Thursday, July 31, 2014

Turkish Women Are Laughing Uproariously At Politician Who Said Women Shouldn't Laugh

Why are these Turkish women laughing? Ask
the boneheaded Turkish politician who inspired the chuckles. 
Bulent Arinc, a Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, thinks he knows how women should behave.

Women should be chaste, Arinc said in a recent speech, according to The Guardian.

In part, he said. "She should know the difference between public and private. She should not laugh in public."

I'm not sure how not laughing in public makes a woman chaste, but thankfully, Turkish women are having none of it.

In a move that is cheering an otherwise grim world, thousands of Turkish women took to social media posting selfies of their own laughter.  It's a rebuke to Arinc's weird ideas about a woman's place.

All those selfies pretty much put our Turkish Deputy Prime Minister in his place, huh?

In another positive development, many men in Turkey went on line to express their solidarity with all those chuckling women. "The men of a country in which women are not allowed to laugh are cowards," said one Tweet from a man, according to The Guardian.

Yes, that's stating the obvious, but sometimes you have to.  
More welcomed laughter among Turkish women.  

A main opposition presidential candidate also disagreed with Arinc, saying: "More than anything else, our country needs women to smile and to hear everybody's laughter."

As for Arinc and his reaction to all these publicly guffawing women, he resorted to the old "My speech was taken out of context" defense.

He said his speech lasted an hour and a half (YAWN!!!) and everybody's focusing on that one reference to women laughing, he whined.

Arinc said he understands banning women from laughing in public is idiotic, and he's not pushing for that. He said he's opposed to "fake laughter," whatever that is.

I hope the women of Turkey keep laughing. A lot. And I hope the men continue to join in the fun.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cop Pulls Over Nice Mustang; Idiot Truck Driver Slams Into Mustang

This guy waiting for a traffic ticket is
about to get much worse news.  
Here's a young guy who had a really bad day recently.  

A cop in Texas pulled over a young man driving a sweet Mustang.  While waiting for the cop to process the stop, the guy stood next to his car.

Then an idiot in a pickup truck spilled his 32 ounce Big Gulp or whatever, and focused so much on his soda that he slammed into the Mustang.

On the bright side, the kid who had the car jumped out of the way in time. On the negative side, the truck really trashed the Mustang.

Even worse, the driver of the white pickup truck was charged with having no insurance.

You can see in the video the kid looks really unhappy, but I would have reacted more strongly than he did, so kudos for the self control.

Here's the sad video:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Speeding Car No Match For Koala; Typhoon No Match For Kitten

Veterinarian nurse Robyn Kriel
holds Timberwolf the Koala as
he recovers from his harrowing trip.  
From the fun and fluff blog Nothing To Do With Arbroath, we get two tales of animal survival today.

The animals in question are cute, too!

The first is a young koala bear that was struck by a car in Australia

The occupants of the car didn't know they hit the koala, which clung to the front grille of the car as it traveled another 50 miles down the road until the people stopped for gas and found the little animal.

Miraculously, the koala wasn't badly injured. Now named, Timberwolf, for some reason, he was taken to the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo, where he is making a full recovery.

Elsewhere, somebody driving down a highway in Taiwan just after a nasty typhoon last week found an apparently lifeless kitten that had gotten blown or washed out onto the busy road.

Happily, the motorist managed to revive that kitten, too, who is doing well, as you can see in the video, below.

Goes to show that youngsters, including animals, can be tough in the face of adversity. Especially if that adversity is followed by a little kindness from strangers.

Here's our kitty video:




Australian Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo, 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Glenn Beck Has A Novel Defense In A Defamation Lawsuit

According to Salon, Glenn Beck's got quite a defense against the guy suing him for defamation:
  
Glenn Beck's got a, um, novel response to a defamation
lawsuit against him.  
He made the guy he allegedly defamed famous, even though the guy didn't want to be famous. Therefore, the "famous" guy can't sue.

Confused yet? Well, it is a tortured defense, if you ask me.

Here's the deal:  This guy named Abdulrahman Alharbi was at the Boston Marathon when the terrorist bombs exploded in 2013.  He suffered relatively slight injuries, and of course was terrified.

Law enforcement interviewed him, like they did a lot of people, and decided he had nothing to do with the bombing.

According to the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, police could not have been more clear when responding to media inquires about Alharbi:  "He has been checked out," a law enforcement person said to the Boston Globe in the days after the attack. "He is not involved. He is just a victim."

Case closed, right?

Nope. Beck had other ideas.

Maybe because Alharbi has an Arabic sounding name, I don't know, Beck kept telling readers and listeners he would "expose" Alharbi and called him the "money man" for the terrorist conspiracy.

Alharbi sued for defamation, since he's obviously not a terrorist, though now in the eyes of many Beck fans, he is.

As Salon notes, Beck might have been wise to quietly settle out of court to make Alharbi and the controvery go away.

But Beck says his First Amendment rights are being violated by the lawsuit. Beck says Alharbi is a public figure, so the bar to sue is much higher.

And why is Alharbi a public figure? Because Beck says he acted suspiciously near the Marathon finish line that day, prompting federal investigators to question him.

Never mind that federal investigators questioned a LOT of people, so they could rule out suspects.

Beck says Alharbi is a public figure because he's been granting media interviews. And why has he been putting himself in the media limelight? So he could clear his name and make it obvious to the public he's not any kind of terrorist or danger to anybody.

So this is rich. Beck is the one who thrust Alharbi in the spotlight, and now that Beck shoved him into that spotlight, Alharbi can't' sue Beck for defamation?

Yes, Beck has the First Amendment right to spout almost any kind of garbage he wants. Unless it's untrue and defamatory.

Period.

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!

"Charlie Da Dog" Helps Baby Load Up On Toys

Charlie Da Dog gives a baby back his toy, and then some.  
OK, I'm a little obsessed with cute dog videos lately, but I can't resist this one.

The set up is that Charlie the beagle, or better known to "Charlie Da Dog" takes a toy from the baby.

(The family is Polish, and I love how the dog is known as "da dog" because people with Polish accents pronounce "the" as "da." Reminds me of my upbringing in a town with a lot of Poles.)

Anyway, the baby starts crying when Charlie takes the toy. Charlie feels bad so he piles toys on to the baby. The premise of the video is that Charlie is apologetic for taking the toy, but I think Charlie has just been trained to do what he does.

But the true scenario doesn't matter that much. The baby and the dog are still cute, and Charlie is clearly smart and talented.  It's no wonder the video has gone totally viral.

By the way, Charlie has a Facebook page you can check out as well.

So for your Monday morning smile, here's the video:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thailand Mobile Phone, And Burger King Ad Violate Rule That Ads Must Be Bad And Irritating

How does the dad in this Thailand mobile
phone ad manage this crying baby?  
As I occasionally do in this blog, I try to give positive reinforcement to those few awesome advertisters that (thankfully) violate what seems to be a code of conduct for television commercials.

That code dictates that all advertising must be stupid, irritating, talent-free, must insult our intelligence and show no creativity.

Today, I give kudos to the Thailand mobile phone company DTAC, and Burger King, who released a couple good ads recently.

As if to demonstrate the public craves compelling advertising, both the mobile phone ad and the Burger King advertisement videos have gone viral.

What's different about this Whopper?
Watch the ad below and find out. 
I don't expect much from ads, and that's OK. The point of them is to convince us to buy a product, so you can't necessarily get to incredible film making like in the movie Citizen Kane or something.

But there's room for emotion and camera work and a good script in a short format like advertising, and the Thailand DTAC mobile phone ad, from the agency Y&R does that.   

It shows a young dad struggling with a crying infant while his wife shops at a grocery store. He calls her for help on the spiffy mobile home that's in the ad.

The ad nicely demonstrates how wonderful the phone is, but includes an awesome note about what the phone CAN'T replace. Watch the phone ad, as it's wonderful, then below that, we get into the very good Burger King ad.

Here's the phone ad:



The Burger King ad was only shown locally around San Francisco around the time of the city's recent gay pride celebration. But Burger King meant for the ad to be seen on line around the world.

In the ad, made by the agency David, Miami, Pride participants and other city residents, presumably not actors but actual people, stop at a San Francisco Burger King and asked if they want to try a Burger King Pride Whopper.

The Burger King workers don't give customers much information about what might be different about the Pride Whoppers, but the people who try the burger quickly figure out what is different, and what is not different about the burger.

Very nice. Watch:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Eww: "Mannequin" Was Dead Body

In the EWWWW!!!  department today, we have news of a couple Florida guys who were cleaning out a house who cut down a mannequin hanging in a garage and brought it to the dump.  
The house garage in Spring Hill, Florida in
which a "fake mummy" cleaners removed
was a real, and dead, human body.  

The problem was, the "mannequin" was actually a real human body. A real dead one, says the AP.

Police said the body was that of a 33-year old Spring Hill, Florida man who had committed suicide a few weeks ago.

Police said the body was in a "state of decomposition similar to mummification."

Israel Lopez and Adam Hines, the guys who took the body to the landfill, had thought the former renters in the house had played a Halloween-type hoax on them.

The two guys aren't facing any charges, but I bet they are SO, SO freaked out.  The pair have so far not offered any comment. None needed, really.

Incredibly, this is the second time in the past several months that a dead body in Florida was mistaken for a mannequin, according to the AP:

"In St. Petersburg, the body of a 96-year-old woman who jumped to her death was mistaken for an April Fool's prank and thrown in an apartment complex Dumpster. The overnight clerk who removed the body was fired," says the AP.

So if you're ever in Florida and think you see a fake stunt mummy, don't touch, please. You might get more than you bargained for.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Frank The Dog Is Happy, Makes Us Happy

Frank the happy dog
With all the bad news out there today, from that airliner that was shot down over Ukraine to the war in Gaza we need something to cheer us up.

Enter Frank, star of a viral video who is so happy he wags his tail in his sleep.

His owners say he was abused and neglected by his previous owner but has come around nicely. And a note: Yes, you see he's not neutered, but the owner say doing that to dachshunds can cause weight problems.

He's mostly an indoor dog and always on a leash when outside, so the risk of unwanted puppies is low.

Anyway, here's happy Frank:


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Advertising To Offend As Many People As Possible? Misogyny Amok In Australia

There's an Australian camping company called Wicked Campervan that has a, uh, unique way of promoting itself.
One of the, er, "artistic" Wicked Campervan
messages that are offending people in
Australia and worldwide.  

Just offend as many people as possible.

So, scrawled on some of their camper vans are charming little messages like "A wife: An attachment you screw on the bed to get the housework done."

Charming, no?

How about this one, quoted exactly how they have it on their vans: "It's better 2 be black than gay cos U don't have 2 tell your parents."

According to a July 14 report on Australia's ABC News, people are understandably not happy with Wicked Campervan:

"By Sunday afternoon, more than 12,000 people had signed a Change.org petition called on Brisbane-based Wicked Campers to remove slogans labeled as degrading to women.

"People are also bombarding the company's Facebook page complaining about the slogans."

Advertising 101 dictates that you find unique, provocative ways to call attention to your business. since Wicked Campers' market is mostly young backpackers, you want to be a bit edgy.

But really. Who in their right mind would want to even be seen in a camper with any of these messages. I'd die of embarrassment if I was in one of those things.

It makes you wonder how much the people who run this wacko company hate women, blacks, gays, whoever is not Just. Like. Them.

Also, is offending much of your market base that great a strategy for your company's success?

I guess there is somewhat of a market for this weirdness, though. Wicked Campers has been the subject of complaints over its slogans for at least the past six years, ABC says.

So far, nobody from Wicked Campers has responsed to media requests for comment.

The shit storm over this is still building, though. They'll probably  have to comment at some point. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say.

The company president will probably say the controversy is all the fault of those stupid women who should feel honored to be insulted.

Or something like that.

French Blogger Found Guilty By Judge Of Being Too Popular

A French judge who really doesn't understand how Google searches work at all, has fined a French blogger, essentially for the crime of being too popular.
A French judge ruled against a blogger, essentially
because she was ranked too high in Google searches for his taste. 

The problem, according to the BBC, is blogger Caroline Doudet wrote a scathing, negative review of a restaurant in her blog. The restauranteur said the review was hurting his business.

The judge said that since a Google search brings up Doudet's blog fourth from the top, and that her blog has 3,000 or so followers, she is popular and has influence.

Therefore, she should be fined for the negative review, said the judge.

I doubt Doudet had much influence on how Google ranked the blog for searches, but that apparently is beside the point, if I'm reading the judge's "reasoning" right.

Doudet was fined about $2,000.

Doudet said that basically, the judge made it a crime to be ranked too high on a search engine. "What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people," she said.

The restaurant review has since been deleted, since Doudet said the whole thing has been too much of  hassle.

It sounds like in the judge's mind, you can be nasty to someone on line if nobody reads your stuff, but you can't if people actually do read what you write.

The restauranteur never denied the service at his restaurant fell short when Doudet visited, the problem was too many people were finding the negative review.

Yes, people write a whole lot of unfair things on line. Or they write things that are fair but negative.  And it's a problem for business owners.

But getting "help" for the problem by complaining somebody is too popular on line seems like it would backfire.

I kind of hope in this case it does.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weird Al Yankovich's "Word Crimes" Is SO Much Better Than It's Parody Target, "Blurred Lines"

Weird Al Yankovic is back, and apparently is releasing a video per day this week to support his new album "Mandatory Fun"   
Expect a new insane video per day this week
from the great Weird Al Yankovic's new album
called Mandatory Fun   


We already got his parody of "Happy" called "Tacky"

But I really loved yesterday's release. It was a riff on that overplayed hit from last year, Robin Thicke's"Blurred Lines"

Yankovic's madness for this is a riff on terrible grammar called "Word Crimes"

In this video, we're taken to task for inserting apostrophes when they're not needed, misusing words and spelling them all wrong. All done hilariously.

I especially love the dancing punctuation marks.

I admit I'm guilty of some of the word crimes Yankovic cites in the video. Those mistakes appear here in the this blog and elsewhere, but whatever.

Then again, I like the tradition of intentional mistakes. My father owned a tavern years ago, and everybody seemed to point out the "wrong" sign he posted that read "No Bear Feat"  Yeah, it was supposed to be "No Bare Feet" but my dad liked messing with people.

My guess is my father had no problem with unshod feet in this business but had real, serious objections to ursine derring-do.

So, I'm glad Yankovic has a new album out, to add to his decades long list of, um incredible videos. (I especially enjoy "Like a Surgeon" and "I Lost On Jeopardy" but that's just me.

Here's the awesome "Word Crimes" video:


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You Can Check Out Of Comcast Any Time You'd Like, But You Can Never Leave

One customer service rep from Comcast would NOT
let a couple disconnect service.  
People purchase or disconnect from services like Internet connections and cable television all the time.

You gain some customers, you lose some customers. Nature of the beast.

Today, a Soundcloud recording that's gone viral shows, at least if you get one certain Comcast customer service representative.

A couple named Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont recorded their conversation with the Comcast guy when they wanted to disconnect. They declined to give a reason why, and that's cool. It's none of anybody's business. They can buy or not buy anything they like and the rest of us can go pound sand if we don't like it.

Actually, Block said he had earlier given reasons why the couple wanted to disconnect, but I guess the reasons weren't good enough for the Comcast guy.

So he wouldn't let them disconnect.

If you don't want to listen to the entire Soundcloud torture session with the Comcast guy, Consumerist offers us a helpful partial transcript. Here's some excerpts:

R: We'd like to disconnect, please.
C: Help me understand why you don't want faster internet
R: Help me understand why you can't just disconnect us.
C: My job is to have a conversation with you about keeping your service, about finding out why it is you're looking to cancel your service. If you don't want to talk to me, you can definitely go to the Comcast store and cancel your service there."

OK: Sounds like the Comcast guy gets a stiff penalty any time somebody cancels. I get that there a company wants to give employees incentive to retain customers, but if you go overboard, boy, will you lose customers.

I work on and off in a call center for a well known gardening equipment company. Us employees there are certainly encouraged to talk with customers to see if there are additional items the customers might be interested in beyond what they called for.

But if the customer gives a firm no, they don't want anything else, then you agree, process the order, thank them and wish them a great day. You leave them not pissed off, not frustrated, and chances are they'll call again in the future with another order.

However, it seems you're in BIG TROUBLE if a customer disconnects, so they go to great lengths to frustrate the customer into keeping the service.

Of course, recordings like the one in this post are  PR nightmare, so I'm sure we'll hear from Comcast that the customer service rep, went too far, he was fired for it, we're sorry, yada, yada, yada.

In fact, we already have that: Sam Gustin from Vice tweeted a response from Comcast. "We're investigating the situation and certainly want to apologize to the customer......This isn't how our customer service representatives are trained to operate."

Let's hope not!

Still, I wonder if  the rest of the Comcast customer service reps are still under pressure to go to HUGE lengths to retain customers. Doesn't sound like fun.

Let's go back to the transcript. Around and around it goes, and where she stops, nobody knows. Becuse the Comcast guy won't ever EVER let it stop:

R: Can you cancel us by phone? The answer is yes, correct?
C: It sounds like you don't want to go over this information with me. If you want to go over that information, that's the easiest way to get your account disconnected.

Oh, OK, so the only way to get disconnected is to listen to a never ending commercial as to why the service is so great. I guess that would be OK if it were a brief ad, but it sounds like it isn't

Let's go back to the conversation:

R: I am declining to state why we are leaving Comcast because I don't owe you an explantion. So, if you can proceed to the next question. If you have to fill out a form, the fine. Please proceed to the next question and we'll attempt to answer that if possible.
C: Being that we're the number one provider of TV and Internet service in the entire country, why is it you don't want the number one provider?

Oops. Looks like we got our Comcast commercial anyway.

More of the conversation:

C: I'm just trying to figure out here what it is about Comcast service that you're not liking.
R: This phone call is an amazing representative example of why I don't want to stay with Comcast. So, can you please cancel our service?

There! Our customer offered a reason why he is cancelling Comcast, even though he didn't have to give it. So we're done now, right?

Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.

R: You can help me by disconnecting our service.
C: How is that helping you?
R: Because that is what I want 
C: There has to be some sort of reason behind it. We just want to find out what it is that's causing a customer who has been with us a long time to leave."

Um, maybe they're leaving because they're sick of wasting time with you, spending all morning on a task that should have just lasted a couple of minutes.

It gets worse, if you can believe it. Let's listen in some more:

C: Why don't you want a good service? You don't want something that works?
R: Is this a joke? Are you punking us right now?
C: I'm trying to get information. I'm trying to help our company be better. That's my job.
R: I can guarantee you right now, you're doing an incredibly good job at helping your company be worse."

Ouch!

Of course, basically calling a customer stupid, as in he's too stupid to realize what works and what doesn't, isn't exactly the best way to sell a product. But whatever.

From what I hear, they did eventually get their Comcast service disconnected. Which is just as well. They're probably too exhausted to watch TV after that long conversation.

Like everyone else except the Comcast guy, I really don't care why Ryan and Veronica wanted their cable service disconnected.

But now I'm afraid to disconnect my cable service, if I ever wanted to do that. So maybe the Comcast guy was crazy like a fox. Yep, Ryan and Veronica are gone from Comcast, God bless 'em. But the rest of us are now too terrified to leave.

If that's the case, Comcast just got a nation full of hostages customers for life.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Here's My Memorial To Tommy Ramone

As many of you likely heard, Tommy Ramone died last Friday at the age of 65. He had been the last surviving original member of the Ramones.
The Ramones, in the late 1970s.  

Maybe people thought I was strange when I was a teenager in rather insulated, isolated West Rutland, Vermont, but I was one of the few people around who loved their thrashing, wild sound.

But as I grew older and moved to different places, I found there were many, MANY other people like me who loved the insanity that was the Ramones.

Yeah, "I Want To Be Sedated" and "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" weren't the pinnacle of lyrical cleverness, so what?

The Ramones were meant to be cathartic.

As a memorial, and for the aforementioned catharsis, and since it's summer and fitting, I present you with "Rockaway Beach" by the Ramones. Go ahead, crank it up as loud as you can. Bother the neighbors. Bother the other sunbathers at whatever beach you're at.

It will be worth it:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Don't Get Fancy Glass Doorknobs For Your Home Because They Might Burn It Down

Glass or crystal door knobs are fire hazards.  
A charred bedroom after a crystal doorknob
in the room focused sunlight, which set a fire
 

At least that's the takeaway we get from South London where one of these beautiful fixtures set fire to a bedroom in a nice expensive house.

According to the Telegraph, the sun shone into the bedroom and hit the door knob.

The crystal focused the sun like a laser beam onto  dressing gown, which burst into flames. The fire spread through much of the bedroom, pretty much destroying it.

The house was saved, though, because a construction crew next door heard fire alarms and quickly called for help. The workers also kicked in a door to the house and began trying to put the blaze out until the fire department arrived, so that slowed the fire's spread.

Nobody was injured because the occupants weren't home. They'd left for work earlier in the morning.

The moral of the story: If you're going to get all fancy with your crystal doorknobs through the house, don't let the sun in. If you do, you might come home to find a pile of charred rubble.

I guess it's better to go to Walmart and get cheap, ugly doorknobs if you need them.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Flashback: Mama Cass Elliot "Dream A Little Dream" Delights

Every once in awhile I hear a blast from the past on the truck radio that puts me in a good mood for days.

Heard this song for the first time in years the other day
I'd forgotten how awesome the song, and Mama Cass Elliot were.  
That happened the other day when the local oldies station played the old Mama Cass Elliot classic "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," which I hadn't heard in maybe a decade or more.

When it came out in 1968, I was about five years old. It sounded like a lullaby to me, and since I was a high strung little jerk tyke it calmed me down.

The song still does. At least when I hear Mama Cass's version.

Apparently, "Dream A Little Dream" was written in 1931, and recorded that year by Ozzie Nelson of all people.

It's been recorded dozens upon dozens of times since. Among the people who released recordings of "Dream A Little Dream" are Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Shore, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Dean Martin, Mills Brothers, Henry Mancini

Also, Anne Murray, Chicago, My Morning Jacket, Diana Krall, Erasure, Michael Buble, Robbie Williams and Eddie Vedder. A German heavy metal band called Blind Guardian also did a thrashing version of it.

But nothing, of course, can beat Mama Cass. Here's a video of her singing the song.  I hope it's a peaceful lullaby for you, too.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Pervy Va. Prosecutors Decide Not To Take Pornographic Photos Of Teen After Public Revulsion

Police and prosecutors in Virginia were going to make pornography.  
I sure as hell don't want to see sexually explicit
photos of this kid, but some Virginia prosecutors
(briefly) did.  

Yep, it was all in the name of prosecuting a 17 year old kid for sexting.

Warning for the sensitive: This is kind of a gross story.

Sexting, for the uninitiated, is the act of sending sexually explicit texts to someone in the hopes of getting lucky, so to speak.

Here's what happened. A 17 year old boy was basically acting creepy and sexting a 15 year old girl. This included sending her a picture of his erect penis.

Prosecutors say the girl asked the boy to stop sending such stuff, but he did anyway. Others say there was basically back and forth between this boy and girl.  Stupid stuff. Probably something both kids needed some guidance on.

It's true the boy was wrong and needed to be stopped and probably punished.  He needs to learn to keep it in his pants and not harass people.

But prosecutors decided to really go for broke and charge the kid with manufacturing child pornography, which would make him a sex offender for life and pretty much ruin his life.

Worse, the prosecutors seemed to be enjoying this way too much. They had planned to take the boy to the hospital, get him a hard on and take photos of the penis. You know, to compare with the photos the boy sexted to the girl.

Riiiiigghht.

Because the way to teach a teenager not to send or make dirty pictures for people who don't want them is for so called responsible adults to make pornographic pictures of teenagers.

The boy's lawyer said the threat to take dirty pics of the kid seemed part of a threat.  The lawyer said either the teen pleads guilty or he gets forced to get those photos taken, according to the Washington Post.

After the media got ahold of this story, police and prosecutors changed their tune.   Police issued a statement after all the media attention to this weird, icky issue,  saying they weren't going to take those dirty pictures of the kid's junk after all.

I guess taking dirty pictures of 17 year old boys looks bad from a PR standpoint.

The issue of what to do with teens and sexting is serious. Too bad that, in an effort to look "serious" police and prosecutors in Virginia looked like idiots in this case.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Woman Lets Dog Die In Hot Car So She Could Shop At Walmart For 13 Hours

Every year, we're "treated" to news of people leaving kids and pets in hot cars, where they die of heat stroke.
This woman is accused of leaving
a dog to die in a hot car in Florida
while she conducted a 13-hour
shopping marathon at Walmart.  

Many are tragic accidents. People get so preoccupied that they forget they left their kid behind. It seems impossible to believe, but all of us sometime don't pay attention, as they rush to be on time for work or school.

True, we should have a hightened sense of awareness when it comes to our children and pets, but still. The parents and pet owners didn't mean to kill their children or Fido.

Then you get idiots like Cassaundra Rasmussen, 49. Police said she left her dog in the car, in a hot parking lot, in late June, in Florida. Why? She had to go shopping at Walmart.

Worse, it wasn't just a quick trip into the store. She was in Walmart for 13 hours, according to police.

How can one possibly browse the, um, gleaming shelves of Walmart for over half a day? And worse, never remember during that time that her dog is in the car?

Is Walmart that compelling? That it's worth leaving your dog in the car to die?

A passerby did spot the dog in the car while Rasmussen was in Walmart. But by then it was too late. The dog had been in the vehicle for too long, in that terrible heat, with no food or water, for too long.

What gets me is she is only facing a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals. I guess that's the only thing under the law that might stick.

But still, the Internet can be a buzzsaw, and I'm sure Cassaundra is feeling the effects.

That's actually a good thing, except I worry people will take things too far. If Cassaundra is guilty, then a misdemeanor charge isn't enough for me. But I also hope the punishment via social media doesn't get so bad that she breaks before she understands what a horrible thing she did.

Shopping does seem to be  priority for some people.  A woman in Johnson City, Tennesee is accused of leaving her two kids alone in a car for 90 minutes while she shopped at Old Navy. 

Luckily, those kids were rescued.

I hope they are the only two people who think shopping is so exciting it's worth killing kids and pets over.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Dogs Fight, Third Dog..

Sometimes you need a policeman.

So it was when two dogs had quite a little disagreement on some bench in some house somewhere.

It was getting ugly until a third dog laid down the law.

Order was thusly restored in the most adorable way possible.

Watch and enjoy:


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

According To His Obit Writers, The Late George Ferguson Wasn't So Great

There seems to be a truth in advertising trend in obituaries. At least from the perspective of the survivors who write these epitaphs.  
The late, and according to his obituary, not
so great George Ferguson of Canada.  

George Ferguson, at least if you judge from his obituary, might have been tad dishonest.

Here's one excerpt:

"What is there to say about George? Certainly no one could accuse him of having been a loving son, brother or father. He'd gladly have stolen the shirt off your back and he was generous to  fault with other people's money. 

Was he a small-time con man with grandiose schemes? Probably. But another view of him is that he was the most exciting member of his family and one of the families he married into. 

He was a poor man's rhetoricin who beguiled certain women into buying into his promises and dreams."

OK, the above part of the obit raises some questions. I don't know if the obit is true, but if it's not, can George sue for defamation or libel from beyond the grave?

I'm struck by the line where he was the most exciting member of his family and one of the families he married into. Was the other family or families he married into more exciting than his own? Or were they  (allegedly!!!) more crooked than George supposedly was.

I see a real soap opera in the making. "As The Stomach Turns" perhaps?

But wait! There's more!

Here's some detail on George's drinking habits:

"Some of George's favorite watering holes were the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the Oak Bay Golf Club, and the Marina. Of late, George had to travel to and from these places on his senior's scooter, whe he drove as recklessly - and sometimes as drunkenly - as he had driven his cars in earlier years."

There seems to be a mini trend in exposing mean or not so great people in their obits. Last September, we were treated to this description of a Reno, Nevada area woman who died:

"While she neglected and abused her small childre, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion toward them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love Everyone she met, adult or child, was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit."

Well, then!

If you want to be remembered, in a good way, try to treat your family, friends and everybody else in a respectful manner. If not, your permanent record might be exposed once you die, and that record will live on forever.

Monday, July 7, 2014

OK, One More Fireworks Moment: Tenn. Fireworks Store Goes KABOOM!!

Maybe the biggest, but worst and most ugly fireworks display this weekend happened at the Fireworks Superstore in Tennessee, which spectacularly caught fire Sunday evening.
Tennessee fireworks store goes up in flames.  

Luckily, the fire happened AFTER, and not before the big Fourth of July holiday.

There were some people in the store when the fire started, but luckily they got out safely before the crap really hit the fan. 

Travelers through that part of Tennessee had their share of problems, though. The fire sent fireworks blasting onto nearby Interstate 75, so authorities had to close that major highway for awhile.

Here's the video:

Let's Fly A Drone Through Some Fireworks

Now that the Fourth of July weekend is over, we can review the fun we had with fireworks displays.
A drone's eye view of a fireworks display. Add caption

The best video I've seen wasn't shot during the recent Fourth of July weekend.

It was uploaded in May, and shows a drone's eye view of a fireworks display. Yep, they flew the thing right through the fireworks.

Not to be a killjoy, but the flight of the drone through the fireworks was probably dangerous and illegal, according to Forbes. 

The drone could have diverted parts of the fireworks into the crowd, or the drone could have been hit, and drone debris could have fallen on people on the ground.

I'm sure we'll see more dangerous, but fascinating videos taken from drones. I just hope nobody does something so stupid people really get hurt.

The drone, and the attached camera, somehow made it intact through the fireworks.  

Wild video, though. Watch:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In Vermont, You Gotta Be Traditional (And A Bit Weird) On Fourth Of July

The annual Bristol, Vermont Fourth of July parade is
preceded by the Great Annual Outhouse Race.  
For the Fourth of July this year, Jeff and me trekked down to the pleasant town of Bristol, Vermont to meet my sister and brother in law for the Fourth of July parade.


You can't get more traditional than this.
Of course, I brought my camera so you can scroll down and see some of the images for yourself.

Bristol has a nice little downtown with old buildings in the hills of Vermont, and the parade has the usual assortment of fire trucks, horses and the other things you'd expect in a classic Fourth of July parade.

This being Vermont, though, it also gets weird.

It looks like the calvary has arrived for the Bristol,
Vermont Fourth of July parade.  
Before the parade starts, there's the Outhouse Race, in which people build outhouse like contraptions and hurl down the main street of Bristol, with someone sitting inside the "outhouse" of course.

And you get some clowns and some, um, fashion statements.

You can't get through a Vermont Fourth of July without a little flair, right?



Clowning around at the Bristol, Vermont Fourth
of July parade.  















This determined guy was also in
the parade 
Here's quite a fashion statement
at the Bristol, Vermont
Fourth of July parade 






















Miss Vermont adds a bit of glamour
to the Bristol, Vermont Fourth of July parade.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Empty Chair" Guinness Ad Pulls Heartstrings

A still from the "Empty Chair" Guinness ad  
There's not much I can say about the Guinness Beer ad, that you will see in the video below, without being a spoiler, so I'll just let you watch it and see what you think.  

I will say it's appropriate for the Fourth of July weekend.

Yes, the ad is shamelessly selling Guinness, but that's what an advertisement is supposed to do. But it also has a nice message. And definitely tugs at the heartstrings.

Guinness does have a history of good ads, like the famous wheelchair basketball ad that came out last year that was a nice meditation on friendship.

Anyway, here's the very thoughtful new advertisement from Guinness:


Friday, July 4, 2014

"Perfect" Celebrity Impressions In A Song? You Decide.

From Digg, we get this video of a guy trying out a variety of different celebrity voices in what he might call a perfect song.

You be the judge:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Scary Video Of Propane Explosion In Philly Food Truck

A still from the video of a food truck exploding in Philadelphia
I don't know how anybody survived, but 12 people were hurt, three seriously, when a propane explosion hit a food truck yesterday in Philadelphia.  

You'll see the surveillance video of the explosion below.  Two of the severely injured were a mother and daughter working in the food truck.

Some cars driving by were briefly engulfed in the flames, but the people inside the vehicles thankfully only had minor injuries.

Here's the scary video:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dying Building Was Out To Kill Somebody

The building seems far enough away, but
the demolition sent a piece of concrete into this crowd.  
Everybody loves to watch when they blow up a building to demolish it and replace it with something else.

You think you're at a safe distance, but think again. This building, razed recently in the Czech Republic, tried to kill somebody watching the scene by hurling, very fast, a hunk of concrete.

Judging from the reaction you hear, the person who was hit didn't die, and probably wasn't badly hurt, which is a good thing. But still, watch this video. Scary:

The Squirrel Is Back: Are The Republicans Being Squirrelly?

Back in 2008, a guy dressed up as a squirrel dogged (ha!) the Obama presidential campaign, just sort of harassing him and his assistants from a Republican perspective.
The strange Republican squirrel is back! I wonder
what the Democrats will come up with. 

Normal for a campaign. Both major parties bring out the gimmicks and the weirdos to call attention to their cause, and tell us why the opposition is really, really bad.

Now, (drum roll) the Republican squirrel is back! Already!

Yeah, it's a couple years before we select a new president, but Hillary Clinton is already making noises about running on the Democratic side.

Never one to waste time, the squirrel is fully recharged and fighting the good (or bad, depending on your perspective) fight against Hillary.

Here's the truly bizarre video from the Republicans re-introducing us to the Infamous Squirrel: