Death Watch: Harold Ramis

Writer, director, ghostbuster Harold Ramis, dead at 69. He’s busting the Holy Ghost now.

In all seriousness. I was bummed when Philip Seymour Hoffman died, because I liked his movies, and now there wouldn’t be anymore. When I heard Harold Ramis was dead, I thought, “Oh good! Perhaps Ghostbusters III won’t get made.”

Scenes for the Revolution: Ukraine


Police clash with anti-government protesters in Kiev on February 18, 2014 and fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing protesters as they demonstrated close to Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev. Police also responded with smoke bombs after protesters hurled paving stones at them as they sought to get closer to the heavily-fortified parliament building. (Anatolii Boiko/AFP/Getty Images)

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Papal Blood Stolen

Over the weekend, thieves apparently not-too-concerned about booking a place in heaven, stole a relic that contained a piece of gauze that was once soaked with the blood of late Pope John Paul II. Church officials at the isolated San Pietro della Ienca church in the Abruzzo region of Italy reported the burglary. The small church housed the relic that is one of only three in the world.

According to the BBC, the relic was not heavily guarded, as the thieves were able to break through the iron bars and a window protecting the display. The burglars also took a crucifix, but left the church’s collection box untouched.

Be on the look out for pope clones, or perhaps Baphomet, or maybe just deranged billionaires with collections of bloody gauze. Who owns Curt Shilling’s bloody sock?

Rachel Tyrell Gets a Job

Premier Health Plans, a a health insurance broker, employs a rather elaborate chat bot to collect a customer’s basic information and interests before sending the potential customer to a real person to close the deal. It’s really a clever chat bot, but the odd thing about it is that it insists that it’s a real person. Clearly someone at Premier Health Plans, thought that a chat bot made good business sense, but at the same time didn’t think it was quite convincing, so they added in scripts to respond to questions like, “Are you a robot?”, with the idea that if they just deny it, that would placate enough curiosity and automaton-phobia to hold a potential customer on the line long enough to close.

Think about this for a second. At some point there was a discussion that went something like:

Analyst: In order to get n conversions per day, we need x telemarketers, which costs y dollars.
Manager: Hmm, y is a lot of dollars, and that initial part of the conversation is where we lose most of customers. What can we do bring down this cost?
Analyst: What if we used a robot?
Manager: Not a phone tree. I hate those press-one-for-English type things.
Analyst: No a really smart robot, like Siri.
Manager: Yeah, a sexy robot, like Siri, but it would have to be smart. Can we make it smart?
Analyst: That can be done, and it would only cost z dollars, which is much less than y dollars.
Manager: Good. Good. Let’s do it.
Analyst: I just thought of something. You know how people don’t like to leave voicemails, or deal with phone trees. What if they don’t like the robot?
Manager: Well, we’ll just have robot lie.

Sadly, the phone number and website, premierhealthagency.com are now disabled.