Sunday, February 1, 2015

'Toons For February 1st...!

Hard to believe that January is already gone, isn't it. Seems like the tie passes faster all the time.

I wonder if they will still be watching the 'toons in the future?

Mixing them up a bit today. OK?

Some of these artist were really good, weren't they?

I reckon that's enough for today. Maybe it's time to go read a book! Better yet, I'll bake some cookies!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Rain is on the way!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Kingdom For A Cookie...?

As most of you know, I love cookies. Nearly any kind, but mainly without nuts. Evidently I'm not alone.

While I do love cookies, there are some things I won't do for a free cookie. Not many, but a few! Some folks will go a lot farther than I ever would! Take the people in this article I found over at KnowledgeNuts, for example.

Would You Trade Your Identity For A Cookie?
By Debra Kelly on Friday, January 30, 2015

We’re often warned that we need to work on keeping our personal information secret. While it might seem pretty obvious that you shouldn’t be just giving out things like your social security number to complete strangers, one experiment shows that that’s just what people will do—as long as they’re offered a tasty, tasty cookie. It’s a surprising amount of people that will be willing to tell strangers just about anything and even to allow their pictures and fingerprints to be taken, as long as you give them a cookie in the end.

In an age when pretty much anything about us can be found out online, we’re constantly reminded to keep our passwords safe and suitably cryptic. We’re told to be careful what we post online, keep our virus software updated and our most valuable personal information someplace extra safe.

There are many lists of the worst passwords you could possibly have, and a similar survey done by Imperva compiled the most common of 32 million hacked passwords. On the list? Things like “123456,” “abc123,” and (of course) “password.”

But surely, after now decades of warnings to keep creative with our passwords and to keep our information secure, people can’t possibly be using things like, “qwerty” for their passwords . . . can they?

They absolutely are, and even if they aren’t, it’s easier than you think it would be to get some incredibly personal information from people. All you have to do is offer them a cookie for it. An artist named Risa Puno took to the streets at the Brooklyn Arts Festival, wanting to see just what sort of value people were putting on their most personal information. She was armed with some pretty delicious-looking cookies, all decorated with an appropriate, technology-related theme. All people had to do to get a cookie was give her a piece of personal information.

Most of the information that she asked for were things that are often used for password recovery—your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name, what street you grew up on. She also asked for social security numbers, phone and drivers’ license numbers, and even requested people let her take their photographs and fingerprints.

Not only were many, many people willing to give up this information without a second thought, but many requested that they get to pose with the cookies in their pictures.

Over the course of the experiment, she approached 380 people. More than half agreed to have their pictures taken, and 162 divulged the last four digits of their social security number. Again, they did this for a cookie.

Whenever anyone asked what she was going to do with the information, she presented them with a page-long Terms of Service that included giving her the right to share and distribute the information she collected.

Still, people were more than happy to give up their information for one of her cookies and some even took to social media afterward to boast that they’d just gotten this amazing cookie, and all they’d had to do was give up some personal information.

It’s a pretty non-scientific (albeit delicious) experiment, but the question of the value of privacy has become an increasingly important one. In a 2009 study by Carnegie Mellon privacy experts, it was found that there are a massive amount of variables when it comes to deciding just what privacy is actually, monetarily worth.

Participants in their study were offered gift cards, along with the stipulation that their purchases would or wouldn’t be tracked. Results were so varied that researchers came to the conclusion that a big part of getting someone to divulge personal information was how they felt about the situation they were in. This could account for, perhaps, people’s likeliness to give up personal details to a friendly cookie-seller.

I'm sorry, but I won't give out my personal information for a single cookie. Now, for a dozen or more...?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Rain tomorrow, but today is good!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Candy Desk For Freaky Friday...!

I know you are wondering what in the world is the "Candy Desk" and how is it freaky? Good question!

The story behind the "Candy Desk" is a tradition that has been around since the 1960s. It was started by a Senator named George Murphy and, as far as I know, is still around today. The freaky part comes from the fact that some of the Senators probably pay more attention to the "Candy Desk" than they do on the work they are being paid to do by the American people. Welcome to the world of politics!

The Senate Candy Desk

It’s a little-known fact that hidden toward the back of the Senate is a desk that is filled to the brim with candy. Since the 1960s, this desk has been manned by a string of senators who are tasked with keeping it stocked with candy from their home state so that their fellow senators always have something to snack on if they get hungry. Which is apparently a lot because the desk supposedly costs hundreds of dollars to maintain over a given year.

This curious custom was supposedly started back in the 1960s by Senator George Murphy who was known to always keep a healthy supply of candy in his desk during his time as a senator. After Murphy was moved toward the back of the Senate near one of its entrances, he began offering this candy to other senators as they entered. After a while, senators simply began referring to Murphy’s desk as “the candy desk.”

When Murphy left his position in 1971, the candy desk stayed and it has been standard practice ever since for this desk to always be filled with candy, just in case. The tradition is so popular that when Senator Craig Thomas was charged with manning the desk in 2007, his fellow senators complained that his home state of Wyoming had no well-known confectionawakery manufacturers and, as such, he would be unable to keep the desk sufficiently stocked.

However, Thomas did manage to keep the desk stocked when some smaller independent chocolate makers stepped up and offered their services. But, just for a second, can we all appreciate that in 2007, for a brief but glorious moment, the most pressing issue the Senate discussed was where all their candy was going to come from?

What can you possibly say after reading about this? Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of having a little sweet snack around. I really want to know if the Senators pay for this candy from their own pockets, or do they use our tax money to keep the desk stocked up? Just curious, ya know?

One more day of coffee out on the patio before the predicted bad weather comes in. Lemon pie anyone?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Safety Laws Can Kill Ya...!

At some point we have all stopped and wondered just why some rules supposedly designed to make us safe, turned out to be deadly to someone.

If rules can be followed safely, then that's the way to go. If the rules themselves pose a danger to folks...then I say they need to be studied a little more. Maybe by someone with a little common sense!

The Maritime Safety Law That Killed Hundreds Of People
By Larry Jimenez on Wednesday, January 28, 2015


In the wake of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the US passed the Seamen’s Act which required ships to be fitted with adequate lifeboats. The passenger ship SS Eastland was retrofitted to accommodate the lifeboats, but this added more weight to the already top-heavy vessel. The inevitable disaster that followed ironically killed more passengers on Eastland than on the Titanic, in a catastrophe not out on the open sea, but on an urban river, a mere stone’s throw from the dock.

Launched in 1903, the steamer Eastland plied its route between Chicago and picnic sites on the shores of Lake Michigan. It had an initial capacity of 650 people, but a design overhaul in 1913 allowed it to take on 2,500 passengers. It was then that a naval architect issued a note of warning that Eastland had structural problems that put it in danger of listing and recommended remedial measures to prevent an accident. Eastland lacked a keel and had only poorly designed ballast tanks in its hold to keep it from overturning. The modifications, which also increased the boat’s speed, made it even less balanced. Eastland behaved like a bicycle, unstable when in the dock but steady when underway.

Two close calls in 1904 and 1906 earned Eastland a reputation as a “hoodoo boat.” Now, only one factor was needed to trigger a horrific disaster—additional weight. In a tragic irony, a maritime safety law would provide the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In the aftermath of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, a “lifeboats for all” campaign was launched by international maritime officials. In March 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the LaFollette Seaman’s Act requiring ships to provide lifeboats to 75 percent of their passengers. Lawmakers never considered warnings that Great Lakes vessels were not built to hold the extra weight.

Eastland complied with the law and was equipped with a full complement of 11 lifeboats (it was designed to carry only six) and 37 life rafts of 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) each, and enough life jackets to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. The stage was set.

On the fateful day of July 24, 1915, employees of the Western Electric Company and their families were headed out on the lake for an annual picnic. In a festive mood, 2,573 passengers and crew jammed the Eastland at its dock on the Chicago River. Bands played as friends and acquaintances greeted each other. No one seemed alarmed when the ship began to list to port. Some reports recalled that a crowd gathered on one side of the boat to pose for a photograph. At 7:28 AM, Eastland listed 45 degrees. An engineer desperately attempted to stabilize the vessel by opening one of the ballast tanks. Too late. Eastland rolled over as it was moored just 6 meters (20 ft) from the wharf, in water only 6 meters deep, trapping hundreds of men, women, and children underneath the bowels of the ship. So sudden was the movement there was no time to launch the lifesaving equipment.

Some lucky passengers simply walked across the hull of the overturned vessel to reach dry land, not even getting their feet wet. But for many more, the day became a nightmare of screams and struggle against a drowning death. Onlookers on the riverfront jumped into the water to help or threw whatever they could for flotation into the mass of drowning humanity.

Rescuers were able to pull 40 people out alive. But for 844 others, nothing could be done but recover the bodies and take them to the Second Regiment Armory for identification. Twenty-two entire families had perished. Most of the dead were under the age of 25. Though more passengers died on the Eastland than on the Titanic (excluding crew), it remains an obscure event in the public’s mind. “There wasn’t anyone rich or famous onboard,” explains Ted Wacholz, president of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society. “It was all hardworking, salt-of-the-earth immigrant families.”

I had never heard about this particular disaster until I found the article on KnowledgeNuts. Very, very sad!

Once more we are having coffee out on the patio. Upper 70s again today!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Remember Ned Buntline...?

Not many writers of western stories had as much financial success as ol' Ned. He made a lot of money giving the public what they wanted, even if he had to make it up!

Buntline never denied that money was his main goal in writing, and he didn't even like his own stories that much. Just chasing the almighty dollar, but at least he was honest about it.

Mar 20, 1823:
Ned Buntline born

Ned Buntline, the "dime millionaire" and discoverer of Buffalo Bill, is born in Stamford, New York.

Perhaps more than any single writer, Ned Buntline was responsible for creating a highly romanticized and somewhat misleading image of the American West as the setting for great adventure and excitement. Born Edward Zane Carroll Judson, in 1845 he founded a sensationalistic magazine, called Ned Buntline's Own, in Nashville, Tennessee-Ned Buntline became the best known of several pseudonyms he used during his career.

Buntline's goal in life was straightforward: he wanted to make as much money as possible writing stories that the public would pay to read. He filled the pages of Ned Buntline's Own with all manner of outrageous stories, having a particular affinity for nautical adventures. An incorrigible womanizer (he married seven times), in 1846 he killed a jealous husband who suspected him of seducing his wife. Although Buntline had acted in self-defense, townspeople sympathetic to the dead man hanged Buntline from an awning post in the public square. Luckily, Buntline's friends cut the rope before he strangled and he was spirited out of town.

Buntline relocated to New York, where he resumed publishing his magazine. Though he had once dreamed of becoming a serious writer, he was desperate to make a living so he began to write more for a mass audience. Buntline's popular adventures were wildly successful, and he churned out dozens of melodramatic "shocking" stories over the course of only a few years. By the time he was in his late 20s, Buntline had earned the title "King of the Dime Novels" and was making an excellent living.

After traveling to San Francisco in 1869, Buntline realized he could easily adapt his stock adventure plots to a setting in the American West. At about the same time he met a handsome young scout and buffalo hunter named William Frederick Cody. Buntline claimed to have given Cody the nickname "Buffalo Bill," though Cody said he earned the name years before as a hunter for the railroads.

Buntline's decision to write a dime novel starring Buffalo Bill Cody made the relatively unknown scout into a national media star. Buntline's book The Scout of the Plains grossly exaggerated Cody's western adventures, but the public loved the thrilling tale. Always the promoter, Buntline turned the novel into a play that he staged in Chicago. In 1872, Buntline convinced Cody to travel to the city and play himself in the production. Cody was a poor actor, but his participation brought in people and money.

Cody broke with Buntline after a year, but the national fame he gained because of Buntline's work eventually allowed "Buffalo Bill" to create his famous Wild West show. Buntline churned out other western dime novels, and he eventually became the nation's top literary money earner, surpassing the income of writers like Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. Buntline prized his wealth, but he remained scornful of his own work. "I found that to make a living I must write 'trash' for the masses, for he who endeavors to write for the critical few, and do his genius justice, will go hungry if he has no other means of support."

Buntline died at his home in Stamford, New York, in 1886. He was 63 years old and had written more than 400 novels and countless other short stories and articles.

It was writers like Buntline that created many of the western legends that today. They could take a fairly average man and make him bigger than life for all to enjoy.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Another beautiful day headed this way!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanks For Nothing, Uncle Sam...!

We all have been told about prohibition and just what it was supposed to do. What a massive failure it turned out to be!

What made that particular time even worse was some of the actions taken by the government at the time. Certainly not a thing you would expect.

The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, January 24, 2015

In an attempt to stem the tide of illegal alcohol that was being manufactured, sold, and consumed during the middle of the 1920s, the United States’ federal government ordered some pretty drastic steps to be taken. Manufacturers of the various types of industrial alcohol that were often used to distill into drinks were ordered to add deadly chemicals—including mercury, zinc, and gasoline—to their alcohol in the hopes that a good poisoning would discourage people from drinking. It didn’t, and it’s estimated that the move killed up to 10,000 people and made countless others extremely ill.

Prohibition was one of the greatest failed experiments in United States history. Attempts at cleaning up the streets and making life better, cleaner, and safer in every house in America by removing the temptations of alcohol was met with nothing less than outright rebellion. Bootleggers were making a fortune in distilling and selling alcohol, speakeasies were the places to be, and organized crime was making sure that the people were getting what they wanted.

Lawmakers had their hands full cracking down on those that broke the rules during Prohibition, and federal officials were realizing that their methods absolutely weren’t working. On the opposite side of the fence from the men and women that were heading off down back alleys and through secret doors to partake at their local speakeasy every night were the members of the Temperance movement, and their views on the matter of alcohol were pretty drastic.

According to one suggestion made by the movement, the government should oversee the poisoning of alcoholic beverages sold illegally. It might mean countless deaths, they said, but it was better than the way things were going.

And that’s what the government decided to do.

On Christmas Eve 1926, more than 60 people were admitted to New York City’s Bellevue Hospital alone, suffering from some pretty intense hallucinations. Over the next few days, 23 people were dead—and that was just in the city.

Alcohol poisoning wasn’t anything particularly new, especially since those people that wanted alcohol were making whatever they could out of whatever they could get. Law enforcement and federal officials knew that bootlegging empires were being built on buying industrial alcohol and re-distilling it into something that was at least marginally palatable. By the middle of the 1920s, Prohibition was in full swing, there were 30,000 speakeasies operating in New York City alone, and there were about 60 million gallons of industrial-grade alcohol that had been turning up missing—run through distillers and ending up on the rocks.

On orders from the federal government, manufacturers began adding all kinds of chemicals to their industrial alcohol products. From kerosene and gasoline to chloroform, zinc, mercury, and methyl alcohol, the industrial alcohols manufactured were now anywhere up to 10 percent deadly poisons.

It’s not known how many people died from the addition of these absolutely deadly, poisonous chemicals, but some put estimates in the range of 10,000. In 1926 in New York City alone, there were around 400 deaths attributed to the government’s poisoning, with another 1,200 people taken gravely ill. There were deaths across the country, reported in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Toledo. In some places, it was originally thought that there was some sort of serial killer prowling the speakeasies and poisoning the drinks . . . but he was never caught.

Alcohol distilled from whatever people could get their hands on—from poison ivy to wood chips to sawdust—was deadly enough, but the deaths skyrocketed with assistance from the government. Prohibition ended in 1933, but the government’s practice of poisoning alcohol had ended before that.

Ya know, sometimes what we think of as the "good guys" turns upside down. Seems to me that sometimes the line between the good guys and the bad gets crossed over in a big way! Who would have ever believed, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sorry you folks up north are getting more cold and nasty weather!

Monday, January 26, 2015

John Doe Mystery For Monday...!

Probably one thing worse than finding a dead body for the police is finding out they can't identify them.

It's sad enough to have someone found dead, but to not be able to notify the family id even more sad. When you bring in any mysterious findings of the case, then you have a double tragedy on your hands. That was the case with this next story from Listverse.

The Georgia-Pacific West Inc. John Doe

When the remains of unidentified men or women are discovered and their identity cannot be determined, they take the name John or Jane Doe. However, one of the most bizarre places an unidentified John Doe has ever been discovered was the Georgia-Pacific West Inc. paper mill in Bellingham County, Washington. On September 20, 1987, a worker noticed a temperature spike inside the chimney of one of the paper mill’s boilers. The worker went to check inside the chimney and was shocked to see skeletal remains lying on top of the pipes near the bottom. A forensic investigation determined that the victim may have been a Native American male between the ages of 20 and 40.

The chimney was rarely checked, so the remains could have been in there for several days. During that the time, the boiler was often running and temperatures ranged from 115 to 185 degrees Celsius (240 to 370 °F). Since the victim’s bones were broken, they either had fallen or were thrown down the chimney. What made the discovery unusual was that it seemed like an insanely difficult place to dispose of a dead body. In order to toss the remains into the chimney, a person would have to climb up several flights of stairs to the roof of the building. There was nothing to indicate the victim had been an employee at the paper mill since no one who worked there was reported missing during that time. The only clue to his identity was the burnt remnants of what appeared to be a baggage claim for Continental Airlines. Unfortunately, because of the extreme heat inside the chimney, all traces of DNA were destroyed, so this John Doe may never be identified.

Ya know, if something ever happens to me, I hope that I can be identified so my family could at least know what happened to me. Knowing something bad happened is bad enough, but not knowing anything when they disappear would be worse, I think.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have to go to V.A. later, but we have time for a cup and a visit!