Aug 14, 2010

Dog days of summer

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Back to school - dorm room essentials

When I was young we didn’t even think about back to school until after Labor day and our list of essentials was pretty short.

When my brother Wes and I went away to school, we had a 13-year-old Oldsmobile loaded with two suitcases and a couple of cardboard boxes full of stuff.

We couldn’t take much more. The Plainview Academy dorm rooms weren’t very spacious.

I took a few extra pairs of socks and underwear, one dress suit, one sport coat, six or seven shirts for class, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of slacks, two pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, one windbreaker and one winter coat.

My most prized possessions were drawing pencils, some water color paints, a primitive drafting board with a wobbly T-square and a Kodak box camera with two or three rolls of 620 black & white film.

Backpack? Forget it! I would have been laughed out of school carrying a backpack in those days.

No radio, no record player, just bare-bones stuff, but I was happy as a bunny in a cabbage patch.

It’s a whole new ballgame today. Now it takes much more to satisfy a cabbage patch bunny.

Kids today won’t be seen in an old ladies car such as a 13-year-old Oldsmobile. Nope, they ain’t happy if they don’t have a cool SUV such as a new Jeep Liberty or Ford Edge.

The list of stuff students "need" is much longer now:

1. iPhone

2. iPod

3. MacBook Pro computer

4. A printer than can scan, fax and copy

5. 12-megapixel digital camera

6. PlayStation 2 -- why is the PlayStation 2 essential? That’s what they use to play their DVD’s. After all, they can’t study unless Lord of the Rings has the room rockin'.

7. Livescribe Smartpen with notebook

8. TV

As the old Bob Dylan hit song says, The Times, They Are a-Changin’

Gaither Homecoming group sing "When we all get to Heaven"

Aug 13, 2010

University of Alabama changes spelling of Mississippi

In Alabama you spell Mississippi with only one p. But this violates a spelling crutch that also goes back generations in the South:

M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I humpback-humpback-I."

Pictured below is a ticket for the November 13, 2010 game between Alabama and Mississippi State at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The name Mississippi is missing its second humpback.

Sherlock Holmes past and present

The release of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie prompts a review of previous portrayals of the fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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The earliest American film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes was in 1916 when actor William Gillette portrayed Holmes in a silent film.

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A 1922 Sherlock Holmes movie starred John Barrymore as Holmes and Roland Young as Dr. Watson.

Young as Dr. Watson is shown on left and Barrymore as Sherlock Holmes is on right.

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In this 1939 film Nigel Bruce (on left) was cast as Dr. Watson and Basil Rathbone (on right) as Holmes.

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André Morell was cast as Dr. Watson (on left) and Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes (on right) in this 1959 movie.

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The 1988 British comedy Without a Clue featured two of the Briton's best-loved actors, Michael Caine (on left) as Holmes and Sir Ben Kingsley (on right) as Watson.

This Sherlock Holmes movie turns the tables with the novel premise that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Dr. Watson to allow him to solve crimes incognito.

However, when the public demands to see Holmes in person, he hires an alcoholic unemployed actor, Reginald Kincaid (played by Michael Caine), to play Holmes.
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Jeremy Brett (on left) as Sherlock Holmes and David Burke (on right) as Dr. Watson appeared in a series of Sherlock Holmes movies.

Edward Hardwicke later replaced David Burke as Dr. Watson in the Jeremy Brett series.

Until the latest movie, most agreed that Jeremy Brett was the best Sherlock Holmes. The consensus seemed to be that he played the definitive Sherlock Holmes roll.

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Charlton Heston played the part of Sherlock Holmes when it played in Los Angeles for two months ending January, 1981.

It is interesting that Jeremy Brett, who played the best Sherlock Holmes roll on camera, played the roll of Dr. Watson in the LA production of the stage play, which featured Charlton Heston as Sherlock Holmes.
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The latest Sherlock Holmes movie stars Jude Law as Dr. Watson (on left) and Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes (on right).

A short preview of this movie found on the Internet shows enough unrealistic violence and action one would expect them to be wearing Superman suits. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is probably rolling over in his grave.

Re-runs of the Jeremy Brett series have been airing on Public Broadcasting. They were filmed about 20 years ago and are nearly as popular here in America as they were in Britain when they were first released.

They are in black & white and appear to have authentic scenery and props. I watch them when I get the chance and enjoy the old trains and horse-drawn carriages, which seem to be appropriate for 1880’s London.

Report: 10 reasons why Obama presidency in meltdown

A report at the link below is titled, The stunning decline of Barack Obama: 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in meltdown.

The last few weeks have been a nightmare for President Obama, in a summer of discontent in the United States which has deeply unsettled the ruling liberal elites, so much so that even the Left has begun to turn against the White House.

Many of the president’s own supporters as well as independents are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama, with open warfare breaking out between the White House and the left-wing of the Democratic Party.

While conservatism in America grows stronger by the day, the forces of liberalism are growing increasingly weaker and divided.

Click here for the insightful article containing the 10 key reasons why the writer says the Obama presidency is in meltdown.


Aug 12, 2010

Only in Colorado...

They drive to the ski slopes in 8 inches of snow but can’t make it to work in 4 inches of snow.

You can see a $2,000 mountain bike tied on top of a $200 car.

Halloween costumes are designed to fit over a parka.

They go from heat to air conditioning in one day.

They play golf in January and ski in June.

Their idea of formal wear is ironing their jeans.

(gleaned from a series of TV commercials by Rocky Mountain Health Plans)

Daily tracking poll Obama hits new low

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday August 11:

Only 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president while 46% Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -22.

This matches an all-time low.

If you factor in the approval from blacks, which is probably 85% or higher, his true approval is much lower than shown in the chart above.


Clowning around in Latin America

Clowns at the Latin American Clown Congress.

Kagan has a special seat on Supreme Court

Bank accounts drained by most dangerous computer virus ever created

An article from the UK at the link below reports that thousands of online British bank accounts have been emptied by the most dangerous Trojan virus ever created.

The new trojan virus can empty bank accounts without their owners knowing about the theft as it shows them fake statements.

How long before this insidious virus goes world-wide and hits American bank accounts?


Blagojevich jurors tell judge they can't reach a verdict

Jurors in the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (pictured) may be at an impasse.

Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell or trade an appointment to Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat as well as other charges.

A note read in court on Wednesday says the jury is asking for guidance if they can't reach a unanimous decision on at least some counts. They say they've made ''a reasonable attempt'' and did so without rancor.

The jury has said they have gone beyond reasonable attempts to reach a verdict.


Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski dies at the age of 82

Former U.S. Representative from Illinois Dan Rostenkowski (pictured below) died in Wisconsin after a lengthy illness.

The Congressman with the booming voice served 18 terms in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Through his many years in office, Rostenkowski was regularly reelected even though his years in Washington were touched by trouble and scandal.

The dubious legacy of former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski as reported in the Los Angeles Times:

An old-style Chicago ward boss who became one of the nation's most powerful legislators during the Reagan era before a stunning fall to corruption charges that left him branded a political anachronism, died Wednesday.

Rostenkowski was found guilty of mail fraud and other charges in 1996 and served about 15 months in prison.

Mr. Rostenkowski's criminal slate was wiped clean by a Bill Clinton pardon. The Rostenkowski pardon was one of 396 pardons granted by Clinton.

Dan Rostenkowski played a major role in the 1986 Tax Reform Act, groundbreaking legislation that was intended to simplify the tax system and eliminate various tax shelters.

The reality of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 is that it made tax preparation much more difficult for a host of taxpayers and soon became known as the "Accountant's Retirement Act of 1986."

I was a self-employed tax accountant in the 1980's and my office was obliged to increase fees on many of the more complicated tax returns by 30% or more due to the added complexity in the tax code as a result of Rostenkowski's pet project, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

One of the Chicago newspapers tried to make light of the crimes that sent Rostenkowski to prison by saying he had been charged with stealing a few postage stamps and a couple of office chairs. However, it takes more than stealing a few postage stamps and a couple of office chairs to warrant a prison sentence.


Aug 11, 2010

We need more floss here please...

A man cleans teeth while inside a giant skull at the beginning of the Cranger Fair in Herne, western Germany

Fury as Democrats cut food stamps to bail out union workers

Nancy Pelosi (pictured) may be anticipating that a Republican could well be Speaker of the House after the November elections.

This, then, could be her "parting shot" as she called the House back from recess to spend more taxpayer dollars - $26 Billion to be exact.

Even Democrats are blasting her spending this time as reported at the link below:

Some Democrats are upset and advocacy groups are outraged over the raiding of the food-stamp cupboard to fund a state-aid bailout that some call a gift to teachers and government union workers.

The bill strips out $12 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps to help fund this "gift to teachers and government union workers."

The food stamp program currently helps 41 million Americans.


Now why did ya hafta go and do that?

A newly sheared alpaca seems to show his displeasure while standing in a pasture in Eugendorf, Austrian province of Salzburg

Kudlow Report: Democrat panic attack?

From a Larry Kudlow report on CNBC:

With the disappointingly soft jobs report for July, and a faltering recovery overall, is Team Obama getting ready for some sort of new, liberal-left, Keynesian, big-bang stimulus package? Will they be desperate to “do something”?

Desperate to ward off what appears to be an inevitable trouncing at the polls in November, the Democrats may be planning an August surprise where Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac forgive underwater mortgages held by millions of Americans. That will get more people to vote for Democrats, right?

And we may see more spending bills. More bailouts that, like most of the previous Obama bailouts, will have limited success.

Or maybe the Democrats will come up with a new infrastructure-spending bill, perhaps for green technologies and whatnot.

Or maybe they’ll extend unemployment benefits even more or maybe even bringing back the 1930's WPA. That was the "New Deal" where the government employed millions during the 1930s.

It's really hard to tell what the Democrats will do in a panic attack caused by their failed policies have stalled have economy.


Great view at Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

A couple sit at a table in a restaurant as Steve Black of Australia dives from a balcony during the 2010 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Polignano a Mare, Italy

Back to Washington to spend more taxpayer dollars

A report at the link below is titled, House Republicans suggest names for Democrats’ untitled, $26-Billion ‘Second Stimulus’ bill.

As if they hadn't already spent enough, they are back at the hog feeder for more. This spending frenzy has been so hastily thrown together they haven't even given it a name.

As CNET reported, a watchdog Web site on Sunday evening noted that the Democrats’ $26-billion spending measure includes a few blank spaces.

Congress’ official Web site calls it the ‘______Act of____,’ and the Library of Congress’ Thomas Web site displays it as the 'XXXXXX Axt of XXXX.'

“A nameless bill for a hopeless cause is a fitting metaphor for a Democratic Congress that refuses to listen to the American people and abandon its job-killing agenda,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio).

House Republicans on Monday offered 10 possible names for what they call the “union-boss bailout” bill. The names suggested are:

1. ‘Recovery Summer’ Bailout Act (Cash for Flunkers)

2. Delivering Unions a Major Boost (DUMB) Act

3. The HEEHAW Act (Helping Election Expenditures, Hurting American Workers)

4. The DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Clearly Leveraging and Optimizing Special-Interests’ Effectiveness)
5. The HUBOUCC Act (Holding Union Bosses Over Until Card Check Act)

6. The RIDIC Act (Rescuing Incumbent Democrats Is Costly Act)

7. Summertime Cash for Union Bosses Instead of Spending Cuts for Taxpayers Act

8. The FAIL Act (Frivolous Act of Ineffective Largesse Act)

9. The NTTHGUA Act (Naming These Things Hasn’t Gotten Us Anywhere, So Why Bother? Act)

10. The SOS Act (Save Our ‘Stimulus’ Act)

While most of the suggested names sound ridiculous so does the idea of spending another $26-Billion that probably won't work any better than the previous Obama stimulus measures.

American voters are gradually realizing they are like Bernie Madoff investors who suddenly learned the earning statements were phony and they really didn’t have anything.


Aug 10, 2010

Tiger Woods at his worst

From a report on the forgettable performance of golfer Tiger Woods at Firestone:

As he has done so often on Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational, Woods doffed his cap as he walked up toward the 18th green to warm applause from fans who occupied every seat in the grandstand.

Only there was no trophy waiting for him. This sounded more like a sympathy cheer.
The world's No. 1 player looked utterly beaten, and he was.

Tiger missed one last birdie putt to close with an embarrassing 77 giving him the highest 72-hole score — 298 — of any PGA tour event he ever played. Even as an amateur.

At least the accusations of infidelity seem to have ended. Girls have stopped popping up out of the woodwork (pun intended) with accusations.

Even the gossip magazines seem to have dropped Tiger Woods stories like he was yesterday's news.

And that's the real truth about Tiger Woods -- he is yesterday's news.

The photo above, taken several months ago, shows a sobbing Tiger Woods' receiving encouragement from his long-time caddy Steve Williams. Maybe it's time for more hugs from Williams.


A mammoth load

A giant replica of a mammoth travels past Schweinbach, Germany on its way to the Natural History and Mammoth Museum in Siegdorf.

Getty Images via Time Magazine

The real unemployment rate is16.5%

An article at the link below reports that included in the national jobs report that came out last Friday was an important — and uglier — number that often gets lost in the noise around the official unemployment rate.

Officially, the U.S. jobless rate is 9.5 percent, but by a broader measure the rate is well into double digits — at 16.5 percent. The larger number — called the U-6 unemployment rate — counts jobless people actively seeking work but also includes those who have stopped actively looking for a job and part-time workers who want more hours.

And what about the workers who are still on the job but have had their hours cut and earn much less.

Also, not counted in the unemployed are the self employed who earned nothing -- or very little -- and are not counted in the number of unemployed.


Betty Boop celebrates her 80th Birthday

ABC News reports:

A legend of the silver screen is celebrating today, as the black-and-white femme fatale, Betty Boop turns 80.

Boop made her debut on August 9, 1930, in a cartoon entitled "Dizzy Dishes." The character was modeled after some of the more popular singers and actresses of the era.

More popular than ever, Betty Boop looks pretty good for 80.


NY woman had to convince feds she is alive

A woman in Long Island, New York found she was not only dead but had been declared dead for more than one month.

Carol Combes is the official historian for the village of East Quogue, Long Island. She cares for headstones and writes local obituaries.

“I’m on the computer and am in the Social Security death index, and I’m scanning down and all of the sudden, whoa!” she said. “There’s my name, Carol Combes, where I was born, when I died.”

The story is reminiscent of the Mark Twain quote, "rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Ancestry Web sites even publicly listed her presumably ‘dearly departed’ Social Security number – that was still active.

“Every account I had was frozen, no matter where it was at,” she said. “I was left with just pocket change.”
Since then she and her husband Rich have collected hundreds of documents, made endless trips to social security officers, and spent hours on the phone with government workers who finally solved the riddle.
They traced the error to a clerk in Alabama typing in the wrong nine digit number.

A clerk in Alabama, or anywhere, could just as easily miss-type a SS# and show anyone dead - you, me or a neighbor down the street.


Aug 9, 2010

Didn't know what to think…

Didn't know what to think…

…so I stopped thinking.

Problem solved.

Copied this from a Facebook entry by grandson Tyler.

I love it!

Maybe he is sharpening his logic for the Aeronautical Engineering classes he is starting this week at the University of Colorado.

Eyebrows still raised over lavish Obama vacation in bad economic times

The Seattle Times reports:

As the U.S. economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline.

But the pictures coming out of a sunsplashed Spanish resort this week may be sending a different message.

The trip provided plenty of fodder for television news shows, talk-show hosts and bloggers.

Critics portrayed the foreign getaway as tone deaf to the economic anxiety back home.

More here and here.

Stephen Hawking warns abandon earth or face extinction

Stephen Hawking (pictured), the world's most famous theoretical physicist, is again sounding a warning that it's time to abandon earth.

In an interview with website Big Think, Stephen Hawking warned that the long-term future of the planet is in outer space.

"It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet," he said.

This is not the first time Hawking has warned of impending planetary doom. In 2006, the physicist warned that Earth was at an ever increasing risk of being wiped out. And lately, Hawking has become quite outspoken.

More here.

Going back to school isn't always a joyful time

Is going back to school more difficult for the child or the parent?

Robot can do 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'

Louis Buckley plays 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' with robot 'Berti' at the Science Museum in London last year.

The robot, a life size humanoid robot, is built to mimic human gesturing.

What's happening to Hope and Change?

Postal Service posts $3.5 billion loss

Losses for the Post Office rise as mail volume drops>

The U.S. Postal Service reported a $3.5 billion loss in its most recent quarter Thursday, as mail volume plummets and retiree health care costs mount.

Operating revenue declined 1.8% to $16 billion during the fiscal 2010 third quarter compared to a year earlier, while operating expenses spiked 4.2% to $19.5 billion.

The quarterly loss was the fourteenth in the last sixteen quarters.

More here.

Aug 8, 2010

California Pop 8 - unintended consequences?

Dead man gets ticket for violating 2-hour parking limit

A dead man got a parking ticket from a Seattle parking-enforcement officer for parking too long in 2-hour zone.

The officer assumed the 36-year-old man was asleep and rapped on the window to wake him and tell him to move the car, but she got no response and put a $42 parking violation on the car's windshield.

More here.

Double trouble - which twin did the shooting?

Several years ago there were TV ads for Toni home permanent kits showing twins with the question: "Which twin has the Toni?"

Prosecutors in Lockport, New York are asking, "which twin was the shooter?"

Prosecutors have zeroed in on identical twin brothers as the suspects in a shooting but they don't know which one to charge.

The 31-year-old twins showed up in court with matching clothes and goatees. They do have different tattoos on their arms that may help witnesses with identification.


The Saturday Night Live Senator

Senator Al Franken (shown below in an undignified pose) happened to be the presiding over the Senate when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was laying out his opposition to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination.

Someone in the chamber appeared to be moving around in his chair, gasping and rolling his eyes.

It was Al Franken.

Maybe Franken was acting strange because he had a pantload and forgot to bring spare diapers.

Upon the conclusion of his remarks, a very irritated McConnell removed his microphone, approached the dais and confronted the former comedian.

"This isn't ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Al," McConnell told Franken sternly, according to people who overheard the exchange.

Franken later apologized to McConnell.


NY Times Report: best Democrat plan for midterms

A New York Times report on the best midterm election plan for Democrats is titled, To help Democrats in the fall Obama may stay away .

As lunch was served in the Roosevelt Room of the White House one day last week, President Obama assured the nine Democratic members of Congress sitting around the table that he would do anything he could to help them survive their fall elections.

Even, he said, if it meant staying away.

“You may not even want me to come to your district,” Mr. Obama said, according to guests, nearly all of whom hold seats that Republicans are aggressively seeking.

Active help by Mr. Obama did not help Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley win Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat nor did it help Jon Corzine's unsuccessful re-election for governor of New Jersey any more than it did in recent Democrat losses in Virginia.