Criminal's farts turn interrogation room into a gas chamber

Sean A. Sykes Jr. pleaded guilty this week to having possessed marijuana, heroin and cocaine with the intent to sell and of using a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. It's a win for the Kansas City district attorney who, in 2017, charged 25-year-old Sykes with possession of drugs with intent to sell and of being a felon in possession of three firearms. Did I mention that two of the three guns were stolen? I think it's safe to say that Sykes is enthusiastic about his career.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

Last year, when Sykes was being questioned by the cops for these crimes, his gas, presumably due to his nerves being shot after being arrested, was so bad that the investigating officer was forced to evacuate the interrogation room for fear of being overwhelmed by farts.

From the Kansas City Star:

On Sept. 1, Sykes was in a car that police searched and found a backpack that contained various drugs and two handguns. One of the guns, a .357 Magnum, had been reported stolen out of a car in Independence a few days earlier, according to the documents.

In his report about the interview, the detective wrote that when asked about his address, “Mr. Sykes leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering with the address.”

“Mr. Sykes continued to be flatulent and I ended the interview,” the detective wrote.

Charges were not filed at that time.

Then on Nov.

Read the rest

Catch a glimpse of a New York City legend for the price of an MTA ticket

City Hall Loop was one of the terminus stations for the first subway line to be built under New York City. Opened to the public in 1904, it was beautiful, featuring brass chandeliers, glass tiling and sky lighting to fill it with a warm glow during the day. Unfortunately, the station was closed to the public back in 1945.

Happily, it's still possible and totally legal to catch a glimpse of this wonder from a bygone architectural era. All it takes is a little patience and a ticket to ride the MTA.

Image: by Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

Famous racist does everyone a favor and dies

Racists, emboldened by the policies of populist far-right leaning governments, seem to be everywhere these days. They're having rallies, breaking up families at borders and beating folks in the streets. Happily, time is a wheel: as our lives our lessened by the emergence of fresh bigoted bullshit, we're also gifted with what I hope is the incredibly painful passing of those who made it their life's work to spew hate and kindle chaos.

From The New York Times:

Robert Faurisson, a former literature professor turned anti-Semitic propagandist whose denial of the Holocaust earned him multiple prosecutions, died on Sunday at his home in Vichy, France. He was 89.

Mr. Faurisson was regarded as a father figure by contemporary French exponents of Holocaust denial, the extremist fringe in a country with a long tradition of anti-Semitism. Contemporary far-right figures like the propagandist Alain Soral and Dieudonné, who calls himself a humorist, have followed in his footsteps, but none have had the long-range tenacity of Mr. Faurisson.

At least in death, he might finally be able to contribute to something useful--fertilizing palm trees to provide observant Jews with shelter from the elements during Sukkot, for example.

While things feel as permissive as hell here in North America, the French weren't willing to put up with Faurisson's holocaust denying nonsense. According to The New York Times, he became the first person in France to be convicted for saying that the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, never happened. More recently, the prick was fined 10,000 euros by the French courts for "propounding 'negationism'" in interviews published on the internet."

Good riddance. Read the rest

Ebola outbreak in Congo: things are getting worse

The latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has proven a sumbitch to contain. Since this latest "oh shit" moment in the history of this infectious outbreak started on August 1st, the brave healthcare professionals and epidemiologists throwing their shoulders into the problem have reported 200 total cases of the disease, 117 confirmed Ebola-related deaths and 35 deaths that are probably related to the illness. This latest outbreak, the 10th to have cropped up in Congo since 1976, is proving more difficult, logistically, than past outbreaks have been. The epicenter of the outbreak is in North Kivu Province: chockablock with danger as government forces, local militias and regional warlords get their violence on. This makes getting folks in the region to the care that they need and, just as vital, containing the disease, far more difficult than it already is.

From The New York Times:

Congolese rebels have killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack in the center of the latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, Congo’s military said Sunday. The violence threatened to again force the suspension of efforts to contain the virus.

Congo’s health ministry has reported “numerous aggressions” in the new outbreak against health workers, who have described hearing gunshots daily. Many are operating under the armed escort of United Nations peacekeepers or Congolese security forces, and ending work by sundown to lower the risk of attack.

The World Health Organization hasn't classified the outbreak as a world health emergency, yet. Read the rest

This prop master has devoted his life to the creation of paper products

Documents. Newspapers. Ancient tomes of forbidden knowledge. Golden tickets. Movies and television shows are full of such seemingly banal objects. But each and every one that you see on film has either been stored, cataloged and trotted out for a particular scene by a prop master, or made it's been made specifically for a project. This short film provides some insight into a man who's dedicated his life to the latter. Read the rest

Canadian government growers can't keep up with Alberta's demand for weed

While cannabis may now be legal to smoke, sell and possess across Canada, the demand for bammy is harshing the buzz of many an Albertan. According to the CBC, certified cannabis suppliers are having a hell of a time trying to keep up with demand. The problem is cropping up at a time when the provincial government continues to dole out licenses to operate dispensaries in the province, putting an even greater strain on the amount of marijuana available in big sky country.

From the CBC:

Not all retail stores are necessarily open this weekend — a shortage of stock on the AGLC's retailer website means some new stores aren't able to order any cannabis at all to stock their shelves, and those that have run out can't order enough to restock.

The AGLC is the province's official supplier of cannabis, offering products from 15 licensed producers.

In Edmonton, Numo Cannabis has closed its doors after running out of weed, according to a sign on its door. Another Edmonton store, Alternative Greens, was also closed Saturday after running out of cannabis.

It's not just retail locations that are coming up with bupkis to sell. the AGLC's online portal doesn't have a shred of cannabis to sell, either.

The shortage likely hasn't come as a surprise to anyone keeping tabs on the Canadian cannabis rollout: licensed resellers have been complaining about their inability to order product since September. Given that shops in Alberta are only able to order a weed resupply once a week, it could take some time before the province's dope supplier finds a way to keep up with demand. Read the rest

Way too many burger chains still pump antibiotics into their meat

Using antibiotics to keep livestock healthy until they're chopped up and smooshed into burgers and chicken nuggets is not a great idea: we're already facing a bevy of antibiotic-resistant bugs hellbent on killing us. Throwing the drugs down our throat, in meat or pill-form, is only going to make things worse. Doctors are coming to understand this and, in many cases, are prescribing antibiotics as a last resort. The folks that produce meat for burger joint supply chains? Not so much. By pumping their livestock full of antibiotics, whether the animals are sick or not, is a great way to ensure that the the animals stay healthy until they're sent to the slaughter. Despite the dangers posed by overuse of these wonder drugs, a lot of burger joints are fine with this:

From CNN:

Twenty-five of the top US burger chains were graded on their antibiotic policies in a collaborative report released Wednesday. Only two chains received As, Shake Shack and BurgerFi; the other 23 got a D minus or F.

Wendy's was given a D minus for a policy that the authors described as "while far from comprehensive ... a positive step forward." According to the company's website, Wendy's will get about 15% of its beef from producers that have committed to a 20% reduction in antibiotics used in their livestock and whose cattle's antibiotic use can be tracked and reduced.

For their efforts, as weaksauce as they are, Wendy's scored the only D issued by the study. McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic, Hardee's, Whataburger, Carls Jr., Culver's, Steak n' Shake, In n' Out, White Castle, Smashburger, Checkers, Krystal, Freddy's, Habit, Rally's, Fuddruckers, A&W (in the U.S., anyway) Jack's and FarmerBoys all earned an F rating. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Robert Plant - House of Cards

It's been a while since I took the time to listen to Robert Plant's outstanding Band of Joy. Given everything that's happened over the past two years or even the past few days in North America, the album's second track, House of Cards, feels a little bit too real for Sunday afternoon listening. Read the rest

My life on the road: A lost passport, no ID, and bullshit paperwork trying to get back to Canada

16 October, 2018 My wife drops me at the airport in Calgary. I'm traveling to Chicago. A fancy audio hardware company called Shure invited me to the city to check out some of the new tech that they'll be releasing in the coming months.

I pass through security with no issues. As I lace on my boots, I am certain that I have my passport. It is in my hand as I board my flight. I place my passport in a buttoned pocket in my jacket before sitting down on the plane. Standing up at the end of my flight, my passport is still there. Upon landing, I pay it no further mind. I'm on the hunt for a cab ride into Chicago's downtown core.

"They say they don't have any money but Jesus: lookit alla this construction," my cab driver says to me. "It's alla the time." I tell him that we have construction season in Calgary, too. But yeah, the traffic headed into the downtown is weaponized bullshit. My smartphone says that the trip should take 35 minutes. Curb to curb, it is a 90-minute ride.

I pay the driver his due and step out of his hack.

In the hotel's front door to the hotel's front desk. I have my luggage. I have a reservation. I have a credit card for incidentals.

I do not have a passport.

I don't have a driver's license, either. I haven't had one for years: my PTSD makes my being behind the wheel a bad idea. Read the rest

Stand up for journalists and the free press by opposing the Future Investment Initiative!

If you're not pissed off at the assassination of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, you should be.

As a permanent resident of the United States, Khashoggi should be protected by the U.S. Government, just like any United States citizen. But, instead of pouring pressure on Saudi Arabia to bring the perpetrators of Khashoggi's slaughter to justice, there's nothing but the flapping of gums over "rogue killers." Money, as always, is being put ahead of the sanctity of human life and the rule of law. Khashoggi's murder is also an attack on the freedom of the press. His brave, unwavering reports on corruption and human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia made him a target for the Saudi royal family and the nation's intelligence apparatus. He was killed for telling the truth. We can't force our governments to take action over Khashoggi's murder. But we can make our outrage known to those responsible for doing business with Saudi Arabia.

The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is a conference being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 23rd. Rich people will talk about rich people things to make themselves even more rich. The event is the work of Public Investment fund--one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The PIF is a mechanism by which our aforementioned invest in things that only rich people can afford to spend their money on in order to be even more rich. The FII's October 23rd event is an orgy of money-grubbing elitists talking about how to secure further funding, build assets, and control even more of the world's wealth than the ultra-rich already do. Read the rest

The New York Times has the dope on cannabis use in Canada

I'm writing this on a flight to Chicago. By the time I return to Canada on Thursday, the sale and use of cannabis, in many circumstances, will be cool, from coast to coast to coast. This does not excite me: I'm not a cannabis enthusiast. Your mileage, however, may vary.

If you're a Canadian who enjoys the use of weed in its many forms or love the idea of visiting my often-frozen nation so that you can partake in a legal left-handed cigarette, you should know that the laws surrounding where and when you can use marijuana varies from province to province. The same goes for who can sell it. Fortunately, The New York Times has taken it upon itself to give its readers the scuttlebutt on all of these issues and more:

From The New York Times:

On legalization day, only fresh or dried flower, seeds, plants and oil will be available. Legal marijuana will have lower levels of THC, the chemical that brings on the buzz, than most products now on the black market.

The law will not allow cannabis-infused edibles and concentrates until next year. So those craving pot-infused gummy bears, baked goods, barbecue sauce and drinks will have to wait to buy them legally.

It is unclear whether cannabis creams and cosmetics will ever be approved.

The Times goes on to talk about the fuzziness of what cannabis will cost from province to province, how much of it is legal to own, the limits placed upon growing your own, and the age required to make buying it OK. Read the rest

Chow Yun-fat lives so modestly, he can give away $700M+ when he passes away

Indicating in your will that you want to leave some money to a charity that reflects the values you were passionate about is a fine gesture.

Living a life of frugality so that you can leave a ridiculous amount of money to charity once you're gone: that's next level philanthropy. Read the rest

I love the Garmin Tactix Charlie, so it'll likely get lost or broken

I destroy Apple Watches. It's not intentional. It just kinda happens. The first Apple Watch was a Series 1 piece of wrist candy. I loved how it kept reminders for me to take my medication, pay my bills, and all of the other things that my PTSD-addled brain refuses to keep track of on my wrist. I hated how slow it was to respond to requests and that it wasn't possible to hide apps that I never used from its interface. It died in a torrential downpour.

Same thing for my second Apple watch. It was a Series 2. While it was a little bit faster and the OS was a tiny bit more agreeable, it was unable to avoid being smashed by a passerby at a street market in Costa Rica. From the impact, it looked like it had met with a single, focused impact, like the tip of a knife or another object that wouldn't be agreeable to have in my body. I'm sure that it's over reacting to say that my Apple Watch saved my life, but I think about this often.

I am not made of money. I cannot afford to buy watch after watch (although that's kind of what I've ended up doing). Smartwatches provide me with a level of utility that makes my life a lot more manageable. It took some time, but I came to the conclusion that the best smartwatch for me was one that I could not kill.

Enter the Garmin Tactix. Read the rest

Criminal mastermind arrested for robbing same bank, twice

Armed with the knowledge that comes from damned dear experience, you go back in time and correct the terrible wrongs of your life. Old loves could be mended. Lost chances would be taken. It's something that most of us have dreamed of at one point in our lives or another.

While dwelling on such things might be a balm against the pain of wistful regrets, it is, as 50-year-old Brent Allen Drees of Wichita, Kansas discovered, an absolutely terrible idea when applied to bank robbery.

After spending 46 months in prison for bank robbery, Drees, having repaid his debt to society, was ready to leave the clink behind and start a new life. His time behind bars at an end, he celebrated his new-found freedom... by robbing a bank he'd already robbed back in 2011.

From the Wichita Eagle:

Drees allegedly robbed the Conway Bank at 121 E. Kellogg on Tuesday, giving the teller a note saying, “Give me $3,000 and you won’t get hurt,” a criminal affidavit states.

He was arrested Thursday afternoon in connection to the robbery after a Crime Stoppers tip led investigators to an area on the south side of Wichita, police Officer Paul Cruz said in a release.

Drees was released from Federal Bureau of Prisons custody in July 2017, prison records show. He had served a 46-month sentence for bank robbery, McAllister’s release said.

Drees was dinged for robbing the E. Kellogg branch of Conway Bank back in 2011. It was his first conviction for bank robbery. Read the rest

The first trailer for Good Omens makes the apocalypse look delightful

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens is a book that I've revisited many times over the years. Each time that I do, it feels like I'm spending time with an old friend: nothing much has changed since the last time that we saw each other, but I enjoy the book's presence in my life, nonetheless.

The first trailer for Amazon's Good Omens doesn't give me those feels. That's not a bad thing. The mini-series, staring Michael Sheen and David Tennant as Aziraphale and Crowley, feels vital and expansive compared to the cozy confines of the novel I've enjoyed so often over the past few decades. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the production interprets the work.

And hey, if it sucks, I still have the wonderful written iteration to fall back on. Read the rest

M. Night Shyamalan's Glass is looking pretty good in this new trailer

It's taken M. Night Shyamalan close to two decades and three films to fully realize his vision of a world full of super-powered heroes and villains, but here we are! Eighteen years after Unbreakable popped and close to two after Split was released, Glass is here. Well, almost. It'll be hitting theaters on January 19th.

I know that M. Night Shyamalan's plopped out a few turds over the years, but I have faith in his vision as a filmmaker and as a writer. Fingers crossed that Glass is just as good as it looks. Read the rest

Report: U.S. military weapon systems and computers are ridiculously easy to hack

Well this is fun: The United States Government Accountability Office released a report today that explains, in no uncertain terms, that the majority of the nation's new-fangled, high-tech weapons systems are hilariously vulnerable to cyber attacks.

From the Washington Post:

The report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many of the weapons, or the systems that control them, could be neutralized within hours. In many cases, the military teams developing or testing the systems were oblivious to the hacking.

A public version of the study, published on Tuesday, deleted all names and descriptions of which systems were attacked so the report could be published without tipping off American adversaries about the vulnerabilities. Congress is receiving the classified version of the report, which specifies which among the $1.6 trillion in weapons systems that the Pentagon is acquiring from defense contractors were affected.

The Government Accountability Office used a team of hackers to see what sort of shenanigans could be caused with a little bit of access and a whole lot of digital kung-fu. The results aren't a good look for America's military. In one instance, the red team that the GOA used was pitted against Pentagon personnel tasked with holding the line against cyberintrusions. The security checks that the Pentagon were easily bypassed, thanks to the use of easy-to-crack passwords and "insiders" who were familiar with the program acting as meatspace backdoors to what would normally be secure systems. It gets worse: hackers working for the GAO reported being able to watch, in real time, a system operator's every move. Read the rest

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