Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Curses! The mother of all maledictions surfaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. Plus, Le Scandale des Flip-Flops flummoxes French flics.

 Please correctly pronounce what this Frenchman has on his feet. They are “fleep-flopes!” Long O on “flops”, s’il vous plait.

Let me right off the bat acknowledge that the situation in Oakland, CA, was anything but funny. A dance party had been held in what was evidently a firetrap of a warehouses. Thirty-six people lost their lives in an ensuing fire. Derek Almena, the impresario — if you can call him that — who’d arranged the party was brought up on trial. There was a plea deal. It appears he will be able to remain out of jail.


But that didn’t for an instant quell the rage of one grief-stricken parent who unloaded on Almena in court in a tirade that ought to go down as a classic in the history of furious courtroom maledictions. She barraged him with such world-class rage, hate, and a thirst for revenge that it ought to serve as a future model to anyone who chooses to level a curse on a malefactor. Reports the San José Mercury-News:

At one point during Monday’s sentencing hearing, the mother of Chelsea Faith Dolan, who died in the Dec. 2, 2016, fire, cursed Almena.


“May you Derick Almena take on the visions that I see each day and feel the pain of my nightmares,” Colleen Dolan said after initially struggling to speak. “My hope is that in giving these visions to you I may be free. I curse you with the intense burning heat and flames that scorch all the hair from your body and that peel the skin away from your face. I curse you with the choking smoke saturating your lungs until they bubble and blister and foam oozes from your mouth and nose. I curse you with the pain in the bones and muscles that comes from clenching in fear as you face the fury of a firestorm coming to consume you.” 

Those seeking to curse their enemies would do well to study Ms. Dolan’s speech as an example of how detailed, graphic, and vengeful a proper curse can be. After that, any curse that consists of dropping a mere F-bomb will fade into insignificance.


Flip-flops? Mais, non!

This is a police matter!


We all know that the French care very much about how you pronounce their language. Now it turns out that they care equally about what’s on your feet when you exercise.


See, the French last year had been pretty much in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But exceptions could be made. One of them was, you could leave the house to get in a bit of exercise, or “physical activity.” There were caveats of course. You had to be within a kilometer of your home. And you could only venture out for an hour. But hey, it’s a chance to raise your heartbeat a bit, send a bit of blood coursing through your veins, and feel a bit of sun on your face for a change. 


So why not try to cure that cabin fever?


Here’s why:


If your feet are not properly attired in athletic shoes you could be in big trouble with the cops, or les flics, as they’re sometimes called in France. (And it's pronounced, "lays fleeks.")


Enter a young guy named Laurick, who last year left his home for what he believed a was a perfectly legal reason — “physical activity.” Within a matter of minutes, les flics busted him and socked him with a fine of 135 Euros — very roughly $150. Since then, they’ve tacked on an addition thirty-one Euros in procedural costs. And his case may now go before a judge.


The problem? He was wearing flip-flops instead of proper sneakers. Quel horreur!


“The situation is so grotesque it’s funny,” fumed Laurick’s father, Alain. He is now in the process of trying to prove that “physical activity” can  be defined more broadly that the police interpretation of the law, which limits activity to “doing sports.”


Or perhaps walking around in flip flops is a sport. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Where do women belong? Burger King and the British rag The Mail, learn some painful lessons. Is Tucker Carlson next?


Umm, before you blow your top, find out what the rest of the ad says

Semi-literacy isn’t limited to knuckle-dragging Trumpsters. It would seem that even some of us progressives can’t read more than five words before our brains turn to mush.


A case in point: While trying to support women chefs in their careers, the Burger King Foundation tweeted out a consciousness-raising ad on International Women’s Day. It was headlined, “Women belong in the kitchen.” Those who were competent to read more than the five-word headline without developing a migraine or calling for their smelling salts would have discovered that the copy went on to say, “Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there’s a professional kitchen, women belong here.”


And it then went on to say, “But can you guess who’s heading those kitchens these days? Exactly. Only 24% of chef positions in America are occupied by women. Want to talk head chefs? The number drops to fewer than 7%.”


The ad went on to talk about a “commitment from one of the biggest restaurants in the world to help aspiring female chefs” with scholarships, “Because every woman with a passion deserves the choice to advance, whether it’s in culinary school, a Burger King Kitchen, or any other kitchen in the world.”


I say hurrah! But some of my fellow progressives, who evidently develop muscle cramps in their lips after struggling through a five-word headline in big type, had such furious meltdowns that Burger King folded, apologized, and declared that the tweet was “wrong.”


So I guess there is no place for women chefs after all, eh Burger King?


Now the advertising community is getting its knickers in a twist, cautioning against what boils down to the use of clever attention-getting headlines. They may have discovered, alas, that while idiots generally makes more noise on the right, ultimately the entire human race is a race of nincompoops.


Freedom to distress. My first four grownup jobs involved reporting for newspapers —a chain of suburban weeklies, a small town daily, a big city daily, and the weeklies again, that last time as their editor — before deciding that I needed to make a living. That led me to a frivolous but much-better-paid life in advertising. However, I’ve always strongly favored unfettered freedom of the press. Leave it to the Brits to sour me on my own cause.


I’m talking about the distress inflicted on Meghan Markle — and no, this is not about the Oprah interview. Well before that, the Mail On Sunday (that’s the name of a British tabloid) published a private letter Meghan wrote to her father. And then milked, and milked, and milked the contents of the letter and commentary about it to sell newspapers. 


Now the judge in a British High Court (whatever that is) has ordered the Mother Of All Confessions. It’s a statement that The Mail On Sunday infringed Meghan Markle’s copyright on a letter than the court said was, “personal and private”. The statement must appear on the front page. And on page 3, “for a period of one week.” 


Wait, there’s more! The online version of the newspaper must also publish the statement for a week, with a link to the court’s “full judgment.”


The judge’s ruling in part said:

"The defendant devoted a very considerable amount of space to the infringing articles, which it continued to publish for over two years."


"It has devoted a very considerable number of further column inches, and many hundreds if not thousands of words, to coverage of earlier stages of this litigation and commentary upon them.


"The wording sought is modest by comparison and factual in nature."

To which I might add, let’s remember what freedom of the press is for. It’s for conveying information and opinions in pursuit of a civil society and good government. It’s not for prying into and often ruining private lives so you can up your circulation and charge more for your advertising.


A pregnant thought for Tucker Carlson. Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. reports on Tucker Carlson’s Fox-y outrage machine all but bursting into flames about a report concerning the Air Force and pregnant women in its ranks.


“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars,” fumes Carlson. “It’s a mockery of the U.S. Military.” And he blames it on Joe Biden. 


Of course he does. Even though it’s a lie.


No More Mister Nice Blog points out that the “maternity flight suits” that are getting Tucker’s knickers in a twist were all announced under the Trump administration. And “VileWhig,” who commented on the No More Mister post added, “Anyone who thinks flight suits are for dropping into enemy territory doesn’t know the difference between flight crews and paratroopers.”


Another comment, from “brucej” noted that the change applied to remotely piloted aircrew, missile operations duty crews,” which are desk jobs.


“We’re back into the days of poutrage over tan suits, Dijon mustard and arugla lettuce again, aren’t we,” asks brucej.


Ya think? Wait, I’ll ask Mr. Potato Head.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Trump hacked! Pizza Guy smacked! Big bank rats out wreckers and rioters! So who says there’s nothing but bad news these days?

 What do you get when you combine a story about an irate Pizza CEO with one about a bank ratting out its customers?


I’m writing this on Thursday, March 4th. This is the day Q-Anoners believe that He is risen — “He” being Donald Trump, of course.


Today, they say, He will somehow transmogrify from a bitter presidential has-been in Margo Fargo or Wherever-the-hell-it's-called in Florida, to a bitter political has-been who will be miraculously transported to Washington D.C. and reinstalled as President of the United States while Joe Biden walks the plank.


I suspect this is scheduled for very late in the day, and might even get, umm, temporarily postponed. Since we will likely have a rather long wait for the sacred moment, during which your stomach may begin to rumble, here are a few tidbits to nibble on in the interim.


Trump account gets painful thump

in 70-gigabite data dump!


It happened to Gab. That’s a social media platform where right-wing loonies are finding a haven, now that they’ve been effectively rousted from Twitter and Facebook. A massive 70 gigabites of data — 70 gigs! — including user data, private posts, secret messages, profiles, passwords, the whole ball of wax got, umm, copied from Gab’s inner innards and handed over to something called Distribute Denial of Secrets, the heir-apparent to WikiLeaks.


Trump signed up for a Gab account after he was suspended from Twitter back in January.


I found this news at an online publication called Coindesk which usually concerns itself with techno-financial news about Bitcoin and Ethereum and other “digital currencies.” But I guess this story was too good for reporter Jamie Crawley to pass up. Including this tidbit:


“Data of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s account is included in the data hoard, according to and archived post by [Gab] CEO Andrew Torba. (WARNING: Contains offensive language.)” 


You wouldn’t want to be offended by Torba’s language, which concerns what appears to me to be an unflattering reference to transsexuals, so out of tender concern for your sensibilities, I won’t give you this link.


Pizza Pie King cruelly crushed

(he sez) by marauding Mad man


Before I lay this one out, allow me to express my personal ire at the way people are naming advertising agencies these days. Back when I drifted from newspaper city rooms (as news rooms were then called) to ad agencies, it was pretty easy to know who was running the candy store. Ogilvy was run by a guy named David Ogilvy. Burnett was run by a guy named Leo Burnett. Batten Barton Durstine and Osborne was…well, you get the idea.


But now? Evidently the more opaquely smartass an ad agency name is, the better. There is, or was, one called Razorfish. And no, there’s no Mr. or Ms. Razorfish. In London there’s Mad Dogs and Englishman. And now there’s an ad agency somewhere in the U.S.A. called Laundry Service. (Get it, get it, nudge nudge? I don’t.)


Anyway, Laundry Service is or was the ad agency for the Papa John’s Pizza chain. The founder of Papa John’s was a dude named John Schnatter, who had a possibly racist meltdown (ya think?) over NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem. 


The Chicago Tribune reported back in 2017 that Schnater blamed puny pizza sales on the kneeling NFL players. (Papa John’s was a major advertiser of NFL games). The protests “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” the Trib had Schnatter ranting.


Next thing you know, Schnatter gets booted (or “resigns” take your pick) from the company he founded. Now he’s suing Laundry Service, claiming, in essence that they plotted against him. In a complaint that is either completely ridiculous, or living proof that truth is stranger than paranoia, Schnatter alleges that Laundry Service employees came up with some kind of malicious plan for Schnatter “to have an hourlong live interview with a hostile media personality and prompt Mr. Schnatter to make damaging statements which need ‘to be viral.’”


This comes from Ad Age (sometimes the best news is in industry trade journals.) Ad Age reports in part:


Laundry Service immediately began to discuss how Mr. Schnatter’s statements on the call could be used against him to damage his image so ‘he gets fucking sent out to pasture on this shit’ (in Stein’s words),” the complaint reads.




“The chilling details from this taped conversation make clear the intent of Laundry Service to destroy my reputation, as well as the Papa John’s brand, harming our employees and franchisees in the process,” Schnatter said in the statement. 

Because, of course, that’s exactly what advertising agencies clients hire them to do.There’s more, and I think the Ad Age pay wall will let you past once or twice, if you are intelligent enough to peruse the rest of this tale. 

Got feds combing through your dirty underwear? Thank the bank.

Back to Coindesk again, which ran an article about Bank of America with a “trigger warning” that, “This column has something nice to say about Tucker Carlson.”


Seems that the motherTucker broke a story saying that since the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill, the Bank of America has been “helping federal investigators search for extremists by combing through its transaction records.”


So, Insurrection Dude, if you were in Washington D.C. on January 5th and 6th and whipped out your B of A credit card, paid for a hotel or Air BnB reservation, “bought weapons anything else” (including T-shirts) from a “weapons-related merchant” between January 7th and January 20th, or made “airline-related purchases” after January 6th not only to Washington but to anywhere from Omaha to Thailand….you are so screwed!


For details on how you can’t even get away with a little bitty thing like smashing down the Capitol doors and trying to lynch your congressman, see the Coindesk article here.