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General / "Z for Vendetta" shown on Chinese TV
« on: December 20, 2012, 09:52:37 AM »
In an event that shocked viewers, the liberty-themed film "V for Vendetta" was broadcast on Chinese television yesterday.


Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia wrote on Twitter, which is not accessible to most Chinese because of government Internet controls: "This great film couldn't be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, media control, riots, getting rid of 'heretics' ... fear, evasion, challenging lies, overcoming fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny ... China's dictators and its citizens also have this relationship."

General / Ken Burns' "Prohibition"
« on: October 28, 2011, 01:25:46 AM »
Every libertarian should watch this excellent PBS series about the history, and failure, of the Great Experiment. Some lessons to be learned about outlawing substances here.

General / It was thirty years ago today,
« on: December 08, 2010, 12:22:04 PM »
that the Walrus passed away.

Or, more accurately, was shot by a religious nut.

General / Traveling down under...
« on: September 07, 2010, 12:14:44 PM »
So, we're headed to Melbourne for a month in October. I've never been there, and have never flown overseas before. It's a LONG airplane ride!

I've got a few things to figure out.

One thing I'll have to figure out is how to drive on the wrong side of the road. Has anyone ever had to learn this, and if so how difficult was it?

I'm also wondering about communications. We'd like to use cell phones, but ours won't work there. Even if they did, the roaming charges would be ridiculous! We will have access to a computer.

We are doing this as a home exchange. It'll be our fifth, and they work out very well.
So much to do; so much to do!

General / It's official: There is no god
« on: September 02, 2010, 09:04:49 PM »
At least, according to Steven Hawking.


Hawking said it, I believe it, and that's that!  :lol:

General / "Dr." Laura hangs up her mic
« on: August 18, 2010, 10:01:50 AM »
The turkey-necked talk show host, famous for "helping" callers by word-whipping them into tears on her radio call-in show, announced she's leaving the airwaves after using racial epithets on the air.  http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/08/18/dr-laura-to-end-radio-show-at-years-end-after-n-word-controv/

I've never understood the appeal of her or her show, and could never manage to listen to it for more than a few minutes.

I'm hoping some of the stations that lose her will put FTL in that slot.

General / Institutionalized crooked cops
« on: May 09, 2010, 08:39:20 PM »
Today's Fresh Air on NPR featured a story about this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting.

Philadelphia Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman landed the prize for their 10-month series "Tainted Justice," an expose of alleged corruption among members of an elite narcotics squad on the Philadelphia police force."

The cops would bust the owner of a business on trumped up drug charges, for example, for possessing plastic bags small enough to hold drugs. During the bust, the cops would disable the store's cameras, and once the owner was hauled off, proceed to steal whatever they could. 


General / Found two checks today, for $45,000 each.
« on: March 22, 2010, 11:29:50 PM »
Some customer lost them in the service drive at the car dealership where I work(ed) part-time.*

After a couple calls we found the guy. He'd had a rough afternoon, but his tax refund checks (for the business he owns) had already been canceled.

Just how the HELL do you lose two checks worth $90,000?

*Today was my last day of work at the dealership. I've taken a full-time job as a stationary engineer at Washington State University. 

Historians have found an early draft of the Constitution titled "The Constitution of the Scheme."


I imagine someone with a better mind toward PR suggested, "You know, maybe we need a better name for the thing. It might not be the best idea to come right out and tell everyone it's a scheme."

General / Texas Outlaws Marriage
« on: November 24, 2009, 12:28:49 PM »
Millions of couples living in Texas wake up to "living in sin" due to the wording of a ballot initiative.

It just seems like a no-brainer that if you're going to write an amendment to ban same-sex marriages in your state, you should be really careful how you write it so you don't outlaw heterosexual marriages too.

Maybe the Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott was subconsciously making a statement about marriage in general when approving language for the 2005 ballot initiative that states not only that marriage "shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman" but also "this State or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."  That clause would seem to prohibit all marriages.  Whoops.

This ill-begotten provision is unlikely to have much of an impact legally, but it certainly gives 2010 Democratic attorney general candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky the opportunity to point out "careless lawyering" in the incumbent.  "Whoever vetted the language in B must have been asleep at the wheel" she noted.  Or maybe they just slept through English class. In either case, she's making a fuss about it during her announcement tour, but doesn't seem to have any objection to the amendment itself--just that it contains ambiguous language.

Will the Lone Star State be enforcing this lone law against heterosexuals anytime soon?  Nope--Abbott's office maintains that the clause is "entirely constitutional" and they will continue to defend it (but only in cases concerning same-sex couples, one presumes.)

However, seeing as the Texas courts just caused a massive Constitutional crisis by allowing gay couples to divorce there, maybe they'll rustle up some sort of marriage equality too.   That would involve overturning Texas's version of Proposition 8, but the divorce ruling seems to indicate conflict about gay marriage brewing deep in the heart of Texas.  Will there come a day of reckoning soon?  Ms. Radnofsky doesn't say. I guess she'll be asked more about her stance on marriage equality when she officially files to run for AG Abbott's position December 3rd.

Until next time, a sweet and long life to y'all.

National Wedding and Marriage Examiner Elizabeth Oakes welcomes your feedback at weddingexaminer@gmail.com; you can easily share this story or subscribe by clicking on the buttons at the top of this column, or read more of Elizabeth's stories by clicking here.

She's also happy to answer your questions about getting married in Los Angeles--check out her work and inquire about availability at MarriageToGo.Com and RosePedalsBikeWeddings.Com.

All National Wedding Examiner articles 2009 by Elizabeth Oakes; reposts permitted with copyright notice and link back to original article. All other rights reserved

General / Hillary promises not to run for president again.
« on: October 13, 2009, 11:16:49 AM »
Which means, of course (based on past "promises," that she's already planning her campaign.


Or, perhaps she figures she'll replace Biden in her boss's reelection. Then, if something will "happens" to Obama, she will become president.

General / Death of Norman Borlaug
« on: September 13, 2009, 10:38:36 AM »
Got up this morning and found out that Norman Borlaug died.

Who was Norman Borlaug? Too bad that most people have never heard of the guy. Yet, oddly, everyone knows who Mother Teresa is. She saved no one, but Borlaug is probably responsible for the lives of a third of the people on the planet. He's the father of the Green Revolution.


General / And Mays makes # three.
« on: June 28, 2009, 04:48:57 PM »
Who says there's never any good news. I'm hoping I won't have to reach for the mute button so much now.

TAMPA, Fla. Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays' wife found him unresponsive Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. It was not immediately clear how he died. He said he was hit on the head when an airplane he was on made a rough landing Saturday, and his wife, Deborah Mays, told investigators he didn't feel well before he went to bed about 10 p.m. that night.

There were no signs of a break-in at the home, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn't answer questions about how Mays' body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner's office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days," Deborah Mays said in a statement Sunday. "Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times."

U.S. Airways confirmed that Mays was among the passengers on a flight that made a rough landing on Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport, leaving debris on the runway after apparently blowing its front tires.

Tampa Bay's Fox television affiliate interviewed Mays afterward.

"All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping," MyFox Tampa Bay quoted him as saying. "It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said linking Mays' death to the landing would "purely be speculation." She said Mays' family members didn't report any health issues with the pitchman, but said he was due to have hip replacement surgery in the coming weeks.

Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she did not know if Mays was wearing his seat belt on the flight because the FAA is not investigating his death.

U.S. Airways spokesman Jim Olson said there were no reports of serious injury due to the landing.

"If local authorities have any questions for us about yesterday's flight, we'll cooperate fully with them," he said.

Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of "As Seen on TV," said he first met Mays in the early 1990s when Mays was still pitching one of his early products, the Shammy absorbent cloth, at a trade fair. He said he most recently worked with Mays on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs.

"His innovative role and impact on the growth and wide acceptance of direct response television cannot be overestimated or easily replaced; he was truly one of a kind," Khubani said of Mays in a statement.

After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.

Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it's done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"

Sarah Ellerstein worked closely with Mays when she was a buyer for the Home Shopping Network in the 1990s and he was pitching Orange Glo products.

"Billy was such a sweet guy, very lovable, very nice, always smiling, just a great, great guy," she said, adding that Mays met his future wife at the network. "Everybody thinks because he's loud and boisterous on the air that that's the way he is, but I always found him to be a quiet, down-to-earth person."

His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans for his commercials on a wide variety of products. People lined up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stopped him in airports to chat about the products.

"I enjoy what I do," Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "I think it shows."

Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel ("powered by the air we breathe!") on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.

As part of "Pitchmen," Mays and Sullivan showed viewers new gadgets such as the Impact Gel shoe insert; the Tool Band-it, a magnetized armband that holds tools; and the Soft Buns portable seat cushion.

"One of the things that we hope to do with 'Pitchmen' is to give people an appreciation of what we do," Mays told The Tampa Tribune in an April interview. "I don't take on a product unless I believe in it. I use everything that I sell."

His former wife, Dolores "Dee Dee" Mays, of McKees Rocks, Pa., recalled that the first product he sold was the Wash-matik, a device for pumping water from a bucket to wash cars.

"I knew him since he was 15, and I always knew he had it in him," she said of Mays' success. "He'll live on forever because he always had the biggest heart in the world. He loved his friends and family and would do anything for them. He was a generous soul and a great father."


Associated Press Writer Sarah Larimer in Miami and Ron Todt in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

General / "Number 1 Lady's Detective Agency"
« on: May 27, 2009, 10:55:34 PM »
This is a new HBO series set in Botswana, of all places. It's a fairly light comedy about a woman who inherits a bit of money and decides to open a detective agency. What I found interesting is the ease with which this is carried out in Botswana. Step one: rent an office. Step two: advertise for customers.

No license; no permits. I doubt that her gay hairstylist neighbor has a permit or license for his business, either. But then, this IS Botswana, which has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, and not America, which is now in full retreat from free enterprise.

The show is well scripted and well acted, and the setting is something a bit different from the usual stuff. I hope it makes it.

General / Best war flick
« on: May 25, 2009, 09:46:57 PM »
In honor of Memorial Day. We Americans love a good war film. Nothing like blood and mayhem for great entertainment!

My vote goes to "Patton," if only for the acting of George C. Scott, who played a better Patton than the real general. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fm382wWfVw&feature=related

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