Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007..."Americans Pessimistic"

From the Associated Press :

Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of a terrorist attack. An identical percentage thinks it likely that a biological or nuclear weapon will be unleashed somewhere else in the world.

Seventy percent of people in the U.S. predict a major natural disaster in the country and an equal percentage expects worsening global warming. The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

2007..."Americans Optimistic"

Also from the Associated Press :

An AP-AOL News Poll finds that while most Americans said 2006 was a bad year for the country, three-fourths thought it had been a good one for them and their families.

Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.

Confusing God

Cordoba's cathedral was once a mosque (Photo - AP)

The Roman Catholic bishop of Cordoba in southern Spain has rejected an appeal from Muslims for the right to pray in the city's cathedral, a former mosque. Shared use of places of worship could make sense in airports or an Olympic village, said the bishop, but not in a consecrated Catholic cathedral.

Evidently the Creator has to follow along with a prayer book in the sky, and if you start letting the different faiths mix and match it could create some administrative problems.

Arctic Melt

Ellesmere island is about 800km from the North Pole...
(Photo - Science Photo Library) enormous ice shelf broke off an island in the Canadian Arctic last year, in what could be sign of global warming. It is said to be the largest break in 25 years, casting an ice floe with an area of 66 sq km (25 square miles). The chunk of ice bigger than Manhattan could wreak havoc if it moves into oil drilling regions and shipping lanes next summer, scientists warned.

In other news, investing in beachfront property right now is probably not a good idea.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

So You Wanna Be A Mad Bomber?

Well, this month's Atlantic Monthly has just the thing for you : How to Get a Nuclear Bomb. It begins a little cynically...

It wouldn’t be easy. But it wouldn’t be impossible. A reporter travels the world to find the weaknesses a terrorist could exploit.

... but then lifts your spirits by explaining that the H-bomb which vaporized Hiroshima was

... a simple cannon-type device of the sort that today any number of people could build in a garage.

The do-it-yourselfer everybody should read -- especially you Ted Kaczynski types.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

So You Wanna Be A Sex Kitten?

Well, according to a study conducted by the Sydney University of Technology, all you have to do is eat a little raw meat. But be careful, otherwise you might at the same time be setting your kids up for a lifetime of disadvantages that result from inheriting the genes of an idiot. In other words, nothing new here.

A COMMON parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid, an Australian researcher says. About 40 per cent of the world's population is infected with Toxoplasma gondii...

Human infection generally occurs when people eat raw or undercooked meat that has cysts containing the parasite, or accidentally ingest some of the parasite's eggs excreted by an infected cat. Sydney University of Technology infectious disease researcher Nicky Boulter said...

"Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women.

On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.

In short, it can make men behave like alley cats and women behave like sex kittens

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Xmas Sneer

"False prophets continue to offer cheap salvation which ends in deep delusions." -- Benedict XVI

Is it possible he was referring to... nah.
Couldn't be.

Alabama Slammer

Just in case you were thinking of going down to the state of Alabama for a drinking binge, think again. You don't want to get arrested in a state where you see headlines like this one :
Jackson attorney still under ethics cloud takes oath early

GROVE HILL, Ala. (AP) -- A Jackson lawyer who was sanctioned by the Alabama State Bar has been sworn in early as a circuit judge despite lingering questions about whether he will actually be able to serve.

The state bar ordered that Stuart DuBose's law license be suspended because of his role in an estate in which he collected a $1.2 million fee for writing a client's will without ever meeting the dying man.

And don't even think about going to the cops.

God Save The Queen

Girls from St Marylebone school in London attend a multi-faith assembly in church (Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian)

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension - greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.

Here's wishing Richard Dawkins a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Xmas Queer

ROME (Reuters) - Two leftists in Italy's ruling coalition on Wednesday outraged fellow lawmakers by placing four dolls representing homosexual couples near the baby Jesus in the official nativity scene in parliament.

Meanwhile in another queer, Xmas-related story, More than a third of Santas have been peed on by children, according to a survey published this week.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Xmas Jeer

LONDON - Santa Claus has been forced to carry out his Christmas duties cowering under a hard hat after youths in a Scottish town pelted him with festive mince pies.

Santa was hit by a hail of pastry and dried fruit as the youths launched a barrage of mince pies from the upper level of the shopping centre in Paisley, west of Glasgow.

Now worried shopping centre chiefs, fearing a repeat siege of Santa, have taken "drastic" measures....
Santa's new hard hat has been decorated with red reindeer antlers to "Christmas it up a bit"...

*The photograph actually has nothing to do with this particular story, but its kindred spirit is so overwhelmingly obvious I just had to post it again. 'Tis the season !
(Photo John McKay)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Faking It" Now Acceptable: US Gov't

The Food and Drug Administration has decided to allow Alaska surimi producers to drop the word "imitation" from their labels.

Surimi comes from pollock, which is formed and flavored to imitate crab, lobster and other seafood. The decision allows surimi producers to use the term "flavored" seafood instead of "imitation." The lobster industry says the labeling will confuse consumers....

What a waste of air-time : it's not like people who eat crab and lobster can tell the difference between a Big Mac and a Whopper.

Xmas Veneer

In the spirit of giving, then, let's share this heartwarming story from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield tried to raise the hopes of a group of homeless people by taking them to see a new movie that tells a rags-to-riches story [The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith].

"This is not going to drastically change anyone's life," the mayor acknowledged as about 15 homeless movie guests were given large soft drinks and buckets of popcorn, concessions provided by an anonymous donor.

The moviegoers, who volunteered at several agencies that deal with the homeless to see the film, also watched a short video on the mayor's proposal to build a campus for the homeless that consolidates public services in one spot. Littlefield this year got the city to buy a piece of land for $775,000 to develop the project.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Swedish Style

Does anybody else get Starr/Clinton/Lewinsky flashback syndrome when they read stories like this one?

An appeal court judge from Malmö who admitted visiting a brothel has got his job back after he sued his employer. Malmö district court ruled that the judge had not committed a crime, because he did not actually pay for sex.

Dan Ogvall, one of the three judges who heard his case, told Expressen that the appeal court judge had "done nothing except for masturbating while a girl was next to him." This does not count as sexual relations in Swedish law, according to the court, so the judge could not be guilty of paying for sex, it ruled.
[...] He was awarded retroactive salary from September 2005.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Xmas Cheer

(Photo John McKay/Times Colonist)

A little cross-pollination?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

le 6 décembre, 1989

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered the École Polytechnique, in Montréal, Québec. He separated the men from the women and declaring his hatred for feminists, killed the following women :

Geneviève Bergeron, 21
Hélène Colgan, 23
Nathalie Croteau, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22
Anne-Marie Edward, 21
Maud Haviernick, 29
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31
Maryse Laganière, 25
Maryse Leclair, 23
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27
Sonia Pelletier, 23
Michèle Richard, 21
Annie St-Arneault, 23
Annie Turcotte, 21

On December 6, in addition to remembering the 14 women who were killed in Montreal, we also mourn the many women who continue to die, each year, as a result of male violence. While the Massacre victims were murdered together, the death toll of women killed alone -- by men they know -- rises annually.

Check out the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women...ou, l'Institut Canadien de Recherche sur les Femmes... for more info. The Fact Sheets are stunning in the litany of horrors being catalogued, but enlightening nevertheless.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Coup For Four

Bloodless coups are so rare, this one warranted mention... and the un-credited photo is pretty cool too.

A state of emergency is to be declared on the South Pacific island state of Fiji, as the military tightens its grip a day after a bloodless coup. The deposed prime minister has flown back to his home on an outlying island at the request of the military.

The military has dissolved parliament, occupied government buildings and imposed checkpoints across the capital. The coup, the fourth in two decades in the Fijian archipelago, was condemned by the international community.

A Dog's Life (Part III)

TACOMA, Wash. — A Spanaway man believed to be the first person in the state charged under Washington's new bestiality law bailed out of the Pierce County Jail this morning.

Pierce County prosecutors say 26-year-old Michael Patrick McPhail was caught by his wife on Wednesday night having intercourse on the back porch with their four-year-old female pit bull terrier.

The wife took photos with a cell phone and called police.

I know, I know... you're thinking the McPhail family is having a shitty day when stuff like this hits the newspapers. But what about this family's shitty day?

The bestiality law took effect in June. It was prompted by an incident in Enumclaw where a man died after having sex with a horse.

Since the grammar is a little loose here, I'm totally going for the million dollar question : was he having sex with the horse, or was the horse having sex with him..?

Saddle Up

According to some of the huntin' folks in Wisconsin, the 2006 gun deer season will go down as one of Barron County's safest on record.

The one mar on Barron County's deer hunting season took place approximately 3 miles east of Canton Nov. 22 on 27th Street when a horse suffered a gunshot wound to the lower chest.

.. gonna eat that?

You Gonna Eat That?

(Photo - AP)

It looks as if the golden arches are trying hard to remain a responsible member of the community. Judging by the looks of the kid in the linked photo, however, they'd better hurry up otherwise they may not be able to keep their gravy train from jumping the tracks.

CHICAGO -- Climbing ropes, stationary bicycles and electronic dancing games could join the menu of play options for kids at McDonald's if they prove a hit in a trial launched in several of its U.S. restaurants.

The burger-and-fries company, often accused by critics of contributing to child obesity, is tinkering with the mini-gyms as a possible successor to the popular McDonald's PlayPlace, with its ball pits and crawl tubes.

"Realistically, I can't imagine it's going to necessarily be that beneficial," said analyst Bob Goldin, of Chicago-based food consultancy Technomic Inc. "It's not truly something that's real physical fitness. But it does take their playgrounds to a new level."

On the upside, at least they're looking to other markets now...

BEIJING -- Much of McDonald's Corp.'s success in China -- 42 consecutive months of revenue growth -- is based on its four-year-old five-point strategy focused on product, people, place, price and promotion...

This year, the company introduced the Mega Mac: a Big Mac with four beef patties and a Quarter Pounder. Chinese consumers associate beef with strength and energy, management said, noting a 60 percent increase in sales of beef products.

And, god bless them, in keeping with the standard "woman-as-mother-and-therefore-a-surefire-conduit-to-the-kids" motif ...

the company is appealing to women big time. In May, it launched its China Mom's Panel. That follows the establishment of a worldwide focus group of mothers, and a Mom's Club program launched in May that more than 10,000 women have signed up for in order to access in-restaurant activities such as story-telling, arts and crafts, exercise instruction and games.