Jul 10, 2010

Ostrich yawning … he must be bored …

Fishing in a green China sea

A fisherman rows a boat through the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Chaohu, China.

Cathedrals Quartet sing Oh What a Savior

Jul 9, 2010

Chaubunagungamaug Massachusetts is a mouthful

Lake Chaubunagungamaug is a mouthful.

Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg is an even bigger mouthful.

One of the world's longest place names started out a bit shorter.

Centuries ago local Nimpuc Indians reportedly called a 1,442-acre lake in present-day Massachusetts Chaubunagungamaugg, which historians translate to "Fishing Place at the Boundary."

When European settlers moved into the area, the Nimpuc apparently adopted the phrase Chargoggagoggmanchauggagogg, which means "Englishmen at Manchaug." Later they strung it together with their original lake name, winding up with the descriptor "Englishmen at Manchaug at the Fishing Place at the Boundary," or (deep breath) Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

Over the years, Massachusetts frustrated by misspelled signs and having to pronounce a tongue twister name have reportedly tried to change the name.

One attempt, in the 1950s, to reduce the number of g's from 15 to 13 inspired a poem that begins, "Touch not a g of our big lake!"

Currently the Department of the Interior lists the official name as Lake Chaubunagungamaugg. But some locals just call it Lake Webster.


Bear cooling it in Gelsenkirchen zoo

A bear cools down in the water at a zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain

Photos taken during the dangerous running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain.

Tanning salon patrons see red over increased cost get tan

As a part of ObamaCare, a vanity tax has been leveled at tanning salons the beginning of this month.

Tanning salon owners must now charge a 10 percent tax every time a customer uses a UV tanning bed and it's all in an effort to raise money to help pay for ObamaCare and to discourage Americans from subjecting themselves to cancer-causing UV rays.

The tanning industry is just the latest victim of government paternalism, putting it in the same category as cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, sodas, trans fats, junk food and other targets of so-called "sin taxes."


Jul 8, 2010

Sen. Boxer and former HP CEO nearly even in poll

From a Reuters report at the link below:

Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer's edge over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina has dwindled to 3 points as she seeks re-election in November, with more Californians now holding an unfavorable view of the three-term senator, a poll released on Thursday showed.

Boxer once held a 30-point lead over Fiorina.

Barbara Boxer is shown on left above. Carly Fiorina is on right.

Now, however, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and a political novice, is ahead by a margin of only 47 percent to 44 percent.

One of Barack Obama's staunchest allies who has become a powerful liberal voice in the Senate since she was first elected in 1992, Boxer is facing her toughest challenge yet, as a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment sweeps the nation.


McDonald's faces lawsuit over Happy Meal toys

A watchdog group says giving away toys with Happy Meals contributes to childhood obesity and threatens to sue. McDonald's cites healthful menu choices.

Citing toys aimed at promoting the latest "Shrek" movie, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the plastic promotions lure children into McDonald's restaurants where they are then likely to order food that is too high in calories, fat and salt.


Prince Charles amid elephant sculptures

Prince Charles views some decorated elephant sculptures at the Royal Hospital, London

The sculptures are to be auctioned to raise money to save the endangered Asian elephant.

The one with the bow tie is Charles.

Drug companies determined to get Harry Reid re-elected

From a Washington Examiner report:

No scalp would be as treasured by Republicans this fall as that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (pictured). And no incumbent is receiving as much air support from the drug industry as is Reid, who championed a health care bill that pads drug company profits.

The drug lobby has begun a pro-Reid TV blitz in his home state of Nevada. One ad praises Reid for saving jobs and for understanding that "good jobs with good benefits [mean] a better future." The narrator then instructs viewers to "call Harry Reid today; tell him to keep fighting for Nevada families."

But "Nevada families" didn't pay for the ad. The drug lobby did. And while the TV spot makes only passing reference to the health care bill passed in March, there's no doubt this ad buy -- and the rest of the drug industry's generosity toward Harry Reid -- is a big thank you for the corporate-welfare "reform" bill that Reid shepherded through the Senate.


Jul 7, 2010

TSA rescinds ban on “controversial opinion” websites

This is an update on the recent directive from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to their employees forbidding them from websites with "controversial opinions."

After an uproar from conservative bloggers and free-speech activists, the Transportation Security Administration late Tuesday rescinded a new policy that would have prevented employees from accessing websites with "controversial opinions" on TSA computers at work.

It is interesting to know that TSA workers now can have access to Rush Limbaugh along with pornographic websites (porno sites were not - and are still not - on the list of forbidden sites).

The original report is here.

The policy reversal story is here.

Japan court convicts anti-whaling activist

Anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune (pictured) was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and five years' probation Wednesday by a Tokyo district court judge for his role in boarding a Japanese whaling ship.

Bethune was found guilty on five charges, ranging from assault against whalers to trespassing onto a whaling vessel. Bethune had previously pleaded guilty to all charges but assault.

The New Zealand citizen could have received up to 15 years behind bars in Japanese prison.

At the May hearing, Bethune tearfully described the January collision between the Shonan Maru 2 and the Sea Shepherd's multi-million-dollar catamaran style speedboat, the Ady Gil. The crash sunk the Ady Gil (pictured), which Bethune captained.


Rockies baseball fans may need cardiologist's permission to see home games

On the 4th of July the Colorado Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants by a score of 4-3 but it took 5 hours, 24 minutes to do it. It was the longest game ever at Coors Field in Denver. Story here.

Last night in the first game of a three game series with the St. Louis Cardinals the Rockies gave their fans another reason to give their heart medicine a workout.

In the first game of a three game series with a very good St. Louis Cardinal team, the Rockies entered the bottom of the 9th inning trailing by 6 runs. The Rockies scored 9 runs for a 12-9 victory. It was the largest ninth-inning comeback in Rockies history. The previous best was four runs.

Story here.

Flygun: new method of fly extermination

Fly swatters are so 20th century.


Feds helped pay bills for prisoners and dead people

An article at the link below reports that the federal government helped pay home air-conditioning bills for federal employees, prisoners and dead people!

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government helped pay the home air conditioning bills for more than 11,000 dead people, 1,100 federal employees, and 725 convicts in fiscal year 2009.

The payments were made by a $5 billion program known as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP is designed to provide federal assistance, administered by the states, to help people pay the energy bills to heat their homes in the winter and cool them in the summer.

The GAO examined the LIHEAP programs in seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey and found evidence of fraud in each state.

Most glaring among the problems the GAO found were payments of LIHEAP benefits to dead people, some of whom, records show, had been dead for quite a long time.

The GAO matched LIHEAP data with federal civilian payroll records and found about 1,100 federal employees whose federal salary exceeded the maximum income threshold at the time of their application.

One such case involved a Chicago-area Postal Service employee making $80,000 per year!

The program also provided subsidies to the wife of another Chicago-area postal worker, who earned $84,000 per year, after the wife certified that her husband had no income.

The third chronic issue the GAO discovered was that the program repeatedly paid the air conditioning and heating bill of convicts who were in jail at the time the payments were made!

More here.

Jul 6, 2010

A hat to celebrate Tour de France

(click on picture to enlarge)

photo by Bogdan Cristel - Reuters via Time Magazine

A severe heat wave and no alarms from global warmists?

With a severe heat wave in the east and no "I told you so" warnings from the "global warming" alarmists is almost alarming in itself.

The "warming fraternity" is as silent now as they were during the long frigid winter we had a few months ago.

Are they still in shock from the scandal surrounding their guru Al Gore? Are they in hiding, waiting to see if there are any other Gored women out there?

[sarcasm off]

Hotel in the sky for luxury transportation

The Aircruise is designed to be a multiple unit dwelling in the sky for luxury transportation. The initial design proposes a bar/lounge zone, four duplex apartments, a penthouse and five smaller apartments.

The photo on the left shows the Aircruise tethered to the ground. The photo on right shows an Aircruise floating in the sky.

The aircraft would be limited to a height of 12,000 feet because the hotel is not pressurized and the hydrogen keeping it afloat constricts at the colder temperatures found at extreme elevations.


Lightning at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

A flash of lightning illuminates the sky above the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple in Athens.

TSA to block workers from controversial opinion web sites

From a CBS Investigates report (see link below):

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.

Photo shows Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Director for the Obama administration.

As of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed "inappropriate for government access."

The categories include:

• Chat/Messaging
• Controversial opinion
• Criminal activity
• Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
• Gaming

The ruling did not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a "controversial opinion."

There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the ruling stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.

Do controversial opinion websites mean sites critical of the left-wing liberals in the current administration such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh? If so, will blocking certain Religious websites be next?

Conspicuously absent from the list are pornography websites.


- - - - - - - - - - U P D A T E - - - - - - - - - -

After an uproar from conservative bloggers and free-speech activists, the Transportation Security Administration late Tuesday rescinded a new policy that would have prevented employees from accessing websites with "controversial opinions" on TSA computers at work.

It is interesting to know that TSA workers now can have access to Rush Limbaugh along with pornographic websites. Porno sites were not - and are still not - on the list of forbidden sites.


British Queen said to be shedding pounds

Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) is shedding pounds by living more frugally -- if living on 7.9 million pounds ($12.3 million) can be called frugal.

At any rate she is cutting spending and putting off palace repairs as royal finances are squeezed by Britain's budget crisis.

The 84-year-old queen is in Toronto, Canada for a visit.

The electric blackout in Toronto during her visit is really not what the Queen had in mind for cutting down her use of resources.

The power outage was caused by an explosion at a Toronto power facility.

A report at the first link below says the total public cost of supporting the monarchy was 38.2 million pounds ($57.8 million) for last year.

In an attempt to minimize the cost to support the monarchy, the report says it is the equivalent to 62 pence (94 cents) per person. However, that's only part of the story because it is taxpaying Brits who actually support the monarchy.

There are millions of Brits who do not pay taxes for one reason or another. Consequently the share per person for those who actually support the Queen is much higher than 62 pence!

The Queen's attempt to economize is here. The Toronto power outage story is here.

White House staff salaries $38,796,307.00

Last Friday the White House released the salaries of its staff members ranging from its lowest-level employees to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

One commenter paraphrased a famous Winston Churchill quote: "Never have so many been paid so much for so little."

There is a full list of the 500 some employees by name and salary here.

Jul 5, 2010

Rockies baseball - the toddlers have grown up

The Colorado Rockies were perennial cellar dwellers while they 'grew their own' using the draft and minor trades rather than picking up free agents or trading for big-name players.

In fact, they traded away Matt Holliday (upper photo) one of their two legitimate stars.

The Holliday trade left future Hall of Fame first baseman Todd Helton (lower photo) and a bunch of young players. The team was then often referred to as "Todd and the toddlers."

Well, now the "toddlers" have grown up. After a slow start, the Rockies have turned heads in the National League winning series after series including 2 out of 3 from the elite Boston Red Sox.

The Rockies just finished a 4 game series with the San Francisco Giants by winning three games.

Yup, the toddlers have grown up.

This flying car would make James Bond drool

Shown below is the Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft – nicknamed the "Flying Car" – is a car/plane hybrid.

It is designed to drive on public roadways and park in a standard garage, but anyone with a sport pilot certificate can also take to the skies.

The FAA just granted the builders' a weight exemption, which allows them to add airbags, an energy absorbing crumple zone and a protective safety cage aimed at road safety.

This part car - part plane is expected to be available starting at the end of 2011. The anticipated purchase price is $194,000.


Just can't break the blame habit

Still blaming Bush could boomerang

From a CNN report at the link below:

When signs of a severe economic downfall emerged more than two years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama was quick to point a finger at the man he hoped to replace.

More than sixteen months into his administration the message is still the same -- blame Bush.

Obama repeated that message when talking about the still-sputtering economy, twice reminding those at a town-hall meeting in Wisconsin that he "inherited" the economic mess.

It's a familiar message from his days on the campaign trail when criticisms of President Bush were as common as policy proposals.

"Nothing makes a president look weaker than pointing the finger at past administrations," said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean.

"By blaming somebody, it looks like you are playing politics and people just want jobs. They don't care about whose fault it is.

Playing the blame game only boomerangs on yourself."


Why soccer may never become 'America's Game'

The World Cup has introduced Americans to the vuvuzela.

Bedbugs close upscale store in New York City

Upscale teen apparel chain Abercrombie & Fitch Co in New York City due to a bedbug infestation.

The store, in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, will reopen when the bedbug problem is gone.


List of Biden's political blunders

There are two questions about the list of Biden's political blunders found at the link below:

1. Is this a complete list? Answer: no. The complete list on the Internet would take up too much room in cyberspace and a print article would exhaust the paper supply of most newspaper publishers.

2. Why did this appear on FoxNews only and not the other news outlets? Answer: because MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NPR, etc. were too busy digging in Sarah Palin's trashcans to find out her popularity secret. They are still rankled because, during the last presidential election campaign, Sarah Palin drew crowds in the tens of thousands at giant venues while Biden spoke to hundreds at Middle School gymnasiums.

Following is a list of just a few of Biden's political blunders - starting with the most recent:

1. On June 25, 2010, Vice President Biden was visiting a custard shop outside Milwaukee when the shop manager told him his dessert would be on the house if he lowered taxes.

"Don't worry, it's on us," the manager said. "Lower our taxes and we'll call it even."

Biden replied: "Why don't you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?"

2. On March 17, 2010, Biden used a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House to honor the memory of the Irish prime minister's mother -- though she was alive.

"God rest her soul," Biden said as he introduced Brian Cowen and Obama. Biden quickly corrected his mistake, noting that Cowen's father, not mother, was dead.

"Wait ... your mom's still, your mom is still alive. It was your dad (who) passed. God bless her soul. I gotta get this straight," Biden said.

3. On July 16, 2009, Biden gave a blunt summation of the administration's approach to stimulus spending.

"People, when I say that, look at me and say, 'What are you talking about, Joe? You're telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?" he said at a stop in Virginia. "The answer is yes."

4. On Inauguration Day, Jan. 20 2009, Biden misspoke when he told a cheering crowd of supporters, "Jill and I had the great honor of standing on that stage, looking across at one of the great justices, Justice Stewart."

Justice John Paul Stevens -- not Stewart -- swore Biden in as vice president.

5. During his first campaign rally as Obama's vice presidential running mate on Aug. 23, 2008, Biden introduced Obama by saying, "A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States -- Barack America!"

That's just a few from the partial list at the link below.

If the White House gave out a 'village idiot' award it would certainly go to Joe Biden.

Its no wonder comedians have said Barack Obama chose Joe Biden to be Vice President as his insurance policy against impeachment.


Prince Charles embraces frugality - really

The report at the link below is about Prince Charles (pictured) the 'poor little rich boy.' It is titled, Royal in Recession: Prince Charles embraces frugality.

From the report:

Charles, the Prince of Wales, doesn't exactly have to save for a rainy day: he collects Aston Martins, has three chauffeurs, and holds overseas investments totaling at least $68 million.

But as Britain copes with a bleak economic forecast and austerity measures meant to tackle its $230 billion deficit, the future king has embraced a royal version of frugality sure to make playboy princes around the world quiver: he's cutting back on canap├ęs
and hosting drinks parties instead of lavish dinners.

The last year he even reduced his official spending by almost four and one half percent!

Are you impressed? Me neither.


Jul 4, 2010

Everyone loves Independence Day

Happy Birthday America!

Fireworks at Mr. Rushmore

The National Park Service has canceled the Independence Day fireworks display at Mount Rushmore National Memorial this year because of growing fire danger in a forest decimated by pine beetles.

Tour de Lance: Armstrong goes for number 8

After finishing first in a record 7 Tour de France races in a row 38-year-old Lance Armstrong is going after his 8th win.