Sunday, December 30, 2007

U.S. Falls to Worst Category in Privacy International Rankings

Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as "a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations." It has been doing its global survey on the rankings of privacy protection around the world since 1997.

This year's survey describes "an increasing trend amongst governments to archive data on the geographic, communications and financial records of all their citizens and residents" which leads to the conclusion that "all citizens, regardless of legal status, are under suspicion."

It also describes
an "overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards."

The lowest ranking countries in the survey continue to be Malaysia, Russia and China. The highest-ranking countries in 2007 are Greece, Romania and Canada.

While Canadian news services
crowed about Canada's ranking vs. the United States and the United Kingdom, it should be noted that Canada's ranking moved from "significant safeguards and protections," next to the best category, to "some safeguards but weakened protections," a drop of two categories.

Of course, both the U.S. and U.K. are in the "endemic surveillance societies" category, the worst, and obviously Orwellian in nature. While Malaysia, Russia and China rank at the bottom, they tie at 1.3 (out of 5) while the U.K. is 1.4 and the U.S. is 1.5.

The report also noted that "in terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the U.S. is the worst ranking country in the democratic world."

Greece is top at 3.1 ... once again out of 5, so you can see that privacy protection isn't exactly stellar across the world.

A .PDF version is available here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

SF Zoo Website Expresses Condolences; Awkward Mission Statement Remains

While the investigation into the Christmas Eve tiger mauling continues, the San Francisco Zoo has updated their website with a message of condolence as well as a note indicating that they will most likely re-open on Saturday Dec. 29th.

At the same time, however, it appears they need to update other parts of the website, such as their Mission Statement:
At the San Francisco Zoo, it's our mission to connect people with wildlife, inspire caring for nature and advance conservation action.
Emphasis theirs, BTW.

Meanwhile, there are no major developments in the investigation as yet. As it is raining in the San Francisco Bay Area, some important forensic evidence may have washed away.

It has come to light that when the victim, Carlos Sousa Jr. didn't show up for Christmas dinner, his father called several of his son's friends - including the two brothers injured in the tiger attack that killed the teen - who lied to the father about the teen's whereabouts.

The Dhaliwal brothers, Kulbil and Amritpal, remained in stable condition Thursday. However, reports are that the brothers have been uncooperative in the investigation. What is there to hide, unless the suspicions over taunting the tiger are true?

At the same time,
Leo Ferreira, Sousa's 21-year-old half brother, said he did not believe his brother would have taunted the tiger.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dude, Jesus Hangs 10 in Action Figure Line

Jesus the Surfer. Jesus the Biker. Jesus the Bull Rider (?). And more.

This is the new line of Jesus "action" figures from Fishermen, Inc. Each comes with a crown of thorns, and each has a different message, which you can see as you pan across the home page above. The are as follows:
  • Bull Rider: Strength
  • Quaterback: Faith
  • Biker: Freedom
  • Soccer Star: Victory
  • Panhandler: Hope
  • Surfer: Spirit
  • Skateboarder: Youth
  • Rock Climber: Life
Click the surfer dude above to see most of the line (the rock climber and skateboarder wouldn't fit on his home page). Price varies from $20 - $30.

According to the founder, Eric Dyson, in a message available on his site (but not linkable), the death of his father led him to soulsearching, and God told him "I am always with you," to break through his despondency.

With this message, he says, came a vision of Jesus on a motorcycle riding across the open roads of America. Thus he decided to create this line of figures.

The figures are available at Christian retail stores, but it's apparent from the "Coming Soon" message when you click "Buy Now" at the site, they will soon be available online as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Subtle Butt Disposable Gas Neutralizers: $9.95 for Peace of Mind

Yes, this is a genuine product. The company is called Garment Guard, and their products include Garment Guard perspiration protection for your clothes. Their newest product: Subtle Butt.

Each 3.25" square filter has two layers: one made of soft fabric with an antimicrobial treatment, on the side touching the skin. The second layer is activated carbon, which faces the underwear or the pants (for those who go "commando") and has a "vast surface area" for odors to adhere to and get "neutralized." Two adhesive strips hold the Subtle Butt in place.

The price: a mere $9.95 for five pads and peace of mind. Though a "silencer" feature would be a good add-on.

To be honest, I remember seeing a joke commercial on Nickelodeon where they suggested putting a dryer sheet in your pants in case of gas; maybe this company stole / improved on that idea.

BTW, here's a link in case you have a gassy friend you want to email this to.

Un-Merry Christmas to Vick, Cheney, From PETA

Rather than giving Michael Vick a lump of coal in his stocking, PETA has decided to immortalize him in his own holiday e-card. Others they have chosen to give the same honor to include:
  • Cold-blooded Colonel Sanders
  • Hairy Kate and Trashley: the Olsen Twins
  • Pelt Pusher Anna Wintour
  • Fur Hag Kate Moss
  • Hunter Dick Cheney
Vick paces around a prison yard inside the snow globe, kicking a ball in the air and occasionally being hit on the head with it, to the announcer's comment of "Ooh. That's gonna sting in the morning."

Shake the globe by left-clicking and dragging the mouse and you'll hear sirens and "They got to the quarterback’s blind side there. He never had a chance."

Cheney's is funny too, with Cheney walking around the globe shooting other hunters.

Check out all of them at PETA's site (click image above), and maybe even send one to a friend.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gonzales Loses ABA's "Lawyer of the Year" Title

The people (or other lawyers) have spoken, and the American Bar Association (ABA) has listened. As I wrote earlier, the ABA named Alberto Gonzales 2007 Lawyer of the Year and Michael Mukasey 2008 Lawyer of the Year. At the time, the explanation was that Gonzales made the most news in 2007, and Mukasey was anticipated to do the same in 2008.

Apparently, and unsurprisingly, lawyers around the country objected to the "Lawyer of the Year" title, and the ABA Journal has retitled the two as "Newsmakers of the Year."

In a post on their site, the ABA said:
We appreciate the feedback we’ve received, and we’re acting on it. So that there can be no confusion, the term “Lawyers of the Year” has been changed in the headline and story to “Newsmakers of the Year.” The story is otherwise unchanged from its original version.
As I said in my previous post, Time Magazine named Hitler "Man of the Year" once,
basically for the same reason (not that I'm comparing them, just the thought process of the ABA Journal).

It didn't really take them long to rethink their original decision, only a couple of days. That must have been one heck of an email / phone / letter-writing campaign by lawyers around the country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Death TV": All Death, Mourning, Noon, and Night

At one time a network devoted to cartoons seemed ludicrous. But how about a channel that's all about death? Nothing but obituaries, and some documentaries on cemeteries around the world.

Etos-TV is backed by the German Undertakers' Association (go figure) and is scheduled to start broadcasting early next year. For €2,000 the association of undertakers will gather picture and video material from relatives and help write text for voice-overs, which the station will then broadcast.

Belying the "Death TV" comment I made, besides the obituaries and the cemetery documentaries, the station will also broadcast shows covering issues it thinks will be of interest to its target over-50 audience: keeping mobile in later years, organ donation and coping with bereavement. Certainly isn't going to be a fun-filled set of shows, though.

The station will broadcast daily over the Astra satellite starting next month --- though only 3 hours a day. It also hopes to expand across Europe. All I can say is, just keep it away from my satellite TV company.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"If Cheney Were Anyone Else, He'd Probably Be Dead by Now"

An effective, and to the point full-page ad is appearing in 10 Iowa papers today. The ad (.PDF), while advocating HR 676, the National Health Insurance Act, also points out an inconvenient truth: if Dick Cheney didn't have the government-financed health care he, Bush, and members of Congress enjoy, he'd most likely be dead by now.

(I will make a slight correction to the ad: Cheney is rich, so he could probably afford health care. If Cheney were a middle-class American, on the other hand ...)

Take a look at his history as described in the PDF: four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, angioplasty, an implanted defibrillator and an emergency procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat. Does anyone seriously believe a private insurer would have not either slammed him with impossible to pay rates, or dropped him altogether? Even in a system like Massachusetts', where insurance is mandated, most likely the rates would be impossible.

Let's not forget the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care, and that because of that we are near the bottom in terms of infant mortality (see link above).

Why should our government have free health care while the people they represent do not? Health care is not just for the rich, as most other nations know. Of course, health care giants and pharmaceutical companies don't want anything to change.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
Do any of us deserve less than Cheney?

Dana Perino: "What's the Cuban Missile Crisis?"

This is why I love the NPR show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. This weekend they had White House Press Secretary Dana Perino on during the Not My Job part of the show, and she admitted she didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis is.

Unfortunately, as she is appointed, not elected, I can't make a joke about "these are the people we elect?" I could say, "these are the people appointed by the people we elect?"

She indicated last week she was asked about the Cuban Missile Crisis in reference to President Putin's comparison of the U.S. missile defense shield program to the Cuban Missile Crisis. From the show:

"I was panicked a bit because I really know about ... nothing about ... the Cuban Missile Crisis. It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

She admitted he had to ask her husband and he shook his head.

I have to admit she has a decent sense of humor, even about the mortgage hotline goof by Bush last week. She also admitted her husband has told her not to talk to him in her "White House voice." She wouldn't demonstrate the voice for NPR, though.

Unfortunately, she didn't win for her contestant. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You can here the whole segment here; click on Not My Job.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Very Silent Night, for All But Dogs

Most people know that dogs can hear frequencies too high for humans to hear. But that doesn't mean something in those frequencies can't be music to their ears.

The New Zealand SPCA has released a CD single called A Very Silent Night. Not only that, they released a music video featuring NZ rapper Dei Hamo, as well.

Unfortunately for us in the U.S., it appears the only retailer selling these CDs is The Warehouse, which advertises itself as New Zealand's "leading music retailer." Cost: $4.99.

I'll say I played the music video on my PC, and didn't get a reaction from my dogs. They just continued to sack out on the couch. However, they didn't put their paws over their ears or start howling either. For them, that's probably the best review this video could expect.

Watch, but don't expect to listen, to the video.

Could Mormonism Be the Greenest Religion?

Earlier this week a Michigan State University study was released which indicated that divorce may have an environmental cost. The reasoning behind it is pure common sense: divorced couples, living apart, obviously use more resources simply because of that fact. But the study quantified that information.

In fact, the study found that in the U.S., divorced households spent 46% more per capita on electricity and 56% more on water than married households did. Like I said, common sense quantified.

That got me to thinking. If a typical American family was good, couldn't an atypical family be better? I don't simply mean a couple with 12 kids ... that is still, in many scientists' opinions, very non-green. I mean a polygamist household.

I mean, think about the savings by combining all those households into one! Or perhaps another possibility is a cult like Waco, where a large number of people live in a compound.

Before people correct me, I realize that despite Warren Jeffs' best attempts, the Mormon church no longer sanctions polygamy. I also realize that this is strictly theoretical (and tongue-in-cheek). Realistically we'd need MSU or someone else to do another study.

Any takers out there?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Santa Gets Fired for Laughing

It looks like Australia was serious when it said it didn't want its Santas saying "Ho, ho, ho," the traditional Santa laugh. I wrote about that earlier in mid-November, when protesters targeted Westaff, a company that supplies hundreds of Santas in Sydney, for wanting its Santas to use the phrase "Ha, ha, ha" instead.

Westaff wanted the change made because it felt that the "Ho, ho, ho" phrase could frighten children and could even be derogatory to women (right!).

70-year-old John Oakes said he was fired on Monday for saying "Ho, ho ho" and for singing the Christmas song Jingle Bells (for Jingle Bells?). Oakes has been a Santa for 3 years running.

Meanwhile, a Westaff spokesman said that Oakes had been dismissed because of his attitude, and not for Ho, ho, ho-ing.

Well, if you won't even let him laugh, what do you expect Santa's attitude to be like?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Need a Good Holiday Gift? "Reserve a Spot in Heaven" for a Friend!

Afraid you won't make it into Heaven? Now you can buy your way in (although I'm sure some have tried this already). This website,, says it will guarantee you a spot in Heaven, or your money back.

I'm assuming not that many have noticed this site as there's no news of a lawsuit yet (knowing our country).

So, what are the details? There are two different "packages." One is the "Essentials Travel Kit," $12.79. This includes:

  • Heavenly issued certificate of reservation with a unique I.D. number registered in the Book of Light™
  • A First class ticket to Heaven. Why walk those stairs when you can fly?
  • The Official Heaven Identification Card so you can get around without getting hassled.
  • Heaven 101 mini informational guide. Don’t be a victim of culture shock. Get acquainted with the land.

The upgraded "All Access Travel Kit," $24.95, includes the above plus:
  • All access VIP pass. This pass will grant you access to “VIP exclusive areas” including the Land of Milk and Honey, where all the elite get together and kick it.
  • Framing. Your ticket to Heaven and certificate of reservation will be nicely framed in an elegant casing.
As the site says, "spots are filling very quickly" in Heaven, so (according to them) you should sign up soon. And don't forget that 100% guarantee (though I'm not sure what good a refund will do you "down there").

Even better, you can give a Spot in Heaven for a friend or loved one, or even Spot (your pet, right?). They even have group rates and a monthly drawing for a free Spot as well.

Obviously (I hope!) a gag gift, but still, a serious business. I found this thread on PayPal's website where the site owner was asking for some help.

On the other hand, I can think of a few politicians in the current administration who might need help getting "up there," so if you're in the mood you might consider this as a gift. They may need more than one to make it, based on past deeds, though. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Redskins Honor Sean Taylor with "Missing Man Formation"

The Washinton Redskins honored safety Sean Taylor, 24, who died on Tuesday from gunshot wounds, with a moving pre-game ceremony. The ceremony included a video montage of clips of his high school and college days, and an interview with him. There was also footage of Taylor with his young daughter.

The postscript to the video said, "WE WILL MISS YOU SEAN."

But that wasn't all.

When the Buffalo Bills offense took the field for the first time midway through the first quarter, the Redskins defense lined up with only 10 men on the field, similar to the "missing man formation" often used in flyovers. Taylor's open spot on the field was obvious.

The Bills gained 22 yards on the short-handed play, but it was a fitting tribute.

Men's Lives Extended by Breast Ogling --- Uh, No, Darn It

Interesting when the Science Editor (that's his title) of a pretty decent site like Softpedia gets hooked into a story that's obviously false. Or did he? I guess I wonder when this happens if they just post it to get traffic, or what?

The story at Softpedia was that staring at a picture of a woman's breasts for 10 minutes a day would extend the lifespan of a man for five years. According to the article, the study's author was Dr. Karen Weatherby, a gerontologist.

And, according to the article, "for five years, the boob oglers presented a lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse rates and decreased risk of coronary artery disease."

Riiight. I wonder where this editor got this story, actually. Let's look at the telltale signs of a fake story.

First, the study was published in New England Journal of Medicine and Weekly World News. OK, the New England Journal of Medicine, sure, but Weekly World News? Dead giveaway number one.

Dead giveaway two: searching for this story will find older versions of it, nearly word for word, posted years ago.

And finally, the old familiar Snopes debunking. According to Snopes the story first showed up in 1999, but the Softpedia story showed up on Nov. 30.

So, unfortunately guys, this isn't true, despite what could be called "wishful thinking."

Not to blame Softpedia alone, as Fark picked up on this as well, but I can see that, because the stories are user-submitted and it would be sure to drive traffic. Plenty of bloggers posted this as well, maybe for the same "traffic" reason.

But if that's not the reason, hey guys, you oughta do some research before posting, as your facts are all-effed-up.

Friday, November 30, 2007 Now for Your Household Uranium Needs

It's hard to describe this without breaking into laughter. And it's not just because is selling U-238. Oh no, that's just the start of it.

This product is uranium ore. Yep, that's what it is. No, I'm not kidding. The product is described thusly:
Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown. Shipping Information: We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials.
Even more hilarious is the section of the page that lists "Customers Who Bought Items Like This Also Bought:" ... take a look at the image (click to enlarge). It needs no description.

Yep, I always associate those items with uranium ore.

And that's not all. It's a highly rated product, with 4 out of 5 stars and 26 reviews, including:
  • I have to admit, I've tried many different power sources for my orbiting satellite death beam, and nothing does it like good old U-238.

  • This is the best strawberry jam I've ever tasted. It works well with toast AND English muffins.

  • My son wanted Play Doh for his birthday but unfortunately Toys 'R' Us was sold out of it. I figured this would be the next best thing.
The following, however, were rather negative, so take care when ordering this product:
  • I bought a can of this about 4.5 billion years ago, give or take a few million years, but when I went to use it today I noticed only half of it was still in the can. I swear I put the lid on tight. I'd give it more stars if it came in a better package.

  • This product was not properly labeled as unsafe for children!

  • Is too expensive and too small for building even small nuclear device much less power global death beam.
Unfortunately the product is not eligible for Amazon Prime or for with free shipping over $25.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Road Kill Toys Add Squash to Plush

I don't think they have any lead in them, but they certainly have some gore. The newest thing in plush toys: Road Kill.

Road Kill Toys is a new toy company, and as they themselves say, they are "toys with a macabre twist." Their first product is Twitch the Raccoon. All of the Road Kill toys will come with ID tags though, with information on the animal's demise. However, the first 1,000 Twitches sold will be limited editions, with special identity tags, hand-written by the designer.

The toy's, er, blood and guts can be stuffed into or pulled out of his body. A tire print even runs across its back.

Besides Twitch, future characters will include Grind the Rabbit, Splodge the Hedgehog, Pop the Weasel (it figures), Fender the Fox, and Smudge the Squirrel.

You can read their character profiles, including their death certificates, here.

The only one with a price so far in their shop is Twitch, at £25.00 --- the rest all have "call for pricing" tags. Still, as it says at their site, you'd better hurry before the maggots set in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lassie Supports the Hollywood Writers Strike

Yes, our favorite collie appears to be supporting the Writers Guild of America (WGA) by picketing (see pic). In reality this is an imposter (we know Lassie has plenty of stand-ins) ... but it is Lulu, a descendent of Lassie (though since there have been many Lassies, it's hard to say which one!).

However, as Lassie and his (yes, remember Lassie is a he) owners and descendents have made tons of money off the hard-working backs of Hollywood writers, through TV series and movies, it's likely he supports the WGA.

(Besides, anything for a cool-looking dog picture, I say. The identity of Lulu was confirmed in a photo caption at The USA Today, though they were not interested in Lulu, while I was!)

The WGA went on strike Nov. 5th over payment for work aired on the Web. Talks are reportedly set to start again today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fliers Still Advertise "Aqua Dots" Date-Rape Toys

Aqua Dots, an extremely popular and award-winning toy, was recalled early this month when it was discovered that a chemical coating on the dots metabolizes into the daet-rape drug GHB. Embarrassingly for some stores, the recall didn't seem to affect their fliers as post-Thanksgiving ads for some stores featured the toys.

Of course, it's only an embarrassment, no danger to consumers --- as calls I made to some stores advertising the toys showed none of them had any. Naturally these fliers are printed long in advance, and based on the popularity of Aqua Dots, they were heavily featured.

Reports indicate that Toys "R" Us and Target ads featured the toys, but not all fliers in all locations in the country apparently contain the ads. In fact, ads in my area contained the ads, while those cross-country in my father-in-law's area did not.

Still, it's likely that fliers with Aqua Dots in them will continue to appear for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Losing 2 Data CDs Not Good Enough for U.K. Gov't; Add Another Six

Remember how the U.K. government, specifically Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Department (HMRC), lost two data CDs with the personal information of 40% of their population? Apparently their inter-office mail is built like a sieve as they have admitted losing six more data CDs.

Fortunately these CDs only contained recorded conversations between a member of staff and a customer making a complaint. While that's all well and good, it points to a pattern in the inter-office mail system which screams "stop using it."

While Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologized for the data loss, let's admit it: that's little comfort to those whose data is concerned, just as in other cases of data loss. The HMRC does believe the CDs with personal information on them are still in their offices, but are still unable to find them.

Being Able to Tie a Noose: Not Really a Crime for an Eagle Scout

Wow, political correctness gone wild in the holiday season and it's not even about Santa Claus or anything. Amazing!

Travis Grigsby isn't an Eagle Scout, but he's close, according to his mother Kim. Naturally he knows how to tie a ton of different knots. And he's in the band. So when some kids on the drum line started talking about the best knots to use to tie up the drum equipment, it doesn't seem racist that one might ask if someone knew how to tie a noose.

In fact, Travis said he did but that he wouldn't because he could get in trouble for that. So, he knew about possible consequences and refused. Consequences! That's refreshing, actually.

Later, however, an African-American student on the drum line told the teacher he was offended. Apparently there's been some racial tension in the band at Lee's Summit West High School in Missouri.

Now, I might understand that if they were making racial comments, but in this case? This doesn't seem to be a "Jena Six" case, and seems overly sensitive. The school's response: a 10-day suspension for Travis and his friend Alex Coday, with the charge of "having a racially charged conversation about nooses."

Travis and Alex insist this was not the case, and the suspension was reduced to five days. But still, assuming the boys are telling the truth (and Travis' mother said the boys didn't get a chance to tell their side), is this political correctness gone wild again?

Friday, November 23, 2007

SMS for Someone's Name, Address, Phone Number. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

One of those "what were they thinking?" moments. The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was (emphasis on "was") allowing anyone, just anyone, to text message the registration info of a car --- and get back the name, address, and phone number of the owner. What could possibly go wrong, eh?

Well, thinking about it a little, maybe young amorous men would start texting in trying to get the information of young women. And that's exactly what happened.

The advertisement (yep, they advertised this) for the service said, "SMS us the vehicle registration number ... and get all the information - vehicle, tax and owner's details. etc." After a series of complaints, the state transport department decided to stop sending all the info --- but they still send the owner's name.

According to the department, the service was meant to help policemen quickly find out details of vehicles involved in accidents or those suspected to have been stolen or involved in a crime. I guess that unlike the U.S., they can't just find that info by radioing back to the station or checking a computer.

The information was also meant to help those purchasing second-hand vehicles by providing details of the original date of purchase, fitness certificate, taxes and fees paid. Sounds a lot like CARFAX, but with a dating service attached. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A Miniskirt Mouse Pad for the Prurient Web Surfer

At first glance, it looks like someone's got his hand up a mini-skirt. Take a closer look, and there's really a mouse pad inside the skirt.

Unfortunately, since I only found this one a Japanese-only online store, I don't know how much it costs. I did notice that in 2006 Axe had a promotion for their AxeFantasy site using these pads.

I hate to admit it, but I found this hiliarious, but at the same time, somewhat disturbing.

Criminal IDed by Video of His Butt

I kid you not. A knife attack by two men left Kevin Williams, 29, fighting for his life. The attack took place in a shop in Queen's ­Crescent, Kentish Town, and unlike shows like C.S.I., there was no residual forensic evidence. And Williams could remember little about the attack. But there was ... a closed-circuit video.

But the video didn't show any faces! What it did show, when one of the attackers bent over to continue attacking a prostrate Williams, was a large and ­distinctive birthmark across the attacker's lower back and butt.

It's unclear how police targeted the eventual suspect, Aaron Williams (unrelated), 28, but there had been a dispute between the two men over a woman. After arresting him, they photographic his back, and a dermatological expert said the marks, because of their uniqueness, were identical.

Aaron Williams was convicted and sentenced to 16 years. Kevin Williams still has several surgeries to endure. The second attacker has not been identified.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Holiday PC Silliness: Santa in Red Too Commercial; Let's Go with Green

As I said previously, can't we just leave holiday traditions alone? I understand political correctness and all that, but come on! Notice how I can't even say "Christmas traditions' but carefully selected the word "holiday" instead.

In this case, the Steiner School in Brighton in the U.K. has decided that the red Santa Claus suit is "too commercial." Because of this, they want to have a green-suited Santa.

Why is the red suit "too commercial?" Well, many believe that the image of Santa as we see him today was originated by artist Haddon Sundblom for a Coca-Cola promotion in 1931.

But most will also note , and Coca-Cola also readily admits, that Santa Claus appeared in red many times prior to the Coca-Cola promotions. In fact, on the web page linked above on Coca-Cola's website, it says:
It is a common misconception that today's Santa Claus wears a red coat because red is the color associated with Coca-Cola. In fact, Santa appeared in a red coat in numerous earlier written accounts and illustrations before Sundblom painted him for Coca-Cola advertising.
This same information was even noted at the best site for debunking urban legends: Snopes.

In fact, some research shows that many believe Thomas Nast to be the true originator of Santa Claus as we know him today; the image of Santa to the left above is the first Nast image with Santa in red ... and it was done in 1869. The Coca-Cola formula wasn't developed until 1885. 'Nuff said?

Naturally most parents are totally behind the red-suited Santa, as I am. I just wish those in charge at Steiner School would do a little research, so they can discover their over-the-top PC-ness is totally wrong.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Swan to Spend Another Winter with Swan-Shaped Pedal Boat Heartthrob

Swans mate for life, in case you didn't know. This would mean that the citizens of the western German city of Münster had better be prepared, if they have hearts, to keep this up for a looooong time.

Last year the black swan Petra made headlines around the world when she decided to shack up with a swan-shaped pedal boat in Münster's Aasee lake. Despite attempts since last year, Petra is forever in love, it seems, and based on mating for life, it makes sense.

During last year's winter the boat and Petra were moved to the zoo, but that meant a pelican had to vacate its premises. This year they will move to the zoo again, but they've build a new winterized hutch just for the two of them.

Come on, come on, let's hear it. Awwwwwwwwww.

Hillary: "It Takes a Clinton to Clean Up After a Bush"

On Monday, during a two-day swing through Iowa, Hillary Clinton spoke about the economy yesterday. She spoke about oil prices, the credit / housing crisis, and (not enough for me) problems for middle-class workers.

But what really caught me was a great line. When speaking about the economy, and what a mess it is, Clinton noted some similarities between 1992, George H. W. Bush, and her husband Bill. "There seems to be a pattern here. It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush."

No matter what you think of Hillary, either she's good with ad-libs or (more likely), we can see that all the good writers aren't walking picket lines in Hollywood.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Reason for the GOP to Support Universal Health Care: Tighter Immigration? Obese Woman Denied Entry to New Zealand

Well, this could get more in the GOP behind universal health care, not to say that some aren't behind it. But the type of universal health care bandied about by most U.S. politicians isn't the type that most industrialized countries have: true universal or single payer health care that costs little or nothing for the public, and that has helped most other nations achieve infant mortality rates far better than ours.

A British woman has been unable to join her husband in New Zealand because her B.M.I. (Body Mass Index) is too high. In short, she's overweight, and to a point, obese.

New Zealand has strict immigration laws around this sort of issue, because the country has universal health care and people such as Rowan Trezise, 33, and her husband Richie, 35, would be a burden to the health care system.

Richie has managed to lose enough weight to get in, but Rowan has not. If she doesn't lose it by Christmas, they're going to abandon the attempt to move.

Now, in terms of immigration, unless you've been asleep the last couple of years, you'll know that Bush has tried to push through immigration "reform," only to be stymied by his own party in Congress. Of course, my own personal feeling is the immigration "reform" Bush wants is really just another way to lower the wage cost to corporations, while helping out his friend Felipe Calderón in Mexico.

What I don't want to see is this New Zealand issue used as a serious excuse to stop universal health care in the United States. As we know, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care. Even Mexico is working on it. Does it mean that everyone else is wrong and we are right? What do you think, particularly when you look at the statistics and compare our longevity with that of other countries?

Vermin Found in Fox News Channel Newsroom

Reports indicate that vermin have been found in the Faux News Channel, or should I say, Fox News Channel, Newsroom. As much as I hate to admit it, I don't mean the Fox & Friends hosts, or anyone like Sean Hannity. They're bedbugs.

It's been widely reported that bedbugs, once nearly exterminated in the U.S., have made a big comeback, and are now a problem in all 50 states. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, hasn't escaped unscathed either.

So, most likely these 4 - 5 mm long blood-sucking parasites made their way into the newsroom and then, just like fleas would, got into the furniture / carpeting.

I would think these pests might feel very at home at Faux News, with the likes of other blood-suckers like Bill O'Reilly and the aforementioned Hannity.

Exterminators have been called, but these new bedbugs are resistant (which is how they made their comeback) and they might be hard to get rid of ... like Faux News.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Has to be the Worst Auto Dealership Name --- Ever

I think the picture above speaks for itself (click to enlarge). Now, my question is: what the heck were they thinking?

I looked around the site, in the FAQ and About sections of the site, hoping to find out that it was owned by the Menlove family, or something. But I couldn't find that info. I mean, it's in Utah; I would have expected, er, some objection to the name at least.

And that toll-free number? 1-877-MENLOVE? I mean, I kept thinking it had to be a joke, but it's linked to, an automotive dealer marketing site, so it can't be a joke.

On the other hand, maybe it really IS Menlove.

I'm wondering, also, if they get a bunch of crank calls every day.

If Barry Bonds Receives a Prison Sentence, Will Bush Commute It?

You remember, don't you? "Scooter" Libby gets a sentence of 30 months in prison, and Bush commutes his sentence. Remember also that Libby was charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, with regard to the Valerie Plame "outing."

Let's now consider Barry Bonds. He has been indicted on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice for his testimony about his use of steroids. Sounds familiar? Sure.

And after all, yesterday Bush spokesman Tony Fratto said,
"The president is very disappointed to hear this. As this case is now in the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for baseball.”
Yes, so if we are to heal, should Bush commute any sentence? Well, here are the differences:
  1. Bonds is not a crony of Bush
  2. Most people feel he's arrogant and dislike him. Even in the SF Bay Area, they feel he's arrogant, though some still like him.
  3. Neither side, liberal or conservative is going to be shouting for a pardon or commutation.
Really, this whole piece has been tongue-in-cheek, as despite my attempts at humor there's no chance Bush isn't going to commute Bonds' sentence. But it does bring up a good question: why exactly was it right to commute Libby's sentence?