Thursday, July 4, 2019

"New" Freddie Mercury Song Is Out; Song Discovered From 1985

Freddie Mercury belts out "Time Waits For No One" in a
previously unreleased song and video. Proves why he
was such a vocal powerhouse. 
The great Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991 but I, along with millions of other people, can't get enough of him.

Believe it or not, there's a "new" tune out there by Freddie Mercury called "Time Waits For No One." and it is a gem.  According to USA Today, singer and producer Dave Cark recorded Mercury performing a version of the song called "Time" for a sci-fi rock musical.

The song had all kinds of production, some would save over production, with big percussions ad all kinds of backup vocals. That song was released and peaked at number 32 on the UK music charts in 1985.

However, Clark had Mercury record a different version of the song accompanied only by piano. That's what's being released now as "Time Waits For No One."

Clark re-discovered "Time Waits For No One" last year, but decided to wait to release it.  He'd been looking for the master and video for more than a decade, but searches of recording studio failed to turn the up, says NPR.  Then, miraculously they were found in 2017.

By then, the Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" was coming out, and Clark didn't want to compete with that, reports USA Today. 

So he waited to release it

As you can see and hear in the video below, you don't need any big production values when it comes to Mercury. Just let him sing. You can also see is familiar, unique mannerisms as he performs.

And what a performance!

Here's the song and video:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Favorite Pride Month Song Is "Sinful"

A scene from the rather dark song and video which is actually
my favorite Pride Month anthem.
It's Pride Month, and it's a big tadoo for the LGBTQ community, of which I'm a part.

Everything in life seems to have a soundtrack and this is no different. Lots of songs and anthems and hits fit.  Click on the hyperlinks to all these examples to enjoy the music videos. It's worth it.

There's many dozens of diverse examples of great Pride anthems in all kinds of genres. Awesome ones include the sad, haunting "Smalltown Boy," the 1984 hit by the Bronski Beat. There's the joyous, boisterous 2011 anthem "Born This Way," by Lady Gaga.

"Follow Your Arrow," the country hit by the amazing songwriter Kasey Musgraves doesn't get too explicit about gay pride, but the message is crystal clear in this terrific song. "When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight."

You of course CAN NOT  skip Madonna's "Vogue" or Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors."  And just because it's Cher, you can pick something like "Believe."

You'd think this gay weather geek blogger's favorite Pride Month anthem would be the goofy, fun and exhilarating "It's Raining Men," by The Weather Girls. Close, but not quite.

I have to agree with the Joe.My.God blog guy that the best Pride anthem, at least in my opinion is "It's A Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys. It's a lot darker than a lot of songs I've listed, but I like the dark side of music.

Now, I'm not bashing the Catholic religion, but I was raised in that church and guilt is a big part of it. And also my impression was you could not necessarily be who you are and still adhere to the conservative church.

The protagonist in "It's A Sin" goes over everything he supposed to be ashamed about himself over, but the song makes it clear that he has nothing to be ashamed about, but perhaps others do. I also love the imagery in the music video.

Here's the "It's A Sin" video. Enjoy it and Pride Month:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

German Town Goes On Beer Buying Spree To Annoy Neo-Nazis

Residents of Ostritz, Germany are seen here buying up all the beer
at the town's supermarket so an influx of Nazis at a right-wing
festival wouldn't be able to buy any. 
The area around Ostritz in the Saxony area of Germany is dealing with the Shield and Sword rock music festival, a favored gathering for neo-Nazis and other like-minded creeps.

The only thing worse than a Nazi is a drunk Nazi, so people in Ostritz had that in mind when they came up with an "evil" plan.

A court had earlier ruled that booze would be banned inside the event, so Ostritz residents figured the Nazis would buy their beer in town on the way to the festival.

So, residents raided the local supermarket and bought every last bit of beer in there before the festival-going right wing assholes couldn't get any.

Double bonus: Townspeople could down a nice cold one or two while holding their own peaceful demonstration agains the Neo-Nazis. It's a win-win.

No word from the Nazi creeps if they were unduly thirsty during the festival. Poor babies.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tanya Tucker Teams Up With Brandi Carlile; Results Are Magical

The awesome Tanya Tucker will drop her first album in 17 years
 coming August 23. The first single from the album is out, and
it really bodes well for the rest of the album
The great Tanya Tucker made a big splash at the recent CMT awards show when she and Brandi Carlile teamed up to perform the iconic Tucker song "Delta Dawn."

It's terrific seeing Tanya Tucker on stage again. And she rocks that pink hair look!

There had to be an ulterior motive for her appearance at the CMT's. And there was. Tucker is promoting her first album since 2002.

The new album is produced by Carlile and Shooter Jennings.

Carlile is the best songwriter in the world today, at least in my opinion and that of so many other people, so that bodes well for the rest of the new Tucker album.

Shooter Jennings is also a top-rate songwriter with a great pedigree - he's the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.

The new Tucker album, "While I'm Livin'" is due to drop on August 23. The first single from the album, called "The Wheels of Laredo" is out now.

The song was written by Carlile and Tim and Phil Hanseroth. (The Hanseroth twin brothers are the two tall, talented bald guys you see in Carlile's band.)

The video, which is a work of art on its own, was directed by Myriam Santos.

Here's the song and video of Tanya Tucker's "The Wheels of Laredo". You're going to love it.

Monday, June 10, 2019

"Love Calls Back" Ad During Tonys Telecast Has People Weeping

A scene from the Verizon/Pflag ad "Love Call Back."
Last night, during the Tony Awards on television, Verizon, the telecommunications giant, and Pflag, a advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, aired an ad that had many weeping, including me.

The ad, calls "Up To Speed," or "Love Calls Back," featured young LGBTQ people who were estranged from parents or other loved ones.

The conversations when these youths came out of the closet to their families went badly, so there was little or no communication after that.  

Everybody hurt because of these situations, obviously.

In the ad, Verizon and Pflag arranged do-overs for these initial conversations. Parents, brothers and others who initially had reacted badly to their kids' orientation since the first bad conversation had time to think about it, and had come to realize there really wasn't anything wrong with their LGBTQ kids, and that they still loved them.

The ad is a nice bit of hope for people who are estranged, and I hope it encourages more do-over calls to reunite people.  The whole thing, of course, is timed to coincide with June, which is Pride Month.

I fully realize that not all families have such happy endings. Some LGBTQ youth and adults remain estranged from stubborn, ignorant parents forever, which is sad to say the least.

I was lucky when I came out. My father immediately supported me. My mother reacted extremely harshly and negatively, but eventually came around. It took a little work, but she did it.

The video is below.  The first 1:40 of the video explains what it does. After that Kleenex alert!  It is a weeper, but worth watching:

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Big Pharma Gouging Gets Even More Infuriating With New Site "Correction."

Mallinkrodt CEO Mark Trudeau. Getting rich off by endangering
infants by price gouging anti-seizure meds. Nice. 
Gizmodo, a news, technology and science website, recently ran an incredibly infuriating article about a company called Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

This outfit bought another pharmaceutical company called Questcor in 2014.

Anyway, Gizmodo reported that Questcor and Mallinkrodt increased the price for a drug called Acthar from "just $40 in 2000 to over $40,000 today, despite the fact that Acthar has been o the market since 1952."

Acthar is a medication that helps prevent seizures, especially in infants, so it's kind of an important drug.  Mallinckrodt rakes in about $1 billion annually from the now overpriced Acthar, said Gizmodo, citing a CNN report.

When I read that, I thought that can't be true. That's just a ridiculous price increase that nobody would dare try.

It turned out the article wasn't entirely true. Mallinckrodt sent Gizmodo an email, demanding a retraction to an error in the story. Gizmodo obliged. Here's the mea culpa that Gizmodo ran:

"Correction: This article originally stated that the price of Acthar had gone 'from just $40 in 2000 to over $40,000 today.' A spokesperson for Mallinckrodt emailed to request a correction that Acthar actually costs $38,892 today. Gizmodo regrets the error. We also regret that every last one of these guys isn't in prison yet."

Yep, Mallinckrodt was upset, not that they increased the price of a necessary drug by nearly 100,000 percent within two decades. It's that Gizmodo ever so slightly exaggerated the cost of the drug.

As if bilking people to to the tune of $40,000 is beyond the pale but doing the same for a mere $38,892 is not.  No wonder the Gizmodo correction was so snarky.

Drug companies executives do deserve to rot in jail. The Gizmodo article accurately pointed out this:

"Curiously, there's a drug called Synacthen that's identical to Acthar and sells for just $33 in Canada. So why isn't Synacthen available in the U.S.? Because Mallinckrodt bought the U.S.rights to Synacthen and simply doesn't make it available to American consumers."

Because Mallinckrodt figures infants who are injured or die from seizures because medicines are too expensive are definitely worth the profits.

The Gizmodo article explained the Mallinckridt expects to pay a $15.4 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice because of allegations that Quester bribed doctors and their staff to prescribe the super expensive medication.

Yeah, to you and me, $15.4 million seems like a lot of money to you and me. But remember, Mallinckrodt makes $1 billion a year from Acthar alone. It's comparable to the "pain" I would experience if I got a $5 parking ticket.

If this whole thing was just one isolated incident to piss you off, that would be one thing. But the news has been filled with news of Big Pharma boosting prices to sky high levels for fun and especially profit.

It doesn't matter that these new sky high prices are literally killing people. You've heard the stories. Insulin prices have soared, for example. Type 1 diabetics were paying an average of $5,705 in 2016, almost twice as much as just four years earlier. Insulin prices have spiraled in the three years since.

According to USA Today, the Senate Finance Committe told insulin makers to detail their price increases. One vial of Eli Lilly's Humalog went from $35 in 2001 to $234 in 2015. Between 2013 and this year, Nordisk's insulin went from $289 to $540.

The price got so high that diabetics started to ration their insulin. That killed many of them.  These deaths are worth if for the millions these pharma executives are raking in, apparently.  I guess they found a way to literally get away with murder.

The Pharma industry has guaranteed their profits through blocking competition, herculean efforts to confuse patients so they don't understand how much drugs really cost, notes a U.S. News and World Report.

All in the name of profits. We've gotten so dystopian that we just accept this as normal, when people should be marching in front of these evil Big Pharma companies with pitchforks and torches.

I hope there's a special place in hell for these pharma and insurance executives who think it's OK to literally kill people so they can suck up even more millions of dollars.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Florida Weirdness Continues As Usual. Alligators And People Uphold The State's Reputation.

Florida is famous for its weird news, of couse.  Half of the time, the weirdness involves alligators.

I've got three examples. I'm sure there are dozens of examples, but three is all I have the energy for.

So let's go: Even routine traffic stops are practically never routine.'

Take one case last month in which a car blew through a stop sign in Punta Gorda, Florida.

One of the standard questions the police ask you during traffic stops is whether you have anything else on you. The cop wants to make sure there aren't any dangerous guns or other weapons in case things go south during the traffic stop.  

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said Ariel Machan-Le Quire, 25, answered that she did. Ariel told police she and her companion had been collecting snakes and frogs beneath a nearby overpass. OK. Then she pulled a live, foot-long alligator out of her yoga pants.

The pair were warned against blowing through stop signs, and the state Fish and Wildlife agency was called in to investigate. Possibly in that order. In Florida, hiding alligators in yoga pants could well be as common as people blowing through stop signs.

She and her companion were cited for violating the bag limit on reptile collecting, which is regulated.

The alligator and all the other animals the couple found were released back into the wild.

The next alligator crisis came last month when police in Clearwater, Florida responded to a report of a home break-in.

Homeowner Mary Wischhusen heard a crash in her kitchen around 3:30 a.m. one morning and discovered the burglar in her kitchen. She retreated to a bedroom and called 911.

When police got there, they found the home had indeed been broken into, and the perp was still there. It was a ten-foot-long alligator, and it had broken into the house through a low window.

Ten police officers and two trappers spent two hours trying to coax the alligator out of Wischhusen's kitchen. Her only regret is the alligator toppled a wine case, smashing all the bottles of red wine inside. It was the good stuff, she said.

Nobody is sure why the alligator targeted Wischhusen's house. My theory is it likes red wine.

Finally, this week, a Gainsville, Florida couple decided it would be a nice idea to have a picnic on the shores of a lake.

Then an alligator decided to join the party. The couple wisely retreated, so the alligator came up and helped itself to a block of cheese, salami, half a watermelon and an entire bowl of guacamole. 

Luckily, the alligator was full after that, so instead of eating the picnicking couple, the little monster went back down to the lake.

For now, anyway.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bad Spring For Vermont Covered Bridges And Stupid Truck Drivers

The extensively damaged covered bridge in Lyndon, Vermont.
An oversized truck barreled through the bridge in May. 
This spring was not good for Vermont's famed covered bridges. Two idiotic truckers made sure that was the case.

Back on May 16, a moronic truck driver blasted through the Millers Run bridge, built in 1878 in Lyndonville, breaking angled roof supports, damaging two main vertical beams and shattering parts of the bridge's north side.  

Police said the driver told them she was making a delivery and GPS directions said to go across the covered bridge.

As if GPS were God and she couldn't tell the truck was bigger than the bridge.

As a side note, I guess that's why truckers continually get stuck on the narrow winding Smugglers Notch pass on Route 108 in Vermont. Numerous signs tell trucks not to go up, but GPS says go, so they go. Human-created warnings be damned.

Engineering studies are going on now to figure out how to fix the bridge. The trucking company whose driver is responsible for the damage looks like they will pay for the damage.

As you can see by the video at the bottom of this post, the truck driver cruised on through, wrecking the bridge and then kept right on going, as if that was the normal thing to do.  The truck driver, Jolene Godfrey, 43, of White River Junction, was on a delivery run for Upper Valley Produce.

Just a day or two after the bridge in Lyndon was trashed another truck driver trashed another Vermont covered bridge, this one in West Woodstock. 

The truck, with a trailer carrying equipment exceed the bridge's height limit and damaged the interior of it. At least this time, the truck driver owned up to it, stopped immediately and cooperated with police.

All this is nothing new.

Last summer, another trucker damaged the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge over the Connecticut River on the Vermont-New Hampshire border.

Once again, it was GPS. Nizeyimana Silas, 31 at the time of Nashua, New Hampshire, drove through the bridge, which has a posted nine foot, two inch clearance, according to the Valley News. The truck is three feet taller than that.

Cornish Police Chief Doug Hackett had to tell the Valley News the obvious: "Following your GPS doesn't mean you don't have to follow posted signs. You can't use the GPS as an excuse.... At some point, you have to look at the road, look at the signs, look at what's going on around you."

Please, folks. Stop relying on your GPS. It lies to you.

Here's the video of the Lyndon bridge being damaged by the oblivious trucker:

Monday, June 3, 2019

I'm Not A Cat Guy, But I'm Still Really Mourning Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat died last month at the age of 7. 
The big, sad news of the past month is that Grumpy Cat passed away back in mid-May at the age of 7.

She was a celebrity, and word of her passing was all over the news, seemingly almost to the level of press coverage at the deaths of Michael Jackson and Princess Di.

And no wonder. Grumpy Cat was the ultimate internet celebrity, becoming one of the most popular memes out there.

She went to the SXSW festival in 2013 and people lined up around the block to take selfies with Grumpy Cat. She was probably the hottest celebrity at the star-studded event.

Grumpy Cat did have a thrilling life, making appearances on television shows and ball games. She went to Broadway to visit the cast of "Cats," --- obviously!

Grumpy Cat also "wrote" a bestselling book called "Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book."

As NPR reported:

"The Grumpy Cat book promised to 'put any bad mood in perspective' - and that seems to be a main source of the mourning and tributes that were triggered by the unexpected and unwelcome news that one of the worlds most adorable grouches is no longer with us. 

'I loved the cat,' one fan wrote, 'I find the absolute pleasure of meeting her once and I will never forget it. I will never forget the first time I saw her face! I learned much from her an deeply saddened and devastated to hear of her passing.'"

This fame was all because Grumpy Cat was a relatable meme. I'm not really into internet memes, but this one fit my occasional moods perfectly. Same with everybody else. Grumpy Cat made it OK to not be relentlessly cheerful all the time, as long as you didn't let the grumpiness harden into hate or deep gloom.

Even President Obama, during a speech, did an imitation of Grumpy Cat while mocking some negative acting Republicans.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Vermont City Marathon Scenes

Runners make their way up "Heartbreak Hill,"
which to most of us is Battery Street
in Burlington. The  Taiko Drummers helped
push people up the hill
I briefly had time to check in last Sunday - yes a week ago - for the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, Vermont.

There's always a few scenes and moments that are pretty cool.

Any one person will miss most of the quirky momets, but everybody will catch at least some. This post has just a few photos of the scenes, just for fun.

Dude with a huge
beard runs in
the marathon.

Runners make their way down Pine Street
in Burlington Sunday during the
Vermont City Marathon
Dude caught running the marathon barefoot 
A spectator and his dog watch the marathon
proceedings in Burlington this past

Monday, May 13, 2019

Doris Day Passes Away At Age 97

I have been temporarily far too busy to post on this here blog thingy lately. I hope to post more soon.

For now, though, I should mark the passing today of the great Doris Day, who passed away today at age 97.  As the loving obits all note, she really had a full, busy life of talent.

I'll save these good tributes for the experts. I'll just mark her passing with this tribute: A video of Doris Day and her famous song Que Sera Sera

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Manila Earthquake Creates Waterfall From Skyscraper Rooftop Pool

Water cascades off the side of a Manila skyscraper as an earthquake
sloshed water out of a rooftop swimming pool. 
Two strong earthquakes in the Philippines this week unfortunately killed at least 16 people and caused quite a bit of damage.

The stronger of the two quakes on Monday was centered just 50 miles from the Philippines capital of Manila. High rises swayed and panicked workers fled from buildings.

One big highrise has a rooftop pool. In an earthquake the swaying from side to side on top of a skyscraper is bigger than at the base.

So the quake sent pool water cascading over the side of the building like a waterfall.

The video, below, is pretty dramatic.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Baby Elephant Makes Me Want This Man's Job

Dan Daeng was trying to paint a fence.
Khunsuk the baby elephant would have
none of it. It was time to play!
At the Mae-Sa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, keeper Dan Daeng, 20, was trying to be productive. He was hard at work trying to get a fence painted.

Khunsuk would have none of it. Khunsuk is a one year old baby elephant who thinks all work and no play makes Dan a dull boy.   

So, Khunsuk tried to put a stop to Dan's work. He tried slapping Dan with his trunk to get him to play. He tried tapping on his leg. Dan ignored Khunsuk. There was work to do! But Khunsuk said, no, and ruffled Dan's hair.

It was all over. Fence painting was done. Time to play. The resulting video, below, makes me really wish I had Dan Daeng's job.

Or, at least I could hav Khunsuk the baby elephant over to my house for awhile so we could play in the yard.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

This Casually Dressed Dad Will End Up On America's Got Talent, Or Something

A rather buff dad in a football shirt and shorts looks like he wanted to entertain his smiling young daughter at Disney World.

Justin Gigliello belts out "Ave Maria" during a visit to Disney
World with his young daughter. 
The dad, named Justin Gigliello was at Disney World with his young daughter.

He posted the video on Twitter, and wrote: "I just wanted to share this video for a Disney experience! We just went to Disney World ast week and my daughter asked the pianist at the Grand Floridian if I could sing while he played."

The pianist agreed and began playing the Franz Schubert masterpiece Ave Maria and Gigliello began singing it. Beautifully.

The best part besides the singing is the proud look on the face of the young daughter as her father performed.

Naturally, the clip has gone viral. I'm also sure that producers from shows like "America's Got Talent" are beating down Gigliello's door trying to get him on these shows.

Here's the video:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Awesome, Odd Fosse Choreography And 1960s Cool On Video Fascinates Me

A scene from Bob Fosse's choreography of "Rich Man's Frug 
There's extra attention these days on the legendary choreographer Bob Fosse given that televised series on FX called Fosse/Verdon.

The show involves the life of Fosse and his romantic and creative partner, the dancer Gwen Verdon.

As my mind tends to wander into unexpected corners, I recently heard a snippet of the song "Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity, the 1966 musical by Neil Simon and choreographed by Fosse. (It was later made into a movie released in 1969.

I was very young in the mid and late 1960s, and I always admired what to my mind were the sophisticated adults in the room. Or more accurately, not in the room, but out there in the world, somewhere. In some alluring city that was not West Rutland, Vermont, where I was.

I'd see glimpses of televised variety show performances from shows like "Sweet Charity" and others during the rapidly changing 1960s. Even as a five or seven or eight year old, I could feel the fever of that era, even if I didn't fully understand it.

These were exotic people doing exotic things in exotic times. There was precious little of that in the small Vermont town where I grew up. As an adult, I love the little town of West Rutland. Back then, not so much.

All those feelings about the worldly matters I craved came back to me when I looked up Rich Man's Frug and found this 1960s, very awesome Fosse choreography to that song from Sweet Charity. The video is simultaneously dated and so modern cool and wonderful that I can't resist.

It might be the best Fosse number I've seen. I love the odd physical movements, the fake air of snootiness on the faces of those dancers, the humor in all that athleticism.

Here's the video.  Totally worth the watch:

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Throwback To 1971: Elton John Explains How "Tiny Dancer" Came To Be

A still from the music video for "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. The song
was released in 1971, but didn't get an official music video until 2017.
One of my very favorite Elton John songs is among his very first hits: "Tiny Dancer."

The blog Laughing Squid found a YouTube video in which Elton John, in 1971, then roughly 23 years old, explains the musical mechanics of the song,and why he chose the music the way he did for the lyrics, penned by his longtime co-writer Bernie Taupin.

The song is about Taupin's girlfriend and eventual wife Maxine Feibelman.  The tune has a rather gentle musical score. Elton John said that decision was based on the lyric, "Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand."

Hard, driving rock does not fit well with ballerinas, John explained.

"Tiny Dancer" was never a huge hit on the Billboard charts, but man, has it had staying power! It has become a classic in every sense of the word.

This song never had an official music video until 2017, when Elton John participated in "The Cut" a video contest for up and coming videographers.  Filmmakers made music videos for three of Elton John's early classics, including Tiny Dancer.  I do think the California breeziness of the song is captured well in that 2017 video.

But you be the judge. First video is the throwback to 1971, when Elton John explains the song's construction, and the second video by Max Weiland, which uses a wide range of Los Angeles characters to demonstrate how much this song has kind of united us.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Another Sign Of The Apocalypse: Super-Crazy QAnon Conspiracy Book Selling Like Hotcakes

The idiots of Qanon prove that there are zillions of suckers
born every minute. 
These are the kinds of stories that just make me want to give up.

A book called, "QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening" was a big boffo seller on Amazon, at least earlier in March.  

QAnon, for those who mercifully haven't heard about it yet, is probably the most bonkers conspiracy theory in history.

The basics of the conspiracy are that the world is run by a Satanic cabal headed by Hillary Clinton. She and other prominent Democrats also supposedly run a child sex ring in the nonexistent basement of a Washington DC pizzeria.

Moreover, according to this wild and stupid conspiracy, Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are secretly working together to destroy this evil cabal.

As NBC reported in March , the book was at No. 9 in all books about politics and No. 1 in all books about "Censorship."

Apparently, "QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening" is full of garbage that comes at you willy-nilly.

NBC describes it thusly:

"On one page, the book baselessly claims that the United States created AIDS, polio, Lyme disease, some natural disasters, two Indiana Jones movies and the Pixar movie Monsters Inc."

Wow, that's some busy government we have doing all that! I wonder why this secret cabal took the time to make these movies?

NBC's report goes on helpfully:

"The book posits that Monsters Inc shows off a government plan to collect children's blood 'that gives (government figures) some form of high or youthful look."

Oh. But then why doesn't Hillary Clinton not exactly look like a spring chicken? Oh, sorry, we're not supposed to question the logic of these insane conspiracies, are we?

The reason that this weirdness is doing well on Amazon has to do with the old, sad fact in America: There is a sucker born every minute.

Social media has been playing wack-a-mole with these whackadoodle conspiracies. NBC quotes conspiracy theory research Mike Rothschild saying YouTube recently changed its algoritms to make it more difficult for the grifters pushing Qanon to make monetize their video creations.

So, Rothschild said, these grifters are no dummies: "They absolutely exploited flaws in Amazon's algorithms." The book, Rothschild said is "a bold new step in the endless grift at the heart of Q."

In an earlier article from last August NBC tried to explain why people fall for conspiracy nonsense that is batshit crazy.

People have always thought that many things don't happen by chance. There's an underlying reason. That's how conspiracy theories are born.

I get the NBC story on why people believe conspiracy theories, but I'm still struggling with how people get to that state of mind.  According to this article, people who are generally anxious and feel like their life is not fully in their control anymore, gravitate to conspiracy theories.

Alright, so I get it how people believe in things like a conspiracy over the assassination of JFK, even if the theories are pretty off. But how do people get to insane things like Qanon?

What's really dangerous is the people like Alex Jones who peddle conspiracy theories to the masses.  I'm sure he doesn't believe the crap he spouts. He knows he can make money off it because of all the gullible people out there.

As points out, these gullible people are willing to believe the global elite are planning to murder 80% of the world's population, that children killed in the Newtown, Connecticut massacre were just crisis actors that were part of a "false flag." Jones had a guy on his show and demonstrated support for the dude who was claiming that the 2,000 children that go missing everyday are being sold to Mars as sex slaves.

There we go again. The strangest conspiracy theories involve sexual crimes against children. I'm glad people are fighting back. Jones is being sued for his terribly harmful antics, and it's not going well for Jones at all. 

The best explanation for Qanan and its popularity that I've seen came from columnist Clarence Page.

He writes:

"The Qanon theory, whatever its origins, sounds tailor-made for core Trump supporters who need supporting arguments for the alternative scenarios spun by the White House, conservative media and other Trump allies.

Qanon is scary partly because its promoters want it to be. 'Triggering the libs' or 'owning the libs' - i.e doing things specifically to upset liberals - is its own reward to many on the right. But paranoid politics can pop up on all political sides - and often does."

Unfortunately, the game of "owning" the other side, the enemy, has become more important than facts in this world. The most dangerous part of all this is that when we ignore facts for fun and profit, those facts always come back to bite us on the ass. Often with tragic results.

Friday, March 29, 2019

A New Low In Obnoxious Advertising

One of those obnoxious ads in the waters off lower Manhattan
As anybody who knows me realizes, I have no patience for the desperate, loud, constant barrage of advertising.

It's possible to make advertising that is engaging, entertaining and makes you want to buy their products. That concept is rare, though, as most advertisers seem more intent on insulting us, rathern than engaging us.

Most advertisers seem to think the more you annoy us, the more likely we are to buy their wares. I have not gotten anyone to explain how that works, if it does.

A new low in advertising has come on the waters of the Hudson and East rivers surrounding the big lights of Manhattan.  Barges now ply those waters with obnoxious LED billboards. As the New York Daily News reports:

"The city filed a lawsuit Wednesday aimed at sinking the billboard-carrying barges that float on New York waterways.

City attorneys write that the company behind the LED advertisements, Ballyhoo Media, has brazenly disregarded requests to dock the barges because they are a public nuisance, distract drivers and violate zoning regulations."

I can see why New York City officials are exasperated with these barges. As New York City Councilman Justin Brannon said in the Daily News:  "At a time when every square inch of our world feels like it's covered in advertisements, visual pollution is a real thing, and our waterways should be off-limits. Drivers along the water don't need more distractions and when kids in Bay Ridge go to Shore Road Park, they don't need to be barraged by flashing lights advertising the latest video game."

True, a big city like New York has plenty of bright lights and advertising. It's turned Times Square into one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world.

But the advertising like that doesn't have to be everywhere. That's why Manhattan has both the dazzling advertising lights of Times Square, and the relative quiet and trees and lawns of Central Park.

However, plenty of advertisers and ad agencies think they must blind and deafen us constantly, because that way we'll buy, buy.  Ballyhoo Media, the company behind these obnoxious floating barge billboards is one of those.

The website for Ballyhoo Media was interestingly down for maintenance Wednesday and Thursday, which is interesting.

Infuriatingly, Ballyhoo Media might still get away this. The company pulled the same stunt in Miami Beach. The Florida city tried banning the advertising barges, but Ballyhoo successfully argued that Miami Beach doesn't have jurisdiction over the water, so their awful visual pollution remains.

Ballyhoo is likely to make the same argument in New York.

The Miami New Times said Adam Shapiro, owner of Ballyhoo, gave this spin on how supposedly great these floating advertising barges are. Shapiro said the barges are a quicker way to reach customers and make announcements. He pointed out there have always been advertisements at the beach.

Well, yeah. You can go up to the boardwalk and look at all the advertisements you want, or you could turn around and have an uncluttered view of the water. You have a choice. Ballyhoo Media wants to take away that choice.

Shapiro made the same argument, that his company is just wonderful, in response to the New York lawsuit. Talk about gall and gaslighting with this statement!

"We love the waterways and have developed this platform to be an asset to the community.....Ballyhoo has proven to provide unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that has been received with overwhelmingly positive community support. We are confident that New York City will see the value and excitement we bring to the waterfront."

I hate to break it to him, but the yelling and screaming Shapiro is hearing is not "positive community support," it's community rage.  But enjoy your delusions, sir.

Unfortunately, this will only get worse. We've probably been sentenced to dozens of these companies clogging beautiful waterways, along with lake and ocean front tourist spots with these outrageous LED ads.

Want to give up on the beaches because of this and stargaze instead? Looks like you're going to be out of luck there, too.

As and other media outlets have reported, a Russian startup called StartRocket wants to put billboard advertising in space, because apparently, stars and planets are ugly but advertisements  in the sky for chicken wings and cola are majestic. describes this hellish idea: "Imagine this: you've just fled from the city to your nearest national park to gaze deeply into the infinite abysss of space and contemplate how your own existence fits into the curtain of the universe. Then out of the corner of your eye, you see brigh white letters spelling "KFC" spring across the horizon in a long arch."

Yeah, lovely.

It seems that advertising company executives are so full of themselves that they will believe any branding about themselves that they imagine. It can't even enter their mind that almost all of the rest of us think they're obnoxious. The guy with the ads in space idea, Valadilen Sitnikov says this: "It's human nature to advertise everything... Brands are a beautiful part of humankind."


I once read a short story where everybody in the nation was forced to view advertising every waking hour through some sort of hologram that everybody was required to operate.

It doesn't seem like we're that far from that horrible dystopian life.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Randy Rainbow Is Feeling Conflicted Over The Mueller Report We Haven't Seen Yet

Just as I expected, Randy Rainbow has a new video now that Robert Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General.

As we now know, the report apparently doesn't say Donald Trump criminally colluded with Russia. But he's not "exonerated" either, despite the spin you hear from the White House and his Republican patsies.

All these mixed messages has us all feeling conflicted, including Randy Rainbow.

So, the latest parody is called "The Mueller Blues," to the tune of Sondheim's "Buddy Blues."  Another classic, including the murderous crime of Sarah Huckabee's pink blouse. Here you go:

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Another Reason To Avoid Florida: Poison Toads

Another reason to "love" Florida: Hordes of poisonous toads are
invading some neighborhoods 
Generally speaking, I'm the kind of person who likes frogs and toads.

Where I live in New England, they never cause much trouble at all. They just eat annoying mosquitoes and other biting and damaging insects. What's not to love?  

Florida, of course, does everything differently, and often, worse. Which brings me to some toads in the Sunshine State that make me want to stay far, far away.

They're called cane toads, and lately, they've been taking over neighborhoods in much of southern Florida. Worse, they're poisonous. Dogs and cats love to catch toads. They put these toads in their mouths, the toad secretes a toxin, and the pet dies.

Humans can get ill from these things, too.

Since these toads are invasive, they have few natural predators and are overwhelming some areas.  As USA Today notes, local news stations in Florida have been broadcasting images of these toads clogging pool filters, hopping in large crowds across driveways and partly covering lawns.

Individually, the toads look cute, even though they are poisonous. The huge numbers of them look like a horror movie.

This outbreak of marauding toads was probably brought on by humid weather, a rainy spell and a surge in temperatures into the 80s and low 90s. The epicenter of this invasion seems to be Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood of Mirabella where people can't bring their pets outside and children can't play outdoors because there's so many poisonous toads.

One resident, Jennie Quasha, told television station WPTV, "I just see a massive amount of toads and frogs everywhere, covering every square inch....You can't even walk through the grass without stepping on one."  Quasha said hundreds of them were in her swimming pool. So much for a nice leisurely dip in the pool on a humid Florida afternoon.

Exterminators can get rid of some of the toads, but it looks like people will have to let nature take its course. The numbers of toads will go down, but they won't disappear entirely.

Which is another reason to not enjoy the Sunshine State.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Maple Sugaring Time In Vermont Gives Us Another Reason To Hate Squirrels

A maple sugar maker shows some tubing chewed up by squirrels.
Trees are tapped in Vermont and the sap is flowing in sugarbushes as the annual maple season in the Green Mountain State is in full swing.


It's all good news except for one thing: Squirrels are interfering with this maple enterprise.

People think squirrel, chipmunks and such are cute and I suppose they are.

They are also a nuisance, as anybody who tries to keep their bird feeders full for the birds and not the rodents. And as any gardener can tell you whos perennials are wrecked by squirrels.

It turns out maple producers in Vermont and elsewhere have had it, too. As has been widely reported in Vermont by the AP and others, squirrels are battling to prevent us from enjoying this year's crop of maple syrup.

Sugar makers rig plastic taps and tubing which lead the sap from sugar maples to holding tanks. The contents of those tanks are boiled down to make maple syrup. However, squirrels have been busily chewing up the tubes, apparently in an evil plot to divert the sweet sap to themselves.

As the AP reports, that forces sugar makers to work long and pricy hours repairing the lines and seizing the sap back for us humans:

"That means producers must go out into sometimes deep snow to find and replace the camaged lines that transport the sap from the maple trees or other chewed or missing equipment, which producers say can be time-consuming and expensive."

The squirrels apparently know how to make things particularly tough.  They try very hard to scatter the damage, making things all the harder. The AP again:

The trouble is the squirrels could take one bite of tubing and move another 100 feet where they take another bite, making the damage hard to find, said Lyle Merrifield, who is president of the Maine Maple Producers Association.

Clearly, squirrels are out to get us. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Voice Actor Hilariously Scams Scammer

A voice actor in California recently helped a friend deal with an employment scammer.

In the first half of the video, below, she explains the scam and how she sets up her trolling. (The little detail about the Santa Monica Solid Waste District is fun.)

Then she puts her voice talent skills to work. Listen to what she has the scammer spell whil trolling him.

I love revenge like this.

Here's the video:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Burned Up Toasted Tesla On Lake Champlain Getting Lots Of Attention

A burnt up Tesla on the ice, Shelburne Bay, Lake Champlain
Vermont seems to be a bit of a magnet for weird mishaps.

Which is why I wasn't totally, 100% shocked when a 2019 Tesla Model X recently went up in flames atop the ice on deeply frozen Shelburne Bay in Lake Champlain.  

I guess it was such a big deal that web sites all over the place picked up on the story. This includes Jalopnik and Popular Mechanics wrote up articles about this unfortunate Tesla.

Popular Mechanics had this likely explanation for the blaze

"The specific cause of the fire is as yet unknown. People on Tesla forums who saw the crazy pictures began to speculate about insurance fraud or someother oddball explanation, but the most likely explanation would be battery failure. If damaged, lithium-ion batteries can rapidly discharge their stored energy in the form of heat, leading to an inferno. The bigger the battery, the bigger the fire.

Teslas necessarily have a giant battery pack, so if the car suffers sufficiently severe impact, it can go up in flames."

The driver of the car reported hitting something on the road, perhaps a rock or a big pothole or frost heave, reports Seven Days. The motorists said he smelled something odd after hitting whatever he hit. That might have damaged the battery, leading to the Tesla fire a little later on Shelburne Bay.

As the fire raged, the Shelburne Fire Department wisely decided not to drive their 50,000-pound fire truck out onto the ice to put out the blaze, notes Seven Days.  So the Tesla burned to a crisp.

By the way, the fire didn't melt too much of the ice and let the Tesla fall through because most of the heat of the blaze was directed upward, away from the ice.

It's the owner's responsibility to get the Tesla off the ice. And you wouldn't want it to sink into the water when the ice melts, due to a pollution risk.

The Burlington Free Press says a towing company got the wreckage off the ice a few days ago, but it wasn't easy. It had frozen back onto the ice, and had to be pried loose.

Here's a YouTube video, taken on the day they were trying to get the remains of the Tesla off the lake:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Mad Gardener Might Have Booby Trapped The Pansies With Bombs

Gardening usually makes people happy, like the pair in this stock photo.
But a German gardener apparently took his job very, very angrily. 
One of my jobs, in the warmer time of year, is to tend peoples' gardens.

I'm happy to report I've never had any kind of serious dispute with any of my clients. But if I did, rest assured I wouldn't go to the lengths a gardener in Germany seems to have done.

BBC reported this about the German gardener:

"Bernhard Graumann 59, was found dead on Friday. Police believe he may be behind an explosive trap that killed a 64-year-old doctor on the same day. Two other people with connections to Graumann were injured by an exploding piece of firewood in their home."

A 37-year old woman threw the log in a wood stove, unaware it was booby trapped. It exploded, injuring her and her daughter, age 4. The mother and daughter's injuries weren't life threatening, but still.

Another booby trapped log was found at another house where Graumann had dispute with the homeowner, but the homeowner found it. Police were called, and they blew it up away from anyone and anywhere it could cause harm, the Associated Press reported.

At least 60 people have called a hotline set up after these incidents. The people were worried they'd had a dispute with Graumann and might have been targeted.

Authorities suggest anybody who had a conflict with Graumann while he tended their gardens maybe ought not totally trust their plots of daffodils and early spring vegetables.

You never know what might explode.

Police searched Graumann's home, where they found gunpowder and other items covered by German explosive regulations, says the BBC.

I've always thought of gardening as a peaceful endeavor. It gives me a sense calm, serenity, even when I'm working for a nitpicky client. I think that's true of just about everybody who gardens.

Which tells me this Graumann character in Germany really had problems.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Randy Rainbow Alert: Yet Another One, As Naturally We Get A Trump/Kim Summit Edition

Randy Rainbow is at it again, this time skewering Donald Trump
and the recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Randy Rainbow keeps cranking them out, and I dutifully post them in this here blog thingy.

I'm a fan boy, deal with it.

This time the tune is "He's In Love (And We're All Going To Die.)" This cheerful tune is a parody of the song from South Pacific, "I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy."

At the start of this video, like all Randy Rainbow videos, it starts with a "news" interview. This time Randy introduces President Donald Trump as "the castoff from Bachelor Hanoi." This, of course focuses on the star-crossed recent summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

I won't give away anything else, but one is full of zingers, as usual. And as always, this video is a delight.


You Must Watch/Hear This Jennifer Hudson/Sir Tom Jones Performance From The Voice UK

Jennifer Hudson and Sir Tom Jones performed an epic
duet during an episode of The Voice UK 
Jennifer Hudson and Sir Tom Jones are judges on this season of The Voice UK in Britain.

The Voice, for those who don't watch reality shows, is one in which accomplished singers act as judges and pick worthy contestants based on their voices, not their looks. (The judges listen to contestants' auditions facing away from them.)

Once contestants are selected as the show's season progresses, contestants pair off in "battle rounds" in which the judges pick one of two contestants who perform duets.

During a break in The Voice UK, fellow judge Olly Murs was asked what his dream battle round would be. He responded he'd like to see Hudson and Jones go at it.

So they did, with "It's A Man's Man's World," you know, the Etta James classic.

The result from Hudson was what you'd expect out of her: Just incredible vocals that will blow you away. The surprise, at least to me, was Jones, age 78. He totally knocked it out of the park, too.

It's totally worth watching and listening to this "battle round." Here it is:

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"Superstore" Ad Is A Wonderful Biting Commentary

I usually have little patience for TV promos, you know, those things networks play during commercial breaks telling you how wonderful the upcoming season of whatever show will be.

Right now, though, NBC is promoting a new season of "Superstore," a comedy I actually like quite a bit because of its somewhat cynical, but accurate and biting take on the service economy and large corporate retailers.

I actually think the promo is terrific. Yeah, on one level it's just telling you to watch the show. But it really hits at the daily humiliations many people in service jobs have to endure at the hands of soulless, cheap and abusive corporate offices. And the awful things these workers must wear on the job!

Not all corporations are like that, of course, but a fair number are. So I like how this promo skewers this piece of society and capitalism.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

Crazed Man Holding Pillow Outside In Minnesota? Maybe

People in Jordan, Minnesota thought this was a deranged man
standing out in the street. It was just a cardboard cutout,
but I suppose the mistake was understandable
Police in Jordan, Minnesota got a weird call the other day.

It was freezing cold, and a person reported a deranged man standing motionless outdoors, with no coat on, hugging a pillow.

Police raced to the scene, only to find a cardboard cutout of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Well, that was an easy mistake. If you've seen any of the company's TV ads, he does look like he's a bit much. And the premise of the ad is something: A sleepy couple encounter Lindell inside their bathroom medicine cabinet.

I don't know about this company's pillows, but I do know if this medicine cabinet encounter happened to me, I'd probably never be able to sleep again.

According to Jordan, Minnesota police, "Those cardboard cutouts sure can look real from a distance and the caller certainly was not wanting to get too close thinking who is this deranged person standing outside in the cold hugging a pillow."

Or, for all we know, the person who called police knew it was a cardboard cutout but was still freaked out anyway. A plausible scenario, don't you think?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Woman Calls Cops On Black Guy Because His Dog Humped Her Dog Horrors!

"Dog Park Debbie" calls the police to a dog park
because a black man's dog humped her dog
In a ridiculous video, one that might have racial issues like "Barbecue Becky," "Permit Patty" and "Cornerstone Caroline"  we have a white woman calling the cops on a black man at a dog park.

This time, it's because the guy's dog started trying to hump the woman's dog, as dogs tend to do. They don't always behave, do they?

The man got the dog off the woman's dog, and neither animal appears to have been harmed. The man, named Franklin Baxley, did have to get his dog off the woman's a couple other times. Later, the woman's dog did the same to Baxley's but I guess that's OK.

But in a classic overreaction, the woman called the Attleboro, Massachusetts police.

I don't know if the woman was being racist, because I don't have a lot of context from the video. But it appears to fit a pattern of white people calling the police on black people for just doing things that normal people do, like having a barbecue in the park, entering their own apartment building, or allowing their kid to sell bottled water on the sidewalk during a hot afternoon.

To Baxley, this did seem racial, and I can see why he thinks this way: He told Yahoo News: "The woman wanted to impress upon me that she was superior...Her first instinct was to call the police when in conflict with a black person."

This kind of thing just doesn't stop, does it?  I mean, the woman could have kept her dog away from Baxley's dog if she was that upset, but nope! First reaction is to call the police. I'm sure she's going to enjoy her 15 minutes of fame.

I'm sure the cops were a bit annoyed by the waste of time they had to endure sorting this out. Can we please not call the cops unless we have an actual emergency? Here's the video:

Sunday, February 24, 2019

President Trump Just Proposed An Original, Awesome Idea For The Fourth Of July

President Trump proposes making the Fourth of July
all about him because of course. 
How's this for an idea to celebrate our nation's birth.

On July 4, have a nice, big parade, with bands, floats and cheering crowds. Throw in a great afternoon of picnicking and partying, then top it all off with a big fireworks display.

Nobody thought of this great idea until our fearless leader, President Donald Trump announced the idea today. 

Well, OK, there have been juuuusst vaguely similiar events on the Fourth of July for many years.

Such as what happens on July 4 every year: A nice, big parade, with bands, floats and cheering crowds. Throw in a great afternoon of picknicking and partying, then top it all off with a big fireworks display.

But Trump announced the idea today. So it's new! And his idea has an added bonus: "An address, by your favorite president, me!"

Of course, if Trump isn't your favorite president, I guess you're not invited.

Never mind that Washington DC has been home to a Fourth of July celebration for decades at least. Now, it's going to be all about Trump. Because everything has to be all about Trump. I mean this blog post is all about Trump. See?

Trump's Fourth of July idea seems to have garnered a few skeptical responses on Twitter and elsewhere.

Most of the comments are along the lines of, you idiot, we do that kind of thing every year.

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-CA wrote on Twitter:

"If this goes well, I think we should follow it with a big party in Times Square the night before New Year's Day."

Wow! All these great ideas emerging! What will they think of next?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Supreme Court Nails Local Cops For Stealing Stuff

The Notorious RBG wrote Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court
decision restricting civil forfeiture. 
I've complained before in this here blog thingy about something called "civil forfeiture."

It's been increasingly popular among some local law enforcement agencies across the country. It's basically "legal" theft.

Though as of Wednesday, it wasn't so legal anymore. The U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimiously that the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applies to individual states as well. That makes total sense to me and should be obvious.

Nonetheless, if you can get the most conservative and the most liberal Supreme Court justices to agree on something, that probably means they want to get rid of something that's terribly wrong.

There's no doubt about it. Civil forfeiture is indeed wrong.

Civil forfeiture essentially occurs outside the court system. It started as a pretty good idea: Civil forfeiture targeted large criminal enterprises by siphoning their money and supplies and resources away. No money supply and the cartel or whatever shrivels.

But then, many police departments discovered forfeiture was a way to boost their budgets. They would seize money and goods from people they arrested, which might be OK if the people involved were actually convicted of a crime and the amount of stuff taken was in line what the fines and such would have been anyway.

However, local law enforcement in some jurisdictions got into the habit of seizing cash, cars, real estate and other property from people who were not convicted of a crime, or in many cases, not even charged with a criminal offense. Then, these law enforcement agencies would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for people to get their property and cash back.

It's gotten so bad that some police departments have taken to randomly pulling over people with out of state license plates over for trumped up traffic violations. The police would then take any cash that was in the vehicle and that's it. To me, that's theft. To these corrupt police department, they called it "law enforcement."

Yeah, right.

A lot of people besides the nine members of the Supreme Court are saying good riddance to civil forfeiture, although I'm sure it wil continue in some form as crafty law enforcement agencies find loopholes around the ruling.

Again, forfeiture opposition makes strange bedfellows. I mean, the ACLU and the conservative Cato Institute are against civil forfeiture. If you can get those two groups to agree, that's something.

There are countless horror stories out there about civil forfeiture. One of them was the case the Supreme Court decided on Wednesday, Timbs v. Indiana. Police confiscated Tyson Timbs' $40,000 Land Rover after he was caught selling $400 worth of heroin.

Nobody questioned the fact that Timbs needed to bear consequences for his crime.  But Timbs had purchased the Land Rover legally: He used a life insurance settlement from his father's estate.

As the Huffington Post describes the case, Indiana law says people convicted of crimes like Timbs' should pay no more than $10,000 in fines. The Land Rover the cops seized was worth four times that.

One Indiana judge said the seizing the car was disproportionate to the crime. But Indiana's highest court overruled that lower court judge, saying the U.S. Supreme Court has never said that the Eighth Amendment's ban on excessive fines applies to states as well as the federal government.

So, the U.S. Supreme Court had to state the obvious today, in a ruling written by the Notorious RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: That the Constitution - not just parts of it, but all of it, applies to the states.

The Supremes also based their decision in large part on the 14th Amendment, which says "no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

Well, again, duh!

I guess Supreme Court watchers could see this decision coming since November, when the Supremes had oral arguments in the case. Justic Neil Gorsuch scoffed at Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, who was arguing that it how the 8th and 14th amendment had supposedly never been tested this way. "Here we are in 2018 still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights... Come on, General," Gorsuch said.


Even before Wednesday's Supreme Court decision, states had been feeling the heat and beginning to at least consider cracking down on civil forfeiture.  Frankly, I think the only people who liked this grifting was corrupt so-called law enforcement agencies.

In South Carolina, the Greenville News recently published the results of a two-year investigation it conducted with other news organizations regarding civil forfeiture in that state. The Greenville News reported that South Carolina police collected $17 million in forfeiture money and property between 2014 and 2016.

In almost a fifth of those South Carolina seizures, people whose property was taken by police were never even charged with a crime, never mind convicted. One South Carolina example that Reason cited was of an elderly woman whose house was nearly taken away by the cops because a few small-time drug deals were conducted on her property.

The woman had nothing to do with the drug deals, and any time she became aware of somebody dealing drugs on or near her property, she tried to shoo them away. (Which is brave of an old lady. You never know what these drug dealers can do.)

The Greenville news investigation results were so odious that the conservate law-and-order South Carolina legislature began considering a bill that would require a criminal conviction before any property could be seized from someone.

That legislative effort might have something to do with something that Jarrod Bruder realizes now that he shouldn't have said out loud, but it is what everybody assumes.

Bruder is the Executive Director of the South Carolina Sheriff's Association.  As the Greenville News reported: 

"(Bruder) said without the incentive of profit from civil forfeiture, officers probably wouldn't pursue drug dealers and their cash as hard as they do now. If police don't get to keep the money from forfeiture, 'what is the incentive to go out and make a special effort?' Bruder said. 'What is the incentive for interdiction.'"

Um, maybe police incentive to enforce laws is because it's their job? Wild suggestion, I know.

Reason said three states had already passed similar laws and 29 states had passed some sort of civil forfeiture reform, so you know this was getting pretty unpopular.  Still law enforcement is still  resisting the trend, and many of them will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to comply.

New Mexico passed a law last year in which civil forfeiture could only take place if there is a criminal conviction. Incredibly, some New Mexico cities ignored the law, saying the municipalites could opt in to the law if they wished, but didn't have to.

Nope. New Mexico courts said, again, being a version of Captain Obvious, that a law was a law and everybody had to obey it.

In Oakland, California, the FBI cracked down on a crooked landlord who was illegally trying to evict residents so he could make a lot more money on rent. So far, so good. But then, says KQUED, U.S. Marshalls seized the property.

They now want to evict the residents so they can have an empty building that would sell for a huge profit in the Bay Area's tight housing market. Who cares if they make people homeless if there's profit to be made, right?

The residents, and Oakland, and California officials are fighting this.

All this means that the Supreme Court ruling was a victory, but local, state and federal jurisdictions better keep an eye on rogue law enforcement agencies out there.  They're supposed to enforce the law, but some of them are stealing just as boldly as a guy with a gun holding up a liquor store.