Philip Oltermann: "Mama Merkel: the 'compassionate mother' of Syrian refugees" (The Guardian)
Her stance over Greek debt earned comparisons to Hitler, but Syrians have taken to social media to post heartfelt tributes to the German chancellor.
Alison Flood: Final Discworld novel and Stieg Larsson sequel poised for release (The Guardian)
Two very different heroines are poised to return to the nation's bookshelves: Tiffany Aching, teenage witch and protagonist of the late Terry Pratchett's final novel, and Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo dreamed up by the late Stieg Larsson.
Megan Carpentier: Kermit the Frog's new girlfriend is younger, thinner - and blander (The Guardian)
How could the veteran Muppet trade in someone as fabulous as Miss Piggy for boring new model Denise? In 2015, that's a move worthy of Ben Affleck.
Mark Morford: Ashley Madison and the howl of the wretched married male (SF Gate)
The fallout from the unabashedly silly Ashley Madison hack, the one that purportedly revealed the names and personal information of millions of lonely (or slimy, or heartless, or dishonest, perspective depending) married men who were lured like salivating moths to the site's flame of tepid sexual fantasy, is a lot of things, but it's surely one thing more than anything else: It's just terribly, fascinatingly sad.
Alison Flood: Anne Rice hits out at 'internet lynch mobs' attacking controversial books (The Guardian)
Interview With the Vampire author says attempts to 'take down' Kate Breslin's concentration camp romance with bad Amazon reviews amount to censorship.
Alison Flood: Philip Pullman attacks 'barbarian' downgrading of UK arts education (The Guardian)
The His Dark Materials author says shift away from these subjects in English baccalaureate threatens an area of 'incalculable worth.'
17 Inspiring Acts By The World's Most Hated People (Cracked)
We're not saying that these deeds should forgive the transgressions these individuals and groups has inflicted upon the populus. Not even close. All we're saying is that even the blind squirrel gets the nut sometimes, you know?
David Rose: 5 'Common Sense' Solutions That Make Everything Worse (Cracked)
Good intentions can easily go awry. And once they do, all they're good for is paving some particularly hellacious roads. We're not saying that the folks behind the following things set out to be bad people -- we're just saying that, given their track record, we'd sooner take a punch to the gut than their helping hand.
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
David Bruce's Smashwords Page
David Bruce's Blog
David Bruce's Lulu Storefront
David Bruce's Apple iBookstore
David Bruce has over 80 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
Michelle in AZ
From The Creator of 'Avery Ant'
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
The marine layer has returned.
Jeb Bush (R-Legacy), a scheduled guest on Stephen Colbert's first night hosting CBS' "The Late Show" on Tuesday, recently sent a letter to potential supporters raffling off a "VIP ticket" to the taping in exchange for a $3 donation to his presidential campaign - a move a CBS entertainment spokesman said wasn't a co-ordinated tie-in with the show.
So Colbert took things into his own hands: In a video posted Wednesday, he praised the contest as "a great idea."
"But here's the thing," he said. "No one from Jeb's campaign asked me if this was OK with me to raise money off my first show. Where's my cut of that sweet three bucks, Governor? Huh?
"Two can play at this contest," declared Colbert, unveiling his own raffle: For a $3 (or greater) contribution, you can enter for a chance to be his VIP guest to the premiere taping. The winner gets to bring a friend, and the package also includes flights and accommodations at a four-star hotel.
Huge Spikes In Visitation
Visitors heading to the Grand Canyon lately know they are going to get two things when they arrive: breathtaking views and long waits, whether it is to get into the national park itself or to find a parking spot inside. A few frustrated tourists have even turned around and left.
The crowds haven't just been coming to the Grand Canyon, where a sign ahead of the entrance gates warns of limited parking.
The throngs of tourists have been showing up in big numbers at other national parks, including Yellowstone in Wyoming, Yosemite in California and Zion in Utah, driven by good weather, cheap gas and marketing campaigns ahead of next year's National Park Service centennial.
With the busy Labor Day weekend still ahead, the Park Service already has recorded 5 million more visitors from this time last year. The result has been the very traffic congestion that many families and tourists alike hope to escape when they embark on trips to the parks.
Car-Melting Skyscraper Wins
A London skyscraper that made headlines for reflecting sunlight at an intensity that melted parts of a Jaguar car in the street below has been awarded the annual Carbuncle Cup that highlights perceived architectural horrors.
Officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, the 37-storey office tower in the City of London financial district was nicknamed the Walkie Talkie due to its curved shape before the car-melting incident in 2013 spawned a new moniker, the Walkie Scorchie.
Organized by Business Design magazine, the Carbuncle Cup is awarded by a panel of architecture critics who take into account comments sent in by readers. This year's prize went to the Walkie Scorchie by a unanimous decision of the judges.
One of them, Ike Ijeh, said City of London planners were as much to blame for approving what he described as "a gratuitous glass gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London" as the building's renowned Uruguayan architect, Rafael Vinoly.
Anticipating its relaunch with Trevor Noah as host later this month, Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" has added three new comics to its rotating cast of correspondents.
Ronny Chieng, who has spent the bulk of his comic career in Australia; Desi Lydic, who appeared in MTV's "Awkward"; and Roy Wood Jr., a stand-up comic who participated in NBC's "Last Comic Standing" and Comedy Central's "Laugh Riots" competition, are the new staff members.
Holdovers from the Jon Stewart era include Jordan Klepper, Hasan Minhaj, Jessica Williams, Lewis Black, John Hodgman, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Schaal.
Noah begins as host of the weeknight show on Sept. 28.
Sues Hasbro Over Toy Hamster
An anchor for Fox News is suing Hasbro for more than $5 million over a toy hamster that shares her name - and possibly even her resemblance.
Harris Faulkner sued Hasbro this week over its plastic Harris Faulkner hamster, sold as part of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company's popular Littlest Pet Shop line. She says the toy wrongfully appropriates her name and persona, harms her professional credibility as a journalist and is an insult.
Faulkner has been at Fox News for a decade. She hosts the daytime show "Outnumbered" and anchors a Sunday evening newscast.
Her lawsuit says that in addition to sharing her name, the toy bears a physical resemblance to Faulkner's traditional professional appearance, including its complexion, eye shape and eye makeup design.
The Harris Faulkner toy was introduced in 2014, according to the lawsuit, and was sold in a package as the pet hamster of a terrier named Benson Detwyler. Other toys in the popular line include animals named Pancakes Watkins, Puffball Petrovsky and Pepper Clark.
Sony Pictures Entertainment executives altered the script of its forthcoming movie "Concussion," about football-related brain trauma, to avoid antagonizing the National Football League, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Citing emails between Sony studio executives that were leaked by hackers last year, the Times said marketing plans for the movie were positioned to focus on the story of a whistle-blower, rather than a condemnation of the sport.
The movie, starring Will Smith as a pathologist who diagnosed a degenerative brain disease in U.S. football players, is due in movie theaters in December. A first trailer was released on Monday, and the movie is seen as a potential Oscar contender.
"Will (Smith) is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn't planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn't be," Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie, according to the New York Times report.
FBI Keeps Tabs
The annual Burning Man counterculture festival now taking place in a Nevada desert is known for attracting scantily clad revelers, bike lovers, artists, musicians and as it turns out, even attention from the FBI.
According to documents posted this week at MuckRock.com, the FBI monitored the event in 2010, finding that it carried risks associated with crowd control and illegal drugs.
The documents were released following a 2012 public records request by journalist Inkoo Kang. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the MuckRock.com report.
Burning Man, named for the burning of a wooden effigy that marks the climax of the festival of art and free expression, brings tens of thousands of people to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada and adds an estimated $35 million to the local economy each year.
It is not the first time the FBI has taken an interest in the cultural sphere. Decades ago, it investigated former Beatle John Lennon and Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes for their political views.
The head of Britain's national sperm bank urged men to prove their manhood and help ease a shortage after the center signed up just nine registered donors in the year since its creation.
"If I advertised saying 'Men, prove your worth, show me how good you are', then I would get hundreds of donors," Laura Witjens, the chief executive, told the Guardian newspaper.
"That's the way the Danish do it. They proudly say, this is the Viking invasion, exports from Denmark are beer, Lego and sperm. It's a source of pride."
She told the BBC that generally the bank got one registered donor from each 100 enquiries. An approved donor has to come to the clinic twice a week for up to four months and refrain from sex or masturbation for two days before each visit.
Donors receive 35 pounds ($54) per session from the National Sperm Bank, a joint project between the National Gamete Donation Trust and Birmingham Women's Hospital.
Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Aug. 24-30. Listings include the week's ranking and viewership.
1. "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 10.34 million.
2. "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.53 million.
3. "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 8.46 million.
4. "NCIS," CBS, 8.39 million.
5. "Fear the Walking Dead," AMC, 8.18 million.
6. Exhibition Football: Arizona vs. Oakland, NBC, 7.51 million.
7. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 7.25 million.
8. "Big Brother" (Sunday), CBS, 6.73 million.
9. "Big Brother" (Wednesday), CBS, 6.46 million.
10. "Big Brother" (Thursday), CBS, 6.37 million.
11. "Zoo," CBS, 6.18 million.
12. "Criminal Minds," CBS, 5.83 million.
13. "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 5.67 million.
14. "Mom," CBS, 5.65 million.
15. "Bachelor in Paradise," ABC, 5.58 million.
16. "Dateline NBC Mystery," NBC, 5.54 million.
17. "NFL Post-Game Show," Fox, 5.47 million.
18. "NFL Pre-Game Show," NBC, 5.43 million.
19. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 5.31 million.
20. "American Ninja Warrior," NBC, 5.07 million.
Dean Jones, whose boyish good looks and all-American manner made him Disney's favourite young actor for such lighthearted films as "That Darn Cat!" and "The Love Bug," died of Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles on Sept. 1. He was 84.
Jones' long association with The Walt Disney Co. began after he received an unexpected call from Walt Disney himself, who praised his work on the TV show "Ensign O'Toole," noting it had "some good closing sequences." Jones, himself a former Navy man, played the title role in the 1962 sitcom.
Jones puzzled over Disney's remark until it occurred to him that "Ensign O'Toole" preceded Disney's own Sunday night show on NBC, and he realized Disney probably only watched each episode's ending.
Two years later, Jones heard from Disney again, calling this time to offer him a role in "That Darn Cat!" opposite ingénue Hayley Mills. His FBI agent Zeke Kelso follows a crime-solving cat that leads him to a pair of bank robbers.
Released in 1965, it would the first of 10 Disney films Jones would make, most of them in the supernatural vein.
"The Love Bug" (1969) was the most successful of the genre, with Jones playing a struggling race-driver who acquires a Volkswagen that wins races for him. The Bug, named Herbie, has hidden human traits, and when it feels unappreciated it disappears. Jones must rescue Herbie from the hands of his nefarious rival and issue the car an apology before it wins the big race for him.
In "Monkeys, Go Home," Jones tried to teach four monkeys to pick grapes at a French vineyard he inherited. In "The Million Dollar Duck," he was a scientist with a duck that began laying golden eggs after being doused with radiation.
He worked regularly into his 70s, appearing often on TV and in films. His later credits included "St. John in Exile," ''Beethoven" and "Other People's Money."
In 1969, he was host of a TV variety show, "What's It All About, World?" But he said delivering jokes, stand-up comedy style, was not really his forte. "My bag is acting or getting into an amusing situation and then sharing my amusement," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I can sense a situation or a character much better than I can sense a line."
Dean Carroll Jones left his hometown of Decatur, Alabama, at 15, supporting himself by picking cotton and cutting timber until he landed a job as a singer in a New Orleans nightclub. When the club closed, he returned to Decatur to finish high school.
Jones married Mae Entwisle, a onetime Miss San Diego, in 1954, and the couple had two daughters, Carol and Deanna. He and his second wife, Lory, had a son, Michael.
Over the course of his career, he'd appear in 46 films and five Broadway shows. In 1995, Jones was honoured by his longtime employers with a spot in the Disney Legends Hall of Fame.
Jones is survived by Lory, his wife of 42 years; three children; 8 grandchildren; and 3 great-grandchildren.