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Monday miscellany

Merry Post-Christmas! Happy Pre-New Year! I hope your holidays are being wonderful. Mine are — in large part thanks to you.

  • So in the belated Christmas cheer department … Serious side: Teenager Jeremy Marks, one of the most cosmically abused victims of the “don’t you dare photograph police, you scrofulous peasants” scam, was bailed out by a good Samaritan in time to spend Christmas with his family. The generous Google engineer who got him out of jail also contributed some extra money toward a Merry Christmas. Silly side: Here’s the most ghastly Christmas special of all time. I doubt there’s a human being alive (and not on some seriously mind-altering substance) who could sit through its entire two-hour length. But even if you just watch the opening and a few snippets, it’ll probably stick in your mind for the rest of your days. Um … might want to keep that in mind before you take so much as a peek at it.
  • No surprise: Those “safe” porno-scanners aren’t subject to any safety inspections. Or standards. And the DHS has been … the no-surprise continues … lying through its black and crooked teeth about the alleged certifications.
  • More on a Googler — actually a former Googler — doing good. For privacy this time.
  • I don’t get it . Why was this young man arrested? Isn’t that the way passengers are supposed to be treated these days? Oh. Wait. I see. It’s another case of “government hates the competition.”
  • Another fabulous short video via This one is — truly, truly — “for the children.” I’ve watched it half a dozen times. Can’t get enough of it.
  • While back, when I asked for ideas on what to do with defunct and crumbling stove pellets, Keith from North Idaho suggested making fire starters out of them. At the time I wasn’t inclined to do that, but when I realized how expensive those puppies have become, I changed my mind. Some of the ex-pellets will be put to other uses. But upon Googling (actually StartPaging for greater privacy), I discovered that fire starters are super-easy to make, and can be created out of all manner of materials … old crayons and candles, for instance, mixed with dryer lint or sawdust. More here and here and here.

Over this laid-back weekend I’ve been feasting on dried apricots, watching DVDs, reading, and treating the pups to sessions with their brand-new dog toys — among other things. One book I’m reading is better than I anticipated: Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian is a memoir by Avi Steinberg, a rootless young man who stumbled into a job in a Boston prison. His account is funny, heartbreaking, scary, well-written, and above all an insightful glimpse into prison life and culture. I can see why this one’s getting a lot of attention.

Next up on my reading list: The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (thank you, D&K!). I read an earlier, less comprehensive, version years ago. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have looked better ever since. Can’t wait to delve into this expanded and beautifully crafted volume.


  1. Scott
    Scott December 27, 2010 10:14 am

    It’s illegal to recprd city employees? isn’t that what a cop is? How much time would you get for recording a someone on the garbage crew backing over a trash can? Don’t you get bail money back if you show up for trial?-The article says you don’t-and that you do. That’s just messed up. Great way to build public trust.

  2. Claire
    Claire December 27, 2010 12:51 pm


    Since when do cops care if something is illegal or not? Anything we do that they don’t like can be made automatically “illegal” — disorderly conduct, interfering with an officer, terroristic threats, and … lynching??? Egads. I know we’ve all seen a lot of cases of people harassed and/or arrested on phony charges after videoing cops. But poor Jeremy Marks — just a teenager and a black one, at that — didn’t have a chance. I think he was (and may still be) facing something like 80 years in prison.

    Now that’s a crime.

    As to the bail … never had any personal experience. But I understand that if you don’t have all the bail money yourself and you have to go to a bail bondsman, you put up 10% or thereabouts — and never get it back because that’s the bondsman’s fee for fronting the rest of the bail money. If you skip, then you owe the other 90% as well. You only get all your money back if you or a family member posted bail without using a bondsman. I don’t understand the deal the Google good Samaritan made, either. It sounds as if the court simply reduced the total amount of the bail, but I agree the article left that unclear.

  3. Winston
    Winston December 27, 2010 1:04 pm

    I ended up having the first white Christmas of my life!

    I can already hear the groans from those of you out west and up north…but it almost never happens here in upper dixieland. My dad says the last one in our area was well over 40 years ago back when he was trying to fenegle a BB gun out of his parents.

    Hope you had a good one too, Claire

  4. Scott
    Scott December 27, 2010 1:15 pm

    Winston-we had a white Christmas here as well- not unheard of, but rare. For that matter,it’s been colder than typical here for the last couple of months(so much for global warming)..
    Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life, at least in the places I’ve lived, the cops are fairly decent-at least, so far in the game. I’ve had very little experience with them myself(couple tickets…which is a goldmine for any city). A lot of it may have to do with the fact most places I’ve lived have had very few cops..He’s looking at 80 years? For what..?

  5. Big Wooly
    Big Wooly December 28, 2010 11:05 am

    Claire, I smell a business opportunity. Let’s do a little brain stormin’… Fire Starters…expensive…Claire Wolfe…firebrand… A little creative packaging….
    Let me know when I can place an order!!!

  6. Claire
    Claire December 28, 2010 11:51 am

    LOL! Big Wooly, that’s brilliant. And lord knows I have enough crumbly old stove pellets to start a factory.

    But you’ve already given me one money-making idea (which despite my initial demurrals, i find I’m seriously considering). So maybe next fall for the Firebrand Firestarters, eh? Love that name, though …

  7. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 28, 2010 12:44 pm

    I’d sure love some “Firebrand Firestarters!” The next best thing to start fires with is something you do NOT wish to burn. That seems to ignite all kinds of junk that would otherwise require half a can of BBQ starter to burn.

    On the other hand… the carefully produced shavings of pine wood and wadded up newspapers you intend to start the fire with are only so-so at doing the job. And, of course, the colder the morning, the more stubborn they become.

    Luckily, I’m more pigheaded than any pile of shavings… LOL

  8. Pat
    Pat December 28, 2010 1:47 pm

    One firestarter I made several years ago was a lot of fun for the sheer novelty of it: I filled a “cow patty” mold with straw, added color (brown, of course) to paraffin wax, and poured it over the straw. I was learning to make hard soap at the time so the aromas varied with whatever I had on hand — but, thank goodness, I had no “natural” aroma.

    Not firestarters, but am currently making a number of beeswax candles out of rolled honeycomb sheets — different diameters and different shapes. Easy to make, smells good, and does the job they’re intended at relatively little cost. Knorr Beeswax Products furnished the honeycomb sheets.

  9. Big Wooly
    Big Wooly December 28, 2010 7:00 pm

    Fanning the Flames of Freedom… Igniting Revolution… Fire in the Hearts of Men (and Women)…
    Sorry, couldn’t help myself, it just writes its own copy!

  10. Evyl Robot Soapbox | The Rantings of a Complex Piece of Hardware
    Evyl Robot Soapbox | The Rantings of a Complex Piece of Hardware December 29, 2010 8:12 am

    […] to Claire via Kahr40. […]

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