Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reality is Overrated in the Ratings

Remember sitcoms from the early days of television? Shows like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best and even Leave it To Beaver. Kids on those shows were respectful and quiet, they got laughs by being kids. Today's TV kids get attention by being loud, and I mean LOUD. Watch any of the teen shows on Disney and tell me if you don't find yourself hitting the mute button out of a sense of self-preservation. TV teens are bitterly sarcastic and get laughs by making fun of the adults. They are wise-cracking stand-up comedians and their parents are the focus of much of their derisive humor. The moral of the story rarely teaches any universal code of ethics, it is usually about how to get by as a teenager.

Take Hannah Montana, the pop diva who wants to live a normal life and so hides her star status from her community while attending school under her real name and without her blonde wig. On the surface, that may sound admirable, a star who doesn't want to act like a star and wants to be normal. But maybe there's a subtle lesson in the deception she practices.

For the winner of a contest for Hannah Montana concert tickets is a six-year-old girl who won by making up a life that wasn't hers. Her winning essay states "My daddy died this year in Iraq." Definitely an opening line that is guaranteed to get the attention of the judges. The only problem? It isn't true.

The girl's mother said that they did whatever they had to do to win, while admitting that the story was an utter lie. She had previously told contest officials that the girl's father had died in Iraq as a result of a roadside bomb. It wasn't until the military said that no one by that name was listed as having been a casualty in Iraq that Priscilla Ceballos came clean.

Maybe it isn't the concept of the show that prompted the deception, and one can hardly blame the poor 6 year old girl whose exhilarating win is bound to be taken away from her. For one moment, she was a star, a winner and the luckiest girl in the country. A blink of an eye later, she is a liar and a cheater. Will she take a lesson from the experience? A lot depends on what her mother tells her. It seems unlikely that Ceballos will tell her daughter "cheaters never prosper". She is more likely to engender a sense of indignation that they got caught.

Personally, I can't stand Leave it to Beaver or the kids on most of those early sitcoms. They weren't real, they were too good and too polite. They spoke in quiet monotones, I can't for the life of me think why anyone thought that Jerry Mathers could act. But in a way, I think these shows were better for society than the shows kids watch today. Perhaps the families were too happy, the plots unrealistic, the solutions to problems too simplistic and easily come by, but shouldn't icons be better than reality? Portraying life realistically is the job of the news media. Entertainment is about illusion. With all the reality TV that abounds, the television industry seems to have forgotten that. Reality TV is an oxymoron, TV isn't supposed to be real. It's supposed to be better than real. Reality is a mom signing her kid's name to a falsified story just to win a contest.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

EarthFrisk - Social Network & Search Engine

Social networking sites are growing both in number and popularity but usually fill some specific niche or serve a particular demographic., a new social networking hub, may change all that as it combines the best of photo, video, blogging and search engine functions to create the first Meta Social Search Engine.

Members can get results from the top search engines, upload videos as well as create their own blogs and web pages. You can link to your other social networking pages such as Facebook, to your own sites, wherever on the web you like to go or any sites you want to share. The Search & Link Station lets you quickly narrow down your search sites for specific results. Members of the community can vote on New Frisks and popular Frisks will make it to the Hot Frisk list. See what others on the net have discovered and what is the Hot Frisk of the day. EarthFrisk.Org has even developed their own page ranking system and toolbars available for IE and Firefox. EarthFrisk appears to be a bold step towards a new way of experiencing the net and breaking out of the limits of existing social networking sites to put more power over deciding what's good on the net in the hands of users instead of in the established rankings systems that control it now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Woman Stabs Husband for Opening Christmas Present

Think Santa is only kidding with that tag that says "Don't Open Until Christmas"? Well, Santa might forgive you for being too curious, but a wife in Rock Springs, Wyoming was dead serious. In fact, when her husband tried to open his present early, she stabbed him with a kitchen knife.

Although it appears that it wasn't a serious wound, the husband might think twice about peeking from now on.

Monday, December 17, 2007

5th Grader Arrested for Cutting Up Her Lunch

School officials in Ocala, Florida, called police when a 5th grader began to cut up the steak she had brought for lunch. Police arrested the child and hauled her off to juvie. While no one suggests that she threatened anyone with the utensil, the school stated that its official policy required them to call police. Good thing, too. Today it's a piece of steak, soon the kid could be bringing in pot roast. The girl now faces a felony weapons charge for attempting to eat her lunch.

Okay, it's a zero tolerance policy. No kids allowed to have any sharp implements. But why stop there? Why not ban pencils and pencil sharpeners? A well-sharpened pencil has a pretty keen point. You could poke your eye out.

The point is not just that the overreaction to a 5th grader cutting up her steak has probably traumatized her for life, caused her to experience great fear and emotional damage, could seriously endanger her education and her future, it's that schools are regularly punishing, suspending and expelling students for such hardcore criminal activities as hugging one another. There is no sex fiend like a 4 year old who kisses a classmate, is there?

I am sure that school districts feel this is necessary to avoid violence and lawsuits - well, mostly lawsuits. That's why they they never admit that December 25th is Christmas, it's the winter holiday. But let's face it, all they manage to do is to taint the reputation of a young and innocent child who was simply behaving normally. It isn't the normal kids that shoot up schools. The real truth is that schools don't ever deal with the problem kids before it gets to the point of violence. Remember the stories from people who knew the Virginia Tech shooter and had even warned others that he was psychologically unstable? That's a hard problem to deal with, so it gets ignored until he kills 32 students.

So have a politically correct winter holiday of your own choosing and rest assured that the public school system is keeping the world safe from kitchen utensils, Christmas carols and children who show affection.

Ahmadinejad Blogs but Restricts Internet

Iranian police shut down 24 internet cafes in another move to keep the society "morally pure". Already, access to many websites that the state deems unislamic has been blocked. In this latest move, officials are targeting places where young people hang out - coffee shops and internet cafes. Internet cafes are often used by young men and women to socialize, since they are banned from being in the company of unrelated members of the opposite sex before marriage.

Twenty-three people were detained but no information was given on the reasons. In addition to instant messaging, they probably included wild, western hairstyles and the wearing of coats and jackets that are too short.

Interestingly, while restricting internet access for his citizens,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his own blog. It's a bit dry and perhaps that is his reason for wanting to control the internet - he doesn't like the competition.

The most interesting thing on Ahmadinejad's blog are the comments, which range from sycophantic admiration to downright hatred with a couple of stops at stupidity on the way. For instance, when a commenter named "John" tells the president that he is "retarted" the impact of his feelings is somewhat blunted by his spelling.

A commenter from Mexico, who first states his complete lack of faith in anything said by his government, the US government or the government of any allied nation (nor Mickey Mouse, for that matter), nevertheless is convinced of Ahmadinejad's pure motives in pursuing nuclear technology. However, he does try to instruct the Iranian president on environmental issues:

However, Mr. President, I dont agree completely with your nuclear program; I believe you wont build an atomic bomb, but nuclear energy is too dangerous, and it pollutes a lot, maybe you should consider other resources...

I am sure he'll get right on that Salvador, just as soon as he rids Iran of decadent hair styles.

Life Size Video Conferencing

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peterson Case A Police Failure

Despite the fact that Fox News still includes the address to Drew Peterson's website in every story regarding him, the site is still gone and unlikely to return. disappeared a scant 24 hours after having been established to raise money for Peterson's defense and, according to Peterson, find his missing wife. Now that information has emerged that Peterson funneled 250 thousand dollars from his own bank accounts into his son's account after his wife disappeared. So much for needing money. Speculation is that Peterson is trying to protect his assets against a wrongful death lawsuit.

The entire saga is an unending series of unbelievable stories, from the third Mrs. Peterson who accidentally drowned in an empty bathtub to Peterson's story about giving fourth wife, Stacy, a gun for a present to explain the gunshot hole in the garage, a shot Stacey told someone that Peterson had fired. Stacey Peterson was afraid of him, that much is clear from what she told friends. Peterson insists she was having an affair and left him for another man.

What isn't clear is how a coroner came to the conclusion of "accidental death" in Kathleen Savio's death or how police allowed that to be the end of their investigation, having been called numerous times to the home on domestic disturbances. Had someone investigated his third wife's death more thoroughly, perhaps this story would not be in the news right now.

Maybe the next investigation should be into the complete failure of police and the coroner's department.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 - Video Social Networking

Are you a dead ringer for The King? When you sing "Heartbreak Hotel" do girls swoon? Whether you do a great Elvis, belt them out like Aretha or simply love to sing, you'll be glad you checked out this new and very cool video social networking site. It's called and it's a great place for the star in you to shine for all to see.

It's simple to join. Once you're a member you can upload videos of you doing your musical thing. Other members vote on your video and you can win some pretty sweet prizes: celebrity autographs and signed merchandise, iPods, camcorders, Skype/Voip phones, a host of other cool gadgets and cash prizes up to $10,000. Oh, and membership is completely free.

It's simple to record and upload your video where it will be available for others to view. You can share your video on your own website, your myspace or Facebook. Other members who like your video can even embed it on their own sites. Tell your friends and family members to join and vote for your video, too. You could become a star, at least on the web.

There's another good reason to encourage your friends to join. They have a three-tiered program that pays you on referrals to and even pays you on referrals from your referrals. Tell all your friends, family, co-workers and the guy next to you in line at Starbucks to join and Make FAST & EASY money with this free opportunity.

Court Upholds Net Anonymity

An appeals court in Texas today upheld the right of bloggers to blog anonymously. The court ruled that although anonymity on the Internet can be abused, that bloggers on the Internet are entitled to free speech unless real evidence exists of wrongdoing.

If bloggers and others who write on the Internet were constantly under threat of litigation it would seriously curtail the right to free speech. The Internet has its abuses and dangers, but it has made it possible for news and information to get out that might never have been seen if not for anonymous bloggers, especially those under authoritarian rule and governments that restrict civil rights and commit human rights violations against their own citizens. Much of the information we got about the recent conflicts in Myanmar came through anonymous bloggers - until the government shut down access to the Internet outside of the country.

The decision by Justice Jack Carter of the Sixth Appellate District at Texarkana is one of the most important rulings ever made regarding free speech. The freedom to express opinions and report on the net must be protected. Otherwise, the Internet ceases to be the exciting, informative, interactive medium that it has become.

Read more at Public Citizen

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Peterson's Attorney Says Website Down

Drew Peterson's attorney announced that they have closed his defense fund website as it had already achieved its short-term goals. They must have been short term, the site had only gone up on Tuesday.

What is more likely is that the traffic to the website was heavily anti-Peterson and inflammatory. The website announced:

"For the cost of a few cups of your morning coffee, you can help to ensure that Drew can afford to support his ongoing legal defense, find his missing wife and divert any remaining funds into a trust for his children

It probably will take money to find his missing wife, but the speculation is that he already knows where she is and the money spent to find her will be money spent by the state on a recovery team.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Drew Peterson's Website Disappears

Earlier today it was announced that Drew Peterson, the former cop who is a suspect in his third wife's death and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, had set up a website to collect donations for his defense.

Peterson stated that the funds collected would be used to hire a private investigator to find Stacey (I hear OJ is still looking for Nicole's killer) and to provide for his four children. Peterson has repeatedly claimed that Stacey left him for another man and said "she's where she wants to be".

But just a few hours after the media carried the story of Peterson's defense fund website, the site is gone and the account suspended by Host Monster. No reason is given.

Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in an empty bathtub, her body showed signs of bruising. The death was inexplicably ruled an accidental drowning, although the tub contained no water. Since the disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacey, the Savio case has been re-examined.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ultimate Paintball

Paintball is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in America. Although opponents cite the military-style strategics and possible injuries as reasons for disliking paintball, the truth is that it is less violent than many video games and one of the safest sports there is - causing fewer injuries than tennis. It can be played indoors but it started as an outdoor sport and for some guys that's one of paintball's best attributes. The game requires intelligence, speed, strategic planning and skill.

The game also requires certain equipment for safety and enjoyable play. If you are an avid paintball player or just know one, you know how important it is to get the right equipment. To protect the most vulnerable spots of the body, players need to wear an approved paintball mask that covers the eyes and ears. Because the masks protect these areas, there are many fewer eye injuries in paintball than in other sports.

Players are eliminated from the game when they are hit with a paintball fired by an opposing player. There are various makes of paintball guns, all having to meet strict standards.

If you already love paintball or if you are thinking of trying it, then a great place to find paintball supplies and gear is Ultimate Paintball. They carry the top brands like Spyder, Tippmann, DYE, Draxxus, Empire, JT USA, Smart Parts, Ariakon, Halo, and GXG. They even have a starter kit with everything you need and live support online to help you out. So whether you're a veteran paintballer or a noob, you can outfit yourself with the best gear at Ultimate Paintball.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why Teddy Bears are Dangerous

It appears now that the British teacher who faced imprisonation and possible corporal punishment in Sudan, will be released sometime this weekend, although she will be deported. She has already been moved to a secret location for her safety, as angry crowds take to the street, chanting and calling for her death.

Gillian Gibbons was accused of insulting the religion of Islam by naming a Teddy bear Mohammed. Despite the fact that none of the students nor their parents were concerned or complained, charges were brought that could have earned her 40 lashes. Instead she was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

The Teddy bear was a project for the class. They were to take the bear home, chronicle what they did with the bear and how they cared for it. One little boy spoke up for his teacher, explaining that she meant no harm and that he had suggested the name Mohamed because it was his own name.

Millions of parents name their sons Mohammed after the prophet of Islam and it is considered respectful to do so. Why is it considered so heinous a crime to have allowed the children to call the stuffed toy by a name so familiar to them?

Well, perhaps sentiment runs so high because a Teddy bear is so symbolic of western society. The Teddy bear is named after a famous American president, Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was an early advocate of women's rights, something that is anathema to Islamic teaching. Consider also, this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

"...the victories of Moslem over Christian have always proved a curse in the end. "

Although Roosevelt is known to have staunchly supported the doctrine of "manifest destiny" in believing that the European settlers had every right to take the land from the Native Americans, his views on race relations were much more progressive than many of his time. He supported the desegregation of schools in New York and did not consider race to be as important as qualifications when appointing people to positions. When objections were raised after he appointed an African-American, Dr. William D. Crum, to the position of Collector of the Port of Charleston, answered critics by stating "I cannot consent to take the position that the doorway of hope - the door of opportunity - is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my contentions, be fundamentally wrong."

Perhaps it is more anti-western sentiment that causes this outrage from the Sudanese against a gentle woman whose only crime was kindness to their children and innovative teaching methods. Perhaps the assignment to care for the Teddy bear is at the heart of it. Could it be that the anger stems from teaching children to nurture anything other than a grudge?

Let's hope and pray that more teachers like Gillian Gibbons touch the hearts of children everywhere in the world, teaching kindness and charity towards others. For it is the children who will one day decide the fate of the world. Let's pray that they may be taught the truth, that our true enemies are tyranny, hatred and injustice.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mugshot Art

The New York Public Library has a new exhibit that it's quite proud of. The exhibit is a series of fake mug shots of President Bush, VP Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld. Each holds a placard that says "Washington, DC Police" and the date that each made what are termed "incriminating statements" about the war in Iraq. The exhibit is entitled "Line Up" by artists(?) Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese.

Let's put aside the fact that the New York Library is a public institution and that the Library's disclaimer that the exhibit doesn't represent any political statement is laughable (members of the Bush administration portrayed as criminals is not a political statment?), but let's get down the important point: This is art?

Excuse me for being unsophisticated about modern art, but since when does photoshopping a picture make you an artist?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Depp and Burton Team Again for Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp is a brilliant actor no matter what part he is playing, but something magical happens when he is teamed with director Tim Burton.

The first Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie I ever saw was Edward Scissorhands. It's a wonderful film, and just the type of story that Tim Burton's dark vision is perfect for. Johnny Depp is Edward, a sort of modern-day Frankenstein's monster who has been created by a recluse inventor (played by the late Vincent Price). The inventor unfortunately dies before he can complete his creation and so Edward is left with knives and scissor blades instead of hands. It's a sad and touching story of a man whose outward appearance keeps people from seeing his gentle heart.

Depp's character in another Tim Burton film, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is in some ways about as far from Edward as you can get, yet there are similarities. Willie Wonka has also lived in isolation, keeping to his factory just as Edward was confined to the inventor's old mansion. Willie Wonka has a quirky personality, and often it is hard to tell whether he is being sinister or is just completely innocent of the effect of his words. I love his expression and his delivery when he tells the children in the chocolate room that "Everything in this room is eatable, even I am eatable. But that is called cannibalism, my dear children and is in fact, frowned upon in most societies". That's probably my favorite moment in the film.

And interestingly, cannibalism figures into Depp's current teaming with Burton on Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Although it seemed a most unlikely tale for a Broadway musical, it was nevertheless a spectacular success with a score by Stephen Sondheim. In case you don't know the story, Sweeney Todd is a barber who out of a pathological need for revenge commits serial murders with his straight razor. Mrs. Lovett (played by the still-lovely Helena Bonham-Carter) is his partner in crime who disposes of the bodies by baking them into meat pies. I have already been to visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site. It will be interesting to see what Johnny Depp does with this character, but he's a versatile actor who, so far, has yet to disappoint.

To check out some video and more info you can visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flogging for Saudi Rape Victim

The case of the young Saudi woman, just 19 years old, who has been sentenced to be flogged, brings up just some of the stark differences in the Saudi legal system and the legal system we so often sneer at here in the West. Too often, we feel that the criminal gets far too many rights and the victims too few.

In this case, the girl was the victim of a gang rape by seven men. She was with a friend, who happens to be male. She was alone with him in his car. For the crime of being alone with a male who is not a relative, she received a sentence of 90 lashes. When her lawyer appealed the sentence, it was increased to 200 lashes. Her lawyer was removed from the case and his license revoked. The judge chastised both the girl and her lawyer for bringing media attention to the case. If it is a just ruling, why must no one know about it?

Left without representation, and with a stiffer sentence, it is being said now that she has confessed to adulterous intentions in meeting with the male friend. There is no one to speak up for her and confirm or deny the truth of this. The male friend's sentence has remained at 90 lashes - he is unlikely to appeal it for fear of being punished more severely.

The seven men who were convicted of her rape also sexually assaulted the male friend, according to reports. What I find interesting is that under Saudi law, homosexual acts can be punishable by execution. However, in this case, the focus seems to be more on the crime of the girl from Qatif than on the actions of the rapists. The seven men originally received sentences of 10 months to five years in prison. Possibly due to the worldwide attention this case has garnered, their sentences were increased too. They now face two to nine years in prison. I say can be punishable by execution, but the judge holds full discretion as to what and how much punishment is meted out.

In the US we pound our fists and fret over the miscarriage of justice whenever a criminal is freed on a legal technicality or gains parole sooner than seems fitting considering the crime. But this is part of what makes the system just a little bit safer for all. The accused are provided with legal representation freely if they can't afford it. The convicted file endless appeals that jam the system and crowd the docket. There are overturned verdicts and commuted sentences. But as wrong as it is when criminals are set free or lightly punished, how much faith could we have in the system if any appeal was likely to be answered with a harsher sentence?

Because we are free to do so, we look at our society, our government and our legal system and point out flaws and needed improvements. We point out mistakes, we speak out against injustices. It's important in all this to remember, that it is just this ability to publicly name and try to correct what we perceive as being wrong with our society is exactly what is right about it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Defending Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, so designated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It's traditionally a day when American families gather together to give thanks for all that they have. Thanksgiving embodies the spirit of peace, cooperation and gratitude. Well, it used to anyway.

The first Thanksgiving, in 1621, was truly a heartfelt affair. When the Pilgrims first arrived, the natives eyed them suspiciously. For all they knew, these people may be slave traders. By the end of that first winter, nearly half of the 102 pilgrims who had made the trip were dead. It was then that Squanto and the Wampanoag Indians stepped in to help the ragged and weary pilgrims by teaching them about the land and what to eat and grow.

The bountiful harvest that year was a time of great thanksgiving, and the surviving remnant of the Mayflower's passengers were sincerely grateful. The harvest meant they would live through the harsh winter.

Nowadays, history is rewritten daily according to the current political atmosphere. In these days of self-flagellation over our politically incorrect ancestors, we are told that the Pilgrims were already trying at this early stage to rob the natives of their land and the whole Thanksgiving feast was a cover.

In Seattle, a school district sent out a letter to employees debunking Thanksgiving "myths", explaining that it was really a time of mourning for Native Americans. The list includes the assertion that the settlers were not seeking religious freedom at all, they were just dissidents and "rigid fundamentalists". Further the letter asserts that the puritans had determined before they set out to steal the land from the native inhabitants.

One of the contentions is that the Pilgrims never invited the Natives to the feast. Indeed, Massasoit showed up uninvited with 90 men. He was there because the Indians thought the settlers were gathering for war. When they discovered it was a party, they went out and killed five deer and brought them back as a contribution. The myth-busters say that they had to do this, because the settlers didn't have enough food. Of course not, 91 unexpected guests had just shown up. It was only polite that they bring their own food.

That's actually a very nice dispelling of a myth, the fact that although the Indians were suspicious of these Europeans, they discovered that they were not planning to wage war as they feared, they were simply giving thanks and throwing a party to celebrate their harvest and their survival.

What is it then, that makes Thanksgiving so odious to liberals? Simply, that the Pilgrims (puritans, separatists, whatever) were giving thanks to God. The act of giving requires a recipient, and these people were thanking their God for their safety, their lives and the food that would insure their survival.

This early feast was simply a celebration. It was not a time to plan for ultimate takeover, and the events to come were not even suspected at that time. There were only about 50 of them left after that first winter, they were only just learning the skills necessary to live in this new land. How likely is it that they were already plotting complete conquest? They were simply happy to be alive.

Thanksgiving should be celebrated exactly in the manner of this early feast. A time when people reflect on the difficulties they have overcome, take respite from their daily struggles, celebrate their lives and those of their family and friends and give thanks for all they have, instead of wallowing in discontent over what they are lacking.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. Here's hoping that you and yours are celebrating a time of good health and happiness.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

San Fran Plans No Man's ID card

In their first brash acts of freedom, youth in the sixties shrugged off stereotypes and convention regarding hair styles and fashion. The older generation found the whole thing a bit confusing, and eventually became stereotyped themselves by their most-asked question: "is that a boy or a girl?". But nowadays, a woman in slacks or a man with a ponytail doesn't faze us a bit. We've all become liberal thinkers. But are we liberated enough to dispense with gender altogether?

According to this article, the city of San Francisco thinks its ready. Starting next year, municipal ID cards will not specify gender. Applicants for the ID card will still need to know when they were born and their names, but not their gender. This will make it easier on people who haven't discovered their gender, are ashamed of their gender, are likely to change their gender or still haven't quite decided on a gender. The ID cards will still carry photos, so it is always possible that anyone looking at the ID may assign you a gender based on your picture. There is no legal recourse in place yet to punish people who may mentally assign you a gender based on their antiquated and politically incorrect perceptions of gender and its importance. Perhaps they can cover that with state-mandated diversity training for people classified as "old-fashioned".

But check this out:

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who introduced the measure, says illegal immigrants will benefit most. They will be able to open bank accounts and use the card for city services such as checking out library books.

Does it make you a little more uneasy about illegal immigrants to know that we expect an influx of them who aren't sure if they are a boy or a girl?

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's unusual to find a Hollywood celeb espousing a conservative viewpoint. But as this article in The Washington Times points out, it may be that it's a little like career suicide for a celebrity to voice anything but the standard liberal line.

Consider this:

One high-profile celebrity, when asked about her political views, even had her lawyers declare "our client's rights of privacy and other legally protectable intangible rights" and warn that she should not be labeled a Republican.

Left-leaning Hollywood has long been vocal about their political views, Barbra Streisand had a dedicated fax line to Congress as she poked and prodded legislators with her instructions for how they should vote. But apparently, to be labeled "Republican" is deadly in Hollywood, worse than being a wife-beater, a drunkard and a puppy strangler all rolled into one.

The whole attitude smacks of McCarthyism but the pendulum has swung completely to the opposite side. Communism in Hollywood would be okay, as is almost any form of extremism, radicalism, activism, belief in UFOs, and probably even believing you are a UFO. There's really only one great sin in Hollywood. Not being a kook. That'll get you booted right out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Hillary Runs Things

First you deny. Then, if confronted with the facts, you skew them and say that it didn't happen that way, it was some other way. Finally, if you must, you admit that it happened but it never happened before and it won't happen again. Then when it happens again, you deny.

That's the basic game plan in the Hillary Clinton campaign. First there was the waitress at the Maid-Rite in Toledo,Ohio who served Clinton and staff at the lunch counter, but didn't get a tip. The response from the campaign was initially that they left a $100 tip on the credit card, but the receipt showed none. Then they said that it may have been left in cash, however, the cash was not seen by any restaurant staff. After a campaign staffer argued with the waitress, Anita Esterday, on the phone and insisted a tip was left, another campaign staffer was sent to bring her $20 cash. That's not even 20% of their $157 tab - heck, that's not even 15%. Worse yet, the staffer who contacted Ms. Esterday tried to convince her that other restaurant workers must have pocketed the money, thus attempting to take friends who have worked together for years pit them against one another.

On Tuesday Clinton spoke at Grinnell College in Iowa where student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff reported that she was given a prepared question by a Clinton aide who requested that she ask the question. The student stated that Clinton was directed by aides to call on her during the question and answer period. Initially denied by the Clinton campaign, the story was later acknowledged as true with a promise that it was not standard policy and wouldn't happen again.

And then, it happened again. This time it was Geoffrey Mitchell who was spoken to by a campaign staffer and it was suggested he ask a specific question about funding for the war in Iraq. Mr. Mitchell declined to ask the question, stating he had one of his own he would rather have answered. Clinton spokesman Mo Elliethee told Fox News that indeed, Clinton aide Chris Hayler had spoken to Geoffrey Mitchell but that was because they knew each other and had a previous relationship but there was no attempt to plant a question.

When contacted by Fox, Geoffrey Mitchell said that he knew Hayler by name only from Sen. Bayh's campaign, but had never met him before.

Your turn, Hillary.

Friday, November 09, 2007

You Have The Right to Be Popular

In 20 states it is legal to discriminate against smokers. That is, regardless of whether they abstain from smoking in the workplace or while on work hours, if they light up at home or in their car, or at a party, you can fire them. One Florida company recently made the news for its policy against smokers.

Westgate Resorts' president and CEO, David Siegel, told Local 6 News "When I found out it was legal to discriminate against smokers, I put the policy in place".

But it doesn't stop there, Siegel added that if he found out it was legal to discriminate against obesity, he wouldn't hire fat people either or he would fire them for gaining weight. This on the heels of a study that says that overweight people tend to live longer than normal weight or underweight people.

The issue at stake, in case nobody has noticed, is civil rights. This is America and citizens engaging in legal behavior on their own time is no business of an employer unless it represents a conflict of interest - like doing consultations for a competitor. Smoking may be unhealthy, it may be unpopular, but as long as cigarettes may be legally sold and purchased by adults, then aside from invoking laws against smoking in the workplace, no company should have the right to dictate what an employee does in their time away from work.

The comments on this story run heavily against Mr. Siegel's policy and many of the comments are from non-smokers who are able to grasp the bigger issue, which is personal freedom under attack.

Watch the Local 6 video on the site. It shows Siegel's employees having furtive cigarette breaks away from the building, but of note is that a few of these employees, including Siegel himself, might also be in danger if he could fire people for being overweight.

As an applicant to the company who was rejected for being a smoker pointed out, it's about your rights too. Today it is smoking, what will it be tomorrow?

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.

anti-Nazi poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Live Long and Fat

There's an article in the New York Times about a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Briefly put, overweight people live longer than normal weight and underweight people.

They use data from 2004 to show that 100,000 fewer deaths occurred among overweight people than would have occurred if they were of normal weight. Of course, their definition of overweight is based on the government's standard of BMI, or body mass index. BMI can be a flawed measure because it doesn't take into account the amount of weight that is muscle mass so that Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, would have a BMI in the overweight range.

BMI in the 25 to 30 range is considered "overweight" but may be optimal for longevity

However, the research clearly indicates that fewer overweight people die from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even certain types of cancer. The leading cause of death for overweight people is heart disease, as might be expected. Still, they are living longer.

I found this quote from Dr. JoAnn Manson of Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, to be very interesting. According to Dr. Manson, "Health extends far beyond mortality rates".

I know the point she is making is that fat people are miserable, non-joggers who don't walk fast or look good and so in today's society, their "quality of life" is considered sub-standard. But where is "quality" when it comes to a human being? In the body or the mind? If a vegetarian marathon runner whose BMI is optimal and whose toned and sleek body is the envy of athletes everywhere develops Alzheimer's and slips into the dark world of dementia, is his quality of life better than someone who doesn't exercise but has all his faculties?

I know there is a case to be made for living well until you die rather than languishing on a sick bed for years in a care facility, but there is still little sense to be made of the "health extends far beyond mortality rates" quote. I don't care how you slice it, the living person of whatever weight or activity level is still healthier than the dead person next to him.

One point may be that the BMI the government considers overweight is set too low, but more importantly, society makes thinness too high a priority. Previous studies have shown that especially in older adults, a little extra weight is protective against illness. Still we can't help admiring thin people so much we are literally dying to be one of them.

No one should set being fat as a goal in life, assuming they will live longer, but maybe society needs to get the focus off stick-thin bodies and onto important things.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Look in the Sky, It's a Bird, It's a Plane - It's a Cow?

If you're driving along a winding road and you see this road sign, your first response might be hysterical laughter but the sign does warn of a known (however, rare) road hazard. Yes, a cow did just recently topple off a cliff in Manson, Washington and crashed into a traveling vehicle, narrowly missing the occupants.

The late cow fell 200 feet off the cliff and landed on the hood of Charles and Linda Everson's minivan. The couple escaped serious injury. The same could not be said for the cow. See the AP story and photo here.

A man walking along the street in Japan was not as lucky as the Eversons. A woman who committed suicide by jumping off a department store roof (they didn't have her size?) landed on the hapless pedestrian, sending him to the hospital with critical injuries. The police determined that the jump was intended as a suicide since the woman had first removed her shoes. Removing one's shoes is a common tradition before suicide in Japan. Thank goodness. A woman landing on you from several stories up is bad enough, but a high heel coming at you from that height would be deadly.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Trick or Treat

Women are known to love chocolate, some are even addicted to its dark sweetness, its ability to elevate mood and delight the senses. But a couple of women in Alaska went a bit far to satisfy their chocolate cravings on Halloween which led to a bit of craven behavior.

According to this story, two women wearing ski masks hopped out of a truck and robbed a group of 10 and 11-year-old trick or treaters at gunpoint. They fired a shot into the air and threatened the kids, then took six bags of candy and an iPhone. Police have taken one 20-year-old suspect, Amber Martin, into custody.

It's hard to figure out just where to start. If you're a 20-year-old woman and you think bullying little kids is cool, then you have some emotional development issues. If you're 20 and you need a gun to bully little kids, you are pretty pathetic. If you go out on the one night that every house has a bucket of candy that's free for the taking and you rob little kids at gunpoint to get a bag of treats, you're just stupid.

Remember the good old days when all we worried about on Halloween were sick, twisted individuals who would put razor blades in apples and stick needles in candy bars?

Friday, November 02, 2007

More Bathroom Crime

A bathroom sex sting in Daytona Beach Florida nabbed mayoral candidate Mike Shallow and high school teacher David Behringer as well as some assorted known sex offenders. Police who conducted the sting say they received a tip that lewd conduct was going on in a second floor bathroom at Sears in the Volusia Mall.

All nine men arrested were charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and exposure of a sexual organ.

"Most everything that's occurring is nonverbal," said Sgt. Jeff Hoffman, supervisor of the criminal suppression team.

Offenders coughed or sneezed, tapped their feet, sometimes under the stall beside them, or made loud zipper noises to attract attention from others interested in engaging in sexual acts, Hoffman said.

Police did not say however, that any of the men were charged with coughing, sneezing, tapping their feet or zippering their pants.

Strange that they actually waited for them to expose a sexual organ before calling it lewd and lascivious behavior, something that police in Minneapolis didn't do before arresting Senator Larry Craig.

Which brings us back to what evidence there must be of a crime before someone is led away by a police officer. At least in Daytona Beach, they wait until everything is umm... out in the open shall we say?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Office Worker Shoots Self in Legs

Corporate America is a dangerous place to work. You can stifle nearly any spirit within a cubicle's three walls, grind it down with daily routine. Days, weeks, years settle on your shoulders and accumulate there like the dust that covers your desk. Nothing exciting ever happens.

Well, usually nothing exciting happens but that all changed for the co-workers of one man in an insurance office in Fort Worth. Their day got injected with a little startle factor when a 47-year-old office worker shot himself in both legs while sitting at his desk.

The man draped his coat over the back of his chair when he arrived at work. When he sat down in the chair, the .45 caliber gun that was in his coat's pocket discharged, sending a bullet through both legs, through a bookshelf and into the wall of a female co-worker's cubicle.

The man may be charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a license, and could also get a bad performance review at work this year. His employer has a strict company policy about carrying weapons to work. Seems like a sound policy given the possible dangers in this unforeseen event.

On the other hand, at least no one was sleeping at their desks that morning.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Train of the Living Zombie

Halloween is a very dangerous holiday, fraught with more hidden risks than you might think. But most people don't expect to declared dead.

A German man found out that his Halloween costume was a little too convincing. Having partied with friends, the man fell into a drunken sleep on the train home during which time, fellow passengers assumed the unresponsive man was deceased.

It may have also had something to do with his costume. Dressed as a zombie, the 24-year-old had fake blood smeared on his hands and face. Other passengers on the train thought that he had been a victim of a murder and called police.

A first aid team called to the scene were thankfully able to determine that the man was still alive, therefore averting an unnecessary trip to the morgue.

Police instructed the man to remove his gory makeup, after which he was allowed to continue his journey and the passengers were assured he was not a real zombie.

However, should you encounter a real zombie, remember these important points:

1. Zombies are usually already dead, so you can't "kill" them.
2. If your best friend becomes a zombie, it won't do you any good to yell "Craig, man, remember all the good times man, don't kill me man!" because zombies have had a brain wipe and they don't remember people from their former life.
3. Zombies are emotionless, so don't bother telling them that if they kill you, your fish won't get fed and your mom will cry.
4. Zombies don't have libidos so don't think your lacy baby doll jammies are going to distract them long enough for you to get away.
5. To disable a zombie, you must destroy his brain completely. Cutting off the head is recommended. You will need a very sharp tool for this task. Your zombie emergency kit should always contain a machete or a chainsaw.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Aliens Blow Up Italian Toasters

For years in the little village of Canneto Di Caronia in Sicily, homeowners have complained of mysterious and spontaneous explosions in everyday appliances, from toasters to refrigerators. Even mobile phones and stoves have gone up in flames.

The townspeople were convinced that forces of the supernatural were at work. The Vatican's chief exorcist said the problem was demonic pranking.

Because the problem was clearly not just one or two isolated incidents, the Italian government assigned dozens of scientists, military experts and engineers to determine the cause of these spontaneous ignitions. They sank $2m into a two-year investigation to solve the mystery.

...Italian officials say aliens are testing secret weapons...

The Italian media have reported that the results of the report have been leaked to them and the mystery has been solved. According to the head of the Civil Protection Department, the problem isn't demons or ghosts at all. It's aliens testing secret weapons.

Of course, why didn't I think of that? That's so much more reasonable than testing for power surges or other sources of electromagnetic energy. I now know why my toast has been getting slightly scorched and my coffee pot just mysteriously gave up the ghost one day. My house has probably been targeted for destruction when aliens attack. Tom Cruise was right after all, Xeno is coming.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rash of Nude Sleepwalkers in British Hotels

Employees at the Travelodge chain of hotels across Britain will be receiving some specialized training in dealing with an unusual type of problem customer: the nude sleepwalker.

Travelodge employees report 400 instances of nude sleepwalking in just the last year alone. The hotel chain's research discovered instances in 310 hotels and these somnambulant travelers can show up in all areas of the hotel, including the front lobby where they often ask for a newspaper or try to check out. The advice to hotel workers is to keep a handy supply of towels at the reception area, to protect the dignity of the guest.

The Somnambulist by Sir John Everett Millais

According to Chris Idzikowski, an expert at the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, sleepwalking occurs during the first one to two hours of sleep as the brain shifts into deep sleep mode.

"Part of the brain switches into autopilot and can manage well-learned movements such as walking, bending or sitting."

Just not getting dressed, apparently.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

OJ Cohorts Give Him Up in Plea Deals

Just as I predicted early on, OJ Simpson's co-defendants in the Las Vegas robbery, have copped a plea and will testify against OJ in exchange for a lighter sentence and possibly no prison time. In addition, the district attorney will drop the more serious charges against them, those of attempted murder and kidnapping.

Both Charles Cashmore and William Alexander will testify that OJ knew that guns were being used and that he in fact, requested that the men bring the firearms to the room. OJ's attempts to claim he didn't know what was going to go down will fail, as will his argument that the items he took were his in the first place. You simply can't get away with bursting into a hotel room and taking items at gunpoint, even if you think they belong to you.

One would like to hope that when OJ finally does go to prison, that Fred Goldman would be able to find peace and try to go on with life, instead of obsessively pursuing justice against OJ for the murder of Ron Goldman. Instead, it will probably turn into a scenario where an elderly Fred Goldman shows up to protest at any parole hearing for an equally elderly OJ Simpson and so the saga continues.

Hey, maybe OJ can write another book from prison: "If I Really Meant To Rob Someone" or something similar and then Fred can go to court to get the rights to that book too.

The robbery only seems to make clear what we already know about OJ. He is a loose cannon. He acts out of what he believes is righteous indignation, therefore he is always going to believe he was justified in his actions. He doesn't mind threatening people nor deadly weapons being used in his pursuit of justice. He smiles and jokes and still doesn't understand what the fuss is all about.

Another good reason why it's better if he is behind bars once and for all

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More News-sense

Rollo was feeling lazy today. I didn't even want to bother to read the stories accompanying the sensational headlines in the news. Then I realized it's more fun if you don't actually read the stories. So here are a few of my favorite headlines of the day culled from news sites all over the net.

NASA Finds Ice on Shuttle Plumbing
Ooh, that toilet seat's bound to be chilly

Man, 24, loses 82-year-old wife
At her age, how far could she wander? Maybe he isn't really looking very hard. 82? Ewww...

Obama Hits Hillary in Postcards
Didn't his mother teach him not to hit girls?

Teenager Hospitalized after Panda Attack at Chinese Zoo
He should know better than to attack a panda, even if the bear is a dirty communist. Those things are huge...

World Series Ticket Sales Suspended After 'Malicious Attack' Crashes Computers
Are there any computer attacks that are not malicious, I mean why even bother to use the word "malicious"? Is someone out there sending beneficent viruses that improve the functionality of your PC? Do people ever hack into a system to fine-tune it so it will run better as an act of goodwill?

But my favorite headline and story of the day:

Wild Elephants Get Drunk - Die on Power Lines
40 wild Asiatic elephants tromp into town and bust into the village's version of a liquor cabinet, drinking the rice wine that farmers ferment themselves and keep in plastic and tin drums in their huts. Six of the elephants let the partying get out of hand, uprooting and carrying off a utility pole until they were electrocuted by the power lines. It's like a story about gang looting or the old west, rampaging elephants who booze it up and cause mayhem.

Yeah, okay, I read that one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Litter-ally Speaking - Hillary and Socks the Cat

The political pundits have raised the specter of Sock the Cat, a potential political cat-astrophe for Hillary Clinton. Socks was the official White House cat during the Clinton administration, a stray kitten of just two months when he was adopted by the Clintons at the insistence of Chelsea, who fell in love with the furry creature on first sight.

Socks became a major focus for children throughout America. Hillary even wrote a book "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets", published in November 1998. Of course, that was before the First Lady gave the cat away to former secretary Betty Curie when the Clintons left the White House.

And it's this cavalier way of dealing with an inconvenient pet that could convince voters that Hillary's emotional side isn't all it's cracked up to be. Often viewed as cold and calculating, Socks gave her a perceived warmth and humanity. Hillary said of Socks that his arrival finally made the White House feel like a "home".

Socks the Cat was a much-liked and admired White House pet, and there weren't many cats who could claim that distinction, presidents usually displaying a preference for dogs. It was the problem of keeping both the dog and the cat that Hillary cited as one reason for having to find a new home for Socks, the kitten so beloved by daughter Chelsea, in favor of keeping Buddy, the chocolate lab that Bill Clinton said slept with him for 16 months (presumably, he needed some warm body on chilly nights).

Buddy the dog fared much worse, however. He was hit by a car and killed not long after the Clintons took up residence in their new home in New York.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Viagra Side Effect is Silent

The FDA will now require warning labels on Cialis, Levitra and Viagra stating that they may cause hearing loss. All three drugs are for treating erectile dysfunction.

Am I the only one who thinks the warning labels will have men lining up for these drugs? I mean, not only do they guarantee a successful night of love-making, they may succeed in doing something even more important for the average hen-pecked middle-aged husband.

What's more, the hearing loss though sudden, seems to be temporary. Okay guys, you know what I am saying. In the afterglow, when you want to fall asleep, you can. No noise. No sound of her voice endlessly in your ear. She wants to talk, let her. Smile and nod if you see her lips moving. Later, when it's more convenient, your hearing will return.

The new labeling will explain the risk and what to do if you experience sudden hearing loss. What to do? Roll over and get a good night's sleep for a change!

Some of Clinton's Campaign Contributions Untraceable

An article in the LA Times tells a familiar story: a candidate named Clinton receiving large campaign donations from people who may not even exist, are not registered to vote, say they were pressured into giving and in the case of one listed contributor, deny having made any donation. The contributions come from those who list their occupations as unlikely sources of large donations, yet these people are listed as having donated $1000 to $2000 each.

Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.

....some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton...

Attempts to track down contributors led to addresses where neighbors living there for years said they had never even heard of the alleged tenant. Listed employers denied knowing other contributors.

In the busy heart of East Broadway, beneath the Manhattan Bridge, is a building that is listed as the home of Sang Cheung Lee, also reported to have given $1,000. Trash was piled in the dimly lighted entrance hall. Neighbors said they knew of no one with Lee's name there; they knocked on one another's doors in a futile effort to find him.

That isn't to say all the names are bogus, some are real and the contributions can be accounted for. Most are interested in Clinton because she has promised family reunification for immigrants, they want their families together in the US.

But what of the names of people that don't exist or are not eligible by law to donate? It reminds us of Johnny Chung and brings back memories of illegal campaign donations made by Chinese nationals to Bill Clinton.

Why should anyone be surprised? Hillary has no problem with shady dealings and flouting the law. Hillary is the one who was unable to find files under subpeona for two years during the Whitewater investigation until they magically showed up in her bedroom. It was First Lady Hillary packing up items from the White House that tallied $190,000 - furniture, flatware, rugs, televisions, etc. - and having it shipped to the Clinton's new home.

Does anyone even remember any of this? Is it that the media, by blowing up one story and having it dominate headlines until another such story comes along, conditions the public to be able to focus on only one thing at a time. Have we lost our collective memory and ability to think?

It is unfortunate that the Monica Lewinsky affair took up so much of our limited attention span. In an administration that did not have the obvious advantage of such a scandal to divert us, we would have paid more attention to detail. Instead the country was divided over being shocked or allowing that a man's sex life is his own business. Perhaps we would have noticed the Clinton administration facilitating the transfer of satellite technology to Red China, for instance. But we're glued to our headlines, and the devil is in the details.

Like whether or not campaign contributors actually exist.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bid over $2mil for Dem Letter to Limbaugh

Recently the media and the blogosphere have been abuzz about Rush Limbaugh's comments on "phony soldiers", a comment that many said was insulting to our troops and intimated that any military personnel who were opposed to the way were not real soldiers.

Limbaugh denied this and said that he was referring to only one phony soldier, Jesse Al-Zaid (a.k.a Jesse MacBeth) who was indeed a phony soldier, having never served in Iraq although his "eye-witness" accounts of soldiers murdering children were carried by major news outlets in both English and Arabic. In response to Rush's comments a letter was sent to Limbaugh, signed by 41 Democratic Senators, denouncing him for his comments and demanding he retract them.

...Bid for Limbaugh letter $2,100,100...

Rush is having the last laugh though, as he has put the original letter up for sale on eBay, with this morning's bid over $2 million. The money from the sale will be donated to The Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation.

Through the continuous support of our donors, we have distributed aid with a value of more than $29,000,000.00 to eligible children. This assistance was primarily rendered to children of Marines or Federal law enforcement personnel who were killed on duty or died under extraordinary circumstances while serving our country at home or abroad. from The Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation website

Pete Stark Raving Mad

Congressman Pete Stark has accused President Bush of getting amusement out of American soldiers getting their heads blown off. Here's what Congressman Stark said during debate on the SCHIP children's health care legislation:

"You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement."

*Click here to see the video

This is not the first time that Pete Stark has gone overboard, give a listen to Pete Stark leaving an insulting message on the answering machine of veteran Staff Sgt. Dowd of the California Army National Guard, as he responds to a letter faxed to him by Dowd regarding a recent vote on prisoner abuse. Stark accuses him of not writing the letter himself, saying Dowd probably doesn't even know how to spell half the words he used.

*Go here to listen to the message

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Space Communists

China may be a latecomer to the space race but they're catching up quickly and intend to maintain a presence in space. In fact, China is considering setting up an extra-terrestrial Communist Party branch.

China's astronauts now number 14, many more than necessary to meet the three-member requirement for setting up a branch of the Party.

According to Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut in space, a communist space party would conduct party business in space "in the way we do on Earth".

I suppose that means no reincarnation for dead astronauts, no freedom of speech or freedom of the media, and no internet that reaches outside China. I wonder if China will relax the one-child policy for future space colonists, so they may populate outer space for the PRC?

However, never let it be said that China forbids religion.

"Like foreign astronauts having their beliefs, we believe in communism, which is also a spiritual power. We may not pray in the way our foreign counterparts do. But the common belief has made us more united in space, where there is no national boundary, to accomplish our missions." Yang Liwei

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fat People: They're Coming For You Next

The Foresight Obesity Project has some large numbers for us on the global obesity epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people worldwide are overweight, and at least 300 million are obese. Obesity is both a major cause of chronic ill health and “considered a disease in its own right” (WHO 2003). They stress that obesity leads to more chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

They report that obesity shortens life span by 10-13 years and that in the UK, half of all the population will be obese by 2050. WHO reports obesity-related deaths are 320,000 per year in Europe and 300,000 per year in the US. This is truly disturbing news.

Or is it? child dies of starvation every five seconds...

Obesity may shorten lifespan according to the report, but how much more is it shortened by starvation? Every day across the globe, 16,000 children die of starvation, one every five seconds. That's 5.8 million children dying of starvation annually. 854 million people across the world are hungry, each and every day. Malnutrition is a much larger problem than overeating. A lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation.

So basically, what this report tells us is that we live in a prosperous society, where people have luxuries like cars and public transport, as well as large, well-stocked supermarkets and do not need to physically labor daily just to secure enough food to eat. We have more than we need and perhaps over-indulge. We are privileged to be able to over-indulge.

The main problem here is health care costs. The governments do not want to spend money treating diseases caused by obesity, even though many of these same diseases are found in people of normal weight. The government now wants to eradicate fat people, as it wants to eradicate other segments of society.

No surprise then that an investigation by Britain's ITV found that one in ten National Health Service (NHS) trusts restricts operations for obese people or smokers (heaven forbid you are both). That means, as I warned previously, that it isn't just smokers they are coming after any more. Society is not a pretty place, new underclasses are being created constantly. Even the Foresight report contains references to lack of education and poverty as related to obesity. Smokers have long been categorized thusly.

What does this report mean for thin people? Does this report grant them the same rights to incivility that reports on the dangers of smoking grant to non-smokers? Will thin people be able to walk up to overweight people in the street and tell them to stop eating or it will kill them? Will there be "sin taxes" on chocolate cake and ice cream as there are on cigarettes and liquor? Will chocolate donettes become taboo when they are $7 a pack and only available to those over 18 years of age?

I can see the signs in the local convenience store now: "No ID, No Twinkies".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paranoia and Air America

The news hit the internet and the blogosphere with a big bang. Liberal radio host Randi Rhodes of Air America was mugged on the street and seriously injured.

But the attack and mugging seem to have all come out of the paranoia of Jon Elliot, another Air America radio host. He announced on-air that Rhodes had been attacked and mugged on the streets of New York and speculated that the crime was perpetrated by a right wing conspirator, to stop the liberal left from airing their views.

This was all news to the police officers of the 17th Precinct who had received no report of a crime and called Rhodes' lawyer to inquire.

It seems that not only was Rhodes not attacked by a rabid right-winger, she wasn't mugged at all. According to her lawyer, she was walking her dog and fell. The official statement from Air America Radio is this:

Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

However, that doesn't mean that Jon Elliot has to withdraw his inflammatory and insane accusations. After all, maybe a conservative Republican tripped her dog as she walked it.

More Toilet Crime

Toilet crime is up all over America and many people are not even aware of it.

We have already learned that you can't tap your toes in a toilet, but the case of a Pennsylvania woman points out another toilet offense that will result in criminal charges: swearing at your toilet.

Dawn Herb of West Scranton was more than slightly dismayed to find her toilet overflowing and flooding into her kitchen. While attempting to clean up the mess, she let a few choice words fly at the offending fixture. Unfortunately, the bathroom window was open and a neighbor didn't like the way she was insulting the toilet. The neighbor, an off-duty police officer politely advised her to "Shut the f--- up!" to which Ms. Herb replied that he might consider minding his own business.

...woman charged with swearing at toilet...

Apparently, in defense of the toilet, the neighbor called police who gave Ms. Herb a citation.

The charge for yelling obsenities at your toilet in West Scranton, PA is disorderly conduct which carries a possible penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Dentist Accused of Fondling Patients

Mark Anderson, 48 of Woodland, California is a dentist with a unique approach to treating patients, well female patients anyway. Dr. Anderson is accused of rubbing the chests of female patients. Twenty-seven women have filed complaints that they were molested in the dentist's chair.

Dr. Anderson's defense is that chest rubs are a well-known treatment for TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint disorder) and his rubbing of their breasts was all in the line of duty. Uh huh.

On woman complained of having undergone Dr. Anderson's chest rub technique six times over two years. She said that despite wearing tight shirts (?) and high necklines that the dentist still managed to get his hands in under her shirt and bra.

It's not going to be a popular question but I have to ask it. Why did she go back the second time, let alone the four after that? Why return so often, wearing ever-tighter shirts?

Anderson's attorney has asked that the dentist's license be reinstated while the investigation and disciplinary process continues so that the doctor can provide for his seven children.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to be Stunning

There has been a surge of reports in the news about police officers using tasers, often in situations where it seemed to be unnecessary or dangerous and in some cases, fatal to the tasered suspect. The highest-profile case was University of Florida student, Andrew Meyer, whose antics at a John Kerry forum on campus got him tasered and hauled away by police. But there are other incidents that are more disturbing. The case of the man who was tasered while holding his newborn child, causing him to drop the infant, and the case of Emily Delafield, disabled and in a wheelchair who died as a result of having been tasered. used as shield, hit by taser...

A wider problem that has not been so well publicized is the fact that it isn't only police officers who have tasers in their arsenal. Out of Oklahoma comes the story of a bounty hunter whose attempt to taser the suspect he intended to apprehend was deflected by a woman companion who held her baby up to shield the suspect. According to police, the baby was hit by only one probe and suffered only an injured hand.

And it isn't only law enforcement and bounty hunters who may be carrying tasers and stun guns. Who may own a stunning device varies from state to state. In some states, like Massachusetts, they are illegal and completely banned. In other states, such as Illinois, a buyer must present an FOID card, there is a 24 hour waiting period and records must be kept ten years as with gun purchases.

The stun gun or taser was supposed to work as a lower level of enforcement, to subdue someone who was agitated, fighting or likely to harm himself or others. Too often, the taser appears to be employed before other lower level tactics (like talking and negotiating with the suspect) have had an opportunity to work to stop the escalation of violence in the incident.

Recently there was the case of the woman who was repeatedly tasered even though she was already handcuffed. She was seen on video to have been tasered again while being transferred from one police vehicle to another which led to her falling and sustaining further injury.

Web sites such as this one caution you to find out if the weapon you want to buy is legal in your state. But since the list of states with restrictions is short, one must assume it is legal in most states to own and carry stun devices. There's even a petite, 4 inch tall stun device that would fit neatly in your purse. It delivers an impressive 80,000 volts and runs on a 9-volt battery. Equally handy might be the stun gun disguised as a cell phone.

The Taser website confirms these weapons are legal in most states and municipalities, although they caution that even if they are legal where you live, you should find out if carrying them concealed is restricted. They also have an impressive line of "defense" weapons, although with a slightly higher price tag.

At least police officers are trained on these weapons but even with that training, tragedies and misuse occur. How safe are we when anyone could be carrying such a device?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ted Kennedy Has Surgery on Blocked Artery

Senator Ted Kennedy underwent surgery today for a blocked artery. The blockage was found after a routine exam and MRI relating to a back injury that Kennedy sustained in a 1964 plane crash.

Doctors said that the left carotid artery had a 70% blockage. The carotid artery supplies blood to the head and neck. That could explain a lot.

Kennedy, who is 75 years of age, has served in the US Senate since 1962. He is the sole surviving son of the Kennedy political dynasty started by his father, Joseph Kennedy Sr.

In 1969, Kennedy and a companion, 29 year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in his home state of Massachusetts. Kennedy reported he was able to swim free of the vehicle but after several dives was unable to free Mary Jo. He reported returning to the cabin where they had been attending a party to seek help. Two friends from the party joined him in diving for Mary Jo but without success. Although there was a phone at the cabin, no one remembered to call the police. Kennedy returned to his hotel room for the night, leaving Mary Jo in the submerged vehicle. He contacted his lawyer and some political advisors before remembering to report the incident to the police the next morning. Not surprisingly, Mary Jo Kopechne was deceased when the car was finally pulled from the water.

Kennedy's current term in the Senate ends in 2013 when the senator will be 80 years old. It is not known if he will remember to run for re-election.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Robots and Humans Will Marry in the Future

In the future, humans will marry robots. This is the subject of a thesis by David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher who has been awarded a doctorate by the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

Levy has done a lot of research into marriage relationships and what he believes future robots will be capable of and sees no reason why a human might not want to settle down with an android.

Actually, I can see a lot of benefits to human/robot marriages. Robots never get tired, they will always do their share of the housework and probably will be pretty handy at fixing things. Plus, robots don't get headaches.

But awarding the guy a doctorate for this idea which he has clearly stolen from a season 3 episode of Star Trek is a bit over the top. Actually the doctorate should go to Jerome Bixby who wrote the episode, Requiem for Methuselah. Kirk et al beam down to a planet where a very old, but extremely immortal guy lives. Being immortal, he needed a companion who was also immune to the effects of aging and so he built himself an android wife, Rayna. This would have worked out very well, if only James Kirk hadn't shown up. It is well known throughout the galaxy that Kirk always gets the girl, or in this case, the girl robot. Yup, Rayna the robot falls madly in love with Captain Kirk.

And that's another problem. If someone steals your robot wife, do they have to buy you a new one?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whoopi Goldberg to Al Sharpton - Apologize!

Video from The View as Whoopi Goldberg publicly asks Al Sharpton to apologize for remarks made about the Duke Lacrosse players.

Although Sharpton was quick to condemn the Duke Lacrosse players as "rich white boys" when they were accused of rape of a black stripper, he has never apologized for having excoriated them in the press, accused them of racist crimes and proclaimed their guilt before the case went to trial. Since the three have been exonerated and the prosecutor has actually done jail time for the prosecution persecution of these kids, Sharpton has not uttered one word of apology for his heavily biased and inaccurate statements.

Update: Al Sharpton has sent Whoopi Goldberg a letter telling her that he never apologized because he did not feel he needed to apologize. Sharpton responded by saying no apology would be required since he had never taken a position on the Duke rape case and had turned down invitations to travel there.

Here's what Sharpton said on Bill O'Reilly's show after the Duke Lacrosse players were arrested:

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Two Duke lacrosse players have been arrested and charged with rape among other violent crimes. They are free on $400,000 bail. As you may know, the students attended a party where a stripper hired by the lacrosse team said she was raped. With us now civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton. Is this a racial issue?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think that there are certainly a lot of racial factors. Whether it is directly in the case, we'll see, because some reports said that there was racial language used. But I think that when you look at the racial atmosphere, when you look at the fact that there again were the allegations of racial statements, when you look at a lot of people feeling that they have been treated differently, where this girl has basically had a character charged in the media, there is a lot of racism that's in the air. Having said that, I commend a lot of the blacks and whites who stood vigil and to come together in that community to stand up for this girl. So I think in the midst of this, there is some good.

O'REILLY: Why are we standing up for the girl if there is the possibility, based upon evidence, that the girl may have fabricated the story? Why don't we all pull back and let the authorities investigate and let the legal system work?

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, the authorities have charged there was a crime, so they are not saying that at all. Second of all, people on any side of an argument have the ride to advocate on behalf of who they believe. Thirdly, I think that when the prosecutors went forward, they clearly have said this girl is the victim, so why would we be trying the victim...?

As it turns out, the girl had fabricated the story and the charges were dropped against the Duke lacrosse players.