Archive for Dyssynergy

After which, the cows gave milkshakes

Apparently factory-reject Skittles are a popular feed for dairy cattle in Wisconsin:

Hundreds of thousands of red Skittles that spilled on a country road in Wisconsin led cops to discover that farmers have been feeding the candy to cows for years, CNN reported.

The sweet treats fell from a truck hauling them to a cattle ranch in Dodge County, and were frozen in place earlier this week, police told the station.

“There’s no little “S” on them, but you can definitely smell, it’s a distinct Skittles smell,” Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt told CNN affiliate WISN.

I suppose it’s a good thing the cows weren’t eating M&Ms.

But maybe it doesn’t matter:

John Waller, an animal science professor at the University of Tennessee, said Skittles are a legit meal to feed the animals.

“Think it’s a viable (diet),” Waller told Live Science. “It keeps fat material from going out in the landfill, and it’s a good way to get nutrients in these cattle. The alternative would be to put (the candy) in a landfill somewhere.”

Now I wonder how their teeth are faring.

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Miserable data

Steve H. Hanke, current proprietor of the Misery Index, explains the methodology:

The Misery Index has been modified several times, first by Robert Barro of Harvard and then by myself. My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. A higher Misery Index score reflects higher levels of “misery,” and it’s a simple enough metric that a busy president without time for extensive economic briefings can understand at a glance.

Heh. Indeed. And the first three are way out there beyond the rest:

Venezuela holds the inglorious spot of most miserable country for 2016, as it did in 2015. The failures of the socialist, corrupt petroleum state have been well documented over the past year, including when Venezuela became the 57th instance of hyperinflation in the world.

Argentina holds down the second most miserable rank, and the reasons aren’t too hard to uncover. After the socialist Kirchner years, Argentina is transitioning away from the economy-wracking Kirchner policies, but many problematic residues can still be found in Argentina’s underlying economic framework.

Brazil, at number 3, is a hotbed of corruption and incompetence, as the recent impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff indicates.

The US, 39th among 59, checks in with a 9.4. Here’s how your Top Three did:

  1. Brazil: 75.0
  2. Argentina: 83.8
  3. Venezuela: 573.4

Least miserable? The Japanese, with a 0.4.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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I’m sure someone can explain this

I’m pretty sure, though, that I can’t. A note affixed to my most recent (okay, only) Amazon PrimePantry order:

Frequently Bought With ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep Aid

About the only thing these items would seem to have in common is that 4½-star rating.

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This is the year of the expanding bird

Well, a few specific birds, anyway:

According to University of Notre Dame researcher Professor Dylan Korczynskyj, the wings of Western Australian ringneck parrots have increased by four to five millimetres over the past 45 years.

And you know who’s to blame: us, and our indefensible planet-heating ways. Professor Korczynskyj believes this parrot wing growth could be due to climate change, pointing out that critter extremities in hotter climates tend to be longer.

Let us then project forward:

That’s just fine, naysayers may scoff. Nobody will have much of a problem with parrots that during the next half a century extend their wingspans from 17.5cm to 18.5cm. But consider how these beasts might evolve as climate change continues ruining our world.

Add another 45 years of warming and suddenly we’ve got parrots flapping all over the place with colossal 19.5cm wingspans. Throw in 90 more years on top of that and they’ll be up to an unimaginable 21.5cm.

Why, it’s only a matter of time before these warming-fuelled sky leviathans are the size of pterodactyls, sporting 12 metres of wing as they soar away with our screaming children clamped in their bloody talons. At a rate of one millimetre of growth per wing every nine years, or two millimetres in wingspan, the diminutive ringneck parrot will easily achieve pterodactyl dimensions within a mere 6000 years or so.

Hitchcock himself couldn’t imagine a scarier avian fantasy.

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The last Big Top

It’s the end of the line for the Greatest Show on Earth:

After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.

Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.

So says Kenneth Feld, head of Feld Entertainment, which bought the circus in 1967, continued to manage it after its acquisition by Mattel in 1971, and bought it back in 1982.

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Oh, Snap

The story sounded ominous enough: Snapchat deleted the account belonging to tween singer/ukulele virtuoso Grace VanderWaal. “Whatever for?” I wondered, and then it occurred to me. And really, it should have been obvious:

Having grown up right as the internet was really becoming a thing that people of all ages used all the time for entertainment, millennials know more than most how easy it is to tell websites that want you to be a certain age that you are, actually, that age, even if you’re not. We’d like to say we learned this from alcohol websites that require you to be twenty-one because we’re cool and edgy, but honestly we learned it from Neopets and Livejournal. We’re old, get off of our lawn, etc. America’s Got Talent star Grace VanderWaal found out being famous makes it hard to spoof your age when Snapchat deleted her account for a very simple reason: She’s not yet thirteen, and that’s their age requirement. Hey, them’s the rules!

I should have caught on, knowing that Facebook believes my 18-year-old grandson to be 24 or thereabouts.

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This is where you came in

In case cutting the cord wasn’t enough for you:

Back in October 2015 when they announced single-game and single-team League Pass streaming options, the NBA also floated the idea on social media to let fans buy just parts of games. Now, it sounds like NBA commissioner Adam Silver is working towards making that a reality. On a sports business innovation panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Silver said he thinks they’ll get to a point where there will be an option for fans to buy only the final five minutes of games.

However, this could backfire on the Association:

Silver’s suggestion might help reinforce the idea that the last five minutes of an average NBA game — which can last quite a bit longer than five minutes with time-outs, intentional fouls and TV commercial breaks — are the only five minutes of the game that matter. The league already has a problem drawing casual eyeballs during the pre-playoff season since so many of its teams make post-season play.

Sixteen of thirty, in fact.

Wait until people figure out that they can’t DVR these fractions of games: not only do you not know how long the last five minutes will run, you don’t know how long the first forty-three ran. And then there’s the dread spectre of overtime.

Back to the drawing board, Mr Silver, sir.

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Seriously, help wanted

I mean, we’re desperate, and you can tell:

We need a graphic designer.  Obviously.

Then again:

50mm Photography is a collective of world-class photographers, retouchers and illustrators based in Toronto, New York, London, Texas and Los Angeles. In the early outset, all of the photographs posted to the website were taken with a 50mm lens.

We have over 150 years of combined experience as creatives, access to the best studio spaces and equipment, and offer the widest selection of image services at highly competitive rates. 50mm is your full-service destination for photography, beauty services, website development, conceptual design, fashion illustration, advertising management, retouching and many more essential image services.

Okay, we’re not entirely without resources.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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So, Doc, like, um, what’s up?

You do not see two trucks full of carrots:

US Customs and Border Patrol trucks filled with fake carrots

All these items share with carrots are the shape and a certain degree of orangeness. They’re really plastic wraps containing marijuana, and US Customs and Border Patrol finds them risible.

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Dope slapping

We all saw the picture, and it wasn’t that funny:

One of the sillier bits of recent news was the changing of the Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” (which apparently wasn’t even all that original). I admit my reaction was: “that’s so funny I forgot to laugh” said with the most sarcasm possible.

Confession: I find the extreme “weed culture,” where pot has to constantly be celebrated and that palmate leaf slapped onto everything, kind of puerile and annoying. I don’t care if you smoke it — far away from me — but I also would like for the rest of us to be able to avoid the whole stoner thing. And yes, I say this as someone who almost made a “Dave’s not here” joke to a natural-foods store employee, but hesitated because I figured he was too young to get it.

“Dave” goes back forty-five years, man.

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Laws of surpassing murkiness

Jack Baruth notes that there are stretches of Interstate hither and yon upon which literally no one observes the posted speed limit, and proposes the sensible question: Cui bono? Who benefits from this?

There’s always someone, of course:

Perhaps you’ve heard of the book Three Felonies A Day, written by civil-rights attorney Harvey Silverglate. In the book, Silverglate argues that the law has become so complex, particularly as regards technology and chain-of-custody issues, that it is almost impossible to get through your day without committing a felony of some type. Not everybody agrees with the specific examples and assertions made in the book, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us have unknowingly done something that would be punished much more severely than you would expect. That goes double for people who work in tech. I’ve seen people violate multiple federal privacy laws, totaling dozens of years’ worth of prison time, in a single email. And don’t get me started on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its repugnant, pernicious effects on ordinary human beings.

Mental note: Don’t get Jack started on the DMCA.

Outrageously low speed limits do not protect the freeway motorists of Cincinnati or Northern Virginia. In fact, you can argue that they increase the risk of driving on those freeways. So Cui bono? I think you know. Changing the limit from 65 to 45 on Route 71 benefits law enforcement. It creates the following benefits:

  • It turns a normal flow of freeway traffic into a river of cash into which the police can dip at will. Want to write ten tickets a day? A hundred? A thousand? It’s all possible.
  • It increases the cash value of those tickets for both insurance companies and municipalities while simultaneously making it harder to fight those tickets.
  • It allows profiling.

After all, they don’t have to bust you on some trumped-up nonsense if they can just write you up for 59 in a 45 zone.

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A two-state solution, sort of

Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws, on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina; Jackson generally described himself as coming from South Carolina — which is the reason we studied this in South Carolina history — but the surviving town of Waxhaw is on the Tar Heel side of the line.

Jackson was born in 1767. Could this sort of thing still be an issue 250 years later? Of course it can:

Some S.C. residents who went to bed on New Year’s Eve in the Palmetto State will wake up New Year’s Day as North Carolinians.

A two-decade effort using GPS technology to clarify the exact, down-to-the-centimeter border between the Carolinas comes to fruition this year.

The border adjustment, approved by both states, moved 16 people who thought they lived in South Carolina into North Carolina. Three N.C. families now will have S.C. addresses.

“It’s not shifting at all,” former state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said of the 334-mile border. “We just pinned down exactly where the original line was.”

There were some incentives involved:

For example, children whose states of residence changed still can attend their previous public schools, and, for the next 10 years, they also will get in-state tuition at public schools in either state.

A deal also was cut to allow the Lake Wylie Mini Mart — once thought to be in South Carolina but now in North Carolina — to continue selling fireworks and alcohol, and to keep selling gas at South Carolina’s lower tax rate.

So long as the Mart’s owners retain it, anyway: if they ever sell out, the new owners will be subject to North Carolina law.

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OCD indulged

Periodicals tend to start with Volume One, Number 1, and proceed from there. The major exception is MAD magazine, which did in fact start with Volume One, Number 1, but apparently never got to Volume Two. “We’ll never have a Volume Two,” declared MAD publisher William M. Gaines. Should the post office insist, he said they’d go to Volume Two after issue #1000; Gaines died in 1992, MAD is up to issue #543, and I figure this is worth mentioning only for historical purposes.

Closer to home, The Oklahoman has long rolled over into the next volume on the third — not the first, but the third — of January. The issue of 31 December was Volume 125, Number 364. Apparently someone in the office decided that an eighth of a millennium of this was enough, and declared that Volume 126 would begin on the first of January. Down in the corner of Monday’s front page:

Clipping from the Oklahoman, volume 126, number 2

Well, I feel better.

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Nor did we ask 100 people

At lunchtime, a few of us gather in the break room to watch Family Feud, and to be perfectly frank about it, we spend as much time watching Steve Harvey react as we do actually waiting to hear what the survey said. (I suspect that since Harvey’s brought up the ratings substantially, they edit the show accordingly.) We started, alas, long after this segment (parental guidance suggested) aired:

On t’other hand, Secily, wayward spelling notwithstanding, now owns a tiny little piece of my heart.

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Breathe or freeze?

Hey, Scott Pruitt, you want to take this on?

[N]ow comes the federal government to tell the inhabitants of Alaska’s interior that, really, they should not be building fires to keep themselves warm during the winter. The New York Times reports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.

Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.

Alternatives? What alternatives? There is no natural gas to speak of, and heating oil costs even more up there than it does in frosty New England.

The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove — and you keep that fire lit around the clock.

Nonsense. The poor must die, so that the well-off can breathe slightly easier. Ask Chuck Darwin.

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No one would buy pegasus boogers

As the phrase goes, first you have to get their attention:

This past year we’ve seen a surge of ’90s trends, and there are still many more to make their comeback. Glitter is an accessory that’s been slowly creeping its way back into the beauty world, and if you haven’t had a reason to pick up some glitter for yourself yet, allow Unicorn Snot to be your next best friend.

Wait, what?

One of several available colors of Unicorn Snot

That was silver, I think.

Unicorn Snot is a glittery gel that comes in several different colors, including pink, green, purple, silver, and gold. It’s non-sticky, translucent, and it can be used just as easily on your hair as it can your face and lips. All you have to do is swipe as much as you’d like on the desired area, and it holds pretty well on its own.

I’m surprised the stuff is at most $10 a jar; I mean, I figured that by now unicorns would have figured out antihistamines.

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The appearance of growth

From an earlier report on Walmart’s grocery-pickup service:

This particular Walmart store has six pickup points; this was the first time I’d ever seen all six in use.

That was a month ago. Some time in the last week they added four more spaces for the pickup crowd. (Although at 6:30 on a Thursday, there were only two in use, and a third was occupied by an indoor shopper who can’t or won’t read.)

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No accounting for counting

In which we find out what Bill Gates and Darth Vader have in common:

Windows versions vs. Star Wars episodes

(Found at reddit by Miss Cellania.)

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Go directly to jail

Apparently it’s come to this:

Nothing says “quality time with the family” like watching the kids throttle each other over an extra hotel on Marvin Gardens, while playing the contentious board game Monopoly this Christmas.

Hasbro is hoping to preserve some of the peace and goodwill over the holiday break (and potentially keep some people out of jail), with a hotline set up to address the rule disputes that inevitably emerge during a game of Monopoly. The hotline, which is slated to launch exclusively in the U.K. from Dec. 24-26, will allow callers to ring up a rulebook expert so they can iron out the intricacies of the game. That way you won’t have to take your older sibling’s word for it when they say the banker gets a $100 pay cheque every turn. The hotline number is (44) 0800 689 4903.

Which is toll-free in the United Kingdom, but a pricey call from the rest of the world. And why is Hasbro doing this, anyway?

Hasbro is launching the hotline based on the results of a survey of 2,000 adult Monopoly players, which identified some of the most frustrating behaviours that ruin a game. The survey found that 51 per cent of Monopoly games end in a verbal or physical dispute.

Yeah, you try putting a second hotel on Marvin Gardens and see what you get.

(Via @spydergrrl.)

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Havana bad day

It’s a trip to Cuba! Wonderfulness — until the details get complicated:

They have been planning this trip for months, looking for airline tickets they can afford that won’t have them spending umpteen hours in Atlanta, arranging for accommodations, travel to Treasure Island, deciding what to take and figuring out how to pack it all into bags that won’t incur an excess weight penalty. We’re looking good with only a week until departure and then dutiful daughter gets red flagged on her passport.

It seems that if you are going to Cuba, you need to have two, full, blank pages in your passport. Daring daughter has used the stuffing out of her passport and if you combined all the blank spots that are left you might get two pages, but that won’t cut it. So she needs a new passport.

Why is this? State doesn’t say, but Cuba isn’t the only country that requires or expects such things.

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Paranoia for beginners

I defy anyone to read this whole thing without busting out laughing. Here’s the question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: 
How do I view content that was blocked by my ISP?

And here’s the rest of it:

I believe my ISP is actively filtering out certain materials from being viewed from my Internet service that could have been used as evidence by me in getting some other people prosecuted for slandering my name and image since 2010. I have had lies spread to neighbouring suburbs and businesses well before I signed up for a broadband service from one of my ISPs shop front located in a suburb where lies have spread to.

I am unable to locate chain-posts containing lies and pictures about me that random people have taken after bullying me, but the treatment I get out in public looks very much like someone has been posting lies about me while people choosing to believe in these lies and bully me are taking photos of me and publishing them somewhere (there’s always a trend of random bullying each time someone successfully takes a photo of me)

This is apparently what it’s like to be off one’s meds.

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Meanwhile in vitro

I don’t think there’s any way to top this headline. Sofía Vergara sued by her own embryos:

The battle over Sofia Vergara’s embryos took an extraordinary turn Tuesday — when a right-to-live lawsuit was filed on behalf of the fertilized eggs against their mom.

The female embryos are listed as plaintiffs “Emma” and “Isabella” in Louisiana court papers, which come amid Vergara’s knock-down, drag-out legal battle with former fiancé Nick Loeb, sources told The [New York] Post.

Loeb had already sued the Modern Family star in California for custody of the embryos, which the couple ­created when they were still together in 2013.

The potentially landmark new case in Louisiana — a traditionally pro-life state that offers special legal protections for frozen embryos — also lists the embryos’ “trustee,” James Charbonnet, as a plaintiff, sources said.

Loeb went public with his concerns quite a while back.

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Speaking truth to V-Power

I had a hard time at the gas station this week, probably because I went after work and was wearier than usual, with occasional bursts of irritation at the premium-to-regular gap, which is now back to 60 cents a gallon. I survived, somehow. I don’t know, however, what I’d have done if I had had to face this:

I drive to the other station and get out, and remember one of the other reasons I don’t go there often. It has a TV screen that plays celebrity news and sports. Nothing makes you feel stupider than watching TV on a gas pump. You can’t help it. Even if you don’t watch, you hear it. You’re standing alone in the cold and a TV is yelling at you.

The graphic on the screen says “Thanks for making us the #1 gas station entertainment network.”

There are others?

There are ratings?

I know, I know: captive audience. It’s perfect. But if they’ll do that to you, they’ll do this:

They’re someone who jumps in your path and starts talking about air freshener. That’s why GSTV believes it has a niche: you can’t leave their programing. You can’t stop it. You can’t hit X or Skip Ad in 4 seconds, because you are a captive audience.

These people would put screens in an MRI machine and sell ads.

Imagine, if you will: something that could make an MRI worse.

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As the fakers go rolling along

Another one of those “things have changed, and not for the better” stories:

Back in the Jurassic, the only accepted way to get a makeup exam / extension on the paper’s due date — aside from being legitimately, documentably ill, of course — was to throw yourself on the prof’s mercy. Most profs were pretty understanding about this, because a) they’d been in college themselves, back when “going away to college” was a novel experience, not a pop culture template, and b) because “going away to college” wasn’t yet scripted, very few kids abused the system. Only someone who really was having a rough time would show up at office hours begging for an extension, and that unshaven tousle-haired pajama-wearing wraith who’d lost (or gained) thirty pounds over the course of the semester was his / her own justification.

But time marched on, and everyone got an email account, and now you can’t assign a throwaway quiz without getting five Dead Grandma Stories.

The interesting (=suicidally depressing) thing, though, isn’t the plague of grandparent mortality (note that the original “study” was done in 1990). It’s that in the majority of cases, the kid has no intention of actually doing the work, and everybody knows it.

Could this get worse? But of course:

Snowflakes are now bypassing us mere professors entirely, and going straight to the administration. If the Dean buys their sob story, he’ll order the registrar to let Snowflake take an incomplete in the class … which means I have to waste my Christmas / summer waiting for a final that we all know will never come, and do a bunch of paperwork when it doesn’t. Note that the Dean has every incentive to buy the sob story, and no incentive not to — the griping of mere profs over a bit of extra paperwork is nothing compared to the drop in revenue if Snowflake fails out. And it’s worse the higher you go up the academic food chain — state schools can afford to lose a few undergrad idiots, but when tuition is $50K/year? Fugheddaboudit. If you’ve ever wondered how privileged nitwits manage to stay in college for seven or eight years chasing their “gender studies” degrees, wonder no more.

Meanwhile, it takes two days (or longer) to get a plumber.

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On second thought, don’t beam me up

I’m not sure I trust that thing:

And in fact, I may have to burn all my red shirts.

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Consider yourself warned

Do not even think about driving while inebriated in Wyoming, Minnesota:

I mean, they’re serious.

(Via @Wombat_Socho.)

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And it’s off to Voldemart

This showed up yesterday afternoon:

About half an hour later, I was pulling into the local Supercenter to pick up my groceries. All you need to know about that trip is this: the order was placed Monday, and 5 pm Wednesday was the earliest I could schedule a pickup that didn’t conflict with either work or sleeping. That said, I was out of there before 5:15, so I can’t really complain. Still, I can see a good reason to confining future grocery runs to Saturday afternoon, when there’s less of a crowd. (This particular Walmart store has six pickup points; this was the first time I’d ever seen all six in use.)

So I did not fail at Walmart the day before Thanksgiving, unlike some people.

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The way we weren’t

Roberta X has a better eye for these things than I do:

[T]here was something else that bugged me about the reporter area and the “pit” where researchers toiled. Last night the light finally dawned: nearly everyone has their typewriter sitting front and center on their desk, just where you’d put a computer keyboard!

No, no, a thousand times no. Those desks have, I’ll bet, perfectly good pull-out or swing-out typewriter shelves, set lower than the desktop and with good reason: typewriters are way taller than computer keyboards. Many of the reporters have IBM Selectrics, the ne plus ultra of its day and still mighty desirable, if your desires turn that way. But the Selectric’s spacebar alone is a good three inches above the surface it sits on, if not more! Nobody who writes for a living (and most who do so for fun) can comfortably use one on top of a thirty-inch high office desk for long. And yet every foregrounded character in the series does just that, with Selectrics or full-sized manual typewriters, even researchers who can’t be more than five feet tall in high heels. So here’s this wonderful set dressed with new-appearing period pieces and filled with wonderful people in 1969-70 clothing, a past recreated with nearly otaku-level devotion on three levels plus staircases, and on every level, you will need to look carefully to find a typewriter in its proper place. You might not find even one.

My own desk, old enough to be in a series about the late Sixties, has two pull-out platforms, one on either side, probably intended to accommodate a typewriter, though they seem a bit small for a Selectric. (Not that it matters; my sole typewriter these days is a late-20th-century Brother electronic with a spellchecker that I toggle off first thing every time it starts.)

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The opposite of “power play”

Have the Philadelphia Flyers sunk so low?

Bogus Philadelphia Flyers advertisement for a goalie

Apparently this has been an ongoing problem for the Flyers for several years.

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This might seem somewhat cruel

But hey, it went viral, so it’s okay:

(Via @EdnasDoor.)

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