Sunday, November 30, 2014

For Those Who Love Instant Karma, This Is For You

In the video in this post, you'll see a guy steal a guy's wallet off a table and run away out into the street.

What happens next will firmly make you believe in the concept of instant karma.

Plus the thief is a total idiot, so there's that.

Watch:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Haunting, Strangely Beautiful Video Of Abandoned City Near Chernobyl

Trees grow atop a roof, and invade a building
in abandoned Pripyat, near the Chernobyl
nuclear disaster. From a drone film by Danny Cooke.  
The worst nuclear plant disaster in history happened in Chernobyl, in what is now Ukraine, almost 30 years ago, in 1986.

When the disaster happened, the nearby city of Pripyat, population about 50,000, was hastily evacuated because of the radiation. Nobody was able to return, and the city is slowly crumbling away.

A film maker and cinematographer named Danny Cooke was recently hired by the CBS show "60 Minutes" to help them produce a piece on the Chernobyl disaster.

While there, Cooke flew a camera-equipped drone over the ruined city, creating a post-apocalyptic horror show that is simultaneously beautiful.

You see how life at an amusement park, a school, and in bland Soviet-style apartment blocks just came to a halt in an instant during that April of 1986 when Chernobyl spewed all that radiation far and wide.

Nature is reclaiming Pripyat. Probably a radioactive, dangerous nature, but nature. Trees are starting to grow on roofs of the old buildings. Tree branches are poking through broken windows, growing up against the concrete buildings.

Those trees will finally swallow the remains of the city one day. In the video, Cooke also intersperses the drone view with interior scenes.
The top of an abandoned ferris wheel in abandoned Pripyat,
from the film by Danny Cooke.  

Piles of paperwork on a floor. School work left behind by children.

An abandoned swimming pool in a gymnasium, with poplar tree branches reaching through the windows and the last of paint on the walls chipping away and falling to the floor.

It's just such a spooky, contemplative video, made even more so by the sad song overlaid in the video.

Watch:


Friday, November 28, 2014

My Least Favorite Day Of The Year, Black Friday, Expands And Spreads Overseas

Really? This is supposed to be fun?  
I'm most of the way through Black Friday, far and away my least favorite day of the year.

I don't participate in the madness, of course.  Even so, the frenzy puts me in a foul mood.

The foul mood spread this year. Or at least Black Friday did.

First of all, as many of you know, a lot of stores opened on Thanksgiving, because we have to make these doorbuster sales earlier and earlier!

Let's take a quiet holiday and turn it into a frenzy. I guess a lot of people hate their families, because according to news reports, more than 40 million people shopped on Thanksgiving, I guess to escape their mean Aunt Louise sitting at the dinner table, or something.

I guess its younger people who hate sitting around a Thanksgiving table, as surveys say they, in particular, like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving.

WHUT-Ever!

That number of Thanksgiving shoppers took the wind out of the sails, or sales of Black Friday a little bit.

I suppose that's a good thing, because the smaller crowd meant fewer stampedes, violence and fights and such that marked past Black Fridays in the United States.

The bad news is we exported the Black Friday riots and stupidity to other countries.  Retailers, through their advertising cunning, have created the kind of Black Friday fights in Britain that we long had in the United States.

The result is that across the pond, lots of people have been getting hurt and arrested over brawls to grab big screen TVs or something.

I'm sure the Brits just love this American export to their country.

New York Magazine has an excellent summary why Black Friday is a scam, that cunning marketers have taken advantage of the way our brains are wired to screw us over.

After all, you seldom actually save money on Black Friday, but the psychology of Black Friday makes you think you are.

Here, according to New York Magazine, is what they are doing:

Doorbusters: It's the cheap big ticket item like a big screen TV that's on sale big time. But the retailers know you will also buy the fancy cables, fancy wall mount kit with a hefty installation fee and the Xbox that catches your eye across the aisle.

Fake scarcity: The store will say "limited quantity" or "maximum two per customer" on a deal to make you think they're running out, so you'd better, hurry, hurry, hurry to grab the stupid thing. Usually, though, the item is not any more scarce today than it is any other day, but the fake scarcity makes it seem like an emergency, so you irrationally buy.

Wasting money in other areas: The Black Friday items might be on sale, but think of the money you're wasting stuck in traffic, burning gas, paying for warranties, dealing with rebates, and wasting time in line at the store when you could be doing something more productive.

Stuck there, might as well. Once you get up at a ridiculously early hour and wait in line in a freezing, windy parking lot for hours, you don't give up because you've invested so much time in this mess. So you go ahead and buy, buy buy.

I suppose people say they like the event, so that's why they go to Black Friday. And I suppose they're not harming me much by going, so knock yourself out if you enjoy going to this silliness.

Still, I can't help but be irritated by at all, because it feels like so many people are being taken advantage of. Especially the retail employees who are paid a sub-poverty level pittance to deal with these surging, awful, sick crowds, and must work on Thanksgiving, too.

At least things aren't as bad as what's depicted in the Onion. At last check, 42 million people have actually not died in Black Friday sales today.

Well, at least things haven't gotten that bad yet. But give it time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Eating Too Much On Thanksgiving? Exercise With This Video

This scary woman will help you burn off those
pesky holiday pounds the country hip hop way!  
I'm a total connoisseur of the tasteless and the tacky, so this is just perfect:

You might be concerned about eating so much today, on Thanksgiving.

You don't want to overeat, get fat and not be able to fit into the super ugly Christmas sweater you've been just dying to show off.

Well, I have the perfect rescue for you. An exercise video!

Not just any exercise video, a country hip hop exercise video.

That's right, you can get your groove on and wear your leather fringes and cowboy boots all in one fell swoop.

Yes, I know nothing in the video looks like hip hop dancing, or music, or anything like that, but we're being way to picky.

And I'm being mean. The earnest woman leading this exercise class is a bit scary, but at least she's promoting exercise.

As the host of the video reminds you in a dizzying montage in the middle, this is country hip hop! (This part will make you run screaming away from your computer. More exercise! Bonus!)

I love the poor production values in the video, too. The eye strain will burn even more calories.

I worry about Jaime the tall guy on the right. Maybe it's just me, but I think he's showing off his butt a bit too much. Yeah, he's proud. I guess.

So here you go, with your country hip hop magic:


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

And You Thought Your Flight Delays Were Bad

Passengers (allegedly) push a plane to get it
going in Siberia amid temperatures in the minus 50s.  
I'm sure it's havoc in the nation's airports today, especially on the East Coast, where a snowstorm is totally screwing up Thanksgiving travel.   

But if you're stuck in some bland airport terminal, waiting for word on a flight to your destination that may or may not come in the next week, it could be worse.

I'm serious.

Up in Siberia, a plane with 70 passengers couldn't leave because the temperature was a bracing 58 below zero. (As you can imagine, winters are a bit tough in Siberia)

It was too cold the brake pads froze. If the airplane could be moved a little bit, the brake pads might have gotten warm enough for the plane to actually leave.

So, the plucky passengers all got out and pushed the plane a few feet, says the Siberian Times. 

If you're stuck at LaGuardia or something, just thank your lucky stars you don't have to push a 747 out of a snowbank.

According to Siberian Times:
Another view of the passengers pushing the
plane in frigid Siberia.  

"Reports of the incident led to worldwide praise for the stoic Siberians for their ' an do chutzpah' in the words of Agence France Presse. 

'Siberians are so tough that for them pushing a frozen plane along a runway is a piece of cake,' added Russian daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Social media sites were equally gushing in commending the oil workers. 'Who mentioned sanctions?...We just push together and off we fly,' wrote Dmitry Kozlov on Twitter.

'It's just an ordinary morning in Russia. People push-start a plane at minus 50,' said (one passenger)"

Siberian Times went on to say that local officials and those with the airline were not amused by the reports of passengers pushing the plane.

Those officials said the passengers didn't push the plane; it was just a social media stunt. The passengers said they really pushed the plane, so there's a bit of a conflict there.

Again, from the Siberian Times:

"Airport chief Maxim Aksyonov claimed, 'Most likely the plane's passengers, oil workers, decided to do a kind of selfie. It was a good joke and it became a big thing on the Internet. 

However, one of the 'hero' passengers... insisted the passengers did push the plane. 'We were on the bus that took us on the plane when we were asked to help the tractor (push the plane),' he said. 'Before that, we had already spent one day at the airport, waiting for our departure.

'We pushed it a short distance -- about five meters, maybe more. I worked for four years on shifts, but do not recall that we pushed the plane previously.'"

The plane, with the possible push from passengers, then managed to take off and land safely at its destination.

Next time, maybe they should just drive.

Dark British Actors Reconstruction Inane YouTube Arguments Brilliantly

Dinner table conversation turns to trading barbs
about Nicki Minaj and One Direction in a
hilarious video from Dead Parrot.  
Take some distinguished British actors of a certain age, set them in a dark, gloomy, depressing mansion, film them in black and white re-enacting the most inane, stupid arguments on YouTube comment threads, and what to you get?

Absolute brilliance.

For more than a year now, an outfit called Dead Parrot has been doing these short films re-enacting these YouTube arguments.

The tenth one has just been released, and involves an, um spirited conversation on YouTube from September, 2014 on the relative merits of Nicki Minaj,  her song "Anaconda" and the pop group boy band One Direction.

These YouTube arguments are called flame wars, and Dead Parrot's take on them is the only way to actually enjoy them.

The setting in this video is a sort of Downton Abbey type dinner table gathering, only gloomier. I swear stupidity is hilarious when it's done by older, serious, seasoned British actors.

Warning, the language in the video is definitely NSFW, because of the swearing and incredibly crude sexual references.

 The dialogue will also  kill brain cells with its stupidity. But in this setting, you'll laugh your butt off, too. This is awesome.

Here's the video:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Has No Place In Reading, Pa.

This "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree in Reading, PA.
is going to be removed in favor of a better one,
says the city. Photo from WFMZ-TV.  
If you have a soft spot for Charlie Brown Christmas trees, you know, the rather sad, pathetic one Charlie Brown befriends in the holiday special, don't go to Reading, Pennsylvania.

The city put up a Christmas tree, as many municipalities do, but it got complaints immediately.

It was not big and bushy like a traditional tree, but kind of lacking in branches and greenery and vigor.

It's going to go, Reading officials said, according to television station WFMZ in Allentown.

There's been a big fundraiser going on to raise $5,000 for a new tree to be put up for another tree lighting ceremony next weekend.

The tree was the target of LOTS of insults, says WFMZ:

"'I know Reading is not doing too great,' one man who works near the tree told the news station. 'But facing this tree up here is making it even worse.'

'If I were a squirrel looking for a home for the winter, I wouldn't even go in that tree,' said another."

Consumerist says the city was to have gotten a nice tree from a farmer, but then there was a bunch of rain and the farmer wouldn't let any heavy equipment through to get the tree. So the city basically cut down the first tree they saw in a city park and went with it.

But, as I said, a nicer tree is on the way. I kind of hope some kind soul adopts the city's 50-foot Charlie Brown tree, though.

Charlie Brown trees might not be popular in Reading, Pennsylvania, but they certainly are elsewhere.

I'm stunned by the number of outfits that sell Charlie Brown trees. Apparently, outfits like Kohls and Home Depot sell tons of them. Go figure.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vicious Guard Dog Attacks Burglar!

 Watch this vicious guard dog attack a would-be burglar in South Africa:

Kansas City Woman Takes Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball Too Far

Here's the Kansas City building after a woman
driving a stolen SUV slammed into it.  
You pop culture fanatics out there are, I'm sure familiar with the Miley Cyrus song "Wrecking Ball."  

Well, a woman in Kansas City decided to do Miley one better by becoming a literal wrecking ball.

According to the Associated Press, a woman driving a stolen SUV, a phone glued to her ear, was being chased by police at speeds of up to 80 mph, when she lost control of the vehicle (Duh!) and slammed into a building, which partly collapsed.

Surveillance video that you'll see at the bottom of this post shows the building falling dramatically in a cloud of dust.

The building stored vintage cars, several of which were damaged or destroyed. One plunged to the ground from the second floor of the building.

Police have so far not identified the human wrecking ball, who we will call Miley II.

Miley II was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, says the AP.

Here's the surveillance video:


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guy Tries To Steal Two Beers, Loses His Clothes Instead

Bet this guy won't try to steal beer again.
At least at the last store he tried.  
Bad news for a shoplifter up in Beaverton, Oregon.

Police said he tried to steal two beers from a convenience store in that lovely town, but the the store's owners would have none of it, says OregonLive.

In a Don't Try This At Home moment, the two owners tussled with the shoplifter for at least three minutes, trashing the store and removing all of the shoplifter's clothes, except for his boxer shorts.

Geez, after a day like that, I'd need a couple of beers. But then, I tend to hand over cash when I go to a store for beer rather than try to shoplift it. But that's just me.

The benefit of paying is, I always leave the store wearing the same amount of clothing I had when I entered the place.

In any event, Soloman Temanie-Berhane, 21, faces several charges, including third degree robbery, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer and theft.

The whole episode was caught on a store security camera. This is better than watching World Wrestling Entertainment: 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm Starting Arguments Over What Are The Best Songs Ever. Just Because

While idly clicking on sites on the Internet, I stumbled on BoingBoing.net featuring a video of Dusty Springfield performing "Son Of A Preacher Man."

Gawd, I'd forgotten how good that song is.  A few people might call the song tacky or sacrilegious, but I call it as awesome as it can possibly get.

Here's the video, then scroll down below that, I'll start more music arguments.





While being unproductive, I also stumbled upon a dreaded listicle at the Huffington Post regarding the top 10 albums of the 1960s and 1970s. 

(Yes, despite my complaints about click bait listicles, I get sucked into them sometimes, too.)

Anyway, I can't really disagree with any of the albums on the list.

There's "Tapestry" by Carole King. "Born To Run" by Bruce Springsteen is there. The title track is arguably my favorite song ever. I'm not super crazy about "Songs In The Key Of Life," by Stevie Wonder, which made the list.

The best song on this Huffington Post list is "Rumours" from 1977 by Fleetwood Mac. I listened to this album obsessively when it came out.

Huffington Post outlines part of the reason why "Rumours" is so perfect:

"Take two impossibly attractive American singers, add three blues-minded Brits, give them a ton of cocaine, and make sure they all sleep with each other."

Remember, this is the 1970s we're talking about.

The Rumours album contains the best song to listen to when  you're pissed off, called "Go Your Own Way."  I like to scream along with it when I hear it on the truck radio.

"You can go your own way
GO YOUR OWN WAY!!!
You can call IT 
Another lonely day
YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY!!!!!!"

It's also the perfect song if you've broken up with someone and you're glad he or she is gone.

Luckily, that's not a problem for me, because as far as I'm concerned, my husband is stuck with me forever, but that's another story.

But anyway, if you need help remembering this song, here it is. Then below this video, is maybe the list that will cause the most arguments about music.




Here's the sort of listicle that is sure to cause an argument about music, if you're not already fighting.

The BBC recently conducted a poll, asking what is the best cover of a popular song - you know, a famous song re-done by somebody else, usually who is also famous.

Anyway, the winner in the poll is the Pet Shop Boys' version of "Always On My Mind"

"Always On My Mind" IS a great song, no doubt about it. The most famous version is by Willie Nelson, but his was a cover, too.

Elvis Presley released a version in 1972. Michael Buble has done it. So has Shakira.

Alvin and the Chipmunks even did a version, but I seriously doubt that was ever a contender for the best cover of a song.

For the record, I hate, hate, HATE!! Alvin and the Chipmunks. Just had to get that off my chest.

"Always On My Mind" was written by Wayne Carson.  He told Parade what the genesis of the song was:

"In this case, 'Always On My Mind' happens to be one of those things that, universally, everybody on the planet has been there, you know. And it struck me at the time. Everybody touched base with that one. It was just magic that it was so simple and so right on the button."

So here's "Always On My Mind" by the Pet Shop Boys. And some concluding thoughts below that to get your musical argument into high gear.




By the way, critics often say the best cover song is Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt," written by Johnny Cash. That came in at Number 2 in the BBC poll.

I'm personally intrigued by Cash's version of one of my favorite songs, "Personal Jesus" By Depeche Mode.

As you can see, we can easily get in the weeds arguing what is the best song, the best cover, the best version, the best this, the best that.

So let's start the argument. Your favorite song? Your favorite album? Your favorite cover? Tell us.

We love fights over things that won't change or ruin the world. 

It's Saturday: Be Like This Golden Retriever

This golden retriever will instruct you on ho Add caption
A viral video shows the results of a dog obedience class.  

The dogs, after completing the classes are told to walk along a carpet lined with extremely tempting food treats and toys.

In the video below, you'll see the first two dogs complete this course very well. Nice doggies!

Then it's the golden retriever's turn. Let's just say the obedience class didn't work well, but I LOVE the dog's attitude.

As you go about your weekend, take a lesson from the golden retriever who didn't take his lesson.

It's much more fun that way.

Here's your instructional video:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Winnie The Pooh Is A Pervert

A town in Poland rejected
Winnie the Pooh because
they said his sexual identity
is uncertain. Go figure.  
Winnie the Pooh has no business lurking around playgrounds.

That's the opinion, at least of officials in Tuszyn, Poland, who when deciding who should be the mascot for the town playground, firmly decided against Winnie the Pooh.

According to the Global Post: 

"They decided to rule Winnie out, because he is an 'inappropriately dressed' bear of 'dubious sexuality.'

Sure, Winnie is a honey junkie who spends most of his time with a chronically depressed donkey and a suspiciously energetic tiger, and if you don't want your kids hanging with that sort of crew, then fine. 

But if you don't want Winnie at playgrounds because he doesn't wear pants and has no external genitalia, you're living in the past, my friend."

We do know, thanks to a leaked recording of the Tuszyn town council meeting, that there was some pretty intense debate about the Winnie the Pooh crisis.

Says the Global Post:

"Resident and councillor Ryszard Cichy apparently believes this about Winnie: 'The problem with that bear is it doesn't have a complete wardrobe. It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children.'

An unnamed official apparently knows why: 'It doesn't wear underpants because it doesn't have a sex. It's a hermaphrodite.'

And another resident, councillor, and human who lives on this Earth, Hanna Jachimska, apparently blames Winnie's creator, Alan Alexander Milne: 'This is very disturbing but can you imagine! The author was over 60 and cut his (Pooh's) testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity.'"

Wow! I don't think I've heard anybody being as thorough thinking about Winnie the Pooh as the Tuszyn town council.

I've never heard such a detailed sexual analysis of a cartoon character before. Yeah, I've heard Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street might be gay, which I think is great, but it seems the conservative town of Tuszyn might not agree.

You could try the Teletubbies, but they might be a little weird. (Ya think?!?)

Now, though, I'll never think of Winnie the Pooh the same way again.

Of course, the fine town of Tuszyn, Poland now has to come up with another mascot for its playground.

I'd suggest the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes, but he probably just promotes hyperactivity. Another idea is the Minions, originally from Despicable Me, but they seem easily distracted, and they have a little too much fun sometimes.

Maybe this playground mascot idea isn't so hot after all.

Don't Swim In This Lake In Iceland: Really Awesome Boiling Lava

Iceland's Bardabunga volcano has been a source
of amazing photos and videos since it
started erupting in August.  
Somebody last week took a helicopter over the Bardabunga volcano in Iceland, which has been erupting since August 31.

The volcano, for all its danger, has been an incredible source of amazing photographs and videos, and another great one has just come out from that helicopter trip.

The video shows various aspects of what's going on with the volcano, but I especially love the huge, boiling, roiling lava lake.

Yeah, it's chilly in Iceland, but I don't think that's the kind of lake anyone would want to smooth their cold muscles in.

The volcano has affected a 28 square mile area of Iceland. It could still belch ash to disrupt international flights, and it could melt glaciers in the region to produce dangerous floods.

For now, though, it's just amazing. Watch the video for yet another example among many of the power of nature:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

California Prosecutor Thinks The First Amendment Is Annoying, Can Be Ignored

A rapper named Tiny Doo faces a possible long
prison sentence because a whack job prosecutor says
he's profiting from gangs, what with the images
in guns and bullets and all on this album cover. 
Let's face it. Few people like gang members.

Given all the murders, the thefts, the drugs, the violence and whatever else they're up to, it's always awesome to prosecute when they start committing crimes.

So it's good that the district attorney in San Diego is going after a dozen or so gang members implicated in a string of shootings.

That's the slight glimmer of positivity.

Here's why I think the district attorney is a creep arguably worse than the gang members:

 One of those charged is a rapper named Tiny Doo.  (His real name is Brian Duncan, but his moniker "Tiny Doo" is more interesting.)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Tiny Doo faces up to 25 years in prison. Why?

As the Times explains it, "Prosecutors say..... Duncan fits the legal definition of a gang member who 'willfully promotes, furthers, assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.'"

Oh, Tiny Doo must have provided guns to the gang members so they could commit their crimes?  Or maybe drove them to them to the crime scene? Or told the gang members where they could find their victims to kill?

Um, no.  None of those things. He's clean.

It turns out Tiny Doo released a rap album. It's called "No Safety" and it has a picture of a gun and bullets on the cover.

Oooh! A picture of a scary gun! And bullets! Yup, that supposedly makes Tiny Doo a mass murderer or something.
This rapper, named Tiny Doo, faces a long prison sentence
for rapping about gang violence. First Amendment, Smirst
Amendment, apparently.  

Yeah, I'm sure the album is not my cup of tea, and I'm sure it's not the prosecutor's either. Everybody's a critic.

There's a little known California law that hasn't been challenged yet, that says people can't profit off gang activity. That's fine.

But prosecutors say Tiny Doo is profiting off gang activity because he raps about gang activity, which supposedly helps album sales, which means he's profiting from gang activity.

That is quite the little stretch isn't it, Mr. Prosecutor Man!

But last I checked, the government, under the First Amendment, can't suppress free speech, in this case in the form of a rap album, because somebody who listens to it might subsequently decide to commit a crime.

Oh sure, you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater, but rapping about gangs and violence? It's distasteful to some of us, but not illegal.

At least it wasn't illegal.

Apparently, though, the prosecutor wants to repeal the First Amendment. By his logic we're all criminals. At least most of us.

This morning, I listened to, and enjoyed the song "I Don't Like Mondays," which is about a school shooting. (Though for the record, I hate and am distressed by real school shootings.)

So should I be arrested for promoting school shootings? Or should the band who sings it, The Boomtown Rats, be prosecuted, even though the song is something like 30 years old?

Maybe we should arrest the members of Guns N' Roses. The rapper 50 Cent is seen holding a gun on his album "Guess Who's Back." Arrest him, too?

Did you watch NCIS on TV this week? There was probably a murder involved in the plot? So are you promoting violence by watching this show?

Tiny Doo's attorney, Brian Watkins, makes the same point, says the L.A. Times.

"If we're trying to criminalize artistic expression, what's next, Brian De Palma and Al Pacino?" Watkins said after visiting his client in jail. 

"Every drug gangster loves 'Scarface.' Does it encourage violence." asked Watkins, a reference to the 1983 movie directed by De Palma and starring Pacino." 

Prosecutors said that they have photos of Tiny Doo with the other gang members. OK. He has lousy friends. Maybe he's a lousy person himself, I don't know. It should be noted that Tiny Doo has no criminal record before this. 

The district attorney wouldn't comment. Probably hiding from the Big, Bad Reporter who wrote the article.

I'm hoping all the publicity building virally about this stupid prosecutor will make him back down. I wonder if this kind of thing goes on elsewhere, though.

I obviously want no harm to come to the district attorney, but I think he is going to come after me, anyway.

After all, I'm criticizing him pretty harshly. So he'll probably want to charge me with hindering a law enforcement official.

All because I'm probably hurting his Widdle Feelings.


German Town Welcomes Neo-Nazis, But Believe It Or Not, For A Very Good Reason

A stupid neo-Nazi guy marches past a motivational
banner in Wunsiedel, Germany as he realizes
the town has duped him into donating to
an anti-Nazi charity.  
The cheering residents in the town of Wunsiedel, Germany warmly welcomed a bunch of neo-Nazis as they held an annual parade in the community on Saturday.

Don't worry, this isn't a case of shocking anti-Semitism and bigotry among residents of the town. They're actually very nice people.

They just decided to get a little creative with the annual march of the neo-Nazis. In the past, town residents totally dreaded this parade.

Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, was buried in the town in 1987 after his death.

Though the body was exhumed in 2011 and cremated, the fact that Hess' grave was in Wunsiedel meant that the neo-Nazis held their annual rally there.

The good residents of Wunsiedel hated, hated this annual parade. Then somebody got an idea.

According to British newspaper The Independent, here's what happened:

"Instead of protesting against the demonstration, shop owners and residents in Wunsiedel pledged to donate 10 euros for each meter the neo-Nazis marched.

They managed to raise 10,00 euros. The money went towards EXIT-Deutschland, a charity that helps people leave neo-Nazi groups."

Ten thousand euros is about $12,500 in American currency, so you can see the town of Wunsiedel raised a pretty good chunk of change.

The dumb neo-Nazis had no idea what was going on of course, until after the demonstration, or at least well into it, when they realized the town had duped them.

Here's how The Independent described what must have been a hilarious scene:

"The pro-Hess marchers had no idea until they began their walk, noticing along the route that villagers had set up motivational signs and showered them with confetti when they finished.

A sign explained to them they had just raised money against themselves as they crossed the finishing line. 

The villagers even provided food for the neo-Nazis along their journey. The edibles were on offer under a banner that read 'Mein Mampf' meaning 'My Food.'"

The trick on the neo-Nazis was organized by a group called Rechts gegen Rechts, or Right against Right, with the full cooperation of the town, of course.

Organizers of the trick admit the neo-Nazis will probably be back next year, since Hess is so important to this creepy bunch of so-called people.

But at least now, residents of Wunsiedel won't have to cringe every time the neo-Nazis show up. They can just put out the donation buckets and get the confetti ready for the next march.





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Great Christmas Gifts For Kids! Including Winos, Drug Dealers And A Perverted Tarzan!

Ellen Degeneres shops for toys so you don't have to.
Or maybe you will have to shop after all.  
You might have heard about the Breaking Bad doll controversy. Something about having kids play make believe with drug dealer dolls.

Well, count on Ellen Degeneres to find more wonderful toys for your kids to play with. Just in time for Christmas!

We have the wino and cop dolls, the Tarzan doll, who, as Ellen puts it, doesn't really need Jane, and ET's finger, which has found a new way to call home.

We'll let Ellen explain it, since she's way, way better at it than me. Get your paper and pen to start making those Christmas shopping lists!

H/T to sister Lynn for alerting me to this:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dying Isn't Enough To Get You Out Of Your Cell Phone Contract

Maria Raybould said she even brought her dead
husbands ashes into a Wales T-Mobile store to prove
that his phone contract should be canceled, to no avail.  
A man named David Raybould, 57, died on August 29 in Wales.

His son showed up at a local T-Mobile store to cancel Raybould's cell phone contract, figuring that would mean one less thing for his grieving mother to worry about.

Hah! It's a cell phone company you're dealing with, you moron! 

As such, it's a perfect opportunity to make a family's life miserable.  The son should  have never assumed this would be easy.

T-Mobile demanded a death certificate proving the death. OK, fair enough, they showed it to T-Mobile

But ever since, the family has been getting bills, and threats that the debt will go to collections if they don't pay up for Raybould's cell phone bill, that should have been canceled in August.

Raybould's wife, Maria, has shown up at the store with her husband's death certificate, the funeral bill, the bill from the crematorium, even her husband's ashes to prove that David was indeed deceased, says Wales Online. 

Says Maria Raybould, according to Wales Online:

"They just don't seem to understand. I have tried and tried to get it through to them. The contract needs to stop. How much clearer can I make it to them? What more can I do? How dare they put me and my sons through this after all we have been through already?"

Well, Maria, T-Mobile is a major company. They have to make money to keep the shareholders happy. Even if that means extracting money from a dead person and torturing his widow. Profits have to be made. You should be happy they are um, contributing, to the economy.

Or something.

T-mobile blames a lag in an automated process to end the contract that is causing the bills and threatening letters to go out.

But just how hard is it to pull the plug on a contract. Go into the computer and hit the delete button or something, Gawd!

T-Mobile said the contract has been cleared, the Rayboulds don't owe any money and they're writing a letter of apology to Maria.

I have no idea if they were going to do that, or because of the negative publicity. Still, I have to wonder how many other people are going through this with deceased relatives and their phone bills.

I'm just glad we didn't have to go through this after we had a death in the family back in August.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NOT The Way To Do Autumn Clean Up

The claim is, it's more efficient to pluck autumn
leaves off trees one by one, rather than raking them up later.  
I'll admit it's a fair amount of work getting your yard in order in the autumn.

You need to rake up the leaves, empty the planters, cut back the frost-bitten perennials, mulch the cold-sensitive plants and put the gardens to bed. It's quite a task.

That said, I don't think the House of Commons in London quite has the knack for efficient autumn clean-up, to put it mildly.

According to the Guardian, a gardener was ordered to remove yellow leaves, one by one, from a circle of lime trees on the Commons rather than raking them up once they fall. 

The logic is pretty, um creative.

Parliamentary authorities claim asking the gardener to remove leaves manually from the trees is have defended their decision to ask a gardener to remove each leaf manually from trees because it's more efficient than raking them up.

Huh?

It must take forever to remove leaves from trees one by one. Raking can be done in even a large yard in one afternoon. And don't landscaping companies in England have leaf blowers? Judging from the size of the yard where they're picking leaves off the trees, it looks like a two or three hour job to remove leaves once they've fallen off the trees.

I also noticed that despite the gardener's efforts, a number of leaves had already fallen onto the grounds. Somebody's going to rake them up anyway.

But a Commons spokesman doubled down, says the Guardian:

"If we waited for the leaves to fall off it would waste a lot of time raking them up. It is more time efficient."

"It is not possible to separate the cost of removing leaves from the trees in New Palace Yard from the wider cost of the gardening contract. The leaves are removed each winter as a more time-efficient alternative to raking fallen leaves."

Um, wouldn't raking leaves just be part of one big gardening contract? Most landscapers and gardeners I know either charge by the hour, or sign a contract for one season to do all the necessary yard work, including raking leaves.

An alternative explanation makes a little more sense

Here's a report from the BBC:

"Gardener Annabel Honeybun told The Daily Telegraph that the procedure was necessary. 

'I am not picking leaves off the trees,' she said. 'I am cutting them individually down to the second bud so they keep their shape.'

'I wouldn't pick leaves off. These lime trees are so old and they have not been 'pleached' for years, so we have to keep their shape.' " 

Pleached? I have never heard that gardening term before, at least in terms of leaves. And I am a gardener, though I admit I'm not the world's leading gardening expert.

I know pleaching refers to interweaving branches and vines for a hedge or arbor. 

Although all the media in Britain have covered this story, it almost seems like a hoax to me. I love the name of the gardener: Annabel Honeybun.

And I can't believe anyone would be so stupid as to remove leaves by hand.

But then, humans have always found creative new ways to be truly bizarre, so there you go.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stupid People Camp For Three Weeks

Vicky Torres and Juanita Alva camped out at
a Best Buy for weeks.  
I hate to be so judgmental, but Vicky Torres and Juanita Alva are kinda stupid, in my opinion.

Since November 5, they've been camped out in front of a California Best Buy store, so they can be first in line for the big Black Friday sales.

"Black Friday" as the day after Thanksgiving is called in Retail Hell, is on November 28.

(Actually, Best Buy opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, so I guess it's Black Thanksgiving.)

 So they will have wasted 22 days of their lives hanging out in front of Best Buy.

Why? Because they want to be first in line for 50-inch HD TV for the low, low price of $199 at Best Buy.

Again. Why?

Alva's husband helps us out with this. Sort of.  He says: "The point is to get the sales, because everybody is on a fixed income and we don't have that kind of money to splurge."

As so many commenters pointed out in the article linked in this blog, there's some obvious questions here.

Wouldn't you make more than $199 if you worked during these 23 days you're hanging out at Best Buy.

Yes, I know jobs are sometimes hard to come by, but can't you at least try? A part time position or something?

I also get that these two women don't have a lot of money. I can't always buy what I want, too. Lots of people live paycheck to paycheck, and scrounge for every penny in this age of low wages.

Give that Torres and Alva are short of cash, is a television set the best priority? Maybe food? Some halfway decent clothes to wear while, um, job hunting?

I know, I know. I shouldn't get all worked up over a couple women on the other side of the country who have some strange priorities.

But geez it makes us all look stupid, in a way. I think the real reason these two women are sitting there in front of the Best Buy is not the TV, but the attention.

This is a Look At Me! Look At Me! society. Just ask Kim Kardashian. 

Our lovely ladies in front of Best Buy I'm sure will continue to give their TV interviews. So they can watch themselves on their brand new Panasonic 50" HDTV.

Unless the hordes at Black Friday smash it to smithereens during the annual brawls at these stores.

Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Devil Made Me Do It. Time To Try A Monster Energy Drink

"Proof" that Monster Energy drinks are an
effort by Satan to control our minds.  
I've never been interested in trying a product called Monster Energy drinks.  

I'm not cool enough for it frankly. I think it's marketed mostly to shredders on skateboards and snowboards. Although I know almost everybody from everywhere drinks the stuff.

Except the woman in a viral video who explains, in excruciating details, that Monster Energy drinks are just an attempt by the Devil to infiltrate wholesome households.

As you watch the amazing video at the bottom of the post, the woman explains the claw-mark rendering of the "M" on the product's logo is actually "666" written in Hebrew.

Snopes, the reliable, impartial rumor debunking Web site, begs to differ about how "666" is written in Hebrew, but what do they know? You expect me to believe facts over an earnest but crazy lady at a Christian gathering?

And, can you be more obvious that this? The catch phrase for Monster Energy drinks, printed on every can is "Unleash the Beast!"

If this is Satan infiltrating us through cans of energy drink, I don't know why he is being so obvious.

Finally, our Satan/energy drink expert says there's a cross in the letter "O" in the Monster logo. You chug the energy drink and the can, and by the cross turn upside down. "Bottoms up, and the devil laughs," the woman concludes.

Apparently, this Satan/Monster Energy drink link has been known for years, but as a public service, our earnest crazy lady has just explained it to the masses.

I have my own conspiracy theory: I suspect the woman in the video was a plant by Monster Beverage Company to advertise their product and it's working, big time.

First of all, the viral video has been seen at least 6 million times as of Thursday morning. And like me, I bet a bunch of people are tempted (by the devil!) to try a Monster Energy drink just to celebrate the delightful woman in the video.

I've given away some details of the woman's talk, but you HAVE to watch the video. She is so smug, sure of herself, so impressed by the breadth of her wisdom.

I have to think that maybe Satan might have infiltrated her mind.

Watch, and you decide:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Little Boy Has Every Little Boy Dream Come True: He Blows Up A Building

DJ Pitts, 4, getting ready to
demolish a 19 story building.
Can I be next?  
I totally envy this four year old kid in Atlanta.

Children's Healthcare Hospital of Atlanta acquired the old, abandoned Executive Park Hotel next door. They had to get rid of the 19 story building to make way for an expansion.

A building demolition team set up the structure to implode, and the hospital selected a patient, DJ Pitts, 4, to hit the button that would set off the charges to bring the old hotel down.

He, and several other people got all dolled up in Superhero outfits for the event.

Wouldn't it be fun, as a four year old boy, to destroy a 19 story building? With permission from your parents and the people who own the building?

I feel sorry for Pitts that he was so sick. (He'd had several surgeries on his esophagus and stomach after accidentally swallowing engine cleaner.)

But man, blowing up a building? How cool is that?!?

Here's the video:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran Worried Nobody Would Show Up At His Funeral. He Needn't Have

People made sure to remember Roscoe Cassidy, Kentucky's
oldest World War II veteran, who died
last month at the age of 107. On this Veterans Day
thanks and gratitude go out to all veterans.  
I figured Veterans Day, today, is as appropriate a day to post this as any.

Last month, Kentucky's oldest World War II veteran died. Roscoe Cassidy, 107, had said he basically outlived everyone, so he didn't expect anybody to be at his funeral.

Turns out Cassidy was wrong, big time.

The Kentucky chapter of a group called the Patriot Guard Riders and people on the web site Reddit who saw Cassidy's story turned out for the funeral.

Several dozen people were there to remember Cassidy, says television station WKYT. 

As divided and nasty as this country can be sometimes, it's always nice to see people unite to remember our veterans.

Cassidy's son, Mike, said his father "loved his shot of Moonshine every day and he said that was his secret to life."

Friends said Cassidy's sense of humor, dancing and standing up for a cause, especially his country, contributed to his long life.

We salute you, Roscoe Cassidy, and all veterans, living or passed on.

Special thanks and gratitude to my dad, Henry Sutkoski, now 94 and a World War II veteran, and my father in law, Don Modereger, another World War II veteran, who passed away in August at the age of 92.

Barry Manilow Sings Wonderfully With Dead People, Including Mama Cass

I think I've said before in this blog thingy that my favorite love song is Mama Cass Elliot's version of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me."   

Now we've got an interesting twist. Barry Manilow has released an album called "My Dream Duets" which consists of duets with people he wished he could have done music with, but they've passed away.

He takes songs by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Whitney Houston and others and turns the songs into duets with these people.

One of the songs Manilow does is "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" which you can hear below

The concept might feel a bit creepy and morbid, but the music, what I've heard of it, actually works, and reviewers have been giving "My Dream Duets" thumbs up.

David Byrne reviewed "My Dream Duets" for The Talkhouse Music and loved it.

Byrne says it better than I can:

"The listening experience is uncanny - the dead sound remarkably alive. This is not someone interjecting comments over a scratchy LP or patently lo-fi recording (like the surviving Beatles singing and playing with the late John Lennon.) 

Here, the dead sound like they are fully contemporary. Although the performances on this record never really took place, sound takes precedence over intellect, as all of us who enjoy music know. You will believe. You can reason as much as you like that this never happened, but your senses tell you it did."

I know other artists have done this kind of thing before, doing music with recordings of departed artists.

Although I like the solo version of Mama Cass Elliot doing "Dream A Little Dream of Me" herself, this duet with Barry Manilow does, to my mind, work nicely.

And no, I'm not creeped out by Manilow doing duets with dead people.

Have a listen:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crime Wave Hits Vermont: Broccoli Worth $300 Stolen From Farm

Add caption
Just like every other state in the nation, we here in Vermont have problems with crime, including drug related burglaries, domestic assault and assorted other violence. It's very sad.

But then, it's often not as bad as other states.

You know things are pretty calm when the largest television station in the state, WCAX, during its nightly newscast reports on a shocking crime in the town of Norwich, Vermont.

Somebody stole 70 pounds of broccoli from a farm in that town. It was worth about $300. The TV station notes it couldn't have been hungry deer because the broccoli was sheared off, not eaten off the plants.

If it was deer, I wouldn't be optimistic about their fate. The place from where the broccoli was stolen is called Killdeer Farm.

As it is, staffers at the farm said they hope that the broccoli at least went to a needy family.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Cuteness: A VERY Happy Looking Owl

I don't know the background behind this cheerful little video of an owl, but what the hell. Good for a smile:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

For Fairness Sake, Read Burlington Free Press Response To Upheaval Uproar

Burlington Free Press Executive Editor
Michael Townsend explains his perspective
on changes at Gannett and his paper.  
You might have read my sharp criticism of the media giant Gannett this week, the parent company that owns the newspaper where I used to work, the Burlington Free Press.

I stand by everything I said about Gannett's boneheaded management style, it's abuse of employees, its iffy philosophy on how to judge the importance of news articles.

The Burlington Free Press has suffered a lot of staff departures in recent weeks over this upheaval, and there's been a LOT of community discussion and criticism about the quality and journalistic commitment at the Free Press.

That discussion is a good thing.

Burlington Free Press Executive Editor Michael Townsend has responded to this discussion with an article he wrote that explains his, and Gannett's perspective on this.

In the interest of fairness, please read what he says by clicking in this link.  It can't hurt to see where he, and Gannett are coming from.

Townsend says the paper will remain committed to accountability and watchdog reporting.  It's worth reading his whole explanation.  He disagrees with a lot of the criticism that's blasting Gannett and says there's some false information floating around out there that needs to be corrected.

That said, I still have a LOT of problems with what's going on at Gannett.

Also, just to squelch any rumor mill stuff, nobody asked me to link to Townsend's article. It was my decision only.  Journalism 101 tells us to provide perspective from each side of a dispute.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Grinch's Heart Expands: I Actually LOVE This Too-Early Christmas Ad

Sam about to give his best friend, Monty the Penguin
his Christmas surprise in this perfect John Lewis holiday ad.  
People who know me know this rite of the Christmas Holiday Season, which started I think back on January 10:

I hate, HATE all the demands that we buy, buy, BUY our way to Christmas happiness.

If we don't brawl tooth and nail over some worthless electronic gadget at Walmart at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, then we're worthless human beings, goes the retail line.

That said, I stumbled upon an early Christmas ad for John Lewis, a British retailer.   Watch it at the bottom of this post.

In the ad we follow a boy named Sam and his best friend, Monty the Penguin.

I have to tell you right now I have a childlike fixation on penguins and actually wish I had one, so the fact the ad has a penguin got my interest.

The story in the advertisement, and how it's put together is so sweet. Sam and Monty, as I said, are best friends, but as the holidays approach, Monty is clearly longing for something. Sam notices and does something about it as a Christmas gift.

And like I said, the ad makes this Grinch's heart grow warm and sweet.  It's a nice antidote to the usual screaming and yelling about Christmas sales that we usually see.

It's really a wonderful ad. It'll go down as one of the all time classic Christmas commercials. But warning:  There is a MAJOR Kleenex alert before you watch this now totally viral video

Lots of people are getting weepy watching it.

Here it is:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pastors, 90 Year Old Guy Arrested For Despicable Crime: They Fed Homeless People.


Arnold Abbott, 90, being arrested for the terrible crime
of feeding homeless people.  
Fort Lauderdale, Florida sure doesn't like homeless people all that much.  

Nor does it like people who try to help them.

Case in point: Fort Lauderdale Police arrested two pastors and a 90 year old man who defied a new city ordinance against feeding homeless people. The trio belong to a homeless advocacy group called Love Thy Neighbor.

Not only does Fort Lauderdale appear cruel to the homeless, they are So Bad at public relations. I mean really.

A 90 year old guy tries to feed homeless people and he gets arrested for his efforts?

Homeless advocate Jeff Weinberger gives the following account in the Broward Palm Beach Times:

"At least four police cruisers and a half dozen uniformed cops were ready and waiting for Love Thy Neighbor --not exactly the Clanton Gang-- when the group showed up at its spot adjacent to Stranahan Park as it does every sSunday at 1 p.m. in a white van armed with trays of food. The group's 90-year-old founder, Arnold Abbot, previously had announced that the new ordinance would not deter him from sharing food as he's done for the past 23 years."

Probably the saddest, oddest moment of the arrests when one of the cops allegedly yelled "Drop that plate!" as if the dinner for some homeless person was a gun.

Granted, homelessness is a sticky, complicated, practically impossible problem for cities, or anyone else for that matter, to solve.

I get the concerns some cities where a lot of charities have that  feed the homeless might attract more homeless people to their communities, straining services. But I'm not so sure a blanket ban on helping the homeless is effective.

Besides, don't you just feel a little, teensy, weensy bit bad for these people? They've been dealt a bad hand. Maybe they can't find a job. Or they have mental health issues. Or substance abuse problems. Or they're fleeing an abusive spouse. You never know what made any particular homeless person homeless.

They're not going to disappear off the face of the Earth if you try to drive them out of town and pretend they don't exist.

Some people are trying anyway.

According to NBC News, citing the National Coalition for the Homeless, at least 33 American cities have bans, or are considering bans on sharing food with the homeless, as those guys in Fort Lauderdale did.

What works better, says Robert Marbut, a national homeless consultant quoted by NBC is more nuanced. He said cities and charities should have comprehensive programs to deal with the three major causes of homelessness: a lack of jobs, mental illnesses and chronic substance abuse.

Granted, that's not easy. And not always effective with everyone. But Marbut says these programs reduce homeless populations by 80 percent.

That means cities save money in the long run because they cities don't have to devote so many resources of dealing with people in crisis on the street.  Or arresting people trying to feed the homeless.

A few cities do a hybrid law that doesn't ban feeding or otherwise helping the homeless, but combines restrictions with aid to people without homes.  In these cities charities must get permits to feed the homeless, and are restricted in the number of days and hours they can operate.

That helps prevent locations where the homeless are fed to become too overwhelmed by the activities.

According to an article in The Atlantic, feeding the homeless doesn't necessarily offer an incentive for people to stay on the streets, but Marbut says it does.

Who knows?  Like I said, it's complicated. Which means a simple solution, like just banning charitable members of the public from feeding homeless people, is the ultimate in stupidity. Yeah, everyone loves the sound of simple solutions, but they don't work.

Plus, you get the sad spectacle of police arresting some 90 year old guy for handing a plate of food to some homeless person. As if the 90 year guy was opening fire with an AK-47.  People, it's just a plate of food. Relax.

The 90 year old guy who's been committing the High Crime of feeding the homeless, Arnold Abbott, seems like an incredibly nice guy.

Says the Associated Press:

"Abbott, a World War II vetern and civil rights activist, told the Associated Press that he has been serving the homeless for more than two decades in honor of his late wife. He has several programs, including a culinary school to train the homeless and help find them jobs in local kitchens."

Maybe the fine leaders of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, could drop their guns and opposition to feeding the homeless. Maybe they could pick up a plate, and a spoon and serve a hungry guy or gal.

It's called paying it forward.








Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Death Of A Vermont Newspaper

The other day, I wrote about how Gannett, the media giant with newspapers all over the nation, was really screwing with its employees and the reading public.

They're making veteran reporters reapply for their jobs, and using a metric that appears to determine that if reporters' material is good "click bait," then they're good. If the reporter writes great, groundbreaking stories, but people don't immediately click their "Likes" on Facebook or whatever in response,  then it's worthless.

My previous piece noted that the Burlington (Vt) Free Press is one of these Gannett papers, and they jettisoned me more than a year ago. (Which turned out to be a big favor to me, which is another story.)

However, I have to write again, because the news out of Vermont's Burlington Free Press has somehow managed to get worse. Much worse.

I'm learning today that two more veteran reporters, Terri Hallenbeck and Nancy Remsen, are sadly fleeing the paper.

As I noted, under a metric Gannett is using, successful reporters, in Gannett corporate's mind, have a lot of Web hits with their stories.

Writers whose stories don't get a lot of Web hits are suspect, at least in the crude eyes of Gannett.

Both Hallenbeck and Remsen are, or at least were, the Statehouse reporters for the Free Press. Generally, politics is followed with a lot of interest, but it's not usually the kind of thing that sends people to their 'Like" buttons on Facebook or inspires them to spout off on Twitter.  Unless a politician does something particularly abrupt and shocking.

Likewise, Tim Johnson, a veteran Free Press reporter, was not rehired when he reapplied for his job. 

Johnson covered higher education for the Free Press.  Higher education is important, especially around Burlington, where the University of Vermont, Champlain College and St. Michael's College have huge influence on just about everything.

But again, higher education isn't like cute cat videos. People don't really light up the Internet over higher education reporting unless there's something shocking. But people do follow it, because it's so important.  However, readers just generally digest Johnson's reporting, understand it, and act accordingly without screaming about it on Twitter.

But I guess to Gannett, "reader engagement" is more important than delivering the news. Engagement is important.  However, by "reader engagement," I suspect they want instant, blind responses, not thoughtful consideration of the news.

Hallenbeck eloquently talks about this on her Facebook page:

"Some of you may have heard that the Free Press and all Gannett newspapers rewrote all the newsroom job descriptions and required employees to apply for new jobs, which focus on pursuing the most popular stories as measured by website clicks. That no longer seems to include many of the stories I've had the pleasure of covering the last 10 years as a Statehouse/political reporter at the Free Press.

It breaks my journalistic heart, but I can no longer pretend it's not happening."

Hallenbeck goes on:

"The Internet has not only turned news stories into click bait, it has led people to believe they can obtain the news free of charge. If we believe that, we will get the world we are asking for - one that is less well-informed, less open to hearing new ideas from new angles."

Amen, sister!

It does cost money to really, truly find and report the news professionally and accurately. Who wants to work for free? You gotta pay somebody. And we, as news consumers, get what we pay for. Want "content" free of charge? Well Gannett's got it for you. (Although even they have pay walls, however ineffective they are. )

Getting back to click bait, is that really the best way to gauge the importance of any particular news story?

People, including me, react immediately on social media to the odd, the funny and the bizarre more often and easily than they do the news. But that doesn't mean people like me don't read and follow the news and think it's important. And I often base my decisions upon what I read from serious news sources.

Look, any publication, including the Burlington Free Press, can't be boring. There's room for light fluff amid the serious journalism. We can't eat just broccoli. It's nice to have a piece of candy thrown in every now and then.

But newspapers still ought to be home to serious, informative news. Um, that's why they're called newspapers, right?

Journalism must have writers that engage you, draw you into their articles, write well, and provide their own quirky, professional, funny and intelligent perspectives on the news.

Hallenbeck, Remsen and Johnson all did those things supremely well.  Maybe the problem with this trio of journalists is they are super smart, super experienced reporters with a lot of institutional knowledge who can go in depth and really make us understand what's going on.

We can't have that, can we? God forbid any of us read anything other than superficial, superfluous fluff news.

Gannett seems to be all about immediate gratification. I alluded to that in the original essay from the other day, when I accused them of thinking just financial quarter to financial quarter, and not long term.

So cat videos and listicles it is, then.

Luckily, Vermont has other sources that are at least partly filling the void left by boneheaded corporate newspaper management.

So, on to Seven Days, VT Digger, Vermont Public Radio and other good sources of news if I want to see what's really going on in Vermont.