Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wine for the dying, prayer discounts, and smoking human remains

Good Day World!

I’ve got a few interesting stories for you on this terrific Tuesday.

From a hospital that serves wine to terminally ill patients; a restaurant that gives discounts for praying; and a case where a burglar smoked human ashes; you’ll find these off-beat stories either fascinating or weird. Maybe both:

“A hospital in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand is to open a wine bar where terminally ill patients will be able to enjoy a "medically-supervised" glass or two with their families.

"Why should we refuse the charms of the soil to those at the end of their lives? Nothing justifies such an prohibition," the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital Center said in statement. (the rest of the story)



Diners get discount for praying at restaurant

The owner of a diner in North Carolina said she and her servers will often give customers a 15 percent discount for publicly praying before eating their meal.

Mary Haglund, owner of Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, said she's been giving the discount for four years, but the tradition made headlines last week after one customer posted her receipt on Facebook. (the rest of the story)


Alleged Alabama burglar smoked dead woman's ashes thinking they were drugs

Vietnam War veteran Phillip McMullen likely saw some bad things during his time in the service, but what he saw when returned to his Alabama home ranks right up there.

McMullen came back to his Citronelle residence after visiting some friends out of town and discovered that his home had been burglarized.

The gun safe at McMullen's house had been damaged, but it wasn't broken into. The same could not be said for the plastic box which held his deceased wife's ashes.

"They even took my wife's ashes off my headboard, strewed them around, looked like they tried to smoke some of them or something," McMullen told FOX10 News.

"I bet that was a nasty taste when they (did) that."
McMullen and his wife were married for 22 years and he says the violation makes him "want to fight again."

If the Mobile County Sheriff's Office is able to catch the crook, it's possible they will be charged with desecration of a grave.

"It's hard to put in words, it makes me want to fight again, and I don't like to fight," McMullen said. "I don't know if God will forgive them for what they've done or not." (source of article)

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Monday, August 4, 2014

Did ‘Edible Arrangements’ Support Hamas Through Donations?

Good Day World!

Urban legends, and rumors, are often interesting reads. There’s usually just enough truth in them to tweak our curiosity. Examples abound on the internet.

Today, I’m sharing one of those – shall we say rumors? – with you. It’s a recent story that will cause many Americans to pause before patronizing this business.

This story also serves as a backdrop for the war between Israel and Hamas.


Since at least as far back as 2012, rumors have circulated claiming that brothers Tariq and Kamran Farid, who founded Edible Arrangements International, are "devout Pakistani Muslims" who have, through their Tariq Farid Foundation, donated money to organizations linked with Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist movement engaged in armed resistance and terrorism against Israel.

Edible Arrangements International is a U.S.-based business that specializes in selling "fruit bouquets," fruit baskets designed like floral arrangements. As of 2014, the company was a 1,200-store chain with outlets in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, Oman, India and China.


The Anti-Defamation League (whose stated mission is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike") said of such rumors back in 2012 that:

We have received several such inquiries regarding recent allegations by Debbie Schlussel in an article critical of the owners of Edible Arrangements, which sells fruit baskets and the like. Schlussel claims that the owners of Edible Arrangements are funding Palestinian terror organizations, including Hamas, through their Farid Foundation.
In our judgment, Schlussel's allegations lack context and nuance and she does not offer any clear evidence to support them. Even if the Farid Foundation has provided funding for some of the American Muslim groups she references, we believe it is an unsupported stretch to conclude that the Foundation or Edible Arrangements is funding Hamas.


In June 2014 Islamic Relief WorldWide (IRW) was banned from operating in Israel due to that country's belief that IRW "funnels cash to Hamas":

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon [has] signed a decree banning Islamic Relief Worldwide from operating in Israel.

Israel believes IRW, which markets itself as a charitable agency that solicits donations from all over the world, funnels cash to Hamas. Ya’alon’s ban was decided upon after the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.

The organization has representatives worldwide, including Australia, the United States, and Britain, where it is headquartered. Some of their local branches in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria are run by Hamas operatives.

Ya'alon's decree makes it illegal for IRW to function anywhere in Israel, Judea, and Samaria. It will also be forbidden from transferring funds to any destination in Judea and Samaria.

“The IRW is another source of funds for Hamas, and we have no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel," Ya'alon said.

"This is another in a series of steps that we are taking against Hamas in Judea and Samaria and the pressure we are applying, the goal of which is to harm the organization’s leadership and rank-and-file as well as its civilian infrastructure. These serve as the foundation from which Hamas operates among the local population."


Farid Foundation makes significant contributions to Islamic causes and organizations, including the Farid Foundation Pakistan; the Salma K. Farid Academy; Islamic Circle of North America Relief; the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; the Wallingford Islamic Center; Masjid AI-Islam; and the Islamic Association of Southern Connecticut.


SNOPES isn’t really sure who’s telling the truth, and who’s lying. Read full article here.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Virtual Therapist Will See You Now


                                        Good Day World!

In Afghanistan, a new therapist is talking with soldiers. Her name is Ellie. She is the face of a computer program and she could be the key to identifying PTSD in America’s military.

Equipped with a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor, she nods at the right time, urges patients on with a well-timed “uh-huh,” and knows when to stop talking.

A study released earlier this month found that patients were more willing to open up to Ellie than to a human therapist, mostly because they felt like they were not being judged by the computer program.

Ellie isn’t designed to replace therapists. Instead, her program, called SimSensei, could be used as a screening tool for the military and hospitals.

Currently, it’s being tested by members of the National Guard in Afghanistan, but eventually it could be used by civilians suffering from everything from depression to cancer. Other technology, like the Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses, is also being tested by researchers to help treat PTSD.

 (Read the full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Saturday, August 2, 2014

About fist bumps: the new etiquette instead of shaking hands

U.S. President Obama fist bumps the cashier after paying for his order at Franklin Barbecue in Austin

Good Day World!

Have you ever met someone who refused to shake hands with you? If you have, were you offended?

Did they explain why they wouldn’t?

I expect to see less handshaking among people when they hear about a new study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The researchers found that fist bumps, where two people briefly press the top of their closed fists together, transferred about 90 percent less bacteria than handshakes. What a revelation!

A fist bump (also called dap, pound, fist pound, brofist, donsafe, spudding, fo' knucks, box, Bust, pound dogg, props, Bones,respect knuckles, bumping the rock, or knuckle crunching) is a gesture similar in meaning to a handshake or high five.

Fist bumping will probably take a while to catch on. Until it does you might want to check out some information on handshaking etiquette that’s in the upper right hand corner of this page under “Dave at Learnist” – Handshake Hack: Origins, Etiquette, Secrets.


Fist bumping first appeared in America in the 1940s, as biker gangs were becoming popular in southwestern areas of the United States.

Motorcyclists sitting next to each other at traffic lights would be unable to perform a proper handshake, due to riding stance, so a quick bump of closed fists was an easier way to greet a fellow rider at a stop.

The "fist bump" or "pound" can easily be traced as far back as the late 1800s and early 1900s to the boxer's handshake as a way to greet when hands are gloved. via Wikipedia

I’ve never been a big hand-shaker, but not because of fear of getting bad bacteria. I’m just not a touchy, feelie kind of guy. I seldom hug anyone, with the exception of my wife, Shirley. So, if fist bumps become the new greeting etiquette…I’m good with that.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, August 1, 2014

A case of the ‘runs’ led to one of Raiders of the Lost Ark's most memorable scenes

I turned to Snopes.com today to verify the following urban legend.

Surprisingly, it’s true.

In the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, one particular scene consistently brings the house down: Indiana Jones, having survived an elaborate chase through a casbah, is confronted by an Arab swordsman whipping through a flashy routine with a scimitar.

Indy initially squares off against the deadly swordsman bearing only his trademark whip in his hands; then with a look of infinite fatigue and disgust, he casually pulls out his revolver and blows the bad guy away as seen in the video below:

That bit of unexpected humor flowed not from the pen of a screenwriter but from the desperation of Harrison Ford. His desire to spend less time on this scene and more in a washroom led to an actor-inspired script change that was ultimately worked into the film. (Read the full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Court Protects Gun Owners From Common Sense

Good Day World!

Today I’m sharing this outstanding editorial because it highlights the realities of living in a gun-crazy state – Florida.

From the state that brought us the Trayvon Martin trial, we now have a new gun law.

But it’s not the kind you’d think, like a bill to do away with “shoot first, ask questions later”  aka "Stand-your-ground" law.

No. The madness continues. Once again common sense is trumped by the gun culture in Florida.

Florida is considered "accommodating" to guns, by national standards. This opinion piece addresses that fact.

By Francis Wilkinson

“U.S. federal courts have issued two noteworthy rulings on guns. One is constitutionally significant: It overturns the District of Columbia's ban on carrying handguns outside the home, while showcasing the gun-rights movement's aggressive legal and political efforts to eliminate virtually all regulation.

It may go all the way to the Supreme Court, where the justices could potentially use it to establish ground rules for concealed and open carry.

The other case has all the gravity of a Daffy Duck cartoon. It exposes an insular gun culture, addled by paranoia and determined to shut itself off from even the most anodyne expressions of common sense.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued a split ruling reversing a federal court decision and upholding Florida's "gun gag" law, which prohibits -- sort of -- physicians from inquiring whether a patient has firearms in the home.

The legislation is such a sloppy mess that it's impossible to tell exactly what it does and doesn't forbid. Now, two judges on the appeals panel have added to the legal buffoonery.

"The Act seeks to protect patients’ privacy by restricting irrelevant inquiry and record-keeping by physicians regarding firearms," the ruling states.

OK. Then it gets weird: "It is no exaggeration to state that a patient may be in some cases essentially at the mercy of his or her physician."

In effect, the court ruled that when gun-owning adults are asked about firearm ownership by the race of superhumans known as doctors, they are powerless to resist.

Really, no exaggeration.

Doctors are expected to ask about your sex life, your relationship to illicit substances and how often you go to the bathroom. But for those delicate Floridians who own guns, being asked if they keep firearms in a gun locker is more trauma than they can bear. (And for those patients so seriously ill that a doctor holds the key to "mercy," firearms protocol is no doubt top of mind.)

The case stemmed from anecdotes of gun owners taking umbrage at routine questions, including the rote variety that appear on standard questionnaires issued by some physician offices. The emotional distress was so intense that the National Rifle Association begged the Florida legislature to intervene.

Why do these nosy docbots want to know about firearm ownership, anyway? For the same reason they ask about drug and alcohol use and the storage of poisons in homes with small children: They prefer living patients to dead ones.

And 30,000 times a year in the U.S., a firearm doesn't just reduce a patient's life expectancy, it eliminates it. Earlier this month, a Florida three-year-old shot herself in the stomach with a loaded, unsecured gun in her home.

Last month, a 15-year-old Florida boy died of a gunshot wound, apparently after playing with a similarly "accessible" gun. ("Child kills self with irresponsible parent's gun" is a story that never gets old in Florida.)

As a lengthy dissent, written by a flabbergasted Justice Charles Wilson, stated: "A vivid imagination is not required to think of the innumerable adverse health consequences that go along with unsafe firearm ownership."

Even Florida legislators, who seem to specialize in harebrained gun laws, appeared to grasp that logic. They added a condition to the law:

Doctors could continue asking about firearm ownership in cases in which such a question was "relevant" to a patient's care. When is it relevant? No one, least of all Florida legislators or doctors, appears to know.

Physicians challenged the law on grounds that it's both unconstitutionally vague and a blatant, four-alarm abridgment of free speech (let alone professional responsibilities).

But put aside the subjugation of the First Amendment to the Second, and other constitutional issues. How did a modest, discrete effort to limit morbidity and mortality ever inspire such an overblown reaction in the first place?

If you live in fear of being questioned about your conduct, or readily confuse common sense with condescension, you might be suffering from insecurities associated with dubious public policy positions. See your doctor.”

You can contact the writer, Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net. This article originally ran in Forbes.

Time for me to walk on down the road….

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lawsuit against Obama: Ruminations on Republicians & Democrats

Good Day World!

Opening Act:

A cry comes down the corridors of Congress;

“The sky is falling…the sky is falling!

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “Boehner is planning to impeach the president.”

The GOP base meanwhile is loving all the impeachment talk (via Sarah Palin, Allen West, Drudge, and the rhetoric from some sitting House members).

Another example of pathetic politics. Both parties engage in lies and rhetoric.

House Speaker, John Boehner, has used the threat of impeachment to galvanize conservative enthusiasm for the midterm elections and get them to open their wallets and donate to the cause.

Pelosi’s tactic was to motivate the liberal base by parroting “The president is going to be impeached. Help him out! Contribute money” 

The cynical game took on new legs Wednesday when the House voted to sue Obama for supposedly exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority - 225 to 201.

Republicans said the legal action, focusing on Obama's implementation of his prized health care overhaul, was designed to prevent a further presidential power grab and his deciding unilaterally how to enforce laws.

Democrats say the lawsuit will go nowhere. It was, they claim, designed only to encourage conservatives to vote in this November's congressional elections.

In an AP article, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. said: "The lawsuit is a drumbeat pushing members of the Republican Party to impeachment."

Because the Democrats are already using that argument to mine campaign contributions, the game goes on. "The GOP is chomping at the bit to impeach the president," Democratic staffers wrote. A common email theme: "We've got to get the president's back."

Meanwhile, this latest demonstration of pathetic politics continues to rankle the American public. It means another partisan battle when they should be serving the nation by passing laws and getting important things done.

Researchers know why more Americans are choosing not to vote.

But it doesn’t take a degree in political science to know why. People are fed up with politicians and their lies. They’re electing not to participate in a corrupt and partisan system because they know it isn’t working.


Time for me to walk on down the road….



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

‘Mysterious Woman in Black’ is a U.S. Army veteran

Woman in black passes through Hillsboro

Good Day World!

PTSD manifests itself in many, often disturbing, ways.

People who suffer from PTSD are often angry and they lash out at the world.

But not always.

Sometimes, like in the case of the “Mysterious Woman in Black” they suffer silently and find themselves on “missions” others don’t understand. Like the character Forrest Gump, she’s walking through states and picking up followers.

She has been dubbed the "Woman in Black," by TV stations, police and followers on the Web, including those on a Facebook page where she has been tracked on a nearly 500-mile journey with a black bag and walking stick in hand that has taken her from Ranger, Georgia, to Athens, Ohio, since July 18.

Raymond Poles told Reuters he is the woman's brother, identifying her as Elizabeth Poles, 56, a U.S. Army veteran, mother of two children and a widow from Motts, Alabama. Elizabeth Poles had been receiving treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals to deal with the deaths of her husband in 2008 and her father in 2009, he said.

Her brother said she was doing better, but suddenly took a turn for the worst in early July, and began disappearing for days at a time. Then one day she was gone.

Her pilgrimage was soon noticed by curious passer-byes, who would stop and ask if she needed help. She politely turned them down according to reports. At other times, she wouldn’t speak at all. She just kept walking.

While there are no people walking behind her, like in the Forrest Gump movie, she is being followed by thousands of people across the country. Most don’t know her story.

As someone who suffers from PTSD (combat Vietnam veteran), my heart goes out to her. I hope she finds what she’s looking for…which no doubt would be peace.

Time for me to walk on down the road…



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Tribute to Drive-in Movies: most are gone, but not forgotten

Good Day World!

I’m feeling pretty nostalgic today.

Growing up, one of my favorite sources of entertainment was going to the drive-In movies. In the 50s when I was a kid my whole family would go to the drive-in every Friday night – which was payday for my Dad. My brother, sisters, and I would watch the movie from the playground most of the time.

When high school rolled around, the drive-ins took on an even more entertaining aspect, necking with your girlfriend and steaming up the car windows. I knew some guys who had vans, the ultimate make-out vehicle. They’d back up to the screen and open the rear doors.

When my wife and I were dating we went to a drive-in theatre every weekend. Those were great times in the early 70s.

Now most of the drive-ins are gone.

The lights haven’t completely gone out on all our open-air theaters: there are 357 still-operating drive-ins in America (from a peak of 4,063 in 1958).

But they are last remnants of an industry whose decline — like Ernest Hemingway's famous description of a bankruptcy — came gradually, then suddenly. Many more sit abandoned and neglected.

Here’s one example:

Lufkin, Texas
Opened: unknown
Closed: unknown
Drive-ins represent a carefree time straight out of American Graffiti. Now, many of them just attract American graffiti. The long-defunct Redland, which ran adult movies in its final days, is a handsome reminder of a once-thriving business, with its remaining neon tubing seemingly just a flick of a switch away from beautifying the night sky again.

A salvage yard now sits behind the so-called “screen tower” (on which the screen was mounted). And, yes, that’s a home, also abandoned, built onto the bottom of the tower. Note too, the extensions added on both sides of the tower to accommodate the various widescreen formats (like Cinemascope) that were popular in the 1950s. Go to source for more examples.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Controversial tweet, tortoise springs alligator from zoo, and smelling healthy farts

Good Day World!

I hope your Monday is going well. I have a few articles that may tweak your interest. Enjoy!

The tweet wasn’t sweet so airline tells man to delete

A Minnesota man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

Watson told TV broadcaster KARE in Minneapolis on Wednesday that after he boarded, an announcement came over the plane asking his family to exit the aircraft. Once at the gate, the agent said that unless the tweet was deleted, police would be called and the family would not be allowed back onboard.


Alligator escapes from zoo with help from a tortoise

An owner of a zoo in Michigan's Upper Peninsula says a 12-inch alligator has escaped, possibly with some help from a tortoise.

TV stations WWTV-WWUP and WPBN-WTOM and MLive.com report the alligator named Carlos got out of an enclosure over the weekend at the GarLyn Zoo near Naubinway. He was spotted by people nearby, who called police, but he wasn't caught.

Gary Moore, who runs the zoo in Mackinac County with his wife, says he suspects the alligator slipped under a fence. Moore says a large tortoise that walks in the area, wearing away dirt, likely was an inadvertent accomplice in Carlos' getaway.

Study 'Says' Sniffing Farts Is Good For You, But Something Doesn't Smell Right

Forget "silent but deadly." How about "rank but restorative"?Fart

Media sites recently reported news that delighted flatulence lovers: Scientists had published a study that said smelling farts is good for you. The only problem was, reports on the study kinda ... stunk.

Here's what happened.

Researchers at the University of Exeter said the hydrogen sulfide that we emit when we cut the cheese protects mitochondria, which are the cell's "power producers." Dr. Mark Wood, a researcher at Exeter, explained that hydrogen sulfide is the stinky component of passing gas "and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases."

Somehow that was taken to mean that smelling farts could ward off harmful diseases.

But read the following before you start pounding down dried apricots and baked beans: The Guardian pointed out that the study never mentions that smelling your farts is healthy. And NBC News reinforced the skepticism.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wonder Woman gets a new costume in upcoming film

Good Day World!

Wonder Woman is getting another do-over.

Remember when she looked like the illustration on the right? (1941 DC Comics). Over the decades there’s been various modifications to her costume.

DC's super heroine will be starring in the upcoming film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

Wonder Woman will be portrayed by the talented actress Gal Gadot. Her costume (photo left) is a far cry from the original one. It’s certainly isn’t as colorful, but that’s because she’s more of a bad-ass than ever!

View image on TwitterWonder Woman was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston.

The character first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941, and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942.

She’s been a hit ever since.

The character is a warriorprincess of the Amazons (based on the Amazons of Greek mythology) and is known in her homeland as Princess Diana of Themyscira.

She possesses an arsenal of weapons, including the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, a tiara which serves as a projectile, and, in some stories, an invisible airplane.

Remember the 1975–1979 Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter? There was also two animated series, the Super Friends and Justice League. Since Carter's television series, studios struggled to introduce a new live-action Wonder Woman to audiences.

I think they found a winner in Israeli actress Gal Godot. The film is slated to come out in 2016, so we’ll have to wait for awhile to judge just how cool her costume is, and how effectively she portrays DC’s most famous heroine.

Time for me to walk on down the road…


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