Since 2010 the Madison based website Murfie has been an internet based business that digitizes your audio CD’s, vinyl and cassettes. You mail in your collection, Murfie rips them to the cloud and digitize your music for your listening pleasure. Then, for a monthly fee, Murfie storied the actual hard copies of your music collection.
Okay. Seems like a decent idea.
Except of course, after several years of business as usual, as of late November, the Murfie website has this message:
Suddenly, thousands of people who were paying their monthly fee to Murfie’s all had the exact same question in mind, “Ummm … how the F am I going to get my CD’s / vinyl / cassettes back?”
And there’s the rub.
It sounds as if customers were blindsided with the news, too. Apparently, as late as November 17th, Murfie charged folks to their monthly membership and then, not even one week later “ceased operations.” Hence the message above. Seems shady to me.
Now, Murfie does have one page still functioning, their “Terms of Service” page. It says:
“Every CD and vinyl record you store at Murfie HQ is your property. We take that very seriously. In the event Murfie goes out of business, you will get back every CD and vinyl record you own in your current collection.
If it's inside the 90-Day Guarantee period, we guarantee to pay all shipping and handling expenses required to return your collection. After this Guarantee expires, our regular shipping/handling costs would apply. See our Pricing page for current shipping rates.”
I should also note that the link to the “Pricing” page is broken.
Millions of people’s CD’s have, mostly likely ... vanished. Or in the words of some of the comments, if this took place in Madison … perhaps we should all go dumpster diving in Madison and search for those missing million CD’s.
In a long exchange of customers on the Sonos chat page, customers don’t even know who to complain to. The site is dead, which means no one at the site is responding … because it’s dead. The company didn’t even have a current CEO.
And, uh-oh. I just found out that Murfie did try and get hold of customers to let them know the company was going away but they didn’t give them very much time to respond. An email was sent at the end of November telling customers Murfie was shutting down but his was only days after that Nov17th charging their monthly fee, and that customers should await instructions on how to get their stuff back. But, um … the email was sent over Black Friday weekend and gave the customer only until December 2nd (later extended to December 5th) to fill out a Google form and pay a fee to get your CD’s back. How much of a fee? Well, it was $100.00 plus $.45 per disc. Which, seems like a lot to me.
From their email:
"Unfortunately Murfie's financial situation precludes any ability to reimburse customers for unused portions of subscriptions or for any Murfie credits that may have accumulated. Murfie' secured creditors have joined together with a few former Murfie customers to informally aid customers seeking return of their CDs. Since Murfie's debt obligations far exceed cash on hand, any return of customer media must be funded by the customers themselves."
And then they tell customers that any and all CD's not picked up by the end of December will be ... recycled. Ugh. That’s painful. And that, as they say … is probably that.
In Michigan, a 33 year old man named Alex Lavell Rawls (our suspect) kicked down a door in search of his ex-girlfriend. Perhaps obviously, he wasn’t there to rescue her. After a series of harassment and threats of violence against her, he decided to go kick her door down. So, Rawls goes over to her place to due her harm, not knowing that - she had already moved to another state in order to get away from his lunatic ass! Cut to: Rawls gets to her apartment and pounds on the door.
Enter Ben Ball, 36. Ben is a regular kind of guy who likes regular kind of things - he goes to work, he plays video games, he watches cool things on TV and … oh yeah, he collects and practices in the use of medieval weaponry! You see, on the weekends, Ball and friends choreograph and video live re-enactments of savage Viking-esq warrior combat. Ball has a wide collection of medieval weapons in his apartment up to and including, as he puts its, “my baby,” and in this case, his baby is a replica double headed carbon steel battle axe.
By “replica” I don’t mean fake. I mean, it’s an exact recreation of a battle axe that had been specifically designed to injure an armored knight. Or cut off limbs of an unarmored person.
Keep that in mind.
Back to Rawls. He heads over to his ex-girlfriend's house for some more harassing and threatening. He pounds on her door. Ball answers and recognizes Rawls as the guy who used to date his roommate. Ball explains to Rawls that his roommate no longer lives here and tells the irate exboyfriend that she moved to Florida.
Rawls doesn’t believe Ball, but leaves; however, he returns a short time later and kicks the door open, shattering the doorframe. Then Rawls rushes into the apartment to attack Ball.
It’s now a full on home invasion.
So, Ball does what any of us would have done. He picks up a weapon and defends himself. You might use a gun. I might use a knife. But Ball uses his baby. He picks up that carbon steel axe and chops Rawls right in the chest cutting him wide open.
But Rawls was in mid charge and his momentum kept him going forward until he slams into Ball. In a chaotic melee, the two of them smash through the apartment. Ball drops the Axe, the apartment is demolished and both men go for the weapon.
Eventually, the wound on Rawls’ chest is too much and he flees in terror. Neighbors call the cops. Police and K9 units arrive, follow the trail of blood and eventually capture Rawls.
Ball is a little banged up, but he’s in good shape. Rawls, already a felon, is arrested and faces up to 20 years in jail for first degree home invasion.
As for the ex-girlfriend in question? Well, it sounds like she totally knew what she was doing when she moved to another state in order to get away from lunatic Rawls.
I’m glad she’s safe. I’m glad Ball is relatively unharmed. I’m glad Rawls is in custody.
This has been another entry in “Weird, (but awesome) news!”
In one of those, “no one would believe this if it was in a movie,” stories we bring you “Wholesale Hitman!” Over a real estate dispute gone sour & a lawsuit in China, mogul Tan Youhui hired a hitman to kill a rival developer.
You see, in 2013 Tan Youhui hired Xi Guangan for $2m Yuan (approx. $275,000 with all further money being translated into US dollars) to kill his business rival. But, um … well, Guangan kind of … didn’t do it. He hired a second man to do the job for him!
Xi Guangan hired Mo Tianxiang for half the sum he had received up front. Now we have a second hitman on the job! Only, um … the second hitman didn’t do it, either. He paid a third hitman to kill the developer and that’s how Yang Kangsheng got the contract. Kangsheng, the third hitman was offered about $38,000 up front and promised an additional $71,000 upon contract completion.
But, plot twist (that you probably saw coming from a mile away)! The following year, which brings us to 2014 - Yang contracted Yang Guangsheng, a fourth hitman and offered him $28,000 up front and a promise of an additional $71,000 upon completion of the contract. So, by now Yang Kangsheng (the 3rd hitman) was anticipating the $38,000 up front and the additional $71,000 which all would go to the fourth hitman leaving the third hitman with only a $10,000 profit. Okay. I guess it’s still $10,000 right? Nothing to shake a stick at.
Well, as the fates would have it, the fourth hitman - also didn’t want to go through with it. Several months later, the second Yang hired Ling Xiansi for $14,000 to, you guessed it - kill the developer!
Ling finally spilled the beans to the actual target about the assassination plot and then, in another bizaarre plot twist the two of them faked his murder up to and including staged photos attempted to collect the cash and, presumably evenly split it.
Which didn’t work. So, the developer, who was the target, finally went to the police and reported the plot. As one hitman led to the next, each spilled the beans on the person that hired them and soon enough, all of them, including the original man who hired the first hitman, had been arrested.
The initial developer who started the plot, received five years in jail. All the hitmen involved received between two and four years in jail.
Seriously, though. Can you imagine sitting in a movie theater watching this plot unfold? By the fourth hitman hired I’m sure most audience members would be like, “Really, he hired a fourth hitman! This is starting to get a bit much!” By the time that fifth hitman was hired audience members would be eye rolling their disbelief in movie theaters everywhere!
But, as they always says, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
AOC was holding a town hall meeting in Queens, when a woman stood up and … well … ranted crazy person stuff. The video (linked on the front page) captures the entire thing. The woman acts agitated because no one is taking climate control seriously but then she quickly switches gears to throw out these oddities:
“I’m happy that you are really supporting a Green New Deal, but it’s not enough … we don’t have enough time … we have to get rid of the babies … even if we were to bomb Russia, we still have too many people, too much pollution. So we have to get rid of the babies. That’s a big problem. Just stopping having babies is not enough. We need to eat the babies.”
She even had a t-shirt that said, “Save the Planet. Eat the Children.” At first it appears the woman is mentally ill and you feel kind of sorry for her. AOC keeps her cool through the rant, ignoring the crazy stuff and repeats to the woman a few times, “it’s okay,” in an effort to try and calm her down. AOC clearly assumed what we all did - this woman is ill! Alas, by the end of the crazy rant you can tell she’s trolling AOC.
I mean, “eat the babies?” My spider sense exploded. There is no way this woman is legit.
Turns out, she isn’t! The woman was posing as an AOC supporter but was actually a member of LaRouchePAC, a far right climate change denying group that supports Donald Trump. Thursday evening they posted the video on Twitter and wrote “It was us. Malthusianism isn’t new, Jonathan Swift knew that. Sometimes, only satire works.” (Editor’s note: Malthusianism is the idea that population growth is potentially exponential while the growth of the food supply is linear and in theory cause massive food shortages and starvation.)
Lyndon Larouche Jr, who died in February, co-founded the LaRouche group sometime in the mid 70’s so he could, well - troll politicians. He was kind of a kooky guy who was a cult leader and convicted fraudster, and filled to the brim with conspiracy theories and shady connections. He was paranoid and was super convinced that everyone from the CIA, the FBI, the KBG up to and including the Queen of England wanted to have him killed. Despite that, he was a fringe political activist for many decades and died at the age of 96.
I give the LaRouche team points for the trolling effort but AOC was unflappable during the event so I’m calling this one a tie.
Weird, but delightful news! Buck’s T-4 Lodge in Big Sky, Montana (about 45 minutes from Yellowstone National Park) had an uninvited guest wander into the motel and take a nap. A young black bear made his way into the ladies bathroom, climbed up on the sink and hung out for a while. In this case, “hung out” means, “took a huge dump.” Which is kind of hilarious.
Staff tried their best to coax the bear out but the little bear that could was unfazed and opted to climb onto the sink and chill. Apparently, staff had heard the bear banging around outside and one even saw him through the window but no one actually expected the bear to climb up an outside wall and slip through a window into the building - which is precisely what the crafty little guy did. Which is how he ended up in the bathroom - and that’s how he was stuck. He was unable to climb back out and obviously didn’t understand how to open a door. So he pretty much decided to just take a nap on the sink.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officers were called in and had to tranquilize the bear but it sounds like the little guy was unharmed in the process and so officers picked up the sleeping bear and removed him from the hotel. Officers then checked his vitals and released him in a remote area of Montana.
Talk about "smarter than the average, bear!"
For those who have not heard - the Impossible Burger is restaurants (and chains) hottest trend right now! If you’re unfamiliar with the Impossible Burger allow me to fill you in. The Impossible Burger is a meat free burger made entirely of soy, potato, flavored with plant molecules with added coconut and sunflower oils to give it that meat sizzle. If you want to learn more about the science behind the Impossible Burger head over to the main site of Impossible Foods, they can explain it much better than I.
But, basically, it looks like a burger, tastes much like a burger and has just as much protein as a burger. Only, it’s not a burger and it doesn’t have an ounce of meat or use a drop of animal product. Vegetarians, vegans and even meat lovers are giving the Impossible Burger rave reviews and more and more fast food chains and restaurants are putting them on the menu.
Well, the folks over at Arby’s have gone a different route and told media the roast beef loving chain will never sell “fake meat.” A rep for Arby’s went as far as saying: “The chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.” Fair enough, their motto is “We have the meats.”
Um, okay. Of course, maybe that’s what they say today and maybe they’ll change their mind tomorrow. I mean, it does seem a bit weird to me that a restaurant chain has no interest in selling food that is extremely popular - but whatever - maybe they have their own thing happening!
And boy do they ever!
Arby’s is going to start selling carrot sticks that aren’t carrots! You read that right. The “Marrot,” as they call it, looks like a carrot but is actually made entirely out of - you guessed it - meat! The Marrot is seasoned turkey breast cut, rolled, cooked, then oven-roasted, then finished with a brulee of maple sugar to make it a bit more carrot crunchy.
Um. Okay. Sounds kind of silly to me. But I’m sure the idea of a plant based fake meat burger sounds kind of silly to others so I guess it’s all fair game.
But still, we now live in a world where you can have a plant based burger and a meat based carrot. But probably not at the same place.
The Impossible Burger is currently being served around the country in a large variety of restaurants, several chain restaurants such as White Castle, Burger King and KFC, and sold at select co-ops and supermarkets. The Marrot is currently in the planning stage but Arby’s hopes to test market it in select cities soon which means, depending on customer response, The Marrot may or may not ever be a big thing.
The first time I heard that banana was “going extinct,” I kind of ignored it. I mean, one paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet does not a fact make - you know what I mean? But after reading about it another dozen times over the next several years, it’s clearly NOT a paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet. It appears as if banana extinction is legit.
Anyway, going back to 2015 is when I came across this Huffpost article called: “Your Favorite Banana Is Facing Extinction As Deadly Fungus Spreads.” From the article:
“Before 1960, your grandparents and great-grandparents were eating better bananas. Called Gros Michel, they were tastier, bigger and more resilient than the bananas found in supermarkets worldwide today ... So why can’t we too enjoy the robust creaminess of the Gros Michel, once the world’s export banana? Turns out, the species went virtually extinct in the 1960s thanks to an invasive and incurable fungus that wiped out most Gros Michel plantations around the world. That explains how the Cavendish — the blander banana we now eat — grew in prominence. It tasted worse and was less hardy than the Gros Michel, but the species seemed able to resist the fungal invasion, known as “Panama disease.”
That is, it was able to.”
So, back in 1960’s they knew all about this banana killing disease but thought that they had figured it out by creating a “blander” banana that was more resilient to this Panama disease.
Okay. Sounds good. Bananas saved. But now it looks like a new disease called Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is killing the Cavendish. According to wikipedia:
“This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries and has recently spread to Australia, India and Mozambique. It has yet to reach the Americas; however, the soil-based fungi can easily be carried on boots, clothing, or tools. This is how TR4 travels and will be its most likely route into Latin America. Cavendish is highly susceptible to TR4, and over time Cavendish will almost certainly be eliminated from commercial production by this disease.”
Okay. Sounds bad. Bananas endangered (again). The banana industry is huge. And, I mean - colossal. There are entire Latin American regions where the banana industry is so important they are literally called “banana republics,” because they are that dependant on the corporations that maintain and export from said plantations.
The three big boys on the block are, Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte - all of which primarily have plantations in South America. So, again, while the TR4 hasn’t yet reached Latin America, if it does - that will literally mean the end of bananas as we know it.
Not necessarily 100% extinction but, obviously, no longer a fruit you would be able to find all year round. I mean, consider the fact that Gros Michel bananas are not 100% extinct, they are still grown in areas where Panama disease is not found, BUT, they export less than 1% of what they used to in the 1960’s before Panama disease devastated the crops. So, there’s that to think about.
Obviously, there are a lot of smart folks trying to solve this problem, but, as of yet nothing is working. It’s just one of those things were we can hope TR4 doesn’t reach Latin America.
But if it does, that’s pretty much banana game over.
If you want to read a more detailed version of the history of, and the potential banana apocalypse, I recommend: The Quest to Save the Banana.”
A man in an Easter Bunny costume jumped to the defense of a woman involved in a bar brawl. It’s not clear how the fight began but, Sunday evening (on Easter) outside Orlando’s Underground Public House the unidentified man and woman started hitting each other. To me, they both look clearly drunk and so it was more of a lame drunk slap fest than an actual brawl. Which, is probably why no one was actually hurt.
Anyway, the man and woman were fighting and, typical of soulless a-holes everywhere these days - no one bothered to help her or break up the fight - instead everyone just took out their phones and recorded it!
That is - until the Easter Bunny stepped in. As you can clearly see in the linked video (on the front page) a man in an Easter Bunny costume hopped in and started throwing punches at the man involved in the brawl. Much to the delight of the crowd, who stood by and recorded the event.
The brawl doesn’t last long and within a minute a bike cop on patrol shows up and breaks everything up. No arrests were made and according to a witness or two, the cop shook the Easter Bunny’s hand and thanked him for helping.
Everyone went home.
Turns out - the man in the costume is Antoine McDonald - wanted felon. McDonald has a record a mile long (as they say) and an outstanding warrant in New Jersey. His rap sheet is littered with armed robbery, car burglary, harassment and identity theft. After the bar he told various social media outlets that he was the person in the costume and that he, typically wasn’t a violent person.
According to cops in his former home state, McDonald fled New Jersey after the arrest warrant was issued and so never appeared in court. New Jersey police even, “thought he fled to Florida.”
Turns out - they were right! McDonald was in Florida. In an Easter Bunny costume. Breaking up brawls. As of Wednesday, his whereabouts are unknown. But it does go to show that people are complex. Someone can be a felon wanted for burglary, and armed robbery and still make good decisions to help people.
And other people, who are probably generally good - can stand around and record people helping other people while they themselves, do nothing to assist.
Evaldas Rimašauskas, from Lithuanian has been arrested for stealing more than $100 million dollars from tech giants Google and Facebook. In kind of a genius level scam, Evaldas simply - created a fake company and sent FB and Google fake bills for fake product they never ordered that he (obviously) never sent them! Google and Facebook responded by - promptly paying all of Evaldas’ invoices to the tune of about $100 mil from Facebook and another $20 mil from Google.
Wow. Who knew it would be that easy to scam $120 million dollars? But there it is.
On the other hand - Evaldas was caught. He even confessed to the grift, and now faces up to 30 years in jail for fraud. So, that’s not so great for him. But there it is.
On the other hand - he did live like a king for several years while he was worth a $100 million. So, there’s that.
Evaldas has agreed to, get this - pay back $50 million! WTF? Umm … well ….what happened to the other $70 million? Gone? Hidden away in multiple Swiss Bank accounts? Who knows. And what’s he plan to do with the money he’s keeping, anyway? He’s going to jail! For, like - a long time. And he’s already in his thirties. On the other hand, if he gets the maximum 30 year sentence and gets out of jail in his sixties - he’ll clearly live a very cush life until he dies and he'll have the money for great health care which means he'll probably make it into his eighties, maybe longer.
This is one of those “he got caught but kind of got away with it type deals,” ain’t it?
And they say crime doesn’t pay.