The Widdershins

wacko criminal lineup

Good Saturday and weekend to you Widdershins.  As a break from the holiday rush, let’s take a look at some of the odd, funny or unusual things I’ve found on the internets and I’ll throw in a few youtubes that I thought were cute.

Some people are amazing

And I don’t mean that in a good way in this case.  So Anthony Ballard decided to go into the Treasure Coast Lawn Equipment store and asked for a dollar’s worth of change.  The article doesn’t say he asked for change for a dollar, just that he asked for a dollar’s worth of change.  Anyway, while he was in there he decided to stick a chainsaw down his pants   8O  The article says the $600 Stihl chainsaw was not running at the time.

The accused chainsaw crook came in Treasure Coast Lawn Equipment in the 1800 block of Southwest Bayshore Boulevard and reportedly asked for $1 worth of change, according to a police report.

He picked up a Stihl chainsaw valued at more than $600 and left, riding away on a bicycle.

Surveillance video shows him calmly stuff the saw down his shorts and cover it with his shirt.

The saw does not appear to be running at the time.

So Anthony takes off on his bicycle and then ditched the chainsaw in the woods.  Employees chased Anthony but couldn’t catch him and they then called 911.  The chainsaw was recovered but the police couldn’t find Bullard.  Later, the employees saw Bullard looking for the chainsaw so they called the police and he was caught.

When police apprehended Ballard, he said he stole the saw and put it in the woods.

“He later had a change of heart so decided to go get the saw and return it to the store,” a report states.

And here is Anthony taking the chainsaw.

You can’t fix stupid

Chad Lieberman had a great deal on his New York apartment.  You see, Chad inherited his grandfather’s sweet $100-a-month rent deal on a four-bedroom Upper East Side apartment.  Now I’m no specialist on New York apartments, but four bedrooms…$100 a month seems pretty good to me.  But Chad was unhappy.  You see, grandpa’s deal for the hundred dollars a month rent was because he had struck a deal with some developers to put up a 25 story building next door and it blocked some of the air and light.  Grandpa figured it was worth it to give up some light for four bedrooms.  However, Chad though differently.

After his grandfather’s death, Lieberman continued to enjoy the benefits of the massive, rent-controlled space, but didn’t want to live with its drawbacks. He sued, claiming his grandfather’s agreement was illegal, and the 246-unit building next door was thus illegally depriving him of the enjoyment of his 8-room palace.

Lieberman, who moved in with his grandfather in 2009, and stayed in the apartment after he passed away last year, demanded it be restored to its former condition by eliminating the neighboring building.  [Sure Chad, no problem there]

A judge threw the request out, finding that Lieberman had no standing to sue, as the deal was between the building owner and his grandpa, who knew exactly what he was doing. Even worse for Lieberman—but great for anyone who pays $3,000 for a studio and loves schadenfreude—the lawsuit backfired by reminding the landlord that the rent-control part of the deal also only applied to his grandfather.

You see what I mean about that stupid stuff?

Here’s kind of a fun one

Go here and take this test.  See what kind of job you would have had in the Fabulous Fifties!

So was Brother Bluto here?

I don’t really even want to go here but…so there was a fire in attic of a frat house at the University of Houston.  And frat bros being frat bros, they just did what came naturally to them.

A heater started an electrical fire last night in the Kappa Alpha attic at the University of Houston, and even a trash can full of bathroom water couldn’t stop it. So one brave brother sprung into action and whipped out his hose. Surprisingly, his urine was unable to quell the flames, which were later extinguished by professional firefighters.

“We saw, like, a fire in the attic and stuff and like smoke was coming out. We were just like, ‘What are we supposed to do with this fire?’ and we all just took off,” first reponder (urine division) Dylan Koops told KHOU, “I p****d on it, but nothing was working.”

Dylan, like, I hope, like, you’re not like a language major or something like that.

Some youtubes

This little English bulldog pup just loves his new memory foam bed.  Can’t blame him!

So I wonder if this bear cub was looking for a Christmas card?

Poor kitteh here must have just felt trapped by this big ole Rottie.

Okay Widdershins, that’s all I have for today.  It’s an open thread and if anyone is around this weekend right before Christmas, just comment away on anything your heart desires.

 

 

Good Thursday, Widdershins, and Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate.

Today is a great day for Alan Gross, the subcontractor who has been detained in a Cuban prison for the past five years.  He is home, and spending Hanukkah with his family.  During his incarceration, he lost a number of teeth and roughly 100 pounds.  From what I understand, we have been negotiating this exchange for some time with the help and intercession of Pope Francis.  We got Mr. Gross plus a Cuban national serving as an American agent who had been in prison for decades.  The “Miami Five”, men who were convicted of spying and failure to register as foreign agents, were sent back home after thirteen years in American prisons.  The Prez is loosening travel restrictions – family visits only, no tourism – as well as increasing the amount of money that can be sent to family members on the island.  Further, Raul Castro agreed to free twenty five “prisoners of conscience” as well.

Other things appear to be on the horizon as well.  While the embargo present since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 remains firmly in place courtesy of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, a lot of the Cuban embargo has been of dubious value.  Indeed, those Cuban cigars that everyone smokes are technically illegal.  There are a bunch of laws used to enforce the embargo, with Helms-Burton being the latest iteration thereof.  HB amusingly states that one of the reasons for its passage was the obdurate refusal of the regime to consider labor unions.  Any rollback of this will require Congress, and we can all guess how likely this might be.  However, there are some administrative matters such as establishment of diplomatic relations which fall under the Executive Branch, and it would seem that the Prez is inclined to begin to use his powers in such a fashion.  We may even see a Cuban embassy open its doors here in My-am-uh.  So, this is great, right?

Nope, not great at all according to the friend whom I (foolishly) called to congratulate.  Despite the fact that she has complained bitterly about government overreach restricting her ability to visit family in Cuba and help provide them with much-needed cash, she promptly quoted Marco Rubio.  This will be just the economic boost necessary to keep the regime firmly in place, especially if proposed loosening of credit takes place.  (Apparently it’s fine to sell to Cuba, but they must pay cash for each transaction, and American businesses want to send more stuff.  Therefore, credit is needed, and I have kind of a sinking feeling that Jamie Dimond may be just as involved in this as is Pope Francis.   My sinking feeling extends to the FDIC, as well, but enough about this for now.)  According to my Cuban friend, this is a terrible insult to the Cuban ex-pat community.  Even worse, there’s talk of removing Cuba from the terrorist nation list.  Of course we all remember when that group of Cuban terrorists, er……..  You’ve got the picture.

I am not an international business/banking type, and I do not play one on the teevee.  I did not even stay at a Holiday Inn Express.  This might be great, or as bad as it gets – who knows?  Maybe even a “Nixon to China” moment.  But, it’s worth a lot to me to know that Alan Gross in back home for Hanukkah, and for now that will just have to do.

This is an open thread.

Santa-bar

Make it a double. Six more #%$!@# days till Christmas.

Okay so I’m about a week early:  shoot me if you want.  All of the traditional holiday shows are starting to show up on the teevee reminding us of the Yuletide season.  I found a couple of “christmasy” stories to share with you dear readers, so without further explanation here they are.

Nothing says Merry Christmas better than a message
from the American Atheists

The American Atheists will be holding their national convention (who knew?) in Memphis Tn, this coming April.  So naturally what would get folks more into the Christmas spirit than to put up a number of billboards through the Bible Belt showing a little girl writing her letter to Santa saying what she wanted more than anything was to skip church.

The group says they are targeting “in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays”.

Not to be outdone, the good souls at Grace Church in Alma Arkansas decided to put up their message on the same digital billboard:

“Pastor Devon Walker told KFSM the church paid $900 for the billboard, with people from Florida and Texas contributing toward the cost.”.  A post on the church’s website says, “Our goal is not to oppose their message, but rather to respond with love and support.”  Okay so good as long as no one has to fight over it.  That would destroy the “spirit of the season”.  (Oops!)

If you thought our Christmas traditions were odd

And I’m not saying they are…but if you did think they were, well you might want to check out this one from the Catalan region of Spain.

Now I’m sure we have all viewed a traditional manger scene with the three wise men, shepherds, some animals, Mary and Joseph and little baby Jesus.  Well, in this one region of Spain they’ve added a new member to the cast of players.  (Hey, I was googling “funny Christmas stories 2014″ and this came up in the search)

So anyway, in a tradition that goes back to the 1700s it seems these folks have added a figure who is captured in the act of, well…defecation.  And apparently a little industry was born and now there are figurines of not only Spanish peasants doing it but also famous folks from various walks of life.

It’s not just the U.S. president caught in one of the most private of moments. Everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna to Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth has been immortalized as little pooping ceramic figurines thanks to an odd centuries-old Spanish Christmas tradition. [there’s a picture at the link of Obama in the act…I’m not going there]

The article says that the “tradition” goes back to the 1700s, but who knows?  Catalonia is on the Mediterranean side of Spain so who knows, perhaps it’s some weird Roman thing.

It dates back to the 1700s, when a peasant farmer version of the squatting statues began popping up in Christmas Nativity scenes across the region of Catalonia, alongside the usual reverent medley of Wise Men, shepherds and baby Jesus.

He was christened “El Caganer,” which translates most politely as “the defecator.”

The neat pile of poop beneath him is considered a sign of fertility and good fortune.

Although debate continues as to exactly why, one theory dating back to the 18th century explains that peasant farmers who couldn’t afford fertilizer fashioned a do-it-yourself approach to soil improvement, dropping their own fertilizer bombs across their fields each day.

Plentiful poop meant plentiful crops — and pretty soon the act became a good-luck charm in statue form.

I know how strange it sounds but I’m going to tell you a strange one that a lot of us do when it comes to home sales.

So anyway, the Church in Spain has kinda kept quiet about the tradition as long as the performer is not exactly front and center in the manger.

Sergi Alós Pla has a company which publishes an online catalog, found here where you can buy their products online.  They have a line of celebrities and yes Obama was there along with Dubya, Hillary, Prince Charles, Elizabeth and the like.

Now about those strange customs we might have…

Tradition in some parts of the country will tell you that if you are trying to sell a house and it is just not moving, you can get a little statue of St. Joseph and if you bury him upside down in your yard, that house will sell.

Origins of the tradition

While the tradition may sound campy, if not irreverent, it has plenty of followers. Many agents bury a statue of St. Joseph as soon as the “For Sale” sign goes up on the front lawn. There have been stories of homes sitting for months without an offer. And then, after St. Joseph is buried on the property, the offers come in.

The tradition has been going on for at least several hundred years. St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus and a carpenter. But it’s not entirely clear how the practice of burying St. Joseph statues started. One tale suggests that nuns during the Middle Ages buried a St. Joseph medal and asked the saint to help them find land for a convent. Some believe German carpenters started the tradition centuries later by burying St. Joseph statues in the foundations of homes they built.

Some believe if you want to sell your house you plant him upside down in the yard facing the house.  Others believe he has to be facing away from the house.  Heck, Amazon will sell you a St. Joseph’s kit you can put to use for your house sale.  (and you thought he just made aspirin!)

And finally: Mamma’s gonna have a good Christmas
even if she has to embarrass her sons on tv
(or “Oh God it’s Mom on the phone)

You know it’s bad when the family has two sons who are political pundits but on opposite sides of the spectrum.  (think Carville and Mary Matalin)  I’ll just paste this in from Jezebel and add the video.

Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit.

This perfect moment comes via the eagle-eyes at the Washington Post. You see, brothers Brad and Dallas Woodhouse sit on opposite sides of the the aisle, politically, and so they make joint appearances to argue bitterly about things like Obamacare. And their mother has had enough, by God, and so she called into their latest C-SPAN appearance from Raleigh, North Carolina to say that she is glad they both went to their in-laws’ this year for Thanksgiving and she wants this nonsense out of their system BEFORE they come home for Christmas, goddammit. She loves them both, but she wants a peaceful Noel.

Watch and cringe as one of the brothers drops his head into his hands and bemoans, “Oh God, it’s mom.” At least they’ve got something to bond over before the trip home for the holidays.

Okay Widdershins, talk amongst yourselves on any topic you wish.  I’ll be back Friday with my regular Friday light fare post.  I just wanted to use the picture of Santa at the bar for something.

For a simpleton such as myself, the release of the long-awaited Senate Report on the CIA’s use of torture has been singularly unsatisfying. The report, authorized by a 14-1 vote of the Intelligence Committee, was limited to nothing more than a review of the CIA’s own “traffic” consisting of internal documents and email among the CIA’s own officers.

The report wasn’t exhaustive. It wasn’t all-encompassing. It wasn’t an in-depth investigation with sworn testimony by Rattlesnakethose in decision-making roles. It was only a recapitulation of what the CIA was saying to itself taken from contemporaneous communication among CIA functionaries. From the six million pages of raw material a six thousand page report was generated and from that a six hundred page executive summary was spawned.

This Himalayan mountain of material has produced the same-old tired cacophony of James Bond/Jack Bauer’esqe excuses for what took place in secret prisons around the globe. I’ve learned nothing and I bet you haven’t either.

At the end of the day, this entire debate is simply about “values”. For most of us that debate was settled by the time we were in the second grade. Let me explain.

The following is an exercise I have used with thousands of leadership students in order to drill down on the concept of values. After taking a good long look at the photo above, think about and then answer the following questions.

If you were taking a hike and saw that creature fifteen yards in front of you would you go out of your way to avoid it?

If given the opportunity, would you forego the opportunity to touch, hold, and pet that creature?

Would you forbid your son or daughter from keeping that creature as a household pet?

Would you kill that creature if you saw it ready to strike a family member or friend?

Likewise, would you kill that creature if you saw it ready to strike an unsuspecting unknown stranger?

Finally, would you capture that creature, place it in captivity, and systematically torture it to death?

Why?

Read the rest of this entry »

Hello Widdershins! Ah, the drama of funding the American government. Never have so many public servants done so much for so few, as the latest budget passed the House and Senate with unprecedented perks for the .0001%. Let’s take a break from the United States’ depressing and corrupt governmental dysfunction, and wander over to the cold and gloomy shores of Germany for some more inspiring news.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet has approved legislation that will require leading companies to have at least 30 percent women on their supervisory boards from 2016.

Manuela Schwesig, the minister for families and women, on Thursday called the bill “a milestone on the way to more equality.”

Women hold just 22 percent of positions on the supervisory boards of companies listed in Germany’s benchmark DAX index, according to Economy Ministry figures.

The plan will affect 100 listed companies starting 2016. Companies failing to recruit enough female directors will be barred from giving vacant seats to men [emphasis mine].

To me, that last part is key. Without having this provision in the legislation, it would be far too tempting for these corporations to claim that they could not find any qualified women, and hire men instead, keeping the current representation either the same, or perhaps worse.

Do I really think this would happen? After almost four years of working as lower-to-middle management in the corporate world full-time, I’m afraid the answer is “hell, yes.” In my experience and in my research, I’ve seen a huge, invisible bias against women in corporate America, and without big steps like this at the federal level, I truly don’t see it changing. It’s tough enough to convince people that they aren’t giving qualified women a fair chance at upper-level leadership roles, trust me. I’ve had some very discouraging conversations on this topic with men, one of whom asked whether I would rather have unqualified women instead of qualified men. Yeah, that’s likely to happen…as Bella Abzug said,

Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.

Sing it, sister!

Read the rest of this entry »

Good late Saturday afternoon, y’all.  After this week, we need to all just stop.  Stop what we’re doing, stop what we’re worried about, stop the noises around us and in us.

So, let’s pay tribute to songs with the word “stop”.  “Stop” in the title, “stop” in the lyrics, “stopped”. “Stopping”, even “quit” or “quitting”.  Just as long as the implication is clear – screeching halt.  That’s what we need for the next thirty-six hours or so.  A full “stop” to anything that isn’t helpful, fun, or both.

Otherwise, this is an open thread.

(1) Stop Dragging My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks

(2) Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

(3) Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow – Fleetwood Mac

(4) Who’ll Stop the Rain –  Creedence Clearwater Revival

(5) Stop In the Name of Love – The Supremes

 

So, stop what you are doing and get into this with us.

 

 

Good Thursday, Widdershins. The festive lead-up to the holidays was interrupted by repetitive bleakness in the form of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s stunning torture report.  Senator Feinstein pushed this through at least in part because she was reasonably certain that it would never see daylight after January.  She looked like hell when she presented the packet, as though she has not slept well in some time.  There were circles under her eyes that a panda would envy.  After hearing the highlights lowlights of the report, I feel a little sick myself.  Dear God, is this the America of my youth?  The”shining city on the hill”?  It sounded more like a failed third-world state in its death throes.

Apologists and explainers have scurried from their burrows to try to defend the indefensible.  Nicole Wallace was defiantly weepy on MSN, declaring that she did not care what happened since it kept us “safe”.  I’d love to see her explain that to the families of all the people who have suffered at extremists’ hands as payback for our sins.  Former CIA Director Hayden actually said that the agency was under the impression that it was carrying out the will of the American people, and that their attorneys told them that this was all perfectly legal.  Any number of agents insist that they were merely following orders, a stance which did not fly with the Germans at Nuremberg or with Lt. Calley with the Me Lai Massacre.  Also, a group of West Virginia National Guardsmen went to the brig for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  So, tell me again how this is legal.  I’m waiting.

The President mumbled something regarding American values, then announced that the DOJ had investigated the matter and would not file charges.  As we have seen oh, so many times of late, culpability occurs only at the lower levels of society  – like us.  We can be shot for walking down the middle of the street like Michael Brown,  have our airway collapsed in a chokehold like Eric Garner, but let us try to defend ourselves and we are heinous murderers.  Thankfully, our calm and cool President is at least investigating all of these blameless (at least at the state level) deaths.  As far as the torture revelations go, I understand that his announcement of charges against a former sitting President would be largely unprecedented, but not taking sides is patently ridiculous.  At this point, the UN is calling for an investigation, and we stand mute, unable to explain how we actually ran afoul of anti-torture policies that we were instrumental in framing.  How embarrassing is this?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we told you so.  Barak Obama is a decent guy who lacked the experience and the acumen to be a top-notch President.  Yes, he’s cool.  Yes, he’s a rock star.  Yes, he has fresh ideas.  Unfortunately, none of those attributes are what we need right now.  So, bring it home, Elliot, and don’t be afraid to use “the robot”.

 

This is an open thread.

 

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