Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bottle sources

Today's alliteration aberration, "Bigger, better bottle bill battles bullies," features some weird things we do and drink:

The case of 12 "Frosted," "limited edition" 750 ml "exquisitely handcrafted with Swarovski Crystals" corked glass bottles of "THE ORIGINAL" Bling H2O, seen at right, costs $419.40.

It contains water. Check out

The video below ends with a Web site that the cool dudes at the Surfrider Foundation Action Network want you to visit.
If you actually visit the Web site, you get a "Campaign Unavailable" message.
Not cool, dude. Not cool.

News sources:

* "The real cost of bottled water" -- San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 18, 2007. Scary stuff.

* "Recycling Proposal Has Fizz, Leaving Proponents Hopeful" -- New York Times, March 21 of a "Hopeful" 2007. I wonder how that went.

* "Bottle politics" -- Freeman editorial of March 17, 2008

Other sources:

I don't drink bottled water. I drink Vitamin Water, because I like to pretend that I'm healthy by paying two bucks for sugar with color and water. And the bottles are not recycled. They're neatly piled up on the back of my car.

Making cents makes no sense

If you've read "Bigger, better bottle bill battles bullies" and actually wondered why it costs almost a dime to make a nickel and almost two pennies to make a penny, "60 Minutes" has an answer for you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Attack of the LOLCATS

When newspaper columnists whimsically write about kitty killing, they don't fear letters to the editor from animal groups, or calls from Brian Shapiro, D-Woodstock.

Newspapers columnists fear being replaced by the very animals they are writing about.

Poetic justice via LOLCATS:

I’M IN UR NEWSPAPER WRITIN MAH COLUM -- The Houston Chronicle, June 6, 2007.

Breaking news (from Liberty City)

The New York Times' Seth Schiesel had a story in the Arts section on Monday that started like this:

"I was rolling through the neon deluge of a place very like Times Square the other night in my Landstalker sport utility vehicle, listening to David Bowie’s “Fascination” on the radio. The glittery urban landscape was almost enough to make me forget about the warehouse of cocaine dealers I was headed uptown to rip off."

The story, a rave review of Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto IV" was teased on the front page of the Times.

"'Grand Theft Auto IV' is a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun," Schiesel wrote.

According to the Associated Press, "the latest entry in the controversial video game franchise could be the most lucrative launch in entertainment history."

The AP has video, but it's not offensive enough. So here's one that will hopefully offend you.

The game is rated "M" for "Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Use of Drug and Alcohol."

See you in Liberty City.

Rockstar's Web site is not bad, either.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Emoticons make me :(

A front page story in the Freeman today sadly noted, ":("

The story, ":( TIME FOR TEEN WRITING: Informalities of the electronic age turning up in school assignments," stated:

"Despite best efforts to keep school writing assignments formal, two-thirds of teens admit in a survey that emoticons and other informal styles have crept in."

I am, therefore, obligated to write an essay about this, using only sad faces:


As you can see, it took me a whole 6 seconds to "write" this, thanks to

Take that, English!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

These sources will make you sick

What follows are some sources and news stories misused in the creation of "Health care system good (for system)":

* "$1 million set aside for hospitals" -- Daily Freeman, April 15, 2008.

* "ER Wait Times Getting Longer" -- Forbes online, Jan. 15, 2008

* Kingston's City Hall Web site

* The trail of cigarette butts

* Triage

* Dr. Donohue, "To Your Good Health"

* "Obstetricians may avoid births due to lawsuit threats," -- The (New Orleans) Times Picayune, March 27, 2008

* Patients' Rights in New York State

"Choosy Mothers Choose Caesareans" -- Time Magazine, April 17, 2007

"Rates of C-sections have been climbing each year in the past decade in the U.S., reaching a record high of 31% of all live births in 2006."

"More Women Delivering Babies by Caesarean Section" ABC News, March 24, 2008

Feeling better?

I didn't think so.

The sign

The sign illustrating today's column online was made by yours truly, after modifying a no-cell phone sign.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stranger than fiction

Remember The Onion's spoof "9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says"?

The Associated Press reported today that "Al-Qaida No. 2 says 9/11 theory propagated by Iran"

Those wackos sure are wacky.

Here's the Onion's video.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

The Onion's 'News Network' was recently featured by The New York Times Magazine.

And by the way, this is not the first time Onion 'news' have become almost reality.

"Hershey's Ordered to Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion" ran Aug. 3, 2000, a good two years before New York City attorney Sam Hirsch filed a lawsuit against McDonald's on behalf of obese children.

The Onion's nasty and hilarious humor can be best summed up in a trailer for its upcoming movie, coming never to a theater near nowhere.

I would say it's rated R (and not because it features Steven Seagal).
The New York Times posted it on its site. How irresponsible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

David J. Hyatt

Longtime Freeman colleague David J. Hyatt died on Sunday. He was 58.
He is survived by his sister Jane Rifenbary of Kingston, stepmother Marion Hyatt of Kingston, two nephews and many friends.

Dave was the systems manager at the Freeman. He saved my computer-challenged behind many times, always with a laugh.

We're going to miss him dearly.

Friday, April 18, 2008

From head to page

The big question in everyone's head is not what's going to happen to the economy or the war or your mortgage, since those are irrelevant topics.

The big question is, how does the Freeman produce a page?

I'm glad you asked.

Here's how it happens in the Life section:

Story meeting

The Lifers -- Bonnie Langston, Blaise Schweitzer and the alleged animal-hating Life Editor -- hold a meeting in which they discuss ideas for upcoming stories.

The meeting goes something like this:

Editor: "Do you have a quarter? The soda machine ate mine."
Reporter: "I don't have time for this. I have an interview in five minutes."

Somehow, a story assignment comes out of that meeting. The reporters then do something called reporting and the editor goes back to sleep.

The reporter then proceeds to spend his and her entire day chasing sources, talking to people, taking notes, writing stories and waking the editor up.

Once the story begins to take shape, the reporter and the editor talk about what images can work for the story. For our Earth Day story on Sunday, for instance, Blaise imagined a guy holding the Earth, an idea he then passed on to photographer Tania Barricklo while the editor was sleeping.

Here is the end result:


Here's how Tania was able to set that shot:

Once the story and the photos are in, the editor gets a "dummy page" (newspaper-speak for "page were dummie draws things"), which looks like this:


Then the editor is supposed to actually do the page, but more times than not, he's too busy writing blogs about how much works he does, so he delegates his work to somebody else, adds a typo, takes credit for the whole thing and goes back to sleep.

The end result is this:

Life front April 20,2 008


Because I'm nice, I made sure you won't be able to read the text in that image.

Grab a copy of the paper Sunday.

I'm going back to sleep.

Professor Louie & The Cromatix

Today's Preview has a review of Professor Louie & The Cromatix's new album, "As the Crow Flies" which reviewer David Malachoski called "impressive."

Here they are, from left, Professor Louie, Frank Cambell, Josh Colow, Gary Burke and Miss Marie in front.

And here are samples from that album.

1. "Need For You"

2. "Daughters & Sons"

3. "Motherless Child"

4. "Century Of The Blues"

5. "Some Bad News"

6. "Clouds In My Heart"

7. "One More Day"

8. "Look What You Done"

9. "Bullfrog"

10. "Jackie"

11. "Sailin'"

12. "Mr. Luck"

13. "Restless Islands"

14. "Over The Edge"

15. "Tear Of The Clouds"

16. "No Division (Heart & Soul)"

17. "Life Is A Carnival"

Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips' friends are giving him a concert Sunday.

Blaise Schweitzer talked to folk singer-songwriters Pete Seeger and Dar Williams about their friend.

Here's a clip of Utah doing what he does.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's the law!

Today's Life lesson in irrelevance is about our laws. It doesn't get any more irrelevant than that.

Here are links to some real stories used in the making of the column, in case you are wondering if anything was made up:

Little People Oppose Events In Which Dwarfs Are Objects
-- Associated Press, via New York Times, July 3, 1989

The activity, which the Associated Press called a sport in its news stories, was banned in Florida before New York passed its own ban. The rest of the country, as you know, is busy doing other things, like bear wrestling.

Gov. Mario Cuomo signs bans on dwarf tossing and dwarf bowling
-- New York Times, July 25, 1990:

Cuomo signed, according to the Times, "A bill outlawing 'dwarf tossing' and 'dwarf bowling' in bars. In dwarf tossing a midget is strapped in a harness and hurled on a rubber mattress; in dwarf bowling a midget is strapped to a skateboard and rolled down an alley into a set of pins."

United Nations: Rights Panel Upholds 'Dwarf Tossing' Ban
-- New York Times, Sept. 28, 2002

Oh, Mo.! Say it ain't so:
Mo. Asked to Ban 'Cage Fighting' by Kids
-- Associated Press, April 4, 2008.

Lawmakers propose crosswalk cell phone ban
-- Chicago Sun Times, April 3, 2008


To be fair to the people of Tennessee, atheists are not the only ones banned from running for office, nevermind the obvious unconstitutionality of that measure (something about a so-called 14th Amendment, blah, blah).

Note that the measure applies to deniers of the "future state of rewards and punishment," which basically excludes everyone who's not Christian or Muslim. So Conn. Sen. Joe Lieberman can't run for office in Tennessee.

Clergymen, the Constitution further says, can't hold office in the state's Legislature. That takes care of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

To boot, people who hold duels can't run for office either, which makes one wonder just what the Dickens is going on in Tennessee.

That, as you know, would have banned Founding Father Alexander Hamilton from running for office in the state, if only he weren't killed by Vice President Aaron Burr.

And that's why Tennessee ends up with people like Al Gore.

But don't take my word. Take the word of the Constitution of Tennessee:

"Break the law" law

Article II, section 2, of Iowa's Constitution:

Privileged from arrest. SEC. 2. Electors shall, in all cases except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest on the days of election, during their attendance at such election, going to and returning therefrom.

I love this country.


Isn't "You can't fix stupid" a well known phrase by comedian Ron White?

Yes, it is. Mine was "you can't ban stupid" before it was edited. But that was still to close to the other one, so I'll take the blame for lack of originality in headline writing. I'm also responsible for "Bill Cosby comes to UPAC," a headline that would win an award for stating the obvious if there was ever such a thing.

I noticed the unintended relation when I saw the phrase in print this morning with my face on it. And I don't look like comedian Ron White; I'm not half as funny as he is; and I can't drink half of what he does onstage.

So he can sue me for half of the $0.00 I made for writing the column.
It's the economy, stupid.
Ron White is playing the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston May 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. All seats are $47.75. Buy tickets at UPAC , 601 Broadway, Kingston or by calling (845) 339-6088; at the Bardavon, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, or by calling (845) 473-2072; or online at or by calling. (845) 454-3388.

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oliver's twist

Here are two clips from Monday's Associated Press story about comedian John Oliver.

The headline was from Dwayne Kroohs

Monday, April 14, 2008

Save the (fake) news

The New York Times' business section reported Monday that somebody, apparently from The Wall Street Journal, is buying a bunch of copies of My Wall Street Journal, which will be published Tuesday and looks like this.

"I'd find it amusing if they bought all 250,000," Tony Hendra, editor in chief of the spoof, told the Times. "We could print more."

The "newspaper" also features "ads," like this one.

Which is funny, until you realize that the spoof is $3.95, plus shipping.

Rupert Murdock can have them all.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Animals 'R' Us

There was some strong reaction from animal rights activists to my Wednesday column. You'll be reading some of those letters in the Freeman soon.

Although no fake blood was thrown at my body (yet), some of the messages were very angry.

Some made sense.

I also thought some of them missed the point I was trying to make.

So I answered some of their letters, trying not to write "some" so much.

I attached a photo of my mean cat to some of my responses, since he's protective.

Some of them understood, but not because my cat is cute (however, I'm pretty sure Tiny's furry face helped some).

And we started a productive conversation, albeit on the wrong foot at first.

An area group invited me to an upcoming event, an information session with the spay and neuter mobile unit, taking place Sunday at 1 p.m., at Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption at 4628 Route 209, Accord.

The Ulster County First Spay/Neuter Mobile Unit -- which aims to enable the town shelters, pounds, rescue groups and low income individuals to have their animals spay or neuter and vaccinated -- is planning to soon travel to area towns.

So in its aim to help eliminate the hundreds of feral cats that reproduce in the cities and towns, the unit is looking for input to help service the communities of Ulster County and share ideas, information and enthusiasm about the project.

Oh, before you bring your pet, the unit wanted to make clear it will not be conducting surgery on Sunday.

For more information, call Jane at (845) 687-7619.

So we started a conversation, and the column some called "insensitive" served a purpose.

And I'm incredibly relieved I didn't write that I was eating chicken when I wrote the column.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cow tipping and dwarf tossing

Cow tipping:

From "The Statics of Cow Tipping," by Matt Semke of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering and Technology:

"According to these numbers, cow tipping is possible when two people are in on the prank."

Florida Senate bill:

... "It is third-degree felony for person to intentionally drag or fell by tail a bovine animal in organized sports exhibition;"

In Florida, some of you might know, dwarf tossing also is illegal.

As well as in New York.

Soon, the worlds will follow:

United Nations: Rights Panel Upholds 'Dwarf Tossing' Ban --New York Times

Dwarf contest causes row --Manchester Evening News

Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself, since I was exclusively talking about animals.

Stupid human laws for stupid humans might have to be a topic for another day.

Bear wrestling


Section 13A-12-5

Unlawful bear exploitation; penalties.

(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful bear exploitation if he or she knowingly does any one of the following:

(1) Promotes, engages in, or is employed at a bear wrestling match.

From a Times Daily, Ala., news story: "Law enforcement officials point out that the unlawful exploitation of a bear, or bear wrestling, carries a stiffer punishment than child abuse."

Oklahoma: Department of Agriculture, Animal Cruelty Statues, Title 21

Crimes and Punishments Chapter 67 Injuries to Animals

"§ 1700. Bear Wrestling - Horse Tripping.

A. It is unlawful for any person to: 1. Promote, engage in, or be employed at a bear wrestling exhibition or horse tripping event;"


News about Ceasar, the wrestling bear:

"Legal Battle Under Way Over Wrestling Bear Show"

From the story: "The half-ton bear was scheduled to wrestle people at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday..."


"'It's truly disappointing. We advertised in Pennsylvania, Toledo and Columbus. There's going to be a lot of disappointed families,' said Chris Fassnacht."

Animal laws redux II

Resources: -- Middletown no kill shelter and savior of stray New Paltz cats. -- New York City parks authority, where I found this gem:

"§1-04 Prohibited Uses"

"(g) Abuse of Park Animals"

"(1) No person shall within any park (including any zoo area) molest, chase, wound, trap, hunt, shoot, throw missiles at, kill or remove any animal, any nest, or the eggs of any amphibian, reptile or bird; or knowingly buy, receive, have in his or her possession, sell or give away any such animal or egg taken from or killed within any park (including any zoo area)." (emphasis mine.)

Also note the amazing "throw missiles at."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Animal laws redux

Sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction.

Case in point, today's column by yours truly, "Animal laws are pet projects for lawmakers," seems to contain unreal information.
But it's only presented in an unreal way.

Here are some links to stories that points to the truth about mice and men, other animals and the laws about them:

"It's a start" -- Freeman editorial

"Kingston mulls fee for dog adoptions"

"Rosendale may amend animal law to control nuisance cats in town"

"Leash-free dog park to open in September"

Our Towns; Under Siege By Stray Cats And Strangers" -- Cat killing New Paltz story by the New York Times

A gathering threat

There is a growing menace.
Here's a preview.

Thankfully, lawmakers are taking care of things.

I'll explain tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Thompson got bit

British singer-songwriter and amazing guitarist Richard Thompson is NOT coming to the Bardavon, 35 Market St., Poughkeepsie, on April 17 at 8 p.m. for an acoustic evening.

The concert was canceled because Thompson was bit by a scorpion in Mexico, Bardavon Executive Director Chris Silva said today.

"He's OK but has to recover," Silva said.

If you bought tickets, contact the Bardavon Box Office, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie or by calling (845) 473-2072; at the Ulster Performing Arts Center , 601 Broadway Kingston or by calling (845) 339-6088.

You might remember Thompson from his time with Fairport Convention.

As he grew older, his music got better.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed Thompson as 19 on its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time (the winner was Jimi Hendrix).

His work includes more than 40 albums and some of his songs have been recorded by his fans, like Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne and Elvis Costello.

He scored Werner Hertzog's 2005 documentary, "Grizzly Man."

His Web site,, will keep you busy until the concert is rescheduled.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Entrepreneurs 'R' Us

Police: Teen makes stun gun using camera

For some reason, the video has "instructions" on how to make the so-called stun gun.

Which reminds me about my youth and the fact that electric lighters work just as well.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Only in Woodstock

When artists cook, you get a $2,000 loaf of bread.
Read Blaise Schweitzer's "Art of the loaf" in today's Life section. The story is accompanied by a recipe for basic white bread, which won't cost you $2,000.

I'm a quitter

In today's column, "Smoking ban coughs up strange whiff," I make some ridiculous points.

What's not ridiculous is my real decision to quit smoking. I've got two days so far, and many pencils have been chewed. I'm also cranky like Dick Cheney.

So? I'm not claiming success yet. I tried last week and I failed after two days (I ran out of pencils).

I must confess I'm not quitting because of this ban, or the fact that the state budget is bringing up the price through taxes, or because Dick Cheney doesn't care what you think.

Smoking is just nasty, but I've enjoyed it for some reason. I believe that reason is called nicotine.
Today I'm happy I can breath a bit better and unhappy the cravings are making me post blogs at 4:59 a.m.

Soon I'll turn into one of those ex-smokers who give smokers a bad time when they're puffing ("EWWWWW!")

I can't wait.


* "Kingston council approves smoking ban"

* Tobacco Free Action Coalition of Ulster County


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And another one

The crazy guys at The Basement, 744 Broadway, Kingston, are bringing back The Forum tonight, which was the bar that preceded it (The Forum was closed some years ago by THE MAN).

"We thought we'd seen the last of it, but like recurring bronchitis, it's a fear that lives on," says "The Forum" on its MySpace site,

Another one

Today's National Geographic.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

Happy April Fools' Day.

The video is from The Onion, the people who brought you "New Abortion Bill To Require Fetal Consent."