Coakley's defeat, Obama pretended that the real cause was a generalized anger and frustration "not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."

The blame Bush accusations never seem to stop.

Back to the Charles Krauthammer report:

The Democrats are delusional: Scott Brown won by running against Obama not Bush. He won by brilliantly nationalizing the race, running hard against the Obama agenda, most notably Obamacare. Killing it was his No. 1 campaign promise.

Brown ran on a very specific, very clear agenda. Stop health care. Don't Mirandize terrorists. Don't raise taxes; cut them. And no more secret backroom deals with special interests.

More here.

Actor Pernell Roberts dies at age 81

Veteran actor Pernell Roberts died Sunday from pancreatic cancer at his Malibu, California home. He was 81.

Photo on left shows Roberts as he appeared in “Bananza” and on right as he appeared in "Trapper John, M.D."

Roberts played the eldest Cartwright brother in TV's "Bonanza," a western drama that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1973.

He later played the lead role in "Trapper John, M.D" a medical drama that aired on CBS for seven years, ending in 1986.


Blaming Bush can be habit forming...

Jan 25, 2010

Human bed warmers at UK Holiday Inn’s

Tired of cold hotel bed sheets?

If you’re travel plans include visiting the UK, you may be in luck

Holiday Inn is offering a trial human bed-warming service at three hotels in Britain this month.

If requested, a willing staff-member at two of the chain's London hotels and one in the northern English city of Manchester will dress in an all-in-one fleece sleeper suit before slipping between the sheets.

A Holliday Inn spokesperson said it’s like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed.

The bed-warmer person would be equipped with a thermometer to measure the bed's required temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).

Holiday Inn said the warmer would be fully dressed and leave the bed before the guest occupied it.

They could not confirm if the warmer would shower first, but said hair would be covered.

Holiday Inn could not explain why the beds were not being warmed by hot water bottles or electric-blankets, but did say the human method was quirky.


Report: Obama Ohio townhall meeting was a trainwreck

From a National Review report:

Obama's appearance for Martha Coakley last week was one of the least effective stump appearances I had seen from a president. A lot of factors contributed to that - Coakley's literally yawn-inducing speech, the decision to use the president as an attack dog in the race, the president (or his speechwriter's) odd fixation on Scott Brown's truck, and so on.

But it was at that townhall meeting in Ohio that Obama was way off his game.

He was defensive, prickly, almost indignant that he's found himself in the tough spot that he's in.

He began by talking about how much he didn't like being in Washington, and apparently said something about the job being stifling. Sir, you spent two years trying to get this job!

He said he was calling on Congress to "pass a jobs bill." Wasn’t the stimulus was supposed to do that.


Obama used teleprompters while speaking to 6th graders

Barack Obama is shown speaking to 6th graders on the 'Race To The Top' program at the Graham Road Elementary School January 19, 2010 in Falls Church, Virginia.

He surely must be the first United States President to need teleprompters to read a speech to 6th graders.


Skinniest house in NY sold for $2.1M

A town house dubbed New York City's skinniest house has sold for $2.1 million.

The Photo on left was taken in 1936. Photo on right was taken recently.

The red, 9 1/2 foot wide, 42 foot long brick building in Greenwich Village was built in 1873 on land used as an alley between homes. The address is 75½ Bedford Street.

The town house was listed for sale last August at $2.7 million. The two bedroom, two bath dwelling last sold in 2000 for $1.6 million.

A plaque on the narrow Bedford Street home notes poet and author Edna St. Vincent Millay once lived there; so did anthropologist Margaret Mead. It is also said that actor John Barrymore also lived in the house.

Since its beginnings in 1873, the West Village building has housed a cobbler shop, candy factory, and been a home to many including actor John Barrymore.

A plaque on the outside of the building states that poet and author Edna St. Vincent Millay and anthropologist Margaret Mead once lived in the home

Link here and here.

Report: White House nightmare persists

A report at the link below says that after the end of Barack Obama’s worst week since taking power a year ago, his fortunes are set to deteriorate over the coming days.

Following the shock defeat of the Democratic candidate in Massachusetts last week, a move that deprived the president of his 60-seat super-majority in the Senate and left his legislative agenda in tatters, Mr. Obama has just four days to reboot the system.

Barack Obama originally delayed next week’s State of the Union address to Congress in the hope he would get his signature healthcare reform bill enacted in time.

That prospect was killed by the voters in Massachusetts.

The death of the healthcare effort would rob Mr. Obama of what he had hoped would be the centerpiece of his first State of the Union message.

A growing number of Democrats believe the nine-month ObamaCare effort could collapse altogether.

More here.

Jan 24, 2010

Insensitive census forms use word Negro

There is as lot of hullabaloo about the ‘insensitive’ census form this year. Some are even crying racist!

Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”

It’s not as if this is the first time Negro has been used on a census form. Look at the 2010 form compared to the 2000 form. It’s the same.

(click on illustration to enlarge)

Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.

“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”

However, if the census form authors are going to include term 'Negro,' why not put 'Colored' on there just in case someone hadn't graduated from that word usage?

Others have been critical because African American is abbreviated as African Am while American Indian is spelled out.

Will criticisms of the census forms continue? Yes, you can bet on it.

Social networking defense: Facebook alibi

Facebook is great at wasting your time. It could also keep you from doing time.

With more people revealing the details of their lives online, sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are providing evidence in legal battles.

The message on Rodney Bradford’s Facebook page, posted at 11:49 a.m. on Oct. 17, asked where his pancakes were. The words were typed from a computer in his father’s apartment in Harlem.

At the time, the sentence, written in street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update — meaningless to anyone besides Mr. Bradford.

But when Mr. Bradford, 19, was arrested the next day as a suspect in a robbery at the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn, where he lives, the words took on greater importance. They became his alibi.

When the Facebook evidence was confirmed, the charges were dropped.


News the White House hopes you don’t read

The White House hopes you are oblivious to the death of ObamaCare.

Well, maybe it’s not time to call the mortician, but the vultures are getting ready to circle what is left of ObamaCare.

For the first time in this year-plus debate, Democrats are worried that health reform is in critical condition.

House Speaker Pelosi can't get 218 votes for the Senate bill. Senate moderates don't want to take up another bill -- skinny or reconciliation -- and the White House isn't yet calling the shots.

“There’s a real possibility it doesn’t get through,” said a Democratic lobbyist who supports reform. “My guess is, for now, it’s over,” echoed another. There is a sense of anxiety and panic that has set in as Democrats ask, “What now?”

Will Republicans be invited to participate in a new bill?

Up until now Republicans were mostly shut out of the healthcare debate and yet were called obstructionists and labeled the “party of no” when they rejected what Democrats drew up behind closed doors.

With House Democrats looking over their shoulders from now until the November elections, it will need to be a much different bill or there will be no bill at all.

The stunning Massachusetts election changed everything.