Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Green Tea Helps Kill Cancer Cells

(Rochester, Minnesota) Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that green tea has a compound that helps kill leukemia cells. I love good news.
John Kerry - Hugging Trees Since 1970

Last December, the League of Conservation Voters, the powerful environmental lobby group, published a report that rated the presidential candidates according to their pro-environment record. Here's a summary of John Kerry's environmental profile.
Senator Kerry is one of America 's premier environmental leaders. His voting record has earned him the highest lifetime LCV ranking of all the presidential candidates, and he has taken a leadership role in promoting higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, combating attempts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and in overturning efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act. On a range of domestic issues - from clean air to clean water to public lands - Kerry has repeatedly staked out pro-environment positions. His record on international issues is equally distinguished: he sponsored legislation to incorporate environmental protections into trade negotiations and has participated in international climate change negotiations beginning at the 1992 Earth Summit and extending through Kyoto. [Emphasis mine]
Based upon his profile, against drilling the ANWR and for the Kyoto Accords, it would seem that global warming and tree hugging are the major considerations whenever Kerry makes a decision. And, it's been that way since he helped organize the first Earth Day in 1970.

It has to be mentioned that the environmental agenda Kerry believes in is fundamentally anti-business and, therefore, would have a negative impact on the economy and a resultant loss of jobs. So, his promises of job growth during a Kerry presidency are mere fantasy.

Companion post at eTALKINGHEAD.
Google to Offer Free Email Service

According to this story, ubiquitous search engine Google will soon launch a free email service to compete with Yahoo! and Microsoft. Called "GMail," the service will provide 1 gigabyte of free storage capacity and will allow keyword searches of all emails sent or received using Google.

Sign me up.
Today's Demographic Estimate

Twenty percent of the adult population of the United States is familiar with the following telephone number.
No taxpayer dollars were used in obtaining this information.
Kerry Vows to Appoint Salmon Czar

Here's a story from the Idaho Statesman which reports on one of John Kerry's lesser known campaign promises.
Sen. John Kerry would appoint a salmon czar who would answer directly to him and his vice president if he's elected president.
I'm particularly fond of catfish myself and there should definitely be a place set for the beef and pork czar. The Cracker Barrel Philosopher already has dibs on the chicken and biscuits throne.

Of course, Kerry's got to get elected first.
Two Deputies Killed

(Millerton, PA) While serving a warrant for a minor charge in this small town not far from Elmira, New York, two sheriff's deputies were shot to death.
Two of three people at the spot where the shootings occurred were taken into custody. One escaped and a gun belonging to one of the deputies was missing, said Skip Roupp, director of the Bradford County emergency operations center.
I hate these stories.
Teen Girls Escape from Juvenile Jail

(Indianapolis, Indiana) Five girls, ranging in age from 16 to 18, escaped from the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility Monday night. Officials provided no names nor descriptions, but two of them are rumored to be real cupcakes.

The girls were incarcerated for mostly nonviolent crimes such as theft, illegal consumption and operating a vehicle without a license. They are not considered dangerous, and authorities have been notified in each of their home counties.

Trackback to Beltway Traffic Jam at OTB.
Little Red Wagons

(Chicago, Illinois) Mayor Richard Daley expressed disappointment when he heard that Radio Flyer Inc. was moving its manufacturing operations to China to reduce cost. The headquarters and distribution business will remain in Chicago while the local manufacturing plant will close, laying off half of its 90 workers. In the future, all Radio Flyer scooters, tricycles, and little red wagons will display a "Made in China" sticker.
Weekly Linkfests

Wizbang is pinch host for the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Admiral Quixote's Roundtable has the Carnival of the Capitalists.

Eric Berlin uses the John Kerry font in the title of his presentation of the Carnival of the Vanities.

Rocket Jones had to get out of his sick bed to give us the BestOfMe Symphony. Get well, Rocket!
World Court Rules Against the United States

(The Hague, Netherlands) The people who want the United States to be subservient to the United Nations will be happy with this story. The International Court of Justice, known as the World Court, has ruled that the laws of the United States have violated the rights of 47 Mexicans on death row and ordered the cases to be reviewed. The United Nations' highest judiciary ruled in a case filed in Mexico that the convicted murderers had not received their right to assistance from their government.
"The U.S. should provide by means of its own choosing meaningful review of the conviction and sentence" of the Mexicans, presiding judge Shi Jiuyong said.
It appears now that state judiciaries and the US Supreme Court no longer have the final say on cases involving foreign nationals. All court decisions can now be appealed to the World Court. Mexican lawyers want to start the legal processes all over again, a new trial.

Juan Manuel Gomez said that Mexico "wants to make sure its citizens aren't abused by a foreign legal system they don't always understand." Bizarre statement since it's generally recognized that Mexico doesn't do a great job of protecting its citizens from abuse when they're in Mexico.

Let's review. Mexicans sneak into the US and are called 'undocumented immigrants' by the media and are given free health care, education, and other benefits. After they commit a capital crime and are condemned to death, they all of a sudden become Mexicans and receive legal recourse to the World Court.

Just ducky.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Infant Tests Positive for Marijuana

(Norwalk, Ohio) This story is most disturbing. Chandra Nopper, 28, and Christopher Pool, 21, have been arrested and charged with child endangering after their one-year-old son tested positive for marijuana.
According to testimony, the grandparents were baby-sitting the child on March 26 when they noticed he was unusually quiet and his eyes appeared abnormal.

When the boy was removed from a high chair, he staggered and fell to the floor while attempting to walk.

The grandparents took him to a hospital emergency room where he tested positive for THC, a component of marijuana, said court Administrator Chris Mushett.
My take is disgust.
Much Sex Makes Smart

This story (translated by Google) from German sex researcher Werner Habermehl is interesting, amusing, and supports a belief I've had my whole life. Sex makes a person smarter.
Regular Sex Makes Allegedly Smart After Scientific Realizations
Thus it means in one on Friday published message of the university magazine "Unicum Campus." How that implemented Hamburg Sexualfor Werner Habermehl in the magazine, the hormones adrenalin and Cortisol produced with the dear act energize the brain. The "luck materials" Endorphin and Serotonin paid during the Orgasmus strengthened besides the self-confident its - in such a way the body psychologically and physically in high form one bring.
So, there you have it. The luck materials strengthen the brain.

Hat tip: Wizbang
Liberal Talk-Radio Network

Attention, readers! Set your alarms and program your radio dials. Tomorrow morning, the America Left radio network starts broadcasting in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in addition to the XM Satellite Radio system. America Left is produced by Air America Radio based in New York and will feature pearls of liberalism from Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and others. Interestingly, it doesn't appear that Mr. Franken intends to focus on entertaining his audience.
"My first priority is to get sued by a right-wing jerk in order to generate interest in my new show," Mr. Franken said in a statement earlier this year.
My take is that it would be hard for Mr. Franken to dispute the contention that his singular goal is to insult or injure people to the extent that it prompts a lawsuit. I can't speak for any conservative talk-radio hosts, but I don't think any have a similar goal. Also, lawsuits may generate interest but, without entertainment, there is little likelihood of capturing and keeping an audience.
SCOTUS Considers Cruelty of Execution

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing an appeal of the case of the humaneness of executing David Larry Nelson by lethal injection. As a long-time drug user, Nelson's veins are so damaged it may not be possible to start an intravenous line without making deep cuts into flesh and muscle. The appeal contends that execution in this manner would be unconstitutionally cruel. According to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,
A group of doctors had said in court papers that if done improperly, the procedure could cause Nelson to hemorrhage badly and suffer heart problems before the deadly drugs kill him. [Emphasis mine.]
Somehow, somebody thinks that the resolution of this "cruelty" case is worth paying truckloads of taxpayer dollars to lawyers while taking up the valuable time of the Supreme Court.

I don't.

Companion Post at eTALKINGHEAD.

If Wal-Mart were a distinct economy, it would be ranked 30th in the world, right behind Saudi Arabia. Given its success, the progress and plans of Wal-Mart should be monitored by all prudent and engaged students of capitalism. Bruce Upbin helps with this report from Forbes magazine. Here's an excerpt:
The Wal-Martization of the world is changing commerce around the planet, for good and ill. By importing so many goods from low-wage countries like China, it eliminates manufacturing jobs and depresses wage growth in the U.S.--and has the same effect in any country where it achieves significant density. But by selling goods for less, Wal-Mart raises living standards. It will create 800,000 jobs worldwide over the next several years, not to mention the labor needed to build the stores, parking lots and distribution centers. Yin and yang.
It's a good overview.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Goat Hoarding

(Corinth, Vermont) There is an increasing awareness in society that animal hoarding is caused by a complex psychological disorder. The behavior is generally exhibited by elderly unmarried women collecting cats, but not always. This story is an exception to the general rule. Chris Weathersbee, 63, a Buddhist, keeps roughly 300 goats.
Weathersbee's in deep manure - literally. Several of the floors in his house are covered by a mix of goat droppings and hay, packed down by the 70 or so goats Weathersbee allows to live in the house with him.
The behavior is dangerous because it doesn't take long before a public health hazard is created and, across the nation, state and local governments are slowly writing laws to protect the public.

Seventy goats in the house! Sheesh!
Environmental Injustice

(Honolulu, Hawaii) It's hard to keep up on the new political concepts created by the eco-crowd in society since it happens so regularly. Environmental injustice is newly anointed and, according to this story, is the condition where a landfill is closer to one person's home than it is to another home. Actually, it seems to be a simple renaming of the NIMBY (not in my back yard) principle.

Nevertheless, the residents of the Waianae coast of Oahu are claiming "environmental injustice" because their neighborhood is the home of the island's only landfill and they've vowed that they will physically block trash trucks from entering their streets to prevent the city from opening a new landfill.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I can't imagine the authorities allowing trash to accumulate anywhere on the island for very long. Given the tropical climate, any pile of garbage can become a public health hazard in a very short time.
Bias - Subtle But Unmistakable

Pop quiz time. Where's the bias in this story?
Infant struck, killed by SUV in garage

March 28, 2004 � Police in suburban Naperville are investigating the death of an infant, killed while sitting in a stroller in his own garage.

Officers say an SUV apparently hit the six-month-old in the two-car garage Saturday afternoon.

Emergency crews rushed the baby to the hospital where he died.
No charges yet, but police are seeking witnesses.

As written, the gas-guzzling, environmentally-unfriendly SUV has to be charged since it killed the infant. Of course, had an electric car run over the baby, I'm certain that the story wouldn't mention it.
Disabled Fisherman Dies

Here's an unusual story from the Chicago Tribune (free reg.),
A 76-year-old North Side man who was fishing on a pier at Montrose Harbor died Sunday after his motorized wheelchair propelled him into Lake Michigan, police said.

Duong Le, of the 900 block of West Lakeside Place, was sitting in the wheelchair and fishing with friends about noon when he and the wheelchair somehow fell into the water, according to Chicago police spokesman Matthew Jackson and the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Without unreasonable exaggeration, this incident creates a dilemma for the nanny-state do-gooders. Who to blame? Should they express outrage and file suit for compensation from the chair manufacturer for not warning of the dangers of fishing while in a wheelchair? Should they demand that laws be passed to require all fisherman to wear life vests? Should there be reserved fishing spots with tethers and chocks specifically designated for the wheelchair bound fisherman?

Don't be surprised if a floating wheelchair shows up in the marketplace soon.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Searches Without Warrants

(New Orleans, Louisiana) In an 11-4 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that police officers no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a protective sweep of your home or business. The court's majority opinion (Docket No. 02-30629, dtd. 3/24/04) piggybacks onto a previous decision that allowed police to do protective searches on the basis of having an arrest warrant. Dissenting judges referred to it as the "Road to Hell."

Thanks to Zombyboy at Resurrection Song for pointing me to this story and I share in his disappointment in the decision. My concern is that it appears way too loosey-goosey, leaving society wide open to unwarranted searches. So, unless there's a reversal, chalk up another exception to what's left of the Fourth Amendment.
NASA Jet X-43A

The test of the NASA X-43A scramjet included a Pegasus rocket boost and resulted in a speed of 5,000 miles per hour. It was considered a success.

My take is that placing a rocket on a passenger's rear and shooting him at 5,000MPH into the Pacific Ocean will not cause people to run to the ticket office.
Dollar Stores Gain Respect

A couple months ago, a post on this blog discussed the popularity and rapid growth of dollar stores and concluded that they have found an enduring and comfortable corner in the American marketplace. Dollar Tree more than doubled in size in the last four years to 2,500 stores. Family Dollar Stores expanded 10 percent last year and now has over 5,000 stores. Dollar General Corp. operates more than 6,800 stores and plans more than 600 this year. Expect Dollar Stores to be successful despite whether the economy is slow or robust.

Interestingly, major consumer product manufacturers are now taking notice. According to this story, Procter & Gamble Co., Clorox Co., and Dial Corp. are creating special packages of name brand items to fit the dollar price point. Examples are:
Dollar Tree now gets a regular supply of Procter & Gamble's Comet cleanser in a specially shrunken 11-ounce pack that it sells for a dollar. Clorox, maker of bleach and other household products, has designed Armor All Car Wash Wipes in packages containing a few wipes to be sold at the chain for a buck.
Now that consumer goods will be targeted for sale through Dollar Stores, one has to expect even more rapid growth of the market sector. And, the consumer comes up the winner via increased product availability and lower prices.


Saturday, March 27, 2004

Chinese Auto Market

There is a booming demand for automobiles in China and it is not being satisfied even though domestic production and foreign imports are skyrocketing. And, Detroit auto makers take notice when vehicle sales soar with fat profit margins.

Since the end of 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, import tariffs on automobiles have dropped from the 70 to 80 percent range to around 40 percent prompting auto makers to ship as many cars as is allowed by the quota system. At the same time, the quota system quantities have increased to more than 180,000 units this year from 120,000 units last year. According to Vice-Minister of Commerce Wei Jianguo, the protections to the domestic car industry provided by the quota system will cease by the end of 2004 to satisfy the requirements for entry into the WTO. Additionally, the tariff rate on imported automobiles will decrease to 25 percent by 7/1/06.

There has been an explosion of growth in imported vehicles despite the fact that the government has instituted policies to drive foreign auto makers to speed up investment and production in China. Driven by the policies, new joint foreign and Chinese ventures and strategic alliances have been formed. Auto makers from all over the world have business deals with Chinese companies to manufacture new models. Some examples are:
The new models produced in China over the past two years included Toyota's Vios and Land Cruiser, BMW 3 and 5 series, Volkswagen's Polo and Golf, Audi A4, Nissan Sunny, Ford Mondeo, General Motors' Excelle, Citroen's Xsara, Honda's Accord and Fit and Hyundai's Sonata.
It's generally understood by foreign auto makers that they can have a foothold in the Chinese market through production of vehicles rather than importation.

Along with the sale and use of automobiles comes the demand for service and replacement parts and companies are lining up for their chance at the Chinese market. Detroit-based Delphi, the world's leading parts supplier, saw sales surge 50 percent in 2003 to $650 million. Although it relies primarily on the local market, Delphi China is already exporting automotive components to Europe and the United States.

Other auto component production companies are aggressively working to cash in on the booming Chinese market. The German firm Bosch entered into a joint venture with Weifu High Technology Company to produce fuel injector systems, and US-based Visteon moved its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Japan to Shanghai where it is negotiating with Dongfeng Motor Corp. to produce components.

At present, Bosch, Delphi, and Visteon are barely noticeable in the market which boasts more than 4,000 Chinese component manufacturers. Although numerous, the Chinese component producers are ill-prepared to support the exploding automobile production.

Trying to fully explain the extent and meaning of the growth in the Chinese auto industry is ambitious for a blog post, so consider this only a short and incomplete introduction. There are too many things happening in too many places too quickly to adequately cover the subject. Suffice it to state that anyone involved in any business related to the automotive industry should keep a close eye on events in China.
PETA Terrorizes Children, Again!

(Norfolk, Virginia) Without stretching the truth, the latest plan of the extremists at PETA is simply a form of terrorism.
Starting next month, Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to hand out "Buckets of Blood" to children outside KFC restaurants and at schools near the restaurants.

[ ... ]

The 5-inch-tall, red-and-white striped containers mimic KFC's buckets. But instead of fried chicken, each is filled with items including a bag of fake blood and bones, a bloodied plastic chicken and a cardboard caricature of a blood-spattered Colonel Sanders holding a butcher knife toward a terrified-looking chicken.
This latest scheme follows the ugly anti-fur campaign targeting children last Christmas. At holiday performances of The Nutcracker, PETA passed out fliers to little children which included:
. . . a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. The fliers urge kids to "ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes.

"And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy - she's an animal killer."
I can't believe that these actions don't leave some children psychologically scarred and, on that basis, I would like to see somebody take PETA to court and sue them into bankruptcy. It seems unlikely that a jury would side with PETA in a case where children are harmed.

In other PETA news, Ozguru reports that they're going after the commercial rabbit industry in Australia. Rabbits are considered pests, being a scourge on crops and the natural environment. They're vermin. Of course, in the US, the PETA crowd has always had a fondness for vermin. Over the years, they've frequently "rescued" lab rats, mice, weasels and other animals by releasing them to the environment.

In Germany, the PETA crowd had a setback in their campaign to portray victims of the holocaust as farm animals. They distributed posters that showed "juxtaposed images of emaciated concentration camp victims with lines of caged chickens." The court ordered a stop. Meryl Yourish puts the issue in better perspective.

In closing, I have to mention that every time I hear of PETA, I think of a group of people with an extreme obsession with vermin and farm animals. And, frankly, among the three, PETA, vermin, and farm animals, I sometimes get confused as to which is which.

Companion post at eTALKINGHEAD

Friday, March 26, 2004

Today's Expert Health Advice

(Innsbruck, Austria) According to this story, Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, an Austrian lung specialist, is advocating a new and unconventional method of bolstering the human immune system. He is urging adoption of a new approach to nose-picking.
"With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner.

"And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system.

"Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine."
Dr. Bischinger wants all parents to aggressively encourage their children to pick their noses and eat the greenies. Parents should do it also. If adults are concerned about what their friends will think, "they could still enjoy picking their nose in private if they still wanted to get the benefits it offered."

You just can't beat free medical advice. Thanks a lot, Doc.

[Update] Nick Genes at Blogborygmi writes on developments in medicine and provides some research details on nose-picking as a harmless habit and a psychiatric disorder. Take a look.
Law Proposed for Animal Restraints in Vehicles

(Santa Fe, New Mexico) A while back, I predicted that some politician with too much time would try to put pets in seat belts. Accordingly, Santa Fe City Councilor Karen Heldmeyer proposed just such a law. According to a report on, pet owners will have the following options.
A "pet safety sitter" ($13.69 to $21.69) that straps Fido's chest to the seat.

A restraint with a loop that attaches to a seat belt.

"Pickup tie-outs" that attach to Muttley's collar to keep it from jumping out of a pickup's bed.

A little booster seat so Puff can see out the window.
However, after this was reported, Councilor Heldmeyer backtracked and stated that she only wanted the law to apply to pickup trucks. Specifically, an animal carried in a truck bed "shall be crated or restrained upon a nonmetal mat so it cannot fall or jump from the truck or be strangled."

You know, Santa Fe sits about 7,000 feet above sea level with thin air and oxygen deprivation has been proven to affect rational thought. Maybe Councilor Heldmeyer should occasionally come down off the mountain.
Catherine Bosley Back on Web

(Cincinnati, Ohio) Last week, a part of the restraining order on showing Catherine Bosley's nude photos on the Internet was lifted due to a settlement agreement with two websites. The remaining dozen or so web venues were still a under court order from U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin to not show the images.

Yesterday, however, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the order blocking Internet sites from showing images of the former television newswoman doing an impromptu nude dance. It was stated that freedom of speech issues must be resolved.
Chicago, We Have A Problem!

Contrary to the 80,000 homeless estimate provided by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, a census conducted between midnight and 3AM yesterday by hundreds of volunteer counters and city employees resulted in a count of 958 people living on Chicago's streets. Therefore, over 79,000 homeless people are missing. Or, they don't exist.

In addressing homeless populations, Interested-Participant previously discussed The Second Law of Homelessness, which is:
Homeless advocacy groups will exaggerate the number of homeless people by a significant factor. There are no qualms about overestimations of 1000 percent.
Based upon the Chicago census of its homeless, The Second Law of Homelessness is supported by empirical data, however, the level of exaggeration by the homeless advocacy groups is grossly underestimated.

Since the advocacy groups use the population numbers when they beg and boo-hoo for funding, the census in Chicago has to be considered bad news. If it becomes common knowledge that they create fantastic exaggerations, funding sources will disappear. And, they should.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Party Time!

(Plano, Texas) Thanks go to keen-eyed Venomous Kate for passing this item along. If you're the partying type of person and find your calendar is not full, Audrey Thompson is the person to contact. She's an oncology nurse that throws Saturday morning bashes at the Medical Center of Plano, uh..., for colonoscopies. About a dozen or so can be expected to show up for the happy occasion,
"I hate to say this, but we have so much fun," said Thompson, an assistant nurse manager at Medical City of Plano.
Apparently, all necessary party hats, noisemakers, music, and refreshments are provided free. So, everyone, join in and have some fun.

On a serious note, I realize the importance of colonoscopy screening, but, for the life of me, I can't see anything that would make it fun.
GMAC Customers' Personal Data in Stolen Laptop

On Jan. 26, two laptop computers containing 200,000 customers' names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, credit scores, marital status, and gender were stolen from a locked vehicle at an Atlanta regional office. A division of GMAC Financial Services has been quietly informing its customers that they are vulnerable to identity theft. The stolen computers were password-protected but lacked encryption.

Great! I guess people don't have enough things to worry about. The incompetent morons responsible should lose their jobs over this incident. And somebody should explain why the problem has been hidden for the last two months. For the company to "quietly inform" its customers has to be considered less than aggressive corrective action. Looks to me like the company kept everything secret while hoping the problem would just go away. Dramatic and painful corrective measures are warranted to preclude any recurrence.
Proposed NFL Rule Changes

National Football League owners and the NFL Competition Committee will meet next week in Palm Beach, Florida, to discuss and possibly approve several changes in the NFL Rulebook. Proposed changes include:
- Addition of a 15-yard penalty to the rulebook for players who indulge in premeditated bits of showmanship in groups of two or more.

- Making instant replay a permanent part of the game, if 24 of the 36 owners agree.

- Expanding the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14.
Stay tuned.
Today's Health Alarm - Fructose

According to Dr. George A. Bray, a longtime obesity scientist with Louisiana State University System's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, studies show that fructose is "coincidental with the epidemic of obesity."

Obesity scientist?
Richard Simmons Slaps Man Silly

(Phoenix, AZ) While waiting for a flight at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport, popular exercise guru Richard Simmons was cited for misdemeanor assault for slapping a fellow traveler.
The man "made the off-hand comment, 'Hey everybody. It's Richard Simmons. Let's drop our bags and rock to the '50s,'" said Phoenix police Sgt. Tom Osborne. "Mr. Simmons took exception to it and walked over to the other passenger and apparently slapped him in the face."
Ooh! He must have been sooo... mad.
Recording Biz Files More Lawsuits

(Los Angeles, CA) The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has started focusing their legal assault on computer users swapping music files over university networks. On Tuesday, the RIAA filed "John Doe" complaints to sue 89 individuals using university computer networks in ten states.
With the "John Doe" lawsuits, the recording industry must work through the courts to find out the identities of the defendants, which at the outset are identified only by the numeric Internet protocol addresses assigned to computers online.

The defendants, which the trade group claims offered "substantial amounts" of music files, face potential civil penalties or settlements that could cost them thousands of dollars. Settlements in previous cases have averaged $3,000 each.
Additionally, 443 lawsuits were filed against users on commercial Internet access providers in five states. With the recent filings, the recording industry has now sued almost 2,000 people for online music piracy, with approximately 400 settling out of court.

So far, the RIAA legal assault seems to be primarily a public relations ploy since $3,000 settlements are probably not substantial enough to do anything more than pay their legal bills, if that. It does, however, remind the public, along with institutions, that piracy is illegal and may help in mitigating the extent of the piracy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Natel King Found Murdered, Photographer Charged

Adult film actress Natel King, 23, known professionally as Taylor Sumers, the Sexy Canadian, was found dead in a ravine above the Schuylkill River in Whitemarsh Township west of Philadelphia. Photographer Anthony J. Frederick has been charged with killing her by slashing her throat. Frederick's assistant, Jennifer Mitkus, 29, was also arrested and charged with lying to police and hindering apprehension.

Details of this murder are grisly and sordid. Customarily, I wouldn't report on it, however, I think the Internet will be partially implicated in abetting the crime. For that reason, I think this case is worth watching as it plays out.
Free Land Offer

What a great country! Ten communities in the state of Kansas are offering free land to attract residents to boost school enrollment, expand the tax base, and encourage business. One of the towns, less than an hour from Wichita, is Marquette, where:
The land giveaway began last May, after the town bought 50 acres of farmland and divided it into 80 building lots, valued around $8,000 each. So far, 21 lots have been handed out, all but one of them to newcomers.
Included with the land are the streets, water and sewer service, all financed by the town. Follow the link for information on other communities.
Turn Around - Another Public Health Crisis

According to the American School Food Service Association (ASFSA), studies show that there currently is a public health crisis because children and adolescents are not getting the daily-recommended amount of calcium.

My take is simple. I think using the phrase "public health crisis" may be an exaggeration.

News to me is geocaching, a fairly new outdoor activity, becoming popular four years ago when the federal government unscrambled data streaming from the global satellite system.
A geocache is a "treasure," usually a waterproof container with trinkets and a logbook, that is hidden, and fellow hikers try to find it by using a global positioning system, or GPS, unit to lead them to the spot marked by the coordinates.
Information can be found at And, although they can be found anywhere, geocaches are increasingly being placed in public parks and lands. This is frowned on by park officials and a permit system is being considered.
Anti-War Protesters

Travis at All-Encompassingly has posted pix of the anti-war protest in San Francisco this past weekend which should be seen by every American. The protesters' agenda is apparent. Take a look here.
The Endangered Pallid Sturgeon

Throughout the country, the US Army Corps of Engineers is struggling to find compromises with environmental groups on the management of waterways. One perpetual headache is how to regulate the flow of the Missouri River. The corps tries to satisfy the requirements of industry and the environmentalists even when they are mutually exclusive. It's a no-win, and always political, situation.

Industry needs the Missouri River to be navigable, therefore, a sustained flow of water is necessary. Environmental activist groups, led by the powerful US Fish and Wildlife Service wielding the hammer called the Endangered Species Act, do not give a hoot about industry and care only that the pallid sturgeon is in danger. They maintain that the river must be regulated to mimic the river's natural ebb and flow in order to save the pallid sturgeon. This would mean seasonal levels of essentially no flow and, hence, no navigation.

Current status of this ongoing difference of opinion is explained in a recent article in the Omaha World Herald. Resolution of the issue will eventually be achieved, but it doesn't matter because, as soon as it is decided, the environmentalists will pull another animal or plant out of the inexhaustible endangered species hat to try and impede business. And, instead of the pallid sturgeon, there'll be concern about the habitat of the speckled mudfrog, the Great Plains brook minnow, the broad-bottomed albino crayfish, or some other such thing.

Personally, since we live in a democracy, I think the public should be able to vote on what to include on the Endangered Species List. As it is now, the environmentalists and bureaucrats in the government decide what to save and what not to save.
School Expulsions in Ohio

Cincinnati wins! The distinction of having the highest rate and number of expelled students in the state of Ohio goes to the Cincinnati Public School System. And, it wasn't even a close race. Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, and other cities were far behind.

At first glance, the strong enforcement of discipline in the Cincinnati schools seems like a good idea, however, it remains to be seen whether expelling so many kids from school has any long-term detrimental impact.
Georgia Bill Protects Fast-Food Business

The Georgia House of Representatives and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit patrons from suing fast-food restaurants for contributing to their weight problem. It now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue for signature.

Bully! In the words of Georgia Sen. Preston Smith, "I say, let them eat their Big Macs."
Wardrobe Malfunction Impersonation

A sorority fund-raiser at the University of South Carolina featuring an impersonation of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast-baring performance has caused a campus furor requiring apology. The skit was considered racially insensitive.
Tim Tice, a white sophomore majoring in history, angered some at a March 2 Zeta Tau Alpha sorority fund-raiser that included his take on Jackson�s bawdy Super Bowl performance that left one of her breasts exposed.

Tice�s legs were painted black during the number, and that reminded some of a racist minstrel show.

Tice told about 40 students gathered at Tuesday�s forum that his legs were painted black for a subsequent skit in which he wore a painted-on tuxedo, and he couldn�t wear pants for the Jackson skit because his legs had not yet dried.

"I feel like I haven�t been portrayed as I should be. ... I�m not a racist,� said Tice.
In addition to the apology, some offended students believe that more racial sensitivity training needs to be required. USC's response to the incident is to initiate a program to educate the student population on the history of minstrel shows in which black culture is satirized by white performers dressed as blacks.

Based upon the article, I'm at a loss to understand who exactly was offended and what exactly was offensive. Since everyone will have to endure a history program on minstrel shows, does that mean that minstrel shows are off-limits? Was it offensive that a white man painted his legs black? Was it because a black woman was satirized?
You've got me. But, apparently, somebody was offended by something.

My take is simple. This is another example of political correctness on campus with a lip-service response by a spineless university administration. And, I must mention that the article is incorrect in stating that some people were angered by the skit. Those people were angry long before the skit.

The trend in academia has me thinking that soon there'll be a degree program in sensitivity training. As it is now, all graduates should at least be able to receive credit for a minor in sensitivity studies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Teen Arrested for Plotting School Attack

(Pataskala, Ohio) A 15-year-old teen in this small community has been taken into custody for allegedly making what police say are "Columbine-style" threats. He also apparently threatened to cut off a girl's fingers if she did not go along with his plot to shoot up Licking Heights High School.
"He threatened a fellow student who refused to go along with his plan to have a Columbine-style shooting on the anniversary of that day," said Pataskala Chief Chris Forshey.

"He threatened to kill her and cut her fingers off," Forshey said, adding school officials confiscated a journal that allegedly contains threats.
Licking Heights Local Schools Superintendent Janice Streit said that creative writing is encouraged, but there comes a time when it's not good.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Woman With Handgun Kills Intruder

(Springfield, Ohio) Unfortunately, this story will probably receive little exposure because of political correctness. A woman, Melany Yancey, 49, was home alone in the early morning when two intruders kicked in her front door.
Yancey told police she sealed herself in her bedroom, but the two men tried to break in. She took her .40-caliber handgun and fired a shot in the direction of the door, she said, and someone fired back.

Yancey reportedly said she heard the intruders move into the bedroom of one of her two adult sons, neither of whom were at home. She ran out of the room, attempting to escape, and fired two rounds at the intruders, she said.
One of her shots hit Matthew J. Marino, 21, who was pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center at 3:45 a.m.

Police are searching for the accomplice and do not expect to charge Yancey with any crime. In summary, home invaded, home protected by handgun, criminal slain. End of story.
News From Frostbite Falls

Nostalgically, the Bestofme Symphony #16 is presented along with an animated tribute to Rocky & Bullwinkle at Practical Penumbra. That's the news from Frostbite Falls.
E-Commerce Report

Les Jones has started publishing a weekly E-commerce Report which is informative, interesting, and brief. It's for those that are interested in the business end of the Internet. I count myself as a regular reader. Take a look.
Carnival of the Capitalists

This week's carnival is posted at The Entrepreneurial Mind. Always worth a visit. Next week's host will be Admiral Quixote's Roundtable.

A little while ago, I noticed that Interested-Participant has been downgraded within the TTLB Ecosystem from Large Mammal to Marauding Marsupial. Checking on the change, I found that sometime between yesterday and today, 120 blogs have delinked me. Wow! I must have really made someone mad.

Or, maybe it's one of those isolated incidents that occurs from time to time and is handled on a case by case basis.
Blame the Exam, Not the Student

(Albany, New York) Because some high school students do not learn enough to pass the examinations required for graduation, the New York State Board of Regents is being asked once again to fudge the system to allow those that fail to still get a diploma. The Regents are considering the inclusion of an appeals process which would allow students who fail to boo-hoo their way around the requirements. This action piggybacks nicely on last year's decision to lower the passing grade threshold from 65 to 55% on math and physics exams. Since 55% is only a slightly better result then would be expected by flipping a coin, the Regents are forced to consider alternatives other than another lowering of the passing mark. So it appears that an irritating dog-and-pony appeals process will be the next method used to make a mockery of educational standards.

Just for grins, check out the following from Erika Rosenberg of The Journal News:
Last year, the board made the biggest changes in nearly a decade to its drive for higher academic standards. It agreed to make high school math and physics exams easier to pass, and it extended for five years a measure allowing students to pass the exams with a score of at least 55. The passing mark had been 65 out of 100. (Emphasis mine)
The board made changes for higher standards by reducing requirements. Okay. I guess I'm just not smart enough to understand how that works.

Another related aspect worth mentioning is that entering college freshman are now commonly taught remedial high school courses to prepare them for college-level coursework. See discussion here and here. In one example, teaching remedial high school courses is considered a core function of the university and paid for by taxpayers. And the numbers are not small. A significant percentage of incoming freshman are found to be unprepared for college.

In summary, education systems tend toward blaming the examination process when the problem is directly attributable to the education process.
Rosie Reid Consummates Sale of Virginity

As reported previously, lesbian Rosie Reid placed her virginity on eBay for auction to the highest bidder. Well, according to this story, the deal has been completed and Rosie is no longer a virgin. The winning bid for her precious flower - $20,500.

This whole episode appears to be over, yet it begs a question. Now that Rosie's Precious Flower Shoppe is out of business, will she consider opening a used flower shop? Same business, slightly different product.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Coca-Cola Recalls Bottled Water

From the UK comes this story of a major business blunder by Coca-Cola. In an attempt to cash in on contemporary health trendiness, the company started selling bottled water. They took normal tap water, put it through a "highly sophisticated purification process," and sold it under the name Dasani. Unfortunately, the sophisticated process contaminated the water with bromate, which is described by the UK Food Standards Agency as "a chemical that could cause an increased cancer risk as a result of long-term exposure, although there is no immediate risk to public health."

Coca-Cola has recalled all the Dasani water in the UK and it's been predicted that they won't attempt to relaunch the product.

Update: WORDLAB has an informative and comical post about Dasani water. Take a look.
Man Nails Himself to Cross

(Hartland, Maine) Here's a story about a man who must live in an alternate universe. According to Lt. Pierre Boucher of Somerset County,
. . . the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on the floor. He attached a suicide sign to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

"When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911," Boucher said.
Suicide by self-crucifixion. That would be first. Unfortunately, he proved it couldn't be done without help.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Radio Hosts Suspended for Sex Talk

(Atlanta, Georgia) Two radio talk show hosts were suspended by Clear Channel Communications for broadcasting a sexually explicit discussion with a porn star. Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler, hosts of the "Regular Guys" program on WKLS-FM, while taping an interview with porn star Devinn Lane, accidentally broadcast the segment live.
Pat McDonnell, Clear Channel regional vice president, said it appeared to be an accident, but the hosts will remain off the air until a full investigation is completed.
Bully! Although I would never advocate censorship, I greatly prefer propriety and good taste over sexually explicit programming.
Homeless Man Arrested

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) In the City of Brotherly Love, Monsignor John A. Close of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul had Joseph Canty, 27, a homeless man, arrested for intimidating worshippers and urinating in the holy water.
Canty is accused of ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal trespass at the city's largest, most elegant cathedral.
When Mr. Canty gets out of jail, he may want to relocate to a more homeless friendly city.
Blood Drive Canceled for Excluding Homosexuals

(Montreal, Canada) This story almost seems silly. Homosexuals are complaining that they are discriminated against because they are not allowed to donate blood.
Quebec's largest school board has voted to cancel Hema Quebec's annual blood drive at its Montreal offices and will remain in effect until the blood agency changes its policy of excluding gay male donors.
It is beyond my ability to comprehend what they are trying to accomplish. Blood Banks attempt to eliminate all possible pathways for contaminants to taint the blood supply and the exclusion of homosexual men, along with IV drug users, the recently tattooed, and others deemed necessary is not only prudent, but should be expected.

I believe that public confidence in the donated blood supply would be lost if it were known that it included blood from male homosexuals. I also think it is beyond cruel to hold hostage those individuals needing life-saving blood for the sake of imagined homosexual rights.

Hat tip: Dissecting Leftism
Jury Orders Chevron to Pay $100,000,000

(Thibodaux, Lafourche Parish, Louisiana) A jury in Louisiana District Court ordered ChevronTexaco to pay the state about $100 million, including attorney fees. The state argued that Chevron intentionally cheated Louisiana taxpayers on oil royalties from state land leased by the company from 1987 to 1999. Louisiana lawyers contended that Chevron sold the oil at a price higher than the base calculated for the royalties and, therefore, the state lost money. In their defense, Chevron stated that Louisiana oil was mixed with higher grade oil which commanded a higher price, however, the state was fairly paid per contractual agreement which satisfies their obligation.

The state calculated the amount of purposeful underpayment by Chevron to be $13.5 million over the thirteen years and the jury agreed. During the period, Chevron paid the state $250 million in royalties so the percentage of purported underpayment equates to 5.4 percent of the total royalties paid.

Just looking at the numbers, it would seem difficult to classify the underpayment as an egregious theft. The Louisiana jury, however, determined otherwise and assessed $54.9 million in damages and tacked on $20 million for attorney's fees.

Last year, Chevron had profits in excess of $7 billion and, as such, may decide not to appeal the $100 million judgment against them. I hope they do, in a different venue. This case was stacked against Chevron from the beginning. Louisiana is known for having a creative and maverick judicial system which some have alleged is a real profit maker. Lafourche Parish is smack in the middle of one of the largest oil-producing areas of the country. Everyone in the jury pool is connected directly or indirectly to the oil industry, and probably has a host of personal grudges against big oil companies in general. Combine all that with the fact that Chevron represents the epitome of big oil with deep pockets and the result is that any accounting error is the basis for a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

In this case, it's a $100 million lawsuit for a 5.4 percent difference in calculations. And, I'll never understand why the lawyers are entitled to $20 million.
Korean Sex Slaves in US

(Spokane, Washington) According to this story, hundreds of South Korean women are forced by organized crime rings to work as sex slaves in the US to pay off smuggling debts. The women are being smuggled across the border from Canada to Washington state and some are arrested by Homeland Security agents. Others have been picked up in prostitution stings up and down the West Coast. Authorities are looking for the ringleaders.

It's generally recognized that the US-Canadian border is not secure, but this is the first I've heard about large numbers of people being smuggled. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that the problem is 100 times greater than reported.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Teacher Bares Breasts

(Sanford, Florida) I guess the lesson of the Catherine Bosley debacle was wasted on Stacey Cherry, a fourth-grade teacher at Goldsboro Elementary School in Sanford. From a report in the Orlando Sentinel (reg. req'd.), Cherry bared her breasts at a Super Bowl Party last month, pictures were taken, school authorities found out, and disciplinary action is being considered. In the meantime, Cherry is on administrative leave and a new teacher has taken over her class.

The topless pictures were sent in anonymous emails to Seminole County Schools Superintendent Bill Vogel and other members of the school board.

It's probably not a stretch to assume that this type of situation will recur and, therefore, I've decided to name it for ease of future reference. So, all incidents of females exposing themselves in public, where pictures are taken which result in disciplinary action or loss of job, shall now be called examples of the Bosley-Cherry Disconnect. Obviously, at least one portion of the women's brains was disconnected when they decided to be exhibitionists. It's the portion that assures self-preservation.
Lt. Col. Robert Zangas

A few days ago, Citizen Smash reported on the death of ex-Marine Lt. Col. Robert Zangas, 44, who was killed in an ambush outside Hillah, 35 miles south of Baghdad. Yesterday, funeral services and outdoor military honors were held and there's a nice report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rest in Peace.
Explain This

(Center Township, PA) Try to explain this story without using the word "stupid."
Three Ambridge women are accused of talking two children into pushing a shopping cart loaded with stolen goods from a Wal-Mart store and then running off and leaving the children behind when an alarm sounded.

One of the women, 20-year-old Alexis Kurch of 831 13th St., was baby-sitting the 9- and 3-year-old children at the time, police reported.

The other women charged were Cocoa Smith, 20, of 317 Locust St. and Amber Oakes, 19, of 831 Melrose Ave.

According to a report by Center Township police, the women filled a shopping cart at the Wal-Mart in Center last Friday afternoon with items valued at $403. The items included five scarves and an array of household items, from shower curtains and household cleaners to vacuum filters and soap dishes.

Police said the women coerced the children into taking the cart from the store. The children were promised gifts once outside, police added.

However, an alarm sounded as the children went through the exit doors, and the three adults bolted and did not return.
I can't.

It is my belief that pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated and society should do whatever is necessary to keep them off the street. Others are apparently of the same opinion according to this story from New York.
A 94-year-old Town of Tonawanda man with a 60-year history of molesting children has provided Republican Assembly members with their best argument for proposing a law that would lock up hard-core pedophiles indefinitely.

Several state lawmakers and local elected officials gathered Thursday in Buffalo to recommend strengthening Megan's Law by permitting civil confinements to stop individuals like Theodore A. Sypnier from committing repeat sexual attacks against children.
One has to wonder how many lives were traumatized or ruined in this pervert's 60-year career as a pedophile.

It makes me sick to think about it.
School Promotes Homosexuality to 1st-Graders

(Wilmington, NC) According to this story in the Wilmington Star (reg. req'd.), Barbara Hawley, the librarian and media coordinator for Freeman Elementary School, ordered a library book for 1st-grade students that celebrates male homosexuality and marriage. After parents objected, the program to indoctrinate children on male homosexuality was defended.
"We have a lot of diversity in our schools," said Elizabeth Miars, Freeman's principal. "What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing."
Miars then compared parents' objections to homosexuality to complaints about religious books. For any action to be considered, parents must file a written complaint with the New Hanover County School System.

My take is simple. The situation at Freeman Elementary School is wrong and it should not have occurred. For public elementary schools to have an agenda to teach homosexuality while prohibiting the Ten Commandments is bizarre. I don't know how the school authorities get any sleep at night.

[Update] Parents Michael and Tonya Hartsell, along with Channing and Beth Hatcher, filed complaints concerning the book and a school committee, by a vote of 8 to 3, has decided that it will be available only to adults in the Freeman Elementary School library.
The authors, Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, of the Netherlands, have said they didn't set out to write a controversial book. School officials have said they didn't intentionally order a book with a gay theme.
Right! Apparently, what they did do was order a book that they had not read. And where in the universe can I find the logic that says an elementary school library should have an adult reading section? Boneheads!

Of note is a comment by Heather Stoker, a parent on the committee, stating that the book promotes diversity and focuses on love, not homosexuality. Hey, Heather! You're wrong. And your comment calls into question your parenting skills. Make sure and let everyone know how well your offspring matured after being inculcated in homosexuality at the age of 6. Ten years from now, you may be petitioning the American Medical Association to recognize the Excess Diversity Disorder.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Economists Predict 3 Million New Jobs

(Detroit, MI) A team of economists at the University of Michigan said today that the U.S. economy is gearing up to add nearly 3 million jobs by the end of next year. They also predicted that the unemployment rate would drop below 5 percent.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that this report will be largely ignored by the elite media.
Peter Lewis Bankrolls Marijuana Groups

Clevelander Peter Lewis, Chairman of the Progressive Insurance Corp., is known as a generous donor to the effort to defeat George W. Bush this November, and he also promotes the legalization of marijuana through his contributions to various marijuana advocacy groups. Lewis gave $340,000 to the Marijuana Policy Project, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service and made available yesterday.

I don't understand liberals. Through localized bans and high taxes, they try to force people to stop smoking tobacco because of health care costs while at the same time they advocate people smoke marijuana as if it's a better type of smoke in a person's lungs and there are no health care concerns. Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?
Settlement Reached in Catherine Bosley Case

Details are unavailable, but it's being reported that Catherine Bosley has settled her case for an undisclosed amount of money with two Internet companies over the use of her naked images in videos.
China Now Censoring Blogs

According to this story, two popular websites which host thousands of blogs have been shut down by the Chinese authorities for posting entries that were critical of the government. The Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said that blog hosts and have been shut down as part of an overall escalation in the level of censorship. Internet cafes and online discussion forums, along with major foreign media sites, have previously been shackled in the government's goal to strangle free expression on the web.

Interestingly, this recent crackdown coincides with the opening of the 60th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, at which China has a seat. Also, the censorship comes days after the Chinese legislature amended its constitution to state that, for the first time, the state respects and protects human rights.

Despite what the ChiCom's put in their constitution, there is no freedom without freedom of expression and there is no free speech in China.

[Update] From China, Tennessee Ruck at Voluntarily in China blogs about his personal experience with the government blocking of blogs. Apparently a letter by Dr. Jiang Yanyong, urging the government to admit errors on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, was not "authorized" by the authorities. Follow the links for more information.

Companion post at eTALKINGHEAD.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Bo Derek Wants Law to Stop Horsemeat Consumption

(Washington) Because she has a pet horse, actress Bo Derek wants legislation passed to prohibit American businessmen from participating in the worldwide trade of horseflesh for consumption. She told Congress how icky it is for France and Japan to eat horsemeat in supporting legislation introduced by Reps. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., whose district includes a racetrack, and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., a horse owner. The proposed law would prevent horses from being used for consumption by humans only. Carrion eaters, birds, insects and the rest of the animal kingdom would still be able to eat horsemeat.

My take is simple. Keep Bo Derek away from animals or she'll turn them into pets. And, it's understandable that she has an open invitation to talk to Congress at any time on any subject. It's also generally recognized that it has little to do with what she has to say.
Study: Parents of Obese Children Are Stupid

(London) According to research conducted by the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, England, a large percentage of mothers and fathers are stupid. Based upon the study, a third of mothers and 57% of fathers are unaware of the current politically malleable definition of obesity and, therefore, are unable to determine if their own children are obese.

This research should not be surprising to anyone. Every time a taxpayer-funded research organization wants more money, a study is conceived to produce predetermined results supporting the contention that more government spending is required for their research.

Of note is that the article references "an internationally recognized measurement of obesity in children," but fails to mention that the recognized measurement is derived by people with an agenda, i.e., taxpayer-funded international groups who have an interest in increased government spending on themselves.

Expect increased research on the stupidity of parents and massive government programs to educate them.
Kennedy Relative Found Dead

(Vero Beach, Florida) The body of Hope Sheridan, the ex-mother-in-law of Michael Skakel, a cousin of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found in a sunken car.
Divers found Sheridan's car Monday afternoon after a sheriff's helicopter noted two faint parallel marks at the end of a retention pond.

The car was submerged in about 15 feet of water 75 feet from shore. Sheridan's body was found on the passenger side, Detective Keith Harmon said. He said there were no skid marks on the grassy area going into the water.
Let's analyze this story. Kennedy family, submerged car, dead female passenger. It kind of rings a bell for me.

Of course, there may be a logical explanation. I personally have found my driving expertise is seriously impacted when I sit in the passenger seat. There'$ probably $ome way to convince the authoritie$ that Hope $heridan accidently drove 75 feet into the ocean while $eated in the pa$$enger $eat.
"It appears from the preliminary findings that this was an accidental death," said Indian River County sheriff's spokesman Joe Flescher said [sic].
Jessica Simpson's Sister Signs with MTV

Piggybacking on her sister Jessica's success in the reality show The Newlyweds, Ashlee Simpson, 19, has signed with music network MTV to do, here's a surprise, a reality show. She also is negotiating with ABC for a possible sitcom. This news should not surprise anyone. After all, it's MTV that pioneered the genre of absolutely brainless lead characters in Beavus and Butthead.
Charles McCoy Arrested

Suspected Ohio Beltway Shooter Charles McCoy Jr. was arrested this morning in Las Vegas. He was found at a budget motel next to the Stardust Casino.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Cincinnati Coyotes

In parts of suburban Cincinnati, the high-pitched howls start as early as 11pm and carry through until after dawn from the growing population of coyotes. Dogs have been mauled and cats have disappeared. Residents have complained that the coyotes are getting too close for comfort, possibly attracted by a few neighbors setting out bologna to feed the animals.
In Ohio, and across the nation, they are considered a threat to livestock and can legally be killed, even though organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have spoken out against extermination. Communities are struggling to find an answer to the problem.
Simple problem with a simple solution. Put a bounty on the coyotes. If it's desired to solve the problem quickly, make it a high bounty. If it's high enough, the entire population could be wiped out in a week.
Ohio Beltway Shooting Suspect Update

(Columbus, Ohio) According to this story, the suspect in the Ohio beltway shootings, Charles A. McCoy Jr., is in hiding and believed to have a semiautomatic pistol and ammunition. Also, more information has been released about him.
Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, lived with his mother within miles of where the gunman's bullets killed a passenger, shattered windshields, dented school buses and drilled into homes and a school.

"McCoy has had mental health issues in the past and is currently not on medication," the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said in a bulletin released to police departments across the country." He is believed to have suicidal or homicidal tendencies."
It seems that the basis for a defense is being planted in the public's conscience before any charges have been filed.
Rotten Sneaker Contest

(Montpelier, VT.) This year's winner of the coveted Golden Sneaker Award for having the smelliest sneakers is 10-year-old Daegan Goodman of Montpelier, known as the "Rotten Sneaker Capital of the World." The final determination of the most rotten smelling sneakers is made by expert George Aldrich, who smells professionally. In addition to smell, sneakers are judged on appearance and overall condition.
Every Week for Eighteen Months

Achieving a quiet, but notable, milestone is this week's Carnival of the Vanities at Patterico's Pontifications. A year and a half after being launched by Bigwig, the carnival has consistently grown in its appeal and has fostered a number of similar collective efforts. Applause! Applause! And congratulations to Bigwig and all the writers and readers.

Next week's host is Pete Holiday.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Business Hiring Practices

I like to keep an eye peeled for business-related information posts and here's one I found at GDay Mate about hiring cannibals.
A large corporation recently hired several cannibals.

"You are all part of our team now", said the HR rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please.. don't eat any of the other employees".

The cannibals promised they would not.

Four weeks later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard, and I'm satisfied with your work. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?"

The cannibals all shook their heads no. After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Which one of you idiots ate the secretary?"

A hand rose hesitantly.

"You fool!" the leader continued. "For four weeks we've been eating managers and no one noticed anything. But NOOOooo, you had to go and eat someone who actually does something!!!"
I agree. Praise the secretaries.
Suspect Identified in Ohio Beltway Shootings

(Columbus, OH) The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has released the name of a suspect in a series of 24 highway shootings around Columbus. The suspect is Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, and is considered armed and dangerous. He's a 5-foot-8, 185-pound white male with brown hair and green eyes and drives a dark green 1999 Geo Metro with a black hood.

Authorities want the public's help in locating McCoy.
School Board Member Targets Teacher

(Cole County, MO) Using the school system logo and without approval, board member Sarah Renick sent an evaluation form to 90 district patrons asking probing questions about a specific math teacher.
The Cole County R-5, Eugene, School Board will not review a teacher evaluation survey recently sent to district patrons by one board member, the board said Thursday night.

The board made its announcement following a meeting that included comments from several district patrons, superintendent Mark Blythe said.

[ ... ]

The survey reportedly sought to gain input on parents' perceptions of the teacher's lesson planning and preparedness, among other things, Blythe said. However, Blythe said he and members of the school board were not told the survey was being distributed.
This story is so typical. With regularity, local school boards seem to always have at least one eccentric member that feuds with the world in general and a few individuals in particular. In this case, board member Sarah Renick wanted to put the stink of suspicion on one teacher and succeeded.
Court Petitioned to Remove School Board Member

(St. Louis, MO) Here's another story about a school board member who is eccentric and, apparently, mentally unstable. Rochell Moore is considered "physically combative." She has doused an administator with ice water and has threatened violence against anyone questioning her mental fitness.
The petition filed Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court by assistant superintendent Charlene Jones, her secretary and a dozen others came three days after a St. Louis judge issued a temporary order barring the board's Rochell Moore from contact with Jones and board member Amy Hilgemann.

Moore, 40, has said she believes Jones and Hilgemann are part of political plot to discredit her. She claims they dosed her with cocaine before Moore was committed for October 2002 psychiatric help against her will.

[ ... ]

Last week, Moore called her soaking of Jones justified, likening herself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and saying that when it comes to her mental fitness, "from this day forward, anyone who brings that issue up, I am getting violent."
Last year, Moore threatened to kill the city's former comptroller, Virvus Jones, and also sent a letter placing a curse on Mayor Francis Slay.

State law allows a circuit judge to remove a school board member. A hearing before St. Louis Circuit Judge David Dowd is scheduled for March 24.

I have to keep reminding myself that reasonable, caring, and informed voters elect these aberrant personalities to oversee our education systems. Sheesh!
Germany's National Pension System

With horror stories about Social Security funding in and out of the news in the US, it's not surprising that other countries also have the problem. Here's one:
The German parliament on Thursday passed a modified version of legislation that will radically change the way national pension benefits are calculated. In the future, the level of retirement benefits will depend on the size of the workforce in relationship to the number of retirees. Pensions will automatically decline as the German population shrinks over the next 25 years.
The current pay-as-you-go national pension system relies on four workers supporting every retiree. In 25 years, there'll be only two workers per retiree and they intend to reduce pension payments accordingly.

German workers currently pay 19.5% of their gross income into the national pension program. For comparison, US workers are contributing about 8% of their gross into Social Security with another 8% contributed by the employer.
Best of Me Symphony

The Bloggywood Squares Edition of the Best of Me Symphony is posted at The Owner's Manual. Go visit.
Fighting Media Bias

(Belton, MO) This story illustrates one method used by small-town American citizens to counter obvious bias in the local media. According to Belton Police Capt. Don Spears, Assistant Fire Chief Dana Marconett entered The Belton Journal newspaper office and "put down a newspaper with some kind of fecal matter."
Connie McCann, publisher of The Journal, said that a newspaper employee met the man at the counter. McCann said the man threw a folded paper "full of feces" across a counter, hitting the woman in the stomach and splattering feces on her, the counter and the floor.
It seems the newspaper published an unflattering editorial about Marconett's wife. He now faces a charge of scattering rubbish, with six months in prison and a $500 fine as possible punishment.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Sears Tower Sold

My Realtor deserves a good whack on the fanny for not telling me that the Chicago skyscraper was on the market. A New York investment group purchased the 110-story structure for $835 million.
Counterfeit $50 Bills

(Lancaster, Ohio) He wears a coat and tie and is passing fake $50 bills in Central Ohio. So far, he's bought cookware, tools and computer equipment. Keep an eye out. By the way, all the bills have the same serial number.
Microsoft Lawsuits

With curiosity as motivation, I've been following the many and varied lawsuits being adjudicated against Microsoft with no preconceptions about any resultant observations I might have. Obviously, a scorecard was necessary, so I prepared one identifying the litigants, basis of the lawsuit, important dates, summary of status, and details of rulings/settlements. Compiling data was fairly easy at first, but I soon became overwhelmed and realized I needed a spreadsheet, not a scorecard. It seems that every major and minor competitor, along with the federal and state governments, are or have been involved in lawsuits against Microsoft. Throw into the mix the foreign lawsuits, notably Europe and the Far East, that are pending, ongoing, or anticipated and the total number of individual cases became unmanageable for one part-time observer. I literally threw up my hands when I realized the amount of study I was facing.

With that in mind, I decided it would be prudent to distance myself somewhat from the details to preclude becoming obsessive. Analyzing the Microsoft legal quagmire is like analyzing a shooting match, from the design of the shotgun to the trajectory of the skeet. It can be done, but it'll drive a person crazy. Maintaining a generally knowledgeable awareness of the subject seemed to be healthier and, on this basis, I gleaned only one salient observation. It is that Microsoft is Gulliver and every Lilliputian in the Kingdom is trying tie him down and the people benefiting the most are the lawyers.

But I knew that before I started.
Schools Vote on Dress Codes

(Rock Hill, South Carolina) Voting is ongoing in deciding whether parents approve establishing a student dress code at two local middle schools. Principals Al Leonard of Saluda Trail Middle School and Kelly Kane of Castle Heights Middle School became concerned seeing 12 and 13-year-old girls with bare tummies and stiletto heels while the boy students sported droopy trousers exposing much of their underwear. Consequently, the faculty, parents and administrators devised dress codes to be voted on for approval.

Results have not been reported, but two things are apparent. One is that the students are opposed. No surprise here. The other is that the institution of dress codes are customarily followed by a decrease in disciplinary reports as indicated by the experiences of other area schools.

My take is that dress codes are a good idea and they should be universal in schools. And a comment I have is that 12 and 13-year-old girls with bare midriffs and stiletto heels sounds pornographic.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Best Cities for the Homeless

(Key West, FL) Although San Francisco remains at the top, Key West has become a contender as best city in which to be homeless.
The city plans to build a tent city, called a safe zone, next to the jail, pending county approval next week. The safe zone would have large Quonset hut or chickee structures, bathrooms, showers and a laundry facility.
Also, the city is looking forward to developing long-range plans to provide benefits for vagrants throughout the Florida Keys. These actions have Key West breaking into the top five of the rankings and will make it unique by being the only city to provide free laundry facilities to attract vagrants. Coupled with the subtropical weather, the benefits offered by Key West may allow it to move up in the standings. Expect their homeless numbers to increase. Here's a look at the current rankings:

1) San Francisco, California - Due to the high pay structure, by far, it is the most attractive city for vagrants.

2) Chicago, Illinois - Current 10-year program to build homes and provide paychecks will enhance Chicago's competitiveness.

3) Miami, Florida - A traditionally favored destination that has not improved in accordance with current trends, but is still attractive.

4) Los Angeles, California - Another traditional destination that used to top the list. Competitiveness is impacted by poor recordkeeping caused by transient nature of their vagrants.

5) Key West, Florida - Bumped Denver from the top five by providing free laundry services to their vagrants.

HONORABLE MENTION - Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle
Homeless people throughout the nation are encouraged to consult the list when making travel plans.
FCC Fines Clear Channel $247,500

(Washington, D.C.) In its vigorous campaign against indecency, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed fining several stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc. Alleged are nine violations involving the "Elliot and the Morning" radio program broadcast from Washington, D.C. The show featured a filthy discussion of sexual practices by a female caller and porn star Ron Jeremy.
The proposal to hand out the maximum fine of $27,500 per incident was "because of Clear Channel's history of violations relating to the broadcast of indecent material," the agency wrote.

"Clear Channel has been the subject of repeated indecency actions at the FCC, and this show in particular has been the subject of previous complaints," wrote FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who said the violations should have triggered license-revocation proceedings. The "cost-of-doing business fine is never going to stop the media's slide to the bottom."
Considerable attention has been directed toward Clear Channel due to their questionable content. They recently agreed to pay a $775,000 fine for the on-air antics of filth-sensationalists Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge.
Catherine Bosley Lawsuit

(Youngstown, OH) As discussed previously, television anchor Catherine Bosley became fairly famous for taking off all her clothes at a videotaped wet t-shirt contest while on vacation. After her image was plastered all over the Internet, she filed a lawsuit in US District Court stating the pictures were distributed without her permission. One of those named in the suit is who claims they legally secured the rights for distribution of her images from DreamGirls, a Florida video production company.

It's unknown how long it will take for the court to adjudicate the lawsuit, but Bosley's case appears weak. She signed a release before the event and notices were posted at the location informing everyone that the wet t-shirt contest would be photographed and videotaped.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Snowplow Driver Protests Bush

(Cleveland, OH) While working on temporary assignment providing support for President Bush's motorcade, Michael Gertenslager decided to express a political protest. He placed a large sign displaying "TRAITOR" on the side of his ODOT snowplow while it blocked traffic for the motorcade. An Ohio Highway Patrol officer observed the sign and reported Gertenslager who was later suspended.

My take is that Mr. Gertenslager is not a deep thinker. Conducting a political protest against a Republican President while drawing a paycheck from a state government headed by Republicans is probably job suicide. Hopefully, he has a lot of political chips he can cash in.
Sobriety Checkpoints Announced

Police will be manning sobriety checkpoints this St. Patrick's Day in at least sixteen communities across Cuyahoga County to satisfy a mandatory requirement for receiving federal funds. Locations have not been announced, but it's safe to assume that they'll be on your normal path home.

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