Showing 1 - 10 of 302 posts found matching keyword: news

My father is enthusiastically following all the news stories about American college campus protests against Israel's ongoing campaign against Gaza. I'm not sure what the appeal of that story is for him other than the fact that's what Fox News is broadcasting all day to distract its viewers from the ongoing trial of The People of the State of New York v. some guy who used to be president. (According to Dad, those damn Yankees are being very unfair to that nice, smart man.)

When I think of college protests, the first thing that comes to mind are the protesters who stood just outside The Arch of my (not particularly liberal) college campus decrying Bush Junior's invasion of Iraq in 2003. I seem to recall no one was particularly kind to them at the time, the prevailing general sentiment being "how dare they stand up for those bastards after what they did on 9/11." To hear the locals talk about it, the only rational explanation for the protesters' behavior was that they hated America.

That's my father's stance on pretty much all protests. To hear him complain about Colin Kaepernick kneeling or Occupy Wall Street, there's nothing less American than protesting. (To be fair, he thinks events in, outside, and around the Capitol on January 6 were also wrong; he just thinks that unjustly persecuted fellow facing a kangaroo court in New York didn't have anything directly to do with them.)

I hate to be inconvenienced as much as the next guy, but I respect nonviolent, peaceful acts of civil disobedience in the style of Gandhi and MLK, even when I'm not particularly sympathetic to the protesters' cause, like that guy who stands on Gillis Bridge overlooking Sanford Stadium on game days yelling through a bullhorn that everyone in the crowd is going to Hell for worshipping a football instead of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, you've got to do what it takes to make people aware of your opinion.

It would be great if the kids camping on their college quads could restrain themselves from graffiti and spitting in the faces of the men who have come to arrest them, but it would also be great if Arabs and Jews could find a way to stop indiscriminately killing one another in ever increasing numbers. As Dad tells me a great man once said, "there are very fine people on both sides."

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See if you can follow along: In 2005, as a college football player, Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy for athletic excellence. In 2010, it was determined that Bush accepted illegal payments and a car in 2004 which should have made him an ineligible player, which would have also made him ineligible to be nominated for a Heisman, so the trophy was reclaimed. In 2021, it became legal to pay college football players which means that you can now give a player a car and a Heisman. Today, fourteen years after it was taken away, Bush was given his Heisman Trophy back.

I've never had a very high opinion of the very subjective Heisman award, but now it's impossible for me to have less.

Bush has always decried having his trophy taken away because, well, I guess he thinks he deserved that car. Sure, he was indubitably a great college athlete, and sure, it's legal to pay players now, but it wasn't then. And that's the point.

According to their own website, the Heisman Trophy Trust admits explicitly charges all 928 voting members with the following criteria for their nominations:

"In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award MUST be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipients must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete."

Even if the Heisman committee has decided that players always should have been paid, anyone who breaks the rules in place while they are playing, by definition, cannot be "in compliance with [NCAA] bylaws." Therefore, letting him keep the trophy is in explicit violation of the Heisman Trust's own stated rules.

Hey, it's the Heisman Trust's trophy and they can do whatever they hell they want to with it. But if they want us to believe their rules have any more significance than the NCAA's, they should at least stop pretending their award is anything other than a popularity contest.

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A timely excerpt from Mark Twain's
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
Chapter VI, "The Eclipse"

As the soldiers assisted me across the court the stillness was so profound that if I had been blindfold I should have supposed I was in a solitude instead of walled in by four thousand people. There was not a movement perceptible in those masses of humanity; they were as rigid as stone images, and as pale; and dread sat upon every countenance. This hush continued while I was being chained to the stake; it still continued while the fagots were carefully and tediously piled about my ankles, my knees, my thighs, my body.

Then there was a pause, and a deeper hush, if possible, and a man knelt down at my feet with a blazing torch; the multitude strained forward, gazing, and parting slightly from their seats without knowing it; the monk raised his hands above my head, and his eyes toward the blue sky, and began some words in Latin; in this attitude he droned on and on, a little while, and then stopped. I waited two or three moments; then looked up; he was standing there petrified.

With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky. I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning! The life went boiling through my veins; I was a new man! The rim of black spread slowly into the sun’s disk, my heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest stared into the sky, motionless. I knew that this gaze would be turned upon me, next. When it was, I was ready. I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun. It was a noble effect. You could see the shudder sweep the mass like a wave. Two shouts rang out, one close upon the heels of the other:

"Apply the torch!"

"I forbid it!"

The one was from Merlin, the other from the king. Merlin started from his place—to apply the torch himself, I judged. I said:

"Stay where you are. If any man moves—even the king—before I give him leave, I will blast him with thunder, I will consume him with lightnings!"

The multitude sank meekly into their seats, and I was just expecting they would. Merlin hesitated a moment or two, and I was on pins and needles during that little while. Then he sat down, and I took a good breath; for I knew I was master of the situation now. The king said:

"Be merciful, fair sir, and essay no further in this perilous matter, lest disaster follow. It was reported to us that your powers could not attain unto their full strength until the morrow; but—"

"Your Majesty thinks the report may have been a lie? It was a lie."

That made an immense effect; up went appealing hands everywhere, and the king was assailed with a storm of supplications that I might be bought off at any price, and the calamity stayed. The king was eager to comply. He said:

"Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun!"

My fortune was made. I would have taken him up in a minute, but I couldn’t stop an eclipse; the thing was out of the question. So I asked time to consider. The king said:

"Ah, too bad. Oh, well, if'n we can't have the sun, we can at least have a barbecue. Light 'im up, lads."

Reaching up one sleeve, Merlin produced a wand. Reaching into the other, the magician revealed a bag of marshmallows. Piercing one with the other, he asked:

"S'mores, anyone?"

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The headline at Atlanta's Fox 5 was "Over 850 pounds of crystal meth found in Norcross storage unit." My first thought on reading the article was, "wow, that's a lot of drugs." My second thought was, "how do you dispose of that much meth?" The article didn't say, which if you ask me is a real indictment of the modern clickbait era of journalism.

Left to my own devices, I did what I usually do when I have a question: I googled it.

That was a mistake.

I only write this so that when I am arrested and the DA introduces into evidence my Google search history and social media feeds full of helpful instructions about what I should do with my stash when the cops inevitably come kicking in my door, I can say that it was all because I read a poorly reported news story.

(To save you the same trouble, let me report that the answer appears to be "mix it with bleach." I'm guessing a lot of bleach. I have not yet worked up the courage to google how to dispose of that.)

In addition to "how to dispose of crystal meth," these are some other actual Google searches I made in the last 2 weeks: "who likes licorice," "why am I paying 24% taxes," "life is not all sex and sun lamps," and "green lantern condoms." What can I say? I'm a curious guy.

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For years, I've been trying to think of what epitaph I want on my tombstone. My mother is under instructions that if I die weirdly — electrocuted by eels, run over by an ice cream truck, hit by a meteor — I'll want that carved in stone. And if I die normally, she should lie and say that I spontaneously combusted.

On a related note, a recent incident at one of my town's finer dining establishments gives me another idea. "Shot to death in a Hooters parking lot over a plate of wings" would make a pretty darn good tombstone.

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I read in the local newspaper that my county currently averages 1 suicide every 14 days. That's on pace for 26 a year. If that seems high, it's because it is.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Americans kill themselves nationally at a rate of about 14 per 100,000, which implies that Coweta County, Georgia, population 155,000, should expect something near 22 suicides per year. For Coweta, that figure is an aspirational number.

What's so bad about living in Coweta? I can only guess.

Of course, thanks in part to our poor healthcare system and our easy access to guns, Georgians kill themselves more often than average Americans. (That's just the price you pay for freedom!) By Georgia standards, Coweta should see 24 suicides per year. So maybe our higher rate is our friendly way of helping prop up those counties that aren't pulling their weight.

Back when I was in a Coweta County high school, the statewide suicide rate was only 13 per 100k (national average 12/100k), yet I knew several people whose parents had killed themselves, and I knew students who attempted it. If people are finding things more bleak and hopeless now than they were then... as a community, maybe as a whole society, we just must be doing something wrong.

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In news shocking to all Baby Boomers and younger, it has been widely reported that current manufacturer Ferrara Candy has decided to discontinue Fruit Stripe Gum, thereby once-and-for-all answering the question: no, we will not still feed you when we are 64.

Sixty-four years is a long time, but Ferrara Candy has only been selling Fruit Stripe for a small fraction of that time. Prior to 2012, Ferrara Candy was known as Farley & Sathers Candy, which itself was only founded in 2002 and bought the pre-existing Fruit Stripe brand from Hershey Foods in 2003. Hershey only had Fruit Stripe for about a year; they bought it in 2001 from Nabisco, which had acquired it in a 1981 merger with E.R. Squibb Company, which got their hands on it in a 1968 merger with Beech-Nut Life Savers who had introduced it in 1960.

(For more fun information on American corporation brand hi-jinks through history, I encourage you to visit the online archive of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which retired their old TESS [Trademark Electronic Search System] last year for a more modern and easier to use but less acronymically friendly "cloud-based trademark search system" [CBTSS? Blech.] )

As has been the trend in recent beloved-but-unprofitable food brands being killed off by one corporate parent only to spring back to life under another (see: Hostess Twinkies and Necco Wafters), I expect that this media brouhaha will lead to continued life for Fruit Stripe. In fact, as of January 10, there is already a pending request at the US Patent Office for a new trademark just registered by Iconic Candies, a company dedicated to continuing discontinued "classic brands" like Bar None (discontinued by Hershey in 1997) and Creme Savers (discontinued by M&M/Mars in 2011).

Anyway, while we await zombie Fruit Stripe's inevitable return, in tribute to its nostalgic greatness, I offer a page from my personal comic book collection in which I demonstrated my 4-year-old's love of brightly artificial-colored, briefly artificially-flavored chewing gum by helping brand mascot Yipes the zebra navigate a maze of marketing Q&As.

I remember really loving the colorful zebra stripes more than the actual gum
from The Friendly Ghost, Casper, July 1980, No. 211

(Disclaimer: I might have cheated.)

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Zombie deer disease epidemic spreads in Yellowstone as scientists raise fears it may jump to humans

Dr Cory Anderson recently earned his doctorate studying with Osterholm, focusing on pathways of CWD transmission. “We’re dealing with a disease that is invariably fatal, incurable and highly contagious. Baked into the worry is that we don’t have an effective easy way to eradicate it, neither from the animals it infects nor the environment it contaminates.”

Once an environment is infected, the pathogen is extremely hard to eradicate. It can persist for years in dirt or on surfaces, and scientists report it is resistant to disinfectants, formaldehyde, radiation and incineration at 600C (1,100F).

Great. The deer have turned to biological weapons and suicide missions. Is there no atrocity they won't commit? I saw we nuke them all now before it's too late for all of us.

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Roswell police respond to nearly 100 deer-related incidents in recent weeks

"Since October, 100 emergency calls have come in, Conroy said, with 81 of those involving vehicles crashing into an animal or a dead deer in the roadway. There were seven incidents of deer caught on a fence, eight responses to calls on injured deer and one incident of two deer fighting, the chief said."

Obviously, that begs the question: who, exactly, were those two deer fighting?

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I'm an enthusiastic subscriber to The Week magazine, in part because it fills the void left by my newspaper subscription going digital. (Maybe I just need something to do with my hands while I read.)

Each week, The Week showcases an assortment of recently released books, and this past week their top recommendation went to Eve:

As it happens, there's a copy of Eve sitting on the table in my den right now. That's because Cat Bohannon is the daughter of my childhood piano teacher who moved back to New York state but still calls my mom to brag about her kids' accomplishments. (Hi, Rosemary!)

I haven't seen or spoken to Cat in many, many years, probably not since the last time I touched a piano keyboard. But it's still a kind of vicarious thrill to know that someone I once chased around a willow tree is a Big Deal now.

By the way, Rosemary is justified in her bragging. Cat's older brother is science journalist John, who has his own Wikipedia page (but I'll always think of him as the guy who teased me with prank phone calls in elementary school).

Meanwhile, I'm sitting in a basement reading old news and typing blog posts. Maybe I should have spent more time practicing the piano. Sorry, Mom.

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To be continued...


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