Things have been crazy lately. The job’s been hectic. I’ve not been posting quite as much. But I still heart you guys.
Five and a half years of doing this day-in-day-out I think is finally starting to take its toll, and I want to be honest about that. I also feel like I’m in a spot where I can’t give SFB the full care it deserves at the moment, so I haven’t. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m getting old or something; I don’t know. But I think prior to the past month or so, I missed maybe a week or two of posting, total, over that whole time frame.
So let’s call it what it is. It’s a sabbatical. I’m not giving SFB up, I promise. I’ll be back soon, hopefully with mental juices refreshed. I may still post here and there—and throw snark every now and then. But I think that I just need some time off.
I miss you guys. I’ll be back soon. I promise. — Ernie @ SFB
The press secretary for a pro-gun congressman from Pennsylvania was arrested Friday morning for allegedly having a gun while attempting to enter the nation’s oldest congressional office building. Oops.
Ryan Shucard, who is the media liaison for Rep. Tom Marino, was stopped after a routine search of his body and belongings on his way into the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. A 9mm Smith & Wesson was found in his possession, according to The Washington Post.
“We have been working hard to try and confirm how many people were on the flight. We’ve been speaking to a number of different authorities, and we think the actual number is much smaller.”—Chris Beyrer, the forthcoming president of the International AIDS Society, says that reports suggesting that the as many as 100 people heading to the society’s conference were on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 can’t be confirmed. (President Obama used that number during a speech this morning.) There were at least seven, however, including noted AIDS researcher Joep Lange—who was also a president of the International AIDS Society. No matter the number, an unspeakable loss to the world of medicine.
Did Malaysia Airlines choose cost savings over safety in Ukraine?
10the number of minutes that Malaysia Airlines likely saved on its flight time by having its planes travel over Ukraine instead of around the volatile country. It also probably saved $1,500 in jet fuel, or 2 percent of the total cost of fuel used on the flight, according to the aviation firm masFlight. Other airlines, however, have made a point of avoiding the airspace, particularly the Australian airline Qantas. Critics, including former NTSB officials, suggest that Malaysia Airlines took too big a risk by flying over the region. source
“Autonomy … will make mobility more efficient, but will also open up greater possibilities for dual-use applications and ways for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon that it is today.”—The FBI thinks Google’s self-driving cars will make pretty good weapons.
TMZ reports that sources within the Kasem family suspect Jean, Kasem’s widow, of removing the body from a funeral home. The body went missing the day before a judge ordered Jean to store it there so that an autopsy could be performed.
There could be a really dark, depressing episode of Scooby-Doo* written around this whole awful affair.
I mean, that’s the only reason I can imagine this woman would go so far as to hide her famous dead husband’s body from his own children. Because she’s clearly trying to become a Scooby-Doo villain.
* — Casey Kasem was the voice of Shaggy for a couple of decades.
Netflix has quietly stopped sending Saturday shipments to customers of its DVD subscription service, a move that could save the company 10% annually on shipping costs, one analyst estimates.
Last year the U.S. Postal Service considered ending Saturday mail delivery, leading to a report that said the change could make Netflix more profitable. Ultimately, the USPS backed off its plan to end Saturday deliveries, but Netflix has gone through with it.
This may not make Jose Antonio Vargas feel better, but apparently TSA agents need some basic geography lessons.
WFTV Washington correspondent Justin Gray was flying back to DC from Orlando, Fla., when a TSA agent halted him for holding a license from a state he didn’t recognize, and asked him for his passport. Gray was confused: he didn’t bring his passport, because his District of Columbia driver’s license should have been sufficient. The agent insisted that he didn’t recognize it.
“At that point, I was a little confused, but then I realized what was going on,” he later told WFTV. “I said to him, ‘Do you not know what the District of Columbia is?’ After some back and forth, it became clear he didn’t.”
Prominent immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas was detained at an airport in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday as he was passing through a security checkpoint, the immigration rights group he co-founded said.
Airport officials in the border city could not confirm that Vargas had been detained but said an unidentified individual was taken into police custody at an airport security checkpoint.
Vargas posted a picture of himself holding documents on a Define American Facebook page as he was about to go through airport security.
"The only IDs I have to show security: my Philippine passport and my pocketbook U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, which I keep with me at all times. I don’t know what’s going to happen," he wrote.
Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has written extensively about immigration.
In 1993 at the age of 12, he said goodbye to his mother and boarded a plane in the Philippines to join his grandparents in California. It would be four more years before he would learn that he was in the United States illegally.
This is what happens when you name your film after a keyword with 656,000,000 Google results:
Lawyers representing Dinesh D’Souza’s newest film, America, have fired off a letter to Google demanding that the search engine correct problems that they say are hampering the ability of consumers to figure out where the movie is playing.
The letter claims that Google has been confusing America with 2016: Obama’s America, which was D’Souza’s first movie and has been out of theaters for two years, while Lionsgate released America on July 2 and it is currently playing in about 1,100 theaters nationwide.
Google, according to the letter, has been “misdirecting many users who mistakenly believed the film was not playing in theaters. We understand this was brought to your attention for correction five days ago, yet the problem persists.”
It’s not Google’s fault if you don’t know anything about SEO.
Next time someone sends you that link for the potato salad guy, send them this link about an organization that’s giving $80 blocks of cheese to food pantries in New York City:
The upscale leftovers found a good home.
As the Summer Fancy Food Show closed its doors in New York City last week, the association that put on the three-day event gave around 90,000 pounds of leftover foie gras, gourmet cheeses, prosciutto, and chocolate to food pantries and community programs throughout the city.
It was no small task, and it required hundreds of volunteers, but the Specialty Food Association (SFA) had some help from City Harvest, an antihunger nonprofit in the city that works with the association to donate leftover tradeshow food every year. The volunteers scoured booths of the 2,700-plus exhibitors at the expo, filling up six tractor-trailers with gourmet goods.
The upscale edibles are quite an upgrade for food pantry clients, who often struggle to afford even the most basic of meals, according to Matthew Reich, vice president of food sourcing at City Harvest.
Crumbs Bake Shop Inc. notified employees Monday that it would be closing all of its stores at the end of the business day, a spokeswoman for the New York-based cupcake maker said.
"Regrettably Crumbs has been forced to cease operations and is immediately attending to the dislocation of its devoted employees while it evaluates its limited remaining options," the company said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. Those options could include a bankruptcy filing, the spokeswoman said.
Kareem Wegman, a manager in a Crumbs store in Brooklyn, told the Journal that a fellow employee broke the news of the closure to him. “I come into work today, I’m happy, I’m skipping to work, and suddenly I don’t have a job,” said Mr. Wegman, who has worked at the store for two years and said he has a family to support.
The nation’s largest teachers’ union wants Education Secretary Arne Duncan to quit.
Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for his resignation. The vote underscores the long-standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers’ unions — historically a steadfast Democratic ally.
A tipping point for some members was Duncan’s statement last month in support of a California judge’s ruling that struck down tenure and other job protections for the state’s public school teachers. In harsh wording, the judge said such laws harm particularly low-income students by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire.
Even before that, teachers’ unions have clashed with the administration over other issues ranging from its support of charter schools to its push to use student test scores as part of evaluating teachers.
The vote is a “venting of frustration of too many things that are wrong,” said Dennis Van Roekel, the outgoing president of NEA. He said it wasn’t directed at Duncan personally, but was about teachers wanting what is best for students.
This is a big deal. Duncan took a bold stance against both the State of California and a number of teachers’ unions with his statement supporting that ruling. Now he’s lost their support entirely.
zeitvox says: What kind of news is this? The promotion of sensational factoids on a gamble for viral repetition? As if whatever in Iceland ranked anywhere near significant nowadays!
» SFB says: Two points:
I’d like to think that SFB has always had a taste for the offbeat and absurd. Who cares if it’s “news” in the traditional sense? If you think that quote is sensational, I have a pretty cool site I’d like to recommend to you.
Iceland is an awesome country and I will bias my posts in its general direction if I find some interesting Iceland news. — Ernie @ SFB
“That was the problem with Harriet. It can’t be conjugated in Icelandic.”—Icelandic resident Tristan Cardew • Discussing the situation regarding his 10-year-old daughter Harriet, whose passport renewal was denied because it’s not an approved name under Icelandic law. The girl was able to travel previously on a passport that listed her name as “Stúlka,” or “girl.” “But this time, the authorities have decided to apply the letter of the law,” Cardew said. “And that says no official document will be issued to people who do not bear an approved Icelandic name.”
The BBC will be having none of your false balance, climate change haters:
The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.
The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.
Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’
“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” wrote the report authors.
Here's why pot smokers might have a problem getting a legal high in Washington
2,600the number of would-be marijuana growers that applied after Washington state legalized marijuana in 2012.
80the number of growers, out of that gigantic pool, that successfully received licenses to grow marijuana. Part of the problem is that the state’s Liquor Control Board faces a huge backlog of applicants.
560kthe size, in square footage, of the marijuana farms currently in production that have received state approval. That’s the size of just 10 football fields—and that’s leading to concerns about a shortage when legal marijuana sales begin this week. source
“As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.”—The TSA plans to confirm that overseas travelers have functional cell phones before they get on a flight to enter the U.S. Be sure to charge up beforehand.
Egypt's economic tank is starting to sputter. The result? Pain at the pump.
70%the reported increase in fuel prices in some parts of Egypt after the country severely cut its energy subsidies, blaming a need for austerity measures. Prices for other basic amenities, like electricity, were also expected to increase as a result of the austerity measures. source
“We are not against headbanging. The risk of injury is very, very low. But I think if (our patient) had (gone) to a classical concert, this would not have happened.”—Dr. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian • Discussing one of his patients, a German metal fan who suffered a brain injury which doctors believed was brought on by a headbanging habit that led to negative effects after a Motorhead concert. While such incidences of headbanging-related brain damage are rare, they are possible, experts say.
The men appear to be Buddhist monks; a smaller number of similarly dressed women say they are Taoist nuns.
No one seems to know who they really are or where they come from. The police have taken no official stance, stepping in only when the monks become aggressive. Various Buddhists have confronted the men, asking about their affiliation or quizzing them about the religion’s precepts. The men remain silent or simply walk away.
Their presence has become ubiquitous — so much so that the Naked Cowboy, the Times Square performer whose real name is Robert Burck, now simply refers to them as “co-workers.”
African countries try to get ahead of massive Ebola outbreak
11the number of African nations that are joining forces to take on a fresh outbreak of the Ebola virus. Among the countries taking part include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
759cases have been reported as a result of the current outbreak as of June 30, with 467 having led to fatalities. source
“It’s why we launched in Dollar Tree recently. My dad needs to be able to buy this mayo and not even think about whether it is healthy or affordable. Food should be healthier and more affordable for regular people or it won’t even mean anything.”—Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick • Discussing why his company chose to introduce its plant-based mayonnaise Just Mayo—which relies on food science to match its egg-based equivalent as closely as possible—to Dollar Tree, a store that sells most of its items for just $1 each. Tetrick’s approach here, inspired by his dad’s own choice to shop at Dollar Tree, is unlike most veggie food companies; he says that’s important, because his goal is ultimately to bring his vegan food substitutes to the mass market.
“The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.”—FTC Alleges T-Mobile Crammed Bogus Charges onto Customers’ Phone Bills
Dinesh only missed the top spot by…[gets out calculator] … slightly less than $100 million dollars.
So, more like this:
Sorry Raw Story, this silliness has to be called out. Now granted, there are a lot of reasons to mock this movie—IndieWire has a great list—but let’s be fair here. D’Souza’s flick played in three theaters. Transformers opened up in 4,200. The jailbound political commentator’s film doesn’t go into wide release until July 2, and in those three theaters it played in, it had a per-screen average of $12,869. (It also had a higher opening weekend than his last film, though that opened in just one theater.)
I’ll be the first to admit that D’Souza’s flick will probably have more logical fallacies in the first 30 seconds than this post has. And Michael Bay’s Transformers is still probably the better film, even though it’s total dreck. But this is still a logical fallacy.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare.
The ruling deals directly with only a small provision of Obamacare and will not take down the entire law but it amounts to a huge black eye for Obamacare and its backers. The justices have given Obamacare opponents their most significant political victory against the health care law, reinforcing their argument that the law and President Barack Obama are encroaching on Americans’ freedoms.
The decision broke down how you would expect it to.
“It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011.”—Failed Oklahoma congressional candidate Tim Murray • Accusing his rival, Frank D. Lucas, of being a plant, and saying that, for that reason, he plans to contest the primary results. In other words, he’s batshit insane.