January 2011 - Posts

Well…here's the feel-good story of the day…


It seems Archie and Edith are together again. In canine form, anyway.


Archie, a poodle-shih tzu mix, and Edith, a chihuahua-papillon mix, both 12 years old, have been together since they were puppies. When their owner went into a nursing home, both dogs were turned over to a New York animal shelter.


But alas, Archie's love was taken away. A woman came into the shelter supposedly to inquire about adopting Edith, but she wound up walking out with the dog under her coat. 


Archie was devastated. He didn't eat, sleep, play or rest. 


But using surveillance video footage, police were able to identify the woman and bring Edith back to the shelter. When the two dogs saw each other, they jumped all over each other and celebrated over a shared bowl of food.


But just being together wasn't enough. These two dogs were united in a civil ceremony at the shelter, making them, um, canine and wife.


Wonder if the government recognizes that kind of civil union.


Congratulations, Archie and Edith. May you never be separated again.

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A Canadian man got tired of having only peach fuzz on his man-face, and decided he'd do something about it.


Jeff Phillips, 31, of Toronto, has created what he calls the Beardo, a cold weather toque (knitted cap for those of us in the lower half of North America) with a detachable knitted beard. The beard is held on by Velcro, and can be removed or worn folded up inside the cap.


Apparently, Phillips had some sort of revelation while snowboarding, and he just came up with the idea. Customers have said they love the product, because it not only keeps the face warm, but it also doesn't cause people to freak out and call the cops like a ski mask can.


Phillips said he and his bald-faced friends can now have the experience of a real beard, without all that bothersome maintenance.


We can get past the weird factor that adult males actually purchase this thing and like it. What we can't get past is the fact that Phillips is going to include sizes for children in the expansion of his line. 


That bit of weirdness…we just can't shake.


Bunch of beardos.


You can view photos at www.beardowear.ca.




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Keith Olbermann and MSNBC have ended their mutual admiration society. Olbermann went out with a fizzle, and was silent for several days after his final show. He left the Twitterverse not posting, some said, at the request of MSNBC. It only added to the Olbermann mystique. He has since broken his silence.


Not since the days of Ed Murrow, we read somewhere, has there been a professional, that has actually demonstrated his qualifications – a person who has the journalistic chops as well as the mind, heart and courage needed to be a broadcast journalist. Olbermann was the host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," and ended each show with throwing his crumpled script at the camera, which shattered, a digital effect.


In 2003, Olbermann famously said his charge – for the show – was to stay out of the way of the news.


"News is news. We will not be screwing around with it. It will not be a show in which opinion and facts are juxtaposed so as to appear to be the same," he said of his then-new show. Each show featured the five top stories of the day, which included news reports from correspondents and interviews.


But the show was not without its comedic moments. Olbermann voiced puppets in a puppet theater for both the Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith trials.  He also presented goofy clips of people behaving like idiots in a segment called, "Let's Play Oddball!"


Each night he also picked the Worst Person in the World, giving that person a bronze (worse), a silver (worser) or gold (worst) medal.


What we liked about Olbermann as a broadcast journalist was that he presented the news in a language that could be understood by news audiences today. He utilized cultural references, knowing that news is what it is – it's very much about pop culture.


We don't believe that Olbermann is the new Murrow. But he is what Murrow might sound like today, changing with the times as any good journalist must. Let's face it, you can't report what you can't relate to.


Who knows what Olbermann will do next. But we an assure you, we'll be watching.

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"Let's get ready to rum-buuuuuuule!"


Did you hear it? That was the battle cry heard softly in the background as the president gave his State of the Union address. It appears Republicans, Tea Party members and others are getting ready for some good, old-fashioned "rasslin'."


The nation is currently facing a crushing burden of debt, and is on the path of sure economic disaster, without dramatic action to wrestle the budget deficit under control. The wrestling hold of choice is spending cuts, and those cuts must start immediately. 


Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first. After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks, we've all been screaming at the government – "Stop spending money we don't have!" 


But instead of cuts, we have seen an unprecedented explosion of government spending, the likes of which this country has never seen before.


In case you missed it, Obama spelled out his agenda in the State of the Union; an agenda that will boost spending another $20 billion and lead to higher taxes. Obama's speech hinted at tax reform and spending restraint, but it also opened the door to tax increases and major spending initiatives. 


Interspersed were also some encouraging words about a more efficient government, but little in the way of specifics about spending priorities. This should leave every taxpayer wondering whether the the federal budget deficit is headed upward or downward, and by how much.


In other words, the president bogarted the Tea Party's mantra of "fiscal conservatism," but he did so in order to push an agenda based on bigger spending.


You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth, Mr. President. You are either going to spend more of our money, or you're not.


Which is it going to be?

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Fitness guru Jack LaLanne died this week at the age of 96. He's remembered for being a fitness icon – and for his juicer. But there are other things he was remembered for as well.


• In 1956, at the age of 42, he did 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on the show "You Asked For It," setting a world record.


• In 1984, to mark his 70th birthday, LaLanne towed a flotilla of 70 rowboats during a mile-long swim in Long Beach, Calif. It took him about 2.5 hours, and some of the boats held passengers.


• At the age of 61, in 1975, LaLanne swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater while towing a 1,000-pound boat, with his hands and feet bound. He did it in 1954, sans the boat and restraints.


• While America was celebrating its 200th birthday in 1976, LaLanne, then 62, towed 13 aluminum skiffs, representing the 13 colonies, for a mile along the Long Beach Harbor. The skiffs contained 76 children, representing America's youth. His feet were bound and his hands were cuffed above his head so the swim would be a challenge.


• In 1974, at the age of 60, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco, handcuffed, shackled and with a 1,000-pound boat tied to a belt around his waist.


LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. It was likely the only time he ever experienced any kind of physical failure since his high school days. He was a successful businessman, having owned a string of gyms across the United States, and sold workout devices, vitamins and supplements, and authored several books. He was given a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 2002, and is seen by people the world over as an expert on physical fitness and health.


Mr. LaLanne, we raise our juice glasses to you. Rest in peace.

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Cornerback William Gay returned a fumble for a score Sunday, spurring Pittsburgh on to win the AFC championship with a 24-19 decision over the New York Jets.


The miscue by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was recovered by Gay, who ran it back 19 yards for a touchdown less than 2 minutes before halftime. The scoreboard showed a 24-0 lead for the Steelers, which the team held onto in the second half, although the Jets did rack up 19 points. 


The Steelers will now face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 in Arlington, Texas.


But the Steelers' win wasn't the biggest headline grabber of the night. Sanchez stole the spotlight when he was filmed picking his nose and wiping what he "mined" onto teammate Mark Brunell's jacket. 


It's probably not the most disgusting thing ever done on an NFL sideline, but it has got to rank pretty high up there. 


What's sad is that this was probably the high point of Sanchez's night.


Here's the video. Please…to enjoy.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imZiV6RJYtU

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Washington lawmakers are working behind the scenes to try and develop a way to let states declare bankruptcy, getting them out from under large debts. Currently, municipalities can declare bankruptcy while states, which are sovereign under the Constitution, cannot.


If this happens, it will only be a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout. It could also alter promises to retirees and provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. This will hurt retirees and damage markets. 


The idea is a bit wacky, if you ask us – allowing states to go back on promises made to workers, and contaminate the financial position of the entire state until the end of time. But believe it or not, the idea is gaining momentum.


This proposal is getting a lot of attention because of the depth of the recession. Many states have overwhelming deficits that must be solved right away. As a result, many states are raising taxes and cutting services. 


At issue, should the proposal become real, are the problems that it will create – namely the pension funds of those states that would declare bankruptcy. The shortfalls in pension funds are  huge, but with efforts like adjustments to employee/employer contributions and recipient benefits, pensions could be brought back in line. Without declaring bankruptcy.


The most potent issue is that of reducing benefits to the current population of retirees, as well as those working for cities and states currently. But to do so, states would have to break contracts already in place, which goes against the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. 


There is no easy way out of any of this, and bankruptcy is certainly not the answer. The hard work needs to be accomplished among state workers and their unions, and the legislators who shaped the pension plans. Allowing state bankruptcy on pension grounds would turn the whole issue over to federal judges, who would decide what benefits are preserved and cut, and how large contributions should be. And that would lead to a federal bailout.


State legislatures need to take a long, hard look at what they've created, and repair what they have done, rather than dump the problem into the lap of the federal courts and, ultimately, U.S. taxpayers.

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One of the weirdest things we've seen yet on eBay – Thinking Putty. You can pick up 1 pound of this stuff, in iridescent green, for less than $20.  But what the heck is this goo?


We've never heard of the stuff, but apparently, you can buy it online or you can purchase it in retail stores nationwide. The story goes like this, the creator of Thinking Putty, dubbed "Crazy Aaron," first discovered an adult love of all things putty when he worked as a Web designer in the late 1990s. He talked some coworkers into order a very large shipment of putty and, as the story goes, they all played with it and watched their troubles melt away. 


Believe it or not, Aaron began to sell putty by the pound from his desk at the office, and he developed a way to add color and other special attributes. The product is made today by people with special needs in Philadelphia's suburbs. Thinking Putty is now available in a variety of colors and clear tones, with magnetic, heat sensitive and color shifting capabilities.


What exactly, does one do with a glob of Aaron's putty? Well…according to his Web site, you can make it crackle, shoot it from a gun or potato cannon, hang it from the ceiling and watch it slowly move downward, you can make art with it, fill it with air like a balloon, tear it or shatter it. You can also use the magnetic one with magnets for even more fun. And that's not even scratching the surface. 


One of the most interesting tidbits we found on puttyworld.com was a little experiment conducted by Crazy Aaron himself. He raised a really good point and in so doing, pointed out  clear application for this stuff that will appeal to criminals everywhere.


Biometric authentication is the stuff of futuristic dreams. We see it on television and in the movies. A spy steps up to a secret lab door, has his hand and eye scanned, and boom, the door opens and he's in. Biometrics could do away with passwords, keys and ID cards. You'd be simply identified with your voice, face or fingerprint.


But what if someone could duplicate your fingerprint? If someone steals your password, you can change it. If they steal your credit card or keys, you cancel the card and change the locks. But if they steal your fingerprint, there's nothing you can do. You can't change it.


By now you're thinking, "How in the world could someone steal your fingerprint?"


If they just happen to have some Thinking Putty, it would be easy-peasy. Just let someone play with the putty, and then once they've left behind their fingerprints in the putty, pour some stiff gelatin (kind of like a gummi candy) into the area. Put it in the fridge to solidify and voila! You've got someone's fingerprint.


While Thinking Putty may be fun for office play, we're thinking it might be a good idea to not leave it lying around once you're done. 


You never know who's been trying to get into secret labs.

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Paper beats rock. And, apparently, stun gun beats sword.


A man in Indiana was taken down by a police officer using a stun gun after the man refused to evacuate his smoke-filled house – or drop the sword he was hiding. 


According to reports, Peter Thompson, 50, set his house on fire and when officers arrived, he was hiding a sword behind his back and refused to leave his home. Thompson was subdued by the stun gun, and charges of criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement are pending.


He's in jail. His home suffered smoke and water damage.


In other blade-related news, a 10-year-old boy in Utah stabbed his mother after she jumped on his case about not doing his chores.


The mother, who received minor wounds, was treated and released from the hospital. 


The boy is currently on restriction.

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If you've ever spent any time online at all, you've no doubt run into the daily collection of humorous pictures of cats, combined with misspelled captions, that has become known as www.icanhascheezburger.com. 


In fact, someone in your office is probably sneaking a look at today's offering, and muffling gut-wrenching giggles right now. 


But did you know that this is not a new phenomenon? A British photographer in the 1870s created a series of photographs, in which he posed cats in various situations and added amusing text.


The first image on I Can Has Cheezburger? was posted on Jan. 11, 2007, and was supposedly from the Something Awful Web site. It featured a gray cat requesting, no surprise, a cheeseburger.


Eric Nakagawa was between jobs when he first saw the photo of the gray cat. He found it inexplicably funny, and on a whim, he and a friend created the I Can Has Cheezburger? site. Something about the site struck a chord with viewers, and the rest is history.


The simple site has become the center of the LOLcats phenomenon, a booming online culture built around digital images and deliberately bad grammar. The formula is simple: take a funny photo of your cat and place a caption, preferably misspelled, on top of it. Submit it and if it's deemed funny enough, you can become part of the cheezburger nation.


Only nine months after launching the site, there were around a half-million page views each day. Now they're talking about breaking a billion. 


So the guy who was out of a job now just looks at pictures of cats all day, and posts the funniest ones on his Web site. 


Life jest isn't fairz.


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If you've done any clicking around on the Internet in the past year or so, you've no doubt seen advertisements for e-cigarettes, touted as a safe replacement for regular cigarettes. But just what are they?


Most electronic cigarettes look like regular cigarettes or cigars, while a few look more like pens. They are battery operated, and create their effect by vaporizing nicotine, which is dissolved in a solution of water and propylene glycol (like what's used in fog machines). The result is something that feels like smoke in the mouth and lungs, without involving any real smoke, tobacco or combustion. The "fog" dissipates rapidly, and leaves little scent in the air or on clothing.


E-cigarette smoking is almost identical to cigarette smoking. The big difference is that the e-cigarette is always lit. Most of them have an LED at the end that lights up like a cigarette when you draw on it. You can put it down or pick it up without worrying about burning anything. It is on only when you actually draw on it. How much you smoke is related to how many puffs you desire, rather than on the length of the cigarette.


When you purchase a kit, it will include the battery, smoking tube and cartridges, which may or may not  be flavored. These cartridges will also have high, low or no levels or nicotine. The kit may also contain a recharger for the battery, and will include an atomizer and instructions. 


Experts argue on both sides whether e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Some say they are safer, saying that if they are 10 times as harmful as smokeless tobacco, they are still only about 1/10th as harmful as smoking. 


The facts are this: there is no burning of any plant matter, so the combustion-related carcinogens are no longer present. Nicotine is still present in most cases, and the effects of the long-term use of propylene glycol is uncertain. There are also questions about handling liquid nicotine. In its liquid form, nicotine is quite dangerous, and any spills to the skin should be immediately wash off. It should also never be ingested. 


There is no proof yet as to their safety, but there is concern regarding quality control of their production, since most are produced in China. 


Opponents to e-cigarettes say they are not a solution to quit smoking, since they merely replace one vice with another. There is also criticism that the flavors offered – chocolate, strawberry and coffee – could lure children to purchase them. Opponents also point to the fact that the Federal Drug Administration has yet to approve them, because e-cigarettes are considered to be a dangerous method to quit smoking due to the liquids used.


So to summarize, the claimed advantages include:

• No tobacco, no tar

• No smoke produced

• Reduces second-hand smoke

• E-cigs contain about five ingredients, whereas real cigarettes contain about 4,000 chemicals and 43 carcinogens, as well as nicotine


Proven facts about e-cigarettes:

• No clinical studies about the long-term effects

• Evidence thus far shows them to be just as harmful as cigarettes

• No FDA approval

• Could worsen, not improve, a smoker's habit, since it's by the "puff" and not the length of the cigarette

• Some of the ingredients cause gastrointestinal irritation and even brain damage


No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, one thing does seem clear: When it comes to smoking either cigarettes or e-cigarettes, it's still a case of choose your vice.

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Somebody up there is playing one mean game of Angry Birds.


In recent weeks, there's been several reports of dead birds just dropping from the sky in various parts of the world. And now we can add Romania to that list. 


Dead birds have been found in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. More fell from the skies in Sweden and Italy. And now birds in Romania have reportedly died from drinking water containing alcohol residue. Some veterinary officials in Romania said, however, that the birds died after eating grape pulp left over from wine making.


And on top of that, millions of dead fish and crabs have been found in the U.S., Brazil, New Zealand and England. 


While some have joked that the deaths are apocalyptic, others have taken the animal deaths as a sign of the Great Tribulation, a 3.5-year period that, according to the Bible, will include a rash of death, famine, war and political confusion. Before the Tribulation, according to the prophecy, there will be an increase in animal deaths, natural disasters, earthquakes and floods.


There are currently floods raging through parts of Brazil and Australia, by the way.


And get this: last May, a plague of frogs descended on a motorway in Greece, causing accidents and blocking the road for hours. Officials said the frogs were just looking for food. 


Last summer, authorities in China fought massive swarms of locusts, which destroyed thousands of acres of grass and farmlands.  Authorities there blamed the weather.


We don't know for sure what's up with all the dead wildlife, the crazy bugs and frogs, and the flooding. We're not sure what it means, if it means anything. 


We are sure, however, that we all need bigger umbrellas.

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Everyone knows Jimmy Fallon is a comedic genius. Fallon is a stand up comedian, television host, actor and musician, who hails originally from Brooklyn, N.Y. He's currently hosting his own late night show, but he's probably best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, where he created several memorable characters. 

He also made impersonation of celebrities into an art form on SNL, impersonating such famous folk as French Stewart, Pat O'Brien, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Jeff Foxworthy, Eddie Murphy and Hilary Swank. His recurring characters on the show included Jarret, a stoner with his own Web show; Nick Burns, a sarcastic IT guy; and Sully, one of the Boston Teens.

Fallon also hosted SNL's Weekend Update with Tina Fey. He left the show in 2004.

He is known for his observational comedy, political satire and his musical parodies. The dude is funny.
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Florida has been cheated. Every state in the country, including Hawaii, has gotten snow. The Sunshine State is the only one that hasn't experienced any of the white fluffy stuff. And a lot of those states aren't done yet.


The Northeast region of the US of A hunkered down today as another blizzard blanketed the area. Blizzard conditions created hazardous conditions for travelers and residents, who are dealing with wind-driven snow, clogged roads and dangerous driving conditions. The heaviest snowfall totals were forecast to top a foot across southern New England and northward to Portsmouth, N.H. 


Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already declared a state of emergency in New York City, and flights at all three of New York's major airports were cancelled yesterday, continuing through this afternoon.


A major winter storm barreled through the Southeast Monday, leaving ice and snow in areas that don't normally see such weather. Travel has come to a grinding halt, and school closings have been frequent. Heavy snow and freezing rain caused major problems from Texas to the Virginias, and power outages were reported throughout the South. Some areas received as much as 7 inches of snow, and it hasn't begun to melt yet, as temperatures are still at or below freezing in many areas.


So. Florida is the only state that hasn't had any snow. So sad. The one state that rarely gets to see any is the one state that is deprived. 


Life is so unfair.

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If you Google the words " butt dial" you'll get more than 2 million responses. Who'd have thunk it?


Since the advent of touch screen phones, butt dialing has been an ongoing problem. And for emergency responders in Toronto, Canada, it's a real issue. Apparently, these guys get about 300 calls to 911 each day from people who mistakenly call the number when they sit on their cell phones.


The calls account for about 10 percent of the total number of emergency calls the city gets each day, and it ties up each operator who receives one of the posterior mistakes several minutes for each call. 


Toronto's not the only city dealing with the problem. SWAT teams swarmed a Chicago-area school earlier this month – all because of a butt dial.


SWAT team members donned riot gear and went to the Winnetka, Ill. school because a school employee, who apparently is a fan of rap music, spooked his wife. The man was listening to the music in his car, when his phone accidentally dialed his wife. She called the police after hearing the lyrics, which caused her to think her husband was being held hostage. 


The SWAT team searched the school for three hours, thinking there was a gunman present, but didn't find a thing. The man was later found safe at home.


Geez. Anybody ever hear of a lock button?

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