Aug 21, 2010

Moon shrinking fast per NASA discovery

The moon is shrinking? Really? From a report at the link below:

Imagery from a NASA spacecraft has revealed that the Moon has shrunk significantly in recent times: indeed, instruments placed by the Apollo astronauts are thought to have recorded the rumbling, crunching sounds of lunar shrinkage carrying on in just the last few decades.

At first we thought the writers of the article would avoid insulting creationists by saying how many million years ago this began. On the second page of the report, however, it says:

The shrinkage has mostly occurred on a timescale in the hundreds of millions or billions of years.

They rationalize that a "wrinkling" moon is a "shrinking" moon.

That's easy to understand. However, we wonder how "hundreds of millions or billions of years" can equate to "shrinking fast."

Maybe we'll just go back to our whimsical childhood belief that, shrinking or not, the moon is made of green cheese.


Chow Chow dogs painted as panda bears

Chow Chow dogs, dyed to look like panda bears, are kept at the Dahe Pet Civilization Park in Zhengzhou, Henan province China.

The park bought four dyed Chow Chows from a pet market in Sichuan as an attempt to attract visitors.

Cathedrals Quartet sign Give the World a Smile

Aug 20, 2010

Cheap movie extras - inflatable dolls

Stacks of doll masks lie on a table at the Inflatable Crowd company in Gardena, California.

The company has 30,000 inflatable dolls which it rents out to studios for use in films instead of hiring extras.

Will bacteria in water beach Obama's 6th vacation of year?

From a report at the link below:

Welcome to Martha's Vineyard Mr. President - but don't go in the water!

Portions of Tisbury Great Pond, the salt-water lagoon fronting the first family’s vacation estate Blue Heron Farm, were closed earlier this week due to high levels of enterococci, an indicator that the water is contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria.

This posting was delayed because the keyboard on my laptop needed cleaning. Too much mid-morning coffee spurted out while reading some of the comments.

Three of the better ones follow:

Even bacteria is organizing a protest against Obamus Infirmus.

The bacterial count from fecal matter was anticipatory.

Enterococci would never attack one of their own.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year he could walk on water. Now he can't swim in it.


Clouded leopard cubs at the National Zoo

This April 30, 2010 photo by the Smithsonian Institution shows two male clouded leopard cubs that were born Feb. 14, 2010 at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.

Zoo officials said the cubs have been growing steadily and now weigh more than four pounds. They weighed just a half pound at birth. Clouded leopards are considered "vulnerable to extinction

Foxes slaughtering Prince Charles' hens

Prince Charles keeps losing his hens to hungry foxes.

His eggs-cellency has lost about 40 of his prize hens to foxes at Highgrove House, Prince Charles' country house and organic garden.

A spokeswoman said the birds were not part of Prince Charles's personal collection, which is used to supply eggs to the Royal Household.

The hens were part of a flock of about 170 kept in an orchard at Highgrove that supply organic eggs to the prince's Veg Shed farm shop in Tetbury.


Report: polls show Obama policies turning voters off

Douglas Schoen (pictured) has an article at the link below reporting that voters are tired of Obama pursuing policies they don’t want.

Schoen is a former Democrat pollster, political analyst and writer. He has always been a rabid Clinton supporter. Now he doesn't like what he sees in Obama.

There is a fundamental problem with the way President Obama has governed.

Since taking office, he has systematically put forth policies the American people do not want. The net result is a crisis of confidence and legitimacy in the American political system and our institutions.

The president is now at record low levels of approval—close to 40 percent overall, and in the mid- to low 30s among swing voters.

Mr. Schoen further says that voters are tired of the president pursuing policies they don’t want, and he’ll find out just how much in November.

The GOP now holds a six- to seven-point advantage in the generic vote for Congress—which, come November, almost certainly will give the Republicans control of the House and make control of the Senate a real possibility as well.

Put simply, we are looking at an unprecedented electoral blowout because the administration has made a systematic set of bad decisions that have had an adverse impact on public opinion.


Aug 19, 2010

Part time president: Obama's take 6th vacation of the year

From a report at the link below:

The Obama family will begin their sixth vacation of the year today, an 11-day sojourn in Martha’s Vineyard, the island destination of the wealthy and well-connected American elite.

Barack Obama will be accompanied by his wife Michelle and daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, nine, and are expected to stay at the historic Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark.


The picturesque language of Yogi Berra

Everybody loves former baseball catcher and team manager Yogi Berra (pictured).

He appeared recently as a customer sitting in a barber chair in a TV commercial. The ad is for an insurance company and Yogi says, "and they pay you cash, which is just as good as money."

Here are three "Berra-sims"
"I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."

"If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"

"I don't know if they were men or women fans running naked across the field. They had bags over their heads."

Chocolate Buddhas

A curator points out chocolate Buddha figurines at the World Chocolate Wonderland in Taipei.

GOP candidates bash global warming claims

We expect opposition party candidates to "break" the White House windows while campaigning for national office.

Now some Republican candidates are not only breaking White House windows but are trampling all over Al Gore’s organic vegetable patch.

Some Republican candidates have spoken up against the validity of global warming and climate change.

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over a link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

More here.

Aug 18, 2010

The on-again off-again Brett Favre is back with Vikings

Quarterback Brett Favre (pictured) was back on the Minnesota Vikings' practice field one day after rejoining the club to put aside his latest brush with retirement.

He said he opted to play a 20th NFL season because he felt he owed his teammates "one more try" at a Super Bowl title.

"I felt like I owed this organization to give it one more try," Favre said at a news conference.

Two possible translations:

1. "I felt like I owed it to my ego."

2. "I felt like I owed it to my bank account."

Brett Favre doesn't owe the Vikings anything.

Favre is a grandfather who turns 41 in October.


Where's Waldo? Cricket match spectators dressed as Waldo

Spectators dressed as Waldo (called Wally in Canada and the UK) wait for the start of the first test cricket match earlier this month between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham.

Al Gore back in news - not improper conduct this time

This may be the first time in two or three months that the former Vice President has been in the news when it wasn't on the front page of a magazine like the National Enquirer or DMZ in a story of improper conduct by another masseuse.

Gore (pictured)wants massive protests against Congress for inaction on climate change.

He cites an Australian wire service report that “tens of thousands of protesters … have taken to the streets across Australia to urge the major political parties to take action on climate change.”

What Gore really wants is for congress to pass cap and trade, which will be a national jobs killing energy tax on individuals and small business.

Big corporations will not pay the carbon tax. They will pass off their carbon tax costs on consumers just like they pass off their corporate income taxes now.

Until cap and trade is in full force, Gore can't get rich in the carbon trading market.

The story of Gore asking for major protests is here. More on cap and trade (carbon trading) here.

Mystery horse-boy on Google Street View

Google Street View has a fleet of GPS- and camera-equipped cars (pictured at right) that have captured a lot of oddities including what appeared to be a dead girl as reported in the second link below.

This is apparently the first horse boy picked up by Google Street View cameras.

Horse boy was made popular by a BBC news story at the first link below. It appears to be a man in a purple shirt, black pants and a brown horse-head mask, standing on a street corner in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Why are we even spending time on this non-story about a prank designed to generate publicity. We must be bored with nothing better to do. Otherwise why would we post two large photos of the prank?

We can only hope third-rate pranks, designed to be picked up on Google Street View cameras, don't migrate to this country.

Link here and here.

A Boxer rebellion in California this Novemer?

A report at the link below is titled, "Obama, Boxer, and the California Awakening." It reminds us that when most people think of California they think of beautiful beaches, Disneyland, San Francisco and Hollywood.

Yet the huge land mass between San Francisco and Hollywood – that region known as the San Joaquin Valley – comprises one of the world’s most fertile, and most productive agricultural regions.

And the residents of this agricultural region believe that Barack Obama and his policies have hurt them pretty badly.

If you were to travel north or south through this region, on either “Interstate 5” or state route “99,” you’d see the influence of bad politics in Washington , and expressions of outrage that Central Californians feel towards their federal government.

This region with its fertile soil would be a desert without adequate irrigation – and this is where Washington has damaged Central California.

Much of the water that would normally be available to these California farmers has been denied them, because of actions taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In issuing what is known as a “biological opinion,” this government agency utilized the power of the Endangered Species Act to shut-off water supplies to farmers in order to help save the delta smelt (pictured above), a small fish that the bureaucrats believe is endangered because of too much water in rivers and streams.

This reminds us of the snail darter, a tiny fish smaller than your pinkie finger, that delayed the construction of the Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River in the early 1970's.

The delta smelt is California's snail darter. Like the snail darter, the delta smelt is also no bigger than your pinkie finger.

Just as they did in Tennessee in the 1970's, environmentalists are now crippling the productivity of the San Joaquin Valley to save a tiny fish.

Protecting the delta smelt at the expense of California farmers may cause Barbara Boxer to lose her seat in the U.S. Senate in November.


Rod Blagojevich found guilty on only 1 of 24 counts

After deliberating for two weeks, a federal jury today convicted Rod Blagojevich (upper photo) of only one of the 24 counts against him -- lying to the FBI -- and announced it was deadlocked on the other 23 counts.

A defiant Blagojevich said, "We have a prosecutor who has wasted and wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to take me away from my family and my home."

Blagojevich's attorney, Sam Adam Jr. implored reporters to ask U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald (lower photo) one question: "Why are we spending $25 to $30 million on a retrial when they couldn't prove it the first time?"

Prosecutors, he said, "have to ask themselves, 'Is this worth it?' "

Blagojevich's other attorney, Sam Adam Sr., personally lashed out at Fitzgerald.

"This guy Fitzgerald is a master at indicting people for noncriminal activity," Adam Sr. said. "This guy is nuts."

After losing on 23 out of the 24 charges, conventional wisdom would say Patrick Fitzgerald would back off but he plans to re-try the Blagojevich brothers.

One wonders if Fitzgerald plans to keep prosecuting until he finds a sympathetic jury.


Aug 17, 2010

Acupuncture provides placebo effect only?

From a Time Magazine wellness blog entry at the link below:

Acupuncture has been -- how shall we say? -- one of the less ridiculed techniques of alternative medicine, at least in recent years.

A body of evidence shows that it does indeed relieve pain, for many conditions. But a study released today suggests that acupuncture probably only works because patients believe that it will -- and it's the belief, not the procedure, that makes the difference.

Placebo effect indeed. Imagine that -- a placebo that has endured for 2,000 years!

During a 4-month bout with sciatica this year, I was desperate enough to try anything short of back surgery or steroid spinal injections. A high profile local death, as a result of steroid spinal injections, prompted me to reject that option.

Acupuncture, however, was not the answer for me. I'm not squeamish about needles -- it's just that acupuncture didn't work. In fact, the treatment actually magnified the pain!

From the wellness blog:

In the new trial released today by the journal Arthritis Care & Research, 455 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned either to receive traditional Chinese acupuncture or to receive a sham treatment -- a kind of mock acupuncture with needles inserted away from traditional acupuncture meridians, and with shallow needles designed to give very little of the stimulation that acupuncture provides.

After six weeks of therapy, the two groups showed comparable results.

Both groups reported less pain and fewer symptoms than a smaller group of patients who were still on a wait list, having not received treatment at all.

In the end acupuncture did make people feel better -- but it wasn't the treatment that mattered.


Children can turn almost anything into a playground

With a Little Imagination a playground can be almost anywhere.

These children are playing in water pipes at a construction site on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern Indian city of Allahabad.

The Dodge monkey ad pokes finger at PETA

End-of-model-year closeout car ads on TV can be almost as annoying as political ads during an election year.

But Chrysler actually gave us a smile as we saw a line of 30 black cars in front of a tent with confetti as a monotone voice droned, "This event could not be more amazing."


"Oh, wait. There's a monkey. I stand corrected."

Right on que, a monkey shows up in an Evel Knievel style costume, presses a dynamite detonator that explodes a tiny shower of confetti.

The top photo shows the monkey in the original ad. Lower photo shows the same ad with the monkey digitally removed.

Soon after the original ad appeared, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) came crying that the monkey was being exploited.

But rather than pulling the ad, Chrysler simply digitally erased the monkey. Now that same monotone voice says, "Oh, wait. There's an invisible monkey. Unbelievable."

Consumerist says, "The first one was just meh, monkey joke. The revision is an act of surreal genius, and a giant finger to PETA pantywringers."


Top Senate Democrat opposes ground zero mosque

Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid is opposing plans by a Muslim organization to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site.

Senator Reid says the First Amendment protects freedom of religion but also thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.

Reid faces voters in a tough election this fall in his home state of Nevada. Perhaps Reid is going against Mr. Obama on the ground zero mosque to help his election chances in Nevada. Reid marches lock-step with Obama on every other major issue.

Another politician speaks out on the ground zero mosque issue below:


Aug 16, 2010

New York City bedbug invasion

It appears the old-time good night salutation, "Sleep tight - don't let the bed bugs bite" may be coming back into use - in New York anyway.
From a report at the first link below:

The blood-sucking menace that has infiltrated Manhattan's skyscrapers has taken another scalp, after the headquarters of media empire Time Warner became the latest landlord to own up to the presence of bedbugs.

The city that supposedly never sleeps is under attack by night from an epidemic of stealthy, tiny, red-brown creatures that leave a tell-tale trail of itchy welts, distress, embarrassment and anxiety.

From a report at the second link below:

Tiny blood-sucking bedbugs have become an epidemic in New York City. The little pests have invaded even the cleanest and most expensive apartments in neighborhoods around New York. In fact, a councilwoman from the Upper West Side has called for a citywide bedbug task force to address the problem.

The chart above appeared in New York Daily News.
Link here and here.

Time to find a new cardiologist

Bring your own shade from scorching heat

Visitors carry their own shade in the scorching heat while awaiting admission to the Australian Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai.

If you are rich avoid speeding in Switzerland

A Swedish motorist faces a world-record speeding fine of SFr1.08m ($1,000,000.00).

The 37-year-old Swede was caught driving his Mercedes SLS AMG sports car at 290km/h (180mph) which was 170km/h (105 mph) over the limit.

Under Swiss law, the level of fine is determined by the wealth of the driver as well as the speed recorded.

In January, a Swiss driver was fined $290,000 - the current world record.


Wall Street backs GOP Senate candidates

An ABC article, carried by UPI (see link below), reports that Wall Street as well as financial industry donations have been going largely to Republicans.

Republican U.S. Senate candidates are receiving double the contributions from the financial industry as their Democratic opponents, an analysis indicates.

There were only three Democrats listed in the top ten recipients of donations from the financial industry: Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Last month it was reported that top bank executives were turning against Democrats following the passage of financial reform legislation viewed as anti-Wall Street.


White House approves mosque atop powered bones of 9-11 victims

Barack Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, at a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan.

The opposition says this goes beyond a simple question of religious freedom. They equate a mosque at the site of the destruction of the Twin Towers the same as victory dances on the graves of 9-11 victims.

Some political strategists have said Obama's approval of the mosque will have a negative impact on Democrats in the November elections.

Link here, here, here and here.

Aug 15, 2010

Guinness Record longest running TV ad - revisited

A delightful commercial showing a little old lady throwing a tire through a tire store window is the longest running TV commercial according to Guinness World Records.

Joining the ranks of Charmin's Mr. Whipple, Wendy's affable founder Dave Thomas and the Lonely Maytag Repairman, is the little old lady from the Discount Tire ad.

Not only is the Discount Tire ad a winner - it’s funny and it’s short - only a few seconds long!

Kids buy airline tickets and fly from Florida to Tennessee

A report at the link below tells of three kids in Florida that wandered off to Tennessee. Their destination was Dollywood.

Bored on a hot summer day, three Florida youngsters were just sitting around when one sent a text message to another with an adventurous idea.

"Hey do you want to go 2 Tennessee today," the message read.

"Sure," the other responded.

The kids were 15, 13 and 11 -- not old enough to get a driver's license. They took a taxi to the Jacksonville airport and boarded a flight to Nashville.

Nobody asked a question. Nobody asked for
Not the taxi driver. Not the ticket counter. Not security officials or flight attendants or other passengers.

When they landed in Nashville they were down to just $40 and Dollywood was hundreds of miles away. That's when they called home.

In an age of heightened security and terrorism threats, some are concerned that three youngsters could so easily board an airline without parental consent.


Young girl has last laugh on Google Street View

An image on Google Street View of a girl's body lying face down on Middle Road, St. John’s, Worcester sparked a bit of a panic among local residents that a serious crime had been committed.

The 'dead' body, however, turned out to be a 9-year-old British girl playing a prank with her friend and picked up on a Google Street View camera.