Friday, October 30, 2009

Of course Houdini's ghost would carry chains.

​ If the most famous magician in history were to come back from the dead as a publicity-related favor for any group or organization, it would probably be the skeptics.

Harry Houdini spent most of his career debunking psychics and scamsters, convincing the world that these people are frauds--not worth the price of admission. He was so dedicated to this end that, nearing his death, he told his wife a secret word and said that if returning from the great beyond were possible he would come back to her with that word.

Since his death on Halloween in 1926, there have been a number of seances held in the Houdini museum and elsewhere, each aimed at summoning the magnificent mystifyer. Most of these rituals are performed by kooks and hucksters (as James Randi says, "woo-woo"). But now a group of local skeptics--with help from some big-name celebrities--are gonna give it a try themselves.

​"If he was going to come back for anyone, it would probably be skeptics and magicians like us," says Justin Robert Young, who runs weirdthings.com, which will be streaming the seance live. The ritual will also stream on randi.org (The James Randi Educational Foundation site) and itricks.com (another site operated by Young and a friend).

Famous atheist Richard Dawkins and hushed magician Teller (as in Penn & Teller) have committed to helping out by providing new secret words, says Young. "It should be a fun exercise and maybe we can coax Houdini out of whatever netherrelm he's been hiding in," he says.

Young says this event won't just be skeptics mocking the silly believers (I'm sure there'll be at least a little of that), but rather a chance for the skeptic community to perform a large experiment. "The focus won't be, 'Oh hey, here's a lot of silly crazy things and they're all wrong and we're so smart.' We're publically keeping our fingers crossed that we're the first people Houdini contacts."

The ritual will be overseen by the master of debunking himself, James Randi. And the proceedings will be open to the public. There will be rehearsals at the JREF headquarters in Fort Lauderdale on Friday and Saturday afternoon and then the real deal Saturday night--all Hallow's Eve. Young says anyone who wants to help out can email him at justinrobertyoung@gmail.com.

By the way, Houdini's wife eventually gave up on the prospects of her husband returning and told people their secret word. It was: "Believe."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well, Folks, we knew this Recession would end some day. Today is that day. But few of USa feel it.

News Alert from The Wall Street Journal
----------------------------

U.S. gross domestic product rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.5% annual rate from July through September, the Commerce Department reported in its first estimate of third-quarter economic activity. Economists had forecast 3.2% growth.

The economy's growth was the first since the second quarter of 2008 and serves as an unofficial confirmation that the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression has ended.

The GDP gain was driven by consumer spending, which rose by 3.4%. Economists said the massive stimulus injected by the U.S. government, such as the cash for clunkers program, helped boost consumer spending.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125681908931715735.html?mod=djemalertNEWS

In other news:
The yacht belonging to a British couple feared kidnapped by Somali pirates has been found empty. Paul and Rachel Chandler, aged 59 and 55, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, sent a distress signal on Friday from the Indian Ocean.


Americans are growing increasingly pessimistic about the economy after a mild upswing of attitudes in September. But Republicans haven't been able to profit politically from the economic gloom, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

The survey found a country in a decidedly negative mood, nearly a year after the election of President Obama. For the first time during the Obama presidency, a majority of Americans sees the country as being on the wrong track.

Fifty-eight percent of those polled say the economic slide still has a ways to go, up from 52% in September and back to the level of pessimism expressed in July. Only 29% said the economy had "pretty much hit bottom," down from 35% last month.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125667589615011225.html?mod=djemalertNEWS

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Instead of creating NEW designs for our coin collectors... Let's save the money on minting and pay for healthcare for USa.










I am sure that a "penny here, and a nickel there" might make a significant difference in the cost of providing national healthcare.

1) Cost of Minting the coins.

2) Cost of Future Minting of coins.

3) Swedish Rounding would be captured as a NEW Healthcare TAX, collected when the purchase is rounded up from a nickel to a dime difference, and repaid to the citizen when it rounds down on the 4 cent mark.

4) Retailers can re-price accordingly and new software will stimulate the domestic market for programming updates.

How much?

Here is a guess: If we eat 40,000,000,000 hamburgers a year in the USA and buy 4.5 billion t-shirts as well, then we simply multiple 5 times 44.5 billion and divide by 100 = $2.23 billion.

Here is another guess: If we generate

You might need to do with educated guesses. Although retail stores keep record of their retail transactions, there is no national collective data that I know of. You may use info of how many credit card transactions as an input into making educated guesses, but there's also cash transactions and other types, so I would suggest the basic approach as follows:

let
a = Type of shop in North America where retail transactions happen
a0 = How many shops of type a are there in North America
a1 = How many transactions on average per week day are made in each of these shops
a2 = How many transactions on average per weekend day are made in each of these shops

Number of retail transactions that happen in a day (averaged over a week) in North America is thus:

a0*(a1+a2)/7 + b0*(b1+b2)/7 + c0*(c1+c2)/7 ...







WASHINGTON — The next time someone offers you a penny for your thoughts, you might want to take them up on it.
For the first time in U.S. history, the cost of manufacturing both a penny and a nickel is more than the 1-cent and 5-cent values of the coins themselves. Skyrocketing metals prices are behind the increase, the U.S. Mint said in a letter to members of Congress last week.

The Mint estimates it will cost 1.23 cents per penny and 5.73 cents per nickel this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The cost of producing a penny has risen 27% in the last year, while nickel manufacturing costs have risen 19%.

BACKGROUND:A brief history of the penny

The estimates take into account rising metals prices as well as processing, labor and transportation costs. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel alone is a little more than 5 cents. The metal in a penny, however, is still worth less than a penny.

"Higher zinc, copper and nickel prices are raising the production costs of the nation's coinage," the Mint said in the letter, which it provided to USA TODAY Tuesday.

Metals prices have been soaring this year as a strong economy worldwide has led to an increase in demand. The prices of metals used in coins are all rising: Zinc is up 76% this year, copper is up 68%, and nickel is up 42%, according to the London Metal Exchange.

But consumers should not hoard coins or melt down the change in their kids' piggy banks, says Michael Helmar, an economist and metals analyst at Moody's Economy.com. He says the process of melting the coins, separating out the metals, then selling would be costly and time-consuming.

"If they were made out of gold, sure," he says. But "there are just too many other costs."

The Mint is one of the few government agencies that makes a profit.

Swedish Solution to Funding National Healthcare - Kick out the Penny and Nickel Coins....






“With each new penny and nickel we issue, we increase the national debt by almost as much as the coin is worth.” - Edmund Moy, Director of the U.S. Mint.


http://blog.lukascoaching.com/2009/04/how-much-does-your-penny-cost.html

I find it interesting that it costs the U.S. Mint (and ultimately the tax payers) 1.5 cents to create a penny and nearly 9 cents to manufacture a nickel.

Copper prices have risen but the mint seems to be rooted in the mindset that says “but this is always the way things have been done.” Steel just happens to be a metal, that if used to manufacture pennies, could save up to $100,000,000 annually. Due to a shortage of copper during World War II the U.S. actually used steel to make pennies. That year was 1943.

I help individuals and businesses who are struggling nearly every day, doing things the way they’ve always been done, afraid to try something new. In the current Business Coaching Group that I’m leading, I pointed out on the very first day that the economy has changed. Regardless of the economy changing however, it’s important to point out that the market, and thus our reality, has changed so we must be doing things different, regardless of the economy.

The bottom line is this... If you’re doing the same things now that you were doing at this time last year, you’re getting left behind. Broaden your horizons. Try new strategies and ideas. Be open to change; after all, without change we wouldn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing and we’d all be riding horses and buggies. I bet the guy manufacturing horse whips down the street from Ford Motor Company in their early years had wished he embraced change instead of remaining rooted in his current reality.

Posted by Justin Lukasavige at 10:38 AM

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tā moko - Kiwi Maori Facial Tatoos... this one reminded me of one of my grandmothers... fiesty, but she dipped snuff.






"Tā moko is the permanent body and face marking by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is distinct from tattoo and tatau in that the skin was carved by uhi (chisels) rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nothing New is the U.S.A.

News Alert from The Wall Street Journal
----------------------------
Iraqi authorities said the death toll from two massive bombings in central Bagdad has risen to at least 136 people -- the deadliest attack of the year. The blasts, which targeted municipal government buildings, triggered a fresh wave of introspection about how such large-scale bombings targeting key government offices could happen amid beefed up security.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125645983124706251.html?mod=djemalertNEWS

________________
Looks like things have not changed much in the world at large... back in the U.S.A. soon.
Freddallas

Five KIWI Facts:

1) National Healthcare for everyone.
2) Everyone is REQUIRED to vote or be fined.
3) Gasoline is $6,50 a gallon but sold at $1.60 a liter... NZ Dollar is almost equal to US dollar (80 cents in US pennies)
4) New Zealand has given up pennies and nickels for the Swedish Rounding System of exchange. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_rounding )
Rounding with 10c intervals is currently used in New Zealand, which eliminated its 5 cent coin in 2006:
-round down to the nearest 10 cent value for sales ending in 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c and 5c;
-round up to the nearest 10 cent value for sales ending in 6c, 7c, 8c, 9c;
It is up to the business to decide if they will round 5c intervals up or down.
The majority of retailers follow government advice and round it down.[1]

In the People's Republic of China, coins smaller than Ұ0.10 are now rare though still valid. As a result, many shops simply truncate their bills down to the next Ұ0.10 increment, giving the customer a discount of up to Ұ0.09.
5) Native New Zealand weather is getting colder and native species are still declining....

________________

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where is Freddallas?

http://www.fred.org.nz/


http://maps.google.com/maps?source=ig&hl=en&q=christchurch+new+zealand&ie=UTF8&gl=us&ei=73LSSt2RFYXgNcrekZQD&ved=0CBAQ8gEwAA&hq=&hnear=Christchurch,+New+Zealand&z=14
14-10-09 October 14

Landed in ChristChurch (The Garden City of New Zealand) and picked up a Ford Falcon (I did not know that Ford still made a Falcon...) off to Te Anau (Walking Captital of New Zealand). Deb has blown out her knees so I don't think we will be walking much this trip. Since I am not carrying electronics, don't expect another posting any time soon.



http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Te+Anau+New+Zealand&sll=-43.531637,172.636645&sspn=8.155362,15.292969&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Te+Anau,+New+Zealand&ll=-45.415081,167.718137&spn=3.948663,7.646484&z=7


http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Arrowtown+New+Zealand&sll=-45.413876,167.717285&sspn=3.756112,7.646484&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Arrowtown,+New+Zealand&ll=-44.952165,168.833771&spn=1.990363,3.823242&z=8

That week went by fast. I am still missing Tuesday.

Arrived by car in one piece, with the car in good shape as well, in Arrow Town. Lots of Fiord photes and pitures of sheep to be posted later. Beautiful country and weather for this trip. Here for a couple of days . I think it is Monday, start of the last week in NZ.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Auckland+New+Zealand&sll=-42.130821,168.662109&sspn=15.865944,30.585938&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Auckland,+New+Zealand&ll=-36.848238,174.765701&spn=0.035166,0.059738&z=14

Returned the car in Queenstown and hopped a plane to Christchurch, so I am here for four days and then back to the States. Oh, how the Kiwi did not like President . They are simply NOT SURE of President Obama... seems to be the leading question of chance meetings with people. South Island is truly Paradise for me... cool weather making it possible ro walk or trek just about anywhere. Language is not a bariaer (sp) to doing Stuff. Unfortunately, the US Dollar and the NZ Dollar are almost EQUAL in value and not the traditional 60 cents that made NZ and Canada so much alike. Travel costs to get here are HIGH. With a weak US dollar and high transport costs, New Zealand and Australia are moving into the trading orbit of Chinia, not the US and Europe. Paradise might never again be in my budget, but I will not forget this place on Earth.

Pictures will come later. Hope all is well with you and yours.

Freddallas
Christchurch, NZ
Tuesday, 18-10-09 as the rest of the world notes 10-18-09.

Why the Canadian System works as a Single Payer Plan... it is not socialized medicine.

A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare - Los Angeles Times: "

The caricature of 'socialized medicine' is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.

By Michael M. Rachlis

August 03, 2009

Universal health insurance is on the American policy agenda for the fifth time since World War II. In the 1960s, the U.S. chose public coverage for only the elderly and the very poor, while Canada opted for a universal program for hospitals and physicians' services. As a policy analyst, I know there are lessons to be learned from studying the effect of different approaches in similar jurisdictions. But, as a Canadian with lots of American friends and relatives, I am saddened that Americans seem incapable of learning them."

Our countries are joined at the hip. We peacefully share a continent, a British heritage of representative government and now ownership of GM. And, until 50 years ago, we had similar health systems, healthcare costs and vital statistics.

The U.S.' and Canada's different health insurance decisions make up the world's largest health policy experiment. And the results?

On coverage, all Canadians have insurance for hospital and physician services. There are no deductibles or co-pays. Most provinces also provide coverage for programs for home care, long-term care, pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment, although there are co-pays.

On the U.S. side, 46 million people have no insurance, millions are underinsured and healthcare bills bankrupt more than 1 million Americans every year.

Lesson No. 1: A single-payer system would eliminate most U.S. coverage problems.

On costs, Canada spends 10% of its economy on healthcare; the U.S. spends 16%. The extra 6% of GDP amounts to more than $800 billion per year. The spending gap between the two nations is almost entirely because of higher overhead. Canadians don't need thousands of actuaries to set premiums or thousands of lawyers to deny care. Even the U.S. Medicare program has 80% to 90% lower administrative costs than private Medicare Advantage policies. And providers and suppliers can't charge as much when they have to deal with a single payer.

Lessons No. 2 and 3: Single-payer systems reduce duplicative administrative costs and can negotiate lower prices.

Because most of the difference in spending is for non-patient care, Canadians actually get more of most services. We see the doctor more often and take more drugs. We even have more lung transplant surgery. We do get less heart surgery, but not so much less that we are any more likely to die of heart attacks. And we now live nearly three years longer, and our infant mortality is 20% lower.

Lesson No. 4: Single-payer plans can deliver the goods because their funding goes to services, not overhead.

The Canadian system does have its problems, and these also provide important lessons. Notwithstanding a few well-publicized and misleading cases, Canadians needing urgent care get immediate treatment. But we do wait too long for much elective care, including appointments with family doctors and specialists and selected surgical procedures. We also do a poor job managing chronic disease.

However, according to the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, both the American and the Canadian systems fare badly in these areas. In fact, an April U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that U.S. emergency room wait times have increased, and patients who should be seen immediately are now waiting an average of 28 minutes. The GAO has also raised concerns about two- to four-month waiting times for mammograms.

On closer examination, most of these problems have little to do with public insurance or even overall resources. Despite the delays, the GAO said there is enough mammogram capacity.

These problems are largely caused by our shared politico-cultural barriers to quality of care. In 19th century North America, doctors waged a campaign against quacks and snake-oil salesmen and attained a legislative monopoly on medical practice. In return, they promised to set and enforce standards of practice. By and large, it didn't happen. And perverse incentives like fee-for-service make things even worse.

Using techniques like those championed by the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, providers can eliminate most delays. In Hamilton, Ontario, 17 psychiatrists have linked up with 100 family doctors and 80 social workers to offer some of the world's best access to mental health services. And in Toronto, simple process improvements mean you can now get your hip assessed in one week and get a new one, if you need it, within a month.

Lesson No. 5: Canadian healthcare delivery problems have nothing to do with our single-payer system and can be fixed by re-engineering for quality.

U.S. health policy would be miles ahead if policymakers could learn these lessons. But they seem less interested in Canada's, or any other nation's, experience than ever. Why?

American democracy runs on money. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies have the fuel. Analysts see hundreds of billions of premiums wasted on overhead that could fund care for the uninsured. But industry executives and shareholders see bonuses and dividends.

Compounding the confusion is traditional American ignorance of what happens north of the border, which makes it easy to mislead people. Boilerplate anti-government rhetoric does the same. The U.S. media, legislators and even presidents have claimed that our "socialized" system doesn't let us choose our own doctors. In fact, Canadians have free choice of physicians. It's Americans these days who are restricted to "in-plan" doctors.

Unfortunately, many Americans won't get to hear the straight goods because vested interests are promoting a caricature of the Canadian experience.

Michael M. Rachlis is a physician, health policy analyst and author in Toronto.

This American Life did a one hour radio show on why the costs of American Healthcare are rising so fast for USa....




An hour explaining the American health care system, specifically, why it is that costs keep rising. One story looks at the doctors, one at the patients and one at the insurance industry.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If you don't have HBO or have not heard about this series, you might want to check it out.... sure are lots of vampire series this year on TV/Cable.



video

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize


Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize:
President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.
Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT. The White House had no immediate comment on the announcement, which took the administration by surprise."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hitler had fillings made from gold torn from mouths of Jews - Telegraph


Hitler had fillings made from gold torn from mouths of Jews - Telegraph:

"The theory is based on a newly discovered document that shows Hitler's dentist had about 11lbs of dental gold from the concentration camps at his disposal for the treatment of senior Nazis. Co-author Henrik Eberle, a historian who has written several successful books on the Nazi leader, said dentist Hugo Blaschke had put 10 fillings in Hitler's mouth in 1944."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hospitals Find Way to Make Care Cheaper -- Make It Better - WSJ.com

Hospitals Find Way to Make Care Cheaper -- Make It Better - WSJ.com:

"Be it cereal or cars, buyers usually have an idea of how good the products are and how much they cost before they buy them.
That's not how U.S. health care works. Patients rarely know which hospitals offer top-quality lung or aortic surgery, and which are more likely to harm them. Hospitals don't compete on price and rarely publish measurements of their quality, if they measure it at all.
Except in Pennsylvania. For two decades, a state agency has published 'medical outcomes' -- death and complication rates -- from more than 50 types of treatments and surgery at hospitals. The state has found that publishing results can prompt hospitals to improve, and that good medical treatment is often less expensive than bad care."

Glut of Natural Gas? Cheaper Electric Generation and Home Heating ... Less Pollution.

America's glut of natural gas weighs on prices and the prospects for drillers. But surely all that extra supply helps big customers like independent power producers?

Reality is more nuanced. Electricity prices are set by the last generating plant to be switched on. In most U.S. markets, that generator burns natural gas. That makes the revenue of all merchant generators highly susceptible to gas prices. For those that actually burn gas, falling prices also reduce input costs, offering protection for margins. For those burning coal, margins are squeezed.

The overhang of newly developed gas resources at home, as well as expanding capacity to ship liquefied natural gas to the U.S. from overseas, could keep gas prices trading in a range of $4 to $7 per million British thermal units well into the next decade.

In one sense, that is good for all independent power producers. They were set up to expand as more states deregulated electricity markets. Stable prices could help open the door to further deregulation.

Then again, future growth opportunities are of questionable value in a sector struggling already with average net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, of 4.1 times. And a new reality of moderate, calm gas prices carries significant risks to profitability.

The biggest risk is for coal-fired generators. Consider an unhedged plant burning coal in a market where an older gas-fired plant sets the electricity price. Assume gas costs $8 per million BTUs and coal $50 a ton. The gas-fired plant has to burn 10 million BTUs of gas to make one megawatt hour of electricity, giving total fuel costs of $80 per megawatt hour. If you add in some operating expenses and a return, then the price of electricity set by the marginal generator is about $90 per megawatt hour.

The coal plant's costs, meanwhile, come to about $33, leaving a gross margin of more than $55 per megawatt hour.

Now plug in a gas price of $5. Even if coal costs fall to $40 per ton, the coal plant's margin is cut almost in half. Then add in an eventual cost for carbon emissions. At $20 per ton, it lifts the electricity price overall. But because burning coal emits almost twice as much carbon dioxide as gas, the coal plant's implied margin is now about $20 per megawatt hour.

There is an added complication. Industrial demand for electricity, 29% of the market, was down 12.5% from a year earlier in July, according to the Department of Energy. Andy DeVries of CreditSights points out that removing that amount of demand obviates the need to run older gas-fired plants, leaving more efficient power plants to set the market price instead. Based on the simple model described above, a power plant burning only seven million BTUs of $5 gas sets an electricity price of about $41 per megawatt hour. That cuts the coal-fired producer's margin to about $13. Factor in a carbon cost, and they make a loss.

Gas-fired generators don't do so well either in such a weak market. But they do at least enjoy a hedge in the form of lower fuel and carbon costs. Of the independent power producers, Calpine stands out with efficient gas-fired plants accounting for more than four-fifths of its portfolio. Against that, its net debt to Ebitda is 5.3 times. Mirant, in contrast, carries less than one times Ebitda in net debt. But it has the oldest fleet of plants of any independent producer and relies heavily on coal.

The independent producers are relatively new and their stocks tend to trade together. In their short lives, they have faced crises involving Enron and California, and several bankruptcies. With further dislocations stemming from the natural-gas market and climate-change proposals looming, investors need to be far more selective.

Write to Liam Denning at liam.denning@wsj.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page C10

Fire insurance marks - When do we expect taxes for government services?


Fire insurance marks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Fire insurance marks were lead or copper plaques embossed with the sign of the insurance company, and placed on the front of the insured building as a guide to the insurance company's fire brigade. They are common in the older areas of Britain's and America's cities and larger towns. They were used on the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the days before municipal fire services were formed[1]. The UK marks are called 'Fire insurance plaques' the first to use the mark was the Sun Fire Office before 1700.[2]

American Fire Marks
Fire Insurance has over 200 years of history in America. Famous fires include the Chicago fire of 1871 and the San Francisco earthquake and resulting fire of 1906. The early fire marks of Benjamin Franklin's time can still be seen on some Philadelphia buildings as well as in other older American cities. Subscribers paid fire fighting companies in advance for fire protection and in exchange would receive a fire mark to attach to their building. The payments for the fire marks supported the fire fighting companies. If the protected building were to suffer a fire, only their fire fighting company would attend the call to extinguish the fire. Even if competitor fire companies were closer to the fire they would not do anything to prevent further damage or extinguish the fire. This brought the fire mark system into disrepute. Municipal and rural fire departments support by local taxation became the more popular solution."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Street Magic!

Watch this Japanese illusionist/street magician at work.
Apparently he's a young guy who disguises himself as an elderly man.

http://www.break.com/usercontent/2006/11/Japanese-Street-Magician-185215.html

Back on Uncle Sam's Plantation: My sister might not have read between the lines of this piece.

Back on Uncle Sam's plantation
Star Parker - Syndicated Columnist

http://townhall.com/columnists/StarParker/2009/02/09/back_on_uncle_sams_plantation

Product Description

America has two economic systems: capitalism for the rich and socialism for the poor. This double-minded approach seems to keep the poor enslaved to poverty while the rich get richer. Let's face it, despite its $400 billion price tag, welfare isn't working. The solution, asserts Star Parker, is a faith-based, not state-sponsored, plan. In Uncle Sam's Plantation, she offers five simple yet profound steps that will allow the nation's poor to go from entitlement and slavery to empowerment and freedom. Parker shares her own amazing journey up from the lower rungs of the economic system and addresses the importance of extending the free market system to this neglected group of people. Emphasizing personal initiative, faith, and responsibility, she walks readers toward releasing the hold poverty has over their lives.


Touching on Sex and the City, Snoop Dogg, the National Organization for Women, stem-cell research and "the It's-Natural-To-Be-Gay movement," born-again Parker decries the "radicalized progressive liberalism that has pervaded Middle America and usurped the authority of our founding fathers" in her indictment of all things not hard-line Christian that posits the suburbs are just as rife with immorality as the inner-city. Parker discusses "sexual pandemonium," the dissolution of the traditional family and the concepts of the insanity plea and hate crime (not the existence of the crimes, but the existence of the concept) in an effort to discover "why so many obvious areas of moral breakdown exist throughout the country." No matter what the perceived malady, the cure is simple: the moral alignment of all with Judeo Christian values. Parker may mean well, but her shallow critique will turn off anyone not already in her camp.






Six years ago I wrote a book called Uncle Sam's Plantation. I wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the welfare state and my own transformation out of it.

I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas -- a poor America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.

I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps.

A vast sea of perhaps well-intentioned government programs, all initially set into motion in the 1960s by Democrats, that were going to lift the nation's poor out of poverty.

A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched mindsets from "How do I take care of myself?" to "What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?"

Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems -- the kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others.

The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families.

Through God's grace, I found my way out. It was then that I understood what freedom meant and how great this country is.

I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996 which was passed by a Republican controlled Congress.

I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth-producing American capitalism.

But, incredibly, we are now going in the opposite direction.

Instead of poor America on socialism becoming more like rich American on capitalism, rich America on capitalism is becoming like poor America on socialism.

Uncle Sam has welcomed our banks onto the plantation and they have said, "Thank you, Suh."

Now, instead of thinking about what creative things need to be done to serve customers, they are thinking about what they have to tell Massah in order to get their cash.

There is some kind of irony that this is all happening under our first black president on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Worse, socialism seems to be the element of our new young president. And maybe even more troubling, our corporate executives seem happy to move onto the plantation.

In an op-Ed on the opinion page of the Washington Post, Mr. Obama is clear that the goal of his trillion dollar spending plan is much more than short term economic stimulus.

"This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, healthcare, and education."

Perhaps more incredibly, Obama seems to think that government taking over an economy is a new idea. Or that massive growth in government can take place "with unprecedented transparency and accountability."

Yes, sir, we heard it from Jimmy Carter when he created the Department of Energy, the Synfuels Corporation, and the Department of Education.

Or how about the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 -- The War on Poverty -- which President Johnson said "...does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done. It charts a new course. It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty."

Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single-parent homes and out-of-wedlock births.

It's not complicated. Americans can accept Barack Obama's invitation to move onto the plantation. Or they can choose personal responsibility and freedom.

Does anyone really need to think about what the choice should be?

"The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."
TRUER WORDS WERE NEVER SPOKEN !

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Dallas Morning News covered this story but I forgot the link to the Willingham's execution for Arson related deaths... "smoking gun" ?


The head of a Texas anti-death penalty group has accused that state's governor of scuttling an investigation into a possible wrongful execution for political reasons.

"[Texas Governor Rick] Perry saw the writing on the wall," Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network, told CNN. "He moved to cover that up."

The "writing on the wall" Cobb was referring to was the investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission into the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death in 2004 for the 1991 arson deaths of his three daughters.

Forensic investigations done since Willingham's conviction have found no evidence of arson. Nonetheless, Perry refused to grant Willingham a stay of execution in 2004, even though credible questions had already been raised about Willingham's guilt.

On Wednesday, Gov. Perry ordered the removal of three members of the forensics commission, and instituted a "political ally," as CNN described him, to head the committee. That ally is reported to have ordered the investigation into Willingham's execution delayed indefinitely, saying he "couldn't begin to guess" when the commission would reconvene.

As CNN's Randi Kaye noted, since Willingham's conviction, "three forensic investigations found there was no evidence of arson. None."

What's more, as RAW STORY reported in August, Gov. Perry was informed before Willingham's execution that the claim of arson made by fire officials and the prosecution in the 1991 trial was likely unfounded.

Put together, those facts may make Gov. Perry "the first governor in history to preside over the death of [a known] innocent man," CNN stated in a report aired Friday.

"Critics suggest he's trying to delay or maybe even derail the state's own investigation" into the Willingham case, CNN's Kaye stated. And the reasons for it may be quite obvious: The commission's final report would likely have arrived weeks before the primary gubernatorial election Perry faces next year.

Asked about the removal of the three commissioners, Perry stated: "Those individuals' terms were up, so we replaced them. There's nothing out of the ordinary there."

But, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes, some of those removed had already had their terms renewed.

CNN's Kaye noted that Perry "declined to make the time for an interview" for its report.

ACLU: 'EXTREMELY SUSPICIOUS' TIMING

"Gov. Perry said that the change was 'business as usual,'" the ACLU wrote on its blog Friday. "Unfortunately, his words ring all too true. Willingham is not the first likely innocent person executed by the State of Texas. Others include Carlos De Luna and Ruben Cantu. But the state has never acknowledged any of these tragic mistakes. Business as usual, all right."

The ACLU statement described the governor's timing for the removal of the three commissioners as "extremely suspicious, to say the least."

But some observers have gone further. Glenn W. Smith at FireDogLake states that Gov. Perry may have violated federal law when he shut down the investigation into Willingham's execution.

Smith argues Perry could be prosecuted under USC.18.1001, which makes it a crime for anyone "in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States" to "falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact."

The federal statute applies, Smith argues, because Texas takes money from the federal government for its justice system, and the funding guidelines refer to the law directly.

"If firing three members of the commission and bringing to a screaming halt an investigation and hearing about the execution of an innocent man is not a trick to cover up material facts, nothing is," Smith wrote.

The following video was broadcast on CNN's AC 360 on Friday, Oct. 2. 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9KQuDAKiz4

Friday, October 2, 2009

Adolf Hitler's skull - THE WEEK

Adolf Hitler's skull - THE WEEK: "'The histories of Hitler's death may need to be rewritten,' said Uki Goni in Britain's The Guardian. Soviet intelligence preserved a bullet-punctured skull fragment dug up in the charred remains of Adolf Hitler's bunker as proof that the Nazi leader killed himself as the Soviet army entered Berlin at the end of World War II. But Uni versity of Connecticut bone specialist Nick Bellantoni says he has tested a DNA sample from the skull—and it belonged to a 30-something woman.

Cue the conspiracy theorists, said Tom Chivers in Britain's Telegraph. 'Rumors of Hitler’s survival have been widespread for years,' and Bellantoni's bombshell should give even the 'strangest theories' new life. Among them: Hitler fled Germany on a 'ghost convoy' to Argentina, or he fled to Antarctica in a U-boat. Here's where 'Hitler conspiracy theories lose touch with reality altogether'—some say he used secret rocket technology to fly to a Nazi base on the moon.

The people rushing to embrace the idea that Adolf Hitler didn't really kill himself in his bunker, said Duncan Riley in The Inquisitr, would delight 'the deluded mind of Josef Stalin, who didn’t accept that Hitler had died and dispatched a second mission in 1946 that looked for evidence to back up the suicide story.' But it's important to remember that 'this latest revelation doesn’t prove the story of Hitler’s suicide is false, all it proves is that the Red Army basically f---ed up' and never collected Hitler's skull fragment in the first place."

Ardi and the human family tree - THE WEEK looks more closely at the newest member of our family tree.....

Ardi and the human family tree - THE WEEK:

"Move over, “Lucy,” said Larry Dignan in ZDNet. The “fabled” 3.2 million-year-old fossil was “bumped” out of “science’s limelight” Thursday by Ardi—or Ardipithecus ramidus—an earlier human ancestor from Ethiopia’s Afar desert, dating back 4.4 million years. Ardi and her peers represent a middle stage in human evolution, which, surprisingly, was “more modern” than today’s apes and chimpanzees.

That’s important, because for a long time evolutionary biologists thought of chimps as “time machines,” said Joel Achenbach in The Washington Post, or a view into what our common ancestor with apes looked like. But Ardi would be a step back for both humans and chimps, a “sort of hybrid” hominid who mostly lived in trees but also walked upright—“if the scientists are correct,” that is. “Human origins is a field with high stakes and small bones.”

And the bones to this “new alleged missing link” were so fragmented and delicate, said Casey Luskin in the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News & Views, that it took the team of scientists and “reconstructionists” 15 years to put Ardi together. So pardon my “initial reaction of skepticism” to their “Rosetta stone”–level claims.

There’s room for skepticism about whether Ardi was a biped, said Jamie Shreeve in National Geographic, but not about her importance to the field of human evolution. Assuming Ardi did walk on two legs, though, there’s a “provocative theory” as to why: sex.

In that scenario, males shifted from fighting each other for mates to a “‘food for sex’ contract” model in which they earned sex by bringing home food—and you need free hands to carry food.

FD: Note that the pelvis was not in good shape and now there are sceptics that think that Arti was not all that UP RIGHT in posture. Part of the arguement is in her feet! However, the teeth are very telling and put Arti on our limb of the tree of life.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Elderly Moving Against Obamacare - Leave my Medicare Alone!


Elderly Moving Against Obamacare:
By: Dick Morris & Eileen McGann

America's elderly are finally realizing that President Barack Obama's healthcare changes are largely financed by cuts in Medicare and are rallying against his proposals in increasing numbers.
The latest poll by Scott Rasmussen not only shows national opposition to Obamacare rising — now it is 41 percent to 56 percent against — but also shows the elderly moving against it even more strongly by 33-59 or almost 2-1."

Decision Tree for Solving the Toyota Floormat Problem until your car is recalled....or, you can just remove the driver's floormats.


Eye of a Needle Art Forms - Buzz Aldrin


Major Miniaturist Makes Art That Comes With Its Own Microscope - WSJ.com: "Mr. Wigan, a 52-year-old Briton, is dyslexic and did poorly in school. Even today, he can barely read or write. Yet, he creates some of the smallest sculptures in the world, relying on nothing more than a scalpel and a microscope to see what he's carving.
His entire piece of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon fits on the head of a pin. His Statue of Liberty is made from a speck of gold. A recent carving of the Obama family is mounted inside the eye of a needle. Mr. Wigan says he used an eyelash to insert the president into the right slot. Mr. Wigan has made about 160 of these sculptures."

X Ray and R Rated views of Arti






Story Highlights

•Researchers have unveiled a 4.4 million-year-old skeleton of a hominid female

•The fossil, nicknamed Ardi, may be the oldest hominid skeleton ever found

•It replaces Lucy, a much-publicized skeleton that dates back about 3 million years

•Scientists: Ardi suggests humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor

ardipithecus ramidus · Ardi ... Lucy move over...


After 15 years of rumors, researchers in the U.S. and Ethiopia on Thursday made public fossils from a 4.4-million-year-old human forebearer they say reveals that our earliest ancestors were more modern than scholars assumed and deepens the evolutionary gulf separating humankind from today's apes and chimpanzees.

The highlight of the extensive fossil trove is a female skeleton a million years older than the iconic bones of Lucy, the primitive female figure that has long symbolized humankind's beginnings.

An international research team led by paleoanthropologist Tim White at the University of California, Berkeley, unveiled remains from 36 males, females and young of an ancient prehuman species called Ardipithecus ramidus, unearthed in the Awash region of Ethiopia since 1994. The creatures take their scientific name from the word for root in the local Afar language.

"It is not a chimp and it is not human," said Dr. White. "It gives us a new perspective on our origins."

Already, the discoveries have experts reworking the human pedigree. "They are extraordinary fossils," said anthropologist Alan Walker at Pennsylvania State University, who wasn't part of the project. They undoubtedly will shape debates about human origins for years to come, as scholars argue whether these creatures should be counted among our most ancient direct ancestors or cataloged as an intriguing dead-end.

"There are going to be generations of dissertations based on this," said Carol Ward, an independent expert on ancient anatomy at the University of Missouri Columbia.

Documented in 11 research papers to be published Friday in the journal Science, the fossils offer a detailed look at a species of sturdy, small-brained creatures that dwelled in an ancient African glade of hackberry, fig and palm trees, by a river that long ago turned to stone. Despite their antiquity, their bodies were already starting to presage humanity, the scientists said.

Indeed, unlike apes and chimps, they had supple wrists, strong thumbs, flexible fingers and power-grip palms shaped to grasp objects like sticks and stones firmly. They were primed for tool use, even though it would be another two million years or so before our ancestors began to fashion the first stone blades, choppers and axes.

But they were still evolving the ability to walk upright, with a big toe better suited for grasping branches than stepping smartly along, an analysis of their anatomy shows. They made their home in the woods, not on the open savannah grasslands long considered the main arena of human development. Yet their upright posture, distinctive pelvis and other toes suggest they walked easily enough. Most importantly, they showed no sign they walked on their knuckles, as contemporary chimps and apes do.

"They are not what one would have predicted," said anthropologist Bernard Wood at George Washington University. Although the differences between humans, apes and chimps today are legion, we all shared a common ancestor six million years or so ago. These fossils suggest that creature–still undiscovered--resembled a chimp much less than researchers have always believed.

In fact, so many traits in chimps and apes today are missing in these early hominids that researchers now question the notion that modern chimps and apes embody vestiges of our primate past, retaining primitive traits once shared by our ancestors. "We all thought the ancestral animal would look more like a chimp," explained Yale University anthropologist Andrew Hill.

Instead, the new finds show that what seems most ancient about nonhuman primates today–such as canine fangs, long limbs with hooked fingers meant for swinging through trees and hands designed for knuckle-walking--may actually be the product of more recent development, the researchers said.

"It is the chimps and gorillas that have been evolving like crazy in terms of limbs and locomotion, not hominids," said Kent State University anthropologist Owen Lovejoy, a senior scientist on the research team. "We took a different tack. We went social."

The project began with the discovery of a single tooth. But it soon grew into arguably the most comprehensive effort in the field of hominid studies, involving 47 scientists world-wide, as scores of unusually fragile and shattered specimens emerged from the rock. The skull, for example, was in so many pieces it had to be reconstructed digitally, requiring hundreds of CAT scans and 1,000 hours of computer processing. The pelvis alone took six years to reconstruct.

"We took enormous flak" for spending so much time analyzing the fossils, said Dr. Lovejoy. "We wanted to get it right and people had to wait until it was right.'

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at sciencejournal@wsj.com