Friday, March 31, 2017

Latest Outrage: Tennessee Bills Teen Nearly $2,970 For Wrecking Guardrail That Killed Her

Hannah Elmers, 17, died in a Tennessee car crash involving
an unsafe guardrail. The state of Tennessee later billed
her for the wrecked guardrail, but withdrew the
bill after public outcry.
Last November, Hannah Elmers, 17, was driving her dad's 2000 Volvo down Interstate 75 near Niota, Tennesees when she somehow lost control of the vehicle, traveled into the median skidded sideways, forcing the driver's side door to hit the end of a guardrail.

As USA Today reported, instead of deflecting the car, the guardrail pierced it, killing Elmers.

This would have ended up as another terrible local tragedy, a nice young teenager dying too young.

Except Tennessee decided to make things worse. Much worse, as Hannah's dad, Steven Elmers soon learned.

As USA Today describes it:

"Four months later, Steven Elmers of Lenoir City received a $2,970 bill from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, dated February 24 and addressed to Hannah for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail at the scene of the crash. 

'I'm shocked, the audacity,' he said. 'What bothers me is that they're playing Russian roulette with people's lives. They know these devices do not perform at high speeds and in situations like my daughter's accident, but they leave them in place.'"

Wait, what?!?

It turns out, not only did Tennessee have the audacity to bill Hannah, they also know the type of guardrail they used is unsafe. And could kill other people.

Last fall, Tennessee transportation officials did decide to stop buying the type of guardrail involved in Hannah's crash, called a Lindsay X-Lite.

When a car hits the end of this type of guardrail, it's supposed to collapse like a telescope, theoretically minimizing injuries to the people in the car that hits it.

However, at high speeds, it doesn't collapse, and you get situations like Hannah's, where she crashed into it at high speeds. The stretch of Interstate where she was driving has a speed limit of 70 mph.

The state was originally going to leave existing dangerous guardrails in place, but now says they are  going to remove the remaining Lindsay X-Lite guardrails from other high speed locations in Tennessee.

They'd better. The Knoxville News-Sentinel says that since June, 2016, four people have died in Tennessee after colliding with this type of guardrail.

But what about that $2,980 bill?

A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation says the bill came from "a mistake somewhere in processing" and the department "greatly apologies for it."

Nice, but I don't trust it. How could somebody not catch this before it went out? I think the reversal and apology is more because of the bad PR that came when after the bill went out than any good intentions from the state.

By the way, the maybe unsafe other types of guardrails, made by Trinity Industries Inc. might be along highways in other states, like yours.

A whistleblower named Joshua Harman won a $663 million settlement against Trinity, after he alleged the company altered the design of one of its guardrails without getting approval from the Federal Highway Administration, the Knoxville News-Sentinel said. 

Virginia, citing the safety reasons, is removing a Trinity guardrail called ET-Plus for safety reasons. The city of Nashville, Tennessee did the same.

Adds the Knoxville News-Sentinel: 

"Trinity has since been involved in a slew of lawsuits nationwide in which crash victims alleged the unauthorized changes caused the guardrails to spear vehicles, resulting in injuries and deaths."

Hoo, boy, this company is in trouble. Let's hope any problematic guardrails made by this company get replaced before there are more tragedies.

Now Is Not The Time To Visit Atlanta, Georgia

The big fire that collapsed a major Interstate 85 bridge
in Atlanta Thursday.
That was bizarre, wasn't it?

In case you haven't seen the news, a major Interstate highway caught fire in Atlanta, Georgia Thursday and the spectacular blaze caused a bridge to collapse.

Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt, but I didn't know Interstate highways could burn.

They're saying there was a lot of PVC piping under the bridges and road bed, and that's what burned. I guess PVC was inexpensive and efficient, but in hindsight, maybe not the best material in the world.

Here's the trouble: Atlanta is the Los Angeles of the South in terms of highways. The Atlanta metro area is laced with freeways, all of them congested most of the time.

The Interstate 85 fire, including the bridge collapse, is going to be a stunner.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has wisely declared a state of emergency, since nobody is going to get anywhere in the Atlanta area until this is fixed. You can imagine the economic impacts.

Plus, you can't rebuild a major Interstate bridge in an urban area in a day. It's going to take a lot of time.

I also love and am frightened by this detail of the fire from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The fire was near a bunch of popular adult entertainment businesses, which had to close because of the dense smoke hanging over the region. The fire was also near the headquarters of the Orkin pesticide company.


Politicians from Donald Trump on down keep saying we have to sink a lot of investments into infrastructure, but they never do it.

This weird fire is one indication that maybe all these leaders should put their money - or, more accurately, taxpayer money -  where their mouths are.

I wouldn't mind seeing some of my tax money going toward road construction instead of the president's golf trips, no?


There were some technical hiccups with this news chopper view of the Interstate 85 bridge collapsing in Atlanta, but it's still pretty dramatic:

A brief, scary view of driving by the raging fire:


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Here's A Completely NEW Take On The 1980s Classic "Sledgehammer"

Postmodern Jukebox, with Noah Guthrie singing lead
here, dramatically rework the 1980s classic "Sledgehammer"
A lot of you remember that big hit in the 1980s, "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel.

It was the catchy song with the innovative, trippy dippy stop motion music video with coordinated singing fruit and dancing chicken meat.

OK, it was different, but the song and the music video was fun, you have to admit.  

I always like it, though, when somebody comes up with a completely different way to do a song, and the group Postmodern Jukebox rose to the occasion. (Postmodern Jukebox is really a musical collective that brings in different singers and performers to work with them, and then release videos as often as weekly. )

They give "Sledgehammer" a great 1950s rhythm and blues take which is just awesome. The video of the song is below.

Postmodern Jukebox got Noah Guthrie, who you might remember from "Glee," to do lead vocals.

H/T BoingBoing

Here's the video:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Races With Wolves: Canadian Woman Has An Interesting Commute

Rhonda Miller in northern Canada spotted this fellow commuter
on a highway during her commute to work. That's an
enormous wolf you see there. 
I can literally see Canada from my house, I kid you not.

And the more I hear about the way things happen in Canada, the more I want to live there.

One example: Here in America, the people are wild and the animals tend to be more normal. In Canada, the people are tame and it's the animals that tend to put on a show.

So it was when a teacher Rhonda Miller commuted down wintry Highway 3 in Canada's Arctic Northwest Territories when she unexpectedly encountered some traffic.

Miller was in the middle of nowhere, so it wasn't other cars that complicated the commute. It was wolves, notes the CBC.

Big, bad, huge, wolves.

Luckily, she was safe in her car, but these two enormous wolves were blasting down Highway 3 just as Miller was. She was trying to get to work in time. I'm not sure what the wolves were up to.

Miller said she was traveling at 40 to 50 mph and the wolves were going almost as fast.

Below is the excellent video she shot on her smart phone. The music playing on her car radio made it all seem even better. Bet your next commute to work won't be this interesting:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scary: Escalator Reverses, Speeds Up, Tries To Kill Shoppers

In an image taken from a video, a Hong Kong escalator
suddenly reverses direction and speeds up, sending
people crashing into a pile at the bottom. 
I'll take the stairs, thank you.

I'm always told to take the stairs when I want to get from one floor to another. It gives you a bit of exercise. It's healthier. Maybe you'll live longer.

An escalator in Hong Kong proved that point dramatically.

Dozens of shoppers were on a shopping mall escalator when this happened, according to Consumerist.

"In Hong Kong over the weekend, a 150-foot fall escalator abruptly reversed direction and flung screaming shoppers to the ground, injuring 18 of them.

Of course there's video, from multiple angles, because this was a terrifying event, that happened in a public place in 2017. One mall-goer happened to be taking video of the escalator before the mayhem started."

That video is at the bottom of this post.

The escalator normally moves people from the fourth to the eight floor of the mall at Langham Place in Hong Kong, Consumerist reports. When it reversed, it also picked up speed, going at least twice the speed it normally does.

The South China Morning Post reported that safety inspectors think the problem sarted with a malfunction of one of the escalator's two brakes and its non reversing mechanism.

Well, yeah, gee, that makes sense.

The escalator supposedly passed an inspection on March 23, and inspections are carried out twice a year, with routine checks once every two weeks or so.

Still, something obviously went wrong, judging from the scary video, below. Two mechanics have been arrested and charged with tampering with the escalator to make it reverse direction and speed up.

Meanwhile, I think I'll take the stairs.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lucky Or Unlucky Motorists Feel Like They Were Hit By A Ton Of Bricks Because They Were

Watch the video below to see what happened when this
truckload of bricks tipped over on top of a car.
On March 14, in Chengdu Province, China, a truck loaded with a gigantic pile of bricks couldn't stop in time at a traffic light.

The truck swerved over the curb and initially avoided the cars stopped at the light. However, the truck tipped over.

Three of the motorists dodged the resulting avalanche of bricks but one did not. As you can see in the very scary video below, a car was totally buried beneath the bricks.

The good and miraculous news is that the two people in the car buried by the bricks were quickly pulled out and did not appear to suffer serious injuries.

But nevertheless, I'm sure they felt like they were hit by a ton of bricks.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Saddest Loser In the Trumpcare Debacle. Plus, Some Premature Partying

This man in the White House is trying to be
intimidating. It ain't working 
When there's a train wreck, I often like to look for the most tragic piece of the disaster.

With the collapse of Trump's "repeal and replace Obamacare idiocy, I nominate Steve Bannon.

No, I don't have any sympathy for him, but if news reports are right, he's turned into the picture of pathetic.

A lot of these reports are not wonderfully sourced, so I don't trust them completely, but the descriptions of Bannon during this debacle are striking.

Bannon fancies himself a tough guy, the authoritarian boss who gets things done. He can bully anyone into submission, and he will push until he gets his way. Or so he thinks.

The web site Axios reported that hardline conservative Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus went to the White House as the Trump administration lobbied them to go along with the Obamacare repeal.

Bannon reportedly told the Congressmen: "Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill."


If anything, such attemps at bullying probably prompted the GOPers to dig in their heels against the bill.

Axios said one of the Congressmen replied to Bannon: "You know, the last time someone ordered me to do something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn't listen to him, either."

Now, apparently, the recalcitrant Republicans are on Bannon's "shit list."

Oooh! A shit list! How scary!

Apparently, the Republicans against Trumpcare are going to face he wrath of Bannon and Trump, but the pair have repeatedly proven they are paper tigers, so there's that.

There's nothing more laughable and silly than a bully trying to bully people who aren't afraid of the bully.

Meanwhile, there was a little bit of premature celebrating among some Republicans, particularly a GOP super PAC, which launched television ads Friday evening encouraging viewers to thank their Republican reps for killing Obamacare.


The ads ran during "March Madness" NCAA college basketball tournament games Friday, so there were a lot of viewers to see it.

The ads said in part, according to The Hill: 

"'Republicans are keeping their promise, with a new plan for better health care,' one of the American Action Network advertisements said. 'Thank (California) Congressman Darrell Issa for keeping his promise and replacing the Affordable Care Act with the better healthcare you deserve."

Or not.

Here's the ad:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trump IS Running America Like A Business

Trump got into the Oval Office in part because people wanted
to have the government run like a business. Trump, and many
of the people who voted for him, are discovering why this
method isn't such a good idea.
Frustrated with high taxes and government waste, a lot of people tell us they're sick of the way Washington is run. 

Why can't the government be run more like a business?

That's why a lot of people voted for Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Well, I'm pleased displeased to report that the United States government is being run exactly like a business.  Not a very well run business, mind you, but a business.

I hope you're happy

Traditionally, western democracies are run in such a way that everyone is in this together. You have rights - voting, free speech, government services, etc - and you have responsibilities.  You vote, pay your taxes, don't violate the laws and you contribute to society.

A business is different. If you're running a business, you try to maximize profits. And you shed the parts of your business that are not making money. Everything is dispensible. Including people. It's cold, dispassionate decision making.

So let's look at how things are going in our government, which really does seem to be running like a business now that Trump, Mr. "Art of the Deal" is running the show.

The process has been a mess, with deals and counterdeals and doubts and recriminations. This Washington DC "corporate board room" is admittably pretty dysfunctional.

The bottom line is they were looking at repealing Obamacare and replacing it with....something else.

This something else would mean that people who are poor, elderly, sick, don't work are denied health coverage.

Oh, I know the GOP will tell you that the free market will take care of these people, that they'll get insurance one way or another.

That's just PR - another important part of running a business.

But we have to deal with reality. Let's face it: The poor, elderly, sick, disabled, etc. are not profitable.

They don't really have much in the way of incomes. Which means there's no money they can be cheated out of . They're expensive, what with all those health issues. Why put up with such a losing part of the corporaton?

So cut them off. Without health insurance and any other social net kind of protection, they'll die off earlier. They'll go away. They won't be a burden on the bottom line. Write 'em off!

Of course you'll never hear the likes of Paul Ryan put things in those terms. Bad PR. (See above) Most people don't have this cold, calculating attitude. But some of the most successful corporate people do, and if some people die in the process that's just business. Gotta make a profit!

When you're running a business you've got to protect yourself from competition. You don't want some frisky upstart to screw up your business model.

That's probably a good share of why the EPA is so anti-environmental, why the EPA chief denies climate change, and the Secretary of State is an oil executive.

There's all those entrenched oil companies making oodles of money, and that could be threatened by those damn climate change activists and alternative energy upstart companies.

What if somehow, the products made by the clean energy companies become wildly popular, inexpensive and easy to use?

Those oil companies would be stuck with little income and tons of oil sitting "uselessly" in the ground.

With Trump being friendly and cooperative, and probably an investor in oil, why not use the White House as a business model to make sure those upstart competitors don't siphon profits away?

Secretiveness is a hallmark of running a business. You don't want competitors or regulators finding out what you're doing. If they do, they'll take advantage.ll

Speaking of regulations, rulemaking is why government shouldn't be run like a business.

Most of the time, businesses are regulated by laws and regulation that prevent, say, cheating customers, polluting the atmosphere, swindling stockholders, that kind of thing.

Regulations cost money. That's why the Republicans are (seriously!) talking about getting rid of things like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education.

Sure, that's politicians giving a hand to their business constitutents, but it benefits them, too. (See: campaign contributions.)

Plus, the Trump administration is full of people from industries and business, including Trump himself, who will personally financially benefit from fewer regulations.

Abolishing the Education Department would really be a win for the Corporate White House. Uneducated people, which is what they want, tend not to ask critical questions, or even know which questions to ask.

Again, if some of the rest of us suffer because of pollution problems, lack of education or some other anti-regulation effect, too bad. We should just shut up and allow these corporate titans to make their billions.

Us 99 percenters are dispensable, apparently.

It's turning out to be hard, though to run the United States government like a business. We saw that with the imploded attempt to get rid of Obamacare, which, as noted above, would have made it impossible for millions of us to get health insurance.

Activist stockholders can be annoying to the Corporate Titans, but voters in a democracy are even "worse."

As Congressional Republicans worked to abolish Obamacare, voters screamed and hollored and lobbied and harassed the politicans who would do them harm in the name of personal profits.

Betray voters like this and a politician might find himself or herself eventually out of a job. Plus that pesky judicial system occasionally stymies the corporate profit making machine in government by pointing out that some of what they're doing is unconstitutional.

I guess the Constitution is a hinderance to unbridled profit taking in government.

Oh well.

The health care "overhaul" turned into an embarrasing disaster for the "businesslike" GOP that should have known better.

Corporate chiefs like Trump and his minions are used to barking orders and getting what they want.

Trump isn't as powerful as he thinks he is. We all know his thin skin and snowflake like insecurity makes him weak.

And, we hope, he's beginning to prove he's no match for a constitutional Republic.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Elmo Gets Fired In Saddest Parody Video Ever

In a sad parody video, Elmo gets fired because of Trump
anti-education, pro-war budget cuts
The other day, I waxed enthusiastic about a new character on Sesame Street, the little redheaded girl named Julia, who has autism.  

What I didn't feel like talking about at the time was the budget cuts that could afflict public television.

As we know, President Donald Trump thinks war is terrific and education is worthless.

It takes a dumb person to think that, and there you go.

The parody video, which you can see at the bottom of this post, imagines the beloved Elmo from Sesame Street being laid off because of the Trump budget cuts.

Elmo, like anyone in this situation, is devastated. He's worked at Sesame Street for over 30 years. Doesn't that mean anything? Not in Trump world.

Elmo says he has a pre-existing condition. How will he get health care? Well he could get Obamacare, until that's repealed pretty soon.

How will Elmo make a living? Well, he could entertain people in Times Square for tips. Like that's a good way to make a living.

And, keeping with the ruthlessness of Trump and his Congressional minions, the video ends with the budget cuts stripping Elmo of his ability to make any kind of living, his dignity, and literally what he is.

Here's the video, to help coax you into supporting public broadcasting:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Streetcar Named Stupidity On "Wheel Of Fortune"

How would you solve this "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle?
One guy didn't do it the way you'd expect.
Where Jeff and I live, we religiously watch the game show "Jeopardy" when it comes on at 7 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., "Jeopardy" ends, and NBC moves on to air "Wheel of Fortune."

We're not fans of "Wheel of Fortune" so we switch to something more intellectually stimulating - old reruns of "The Big Bang Theory."

That's totally not saying much, I agree, but what happened on "Wheel of Fortune" the other night tells me not everybody who plays that game is the brightest bulb in the room.

Apparently, it got to the point where the all but one letters in a familiar phrase had been filled in.

It looked like this "A STREETCAR NA_ED DESIRE"

Pretty much everyone I know - and I'm being Captain Obvious here - would have guessed that the missing letter was "M" and would solve the puzzle by saying, "A Streetcar Named Desire."

But, uh-uh, contestant Kevin, given his chance to win the Big Prize, guessed the missing letter was "K"

"A Streetcar Naked Desire"?

Kevin was probably thinking of some bad 1970s porno movie, I don't know.

The play "A Streetcar Named Desire," by Tennessee Williams is, of course, an American classic, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a tour de force of dialogue, creativity and emotion.

A Streetcar Naked Desire - not so much.

Given the intellectual firepower of "Wheel of Fortune," host Pat Sajak said he'd rather see the play invented by Kevin that the Tennessee Williams play.

Whatever, Pat.

Luckily, fellow contestant Lisa swooped in with the correct answer, and brought us back to "named," not "naked."


Naturally, Kevin's flub lit up social media.

A number of people said either Kevin needs a lot of drinks after this performance or viewers do. I would say both.

Here's the unfortunate video from "Wheel of Fortune."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Appreciating Chuck Barris, Of Gong Show Fame - One Of World's Most Unique Characters

Chuck Barris died this week at the age of 87. He was
lowbrow, for sure, and I'm eternally grateful to him for that
Word arrived this morning that Chuck Barris, best known as the emcee of the very, very lowbrow 1970s talent contest television program "The Gong Show" has died at the age of 87.

I was a teenager when "The Gong Show" was on, so it fit my mentality perfectly. It was cruel, gaudy, annoying, anti-intellectual, druggy, stupid and a complete waste of time

In other words, perfect.

Most of the acts on "The Gong Show" were amateur, and many were not very good, to say the least.

One act involved two young women eating Popsicles very suggestively, which won them gongs, except of course from Jaye P Morgan, the, shall we say, sexually free regular judge on the program.

Panelist Phillis Diller gave the "PopsicleTwins" as they were called a score of zero on a scale of 0-10, but Jaye P Morgan gave them a 10, saying, "Do you know that's the way I started?"

Yeah, OK. And the show was really that tacky.

(For those who are somehow unfamiliar with the wonders of "The Gong Show," if a judge didn't like an act and couldn't bear watching it anymore, he or she would strike a big gong behind the panel, thus ending the act.

"The Gong Show" was impeccably chaotic. It was obvious that Barris, and many of the judges, were on something, and that something wasn't just a natural good mood. We're talking pharmaceuticals, folks!

By the way, there were some interesting judges on "The Gong Show," including David Letterman before he got really famous. Steve Martin played the banjo on the program. The band Oingo Boingo made a bizarre appearance.

Mare Winningham was on the show, operating under an alias on The Gong Show, singing at age 16. Pee-wee Herman, before he was Pee-wee Herman performed on the show as part of a jazzy duo called Suave and Debonair.

As Billboard reports, other celebrity judges that somehow got roped into doing the show included June Allyson, Milton Berle, Ruth Buzzi, Adrienne Barbeau, Dione Warwick, Sarah Vaughn, Joan Rivers, Tony Randall, Johnny Paycheck, Martin Mull, Wolfman Jack and Peter Lawford.

This is probably the reason we had all these luminaries on "The Gong Show": Whether you admit it or not, all of us like to wallow, to slum it from time to time. It's an opportunity to let your guard down, to not think, to take a break from always burnishing your image.

Chuck Barris understood this, which is why he had so many unlikely successes in life. And made us happy.

Very little of what Barris did with his life Changed History, but his life added plenty of color to plenty of other peoples' lives. Those were gaudy colors, and that was the point.

Barris kept popping up in American pop culture in random ways. He was kind of a smart, goofy, shameless but still loveable Forrest Gump.

As the New York Times reports, Barris first turned up as a guy to babysit a young ABC star named Dick Clark to keep him out of trouble during the Payola Scandal in the 1950s. (Though the Times reported that Barris mostly spent his time on that job drawing on pads of paper.)

The scandal involved the manufacture of radio hits by paying for radio play. 

Barris then wrote  the 1962 fizzy pop song "Palisades Park", performed by Freddy Cannon.

By 1965, Barris hit his glorious tackiness stride by created the television game show "The Dating Game," in which a bachelor or bachlorett would choose a date based on answers of three possible suiters hidden behind a screen.

After that, Barris created the equally lowbrow "The Newlywed Game," that beautifully icky game show that had newly-married couples test how in tune they really were with each other.

Then, in the mid-1970s, of course came "The Gong Show," which echoes on television today.

As the New York Times put it:

"The ghost of "The Gong Show" is evident in numerous reality-television shows of more recent vintage - the early rounds of any given season of  "American Idol", for instance."

See? Barris was a visionary of sorts.

New episode of "The Gong Show" were only produced for about two years, but the party lived on in syndication.

Barris faded from the scene a bit until he wrote the book, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" in 1984 where he claimed that in addition to his being a game show king, he was also an assassin for the CIA.

Now, that seems completely improbable, but with Barris, you have to wonder. Was he?  Barris never gave a straight answer, but the CIA says Barris had nothing to do with them. But you never know.   Just another bizarre chapter in an odd life

Nevertheless, a movie based on the book became a smash hit movie directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris.

He went on to write several more books in recent years.

The New York Times said Barris would have preferred to be rememberd as an author, but he knew - correctly - that he'd be remembered differently.

Barris said: "I think on my tombstone it's just going to say, 'Gonged at last,' and I'm stuck with that."

I suppose Barris can be partly blamed for the so-called dumbing of the American mind.

However, as I said, he gave us all many welcome chances to go slumming in the most kitschy, strange and dim resources of American culture.

My low brows are very low withiBarris' legacy.

And I'm eternally grateful to him for that.

To give you a refresher course on how delightful, stupidly wonderful "The Gong Show" was, here's a few clips.

Here, Barris, and the judges, are particularly taken by an act called "The Worms," so much so, that Barris kept demanding encore performances:

Next, here's juggler Hillary Carlip on "The Gong Show" performing a glorious, bad physical pun routine that still has me laughing out loud. (This might be my favorite Gong Show clip.)

And here's that "Popsicle Girls" clip, the one I mentioned in the narrative. It's the most cringe-worthy thing I've seen in ages. Also, TOTALLY NSFW

Apparently, God Is A Malicious Polluter Of Water

This Pennsylvania Congress Creature thinks God
is a malicious polluter of Chesapeake Bay 
Some GOP Congress Creatures on a mission to roll back environmental regulations, have apparently struck upon a foolproof argument in their favor.

Here it is: God is the real polluter here, and how in the world can you regulate God?

At least that's the tactic Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania used during a town hall meeting last weekend.

One constituent asked whether we need a stronger Environmental Protection Agency, not a weaker one as Republicans are proposing.

Perry didn't directly answer that question, but spoke of the Chesapeake Bay strategy, regulations meant to clean up Chesapeake Bay, and how he said they were "forced on" states like Pennsylvania and how unfair that all was.

Then Perry said this:

"And by the way, some violators  - if you believe in, if you're spitual and you believe in God - one of the violators was God, because the forests were providing a certain amount of nitrates and phophates to the Chesapeake Bay."

As you can imagine, as reported in the Huffington Post, the crowd at the town hall could be heard shouting in disbelief at that remark. You can hear one guy say, "Oh, come on!" The video is at the bottom of this post.

For the record, some nitrates and phosphates are indeed naturally occuring substances, but most of the phosphates and such messing up Chesapeake Bay are from cities, farm runoff and other pollution sources.

But we can't regulate those! That would be like telling God what to do!

Here's the video of that town hall meeting:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Immediately Liked Julia, Sesame Street's New Character. Here's Why

Julia, a muppet with autism, will join the cast of
"Sesame Street" on April 10. Welcome, Julia!
Ever since I can remember, I knew I was a little lot different.

When I was three, four, five years ago, I didn't understand it. What kid at that age would?

As I got older, I understood why I was different. I'm gay and have ADHD. 

None of that is really a problem. Only an ignoramous would care, or criticize me for being gay. Having ADHD is just a part of me. It's both a strength and a weakness, or maybe neither.  It's just there.

Everybody is different, but if you're too different, that could be a problem. At least for a few people.

Little kids -toddlers, the pre-school crowd, - really aren't worried at all about who's different and why.

As kids get older, they learn from adults, some of whom aren't as emotionally intelligent as young children. Some  people "learn" that gay people are perverts. People with ADHD are lazy, undisciplined, selfish, say some people. They're wrong of course, but you  have to deal with them.

However, everybody who's different and has watched "Sesame Street" gets an early education on why it's important to celebrate our differences, and see them as strengths, as long as you're strong enough to understand that as you get older.

A few people will not like you as you get older if you are "different."  But Sesame Street gives you the foundation to resist that.

Even at my advanced age - 54 - the welcoming, inclusive vibe of Sesame Street, which I watched religiously as a little kid, helps me out. In my weak, low self-confident moments, I  remember that friendly, gentle cast of characters, both humans and muppets, and my mental balance rights itself.

All this is why I love the fact that "Sesame Street" is introducing a new muppet, a little four year old girl named Julia.

Julia is a bright girl with, autism. Any youngster who has questions about why Julia is like she is, thinks like she does, is because she is indeed different.

Different here doesn't mean bad, or lesser, or weak.

Here's how NPR describes Julia:

"She's a shy and winsome four-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say..

It can be hard to get Julia's attention. Big Bird has to repeat himself to get her to listen, for example. And she sees things where other's don't. 'That's just Julia being Julia,' Abby said."

Julia began last year as a character in Sesame's books and digital offerings, NPR said. She was part of a campaign called "See Amazing In All Children,'" which gives children with autism and their families Julia - somebody to identify with. Julia also helps people without autism to understand people who do have it.

More from NPR:

"Sherrie Westin, an executive vice-president at Sesame Workshop who oversaw the initiative, said the campaign quickly struck a chord.

'One of my favorite stories is a mother who said that she used the book to explain to her child that she had autism like Julia,' Westin said, shaking her head slightly as she teared up. 'this became the tool for her to have a conversation with her five-year-old daughter.

And you'll love this: At the end her daughter said, 'So I'm amazing too, right''"

You betcha!

It's so nice to see the cast of Sesame Street grow like this. We're all different and not enough people celebrate that fact.

Maybe it's time for me to start watching the show again. Hell, the way things are going these days, maybe everybody should be watching "Sesame Street."

It might do us all good. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

What If A Woman Had Been That Expert Interrupted By The Kids On BBC

A scene from a parody of that famous Korean expert BBC
interview with interrupting kids if a woman had been the expert
Here, she defuses a bomb. 
Much  has been made of that expert on Korean politics who was interrupted by his kids while giving a policy interview with the BBC a few weeks back.

The kids came in during the Skype interview and the expert's wife frantically came in and scooted the kids out of the room while the BBC interview continued.

The viral video was funny, in that both the BBC reporter and the Korea expert unflappably continued the interview.

A nearly-as-viral video has surfaced that imagines how things would have worked out had the expert on Korean been a woman and how she would have managed various interruptions.

In the parody, the woman calmly explains the Korean political crisis to a BBC reporter while attending to the kids, cooking a turkey, cleaning a toilet, even defusing a bomb.

I think some busy women, and the men in their lives might relate:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Worst Ever Song In Support Of A Supreme Court Nominee Ever

This painful chorus, led by whack job Eugene
Delgaudio, is delightfully painful as hell.
You'll never be able to un-hear and un-see the video at the bottom of this post.

But I gotta tell you. Sometimes intense pain is sometimes entertaining. This is one of those times.

There's a whack job from Virginia named Eugene Delgaudio likes Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.  

OK, that's not all that weird. Lots of people like Gorsuch.

Delgaudio has taken things one step further, though, by giving us this video in which he leads the "Confirm Gorsuch Chorus" in a song - I can't believe this is true - to the tune of "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" from "The Sound of Music."

It's unique, I'll give them that. I've never heard anything quite like it. The chorus is so off-key that it sounds like tornado sirens on heroin. Except worse.

Of course, Delgaudio is quite the character anyway. Wildly anti-gay, he comes up with some of the best stuff, I swear to God.

One of my favorite pieces of gloriously awful fiction was a fundraising letter Delgaudio put out in 2010.  He says this story is true, but my, what prose!

"One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I'd heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses. 

Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined. 

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling. My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands more boxes were already loaded on the tractor trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press. 

Suddenly, a dark-haired man screeched, 'Delgaudio, what are you doing here/' Dozens of men began moving toward me. I'd been recognized.

As I retreated to my car the man chortled, 'This time, Delgaudio, we can't lose.'"

Phew! Not with that bit of "writing" they can't.

Delgaudio also insists that the fact that  gay people got marriage  and other rights in recent years will all go around raping and murdering little boys and the courts will rule that such actions are OK because the homosexual agenda people say so.

Yeah, he's that type of guy.

But now, he's turned his attention to Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch. I'm not sure Gosuch appreciates the support from Delgaudio and his "chorus," but like everything Delgaudio does, it is something to behold.

Here's the video, if you can stand it:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Trump Troll Who Induced Epileptic Seizure On Journalist Arrested

Journalist Kurt Eichenwald was attacked via a seizure-
inducing strobe light via the internet last December.
The alleged attacker was arrested Friday. 
Back in late December, I talked about a journalist named Kurt Eichenwald, who's been tough on Donald Trump for a long time and also happens to have epilepsy

The form of epilepsy Eichenwald has can result in grand mal seizures trigged by certain types of light patterns.

So, some of the horrible people who are the most ardent Trump supporters sent him emails with strobe lights that trigger the seizures. 

Yeah, real cool. You don't like what somebody is saying about Trump? Make his illness worse, dangerous or even fatal.

Eichenwald's seizure wasn't just a momentary event. It was genuinely scary.  After the seizure, he was incapacitated for several days, lost feeling in his left hand and had trouble speaking for several weeks, reports the New York Times.

Trump is cruel, so are some of his followers. Assholes, to be honest.

Eichenwald fortunately fought back and he contacted the FBI about the people who sent him these emails.

I'm happy to report there's finally been one arrest in this case.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the FBI arrested John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Maryland, on Friday in Maryland.

Few other details of the arrest were immediately available.

Eichenwald tweeted that Rivello faces federal charges and would be indicted by the Dallas (Texas) District Attorney in the coming days.

According to The Verge:

"(Rivello).....allegedly sent a message to Eichenwal saying, 'You deserve a seizure for your post.' That message included the strobe. 

After pursuing a search warrant, police say they found Twitter direct messages in which Rivello discussed Eichenwald and said he hoped his message would send him into a seizure and that he was waiting to see if the writer dies. 

He additionally had a screenshot of a Wikipedia page for Eichenwald in which he altered it to say that the victim died on December, 16, 2016 (the day after he sent the strobe.)"

If all this is true, I hope they make an example out of Rivello. He needs to be in jail for a long, long time.  He could face up to 10 years in prison for the charges against him now, but people rarely serve the maximum sentence.

I also can't wait to learn more details about him.  Rivello is probably a real piece of work.

Rivello is about to be pilloried in the court of public opinion, that's for sure. It'll probably hurt him more than the seizure he induced on Eichenwald.


Eichenwald said he has forwarded information about 40 other people who have sent him the the strobe light emails to the FBI and other arrests are possible.

I'm sorry to say this, but there is an awful subset of Trump supporters who are both stupid and mean, which isn't a good combination.

Part of the resistance against Trump has to include calling out these rank and file idiots, to humiilate them and force them back under the rocks from which they came.

It's OK to be a fan of Trump. It's not OK to physically attack those who aren't Trump fans  There's a few people out there that don't know the difference.  As Trump himself would tweet, Sad!

There are consequences for that awful crew of wannabe fascists out there.

Friday, March 17, 2017

New Culture Of Denying Refugees Into U.S. Alive And Well In Vermont

Rutland, Vermont just said no to Syrian refugees,
following the lead of Donald Trump 
My hometown of Rutland, Vermont has been getting national attention recently over the intense debate there over whether to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in that small city.

Vermont has welcomed refugees from a variety of places over the past few decades, but as the Trump crackdown on refugees continues, it's affecting Vermont in a lot of ways.

If events this month prove anything, Vermont might be moving away from its embrace of refugees, too.

The debate over refugees has been pretty loud in Rutland right from the start. Vermont is generally quite liberal, but Rutland is kind of on the conservative side, at least by Vermont standards.

So the idea of Syrian refugees arriving there has gotten both lots of support, and lots of opposition.

Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras had aggressively championed the arrival of Syrian refugees in his city.

Make that former mayor.

Louras  was up for re-election on March 7 - Town Meeting Day - and his principal opposition came from David Allaire, a member of Rutland's Board of Alderman, who was against settling refugees in Rutland.

Allaire trounced Louras in the election. Allaire got 51 percent of the vote to Louras' 34 percent. Other candidates got small margins.

"I got smoked. Clearly I got smoked....It was a good old-fashioned political drubbing," Louras admitted to VTDigger, a Vermont news site. 

Part of Louras' problem was he never recovered from the fact that he was not particularly forthcoming to the public when the deal to bring Syrian refugees was being hashed out early last year.

But I'm convinced, and many others are, too, that just the idea of Syrian refugees in Rutland made many Rutland residents squeamish, to say the least.

Louras also told VTDigger:

"I think it just demonstrates that Rutland is still, as I said during the campaign and even before the campaign, Rutland is still a microcosm for the national conversation on refugees and immigration. I think the vote reflects that."

That Rutland is a microcosm, as Louras suggested, has certainly attracted plenty of national attention.

Breitbart, apparently Trump's favorite news source crowed:

"While Vermont is generally a refugee-welcoming state, the idea of dumping 100 Syrian refugees into this small city in Vermont that is already struggling economically seemed to defy common sense and logic, even to an area that preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump."

Slate, on the other hand, has a completely different take on what's going on in Rutland, and what happened to Louras.

Says Slate:

"The city of Rutland, which went for Clinton by about 13 points, is 96 percent white. Its population is both aging and shrinking - down to 15,824 in the latest American Community Survey estimate from more than 19,000 in 1970. 

In this, too, it represents America: Cites and towns without immigrants are shrinking. Those that take them are growing. This is true even in the quintessential Sun Belt boomtown Houston, whose white population has dropped by 300,000 residents since 1980, even as total population grew by 500,000. It is certainly true of older cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. 

And it's true of small towns, which increasingly face a choice: stay white and wither, or get diverse and grow. 

Rutland is taking the former path."

Which is too bad. As a Rutland County native, this area of Vermont could have a lot going for it. It'll never be the Vermont manufacturing and railroad hub it was during the early 20th century. But, with the rise of rural tourism and arts, a resurgent back to the land movement of sorts, and an internet age where a creative economy can rise, Rutland has potential.

Rutland also doesn't have to look far away to see how an influx of refugees affected another small Vermont city: Winooski.

A couple of decades ago, Winooski was a down-and-out community on the northern border of Burlington, which is Vermont's largest city.

A thriving textile industry in the early 20th century had died out, just as a marble quarrying and railroad industry in Rutland did the same at about the same time.

Frankly, Winooski was a low-income mess, a place nobody wanted to go to. It was a place Burlington commuters got through as quickly as they could to reach their more upper crust suburban homes in places like Colchester, Essex and Jericho.

Then Winooski started welcoming refugees from all over the world. It was at first an economic decision: The Vermont Refugee Resettlement program figured they could house refugees in Winooski, because the bad economy meant rental prices were low.

And so they came. From Vietnam. Serbia. Bhutan, Nepal. Somalia. Other places.

I won't say this created a utopia. The Winooski school system had to struggle with a huge influx of students who had to learn English as a second language. That was expensive, too. There were cultural differences. Fears that the immigrants would take away jobs from people who had lived in Winooski for decades.

But a funny thing happened.  Winooski turned......vibrant.

Oh sure, part of it was because of a big downtown redevelopment project hatched by a visionary City Council and some developers.

However, much of Winooski's new prosperity came from those refugees. I hate to traffick in stereotypes, but many immigrants tend to be entreprenurial. Interesting restaurants, shops and events sprouted in Winooski.

That attracted interest, and other businesses arrived. Most of them were created by locals who are not refugees, like this really cool Winooski barber shop I now frequent. Other businesses opened because of newer refugees.

OK, Winooski, may have a few too many hipsters nowadays, but that's a lot better than the doldrums the community was in years ago.

Winooski is cool. Rutland could be cool, too.

People are afraid of change, that's just human nature. Plus, we shouldn't change things just for the sake of change.

Sometimes, though, we have to overcome our fears.

Progress in Rutland is stalled now, because of anti-immigrant sentiment both locally and nationally.

As National Public Radio reported, two Syrian refugee family settled in Rutland before Trump shut down that program and before Allaire became mayor.

To be sure, many Rutlanders welcome the refugees.

Says NPR:

"Speaking through an interpreter this week, members ofone family said they felt relieved to be in Vermont. 'At first, we came her and we were surprised bythe very, very warm welcme by the people of Rutland,' one Syrian said. 'The mayor, our caseworker, our host family, all came and welcomed us, and since then, it never stopped, and people have just welcomed us and helped in every way."

That's one part of Rutland. One part of our nation. The ones ready to judge on a newcomer's character, not background.

The other Rutland, the other nation, cowers in fear. Shut the door, and lock us inside, safe from the world.

But that just leaves us more unsafe. What we don't know CAN hurt us, much more than the risks we do know about.

Of course we shouldn't let in everyone and anyone into the United States. We have a long, long history of both embracing and combating immigrants.

It seems we do better durung times when we welome people from other countries.

Yes, vet the hell out of all would-be refugees to the United States. Yes, we don't need or want a stampede of millions of immigrants all at once.

But let's leave the door cracked open, shall we? The nation we save might be our own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pentatonix's Version Of "Imagine" Heals A News-Wounded Soul

Pentatonix performs a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine"
that soothes a soul made raw by watching too much news.
Cooped up by a large 30-inch deep snowstorm that buried my town here in Vermont, I've been watching even more news shows than I usually do - which is a lot to begin with.

The news these days can be soul-sucking: All the cruelty, scandals, nastiness, pettiness that seems to be a big growth industry can get to you.

Makes you want to dive into one of the giant snow banks outside and abandon this world.

So, I was pleased to find the new song and video by Pentatonix, the famed (mostly) a cappella group.

They do a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" which feels totally needed right now.

I'm being all Kumbaya by liking this song, and Pentatnonix is probably being all Kumbaya by performing it, and exchanging warm "humanity" placards in their music video.

Still, I can't resist.

So here it is. Hope it helps:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jack Russell Dog Fails At Dog Competition But Wins At Life

Olly the Jack Russell terrier suffers a face plant during the Crofts
Dog Show skills competition, but who cares? He had the
time of his life, and delighted all of us. 
The recent Crufts Dog Show highlighted the discipline and agility of plenty of dogs

One dog, however, wasn't so disciplined, but gawd what a delight!

Olly he Jack Russell terrier really seemed to be having the time of his life at Crufts as he raced around the course, randomly performing some tricks, running in circles at other times.

During one leap, he landed with a a nasty face plant, but got right back up and gleefully ran around some more.

He didn't win, but he sure delighted the crowd. I love how happy he makes the announcer sound as he did the play by play.

Olly didn't win the competition, no sir. But he won all our hearts and he's winning the game of life.  We could all learn some lessons from Olly.


Monday, March 13, 2017

This Company REALLY Hasn't Gotten The Hang Of PR

JetSmarter might be a decent company, but their
PR department sure needs work. 
When I worked in journalism, I got pitches all the time from companies who want to get exposure for their products and services.

Sometimes the pitches were helpful, sometimes not. A few prompted me to write stories about the companies, sometimes I would run screaming out of the room the PR pitch was so bad.

The following has to be the worst effort at trying to get a publication to write a story.

A website called The Verge not along ago got a note from an outfit called JetSmarter, a company thats been called the "Uber for Private jets."

JetSmarter offered a Verge reporter a demonstration of its service, involving a round-trip light in the United States, in exchange for what The Verge says was a demand for uncritical puff piece with the following demands from JetSmarter:

"Upon the execution of this Agreement, Journalist shall provide Company with a credit card and a copy of an ID of the credit card holder ("Credit Card") and shall authorize Company to charge the Credit Card in the amount of $2,000 should (i) Journalist cancel the trip on the date of departure of the outbound flight or in the event that Journalist fails to arrive at the departure location at the scheduled departure time or other unforeseen delays or (ii) in the event Journalist fails to post the article described above on the first page of this agreement."

In other words, if The Verge took on this story, they'd have to pay $2,000 if a glowing puff piece about JetSmarter "within 5 business days."

Whoever at JetSmarter came up with this has NO idea what he or she is doing. The best way to NOT get a puff piece is to do sometthing like this. Instead, you get negative coverage and mockery, which is what The Verge and, now,  me are doing.

Also, is JetSmarter too cheap to release promotional material themselves? They wanted a journalist to do the work for them, so they wouldn't have to pay anything?

PR is all about selling, flattery, relationships and trying to find win-win situations. Bullying like JetSmarter did the absolute opposite of that.

To state the obvious, The Verge chose not to write the puff piece, but instead wrote a slam against JetSmarter that I'm using as a basis for this post

Time to get a new public relations department, guys.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Seems Like Trump Administration Doesn't Want Anybody Who's Not White Into The Country

Manpreet Kooner with her fiance. She recently wanted to take
a one-day trip from Canada to a Vermont spa, but was turned
away at the border, possibly because of her race.
I keep hearing all these disturbing reports of border patrol agents not letting people in this country based just on the color of their skin.  

And that's no matter how safe or unsafe or legal they might be.

Some of this is happening close to home, as I live near the Canadian border in Vermont.

One of the more disturbing incidents occured at the Highgate Springs, Vermont border crossing, which is just a 10 minute drive up the road from my house.

Recently, a Canadian woman from the Montreal area with a Canadian passport tried to get across the border into the United States via Highgate Springs because she was taking a day trip to go to a Vermont spa.

Manpreet Kooner, 30, was born in Canada to Indian parents who had become Canadian citizens. Kooner has always lived in Canada. She has a good job in a science lab at a local college and has no criminal history.

So what's the harm in letting Kooner into Vermont to get her nails done or whatever.?

Kooner, with her Indian heritage, has darker skin than the two white friends she was with when she tried to cross the border into Vermont Sunday, says the Canadian broadcaster CBC.

U.S. Border Patrol was going to let her white friends through, but they held Kooner for six hours. She got no explanation why, and the border patrol isn't talking. Border agents said they don't about individual cases.

A statement from the Border Patrol adopted a policy in 2014 that "prohibits the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances."

Looks like that policy is out the window. CBC said Kooner told them one of the border agents told her, 'I know you may feel like you've been Trumped,' in reference to the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Kooner said the problems started in December when she tried to enter to the United States, and was subject to a random check, which happens to all of us sometimes.

This time the border agents noted Kooner was stopped in December, though there were no red flags in her file, CBC said. 

On Sunday, in addition to being detained for six hours, Kooner was photographed, fingerprinted and told to sign a document withdrawing her application to go into the United States.

She was also given confusing advice to go to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa to get a visa to enter the United States in the future, but she was told by them to go to U.S Customs and Border Patrol.'

In other words, Kooner has dark skin. Stay the hell out of the United States.

At least it seems that way.

So, if Kooner, a Canadian citizen, born in Canada, with no criminal record, with a good job, no red flags, wants to enter the United States briefly as a tourist and is barred, what about other people?

What if, unlike Kooner, somebody is a Muslim with no criminal record who wants to enter the United States from Canada? There area already plenty of reports of that kind of thing going on.

Draw it to its logical conclusion, do the Trumpsters want only white English speaking people to enter the United States, even as tourists? That seems pretty limiting doesn't it?

I guess there's a crowd of Trumpsters out there who really want to turn us into a whites-only Fortress America.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

If You Love To Party, Get Elected In Rhode Island

Is this the Rhode Island legislative building or a big
party spot. Some people wonder. 
Some jobs are more.....festive than others.

Take the Rhode Island legislature.

One freshman lawmaker there says she was stunned to see how much boozing goes on there.

According to Vice and numerous other media outlets, newly-elected Providence Democrat Rep. Moira Walsh said liquor cabinets are always full at the Rhode Island Statehouse and there's plenty of moments that break out into parties.

Walsh mentioned this not long about as a guest on WPRO News Talk 99.7 radio. She said:

"I am probably gonna get in a lot of trouble for saying this, but the drinking, it is drinking that blows my mind. You cannot operate a motor ehicle when you've had two beers, but you can make laws that affect people's lives forever when you're half in the bag? That's outrageous."

Of course, the drinkers legislators in Rhode Island were outraged by Walsh's outrage, which forced her to backtrack some.

She later "clarified" her comments and said Rhode Island House members were not drinking during hearings or before votes, but afterwards, such as at frequent fundraiser cocktail parties.

Earlier on the WPRO show, Walsh had said that legislators kept filing cabinets full of alcohol. "Dude, they put shots on our desk for the Dominican Republic day and we all just did shots on the floor."

Other lawmakers dismissed the idea that the Rhode Island legislature was one big party boat.

Says Vice:

"House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi told The Providence Journal that he has never seen the behavior Walsh described in his five years as a representative and noted that floor sessions and many committee meetings are taped for the public to watch. 

With the media present, Shekarchi believes if they saw something amiss they would have reported it."

On the record, at least, other lawmakers agreed with Shekarchi. One, Rep. Patricia Serpa condescendingly said of Walsh: "It's cldarly again an inexperienced legislator who doesn't understan. And I forgive her for that."

How magnanimous!

I can't imagine Rhode Island's legislature is the only one with an (alleged!) drinking habit. The Vice article goes on to note that for a time, the California legislators were given free rides home from work to prevent drunken driving arrests.

However, that practice was abandoned a couple years ago so that lawmakers would somehow regain the trust of the public.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Juggling College Student Proves He Wasn't Driving Drunk

Police dash cam video shows this driver proving beyond a
shadow of a doubt he wasn't drinking and driving by
putting on a juggling demonstration. 
You know the police do this all the time.

They see a young man, driving slowly late at night, with a brake light out. At one point he swerves a bit toward the curb.

Is this a drunken driver?

Reasonable question.

Which is why Sgt. Keith McKay of the Univeristy of Central Arkansas campus police pulled over a student  named Blayk Puckett recently.

It turned out Puckett wasn't drunk. He knew he had a broken tail light and was driving slowly because he didn't want to get pulled over the police.

But.... busted. Puckett was pulled over

Once he stopped Puckett, McKay quickly figured out that Puckett hadn't been drinking.. Even so, the student decided to really prove he was sober.

So he got his gear out of the car and started juggling.  

The cops should have guessed this would happen. Puckett's vanity license plate is "JUGGLER."

Body and dash cam video shows McKay coaxing Puckett into doing the "sobriety" demonstration.

"No pressure, I want you to know, you don't have to," McKay says in the police video. But Puckett was game and went at it with the juggling.

As Puckett began, McKay is heard saying, "This is gonna be awesome. You just made my night, I gotta tell you."

After the juggling demonstration, police let Puckett go with no ticket, as he promised to get his brake light fixed.

Here's the police video of the incident.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lawyer, Lawyer, Pants On Fire!

Attotrney Steven Guitierrez'a pants caught on
fire when he was litigating a Florida
arson case.
The sometimes unfair stereotype of lawyers is that they're liars, that "lawyer" is just another way of saying "liar."

And we've all heard the chant directed at the dishonest: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Well, in Florida,  (where else would something like this occur?) while a defense attorney was litigating an arson case of all things, his pants caught on fire.


According to the Miami Herald:

"Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client's car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket."

As you might expect, Gutierrez rushed out of the courtroom. Jurors were ushered out out, and soon, Gutierrez returned, without injury but definitely with singed pants. '

This was not an elaborate defense demonstration, the Miami Herald said. It was a faulty battery in an e-cigarette in Gutierrez's pocket.

The Miami Herald tried to contact Gutierrez, but he didn't return the calls.

Whatever happened, it didn't help Gutierrez'a client, Claudy Charles. He was convicted of second degree arson.

Gutierrez could be held in contempt of court because of the incident, the Miami Herald says, but this isn't the first time e-cigarettes have caused trouble.

As I noted back in November, e-cigarette batteries do seem to have a nasty habit of exploding and/or catching fire, which isn't a good thing for e-cigarette enthusiasts.

I guess that's one habit I won't take up, then.

 Repeated calls to Gutierrez’s cellphone went unanswered. Miami-Dade police and prosecutors are now investigating the episode. Officers seized several frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence.
“A lot of people could have been hurt,” another observer in court told the Miami Herald.Gutierrez was representing Claudy Charles, 48, who is accused of intentionally setting his car on fire in South Miami-Dade. He had just started his closing arguments when the fire broke out. Jurors convicted Charles anyway of second-degree arson.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, in the coming days, could decide to hold Gutierrez in contempt of court.
The 28-year-old lawyer graduated from Florida International University’s law school in 2015.
With millions of users across the country, e-cigarettes deliver vaporized nicotine through a heated liquid solution. But questions about the health and fire risks of the products have mounted, with the U.S. Department of Transportation recently banning e-cigarettes from checked bags on airplanes.
Last year, a Naples man filed suit in Miami-Dade after an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth, leaving him in a coma.

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