Monday, February 19, 2018

Worse Eight Hour Flight Ever

Worst flight ever? This kid apparently screamed like a demon
during an entire eight hour flight this past summer from
Germany to New Jersey. He also climbed over
everything, including sometimes, passengers. 
Everybody's got stories of their Worst Flight Ever.

I think the people on an eight hour flight from Germany to New Jersey have one of the best stories.

A kid screamed like a demon during the entire flight. it really does sound like a horror movie. You can watch the video at the bottom of this post if you don't believe me.

This happened in August, but is getting more traction on line now.  The video tag line says the incident unfolded because the kid was addicted to technology and couldn't always have it, but I think more was going on.

This kid has problems. Screaming like that for a full eight hours? And climbing all over the seats and even people? Geesh!

Yes, we should be sympathetic to children who might have some sort of mental illness, but this still had to be The Worst for the rest of the people on the plane. I honestly don't know if the parents could have done their parenting job better, or that the kid might have autism or something else that made him uncontrollable.

This is only my opinion, but judging from the video, it didn't help that the mom seemed to try only half-heartedly to get the boy under control.  On some flights, I've had to deal with slightly unruly kids from time to time, but this is so out of control. My sympathies to the people who had to go through this.

Here's the video:



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Florida Teens Giving Me A (Slight) Glimmer Of Hope

Articulate teenagers like Cameron Kasky are trying - and
might succeed - at doing bribed, stupid and dumb politicians
won't do: Create sensible gun laws that don't
violate the Second Amendment 
Teenagers across America, particularly in Florida, have been embarrassing the rest of us this past week, and I couldn't be more delighted that they're doing so.

As you sadly know too well, we had another mass shooting last week, taking the lives of 17 high school students and teachers in Florida.

As always in these cases, which now seem to happen every day, the people who are supposed to be the adults in the room, especially many politicians, fail us.

They're supposed to lead us, but instead offer empty thoughts and prayers, clutch their pearls over people with mental illness, and above all, quake in fear over angering the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has long since decided that their ability to provide - and make plenty of money - from making sure everybody has unfettered access to any kind of weapon is worth a few dozen people getting killed in mass shootings every year.

After the Parkland, Florida mass shooting, teenagers in Florida are having none of it. The dignified rage, the logic and the resolve of these kids are putting us all to shame.

Current politicians will continue to kowtow to the NRA and nothing will immediately change. The millions of dollars politicians get from the NRA will grease the wheels to Capital Hill, with a gentle additional push from timid voters. Want an AR-15 to shoot up a school, concert or church? Knock yourself out!

For now.

These kids not only those in Florida, but the ones that are now part of a groundswell nationwide, will soon be old enough to vote. They've taken an activist cue from older people who are resisting the Trump administration, the Nazis, the white supremacists that seem to be gaining strength in this country.

The resistance from high school students in particular gives me a glimmer of hope that these teenagers will change things.

Their anger is building. And their message is getting more powerful. There's lots of examples.

Parkland student Cameron Kasky, interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper, didn't mince words. Kasky did heap deserved praise on teachers, staff and first responders, but has no patience for the thoughts and prayers crowd.

"Everything I've heard where we can't do anything and it's out of our hands and it's inevitable, I think that's a fa├žade that the GOP is putting up."

Kasky pressed on: "After every shooting, the NRA sends a memo saying 'send your thoughts and prayers.' This is the only country where this kind of thing happens. I've heard from other people, and they don't have gun drills. We had to prepare extensively at Stoneman Douglas. This something that can be stopped and will be stopped.

"There is a segment of this society that will shrug this off and send your thoughts and prayers but march for hours over a rainbow wedding cake."

That last line crystalizes the hypocrisy in the GOP more than anything. (By the way, the entire Kasky/Cooper interview is definitely worth the watch

As Wired notes, teenagers are more savvy at social media, and media in general, and know how to fight back against lies, gaslighting and self-puffery.  These students, amid the shock and terror of the attack, literally began to fight back against the NRA and their politician patsys as the rampage was ongoing.

David Hogg, a Parkland senior and reporter for the school's paper, interviewed students barricaded in a culinary classroom during the shooting. "No amount of money should make it more easy to get accessibility to guns," one frightened student told Hogg in that room.

Many of the students are wonderfully through with respecting some of their elders. But only the elders that are failing them.  The teens, gloriously, are not afraid to be blunt.

Professional idiot and, I guess, right wing pundit Tomi Lahren spewed the usual talking points, saying liberals and morons and the mentally whacked out are to blame for Parkland, not guns.

This prompted one student to respond on Twitter: "A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatizes from this tragedy. This could have been prevented. Please stfu  tomi."

Yeah, Tomi, probably best to listen to that student. I would, if I were in your shoes.

Here's another Twitter post from a Parkland student named Sarah Chad:

"I don't want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won't fix this. But gun control will prevent it from happening again."

As if you need more, a teen at the school was quoted as follows:  “I’m not a Russian computer, so I can’t vote but will push elected officials on gun control."

High school students across the nation are planning a walkout from their classes sometimes in March to demand changes to gun laws. They all know that almost nobody wants to repeal the Second Amendment. Most of the students don't want that.

But every Constitutional right has its responsibilities as well. You can't just do whatever you want, including mass murder. These teenagers understand this, because it's common sense.

Too bad the NRA and their puppet politicians don't understand this. Or pretend not to. The activism of teenagers across the United States give me a glimmer of hope that this will one day change.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NRA Is Really, Really Mad At You For Dissing Trump

The guy in this NRA ad is really, really mad that people
on TV make fun of Donald Trump 
The National Rifle Association - NRA - have become quite the media stars in addition to their advocacy to make sure each and every one of us owns a complete arsenal. Even if you're mentally off the rails.

Then again, the NRA ads are a bit off the rails, aren't they?

It's odd that the group with all the guns feels like the ones that are beseiged, but whaddaya going to do?

There was this ad from last year, in which Dana Loesch couldn't contain her bitter anger at people who had the gall to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest against Trump, and while they were at it, protest against racism, income inequality and other social ills.

In NRA world the Second Amendment trumps (ha!) the First Amendment. Go figure.

Anyway, critics said the Loesch ad was an open call to violence, and I do see that point.

Now we have a new ad from the NRA, and it's, um, something.

This new spot features another very, very, very angry person named Grant Stinchfield. Why is everybody with the NRA so angry? They get what they want from Congress. They have almost unfettered access to their guns. Trump loves 'em. They should be ecstatic.

They're not, though. In this ad, a seething Stinchfield stands next to a television, holding a sledgehammer. On the TV are quick clips of a variety of people and shows, including Saturday Night Live, John Oliver, CNN and others bashing Trump.

Stinchfield, finally having enough of this, smashes the TV with his sledgehammer. Then there's the logo, "NRA TV. Our Greatest Weapons Is Truth."

I wish the NRA would tell the truth about all these mass shootings we have and what we should do about them, but you can't expect much. Just this afternoon, I'm seeing reports of another school shooting, this time in Florida. Does the NRA look at tragedies like this as free advertising? Well, that's a debate for another post.

I don't know if that NRA claim to truth is, um, true or not, but as many people on social media have pointed out, it's awfully hard to watch NRA TV if you've smashed your television with a sledgehammer.

As the Huffington Post points out, Twitter, as usual, was unrelenting in its response to this NRA ad.

Some top Tweets on this:

"Anyone wonder why he didn't shoot the TV?"

"Do the NRA snowflakes need a safe space so big bad words won't hurt their little feelings?"

"I'll wear my little brother's t-shirt and smash my TV with a sledgehammer, with cowboy music playing, then I'll act all mad and tough....oh yeah, make sure there's plenty of black people appearing on the TV."

Here's the ad, if you can stand it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

You've Never Heard Of Eveyln Williams But You Will Adore Her

Evelyn Williams, 81, who sang an incredibly moving
version of "Send In The Clowns" got a Golden Buzzer
from her new buddy Michelle Visage. The Golden
Buzzer was very well deserved. 
As readers of this blog thingy know, I have a weird obsession with those talent "reality shows" like "The Voice" and "( Name That Country)'s got talent.

As such, I bring you some posts about some of the best talents from these shows.

Every place in the universe, including Pluto, has a "(Name That Country)'s Got Talent" and Ireland, of course does.

Recently, "Ireland's Got Talent" introduced us all to Evelyn Williams, an 81-year-old great grandmother.  The video of her incredible performance is at the bottom of this post.

The biography package they always do on these shows with some of the standout performers, like Williams, reflects a full life of love, joy and tragedy. And through it out, Williams comes through as a wonderful, glorious, giving survivor that can't help but love.

In her audition, she sang "Send In The Clowns" the Stephen Sondheim classic from "A Little Night Music," one of my favorite plays.

I'll be mean and confess that I don't think that Williams is the best singer in the world. But she sang that song with such heart, such honesty, such conviction and such life experience that only a souless idiot wouldn't melt.  Williams was absolutely brilliant.

Williams' performance was a master class in performing from the heart to incredible effect.

To pretty much nobody's surprise, Williams scored the coveted "Golden Buzzer," set off  by very impressed judge Michelle Visage, which means she skips over the rigamarole and goes to the semi-finals of the show.

Williams, apparently, does not understand what a powerhouse she is. "When I seen that buzzer thing, I thought someone was throwing a bomb in around the place to get me off the stage," she told the Irish Sun. 

Oh, no, no, no. We all want to see and hear much more from Evelyn Williams.

Explaining why she hit the Golden Buzzer, Visage explains it better than anybody else could: "This woman has so much life. She commaned the stage better than anybody we've seen yet on this show. She's a storyteller. I'm not lucky enough to have my mother here with me on this journey, and then she stood here and sang one of the most incredible Stephen Sondheim songs ever written, only meant to be sung by a woman this age, who sang it with love."

Here's the video, and warning: This is a Kleenex alert clip:



Monday, February 12, 2018

Dumb Professor Edition: Teacher Flunks Student Because He Says Australia Not A Country

It's true that Australia is a continent, but contradicting a
now fired New Hampshire online college professor,
Australia is a country, which any bozo knows. 
A woman named Ashley Arnold was pursuing an online sociology degree at Southern New Hampshire University.  

She definite did her homework, but her professor sure didn't.

One of her assignments was to compare a social norm in the United States with that of another country. She picked Australia and got to work, and handed in her paper on time. Excellent!

Um, no. Her professor gave her an F for the assignment. Here's why, in the words of our glorious professor. "Australia is a continent, not a country."

As BuzzFeed, which broke the story, and everybody else knows, it's both. Yes, it's a continent. And any bozo will tell you it's also a country. Arnold sent the professor an email, supplying a few references from reliable sources that tell us that indeed, Australia is a country.

This definitely nutty professor was not having it, though. This is the snippy reply from the professor:

"I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report. But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project. Research is like dominoes. If you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall.

Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly. As I mentioned above, I will look over your week two paper once again and see if you earned more credits that I gave you."

In other words, the nutty professor says no dice, you messed up.

Arnold,  perplexed, told Buzzfeed: "With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn't know Australia is a country?......If she's hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn't she just Google that herself?

Good question. But, always the trouper, Arnold conducted a very, very easy follow up research project, one that a first grader could do, but apparently the professor could not.

Online college student Ashley Arnold
insisted that Australia is a country. She's
right, but a professor gave her an F because
the professor somehow doesn't believe
Australia is a country. 
She found the official Australian government web site, and found on that site a link to "About Australia." She sent it to the professor.

One clue that Australia might be a country is the top headline on that "About Australia" web page. That headline is "Our Country."

Arnold included that link with a snippy email of her own. It read:

"Australia is both a country and a continent. It's the only country that is both. I provided a resource in in the first email that clarifies that for you. If you need further clarification Google or the SNHU Shapiro Library has that information for you. 

Again, I mean no disrespect but my grade is affected by your assumption that Australia is not a country when in fact it is. Thank you and let me know if I need to provide further resources proving Australia is a country."

The professor then relented, sort of: She replied to Arnold via email: "Thank you for this web address. After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper."

Arnold also filed a report with the university, because she said she doesn't want to fail because she picked a country that IS a country, and doesn't want her online classmates to be similarly screwed.

BuzzFeed contacted SNHU, which was not happy when it learned about the professor's stupidity.  "At SNHU, we hold our professors to a high standard of excellence and strive to provide high-quality degree programs for all students.......On this question, the student is right. We take this concern seriously and our academic team is working to resolve the matter."

It turns out that resolving the matter involved SNHU firing the professor, says the Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader. 

The professor, who has not been identified at Arnold's request, was let go, according to Lauren Keane, a spokesperson for SNHU.

"We deeply regret the interaction between our professor and our student have apologized to the student and refunded her for the class," Keane said. The class costs about $1,000

Going forward, the class will now be taught by another professor, who presumably knows basic geography and considers Australia a country.

In an added gesture, SNHU wished Australia well in the current 2018 Winter Olympics. Being an obvious country, Australia is competing there.

As for why the original professor was confused, Arnold theorized that the professor was fairly old. "When did Australia become a country? Maybe she thinks it's still part of England," Arnold wondered to Buzzfeed.

Australia became an independent country 117 years ago. The fired professor is not that old.

Oh, well.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Leave It To Fox News To Complain About Diversity On U.S. Olympic Team

Fox News Vice President John Moody is very upset that
some of the United States athletes now competing in the
2018 Winter Olympics are not white and straight.
Apparently, in his mind, Olympics are for whites only.
Apparently, the white supremacists at Fox News are deeply upset by our U.S. Winter Olympics team.

A greater proportion of our team has more people of color, more people from the LGBTQ community and more people from different backgrounds than in past years.

It sounds to me like whoever deals with getting athletes on the U.S team might have looked to a broader population than usual to get the cream of the crop into the Olympics.

Or much more likely, the best athletes out there come from more diverse backgrounds than they used to. America is more diverse than it used to be, so this makes total sense.

But Fox News would beg to differ.

The U.S. Olympic team's motto is Faster, Higher, Stronger.  Period. Our best athletes are now competing in PyeongChang. Not our gayist, not our most African-American. Not our most Asian. Just our best.

Apparently, Fox News and its hard core racists, homeophobic fans really don't want the best of the best. As long as the atheletes are white and are not queer.

Fox News executive Vice President John Moody whined that that the U.S. Olympic Committee seems to want to change the above mentioned motto to "Darker, Gayer, Different."

Moody was terribly upset that the U.S. Olympic Committee has the gall to have qualified team members that might be African-American, Hispanic, Asian, gay, or simply not 100 percent straight and white.

"If your goal is to win medals, that won't work," Moody whined. "No sport that we are aware of awards points - or medals - for skin color or sexual orientation," he added.

"Were our Olympians selected because they're the best at what they do, or because they're the best publicity for our current obsession with having one each from Column A, B and C."?
African-American speed skater Shani Davis is not qualified
to be in the Olympics because he is black and only white athletes
are good enough, says Fox News Vice President John Moody.
By the way, Davis already has four Olympic medals
under his belt. 

And there you have it.  White supremacy at work. What Moody basically said is that anyone who is not white and straight has lesser abilities and skills white people.

 It's unfathonable to Moody that an African American, Asian, gay, whatever, could possibly have the ability to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

That's totally in league with Trump fans and avid followers of Fox News. A bit ignorant, to say the least.

A day or so after Moody's column appeared, Fox News removed it from its web site, saying Moody is just a longtime mucky muck there who doesn't have editorial control. Because of his longevity there, they didn't really vet or edit it carefully.

"John Moody's column does not reflect the views or values of Fox News and has been removed," according to a statement Fox released to the media Friday. 

Riiiiight.

Unsurprisingly, there was quite a bit of pushback against Moody's column before it was yanked. "These athletes are at the Olympics because they already won by qualifying to represent the United States on the world's stage; and they did so despite facing discrimination from places like Fox News throughout their careers," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

".....to suggest that race, sexuality, or gender orientation are the reasons these incredible athletes made the cut is insulting, repugnant and dismissive of a lifetime of hard work," said Catherine Sakimur of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The column is off the web site, but it did its job. It was a nice serving of red meat for the white supremacists, alt-right, aging racists and raving lunatics that make up the core of Trump's base.I don't think we'll ever change the minds of this very base Trump base. But the louder the rest of us are when we resist these idiots, the better.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Birthday Gift From Portia De Rossi To Wife Ellen Degeneres Can't Be Topped

Portia De Rossi, left, recently gave Ellen DeGeneres a 60th
birthday gift we can all be happy about. 
My husband's birthday is today.  

Happy Birthday Jeff!!!!!!

I want to give him the world, but unfortunately, funds are tight. He's going to have to settle for something much smaller. Sorry, Jeff, I'm trying!

I do wish, however, I could give him a birthday gift like Portia De Rossi gave to her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, on Ellen's recent 60th birthday.

By the way, this is going to be a feel good story, because in this day and age, the more feel good stories, the better.

DeGeneres is a longtime fan of scientist Dian Fossey, who spent basically her whole life studying rare mountain gorillas in Rwanda. You might remember Fossey from the book  "Gorillas In The Mist."

Fossey was murdered in 1985, but her work goes on, thanks to lots of awesome volunteers and donations from people who understand how important Fossey's work was.

DeGeneres is among those who totally understands why Fossey's work and legacy is so important. DeGeneres talk show made a big deal out of her birthday, and finally "special guest" De Rossi came on to disclose what she bought for her wife for the big birthday.

Dian Fossey spend her life protecting African gorillas unti
she was murdered in 1985. American celebritites Ellen
DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi just ensured Fossey's
work continues. 
Because DeGeneres is such a fan of Fossey, De Rossi sprung for the construction of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. It's next to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and this will be a part of a center for education, tourism and scientific research.

They also established the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund to study, protect and advocate for the world's most vulnerable animals and wildlife.

My husband Jeff is a total animal lover, especially dogs. An excellent way to judge a person is how they think of animals. People like Jeff are keepers because they love animals. People who have a soft spot for animals tend to be morally, ethically, emotionally beautiful. That describes Jeff.

De Rossi probably knows she's very lucky to be married to DeGeneres for the same reason.

Here's the very nice announcement of De Rossi's gift on the Ellen Show back on February 1: