Monday, August 31, 2015

Do Not Collect One Million Dollars

The Illinois lottery is broke:
The Chicago Tribune reported that disbursements of Illinois Lottery winnings of more than $25,000 have been halted because the state doesn't have a budget.

"For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break," Rick said. "And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up."

Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller's office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.
No winnings for you...

Ape Army

Unleash the monkeys of war:
According to Wang Minghzi of China's air force, Peoples' Liberation Army monkeys have “mastered” the skills necessary to destroy birds’ nests.
The primates take twigs out of the nests one by one, before shaking the remnants out of the branches.
Two of the army's fastest apes, Qitian and Ziyun, can do so in under a minute, having cleared 180 nests between them this month.
“There is no problem doing this”, Wang said on Sunday, as the macaques have “graduated” after a month’s training.
Beware of where this could lead:

Mountain Man

If the mountain won't come to Obama:
For more than a century, the tallest mountain on the continent was named after the 25th U.S. president, William McKinley.

Now, in honor of Alaska’s indigenous Athabascan people, who had always called it “Denali,” President Barack Obama is changing it back, the White House said in a release Sunday.

“This designation recognizes the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives,” the release said.
I guess a dead President's name just isn't worth what it used to be these days...

Hand 'Em Over

Sorry, IRS:
White House emails to the IRS about individual tax returns cannot be exempted by the embattled agency under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Friday.

United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Section 6103 of the tax code does not justify the IRS from withholding from FOIA requesters by refusing to say whether the records exist. She ordered the IRS to respond properly to an FOIA request submitted by the non-profit watchdog group Cause of Action.

“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing. No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point,” said Daniel Bernstein, executive director of Cause of Action.
You can't hide these in a sewer...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meal Time, Human

Your robot will serve you now:
Traditionally, the Turing Test is evaulated on conversation bots, as a panel of judges guess whether they are conversing with a human or an algorithm. In Eatsa’s case, the leadership team of Scott Drummond and Tim Young want to iteratively develop a restaurant design which will look the same when they eventually implemented the automated food preparation and delivery assembly line.

“Our initial prototypes will allow us to test the customer experience and our food, as well as the software system that we’ve developed to tie everything together from ordering through kitchen operations to pick-up,” Drummond tells The Ferenstein Wire.

Perhaps more importantly, Eatsa’s model is one of many technological advancements that is pressuring us to choose between restaurants that provide many low-paid jobs to low-skill workers or restaurants that provide bowls of healthy, hygienic, cheap, no-worry food to wealthy and poor customers.
Come and get it, flesh bags...

Hunting for Idiots

If you're this dumb:
Viewers issued “likes” with hearts and commented live, spurring on the pair — one follower asked Gonzalez to prove the gun was real, and shortly after the weapon was fired, KMAX added. Their supposed target apparently wasn’t found.

“We’re very fortunate that it ended this way, that no one got hurt,” Sergeant Doug Morse told the station, adding that “it’s not something we see every day.”

Police reviewed a copy of the Periscope broadcast Wednesday night, identified Batson and Gonzalez — who also displayed what appeared to be marijuana plants in the broadcast — and then took the pair into custody.

Social-media expert Julie Gallaher told KMAX that social media can skew users’ desires to be famous.

“Recognition is a basic human desire that everyone has, but some people have it more than others,” she told the station.
Sadly, these morons will probably enjoy the attention-until they get to prison...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Dark Age

Getting it right:
“In less than two minutes, comedian Colin Quinn paints a hilariously scary picture of what it’s like in the United States of Political Correctness, where people walk on eggshells and fear insulting someone or being ‘noninclusive.’ This is the atmosphere most modern college students live under, and they’re sure to get a knowing chuckle at Colin’s all-too-real joke on PC culture run amok,” the YouTube description read.
See what it means to be funny in this day and age:

No Protests Near Me

Hey you free speech kids, get off their lawn!
The appeals court judges upheld a 1949 law that forbids demonstrations on the grounds of the high court, on the premise that protests at the court’s doorstep might lead to the perception that the justices are swayed by vox populi rather than the dictates of the law.

“Allowing demonstrations directed at the Court, on the Court’s own front terrace, would tend to yield the opposite impression: that of a Court engaged with — and potentially vulnerable to — outside entreaties by the public,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, who argued often before the court as a lawyer and is sometimes mentioned as a future ­Supreme Court justice.

On days when controversial cases are argued and decided, the 50-foot-wide sidewalks surrounding the court are filled with chanting, flag-waving, ­bullhorn-toting protesters of all stripes. The Supreme Court itself, in 1983, ruled that these sidewalks — on First Street NE, just across from the Capitol — are open for protests.

But demonstrators are not allowed any closer. The court in its 1983 decision did not address the protest restrictions on the court’s grounds, which include the 252-by-98-foot oval marble plaza, with its fountains, benches, flagpoles and steps leading to the court’s iconic, six-ton bronze doors.
But if the court acts on its own, is that free speech? Maybe the protesters should ask...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Return Visit

Bush comes back to New Orleans:
He and Laura Bush visited the oldest public school in the city – Warren Easton Charter High School, which was closed for a year because of storm damage and then reopened as a charter school. Bush visited the same school on the storm’s first anniversary, and the library foundation of his wife helped rebuild it.

The Bushes met with students and were greeted by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, who fought hard to get federal aid during Katrina. Laura Bush wore a purple dress to honor the school’s colors.

The school’s success is a rare bright spot from what was an extremely trying time for Bush, who was vilified for his administration’s lackluster response to the catastrophic storm.
Mayor Nagin didn't help much, either...

Jack Strikes Back

Don't mess with Jack Sparrow:
According to the Daily Mail, Depp had his security detail look into Roy’s past during the 2010 movie shoot, but the investigative team was forced to drop the issue when their criminal records search came up empty. That changed recently after Roy’s now-ex-wife, Michelle Schrauwers, went to police.

Investigators said Roy was keeping as many as 40 videos and 400 photos. Reportedly among the secret stash were “upskirt” shots taken at a shopping mall in Los Angeles, a Target store and the bathroom of his own home, according to the Daily Mail.

Roy pleaded not guilty in May to invasion of privacy charges involving secret videos allegedly taken in bathrooms and dressing rooms in California, Louisiana and Hawaii.
Feed him to the Kraken...

Picking And Choosing

Are you entitled to ask a certain question? The Queen seems to think so:

Brother Of The Wind

Quiet contemplation, and sunbathing?
Miller wrote on Reddit that the wind turbine is located at Portsmouth Abbey Monastery and School. He added that the man, he is “Brother Joseph, one of the Benedictine monks that live on campus. He likes to take students up the windmill when the weather’s nice, and goes up there a lot in the summer to pray and reflect. I’ve been up twice, and the view is absolutely amazing.”

Portsmouth Abbey’s Twitter and the local newspaper are also confirming the man on top of the turbine is Brother Joseph Byron.

Byron told the Portsmouth Journal that while he’s not afraid heights, finding it “peaceful” on top of the turbine, he did find all the attention of the drone footage a bit annoying.
It could have been worse. He could have been nekkid...

The Z Words

In Tennessee, catching up on your z's:
"With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. One way to do that is to use a student's chosen name and their correct pronouns," blogged Donna Braquet, director of the school's Pride Center.

"We should not assume someone's gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems. Transgender people and people who do not identity within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth," ze wrote.
What do zu say?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lasting Storm

Conventional liberal wisdom says that Bush screwed up on Katrina-or did he?
Brazile and journalist and author Walter Isaacson, both from New Orleans, spoke to reporters during the flight. Both agreed that Bush was correct in his response – although the Bush administration was heavily criticized at the time.

“I’m one of those individuals that believes that under President Bush’s leadership, we got it right,” Brazile said. “It was slow. Remember, the state and local government was overwhelmed. The federal government had to step in. The federal government had to figure out its role.”

“It took a while for the federal government to really figure out how to help us, and I think once the president made the decision that New Orleans would be rebuild, despite some of the conversation on Capitol Hill that didn’t believe that the federal government should invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the recovery effort, the president made a commitment and I think he kept his word,” she added.
Which is more than can be said for FEMA these days...

Fear And Loathing In Clinton Land

Is it panic time?
As Democratic Party insiders gather for their summer meeting, there is a growing undercurrent of concern whether Hillary Clinton would be the party’s strongest candidate to keep the White House next year.

They still like and mostly support her. But many are increasingly questioning her handling of official emails while Secretary of State and her response to the furor over it. Some worry about her ability to connect with voters. And all this is aggravated by Vice President Joe Biden and his supporters stepping up their soundings on whether to mount a challenge.

The controversy over Clinton’s email “muddles the thinking of a lot of people,” said Alexandra Rooker of West Sacramento, vice chair of the state party in California…

Party officials most of all want a winner, and are open to a Biden bid.
I thought they wanted a winner...

Topping It Off

Finally, the government is doing something about the dreaded unregulated pizzas:
Pizza chains argue this would be particularly tough for them, and take extraordinarily large menu boards. Domino’s Pizza claims it offers 34 million different pie combinations; Pizza Hut boasted last year it can make 2 billion different pizzas. While the FDA has suggested restaurants can institute calorie “ranges” for each pizza, one Domino’s franchise owner in Missouri guessed it would cost him $5,000 to build the boards -- though over 90 percent of Domino’s business comes in over the phone or online, and so most customers never see the in-store board.

“You can’t possibly fit all the iterations of pizza on a typical menu board like you can for burgers, for example,” Lynn Liddle, executive vice president of communications for Domino’s, said in testimony before Congress in June. According to this Domino's video, menu boards are used in less than 1.5 percent of their total orders each day. She told Thursday that Domino's has been providing nutritional information voluntarily online for 10 years.
I'm sure the government will have a regulation for every topping choice...

Don't Let Him Be Misunderstood

Leave the Boss alone:
Zeitz, a college history teacher, expends several paragraphs praising subjects the album doesn’t even hint at — labor movements, strikes and a failed candidate for the presidency of the United Steelworkers (Ed Sadlowski) who is supposedly relevant to the album because his political coalition resembled the E Street Band.

The piece’s subheadline makes the strange claim that the album is about “the tense, political, working-class rejection of an increasingly unequal society,” as though Springsteen’s hustler poets were worried about what the effective tax rates of hedge fund managers might be 40 years later. Zeitz also tags Springsteen’s crew as suffering from “dislocation.”

No. The album is almost the opposite of what Zeitz says it is: It’s a celebration, not a rejection. It’s a barbaric yawp. It’s a blaze in the dark, a cry of pride amid desolation.
Some people are just dancing in the dark...

Poorhouse Party

The Democrats are out of cash:
Federal Election Commission reports tell a disappointing story for the party: The DNC collected $36.5 million in the first six months of the year and had almost no money in special accounts, including one designated for its convention. It had about $7.6 million in available cash and $6.2 million in debts and loans.

The Republican National Committee, coming out of years in the red, posted $63 million in receipts through June, leaving it with $16.7 million cash on hand and $1.8 million in debts and loans. Party fundraising dominance has flipped: At this point before the 2012 election, the DNC was outpacing the RNC.

Republicans also have been far more active in using the accounts created last year by Congress that enable donors to give at higher levels, investing about eight times what Democrats have.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC's chairwoman, said she isn't worried.

"We are building the organization now to make sure that whoever our ultimate nominee is, they are in the best possible position to win next November," she said in a statement, "and we are confident we will have the resources we need."
Meanwhile, back to panhandling...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One Irishman, One Mob

Don't mess with an Irishman:
Trouble started in İstanbul's Aksaray district when the big Irishman opened a shop fridge and all the bottles of water spilled out into the street.

The shopkeeper took offence and hit him with a stick after the situation escalated, reports Today's Zaman.

Dozens of neighbouring shop owners then steam in to help - but unluckily for them, their victim is a trained boxer.
Just a daily workout for him...

Honestly Biased

They have made their opinions known:
An analysis of news, blogs and forums by Crimson Hexagon, a nonpartisan social media analytics software company, also found that overall mentions of Mr. Trump in the Spanish-language news media since he announced his candidacy were 69 percent negative, but were less negative — 58 percent — in the English-language news media.

Critics of the Spanish-language news coverage, including Mr. Oliver-Méndez, say that the Hispanic press is engaging in advocacy and not journalism.
In other words, they're catching up to our own media...

Firing Blanks

So, this is the governor's response to today's horrific shooting:
McAuliffe said, “I mean, what a tragedy. I know the area well. I was just there a week and a half ago. We just finished our family vacation, standing literally right on that deck area at the Bridgewater Marina, where we rented our boats, where this occurred. It’s such a beautiful sight. And this young woman, 24 years old, photographer, 27, another woman shot, doing an interview talking about economic development, and bringing businesses to the Smith Mountain Lake region. It is — it go back — goes back to what I’ve talked about for a long time, there are too many guns in the hands of people who should not have guns. This is why I’ve long advocated for background checks. I’m a gun owner, I’m a hunter. But you know what? I went through background checks myself to get it. We’ve got to — in America, we have got to come together. There is too much gun violence in the United States of America.”
There is also too much grandstanding. This was a psychopath, not the country.

Dogged Pursuit

That's a good dog:
While most police service dogs specialize in finding drugs, guns, and other illicit items, Bear specializes in finding things such as micro-cards, which can be easily hidden.

“Labs are the best on this… They’ll do anything to please their owner,” Jordan told NBC.

Lead prosecutor on Fogle’s case, Steven DeBrota, also spoke of Bear, describing him as “a key part of the team” in helping to take down the now-disgraced Subway pitchman.

The Seattle Police Department just purchased Bear for $9,500, the cost of training, but Jordan plans to train more dogs using his techniques and plans to give them to other police departments around the United States.
Labs are worth it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blame It On The Dog

The dog ate her email?
“Toby Miles,” according to a former Lerner colleague, is the name of Lerner’s dog: Toby is the dog’s name, and Miles is the surname of Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles.

The IRS disclosed the existence of the second account in a legal filing as part of its ongoing battle with the right-leaning investigative group Judicial Watch.

“In addition to e-mails to or from an e-mail account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner’ or ‘Lois Home,’ some e-mails responsive to Judicial Watch’s’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal e-mail account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” a lawyer for the agency told Federal District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.
No treats for him, then...

Word From On High

The time is soon?
While he doesn't need the President's permission, of course, a potential presidential candidacy was among the topics of their lunch Monday at the White House. The President made clear he would not stand in his way or counsel him against a run, the senior Democrat said.

The Vice President's office downplayed the speculation about Biden's political future.

"Sources continue to speculate about something they know nothing about," Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said. "This lunch was a private meeting between two people -- the President and the Vice President."

The Vice President was expected to huddle at his home Monday night with Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, the husband-and-wife team who have been at Obama's side for much of the last decade, two people familiar with the meeting told CNN. Steve Ricchetti, the Vice President's chief of staff, was also expected to attend.
That sound you hear is Hillary being ground under the wheels of Obama's bus...

Dear Baristas

Be kind to your clientele:
In a flowery memo to the chain’s 190,000 employees (called “partners” in Starbucks lingo), the coffee giant’s billionaire chairman and chief executive told baristas to be especially sensitive to the customers asking them for a cup of joe.

“Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and … our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern,” Schultz wrote in his “Message from Howard” morning email, which Starbucks provided to the Washington Post.

“Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day,” Schultz continued. “Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”

Schultz, 62, has long been a believer in the greater social good achievable at the cappuccino machine.
A cup of kindness in the financial apocalypse will go a long way...

Miles to Go

Meet Lois Lerner's alter ego:
IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over to Judicial Watch, it realized Ms. Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency.

“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.

It is unclear who Toby Miles is, but Mr. Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.”
What's in a fake name?