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Showing posts from April, 2014

Whither Goest The Interrobang‽

The cool thing about being a writer is that you're often given freedom to do unusual things or care about weird subjects. For example, when I go to a coffee shop, the logo on the cup and on the sleeve have to both line up with the drinking hole in the plastic lid.

It also means I have an unnatural interest in language and punctuation that borders on the freakish. By now, my family and friends are used to me kvetching about the Oxford comma, or yelling at TV newscasters, "It's 'A historic,' dammit! 'A historic,' not 'an!' You're being 'an moron!'"


I cringe whenever someone uses certain words incorrectly, kick and scream when the meaning of other words begins to evolve, or smile and say "English is an ever-changing tapestry" when I purposely violate long-held rules just to stick it to grammar sticklers.

Like this: It is actually perfectly acceptable to end your sentences with a preposition. But when I tell people this, they …

Karl the Curmudgeon Wants Jetpacks

"We were promised jetpacks," said Karl.

The band? I asked.

"What?" said Karl.

There's a Scottish band called We Were Promised Jetpacks.

"What are you talking about, Kid?"

What are you talking about?

"Jetpacks. Why the hell would I be talking about one of your stupid thrash rap bands?"

First of all, it's called thrashcore. Second, I don't listen to that. Third—

"Kid, you remember we've got a word limit, right?" Karl whispered.

Fine, I sighed. What ever do you mean by jetpacks, Karl?

"When I was a kid, we were told we could fly around on our own personal jetpacks. Our dinners would go from the fridge to the oven to our tables. And we would go to school in flying buses."

Are you thinking of 'The Jetsons' again?

"No, I'm not thinking about the stupid Jetsons again. I saw a study from the Pew Research Center about how people feel about technology in the future. Only one percent of the people said t…

Do British Farts Cause Global Warming?

Put down those beans! Your next fart may contribute to global warming.

At least that's what a couple members of the British House of Lords seem to think, because apparently British nobility are so well-versed in the ways of science.

According to a story in Wednesday's (London) Daily Mirror, climate change minister Baroness Verma demonstrated she had as much a grasp of science as a climate change denier when she urged the British population to curtail their farting.

She made the statement after Labour peer Viscount David Simon asked whether British people eating so many baked beans contributed to global warming.

I really wish this were an April Fool's joke, but the story ran eight days afterward. Or I could reassure you that the English government is not actually being run by surviving contestants of the Upper Class Twit of the Year. But I can't. If you've seen our own Congress in action, you understand Britain's pain.

According to the Mirror, (official motto: &…

What About Peek-A-Boo?

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2005, because this topic bothered him so much.

While most new parents are eager to show off their new baby, and beam when people coo and marvel at their new addition, one hospital in Halifax, Scotland is putting a stop to all that.

According to a story in The (Edinburgh) Scotsman, the Calderale Royal Hospital has instituted a ban on looking at, asking about, or even cooing to newborn babies in the maternity wards, to prevent visitors from ". . . gawping at newborns or questioning the mother."

Debbie Lawson, a neonatal manager, said that even babies have a right to privacy. "We need to respect the child," she told the Scotsman, presumably with a straight face. "Cooing should be a thing of the past, because these are little people with the same rights as you or me."

Lawson and her fellow anti-cooing activists have even hammered the point home with a doll carrying the message, "What…

Indianapolis Man to Attempt World Record for Fastest Fireman's Carry

(INDIANAPOLIS)—At age 23, former University of Indianapolis student Sterling White plans to break a Guinness World Record. On April 26 2014 at 10am at Carroll Stadium, White will attempt to set a new record for the World’s Fastest Fireman’s Carry For A Mile.

The current record is 11 minutes and 30 seconds. White believes he can break that record, and has been training since February 2013 to prepare for the attempt. The record calls for White carrying another person of an equivalent weight for one mile.

"I wanted to show the kids in my community that if you set your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do," said White. "When I was growing up, my mom worked a lot of jobs to take care of us, and she always told us we could do whatever we wanted if we worked at it."

White currently trains at Crossfit Naptown, which helps him with running, weight lifting, strength training, and technique. White’s attempt involves more than most athletic endeavors. Not only does h…