Patterico's Pontifications


Good News Headlines (Updated)

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 6:47 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Firefighters use CPR to save drowning fawn in Oak Grove, Minnesota:

Little tragedies occur every day in nature. On Tuesday, one was in progress in Oak Grove. A pair of twin fawns – so young there were still strands of umbilical cord trailing from their bellies – got trapped in a creek and were about to drown.

‘So blessed.’ Slidell Wal-Mart cashier who walked miles to work given a car after story goes viral:

Singleton, who said she hasn’t owned a car in a decade, has worked at the Wal-Mart on Northshore Boulevard for three years. Slidell Police Officer Brad Peck came across her in the pre-dawn hours Monday as she walked along the U.S. 11 overpass.

“She was really hugging that guardrail, too,” Peck said.

Peck noticed her Wal-Mart uniform and stopped to ask if he could give her a lift. He figured she worked at the Wal-Mart store on Robert Boulevard, the one nearest where they were. But she told him she worked on Northshore Boulevard, some 9 miles from her home.

Child who survived Mall of America fall undergoing further procedures:

The [5 year old boy] boy, named Landen, plunged 40 feet when he was randomly grabbed by Emmanuel Aranda and tossed over the railing.

Aranda has pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack. Landen suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones.

The family’s post says Landen is recovering, his spirit is strong, but there is still a long road of recovery ahead. The GoFundMe site has raised more than $1 million over the past month.

UPDATE: More good news – Yoga instructor saved in Hawaii. Thanks to Dave in the comments.



Celebrity Quote of the Day

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 9:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

International pop star Shakira explaining why she anonymously took a history class at UCLA the summer after a successful concert tour:

“When most celebs need a break from the business, they typically take a real vacation. They travel to a remote destination, relax, and clear their minds.

But Shakira said challenging her mind instead was the ideal getaway after the tour.

“It was such a long tour, I needed a break from me,” Shakira told The Guardian. “The universe is so broad, I cannot be at the center of it. So I decided to go to the university and study history for a summer course, just to kind of switch gears, taste the student life.”

For those so inclined, here’s a link to the Shakira video “She Wolf.”



Celebrity Deaths: Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett Die

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 1:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Farrah Fawcett.

And Michael Jackson.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Please do not run down the recently dead in the comments.


Possible ‘Cow Tipping’ Victim Takes Revenge on Innocent Biker

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 8:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From today’s Denver Post:

“A woman has escaped serious injury and has refused medical treatment after a cow knocked the woman down and walked on her legs in Boulder. Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks ranger Pete Taylor says the woman was riding her bicycle along the South Boulder Creek Trail on Monday when she encountered the cow and stopped to let the animal cross.

Instead, the cow knocked the woman over and stepped on her legs.

Taylor says the woman wasn’t seriously hurt. Her name was not released. “

A Bike Alliance official described the incident as “odd, rare and random.”



Michigan Orders Dad to Get Married or Pay Up

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michigan has a law that requires a birth father to reimburse the state for his child’s state-paid birthing costs, but reimbursement is waived if the father is married to the mother. Gary Johnson, an unwed father, isn’t married to Rebecca Witt, his child’s birth mother, so Michigan billed Johnson $3,800 for their child’s birthing costs. He doesn’t want to pay.

Johnson and Witt say they are going to get married but they want the wedding to occur when she chooses:

“Johnson and Witt said they want to marry eventually, but Witt said she wants her marriage date to be her choice.

“I don’t think anybody should tell me when to get married,” said Witt. “I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.”

Witt and Johnson said they have been struggling since the state started coming after Johnson for the hospital costs. Johnson said he was told he would be billed $500 a month and planned to meet with a caseworker to work out a solution.

“Losing just $10 hurts us,” said Johnson, who makes $8 an hour at a Grand Blanc-area nursery. “We don’t have a car, we don’t even have an oven.”

Johnson said he understood the state wants to promote marriage for parents but he respects Witt’s position. “It’s a woman’s dream to have the best wedding she can have,” he said.”

Witt can wait for a perfect wedding but not to start a family? This couple has a lot bigger problems than worrying about the perfect wedding, and it’s a real-world example of how woefully unprepared some people are to make basic economic and life decisions.



It’s Friday

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 8:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s Friday and the economic news is not good.

California can’t send out tax refunds until February. Bank of America needs another bailout to help cover its Merrill Lynch liabilities, making it the Bank owned by America. Circuit City has given up its efforts to reorganize and is liquidating 567 stores. Hertz and Conoco announced layoffs, and the list could go on. In fact, I think it will go on for the next 12-18 months.

Still … it’s Friday and I’m mellow and not inclined to think about the economy, politics, war, law, or the like. So that leaves Austin cat-blogging.

Ever wonder why they say “Keep Austin Weird”? Maybe because you could see a guy riding a bike with a cat on his back:

“I saw you on the sidewalk this morning. You were riding your bike east on Barton Springs Road. You were listening to an iPod. You had a cat on your back.

It was a gray cat with a fluffy tail and a pink leash around its neck. It was draped across your right shoulder. I think you probably know that, though.

I was amazed. That cat looked so content as you rode right next to four lanes of traffic. How — HOW? — did you get your cat to do that??”

It might even be this guy, unless there’s another Austin guy with a cat on his back:

Guy with Cat

    Photo by Rebecca Sikes, Austin Chronicle.

The economy may be bad but life is good, don’t you think?



Sunrise, Sunset

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 7:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol reportedly had a boy Sunday in Alaska — Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, 7 pounds, 4 ounces. The Palin family has a knack for distinctive names. Congratulations to all.

Meanwhile, the family of Jennifer Seitz — a Florida woman who disappeared Christmas Day from a cruise ship off the Mexican coast — are mourning her loss at sea. The family announced today they believe she took her own life. My condolences on their loss.

Fellow passenger Jim Nestor described Feitz and her husband as having “large and raw personalities”:

“Many of the passengers saw them as contestants on an on-board game called “The Not-So-Newlywed Game,” modeled after a 1960s TV quiz show. The game was also carried on the ship’s closed-circuit TV channel.

“They stood out a lot more than other people,” Nestor, a retired police officer, told NBC.

Nestor, who appeared on the game show with his own wife, said he ran into Raymond Seitz day after his wife was reported missing.

“I had given him my condolences, and he had a plastic bag filled with quarters, and he said to me that he was going to the casino to see if he could change his luck,” Nestor said.”



Kwanzaa 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 7:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 7 days of Kwanzaa began last Friday and end this Thursday, January 1. Americans are celebrating Kwanzaa with events like storytelling in Austin and Denver, a concert in New Orleans, African dancing and music in Seattle, and a range of activities in Detroit. For something slightly different, Miami’s Kwanzaa activities include a “Kwanzaa Prince and Princess Pageant followed by Ashella, an African version of Cinderella.”

This New York Times’ article has a round-up of Kwanzaa events in the New York City area and revisits a “spirited” debate from 5 years ago regarding the merits of Kwanzaa:

“Five years ago, in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled “A Case of the Kwanzaa Blues,” the author and lawyer Debra J. Dickerson raised a stir by questioning the purpose of Kwanzaa.

“With all due respect to those who celebrate it, Kwanzaa feels like a cop-out,” she wrote. “Just as drugs are for those who can’t handle reality, isn’t Kwanzaa for those who can’t handle knowing that our ancestors fueled themselves with Western ideals, Christianity uppermost among them?”

Citing the Afrocentric intentions of Kwanzaa’s founder, the black-studies professor and political activist Maulana (Ron) Karenga, Ms. Dickerson asserted that “Kwanzaa feels as if it is more about thumbing black noses at white America than at embracing the lost cause of resuming our Africanness.”
Ms. Dickerson’s essay prompted a spirited response. In a letter to The Times, Regina Austin retorted that there was “nothing anti-American about Kwanzaa” and added: “African-Americans, whether born here in America, in Africa or elsewhere, have the right to claim Africa as our ancestral home.”

We probably won’t settle that debate here so I’ll let this California Kwanzaa supporter have the last, somewhat confused, word:

“I’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa for many, many years,” said Ms. Bolden-Monifa, who lives in Oakland, Calif., and has written essays about the holiday. “It’s nice to have that connection. You acknowledge that you are an American of African descent, with some connection to the motherland, even if you don’t know where that is.

Her wife, Ruthie Bolden-Monifa, 47, is both African-American and Jewish. The couple, along with their daughter, Ashley, 7, and son Benjamin, 5, celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.

“In many ways, we’re more into Hanukkah and Kwanzaa for the cultural richness than Christmas, which, despite its Christian roots, has become about getting presents,” Ms. Bolden-Monifa said.”

A final note: In writing this post, I couldn’t find as many 2008 Kwanzaa stories as I could for prior years or that I recall reading in the past. My admittedly subjective impression is that there may be fewer Kwanzaa celebrations and/or celebrants. If so, I wonder if it has anything to do with Barack Obama’s popularity among blacks and the fact he openly embraces Christianity.



The Giving Spirit (Updated)

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 4:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Part of Christmas is the spirit of giving and this interview with Simon Cowell of American Idol fame made me think about what that spirit really means:

And speaking of “Idol Gives Back” …

“There won’t be an “Idol Gives Back” this year. With what’s happening in the world, I don’t think it feels right to tell couples with mortgages that they’ve got to start donating money to charities when they’ve got enough problems at home.

The second thing is, looking at “Idol Gives Back” in the future, we are going to have to up the balance of how much money is going to American charities, because I think it’s important that we give more…We will be doing this again, but it just didn’t seem appropriate this year.”

I’m sure this makes sense to Cowell and probably to a lot of people: Why ask people to sacrifice when they’re hurting? But the need for charity is even greater when more people are hurting. It could be that Cowell believes his audience has no ability to make good giving decisions so he won’t ask them to give. If so, I feel sorry for him and the viewers whose judgment he holds in such low esteem.

Here’s a thought: Every year, Cowell could encourage American Idol viewers to give generously of their time and money to charities of their choice, and his show could publicize examples of how giving makes a difference. Alternatively, if Cowell thinks it’s important that American Idol leads the effort, he could start by reducing his salary and the show could donate from its profits to make up for any difference in prior giving. (This shouldn’t be a hardship since a recent report indicates Cowell makes £250,000 a day from his businesses.) They could call it American Idol Really Gives Back.

UPDATE — I think this is a better perspective on giving:

“The markets were crashing and Christmas was coming when Pastor Doug Ferguson stepped up to the pulpit of Houston’s Grace Presbyterian Church with $5,000 in his back pocket. He preached about generosity, neighborly love and the meaninglessness of worldly wealth. Then he handed out $100 bills.

His instructions were simple: Use the money to spread comfort and joy. Show some kindness to strangers. And report back in 90 days on what you did.

Ferguson hoped the assignment would lift his congregants above the fray of financial collapse and refocus their thoughts on the real meaning of Christmas: by investing in people instead of stocks. It wasn’t a unique sentiment from a man of the cloth, but the novelty of his approach inspired a fresh fervor in his flock.

The Sunday morning challenge unleashed creative and charitable impulses that some congregants had been hiding under a bushel. In the weeks that followed, they bought shoes for the homeless and a plane ticket for a woman who couldn’t afford to see her son graduate from boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corps. They invited needy children to build gingerbread houses and sent medical equipment to Third World countries.

But they didn’t stop with their $100 bills. Their investments were fruitful. They multiplied.”

Read and be inspired by the whole thing.



Quote of the Day

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 11:32 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

“I think it would prevent a lot of parental frustration.”

Because it’s really about the parents.


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