Posts Tagged ‘People’

MADRID, SPAIN — A Spanish high court has ruled that the city of Aldaia wrongfully fined a man for walking naked on a public street, citing the fact that public nudity has been legal in Spain since 1988.

Earlier, the fine levied against Alejandro Colomar, 29, was struck down by a lower court, but officials in Aldaia appealed the ruling on grounds that a city ordinance forbids public nudity. The high court said the national law took precedence and observed that Colomar’s nudity did nothing to harm “citizen security, tranquility, or public order.”

Colomar said he began going naked in public in 2020 and has received more support than insults, although he once was threatened with a knife.

Colomar, who arrived in court wearing only a pair of hiking boots, was asked to wear pants to enter the building.

ZAGREB, CROATIA — A restaurant in Zagreb is the first in the world to serve meals prepared by robot chefs — completely from scratch, using fresh ingredients.

Bots & Pots Sci-Food Bistro features some 70 different one-pot meals prepared by robotic “GammaChef” cooks. The only human involvement is loading the devices with ingredients. So far, customers have praised the quality of the food.

According to the owners of the restaurant, the head chef programmed the five GammaChef machines to cook the dishes on the menu unassisted. Each GammaChef can cook four meals in 15 minutes, so technically, the restaurant can serve almost 100 meals per hour.

The owner said one restaurant with five robots can be run by a single person. “Our final goal is to create a ‘no waiter, no chef, no cash’ space where you order, get, and pay for food without human contact.”

CALDWELL, IDAHO — Members of the Caldwell Fire and Police Departments rescued a dog from the upper branches of a tree following a squirrel-chasing episode that went wrong.

Izzy, a pit bull-husky mix, followed a squirrel up the tree and, when he couldn’t figure out how to get down, froze. When Izzy’s owner discovered him, she placed an emergency call.

Ultimately, the rescuers positioned a ladder in the tree, and a firefighter carried Izzy to the ground.

The owner noted that Izzy was “never even close” to catching the squirrel.

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Thoughts du Jour


Water, water everywhere. Water accounts for about 60 percent of the body weight of an adult male human and about 55 percent of an adult female. We are born consisting of about 78 percent water. By age one, our water content is down to about 65 percent.

Your lungs are 83 percent water, your muscles and kidneys 79 percent, your brain and heart 73 percent, your skin 64 percent, and your bones 31 percent.

The water in your body is plenty busy. It serves as a building material for cells, flushes out waste, lubricates joints, absorbs shock, helps maintain you at the right temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen where they need to go, and forms saliva, which allows you to eat.

To remain properly hydrated, an adult male should consume a little over three quarts of water per day. An adult female needs a little over two quarts per day.

Fascist Theocracy

Some years ago, the CNN program Crossfire featured the strained concept of a liberal, a conservative, and a centrist arguing about things. The idea was ridiculous. I never watched.

Two Crossfire episodes became rather famous. In 2004, John Stewart berated Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala for partisanship in lieu of honesty. And in 1986, the late Frank Zappa said conservatives want to establish religious fascism in America.

Zappa said this:

The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy. And everything that’s happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe.

When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very, very right-wing, almost toward Attila the Hun…

Zappa allowed the sentence to trail off there, point made.

Zappa understood that government-sanctioned morality is poison. When you mix church and state, you get the Taliban, al Qaeda, Sharia Law, and today’s Republican brand of christo-fascism.

Hyperbole? No. This spring, the Texas Senate passed a bill requiring that all public schools display the 10 Commandments. It passed another bill setting aside time every school day for Bible-reading and prayer.

That is such an Orwellian example of fascist theocracy, it makes my teeth hurt.

Busy Bees

We usually think of bees in terms of hives, queens, buzzing, swarming, and such, but many bee species, such as carpenter bees, are solitary, not social. And they’re just as important pollinators as honey bees and bumblebees.

Also fascinating: many solitary bees have evolved to specialize in and pollinate specific plants.

Most solitary bees live only one season. In the fall, a female will prepare several underground chambers, stock them with pollen and nectar, lay her eggs, seal them, and depart to die over the winter.

In the spring, her pupae will remain underground and delay emerging until their specialty plants are active. How the buried pupae know when conditions are right topside is something the experts would really like to know.

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Recently, due to ongoing ethics problems regarding the Supreme Court Justices, the Senate Judiciary Committee invited Chief Justice Roberts to meet and discuss ways to enforce the rules of conduct for the justices. There are rules, you see, but no mechanisms to enforce them.

Roberts declined the invitation. Instead, he sent the committee a letter signed by all nine justices declaring that everything is just fine the way it is, so go scratch.

Not a good attitude when polls show that a mere 25 percent of Americans have a “great deal” of confidence in the Supreme Court. Three-fourths of the country, in other words, does not.

Count me with the three-fourths. I lost all respect for the Court during the presidential election of 2000, when the court halted the counting of votes in Florida, thus awarding the presidency to George Bush the younger. That was contrived and nakedly partisan. The country deserved better from the Court.

It still does. The ethics problems, and the above-mentioned letter, are evidence that the justices feel free to do what they want because they consider themselves to be, if not above the law, then in little danger of facing consequences.

As it stands, impeachment is the only way to punish a justice for misconduct. That will not happen until Democrats hold a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate.

Meanwhile, if Clarence Thomas accepts hundred of thousands of dollars worth of free flights around the world, yachting vacations, and other lavish gifts from Republican fatcat Harlan Crow, and Thomas doesn’t even disclose those gifts as required by law, we have no recourse.

If fatcat Crow buys real estate from Thomas, including the home of Clarence’s mama, where she apparently still lives rent-free, nothing can be done.

If the head of a law firm that regularly argues cases before the Supreme Court buys $2 million worth of property from Neil Gorsuch, we can only watch.

If the wife of Chief Justice Roberts becomes a “legal recruiter” who makes millions by placing well-connected attorneys and prominent former politicians at the right law firms, you can label it crass influence-peddling, but you can’t stop her.

Easily the worst offender, the justice guilty of the most egregious ethical lapses we know about so far, is Clarence Thomas.

His wife Ginni is an outspoken right-wing activist who from 2003-2007 was paid almost $700,000 in salary by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Clarence declared her income as “none” for those years.

When reporters found out about it 10 years later, he amended his tax forms. But Thomas has never recused himself from a case in which Heritage was involved.

To this day, Ginni Thomas publicly insists that Democrats rigged the 2020 presidential election and stole it from Trump. She is fully on board with all the absurd MAGA and QAnon conspiracy theories. But Clarence has declined to recuse himself from any cases related to the January 6 insurrection.

The latest revelation: over a period of from one to four years, Harlan Crow paid the tuition of Thomas’ nephew at two Georgia boarding schools. The tuition at one of the schools was reported to be over $6,000 per month. Thomas did not report any of the gifts, which is a violation of the law.

Clarence Thomas is a corrupt man, a disgrace to the Judicial Branch, and unfit to serve. If he were not, if he possessed even a shred of integrity, he would resign and disappear.

If only we had been given a heads-up about the man’s true nature and lack of character years ago, before he was confirmed as a member of the Court…

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If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

Dwight Eisenhower


All cruelty springs from weakness.

Seneca the Younger


The truth has no defense against a fool determined to believe a lie.

Mark Twain


If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.

Stephen Hawking



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Sales Pitch

About 10 years ago, I was returning home from a road trip in my RV, and I stopped for the night at a campground on a remote stretch of US 84 in southern Alabama. It was in the middle of nowhere. I was relieved to find a place to stay.

The campground was a small private place, attractive and clean, with spacious campsites and lots of tree cover. Sometimes, you get lucky.

In the office was a woman of about 50, the owner, who lived on-site and ran the operation. She checked me in and told me to take any site I wanted.

I selected a campsite and, rather than hooking up for the night, drove to the nearest town for supper. I prefer restaurant meals on the road. Cooking in the RV is a pain.

Later, back at the campground, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it, and there was the owner. I stepped out of the RV.

She said she wanted to make sure all was well and to ask if I needed anything. I told her I was fine.

But she seemed reluctant to end the conversation. She sat down at the picnic table and kept chatting in an awkward way. I could tell something was on her mind.

The story slowly came out. She and her husband had bought the campground five years earlier. He later died, and she now ran the campground alone. Life there was quiet and routine.

The operation wasn’t a huge money-maker, she said, but the books would confirm that it remained in the black.

I continued listening politely.

Eventually, she came to the point. She wanted to sell the campground and move back home — I forget where that was — with her parents and siblings.

She said the property was listed with a broker, but any passing guest might be a potential buyer, so no harm in asking.

I told her I wasn’t a candidate. I was retired and leading a comfortable life close to relatives and friends — precisely what she wanted — and I didn’t want to change that.

What a terrible situation for that poor woman. Essentially, she was trapped there, probably lonely and depressed, if not still in mourning.

I think about her sometimes and wonder how things worked out.

Life is a crapshoot.

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NANAIMO, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Police officers responding to a report of a man spray-painting the floor of a Tim Hortons restaurant arrested the man after they caught him spray-painting their patrol car.

Constables of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were taking evidence photos of the restaurant floor when a bystander said a man in the parking lot was spray-painting their vehicle.

As the constables approached, the man was standing on the hood of the vehicle “meticulously painting the windshield.” He hopped down and delivered a final blast of paint to the side of the cruiser before being subdued.

Officers said they found a small quantity of crystal meth in the man’s possession. The 24-year-old local resident was charged with mischief and possession of a controlled substance.

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — The curator of a Dϋsseldorf art museum has discovered that an abstract work on display there has been hanging upside down for 75 years.

“New York City I,” created in 1941 by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, features colored tape on a white background. As displayed since 1980, the work is oriented so that more lines of tape are at the bottom of the work than at the top.

Museum curator Susanne Meyer-Büser said she recently found a 1944 photograph of the work on an easel in Mondrian’s studio, and it is positioned with more lines of tape at the top.

The error will not be corrected, Meyer-Büser said, because of the work’s age and condition. Much of the tape is “hanging by a thread,” she said, and turning it right side up likely would damage it.

“New York City I” does not bear Mondrian’s signature, which would have indicated how the work was to be displayed.

LAREDO, TEXAS — US Customs and Border Protection officers recently seized a massive shipment of cocaine disguised as packages of baby wipes.

Officials said drug-sniffing dogs discovered the cocaine at the Laredo Point of Entry during a routine inspection. A northbound truck was carrying 1,935 packages labeled as baby wipes, but actually containing 1,532 pounds of cocaine.

The drugs have a street value of about $11.8 million, making it the largest cocaine bust in Laredo in 20 years.

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● Wolf packs range in size from two to 30 members and average about 10. The number varies with such factors as the availability of prey in the territory. In most cases, a pack consists of parents and a season or two of offspring.

● Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.

● Change for a dollar bill can be made in 292 different ways. 293 if you count swapping a dollar bill for a dollar coin.

● The rarest color combination among humans is red hair and blue eyes. Both are recessive traits; only about 17 percent of us have blue eyes, and less than two percent have red hair. Blue-eyed redheads make up about one percent of the population.

● The ears of an elephant radiate heat to help the animals stay cool. Elephants also spray water on themselves with their trunks, after which they may roll in the dirt to add a layer of insulation.

● The northernmost community in the US is Point Barrow, Alaska.

● The soft drink Sprite was introduced in West Germany in 1959 by the Coca-Cola Company. Back then, it was part of the Fanta line and was called Fanta Klare Zitrone (Fanta Clear Lemon). It was renamed Sprite when introduced in the US a few years later to compete with 7 Up.

● The world’s fastest animal is the peregrine falcon, which swoops down on its prey at an average of 185 mph. The highest measured speed: 242 mph.

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The Questions…

1. In bowling, what do the terms turkey and hambone describe?

2. What was the maiden name of Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

3. November 11 has been observed as Veterans Day in the US since 1954. However, the holiday actually dated back several decades under another name. What name?

4. In the play Romeo and Juliet, who was the Montague and who was the Capulet?

5. What is a group of foxes called?

The Answers…

1. Three and four consecutive strikes, respectively. The terms probably date back to times when food was presented to tournament winners.

2. Her maiden name was Eleanor Roosevelt; she and FDR were fifth cousins.

3. Armistice Day, which marked the armistice with Germany that ended World War I. Memorably, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

4. Romeo was a Montague, Juliet was a Capulet.

5. A skulk or, less commonly, a leash. FYI, a female fox is a vixen, and a male is a tod.

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Thoughts du Jour

Two Kinds of Teachers

When my dog Jake and I go walking near the Baptist church in Jefferson, Jake likes to check out the church’s central courtyard because he once encountered a squirrel there.

Among the windows overlooking the courtyard are two from the church’s Pre-K classroom.

One morning last year, Jake and I entered the courtyard while a Pre-K class was in session. Immediately, the kids spotted Jake and gleefully ran to the windows. Also immediately, the teacher barked for the children to take their seats and closed the blinds on both windows.

One morning last month, Jake and I entered the courtyard while a Pre-K class was in session. Immediately, the kids spotted Jake and gleefully ran to the windows. Also immediately, the teacher raised the blinds so the children could see better.

Jake dashed back and forth between the windows, tail wagging at high speed, paws on the sills, at eye level with a dozen kids, to the delight of all.


The world of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin was created in the 1920s by English writer A. A. Milne in his popular series of children’s books. The backstory of Pooh’s creation is interesting.

The Christopher Robin character was based on author Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne. Christopher’s favorite teddy bear was Winnie, named after Winnipeg, a Canadian black bear at the London Zoo.

Christopher Milne also owned stuffed animals named Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Roo, all of whom became characters in the stories.

The illustrator of Milne’s books, E. H. Shepard, based his drawings of Pooh on his own son’s teddy bear Growler.

Pooh was the name of a swan owned by a friend of the Milne family.


You’re familiar with Aaron Burr, who, in 1804, while serving as Jefferson’s vice president, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. History says Burr (1756-1836) was a rotter, a scoundrel, and a deplorable jerk, on a par with our own deplorable jerk extraordinaire, Donald Trump.

Dueling was illegal in 1804, and Burr was charged with murder in New Jersey (where the duel occurred) and in New York (where Hamilton died). Being famous and entitled, Burr simply returned to Washington and served the rest of his term as VP. Sure enough, the charges fizzled out.

Jefferson disliked Burr anyway and dumped him as his 1805 running mate. Whereupon Burr headed west and allegedly plotted with a group of co-conspirators to create a new country with Burr as president. It would consist of several commandeered US territories (parts of the future Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona), plus a portion of northern Mexico. Allegedly.

Jefferson found out and had Burr indicted for treason. Burr fled to Europe. Eventually, the treason charge was dropped for lack of evidence. In 1812, Burr quietly returned to the US, but remained out of the public eye.

In 1833, in his 70s, he married a wealthy New York widow. Four months into the marriage, she discovered that her fortune was dwindling; Burr was investing her money in land speculation schemes and losing. She filed for divorce, pointedly choosing Alexander Hamilton, Jr. as her attorney.

On the day the divorce was finalized, Burr died of a stroke. The word karma comes to mind.

A rotter, scoundrel, and deplorable jerk, indeed.

The deplorable Aaron Burr.

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Biographer Walter Isaacson called Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.” Franklin indeed was a Renaissance Man.

In 1779, at age 73, Franklin wrote the letter below to French composer and musician Anna Louise Brillon de Jouy. While Franklin served as ambassador to France (from 1777 to 1785), he was a neighbor and close friend of Jacques and Anna Brillon de Jouy in Paris.

As the letter implies, Anna and Franklin were close. She affectionately called him “Poppa.”

Franklin’s letter to Anna:


November 10 1779.

I Received my dear Friend’s two Letters, one for Wednesday and one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for to-day, because I have not answered the former.

But, indolent as I am, and averse to Writing, the Fear of having no more of your pleasing Epistles, if I do not contribute to the Correspondence, obliges me to take up my Pen; and as Mr. B. has kindly sent me Word, that he sets out to-morrow to see you, instead of spending this Wednesday Evening, as I have done its Namesakes, in your delightful Company, I sit down to spend it in thinking of you, in writing to you, and in reading over and over again your Letters.

I am charmed with your Description of Paradise, and with your Plan of living there; and I approve much of your Conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the Good we can from this World.

In my Opinion we might all draw more Good from it than we do, and suffer less Evil, if we would take care not to give too much for Whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy People we meet with are become so by Neglect of that Caution.

You ask what I mean? You love Stories, and will excuse my telling one of my self.

When I was a Child of seven Years old, my Friends, on a Holiday, filled my little Pocket with Halfpence. I went directly to a Shop where they sold Toys for Children; and being charmed with the Sound of a Whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another Boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my Money for one.

When I came home, whistling all over the House, much pleased with my Whistle, but disturbing all the Family, my Brothers, Sisters, and Cousins, understanding the Bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good Things I might have bought with the rest of the Money; and laughed at me so much for my Folly, that I cry’d with Vexation; and the Reflection gave me more Chagrin than the Whistle gave me Pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the Whistle; and I saved my Money.

As I grew up, came into the World, and observed the Actions of Men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the Whistle. When I saw one too ambitious of Court Favor, sacrificing his Time in Attendance at Levees, his Repose, his Liberty, his Virtue, and perhaps his Friends, to attain it, I have said to my self, This Man gives too much for his Whistle.

When I saw another fond of Popularity, constantly employing himself in political Bustles, neglecting his own Affairs, and ruining them by Neglect, He pays, says I, too much for his Whistle.

If I knew a Miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable Living, all the Pleasure of doing Good to others, all the Esteem of his Fellow Citizens, and the Joys of benevolent Friendship, for the sake of Accumulating Wealth, Poor man, says I, you pay too much for your Whistle.

When I met with a Man of Pleasure, sacrificing every laudable Improvement of his Mind, or of his Fortune, to mere corporeal Sensations, and ruining his Health in their Pursuit, Mistaken man, says I, you are providing Pain for your self, instead of Pleasure; you pay too much for your Whistle.

If I see one fond of Appearance, of fine Clothes, fine Houses, fine Furniture, fine Equipages, all above his Fortune, for which he contracts Debts, and ends his Career in a Prison, Alas! says I, he has paid too much for his Whistle.

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered Girl marry’d to an ill-tempered Brute of a husband, What a Pity, says I, that she should pay so much for a Whistle!

In short, I conceiv’d that great Part of the Miseries of Mankind are brought upon them by the false Estimates they have made of the Value of Things, and by their giving too much for the Whistle.

Yet I ought to have Charity for these unhappy People, when I consider that, with all this Wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the World so tempting; for example, the Apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by Auction, I might very easily be led to ruin my self in the Purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the Whistle.

Adieu, my dearest Friend, and believe me ever yours very sincerely and with unalterable Affection.


Franklin used the “Apples of King John” as a metaphor for something of great value. In Franklin’s time, fruit was scarce and costly; he was gracefully admitting that he wasn’t above temptation.

History says Franklin and Anna were genuinely close, and they engaged in flirtatious exchanges often. But their relationship almost certainly was platonic, despite Franklin’s long-time reputation as a womanizer.

Anna wrote to Franklin in 1778, “There can be no great harm that a man desires and succumbs — the woman may desire, but must not succumb.”

I suspect Franklin had the good sense to take the hint.

Poppa and Anna.

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