Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Flowers Keep Blooming Around My House

It's a slow Sunday, rainy and quiet, so I just went through a few of the photos I took in my gardens in St. Albans, Vermont so far this summer.  

Check out a few images to brighten up your drizzly Sunday.
Plants in a pot on my deck soak up evening sun.  

A peony captures the last light of a setting sun.  

Close up of a white peony.  

Some festive lillies  

Lillies, with more colorful blooms in the background.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jailed Robber Sues Victims Who Objected To Being Robbed

A guy in jail four years after robbing a pizzeria still has his feelings hurt.
Nigel Sykes objects to
robbery victims objecting
to his robbery attempt.  

During the robbery, restaurant employees wrestled the gun away from Nigel Sykes, then 19, subdued him beat him up and poured hot soup on him to hold him until police arrived.

Police cuffed and tased him, and hauled him off to jail.

Now our robber is suing the police and the pizzeria employees, because they beat him up, he says.

He wants a total of $260,000, including $20,000 from each of the six restaurant employees who subdued him.

Here's an excerpt from the, um, poor fellow's lawsuit, relating what happened once employees got tghe gun away from him.

"All of the...employees participated in punching, kicking and pouring hot soup over my body. I was unarmed and defenseless and had to suffer a brutal beating by all of the employees."

Sykes noted he was knocked unconscious.

OK, I'm not sure I like vigilante justice, but it sounds like the employees understandably wanted to disable this loser so he wouldn't cause more havoc.  They'd taken the gun away from him. but they didn't want him to hurt anybody.

The robber had fired the gun once, narrowly missing an employee.  So I can see why the restaurant employees were pretty energized about the situation.

In other words, getting beat up is an on the job hazard for robbers.

Deal with it, sucker.

Unless there's information I'm not aware of, I hope this lawsuit is quickly dismissed.

According to the News Journal of Delaware (warning: If you click on the link, a video autoplays, I hate that). Sykes was linked to at least eight other robberies.

During the court proceedings that led to his prison term, he tried to withdraw a guilty plea, saying "I'm not good at making good choices."

I'll say!

A judge overruled him and put him in jail.

While our robber is in jail, maybe he can think of getting a job once he's out of jail, one that won't get him beat up.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Another Politician Tries To Outcrazy The Crazy: Would Arrest Federal Employees In Wyoming

This guy probably would like to see
strip mines in Yellowstone Park.  
Meet Taylor Haynes, our latest in a series of crazies running for public office.

This guy, I think is almost as wacko as the guy I told you about recently who wants to nullify an Oklahoma election because he thinks his opponent is a body double or hologram.

No body doubles in this Wyoming case, that I know of.

But Taylor Haynes has aspirations to become the state's next governor.

His first idea is crazy enough. He wants to open Yellowstone National Park to mining and logging.

I supposed that would make money, but what of the $723.3 million all those tourists to the national park bring to Wyoming?

He later backed off on the idea a bit because of an outcry, saying he was just trying to call attention to Yellowstone, is all. 

OK, whatever.

But that mining, grazing idea is stirring in Haynes head.

He would rid Wyoming of the federal workers who manage parks, mining, grazing, that sort of thing.  aUm, since when is Wyoming an independent country?

Anyway, according to the Casper Star-Tribune, here's what Haynes would do:

"He would send federal agencies a certified letter inviting them to a meeting where he will explain his plans. They would then all have to be gone from the state of Wyoming by the day he takes office in January, 2015, or risk being jailed for "impersonating a law enforcement officer in Wyoming."

However, Haynes would be nice enough to offer these people state jobs to replace the federal jobs they lost.

Haynes apparently doesn't have a good chance of winning the Wyoming gubernatorial contest. Which is good, since it would be a bummer to fall into a coal mine while trying to witness Old Faithful.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Way Too Overly Sensitive Workers Get People Thrown Out of Donut Shop, Plane

A mother and her four year old son
are banned from this doughnut shop
because her kid asked a too personal question.  
Gawker had two stories yesterday on how overly sensitive workers got people thrown out of a donut shop and a plane.  

In the first instance, a four year old boy named Justin Otero asked a woman in a donut shop if she was pregnant. The woman in question was not expecting.

Justin's mother, Rebecca Denham, said she was mortified and profusely apologized to the woman. The woman accepted the apology and all was good.

Or not.

According to television station WSFB when Justin and his mother went to the donut shop the next day they were told to get out, because Justin is "rude" Denham said, relating what the store manager said. She tried to explain the situation, but to no avail.

After the "pregnant" incident, Denham said she explained to her son that while curiosity is a good thing, he shouldn't ask such personal questions of strangers. He "sort of" gets it, says Denham, which is a good start.

If anyone should be offended here, it's the not pregnant woman. But she shrugged it off. If the donut shop bans everyone who commits a social faux pas, then there will be a lot of unsold donuts going stale on the store's shelves.

Next, we go to a Southwest Airlines flight, where Duff Watson and his two daughters were trying to get from Denver to Minneapolis.

Watson was unhappy with a gate agent and Tweeted his displeasure with "Kimberly." Apparently, Kimberly saw the Tweet and had Watson and the daughters kicked off the flight as a "security risk."

They were allowed back on after Kimberly made Watson delete the Tweet.  (Watson says he now regrets backing down and should have retained the Tweet.

Here's the "security threat" in question:

As you can see, Watson didn't exactly threaten to blow up the plane.

Southwest later apologized to Watson, but Watson is pissed and said he won't fly Southwest anymore.

Maybe Kimberly shouldn't have been so sensitive. Her job is no doubt hard, but she just made it a lot harder by causing a Federal Production over a Tweeted insult.

That is, if she still has a job. Southwest probably isn't too keen on the PR problem.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dog Launches Formerly Homeless Guy's Thriving Arts Career

John Dolan and his buddy and artistic muse George
Photo by David Levene for The Guardian  
John Dolan, in his early 40s, was a homeless heroin addict in Britain.

Somebody sold him a charming dog named George for the price of a can of beer.

Dolan and George quickly became close buddies, and Dolan realized unless he got his act straightened out, he'd go to prison, lose George and God know what would happen to George.

Dolan recognized having a dog companion is great, but also a responsibility, so he had to take responsibility.

So Dolan began drawing sketches of George, and his surroundings in London. The sketches really are quite good.

One of John Dolan's sketches of George.  
According to The Guardian newspaper, a guy named Richard Howard Griffin saw Dolan and his sketches. He thought they were quite good, too. Howard Griffin is into street art and is a gallery owner.

He put on an exhibition of Dolan's drawings last fall.

The exhibition turned out to be a sellout, a second one just opened. The sketches often sell for more than $5,000 apiece, according to the Huffington Post. 

Dolan is releasing a memoir, called "John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life"

Dolan told the Guardian George was his lifesaver: "I feel like he's a guardian angel. If it hadn't been for him, I'd have never picked up my pen."

Dolan said he knows he has to be careful. Now that all this money is rolling in, he could slide back into heroin use. He can afford it.

Or, actually, Dolan says he can't. Yes, he's got the money for the drugs, but he's also got George. And he can't let him down. So he's staying clean.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weird Creationist Guy Says Space Exploration Waste Of Time Because Aliens On Other Planets Are Doomed To Hell

I wonder if it's a sin that Ken Ham
doesn't seem to use his God-given gift
of intellectual curiosity.  
I don't know about you, but I always get a bit of a thrill when astronomers find something way out in space that's cool.

More planets, more strange places, even parts of the universe that could support intelligent life.  

Ken Ham doesn't get such a thrill. Maybe because his world doesn't support intelligent life.

He's that famous creationist who says God created the world something like 6,000 years ago, that evolution doesn't exist. He notably debated Bill Nye (the science guy) on this subject not long ago, and from my perspective, it didn't go well for Ham.

But Ham is back! He's got an op-ed, timed the other day for the 45th anniversary of the moon landing He said space exploration is a complete waste of money and time.

Especially since space aliens probably don't exist, and if they do, they're damned to hell.

He writes: "Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that they would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!"

The exclamation point is Ham's.  He's flabbergasted that anyone would have any curiosity about anything going on beyond Ham's tiny little fundamentalist Christian world.

Ham goes on:

"And I do believer there can't be other intelligent beings in outer space  because of the meaning of the gospel....You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam's sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam's sin, but because they are not Adam's descendants, they can't have salvation."

I'm confused by so much of this, I'm afraid. First of all, I've always wondered why some people thing God is such a control freak and a passive-aggressive guilt tripper that when this Adam guy supposedly screwed up once, it's everybody else's fault as well.

Even if Adam was there and improperly ate the apple, you and I weren't there. We had nothing to do with it. So don't tell me I'm a sinner, at least for that reason.

It's probably good that space aliens are not descendants of Adam and Eve. The only way Adam and Eve could have propogated the human race is through incest.

That's one reason evolution works better for me. (The more important reason is science seems to have more evidence on its side)

Ham also throws in some lines that are slightly off topic, but still reflect his deep, deep lack of intellectual curiosity. I have to wonder if some people who are that into extreme religion use it as crutch so they don't have to think.

Anyway, there's this gem:

"The Earth was created for human life. And the sun and moon were created for signs and our season - and to declare the glory of God."

Well, yes, the Earth, the sun and the moon are pretty impressive. But so are the zillions of stars and planets and other known and unknown objects in the universe. Don't all those things declare the glory of God, too?

Here's more: "Many secularists want to discover alien life hoping that aliens can answer the deepest questions of life. 'Where did we come from?' and 'What is the purpose and meaning of life?' But such people are ignoring the revelation from the infinite God behind the whole universe. The Creator has told us where we came from: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'  And He told us what life's purpose is 'Fear God and keep his commandments'

What do I know? Maybe there is a God who created the whole universe.  And for that matter set in motion evolution. If that's true, there's a truly impressive God right there, let me tell ya.

But are purpose in life is to "fear God and keep his commandments."  Life is to be feared? No boldly going where no man has gone before?

I like to think God, if there is one,  wants us to go boldly where no man has gone before. Might bring him closer to him, for all I know.

As Salon points out, the most infuriating thing about Ham is he thinks all the answers are in the Bible, or at least his interpretation of it. His world does not extend beyond that book.

He has no intellectual curiosity at all. He'll never ask why about anything, which is totally sad. Even worse, other people buy his argument and they won't ask questions as well.

Which begs the point: If there is a God, why did he give us the ability to be curious, to ask questions, to explore? Why bother if if God doesn't want us to use these skills.

Look, believe what you want. Don't be that curious if you don't want to. Find all the easy answers through religion. It's your right. Go for it.  But leave me out of it.

Salon goes on to quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, who caused a great stir earlier this year with his series "Cosmos : A Spacetime Odyssey."

In it, Tyson said: "It's OK not to know all the answers....It's better to admit our ignorance, than to believe answers that might be wrong. Pretending to know everything closes the door to finding out what's really there."

Ham his closed his door tight. And if you shut the door to your own curiosity, your life becomes stilted, meaningless, and in my view, not what God intended.

My favorite type of kid are those youngsters, maybe four or five years old, who constantly pester you with "Why?" questions. About everything.

When those kids do that, it makes me feel like the kids are alright.

Ham, sadly, is not.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best Video Release Yet in Weird Al Yankovic's Video Week

Weird Al Yankovic released a video each day for the past week of song parodies, including a grammar lesson set to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and a study in tackiness to Pharrell's "Happy"
A still from Weird Al Yankovic's crazy and
hilarious "Lame Claim to Fame"  video

The best one came out yesterday. It's fun because it skewers all those people in social media who name drop.

The slightest brush with celebrity makes people go gaga if they drank at the same bar Lady Gaga did back in 2011. Or something.

This Weird Al release is called "Lame Claim to Fame"

We get lines like "I threw up in an elevator next to Christian Slater," or "I have a car that used to belong to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s uncle" and "A friend of mine in high school had jury duty with Art Garfunkle"

You get the point. Who really cares if you once walked down the same street Kim Kardashian did ten years ago?

Even better, the tune Weird Al Yankovic uses for this parody is a lot like Southern Culture On The Skids' song "Camel Walk"

I LOVE Southern Culture on the Skids. I'll skip describing whether I've ever been in close proximity to them, in honor of Weird Al Yankovic's video.

Here's the stop action madness of "Lame Claim to Fame" Enjoy!