Sorry Al, Nobody’s Interested

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Al Gore

While hardly anyone in the media was paying attention a study was recently released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago – a large, long-standing and respected non-profit organization.

The results are based on surveys which began in 1993, back in the boom times, and “are the first and only surveys that put long-term attitudes toward environmental issues in general and global climate change in particular in an international perspective,” according to NORC’s Tom W Smith.

The seventeen years of continuous surveys covering countries around the world show that people not only do not care about climate change today – which is understandable in the current world economic and financial difficulties – but it also shows they did not care about climate change even back when times were good.

The NORC spokespersons add that decades of climate alarmism have had basically no effect on people’s attitude around the world!

 Al Gore ice gone lie

The latest surveys were completed in 2010. Similar surveys have been conducted since 1993, and little change has been noted on people’s concern for climate change.

The economy ranked highest in concern in 15 countries, followed by health care in eight, education in six, poverty in two, and terrorism and crime in one country each.

Immigration and the environment did not make the top of the list in any country over the 17-year period; in the United States, the economy ranked as the highest concern, while concern for the environment ranked sixth.

In terms of national averages the surveys showed that the order of concern was the economy (25 percent); health care (22.2); education (15.6); poverty (11.6); crime (8.6); environment (4.7); immigration (4.1); and terrorism (2.6).

 gore2_Brown Cartoon

Essentially, the environment joins terrorism and immigration on the list of subjects nobody has ever been able to really give a toss about, though the compiling professors did note that in Turkey they do consider terrorism serious: the Turks rate it number one, in fact, though nobody else does.

“Terrorism’s low ranking was notable in light of the widespread attention the issue has received since 2001,” comment the NORC analysts, perhaps sounding a knell of doom for Al Gore and his accomplices who believe they can gain support for their agenda through incessant publicity.

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Those interested can view the report at

http://www.norc.org/PDFs/Public_Attitudes_Climate_Change.pdf

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Gandolfo, And Step On It!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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No, this post has nothing to do with The Lord Of The Rings, this is about Papal rings and the fact that the general public are, yet again, being fed a string of lies and deceit by the powers that be.

Don’t you hate it when people lie to you, and you know they are lying to you, and they continue to lie anyway?

Pope Benedict has resigned right enough, that part seems to be true, but not because of ill health or because he is senile or any of the other excuses offered to the public.

In fact since the shock resignation announcement the truth has seldom if ever raise it’s little head.

Until now.

Now we are finding out that Benedict’s resignation really has to do with a frantic power struggle within the Vatican, and about scandals related to money-laundering via the Vatican’s IOR bank, and a gay sex ring among the Cardinals.

Can a younger man do what Benedict couldn’t and sort out the obvious mess that exists? Only time will tell. But it makes for an interesting election and tough time ahead for whoever gets the white smoke.

In the meantime the Holy See it seems is all at sea. 

Castel Gandolfo
Pope Benedict’s retreat, Castel Gandolfo, about 15 miles southest of Rome in the Alban Hills.

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Remember The Good Old Days?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Remember the good old days?

In these difficult times there is a great comfort in looking back and remember how idyllic things were in the past. It is a place where all the summers were warm and sunny and the winters picturesque and pleasant.

At election times political candidates always like to remind us of times past and how good they were, implying that if they are elected they will see that all returns again to the way it was. 

Certainly some things were a lot better in many ways, but there are also a lot of things that were wrong too. 

It’s a subject I will probably return to again, but in the meantime here are a few old advertisements to remind you of how it used to be.

Reminisce and enjoy! 

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A Grave Situation

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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“You should always go to everyone’s funeral,

otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

Yogi Berra

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When I sat down at my laptop this morning I was going to do another selection of obituaries, many of which I find very amusing whether that was the originators’ intention or not.

But then one thought led to another and I remembered little Jimmy, so now this post is about him.

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Little Jimmy lived in the town where I was born. He was small, about five feet tall or possibly 5 foot 1, no more than that. He wasn’t what you would call stupid, but he was definitely a bit odd – a few cents short of a dollar you might say. Clinically I think he probably had a mild case of autism. He was our own little Rain Man, you could say.

When I was a kid Jimmy would have been in his late 50s, but he acted more like a kid than a grown up. And as I grew up Jimmy didn’t. When he was in his 70s he was just the same and acted just the same. He always wore a big pair of leather army boots and a Crombie type overcoat, even in the summer. Both were slightly too big for him. I think someone had probably given them to him.

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To earn himself some cash little Jimmy would do odd jobs and errands for people around the town. He was honest and reliable. And people were generally good enough to him, letting him do things they could easily have done themselves. Sometimes they would get a bit of harmless entertainment out of it too.

I remember one occasion a friend of my Dad’s had a bicycle with a puncture. Rather than wheeling it all the way to the bicycle store, or fixing the puncture himself, he called little Jimmy over.

“Jimmy, I need you to take my bicycle to Joe,” he instructed, Joe being the bike shop owner. ”And tell him,” he went on, “that the puncture is either on the back tire or the handlebars.”

He also handed him a couple of dollars and away little Jimmy went with the bike.

Sure enough we found out later from Joe that little Jimmy had arrived with the bike and duly announced to the shop and its customers that, “You’re to fix Billy Simpson’s bike and he doesn’t know if the puncture is on the back tire or the handlebars.”     

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But apart from his odd jobs, little Jimmy had three real passions in his life, delivering newspapers, collecting lost golf balls and attending funerals.

My Dad used to say that Jimmy was the oldest paperboy in the world and we should write to the Guinness Book of World Records. Of course we never did, but we enjoyed the joke all the same. And we enjoyed watching him collect his newspapers.

The scene never changed.

When the newspaper delivery van arrived at the newsagents the guy would open the back doors of the van and lift a bundle of papers to take into the shop. That was the cue for little Jimmy to make his way into the shop in front of him.

“Let the man through, let the man through,” he would shout with great urgency, at the same time pushing his way to the shop counter and scattering all the real kid newspaper boys out of the way as he did so.

It was chaos. But, as if by magic, this always got little Jimmy to the counter first and meant that he got the first lot of newspapers all to himself. Like I said, you couldn’t really call him stupid, just a little bit odd!

However, these semi-violent outbursts aside, when he wasn’t collecting his papers Jimmy was a gentle soul and everybody liked him. He was a fixture of the town, a real character, the type of people that don’t seem to be around any more, mores’ the pity.

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He made some extra money for himself with his second passion, collecting used golf balls. In fact he had quite a successful business going. As soon as it was daybreak little Jimmy was on the golf course and searching in the rough and long grass for lost balls. Luckily for him the local golfers mustn’t have been much good, except at slicing, because there seemed to always be an endless supply of wayward balls.

Little Jimmy collected thousands of them, cleaned them up and then sold them back to the golfers, all of whom knew Jimmy and were happy to pay him. His price was substantially below new cost so everybody got a good deal.

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However, little Jimmy must have taken Yogi Berra’s advice literally (see opening quote of this post) because his main passion became attending funerals. He went to every funeral in the town, whether he knew the person or not.

Not only that, but he kept a journal and logged the date, the time, possibly the number of people attending and so forth. It was one of those overly excessive obsessive qualities that makes me think now that he was probably autistic.  

For bigger funerals, and although he couldn’t drive and never had a car, he also took it upon himself to direct traffic into and out of the cemetery. And he could be quite cross and demanding with the drivers as he was doing it.   

It was thinking about the obituaries and funerals and such that led me to write this post because it was at the funeral of one of the town’s ‘big-wigs’ that my best and everlasting memory of little Jimmy occurred.

A lot of people had gathered up for this particular funeral. The guy had been a prominent businessman in the town for many years. Everyone knew him and respected him and therefore naturally wanted to pay their final respects by attending his funeral. There were probably also one or two who were there just to be seen to be there. No matter, it was a big turnout.

Eventually the mourners, including me and my Dad, made our way to the cemetery and sure enough little Jimmy was there, directing and organizing the cars. And there were a lot of them, not only because of the number of people but because it was a wet autumn morning.

Everything was wet including the ground around the graveside. Muddy and very slippery too. Luckily we hadn’t far to go, the open grave was just at the edge of the car park.

Little Jimmy was still directing the traffic. The more cars the more frustrated he seemed to become, anxious for the whole thing to start so that he could make the relevant entries in his journal.

“Come on, come on,” we could all hear him shouting impatiently at the drivers, as he waved them left and right and forwards into the few remaining parking spaces.

And then it happened.

As almost the last parking space was being filled, and little Jimmy was hurrying things along as best he could, he was walking backwards signing with his hands at a car in front of him to guide it. His concentration was focused solely on the car in front of him. He had no idea what was behind him and what was behind him was the curb at the edge of the car park. Just beyond that was about two feet of wet muddy grass that marked one end of the open grave around which we were all gathering for the interment.

No, little Jimmy didn’t see the curb behind him. Nor did he realize what it was when he tried to take another step backwards but found he couldn’t.

I watched the whole thing take place, knowing what was going to happen yet thinking somehow that really it wouldn’t. But it did.

Little Jimmy’s momentum backwards knocked him off balance, his feet left him and he sat down rather fast and very hard on to the muddy patch of grass.

If he had left it at that he would have been okay I think, but of course he didn’t. Shocked by what had just happened and trying to get up again as quickly as he could – the way we all try to do as if nothing has happened – he put his hands out behind him to push himself up on to his feet again.

The trouble was there was nothing for his hands to lean against, just the space of the open grave.

I never will forget the look of complete bewilderment on his face as his hands disappeared from view and then, pivoting on his backside, his head and shoulders disappeared too. In part of the same not so graceful movement his legs shot up into the air momentarily and then quickly slid down out of sight into the open grave to join the rest of him. The last that was seen were the big army boots which somehow added to the comedy.  

It was truly one of the funniest things I had ever seen in my life and despite the solemn occasion I found it impossible to hold back the laughter. Thankfully several others were similarly afflicted which helped to take the bad look off me.   

Jimmy was so short that he had no chance of ever getting out of the grave on his own. It would have been near impossible even for a much taller person because of the conditions. And so the fiasco continued.

Concerned citizens realizing what had just happened went to assist little Jimmy. A few of them almost meeting the same fate as their dress shoes were no match for the mud and they slithered dangerously close to the chasm in front of them. There were a few flailing arms and funny dance steps and ‘Ali Shuffles’ as they tried to retain their balance, all of which didn’t help me regain my composure.

Eventually little Jimmy was hauled out of the open grave, a bit wet and dirty  – like a drowned rat, my Dad said later – but apart from a bruised ego, not much the worse for wear.

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The whole debacle didn’t put him off. The next funeral little Jimmy was back with his book making notes. He didn’t have the same enthusiasm for traffic duty though.

Not too many years after that little Jimmy attended his last funeral – his own. No body bothered to log it into a journal, but for an ordinary little guy a surprising number of people made the effort to be there. And some of them, like me, had smiles on their faces. 

Maybe Yogi Berra was on to something after all!

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Safe And Secure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Safe and secure is the wish of all of us and we pay other people to make sure that we are. In fact in today’s world hundreds of thousands of people are employed one way or another in the security business.

Looking at the macro-side of it, despite the fact that we all hate being treated as suspects when we go to the airport, most of the time the security people seem to get it right. After all, although many have been planned, there have been very few successful terrorist attacks since the infamous 9-11 in New York City and The Pentagon.

 Security-check

Nevertheless we have to be vigilant and cautious no matter where we are in the world. This is particularly so for American citizens and government employees, who are potential targets overseas.

Even in the most unlikely of places.

On July 31, last year, for example, Norwegian Police blocked off the area around Oslo’s royal palace following the discovery of a suspicious object beneath a nearby automobile outside the U.S. embassy.

The embassy was evacuated.

So was Norway’s royal palace and part of downtown Oslo.

Authorities even temporarily suspended subway service.

An international children’s soccer game was canceled at nearby Voldslokka Stadium so that the field could be used to land helicopters close to the embassy.

The Oslo bomb squad, emergency services and other agencies responded to the bomb alert. They examined the ‘device’ but were quickly able to determine that it was in fact a fake, much to the relief of everyone.

However, the incident then raised further questions.

Who had been responsible?

How had the perpetrators managed to breech Embassy security and plant the device, even a fake one?

It wasn’t too long before an “Oh, oh…” was heard.

Keen to make sure everyone was alert to the possibility of an attack, security staff at the U.S. embassy in Oslo had carried out a safety drill earlier in the week. That safety drill had included placing fake bombs on vehicles to rehearse their emergency-response operations.  

However, they forgot about one of the ‘bombs’ and a few days later the practice bomb was spotted on an embassy vehicle as it tried to enter the embassy grounds just after 11 a.m. The eagle-eyed security guards on duty leaped into action and the bomb alert was declared.

Of course the officials concerned apologized for their mistake in leaving the fake bomb, regretting any disruption caused by this incident, and essentially calling a bomb scare on themselves.

Safe and secure? Maybe, but from whom?

Who is going to protect us from the idiots?  

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Forget That The Criminals Are The Problem – Let’s Attack The Decent Law-Abiding People

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Time for a bit of a rant today.

First one this year, I don’t know how I held out for so long.

Since the horrible massacre of schoolchildren and their teachers by a mentally deranged moron in Connecticut the real debate has again been sidelined into the convenient ‘to-ban-or-not-to-ban’ guns.

I can’t make up my mind as to what proportion of the gun-banning side of this so-called debate are idiots repeating what other idiots have said, how many are malicious, or how many are people trying to grab a handy headline or two.

The first lot can be easily compared with a flock of sheep. Sheep aren’t noted for their intellectual prowess, nor their debating skills, but when one sheep goes “baaa” you can be sure a lot more will say the same thing.

The second lot, the malicious ones, are deliberately rather than unintentionally refocusing the debate on to their liberal/fascist agenda of increasing bureaucratic interference wherever they see an opening.

And the third group are people, usually politicians or those with a political agenda, using the misery of other people to publicize themselves and their cause, but primarily themselves. Never one to let a band wagon roll past him, President Obama has jumped on this one, all guns blazing as it were!

For all these groups the ‘to-ban-or-not-to-ban’ guns debate is a handy, and a welcome, distraction.

It gives the first group something to say without stopping to analyze the real problem in detail. It gives the second group more ammunition (no pun intended today) to curtail freedom. As for the later group, the politicians love this distraction because it gives the impression that they are compassionate and caring and trying to find a solution, even though they are addressing the wrong problem.

.yes we can - no we can't 

On the face of it, Obama’s proposals can be dressed up as reasonable. If you haven’t seen them on the media (how could you avoid it?) they include:  

  • asking Congress to reinstate and strengthen a ban on the sale and production of assault weapons that passed in 1994 and expired in 2004;
  • a ban on the sale and production of magazines with more than 10 rounds, like those used in Newtown and other mass shootings;
  • criminal background checks for all gun sales, closing the longstanding loophole that allows buyers to avoid screening by purchasing weapons from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or in private sales;
  • banning the possession or transfer of armor-piercing bullets;
  • and cracking down on “straw purchasers,” i.e., those who pass background checks and then forward guns to criminals or others forbidden from purchasing them.

As I said, on the face of it reasonable, but I suspect this is just the first salvo of a much more comprehensive agenda.

However, the question of the moment is simply this  –  would a gun ban, whether partial or comprehensive, work?

And the answer is categorically, NO!

Gun Violence Plan Placibo

And the answer is ‘NO’, not because I am a champion of the 2nd Amendment – I’m not, it doesn’t even apply to me! The answer is ‘NO’ because taking guns away from law abiding people won’t stop the criminals or those with criminal intent.

It doesn’t take a genius to work that out, but no one in the gun-ban lobby is even asking that fundamental question. Nor do they want it to be asked!  

You see this is how gun bans work. I’ve seen them in operation in numerous countries.

If gun ownership is banned, law-abiding Joe Public won’t be able to go to Walmart and buy a gun as before. And he won’t be able to buy his gun because all that gun-banning legislation does is to make sure that no law-abiding citizen can buy and hold a legal firearm.

Joe Public is buying his gun (99.99 percent of the time) because he uses it for sporting purposes, or because he is a collector, or because he feels he needs it for his protection and the protection of his family.

The criminals, on the other hand, who don’t shop at Walmart, but are more likely to deal out of the trunk of a car in some isolated spot well away from prying eyes, will still be able to buy their guns and use them how they please.

Why?

Because they buy illegal guns from illegal dealers. And illegal guns from illegal dealers are not part of these new proposals. As a matter of fact the illegal guns are already banned which in itself proves that banning does not work! 

So what has to be the inevitable result of a ban on legally held weapons?

Simply this. When you ban law-abiding decent citizens from buying or owning guns all you can possibly end up with are armed criminals versus unarmed civilians, with the police (who would have been used by the politicians and bureaucrats to subjugate the law-abiding population and remove their protection) now being the only form of defense and they will be grossly inadequate in numbers to ever hope to do so effectively.

As another example of just how far up their own asses some people can stick their heads and still think they are getting a tan, an idiot reporter named Dwight R Worley of the New York Journal News recently published the names and addresses, complete with an interactive map, of people in Westchester and Rockland Counties who owned legally held firearms.

Like all such journalistic crap it was parceled up in ‘caring for the community’ and ‘public interest’ wrappers, but all this article did was to point an accusing finger at law abiding citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Well, when I say “all it achieved” that’s not quite accurate, because it also gave the thieves, the home invaders, the rapists, the thugs, etc., a map of the homes that were protected BUT equally the homes that were not.  

Thanks to dickhead Dwight R Worley (who incidently owns a .357 Magnum himself adding the crime of hypocrisy to his stupidity), Mr. Thief and Mr. Mayhem now know which houses in Westchester and Rockland Counties they can attack with impunity and those that they should stay clear of.

As it turns out, the people who should be most upset by this article are the ones who don’t have a gun, not those who do!

Zip this forward to a gun-ban country where all the law abiding people are defenseless targets for the criminals and there can only be one result. Not just an increase in violent crime but also a vast increase in petty crime. The detection rate for the latter is already minuscule, so think for a moment what it will be like when the criminals have little fear of their victims and even less fear of being caught.

The truth is that legally held guns probably save many, many more lives than they harm, and in most cases they do so without ever being used. But there aren’t any statistics for that.

The truth is that banning legal weapons will not stop illegal gangland shootings, which constitute the vast majority of deaths by gunfire in the United States.

The truth is that banning legal weapons won’t decrease the number of illegal weapons in circulation.

And the truth is that banning legally held weapons won’t stop morons or mentally deranged individuals from going on a murder spree – a knife, a bow or a can of gasoline will get the same job done.

The saddest thing of all is that the people and politicians who are calling for these bans know it. It would be nice to see them show a bit of backbone and integrity for once and attack the criminals and leave the law-abiding people alone. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. 

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The Mayans Were Just Ten Days Out – 2012, The End

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes folks we all gave the Mayans some stick when their prediction didn’t come true (including me, click here if you missed it) but they were just ten days out, not too bad in a few thousand years!

Today IS the end. The end of 2012. It has been a difficult and frustrating year business-wise because of the continued mess created by the stupid and greedy banksters, so I for one won’t be sorry to see the end of it.

However that gripe aside, it is the last day of 2012 so I thought we should do something a little different today.

So, before we start to look forward to a new, and hopefully better, year, here is a selective look back at some of the events of this year.

There are a couple of ways you could do a post like this. You could link to other sites, particularly newspaper sites because they all seem to do lists of one kind or another at the close of the year. The other way is to compile a more personal one, with the things you remember personally. Both are equally valid, but this being a blog I’ve chosen to go the more personal route and compile a list of the things I remember so, although it is quite long, it is selective and by no means covers everything that happened in 2012. 

I have also included a list of some of the personalities that passed during 2012, you probably heard about them all at the time, but memories being what they are I am sure one or two of them will come as a surprise.

So let’s get started.

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Spectacles 

  • I don’t know whether to class this as the biggest event or the biggest non event of the year, but November 2012 saw the Presidential election campaign and the successful return of President Obama to the Oval Office. Look forward to increasing taxes in 2013!
  • Although on the face of it a national event, because of the power and influence of America, the US Presidential Election has now become an International spectacle watched by several billion people worldwide. What they made of it all I don’t know, but they watched it anyway.

.presidential campaign cartoon 

  • The other big international spectacle of the 2012 that drew large viewing audiences were the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in London in July, August and September. Approximately 10,500 athletes participated in 302 events in 26 sports.
  • In the Olympics the top six gold medal places went to USA (46), China (38), Great Britain (29), Russia (24), and South Korea (13), with Germany and France tying for sixth place with 11 gold medals each. The overall medal table was slightly different, USA (104), China (88), Russia (82), Great Britain (65), Germany (44), and Japan (38).
  • In the Paralympics the top six gold medal places went to China (95), Russia (36), Great Britain (34), Ukraine (32), Australia (32), and USA (31). In the overall medal results the order was China (231), Great Britain (120), Russia (102), USA (98), Australia (85), and Ukraine (84).

London Olympics 2012.

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Weather

  • The weather, at its extremes, was another major talking point of 2012. Starting with the last and worst, ‘Super Storm Sandy’ took most of the headlines and did the most damage, particularly to north east coast areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The cost is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

Sandy Yellow Cabs

  • Almost forgotten because of the ferocity of Sandy was Hurricane Isaac that slowly lumbered ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River on August 28 as a Category 1 Hurricane with 80 mph winds. Isaac’s large size and slow motion caused a storm surge of up to eleven feet, more characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane. Thankfully, however, New Orleans’ new $14.5 billion levee upgrade held against Isaac’s surge, although further up the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, it did cause major flooding of homes. In total Isaac still managed to do about $2 billion worth of damage.

Hurricane-Isaac

  • Early March also saw a massive and violent tornado outbreak on an exceptional scale and including two deadly EF-4 tornadoes. In all, seventy tornadoes touched down in eleven states, from southern Ohio to southern Georgia, killing 41 people, with Kentucky and Southern Indiana being hardest hit and suffering 22 and 13 dead, respectively. At one point, 31 separate tornado warnings were in effect during the outbreak covering an area of more than 80,000 square miles. Tornado watches were posted for mpre than 300,000 square miles, an area larger than Texas. Total damage was estimated at $4 billion.

Tornado

  • Also on June 29 a violent line of severe thunderstorms called a derecho swept across the U.S. from Illinois to Virginia, damaging houses, toppling trees, and bringing down power lines. Twenty-two people were killed, and power cuts affected at least 3.4 million people. The derecho was unusually intense due to extreme heat that set all-time records at ten major cities on its south side, helping to create an unstable atmosphere with plenty of energy to fuel severe thunderstorms. At least 38 thunderstorms in the derecho generated wind gusts in excess of hurricane force, making it one of the most severe derechoes on record. Total damage was estimated at $3.75 billion.

derecho storm blackout June 201200 

  • Contrarily, 2012 was the warmest year on record, with July being the warmest month of any month in the 1,400+ months of the U.S. data record, going back to 1895. The spring temperature departure from average was also the largest on record for any season, and March temperatures had the second largest warm departure from average of any month in U.S. history. All-time hottest temperature records were set over approximately 7% of the area of the contiguous U.S., according to a database of 298 major U.S. cities maintained by wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.
  • This, despite all this rainfall and flooding caused by the severe storms, also saw a ‘Great Drought’ in 2012, the full consequences of which we have not yet seen and which may well prove to be the biggest weather story of the year. The area of the contiguous U.S. in moderate or greater drought peaked at 61.8% in July–the largest such area since the Dust Bowl drought of December 1939. The heat and dryness resulted in record or near-record evaporation rates, causing major impact on corn, soybean and wheat belts in addition to livestock production. Drought upstream of the Lower Mississippi River caused record and near-record low stream flows along the river in Mississippi and Louisiana, resulting in limited river transportation and commerce. Crop damages alone from the great drought are estimated at $35 billion. As the total scope of losses is realized across all lines of business in coming moths, this number will climb significantly.

US drought monitor

  • Add to this 2012 as the 3rd worst wildfire year in U.S. history, with 9.2 million acres burned–an area larger than the state of Maryland.

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Scandal

On a completely different subject 2012 will also be remembered as the year of the high profile celebrity paedophiles.

  • Penn State University’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. The scandal sparked a national debate over child sex abuse, embarrassed the university and implicated a number of its top officials including legendary football head coach, the late Joe Paterno.
  • In Britain there was a major, and still ongoing, scandal within the BBC because of the actions and subsequent cover-up of the actions of paedophile disc jockey Jimmy Savile (now deceased). This has already led to the resignations of several high-ranking BBC employees, including its Director General.
  • The Roman Catholic Church also continued to suffer from the fallout from decades of child abuse and cover-ups by its priests and hierarchy.

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Technology

In the Techie World 2012 saw a number of milestone events.

  • There was the introduction of  the all new WIndows 8 operating system by Microsoft.
  • Then there was the continuation of the big bust up between Apple and Samsung which in its second year seemed even stronger than ever.
  • The thought police closed down Megaupload and stopped Americans using Intrade.
  • Members of Congress also sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and related bills to make it easier to shut down websites that illegally share music, movies and other content. But opponents (which included just about everybody who used the internet) argued it went too far and could end up shutting down legitimate sites while stifling free expression in the process. Unfortunately for backers of SOPA, Web heavyweights such as Google, Facebook, Reddit and Wikipedia joined the fight against the bill. Sites went black on January 18 to raise awareness. Members of communities such as Reddit put intense pressure on lawmakers (including soon-to-be GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan) until they dropped their support or went on record opposing the bill. The unprecedented backlash eventually caused supporters to shelve SOPA, and quite possibly ushered in a new age of Web activism.
  • Facebook flopped producing one of the longest alliterated titles in the blogsphere during 2012 (Furious Flabbergasted Facebook Fools Face Frightening Falls From Fanciful Flagging Financial Flotation Farce ).
  • Meanwhile Twitter went from strength to strength with even the President of the United States and the Pope tweeting their little hearts out.
  • Speaking of flops, Carol Bartz flopped at Yahoo and was sacked being replaced by Scott Thompson. Yahoo continues to be troubled since its idiotic refusal of a $40 billion plus offer from Microsoft.
  • Google got itself some tablets and started to take on greedy Apple in the iPad market selling its Android versions for substantially less.
  • Along with the rollout of the much anticipated iPhone 5 in September, Apple overhauled iOS, the operating system that runs the phone, its iPad and other mobile devices. A much-hyped feature of the change was Apple’s first effort at its own mapping app – after dumping rival Google’s map software. The result was so bad that a few days later Apple’s CEO was essentially telling customers to use Google Maps.

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Departures

2012 also the passing of many well known personalities and celebrities. For example,

 

In space

Neil Armstrong

  • Neil Armstrong, aged 82 (8/5/1930 to 8/25/2012), astronaut who flew on the Gemini 8 mission (as commander) in 1966 and the Apollo 11 mission (as commander) in 1969, becoming the first of twelve men to walk on the moon.

Sally Ride

  • Sally Ride, aged 61 (5/26/1951 to 7/23/2012), astronaut and the first American woman in space, who flew on Shuttle flights STS-7 (1983) and STS 41-G (1984).

Sir Patrick Moore

  • Patrick Moore, aged 89 (3/4/1923 to 12/9/2012), British astronomer, writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter. Moore was a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, the BBC’s The Sky at Night. He was also a self-taught xylophone, glockenspiel player and pianist, as well as an accomplished composer. He was a former amateur cricketer, golfer and chess player. In addition to many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore served in the Royal Air Force during World War II; his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war and he never married.

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In politics

Chuck Colson

  • Chuck Colson, aged 80 (10/16/1931 to 4/21/2012), White House counsel under Nixon (1969-72), and imprisoned for obstruction of justice in Watergate scandal (1973). While in prison he underwent Christian conversion and founded Prison Fellowship Ministries.

robert-bork

  • Robert Bork, aged 85 (3/1/1927 to 12/19/2012, U.S. solicitor general under Nixon. As acting Attorney General, he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox on Nixon’s orders, after Elliot Richardson and then William Ruckelshaus refused and resigned. He was subsequently Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1982-88) and Nominated to the Supreme Court by Reagan in 1987 and rejected by the Senate.

Daniel Inouye

  • Daniel Inouye, aged 88 (9/7/1924 to 12/17/2012), U.S. Representative (D-HI, 1959-63), U.S. Senator (D-HI, 1963-2012).

William Rees Mogg

  • William Rees-Mogg, Baron Rees-Mogg, aged 84 (14 July 1928 – 29 December 2012), British journalist and life peer, Editor of The Times (1967–1981).  

George McGovern

  • George McGovern, aged 90 (7/19/1922 to 10/21/2012), U.S. Rep., D-SD (1957-61); U.S. Senator, D-SD (1963-81); Democratic presidential nominee (1972).

Arlen Specter

  • Arlen Specter, aged 82 (2/12/1930 to 10/14/2012), U.S. Senator (R-PA, 1981-2009; D-PA, 2009-11). Specter was a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and co-author of the ‘magic bullet’ theory that Kennedy and Gov. John Connally were shot by the same single bullet.

Norman Schwarzkopf

  • Norman Schwarzkopf, aged 78 (8/22/1934 to 12/27/2012), U.S. Army general. Commanded the U.S. and allied forces in the Persian Gulf War (1991).

Yitzhak Shamir

  • Yitzhak Shamir, aged 96 (10/15/1915 to 6/30/2012), Israeli prime minister (Likud party, 1983-84, 1986-92).

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In TV & movies

Gerry Anderson

  • Gerry Anderson, aged 83 (14 April 1929 – 26 December 2012) publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for futuristic television programs, using ‘supermarionation’, working with modified marionettes, such as Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He was also responsible for the real-life sci-fi tv series Space 1999.

Ernest Borgnine

  • Ernest Borgnine, aged 95 (1/24/1917 to 7/8/2012), actor, From Here to Eternity (1953), “McHale’s Navy” (Lt. Quinton McHale, 1962-66), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Code Name: Wild Geese (1984). Won an Academy award for Marty (Best actor, 1956). Husband of singer Ethel Merman for 32 days in 1964.

Phyllis Diller

  • Phyllis Diller, aged 95 (7/17/1917 to 8/20/2012), comedienne/actress who appeared frequently on talk shows, game shows, and variety shows in the 1960s and 70s.

Charles Durning

  • Charles Durning, aged 89 (2/28/1923 to 12/24/2012), actor, The Sting (1973), The Muppet Movie (1979), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), “Evening Shade” (Dr. Harlan Eldridge, 1990-94).

Larry Hagman

  • Larry Hagman, aged 81 (9/21/1931 to 11/23/2012), actor, “I Dream of Jeannie” (Maj. Anthony Nelson, 1965-70), “Dallas” (J.R. Ewing, 1978-91) and reprised the role of J.R. Ewing in the 2012 tv series “Dallas”. Son of actress Mary Martin.

Jack Klugman

  • Jack Klugman, aged 90 (4/27/1922 to 12/24/2012), actor, 12 Angry Men (1957), “The Odd Couple” (Oscar Madison, 1970-75), “Quincy, M.E.” (Dr. R. Quincy, 1976-83). Husband of actress/game show panelist Brett Somers (1953-74). Won two Emmy Awards for “The Odd Couple” (1971, 1973).

Sylvia Kristel

  • Sylvia Kristel, aged 60 (9/28/1952 to 10/17/2012), actress, the controversial Emmanuelle (1974) and three sequels (1975-84), Private Lessons (1981).

Herbert Lom

  • Herbert Lom, aged 95 (1/9/1917 to 9/27/2012), most famous for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Dreyfus in The Return of the Pink Panther (1974) and five more films in the “Pink Panther” series from 1976 to 1993.

William Asher

  • William Asher, aged 90 (8/8/1921 to 7/16/2012), was a TV and film director whose work included “I Love Lucy” (1952-57), Beach Party (1963), “Bewitched” (1964-72), “Alice” (1977-79). Husband of actress Elizabeth Montgomery (1963-73).

Turhan Bey

  • Turhan Bey, aged 90 (3/30/1922 to 9/30/2012), actor who starred in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), The Amazing Mr. X (1948).

Peter Breck

  • Peter Breck, aged 82 (3/13/1929 to 2/6/2012), actor,  “Maverick” (Doc Holliday, 1960-62), “The Big Valley” (Nick Barkley, 1965-69).

Frank Cady

  • Frank Cady, aged 96 (9/8/1915 to 6/9/2012), actor,  “Petticoat Junction” (1963-70), “Green Acres” (Sam Drucker, 1965-71).

Harry Carey Jr.

  • Harry Carey, Jr., aged 91 (May 16, 1921 – December 27, 2012), actor, appeared in over 90 movies including Gremplins and Tombstone and several John Ford Westerns such as The Searchers, as well as numerous television series.

Dick Clark

  • Dick Clark, aged 82 (11/30/1929 to 4/18/2012), a TV host on shows “American Bandstand” (1957-87), “The $10,000 Pyramid” (1973-88), “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes” (1984-88), “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (1972-2012). He was also the producer of a variety of TV game shows, talk shows, entertainment shows, and movies.

Gary Collins

  • Gary Collins, aged 74 (4/30/1938 to 10/13/2012), actor, Iron Horse (Dave Tarrant, 1966-68), “The Sixth Sense” (Dr. Michael Rhodes, 1972). TV host for “Hour Magazine” (1980-88), Miss America Pageant (1982-90). Husband of Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley (1967-2012).

Don Cornelius

  • Don Cornelius, aged 75 (9/27/1936 to 2/1/2012), host (1971-2007) and producer (1971-88) of “Soul Train”. Producer of the “Soul Train Music Awards” (1987-2007).

Richard Dawson

  • Richard Dawson, aged 79 (11/20/1932 to 6/2/2012), actor and game show host, starred in “Hogan’s Heroes” (Cpl. Peter Newkirk, 1965-71), “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” (regular performer, 1971-73), “Match Game” (panelist, 1973-79), “Family Feud” (host, 1975-88, 94-95), The Running Man (1987).

Michael Clarke Duncan

  • Michael Clarke Duncan, aged 54 (12/10/1957 to 9/3/2012), actor, Armageddon (1998), The Green Mile (1999).

Nora Ephron

  • Nora Ephron, aged 71 (5/19/1941 to 6/26/2012), filmmaker responsible for Silkwood (writer, 1983), When Hary Met Sally (writer, 1989), Sleepless in Seattle (writer, director, 1993), You’ve Got Mail (writer, director, producer, 1998), Julie & Julia (writer, director, producer, 2009).

Chad Everett

  • Chad Everett, aged 76 (6/11/1936 to 7/24/2012), actor, “Medical Center” (Dr. Joe Gannon, 1969-76), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).

Jonathan Frid

  • Jonathan Frid, aged 87 (12/2/1924 to 4/13/2012), actor, “Dark Shadows” (Barnabas Collins, 1967-71).

Don Grady

  • Don Grady, aged 68 (6/8/1944 to 6/27/2012), cast member, “The Mickey Mouse Club” (1957-58). Actor, “My Three Sons” (Robbie Douglas, 1960-71).

The Andy Griffith Show

  • Andy Griffith, aged 86 (6/1/1926 to 7/3/2012), cast member, “The Mickey Mouse Club” (1957-58). Gained prominence in the starring role in A Face in the Crowd (1957) before becoming better known for his television roles, playing the lead characters in the 1960–1968 situation comedy The Andy Griffith Show and in the 1986–1995 legal drama Matlock.

Robert Hegyes

  • Robert Hegyes, aged 60 (5/7/1951 to 1/26/2012), actor, “Welcome Back, Kotter” (Juan Epstein, 1975-79).

Sherman Hemsley

  • Sherman Hemsley, aged 74 (2/1/1938 to 7/24/2012), actor, “All in the Family” (George Jefferson, 1973-75), “The Jeffersons” (George Jefferson, 1975-85), “Amen” (Deacon Ernest Frye, 1986-91).

Celeste Holm

  • Celeste Holm, aged 95 (4/29/1917 to 7/15/2012), actress, All About Eve (1950). Won an Academy award for Gentleman’s Agreement (Best supporting actress, 1948).

George_Lindsey

  • George Lindsey, aged 83 (12/17/1928 to 5/6/2012), actor, “The Andy Griffith Show” (Goober Pyle, 1965-68), “Mayberry R.F.D.” (Goober Pyle, 1968-71), “Hee Haw” (Goober, 1972-92).

Ron Palillo

  • Ron Palillo, aged 63 (4/2/1949 to 8/14/2012), actor, “Welcome Back, Kotter” (Arnold Horshack, 1975-79).

victor spinetti

  • Victor Spinetti, aged 82 (9/2/1929 to 6/18/2012), actor, The Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Help! (1965), “Magical Mystery Tour” (1967).

mike_wallace

  • Mike Wallace, aged 93 (5/9/1918 to 4/7/2012), TV news correspondent famous for his adversarial style. Programs include “Mike Wallace Interview (1957-60)”, “60 Minutes” (1968-2006).

Richard D. Zanuck

  • Richard D. Zanuck, aged 77 (12/13/1934 to 7/13/2012), film producer for movies like Jaws (1975), Neighbors (1981), Cocoon (1985), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Deep Impact (1998), Planet of the Apes (2001). Son of producer Darryl F. Zanuck.

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In Music

Robin Gibb

  • Robin Gibb, aged 62 (12/22/1949 to 5/20/2012), member of the Bee Gees with older brother Barry and twin brother Maurice (1958-69, 1970-2003). Hits include “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1970), “Jive Talkin'” (1975), “Stayin’ Alive” (1977), and “Too Much Heaven” (1979). Older brother of Andy Gibb.

Marvin Hamlisch

  • Marvin Hamlisch, aged 68 (6/2/1944 to 8/6/2012), songwriter. Hits include “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” (1965), “The Way We Were” (1973), “The Entertainer” (1974), “What I Did For Love” (1975), and “Nobody Does It Better” (1977).

whitney-houston

  • Whitney Houston, aged 48 (8/9/1963 to 2/11/2012), pop singer. Hits include “Saving All My Love for You” (1985), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (1987), and “I Will Always Love You” (1992). Wife of singer Bobby Brown (1992-2007). Cousin of singer Dionne Warwick.

Andy Williams

  • Andy Williams, aged 84 (12/3/1927 to 9/25/2012), TV host, “The Andy Williams Show” (1962-71) and singer, “Butterfly” (1957), “Moon River” (1962), “Love Story (Where Do I Begin)” (1971).

Donna Summer

  • Donna Summer, aged 63 (12/31/1948 to 5/17/2012), pop/disco singer. Hits include “Love to Love You Baby” (1975), “Last Dance” (1978) “Bad Girls” (1979), and “She Works Hard for the Money” (1983).

Ravi Shankar

  • Ravi Shankar, aged 92 (4/7/1920 to 12/11/2012), sitar player. Mentored rock musician George Harrison (1966), played in the Concert for Bangladesh (1971). Father of jazz musician Norah Jones (1979).

dave-brubeck

  • Dave Brubeck, aged 91 (12/6/1920 to 12/5/2012), jazz pianist. Hits include “Take Five” (1959).

Hal David

  • Hal David, aged 91 (5/25/1921 to 9/1/2012), lyricist and  songwriting partner of Burt Bacharach (1957-1972). Hits include “Walk on By”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “What’s New Pussycat?”, “The Look of Love”, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, “Close to You”, and “One Less Bell to Answer”. Inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Levon Helm

  • Levon Helm, aged 71 (5/26/1940 to 4/19/2012), rock vocalist and drummer, member of The Band (1968-1976, 1983-1999). Sang lead on “The Weight” (1968), “Up on Cripple Creek” (1969), and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (1969).

Etta James

  • Etta James, aged 73 (1/25/1938 to 1/20/2012), blues singer. Hits include “The Wallflower” (1955), “At Last” (1961), “I Just Want to Make Love to You” (1996). Won four Grammy awards (1994-2004). Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1993).

Davy Jones

  • Davy Jones, aged 66 (12/30/1945 to 2/29/2012), actor/singer, “The Monkees” (1966-68). Sang lead on “Daydream Believer” (1967).

Tony Martin

  • Tony Martin, aged 98 (12/25/1913 to 7/27/2012), singer. Hits include “There’s No Tomorrow” (1949), “I Get Ideas” (1951), “Walk Hand In Hand” (1956). Actor; Casbah (1948), Here Come the Girls (1953), Hit the Deck (1955). Husband of actress Cyd Charisse (1948-2008).

Earl Scruggs

  • Earl Scruggs, aged 88 (1/6/1924 to 3/28/2012), bluegrass banjo player, teamed with Lester Flatt (1948-69). Hits include “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” (1963).

Kitty Wells

  • Kitty Wells, aged 92 (8/30/1919 to 7/16/2012), country singer. Hits include “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (1952), “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1958), “Heartbreak U.S.A.” (1961). Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1974). Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991). Wife of country singer Johnnie Wright (1937-2011).

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In Sport

Gary Carter catcher

  • Gary Carter, aged 57 (4/5/1954 to 2/16/2012), catcher for Montreal Expos (1974-84, 1992), New York Mets (1985-89), and two other teams (1990-91). 11-time All-Star (1975, 1979-88) and 3-time Gold Glove Award winner (1980-82). Inducted into the Hall of Fame (2003).

Lee MacPhail

  • Lee MacPhail, aged 95 (10/25/1917 to 11/8/2012), major-league baseball executive, general manager of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, American League President (1974-83) and President of the Players Relations Committee. Elected to the MLB Hall of Fame (1998). Son of baseball executive Larry MacPhail and father of baseball executive Andy MacPhail (1953).

Marvin Miller

  • Marvin Miller, aged 95 (4/14/1917 to 11/27/2012), executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1966-82), negotiated collective bargaining, arbitration, and free agency with the baseball owners.

Art Modell

  • Art Modell, aged87 (6/23/1925 to 9/6/2012), owner of the NFL Cleveland Browns (1961-95) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-2004). President of the National Football League (1967-69). Was the principal force in having NFL games televised on Monday nights (1970).

joe-paterno

  • Joe Paterno, aged 85 (12/21/1926 to 1/22/2012), college football coach (Penn State 1966-2011). Won 24 bowl games and 3 Big Ten championships. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (2006). Fired for not doing more about allegations of child molestation taking place in his facilities.

Darrell Royal

  • Darrell Royal, aged 88 (7/9/1924 to 11/7/2012), college football head coach for Mississippi State University (1954-55), University of Washington (1956), and University of Texas (1957-76). Won three national championships (1963, 1969, 1970). Had 23 consecutive winning seasons.

Alex Karras

  • Alex Karras, aged 77 (7/15/1935 to 10/10/2012), NFL football player; Detroit Lions (tackle, 1958-71). Actor, Blazing Saddles (1974), “Webster” (George Papadapolis, 1983-89).

Junior Seau

  • Junior Seau, aged 43 (1/19/1969 to 5/2/2012), NFL linebacker for San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-05), and New England Patriots (2006-09). Was on the Pro Bowl team 12 consecutive years (1991-2002).

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In Publishing & Books

Ray Bradbury

  • Ray Bradbury, aged 91 (8/22/1920 to 6/5/2012), science fiction writer whose works include The Martian Chronicles (1950), and Farenheit 451 (1953).

Andrew Breitbart

  • Andrew Breitbart, aged 43 (2/1/1969 to 3/1/2012), web publisher, editor for The Drudge Report, and founder of Brietbart.com and BigGovernment.com (2009). Facilitated an undercover video purporting to expose fraud in ACORN (2009).

Helen Gurley Brown

  • Helen Gurley Brown, aged 90 (2/18/1922 to 8/13/2012), author of Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor of Cosmopolitan (1965-1997).

Jim Unger

  • Jim Unger, aged 75 (1/21/1937 to 5/29/2012), cartoonist of “Herman” (1974-92).

Gore Vidal

  • Gore Vidal, aged 86 (10/3/1925 to 7/31/2012), novelist whose works include Myra Breckinridge (1968) and Lincoln (1984).

Maurice Sendak

  • Maurice Sendak, aged 83 (6/10/1928 to 5/8/2012), children’s writer whose works include Little Bear (1957) and Where the Wild Things Are (1963).

James Q. Wilson

  • James Q. Wilson, aged 80 (5/27/1931 to 3/2/2012), sociologist/criminologist professor at Harvard (1961-87). Rejected prevailing theories that most/all criminal behavior is the product of societal factors. Wrote Varieties of Police Behavior (1968) and Thinking About Crime (1975).

Zig Ziglar

  • Zig Ziglar, aged 86 (11/6/1926 to 11/28/2012), motivational speaker and author (See You at the Top, 1975).

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Miscellaneous

Henry Hill

  • Henry Hill, aged 69 (6/11/1943 to 6/12/2012), organized crime figure with the Luchesse crime family of New York, participated in a hesit of Lufthansa Air (1978), became an FBI informant, expelled from the U.S. Witness Protection Program (1982). Subject of the film Goodfellas (1990).

Sun Myung Moon

  • Sun Myung Moon, aged 92 (2/25/1920 to 9/2/2012), founder of the Unification Church (1954), also known as “Moonies”. Convicted of willfully filing false US income tax returns (1982); imprisoned for 13 months (1984-85).

Vidal-Sassoon

  • Vidal Sassoon, aged 84 (1/17/1928 to 5/9/2012), hairdresser to the rich and famous.

Rodney King

  • Rodney King, aged 47 (4/2/1965 to 6/17/2012), victim of a videotaped beating involving seven Los Angeles police officers on 3 March 1991 that made him a symbol of police brutality and led to racially charged riots in Los Angeles. Four officers were tried; three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict on the fourth. Their acquittals on 29 April 1992 prompted a riot in which 54 people died. Two officers were subsequently found guilty of civil rights violations in federal court, and King was paid $3.8 million by the city of Los Angeles.

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Manmade Tragedies

2012 also had its share of manmade tragedies.  

  • In Aurora, Colorado a crazed gunman opened fire on an unsuspecting audience during a midnight screening of the Batman new movie “The Dark Knight Rises”, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. The killer was former neuroscience graduate student James Holmes.
  • In Benghazi , Libya Islamic militants stormed the U.S. mission on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The attack was the first to kill a U.S. ambassador in the line of duty since 1979 and sparked severe criticism of the Obama administration. An official inquiry found widespread failures in both security planning and internal management.
  • In a Wisconsin Sikh temple a gunman killed six people and critically wounded three others, before he was himself shot dead by police.
  • At the Empire State Building in New York City, an out-of-work fashion designer fatally shot a former co-worker before being killed in a blaze of gunshots by police, stunning tourists and commuters outside of one of New York’s most popular landmarks.
  • Finally, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children and six staff members, before killing himself. He had also killed his mother.

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Other notables

  • Lance Armstrong, the disgraced cycling champion had his seven Tour de France victories scratched from the records and was banned from cycling for life after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) sanctions against him. A USADA report said Armstrong had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
  • Record-setting skydiver. Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon near the edge of space 24 miles above Earth and safely landed, setting a record for the highest skydive and breaking the sound barrier in the process.
  • CIA Director, David Petraeus, who had formerly played a key role in the Iraq war, and led the U.S. Central Command and commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, stepped down after admitting he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

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I Miss Him Two!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

Before we look forward to a new year it is always nice to look back to the past. In this case some more of the past statements of President George W Bush.

I don’t think he requires any more introduction than that. I’ll just let him speak for himself.

Enjoy.

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Caricature of President George W Bush

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“I think war is a dangerous place.”  – Washington, D.C., May 7, 2003

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” – Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

“Will the highways on the Internet become more few?” – Concord, N.H., Jan. 29, 2000

“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.” – LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

“If affirmative action means what I just described, what I’m for, then I’m for it.” – Third presidential debate. St. Louis, Mo., October 17, 2000

“It’s your money. You paid for it.” – LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

“That’s a chapter, the last chapter of the 20th, 20th, the 21st century that most of us would rather forget. The last chapter of the 20th century. This is the first chapter of the 21st century.” – On the Lewinsky scandal, Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

“I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can’t answer your question.” – In response to a question about whether he wished he could take back any of his answers in the first debate. Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Oct. 4, 2000

“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.” – Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

“One of the common denominators I have found is that expectations rise above that which is expected.” – Los Angeles, Sept. 27, 2000

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“It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas.” – Beaverton, Ore., Sep. 25, 2000

 “I think we agree, the past is over.” – On his meeting with John McCain, Dallas Morning News, May 10, 2000

 “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.” – Reuters, May 5, 2000

“What I am against is quotas. I am against hard quotas, quotas they basically delineate based upon whatever. However they delineate, quotas, I think vulcanize society. So I don’t know how that fits into what everybody else is saying, their relative positions, but that’s my position.”  – Quoted by Molly Ivins, the San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2000

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” – Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

“Keep good relations with the Grecians.”  – Quoted in the Economist, June 12, 1999

President George W Bush exit cartoon

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The best of Bushisms

 

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Have You Heard Of The Herd?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Today was originally scheduled for the latest part in the short series about the curious and amusing phobias some people seem to have. But it’s a holiday week for most of us and I have put that post back until next week.

Instead I feel the urge to say something else. Two things actually.

First one is, have you heard of the herd? In particular the herd mentality, where people do something they have no need to do just because other people are doing it?

It happens a lot. Far too much in fact.

We witnessed it during the recent election campaign where people formed opinions not on the basis of their own analysis of the candidates and policies, but because of something someone else said or something they heard on tv.

We saw it again very recently after the dreadful murders in Connecticut where the unthinking herd ignored the real problem and  jumped on gun control as a solution to senseless attacks such as this. They might as well call for a ban on knives, axes, chainsaws, bows and arrows and gasoline when they are at it as any of these could do the same job in the hands of a mental defective.

And on December 24 we witnessed another example in grocery stores throughout the country (throughout the world even) as hoards of the unthinking joined the herd and bought up bread and food supplies like the shops would not be open again for at least a month. They are open again today you dummies!

These three examples have been going on for years and people never seem to learn, they just keep on following the herd without a thought in their heads.

And this leads me on to point two which is how little thought most of us give to what we are doing and what we are buying the already well off and pampered.

I know for a fact that Santa had orders for laptops and ipads and iphones and all sorts of other expensive playthings. And I also know that he hadn’t the sense to say no, but just bought them anyway. Mea culpa as much as anyone.

Then I got to thinking that life was a lot different when I was a kid. Yes we liked to get presents at Christmas, but they were a lot less sophisticated and a lot less expensive – even in relative terms. When I was eight, for example, I didn’t need a smart phone, or any phone come to think of it, nor was my social life so complicated and hectic that I had to have a chauffeur for all my must-do activities for every day of the week.

When I was a kid we had our toys, but we also had a thing called an imagination and we could make our own fun out of very little.

So what is the problem today? Why are kids so incapable of making their own entertainment? Why are they constantly “bored” without clicking a button on a computer consol or without someone else to do their thinking for them?

Like a lot of other things, it all boils down to money at the end of the day. Now I’m not advocating poverty as a solution to the world’s ills. Far from it. I like to make money, the more the better, and the thought of being, perhaps not rich, but comfortably well off is a very nice one. But if we had to we could all make do with a lot less. And I don’t think we would be any less happier in the process.

People in other countries seem to manage quite well. And they still seem to have the mental capacity to enjoy what little they have and make their fun out of next to nothing. In other words they are happy. If things do ever deteriorate to the extent that some of the doomsday preachers are telling us, there are a lot better prepared people in the world than there are in rich countries like America, or Britain, or Germany, etc.

Think about giving your kid or nephew or niece an old oil drum from the local garbage dump next Christmas instead of an ipod touch or some other overly expensive apple. I wonder how much music and entertainment they could get out of that?

Check out the video and you will see what I mean…

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So How Can You Tell Mayan Bollocks From Ordinary Bollocks?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The answer to the question in the title is, of course, you can’t. Bollocks is bollocks no matter from which race, religion, continent or country it comes from, or in what language.

I tried, and tried hard, but I couldn’t let Friday’s non-event go by without a word or several about the Mayans and particularly about the dipsticks who thought they had interpreted the Mayan calendar.

By the way “the Mayan Calendar” is an anagram of “deny earth almanac” so that in itself should have told them something.

But no, in the best bollocks-brain tradition that also brought us ‘the Y2K crisis that never was’ and that never made any sense either, we have been subjected for months and years now to all this end of the world malarkey from so-called learned scholars who knew such a lot about such a little they might as well have known nothing about anything at all. Plus, they have not an atom of common sense between them!  

Mayan End Of The World Miscalculation

There’s a fasab rule that there are none so dumb as those who think they are smart. I suppose that’s my take on “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Happily I have been blessed with the ability to recognize that there are at least a trillion things that I don’t know for every little thing that I do know. I have also learned not to jump to conclusions when there is precious little evidence to support them.

So here’s the story.

We all know by now that the Mayans carved a calendar into a big round stone and that some self-important smart asses tried to decipher it and came to the conclusion that, because the calendar apparently stops at Dec 21, 2012, that is the date when the world must end.

Mayan Calendar cartoon

That’s a bit like munching your way through a bar of chocolate, looking at the empty wrapper and deciding that there will be no more bars of chocolate ever! (Now THAT would be the end of the world!)

There could have been lots of reasons why the Mayan calendar ended on that date (if indeed it did) but they were either dismissed or, much more likely, never even considered. None of them fit with dipstick logic.

For example,

  • the wee-calendar-carver-man-person may have keeled over and died without passing on his ‘magic formula’ to a successor.
  • he may just have got pissed off with the job and stopped.
  • he could have broken his chisel.  
  • he might have whacked himself on the thumb with his hammer.
  • he could have continued his work on a second stone that nobody has found yet.
  • or he may have been the Mayan equivalent of the modern day dipsticks who tried to interpret it and really did think the world was going to end on that date.

mayan cartoon

It’s not the fact that we have these ‘end of the world’ morons and their equally moronic pronouncements about the apocalypse that annoys me. It’s the utterly depressing fact that no matter how insanely stupid their ideas are there are always hoards of other morons willing to believe them.

How sad is that?

And it has been going on for thousands of years.

A Roman priest and theologian in the second and third centuries, predicted Christ would return in A.D. 500. His calculations were based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark!

In the year 999, despite the fact that there weren’t any of the events required by the Bible transpiring at that time, there was almost hysteria over the return of Christ with all members of society seemingly affected by the prediction that it would happen on January 1, 1000 AD.

In 1186 the “Letter of Toledo” warned everyone to hide in the caves and mountains. The world would be destroyed and only a few would be spared.

In 1420 the Taborites of Czechoslovakia predicted every city would be annihilated by fire. Only five mountain strongholds would be saved.

Also around the same time someone called ‘Mother Shipton’ claimed the world would end 400 years later in 1881.

In 1666 the bubonic plague outbreak killed 100,000 Londoners and, along with the Great Fire of London during the same year, made the world ending likely to most. The fact that the year ended with the Beast’s number (666), didn’t help sanity to prevail either.

By 1809 things were getting really silly. A woman fortune teller, named Mary Bateman, had a magic chicken that laid eggs with end time messages on them. However the uproar she created was ended abruptly when an unannounced visitor caught her forcing a magic egg up the hen’s ass! She was later was hanged for poisoning a wealthy client.

William Miller founded an end-times movement that became known as ‘Millerism’. He determined that the second coming would happen sometime between 1843-1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 gave the movement a good push forward and the anticipation continued to build up until March 21, 1844, when Miller’s one year time table ran out.

In 1874 the Jehovah’s Witnesses were getting in on the fun, but failed. They also struck out in 1878 and 1881. Charles Taze Russell then predicted the Rapture in 1910, followed by the ‘End of the World’ in 1914. He later reinterpreted this as the ‘invisible’ return of Christ when the world ignored him and continued. The Witnesses had no better luck with predictions for 1918, or 1925, or 1957, or 1975, or 1994. Amazingly, the failure of every one of their forecasts has not affected the growth of the movement, the Watchtower magazine, a major Witness periodical, having apparently over 13 million subscribers worldwide.

Then the revisit of Haley’s comet was, for many, an indication of the Lord’s second coming. The earth actually passed through the gaseous tail of the comet. One of the few sane people of the time was enterprising enough to sell ‘comet pills’ to people for protection against the effects of the toxic gases.

1960 was the date chosen by Piazzi Smyth, a past astronomer royal of Scotland, whose 1860 book titled “Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid” both predicted that year as the date of the new millennium and  was responsible for spreading the belief in pyramidology throughout the world.

1962 saw Pope John XXIII contributing to the madness, predicting that visitors from outer space would arrive in chariots of flaming steel and would share their advanced knowledge with humanity. Our life span would be increased to 150 years or longer and most diseases would be wiped out.

In 1967 when the city of Jerusalem was reclaimed by the Jews, prophecy watchers declared that the ‘Time of the Gentiles’ had come to an end.

By the mid 1970s it was the turn of the late Moses David (formerly David Berg) founder of ‘The Children of God’ to predict that a comet would hit the earth, and destroy all life in the United States.

Then a group called the ‘Tara Centers’ placed full-page advertisements in many major newspapers for the weekend of April 24-25, 1982, announcing “The Christ is Now Here!” and predicting that he would make himself known “within the next two months.” After the date passed, they said that the delay was only because the “consciousness of the human race was not quite right…” in other words, all our fault, not theirs!

In 1983, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Guru of the Rajneesh movement also predicted massive destruction on earth, including natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. Floods larger than any since Noah, extreme earthquakes, very destructive volcano eruptions, nuclear wars etc. would be experienced. Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bombay would all disappear. To the best of my knowledge they are all still around although Bombay did have a makeover name change. .

In 1991 Nation of Islam Leader, Louis Farrakhan, proclaimed the Gulf War would to be “the War of Armageddon … the final War.” Wrong!

In 1992, we had the whacko in Waco. David Koresh and his Branch Davidian group change the name of their commune from Mt. Carmel to Ranch Apocalypse, because of his belief that the final all-encompassing battle of Armageddon mentioned in the Bible would start at the Branch Davidian compound. They had calculated that the end would occur in 1995. After a 51-day standoff, on April 10,1993, they did have their own mini apocalypse when 76 members died as a result of a deliberately set fire.

Also in 1992 Lee Jang Rim started a church called, “Mission For The Coming Days”. Using numerology as the basis for his chosen date, the cult (no spelling error) looked forward to the Second Coming believing that Jesus would return through Sydney Harbour! An hour after the appointed prediction time the cult leaders ran for it, hiding their faces from reporters. One reporter was punched. Some disappointed members committed suicide, probably because they had given all their worldly assets to Lee Jang Rim who was later jailed for two years for embezzling 4.4 million dollars from 10,000 of his cult followers. Ironically Lee Jang Rim had used the money to buy bonds that matured AFTER the end of the world! You gotta laugh!

Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church Los Angels also caused quite a stir when he announced he had received a vision from God that warned of an apocalyptic event on June 9th, 1994. Hinkle, quoting God, said, “On Thursday June the 9th, I will rip the evil out of this world.” Nope, didn’t happen either.

Then Harold Camping in his book “Are You Ready?” predicted the Lord’s return in September 1994. The book was full of methods that added up Bible numbers up to 1994 as the date of Christ’s return. Of course it was nonsense, but proving that you can’t keep a good man down, he was at it again in 2011, when he pronounced that May 21 that year would be ‘Judgment day’. Needless to say he was wrong again!

In 1993, when Rabin and Arafat signed their peace pact on the White House lawn on September 13, some saw the events as the beginning of the tribulation. With the signing of the peace agreement Daniel’s 1260 day countdown was underway and by adding 1260 days to September, 1993 they came to February 24, 1997 as the fateful day.

The July 29, 1997 an issue of the ‘Weekly World News’ carried a statement by a spokesperson of the ‘International Association of Psychics’ which said that 92% of their 120,000 members had had the same “end time” vision. War, pestilence, and a worldwide plague were among the predicted events which would see the end of mankind by around the year 2001. So much for psychics!

Also around 1997 a group called the ‘Sacerdotal Knights of National Security’ reported that “A space alien captured at a UFO landing site in eastern Missouri cracked under interrogation by the CIA and admitted that an extraterrestrial army will attack Earth on November 27 with the express purpose of stripping our planet of every natural resource they can find a use for — and making slaves of every man, woman and child in the world!”

Then, because 666 times three equals 1998, that year saw another spasm of end of the world predictions. For example, a Taiwanese cult operating out of Garland Texas predicted Christ would return on March 31, 1998. The group’s leader, Heng-ming Chen, announced God would return, and then invite the cult members aboard a UFO. However, the group had to abandon their second coming prediction when a precursor event failed to take place. The cult’s leader said God would appear on every channel 18 of every TV in the world, but as one commentator concluded, perhaps God realized at the last minute that the Playboy Network was channel 18 on several cable systems, and he didn’t want to have Christians watching a porn channel.

Also in 1998 the famous psychic, Edgar Cayce, predicted that a secret, underground chamber would be discovered between the paws of the Great Sphinx and that inside there would be documents revealing the history of Atlantis. This revelation would trigger the Second Coming of Christ. This prediction is more interesting than most because two independent studies have revealed that there is in fact an underground structure just where Cayce said it would be!

The wonderfully and appropriately named ‘Church of the Subgenius’ predicted that on “X Day”, July 5, 1998, the end of the world would occur. At that time, “the Men from Planet X, or XISTS, will arrive on Earth, close a deal with “Bob,” rapture the card-carrying Ordained SubGenii up to the Escape Vessels of the Sex Goddesses, and destroy the remaining population of Earth, VERY VERY SLOWLY.” In case you are wondering, ‘Bob’ is J.R. Dobbs, leader and High Epopt of the Church of the SubGenius, Living Avatar of Slack, the Saint of Sales. You couldn’t make it up!

The new millennium year of 2000 produced an upsurge in end of the world predictions. When none of that came true some of them regrouped and hit on the ‘no year zero’ excuse, pushing their doomsday date out to 2001. Nope. Wrong again!

A few years later, Shelby Corbett, of Bradenton, Florida put up benches throughout the town advertising that the rapture will happen in 2007! She had little Biblical knowledge but conveniently had a book out pushing the same information.

Then Arnie Stanton noted on September 16, 1997 that that evening was the fourth Jewish festival since April 3, 1996 when a lunar eclipse had occurred. He quoted Luke 21:25-26 which mentions “signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars and on the earth distress of nations” and decided  that “these recent lunar eclipses are the last known astronomical signs that will precede a 7 year (360 day/year) countdown to Armageddon/Christ’s return to the Earth.” Arnie expected that Christ’s return would occur within a few months of September 29, 2004 when Asteroid Toutatis made a very close approach to the Earth. Afraid not Arnie.

On April 17, 2008 Ronald Weinland travelled to Jerusalem and announced that he and his wife were the two witnesses of Revelation. The title of his book, “If it doesn’t come to pass…starting in April, then I’m nothing but a false prophet…” said it all.

And then we had the Mayan calendar nonsense, which brings me back to where this post started. It turned out to be a bit longer than I had intended, but I wanted to give you a flavor of the idiots that are out there, all with equally idiotic followers. And this is just a few of many, many more examples.

So is there an answer?

Well yes there is. And it’s pretty simple. Just do three things, (a) don’t listen to self-important academics and scientists who clearly don’t know what they are talking about. (b) treat others the way you like to be treated yourself, and providing you are reasonably normal and not some kind of kinky masochist, then that yardstick should do fine; and (c) don’t worry about the end of the world, you can’t do anything about it anyway, I mean where are you going to go?  

THE END (of the post, just the post!)

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