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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lack of chemistry

The expression 'hung like a stallion' must not apply to polar bears. From AP-

TOKYO -- Puzzled Japanese zookeepers have cleared up a mystery over a lack of chemistry between a couple of polar bears as both turn out to be female, a Japanese zoo said Wednesday. Tsuyoshi, a four-year-old "male" polar bear, and his 11-year-old female partner, Kurumi, have been living together since June at the Kushiro Municipal Zoo in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

But much to the frustration and puzzlement of zookeepers, the bear couple, on a breeding mission, showed no signs of chemistry, and Tsuyoshi has never gone into rut even during "his" mating period.

"Observing his behaviors, we got suspicious as to whether Tsuyoshi was really a male," the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo put Tsuyoshi under an anesthetic earlier in the month for a gender checkup, and learned he was a she.
Why wasn't this test done before they tried to mate the two polar bears? Was this zoo government run or subsidized? That may explain things.

Note- I know where the city of Kushiro is in Japan. Part of my latest webfiction story was set in the city.

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Kick the ginger

In the US last week, someone committed suicide online. In Canada, they behave differently.

Nearly 5,000 people joined the online campaign which urged members to "get them steel toes ready" for a day of booting this week.

The website appears to have been inspired by an episode of the cartoon South Park, in which a young character called Cartman describes people with red hair as "evil" and "soulless".

Dozens of children left messages on the page claiming to have carried out attacks on "National Kick a Ginger Day" on Thursday, Nov 20, and a girl in Alberta, Canada claimed that she and her 13-year-old sister were punched and kicked by pupils at their school.

The 14-year-old boy from Vancouver who ran the Facebook group has apologised and insisted that it was only meant as a joke, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has launched an investigation and warned that those involved could face charges.
Anyone who actually carried out their promise, sure they should be charged. Saying you'll act like an idiot, I don't think is a criminal offense. Either that or I'm not savvy when it comes to Canadian law.

On a light hearted note, I remember an old Abbot & Costello television episode. Before driving somewhere, Costello hangs a sign on their car. It said something like this-

This car stops for small children, old ladies, railroad crossings, animals, blondes, brunettes, but backs up 10 miles for redheads.

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Even more pain

More bad injury news for my favorite NHL hockey team-

The Panthers' anemic offense took another hit when center Nathan Horton was lost for an indefinite amount of time after sustaining a deep leg cut in the third period of Wednesday's 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Horton got tangled up with a Panthers player and New Jersey defenseman Colin White against the boards and had his leg stepped on; the skate blade cut through Horton's boot and left a deep gash.

Horton didn't suffer a major injury, but coach Pete DeBoer said because of where the cut is, Horton (six goals, seven assists) cannot play. The Panthers likely will call up Shawn Matthias from AHL Rochester to replace Horton for tonight's home game against the New York Rangers.

"He's out through the weekend, then we'll go from there," DeBoer said. "It's tough to see on the video how it happened."
With Horton now down, Florida is without three of its most productive scorers. Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik are out with injuries also. The return to Matthias to Florida is the only good news to come out of this. I was very impressed by his play during a short call up last year.

In other Panthers news, Florida's on again off again relationship with forward Wade Belak has come to a close

The Panthers traded enforcer Wade Belak to the Nashville Predators for center Nick Tarnasky on Thursday.

Tarnasky, 24, has no goals and one assist in 11 games with Nashville. The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder has 11 goals, 10 assists and a minus-23 rating in 180 games.

The Panthers placed Belak on waivers Saturday.

He cleared Monday, met with coach Pete DeBoer Tuesday and was in Wednesday's lineup against the Devils.
Only a minus 23 rating in his NHL career. Tamasky should fit in well with the Panthers. Wasn't one of the reason GM Jacques Martin traded Olli Jokinen was because the then Florida Captain had a minus 19 rating last year? More bright moves from the management of the Florida Panthers.

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Michael John Maris. He gets the award for the following-

Authorities say a North Carolina man used a Social Security number belonging to a 3-year-old girl to sign up for telephone and natural gas service. The News and Record of Greensboro reported Tuesday that 44-year-old Michael John Maris of Mebane was charged with one count of identity theft and two counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Alamance County sheriff's officials said the child's grandmother, Linda Raker, contacted authorities after a collection agency began looking for unpaid utility bills in her granddaughter's name.

The sheriff's office said the suspect is related to Raker, but did not disclose the relationship.
How very nice. The identity thief is related to his victim. Michael John Maris you are today's Knucklehead of the Day. Let someone try to steal that from you.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Suspended death penalty

Don't you wish the Chinese took product safety as seriously as they do corruption.

Beijing's former Vice Mayor Liu Zhihua was sentenced to death for taking bribes but was given a two-year reprieve, Chinese official media reported Sunday.

According to a report carried by the China Daily, the sentence was handed down Saturday by the Hengshui Intermediate People's Court in Beijing's neighboring Hebei Province.

The court found that Liu, 59, and his mistress Wang Jianrui pocketed a total of about 6.97 million yuan ($1.02 million) when Liu was vice mayor of Beijing from 1999 to 2006, during which time he oversaw various projects around the city, including construction projects for the 2008 Olympics.

It said Liu abused his power to get contract projects and loans, while he offered promotions for others in exchange for benefits.
So Mr. Liu will get to live two years knowing he'll be executed. I don't know if that is a sign of mercy or not to the former vice mayor.

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Double Whammy

This guy is a true masochist.

SANTA FE, N.M. - A 21-year-old man was accused of driving drunk and leading police on a chase that finally ended with him running over himself. The man was treated for minor injuries at a Santa Fe hospital and booked in to the Sandoval County detention center on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated, fleeing a police officer, careless driving and two other outstanding traffic warrants.

A tip to the state's DrunkBuster hot line Sunday afternoon alerted authorities to a possibly drunken driver.

State Police Officer Grace Romero spotted the man's pickup truck swerving across both lanes of a highway, driving slowly and then fast. He refused to stop.

After narrowly missing other vehicles, police said the suspect drove through a ditch and a barbed-wire fence before stopping. He tried to put the truck into park, but it ended up in reverse.

Police said the man fell from his open door and both of his legs were run over by the front driver's side tire.
That's got to hurt, between the arrest and the probable broken legs. Another story lacking the name of the criminal. This would have been great Knucklehead material.

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Coming up short

Juan C Rodruiguez writes about last night's Florida Panthers game for the Sun-Sentinel-

Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen blanked the Panthers for nearly 50 minutes when the two teams met last week in Newark, N.J.

Wednesday, he came even closer. Jay Bouwmeester spoiled the shutout bid at 17:41, and David Booth got the equalizer with 7.2 seconds remaining, but the end result was the same.
Juan, I don't know where you learned to count but Clemmensen did shutout goaltending for over 50 minutes. So he didn't just come closer, but actually passed that mark. Maybe you're talking closer to 60 minutes of hockey, the trouble with that is the confusing way you write those two opening paragraphs.

The Sun-Sentinel normally employs Steve Gorten to cover the Panthers. I like Gorten and hope he's back REAL SOON.

Florida played rotten hockey but rallied last night before losing in overtime. Its more typical for the cats to give up when down by two in the 3rd period. Overall I won't read anything into last night's comeback. I still think it will be a long year for Panthers fans.

Nathan Horton was hurt in the 3rd period last night. No word as yet on Horton's condition. Florida is already banged up enough without having to lose one of their highest scorers too.

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Neutral Ground

Raul Castro is offering to meet President-elect Obama. From AP-

Cuban President Raul Castro said in an interview released Wednesday that he would like to meet President-elect Barack Obama on "neutral ground" — and he suggested the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The Cuban leader's offer came in a rare interview in Havana with actor-director Sean Penn, who wrote about it for the Dec. 15 edition of The Nation magazine. The article was released on the magazine's Web site Wednesday.

Penn asked if Castro would meet with Obama in Washington. The Cuban president said he "would have to think about it," but that it would not be fair for either leader to go to the other's territory. Instead he suggested the base at Guantanamo.

"We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift ... we could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay," Castro said.

Raul Castro is largely seen as more pragmatic and conciliatory than his fiery older brother Fidel, and has offered to meet with U.S. officials several times since replacing his ailing sibling in mid-2006.
Guantanamo Naval Base is neutral? Obviously Raul Castro doesn't know too many US marines.

US policy towards Cuba is stuck in the 1960's. It is long past due for it to be revised. We had detente in the 70's, the opening of relations, and but can't talk to one regional nuisance? The only reason for it is politics, no one wants to antagonize the Cuban community in swing state Florida. Let them get over it, the opening of relations with Cuba would be likely to make marginal improvement in the lives of the people who live there.

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Golf World writer Tim Rostaforte. He gets the award for the following-

Earl Woods would have cried, said Tiger. He would have cried remembering stories such as the one Golf Digest senior writer Jaime Diaz wrote in the New York Times on Nov. 9, 1990. The first three paragraphs paint a different picture than the press release issued Oct. 16 on, when Aronimink was announced as host of Tiger's tournament:

The executive director of the PGA of America said yesterday that Aronimink Golf Club was right to withdraw as host of the 1993 P.G.A. Championship rather than risk a repeat of the furor that arose this year at Shoal Creek.


Just to give the Tiger-AT&T announcement another layer of historical perspective, Woods was 17 at the time of Diaz's article. He had just won his third straight USGA Boys Junior title.
The Diaz article was indeed written on November 9, 1990. Here's a link to it. However Tiger wasn't 17 years old or a three time USGA Boys Junior champ at the time. Woods was 14 years old, and his first Boys Junior title was still almost a year away.

Tim isn't done screwing up yet.

For a city with such a rich tradition in golf, the Philadelphia market has been displaced on the PGA Tour calendar. The area hosted the SEI Pennsylvania Classic in 2000 and 2002. Before that the IVB Philadelphia Golf Classic was played at Whitemarsh Valley GC in Chestnut Hill in 1970s, and was won by headliners Billy Casper (1970), Tom Weiskopf (71-73), Hubert Green (74), Tom Kite (76) and Jack Nicklaus (78).
The IVB Philadelphia Golf Classic was a PGA Tour event from 1963 to 1980 not just the 70's. Rostaforte mistakenly says Tom Weiskopf won the tournament from 1971 to 1973, which is wrong because JC Snead won in Philadelphia in 1972. That could be chalked up as a typo but the real screwup is omitting The King Arnold Palmer from the list of great former IVB winners. Palmer won the inaugural event in 1963.

I probably shouldn't expect too much accuracy from anyone writing at Golf World. Alone one of their editors. Tim Rostaforte's sloppy reporting earns him today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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What are you doing here?

Do people really visit The Florida Masochist on a holiday? This post wasn't written today, but on Wednesday and scheduled for posting. I may have a few queue a few more posts for the day. What's a day without a Knucklehead award?

The Sci-Fi Channel is having a James Bond festival today. Is Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is not Enough sci-fi movies? I don't classify them as that. This is an improvement over three years ago, when Sci-Fi did a zombie movie festival thanksgiving. Someone may say that was in bad taste.

I just want to wish all our readers a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. I have no special plans for today. The wife, mother-in-law, and I will have dinner around 4 pm and afterwards may go see a movie. Have a safe and enjoyable day everyone.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First buy

This is insane.

Think you're a serious shopper because you plan on hitting the stores before the sun comes up on Friday?

Lakeland's Laura Johnson, along with her 16-year-old son, Brandon Buckler, were camped outside Lakeland's Best Buy, 4215 U.S. 98 N., at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Though they were easily the first in line, they were joined by a few others later in the day.

"We want to get good deals on digital cameras, TVs and laptops," said Johnson, a cosmetologist. She added she was hoping to get a laptop for herself, another for a friend and another for her son, Chad, who planned on joining her on the sidewalk later in the day.

Johnson isn't sure what deals will be offered at Best Buy on Friday morning, referred to as Black Friday by retailers because they typically go from "in the red" to "in the black."
They are in line for a sale still three days away and Johnson and Buckler don't even know what will be on sale. No wonder people consider Floridians crazy.


"I love you, You love me...."

Officials in Fort Lupton Colorado take an interesting approach with teenagers who play music too loudly.

The members of the rock band Revolving Reverence have big plans. They want platinum albums. They want sold-out shows. They want legions of fans.

On the night 9NEWS visited them, however, all the freshmen in high school wanted was way out of the room they were in.

"You can't fall asleep," Rueben Fuentes says right before letting out a bit of a sigh.

Fort Lupton Police recently caught them and about a dozen or so others residents violating the town's noise ordinance. So as a form of punishment, the town had them sit in a room for an hour and listen to everything from Barry to Barney.

That's Barry Manilow and Barney the Purple Dinosaur in case you're wondering.

"These people should have to listen to music they don't like," said Judge Paul Sacco.
Joanne Jacobs notes there have been few repeat offenders. I wonder why?

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To Catch a Thief

A billboard company in New Zealand is taking an interesting approach.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A thief caught on camera stealing expensive equipment picked the wrong target if wanted to keep a low profile: a billboard company that has plastered his image around New Zealand's largest city seeking his capture.

The unidentified thief was photographed by a suspicious onlooker as he uncoupled 15 electrical transformers used to boost the lighting on a billboard in Auckland.

The photographer knew the pillaged sign belonged to Mark Venter, who runs OTW Advertising, one of New Zealand's oldest billboard companies.

So when the photographer offered pictures of the thief in action it cost Venter nothing to mount the images on four city billboards with the inscription: "Who is this Thief? Reward $500."

The photo of "the ratbag" was "too good an opportunity to let go," Venter told The Associated Press. "We've all had stuff stolen ... but usually they don't leave this calling card."

He said he had received more than 100 calls since the photograph was posted six days ago, though most were calls supporting his campaign rather than offering information on the crime.
Wellington has a population of 400,000 give or take a little. With all the publicity this gets and the use of the creative use billboards, I'm betting the thief gets caught.


Mad rush

Be glad you're not traveling to Thailand right now. From AP-

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thousands of bleary-eyed tourists mingled with yellow-clad protesters who brought flights to a halt at Bangkok's international airport Wednesday, dealing a major blow to Thailand's tourism industry during its peak season.

The tourism industry, which makes up 6 percent of the economy and employs about a million people, was already flagging after protesters in late August shut down airports serving popular beach resorts in Thailand's south.

With the latest unrest paralyzing the airport -- which handles about 40 million passengers a year -- during the peak tourist season, and TV networks broadcasting images of the chaos worldwide, the damage this time is likely to be more severe.

"Our main concern is to get the first flight home and never come back," said Australian newlywed Robert Grieve, 32, drinking a can of Heineken at 9 a.m. as he leaned against a vacated Thai Airways check-in counter. "I haven't even seen any staff since last night."

Fred Thierry, a Shanghai-based French executive with a printing materials company, had been stranded at the airport since 8 p.m. Tuesday.

"I have some meetings in Shanghai today," he said. "I had a big meeting with big customers."

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport was shut down Tuesday after thousands of protesters -- dressed in yellow to symbolize loyalty to Thailand's revered king -- stormed the complex. Some of them were masked and carrying metal rods.
Sounds like non-thinking hooligans to me. What could possibly be the reasoning of the people who caused the airport to close? Turists and ordinary people who work at the facility are more likely to be angry than sympathetic to any cause the protesters support.

I've experienced a airport closing once in my life. It was December 1st 1989, and I was flying to Manila Philippines to meet my wife who would a few days later be going for her embassy interview in order to immigrate to the USA. A coup attempt happened in Manila that day and I got stranded in Seoul South Korea.

One of the coup plotters is now a Senator. They have a funny way of penalizing traitors in that part of the world. Will one of the Thai protesters benefit from the chaos they caused like Gregorio Honasan has?

Update- I will give Gregorio credit. He and the 89 plotters knew how to try toppling a government, today when a so called coup attempt happens in the PI, the only threat caused is to hotel guests and a people trying to get married.

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. I give him the award for the brief interview conducted of him by 60 minutes last Sunday. This in a segment detailing immigrants who after their American spouses have died, face deportation. These victims of 'The Widow Penalty' include mothers who have children born of their marriages to Americans.

Watch CBS Videos Online

If you don't want to watch the video, here is the exchange between Simon and Chertoff from a transcript at CBS' website.

60 Minutes tried to find out why the government is being so tough on widows, but immigration and its parent agency, Homeland Security declined our requests for interviews. So 60 Minutes went to the top, to a press conference held by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

Asked why his department is refusing U.S. residency to legitimately married widows, Chertoff says, "All I can tell you is, without getting into you know, specific cases and arguing the facts and circumstances that I think the lawyers have an obligation to pursue the matter through the system until we get a final resolution from the courts."

"Four courts, sir, have ruled in favor of the widows. And your department appeals the cases every time," Simon points out.

"I think what you're seeing is a normal part of responsible lawyering, if I may so," Chertoff replies.
Note- lawyers defending these widows have won decisions in four separate court decisions. Lawyers for CIS continue to appeal despite being 0-4.

Is that the best Secretary Chertoff can do, it is what lawyers do? What a defense of a travesty of a immigration policy. Legal Immigrant parents of US citizens are facing deportation, and this is the policy of a Republican administration that ran for office saying it supports family values. Does family values include the breaking up of families? No wonder voters decided they had enough with Repulican idiocies like this and others and voted for a Democratic President for the next four years. For non defense of the widow penalty, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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A Vatican fears people will lose their soul their souls due to their use of cellphones and the internet.

'In the age of the mobile phone and the internet it is probably more difficult than before to protect silence and to nourish the interior dimension of life,' said Fr Lombardi. 'It is difficult but necessary.

'Today this is a very grave threat, and it is the most irreparable misfortune,' he said, adding that if the spiritual dimension of a person was not guarded and nourished or it could 'become barren to the point of drying up and, indeed, dying.

'Reflection, meditation, contemplation are as necessary as breathing,' he said.

'In the age of the mobile phone and the internet it is more difficult than before to protect silence and so nourish the interior dimension of life. It is difficult but necessary.'
By chance I wonder how many Cardinals have cell phones? Then where do they keep them? The last time I looked there were no pockets on the cassocks they wore.

How is the internet noisy? A distraction yes, one I can't avoid unless I'm in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Fr. Lombardi is probably referring to the time these activities consume in a person's every day life. Then on the other hand the access to communications and information they provide is essential if one doesn't want to be left behind. You could say cellphones and the internet are as essential as breathing in the developed world. I do however wish people would turn their contraptions off during Sunday mass.

A person can lose their soul, but I don't think its because we spend too much time on cellphones.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To the Golf cart Robin

This 48-year-old must not be very fleet of foot.

A suspected robber wearing underwear on his head to hide his identity was chased down Monday afternoon by customers in a golf cart outside a South Salt Lake pro shop, police said.

The 48-year-old is suspected of approaching a clerk at Golf in the Round (600 W. 3300 South), demanding money and threatening the clerk with a 10-inch butcher knife, police wrote in a statement.

The clerk noticed the man was wearing men's underwear as a mask and replied, "You gotta be kidding," police wrote. When the robber moved forward with the knife, the clerk tried to wrest it away. The blade broke off, and the robber left the store and ran across the driving range, police wrote.

The clerk, whose hands were cut in the struggle, alerted customers to the robbery, police said. The customers used a golf cart to chase the man and keep him from escaping until officers arrived, police wrote.

The man was booked into jail.
If only the robber was named, I'd give him a Knucklehead award. Damn you Salt Lake Tribune!

Hat tip- Geoff Shackelford

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Man's best friend

There has to be a moral to this story but I have yet to come up with one.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A man who was accidentally shot by a 12-gauge shotgun on Saturday after his dog jumped into a boat is recovering. Matthew Marcum's legs and buttocks were injured in the bizarre incident and he was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health

Marcum's father, Henry, said his 23-year-old son was about to tie up an 11-foot open aluminum boat, when his 3-year-old Labrador, Drake, jumped into the boat.

Matthew Marcum said his dog, Drake, is a good dog and he isn't upset with him.
Dogowners are faithful too. How long before a Oregon legislator proposes a law requiring dogs be kept away from loaded firearms?


The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Cheongju District Court Judge Oh Jun-geun. He gets the award for the following-

A court handed down suspended jail terms to four family members who repeatedly raped a teenage relative who suffered from an intellectual disability.

The Cheongju District Court Thursday sentenced an 87-year-old grandfather and two uncles of a 16-year-old girl to four-year suspended prison terms for sexually assaulting and raping the girl for the last seven years. Another uncle received a three-year suspended jail term.

The court acknowledged that their crime was ``sinful'' as they used the young girl, who is their family member, to satisfy their sexual desires. But it gave the suspended terms, saying, ``The accused have fostered the girl in her parents' place. Considering her disability, she will also need their care and help in living in the future.''

The court added it took the accused people's old age and illness into consideration.

Citizens strongly denounced the ruling, saying the punishments were too lenient for the grave crime. Internet users said it is absurd to release them to ``take care of her,'' as she needs help from others, not from rapists. They also said those committing such a crime do not deserve consideration regarding old age or illnesses.

Some bloggers are collecting signatures to oust the judge who made the ruling. The prosecution also decided to appeal. ``One of them even has a previous conviction for rape but was given a suspended term. The ruling is unacceptable,'' a prosecutor said..
The sentencings aren't unacceptable, they are an outrage. Whoever the judge is(If I knew a name, I'd crown him personally as the Knucklehead), gave a rape victim back to her attackers. That is simply insane, but sadly predictable. For two reasons.

1- The South Korean justice system is a joke. Case in point, the perpetrators of the Sampoong Department store collapse got under 15 years for causing 500 people to die.

A decade ago an American who was traveling with his Korean wife on a subway, gets attacked. Who faced criminal charges? The American of course.

2- Korean cultural beliefs and children. There have been over a million children adopted from Korea since the end of the Korean war. Why? A single mother who for whatever reason is no longer with her father, faces a near impossible task of finding a husband. In Korean culture family bloodlines are very important. That's why children other than infants are rarely adopted. The new child's parents would have difficulty passing he or she off as their own. Those children who aren't adopted spend their lives in conditions that would turn most of my readers stomachs.

Neither of these excuse what this court did, it just helps to explain the insanity. Therefore I name Cheongju District Court Judge Cheongju District Court Judge Oh Jun-geun today's Knucklehead of the Day.

Hat tip- Brian in Jeollanam-do via Marmot's Hole. I must thank thank Brian for helping me learn the individual Judge's name.

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Lipstick on a white elephant

The ugliest piece of architecture in the world is getting a facelift. Yes, the Ryugyong Hotel after being abandoned for 16 years is having glass panels installed.

Why don't they just tear down the monstrosity some call 'Hotel of Doom', 'Phantom Hotel', or The 'Phantom Pyramid'? In Asia saving face is often more important than displaying common sense. No hotel guest is likely to ever stay in the place. In the meantime more money will be poured down a hole making this building pretty. LOL, bureaucrats are alike all over. They all know how to waste money.

Hat tip- Robert Koehler at Marmot's Hole

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Bad loss for the Dolphins

He got injured in yesterday's 48-28 loss to New England. From ESPN-

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Greg Camarillo is out for the season with a knee injury.

Camarillo left Miami's 48-28 loss to New England in the second half Sunday and did not return.

"He's not good, he's done," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Monday. "You don't want to lose a player like that. He's been really productive for us."

The injury ends Camarillo's breakout year with the Dolphins.

He leads the Dolphins with 55 receptions for 613 yards and two touchdowns after catching a total of eight passes in his first two NFL seasons.
The loss of Camarillo is a big blow to Miami. Of their receiving corps, Camarillo was easily the most productive though Ted Ginn has been prodcuing good numbers of late. Miami is 6-5 after the loss yesterday, I think they'll finish over .500 based on the weakness of the fins schedule rather than the strength of the team. New England made mincemeat of the Dolphin defense. Over 400 yards passing, and other teams(Houston, NY Jets and Arizona) have shown how flimsy Miami's pass defense is. Lets say Miami wins one of the two games(Buffalo and the NY Jets both on the road) I think they will end up losing and instead makes the playoffs, it will be a quick out for the fins. Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New England, The Jets or some other playoff team will do a number on Miami like John Elway and Denver did(38-3) about 10 years ago.

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Who will face Sen. Mel Martinez in 2010?

The Florida Senator and former GOP chairman comes up for re-election that year. From the Palm Beach Post-

With Dems already branding Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez a top target for 2010, much speculation has focused on Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink as a potential Democratic challenger. Sink is also a hot commodity in the 2010 gubernatorial speculation market. Sink, for the record, says she's focusing on her job and not commenting on 2010 rumors.

If Sink doesn't run for Senate, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, will be among those attracting speculation. One of the most prodigious money-raisers in Congress, Klein has about $1.7 million left over in his campaign account. Klein says he's too busy dealing with the nation's financial meltdown and national catastrophe insurance to think about 2010.
Honestly that's a dumb statement. Klein is up for re-election in 2010, of course he's thinking about it.

Sink would be an attractive state wide candidate. As for Klein, he is my Congressman, and was re-elected with 55% of the vote earlier this month against a underfunded Republican candidate. Another South Florida Congressman, Peter Deutsch, tried to get the democratic nod for this Senate seat in 2004. It is my view Klein would have as little success in a statewide race as Deutsch did.

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is New London County(CT) State Attorney Michael Regan. He gets the award for the following-

Almost 18 months after a pornography conviction that could have sent her to jail for 40 years was thrown out, former Norwich substitute teacher Julie Amero plead guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct Friday afternoon.

The plea deal before Superior Court Judge Robert E. Young in Norwich ends a long-running drama that attracted attention from around the world.

"Oh honey, it's over. I feel wonderful," Amero said a few minutes after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and agreeing to surrender her teaching license. She had originally been charged with 10 counts of risk of injury to a minor and later convicted on four of them.

"The Norwich police made a mistake. It was proven. That makes me feel like I'm on top of the world."

In June of 2007, Judge Hillary B. Strackbein tossed out Amero's conviction on charges that she intentionally caused a stream of "pop-up" pornography on the computer in her classroom and allowed students to view it.

Confronted with evidence compiled by forensic computer experts, Strackbein ordered a new trial, saying the conviction was based on "erroneous" and "false information."

Friday, New London County State's Attorney Michael Regan said the state was prepared to go to trial again, but because of Amero's ill health agreed to the reduce the felony charges to a single misdemeanor.
Reducing the charge to a misdemeanor is a joke as was the whole prosecution of Julie Amero. Kevin wrote about this miscarriage of justice over a year ago.

A comment on conviction of Norwich, Connecticut substitute teacher Julie Amero who faces up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of exposing seventh-grade students to pornographic images on a school PC. Sunbelt Software president Alex Eckelberry has been debunking the prosecutor's case, and has put his money where his mouth is for extra forensic examination. Anyone who's ever seen a good old fashion spyware/malware infested Windows 98 PC knows that this is a real travesty...
I'm not terribly computer literate, but know how vulnerable Windows operating systems are to spyware. Apparently no one at a prosecutor's office knows that or they are just too lazy to find out. In the process an innocent person's life was ruined, and this is why I name New London County(CT) State Attorney Michael Regan today's Knucklehead of the Day.

Hat tip- Walter at Overlawyered

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Get out of jail

There is something seriously wrong with the German justice system. From AFP-

Christian Klar, an ex-member of the 1970s German guerrilla group the Red Army Faction (RAF), will be released in January after a quarter-century in prison, authorities decided on Monday.

Klar, 56, jailed in 1982 over multiple murders including the assassination of federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback in 1977, will be freed on January 3 on parole, a court in the southern city of Stuttgart ruled.

Buback became the first victim of a bloody period dubbed the "German Autumn" when he was shot in his Mercedes car by an RAF gunman on a motorcycle in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe.

The RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang after its founders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, mounted a violent campaign from 1977 to 1982 against what it called the oppressive capitalist state of West Germany.

Other victims included industrialist Hans Martin Schleyer and banker Juergen Ponto.

It targeted the German elite and the US military based in Germany and is suspected of killing 34 people. The group officially disbanded in 1998.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt, who led the RAF with Klar after the group's original leaders committed suicide in jail, was released from prison in March 2007 after serving 24 years for her role in nine murders.

Klar has never repented for his crimes. In May 2007 German President Horst Koehler refused to pardon Klar or Birgit Hogefeld, the two remaining RAF members still in prison.
You terrorize a nation, murder or help to murder three dozen people, and you don't spend the rest of your life in jail after getting imprisoned? I thought the Broward County court system was the most screwed up, but that opinion is revised.

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Goodbye Wade Belak

How many Florida Panther fans will notice or care? From the Sun-Sentinel-

When the Panthers waived veteran tough guy Wade Belak on Saturday, it was part of the search for answers from a team that has three wins in 12 games.

But the move might have created one more question among Panthers players: Could they be next?

"It makes you take a look in the mirror," center Brett McLean said. "If it happens to someone like Wade, who has done a really good job for us this year, it could happen to anybody."

General Manager Jacques Martin and coach Pete DeBoer said waiving Belak was, in part, an effort to shake up a team off to a disappointing start. Martin said he didn't know if any more statement moves were planned and said the team has an important week ahead that he will take "day by day."


DeBoer hinted that waiving Belak was due to his lack of getting into fights when needed. His ice time had diminished and he played just three minutes Friday.
Belak played very little all year and when he was on ice, he was barely visible. In addition to acquiring Belak late in the 2007-08 season, Florida traded a draft choice for this defenseman. Johansson is back in Sweden now and Belak is waived. Those deals turned out so well. NOT!

I think the real reason Florida cut Belak was that DeBoer realizes the cats need to shore up their anemic offense and can't afford to waste roster space on a non-scoring forward. Based on past history, I'm probably giving Panther coaches and management too much credit.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sorry Hillary

Doesn't Barack Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School, know the constitution? From the Washington Post-

Even if the vetting problems involving former president Bill Clinton's finances can be resolved, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may face another roadblock on her way to the secretary of state's chair.

It's called the Constitution of the United States, specifically, Article One, Section Six, also known as the emoluments clause. ("Emoluments" means things like salaries.) It says that no member of Congress, during the term for which he was elected, shall be named to any office "the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during his term." This applies, we're advised, whether the member actually voted on the raises or not.

In Clinton's case, during her current term in the Senate, which began in January 2007, cabinet salaries were increased from $186,600 to $191,300. This situation has arisen before, most famously in the case called "The Saxbe Fix," but it involves a controversial, somewhat tortured reading of the Sacred Document.
It is just plain incredible no one has thought of this before. That goes for both the media and law professor bloggers. Here is the particular part of the constitution in question-

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
President Nixon worked his way around it when he nominated Ohio Senator William Saxbe to be Attorney General in 1973. Will Obama risk a constitutional battle by nominating Hillary?

Doug at Below the Beltway writes-

Could it possibly be.......

"You know, Hillary, I really wanted you to be my Secretary of State, but the Constitution says I can't have you. Sorry."
Talk about out clauses.


Here comes Ji Yai II

The 20-year-old from South Korea won the ADT Championship today. It was Shin's 3rd LPGA win this year without her being a LPGA member.

Shin won by one shot over Karrie Webb. It was basically a Shin-Webb battle except for a few brief moments when Seon Hwa Lee tied Shin with a birdie on 16. Lee promptly double bogied 17 and finished 3rd.

Along with that trophy she is holding, Ji Yai won a million dollars today. The ADT is the only LPGA tournament where the winner takes home that large a prize.

Suzann Pettersen shot a 79. The fiery Norwegian could be seen taking out her frustrations on her caddy. Paula Creamer was never a factor on Sunday.

Only two weeks ago I wrote this about Shin after her win at the Mizuno Classic-

She will be eligible for Rookie of Year, assuming Ji-Yai comes to play in the US. She has been tearing up the KLPGA, to a lesser extent the JLPGA for a few years now. You read it here first, the second South Korean LPGA golfer to qualify for the Golf Hall of Fame will be Ji-Yai Shin. Take that to the bank.

The complaints the Koreans are taking over the LPGA are about to get louder. Isn't it about the best golfer is, not where in the world they are from?
Take this down also. If Shin plays the LPGA Tour in 2009, I predict Lorena Ochoa's days as the #1 player in the world are numbered.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winner is Senior General Than Shwe and the rest of Myanmar's ruling junta. They get the award for the following-

Myanmar's most famous comedian was sentenced Friday to 45 years in prison, in the latest and most high-profile case of citizens given long jail terms by the internationally-reviled military regime.

Zarganar was arrested with sports writer Zaw Thet Htwe in June after organising deliveries of aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 people dead or missing when it pulverised the country the previous month.

"(Zarganar) was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment on three charges... There are another four charges he has to stand trial for," Ma Nyein, Zarganar's sister told AFP.

She said Zaw Thet Htwe was handed a 15-year jail term on Friday.

The pair join more than 100 people jailed by the military-ruled courts over the past month, with more than 20 student activists handed maximum terms of 65 years for their part in Buddhist monk-led protests last year.
I don't think there will be any disagreement with my saying that someone being placed in jail for humanitarian relief efforts is just outrageous. That's a understatement.

The sheer outlandishness of these criminal sentences come at the same time General Than Shwe wrote a column saying it was every Myanmar citizen's duty to support the political process.

The head of Myanmar's military junta made a rare call Saturday for all citizens to back a controversial "road map" to democracy.

Writing in an article on the front page of the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, Senior General Than Shwe said it was every citizen's national duty to support the political process.

"The state's seven-step road map is being implemented to build a peaceful, modern and developed new democratic nation with flourishing discipline," he wrote on the eve of the country's national day.

"The entire population are duty-bound to actively participate with united spirit and national fervour in the drive to see the seven-step road map," the paper quoted him as saying.
How is sentencing journalists and relief workers consistent with democracy? It isn't, and I name Senior General Than Shwe and the rest of Myanmar's ruling junta today's Knuckleheads of the Day.

Hat tip- Ann Althouse

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Annika Sorenstam's drug test

Today at the ADT is causing a stir. Ron Sirak wrote about it. Steve Elling had the following to say.

"I'm serious and I was tested two weeks ago, so I don't really know what's going on," she said testily.

Guess they hadn't heard that she was retiring.

"I have no idea, but they're not going to let me go," she said, forcing a laugh. "Yeah, I guess you get tested every other week now."


Even for an organization known for making head-shaking decisions over the years, this ranks at the bottom of the latrine in terms of asinine, idiotic developments.

I'm not going to get into whether this is an insult or not. Annika has flouted rules or broke them in the past, and I've never been willing to give her a free pass just because she's a golf superstar.

When was she tested before by the LPGA? Two weeks ago the LPGA was in Japan, Annika wasn't in the field. Three weeks ago the LPGA was in South Korea, Annika was playing a LET event in China. Four weeks ago, Annika played a LPGA event in China. Here's Annika's LPGA results for 2008.

Annika played in Mexico last week. Did Annika mean Mexico or the LPGA China event? Or did she mixup the LET and the LPGA? I don't know if the LET has a drug testing policy. Or did Annika make it up? I don't believe that.

No member of the media at the ADT noted the discrepancy, just Annika's anger. Did they give Annika a free pass or did no one know how LPGA schedule? Probably the later, which shows we golf bloggers know this tour better than the old fashioned media that covers the sport.

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The carnage

The news out of the LPGA event in West Palm Beach isn't who made the 36 hole cut or Annika Sorenstam having to take a drug test after play ended or led at the end of the second day(IT don't matter, all scores reset before play begins again tomorrow) but who missed the cut. Here's a sampling-

#1 Lorena Ochoa
#2 Yani Tseng
3-time ADT Championship winner Annika Sorenstam
2007 Major Champions and South Floridians- Morgan Pressel and Cristie Kerr

I picked Kerr, and Ochoa to be around on Sunday. So they missing the cut comes as a complete surprise.

So who's left- Katherine Hull, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, In Kyung Kim, Jeong Jang, Angela Park, Seon Hwa Lee, Ji Yai Shin, Helen Alfredsson, Eun hee Ji, Jee Young Lee, Suzann Pettersen, Sun Young Yoo, Karen Stupples, Karrie Webb.

Unlike in earlier years, no playoff was needed to narrow the field down to 16.

That's 7 South Koreans(IK Kim, Jang, Lee, Shin, Ji, Lee, and Yoo) plus two Korean-Americans(Park and C Kim). If we go by the South of the Border factor, this week's winner will be Angela Park. The 2006 ADT champ was Julieta Granada born in Paraguay, In 2007 it was Lorena Ochoa born in Mexico. Angela Park was born in Brazil. If Natalie Gulbis was around and got paired with Angela on Sunday, her winning the one million dollar grand prize would be all but certain. Gulbis played with Granada and Ochoa on Sunday when they won.

The only thing keeping the golf media from being dismayed over those players not around on the weekend, is probably the presence of media darling Paula Creamer, and part-time Florida resident Karrie Webb. Creamer would pass Ochoa for #1 on the money list with a win on Sunday, but I'm sticking with my original pick. Ji Yai Shin.

Others blogging on today's play- Ryan, Hound Dog, and The Constructivist

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A blah effort

That best describes the Florida Panthers game against New Jersey last night. Florida out shot 24-19 but lost 3-1. Simple problem with the game- Florida let New Jersey control it. Some players looked like they were barely putting in an effort.

Sun Sentinel hockey blogger wrote-

He hasn't been able to get this team going on a consistent basis -- who can do it? -- and in particular Nathan Horton.

He tried to take the pressure off Horton coming into this season. He made him a center to give him more responsibility. Still, no response. There are times Horton hustles and there are times when he appears to be going through the motions.
Horton alternates between being a terror and invisible. Last night he was the later.

Against New Jersey, Florida faced a third string goalie who probably belongs in the AHL. Tonight they play again in Boston. No rest, and against a goalie in Tim Thomas, who is playing brilliantly but has had problems with the cats in the past. Which Florida team will show up?

What does Florida coah DeBoer think of his team so far this season?

Nearly one-fourth through the season, DeBoer said the Panthers' report card deserves a 'C.'
I'd say more like a C- or D+

Scott Burnside at ESPN has his own ratings-

Tampa Bay Lightning: D-plus
Firing coach Barry Melrose 16 games into the season illustrates the state of flux in which the Lightning find themselves. Ownership and management can't seem to decide what kind of team they want to be, both on the ice and financially, as the trade of minute-muncher Matt Carle to Philadelphia attests. There is plenty of time to turn this ship around given the talent in the lineup and the surprising play of netminder Mike Smith, but it won't happen if everyone isn't pulling on the same rope, which hasn't been the case so far. The immediate question facing the team is whether new rookie coach Rick Tocchet has the personality to make sure that cohesiveness takes place.


Florida Panthers: D
New coach, new lineup, new promises … same results in South Florida for the bottom-dwelling Panthers. Rookie coach Peter DeBoer was hoping to rely on a rock-solid defense and goaltending to keep the young Panthers in the playoff hunt, but they're 16th in goals against per game and 28th in goals scored per game. The Panthers have yet to win more than two games in a row at any point this season. Jay Bouwmeester had not scored through 17 games and will become the elephant in the corner as GM Jacques Martin will have to decide whether to move the franchise defenseman. Bouwmeester can become an unrestricted free agent in July and has showed little inclination to sign on for the long haul in Florida (and why would he?).
Which I find peculiar for several reasons.

1- The records of Tampa and Florida so far

Lightning- 5-7-6
Panthers- 7-10-1

Florida is playing mediocre this year, but not much was expected of the team. On the other hand some hockey analysts thought Tampa was at least a playoff team or even a potential Stanley Cup contender.

2- Burnside hyped Tampa before the 2008-09 season began. How can give the dismal Lightning a better than Florida considering their under performance?

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Everyone has a hand out

In Canada it is charities that are doing it.

Canada's charities, facing falling donations and rising demand from the poor due to the economic crisis, are asking cash-strapped Ottawa to look elsewhere for ways to balance the government budget.

The nation's charity lobby group, Imagine Canada, said Thursday it has drafted a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper ahead of next week's economic statement asking the government not to slash charitable funding.

"We urge the Government of Canada to maintain existing levels of funding to Canada's charities and nonprofits through its grants and contributions programs," Imagine Canada said in the letter. "Now is not the time to reduce support to communities through federal funding cuts."

Imagine Canada said it was also seeking additional tax benefits for charities.
Is it too much to ask people to be self sufficient? If you can't thrive with the present tax laws and subsidies, maybe it is time to re-evaluate what your organization is trying to do than ask for more.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

I'm talking about the reasons for British children not to have their homework done.

Technology failure is quickly replacing the destructive dog as the top excuse used by schoolchildren who haven't done their homework.

A Pixmania survey found that the average British teacher hears 15 excuses relating to homework a week.

When taken across the entire UK, that works out at 6.5 million excuses per week, with about 1.3 million of these related to technology.

Of the top-five tech homework excuses, computer crashes resulting in lost essays came out on top.

Others were accidental deletion after completing the homework and a failed internet connection preventing the carrying out of research.

The survey found that 68 per cent of pupils are now submitting schoolwork typed on a computer, which makes it far easier to blame technological faults.
So the excuses continue, the reasons have just adapted to the 21st century.

And what has happened to the old standby of blaming fido for not having your schoolwork ready?

Other more inventive excuses involved Russians hacking computers and stealing the homework as well as dogs urinating on the computer resulting in the computer exploding.
Dogs are getting skillful these days too.

Hat tip- Joanne Jacobs

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ADT Championship Day two

Play begins today at 9:30 when Cristie Kerr tees off. Kerr will be playing by herself because Inbee Park withdrew after 14 holes yesterday. Inbee must be either sick or injured, for she was 13 over par for the round.

Katherine Hull has the first round lead after a first round 68. She leads Ji Yai Shin and In Kyung Kim by one shot. Was I ever on target with my pre-tournament predictions for Shin, Hull, and Inbee(Though I was far off with Kerr but so was Greg Stoda at the Palm Beach Post)

Here are all the first round scores-

68 Katherine Hull
69 Ji-Yai Shin, In-Kyung Kim
70 Na Yeon Choi, Eun-Hee Ji, Ji Young Oh
71 Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, Karen Stupples
72 Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, Maria Hjorth Jee Young Lee, Candie Kung, Morgan Pressel
73 Angela Stanford, Jeong Jang, Helen Alfredsson Karrie Webb, Nicole Castrale, Angela Park
74 Annika Sorenstam, Hee-Won Han, Sun Young Yoo
75 Lorena Ochoa, Song-Hee Kim, Laura Diaz
78 Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng, Meena Lee
WD Inbee Park

Oh no 5 of the top 6 are South Korean and only one white American in the top nine and two in the top 16. Someone must be done to fix this inequity, maybe a foreign player quota but only for non-blondes.(Rolling my eyes)

Since scores reset after both Friday's and Saturday's play, the goal is to survive the cut after 36 and 54 holes. The big news yesterday is how Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, struggled. Ochoa and Sorenstam are in no way out of the picture for the weekend but they will have to play very good golf today.

The two best LPGA bloggers around, Hound Dog and The Constructivist, are also commenting on yesterday's play.

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How low can it go?

Gas prices at the pump are falling are falling below $2 a gallon in South Florida. From the Miami Herald-

Gasoline prices, in stunning free fall, broke the two-buck barrier at some South Florida stations on Thursday.

There is no need to rush out for a bargain fill-up. By the weekend, a gallon likely will be even cheaper.

Linked to the crude oil that is refined to produce it, gasoline has undergone record price plunges, faster even than the Dow Jones industrial average's tumble. It may well keep dropping until the new year, analysts said, offering beleaguered consumers an early and unexpected holiday gift in an otherwise Scroogean economy.

''I don't think we have ever seen a month like October when gas prices fell by five or six cents a day,'' said Gregg Laskoski, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association Auto Club South, which tracks gasoline prices in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. ``It's phenomenal.''

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Florida has fallen a staggering 49 percent to $2.06 since an all-time high set only four months ago. In July, gas in Miami and Fort Lauderdale cost about $4.16 a gallon. On Thursday, the averages were $2.20 and $2.14 respectively.

Nationally, the drop since July has been more than half to $2.02, with 23 states now posting average regular prices below $2 a gallon.
The lowest price in my corner of Palm Beach County is $2.15 a gallon. I'm predicting I see prices under $2 by the first week in December.

Falling gas prices when taken by themselves is good economic news. It makes my visit to the gas station every 10 days or so less painful. Wizbang contributor Lorie Byrd also got her wish. The lower prices at the pump however is a symptom of the slumping worldwide economy. Demand is down because of production decreases. So while consumers are taking a smaller visible hit at the gas station, they are being hit less visibly in other places and probably much more substantially.

Hat tip- SFDB

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville South Carolina. He gets the award for the following-

South Carolina's Charleston-based Roman Catholic Diocese said Friday that it doesn't believe parishioners who voted for Barack Obama should have to seek penance before partaking Holy Communion, a condition a Greenville priest suggested this week because of Obama's stance on abortion.

The priest, Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, couldn't be reached for comment late Friday.

"As administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman's statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church's teachings," Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin said Friday in a posting on the diocese's Web site. "Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated."

On Friday, Newman said in a message posted on St. Mary's church Web site that his original statement had been misunderstood. Newman said that he didn't intend for his comments to be seen beyond his parish and that he has received more than 3,500 emails from across the globe both in support of and condemning his comments.

In Friday's posting, Newman said that voting for Obama isn't "in itself or by itself a mortal sin" but that "a vote for a pro-abortion candidate can be a mortal sin if the intent is to support abortion, that abortion is not merely one issue among other important issues, and that no Catholic should endorse a pro-abortion politician if a plausible pro-life alternative is available."
I'm Catholic, my wife works for the local diocese, and I have problems with what Father Newman said. Mostly because the Roman Catholic church is hypocritical when it comes to life. Take for instance a mother 6 years ago who was on hospital pregnancy bedrest. She was a diocese employee, the church she worked at paid her health insurance premiums. The Diocese of Palm Beach sent a HR employee to tell the mother in the hospital that her health insurance was being stopped unless she paid for them. She can't work because of being in the hospital, so where the #%^%! is the money supposed to come from? The skin flint diocese and church pastor thought it more important to save the $80 a week in premiums than the two human lives were at stake. If life was so sacred, you know what the choice would have come down to between the money and the mother and child. Sick, sick, sick and BTW the mother lost the d but then Bishop Sean O'Malley got a consolation prize. He's a cardinal.

Memo to the catholic church- Stop the human life hypocrisy. I know what matters to you the most- the almighty dollar. In the meantime I name Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville South Carolina today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

For lease= half a African country

Is this modern day colonialism? From the Financial Times-

Daewoo Logistics of South Korea has secured farmland in Madagascar to grow food crops for Seoul, in a deal that diplomats and consultants said was the largest of its kind.

The company said it had leased 1.3m hectares of farmland - about half the size of Belgium - from Madagascar's government for 99 years. It plans to ship the maize and palm oil harvests back to South Korea. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The pursuit of foreign farm investments is a clear sign of how countries are seeking food security following this year's crisis - which saw record prices for commodities such as wheat and rice and food riots in countries from Egypt to Haiti.

Prices for agricultural commodities have tumbled by about half from such levels but countries remain concerned about long-term supplies.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation warned this year that the race by some countries to secure farmland overseas risked creating a "neo-colonial" system. Those fears could be increased by the fact that Daewoo's farm in Madagascar represents about half the African country's arable land, according to estimates by the US government.

Shin Dong-hyun, a senior manager at Daewoo Logistics in Seoul, said the company would develop the arable land for farming over the next 15 years, using labour from South Africa, and intended to replace about half South Korea's maize imports.

South Korea, a heavily populated but resource-poor nation, is the fourth-largest importer of maize and among the 10 largest buyers of soyabeans.
This deal with leave Daewoo farming almost half of Madagascar's arable. land.(I read that in another article that I've lost the link to. Half the area of Belgium is pretty sizable) Foreign corporations have entered into agreements with countries where they mine natural resources. Is food any different than gold, silver, platinum? Of course it is, because you don't eat those minerals. The deals though seem similar to me.

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All dressed up

I couldn't let this news slip by without comment.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Swedish health officials say they will remove transvestism, fetishism and sadomasochism from the country's official list of diseases and mental disorders.

The National Board of Welfare says labeling those aspects of sexual behavior and gender identity as disorders can add to prejudices in society. Gay and transgender rights activists welcomed this week's decision.

The board's director Lars-Erik Holm says he will raise the issue internationally when the World Health Organization starts the process of renewing its classifications.
I agree transvestism isn't a disease or mental disorder. As for other two, I don't know enough to form a opinion.

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In the dark

Some South Koreans had an interesting experience when they visited North Korea recently.

Blackouts frequently interrupted a four-day stay in Pyongyang for South Koreans attending a rare joint seminar between the Cold War rivals, with the North's showcase city often plunged into pitch darkness by power outages.

'What is going on here?' a North Korean border control officer said when computer terminals lost power and the lights went out at the Soviet-era Sunan Airport terminal, which serves Pyongyang, while he was processing the documents of the visiting South Koreans.
There's another famine going on. As a result there isn't food around to feed the gerbils that spin the wheels and produce the electricity in The Hermit Kingdom.

One of his colleagues tried in vain to keep the line of visitors moving by checking passports in the faint light from a distant door.
They must be out of flashlight batteries too.

When the sun goes down in Pyongyang, people hurry along unlit sidewalks before they have to grope their way home in near total darkness.
Giving new meaning to the North Korean philosophy of Juche.

The visiting South Koreans were treated to a performance by artistically gifted students but had to wait to applaud because the lights went out at the end of the show in an unheated hall, leaving them wondering if the darkness was part of the act.
Yes. North Korea is one great big improvisational theater. That as a result of food and power shortages.

Outside observers are equally in the dark over Mr Kim's health and succession plans in Asia's only communist dynasty.
Kim Jong-il was recently seen picking someone's nose.

US and South Korean officials said Mr Kim suffered a stroke in August, raising questions about who was in control of the reclusive state and who was making decisions about the North's nuclear weapons programme.
On a serious note, China recently massed 150,000 of their troops along the DPRK/China border. Beijing, one of North Korea's few friends, seems to be concerned with potential regime change in Pyongyang. If the government collapses there, the Chinese moving in seems more likely than the South Koreans to me. Though I wonder if anyone really wants to inherit that disaster of a nation.

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ADT Championship starts today

In West Palm Beach Florida. The 32 player field will start competing at Trump International when Ji-Yai Shin and Shanshan Feng go off the tee at 9:30.

That's a interesting first pairing for a tournament, even for a limited field event. Shin is the defending British Open champion, ranked #6 in the world, and just 11 days off winning the LPGA Tour stop in Japan. Shin has to be considered one of the favorites this week. The probable reason for this early pairing is Shin not being a LPGA Tour member yet.

The ADT has a interesting playoff format. 32 players begin the tournament, but 16 are eliminated after Friday's play ends. If there are any ties, a playoff takes place to eliminate any excess players. Then scores reset for Saturday play. At the end of Saturday, the top 8 only qualify for Sunday's final round where the winner takes home a million dollar check. Julieta Granada won the ADT in 2006 and Lorena Ochoa won in 2007. Their good luck charm final round playing partner, Natalie Gulbis, is not in this year's field.

How do I handicap the field. First I'll give the Palm Beach Post's picks for the final 8. As you can imagine, I got a bone to pick with the newspaper.

The Post in order of finish- Ochoa, Yani Tseng, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb
My picks- Shin, Ochoa, Kerr, Feng, Helen Alfredsson, Sun Young Yoo, Katherine Hull, Creamer
Post picks to make it 54 holes- Jeong Jang, In Kyung Kim, Candie Kung, Song-Hee Kim, Angela Park, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Yoo
My picks- Pressel, IK Kim, Kung, Webb, Pettersen, Tseng, C Kim, Ji Young Oh

My main gripes with the Post selections

1- Only South Korean player chosen.(Christina Kim) Two made it in 2006, two made it in 2007. The player who made it both years, Mi Hyun Kim, is not in this year's field.

Inbee Park has played terrible since winning the US Open. Out of the 13 South Koreans in the field, she may well be my last choice this week. One surprise Korean player has made the final round both previous year. Last year it was Sarah Lee. I think we'll have one this weekend too. Sun Young Yoo has been quietly been playing excellent golf for about two months.

Angela Park also was selected to make play on Saturday and she has been playing almost as poorly as In bee. The Post picked the wrong Korean major champion to be around Sunday, I'd bet Greg Stoda ten dollars its Shin over Inbee.

2- The selection of Karrie Webb. Webb made the final 8 both times, but she has been erratic at best in 2008 and isn't playing the best golf of any Australian right now. That designation goes to Katherine Hull, who I picked to make the final 8.

We'll have to wait till Sunday to see who is right.

Some other notes

*- Much has been made about Annika Sorenstam's 'retirement'. While Annika won't play the tour in 2009, I bet she comes back to compete 10-15 times in a year before 2013 comes and this won't be her last ever Tour Championship. We'll see who is right in 5 years.

*- Randall Mell of the Sun-Sentinel writes that ADT company didn't want to end its sponsorship but the renewal price the LPGA was asking for was too high.

Also up with previews of the ADT Championship- Hound Dog and The Constructivist

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Fake Duck blood

The latest product scandal from China.

Duck blood tofu is cubes of clotted duck blood. According to a recent report from Reminbao, the majority of duck blood tofu now served in Beijing restaurants is made from less expensive pig or buffalo blood. In addition, evidence has emerged that producers are adding formaldehyde to the duck blood. reported that the law enforcement officials from Sanhe City in Hebei Province closed the Duck Blood Processing Plant in Qiao Guantun Village on November 12. The plant covers an area of 40 square meters, inside was a large caldron filled with duck blood.

There were four plastic barrels in the plant, each weighing around 55 pounds. The barrels were filled with a white odorous liquid that was found to contain high concentrations of formaldehyde.

A source within the Sanhe City law enforcement said that the producer likely added the formaldehyde to act as a preservative and to increase the toughness of the duck blood tofu.
The article goes on to tell how one can tell real duck blood from the fake variety.China continues to resemble the USA about 100 years ago so far as food and consumer product safety go. If these suppliers faced civil penalties maybe they would clean up their act but I thinik we will continue to read stories like this for some years.

Hat tip- Japundit who writes- "Is there anything in china that is real & genuine?"

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Wendy Portillo. She gets the award for the following-

The St. Lucie County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to suspend without pay Morningside Elementary School teacher Wendy Portillo for one year after she allowed her kindergarteners to vote on whether 5-year-old Alex Barton could remain in class.

Board members acted on a recommendation by Superintendent of Schools Michael Lannon, who also recommended that Portillo be put on an annual contract -- Portillo had been tenured -- and plans to ask the state Board of Education to revoke her teaching certificate for one year.

Lannon wrote Portillo a letter stating that her actions "caused community and, in fact, worldwide outrage and condemnation."


According to Port St. Lucie police reports, Portillo brought Alex to the front of the classroom that day and asked other students to tell him how his behavior affected them. Alex, who was in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the time, had left the class twice that day for discipline referrals to the principal's office.

After classmates talked, Portillo then asked the class to vote on whether Alex should stay in the class. Alex lost the vote, 14 to 2.

"Portillo said she did this as she felt that if (Alex) heard from his classmates how his behavior affected them that it would make a bigger difference to him, rather than just hearing it from adults," according to the report.
School isn't some episode of Survivor. If children voted out classmates, kids who fit in for no better reason than their speech impediment or having a big head because of the way doctors botched their delivery into the world, would be ousted every day. Those last two describe me, and I was picked on unmercifully as a child.

Wendy Portillo deserves to lose her job, not just be named today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sticks and Stones

Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's #2 man, insulted President elect Barack Obama.

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida's first response to Obama's victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect--along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice--"house negroes."

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house negroes."

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters' house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the latest message was just "more despicable comments from a terrorist."
James Joyner at OTB writes-

Despicable, indeed. Comments like this lead to insensitive behavior. Shame, shame al Qaeda.
Ayman al-Zawahri will be in for a real grilling at his next press conference. Maybe he'll go into some rehab clinic. Otherwise his poll numbers are liable to drop. Cue the sarcastic laughter.


Look on the bright side

Click here if you want to the 2009 LPGA Tour schedule out. Here are the lowlights and highlights

*- There will be 31 tournaments instead of 34. Ginn Tribute, Semgroup, ADT Championship, and Fields Open are gone. Honda Thailand is back.

*- Overall prize money is down roughly 10% from 60 million to 53 million with one tournament's purse(Ginn Open) still to be determined.

*- There will be no LPGA events in South Florida next year. Besides the ADT Championship being no more, The Stanford International is leaving Aventura for somewhere in the Houston Texas area. In addition Stanford will become the LPGA's year ending championship.

*- 11 of these events are international.

Not much to cheer about if you're a ladies professional golf fan. After considering the present state of the US economy, the LPGA could be far worse. Though things do look shaky for 2010 and beyond.

Ryan is also commenting.

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Upside down

Six college students commit plagiarism, which is defined as literary theft, but guess who ends up getting fired?

Texas A&M International University in Laredo fired a professor for publishing the names of students accused of plagiarism.

In his syllabus, professor Loye Young wrote that he would "promptly and publicly fail and humiliate anyone caught lying, cheating or stealing." After he discovered six students had plagiarized on an essay, Young posted their names on his blog, resulting in his firing last week.

"It's really the only way to teach the students that it's inappropriate," he said.

Young, a former adjunct professor of management information systems, said he believes he made the right move. He said trials are public for a reason, and plagiarism should be treated the same way. He added that exposing cheaters is an effective deterrent.

"They were told the consequences in the syllabus," he said. "They didn't believe it."

The six students received F's and were reported to the school, but their grades may not stand because of Young's blog post, according to

Young, who also operates a computer business in Laredo, was terminated for violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that prohibits the release of students' educational records without consent. But he said he does not believe he infringed on anyone's privacy.

"You have to hold them accountable," he said. "If you don't, you hold a grave danger of having an illiterate society."
I don't know about a illiterate society, but you end up condoning thievery. Personally I take a dim view of plagiarists because I've seen my literary work stolen by others. I don't appreciate people taking credit for my work, when it takes me hundreds of hours to crank out a story or even over a thousand. One online story of mine that numbered over 100,000 words, had me spending the late winter of 2007 and most of the spring getting it written and ready for publication. If I tallied all the time spent working on my tale, I'd estimate it to be in the 400-600 hours range.

The University's actions are predictable in light of Young not being tenured and Federal law that protects student records. As a writer and blogger, I'm angry the real rule breakers in this affair are getting off with little punishment(Their F grades are under review) other than the humiliation they received from Professor Young.

Renita Coleman, a UT assistant professor who taught a journalism course on ethics in the spring, said there are better ways to handle plagiarism.

"I don't think that it serves anybody well to publicly humiliate them," she said. "It doesn't teach anybody that it's wrong."

Coleman said each university has specific guidelines for dealing with cheating, and situational factors should be taken into account. She said she has dealt with repentant plagiarists who weren't punished severely since they said they learned a lesson.

"Admitting your mistake and making an effort to fix it goes a long way," she said. "Motivations matter."
I disagree with Professor Coleman. Humiliation or the fear of it, are great ways to motivate people. Humiliation is used every day in criminal justice and effectively. Wouldn't it have the same effect in academia?

Hat tip- Professor Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy. Insider Higher Ed is also writing on this news.


Holding on for dear life

My favorite hockey team won again last night but it didn't come easy.

The Florida Panthers are finding ways to win. The same can't be said for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bryan McCabe scored twice in regulation and Nathan Horton had the lone goal in a shootout for the Panthers, who beat Tampa Bay 4-3 on Tuesday night.

Tomas Vokoun made 49 saves, and David Booth added a goal for Florida, which has won three of four following a six-game losing streak.

"We got some great goaltending," McCabe said. "We were lucky. The score didn't quite dictate how we played. We were up 3-0, but they were outshooting us and outchancing us."

Tampa Bay, which trailed by three goals in the second period, tied it at 3 when Steve Eminger snapped a 63-game, goal-scoring drought with 2:51 left in the third
.Florida blowing a big lead has happened alot since I began watching the team. Last night was different, Florida won in a shootout.

Florida can't expect their goaltenders to continue being miracle workers. 52 shots on goal is ridiculous. The Panthers also need to get some goal scoring from people other than their defensemen. Lets review the team's leading scorers.

Wingers and Centers

David Booth 8
Nathan Horton 6
Cory Stilman 5
Richard Zednik 3
Stephen Weiss, Gregory Campbell, Rostislav Olesz, 2
Radek Dvorak, Anthony Stewart 1
Ville Peltonen, Bret McLean, Kamil Kreps, Wade Belak, Michael Frolik all zero in over 10 games played


Keith Ballard 2
Bryan McCabe 3 and he was hurt and missed nine games
Nick Boynton 2
Karlis Skrastins 2
Noah Welch 1

What I'm trying to say is Florida is getting rotten offensive production from the people who should be their scorers. McCabe is tied for 4th on the team in goals, two lines worth of Panther forwards have produced next to nil. If Florida isn't to have another disappointing season, defensive players need to start clearing the puck out of the Florida zone and the underperforming forwards need to start putting goals in the net.

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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is South Attleboro City Collector Debora Marcoccio. She gets the award for the following-

ATTLEBORO - A 74-year-old blind woman has been told a lien will be put on her South Attleboro home if she doesn't come up with a penny she owes on an outstanding utility bill.

Eileen Wilbur, of Glenn Street, said she discovered the notice of the potential lien after her daughter, Rose Brederson, came over to read her mail.

"It's so upsetting," Wilbur said. "It sent my blood pressure up so high."

The city sent Wilbur a letter dated Nov. 10 stating that if the 1 cent balance is not paid by Dec. 10, the city will assess a lien of up to $48 on Wilbur's next property tax bill.

"They wasted taxpayer money on the letter," Wilbur said, noting the 42-cent charge for a stamp. South Attleboro resident Eileen Wilbur's bill from the city is for one penny.

City Collector Debora Marcoccio said the bill was sent out along with more than 2,000 others as the city tries to recoup outstanding balances before resorting to putting liens on property.

A computer automatically printed the letters for any account with a balance remaining, and they were not reviewed by staff before being sent out, Marcoccio said.

"It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have staff weed through the bills and pull out any below a certain amount," Marcoccio said. " And what would that amount be?"

According to the letter, the outstanding balance stems from a water and sewer bill from fiscal year 2008, which ran from July 2007 to July 2008.
I make a bet there's a feature in whatever software that is used by Ms. Marcoccio's office that allows sorting by amounts. Hell Microsoft Money does it. Either the office people don't know it or are too lazy to use it. Asking for government efficiency is too much. Therefore you get someone spending 42 times the amount of a particular bill to try to collecting it or a state lottery spending a million dollars contesting a $5 winning lotto ticket.

Marcoccio said that before lien notices are sent out, the city sends out bills for the outstanding balance.

"My question is, how come it wasn't paid when the bills went out?" she said.

In the meantime, the city is holding firm on the amount due.

Marcoccio, who called the whole situation "ridiculous," said the city will not waive the balance.

"If there's a bill, it must be paid," she said
Take the penny out of your desk drawer South Attleboro City Collector Debora Marcoccio. It is worth about as much as your brain and your managerial skills put together and why I name you today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slippery Slope

If Congress bails out GM, other industries may start lining up.

We won't know the answer until we see how the (Tampa Bay)Lightning respond to new coach Rick Tocchet - well, "interim" head coach, which seems an awfully appropriate title, considering how short Melrose's reign lasted. That was a $2 million mistake for the new Bolts owners, to be paid out over three years, along with the $1.3 million they're paying former coach John Tortorella not to coach this season.

We all need to get a job with these people. Next thing you know, the Bolts will be headed to Congress looking for a bailout.
Since only 4 of the 24 players on Tampa's roster hail from the USA, I think the economy can take the hit. Then someone may point out the collateral damage caused by the loss of a NHL franchise. Members of the Florida Congressional delegation are sure to begin lobbying for a bailout plan. Tampa Bay was sold for 200 million less than a year ago. That's chump change compared to all those financial institutions with their hands out. If the Federal govt. can buy Fannie Mae, why not a hockey team?

Personally I'm available to be Tampa's next head coach. Come on Oren Koules, I'd like to make a million dollars a year without having to work too.

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