Paul Krugman: Tidings of Comfort (NY Times)
You surely haven't heard this in the news, but 2014 was a year in which the federal government showed that it can do some important things very well.
Tom Danehy: Tom loves youth sports, and he's mad at the Arizona Interscholastic Association for sports inequity (Tucson Weekly)
There's a mean joke about a guy who has one good hand, but his other hand has been badly mangled in an accident. He goes into a church and prays, "Please God, make my hand like the other one." He hears a thunderclap, then looks down to see that he now has two mangled hands. More on that later.
Andrew Tobias: Elephantine Gifts
Wha'd YOU get this year? I hope: health, love, and a robust Internet connection. Truly, nothing more is required. (Food? Shelter? They are a necessary condition of health, so already covered in that list. Money? A necessary condition of having food and shelter. A job? Abner and I should certainly hope not* - but same deal, if you need one to get money as a necessary condition to the rest. The list is complete: health, love, and a robust Internet connection.)
Luis Prada: The One Lesson You Need to Learn This Holiday Season (Cracked)
The holidays are about kindness. Well, the kindness is hidden beneath mounds of credit card debt from all the gifts you're buying for your loved ones and for the bastards you barely tolerate from your office Secret Santa pool. The kindness is in there, somewhere. So there's no better time of year to tell a personal tale of a tiny moment in my own life when kindness, happiness, respect, and all of those wonderful holiday feelings were something more than some words printed on the $25 Macy's gift card I give my mom every Christmas.
Pauli Poisuo: 7 Physical Mutations That Helped Famous Careers (Cracked)
We bet every one of you reading this has one weird thing about your body you'd change if you could -- maybe you have an eye that's slightly lower than the other, or a nasty little scar on your lower back where your tail used to be. We all want to be perfect. But not so fast. As a whole bunch of famous people can tell you, a horrible deformity and/or physical mutilation can be the difference between failure and stardom. For instance ...
Fitzgerald Smith: 7 Celebrity Careers That Launched by Accident (Cracked)
Hollywood is filled with plenty of rags to riches stories. Jim Carey worked as a janitor, Demi Moore was a debt collector, Brad Pitt used to wear a chicken suit while handing out fliers and Sharon Stone worked (works?) at a McDonald's. But some actors' beginnings can be attributed to not hard work, but sheer chance or accident. Such as...
JibJab 2014 Year in Review: "2014, You Are History!" (YouTube)
Did data breaches, ice bucket challenges, and the wild events of 2014 really #BreakTheInternet? Find out in JibJab's 2014 Year in Review -- it's one for the history books!
Sweet Hat Bro (YouTube)
"Patrick Stewart's wife Sunny Ozell got him a hat for Christmas and recorded his embarrassment for all of us to enjoy. The man looks like he's in pain, but he's a good enough sport to stand still for this humiliation." - Neatorama
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
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David Bruce has approximately 50 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
Michelle in AZ
From the 'And you think a bull elephant has big ones?' File...
A Zambian wildlife guide who stood in front of an aggressive elephant and commanded it to "get back" has been widely praised by the British school pupils he protected... (Oh, yeah... with video)
BBC News - Zambian guide shows how to take on a charging elephant
I am in awe of this man... Seriously...
From The Creator of 'Avery Ant'
sorry for so soon after the holiday but.......
from Marc Perkel
Hello Bartcop fans,
As you all know the untimely passing of Terry was unexpected, even by him. We all knew he had cancer but we all thought he had some years left. So some of us who have worked closely with him over the years are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. My job, among other things, is to establish communications with the Bartcop community and provide email lists and groups for those who might put something together. Those who want to play an active roll in something coming from this, or if you are one of Bart's pillars, should send an email to email@example.com.
Bart's final wish was to pay off the house mortgage for Mrs. Bart who is overwhelmed and so very grateful for the support she has received. Anyone wanting to make a donation can click on this the yellow donate button on bartcop.com
But - I need you all to help keep this going. This note isn't going to directly reach all of Bart's fans. So if you can repost it on blogs and discussion boards so people can sign up then when we figure out what's next we can let more people know. This list is just over 600 but like to get it up to at least 10,000 pretty quick. So here's the signup link for this email list.
( mailman.bartcop.com/listinfo/bartnews )
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Sunny but cool.
Egypt Axes Film
Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" citing historical inaccuracies, the culture minister said Friday, a day after a similar move by Morocco.
Culture Minister Gaber Asfour told AFP that Ridley Scott's blockbuster was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that "Moses and the Jews built the pyramids".
"It is a Zionist film," he said. "It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that's why we have decided to ban it."
The ban was decided by a committee comprising the head of the supreme council for culture, Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee and two history professors, said Asfour.
Morocco has banned cinemas from showing the biblical epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings" just one day before the Hollywood blockbuster was due to be screened, media reports said Thursday.
It was unclear why officials decided to ban the movie which had been given the green light by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Centre (CCM), which implements all rules concerning the industry.
Theatre managers said they received "verbal" instructions from the CCM not to begin screening the movie as planned on Wednesday, according to news website media24.
Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, told media24 that he had been threatened with the closure of the business if he refused to implement the ban.
Forgetting The Alamo
Time and Mother Nature are threatening to dismantle the Alamo. Not the original, but the replica 18th-century Spanish mission and Old West movie set John Wayne built for his Oscar-nominated 1960 movie and that for decades was a tourist mecca and film production site.
"It's not just something that represents history to a movie set - it is now history for sure," says Rich Curilla, the one-man curator and custodian of the now-closed Alamo Village.
Alamo Village, a 400-acre plot of land about 120 miles west of San Antonio, was carved out of a large ranch in the late 1950s for Wayne's directorial debut. Starring Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie and Wayne as Davy Crockett, "The Alamo" had an estimated $12 million budget, huge for its time.
The 4-foot-thick Alamo facade was modeled off a 1936 map of the historic building - drawn up for the Texas centennial that year - and set construction took nearly two years. Unlike the real Alamo, which is dwarfed by taller buildings in the heart of San Antonio, the view from Wayne's Alamo offered a panorama of iconic Texas and Western images.
Business at Alamo Village began to wane in the 1980s when traffic along the main east-west route through South Texas shifted north with completion of Interstate 10. It closed to the public after the last remaining owner died in 2009 and the property was divided among heirs. The land now primarily is used for cattle grazing and hunting.
Patriarchy Pregnancy Terminated
A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die - a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's strict ban on abortion in an age of medical innovation.
The three-judge Dublin High Court said that all artificial support for the woman should end more than three weeks after she was declared clinically dead. Her relatives gathered at a hospital in the Irish Midlands to bid farewell to the unidentified woman, who was in her late 20s and had two young children.
In their 29-page ruling, the judges accepted testimony from seven doctors who said the fetus couldn't survive for the extra two months of development needed to be delivered safely. The doctors detailed how the woman's body was becoming a lethal environment rife with infections, fungal growths, fever and high blood pressure.
The judges said the fetus faced "a 'perfect storm' from which it has no realistic prospect of emerging alive. It has nothing but distress and death in prospect."
Irish doctors have appealed for decades for clearer guidelines on when they may terminate a pregnancy. Irish law permits this only when deemed necessary to save the woman's life. Parliament passed the law last year after a 31-year-old woman, suffering a protracted miscarriage, was refused an abortion and died of blood poisoning.
Crime and Lawsuits Cloud New Movie
The real-life story behind Hollywood's "American Sniper," rolled out this holiday season, has been a dark tale of lawsuits and a pending murder trial for the man accused of gunning down the movie's hero.
Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh is to stand trial in February on charges of murdering Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL whose best-selling autobiography "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" was the basis for the film from director Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper.
Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, took Routh to a shooting range on Dec. 2, 2013. Routh is accused of shooting Kyle and Littlefield to death and stealing Kyle's truck.
Kyle's estate has also had its troubles, with a jury in St. Paul earlier this year awarding former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in damages for a passage in Kyle's book about a supposed bar fight between the two that jurors found libelous.
'Screech' Charged In Bar Stabbing
Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell," was charged Friday with stabbing a man during a bar fight on Christmas.
Diamond, 37, faces charges of felony second-degree recklessly endangering safety charge, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon.
According to the criminal complaint, Diamond told police that he and his fiancee went out to several bars Thursday night in Port Washington, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee. The couple, who lives in Port Washington, got into a tussle with two men and another woman at the Grand Avenue Saloon, the complaint said.
Port Washington police say they responded at 11:15 p.m. Thursday to a report of a stabbing at a bar. When police caught up with their SUV down the road from the bar, Diamond told police he had a "pen" in his hand when he grabbed one of the men, according to the complaint.
Port Washington police found in the car a switchblade, the point of which was covered in what appeared to be blood. Diamond later told police he accidentally stabbed the man while trying to defend his fiancee, according to the complaint.
Imposes Token Rationing
Just when Russians thought it could not get any worse with the ruble tumbling as fast as the oil prices on which their economy depends, the people of St Petersburg are waking up to rationing.
But in President Vladimir Putin's hometown, the martyr city that survived a nearly 900-day siege in which thousands starved to death in World War II, it is not food and drink that is being rationed, but metro tokens.
In one of the most bizarre episodes of panic buying in a nation notorious for its hoarding instincts in times of trouble, people have been buying up to 85,000 extra metro tokens a day so they can save three rubles (five cents) when the price goes up on January 1.
With more than 1.8 million sold so far in December the authorities had to step in and ban cashiers from selling people more than two tokens at a time.
Signs of panic buying have emerged in recent weeks with many hard-pressed households hoarding sugar and buckwheat, one of the country's main staples, as the ruble at one point lost one quarter of its value in just two days.
Mulls Bigger Role For Women
A struggle for women's rights is brewing within Israel's deeply conservative ultra-Orthodox community, where women, largely shut out of politics, are beginning to demand greater representation in the country's parliament.
More than 20 percent of Israeli lawmakers are female, but not one woman serves from the country's two ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, parties. In haredi communities, women are expected to manage a home, raise children and provide an income for the family, often while the husband studies Torah.
Those beliefs remain firmly entrenched, but in the run-up to the March 17 elections, traditional views of the role of women in haredi politics are being challenged in mainstream and ultra-Orthodox media - a shift that activists say marks a major stride toward more equitable representation.
Secular women, in contrast, serve at all levels of government and society. Israel is one of the few nations to have elected a female head of government. Golda Meir served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974.
Some haredi women are now demanding change. A group called "No Voice, No Vote" has pledged to boycott haredi parties that don't include female lawmakers.
Can't Keep Up With Demand
Bob Wheeler still gets the question sometimes when people find out he runs the company that builds those shiny aluminum campers: "Airstreams? They still make those?"
Not only are the retro-looking "silver bullet" travel-trailers still being built by hand at the same western Ohio site that has produced them for 60 years, but the company also can't roll them out of there fast enough to meet the demand these days.
The instantly recognizable silver bubble design - inspired by airplane fuselages - hasn't been tweaked much since the first Airstreams took to the open road in the 1930s on the way to becoming an American icon. The polished campers have cameoed in Hollywood movies and even quarantined the Apollo 11 astronauts when they got back from the moon. They have also inspired a legion of devotees who socialize with one another at Airstream caravans and rallies all over the world - including an annual Ohio jamboree known as "Alumapalooza."
Airstream builds 50 travel-trailers every week at the plant in Jackson Center, all gleaming and aerodynamic and riveted by hand. The backlog is about three months, and ground has already been broken on a major expansion at the factory north of Dayton that eventually will increase production capacity by 50 percent.
Renowned jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco - who collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and other top singers and musicians of his era - has died at the age of 91, his family said Friday.
DeFranco's wife, Joyce, said he had been in declining health in recent years.
DeFranco, a member of the American Jazz Hall of Fame, performed at venues around the world for 75 years and recorded with musicians including Sinatra, Holliday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He conducted the Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight years from 1966 to 1974.
He was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and later named a Living Jazz Legend in a Kennedy Center ceremony.
DeFranco was recognized 16 times with the Playboy All-Star award for top jazz clarinetist in the world.
DeFranco began his career as a teenager in Philadelphia and went on to play with legendary bands including ones led by Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Gene Krupa and Charlie Barnett.
Composer Nelson Riddle wrote the musical "Cross Country Suite" in 1958 for DeFranco, and Nat King Cole introduced DeFranco when he premiered the work at the Hollywood Bowl.
The annual Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival is held each spring at the University of Montana. DeFranco's family asked Friday that contributions in his memory be given to the festival.
DeFranco is survived by his wife and his son, Chad DeFranco.