Frank Oz talks about his work with the Muppets

Long time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of the Muppets when they appeared on Sesame Street and in the TV shows and films. I was particularly fond of Grover, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear, Bert, Ernie and Kermit, and the first four of them were the creations of master puppeteer Frank Oz who later went on to be director of feature films while still keeping his hand (literally and metaphorically) within the Muppet world. He was also Yoda in the Star Wars films.
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Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall with Mexico takes shape

The US Customs and Border Protection agency has posted guidelines for people to make proposals for building the wall across the US-Mexico border, the “big, beautiful” magical wall that is going to stop all drugs, crime, and terrorist attacks in the US and make America great again, so that it is well worth gutting programs like providing meals to shut-in seniors to pay for it.
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Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

One of the great rockers of all time, a pioneer in blending blues, swing, and country into what became rock and roll, died today at the age of 90.

Musicians of all genres and ages paid tribute to Berry. “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived,” said Bruce Springsteen, who played with one of Berry’s pick-up bands before achieving his own fame.

“Thou Shall Have No Other Rock Gods Before Him,” the drummer and producer Questlove wrote. “His lyrics shone above others & threw a strange light on the American dream,” said Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger. “Chuck you were amazing [and] your music is engraved inside us forever.”

Berry’s music was a hugely influential figure for generations of rock musicians who followed him, many of whom recognized him during their lifetimes. “If you had to give rock’n’roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,” John Lennon.

But he had a very dark side to him too when it came to women.
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Republicans really, really hate poor people

It is no surprise that Republicans love the rich and want to make them richer. So do the Democrats for that matter. What separates the two is that Democrats at least try to mask that deep love by offering crumbs to the poor and the middle class. While Republicans in the past tried, at least faintheartedly, to act as if they too cared for the less well off, now that they control the White House and both houses of Congress, they don’t even try and with Paul Ryan’s health care proposal and Trump’s proposed budget, the mask has really come off, revealing the ugliness beneath.
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Why making accommodations for discrimination is problematic

Some of you may recall the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, who refused to accept a gay couple’s order to make floral arrangements at their wedding because of her religious objections to same-sex marriages. She said that she felt that if she were to accept the order, that would be tantamount to her endorsing such marriages.
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How a car’s differential works

In the old days, cars could be called ‘one wheel drive’ vehicles since a car’s engine powered just one of its four wheels. The problem was that in such cars, if the powered wheel ended up in a place with low or no traction, say because of snow or ice or mud or dangling over a ditch, you were literally stuck. The development of two-wheel drive vehicles that sent power to the two rear wheels improved this situation since if one wheel lost traction, the other could pull you out of it. But this created a new problem in that when you turn a corner, the outer wheel on the axle has to rotate faster than the inner wheel since it traverses a circle of larger radius.
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Why losing a dog is so painful

Frank T. McAndrew wrote about why losing your dog can be so much more painful than losing a relative or a friend.

When people who have never had a dog see their dog-owning friends mourn the loss of a pet, they probably think it’s all a bit of an overreaction; after all, it’s “just a dog.”

However, those who have loved a dog know the truth: Your own pet is never “just a dog.”

Many times, I’ve had friends guiltily confide to me that they grieved more over the loss of a dog than over the loss of friends or relatives. Research has confirmed that for most people, the loss of a dog is, in almost every way, comparable to the loss of a human loved one. Unfortunately, there’s little in our cultural playbook – no grief rituals, no obituary in the local newspaper, no religious service – to help us get through the loss of a pet, which can make us feel more than a bit embarrassed to show too much public grief over our dead dogs.

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Racing the tube

It is interesting the kinds of challenges that people set for themselves. Via Pepe Jimenez, here is a video of someone in London getting off the underground train at one station, running to the next station, and getting on to the same train again. I am not sure what it proved, that he is a fast runner or that the trains are slow, but it is an impressive feat and fun to watch.
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Do some wait staff actually do this?

In an interesting article on the practice of tipping, Aaron Stern described the origins of the practice.

Tipping dates all the way back to the eighteenth century, when patrons would give a few coins to their waiter/struggling scrimshaw artist “to insure promptness.” It’s worth noting that the concept of “promptness” back then was quite different from what it is now. In 1760, if your server took more than twenty minutes to bring your food, you were within your legal rights to “wallop him smartly on his person with a blackjack or billy club.” Whereas today you really need to be waiting for at least a goddam hour before you can administer a wallop in good conscience.

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