Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Eve At Times Square- 1976-77

This was Guy Lombardo's last. He passed away on November 5, 1977

Top Grossing Concert Tours In 2014

According to 'The New York Daily News' the top three were 'One Direction', 'Justin Timberlake' and 'The Rolling Stones' (in that order).

Check out the link above to see who the next seventeen top grossing acts were in 2014..

Happy New Year's Eve (Music Mix)

Courtesy of DJ BEAT DAND

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On This Day In 1953 Color Sets Went On Sale

The first ever color sets went on sale this day (12/30) in 1953. The first sets were built by RCA and sold for just over $1,100. Westinghouse offered theirs for $1,295 ($11,373 in today's dollars).

However anyone who could afford one had to wait until the "Tournament Of Roses Parade" aired on January 1st, 1954 to see their first color program ever. There wasn't a whole lot to watch for the next 6 years in color.

Even though NBC set up their studios for color on March 27th, 1955 most affiliates didn't have transmitters that could broadcast color.

Some syndicated programs like the Lone Ranger and Superman were filmed in color, but most viewers didn't experience color on a major network until NBC started airing regular programs like 'Bonanza' five years later in 1959.

For the vast majority of Americans color didn't become common until the mid 60's when televisions became more affordable. It also was around that same time about 50% of the network programming started being aired in color. Just one year later (1965) nearly all the prime time shows were in color.

The United States was first. Canada in 1966. England in 1967. China in 1973.

The first color set I owned used a dozen or so vacuum tubes you could heat a room with. Today's sets consume a tenth of the current these original sets used. Long gone are the worries of maintaining convergence or the degaussing of the picture tube (a semi annual requirement).

The reds were way over pronounced because of it being the main carrier frequency for the other color information.

If someone didn't have a TV repairman come out and adjust the convergence and degauss the picture tube, the picture would become more blurry and rainbow like each passing month.

So too one would have to get up quite frequently to adjust the horizontal roll until the phase locked loop (PLL) circuits were invented.

Forget about remote control. Even though they were around since 1955 when Zenith introduced hand held mechanical chimes, most sets didn't come equipped with a decent wireless control until 1973.

Today's users should be amazed how in just 60 years we've gone from two or three channels in B&W to hundreds of High Definition channels not just on our flat screen TVs, but now streaming on super tiny smartphones as well. Something even I now take for granted.

Let us all take a moment of silence for all the thousands of former TV servicemen who no longer exist because of these advances.

So much for taking TV repair in high school

(I being one of them back in the 60's)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Eagles 2014 Season Is Over

I'm not sure anybody in the hearts seriously believed the Eagles would go to the super bowl and win it this year. If they did they were kidding themselves. The fact is the Eagles only played in two super bowls. They won neither one of them, One in 1981 which they lost to the Oakland Raiders 27 to 10 in Louisiana. The other in 2005 they lost against the New England Patriots 24-21 in Jacksonville.

That said there sure was a lot more excitement and entertaining moments in past years then there was in 2014. Hardly none could more so then the season they had in 2006. Fans were optimistic this would be the year they'd go all the way.

Only to have their bubble burst. Even though the Eagles finished 10-6 (the same as this year) they did manage to go to the playoffs by winning the NFC division (which they promptly lost to the Saints). Yeah sure they blew it, but perhaps this was their most exciting season ever. Who can ever forget week 5 in 2006. TO was traded to Dallas the previous year, it was in this game he made his first appearance against the Eagles in Philadelphia on October 8th, 2006 since being traded.

Here's a few highlights of the game

Yes indeed there's no doubt about, even though Eagles players may never win Super Bowl rings, they sure have given us a hellva lot of excitement in the pursuit of them :-)

Burlington, VT. Uses 100% Renewable Energy

A press release from Ben & Jerry's ice cream informs us Burlington, VT Goes All In with 100% Renewable Energy -- "It’s one more step toward Vermont’s goal of getting 90% of the state’s electricity, heating, and transportation energy from renewable resources by 2050...

In the event that the city’s renewable energy sources are not enough—like a one-two punch of low water and light wind—the system is set to tap into energy from fossil fuels. However, Burlington will often generate more than it needs, selling its energy surplus back to old school suppliers and thus balancing out the entire equation."

Somehow when this was first released on September 19, 2014 I missed it. Then again is it any wonder why considering none of the major media outlets reported on this. The Boston Globe reported on Sept. 15, 2014 -- "With little fanfare, the Burlington Electric Department crossed the threshold this month with the purchase of the 7.4-megawatt Winooski 1 hydroelectric project on the Winooski River"

"With little fanfare".. Yeah they sure got that right!
Here we are in Pennsylvania digging fracking holes all over the place and much of the gas produced is not even staying in Pennsylvania. I've been following for sometime lesser known internet resources reporting about how other areas of the United States and especially in European countries they've been weaning themselves away from fossil fuels. One would hardly know this if they were only to watch or read traditional news sources.

If anyone thinks this isn't making an impact on major oil producing countries one need look no further then the recent huge drop in oil prices. This is their response in trying to undercut, undermine and stymie the rapid growth in renewable energies so as to make it more costly then continued dependency and burning of their gunk.

The Advantages Of Renewable Energies Are Many
Not only are they good for the air we breath, but also in preventing the deaths of so many who fight and die in oil producing countries. There should be little doubt renewables are cheaper in the long run when you factor in how much it costs us to fund the military protecting them in order to keep the oil flowing. This alongside the medical costs associated with those who return from the battlefronts with both short term and lifelong injuries.

Water is becoming scarcer and scarcer because of the increase in the number of those born.. Yet fracking requires millions of gallons more then we ever used before at a time we should most be conserving it's use.

We've all seen what can happen when there's an accident in the Gulf, Alaska or pipelines on dry land.

These all are contributing to the elimination of clean air, water and dry land that's needed now more then ever as Earth's populations increase.

In Conclusion
This isn't about tree huggers or greenies. It's about depleting the air we breath. The water we need and our ever increasing hunger for more energy. Common sense dictates we cannot keep using up our resources and expect everything will last forever. Once they are gone they're gone.

Verstehen Sie den Unterschied?
Between what is renewable and what is not?
If not, hang around long enough and you will!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spotlight On Alex Heinen

"I'm a lover of the arts currently residing in the Hudson Valley (Poughkeepsie, NY). For fun I enjoy singing songs from musical theatre on Youtube, indulging in my love of antiques, being a kitten nanny, hitting the gym and being fiercely competitive at board games. I'm graduate of Hampshire College with a B.A. in Theatre I hope to some day settle down and run a small theatre company producing new and rarely produced works.

All videos after 10/12/07 are sung LIVE Videos before 10/12/07: if the audio before 10/12/07 is good quality, it's probably me lip-syncing to my own voice.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cops Turn Their Backs To De Blasio At Ramos Memorial

De Blasio Speaks at Ramos Memorial; Cops Turn Their Backs to Him

A comment was left on this article in which I agree--- "I guess anything less than the mayor throwing a celebration party for Eric Garners killer is disrespectful to the NYPD from their perspective. This level of insubordination and disrespect would not be tolerated in the military and it shouldn't be tolerated here."

Who the hell do these guys think they are. Those who show little respect should expect little in return. These guys may not agree with everything the mayor says, but he sure as hell didn't throw them under the bus as same claim. Neither did he give people in the street a green light to put open season on shooting cops that they should act like this. There are far too many good cops in New York that will blamed for what these bad apples are doing.

Sure sometimes protestors act like assholes, but that doesn't excuse law enforcement becoming one of them. I expect better from them. Fellow cops jobs and their safety depend on people showing respect for them.. So too they in return need demonstrate the same respect for the rule of law & order they've sworn to uphold as an example to them. Acting this way demonstrates a belief somehow that this is a wartime "we against them" situation and somehow this justifies their actions. This is so Wrong!

No one.. not anyone of reasonable mind disagrees that cops shouldn't be murdered. Certainly not this mayor. How does any of this improve relations?

Yeah sure two cops got whacked. So did dozens of other New Yorkers this past year. Who's making a fuss about these innocent individuals who've been taken away from their families at the hands of criminal murderers? Who weeps and carries on this way? Is a cop's life more important then any other's?

If cops and the news media carried on this way for every innocent person who got murdered this year in New York their families would be stunned. Enough already. I'm sorry this happened but enough of this bullshit already!

The Rewriting Of Fairytales

Most of the fairytales as we know them today... well let's just say they're fairytales about fairytales.

Stories which have been rewritten so as to make them more palatable for young readers and movie goers. There are several versions of what might have been written originally or handed down orally. Below are a few samples of what some of them have been.

Sleeping Beauty
In the original version it wasn't a prince that simply kissed her, thus awakening her from her slumber. It was a hunter who came across her body and raped her while she lay there unconscious. Nine months later she gave birth to twins while still remaining unconscious. At this point fairies of the forest happen across the babies. They placed one of babies on top of her for feeding who sucked a poison splinter from her thumb instead mistaking it for a nipple. Thereupon she awakened.

A few months later the hunter returned for a second helping of the unconscious babe only to now find her awake. She followed him into a barn and had sex with him despite him telling what he did to her while she lay unconscious. Well it turns out the hunter was married and when his wife found out these two's shenanigans she set about to kidnap the kids, have her cook boil them alive and serve them unbeknownst to her cheating husband. Turns out the cook couldn't bring herself to do it and cooked a goat instead. In the end the hunter left his old lady and lived happily ever after with his new girlfriend and the kids.

Long story short, Cinderella's sisters chopped off portions of their feet so they could fit into the glass slipper. In the end when the plan didn't work out the prince had a couple of birds peck out their eyes as punishment for trying to trick him.

Rapunzel was locked up in a tower for a very long time. Not only did her hair grow extremely but so did her desire to be intimate with a man. So when a prince happened to wander by she asked him to have sex with her if she'd leave down her hair for him to climb up on. Both had a pretty good thing going on for sometime till her clothes kept getting ever tighter. Turns out it wasn't because she was eating too much but rather treating too much (the prince that is). Apparently he wasn't using protection.

It seems when the witch (her captor) found out she became jealous, chopped off Rapunzel's hair, then magically transported Rapunzel who was forced then to live with a homeless beggar. She ended up broke, hungry and becoming a beggar herself in order to feed she and her hungry child . All this was unbeknownst to the prince who returned to the tower for another love making session. Instead when he got to the top of the tower, the witch who awaited him, shoved him out the window landing him in a patch of thorns which poked his eyes out. The ending in one version says the prince and Rapunzel eventually hookup and got even with the witch.

The Little Mermaid
The mermaid rather then trade her voice for legs trades her tongue. Unfortunately though she gets legs they hurt like hell every time she tries to walk. Even so in order to try and snag the prince she dances with all her heart in a failed effort to attract him unto herself. Instead the prince marries some other broad. Seeing this her mermaid sisters cut off their hair and sell it for a magical dagger. The mermaid is then told to cut up the prince and let his blood drip on her feet. If she does this she will get her fins back.

She does sneak up on him but can't bring herself to it, instead jumps back into the sea and drowns. Later the writer of the fairytale (Hans Christian Andersen) felt this was a rather crappy ending so he rewrote it adding that if the mermaid for 300 years performed good deeds this would earn her the right to acquire a soul hence enabling her to go to heaven.

In this version Jiminy wasn't a cricket and Jiminy ended up murdered by Pinocchio. Since puppets can't be sent to jail it was Geppetto who was for his negligence in creating this little monster. Many years later after Geppetto served his jail sentence he reunited with his much beloved puppet. He had nothing after being locked up all those years except the coat on his back. Still he wanted the best for the little guy and sold it for school books so Pinocchio could become educated.

Pinocchio being the ever grateful douchebag hocked them for tickets to the theatre. To make a long story short he became worse then he already was because of two scoundrels (a cat and a fox) he took up with. In one version the two scoundrels later hung Pinocchio from a tree suffocating him to death. In another version one of the scoundrels (the cat) who deceived him and led Pinocchio's life into misery is overcome by age and blindness. The Fox chops off his tail for money and becomes hairless and lame. Pinocchio (being not susceptible to such things) scoffs at both their poverty and suffering saying they deserved what they got.

'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'
It was written by the same guy that wrote Les Misérables, Victor Hugo. Hence full of the suffering and unhappiness you'd expect from this writer. It's been reworked several times.

In the original novel a gypsy dancer (Esmerelda) has drawn the attention of many men, but none so much as both the hunchback (Quasimodo) and Archdeacon of Notre Dame.(Frollo). The Archdeacon orders Quasimodo to kidnap her but is caught by the head of the guards (Captain Phoebus) who orders Quasimodo to be flogged and placed without water in the stockades.

Esmerelda takes pity on him and offers water. Quasimodo falls hopelessly in love with her. Turns out so did the Captain of the guards who also had a thing for her. This upset the Archdeacon (Frollo) who became jealous then murdered the captain. Instead Esmerelda is falsely accused, tortured and sentenced to death by hanging. In the last minute Quasimodo swings down the bell ropes saving her.

There's a few more twists and turns in the plot eventually Esmerelda ,who had sanctuary in Frellos church, was expelled by the church hierarchy. After she rejected Frello's advances one last time, he turned over to the soldiers where once again she found herself facing death. This time ending up with her execution while Frollo laughed out of spitefulness for rejecting his advances. Quasimodo seeing this pushed the Archdeacon off the roof of the church killing him.

He escapes. In the final scene Quasimodo is bending over her lifeless body in the graveyard where those who've been executed are dumped. It is there were Quasimodo finally succumbs to starvation wishing to never leave her side even in death.

Below is the magnificent theatrical portrayal of this story entitled "Notre Dame De Paris". It follows the original storyline. Sadly it was never performed here in the United States nor likely will it ever be. See if you are moved as I.

Here are 52 videos of this performance courtesy of Queenisgod

This magnificent production is available at..

Wanamaker Pipe Organ In Philly

If you've never had the pleasure of visiting the Grand Court at Macy's center city store @ 13th & Market (across from city hall), plan to do so. We've not only went to see their fantastic Christmas Light program, but at other times throughout the year to be entertained by the world's largest musical instrument.

Inside The Wanamaker Organ

Wanamaker Organ Day 2009
Wanamaker Organ Festival Chorus, with the Philadelphia Brass
Both Videos Courtesy of Bill Theobald

Wanamaker Organ Day 2014. Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale

Video Courtesy: Patrick Mueller

'The Daily News' of Philadelphia did a niece piece on this with some of this organ's history.
'The Daily News' also posted their own video taking an look inside the Wanamaker Organ.."Most Philadelphians don‘t realize that the largest working musical instrument in the world is built into one of the city‘s landmarks, the former John Wanamaker department store, now Macy‘s, at 13th and Market streets.

The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ at Macy‘s is a 7-story-high contraption bigger than most people‘s houses, even rich people‘s. The vast maze of 26,677 pipes and baffles and bellows and wires and wooden stairways lies hidden behind what many of us have always thought was the Wanamaker Organ."

A schedule of performances can be found here >> The Friends Of The Wanamaker Organ Website.

There's still time left today and 4 more days to see the Macy's Christmas Light Show which runs every day of the week on every even hour from 10 am through 8 pm through Wednesday, December 31. (10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm). There is a two-hour gap between shows. Over 100,000 LED lights are used in the show.

Allentown's 2015 New Year's Eve Celebration

Friday, December 26, 2014

Was This Best Santa Tracker Ever?

Wichita - KSN TV's Chief Meteorologist Dave Freeman tracked Santa Claus during the Christmas Eve 5 PM newscast as well as at 6.

JibJab 2014 Year in Review

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sam Harris YuleTube Yule Log

Stay Snuggly Wuggly Warm Everybody

Video Credit: Michael Bukay

Over The Top Christmas Display?

Tom BetGeorge says the following video is "The Christmas Can Can as recorded by Straight No Chaser. My home was featured on ABC's The Great Christmas Light Fight and twice on ABC's Good Morning America.

This is my second year decorating. I built all the props using wood, metal, acrylic and corrugated plastic.

I am a music/teacher director for a living (COVA Conservatory in Oakland and Centerville Presbyterian Church in Fremont), hence the massive instruments! The guitar is 17', the piano is 19' and the drums are standard. About 12,500 channels running around 100,000 lights.

Come by and see it in person on the corner of Lafayette and Ruschin in Newark, California most nights from 6-10pm. Because of the light beams on the roof, I turn off the display in heavy rain.

The neighbors are very supportive especially since I use the display to raise money for the poor and homeless through my church. A lot of people have been asking about how to donate to my church's free dining program online - if that's on your heart, please use this link and God bless! Centerville Presbyterian Church Free Dining

     Merry Christmas everyone!"

NORAD's Official Santa Tracker (2014)

Click On The Picture

A Christmas Video I Made Years Ago

Monday, December 22, 2014

Police Fatal Shooting Analysis

One Side Of The Argument
A ProPublica analysis published October 10th, 2014 shows , "Young black men are 21 times as likely as their white peers to be killed by police is drawn from reports filed for the years 2010 to 2012, the three most recent years for which FBI numbers are available... Black officers account for a little more than 10 percent of all fatal police shootings. Of those they kill, though, 78 percent were black."

Other Side Of The Argument
The Daily News reported on December 2nd, 2014, "They don't make it clear that literally only a couple hundred police departments (217 in 2012, just 1.2% of all the departments in the country) report these numbers... departments that do report are predominately urban areas, which tend to have much higher concentrations of blacks. This skews the numbers to over-represent black deaths."

Analyzing Both Sides
Although there may be a greater number, I highly doubt 21x's more blacks live in urban areas then outside of them. Seems like a weak argument. Then there's this to consider. According to the 2010 census 55% of the blacks live in the South. If that is the case there should be more police shootings overall in the South then say a state like Utah?

Yet according to NBC News a report says over the last five years "Police Shootings Are The Second Most Common Homicide in Utah" of all places. A state where only 1.3% of blacks live.

We can't come to any because there's not enough statistical evidence to support an argument for either side. The greater portion of police shootings in the United States involving blacks does not occur down South where over 55% of them live. One could support the density argument regarding the Northeast, but it still doesn't explain away what's occurring in places like Utah where only 1.3% of the blacks live. A state far less dense then most which still manages to have the highest number of police shootings.

It's my belief there's no reliable way we have of knowing if police shootings have increased or were largely ignored in the past by the media. I tend to think this issue is less about race or density then it is about media hyping it up. Hence amplifying something more then it actually is Further it's my belief there's more a likelihood of confrontation in urban areas then there would be in suburban areas where enforcement is sparse.

There's no doubt some white officers may have biases, yet again it doesn't explain the Utah situation. Nor when black officers are involved in shootings they end up shooting another black person 78% of the time. Further evidence this may not be a racial issue Therefore neither race nor density appears to be at the root of the problem..

Unless Congress or the FBI starts requiring police reporting these statistics we shall never know. With the ongoing controversy it's imperative they do so. The sooner the better.

Police & People Both Out Of Hand

OK protestors we get it already. By continuing to disrupt traffic and shoppers who have nothing to do with this, both are becoming pissed off with you. Police feel threatened by you and this does nothing to advance the cause.

OK police we get it. Many of you think it's a "us" versus "them" situation in which the term "peace officer" no longer applies anymore then does the phrase to protect & to serve".. like you have some kind of special innocence no one else possesses

Seriously, both sides need to take a chill pill !

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how a few dozen protestors or cops screw things up for the other 99%. It's more then over due that both sides stand down. Cops shouldn't challenge every person they meet by screaming at them and over reacting by first clubbing or whipping out a gun. On the other hand, every time someone does something stupid they shouldn't expect police to passively coddle them when confronted. Just shut your mouth and deal with it later.

If someone's acting like an ass no police officer should have to put up with that kind of stuff. Show some respect. In return if some clown is jaywalking or selling some illegal goods on the street doesn't mean they have to roped, hog tied and be taken downtown where they'll be out in the streets within the hour anyway when a citation will do.

There's not a doubt in my mind some cops have bias when they see certain individuals based on dress or ethnicity. Nor is there any doubt in my mind certain people react against someone wearing the uniform in all circumstances no matter what. No one likes being hassled. Not the cops nor the person they come in contact with. The key here is to understand how each presents themselves towards the other and how each sets off the others misconceived perceptions towards one another when they do. This is why both sides need to show more restraint and respect then they do.

Both sides need to grow up and stop acting like bullies in which neither side can win. No good can come from it.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On This Day Even More Immigrants Arrived Here

Two ships first set sail on August 5th, 1690 and ran into trouble. On August 17th 1620 two ships set sail a second time from England for America, the 'Mayflower' and the 'Speedwell'. There were 120 passengers and crew onboard the two ships.

Unfortunately both ships had to return to England because of bad weather along with the Speedwell being deemed unseaworthy. On the third attempt on September 6th, 1620 only the Mayflower set sail with it's 102 passengers and a crew of 30.

These people heading to America's shores to settle were not the first. The Jamestown settlement was formed in1607. Long prior in 1497 John Cabot explored North America and came across an area later called Newfoundland. This led to England claiming the entire East Coast of North America for it's own. Therefore the pilgrims first had to obtain legal rights to land from a company in England for the initial place they intended to settle, the Jamestown colony in Virginia.

At any rate it was actually Provincetown Harbor in which the Mayflower first anchored on November 11th, 1690 after being blown off course. It was at this time passengers pointed out this was not the land they held legal entitlement to. After futzing around the area and pissing off the local Indians by shooting at them and ripping off their stored corn, they thought it best to pull up anchor. This area they wound up in was first explored by Captain John Smith who coined the name "New England".

On December 16th they dropped anchor once again in what is known today as Plymouth Harbor. Before disembarking they sent scouts from the ship to check things out. Finally on this day, December 21st, 1620 the first landing party came ashore in what might be considered a second wave of immigrants to arrive in this country.

After a few years they made themselves as welcome to many of the 'Native Americans' as a boatload of Cubans landing on Miami Beach would today.

History- Like watching the same movie over and over again. Only rewriting of the scripts change.
Different eras.
Different characters.
Same old storyline.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Computers May One Day Render Us Obsolete

I sometimes wonder what the end goal is for that which created us (God). After creating countless creatures we are the end product (for now). What if we are just the next step (a tool) in the continuing evolution of all things?

We individuals are composed of biological chemicals along with all the flaws inherit in them. We humans are always trying to eliminate those flaws. Should we not assume our creator (God) may be trying to perfect the same by whatever means he/she/it has at his/her/it's disposal too (us)?

Wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn

Gays Will Die Away One Day

Pat Robertson claims 'homosexuals will die out' because they can't reproduce

Oh wow. I wouldn't expect Pat to be familiar with the Qur'an.nor the Hebrew scriptures. but I would at least think he read Chapter 19 in Book of Genesis. Mostly all of these gays were wiped out by 'divine retribution' in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One would think, since they can't reproduce, none of them would be left lo after these thousands of years.

Somehow in Pat's world he can't conceive of heterosexual couples producing gay offspring. That gay couples raise children who turn out being heterosexual. Nor for that matter intelligent parents can give birth to simple minded individuals such as himself.

Anyone who gives money and follows this guy needs to seriously question themselves as to why?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Congress Will Support Normalizing Relations With Cuba

The 114th Republican controlled Congress will support 'Normalizing Relations' with Cuba. Any politician saying they'll stand in the way is blowing smoke. Here's why.

Nearly every segment of American businesses are chomping at the bit to expand their future investments in Cuba. Airlines, cruise industry, food importers, oil, banking/investment, hotel chains, and anyone involved in the travel industry to name a few. The labor's cheap and it's about the only nation left on Earth they don't have their claws into. Likely billion$ could be made on this 42,426 square mile island.

Companies' top priorities aren't concerns over who runs a foreign government. Nor whether Democrats or Republicans win or lose. They exist for only one thing. To make money.

Every congress member knows who butters their toast when it comes to campaign financing. Any member who stands in the way of corporations achieving their hearts de$ire$ will not only come up short on campaign financial support, but likely see PAC money used against them. Hence any politician who opposes companies which can make future profits down there won't be a politician for very long.

I can almost hear Obama laughing after he dumped this on the next congress's lap. Opponents can criticize him or call him a 'lame duck President' all they want. At the end of the day the ball's now in their court. So much for election upsets in Congress :-)

The Colbert Report Finale (12/18/2014)

Stephen Colbert's final show went out with a huge sendoff. What a way to end it's run. I'm sure gonna miss this show.

Stephen Will Replace Letterman After Dave Retires On May 20, 2015

Guests Included
Kareem Abdul-Jabar, JJ Abrams, Alan Alda, Christiane Amanpour, Jon Batiste, Big Bird, Cory Booker, Tom Brokaw, Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, Andy Cohen, Francis Collins, Cookie Monster, Bob Costas, Katie Couric, Bryan Cranston, Mark Cuban, Jeff Daniels, Bill DeBlasio, James Franco, Thomas Friedman, Vince Gilligan, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Gregory, Terry Gross, Mike Huckabee, Arianna Huffington, Dean Kamen, Toby Keith, Henry Kissinger, Nicholas Kristof, Paul Krugman, Alexi Lalas, Cyndi Lauper, George Lucas, Yo Yo Ma, Barry Manilow, Tim Meadows, Willie Nelson, Randy Newman, Grover Norquist, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ric Ocasek, Keith Olbermann, Mandy Patinkin, Stone Phillips Samantha Power, Pussy Riot, Charlie Rose, Dan Savage, Smaug, Shane Smith, Eliot Spitzer, Gloria Steinem, Jon Stewart, Patrick Stewart, Michael Stipe, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Taibbi, Jeff Tweedy, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Sam Waterston and Elijah Wood

Solution To College Binge Drinking?

Naomi Shavin @ 'The New Republic' thinks the way to curb binge drinking a colleges is to sell alcohol on campus.OMG could Naomi be more off base. Colleges offering drinks below market prices is practically an endorsement for young minds to pickle their brains. I would imagine 'pot' sales wouldn't be far behind either. Why not gambling tables. How about a hookah lounge while we're at it?

Here's a few more reasons why this is a really bad idea. Putting the college in line for liability lawsuits. Students showing up to classes half in the bag. Getting young women intoxicated by their male counter parts. Beer makers competing for sales by lowering wholesale prices. Then there's the issue of underage drinking by both those on and off campus with false ID's. To name a few.

A college/university's job is not only to educate young impressionable minds but also to be better citizens. Booze doesn't go towards achieving such a goal.

If there is a problem with binge drinking how is offering easier access at lower prices in any conceivable way a solution?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A History Primer On Cuba

All the chatter about how Fidel & his brother are evil dictators doesn't take in account the overall history of Cuba. They had it far worse then they do now under these two. Let's put a little perspective on this by taking a brief look over the history of Cuba and how the Cuban people always seem to get the short end of the stick no matter who rules the joint.

Going back to 1492 when Christopher Columbus's three ships landed things really started to go downhill for the Cuban people. Columbus claimed the island for Spain. Cubans finally had enough and began fighting against Spain in 1895. Spain sent around 200,000 troops who overwhelmed the population rounded them up and put them into "reconcentrados" which were similar to concentration camps. The Red Cross estimated between 200,000-400,000 Cubans died while in these camps from disease and starvation.

By 1898 the United States Spainish-American war ended. Spain then sold the Philippines, Guam and Cuba to the United States for a sum of $20 million. Then in 1902 Cuba became a independent country. There were too many clashes and uprisings to mention here in this brief highlight. Suffice it to say Fulgencio Batista ended up being elected President in 1940. After being defeated for second term (1944) he came to the United States only to return to Cuba to become it's dictator for seven years (1952-1959) until Fidel's Cuban Revolution..

Yeah Sure He's A Dictator, But He's Our Dictator
Life Under Batista's Cuba became a police state when he returned in 1952. Nearly all the Cuban liberties were taken away under his corrupt regime. He aligned himself with the American Mafia bosses (Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano). Prostitution, gambling and drugs like marijuana or cocaine were as easy to come by as candy.

The Mafia in Cuba

He took bribes which allowed American companies to own & control nearly 80% of all the oil & cattle ranches. 90% of the minerals and 40% of the sugar farmlands. When the Cuban people began to rebel he started doing executions in public. It was estimated up to 20,000 people were killed or tortured during his seven years in power. Witnesses said hundreds of those executed were hung on street lights or thrown into the streets. All this while still receiving military, logistical and financial support from the United States. No wonder the time was ripe for Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959.

Next Up, Fidel Castro
Over the next six years when the dust finally settled, up to 33,000 Cuban lives ended up dead. Still this was not the end of it. The Cuban people rose up again in 2003 in what is called "Black Spring". Fortunately instead of being killed 75 dissents were sent to prison. In 2010 all of them started being released by the Castro regime after the 'European Union' lifted it's sanctions. Cuba claimed they weren't arrested for disagreeing with the government but rather because of their links to the U.S. in trying to undermine Fidel's government.

The Way I See It
There's a hellva' lot of older investors in the United States who are still pissed they got their asses kicked out of Cuba. They along with individuals who had a vested interest with them. Also those who lost family in the fight against Fidel. It should be no wonder why then so many are opposed to normalizing anything with present day Cuba. You can say what you will but when you look over the entire history of Cuba, today's Cuban people deserve a chance at hope for all they've endured.

The Castros for all their blemishes are far less evil then what transpired over the Cuban people these past centuries. 'Normalizing relations' is more about helping the Cuban people then an endorsement for it's present government. Continued isolation of them only serves to punish those who had least to do with any of this and their extended families living here in the United States.

One more thing I want to add. Nearly 60% of Cubans are Catholics hence why the pope became involved. I find it hypocritical that many who claim they want more Christianity in schools and government involvement are now critical of the pope for doing just that. Does anyone seriously believe the pope is fond of Castro or is he just trying to look out for the people who follow him?

Obama's Handshake With Raúl Castro

Layaway Gone Away

Some customers of Kmart were notified after they fully paid for the items they had on layaway that these were no longer in stock and unavailable!

Since that time '' reports, Some Cancellations Were “Inadvertent”.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that assumes once someone puts an item on layaway the store would take the item off the shelf and store it somewhere in the back. Why in the world would any store take the chance of spoiling someone's Christmas and ruin their reputation by leaving it out in the store allowing it to be sold to someone else?

Although this may not fall under the legal heading of bait and switch it certainly must seem like it to someone this happened to.

One In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush
For the life of me I never could understand this layaway thing. It makes a lot more sense to charge something and take it home then pay the charge card payments over a longer period of time then layaways require. The only thing I can think of is either they are maxed out or have such lousy credit they can't get one. If that's the case no one should be buying things they can't pay for.

In my opinion it takes two to tango and one seems as guilty as the other.

(1) The store for making promises it doesn't intend to keep.
(2) The customer who is much like this guy...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Normalizing Relations With Cuba

It's About Time!

NYT: Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Relations -- "The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century... In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation."

I find it really stupid that an average American citizens can travel to North Korea, Iran and other enemy nations, but will be prosecuted if they visit a beach in Cuba. How much sense does that make!

Every country in the world allows it's average citizen to go to Cuba except the United States. We've had an embargo on them since October 19th, 1960 yet they are still there. Get over it!

Cuba educates and exports more doctors then almost any other nation. They've not launched any terrorists nor threatened our shores in any way. Cuba has endured countless hurricanes in which the United States has turned a blind eye while spending billions upon billions of dollars and shed American blood in other nations in the middle east who now turn against us. Cuba isn't smuggling drugs nor cartel leaders into the United States. Exactly what has been Cuba's sin against us?

We've had almost 55 years to put an end to Cuba yet they still endure. Whatever the plan was, it isn't working. While the rest of the world has gotten over it why is it we're the only country (up to now) who can't seem to move on.

Yeah sure Fidel seized properties of Cubans who later sought refuge in the United States and still harbor strong hatred,. But he also drove out the American mobsters who once made prostitutes and show girls of the Cuban women which was once America's playground. The ugly side which we refuse to acknowledge.

Out of all the nations in the world Cuba just has to be the least threat to us. We may not like their form of government but that hasn't stopped us from trading with China and other corrupt and communist nations has it?

Time is long overdue that Cuba is treated less like an enemy and more like a nation who is not a threat to us. A nation that deserves more respect then either Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other foreign governments have shown towards us after all that we've done for them. A nation and it's peoples which has demonstrated no hostility towards either our government nor the American people after all these decades deserves better treatment.