Afternoon Links: Philly Targets the Bodega, Top Rated Fake Restaurants, and Senatorial Tears

Gaming TripAdvisor. Surely, you’ve used sites like Yelp!, TripAdvisor, or others when visiting strange news places. What if one of the top-rated restaurants there was a complete fake? That’s what VICE UK‘s Oobah Butler, a clever prankster, did with his backyard shed:

And then, 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 bullshit, maybe a fake restaurant is possible? Maybe it’s exactly the kind of place that could be a hit?

In that moment, it became my mission. With the help of fake reviews, mystique and nonsense, I was going to do it: turn my shed into London’s top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.

It’s a great story, especially the part where people are begging him to eat there and using their media email addresses to do it. In the end, Butler does open up The Shed at Dulwich for one night. It’s sort of amazing that this guy was able to hype up a place that didn’t exist, while others literally ruin their lives to pursue their dreams.

Philadelphia goes after the bodegas. Ah, the city of Brotherly Love! Fresh off of their much-hated soft drink tax, local leaders are now trying to put small-market stores out of business. How? By forcing them to risk getting shot or stabbed by criminals:

The Public Health and Human Services Committee has passed a bill which enables the city’s Licenses and Inspections department to regulate the bullet-resistant barricade that stands between customers and cash registers in many neighborhood corner stores.

The bill moving through city council reads: “No establishment shall erect or maintain a physical barrier.”

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who clearly knows better than her constituents, tells FOX29 that: “We want to make sure that there isn’t this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a Plexiglas only in certain neighborhoods.” FOX29 reports: “She says she wants to put some controls on these small stores that, from her point of view, sell booze, very little food and are a source of trouble for her district.”

The “Stop and Go” bill, as it’s called, should be renamed: Shut Down Your Store or Die Trying to Keep It Alive.

Tears in the Senate. Senator Al Franken announced today that in the coming weeks, he will resign his seat in the upper chamber due to the controversy surrounding allegations of groping and forced kissing. Earlier, Alabama Senator Luther Strange gave his farewell address, as he lost to Roy Moore in the primary. Other Senators came by and paid their respects and said goodbye, as is a Senate tradition. As a former Senate staffer, I recall attending Ted Stevens’s farewell speech, which was one of the big ones. And, when my old boss Jon Kyl retired, I sat up in the press gallery with Fred Barnes to show my respect.

Al Franken’s resignation speech was not a farewell speech (highlights here), but still, his staff attended since they’re loyal. And, as the Examiner‘s Al Weaver reports from inside the chamber, they were sad. Even some Senators who called for him to step down were sad, too:

In all, over 30 of his Democratic colleagues called for him to step down. However, many were in the chamber to listen to his speech, including at least three senators — Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. — who were spotted wiping away tears at some point during or after his speech.

Throughout, Franken staffers sitting over his left shoulder in the back right corner of the chamber were also seen crying and wiping their faces with tissues.

The staffers will all be out of a job soon, unless Franken’s replacement keeps them. It’s sad to lose one’s job, but odd to cry when somebody is resigning like you demanded they do.

Speaking of tears, can you imagine taking away stuffed animals from kids? That is sad. My newborn twins already have at least 15 stuffed animals already and they’re not even 3 months old. So, this WSJ item on how there is now an industry of experts dedicated to eradicating stuffies sort of makes sense. Though, it’s got some strange suggestions for how notto traumatize your wee ones:

But they’re gradually dreaded by parents, doctors, teachers and other adults who must grapple with stuffed-animal overpopulation. Cuddly companions harbor allergens, get dirty, smelly, torn and threadbare and take up far too much room, grown-ups say. They also keep coming: Sales of traditional plush toys are up 15% over the year before, far outpacing the overall toy industry, according to market researcher NPD Group.

Stuffed animals are among the most difficult belongings to part with, according to professional organizers. “It’s very easy to get attached because they are modeled after live beings, so people tend to treat them like they are alive,” says decluttering guru Marie Kondo.

She suggests blindfolding beloved ones before disposal. “Their eyes give off the energy that they are alive, so if we cover the eyes it won’t give off that energy anymore,” she says.

The folks at the Journal even made a blindfolded teddy bear hedcut. At least give the good bear a smoke before the firing squad, will ya? He’s only guilty of being cute, and donating used stuffies can be logistically difficult in a lot of places, meaning the toy will often times be destroyed.

Couple tempts fate. CNN reports:

Julian P. Boom and Fleur Pierets say they plan to get married in every country that recognizes same-sex marriage. Since September, the lesbian couple has exchanged vows in the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. By 2019, they plan to wed at least 20 more times.

“For them,” Spencer Feingold writes, “the global challenge is both activism and performance art.” Yes, but it also is setting up what could be one of the most logistically difficult divorces in the history of the world.

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