Epic Fail Defined

Here's the thing-if you're going to court to answer a marijuana possession summons, we strongly suggest you do not fire up a joint in the courthouse parking lot. But, if you decide you just must, really, really try to avoid doing it in your car while parked in the police chief's parking space! Yep, it happened in Northport, NY, where police say 26-year-old Arielle Bonnici parked in a spot clearly marked for the village police chief. She might have actually gotten away with that, had she not first cut off an unmarked police car in the parking lot while illegally talking on her cellphone. At that point, two officers approached her car and Bonnici rolled down her window. Smoke with that special unmistakable scent came billowing out. Police Chief Bill Ricca said, "At this point the two officers said they started laughing. Besides cutting off a police car, on the cellphone, parking in the chief's parking spot, now she's smoking marijuana in the back of a courthouse and police station." The cops issued Bonnici another appearance on unlawful pot possession and gave her a ticket for using her phone while driving. (Newsday)

Why Trip Advisor Sucks

It seems there may be some holes in the TripAdvisor ratings system. We've now learned that for a brief shining moment in November, the best restaurant in London, as rated by TripAdvisor, featured TV dinners, live chickens, and a DJ playing kitchen noises in lieu of an actual kitchen. Oobah Butler used to be paid by restaurants to leave good reviews on TripAdvisor without actually visiting the restaurants or eating their food. That got Butler to wondering: If the reviews were fake, could the restaurants be fake, too? He says, "One day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: within the current climate of misinformation, and society's willingness to believe absolute b.s., maybe a fake restaurant is possible." So he created "The Shed at Dulwich" which involved an overly general address for "appointment-only" dining, a website with pics of fancy food made from shaving cream and toilet bowl cleaner, a questionable endorsement from an actual celebrity, and, of course, fake reviews courtesy of friends and acquaintances. Those reviews and the mystery surrounding The Shed were enough to beat out the more than 18,000 real London restaurants on TripAdvisor. So for a while, a restaurant that never existed was the highest ranked in one of the world's biggest cities, on perhaps the internet's most trusted reviews site. (Vice)

You Really Should Get Those Cataracts Removed

You may not know it but the most common surgery in the U.S. is now cataract removal. No kidding. But it may have even more benefits than you'd think. A massive new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology finds the operation could be prolonging the lives of the more than 3 million Americans who get it every year. Cataracts are clouding and discoloration of the lens of the eye. They cause fuzzy vision, trouble seeing at night, and more. About half of all Americans develop cataracts by the time they're 80 years old. The 20-year study looked at more than 74,000 women over the age of 65 who had cataracts and found the ones who got their cataracts removed were 60% less likely to die during the study period. There were an average of 1.5 deaths per 100 women who got the surgery per year; the average was 2.6 deaths for women who didn't get the surgery. Women who got cataract surgery during the study lived longer on average despite tending to be sicker overall than women in the non-surgery group. The general thinking is that improved vision allows women to be more active, avoid accidents and injuries, and correctly take their medication. (New York Times)

Garrison Keillor Fights Back

The recently disgraced Garrison Keillor is fighting back and says Minnesota Public Radio was wrong to fire him last week without fully investigating what a senior executive has described as "multiple allegations" made against the former A Prairie Home Companion host by a single person. Last week, an MPR spokeswoman said the company had received multiple allegations of "inappropriate behavior" against Keillor spanning an extended period of time and involving one person who worked with him while he was on A Prairie Home Companion. Keillor announced Nov. 30 that MPR had terminated his contracts after four decades of entertaining public radio listeners with tales of small-town characters. He later said he had put his hand on a woman's bare back when trying to console her. Keillor said he did not attend Wednesday's meeting, but he expressed disappointment at the company's response to the allegations. Keillor said, "I expect to deal with MPR soon to try to fix the enormous mistake they have made by not conducting a full and fair investigation." Keillor's attorney stressed they know of allegations made by "one individual" and hoped Jon McTaggart, CEO of MPR's parent company, American Public Media Group, would "set the record straight in this respect to avoid any misperceptions." He added Keillor wants a swift resolution of the matter and "with it expects a full restoration of his reputation." (Newser)

Fun in Quebec

Apparently Quebec is all about the French. Unlike other Canadian provinces which recognize English and French as official languages, Quebec has strict laws making French the sole language of government, commerce, the judiciary, and the dominant language on street signs. Even children of immigrants must attend French schools. But it's Quebec's latest, symbolic move to protect the French language that some say goes a step too far. With a 111-0 vote last week, Quebec lawmakers passed an unenforceable resolution asking shopkeepers to greet customers with "Bonjour," rather than "Bonjour hi," seen as respectful of native French and English speakers. One French-speaking shopkeeper said, "It's absurd. I am a proud Quebecer, but we are in a free country and we should be allowed to greet people how we like." Global News columnist Tasha Kheiriddin noted, "To hear politicians and pundits talk, you'd think 'Bonjour, hi' is the linguistic equivalent of a North Korean nuke." (New York Times)

Play Nicely With Your Toys

In Tampa, Florida, 38-year-old Lindsay Clark was arrested after a fight broke out with her boyfriend over "sex toys and a laptop," according to police. Clark allegedly slapped her boyfriend, Chad Scerbo, across the face during the argument. She was charged with domestic battery. The police affidavit outlines the charge against Clark: "During an altercation over sex toys and a laptop, Lindsay and Chad got into a verbal argument. During that argument, Lindsay admitted to slapping chad as she was upset over what Chad had said." It is not known what injuries -- if any -- the boyfriend suffered. (The Smoking Gun)

What the What?

You probably already heard that last month Uber revealed a major 2016 hack that exposed information for 57 million customers and drivers, as well as the fact that it paid out $100,000 to the attackers to scrub the information and keep the breach secret. Now, a new report says it was actually just one hacker who took home the $100,000, and he was a 20-year-old guy who still lives at home with his mom. The "extremely unusual" payment was made through what's known as Uber's "bug bounty" service - a program often used by big tech companies, hosted by a firm called HackerOne, which compensates hackers for finding issues in software. The three sources who spoke to Reuters say they're not sure who gave the OK to pay off the hacker and cover up the breach, though they note then-CEO Travis Kalanick was aware of both moves. We can only assume mom is so proud. (Reuters)


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