Billy West, voice of Ren and Stimpy, Futurama, on the rough start that shaped his life

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ren and Stimpy. Bugs Bunny. Philip J. Fry and Professor Hubert Farnsworth on Futurama. Sparx. Bi-Polar Bear. Popeye the Sailor Man. Woody Woodpecker. You may not think you have ever heard Billy West, but chances are on a television program, a movie, a commercial, or as Howard Stern’s voice guru in the 1990’s, you have heard him. West’s talent for creating personalities by twisting his voice has made him one of a handful of voice actors—Hank Azaria and the late Mel Blanc come to mind—who have achieved celebrity for their talent. Indeed, West is one of the few voice actors who can impersonate Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons.

What is the fulcrum in Mr. West’s life that led him to realize a talent to shape personalities with his voice, and how did the discovery of that gift shape him? Wikinews reporter David Shankbone found that like many great comedians, West faced more sour early in life than he did sweet. The sour came from a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic father (“I could tell you the kind of night I was going to have from the sound of the key in the door or the way the car pulled up.”), to his own problems with drug and alcohol use (“There is a point that you can reach in your life where you don’t want to live, but you haven’t made the decision to die.”).

I’m telling you stuff that I never said to anybody…

If sin, suffering and redemption feel like the stages of an endless cycle of American existence, West’s own redemption from his brutalized childhood is what helped shape his gift. He performed little bits to cheer up his cowed mother, ravaged by the fact she could not stop her husband’s abuse of young West. “I was the whipping boy and she would just be reduced to tears a lot of times, and I would come in and say stuff, and I would put out little bits just to pull her out of it.”

But West has also enjoyed the sweet. His career blossomed as his talent for creating entire histories behind fictional characters and creatures simply by exploring nuance in his voice landed him at the top of his craft. You may never again be able to forget that behind the voice of your favorite character, there is often an extraordinary life.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with renowned voice actor Billy West, who for the first time publicly talks about the horrors he faced in his childhood; his misguided search for answers in anger, drugs and alcohol; and the peace he has achieved as one of America’s most recognizable voice actors.

Contents

  • 1 The use of celebrities for voiceovers
  • 2 Iconic characters and choosing projects
  • 3 Discovering his talent
  • 4 “It was a horror chamber where I grew up”
  • 5 West moves to Boston after his parents divorce
  • 6 How West dealt with his father’s abuse
  • 7 Rehabilitation and sobriety
  • 8 Is West glad he experienced addiction?
  • 9 West on his career
  • 10 West on politics
  • 11 Billy West on modern American society
  • 12 Billy West on telling it like it is
  • 13 Source

Posted on April 18th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Posted on April 17th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Cargo ship Arctic Sea may be found

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A cargo ship spotted off the African island nation of Cape Verde could be the missing MV Arctic Sea.

The Maltese flagged MV Arctic Sea disappeared off the French coast sometime after July 29. Owned by the Russian Arctic Sea company she was operated by the Finnish Solchart Management company and had a Russian crew.

French intelligence sources have found a ship matching the Arctic Sea’s description about 400 Nautical miles north of São Vicente.

The Arctic Sea was on a scheduled route from the Finnish seaport of Pietarsaari to the Algerian seaport of Béjaïa with a cargo of timber when it was boarded in Swedish waters between the islands Öland and Gotland on the night of July 24. The alleged boarders left the ship the same day according to its crew and the ship continued her voyage although it would have been expected to anchor at the nearest port.

The last official contact with the ship was with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Britain on July 28. Viktor Matveyev, the director of Solchart Management says the ship radioed that it was off the coast of Portugal on July 31. The 98-meter-long ship has so far not reached the Straits of Gibraltar and is now being sought by the Portuguese Navy and Russian Navy.

If proven this could be the first case of piracy in Europe in the modern era. There is speculation as to the reason for the ship’s hijacking, as its cargo of wood, valued at 1.3 million euros, is not especially valuable. Suggestions include possible contraband, and the possibility of a commercial dispute between the crew or some other party and the ship’s owners.

Posted on April 17th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

KKE: Interview with the Greek Communist Party

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.

Posted on April 14th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market

Friday, April 11, 2008

New ‘deadly’ sexual enhancement products have been found in Singaporean markets and can cause serious side effects on users.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced the presence of the illegal drugs, known as Power 1 Walnut, Santi bovine penis erecting capsule, Zhong Hua Niu Bian and fake Cialis, which have been discovered over the past 3 months. Santi bovine penis erecting capsule has been found to contain high amounts of glibenclamide, a potent drug used to treat diabetes. The tablets also contain sildenafil and tadalafil – potent western medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction. Zhong Hua Niu Bian also contains sildenafil and glibenclamide.

High consumption of the tablets can be potentially deadly as the glibenclamide in the capsules can lead to drastically reduced blood sugar levels which can lead to seizures, stroke, coma or death. Consuming half of a Power 1 Walnut capsule has led to unconsciousness and frothing at the mouth.

Consumption of Power 1 Walnut has led to the death of a middle age man last week who fell into a coma. Currently, one death and two cases of coma have been reported from the total of 89 hospitalised cases linked with the consumption of the illegal drugs. It has been revealed that patients obtained the drugs by purchasing them from illegal peddlers located in various parts of Singapore.

The HSA has advised people to stop consuming the drugs and to report on any cases of consumption to them.

Posted on April 14th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

How To Hire House Movers In Wichita Ks

byAlma Abell

If you are getting ready to move, you are all too aware of how stressful it can be to organize all of the different facets and make sure it goes off as smoothly as possible. Luckily, you can make it easier by hiring professional House Movers in Wichita KS to help you pack and transport your belongings to the new space. Don’t break your back, when you can leave the heavy work up to trained professionals who will make sure your items are packed securely and moved safely. Before you hire a moving company, make sure you consider the following items.

It will help ensure you find the best moving company for your specific needs.ReputationMake sure you review the reputation of movers in your local area. Ask family and friends who they have used in the past, and browse online reviews so you can see for yourself how past clients feel about the service they received. This will help you find a moving company that will be there to make your move as worry free as possible.Services OfferedAsk for a list of all the services they offer. While packing and moving are the most popular, they may also offer additional options that can help with the moving process. Some common offerings include utility transfers and mail forwarding setup.

Let a professional with experience help you get everything done so you can put your focus on taking care of yourself and your family.PricingIt can be expensive to hire House Movers in Wichita KS. Make sure you get quotes from several companies so you can compare them and choose the one that will provide the best service at the most affordable price. It is also important to get your quote in writing so you can hold them to that amount when you are presented with your final bill.

Before you try to handle your move on your own, make sure you consider hiring a professional moving company. Individuals in the Wichita area have been trusting Get a Move On to make their move as easy as possible. Call them today for your free quote, and take the first step in making your move simple.

Posted on April 13th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

John Constable painting location mystery solved after 195 years

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The mystery of the location of a viewpoint used by English painter John Constable has been solved, after nearly 200 years. The Stour Valley and Dedham Church was painted in Suffolk, England, between 1814 and 1815, but changes to the landscape meant that the spot he chose was not known, despite the best efforts of historians and art experts.

Now the puzzle has been answered. Martin Atkinson, who works for the National Trust as property manager for East Suffolk, used clues from the painting and looked at old maps to track down the viewpoint. Trees had grown, a hedgerow had been planted and boundaries had moved or disappeared, but Atkinson eventually worked out where Constable had stood. He said, “When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn’t believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together.”

Atkinson used an 1817 map of East Bergholt, where Constable grew up, as a reference point, but found that the view would have changed not long after the painting was completed. “The foreground didn’t fit at all, it was quite unusual as we know Constable painted it in the open air so he would have been standing in the scene. The hedgerow in his work no longer exists and there’s another hedgerow that runs across the scene today which wasn’t there. When you stand on the road on which he would have stood, and use the oak tree as a reference point, you see the same view. It’s great to see where an old master stood – and be inspired by the same view,” he said.

Suffolk, where Constable painted many of his finest paintings, is often called “Constable country”. Most, but not all, of the locations that Constable depicted are known. The picture is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

Posted on April 12th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Ten April Fool’s pranks of 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Fools’ Day pranks harmlessly pervaded worldwide again this year. Media outlets and internet sites have joined family, office workers, and friends to provide a wide variety of practical jokes. Ireland, France, and the United States celebrate April Fools all day, whereas a few countries celebrate jokes only until noon such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa.

Car and Driver claimed that GM and Chrysler were ordered out of NASCAR by the White House by the end of 2009 in order to receive any more government loans. There are press releases about this short-lived prank which received controversial feedback.

The Swiss Tourism Board has announced that volunteers were desperately needed, The Association of Mountain Cleaners “makes sure that our holiday guests can always enjoy perfect mountains. Using brooms, brushes, water and muscle power, they clean the rocks of any bird droppings.”

This year Gmail produced a new autopilot feature for April 1, 2009 which can read your email and automatically respond to every message.

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BMW released its new Magnetic Tow Technology which allows your BMW to magnetically attach to the vehicle ahead of you. This enhanced technology allows the driver to remove their foot from the gas pedal and turn off the motor.

The Guardian proposed its move to Twitter, which would allow the newspaper to fit its article content into 140 character messages or “tweets”. Included in this venture was the archiving of past events reported by The Guardian, such as, “1927 OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”

Google’s technological break through for April Fool’s Day was CADIE, (Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity). By extracting internet search patterns combined with Brain Search, a part of CADIE technology, Google can now search your thoughts and memories.

Wikipedia even fooled Fox News who claimed that “every item on the home page of the user-generated site Wikipedia is fake. The featured Wikipedia article regaled the “Museum of Bad Art” in Boston.” However, each item on the main page was based on reality — even news articles such as NASA reports a shower of diamonds over the Republic of Sudan, which was based on a meteorite which passed over Sudan whose fragments did reveal diamonds upon discovery.

The Conficker Internet worm had been in the news warning of a worst case scenario when computers worldwide would be affected by the virus. Even the chief security adviser for Microsoft, Ed Gibson, didn’t want to make any predictions about what would happen. Experts just knew that it was set to go off on April 1. Several anomalous happenings were attributed to Conficker including Leroy “Mac” MacElrie who claimed to be the programmer of the Conficker worm and turned himself in to police.

Hotels.com ran an advertisement offering hotel room bookings on the moon which would be offered on European websites starting at £800 a night.

Qualcomm ingeniously revealed a new wireless networking technology called wireless convergence. Making use of the flight patterns of pigeons. They then use innovative solutions to converge the birds with wolves to protect the internal improvements.

Media outlets were not the only ones pulling pranks. Gaming websites across the internet Blizzard, Joystiq, and affiliates posted reviews and announcements of games with tongue in cheek. YouTube offered viewers a unique April Fool’s experience as videos were offered upside down. In Ireland, U2 fans received a U2opia concert on a shopping centre roof top concert rather than the real thing.

Posted on April 12th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Sunflower oil saves at-risk newborns from infection

Saturday, March 5, 2005Simply massaging low birth weight babies with sunflower seed oil can protect them from potentially fatal infections.

Infections and complications from preterm birth cause more than half of all neonatal deaths, and very low birth weight babies are particularly vulnerable.

Preterm babies have immature skin that lacks a protective film called vernix that has antimicrobial properties.

In some countries, such as India, newborns are routinely massaged with mustard oil.

But mustard oil, says Gary Darmstadt of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, can delay recovery of the skin barrier and have a toxic effect on skin.

Seeking an alternative low-cost product, Darmstadt and colleagues experimented with sunflower oil and an ointment called Aquaphor that comprises petrolatum, mineral oil, mineral wax and lanolin.

The researchers tested the treatments on 497 newborns (72 hours old or less) and preterm babies (less than 33 weeks gestation) between 1998 and 2003 in Bangladesh.

They applied the treatments to the entire body besides the scalp and face three times daily for the first 14 days and then twice daily until discharge.

Babies treated with sunflower oil were found 41% less likely to develop infections than controls.

“Evidence is emerging that the skin is much more important as a barrier to infection than previously recognized, particularly in preterm infants whose skin is underdeveloped,” says Darmstadt. “The good news is that treatment is available to strengthen the function of the skin as a barrier in these vulnerable newborns.”

Posted on April 9th, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

Posted on April 3rd, 2019 by eE73Dg  |  No Comments »