Sunday, June 30, 2013


It’s not just hot air: one reason that the urbane Windy City made the highfalutin top 10 is its renowned theater scene, although it’s hard to call the sketch work at Second City, or the improv at iO Chicago Theater, snooty. A favorite among serious architecture buffs, Chicago did win the survey for one great (culinary) equalizer: pizza.

SEATTLE #5 ties with SANTA FE at #5)
In this city of coffee connoisseurs and tech-savvy early adopters, it can be easy to feel hopelessly out of step. To relive the city’s pre-Internet tech scene, check out the Museum of Flight (home of the original Air Force One) or Everett’s Flying Heritage Collection, launched by Microsoft alum Paul Allen. And you don’t have to be schooled in contemporary art to appreciate the city’s Olympic Sculpture Park and its view of Puget Sound.

SANTA FE, NM (ties with Seattle at #5)
Georgia O’Keeffe’s old stomping ground certainly ranks as an A-list art town with readers: it won the survey for being a cultural getaway and scored highly for its museums. Beyond the galleries and boutiques of Canyon Road, the New Mexicans also came across as being pretty affable—but it may depend on your topic of conversation: the city ranked near the bottom for its sports bars.

Perhaps readers felt intimidated by these bookish, indie-music-loving, craft-beer-drinking hipsters, who also ranked highly for being exceptionally tidy. If these Minnesotans feel self-satisfied, is it any wonder? They also scored well for being fit and outdoorsy; you can join them at the Chain of Lakes, where, depending on the season, folks are hiking, paddling, or even ice-surfing.

In this college town steeped in history, visitors may detect a certain air of superiority: after all, the locals rank near the top for their Ivy League–worthy brains and for supporting old-school culture, such as the symphony. On Harvard Square, you can tap into that brainpower by browsing high-concept bookstores—from Grolier Poetry Bookshop to Schoenhof’s Foreign Books. But there is one realm where Bostonians falter: their driving, which ranked near the bottom of the survey.

The fast-paced manners of New Yorkers may put off some visitors, but there’s no denying that the Big Apple has ample reasons to be proud: it ranked at the top of the survey for its theater and art scene and for dressing to the nines. Manhattan's Meatpacking District, with its exclusive clubs and stiletto-heeled crowd, is one see-and-be-seen area, as is Williamsburg. That said, many New Yorkers’ definition of cool has more of a laid-back, off-the-grid feel: an example is Brooklyn’s Greenwood Park, a beer garden with 60 brews on tap and a bocce league.

View the complete list by clicking here



OK, so today I start off with a lot of "stuff" on spying by governments, primarily here at home but not confined to the USA.  And I know it has been going on longer than most people imagine.  But
there is something that bothers me when some much of it seems to go on despite our presumed rights and liberties.  Then today, all of a sudden, we have another flurry or stories.  So, I'm frustrated like many people are, and yes, I realize that there is really nothing I can do to stop it or avoid it.  I can just re-post the original stories here for you to at least hopefully read and digest.  I'm someone who now firmly believes that you can no longer get all of the news you need from one source, and as a result, I follow numerous blogs and newspapers.  That, however, puts me in the same predicament that agencies like the NSA and CIA are in.  I'm fed far too much information to
ever be able to read it all in a timely manner.

However, in the middle of all of this stuff there can still survive a bit of humor.....

Rice: NSA leaks didn’t weaken Obama

and from the blog THE HILL comes a cute little tidbit.  Of course there are many who really are not members of this woman's fan club because of her interesting testimony before Congress about what supposedly happened in Benghazi.  She initially claimed it was a spontaneous demonstration, although she later did admit that it was indeed a well-planned and coordinated attack.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice rejected suggestions that National Security Agency leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden had damaged U.S. foreign policy or weakened President Obama.

“I think that’s bunk,” said Rice, who will assume her new post as Obama’s national security adviser next week, in an interview with the Associated Press published Saturday.

Click to read the post in THE HILL

.......AND FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, more good news

Number of federal wiretaps rose 71 percent in 2012

The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures
Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, according to the figures, released Friday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period. 

NSA reportedly has secret data collection agreement with several European countries

Editor’s Note: Since Salon published this story, The Guardian has taken down its report with the note, “This article has been taken down pending an investigation.” Business Insider has a link to a cached version of the initial story.

The Guardian has since published a follow-up story that reports that “The president of the European parliament has called for full clarification from the US over claims it bugged EU offices in America and accessed computer networks.”

From earlier:
The NSA has been working with at least seven European other countries to collect personal communications data, according to Wayne Madsen, a former NSA contractor who has come forward because he thinks the public should not be “kept in the dark.” According to Madsen, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy all have formed secret agreements with the US to submit sensitive data.

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at 


Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of U.S. surveillance programs

Wolfgang Schmidt was seated in Berlin’s 1,200-foot-high TV tower, one of the few remaining landmarks left from the former East Germany. Peering out over the city that lived in fear when the communist party ruled it, he pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration. A smile spread across his face.

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his department was limited to tapping 40 phones at a time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new victim and an old one had to be dropped, because of a lack of equipment. He finds breathtaking the idea that the U.S. government receives daily reports on the cellphone usage of millions of Americans and can monitor the Internet traffic of millions more.

“So much information, on so many people,” he said.

East Germany’s Stasi has long been considered the standard of police state surveillance during the Cold War years, a monitoring regime so vile and so intrusive that agents even noted when their subjects were overheard engaging in sexual intercourse. Against that backdrop, Germans have greeted with disappointment, verging on anger, the news that somewhere in a U.S. government databank are the records of where millions of people were when they made phone calls or what video content they streamed on their computers in the privacy of their homes.

Even Schmidt, 73, who headed one of the more infamous departments in the infamous Stasi, called himself appalled. The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious, he said.

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”

Read the entire article here:


Read more here:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

QUESTION #11 from the Interview of my life

My name is Amber Dunham. I am part of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender) group. I am straight but do believe in LGBT due to my beliefs such as 'do what you want as long as you are not harming anyone else.’ I am interviewing one my mother's friends that had a complete sex change under the category of transgender of the LGBT essay that I am writing.

I will be interviewing Alexis. Alexis is from the Iowa City area and the questions I will ask, she will hopefully be willing to answer. If she feels uncomfortable with any of my questions, I will allow her not to answer them.

So, if you've been curious how this interview even got momentum, this is where....

11) How complicated was the name and sex gender change?

This is, of course, tied in with the above question…..and I guess I have covered the name change fairly well. I am not totally sure what you mean by "sex gender change" but I am assuming it is in relationship to legal documents such as birth certificate and driver’s license and so on. Iowa is very kind to those who wish to change their legal sex. After the SRS I actually had no idea what to do about this, but I continued to research the issue on the internet. I found a website that had an email address for someone in Des Moines who worked for the State of Iowa. I contacted her and found out what I needed to do----which basically was to submit my legal name change document, and a letter from the doctor who performed the surgery, describing in detail what he had surgically done, and send it to her.  I requested a letter from my SRS surgeon, and he sent me a very detailed letter explaining all of the physical alterations he had done.  I sent the letter.  And a few weeks later I received a ‘new’ birth certificate with my new sex clearly showing, and with only the new name on the document.  I was ecstatic, and even to this day I still carry a copy of it with me in case there are ever any issues that might arise.  I was then able to take that to the Driver’s License Bureau and get a new driver’s license with my correct gender on it. I was also told that my birth records from the county I was born in had been sealed, and any future inquiries would have to go though that particular State department. I still have to have one major government record changed, as with the Social Security Administration I am still listed a male, which I know will cause some issues in the future if not taken care of. Must make a note to get that done sooner rather than later.  Aside from that, as far as I know, all major legal documents, insurance policies and licenses have me correctly identified as a female.

Jackie & JFK

JFK & Jackie Kennedy's Life In Homes: From Newlywed Love Nest To The White House  (April 3, 1957 - Jacqueline Kennedy on ''Home'' hosted by Arlene Francis)

On June 24, 1953, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier got engaged. (With a stunning jawbreaker of a ring, I might add.) The exact place of the engagement is something that's still being debated -- some say it was by telegram, others say it happened in a booth at one of JFK's favorite restaurants.
The pair married on September 12, 1953. Their first home together was a rental at 3321 Dent Place, in Georgetown. They lived there for less than a year, during which time Jack painted and Jackie made a few attempts at running a household.

In 1955, Jack bought Hickory Hill, an estate in McLean, Virginia. Their time here was also brief -- after the awful stillbirth of her daughter, Jackie did not wish to return to the property. (They leased the property to his brother, Robert, who would later purchase it.)

They moved back to Georgetown. In the video above, you can take a peek into their home, along with a look at Jackie's day-to-day life. The featured house appears to be the property at 2808 P Street, where Jack wrote "Profiles In Courage." 

Their next full-time home, before moving to the White House, would be a Federal mansion at 3307 N. Street NW, also in Georgetown.

With the exception of the White House, you probably know their piece of the Hyannis Port "Kennedy compound." It seemed like the place where the pair looked most at ease. In 1956, Jack bought the classic white clapboard home at 111 Irving Avenue, a stone's throw away from his father. The estate would be his summer home. 

However, in interviews, Jackie described the years living in the White House as the couples' "happiest years."

The Mystery of America's Liberty Bell

by Gene Wheeler 
                                                                                                                    (link to entire story below)

In 1777, England made its second greatest effort of the war. British General Howe left a garrison in New York and took 13,000 troops to capture Philadelphia. Washington rose to defend the capital, but on September 11 was outflanked and although defeated at Brandywine Creek, his army was not destroyed. Washington retreated to Chester, Pa.

Several days later the Americans suffered another defeat at Paoli, Pa. Several hundred Americans were killed under a British bayonet attack. The American Congress fled from Philadelphia to York, Pa., and Howe entered Philadelphia without opposition in late September.

Howe quartered a part of his army at nearby Germantown. On October 4, the Americans attacked this garrison and seemed to have won a victory until the British made a determined stand in the Chew house. British reinforcements came up from Philadelphia while the besieged house still held out, and Washington’s little army retreated. The Americans then took up their miserable winter quarters at Valley Forge.

Fearing the possibility of capture by the enemy, on June 16, 1777, the Assembly of Pennsylvania meeting in the State House at Philadelphia voted to authorize the removal of all bells belonging to several churches and other public buildings and all copper and brass to a place of safety. The Continental Congress, meeting in Independence Hall, on September 14, 1777 (three days after the Battle of Brandywine) resolved that all public bells in Philadelphia be removed to a place of security upon a near approach of the enemy to the city.

The order to remove the bells was passed along to Colonel Benjamin Flower, and his instructions read: “Ordered: that Colonel Flower employ James Worrell, Francis Allison and Mr. Evans, Carpenters, or such other workmen as he may think proper to employ, to take down the Bells of all the public Buildings in this city and convey them to safety.”

They had their work cut out for them. Not only did they have to get the bells down, but also to convey them to safety. Eleven bells in all had to be removed. Most had to be taken from fairly high steeples, loaded aboard wagons, and spirited out of the city, all under the cover of night.

Once they were down, Colonel Flowers had to decide whether or not to move them by Army transport wagons leaving the area with increasing frequency. If they were to be overtaken by the British, they would certainly end up as shot designed for Americans. His reasoning might then have led him to seek out farmers bringing produce into the city from the area where the bells were destined to go, Allentown (then Northampton Town). Traditionally, these Pennsylvania German farmers brought their wares into Philadelphia and returned to their farms north of the city with empty wagons. A few of these wagons, with the bells secreted in them and covered with hay or straw, might be a better device. Should the British pass such a convoy, there would be a slightly lesser chance that they would be searched.

There are two stories recorded about whose wagon was used to haul the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia. One states that the man chosen was one John Jacob Mickley. The exact date of the bells’ departure is unknown, perhaps a tribute to the extent of Flowers’ well-kept secret. Some historians give the date as September 16 or 17 when the bells were taken down.

Whatever the date, Howe marched into Philadelphia on September 27 but did not send a patrol in pursuit of the fleeing wagon train, undoubtedly because he needed all of his men to secure the city and to repulse Washington’s counterattack at Germantown on October 4.

The bells were taken via Bethlehem to Allentown. At some point along the way, the bell wagons joined an Army convoy of some 700 other wagons, and they rattled into Bethlehem.

As the wagon bearing the heavy Great Bell reached the center of town on September 24, the great weight broke the wagon. As the first story goes, the Bell was transferred to a wagon owned and driven by Frederick Loeser, who then carted the Bell on to Allentown.

The Bell’s hiding place until 1778 was in the basement of the Zion High German Reformed Church of Allentown, where it arrived early on the morning of September 25. Other bells were hidden in the same basement, and the church above them served as a military hospital until the British evacuated Philadelphia.
Read The Entire Story By Clicking Here

Friday, June 28, 2013

ORDERING PIZZA IN 2015 (video)

Ordering Pizza in 2015

This is really well done, and may become reality sooner than you think............

Let's Look Inside Your Vagina

This is a really dumb story that is floating around on the news sites.  I guess having some guy mess with your vagina is just too tempting to pass up.

Woman Told To Get A Pap Smear To Get Her Birth Certificate Corrected

Black And White Optical Illusion Dance

Here is an original dance video that uses the costumes well.  Watch it!

Black and White Dance Video...pretty cute!

Nope, there is certainly no irony here...........(yeah right)

The following is excerpted from an article in the Huffington Post that you can read in its entirety by clicking on the link below--

read the entire article here...

It's no surprise the Obama administration, like all administrations, would leak claims that are advantageous. And reporters covering national security and intelligence routinely need to provide anonymity in order to gain a window into the government. But reporters also need to scrutinize claims that officials are only willing to make anonymously about national security, especially at a moment when they clearly bolster the government’s case against the 30-year-old fugitive being tried in the court of public opinion.
In some recent instances, officials have been quoted making what amount to educated guesses about what Chinese and Russian authorities may have done. In others cases, officials have made claims about changing communication patterns while simultaneously declining to provide details on national security grounds. 

Anonymous officials this week have told several news organizations -– often using nearly identical language -- that the NSA leaks had prompted members of terrorist groups to change the way they communicate.

It's possible that officials may be proven correct, and that the leaked NSA documents did fall into the hands of foreign governments. But while Snowden provided details of U.S. spying on China and Hong Kong to the South China Morning Post, there's no evidence he has willingly or unwillingly provided all the documents obtained to the Chinese and Russians.
And yet despite the lack of direct evidence, anonymous government claims have carried significant weight in the media this week, influencing the cable news debate and helping to try Snowden in public, long before any actual trial on charges of espionage takes place.

a cute video from 'down under'


Only vaguely art related (assuming ventriloquism is an art form?) but this will make you laugh so hard that we had to share. Comedian Nina Conti marries a project manager and a bloke from Melbourne. WATCH THE ENTIRE CLIP - GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Nina Conti Live At The Apollo

Kids can be funny in their honesty.  They don't know enough to be politically correct, which is often good.  Here are 9 letters culled by 'Mandatory', which is a cute site.  You can click on each to enlarge it if you want.

for the original story, click this link


This is a fun little video put out by Richard Wisemen.  It's worth watching because one of your friends may try these on you.  But you will be ready!

Bets you can't to view


                             HAVE A FEW, OR A LOT OF EXTRA BUCKS?

Here is the place to go.....

Paul Wilkins is 34 years old and offers rich car collectors a one-of-a-kind service…the ultimate car wash...  For mere $150,000 Paul personally travels to anywhere in the world to polish cars by hand until they are picture perfect. Paul markets his rare service under the name, “The Ultimate Shine” and has only about three customers a year although he is certainly making enough money considering.

Paul begins the cleaning process by decontaminating the body of the car and the wheels. Next, he machine polishes every bit of bodywork taking out any defects, a laborious process that can take up to a month. The dedicated car cleaner says he might have to go over it hundreds of time to make sure to make sure it’s completely clear of any marks. Once that’s done with, he will go over the bodywork with a special alcoholic cleaning agent to ensure there are no oily stains left on the paint. Finally, it’s time for the waxing. The Ultimate Shine owner uses a special Carnauba wax which has been gathered from one of the tallest trees in a secret location in Brazil, priced at £65,000 ($100,000). His company offers different types of this luxury wax for every season, each designed to protect the car against any element.

Click on link below to see more of the process.........

But maybe if you just drove your car to Scotland he would knock a few bucks off the price.




Tuesday, June 25, 2013



this isn't new, but I have always loved it

A US Navy cruiser anchored in Mississippi for a week's shore leave.
The first evening, the ship's Captain received the following note from
the wife of a wealthy plantation owner:

"Dear Captain, Thursday will be my daughter Melinda's Debutante Ball.
I would like you to send four well-mannered, handsome, unmarried
officers in their formal dress uniforms to attend the dance. They
should arrive promptly at 8:00 PM prepared for an evening of polite
Southern conversation. They should be excellent dancers, as they will
be the escorts of lovely refined young ladies. One last point: No Jews

Sending a written message by his own yeoman, the captain replied:
Madam, thank you for your invitation. In order to present the widest
possible knowledge base for polite conversation, I am sending four of
my best and most prized officers.

One is a lieutenant commander, and a graduate of Annapolis with an
additional Masters degree from MIT in fluid technologies and ship
design. The second is a Lieutenant, one of our helicopter pilots, and
a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, with a BS in
Aeronautical Engineering. His Masters Degree and PhD. In Aeronautical
and Mechanical Engineering are from Texas Tech University and he is
also an astronaut candidate.

The third officer is also a lieutenant, with degrees in both computer
systems and information technology from SMU and he is awaiting
notification on his Doctoral Dissertation from Cal Tech. Finally, the
fourth officer, also a lieutenant commander, is our ship?s doctor,
with an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and his
medical degree is from the University of North Carolina. We are very
proud of him, as he is also a senior fellow in Trauma Surgery at

Upon receiving this letter, Melinda's mother was quite excited and
looked forward to Thursday with pleasure. Her daughter would be
escorted by four handsome naval officers without peer (and the other
women in her social circle would be insanely jealous).

At precisely 8:00 PM on Thursday, Melinda's mother heard a polite rap
at the door which she opened to find, in full dress uniform, four
handsome, smiling Black officers. Her mouth fell open, but pulling
herself together, she stammered, "There must be some mistake."

"No, Madam," said the first officer. "Captain Goldberg never makes

Sunday, June 23, 2013

this will get you

Be Forewarned ... Kitties Are Ruff Tuff

From The Chive

Another Cute GIF From The Chive

Impressive To Say The Least

Exodus International

Exodus International, a large Christian ministry that claimed to offer a "cure" for homosexuality, plans to shut down.

In a press release posted on the ministry's website Wednesday night, the board of directors announced the decision to close after nearly four decades.  “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change -- and they want to be heard,” Exodus board member Tony Moore said.

The closure comes less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for years of undue judgment, by the organization and from the Christian Church as a whole.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism. For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical," said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus.

Read More Here:

taken from the HuffPost

However, from what I read on Crysti's Transgender blog the other day, they may be reorganizing to come back in a different form.  I guess we will see what happens

Make Money Selling Drugs--The Movie

The biggest movie of the summer isn't Man of Steel, or The Lone Ranger, or Fast & Furious 6. It's a new documentary called How to Make Money Selling Drugs, which will be released in theaters and on demand on June 26.

Now, when I say "biggest," I'm not talking about budget size or box office receipts -- I'm talking impact and importance. Written and directed by Matthew Cooke, and produced by Bert Marcus and Adrian Grenier, How to Make Money Selling Drugs exposes the hypocrisy, insanity and destructiveness of America's drug war. Of course, the problem with saying a movie is "important" is that it can leave the impression that it isn't entertaining. That's certainly not the case with this film. Indeed, Cooke's goal is, as he put it, borrowing from Malcolm X, to bring about change "by the most entertaining means necessary." Or, as Hamlet said, "The play is the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king." Or, in this case, the conscience of the public, which will in turn hopefully catch the conscience of the king -- aka our leaders.

read the entire story at:

Arianna Huffington's Blog Post

Somebody Wasn't Thinking When The First Was Taken

Miles Ambridges' second-grade class had its group photo retaken last week, after the original class photo showed Ambridge, a student with disabilities, off to the side and isolated from the group. The original photo, which went viral online, elicited the rage of Ambridges’ parents and resonated with viewers around the world.

“I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that [the original picture] was good composition. ... [T]his just boggled the mind,” said mother Anne Belanger, per the Toronto Star. “Being picked on and being set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening."

However, Belanger calls the new photo "gorgeous,” according to the Province.

Seven-year-old Ambridge has a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy, which weakens his muscles and requires him to use a wheelchair. While Ambridge is separated from his class in the original photo (seen below), he clearly wants to be included and can be seen straining his body to be closer to the group. Upon seeing the photo, Ambridges' parents requested that it be retaken.

the original class photo

In Ambridges’ new photo, he is seen in the front row, beaming as he sits next to his classmates and his caregiver. While some have criticized the fact that Ambridge was taken out of his wheelchair for the second photo, his father says he approved the idea, according to the Province. 

the retaken class photo---MUCH BETTER
Original Story In The Huff Post     (click to read)