Saturday, August 31, 2013

You Have To Buy Your Christmas Stuff Now, October Probably Too Late, Retailers Say

It's Labor Day weekend folks! Time to get your Christmas shopping done!

Yep, the nation's retailers, as they do every year, want you to buy all your Christmas stuff months before you need it. And if there's stuff you need now, like sunscreen, barbecue supplies, too bad! You should have thought to buy that in February, you moron!
Better get your Christmas shopping done now
if not sooner, say retailers  

The retailers decreed long ago that we are not to buy stuff when we need them.  That's why winter clothing appears in stores in July at the latest, Halloween candy appeared in June, and all the Christmas stuff is out now.

I keep seeing these vague explanations of why retailers give us all this "Christmas creep." where goods appropriate for the holidays appear on store shelves now, instead of November or December when you actually need it.

Retailing is supposed a rough and tumble business, and to get your dollars, the thinking goes, they have to be the first with seasonal stuff. Which is why we're awash in Christmas decorations here in August at the same time half the nation is baking in a heat wave and people want to buy nonexistent beach towels and swimwear.

Or, they say, people love holidays like Christmas and retailers are obliging them by offering them holiday stuff now. Of course I haven't seen any polling that proves this.

Really. I only know a few people who are that enthusiastic about Christmas, and there are specialty stores that cater to them.

My theory is retailers are trying to make us buy stuff months before we need them because they hate us. Or, more politely, they just want our money.

The basic fact that they want our money is fine. They have to make a profit. But the business model I like is long gone. It used to be stores sold us quality stuff at a time of year we wanted it. We'd get what we want, the stores would get our money and both the store and us were happy that everyone was happy.

What they're doing is training us to panic. We now know we can't buy things we need when we need them, so we have to rush to buy them six months before they do us any good. They triggers our hoarding instincts. If we perceive things are going to be scarce when we need them, we panic and get more than what we need now.

So we end up stuck with the 12 Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer figurines we never needed but decided we had to buy because there will be no Christmas gifts available for purchase around Thanksgiving.

Plus we're out the $9.99 (plus shipping!) for each of these useless Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer figurines we, and nobody else really wants.

It's hot and sunny outside in Vermont today. I need sunscreen. But I'm out. Should have bought more in February. Thanks, nation's retailers. Only you forgot if I die of skin cancer, I can't buy any more of your useless goods. So maybe you won't get rich off me any more.

In any event, I've got a business proposal out there for anyone who is interested. You'll make billions out of the idea and you'll make the Waltons Family of Walmart look like paupers.

The deal is, if you go with this idea, you have to give me just one percent of the profits. I'll be a billionaire, too, under this scenario.

This is the plan: We open a national chain of department stores that sell things only when people need them. Imagine the joy of finding ample supplies of Halloween candy in mid-October, plentiful back to school clothes in August, beachwear in June and tons of Christmas decorations in early and mid December.

I bet our stores would constantly be mobbed with happy customers. It'll be the most successful store in the history of the nation.

Trust me.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Didn't Think Diplomacy Involved Yelling "#&@(@!!!!!"

This guy might not have been the United States' best diplomat.

As you can see from the video in this post, the meeting on a narrow street in Malta did not go well.
Our Man in Malta fails at his peacekeeping skills.

His car met up with another, and one had to back up. Apparently, our Man in Malta didn't want to be the one to back down.

You can tell in this extremely NSFW video (because of language) when the U.S. diplomat says "I'm going to beat your fat fucking Maltese ass all over this goddam street!"

Well, then. Temper, temper. I can't imagine U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talking like that to say, the British foreign minister.

Our Man in Malta is apparently not in Malta anymore. The U.S. government has recalled him and apologized for the undiplomatic diplomat. He has not been publicly identified. I'd still love to find him to detemine whether he things the argument was worth it.

It's a lesson to our former Man in Malta. The cameras are everywhere, and there's no sense in losing your temper.  Overreacting just a wee bit, were we?

Now that it appears you're losing your job with the U.S. diplomatic corp, you can maybe get a job on a cable news show. They behave like that all the time there. You'll fit right in.

Here's the video, if you dare:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

California Rim Fire Time Lapse Finds Beauty In Awfulness

Everybody, including the people who made the video in this post, can agree that there is nothing good to say about the massive Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California.
Rim fire in California in this photo by Don Bartlett
of the Los Angeles Times.  

It has already burned through more than 300 square miles of forest, and the fire rages on. It'll take weeks to fully put out, we're told.

The video, below, though, shows some cool time lapse images of the huge fire taken from a variety of perspectives. The fire has a certain beauty, even if it destroys huge tracts of forest and threatens a lot of property.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Apparently, Retrieving A Stolen Sandwich From A Trash Can Is Stealing At Starbucks

From The Slog blog in The Stranger in Seattle, we have news of a guy who was fired from a Starbucks for stealing.
This guy says he retrieved a discarded sandwich from
the trash at Starbucks. A firing offense?  

Nope, he wasn't sampling all the coffees or anything like that. Store employees had thrown out some wrapped sandwiches which had passed their sell-by date.

The employee, Coulson Loptmann, said he was starving, so he retrieved the sandwich since nobody else wanted it.

But that was stealing, according to The Slog, and Loptmann was fired. 

Yes, yes, I suppose Starbucks was looking for an excuse to Loptmann and just picked the stupidest one. But he says he wasn't on the boss's shit list until this happened.

Loptmann said he's on food stamps since he couldn't get enough hours to work full time at Starbucks, and the constantly shifting schedule made it hard to obtain a second job to make ends meet.

Unless they hated this guy, don't you think firing a guy for stealing a stale sandwich from the garbage can is a bit harsh?

I can only think of a few reasons why they did this:

1. The aforementioned theory the boss just hates this guy.
2. The boss is a jerk, and wanted to demonstrate who is in charge, so he put the hammer down on Loptmann just for sport and an example.
3. Starbucks didn't want the negative publicity about low wages and low hours, so they fired this guy to shut all the employees up who were tempted to do something like this because they have no money. If this is the case, the plan backfired.
4. Starbucks doesn't want employees getting sick on discarded food, as a spokesman for the company said. But Loptmann said nobody mentioned his health. They just yelled at him for stealing.
5. Outfits like Starbucks are hoarders, and they don't want anybody taking anything, including their garbage.
6. Whoever is in charge of the rules wants to demonstrate that even if you're poor or broke, you have no business taking something for free. Even if nobody wants that item.
7.. Somebody hid a valuable gold coin in the discarded sandwich, Loptmann knew it and wanted to make a killing.

Vote for your favorite theory!

Bet They Had An Easy TIme Identifying THIS Wanted Guy!

From The Smoking Gun, we have this mug shot of a guy wanted on an arrest warrant in Idaho.
"Ma'am, can you describe the suspect? "

Hey, if you like tattoos, fine. If you really, really like them, um, OK.

Just remember, bud. If you look too distinctive, maybe it will be easier for the cops to find you.

Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hilarious Pop Culture Collision: Breaking Bad and Miley Cyrus

Somebody named Sam Barnett on YouTube just made an inspired pop culture mashup of two of the biggest, frivolous things going on out there now.
Hank from "Breaking Bad" appearing not
to enjoy Miley Cyrus' performance  

As most of us know, "Breaking Bad" is probably the most talked about television series out there now.

On Sunday's episode of "Breaking Bad" there was an incredibly pivotal scene that I won't describe much in case you haven't seen it yet and want to.

Anyway, two characters from "Breaking Bad," Hank and Marie, were watching something shocking and horrifying. That's one part of the mashup.

Another shocking and horrifying thing going on Sunday was the Great Miley Cyrus Crisis of 2013, in which, as we all know, involved her, um, saucy performance at the Video Music Awards.

So, on YouTube, somebody decided to mash up the two most talked about pop culture moments of the week. It's pretty hysterical. Watch:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Best Song About Lost Love Ever

I'm still in the afterglow of my first wedding anniversary, so maybe I'm being too sentimental about things like marriage.
96-year-old songwriter and devoted
husband Fred Stobaugh. 

But I love this story. Fred Stobaugh's wife recently died after the two had been married for 75 years (!!!!)

He misses her terribly, and one day, lonely, he sat down and wrote the lyrics of a love song to her. It's called "Oh Sweet Lorraine." Trust me, it's a beautiful song.

Here's some of the lyrics:

"Oh sweet Lorraine
I wish we could do
All the good times all over

My memories will always
Linger on
Oh sweet Lorraine."

"It just fit her," Stobaugh said of the song he wrote.

Meanwhile, basically in another world, a music studio out of Illinois, Green Shoe Studio, was holding a contest to find some undiscovered great musicians.

Stoubaugh came across an ad for Green Shoe Studio's contest, so he sent his lyrics in.  He didn't think it would amount to much. By his own admission, Stobaugh isn't much of a singer. Plus Green Shoe was looking for submissions via email. And videos from YouTube. Stobaugh wasn't exactly into either.

Indeed, what Stobaugh sent wasn't exactly what Green Shoe was looking for to include in the contest, but the people there were blown away by Stobaugh's love, and lyrics and music.

They had to make the world hear this song.

So they brought him in, hired some professional musicians, a good lead singer and did all the bells and whistles to cut a record of Stobaugh's beautiful song. 

Stobaugh said the song brings him some degree of comfort. According to Green Shoe Studio's web site, he said:

"The song really helps me. It really helps me. It just seemed like she's just sort of with me. Which I know she's smiling, she's smiling down and she likes that song, I know."

"Oh Sweet Lorraine" is now available on iTunes, so go ahead and buy.

Stobaugh was there to hear what Green Shoe Studio came up with for "Sweet Lorraine." Here's the video, but a warning: There is a MAJOR Kleenex alert here. You'll need them.

Exactly One Year After Wedding, Even More Glad I Married Jeff

Today is the one year anniversary of my marriage to Jeff Modereger.
The man I was lucky enough to marry
one year ago today.  

On each of the past 365 days I've woken up in the morning, and the first thought that occurs to me is I am married to Jeff. Always, I smile at the thought, and suddenly have the courage to face the day, whatever it brings.

This wonderful marriage is a tonic, an elixir that changes everything in ways I can never explain.

Really, it's just another marriage. People get married all the time. With the death of the odious Defense of Marriage Act, more gay couples like us are getting hitched, too. Marriage is as common as sun rays on a glorious summer morning.

And as special as those rays. Yes, Jeff and I have just another marriage. But when you're in it, like I am, the glow of those sun rays make me feel like I'm walking on air, drinking in love, wanting to live with Jeff forever. And if I can help it, I will do just that.

Last year, in this blog, on the day I married Jeff, I wrote that it was important to make a public statement, to essentially shout from the rooftops that this marriage is a Big Deal. That we had a responsibility to keep the love growing. If only because the world needs more good things.

We've kept that promise. I didn't think I could love Jeff more than I did on that stage at the University of Vermont Royall Tyler Theatre on August 26, 2012 when we said our "I do's."

But, the love has grown deeper.

One of the things I love about this marriage is the little details that wouldn't mean anything to an outsider, but are everything to me.

I embrace the sound of Jeff snoring softly after I get up early in the morning and he sleeps in a bit. The warm smells of the dinner he's making that waft in from the kitchen. His arched eyebrow when I make another smart aleck remark. The way he gets excited like a little kid when he's got a great idea for a show he's designing, a design that the people putting on the play love.

We've settled into the routines of marriage.  We get up, we make ourselves breakfast, one of us takes Jackson the Cocker Spaniel outside. In the evening,  Jeff sits in his easy chair, Jackson draped on the head rest behind him. I rest on the couch, trying desperately, but failing to stop dropping crumbs on the floor as I finish eating dinner.

We shout out the answers to "Jeopardy!" on the TV. I wrestle with Jackson for a bit. Jeff will put the dinner leftovers away.

Then we'll watch "America's Got Talent." or something cheesy like "Project Runway" and do a running, eye rolling commentary. Forgettable stuff, and at the same time, profound.

I imagine most great marriages are something like this. Every day is routine and special at once.

It's been a great year, even thought it came with a lot of  challenges.  One of our beloved dogs, Bailey, died in May.  Together, we cried over Bailey's death and our joined emotions helped get us through.

I suddenly find myself between jobs as we celebrate the one year anniversary of our union.  I bounce my job search ideas off him, he gives me ideas, and the two brains combined ensure that soon, I will be working at rewarding job I love.

Jeff had to travel a lot in the spring and early summer.  It was a constant blur of planes, cars, unfamiliar beds, me feeling lonely at home. I don't know if distance makes the heart grow fonder, but our bond was just as strong as ever when we were hundreds of miles apart.  

I don't know what led us to find each other. I know the mechanics of it all, the initial whiff of interest in each other, the first date, the growing relationship, the deepening connection that led to our marriage. But why did our two lives intersect in the first place?  How did we get so lucky?

The question can't be answered, of course. And probably shouldn't. The mystery is part of the fun.

Maybe some readers are groaning at this flowery tribute to the relationship between Jeff and me. It's just a marriage. And I guess this post is just a love letter to Jeff. I could have kept it all private.

But to me, this marriage is too big to hide away in a little box, to be shared only between Jeff and me. We felt the wonderful support of all our family and friends as we got married on August 26, 2012. That set us off on exactly the right foot. We feel how happy everyone is for us. We feel how people think this marriage is so right.

A great marriage like this affects a lot of people, a lot of bystanders, I hope in a good way. In a world full of ugly wars, ugly politics, disasters, fights, murders, mean people, hate and Miley Cyrus, this marriage is a wondrous refuge.

A refuge for Jeff and me, certainly. And maybe enough to make those we love smile a bit, too. What's the harm in that?  Even if I do blab on and on about something that is "just a marriage."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Feel Safe? Homeland Security Official Wants To Start Homophobic Race War

On Gawker,  we have news of a U.S. Homeland Security official who apparently would just love to start a race war and has a website to promote this idea. 
Does this probably soon to be ex Homeland Security
employee want to start a race war?  

I'm not sure how a race war would enhance the nation's security but maybe the Homeland Security employee, whose name is Ayo Kimathi, has some idea.

According to Gawker, Kimathi wants the mass murder of whites and the ethnic cleansing of "black skinned Uncle Tom race traitors."

The Southern Poverty Law Center says fellow employees are afraid of Kimathi, saying one day he will go postal and kill a bunch of people.

Homeland Security supervisors say if any employee wants to run a web site, they have to get approval for it first. He apparently told his supervisors that the web site would have entertainment content and sell concert tickets, which sounded benign enough and was approved.

Guess they should have checked the content of the site a little more extensively.

In any event, I  think Kimathi's job at Homeland Security is just about done.  I also hope there's no other people in the agency like this guy. We'd have to rename it Homeland Insecurity.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

People Who Do Things Much Better Than You: George Dennehy

Occasionally, I highlight people who do things much better than you. Not to make you feel bad, but just to make you go wow.
Musician George Dennehy  

Today's installment is George Dennehy, who was born without arms. He's also got a taste for playing the guitar. No problem, though!

He just plays the instrument with his feet. And very, very well, and he seems to be launching a successful music career. Watch and see if you can do this:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Two Very Weird And Stupid Reactions To Gay People

Two items in the news this week highlight some of the bizarre contortions people go through when anything remotely gay ends up on their radar screen.
Church kicks this woman's family out of church
because the family refused to hate her because she's gay.  

The first is a church in Tennessee who kicked an entire family out of the congregation. Why?

The daughter in one family, named Kat Cooper,  won same sex domestic partnership benefits at the police department she works at, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. 

Worse, in the eyes of the church, the family loves the daughter and wouldn't turn their backs on her.

"Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children--and even extended family members," Cooper told the Times Free Press.

Well, that's grounds for excommunication. How dare family members love each other!  What, are we supposed to hate our way to heaven?

The family could have stayed with the church had they gotten in front of the congregation and repented for the "sin" of supporting Cooper.

But the family, reasonably enough, says there's no sin to repent.

The family is upset they're being forced to leave the church, and I can understand that, since it was such an important part of their lives.  But they're probably better off without the "church" in the long run.

I'm frankly surprised anybody still belongs to this church. Every family has a member who has done something to "violate" the rules of this church, I'm sure.   Heck, any random "impure" thought could get you kicked out. And I have to wonder what nasty stuff goes on in the paster's mind?

I'm sure this church will wither and die.  Good.

In the other case, via BoingBoing, a man named Michael Jensen had the novel he co-authored canceled by the publisher because his bio said he lived with his male partner. OMG!

"They knew I was gay when they signed me," said Mr. Jensen. "If tey didn't want to print the bio of an author who happened to be gay, then they shouldn't have sign an author who happened to be gay."

Jensen said the owner of Cedar Fort Publishing, Lyle Mortimer went off on him: "The conversation really devolved quickly...... Lyle started yelling about my 'agenda' and how I was trying to destroy families. He even started saying inappropiate things about how God had given me a penis for a reason. It was very uncomfortable."

What, God gave Jensen a penis so he could  write a novel? I'm confused. I hope Jensen finds another publisher for his novel. Maybe a publisher which does what they're supposed to do, like find good books to publish, and not worry about what the author does when he's not writing.

What a novel idea!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Not To Rob A Restaurant

I admit, the video in this post might be some sort of set up, some staged thing, but I like to think it's real.

It's supposedly a surveillance camera that captured an attempted robbery at a restaurant in Brazil.

The two robbers' plan seems sound enough on paper, but things went wrong, at least, as I said, this isn't some gag.  Still funny, though.

Freaky!!! Trees Sink Out Of Sight In Louisiana Bayou

I imagine Louisiana bayous are scary places. God knows what kinds of creatures live there, what odd things happen amid the humidity and the mosquitoes and the swampy tangle of vegetation.
Aerial view of Bayou Corne sinkhole in
Louisiana which yielded the dramatic video in
this post.   

Well, we got one window into that today.

In a video that's spreading like wildfire, we see a bunch of big trees sink out of sight in Bayou Corne,  as if tugged down underground by a huge beast living down under.

Amazing to watch them go straight down. It's part of a large sinkhole that appeared more than a year ago, and the edges of it continue to collapse. One of those collapses explains these trees going away.

The sinhole is now 25 acres in size, according to The Advocate in Louisiana. The edges of it could continue collapsing for years. 

Here's the wild video: Makes you not want to take a canoe into a marsh or pond anymore.

Giant Deer Statue Transport Seen In Dashcam Goes Hilariously Awry

YouTube is awash in videos of dashcam videos from Russia showing ridiculous crashes, bad drivers, stupid people and other assorted weird moments. (All, right, this is supposedly in Kazakhstan, but close enough)

But for some reason, the video in this post struck me as rising above the scrum of Russian dash cam videos. It was certainly enough to have me laughing out loud.

For some reason, somebody was hauling a giant statue of a deer in a dump truck along a busy highway.

Watch what happens:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Awesome Video: The Man With The Magic Beard

A stumbled upon a video made by a guy who has way, way, way too much fun with stop motion camera work, which means we can delight in his awesomely creative work.
A still from Ben Garvin's awesome "Magic Beard" video  

Photographer and videographer Ben Garvin, who works at the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press,  has a beard, or at least did have one.

He decided to have a bit of fun with his facial hair, so he patiently did his stop motion magic for his magic beard.

Unfortunately, the link Garvin provides on how the video was made doesn't work, so I'll check back later to see if that's fixed.

In the meantime, watch this delightful music with an almost equally delightful soundtrack.  Who knew a somewhat scraggly beard could be so much fun?

Horror: "Sharknado" Apparently Inspiring Other Wacko Movies

Well, I guess it was inevitable.

"Sharknado" that ridiculous movie about a tornado coming ashore in Los Angeles and dropping man eating sharks to terrorize the city's residents, became the talk of the summer.
Did this ridiculous movie launch a bunch
of imitators and can I join the bandwagon?  

Why, I don't know. It sure is beyond over the top, but still.

The worst effect of the Sharknado summer sensation is inspiring other movie makers who are trying to top the wacko Sharknado.

A contender that's getting some attention is something called "Squirrels."  Yes. Squirrels. Apparently in this movie, a gas company's work is disrupting the environment. The squirrels get royally pissed off and start brutally attacking humans.

Yeah. Could happen. Maybe we should all stay safe and avoid squirrel infested forests near fracking sites.

This squirrel movie hasn't been made yet, but there is a trailer. It's worth the watch if you want your daily groan, that's for sure.

This weird horror movie trend is giving me ideas. I could use some money, so maybe I could Kickstart some  ideas for a sort of Vermont based horror movie. Anybody in? I promise not to create Mac Parker style fiasco.

Here's some rough drafts of what I'm talking about:

"Cownado" A manure pit explosion in Enosburg, Vermont sends crazed, man eating cows raining down on St. Albans during their annual maple festival. St. Albans seems doomed until a five year old kid calms the bovines down with maple creemees.

"Hipster Horror"  A bad batch of artisan, free range, organic microbrew ends up in the hands of the oh-so-cool hipsters that always hang around Burlington, turning them into zombies that attack the tourists from Quebec. Cases of Old Milwaukee Light save the day.

"Mount Peculiar" An evil executive from a manufacturer of genetically altered seeds aims to make state lawmakers in Montpelier do their bidding by giving the legislature "special" corn to much on during a Chamber of Commerce barbecue. The plan goes awry when the genetically altered corn turns the lawmakers in uber-liberal Vermont into right wing Tea Party types. A civil war results, the state is split in half and the Northeast Kingdom becomes the country of "Teaghanistan."

"RutVegas" The city of Rutland is often jokingly called Rutvegas, but the joke is on Vermont in this movie, when a meth dealer from upstate New York arrives in town, sells a weird batch of the meth to local residents, who go on a rampage, turning quiet Rutland into a dazzling gambling mecca that makes Las Vegas look like Dubuque on a particularly quiet evening.

All these ideas could happen, right? Please respond to this blog to donate to these movies.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Breaking Bad" Fans in Connecticut Fail To Give 911 Operators A Break

I can certainly understand the rage of somebody who is a HUGE fan of a television show, only to have the cable service fail just befor the program starts.
Yeah, it's a a great show, but calling 911 when the cable
fritzes out just before the show begins?  

Like many people, some residents of Connecticut were salivating over a new episode of "Breaking Bad" Sunday night when the cable went out.

Some did the only logical stupidest possible thing. They called 911 to help. As most of us know and Fairfield Police Department  had to remind people, 911 is for life threatening emergencies.

Like the kind of murder and mayhem and drugs you might find depicted on "Breaking Bad." Not the frustration of being able watch the (fictional!!) mayhem on your big screen TV because the cable is out.

Fairfield Police actually had to issue this Facebook post:

"NOTICE: We are receiving numerous 911 calls regarding the Cablevision outage. This is neither an emergency or a police related concern. Please direct your inquiries to Cablevision.
911 should only be called for Life Threatening Emergencies ONLY.
Incidents that are not of an emergency nature may be reported to the Fairfield Police Department at 203-254-4800.
Misuse of the 911 system may result in an arrest.

Besides, what were the 911 responders, police, and fire and rescue and whatnot supposed to do about the cable television problem?  I don't think they have a magic wand that switches the cable back on when it hiccups. 

And really, you might feel like you're having a heart attack for missing "Breaking Bad" but you're not. Trust me. Even though I'm not a doctor.

I supposed if you were that mad about the cable dying before the show started you could go hit somebody who works at the cable company. Then it would become a matter for 911 after all, wouldn't it?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Incredibly Offensive Letter To Mom With Autistic Kid Proves Trolls Are Incredibly Stupid, Too

There's nothing worse out there than mean and dumb.

You know the type. The idiot who spouts off to anyone, angrily about some ill-conceived complaint they have. And said complaint is based on extreme stupidity. They have no idea what they're talking about. The combination makes these mean and dumb types the butt of everyone's jokes.

And it makes their already horrible lives worse.

Enter the moron in Newcastle, Ontario who left an incredibly awful note to the mother of an autistic boy in which the moron tells the mom she's incredibly selfish to allow the boy in the neighborhood to make noises.
From Buzzfeed, the incredibly
offensive note to a mom whose kid'
has autism.  

The letter writer says everyone in the neighborhood hates the kid and urges the mom to euthanize the kid, I guess to somehow make the moron's life better.

Of course, that's not going to happen.

The neighborhood where this autistic kid hangs out is indeed up in arms, but not over the 13 year old boy, named Max. The residents are fine with Max. They are, predictably and admirably, not fine with the letter writer.

They're trying to figure out who wrote it, so that Max's mom, Karla Begley, can press charges if there is a legal basis to do so.

Or if criminal charges are inappropriate, we can at least find out who the twit of a letter writer was, so he or she can be publicly shamed far and wide.

Somebody will figure out that person's identity, I'm sure.  And the moronic troll can suffer the consequences of worldwide derision, thereby making his or her life more miserable than it already is.

Which is precisely the only thing trolls are good at.

How Hiding Spoons In Underwear Is Combating Exploitation Of Young Women. (Really!!)

The idea at first glance sounds frivolous and silly:  An organization dedicated to fighting the exploitation of women is suggesting young women and girls are who are being packed off into forced marriages hide spoons in their underwear.
Could this common dinnertime object
save women from exploitive forced marriages?  

You can't imagine how that would help until you dig deeper into the reasoning behind it.

Often, families in countries like Britain send their young female family members off to overseas forced marriages that might be financially lucrative for the family but devastate the lives of the young women.

The spoons hidden in the underwear set off the airport security alarms. The young women with the spoons are then invariably led, alone except for security personnel,  into a back room for a more detailed search for explosives or whatnot.

Away from their family members, the young women can then tell the security agents they need help to prevent them from being packed off to a forced marriage somewhere.  That's how they save themselves.

The spoon idea is the brainchild of a charitable group called Karma Nirvana, which says summer is the high season for shipping young brides to other countries for forced marriages. The kids are out of school, and less likely to be missed if they disappear from sight abrutptly.

I think the spoon idea is genius because it's an innovative way to help young women and it's so crazy sounding that it's bound to generate publicity. Which could only help expand Karma Nirvana's donor base.

More proof that activism and marketing don't have to be mutually exclusive

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Police Advice: Never Drive A Smashed Up Car With Deployed Airbags at 95 MPH While Drunk and Foaming At the Mouth

Talk about having a bad day.

Police decided to stop a guy named Alan Alt on Interstate 95 in Florida just because he was driving a smashed up car with deployed airbags while speeding at 90 mph while drunk AND while foaming at the mouth, according to the Sun Sentinal of Florida.
Alan Alt actually looking none
the worse for wear in this mug
shot after his rough night in Florida  

Some of the quotes and sentences from the Sun Sentinel article are precious. Take this one:

"I did not, wait a minute, I did drink today," a shirtless and shoeless Alan Alt told the deputy, according to the arrest report."

And this:

"He was also foaming at the mouth and throwing up, and had to be helped out of the vehicle. Alt pleaded with the deputy not to arrest him.

Um, how could the deputy not arrest you, Alan?

There are a few mysteries in this story. Exactly what did he hit with his car, and why was he foaming at the mouth? There's no evidence our buddy had rabies or anything.

Apparently, this isn't the only example of somebody driving down a road with a smashed up car.

Check out this video. I have no idea how this guy could keep this car going, but what the heck:

In any event, this is a cautionary tale for you partiers out there. It's a bad idea to smash up your car and then speed down the highway at a zillion miles per hour. Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Today's Diet Tip: Tapeworms Aren't Most Effective Method of Weight Loss

There's so many diet gimmicks out there. Mostly because so many of us need or want to lose weight.

So the market for diet products is HUGE, so to speak.
The world's worst diet scheme EVER  

Some diet schemes are better than others.   One method that is not recommended is ingesting tapeworms, according to the Des Moines Register.

I  can't believe the Des Moines Register actually had to tell us this, but there are a lot of stupid people out there, apparently.

The theory among the tapeworm enthusiasts is the creature lives inside you, and sucks up all calories from the newly revived Twinkies and the Big Macs you consume on an hourly basis.

Needless to say, there are flaws in this theory. Yes, there's the EWWWW!!!! factor, and frankly, that's a biggie for me. Even if tapeworms really were a good weight loss method, I'd rather just stay fat.

But for those who want scientific facts, I have those, too. Tapeworms mainly ingest needed vitamins, especially B12 not the calories so much.  So you just get unhealthy,  not necessarily skinny.

And, they really don't eat much, so they won't make you lose weight much.

But unfortunately, the tapeworm trend is hot, hot, hot. Women in Shanghai are reportedly snapping them up to get their svelte figure back. I don't know if being sick is that attractive, but what do I know about fashion and looks?

This is one trend I won't follow. Yeah, I could stand to lose a little weight. But maybe I'll just do the tried and true method. You know, eat healthier food, maybe exercise a little. more.

Because I don't want anything gross living inside me.

Sheep Have Huge Protest Rally, Protest Idiot Yelling Nonsense At Them

Protest rallies are all the same, at least the peaceful ones.
To the demonstrations, sheeple!  

Somebody with a bullhorn yells that the demonstrators want X

The demonstrators yell back that they indeed want X.

On and on it goes, until everybody is so fed up with all the yelling that nobody wants to give the demonstrators the X that they want.

But the herd in the video below is different.  I'm not sure what they want, but they're so great in organizing for their demands that I'm willing to give it to them:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hilarious Instructional Video On How To Mess With Phone Scammer

A video a woman took of herself interacting with a phone scammer is totally worth a hilarious look.
Amy Wellman of Scottsdale Arizona clearly
couldn't believe how dumb the phone scammer
she was talking to was.  

Let's face it, most of us don't fall for scammers trying to get our bank account information, and the calls, emails, etc. are beyond annoying.

But the Arizona woman decided to have just a bit of fun with it. She scammed the scammer, who totally fell for it.

The woman, Amy Wellman, 24, of Scottsdale, said the opportunity to make a fool of the scammer was too good to pass up, says television station KPHO.

While scamming the scammer, Wellman adopted the persona of a not very bright person. The person on the other line was the one who was supremely stupid, given that she fell for Wellman's contention that the name of her bank is Piggy Bank, and that her mailing address is "Dickberry Lane."

In an airhead, sing song voice, Wellman kept interrupting the scammer with comments like "I'm going to quit my job now that I'm getting all this money."

The scammer warns her that using the windfall for illegal or evil purposes is not allowed, but assures Wellman that using the money to buy weed is OK.

The video is 12 minutes long, but it's worth watching for laugh out loud hilarity, and to give you ideas on how to manage scammers the next time they contact you. Here's the video:

Crime 101: Never Make An Appointment To Commit A Robbery

Two guys tried to hold up a Chicago restaurant recently, but when they showed up, the lunch rush was on, the owner was busy, plus the owner didn't want to bother or endanger the customer with a robbery.
These two guys made an appointment to
commit a robbery, Chicago police said.  

Could the robbers return an hour later, when things weren't so hectic? the restaurant owner inquired.

"Sure, no problem!" said the robbers. And sure enough, the robbers returned, according to CBS2 in Chicago.

The robbers, Domingo Garcia-Hernadez and Mario Garcia, probably have to go back to robbery school for this one. It's one thing to make a restaurant reservation for a nice meal, but a robbery?

It didn't help that the gun one of the robbers threatened the owner with appears to have been a squirt gun. Maybe bring a Super Soaker to a robbery next time, guys?

The restaurant called police, putting them on alert that there might be an attempted robbery in an hour and they might be interested in it.

When the robbers duly returned after an hour, the restaurant was indeed less busy than it was before. The robbers demanded food and $100. The restaurant owner, Mohammed Muhki, feigning forgetfulness, said he'd comply but he had to go get his wife's checkbook to give the robbers their money.

He's going to fork over a personal check for a robbery? Like paying the plumber for a house call?

Of course not! Muhki, "searching for the check book" called the cops, who were waiting nearby. They made the arrest. Which will give time for the robbers to think through their next crime.

We can't wait!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How To Kill Yourself With Summer "Fun"

A standard issue  slip and slide for summer fun is so passe.

In the YouTube video you'll see in this post, some, um, enterprising young men added a twist to a slip and slide that certainly adds to the excitement of the experience.

Judging from the blood spots, it also adds some medical bills to the experience.

In any event, it does look like fun, even though I'd opt for something more sedate to help me survive a summer day. Maybe something like a lounge chair and a margarita.  Fewer injuries that way.

Here's the vid:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reporter's Job Made Easy: Small Town Vermont Newspaper Witnesses Dumb Criminal Story Unfold In Their Parking Lot

The Barton Chronicle is an excellent, scrappy newspaper in Vermont's rural, remote Northeast Kingdom.
The Barton Chronicle in Vermont had a story come
to them, making reporters' day both easy and weird.  

The reporters there are quite capable of taking the initiative of going out and finding local stories to cover, but the other day, they had an easy time of it.

According to the Chronicle, staffers witnessed a man very ineptly steal reporter Paul Lefebvre's already battered Honda CRV from the paper's parking lot in the town of Barton.

Well, that story was easy for the paper to verify. The saw the damn thing unfold themselves.

An editor arriving for an evening shift thought it odd there was a man sitting inside Lefebvre's car. She mentioned it to Lefebvre, who was working in the newspaper office. He looked out the window to see the man drive his car away. Sort of.

The CRV has a stick shift, and the guy had trouble managing that. Lefebvre, in fact was almost able to catch up to the car and the thief on foot, but not quite.  So staffers called the police and posted a note about the theft on the Chronicle's Facebook page.

Lefebvre's car was certainly unique and would stick out in anybody's mind if they saw it, seeing how the back window was busted out and covered with a green tarp and duct tape from an accident a few days ago.

(Speaking for experience, I know reporters, especially those in rural Vermont, don't necessarily make lots of money, so they often find inexpensive ways to repair or replace stuff they need)

A few hours later, people who had seen the Facebook post saw the CRX in the nearby village of Orleans.  Lefebvre called the cops, who went to Orleans pronto and found the suspected car thief emerging from the restroom of a Texaco station.  The alleged thief was promptly arrested.

Judging from the Chronicle article, I'm not sure Lefebvre really wants his car back. Besides the accident it was in, it has needed other costly repairs recently, such as a new water pump, motor and clutch.

But on the bright side, nothing was stolen from the car,  and the paper had an easy time putting an excellent article out for its loyal readers to gander at.

World's Worst Neighbors: Colorado Family Says Residents Hate Their Ramp For Disabled Daughter

In Fountain, Colorado, Vincent and Heidi Giesegh have a daughter who has cerebral palsy, so it's hard for her to get up and down stairs.
The house in Colorado with a handicap access ramp
in this image from KKTV. Neighbors object to
the ramp, saying it brings down property values. 

The couple got approvals from the city and built a handicap access ramp to their front door, and widened their driveway a bit to make room for the van that provides transportation for their teenage daughter.

The ramp looks fine. It even has a nice little flower garden in front of it. The ramp complies with all city rules and building codes, so this is not news, right?

Enter the Giesegh's neighbors, who let's just say I'm glad do not live anywhere near me. The Gieseghs say the neighbors have threatened them with a lawsuit, saying the handicap ramp will bring down their property values, according to television station KKTV.  

I'm not sure how the neighbors think their threats will work. How will the ramp bring down neighborhood property values? Judging from the pictures, it's well constructed, not obtrusive, and the Giesegh home looks tidy and well maintained.

And since the Gieseghs complied with all the zoning and building code rules, there's not a safety problem.

I guess anybody can sue anyone for anything, but the neighbors are wasting their money if they sue, assuming they can find a lawyer who would take on their case.

Bottom line: Given the information we have from news reports, the Gieseghs' neighbors get my nomination as the worst neighbors on the planet. I wonder what would happen if one of those mean neighbors someday need a ramp to get into their own house?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Man Denied Lifesaving Treatment Over 26 Cent Payment Error

A New Jersey man's life is apparently not worth 26 cents.

Especially if that life affects the bottom line of his former employer and an insurance company, it seems to me.
Sergio Branco in this image from
The New Jersey Star Ledger. Insurance
snafus almost killed him.  

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, Sergio Branco came down with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. They found a good match for him, but it's an expensive treatment, costing maybe $500,000.

He took a leave from work, then was canned after Branco's illness left him unable to do his job. He could still get insurance through COBRA and the family was informed on how to make payments and for how much.

A May bill came to $518.26.  Branco's wife wrote a check for $518, accidentally leaving off the 26 cents.

For that mistake, the former employer and Paychex, a third party benefits administrator basically imposed the death penalty on Branco. They would not cover the transplant, according to the Star Ledger. 

You'd think the matter would be handled simply. Paychex, or whoever is running the show could have contacted the Brancos and said, "Hey Dufus! You forgot the 26 cents. Pay up now." If they wanted to be mean, they could have imposed some sort of $10 stupid charge on the Brancos or something.

I'm sure they would have gladly paid up. Nobody would let them, though.

Nope, despite the pleadings of the family, his doctors, it was no go. It was only after the New Jersey Department of Labor, the lawyers and media outlets like the Star Ledger began "meddling" in this situation did it appear Branco's transplant will be covered.

Yes, yes, the parties involved are blaming the whole thing on administrative errors, strict governance rules and that kind of thing.

To be honest, I don't buy it. I smell a big, fat rat.

I have no proof and I could well be wrong. (Please set me straight if I am missing some information here), but here's what my conspiracy-addled mind thinks what happened.  And to be fair, some of the parties might be innocent. Paychex might be under orders from an insurance carrier. Branco's former employer might have their hands tied by an insurance company. Or the employer might have mucked things up with the insurer.

But somebody's to blame.

And somebody would have had to pay for Branco's transplant. Maybe his former employer, or some insurance company thought the price was too steep, that it would cut into profits. Maybe piss off a shareholder or two.

If Branco had the common courtesy and just die of his leukemia and not make a big stink about it, everybody would be happy, goes the logic. Branco's family excepted, of course.

Once again, we have one of those cases where some bureaucrat trying to impress his or her boss with his budget consciousness to save the bottom line was willing to kill somebody with a pen or a stroke of a computer key to do it.

This seems to happen a lot. Often, the cases get media attention. Bad PR is even more expensive than high medical bills, or whatever, so once the journalists start to poke around, things get "resolved."

Have we come down to this? The only way to save an innocent man's life is to threaten somebody with bad press?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Big Fun: Impressionist Sings "Total Eclipse of The Heart" As Cher, Adele, Streisand, Piaf And Many More!

Several web sites, including Gawker, today discovered and brought us the genius of Christina Bianco, who in the video in this post sings the 1980s staple "Total Eclipse Of The Heart."
Christina Bianco does some awesome impressions
in a rendition of "Total Eclipse Of The Heart."  

The over the top, over produced, over sung and overly dramatic but still oddly great song by Bonnie Tyler was a huge hit. And it has been parodied and spoofed ever since.

The song is made incredibly entertaining as Bianco sings the song in the voices of 19 famous divas.   

My favorites in her repertoire are Edith Piaf and Christina Aguilera, but all of them are awesome.

I bet you'll be like me, and laugh out loud at some of the divas doing "Total Eclipse Of The Heart."

From Movies To Storage: A Fun Way To Change a Business

From the JoeMyGod blog comes a fun photo of what happens when a seven-screen movie theater goes under and a self-storage facility takes its place.

The movie marquee is still up, so the self storage company uses the signboard to promote itself as if movies were still being screened.

My favorite in the photo: "It Came From the Closet:

As always, click on the pic to make it bigger and easier to read.

Judge Plays God By Banning Kids God-Like Name

Don't give your kid the first name "Messiah" in parts of Tennessee.

A family court judge has decided that name is already taken, so you have to name your kid something else. Like Martin or whatever.
A Tennessee judge was not happy when
this cute little boy's mom named him "Messiah."  

This turn of events came about because a Tennessee family court judge ruled that the name Messiah is already taken by God and so she ordered the parents to rename the tyke, according to television station WBIR in Knoxville. 

The parents of what was little Messiah were in court because they split up and couldn't agree on what last name the kid should have.

However, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew instead changed the little boy's first name from Messiah to Martin.

"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Ballew said, according to an account by WBIR.

I'm going to defy Judge Ballew here and keep calling the kid Messiah in this post. Here's why: Messiah's mom says she's going to appeal the judge's ruling.

Even though I'm not crazy about Messiah being a first name on aesthetic, not religious grounds,  but I think Mom has a strong case here.

As WBIR reports, Messiah is one of the fastests growing baby names, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.  Should we change the name of every Messiah now living in the United States out of fear God will be ever-so-pissed that people are using his name for mere humans?

The judge said she changed Messiah's name because he's in a region with a lot of Christians and the name would ruffle their feathers. But is that really the judge's problem? And is naming a kid Messiah actually honoring God? I don't know Mom's motivation in naming the kid, but that could be one.

What about people named Jesus? There are a TON of regular people, many of them Hispanics, with the first name Jesus. Should they change their names?

And should we change the names of kids who just have weird first names, because those monikers might bother people?  Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their new bundle of joy North West. (Will their next kid be the sibling's polar opposite, South East?)

After all, people have recently given first names like Couture, Inny, Sesame, Shoog, Burger, Goodluck, Hippo, Mango and Tron to their kids, according to

I think Judge Ballew was playing God when deciding to change the kid's name because it was too much like God's.

So mom's appeal will probably work.

If God doesn't want another kid named Messiah, he'll deal with it, not some ignorant judge from Tennessee.

And who knows if little Messiah from Tennessee is destined for great things in the future?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Context, Please: Why Was This Man Rubbing Buttered Toast On Woman's Car

From South Carolina this week, we get news that a man was arrested for rubbing buttered toast on the windshield of his neighbor's car. 
This man is accused of smearing buttered toast
on a windshield but nobody is telling us why  

The frustrating thing about this report is, there's no context. You told us about the guy with the toast, but you didn't tell us why. Isn't that the most important part of the story?

One dispatch helpfully noted that the estimated damage to the butter-smeared car was $1. Oh, thank you.

Now how are we going to go on with our day not knowing why one would rub buttered toast on a car windshield.

I guess all I can do now is invite readers to submit their own theories as to why this happened. We need to solve this mystery.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

RIP Eydie Gorme

Word came out today that Eydie Gorme died after a brief illness at the age of 84.

I have to admit as a kid I couldn't STAND Eydie Gorme and her husband and singing partner Steve Lawrence. So lovey dovey. So cheesy. So many teeth in those smile.
The late, great Eydie Gorme  

Of course my negative opinion of Gorme and Lawrence was unfair. What's wrong with love? And if they were so happy and in love with each other and their lives, why should I complain?

One has to remember to not get all cynical and eye-rolling with sedate contentment. And Gorme was a talented singer.

Steve and Eydie were together for 55 years. Steve Lawrence released this touching and sad statement about his wife's death.

"Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing."

 Very sweet. Really, I retract any nastiness I had toward  Gorme.

Which would make my mother happy. She LOVED Steve and Eydie.

Goodbye, Eydie. I'm sure whereever you are in the afterlife   will sound sweeter with you there.

Here's perhaps her most famous song. Yes, it's cheesy, but it's become a guilty pleasure of mine:

Worst Co-Workers Ever: Man Says Fellow Employees Repeatedly Tasered Him

Bradley Jones, a guy who until recently worked at Texas car dealership, probably came close to having the world's worst co-workers.
Is Tasering your co-worker really
the best use of time?   

That's because they repeatedly Tased him, because they thought it was funny or something, according to television station KHOU in Houston.

Of course he's suing now, but I have to wonder why the people who victimized him weren't charged with assault. (Criminal charges are still possible, says KHOU)

He seems to have a good case, since may of th tasings appeared on YouTube before they were recently taken down.

Supposedly, the owner of the dealership was in on the Tasing. The boss, Sam Harliss, supplied the Taser, according to the lawsuit, and sometimes filming the incidents.

I'm sure when the videos are played during the lawsuit depositions or trial, somebody is going to have lots of 'Splainin' to do.

Here's the news report from KHOU:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why Do Corporations Not Understand We All Roll Our Eyes At Corporate Speak

So, they're laying off a bunch of people at Patch, the local news arm of AOL.

According to Jim Romenesko, the head of AOL, Tim Armstrong, did not endear himself to many people when he reportedly fired a staffer during a conference call for taking photos during said conference call.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Enough with the
corporate speak, Tim!  

Way to go, Tim! Are we a bit Nixonian or what?

But what bothered me at least as much as Armstrong's way to describe layoffs. They aren't layoffs. They're "impacts."

Impacts? Really? That's supposed to make everything OK?  "Hey, we're an impactful company!"  Yeah, real positive.

I wonder why some members of the corporate world don't understand why corporate speak doesn't help their cause.

"We're not downsizing. We're rightsizing!"  Which means firing a bunch of people.   That should make all the people who find themselves suddenly jobless totally happy.

Do the CEOs or whoever is in charge not see the entire nation rolling their eyes when they lapse into such language?

There's a whole web site devoted to corporate speak, which is entertaining to browse if you have time to waste. Most of the words are harmless, if obnoxious.

But trying to put a positive spin on something negative is just dishonest. Why would anyone want to buy a product or service from a company like that? Perhaps that's why they're circling the drain in the first place.

Getting back to AOL Chief Armstrong, he's clearly a big fan of corporate speak. Here's part of a memo to employees during a 2011 round of layoffs:

"The structural changes at AOL are possible because of the progress we have made as a team in the last 12 months. The majority of our sites have materially improved their customer experiences, our advertising business continues to get healthier and more innovative, our video position is strengthening everyday, or local footprint is quickly expanding, we are attraction some of the most talented people in the world to work at AOL, and our technology infrastructure is simpler and more robust. AOL is a global brand and a global opportunity and we are doing the hard work that will once again make the company an industry leader."

As FishbowlLA pointed out, if you can interpret the jargon in that horrible paragraph, Armstrong is saying "These layoffs were made possible by all your hard work."

So, if you're going to lay off some employees, describe the move as layoffs. If you're downsizing, feel free to explain why, and why it will help the company.

Just stay away from the corporate speak, please, so that our rolling eyes don't end up rolling out our ears and onto the floor. It would make a mess. That one of your rightsized, er, downsized employees will have to clean up.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

World's Most Horrible Judge Going To Jail For Screwing Over Teens For Fun and Profit

It often seems to be that a lot of people get away with screwing over the little guy and getting rich in the process. Wall Street, anyone?
The mother of Edward Kenzakoski confronts the horrible
judge Mark Ciavarella. Kenzakoski committed
suicide after Ciavarella fraudulently sent
him to a youth prison for his fun and profit.  

So it was particularly satisfying to read that a Pennsylvania judge, Mark Ciavarella, has been sentenced to 28 years in jail for sending teenagers to a youth prison on trumped up charged because he made money from keeping the youth prison full. 

According to the web site Rolling Out:

"Ciavarella would sentence offenders with small offenses to months and, at times, yeas behind bars. He once sentenced a teen to trhee months in jail for creating a MySpace page that mocked her school's assistant principal. Ciavarella also sentenced another teen for 90 days in jail for a simple schoolyard fight."

In the scam, Ciavarella and fellow judge Michael Conahan received $2.6 million form the owner of the youth prison, PA Child Care.

Conahan and owners of the youth prison had previously pleaded guilty to crimes related to the case.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of 4,000 people sentenced by Ciavarella.  According to the Juvenile Law Center, at least 2,500 kids were affected by the purely evil Ciavarella and Conahan in the so-called Kids For Cash scandal.

Ciavarella and his cohorts really ruined some kids' promising lives by sentencing them to prison and in some cases drove them to suicide. One, Edward Kenzakoski, was a promising athlete who was improperly sentenced by Ciavarella and fell into depression and eventually committed suicide.

The photo in this post shows Kenzakoski's mother confronting Ciavarella. The image is heartbreaking. At least to most people. I have a feeling though, that Ciavarella doesn't give a whit if anybody was upset with his crimes.

The judge would get an average of $250 per kid he sentenced. So, yeah, Ciavarella pretty much thought the life of each and every teenager out there was worth about $250.

I'll admit I'm fascinated by Ciavarella in a morbid sort of way. He, a judge, would know more than just about everyone how devastating a criminal conviction could be for a teenager. It would follow them for the rest of their lives, affecting their ability to go to school, get a job, be successful.

And we are all victims in this. The primary victim is of course the teenager falsely convicted by the ikes of Ciavarella. But his actions probably made it more likely his victims would need some sort of public assistance in the the future. That's our tax money folks.

All because or creepy, horrible judge Ciavarella wanted to get rich, and it it hurt somebody, so what?

I hope all the kids Ciavarella improperly sentenced are OK and doing well outside of prison. But a part of me hopes that a few of them re-offended, and are back in prison and will meet Ciaveralla, 63, there.

He deserves a particularly miserable prison life, and anything that makes it more horrible will be fine with me.

Scariest Bus Crash Video Ever, Plus A Dramatic Semi-Truck Crash

I guess it's getting frightening on the roadways, at least if two videos that are going viral are any indication

The first has  to be the scariest video I've seen in a long time. A surveillance camera is rolling inside a bus in China when it was slammed by an oncoming semi truck.

The violence of the crash is shocking. Some passengers are thrown through the bus windows at great speed and force. Terrible.

The crash happened when for some reason the bus was backing up on a highway and was hit by an oncoming semi truck. 

The truck driver was killed, and obviously pretty much everyone on the bus was injured. But they all survived.

Here's the frightening, but somehow fascinating video:

In the second video, a truck plunges off a highway overpass in Texas. Unfortunately, the driver died, but none of the other motorists on the highways were hurt. The truck narrowly missed some cars, but everybody was able to get out of the way.

Amazing, isn't it, that the ubiquity of security cameras give us such windows into incidents, some, like these, horrible, that we never would have seen before. Here's the Texas crash:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gag Order On Kids?

Can a corporation imposed a lifetime gag order on kids, even though the kids aren't old enough to agree to something like that.
The Hallowich family. Even the kids
here are subject to a gag order after
a lawsuit. Can the lawyers do that?  

Apparently, they can. 

Some landowners have sued gas companies over fracking, that practice of injected mass quantities of water and some chemicals to extract oil or gas from the shale or rocks way underground. The practice is controversial, as you have probably seen on the news.

In Pennsylvania, Chris and Stephanie Hallowich settled for $750,000 with gas and oil companies over problems related to fracking on and near their property.

Part of the settlement includes a provision that the couple not discuss the case or publicly disparage the oil and gas companies.

Those provisions are common in lawsuits, though I don't like such gag orders. If there are problems related to fracking, or anything else for that matter, the public doesn't know if there is a gag order,  and the offenders can say to investigators that there are no reports of problem. No public reports, at least. So things get covered up.

But that's not my big concern here. According to several published reports the Hallowich's kids, ages 7 and 10, are also subject to the gag order.  For the rest of their lives, they can't talk about this at all. This opens up a new front in corporate secrecy, which to me is scary.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

"Several independent legal scholars and attorneys involved in the Hallowich side of the case say they know of no other settlement agreements that gag the children of parents involved in legal settlements, and questioned whether such an agreement is enforceable."

Well, duh!  Kids 10 and under aren't exactly considered competent to sign adult contractual agreements, so how are they subject to gag orders like this?

And as Chris Hallowich noted in the court transcripts, what if one of the kids utters a "forbidden word" on the playground?

It's unclear what the forbidden words even are. The Post Gazette had to fight for the court transcript, which is normally a public record. And they didn't get the settlement agreement, and I think those are supposed to be public, too.

But during the settlement hearing, it was clear the lawyers wanted to shut the children up, according to the Post Gazette. One lawyer for a gas company said, "I guess our position is it does apply to the whole family. We would certainly enforce it."

Some of the parties to the lawsuit, maybe inspired by the potential for negative press, are backing off the claim that the gag order applies to the kids.

Let's hope so. I mean, what are you going to do? Throw a 12 year old in jail or sue him for a million dollars for saying on a playground, "Friggin' fracking!"

And what if these agreements become commonplace? What if there is a whole host of things kids are barred from talking about?

I hope there is an appeal to this case. It needs to be made clear that we can't impose legal contracts on kids without their consent.

Really, this is almost child abuse, if you ask me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More Garden Beauty

Every summer, my flower gardens in St. Albans, Vermont get better and better.

They are not anywhere near where I want them to be yet, but it's getting there, slowly but surely. Here are a few photos to show what I've been enjoying.
The sun glows through a day lily  

Day lillies compete with wildflowers
at the edge of my property.  

A riot of color in front of my house.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Man Does Amazing Stuff With Soccer Ball

Get your head out of the gutter. After reading the headline to this post, you think I'm going to write about something icky.

But please watch the G-rated video, below, of a guy named Andrew Henderson playing around with a soccer ball. (OK, football if you want to get all British about it)   The guy is amazing. Maybe I should practice like Henderson and make this my new career? Nah. I'll do something else. But I'll still marvel at Henderson.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Anthony Weiner Scandal. No, Not THAT Anthony Weiner.

What is it about people named Anthony Weiner having issues with sexting scandals?

We all know the Anthony Weiner who is the New York mayoral candidate who keeps getting in trouble for sexting, sending women pictures of his junk. We all agree that's pretty icky.
New York's Anthony Weiner can take
comfort of sorts knowing there's an
Anthony Weiner out there weirder than him.  

Now, the New York Daily News brings us an update on another Anthony Weiner, this one from Revere Massachusetts, who, if accusations are true, really out Weinered the more famous Weiner.

According to the Daily News:

"This Anthony Weiner, 25, of Revere, Mass. used his wife's phone to send a text luring the 21-year-old Winthrop man to another house in Revere. Once there, the guest was greeted witha  bat to the head.

Prosecutors said Weiner tied the man to a chair threatened him with a power tool and a BB gun, and only released him when the terrified vicim began vomiting."

Yikes! It's unclear from the report what led the Revere Weiner to do all this.

I'm sure his wife is impressed. She probably even bought a new phone. I wouldn't want to touch it after what Revere Weiner did.

I think Revere Weiner's marriage was rocky to begin with. The Daily News reported that he punched his mother-in-law during a brawl on his wedding day.

Maybe it's best that people looking for a date avoid anyone named Anthony Weiner.