DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'Is this a great country, or what?' Category

HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

10th January 2016

Eight Miles High

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Meet Sparky, a Bison That Was Struck by Lightning in 2013

5th January 2016

Read it.

Sparky is now 11 and weighs 1,600 pounds, walking with a limp, according to an announcement made today by the USFWS.

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Thought for the Day

3rd January 2016

Scott Adams understands the dialectic.

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How a 23-Year-Old Beat United Airlines

1st January 2016

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Aktarer Zaman, now 23, didn’t back down when United Airlines (UAL) and Orbitz sued him a little over a year ago for opening a website called Skiplagged.com to help travelers find cheap plane tickets.

Sounds to me like a useful service. Typically, when airlines discount seats it’s because people aren’t buying them, so he’s helping them fill up their planes.

United and Orbitz were livid about Skiplagged, calling the start up website “unfair competition” that promoted “strictly prohibited” travel. They filed a federal lawsuit and demanded Zaman pay them $75,000 in lost revenue.

If it was ‘strictly prohibited’, then how were they able to get the tickets? I smell a rat.

Skiplagged helps travelers find cheap tickets through a strategy called “hidden city” ticketing.

The idea is that you buy an airline ticket that has a layover at your actual destination.

Say you want to fly from New York to San Francisco. You book a flight from New York to Portland with a layover in San Francisco and get off there, without bothering to take the last leg of the flight. Sometimes, that can save you money. Flying this way isn’t always cheapest, but it often is.

Apparently the airline created its own problem. If they want to prevent that sort of thing, they need to adjust their pricing, not sue the guy who is taking advantage of the system that they set up.

Zaman says he and his lawyers realized early on that United’s case was flawed. United claimed Zaman broke the “contract of carriage,” but that’s a contract between passengers and airlines — not third parties like Skiplagged.

You’d think that their lawyers would have realized that. Figuring out who is bound by a contract is something they teach first semester at law school.

“I’m just providing people with information and making them more informed,” he said. “I never saw that as a bad thing, making people be more skilled travelers.”

And indeed it is not a bad thing, but rather a good thing. Access to information is one of the chief ways individual consumers can reverse the ancient advantage that vendors have in any market. This guy ought to get some sort of award.

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Ford files Patent for Rear Tire That Converts Into an Electric Unicycle

29th December 2015

Read it.

Is it just me, or is there something very American about this?

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Where Do Heroes Come From?

28th December 2015

Glenn Harlan Reyholds (“Instapundit”) has an answer.

In my hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., a 15-year-old became a hero the week before Christmas.

Zaevion Dobson, a football player at Fulton High School, threw himself on top of three girls as gang members released a hail of bullets in an apparently random retaliation for a shooting the day before. Zaevion traded his life for the girls’ safety; he died after being struck by a bullet.

Here’s a case where black lives really do matter — this kid gave his life to protect others. That’s what being a hero is all about.

Dobson’s heroism speaks well of his family and his community. Football encourages quick-thinking physicality, but how people react in that split second is a reflection of the values they’ve absorbed over a lifetime. Greater love hath no man, we are told by the Bible, than that he lay down his life for his friends.

We’d like to live in a world where such heroic tendencies are common, but if they were common, then they wouldn’t be heroic, would they? But surely, we’d like to live in a world where selfless heroism is more common.

We would indeed.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

27th December 2015

Come And Go With Me

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Thought for the Day

25th December 2015

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Boston Dynamics Robots Make Reindeer Obsolete

23rd December 2015

Read it. And watch the (slightly disturbing) video.

 

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Elon Musk’s Spacex Falcon 9 Successfully Performs Vertical Rocket Landing After Sending Satellites Into Orbit

22nd December 2015

Read it. And watch the video.

SpaceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer.

Then in an even more astounding feat, it landed the 15-storey leftover booster back on Earth safely.

Single-Stage-To-Orbit is the Holy Grail of rocketry, and appears to have been achieved.

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Thought for the Day

21st December 2015

In case you haven’t noticed, Scott Adams is a National Treasure.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

20th December 2015

Barbara Ann

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

13th December 2015

The House Is Rockin’

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The Teenager Behind the Drone Gun Now Has a Drone-Mounted Flamethrower

8th December 2015

Read it. And watch the video.

A Connecticut teenager named Austin Haughwout created a global stir a few months back when he posted a video of a homemade drone firing a handgun he had attached to the aircraft. Yesterday he upped the ante on weaponized aerial robots, posting a clip to YouTube of a drone with a flamethrower roasting a Thanksgiving turkey.

Like all smart YouTube creators, Haughwout leveraged his fame to entice #brands into paying to sponsor his content. In this case the video was backed by HobbyKing, an online retailer that sells all kinds of parts for DIY drones. No word on who provided the turkey, but the fuel pump for the flamethrower came from Amazon.

‘The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.’

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11-Foot Gator Eats Burglar

8th December 2015

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Sometimes the system works.

A 22-year-old man reportedly out to burglarize a few homes in Brevard County found out the hard way that crime doesn’t pay.

According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, a burglary suspect they were actively looking for on Nov. 13 realized deputies were hot on his trail and chose to hide near Barefoot Bay lake. That decision proved fatal.

While hiding near the water, it seems the burglary suspect, identified as Matthew Riggins, ran afoul of an 11-foot alligator. Seeing easy prey, the gator attacked.

Riggins, the sheriff’s office said, drowned as a result of that attack. His body, however, wasn’t found until 10 days after the initial burglary call came in.

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Apple’s Tim Cook to Receive Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights ‘Ripple of Hope’ Award

1st December 2015

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The Crust like to establish ‘feel-good’ awards like this one and pass them around amongst themselves, just for the warm fuzzies.

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Cleveland to Repay Millions after “Jock Tax” Ruled Unconstitutional by Ohio Supreme Court

30th November 2015

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The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the Cleveland Board of Review last week, cementing the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling that the “jock tax” applied to visiting N.F.L. players violated their due process rights. As a result, the Cleveland city government may be on the hook for millions of dollars owed back to professional athletes, according to data from the Cleveland Collections Agency.

The two former NFL players, Jeff Saturday and Hunter Hillenmeyer, both won their cases against a levy the Tax Foundation calls “arbitrary,” “unrealistic,” and “poorly targeted,” in the Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year. The Court’s decision in the former case struck down the tax Cleveland levied on Saturday even though he did not accompany his team, the Indianapolis Colts, to their game there. Calling the regulation “ambiguous at best,” the justices ordered the city to refund Saturday for the tax applied to his salary because he neither played in the scheduled game nor was present in Cleveland at the time.

In Hillenmeyer’s case, the justices took a more nuanced approach, finding the formula the city used to tax players unconstitutional, not the tax itself. Cleveland, grossly overstepping the bounds of its powers of taxation, argued that a 2% tax levied on the players entire salary, or 1/20th of their total salary, came from a calculation of the amount of games played in the preseason and regular season, 20, with one of those taking place in Cleveland. The court disagreed with this faulty logic, asserting that a NFL player’s total salary is derived from attendance at practices, off-season trainings, and a myriad of other duties.

Heh. Bloodsuckers lose one for once.

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Wu-Tang Clan Sold the Single Copy of Its Secret Album for Millions of Dollars

30th November 2015

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If you’re a hardcore Wu-Tang Clan fan, you can stop combing your couch for loose change and eating instant ramen: the single physical copy of the group’s secret album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has been sold. Forbes reported the album’s sale through online auction house Paddle8 yesterday afternoon, and later confirmed that the album had been sold to a “private American collector” for a total somewhere in the millions.

The auction house hasn’t shared an exact number yet, but it confirmed that the price was high enough to make Once Upon a Time in Shaolin the most expensive single album ever sold. (It’s breaking a record previously held by Elvis Presley — Jack White bought a rare version of his first song ever for $300,000 in January of this year.) The sale was actually made in May, but it took months for the buyer and the Wu to sort out the contractual language and protections surrounding the album. In any case, the sale price is high enough to make you feel a little better about shelling out an extra 10 bucks to hear the new Adele record.

Cue whining by the Usual Suspects about the 1% getting stuff the rest of us can’t.

I am pleased that it was an American collector, not a Russian kleptocrat or a petrodollar Prince or a Slightly-Pink-Chinese tycoon.

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Things to Be Thankful For

26th November 2015

I am thankful for the robust firewall at The Washington Post, so that no matter how strongly tempted I am to post something from their site, I am prevented. God looks after us even when we can’t help ourselves.

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The Reusable Space Rocket Is Nearly Here With Blue Origin’s First Successful Landing

24th November 2015

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Private spaceflight company Blue Origin, helmed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, says it has landed its main rocket, New Shepard, back on Earth after launch. That would make it the first rocket ever to have gently landed and remained intact after taking off into space. It also means that Blue Origin has beaten SpaceX in the race to make the first reusable rocket; the Elon Musk-led space venture has been trying to soft-land its main rocket, the Falcon 9, for the past year.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

22nd November 2015

Creeque Alley

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Stinky Ink Might Thwart Those Package Snatchers

21st November 2015

Lileks discusses home delivery.

Billboards around town are heralding a new Amazon service: They will deliver things to your house in an hour. Makes you want to order a 12-pack of Charmin then stand out on the boulevard hopping up and down when the truck pulls up. I suppose it’s useful for people who don’t want to go the store, but I like going to the store. You go for milk and come back with Green-and-Red Holiday Eggos and Sriracha Yogurt and a shoehorn and a can of Bison chunks for the dog. Delivery cannot provide that sense of random discovery.

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“Frankenfish” Finally Approved for Eating by FDA – Hooray!

19th November 2015

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The AquaBounty company applied to the Food and Drug Administration to get approval for its genetically enhanced salmon back in 1995. Its salmon are modified to using a gene from another fish called ocean pouts which enables it to grow much faster using less feed. The company has jumped through all sorts of hoops to make sure that its fish cannot escape and that it is nutritionally identical to regular salmon. Naturally, the opponents of modern biotech foods lied incessantly about its alleged dangers to the environment and people. At long last, the FDA bureaucrats have mustered the courage to follow actual scientific evidence and ruled today.

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How Apple Makes the Watch

15th November 2015

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While Boeing is happy to provide tours of their Everett, WA facility, Apple continues to operate with Willy Wonka levels of secrecy. In the manufacturing world, we hear rumors of entire German CNC mill factories being built to supply Apple exclusively, or even occasionally hear that one of our supplier’s process experts has been “disappeared” to move to Cupertino or Shenzhen. While we all are massively impressed with the scale of Apple’s operations, there is constant intrigue as to exactly how they pull it all off with the level of fit, finish and precision obvious to anyone who has examined their hardware.

This walkthrough is a detailed narration of what we see in Apple’s Watch Craftsmanship videos. Of course, we only get to see a mere fraction of the process; I’ve tried to provide plausible explanations for the likely steps taking place between the processes shown on film, but these are assumptions and are included only to provide a more satisfying and complete narration.

You might want to go out and re-visit the Apple videos as well, just to appreciate the quality.

Full disclosure: I own Apple stock. (Hee hee hee hee hee….)

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

15th November 2015

Money for Nothing

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Swords to Plowshares

11th November 2015

A great organization, deserving of your support.

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Thought for the Day

11th November 2015

I’m a veteran. Why aren’t you?

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Happy Birthday, USMC

10th November 2015

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iPad Pro Goes on Sale Wednesday!

9th November 2015

Read it.

Between one thing and another, I don’t think I’ve ever bought as much personal Apple hardware in any previous year as I have in this one.

People like Andy are why I own Apple stock.

Owning Apple stock is why I can retire at the end of this year, four years earlier than my plan.

Verbum sapienti sat est.

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US Astronaut Kjell Lindgren Plays Amazing Grace on Scottish-Made Bagpipes on International Space Station

8th November 2015

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I am not making this up.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

8th November 2015

People Got To Be Free

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How Capicola Became Gabagool: The Italian New Jersey Accent, Explained

7th November 2015

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Just in case you were wondering. I know I was.

Just as fascinating is the mutation that Orthodox liturgical expressions underwent from Greek to Russian. Just sayin’.

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SCARY DANCE SUNDAY

1st November 2015

The Skeleton Dance

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Kentucky Judge Rules in Favor of Shooting Down Snooping Drones

28th October 2015

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Remember that guy in Kentucky who was arrested in July for shooting down a neighbor’s drone that was allegedly hovering over his property? He was charged with wanton endangerment and criminal mischief.

A judge has tossed out the charges.

You fly a drone over my property, that is trespass, pure and simple, and you will get what trespassers get in Texas: a bullet. Or maybe two.

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Black Friday: REI Closes 143 of Its Stores and Pays Employees to Go Outside Instead

27th October 2015

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In a letter to employees, Jerry Stritzke, REI CEO, said that for 76 years, REI has been dedicated to a life outdoors, so it is using the biggest shopping day of the year to remind customers and staff of this. “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us,” Mr Stritzke wrote.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

25th October 2015

Bang on the Drum All Day

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‘Cards Against Urbanity’ Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

23rd October 2015

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Fans of the card game “Cards Against Humanity” and urban planning will doubtlessly get a real kick out of “Cards Against Urbanity,” which—if you haven’t heard of it before—officially sanctioned spinoff game that includes cards like “The Mayor got in trouble for crowdsourcing ________” and “The city council recently banned ________” and in the opposite pile “The word ‘vibrant'” “NIMBYs” and “Brad Pitt pretending to be an architect.” It just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its successful Kickstarter funding (it raised $28,000) and its inventors are touting it as an effective learning tool, in addition to, clearly, being the most fun.

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Interview With Scott Adams

18th October 2015

Watch it. Seriously. WATCH IT.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

18th October 2015

Achy Breaky Heart.

Feelin’ a bit country.

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Paramount Releases Over 100 Free Movies on YouTube

18th October 2015

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Cinephiles rejoice! Paramount Pictures recently released over 100 films on a free Youtube channel called the “Paramount Vault.”

The film studio dates all the way back to 1912 and is responsible for classics like Psycho (1960), The Godfather (1972), Clueless (1995) and the first film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Wings (1927). Unfortunately, you won’t find any of those films on the Vault (though Paramount does provide clips). Most of the archive consists of lesser known films, which makes it more suited for discovering new favorites than re-watching old classics.

The Vault includes works from a range of eras and genres: you can check out Noah Baumbach’s low key 2007 comedy-drama Margot at the Wedding, see John Cusack get captured by pirates in the goofy Hot Pursuit (1987), or watch Elvis Presley belt it out in 1958’s King Creole.

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Lockheed Mounted A Laser Turret On Business Jet

16th October 2015

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It had to happen.

One promise of the technology: defending larger airplanes, much like machine gun turrets protected bombers in World War II. Only this time, instead of shooting down fighter jets, the lasers could also stop missiles and drones.

Me want.

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Thought for the Day

14th October 2015

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Floyd Zaiger Fruit Innovator to the World

14th October 2015

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Zaiger, 85, is arguably the most famous plant breeder alive today. From his farm west of Modesto, he has created novel new fruit – like the pluot – that grace tables around the world. He has also improved familiar varieties, such as creating plums that can weather an intercontinental voyage.

These innovations have revolutionized an increasingly global fruit industry, earning him a reputation among farmers and fellow fruit experts that is hard to overstate.

“Big, with all capital letters,” suggested Tom Gradziel, a geneticist and professor of plant sciences at UC Davis. “We’re all beneficiaries, and by we I mean the public in general and me as a breeder.”

Just waiting for the ecoFascists to get around to targeting him….

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Woman Fights Off Intruder With Samurai Sword

12th October 2015

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The Indianapolis Star reports 43-year-old Karen Dolley of Indianapolis threw punches until she had the man cornered during the Thursday night break-in. She then kept him subdued with a Japanese sword she keeps near her bed.

Dolley says she learned to fight as a teenager in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group that recreates skills of the Middle Ages. She also skates with roller derby team Naptown Roller Girls.

Sometimes the old ways are best.

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The Uncelebrated Places Where America’s Farm Economy Is Thriving

12th October 2015

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We consume their products every day but economists give them little attention, and perhaps not enough respect. Yet America’s agriculture sector is not only the country’s oldest economic pillar but still a vital one, accounting for some 3.75 million jobs — not only in the fields, but in factories, laboratories and distribution. That compares to about 4.3 million jobs in the tech sector (which we analyzed last month here). Net farm income totaled $108 billion in 2014, according to preliminary figures from the USDA, up 24% from 2004.

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HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

11th October 2015

Chain Gang

Hey, work’s been gettin’ to me….

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Lockheed Martin’s Modular ATHENA Laser Weapon Is Headed to Production

10th October 2015

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The US military already has a few high-powered laser weapons at its disposal, but it’s about to get a hell of a lot more. Earlier this week, defense contractor Lockheed Martin began production of its modular, Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser system for the US Army — a weapon that’s expected to roll out on the battlefield sometime next year.

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Us: Man’s Cancer Detected After Shark Attack

8th October 2015

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“They had discovered a growth, or a tumour, on my right kidney about the size of a walnut,” Mr Finney said. “If this didn’t happen with the shark, causing me to go in with this chest pain, I would have never known about this cancer.”

Well. There it is.

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10-Year-Old Texas Girl Kills 13-Foot, 800-Pound Alligator With Crossbow

7th October 2015

Read it.

Sometimes the old ways are best.

Don’t mess with Texas.

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A Die-In to Kill For

5th October 2015

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The Twin Cities Marathon went off without a hitch yesterday. The perfect weather didn’t hurt a bit. The Star Tribune reports that Kenyans placed first, second, and third among the men competing in the race. An Ethiopian joined two Kenyans in the top three among the women. A good time was had by all. Black Lives Matter could not be reached for comment.

The Black Lives Matter crew also staged a die-in to kill for. The photograph published by the Star Tribune may provoke inappropriate laughter. The casting might be deemed racially insensitive. From the looks of the photograph, men of pallor were vastly overrepresented among the theatrical decedents.

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