Sorry Elvis, You May As Well Come Back Home!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

We all know politicians and their bureaucratic lap dogs are stupid. We also know that they fanny around trying to find ways to steal more of our money and then waste it on laws and other interference we neither want nor need.

But sometimes their efforts are just staggeringly unnecessary and stupid.

Did you know, for example, that the morons in the US Congress wasted time, money, energy, not to mention paper and ink, discussing and clarifying that any income earned by U.S. residents while in space would be subject to U.S. taxes!

residents while in space would be subject to U.S. taxes

During the Apollo missions we already witnessed the nonsensical spectacle of national heroes like Neil Armstrong having to be processed through US Customs and Immigration when they returned from the Moon. Talk about bureaucratic jobsworth claptrap!

Now the idiots in Congress have declared that colonists on Mars, of whom there are currently, and for the foreseeable future, none, zero and nil, will be taxed on the income they earn while en route to, and living on, the Red Planet. I suppose to continue the madness, the US authorities will try to make the Martians themselves  –  if we find any  –  subject to US taxes too!

It’s enough to make you get your antennae in a tangle!

It’s all because the US government is broke and because it wants to have total control over its citizens (not the uber rich ones, of course, they can do whatever they want). Unlike most countries, the United States uses a ‘worldwide’ system of taxation, under which it taxes all income earned by U.S. citizens and residents, regardless of where it is earned.

The arrogance of a ‘worldwide’ catchment is apparently not enough, now America thinks it must have a ‘pan-galactic’ tax system.

tax burden

At seven times the size of the humongous novel ‘War and Peace’, and at around four million words and counting, the US Tax Code is already monstrously over-sized, but with the whole Universe to cater for it’s only going to get bigger and more complicated. For example, I foresee vast sections trying to explain how to cater for an Earth year of 365 days being factored into a Martian year of 687 days.

Make that getting your antennae in a knot rather than just a tangle.

But no doubt the bureaucrats back on Earth are already salivating at the prospect of drafting even more crap.

As for those with Martian ambitions?

Sorry Elvis, you might as well come back home. We miss you!

Elvis on Mars

.

==========================

.

More WMDs?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

womd2

Apparently recent reports from Western intelligence sources indicate that the government of Syria is in the process of constructing a new secret nuclear plant aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

I say ‘apparently’ because we all know that the Western Governments, particularly the United States and Britain, are in the habit of telling lies.

But, assuming this time they are telling the truth, the question I want to ask is not, ‘are the Syrians building a new nuclear weapons facility?’, but rather, ‘why are they bothering to try to build one?’.

They attempted it before but, just after midnight (local time) on September 6, 2007, Israeli bombers destroyed the facility in an air attack. That site was called ‘al-Kibar’, located 20 miles from Deir el-Zor in eastern Syria. Here are the before and after photos.

Syrian_Reactor_Before_After

The giveaway that the Israelis had got it right lay in the fact that the Syrian government has never commented or protested about the incident. If they hadn’t been up to something dodgy the Syrian propaganda machine would have been telling the whole world about the unprovoked Israeli aggression, you can be sure of that.

Not ones to learn a lesson quickly, the Syrians were at it again in late 2008, trying to produce plutonium aided and abetted by North Korea, which is always keen to promote nuclear weapons development in countries hostile to the West, having for some unknown reason been allowed to develop them themselves.

This time the plutonium producing supplies aren’t heading for al-Kibar which is just a hole in the ground. Instead they are supposed to be going to a facility being constructed in the southwest of Syria in a remote mountainous region near the small town of Al-Qusayr.

That’s just about two miles from the northern Lebanese border and close to the area controlled by the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which is supposed to be guarding the plant with ‘elite units’. The construction project is also being assisted by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

While the project is still in construction I’m sure the Israelis will let the Syrians continue to waste their time and money.

When it nears completion, and the capability to produce bomb quality material, then listen out for another big bang preceding another big expensive hole in the ground.

Israeli bombers

================================

.

 

 

Democracy Or Idiocracy?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

democracy canceled

Have you ever wondered how the United States of America has managed to accumulate debt of $18 trillion and rising?

Part of the answer is pretty easy really.

The country is being run by people who can’t count. By people who do not realize that you cannot indefinitely live beyond your means.

Try doing what the government does at home and see how far you get? You can’t print money (legally) as a short-stop measure so the effect on you will be immediate. You’ll go broke!

The government and has been printing billions and billions of dollars, but all this has done is to postpone the inevitable and pass on the problem to future generations.

But not being able to count is just one part of what’s wrong. It’s a big part, but it does not tell the whole story.

What is also wrong is the amount of money that the government and their stupid minions waste.

A small, but good, example of this was accidentally uncovered during the 2014 investigation into the handling of interrogations of terrorists by American intelligence agencies.

Here we discovered that $81 million of taxpayer money had been paid to a pair of so-called ‘psychologists’ who were at the head of these interrogations.

Not only that, but it turned out that neither of these two people had any prior knowledge of al-Qaeda, no experience in interrogation techniques and no background in counter terrorism.

That’s zero experience on all three counts!

To add insult to injury, they were also promised an additional $5 million in indemnity costs to cover all legal expenses for any potential criminal investigation and prosecution through 2021 as well as paid more than $1 million individually.

This sort of idiocy permeates all sections of government. The waste is colossal. So colossal that the tax paying public very seldom, if ever, gets to hear about it. And if and when they do it is invariably too late to do anything about it. The money is gone. Wasted!

That’s part of the reason the United States imposes the world’s highest corporate tax rates and why it is one of the few countries in the world to impose a “worldwide tax” on domestic firms and on its citizens.

America likes to try to impose ‘democracy’ on other nations in the world, especially the ones that don’t understand it and don’t want it.

But with ‘democracy’ should come ‘accountability’.

Clearly is does not.

Therefore the system we really have is an ‘idiocracy’, not a ‘democracy’.

Let’s start and call it what it is. It’s a much more appropriate name for what is going on!

.

idiocracy poster

=====================================

 

 

FAREWELL 2014

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

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.

.

farewell 2014

.

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

.

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

.

.

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

.

P. D. James

British writer and life peer

(b. 1920)

P. D. James

.

From Movies & TV

Roger Lloyd-Pack

British actor

(b. 1944)

Roger Lloyd-Pack

.

Maximilian Schell

Austrian-Swiss actor

(b. 1930)

Maximilian Schell

.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

American actor

(b. 1967)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

.

Shirley Temple

American actress and diplomat

(b. 1928)

shirley_temple

.

Sid Caesar

American actor

(b. 1922)

Sid Caesar

.

Harold Ramis

American film director,

writer, and actor

(b. 1944)

Harold Ramis

.

Mickey Rooney

American actor

(b. 1920)

Mickey Rooney

.

Bob Hoskins

British actor

(b. 1942)

Bob Hoskins

.

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

American actor

(b. 1918)

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

.

Rik Mayall

British comedian,

writer and actor

(b. 1958)

Rik Mayall

.

Casey Kasem

American radio host

and voice actor

(b. 1932)

Casey Kasem

.

Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

.

Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

.

James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

.

Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

.

Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

.

Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

.

Richard Attenborough

British actor and film director

(b. 1923)

Richard Attenborough

.

Joan Rivers

American comedian, actress,

and television host

(b. 1933)

Joan Rivers

.

Richard Kiel

American actor (b. 1939)

Richard Kiel

.

Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

.

Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

.

Warren Clarke

English actor

(b. 1947)

Warren-Clarke

.

Glen A. Larson

American television producer

and writer

(b. 1937)

Glen A. Larson

.

Virna Lisi

Italian actress

(b. 1936)

Virna Lisi

.

Billie Whitelaw

English actress

(b. 1932)

Billie Whitelaw

.

Luise Rainer

Golden Age actress

“The Great Ziegfeld”

(b. 1910)

Luise Rainer with oscars

.

.

From Music

Pete Seeger

American singer, songwriter,

musician, and activist

(b. 1919)

Pete Seeger

.

Johnny Winter

American singer and guitarist

(b. 1944)

Johnny Winter

.

Glenn Cornick

British bass guitarist

(b. 1947)

Glenn Cornick

.

Jack Bruce

British rock bassist

(b. 1943)

Jack Bruce

.

Acker Bilk

British jazz clarinetist

(b. 1929)

Acker Bilk

.

Joe Cocker

English singer

(b. 1944)

Joe Cocker

.

From Politics

Zbigniew Messner

9th Prime Minister of the

People’s Republic of Poland

(b. 1929)

Zbigniew Messner

.

Ariel Sharon

11th Prime Minister of Israel

(b. 1928)

Ariel Sharon

.

Tony Benn

British politician and diarist

(b. 1925)

Tony Benn

.

Adolfo Suárez

138th Prime Minister of Spain

(b. 1932)

Adolfo Suárez

.

James R. Schlesinger

American economist and politician

(b. 1929)

James R. Schlesinger

.

A. N. R. Robinson

3rd President of Trinidad and Tobago

(b. 1926)

A. N. R. Robinson

.

Howard Baker

American politician and diplomat

(b. 1925)

Howard Baker

.

Eduard Shevardnadze

2nd President of Georgia

(b. 1928)

Eduard Shevardnadze

.

Albert Reynolds

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister)

(b. 1932)

Albert Reynolds

.

Ian Paisley

British politician and

First Minister of Northern Ireland

(b. 1926)

Ian Paisley

.

Nicholas Romanov

Prince of Russia

(b. 1922)

Nicholas Romanov

.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

41st President of Haiti

(b. 1951)

Jean-Claude Duvalier

.

John Spencer-Churchill

11th Duke of Marlborough,

British peer and educator

(b. 1926)

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough

.

Gough Whitlam

21st Prime Minister of Australia

(b. 1916)

Gough Whitlam

.

From Space Exploration

Valeri Kubasov

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1935)

Valeri Kubasov

.

Wubbo Ockels

Dutch astronaut and physicist

(b. 1946)

Wubbo Ockels

.

Henry Hartsfield

American colonel and astronaut

(b. 1933)

Henry Hartsfield

.

Anatoly Berezovoy

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1942)

Anatoly Berezovoy

.

From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

.

Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

.

Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

.

Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

.

Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

.

Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

.

Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

.

Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

.

Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

.

Fernandão

Brazilian footballer and manager

(b. 1978)

Fernandão

.

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Argentine-Spanish footballer

(b. 1926)

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

.

Andriy Bal

Ukrainian football player and coach

(b. 1958)

Andriy Bal

.

Björn Waldegård

Swedish rally driver

(b. 1943)

Björn Waldegård

.

Andrea de Cesaris

Italian race car driver

(b. 1959)

Andrea de Cesaris

.

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

.

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

 

Fasab’s Fascinating Festive Facts

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Hi, and welcome to fasab’s fascinating festive facts.

Everything on my blog this week is in Christmas mode including these tidbits of information that you may be able to work into the conversation if you are at a party or two this week.

Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas.

.

festive facts

.

The traditional three colors of Christmas

are green, red, and gold.

Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth;

red symbolizes the blood of Christ,

and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.

traditional three colors of Christmas

.

.

The first printed reference to a

Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.

Christmas_Tree

.

.

Apparently seven out of ten British dogs

get Christmas gifts from their doting owners.

dogs get Christmas gifts

.

.

A lot of people don’t like it,

but the abbreviation of ‘Xmas’ for

Christmas is not irreligious.

The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi,

which is identical to our X.

Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation

that was used in tables and charts.

Xmas for Christmas

.

.

Electric Christmas lights

were first used in 1854.

edison-ad-christmas-lights1

.

.

Some people who were born on December 25

feel hard done by because they have to

make do with one present instead of two

and share their big day celebrations with everybody else.

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island,

recognized the problem. When he died on December 4, 1894,

he willed his November 13 birthday to a friend

who disliked her own Christmas birthday

Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island

.

.

Franklin Pierce was the first president to

decorate an official White House Christmas tree.

white-house-christmas-tree

.

.

Silent Night was written in 1818,

by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.

He was told the day before Christmas

that the church organ was broken

and would not be repaired in time for Christmas Eve.

.

.

Artificial Christmas trees

have outsold real ones since 1991.

Artificial Christmas tree

.

.

In the British armed forces it is traditional

that officers wait on the other ranks

and serve them their Christmas dinner.

This dates back to a custom from the Middle Ages.

British armed forces Christmas dinner

.

.

Long before mistletoe became a saucy ‘kiss encourager’,

it was considered to have magic powers.

It was said to have the ability to heal

wounds and increase fertility.

Celts hung mistletoe in their homes

in order to bring themselves good luck

and ward off evil spirits.

mistletoe

.

.

Each year there are approximately 20,000

“rent-a-Santas” across the United States.

“Rent-a-Santas” usually undergo seasonal training

on how to maintain a jolly attitude

under pressure from the public.

They also receive practical advice,

such as not accepting money from parents

while children are looking and

avoiding garlic, onions, or beans for lunch.

rent-a-Santa

.

.

In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea,

your age is measured not in years

but in how many Christmases you’ve lived through;

you’re not 20, you’re twenti krismas.

Rather less charmingly,

the Japanese expression to describe

single women over 25 years old is

kurisumasu keiki – left-over Christmas cake.

Port_Moresby__Papua_New_Guinea

.

.

Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names,

such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid.

However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas,

so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh

are likely not male, but female –  or castrati.  

(I wonder if that is the origin of hanging balls

on a Christmas tree comes from?)

Santa’s reindeer

.

.

The popular Christmas song “Jingle Bells”

was actually written for Thanksgiving.

The song was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont,

and was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh”.

.

.

=======================================

.

 

Would You Take The Bubble Baba Challenge?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

We’ll find out later whether or not you would take the Bubble Baba Challenge.

In the meantime have a look at this week’s selection of facts.

Enjoy.

.

facts 02

.

Harry Potter shares the same birth day

as his creator J K Rowling,

his is July 31, 1980 and

Rowling’s July 31, 1966.

Harry Potter

.

.

A Yew tree located in the churchyard of

the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland,

is estimated to be 3,000 – 5,000 years old

which many believe makes it Europe´s oldest tree.

With its massive trunk of 52 feet (16 meters) in diameter,

the yew is still in good health and may last for many more centuries.

Yew tree located in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland

.

Thames Town is a little town situated in the heart of China

that is an imitation of a classic British city

with traditional English architecture, cuisine,

and even those classic red phone booths

we all identify with London.

Thames Town, China

.

Still in China, “The Great Wall of China”

did not get that official name

until the end of the 19th Century.

Previously it had been known by names

such as “barrier”, “rampart”, “fortress”,  

“Purple Frontier” or “Earth Dragon”.

The Great Wall of China 5

.

The United States has had some remarkable successes

in the field of space flight and exploration.

However it wasn’t always that way.

The very first time they tried to launch a satellite into orbit,

on December 6, 1957 (Vanguard TV3),

the rocket lost thrust only 4 feet (1.2 m) above the launch pad

and fell back to the ground, its fuel tanks

rupturing and creating a massive fireball,

damaging the launch pad and destroying the rocket.

Due to limited data measurement methods in these early days,

though, the cause was never fully determined.

Vanguard TV3 failed launch

.

If you like Vodka then look out for a bottle of

“The Billionare Vodka“,

the world´s most expensive vodka.

It is first ice-filtered, then filtered through

Nordic birch charcoal and lastly passed

through sand made from crushed diamonds and gems.

It is sold in a platinum and rhodium encased,

diamond encrusted crystal bottle and

will set you back only $3.75 million dollars.

Cheers!

The Billionare Vodka

.

No more time in the joint for smoking a joint,

at least not in the U.S. state of Washington,

the first state to officially legalize cannabis

in a state law in December 2012,

with the state of Colorado following close behind.

DC-US-Statue-Liberty-Smoking-Joint

.

Ant queens can live for up to 30 years,

about 100 times longer than solitary insects of a similar size.

Workers live from 1 to 3 years.

Ant queen

.

Eight US Presidents were born British subjects:

Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison,

Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, and W. Harrison.

Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams

.

Jim the horse, a former milk wagon horse,

was responsible for curing diphtheria.

He was infected with diphtheria

but unlike other animals he didn’t die.

Doctors found that Jim’s immune system

was able to create antibodies to fight the disease

and this allowed doctors to make a serum for humans,

with great success, helping to save the lives

of millions of humans and animals around the world.

Jim the horse

.

Al ‘Wallpaper’ Wolff is best remembered

as having been the last surviving member

of the group of eleven federal law-enforcement agents,

led by Eliot Ness, known as the Untouchables.

Wolff was the fearless agent and a ferocious

persecutor of those who obtained illegal alcohol.

Strangely, once he retired from law enforcement

and alcohol was legal he got involved in

the cocktail lounge business in Chicago.

He died in March 1998 at the age of 95.

Al 'Wallpaper' Wolff

.

In 1827, world famous author Edgar Allan Poe

enlisted in the United States Army

using the false name “Edgar A. Perry”.

He claimed to be 22 years old

even though he was just 18.

Edgar Allan Poe young

.

James Dean’s silver Porsche 550 Spyder,

the car he died in following an accident in 1955,

was known as the “Little Bastard”

and said to be cursed.

After it was sold for parts,

the car fell and crushed a mechanic’s legs;

later, a doctor who bought the car’s engine

was killed in a car accident;

another victim who bought the transmission

was severely injured in a crash;

the tires sold from Little Bastard

blew out simultaneously,

sending their buyer to the hospital;

and lastly a truck carrying the car’s shell crashed,

killing the driver.

Hmmmm….

James Dean’s silver Porsche 550 Spyder

.

The Bird´s Nest Restaurant, located in

the Soneva Kiri Eco Resort in Thailand,

gives the customers privacy,

as well as the unique opportunity to

admire spectacular views while dining.

Tree nests hang 16 feet above the ground

and are served by waiters who use a zip line

to deliver the food and drinks.

A typical dinner for two costs about $450.

Birds-Nest-Restaurant-01

.

Finally, time for those of a nervous disposition to look away.

Officially known as the “Bubble Baba Challenge”,

this is an unusual (to say the least) sporting event

where participants float down a river

embracing a rubber woman.

The idea was apparently dreamt up

by a Russian, Dmitry Bulawinov,

initially as a joke at a party

where the men got drunk! 

(It could have been worse!)

.

.

=========================================

.

Time To Give Thanks For The Thanksgiving Quiz!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Hello and welcome to another week at the fasab blog.

This week, for obvious reason, I’m on a Thanksgiving theme, so this week’s quiz is not the usual random mixture, but all about Thanksgiving and, of course, turkeys.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

.

Turkey-Holding-Quiz-Sign

.

Q.  1:  When was the first Thanksgiving celebration?

            a) 1535          b) 1598          c) 1621          d) 1686          e) 1751

.

.

Q.  2:  What are the respective names of a female and a male turkey?  (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

.

.

Q.  3:  Which U.S. president specified that Thanksgiving would fall on the last Thursday of November?

.

.

Q.  4:  Which U.S. President attempted to move the Thanksgiving holiday to the fourth Thursday in November to create a longer Christmas shopping season?

.

.

Q.  5:  What are the respective sounds made by a female and a male turkey?  (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

.

.

Q.  6:  What Native American tribe celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the colonists?

            a)  Lakota            b) Apache          c) Wampanoag          d) Blackfoot

.

.

Q.  7:  Approximately what percentage of American homes eats turkey on a) Thanksgiving and b) Christmas? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

.

.

Q.  8:  A three part, and possibly three point question, a) is Thanksgiving celebrated in any country other than the United States, and b) if so where, and c) when?  (A point for each correct answer.)

.

.

Q.  9:  Which US state produces the most turkeys annually?

            a)  Ohio          b)  Indiana          c)  Minnesota          d)  Arkansas

.

.

Q. 10:  The name of the famous rock where the pilgrims landed?

.

.

Q. 11:  Where was the turkey first domesticated?

.

.

Q. 12:  The original Thanksgiving lasted for how long?

           a)  1 day          b)  3 days          c)  5 days          d)  7 days

.

.

Q. 13:  Which vegetable did the pilgrims have available for Thanksgiving but did not use because they thought it was poisonous?

.

.

Q. 14:  What American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?

.

.

Q. 15:  What was the first departmental store that held a Thanksgiving parade?

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck?

.

.

Q. 17:  What do you call the day after Thanksgiving?

.

.

Q. 18:  The inhabitants of which state are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States?

.

.

Q. 19:  How many pilgrims were on the Mayflower and how long was the voyage from England to the New World? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

.

.

Q. 20:  Which country consumes the most turkey per year per capita?

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

ANSWERS

.

Q.  1:  When was the first Thanksgiving celebration?

            a) 1535          b) 1598          c) 1621          d) 1686          e) 1751

A.  1:  The correct answer is c) 1621.

.

.

Q.  2:  What are the respective names of a female and a male turkey?  (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

A.  2:  A female turkey is a ‘hen’ and a male is a ‘tom’.

.

.

Q.  3:  Which U.S. president specified that Thanksgiving would fall on the last Thursday of November?

A.  3:  Abraham Lincoln.

.

.

Q.  4:  Which U.S. President attempted to move the Thanksgiving holiday to the fourth Thursday in November to create a longer Christmas shopping season?

A.  4:  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

.

.

Q.  5:  What are the respective sounds made by a female and a male turkey?  (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

A.  5:  A female turkey says ‘cluck’ and a male turkey says ‘gobble’.

.

.

Q.  6:  What Native American tribe celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the colonists?

            a)  Lakota            b) Apache          c) Wampanoag          d) Blackfoot

A.  6:  the Wampanoag tribe.

.

.

Q.  7:  Approximately what percentage of American homes eats turkey on a) Thanksgiving and b) Christmas? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

A.  7:  a) 90% of American homes eats turkey on Thanksgiving and b) 50% at Christmas.

.

.

Q.  8:  A three part, and possibly three point question, a) is Thanksgiving celebrated in any country other than the United States and b) if so where and c) when?  (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  8:  Correct answers are,  a) Yes   b) in Canada, and   c) on the second Monday of October.

.

.

Q.  9:  Which US state produces the most turkeys annually?

            a)  Ohio          b)  Indiana          c)  Minnesota          d)  Arkansas

A.  9:  The correct answer is  c)  Minnesota.

.

.

Q. 10:  The name of the famous rock where the pilgrims landed?

A. 10:  Plymouth Rock.

.

.

Q. 11:  Where was the turkey first domesticated?

A. 11:  Mexico and Central America. (A point for either answer.)

.

.

Q. 12:  The original Thanksgiving lasted for how long?

            a)  1 day          b)  3 days          c)  5 days          d)  7 days

A. 12:  The correct answer is b)  3 days.

.

.

Q. 13:  Which vegetable did the pilgrims have available for Thanksgiving but did not use because they thought it was poisonous?

A. 13:  Potatoes.

.

.

Q. 14:  What American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?

A. 14:  Benjamin Franklin.

.

.

Q. 15:  What was the first departmental store that held a Thanksgiving parade?

A. 15:  It was Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia, in 1920.

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck?

A. 16:  It is called a ‘wattle’.

.

.

Q. 17:  What do you call the day after Thanksgiving?

A. 17:  It is known as ‘Black Friday’.

.

.

Q. 18:  The inhabitants of which state are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States?

A. 18:  Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.

.

.

Q. 19:  How many pilgrims were on the Mayflower and how long was the voyage from England to the New World? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them both right.)

A. 19:  102 Pilgrims made the journey and it took them 66 days.

.

.

Q. 20:  Which country consumes the most turkey per year per capita?

A. 20:  Israel.

.

================================================

.

J.F.K.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Fifty-one years ago today the United States 35th President, John F Kennedy, was assassinated at Dealy Plaza, in Dallas, Texas. We all know the story and the various conspiracy theories that have been written about ad nauseam over the past half century so this post is not about that.

Rather it is about one of the legacies of the JFK name, the USS John F Kennedy, the only ship of her class (a variant of the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carrier) and the last conventionally powered carrier built for the United States Navy.

Although it was retired in 2007 after nearly 40 years of service in the United States Navy, the Kennedy was a very impressive ship. For those who like the details it measures 1,052 feet long, has a beam of 130 feet, and draws 37 feet of water. The flight deck is 1,046 feet by 252 feet.

The JFK displaces 81,430 tons at full load and her compliment is 155 officers, 2,775 enlisted (ship’s company), and 2,160 enlisted and 320 officers (embarked air wing).

it’s top speed is 32 knots, and her cruising speed is 20 knots. The operational range at 30 knots is 4,000 miles while the maximum cruising range is 12,000 miles.

USS JFK is equipped with 4 aircraft elevators and features 4 steam-powered catapults and 4 arresting wires. The carrier was capable of launching and recovering aircraft simultaneously and could embark 80+ aircraft, depending on mission requirements.

Aircraft on board included 56 F/A-18 hornet strike fighters, 6 S-3B Viking ASW aircraft, 4 EA-6B Prowler offensive electronic warfare aircraft, 4 E-2C Hawkeye electronic early warning aircraft, 2 ES-3A Shadow electronic warfare (SIGINT) aircraft, 4 SH-60F Seahawk ASW helicopters, and 2 HH-60H Seahawk combat search and rescue aircraft.

Its armaments included two Mk 29 Sea Sparrow Guided Missile Launch Systems, two RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) systems, and two Mk 15 Phalanx 20mm CIWS (Close In Weapon System.)

During it’s service it was stationed some of the time in the Mediterranean area.

If you have never seen one of these babies up close and personal and wanted to get an idea of just how big and impressive they are have a look at the aeriel photograph below, taken as the JFK berthed at the island of Malta.

Compared to the houses, cars and people you can see in the shot I’m not sure the word ‘big’ is big enough to describe it.

I mean I wouldn’t want to mess with it. Would you?

.

uss jfk in malta

====================================================

Let’s Hear It For The Bureaucrats!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

In a post way back on July 20 that I called “Why Are The Bureaucrats Destroying What Made America Great?”, I highlighted the fact that the giant American pharmaceutical company Abbvie was planning to relocate to the UK in an effort to get away from punishing US taxes. (Click here if you want to read it.)

I also said that by abandoning the business friendly environment that had made it the wealthiest nation on Earth, the bureaucrats in the United States were creating a hostile place to try to do business to the extend that a growing number were leaving.

Ahem…. better make that, ‘trying to leave’.

Because rather than trying to make the US a more attractive place to do business, Obama’s bureaucrats have instead decided it to make it more difficult for them to leave.

The US government introduced new legislation recently which effectively put an end to the biggest corporate takeover of the year.

In the wake of new rules penalizing inversions, the Illinois based pharmaceutical giant, AbbVie, has walked away from its bid to acquire Shire, the Irish drug maker, for $54 billion blaming “….impact of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s unilateral changes to the tax rules”.

AbbVie will have to pay Shire a breakup fee of $1.6 billion, which is effectively money down the drain.

So who benefits thanks to this new legislation?

No one!

Let’s hear it for the bureaucrats!

abbvie-next-big-loser-in-tax-inversion-race

.

===================================

.

Okay, I Give Up – Show Me The Money!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

 

money

I know it isn’t quiz day today, but this is just a short post to ask one very pertinent question – one that deserves an answer.

Quantitative Easing ended on Wednesday past.

QE was the media tag given to the process whereby the US Federal Reserve has printed $3.6 trillion over the past few years.

Quantitative Easing

The Bank of England did it in Britain too, and so did the European Central Bank for the European Union.

So where did all that money go?

I didn’t get any of it.

Did you?

But it must have gone somewhere.

Someone must have got it.

So where is it now?

If you know the answer please do tell. I, and I am sure many other people, would be interested in the answer.

.

.
==================================================

.