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The Farsider

December 5, 2013


Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>


The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.



This is a Nov. 29th editorial about Chuck Reed and the pension issue that received national attention as it appeared in the WSJ…

Chuck Reed: A Liberal Mugged by Pension Reality

Editorial by Allysia Finley
Wall Street Journal — Nov. 29, 2013

San Jose, Calif., was the richest major city in the country last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's survey of median household incomes. More than 100 tech-related firms including Adobe Systems, Cisco, PayPal and eBay  are based in the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley.
Yet in Mayor Chuck Reed's view from the 18th floor of city hall, San Jose in recent years has been dead broke and slouching toward bankruptcy, propelled by ruinous public-pension obligations. Over the past decade, he says, the city has shed 25% of its workforce, including 20% of its police department, to cover soaring retirement costs.
Since his election in 2006, Mr. Reed has been that rare creature, a Democrat in a liberal bastion who is nonetheless focused on salvaging government finances while inviting the wrath of public unions and their political allies. The city's budget problems, he says, "have made it impossible to do many of the things that I would have liked to have done as mayor."

Mr. Reed points to a bar graph showing how the city's pension obligations soared to $245 million from $71 million in 2001. The average San Jose police officer last year earned $203,211 in total compensation — more than many software engineers in Silicon Valley. The city is spending $45,263 each year per worker on pensions. Mr. Reed notes that San Jose has boosted retirement benefits several times over the past decade. Police officers can retire at age 50 with up to 90% of their final pay.
Last year, Mr. Reed piloted an innovative approach to fixing pensions that involves curbing future benefits for current workers. He plans to take the approach statewide with a ballot referendum next year that may throw a lifeline to other struggling California cities, like Fresno, Oakland and Desert Hot Springs. But he faces a more immediate hurdle at home: The public unions are suing him. "Nothing important happens without litigation in California," he quips.
The referendum is a last hurrah for Mr. Reed, who is term-limited out of office next year and has spent most of his 65 years in public service. After growing up in public-housing in Kansas, he applied to the Air Force Academy, which he says was "the most difficult school that I could afford to go to."
While at the academy, he says, "I met my wife on a blind date at a football game. It was love at first sight." The two married a couple of days after Mr. Reed graduated (second in his class) and remain together 43 years later. His frugality goes way back: While in the Air Force, he sewed his wife's maternity dresses.

In 1975, upon completing his rotation in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Mr. Reed attended Stanford Law School while his wife, Paula, worked at a nearby hospital as an oncology nurse. They settled in San Jose with their son and daughter, and Mr. Reed says he "probably served on 20 different board commissions."
In 2000, Mr. Reed was elected to the San Jose City Council with "about 200 items on my to-do list. The highest priority were items like building parks in areas that didn't have parks," he says, noting that "pension costs never crossed my mind." He frequently knocked heads with then-Mayor Ron Gonzales. For instance, he opposed the mayor's idea to use eminent domain in 2003 to take over and redevelop the Tropicana Shopping Center. He also opposed a $343 million city hall building, which opened in 2005, as an unaffordable extravagance.
With Mr. Gonzales term-limited, Mr. Reed ran for and won the top job—along with a ticking bomb of pensions obligations. It took several years, and plenty of fruitless negotiations, before he finally confronted the city's unions. In June 2012, Mr. Reed quarterbacked a city ballot initiative to limit pensions for new hires and scale back future benefits for existing workers. He says merely reducing new workers' benefits, as many other cities and states have done, wouldn't have achieved meaningful enough savings.
Mr. Reed's initiative gave current workers a choice between paying up to 16% more of their salary for benefits—which would amount to about 27% of a police officer's pay—or accepting lower future benefits. Giving workers a choice, the mayor says, was intended to circumvent state court decisions that protect workers' "vested right" to their pensions under the state constitution's contracts clause—meaning that their benefits after being hired "can only go up and not down."
Mr. Reed's pension initiative enjoyed the support of a majority of the San Jose City Council, including six Democrats. It also got a big boost from the Bay Area Council, whose steering committee includes the chief executives of Virgin America, the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, Safeway, Webcor and the San Francisco Federal Reserve.
Businesses don't often publicly wade into such controversies because they don't want to alienate customers or risk retribution. But Bay Area companies saw how retirement costs were draining the San Jose budget, threatening public safety and forestalling important public works. Driving a Tesla over pot-holed roads is no fun. The initiative passed with nearly 70% support.
San Jose's public unions sued the city almost immediately for violating their pension rights, and a state court is expected to rule in the next few weeks. Mr. Reed says he's confident the reforms will be upheld since San Jose, as a charter city, has plenary authority under the state constitution to modify compensation. The city also has "an ordinance that says we can make them pay more" to their pensions and "we've negotiated past contracts with the unions in which they have paid more."
Yet it could take a few years before the state Supreme Court issues a final ruling, and other cities now going broke from retirement costs can't afford to wait. As Mr. Reed notes, asking employees to pay more for pensions "is only an interim solution that gives you a little bit of relief for a little while because the real problem is these benefits are too expensive."
Mr. Reed has organized a small bipartisan group of current and former mayors, including Pat Morris (D., San Bernardino) and Tom Tait (R., Anaheim), to place an initiative on next November's state ballot that would give cities and the state flexibility to negotiate changes to future benefits for current workers. The purpose is to "empower cities," most of which "are seeing crowding out and services being cut," Mr. Reed says. The initiative would also bar state agencies and retirement boards, including the California Public Employees' Retirement Systems (Calpers), from interfering in city efforts to fix pension problems.

In the Bay Area suburb of Vallejo, which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2008, Calpers threatened to "litigate forever if they took on pension reform," Mr. Reed notes. Calpers has done the same in Stockton and San Bernardino. Vallejo chose not to modify existing workers' pensions, Mr. Reed says, and as a result "they're in trouble again because of rising pension costs."
Calpers has also harassed San Jose, which has a small retirement plan for elected officials with an unfunded liability of $900,000. The city wanted to end the plan, Mr. Reed says. "Calpers said if you do that, you have to give us $5 million" as a "termination fee."
Now Calpers and public unions are gearing up for a war on Mr. Reed's statewide initiative. In October, Calpers published a warning that "if this initiative were to pass, then all contractual rights in California could be in jeopardy."
How does the straight-shooting mayor plan to counter the spin? Simply by educating voters, he says, pointing to a chart showing that taxpayer contributions to state and local retirement systems increased to $17.4 billion in 2010 from $3.4 billion in 2000. Meantime, the average annuity for a newly retired California highway-patrol officer is $89,000, up from $44,000 in 1999, thanks to retroactive boosts to pension benefits.
"You have to buy a lot of paid media" to educate people, Mr. Reed says. And "you have to have big contributors who are willing to step up and fund [the initiative], and they're not all going to be from inside California. They're likely to be from all around the country because this is a national issue."

That will give unions an opening. Stanford physicist Charles Munger Jr., who financed a losing initiative last year to limit union spending on politics, was pilloried as a "billionaire bully." The writer David Sirota at Salon has provided a taste of what's to come, denouncing a $200,000 contribution from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a Houston-based philanthropy, as an "Enron billionaire's diabolical plot to loot worker pensions." John Arnold used to work at Enron.
Yet the mayor remains optimistic and says the public is receptive to his message, as he found in San Jose. But that move also had the backing of Democratic city council members. Mr. Reed now has only two Democratic mayors in his corner, and he says that "lots of other mayors" have expressed support but "they don't want to do so publicly." So far Democratic politicians in Sacramento have also been mum. Given that this is spendthrift California, that's encouraging.



KTVU News (video)

San Jose Police Union approves contract as more officers walk out the door...


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KCBS Radio (audio)

SJPOA ratifies contract restoring some pay but questions why it took so long for council to act…


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NBC Bay Area News (print)

San Jose Police Approve New Union Labor Pact


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The Daily Fetch (print)

Reed does a happy dance


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San Jose Inside (print)

POA Votes to Accept Contract that Restores Officer Salaries to 2009 Levels




Place your bets on who is going to be Chuck Reed's replacement, and don't think for a minute that given the candidates' political ideology and history, that San Jose's next mayor won't have an impact on the future of the SJPD and its men and women of the past (us), present and future. This front page story from today's paper will tell you who the candidates are and which of them have aligned themselves with the outgoing mayor…

Packed San Jose Mayoral Race Kicks Off

By Mike Rosenberg
Mercury News — Dec. 5, 2013

SAN JOSE — In what is sure to be one of Silicon Valley’s biggest political contests in years, the wide-open race to replace outgoing Mayor Chuck Reed is ready to begin — giving voters a choice of staying the cost-cutting course he charted through some of San Jose’s most difficult years or picking a new path forward.

The race to lead Northern California’s largest city officially gets underway Thursday — 180 days from the June primary — when at least a half-dozen declared contenders can begin raising and spending money in a campaign expected to center on public safety and rising crime in what was once called America’s safest big city.

Public safety unions and other labor groups have blamed Reed and his City Council allies for driving away cops by pushing pay and benefit cuts to balance budgets. They are putting their formi­dable campaign clout behind Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, a former councilman and mayoral contender whom Reed tapped as his first vice mayor but who has since criticized Reed’s style as divisive.

Cortese will face a battery of Reed loyalists on the council. They have defended the pay and benefit cuts, including a 2012 pension reform measure voters overwhelmingly approved but that unions are fighting in court, as needed to avoid crippling city services.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time in San Jose where the voters have had an opportunity to have such a broad discussion about San Jose and its needs and its future,” said Councilman Pete Constant, one of the Reed allies among the mayoral candidates.

The mayoral contest is the centerpiece of a major political war to determine the balance of power at City Hall, as half of the 10 City Council seats are also up for grabs in June. Three of the five are now occupied by members of Reed’s voting bloc.

Running for mayor for the first time are council members Constant, Sam Liccardo and Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen — who are termed out, like Reed — plus council members Rose Herrera and Pierluigi Oliverio, whose terms end in 2016. Cortese, re-elected to a second term on the county board last year, is making his second bid for the mayor’s seat. Forrest Williams, a former San Jose councilman sympathetic to the city’s employee unions, says he is mulling over joining the race, too.

The mayoral candidates agree a key issue in the race will be restoring a city police force that has shrunk from nearly 1,400 officers three years ago to less than 1,100 now.

The race unfolds as the city’s finances slowly recover with the local economy. After years of budget deficits, hiring cops, reopening libraries, and fixing potholes and other basic infrastructure problems are among the top priorities of a city shifting from figuring out where to cut to deciding how much the city can afford to restore. The council has approved employee raises while cautioning that city finances remain fragile.

While the current council members running are generally supportive of the current path, Cortese thinks Reed’s leadership has sown conflict between the public and the city’s workers.

“I want to get the city back together again; I see it as very divided right now,” he said.

As in the council races, candidates for mayor can only win outright in June by claiming more than 50 percent of the vote, which no one is expecting. The top two vote-getters, each of whom may get only a small fraction of the votes, will face off in November.

In the 2006 primary, then-council members Reed and Cindy Chavez advanced to the November runoff with only 29 and 23 percent of the vote, respectively. At the time, the three losing candidates said they sat too quietly in the middle while Chavez and Reed positioned themselves as the most liberal and conservative candidates, respectively. Reed, in particular, established himself as the biggest opponent of the incumbent administration of the time, which was marred by scandal swirling around then-Mayor Ron Gonzales.

Constant, a retired city police officer, is the only registered Republican in the nonpartisan race. The other major contenders are all Democrats who reflect a divide in the valley’s dominant party — nearly half the city’s 420,000 registered voters are Democrats, and there are more independents (29 percent) than Republicans (21 percent). Cortese and Williams are seen as sharing a traditional Democratic loyalty to labor unions, while Nguyen, Liccardo, Oliverio and Herrera, like Reed, are considered more aligned with business interests.

For the coming June 3 primary, the race is expected to heat up early. More than 70 percent of South Bay voters now cast ballots by mail, and those ballots will be sent out May 5. No independent polling has been done yet.

“There seems to be no heir apparent; nobody at the moment is able to claim any mantle,” said political analyst Larry Gerston, a San Jose State professor, noting that in the coming months some candidates will likely drop out while others could emerge. “We don’t really know how this thing will play out just yet.”



Last Week's Poll Results

For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:



Nov. 28th


I didn't know this. When you take a picture with your smart phone and post it, others can tell exactly where the picture was taken. An easy fix in my iPhone is in the settings. I had to first click on the privacy setting to get to the location service and turn off my camera.

(Silvers) <jimsilvers@silversmail.com>

We included this information in the Farsider a couple of years ago, but it doesn't hurt to spread the word again. Included in Jim's e-mail was a warning about the ramifications of having your location imprinted on photos you shoot with a smart phone and post on the Web or send in an email. Snopes, however, does a more thorough job of explaining the details…


The Snopes entry includes this YouTube video titled "Smartphone pictures pose privacy risks."



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Nov. 2nd


One final reminder: The Keith Kelley Club Christmas Dinner Dance is sold out. For those who will be attending, parking will be validated.

Margie Thompson

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Dec. 3rd


A good friend of mine just finished his first book. He's another Stephen King in the making.

(Suske) <jsuske@sbcglobal.net>

P.S. I don't get no stinkin' commission.

Let me guess, Joe: You asked for one but your buddy just laughed, right?


Jake Young transfers back to his home state of Nebraska from Colorado after a forty year hiatus and buys a century old home on the bluffs overlooking the western panhandle town of Scottsbluff.

Jake uncovers an array of previously unexplained supernatural stories of Nebraska's history that ties his old house and the ghost town of Ardmore with their haunting past and leads him to unearth some answers that have long been buried beneath the desolate prairie terrain that the Sioux Indians once called home.

Ardmore is a riveting tale of real horror and suspense that will leave the reader wanting to read more of western Nebraska's hidden history.



2013 Annual Association Christmas Luncheon

San Jose P.O.A. Hall
1151 N.4th St.
San Jose

Next Thursday, December 12th
Doors open at 11:30 AM.
Lunch will be served from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

Please bring an unwrapped gift for a child.

Dress is Business Casual

Cost: $5 for all attendees  
Please RSVP no later than December 10th
  by signing up online at our website

(Red text on yellow banner at the top)



In the Beginning

Before Story and King became "infamous" for crime, criminal activity, riots, killings, shootings and stabbings, they were tranquil "country roads" out in the ranch and farm area of what was then known as the "Valley of Hearts Delight." The intersection was a four-way stop of two lane roads and very few homes.

Nearby was the grade crossing of Story and Bayshore, where a Hancock gas station was located on the S/E corner, a milking barn on the S/W corner, the Prusch farm on the N/W corner, and a two-story farm house and field on the N/E corner. It was the main intersection leading from downtown to the Reid Hillview Airport, and later to San Jose Speedway which was located next to the airport on the west side of the runway.

Midway between Story and Tully on King (about where Cunningham is today) was the Emil Block turkey ranch, the temporary home of up to ten-thousand birds. Where the Eastridge Shopping Center is today was the Reid Hillview Golf Course, the main drawback of which were the eucalyptus trees located throughout the course, including several directly under the threshold of the airport runway. They were at least partly responsible for numerous accidents caused by pilots who misjudged their altitude on final approach.

The first homes on Story Rd. east of the Bayshore were the Sunset Homes by Sunseri Development. But the company had developed only a few blocks of homes when Tropicana Village — billed as "Where Every Day is a Holiday" — enveloped the area with homes starting in the $7,500 range. The model homes that drew so much attention were on the opposite side of the Bayshore, on the S/W corner of Story and Bayshore, which was the scene of numerous major/fatal traffic accidents.

The entire area was comprised solely of country roads back then; there were no "freeways" designated as 101, 280 or 680 at the time.

Ahhh...the "golden-olden days."


Contributed by Bob Kosovilka

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags were not good for the environment.

The older woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" back in the day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. They also allowed us to personalize our books on the brown paper covers.

Too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a screen a wee bit larger than a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. And that was one of the many ways we exercised instead of going to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we wanted a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen and tossing the old one away, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $40,000 van or SUV, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing."

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

Isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?

The truth of the matter is, we don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off, especially if the criticism is coming from a tattooed, multiple pierced smart ass who can't make change for a ten dollar transaction without the cash register telling them how much to give back.



The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

Is this seven-headed snake real?

New Articles

• New pastor secretly poses as homeless man, then reveals himself to unsympathetic congregants.

• George Washington was the first U.S. president to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation.

• Did a 93-year-old woman shoot and kill one of a group of thugs who were attempting to make her a 'knockout game' victim?

• Clueless cooks in the process of committing Thanksgiving mayhem call turkey hotlines.

• Holiday turkey preparation provides the set-up for humorous scenarios.

• Photograph purportedly shows a seven-headed snake. Is it real?

• Are Greek citizens self-inflicting HIV in order to collect government benefits?

• The origins of the presidential practice of pardoning a live turkey before Thanksgiving.

• Is a hacker spreading malicious messages with links that encourage users to 'Visit the New Facebook'?

• Does eating turkey really make people especially drowsy?

• Did Sarah Palin say that 'Thanksgiving is for real Americans, not Indians'?

• A list of 'Rules Kids Won't Learn in School' attributed to former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

• Does a slowed-down recording of crickets chirping sound like a human chorus?

• Warning that a Facebook Christmas tree app harbors a virus which will crash your computer.

• Is the Bitstrips app a trojan horse that gives the NSA secret access to personal user information?

• Photograph purportedly shows a library facade lined with giant-sized representations of books.

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!

Worth a Second Look

• Did TV cooking maven Julia Child once drop a turkey on the floor and then pick it up and put it back on the counter?

Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.

Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.



Let's start with a holiday treat in the form of a cut from the Andre Rieu DVD titled "Under the Stars — Live from Maastricht V." The song is "I Will Follow Him," which starts off slow, then segues into a rock 'n rollin' gospel piece at 1:45 into the song. Accompanying Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra for this song selection is the Harlem Gospel Choir. Trust us, this a ton of fun. (4 mins.)


Want to watch the entire DVD? Go for it...


The DVD is available on Amazon along with virtually all of Andre Rieu's other performances.

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If you want to avoid the mess in the kitchen that results from having relatives over for a traditional Christmas dinner, this good ol' boy has a solution. Check it out. (5 Mins.)


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Have you ordered items from Amazon and wondered how the giant online retailer manages to get your order to you as fast as it does? There are several videos that purport to show you, but we found this clip does it best. What we found surprising is that the episode about Amazon that aired on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday didn't discuss the amazing warehouse robots featured in this video. (4 Mins.)


If you missed last Sunday's "60 Minutes" episode about Amazon and want to see it, you can watch it here. (14 Mins.)


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Flash Mobs are becoming popular all over the world, including Northern Ireland. Here's how its tourism board pulled off a surprise flash mob for one lucky visitor. Even the pilot and his first officer chose to participate. (3 Mins.)


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Since we're entering the season of the Budweiser Clydesdale holiday commercials, here's a compilation of some ads you may or may not remember from past years. (The last one is our favorite.) (8 Mins.)


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We defy any of you to explain how magician Nate Staniforth pulls off his creation known as The Lottery Illusion. Over the years we have passed along dozens of magic tricks/illusions, and we found that for the curiously persistent who wanted to know how each was performed, a Google search would provide the solution. This Lottery Illusion, however, defies explanation. All we could find on Google was that Staniforth sold 150 copies of a book describing the trick and that it was sold only to other "professional" magicians," including David Blain who recently performed it on a TV special. This is Nate Staniforth performing his Lottery Illusion. (6 Mins.)


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Our Weekly Ad from the Past...

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Want to see how the 1 percent live with an air show tossed into the mix? You know you do, so click on the link below. (5 Mins.)


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Never underestimate the ignorance or gullibility of the American public says Chuck Blackmore. He sent in this clip about people who are happy to sign a fake petition to place Karl Marx on the 2016 presidential ballot after they were told that the communist has been endorsed by President Obama. (Marx died in 1883.) (4 Mins.)


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Language warning: He's been dead for five years, but his wit and wisdom lives on. In keeping with the theme of this performance about euphemisms, George "passed away" (instead of died) from a fatal "myocardial infarction" (instead of a heart attack) in June of 2008. You're up, Mr. Carlin... (9 Mins.)


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Pay attention. You will want to remember this as a means of survival after the bombs falls, the asteroid hits, the big earthquake arrives, the floods come, or Alfred Hitchcock's birds take over the world. (6 Mins.)


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The Potty

Three-year-old Tommy was using the bathroom. His mother thinks he has been in there too long, so she goes in to see what's up. She sees him sitting on the toilet holding a children's book, but about every 15 seconds he puts the book down, grips the toilet seat with his left hand and hits himself on top of the head with his right hand.

"Tommy, are you all right?" asks the mother, "You've been in here a long time."

"I'm fine, Mommy," Tommy says. "I just haven't gone potty yet."

"OK, you can stay here a few more minutes, but why are you hitting yourself on the head?"

Tommy replies, "Works for ketchup."

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So what does a red fox and the magnetic north pole have in common? When the canine is hunting for a meal, it means a lot. Remember this if you ever appear on a quiz show. (3 Mins.)


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If you are unfamiliar with the Hobbit" movies, this video probably won't mean much. For those of you who are familiar with the films, we suspect you will agree that this is a very clever advertisement by Air New Zealand. (3 Mins.)


This is a sneak peek of the most recent Hobbit movie (3 Mins.)


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Bert Kelsey thought this Lesson on Life as it relates to a pickle jar full of golf balls may be of value to some of you. We first ran the full text version of it in the Jan. 13, 2006 Farsider. (3 Mins.)


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During a recent Detroit Pistons home game against the New York Knicks, 11-year-old Antwain Alexander gets into a dance battle with Shannon Sailes, "The Dancing Usher." When fans see themselves on the big screen they show off their happy feet. The dance cam segment is a staple at the Michigan basketball arena. (2 Mins.)


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(Rated R for partial nudity:) The show Fιerie at the Moulin Rouge in Paris is said to rival the most lavish shows in Las Vegas, and this video promo we received from Alice Murphy backs up that claim. Send the grandkids into another room for the next few minutes, click on the link below, sit back and enjoy this large screen promotional video. (5 Mins.)


Want to see the show live? Book your reservations here…

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Let's see a show of hands by everyone who have always wanted to see what happens when an empty can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli is enveloped by a lava flow. A little higher please. OK, thanks. For the two of you weirdos who actually raised your hand, here's the clip. (2 Mins.)


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Here's something else that is unusual and sort of interesting, but is less than a minute long. It's called a Morning Glory cloud, a/k/a Tube or Roll cloud. (42 Secs.)


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We have included in the Farsider over the years numerous links to photos showing various aspects of America dating from the WWII era all the way back to the late 1800s. Here's something a little different. Bob Kosovilka, whose wife was born and raised in Russia, sent in a link that includes numerous highly detailed photos taken in and around Moscow back in 1909. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Moscow Thieves Market, 1909


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Listen carefully and you can hear the cat purring as she snuggles with her adopted ducklings as well as her own new kittens. Amazing stuff. (2 Mins.)


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If you are an animal lover and you weren't moved by that clip of a mother cat and her extended family, perhaps this short video of a Boxer puppy with only two legs will do the job. (2 Mins.)


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Bet you didn't know this:

If you were in the market for a watch in 1880, would you know where to get one? You could go to a store, right? Well, of course you could, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States, that's where the best watches were found.
So why were the best watches found at the train station? The railroad company wasn't selling the watches, the telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance, and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.
Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators, which was the primary way they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at the next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches. As a matter of fact, they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.
This was all arranged by "Richard," who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the East. It was a huge crate of pocket watches, but no one ever came to claim them.
So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn't want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them, offering him a $2 commission on every one he sold. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.
That started it all. He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! It didn't take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.
Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. His name was Alvah, and the rest of the story is history.
The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods.
As for Richard and Alvah, they moved their company to Chicago — and it's still there.
Yes, it's a little known fact that for a while in the 1880s, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. And it all started with a telegraph operator Richard Sears and his partner, Alvah Roebuck!

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Confirmation: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Warren_Sears>

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We've all seen videos of ocean tsunamis, and last week we ran a clip of an ice tsunami. We thought we would continue the trend this week and include this very short video of a Snow Geese Tsunami. In addition, we would wager that the owners of the cars you momentarily see in the clip will swing by a car wash on the way home. (40 Secs.)


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As we get close to the end of this week's digital fish wrap, here is an excellent acapella rendition of the Christmas classic "Little Drummer Boy" by a group of musicians that calls itself "Pentatonix." (4 Mins.)


This is the group's website: <http://www.ptxofficial.com/>

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We have a seven-part closer this week that might require some Kleenex. Maybe a box. The subject? The Best Surprise Military Homecomings. We start with Part 5 that begins with a high school football player's returning dad who is dressed up as a member of the opposing team and goes on from there...

Part 5 (4 Mins.)


Part 4 (6 Mins.)


Part 3 (4 Mins.)

Part 2 (4 Mins.)


Part 1 (5 Mins.)


Man's Best Friend can be surprised too…

Dogs Part 1 (4 Mins.)


Dogs Part 2 (4 Mins.)


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Pics of the Week

This is a Boeing C-17 Globemaster, one of
the largest airplanes in the world.

This is the interior of the Boeing C-17
     Globemaster outfitted for military use…

The people below are flying Coach in a civilian version of a
    Boeing C-17 Globemaster operated by Southwest Airlines...


Scrolling Box

This is the message box, using the scroller component.



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