Archive for Dyssynergy

Reptile dysfunction

Well, actually, they seem to be working fairly well:

In an unassuming house on France’s River Loire, a cobra lives on the coffee table, a 50-kg (110-pound) tortoise roams the garden and a two-meter (seven-foot) alligator sleeps in the owner’s bed while another keeps watch at the door.

Over two decades, 67-year-old reptile enthusiast Philippe Gillet has amassed a collection of more than 400 phobia-inducing animals, including rattlesnakes, tarantulas and lizards in his home in western France near the city of Nantes.

Gillet says the two alligators, named Ali and Gator, were rescued from a leather farm but most of the animals are pets that outstayed their welcome elsewhere and have been abandoned or donated.

None of this presents a problem, says Gillet:

He insists the locals do not mind their unusual neighbors and regularly pop in for coffee, safe in the knowledge that the most dangerous snakes are kept in a room behind two sets of doors.

But the local fire department is more cautious: they are under instructions not to enter his house in an emergency.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

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Endless carp

Efforts continue to keep the Asian carp out of North American waters:

Scientists fear that the carp will outcompete native species for both food and space.

“Asian carp are definitely the number one priority species we’re trying to keep out of the Great Lakes system,” Becky Cudmore, a senior science advisor on aquatic invasive species at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told CTV’s Peter Akman.

But while this large, ungainly fish continues to present a potential threat, one of its smaller relatives is already here and causing grief:

Tys Theysmeyer, the head of natural lands at the lakefront Royal Botanical Gardens, near Hamilton, Ont., says goldfish populations have exploded in recent times. The source, he says, is people setting their pets free — a simple act that’s decimating the ecosystem by shrinking food supply for native species.

“Populations of frogs, fish, turtles, salamanders — they’re all significantly down,” Theysmeyer explained.

Canadian experts estimate there are 40 to 50 million goldfish just in Lake Ontario. And the problem isn’t limited to the Great Lakes:

In Western Canada, cities like St. Albert, Alta., near Edmonton, are facing their own goldfish invasions.

Crews have been spraying the city’s tiny Lacombe Lake recently with poison, killing everything in the water in the hopes of wiping out a massive population of invasive goldfish and koi.

So far, not so good.

(Via Fark.)

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Commemorative bitcoin

Or something like that, anyway:

Get in on the Crypto craze! A first of its kind collectible, pick up a digital bobblehead at Dodger Stadium on September 21 with a Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner or Kenley Jansen Crypto token for your Ethereum wallet. It’s the first Crypto giveaway in Major League Baseball, and believed to be the first such promotion in sports.

While supplies last at guest’s point of entry, the first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance will receive a card with a unique code and directions to a website where a digital bobblehead can be unlocked and added to their Ethereum wallet. The player Crypto token received will be randomly selected, with approximately an equal number of Kershaw, Turner and Jansen codes distributed at the stadium gates.

Ask the resident ten-year-old to explain it to you, if you must.

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Budget-minded commuters

Of course, if work takes you in this direction, you’re probably not exactly flush with cash:

Sanjay Waghela built a makeshift raft to help people cross a filthy canal in the Indian city of Mumbai — saving them time and money.

A ride costs just two rupees ($0.029).

Oh, and it’s standing room only all the way.

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Remember the public domain?

You do and I do and Van Dyke Parks does — on his famed Song Cycle album, there’s a song called “Public Domain,” and what’s more, there’s a song called “Van Dyke Parks,” credited to Public Domain — but Congress never thinks about it except to ignore it and extend already-distended copyrights. It’s almost mechanical with them — and, for that matter, YouTube:

[P]eople playing music from Johann Sebastian Bach in videos on YouTube were told that they were playing copyrighted music and it would have to be taken down or they would have to allow advertising on the video. The idea is kind of ludicrous, because Bach’s music has long been in the public domain and can be played by anyone who can master it.

The problem, it turns out, is that certain performances of Bach pieces are indeed copyrighted by the music companies that released them. When the YouTube algorithm that sniffs around and looks for copyright violations encounters the computer code that makes sounds like the sounds it knows are copyrighted, it flags them and the person who posted the video gets a notice about it.

Which is fine with me if you’re trying to pass off Glenn Gould’s playing as your own, not that anyone has ever tried that (I hope). Otherwise, it’s dumb with a capital D.

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Cover those damn things up

Students are expected to appear utterly asexual at all times:

She subsequently deleted this tweet, which contained a photo of the offending garment. To me, it said little more than “Yeah, they’re here.”

Wonder if any of the boys have been, um, busted.

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Storm clouds and such

Channeling (at first) her inner Aretha, here is Belgian comedian Cécile Djunga.

Stand-up comedy, apparently, doesn’t pay any better in the EU than it does in the States, and so Djunga has a day job: reporting the weather on the RTBF television network. Unfortunately, there seem to be some hateful people in the TV audience:

Cécile Djunga has been presenting the weather on Belgian public TV for a year, and after being subjected to a stream of racist comments she has decided to fight back.

In a five-minute appeal on Facebook, Ms Djunga says one viewer rang into work to complain she was “too black and all people could see were my clothes”. The video went viral, viewed by a million people.

Her employer, RTBF, has given full backing to its presenter. Its head, Jean-Paul Philippot, told Belgian radio on Thursday that Ms Djunga had passed on a string of messages she had received in recent months and had not reacted to them.

“There’s no place for this torrent of mud in Belgium,” he said. “Racism is a crime, punishable by law.”

“Torrent of mud.” Nicely put.

The weirdest complaint seems to be variations on “Why don’t you go back where you came from?”

“I am Belgian and now they’re going to stop telling me to go back to my country. Because this is my country,” she said.

Stand your ground, madame. You need not put up with those jerks.

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Speaking of rats

That old sentimentalist James Lileks remembers a sweeter, nicer time:

Rat Bis-Kit, no mixing, ready for use

I’ll probably forget about this until someone crosses me, and then I’ll spew: “Die in open air!” Kinder, after all, than “Die in a fire.”

That “Yankee Roach Powder” is probably the same boric acid we used down South.

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Everything de-accessioned

Brazil gets an explanation of why they can’t have nice things:

Officials in Brazil have blamed lack of funding for a huge fire that has ravaged the country’s National Museum.

One of the largest anthropology and natural history collections in the Americas was almost totally destroyed in Sunday’s fire in Rio de Janeiro.

There had been complaints about the dilapidated state of the museum. “We never had adequate support,” its deputy director said after the fire.

Part of the support they didn’t have, apparently, was a proper sprinkler system:

A deputy director at the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, expressed “immense anger,” and accused Brazilian authorities of a “lack of attention.”

Mr Dias Duarte told Globo TV that a $5.3m (£4.1m) modernisation plan agreed in June would have included the installation of modern fire prevention equipment, but only after October’s elections.

Then again:

Roberto Robadey, a spokesman for the Rio fire department, is quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that the hydrants closest to the museum were not working and that firefighters had to get water from a nearby lake.

This is the third major museum fire in barely a year. This past January, the Maritime Museum in Jakarta, Indonesia burned; and last summer in France, the storage building of the Musée Tatihou caught fire, destroying a number of artworks, including three paintings on loan from the Louvre.

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Down with upskirts

South Korea takes a stand:

The South Korean capital, Seoul, has pledged to carry out daily checks in all public toilets for hidden cameras.

Secret cameras in toilets and changing rooms are a serious problem in South Korea – with more than 6,000 cases of “spy cam porn” reported last year.

The videos are often uploaded online without the knowledge of the victims.

Constant vigilance is said to be the key:

Law enforcement officials have previously told the BBC that it is difficult to catch perpetrators — especially as they can install cameras, and take them down again within 15 minutes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 80 percent of the victims are women. Says activist Park Soo-yeon:

“Digital sex crimes are not just a problem in Korea. There have been cases in Sweden and in the United States. But South Korea is so advanced technologically, with the fastest and most accessible internet in the world.

“That means these online crimes against women have become a big issue here first. It will not be long before this becomes a big problem in other countries. So we need to work together to solve the issue internationally.”

It’s probably a big problem all over the place by now.

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Talk about your hazardous materials

This could be Chernobyl II:

Godspeed, valiant cleanup crew.

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Damn birds

It’s a shame that this blog went on what seems to be permanent hiatus, because this would seem to fit the agenda:

Apparently it’s not just a one-shot, either:

Oh, well. The universe is not always kind.

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Increasingly high

I am indebted to the Nightfly for finding this one:

An Estonian tourist known as Pavel had one too many drinks at Cervinia Resort when he decided to call it a night and head back to his hotel. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn and began heading up the mountainside.

According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pavel didn’t notice that he had taken a wrong turn until it was too late.

At some point between 2 and 3 am, Pavel finally realized that he had made a mistake, but through sheer luck he stumbled across Igloo, a restaurant and bar that was closed for the night. He broke in to seek shelter.

Staff discovered Pavel in the morning, sleeping on a makeshift bed made out of a bench and a few cushions.

Says the resort: “Welcome to the Matterhorn’s great ski district, where the excitement starts as soon as you arrive and never stops.” They’re evidently not kidding.

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Says Papa Steve

In lieu of the usual menu specials and whatnot that arrive in my mailbox literally every day, Steve Ritchie, new CEO at Papa John’s Pizza, sent along this apologetic missive:

I know that for the past 6 weeks people have been talking about the name on our pizza boxes — and what that name stands for. And I’ve been quiet about it for too long.

Some of you may have seen my statement from Friday, but there’s more I want to say. I shared it on my twitter feed and want to say it again here.

I’ve been listening along with my team members. I’ve heard their hurt, disappointment and anger, and that of our franchisees, our customers — and those who used to be.

And now we’re all looking inwards, reclaiming the responsibilities Papa John’s has to our partners, customers and communities. And in thinking about what we want the Papa John’s name to stand for moving forward, we’re now going where we should have been all along.

United in the belief that we — company, community and country — are better together. Joining the voices for fairness, social justice, equity, representation, and inclusion. Standing against hateful words, deeds and attitudes.

I shared the first steps towards achieving this vision in our Values statement, but know that at an organizational level, we are committed to adding more diversity to Papa John’s leadership team and supplier base. We are forming a foundation that will focus on supporting organizations that are working to eradicate the biases that keep us apart, while also supporting and celebrating those groups that bring us together. And we’ll be creating a franchise expansion and development program for women and minorities.

At the ground level, we’re making changes that will impact every pizza that leaves our stores. We want to improve customer service and offer you a better, more delightful ordering experience through our app and website. We want to ensure that every pizza is delivered on time, hot and fresh, and we are investing in technology to improve order accuracy and quality control, so that those pizzas are always up to the standards that you expect.

We recognize that this is only the beginning. But please hold us accountable to these words and commitments. Hold me accountable to them.

On behalf of the 120,000 team members in the Papa John’s family, you have my promise: we will always strive for better.

Sincerely,

Steve Ritchie,
CEO, Papa John’s

There isn’t anything here that couldn’t have been cut and pasted from the portfolio of one of those Diversity Consultants out there, but Steve gets credit for this: he did not attach a coupon. This suggests, to the suggestible, that there might be something more important than right-now commerce. Few organizations will ever allow themselves to imply such a thing.

So yeah, I ordered a pizza. Of course, I had a coupon.

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Which way did he go?

Let’s look at that again:

Mr. Elastic

This is apparently real:

Moses Lanham, 57, has a mind-bending ability to completely contort his legs and still be able to walk, thanks to a bizarre condition resulting from a rope-climbing accident 43 years ago. He possesses double cartilage and extra tissue in his knee joints, hips and ankles.

During gym class, when he was just 14, Moses fell from more than 5m when he lost his grip on a rope — crashing down to the ground and landing awkwardly.

At first it was believed something was dislocated, but Moses soon discovered he had a new-found ability. He can now twist his feet completely behind him along with his knees, which means the two halves of Moses’ body appear to be facing opposite directions as he casually strides down the road.

The fun, for Lanham, is watching people’s reactions:

“When I perform this in front of people I love the reactions. A lot of people are just amazed. One time, I’ve actually had a person throw up after I turned my feet around.”

I don’t think I’d hurl, but I’d definitely be startled.

(Via Fark.)

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The survey with the fringe on top

Now that it’s Omarosa vs. The Donald, the cultural arbiters are cutting her some slack. No surprise there.

And none here, but it’s still funny as hell:

You know, she belongs to the tube.

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Dung at heart

The latest in San Francisco city improvements:

In a city where filthy sidewalks are many residents’ No. 1 complaint, City Hall has come up with a new way to deal with No. 2.

It sounds like silly elementary school banter, but it’s real. San Francisco is about to launch the Poop Patrol.

We all know how this ends:

A year from now the “poop patrol” will be a separate department within Public Works with a staff of 250, fifty being supervisors, and the remainder solid union members paying their bit into union and Democrat coffers.

And The City will be deeper in shit than ever before.

Not that Sue at 16 Parkside Lane will notice.

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That sensation of being lost

I don’t think I’m this resourceful — or this clueless:

Matthew Matheny went for what was supposed to be a brief hike on Mount St. Helens on Thursday last week — and was airlifted to a Vancouver, Wash., hospital Wednesday when search and rescue teams finally found him. The 40-year-old Warren, Ohio, resident, who was in the state visiting friends, had borrowed a buddy’s Subaru Outback to go to the trail, but he became lost in the wilderness and couldn’t find his way back to the vehicle, the Oregonian reports. The search began after Matheny was reported missing and authorities discovered the unoccupied Subaru at the entrance to the Blue Lake Trail on the side of the mountain. He was treated overnight for dehydration, but authorities say he doesn’t have life-threatening injuries — and he’s lucky to be alive at all.

Around 30 searchers took part in the rescue operation, which located Matheny in the general area of the trail, ABC News reports. Authorities zeroed in on a small area Tuesday using cellphone signals and a computer model that tried to predict his movements, the AP reports. His parents, who flew to the state days ago and are ecstatic that he has been found, say he apparently survived by eating berries — and by killing and eating some bees that had been chasing him. “He knew it was a tough situation,” mother Linda Matheny tells the Oregonian. “But everyone who has encountered him [has] told us it’s remarkable the condition he’s in.” She adds that she wants to “wring his neck” for his choice of hiking footwear: sandals.

Me, I want to know how he caught these bees.

(Via Stephen Green.)

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Predict that the trend will continue

It’s the safest bet in the long run:

Charles Hill has often observed that, in his neck of the woods, Walgreens and CVS seem determined to compete corner against corner; wherever one chain opens a store, the other follows. Here, that’s been less apparent — though both chains did open stores very close to an existing Rite Aid. Now that they’ve taken out their shared rival, there will finally be a corner-vs.-corner competition between CVS and Walgreens in Newnan.

Rite Aid was never really a factor here, although Eckerd’s was. And as it happens, CVS wound up with a couple thousand Eckerd’s locations, including the Oklahoma City-area stores, with Rite Aid eventually absorbing the rest.

That said, Little C and Big W are still practicing their weird form of brinkmanship. Along a half-mile stretch of May Avenue:

5025: CVS
5120: Walgreens
5400: CVS

I had preferred CVS, but CFI Care (not its real initials) declared them out-of-network pariahs not too long ago.

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The Colosseum of Clutter

Among the Friar’s conclusions after a couple of recent trips to Walmart:

I’ve read some people say that we should all use the human-staffed lanes all the time in order to save cashier jobs, and force stores to keep them on the payroll. Maybe. But I’m pretty sure the stores can outlast us. If there are six cashier lanes open at midnight, then it’s a simple choice. But if there are six open at 5 PM, it’s also a simple choice, because everyone in those lanes has carts holding the product of a small nation-state and it will be midnight before they’re all checked out.

Another gripe has been that the stores are making us do their work for them. It seems running a purchase in from of a laser scanner is a burden most onerous, one that we customers are far too refined and important to carry for ourselves. This idea is used to justify theft, as I have seen a number of posts in different news stories and Facebook threads that scanning our own items makes us store employees and so we are entitled to take our wages in trade. I look for these people next to figure they can walk their restaurant tickets if the server doesn’t cut up their meat for them and dab their faces after every bite.

The self-checkout is supposed to save you time; you can’t expect any more of it than that, especially since it probably runs on Windows.

And oh, if you’re thinking you’re entitled to take your wages in trade, make sure you report it as income on your next tax return.

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You are owned

You used to have some semblance of privacy. Those days are gone:

Google is not allowed to build a surveillance point on your front lawn. Why are they allowed to spy on you and sell your information to the highest bidder? A law that requires written permission to possess and distribute private information would put an end to the abuse of privacy.

In case you think this is impossible, keep in mind it used to exist. Credit bureaus used to need permission to release your credit history. One of the things you signed in the loan process was a form giving the lender the right to pull your credit report and call on your references. The same is true of employers. The application process included you giving them permission to call former employers. Simply restoring a basic of civil society — property rights — would put an end to most of the privacy abuse we see with technology.

Of course, there are folks out there — think wannabe Representative Occasional-Cortex — who hate the very idea of property rights.

To get a sense of just how far we have gone down the road to serfdom, ask a normie friend about such a proposal. Ask them if the government should require Facebook to get your written permission to use your data. The right leaning normie will recoil in horror at the state doing anything. The left leaning normie will most likely give you a blank look, as they are unable to process the concept of privacy. The very idea of you owning you, owning your name, you image and your habits, is now alien to most Americans.

Facebook, for its part, will argue that by using their service you have consented to handing over all your data; why, it says so in the user agreement, which is about the size of a short novel.

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Grace, under pressure

Pull up a page of pictures of singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal, and you’ll see smiles, smirks, grins, grimaces, and all the other stuff you’d expect to see on a tousled girl of fourteen.

And you’ll find this one, in which she actually looks depressed:

Grace VanderWaal is unhappy about something

I hope it’s nothing more than “I can’t believe they’re making me wear this.”

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More orphan than not

A baby squirrel seems to have put the Fear of God into this chap:

German police have rescued a man after he called for help saying a baby squirrel would not leave him alone.

Emergency services received a call on Thursday from the man, who claimed he was being chased down the street by the tiny animal.

Police in Karlsruhe said the unnamed man called them in desperation after he was unable to shake off the small rodent.

Officers sent a patrol car out to investigate and arrived to find the chase still in full flow. But the drama ended suddenly when the squirrel, apparently exhausted by its exertions, lay down abruptly and fell asleep.

It’s not likely the rodent meant any harm:

Police said it likely targeted the man because it was in search of a new home.

“It often happens that squirrels which have lost their mothers look for a replacement and then focus their efforts on one person,” said Christina Krenz, a police spokeswoman.

Poor little fuzzball.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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1-800-FAKERY

The boiler rooms housing most of our robocallers can be accused of lots of things, but new tactics will not be on the list:

In recent years Mrs. McG has noticed, I confess more than I have, that spam robocallers have been spoofing particular sets of numbers that share area code and prefix with their targets. Others online have remarked on this tactic as well. (I just don’t seem to have this problem, just as I don’t get as much spam email as others seem to.)

Well anyway, yesterday I got one of these calls, sharing the area code and prefix of my out-of-state Google Voice number.

How’s that for a milestone? And no, it’s extremely unlikely that the call was legit; the location has several number prefixes, so even if someone there had a legitimate reason to try to call me (no one would) it’s extremely unlikely the source number for the first-ever call I received from there would have the exact same one.

It’s especially galling, I submit, when the jerks spoof a number in my very exchange and then have the audacity to claim “OUT OF AREA.” It is no such thing. Of course, if I’m dealing with someone who’ll lie about something as mundane as a phone number, I assume anything they have to say is a lie.

Countermeasures, for the moment, are conspicuous mostly by their ineffectiveness, though surely this can’t last forever:

Eventually, of course, it would evolve into a system where you can preemptively block callers that don’t own their claimed source numbers, and spam callers will have to figure out some other way to intrude on your peace and quiet with their commercial spiels. I shudder to imagine how they’ll do it.

Telemarketing will continue so long as telemarketers are allowed to live.

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Not at all small fry

The intro says it all, pretty much:

You know that thing people do when they’re talking where they sound like a deflating balloon? That’s called vocal fry, and Kim Kardashian is the undisputed champion of vocal fry.

You almost have to follow that up with Clarence Henry, who was known as “Frogman” for a reason.

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Hunch turned investment vehicle

Last month:

The beloved television home of The Brady Bunch has come to market after almost 50 years. This iconic residence is reportedly the 2nd most photographed home in the United States after the White House. Featuring perfectly preserved 1970’s decor, it boasts one of the largest lots in the neighborhood — over 12,500 sq ft. Enormous, lush backyard gardens & lawn, completely private & serene.

You had to figure that this wouldn’t sit unsold for very long, and sure enough, it didn’t:

Discovery CEO David Zaslav made the announcement during this morning’s second quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

“One of our projects for HGTV will speak to those Brady Bunch fans on the call,” he said. “You may have heard that the house from the iconic series was recently on the market in California. I’m excited to share that HGTV is the winning bidder and will restore the Brady Bunch home to its 1970s glory as only HGTV can. More detail to come over the next few months but we’ll bring all the resources to bear to tell safe, fun stories about this beloved piece of American TV history.”

So long as they don’t try to flip it.

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As opposed to poisoning them in the park

The food chain working normally, except perhaps for the location:

The snake was taken to a wildlife facility by the RSPCA, which decided that in fact, it’s a boa constrictor:

“I’m very keen to find out how he came to be in such a dangerous situation,” RSPCA inspector Rebecca Benson said.

“Exposed like that on a street could have meant anything might have happened to him — he could have been run over by a car or attacked by another animal. It might be that he is an escaped pet, or more worryingly, someone may have deliberately dumped him and left him to fend for himself.”

Concern for the pigeon, it appears, was essentially nil.

(Via BBC News.)

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The tyranny of the time clock

Over the years, the standard work week has dropped from six and a half days to six to five, and in some cases four. For maximum productivity, say these researchers, it needs to drop just a little more, at least for us old folks [warning: autostart video]:

Let’s be honest: nobody is really a fan of the five-day work week. But if you want a reason to work less, science has your back. If you’re over the age of 40, at least.

According to a report published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper [pdf], those over the age of 40 are at their most productive when they work three days a week or less.

The researchers came to this conclusion after following 3,000 male and 3,500 female volunteers, Newser explained. During the study, researchers asked the participants to complete cognitive tests and analyzed their work habits, memory, executive reasoning, and abstract reasoning.

The cognitive tests included asking the volunteers to read text backwards, read words aloud, and match numbers and letters under time pressure. As HuffPost explained, the participants’ cognitive performance improved as the researchers increased their working hours up to 25 hours. However, after 25 hours the researchers found that performance began to decline in both the male and female volunteers.

Unfortunately, some of us still get paid by the hour. And in most workplaces, a 25-hour week relegates you to part-time status and a corresponding reduction in benefits.

Still, most weeks, three days is about all I can stand.

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One word: plastics

Pollyanna Roberta X on that downloadable-gun bushwah:

Way Scarier If You’re Ignorant Department: “Donald Trump will be totally responsible for every downloadable plastic AR-15 that will be roaming the streets of our country.” — Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey, quoted in The New York Times. It’s almost fractally wrong.

The reality is something else — there are no undetectable plastic rifles and even the Defense Distributed 3-D printable one is only a smallish part to which a lot of big metal parts need to be attached, like a barrel, bolt and trigger assembly. There are no plastic versions of rifle barrels, period. There are no all-plastic bullets, period. There is a single-shot, mostly plastic handgun … but it needs a metal firing pin and metal bullets to be anything more than a paperweight.

In a world where there are 3-D printers and thumbdrives (not to mention peer-to-peer file sharing over networks), this fight is already over. About all we can do is pass laws that are 21st-century versions of the 19th-century British law that required a man with a red flag had to precede the dangerous menace of horseless carriages to protect the public. Call me Pollyanna, but I think we’d make more progress, faster, if we set to work to fix the things that make a man want to harm his fellow men.

Truth be told, right now I’d rather have some sort of downloadable pizza. And, yes, a beverage:

My fellow man, I hope, will be grateful for the concepts.

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Bingbing gonegone?

If you’re generally in the public eye, the public tends to notice when you’re out of it:

Chinese social media users are questioning the whereabouts of one of China’s biggest film stars.

Fan Bingbing is one of the world’s highest paid actors, but media reports in the country say that she hasn’t been seen in public since 1 July when she visited a children’s hospital.

Social media users are also noting her unusual silence on the popular Sina Weibo microblog, where she has more than 62 million followers. She has not been active on her account since 23 July, when she “liked” a number of posts.

And she hasn’t been mentioned here for about six years. Go figure.

Some of the talk inevitably involves some form of foul play:

In May, prominent TV presenter Cui Yongyuan appeared to accuse Fan Bingbing of tax evasion. [Huayi Brothers], her studio has denied any wrongdoing. It has not commented on her whereabouts.

Wait, what?

In May, TV presenter Cui Yongyuan posted what he said was a contract that Fan Bingbing — one of China’s most famous actresses — had signed, worth $1.6m (£1.2m).

He followed this up with a second social media post that alleged that many celebrities signed two contracts — known as “yin and yang contracts” — and only reported the lower-value contract to the authorities, as a way to evade taxes.

Tax evasion, of course, is one of the truly universal human values.

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