Could Datone Jones be an “under the radar” weapon for the Cowboys defense in 2018? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Could Datone Jones be an “under the radar” weapon for the Cowboys defense in 2018?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Cowboys are in the year-round business of improving this football team. Just ask Stephen Jones. Or, you can just take a look around and let their actions speak for themselves. Moves that we don't think much of at the time can turn out to be rather

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The Ad-Blocking Browser That Pays the Sites You Visit

Everyone hates ads. Or at least a lot of people do. But they’re what pays for practically all the journalism and entertainment you enjoy online. So what if you could just set a budget—say, $5 a month—and divvy that up amongst all the sites you visit? It might not amount to much, but if enough people sent pennies—or even fractions of a penny—then maybe, just maybe, those micropayments could add up to a real business model for the media.

This isn’t a new concept. The idea of funding content with micropayments even predates the web itself. But Brendan Eich, the controversial engineer who helped build the popular Mozilla web browser and created JavaScript—the most widely used programming language on the web—has a plan to make it happen at last.

Earlier this year, Eich launched Brave, a new web browser that blocks third party trackers, like cookies. As a side effect, the browser also blocks most ads. But Eich and company have always wanted to find a way to help publishers make money. Starting today, the desktop version of Brave will tally up how often you visit different sites and then set aside a small amount of the bitcoin digital currency for your favorite publishers. Then, once a month, it will send off your donation to a central bitcoin wallet so that publishers can get their share. It should work with Coinbase or any other bitcoin wallet.

The Catch

The catch is that, for now, all that bitcoin will simply go into an escrow until the publishers work out an arrangement with Brave to claim their donations. Eich says Brave hasn’t made deals with any publishers to actually deliver the donations yet. He explains that instead of trying to split the Brave team’s resources between recruiting publishers and building the product, they’ve decided to focus on making it easy for those who wish to donate to do so. “It’s much easier to work out a deal if you have money for them,” Eich says.

The first round of payments won’t happen for 30 days, but realistically, it will probably be much longer until your favorite publishers are actually reaping rewards—assuming publishers end up claiming them at all.


Publishers have never really responded well to third parties trying to collect donations on their behalf. The “read-it-later” service Readability abandoned such a plan back in 2012 because too few publishers actually claimed their payments. Meanwhile, the Newspaper Association of America has threatened to sue Brave over its planned ad-replacement features and publishers might be loath to accept donations from a company they’re in a legal battle with. When you add in the fact that Brave will take a five percent cut of the donations—to pay for the infrastructure and processing, a spokesperson says—publishers could well balk at the whole idea.

On the other hand, now could be the perfect time to try something like this. A study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that about 26 percent of people surveyed use ad blockers on their desktop and laptop computers and about 15 percent use them on mobile devices. As ad-blocking becomes more common, publishers might be more open to business arrangements they rejected just a few years ago.

A Standard Future

In addition to getting publishers on board, Brave will need to get more people using its browser. Its main focus has been on security and privacy, so adding a new tool that keeps track of your browsing habits is a tricky proposition. Brave is attempting to solve that contradiction by anonymizing all your data before it ever lands on the company’s servers.

Anonymized data is famously easy to de-anonymize. In 2007, researchers were able to identify individual Netflix users based on an anonymous data set the company released as part of a contest to improve its recommendation algorithms. Brave’s solution to this conundrum is to use encryption to send your donations to the central server without sharing potentially identifying information such as where you live or what time you visited a particular site. “Your personal data never leaves your computer,” Eich says. Brave will also mix your data up with other people’s—so that no one can identify you based on the combination of different websites you view—and run everything through a third party service called Private Internet Access.

Eich says his eventual goal is to make this whole system work in a completely decentralized way, so that and readers could donate to publishers without relying on Brave. But establishing those sorts of systems and standards take time, and Eich and company are more interested in building a micropayment system that available in the here and now.

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American Apparel founder Dov Charney: ‘Sleeping with people you work with is unavoidable’

Charneys line in hipster fashion made him a multi-million dollar sensation until serial accusations of sexual harassment led to his downfall. Has the man who now sleeps on a mattress in his new factory changed his ways?

Dov Charney, the man at least as famous for founding American Apparel as he is for being serially accused of sexual harassment, is showing me around his new factory in south central Los Angeles. As usual, he is talking at least as fast as he is walking.

“See this shirt? That was influenced by a 1990s shirt one of our designers found. And over there is our photostudio. That guy in there, he’s like a Gatsby bon vivant,” he says in his loud, raspy voice, pointing to a tall young man who, like all the young people who work here, has a somewhat bewildering job title and looks like a model. Another one follows us around with a mobile on a selfie stick. This, I’m told, is “for content”.

But there’s no time to ask questions because Charney, who was sacked from his old company in 2014 after years of rumoured sexual misconduct, is on the move again, while simultaneously texting on one phone and talking on another. The reason we are here today is because he is launching a new label, Los Angeles Apparel, and if you think that sounds like his old label you should see the clothes: cute pleated skirts and 1980s-style sportswear are modelled by mannequins in the factory, making the place look an awful lot like an American Apparel shopfloor. Hey, why fix something that only broke because of a few allegations of sexual impropriety?

Charney himself is clad head-to-toe in white – white T-shirt, white tracksuit bottoms and white Reeboks. “I look like I’m in a loony bin!” he crows. But what he really looks like is someone’s Uncle Morty from Miami: hipster fashion, which Charney, 48, did so much to popularise, has a cruelly young cut-off age, after which all those tapered trousers and oversized sunglasses just make you look like someone’s aged relative. And then the man the New York Times described as “a barely restrained id” and feminist blog Jezebel called a sexist “troglodyte” turns to me with a grin: “Come!” he barks. I follow him through the door on to the factory floor.

American Apparel started off selling basics wholesale, and was a fashion sensation when it launched into retail in 2003. Its slouchy hoodies, funky sunglasses and high-waisted jeans will be seen to be as much a part of the look of the early 2000s as punk was in the 1970s and grunge in the 1990s. It sold a lifestyle to the masses cheaply and let suburban kids pretend they were, as Charney puts it, “the creative class in urban areas” (hipsters, in other words). But the company itself presented a paradox: on the one hand it was manufactured in the US by workers who were paid well; on the other, its advertising featured young women in absurdly provocative poses. Charney himself appeared in some, lying next to seemingly naked young women.

Charney at the Los Angeles Apparel factory where he lives 24/7, sleeping on a mattress. Photograph: Melissa Lyttle for the Guardian

Unusually – uniquely, even – American Apparel was a high-street store that had a face to it and Charney – whose facial hair, tight T-shirts and vintage glasses suggested a 1970s pornographer – was that all-too-visible face. His reputation as a sexual creep became unshakeable when he masturbated – twice – in front of a young female magazine journalist during an interview in 2004 (“‘Can I?’ he says, adjusting himself in his chair …”), and he was whacked with a seemingly endless series of sexual harassment charges over the next few years. In 2011, five ex-employees filed lawsuits. This increasingly became a problem for consumers: in the early years “hipster” meant someone who wore vintage clothes and read Vice magazine, but as the decade progressed the term denoted someone who cared about ethical values, and Charney’s reputation was overshadowing the company’s record on workers’ rights. By the time Charney was finally sacked by the board of his own company, he’d had one of the most vertiginous rises and falls in the business world, and he went from having over $500m in stock options to bankruptcy.

Charney is desperately counting on Los Angeles Apparel – which, like American Apparel, is starting off in wholesale – to restore his standing. To this end, he is currently living in the factory so he can keep an eye on things 24/7, sleeping on a mattress that everyone carefully walks around. This also saves time in the mornings: instead of commuting he can spend an extra hour dealing with the four lawsuits linked to American Apparel’s implosion that he is still involved in. No one seems to think it is a little ironic for a man who was brought down by accusations of sexual impropriety in the workplace to now keep a mattress in his office.

I’d been warned that I might be a little shocked by the factory. “There might be some people, um, undressed,” Charney’s loyal assistant – and, it turns out, his cousin – Sam said to me on the phone.

“What?” I replied.

“But journalists don’t think it’s strange when athletes are getting undressed in locker rooms after a game, so it’s weird people get freaked out by it,” Sam says. And people do indeed get freaked out by it: one of the many allegations made about Charney at American Apparel was that he wandered through the offices in his underwear.

But the factory does not look like the Roman orgy I’d expected. The 350 largely Hispanic workers on the factory floor are all cutting and sewing while Charney, who seems to know them all by name, and is fully clothed, talks to them intently about the tiniest details. In fact, most of them worked for him at American Apparel and such is their loyalty to a man who always paid them at least minimum wage, plus benefits, that they have bet the little they have on him being able to start up a new company. Charney is not the only one with a lot at stake here.

“Wait,” he says to me, “I gotta show ya this skirt, it’s just like what you’re wearing. It’s so cute!”

Watching him shuffle along in his grubby tracksuit, talking urgently to the workers about how the seam of a T-shirt must sit, babbling to bemused twentysomethings about how his family has always been in the schmatte (Yiddish for “clothing”) business, all I can think is, this is the guy who dictated youth taste for over a decade? This is the guy who was seen as so out there his adverts were banned in Britain? This was one of the most notorious predators in the fashion business? This guy?

But then the two of us go into a small side office and things become a lot clearer very quickly.

People walk past an American Apparel store in Los Angeles in 2016, after a bankruptcy court approved the company’s reorganisation plan. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

In order to understand Charney you have to understand that American Apparel was, from its clothes to its advertising to its ethos, fully an expression of him. His move into hipster fashion was the culmination of a lifelong obsession with American youth style that began when he was a precocious teenager in Montreal. He went to university in the US but dropped out to manufacture and sell T-shirts. He was widely criticised in later years for allegedly hiring employees based on their looks, but he says people misunderstood: a teetotal workaholic, he needs to have trendy young people around him to keep him plugged into the zeitgeist.

“For example, there’s this girl, Jasmine, and she was just an intern but she’s got good taste so boom! She’s in!” he barks, smacking his hands together.

Lots of his heroes stayed in touch with youth culture by hanging out with young people, he adds, citing Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood and “that crazy German guy, designer, lost lots of weight, has boyfriends” (Karl Lagerfeld). Also: Woody Allen. As it happens, Charney had legal issues with Allen in 2008 when American Apparel used his image without asking, but now Charney claims two are buddies.

“He came out to see me in LA before I was fired. He toured the factory, we hung out, he’s a mensch,” Charney says.

The image of these two men with a notorious penchant for young women together is certainly a memorable one. Did Woody reach out to him?

“Yes, through a mutual friend. He’s a fine man,” he says.

Woody Allen’s spokesman denies this meeting ever took place.

As he is telling me this story he is fiddling with something on the arm of the sofa he is sitting on. At first I think it’s a light but it turns out to be another selfie stick. He puts in his phone and carefully turns it so it is filming his face, which is where it stays for the next three hours. Does he film his interviews as a precaution, given what’s happened in the past?

“I just think interviews are interesting. They’re fun to watch back and wonder what I was thinking. Shame you’re not in it!” he says.

To Charney, his story is incredibly simple. Like his business hero, Steve Jobs, he is the free-thinking maverick who corporate forces set out to destroy. It’s easy to see why he inspires such loyalty from his employees: he is undeniably charismatic and talks with passion about how a business should be run, with an emphasis on workers’ rights, listening to young people and having no hierarchical divides. His supporters and critics talk about “the cult of Dov” but Charney sees it more simply: “I like young people. I get them. I’m like a young person. The thing about monogamy is it freezes you, so one way to stay young is to never graduate to that conventional situation,” he says.

Does he have a girlfriend who shares his office mattress with him? “I wouldn’t say that, but I have bonds with people that are very intense and important.”

So he doesn’t have any trouble dating now, despite his reputation? He makes a wolfish grin: “No, that is not a problem. The women like an enfant méchant. Also, I look like a warrior because I’m coming back.”

Charney describes Los Angeles Apparel as “a continuum” of American Apparel: “The people aren’t different, the materials aren’t different, the environment isn’t different.”

Does that mean he’s still going to walk around in his underwear? “That [claim] was untrue. Absolutely untrue! I mean, it is true that I was in my underwear in front of employees when I was doing underwear fittings. That happens in fashion companies.”

He grabs hold of a pair of tiny black panties that happen to be on the side of the sofa.

“So take Jasmine –”

Jasmine the intern?

“Yeah, she wore this underwear in front of me,” he says. “It’s not incendiary, it’s not inflammatory, it’s totally normal.”

But it is sexy, presumably.

“It is! I mean, have fun, try on the underwear. I’m not unfit, you know.”

Charney insists he’s too busy at the moment to think about this kind of sexy stuff, although this would be a little more believable if two hours before our interview he hadn’t posted on his Instagram a video of a young female employee in the office bending over in a thong leotard, filmed in the photo studio we just visited. As the camera looms right up to her face she looks around and smiles sexily.

“Look, I’m not going to be a victim of sex-shame tactics,” Charney says when I ask about the film. “This obsession that I should be punished for the advertising is fascistic and anti-woman. I will express myself as I always have done.”

Is he dating the young woman in the interview? “No, no. But there’s always a connection between a filmmaker and subject.”

The story of what actually happened to American Apparel depends on who you ask, Charney or the board members. The shortest answer is that the problems started when the company went public in 2007, and soon enough, all the qualities that Charney saw as his strengths – his unpredictability, his dizzying ambition, his notoriety – were liabilities in the context of Wall Street. American Apparel was also crushed with debt accrued from rapid over-expansion, despite raking in hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and Charney himself was costing the company money. All told, the litigations against him cost the brand $8.2m, although most was covered by insurance. In 2014, it was announced that Charney was fired, “citing an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct”. But without Charney, acting as the head, face and groin of the brand, the company crashed and thousands of jobs were lost. It was chopped up, sold and re-sold, and is currently limping along online, using many of Charney’s images.

That Charney slept with many young women who worked for him has never been up for debate. But it is also true that he was never actually found guilty of sexual harassment, despite the multiple allegations. Of the five suits filed in 2011, for example, three were cleared by a judge and two went to arbitration.

“There had been stories about Dov for years and years, but they had been very hard to pin down because every time an employee made a complaint against him it went to arbitration,” Allan Mayer, former co-chairman of American Apparel’s board, tells me. “But when we were able to conduct a more forensic investigation with an outside investigator we found videos and emails from him on the company server that, well, to call them inappropriate would be an understatement.”

Charney insists this is all bunkum and was just an excuse for the board to take the company from him and make money for themselves. Yes, there were sexual harassment allegations, but these were old by the time he was fired, and in none of the cases was anything found against him, and this is all true. He also insists the business was in great shape financially: “Why else would they want to take it off me?”

But Mayer says that because of Charney’s notoriety no reputable business would lend them money, so they had to borrow “at credit card rates”.

“I’ve known Dov since 2004 and I know he honestly doesn’t believe he sexually harassed anyone,” says Mayer. “But when a 45-year-old CEO is sleeping with 19-year-old sales clerks it doesn’t make it consensual. The imbalance is so vast.”

Mayer admits American Apparel’s policy on workplace relationships “was not as hard and fast as it is at other companies” and Charney seizes on this: “If it was such a problem for them why didn’t they just ask me to sign a non-fraternisation policy?”

Would he have signed it?

He hesitates for a few seconds: “Temporarily, maybe. Sure.”

Many people see an inherent contradiction between Charney’s indefatigable championing of workers’ rights and his equally energetic pursuit of his female employees. But for Charney, the through line is obvious: he is, essentially, a libertarian who thinks there should be no boundaries, national, professional, sexual.

“Look, let’s say this first: I abhor all forms of sexual harassment, period. But it’s unrealistic for the government to interfere with people’s private lives, and that’s it,” he says.

I ask if he’s still sleeping with employees. “That’s private!” he retorts.

Charney talks about his firing with obsessive fury, raging about how his business was “stolen from” him. But does he regret the behaviour that led to his sacking? “Not at all! Sleeping with people you work with is UNAVOIDABLE!”

But “employees” are not people you work with – that’s colleagues. An employee is someone who works for you, I say. “Yeah, but that’s – OK, I’ll say this, I never had a romantic relationship with a factory worker. Ever! It wouldn’t be possible! But a creative equal? Yeah! And if anything, I’ll tell you, I don’t know who was the predator – you know what I’m saying?” he laughs.

“Take yourself,” he continues. “You’re well-spoken, well-educated, you decide to work here. And we develop a romantic interest in each other. We could say, ‘OK, we’re attracted to each other, but it’s better we just work together.’ OK, we could try that. And that may work. But if the attraction is so intense, eventually we’re gonna give up! We’ve tried to avoid it, but we’ve decided that we’re going to get involved.”

But could he really not have changed his behaviour to stay in control of his own company? “Never! Out of the question. It wouldn’t be good for society! It wouldn’t advance the rights of workers.”

But it would have kept your workers employed.

“No, no!” He is exasperated that I’m still not getting the truth here. “You think, I was just supposed to stand up straighter, not allowed to wear [just] my underwear? No! [The board] wanted control! It was all a hoax.”

But even if it was all a hoax, even if the board just wanted to seize the company, didn’t he leave himself vulnerable to it?

“Maybe, a little bit, probably. But I think my real mistake was that I was too trusting. I should have removed some of the board members.”

“I think Dov is irrepressible,” says Mayer. “He is who he is and he sincerely does not see that he did anything wrong, so it’s hard to see why he would change.”

There is no doubt Charney is, when it comes to retail and workers’ rights, something of a visionary. But if you are not willing to keep it zipped to pursue your dreams, you will only run so far before tripping over your trousers. You can insist that this is just about society’s hypocrisies and limitations all you want, but if you’re not willing (or able) to compromise at least on this issue for the greater good, then people will wonder what your priorities actually are. But to Charney, his story exemplifies how hysteria about sex and gender can obscure the real issues.

“Like with Trump, OK? It disgusted me when they made a big deal about the Billy Bush episode. The man’s a terror because he’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant, a nationalist, hostile to environmental ideology and knows nothing about how to bring manufacturing back. He has no ideas! That’s what matters! Liberals lost on ideology!”

And of course, he’s kind of right, and just as I find myself nodding along he adds, “That stuff he said to Billy Bush [about grabbing women by the vagina] – who cares? If you recorded all the things I said about women in the past 10 days it would be no different.”

Interview done, he gives me one last tour of the factory. He is a ball of energy; you’d never guess he’d been talking pretty much non-stop for three hours as he chatters away to suppliers, workers and employees, talking on this phone, texting on that one. I tell him I’m going to call a cab and wait out front. A few minutes later, he suddenly appears next to me. “So are you hanging round in LA for a while?” he asks, and he has a shy smile on his face.

I say I am.

“What are you up to?” he asks.

I tell him I’m doing another interview, I might go check out some museums.

“Uh-huh,” he says, still smiling.

I mention I also want to pick up some American toys for my kids.

“Right,” he says, smile disappearing. “OK, bye.”

And just like that, he disappears, already on the move again.

  • This article was amended on 11 September 2017 to include the fact that a spokesman for Woody Allen denied that the meeting ever took place.

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Closet designers: Declutter your content –

Closet designers: Declutter your content
To realize digital marketing success (for this article I will define that as cost effective lead generation) you need to not only know the trends in the market, you need to know the right tactics to take advantage of these trends. What are the right

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What does the purge of Cowboys offensive coaches say about the state of the franchise? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

What does the purge of Cowboys offensive coaches say about the state of the franchise?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
There's a tweet that I keep seeing these days when I close my eyes. It's a good one, of course, because it comes from our very own OCC. Quite the coaching shakeup in Dallas. — One Cool Customer (@OCC44) January 3, 2018

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5 People So Blinded By Their Hobbies They Forgot To Live

Not everything we do needs to have this super-special, universe-altering purpose behind it, especially since the universe could give negative shits about what us sentient specks of space dust do with our brief love affair with consciousness. So go ahead, indulge in a pointless hobby or 10 — play the shit out of your video games, color all the adult coloring books, get that doctorate that everybody spits on because you weren’t born with 35 years’ experience. Just don’t let the pursuit of pointlessness consume your life to the point where actual important stuff goes forever ignored.

If you ever find yourself doing anything like the following, burn it all to the ground, hug your family, and apologize profusely for so coldly ignoring them all these years. If you don’t have a family, hug Mario and Luigi. They miss you too.

#5. Don’t Blow 40 Years And $2 Million Building A Giant Boat, Especially If You’re Landlocked

Dillon Griffith isn’t the first person to build his own boat. But while most content themselves with stitching together a pile of wood and praying to the Sky God that the Tuna God doesn’t whisk them away for a forced marriage to Aquaman, Griffith went and built himself a 64-foot, 40-ton, steel-and-electric monstrosity that he dubbed the “Mystic Rose.” It took him 38 years and cost roughly $2 million to complete.

Naturally, he did it to earn money.

Now we know who taught Axl Rose everything he knows about managing start-up costs.

He was inspired to build his own giant boat in 1977, after chartering his first, less-giant boat for fishing trips failed to earn him any money. After concluding this was because his galley was too small to allow for truly hardcore fishing, he set out to build his own, ginormous fishing boat. That way he could charter more people for more trips and make more sweet, sweet mackerel money.

Reminder: He spent $2 million to get there.

Unless somebody catches the Kraken, good luck breaking even before the next supercontinent forms.

He also took 38 years to finish, because Dillon Griffith is not a professional huge-boat maker. What’s more, he eventually moved away from the ocean and into a land-locked area, yet he continued to build his boat. That’s like moving to Death Valley and trying to build your own ice hockey rink. Oh, and the project damn near killed him, and not in the typical “oh, all this hard work is killing me” kind of way. No, more like a crane fell on him once and shattered his body. That kind of killing. Also, an 11-pound cylinder once broke his neck. After that, it was probably less a labor of love and more one of pure stubbornness. He saw a ship that steadfastly refused to be built, and he stared it right in the barnacle-encrusted porthole and said, “Fuck you, thou shalt be built.”

And build it he did — after nearly 40 years of lonesome, dawn-to-dawn work days, the ship is ready to sail. Finally, as Griffith says, he’ll “make money and [he] won’t have to worry anymore.”

Of course, there’s still the issue of getting the boat to sea, since he lives far away from it and all. He estimates it’ll cost an extra $55,000 to have it towed there, but then he’ll make money for sure! He’s set up a GoFundMe to cover these final costs, so feel free to help him if you like. He’s almost there; he just needs a little push over that finish line.

Well on his way!

#4. Don’t Waste Half A Century Building Your Own Helicopter Out Of Garbage

Like so many children of the pre-1950s (and post-2020s, after President McCarthy executive-orders all vaccines into the same dirty pit where we stashed those Atari ET games) a Honduran man known simply as Agustin contracted polio. He’s been unable to walk since.

Young Agustin dreamed of being a pilot, so he’s spent the past 50 years constructing a helicopter out of garbage. This despite knowing precisely dick about helicopters aside from “they exist.” And he insists his will fly, despite it never coming even once close to doing so. Ever bet 99 percent of your poker chips on what winds up being a 6 high? That’s this, in weird mutated sorta-copter form.

And this is insisting your 2-2-4-5 is a royal flush and the dealer’s just blind.

Agustin started this project in 1958, thinking it would take only three months because what’s a helicopter compared to a soap-box racer or a homemade turkey sandwich. So already we have a grown man cock-sure that he could build a working helicopter, single-handedly, with everything that Oscar The Grouch had grown sick of masturbating to, in three months. He missed that deadline by a mere 573 months, because, according to him, “Things kept getting complicated.” Big flying machines that typically require an entire crew to assemble do tend to be that way, yes.

Nothing should take 20 years to finish except raising a child. And writing The Winds Of Winter.

But still he perseveres, tinkering with his helicopter daily, all by himself. He gathers junk, trash, and spare parts wherever he can find them and assembles them all on his own — even the propeller’s chains are DIY. It’s neat, but it’s also Fallout 4: Saddest-Ever Edition. And I do mean he finds those parts wherever — for years, Agustin used an old, rickety wheelchair, until his friends and family bought him a shiny, new, working one, direct from the United States … which he immediately disassembled for helicopter parts.

Good parts.

If this were simply performance art, it’d be one thing. But Agustin still believes, and will likely keep believing until his final day, that his literal pile of garbage will get visited by the Blue Fairy one night and become a real helicopter. He outright admits that it “looks like a caricature of a helicopter” but somehow doesn’t grasp that that’s exactly why his only hope to fly is the same as ours: Board a plane, get drunk on boxed wine, and let someone who knows what they’re doing help him roam about the country.

#3. Don’t Spend 17 Years Building A Wooden Lamborghini In Your Basement

Hey, let’s watch 1/27th of a movie!

That’s the intro to Cannonball Run, and even non-carheads can see it’s awesome, as is the Lamborghini Countach Tara Buckman zooms around in. Ken Imhoff certainly agrees, but unlike us the film didn’t inspire him to drink shitloads of beer and fantasize about getting coldly laughed at by Buckman if he dared approach her. He was instead inspired to build his very own Countach. Out of wood. And not just some rinky-dink model for his mantel. He was going to build a life-size wooden Lamborghini, engine and all, and he was going to drive that motherfucker.

Maybe he drank shitloads of beer after all.

He can’t drive 55. Or 45. Or 35. Or 25. Or 5.

Like most people who don’t know what they’re doing but confidently stumble through it anyway, Imhoff figured his “Bull In The Basement” project wouldn’t take long — five years, tops. It took him 17, the literal length of childhood. That’s an appropriate analogy, by the by, since he missed much of his kids’ own childhoods while locked in his basement sanding, polishing, fucking up, redoing, sanding, and polishing again.

Wouldn’t want to enter the void with anything but a perfect shine, after all.

By 2007, his Treeborghini was finally finished and ready for unveiling. Except, he couldn’t get it out of his basement, since basements don’t have garage doors. So, Imhoff did the only logical thing he could: He paid a guy to cut a big hole in his basement, dig up a gnarly dirt ramp, and tow the car out of the basement and into the light. He would’ve driven it out — it theoretically being a car and all — but it’s a chunk of wood.

Good thing he brought those protective blankets. Wouldn’t want anything to get damaged
and plummet in value or anything.

He eventually powered it up enough to joyride around the block, bring his kids to school, and gather a few termites. But, after five years, Imhoff decided to sell. He claimed the maintenance was too much to handle; all that wood polish sets you back, but presumably he’d also love to recoup some of the “unimaginable [financial] extremes” his Cannonball Pratfall put him and his entire family through. At least we know he won’t try anything this dumb again.

Oh wait, no. He immediately started work on a wooden Studebaker Hawk. Check back with Cracked in about 20 years for an update.

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Calvin Ridley is a very intriguing hypothetical for the Cowboys – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Calvin Ridley is a very intriguing hypothetical for the Cowboys
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Dallas Cowboys are looking to make their offense more friendly for their franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. This is a good thing. Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan said since the season ended, they've discussed how to make Dallas' offense

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5 Blogs You Should Be Reading – HuffPost


5 Blogs You Should Be Reading
Business is about differentiating yourself from the pack, and blogging is a great way to do this. You are able to promote what is special about your business, and help to make your brand memorable. I have taken this approach with my blog, Public

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Here’s Bernie Sanders’ Plan To Save Puerto Rico And Stick It To Vulture Funds

WASHINGTON — Puerto Rico’s economy has been in a depression for a decade. With the territory likely to default on a $2 billion debt payment on July 1, the island’s ugly humanitarian situation could become even more nightmarish.

More than half of Puerto Rican children already live in poverty, its unemployment rate is over 12 percent and the government has been closing schools and curbing public services to help make short-term debt payments. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Rico is barred from requiring vulture funds — those that invest in distressed debt — to take haircuts on government bonds. The ruling grants the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over any debt reduction scheme for the U.S. territory. Wall Street hedge funds were thrilled.

But the July 1 deadline and the Supreme Court ruling also strengthen the hands of Washington politicians — including those more enamored with traditional thinking at the International Monetary Fund than with the concerns of American citizens living in Puerto Rico.

Thus far, there have been two positions on resolving the Puerto Rican crisis circling through the nation’s capital. Vulture funds have pursued a “screw you, pay me” strategy that has gained traction with many congressional Republicans, while decimating Puerto Rico’s economy. The Obama administration, by contrast, has backed a bipartisan bill to impose further budgetary austerity on the island, coupled with meaningful debt reduction. The bill’s austerity intent is clear. It would allow for the minimum wage to be suspended, and would lift President Barack Obama’s new overtime pay expansion island-wide. American citizens in Puerto Rico might well ask whether being stripped of labor protections provided to mainlanders is a product of the island’s colonial history. It’s hard to see what private-sector investment in such plans would encourage other than, say, payday lending.

The choice, in other words, is between madness and masochism. So, late last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quietly unveiled an alternative. Sanders would cut vulture fund investors out of any benefits from a debt-reduction deal, while establishing a long-term infrastructure plan to fix the root problem of Puerto Rico’s debt: a dysfunctional local economy.

The Sanders bill faces major political headwinds. While Obama’s strategy has cleared the House, the executive branch is all but begging the Senate to vote on it in time to avert a July 1 debacle. And Sanders is not exactly an ideological ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose support will be needed to pass any law to salvage the Puerto Rico situation. But the Sanders bill is a clever approach to a problem that could upend traditional thinking on financial crisis management around the world — one that prioritizes the well-being of Puerto Ricans over Wall Street profits.

Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have blessed The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA, which Sanders has savaged on the presidential campaign trail. PROMESA would set up a new Washington-appointed oversight board empowered to direct spending and taxation plans for Puerto Rico, and, if all goes well, reduce the the island’s overall debt levels. 

Economists have been all but screaming for a reduction in Puerto Rico’s debt for years, and PROMESA marks the first actual attempt to maybe, eventually do something about it. But there are obvious drawbacks to the bill’s approach. PROMESA is unpopular on the island, and has been sharply criticized by the territory’s governor and and major candidates vying to succeed him. Working out and implementing debt relief may simply prove politically unworkable. Even if the oversight board can impose a plan, the vulture funds that inflamed the island’s humanitarian crisis could end up profiting handsomely from it.

As Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation deteriorated, a lot of investors dumped their bonds at deep discounts, hoping to salvage some of their money instead of losing much more if the island defaulted. But hedge funds that bought up debt at a 20 or 30 cents on the dollar have been driving Puerto Rico’s politics ever since, refusing to negotiate with the local government and demanding full payment as the economy falls apart. Since these vulture funds bought the debt on the cheap, even a deal that substantially reduces the face value of their debt could reward them for holding the island financially hostage.

Sanders would set up a new government bank empowered to buy up Puerto Rican debt at whatever price bondholders actually paid for it. For early investors who held onto their bonds, including many pension funds, that’s clearly a bailout. But it also means zero profit from the “screw you, pay me” strategy the vulture funds have pursued. They only get whatever they paid for the debt. The Sanders bill also would allow Puerto Rico to write off debts in bankruptcy — a right afforded to U.S. states.

The Sanders plan obviously entails some level of moral hazard. Investing isn’t supposed to be a risk-free proposition. Financial firms earn returns on their investments by shouldering the risk that they might not be repaid. Ensuring that mutual funds, pension funds and other early buyers of Puerto Rico debt continue to be paid in full would send a signal to markets: When reckless governments ask for money at high interest rates, the feds will always be behind you. That could encourage bad investment decisions and bad local government fiscal management.

But the same principle applies to the vulture funds that swooped into the Puerto Rico debt markets in recent years, hoping to use political pressure to counter the economic insanity of their bet. Letting them turn a profit on a ploy to immiserate working people and strip them of democratic power sends a pretty strong signal, too. A super-tough debt reduction plan under PROMESA, of course, could wipe out vulture fund gains. But doing so would face serious political opposition from more sympathetic actors — the pension and mutual funds behind middle-class retirement accounts.

PROMESA is ultimately a plan to stave off an immediate calamity with the promise of potentially useful future solutions, followed by further reforms not even included in the law. Hopeful congressional staffers believe that a good PROMESA plan would give hedge funders incentives to support additional Medicaid spending in Puerto Rico and encourage Congress to make the territory eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit — federal payments to low-income families working in jobs that don’t pay well.

More cash in thin wallets would give citizens money to spend on goods and services, which can in turn pay workers to provide more goods and services, which could ultimately boost the economy enough to make future debt payments more plausible. Poverty support, in other words, would trickle up to vulture funds.

Sanders takes a different approach. Instead of hoping for Medicaid and Earned Income Tax Credit funds at some future date, he’d implement them now. And instead of slashing local budgets, he’d create a new federal grant program for highways, trains, ferries, broadband, renewable energy and housing. Improving the basic services of the local economy, the thinking goes, would encourage private-sector investment.

Republicans have resisted federal infrastructure spending for years, of course, and are unlikely to support Sanders’ plan. Still, similarly ambitious initiatives have been successfully implemented in Puerto Rico. In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt supported an agency that pumped federal dollars into infrastructure investment in Puerto Rico, directed by local officials who understood the island’s needs. Their plans helped eradicate malaria, tuberculosis and hookworm from the island, make electricity available to the island’s interior and establish hurricane-proof construction using local manufacturing. Life expectancy significantly increased, according to research by Geoff Burrows, a Seton Hall University history professor.

PROMESA promises not to spend any federal tax dollars on Puerto Rico. But sometimes, you have to spend money to make money.

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From corporate life to travel blogger – the adventures of Sherry Ott –

From corporate life to travel blogger – the adventures of Sherry Ott
Finally for anyone considering a career in travel photography or writing what advice would you tell them? There's lots of advice I could give around technique or training, however I think the most important thing is the business side of this career

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