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Facebook jail, Grant's Tomb, Für Elise, why McDonalds ice cream machines are always broken
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Published Tuesday, April 27, 2021 @ 12:01 AM EDT
Apr 27 2021

I'm scheduled to be released from Facebook "jail" today, a week after I was suspended from the social networking platform for a satirical cartoon I posted six years ago that supposedly violated "Community Standards." My only guess is that it popped up in the daily "Memories" feed and got tagged there. Bear in mind, the post was perfectly okay in 2015, when I shared it from another account.

Ah, Community Standards... a vague set of rules established to protect Facebook from criticism that it harbors Bad People Thinking Bad Thoughts. But the standards are subjectively interpreted, and randomly and arbitrarily enforced by buggy AI software that doesn't understand the concepts of satire, sarcasm, and parody.

I was suspended two years ago for this picture, which Facebook's artificial intelligence bots tagged as "hate speech":

It's an obvious, self-deprecating male joke. I was offending men? Women? The dog?

Facebook has an appeal process, and for several times each day in the past week I stated my case in the form supplied, hit the send button, and received this:

I think it's hard coded into the page.

What's particularly frustrating is the whole banning business is totally opaque. You're told you can't post for a specified period of time, and then are directed to review the Community Standards to make certain you don't do it again. But in many cases, Facebook doesn't tell you what it was you were doing that triggered the censorbot: violating some advertising rule, promoting hate speech, etc. It's like being pinched by the feds, having them hand you the U.S. Code, and telling you to read it to discover why you were arrested.

And of course, there's no way to actually contact a human being at Facebook. If you go to the page to report a problem and send them the details, you just get a pop-up acknowledging submission.

The guy in the video sums up the whole thing. Understandably NSFW language, but it's no worse than some of the stuff that appears on Facebook that, for some reason, doesn't get flagged for violating community standards:

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Thought of the day: "I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything. I thank you for your hearty welcomes and good cheers." (Known as Grant's perfect speech.)
-Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant, April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) (More Ulysses S. Grant quotes)
Speaking of dead presidents... on this day in 1994, Richard M. Nixon was buried on the grounds of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.

Contemporary Thought of the Day: Just think, in 30 years this country will be run by people who were home schooled by alcoholics.

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Among other things, today is Babe Ruth Day, Marine Mammal Rescue Day, Matanzas Mule Day, Morse Code Day, National Devil Dog Day, National Prime Rib Day, National Tell a Story Day, International Design Day, and World Tapir Day.

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On this date in 1810, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59, Bia 515) for solo piano, commonly known as Für Elise. One of his most popular compositions, and one of the most famous piano pieces of all time, it was not published during his lifetime, only being discovered (by Ludwig Nohl ) 40 years after his death.

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On this day in 1897, Grant's Tomb was dedicated. Officially the General Grant National Memorial, President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia Grant are entombed there. Thus, "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?" is a pedantic, trick question. No one is buried there.

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Sheena Easton (b. Sheena Shirley Orr, 27 April 1959) is 62 today. She had 15 US Top 40 singles, seven US top tens and one US No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1981 and 1991.

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The current junior United States Senator from New York, Cory Booker, (b. Cory Anthony Booker, April 27, 1969) is 52 today. Notable quote: "Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children." (More Cory Booker quotes)

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On this date in 1981, Xerox introduced the first commercially available computer mouse.

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On this date in 2011, the 2011 Super Outbreak devastated parts of the Southeastern United States, especially the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. 205 tornadoes touched down on April 27 alone, killing more than 300 and injuring hundreds more.

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Florida man indicted for selling over $1 million worth of toxic COVID-19 'miracle cure' that was bleach.

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Why the world should worry about India. The world's largest vaccine producer is struggling to overcome its latest COVID-19 surge—and that's everyone's problem.

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When you see a headline like Biden isn't banning meat, USDA chief says, you just know it's just another conservative delusion.

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Now this is great investigative journalism, no sarcasm intended: the REAL reason McDonalds' ice cream machines are always broken.

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This looks interesting, but is it really necessary? Of course, the original 1961 film was a yet another take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which itself was based on the 1562 narrative poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet and a 1556 work by William Painter.

And speaking of movies, the television rating for the Oscars® plunged 58% from 2020, with less than ten million viewers tuning in.


Categories: Computers, Cory Booker, Covid-19, Facebook, Florida, Ice Cream, Ludwig Nohl, Ludwig van Beethoven, McDonald's, Oscars, Republicans, Richard Nixon, Romeo and Juliet, Sheena Easton, Steven Spielberg, Ulysses S. Grant, Weather, West Side Story, Xerox


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The Osmond Misinterpretation, innumeracy, strawberries...
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Published Monday, April 26, 2021 @ 12:33 AM EDT
Apr 26 2021

With all the police shootings and references to "bad apples," this is worth revisiting..

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Thought of the day: "I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves."
-Ludwig Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) (More Ludwig Wittgenstein quotes)

Along those lines, Experts say humanity faces a grim and "ghastly future"– state of planet is much worse than most people understand. But then, if you're not rich, good news: You're probably getting a tax cut.

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AP Fact Check- all the news that didn't happen last week.

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Millions are skipping their second doses of COVID vaccines. More than 5 million people, or nearly 8% of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccine campaign. Meanwhile, virus 'swallowing' people in India; crematoriums overwhelmed. And Alaska Airlines has banned Alaska state senator Lora Reinbold for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy.

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IRS is holding millions of tax returns, delaying refunds. We filed with TurboTax the first day the IRS began accepting returns, and had our refund in just ten days.

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Innumeracy: Wandering through the produce department of Giant Eagle over the weekend, I strolled past a rather large display of fresh strawberries. There were two groups: one pound containers, which appeared to be selling faster than the adjacent two pound packages. The sign said the one pound packages were on sale: two for $6. The two pound packages were $4.99. So the one pound packages cost $3 per pound, while the two pound packages were about $2.50 per pound. Canned and packaged goods on the self usually have a unit cost on their price stickers which show the cost of the item per ounce. Take a close look the next time you're at the store... that "large economy size" actually costs more than the "standard" size.

Speaking of grocery stores, I was engaged in a discussion with a lady in the checkout line who was asserting that cats were better overall pets than dogs. I have nothing against cats, but dogs are indisputably better companions; it's intrinsic to their make-up. Compare a 20 pound dog to a 150 pound dog. Aside from size, they're, well, dogs. Compare a 20 pound cat to a 150 pound cat. The former is a house pet, the latter is something that's higher on the food chain than you.

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Quotation trivia: "What fresh hell can this be?" is a line that has been attributed many times to Shakespeare but is actually from American author/critic/poet and wit Dorothy Parker. She is reported to have used the phrase when interrupted by a telephone. She then started using it in place of "hello" when answering the phone. In many ways she can be considered the patron saint of all tech support workers. (More Dorothy Parker quotations.)

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This would be funny if it weren't a direct threat to our democracy:

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Don't be evil: Google shifted more than $75.4 billion (£63 billion) in profits out of the Republic using the controversial "double-Irish" tax arrangement in 2019, the last year in which it used the loophole.

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Cheerleader's Snapchat rant leads to 'momentous' Supreme Court case on student speech. ...an adolescent outburst and the adult reaction to it has arrived at the Supreme Court, where it could determine how the First Amendment's protection of free speech applies to the off-campus activities of the nation's 50 million public school students.

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Why are there no horse-sized rabbits?

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Among other things, today is Alien Day, Audubon Day, Get Organized Day, Hug a Friend Day, Hug an Australian Day, International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, National Dissertation Day, National Help a Horse Day, National Kids and Pets Day, National Pretzel Day, National Richter Scale Day, National Static Cling Day, Pesach Sheni, and World Intellectual Property Day.

On this date in 1986, a nuclear accident occurred at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history both in terms of cost and casualties, and is one of only two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven —the maximum severity— on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. The initial emergency response, together with later decontamination of the environment, ultimately involved more than 500,000 personnel and cost an estimated 18 billion Soviet rubles— roughly US$68 billion in 2019, adjusted for inflation.

Remembering Vic Perrin, (April 26, 1916 – July 4, 1989) American radio, film, and television actor, perhaps best remembered for providing the "Control Voice" in the original version of the television series The Outer Limits (1963–1965).


Carol Burnett (b. April 26, 1933) is 88 today. Famous quote: "Having a baby is like taking your lower lip and pulling it over the top of your head." (More Carol Burnett quotes.)


Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs, Germanized as Melania Knauss, on April 26, 1970) is 51 today.

Bobby Rydell (b. Robert Louis Ridarelli, April 26, 1942) is 79 today.

Giorgio Moroder (b. Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, April 26, 1940) is 81 today. An Italian composer, songwriter, and record producer, he has been called the "Father of Disco", and is credited with pioneering euro disco and electronic dance music. His work with synthesizers had a large influence on several music genres such as Hi-NRG, Italo disco, new wave, house and techno music.

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Andy Borowitz: Trump blasts Biden for firing almost no one in first hundred days. At the rate Biden is going, Trump said, "He's going to be looking across his desk at the same losers the entire time he's in office."

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I didn't watch the Academy Awards last night because the "pre-game" show featuring performances of the nominated songs left me underwhelmed. It reminded me of an Oscar performance so sublime that I remember it clearly 42 years later. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, let's return to those thrilling days of yesteryear to the 51st Annual Academy Awards (1979), when they really knew how to pull out all the stops and put on a show. With lyrics by Fred Ebb and music by Larry Grossman, "Oscar's Only Human (Not Even Nominated)" featured Steve Lawrence and Sammy Davis Jr. performing a medley of outstanding songs that were not even nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar®.

If your song didn't win the Academy Award
And you're feeling dejected and deflated,
Imagine the shape you might have been in
If you hadn't even been nominated.

Running an impressive ten minutes, the Academy's music branch initially protested the segment and urged it be dropped from the ceremony. It remained after producer Jack Haley Jr. threatened to quit and take first-time emcee Johnny Carson with him.


Categories: Alphabet, Andy Borowitz, Bobby Rydell, Carol Burnett, Cats, Chernobyl, Covid-19, Dogs, Dorothy Parker, First Amendment, Google, Ireland, IRS, Ludwig van Beethoven, Melania Trump, Strawberries, Supreme Court, Taxes, Vic Perrin


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National Day of Reason in Unreasonable Times...
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Published Thursday, May 07, 2020 @ 12:04 AM EDT
May 07 2020

Today is Thursday, May 7, the 128th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 238 days remain until the end of the year.

Let no man boast himself that he has got through the perils of winter till at least the seventh of May.
-Anthony Trollope

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Among other things, today is Make-A-Book Day, National Barrier Awareness Day, National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, National Cosmopolitan Day, National Day of Prayer, National Day of Reason, National Roast Leg of Lamb Day, National Tourism Day, Paste Up Day, and World Password Day.

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Today is The National Day of Reason, a secular celebration for humanists, atheists, and other secularists and freethinkers in response to the National Day of Prayer, a legal holiday in the United States. The day is celebrated on the first Thursday in May of every year, to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, which many atheist and secular groups view to be unconstitutional. The purpose of the National Day of Reason is to "celebrate reason—a concept all Americans can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship." The National Day of Reason is also meant to help build community among the non-religious in the United States. This year, the U.S. House introduced House Resolution 947 to recognize today as a National Day of Reason. The resolution was introduced by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and cosponsored by fellow Congressional Freethought Caucus members Huffman (D-CA), Holmes Norton (D-DC), and McNerney (D-CA). In related news, this is the Secular Week of Action.

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Remembering Darren McGavin (May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006), whose 1972 television film The Night Stalker was the highest-rated original TV movie on US television up to that time, earning a 33.2 rating and 48 share.

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On this date in 1824, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 was first performed in Vienna. The symphony is regarded by many critics and musicologists as Beethoven's greatest work and one of the supreme achievements in the history of western music.

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On this date in 1967, The Mamas and the Papas' "Monday, Monday" reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for three weeks. It was the group's only #1 hit.

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Remembering Edwin H. Land (May 7, 1909 – March 1, 1991), American scientist and inventor, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation. He invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light, a practical system of in-camera instant photography, and the retinex theory of color vision, among other things. His Polaroid instant camera went on sale in late 1948 and made it possible for a picture to be taken and developed in 60 seconds or less.

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Remembering Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 – December 12, 1985).

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Remembering Jimmy Ruffin (May 7, 1936 – November 17, 2014)

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NASA working with Tom Cruise to film movie on the International Space Station. Cruise narrated the 2002 IMAX documentary film Space Station 3D, which was filmed by astronauts during the assembly of the International Space Station. A short science fiction film named Apogee of Fear was filmed on the space station in 2008 by Richard Garriott, who paid for his trip to orbit on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

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What your morning coffee really does to your brain. To get the most positive impacts of your daily caffeine intake, drink coffee between 10 in the morning and 12 noon or between 2 in the afternoon and 5 in the evening. Or, do as I do, use it as your sole beverage.

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Trump quote of the day: "Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon."

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The urgent quest for a coronavirus treatment involves door-to-door blood collection and a llama named Winter.

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Conservative militia group prepares for societal collapse by training as hairstylists, nail technicians. Ok, it's The Onion, but these days, who knows?

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New York Rabbi claims hot air from hair dryer will kill Coronavirus

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A frontline nurse treating coronavirus in New York has claimed that patients are "literally being murdered" by medical negligence and mismanagement every day, but that "nobody cares because they're all minorities."

Another nurse:

I will give zero apologies for what I'm about to say because while we're busy working to save people's lives we're also growing really concerned about the conspiracy theory BS that's seeming to become a bigger problem than #covid19. We don't have time while we're working to save lives to also be on social media explaining, with the depth of knowledge most of us have acquired over years and decades, how to understand with scrutiny the science of everything that's happening right now and why the science is so important. So, if you don't know how to keep a #SARSCoV2 patient alive and you're posting your opinion on vaccines, population control, Bill Gates, shutdown hoax, deep state, your personal liberty to go out in public without a mask or whatever bullsh*t crap fake news is about to come next let me just say this… The health care professionals I know, including myself, give the SAME high quality heart and soul, brains and brawn, care to the victim and the drunk driver. We WILL fight for your life if you end up on life support whether you got #coronavirus accidentally or because your dumb ass went out to protest the lockdown without a mask. So, have a little respect and know that if you don't know what the f**k you're talking about it's okay to just shut the f**k up right NOW. This is not a joke.
-Nurse Eric

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"We are not essential. We are sacrificial." A New York City subway conductor who had Covid-19 returns to work.

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The President Is Unraveling. The country is witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of Donald Trump... the past dozen days have proved we're at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live.

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Barack Obama will headline a televised prime-time commencement address for the Class of 2020. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC will simultaneously air the special May 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern along with more than 20 other broadcast and digital streaming partners.

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A student once asked anthropologist Margaret Mead, "What is the earliest sign of civilization?" The student expected her to say a clay pot, a grinding stone, or maybe a weapon.

Margaret Mead thought for a moment, then she said, "A healed femur."

A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. A healed femur shows that someone cared for the injured person, did their hunting and gathering, stayed with them, and offered physical protection and human companionship until the injury could mend.

Mead explained that where the law of the jungle- the survival of the fittest- rules, no healed femurs are found. The first sign of civilization is compassion, seen in a healed femur.
-Ira Byock

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Irish return an old favor, Helping Native Americans battling the virus. More than 170 years ago, the Choctaw Nation sent $170 to starving Irish families during the potato famine. A sculpture in County Cork commemorates the generosity of the tribe, itself poor. In recent decades, ties between Ireland and the Choctaws have grown. Now hundreds of Irish people are repaying that old kindness, giving to a charity drive for two Native American tribes suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday, the fund-raiser has raised more than $1.8 million to help supply clean water, food and health supplies to people in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation, with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from Irish donors, according to the organizers.

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The coronavirus has mutated and appears to be more contagious now, new study finds. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed, but the researchers noted that news of the mutation was of "urgent concern" considering the more than 100 vaccines in the process of being developed to prevent Covid-19.

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COVID-19 Strategy: The Japan Model... Has Japan found a viable long-term strategy for the pandemic?

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Trump asks why taxpayers should help bail out blue states. Maybe because most of the states who pay more money to the federal government than they receive are blue states. Sen. Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky ranks third in the most money received from the federal government, receiving $148 billion more than it contributes.

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New research shows a rise in food insecurity without modern precedent. Among mothers with young children, nearly one-fifth say their children are not getting enough to eat, according to a survey by the Brookings Institution, a rate three times as high as in 2008, during the worst of the Great Recession.

Things are getting really rough out there. Please consider donating to Feeding America.


Categories: Anne Baxter, Covid-19, Darren McGavin, Donald Trump, Edwin H. Land, Ira Byock, Irish, Jimmy Ruffin, Kentucky, Leonard Bernstein, Ludwig van Beethoven, Mamas and the Papas, Medicine, Mitch McConnell, Music, National Day of Reason, Native Americans, The Onion, Tom Cruise, YouTube


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