Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sweet Local News Story: Elderly Embrace Old Songs; Make Us Feel Good

A 99-year-old woman enjoys some music
and memories at an Atlanta, Georiga assisting
living facility in a WXIA-TV news piece.  
Often, on a slow new day, local TV stations fill time with stories that aren't all that important, just fluff.  Sometimes these stories are kinda boring, frankly.

Sometimes, though, when they're done right, those "fluff" stories are actually pretty amazing.

WXIA in Atlanta recently put together a feature on a music therapist who works with the elderly in an assisted living facility.

That doesn't sound like a big deal, but the producers edited and reported the piece in such a way that it was quite moving.

You'll see in the video at the bottom of this post how WXIA mixed interviews, images of the elderly enjoying the music, and flashes of the mementos they cling onto as they remember these old songs.

"Music memories last longer than other memories," said John Abel, the music therapist featured in the WXIA piece.

It's true. I bet you agree with me that some songs you heard in your youth, even tunes that aren't even really that good, evoke strong memories. Usually they're memories that have nothing to do with the song, but that's OK.

For some reason, the song "Rhiannon"by Fleetwood Mac  is my current earworm and it makes me think of a glorious spring hike I took in 1976, when the song was a hit. No rhyme or reason to the memory, it just is.

I'm sure everyone reading has this experience.

As the WXIA piece shows, sometimes these musical memories are absolutely poignant and beautiful.

At WXIA, one of the news anchors actually started weeping a bit when the piece ended (this is included in the video below), because it reminded him of his own father.

Without further ado, watch the piece. It's very nice:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Some Incredible Photo Manipulation: Artist Shows How It's Done

Very often I hate photoshopped images.

A really cool photo manipulation by Erick Johansson.  
It seems like when people excessively use photoshop, they're hiding reality, without doing anything creative visually.

It's as if they're saying,  "Let's make the world prettier, or at least my version of prettier, than it really is.

The exception, of course, is when artists are not trying to create reality. They're creating fantasy based on reality. When they do it well, the results are awesome.

Maybe the best examples I've seen is from photographer Erik Johansson, who was recently featured in a Mashable article. 

Says Mashable:

Can high tension electrical wires be musical?
In photographer Eric Johansson's world, maybe.  
"After sketching out and planning an idea, Johansson collects his material, without the use of stock photography. (he wants to feel as if he's creating everything himself). Then he puts all of the photos together, a process that can range in time required from a few days to several weeks. 

'This part is like a puzzle,' Johansson writes on his website. 'I have all the pieces. I just need to put them together.'"

On his web site, Johansson said he is self-taught in both photography and retouch. He said since he acquired his first digital camtera in 2000, he has enjoyed manipulating photos.

As you can see in the photos on this pag and on Johansson's web site, he takes ordinary situations and makes them extraordinary.

A consrructton site version of tic tac toe?
Too bad this is one of Eric Johanssons photo
 manipulations, and not the real thing. 
A guy on a road who is creating the road as he walks, a musical take on high tension electrical wires, a playful take on tic tac toe at a construction site.

Johansson desribes his works as "surreal ideas realized in a realistic way with a touch of humor maybe."      

It's totally worth going to Johansson's web site and looking through many more examples of his work.

You can buy prints from his web site, too.  If I had the space in the house to buy some of his work, I would. Johansson is totally worth checking out.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zendaya/Rancic: TV Host Demonstrates How To Make A Proper Apology. Others Could Learn...

A Fashion Police host apologized
to Zendaya for an offensive comment about
her dreadlock hair style at the Oscars.  
Very often, celebrities, politicians, public figures and other people in the news say something stupid, and the Internet and media pile on.

The well-worn trajectory has the people who make the dumb comments digging in, then apologizing.

But you can tell the apologies from most of these people are done just for PR, and the wording of these mea culpas betray a total lack of sincerity.

"I'm sorry if I offend so and so....."

No, you DID offend them. Even if you didn't mean to offend them, you did.

So, it was refreshing to hear the way Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic apologized for making a racist-sounding remark about the actress Zendaya's hair.

First let's get to the offending comment from Rancic. She said about Zendaya's hair style at the Oscars, which was a nice dreadlock do:  "I feel that it smells of patchouli oil, or weed. Yeah, maybe weed."

Fashion Police, is of course, famous for its snarky comments on the way celebrities appear in public, especially their style, or lack thereof (depending upon your opinion.)

Though Fashion Police is a frivolous show and what's said there is certainly not important, Rancic's remarks, pardon the pun, reeked of possible racism.

Zendaya responded to the insult with maturity and class, but also with needed outspokenness:

"To say that an 18 year old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or "weed" is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive....... There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who chose to judge others based on the curl of their hair. 

My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough. To me, locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion's mane."

Fashion Police co-host Kelly Osbourne was offended enough by Rancic's comments that she threatened to leave the show.

Clearly, Rancic had to apologize. So she did. Thankfully, she got it right.

In her on air apology, Rancic began:

"I'd really like to address something that is weighing very heavy on my hears. I want to apologize for a comment I made on last night's Fashion Police about Zendaya's hair. Now, as you know, Fashion Police is a show that pokes fun at celebrities in good spirit, but I do understand that something I said last night did cross a line.

I just want everyone to know I didn't intend to hurt anybody. But I've learned it is not my intent that matters; it's the result. And the result is that people are offended, including Zendaya, and that's not OK."

Lets stop here and analyze the statement for a moment. I'm so glad Rancic didn't say, "I'm sorry if I offended anyone. She knows she offended people, so she says straight up that she did, even if that wasn't her intent. Rancic says she crossed a line, and she used the word "learn" to make clear that she had to educate herself on what she did wrong.

Rancic goes on:

"Therefore, I want to say to Zendaya and to anyone else out there that I have hurt that I am so, so, sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me. I've learned a lot today, and this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and much damage they can do, and that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further. Thank you for listening."

Again, Rancic gets it right. She doesn't say "if I hurt anybody." She acknowledges that she did hurt people, no ifs ands or buts. Again, she talks about how she learned from this, and more importantly what she's learned from this, so she won't do it again.   She also urges others to not make the same mistake she did. Kind of paying it forward.

For the record, Zandaya said she accepts Rancic's apology. And Osbourne said she's glad Rancic apologized and that Zandaya accepted it. Crisis averted.

In the grand scheme of things, a host of a celebrity show saying something rude and crass about another celebrity isn't going to make the world come crashing down.

But more powerful people, the ones with enough mojo to make the world come crashing down, should learn from Rancic.

Rancic might be a star on a celebrity fashion show, but people who should know better, who at least arguably are in positions more powerful than the people on The Fashion Police.

To cite just one example, it makes me think of Rudy Guiliani and his ridiculous "Obama doesn't love America" comment.

Giuliani just couldn't admit he said something over the top. That it was wrong and insulting. It's perfectly legitimate to criticize the president and his decisions, but how does the wild accusation that Obama doesn't "Love America" help.

Instead of at least saying he expressed himself wrong, he did some verbal somersaults, saying he didn't intent to question President Obama's motives or "the content of his heart."

But Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. You didn't acknowledge that you overstepped.

Oh well, he's kind of irrelevant anyway. We can be thankful Rudy isn't a host on Fashion Police.

For the record, here's a video of Rancic's on-air apology:

Dogs Earn Their Keep: Working To Help Young Readers

Dogs help a young reader with a book
in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  
Dogs are fun, of course, but sometimes we want them to earn their keep. And they want to do the same.

So we're always looking for employment opportunities for them. One good idea I've been seeing is therapy dogs are helping kids who are having trouble reading make progress in that department.

Think about it. Part of the problem with getting kids who are struggling to read is we make them try in front of people - classmates, teachers, parents, friends.

That makes struggling readers nervous. What if the audience laughs? Judges them? The nervousness this causes all but guarantees the kid trying to read won't do as well as if he or she were in calmer surroundings.

Enter therapy dogs.

Libraries like The Fletcher Library in Hendersonville, North Carolina have hired therapy dogs to help young readers hone their skills.

Says the Associated Press:

"Enter Springer, a 7-year old spitz mix who has worked at hospitals, colleges and high schools as a certified therapy dog, offering calming reassurance for students who are anxious about testing or medical procedures.

"When owner Rachelle Sher offered Springer's services to Fletcher's branch last October, Library Assistant Elizabeth Koontz jumped at the opportunity. Klontz knew that therapy dos help reluctant readers by providing a non-judgemental audience, as well as soothing stressed adults."

The kids read to dogs like Springer, who would never criticized a mispronounced word or a grammar error. They just sit there as a loving, eager audience, hanging on every word, mangled or not.

One eight year old named John Paul Torres read "Why Do Tigers Have Stripes" to Springer, who listened with rapt attention.

Again, from the AP via

"'I don't know, he's just a really fun dog to read to,' Torres said when asked about Springer's best qualities. 'Like, when I first saw his poster, I never thought that dogs could understand that much. And then when I started reading to him, that just surprised me.'"

The dogs help people who aren't young readers, too, said the library's branch manager, Cindy Fisher. "Adults who are trying to get jobs and they're using our computers to fill out resumes, they're so stressed out that it's just a nice change of pace for them," according to the AP article.

This idea of having dogs come in to libraries to help kids read is apparently spreading to lots of other libraries, which is a great trend.

It seems dogs do help you focus. Yes, the two that live with us, Jackson and Tonks, sometimes distract me when I'm working from home as they demand (nicely!) to go outside or play.

But just as often, while I'm typing away at my laptop, Jackson and Tonks will be curled up on the floor right near me, sometimes with Tonks resting her nose on my foot, and Jackson lying down on the floor next to my chair, his tail wagging when I turn to look at him.

This scene somehow focuses me, puts me in a better mood, and I find I'm getting work done, in part because they are there.

So yes, let's bring more dogs into libraries, and other work and learning places. At least the ones that aren't dangerous to dogs with wagging tails, or places that dogs might create dangers to them or humans.

When you treat them right, it seems dogs become very loyal, effective employees.


Therapy dogs are motivating kids who have trouble reading to hit the books.
The Fletcher Library in Hendersonville, North Carolina, is home to a program which allows kids to read to therapy dogs, according to the Associated Press. Every week, a child can schedule an appointment at the library to read to one of the pups from Therapy Dogs International. The initiative provides a safe space where children who have difficulty reading or those with learning disabilities or anxiety disorders can exercise their reading skills.
"They bring this calmness and this peace to the children," Michelle Sheppard, whose 8-year-old daughter, Adriana, participates in the program, told the Associated Press. "It’s just amazing. Just a short amount of time has such an impact in those moments that they share."
The program began last October when Rachelle Sher offered her therapy dog's services to the library. The library assistant, Elizabeth Klontz, implemented the program in hopes it would get children who struggle with reading to gain confidence in their abilities.
Therapy Dogs International explains that many children who have difficulty reading may be afraid of the judgment they receive while practicing the skill. But a reading program involving a dog as a listener has the potential to change that. 
"They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates," the organization's website notes. "By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog and focuses on the reading."
Since the initiative's introduction at Fletcher Library, many of the the young readers say they feel comfortable and driven with their reading pal. The Associated Press reported that Adriana missed so much last year due to chronic migraines, that her mom decided to start home-schooling her. The child said she enjoys reading to therapy pup Springer, who's a patient listener. 
"Being with him, it’s like reading to a friend," the 8-year-old told the Associated Press. 
Similar programs have proven successful elsewhere. 
The Reading Paws program, for example, pairs elementary school children with a therapy dog in an effort to help them improve their literacy skills. 
"I thought reading was the hardest thing in the world," Jordan Piper, a Reading Paws participant said back in 2012 of his experience prior to starting the program. "[The therapy dog] helped me sound out hard words and motivated me. He never barked."
Another program Paws to Read in Alexandria, Virginia, offers children with learning disabilities or children who are learning English, the opportunity to practice reading to dogs in a judgment-free environment. The children told the Washington Post in 2012 that they don't feel self-conscious around them. 
"If you're reading aloud in school to a whole class, you might be nervous," Sean Sullivan, a then-8-year-old told the Washington Post. "But the dogs are really here to listen."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Incredible Stop Action Film: Chair Fight. Amazing

For your midweek entertainment, I offer you something called "Chairbending"

It's a short stop action film that I think takes talent and cleverness to new heights. And it's funny, too!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Extremely Scary House Gas Explosion Caught On Police Dash Cam

Aftermath of the dramatic explosion in New Jersey.  
Today in New Jersey, a house exploded into smithereens due to a gas explosion.

Crews were on the scene in Stafford Township, New Jersey this morning, looking for the source of a gas leak when the explosion occurred, reports 

Nobody was in the house, which was under renovation, but gas company employees, police and fire officials were at the scene when the blast happened, says NJ. com.

Fifteen people were hurt, and two are in critical condition.

Obviously, the house was destroyed. Two houses on either side of the explosion are so badly damaged that they are at least temporarily uninhabitable. Other houses suffered lesser damage.

A police cruiser dash cam captured the explosion. My, gawd, how violent. This is really, really scary:

Chicago Police Apparently Has Their Own Guantanamo

Homan Square in Chicago. Kind of
a Chicago Police Guantanamo Bay. Probably
very unconstitutional. Will it be stopped?  
I've long been suspicious of heavy military equipment owned and operated by local police.

You know, tanks, missile launchers, all that kind of stuff that risks blurring the line between protecting and serving the public and turning areas to tense military zones.

But if a bombshell article in The Guardian is true, I had no idea it was this bad.

It turns out the city of Chicago has what amounts to its own Guantamano, a secret interrogation compound called Homan Square, which the Guardian called the "domestic equivalent of a CIA black box."

That means family or attorneys could not find people who might have been in there, people spent days inside shackled, sometimes beaten, and almost always denied basic Constitutional rights.

The horrifying Guardian article details the following:

"Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
Beating by police resulting in head wounds
Shackling for prolonged periods
Denying attorneys access to the "secure" facility
Holding people without legal cousel for between 12 and 24 hours including people as young as 15"

The Guardian said at least one person was found unresponsive in Homan Square and later died.

Not surprisingly, the Guardian said Chicago Police Department officials would not respond to any of the newspaper's questions.

It appears Homan Square has been operating since the late 1990s, but it's been so secretive that there's been little public attention. People who were brought or imprisoned there tend not to talk about. Apparently, it's been made known that discussing it could make Chicago Police act rather unpleasantly toward people who open their mouths.

Many of those brought there are people arrested at protests. I guess out of concern for terrorism.

But many people who are unconstitutionally shelved into Homan Square are just rank and file drug dealers and similar accused criminals. Why not just book them like you normally do when they are arrested?

More sane police officials seem to be quite appalled by Homan Square. It's true police often have an office or building somewhere in which most people don't know what's going on. It's usually a quiet little getaway where police can talk with informants without blowing anybody's cover

Hey, you gotta do things like that in police work, so that's cool.

But Homan Square is different: Says the Guardian:

"But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

'I've never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that even exists or might exist,' said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project."

Trainum should be scared on two levels. One, as he pointed out, that this civil liberties hellhouse in Chicago exists, as he points out. He should also be scared that other police departments have their own versions of Homan Square, and we don't even know about it.

Of course, the next important question is who in Chicago knew about this. How high up the chain of command does this go?

But the Guardian article does suggest quite a little coverup. This place seems to violate the official rules of the Chicago Police Department, though I'm sure people follow a lot of looser unofficial rules, too.

The Guardian quotes a former Chicago detective and current private investigator names Bill Dorsch:

"Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be a 'career ender,' Dorsch said. 'To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can't see that happening.'"

Then why haven't any cops, detectives or brass had their careers ended by the shenanagans at Homan Square?

I know, I know, focusing on this Guardian piece makes me look like I think all police agencies are a corrupt criminal racket. Obviously, that's not the case. I still have faith in most police departments.

I also know that Chicago has a rich and sordid history of corruption, and Homan Square seems to be just part of that, um, tradition.

But given the fact that this exists, and for all I know exists elsewhere, is disconcerting to say the least.

We keep getting a steady drumbeat of cases concerning police brutality, overreactions and such in the news, and that seems to be unrelenting. Like the case I read about today of a sheriff dragging a mentally incompetent woman by the feet through a Florida courthouse. 

Some of the police unions think police officers and departments can do no wrong. However, every organization has bad apples, and I worry police have more than their share. So why not weed out the bad ones.

Meanwhile, there are some people out there who think all police are awful. That risks encouraging a few wingnut wackos to go off and shoot some innocent cop. That's already happened, of course.

I'll repeat what I've said in the recent past: Maybe it's time for police departments to recognize that when people criticize some of their tactics, that doesn't mean we are anti-police. It can't hurt to at least listen to the critics. If the argument is bullshit, then fine.

But some critics might be exactly right about their police criticism. Really. It's time for reform.

If the Guardian's reporting is correct, time to disband the place One Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba is quite enough. We don't need more in the mainland United States.

Awesome Northern Lights Seen From Trans-Atlantic Flight

The Northern Lights have been seen flickering around much of the Northern Hemisphere this week.
Screen shot from Paul Williams' video of Northern Lights
as seen from a recent trans-Atlantic flight.  

(Right, Vermont sky photographer Brian Drourr?)

Photographer Paul Wiliams was aboard a trans-Atlantic Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Newark, New Jersey when he spotted the Northern Lights.

The amazing video you see below is a 1,800 picture time lapse, with each photo a two to three second exposure at F1.4 ISO 2000-4000, Williams said.

This isn't the first time Williams has caught Northern Lights from a plane. He got quite a bit of well-earned publicity for doing the same in 2013.

No matter how he did it, this is just AWESOME:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Internet And Very Nice Human Beings Rescue 6-Year Old's Birthday

After a false start, Glenn Buratti ended
up having a really nice sixth birthday
celebration. Also, nice Minion, Glenn!  
I often whine and moan about all the awful trolls on the Internet, people who say and do the most vile things because they're scum buckets and just want to spread their dark clouds far and wide.

Like I said, scumbags.

But, the number of awesome people on social media seems to vastly outnumber the bad, hideous trolls.

Case in point: Glenn Buratti, 6, and his mother, Ashlee, invited 16 of his school classmates to the kid's sixth birthday party at their Florida home.

None of the kids showed up.

Mom took to Facebook and vented, talking about how Glenn, who has autism, was so disappointed and almost seemed permanently unable to smile after that, says television station WKMG

People saw the post and responded, big time. The Osceola County Sheriff's office did a flyover above Buratti's house with their helicopter. The celebration became a weeklong event, with neighbors, strangers coming over.  The local fire and police departments showed up with fire trucks and cruisers so Glenn could check them out.

Ashlee said she still hasn't heard from the parents of the 16 kids that didn't make it to the party. (I bet they're mortified now!) But it's OK. Glenn had a great birthday, thanks to the Internet and some kind people.

This all just makes it easier to ignore the online trolls, doesn't it?

I'll also put in added props because the video you see below shows Glenn holding a big toy Minion. Kid after my own heart, I'll tell ya.

Happy Birthday, Glenn!!

School Science Experiment, Monday Style

This sweet girl's vinegar and baking soda volcano
experiment certainly erupts, in a way.  
It's Monday. Time to go back to work and school.

And school kids: Is your science project ready for today's show and tell?

We have one girl who did the old baking soda and vinegar volcanic eruption demonstration.

But it's Monday, so the demonstration goes in a very Monday sort of way. Watch:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guy Fleeing Drug Raid Nabbed By His Pants On Outside Apartment Wall

Burlington, Vermont police say this guy
tried to flee an apartment during a drug raid
but his pants got caught on an exterior wall
of the building. The city's fire department
had to rescue him. 
Burlington, Vermont police conducted a drug raid at an apartment in that fine city and one of the people in the apartment tried to flee out a second story window.

Police got an assist from the guy's pants, the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press reports. He got snagged on the outside of the building when his pants caught on something.

A video in the Free Press link shows the humilating moment for Aaron Drumgo, 25 of Brooklyn, New York when police got him down from the side of the building.

Says the Freeps:

"Drumgo attempted to flee by leaping out the window. His pants became caught on part of the building, and he was left hangingt outside. He eventually was rescued by the Burlington Fire Department."

Of course, in this country we have the concept of innocent until proven guilty. But a guilty part of me thinks that it would have been fun if indeed Drumgo was indeed guilty, we could have left the Burlington Fire Department out of it.

Just leave him there and charge admission for people to watch the spectacle of Drumgo stuck on the side of the building.

Police did say they found 200 grams of crack cocaine in the apartment and a digital scale, the Free Press reports. If that's true, there could be some jail time in our building hanger's future.

They'll probably put him in a cell, though. Cruel and unusual punishment to attach the guy to the exterior wall of the prison. Especially given how arctic Vermont winters are.

Not The Baltimore Ravens, But Quite A Visitor

Here's a visitor to the web cam as they set up ahead of Saturday's  2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Levi's Stadium in San Francisco.

Too bad this didn't happen to the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens and not a National Hockey League event.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dramatic Dubai Fire: Metal And Glass Buildings Burn, Too

The massive fire in a 79-floor apartment building
in Dubai Friday.  
You might have seen the dramatic images out of Dubai, but this must have been a nightmare for the residents in this building.

The ironically named Torch Building, a 79-story residential apartment building burst into flames yesterday, and the large file burned for hours, raining debris on the streets below.

The Guardian said the fire appears to have been accidental, but there were some surprising glitches with this fire.

Apparently, fire alarms didn't go off right away. People weren't really aware until somebody in a nearby building called a receptionist in the Torch Building mentioning there was a fire.

It's unclear how many apartment are ruined, but it looks like some of the people who live in the lower floors will be able to get back in pretty soon.

Because of all the debris raining down, neighboring high rise apartment buildings were also evacuated, but those residents were allowed back in.

I haven't heard of many injuries, but you never know. As you might expect, any high rise building fire is very scary, and I imagine, very hard to extinguish.

Here's a CNN video of the scene. Pretty wild:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Revenge Porn: "Most Hated Man On The Internet" Is Going To Jail

Victims are hoping jail time will wipe
the smug smile off of Hunter Moore,
who basically invented the odious "revenge porn." 
Hunter Moore is going to jail.

The name probably doesn't ring a bell with you, but it sure does among the many women he victimized.

Moore pretty much invented "revenge porn," in which people sent in their ex-girlfriends' compromising photos and Moore put them up for the world to see.

That's invasion of privacy enough, but it gets worse: He posted nude photos he and his cohorts stole  from women's Gmail accounts.

Moore once said he wouldn't care if, as he put it, "somebody killed themselves"  because of his hideous website.  He was pretty proud of his work. And he seemed to think he was some sort of entrepreneur rock star.

Now it looks like he won't be being the Worst Possible Troll on the Internet anymore. reports that Moore, 28, pleaded guilty this week to unauthorized access to a computer, identity theft and other charges.

From Arts Technica:

"Moore's IsAnybodyUp became hugely popular for posting nude and sexually explicit photos of people without their permission, and it spawned copycat revenge porn sites like Craign Brittain's and Kevin Bollaert's (Brittain was banned from posting any more nude photos without their explicit permission in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in January, while Bollaert was found guilty earlier this month of identity theft and extortion."

Awesome. I know getting rid of these kinds of troll web site developers and scumbags is something of a game of whack-a-mole, but at least they're being prosecuted. It might discourage a few of the assholes, anyway.

Lawmakers are also trying to craft laws specifically going after horrible people like Moore. ArtsTechnica said England and Wales recently passed a law making it a criminal act to distribute nude and explicit photos without a person's permission. California passed such a law last year.

It's too bad Moore isn't banned from having Internet access for the rest of his life. I know nowadays it's very hard to live without such access.

But he deserves to suffer that way. The havoc he wreaked on the Internet begs us to keep him off it.

My more base instincts also hopes Moore, that most hated man on the Internet, also becomes the most hated man in prison. I'm sure his bro attitude will get an adjustment there.



From Gawker
Hunter Moore, the inveterate troll whose website Is Anyone Up introduced the world to "revenge porn" in the early part of this decade, has pleaded guilty to hacking and ID theft, admitting he posted nude photos stolen from women's Gmail accounts, according to court documents obtained by Ars Technica.
Moore, once known as The Most Hated Man on the Internet, faces a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 7 years in prison, plus fines of up to $500,000 and probation for up to 3 years once he gets out.
The deal will let Moore, who once said he wouldn't care if "somebody killed themselves" over his website, back on the Internet—he's been banned since he was first charged last year— but requires him to notify his probation officer of any new accounts he registers and any new hardware or software he gets, and let the cops access and copy all his files at any time.

He's also forbidden from contact with any of the seven revenge porn victims in the indictment, who are identified only by their initials. 
Charles Evens, the co-defendant Moore admitted he paid to break into those Gmail accounts and steal nudes that later ended up on Is Anyone Up, will go to trial next month unless he also cuts a plea deal. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Scary! Boy Falls From Third Floor Window, Bounces Off Car See What Happens Next

Here's a scary video out of China:

Surveillance video shows a three year old boy falling from what turns out to be a third floor window. He bounces off a car then lands on the sidewalk.

An update on what happens next below the video:

As you can see in the video, the boy gets up and staggers away after the fall.

A downstairs neighbor heard the crash of the boy falling, found him outside and took him back up to the third floor, where his grandparents were taking care of him.

Later, the kid's parents came home, heard what happened and rushed him off to the hospital, just in case. Doctors determined the boy had some scratches and bruises, and is going to be fine.

Which is both happy and amazing.

Sea Lion Wins Fame After Hitching Ride On Family's Kayak

Cecil the sea lion pup hitched a ride on the
Gist family kayak and gets to know Rodney
Gist during an excursion at Santa Monica CA.
A sea lion pup whose recent aquaintances named Cecil is getting his 15 minutes of fame right now.

A family was kayaking in the water just off Santa Barbara, California when the sea lion pup decided to hitch a ride on the little boat, says television station KTLA in Los Angeles. 

The sea lion plopped down behind Rodney Gist of Fullerton, California who was riding the kayak with his two children.

Gist said at first he was a little concerned for his kids. A sea lion is a wild animal, after all. He said the family was "a little bit interested in seeing how he would behave."

It turned out Cecil was a nice guy, (I'm assuming guy) as sea lion pups go. KTLA said Cecil nuzzled against Gist as it sat behind him. "The cute creature appeared at one point to even kiss the back of his head, video of the incident showed," KTLA reported.

You can watch the video at the bottom of this post.

"I could tell he was kind of playful like a dog," Gist said.

The family isn't sure why Cecil wanted so badly to meet the Gist family. "Maybe he was just tired of swimming. Maybe he was wanting to interact with people. Maybe he just wanted to snuggle," said Lee Gist, Rodney's daughter.

Eventually, as the kayak maneuvered around a pier, the Cecil drew a crowd of onlookers. Maybe Cecil got a little freaked out by all the attention so he jumped off the kayak and swam away.

At least the family got this video as a remembrance of their time with Cecil:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Person Who Lost Out On Dream House Unleashes Nightmare On New Owners

Kathy Rowe in court with her attorney
after being caught harassing a couple who
outbid her on a house she wanted.  
The ABC show 20/20 did a piece on a woman in California who was outbid when trying to buy a house she really, really wanted.

I can understand her disappointment. But maybe she went a teensy bit too far on how she reacted to the disappointment.

ABC quoted Kathy Rowe thusly:

"I had put so much hope into this house......When I walked in, it felt like my house...its almst like, you know you hear bluebirds sing and music play. I walked in, it was my house."

Well, no it wasn't. It belong to Janice Ruhter and Jerry Rice, a married couple, and their yoiung child and another baby on the way. The couple poured their life savins into the house in a very nice Carmel Valley California neighborhood.

Not long after Ruhter and Rice moved in, strange things started to happen, ABC says:

"They received $1,000 worth of bills for adult diapers and magazine subscriptions that they never ordered. They found their house re-listed for sale online, and buyers started showing up in their yard. There was an online ad for a New Year's Eve party at their house that they said they never planned.

'You get scared, you know, that's your house. It should be a place of safety,' Ruhter said. 'With that out there, the safety just disappears.'

"Then things got worse One Valentine's Day, Rice said the neighbors' wives were sent Valentine's Day cards, with his name signed on the cards. Then Rice discovered online posts advertising sex with his wife telling strangers to just show up at the house during the day."

Now, that's extremely troubling. With that, Rowe could have easily set up a situation where Ruhter could have been raped or even worse.
This is the house Kathy Rowe really, really

If People magazine's account is true, what Rowe did was very, VERY scary:

"In email correspondences with men, Rowe, posing as Ruhter, wrote that she had fantasies of being raped while her husband was at work.

'I love to be surprised and have a man just show up at my door and force his way in the door and on me, totally taking me while I say no,' she wrote to one ma who responded to her posting."

Rice called police who investigated and figured out Rowe was behind all this. Surely Rice and Ruhter were relieved. I bet the neighbors were too. After all, upon the arrest of Rowe, the neighbors surely figured out the couple who actually owned the house were pretty normal.

I bet the neighbors were glad they didn't have Rowe as a neighbor. Who knows what she would have done had one of those neighbors gotten on her wrong side.

Rowe pleaded guilty to stalking in November.  A few weeks ago, she was sentenced to a year of home electronic surveillance, five years of probation and ordered to stay away from the Rice and Ruhter and their family for ten years.

Rowe told ABC: "I may be the least liked person in San Diego County....a horrible, evil person wanted to harm this nice couple. I did not intend to harm them."

Didn't intend to harm them?!?!  How is harassing them, complicating their lives and putting them in danger not harming them?

Rowe's attorney said she was stressed over caring or a severaly disabled teenage daughter and snapped.

Anyway, if Rowe is house hunting anywhere near you in the future, and you outbid her on a property, better just let her buy the place and look elsewhere. Your life will be easier if you do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stupid Ingenuity Department: Guys Try To Use Severe Cold Snap To Cover Up DWI

Police in New Jersey said this guy figured if he
froze water on frigid pavement where he had
a car crash, he could blame the problem
on icy roads and not that he had been drinking.
Nice try, but nope. 
Police in Sparta, New Jersey have accused a guy named Brian Byers, 20 of drunken driving.

What makes this case interesting is how Byers and his buddy, Alexander Zambenedetti, 20, tried to get out of trouble, according to the Daily Record newspaper of Parsippany, New Jersey.  

Police in the town said they found Byers and Zambenedetti near an intersection very early Sunday morning while the temperature was 1 degree above zero and the wind chill made it feel like it was 15 below.  

Zambenedetti was shirtless, which is a bit odd considering the weather. He explained to police he had fallen in the snow and gotten his shirt wet.

I know, that still doesn't make sense, but oh well.

It turned out Byers had earier crossed through the intersection and hit a guard rail on the other side of the road, the Daily Record said. He then fled, driving his damaged car to his home less than a mile away.

Later, police told the Daily Record, Zambenedetti drove his own car back with Byers to scene of the crash with two five gallon buckets full of water in the car.

Why? So they could pour water over the intersection, which would freeze and make the road dangerous. That way, Byers could tell police the crash was caused by very icy road conditions, not that he maybe had a few drinks.

Well, that's one way of trying to turn unpleasant winter weather to your advantage. "It's not my fault, officer. Old Man Winter is screwing around with us. Look at how dangerous this icy road is."

Police said the pair might have made several trips to dump water on the road. The town had to send a Department of Public Works truck to the intersection to dump half a ton of salt on the ice the two guys left behind. So they must have used quite a bit of water.

The Daily Record said police saw through the guys' icy ruse. Both were charged with driving while intoxicated. And being stupid.

Let's Make Appliances, Tires, Etc. Self Destruct, Just For Fun

Apparently, making washing machines self-
destruct is a thing.  
Here's a post for you if you are in a destructive mood and want to get your frustrations out. 

There seems to be a mini-trend on line of putting bricks in operating washing machines or otherwise bolloxing up appliances, cars, other equipment to make them self destruct.

Yeah, I know. People will do anything for kicks.

Yet, it's strangely fun watching this sort of thing:

Oddly, there are TONS of videos on YouTube of people making washing machines self-destruct. Everyone needs a hobby, apparently.

Here's a washing machine gradually falling to pieces. It's surprisingly compelling:

Now, let's set a washing machine on fire and turn it on to see what happens:

Next we have a guy who supposedly does the ultimate tire burnout. Again, not sure why, but it looks dangerous to me. I can picture the gas tank exploding. Don't try this at home, kiddies:

Monday, February 16, 2015

RIP Leslie Gore, One Of the 1960s Best Singers

Lesley Gore  
I'm not quite sure what evolved between "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To" and "You Don't Own Me," But Leslie Gore sure made some ahead of her time statements back in the 1960s.

I bring her up because she passed away today at the age of 68. 

At first "It's My Party" seems like a typical pouty teenager upset that her boyfriend dumped her.

The song is precisely that, and more. I like how Gore takes control in the song, even if what she's taking control of is the angst of a boyfriend bailing on her.

Maybe she's a little bit too enthralled by that cad Johnny, but she's not going to let everyone else's expectations control her.

"Play all my records, keep dancing all night
But leave me alone for awhile
'Til Johnny's dancing with me
I've got no reason to smile

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I wan to.
You would cry too if it happened to you."

Then, in 1964, Leslie Gore came out with the hit, "You Don't Own Me."

The lyrics, sung to the tune of some assertive minor keys, nowadays seem like only a complete dufus would have to be told this but in 1964, this was kind of groundbreaking:

"You don't own me, I'm not just one of your many toys.
You don't own me, don't say I can't go with other boys
And don't tell me what to do
And don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don't put me on display, 'cause
You don't own me, don't try to change me in any way."

The sad thing is, you know how I said only a complete dufus would have to be told he doesn't own any women?

If you look at a lot of the online community, especially the legions of trolls out there, any time a woman dares to voice her opinion on say, online gaming, or sexism in the computer industry or anything for that matter, the jerks pounce.

What an odd juxtaposition. The computer nerds are so futuristic, foward thinking. At the same time, a few of them continue to live in the darkest, most sexist corners of the 1950s.

At least Leslie Gore had the presense of mind in 1964 to start setting the record straight. It helped lead to generations of women who are not owned by anybody.

RIP, Leslie Gore.

Here is "You Don't Own Me:"

A New Low: Teacher Bullies Kid In Classroom

This 15 year old kid was bullied by a substitute
teacher in an Illinois classroom. The kid was smart
enough to film it on his phone. We're hoping authorities
go after the teacher big time.  
You'll see the outrage meter building today.

Over the weekend, news was spreading about a bullying case in Illinois. It's exploding in the news as I write this early Monday morning.

This wasn't standard issue bullying, the kind we are simultaneously frustrated by and weary of. It wasn't student on student.

It was teacher on student, says the Daily Herald, a newspaper in suburban Chicago.  It was a substitute teacher, and what was this guy thinking?

The bullied student was smart enough to film the incident on his phone, so we have proof. Bullies are often victimized a second time when they are not believed by adult figures when they report the bullying.

This is all on film. The kid's parents uploaded it onto YouTube for the world to see.

In the Streamwood High School classroom in Illinois, a student bully drew a crude drawing on a computerized board of the kid, and labeled it "Stephen," but mispelled it.

The annoyed victim said it was spelled wrong.

The scummy substitute teacher, who hasn't been publicly named yet, wrote on the board "Stephen's ugly ass."

Stephen says he's been picked on by students for a long time, because he's a big dude. He tries to shrug that off.

But a teacher going after him is a new low. "He should not be allowed around children if he's going to do that to someone," Stephen told the Daily Herald.

The school said it is investigating and has suspended the substitute teacher. The evidence seems pretty obvious, so I don't know what there is to investigate. But I understand schools have to go by the rules, and the process takes time.

I also hope the substitute teacher is criminally prosecuted, too. This is child abuse. I can't wait for the teacher's explanation as to why he did this.

On the bright side, I do see there is a big wave of support for Steven. The Daily Herald's comment/Facebook page with the article is filled with messages supporting the kid.

That the kid is being so graceful and so resourceful over this incident tells me he's going to be a very successful adult.

That's a LOT more than I can say for the dufus substitute teacher.

Here's the horrible video Stephen took in the classroom:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Boko Haram, Boca Raton, Same Thing, Really

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona
had a little trouble recently
with the difference between Boko Haram
the terrorists and Boca Raton,
the Florida city.  
Congressman Paul Gosar, R-Arizona is concerned about terrorism, as are many leaders around the world today.

During an appearance on CNN, he said if the United States paid ransom to terrorists to free kidnapped Americans, then "every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a subject in regard for kidnapping and then the plight of how much money has been captivated by the Boca Raton group.

Huh? Are the fine citizens of Boca Raton, Florida terrorists?

He meant Boko Haram, a bunch of horrible Islamic terrorists in Africa.

Boca Raton, Boko Haram, what's the difference, right?

Boca Raton Mary Susan Haynie said she does't think the terrorist group is in her fine city, reports Anne Geggis in the Sun-Sentinel down in Florida.

"While I'm pleased that the congressman from Arizona would hav the name of Boca Raton on his lips, i am disappointed that he would confuse our vibrant, beautiful city with a movement promoting Islamis insurgency in Nigeria," she said.

(Note: Geggis is a former reporting colleague of mine in Vermont, now working at the Sun-Sentinel. She gets all the fun stories, doesn't she?)

Actually,  I'm not going to bash Gosar. Everybody stumbles over their words and makes goofy errors.

It's embarrassing to appear on CNN and seem like you're confusing a nice, quiet midsize Florida city with wild eyed, deluded, scary and murderous terrorists.

These things happen, though.
A tongue in cheek press release issued by Paul
Gosar's spokespeople after the gaffe. Click on it
to make it bigger and easier to read.  

Why I like about this is the response from his press office.

Gosar's spokesman issued a press release with a great tongue in cheek response to the gaffe.

"Today, U.S. Representative Paul A. Gosar is pleased to announce that the Boko Haram terrorist group has been routed from Boca Raton, Florida and the residents are free to celebrate.

I am pleased this was a short dispute and the good people of Boca Raton can go back to tehir lives of leisure, fun and sun.....

.....Mayor Susan Haynie must have rounded up a solid group of citizen defenders who courageously protected their homeland. I look forward to visiting Boca Raton in the near future and I promise never to confuse it with the group Boko Haram ever again."

OK, we'll take that. Though next time, I'm afraid Gosar or somebody else might end up confusing Boca Raton, or Boko Haram and end up referring to Procol Harum.

I've got an idea: I bet we could rout the terrorist group Boko Harum by getting the fine citizens of Boca Raton to sing and record the Procol Harum classic "Whiter Shade of Pale" to drive those awful terrorists out of Nigeria, and maybe inspire them to just quit.

Here's "Whiter Shade of Pale" so you can start practicing:

Jim Cantore Seems To Enjoy Thundersnow

Jim Cantore awestruck during a thunder snowstorm
in Chicago back in 2011. He was in heaven this
weekend as thundersnow hit during his live
reports during a Massachusetts blizzard.  
UPDATE: See new video below the Cantore Thundersnow Montage video in this post. Totally awesome follow up video from someone else.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION: I usually give all the full weather updates on my sister blog, Matt's Weather Rapport, but I have to post something about the weather here.

The Weather Channel's iconic storm reporter/meteorologist, Jim Cantore, is in Massachusetts covering the epic blizzard.

Rule of thumb: If Jim Cantore is in your town, you're screwed. You're in for a terrible, terrible, awful storm/disaster.

Anyway, Jim's favorite weather appears to be a combination of snow, thunder and lightning.

While reporting overnight and this morning on the snow in and around Plymouth, Massachusetts, the sky occasionally lit up with lightning amid the dense clouds of falling and blowing snow.

Judging from the video you'll see below, Cantore is somewhat enthusiastic about the lightning. (Glad he didn't have a heart attack. Or get struck. )

As Dennis Mersereau of the Gawker weather page The Vane put it in a Tweet today, "Anyone who doesn't understand the passion that weather geeks hold for the weather needs to watch Jim Cantore run around in thundersnow."

The video is hilarious though. I like people who can work up this level of enthusiasm:

As Cantore's thundersnow montage video went viral Sunday, Cantore himself Tweeted the following video that demonstrates just how contagious the Weather Channel meteorologist's enthusiasm is:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Most Romantic Video For Your Valentine's Day.

Screen shot from video of a woman named
Vicky telling her boyfriend she's ready to marry.
In the foreground Jon learns Vicky's parents
approve, and Vicky in the background waits
for Jon's answer.  
It's Valentine's Day, which means we must have sappy love stories to celebrate the day.

So I found this random video. I like it because the woman named Vicky who organized it is such a romantic.

Her boyfriend, Jon,  had proposed to her a couple times, but she said she wasn't ready. Then Vicky thought about it, a little time went by, and she decided she was indeed ready to marry.

But she had to tell him. So Vicky organized the event you'll see at the bottom of this post.

This video was uploaded in late August of 2013, right around the date of my first wedding anniversary. I, too, was not initially ready to marry.  My husband waited a long time for me to propose - he wanted it to be my final decision.

Of course, he wasn't terribly shy about dropping hints.

I finally did propose, and we've been happily married for two and a half years now. My decision to ask Jeff to marry me was by far the best move I've ever made.

So happy Valentine's Day Jeff!! 

Anyway back to Vicky and Jon. I'll give you a spoiler alert. Things end up going well in the video, and it turned out Jon was ready for Vicky to be ready.

Though I probably spoiled any surprised in the video, it's still such a charming thing to watch.

I hope it inspires a few hugs and cuddles with your lover. Although caution: Kleenex alert with this video:

People Disagreeing Literally Butt Heads: Lovely Walmart and McDonald's Scenes

No, these two women are not being affectionate.  
Not everybody gets along with each other or with customers at work, as recent viral videos show.

It seems that if there's going to bad public behavior and fights, it will almost always be at a Walmart or McDonald's.

These things almost always end up on YouTube. I have to admit I share the public's fascination with these incidents.

Everybody gawks at train wrecks, I guess.

The other day I showed you the guy who was displeased about being fired from his McDonald's job. Now, we have two women who are perhaps not best friends.

The video concerning this one has really gone viral.   It involves a customer and a tax preparer in a Texas Walmart. (Admit it. There's no place you'd rather be than a Texas Walmart right now, right?)

The tax preparer works for Jackson Hewitt and has a booth at Walmart. The customer had a disagreement with the tax lady a few days earlier, says Consumerist, via television station KTRK in Houston, Texas.

The customer, Jessica Albitz,  came back to Walmart a couple days later and encounter tax worker Alice Keener. (Keener wasn't the person Albitz was dealing with a few days earlier, but they didn't get along from the start.)

Albitz said when she came back, Keener mumbled an obscenity to her. That's when maturity took a nosedive and the following stupidity erupted.

No word yet on whether the tax preparer has been disciplined. The other woman, the shopper, has been banned from that Walmart. It takes a lot to be banned from Walmart, so that is quite an accomplishment.

In the video, the nicest thing anybody said was "Yo mamma's a bitch."  Yeah, the language is NSFW.

The headbutt in the video is the highlight. Watch: