Thursday, August 4, 2016

2011 Technology Trends: "Out with the Old and In with the New"

The start of 2011 promised to be a transformational year for technology. Intel CEO Paul Ottelini mentioned in his speech at last year’s Intel Capital CEO Summit that this was going to be the year for continued growth in desktops, laptops, netbooks, personal devices (tablets), smartphones and smart TVs.

In less than 11 months, we’ve seen his prediction of growth right in someways and off the mark in others.

What happened to netbooks and Smart TVs?

The netbook market failed to excite buyers with underpowered processors. Consumers turned to tablets, mostly Apple’s iPads. Intel announced record earnings in 2011. Their data showed growth in desktops and laptops that came mostly from emerging countries, with flat or declining sales in mature markets.

Smart TVs from Google and Sony floundered and didn’t gain a foothold with buyers. Despite the hoopla about Internet connectivity and the promise of a new experience, consumers viewed televisions as static objects for viewing rather than an interactive happening.

iPads and ebooks dominate

In a market once dominated by Intel and Microsoft, the real growth in technology devices was driven by Apple. Amazon and Barnes and Noble entered the fray by marketing and selling updated versions of ebooks that featured table-like capabilities. Amazon’s Kindle Fire immediately impacted Apple’s market share. The Cupertino-based company still has over 65% of the market. The Fire, selling for $199 compared to $499 for the lowest cost iPad, now holds just under 14% of the market. It took share away from Samsung and Apple, as both saw their percentages decrease.

HP and RIM launched their own tablets, and both failed miserably. Despite these setbacks, Lenovo is planning to release an Android-based tablet that’s slated for the consumer and enterprise markets. A Windows version running Windows 8 should hit the streets in early 2012.

Android smarphones surge

Android smartphones from HTC and others proved be popular with users. Microsoft-based phones lagged behind the competition. The software giant joined forces with Nokia in an attempt to regain relevance in an ever-changing environment. With Nokia now working with Microsoft, Intel announced a desire to partner with Samsung.

If 2011 was a sign of continued transformation, 2012 should be equally dynamic with new entrants and challenges for “old technology” firms.

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2011 Subaru Legacy Review

The 2011 Subaru Legacyoffers a mid-size sedan platform in a wide range of performance levels from comfortable daily driving to engaging performance or elegant luxury. The 2011 Subaru Legacy offers standard all-wheel drive and above average performance in a fairly large package.


The all-wheel-drive 2011 Subaru Legacy offers a variety of engines and transmissions. The base 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission (which includes a hill-holder feature) is standard on the base 2.5i and 2.5i Premium, while a CVT is optional on those models and standard on the 2.5i Limited. With the CVT, a 2.5i went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with the CVT. The base model with the automatic transmission gets up to 31 miles-per-gallon on the highway: the six-cylinder model averages 25. Granted, the bigger engine produces forty percent more horsepower. But a difference of six miles-per-gallon on the highway shortens the driving range on a 12.5-gallon tank of gas by 75 miles.


Standard features include a tilt-and-slide sunroof, leather interior, heated front seats, six CD tuner with RDS and six speakers, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, cruise control, an automatic activation for wipers and headlights. A voice activated GPS system with backup camera, iPod, USB, hands-free phone and Bluetooth streaming audio. Also available is a voice-activated navigation system with an 8-inch multifunctional screen, a rear-vision camera, and a DVD player. Legacy offers more total passenger room (2.91 cubic metres or 103 cu. ft.) than many competitors with more hip, shoulder, and head room as well as a large trunk. By itself, achieving a large trunk is significant, since the Legacy’s AWD layout requires packaging a rear differential and drive axles.


The 2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R base trim adds as standard 17-inch alloy wheels, dual chrome exhaust tips and driver’s window with auto up/down, in addition to all the standard features of the base 2.5i. The all-disc braking system, with ABS and EBD (Electric Brake-force Distribution) as standard, has a linear feel with retardation corresponding closely to applied brake pedal pressure. A redesigned master cylinder gives a 30% faster response to driver inputs on the brake pedal. Legacy’s standard equipment includes front seat-mounted side impact air bags and side curtain air bags that offer head protection for front and rear occupants. Legacy models are also equipped with the Subaru Advanced Frontal Airbag System.

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2011 Taste of Tacoma

June 24-26 2011

Point Defiance Park in Tacoma

Friday and Saturday 11a.m ‘” 9p.m

Sunday 11a.m – 8p.m

This summer is around the corner and that means the 26th annual Taste of Tacoma. Presented by the Emerald Queen Casino and Hotel (the entertainment capital of the Northwest), this summer’s festival will include live Mixed Martial Arts, Randy Travis, Darius Rucker, Sinbad, and various others. And you even get to choose from a wide variety of meals to enjoy with your entire family. Happening on the weekend of June 24th, and located at the famous Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, near the Point Defiance Zoo by the Tacoma Waterfront.

Last year’s Taste of Tacoma had more than thirty restaurants show up for people to sample their entree’s. They had every meal and dish you could possibly imagine. From Alligator to Gyro’s, the plates came from in every flavor and recipe that belonged to everyone culture in the world. Every year there is a different turnout with live entertainment, and 2011’s year will have a great display of performers this summer. Along with this dinner and a show that’s great for the family and lasts all weekend, there is also a wine tasting for the adults that takes place every year as well.

Parking can range anywhere between $5 and $10 dollars for the day and the admission for Taste of Tacoma is free. There are sample, meal, and plate prices when trying to food. These prices range from $3 a sample to $7 a plate. Sampling the wine for adult’s, ranges around $12 to $15. There is no smoking at the park and the same goes for pets; only in the pet designated areas around the park are where the pets allowed. For more information go to or call 425-283-5050.


Full Flavor at Taste of Tacoma this Weekend 2010. Tacoma News Tribune. By Sue Kidd and Ernest Jasmin

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2011 Super Bowl Ratings Record Setting for NFL and Fox; Super Bowl XLV Most Watched Ever

The 2011 Super Bowl ratings are coming in, and they are record-breaking. These 2011 Super Bowl ratings make it the most watched game in the history of the NFL, at least according to statistics in the United States. Before Super Bowl XLV, it was 1987’s Super Bowl XXI that had set the new standard for being the most watched Super Bowl of all time. That Super Bowl saw the New York Giants take on the Denver Broncos for the championship.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the ratings came in at a 47.9, an amazing number for Fox and the NFL to have achieved. It looks like quite a few football fans wanted to see who could win the championship between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That this has become the most watched Super Bowl in history is actually surprising, though, because neither of these teams is from one of the biggest markets in the country. Still, the Packers and Steelers fans are pretty loyal, and their fans are each spread across several states.

The rating is a measure of the percentage of televisions that are tuned into a specific program, and getting close to a 50 ratings is astonishing. The Super Bowl is regularly the most watched program of any given television year, but the ratings haven’t been as good as before over the past few years.

In contrast, the total number of viewers has increased, in part because of population increases, but also because of more televisions out there. As such, the number of total people watching the Super Bowl increases each year, even if the total rating doesn’t show a marked increase.

The 2010 Super Bowl ratings revealed that about 106 million people watched the big event, a number that was record breaking at the time. Now the 2011 Super Bowl has come along and set a new high-water mark for Fox, something that CBS probably hopes they can surpass when they host the big game over the next two years.

Keeping those numbers in mind, EW stated that the final viewer numbers look to be a 3 percent increase over the prior number. Using a basis of that 106 million mark from 2010, it looks like the final viewer numbers will come in at around 110 million total for Super Bowl 2011. Quite a mark in the record books indeed.

More From YCN:




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2011 Texas Straight Talk - Super Congress a Gift to K Street - Congressman Ron Paul

2011 Texas Straight Talk – Super Congress A Gift to K Street – Congressman Ron Paul

The Super Congress created by the recent debt ceiling increase deal is a typical example of something nefarious attached to a bigger bill that is rushed through Congress without giving Members ample opportunity to consider the full ramifications. This commission may turn into an early Christmas present for the well-heeled lobbyists of K Street. This is because the commission presents a huge opportunity for lobbying firms to sneak their client’s pet projects and issues into whatever legislation is created by the commission. The fact that automatic cuts to defense are named if the committee deadlocks simply signals to the military industrial complex to bring their A game to the lobbying effort.

One red flag I am constantly aware of in my position as a Congressman is that highly complex and convoluted legislation frequently has dangerous provisions hidden in the fine print. Elaborate legislative packages force lawmakers to take the bad with the good, and often if they refuse, they are accused of voting against the positive provision – never mind the blatant Constitutional violations in the bill, the spending, the waste, and the unchecked expansion of government. I don’t usually have to read too much of a bill like that before encountering something unconstitutional, or simply unwise. Then I have to vote no.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with a majority of legislators, unfortunately. In order to ram through one special interest’s favorable treatment or giveaway, a certain amount of horse-trading is done. The end result is mammoth bills with myriads of unrelated provisions that favor those with the best lobbyists at the expense of everyone else.

The creation of a 12 member committee to preside over $1.5 trillion in spending decisions, and the exclusion of the rest of Congress also means lobbying firms can focus their efforts on an anointed few, which is certainly more manageable for them than having to deal with the entire Congress. Every cut considered will, of course, have a recipient on the other end whose livelihood is being threatened. The probable outcome is that any cuts realized will be more a function of lobbying prowess than the merits or demerits of the actual programs on the chopping block.

Make no mistake – I am enthusiastically for cutting government spending. The goal should be to eventually reduce government down to the size and scope of its constitutional limitations. However, the process of getting there must also be constitutional. Concentrating such special authority to fast track legislation affecting so many special interests to a small, select committee is nothing more than an unprecedented power grab. Only fears of an impending catastrophe could have motivated Members to allow this legislation to be rushed through Congress. The founding fathers had strong feelings about taxation without representation and under no circumstances would they have felt excluding 98% of Congress from fiscal decisions was appropriate.

I see nothing good coming out of this Super Congress. I suspect it will be highly vulnerable to corruption and special interests. No benefit can come from such careless disregard of the Founders’ design.

House of Representatives – Public Domain – Congressman Ron Paul

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2011 Super Bowl Half-Time Show Recap: Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Slash Perform!

Did you check out the Black Eyed Peas performance at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show tonight on Fox? If you missed anything, we have a full recap of the 2011 Super Bowl Half-Time Show right here! After reading, leave us a comment in the comments section below and tell us what you thought of Fergie, Will.I.Am, Usher, Slash and the others at last night’s Super Bowl Half-Time Show! Also, find video of Christina Aguilera singing the National Anthem to open the Super Bowl XLV linked below.

There seemed to be some major acoustic issues as pop group Black Eyed Peas took the Super Bowl half-time show stage, and only Will.I.Am’s mic seemed online at full capacity. Fergie’s mic cut in and out a bit and the others were barely audible when they contributed to backing vocals, but this seemed to resolve itself after a while.

Black Eyed Peas, Slash and Usher Rock Super Bowl Half-Time Show 2011

The Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl half-time performance began with “I Got a Feeling”, which dissolved into parts of “Boom Boom Pow”. Dozens of dancers in LED light-infused outfits that changed colors surrounded the stage throughout the performance, and then suddenly, Slash appeared on stage. (Yes, that Slash.)

VIDEO: Christina Aguilera Super Bowl National Anthem Mistake

Next, Fergie half-sang, half-butchered the GNR classic, “Sweet Child Of Mine”, as Slash jammed on his guitar. A moment later, R&B superstar Usher dropped in to save the day. Usher immediately launched into his hit, “OMG (Let Me Love You)”, and performed a well-styled dance routine which actually turned out to be pretty much the highlight of the entire 2011 Super Bowl Half-Time Show.

STATEMENT: Xtina Explains Her Super Bowl Blunder Here

Finally, Will.I.Am, Fergie and the rest of the Black Eyed Peas saved face with a really nice rendition of, “Where Is The Love”, before performing parts of “Time Of My Life (Dirty Bit)” before bringing it back to the end of “I Got A Feeling”.


Televised Coverage of Super Bowl XLV on Fox Network – Feb. 6, 2011

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2011 Texas Straight Talk - the Pesky Neighbor and the Debt Ceiling - Congressman Ron Paul

2011 Texas Straight Talk – The Pesky Neighbor and the Debt Ceiling – Congressman Ron Paul

Imagine you had a pesky neighbor who somehow took out a mortgage on his house in your name and by some legal trickery you were obligated to pay for it. Imagine watching this neighbor throw drunken parties, buy expensive cars, add more rooms to the house, and hire dozens of people to wait on him hand and foot. Imagine that he also managed to take out several credit cards in your name. One by one, he would max them out and then use your good name and credit to obtain another credit card, then another and then another. Each time, this neighbor would claim that he needed the new credit card to pay interest on the other maxed out credit cards. If he defaulted on those cards, your credit score would be hurt and when you wanted to buy something for yourself, it would be more difficult to get a loan and the interest you paid would be higher. Imagine that you mulled this over, and time after time, said nothing as he filled out more credit applications so he would not have to default on the other debt taken out in your name. Meanwhile, another shiny new Mercedes appears in his driveway. At what point do you think you might get tired of this game? And, even though you are left with no really good options, do you think you might eventually tell him to go ahead and default, just stop spending your money!

This analogy demonstrates the position we are in with our government and the debt ceiling. The government has run up a huge debt in the name of the American people, who are sick and tired of being on the hook for it. There are no really good options left. Defaulting on a portion of the debt may not be without costs, but it is better than handing the government yet another credit card.

The government is using the usual scare tactics to strong-arm the people into going along with more spending. Remember the rhetoric surrounding the big bailout of October 2008? We were told, not that this would be calamitous for the banks, but for the people, who would continue to experience massive job losses and foreclosures. We were told that the economy would sink into a deep recession if this money was not handed out to too-big-to-fail corporate cronies. So, after much hand-wringing, leaders from both parties, against unprecedented public outcry, agreed to shower money on the banks and increase the debt. The banks learned nothing, except that Washington will come to their rescue, no matter what. The people, however, continued to lose their jobs and houses anyway, and here we are, still in a deep recession.

When you read the above example, your first reaction might have been to dismiss the neighbor’s debt as illegitimate and in no way your responsibility or your problem. You would be right. No fair-minded legal system would hold you responsible for such a debt, and would instead cart your thieving neighbor off to jail. Yet Congress can impose liabilities on you, your children, and grandchildren without your consent, and even without your knowledge. This is another example of government holding itself above the law. Much like the TSA claims the right to molest us, yet arrested a woman who turned the tables last week, stealing somehow becomes legitimate when the government does it.

We supposedly live in a nation of laws. For once, government needs to heed the law regarding the debt ceiling.

House of Representatives – Public Domain – Congressman Ron Paul

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2011 Texas Straight Talk - the Fed Twists, the Market Shouts - Congressman Ron Paul

2011 Texas Straight Talk – The Fed Twists, The Market Shouts – Congressman Ron Paul

Last week the Federal Reserve began the second incarnation of “Operation Twist”, an attempt to drive down interest rates by purchasing long-term Treasury debt and selling short-term debt. This is just the latest instance of the central bank desperately flailing around doing something merely for the sake of doing something. Fed officials still do not understand– or admit– that the Fed itself caused the financial crisis by driving interest rates too low and relentlessly expanding the money supply. Thus, this latest action will just exacerbate the problem.

Markets, however, understand that the Fed has failed and has no clue what it is doing. This is why markets went into a tailspin after the Fed’s new strategy was announced. Stock, bonds, and commodities dropped in price while the financial press wondered whether this worldwide sell-off meant that the entire system was collapsing. Not since 2008 had there been such a dramatic drop across so many different sectors of the market.

Because of continued rising inflation and the Federal Reserve’s suppression of interest rates, investing in traditional safe havens such as savings accounts, mutual funds, and Treasury bonds has become unprofitable. Lots of money is moving through the system seeking a return on investments or at least some measure of safety, as increasingly desperate investors move their funds around in search of long-term profits and stability. Until the Fed stops its monetary intervention and allows interest rates to be set by the free market, investors will move their money in a volatile manner. They will invest in commodities and stocks while prices swing upwards, but will flee to bonds and cash at the first sign of a downturn.

The uncertainty caused by the Fed does help some people – professional traders on Wall Street for example. Increased volatility and huge price swings mean more opportunities for profit, as sophisticated electronic trading programs can buy and sell huge positions within a fraction of a second of a major market movement. But small businessmen are misled by the artificially low interest rates into making unwise investments, and those whose jobs vanish when the Federal Reserve’s latest bubble pops suffer. Without the knowledge or ability to move with the markets or diversify overseas, average Americans see their savings stagnate or depreciate– along with their hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow.

The only way to return to a sound economy is for the Federal Reserve to cease and desist its monetary manipulation and allow interest rates to be determined by markets, just as the price of goods, services, and labor should be determined by markets. Everything the Fed is doing by pumping money into the economy benefits only the insolvent, too-big-to-fail banks. Low interest rates encourage consumers to take on more debt, meaning more profits for the banks issuing those loans. Purchasing mortgage-backed securities, as the Fed has done, keeps housing prices inflated, helping the banks who have non-performing mortgages on their books. However, it hurts consumers who continue to be priced out of the housing market. In order to maintain a decent standard of living for the American people and to restore the vibrancy of the U.S. economy, it is time to end the Fed.

House of Representatives – Public Domain – Congressman Ron Paul

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2011 Trends in Fitness

Just as there are clothing and fashion trends, trends in fitness change too. No one wants to do the same workout over and over, so it’s exciting to see what’s new in the fitness world. Here’s what will be big in 2011.

Fitness Industry Trends: Fast and Hard is In

According to a recent poll conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, 2011 will be the year of the boot camp workout. Boot camp workouts combine strength training and aerobics and they give you a heart-pumping, body-blasting workout using minimal equipment. Participants do old-fashioned push-ups, crunches, and jog in place similar to the techniques military recruits use to get into “fighting” shape. The beauty of the boot camp workout is it works the whole body in a relatively short period of time ‘” and “recruits” burn up to 600 calories in an hour. The exercises are constantly changing, so it rarely gets boring, and when you finish, you’re drenched in sweat – but satisfied.

Trends in Fitness: Pilates Takes a Back Seat

Pilates has been trending up for the last few years, but according to this new poll, it may be losing some of its luster. Why? Pilates classes that use special Pilates equipment are too expensive for today’s budget minded consumer, and it takes time to see results with Pilates. Instead, Pilates exercises are being incorporated into classes that mix strength training, stretching and yoga. Workouts using stability balls are also trending downwards for the new year.

Fitness Trends: Other Trends

Strength training will maintain its focus, but there’ll be more ways to do it. Instead of using exclusively weight machines and hand weights, fitness buffs can also choose from various strengths of resistance bands, and the newest trend, kettleballs. There’s even a new magazine that focuses exclusively on kettleball workouts. Strength training also includes core training, so expect to see continued focus on the back and abdominal muscles.

Trends in Fitness: Get Everyone Involved

You’ll see more fitness programs geared towards children and adolescents due to concerns about childhood obesity. Seniors will also be in focus as the mature crowd looks for ways to increase mobility and prevent bone loss.

Other 2011 Fitness Trends

Yoga and functional fitness training will remain hot in the year 2011 as people use exercise to relieve stress and make it easier to carry out their daily activities.

Fitness Industry Trends: The Bottom Line?

There have never been more ways to get an effective workout. Whether you exercise at home or at a health club, make 2011 the year you choose to get into the best shape of your life.


WebMD. “Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2011”

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2011 is a Tough SEO Year for Webmasters

From a website promotion point of view 2010 was the year when SEO suddenly became easier to understand and harder to do. Let me explain. SEO, traditionally, was totally geek-speak driven full of technical knowledge and arcane practices some of which were not far removed from the throwing of the bones and spitting in the wind in order to predict which way your site would go in the search engine index.

The big changes started in 2007 (actually) with Google first discounting many of the practices which had led to abuse and implementing a raft of new refinements which sparked off a wave of further refinements which led Google’s competition down new paths and which, in turn, led to further refinements all of which (my current oversimplification excused) brought us squarely into 2010 and the first year when a newbie webmaster armed with a boo like SEO Help and some tenacity could actually make inroads into optimizing their website to rank high on search engines. All of which, you will agree, is really good news for webmasters.

So why is 2011 going to be any different? Well, SEO now has converged with online marketing in such a way that it has become possible for webmasters which know nothing about programming (or indeed, SEO per se) to successfully optimize their websites provided they market them properly. Confused? Don’t be. It goes a little like this:

Search engines now look at the social visibility of websites as a significant metric of their importance (a metric which is so difficult and expensive to game that it will only continue to rise in search engine importance) which means that if you have a website which is not on Facebook and Bebo, has no MySpace presence and it is not on Twitter then you are relegated to the web equivalent of a backstreet shop as opposed to a High Street superstore.

Just as size and visibility convinced in the offline world of yesteryear so does a strong presence in the social web help search engines better index your website and think more highly of it.

The social web should be in your daily website marketing routine anyway, so if you are active in it and regularly post messages, discussions and links then you should have a good headstart. SEO in 2011 is not just about that of course which is why it is so hard to do. It requires more time and patience than the average webmaster can bring to bear. There are shortcuts you can take but those we will examine another time.

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2011 USPS Stamps Boast Cartoons, Crooners, Canines, Cars and More

The United States Postal Service (USPS) unveiled brand-new commemorative stamps for 2011. The collections include astronauts and authors, cartoon characters and a Congresswoman, heroes and holidays, musicians and machines and much more.

Philatelists, or stamp collectors, wait eagerly each year for a look at the new postage stamps to be offered. Who knows which of these 2011 U.S. postage stamps will be worth the most to collectors one day?

Here’s a peek at the postage we can expect from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in the coming year. These 2011 U.S. postal stamps are listed here in order of expected release.

Available January 22, 2011 – “The Year of the Rabbit” postage stamp

Fourth in a series of 12, “The Year of The Rabbit” stamp is part of the USPS’ “Celebrating Lunar New Year” set.

“The Year of the Rabbit,” running from February 3, 2011, until January 22, 2012, is celebrated by Asians and others worldwide with parades and special gatherings. Kumquats are a traditional gift during these festivities.

The USPS’ “Year of the Rabbit” forever stamps, designed by artist Ethel Kessler and illustrator Kam Mak, feature a pair of kumquats, along with a paper-cut rabbit and the Chinese character for “rabbit.”

Available January 27, 2011 – “Kansas Statehood” postage stamp

This brand-new U.S. postage stamp commemorates the 150th anniversary of Kansas’ admission as the 34th state in the Union, which took place on January 29, 1861.

Designed by artist Dean Mitchell, this forever stamp features an old-fashioned windmill, along with several modern wind turbines.

Available February 2, 2011 – “Ronald Reagan” postage stamp

The Ronald Reagan postage stamp honors the centennial anniversary of the birth of the 40th American President. Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911.

Designed by artist Bart Forbes, this forever stamp features a portrait of Ronald Reagan, based on a photograph taken in 1985, during his second term as President of the United States.

Available in February 2011 – “Jazz Appreciation” postage stamp

Paying homage to American jazz music, this forever stamp boasts a creative collage of stylized jazz musicians and instruments. The 2011 “Jazz Appreciation” postage stamp was designed by Howard Paine, based on art by Paul Rogers.

Available in March 2011 – “Latin Music Legends” postage stamps

This series of forever stamps honors several legendary Latin musicians. Designed by artist Rafael Lopez, the “Latin Music Legends” postage stamps feature Celia Cruz, Carlos Garden, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente and Selena.

Available in March 2011 – “Neon Celebrate” postage stamp

The United States Postal Service (USPS) will celebrate good times in 2011 with this forever stamp, created by artist Michael Flechtner. The “Neon Celebrate” stamp will be ideal for mailing anniversary or birthday greeting cards or other special-occasion items.

Available in April 2011 – “Helen Hayes” postage stamp

Broadway actress Helen Hayes, once known as “First Lady of the American Theater,” will be honored by a brand-new forever postage stamp in 2011. Designed by artist Drew Struzan (who created the “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” movie posters), the “Helen Hayes” stamp boasts a portrait of the famous late actress.

Available April 12, 2011 – “Civil War” postage stamps

The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War will be recognized in 2011 with the unveiling of the first pair in a new series of U.S. forever postage stamps. The 2011 “Civil War” stamps, designed by artist Phil Jordan from antique images of Civil War battles, will be sold in two-stamp souvenir sheets.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to sell two new pairs of “Civil War” forever stamps each year, from 2011 through 2015.

Available April 29, 2011 – “Gregory Peck” postage stamp

Hollywood film legend Gregory Peck will appear on a special commemorative forever postage stamp in 2011. A black-and-white portrait of Academy Award winner and 1969 U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, as seen in the classic film, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” will make up the new “Gregory Peck” postage stamp.

Available May 2, 2011 – “Purple Heart” postage stamp”

The United States Postal Service (USPS) will offer a brand-new forever stamp featuring a photograph by Ira Wexler of the medal of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization for combat-wounded veterans.

The first U.S. postage stamp to feature the Purple Heart appeared in 2003.

Available May 4, 2011 – “Mercury Messenger” postage stamps

Marking the 50th anniversary of the first American manned space flight, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will launch a pair of commemorative forever stamps.

Designed by artist Donato Giancola, the “Mercury Messenger” forever stamps feature two striking images: Alan Shepard’s 1961 “Freedom 7” flight and NASA’s 2011 unmanned “Messenger” flight to orbit Mercury.

Available May 19, 2011 – “Garden of Love” postage stamps

This set of ten artistic nature forever stamps, created by artist Jose Ortega, will feature flowers, birds, butterflies and other lovely images. The United States Postal Service (USPS) will offer the “Garden of Love” stamps as a fancy option for love letters, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, wedding invitations and more.

Available in May 2011 – “Indianapolis 500” postage stamps

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the famous Indianapolis 500 automotive race, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will rev up mailings with a special forever stamp. Designed by artist John Mattos, the stamp features Ray Harroun’s famous 1911 yellow Marmon Wasp Indy car, along with this tag-line: “100 years of racing.”

Available June 16, 2011 – “American Scientists” postage stamps

Third in a series of similar collections from the United States Postal Service (USPS), the 2011 “American Scientist” forever stamp set includes images of four prominent researchers from the nation’s past. Created by Ethel Kessler and Greg Berger, using photographs and autographs, the “American Scientist” includes Melvin Calvin, Asa Gray, Maria Goeppert Mayer and Severo Ochoa.

Available in June 2011 – “Mark Twain” postage stamp

The 27th member of the United States Postal Service (USPS) “Literary Arts” series, the “Mark Twain” forever stamp honors this popular author and humorist. The new “Mark Twain” stamp features a portrait of Samuel L. Clemens (aka Mark Twain), with a Mississippi River boat in the background, painted by artist Gregory Manchess.

Available in July 2011 – “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” postage stamps

A dozen of the most famous industrial designers in American history will be recognized by this series of forever stamps from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in 2011.

Designed by artist Derry Noyes, he “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” forever stamp set includes images of Dave Chapman, Donald Deskey, Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Peter Müller-Munk, Eliot Noyes, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Gilbert Rohde, Greta von Nessen, Walter Dorwin Teague and Russel Wright.

Available July 27, 2011 – “Owney the Postal Dog” postage stamp

Owney was the mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the 19th century in America and often lauded as a symbol of good luck. Honoring this noted canine, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will offer a special forever stamp bearing his image, designed by artist Bill Bond.

Available in July 2011 – “U.S. Merchant Marine” postage stamps

In midsummer, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will honor the American commercial maritime industry with a foursome of forever stamps. These postage stamps, created by artist Dennis Lyall, will feature clipper ships, auxiliary steamships, liberty ships and container ships.

Available August 11, 2011 – “Flags of Our Nation” postage stamps (Set #5)

Ten new U.S. postage stamps will be added to the “Flags of Our Nation” series. The 2011 editions will include flags of the states of Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

These ten new forever stamps were created by artist Tom Engeman, based on photographs of the state flags.

Available in August 2011 – “Edward Hopper” postage stamp

Tenth in the “American Treasures” postage stamp series, the “Edward Hopper” forever stamp will display this artist’s 1930 sailboat painting, titled “The Long Leg.” A Provincetown, Massachusetts, Cape Cod lighthouse is revealed in the background on the special 2011 stamp.

Available August 19, 2011 – “Send a Hello” postage stamps

With these five new forever stamps, the United States Postal Service (USPS) continues the theme of its “Art of Disney” series, issued from 2004 to 2008.

The 2011 postage stamps will highlight five Disney Pixar characters: Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995), Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (2009), Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (2006), Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille (2007) and WALL*E the robot from WALL*E (2008).

Available in August 2011 – “Wedding Roses” postage stamp

Adding to the United States Postal Service (USPS) “Weddings” series of postage stamps, the 2011 “Wedding Roses” stamp will offer lovely white roses. The image was created from a photograph by Renee Comet.

The “Wedding Roses” forever stamps are ideal for bridal shower and wedding invitations, engagement announcements, wedding gift thank-you notes and more.

Available in September 2011 – “Barbara Jordan” postage stamp

A brand-new 2011 forever stamp from the United States Postal Service (USPS) will honor Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Texas legislature and the first African-American woman from the South to be voted into the U.S. Congress.

Based on a painting by artist Albert Slark, the “Barbara Jordan” postage stamp is the 34th entry in the United States Postal Service (USPS) “Black Heritage” stamp series.

Available in September 2011 – “Romare Bearden” postage stamps

This set of four 2011 forever stamps will feature the work of 20th century African-American artist Romare Bearden.

Titles of these United States Postal Service (USPS) will stamps include “Conjunction” (1971), “Falling Star” (1979), “Odysseus: Poseidon, The Sea God – Enemy of Odysseus” (1979) and “Prevalence of Ritual: Conjur Woman” (1964).

Available October 13, 2011 – “Holiday Baubles” postage stamps

Annually, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issues festive postage stamps for the holiday season. The 2011 editions feature four different colorful holiday ornament designs, created by artist Linda Fountain.

Where can philatelists and letter mailers buy the new USPS stamps?

Stamp collectors and postal customers alike may pick up these new U.S. postage stamps in 2011, as they are released, at local postal offices or by ordering online or by telephone (1-800-STAMP-24). As forever stamps, these items may be used to mail first-class letters at any time.

Tags:2011 USPS Stamps Boast Cartoons, Crooners, Canines, Cars and More

2011 Texas Straight Talk - Taking Executive Orders Too Far - Congressman Ron Paul

2011 Texas Straight Talk – Taking Executive Orders Too Far – Congressman Ron Paul

These are frustrating times for the President. Having been swept into office with a seemingly strong mandate, he enjoyed a Congress controlled by members of his own party for the first two years of his term. However, midterm elections brought gridlock and a close division of power between the two parties. With a crucial re-election campaign coming up, there is desperation in the president’s desire to “do something” in spite of his severely weakened mandate.

Getting something done is proving to be a monumental task. This may be news to the supposed constitutional scholar who is now our president, but if the political process seems inconvenient to the implementation of his agenda, that is not a flaw in the system. It was designed that way. The drafters of the Constitution intended the default action of government to be inaction. Hopefully, this means actions taken by the government are necessary and proper. If federal laws or executive actions can’t be agreed upon constitutionally- which is to say legally- such laws or actions should be rejected.

The vision of the founders was to set up a government that would remain small and unobtrusive via a system of checks and balances. That it has taken our government so long to get this big speaks well of the original design. The founders also knew the overwhelming nature of governments was to amass power and grow. The Constitution was to serve as the brakes on the freight train of government.

But the Obama administration, like so many administrations in the 20th century, chooses to ignore the Constitution entirely. The increasingly broad use and scope of the Executive Orders is a prime example. Executive Orders are meant to be a way for the president to direct executive agencies on the implementation of congressionally approved legislation. It has become increasingly common for them to be misused in ways that are contradictory to congressional intent, or to bypass Congress altogether in enacting political agendas. The current administration has unabashedly stated that Congress’s unwillingness to pass the president’s jobs bill means that the president will act unilaterally to enact provisions of it piecemeal through Executive Order. Obama explicitly threatens to bypass Congress, thus aggregating the power to make and enforce laws in the executive. This clearly erodes the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. It brings the modern presidency dangerously close to an elective dictatorship.

Of course, the most dangerous and costly overstepping of executive authority is going to war without a congressional declaration. Congress has been sadly complicit in this usurpation by ceding much of its war-making authority to the executive because it wants to avoid taking responsibility for major war decisions, but that is part of our job in Congress! If the President cannot present to Congress and the people a convincingly strong case for going to war, then perhaps we should keep the nation at peace, rather than risk our men and women’s lives for ill-defined reasons!

This administration certainly was not the first to behave in ways that have defied the Constitution to overstep its bounds. Sadly, previous administrations have set precedents that the current administration is only building upon. It is time for Congress to reassert itself and its constitutional role so that future administrations cannot continue on this dangerous path.

House of Representatives – Public Domain – Congressman Ron Paul

Tags:2011 Texas Straight Talk - Taking Executive Orders Too Far - Congressman Ron Paul

2011 United States Spring Weather Forecast

Spring is almost here

Depending on where you live in the United States, warmer weather has already began its annual push to the north, gradually forcing the cold arctic air to where it belongs -back up north. For many, the winter of 2010-2011 will be remembered as one that brought record snowfalls to areas from Chicago to New England and record March flooding to parts of New England and northern New Jersey.

But it’s soon to be over.

April’s Conditions

According to Paul Pastelok, leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team, the end of March forecast could bring more of the same weather for the northern United States. He expects spring 2011 to start off with colder-than-normal temperatures in an area from the northern Rocky Mountain states through the Middle Atlantic states. The Ohio River Valley, which saw its fair share of snowstorms this past winter, could be headed for a rainy and stormy spring 2011, he says.

The 2011 spring weather forecast for the Southern United States calls for a warmer-than-normal trend from Arizona through Texas through the Southeast United States. However, there is a price. The south will tend to be dryer than normal with a worsening drought forming in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

The Weather Centre forecast

The Weather Centre agrees with AccuWeather, somewhat, in the conditions it sees in making its 2011 spring weather forecast. The Weather Centre is calling for a dry air mass to take hold of the western two-thirds of the country, which is good news for some but bad news for farmers. Cooler-than-normal conditions in the first half of spring across the northern third of the United States could lead to later-than-normal last frost in a large part of the country.

Both AccuWeather and the Weather Centre agree that the battleground for spring 2011 stormy weather will be along the Mississippi this year in an area that stretches into the Ohio River Valley.

National Weather Service 2011 Spring Weather Forecast

The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Services doesn’t go into specifics when it releases its seasonal forecasts on the third Thursday of each month. However, the Climate Prediction Center lists trends. In its 2011 Spring forecast, the National Weather Center calls for drier-than-normal conditions across the extreme Southern United States and normal conditions across the rest of the country.

As far as temperatures, the Center says Spring 2011 will be warmer across the bottom half of the United States. The Northeast and Great Lakes should experience normal temperatures. An area along the Canadian border from the western Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest will be cooler than normal in the Spring of 2011.

A look ahead: Winter 2011-12

If you were one of the millions of people from Chicago to Boston who has endured brutal back-to-back winter weather conditions, there is a rainbow of sorts on the horizon, according to the Climate Prediction Center. Looking ahead, the center predicts warmer-than normal temperatures across the Northeast United States, according to a long range outlook issued in late February.

Tags:2011 United States Spring Weather Forecast

2011 Unemployment Extension - Obama, You're No FDR!

I do not know if you have had the opportunity to visit the FDR Memorial in Washington D.C. , but if you haven’t, you should. Much can be learned by walking through this memorial for this President that died in his 4’TH term of faithful service to our county; from fighting through the Depression through World War II. A tougher time to be President is hard to find in our nations history. What FDR promised was hope and change. What FDR delivered was hope and change. That is why we have a memorial to him in Washington . My take of our current events is that we won’t have to worry about building a memorial to President Obama any time soon as his version of hope and change appears to be a gutless run to the center leaving the little guy in his wake.

Voted for him once, won’t make the same mistake again. My major objection to Obama to date is his total lack of leadership. What he once promised, he seems to have chickened out on, running in the direction of pacification instead of taking on the challenges confronting America today. Exercising the power of the bully pulpit? He doesn’t have time because he’s far too busy kissing a lot of…well I don’t mean baby’s! If what we have received to date is his version of hope and change, well I can live without hope, or change, because that is exactly what I doing today; living without hope and change!

For a President that seemed to have had it all at the beginning of his term, Obama has surrounded himself with nothing short of some of the most banal and uninventive people that I can remember being assembled in a long time. With advisors like the one’s he has entertaining him, he would be better off without them. Obama isn’t going to wind up being a good Jimmy Carter. At least President Carter had the courage to continue to stand up for his convictions even though he fell into disfavor with the public. Obama is working hard on becoming a one term President. He is doing so very quickly because many of his earlier supporters, people like me, have learned their lesson. His version of hope and change is more like nope and loose-change. Do I sound bitter?

I wanted a leader that I could look up to, not someone that is trying to please all of the people all of the time, because that is simply not possible. I didn’t vote for a corporation and bureaucrat hugging elected mouthpiece for the rich. I didn’t vote for a President that can’t say the word 99er. I didn’t vote for a President that can’t publicly be honest about the national disaster that we have with unemployment in America today. I wanted honesty and instead, I just feel handled. There doesn’t seem to be a single piece of legislation that he has pushed to get passed that even comes close to the hope and change promised in his campaign; the healthcare bill included as he wavered and waffled on that one as well. You cannot stand behind someone that doesn’t stand up in the first place. I simply couldn’t be more disappointed if I tried to design the disappointment myself.

I do not want a President that is the lesser of two evils, I want a leader that is willing to stand up and fight, even if it is expected that he may lose the fight. I want a President that will at least go down swinging instead of throwing in the towel while saying no mas, no mas! Honestly, I expect that I will get some heat from some for writing this, but I know that I am not alone in my disappointment. I have already started to look for the candidate that has the courage to promote necessary change and that displays the temperament to fight instead of rolling over and playing dead. The person that I currently have in mind is Senator Bernie Sanders. I do not think that he would disappoint if provided with the opportunity to serve the American public. I will throw his hat into the ring for him; I just hope he can find a way to follow this lead. Now Bernie, he might just be the next FDR if we can just get him started!

Tags:2011 Unemployment Extension - Obama, You’re No FDR!

2011 World Series Game 3 Preview and Prediction

Game 2 Recap

For awhile it seemed that the script for game 2 was going to be the same as game 1. Allen Craig came through with a go ahead RBI single off Alexi Ogando for the second straight game and the St. Louis bullpen seemed poised to finish off the victory. Then, the ninth inning came. Ian Kinsler led off the top of the ninth with a bloop single off Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte. Kinsler stole second and Elvis Andrus followed with a single to set up runners on second and third. LaRussa then pulled Motte to no avail as Josh Hamilton and Michael Young came through with sacrifice flies to put Texas up 2-1. Neftali Feliz closed out the game for the Rangers in the bottom of the ninth to send the Rangers home to Texas with the series knotted up at a game apiece.

2011 World Series Game 3 Pitching Matchup

Game 3 starters, Kyle Lohse for the Cardinals and Matt Harrison for the Rangers, put up eerily similar numbers this season. Both pitchers made 30 starts, won 14 games, and they posted identical 3.39 ERAs. For Lohse it was his best season in his 10 year career. However, Lohse has not been very good in the 2011 postseason thus far. Lohse took the loss in each of his starts and has allowed 8 runs through 9 2/3 postseason innings. During the regular season, opponents only hit .249 against Lohse, but in the playoffs they have hit .310. A struggling pitcher like Lohse could have problems in the hitter friendly Ballpark in Arlington.

Harrison also enjoyed the best season of his career for the Texas Rangers. Fortunately for Texas he has also pitched well in the playoffs. Harrison has started two games this postseason and went 5 innings and allowed two earned runs in each game. The Rangers won both games that Harrison started, one against Tampa Bay and the other against Detroit. At 6’4″, 240lbs Harrison is an imposing left-handed pitcher on the mound. Surprisingly though, lefties fared better this year against Harrison with a .275 average versus a .249 average for righties.

2011 World Series Game 3 Prediction

Let me start by saying that I am two for two on predicting the winner of the first two games of the 2011 World Series (here’s the proof Game 1, Game 2). I also should say that I was completely wrong in thinking that each of those games would be high scoring, offensive shootouts. The pitchers for both teams have done a great job of keeping hitters off balance and limiting damage when runners have reached base.

That being said, I am predicting that the offenses will come alive in game 3. Here’s why. First, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is one of the most hitter friendly parks in all of baseball. Second, the weather will be warmer in Texas than it has been in St. Louis the last couple nights and the ball travels a bit better in warmer weather. And finally, these offenses are far too good to be scoring so few runs. Through two games, Mike Napoli has the lone home run in the series, but I see that changing in game 3.

Final Score
Rangers – 7
Cardinals – 3

Tags:2011 World Series Game 3 Preview and Prediction

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