40 years of faulty wiring

Where did Nonsense go?

Originally posted on A Blog of Bosh:

One of the questions which are often asked about Nonsense is, Why did it disappear almost completely from literature after the great season of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll? As M.B. Heyman writes in his thesis (Isles of Boshen: Edward Lear’s literary nonsense in context, University of Glasgow, Faculty of Arts, Department of English Literature, 2005):

If we skip Lear, Carroll, and the rest of the nineteenth century momentarily, we find a curious twist to the course of nonsense. Although literary nonsense drastically changed the face of children’s literature, as a more “pure” form for children it seems to have died away toward the turn of the century. Instead of remaining a children’s genre, nonsense returned to its old adult audience in various forms (p. 3).

After listing a few examples (Edward Gorey, Mervyn Peake, Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl) he concludes that “the genre has never returned…

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April 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The New Bermuda Triangle?

In a previous post of mine I examined the disappearance of Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle and was rightly set straight by a reader who informed me about several documented, proven reasons behind the tragedy, none of which was based on the bermuda-trianglesuperstitions around BT. The current tragic news about a supposed “aircraft disappearance” is that of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  I find this conjecture quite odd since the disappearance occurred somewhere over the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal. planes are said to vanish without a trace. Several days ago, a Malaysian politician tweeted, “New Bermuda Triangle detected in Vietnam waters, well-equipped sophisticated devices are of no use!” This outraged many people, who deemed his comments insensitive, and he later apologized. Although certainly foolish I don’t find his comment to be insensitive. It’s a fact that well-equipped devices (and I believe he means in comparison to those available in the search for Flight 19 in December 1945) are far more superior today, yet we still can’t locate the aircraft. Doubtless he is correct about that but the hocus pocus about the disappearing plane at this point seems a little premature. The search has just begun. It’s a little early to lose hope about finding the airplane and to attribute this development to a non-existent phenomenon, although clearly the lives of 230 people are probably lost forever whether the plane is found or not.

Personally I don’t see anything mystic in this airplane “disappearance.” It actually reminds me of the shoot down of Iran Air vinFlight 655 by the U.S. navy warship Vincennes, some 20-odd years ago. Is it possible someone took out Flight 370 and we haven’t been informed, or it hasn’t yet been discovered? I think so. Someone somewhere is in a lot of trouble. Then again I’m a skeptic. I don’t believe in the supernatural, ESP, psychic vision or any of that silly stuff. The “original” Bermuda Triangle myth was based on 3 unproven (and ridiculous) facts:

  1. Blame it on Atlantis, the mythical city at the bottom of the sea using its “crystal energies” to sink ships and planes. Of course Atlantis exists. That’s Aquaman’s city.
  2. Other more fanciful suggestions include time portals and extraterrestrials— including rumors of underwater alien bases. That’s not at all weird.
  3. Still others believe the explanation lies in some sort of extremely rare and natural geological or hydrological phenomena. Now that’s the kind of energy we need to harness. Kind of makes Niagara Falls a bit redundant, don’t you think?

Sometimes things happen on this earth that we just cannot explain and we have to accept that. Is a magical force claiming human lives and aircraft and navy ships? Obviously not. That’s akin to a child’s fears of a monster hiding in the closet. When air traffic controllers lose sight of an airplane on a radar, it doesn’t point to a supernatural explanation. Maybe the disappearance will be solved one day. Maybe it won’t and that’s just the way it is sometimes. There will always be unexplained phenomenon on this earth. It’s part of what makes living on this planet so fascinating, and so tragic. Btw, if you’re interested in reading about what really happened to Flight 19 as it soared over BT and thereby maintaining a healthy skepticism, check out this publication: “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved” (Prometheus Books, 1972), by Larry Kusche. He debunked the myth of the non-existent triangle, although many people hang onto this tale out of sheer ghoulish delight. In the interim, for the lost Flight 370 I sincerely wish all those on board well. If it is in Bermuda, I hope the passengers are sunning themselves on the beach and have not mysteriously disappeared in a whirl of mysticism. Or cynicism for that matter.

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nature Vs Technological Nurture

That old science debate involving ethics and knowledge applies in this case. Just because we can do something should we do something that nature would otherwise not have allowed? Example. A famous story emerged this week about Dylan Benson, his infant son Iver, and his (now deceased) wife Robyn. Dylan put it into better words than I can: Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person….it will still be a bumpy ride….as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital.” Therein lies the rub.

There are two issues here: Iver is healthy, and a bumpy ride ahead. How healthy is a baby who is born 28 weeks premature? That is the babyquivalent of 4 months, or half a pregnancy. Before we had the type of technology we now have (including life support equipment for Robyn), Iver would have most certainly died with his mother. 32-year-old Robyn suffered an irreparable cerebral hemorrhage that left her brain-dead. She was 22 weeks pregnant. 6 weeks later, doctors delivered Iver at the approximate age of 5 months. It’s rather freakish if you think about it. A comatose woman who, for all intents and purposes is dead, acts as an incubator for her fetus for several weeks until doctors remove him and place him in intensive care. Nature may or may not have meant for the baby to die with his mother but it certainly made its decision about Robyn Benson.

How does daddy know the infant is healthy? Infants born even one week premature can suffer consequences although probably have few or no truly long-term problems. Those who are very premature and who have a stormy start to life often suffer serious problems. I refuse to believe that a 28-week old infant is the picture of  health and I’ll tell you why. Regarding infants born at 33 weeks or less:

  • Hypothermia is a great risk. A premature baby is less able to shiver and to maintain homeostasis.
  • Maternal death, especially in teenage mothers, is a higher risk than in babies born at term.
  • Hypoglycaemia is also a risk. There may also be hypocalcaemia. Both can cause convulsions that may produce long-term brain damage.
  • The more premature the baby, the greater the risk of respiratory distress syndrome. Steroids before delivery may reduce the risk. If the baby requires oxygen it must be monitored very carefully as the premature baby is susceptible to retrolental fibroplasia and blindness.
  • Baby-Face-IIThe premature baby is more susceptible to neonatal jaundice and to kernicterus at a lower level of bilirubin than a more mature baby.
  • They are susceptible to infection and to necrotising enteritis.
  • They are susceptible to intraventricular brain haemorrhage with serious long-term effects.
  • Severe problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness may affect as many as 10 to 15% of significantly premature babies. There is some evidence that the incidence of cerebral palsy is falling in premature babies born between 28-31 weeks
  • About half of infants born at 24-28 weeks of gestation have a disability at 5 years.
  • In the infants born later (29-32 weeks’ gestation), about a third have a disability at 5 years.
  • Over 30% had developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) compared with 6% of classmates.
  • Far more very premature children do poorly in school than their healthier peers.
  • The preterm children were significantly more likely be overactive, easily distractible, impulsive, disorganised and lacking in persistence. They also tended to overestimate their ability.

One important thing to keep in mind: although major disabilities have been reduced, the levels of disability tested in the quoted study did not seem lower than those found in children born 10 or 20 years earlier despite improvements in care of the newborn. I will allow for the fact that stats and percentages are generalities and not entirely precise. Still, I am grateful that my own child was born term and not at 28 weeks. Had she been that premature would I have wanted doctors to keep her alive? Absolutely. This is part of the dilemma of welcoming an extremely premature infant into one’s family. The love is there long before the birth. The problems are only just beginning. 

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human Biology, Human psychology | Leave a comment

27 Useless Trendy Words and Phrases that Should be Retired in 2014

I hate these words. Most of them are rude and dismissive. They do not enhance conversation and while they are preferable to obscenities so is measles. That`s how nasty they are. And stupid.

Whatever.  It`s rude. It`s a stupid way to end an argument. You don`t really win with this one. You`re just throwing up your hands in the air as if you don`t care when you actually do.

Duh. That is even ruder. Have you ever had someone say `duh`nice and loud to your face, especially with other people around. You have. Sucks to be you.

Bi-atch. This is the snotty high school girl`s way of calling someone a bitch. Just say bitch and be done with it already.

Bitch. As in saying someone is “you`re my bitch,`or saying “bitch“ to a man. Stick with bastard. Bitch is just nasty and gender-confused.

Oh no she didn`t. Seriously that is so moronic. Clearly she did, so why say she didn`t.

laughing-girlDude. That is so David Spade. Ick. He`s over. So is dude.

Fill your boots. This isn`t a Santa Claus expression. It means “go for it.` It`s the most hillbilly encouragement I`ve ever heard in my life.

Douche or douchebag. Most people don`t blink an eye over that one but when you think about its meaning, it`s seriously gross.

Irregardless. What! How do you regard yet irregard (no such word) a fact at the same time.  If you`re regarding it then it`s a fact. if you aren`t then why are you discussing it at all.

It is what it is. No shit.

At the end of the day. Then what. It`s night time you idiot.

I don`t give a rat`s ass. Did you think this whole conversation was a big lead up to my asking, “do you have any rodent sphincters I can have?”

Do you have a dog in this fight. What if I have a cat in this fight. Is that okay.

angry-woman-ManasAxe instead of ask.

Mines instead of mine.

Like as in So I was, like, all mad and, like,…

Goes as in so he goes, so I go…can“t you just say “he replied“ and “I said.“

Deal with it.

I so mean it...or any misuse of the word so, such as “you so suck at this game.“

Hater. What! Hating something doesn`t define a person has a hater. And there`s no such word as hater.

from a ___ standpoint …depends on whose standpoint you mean. For instance, from a ham`s standpoint that seems like a lot of pineapple. What the hell.

willy nilly - that is so 1800s. That one should have been retired in 1914.

Paradigm. No knows what this means. That`s probably because no one knows how to use it.

walmartDumbass. Is there an intelligent rear end.

Awesome as in it is awesomely stupid that that word is still kicking around today.

Britney Spears.

Hater. I really hate this one (pun). A teenager walked out of my daughter’s school recently wearing a baseball cap with Hater blazoned proudly on the visor. It made me feel all warm inside.

Amen. No, that`s not one of the words. It means so be it in English.

December 16, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Education, Pop Culture | Leave a comment

Terrible Tips to Tame Hunger and Tip the Scales at 100 lbs Maximum

Okay I’m not a fan of eating disorders.  I swear.  In fact I don’t have one and this isn’t admirable at all. I don’t have the guts (pun) to purge when I eat.  I hate vomiting. I like the after effect in clearing out a nauseous stomach when I’m sick, but it’s the thin skinny woman 1getting there that I loathe. I hate that heaving and hurling and I cannot stand seeing my own bile.  I don’t champion eating disorders for so many reasons, but if memory doesn’t fail, I believe I have blogged about the pitiful mental state that leads one into anorexia,  bulimia, or a host or other illnesses. Oh, about that. Bulimia rarely results in long-term weight loss. Most bulimics’ weight fluctuates. Bulimia is also about control over the body as a means of controlling the environment around you, rather than weight loss or the influence of the media.

Having said that, I came across some of the weirdest tips imaginable if you are determined to pursue bulimia nervosa as your eating disorder of choice. Naturally, I am inclined to share them with you. Listen, this blog is entitled “faulty wiring” not “politically correct.” You don’t like? Don’t read. Move on.

  1. Don’t try to throw up heavy, doughy food such as bagels, untoasted bread, pancakes, perogies, and tortillas. Avoid peanut butter, cheese, chocolate candy, dried fruit or nuts, and pastries. These are difficult to get out of the digestive tract.  All that effort for no reason.  Use your common sense would ya? Try ice cream, small, overcooked pasta, soup, frozen waffles (not pancakes), milkshakes, cereal and milk, scrambled eggs, Kraft Dinner and Hamburger Helper. Gross.
  2. Begin your purging with a marker food - something bright and colorful so you know you have puked it all out.
  3. Water – Heavy, dense foods of any sort, including meat and dried fruit, are tough to clean out of one’s digestive tract, so the ideal way to know if you’ve succeeded is to drink plenty of water. When all that’s coming out anymore is clear liquid, you know it’s all outta there. n.b.  This one is especially dangerous. Practice with caution.
  4. Watch For the Love of Nancy - it worked for a ninth-grader. - blogger Jessica (happens to be my daughter’s name, but no, she isn’t my daughter)

Here’s a Jessica quote about the Nancy movie:

nancyAround me, in the semi-darkness of the classroom all of the girls watched, rapt, as she demonstrated how important it was for her to be skinny and to feel in control of her weight. When the movie showed people reacting in horror to Tracy’s thin frame we surreptitiously poked at our own stomachs and were for the first time disturbed by what we found there.

On the one hand, I can comprehend the girls’ perspectives. Nancy becomes thinner and in her mind more victorious. It’s people around her who are critical and worried about her health. When the support group counselor asks Nancy what recovery means to her she blurts, “fat!” Ouch. On the other hand, this movie was so entirely heart-wrenching and darkly disturbing, I couldn’t in the slightest comprehend the girls’ perspectives. Bulimia and anorexia are such complicated illnesses.

On with the litany of gross ways to disappear into yourself:

1.      Wear baggy clothes so no one can see how thin you are and thereby railroad your attempt at weight loss.

2.       Exercise compulsively. Go, girl (to the point of exhaustion).

3.       Avoid social activities that include food.

4.       stitchLearn tricky ways to appear as though you are eating in front of others when you aren’t: push your food around on your plate; when someone is watching, scoop food onto your fork, bring it to your mouth, then put it down again when the nosy observer is distracted.

5.        Insist you’ve just eaten and are full when people try to feed you. Always have a menu in your head to be able to rattle off
when they demand “oh yeah? What did you eat?”Make sure the menu has an appetizer, an entrée, a side dish, and a dessert.

6.        Talk a lot while pretending to eat with others. Spend a lot of time rapidly cutting up all of your food, including weird stuff like french fries and cookies.

7.        Always carry a toothbrush in your purse in case you give into temptation and eat something.

8.        Eat lightly before every purge if you can….bulimics this advice isn’t for you. The idea with bulimia is to stuff yourself to the brim and then puke. Good times. n.b. triggering: (Watch the preceding video link and mute the sound).

9.        Take it from Matthew McConaughey as he starved himself for his most recent movie role: the first two weeks of starvation are the hardest. Then it gets easier. You can’t buy memories like that.

10.      Join the cult of the Breatharians. Those whack-jobs claim they neither eat nor drink for years on end yet they live healthy, long lives. If you consider 2 weeks to be a long life, then sure. Go for it.

Alright those are some general and hopefully helpful tips as you starve or puke yourself to death.  I would be remiss if i didn’t include some of the more severe consequences of any current, designer eating disorder.

1.      KellybeforeYour dental work will cost a fortune if you are a puker.  Your tooth enamel will erode. You will develop wicked chancres too and they will hurt.  Don’t forget gum disease.

2.       Have a friend who knows CPR on hand when you vomit in case your heart stops. No kidding. You get an electrolyte imbalance in your stomach from all the vomiting. It’s been known to happen.

3.       Invest in extensions or a wig. Your hair will eventually fall out in wads.

4.       Prepare for gastric anguish. Vomiting on a regular basis is somewhat hard on the stomach lining. All organs involved in the digestion of food will be damaged by your vomit.

5.       Prepare for major heartburn in the esophagus. Same reason as number 4. Your skin may also be damaged by acid in your vomit. Your face will also bloat. Pretty.

6.       You will become anxious, irritable and in general be a bi-atch. You will lose friends. Meh. Who needs em’? Prepare to become very depressed and experience mood swings. This isn’t that fun, you know. If you’re truly into it, you will become suicidal.

7.        Your grades will drop severely. Forget about applying for that scholarship.

8.        Learn to  habitually lie, cheat and sneak. Especially with people you love.

9.        Develop a lifelong guilt complex every time you put food in your mouth.

10.     Draft a living will in the event that you die. You probably will (pun). Don’t say I didn’t warn you in my caring, sarcastic way.

If you think I am trying to guilt trip you about your ED, you are right. I am trying to guilt trip you into getting help. Now. You’re worth it.

God bless and be well.

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Health and Wellness, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Not to Be A Loser According to 1950s Films

The 1950′s were a puritanical time on so many levels: morality, sexuality, drugs, virtuous behaviour, pristine television programs, clean commercial advertising. Of course, righteous behaviour doesn’t come naturally. Thankfully we had Coronet and McGraw-Hill films to advise us on how not to be a loser.

Drug Use – Marijuana
pinTalk about an exaggeration about the use of marijuana. You know, many young people probably believed this stuff at that time. First off, one had to recognize the difference in a cigarette and a joint, lest you be fooled into smoking pot when you merely wished to pollute your lungs with nicotine. In this pitiful video, a schoolteacher debates with a conservative “expert” about the use of pot in school. Naturally, the clincher was that the addiction to pot led directly to the addiction to heroin. “It can happen here” is the ominous moral of this story.  Haha.

Morphine and Heroin and Cocaineoh my!
coke
In this awesomely hilarious video , factual truths are illustrated. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the wisdom of the narrative that I laugh at…it’s the melodramatic delivery that leaves me wiping tears of laughter from my tear ducts. A prime example: many addicts come from teeming slum areas, where human misery runs high. Oh, ha-ha. Way to stereotype the poor, dude. As if they didn’t already have enough problems. The increase of addiction among teens is another perspective I scratch my head over. I’m not aware of too many suburban clean-cut teens who get immersed in this stuff but to hear the narrator tell it, teenage cocaine and heroin use is approaching epidemic proportions. Get out while there’s still time.

Video Number Two in this series explains how young, decent people get started on the road to drug addiction. Here’s a big 50surprise: it all started with marijuana. Yes I know many people who smoke a joint now and then and whose lives have become a slippery slope into hard drugs. Tsk tsk. If only they’d seen this video first. They’d be fine citizens today. Thanks to this dreadful development, Marty the Teenage Addict lost his job and became a social isolate. His life becomes a downward spiral into debauchery. Damn that marijuana.

Good Habits vs Bad Habits or The Lady vs The Sloth
Speaking of habits, this is the story of Barbara the Sloth. Poor Barbara. She’s such a pain in the ass. She sleeps in (gasp). This doesn’t leave her time to match up her clothes, which has become difficult. She can’t find her hairbrush. She has morning mouth. Her dress has a tear in the collar. What a skank. “If you had a habit plan for your mornings, you might get off to a decent start some day,” the narrator scolds. Helen on the other hand, is a pearl. She has a habit plan and it works, too. Helen is up early enough to get a ride to school with Daddy. “Who could image a better way to start the day?” the narrator gushes. Really? I’d rather start the day with a joint. Barbara commits another cardinal sin in class: she drums on her desk with her fingers. Eek. Barbara, pack your bags. Ultimately, poor Barbara is so embarrassed by her messy hair and her dirty fingernails she has a mental breakdown and loses all her friends. Okay, so that doesn’t happen. Whatever.

Social Graces – Act Your Age
social
Today’s victim is Jim, an emotionally immature teen who learns to act his age after his very public humiliation for being a dork. Jim is an awkward 50′s teen who looks a lot like Wally Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. He should be the Eddie Haskel of the show, but unlike our man Eddie, Jim actually feels remorse. Personally I thought Eddy was cool. He was a 1950s version of Eminem. He lived life his way, spoke his mind and didn’t give a damn. Eddie probably lost his virginity twelve years before Wally and ended up a corporate lawyer on Wall Street. Wally on the other hand was the subject of The 40-year-old Virgin and he too collected action figures whilst in the fourth decade of his life.  But back to poor immature Jim. He commits the crime of graffiti on a school desk using his school pencil. The principal, the weird Mr. Edmunds, sarcastically offers him a better alternative: a Boy Scout knife. Seriously. Edmunds has a lot of time to counsel wayward boys. He never does any work. Developing Social Skills is a tricky one. Fortunately we have the idiotic Bill to learn the rules of social courtesy.

Sexual Morality
sexYou knew I’d get around to this one. I love the aforelinked video: How to Say No, like it’s an art form. Mind you, this also refers to saying no to all kinds of things, like smoking and gossiping. If you want to skip to the sex part (and you do) watch from 7:53. One girl makes the astounding admission that sometimes it’s the girl who makes the first move. Shriek. The narrator advises us that a direct no might make us lose our friends, God forbid. Well you do want to hang onto friends like that. Sex Education for Boys is particularly helpful. The sports coach counsels his boys on sex education. Today, that sort of thing can get you six years in prison. One boy casually advises his young friend “I had a wet dream last night.” He generously explains to the younger boy “you know, sperm comes out of your penis.” And yes, the coach pops up (pun) in this one.

Just in case you didn’t get that part, there’s always As Boys Grow (1957). Hello again, coach. He helpfully discusses the buttocks, being “big all over”, penis and testes, complete with diagrams. I swear this guy should change his name to David Frost. Sex Education for Girls  is all about menstruation, naturally. Why, menstruation is as natural as sprouting teeth (but hopefully not as obvious). When our little heroine Molly starts behaving precociously, modelling her sister’s hat in front of a mirror and examining a sanitary napkin, it becomes obvious she is about to start menstruating soon. Seriously. Get those hormones under control, Molly. You’re making a slut of yourself. 

Beware those feelings between you and Jeff, Mary. Things [might]start to happen. It’s understandable however. Mary’s babe051207mother seems quite laid (pun) back for a 50′s mom. She tells her daughter that at first sex is “quite a lark.I’m serious. That’s a line in the previous video. Oh and for those of you who weaken and do the deed, don’t be surprised when you turn out like pathetic Eileen, the teenage mother, baby and all. Eileen is certain Mary and Jeff will cross the street so they won’t have to say hello to her but generously they stop and chat. Wisely, they do keep their distance. Oh and here’s a word to the wise, girls. The two previous videos are about sexual lust and professed love. They both star a boy named Jeff. Jeff likes to tell all his girls how much he loves them. What a jerk (off). Oh and Jeff once again demonstrates his immaturity when he acts like a “contagious disease” (not that kind, you) at home. He even beats up his little brother with a coat hanger. What a prize. I can see why so many girls want to jump into bed with Jeff.

Homosexuality
Now no one likes this topic but it has to be discussed. Homosexuality is the domain of adult male perverts and has become an epidemic. This aforelinked video was made for young boys in order to protect their (anal) innocence and recognize a perv when they see one. Well, you know what they say in tricky situations: cover your ass. At least we of the 21st century have eliminated homosexual paranoia. 

The Little Woman
house
Easy does it, ladies. A narrator warns women from carrying twelve times their weight in laundry upstairs, a feat that would leave a mountain climber gasping for air. Oh and be careful about pushing an iron around, you need enough muscle as a bricklayer. It’s all too much for the little woman. Time to get modern and buy appliances that only require a push of the button to complete household chores. Love it. A Word to the Wives Jane stopped by for a cup of coffee at her friend’s house and she fell apart with envy at the remodeled modern kitchen. The appliances make life so much easier for a housewife. It’s more freedom to go on a shopping spree and have a house warming party to show off her wares (not that kind of wares, you).

Working Women
If only we weren’t genetically wired to have babies and cook all the time, then we’d have enough skill and common sense to be able to work in factories. Nope, our participation in the labour industry is just too darned dangerous. It comes back to that whole modern appliances in the kitchen thing.

The 1950s Housewife
wife
Sexism flourished in the 1960s. Housewifery was still a challengeYour husband’s disapproval about your housekeeping and caregiver skills was a crime. Consider the aforelinked ad where a typical young housewife messes up the coffee. She shrieks at her husband not to toss her un-drinkable coffee into the bushes. “You’ll kill the petunias,” she laments. What a disgrace. She could never secretly poison her spouse for life insurance purposes.

Eternally Beautiful
pretty
Staying beautiful is an essential to being happily married forever, ladies. Whatever you do, don’t age or put on weight and if you have to age, at least fight it with all your womanly wiles.  Here’s a beauty tip: spend lots of time outdoors horseback riding and splashing in streams. And when you conduct those debilitating household chores (see The Little Woman) don’t slouch your way through them, you slob. When seated, don’t be he pigeon-toed thinker in the group. It isn’t charming. Gasp. Wash your hair once every two weeks. Seriously? Finishing up with a curling rod is a good sign, naturally. Your hair won’t get dry and hereby break off. What? And don’t munch the paint off your pencil or bite your painted nails. Your nails will be short and ugly. Like you.

Table Etiquette
table
Okay, the aforelinked video is from the 21st century and it’s serious! The 3-finger trick to slipping your table napkin out from under your forks is the darndest thing I ever saw. And how to remove the napkin ring to make it easier. You don’t want to exhaust yourself before you have to pick up a fork. Seriously. And here’s a dilemma: what to do when someone has food in their teeth? Personally I’d pluck it out for them. It gets worse. The narrator in this video saw a man spit an olive pit into his hat. Gak! He was escorted out. Tips for the toast - lucky you. You get to be the teetotaler in the group. When someone toasts in your honour you can’t pick up a glass and slug away like everyone else. Sucks to be you.

Getting Lucky – (the cigarettes, you)
What the hell? While we’re in the business of telling people what losers they are why not promote cigarette smoking? Incredibly, commercials swore up and down that medical doctors promoted this delightful life-shortening habit. And what the heck? Might as well get kids’ cartoons in on it. Even the Flintstones had a Winston break during work. And I Love Lucy loved smoking too. Hey, cigarettes were cool. You were a nerd if you didn’t smoke. Just so long as you know the difference between a Lucky and a joint.

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Education, Pop Culture | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy were Gorgeous Rivals for JFK’s Affections

Poor JFK. What a hard life. Two of the world’s most beautiful women battled it out over him whenever he wasn’t busy acting JackieKennedyas the charismatic and dashing President of the United States, not to mention reign as King Arthur over Camelot.  Jackie’s Camelot was seated in Washington D.C., the White House, to be precise. She was certainly an appropriate Lady Guinevere, conducting herself with grace and a unique style that was unprecedented in fashion. When she made her “coming out” appearance, she was dubbed debutante of the year by Hearst columnist, Igor Cassini.  Jackie made as strong an impact for her beauty and style, as did Marilyn. Ironically, Jackie and Marilyn shared Irish roots. yet the comparison ends there.

One is the story of a woman and her survival in a world where she was orphaned and exploited by people for her entire career. The other is a woman besieged by nearly impossible and highly constricting social expectations. The one thing these incredibly different women shared was a love for an emotionally void man who cared far more for himself than either of them, or anyone else for that matter. Although she began her iconic life as Jacqueline Bouvier, then Kennedy, the First Lady eventually became known in pop culture as Jackie O, the wife of billionaire shipping magnate Aristotle  Onassis. Although Onassis proved to be another womanizer, the unlikely pair remained married until Onassis’ death in 1975. Jackie was a traditional, stalwart, religious woman who didn’t believe in divorce, even when she suffered the humiliation and loneliness brought upon her by a wayward husband. Somehow Jackie emerged with her dignity intact, too revered in elite, socialite circles to become the target of gossip.

jackieThe 1960s Jackie carved out an iconic niche for herself in political and fashion history, inspiring millions of women to wear her box-shaped jacket and skirt sets, jaunty hats perched smartly to one side and short, ladylike gloves. Fashion at that time was in a transition from that of the 1950s housewife in commercial ads: puffy-sleeved dresses and swirling skirts, emphasizing a tiny waistline and accentuated with sensible, two-inch heels. Jackie’s look was fresh and innovative, embracing the trendy 60′s with a dose of finesse. Designers worldwide stole her look and brought it to the catwalks. She is remembered for her contributions to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, her style, elegance, and grace. Her famous pink Chanel suit and pillbox hat became symbols of her husband’s assassination and one of the lasting images of the 1960s.

jacqueline-bouvier-at-16Jacqueline Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929, to Janet Lee Bouvier  and John (Jack) Vernon Bouvier III. Janet and Jack had a troubled marriage resulting from his womanizing ways. The pair were divorced in 1940, an event that devastated the young Jackie who was close to her father. It is possible Jackie was able to tolerate Jack and Aristotle’s philandering because her first male role model demonstrated this very behaviour. Jackie grew up believing men could never be faithful. Jackie lived with her mother, who in 1942 remarried Hugh Dubley Auchincloss, Jr., a lawyer from a wealthy old family. Jackie’s mother’s remarriage created conflict in the family. Although Jackie adored her father she saw less and less of him, especially after her mother and stepfather moved their family to Washington, D.C. 

Marilyn-marilyn-monroe-979536_1025_768gladysMarilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jean Mortenson or Baker, was an icon unto her own right. She couldn’t have been more opposite to Jackie if she’d worked at it. She was the best-known Hollywood actress in history, a buxom, voluptuous, platinum blonde, with candy apple red lipstick and a penchant for tight dresses and high heels.  Marilyn hailed from humble roots and relative poverty. Like Jackie, her childhood was fraught with conflict within her family. She was one of two daughters born to Gladys Pearl Baker Mortenson, a pretty, brunette Irish woman who worked as a film cutter in Los Angeles. Norma Jeane’s uncle, Otis Elmer Monroe, died when syphillis invaded his brain as an infant. Gladys was a divorcee and single mother when Marilyn was born. Her first two children, Norma Jeane’s half-siblings, were Berniece Baker and Robert Kermit Baker. They were kidnapped by her estranged husband. Jasper Baker. Gladys later located them in Kentucky, but soon returned to Los Angeles without them.

Gladys was a paranoid schizophrenic who was hospitalized for many years. Unable to care for Marilyn, Gladys placed her child into the foster system. Norma Jeane’s exit from the foster system was a la marriage at 16 years old to her 20-year-old neighbour, Jim Doughtery. Many years after Marilyn’s death Dougherty would state in an interview, “I wasn’t married to Marilyn Monroe. I was married to Norma Jean Dougherty. I didn’t know Marilyn Monroe. She was a movie star. She was a stranger to me.” According to Monroe, Gladys’ second brother, Marion, committed suicide via hanging upon his release from an asylum, and Marilyn’s great-grand-father did the same in a fit of depression. It would appear that Marilyn Monroe’s life was littered with mental illness and suicide, a grim foreshadowing of her own future fate.

Marilyn was divorced from her third husband, Arthur Miller, when she became involved in a passionate affair with the President. They had met many years before but for both young hopefuls, their careers were foremost in their minds and they’d parted ways. Now it was a decade later and opportunity presented itself for both celebrities. JFK was smitten with the celebrity scene. He enjoyed the company of the Rat Pack, specifically Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra. It was through this circle that JFK became re-acquainted with Marilyn. For JFK, the attraction was obvious. Marilyn was a sexy, glamorous movie star. For her part, Marilyn had been an illegitimate child and never knew her father’s identity. JFK’s power made him appear as a handsome and protective lover, almost a father figure. JFK, on the other hand, regarded Marilyn in the same way he regarded all of his extramarital liaisons: she was a temporary sexual fling, jackienothing more, even with her celebrity status. Her sex appeal was all that very briefly lured him into her bed.  He might have seen her eight times at most but somehow Marilyn made it into something much bigger in her own mind. In spite of her being the world’s sex goddess it mattered little to her that JFK had the unmanly reputation as a “2-minute man”. Marilyn wasn’t seeking sex from the President. She used sex to get close to him. She needed him for a sense of personal identity and security.

So delusional was Marilyn, she often told friends she was going to replace Jackie Kennedy as the First Lady of the United States, going so far as to contact Jackie herself on the telephone to tell her JFK was about to file for divorce. Jackie’s cool reserve never faltered. She assured Marilyn she had no problem allowing the actress to wed Jack but added that the movie star would have to travel to India, live in the White House, care for their children, and conduct many unglamorous duties. Gobsmacked, Marilyn had no retort. Jackie hung up, triumphant. Strangely, Jackie was more affected by the telephone call and by Marilyn Monroe than anyone knew. She was furious with Marilyn’s audacity and humiliated by Jack’s behaviour. Of all JFK’s affairs, the one with Marilyn worried her the most mainly because of the type of behaviour that led Marilyn to contact her on the phone. Marilyn was a loose cannon and seemed capable of anything including revealing details of her affair with the president, bringing public ridicule to the Kennedy family. Yet Marilyn was something of an obsession. Jackie adopted her voice and some of her mannerisms. In fact, to listen to Jackie without knowing it was her, you might think it was Marilyn speaking.

After the 4-85telephone call all hell broke loose in the Kennedy household. , Mrs. Kennedy put her foot down squarely on Jack’s head and told him to break off all contact with Marilyn Monroe. Meekly Jack agreed and indeed Marilyn was never able to reach the President on his private line again. Where once she’d spoken to him several times a week now Marilyn found JFK’s line disconnected. She contacted the main White House line and was told Jack was permanently indisposed. Flummoxed, Marilyn managed to contact his brother Robert and ask him to intervene for her. Although intrigued with his brother`s mistress Robert did nothing of the kind, pleased that Jack had come to his senses about the controversial film star. After this dual rejection Marilyn became despondent. She was suffering many losses at that time. Her career was faltering. She worried that she was losing her celebrity as she aged. Ultimately Marilyn took her own life on August 4, 1962. She was 36 years old.

The battle between Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe aka Norma Jeane Baker-Mortensen was over, with Jackie as usual, the victor.

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Celebrity Chic, corrruption, Politics, Pop Culture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eye Spy with My Little Russian Eye

Have you ever wondered why anyone would become involved in espionage?  That didn’t really cross my mind until I read about the glamorous red-headed Russian spy Anna Chapman (her married surname). Chapman is the stuff of James Bond films: goddess body, pretty face, Breck Girl hair. She’s the type of spy that makes you believe espionage must indeed be a life of glamour and sex, since clearly both were a part of her espionage repertoire. Lest you think Chapman is  merely a prop however, she speaks five languages, has a master’s degree in economics from Moscow University, and her father, Vasily Kushchenko, may be a senior KGB official, although this is unsubstantiated.

anna_chapman_09Anna is a Russian national who was residing in New York City when she was arrested, along with nine others, on June 27, 2010 on suspicion of working for the Illegalas Program spy ring under the Russian Federation’s external intelligence agency for the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki). Chapman pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General (how sneaky) and was deported back to Russia on July 8, 2010, as part of a prisoner swap (must have swapped her with a Playboy Bunny). She met Alex Chapman at a London Docklands Rave Party in 2001 and they married in Moscow.  As a result she gained dual Russian–British citizenship, and a British passport. How convenient. one block from Wall Street in Manhattan. Her LinkedIn site profile identified her as CEO of PropertyFinder LLC, a website selling real estate internationally. Anna told him the enterprise was continually in debt for the first couple of years, and then suddenly in 2009, she had as many as 50 employees and a successful business. In late December 2010 Chapman was appointed to the public council of Young Guard of United Russia. According to the organization, she “will be engaged in educating young people,” (in what, they didn’t say).

On January 21, 2011, Chapman began hosting a weekly TV show in Russia called Secrets of the World for REN TV (I swear I’m not making this stuff up). She testified to the closed trial in absentia of Col. Alexander Poteyev that took place in Moscow in May and June 2011 that it was only Poteyev who could have provided the U.S. authorities with the information that led to her arrest in 2010. She alleged she was arrested after an undercover U.S. agent contacted her using a code that only Poteyev and her personal handler could know. The jerk.

anna-chapman-maxim-russia-02Chapman wrote a column for Komsomolskaya Pravda. In October 2011 she was accused of plagiarising material on Alexander Pushkin. The Guardian reported that this added to a negative trend toward her and in September 2011, she had been “heckled during a speech on leadership at a St. Petersburg University“. Students displayed signs stating: “Chapman, get out of the university!” and “The Kremlin and the porn studio are in the other direction!” Chapman’s foundation supported the second International Сonference “The Genetics of Aging and Longevity” in Moscow, where top world aging scientists present their speeches, including researchers who presented the results of experiments using anti-aging drugs on animals. Anna must have picked up that stuff, judging by the look of her body. In 2012 it was reported that Chapman almost caught a senior member of U.S. President Obama’s cabinet in a honeytrap operation wherein the bisexual Chapman plan would have seduced her target before extracting information from him or her.

Officials claimed Chapman worked with a network of others, until an undercover FBI agent attempted to draw her into a trap at a Manhattan Coffee Shop. The FBI agent offered Chapman a fake passport at Starbucks, with the instructions to forward it to another spy. He asked, “are you ready for this step?“, to which Chapman unequivocally replied, “Of course”. She accepted the passport. However, after making a series of phone calls to her father Chapman handed the passport in at a local police station, but was arrested shortly after. After being formally charged, Chapman and nine other detainees became part of a spy swap deal between the United States aEmblema_del_KGBnd Russia, the biggest of its kind since 1986. The ten Russian agents returned to Russia via a chartered jet that landed at Vienna International Airport, where the swap occurred on the morning of July 8.  After her deportation to Russia, it was revealed that Chapman wished to stay in the UK and was “particularly upset” by the revocation of her UK citizenship and exclusion from the country. Poor baby. I’m sure she will find someone to take her in.

Actually I think Chapman is pretty cool. She’s too good to believe yet she is real.  After her disgraced deportation, she wasn’t jailed or jeered. She tweeted a marriage proposal to Edward Snowden. She became a sexy model in Moscow and the U.S. She was featured on the cover of Maxim, has been interviewed by countless reporters and ended up with her own TV show. I never pictured myself as a TV star,” she admitted in an interview. Yet she envisioned herself as an international spy.  Love it.

Who knows how any human being is fodder for international espionage? Let’s say you’re intrigued enough with Anna Chapman that you are seriously considering a career in espionage.  There are interesting steps you may wish to pursue in order to join, say, the CIA:

Qualifications:cia-chemtrails-logo-copy

  • You need a university degree in your area of specialization.  The CIA seldom recruits actual spies. They tend to need people in many other, far less glamorous occupations.
  • You must be able to pass all background checks.
  • you must be a U,S. citizen.
  • don’t abuse drugs
  • don’t gamble
  • associate with squeaky clean people
  • be physically and mentally fit to the nth degree
  • it wouldn’t hurt to have military experience

Expectations:

  • eye_spyYou are expected to work for the CIA for the duration of your career.
  • The CIA sees itself as one big happy family. You will be placing your work ahead of your real family and will be expected to work in teams.
  • The Agency has its own community. The George Bush Center has its own food court, gym, walking paths, clothing stores, recreational clubs and more.  (In other words, they want you with them as much as possible…are you starting to feel owned? You should).
  •  having studies with emphases on international relations, law, technology, political science, history, security studies, economics or finance, mathematics, journalism, and anything requiring analytical skills, are advantageous.
  • Learn at least one other language. Languages in high demand include    Mandarin,Farsi (Persian), Pashto, Dari, Russian (Anna Chapman offers private lessons if you’re interested), and Arabic.
  •  learn people skills including how to make people like you. Arrogance, egoism and inflated self-importance will get you fired.
  •  If you see life in absolutes (“he is wrong, I am right“), then it’s likely you’re not going to be a good choice.
  • Be physically fit. You will be put through rigorous physical testing.
  • Be mentally fit. You will be tested to your limits in training to see how you handle emotional pressure. In addition, you might be captured and tortured.  You never pictured James Bond in that predicament, did you?
  • Be prepared to relocate. Often.
  • you’ll never be a millionaire…your salary will be a lot lower than people with similar qualifications in the corporate sector.

If you still want to be James Bond (or Anna Chapman) I salute you.

Watch your ass.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Celebrity Chic, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

28 Seconds and 3 years Later, Michael Bryant is a Changed Man…Maybe

Admittedly I have been taking pot shots at Michael Bryant in this blog, perhaps unfairly since the whole Darcy Sheppard thing. You michael-bryant-cp-300-72467 know, the tragic tale where Bryant supposedly dragged Sheppard with his car for several metres, slamming him into a mailbox and finally killing him. On August 31, 2009, Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. Days later he resigned as CEO of Invest Toronto, while maintaining that he was innocent of the charges. On May 25, 2010, all charges against Bryant were withdraw when prosecutors cited the cyclist was the aggressor in the incident and that the charges would be impossible to prove or disprove. At least this was the story back then.  Here is a youtube video (admittedly it is quite grainy).

In his book 28 Seconds: A true Story of Addiction, Tragedy, and Hope. The story now unfolds like this:  According to Bryant his vehicle stalled when he stopped behind Sheppard on Bloor Street. His car then lurched forward from his attempts to restart the vehicle which brought the car close to, or in contact with, Sheppard’s tire. Expert analysis of security camera footage confirmed the car’s headlights dimmed in a manner consistent with this explanation and that the vehicle had a “sensitive and light clutch”. No damage to the bicycle’s rear wheel rim was evident. Witnesses said that Sheppard confronted Bryant and his wife “loudly and aggressivelywhile they “remained passive.” The car’s next movement resulted in Sheppard ending up on the hood of the car. The car travelled 30 feet, lasted 2.5 second, the car’s speed was between 9 and 13.4 km/h and brakes were applied after 1 second. According to Bryant he was looking down trying to restart the vehicle and applied the brakes when he saw Sheppard on the hood. This was the initial accident, and in all truth that’s what it was at that point; an accident. It was when Sheppard grabbed onto the sideview mirror in an effort to continue his attack, that Bryant’s behaviour turned criminal.

mikeThe crown determined there was no evidence Sheppard was seriously injured at this point and there was not enough evidence to justify a separate charge based upon Bryant’s driving. The fatality occurred when Bryant drove away and Sheppard grabbed hold of the side of the vehicle. The car veered into the opposite lanes, Sheppard’s body struck a fire hydrant knocking him off the car and his head hit the pavement. There were witnesses who said it appeared Bryant had attempted to knock Sheppard off the car by striking him against trees and mailboxes. There were also witness reports that Sheppard reached into Bryant’s convertible and grabbed Bryant or the steering wheel.  Bryant parked his car around the corner and called 911. Sheppard later died of his injuries in hospital.

Bryant gave TVO an interview with Steve Paikin in 2012 about his book. He looks haggard; grey-haired, slumped and thinner, large bags under his eyes. The cocky politician from previous years is nowhere to be seen. Nonetheless, Bryant opens up. “People want to Bryant_Michael-760x429talk about it. It is very awkward…’oh you’re that Michael Bryant,’ I  wanted to talk about it because sometimes, not often, I would go into a social setting and suddenly it was a wake, or a shiva…until somebody makes the first joke it’s just tense.” Here’s a mind-blow: Sheppard was the drunkard who got dragged, but Bryant himself is an alcoholic. Paikin  says frankly, “so you were the Attorney General, an alcoholic and as the cliche goes ended up in the gutter sometimes and you managed to do your job.” Bryant responds correctly “there are some people who are high-functioning alcoholics in this world.” I agree with him. I know this to be true. “I had basically someone hold up a mirror to me and it’s when you undergo that rigorous honesty with yourself, and then you see what’s really going on, that’s when one comes to realize you’ve just got to give up.” Talk about opening yourself up to public scrutiny. Bryant’s full admission leaves him with nothing to hide behind. Forrest Gump said it best, “sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” 

Obligingly, Bryant reads his account of the fateful 28 seconds to Paikin:

I put the SAAB in reverse. As I was looking back Sheppard hurled his backpack containing a heavy bike lock at us. It went sailing over my head. I put the car in first gear and tried to drive around him. Outraged, he raced toward the front of the car. I remember Susan bryant1screaming ‘oh my God’ over and over. Chasing after us, he leapt at the SAAB as if in slow motion, Sheppard landing hip-first to break his fall, the way you see stuntmen as cops do the hood-slide on crime shows [they should clean up that video and make it into a CSI episode] . It made a crunching noise. I felt the impact of a man over 200 pounds landing on my car. He then grabbed the windshield wiper and bent it back towards him. He began pulling himself toward me hand over hand, as if the wiper were a rope. The strength of the man was extraordinary. he seemed almost superhuman [gasp from audience]. His upper torso was now on the hood’s edge of the driver’s side, the car moving forward. He swung around, put his right arm inside the door, his left arm hid around the side mirror. He held up his legs, a feat of some strength no doubt assisted by the adrenaline that I later learned Darcy so often sought. [wtf?] The car suddenly swerved sharply to the left almost 45 degrees. I have no recollection how that happened. He must have grabbed the wheel.[i wonder what Sheppard's account would say to that].  In wrestling for control of the car we crossed to the other side of the street, heading westbound into the eastbound lane. Then he said to me with a crooked grin, after we had stopped for a moment, ‘you’re not getting away that easy.’ [it's all fun and games until Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark shows up], then he started climbing in the car. Susan grew louder and more frantic. ‘No, no, no, stop, stop, stop, stop!’ This was the only physical contact between us. The car remained stopped while the shoving was going on. I was struggling with Darcy Sheppard for control of the vehicle then he was gone. All of a sudden I just didn’t see him there. I didn’t see him fall. I heard a sound, maybe a groan.

He finishes with an abrupt nod.

During the first months after Darcy Sheppard’s death, Bryant was in a daze. One of the conditions of bail was that he couldn’t drive so he bought a bike at Duke’s Cycle on Richmond West. As he walked around the store checking out different models, the room fell silent. When he handed over his ID to take a test ride, the clerk read the name with disbelief. “Yup,” he said to his gobsmacked co-worker, “it’s actually Michael Bryant.” Bryant bought the bike. Stay away from Bloor Street.  Toronto Life magazine insists in the months after Sheppard’s death Bryant found himself at loose ends. He filled his days like a 1950s housewife: picking up the kids from school and meeting friends for lunch. The city seemed much louder than it had before. His marriage underwent considerable strain. Once a power couple, Bryant and his wife Susan Abramovitch, avoided public parties. Dressing up and socializing seemed gauche and so they stayed in. Eventually they divorced. Then there was the pesky matter of those criminal charges. Bryant knew Edward Green­span but he wanted a lawyer who ignored the media. In other words, not a media star. Where does the irony end? He went with Marie  Heinen, an amoral defence lawyer who got David Frost, the notorious Brampton pedophile and Michael Danton’s former hockey coach, acquitted of twelve sexual assault charges against him upon children as young as 14.  Perhaps there are times you have to make a deal with the devil. Thankfully, not everyone feels that way.

Then people began to come forward to say they saw photos of Sheppard on the news and believed they’d bryant-sheppard-prevbeen harassed by him in the past. In six incidents, detailed by Henein’s defense team and later in the court summary, motorists recounted stories of Sheppard violently intimidating them, spitting on them, hitting the windshield with his fists. In some cases, he threw things at their cars or reached inside the open window to grab the steering wheel. Photographs depict a shirtless man with a mohawk reaching mena­cingly into the car as he clings to the vehicle’s running board were sent to Henein. It was the pictures that persuaded the court that Bryant was not the aggressor, but the victim of an assault.  In a courtroom packed with media, lawyers, and friends and family of Sheppard and Bryant, Peck announced his decision. In a detailed, 11-page court summary, he concluded that the evidence brought forward by the defense established Sheppard was the aggressor and the Crown had no prospect for a conviction. The reaction was one of approval and outrage.

A reader of Toronto Life commented “I had a run in with this cyclist years ago…as a witness to his craziness…He ran into a car, on his bike, then after raging at the driver, an older Asian gentleman, for about 10 minutes, he picked up a concrete block and hurled it at the car. He missed me by inches…he doesn’t deserve our sympathy. Our sorrow perhaps…but from reports, this was a common occurrence with him.” Indeed.

Bryant admits the book seems like a PR stunt. Paikin informs him there were many people who disliked him before the incident and no michael_bryant_1354116204_48amount of explanation or contrition will convince them otherwise. “Time will tell, right?” Bryant says to Paikin. Paikin dwells on Bryant’s life in politics after the reading. He probes into Bryant’s background and when the time seemed right for him to pursue a political career. Bryant admits the ambition began in his teens, probably the reason he made youngest ever AG at the tender age of 37.

Although after the Sheppard incident he was hired into Ogilvy Renault’s energy department, he left for the post of Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (or AA, ironically). Yes, another connection that got him a secure cabinet position, however Bryant has a background in Aboriginal Affairs ( a PhD) and insofar as the House is concerned, his position is actually a demotion. I believe Bryant is unfulfilled outside of politics.  This is his league, it’s what he knows best (that and reckless driving). When McGuilty – oops - Dalton McGuinty offered him Aboriginal Affairs, Bryant is adamant he saw it as an opportunity. If he didn’t have the background I’d say it was an opportunity to get out of the gutter and back into the House. However, knowing his graduate educational background centres around AA presents it as another kettle of salmon.

Bryant remains a media darling, albeit a cloudy one. He isn’t one to shy away from the limelight even when it consists of lemons. McGuinty wasn’t pleased with this behaviour since Bryant was AG. He wanted Bryant’s public persona dampened (although certainly not tarnished). One wonders if McGuinty had an “couldn’t have happened to a nicer politican” moment upon hearing about the Sheppard incident. Meow. If I sat on the Cabinet they’d have to pass me a saucer of milk to shut me up. The book is hard to put down. There are melodramatic moments of course, but Bryant has a knack for keeping his readers’ attention, every bit as much as he captivates the media. Recovering alcoholic notwithstanding, he can’t run too dry. People will lose interest.

October 20, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beasts and Breeding and Brazil…oh my!

I read an interesting article on Yahoo today. It was about Ary Borges, a Brazilian man, who owns 7, yes 7, Siberian (orange and black) adorable full-grown tigers. He also has 2 lions.  Yipe.  The federal Brazilian wildlife officials have begun legal methods to remove the animals and neuter them. Ary, a bit of an unconventional sort not only protects his cats, he also breeds them. Ary had no experience handling wild animals when he began to breed his cats. The wildlife feds argue that the animals are dangerous and deserve to live elsewhere than in Ary’s small home in the middle of an industrial area.  He does however have a spacious red-dirt compound. It is surrounded by wooden walls and metal fences.

At first I thought “this guy is nuts. One of these days those tigers will turn on him.”  Then I looked at the slideshow. Cute. And in the pictures I saw the siberian_tiger-1280x1024a highly impressive property. A gorgeous woods with a large, deep blue swimming pool (yes the tigers use it), as well as spacious cages with at least one swimming pool inside. The rest of the day the tigers and lionesses wander around inside his house interacting with his children and spouse. Ary first rescued two abused tigers from a circus and this is what started him on his tiger-breeding hobby so to speak. To be fair, I should call it a sanctuary and it does look that way. It is probably a full-time job to care for so many wild beasts and it is obvious from looking at the impressive photographs that Ary does a darned good job. The cages are clean, as are the animals. They are healthy and active (not to mention beautiful). In one picture Ary is shown bottle feeding an adorable 2-year-old tiger named Dan.  His paw is enormous, far bigger than Ary’s hand.

The 2nd last picture is of one of his 7 tigers standing in his pristine white kitchen across the table from Ary’s family. The animal is enormous. I pictured walking around the corner into the kitchen alone and encountering just one of the enormous tigers or lionesses. It made my heart skip a beat.  As beautiful and serene as they are, tigers, lions (and bears) are wild animals. I hope nothing nasty ever comes of Ary breeding and raising his tigers. I watched a Youtube video of Ary, his tigers and his family and my impression changed somewhat. Kevin Richardson has nothing on Ary Borges, in a manner of speaking.

Another scene showed Ary holding a tiger on a leash and the animal lunged at one of the girls, Uyara, who scurried, frightened, out of its way. Moments later Uyara insists that since the family has been caring for them, the tigers’ instincts are dormant. Not sure I agree with that one. Rafael, Uyara’s husband,doesn’t want her interacting with the tigers. He is terrified of the big cats and keeps his distance. “They can be lethal. I am very afraid. I try to avoid any kind of contact as much as I can.” Not a fun way to live. Uyara however allows their adorably pretty little daughter, Rayara to ride on the backs of the tigers. Ary leans over and strokes one of the cats behind the ears. The animal’s head jerks up and he growls at his “master.” Ary snarls back and wallops him but he looks uncertain.

The compound is impressive. I didn’t picture (pun) this man’s property and animals being anywhere this efficient and clean. Considering that it takes $20,000.00 a year just to feed one full-grown lion or tiger Ary must be loaded. That’s also beneficial to his cats.

Ary-BorgesPersonally I’m on Rafael’s side. The animals are cantankerous, unpredictable and huge in size, Even Ary wouldn’t have a chance should any of his cats turn on him. I picture coming around the corner and walking smack into a huge, grown tiger. I doubt I would maintain my calm. I’m sure I’d scream and run. Of course we know that running away from a carnivore tends to trigger a hunting mechanism. Instinct is the inherent inclination of an organism toward a particular complex behaviour. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, (chasing) or a very short to medium length sequence of actions which are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus (running away).  Running away from Bob or Dan means you might as well be a sitting duck. Chasing is a complex reaction when compared to a simple reflex. It isn’t learned. An animal or person is born with it. In spite of Ary and his family insisting that the tigers’ instincts have become dormant since they have been raised by humans, science says differently. People may be able to modify a stimulated fixed action pattern by recognizing its activation and choosing to simply stop doing it, whereas animals without a sufficiently strong volitional capacity may not be able to disengage from their fixed action patterns, once activated. 

So far, Ary and his family insist there have been no serious injuries. I hope that continues. As impressive as the concept may be I say eventually nature always wins.

October 7, 2013 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True | , , , | Leave a comment

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