Facepalm Newsoids 32: Family Values, and More

family values
I see nothing! I hear nothing! I say NOTHING!

Family Values. In South Carolina, Serena Caldwell, age 56 and Ericka Jones, age 27, two day-care workers working for a day-care nursery called Kids Unlimited located in the small town of Prosperity, allegedly “encouraged and directed fourteen 3 and 4 year-olds to fight each other and allowing the violence to proceed without correction”, according to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.  Jones and Caldwell are each charged with multiple counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”. Both have had their employment terminated. There were no serious injuries among the children (13 Nov).

Medical News.  A man is launching a medical malpractice lawsuit after doctors at the University of Washington Medical Centre appeared to be unable to find his appendix and removing part of his lower colon instead. The patient, George Piano, nearly died of sepsis due to a now-leaking lower colon caused by the mishap. Piano’s personal injury lawyer said “I have never heard of [a surgeon] who was unable to locate an appendix.” There were four additional surgeries and multiple hospitalizations needed to repair the original botched operation, and more are on the way to try to reverse the ileostomy and to reconstruct his abdominal wall, according to a spokesman from the University of Washingon. (2 Nov)

Bad Judgement.   A man in his 20s, while in the South Korean city of Jinju attacked a shop clerk with short hair, concluding she must be a feminist. Police say he was drunk and had been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia. (6 Nov)

Government in Action.  The Canadian Department of Natural Resources had commissioned KPMG at the cost of nearly $670,000 so that their consultants could advise them on how to save money on consultants. Professional outsourcing generally has cost the government north of 15 billion dollars across the federal public service, and the current government has been seeking efforts to rein in costs. No other government department had hired consultants for this. (8 Nov)

Labour News 700 Obamacare and Medicare call centre workers across seven states who were contracted out to a firm called Maximus, have staged a strike, and are asking for, among other things, affordable health care. But also on the agenda was to be paid a living wage somewhat more than the $16 per hour they currently get (the federal minimum wage). They also want improvements in working conditions. Maximus currently has a $6.6 billion dollar contract over 9 years with the federal government. Maximus is the largest federal contractor concerned with call centres, and has been accused of union-busting. President Biden has called on Maximus to honor unions and to start providing improvements in working and living conditions for their employees. (10 Nov)

Advances in Technology  A factory robot programmed to handle boxes of food in the province of South Gyeonsang, South Korea, mistook a man for a box of bell peppers, and crushed him to death. The man, who was aged 40, was grabbed by the robot, which then pushed him on to a conveyor belt, crushing his face and chest. He later died in hospital. The man was testing the robot for defects in its sensors. The robot is mostly mechanical, and does not use AI, and would not be sophisticated enough to distinguish a box from a human. (9 Nov)

AI In the News.  Bad news for lonely hearts: Forever Voices, an AI alternative to those who have been spurned by a person in real life, has now gone dark on their real-life paramours. 28 year-old owner John Heirich Meyer, who has had a history of mental health problems, shut down the service after he had been arrested for arson to his own apartment in Austin, Texas. There is now a Forever Voices subreddit for the digitally jilted. (22 Oct)

Crime and the Law. ALPHV/BlackCat, a Russia-based criminal ransomware group tried to threaten the US-based company MeridianLink with ransomware attacks. But when MeridianLink refused to pay, ALPHV/BlackCat filed a complaint with the American Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), citing the SEC rule breached by chapter and verse, specifically citing Meridian’s failure to disclose BlackCat’s security breach to its customers. This is the first threat of its kind, a departure from the usual denial-of service attacks we see normally from bad actors like these. (16 Nov, 17 Nov)

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Crappy Album Covers #34 — Celebrities doing WHAT?

Ethel Merman (1908-1984), born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman, had a career that went all the way back to the days of Vaudeville. Her first big-time performances, in fact, were on Broadway in 1930. By the time she left Broadway in 1959, she was already a show biz veteran. She appeared in movie musicals with Bing Crosby. She cut her teeth singing the tunes of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. She had an operatic voice that could project to the back rows of a large theater without the need of a microphone, nailing each and every note with precision.

And, sadly, it is in this context that five years before she died, the septuagenarian dropped this bombshell of an album on the public: “The Ethel Merman Disco Album.” Here, Ethel sings some of her all-time Broadway smash hits, set to a Disco beat. Imagine getting down and funky to: “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, or George and Ira Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”. Or Cole Porter’s “I Get A Kick Out of You”. It is Disco ad absurdum, sung by your grandma.

Disco did not live long past the 1979 release date of this record. It was pretty much the final nail in Disco’s coffin. Thank you, Ethel. Thank you. Thank you.

I know that no one asked for this, but here is a comparison between the original “There’s no Business Like Show Business” and the disco version:

Original:

Disco Version:

Merman promotes her album on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:

There are Broadway divas into disco, and there are comedians that are into Rap. Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004) is known best for his “No Respect” standup sketch.

Not many comedians who get “no respect” get their trademark paraphenalia (a white shirt and red tie in this case) enshrined at the Smithsonian Institute.

This 1983 album, “Rappin’ Rodney” was the followup to his “No Respect” album. This album was released to lukewarm reviews. His rap parody is clueless in hindsight, but in its day it might have fetched him a few laughs.

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Crappy Album Covers #33 — More Gays and Lesbians

I had promised that I would feature lesbians at some point. But portraying lesbians is way more difficult. In our culture, there are two kinds of lesbians that seem to strike a strong chord in the public consciousness. One is the depiction of really nice looking women with perfect complexions, hairdos, and body build, getting off on each other. This has been known in feminist literature as “the lesbian of male fantasy”. These are the lesbians that are depicted in porn, mostly, underscoring that up until now it has been OK to depict lesbians in certain contexts, so long as men are the ones depicting them, for the entertainment of male audiences.

Then, there are the lesbians that actually exist. That’s a whole other shooting match, and is a horribly complex topic, and it is why lesbians are more difficult to depict in an honest way. There are the Indigo Girls, and singers such as k. d. lang and Melissa Ethridge. There is the actress and talkshow host Ellen Degeneres. All of these celebrities look, well… not too glamourous, and, look, well, … kinda normal. Not much kitch factor there, and not many crappy album covers will come out of pictures of folks like these. That’s why hardly any are listed. But I’ll try.

I’m sorry…. I can’t look at this cover without laughing. I am sure Alix won’t appreciate it. This is Alix Dobkin and her 1975 album “Living With Lesbians”, featuring the Lesbian Power Authority. It is likely the musical answer to the following old joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: That’s not funny.

So, you see, you don’t look for kitsch like you do for gays. You look for women who take themselves WAAAAAAY too seriously. To the point where it would seem that they and their fans are the only ones not in on the joke. But let’s just say that, as stated in the first paragraph, there is a case that can be made for not being overly happy with the male gender.

Alix Dobkin was a pioneer in the area of lesbian songwriting and among the first to advocate for “women-only” space. She has promoted women’s rights and was out of the closet in the mid-60s, decades before it became fashionable and regarded as relatively normal. Back then, homosexuality was still regarded as a mental illness, and it was not declassified by the APA until 1973.

This 1977 anthology of lesbian songs and poems, is called “Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology of Songs and Poems.”. I remember seeing this “orange” theme on another gay/les album cover, and recall that this was a reaction against Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual campaign she was waging, shortly after she was the spokesperson for Florida oranges.

A bit corny, but in 1977, this is a groundbreaking work. This is the first various artists lesbian-only compilation in music history, to anyone’s knowledge, recorded on the Olivia label of Los Angeles.

Here is a link to enough info on this LP that will beat this topic to death. You also get a long list of Lesbian and feminist organisations. You get lyrics and pictures of all the performers, too.

The record was recorded with female engineers in a 16-track studio built only by women, with women-only performers.

album-cover-crap-50_thriftstoreart_comThis is another Alix Dobkin record, from 1973. I placed it here because I found it on another crappy album list, but this one actually borders on not being crappy.

It’s artsy, it gets the point across, and is not nearly as in-your face as the above album cover.

I believe there is a recent CD compilation where “Lavender” is combined with “Living” to make both albums in a single package, with a total redesigning of both covers. That would make it the third redesigning of both album covers that I have seen.

For those interested in reading more about Alix Dobkin, I provide you with this link.

These, unfortunately, are all the crappy lesbian covers I have. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. I am sure lesbians are as capable as any male (gay or not) to make a crappy album cover. But the results so far have been disappointing. I would urge those folks to get on the ball.

This was Fireballet’s second album, released in 1976, called “Two, Two”. These guys were supposed to be contenders for the top of the Classical Rock genre supposedly in the league of such groups as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, King Crimson and Yes.

Fireballet was only known for their first album, “Night on Bald Mountain”. With this second album, they trivialise both themselves and  their musical efforts, both with the cover, and reportedly, the music on the album.

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