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The original was awesome - the sequels and remake? Meh...

From Deadline:

Neill Blomkamp To Direct New ‘RoboCop’ For MGM; Justin Rhodes Rewriting Sequel Script By Creators Ed Neumeier & Michael Miner
EXCLUSIVE: MGM is developing a new installment of RoboCop and has set District 9 director Neill Blomkamp to helm the picture, which is titled RoboCop Returns. The studio hopes to revive a franchise that began with the Paul Verhoeven-directed satirical sci-fi action thriller that Orion released in 1987. Original writers Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner are producing and exec producing, respectively. Justin Rhodes, who co-wrote the Terminator film that Tim Miller is shooting, will rewrite the script that Neumeier and Miner wrote years ago as a planned sequel to Verhoeven’s hit, an installment that never happened. That duo is creatively involved in moving forward their creation for the first time since the original.

Blomkamp directed District 9, Elysium and Chappie - excellent films. The new Robocop should be a fun ride.

Dang - missed it by one day

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Missed what? National Dive Bar day:

On July 7, raise a toast to the place where friends gather and memories are made. It’s National Dive Bar Day!

From the one-time speakeasy to the little hole-in-the-wall, the dive bar is like an old pair of jeans; it just fits right. During the week, we can stop in, our team will be playing on the TV, and the beverages will be icy cold. The same dart and pool leagues meet every year, and familiar faces go head to head. Sweethearts still have date nights at the beach shack where they met 20 years ago, and in small towns across the country, the dive bar serves the best steaks for miles around.

The dive bar is more than just a place to kick back and relax. It’s where we mark out life’s plans, celebrate its successes and make memories to treasure. We make friends who become family and remember those who have left us behind.

National Dive Bar Day is about the first place to come to mind when it’s time to celebrate, to hang out with friends or just feel at home once again.

I love a good dive bar. Feel right at home.

From Infogalactic:

Sliced bread
Sliced bread is a loaf of bread that has been sliced with a machine and packaged for convenience. It was first sold in 1928, advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped". This led to the popular phrase, "best thing since sliced bread".

Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, USA invented the first loaf-at-a-time bread-slicing machine. A prototype he built in 1912 was destroyed in a fire and it was not until 1928 that Rohwedder had a fully working machine ready. The first commercial use of the machine was by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, which produced their first slices on July 7, 1928. Their product, "Kleen Maid Sliced Bread", proved a success. Battle Creek, Michigan has a competing claim as the first city to sell bread sliced by Rohwedder's machine; however, historians have produced no documentation backing up Battle Creek's claim. The bread was advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped."

Use it most days - handy.

A sobering comparison

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From Anton Troynikov by way of Jamie Zawinski

Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union

    • Waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it's of poor workmanship and quality.
    • Promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out.
    • Living five adults to a two room apartment.
    • Being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you.
    • 'Totally not illegal taxi' taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet.
    • Everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex.
    • Mandatory workplace political education.
    • Productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites.
    • Deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences.
    • Networked computers exist but they're really bad.
    • Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason.
    • Elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges.
    • Failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs.
    • Otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it's the only way to get ahead.
    • The plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work.
    • The United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default.
    • The currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless.
    • The economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users.

Scary true...

Affirmative Action restored

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Real Affirmative Action, not just some Social Justice Warrior's demands. From Zero Hedge:

Trump Reverses Obama-Era Policies On Affirmative Action
As Donald Trump moves to undo every last trace of Obama's legacy, the WSJ reported that on Tuesday, the Trump administration reversed Obama-era policies that encourage the use of race in college admissions "to promote diverse educational settings."  Instead, the Trump administration will encourage the nation’s school superintendents and college presidents to adopt race-blind admissions standards.

The reversal would restore the policy set during President George W. Bush’s administration, when officials told schools that it “strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods” for admitting students to college or assigning them to elementary and secondary schools.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the official announcement Tuesday afternoon.

"The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President," Sessions said. "In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That's wrong, and it's not good government."

The decision comes amid a DOJ probe whether Harvard was illegally discriminating against Asian-American students by holding them to a higher standard in its admissions process. The administration revived the probe last year after Obama civil rights officials dismissed a similar complaint.

Good - people should be able to stand on their merit and not their gender orientation or race. Hopefully, this will cut down on the number of Lesbian Yoga Studies courses too and we will have more Real Shit 101 classes.

From the Houston, Texas Chronicle:

Fentanyl-laced flyers placed on Harris County sheriff’s fleet vehicles in east Houston
A sergeant with the Harris County Sheriff's Office was hospitalized Tuesday after coming in contact with a fentanyl-laced paper flyer, authorities said.

The flyer was one of several placed on nearly a dozen sheriff's office vehicles at HCSO's recruitment and criminal investigations center at 601 Lockwood Drive in east Houston, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

A bit more:

The sergeant came across the flyer on her windshield Tuesday afternoon as she left work, Gonzalez said. She initially did not think anything of it but soon started to feel light-headed and showed other fentanyl-related symptoms.

She was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive as authorities investigate the flyers' origination. She was released around 4:30 p.m., authorities said.

"She caught it quickly," Gonzalez said. "We do know from our experience with fentanyl is that it can be very deadly. It's 100 times more potent than morphine."

And the flyers:

The flyers promoted the organization Targeted Individuals, an organization which believes that the "Deep State" targets certain individuals.

The group believes the FBI and CIA purposefully inflict mental, physical and emotional stress on enemies of the "Deep State," in part, by shooting microwave technology at their heads in order to cause brain damage, according to the group's website.

The organization could not be reached for comment.

Pure conspiracy theory stuff - get your AFDB's ready.

Hypocrite - David Hogg

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From The American Mirror:

Anti-gun protester David Hogg — protected by armed guards?
David Hogg is a VIP now.

The 18-year-old attended the Parkland, Florida school where a student murdered 17 people in February, then made himself famous with relentless calls for gun control in the wake of the tragedy.

Now he’s got a book deal, and publicists — and armed guards.

Sean Di Somma snapped some pictures of Hogg strolling the streets of New York City recently with his new entourage in tow.

Hogg is just as much a media whore as Stormy. A convenient tool who will be thrown away as soon as their usefulness to the deep state is over.

Don't you know you never go full retard. From The Boston Globe:

In an about-face, hospital will disperse portraits of past white male luminaries, put the focus on diversity
The employees and students who regularly gather in the Bornstein Amphitheater at Brigham and Women’s Hospital include women, blacks, and Hispanics. The 31 gold-framed portraits of medical luminaries that cover the walls do not.

The portraits are all of men. Thirty are white, and one is Chinese.

On Thursday, the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital plans to remove the paintings of the former department chairs, as part of its broader diversity initiatives.

Many of the paintings have spent decades in the prestigious spot. They hang in a room that hosts a growing array of cultural events, including the hospital’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Now they’ll be dispersed to department conference rooms and lobbies throughout the hospital.

Good God - these morons are re-writing history. Whitewashing.

Water usage - Iceland

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A fun observation from Iceland's The Reykjavík Grapevine:

Household Water Use During Argentina-Iceland Game Looks Like You’d Expect
Capital area utilities company Veitur tracked household water usage during the Argentina-Iceland match, and the results are pretty unsurprising.

According to their data, household water use took an unusually high upwards spike at about 11:00, some two hours before the match, and steadily declined until the match started. At that time, it dropped precipitously.

At halftime, water use spikes back up, just slightly higher than average levels for a typical Saturday, before dropping like a stone again once the match resumes. At the match’s conclusion, water use then returns to normal.

Contrary to popular myth, Iceland’s plumbing system was not overburdened with thousands of simultaneously flushing toilets during any part of this day.

And here is the data:


Censorship these days

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Glad that we have the First Amendment - not so lucky in Germany. From The Guardian:

Populist talkshows fuel rise of far right, German TV bosses told
The head of Germany’s most powerful cultural body has called for the plug to be pulled on the nation’s multitude of political talkshows for a year, arguing that their populist agenda has helped fuel the rise of the far right.

Olaf Zimmermann, who heads the German cultural council, an umbrella group for organisations from art galleries to television companies, said public broadcasters needed to step back and rethink a format that has helped cement gloom-ridden public attitudes towards refugees and Islam, and propelled the into parliament at last September’s election.

“I’d suggest for them, take a break for a year ... though the length of the intermission isn’t the decisive factor. What is crucial is that they return with new talkshow concepts and try to come up with more suitable contents with regards to social cohesion in our society,” Zimmermann said, arguing that the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF were obsessed with refugee-related issues, often framing them negatively.

Hey Mr. Zimmermann - stuff it! You progressives are all alike - ideas so good they have to be mandatory. Do you want to get people to like what you have to offer? How about offering them something they want instead of trying to cram your failing agenda and narrative down their necks.

2026 World Cup

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Barry tried but Donald delivered. From Yahoo:

U.S., Canada and Mexico win right to host 2026 World Cup
For the first time in 32 years, the men’s World Cup is coming back to North America.

FIFA’s 200-plus member associations gathered in Moscow on Wednesday and voted to award 2026 World Cup hosting rights to the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The North American bid – the product of over a decade of planning and campaigning – beat out one rival bid, Morocco’s, by a vote of 134 to 65.

And this April 2009 article at The Guardian:

Barack Obama issues support for USA 2018 World Cup bid
Barack Obama has written to the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, to signal his support for the United States' hosting of either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. In the letter Obama also recalls his early ties to football during his time spent as a child in Indonesia.

The difference? Leadership. Nobody wants to associate with a losing team.

From All Fin:

How Can We Explain the Coming European Idiocracy?
A recent paper in PNAS by Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg reveals a significant generational drop in IQ in Norwegian male cohorts — a “reverse Flynn effect.” Other researchers have found similar results in the UK. An IQ decline of roughly 7 IQ points per generation was seen by Bratsberg & Rogeberg.

Instead of getting smarter, humans have started getting dumber.
The study by the team consisted of analyzing IQ test results from young men entering Norway’s national service (compulsory military duty) during the years 1970 to 2009. In all, 730,000 test results were accounted for. In studying the data, the researchers found that scores declined by an average of seven points per generation, a clear reversal of test results going back approximately 70 years.  Source

Previous research from the UK had already discovered the problem:

The drop has been calculated to be between 2.5 and 4.3 points every ten years, according to two British studies.  Decline in IQ Ongoing

PNAS paper abstract:

Population intelligence quotients increased throughout the 20th century—a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect—although recent years have seen a slowdown or reversal of this trend in several countries. To distinguish between the large set of proposed explanations, we categorize hypothesized causal factors by whether they accommodate the existence of within-family Flynn effects. Using administrative register data and cognitive ability scores from military conscription data covering three decades of Norwegian birth cohorts (1962–1991), we show that the observed Flynn effect, its turning point, and subsequent decline can all be fully recovered from within-family variation. The analysis controls for all factors shared by siblings and finds no evidence for prominent causal hypotheses of the decline implicating genes and environmental factors that vary between, but not within, families.  PNAS

Much more at the site - they also talk about it in this post.

The reason explained in a movie:

Quite the trove in Iceland

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Interesting discovery - from the Reykjavík Grapevine:

Ancient Artefacts (Nearly) Lost In The Garbage In Iceland
MBL reports that the National Museum of Iceland received a peculiar phone call the other day, when they were asked to inspect a series of strange objects that had landed in one of charity shop Good Shepherd’s collection bins. The items in question, wrapped in toilet paper and placed in a plastic box, turned out to be priceless artefacts from antiquity.

Amongst the items discovered were spear points, axe heads, arrowheads and similar items, all of them obviously remarkably old.

Archeologist Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson was amongst those who saw these objects on the news when the story was first reported. By his estimation, they are actually far older than the Dark Ages estimation that reporters were bandying about. Writing on his blog on the matter, he believes that the spear heads, for example, likely date to the time of Christ, or possibly even older.

But the story gets even weirder.

The artifacts are now at the National Museum of Iceland - just wow!

Trailer - directed by Peter Jackson:

No word as to how good the plot is but it looks to be a grand visual epic. Website here: Mortal Engines

RIP - Anthony Bourdain

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From CNN:

CNN's Anthony Bourdain dead at 61
Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.

CNN confirmed Bourdain's death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.

Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, "Parts Unknown." His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning.

Crap - the guy could write and was a fun personality on the air. He will be missed.

A movie review

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Rex Reed at his best - from The Observer:

What Made Jodie Foster Agree to Star in the Worst Movie of the Year?
There are bad movies everywhere. And then there is 97 minutes of total garbage called Hotel Artemis. This shoddy, gross, cruel and nauseating freak show is the work of Drew Pearce, a writer of no discernible talent (Iron Men 3, Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation), making an atrocious directing debut. Moronic drivel that truly qualifies as the worst movie of the year, it sinks amateurish moviemaking aimed at audiences with no taste to an alarming new low.

The remaining seven paragraphs are just as fun to read. The premise could have been interesting but the trailer makes me yawn.

A tectonic shift

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Why should less than 4% of our population dictate how the other 96% lives their lives. From Reuters:

U.S. Supreme Court backs Christian baker who spurned gay couple
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado Christian baker who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.

The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

The ruling concluded that the commission violated Phillips' religious rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

What gets me is that this couple went screaming to their lawyers instead of just moving on and finding another baker. That is not how I live my life - if I have a disagreement with anyone, I will talk about it if they are sincerely interested and open and otherwise, I will STFU and continue with my life. David and Charlie give all the other flaming fa**ots out there a bad name. All about meeeeeeeee...

Major - from Infodocket / Library Journal:

The Library of Congress Receives Largest Donation of Comic Books in Library History, Includes the Original Storyboards that Document Creation of Mickey Mouse
The Library of Congress announced today that collector and entrepreneur Stephen A. Geppi has donated to the nation’s library more than 3,000 items from his phenomenal and vast personal collection of comic books and popular art, including the original storyboards that document the creation of Mickey Mouse.

This multimillion-dollar gift includes comic books, original art, photos, posters, newspapers, buttons, pins, badges and related materials, and select items will be on display beginning this summer.

The Stephen A. Geppi Collection of Comics and Graphic Arts has been on public display in Baltimore, Maryland, for the past decade and is a remarkable and comprehensive assemblage of popular art. It includes a wide range of rare comics and represents the best of the Golden (1938-1956), Silver (1956-1970) and Bronze (1970-1985) ages of comic books. The mint-condition collection is also noted for its racially and socially diverse content as well as the distinctive creative styles of each era.

And some items of particular interest:

One signature item in the collection represents the birth of one of animation’s most iconic characters. Six rare storyboards detail the story layout and action for Walt Disney’s 1928 animated film, “Plane Crazy.” It was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon produced, but the third to be released, after sound was added, in 1929. “Steamboat Willie” was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be theatrically released, on Nov. 18, 1928, which marks its 90th anniversary this year.

Wonder if they are planning to digitize these and make them available online - that would be an amazing resource.

Quote of the week

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From Woodpile Report (new editions every Monday night/Tuesday morning - a weekly read for me):

My daughter is looking for a summer job. She’s a millennial so she’s hoping to find part-time work as a CEO.
— brian kiley

From Bloomberg:

Our so-called "drug war" is useless and has always been useless. Portugal decriminalized drug possession and spent the monies directed to law enforcement to medical care and counseling. Excellent result. It is interesting to look at the situation here - only the criminal drug traffickers stand to profit by keeping the drugs illegal. Why have we not decriminalized drugs here in the USA - how much are the drug-traffickers paying our members of House and the Senate?

We have President Richard Nixon to thank for the opening salvos of this war in 1971. In 2009, ex-Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske was the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and rather than say the War on Drugs failed and try something else, he just renamed it - said the old term was counter productive. We still spend $51 Billion per year on this program that essentially does nothing.

A memorable voice - HAL 9000

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Great article on the voice behind HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. From The New York Times:

The Story of a Voice: HAL in ‘2001’ Wasn’t Always So Eerily Calm
“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you know the voice.

HAL 9000, the seemingly omniscient computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” was the film’s most expressive and emotional figure, and made a lasting impression on our collective imagination.

Stanley Kubrick’s epic, a journey from pre-human history to a possible infinity that doesn’t need humans at all, is probably the most respected, if not the most beloved, science-fiction film of all time.

The story of the creation of HAL’s performance — the result of a last-minute collaboration between the idiosyncratic director Stanley Kubrick and the veteran Canadian actor Douglas Rain — has been somewhat lost in the 50 years since the film’s release in April 1968. As has its impact: Artificial intelligence has borrowed from the HAL persona, and now, unwittingly, a slight hint of Canadianness resides in our phones and interactive devices.

Great story and a fun bit of cinema history.

Eliminating guns will stop terrorism in its tracks. Right? Not so much - from The London Daily Mail:

ISIS knifeman 'shouting Allahu Akbar' kills one and leaves four injured in stabbing rampage in Paris before being shot dead by police as Macron says 'France has once again paid the price of blood'
A terrorist shouted 'Allah Akbar' as he 'slashed at the the throats of innocent bystanders' in Paris last night - killing one and injuring four others.

Armed police swooped on the French capital's historic Opera Garnier opera house shortly after 9pm and used a taser on the attacker before shooting him dead when he refused to surrender.

ISIS later claimed the unnamed killer, in his 20s, was one of their 'soldiers' as President Emmanuel Macron said 'France has once again paid the price of blood'.

The price of placing a low barrier to immigration. Christianity had its reformation. Time for these folks to get with the big picture.

Quote of the day

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"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."
--Winston Churchill

From Reuters:

Swedish Academy to reform after controversy postpones Nobel prize
The Swedish Academy which decides the Nobel Prize for Literature said it would not make an award in 2018 and instead focus on internal reforms to restore its reputation in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and information leaks.

The scandals have threatened to undermine the credibility of the award and attracted unprecedented scrutiny of the Academy, a highly secretive body whose choices of prize winner fascinate and often baffle literature lovers the world over.

A bit more:

At heart of the row are allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by several women against Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and well-known cultural figure in Sweden who is married to poet and Academy member Katarina Frostenson.

He is also accused of leaking prize-winners’ names ahead of their official announcement, a major cultural event which is covered each year by the world’s media.

And the reformation:

Appointments to the Academy have been for life and there has been no formal provision under the arcane rules for members to resign. That has meant those who withdrew could not be replaced.

This week, King Carl XVI Gustaf revised the Swedish Academy’s rules to allow members resign. The change also means that members who have not participated in the Academy’s work for two years will be considered to have resigned.

Reformation can be good if done right - congratulations! Now if they could just do something about the Norwegian Peace Prize committee - it's last couple of laureates have been jokes.


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T and I are embarking on a campaign to declutter our lives. Some interesting statistics from Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist:

21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own
Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter. We tire of cleaning and managing and organizing. Our toy rooms are messy, our drawers don’t close, and our closets are filled from top to bottom. The evidence of clutter is all around us.

Today, increasing data is being collected about our homes, our shopping habits, and our spending. The research is confirming our observation: we own too much stuff. And it is robbing us of life.

Here are the first five out of Joshua's list of 21 - sobering:

    1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
    2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
    3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
    4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
    5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).

Much more at the site - we are drowning in clutter.

Starbucks in the news again

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Two days ago, I posted five  reasons why not to patronize Starbucks Coffee. The New York Times published reason number six:

Starbucks Employee Who Called Police on Black Men No Longer Works There, Company Says

... excerpted ...

On Thursday, the two men asked to use the coffee shop’s restroom. An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything, officials said. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police.

Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed over 10 million times on Twitter and that was described by Mr. Johnson as “very hard to watch.” Police officers surrounded the men and escorted one of them out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. But Starbucks did not want to press charges and the men were later released, Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a recorded statement on Saturday.

And a bit more:

The episode goes to the heart of how the company has modeled itself, with campaigns that address racial and social issues and promote its image as a community meeting place for customers to linger.

In 2015, the company encouraged its baristas to write the words Race Together on coffee cups as a way of promoting discussion and unity. Many were skeptical of the effort, pointing out that Starbucks’s own leadership was predominantly white.

A perfect textbook case of virtue signalling - Howard &co are saying cool edgy hip stuff to try to engage today's culture but all the while, their board of directors is populated with old white people and there is no apparent training of the staff.

Besides, their coffee is mediocre at best.

Pssst - wanna buy a bridge

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Really. Not the whole thing but individual two-ton sections. From Green Bay station WBAY:

2-ton sections of iconic Mackinac Bridge up for sale
A chunk of the Mackinac Bridge can be yours if you can get it home - which is easier said than done.

Sections of the bridge's original steel grating are going on the auction block. Each one is about 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) wide, 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and weighs two tons (1,814 kilograms).

The bridge is nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) long. It connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas and crosses the waterway that links Lakes Huron and Michigan. reports that seven identical sections of the grating will be sold in an online auction that ends April 19 at 9 a.m. EDT.

That would be fun for a bridge over a stream or pond - a bit of history.

From the Holidays Calandar entry for April 7th:

National Beer Day
National Beer Day is a holiday which is celebrated in the United States on April 7th. This day was established to not only honor the history of beer but also to celebrate the Cullen–Harrison Act – an act which allowed people to buy, sell and drink beer that had 4% alcohol by volume and was signed by FDR in 1933. The day in which it went into effect, over a million and a half barrels of beer were sold. Other countries which celebrate a National Beer Day include Iceland (March 1st) and the United Kingdom (June 15th).

Quite a few holidays out there - check the website for more listings.

Memo to self - avoid Mexico

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Used to be that the cartels did not bother the resort cities. That seems to have changed. Google translation from the Yucatan Diary:

Cancun with 98 executed
With a new wave of murders and attacks closed March and holy days contributed with at least seven deaths in Cancun and three more in Playa del Carmen.

Thus, the first quarter of the year ended with about 100 murders with violence in the municipality of Benito Juárez.

In addition, an execution attempt was reported in the 251 region of Cancún, on Lankin Avenue, near a shopping plaza. The injured, who received several bullets, was hospitalized.

Cancun is a gorgeous city but no way will I ever visit there again. Not until the Mexican government cracks down on the crime there. It is an interesting thing to note that Mexico has some of the most draconian gun laws in the world and yet their incidence of gun violence is very high.

About that Uber fatality

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It seems that both of the people involved had quite the interesting history - from the London Daily Mail:

Convicted armed robber who was behind the wheel of self-driving Uber when it killed pedestrian as she wheeled her bike across a road
This is the driver who was behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber car when it hit and killed a pedestrian - in a mugshot taken when she was serving a felony sentence for attempted armed robbery.

Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was the 'safety driver' of the automated Volvo when it hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona.

She had two felony convictions when she was hired by Uber for its self-driving car trials in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.

Her January 2001 conviction for attempted armed robbery led to a five-year sentence of which she served more than four years, being freed in November 2004.

And to make this story even more of a 2018 social train-wreck:

At the time she was known as Rafael and identified as male. It is not known when she transitioned to female.

And the victim:

Victim: Elaine Herzberg, 49, was homeless and had a string of drugs convictions when she was killed walking in front of the Uber self-driving car on Sunday night

Life in this era.

Work stress relief - Voodoo Doll

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An interesting alternative to work related stress from Mental Floss:

Bad Day at Work? New Study Finds a Voodoo Doll of Your Boss Might Be the Most Effective Way of Getting Even
Anyone who has ever had a boss has undoubtedly butted heads with that person and knows that it can make for an awkward vibe in the office. While it would be easy to let your resentment fester and possibly affect your work performance, scientists have a better solution: Get a voodoo doll.

As ScienceAlert reports, a new study published in The Leadership Quarterly found that when employees feel mistreated in the workplace, stabbing pins into a voodoo doll of their boss can be an effective way of managing the situation (and certainly a much better solution than stewing in anger). The study, led by psychologist Dr. Lindie Hanyu Liang, an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, found that engaging in "symbolic retaliation" against one's boss after perceived mistreatment eased participants' bitterness.

Quite the recovery - Degas painting

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From National Public Radio:

Customs Agents Search A Bus Near Paris — And Discover A Stolen Degas Painting
In December 2009, a small painting by Edgar Degas was quietly stolen from the Cantini museum in Marseille, France. Museum staff discovered Les Choristes was missing when they arrived in the morning, and the prosecutor suggested it could be an inside job because the painting had been unscrewed from the wall and there was no evidence of a break-in.

An investigation was launched, but eight years went by and the 1877 painting — worth an estimated $1 million — wasn't seen again.

That was until last Friday, when French customs agents happened to check a bus parked at a highway stop about 18 miles east of Paris.

The officers opened a suitcase in the luggage compartment, and there it was: pastels in red, orange and yellow, depicting a chorus from the opera Don Juan. In the lower left hand corner: Degas' signature.

The agents asked the bus passengers who owned the suitcase. No one claimed it.

Words of wisdom

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From Charlie Munger

“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”“Acknowledging what you don’t know is the dawning of wisdom.” “People are trying to be smart—all I am trying to do is not to be idiotic, but it’s harder than most people think.”

Our Prayers go out to Florida

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Another mentally ill person with known prior issues - from the Miami Herald:

17 dead, former student in custody after school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Broward
An American nightmare unfolded Wednesday afternoon at a North Broward high school after a former student came onto campus and opened fire, killing 17.

Details are beginning to emerge amid a flurry of police activity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where students puzzled at the sound of a fire alarm going off just before dismissal were launched into a panic when gunfire punctuated the din. As teachers and students fled hallways and hid under desks, a former student who teachers and parents say was known to be dangerous came onto campus and unloaded, leaving a trail of bodies and stunned confusion in his wake.

Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, 19, has been taken into police custody. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is reporting 17 dead, and is still working to clear all the buildings at the massive school, home to about 3,200 students.

Prior issues?

A teacher at the school told the Miami Herald that Cruz, 19, had been identified as a potential threat to fellow students in the past. Math teacher Jim Gard says he believes the school administration had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other teenagers in the past and that he should not be allowed on the campus with a backpack.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” said Gard, who said Cruz had been in his class last year. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Nutcases like this are looking for a reaction - if they just get a stern warning, they will always escalate until an event like this. Not saying that this could have been prevented but he certainly could have used some serious counseling instead of a warning and prohibition. Now we have to deal with another round of calls for gun control. Stupid people suck.

Lunacy to our North

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Building the wall - Seattle

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From The Seattle Times:

Seattle is putting fences under its bridges to keep campers out — and some say that’s wrong
Seattle is putting fences under some bridges where homeless camps set up. The city says it’s to prevent fires, but some City Council members are pushing back.

The article says that there are over 5,500 homeless living on the streets. I have zero problem with giving someone a hand up if they hit a rough patch in their lives but this is encouraging those on the edge to move to Seattle to take advantage of the taxpayer-funded free housing and food and money. We need better mental health treatment (i.e. institutions to house them) as well as the backbone to discriminate those who need a hand up and those who are chronic wastrels. Thank you President Kennedy.

Crap - RIP John Perry Barlow

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From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018
With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF's founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity's problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: "I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls 'turn-key totalitarianism.'”

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

He also had quite the side gig - from Infogalactic:

The seeds of the Barlow–Weir collaboration were sown at a Grateful Dead show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, in February 1971. Until then, Weir had mostly worked with resident Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Hunter preferred that those who sang his songs stick to his "canonical" lyrics rather than improvising additions or rearranging words. A feud erupted backstage over a couplet in "Sugar Magnolia" from the band's most recent release (most likely "She can dance a Cajun rhythm/Jump like a Willys in four-wheel drive"), culminating in a disgruntled Hunter summoning Barlow and telling him "take him (Weir)—he's yours".[6] In the fall of 1971, with a deal for a solo album in hand and only two songs completed, Weir and Barlow began to write together for the first time. Note: Capitol Theater New York Shows from February 1971 have no changes to lyrics noted above, all shows are on

The twosome hammered out such enduring songs as "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues", and "Black Throated Wind", all three of which would remain in the repertoires of the Grateful Dead and Weir's varied solo projects for years to come. Other songs to emerge from the Weir-Barlow collaboration include "Let It Grow", "The Music Never Stopped", "Estimated Prophet", "I Need A Miracle", "Lost Sailor", "Saint of Circumstance", "Hell In A Bucket", and "Throwing Stones". Barlow also collaborated with Grateful Dead keyboardists Brent Mydland then later Vince Welnick.

In 1986 Barlow joined The WELL online community, then known for a strong Deadhead presence. He served on the company's board of directors for several years. In 1990, Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with fellow digital-rights activists John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor. As a founder of EFF, Barlow helped publicize the Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games. Barlow's involvement is later documented in the The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992) by Bruce Sterling.[7] EFF later sponsored the ground-breaking case Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service. Steve Jackson Games won the case in 1993.

A true American Legend.

The Grammys - yawn

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Shows how disconnected the music industry has become - from Deadline Hollywood:

Grammy Ratings Fall From 2017 As Politics Dominate Music’s Biggest Night
Back in New York City for the first time since George W. Bush’s first term and drenched in the politics of the Donald Trump era, last night’s Grammy Awards was rockin’ with multiple wins for a very non-political Bruno Mars and a very, very political Kendrick Lamar. The more than three-and-a half-hour- long CBS show also had an audio book audition cameo by Hillary Clinton (see below), a use or two of the censor button, a lot of U2 and Sting, a powerful Time’s Up speech by Janelle Monáe and an equally powerful performance by Kesha and a chorus of supporters.

And how far down were the ratings?

With a 12.7/21 in metered market ratings, the Recording Academy’s big hootenanny was also way down from the early numbers from the LA-based February 13, 2017 59th annual show. By way down, I mean a just over 20% decline from last year to what looks to be an all-time low for the ceremony.

20% is big. And this from the New York Post:

Nikki Haley thinks Hillary’s cameo ruined the Grammys
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley showed some of her own fire and fury after Hillary Clinton and a number of celebrities read portions of a tell-all book critical of the Trump administration at the Grammy Awards.

“I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it,” Haley wrote on Twitter late Sunday during the show. “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”

President Trump’s son Donald Jr. also lashed out at Clinton on Twitter.

“Getting to read a #fakenews book excerpt at the Grammys seems like a great consolation prize for losing the presidency. #GrammyAwards,” he wrote Sunday.

Great tweet from Donald Jr. - Consolation prize indeed! That's gonna leave a mark!

Quite the collection - Movie posters

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From the University of Texas' Ransom Center:

Decades of movie poster history go online
It is difficult to envision the sheer volume of the Movie Poster Collection at the Harry Ransom Center. The collection encompasses upwards of 10,000 posters and spans decades: from when the film industry was just beginning to compete with vaudeville acts in the 1920s to the rise of the modern megaplex and drive-in theaters in the 1970s. The sizes range from that of a small window card to that of a billboard.

Even with the large volume of posters, the collection contains many images that stay with the viewer, often through bold, bright colors that have not lost their luster. Some are simple designs, like the poster for West Side Story (1961), with its a bright orange-red background over the title with a silhouette of a fire escape with dancers. Others are more complex, like Africa Texas Style! (1967), which features a realistic image of the protagonist on a horse, lassoing a zebra in front of a stampede of wildebeest, elephants, and giraffes all set against the backdrop of a mountain.

The collection can be found here: Movie Posters Collection - the Ransom center also has a lot of other collections available online - be sure to explore the box in the upper left of your screen. Hit the Show All button and be prepared to spend several hours browsing...

Crap - RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

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Used to read a lot of science fiction and she was one of my favorite writers. From The New York Times:

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88
Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

She will be missed but she left a wonderful canon of work.

July 2018

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Environment and Climate
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
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