Good News Friday

It’s been a super busy week for your humble scribe. I’ve scraped together a few items of good news, however.

• A judge rejects the quarantine order for nurse Kaci Hickox.

• He’s out and proud: Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out. Amazing culture shift: I really am so old, I remember when top business executives went to great lengths to hide their sexual orientation.

• There’s a new soda can called the “evercan,” made from 90% recycled aluminum. Now if we could only get Coca Cola and PepsiCo to use it.

• Best news ever: New Alzheimer’s research indicates chocolate keeps the brain young and healthy.

• A federal court dismissed Tea Party-affiliated group True The Vote’s two lawsuits against the IRS.

• The U.S. economy continues to improve, with growth at 3.5% for the third quarter.

• Everyone’s excited that our Awesome Hippie Pope is saying that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are not at odds with religion. I’m pretty sure that this has been Catholic doctrine for at least the last two Popes but whatever, it’s fun to see the Vatican remind American flat-earthers that they’re still getting it wrong.

• They’ve discovered a new species of leopard frog that lives on New Jersey’s I-95 corridor. Pretty sure Gov. Chris Christie will tell it to “sit down and shut up.”

• Researchers find there’s a genetic component to the different responses to the Ebola virus.

• Not good news per se but interesting: Did you know there’s a copyright infringement suit over the Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams song “Blurred Lines”? And the plaintiff is the family of Marvin Gaye, who say Thicke and Pharrell borrowed from Gaye’s hit “Got To Give It Up”? There is, they are, and the suit has cleared its first major hurdle.

Copyright law is an interesting, convoluted thing. I was always amazed that Kenny Loggins never sued Garth Brooks over Brooks’ “Standing Outside The Fire,” which is basically Loggins’ “Conviction Of The Heart” set in a different key with some twang added. It was a blatant, obvious rip-off, in my book.

The “Blurred Lines” thing is a little less obvious to me. Here’s Got To Give It Up and here’s “Blurred Lines.” What do you think?

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Maybe the beginning of the end of negative campaigning? Probably not, but it’s good to see Bo Mitchell fighting back against an outright lie spread through a negative campaign ad.

• Former Marine Eric Malloy of Nashville can now afford to get his canine buddy Cash, who was his partner in Afghanistan, needed surgery, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign which raised over $3,000 in less than an hour. Read the full story here.

• Taylor Swift, whose new album contains the song “Welcome To New York,” says she is donating all of the song’s proceeds to New York public schools.

• Vanderbilt University received a $15 million federal grant to develop a national training center for special ed teachers.

This week’s cool video: I can’t remember the last time anyone had the cojones to openly mock an advertiser the way The Daily Show just went after Koch Industries. Absolutely hilarious.

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Rick Berman: He’s Baaaaack!

Ah, Rick Berman. A professional propagandist so nice, I’ve got an entire tag devoted to his shenanigans.

Whatcha been up to, Rick? How’s the astroturf growing around your neck of the woods? Made any speeches lately, maybe made a few enemies here and there? Why yes, you have:

WASHINGTON — If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.

The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.

The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.

So in other words, Al Gore is REALLY fat. Nice.

People like Rick Berman are what’s wrong with America. They are breeding grounds for cynicism and apathy. And that’s the point: the more disillusioned people are, the more likely they are to do things like sit out elections, not stay informed, not get involved. “They’re all the same,” those people say — because people like Rick Berman told them that.

What a horrible person.

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Thought For The Day

It is truly amazing to hear the same people who bitched and moaned about how TSA body scanners at U.S. airports violated their civil rights now attack nurse Kaci Hickox for not submitting to a 21-day house arrest on her return from Africa.

Do you people even listen to yourselves?

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Congratulations, Patrick Sanders! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

A 20-year-old Texas man, who was napping with a gun in his pocket (as one does!), accidentally shot himself in the face after a 3-year-old child found his gun. How it all went down:

It happened at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at an apartment located in the 4700 block of Wenda.

Patrick Sanders, 20, of Houston, was sleeping on the couch in the living room of the apartment when a gun in his pants pocket fell out and onto the floor, police said. As Sanders woke up, a three-year-old boy picked up the gun. Police said Sanders saw the child with the gun and as he tried to grab it from the boy the gun went off and Sanders was shot in the face.

Brilliant!

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War On Halloween

[UPDATE]:

Welcome, Crooks & Liars!

———————————-

Next time someone says we need to let “charity” deal with the poor, remind them that the reason that doesn’t work is because people are selfish assholes:

Dear Prudence,

I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?

—Halloween for the 99 Percent

OMG. Prudence responds:

Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.

A part of me has to wonder if some of these kids from “less fortunate areas” aren’t maybe, you know, of a different skin color from our letter writer? And that maybe a big part of her beef is that her neighborhood is overrun with black and brown families for a night? Just a guess, but certainly one that has to be considered.

This isn’t the first time the holidays have brought out the less charitable side of Americans. A few years ago I wrote about local Nashvillians begrudging the trash collectors their Christmas tip because “mah tax dollahs!” Funny how some folks seem to think that paying taxes entitles them to be selfish, self-satisfied pricks.

Get over yourselves and STFU. And if our letter writer really doesn’t think those poor kids deserve her candy because of all the free stuff they get from the taxpayers, she can turn off all the house lights, shut the curtains, and hole up under her blanket for a night, blocking out the cries from the less fortunate outside her window. Seems to be working for her so far.

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Good News Friday

Some good news to start off the weekend … Ebola-free!

• Honey Boo-Boo has been cancelled and our long, national slide into Redneckistan is finally (hopefully) coming to an end.

• Three major chains announced that they will remain closed on Thanksgiving Day to allow workers to spend time with their families.

I honestly do not understand the national “shopping on Thanksgiving” disease. The very last place you will find me on Thanksgiving weekend is the damn mall. But that’s just me.

• This is sorta interesting:

A photographic notebook from Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition has been discovered after a century trapped in ice.

Conservation specialists from New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust found the notebook outside Scott’s Terra Nova base during last summer’s ice melt.

The notebook belonged to British scientist George Murray Levick, who was part of Scott’s 1910-1913 expedition and a member of the Northern Party.

• U.S. citizen Jeffrey Fowle is on his way home, after being detained in North Korea since April.

• Four Blackwater security guards have been convicted in the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings of over 30 Iraqis, an incident which sparked an international outcry and focused world attention on the U.S.’s privatized military arm.

• Polish and British surgeons used a first-of-its-kind nerve transplant to enable a man whose spinal cord had been severed to walk again. By the way, remember during the healthcare debate when Republicans like Sen. Bob Corker said there had been no great medical innovations outside of the U.S.? To bolster their argument that America’s for-profit healthcare system was the best evah and socialism stifled innovation? I wonder how they can live with themselves, being perpetually proven wrong time and time again?

• Car batteries that last 1,000 years? The Swedes think they’ve found a way.

• Our Awesome Hippie Pope demoted the conservative ex-Archibishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke. He’s the asshole who denied John Kerry communion because of all those bay-beeez and ‘bortion.

• When it comes to Ebola, there’s actually some good news. Update: Now that Americans are in a panic they’re finally testing an Ebola vaccine that is 100% effective on monkeys. Also: Dallas nurses Amber Vinson and Nina Pham have been declard Ebola-free — and Pham’s dog, Bentley, too. Ditto NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo.

So the only U.S. patient who died of Ebola is the guy the hospital in Texas sent home with a bottle of antibiotics.

• It’s not much but it’s something: Social Security benefits will go up a smidge.

• How Portugal switched from using fossil fuels to generate electricity to using renewable, in 7 short years.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Bittersweet: A Tennessee-born World War II soldier who died in combat in 1945 but whose remains were only found last year by French hikers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

This week’s video: Watch these kids get hysterical when their 13-year-old cat Maddy, who had been missing for two months, returns home:

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AT&T Uverse Wants Us To Watch The Today Show

I’ve generally been happy with AT&T Uverse once our nightmarish installation experience was resolved but this morning every Uverse customer had their channels force-changed to The Today Show as an “emergency alert” blared but there is no emergency.

The angry Tweets from viewers are just hilarious.

UPDATE: confirmed that this affects Uverse customers nationwide, there is no emergency, and it’s AT&T’s fault.

UPDATE 2: The thing that’s pissing me off about this is that AT&T and even some news reporting are trying to make it sound like we merely had to put up with an emergency alert message. And yes, that’s bad: as freaked out as this nation is right now about ISIS and EBOLA and (fill in the blank)-ghazi, that’s not cool. But what no one is talking about is the fact that our televisions were hijacked! They literally took control of our TVs. They changed everybody’s channel to the local NBC affiliate and we were unable to control our televisions. I couldn’t even change the damn volume.

That is some messed up Big Brother shit right there, on a par with Apple forcing you to own a U2 album or Amazon entering your Kindle to take back a book you’d bought because of a copyright issue.

Corporate America is overstepping its bounds and infringing on the private lives of consumers. Again.

Update 3: FCC is investigating the hijacking of private televisions:

ATLANTA, Ga. — AT&T U-verse customers in several states woke up Friday morning to find a federal emergency alert on TV. The problem is, there was no emergency and the alert somehow hijacked their TV’s, refusing to allow them to change the channel.

Alan Sams, who has his phone and internet service bundled through AT&T says he couldn’t use the internet or his phone either.

“I’m more concerned that somebody on the inside of AT&T has the capacity to deal with shutting off my communications and controlling my communications, even if it was for a short period of time,” said Sams.

AT&T is still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but says the alert should not have impacted anything but television service.

In a statement released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency said the problem started when an unidentified nationally syndicated radio show inappropriately broadcast the emergency signal. AT&T says it and a few other providers picked it up.

AT&T declined to answer questions about how decisions are made whether to air an emergency alert and why it took several hours to get it removed. The company also could not explain why customers were unable to change the channel.

FEMA has yet to say how many states were affected, but 11Alive saw complaints on social media from viewers in at least six states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas.

“Who’s controlling, who’s watching the traffic?” questioned security analyst Greg Evans, who is also a U-verse customer. As the morning rolled on, Evans began to question whether the system had been hacked.

“Anything electronic you can hack into it. If it has an internet IP address, you can hack into it,” said Evans.

AT&T insists its system was not hacked. Instead FEMA says several providers aired an emergency alert, inappropriately played by a nationally syndicated radio show. AT&T can’t say why the alert hijacked their customers TV’s, and insists the alert shouldn’t have affected phone service.

The FCC says it will also investigate the incident.

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