Firefighters burn down careers with sweet, sweet pornography

Firefighters sleep together in the same room, eat and risk their lives together. Getting your ya-yas out for all the world to see together? Well, that’s not a part of the job. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, a pair of firefighters from Akron, Ohio may have burnt down their careers by making a pornographic video on city property.

Lt. Art Dean and Provisional Lt. Deann Eller were hired by the Akron Fire Department on the same day in the fall of 2000. For 18 years, they served their community with diligence and honor—a fact that’s reflected in their work jackets. According to their performance reports, Eller rarely missed a day of work and always displayed a strong work ethic. The same can be said for Dean. Over the years, their careers saw them separated to work at different fire halls in the city. But the time that they spent together allowed for the kindling of a hot personal relationship that may have ended up burning them both.

Opportunities for firefighting puns are few and far between. Let me have this.

After receiving an anonymous tip, City of Akron officials launched an investigation whether the city’s next fiscal year should include a larger budget allotment for cleaning supplies: it’s alleged that the Dean and Eller were filming pornography in the basement of one of the city’s fire halls. Apparently at least one of the videos, which were filmed in a readily identifiable gym located in an Akron fire station, features Eller, working out in the nude. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Spinal Tap - Stonehenge

Stonehenge has been stuck in my head like an ice pick during every summer solstice for as far back as I can remember. I'm a day late with it, but now my pain/joy is yours. Read the rest

Mental health of black people harmed by police murders of unarmed black people, says medical research

A report published in The Lancet by a team of medical researchers shows that when cops in the United States murder unarmed black people, it messes with the mental health of black people who live nearby. Read the rest

Italy’s Matteo Salvini is back on his racist bullshit again

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is what you’d call a renaissance bigot: He’s equally comfortable refusing safe harbor to migrants in desperate need of medical care as he is whipping off statements about the left wanting to keep migrants in his country to use as slave labor. Looking for ways to push a cultural minority out of his country? He’s all over that shit, too. Earlier this week, Salvini said that he would order a census of the Roma people currently living in Italy and expel those without residence permits. When asked about naturalized Roma residing in Italy, he answered, classy fucker that he is “...and Italian Roma? Unfortunately, we have to keep them.”

Originating in South Asia, the Roma, migrated to Europe hundreds of years ago. While some have integrated into the societies where they live, most live a nomadic lifestyle and keep their own customs. Having suffered generations of brutal discrimination, these itinerant communities tend to shun the communities and cities that they live near, in favor of keeping themselves to themselves, for safety’s sake. This preference towards exclusivist living in the name of safety has led to many ugly stereotypes over the years: that Roma are all criminals, don’t pay taxes, and are a plague on a productive society. Such false claims were used by the Nazis as an excuse to herd Roma into concentration camps. These same excuses have been used more recently to create areas of segregation where Roma are permitted to set up camp – often far from essential services such as schools and medical aid. Read the rest

Fight against Ebola continues in high security African lab

With all of the horrible things happening in America right now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the news and forget that there are other, equally terrible things happening elsewhere. Take Ebola, for example: it’s still a thing! Fortunately, it’s a thing being taken very seriously by very serious men and women at a research facility in the Central African country of Gabon.

According to AFP, an elite group of scientists staffing a heavily fortified level P4 isolation laboratory are working themselves raw trying to find a way to stop the deadly hemorrhagic fever-inducing disease in its tracks. Security at the facility is tight: only four people – three researchers and a technician – are allowed into the lab. The lab is part of a larger research facility called the Franceville International Centre for Medical Research (CIRMF).

From AFP:

Founded in 1979 by Gabon's late president Omar Bongo Ondimba to study national fertility rates, the CIRMF moved on to AIDS, malaria, cancer, viral diseases and the neglected tropical maladies that affect a billion people around the world, according to the WHO.

The centre is financed by the Gabonese state, whose main wealth is derived from oil exports, and gets help from France.

In all, 150 people work for the CIRMF and live on the huge premises. Its reputation draws scientists, students and apprentices from Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as Africa.

Read the rest

Robert Plant has a whole lotta love for eight-year old drummer

Remember that kickass eight-year old drummer that we fell in love with earlier this month? Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin (his last few solo albums have been epic, too) was treated to her performance of John Boham’s bits of Good Times Bad Times. His amusement and surprise at the high level of prowess evident in her playing is impossible to hide. Read the rest

1,500 pounds of dynamite make quick work of these cooling towers

Watching the graceful fall of these cooling towers in Jacksonville, Florida offers a momentary reprieve from the fall of western civilization. Read the rest

Russia buffs strategic Baltic nuclear bunker

As President Trump continues his campaign to piss off anyone who’s not a Nazi or the leader of an oppressive dictatorship, CNN is reporting that Russia may have dropped some serious coin to modernize a strategically-placed nuclear weapons storage facility. The facility is located in Kaliningrad – a wee bit of Russia all jammed up between Poland and the Baltics.

From CNN:

On Monday, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) published aerial photographs that the group says show the facility in the Baltic outpost has been under major renovation since 2016.

FAS said the images document refurbishments at the site back in 2016, when one of three underground bunkers at the location was excavated and deepened before it appeared to have been covered over in recent months, "presumably to return (to) operational status soon."

Now, here’s the fun part. Despite the fact that the bunker is designed for the secure storage and deployment of nuclear weapons for use by the Russian Air Force and Naval dual-capable forces, there’s no knowing whether it has ever stored nuclear weapons in the past or whether it will do so in the future: just because a military installation comes packing mission capabilities doesn’t mean that it has to use them. It’s the world’s shittiest shell game!

Even without the atomic weapons being packed into the Kaliningrad bunker, the joint still serves a purpose. The installation is one of the most westerly located in Russia. Upgrading it, in a manner that’s observable via areal photography or satellite imagery, provides an unspoken political message: The Russia that’s currently hosting the World Cup is the same one that invaded Ukraine in 2014, vandalized Georgia in 2008 and continues to giddily weaponize the baltic region, prompting a tactical response from NATO. Read the rest

There could be as many as 7000 tigers living in American backyards

If school shootings, the former leader of the free world's alienation of long-time allies in favor of getting cozy with dictators, or the systematic destruction of the environment and the norms of human decency aren't enough to keep you awake at night, this ought to do it: America may have a tiger problem. In many states, no one has a clue of how many tigers are being kept as pets or in private animal sanctuaries.

From the BBC:

Taj was a four-month-old tiger cub when purchased at a Texas truck stop by the driver of an 18-wheeler lorry. But after Taj began tearing up the truck's cab, the driver contacted Austin Zoo to get the animal off his hands. The zoo now looks after the fully grown 17-year-old Bengal tiger male.

Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates. That's nearly double the estimated 3,890 tigers still prowling in the wild around the world.

Tigers. Being sold at truck stops.

To be fair, given the number of calories, sugar and sodium in a single 52-ounce refill of Coca Cola available at any Flying J travel center, an apex predator is pretty far down the list of dangerous things you can buy at a truck stop these days.

According to the BBC, the biggest problem going, where tigers in America are concerned, isn't that no one has a bead on how many are being kept as pets. Read the rest

Microsoft employees pissed over company's connection to ICE

Back in January, Microsoft announced that they were "proud" to support ICE. Honestly, what company wouldn't be? A U.S. federal contract, no matter how large your coffers and corporate reach might be, is a good get, due both to the amount of American lucre you'll pocket and the visuals that come from being trusted by one of the most powerful countries in the world to meet their cloud computing needs.

But hey: it isn't January anymore and Microsoft in June, 2018 is looking a little bit like IBM back in the 1930s.

Under the Trump Administration's direction, ICE and other Homeland Security entities have been busy breaking up families, emotionally scarring thousands of innocent kids, and driving their anguished caretakers into cages, or worse, to suicide. That Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services are helping such villainy along, in any capacity, might be good in the short-term, for the company's bottom line, but the optics are shit. More than this, the company's association with ICE is raising the hackles of some of their their most important assets: not their shareholders or board, but their employees.

According to Gizmodo, a number of Microsoft employees, who prefer to remain anonymous in the interest of protecting their careers, have stepped forward to report that the computer technology company's relationship with ICE has led to growing dissent among the company's workforce. When Giz questioned Microsoft's PR team on the matter, the response was a bit wishy-washy:

From Gizmodo:

Microsoft condemned family separation by ICE in a statement to Gizmodo but declined to specify if specific tools within Azure Government, like Face API—facial recognition software—were in use by the agency.

Read the rest

Officer in charge of lost grenades fails his way into cushy new gig

Hey, remember last month when that group of United States Air Force personnel lost a box of grenades? It apparently fell off the back of a vehicle on a public road while the Airmen responsible for the grenades were being transported between one site and another. These are the guys that are responsible for protecting the nation's nuclear weapons sites. Everything's fine! Did I mention that shortly after, it was discovered that a M240 machine gun was discovered to be missing from the same unit's inventory! That's fine too! What makes it fine is that the Air Force relieved the officer responsible for overseeing the unit responsible for all of the missing military swag, Colonel Jason Beers, of his duties. They also outright fired Chief Master Sgt. Nikki Drago--she was the superintendent in charge of the unit at the time that the weapons went missing. When there's a mess, those responsible either have to clean it up, or suffer for it.

Now for the kicker. After Col. Beers was shitcanned, he failed his way right into a cushy new position.

From Task & Purpose:

Col. Jason Beers has been assigned as chief of the installations division at AFSOC headquarters, said AFSOC spokeswoman Capt. Amanda Farr. His job will include managing funding for security forces and civil engineers and implanting policy for the installations division.

When asked why Beers is taking on this new post after being relieved of command, Farr replied: “We are fully confident in the colonel’s ability to manage our security forces and civil engineer programs for the command.”

Oy. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Sean Rowe - Old Black Dodge

Sean Rowe travels under the radar of many a music aficionado. This is a damn shame.

Playing songs from an early age, Rowe cut his musical teeth playing bass in a local band before he was even 12 years old. A year before hitting his teenage years, he was gifted an acoustic guitar by his father – perhaps as a ploy to get a stack of amps out of his house. New axe in hand, Rowe started playing solo gigs, punctuated by appearances with a percussionist. He wrote his first song at the age of 18 and well, here we are.

If you're digging it, Old Black Dodge appears on Rowe's 2009 album Magic.

When he's not out hammering on his guitar, Rowe spends his time teaching wilderness survival and wild foraging skills. If you want to learn more about his music, book a private house concert or learn how to survive off of the land, hitting up his website is the best bet you have for fulfilling those needs. Read the rest

Gifted clarinetist's prestigious scholarship sabotaged by ex-girlfriend

Eric Abramovitz is a gifted musician, who can currently be found fulfilling the role of associate principal/E flat clarinetist at the Toronto Symphony: a position that thousands of musicians around the world would kill for. Back in 2014, he applied for another position that these same musicians would think kill-worthy, too: a placement with the Colburn Conservatory as a student. The conservatory is insanely hard to get into – only two students are accepted a year. When Abramovitz received an email from the Conservatory that denied him a spot with them, along with the scholarship he had applied for, he was gutted like a fish: music was his life and being able to study under renowned clarinet instructor Yehuda Gilad was a dream that was so close to coming true. To have it snatched away? Ouch.

But here’s the thing: Abramovitz was accepted into the program, scholarship and all. His girlfriend at the time, fellow musician Jennifer Lee, didn’t want him to leave her to further his education. So, she did what any young sociopath in love would do: she accessed his email account and deleted the acceptance message from the Colburn Conservatory. Next, she opened up a fake Gmail account in Yehuda Gilad’s name and used it to write to Abramovitz, saying, more or less, "tough shit, keep playing music, but you won't being doing it at the Colburn School." Pretending to be Gilad, Lee offered her sweet baboo the chance to attend one of Gilead’s other classes at the University of Southern California, knowing full well that he would not be able to afford the tuition required to do so. Read the rest

Gaming: Cyberpunk 2077 looks amazing

I often live in places where the only internet connectivity I have comes from tethering to my smartphone (just like I'm doing right now). So, online multiplayer games don't hold a whole lotta joy for me. Thank God that among the announcement for Fallout 76, and the fact that Fortnite is coming to the Nintendo Switch and other broadband gaming delights, CD Projekt Red finally gave us a proper gameplay trailer for their upcoming near future RPG opus Cyberpunk 2077. It's single player, RPG and played in the first-person: everything that I need to keep me happy. If the game plays anywhere as well as Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I will be a very happy lad. Read the rest

Canadian border authorities hold citizen without charge for eight months

Look, we’re not all maple syrup lollipops and free healthcare up here. According to the CBC, a naturalized Canadian citizen was held against his will, without charge, for 10 months while immigration officials attempted to verify his identity.

47-year old Nigerian-born Olajide Ogunye moved to Canada with his family in the 1990s and, in 1996, he became a Canadian Citizen. But that didn’t matter to the Canadian Border Services Agency. During a sweep of his neighborhood (which, I have to admit, I had no idea that the CBSA did), Ogunye was told to produce evidence of his citizenship. So he did: His Ontario Health card and Canadian Citizenship card.

But here’s the thing: despite his producing two pieces of government identification – the gold standard for get-out-of-my-face-I’m-a-citizen, the CBSA refused to believe that Ogunye was who he claimed to be. So, without charge, they took him into custody so that he could be properly identified.

From the CBC:

According to Ogunye's statement of claim, the officers ran his fingerprints, which they said matched the identity of a man named Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada to Nigeria in the 1990s.

Ogunye says he was told the CBSA believed he was actually Johnson, who had returned to Canada illegally and assumed Ogunye's identity. Those fingerprints, according to court documents, were never produced by the CBSA to Ogunye.

This shit went on for EIGHT MONTHS. Despite having not committed any crime, Ogunye was remanded to two different mixed medium/maximum security prisons. Read the rest

Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch from a Gameboy aficionado

As an insomniac, I take my gaming seriously. When I get to a point in a cycle of sleeplessness where I’m too tired to work or keep track of where I am in the book I’m reading, I turn to video games to keep me from delving too deeply into the dark thoughts that creep into my skull in the middle of the night.

After waiting for over a year to see if it would prove popular enough with developers and players to make it worth picking up, I finally broke down and bought a Nintendo Switch – that I have an upcoming assignment that involves testing Switch accessories made it easy to pull the trigger, despite its steep price tag here in Canada. The last Nintendo console that I bought was the Gameboy Advance Micro. I still own it, 13 years later, and play it on a regular basis. After tinkering with the Switch for just over a month, I’ve got some thoughts on the major differences between it and my much-loved GBA Micro that I thought might be fun to share.

Cost of Ownership

The GBA Micro wasn’t cheap, back in the day. I remember paying around $200 for it in Vancouver, BC. But aside from the games I’d buy for it, that was it. There was no need to purchase anything else. The Switch? Not so much. After paying $300 for it or, in my case, $400 Canadian, there's still a ton of cash that needs to change hands to ensure a solid experience with the console. Read the rest

Ford Ranger murdered by boulder

I promise you, the payoff from this video is worth two minutes of your time. Read the rest

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