Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pound for pound

Hello and welcome to Consumers' Corner, where we will address marketplace issues that affect us all.

First up is this report from New York, New York - "the town so nice they named it New York." Their Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Julie Menin, says Whole Foods supermarkets have made a habit of cheating their customers by overstating the weight of prepackaged meat, dairy and baked goods.

Let's talk about these stores.  Since it's hard for me to distinguish among Whole Foods, Fresh Market, MOM'S Organic Market, and the dim aisle with wooden floors and track lighting in Wegmans, I just call them all "The Hippie Store."  They all have great heaping bins full of granola and bulgur wheat and brown rice and dried kale and seeds and nuts and flours and grains and split peas and lentils
and I don't know what-all else, and in those plastic tubs, one can find most anything they want to eat, as long as one doesn't want it to be especially tasty or easy to prepare.

"Mantequilla" is Spanish
for "butter"
I get so confused with the news about food anyway. One day bacon and coffee are bad for you and wine and chocolate are good for you, and the next day, they change places.  And then, you study Spanish and find out that butter is meant to kill ya.

Lentils, Peas and Rice: America's Snack!
But, whether it's the deli at Try 'N' Buy or the upscale slice-a-rama at the swanky stores, a pound of ground beef should weigh 16 ounces anywhere.  Even if it's not all beef.  Just saying.

In New York, the Consumer Affairs Department examined 80 pre-packaged WF products and found incorrect weights for each.  You'd have paid  - overpaid -  80 cents for a package of pecan panko. And that's assuming that you even meant to purchase pecan panko.  If you were buying coconut shrimp, you were really in for a hosing, to the tune of a $14.84 markup.

Check out the video before you check out at the grocery store! You'll be a-gassed, as they say.

Nathan Thurm, Attorney
By the way, you have to like the guy from Whole Foods whose advice to you is to challenge the store to be certain that 8-oz package of gluten-free organic Gluten you just picked up really weighs half a pound. Go weigh it yourself, if you don't trust us, he admonishes. Dear Whole Foods, you might want to get a public spokesperson who doesn't remind us all of Nathan Sturm, Martin Short's lawyer character on SNL...

And our next letter comes from Mr D. Sweat of Clinton State Prison in New York State.  Mr Sweat writes: "OK, me and my partner Rich bought a pound of ground beef to cook in our cell in our little toaster oven, but when we opened that package, inside the meat we found hacksaw blades and drill bits in it.  We think there was something wrong with that meat; every since we done ate it, we've been breaking out."

Answer to Mr Sweat:  Is there too much lead in your diet?

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's a gas

You can bet that doctors are going to be a little more careful in how they talk about their patients in the future, following the awarding of a half a million Doctor Dollars to a man from Vienna, Virginia. The man, unidentified in press accounts, went to a medical suite in Reston, Va. for a colonoscopy.  He had a pretty good idea: he hit the "voice record" button on his smart phone so as to capture the post-procedure instructions his doctor would give him.

On the way home, he pressed play and was surprised to find that a) he had let the thing keep recording all along   and
b) the anesthesiologist and her staff were big-time goofing on him all through the procedure.

Anyone over 50 knows the pleasure of spending one day at home, draining the crankcase, as it were, so that the next day the doctor can slide a hose up the old sit biscuit, a hose with a flashlight and a camera and a microwave on the end of it.  The purpose is serious; they are looking for polyps which could become cancerous, so it's worth it to have this completely embarrassing and inconvenient ordeal done to you every so often (doctors recommend at least three of them per month, just to be safe.)

Anyway, the doctors weren't just insulting him to his second face; they were also rigging up a false diagnosis on his chart and planning to avoid speaking with him afterwards.

On the recording, one hears such delightful, professional passages as, "After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit,” (anesthesiologist to nurse, about him.)

A medical assistant saw he had a rash. The anesthesiologist told her not to touch it. "You might get some syphilis on your arm or something. It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right."

And, the most disgusting of all (and that took some doing): The man was queasy when watching the IV needle being placed in his arm, and this wonderful anesthesiologist said, “Well, why are you looking then ?”

And she used that vile "r" word that I abhor.

And there were other horrible things, and in a suit for defamation and medical malpractice, a Fairfax County jury ordered the anesthesiologist and her practice to pay him $500,000.

The name of the anesthesiologist is Tiffany M. Ingham.  At  42, she is acting like a six-year-old playing doctor.  The Washington POST said she has left the practice and moved to Florida, and has already left the job she recently started there.

A spokesperson for Aisthesis, former employer of Dr Ingham, said in a statement: “We apologize to this patient and regret the distress and suffering that this most unfortunate incident caused. The anesthesiologist involved  is no longer with our practice. Once we learned of this incident we assured that every anesthesia staff member reviewed and reiterated their pledge to abide by our professional organization’s code of ethics.”

The man was awarded $100,000 for defamation — $50,000 each for comments about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis — and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages.

Listen. We understand that doctors are only human, and we men know with certainty that while we are under sedation, a veritable phalanx of doctors, nurses and medical staff will be goofing on our noodles.  We just wish they'd be nice about it, but maybe having to shell out half a mill will help.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Rerun: She Must Have Been Very Mad

As Stewie would say..."here we go.........."

From NBC News:

Authorities in Maryland say two women threw bleach and another chemical on each other during a fight at a Walmart, prompting officials to evacuate the store for two hours and call in a hazardous materials team.
Fire officials say 19 people had to be taken to hospitals, although only one was thought to have serious injuries. That person was taken to the Wilmer Eye Institute with a potentially serious eye injury.
Fire officials were called to the store in the Baltimore suburb of Arbutus shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday.
Fire Department spokesman Glenn Blackwell says one person was arrested and charges are pending.
"This is obviously not the type of behavior we would expect from people at our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused to our customers," Walmart officials said in a  statement.

This is the other end of the county from here,  but do you see what's going on?  Unwilling to rely on conventional weapons, this woman chose to wage chemical warfare on the new girl seen on the arm of her baby daddy, according to the police down there.  And not only did she toss bleach on her rival, she followed that with Pine-Sol, which contains ammonia, and every schoolkid knows, that's a combination that makes chlorine gas and other unpleasant reactions.

They had to evacuate the entire WalMart on a Saturday morning, causing moans to be heard from here to Bentonville, AR.

And then the bleach-bomber showed up at the police station, asking to take out a protective order to keep the victim from getting back at her!

Now I have to worry every time I go into a WalMart.  I can assure you, if you're looking for the guy who is stepping out with your baby momma, I am not the guy.  Among my manifold sins you will not find infidelity.

But there just might be those who would want to toss something unexpected on me in a huge megastore.  For their convenience, here is a list of things that I would accept as incoming liquid projectiles:

  • Kozy Shack rice pudding is always nice.  Reminds me of diners.
  • English Leather after shave.  It's all I ever use, after I shave.
  • National Bohemian beer
  • A homemade milkshake 
  • Cole Slaw
Rice pudding!
So you see, there is no real need to toss hazardous chemicals at one another, when much more pleasant fluids can be flung. If you ever see much dashing out of a WalMart with bits of cole slaw trailing behind me, and smelling like I just shaved, please say hi! And I'll share the rice pudding.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, June 27, 2015

You can't pull the wool over these peoples' eyes.  Sheep lovers are combing the Google Maps for pictures of sheep, and you can go here: http://www.googlesheepview.com/ to make up your own yarn.
This week's album cover is a new one from Nellie McKay (she was born in Scotland, so you pronounce her surname mcKYE).  She brings music to us on her ukulele and piano and her amazing voice. There are cover versions of some great old songs on here, and remember, she's the woman who told Garrison Keillor he looks just like Grumpy Cat, so she is not without a fine sense of humor.
My friend Jennifer Waldera had a rebus on her FB page and it reminded me of a time when Rebusmania gripped the nation and everyone was running around with quotations spelled out in words and pictures.  It didn't last for very long.
In Africa, they have a saying, "It's not the size of the warthog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the warthog."  Stampy, Jr. here is about to back down.
90's supermodel Niki Taylor says her life was saved in 2001 after she was in a bad car wreck and needed lots of blood transfusions, so she is paying it back by working with the Nexcare bandage people to encourage us all to get with the Red Cross and drop off some blood.  I have done this 52 times over the years, and I often wonder who wound up with my type A+ coursing their veins and if any of them suddenly became a) Democrats  b) avid readers c) Orioles fans or d) supermodels.
Prices here at "Barts Eats" seem fair, although 95 cents for one onion ring seems a bit pricey.  I wouldn't eat Bo log na for any reason, and I wonder what the heck a "turkey log" might contain.
 Charleston. Nine doves.
I used to tell corny jokes, but that's all behind me now.  I just heard about a married couple that argues all the time.  He wanted her to repair the holes in his socks, and she wanted him to buy her a stuffed owl for her birthday.  Last I know, he was saying, "If you don't give a darn, I don't give a hoot!"  Owl see you next week!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Take Him Out of the Ball Game

Many Major League ballplayers are men who started playing baseball in the yard with their dad or someone, tossing a wiffle ball, and then graduating through the ranks to Little League, high school, college, and minor league ball, until they reach the major leagues.  

Baseball fans are a devoted bunch, and they plan family outings to the ballparks to see their favorite players slug it out on diamonds across the nation.  Watching the very best of the very best play the very best game in the world (sorry, soccer!) is a great pleasure.

And them some clown like Steve Hartley decides to butt in.

Hartley is a Cubs fan from Andersonville, Illinois.  Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field had the Los Angeles Dodgers in town to meet the Cubs, so Hartley brought his 7-month old son, Isaac, to the game.  

There is nothing wrong with that. 

Hartley was bottle-feeding the infant in a front-row seat near the visitors' dugout during the second inning when Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel popped a foul fly in their direction.

Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodger first baseman, ran and reached over the rolled-up tarpaulin (known as the "tarpoleon" in Baltimore) to grab the ball, only to watch Hartley grab the popup with his right hand while holding baby Isaac with his left.

“I was just feeding him and I saw the ball coming our way and held on to him and made sure I protected him and I stood up and it kind of just fell in my hand,” Hartley said.

"I made sure the baby was out of the way and sat back to watch a baseball player play baseball, instead of reaching over and inserting myself into the on-field action like an oaf," Hartley did NOT say.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly justifiably argued that Hartley had interfered with Gonzalez making the catch. Umpires reviewed the video. The play was indeed ruled fan interference.  Hammel was called out.  Gonzalez pointed out that, "It would have been more impressive if the baby had caught it."

Security came down and hollered at Hartley, but, really, what it is about people thinking they can just be part of the game like that? Catch all the fouls and homers you want if those balls reach the seats, but you aren't supposed to lean over the railing and affect the course of the game.

I do realize that everyone has the right these days to do anything they doggone well please, and I fully expect to see the day when a family takes little Fauntleroy to the Meyerhoff Hall to hear the town band play, and the child wanders down and starts in on the tympani during the concert, or cousin Iggy from out of town parades into the kitchen at a nice restaurant and starts cooking his own dinner because he *wants* to.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

He doesn't know Diddly

You do know why they call Sean Combs "Puff Daddy" or "P Diddy" or whatever he wants it to be this week, right?  Young Sean, at maybe 145 lbs at the time, played on the high school football team for the Mount Saint Michael Academy school in New York, and he would strut around puffing out his chest in an effort to appear burly or something.

Burliness: either of you have it or you don't.  There is no faking it.

Now, Combs has gone on to great success in the entertainment field, there's no denying. But as of Monday, to add to his previous arrests on charges of illegal weapon possession, bribery, and driving on a suspended license, he added three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making terrorist threats and one count of battery,

Here's the story of a man named Puffy:  His son Justin Combs plays for the University of California, Los Angeles, as a defensive back.  Young Justin is 5 feet, 7 inches, and is a reserve on the team.

I support the University of Alabama football team, where people that size are encouraged to wave banners and enjoy the games, dressed in crimson, in the student seating area of the grandstand. But anyway.

It's no surprise that His Diddiness shows up at UCLA football practice all the time. On Monday he was there and watched assistant coach Sal Alosi holler at his son. Imagine! A football coach hollering at a football player!  Why, the very idea!

(If the name Sal Alosi sounds familiar, you might remember him from his days as strength and conditioning coach of the New York Jets, until the time he was on the sideline and did the Hokey-Pokey, sticking his right foot in to trip a Dolphin who was swimming upfield.)

A fight between Combs and Alosi ensued as The Didmaster General rushed to defend the honor of his son.  He showed up in the coach's office and threatened to hit him with a kettlebell weight.

"You're 'Diddy,' Daddy!"
“I’m thankful that our staff showed the level of professionalism that they did in handling this situation,” UCLA head football coach Jim Mora said in a statement. “This is an unfortunate incident for all parties involved. While UCPD continues to review this matter, we will let the legal process run its course and refrain from further comment at this time.”

Combs bailed himself out of the LA County hoosegow after spending several hours filling the jail with his ego.  I imagine the other prisoners took up a collection to raise the bail.  Anything to get him away from there!

I've seen this nonsense all my life, and it's time for me to offer this advice to students of all ages whose parents are as overbearing and hyperinvolved and fastuous as is H.R. Pufnstuf Didarama:

1.  Go to college.
2.  Do well there.
3.  Don't let your parents know which college you attend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lafayette, we are still here!

With so much information available to anyone with a smart phone, personal computer, or 14-year old around, it never fails to stun me that people are willing not to know how to pronounce a word that's new to them.

Case in point - the French frigate L'Hermione has been visiting Annapolis and Baltimore over the past few days, and some local news anchors, bubbling with pride over the visit, have not done themselves very proud saying the name of the ship in the news on the news.  Some did - hats off to Mary Bubala at Channel 13; she got it just right - but let's just say that she was almost alone in pronouncing it correctly.  

It's "lair-me-OWHN," s'il vous plaît. Not HER-ma-mone, or Her-MY-ONIE.  That's the pronunciation in English, as in Hermione Gingold, the saucy British actress, or Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter stories.  The name comes from Greek mythology. 

The boat afloat in Baltimore harbor is the 2014 replica of the one sailed by Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette (1757 – 1834), the French aristocrat and military officer who came to America to fight in our Revolutionary War.  We just call him "Lafayette," because saying his full name would flip out too many local news anchors.  He was one interesting cat.  Born rich, he became an officer in the French forces at the age of 13, and came to America at 19, where he was commissioned a Major General and fought in the Battle of Brandywine, right up Rte 1 in Pennsylvania.  He was wounded there, but survived, retreated with his men, and saw action in the Battle of Rhode Island, after which he returned to France to seek help for America in their just and noble cause of freedom in the New World.

He returned here in 1780 aboard the Hermione, one of five ships the French sent to help us out, along with 5,000 soldiers.  In 1781, he was in Virginia, where his forces blocked the army of General Cornwallis until American and other French troops came in time to win the Battle of Yorktown, an important victory for the American side. 

He returned to France after the American Revolution, just in time to be in the middle of the French Revolution as commander of the National Guard. And at his death in 1834, he was buried in Paris under soil from the area of the Battle of Bunker Hill in Massachusetts. For all he did for both his native France and for the nascent United States, Lafayette is regarded as "The Hero of the Two Worlds".  It was at his grave that American Colonel Charles E. Stanton said the famous line "Lafayette, we are here!" as America repaid the French by having their backs in World War I.

So for all he did, let's thank him and say the name of his ship as it should be said! L'Hermione!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Good buy, Columbus

Let's say it's 1491, and then let's say you are Christopher Columbus, packing up for your voyage around the world.

From an early version of LL Bean, you have all your supplies, and that crazy hat you love so much.  But there is no Mapquest, no Google maps, no Shell station on the corner to give you a free folding map that once you open it you can never fold it back up again, and when you get home later on, the map is wadded up and sort of looks like a salad in the back seat with the "We saw the Bahamas!" Tshirt and "I ♥ America" brochure.

So how did Columbus find his way here, especially since this was a time when mapmakers thought that Japan was where the Bahamas are - a mistake often duplicated by today's airline baggage handlers?  Think about it, though.  From where you stand in your front yard, can you figure out where the next town is, let alone the next continent?  How did they even figure out where they were?  Mapmakers had to rely on the calculations of returning Explorers, and a lot of them came back with parking tickets on the windshield.

Cartographers (mapmakers) were part of an infant industry then. Fred Flintstone didn't care what town was north or south of Bedrock, but when Columbus wanted to take a vacation, he needed direction.

Lucky for him that a fellow named Heinrich Martellus Hammer, German by birth, was mapping what he thought the world looked like from his place in Florence beginning in 1480. By 1490, he had produced a flat map that looked a lot like the globe that Martin Behaim came out with a couple of years later.  Both the map and the globe show features not seen before in other maps...and historians now feel that they both borrow heavily from the maps that Columbus's brother Bart (Bartolomeo) had made in 1485.

Picture 1 - original map
In 1960, one of the maps known as the Martellus Maps, 79" by 48", was found in the glove compartment of a Dodge and donated to the Yale University library. As you can see from picture 1, you can hardly read anything on there, although it did make an interesting wall hanging at Yale for the past 55 years.

Picture 2 shows how the map looks now, since a team, backed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, photographed the map in 12 reflective colors, including several frequencies beyond the range of visible light.
They found this text near the map marking of the Indian Ocean, warning of the whale, "a sea monster that is like the sun when it shines, whose form can hardly be described, except that its skin is soft and its body huge."
(This is the same technology that allowed delicatessens to make those infra-red sandwiches before microwaves came along.) High tech software enabled the scientists to make a readable map, as well as several tasty hot subs.
Picture 2 - improved map

“We’ve recovered more information than we dared to hope for,” says Chet Van Duzer, a map historian who is leading the project.

Science is certain that Columbus himself had this map with him as he discovered America. Credence is lent to this notion by a newly-found rubber stamp marking on the left corner saying "Property of Columbus - Hands Off!"

I am certain that as soon as I get a chance, I am changing my name to Chet Van Duzer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fun in the Workplace (49th in a series)

I used to work, and I'll admit to pulling out the old smartphone during slow moments, maybe posting one of my bon mots   on FB or catching a weather or news update.  No harm, no foul.

But if things were busy at work -if someone or some flu outbreak was setting the world on fire - I would always leave the Samsung in its little holster. It's just common sense, of which I have precious little.

And it was not my misfortune in life to wind up playing third base for the Boston Red Sox.  This year, they hired a fellow named Pablo Sandoval to watch line drives skittle past him and on into the left field corners at Fenway Park and other stadia. Sandoval, a former San Francisco Giant, has not been exactly setting the world on fire, or impressing the fans in Beantown with his lacklustre hitting, fielding or running.

You'd think he'd be looking up
conditioning tips on his phone instead
And then, last Thursday, the man known as "Kung Fu Panda" to his few remaining fans was shown to a seat on the bench from which he was to sit and watch his team play the Braves.  In other words, he was benched, because the night before, DURING THE GAME that his team was losing 5-2 to the Braves, Sandoval found it necessary to take his mind off that game and "like" some woman's photos on Instagram.  Follow him at kfp48.

Jared Carrabis, a Red Sox blogger for Barstool Sports, was also on IG at the time, but it's a little different for him, and he blew the old whistle on Sandoval, who, caught red-handed making a little red heart on the woman's pics, came clean and admitted his lack of attention to what he is being paid $95 million to do for the next five years.

John Farrell, manager of the Sox, probably would love to wash his hands of the whole underachieving overpaid team.  But you have to admit, this is funny.

So much so, I think I'll go "like" it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Rerun: Laundry does not hamper me

I hang my head in my shame over how many loads of laundry Peggy did over the first 40 yrs. of our marriage.  We've always divided up the chores very well; I love buying, cooking and  - heaven knows -eating food, and she is excellent at cleaning up (and loves to do it; it's part of her skills to be hyper-organized.)  I'll run the vacuum and dust about 1/2 of the time, but I will admit to being far behind in the bedmaking category.  Of course, when I have attempted to make the bed, it turned out looking like a pile of sheets and blankets that formed a wolverine's den somewhere, whereas when Peggy is through bending the linen, you expect to see a Marine drill sgt. walk in, bounce a quarter off the bed and say, "This is the way I want ALL these bunks made up, do you HEAR me?"

But I got started throwing the laundry in while Peggy was still working and it's an obsession with me now to throw soiled clothing into a metal box, toss in a little Arm & Hammer, throw a couple of switches and walk away, coming back to wet but clean clothes in 35 mins.  I take them out and put them in an adjoining metal box, push ONE button and walk off for half an hour and before you know it, I'm folding t-shirts and matching up socks.  

Why did they hold the truth from me about how much fun this is? 

Which brings me to this.  Recently the CEO of Levi Strauss, one Chip Bergh, appeared on the TODAY show and said that he would not be washing his jeans today, tomorrow or ever.   

“These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine,” he said. “I know that sounds totally disgusting. I know it does. But believe me, it can be done.”

That's what he said.  The article said that in the past, Levi's has suggested freezing your jeans - without you in them, one assumes - for killing cooties.  This Bergh says you can spot-clean them and air them out and they'll be wonderful forever.  Then Natalie Morales proved that she has never been within a hundred miles of Kansas by stating, "Spot-cleaning is not going to work when you’re on a cow farm."

And all across America, people realized that you can call a cattle ranch a "cow farm" and become an anchor on a network tv show, and you can be a maniac and be the head of a large clothing firm.

Or you can drop your laundry off to me for same day service.  In by 9, out by 4.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, June 20, 2015

Quick!  Name a sandwich that inspired a hit record!  Sometimes, you just have to have a hot pastrami sandwich.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50wYkq8DaVQ

This is a home owned by a practical joker who lives right in the flight path of a major city airport.  That city, of course, is Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Imagine looking out the window of your flight and having that horrible feeling that you are about to land in Cleveland, Ohio.
This New Yorker cover from 1986, by Arthur Getz, shows everything that's good about America...a volunteer fire house, members washing the pumper on a Saturday morning, and a local kid hanging around to help, dreaming of the day when he'd be a member too. Wistful autobiographical moment...

The members of the Byrds posed for this great album cover in 1965 - 50 years ago - and except for the goofy cape that David Crosby is sporting, the same kind of clothing still looks pretty cool today!
Jerry Colonna was a fine musician (trombone) who provided laughs as a sidekick to Bob Hope.  You can hear him in action on this old record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3JdXvJKpzY   Simpsons fans: Jerry was the first person to make "Ay caramba!" a popular quote.  And there is one of those "life coaches" by the same name as JC.  No relation. Ay caramba!
I know I prefer winter to summer, but there are some good things about summer. Grilled corn on the cob on the grill on the plate is a good thing!
This Norman Rockwell painting was called "The Rookie," and is shows a rube showing up for spring training with the big club, clearly not as daunted as he should be to be in the same room as Ted Williams.  By the way, you could have bought a copy of the magazine for 15 cents when it came out in 1957.  The original sold at auction last year for $22 million-something.  By the way, the picture is supposed to represent Mickey McDermott, a mildly successful pitcher whose checkered career led him to becoming a drinking buddy of Paul Gleason, the actor who played Mr Vernon in The Breakfast Club and the officious police lieutenant in Die Hard.  In fact, Gleason always played a self-important, bumptious oaf.
I always knew I was going to be a big fan of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, and here is why:  a great player is prepared for everything, even if that means wearing a pair of batting gloves and having another pair in your pants pocket, just in case.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Molly bloomed too soon

Everyone in town said there was something about that Molly Shattuck. 

"Aren't I just sinfully fabulous?"
There just seemed to be a little too much of her.  Molly, the trophy wife of the bigshot who was head of Constellation Energy Group, former corporate parent company of public utility Baltimore Gas & Electric, was just everywhere! Molly the cheerleader for the Ravens at age 40! Molly, author of books about being all vibrant! Molly, Committee member for the United Way of Central Maryland and the American Diabetes Association! Molly, one of The Daily Record’s Maryland Top 100 Women award-winners for 2012! Molly, winner of a Girl Scouts Distinguished Women Award last May! Molly on a FOX TV reality show called "Secret Millionaire," showing her going back to the hardscrabble Pennsylvania town she strutted away from many years ago, handing out money to those who didn't have the high heels or lack of moral fiber she possesses! Molly having sex with a 15-year-old boy!

And then the merry-go-round suddenly clanged to an abrupt halt.

We all know the deal.  She started diddling some kid who went to school with one of her kids at her beach place in Rehoboth, and the kid, who after all is underage and therefore illegal to be chosen as a sex partner, went to Baltimore County police, who notified Delaware, and Molly went from flaunting her figure to flouting the law.

It must be remembered that if this case involved a 47-year-old male doing the horizontal bop with a 15-year-old girl, the streets would be filled with people preparing tar and feathers, and rightly so.  People who say, "It's the best thing to happen to this kid!" apparently have no concept of how this will affect his sexuality for a long long time.

Meanwhile, Molly's outfits changed from splashy spandex to buttoned-up-with-a-tiny-cross necklace, and she put on some eyeglasses and a facial expression that merged dourness, penitence and crazed bewilderment.

The other day, she pleaded out, after being indicted on three charges in a Delaware court.  The deal that her attorneys cobbled out had her plead guilty to one count of fourth-degree rape. Charges of providing alcohol to minors were dropped.  Her earlier plans to plead not guilty and show the world how distraught she was were tossed aside like the empties that her staff cleaned up from her beach house after her Labor Day get-it-on party with this child.

Not so vibrant
Everything about Molly always seemed to say, "Pay attention to me!"  Or, "Pay alimony and child support to me!" as her divorce became final just at the same time these charges came out.  Now Molly is the one who is going to pay.  She is not allowed to have contact with any minors except her own embarrassed children, she has to register as a sex offender, and she faces up to 15 years in the calaboose at her sentencing in August.

What a pity, that a woman blessed with everything that some hold dear in life (looks, money, position in society) will be the one to pay in the end, with every last measure of her dignity.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

If you're like me, and thought that David Dunning and Justin Kruger were the shortstop/second base combo for the Minnesota Twins, don't feel too awful.  They are brainiacs from Cornell University who did all the research behind what people called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

In short, what their finding is, is that people who are really stupid don't even know how stupid they are because they are too stupid to understand how stupid they are, and conversely, people who are really intelligent underestimate how really intelligent they are, which is why they don't understand how other people aren't as smart as they are.

Examples of this can be seen any time you think of some gozzlehead picking up what he (and it's ALWAYS a 'he') thought was a dud firecracker, only to have it go off in his hand, or the guy who gets a severe injury at work from fooling around with the paper cutter and then, returning after a period of recuperating, demonstrates for his boss just what had gone wrong 5 weeks ago on his first morning back, resulting in another trip to the hand clinic.

(Then there was the guy who got injured by fooling around with the paper cutter when the paper cutter's husband showed up.)

Cletus from The Simpsons.  He was once beaten in tic-tac-toe by a chicken.
Great baseball players seldom turn out to be great baseball managers, because they expect that every raw-boned rookie out of Ashtabula, Albuquerque and Ahoskie carries with him the same hustle and determination that make the great so great.

You can see a video of John Cleese explaining all this.

I heard a wise man opine that there are four kinds of people: Those who know, and know they know; those two know, but don't know they know; those who don't know, and know they don't know; and those who don't know, and don't know they don't know.

That last group is supposed to be the worst to be around.  I don't know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Deep in the heart of Text-us

They say it's a joke, but I don't know.  Many a truth is spoken in jest, as someone once joked, and maybe these "text walking lanes" are serious business.

Chongqing, China and Washington, DC both have streets with narrow paths set aside for people who just have to be on their phones while they're walking along.  And right in my neighborhood, we kept seeing a woman walking along a rather busy road with her face down and her hands holding a an open book.  And since I was riding along in my automobile at the time, I couldn't stick with her to see what happened when she encountered driveways or intersections.  I do know that if she saw someone driving illegally, she was in a good position to play judge and really throw the book at them.

But here is a picture from Antwerp, Belgium, of their street with a clearly-marked lane for those who just can't wait to get home to tell their friends what "totally just happened like OMG!!!"

A local smartphone company over there, MLab, is paying for this as a promotion.  I don't think it's working very well; I can't remember the last time I got a text from Antwerp.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's not just here

Apparently, the rest of the world has decided to become as goofy as America, so rest easy.  We are still the worldwide leader in nonsense legal proceedings.

Zhao Wei, seen here, is one of the most popular actresses in China. She is revered there for having large eyes, but it's those eyes that are the subject of a recently-filed lawsuit.

Her new show, which premiered in May on Chinese TV, is called "Tiger Mom," and, as the name suggests, it's about a "strong-willed disciplinarian mother" who pushes her daughter to excel in all things, especially school.

The unnamed litigant watches the show, and, as a result, has filed suit against Ms Wei, alleging he has suffered "spiritual damage".

The crux of his argument, which seems a touch flimsy, is that the actress stares at him too intensely through his TV, and that's why his spirit is damaged, but a little of her money will make it all better. A lot of her money will make it just great. She looks at him, and he is mesmerized.

There are new laws in China that make it easier to file crazy lawsuits (again, everyone wants to be like US!) and so the case has been filed in the Shanghai Pudong New District Court.

I have but two thoughts on this (don't sue me):

a) The rest of the world watches American shows and then deduces that all our moms are like June from Honey Boo Boo or Michelle Bob Duggar. Actually, they are all like either June Cleaver or Clair Huxtable.  Or Morticia Addams or Kitty Forman or Peg Bundy or Marie Barone. Or your wonderful mom (too numerous to mention!)

Once he looked at a lady with
these eyes, she was
2) We use the word "mesmerize," often forgetting that a real person gave his name to the term. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815) was a German doctor who also studied the moon and the planets.  He claimed that there is a "natural energetic transference" that occurs between us. He called it "animal magnetism," and over the years, we have started calling this hypnotic attraction cast upon us by some beguiling someone "mesmerism."

This is how he got Mrs Mesmer to be his ever-loving honey child!  You can bet she was one satisfied customer.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Not all that long ago, lovable TV imp Bart Simpson was being blamed for knocking down stuff with a bulldozer that he had appropriated for inappropriate use.  Since mothers know everything, his mom, Marge, accused him of the whole caper, and Bart, playing the innocence card, said, "I don't know anything about that bulldozer! I can't explain things I don't know anything about! I'm not cable news!"

I bring that up to say that I am about to talk about things that are none of my business.  Not that that ever stopped me before, but this is about other people changing, and, well, I just feel they have the right to, AS LONG AS they apprehend the simple truth that they will have to deal with the changes they make.

It's like the right of free speech that we all enjoy so much, and how people need to remember that they can still be held responsible for the things they say freely.  Go ahead and say false things, but plan to pay for it in court.  Tell the insurance company that someone stole your diamond ring, but when they find out you never owned one, they will get every nickel back with interest.

Changes. Like Caitlyn Jenner.  I haven't a nickel in the debate as to whether Olympic champ Bruce was doing the right thing to pole vault from one gender to another.  If that was the right thing for her, go be happy.  And the furor over whether she deserves an athletic award for bravery needs to be argued with the people giving the award, not with her.  I'm sure she didn't go through all this just for a plaque at a banquet.

Like Joyce Mitchell.  She's been employed at the Walled-Off Astoria in upstate New York, part of the team of people charged with keeping inmates on the inside of the walls. Now she's charged with aiding the escape of two murderous misfits of society. So, one day, she's working at the prison and married to a man who also worked there.  Then the next day, she's getting tools and supplies to convicts Sweat and Matt, because she changed her mind about what side she was on.  Then she changed her mind again and failed to show up with the getaway vehicle as promised. Now she is changing her garish yellow top for a nice orange jumpsuit. Whatever changed her and made her want to dump her husband to run off with two murderers is between her and him; the part where she breaks the law to arrange to do so is our business.

But the person of change whose story is really none of my beeswax is Rachel Dolezal, the most talked-about person in America this past weekend. She is, of course, the woman who seemingly changed her appearance and has been passing as African-American in order to work for the cause of civil rights and justice.  Noble ambitions, for sure, and even the NAACP says that her innate ethnicity is no barrier to work or membership there. It's up to her and the local and national offices of that organization to determine whether her ends were all right all despite her means.  That's their business. 

Caitlyn will thrive in the show business life, and Rachel may well have her dignity and privacy restored.  They made choices to change, but broke no laws.  Joyce is going to find out that orange is the new orange for quite a few more years.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday rerun: Way Back When

We use the term "Neanderthal" to disparage a brute, a boor, an unsophisticated knave.  "Oh, he's just a Neanderthal!" we exclaim as a guy races by us in his jacked-up pickup, throwing beer cans and caution out the window.  "Irv wouldn't stop and pick up dinner for Grace on his way home; what can you expect from a Neanderthal like him?" we say.

What do we really know of Neanderthal man?

We know his brain was bigger than ours, which has to mean something! And for another thing, he was European, and today we associate that with grace and élan.  To us, a European drives a race car, drinks the finest brandy, wears a beret, says witty things while eating tidbits of cheese and sipping champagne.  Or she's a slinky fashion model or actress walking a pet ocelot along the beach at Cannes. 

To be technical about it, these folks are known as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis,  and they paraded around from about 100,000–40,000 BC, at which time they were replaced by the Eurasian early modern humans known as Cro-Magnon man, although it is widely felt that a small contingent of Neanderthals still live in the Oakland, California area (photo left).

There are small hints here and there in the research into Neanderthals that lead one to believe that these people were maybe a couple pineapples short of a luau.  For one thing, we have uncovered their primitive cell phones, and they apparently knew nothing of taking selfies, their playlists were redundant, relying heavily on the throbbing disco sounds of the 45,000 BCs, and they could not for the life of them figure out how to add new names to their contact list, so everyone, to them, was "Ogg." 

Neanderthal skull, still waiting
to be seen in a Neanderthal HMO.
And there was this: The very name "Neanderthal" was first proposed for forerunners of us brainy Homo sapiens by the Anglo-Irish geologist William King in 1864, and it's a good thing he came up with the idea to name them after a German river valley, because two years later, one Ernst Haeckel proposed calling them Homo stupidus.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, June 13, 2015

This just looks like a great place for a vacation - it's got everything! Swim in the lake, camp in the woods, go mountain climbing!
If there were no Ravens, and I had to choose a team to root for based solely on their colors and uniforms, I would choose the Cleveland Browns.  I love orange and brown - I have those colors of towels in my bathroom - and the colors say "fall" to me. But I hold no brief for Cleveland.  Did you know that if their basketball team wins the NBA Championship, that will be the first championship for a team from that city since 1964, when the Browns beat the Baltimore Colts for the NFL title?  Let's go, Golden State!
I thought that this showed the celebration in Cleveland when the Browns won that championship game, but no.  It's by an artist named Jan Steen, and it's called "Gamblers Quarreling" (1665.) You bet.
I used to prefer string beans to these guys, but now, I will take a pea any chance I get.
This is a picture from 17 years ago, and it shows Firefighter Mike Hughes, of the Wenatchee WA Fire Dept rescuing a little baby named Dawnielle Davison.  A classic reminder of what heroism really looks like.
This is a picture from one week ago, and it shows retired FF Mike Hughes at Dawnielle's high school graduation.  The two connected on Facebook and have remained friends with a great story to share!
Tony Bennett never sang all that well, for my money, but here is what his record company did for him in the 60's when the hits stopped coming his way: they made him record some songs currently popular for other people and slapped them onto an album with genuine Pop Art graphics designed to sell Tony to the young hip set, none of whom were interested in the slightest degree.  Is that really all there is?
This is one of those Magic Eye © photographs.  If you stare at the very center of the picture and sort of let your eyes go all kittywampus, you will eventually see the image of a horse appear!