Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm fine with minimum wage, thanks

There can be a number of responses to when someone asks their employers for a raise. Some of the more common responses are either delivering the raise requested, asking the employee what they feel they've contributed to deserve the higher income, or outright laughing at their request. In some circumstances, the employee can find themselves looking for a new job, and, in very rare cases, the person being asked for the raise freely gives it out, but does so by dispensing vending machine toys and baseball cards, alluding to their potential cash value years down the road.

It's just not every day that someone gets shot because they thought they should get paid more.

And yet, Rolandas Milinavicius is now facing criminal charges for having shot two of his employees, after they requested higher wages for helping to run his East Point, GA export automotive dealership. When he turned himself in, Milinavicius explained that he was "under a lot of stress", and that money was one of the prime reasons. Unto which we can only say, well, obviously.

Even so, when under stress, it's still a little bit beyond crazy to shoot at people who thought that they'd earned a larger paycheck. Plenty of people handle their stress without ever picking up a firearm. In fact, it's quickly becoming the American way of life (or, at least, the celebrity way) to spend your stressed-out days going on some sort of drug- or alcohol-fueled bender, sleeping your way through the masses, and passing out in unfamiliar locations (or, as we like to call it, weekend with Paris). But picking up a gun?

Obviously, Milinavicius also was unfamiliar with the concept that a good way to relieve stress is to laugh. Hopefully he'll learn his lesson, so that if he ever finds himself in a similar situation again, he'll simply laugh at their request, and possibly give them a coupon to help stretch their ramen budget an extra week.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Second verse, worse than the first

People for centuries have wondered who the best poet ever was. Some cite William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, even though there is still plenty of doubt over his actual identity. Others cite Emily Dickinson, who scribbled out her verse while, according to many accounts, laboring against mental illness. But Scotland has long known their best poet, Mr. Robert Burns.

Well, if the Scottish get their way, they may be home to the worst poet in history, as well. William McGonagall, who had to carry an umbrella during his life to protect him from thrown fruit and the like, has a group of stalwart fans, trying to get him enshrined in the Writers Museum of Edinburgh. The fans claim that he is "accessible - the people's poet", while detractors point out his simplistic rhyme and labored meter. McGonagall himself believed that he was second only to the great Shakespeare, which indicates that maybe he didn't start carrying the umbrella soon enough.

This type of venture is actually quite refreshing. The man has already been proclaimed the "world's worst" by his own publishing house, and, if he can gain that honor, he might be able to open the door for other "world's worsts". For example, Ed Wood might finally get the notoriety he so richly deserves as the World's Worst Director (although Uwe Boll is closing that gap quickly). Kevin Federline could be nominated for both World's Worst Singer and World's Worst Parent (admittedly, the last one would be a tie with his ex-wife).

However, as far as World's Worst Poet really goes, while we can see the merit in naming McGonagall as the apex of badness, we still find it easier to read his works than Robert Frost's. The road less travelled, indeed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So hip, so cool, so completely lost

Agent P Berry has been silent for awhile, quite understandably, but she threw us a tasty little story that we just wanted to pounce on. So many thanks go out for passing it our way. This is doubly timely, as we're about to go and get some holes cut into us, and we're not even sure if we'll be able to put out our awards tomorrow. We'll try, but no promises.

As it turns out, Macy's has decided that they want to be like Target, Hot Topic, Insert-Name-of-Most-Other-Stores-Here, and they want to carry lines of trendy t-shirts. Even more to the point, they want to carry trendy t-shirts that appeal to the Hispanic community. So they lined up a company called NaCo, and ordered a bunch of shirts from them, figuring that, well, if NaCo can appeal to hip Hispanics, then NaCo in Macy's would appeal to hip Hispanics with disposable income.

The only problem is that they didn't realize one of the shirts might be seen as a little bit offensive. The saying on that shirt? "Brown is the new white". Surprise surprise, now Macy's is pulling the shirt, and there's other rumblings about a shirt that reads "B is for Beaner".

Wow. Way to go, Macy's. By attempting to cater to a specific demographic, you may have actually pushed them away? How about you manufacture t-shirts with lawnmowers on them, just to play up stereotypes?

At least the company decided to pull the shirts. We do consider that a step in the right direction. Maybe, with a little research, they won't run afoul with other potential forays to bring new markets to their door. Y'know, like trying for the Asian demographic with a t-shirt that reads "Chin Music". Or appealing to blacks with a "Song of the South" tribute collection.

And then they can culminate with a line of umbrellas for emo kids. We're thinking of ones specially made to help keep their mascara from running.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A sign of the coming Apocalypse?

For anyone that knows how to read, and knows of ways to get their daily news, it will come as no shock that the newspaper industry has been in trouble for the last few years. Dwindling readership of the print formats, along with decreases in advertising revenue, have led many papers to at least scale back their operations. The internet itself has helped contribute to these problems, as more and more readers are turning to the web to get their daily news feeds (not that we'd know anything about that, really).

And, while it may have seemed somewhat inevitable, it is with sadness that we take a moment here to mention a venerable newspaper that will be stopping the presses completely. Sure, they'll still be available online, but what will our grocery store checkout lanes be without a smiling faces on the cover of the Weekly World News?

Yes, it's true. The publication that brought us Bat Boy, and then went into great detail over the years about his exploits, is folding. No more will our checkout lanes proclaim that the face of Satan has been seen in smoke rising from a factory, or that Elvis is alive and well, working at a gas station in Topeka. Well, okay, there will still be publications in the same style as the WWN, but none will be able to bring it all to us in the sharp contrasts of black-and-white.

Sure, we can go to the web, and continue to learn that Mother Nature herself has come out in support of Al Gore, or that Hitler really did have plans of unleashing scores of vampires on an unsuspecting populace, but it just won't be quite the same. There was just something quaint about the News, something comforting in the way that you saw hope brimming from their stories of aliens working with our top scientists to develop cures for disease. And who could resist the whimsy of stories about Biblical heroes suffering from things as commonplace as having lost maps?

So today we mourn the passing of the Weekly World News. And today we look towards a more colorful, yet as disaster-prone tomorrow. After all, there's always The Sun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fancy headlights

Okay, we admit it. We weren't originally going to write about this story. Actually, we saw it yesterday and gave it a pass, figuring that we'd already given Germany enough grief as of late. Then today, it popped up again and, well, the strongest competition for our coverage was a story about the Norwegian princess who's claiming psychic powers. And really, there's only so many jokes we can write about possible inbreeding and overall wackiness of royalty. So, we find ourselves turning back to Germany, to examine the tale of the topless motorist.

Okay. She wasn't topless. In fact, she was apparently driving along, wearing nothing but a pair of stiletto heels, a bracelet, and a smile. The woman, a tall 30-ish blonde, decided to go out for a morning drive in the town of Doemitz, Germany. Along the drive, she decided to stop at her favorite gas station, where she's "come in naked before", for some cigarettes. The owner of the shop, who "wasn't surprised", felt the need to mention that none of the other customers complained, and some even snapped pictures to send to German newspapers.

And yet, this is the same country that just last week gave us the story of a bus driver who was so disconcerted by a woman and her cleavage, that he threatened to kick her off of the bus. Was the problem possibly that she had cleavage, as opposed to baring all for the world to see? Out of necessity to come to the root of this problem, we decided to pull up a map of Germany to see if geography played a role.

And, lo and behold, Doemitz is farther north than any of the Landaus (we're still not sure which of the three was the originator of the bus tale). While our natural instincts tell us that, as you head further north, you'll encounter colder weather, we also admit that it is summer. But that still doesn't explain it. What does, in our minds at least, is that Doemitz is closer to Amsterdam and their "coffee houses". So maybe that's the answer we're looking for, right there.

We'd ask the Norwegian princess, but she keeps going on about the end of days, how stock prices will plummet, and what next season's "Heroes" finale will be like.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I now pronounce you wife and wife. You may keep the alimony.

When Ron Garber's ex-wife started living with another woman, he made his alimony payments. When she took the other woman's last name as her own, he continued making the payments. When she entered into a domestic partnership with the other woman, meant to carry the same benefits as marriage, Garber decided that he was probably done with the alimony. After all, California law states that alimony stops when the person receiving the payments gets remarried, so Garber felt that he was in the right.

Except, as it turns out, the difference between domestic partnership and marriage was big enough that he must still make his payments.

This simple fact highlights how different many states view domestic partnership, in comparison to marriage. While marriage confers all sorts of benefits, both financially and legally, domestic partnership is often viewed as being little more than cohabitation. Nevermind that it's the closest to marriage that a same-sex couple can get. They can live together, and call each other partners, but they certainly can't expect any sort of assistance in the realm of legal rights. And, well, for anyone paying alimony, they could find themselves saddled with the costs long after their former spouse has taken a new partner to share their lives with.

We can only hope that, before too long, situations like this one will no longer happen. After all, if same-sex couples can gain a similar benefit to hetero couples, then why should heterosexuals be punished in a way just because they married someone who preferred their own style of plumbing?

We would consider asking some experts on the subject, but neither Jake Gyllenhaal or Heath Ledger could be reached for comment. As for Adam Sandler, he's simply fixated on the idea that it's two women, so he's of less use to us than Keanu Reeves at a Mensa convention.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of July 16, 2007

We've reached the middle point of July, and, well, the temperatures and humidity are soaring. Unfortunately, humidity does not equal precipitation, and lawns as far as our eyes can see have been shrivelling under the intense heat. On the flip side, though, this allows us to keep our mowers put safely away, unable to taunt us with their lack of exhaustion. And, well, the news has definitely kept us entertained, as, earlier, we learned that Germany isn't only funny because of their love for David Hasslehoff. Anyway, let's get rolling with this week's awards, shall we?

Balance of Power? What Balance of Power? Award
News reaches us that GDub will be going in for a colonoscopy this weekend. Experts stress that this is a common procedure, but they expect to find the president's approval rating, as well as large portions of his own cranium. In the meantime VPCheney will be in command of the nation. We, of course, will be hiding away in a hastily constructed fort, possibly made of pillows, wondering just what the Veep will do to satisfy his hunger for innocence (or is that "innocents"?).

If I Only Had A (Bigger) Brain Award
Doctors have recently discovered that a Frenchman, who led an altogether normal (albeit short) life, had a mere sliver of brain, due to fluid in his skull. The man, while possessing a less than normal IQ of 75, had a family, and worked as a civil servant. American doctors were only surprised to find out that the man had never run for the highest office in the land, given our own leaders.

Well, At Least It's Not More E-Mail Award
What do you get when you give a bunch of Nigerian schoolchildren $100 laptop computers? If you said Nigerian schoolchildren surfing for porn on those $100 laptops, then you're absolutely correct. The aid group One Laptop Per Child is now planning on putting filters into the computers, to block the porn sites. No wonder Prince Mbutu has started sending requests for pictures of busty blondes, instead of asking us to help him secure his inheritance.

No More Books Award
Upset over the high cost of textbooks, Utah Valley State College professor Ron Hammond has eliminated the textbook requirement from his sociology classes. Literature professors at the campus immediately seized the opportunity to add even more reading to their class agendas. Years later, we'll learn that this was really Hammond's attempt to rebel against the leaks of the newest Harry Potter book.

Calling Too Late Award
A man in Largo, FL, called 911 with an interesting complaint. After an alleged disturbance at a bar, Dana Farrell Shelton called 911, to report that he was "surrounded by Largo police", and requesting assistance. As it turns out, Shelton merely thought that he was surrounded by clones of Sting.

Don't Let the Kids See Award
Sometimes, in order to exact revenge on an ex-lover who has jilted you, the only recourse is to head off into the woods and let someone else take naked photographs. Of course, it's probably not a good idea to do this when you're supposed to be babysitting. Michelle Rendino apparently didn't make this connection, and, when the kids were found crying, they mentioned that she'd gone off to take "nasty pictures". Why, oh why can't we get Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan babysitting jobs?

Little Plastic Castles Award
A Finnish scientist is going to begin a new study, to try and determine if rock music has negative effects on fish. Yes, you read correctly. Fish. The creatures that have little-to-no-memory. Actually, this is a perfect match, because fish are like a fair number of famous rock musicians. After all, who hasn't seen Keith Richards walking around in circles, muttering something about castles and scuba divers?

What Do We Want? Brains! Award
Apparently, according to a new study conducted at the Australian National University, men are happier with smarter women than with the lesser educated. In fact, the more schooling the woman had received, the happier the man tended to be. Women, on the other hand, weren't any more or less happy, based off of their partners education level. This, of course, only partially explains the American First Couple.

Well, that wraps up our awards posts for another week. We'll be doing what we can next week, but we don't make any promises, as an impending surgery will have us full of good hospital-prescribed narcotics. And, well, we aren't a celebrity blog, so we can't get away with writing posts under that influence. Either way, we'll at least be able to start out the week right, provided that we don't melt in the heat between then and now. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More prejudice than pride

The publishing world is alight with stories. Of course, there's all of the news following the Harry Potter leak, with the pleas by the author, and the lawsuits being considered by the publisher. But that's the big business of a best-selling author, who has made an obvious mark on literary history. What about someone a little lesser known, perhaps submitting early chapters and plot synopses under the penname "Alison Laydee"?

Alison Laydee is the pseudonym being used by David Lassman, as he undertook an experiment to see if he could get approval from publishers for some writings. He was honestly expecting to be called out as a plagiarist, but instead, was merely rejected across the boards. Why did he expect plagiarism charges? The books he was submitting had originally been published centuries beforehand, by Jane Austen.

Admittedly, in the defense of the publishers, Lassman made some changes to the stories and characters, and attempted to get them published under different names (for example, "Pride and Prejudice" was renamed "First Impressions"). Unfortunately, the changes were cosmetic, and the alternate names were ones that had been used as early titles for the works, before Austen settled on the final names. Even the pseudonym was a variation of Austen's own, "A Lady".

So now, thanks to Lassman, we know that, at the very least, Jane Austen wouldn't get published in this day and age. We suppose that our idea to start writing "A Story About a Couple of Villages" should be scrapped. And we guess that we can give up on finally relating the tale about "The Small Train and What Was Possible". It's really a shame on that last one... we figured that if we just added some Cristal in the dining cart, and a team of paparazzi following the train, we'd found a book that would be perfect for the intelligence levels of a number of celebrities out there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A breach of security

What has happened in this world of ours? How can something kept so tightly under wraps possibly leak out to the wrong people? How can we survive everything else that's happening when even the tightest of security can't possibly keep information from leaking out?

Why, oh why, did someone have to go and leak a potential full copy of the new Harry Potter book?

Wait a minute... a book? Not trade secrets, not weapons plans, not anything that could damage the integrity of a government, but a work of fiction? And, it should be pointed out, a work of fiction which, in the past, been part of other "spoilers" being leaked, simply because people found out inside information before the previous books were available for sale. And yet, people everywhere (and yes, we've fallen into this, too, but for our own twisted purpose) are spending time worrying about what this could possibly mean to the world as a whole, now that the entire book is allegedly available online a whopping four days early.

Now don't get us wrong. While we haven't actually read any of the books, we've heard good things. We've seen the sheer numbers of children, teenagers, and young adults flocking to the book store, instead of flocking to the video game store, and we have to respect anything that can bring that kind of a reaction. But what started out as a decent story has snowballed into an event. A phenomenon. A defining moment for many people. Ten years from now, instead of asking where you were when the Berlin Wall fell, people will ask where you were when the final Harry Potter book was released. And that may be why some people are so up in arms over the notion of spoilers.

By the same token, this is a book which has definitely found a strong niche in sci-fi/fantasy fandom. Given that this is a group of people who are proud of their ability to not only find every advance detail to a film, but then pride themselves on still seeing the movie on the big screen, if only to find errors or omissions, spoilers shouldn't come as anything of a shock. And, as has been pointed out, specifically by Bruce Schneier, "Anyone fan-crazed enough to read digital photographs of the pages a few days before the real copy comes out is also someone who is going to buy a real copy." After all, if you can't wait the small amounts of time between when spoilers are released and when the actual event happens, well, then you've also got a good chance of being the type to obsessively collect things, just so you can say that you have them all.

So please, everyone, calm down. If the "leak" wasn't merely a publicity stunt to drive the excitement beyond its current fever pitch, then it was someone trying to gain some closure to bigger questions than, "Who shot J.R.?" After all, it's not like they're telling us that the presidential election of 2008 will be won by China, after we hand over nuclear technology to Barbados in a bizarre swap. They posted images.

Of a book.

That an extremely large portion of the world will be reading in a week.

And really, isn't part of the goal to keep people reading, in the first place? Looks like mission accomplished to us.

Now, if you don't mind, we've got to get back to page 597.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Calling tech support

We all get angry sometimes. We all tend to lash out at things that we see as being the cause of that anger, whether or not they are truly the culprit. But how often do we see the police taking our side in the dispute?

A man in Hanover, Germany, recently had such an experience, after he had alarmed his neighbors by throwing his computer out of the window of his apartment. When the police responded, they found the man, who said he was simply "annoyed with his computer". The cops decided against charging the man because, according to a police spokesman, "Who hasn't felt like doing that?". Instead of charges, the man was required to sweep up the electronic debris.

At first, we're a little amazed that the German police were so willing to let this go past, but then we recall that a large number of people do experience frustrations due to electronic devices (we have a particular loathing for PDAs... and we don't mean holding hands at a park). So yes, on some levels, it makes perfect sense that the man would get away with a mere sweeping. We're expecting that he was probably doing quite well in a game of The Sims, and got irritated when he couldn't get the characters to wash their hands or their dishes anymore. Plus, he'd spent all of his Simoleons on a swimming pool that they never bothered going into, instead preferring to sit around the cheap television set, watching episodes of whatever it is video game characters watch.

Of course, this is also the country where people's feet smell like corpses, and a little cleavage can bring a bus to a screeching halt (as opposed to here in America, where it just slows down construction), so nothing surprises us anymore.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Do your little turn in the aisle

When riding the bus, there are a few tips that one must keep in mind. First off, it's probably not a great idea to start talking to the people around you, unless you know them from somewhere other than the bus. Secondly, if you have a seat, and someone less fortunate than you needs one, by all means, get up and stand, holding the railing. And third, bring a book or something, just so you aren't staring out the windows, possibly leading others to strike up conversations with you (see point one). But we never thought we'd hear about anything approaching a dress code for the bus.

And yet, that's pretty close to what happened to a German woman in the town of Lindau. The 20-year-old, who was wearing "her snug-fitting summer clothes with the plunging neckline" was told by the bus driver that she had to move seats, or he would kick her off the bus. The reason he gave? Her cleavage was too distracting.

Naturally, a spokesman for the bus company is defending the driver, saying that he has the right to insure safety for his passengers, and, if he feels that something is too distracting, he can request that it be removed from his line of sight. This all does make certain amounts of sense, but, while we've never driven a bus, we have driven cars with women displaying cleavage in the backseat. Sure, it can be distracting, but when you're driving a thousand pounds or more of metal around the streets, you do your best to keep your focus on the road. It's not like the woman was prancing around, doing pole dances and wearing nothing more than pasties and a grin (at least, we assume. We haven't checked the Bild to see the photos).

Maybe the better question would be why the driver was getting so distracted in the first place? Was it just the cleavage? Did she maybe have a lollipop or something? Were there neon arrows pointing to her chest? Or hasn't he been seeing enough of it as of late (and, with German television, we find that a little hard to, um, grasp). Either way, while we commend the driver for wanting to keep things safe, we do think that maybe he was a little over the top. After all, if bus drivers in Minneapolis can handle people having shouting matches and drawing firearms, then the Lindau driver can handle a little jiggle when he comes to a swift stop.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of July 9, 2007

Friday has found us returning once again to the CSAs, after taking a week off to enjoy some fun and sun in northern Wisconsin. Naturally, this past week has kept us on our toes with news stories from all over, some depressing, and some just way too easy to poke fun at. So let's get rolling with our first Coffee-Soaked Awards of 2007's second half.

Bye Bye Stewardess Award
By now, we're fairly certain that everyone has heard about the mother and child who were kicked off of an airplane. The reason, of course, being that the flight attendant thought the child was a little too rambunctious with his commentary of "Bye, bye plane". The flight attendant even suggested dosing the child with Benadryl to calm him down. A note to the flight attendant? Just in case you still have a job next week, invest in ear plugs. If that fails, dose yourself with whiskey. That's our helpful suggestion.

Bye Bye Interview Award
Of course, the story doesn't end simply with mother and child getting removed from the plane. When the mother tried to appear on "Good Morning America", the child was so unruly, that he had to be removed from the studio. This may lend some credence to the flight attendant's actions. We're just amazed that anyone could stay awake through "GMA", let alone cause any sort of disturbance.

Stop in the Name of, Um... Award
What happens when you try to affix police lights to your SUV and then pull over other vehicles? If you're like Robert Lane, you find yourself face-to-face with an off-duty detective, who's badge looked a lot more impressive. Another tip-off that Lane wasn't an actual police officer? There was a distinctive lack of doughnuts and coffee on the floor of his SUV. And his uniform still had the tags on it.

Hug Me, Or I'll Shoot Award
When a man tried to rob a gathering on Capitol Hill recently, he was stopped with a novel idea. After he'd pulled a gun and threatened a hostage, the robber was offered wine and cheese. He accepted, eventually realized he was robbing the wrong house, and asked for a hug. From each guest. Some people are just so needy. Zach Braff was unavailable for comment.

I Remember, Um... Nevermind Award
According to a recent survey, younger people are having more difficulty memorizing simple things, such as birthdates and telephone numbers. The blame is falling squarely on the shoulders of the cell phone industry, and the amount of information that the devices store. And yet far too many young adults can recall every single photo showcasing any celebrities underwear (or lack thereof). We would give a "back in our day" reference, but we just can't seem to remember any right now.

Come Out With Your Curtains Drawn Award
The brave police of Albany held a three-hour standoff Thursday evening, using tear gas during the standoff that ended after emergency services specialists were sent into the house. Their report? The house was empty. Now that the police have taken the banister into custody, they are focusing their investigation to abandoned warehouses and open-air parking lots.

Lawmakers Making Sense Award
Well, maybe making sense is stretching things a little too much, but we do have to give some credit to Wisconsin lawmaker Frank Lasee (R-Green Bay). Having grown tired of the sheer number of lawyers and the sometimes frivolous lawsuits, Lasee has proposed that Wisconsin cut funding to University of Wisconsin law school. We expect that, before too long, a class action suit will be brought by lawyers agains Lasee. The lawyers will reportedly seek the value of a pair of pants.

Not Quite Every Vote Counts Award
After getting to vote in three elections, Duncan M. McDonald will no longer be able to voice his opinion on the issues. Well, he never really did, as each ballot was sent in with the word "VOID" written across it, and a paw print for a signature. But now the Australian shepherd-terrier mix has been denied voter registration, winning one for the system. At least this time, when the electoral process was pissed all over, we could simply blame bad housebreaking, instead of willful acts. When asked for comment, McDonald simply turned around three times, and went to sleep.

And that wraps up our awards for this Friday. We'll be back next week, and we'll keep our eyes on PardonWatch2007. Because either Scooter, Paris, or Nicole might get a full reprieve if they just play their cards right. And then we'll be able to watch the series on network television in the fall.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saw this one coming

Remember the big Valerie Plame deal? The whole "did they or didn't they" as to whether or not the GDub administration leaked her name to the press? The threat that anyone found guilty of actually leaking her name would be summarily fired?

Okay, how about the "Scooter" Libby mess, at least the recent one, where he was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice, only to have his sentence commuted because it was just a little more than the slap on the wrist that the administration believed it should be? And yet, through it all, the allegations regarding the actual leak were denied time and again.

Until today, when GDub admitted that someone kinda maybe let the information get out, perhaps in a less-than-honest way. Of course, no names were mentioned, and, on the subject of Libby, he defended his position (and, we're positive, the more-than-probable pardon looming around the corner), calling it "fair and balanced".

Wait. "Fair and balanced" That sounds familiar... like we've heard it before. And, well, the last group to use the term "fair and balanced" regularly also thinks that Ann Coulter is a viable interview candidate, even if she does make Sean Hannity look like Ralph Nader (and Rosie O'Donnell look like Audrey Hepburn).

Well now we can most certainly put this whole mess behind us. Perhaps, in the upcoming days, we'll hear other things that the administration wants to start admitting. We suggest starting small, with things like Laura not actually having a hand in the decoration offor the White House, and slowly working up to the administration's overall contempt for the wishes of the American people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maybe if we just told the jokes louder

It turns out that, as you age, you don't simply start losing things like your eyesight, hearing, and a grasp on contemporary music. You also start to lose your sense of humor.

A study conducted by the University of Washington has made this observation, possibly due to other brain issues associated with aging. The study involved one group of 40 people over 65, and another group of 40 undergraduates, and tested their ability to offer punchlines for jokes or stories. There also was an element where the participants were asked to choose the correct "funny" panel to end a Ferd'nand comic strip (we can't actually make an assumption on how funny it may or may not have been, being completely unfamiliar with Ferd'nand). Over the course of the study, the younger group scored, on average, 6 percent better on verbal jokes, and 14 percent better on visual gags.

One of the professors for the study, Brian Carpenter, made it clear that, "This wasn't a study about what people find funny. It was a study about whether they get what's supposed to be funny." Well, thank heavens for that. We'd hate to see this type of study devolve into one group fighting for Dane Cook's position in the comedy regime, while the other group talks about Benny Hill and how good the "good old days" were.

Overall, though, this study is relatively comforting in many ways, and disturbing in others. Comforting to know that comedians aren't failing to deliver jokes properly to older audiences, but that older audiences just don't get it anymore. As for the disturbing part? Let's just look at the current administration, and then examine the fact that "The Family Circus" is still being published in newspapers. We're not making any direct correlation, but the circumstance is there.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we've got some lawns to get off of.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

For the selective shoplifter

If you ever plan on going on a shoplifting spree, learn a lesson from Steve Napier, of Berea, one of Richmond, KY's suburbs. Actually, learn a few lessons, and then decided to do things differently than he did.

Over the past two weeks, Napier allegedly robbed a Wal-Mart, taking away an LCD television set, and two different eMachine computers. He tried a fourth time, looking to score an air conditioner, but was forced to leave empty-handed. A loss-prevention officer reported the attempted theft to the Richmond Police, only to discover that Napier had just been placed under arrest for stealing from a Kroger's supermarket.

So that would be the first lesson. When you've gotten away from a Wal-Mart, admittedly without the items you were hoping to get, maybe it's just a good idea to head home. Don't decide that you really need groceries, obtained in the same way that you got your television. After all, it's not easy to run when pushing a full grocery cart.

The real fun began when the police looked at Napier's mug shot. In the shot, Napier was wearing a Dale Earnhardt t-shirt. In fact, it was the exact same t-shirt he was wearing when he had stolen the television from Wal-Mart in the first place.

And that would be lesson number two. If you really want to keep shoplifting from different places, perhaps the first thing you grab should be a change of clothes. Because there's nothing more embarassing than getting busted for a later crime, only to be found wearing the exact same clothes as you had worn while getting away with your first crime.

Of course, if you're the kind of person who's prone to wearing Dale Earnhardt t-shirts and shoplifting from Wal-Mart, especially to support your Oxycontin addiction, then you're most likely not reading this blog. You're probably trying to figure out why more retailers don't feature the brilliant store layout of children's toys next to firearms next to children's bikes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

In need of a podiatrist

Police in Kaiserslautern, at the request of neighbors, raided an apartment recently, under the impression that they would need a mortician to remove a corpse that had been left. Instead, they were greeted with a need for a foot doctor and some industrial soap.

That's right. The aroma that caused neighbors to believe that someone had died was coming from a German man's feet, although the pile of dirty laundry nearby probably didn't help the situation.

It didn't help that mail had been left uncollected for a week, or that the apartment had been completely shuttered during that time. By the same token, if a person's feet (and laundry) cause people to wonder seriously what died, then maybe some measures should be taken to insure that a later police raid doesn't occur.

For example, the German man could decide to deck his apartment with aromatic potpourri baskets, or scented candles. He could use Febreeze everywhere to try and eliminate the odors. Or, for a truly shocking suggestion, he could try washing his feet every once in a while. We can't be positive, but we've got a sneaking suspicion that even Tinactin would turn up its nose at the prospect of tackling this guy's athlete's foot.

Let's just hope that hygiene wins the day. After all, the man obviously lives alone, as no one with a working sense of smell would be able to reside close enough to him to share an apartment. And we certainly don't want to read another report about the feet who cried corpse.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Birthday, America

We're just dropping in briefly to give our thoughts towards tomorrow. July 4. The anniversary of American independence.

We don't miss the irony that some other notable Americans have achieved certain levels of independence from the justice system recently, so, in honor of the United States turning the big 229, we want to offer our quick thoughts.

First off... the Parisite. Maybe now that the initial media blitz is over, we'll finally be rid of her. But hey, it just goes to show that, just like everybody else, the overprivileged canker sores on the face of high society can be sent to prison, and quickly develop a dislike of the color orange.

Secondly, "Scooter" Libby. First, the conviction, for lying and obstruction of justice. Then, the denial by a judge to allow him to delay his prison term. But Libby needn't have worried, as, in the week of America's birth, those in power commuted his sentence, and a pardon may still be forthcoming. If that isn't American independence, then we don't know what is.

And finally, Reverend Billy. The New York City street performer who was arrested last Friday, for reciting the First Amendment. You remember, it's the one that talks about freedom of speech, and the right to peacably assemble. Naturally, an attempt is being made to get the charges against him (for harassment) dropped. Given that he is neither a celebutard, or the fall guy for an entire administration, we aren't going to hold our breathe. Good luck to you, Reverend Billy.

Enjoy your July 4. Have a brat and a beer on us, and be careful not to damage your fingers with firecrackers. Because you can't make the peace sign if you're missing four fingers. We'll see you next week.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Score one for logic

It seems like just a short time ago, we were poking some fun at our friends across the pond for their decision to work on removing "prostitute" from the lawbooks. Now, we're actually praising them for what could be an effort to remove "flood destroyed home" from the language as well. And all it took was a little forward thinking, and application of actual thought processes.

Having just survived the wettest June on record for the United Kingdom, the Environment Agency of Britain has been given some new authority when it comes to new home construction. And they plan on using that authority, to try and keep people from getting flooded out. By telling them not to build in flood plains.

Honestly, we're relatively surprised that it took any nation this long to start thinking, "Well, this area tends to flood. Perhaps we shouldn't put houses here." However, we're not surprised that it was the UK, and not the US, that finally put two and two together, and got a result that wasn't twenty-two. After all, not only do we continue building in flood plains, even going so far as to try and divert rivers out of their natural beds because we want to use the fertile soil for our tomato plants, but we also have a tendency to build along fault line. We also have an entire area of the country nicknamed "Tornado Alley", which hasn't yet prevented people from building homes there, and then wondering why they got hit by a destructive force.

Sometimes we firmly believe that, if there were more active volcanoes around, people would build their homes along the sides, and then hope for magma insurance. We'll just keep our fingers crossed that this new development out of Britain may lead to wiser development everywhere.

It's almost enough to make us forgive the "prostitute" thing.