There was an error in this gadget

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Louisville, KY – The smiling visage of Colonel Sanders has been the face of KFC (also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) for many years. Even nearly thirty years after his death, the image of the jovial southern gentleman (Sanders himself was born in Indiana) still stands as the public face of the company he started in the midst of the great depression.

The down home feel that smiling face evokes has always served the company well. The company though, much like its fast food brethren McDonald’s and Wendy’s has used that veneer of happiness to mask its significant corporate ambitions.

The company operates hundreds of stores worldwide, and an organization that large will never be free of criticism. From wages and working conditions to environmental issues, the company has long fought off all attacks against its image and maintained that down home country feel that has served it so well for so long. Now though, they are going on the offensive.

The issue stems from an incident at a location in Atlanta, where a customer decided to bring his own food rather than eat the same as his family. As is the case with most food establishments, KFC has regulations barring outside food in any of their restaurants. A confrontation ensued and finally the police were called to settle the dispute. The customer is now suing the company claiming his civil rights were violated. The food he was eating? Chicken fried steak.

Long a southern delicacy, Chicken fried steak is a piece of tenderized steak coated in flour and fired. That recipe is exactly what the company is protesting.

In a statement on their website, the company said in part “...we would like to call for a ban on all food products falsely calling themselves chicken. It is our assertion that all foods be properly labelled to identify their true contents.”

So far, the issue has been in form of protest, though the company is not ruling out the possibility of litigation. When asked for a comment, KFC officials declined our request. Local restaurant owners were a little more interested in speaking.

“We’ve been serving chicken fried steak since we opened and we’re not going to stop now,” Daryl Hamble, owner of Hamble’s Diner in Lousiville. “It’s a staple dish here and will be here as long as I am.”

The story is the same at Southern Treats, another local restaurant. “We’re not going to be pushed around by these big corporations. They can protest, they can sue if they want. They aren’t going to stop us from running our business our way,” said owner Dwayne Heck. When asked about a potential compromise, such as changing the name, he was equally defiant. “Makes no sense to me. Sure there’s no chicken in the dish, but you could make the same argument about them. We’re not changing anything.”

In this game of chicken, no one is flinching yet.

Original here

The Gardener Made An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

So we bought a house. Much angst and suffering. We scratched up the money, but just barely. We peered deep into the eyes of the vulture-like real estate lady and signed. We learned about escrows and mortgages and points and the Brethren of the Closing, all asking for small fortunes to ensure that the Iroquois wouldn't take the land from under our (read: the bank's) investment.

Stephen Kling is a grizzled veteran of the advertising more

We handled all that without getting divorced. We did the packing and the moving and met the termite guy and the plumber and the gravel man and the tree guy. We met the neighbors and the garbage men, the mailman and the alarm guy.

The first bright and sunny morning of our new suburban adventure, I rolled out the bright red mower that the previous owner had left me. It looked brand new, still sparkling around the manifold. I rolled its chassis onto the lawn and pulled the rope a few times, just for practice. The lawn needed no mowing today, anyway. It looked very nice all by itself. I went inside to eat my lunch.

Then the doorbell rang. Wife N. answered the door, and after a few murmurs with whoever it was, she called to me.

A small man, as dessicated as a piece of beef jerky and about as thin, stood on the step, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. His eyes were like stainless steel, his skin was the color of tobacco. He wore a soiled cap and blackened pigskin gloves, holding the burnished handle of a heavy rake in one hand. Wife N. skittered away. I swallowed hard. "Y-yes?" I managed.

He slowly reached for his cigarette and flicked it into the rhodadendron bush. "I'm the gardener."

"We don't have a gardener. We just moved here. The other people moved away," I explained helpfully.

The gardener pulled back his lips in a kind of reptilian facsimile of a smile, showing his sharpened yellow teeth. He spit out a bit of tobacco and licked his lips.

"I'm the gardener," he said, as if he hadn't just said it.

"Yes, I'm sure you are the gardener, it's just that you're not our gardener, because we just moved here and...." I trailed off into an eminently reasonable tale of how we came to be living on this street on this day, all the while feeling his dead eyes drilling right through me to the faux Cotswald oak door behind.

"Mister," he said slowly. "I'm the gardener."

He looked up and down the quiet street. "I mow this lawn," he said. "I mow that lawn. And the lawn across the street. Mrs. Tagliali on the corner, I mow her lawn. Mr. Schmetterer, I mowed his lawn, until he died." I wondered what killed Mr. Schmetterer. Can coercive raking result in death?

"Uh, uh, um, what..." I replied, channelling my inner Daniel Webster. "I thought I'd, uh, do it myself, actually."

The gardener swung the rake gently to and fro. "Do it yourself? That could be very hard work," he said slowly. How does one recognize menacing behavior in gardeners? He continued with his pitch coldly. "I mow, and rake the leaves in the fall, and spread the fertilizer and the lime. This lawn, that lawn, across the street, up the block, everywhere around here. No do-it-yourself around here. Do-it-yourself could get you a heart attack."

He fished into his shirt pocket and came up with another cigarette. Unfiltered. "Sometimes they try to do-it-themselves. Things happen. Lose an eye, a finger, who knows what could happen." He gestured over to the fire-engine red mower at the garage door. "The blade can be very, very sharp." He lit his cigarette and snuffed the match with his glove.

An open-backed truck was parked at the curb. Half a dozen muscular men with tools and shovels, gas-powered leaf blowers and-for all I knew-anti-aircraft guns, stood around, arms crossed. How long would it take six men with shovels to dismember the rookie homeowner? Can you put body parts through a wood chipper? I mused on my life as mulch.

The gardener waited as I reflected on the wisdom of doing-it-myself. I looked at the gardening batallion in the street. I glanced at the new mower by the garage. Shiny red, never been used. And never would be.

"You know, we could use a gardener," I said, displaying the wisdom of the ages.

The gardener smiled his reptilian smile. A fly buzzed past us in the warming air. His tongue flicked out of his mouth and caught it faster than I could more blogs

Original here

Can You Live Without The Internet?

The internet dominates our lives about this there is no doubt. We are attached to our e-mail accounts and rely extensively on the internet for all kinds of online research and services, whether it is on health and diet, political news, fashion or food recipes.

In a study published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined the habits of 20 people who had spent more than 30 nonworking hours a week online for the past three years. The participants described skipping sleep, ignoring family responsibilities, and showing up late for work to fulfill their desire to visit chat rooms and surf the Web. The consequences were severe: Many suffered from marital problems, failed in school or lost a job, and accumulated debt.

The Internet is an amazing tool which can instantly connect you to people and information all over the world, but do you ever find yourself spending lots of time on the net, surfing for information, checking your e-mails, playing video games or watching videos on YouTube?

People have been asked what they thought was the most important item in their daily life: the computer, mobile phone or television. The majority of the readers chose their computers, followed closely by mobile phones.

A huge majority of people log on to the internet several times a day or are constantly online (either at home or in office). In terms of exact hours, the majority stay connected between 1 to 2 hours, either checking e-mails or just browsing the Net. It is evident that income may not anything to do with how much time one spends online.

E-mail usage is ubiquitous for all internet users with all but one per cent choosing it as a priority. Research and information gathering proved to be the second largest driver of internet usage. This was followed closely by news searches.

Also thoughts and ideas through messaging and chat, with some considering it a good way to make new friends. There are, however, concerns over online chat rooms being misused by unscrupulous individuals. Overall, people feel the benefits of chat far outweighed the disadvantages. When it comes to blogging, more than fifty per cent were supportive of blogs once it was explained to them. This proves online users want freedom to access information and communicate without censorship.

A lot of people shop online. Lifestyle was another major area where online purchases included clothes, health and personal goods, jewellery and watches, sports and outdoor shoes, and clothing accessories. Needless to say, women’s purchases outnumbered men’s in this category. Net is also found convenient for planning travels and hotel reservations. The higher their income, the more likely the users are to plan out their holiday on the Net.

On the question of providing personal information online, there was a polarization of opinion. Asked if people were comfortable giving out their credit card information, many said they would not give such information. The level of trust seemed to go up as income levels increased.

Now its your turn to talk, are you hooked to the internet…

Original here

ShareShare FavoriteFavorite Add to PlaylistsAdd to Playlists Flag as innapropriateFlag

In this comic by Roz Chast really sums it up nicely, for grandmas, parents and, let's be honest, sometimes even ourselves during our darkest moments of troubleshooting. It reminds me of a funny story that happened to my wife's grandma a few years back. Her television was hit by a power surge and began speaking Spanish (picking up some AM radio station probably)...even when unplugged. She later joked that the voices, temporarily muffled under a blanket, were laughing at her. We convinced her that she'd just hit the wrong button. OK, OK, we didn't. We're not that cruel.

Original here

Utrecht central station hack - subtitled

5.5 Terapixel Camera?

That’s right… each picture holds more information than your BRAIN TIMES THREE!

Original here

The Day After Valentine's

Original here

John Cleese’s “Letter to America”

Dear Citizens of America,

In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour’, ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise.”

3. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’; you may elect to spell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you find you simply can’t cope with correct pronunciation.

4. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up “vocabulary”). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

5. There is no such thing as “US English.” We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize.”

6. You will relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”,
but only after fully carrying out Task #1 (see above).

7. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will
be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called “Come-Uppance Day.”

8. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

9. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

10. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

11. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables… Both roundabouts and metrification will help you understand the British sense of humour.

12. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling “gasoline”) - roughly $8/US per gallon. Get used to it.

13. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call french fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with malt vinegar.

14. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

15. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer,” and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager.” American brands will be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

16. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors as English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one’s ear removed with a cheese grater.

17. You will cease playing American “football.” There is only one kind of proper football; you call it “soccer”. Those of you brave enough, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a
bunch of Jessies - English slang for “Big Girls Blouse”).

18. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the “World Series” for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable and forgiven.

19. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

20. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due, backdated to 1776.

Thank you for your co-operation.
John Cleese
Original here