America Just Can’t Make It Anymore.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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USA industrial economy

The statement in the title is not true, except that it is.

If you are a little confused stay with me and let me clarify.

The United States used to be the industrial power house of the world. Its industries generated unprecedented wealth for the country, creating the world’s first self-made billionaires and productive wealth creating jobs galore for everyone. The whole country prospered.

Today, however, the United States has become the world’s second biggest importer of goods. Worse than that, even though America still exports billions of dollars’ worth in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This creates a trade deficit ($471 billion according to recent figures).

US Trade Deficit

So what are all these imports into the US?

Well, they include industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion), automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($309 billion), miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services ($201 billion), cell phones ($90 billion), travel passenger services ($86 billion), pharmaceuticals ($84 billion), computers ($65 billion), chemicals ($61 billion), other transportation services ($59 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), telecommunications equipment ($54 billion), royalties and license fees services ($42 billion), apparel ($49 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion), fuel oil ($44 billion), industrial supplies ($29 billion), U.S. Government service imports primarily defense ($25 billion), fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion), and vegetables ($11 billion).

Cartoon imports

If you are a bit shell-shocked by all those figures let me phrase it a bit differently using as examples the types of goods you would tend to buy.

  • 100% (almost) of the shoes bought in the U.S. come from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico;
  • 90% of white goods (washers, fridges, etc.) and consumer electronics are imported;
  • 85% of household furniture is imported;
  • 80% of cars on U.S. roads come from Canada (31%), Japan (24%), Germany (16%) and Mexico (12%); and,
  • 65% of U.S. clothing is imported from China (37%), Vietnam (9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%) and Bangladesh (6.7%).

Probably the saddest part is that even things you thought were “American” are now actually made overseas and imported.

I remember while on a business trip to the US many, many years ago I bought a gift for the young son of a friend of mine. He was a big sports enthusiast so I reckoned that one of the most iconic symbols of sport from America would be a baseball. I bought one in Wal-Mart. It was marked with all the different holding positions for the various ways to throw a baseball (fast ball, curve ball and all that). The perfect gift.

I gave it to him on my return feeling ever so pleased with myself. The kid opened it, showed momentary delight, then looked up at me accusingly. “It says ‘Made in China'” he told me.

Baseball made in China

But it’s not only baseballs. Similar types of product that you would think are all-American, like Converse All Stars, Levi’s, Huffy bicycles, televisions, Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Radio Flyer wagons, Barbie dolls, and last but by no means least, most of those American flags just ain’t American no more.

modern monopoly board

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Apple, for example, doesn’t have to become the richest company in the world by manufacturing its products in China and storing its vast hoards of cash overseas.

Or does it?

Everything on the lists above could still be made in the US and surpluses exported to other countries. But the US government and its moronic bureaucrats are spending their time and our money thinking up new ways, not to help American businesses, but to add ever-increasing amounts of rules, regulations and bureaucracy on to American companies.

American businesses can no longer compete, because their own government has ensured that the deck is stacked against them.

In the mind of a bureaucrat losing a million productive wealth creating jobs, for example, in the automotive industry, and replacing them with a million more administrative jobs that cost the country money evens things out.

It doesn’t. Simple math will tell you that. Every time it happens things get worse and America gets poorer.

So America just can’t make it anymore, but not because China has stolen the jobs. It’s because the US government bureaucrats gave them away.

Put the blame where it should be.

StimulusBureaucrats

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A Mish Mash Quiz Today.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to today’s quiz on the fasab blog.

Another challenging selection of questions for you.

And if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1.  M*A*S*H was a famous book, movie and TV series, but what do the letters M A S H stand for?

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Q.  2. Wind transports approximately how many millions of tonnes of dust from the Sahara to the Amazon every year?

          a) 4 million tonnes        b) 40 million tonnes        c) 400 million tonnes

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The City Of Tigers’ ? (HINT: it is not in Asia.)

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Q.  4.  ‘Ring of Bright Water’ is a book about which creatures?

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Q.  5.  This one is the name of a rich fruit cake decorated with almonds, a town in Scotland, and the last name of a comic Australian movie character. What is it?

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Q.  6.  In which country is the legendary city of Timbuktu? (If you have been following the TV series American Odyssey you’ll know this one.)

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Q.  7.  A multi-point question. What currencies are used in the following countries?

           a) USA          b) Britain          c) Japan           d) Europe          e) China

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Q.  8.  What percentage of internet users quit waiting for a video to load after 10 seconds?

            a) 10%         b) 20%         c) 30%         d) 40%         e) 50%          f) 60%

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Q.  9.  What were the first names of the four main characters of the long running and highly successful TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ ? (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the actresses who played them.)

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Q. 10.  In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, a New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create aviation sunglasses that would ban the sun rays and reduce the headaches and nausea experienced by his pilots. What name were they given?

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Q. 11.  “The devil on two sticks” is a former name for which juggling-like game?

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Q. 12.  What are the four largest countries on Earth by area? (A point for each you name correctly and a bonus point if you get them in the correct order, starting with the largest.)

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Q. 13.  What is the painting, ‘La Gioconda’, more usually known as?

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Q. 14.  What is the name of the traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish?

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Q. 15.  What is the name of John Lennon’s widow?

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Q. 16.  With whom is the fictional character ‘Alfred Pennyworth’ associated?

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Q. 17.  Who is the largest American retailer of lingerie?

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Q. 18.  In the Bible what are the names of the first and last books of the New Testament?

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Q. 19.  What was the name of the flamboyant and controversial Australian actor who starred in many movies during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and played characters like ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘George Custer’?

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Q. 20.  What was the name of the group that Paul McCartney went on to form in 1970 after The Beatles split up?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  M*A*S*H was a famous book, movie and TV series, but what do the latters M A S H stand for?

A.  1.  Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

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Q.  2. Wind transports approximately how many millions of tonnes of dust from the Sahara to the Amazon every year?

          a) 4 million tonnes          b) 40 million tonnes          c) 400 million tonnes

A.  2. The correct answer is b) 40 million tonnes.

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The City Of Tigers’ ? (HINT: it is not in Asia.)

A.  3.  It’s Oslo, Norway. (Apparently because the city was referred to as ‘Tigerstaden’ (the City of Tigers) by the author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson around 1870, due to his perception of the city as a cold and dangerous place.

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Q.  4.  ‘Ring of Bright Water’ is a book about which creatures?

A.  4.  Otters.

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Q.  5.  This one is the name of a rich fruit cake decorated with almonds, a town in Scotland, and the last name of  a comic Australian movie character. What is it?

A.  5.  It is ‘Dundee’.

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Q.  6.  In which country is the legendary city of Timbuktu? (If you have been following the TV series American Odyssey you’ll know this one.)

A.  6.  Mali, Africa.

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Q.  7.  A multi-point question. What currencies are used in the following countries?

         a) USA       b) Britain       c) Japan       d) Europe       e) China

A.  7.  a) Dollar      b) Pound        c) Yen          d) Euro         e) Yuan Renminbi

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Q.  8.  What percentage of internet users quit waiting for a video to load after 10 seconds?

            a) 10%         b) 20%         c) 30%         d) 40%         e) 50%          f) 60%

A.  8.  The correct answer is e) 50%.

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Q.  9.  What were the first names of the four main characters of the long running and highly successful TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ ? (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the actresses who played them.)

A.  9.  They were Dorothy Zbornak (played by Bea Arthur); Rose Nylund (played by Betty White); Blanche Devereaux (played by Rue McClanahan); and Sophia Petrillo (played by Estelle Getty).

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Q. 10.  In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, a New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create aviation sunglasses that would ban the sun rays and reduce the headaches and nausea experienced by his pilots. What name were they given?

A. 10.  They were called Ray Ban.

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Q. 11.  “The devil on two sticks” is a former name for which juggling-like game?

A. 11.  Diabolo.

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Q. 12.  What are the four largest countries on Earth by area? (A point for each you name correctly and a bonus point if you get them in the correct order, starting with the largest.)

A. 12.  1)  Russia         2)  Canada          3)  United States          4) PR China

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Q. 13.  What is the painting, ‘La Gioconda’, more usually known as?

A. 13.  The Mona Lisa.

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Q. 14.  What is the name of the traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish?

A. 14.  Colcannon.

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Q. 15.  What is the name of John Lennon’s widow?

A. 15.  Yoko Ono.

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Q. 16.  With whom is the fictional character ‘Alfred Pennyworth’ associated?

A. 16.  He is butler to Bruce Wayne, aka Batman.

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Q. 17.  Who is the largest American retailer of lingerie?

A. 17.  Victoria’s Secret.

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Q. 18.  In the Bible what are the names of the first and last books of the New Testament?

A. 18.  They are the book of Matthew and the book of Revelation.

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Q. 19.  What was the name of the flamboyant and controversial Australian actor who starred in many movies during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and played characters like ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘George Custer’?

A. 19.  He was Errol Flynn.

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Q. 20.  What was the name of the group that Paul McCartney went on to form in 1970 after The Beatles split up?

A. 20.  It was called ‘Wings’, have a taste….

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Titanic, Tic Tacs And Trailers. It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another fact day at the fasab blob.

Last one for May 2015. Time flying as always.

This selection includes facts about the Titanic Tic Tacs and trailers, and lots more.

Enjoy.

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did you know3

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Light pollution usually doesn’t have a

significant impact on humans but it

causes major problems to many animals.

Birds often confuse days and nights and

scientists found out that light pollution can

change migration patterns in some animal species.

 Light pollution

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The Titanic was so big that 176 men were needed

just to shovel coal into its furnaces

 Titanic boiler room

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Although Tic Tac’s claim to have 0 sugar,

they consist of nearly 98% sugar!

This is because the size per serving is

.49 grams and according to the FDA a food

cannot be labeled “sugar free” unless it

contains less than .5 grams of sugar per serving!

How sweet!

 Tic Tac

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Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe and

it hasn’t changed its name since 681 AD

 Bulgaria map

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When Soviet archaeologists opened the tomb

of Tamerlane, a Mongol descendant of Genghis Khan,

they found an inscription that read,

“Whoever opens my tomb will unleash

an invader more terrible than I.”

It was June 20 1941.

Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22.

 tomb of Tamerlane

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The only part of a Swiss Army Knife not

made in Switzerland is the corkscrew.

It is made in Japan.

 Swiss Army Knife

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Mothers become emotionally attached to their

children prior to birth by the virtue of

carrying the child in their wombs.

According to some studies men won’t become

emotionally bonded to the child for several months

after birth when the infant begins to smile, respond,

and interact with him.

 mother baby bond

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During Peter the Great’s reign in Russia

there was a beard tax which

anyone with a beard had to pay.

 Beard_token

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Nobody knows how the Mayan Empire declined.

Long before the Spanish came many of the great

cities had already been long abandoned and lay in ruins.

Scholars have hypothesized reasons ranging from

drought and famine to overpopulation and climate change.

 Mayan Empire

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JRR Tolkien’s estate only received $62,500

for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy

until a lawsuit was filed.

 Lord of the Rings film trilogy

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In June 2010 Oscar the cat received bionic limbs

to replace his original ones lost in an

accident with a combine harvester.

 Bionic-Cat

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Movie trailers were so named because they

were originally designed to play AFTER the movie,

but when marketers realized that people don’t tend

to stick around when a movie has finished they

started to play them at the beginning of the main movie!

Here’s an example…

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Forty-Four Mouth-Watering Facts About Curry.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I’ve done ‘peanut butter‘ and ‘chocolate‘ and ‘coffee‘ in other posts. Today it is another fasab food favorite, the curry.

A curry, properly made, has to be one of the most delicious foods in the world.

I have spent many happy evenings with friends enjoying this delicacy in one form or another. Personally I like it with some naan bread or sometimes with rice. Either way is socially acceptable and extremely tasty.

Mouth watering already?

Very good, let’s get straight to the facts.

Enjoy.

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dishes of curry

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The word curry comes from a Tamil word ‘kari’ or ‘karil’, meaning spices or sautéd vegetables.

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The meaning changed when Portuguese traders used it for the sauces with which rice was served.

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Essentially, the term curry was invented by the English administrators of the East Indian Trading Co. and later continued by British government employees.

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The British army in India further changed the meaning as its liking for hot sauces introduced the modern idea of curries being hot.

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Surprisingly, the term ‘curry’ isn’t used very much in India. There are many types of curry-style dishes, which have their own characteristic regional variations.

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Curry Powder is a mix of spices, rather than a spice in its own right. It usually consists of turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cumin, sweet basil, and red pepper.

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Some of the most common types of curry are ‘Korma’, ‘Massala’, ‘Dhansak’, ‘Phall’, ‘Rogan Josh’, ‘Dopiaza’, ‘Madras’ and ‘Vindaloo’.

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Curry is said to have a number of valuable health benefits, including the prevention of cancer, protection against heart disease, reducing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, easing pain and inflammation, boosting bone health, protecting the immune system from bacterial infections, and increasing the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body.

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In addition to being an established and firm favorite in Britain. and increasing popular throughout Europe and the United States, curry forms a major element of the diets of several Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Maldives, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Fiji.

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Chili (or Chilli) is the most popular spice in the world and can help combat heart attacks and strokes and extends blood coagulation times preventing harmful blood clots.

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Contrary to common western belief, curries are not always ‘hot’, they can be mild, medium and hot.

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curry with rice

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The earliest known curry was made in Mesopotamia in around 1700 BC, the recipe for meat in a spicy sauce appearing on tablets found near Babylon.

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The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers or other spicy foods.

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The ‘Bhut Jolokia Chilli Pepper’ (also known as the ‘Naga Jolokia’), is the hottest pepper in the world, accompanied with its own health warning! This pepper is also known as the ‘Ghost Chilli’ or ‘Ghost Pepper’, and is grown in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

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The first commercial curry powder appeared in about 1780.

In Britain Indian food now surpasses Chinese food in popularity, with Indian restaurants outnumbering Chinese restaurants by two to one.

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 .

The word ‘balti’ means bucket. Balti is more a style of cooking than one particular curry.

In specialist ‘Balti Houses’ the balti is a meal in itself which contains both meat and vegetables and is eaten straight from the karahi using curled up pieces of naan bread. In standard Indian restaurants the balti is more of a stir-fried curry containing plenty of fried green peppers and fresh cilantro (also known as coriander).

South Indian food is more spicy than North Indian food.

The first curry recipe in English appeared in Hannah Glasse’s ‘The Art Of Cookery’ in 1747.

The world’s biggest ever curry was a 13 tonne Biryani, including 187lb of chilies and 6600lb of rice. It took 60 chefs to make in New Delhi in June 2008. And required three cranes to move the container and a 3ft high furnace to cook it!

In Western Europe and the U K, curry powders available contain more turmeric than anything else, and tend to be toned down to palates used to bland food.

curry with naan bread

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The tallest poppadom stack in the world stands at a massive 282 poppadoms. The record was set by a chef from the Jali Indian Restaurant in Blackpool.

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In 2008, Bath and North East Somerset Council advised a man to sprinkle curry powder on his wife’s grave to keep squirrels and deer away.

Tim Stobbs, aged 42 years, currently holds the world record for munching an impressive 15 poppadoms in 5 minutes! The annual World Championships, in aid of Cancer Research UK Scotland, is held every year at St Andrews University.

There are about 10,000 Indian restaurants serving curry in the UK, the vast majority of which are run by people from Bangladesh, not India.

To make a ‘hot’ curry mild, just add some coconut milk.

The word ‘masala’ means spice mix.

In 1846, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote ‘A Poem To Curry’, as part of his Kitchen Melodies.

Britain’s first curry house, called the Hindustani Coffee House and located in London’s Portman Square, opened in 1809. Now there are more curry houses in London, England than in Mumbai, India.

Chili can help combat heart attacks and strokes.

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One of the hottest curry dishes ever made is known as the Bit Spicy 3 Chili Phall which is even hotter than the infamous ‘Chicken Naga’, made with a high volume of Naga pepper seeds. More than 100 times hotter than jalapeño peppers!

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People crave a curry because the spices arouse and stimulate the taste buds.

curry powder

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Vindaloo was originally a Portuguese dish which took its name from the two main ingredients which were ‘vinho’, wine/wine vinegar, and ‘alhos’, garlic. Over time it was spiced up, hotted up and otherwise changed by the indigenous peoples of the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa.

The ‘Big Jim’, a large chili hailing from New Mexico, currently holds the world record for the largest chili ever grown. This plant frequently produces chilies that are over a foot in length, which is hugely impressive considering that the plant itself never grows more than two feet!

The town of North Curry is in Somerset while West Curry is in Cornwall.

Madras and pathia are both hot and sour dishes. Kashmiri a more subtle and creamy dish usually made with lychees or bananas – or both.

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Scientists at Nottingham Trent University have discovered that people begin to crave for a curry because the spices arouse and stimulate the taste buds.

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One in seven curries sold in the UK is a chicken tikka masala, making it the most popular Indian restaurant dish in the UK. It is thought to have originated in Britain after an enterprising Indian chef had the idea of adding a tomato and onion paste to the grilled chicken to satisfy the British preference for food that isn’t dry.

The largest naan bread ever made was a whopping 2.75m in diameter and contained meat dumplings – the equivalent of 167 normal sized naan breads. The bread took over ten hours to finish and required twelve chefs, 30kg mutton, 125kg flour, 16kg onion and 90kg of water to cook it.

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Southeastern Asian cultures have always mixed a number of spices to flavor their dishes, usually according to recipes handed down from generation to generation.

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A common way to categorize Thai curry is by the color of the curry paste used to make the curry dish. Green and red curry paste are the most typical. Yellow and sour curries (also sometimes known as orange curry, gaeng sohm) are also well known. Each has its own particular combination of herbs and spices to make up the curry paste that makes it unique.

‘Panang’ and ‘masaman’ curry are probably the most popular Thai curries in the West, because of their rich tastes.

Finally, if you are eating a curry which is just too hot for you, don’t drink water, that only makes it hotter!

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A Good Pun Is It’s Own Reword.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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An English Prince and a German with a problem feature in today’s word play.

Plus a lot more for you to….

Enjoy or endure!!

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rofl

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I’m really big in Japan.

I’m 5′ 10″.

 short japanese

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My friend has a heroin addiction.

He can’t stop reading

Wonder Woman comics.

 Wonder Woman comics

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I’ve just watched a documentary

on TV about belching.

I think it was a repeat.

 belching

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The camping shop were advertising

their new tent in the window,

They call it the ‘Shakespeare’.

The sign said…

This is the discount of our winter tent.

 Shakespeare now is the winter of our discontent

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I just got fired from my job,

where I disposed of dangerous

materials from building sites.

I don’t know why, though.

I did asbestos I could!

 asbestos removal

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I was reading the newspaper to a

friend of mine who is blind.

One notice said there was a faith healer

performing in town tonight who reckons he

can cure anything, even blindness.

My friend said he might turn up to that,

just to see.

 blind man

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Those who believe that love conquers all

have never played tennis.

 tennis score

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I went to a party for meteorologists yesterday.

Lovely atmosphere.

 party for meteorologists

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I saw a capsized boat today.

It was very small.

 capsized boat

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What do you call a German whose honest

about their flatulence problem?

A Frankfarter.

 flatulence problem

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I just read that the movie POMPEII is on tonight.

I haven’t even seen the first Pompe yet.

 pompeii-movie-poster

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I had an out of body experience yesterday.

I was completely beside myself.

 out of body experience simpsons

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As the chauffeur opened the door

for Prince Charles he said,

“Still raining, sir.”

“Yes,” said Prince Charles,

“but she can’t go on forever.”

 Prince Charles

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Buzz Aldrin’s best pick-up line.

“Hey, I was the second man on the moon.

Neil before me.”

 Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

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“Son, you’re just not cut out to be a mime.”

“Is it something I said?”

“Yes.”

a mime

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Sweaty Palms And Underarms – I Smell Fact Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, today’s selection of facts includes sweaty palms and underarms.

You may be surprised by these and some of the other offerings below.

Enjoy.

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did you know5

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A person can only remember

four things at a time.

remember four things at a time

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And speaking of four,

of the four smokestacks on the Titanic,

only three were real working chimneys,

the fourth was totally for decoration only.

four smokestacks on the Titanic

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Palm sweat can be triggered by two separate things,

your body trying to control its temperature

or trying to cope with emotional stress,

both of which are closely linked.

Palm sweat

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In July of 1518 a woman began to

dance in the street in Stasbourg.

She was eventually joined by about 400 dancers.

It’s not clear exactly how many people died

due to this ‘dancing plague’, but some

definitely died from heart attack,

stroke or exhaustion.

Dancing-Plague-1518

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The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of

the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

and the last one still in existence.

Great Pyramid of Giza

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In his entire career (so far) James Bond

has been shot at 4,662 times.

james_bond

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The blue whale has the largest heart

weighing over 1,500 pounds.

blue whale has the largest heart

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Although polar bears are usually born on land,

they spend most of their time at sea.

Their scientific name Ursus Maritimus

means ‘maritime bear’.

polar-bear-ursus-maritimus-underwater--19238

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When a person gets right to the precise point

or says something that is verified as correct it is

often said that they have ‘hit the nail on the head’.

The exact origin of the phrase is not known,

but it appeared for the first time in print in

1438 in The Book of Margery Kempe.

hit the nail on the head

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7,000 deaths occur each year because

of doctors’ sloppy handwriting.

doctors' sloppy handwriting

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According to the Australian census,

Melbourne has the largest Greek population

outside Greece with over 150,000 people

being of Greek origin, which technically

makes Melbourne the sixth biggest city

in terms of Greek population.

Melbourne largest Greek population

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The sweat from a man’s underarm

can help women relax,

boost their mood and

help regulate their menstrual cycle,

if applied to her lips.

There you are ladies, now you know.

sweat from a man's underarm

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Mongol fleets tried to conquer Japan

twice in 7 years, but both times

they were stopped by a typhoon.

These events were described as

Kamikaze or ‘Divine Wind’.

Kamikaze or ‘Divine Wind’

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Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

both died on July 4th

on the 50th Anniversary of

the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

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Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is

the most watched YouTube video ever

with nearly 2.2 billion views and counting.

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FAREWELL 2014

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi folks,

Last day of this year and time for my recollections of 2014’s main events.

As always this is by no means meant to be a complete coverage of all the events that happened during 2014, just a personal blog post about some of the things I remember, and a few that I had forgotten until I started to compile this list.

I hope you enjoy.

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farewell 2014

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The Weather

We will start off with the weather since so many of us seem to be obsessed with it.

  • In the United States there were weather extremes. In California, for example, January was the warmest and driest on record in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Only four other Januaries since 1878 had been completely dry in Los Angeles until January 2014. Alaskans experienced their third warmest January in 96 years of record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

California drought 2014

  • In many parts of the Midwest, on the other hand, 2014 was the coldest winter since the late 1970s or early 1980s. And some southern states of the US became the victims of, firstly, winter storm Kronos which brought a rare blanket of snow as far south as Louisiana, and sleet as far south as Harlingen, Texas and Pensacola, Fla. in late January, and then, just days later, a second winter storm, Leon, hit many of the same areas causing commuter chaos in both Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Leon also spread ice and sleet to the Gulf Coast, including the Florida Panhandle, and the Low country of South Carolina.
  • And worse was on the way. Winter Storm Pax deposited an inch or more of ice in a swath from east-central Georgia into South Carolina, including Augusta, Ga. and Aiken, S.C. Pax was the second heaviest ice storm dating to 1947 in Wilmington, N.C. The accumulation of ice from Pax claimed the famed “Eisenhower tree” at the Augusta National Golf Club. Pax marked the first time since January 1940 that Columbia, S.C. saw snowfall for three straight days.

Winter Storm Pax Washington

  • In complete contrast, the week after Pax, Columbia, S.C. tied its all-time February high of 84 degrees. Augusta, Ga. warmed into the 80s two straight days on Feb. 19-20.
  • Elsewhere in the world, severe Atlantic winter storms took their toll on many parts of England which in 2014 experienced storms and rain not seen since the late 19th century.

Atlantic winter storms Cornwall England

  • In Tokyo, Japan, which usually averages only about 4 inches of snow each year, there were also severe snow storms. In February, snow blanketed the city with 11 inches of snow in less than a week, the heaviest snowfall in 45 years for Tokyo and in 60 years for the city of Kumagaya, northwest of Tokyo. The following weekend, parts of eastern Japan, including parts of the Tokyo metro area, received another round of snow. Some smaller communities were isolated by more than 3 feet of snow.
  • And in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported that more than 10 percent of Queensland and almost 15 percent of New South Wales experienced their record hottest day on Jan. 3. A second heat wave hit parts of southern Australia in mid-January, with temperatures peaking above 41 degrees Celsius (just under 106 degrees Fahrenheit) for four straight days from Jan. 14-17, and reaching a sizzling 43.9 degrees C (111 degrees F) on both Jan. 16 and 17.

australia heat wave 2014

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Business and Technology

  • In the world of business and technology 2014 was the year the Obama administration decided to stop inversion deals, where US companies bought foreign domiciled businesses and moved their profit centers to a much more tax friendly location.
  • In technology buys, one of the largest was Facebook’s purchase of smartphone application WhatsApp for $19 Billion.

14.02.19-Facebook-WhatsApp

  • In other sectors 2014 saw world oil price plunge to around $50 per barrel, good news for consumers, not so good for producers.
  • Under pressure from the fall in oil and gas prices, along with the economic sanctions imposed by the west because of the ongoing situation in the Ukraine, the Russian Ruble went into free fall in December.

APphoto_Russia Economy

  • Also in 2014, in March, the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program was not scientific but commercial and refused to grant further permits.
  • With Quantitative Easing having been ended in the US (for the moment anyway) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans for a new $29 billion fresh stimulus, including subsidies and job-creating programs, to help pull the world’s third-largest economy out of recession.

Quantitative Easing cartoon

  • After their embarrassing foul up last Christmas, this year both FedEx and UPS managed to deliver more than 99 percent of express packages as promised on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, according to shipment tracker ShipMatrix.
  • South Korean prosecutors arrested a government official who allegedly leaked information about an investigation into former Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-ah, who forced a flight to return over a bag of macadamia nuts. Most of the rest of the world tends to think that the idiot executive should suffer the consequences of her stupidity, not the whistleblower.

korean-air-lines-macademia-nut-scandal Cho Hyun-ah

  • And finally, after their embarrassing hack attack and cringe-worthy capitulation to what amounted to a terrorist cyber attack which was rightly criticized publicly by President Obama, Sony finally decided to release its movie ‘The Interview’.

Rogan Franco The-Interview

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Conflicts, Wars & Terrorism

Unfortunately 2014 saw many conflicts and acts of terrorism.

  • In April an estimated 276 girls and women were abducted and held hostage from a school in Nigeria. The following month, Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people in a night attack on Gamboru Ngala and terrorists in Nigeria detonated bombs at Jos, killing 118 people.

Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people Gamboru Ngala

  • June saw the emergence of a Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ (also known as the ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’). It began an offensive throughout northern Iraq, with the aim of eventually capturing the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad and overthrowing the Shiite government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The group has been responsible for beheading of hundreds of people including several from the United States.

Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’

  • In July and August tensions between Israel and Hamas grew following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in July. Israel launched ‘Operation Protective Edge’ on the Palestinian Gaza Strip starting with numerous missile strikes, followed by a ground invasion a week later. In 7 weeks of fighting, 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed.
  • Also in July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 souls on board. There are conflicting claims as to who was responsible, some blaming pro Russian forces for a missile strike and others blaming Ukrainian forces.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

  • In August and September the United States military began an air campaign in northern Iraq to stem the influx of ISIS militants and the following month the United States and several Arab partners began an airstrike campaign in Syria.

Expect more on these stories during 2015.

Departures

During 2014 we said farewell to many well know people from various walks of life. Here is just my selection of those I remember.

From Literature

Sue Townsend

British novelist and playwright (b. 1946)

SueTownsend

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P. D. James

British writer and life peer

(b. 1920)

P. D. James

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From Movies & TV

Roger Lloyd-Pack

British actor

(b. 1944)

Roger Lloyd-Pack

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Maximilian Schell

Austrian-Swiss actor

(b. 1930)

Maximilian Schell

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

American actor

(b. 1967)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Shirley Temple

American actress and diplomat

(b. 1928)

shirley_temple

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Sid Caesar

American actor

(b. 1922)

Sid Caesar

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Harold Ramis

American film director,

writer, and actor

(b. 1944)

Harold Ramis

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Mickey Rooney

American actor

(b. 1920)

Mickey Rooney

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Bob Hoskins

British actor

(b. 1942)

Bob Hoskins

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Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

American actor

(b. 1918)

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

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Rik Mayall

British comedian,

writer and actor

(b. 1958)

Rik Mayall

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Casey Kasem

American radio host

and voice actor

(b. 1932)

Casey Kasem

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Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

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Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

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James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

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Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

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Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

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Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

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Richard Attenborough

British actor and film director

(b. 1923)

Richard Attenborough

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Joan Rivers

American comedian, actress,

and television host

(b. 1933)

Joan Rivers

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Richard Kiel

American actor (b. 1939)

Richard Kiel

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Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

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Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

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Warren Clarke

English actor

(b. 1947)

Warren-Clarke

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Glen A. Larson

American television producer

and writer

(b. 1937)

Glen A. Larson

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Virna Lisi

Italian actress

(b. 1936)

Virna Lisi

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Billie Whitelaw

English actress

(b. 1932)

Billie Whitelaw

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Luise Rainer

Golden Age actress

“The Great Ziegfeld”

(b. 1910)

Luise Rainer with oscars

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From Music

Pete Seeger

American singer, songwriter,

musician, and activist

(b. 1919)

Pete Seeger

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Johnny Winter

American singer and guitarist

(b. 1944)

Johnny Winter

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Glenn Cornick

British bass guitarist

(b. 1947)

Glenn Cornick

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Jack Bruce

British rock bassist

(b. 1943)

Jack Bruce

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Acker Bilk

British jazz clarinetist

(b. 1929)

Acker Bilk

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Joe Cocker

English singer

(b. 1944)

Joe Cocker

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From Politics

Zbigniew Messner

9th Prime Minister of the

People’s Republic of Poland

(b. 1929)

Zbigniew Messner

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Ariel Sharon

11th Prime Minister of Israel

(b. 1928)

Ariel Sharon

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Tony Benn

British politician and diarist

(b. 1925)

Tony Benn

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Adolfo Suárez

138th Prime Minister of Spain

(b. 1932)

Adolfo Suárez

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James R. Schlesinger

American economist and politician

(b. 1929)

James R. Schlesinger

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A. N. R. Robinson

3rd President of Trinidad and Tobago

(b. 1926)

A. N. R. Robinson

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Howard Baker

American politician and diplomat

(b. 1925)

Howard Baker

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Eduard Shevardnadze

2nd President of Georgia

(b. 1928)

Eduard Shevardnadze

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Albert Reynolds

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister)

(b. 1932)

Albert Reynolds

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Ian Paisley

British politician and

First Minister of Northern Ireland

(b. 1926)

Ian Paisley

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Nicholas Romanov

Prince of Russia

(b. 1922)

Nicholas Romanov

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Jean-Claude Duvalier

41st President of Haiti

(b. 1951)

Jean-Claude Duvalier

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John Spencer-Churchill

11th Duke of Marlborough,

British peer and educator

(b. 1926)

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough

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Gough Whitlam

21st Prime Minister of Australia

(b. 1916)

Gough Whitlam

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From Space Exploration

Valeri Kubasov

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1935)

Valeri Kubasov

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Wubbo Ockels

Dutch astronaut and physicist

(b. 1946)

Wubbo Ockels

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Henry Hartsfield

American colonel and astronaut

(b. 1933)

Henry Hartsfield

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Anatoly Berezovoy

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1942)

Anatoly Berezovoy

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From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

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Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

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Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

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Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

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Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

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Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

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Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

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Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

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Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

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Fernandão

Brazilian footballer and manager

(b. 1978)

Fernandão

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Alfredo Di Stéfano

Argentine-Spanish footballer

(b. 1926)

Alfredo-Di-Stefano-Dies-at-Age-88

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Andriy Bal

Ukrainian football player and coach

(b. 1958)

Andriy Bal

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Björn Waldegård

Swedish rally driver

(b. 1943)

Björn Waldegård

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Andrea de Cesaris

Italian race car driver

(b. 1959)

Andrea de Cesaris

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Health

  • The big health scare of 2014 that dominated the headlines was the of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa in February, that initially infected over 19,000 people and killing at least 7,000, the most severe both in terms of numbers of infections and casualties.

ebola_map Africa

  • In other news, also in February, Belgium became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age.

Politics

  • On January 1, Latvia officially adopted the Euro as its currency and became the 18th member of the Eurozone.
  • In February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, replacing him with Oleksandr Turchynov, after days of civil unrest that left around 100 people dead in Kiev. The pro-Russian unrest lead to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and an insurgency in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

President Viktor Yanukovych

  • In March, Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela, severed diplomatic and political ties with Panama, accusing it of being involved in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government.
  • Also in March, an emergency meeting, involving the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada temporarily suspended Russia from the G8.
  • In April, also in response to the Crimean crisis, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution temporarily stripping Russia of its voting rights; its rights to be represented in the Bureau of the Assembly, the PACE Presidential Committee, and the PACE Standing Committee; and its right to participate in election-observation missions.
  • The same month, United States President Barack Obama began new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting companies and individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin Obama

  • In May the Royal Thai Army overthrew the caretaker government of Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan after a failure to resolve the political unrest in Thailand.
  • Back in Europe, in June, King Juan Carlos I of Spain abdicated in favor of his son, who ascended the Spanish throne as King Felipe VI.
  • And the political year ended on a positive note, with U.S. President Barack Obama announcing the resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than half a century.

normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba

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Space

  • The major space event of 2014 happened in November when the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Philae probe successfully landed on Comet 67P, the first time in history that a spacecraft has landed on such an object.

Rosetta Philae

Sport

  • The two major world sporting events of 2014 were the XXII Olympic Winter Games, held in Sochi, Russia in February, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil, and won by Germany, during June and July.

world-cup-2014-champions-germany-trophy

  • In American sport the Super Bowl was won by the Seattle Seahawks, the MLB World Series  winners were the San Francisco Giants and in basketball the San Antonio Spurs came out on top.
  • Ice Hockey had three champions in 2014, Canada becoming Olympic champions, Russia world champions and in the NHL the Los Angeles Kings were the victors.
  • In tennis at the world famous Wimbledon Tournament in England Novak Djokovic became Men’s Singles Champion and Petra Kvitova Ladies Singles Champion, while the men’s and women’s winners of the US Open were Marin Čilić  and Serena Williams respectively.

novak-djokovic-with-wimbledon-crown

  • In Soccer, as noted above, Germany won the 2014 World Cup. The European Champions League winners were Real Madrid and the English Premiership was won by Manchester City.
  • The Formula 1 motor racing champion for 2014 was British driver Lewis Hamilton, who also picked up the award of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • In golf’s major championships, the Masters Tournament, held in April, was won by Bubba Watson by three strokes. It was his second Masters championship.
  • May saw the BMW PGA Championship where young Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy birdied the 18th hole to win by one stroke over Irishman Shane Lowry, who also birdied the 18th hole.
  • In June, U.S. Open winner was Martin Kaymer who won by eight strokes to become the first German player to win the U.S. Open, and the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year.
  • In July, the Open Championship Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy, was on top again winning by two strokes over Rickie Fowler and Sergio García. It was his third career major championship, and his first Open Championship. With the win, he became the fourth player ever of 25 years old or under to have won at least three majors.
  • In August, McIlroy was back, winning the PGA Championship by one stroke over Phil Mickelson. He was having quite a year, it was his fourth career major and his second PGA Championship.PGA Champion Rory McIlroy
  • Then in September, in the Ryder Cup, Team Europe (also including McIlroy) defeated Team USA by a score of 16½ – 11½. It was the third consecutive Ryder Cup victory for Europe, and also Europe’s fifth consecutive home victory in the Ryder Cup.

Tragedies

  • In March Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappears over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. The aircraft is presumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
  • In April Korean ferry MV Sewol capsized and sunk after an unmanageable cargo shift. More than 290 people were killed, mostly high school students.

south-korea-ferry MV Sewol

  • In May hundreds of workers were killed in mining accident in Turkey.
  • In July, Air Algérie Flight 5017 crashed in Mali, killing all 116 people on board.
  • And just a few days ago AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed, wreckage has been found off the coast of Indonesia’s Kalimantan coast.

indonesia-airplane AirAsia flight flight QZ8501 airport notice board