Friday, July 31, 2015

Lion Killer Is No He-Man, And Everybody Knows That Now: 8/1/15 Update To This Story

Virile he-man (yeah, right!) Walter Palmer
with a leopard he killed a while back.
He's now being pilloried for killing Cecil the lion. 
UPDATE: Reports that Cecile the Lion's brother being shot turn out to be (probably, hopefully) untrue. 

Unconfirmed reports are spreading this Saturday afternoon that poachers have also killed a lion named Jericho, who was Cecil's brother.

Fortunately, at least I hope, a newer update from Reuters indicates Jericho is still alive and OK,

Reuters is reporting that the reports of Jericho's demise were false and premature. Let's hope that the Reuters reporters are spot on accurate. 

Jericho was or is looking after the cubs left by Cecil, so if he had died, the cubs would be in great peril.

Other groups of lions might kill them, or poachers might get them if Jericho had died.

Early reports of Jericho getting killed by poachers set off another firestorm on social media

I'm guessing potential killers of Jericho came partly and unwittingly as a result of all the publicity surrounding Cecil's death. The poachers, who'll apparently do anything for money, figured they could
find Jericho easily enough and there you go.

Again, I hope Reuters is right in that the wildlife group monitoring Jericho says his GPS indicates he's moving around normally and hanging out with a female. Good for him!

I've heard some complaints from my previous posts that shooting lions and tigers and such in Zimbabwe and other such places is good for their economies and to lift locals out of poverty.

I haven't found convincing evidence that the monetary gains are actually real, but here's the much larger point:

Must EVERYTHING in this world be some sort of financial transactions? Can't we just leave some things alone and find other ways to make money other than violence, corruption, and destruction?

This whole thing with the lions is getting sicker and sicker, and making me more and more heartsick

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:

My guess is Walter Palmer, the creepy Minnesota dentist who went to Zimbabwe to kill Cecil the Lion, has got a microscopic dick, can't get it up and is absolutely horrible in bed.

I don't now this for a fact, of course but I can't come up with any other explanation as to why this loser would kill a lion.

Maybe he's overcompensating?

That's not an original thought, of course. Everybody has been saying this about Palmer all week, and he's basically now Public Enemy #1.

Palmer has been getting more press than Donald Trump, and, as Jimmy Kimmel put it, he has become the most hated man in America who has never advertised Jello pudding on television. 

So much for the idea of parents saying their daughter should marry a nice dentist. Obviously, not all of them are so nice.

Oh, I know. He says he didn't realize the lion was Cecil, thE guides he hired lured Cecile out o a national park without his knowledge, yada yada yada.

He's sort of apologized, basically for not knowing it was Cecil he killed, but why would he kill ANY lion?

It's not for food. Target practice? Couldn't he just shoot cans off a log in the woods?

I guess the reason Palmer shot the lion is he because he just likes killing things. He's a serial killer, but he knows that serial killers of people have a high chance of being caught and going to jail. Plus he probably doesn't want to kill people. Some are probably his friends.

So, he did what he thought was socially acceptable. Killing animals for fun. Now he's finding out it's not all that socially respectable.

Palmer's  "apology" to his patients over the disruption is rich.

"I want you to to know the situation and my involvement. In addition to spending time with my family one of my passions outside of dentistry is hunting. I've been a life long hunter since I was a child growing up in North Dakota."

That's what you call this? Hunting?  Luring a lion out of a protected national park in Zimbabwe with the help of corrupt guides, and then subjecting the lion to a painful death. Shot with a bow and arrow, then left to suffer until being shot later.

Palmer goes on: "I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

Notice he says "this lion." In other words, there's the proof right there that he thinks there's nothing wrong with killing something like a lion to, I don't know, prove he's a big virile man who is so tough he can kill a lion for no reason other than to inflate his ego.

And not so fast, buddy with that "responsibly and legally" line.  He might have violated the Lacey Act, which makes it a federal crime to trade in wildlife killed in violation of foreign law, the Huffington Post notes.

From the Huffington Post: 

"'The U.S Fish and Wildlife is investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of 'Cecil the lion.' That investigation will take us wherever the facts lead,' said Edward Grace, the agency's deputy chief of enforcement, in a statement.

'At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Dr. Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Dr. Palmer or his representative contact us immediately," Grace added."

Too wimpy to face the (potential) music from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Palmer? Gee, you were so "brave" hunting lions, what happened?

True there have been a large number of death threats against Palmer, which is stupid. Anytime someone does something stupid or mean they get death threats from the multitudes of trolls lurking out there. I'm not sure how that helps, but trolls tend to be as unhelpful as Palmer himself.

People are so mad at him that it's forced the shutdown of his dental practice, hence the apology to his patients.

Palmer is obviously horrible to lions and other wildlife. But he's also possibly pretty lousy with people, too.

Raw Story reports that Palmer settled a sexual harassment claim against him in 2009 for $127,500.

A receptionist who worked for Palmer over five and a half years ending in 2005 said she was subject to Palmer's comments about her breasts, buttocks and genitalia.

The report said the receptionist asked that the behavior stop, but it didn't She alleges she was fired for reporting the harassment, Raw Story says. 

At least Palmer didn't then go on a safari to shoot and kill the woman's cat if she had one.

If there's any good that has come out of Palmer's atrocious behavior in Zimbabwe and probably elsewhere, at least there's more awareness that this kind of "hunting" goes on and must stop.

The Internet is beginning to move on to other topics, now. Though I'm sure there will be more news when and if Palmer surfaces.

I just hope he doesn't make any money selling the rights to his story.  He doesn't deserve any kind of reward.

A lot of people have also noted there's plenty of outrage over Cecil's death, but not about other likely more pressing matters. (Black Lives Matter, anyone?)

However, I think it's possible and a good thing to get riled up over Palmer's atrociousness, while also caring about other issues, ones involving human lives, too.

Maybe there will be a payoff of sorts to the kind of wildlife Palmer thinks are his playthings to kill. There certainly is more interest in the issue, at least for now.

Jimmy Kimmel's monologue the other night about the killing of Cecil the Lion, which is a must-watch, by the way, resulted in more than $150,000 in donations in fewer than 24 hours to Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, or WildCRU.

WildCRU had been monitoring Cecile via GPS before his death, and Kimmel flashed the organization's Web site on screen during his monologue.

Jane Goodall, that reverential hero of African wildlife, is of course crushed by what happened to Cecil, but sees hope nonetheless:

"Only one good thing comes out of this - thousands of people have read the story and have also been shocked. Their eyes opened to the dark side of human nature. Surely they will now be more prepared to fight for the protection of wild animals and the wild places where they live. Therin lies the hope."


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Fantasy ESPN-Type Show For Teachers Will Have You Cheering

Imagine watching news like this about
teachers instead of sports figures.  
If you've ever tuned into ESPN, the sports network, you might have seen the overblown news shows they have on multi-zillion dollar contract deals for athletes, spectacular plays on the field or the basketball court and that kind of thing.

It's all done with the yelling and screaming of the too-excited anchors.

Now picture the same thing, except the focus is on teachers, not professional sports.

The comedy dual Key and Peele have come up with the teacher scenario, and the result is hilarious, and has gone viral.  I bet teachers are playing this one over and over again.

Stick around in the video and watch the BMW ad toward the end of it. Precious:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Complaints About YouTube? Watch This Video

The woman on the left handles YouTube complaints
 deftly in the latest YouTube complaint desk video Add caption
 I know, I know, those of us who watch a lot of YouTube videos get frustrated at the ads we have to sit through, the misleading headlines, the promises of an exciting videos that don't pan out, all that stuff.

So, once again, we have an update video that walks us through all these complaints. It features a woman at a fictitious help desk at YouTube.

This follows up with previous, very similar YouTube complaint desk videos from 2014 and another great one from 2013. 

It's hilarious. See for yourself:


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

No, That Movie Is Not "A Comedic Masterstroke"

No, reviewer AA Dowd did NOT say this
movie was "a comedic masterstroke."  
I've got new evidence that those blurbs you see from critics in movie advertisements aren't what they seem.

Yeah, they always say the movie was terrific, an Oscar contender, boffo, all that.

You can never believe those blurbs, can you?

So it was that the cover on a Canadian-produced DVD of a movie called "Nailed" quoted movie reviewer A.A. Dowd as calling it "a comedic masterstroke."

Consumerist says "Nailed" was a widely ignored movie that was released in the United States after many people abandoned working on the film in frustration. Its American title was  "Accidental Love."

Here is the full quote from Dowd's review of "Nailed" that didn't appear on the DVD cover, according to Consumerist:

"To be fair to whoever refashioned "Accidental Love" from the abandoned scraps of "Nailed," there's little reason to believe that the ideal, untroubled version of the material would have been a comedic masterstroke."

Yeah, Dowd really didn't like the movie. So much for a comedic masterstroke.

Dowd wrote an open letter to Mongrel Media which put out the DVD with the false blurb, calling them out on it.  He wrote:

"Framing me as a big fan of Nailed isn't just a lie, it's an attack on my critical reputation. What if someone reads that and really thinks I see a "comedic masterwork" in "Nailed."? They'll never trust me on a comedy again."

 Dowd asked for an apology, and got said apology from Mongrel Media. Future copies of this pretty bad movie won't have Dowd's out of context blurb about it.

So here's my review: A masterful performance by Dowd! And that's not even taken out of context!



Monday, July 27, 2015

This Sheriff WILL Get His Suspect

Sheriff Lt. Clay Higgins on the trail of
the guy who burglarized Stelly's Supermarket  
Somebody burglarized Stelly's Supermarket and Restaurant in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana and Sheriff Lt. Clay Higgins is on the case.

We've got the proof in this awesome Crimestoppers video he stars in.

The first part of it is just the usual, here's what happened, here's what the suspect looks like, but then Higgins takes a glorious turn.

We learn what a great place Stelly's is, what great food it has, and what lousy food the suspect will have in his small jail cell once he's arrested.

Higgins hints that he already knows who the suspect is, given the great boot print on the door that was kicked in and some possible DNA evidence.

He also noted that the $1,000 reward for the capture of this goon is tempting for a lot of people. He tells the suspect in the video: "People who know you really don't like you anyway, so when it comes down to a choice between you and $1,000, they'll take the cash."

Watch this awesome video, filmed in the Stelly's parking lot:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Family Has Too Many Cars Parked In Driveway, Stupid Regulators Say

The four cars parked in this Kennesaw, Georgia
driveway is apparently a terrible crime.
County zoning enforcers told the people who
live here they need to pay for permits
to park more than two cars in their own driveway  
Readers of this blog know I'm continually fascinated by how some zoning enforcers or homeowner association fascists love to micromanage how people manage their property.

At the garden supply company where I work, a woman recently wanted to buy a purple hose but had to settle on a dark green one because her homeowners' association said purple hoses are just too gauche.

Then today, I saw this one: A family in Kennesaw, Georgia was informed by the county they faced fines because there's too many cars in their driveway: Four of 'em.

These aren't broken down cars on blocks, rusting in the hot Georgia sun. I'd object, too, if that were happening.  I can also see needing to obtain permits for parking on public streets, but this is the family's own home, and they point out they already pay property taxes.

These cars are in good running condition and look fine because they belong to the couple that live there, their kids who are home from college, and visiting relatives.

The driveway is also plenty big enough to accommodate the cars, so nobody is parking on grass and ruining lawns.

But for reasons unclear, you have to get a permit to have more than two cars in your driveway, says WSB-TV in Atlanta. 

"I am angry. I am beyond angry. I don't see how the government can tell me whose cars I can park in my own driveway," said Kim Oviedo, who owns the house with the dreaded four cars.

When WSB-TV and other media attention hit about this, the county government, likely embarrassed, will let the family keep four cars in the driveway this summer. But if it happens again next summer, they said, watch out!

Because of all the things bad that can go on in a neighborhood, four cars in one driveway is apparently the WORST!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

80s Classic Song "Tainted Love" Channels Twitter

"Tweeted Love" updates this Soft Cell classic
I'm a big fan of bad puns.

I love the Soft Cell classic song "Tainted Love"

And I'm addicted to Twitter.

Which made me LOVE this video of all kinds of Twitter handles, set to the song "Tainted Love."

As many of you know, "Tainted Love" is a very electronic sounding tune, full of beeps and whirrs and rumbles.

So you'll love the repeated Merp Merp in this version, called "Tweeted Love" But the whole thing is awesome. And uses peoples' Twitter handles to really punny effects.

Give it a watch and you'll never think of "Tainted Love" the same way again:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Some Idiot Is Shaving Cats In British Columbia

Jo Jo Yarjau holds her cat, which
was victimized by a weird
person in town who shaves square
patches out of cats like this one. 
People in Campbell River, British Columbia are worried about their cats.

For good reason. Some weirdo in the town is shaving small patches of fur from cats.

At least two people in Campbell River have said their cats have come home with small square patches of fur shaved from them.

This weirdness was first reported by the Campbell River Mirror newspaper and since picked up by media outlets across North America.

Two residents of the town Jo Jo Yarjau and Vance Assu, who lives around the corner from Yarjau, reported the savings.

Yarjau says her cat isn't particularly affectionate, so somebody had to lure the cat with food, then hold it down firmly during the precise shavings.

Yarjau and Assu said their cats are somewhat traumatized. They can tell because they are more jittery than they used to be.

The could keep their cats indoors so the sicko shaving the cats can't get at them, but they've been long time outdoor cats, and it's hard to keep them inside.

By the way, veterinarians state the obvious: You shouldn't shave a cat. You might injure it, and they need the fur. And the scary experience is obviously not good for them.

My guess is somebody around Campbell River has a strange fetish about cats. If you have a strange fetish, fine, unless it hurts somebody else, or some other being.

So, my message to the weird cat shaver in Campbell River: Get thyself in for counseling, STAT!

Or maybe somebody should shave weird squares into the cat fetish person's hair, to teach him or her a lesson?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Selectman In Trouble For Re-Painting Town Sidewalks

George Simolaris' so-so crosswalk paintjob
in Billerica, Mass.  
I'm sure mayors, city councilors, selectmen and other community leaders are sick of hearing it:

You know, the daily drone of constituents saying, "When are you going to fix the pothole, the parking problem, the boarded up building etc. etc.

In Billerica, Massachusetts, Selectman George Simolaris heard over and over again from residents complaining about faded crosswalks.

Nothing was done for months and months.

Finally, Simolaris heard enough: He got cans of paint, and repainted six crosswalks himself, says Reuters. 

A hero? Well, maybe, maybe not.

Police ended up charging Simolaris with two counts of destruction of property. Apparently, repainting crosswalks without authorization is illegal.

Billerica Town Manager John Curren said the crosswalks weren't repainted because the town is about to embark on a street improvement project that would involve digging up some of the crosswalks, then repaving.

The town figured it would wait until after the construction to repaint. Makes sense.

Also, Simolaris did kind of a lousy paint job. Passing cars smeared the paint, and he's on the hook for $4,000 worth of cleanup, Reuters reported. 

Still, Simolaris defends himself. "I'm just trying to do right by the people in my town...I didn't think I was intervening in other people's activities or doing anything wrong."

Well, at least it's easy to find the crosswalks if you ever find yourself walking around the lovely streets of Billerica.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Neo-Nazis Get The Music They Deserve

South Carolina Police Officer Leroy Smith, who is blakc
helps a white supremicist who was overcome
by the summer heat during the stupid racists'
pro-Confederate flag march in South Carolina
last week. Photo by Rob Godfrey/AP  
The National Socialist Party, a bunch of stupid neo-Nazis that hate Jews in particular but pretty much anyone who isn't white, had a big march in South Carolina last weekend in support of the Confederate flag.

It didn't go well.

At least for the National Socialist Party anyway. Counterprotests seemed to have a grand old time.

The group really looked as dumb as they were, and a bunch of people were on hand to give these wackos the derision they deserve.

The National Socialist Party's message was undercut in several ways, including via a viral photo by Rob Godfrey of the AP of a black cop helping one of these nutjobs who had been overcome by the intense summer heat in South Carolina.

The best part of the march came from a guy named Matt Buck, who decided the National Socialist Party pro-Confederate flag march could be improved upon by some musical accompanyment.

So be brought his sousaphone (kind of like a tuba) to the party and, in the viral video you'll see below, really managed to make the march worth attending.

Like many in the crowd of onlookers, and the nation as a whole, Buck is totally unimpressed with the National Socialist Party, and wanted to send them a message.

"I didn't really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it," Buck said, according to the Charleston City Paper. 

It seems like Buck put some thought into his musical selection. He started with the song Stewie from "Family Guy" plays when he's hired to follow overweight people around with a tuba.

Then Buck switched over to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."  He told the Charleston City Paper he did so because it reminded him of the Nazi car chase scene from "The Blues Brothers."

So thank you, Matt Buck, for wise song choices for last weekend's event!

Here's the video.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Harsh: Toll Collector Fired For Undercharging Driver And Paying Difference From Own Pocket

Sam Samsonov became an Internet sensation
this week aftere being fired for using $5.50 of his
own money to fix a mistake he made in the toll booth
where he worked.  
It sounds like the people who run the toll booths at the Gasparilla Island Bridge in Florida really wanted to get rid of one of their toll collectors, Vladislaw "Sam" Samsonov.

Samsonov, 77, worked in the toll booth for 30 years and people really liked him. He'd hand out dog treats to cars with dogs in them, and sometimes lollipops to children.

He was fired a few days ago, though.

Why?  He accidentally forgot to charge $5.50 for a trailer being towed behind a vehicle.

OK, so he shorted the toll booth company $5.50?

Not exactly. To fix the mistake, he just took $5.50 out of his own pocket and put it in the register to make up for the shortfall. He figured he made the error, so he'd make up the difference.

That, apparently, is against the rules, says the Huffington Post.

I guess Samsonov has got a record of "breaking the rules." He has occasionally ponied up a little money when motorists have driven up to the toll booth and realized they didn't have enough money with them to pay the toll.

According to the local NBC affiliate, he knew it was against the rules to pay the tolls, but he'd never been written up for the "transgression." I don't know why it's against the rules, because his former employer, the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, still gets all the money that's due.

However, the local paper, the Boca Beacon, interviewed his bosses, who said that under auditing rules, putting your own money into the till is considered fraudulent. Instead, he shouldn't have noted his mistake as an explanation as to why the books that day were off by $5.50.

The bosses said everyone makes mistakes, that's OK, but putting your own money in the till is NOT OK.

I don't know accounting, so I still don't know why this is "fraud."

In an age when it seems like big banks get away with murder through accounting tricks, it seems a little odd that taking ownership of and fixing a $5.50 mistake is fraudulent.

As punishment, the Authority offered Samson work two days a week instead of five, but Samsonov didn't go for it. "If I can't be trusted for five days, how can I be trusted for two days,?" he asked.

Of course, this information comes from Samsonov's daughter's Facebook page. The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority says it doesn't talk about personnel matters, so maybe there's more to the firing than this.

Still, people in the area love the guy. This is the first time I'm aware of that people actually like a toll collector and are trying to reinstate him.

The Boca Beacon, ran an editorial praising him:

"You represent part of what so many llike about Boca Grande - a person can be gone for years, but once they cross that bridge they're back in the land of familiar faces. It's people like you that we took for granted would always be there in the booth on weekday mornings."

Although the Internet is riled up about what happened to Samsonov, don't worry about him. His wife said he was working too hard anyway. He's got a nice military pension to live on, he says, so money isn't going to be a worry.

He says, though, it's nice to know his community has got his back.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Would Have Named This Horse "Echo"

Add caption
Meet DaVinci, pictured here. His nickname is Vinnie.  

He's got the coolest markings. The white pattern on him echoes his profile. So cool!

No, the markings are not painted on. It actually looks like this.

His owner says Vinnie is "so friendly and the kids love him."


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dogs Can't Figure Out This Music, Either

These dogs try like hell to comprehend
the odd music they hear. Give up, puppies, it's just odd.  
Saturday cuteness:

Malamute pups tilt their heads to try to comprehend the music they're hearing in this video uploaded two years ago, but just now going viral.

Dogs tilt their heads when trying to understand something they hear that's unfamiliar.

The theory is, it helps sound waves get into one ear or the other, and maybe that will help them make sense of what they're hearing.

In this video, it's to no avail. The music in the background is strange and annoying, so I found myself tilting my head, too:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Some Weirdo Is Hanging Dildos From Utility Wires In Portland, Oregon

Dildos are now hanging from electrical wires
in Portland, Oregon.  n
The trend of getting pairs of sneakers caught up in telephone wires seems to be passe, but now we've got a new one.

Someone, or a bunch of people, are hanging dildos from the wires along the streets of Portland, Oregon.

The unofficial motto of that city is "Keep Portland Weird," so there you go.

So far, nobody has claimed credit for the "artwork" so if a message is trying to be sent, we're not sure what it is. Neither are art experts in Portland.

"If these adult sex toys are being hung on power lines in order to make a statement it hasn't been very effective...It's not very effective if you don't claim it," said Victoria Frey, the executive director of the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art.

Some people thought the dildos might help guide participates in the World Naked Bike Ride along their route, but that doesn't make sense, either.

World Naked Bike Ride, designed to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer body-positive world" and to promote bicycling and to protest against excessive use of fossil fuels, is held in dozens of cities, and dildos don't seem to be philisophically part of the event.

Some people think the dildos on the wires are funny, other's don't. I can see parents' concern about having to answer their kid when they ask, "What are those things hanging from the telephone wires," but then I doubt the answer will scar the kids for life, either.

They're probably not safe, as I imagine anything hanging from an electrical wire could present a hazard.

A traffic hazard, too. Some out of town driver in Portland comes in, looks up and stares at the dildos and says, "What the hell are those," then WHAM! he rear ends the car in front of him.

Oh, I'm so tempted to say something off color here. Dildos? Rear ending what's in front of you?

Yikes!

I hope this dildo trend doesn't spread to other cities, like mine, but I'm sure it will anyway.

There's always some, ahem, dick who likes to spoil the view.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Let's Land A Plane On A Busy New Jersey Highway

Plane lands on Route 72 in New Jersey Sunday.  
A traffic cam captured quite a moment Sunday on Route 72 in Stafford Township, New Jersey when a single engine plane landed there amid traffic after losing power.

The plane had lost power and had to make an emergency landing somewhere, so he picked the highway and the grassy median of Route 72.

The pilot managed to just barely miss traffic,  but as you can see from the video below, a few motorists probably got quite a scare.  He was also somehow able to miss power lines.

There were five people on board the Skydive East Diving School plane. The sky dive instructor suffered a cut on  his arm, and that was the only injury either on the plane or on the ground, so that's damn lucky.

Here's the traffic cam video:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Film Flop "Newsies" Channeled "Uptown Funk" 20 Years Before Bruno Mars Released It

The 1992 musical "Newsies" channeled the
2014 song "Uptown Funk" 
The way, way overplayed but still very fun song "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson came out in 2014. It was and is a HUGE hit and continues to inspire parodies, tributes and videos.

The film "Newsies" came out in 1992. A Disney box office flop, it was about newsboys going on strike in 1899.

However, somebody matched a dance scene from Newsies and a segment of Uptown Funk.

It seems Newsies anticipated Uptown Funk, even when Bruno Mars was only seven years old when the movie came out.

Watch the video and see for yourself.

 

Update: Awesome Homeless Piano Player In Rehab, Reconnects With Son

Before and after picture of Donald Gould
subject of a viral video of him playing a
piano in Sarasota, Florida.  
Remember that awesome homeless piano player I talked about a little while back, the one that became the subject of a viral video?

Well, as expected,  life continues to improve for that piano player, named Donald Gould. Some of the GoFundMe money that went to him paid for him to go into rehab to deal with his substance abuse problems.

He got a makeover.  Gould said of his new look, "No more caveman."

Even better, he reconnected with his long lost son, says television station WFLA.

Father and son talked via FaceTime, set up by WFLA and a sister television station in Michigan, where the son lives.

He lost custody of the son when the kid was three years old, due to his long running substance abuse.

Gould said he hopes this turn of luck his just the ticket to help him restore his self respect and keep clean and sober.

Let's hope things continue to improve for Donald Gould.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Hot Dog Cools Down Owner

On these hot summer days, sometimes people turn on the hoses on their (hot) dogs to cool the panting pooches down.

Here's how one dog turned the tables. Very funny!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Officer In Trouble For NOT Summarily Executing Two Bear Cubs

A conservation officer in Canada was
 suspended from his job for not
killing these two bear cubs.  
A female bear kept getting into the freezer of a remote camp in British Columbia recently.

When bears become a problem like that, they sometimes have to be put down, and that, sadly was the case with this bear.

Even worse, this bear had two cubs. Conservation officer Bryce Casavant was ordered by his supervisors to kill the bear cubs, too.

He refused and took them to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association near Vancouver, British Columbia.

For Casavant was suspended for his job without pay, says the Canadian broadcaster CBC. 

The situation, first reported in the North Island Gazette in British Columbia, set off a HUGE erupton on social media, especially in Canada erupted at the news of the conservation officer's suspension.

Nothing like an order to kill two cute little black bear cubs to get people riled up.

It's true if bear cubs are conditioned to cause trouble, they, too have to be put down, say wildlife experts. But the CBC quoted the recovery center's manager as saying he is perplexed by the order to kill the cubs.

"(The mother bear) was a problem, but these cubs did nothing," said the manager, Robin Campbell.

Campbell said the cubs were not habituated to humans and could be successful re-introduced to the wild. Casavant, the conservation officer, did the right thing by bringing the cubs to the wildlive recovery center, Campbell said.

"In 30 years, this is the first time we've ever had an issue like this," Campbell said, as quoted by the CBC. "There has to be some kind of misunderstanding... hopefully somebody will come to their senses." 

It's unclear if that will happen. Certainly the shoot to kill the cubs order sounds sadistic, but we haven't heard yet from the guy who ordered the deaths. British Columbian environmental authorities haven't decided what to do about the cubs yet.

Casavant is still suspended from his job, but now it's with pay, because of the public outcry over this.

Even if more information comes out and it turns out the cubs were misbehaving and habituated to humans, why the rush to kill them? And why the rush to suspend Casavant? As one commenter pointed out on the North Island Gazette Facebook page, let's let animals be innocent until proven guilty, too.

Others point out that Casavant's job title is Conservation Officer, so let him conserve, in this case the life of these bears, if at all possible.

Still others took a big picture look at this and said it is humans invading the habitat of bears, and not bears invading the habitat of humans that's the real problem here.

Of course, when you look at the big picture, that's when things really get sticky. Us humans are ruining the habitat of countless species, and we're spawning a great wildlife extinction.

The simple solution to the bear cubs in British Columbia is to reinstate Casavant, release the cubs to the wild if possible and move on.

As far as the big picture goes, I don't think anybody has a good solution to us humans and our environmentally dangerous ways. We're all guilty, this writer included.

It's fine and absolutely correct to be upset over the callousness some people had toward these bear cubs. But this makes me wonder how many innocent wild animals I might have unwittingly harmed.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Nightmare Week For Cell Phone Abusers

Nick Silvestri in a selfie taken on the cell
phone he later tried to charge on a Broadway stage.
Oh, and nice duckface on the girl right below
Silvestri. So proud.  
Obnoxious cell phone people have been in the news all week.  People are finally getting FED UP with people who can't part with their cell phones. Or maybe we've been fed up for awhile.

One of the incidents that really showed that some people are over the top with their cell phones.

We had the moron who, just before the Broadway comedy "Hand To God" started, jumped on stage and plugged his low battery iPhone6 into a fake wall outlet on the play's set on stage.

Playbill tracked the idiot down later.  He's Nick Silvestri, 19, of Long Island, New York.

He'd tried to plug his phone in at a restaurant earlier but the manager there yelled at him.

So, he had to try something else when he arrived at "Hand To God"

"I saw the outlet and ran for it," he told Playbill. "That was the only outlet I saw, so I thought, 'Why not? I was thinking that they were probably going to plug something in there on the set so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal if my phone was up there, too."

Uh, yeah. Just alter the set of a play, no worries. Just throw everybody off. And put a non sequitor on the stage just to make things goofy. Ugh.

Continues Playblll's interview with Mr. iPhone6:

"The reaction was immediate. Members of the audience shouted, and 'about five security guards came running down. So I hopped off the stage. They were pretty mad. They said, 'What were you thinking?" I said "Hey, buddy, what's the problem?"

Um, maybe the problem was you commandeered a Broadway stage for the sake of your stupid iPhone? I don't know.

Silvestri also seemed pretty pissed off that the security guy yelled at him in front of his family, and in front of the audience. Oh, the pain and sorrow! You poor thing!

Silvestri also thinks he should be thanked by the cast and crew of "Hand To God"

Really, why?

Asked what he'd say to the cast, Silvestri responded. "Hey, I'm sorry if I delayed your show five minutes. But got a lot of attention from this, so maybe I  made your show a little better known."

Yeah, we should all be grateful for self-centered Long Islanders who love their iPhones more than life itself, and think we should, too.

It seems as if people used to go to Broadway to you, know, see Broadway plays. Now, apparently, they go to Broadway to text. Like you can't do it anywhere else.

This week, Patti LuPone during her Broadway show, swiped a phone away from an audience member who'd spent most of the time there texting. Good for you, Patti!

The attachment to cell phones is of course world wide. I leave you with the emotion some people have when the phone malfunctions. This is on a Hong Kong subway car, in which a woman has a meltdown to say the least when her phone stops working.

Warning: Keep the sound down a little. If your neighbors hear you, they'll think you're torturing a cat, which is never a good thing:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Photography: Smoky, Hazy Sunset In St. Albans, Vermont Wednesday

Smoke from wildfires in Canada sent smoke and haze into northern Vermont yesteday. Not enough to choke you off, but enough to turn what would normally have been a bright, bluesky day into something a little murky.

I went up to the hill at the back of my house in St. Albans, Vermont to document the eerie, red, almost apocalyptic sunset. This post is in chronological order of the beauty I saw. Enjoy!





















No, Public Officials Who Hate Gay Marriage CAN'T Violate The Law

This Kentucky county clerk, (woman on right)
refuses to issue any marriage licenses because
she hates the idea of same sex marriage licenses.  
As a gay, married man, I was thrilled along with a lot of other people when the U.S. Supreme Court said same sex marriage was legal everywhere in the United States.

A number of other people were decidedly NOT so happy with this ruling, including a smattering of county clerks across the nation who are tasked with handing out marriage licenses, to straight couples, and now to gay couples.

The gay marriage ruling puts these clerks in a quandary. Do they violate their deeply held religious beliefs to hand out marriage licenses to Steve and Earl and to Becky and Cindy? Or do they refuse?

Frankly, I have a lot of respect for the few county clerks who have resigned their positions rather than violate their religious beliefs in issuing same sex marriage licenses.

Obviously, resigning from a job is incredibly disruptive, but if they choose to resign to live up to their  ideals, more power to them, even if I don't agree with their viewpoints on gay marriage. At least they are being honest and true to themselves, and that's a rare commodity these days.

What I don't like are the clerks who are trying to weasel out of issuing marriage licenses. When you become a public official, you are charged with upholding the laws. Even if it's a law you don't like.

If you don't like the law, you can work to change it, or you can resign from a job that forces you to obey a law you find disgraceful.

Some clerks have tried to get around this by not issuing marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight. Like the county clerk in Kentucky who was video'd doing just that. 

Some of these refusnik clerks are probably trying to become these fake evangelical Christian martyrs.

You know the type. They are brought up on say, charges of official misconduct for not issuing licenses, and then they go to the Christianist talking heads and activists groups, and they become a prop to this idea that Christians are being "persecuted" in the United States.

As if anyone is taking away their right to their religious beliefs.

But beliefs have consequences. Mine do, and people might not like me for supporting gay marriage, and being gay married. I have to live with that. You can't be loved by everyone.

Plus, I can't imagine ever getting a job at an evangelical church, not that I would want one there.

Evangelical Christians are doing just fine in this nation, despite what some of them will tell you. These Christianists will say that gays have an outsized influence on public discourse, and that might be true.

But these Christianists themselves have an outsized influence on public policy, given how many of them are in public office, or lobbying those in public office. Or are annoying media pundits. Right, Todd Starnes?

The conservative groups are still trying to find ways to break the law by weaseling all of it, as noted in SCOTUSblog. 

Gay marriage will not be the end of Evangelicals in this country. Far from it. So they can stop panicking and get back to praying, if they so wish.




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Some People's Summer Fun Is Wilder Than Yours

Watch what these young women do in a summer
fun edition of "People Are Awesome"  
It's July! Definitely time for summer fun.

For inspiration, the "People Are Awesome" Channel on YouTube has released a video of some people enjoying some summertime activities.

Most of these fall into the "Don't Try This At Home" category, but still, it all looks like a lot of fun, judging from the video.

It's great! Watch:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Michigan Cops, DA Wants To Ruin Black College Student's Life Just Because

DeJuawn Wallace being arrested in a February traffic
stop, from a police dash cam. He didn't pull
over immediately, but continued to drive
to a well-lit area, for safety. Cops
and a prosecutor object to this.  
UPDATE: 
As expected because of the negative publicity and the fact that even prosecuting the case made prosecutors a laughing stock, they dropped the charged Thursday agains DaJuawn Wallace.

His "crime," as you'll read below in the original post, was being cautious.

But as the Huffington Post points out, Prosecutor Christopher Boyd offered a plea deal for Wallace to plead guilty to a lesser charge, before the publicity over this stupidity blew up in Boyd's face, and he had to drop the charges.

However, Boyd and very many other prosecutors offer "plea deals" to people charged with crimes, even though many of these people might not have actually committed any crimes.

But, the defendents are often poor and don't have the resources to fight the bogus charges. Or, they've had previous run-ins with the law and realize nobody will believe they are innocent.

Prosecutors usually occupy elected positions. The prosecutors offer these bogus plea deals to innocent defendents because it gives them a higher conviction rate, making them more appealing next time they're up for re-election.

While there are some damn good, honest prosecutors out there, a large number of them, apparently, think their career and their bragging rights is worth ruining the lives of many innocent people by giving them bogus crime records.

One researcher estimates there might be as many as 20,000 people in jail serving time or crimes they did not commit. And some of those crimes actually happened, but were committed by someone else who is still out in the streets.

It's just easier for prosecutors to grab the low hanging fruit and win easy prosecutions against innocent people. Again, just to advance their careers.

Absolutely shameful.


PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

One dark early morning in February, DaJuawn Wallace, 24, was driving along a very poorly lit road in Kockville Township, Michigan.

Suddenly, the blue lights of a police car flashed in back of him.

Wallace knew that there had been incidents in the area in which people pretending to be cops, complete with blue lights pull people over and rob them or even worse.

Wallace said he signaled to the cop that he would keep driving - slowly - until he arrived at a safer, brightly lit area.

People are often advised to do this.  In and near Detroit, there have been recent cases of people impersonating police and stopping people to rob them.

A mile and half down the road, Wallace pulled into the glare of a brightly lit Sam's Club parking lot and stopped.

The cop decided to charge him with a felony count of fleeing and eluding police for not pulling over sooner, reports the Michigan news site MLive.com

This despite the explanation from Wallace. The DA "generously" offered a deal in which Wallace could plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a delayed sentence, meaning the charges would be dismissed if he completed a one-year probation.

But if he does that, he probably would lose his job and almost definitely his college financial aid.

Saginaw County Chief Prosecutor Christoher Boyd said when a police officer in a official police cruiser orders you to stop uou must. "You don't get a driver's license and get to pick what rules you are going to follow and what rules you are not going to follow," Boyd said, as reported at MLive.com.

Well, Wallace DID stop, once he got to a well-lit area, and he didn't try to speed off and outrun the cop. He just didn't know if he was about to be robbed or not. So I guess if you're a young black man in Michigan, you don't get the choice of trying not to be a victim of crime.

Nobody has come up with evidence so far that Wallace did anything other than seek a well lit, public place. The only reason why cops stopped him in the first place is because his car resembled one that had just driven on a sidewalk at a nearby college. It turns out, the sidewalk driver wasn't Wallace.

So what's Boyd's deal? Does he just never want to "lose" a case? Maybe his ego is too fragile to give up on a prosecution when facts present themselves?

Or is Wallace an uppity black kid. After all, he's pursuing a Master's degree in college. You don't want any n*****s being successful, right Prosecutor Boyd? God forbid a white guy like you lets a black guy find success.

The above paragraph might be an over the top accusation. I sure hope it is.

Nonetheless, Mother Jones reported today that the vast majority of prosecutors in the nation are white men. Obviously, most of them aren't racist. Still, when 79 percent of prosecutors are white men, and 14 states have an all white male prosecuting lineup, you do want to see a little more diversity.

This week, the Michigan case has suddenly gotten lots of publicity. When bad PR  happens, the prosecutor will try to find a face saving way out in which Wallace doesn't end up with problems concerning his job or school financial assistance.   He'll just got some sort of toothless warning.

One sign that things might work out in Wallace's favor is public support. MLive.com has an update saying there will be a rally in his behalf tomorrow.

But who knows how many other people get in trouble like Wallace did? For doing something innocent, or at least benign, I bet a lot of people have their lives ruined by the occasional overzealous cop or prosecutor.

Time to fix this problem, maybe?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Homeless Guy NAILS Styx Song; He's Now Suddenly Famous

Donald Gould at the piano in Sarasota, Florida. 
I've seen this kind of thing before, but I always like it when it happens.

A homeless guy, the kind of person a lot of us go out of our way to ignore, does something brilliant.

Here, Donald Gould finds a piano in the street in Sarasota, Florida and starts playing the Styx classic "Come Sail Away." He's brilliant.

The video, just uploaded on June 30,  has gone viral, with nearly 6 million views as of Monday morning.

Everybody's talking about him now. He's been all over social and mainstream media over the past few days.

A star is born!

The pianos, like the one Gould found were placed in various areas around Sarasota by the Art and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.

A follow up video features an interview with Gould, who says he plays the piano on the street every day to collect tips. He used to play the clarinet in the Marine Corps.

Gould says he has been homeless for six or seven years, when the economy tanked and he got laid off. Unemployment benefits kept him afloat for a couple years, but that ended. He says he has a construction background and can do that, but I agree with the woman in the follow up video that maybe a career in music would be better.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Gould, and that has raised about $29,000 as of Monday morning. So that will at least get a roof over his head.

Here's the video of Gould playing "Come Sail Away."



Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 4th Weekend Educational Moment With The Muppets

The Muppets, led by Sam The Eagle, guide
us through the Declaration of Independence.  
OK, I know today is July 5th, not July 4th, so I'm a day late and a dollar short with this, (I'm always at least a dollar short) but we can still do this.

The Muppets Sam The Eagle, the conservative one who is always appalled, thought it was appropriate to recite the Declaration of Independence this weekend. I agree!

He got some help, so to speak, from some of the other Muppets, including Gonzo.

So enjoy this educational moment:

 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Duracell Batteries Tugging On Heart Strings?

You need batteries for those flashlights as you make your way home in the dark from tonight's Fourth of July fireworks display?

Go get some Duracell batteries. But before you do, watch their ad. Somehow, a battery ad managed to make me a little weepy.
A little girl receives a special Teddy bear from
her father in a charming new Duracell ad. 

Most advertisements annoy me, so when I find one that's actually kinda compelling, I highlight it.

In the Duracell ad, which you can watch below, a man deployed overseas sends his daughter back home a teddy bear. The bear has recorded message from Dad that plays when the daughter squeezes the bear.

Everytime she gives Teddy a squeeze,  her father's voice comes out and says, "I love you, baby girl"

This goes on for awhile. The ad demonstrates how long Duracell batteries are supposed to last and how important they are.

The Duracell ad is based on a true story. Apparently, people with Duracell were doing market research in peoples' homes when they encountered this arrangement.

At one place, they asked the kids to bring out their favorite battery operated toys. They expected things like toy cars and such, but a girl brought out a teddy bear that had her father's voice.

It turned out Dad was Robert Nilson, a Navy air traffic controller, who put together a battery powered teddy bear to play messages from him to his daughter, says television station WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nilson said the Duracell ad is pretty close to reality.

Though the Nilson family experienced the scenario in the Duracell ad, , actors stand in for the scene during the commercial, of course.

Here's the sweet ad:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Do I Laugh Or Cry Over Right Wing Despair Over Gay Marriage?

Lots of people were happy over last week's U.S.
Supreme Court ruling regarding gay marriage.... 
I admit I've been pretty snarky the past few days about the over the top reactions among some conservatives regarding the U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage decision.

It started moments after news broke. 

The ever-reliable Bryan Fischer of American Family Association immediately released a seriers of melodramatic Tweets soon after the Supreme Court announced its decision:

First he compared it to the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York:

"June 26, 2015. The day the twin towers of truth and righteousness were blown up by moral jihadists."

Then, oddly, he started channeling Don McClean, famous for the song "American Pie"

"I saw Satan dancing with delight the day the musti died in the United States of America."

I know I'm being too literal here, but I heard lots of music once the gay marriage decision came out. Happy partiers, especially gay ones, bring on the music in happy times. But what do I know?

Republican presidential candidates' were quick to follow Fischer and his ilk:

Bobby Jindal had one of the better ones:

"This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision.....I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me."

That's picking your battles, Bobby! Fight a nonexistent battle against an "assault on religious freedom." As if anyone cares what goes on in the church you go to.
....but Bryan Fischer was one of the right
wingers who was VERY displeased.

Predictably, the activists started blaming bad weather on The Gays. Any time there is bad weather anywhere, be it a storm, flood, drought, heat wave, cold wave or hail, it's because of The Gays.

If we gay people have so much control over the weather, why can't I make it stop raining so I can get some work done out in my garden?

Anyway, the day after the same sex marriage ruling, there was a pretty good thunderstorm in Washington DC. Imagine! A thunderstorm in humid DC in the middle of summer!

The storms caused some local flash floods, and Todd Starnes of Fox News or shall I say Fox "News" had this to say:

"Record breaking floods (editor's note: Not really) have inundated Washington DC just days after the Supreme Court decided they knew better than God. I seem to remember another time in history when there was a record breaking flood."

Uh, yeah, there have been other record breaking floods. I suppose the Biblical Noah's Ark one, if it happened, was probably record breaking.  And........?

The wackadoodles on the right are now expecting a cascade of new awful things now that gay marriage is legal. Tom DeLay probably topped them all, explaining there's a secret Department of Justice memo that will now legalize bestiality and pedophilia.

He hasn't offered any proof, but hey, trust him! Why not?

This all leads me to a Washington Monthly article by David Atkins on why the religious right is so, SO upset over gay marriage.

From their worldview there are a lot of things to be upset about. Why gay marriage especially.

Evangelicals are also upset over abortion. As the Washington Monthly points out, if you go with the evangelicals' line of thinking, this makes sense. They think that life starts at the moment of conception, so if you kill off a small collection of cells that could potentiallly become a human being, yeah, I can see their anger.

However, if two guys or two gals marry each other, nobody gets hurt or killed. So we're good, right?

Wrong, apparently.

Atkins writes:

"An array of obviously specious slippery slope arguments notwithstanding, even under the Christianist worldview marriage equality hurts no one but the supposed sinners in question, who will either repent and be saved or not - but their souls are subject to their own God-given free will. 

It's not as if LGBT people haven't heard the 'good news' from evangelicals before; what they do with the 'information is their business and their potential salvation is entirely in their own hands."

So why can't evangelicals just keep giving their, ugh, 'good news' to us and if we don't take the bait, fughettaboutit.

Well, Atkins explains this in is Washington Monthly article, too:

"Some of the more unhinged on the religious right believe that God is actively protecting the United States because of America's religiosity, and God's grace will be removed by cultural coarsening. But again, so what? The United States is not Jerusalem. It's existence is obviously not part of any scripture or prophecy. 

In the supposed end times, the entire world is supposed to come under the spell of the Anti-Christ, which means that the U.S. will either exist or fall under Satan's dominion. In either case, the removal of divine protection isn't much to be feared, as it seemingly must happen sooner or later."

Atkins points out the radical right is not railing under other sins, like divorce, selfishness and hypocracy. Maybe because these yellers and screamers are hypocrites themselves?

I can only come to exactly the same conclusion Atkins did in his article. The right wingers are are using religion as, as Atkins puts it the "most socially acceptable veneer for exercising that bigotry. Which is really what it's all about."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Debbie Harry Turns 70; Still Coolest Woman Out There

The ever-awesome Debby Harry turns 70 today.  
Yeah, it makes me feel old to realize that Debbie Harry, most famous for her role as lead singer for Blondie, turns 70 today.

Harry has always been so sexy and awesome that she comes the closest to turning this gay man straight. Not really, but still.

Love the spread of Debbie Harry photos in today's The Guardian. 

Debbie Harry  has always been the epitome of cool.

One song that sticks in my head today on her birthday is Blondie's "Atomic" Lyrically, the song is lame, but the tune is so atmospheric that you can't help but love it.

"Atomic" came out around 1980. Most of the time, when you see videos and images from 1980s, the fashion and look of everybody is laughably dated.

In the video, though, the people, including Harry, seem strangely fashion forward, if a little wonderfully odd. And those soaring vocals! Not to mention the cheekbones on her face!

Judge for yourself: (To watch, you'll probably have to click "Watch on YouTube to actually see it. )







No You Can't Give Your Low Wage Workers' Salaries To Big Banks

A McDonald's franchise insisted on paying this women
only with a fee-laden debit card. So she sued.  
There's been some good U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the past week, but another ruling, from a lower court in Pennsylvania about a month ago, gave me another reason to be happy.

The court said that a McDonald's franchise owner could not pay the employees there in the form of Chase Bank debit cards.

As we well know, McDonald's employees tend not to be super rich 1 percenters. So they need every penny of their paychecks.

According to Consumerist, the debit card pay violated a Pennsylvania laws that says "wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check."

The legal question was whether a debit card is lawful money. It kinda is, but.....

Anyway, a woman named Natalie Gunshannon worked briefly at one of these debit card McDonald's. Briefly, because she objected to being forced to use the fee-laden debit card. Her employer said she had no choice.

Oh, but she did. She quit and went straight to a lawyer. Gunshannon is sort of a Norma Rae of McDonald's, at least in Pennsylvania.

Here's how Consumerist described it:

"The 2013 complaint alleges that the McDonald's franchisee violate this law by requiring that employees accept the Chase debit card, which charged fees like $1.50 for using an ATM, $5 for over-the-countery cash withdrawals, $1 per balance inquiry and $0.75 for online bill payment."

In other words, if these McDonald's employees actually wanted to get access to their wages, they had to give some of it to Chase Bank, which, as I noted, is probably not about to run out of cash anytime soon.

Consumerist goes on, "At the same time, managers at these McDonald's were being paid through direct deposit, meaning that the were not stuck with any of these fees."

Yep, the lower wage workers had to give some of their money to the poor suffering bank, while the somewhat better paid managers got to keep all of their wages.

The judge said the debit cards violated the law because the cards are neither cash nor check.

The judge in the case also said this new technology makes for evolving case law, and state legislators are grappling with this.

Consumerist notes that Federal Reserve Regulations say that "no financial institutions or other person may require a consumer to establish an account for receipt of electronic fund transfers with a particular institution as a condition of employment or receipt of a government benefit."

In other words, an employee can choose to get a paycheck, cash, direct deposit or debit card arrangement with the bank of his or her choice, but the employer can't choose for the employee.

More than that, though, the McDonald's franchise owners were awfully scummy. Did they get some nice arrangement from Chase Bank for forcing employees to use the debit cards.

Worse than that, this is totally a reverse Robin Hood. The debit cards are classic steal from the poor and give to the rich.  (Hmm, I bet Bernie Sanders wouldn't approve of this!)