Monday, November 30, 2015

Old Smokestack Tries To Kill Guy In Excavator

A smokestack collapses onto an excavator recently in Pell City Alabama.
Recently, crews in Pell City Alabama decided they needed to get rid of a derelict 158-foot tall, 2.6 million pound brick smokestack looming over the town.

They tried to take the thing down with explosives - twice. It still stood tottering and damaged, when Tim Phifer decided to finish the smokestack off by knocking it down with his excavator.

It worked!

Trouble is, the smokestack all 2.6 million pounds of it, landed on his excavator. Not good.

Luckily, he had the presense of mind to stay in the excavator rather than trying to flee. The excavator was crushed, but the protective cage surrounding him helped him hang in there.

He just suffered a couple of scratches and was totally covered in soot. But he's OK.

Here's the dramatic report from Good Morning America, partly filmed via drone. Awesome and scary (h/t) Boing Boing.

Police Departments Might Be Taking More Than Burglers

I really hope this cartoon is not reality. 
I don't mean to pile on law enforcement, but can certain jurisdictions please stop just stealing people's money just because they can?

It's true, They can. It's called civil forfeitures.

It invites so much crookedness and corruption that I don't think there's any hope of rescuing any of it.  With people aleady getting more and more skeptical about the police, do we really want the entire populace not trusting them?

I've complained about this before, but it bears repeating, especially with the latest study that came out. More on that in a minute.

Civil forfeiture is the ability of law enforcement and prosecutors to take money or property away from people suspected of committing a crime. This can happen without charging the owners of the cash or property with a crime.

I suppose the original impetus of this arrangement was full of good intentions. It started mostly as a way to stop the drug trade. Authorities could take assets used to promote illegal drug sales. And they could grab the money or property after an arrest but before a conviction.

That way, criminal enterprises wouldn't get a chance to stash the cash away,  out of reach of authorities. Civil forfeiture would help thwart the drug sales by interrupting the assets people had to continue this extremely shady business.

However, in some jurisdictions, it's become a method for quote, unquote law enforcement to shake down innocent people for property. And some of these police and prosecuting agencies take a LOT of money and property for their own use. Kind of like the Mob is famous for doing.

I had no idea how bad this was until an Institute for Justice study came out last week.

Says the Institute for Justice:

"Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy and lucrative for law enforcement to take and keep property - regardless of the owner's guilt or innocence."

Blogger Martin Armstrong of Armstrong Economics crunched the data in the Institute for Justice report:

"Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time was +19.4 annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by 52.8 percent from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989.

Then by 2014, that number ballooned to roughtly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35 percent of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means the police are now taking more assetts than the criminals."

Here's how the Washington Post described how bad things have gotten with forfeitures in an investigatige report last year:

"An aggressive brand of policing (is spreading) that has spurred the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from motorists and others not charged with crimes.....

Thousands of people have been forced to fight legal batles that can last more than a year to get their money back.

"A thriving subculture of road officers now competes to see who can seiz the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network's chat rooms and sharing "trophy shots' of money and drugs. Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities."

In other words, these jurisdictions and governments know that they'll become unpopular with their constituents if they do try the traditional method of using tax dollars to fund law enforcement. So they just shake down people who happen to be passing  through.

I'm really stunned this kind of thing hasn't gotten more publicity. Especially considering how widespread this practice has become. Can you imagine if roving gangs of pirates were shaking down motorists, who, say stopped at a highway rest area?

Noah Smith, writing in Bloomberg View describes the various threats this state of affairs creates succinctly:

"The threat to individual liberty from stop-and-seize is painfully clear. Without requirements for an arrest or for a warrant, the power to confiscate cash is a clear diminution of property rights.

Effectively, the police have been given official sanction to commit literal highway robbery without the threat of punishment. People whose property was seized must pay a lot of monye and spend a long time in court for even the chance of getting it back, and police who seize money with no good reason don't, apparently, suffer any threat of discipline.

But stop-and-seize also presents a danger to public trust. When the cops go around taking money from innocent people to fund their own departments and salaries it understandably decreases trust in the government and the legal system. That is something we can ill-afford at the present time, with trust in the police already at a low ebb over a series of videos and police killings.

If they don't trust the government, people will be less likely to report criminals, and possibly less likely to follow the law themselves."

Just what this country needs. More upheaval.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Worst 2015 Christmas Gift Idea: Bacon Scented Underwear

You can buy this bacon scented underwear for just $20 each! 
For the processed meat fan on your Christmas list, I've solved your gift giving problem:

Bacon scented underwear!

Yes, you can buy such underwear from an outfit called J&D's for the low, low price of $20. It comes in both women's and men's styles!

The underwear design also features a strip of bacon in a most strategically placed spot in the front of the undergarments. What fun!

J&D's has the following tongue in cheek product warning on their web site:

"Our legal team has advised us to post the following warnings:
---If you have a large dog with razor sharp teeth, please to don fall asleep in J&D's Bacon Scented Underwear.
-- J&Ds Bacon Scented Underwear is not recommended for people in the following professions: mail carriers, zookeepers, veterinarians, dog catchers and walkers, and circus performers (especially lion tamers.)
--If you are hiking in the woods where bears are known to roam, please do not wear Bacon Scented Underwear without also carrying a firearm."

Everybody loves bacon, and bacon is in everything nowadays so why not underwear?

If you're looking for sexy undergarments, though, I don't know if this is going to be the Next Big Thing. I mean, who wants to get hungry for food when you're also hungry for a little loving?

I don't think this is going to be a substitute for any of the most popular colognes out there, either. Imagine being in a high end nightclub. You might catch whiffs of Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Dolce and Gabbana perfumes and colognes, then, bacon?

By the way, J&D's also offers bacon-scented pillowcases and bacon scented lip balm! 

Sorry, I'm skipping the bacon underwear. And the pillowcases and lip balm.  Maybe if I'm that desperate, I could have bacon for breakfast then rub my greasy hands on myself it I want such a scent.

But, no. Bacon is for eating, not for wearing.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

As Expected, Creepy "Pharma Bro" Keeps Drug Price Way Up To Get Super Rich

Martin Shkreli, stil looking smug for making oodles
of money through drug price gouging, says his many critics. 
I know, I know, I've written on and off about Martin Shkreli, the odious money grubbing "Pharma Bro." You might be sick of him, and I kind of am, too. But he just keeps at it.

I just can't resist staring down a villain, is all.

As you might recall, Shkreli and his company Turing Pharmaceuticals, abruptly raised the price of a life saving drug more than fifty fold, raising it to $750 per pill.

The drug helps peope with HIV, organ transplant patients and others with weakened immune systems.  He didn't really care that he was making the life saving drug financially out of reach for many. So what if some people died? Shkreli needs to get richer.

After a major public outcry, Shkreli said he would reduce the price of the drug. But now, not surprisingly we learn that once the media spotlight was off him, he basically said, forget it. I need to get even more super rich off this drug.

At first glance, it looks Shkreli did do something about the price, but not really.

According to the Associated Press, his company will reduce what it charges to hospital for the drug, and most patients' copayments will be capped at around $10 a month.

Sounds terrific, right? No. As the Associated Press put it, "But insurers will be stuck with the bulk of the $750 tab. That drives up future treatment and insurance costs for everyone.

Another drug company, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, came out with a similar version of the drug that costs just 99 cents a pill, so at least the people that need the medication can get someting at least similar to the original medication.

Still, Impremis has to work to get insurance companies to sign on to using the cheaper pill, but they're making progress. Impremis is also trying to get Congress to change rules to let Medicare, the Defense Department and other federal agencies to cover the less expensive compounded medicines fro outfits like Impremis, says the Associated Press.

Of course, I have no idea why it should be so hard for Congress to change those rules, but then again, we are talking about the U.S. Congress.

 If your insurance doesn't cover the cheaper drug, you're outta luck. You go bankrupt, maybe, on Turing's uber expensive drug Daraprim.

Meanwhile, Turing, under Shkreli's "leadership" is basically trying to say that the sky high price of their drug is a good thing because lower prices don't benefit patients, reports Tech Dirt.

 Yeah, I don't get that either, but here's what Turing's press release says: "Drug pricing is one of the ost complex parts of the health are industry. A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access. A reduction in Daraprim's list price would not translate into a benefit for patients."

Um, right. The press release doesn't exactly explain how lower prices would not benefit patients.

The scary thing about all this is that there's very likely other drug manufacturers who are price gouging drugs because they can.    

Yes, I get it that a somewhat higher price needs to be built into medication to fund innovation in future drugs, but it seems as if a lot of this income is going to make billionaires trillionaires or something, rather than advance the cause of science.

The lobbyists have ensured such a thing is legal, and who cares if it's unethical?

The billiionaires have gotta be billionaires, you know.

Friday, November 27, 2015

More "People Are Awesome"

I post examples of this series of YouTube videos from time to time, because I can't resist watching what athletic people can do. Humans can be superhuman, I guess.

Here's the latest "People Are Awesome" video:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Why Do Terrorist Threats Bring Out The Crazies?

Some random thoughts on the responses to the world's growing terrorist threat, and related news:

REFUGEES:  OK, I totally understand the desire to vet any potential refugees coming here from Syria, to make sure they're really just families fleeing war and violence and depravation. Makes sense to me.

But, as always, we have politicians going over the top with this one.

The one that made me groan the most came from U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, according to Think Progress.

As Think Progress reported, Brooks thinks all those refugees want to come to the United States because they're a bunch of greedy welfare queens.

"We're paying them about $15,000 a year in free health care, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free transportation...That answers very quickly why so many of them want to come to the United States of America.

"We're paying them to come here....It'a a paid vacation!"

I don't know the precise details of what benefits refugees who arrive in the United States get, but somehow I think a family fleeing bombs and machine guns aren't just looking for a pleasant weekend getaway on Dauphin Island.

Besides, why all the focus on refugees? If I were a terrorist wanting to cause mayhem in the United States, I'd get here on a tourist or student visa. Much less vetting there. Why not scream and holler about those visas?

Just a theory, but maybe because tourist and student visas bring in money? And refugees, at least when they first get here and are not employed yet, cost money? Is this really about economics and not security?

Just askin'.

THOSE CELEBRATIONS IN JERSEY CITY: Much has been made in the past couple of days about Donald Trump's assertion that "thousands" of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers fall during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Of course, that didn't happen, but here's the mystery: Every time Trump tells a whopper like that, he gets more popular. Do that many people just want to hear this fiction to reinforce their own wackadoodle opinions?

Of course, Trump's campaign manager has figured out why we haven't seen film of these celebrations. It turns out the main stream media is colluding to suppress the videos, thereby tensuring an establishment candidate like Jeb Bush is elected instead.

Boy, this guy doesn't know how journalists operate. If such a video exists and a journalist found it, they'd be blasting it out far and wide. It would be a career making scoop.

WHAT ABOUT THE WHITE TERRORISTS?   Everybody is rightly worried about the possibility of Islamic terrorists causing mayhem in the United States. It's also a legitimate argument whether President Obama's administration is doing enough to prevent that type of thing.

It seems we're too dismissive of white male terrorists in our own country, though. True, how do you define terrorism? Does it include every person who causes mayhem, like the movie theater shooting in Colorado a couple of years ago?

Or must it have a political agenda. Even if you go by that definition, there's plenty of worry to go around about some white, super right wing men in America. Tim McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 comes immediately to mind.

Then there's the guy who shot up the Charleston, South Carolina church in June and killed nine people because racism. And just this morning, we learned some white supremists shot and wounded Black Lives Matters protestors in Minneapolis a few nights ago. 

Obviously, I don't have the skill and ability to tamp down terrorism and all the societal and political complications that go with it

But I just think those three things I just described are among the things we should be at least thinking about.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Three Year Old Is Way Smarter Than You

This little girl can recite the whole Periodic Table. She's 3.
OK, kiddies! Recite the entire Periodic Table to me!

Hello? Anyone? Nobody?

Well, we have three year old girl named Brielle to the rescue. She recently appeared on Ellen DeGeneres' show to demonstrate her prowess with the Periodic Table. Yep, this little kid knows all the elements.

She also knows all the state capitols, all the countries in Europe and Africa, and the names of all U.S. Presidents.

No, I can't do that, either.  Brielle explains herself by saying, "My little brain just remembers!"

Here's the charming video:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ANOTHER Needed Antidote On A Grim News Day

Some of the dogs at a Serbian rescue center enjoy a
nice, active day.  
Everytime the national and world news is bad, like it is today, I feel compelled to post something fluffy and happy, just to take our minds off it a bit.

Today's installment is a video showing a dog sanctuary in Serbia that at last count had 450 rescued dogs.

That sounds cramped and awful, until you realize the rescue center is designed to give the dogs plenty of space to run around and play. They don't warehouse them in cages or kennels (though of course they're given a sheltered place to sleep if the dogs so choose.)

It does sound like this wonderfull place in Serbia could use some funds to keep going. An animal advocacy group called the Harmony Fund is funneling money towards them - that is the nonprofit receives enough donations.

Harmony Fund says you can donate to them if you follow this link.

Meanwhile, enjoy the happy dogs to take your mind off things:

Good Damn Luck Getting A Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie

Good luck finding Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie
at Walmart. It's selling like, um,  hotcakes after
a viral video about it. 
I will not be eating any Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie this Thanksgiving.

I'm sure it's good, but I don't feel like searching every Walmart on the planet for it.


Here's the deal: Walmart introduced Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie for the Thanksgiving season this year. (Apparently the awesome singer knows her way around baking, too.)

Then some eccentric but very fun guy on YouTube decided to review it. As you can see in that video below, he definitely liked it. (And can sing pretty well, too. He's no Patti LaBelle, but that's OK.)

The video went totally viral, with 3.2 million hits as of today and counting. When people saw the video, they, too wanted Patti Labelle's Sweet Potato Pie.

The pie sold at the nation's Walmarts at the rate of one per second for 72 straight hours, according to Forbes magazine. 

Walmart, which has exclusive rights to the pie, can't keep them in stock. They're $3.48 per pie at Walmart, but some people are selling them on eBay for as much as $60 per pie, says Forbes.

Many people, including me, will be forced to go without Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie this Thanksgiving. (Luckily, there's a place called Mirabelles Cafe and Pastry Shop in Burlington, Vermont, near my house, which makes awesome pies. Maybe not sweet potato pie, but marvelous other pies for sure. I'll get my Thanksgiving dessert supplies there.)

Anyway, here's the strange but awesome Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie YouTube review that started this craze:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Australian National Anthem Runs Into A Few Hiccups

Hiccups aren't going to stop this pre-game performance. 
Check out this video of a seven year old boy singing the Australian National Anthem just before a recent Australian Baseball League game recently.

There were some ill-timed hiccups, but Ethan Hall soldiered on, and the rendition of "Advance Australian Fair" is priceless.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weirdest Mystery Crime: Why Were These Women Twerking This Unwilling Guy?

From the surveillance video. Two weird women go
after Washington Thorpe 40, despite the fact he
is REALLY not into this. 
There's a viral video that's been out for a few weeks now of this guy, minding his own business in a convenience store, suddenly being subjected to twerking by two slutty women.

I don't normally throw around the world "slutty" when talking about any woman, but in this case, I feel compelled to make an exception.

The guy, Washington Thorpe was minding is own business in a convenience store when the two women started twerking right up against him and touching him in areas he did NOT want to be touched.

Twerking, for the uninitiated, is leaning forward and moving your butt around in a VERY suggestive way. This may be odd to say, but some people are really good at it.

However, in the surveillance video you can see at the bottom of this post, you can see the guy is clearly NOT into this twerking. But the women persist.

This is clearly weird. I shouldn't joke about it too much. After all, it's a sexual assault. I mean, what would you think if a guy started grabbing at a woman's private parts in a convenience store.


And so is this.  Were they setting up for a robbery? Were they incredibly aggressive prostitutes looking for a score and some cash? Were they just obnoxious?

Thorpe has to feel like he's the victim of the weirdest crime in ages.

He also faces a double standard. Because he's a guy, some oddballs say that he should have just gone for it. He's a guy after all.

But think about it.  A couple guy sassaulted a gal like this is horrible. The guy getting twerked is "lucky" according to old stereotypes. I don't think so.

Thorpe doesn't think so either. He's a nice middle school teacher, and I'm guessing his sexual tastes are a little tamer than what these two women were after.

Tharpe, 40, said the assault continued after the surveillence video ends, says television station WJLA. 

"He claims the assault lasted ten minutes both inside and outside a New York Ave. gas station and continued inside the car wash where the two women followed him. Tharpe said he wasn't sure if hee was being set up in a robbery."

Tharpe is a big guy standing six foot two and weighing 230 pounds. He actually tried to throw the twerking idiots off him but they came back on him with surprising ease, he said.

Last week, Ayanna Marie Knight, 22, of Las Vegas was found by authorities and charged with third degree sexual abuse against Thorpe. The other woman at last report was still  on the lam.

Heres the weird video:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Adele Enters An Adele Impersonation Contest

Adele impersonators, including a disguised real Adele
acting as "Jenny" (far right) await their turn backstage. 
Adele is dominating the music news of late, with the release of her not surprisingly beautiful new album "25"

When an artist becomes as big as Adele, there's a lot of fan clubs, look-alikes, wanna-bes and just general excitement around her.

So it was in Britain, where the BBC filmed a small local Adele impersonation contest.

With the help of prosethics, makeup and acting, Adele showed up at the contest as "Jenny" a mild mannered nanny trying her luck at singing like Adele.

Nervous "Jenny" is the last contestant to perform and sings "Make You Feel My Love." Only then does it dawn on the other contestants who "Jenny" really is. And they flip out, naturally.

The resulting video is really funny and sweet. Take a look. Totally worth your time:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Would-Be Darwin Award Winners Burn Autumn Leaves

The most dangerous way to get rid of autum leaves
Do NOT try this at home

A couple of dumb people posted a video to Facebook of how they got rid of a long pile of fallen autumn leaves.

You shouldn't burn leaves anyway as it's illegal in most places. The smoke is unhealthy. It's also a bad idea to soak them in gasoline.

These morons did anyway:

Dear Morons: ISIS Bookstore In Denver Not Run By Terrorists

Note to morons: This is a peaceful New Age store
in Colorado, not a terrorist advetising tool.
Theres's a retail shop outside of Denver owned by a perfectly nice couple.

It's called Isis Books & Gifts and it sells books and gifts about religion, spirituality and healing. They have supplies for Tarot readers, the Wicca community, essential oils, that type of thing.

As most normal people would expect, Isis Books and Gifts, which has been there in Englewood, Colorado for something like two decades, is named after an Egyptian goddess of women and healing.

But morons and hysterics are around us, and these doofuses think since the place is named Isis, its a terrorist organization brazenly advertising itself right in suburban Denver.

So they keep vandalizing the place, according to the AP.

I guess part of the problem is the media, including me, keeps calling the horrible terrorist organization responsible for the Paris attacks and another zillion atrocities ISIS. The name sounds cool. A lot of people in government call the terrorists ISIL, and I should probably start doing the same

Still, people are stupid, and they see the word ISIS and start screaming "Terrorist!" And they keep vandalizing the little book store in Englewood, Colorado because they're too stupid to know any better.

On the bright side, the store's owners say the business at the store remains steady, even if they have to keep repairing signs and such after the stupid people come through.

They also have no plans to change the name of the store. After all, the Egyptian goddess the store is named after is a sign of peace.

And Lord knows we could use more peace. And fewer morons.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bridge Enforces Laws Of Physics Despite Best Efforts Of Truck Drivers

One of many trucks that tried and failed
to violate teh laws of physics by going into an
underpass that's not as tall as the truck. 
There's a bridge in Durham, North Carolina that is a graveyard for stupid truck drivers, and a source of shadenfreude entertainment for the rest of us.

Cars can fit just fine getting through the underpass beneath the bridge, which is really a train trestle.

But the bottom of the bridge is 11 feet, eight inches above the roadway, meaning it's trouble for trucks. (Technically the space is 11 feet, 10 inches, but they try to give people two inches of wiggle room, just to be generous. )

There's a number of warning signs and lights alerting drivers to the low clearance ahead, but somehow,  people driving trucks, especially inexperienced people driving rental trucks, just don't get it.

There's a whole website, called 11 foot 8, dedicated to all the stupid truck drivers who tried to get under the bridge,  Proprietors of the web site have recorded no fewer than 97 trucks smashing into the bridge.

As the web site notes:

"The train trestle prominently featured in all the videos here has earned a reputation for its unrelenting enforcement of the lawes of physics. If your vehicle is taller than 11 feet, eight inches, and you challenge this bridge, you might find ootage of your experience on this website."

Somehow, this bridge or train trestle insists on adhering to the laws of physics. Go figure.

The website says trucks crash into the bridge on average once a month. At least once a day, a truck trips overhead warning lights which makes them stop in time and turn around.

They can't simply block the road from trucks, because as you can see in the video below, there's a cross street right before the bridge. There are several businesses and restaurants on that cross street that need access by delivery trucks.

As long as those delivery trucks don't go straight into the underpass, no problem.

Here's a video of a bunch of crashes at the trestle through May, 2013. There's a LOT of them. People never learn, do they?

Monday, November 16, 2015

ANOTHER British Christmas Ad Wins The Day

Mog the CGI cat cauises an eventful Christmas
for a family in a delightful Sainsbury's
holiday ad from Britain.  
What is it about Christmas ads from British retailers?

American advertisers can sure learn from them, as ours are mostly terrible. (Apple's sweet 2013 Christmas ad was a welcome exception, however.)

The reason I'm saying this because barely a week after this Grinch managed to offer a seal of approval to the new John Lewis holiday ad from Britain, we have this great one from Sainsbury's, which is an English supermarket chain.

In this ad, Mog, a cat character made popular by beloved childrens' author Judith Kerr, awakes from a Christmas Eve nightmare and inadvertently and hilariously creates a real life Christmas nightmare for himself and the entire Thomas family.

The sight gags are hilarious, and children in particular will love the chaos in the Christmas ad. (This child at heart loved the chaos, too.)

It's Christmas, so of course everything works out in the end, but I love the way they get there.

Watch this great viral video of the Sainsbury's ad, called "Mog's Christmas Calamity":

Guy With Zillions Of Voices Distracts Us From The World

Today's Monday distraction features Nic De Houwer
and his many, many voices.  
Lord knows we need a distraction from the grimness that is the world lately.

With that in mind, I bring you Nic De Houwer of Belgium, who will entertain you with at least 50 different, eerily accurate voices from various characters from movies and pop culture and such.

Just because we need a good time waster. Watch and enjoy:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

So What Do We Do About The Idiots Trying To Blow Up The World?

Once again, we're shell shocked by yet another huge terrorist attack. (In case you've been alone in a cave the past couple of days, a coordinated attack by suspected ISIS terrorists on a concert hall, a soccer game and a restaurant/bar in Paris killed more than 120 people.)

We're all going through our usual expressions of sympathy and solidarity to the terrorism victims in Paris.

I'm not disparaging that. Paris needs all the support it can get. They need to know the world is behind them.

I'm just despairing because we've done this sad song and dance so often I've lost count. And we will do it again.

The thing about fundamentalists of any stripe is this: They lack the intellectual firepower that most of us have to live in a world in which people differ from the rest of us. So they use actual, physical firepower to demand everyone adhere to the same crude simplistic beliefs they have.

That's why 129 or so people in Paris were executed yesterday for the "crime" of attending a rock concert, or going to a soccer game, or stopping by the tavern for a glass of wine.

The Atlantic lists additional crimes we are guilty of that Islamic terrorists think should be punished by death. Such as going to a bar in Bali, watching the Boston Marathon or going to work in New York City.

Obviously, nobody knows how to stop people with this hideous mindset.  There's plenty of noisy talk and yelling over what to do. We either ISIS bomb them too much or not enough.  We're either too nice or not nice enough to refugees fleeing the ISIS-polluted Middle East. We're too Islamophobic or not Islamophobic enough.

Our world leaders' understandable inability to quash ISIS and their ilk means we're going to go through tragedies like Paris again and again, just like we saw in New York, London, Bali, Turkey and a whole bunch of other places.

There was probably a method to the madness of the Paris attacks, as there always is. The conventional wisdom, which I buy, is that ISIS wanted to provoke a backlash. More bombing, a big clampdown on refugees, discrimination against Muslims.

That way, they can say claim they are right, the West really wants to get rid of Muslims. It's a vicious cycle.

ISIS, in their fake flowery language, said they were killing western people, people of loose morals, prostitutes as they called the innocent Parisians. Again, because everybody is supposedly expected to be just like the fundamentalists, because their heads explode when people act with freedom and independent thought, and don't adhere to their gloomy, prison like mindset.

Religion through the centuries has done a lot of good in the world. But from the most hard core, rigid fundamentalists, their religion has brought us nothing but suffering, death, oppression and hate. Amazing how much damage a small minority of lunatics can cause.

It's been going on for thousands of years in one form or another, so I'm pessimistic about ever stopping it.

All we can do is defiantly put our freedoms, our intellectual skills, our social liberalism, our independent thought, our quest for peace and our desire for a full and wide ranging life front and center. Especially when something like this happens.

I do like how people initially reacted to the latest terrorist attack in France. When police evacuated the soccer stadium, departing fans spontaneously started singing the French National Anthem.  Across the world, governments lit up famous landmarks with the red, white and blue colors of the French flag, a nice symbol of solidarity with Paris combined with a perfect "fuck you" gesture toward ISIS.

Near the nightclub where the worst of the Paris violence happened, a musician named Davide Martello pulled a portable piano on his bike, set it up amid a scrum of reporters and onlookers, and played John Lennon's "Imagine," that famous ode to peace and tolerance and fairness.

"Imagine" won't change any minds among ISIS, but it is a reminder of what the rest of us need to strive toward.

No, scumbags like the ISIS idiots aren't going away anytime soon.  But neither will the world's majority of people who only want to live their lives, as fully and freely as possible.

This desire is the ultimate and best way to torture the fundamentalists we detest.

I'll let you go with the video of Martello playing "Imagine" on that Paris street yesterday:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Dog Steals Pizza, Almost Burns Down House

A pizza thief and accidental arsonist caught in the act. 
Leftover pizza!  Yum!!

Some was sitting atop a stove in a Connecticut kitchen recently. So one of the dogs in the house decided to have a slice because why not?

Of course, there's always a mistake made in a crime, in this case, stealing a pizza.

The dog accidentally turned the stove burner on, and it was all caught on a security camera.

Luckily, the dog's human companions were in the other room and were able to avoid catastrophe.

Oh, and the humans subsequently put child proofing on the stove knobs, relocated smoke detectors and never leave anything on the stove. You'll see why in this video:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cruel Judge Lets His Hatred Of Gays Potentially Harm Baby Girl

Everyone seems to agree these two women make
fine parents, except for one activist Utah judge, who
says gay people like them are always unfit as parents,
evidence be damned.  

As I pretty much expected, the judge who ordered the baby taken away from this gay married couple reversed himself, at least temporarily.

Judge Scott Johansen came under withering attack for taking the kid away from the two female foster parents, who are hoping to adopt the baby.

The judge is now letting the couple keep the kid for now, but has scheduled a hearing on December 4, and he's still got lots of misgivings about placing the baby with a gay couple.

This despite the fact that the two women have demonstrated their competence at raising a kid.
And despite the fact that his ruling appears to violate Utah and national law.

Even the Republican governor of Utah criticized this judge.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign filed a formal complaint with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission. We'll see where that goes.


Yesterday, a judge in Utah ordered a one year old girl be taken away from her foster parents within a week.

The foster parents weren't abusing the kid. They are a married couple. Financially stable. No history of violence, crime or weirdness. Routine investigations showed the baby girl was doing well in this household. She was thriving. She seemed healthy and well-adjusted. The foster parents were providing her everything she needed.

So what's the problem? Well, Utah 7th District Court Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen decided that the married couple in question are lesbians, they are unfit to parent because they are gay, says the Salt Lake Tribune in a story extensively picked up by other media.

Which means the girl, who by all accounts was well cared for and loved by April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, now faces an uncertain and unstable future in Utah's foster care system.

The judge didn't provide any facts to back up his claim that a household with same sex parents is dangerous to a child, but made a vague reference to "research."

Says the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Johansen did not provide specifics of that research in court despite questions from attorneys for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and the Guardian Ad Litem Office assigned to represent the child, Hoagland and Peirce said."

The studies the judge referred to might be from a widely discredited study by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, which said that children do more poorly with gay parents than with straight parents.

The Regnerus study was flawed, say experts, because of unreliable data or data that indicated the children in question were actually living with single parents or under different circumstances than with married, same sex parents.

Most other studies on the topic concluded that on average, children with gay parents do at least as well as those with straight parents.

According to Utah law, foster parents must be married couples or single individuals age 21 or older. They muset be U.S. citizes or permanent legal residents, they must pass background checks, must be financially stable, must be able to support their family without assistance from the state, they can't foster parent children and run a day care center at the same time, and must be healthy enough to care for the kids.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services have reportedly investigated Hoagland and Peirce thoroughly, as they're supposed to do with every potential foster parent. The couple did just fine with the investigation and the child welfare agency supported the idea of the couple foster parenting the child.

Who, by the way, was to have eventually been adopted by Hoagland and Peirce. Which would have permanently given the baby girl a stable household where she could grow up to presumably be a nice stable adult.

According to the Tribune:

"'We have a lot of support,' Peirce said. "DCFS wants us to have the child, the Guardian Ad Litem wants us to have the child, the mother wants us to have the child, so the only thing standing in the way is the judge.'"

Of course, there's a big outcry over Judge Johansen now, so maybe this will get fixed. I've heard criticism, especially from conservatives, over "activist judges" making up their own laws.

Still, it's unclear how an appeal, of possible, would work.

Johansen is a classic example of an activist judge. He ignores case law, and interjects his own religious beliefs.

Hey, if Johansen doesn't like gay people or the fact some are parents, fine, he can do that. But he has to apply the law as it is written.

As I noted, this judge appears to be willing to damage a child in the name of hating gays.

By the way, this judge has been pretty jerky in the past, too. He slapped a teenage boy in the courthouse back in 1997 and has ordered a woman to chop the ponytail off a 13 year old girl who had apparently misbehaved.

But the damage he caused this time is too much.

I just hope the judge isn't a foster parent.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ellen DeGeneres Helps Us Through The Starbucks Christmas Cup Crisis Of 2015

Ellen DeGeneres helps guide us through the Great Starbucks
Christmas Cup Crisis of 2015.  
I was going to weigh in on the "controversy" about the Starbucks holiday season cups, which are just red.

Some evangelical Christians are upset because the cups don't mention Christmas, or anything like that.

However, I saw a clip of Ellen DeGeneres explaining the situation and possible solutions much better than I could, so I'll just let her do it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beavers Went Parachuting In Idaho In the 1940s and 1950s

A beaver gets out of its box after being parachuted
into a remote part of Idaho 50 or so years ago.  
The Internet is abuzz about some old footage from the 1940s and 1950s of beavers parachuting into Idaho.


Yes, about 50 years ago, Idaho would relocate "problem beavers" gnawing on peoples' trees were trapped, put on planes and dropped via parachute on other parts of Idaho, says Slate.

Seems they went to great lengths to move these beavers, but what the hell, the video they made of this back in is fun. It was recently dug up in Idaho state archives and shared on YouTube.


Monday, November 9, 2015

This Curmudgeon Is Still A Sucker For Sentimental Christmas Ads

This little girl wants to make friends with the man
on the moon in the John Lewis 2015 Christmas ad  
A rite at the start of the Christmas shopping season is the new holiday ad from the British retailer John Lewis.

This year's version is out. As always, the ad is one of the rare bright spots in the frustratingly treacly Christmas season.

True, the annual John Lewis ads are pretty over the top sentimental, too, but at least they're well made.

Last year we had the little boy who helped his toy (or real!) penguin find true love on Christmas.

This year's John Lewis ad is almost, but not quite as good, but still worth a watch. 

Now we have a girl named Lily who spots what appears to be a lonely older gentlemen living on a desolate stretch of the moon.

Lily wants to make contact with him, at least to wave a hello, but how?  She also wants to send him a Christmas gift, but again, how?

Spoiler: Things get figured out very nicely, thank you.

Here's the video:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Toledo, Ohio Mysteriously Intact After A Mayoral Defeat, But Dumbledore Will Bring Us Wrath Of God

Opal Covey says God is about to destroy Toledo,
Ohio because she lost the mayoral election there.  
In this Sunday morning's news, I'm pleased to report that the fair city of Toledo, Ohio remains standing and functioning just fine despite what seemed would be an inevitable destruction by an angry God.

The bad news is God is about to smite the entire United States because Dumbledore from "Harry Potter" is gay.

We learned these two bits of news from incredibly reliable sources. Toledo's imminent destruction is foretold by one Opal Covey, a defeated mayoral candidate in Toledo.

Covey came in dead last among five candidates for mayor of Toledo this past Tuesday. She said she really won, but all the votes were stolen from her through massive fraud.

She knows this, she says, because she talks directly to God and he told her. God is apparently so pissed that he's going to destroy Toledo. (God and Covey have been having long conversations about this while both are speaking in tongues, apparently.) And Covey is so miffed that she will stand by and just let him do this.

It's now five days after Toledo's mayoral election. and the Ohio city does seem to be doing just fine so far. I checked the web page for the city's newspaper, The Toledo Blade, Sunday morning and the main headline on the homepage was "Popularity of App-based Rid Sharing Services Surges."

Unless the ride sharing is to get out of town before God's wrath,  I don't see signs of a Toledo apocalypse in the local media.
Pastor Kevin Swanson tells us God will smite
America because this guy, Dumbledore, is gay. 

But we shouldn't relax. As I noted Dumbledore is gay!

And God is going to wipe the United States off the face of the Earth because of it. Yes, yes, I know Dumbledore is a fictional character created by a British author, but you can't be too careful about trying not to annoy God!

We learned about God and Dumbledore just NOT getting along from Kevin Swanson, a decidedly anti-gay pastor who put on something called the National Religious Liberties Conference over the past few days.

We should trust Swanson, because intelligensia such as Presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal attended the conference in which Dumbledore was brought up.

OK, not everyone agrees Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal are all that smart, but you get the picture. Side note: I wonder if these three candidates agree with Swanson about Dumbledore. Please, ask, national media!

Even if we escape the wrath of God over Dumbledore there are other major risks, Swanson tells us. The animated films "How To Train Your Dragon" and the super popular Disney production "Frozen" are satanic and will also earn us the wrath of God.

Swanson is best known as calling for the execution of all gay people (including me!) However, he tells us that we could still be saved if we repent.

Kevin Swanson pictured here, says he'd cover himself
in cow manure if he learned his son is gay.
I SO hope is son is gay.  
I'm not sure how to do that, though. I'm thoroughly sick and tired of the song "Let It Go" from "Frozen," is that enough repenting?

Although I like the Harry Potter series and Dumbledore, I'm not a rabid fan. Is that good enough? I'll have to ask Swanson about this.

Swanson has one idea. He did say that if his son turned out to be gay and married another guy, he'd cover himself in cow manure. He really did say this.

I'm not sure if that's the right way to go with repentence.

 I'm not a big fan of cow manure. Eventually, it decomposes and would be a nice compost for my garden, but I'm not ready to use it as an ingredient for repentence.

So I'll just take my chances and skip the repentence.  Just to be safe, though, I'll stay out of Toledo for the next few days.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Take The Doggies Kayaking

David Bahnson, along with dogs Susie and Ginger, enjoy
 a kayak outing this past summer. Photo by Linda Bahnson.  n
Hats off to fellow Vermonter David Bahnson, wbo found a way to let his two dogs, Susie and Ginger, enjoy his kayaking adventures.

According to The Dodo, a web site dedicated to pets and animals, Bahnson 67, of Rutland, custom designed his kayak so that the two dogs can get out on the lake with him.

Says The Dodo:

"It never takes much convincing for those furry first mates to settle into their seats when it's time to get going in the kayak. In fact, though Bahnson rarely paddles out too far from land, the dogs seem to understand how to keep safe on their journeys.

'They are trained to get in the kayak themselves on command. They sit down, and off we go. When we come ashore, they'll stay seated until I tell them it's OK to get out. They never hopped out into the water, actually,'" he said."

Bahnson and his dogs have gotten a huge amount of media attention lately for his great invention. He made it for himself and his dogs, but he should market this idea. I bet a lot of other people would like to kayak with their dogs comfortably.

Good for these well-behaved dogs! And huge kudos to Bahnson for including his dogs in his recreation and adventure.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Beagles Watch The Seasons Change, Adorably

Maymo and Penny check out the changing foliage
before playing in the fallen leaves.  
It's Friday, I don't feel like getting into any kind of heavy analysis, so let's just watch this nice video with beagles Maymo and Penny.

The photographer cleverly positioned them in the same spots as foliage season progresses, so you see Maymo and Penny literally watch the colors change.

Then the leaves fall, and the two dogs have a wonderful time playing in the leaf piles.

Maybe we should all just skip work today and play in leaf piles, too!

By the way, Maymo has quite a YouTube channel with many videos of other beagle derring do, too

Here ya go with the autumn one:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why I Think I'll Shop At REI. Black Friday Related, But Not What You Think

I'm giving huge cheers to REI a sporting goods and outdoor equipment company with a wide reach.

Here's why. According to The Atlantic and many other media outlets, REI announced that on the infamous shopping day Black Friday it would close all 143 stores, its headquarters and even its website.

As for REI's 12,000 employees? Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, will be a paid holiday. These employees also have their marching orders from REI's CEO for Black Friday: "Go outside and do something."

REI's gambit is good or employees, who won't have to work on Thanksgiving like many of their counterparts in the retail world.

Nordstrom and Costco, for instance won't open on Thanksgiving Day, bucking an obnoxious trend among retailers in recent years.

Maybe we are finally starting to get rid of Black Friday stupidity. According to the Atlantic:

"More generally in the economy, though, Black Friday fatigue has been on the rise. Last year, there was a wave of petitions and social media campaigns calling for both retailers and consumers to boycott Black Friday.

While it's still one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the U.S., a report from the National Retail Federation found that only 55 percent of holiday shoppers spent money on Thanksgiving weekend last year, and that 42 percent of their spending was online.

REI's announcement reflects more than just how tired its customers are of Black Friday; it reflects how tired many Americans are as well."

As I've whined about before, I've always hated the Black Friday spectacle of people waiting in long lines in bitterly cold predawn mall parking lots so they can bust the doors in of the local StupidMart to buy their Door Buster TV.

There's even a web site dedicated to the carnage called Black Friday Death Count, which tracks the seven deaths and 98 injuries associated with Black Friday chaos since 2006.

So hats off to REI. I think I'll do the same thing their CEO suggests: Go outside and do something on Black Friday. Then maybe, I'll check out their web site the  next week and see if I can reward them for their efforts with a little holiday shopping.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ukranian Jugglers Not Exactly Nerdy Throwbacks But Very Cool

Really cool juggling by Raw Art  
Somehow, my mind adheres to the stereotype of jugglers as being a bit nerdy, a bit of a throwback, a bit of a side show novelty.

That's not true of course, and the proof is in the Kiev, Ukraine juggling trio known as Raw Art perform to the 2010 electronica hit "Drugs" by Ratatat.

Hat tip to Tastefully Offensive for noting this one.

Raw Art is really, really cool and definitely not out of fashion


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sir David Attenborough Improves Adele's Already Great Video

Sir David Attenborough narrates the latest Adele video
to great effect.  
Last month, I posted a brief item telling you how happy I am Adele has released new music and a new music video.

Now, I'm even happier to report Sir David Attenborough, the widely regarded British naturalist and narrator, has improved on at least the opening of Adele's video by narrating the action.

This happened on BBC Radio 1

It's wonderful and laugh out loud funny.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Grumpy Man Steals Hockey Puck From Kid, But Kid Is OK

A jerk snatched away a puck tossed to this kid
at a recent NHL Pittsburgh Penguins game, but the
Penguins organzation saw what happened
and made it right, as shown here.  
At a recent NHL match between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, the Buffalo coach, Dan Bylsma, decided to be nice and throw an official puck into the stands for a little boy to have.

Balsam used to be Pittsburgh's coach, so what the hell.

As the tossed puck approached the kid, a terrible middle aged or older man frantically reaches out, grabs the puck out of the air as it approached the kid, and triumphantly put it in his pocket.

The puck was clearly intended for the kid, so the guy is selfish ass, maybe winning the Jerk of the Year prize for bad fans in professional sports stadiums.

The snarky sports Web site Deadspin accurately fills us in on the ground rules concerning pucks tossed into stands at NHL games:

"---If you're over the age of 14, the puck is never thrown to you (with the occasional exception if you are an attractive woman.
----If you are over the age of 14 and happen to catch a puck, you are obligated to look around you and give it to a little kid in the vicinity.......
----If you catch a puck tossed over the glass while staring a little kid dead in the face, and then stick it in your back pocket s you sit down in your seat, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you are a bad, bad man."

Luckily, the Pittsburgh Penguins people saw what happened and made the kid happy after all, so that's good.

Big slap across the face of the jerky adult, though.

Watch the news clip:

Yikes! Watch Dog Escape Death By Inches

A car is about to smash into this Brazilian bakery.
A dog escapes by INCHES! 
A car recently slammed into a Brazilian bakery.

Surveillance cameras show a dog at the doorway narrowly escaping death, probably because it smelled something good inside.

The video below shows two angles. Watch at about 42 seconds in to see how close that dog came to going to doggie heaven.

Reports are the dog and the people inside the bakery are fine. No word on the fate of the people in the car

Here's the video, via LiveLeak:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Giant Horror Pumpkin Attacks Arizona Town!

When pumpkins attack. The scene in
Peoria, Arizona last week. 
Halloween is over, but we're still picking up the pieces.

Like they sort of are in one town in Arizon.

Here's the story: On a recent windy day in Peoria, Arizona, a Halloween horror struck:

Watch this giant inflatable pumpkin ATTACK!

The giant 25 foot tall pumpkin damaged some traffic signals, but didn't injure anyone, says The pumpkin was eventually corraled in a neighborhood park.

This kind of reminds me of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scene from "Ghostbusters."