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Their ancestors were on opposite sides of a lynching. Now they are friends.

Why is the West praising Malala but ignoring Ahed?

A look at how Barack Obama chose Wall Street over Main Street.

Dolls’ heads were used to lobby pothole repairs in the British town of Swindon.

The next financial crisis will be worse than the last one.

Millions of poor rural voters now hate Trump and millions of rich voters still support him, but the press only profiles poor people who remain Trumpists.

The last slave ship survivor gave an interview to anthropologist Zora Neal Hurston in the 1930s.

How the GOP tax cut will also shrink your paycheck.

Survey of top U.S. evangelical churches reveals three explosive insights.

An interview with 98-year-old Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials.

How poverty changes the brain.

Hedge funds killed the newspaper industry, not the web.

The black Baltimore arabber tradition is on its last leg. For the city’s sake, it should continue.

Trump voters, he’s taking you for suckers.

The right is waging war on academic freedom.

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Today is the last day that Toys R Us is in business. When it closes its doors at the end of the day today, the entire store chain will be history after being in business for 70 years. When Toys R Us began closing a huge amount of its stores in January, I took photos of the one in Annapolis because, at the time, it was among the stores that were NOT slated to be closed. I had heard rumors that the entire chain would eventually go kaput so I decided to take photos of what an average Toys R Us store was like on a typical business day. I purchased a Fingerlings monkey and I was given this free frequent rewards card.

I ended up never needing to use that card because soon after that trip Toys R Us decided to close all of its stores at once. I went back to the Annapolis store during the early phase of that going out of business sale in late March. I made one more trip to that same store in early April, mainly because I was visiting another place in the same area at the time and I decided to drop by the store. I made one impulse purchase on that trip—a 12-inch plush version of the store’s mascot, Geoffrey Giraffe.

Here’s a closeup of his hoof with the backwards letter “R”, which was part of the Toys R Us logo.


You can see more photos of Geoffrey in my April post.

That purchase of Geoffrey Giraffe turned out to be the last thing I ever purchased from Toys R Us. I wasn’t able to make any more return trips to any Toys R Us store after April due mainly to the fact that all of the last remaining Toys R Us stores are located at least a half-an-hour’s drive away from where I live and money was too tight for me to make too many long-distance trips. (It wasn’t always like this. At one point there were three Toys R Us stores located closer to my home but—one by one—they gradually closed until my only Toy R Us shopping options depended on taking long car trips.) So I’ve ended up experiencing the last day of Toys R Us virtually, thanks to YouTube videos like these.



Given what happened, I think it’s very appropriate that the Geoffrey Giraffe plush toy was the last thing I ever purchased from Toys R Us since he was the corporate mascot. He even appears on this latest melancholy update of Toys R’s website, which announced its farewell.

Toys R Us got killed off by Wall Street corporate greed while its workers are now out of a job. Adding insult to injury, Toys R Us has refused to give their employees any kind of a severance package and they are now organizing to fight that chain for what should be rightfully theirs. It’s a horrible situation no matter how you look at it. Too bad, so sad.

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A look at the digital ruins of a forgotten future called Second Life.

U.S. mints coins for Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit that might not happen.

Fewer tourists are coming to the U.S. and experts say that it’s largely Trump’s fault.

Barbie “Shero” doll with a hijab honors Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Martin Luther King may have been killed by a Memphis police officer, not James Earl Ray.

How white Americans used lynchings to terrorize and control black people.

Laminated jewelry crafted from vintage books by Jeremy May.

A look at the guerrilla grafting movement—secretly grafting fruit-bearing trees onto ornamental city trees in order to feed the poor.

A Princeton sociologist spent 8 years asking rural Americans why they are so pissed off. Hint: It’s not about the economy.

The surprising secret to aging well.

New York City has genetically distinct “uptown” and “downtown” rats.

Why the DNC is fighting WikiLeaks and not Wall Street.

How Australia all but ended gun violence.

83,500 vintage sewing patterns put into online database from Vogue, McCall’s, Butterick, and Simplicity.

Stunning images of pagan costumes worn at winter celebrations around the world.

Watch the illustrated version of “Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic.

The bots that are changing politics.

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A free tutorial on how to make your own DIY safe from common household items like a can of shaving cream.

Democrats paid a huge price for letting unions die.

Sexism, remembered and forgotten.

Remembering the life and music of labor agitator Joe Hill.

The 10 greatest films of all time according to 846 film critics.

15 gay Founding Fathers and Mothers.

How to make America more like Scandinavia.

Hey, Nicki Minaj, Pocahontas was a rape survivor, not a sex symbol.

Before buying a Kindle, consider the physical book’s benefits.

The Internet is enabling a new kind of poorly paid hell.

One person’s opinion after visiting the Museum of the Bible.

Closing malls and bankrupt stores: blame Wall Street predation for the “retail apocalypse.”

An Etsy seller specializes in papercraft dollhouse-sized miniatures of furniture, housewares, and decor.

Your brain on poverty or why poor people seem to make bad decisions.

Yeah, sure, #Resistance, let’s pretend that Bill Clinton isn’t a sexual predator. 

Forget the Nordic Diet. Try the Nordic Tax Plan.

Behind the scenes of the new Museum of Selfies in Los Angeles.

The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis.

Harvey Weinstein, Hugh Hefner and the poor excuse that explains a lot.

American Flag

Let’s take a moment to remember the sacrifices our armed troops have made for this country on this Veterans Day holiday.

Now let’s go on to the links for this week.

A U.S. military veteran speaks out on the issue of whether NFL players should be allowed to take a knee or be required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

NFL players never used to stand for the national anthem before 2009, when the NFL switched it as a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic.

Here are some ways people disrespect the flag daily based on flag code.

Niger is the perfect example of the US state of perma-war.

How Twitter killed the First Amendment.

Sorry, but Haribo gummies are reportedly made with slave labor.

Interesting and colorful paintings made with controlled pours.

Artist shows how people in other professions react when asked for free stuff.

How to be an artist, according to Bauhaus master Josef Albers.

Artists who caught companies and fake artists shamelessly copyright their work and selling it.

White people commit the most heinous crimes, so why is America terrified of black men?

11th-century herbal remedy guide now digitized and online.

Wall Street got a bailout, why not Puerto Rico?

One man’s hobby is to Photoshop himself into various celebrity photos in a hilarious way.

Facing poverty, adjunct professors in America turn to sex work and sleeping in cars.

How to master color theory.

Trumpism run amok: How Alabama’s GOP runoff explains the brave new world.

Profile of an American city where the government barely exists.

Is this the end of the job as we know it?

Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why America should have seen Trump coming.

Leonardo da Vinci’s bizarre caricatures and monster drawings.

Hurricane Maria started in 1898: how America spent more than a century brutalizing Puerto Rico.

The United Nations says that robots could destabilize the world through war and unemployment.

How many Palm Beach mansions does a Wall Street tycoon need? As many as destroying America’s hometown newspapers can buy him.

Smithsonian digitizes and lets you download 40,000 works of Asian and American art for free.

Silicon Valley is now using empathy as a marketing tool to sell virtual reality equipment.

The late Steve Erwin’s son is an award-winning photographer and these photos show why.

Why it’s hard to separate Woody Allen the director from Woody Allen the person.

Yes, you can make your own solar cells from white powdered donuts.

The first historical record of Jesus describes him as a “magician.”

An interesting looking crochet version of The Exorcist.

Obama goes from the White House to Wall Street in less than one year.

Amateur artist turns old flip-flops into amazing action figures.

12-year-old boy creates creepy yet awesome sculptures using found materials.

The psychedelic retro-futurism of Swedish artist Kilian Eng.

The making of the first hand-drawn VR cartoon.

People are attacking Kendall and Kylie Jenner for their racist handbags…again.

Ivanka Trump hides behind her White House job to avoid a copyright lawsuit.

LuLa Roe has just changed its return policy and its consultants are screwed.

Scenes from 30 movies re-enacted with LEGO bricks.

Eight before-and-after graffiti transformations that create beauty out of blankness.

World-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall likens Donald Trump to a chimpanzee.

Bruce Springsteen lists 20 of his favorite books.

The chateau you should visit in France instead of Versailles.

Pepe the Frog’s creator has found a reliable way to fight the alt-right’s appropriation of his character.

Street-style photographers unite to proclaim #NoFreePhotos

How the band Rage Against the Machine predicted Donald Trump’s presidency 17 years ago.

This amazing tree that shows how languages are connected will change the way you see our world.

One woman’s quest to save Baltimore television, including some early footage featuring a young Oprah Winfrey.

Download Theft! A History of Music is a new free graphic novel exploring 2,000 years of musical borrowing.

Bic ballpoint pen portraits drawn on vintage maps and stationery by Mark Powell.

If you’re not getting interviews, here’s how to fix your resume and cover letter.

What happened when 165 street artists took over an abandoned building in Berlin.

Hedge fund pushes online crafts retailer Etsy to explore sale because the company’s sales growth has slowed while costs has increased.

Google’s open source DIY kit turns a Raspberry Pi into an AI assistant.

How the Fyre Festival turned into a disaster when organizers blew all their money early on models, planes, and yachts.

Man who was suicidal runs marathon with the stranger who talked him down from a bridge.

Makeup bloggers turn against consumerism.

Over 10 years, Martha Stewart has quietly become the perfect blogger while other lifestyle bloggers have come and go.

Make the ultimate embroidery wall hanging with these free printable designs.

A woman who paints tiny masterpieces in an empty Altoids tin (including instructions on how to make your own tin painting kit).

Wendy’s mascot gets turned into a popular smug anime girl.

From sex trafficking survivor to restauranteur.

The next generation of robots will be remarkably human-like.

The Museum of Bad Art has been celebrating failure since 1993.

American Airlines gave its workers a raise. Wall Street freaked out.

Dig through the world’s largest sketchbook library.

Closing the gender gap in computer science begins in kindergarten.

How will low-wage workers survive in the age of the robots?

What photography can tell us about power and prejudice.

KFC has just published a ridiculously raunchy and bizarre romance novella starring a Casanova Colonel Sanders and you can now download it for free.

The definitive ranking of all 12 Star Wars movies.

Polish artist illustrates his fight against depression with these mysterious dark paintings.

A virtual holographic anime character named Azuma Hikari is a voice-powered virtual assistant who can also provide companionship for single men.

Happy Earth Day! Here are some links for you to enjoy! 🙂

Donald Trump’s modeling agency is on the verge of collapse, say industry insiders. It will be the latest in a line of failed ventures like the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Steaks, and Trump Vodka.

The original sculptor of the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street says that the Fearless Girl statue facing his statue distorts his work so much that he is considering filing a lawsuit.

Cannabis industry attracts more mainstream investors as business grows.

A mass-market shoe with 3D-printed midsoles is coming soon.

Eight-year-old boy learns to drive on YouTube then takes his little sister on a joyride to McDonald’s.

Microsoft Office vulnerabilities mean that no .doc is safe.

You’ll be working with robots sooner than you think.

Are you a photographer who needs a light box but you are currently short on cash? Here’s a video showing how you can make your own light box for less than $10.

Google’s new AutoDraw web-based drawing tool is a better artist than you.

It may be time to say farewell to the Pentax camera as Ricoh shrinks its camera business.

Chinese doctors use 3D printing to prepare for facial reconstruction surgery.

Microsoft to offer self-service refund for digital games.

How to stop Microsoft Office hackers from stealing your bank account.

12 ways to study a new programming language.

How Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet adhere to the Five-Hour Rule where they set aside at least one hour a day (or five hours a week) devoted to such practices as reading, reflection, and experimentation.

Exiles from the war-torn areas of Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan form a theater troupe in Germany.

Why Kickstarter decided to radically transform its business model.

How Steve Bannon’s multimedia machine drove a movement and paid him millions.

Microsoft will unveil the most powerful gaming console it has ever made on June 11.

Beware of “drive-by” computer scam.

Fake SEO plugin used in WordPress malware attacks.

Yes, some businesses still run Microsoft’s much-maligned Windows Vista.

Ohio inmates built and hid computers in prison using recycled electronic parts.

Dear Microsoft, stop blaming girls for not pursuing STEM careers.

Artist Hasan Elahi discusses racism in the digital art world.

Take a weirdly hypnotizing tour of America’s dying malls.

According to a recent survey, British women said that they prefer knitting to sex to help them relax from stress.

For photographers on a very tight budget, here’s a video showing how you can make your own DIY photography studio in your own home.

Disney files patents to bring humanoid robots to its theme parks.

Gizmodo reports on why people still use Microsoft Word.

Disney launching new animated Star Wars series on YouTube.

Black girls have been playing with white dolls for a long time.

Paper horror houses (including the Bates Motel) that you can download, print, and build for free.

As you may have heard, the federal government and the White House just can’t agree on a budget so the whole fiscal policy of the United States went into sequestration as of last Friday, March 1 with no end in sight (or at least in the near future). With the U,S. economy on the verge of following Greece, Spain, and Portugal into a total economic collapse, I think that it’s time for me to get around to posting some art I originally did late last year.

Back on December 19 the group Rebuild the Dream created this online event called Artstrike which invited artists to submit work that reflected on the themes of stopping further cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and demand that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes that the non-wealthy pay percentage-wise. The submitted art was posted on Tumblr.

I created these two pieces using ink and colored pencil. They were created quickly because I didn’t get word about Artstrike until just a few days before the submission deadline. But they express how I felt about the current political situation. The first piece, The Haves and the Have-Nots, show a wealthy Wall Streeter with his trophy wife (complete with blond hair, fake breasts, high heels, and a Tiffany shopping bag) nonchalantly walking past a veteran and senior citizen who are begging on the streets because of budget cuts.

The Haves and the Have-Nots

The second piece, Corporate Robbers, was done shortly after Hostess went out of business and revelations came out about how the top executives of that company raided employee pensions and gave themselves huge bonuses while they ran an 80-year-old company into the ground. I used photos of some of these executives in my piece.

Corporate Robbers

I tried to channel Thomas Nast on both these piece as much as possible. If I have had more time, I’m sure I could’ve made the art look better but, otherwise, I was basically pleased with what I did.

The past few days the U.S. has been rocked by news of the sudden closing of a beloved iconic company, Hostess, the maker of the famous Twinkies along with other beloved snacks like Ho Hos, Suzi-Q, Zingers, Snowballs, and more.

What the hell happened? Hostess claimed that it was those greedy unions members who went on strike because they wanted their pay and benefits increased to outrageous levels and the company had no other option but to close. However if you look at other sources, you’d know that it wasn’t that nasty union who forced Hostess to close down for good due to its sheer greed. Hostess went into bankruptcy for the second time since 2009. For the past 8 years Hostess has had 6 CEOs (none of whom with experience in the bread or cake baking industry) and it had been owned by Wall Street investors: so-called “restructuring experts,” managers from other non-baking food companies, and now a “liquidation specialist.”

The union members who are now blamed for the Hostess closings had watched as money from previous concessions that was supposed to go toward capital investment, product development, plant improvement and new equipment was squandered in executive bonuses, payouts to Wall Street investors and payments to high-priced attorneys and consultants. Over the past 15 months, Hostess workers have seen the company unilaterally end contractually obligated payments to their pension plan. Despite saving more than $160 million with this action, the company fell deeper into debt.

If all that wasn’t enough, creditors of Hostess Brands Inc. said in court papers the company may have "manipulated" its executives’ salaries higher in the months leading up to its Chapter 11 filing, in what the creditors called a possible effort by Hostess to "sidestep" Bankruptcy Code compensation provisions. The high pay that Hostess executives received had been going on for years. One example: Hostess’s then-CEO, Brian Driscoll, saw his salary rise to $2.55 million from $750,000—a 300% increase.

Basically what those Wall Street investors did to Hostess was what Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital did to the now-defunct KB Toys: Purchased a profitable company whose products these investors had little or no prior experience in, drastically slashed workers’ salaries and benefits, laid off scores of employees, refused to invest in things like research and development or new equipment, and paid themselves outrageous salaries and bonuses until the company began to hemorrage money so much that it had to close.

Hostess was one of those solid American brands that many people were familiar with. I know that Hostess was a major part of my youth. I had lots of memories snacking on things like Ho Hos, Twinkies, and Suzy-Q. When I was younger I used to frequently eat a Hostess snack as a dessert with my lunch. I never forgot when I spent my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College when someone from Hostess sent two of its employees to the college’s Student Center. One person was dressed as the Twinkies mascot while the other person gave away free Twinkies to students.

Here’s another memory I’m going to divulge. My husband, who abruptly ran away from home last December and has largeley avoided me since, once told me a deep dark secret when he saw me snacking on a Twinkie. At the time we were both students at the University of Maryland at College Park and we had been dating seriously for at least six months or more. My future estranged husband told me that when he was an undergraduate student at Oberlin College he worked at the radio station there when he was snacking on a Twinkie and another campus radio station person saw him and started calling him "Twinkie." That Twinkie nickname stuck for the next four years that he was at Oberlin.

My husband didn’t want me to tell anyone about how he was once nicknamed Twinkie. If he hadn’t walked out on me last December with zero notice, I would not be revealing his secret in this blog post.

Yesterday I decided to head out for a final visit to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop in Beltsville, Maryland. I didn’t go there very often mainly because the majority of the food sold there wasn’t very healthy for me and if I got a craving for Hostess there is a convenience store closer to my home that I usually go to buy such a snack. But the white building and the colorful sign was definitely a fixture on Route 1.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

A fleet of Hostess trucks was parked in the back of the building after the trucks made their last delivery of Hostess products ever.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Despite the building’s large size on the outside, the store itself is pretty small. It was very crowded with people buying up as many Hostess products as possible before the store closed for good. Some shelves were already empty when I got there.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Hostess’ most famous brand is Twinkies. When I was at the store, the only Twinkes that were still in stock was a special edition Chocolate Creme Twinkies.

A Farewell to Hostess

As I looked at the inventory that was left, I found some surprises—I never knew that Hostess made cereal. (That’s what I get for not visiting the store more often when I had the chance.)

A Farewell to Hostess

After I purchased what I picked up, I put my bags in the car then I walked over to the 7-11 that is in the shopping center located next door to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop. I found a few more Hostess products on that shelf but, alas, no Twinkies. I bought some other products that I didn’t find at the other store. I ultimately had three shopping bags full of Hostess products.

A Farewell to Hostess

This is the only healthy Hostess product that I purchased. It’s for its unsweetened Toasted Oats that’s basically Hostess’ version of Cheerios.

A Farewell to Hostess

The back of the ceral box had some basic facts about animals that kids (and animal lovers in general) would be interested in.

A Farewell to Hostess

Since I didn’t find the regular Twinkies, I went ahead and purchased a box of the Chocolate Creme Twinkies. It’ll be close enough to the Twinkies that I fondly remember eating.

A Farewell to Hostess

I purchased three different flavors of Hostess Donettes—chocolate frosted with a yellow cake, chocolate frosted with a devil’s food cake, and powdered sugar with a yellow cake.

A Farewell to Hostess

Rounding out my purchases are the following products: Suzy Q’s, Hostess Cup Cakes, Ho Hos, and Fudge Grahams Cookies.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

Today after church I decided to make one more trip to the Hostess Bakery Thriftshop in Beltsville. I had The Smiths’ "How Soon is Now" playing in my car as I arrived to the store’s front parking lot. In a way the pulsing rhythms and the overall depressing tone of that song made for a fitting soundtrack because I learned from one of the employees that today is the last day that the store would be open to the general public.

Today the prices were slashed even further than yesterday.

A Farewell to Hostess

There were even more empty shelves than before.

A Farewell to Hostess

As I browsed the stuff that were left on the shelves, I found that this particular Hostess store sold products by other manufacturers such as the ones I photographed.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

This next photo shows how abrupt the closing of Hostess really was. The store had decorations up for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday. Ironically the Hostess employees who are in the process of being laid-off will probably have a hard time finding much to be thankful for.

A Farewell to Hostess

I didn’t buy as much today as I did yesterday mainly because I had either already purchased enough of the products I wanted yesterday or because the products I was interested in (like the original Twinkies with the vanilla cream filling) were sold out. I purchased a couple more boxes of Hostess’ version of Cherrios cereal along with these two new Hostess products.

A Farewell to Hostess
A Farewell to Hostess

I plan on being very slow about consuming these products over the next few months in order to savor my last taste of these products and to prevent rapid weight gain. I hope I can discipline myself. I have to balance eating these products before they go stale with not eating them so fast that I gain enough weight to make my clothes a tight fit. I know that I need to make sure that I exercise as much as possible in order to burn some of these empty calories that are in Hostess products.

Unless a different company buys the Twinkies recipe and the right to manufacture them, if I have a desire for Twinkies in the future, I will have to closely watch this YouTube video of Jolene Sugarbaker demonstrating how to make Twinkies knock-offs.

In addition, I came across this site that has recipes where you can attempt to replicate 9 Hostess treats—Cup Cakes, Donettes, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Sno Balls, Suzy Q, Chocodiles, and Ho Hos.

A Farewell to Hostess Part 2 (December 1, 2012)

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