Dec 25, 2010

When a war stopped for a day on Christmas

It was on Christmas in 1914, 96 years ago, when a war ended for a day and both sides stopped the shooting and killing and enacted an impromptu cease-fire as they fraternized in the "no man's land" between the trenches.

During the next 24 hours one of the strangest and greatest acts of peace settled over a war-torn battle field.

Photo shows British and German troops fraternizing on the battlefield during the "Christmas truce of 1914."

From Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, there was no shooting, no hating and no killing as British and German soldiers came out of their trenches. Christmas carols were sung by both the British and German troops. They shook hands, swapped their meager rations, tobacco and chocolates.

It was a brief peace amid a devastating war and was later called the Christmas Truce of 1914, one of the last examples of wartime chivalry.

The next day the fighting, killing and hatred returned and lasted until the war ended four long years later.

Sharing our new Christmas tree

Charlie Brown would be proud

1919 Dodge from Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie has new Colorado owner

Keith and Marilyn Smith are are shown below driving down a ramp from the truck as they take delivery of the 1919 Dodge touring car that was delivered Friday to their Johnstown (near Loveland), Colorado home.

The Christmas Eve delivery of the 91-year-old car was very fitting.

The car was used in the filming of the classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It's the car Jimmy Stewart was driving when he crashed into a tree in the movie.

More here.

Is Christmas here yet?

Dec 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - a great time to remember the reason for the season

Home for Christmas as millions cram roads

Over the river and through the woods

to grandmother's house we go...

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Millions are traveling by car this Holiday Season despite the Grinch at the gas pump.

It's estimated 93 percent of 2010's holiday travelers are driving. That's nearly 86 million people on the road.

Nationwide the average price for regular is $3.01 a gallon, a $0.43 jump from 2009 and the first time gas has ever topped $3.00 at Christmas.

Everything is more costly for travelers this year including airline ticket and hotel rooms.

Median spending for holiday travel is up 3.5 percent to $694.

A creative musical staircase

Dancer tells Prancer - just be glad you have a job

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Rudolph gives up his incandescent red nose

Caving in to pressure from unenlightened (pun intended) environmentalists, Santa replaced Rudolph's incandescent red nose for a curly neon one.


Travelers get intimate patdowns at Denver International Airport.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker appears to be fondling a female traveler's chest during a patdown search at Denver International Airport.
A TSA supervisor appears to be teaching a female TSA worker how to do an intimate search of the front of a male passengers pants at Denver International Airport.

Dec 23, 2010

Airline pilot punished for whistle blowing YouTube

Don't cross Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as one airline pilot discovered.

An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security.

Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.

At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot's gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.

YouTube videos showed what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card.

"As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here," the pilot narrates.

More here.

Facebook creator is Time Magazine Person of the Year

Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old creator of Facebook, is Time Magazine Person of the Year for 2010.

In 2007 Mark Zuckerberg became the world's youngest billionaire at age 23. Facebook, the social networking site created by Zuckerberg, has more than 500 million users.

The photos show the Facebook Headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Interesting "umbrella" cubicle.

How many offices have a giant fish sitting on top of a rubber chicken?

Love the huge minifig. Would a five foot Lego minifig be called a maxifig?

Remembering 2010 … the Vuvuzela

The Vuvuzela is a horn about two feet long that produces a loud monotone tone.

It was made famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) during the 2010 World Cup soccer games in South Africa.

The Vuvuzela produces a loud monotone note that has the ability to harm ones hearing if exposed to the incessant sound of many horns at close range as in a soccer stadium.

Vuvuzelas annoyed soccer players and fans alike, but spectators at the South African games blew into the tubular trumpets like there was no tomorrow, which, for the Vuvuzela, we hope there won't be.

The infernal noise from Vuvuzelas at the World Cup games in South Africa made it hard for athletes to communicate with each other or even concentrate during soccer games.

Man has three primal fears: fear of heights, fear of snakes and fear that Vuvuzelas will invade sports stadiums around the world.

Bad customer service puts you on Hold at eBay

Time Magazine has a report titled, On Hold at eBay: What happened to Customer Service.

Computer giant Dell suffered heavy criticism when it outsourced much of its customer support phone service overseas a number of years ago.

But what happens when companies go a step further — when customer phone service is not just offshore, but off the horizon? In other words, a customer rep will be with you ... um ... maybe never.

eBay recently disconnected some of its toll-free customer service lines.

Reminds us of the TV commercials where a Russian man in a tiny cluttered shack answers the phone saying, "hello, my name Peggy" as shown in the photo aat right.

Even though eBay says the service is getting better, callers often hear a recorded message informing them, "The number you have reached is no longer available," and directs customers to visit its website for help.

Some callers to eBay don't even get the "hello, my name Peggy" response.

Did PacBell repossess half their phone lines?


Spending Millions on signs advertising spending Billions

There is a Los Angeles Times report titled, Spending millions on signs advertising spending billions on Obama spending.

The report begins with a bit of a dig at Joe Biden:

Since his impossible schedule prohibits Vice President Joe Biden from making it around to every stimulus spending project across the country, the government has come up with the idea of posting project signs to show your $787 billion of hard-earned future tax money at work.

But just what do these signs really tell us?

Below is just one example of just how ridiculous these signs really are:

Reporters found one sign outside Washington on the road to Dulles International Airport that cost $10,000 to make and erect. It advertises a runway improvement that created all of 17 temporary construction jobs.


Dec 22, 2010

Ohio loses 2 House seats: Kucinich may go

The Associated Press reports:

Ohio is one of two states losing a pair of seats in Congress as a result of the latest census figures that show it losing population to warm weather states.

Lorain's Rep. Betty Sutton and Cleveland's Dennis Kucinich, both Democrats, are among those being mentioned as potentially having their districts vanish when boundaries are redrawn in a process dominated by Republicans.

Ohio has 18 congressional districts that now will drop to 16.

Kucinich is show above with his third wife Elizabeth. They married in 2005.


Santa meets TSA screeners

Shoeless Santa Claus Larry Durian is taken to a private TSA room after passing through metal detectors at the Akron Canton Airport Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 in Green, Ohio. Santa planned to spend seven hours at the airport greeting passengers for their customer appreciation day. He emerged from the room a short time later.

Talk is cheap … from the Oval Office

One year ago - December 4, 2009:

Obama puts renewed focus on job creation (see first link below).

Eleven months ago - January 21, 2010:

Obama to focus hard on economy after the Democrats' stunning election defeat in Massachusetts (see second link below).


Obama pledges economic focus during next 2 years - after crushing defeat in November elections (see third link below).

Talk is indeed cheap.

When public relations aren't going well for the White House, there are renewed promises to fix the economy.

However, the economy is still in the tank and unemployment keeps rising.

Link here, here and here.

Story of the Nativity - digital age version

Limber up

Players jump for the ball during the first round match between Oman and Myanmar during the Beach Sepaktakraw event at Al-Musannah Sports City during day two of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 9, in Muscat, Oman.

Most annoying word is "whatever"

According to The Marist Poll, "whatever" tops the list of annoying words or phrases.

39 per cent of those polled were most irritated by the oft-used "whatever", while 28 per cent found the term "like" the most offensive.

The over used "you know what I mean?" was ranked third by 15 per cent of those polled, followed by 10 per cent who were most annoyed by the phrase "to tell you the truth".

I was asked if I agreed with the most annoying words and phrases. My response was, "whatever, to tell you the truth, if you know what I mean"… oops, sorry.


Dec 21, 2010

It was a ho-ho-holdup: Santa robs a RI yacht club

Police say a man dressed as Santa Claus has robbed a Rhode Island yacht club.

A bartender was alone in the East Providence Yacht Club Sunday night when a large man wearing a red suit, red hat, white beard and carrying a sack walked into the bar and brandished a gun.

The bartender fled and ran to a nearby business where she called 911.

By the time police arrived, the Santa bandit -- as well as an undetermined amount of cash from the register -- was missing.


Most voters think ObamaCare repeal likely

According to a Rasmussen survey most U.S. voters believe Republicans will make good on their efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

A telephone survey found that 52 percent of likely voters think it is “at least somewhat likely” the reform law will be repealed, while 33 percent believe it is unlikely.

The results include 16 percent who believe repeal is “very likely” and 5 percent who think it is “not at all likely.”

Voters increasingly believe that the law will be repealed, according to past survey results.

The number who think repeal is likely is up from 47 percent last month and up from 38 percent just weeks after President Obama signed reform into law.

ObamaCare was crammed down the throats of Republican congressmen.

Most of the bill was drafted behind closed doors by Democrats only. Then when Republicans objected they were called the "Party of No."

Look for Republicans to begin working to dismantle ObamaCare beginning in January.


Stolen hammer paid for decades after theft

A Pennsylvania tool-supply company received a check in the amount of $45 to pay for a hammer stolen decades ago.

The check was accompanied by an anonymous letter that said the writer stole a hammer 25 to 30 years ago. It reads, "Enclosed is $45 to cover the hammer plus a little extra for interest. I'm sorry I stole it, but have changed my ways."

The money is being donated to the Salvation Army.



Female ROTC cadets salute at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, South Korea.

Democrat roughshod ways in Senate may be over

From a report at the link below:

Emboldened by Democrats’ decision to scrap an omnibus funding bill and extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years, McConnell is ready to deploy his larger Republican minority next year, insisting that Democratic leaders will need to bend to his party’s will – particularly on spending issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a warning for Democrats seething over his shrewd political tactics: Get used to it.
"There’s much for them to be angst-ridden about," McConnell said with a chuckle. "If they think it' bad now, wait 'til next year."

One of the first things the new Republican dominated House will do is pick ObamaCare apart.

Anti-ObamaCare measures will soon come to the Senate. How vigorously will Senate Democrats protect ObamaCare when push comes to shove - especially those up for re-election in 2012?


Photo: penguins trailing behind Santa

Cape penguins wearing scarves walk with a trainer in a Santa Claus costume during a Christmas show at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama, Japan last year.

2010 census report may hamper an Obama 2012 bid

From an Associated Press report at the link below:

The 2010 census report coming out Tuesday will include a boatload of good political news for Republicans and grim data for Democrats hoping to re-elect President Barack Obama and rebound from last month's devastating elections.

The 2010 Census Bureau report will show a continuing shift from Democratic-leaning Rust Belt (manufacturing belt) states to Republican-leaning Sun Belt states.

The nation must reapportion the 435 House districts to make them roughly equal in population, based on the latest census figures.

The biggest gainer will be Texas, a GOP-dominated state expected to gain up to four new House seats, for a total of 36.

The chief losers — New York and Ohio, each projected by nongovernment analysts to lose two seats — were carried by Obama in 2008 and are typical of states in the Northeast and Midwest that are declining in political influence.

Democrats' problems don't end there.

The November lections put Republicans in control of dozens of state legislatures and governorships, just in time to influence how states redraw their congressional and legislative district maps.

As the report points out, this is often a brutally partisan process, and the Party in control will create new districts to their liking and now it will be Republicans in control in many more states.

The combination of population shifts and the recent election results could make Obama's re-election campaign more difficult.

Each House seat represents an electoral vote in the presidential election process, giving more weight to states Obama probably will lose in 2012.


Dec 20, 2010

Rappelling Santas in Australia

Santas rappel down the front of a Four Season's Hotel to launch the Sydney Santa Fun Run last year in Sydney, Australia.

Bush book 'Decision Points' is big seller

From a USA Today report at the link below:

These are turning out to be very happy holidays for George W. Bush.

Decision Points, the former president's memoir, is wrapping up the most sales of the 2010 gift-buying period, analysis of data from USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list shows.

"It's the best-selling title this holiday season," says Kathryn Popoff, Borders' vice president for merchandising and trade books.

"People, regardless of their political philosophies and persuasion, want to read about what our last president has to say."

At the cover price of $35.00 the book is a big hit.

In it George W. Bush describes key decisions, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis.


Wizbang photo caption contest winners

Kevin has posted his last two photo caption contest winners (see link below).

"President Obama bowed and apologized to bacteria today, blaming American pharmaceutical companies for the arrogant eradication of innocent diseases around the world."

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"The Vikings are all set to play in the "Inconvenient Truth Bowl," bringing global warming awareness to NFL fans across the nation."


Report from 2000: Snowfalls in Britain are a thing of the past

From a report dated March 20, 2000 (see link below):

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

The report says warmer winters, which scientists are attributing to global climate change are producing fewer white Christmases as well as fewer Januaries and Februaries.

The photo above was taken ten years later in 2010.

The report also quotes Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia:

"Within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event!"

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is."

It would be interesting to know what Dr. Viner has to say about how snow now has paralyzed Europe.


Britain hit with foot of snow and bitter cold temperatures

The photo above shows a London bus before most transportation services were halted by the weather.

The photo below shows a motorist removing snow from his car in Alnwick, England.

The snow and cold has caused travel chaos across Britain with temperatures as low as minus 20 Celsius (-4F).


Dec 19, 2010

Elephant Santa gives toys to children

An elephant dressed as Santa Claus passes out toys to children at a school in Thailand. This has been a five year tradition at the school where almost all the students are Buddhists.

Lugging an iPad

I'm intrigued by the iPad but before buying one I need to decide how best to lug it around.

A recent report in the New York Times says it's the "iPad dilemma" -- too big to slip into a pants pocket, too stiff to be curled up like a magazine and too precious to leave unprotected.

With its rigid tablet shape, Apple's iPad has raised an awkward consideration for many men: how to carry it in a manner that is practical and yet, well, masculine.

An iPad vest as pictured may be an option for some but not for me.

I tried on a pair of cargo pants and it took about three seconds to decide they weren't for me.

A briefcase is out. I carried one for years as an auditor and accountant and enough is enough.

A backpack is also out of the question. Never carried one and am not inclined to start now.

A shoulder sling looks too much like a purse and I'd rather not be pursued by someone with a contralto lisp asking me out to dinner.

And what if I get a Bluetooth keyboard to use with the iPad? That would just be something else to lug along.

Scott Stein of CNet, as reported here, has been searching for the perfect iPad/Netbook man-purse and has assigned a 'humiliation index' to each.

Granny and Clyde arrested after bank robbery

A 70-year-old Minnesota woman told her 26-year-old driver she was just making a bank withdrawal.

The withdrawal turned out to be a robbery when 70-year-old Sandra Bathke entered the Elysian State Bank and told a bank teller she wanted money and she had a gun.

Luke Weimer, the 26-year-old Good Samaritan driver, had no idea what his passenger meant when she said bank withdrawal.

A bank official was able to follow the suspect vehicle, leading authorities to stop the car.

Bathke was taken into custody for bank robbery and Weimer for an outstanding warrant.