Saturday, October 31, 2015

Baby Owl Dances To Monster Mash Because It's Halloween

Oakley the owl, right, and his stuffed counterpart
grove to "The Monster Mash."  
This video is a few years old, but you can't beat a baby owl dancing to Monster Mash on Halloween.

The baby owl is named Oakley and he liked to cuddle with his favorite stuffed owl.

Oakley was raised at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Kansas and has since been released to the wild.

Watch:


Friday, October 30, 2015

Bryan Wilson, TEXAS LAW HAWK!!!!!

Texas Law Hawk!!  
Some ads for lawyers are, um, interesting, and we think we found the most insane one we've seen in quite awhile.

Introducing Bryan Wilson, Texas Law Hawk!!!!!!!!

You have to give the young attorney points for enthusiasm and he parades and runs around Fort Worth, doing wheelies on mini bikes, displaying more flag images than every Fourth of July that ever existed combined, and yelling until his voice gives out. I think.

I wonder if his performance is similar in a courtroom.

Fort Worth Weekly says the ads seem to work. Wilson's phone has been ringing off the hook with potential clients, some from as far away as Florida. However, he only practices in Tarrant County, Texas.

I guess people want a madcap lawyer representing them instead of somebody, um, sober. Go figure.

In any event, you'll be stunned, or thrilled or something, with this ad from TEXAS LAW HAWK!!!!!!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Will Wheaton's Warning To Not Write For Free Makes Him My New Best Friend.

Wil Wheaton Vs. Huffington Post. I'd say Wheaton won. 
Wil Wheaton caused a big stir this week and it has me totally cheering for him.

For the uninitiated, Wil Wheaton was a child actor in the movie "Stand  By Me," has since been in the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and has had a recurring role in TV's "The Big Bang Theory."

He's also a very popular blogger, gamer, tech geek and pretty much a Renaissance guy.

Anyway, in his blog, he said this week that Huffington Post offered to publish an earlier Wheaton blog post about the seven things he did to reboot his life.

Very nice. But when Wheaton asked Huffington Post how much he would be paid for the Huffington's Post publication of the blog post, the Huffington Post said nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

An editor wrote, (insultingly in my opinion, but Wheaton was professional and nice about it) that Wheaton and other would-be bloggers should contribute for free, because the "exposure" Huffington Post will give to the writer.

Wheaton Tweeted about this to his three million or so followers (Disclosure: Including me). One of his posts said "If you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period."

Wheaton also nicely expounded on this topic through his blog. 

This had me cheering wildly for Wheaton.

There are dissents. Salon reported that Internet entrepreneur Damon Brown says that people beginning their careers sometimes need to work for free, and you're not being cheated if you volunteer work at some charitable organization.

Which is totally true.

But writers, photographers, graphic designers, musicians and others who do need to get their names out there also need to make a living.

Says Salon:

"They constantly, in a digital age that has already destabilized their earnings, are asked to do it for free. For a brand. For a friend. For any number of reasons, but often, the hustle is that the gratis work will serve as 'free advertising' for work someone else is supposed to pay them to do, somewhere down the road."

In other words, the gratis work is a scammy merry go round in which everybody expects free work from writers and artists and such. So how are they actually supposed to make a living?

I know it's sometimes easier said than done, but I won't work for free, unless it's for charity or you really, really want to help a friend. If I ever need to promote myself I'll do so through blogs, social media,  a web site, maybe good old fashioned advertising.

Besides, if you're that good and need exposure, you'll get it through people citing your great work, like Wheaton's blog. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wow! Big Switzerland Rock Slide Caught On Camera

A huge rock on a Swiss mountain, seconds before it collapsed
it blasted into a valley below.  
Glad nobody was beneath this cliff.

A huge chunk of rock on a Swiss mountain gave way recently, and luckily, geologists were there to film it.

According to the Telegraph UK, (I'm not linking to it because it's got an obnoxious autoplay), geologist had detected signs that a big chunk of the Rock of Mel Niva was about to let go.

A small village far below was evacuated just in case and the geologists set up their cameras.

The rock let go, carving a path through the forest 1,000 feet down the mountain. The rocks missed the village and everything there is OK.

Here's dramatic the video, shot from two angles:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shoot! We're Going To Carve A Pumpkin!

Kirsten Joy Weiss shows off the Jack O'Lantern
she made by repeatedly shooting it. 
I betcha a lot if people have carved or will carve a Jack O' Lantern for their Halloween celebrations this week.  

If you haven't I can show you one pumpkin carving method that I don't recommend. Unless you're a total expert like Kirstin Joy Weiss.

Weiss is a well known sharpshooter, and she shows us how she carves a pumpkin by repeatedly shooting it.

Don't try this at home! The Consumer Products Safety Commission says there are about 4,000 injuries annually from carving pumpkins. Shooting would just make the carnage worse.

Even so, as you'll see in the video below, the the gunshot Jack O'Lantern turns out looking not half bad.

Here's the video:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Schools And Authority Figures Contnue To Torture Teens Because What The Hell.

Aliya May, 14, left and her mother Karrie. Aliya faces
felony charges for throwing a baby carrot at a teacher.  
In the never ending quest of schools and authority figures to screw kids we have a few more examples:

CARROT TOSS VIOLENCE:

In Henrico County, Virginia, we have the case of a bratty 14 year old girl who threw a baby carrot at a teacher and hit the educator in the face.

The teacher wasn't hurt, but yeah, we need to get this girl in trouble. Detention! A letter of apology. Maybe even suspension from school for a coupla days.

All those ideas seem perfectly reasonable to me. But in the zeal of zero tolerance that I always whine about, we have to go much, much further than that.

We have to charge the kid with assault and battery with a weapon. We MUST ruin the kid's life because she stupidly threw a 1.75-inch long carrot.

After all, we shouldn't worry about gun violence. Who cares if 30,000 people or so die in gun violence each year. We shouldn't worry about guns. We should worry about carrots.

Television station WTVR even turned to legal expert Todd Stone to analyze this complex carrot law enforcement situation.

"If it's a soft carrot, it may not be as offensive.....But if it's a raw carrot, you don't have to have an injury or show you were hurt to prove a battery. It just has to be an offensive, vindictive touch. That's what the law says."

Got that? You can throw cooked carrots at your teacher, but throw a raw one, no matter how small, and you will spend years, YEARS in jail.

BoingBoing joked that something called The National Root Vegetable Association (There's an Association for everything) helpfully weighed in on this crisis.

Echoing the National Rifle Association in a tongue in cheek way, the National Root Vegetable Association says although it does seem like the time for a political debate on carrot violence, this question would not have arisen had teachers armed themselves and were trained in the use of small taproots and rhizomes.

The school district involved declined to comment, as dumb school districts always do when confronted by reporters reporting on administrators killing behavioral gnats with nuclear bombs.

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP DISCOURAGED

Over in Iowa, high school student Zach Hougland was doing well in a cross country running race and was nearing the finish line recently. Yay! Go Zach!
Iowa high school cross country
 runner Zach Hougland was disqualified
from a future competition for aiding a member
of an opposing team who needed help.  n

But at that point,  he saw that a competitor from another school, Garret Hinson, was in distress and crawling on his knees.

Hougland helped Hinson to his feet and held him up as both crossed the finish line.

Great sportsmanship Zach! It was inspiring. But not to race officials. They disqualified both Hougland and Hinson because the moment was "interference" that "violated state rules" for helping another runner across the finish line.

It's not as if he was cheating to help his own team. And if other runs zipped past the two to finish, so be it

But I guess state high school athletic officials would hate to instill any sense of kindness or morality into any kids. We're all in it for ourselves, right?

Although Hougland was disqualified, he'll be able to run in a subsequent race because his team overall did well enough to qualify.

DRIVERS LICENSE DOUBLE

Meanwhile, in Georgia, twin sisters Alicia and Alicen Kennedy went to the DMV to get their drivers learners permits, says television station WIAT. 

They needed their photos taken, and Georgia DMV has super nifty camera with a computer that recognizes faces. This is handy if somebody's trying to get an illegal ID or is otherwise up to no good.

But the Kennedy twins were totally on the up and up. But the computer/camera  that recognizes faces thought each sister was the same one person because they look so similar/

"Aftery try after try after try, the system just would not accept them and it kept saying that it was the same person, they finally said there was a problem and they had to call headquarters," said Wanda Kennedy, the twins' mother.

So I guess if you're an identical twin, only one member of the pair can drive a car in Georgia.

To be fair, the DMV is reportedly trying to make arrangements to ensure both teens get their learner's permit.








.
Take a close look at their picture. Can you tell them apart? The state of Georgia sure can’t.
A right of passage replaced by frustration as the twins got denied by the DMV, all because a camera could not tell one girl from the other.
“We gave her our paperwork but we didn’t even get a chance to take the test because she kept saying something was wrong with the computer,” twin, Alicia said.
That computer can recognize faces, a feature that comes in handy if somebody’s is trying to get an illegal ID It apparently is not programmed to detect twins.
Alicia said she took her picture several times and then had to sign her signature several more time. She says she felt like it was her fault.
“I was listening to her conversation with the person on the phone and it said that one of us popped up as a fraud,” Alicen explained.
“The other lady came back and said that when we were taking our pictures it was picking up as saying that we were one person instead of two different people,” Alicia said.
All of a sudden, a day that these girls had dreamed about was dashed. Their high hopes of hitting the open road, brought down by a machine that didn’t know what to make of them.
“Af
Carter asked the girls, “Is that crazy to you that you have to go prove that you’re two different people?” To which Alicia responded with, “We don’t look exactly alike so you would think the computer would pick up somewhat of a difference, but it can’t tell us apart.”
Now the girls have to regroup. They have to get ready for whatever the state says comes next, as they continue their quest to get behind the wheel.
“I want my permit, I don’t want to wait a whole other year,” Alicia said.
We spoke with a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
She says they have not heard of this happening before, but they do have a check box on the application asking if someone is a twin. The girls told me they didn’t see one.
After we picked up the story the DMV has been working with the teens to help this process move along as quickly as possible.




http://boingboing.net/2015/10/23/teen-faces-assault-charge.html

http://wbay.com/2015/10/23/twins-denied-drivers-permit-because-dmv-cant-tell-them-apart/



Saturday, October 24, 2015

One More "Pharma Bro" Post As He Gets His Comeuppance, Again!

Maybe Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli won't make as many
ill-gotten dollars off his overpriced meds after a competitor
stepped in Friday with a much less expensive version.  
I know I've paid more attention to creepy "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli than he deserves, but I can't resist completing the arc of this story. At least for now.

To recap:

1. Shkreli, known as "Pharma Bro" because he's a young arrogant boy, essentially, raised the price of a medication many AIDS patients need by 5,000 percent to $750 a pill, just because he wanted to make TONS of money, and who cares if a few people died for want of medication as a result.

2. The Internet lit up with outrage at Pharma Bro, who backtracked and promised to reduce the price of the medication somewhat. So far, he hasn't.

3. Phama Bro gave a campaign donation of $2,700 to Bernie Sanders because he wanted to meet with him. Bernie told him to go pound sand, and gave the donation to a health center that helps AIDS patients.

4. Pharma Bro was then hopping mad at Bernie, the outrage, the world, and told the world via social media that he broke his wrist in anger. That might have been fake.

Now on to the update:

On Friday, the drugmaker Imprimis Pharmaceuticals said it would make its own version of the AIDS medication, called Daraprim, available for just $1 a pill, even less expensive than before Pharma Bro got his hands on it.

So Pharma Bro's business model has been upended, and he won't get as rich as he thought, apparently.

Poor baby.

Still, don't cry too hard for Shkreli the Pharma Bro. The altenative drug from Imprimis is not exactly the same as Daraprim, but it will do. Also, as Forbes notes, Imprimis is a "compounding" pharmaceutical company, which regulators don't trust.

Plus, as Forbes reminds us, there's always these business moves and sleights of hands that return these inexpensive drugs to other pharmaceutical companies, who again boost the prices for fun and profit.

But for now, we can dance on Pharma Bro's slightly smaller pile of ill-gotten money.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Adele's Back! Listen To Her Great New Song

Add caption
Adele is famous for her incredible pipes and her often melancholy music.

We haven't heard much from her lately, but she's back! And sounding awesome as always.

Judge for yourself, with this video for her new song "Hello"

By the way, her new album drops on November 20.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Texas Jerks Prompt "Clock KId To Move To Oman

Way to go Texas!
Ahmed Mohamed, the clock kid, is taking his clock
and moving to Qatar and done with Irving, Texas.  

Famously arresting teenager Ahmed Mohamed for bringing a homemade clock to school, they drove him out of America.

Ahmed is headed to Qatar where he will continue his studies there.

Let's drive all them foreigners out, even the smart ones! The only thing this country needs is dumb white men, right

Naw, we don't need the best and the brightest. This is MURICA!

Ahmed famously got in trouble because it appears that his school and cops thought he was suspicious for bringing the clock with its protruding wires and digital display in.

He kept insisting it was a clock, which it was, but you know them Muslims! Always bringing bombs to whereever they are. At least in some people's opinion.

His school was widely derided and Ahmed even got to go to the White House to meet President Obama. And a lot of famous and well-regarded places of higher education in the United States invited him, too.

But the family has had enough of Irving, Texas, it seems. The Dallas Morning News says Ahmed is heading to the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.  

So he's gone. What bright kid are we going to demoralize next, since it seems to be the American Way, at least in some parts of the country.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dubstep Amazement From A McDonald's Cup

In today's random video, we have a guy named Parker Kane creating amazing dubstep sounds from his McDonald's cup. It's pretty awesome!

Not That You Needed More Evidence, but Phama Bro Shkreli IS A Jerk

Is Pharma Bro playing guitar with a broken wrist? 
You might remember in one of my recent previous posts, or hearing elsewhere about "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, the guy who raised the cost of a life saving drug exponentially for fun and especially profit.

He also made the news for donating $2,700 to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in the hopes of basically buying a meeting with Sanders.

Sanders totally blew him off, said he's not a fan of big pharma (we knew that) and donated Pharma Bro's money to a Washington health clinic

Now we learn that Pharma Bro was so PISSED OFF at Sanders for doing so that he punched a wall and broke a wrist, says Mother Jones.  Petulant little jerk.

Well, he says he broke his wrist. It looks like the X-ray Pharma Bro posted on line is a stock image of a random broken wrist, Mother Jones notes.  Could be anybody's.

A subsequent social media post shows Shkreli playing the guitar, which would be hard to do with a broken wrist.

But he can keep whining all he wants. I don't feel sorry for him. I'm guessing Bernie doesn't either, but you'd have to ask him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Foliage And Snoliage In Vermont, 2015

Sunshine lights up trees over
a dirt road in Huntington, Vermont.  
Since everybody else is doing it, I'm going to share some photos I took in what has been a spectacular fall foliage season here in Vermont.

It got off to a late start because of a warm early autumn, but the leaves belatedly put on a show in mid -October.

Then it got cold, and it snowed. Everybody it seems got the coveted "snoliage" photos, which combine snow and brilliant leaves.

Due to scheduling, I wasn't really able to get out to the mountains to get great snoliage landscape photos, but some snow fell on my St. Albans, Vermont property and managed to get some detailed photos.

The photos I'm sharing in this post are in random order taken in western and northern Vermont.

As you scroll down, click on each photo to make them bigger and easier to see. Hope you enjoy them, and please share in the comments section or on social media any great autumn photos you took!

Mount Mansfield, seen from Underhill, Vermont.  

A bit of snow accumulates on maple leaves
in St. Albans, Vermont.


Snow dusts cardinal flowers in my St. Albans, Vermont garden.  

Pumpkins and foliage in Underhill, Vermont

A snow squall obscures foliage in
my St. Albans, Vermont yard.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Police Hate Guy Having Fun In Utah Town

Steve Unger, the dancing man of Utah, isn't going to
face criminal charges after all for having the audacity
to dance on public streets. 
There's a 68-year-old guy in Utah who likes to dance in the streets of the communities of Cottonwood Heights and Holladay, Utah.

It was fun for him, and fun for passersby who saw the man having his own little bit of fun. Smiles and fun can be contagious, after all.

But police put a stop to that, says television station KUTV.

Dancing man Steve Unger faced charges of disorderly conduct, failure to identify himself and interference with an arresting officer.  Being in a good mood, and eccentric and fun is bad, bad, BAD!!!

It started like this, says KUTV: 

"Nearly every day, the 68-year-old retiree dons selections from his brightly colored wardrobe, ties a bandana around his clean-shaven head, throws on the ear buds, plugs into his smart phone packed with tunes and heads outdoors.

He walks and dances up to 10 miles, a can't-miss figure, sometimes bouncing a rubber ball as he 'glides' along streets, avenues and lanes."

Most people seem to like Unger, smiling and waving as he does his thing. But one person apparently didn't, and called the cops.  The person who called said Unger was blocking traffic.

Cottonwood Heights' finest showed up and watched him for awhile, then went in for the arrest. The cops questioned Unger, who admits he initially declined to hand over his ID, since he thought he wasn't doing anything wrong.

But then then arrested him. Maybe the poor cops felt disrespected because Unger didn't ask how high when the cops said jump or something. After all, he didn't immediately hand over his ID and grovel and beg for forgiveness.

KUTV says Cottonwoood Height Police Chief Robbie Russon said his officers acted appropriately dealing with Unger and said there are two sides to the story of his charges.

But Russo for some reason didn't provide the cops' side of the story. Not sure why.

Unger had faced a November 18 jury trial after a judge last week declined to dismiss the charges.

However, in a recent update from FOX 13 in Salt Lake City, we learn the local prosecutor said he was dropping the charges.

After the charges were dropped, Russo backpedaled, saying that his cops never intended to harass Unger, but only wanted to assure his safety and that of passing motorists.

Yeah, sure. Like dancing is dangerous and passing motorists couldn't seem him. "In this case, both Mr. Unger and the CHPD could have done a better job of communicating at the time of the incident," Russo said.

Yeah, nothing like bad publicity to prompt the police chief to issue a lame PR type statement that really says nothing. But oh well, let's not dwell. Unger is free to keep dancing.

Maybe the the fine members of the Cottonwood Heights, Utah police department should take dance lessons, too. Couldn't hurt!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Big Bodybuilders In Miniature Town Because Why Not?

Norwegian bodybuilders squeeze into a
tiny house for the hell of it.  
Just because I'm in a weird mood, here's a video of giant Norwegian bodybuilders hanging out in a miniature town just to make themselves look bigger.

Boosts their ego maybe, or it's just goofy.

My favorite comment from one of the bodybuilders: "I don't hang pictures on the walls. I frame tiny stamps instead."

I know this was just set up for laughs, but still, just a little weirdness for your Sunday.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli, Who Everybody Hates, Making People Hate Him More

"Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli (left) and Bernie
Sanders really DO NOT get along these days.  
I don't know if there's anyone out there better at being a villian than Martin Shkreli.

He's the "Pharma Bro," the hot shot young dude with the hedge funds and drug price gouging habit.

Pharma Bro Shkreli jacked up the price of a medication called daraprim, the only available drug for a certain parasitic disease by 4,000 percent, making the drug unaffordable to many and literally putting the lives of some people in danger.

You know, for fun and especially profit.

After a big public outcry, Pharma Bro pledged to drop the price of the drug back down. I guess he was hoping the media outcry would die out and people wouldn't notice the price is still high. Of course they are noticing.

I don't think he intends to bring the price down. You know, fun and profit.

Speaking of which, Shkreli made news this week by sending a campaign donation of $2,700 to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, reports the Boston Globe.

Which is odd, since I don't think Sanders, who yells about corporate greed every single chance he gets, would be too buddy-buddy with Pharma Bro.

It turns out, Sanders indeed isn't a big fan of Pharma Bro. The Sanders campaign took that $2,700 and donated it to Washington's Whitman-Walker health clinic, the Boston Globe said.

"We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed," sniffed Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs.

By the way, the medication Shkreli jacked the price up on so much helps HIV patients, among others. The health clinic Sanders donated the money to hel;s HIV patients, among others, so the exchange of money seems like a pretty good fit.

This turn of events,  however,  has really made Pharma Bro pout big time.

Apparently, Shkreli wanted to use the Sanders donation to entice him to meet with him, and Sanders is not interested. Pharma Bro wanted to ask Sanders about innovation and health care, and shouldn't we jack up pharmaceutical costs to bring about innovation.

But no dice. "He'll take my money, but he won't engage with me for five minutes to understand the issue better," Pharma Bro whined.

In other words, Pharma Bro tried to buy a meeting with Sanders for the low, low price of $2,700. Then he whined when Sanders wouldn't jump for him at the scent of $2,700, which in the grand scheme of Washington DC lobbying isn't a whole lot of money.

Pharma Bro is really pouting on his Twitter page, Tweeting, "Are campaigns allowed to give to charities? Don't they have to spend their money on campaign-related activities? #InvestigateBernie"

I'm sure Bernie's lawyes have already sorted this out, Martin. So chill.

By the way, Pharma Bro, the pictures of cats rolling around in money on your Twitter feed are a nice touch.

Technically, Sanders IS interested in learning more about what Pharma Bro calls innovation, and what Sanders calls pharmaceutical price gouging.

Sanders is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and sent Shkreli a letter saying the drug price increase was under investigation and please send me certain documents and information pronto!

So far, Pharma Bro hasn't sent Sanders' committee that stuff, even though the deadline to do it was October 9.

Maybe you could send Bernie all your info on drug company pricing and innovation and such, Pharma Bro? Don't know if you'll change Bernie's mind, but at least you could say you tried.

But you'd rather be Pharma Dude, and be this entitled little twit, huh? It's good for business. And making money.

And you're going to stamp your feet and cry when you don't get your way.  Bernie Sanders rejeted you! Bernie is such a meanie! Waaahh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Virginia County Tickets Cars Awaiting Inspection At Repair Shops For Not Being Inspected

Why is this Virginia car enforcement officer
writing so many tickets for cars parked waiting
for new inspection stickers at repair shops?
I smell a scam.  
Is parking and car safety enforcement a tool to make sure everybody is complying with the law, or is it just to raise revenue easily off a bunch of what certain county governments regard as suckers.

The money  making schtick is what seems to be going in Fairfax County, Virginia.

 According to the Washington Post, a car enforcement gal named Jacquelyn D. Hogue has been going to repair shops and ticketing cars for expired inspections stickers. The cars are parked there because their owners are getting new inspection stickers.

There are several repair shops in the Mariah Business Center, and all of them have been seeing traffic enforcement ticket soon-to-be inspected cars.

The Washington Post says repair shop owners "don't understand why Fairfax police have zealously sought to enforce laws on expired tags or inspections, mainly on drivers who are making the effort to get their cars into compliance, while on private property. Hogue's appearance in the industrial park often set off a scramble to hide customers' cars inside the shops, the shop owners said."

The Post article explains that Fairfax pollice are only on the property because a letter issued by Mariah's property management firm specifially ranted police permission to enforce county traffic, parking and towing ordinances.

'Why aren't they barking up their property manager's tree?....That is their business. Without that letter, we have no authority - none - to be in that parking lot,' said Fairfax Police spokeswoman Lt. Brooke Wright.

Here's where it gets (intentionally?) confusing. The property manager declined to answer the Washington Post's questions. The repair shop operators rent from owners of individual buildings in the park, and the owners claime they can't change or withdraw the authorizing letter because they are not members of Mariah's condo association board of directors.

Murky? You bet. Which means I really smell a rat. I have no proof or evidence of this, but I bet the condo association is taking kickbacks from inspection ticket inspections. The condo association board wins financially, as do Fairfax Police.

And probably Hogue, who is the one who is always writing the tickets. She declined the Washington Post's request for comment. Surprise!!

It's all about revenue generation, not public safety.

This is all just one incident, but I wonder how many other swindles are going on in Our Fair Nation between police or other authorities and land owners.

I know I'm sounding paranoid and conspiratorial, but something is amiss, I'm sure.

I hope somehow this scam gets broken, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Can't Help Falling In Love With A Damn Gum Ad For Christ's Sakes!

A scene from "Sarah and Juan," the new Extra Gum
ad that is actually quite moving.  
I saw a ad for chewing gum that pretty much turned me into an emotional puddle.   I was actually moved!

Most advertisements are so bad that I want to scream, of course. My husband is sick of me screaming at bad ads but he kindly tolerates it.

When I finally see a rare, well-crafted advertisement, I cheer for it like crazy.

So it is for the Extra Gum commercial you'll see below. You really want to watch it.

The nearly two minute ad from the agency BBDO features the story of "Sarah and Juan" high school sweethearts who meet and build a relationship into adulthood.

After every significant moment with Sarah, Juan draws a little picture on an Extra gum wrapper. You don't know why he does that until the end of the ad. And at the end, there's one drawing he made on a gum wrapper that actually hadn't happened........yet.

This ad is a follow up to another wonderful commercial for Extra Gum called "Origami" in which a dad keeps making little origami swans out of gum wrappers for his daughter.

While you're at it, check out the awesome Barbie ad currently on BBDO's home page. 

The Sarah and Juan ad is very sweet, of course. Maybe I'm biased because the soundtrack is Haley Reinhart's sweet version of the song "I Can't Help Falling In Love" the great Elvis Presley standard  that was sung during my wedding three years ago.

OK, I'm totally a sucker for romance. And, yes, the ad is manipulative, but aren't ads supposed to be manipulative?  I might actually go out and buy some Extra Gum today. See? Good ads work.

Here it is:

Would-Be Darwin Award Winner Tries To Put Out Fire Using Ammunition-Laden Van

A van and its cargo of ammo goes up in flames
in Missouri after a guy tried to use the van to
put out a garbage fire he'd set. 
One of the worst ways to get rid of garbage is to burn it. It releases toxic smoke.

That was the man's first mistake when he set fire to pile of trash in a Missouri field.

From there, the man kept letting his dumbness cascade with abandon.

According to the Kansas City Star, (Note, the link has an obnoxious autoplay)  the garbage fire started getting out of control. The man, who the paper did not identify, thought he could put the fire out by repeatedly driving his van over it.

Yes, yes, you and I know what would happen when we do that, but he didn't. The van's tires caught fire and soon the van was ablaze.

Oh, and did I mention the van was full of ammunition? And the guy knew that before trying to use the van to put out the fire?

A Clay County Deputy Sheriff who was conducting a traffic stop nearby, noticed the black smoke and went to investigate. Which is how we found out about this.

The deputy sheriff, probably knowing that if he cited the guy, the man's name would be made public record, decided not to file a complaint. The lawman also probably figured the guy was already being punished enough for his stupidity.

Also, nobody got hurt, so there was that good fortune.

The man with the van and the ammunition didn't file an insurance claim either, says the Kansas City Star. Too embarrassing?

Next time, dude, try putting out a fire with gasoline. That'll work!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

World's Worst Aunt Loses Lawsuit Against Her Nephew

Jennifer Connell said her
eight year old's over-excited hug
caused her to break her wrist.
So she sued the kid.  
UPDATE: 

OK, there's a chance me and the rest of the world were unfair to this aunt who sued her nephew because his big greeting four years ago caused her to fall and break her wrist.

According to her lawyers, Jennifer Connell really didn't want to sue her nephew, but the homeowner's insurance company of her nephew's parents forced the issue.

Their insurance company was Travelers. They offered to pay Connell a whopping $1.00. When she objected, Connecticut law makes her, and others in that situation to sue whoever caused the injury.

In this case, it was the nephew.

Yeah, Connell should have realized the optics of this situation looked really bad, and maybe tried, I don't know, GoFundMe.

But still, the insurance company is a total villian in this case, too. Probably more of a villian than Connell.

Of the verdict in which jurors awarded Connell no money. "We think the verdict speaks for itself. We don't have anything to add about this case."

That's because Travelers wants to make sure all the negative publicity is on Connell, not them.

I have to agree with the snarky web site Gawker on this one. As Gawker wrote:

"As horrible as a woman suing a child - a relative, at that - sounds on paper, a healthcare system where a corporation can force her into that situation to address her injuries sounds even worse."

Exactly. If Connell's lawyers' version of events is correct, Travelers was too cheap to reach some sort of settlement, and decided Connell's efforts to get some money was worth making her an Internet punching bag.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

About four years ago, Sean Tarala, then eight, saw that his aunt, Jennifer Connell, arrived at his birthday party

According to the Connecticut Post, this is how the scene played out:

"When he spotted Connell, he dropped the new bicycle on the ground, exclaiming, 'Aunit Jen! Auntie Jen!'

'All of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him, and we tumbled onto the ground,' Connell testified of her encounter with the 50-pound boy. 'I remember him shouting 'Auntie Jen I love you,' and there he was flying at me.'"

Notice the quote from the Connecticut Post said Connell was "testifying."

That's because she was in court relaying this story. She was in court because she was suing her nephew, who is now 12 years old.

When Sean embraced Connell at that party four years ago and they fell, Connell broke her wrist.

Which is of course unfortunate.  But she sued the kid for $127,000 for breaking her wrist. Sean, who the lawsuit claimed was negligent for recklessly hugging is aunt, was the only person named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said that "a reasonable eight year old under those circumstances would know or should hae known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff."

The Connecticut Post reported that a jury spent all of 20 minutes reaching a common sense conclusion that Sean was not negligent and Connell would not be awarded so much as a penny for her troubles.

Those troubles, according to testimony, included the fact the broken wrist made it hard for Connell to hold a plate of hors d'oeuvres at a party.

Sean sat through court testimony looking kind of confused with his father at his side. Why wasn't Sean's mom there? Well, she died last year.

You'd think Sean had enough bad things going on in his life with his mother dying. You'd think Connell would think to herself that maybe Sean needs a loving woman in his life and an aunt would be a great help for Sean right now.

But, Connell couldn't hold a plate of hors d'oeuvres at a party because of that snotty nosed brat Sean hugging her and breaking her wrist. So just sue the kid instead.

Connell is of course now an Internet villian. A hashtag for her on Twitter is #AuntFromHell.  But she is widely known know as #AuntieJen a meme that's becoming as iconic for a adult who is mean to children as Mommie Dearest.

But she really should have seen that coming.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Scary: Suspension Bridge Collapse As People Are Walking Across It; And Glass Bridge Cracks

The New Zealand suspesion foot bridge after it partly
collapsed, sending people in the gorge below  
Recently in New Zealand a group of hikers were crossing a suspension bridge over a gorge along a hiking trail.  The bridge then abruptly snapped, flinging at least three people off of it.

Amazingly, the people who plunged 28 feet down landed in the water, not the rocks, so they weren't badly hurt, says stuff.co.nz 

The hikers, one of whom was filming, said the bridge suddenly let out a loud crack, and three people were pitched over the side into the water. A fourth person clung on to a piece of the bridge and was able to hoist himself back up.

The video, which you'll see at the bottom of this post, shows the hikers calmly walking across the bridge, then the view goes off in all kinds of wild directions as they fall, then the view plunges under water. Then you see people emerge.

The glass walkway in China that
later cracked whe somebody dropped
a stainlesss steel mug on it.  
Officials in New Zealand said there was a manufacturing fault in a cable on the suspension bridge, which led to the collapse.

Before we get to that video, there was another scary bridge accident, this one in China. There's a glass bottomed walkway more than 3,500 feet above s gorge.

It would be scary enough to venture out onto the walkway to begin with. Then, somebody dropped a stainless steel mug as they walked across the bridge and part of the glass bottom shattered.

Understandably, this set off a rush of people trying to get the HELL off the walkway now if not sooner.

The People's Daily Online, via Mashable, said only one of three layers of glass broke, so nobody was in any danger. Plus the glass is designed to kind of hold together even if it does crack.

The walkway is closed, however, until repairs are made.

Here's the video of the New Zealand collapse. The slow-mo version near the end is especially terrifying:

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Saint Of Dry Creek

A still from the YouTube animation of
Story Corp's "The Saint of Dry Creek."  
I love "Story Corp" on NPR.

Hell, I love Story Corp's entire web site. 

They're glimpses of lives, very personal that air each Friday.

Every time I hear Story Corp while I'm driving to work, I find myself crying.  Every once in awhile, human beings can be so giving, so wise.

Yes, humanity can be awful. Just read the news about terrorists attacks, ISIS, Congressional gridlock, corporate greed and any number of sins that are in the daily news.

But humanity can be poignant and beautiful, too. Especially when it's not cluttered with people with a shallow agenda.

One great example came my way today via JoeMyGod, a blog focusing on gay political and social issues.

It turns out Story Corps makes great videos of their stories too.  For animated visual versions of Story Corp,  it's totally worth it to check out their YouTube channel.   

And this one is awesome. It focuses on a rural dairy farmer dad, circa 1950s in rural Washington State.

This particular dairy farmer dad was incredibly wise, and way before his time. I just wish there were more people like him on Earth now. That's all I'm going to day about it. You just have to watch.

And you might get teary eyed, like I often do during Story Corps episodes.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Televangelist Fraudster Dance Mix For Your Sunday Spirituality

This Sunday, do the Hoo Ba Ba Kanda with
televangelist/scammer Robert Tilton!  
It's Sunday!

Time to get some gospel, some spiritual nourishment, and get closer to God.

For most Christians, that means going to church, hearing from a kindly and holy priest or preacher and learning ways to live the good life and be a good person.

For an unlucky few, there's televangelist scammers like Robert Tilton, a so-called "prosperity preacher" who convinces the gullible to send him lots of money and that will in turn make them rich because God will smile on them and shower them with money.

Yeah, I know, I don't get that either, but what do I know?

Of course Tilton has been in trouble repeatedly for his scams, but he always seems to manage to rebuild his scamming operations and rake in more dough from true believers who really ought to be believing through perhaps a more traditional church.

One that gives them spiritual guidance, not one that rakes them over the financial coals.

But if you can't stop Tilton, at least you can ridicule him.

That happened over the summer, when John Oliver hilariously skewered him on HBO's "Last Week Tonight"  in which Oliver set up a new church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, to "test the legal and financial limits ofwhat religious entities are able to do."

Now we have some a new video which is awesome. Somebody named Pogo who is really music producer and remix artist Nick Bertke, tortured himsef with clips of Tilton for hours and came up with this hilarious dance track of Tilton and his antics.

Hat tip to Boingboing for giving this to us this for our Sunday supplication. Soon, everyone will be doing the Hoo Ba Ba Kanda!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A (Sick) Day Gone To The Dogs

Tonks engages me in a staring contest out on our back deck today.  
I had to call in sick to work today.

A really nasty early season cold. Actually, I probably could have soldiered through the day except for my voice. The cold rendered it totally nonexistent.

Most people would rejoice at the news that I was finally silenced for at least a day. (SHADDUP Already!!!! is something I tend to hear a lot.)

But my job entails talking with customers and clients, pretty much constantly for eight hours on the phone. That wasn't going to work.

Tonks concedes she lost the staring contest.  
This afternoon, feeling a little down in the dumps for being sick on what looked like a gorgeous Vermont autumn day, my two dogs, Tonks and Jackson looked at each other, looked at me, and then ordered me outdoors into the sunshine on our back deck.

It was nice out there. And all I had to do is sit and relax. No exertion to make my stupid little illness worse.

To cheer me up, Tonks and Jackson struck a few poses. They really were voguing. It did cheer me up.

Luckily I had my iPhone with me to grab a few of the poses to cheer you up, too.  

Jackson trying to look cool and world-weary. 


Tonks laughs at a joke, but Jackson doesn't seem to get it.


Jackson thinks he's livin' the thug life here.  

Little Girl Calls 911 For Ill Father; The Call Is Priceless

Part of the conversation between Savannah, age 5 and
a 911 dispatcher she called when her father became ill.  
I'm not sure which TV show this is from, but the host plays parts of a 911 call placed by a five year old girl named Savannah

Her father was having chest pains and couldn't breathe well.

She did an excellent job taking care of her father and talking to the 911 dispatcher while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, but she also tried to be a fashionista in the process.

You'll hear the fashionista bit when you listen to the call. Remember, you MUST always be fashion forward, even in an emergency.

Savannah handled a scary situation with aplomb, so we salute jer. She kept reassuring everyone, "So far, so good," which were nice updates.

Oh, and her father pulled through just fine.

Awesome! Watch/Listen to this video:

Friday, October 9, 2015

Company Says It Will Bring New England Fall Foliage To You

Fallen autumn leaves last October in Burlington, Vermont.
If you don't want to pay $19.99 for three preserved
leaves come up to Vermont and scoop 'em up yourself.  
We've just about gotten into the peak foliage season here where I live in Vermont, and as always, it is just gorgeous.

Busloads of tourists are now gawking at the leaves, hotels and full, restaurants are packed and thousands of digital cameras are now jam packed with images of red and yellow and orange leaves.

The foliage season will end soon enough. Wouldn't it be nice if you could keep a bit of it forever?

According to the Boston Globe, you can! For the low, low price of $19.99 you can have three colorful autumn leaves from Vermont or New Hampshire.

Says the Boston Globe: "It's the latest gambit by serial entrepreneur Kyle Waring, who launched a new website Tuesday where people can purchase colorful leaves without trekking to the Green or White Mountains."

The Globe continues:

"The leaves are collected from trails and other spots around New England and then carefully cleaned and preserved with ammonia and glycerin to ensure they stay alive and colorful for years to come, Waring said. Each bundle of leaves is then sent to custmers along with a handwritten card."

Waring, 27, of Somerville, Mass said the leaves are worth every penny of that $19.99 because he "filters through tons fo find Grade A leaes and then carefully preserves them."

If you want to buy these three gorgeous leaves for $19.99, go to shipfoliage.com  and waste your money there.

Or you can come to my house in Vermont and collect all the fallen autumn leaves you want for free. If enough people come, maybe I won't have to rake the lawn this fall.

NYPD, Psych Ward Can't Believe Black Woman Could Be Bank Employee Who Drives BMW

This woman says she was locked in a psych ward for truthfully
saying she drove a BMW, worked at a bank and was
on President Obama's Twitter feed.  
There's a 32 year old black woman in New York City who works at a bank, drives a older model BMW and is one of a zillion people President Obama follows on his Twitter feed.

No offense to the lady, but to me, this brief profile of her doesn't strike me as particularly unusual.

To the New York Police Department and a psych ward at Harlem Hospital  this woman is implausable as a unicorn dancing on Pluto with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Trouble came to Kamilah Brock when last year in Harlem when she stopped at a red light while driving her 2003 BMW 325Ci.

She apparently liked the song on the radio because she was sort of moving around in her car and briefly had her hands off the steering wheel as she grooved to the music waiting for the light to change.

Brock said a NYPD officer saw this little dance, pulled her over and ordered her out of her car.

The cops arrested her and seized her car because they thought she was high on pot. She wasn't and no drugs were found in the car. They still comfiscated her car and took her into custody, says the web site Alternet. 

"After being detained at NYPD's 30th Precinct for a few hours, Brock was released without charges. When she asked for her car, officers told her to return the next day to claim it at a substation. Instead of giving Brock her car back the following day, NYPD cops refused to believe that she owned a BMW and placed her in handcuffs before calling an ambulance."

Brock was taken to Harlem Hospital's psych ward because everybody knows black women aren't rich enough to drive BMWs and they don't work at banks, is the apparent logic of NYPD. I mean, come on, every 32 year old black woman in New York is  crack whore, goes the logic.

Harlem Hospital held Brock for eight days, repeated knocking her out, or at least knocking her for a loop, by repeatedly being injected with sedatives and forced to take lorazepam and lithium because the jerks at the hospital misdiagnosed her as bipolar and delusional.

Alternet goes on:

"According to medical records, doctors also repeatedly attempted to coerce her into denying she owned a BMW, was a bank and has President Barack Obama as a follower on Twitter."

But Brock was in reality all of these things. She has worked at Citibank, Chase and Astoria Bank. The BMW in question is registered to her. Obama does follow Brock on Twitter. Although the Twitter account is administered by White House staffers. Obama doesn't contribute to it all that much.

Still. How hard would it have been to verify Brock's Twitter account. It's set to "public" so any bozo can look it up. Also, if Brock claimed to work at a bank, why not just call the bank to see if it was so. Pretty easy right?

After the eight days went by, Brock was released from the psych ward without explantion. She was then billed for $13,637.10 for the hospital stay, even though she never was misdiagnosed and held against her will.

I guess Harlem Hospital decided it needed a revenue boost, so they held a sane woman as crazy.

By the way, Brock has no history of mental illness. Unlike the cops that detained her and the jerks at the hospital, Brock is totally sane.

Now, Surprise! Brock is suing the city of New York for violating her constitutional rights.








Thursday, October 8, 2015

Whales Swim Under Northern Lights In Maybe The Most Gorgeous Video Ever

Whales swimming beneath the Northern Lights off
the coast of Norway this week.  
Much northern Europe and northern reaches of North America were treated to another stunning display of Northern Lights this week.

This yielded what might be the most gorgeous video I've ever seen.

Taken by Harald Albrigtsen of the Norwegian media company NRK, the video shows humpback whales cavorting just off the coast of Norway while the Northern Lights were in full throttle mode.

If you like nature, this is your video.

Watch:

Chinese Traffic Jam So Bad It Makes Me Want To Pound My Own Steering Wheel In Frustration

How would you like to be stuck in traffic like this?  
I live in Vermont, a place not known for its terrible traffic jams.

Since I'm not used to traffic, when things do get snarled on Interstate 89 on the way to work because of a car crash or something, my blood immediately begins to boil.

You can imagine me exploding, then, if I lived in China, where they have traffic jams that boggle the imagination.

The aerial view you see below was taken near Beijing recently, when many motorists were returning to town after a holiday.  Hat tip to Sploid for alerting me to this. 

I don't know if any of the people in all these cars actually made it home.

 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Arguing Moose Disrupt Nice Alaskan Neighborhood

A couple of moose duke it out in
a pleasant Anchorage, Alaska neighborhood.  
There's a pleasant neighborhood around Anchorage, Alaska, with nice houses, nice lawns, and trees with fall foliage still clinging to them despite a rapidly onrushing winter.

This neighborhood was disrupted the other day, though, by a nasty fight. No, not between two homeowners arguing over the placement of a fence.

No, this is Alaska. This fight was between two moose who were determining which one was supreme, and which one would get the lady moose.

Pretty dramatic, if you ask me.

Watch:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Evangelicals Say We're Persecuting Them, But Is It Other Way Around?

The Blount County Tennesee Commission, led
by member Karen Miller, is begging Got not to
smite them because of all those icky gays out there.  
Some Evangelical Christians are famous lately for giving us the persecution complex: You know, there's a war on Christians, they're going to be put in jail for their beliefs, the godless government is after them, yada yada yada.

Is it really the other way around, though? The most famous example is of course Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is shoving her religious beliefs down everybody's throats.

She fought and fought the idea of giving marriage licenses to those icky gay couples because of her religious beliefs.

Of course, that hypocrite has been married three times and doesn't appear to hold to the other tenets of Leviticus, which these religious types always cite, so I don't know about her.

There's been a number of other interesting cases of evangelicals imposing their religious views on the rest of us, two of which I found recently that are interesting. One of the cases is harmless, if both comical and obnoxious. The other did real harm to at least one person.

I'll get into the comical one first, I guess. Hat tip to Ring of Fire and Raw Story for this one.

It involves the Blount County, Tennessee Commission, which is normally in charge of things like setting budgets and municipal employee salaries and otherwise administering county public business.

Oh, but the Blount County Commission is much more than that, nowadays, yessirree!

The commission has written a resolution begging God for mercy and asking God not to smite their community (and presumably smite others instead) because the U.S. Supreme Court authorized gay marriages earlier this year.

Here's part of the resolution. It helps to read it aloud like one of those over emotional southern-fried corrupt televangelists:

"We adopt this resolution before God that HE pas us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighborhing cities. As the Passover Lamb was a means of salvation to the ancient Children of Israel, so we stand upon the safety of the Lamb of God to save us.

We adopt this Resolution begging His favor in light of the fact that we have been forced to comply and recognize that the State of Tennessee, like so may other God-fearning State, MAY have fallen prey to a lawless judiciary in legalizing what God and the Bible expressly forbids."

Well, then.

Of course, not all the fine citizens of Blount County, Tennessee are behind this.

According to The Daily Times newspaper in Maryville, Tennessee, Ginny West Case, a retired Christian educator at a local United Methodist Church, says "I'm tired of God being used as a battering ram. The Bible, over and over tells us God is the God of love and grace and mercy."

Amen, sister.

Meanwhile, in Alburquerque, New Mexico, Holly Salzman had some coparenting issues with her ex-husband that had to be resolved in family court.

The judge in the case ordered Salzman to attend 10 sessions with a counselor named Mary Pepper.

So far, so good. Counseling is often ordered in messy family court cases. Can't hurt, right?

Well, it can. Especially since Pepper turned out to be one of those obnoxious evangelical proselytizers.
This New Mexico mom temporarily lost custody of
her kids because she objected to being forced to
attend religious counseling.  

When Salzman went to the first session, Pepper started blabbing on about God, reports television station KRQE in Alburquerque.

Salzman, who doesn't go for that kind of old time religion, asked the court to let her see another counselor. The court never responded.

She stopped going to Pepper because the prayers continued. She went to court again, told them about the problems, but the court said they hadn't had any problems with Pepper and to keep going.

Among the tasks Salzman had to complete were homework assignments such as, "What Is God To Me?"

But Salzman stopped, and temporarily lost all custody of her kids.

She finally returned to the sessions and endured all the God stuff just to get her kids back. But should the government be telling a non-believer to attend what amounts to church just to retain custody of her kids?

Since when do you have to be Christian to be a parent in the United States?

I'm all for Christian counseling, but only for people who want to go, and are not forced to by the government.

By the way, KRQE says Pepper held counseling sessions in municipal libraries, even though you're not allowed to conduct business there.

And Saltzman, along with many other of Pepper's clients, had to pay Pepper in cash, apparently in part because you're not supposed to do business in the library.

Hmmm. So Pepper might be deceitful, too? How Christian!!

So which is it?  Is the nation becoming anti-Christian? Or is it the other way around. I think it's time some of the most offending evangelicals ought to put a sock in it.