Tuesday, January 29, 2008


With the roll of the dice, will aspiring capitalists soon be able to own and unify Washington, D.C., Moscow and Beijing? Will Boston and Bogotá become next-door neighbors? And will Lady Luck smile more on Las Vegas than on London?

Beginning today (1/21/08), MONOPOLY fans around the globe will have the chance to vote to determine which great global cities will be on the game board of the first-ever worldwide MONOPOLY edition. Fans visiting www.monopoly.com will have the opportunity to select from more than 68 ‘candidate cities’ from six continents that run the alphabetical gamut from Amsterdam to Zurich. The United States has six candidates on the ballot: Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The 20 cities earning the most votes will automatically win a spot on the new MONOPOLY Here & Now: The World Edition game board and will be placed on the game board in rank order from highest rent property to lowest rent property. So as the election begins, pundits may ponder whether Oslo, Tokyo, or Toronto -- or another great global city -- will claim the coveted spot traditionally occupied by Boardwalk. Others may wonder if wintry Montreal will cozy up next to warm weather Rio de Janeiro and be neighbors on the board. And there’s always the possibility that former political foes will find themselves as friendly members of the same property group.

Fans may cast votes for up to 10 of the “candidate cities” each day from now until Feb. 28, 2008. To facilitate voting for MONOPOLY fans worldwide, the website is available in more than 30 languages.

While the ballot of candidate cities attempts to capture the greatest cities on the planet, game maker Parker Brothers acknowledges that some fans may feel that their favorite city didn’t make the list. Fortunately, fans visiting www.monopoly.com can nominate virtually any city on Earth via a wild card (a.k.a. write-in) vote component on the website. Then, beginning Feb. 29, 2008, the top 20 most nominated wild card cities will compete in a one-week face-off for the opportunity to be featured as one of the two members of the “low rent” property group, traditionally home to Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue. This means the new game board may feature property spaces representing Paris, France AND Paris, Texas. Or Kalamazoo could become a worldwide household name if it joins the board alongside such famous cities as Sydney and Cairo.

“MONOPOLY is the world’s most popular board game and transcends cultural barriers,” said Helen Martin, Global Brand Leader for toy and game-maker Hasbro, Inc.’s (NYSE: HAS) MONOPOLY brand. “More than 750 million people around the world have played MONOPOLY since the game was introduced nearly 75 years ago and it remains a perennial favorite among today’s adults, kids and families.”

Along with the 22 property spaces featuring great cities from around the world, the game’s traditional “railroad” spaces will be modified to highlight four types of transportation used by people around the globe: land, sea, air and space travel. The game will also feature modern-day scenarios on the Chance and Community Chest cards.

The MONOPOLY Here & Now: The World Edition game board will be unveiled in August 2008 and the game will go on sale in September 2008 in 45 countries.

The 68 cities nominated for the global vote include the following:

Buenos Aires
Cape Town
Chicago Copenhagen
Hong Kong
Kuala Lumpur
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Mexico City
New York
Rio de Janeiro
Singapore City
St. Petersburg
Washington, D.C.

For more than 70 years, Parker Brothers selected elite locations within each country to place on MONOPOLY game boards. Recently, Parker Brothers invited fans of the game to help update the board in their respective countries to reflect what the game board would look like if it were created today instead of in 1935. The votes resulted in Here & Now editions of the game in each country. In 2006, more than 3 million votes were cast for the U.S. MONOPOLY: Here & Now Edition which features New York City’s Times Square and Boston’s Fenway Park on the high-rent spaces traditionally home to Boardwalk and Park Place.

Since 1935, more than 250 million copies of MONOPOLY have been sold in 103 countries and 37 languages. More than 200 different editions of the game have been published, but the most popular continues to be the classic "Number Nine." Affectionately known by its original product number, "Number Nine" is based on the streets of Atlantic City and is nearly identical to Charles Darrow's original submission to Parker Brothers. The MONOPOLY name and logo, the distinctive design of the game board, the four corner squares, the MR. MONOPOLY name and the character, as well as each of the distinctive elements of the board and playing pieces are trademarks of Hasbro for its property trading game and game equipment. © 2008 Hasbro, All Rights Reserved.

Hasbro is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Airman Flies High After Surprise Proposal

Simply communicating while deployed to Iraq can be challenging for servicemembers, but one airman discovered that trying to plan a surprise marriage proposal was nearly impossible.
But help from several sources led to Air Force Senior Airman Robert Blackburn popping the question to his girlfriend, D'Ann Campbell, Jan. 18.

"It was really hard for me to even get on the Internet over there," said Blackburn, 22, who recently returned to his duty station at Hill Air Force Base, in Utah.

But Blackburn's moving request and a friend's testimony submitted to "Dallas is Love," a Texas-based organization that provides servicemembers with Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards, earned the airman the opportunity to relax and let others make the arrangements for him.

Robbins Bros. jewelers, which helped coordinate a soldier's surprise proposal in December, presented Blackburn with a gift certificate toward the purchase of engagement and wedding rings for Campbell. Company officials also coordinated details of the proposal.

Blackburn wanted to propose to Campbell at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas and follow it with a nice dinner.

Getting Campbell, a senior at Dallas Baptist University, on the scene was no problem. She thought she was attending a party at the hotel with a friend. Instead of going to a party, however, she was met in the lobby by former Dallas Cowboys tight end Billy Jo DuPree, who escorted her to where Blackburn was waiting.

"Billy Jo heard that Robert was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and couldn't resist becoming his wingman," said Tanya Stafford, general manager for Robbins Bros.' Dallas location.

"I was thankful that Robbins Bros. was there to help me with the ring selection and with the proposal," Blackburn, originally of Rowlett, Texas, said. "It's hard to say in words how much I appreciate everyone's help in making this happen for me and D'Ann."

Robbins Bros., which bills itself as the "world's biggest engagement ring store," was only too happy to help.

"We are in the business of love, and so it is always special when we can make a dream proposal come true," Stafford said. "In addition, we take this opportunity to thank Robert and all the thousands of military men and women serving out country and recognize the sacrifices they are making on our behalf."

Dallas is Love not only introduced Blackburn and Robbins Bros., but also picked up the tab for dinner. The group is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

"(Robbins Bros.) did the majority of the arranging," said Linda Foster, president of Dallas is Love. "All we did is kind of help pick out who the winner was going to be, and we're ... going to pay for the meal and whatever expenses they might have (associated with the evening)."

Because of Blackburn's overseas assignments, he and his fiancee have seen each other for only a total of one month of their three-year relationship. They hope to marry before Blackburn's scheduled return to Iraq in January 2009.

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Monday, January 21, 2008

You know you're from Georgia if...

I steer away from posting emails (well, until this point at least), but I had to share this one sent from a one of my friends. No credit was given so I can't give credit, sorry. I think I'd like the person who came up with it though! Well ya'll I'm going to go make a tuna fish sandwich and grab a coke out of the fridge... happy reading.

1. You can properly pronounce Chickamauga, DeKalb, Dahlonega, Senoia, Buena Vista, Valdosta, Okefenokee, and La Fayette.

P.S. Atlanta = ADD-LANNA not AT-LANT-A.
P.S.S. Fayetteville = FET-VUL (the county seat of FET COUNNY)
P.S.S.S. and don’t even THINK that Houston county has anything to do with Texas!

2. You know that Forsyth is nowhere near Forsyth county, Jefferson is nowhere near Jefferson county, Jackson is nowhere near Jackson county....and the name of the Cairo High School football team is the Syrupmakers!

3. You think people who complain about the heat in their states are sissies.

4. A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the yard and look for a funnel.

5. You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but by the availability of shade.

6. Stores don't have bags or shopping carts, they have sacks and buggies.

7. You think everyone from a Yankee-state has an accent.

8. You measure distance in minutes.

9. You go to the lake because you think it is like going to the ocean.

10. You listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.

11. You know cowpies are not made of beef.

12. Someone you know has used a football schedule to plan their wedding date.

13. You know someone who has a belt buckle bigger than your fist.

14. Almost everyone you know is either Baptist or Pentecostal.

15. A Mercedes Benz isn't a status symbol. A Chevy Silverado Extended Bed Crew Cab is.

16. You know everything goes better with Ranch dressing.

17. You learned how to shoot a gun before you learned how to multiply.

18. Ironically, you only crave Chick-Fil-A on Sundays...when it is not sold.

19. On one side of the road there's Wal-Mart and on the other is a cotton field.

20. The directions to your house include "turn off the paved road."

21. Y’ALL is a word.

22. Fried chicken is a major part of your diet

23. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are the only kind of doughnuts you eat.

24. You call it a cold Christmas if you don't break out in perspiration in your new sweater.

25. When a single snowflake falls, the entire state shuts down, even if it doesn't stick. The radio and TV news will make snowstorm reports every 10 minutes and the grocery store will be completely sold out of bread, milk, bottled water and toilet paper.

26. People actually grow, eat and like okra!

27. You know the difference between a hillbilly, a redneck, and a Southerner.

28. Your dog and your wallet are both on chains.

29. Panama City Beach, Florida is a big deal.

30. You understand that at least once a year your car will turn yellow with pollen.

31. You know at least one Bubba, and maybe a few guys named Bo.

32. You say "tuna fish sandwich."

33. You use "Sir" and "Ma'am" if there's a remote possibility that the person you're talking to is least 30 minutes older than you are.

34. Braves=good. Yankees=bad.

35.You love sweet tea, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and all Southern comfort food...and Southern Comfort!

36. You know you're from GA if you know the whole “Peach State” thing only applies to those below the fall line.

37. You know you're from Georgia if you have a flip-flop tan year round

38. You know you’re from Ga if you’ve ever used "The Big Chicken" as a basis for directions.

39. You know you're from Georgia if you get dressed extra nice TWICE a week. Once on Sunday morning for church, and once on Friday night for the football game

40. You pay closer attention to the heat index than the actual temp.

And finally...

41.. You are 100% Georgian if you have ever had this conversation:

"You wanna Coke?"


"What kind?"

"Dr. Pepper

Saturday, January 19, 2008

REAL ID continues to make the news

REAL ID Without Real Debate
On January 11, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released the long-awaited final regulations for implementing new federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses found in the infamous REAL ID Act of 2005. Many of the negative reactions to REAL ID, both before and after the event, focused on the enormous cost burden for states and the perceived erosion of privacy caused by the new provisions. Many people were also concerned about the lack of process when Congress adopted the bill in the first place. And now, the rule-making process may exacerbate this process problem by not giving state legislatures enough time to deliberate on the issue... More

Friday, January 18, 2008

Soldiering on to Miss America title?

Ramling' Jan: Wow. That's my first reaction to reading about this impressive 24 year old from Utah! She typifies true American spirit and would be an outstanding poster child for everything USA!
Photo: Utah Army National Guard Sgt. Jill Stevens, who is competing in the Miss America pageant as Miss Utah, plays with children while serving as a medic in Afghanistan in 2004.

Guard Medic Focuses On Miss America Title
By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Doucette, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2008 - Utah Army National Guard Sgt. Jill Stevens' "personal combat zone" has shifted from Afghanistan to Nevada, from a minefield to a beauty contest, from combat boots to high heels.

The 24-year-old Stevens also is Miss Utah, and she is a contestant in the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, which will be televised Jan. 26 on The Learning Channel.

Stevens, a combat medic with the Utah Guard, has a resume that isn't what you would typically expect from a soldier, or a pageant contestant, for that matter: graduate, summa cum laude, Southern Utah University; soldier, Army National Guard; veteran, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan; contestant, 2008 Miss America Live.

If she wins the crown, Stevens will be the first Miss America to have served in a combat zone, a pageant spokesperson said. She would become the 80th Miss America overall for the pageant, which began in 1921, according to the Miss America Web site. (There were eight years when a new Miss America was not named).

In her duties as Miss Utah, Stevens has traveled from Florida to California, from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana to the streets of Washington, D.C. She has spoken to generals from 40 countries.

Back in Utah, she talks about her military experiences with students from preschool through college and challenges them to push-up contests.

"We have our personal combat zone," Stevens tells students. "I served in one in Afghanistan. We all have them in life, whether it be with school, family, peer pressure or finding a career. It's our own minefield and we have to learn to dodge the mines by keeping focus on the target, not doubting ourselves, and believing what our potential is and what we can do."

Like other citizen-soldiers and -airmen, Stevens stays busy and balances life out of uniform with life in uniform. She recently said she hopes the pageant audience and judges see beyond her military uniform to the full complexity of her life.

"I don't want to showcase this in a, 'Oh, look at me, I'm a soldier, I serve my country, you should pick me' kind of way," she said. "I want them to think. I want them to look at Jill Stevens and see the whole picture of everything that I do, and being a soldier is a huge part of that, but there's a lot more."

Nevertheless, her pageant platform mirrors the Guard's domestic playbook: "Ready when disaster strikes – emergency preparedness for everyone."

"That comes from my soldier side of being ready for anything," Stevens said. "As a medic, we have to be ready for any injury that we face on missions."

And Stevens draws on her Guard experiences – from Basic Combat Training to a combat zone – in her talks with students.

"I talk about going through the gas chamber, and I relate that to doubt in our lives," she said. "I talk about shooting at a range, relating that to goals – how we need to keep focused on the target. I talk about running through a minefield in life."

The final stop on her run for the title of Miss America is a four-day competition in Las Vegas, culminating with the crowning of the winner on national TV.

Conspicuously absent from the competition will be Stevens' military uniform. But with the help of the American Legion, at least 50 of her fellow soldiers will attend the final night of the pageant at Planet Hollywood on Jan 26.

That arrangement started when a former Miss America, Sharlene Wells, called the Miss America Organization to say that a group of Utah National Guard soldiers wanted to come to the pageant and show their support, but had no budget to buy tickets.

The organization in turn called the American Legion, which offered to sponsor the soldiers and pay for their tickets to attend.

"The motto for the American Legion is 'for God and Country,' and that's exactly what Stevens is doing," said Joe March, the Legion's public relations director. "She stands as a great example of a proud American who is dedicated not only to her country, but to her community and her comrades."

As she goes into the competition, Stevens said "My target is Miss America. The military has taught me if I practice, work hard at it and keep focus on the target, I'll be ready."

(Editor's note: Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill contributed to this report. Greenhill and Staff Sgt. Rebecca Doucette work for the National Guard Bureau.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another take on the REAL ID...

If you read my blogs regularly you'll remember one from a few days ago about the REAL ID. If you missed it, scroll down on the right and you'll find it. Here's another viewpoint from the Libertarian Party:

No license to license
The federal government needs to get real with the Real ID Act

Quick Quotes:
Shane Cory, Executive Director, Libertarian Party
• "The federal government can prattle all it wants about the benefits of a license that meets federal standards, but the states don't recognize the right of the federal government to tell them how to issue their licenses."

Bob Barr, Board Member, Libertarian National Committee
• "The massive database that would be created by the Real ID Act, containing all manner of private information on citizens, is potentially one of the most privacy-invasive laws in the history of our country."

Andrew Davis, National Media Coordinator, Libertarian Party
• "[Chertoff] fails to understand that while Americans want their privacy protected, they want it protected from the government. Giving the government greater access to our information is what Americans are against."

Washington, D.C. - While Friday's press conference with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff outlined new steps towards implementing federally mandated requirements for state-issued driver's licenses, the Libertarian Party is calling to scrap the program altogether. "It's time for the federal government to get real with the Real ID," says Libertarian Party Executive Director, Shane Cory.

"The program is an unmitigated disaster," says Cory, "and one the federal government fails to recognize. The federal government can prattle all it wants about the benefits of a license that meets federal standards, but the states don't recognize the right of the federal government to tell them how to issue their licenses. It's a states' rights issue as much as it is a privacy issue."

The Real ID Act imposes costly federal mandates for procedures used by states in issuing driver's licenses. Despite the mandates, Congress provides no funding for implementation, leaving the states fully responsible for the expenses.

So far, 17 states have passed laws or resolutions rejecting the Real ID Act mandates imposed by DHS. These states include Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. Twenty-one other states have either introduced legislation or had legislation pass in one chamber opposing the Real ID.

"Anything less than scrapping this offensive national identification card law is unacceptable," said former Congressman and current Libertarian National Committee board member Bob Barr while applauding the decision by DHS to further delay implementation of the Real ID Act. "The massive database that would be created by the Real ID Act, containing all manner of private information on citizens, is potentially one of the most privacy-invasive laws in the history of our country."

"Chertoff does not speak for most Americans like he says," says Andrew Davis, national media coordinator for the Libertarian Party. "He fails to understand that while Americans want their privacy protected, they want it protected from the government. Giving the government greater access to our information is what Americans are against."

The Libertarian Party believes the Real ID act is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment, which delegates powers such as driver's licensing to the states. The LP also feels the Real ID act is an intrusion of a citizen's right to privacy from the government, and does little to prevent terrorism or illegal immigration--two of the chief justifications used by the Department of Homeland Security.

"What seems like a more plausible outcome of the Real ID?" asks Cory. "A terrorist attack is thwarted because the attacker can't get a fake ID, or Americans are exposed to increased identity theft and privacy risks?"

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.lp.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

A first for France

I just thought this was rather interesting and one of those pivotal moments in history worth noting...

France takes more assertive role in Gulf with planned military base in the U.A.E.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has wrapped up a tour of the Arab Gulf states, signing a number of significant military, nuclear, and economic deals that thrust France into a key regional role.
On Tuesday, agreement was reached with the United Arab Emirates granting France a permanent military base in the Gulf, the first for a Western power other than the United States.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Frankenstein rat

Scientists have figured out a way to make hearts from dead rats beat again. Ultimately they're hoping to be able to take this a few (many) steps further. They want to create custom organs for people needing transplants.

Don't we live in a fascinating time? I know this and many of the other discoveries raise many ethical and moral questions. Is it right to clone humans? animals? Stem cell research. Finding out your spouse or child has a disease you opt to get pregnant for the stem cells, bone marrow or organ.

We have a lot of choices we make daily on a small scale. Some questions are too big for me to grasp. I may not agree with the extent of stem cell research (i.e., unborn children), but would I be swayed if I found out my son could be cured of a deadly disease?

For some it's easy to make black and white decisions. Cloning is wrong. Always. Stem cell research is wrong when you reach a certain line. It's never right or always right to have a child to cure another human being.

Now we have scientists mimicking the misguided Frankenstein. Right? wrong? How far will they take it? Lots of questions always. Not much of a chance I'll ever have a say in the direction science and research takes the world. However, someday I might benefit from today's discovery.

Scientists create beating hearts in lab
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers say they have coaxed hearts from dead rats to beat again in the laboratory and said the discovery may one day lead to customized organ transplants for people.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Whose War? Separating Fact from Fiction in 'Charlie Wilson's War'

"Reagan specifically urged the supplying of U.S. shoulder-launched, heat-seeking missiles that can shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships." -Martin Schram, Washington Post, January 10, 1980

Last evening I drove to a nearby theater to catch Charlie Wilson's War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The hit movie, which is based on George Crile's book about how former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-TX) helped fund the Afghanistan Mujahedin back in the 1980s, is written by Aaron Sorkin, of the television drama, "The West Wing," and directed by Mike Nichols.


I'm including this simply because I'm going to see the movie tomorrow and I was glad to see the article prior to going! - Ramblin' Jan

Friday, January 11, 2008

REAL ID.. REAL trouble?

I vaguely remember some discussion about the REAL ID but it didn't register on my radar screen... I thought it was in the discussion phase, did not realize it was "real." Boy did I miss one!

It seems that generally it is just a standardization of driver's licenses. I can understand why that's a good idea.

I can also understand why this is a tough one for many. While the government says it's not a national ID card and that they aren't going to gather info, this could very easily be construed as the first step (or the next step depending on your view point) to having that much-feared national ID.

It's also going to cost a chunk of change for state's to comply.

(According to a study conducted by NCSL, the National Governors Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the act will cost states more than $11 billion to implement over five years and will have a major impact on services to the public.
To date, Congress has appropriated only $90 million to assist states with implementation of the Real ID, of which only $6 million has been obligated. The President's FY 2007 and FY 2008 budget proposals did not include any funds to assist states with the implementation of the Real ID. -

Georgia is one of the states that has asked for a waiver. If granted the state's deadline for compliance may be extended to Dec. 31, 2009.

I can see a major mess on the horizon. Some states will comply, others will refuse, others will ask for a waiver. To travel we'll be required to have the ID unless a waiver has been granted. It's difficult enough already to get on an airplane due to all the extra security steps (which, if I had any confidence they worked wouldn't bother me). Can you imagine taxing the brain of those tasked with checking IDs at the airport?

Georgia is home to the Atlanta Airport. It's an international airport and usually lands at the top of the busiest airport list. What are the chances of it becoming the terrorist mecca for travel?

I'm all for security, I want to catch every single potential nasty who's out to hurt anyone. I lean toward thinking this is a good idea. However, I also think it's another one of those governmental unfunded mandates. Great idea. No money to make it work.

What do you want to bet that Dec. 31, 2009 becomes 2010, 2012, 2020... ?

I'll make one more observation. I wonder some days if we aren't on a slippery slope that's going to lead toward a loss of freedoms we'll regret handing over to the government someday. On the flip side, I like the idea of knowing I can walk in a crowded mall, go to my local church, flying to visit family or enjoy a game at a packed stadium without thinking about being blown up.

Here's a few links to some info floating around about it:

"The REAL ID Act requires that a REAL ID driver’s license be used for “official purposes,” as defined by DHS. In the proposed rule, DHS is proposing to limit the official purposes of a REAL ID license to those listed by Congress in the law: accessing a Federal facility; boarding Federally-regulated commercial aircraft; and entering nuclear power plants. DHS may consider expanding these official purposes through future rulemakings to maximize the security benefits of REAL ID."

Homeland Security
REAL ID Proposed Guidelines: Questions & Answers
What is REAL ID?
REAL ID is a nationwide effort intended to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of identification documents that State governments issue.

New ID rules may complicate air travel
WASHINGTON - Millions of air travelers may find going through airport security much more complicated this spring, as the Bush administration heads toward a showdown with state governments over post-Sept. 11 rules for new driver's licenses. By May, the dispute could leave millions of people unable to use their licenses to board planes, but privacy advocates called that a hollow threat by federal officials.

From Wikipedia:
The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires people entering federal buildings, boarding airplanes or opening bank accounts to present identification that has met certain security and authentication standards. The Act is Division B of an act of the United States Congress titled Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005. It implements the following:
Establishing national standards for state-issued driver's licenses and non-driver's identification cards;
Waiving laws that interfere with construction of physical barriers at the borders;
Updating and tightening the laws on application for asylum and deportation of aliens for terrorist activity;
Introducing rules covering "delivery bonds" (rather like bail bonds but for aliens who have been released pending hearings);
Funding some reports and pilot projects related to border security; and
Changing visa limits for temporary workers, nurses, and Australian citizens.

Real Nightmare
The Real ID Act of 2005 would turn our state driver’s licenses into a genuine national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments – while doing nothing to protect against terrorism. As a result, it is stirring intense opposition from many groups across the political spectrum. This Web site provides information about opposing Real ID.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Comupter love...

Reading the article I've posted below on being able to interact more with computers sparked this ramble...

Every day the future gets closer and closer, faster and faster. If you think back in history it is like time was just meandering along, things were being invented but at a slow pace. Things sped up with the advent of better communication. Things sped up as we became more civilized. You can't invent when you're hunkered down waiting for the next bomb or band of marauders.

Now hardly a second goes by where someone isn't coming up with an innovation that completely changes our world and future. I know there are some who fight it tooth and nail, and there are some who embrace it whole heartedly.

Me? There's good and there's bad in almost everything. Bad people will twist anything to serve themselves at the expense of others. Good people do their darnedest to keep on the right track but sometimes make mistakes. I believe in the basic goodness of most people and I remain optimistic about our future. I love these innovations and discoveries. I get a kick out of reading what's on the horizon.

On the flip side, I am concerned about a future where everyone is interacting with computers instead of each other. Computers are replacing televisions as the working parent's babysitter. Neither is good, although at least with computers there is some interaction with others, unlike TV.

I dislike television. But I'll save that for another ramble.

Wave to the PC! It's paying attention
LAS VEGAS - Nintendo Corp.'s Wii game console is a breakout hit in large part because users control the play by waving around a motion-sensing wireless controller. Many new gadgets are taking the idea of such an intuitive interface several steps further. Soon, you may be able to control computers, television sets, even cell phones with hand gestures alone.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I want a glow-in-the-dark pig

Scientists have created a live pig that glows fluorescent green under ultraviolet lights.

Forget the fluorescent green pigs, I want one that glows in the dark.

It would need to be one of those little pygmy pigs though, I'd want it to be able to zip around in the house at night and scare away burglars. Plus it would make it easier to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Who needs night lights? Pick up a glowing pig at Walgreens. Get one for every room. They double as garbage disposals. Plus, they're cute and loving. Yep, there are a lot of folks who keep them as pets. Until they started glowing, I wasn't inclined to consider owning one.

Although, I might not mind having the full-ton version for the yard. Imagine the fun of having this huge pig running around outside on your property glowing at everyone. Leave it out in the daylight and it's glow all night. Be the first in your neighborhood to own a guard-pig. Nah, they'd make bad guard pigs... too easy to see them and hungry neighbors might not mind eating glow-in-the-dark bacon.

I wonder if I had enough little glowing indoor pigs I could save money on my electricity?

It might be more fun to have glowing cats or dogs ya think?

I wonder if the pigs poop glows.

Here's the story:

Glowing pig passes genes to piglets
BEIJING - A cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow fluorescent green has passed on the trait to its young, a development that could lead to the future breeding of pigs for human transplant organs, a Chinese university reported.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Boy glues hand to bed to avoid school

I can relate.

I was fascinated with television when I was around 11 or 12. We had lived in England and television programming over there wasn't much of a draw. We had an old TV that wasn't all that great to begin with so even if they had happened to have any fun kids shows it wouldn't have been easy to watch them on the small screen.

When we moved back to the states we got a bigger, color television. The cartoons were cool. The early morning programs were fantastic compared to what I'd had before.

I'd stand in the door, half in, half out, watching the television and watching for the bus. Now we lived partway down a fairly large hill. When the bus would top the hill, I'd have to turn off the TV, grab my books and lunch box, lock the door and scoot across the street and up about three or four houses to catch the bus.

As you can imagine, I missed the bus a number of times.

We lived quite some distance from the grade school, really too long to think about walking. But walk I did. There was no way I was calling my Mom to come home from work (if she'd already left) to take me to school.

I cut school one day simply because one of my favorite movies was going to be on during the day. I was "sick." I curled up on the sofa and watched... gee, what was the name of the movie? It was the one where the guy met a little girl. Each time he'd see her she was older. He didn't figure it out until she was grown. Turned out she'd died in some sort of accident (hotel fire? circus fire?). He tried to stop her from dying again or something. I think her name was Jenny?

I haven't thought about that movie in umpteen years. It's going to drive me nuts until I remember the name! But I would have glued my hand to the couch to be able to watch it. Of course, we didn't have anything but school glue, so I doubt it would have done the trick.

Here's the story that sparked those memories:

MEXICO CITY - A 10-year-old Mexican boy dreaded returning to school after Christmas break so much that he glued his hand to his bed. Sandra Palacios spent nearly two hours Monday morning trying to free her son Diego's hand with water, oil and nail polish remover before calling authorities, police chief Jorge Camacho told The Associated Press from outside the northern city of Monterrey.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Report: U.K. Set to Pass U.S. in Standard of Living

Living standards in Britain are set to rise above those in America for the first time since the 19th century, according to a report by the respected Oxford Economics consultancy, the Times of London reported on Sunday.

According to the Times of London report, the calculations suggest that, measured by gross domestic product per capita, Britain can now hold its head up high in the economic stakes after more than a century of playing second fiddle to the Americans.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Falling 47 stories and living to talk about it

If I weren't a praying person, I'd be one if I were in this guys shoes! Alcides Moreno fell close to 500 ft (47 stories) and from what I read in the story below, he's going to be fine. I'll let you read the story to see the condition he was in as a result of the fall, and the miraculous condition he's in now. Sadly, the fall killed his brother.

We have all read about quirky things like this. Horrible car accidents where someone walks away with barely a scratch. Accidents with unbelievable survival stories.

My ex-husband was involved in something like that many years back. He was in the passenger seat when a tire blew, the car spun out and hit concrete pillars. The driver, not wearing a seat belt, was thrown through the BACK window of the car. He had a few minor scrapes. a headache that passed, and a not-too-badly broken arm.

My ex lived, but barely and with life-time serious damage. It was a miracle that he lived at all, but the driver is the one who I'd put in the miracle category.

One thing that I noted when I saw the car was that if the driver had NOT been ousted from the driver's seat, neither would have survived. The only un-squashed part of the auto was the driver's seat space. My ex was pushed from the passenger seat into the driver's area, breaking the gear shift when he did (which gives you an idea of the force involved... they were on the express-way going over the speed limit as usual for the pair).

I don't know what happened to the driver. I don't know if he changed his ways, felt that he'd been spared for a reason or whether he just went on his merry way as normal. We completely lost touch afterwards, and while all the recovery was going on I didn't try to talk with him. None of the thoughts I'm expressing now were on my mind as my ex went through his trauma.

Life throws some kickers at you sometimes. Whether it's the result of a miraculous happening like the one our 47-story falling guy lived through, surviving a car accident or some other large or small trauma, it's never a bad idea to take stock and think about the miracle of life and existence.

NYC Window Washer Who Fell 47 Stories Awake, Talking
New York — Doctors say they have never seen anything like it: A window washer who fell 47 stories from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper is now awake, talking to his family and expected to walk again. Alcides Moreno, 37, plummeted almost 500 feet in a Dec. 7 scaffolding collapse that killed his brother.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cluck, Cluck, Cluckin' to wipe out the human race...

OK faithful readers, you may remember my earlier post, "Chickens of the World Unite". The United Egg Producers (no, not chickens who've united to strike for better benefits... we're talking humans who produce eggs. Well, that sounds even stranger. I don't know too many humans who produce eggs. Hmmm, I don't know any who produce eggs. Come to think of it, I don't know anyone in the egg producing business aside from some individuals who raise chickens... yep, I've taken this one as far as I'm going to for the moment, time to get back on track ya think?)

The United Egg Producers are really going after those rotten people who "produce" free range chicken / hen eggs. They've added a new wrinkle this time, they're going after those pesky ORGANIC chicken / hen egg producers, too.

They're getting smarter and smarter in their campaign to erradicate free range and / or organic egg producers.

Who usually eats organic and free range eggs? I would imagine a lot of those healthy egg eating people recycle and drool when Al Gore starts talking about riding a bike to save the world from global warming. Oops, goofed. It is not "global warming" it is "Global Warming". You have to capitalize it to emphasize the IMPORTANCE. You'll know we're in crisis mode when it's no longer "Global Warming" but it's "GLOBAL WARMING".

If you eat free range and / or organic eggs, you're killing the planet. You're destroying the chances for your children to live and breath and enjoy cold weather.

Yep, according to the United Egg Producers, henceforth known as UEP, converting current egg producing from the in-the-cage-beakless-hormone stuffed-antibiotic loaded system to organic would increase the effects on GLOBAL WARMING by 40%. Switching to free range would increase it by a mere 10%. Stick with the status-quo stuck-in-a-cage-for-life system and an expert says it decreases the effect on GLOBAL WARMING by 10%.

So, eat cheaper eggs. Save the world! Stop the chickens from uniting or they'll want to stop taking drugs and hormones, they'll want to leave their cages and roam free... it's a chicken conspiracy. They're out to destroy the world. And here I thought all they wanted was a chance for unlimited worms or whatever it is they eat...

Has anyone done a study to see what the affects of Global Warming would be on chickens? We know that in a nuclear war roaches will survive. Are the chickens plotting to annihilate humans and thus rule the free-range world? I think we need to study this issue and study it quickly. I think I need to go scramble up a few organic eggs.

I only eat organic free range eggs. Guess I'm in cahoots with the chickens on this one. Maybe they'll let me live when they take over the world in 5 or 6 hundred years...

Here's the press release:

Traditional Eggs May Have Lower Impact on Global Warming
Egg Industry Proves to be Greener than other Livestock

ATLANTA, Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- While some animal rights organizations have been campaigning to ban traditional cage eggs in the U.S., it turns out that these eggs may be best for the environment.

A study conducted by Adrian Williams, PhD., senior research fellow at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, found that the traditional cage egg production currently used by most U.S. egg farmers decreases the industry's effects on global warming by 10 percent, while converting to all free-range egg production would increase the effects on global warming by 10 percent and converting to all organic egg production would increase the effects on global warming by 40 percent.

Free-range and organic egg farms are more environmentally intense because their need for more green space, food and energy.

The research examined the energy and food levels for farm production on 10 different agricultural and horticultural commodities such as potatoes, tomatoes, beef, milk, poultry, and eggs. In addition to the varying production findings, the study found that egg production as a whole is less harmful on the environment than other livestock. Egg production takes less global energy thus producing less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The study was funded by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the U.K.

Grocery shoppers can find UEP Certified eggs by looking for the UEP Certified logo on cartons of most brands of eggs, since 95 percent of the eggs produced in the U.S. come from farmers who participate in the program. UEP developed the United Egg Producers Certified animal welfare program (www.uepcertified.com) to assure consumers, retailers and foodservice professionals that egg cartons carrying the UEP Certified logo are from farmers who adhere to the highest scientific standards for egg production and undergo independent audits from the USDA and Validus to ensure 100 percent compliance.

UEP developed the UEP Certified program for modern egg production out of scientific guidelines established by an independent advisory committee of the top animal welfare scientific experts in the U.S. The USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have approved the UEP Certified logo. The International Egg Commission has recognized the program as a model from which to create animal welfare programs in other member countries throughout the world. In addition, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants also endorse these guidelines. To view a complete copy of the UEP Certified Guidelines and to learn more about the program visit www.uepcertified.com.

I'm gonna change the title of this blog to weird news...

Not really, I like Ramblin' Jan. Howsomeever, these silly news stories just keep coming to my attention that have me rolling the eyeballs to the heavens. I can't help but share. Now we're doing surgery to save snakes. Snakes. They're gonna set this snake free and someone's gonna shoot it. Especially if it gets back into the chicken coop!

Snake saved after eating golf balls
BRISBANE, Australia - A snake was saved by surgery in Australia after mistaking four golf balls for a meal of chicken eggs, a veterinarian said Wednesday.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stuck in a chimney...

Sorry, I know I'm posting a lot of bits and pieces on here lately, but it's the holidays and I actually have time to read news stories (and to write a bit). We need to set up a page on the Fayette Front Page for strange news, dumb news, weird stories. It's been so long since I had time to read news feeds that I've been missing all the fun!

This is another one of those stories that makes you wonder if there's such a thing as an intelligent decision making gene that some folks are missing!

A 19-year old woman in Mt. Rainier, Maryland got stuck in her Dad's tire shop chimney. She locked her keys and wallet inside the store. She shimmied down the chimney to get them. She got stuck 14 feet into the two-story chimney.

She managed to get a pretty good ways down before getting stuck though...

They had to tear out part of the wall to get her out. They being the fire department.

Her boyfriend called them.

Which means he was part of the decision-making process that got her into the mess.

Let's hope that if they stay together they get at least a little better at thinking things through.

Here's a link to the story: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,319285,00.html

Words to Use... Not

RJ - I figured that "not" added to the end of a sentence would have made the list. Not. I went back for a few years thinking maybe someone had included it in past lists. Not. Ah well. It is what it is.

Lake Superior State University 2008 List of Banished Words

The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University are giving back to English speakers everywhere with their 33rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

On Dec. 31, 1975, former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and his colleagues cooked up an idea to banish overused words and phrases and issue a list on New Year's Day. Much to the delight of language enthusiasts everywhere, the list has stayed the course into a fourth decade.
This year's list derives from more than 2,000 nominations received through the university's website, www.lssu.edu/banished. Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, education, technology, advertising, politics, sports and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December. The list is released on New Year's Day.

More: http://www.lssu.edu/banished/

Here's a few of the 2008 banned words & terms:

PERFECT STORM – "Overused by the pundits on evening TV shows to mean just about any coincidence." – Lynn Allen, Warren, Michigan.

"I read that 'Ontario is a perfect storm,' in reference to a report on pollution levels in the Great Lakes. Ontario is the name of one of the lakes and a Canadian province. This guy would have me believe it's a hurricane. It's time for 'perfect storm' to get rained out." – Bob Smith, DeWitt, Michigan.

"Hands off book titles as cheap descriptors!" – David Hollis, Hamilton, New York.

WEBINAR – A seminar on the web about any number of topics."Ouch! It hurts my brain. It should be crushed immediately before it spreads." – Carol, Lams, Michigan.

"Yet another non-word trying to worm its way into the English language due to the Internet. It belongs in the same school of non-thought that brought us e-anything and i-anything." – Scott Lassiter, Houston, Texas.

WATERBOARDING – "Let's banish 'waterboarding' to the beach, where it belongs with boogie boards and surfboards." – Patrick K. Egan, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

More: http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

Team Works to Defend Digital Battlefield in Europe

RJ - Just thought this was so very interesting! We didn't have a place for it on the Fayette Front Page so I thought I'd share it in my blog. Happy New Year (not that this article has anything to do with ringing in the new year... it speaks more to the new world we live in).

By Kristopher Joseph
Special to American Forces Press Service

MANNHEIM, Germany, Dec. 31, 2007 - In 1983, with the Cold War still going strong, a movie called "War Games" depicted an eccentric computer hacker named David Lightman, played by Matthew Broderick. With dogged determination to play a military-generated "game" -- Global Thermonuclear War -- David managed to hack into the North American Aerospace Defense Command computer system and almost caused an actual nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

The Army's 5th Signal Command has created a cyber-threat intelligence cell to detect, monitor and combat malicious digital infiltrations on military computer networks. Photo by Sgt. Michael Taylor, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"War Games" represented the tensions and anxieties of the ever-looming nuclear threat during the Cold War nuclear arms race. The global war on terrorism has replaced many threats of the Cold War. Many believe that in today's "information age" there are real David Lightmans who pose a cyber threat to military networks that could cause the loss of innocent lives unless something is done about them.

"We are taking a proactive approach to stop these 'hacktivists' from attacking our systems," said Robert Hembrook, deputy chief of intelligence for United States Army Europe's 5th Signal Command here.

For the first time in the European military theater, a cyber-threat intelligence cell has been created for the specific purpose of detecting, monitoring and combating malicious digital infiltrations on military computer networks, Hembrook said.

Cyber defense is implemented at the Department of Defense level and already was under way in the halls of U.S. European Command, in Stuttgart, but a fully developed and funded European theater-level cyber cell now is active within 5th Signal Command, Hembrook said.

The cell consists of three experienced intelligence and computer experts whose jobs are to observe potentially harmful data passing from the Internet into friendly networks, identify patterns of attacks, analyze data, and advise the operators of the network so that they can take preventative action to ensure the safety and security of all systems in the European footprint.

"The fact is that there are people currently trying to break into our systems in an effort to obtain data or plant viruses that put servicemembers and their missions at risk," one of the cyber cell members said. "We simply cannot be vulnerable in this area."

The military, along with most other organizations, relies more and more on the speed and capabilities of computer-based technology to give it an edge on the battlefield. This reliance also allows an extra avenue of attack for the enemy. "This cyber cell marks a change of approach in the intel world," a team member said. "We are already experts on predicting physical attacks from the enemy, but we never had a dedicated staff to predict and prevent virtual attacks at a theater level."

Besides combating threats from the outside, the cell is also involved with helping its military users prevent "digital fratricide" from the inside. For work and morale purposes, DoD policy allows users filtered, monitored access to the World Wide Web on government computers. According to a cell member, this is to obtain business-related information and to visit non-work related sites as long as casual browsing does not affect getting missions accomplished.

"It's a delicate relationship of balancing functionality and security," a cell member said. "We know that many users can't do their job without computers and the Internet, so we look for ways to help protect them."

"Users need to know that Internet access is a privilege and not a right," one cyber cell member said.

The cell has taken another proactive step by leaving their offices and actively engaging and informing commanders and military communities of their findings as well as stressing the importance and relevance of the cyber battlefield.

Another cell member said that the team's audience is the leadership in theater because they are the ones who can affect changes in how members of the DoD deal with and fight these cyber threats.

"We have had nothing but positive feedback from commanders," one cell member said. "They are taking our reports seriously, and more and more they are seeing that, if our data or systems get compromised or abused, threats to our systems can affect not only those sitting behind a desk, but also those on the front lines."

Since the 5th Signal Cyber Cell has shared its results to the intelligence community, other military organizations are asking how they too can have a cyber cell to find their own digital landmines, team officials said.

"This (cyber cell) is unprecedented at this level," a cell member said. "I saw the need for this when I worked at the DoD level. Members of the cell believe that network-defensive measures should be implemented at all levels in the military because a computer's role is becoming just as vital as an M-16 rifle in terms of winning today's wars.

"As much as the military trains its own on weapon safety, so we should be training them on computer and network safety," the cell member said. "That is where informing the leadership and giving them briefings becomes so vital."

In a 2006 interview for Defense Systems magazine, Tom Reardon, chief of the Intelligence Division for Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., had this to say about the level of importance computer networks play in military operations: "Network-centric operations are how we prosecute war and sustain the warfighter. If an enemy can degrade or destroy that capability, the tide of the battle could easily be turned in their favor. Worse yet, if the enemy succeeds in denying our network-centric capability, our forces may not be able to deploy; we couldn't show up to seize or defend terrain or support an ally."

Today, the 5th Signal Cyber Threat Intelligence Cell team members are the U.S. Army Europe warfighters in virtual trenches making sure the digital frontlines are defended.

"From an intel point of view, we've gone from 'patch the leaks' to 'build a better boat,'" Hembrook said.

(Kristopher Joseph is a public affairs specialist and editor of 5th Signal Command's biannual Echo magazine.)