Saturday, April 4, 2020

Saturday Morning PSA of The Week: Sock puppets were really wild back in the day.

Today's public service announcements are all information and no imagination--but yesteryear's? Those were full of drama, plot lines, and cameos from B-grade celebrities, all wedged into one minute of absolute fantasticness.

Consider this a trip back in time to when PSAs were sometimes worth watching more than the Saturday morning cartoons.

Today:  I'm not sure which puppet will be giving me more nightmares tonight

Random Thoughts and Questions:
1.)  Kukla and Ollie were a popular children's show from 1947-1957. They made a resurgence in the late 1960s and early 1970s--when those kids grew up and were now on acid. So, this explains a lot.

2.)  You know it's the '70s when everything is a lovely hue of sepia.

What has Smokey so busy that he's too busy for a Public Service Announcement? Isn't that his only job? Does Smokey get vacation, sick time, holidays, and a sensible 401k plan?

4.)  Always breaking matches in two somehow magically puts the flame out. How, I don't know. Try it at home and see if your house goes up in flames.

  Ollie is apparently a dragon. I had to look that up because he looks like a deformed lion in need of Invisalign.

6.)  Somkey's face is placed onto matches. Pause and let that linger for a second. Some marketing guru thought using Smokey's face to make a flame was quality branding.

Monday, March 30, 2020

When Science Goes Bad: The killer bee--or how we hoped for more honey, but, yeah, that didn't pan out.

Science performs a multitude of greater good for humanity. But there are those fleeting times science goes off-the-rails in head-shaking, sigh-inducing fashion. This is where we point to those great moments mistakes in science.

Today:  That time bees were bred to make more honey, but instead became "killer" bees.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, American media reports exploded about the impending arrival of bees from South America so frightening and deadly that the United States would have chaos on their hands.

Bee-themed horror movies became all the rage. There was 1966's The Deadly Bees, 1974's more dramatic Killer Bees, and by 1976 the point was really driven home with The Savage Bees. Not to be outdone, 1978 produced a bumper crop of schlock with The Swarm (starring Michael Caine!), Terror Out of The Sky, and the rather bland-titled The Bees, but with the added tag of "They prey on human flesh!" You didn't know bees prey on flesh? You do now.

It's very helpful of the bees to avoid her eyes.

Who hasn't been attacked by bees while wearing a bikini?

This fear sweeping America all began innocently and harmlessly twenty years earlier and 6,000 miles away, rooted in an earnest attempt to improve honey-production in the Brazilian Amazon forests.

It's not that bees don't exist in South America. They do. Bees exist on every continent except Antarctica. Yet, some bees produce honey in greater quantities than others, partly based on their environment. But one such environment that they struggle in? Brazil's Amazon--and here is where the problem evolves.

In 1956, Professor and biologist Warwick E. Kerr looked to create a bee species that could withstand the strenuous Brazilian climate while producing significantly more honey. What he came up with was a blend of the western honey bee (aka: European honey bee) and the East African lowland honey bee. This appeared to be a perfect blend of talents. With the western/European honey bee, one had a fairly docile species with an abundance of honey production. Meanwhile, the East African honey bee produced less honey, but could withstand heat and humidity in South America.

The one caveat is that the East African honey bee--for lack of a better phrase--has a bit of an attitude when provoked, but kept their attitude in check as their own species.

This is not how the bee feels about your breakfast.

At his apiary outside Rio Claro, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Professor Kerr interbred the two species of bees, using queen bees from South Africa and Tanzania, and creating dozens of well-contained swarms for analysis. It was during this analysis that research noted one Tanzanian queen bee led to an interbred hive that seemed rather hostile and defensive, more so than expected or common.

Nonetheless, Kerr and his team utilized a "queen excluder" in the enclosed hives--a device used to allow access for traversing worker bees, but not the larger queen. Everything seemed to be working wonderfully. Multitudes of swarms bustled, a new species appeared feisty, and all of this was kept under strict examination.

That is until October of 1957, when one simple mistake occurred. According to Kerr, a visiting beekeeper believed the "queen excluder" was making life difficult on the worker bees. This visiting beekeeper, being a kindly gentleman, removed the "queen excluder" to alleviate worker bee difficulties--and in the process accidentally unleashed 26 swarms of the new bees into the wild.

And that was that.

Run, Michael Caine! Run for your life!
The newly developed bee species (and 26 "daughter queens" from the original Tanzanian queen) ran freely into Brazil, displaying its now overly-developed sense of hostility, and interbreeding with other western/European bee species long native to the continent. Rapidly they swept country to country throughout South America, moving into Central America in 1982 and Mexico by 1985.

And, as Hollywood feared, they finally arrived in the United States, too. By 1985, they piggybacked on oil field machinery arriving in California. Then, in 1990, the first permanent colony was discovered in Texas.

Oh, who ticked them off?

Were they as fearsome and deadly as believed? Did they kill at random? Were they worthy of low-level, low-budget horror movies with or without Michael Caine? Well, yes and no. When provoked, the "Africanized bee" (not to be confused with the "African bee") are highly defensive of their hive, they swarm in much greater numbers, and have more "guard" bees than other bee species.

This leads to occasional chaos. As the BBC News Magazine reported even in 2014, random chance encounters led to a swarm of 30,000 bees attacking a couple in Texas and killing their miniature horses, 40,000 bees killing another man in the Lone Star state, 100,000 bees attacking park employees in Florida (who survived), and an estimated swarm of 800,000 killing a man in Arizona.

In 2019, a New Mexico town closed a park after two employees survived an attack. As US News & World Report mentioned, "Officials say the town will let the bees calm down and seek a bee expert to remove them." Yes, sometimes even bees need a breather to relax.

And reports within the last year keep coming:

An attack in Pasadena, CA, where fire fighters were swarmed.

Two men died in Crossroads, TX--one while mowing his lawn--after separate attacks.

A Code Red was issued in Breckenridge, TX, after a swarm bombarded a person, while citizens were told to shelter in their homes.

Four dogs were swarmed in San Tan Valley, AZ, with one dying from an attack.

And it goes on and on and on and on...

Are the bees angrier and deadlier than other bees? Yes. Will you likely ever encounter a swarm? No. Were all the movies warranted? No. Did Michael Caine look for a quick buck and easy paycheck? Probably.

The intentions were good. Science looked to make a heartier bee that would still produce honey. Instead, it made an angry bee that sometimes needs to let off a little steam. And it all occurred because a visiting beekeeper one day wanted to help the worker bees stretch their legs a little bit.

As a side note: Michael Caine wasn't the only celebrity to appear in The Swarm, just the lead actor. Oscar winners Olivia de Havilland and Henry Fonda made cameos as well. It was a veritable who's who of money-grabbing celebrities.

A box office failure, The Swarm was actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, so, if anything, everyone in the cast looks dashing.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Friday Poem: The English Are So Nice, by D.H. Lawrence

As another week concludes, we end with a random poem. Famous poets, obscure poets, amateur poets, whatever poets--just a poem to cap off the week.

Like this one:

The English Are So Nice,  by D.H. Lawrence

The English are so nice
so awfully nice
they are the nicest people in the world.

And what’s more, they’re very nice about being nice
about your being nice as well!
If you’re not nice they soon make you feel it.

Americans and French and Germans and so on
they’re all very well
but they’re not really nice, you know.
They’re not nice in our sense of the word, are they now?

That’s why one doesn’t have to take them seriously.
We must be nice to them, of course,
of course, naturally.
But it doesn’t really matter what you say to them,
they don’t really understand
you can just say anything to them:
be nice, you know, just nice
but you must never take them seriously, they wouldn’t understand,
just be nice, you know! Oh, fairly nice,
not too nice of course, they take advantage
but nice enough, just nice enough
to let them feel they’re not quite as nice as they might be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Should coranavirus be capitalized when writing?

The quick answer is no.

There are numerous "style guides" used by writers, editors, and scientists alike, largely created by people with too much time on their hands to come to any universal agreement. God help us if The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press could ever agree on punctuation or grammar. Even Buzzfeed has their own style guide. Buzzfeed. Yes, folks, we have entered that confusing moment in human development.

But here is where some of the largest style guides fall on the spelling of coronavirus.


The Associated Press:

The Associated Press Stylebook (used by numerous journalists worldwide) states, "referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories."

They're adamant that you include "the" before "coranavirus," because--specifically speaking--there are a number of coranviruses, and COVID-19 is simply the version of coranavirus which developed in late 2019. The AP doesn't want you sounding glib and casual in your writing, so don't forget "the."

The AP's explanation also goes on to describe the family of diseases (SARS, MERS, COVID), and warns writers, "Do not exaggerate the risks presented by any of the three diseases by routinely referring to them as deadly, fatal or the like."

Key here is "routinely referring to them." The AP stresses a focus on facts. Yes, the diseases potentially are fatal, but the vast and significant majority of people survive, many without symptoms. Lack of panic doesn't attract readers and viewers, and lack of readers and viewers means lacks of advertising, which is why it appears broadcast and print media largely ignore this rule.

Chicago Manual of Style:

The Centers for Disease Control follows the Chicago Manual of Style Handbook (which is heavily favored by academic journals), and specifically links to the handbook on their site. The CDC gets bonus points for not creating their own style guide.

In essence, the CMOS Handbook limits capitalization at all cost across all forms of writing, unless the word involves a proper noun or acronym. For example, one would never capitalize "cold" or "flu" by themselves, but if referencing a certain pandemic, like the Spanish Flu, it's capitalized. Same rules apply for coronavirus.

American Medical Association Manual of Style:

Short and simple, it's largely the same as the Chicago Manual. The virus isn't capitalized; acronyms are. They could simply link to the Chicago Manual, but that would mean looking less important in the highly nuanced and petty world of style guides.


So, in conclusion, no capitalization is needed.

Now, we all can go back to washing our hands and schlepping through another day adorned in pajama pants while questioning the merits of ice cream at 11am.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

When Writers Go Weird: That time Carl Sandburg appeared on a game show...and a book publisher didn't recognize him.

Are writers ever normal? No, otherwise they'd be productive members of society.
When Writers Go Weird is when we remember writers acting strange, odd, off, or--yeah--just plain weird. Also known as Tuesday to them.

Today:  That time Carl Sandburg appeared on a game show. And a powerful book publisher was unaware.

We've covered some truly weird situations with When Writers Go Weird, including guys accidentally killing their wife, another writer faking their own death, and yet another literary visionary trying to stage a military coup. We mean weird when we say weird. So, by those lofty standards, having a world-famous writer appear on a game show is practically amateur hour. The point is, hey, you don't see Jodi Picoult on Jeopardy! much, now do you?

By 1960, the game show What's My Line? was in its tenth year of a 17-year run on CBS and at the height of its popularity. The show's premise was fairly simple. Four B-level celebrity panelists questioned everyday people all in an attempt to guess their occupation. Considering this was the 1950s and '60s, this was about as edgy as television got.


"Being 82-years old at the time and hard of hearing, Sandburg appears to have a grand old time...chirping yup! and nope! with a bird-like pitch."

In addition to hum-drum everyday jamokes, each week What's My Line? invited mystery celebrities to appear, where the blindfolded panelists guessed the celebrity's identity through a series of questions, all while the guest masked their voice. And those mystery celebrities were huge by any standard. People like Muhammad Ali, Walt Disney, and Better Davis did Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman...Betty White, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Sir Edmund Hillary. The list went on.

This is exactly what three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Sandburg walked into when he appeared on September 11, 1960. Being 82-years old at the time and hard of hearing, Sandburg appears to have a grand old time during his roughly 5-minute segment, chirping yup! and nope! with a bird-like pitch during his failed attempt to thwart people.

(Sandburg's segment doesn't really starts until the 3:08 part of the video, but watch the first three minutes to see how elaborately the panelists introduce one another, all while dressed like MET Gala attendees.)

In the end, panelist Arlene Francis guesses Sandburg out of the blue. None of the panelist's previous questions seemingly whittled down the scope to Sandburg. Yet, somehow--somehow--it appears Francis has psychic visions a carnival swindler would admire, and Carl Sandburg pops in her head. Rii-i-ight.

But wait!

There was one big kicker! (And it's not even Arlene Francis' psychic abilities!) One of the panelists was Bennett Cerf. You're quietly asking yourself right now, "And who the hell is he?" If the name doesn't ring a bell, you might know him by a tiny little publishing company he helped co-found: Random House.

That's right. The co-founder of one of the largest publishing houses ever created was none-too-quick with guessing one of the most famous poets of the 20th century.

Maybe Cerf was more of a Robert Frost fan.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Famous Writers with Dogs: Agatha Christie

Writers need inspiration somewhere in life, and for many that inspiration comes from their pet dogs.

This is a running series where we post pictures of famous writers with their canine companions--the cute, the cuddly, the creepy. And that's just the writers.

Today:  Agatha Christie

You know when older people get one of those claws to grab stuff off high shelves? Yeah--this is sort of like that.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what Agatha is trying to do, though. She always loves creating a good mystery, amiright??

The sheer look of panic by the dog suggests this is an average Saturday afternoon in the Christie household, though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Since you need to wash your hands more these days, now there's a site that'll put song lyrics to a hand-washing poster for you.

Oh, coronavirus. Sorry, Coronavirus-19. Or Corona-19. Or novel coronavirus. Or the mass hysteria gripping the world.

Whatever you call it, people are obsessed with hospital masks, toilet paper (why?), and washing their hands these days. While washing your hands is always a good thing, a little spritz of water doesn't do the trick.

Since health officials for decades have recommended washing your hands for 20-seconds (usually the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice), this led a U.K. teenager named William Gibson to create a website that generates song lyrics to accompany hand-washing posters by the U.K.'s National Health Service: simply asks for an artist's name and song title, and it'll populate the hand-washing poster with lyrics timed to the poster's instructions:

And it's not just song lyrics. Even Shakespeare's plays work out:

Sure, the Reduced Shakespeare Company could've picked a more lighthearted play than Macbeth. But if everyone is lathered up in hysteria, you might as well choose a play where nearly everyone dies.

It's called synergy, folks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Kentucky's annual budget looks to cut 1/3 of funding to libraries, which would force some to close.

"Kentucky is a cultural bastion of intellectual pursuits,"
said no one ever.

Which explains why Kentucky legislators have proposed cutting state funding to libraries from $7.8 million to $5.3 million, with additional language written into the bill that funding only go toward construction costs--mainly to support government bonds already committed to.

As the Lexington Herald Leader notes, many poor, rural communities that rely heavily on state aid to maintain a library might need to close.

"For the Hickman County library, state aid makes up 57 percent of the budget. For Knott County's library, it's 23 percent. For Livington County's library, it's 22 percent."

Republican lawmakers believe libraries have been receiving too much support while sitting on reserves of cash, as if librarians are Scrooge McDuck diving into a sea of gold coins.

"Some of them are sitting on quite a bit of cash, and I’ve been contacted from a lot of fiscal courts and county judge-executives saying our libraries keep raising taxes and we can’t do anything about it," said House Budget chairman Steve Rudy (R), Paducah.

Yes--those pesky libraries that somehow have the authority to just raise taxes randomly. Happens all the time.

A close approximation of what Kentucky lawmakers think librarians are doing

Some counties are cripplingly poor. As the Herald Leader notes, 22% of Powell County's 12,442 residents live in poverty. They only receive $13,000 in library aid from the state, which covers the cost of electricity, internet services, and programming for adults. Not salaries, not for new books. Just basic functioning of the building.

"In our area, quite a lot of the community doesn't have access to the Internet," one librarian told the newspaper. "You can come to us or you can go to the McDonald's or the Dairy Queen. But the difference is, we don't make you order anything to use the Internet. And not everyone has five bucks to spend around here just to go online."

That's right. The Dairy Queen in town in where all poor children should go to learn after school. Where else can they get internet access AND learn about the culinary delights that is soft serve?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Saturday Morning PSA of The Week: Snitchin' in the suburbs!

Today's public service announcements are all information and no imagination--but yesteryear's? Those were full of drama, plot lines, and cameos from B-grade celebrities, all wedged into one minute of absolute fantasticness.

Consider this a trip back in time to when PSAs were sometimes worth watching more than the Saturday morning cartoons.

Today:  Grandma's lurking in the shadows.

Random Thoughts and Questions:
1.)  Who knew Hartford was such a hotbed for criminal activity? Next thing you know, McGruff will say Sioux Falls is overrun by the Sicilian mob.
2.)  If McGruff sees all this crime, why doesn't HE call it in?
3.)  You're telling me that Mimi here has such keen eyesight to make out a van's license plate a couple hundred feet away?
4.)  How did the criminals not see Mimi and Albert's gigantic walkie-talkies from three blocks away? It's like a 20ft antenna strapped to a 10lb brick.
5.)  Isn't "neighborhood watch" just another way of saying "nosy neighbor"?

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Friday Poem: The Violet, by Jane Taylor

As another week concludes, we end with a random poem. Famous poets, obscure poets, amateur poets, whatever poets--just a poem to cap off the week.

Like this one:

The Violet,  by Jane Taylor

Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there,

Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

Famous Writers Shrtiless: Hart Crane

Writers are never known as the studliest or sexiest of people, but that doesn't stop them from showing some skin for the camera once in awhile.

So, occasionally we'll post some literary beefcake for your perusal.

Today:  Hart Crane

This looks like a cross between a Tiger Beat photo shoot and an ad for Clorox.

I don't think the rooftop is the place to be wearing loafers or slippers. And the hands-in-the-pockets-while-standing-at-a-building's-edge look? He's an insurance nightmare.

Granted, this feature is Famous Writers Shirtless, and Crane is wearing an undershirt. But the photo was from the Great Depression era. He's thrilled to have any shirt at all.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Mormon Church fires back at LGBQT students at BYU, says being homosexual is still a no-go.

Nine years ago, this blog jokingly started writing about the comically curious, absurdly strict, and just plain odd codes of conduct at various colleges and universities.

The first school chosen to showcase? BYU. From haircuts to clothes to who uses your bathroom, BYU lists a delightful array of absurdity by modern conventions.

Things haven't really changed in the near decade since. That was until a few weeks ago, when the university's Honor Code Office (yes, they have a full office for this stuff) surprisingly deleted a passage in the honor code that banned gays and lesbians from hugging, hand-holding, or sharing a kiss on campus. Students of all sexuality backgrounds were thrilled and excited. It seemed like a new day at BYU!

That lasted about the time of a cup of coffee, if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints actually allowed adherents to enjoy coffee. (Psst: They don't.)

Church Elder Paul V. Johnson penned a letter rebuking Brigham Young University and its students regarding homosexual behavior.

"Lasting joy comes when we live the spirit as well as the letter of God's laws," Johnson states.

This is where the trouble starts. The same passage of the Bible that says a man shall not lay down with another man also notes a cloth should not be made out of two types of thread, or a garden made with different seeds. I don't know about you, but I love me some cotton/poly blends and a good cucumber and tomato salad I grew myself. But I guess I'm packing a suitcase to Satan as I speak.

"Same-sex behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code," Johnson continues.

So, if we're following Johnson's declaration about "the word" of God, then he also REALLY doesn't want you wearing those 98% cotton shorts with 2% spandex that stretches over your love-handles. Sorry, BYU.

CNN decided to write a bio of Dr. Seuss in rhyme. Children will not be interested.

Beloved children's author Theodor Geisel (aka: Dr. Seuss) would have turned 104 this past Monday. Not the most obvious anniversary to remember, especially since the good doctor died 29 years ago. 50th? 100th? 300th? Nah, let's remember 104th.

But Seuss is still beloved by generations regardless, which led to CNN fishing for some quick web clicks this week where they wrote the briefest bio of the man in rhyme. It was supposed to be cute, as if it was one of his books--but really it's only if Dr. Seuss hit-the-bottle-and-regretted-his-career kind of book. Little tidbits like the following:

But do you know how it all started?
Do you know where it all began?
The story of the man who
brought the world "Green Eggs and Ham"?
No need to sit and worry
No — we'll explain it all
Just sit back in your chair, relax and
Silent that next call

Oh, boy. First of all, they think I'm taking calls? Listen, CNN, you text me if you need me.

Secondly, it's "silence," not "silent." It doesn't even change the number of syllables. Not that CNN was remotely counting syllables with this.

But I digress:

Then Suess, he was approached
By the director of a board
They needed something new, they said
The kids -- they are so bored!
So he began to make a book
With not too many words
Less words, he figured, that might work
That's what the kids preferred

"Fewer," not "less." Does CNN ever hire proofreaders or editors for their website? Oh, don't be silly! Proper grammar when writing about books is overrated.

And "the kids"?

The book he made, it had a name
"The Cat in the Hat"
A blend of rhythms and cartoons
A different format
That same year, he dropped another
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
A story of an odd green man
who's rude and too ambitious


Yeeeah, sorry CNN, but the "The" in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" is capitalized, as Random House's own book--and the following photo CNN attached to the story--shows:

You literally had the photo on your site, CNN, and still spelled the word incorrectly.

You know what Dr. Seuss would think?

You need to read more children's books.

PS: Lest you wonder why I don't begrudge CNN for their spelling of "The Cat in the Hat," it's because damn near all versions of Random House's editions capitalize every letter of every word in the title. No media outlet, CNN or anyone else, is going to capitalize every letter of every word like they're screaming.

Semantics? Damn right, it's semantics.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Roughly 38,153 people are going to be pretty upset at Harvard in a few weeks.

Harvard University announced that 40,246 students have applied this selection cycle.

According to the school's newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, it's the fewest applicants in three years. So far, the school has already accepted 825 students in December as part of the "Early Action" program, while "Regular Decision" students will learn their fate on March 26th.

An estimated 5.2% of students gain admittance each year. Using some quick math, that means a total of 2,093 will receive their golden ticket for life.

Don't feel too badly for the remaining 38,153 who find themselves rejected. I'm sure many will make do with the plebeian masses at Yale or Princeton or--dare say--even Columbia.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Columnist joins The New York Times, then writes how the newspaper's power might be bad news.

Point #1: 
Ben Smith used to work at BuzzFeed when it was a startup company.

Point #2:  The New York Times has more digital subscribers than the COMBINED subscribers of The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle.

Point #3:  Ben Smith left BuzzFeed, joined The New York Times as a columnist, and on Sunday wrote his first piece about how his now-employer's consolidation of media power might not be so good.

He joined the very problem he fears.

The New York Times has become such a monopoly of information that it can hire people to criticize the company, publish it, play it as self-aware, and simply laugh as they watch more money roll in.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Famous Writers with Cats: Philip K. Dick

Writers need inspiration somewhere in life, and for many that inspiration comes from their pet cats.

This is a running series where we post pictures of famous writers with their feline companions--the cute, the cuddly, the creepy. And that's just the writers.

Today:  Philip K. Dick

Considering Philip K. Dick's stories have been made into movies like Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall, there's a strong chance this cat is just some sort of android that had vengeance and murder on its mind. Look at it. You can't tell me that cat wasn't wondering about murder.

Okay, and maybe catnip.

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Friday Poem: Words, by Kamala Das

As another week concludes, we end with a random poem. Famous poets, obscure poets, amateur poets, whatever poets--just a poem to cap off the week.

Like this one:

Words,  by Kamala Das

All round me are words, and words and words,
They grow on me like leaves, they never
Seem to stop their slow growing
From within... But I tell my self, words
Are a nuisance, beware of them, they
Can be so many things, a
Chasm where running feet must pause, to
Look, a sea with paralyzing waves,
A blast of burning air or,
A knife most willing to cut your best
Friend's throat... Words are a nuisance, but.
They grow on me like leaves on a tree,
They never seem to stop their coming,
From a silence, somewhere deep within...

Randomness Corner: Did you steal three tons of chickpeas recently?

Thieves are on the run with three tons of chickpeas, it what can only be defined as the Great Hummus Theft of 2020.

A small, two-location Middle Eastern chain restaurant in Washington, DC, called Little Sesame is in a lot of trouble, as a recent UPS delivery of 6,150 pounds of chickpeas has gone missing, according to the Washington City Paper.

Little Sesame purchases the chickpeas from a grower in Montana, who typically sends quarterly shipments year-round of three pallets, or one ton each, per pallet.

Tracking records from UPS show the purloined 'peas at a distribution warehouse in Landover, MD, on February 10th. The delivery was supposedly made in an alley out behind one of the two restaurant locations two weeks later on February 24th, in what is apparently the slowest and most casual Big Brown drop-off ever.

Little Sesame's co-owner, Nick Wiseman, tells the Washington City Paper that they're working with other farmers for an emergency shipment of chickpeas before they run out. He notes that three tons of chickpeas roughly equals the weight of an African elephant. That's not necessarily the visual you had mingling with thoughts of hummus, but let it simmer.

In the meantime, clearly someone needs to keep an eye out on a ton of shipped tahini, too. If you happen to see a galore of garbanzos in your local neighborhood, you're urged to contact police.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

High school student collects books for people in jail.

Greenfield (MA) High School junior Ella McDaniel is collecting books for inmates at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections until March 24.

According to the Greenfield Recorder, the 16-year old is going through Confirmation at her local Catholic Church and is required to perform acts of community service. McDaniel chose collecting books for inmates.

As The Recorder reports:

"I heard about a project in eastern Massachusetts that provides books to inmates and I thought, 'Why can't we do that here?'" McDaniel said. "Not only does it give (inmates) access to books, but the community at large. I'm a big believer in advocacy."

[...] McDaniel shares that among released inmates, "recidivism rates drop significantly after completing their education."

And that's just the thing. Education does work in all walks of life, but especially within prison populations. I should know. I taught prisoners. Murderers and drug dealers--the vast majority of whom would be released back into local communities largely shunned for a crime of passion--who would now lack not only education, but support from locals to begin a new life.

Prisons are often titled as a "Department of Corrections" or "Correctional Facility." Yet, so often we don't care about "correcting" the issue that led some individual to years behind bars in the first place, which is often a lack of education. We punish and punish and punish again.

There is no logic in taking away someone's freedom, leaving them in a cage, only to release them back into society and expect a positive change.

Instead of punish, it should be educate and educate and educate again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Philadelphia Little Free Library is filled with yarn instead of books.

There are over 90,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, but one of the first dedicated to yarn popped up outside Philadelphia.

According to news site Billy Penn, local proprietor Liz Sytsma fills up her Little Free Fiber Library with a bevy of yarn, and each day it's cleared out. Don't let BIG STRING learn about this.

Sytsma owns the Wild Hand yarn shop and uses the Little Free Library box her dad created as a sort of outreach to the community. It's caught a fan base on Instagram and Twitter as a result.

It's been a huge success in the one month since it started. "I was surprised," Sytsma tells Billy Penn. "Yarn shops all over the country reached out. Also people from all over wanting to put yarn in it."

Aww, wait until Hobby Lobby or Michael's gets a whiff of this and starts a crackdown.