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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Town may force child with cerebral palsy to give up his pony

A dispute has erupted in Caledon, Ont., over whether a family with a child with cerebral palsy should be allowed to keep a pony.

Three-year-old Sam Spiteri was born with a form of cerebral palsy that makes it hard for him to do ordinary tasks such as walk, hold toys, eat or speak.

The youngster has been riding his miniature pony, Emily, since he was an infant.

"Taking her away would be devastating to Sam. It is his best friend," said his mother Antonia Spiteri.

He's so attached to the animal that his rides usually end in tears because he doesn't want to leave Emily.

But a neighbour's complaint about the animal's smell is now being handled by the Town of Caledon, whose bylaw enforcement manager has ruled the Spiteris' half-hectare property is zoned rural-residential, meaning they cannot keep livestock.

The Spiteri family, however, argues Emily shouldn't be classified as livestock because she was bought as a form of therapy.

"We only want the exception for Emily herself to remain on the property for therapeutic purposes," said Antonia Spiteri.

Sam's grandfather bought him the pony because the youngster experiences seizures, making it almost impossible to take him on long car trips to a riding facility elsewhere.

According to the Ontario Cerebral Palsy Foundation, equestrian therapy "improves balance, co-ordination, strength and muscle tone, while gently mobilizing the joints."

Antonia Spiteri says Sam's pediatrician suggested the riding therapy, and they have seen an improvement in his posture.

"Bouncing from riding her triggers the muscles to stiffen and contract, so that when he rides her, he gets better posture and makes it easier for those muscles to learn those types of things. And then he is better with possibly walking in the future," she said.

"When his posture is better, it's easier for him to perform simple tasks such as feeding himself. It also helps with speech."

The debate over whether Emily can stay on the property will now go before a committee of adjustment.

Original here

Wild Boar Storms Frankfurt Church

On Thursday morning an uninvited guest showed up to a breakfast-meeting of Frankfurt mothers with young children. Despite the shock of seeing a wild boar burst through the glass door of a church, nobody was injured.

Over the last several months, turmoil in the international economy has made Frankfurt on the Main, Europe's financial capital, a pretty scary place to live. Still, the city's Martinus Evangelical Church got a special shock on Thursday as a rampaging wild boar burst through a glass porch door and terrorized a group of 10 mothers eating breakfast with their young children.

Wild boars can be dangerous and terrifying. Even city-dwellers are threatened.

Wild boars can be dangerous and terrifying. Even city-dwellers are threatened.

The mothers, who dine regularly in the church as part of a "mini-club," were seated with their offspring, ages one to three, at small, appropriately-sized children's tables. At about 11 a.m., police reports indicate that a feral beast leapt into the room through a glass door, shattering its pane into hundreds of pieces. The boar then dashed frantically around the room before exiting through the very same portal from which it had made its violent entrance.

The mothers and children took cover by getting up on top of the tables and chairs, and although no one was hurt, all were visibly rattled when the police arrived later. According to the police report, the parish is providing "psychological support" for all those who need it.

Victims of the attack told police that the boar, suspected to be female, sustained injuries from crashing through the glass. After briefly running around the room, the wild sow ran back toward the cemetery, suggesting that she may have been just as frightened by the encounter as were the shaken members of the breakfast club.

If so, the boar was right to be concerned. Just minutes after the church-rampage, the driver of a police vehicle phoned headquarters to report that he had run over a wild sow on the near-by Schwanheimer bridge. The sow did not survive the collision, and the police believe it to be likely that the Jane Doe who perished in this second incident is in fact the self-same boar.

A Startling Trend

2008 has been a banner year for wild boar incidents in Germany, with sudden attacks, often in gangs, becoming an increasingly familiar sight.

After groups of angry boars assaulted car thieves and layed waste to a home-improvement store earlier this year, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in the years to come, even the country's most urban districts will no longer safe from the boars' wild onslaught.

Original here

Area Man Holding Out Until Next Exit For Better Fast Food Options

Area Man

Don Turnbee weighs his options.

ERIE, PA—Local fast food consumer and occasional motorist Don Turnbee announced his decision Wednesday to bypass I-79's Greenville exit in hopes that the following turnoff would lead to more appealing fast food options.

According to Turnbee, though the previous exit had several fast food establishments to choose from, the 41-year-old said that he "didn't feel like McDonald's," and that he had "just had Taco Bell a couple days ago."

"I think I want Wendy's," Turnbee told reporters at a rest stop alongside the highway. "There hasn't been a Wendy's in a while so there will probably be one at the next exit or the one after that."

"When you get on the road, there are more McDonald's and Burger Kings than Wendy's," Turnbee explained. "You'd think it'd be about the same, but it isn't."

While holding out for a superior option, Turnbee has passed on multiple eating opportunities, including a Long John Silver's at the Conneaut Lake exit, a Roy Rogers in Saegertown, and an entire fast food plaza off exit 147A containing an Arby's, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Quiznos, Burger King, and Starbucks.

"I'm not turning off for a Starbucks," Turnbee said of the coffeehouse chain. "Starbucks isn't food."

Turnbee was unable to recall the last time he had eaten at Wendy's, saying that the one closest to him is "kind of far away," since it is located pretty much where the old Rax used to be. Despite not frequenting a Wendy's in months, Turnbee said that his current trip has reinvigorated his enthusiasm for the fast food chain.

"I like the No. 2 there," said Turnbee, referring to the Wendy's Old Fashioned Combination Meal consisting of a double cheeseburger, a large order of French fries, and a large soft drink. "They stopped doing Biggie sizes a while ago, but large is Biggie. It's the same."

"The chili's okay," he added.

Turnbee, who is currently on route to pick up his wife, Shelly, from her sister's house, said he would be on the lookout for a dining service sign with a miniature Wendy's logo. While Turnbee said he depends on these icons to inform him as to what dining options are ahead, he was confused by one near the Mercer exit, which had an image of just a fork and knife, and no other specific details.

Turnbee claimed the dining icon probably meant that the restaurants at that exit were of the sit-down variety only.

"I bet it had places like Perkins or Cracker Barrel," Turnbee said. "They aren't bad, but when I'm on my way somewhere I don't like to waste time with waiters and stuff."

According to fellow motorists, Turnbee was spotted pulling off at a rest stop along I-79 an hour into his trip. At the rest stop, sources confirmed that Turnbee approached a pair of vending machines, carefully surveyed their contents, and then turned around to exit the building.

"I don't want peanut butter cups or chips," Turnbee told reporters, adding that he would draw on past turnpike-driving experiences to aid him in his most recent fast food endeavor. "A month ago I wanted Burger King, but I got off too early and ended up getting a piece of pizza at a Sbarro even though I didn't want a piece of pizza. And then the next exit had a Burger King."

Turnbee said there have been two Wendy's restaurants on his drive thus far. He didn't patronize the first, he said, because he hadn't gotten far enough along in his trip to justify making a pit stop. He mistakenly passed the second because he was "fiddling with the dang radio," and by the time he realized what had happened it was too late.

"I'm getting hungry," he said.

Though Turnbee remains steadfast in his decision to eat at Wendy's, he stated that he would only leave the highway if the establishment "seemed all right" and was visible from his car.

"One time I got off and instead of the Taco Bell being right there, there was another small Taco Bell sign with an arrow pointing to the left," Turnbee said. "I drove for a good five minutes, but all I saw were some houses and trees. I'm not doing that again."

As of press time, Turnbee was observed getting off the Breezewood exit. Onlookers said he pulled into a Wendy's location, noted that the line inside the restaurant extended beyond the crimson-roped metal stanchions, and then proceeded to leave.

Turnbee was last seen pulling into the McDonald's across the street.

Original here

If nobody died in the procurement of my gift I don’t want it

By: Bobby Finstock

To my loyal readers,

I’ve decided to adopt a new policy in regards to Christmas presents this holiday season, if nobody died in the procurement or making of my gift I don’t want it. Now you might say that is cruel or sadistic but really what says, “I really care about you” more than the death of an innocent person? Nothing I say.
So here are some suggestions on what you can get me for Christmas.

A blood diamond- No not the DVD with Leonardo DiCaprio and the one guy that plays a native African in every movie since Amistad… Djimon Hounsou. Just a side note but how crappy of a type casting has he been labeled with? “We need a big muscular black guy that sounds like he is from Africa… Get Djimon on the phone.” The sad thing is the dude has some serious acting chops. Just once I want to see him as Joe the next-door neighbor.

Anyway back to what I was saying… A blood diamond I is a pretty sweet gift. I mean it isn’t like one or two people were exploited or killed for one of these bad boys. The diamond basically financed a war, an insurgency, or the rule of a bloodthirsty warlord so there are hundreds of thousands of people impacted by this.

Something that was stolen from a Jewish family during WW2- What gift says I love you more than something stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis on their way to a death camp? Nothing I say.

Plus you have the added bonus of the gift probably being art that was handed down through generations of a family that was ripped apart or ended by the Holocaust. So it just isn’t a piece of art it is the end of a legacy, sweet.

Something purchased at Wal-Mart on Black Friday- You still have a few hours left but what better way to show your compassion and love for someone than to trample a man to death and cause a woman to have a miscarriage (the miscarriage note was removed from the article because apparently the mother and baby are fine) as you knock her over on your way to low prices?

That cheap blu-ray player you bought me will probably break in six months but the blood on the box will last forever and really isn’t that what the holiday season is about.

Of course if you don’t have any money to buy these gifts you can just mug someone and stab them on their way out of the store. If you are going to do that make sure it is something electronic I have enough clothing right now.

Bobby Finstock

Original here

6 Ways World of Warcraft is Worse Than Real Life

By Christina H

If you don't play World of Warcraft, you have friends that do. And while we can't begin to explain all the ins and outs of this 11 million-member community, we can bring out a few fascinating aspects of the WoW lifestyle ... some of which you might wish you could go back to not knowing.

Did you know...

WoW is a Lot Like Work

In World of Warcraft, like real life, you need money. WoW uses in-game gold as currency and to do the fun stuff ("raiding" and killing huge monsters) you'll need a lot of gold. And getting it isn't a whole lot more fun than working at Burger King.

You earn gold by "farming," which is the slang term for the monotonous quests players slog through each day, that generally involve killing X monsters, or collecting X items and getting gold in return. Over and over and over again. For hours.

Active players will need to do this tedious farming about two days a week, to fund the actual fun part of their game. So basically not only do you have to work a day job to pay for the game, but your character also has to have a day job to pay for his raiding.

Even stranger, enterprising gamers can make gold in a sort of commodities market that has formed in the WoW world. There is an in-game auction house where items are bought and sold between players. So you can sit there among the elves and monsters and act like you're on the floor of the stock exchange. Buy low, sell high, get rich.

There are even complex software plugins people use to track price histories and trends. There is speculation, price fluctuations, and selling panics. If you're asking why this is superior to, say, getting a similar job in real life, we suspect the answer is that in WoW you get to dress like this the whole time:

WoW is Also a Lot Like Job Hunting

You know how during your first month in prison you want to find a gang to join, so somebody's got your back in case you get shanked in the yard? Well in World of Warcraft those gangs are called guilds.

Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, guilds have plenty of people lining up ready to sacrifice their social lives to the group. Aspiring members are so eager that they are willing to go through a ridiculously involved guild application process. So you...

1. Register on the guild forum and fill out an application like this one.

2. Guild officers then go over your application, check out your equipment and contact you if you meet their standards.

3. If you measure up, you'll be allowed to go on some raids (missions) with them as an "app", where you're allowed only limited participation. This could go on for weeks.

"And you say if I do this, you'll let me in your guild?"

4. You will go on some more raids with them as a "trial", now with limited access to forums and guild chat. Again this could last for weeks or months.

5. Finally you will be made a full "member", assuming you've not been rejected at any of the previous steps.

You might have noticed that most political offices don't have that kind of vetting process. There are even websites featuring guild application tips and applicants often spend insane amounts of time putting together biographies or even animated presentations touting their skills.

And when applicants get turned down, it gets ugly.

At this point, guild shopping might sound suspiciously like job hunting to you, but it isn't. When you apply for a job, employers not only don't mind you applying for other jobs at the same time, they expect it. In WoW, you are expected to only apply with one guild at a time. So if the months-long trail period ends in failure, you start over.

And you do it all for the privilege of wearing the guild's proud name over your head everywhere you go.

Prejudice is Alive and Well in the Game World

Like in any social environment, WoW has stereotypes. Of course the players can't see your actual race, but that's okay. You choose a race and class when you start the game, and you'll be stereotyped based on that instead.

For instance, you can choose to play as a Hunter. People will promptly refer to you as a "huntard" and start speaking to you loudly and slowly. Are hunters dumber on average than any other class? It's impossible to prove that kind of thing with hard facts or statistics, but yes.

It turns out a lot of new players and/or kiddies choose hunters when they first start playing (it's an easy class for the novice) so the "Hunter=Dumbass" stereotype was born and deeply entrenched in the culture.

Another class, Rogues, have a reputation for being assholes. Again, there's a reason for this. When playing against other humans, their most effective means of attack is to sneak up on people before they're ready, kill them very quickly, and use their abilities to run away before their victim's friends can get revenge.

Thus, players have figured out that many people select Rogues specifically because they enjoy this kind of hit-and-run behavior. Again we're not saying that all rogue players are bad people, but they are.

A Whole Lot of Play Time is Spent Doing Things That Have Nothing to do With the Game

You would think that with raiding and guild duties and farming WoW players would be happy to have a free hour to sleep or possibly shower. Some manage to scrape the time together, but others take that free time as a challenge.

So, you wind up with activities like group dancing. In WoW, every player can dance, via the /dance command, and every race has a unique dance (male blood elves do the Napoleon Dynamite dance for example).

Druids can shapeshift, and their shapeshifted animal forms all have their own dances. Get a few dancing bears together, and everybody joins in, often leading to spontaneous dancing bear parades through the streets of a city, or massive dancing bear circles. Seriously.

Others spend time--a lot of time--coordinating group pictures, such as this masterpiece:

If you're not sure what you're looking at there, 25 or so players gathered around this shaft of light, summoned "mounts" (flying creatures) to fly to various heights, then all jumped off simultaneously so they could take this snapshot of them suspended in the beam, a split second before they all plummeted into a broken pile on the ground.

If that's not your thing, you can get a pet. Sure, WoW has companion creatures that will help you in combat and such, but others... they're just there.

"Stay. Good. This is a fun video game."

Some are bought, others can only be won by buying packs of the accompanying WoW trading card game until you get an extra rare card that gives you an in-game code for the pet. Some can only be obtained from attending the yearly WoW convention in Southern California.

And they're worth a lot of money. Not WoW gold, either. Real money.

These pets don't even have the interactivity of Nintendogs or Tamagotchis. They follow you around. They occasionally make noises. That's it. You can't pet them or feed them or tell them to do anything. But god damn will your guildmates be jealous when you show them what you did with your $750.

You Have to Learn a New (Retarded) Language

How many bits of jargon can a single game create in just a few years of existence? Well this site lists over a thousand bits of terminology and slang specific to WoW. Some interesting (and telling) examples:

Bio break: Apparently it is rude to say "pee", and "restroom" is too long to type, because when WoW players need to take 30 seconds to dash to the toilet and empty their bladders, they say "Bio", or if they hope to sneak one in while other people are talking or getting ready, "Ninja bio". As in, "biology has interrupted my game, and I must tend to it."

Ninja Bio Receptacle.

RL: "Real life". It seems kind of depressing that you need a qualifying term to point out when you're talking about real life. Especially when that the term is most used as a negative competing priority. "I'm sorry I couldn't make the raid tonight, RL got in the way."

Wife/Girlfriend Aggro: "Aggro" is itself a game term, used on boss fights (when you're getting "aggro" from the bad guy it means he's focused on attacking you).

Hard as it may be to believe, sometimes a WoW player may have a significant other who does not play WoW. Sometimes this person (usually female in these cases) tends to be a crazy, unreasonable harpy who wants their husband/boyfriend to spend time with them sometimes instead of going on WoW raids all night.

"Sorry, guys, my girlfriend's being unreasonable again."

When these demands become extreme, sometimes the raider will joke to his fellow raiders that he has "pulled wife aggro" and has to go appease that crazy broad.

The WoW World is Plagued by Sexual Deviants

Like any online community, WoW has its share of perverts. One particularly odd manifestation of this is people approaching Night Elf female characters--that's these things:

...and offering WoW gold to take off their clothes and dance. Why they can't make their own Night Elf female character, take off its clothes, and dance, is going to have to remain between them and God because we don't really want to know.

Incredibly, WoW's programmers didn't seem to anticipate any of this and so the game doesn't give players a lot of ability to perform any sexual actions. But horny people with lots of spare time can get pretty creative.

Apparently male night elves have two penises.

Then there's the Deeprun Tram, an automated tram running between two major WoW cities, which has gained a reputation as a place for perverts to secretly have cyber sex (and sometimes they get caught, as relayed in this infamous tale).

Probably the most famous WoW pervert went by the character name "Bronze Mustache". Whether this is some kind of porn reference or not, we don't know, as we don't really know much about the intricacies of the Chinese language.

Googling "Bronze Mustache" is much safer than "World of Warcraft Sex Pervert."

This WoW soap opera carried out among some Chinese players is pretty long and convoluted, but the basics are that "Bronze Mustache" stole another guy's wife, "Quiet Moon", and the Chinese WoW community became so upset over it that there were mass server-crashing protests eventually culminating in a mass in-game suicide:

Their sordid tale is recounted here, including original posts from the aggrieved husband and international newspaper accounts. Sample chat log:

Finally there's this thoughtful blog post and discussion about in-game sex that offers some insights possibly better left unexplored. From the comments:

"On my server in particular we had a swingers guild, where the players would meet with each other IRL, slam it, and then return to their regularly scheduled lives. There were women characters, played by women , that were known to be cyberers. I had more than one girl actually want to call me up and have phone sex. More than one naked photo sent to me.

So what am I trying to say? Through it all, MMO's are sometimes a very clear mirror of Real life."

Original here