Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You'll just have to wait for the marshall, Marshall

In a world where danger could lurk around every corner and inside of every Snickers bar, it only seems necessary that we have lists lying around, dictating who can and cannot do certain things. We tend to love making these lists, whether it's merely for the people who can't write checks at the gas station, or if it's for people that are such a threat to society that they would never get released from prison (a list that Charles Manson puts himself on, willfully). In fact, we love making lists so much that the Internet devolves into a series of nothing but lists at the end of the year, with magazines and newspapers following a similar course. In the wake of 9/11, a new list was brought to prominence, and we've been just as eager to fill that one out as many of the others. That list, of course, is the list of people who aren't allowed to fly for one reason or another.

These no-fly lists have come under attack because of standard passengers being denied their flights (or at least heavily delayed) because they share a similar name to a suspected terrorist. But that's at least somewhat understandable. After all, as a society, we're starting to accept that you can't judge a terrorist simply by skin tone, and therefore it's better to be safe than sorry, even at the cost of convenience. Thank goodness the people charged with keeping the planes safe in the air can still get on board.

What? Some air marshalls have problems, too? Well that just isn't right. It's not like anyone can go and become an air marshall. Sure, there's always the outside risk that someone could kidnap them, steal their uniform, take their ID, and manage to know enough of the protocol to sneak through, but that just isn't very likely. As a general rule of thumb, if someone claims to be an air marshall but then has to ask what to do with the little metal thingy attached to the nylon straps in the seats, you may have someone who's a fraud. More to the point, if they don't instinctively know where a good portion of the airport bars are, you just might have someone who is donning the uniform for the first time. Oh yeah, and another good tip off would be if they happen to not speak any English.

Seems like the people charged with protecting the flights while they're in the air would be the ones given a little more lee-way. Of course, it all comes down, in many occasions, to a matter of names. Which is why we suggest that all air marshalls change their names, possibly to something incorporating "Marshall" itself. That way, they can be more easily recognizable for their job duties, and they can try to revive the name. If that fails, they could take the alternate name of "Jordan Holycowihavetoprotecttheplane", but that could lead to a messy signature.

On the plus side, Jordan is gender-neutral, so it works both ways!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can I get that in violet?

Art. It's a fickle thing. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of perspective, as something that some people find truly beautiful, others will find to be downright hideous. This also applies to celebrities, but that's an entirely different tangent.

In China, that mere matter of perspective can lead to disaster for the artist. Take the case of the sculpture entitled "Fly", which was meant to appear at a new airport terminal in Tianjin. The sculpture took two years to build, and cost close to $300,000. A couple of days before it was set to be premiered, the entire thing was dismantled.

Turns out, a local official didn't like the color.

We knew that having the wrong hue could have harsh repercussions, but we thought that mainly applied to skin tones and less-than-tolerant people. We never suspected that something, which had been commissioned by the government, could cost so much and be reduced to so little so quickly all because the artist chose from the wrong color wheel. It's also fairly apparent that the concept of a new coat of paint never occurred to said official. He probably refused to buy a house if the trim on one window or the paint in the pantry wasn't precisely to his liking.

Which just goes to prove that, while we never claimed to understand art, the one thing that's even more confusing is art criticism.

This all begs one question. Would red be a good or bad color to use when creating a piece of art to commemorate the destruction of "Fly"?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Revisionist history

Every once in awhile, and more often than that for some people in our society, someone does something that they regret. Often, when faced with remembering and owning up to an "oops", people will take one of two routes. They will either laugh it off, showing their shame but a willingness to move ahead, or they will completely deny that it ever happened in the first place. But there is a third course, and that is a path the politicians have been walking for years. In that third path, you simply have to change your views on something when the people around you think that you should have a different stance.

And, in an effort to start proving that the daughter of the man who penned "Achy Breaky Heart" is all grown up, she's found herself trying it both ways. Except that now she's "embarrassed". This all coming a short time after she apologized for some racier photos that had been found online.

Look, here's the facts. The girl is 15. This is an age where a lot of young women (whether they've been thrust into the spotlight or not) start experimenting with their own sexual images. Sure, the first round of candid photos may not have been in anyone's best interest, but we could all, to an extent, understand what Little Miss Miley was doing with them. The fact that the photos got leaked proved, to an extent, the adage that, "If there's a photo of your ass, there's a photo of your ass on the internet". But still, some level of props to her for apologizing for the photos, especially in light of how many young girls look up to her, and how we've already got plenty of tarted up "role models" for them to focus on, if that's what they want.

That aside, now we focus on the recent Vanity Fair shoot. Is it just a little creepy for a 15-year-old to be photographed wearing what appears to be a bed sheet and a smile? Yes. Are the photos fairly classily done? Odds are yes, but you're own views of the photographers work could cloud that. Were there people on the set of the shoot, Miley included, who could have put a stop to the whole thing if they felt it was inappropriate in any way? Major yes. Is claiming embarrassment now a way to try to save face with Disney? Possibly.

Naturally, some people (the Mouse included) are claiming that Cyrus was manipulated "in order to sell magazines". This teaches us two things. The first being that Miley (and family) were apparently thinking, "Hmm... cameras, lights... a 15-year-old wearing a bed sheet... there's no WAY that anybody would think to take pictures now. They'll obviously let her get dressed into a frock or something. Oh look, there's the photographer over there... hey, is that a craft services table?". And the other thing that we've learned from this? Apparently Disney holds the controls when it comes to the notion of manipulating teens (and pre-teens) in the effort to make a buck.

Of course, it could have been worse. She could be accusing someone of rape, after a little phone sex.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of April 21, 2008

Welcome back, everyone. It's Friday, and, as it seems to mean up here in our neck of the woods, we either get to prepare for a gorgeously sunny weekend, or we have to duck and cover while hiding as winter rears its ugly (and long-lasting) head. Guess which one we get to do this weekend? It's these weather anomalies that keep us guessing, and it's because of these that we find ourselves with such a grab bag of news stories today. So let's get going, shall we?

Banning Bull Balls Award
Well, Florida really seems to have everything well taken care of. How can we say that? Well, if they didn't, why would they be spending time in their Legislature discussing whether or not to enact a ban on things like "Truck Nutz". And what are "Truck Nutz"? Why, they go on the trailer hitch of most vehicles, and they kinda look a lot like bull testicles. Next week, the lawmakers of Florida plan on proposing a ban against the pin-up girl mudflaps, followed by a rousing game of charades.

Blinded by Craigslist Award
Some guys have all the luck. Others don't seem to have that much. Take, for example, the people who answered an ad found on Craiglist, for a couple seeking a willing third. As it turns out, the couple was planning on taking the people's wallets and running off with the money. Oh, when did the Internet become a place where people could spread lies and misinformation, preying on the hopes and dreams of others in the attempt to increase their own wealth?

Just Shocked Award
Hey look, everybody! It's something that is apparently shocking. So shocking that we can't quite admit to how shocked we are! That's right, the shocking concept is that Star Jones is getting a divorce. Right. Shocking. Almost as shocking as the notion of Amy Winehouse getting arrested. And only slightly less shocking than learning that Michael Jackson is a freak. Seriously, news people. Pay a little attention.

Litigate it Like Beckham Award
At a recent soccer match (apparently, they can't be called "games"), David Beckham gave his jersey to a fan in the audience. The trouble is, there are two fans, one 9-years-old and one 10-years-old, who both believe that the jersey was meant for them. Now, in the spirit of fairness and teaching children to share, the parents are taking the case to court. No word yet on whether or not "doodie head" will come up in the opening arguments, or if it will be saved as a big shocker for the closing statements.

Good Thing There's No Fence Award
Border patrol guards, first getting used to the idea that a "virtual fence" wasn't going to work, are now being given a new tool to help stem the tide of illegal immigration. That tool? Paintball guns. Which of course means that, a couple of months from now, we'll be asked to keep our eyes open for people speaking broken English and walking around with large, possibly paint covered, welts. On the Mexican side of the border, there is talk of restarting their research into Nerf technology.

Um, It's Like, On Sale Award
Price tag switching has a bit of a history in this country, but, really, if you're going to go ahead and swap tags around, be a little more selective than the guy who exchanged the tags on a water bottle and a $500 television set. What we're trying to figure out is exactly how a Wal-Mart gets away with charging $3.16 for a water bottle.

See Your Own Wife Naked Award
Some people have strange ideas when it comes to dealing with their ex-lovers new romantic prospects. One man in Maryland decided to show his ex-wife's new husband a sex tape that he'd made with her. The problem (aside from possibly showing the new husband things that he'll never get to do)? The tape was made without her consent, and the ex-husband is now in trouble for illegal wiretapping. Which just goes to prove that what's legal in Washington, D.C. isn't necessarily legal anywhere else.

And that wraps up our awards for another week. Just like the Democratic nominating process, we'll be back next week. Unlike them, we'll actually have results that you can count on. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Think of the (overly violent) children

It seems like, when you look at the news over the past few decades, children have been becoming more and more prone to acts of violence. They have definitely been given more of a free pass, and many of them have a greater sense of entitlement, than previous generations, but that may be partially due to people with poor-to-no parenting skills, as well as the concept that a simple spanking (and yes, we mean a spanking, and nothing more) automatically constitutes child abuse.

Of course, not all kids are prone to these acts, but the ones that are definitely should raise alarms. Especially when those kids are the type to throw punches and chairs at their fellow classmates.

Just a little scary, when you think about it. Of course, from our perspective, the scariest thing is not that the child has been arrested. It's not even the overall lack of remorse that he seems to carry. The scariest thing to us is the quote from the boy's grandmother, "He gets very upset and he loves to hit." Keep in mind, this entire thing started because of a dispute over crayons. The grandmother went on to say that, if the teacher couldn't stop the child from punching, then "she shouldn't be in that line of work." Because, really, as a teacher, your job skills should obviously include the ability to take down and restrain a mini-Mike Tyson, as well as being able to get the students to care about the Louisiana Purchase.

Here's the catch that, as regular readers, we're expecting you've found to. Let's say that the teacher did exactly what the grandmother thinks she should have, and restrained the child he tossed a couple of chairs around because he couldn't use the sky blue Crayola. We're practically betting that the person arrested would have been the teacher, and it would have been for child abuse. After all, if teacher's can get in trouble for taping squares on the floor around a student's desk, imagine what would happen if one actually tried to lay a hand on a precious little child, no matter whether or not said child was prepared to swing haymakers at anyone within reach.

And really? When an 8-year-old is versed in the concept of pressing charges, maybe it's time to reanalyze their education. After all, not every little thug has a life of sports ahead of them. Some have to accept that low-paying job at a restaurant, or *gasp* get a college education.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Never even saw it

There have been a number of different concepts for dealing with immigration in the United States. For a long time, there was the "bring everyone through Ellis Island and see what happens" approach. There was also the "they aren't immigrants if we've purchased them first" thought. In more recent times, the concept has shifted to "let's see what happens if we let them in and give them no support". Needless to say, this last concept hasn't really proved as fruitful as some of the others, which is why there is now a major push to stopping immigration (or, at least for now, the illegal kind, where they don't bother trying to register their existence within our borders).

One of the more novel ideas of the GDub administration was the creation of a fence along the border between the US and Mexico, along with a military presence. Well, recently, it was discovered that a good portion of the military along the border was the Mexican army itself. Now, given that we had that fence in place, there just isn't that much to worry about, right? Double bonus when the fence is a "virtual fence", set to alert border guards to illegal crossings.

But hold on. It turns out that the "virtual fence" idea is about to be scrapped, because it wasn't actually alerting the guards anywhere near as often as it should have. Which may cast a new light on the whole border issue, since, well, up until now the thinking behind it has been flawless.

What we're failing to realize is that the virtual fence worked exactly as it should have. The problem came when we failed to realize the overall canny nature of the immigrants, who proceeded to come up with a plan called "virtual staying put". And they then proceeded to wander right across the area where the lack of fence was, because, if we can't bothered to actually get some chain link and barbed wire, why should they have to stay where they are.

This also will make it much more difficult for the government to move ahead with some of their other concepts, which include the "virtual spaceship" and the "virtual White House". Actually, that last one might not be such a bad idea, especially if we can get "virtual campaigning" to go along with it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Battle for the White House

Today, voters in Pennsylvania are flocking to the polls. Self-professed Democrats are rushing out to support their favorite remaining candidate, while self-professed Republicans are hurrying to cast their votes for the person they feel will lose to McCain the easiest. As for political moderates, well, it's a coin flip for them. This has been a long and incredibly drawn-out nominating process, and we knew it was going to be hard fought.

We had no idea as to exactly how hard. Sure, there were indications during the debates that things might get nasty. We saw signs that things would step towards levels of weirdness with the bowling and the drinking. And even then, we had no idea exactly what would happen. Of course, nobody could possibly have guessed what ended up happening last night, in the final run-up for the primary.

For those of you that have been able to escape seeing the news story, well, we just had to come and share. Why? Because, in a country starving for a certain level of dignity from our elected officials, it was refreshing to see all three candidates willing to step forward and display that dignity.

Wait. Correct that. There was a certain lack of dignity displayed when the candidates made their appeals on Monday Night Raw. Because when we think politics, we think professional wrestling.

Actually, to an extent, we do pair the two concepts together. First off, there are too many times where the scripting is obvious. Secondly, we're aware that heated opponents in front of the cameras can be good friends behind the scenes. And third, people just keep hoping for a champion that they can believe in and root for.

Maybe that's why Jesse Ventura made it where he did in Minnesota. At least the candidates didn't step into the ring, allowing stand-ins to fill in for them. And we can understand trying to appeal to the wrestling-viewing demographic, as they could all use a bit of a push. But we do have to wonder about the willingness to put dignity aside, with the recorded monologues that they gave.

After all, when you look more foolish than the guy filling up an imaginary car, you've definitely got some ground to recover.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hot coffee

We've talked about this concept before, but it's been brought to our attention again. What concept, you may be asking? Why, the mere thought that, out there in this big world of ours, there are some people that just can't get their morning coffee (or mid-afternoon espresso) without looking at young women in less-than-modest attire. Not to fault the customers (or the employees, really), but yes, there are coffee shops that are staffed by young women in lingerie, or less. And, no shock, but some of these shops are quite popular.

This concept we understand wholeheartedly. Plenty of people like to look at scantily-clad women and men, and the idea of getting your morning jolt from an attractive (and almost naked) member of the populace is quite a marketing gimmick. And don't try to tell us that the people that take these jobs aren't getting a thrill out of being ogled. After all, it's not like the tips can be all that terrific. And it's not like they're stripping, but they definitely are inviting eyes. We're still concerned about accidental contact with the steam wand, but that's just us.

The reason that places like this has been brought back to our attention (aside from the warm temperatures) is that, while it is perfectly acceptable to ogle, drool, and fantasize about these fine examples of the human form, it's just not alright to take pictures. It becomes even less acceptable when the women themselves specifically tell you not to.

On the one hand, we can see where the guys in the story can think that they were justified. We don't agree with their justification, but we can somewhat understand. But to unabashedly look at the woman telling you, "No" and still snap her picture because you "don't care"? That crosses many lines. It's the same type of thought that leads some people to decide to grope the stripper giving them a lap dance.

Here's a tip, guys. Just because you're paying her doesn't mean that she wants to be near you.

And don't think we're just going to chastise the men, either. Oh no, women can be just as guilty. Or, at least, we've heard that they can. We can't be positive... after all, we're just bloggers.

Meanwhile, some people will find it ironic that women who go to work wearing sometimes little more than pasties and a smile would find it inappropriate to have their photos taken. To those people, we say wake up and smell the sexily served coffee. Sometimes a job is a job, and the uniform is either a perk or a detriment. However, no matter what the uniform is, getting your photo snapped by creepy people (especially creepy people that you see often) for their own personal use is often a negative that no amount of bubble baths will be able to wash away.

Now, if you don't mind us, we've got some lattes to serve.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of April 14, 2008

We've finally turned a corner, at least in our little portion of the world. Unless something really strange happens, we should be truly situated in spring. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there are more and more people asking for spare change. In the meantime, we've watched as politicians have done their spring thing (which, right now, seems to be starting to pander heavily to the voters, in the hopes of going back to Washington to do more of the same). And that's why we just can't help but feel good. Let's spread the love, and get these awards underway.

The Pants Command Us Award
When we talk about spreading the love, we figure that there are few ways better than to get rolling with an amazing invention. And, by amazing, we do mean that we're amazed that they hadn't been invented before. That's right, folks. You too can now be the proud owners of a pair of massaging pants (or shorts, as they appear). Finally, the truly hardcore nerd stereotype has one fewer reason to leave his basement and his World of Warcraft.

Shag a Wallabee Award
Or, more appropriately, don't. At least, not if you're in Florida. The state that just recently decided to allow people to bring firearms to the workplace is now working on finally getting that pesky little thing called "bestiality" made illegal. Because, sometimes people just can't control themselves around alligators, dogs, ferrets, cereal bowls, light bulbs, etc., but those same people should be able to bring their Glock to work at McDonalds.

That Tickles Award
Have you ever been so drunk that you hurt yourself, but didn't feel it? That happens to a lot of people. Have you ever been so drunk that you didn't notice the 6-inch knife stuck in your back? The kicker is that nobody noticed until the man's wife woke him from a nap. This is after he had gone to work, and then been sent home for still being drunk. Meanwhile, Rasputin scoffed, calling the man an "amateur".

Freedom Trashed Award
When working on something that's meant to be kept confidential, it's probably a good idea not to dispose of the plans in the trash. It's definitely not a good idea to let a random homeless person then find said plans. The homeless man has already drawn up his own plans as to how he'll be able to fit his tent and blanket into one of the open spaces indicated in the blueprints.

Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Banana Swear Award
A man in Romania was recently fined for calling an emergency number 6,442 times, and leaving profane and vulgar messages. His total fine? $223, which averages out to about 3.5 cents per call. Verizon is still trying to figure out how to spin this into a new ad campaign, with a suggestion of, "Can you hear me now? Suck it." receiving top votes.

It's a Gamble Award
The new uniforms at the Casino Windsor in Ontario, Canada are drawing some ire from female staff, who are claiming that the new clothes are "too sexy" and inappropriate. There are calls of sexism, with the connection being drawn to the Las Vegas-style showgirls, which is not something featured at the Casino Windsor. Why do we include this article? For the woman who said, "So, if you have to wear panties underneath you know it's too short." Here's a tip for women working anywhere, but especially where there is food and drink. Ahem... WEAR PANTIES. Thank you.

Taking Their Angst and Going Home Award
In a moment of frustration, the mayor of Seattle recently threatened secession from the state of Washington, pointing out their relative size to places such as Colombia and Thailand. We're left to wonder if the city would take their Starbucks, angry guitars, and morose poets with them.

No Room At the Internet Award
According to AT&T, without proper investments, the internet could very easily reach its full capacity by the year 2010. He sites the rise in user-generated content as being a key factor. Darn users, generating their own con... tent... um... right.

And with that, we close out our awards for this week. We'll start looking ahead to next week, to see just how the rest of the Four Horsemen respond to Death giving VPCheney an honorary horse to ride. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Somewhere, Darwin is laughing

Oh, YouTube, you beautiful bastard, you. Without you, many of us would never have been exposed to the vast majority of crappy videos that people have created due to inflated egos. Without you, we all would have missed out on other sites trying to steal your ideas to help perpetuate the whole online video sharing phenomenon. Without you, we would have had to brave the elements to see the trailer for The Dark Knight. So yes, YouTube, you've done both good and bad things for us. You've also helped to highlight that there are some people who really need a better understanding of things such as circumstances, and/or self-preservation.

You've shown us people picking fights (or ambushes) to post on your page. We've been witness to people burning themselves after a mistake with a flaming shot. We've watched as shaky cell phone cameras have captured upwards of thirty seconds of something either impressive, or impressively stupid. It was only a matter of time before someone decided that they needed to get footage of themselves making their car go airborne, all to save on your hallowed ground for their own posterity.

Well, the fame that they found wasn't what they were looking for, as, unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, something went wrong, control of the vehicle was lost, and the driver was injured in the subsequent accident. Hopefully, the teenage driver will realize that they were able to escape a far worse result, due at least to luck coming through at the end. And yet, we're afraid that they're going to be upset that their friends were too concerned about their safety to attempt to film the experience.

Now, for the kids out there, here's a couple of tips. Tip #1 - Don't try and make your car go airborne, no matter how wicked cool the bumps and hills in the road might seem. Tip #2 - If you do feel the urge, become a stunt driver, and "fly" cars frequently. Tip #3 - Seriously, ignore tip #2 and just focus on tip #1. Everything will be a lot safer.

We haven't seen that poor of planning since ABC got their questions ready for the Democratic debate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Totally posted

Sometimes, you just have to applaud the stories put together by the New York Post. Of course, most of the time, you're left shaking your head, wondering where exactly they got their definition of "journalism", but one thing you can admit is that they definitely have something of a sense of humor about their writing. After all, when they can write a serious piece about the new Yankees stadium getting cursed because of a Red Sox t-shirt in the foundation, you know you've got people that want to have fun.

And yet, sometimes, they go a little overboard with the fun. Take, for example, the article that caught our eye today. It's the story of a lottery winner, who tried to be a little sneaky about how he went to accept his prize. After donning a disguise, and using a marker to give himself a goatee, he went to claim his winnings. As it turns out, being relatively anonymous was pretty important to him, especially because he was also using it as a way to keep his mother from being harassed.

Well, of course the NYPost was there. After all, this was a fairly large prize won, and it would be remiss of a newspaper just a few steps above supermarket tabloid wasn't there to cover the story. The problem that we're seeing?

In order to cover their story, the NYPost printed the guy's name, along with a photo of his disguise. They mention his desire for privacy and anonymity, but then make a point of name-checking him every few paragraphs. Seems like leaking the name out might not be the best move, when he's looking to maintain a low profile.

Of course, people could think that we're being hypocritical. After all, we're also giving this story some more legs (although our readers aren't the type to go and harass lottery winners... we think). But we're not mentioning anyone by name. To learn more, there is a need to link through, and, since this story's been picked up by a few news sites, we're fairly certain that our addition to this is minimal.

The only reasons that we can think of with regards to why the NYPost published names along with the story are that a) too few people actually read the paper to make the name-dropping matter; b) the writers are hoping to later be known as "The Woodward and Bernstein of the Lottery"; or c) they couldn't get rights to a Bat-Boy story from the Weekly World News.

As for our winner, we wonder if he might be interested in picking up "Conductor Hero". At the very least, the photos seem similar.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Thank goodness. After yesterday, we were concerned that we'd end up having a week of nothing but seriousness. Especially given that, while we fully admit that we're nowhere near the leading edge of any news story, we're finding that we tend to sit around the middle. Yes, even after we had our take on the events, we got to see the professionals (or at least the ones who get paid) to make an even larger deal out of the comments than we did. And to think, what took them hours (and possibly days) to hammer out, we were able to express in one post.

But today is a new day, and this new day features some of our favorite people. Thank goodness for inept crooks. Especially crooks that make mistakes that could (and should) have been avoidable.

Take, for instance, the thief that decided to place some of his stash into a safe deposit box for a time. Presumably, the criminal was planning on going back at a later date when some of the heat had died down, but, instead, he handed over a collection of coins to the person he'd originally stolen them from. We can only assume that the thoughts of the victim were along the lines of, "Hmmm... these look familiar. Hey, wait a minute..."

And yes, for those of you wondering, this could have been avoidable. There's a reason why so many heist movies (or at least heist movies that take place in houses) feature the thieves looking at pictures. You don't want to be caught with your guard down. If you look at the pictures on the walls, there's a good chance that you'll have a nagging little voice at the back of your head that says, "Stop a moment. Doesn't this guy look like the guy in the kayak from where we got the DVD player? And doesn't that girl look a little bit like Mena Suvari?"

Okay, so that last sentence may not happen, but if there's a chance that you can recognize "Guy-Behind-the-Bank-Counter" as "Guy-with-Martini-and-Horrible-Sunburn", you can avoid the embarrassment. And subsequent jail time.

If only a voice like that had existed for a Japanese man who was released from jail. After all, shortly after being released, he decided to attack a police officer with a knife, all in the attempt to secure a gun. When asked why, he pointed out that he "didn't have any money at all". Which makes perfect sense, except when you realize that the reason he didn't have a gun or money may have had something to do with his just getting released from prison. Then again, maybe he just really liked the food and missed his cellmate.

Ultimately, we just have to wonder what types of shirts these guys were wearing. Could it have been found amongst these? Or were they being witty, instead?

Monday, April 14, 2008


You can definitely tell that the political season is picking up. Where the elephants know exactly who they're going to throw out to the voters this fall, the donkeys are still trying to hammer out their final details. This, of course, makes any and all comments magnified, as the candidates try to verbally out-duel their opponent (ah, for the days of Aaron Burr, when duels didn't have to be only verbal).

As many of you may have heard, candidate Barack Obama, in a speech last week, made mention of people in "small-town America" being "bitter". Naturally, this statement has led to both his direct opponent, Hillary Clinton, and his potential future adversary, John McCain, to step forward and draw attention to his comments, while painting themselves in a better light. Clinton may have more at stake than McCain (and we're not talking about the party nomination). After all, according to Obama, part of the bitterness felt is at least partially due to her husband's term in office.

Admittedly, part of the problem with Obama's statement is his reference to people in smaller towns as those who "cling to guns or religion", which has led some people to call him elitist, and saying that he doesn't understand the voters. Here's the trick, though. In the actual context of his words, you can see that he is saying that he understands why people turn to things they can feel sure of, especially in light of the way that politicians have jerked them around. Okay, the jerked around bit is us taking some liberties, admittedly. But what we're getting from Obama's words is that, in large part due to government failing middle-class Americans, it makes sense that people would be bitter, and would find solace where they can.

We can also, to an extent, understand the cries of elitism coming from all around. But when they are coming from fellow candidates who have had just as rose-colored of a recent history as Obama has (if not more so), shouting about elitism smacks of hypocrisy.

And the real kicker? People in the middle- and lower-classes SHOULD be bitter. After all, it is exactly those people who have been forced to shoulder a larger and larger financial burden (going back to at least Reagan), while the upper-class has been given more freedom to escape said burden. And yes, the wealthy do pay. We know this. But we question whether or not the amount is equal on a percentage basis.

The other kicker? The nation as a whole should be bitter. We've been lied to, bold-faced, without anything even approaching an apology. We've been lured into conflict under false pretenses. We've seen our cost of living rise rapidly, while our actual wages have remained fairly stagnant. We've seen jobs that we were promised fade away, or be lured overseas. And through it all, we've continued to put the same people in office, after promises for change when all they really intend on doing is maintaining the status quo.

So yes, we should be bitter. But not at the politicians. After all, it doesn't matter what jacket they were, they still have the same insides. We should be bitter with ourselves, for allowing this to continue unabated.

As for us here at the CSM, we're bitter that we might have missed a story about an inept burglar or a new "breakthrough" in science because everyone is concerned whether or not admitting that the country might not be as peachy-keen as they want to believe is elitist.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of April 7, 2008

Well, it's Friday, and it's hard for us to believe that April has been going on for almost two full weeks now. Of course, this could be partially because the April showers that we've been seeing have been coming complete with powdery white flakes. Almost makes us glad that we don't own a house. In the meantime, we're comforting ourselves by growing our playoff beards and getting down to the business of reading articles, all in preparation for our awards. So let's give them out, shall we?

Too Cold Award
No, we're not talking about the weather. We're talking about Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, and his time in jail. Seems that there was a conflict between him and his wife. And he seemed so normal and well-adjusted, especially during his time on The Surreal Life.

Butting Into Politics Award
Italy is no stranger to odd political bedfellows. In fact, the current electoral landscape for the Italian race isn't even the first time that a porn star has tried to gain a new position for herself. This may be the first time that a porn star has used her backside to try and bring attention to herself. You know what they say... "If there's a photo of your naked ass, there's a photo of your naked ass on most street corners in Rome."

Lost in Translation Award
Speaking of political asses, it just wasn't that long ago that the whole Hillary Clinton/Bosnia anecdote started blowing up in her face. Now, leave it to her husband to bring the story back around, with his own misinterpretations of the truth. Of course, this is the same man that had a problem defining the word is, so it could just be that his entire statement was made up of words he doesn't comprehend. It's a toss up as to whether it's more comforting to think of him as an idiot or a liar.

All About the Children Award
New parents can often find themselves in fights over their children, especially when one parent has plans that don't mesh with the other. However, this is the first time we've heard of parents getting into an argument because they couldn't agree on which street gang the child should join at a later time. This all stems from the fact that the parents themselves are in rival gangs. The father has been quoted as saying, "Tonight, tonight, it all began tonight."

Going for Realism Award
Remember those totally awesome "Hillbilly Teeth" that everyone seemed to have for a few Halloweens (and beyond)? No? Okay, remember those fairly lame "Hillbilly Teeth" that people crammed into their mouths because, well, it seemed cool to emulate people with bad oral hygiene? Okay, good, now we're on the same page. Well, it turns out that a fair share of those teeth used a little too much lead in their production. Either this was a mistake in the production of a simple costume item, or it was a clever and dastardly plot to speed along natural selection. Production has already begun on new and improved teeth, with added mercury.

Burning Love Award
There are a number of highly romantic things that a person can do when planning their proposal to the person of their dreams. Gazebos, candles, and flower petals all fit onto the list. And yet, oddly enough, they don't all fit onto the list at one time. If only the gazebo hadn't been asleep at the time...

A Hands-On Experience Award
We've mentioned strange field trips before. And, thanks to the wonders of the modern college system, we get to mention one again. A group of students from Randolph College in Virginia took in the sights at, among other places, the famous Chicken Ranch in Nevada. Part of the experience was interview sessions with some of the "working girls". On the plus side, nobody was confused, thinking that the Chicken Ranch was actually a cowboy immersion experience to help relocate poultry to New Mexico.

Do Your Research Award
Few things can really ruin a crook's day. Obviously, getting arrested would rank up near the top, as would getting injured in the line of crime. However, trying to rob a bank, only to find out that it's cashless would also get a pretty high rating. The criminals are now plotting to steal good taste from McDonald's, and shame from the Bush Administration.

And that wraps up our awards for another week. Here's hoping that, when we return next week, we'll have sunny skies, beautiful weather, and that snow will have gone the way of the musical act bearing it's name... to be nothing more than a very distant memory. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


We're very familiar with the story, and we're certain that a great many of you are, as well. After all, it's a common one, and it's been told time and time again, with different players being thrown into the starring roles. No matter how often you change the names and faces, the overall story is the same.

What story are we talking about? We're talking about a respected member of the community, and the trials that they have to face when everyone turns their back because of an admission. Sometimes it's an admission of a wrong-doing, such as gambling or an affair. Sometimes it's a declaration of their sexual orientation. Sometimes it's a love for the music of the BeeGees. Either way, those that come forward are quickly discarded by the people that need their support the most.

Why, just recently, a teacher in the Eau Claire, WI area was addressing some of her health students, and, in the spirit of honesty, admitted her sexual orientation. Naturally, the principal for the school stepped up, and, in light of the complaints from parents, proceeded to defend the statements of the teacher, and her right to do so in the first place. He even went so far as to praise her honesty.

Wait, what? Whatever happened to abandoning someone in one of their greatest times of need? After all, letting a secret like that out, especially to a group of students who hadn't asked the question yet (but were probably agonizingly close to doing so) can cause a person to need support. And yet, in most parts of America (and in many parts of the global community), instead of embracing the individual and supporting them through the time that they know they'll be ostracized, it's often the job of those in power to, for lack of a better term, "throw them under a bus". Did this principal learn nothing from those that tried to teach him?

It's also possible that this principal is taking the last syllable of his title a little too seriously. Sure, he can be buddy buddy with the teachers, but, when one says something so obviously inflammatory as to admit their sexual orientation, that's a time to make space for yourself. Unless, of course, the notion that someone admitting who they are and being open and honest with a group of impressionable children, children who might one day feel the desire to be open and honest themselves, is somehow not wrong and/or harmful to the way that this country has been run for at least the last decade or so.

Really, Mr. Principal. We expected more out of you. While we applaud you for going out on a limb to support someone for their honesty, we really thought that you would have a creative plan to alienate them.

And yet you couldn't even step forward and insist that this teacher place a padlock on their pants.

Shame, Mr. Principal. Shame on you for being so gosh-darned understanding and open about these things, and for trying to teach both your students and their parents a little compassion. Just imagine what could possibly happen if the tolerance that you preach spreads through the rest of the nation.

Just imagine.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Leading by example

We had to do some thinking when it came to today's news story. At first, we were caught by the research being done into why the numbers of elderly people dying after a fall was rising so steadily. After all, it seemed like something that we could really dig into. That is, of course, until we remembered that, as a whole, our population is getting older, and nobody has figured out a way to stop that dastardly villain gravity from working his tricks upon our lives. That realization left us grasping at straws.

The straw that we finally grabbed a hold of, however, seems like one that's got some legs to it. After all, how can we pass up the story of a retired police officer going on trial? Specifically, for assault and disorderly conduct? Even more specifically, when the assault and assorted charges were against a cell phone user the former cop thought was being rude?

That's right, folks. Be careful when riding public transportation and using your cell phone. If you're too loud about it, you might get smacked around a bit. Heck, if you're trying to intervene to stop an incident already in progress, you might get smacked around, too. And yet, when the suspect goes on trial, has witnesses to testify against him, represents himself, and still somehow finds a way to get acquitted, you have to wonder. Especially when the actions taken to stop the rude behavior are a little beyond rude in the eyes of many.

Even people who weren't directly tied to this incident expressed a lack of shock over the circumstances, with one alluding to the retired officer as "a dog marking his territory". This just proves that they weren't paying attention. If talking on a cell phone is considered rude by the self-appointed conduct officer, then we can't imagine what he would do if he caught someone urinating on the train.

Although, having spent sometime in NYC subway stations, we're not really sure how many people would have noticed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Being forced to volunteer

Community service. Public awareness. A sense of pride in accomplishment. These are things that school administrators in Maine might be thinking about with their newly proposed graduation requirement.

An overly full work-load. Less time with friends. Being forced to be near old people, some of whom might be as old as, like, 50, or something. These are things that students in Maine might be thinking about, having heard about the proposition.

But what exactly is being considered? Forcing the students to perform 40 hours of community service to graduate. 10 hours per year. 60 minutes over a five week span. And they're already complaining that it's too much to bear.

Look, kids, we understand. We feel for you. We remember a time when we found ourselves laboring away in the class room, pressured by the volumes of homework that we had to carry. We know what it's like to put together a part-time job on top of a full load of schoolwork. How else do you think we ended up blogging?

But here's the thing. You're being asked to give up twelve minutes per week. You know how you can gain that twelve free minutes? Why, just record everything you watch on television with a DVR. Cut out the commercials from one hour-long program, and you're left with at least 16 minutes, on average. So, after you're done watching "Gossip Girl", you can go, do some quick community service, and still have 4 minutes to spare before you start obsessing over "American Idol".

And, while we're thinking outside of the box, let's work to expand the notion of community service. Sure, there are things such as adopting portions of highway and visiting the elderly in nursing homes. Those are classics, and they'll always work. But what if you're a musically inclined kid with a bad back and an aversion to liver spots? Maybe your community service should be helping to educate the masses of your hometown on the finer points of the Coachella Music Festival. And, if you're a gamer, just think about how you could use your Wii skills helping the injured with their physical therapy (all up to the point where you devastate them. After all, if they're in therapy, there's no way that they can move as quickly as you, so exploit their weakness).

Now, if you don't mind, the commercial break for "Last Comic Standing" is almost over.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stick the landing

Smell that in the air? That's Olympics Fever, kids. That's the smell of people getting excited, as they do every couple of years, for a bunch of sporting events that only draw attention once every four years. That's the aroma of people clamoring to find out just how much better their nation's athletes are at pole vaulting than the rest of the world. Why, that's the scent that we can only affiliate with people being unsure whether they should support their favorite athletes (paid or not) or boycott the whole thing because of the politics of the host.

And yet, out there in this vast world of ours, there are people that can't detect the sweet smell of Olympic Fever. Some are opposed to the brotherhood gained from watching NBA players getting trounced by Lithuanian amateurs. Some don't have the proper olfactory make-up that can be gained by seeing a torch pass by (for the record, some of those people are in Paris). And, for at least one young woman, the smell can't be detected because it's being blocked by a belly-button ring.

Wait. Let's be more clear about that. It's being blocked by her own belly-button ring. Apparently, the woman woke up, proceeded to fall out of bed, and somehow caught her navel decoration stuck in her nasal area.

We have to give some credit where credit is due, of course. After all, there are a few ways that we can imagine getting a belly-button ring lodged in your nose, and none of them involve either a) falling out of bed, or b) wearing said belly-button ring at the time. We almost think that this woman should petition to get this entered in as an Olympic sport.

And just think of the attention that the medal winners would get in the Olympic village.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of March 31, 2008

Welcome to another Friday. Here in Minnesota, people are celebrating the beginning of spring, and the triumph of the Wild. Outside of the state, people are stuck just celebrating spring. Well, except for places that never truly had winter. They've already moved on to summer and sunburns. Of course, we knew that spring was coming, because we watched the number of reported student-teacher "relations" leap. It only makes sense, as the teachers are about to enter their annual summer hibernation in just a few short months. But enough dawdling. We've got awards to hand out.

Going Halvsies Award
Sometimes, you need to be careful what you ask for. Other times, you just need to specify. Otherwise, you could find yourself like the Serbian woman who received half of her husband's property after a divorce. Literally. Serbian WalMarts are now considering the slogan, "Buy two, because you might get divorced".

Bait and Switch Award
When looking for a fishing excursion in Fort Pierce, Florida, don't bother looking for a topless boat. A charter service with bikini-clad and/or topless crew members has been kicked out of the marina for not being family friendly. Meanwhile, we're left here pondering on the effects of accidentally catching a fish hook in the implants.

Oops Award
With a number of states enacting smoking bans in bars, it only seems fitting that researchers in Wisconsin (well-known for their bars per capita) should look into aftereffects. They're results? No smoking in bars has led to an increase in drunk driving. Whether that's due to people driving further to get to smoking-permitted bars, people drinking longer because they aren't being forced out by the smell of cigarettes, or people having a couple of extra shots to get the taste of that last drink of rail tequila out of their mouth (something smokers have an advantage at) has yet to be determined.

Give Them Something to Talk About Award
We mentioned earlier about the proliferation of teacher-student sex stories. Normally, we pass them by. Every once in a while, we need to bring one to light. Like, for example, the story of a teacher who slept with her 14-year-old student because he was "shy". In light of this story, men across the country are now acting afraid of the women that they're attracted to, with only 32% actually harboring fear. We have to wonder if the student at least got an A in biology (and possible extra credit in geometry).

Some People Never Learn Award
But we can't just leave you with one story like that. Oh no. Especially not when it could be construed as setting up a prison love connection a couple of years down the road. Why, we practically need to share with you the story of a church aide and her 15-year-old paramour. Seems pretty run-of-the-mill, right? How about the fact that, mere hours before a court appearance for an incident in March, she was found to have had the boy over again, violating her bail. Given that the two met at church, we have to wonder if there was possibly some sort of "come to Jesus" moment. And yes, we feel bad about that.

The Les Nessman Method Award
A teacher in Phoenix has found themselves on paid leave after reports came out that they had taped children into their desks. Turns out that the reports were true, provided that taping someone into a desk means the same thing as taping an outline on the floor, and requesting that they stay inside of it. The teacher is also in trouble for never knocking, and for neglecting to put a dotted tape line for a door. Meanwhile, we're shocked that children anywhere can stay within the lines.

Stupid Criminals, Take One Award
When you show up for a robbery and the police are already there, you might want to rethink your plans. When the police are there because you told the store earlier in the day your full plan, you might want to rethink your chosen career path. Ashton Kutcher is now planning on using a similar story for his newest TV show, "Pop Fiction".

Stupid Criminals, Take Two Award
Of course, spilling your plan is a bad move, but who would have thought that leaving behind your correct address and a photo ID would be less than profitable? Oh wait. Everyone. Well, except for one woman in Michigan.

And that wraps up our awards for today. We're going to go and enjoy the sun and warmth. We'll catch you next week, potentially with our first sunburn of the season. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A tale of two stories

Some days, we just can't decide which news story to go with. We often refer to those days as "Friday", but since we have our awards set up for that day, it's not as big of a deal. It certainly gives us a little breathing room.

And then there's days like today, which, try as we might, we can't call "Friday". Days where there are at least two stories that catch our interests. Sure, we can try and eliminate one of the choices, but, in some cases, we just can't pick. Especially when the stories are so drastically different. In the first, we learn what not to do in case of foreclosure, and, in the second, we get to learn about the best job in the world (or, at least one that ranks pretty highly).

As we mentioned, the first story talks about someone who was about to have their house foreclosed on. While there are a number of different routes that one can take when faced with that type of situation (we suggest looking into long-term motel room rentals), there are certain things that definitely should be avoided. For example, we don't really think that mailing the bank mercury would be a good plan. We're also fairly certain that deciding to create a code using ants would be less than productive.

Oh, yeah. And don't burn the place to the ground, either.

Part of the kicker to this is that the woman accused of lighting her own house on fire (with the help of some chemical accelerants) claims that she didn't know about the foreclosure proceedings. She also claims to have not set the fire, and is possibly sure that "American Idol" is a boon to the entertainment industry. If she's being honest (at least about the foreclosure), she's a little out of touch. If she's not, she could have come up with a better excuse than not knowing. Heck, she could embark on a campaign to find the real arsonists.

This whole thing could have possibly been avoided with a better job. And when it comes to good jobs, there are few that can pass up one found in the village of Winsor, Hampshire, UK. After all, how often do you see a posting offer 7 pounds/hour to drink beer and chat with an older man twice a week? Well, how often do you see something like that outside of a red light district?

The story behind the job posting is a bit of a sad one. An 88-year-old widower, with the assistance of his son, is looking for a drinking companion, someone to spend a few hours with per week chatting over a pint. The man lives in a retirement community with only one other male resident, and he feels that sitting at the pub over drinks with a woman might be a bit awkward. The interesting thing will not be whether the position gets filled, but who it gets filled by. Obviously, someone closer to the pensioners age would be ideal, as the two would have more in common, and thus, more to talk about. A younger drinker with an interest in learning and listening from the older generation could also make an ideal partner.

And no, we're not certain how many times Shane McGowan applied.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Serious about the lawn

We like to joke that, the older you get, the less inclined you are to want young people traipsing about on your grass. We naturally refer to this as the "get off my lawn" philosophy; a philosophy which may or may not have any actual basis in reality. For some reason, though, the image of an old codger shaking a cane at some young rapscallions just to get them to retreat to sod that isn't his is an image that amuses us. And yes, for those of you playing at home, that last sentence largely existed so that we could fit both "rapscallion" and "codger" into today's post.

Anyways, it turns out that, at least for one Welshman, steps have actively been taken to keep the young from his grass. According to the man's neighbors, he installed a device known as the Mosquito onto his roof. This same device is used by stores for one major purpose.

It keeps the kids off of the lawn.

The device works simply. When turned on, it elicits a high-pitched frequency that is almost impossible for people over 20 to hear, but causes severe discomfort in the still-developing eardrums of minors. Naturally, unless the kids have some sort of masochistic streak, hearing the device will be enough to keep them from wanting to retrieve their lost ball.

In our eyes, this is another case where technology has done more harm than good, and we're not talking about the children's ability to hear. Ask any parent and you'll learn that a child's hearing is selective at best. No, we're talking about the older generation keeping the younger one from going places they shouldn't, and specifically from wandering about on the older generation's lawn. We remember a time when all you needed was a sturdy fence, a high-powered hose, a death grimace, and possibly a concealed (yet fierce) dog or two, and you could keep kids from even thinking about touching a blade of your grass. Now, we're resorting to electronics, albeit with better results than city streets playing opera to keep the street people away.

Besides, we've all seen enough movies to know how this all will play out. In the olden days, before the Mosquito, eventually the older people were discovered to be softies when it came to children, and they used their scare tactics to keep themselves at a distance, knowing that, once the grass was trampled, the cookies and hugs would soon flow. Now, we're a step away from technological sentience, complete with lasers trained on even the smallest child that strays off the path.

It would make it a lot easier to clean up the dog waste in the yard, though.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Go get 'em, Tiger!

It's a tale as old as time. A young, scrappy fighter, coming up through the minor leagues, experiencing a rough life all until they get their one shot at true glory. That one shot finally materializes when the top of their chosen field calls them out directly.

Of course, if you're thinking that we're just relating the story to Rocky, you are a little off. Because we're not just sharing the Italian Stallion's story. Oh no. We're also sharing the story of the Little New York Senator Who Could. At least, that's what she wants us to believe.

All things considered, this actually makes some level of sense. Well, pretty much everything from the time that the fight against Apollo Creed begins, anyway. The stuff before that (being poor, eking out a living, falling in love in part because of a puppy) doesn't seem to have many similarities. We can't be positive, because we've never seen how Hillary tenderizes her steak, but we're going to sneak a guess. However, just like in Rocky, people have been telling Hillary that she's finished, and that she should stay down. For her part, she's planning to go the distance, rejecting those who say she can't win as being chauvinist (which is much worse than simply understanding math). Given all that, it only makes sense that she would attach herself to the character of Rocky, especially given the campaign stops in Pennsylvania.

Of course, if Hillary really is like Rocky Balboa, we have to wonder if she's actually watched the film all of the way to the end. If so, she'd be aware that *gasp* the black guy wins.