Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Terrorist Tree Commits Suicide Attack On Parked Car

by Benjo
BELCHERTOWN, MA -- A tree crushed a parked BMW sedan in a suicide attack yesterday in the center of this small town. The tree, an oak, used itself as an improvised arboreal device, or IAD, destroying both itself and the car.

“Given the history of tensions between fundamentalist oak trees and German cars, we do believe this was a terrorist incident,” said police chief Gunther Napalm.

Noting that tree experts had confirmed that the tree was dead, Napalm said, “The fact that a tree would be willing to give its life to take the life of just one car should give us great pause.”

Authorities believe that the tree was acting alone, but are looking into the possibility that it was working with an accomplice--perhaps lightning. As a precaution, the wind was also detained briefly before being released late yesterday afternoon.

Napalm stressed that there is no evidence, however, linking the tree to al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. Police are nonetheless continuing to look exhaustively into any possible connections.

“We want to be absolutely certain that we prevent the nightmare scenario,” said Napalm, “which is of course the possibility that a nuclear weapon would fall into the branches of terrorist trees.”

Car owners expressed outrage and fear following the attack.

“It would be one thing for it to attack a military car or a tank,” said Rodney Lang, 55. “But an innocent civilian car like this? It's unconscionable what these crazy oaks will do.”

Town mayor Landon Felder tried to calm these fears. “We want to remind people that the oak is a species of peace. The last thing we want is for there to be any aggression or ill will towards oaks or any other trees.”

Still, the possibility of species profiling remains a reality.

“If I see a tree of oak descent on the street at night, am I more likely to stop it and question it than if it was a pine? You bet I am,” said police officer Morris Daley. “If the oaks want that to change, they're gonna need to get out of the soil for once and do something about it. Maybe covering yourself with bark and living off sunlight worked a million years ago, but in the age of the internet, that's not gonna fly. These trees need to embrace modernity.”

ACLU spokeswoman Victoria Elmswether disputed those sentiments. “Ninety-nine percent of oaks live normal, peaceful lives,” she said, “and yet oaks have continued to face these speciesist profiling practices for years. This trend of trees being pulled over for 'Photosynthesizing while oak' has got to come to an end.”

Indeed, Napalm confirmed that the tree behind yesterday's attack was anything but a random oak. It had long been on a terrorist watch list, which would have prevented it from flying or traveling abroad.

Napalm noted that the tree had been indoctrinated during its adolescence by a fundamentalist tree preacher, or “treecher.” Said Napalm, “The treechers' message of hate resonated with the tree due to its upbringing in extremely poor soil, which the treechers blamed on car exhaust.”

He continued, “The only place we're going to stop this problem, then, is at the roots.”

Napalm is optimistic that such a program of nutrient-rich soil promotion will work. “If we can convince these young oaks that their earthly life is one worth living,” he said, “then there will be no reason for them to commit these suicidal acts in pursuit of the promised 72 piles of virgin mulch.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ashton Kutcher Livid After Discovering Patrick Swayze's Ghost Communicating With Demi Moore

by Benjo

Ashton Kutcher lashed out this afternoon after discovering that his wife, actress Demi Moore, has been communicating with the spirit of her Ghost co-star Patrick Swayze following the latter's death on September 14.

“When Whoopi showed up and started channeling Swayze, I thought I was being punk'd,” said Kutcher, referring to the MTV prank show he hosted from 2003 to 2007. “But when she started talking about details of my life that only Swayze would know, I knew it was for real.”

Kutcher said he first became suspicious when he whispered to his sleeping wife that he loved her one night last week. "She just said, 'ditto,'" Kutcher said.

Kutcher says that the communication will not affect his and Moore's marriage for the time being. “I'll tell you what, though,” he said. “The second Demi breaks out the pottery wheel, I am fucking out of here.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Following Death Of World's Oldest Person, Fox Developing Reality Show To Find Successor

by Benjo

Interesting story: my great-great-great-grandfather in Ukraine was the oldest person in the world for 30 years, having inherited the position from his father. He eventually lost the title in a battle against the Poles; otherwise, I might be fourth in line for the title today. Fascinating to see how the rules of succession change over time.

On the heels of the death of 115-year-old Gertrude Baines, who until her passing was the oldest living person, the Fox network has announced a reality show, tentatively titled Who Wants To Be the Oldest Person in the World?, which will crown a new oldest person.

The news was welcomed by elderly citizens like 99-year-old Abigail Lyman. “Here I am, skin dripping off me like cheese off a pizza; can't hear, see, think, walk, remember, move, drive, clean, work, cook, eat, or breathe on my own,” Lyman said. “And yet, these 115-year-old freaks think they deserve the title just because they've been wasting away a few years longer? Well wait till they see what's coming to them.”

Bruce Namath, professor of Elderly Studies at Washington State, noted that the reality-show format is just the latest in a long line of methods that have been used over the years to determine the world's oldest person. "For centuries, the title was passed from father to son," Namath said. "The modern criteria for the title were not adopted until 1923, when scientists discovered that oldness was a function of how long an individual had been alive."

In Namath's view, this led to a dark age for the "world's oldest person" title. “The idea that the title would based on longevity alone is age discrimination, plain and simple.”

In spite of Fox's elimination of this outdated system, Namath has some worries about the show. “We should be extremely concerned about the frequency with which the oldest person in the world has been dying,” he said. “Baines's oldest-person predecessor died in January, and the previous one passed away last November. That means the oldest person in the world has been dying at a rate of more than once every four months.”

There has been much speculation regarding why the world's oldest person dies so often, but Namath believes there is a simple explanation. “It's the pressure,” he said. “You've lived 115 years, and suddenly people all over the world know about you? For someone who was born in 1895, the existence of mirrors is hard enough to wrap your head around. Seeing a Wikipedia page about your 115-year-old self is the kind of thing that will make an egg salad out of your already scrambled brains.”

However, Nancy Wiley, Age Historian at the University of Tennessee, points out that the second- and third-oldest people have died just as frequently. “What that shows, I think, is that the danger is a result of simply being on an 'oldest persons' list at all,” Wiley said. “What we need is to do away with these lists.”

Wiley believes that, lists aside, these supercentenarians could be the key to what is seen as the holy grail of medical research: a cure for old age. “Clearly, these people have some sort of immunity to oldness. We need to be going through their gene sequence to determine whether there are any clues that could point us toward a treatment or a vaccine.”

Despite initial difficulties recruiting contestants due to the high likelihood of the winner's death, Fox executives have fielded a cast of 25 men and women between the ages of 31 and 102, who will fly to Belize, where shooting will begin on October 12. Episodes, which will hit the air in early 2010, will consist of a series of challenges, including dune-jumping, a two-minute underwater swim, and a memory contest. The winner of each challenge will be the individual who performs it in the oldest manner possible.

Executive producer Jerry Lankler expects the show to be a huge ratings winner this fall. He is already working on a spin-off, Deadest Person Alive—which, he noted, should not be confused with the ABC show formerly called Alivest Dead Person, which was later transformed into the hit show Corpses Do the Darnedest Things.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Johnny Nailon, 7, Thanks Jesus For Go Fish Victory

by Benjo

Ever since ESPN started showing professional poker, I haven't followed my second favorite card sport, Go Fish. After reading the article below, I think I'll need to fix that.

After a stunning come-from-behind Go Fish victory, 7-year-old Johnny Nailon bowed his head in prayer, then spiked his cards.

“I want to thank Jesus for giving me that three of spades,” said Nailon, whose game against his brother, 11-year-old Damian, was his first ever. “I always told Damian Jesus liked me better, but this just proves it.”

Damian accused Johnny of cheating, suggesting that on more than one occasion, his younger brother peeked at the cards in the pile while he was going fish. Johnny refuted the accusation, saying, “It's not cheating if Jesus is trying to get you to do it.”

Christine Nailon, the boys' mother, agreed with Johnny. “Maybe if you'd gotten a better grade on your science test, Jesus would have let you win,” she told Damian after the game.

According to Mrs. Nailon, the tables turned when Johnny asked Damian if he had any jacks. Damian told Johnny to go fish. He fished a jack, jumped up, and yelled, “I fished my fucking wish!” repeating an exclamation he'd heard the previous week during his father's weekly game of Go Fish with his friends.

Since her children's game, Mrs. Nailon and her husband have been discussing Johnny's future. “For him to beat his older brother, who's much more experienced, in his first game, was a sign that Johnny's Go Fish talent runs deep,” she said. “We're going to take things one day at a time, but the prospect of a professional Go Fish career is exciting enough that we'd be crazy not to consider pulling Johnny out of school for it.”

Johnny will test the waters this Saturday, amongst an expected crowd of 200, mostly in their 50s and 60s, who will be competing for the title of “Go Shark” in the Greater Northeast Go Fish Tournament, where the top cash prize will reach $100,000.

Reports that Damian had converted to Judaism, as well as his apparent proclamation that “Moses and me are gonna kick Johnny's ass in H-O-R-S-E later on,” could not be confirmed as of press time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Outbreak Feared After Second-Grade Class Infested With Cooties

by Benjo

I spent some time in Burundi in college, so I can claim to have seen cooties ravaging a country first-hand. Trust me when I say that it is bone-chilling. Be careful, folks.

WOOSTER, OH—The World Health Organization has issued a level five pandemic alert following an incident in a second grade classroom that has led to what officials are calling the most serious cooties scare since the Ring Around the Rosie Panic of 1941.

As news of the infestation broke, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention scrambled to manufacture millions of doses of cooties vaccine.

“We are extremely well prepared for this,” said CDC spokesman Arnold Nierman. Despite the organization's inexperience in dealing directly with cooties since the vaccine was developed in 1949, Nierman pointed out recent successes in combating other sexually embarrassing diseases, or SEDs. Their quick response to the outbreak of Upside-Down Boob Syndrome in the mid-90s helped turn more than one million boobs rightside-up; the defeat of pubic alopecia later in the decade was a direct result of the organization's partnership with Hair Club for Men in creating the company's spinoff, Pubic Hair Club for Men.

The scare began at the second graders' recess, according to witnesses. “The kids were all completely fine when they came in this morning—no symptoms of cooties at all,” said teacher Maya Lane. “Then at recess, there was some commotion among the girls about Ethan N., but I figured it was nothing. So we went ahead with our regular Duck, Duck, Goose game—and bang. Cooties everywhere.”

The CDC this morning banned Duck, Duck, Goose, calling it “among the greatest dangers to public health that the human species has ever devised” due to the methodical touching of every person in the circle. According to the provisions of the heightened alert level, the sharing of juice boxes and crazy straws are also prohibited. As an additional precaution, men and boys are to temporarily refrain from crossing swords in public restrooms.

Fears of an outbreak are already beginning to grip the public. Becca Greenberg of East Saint Louis said, “I was talking to this really sweet guy at the bar last night. He was in med school; his beard was immaculate; he even quoted the Talmud. But I noticed he kept sort of angling himself so he was in the shadows. Finally we came into the light, and I saw why: he was completely covered with cooties.”

Brian Denson fears a similar fate. “I just got out of a two-year relationship. Cooties are the last thing I need,” said Denson, 29. “I had cooties for all of third grade, and I honestly don't think I got laid once that whole year.”

Nierman said those in Denson's situation need not worry. “Cooties are like chicken pox: if you had them as a kid, it is extremely unlikely that you will contract them again. However, adult cooties are tremendously more severe than pediatric cooties, so those who never had the disease and were not vaccinated should exercise extreme caution.”

Lines of patients waiting for the vaccine stretched for up to four blocks. “I'm afraid of needles, so this is the first vaccine I've ever gotten,” said Randi Lemongrass, who then administered the vaccination for a friend: “Circle, circle, dot, dot, now you've got the cootie shot.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ahmadinejad: "The Nile Is Not Just A River In Egypt"

by Benjo

In his speech today at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "The Nile is not just a river in Egypt." He pointed out, "it also flows through Tanzania, Uganda, and Sudan, among others."

Ahmadinejad, who last week called the Holocaust "a lie," cited a survey that found that over 90% of Americans believe the Nile only flows through Egypt. "If the visions of these individuals were borne out, it would simply wipe stretches of the continent off the map," the Iranian leader said. Ahmadinejad offered to partner with these Americans in a project that would divert portions of the river through Israel. As of publication time, 90% of Americans could not be reached for comment on the Iranian president's offer.

More on this story as it develops.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Typo Leads To Military Coupe In Angola

by Benjo

There has never been clearer evidence that the Pentagon's billion-dollar typography budget is money well-spent; the story below illustrates the type of national crisis that our elaborate spell-check system has been so successful in preventing.

LUANDA, ANGOLA – Following what many believe to be a typographical error in an email from Army Chief Kundy Pahiama, a military coupe was staged here last night.

The email from Pahiama, which was sent at 10:30 p.m. local time last night, lamented that “dealing with President Santos in a civil manner has proven impossible,” and concluded that “staging a military coupe at the Presidential Palace is the only viable option.”

Following the email, top generals scrambled throughout the night first to deck a coupe out in camouflage, and then, to assemble a stage in front of the palace on which the coupe would sit.

“Some people may ask, 'Why a military coupe? What is the significance of this?'” said one general who insisted on anonymity. “The answer is obvious: for too long, we have been fed up with the military sedans the President has made us drive.”

Asked if a typo was suspected, the general said, “Absolutely not. Pahiama got where he is on his spelling prowess. Besides,” he said, “what else would he have meant to write?”

The government, however, is taking the threat of a typo very seriously. Upon witnessing the coupe on stage this morning, the full resources of President Santos's staff were deployed to investigate whether a typo had occurred, and if so, what the intended message was. Many officials believe that Pahiama intended to impose a military coupon, which would have illegally given generals up to 50% off at retail stores such as Macy's or Bloomingdales.

If the coupe was indeed accidental, it would hardly be the first event in world history to be shaped by a typo. Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, is rumored never to have slept with his wife while in office because an adviser accidentally wrote him a memo informing him that he was only eligible for an erection every four years. The so-called Presidential Blueballs of 1837 is said to have cost Van Buren any chance at a second term.

More recently, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe attempted in 1989 to instruct his generals to commit genocide, but accidentally wrote them a note requesting “gonocide” instead, leading them on a crusade to rid the world of gonorrhea. That crusade continues to this day.

In more recent United States history, an al-Qaeda cell in Chicago received a telegram instructing them to “glow up” the city's Sears Tower. What was intended to be a devastating terrorist attack instead turned into a dazzling light show.

The Angolan government is expected to reach a conclusion on last night's events sometime next week. The President released a short statement today indicating that until the report's release, “General Pahiama Will Be Suspended Without Pat.” This is expected to be a crippling blow for Pahiama, as “It's Pat” is the general's favorite movie.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New “Toferson” Products Offer Cannibals A Tasty Vegetarian Alternative

by Benjo

Benjoblog has been on the vegetarian beat since shortly after our inception. But never has our meatless appetite been quite so whet as it is now that we get to deliver the news that the mock-meat-loving community is ready to accept a new cohort: veggie cannibals! Story follows.
Following years of success in offering a soy-based Thanksgiving alternative to non-meat-eaters, the Tofurky company has announced a new line of vegetarian human-flesh options for cannibals. Called Toferson, the fake-meat products will hit stores in early 2010.

The product line will include crunchy snack foods like False Teeth Crisps and imitation kitchen staples like Can't Believe It's Not Butt. Additional products, such as the Wiener Wiener, Cameltofu, and Mock Cock, were deemed too racy for supermarkets, and will be sold only in sex-oriented food stores.

The announcement was embraced by vegetarian cannibals—or anthratarians, as they prefer to be called—around the country.

“By nature, I eat people, but at heart, I have morals,” said Percy Felwether of North Dakota. “I believe a vegetarian diet is the ethically and environmentally appropriate way to live. But I still adore the tangy taste of cooked human flesh. Now, I finally have a way to reconcile my beliefs with my natural tendencies.”

The products are not without their critics, however. “We are completely opposed to the killing and eating of innocent animals,” said PETA spokesman Lyle Renfro. “But the killing and eating of humans is an entirely different story. Humans have caused more death, pain, and extinction to animals than any other species in the history of the world. So we embrace cannibalism--provided, of course, that the people being consumed are animal-killing meat-eaters.”

Renfro went on to say that, beyond simply opposing Toferson, PETA will launch a new Eat-A-Friend campaign next year to "encourage cannibalistic behaviors and hasten the demise of the planet's most cancerous species."

Supporters of the new products suggest that PETA's fears are misguided. “I have hundreds of friends who were always curious about the taste of human flesh, but were always squeamish about actually trying it out,” said Abbey Scottsdale, director of Eating Rights Now. “When they try Artificial Hip Burritos or Fakin' Belly Button Bacon, they'll see how delicious it is, and it just may inspire them to try the real thing. Eventually, this could bring about a whole new generation of anthratarians.”

If Scottsdale is right, Sandy Brackett of Rhode Island, to this point a human-flesh abstainer, could become a member of the new cannibal generation. “I was watching the Olympic Games last year, and I just kept thinking, 'Those gymnasts look absolutely delicious!'" Brackett said. "But every time I was tempted to head down to the gymnastics studio and sample the local flavors, I just never had the guts—pardon the pun. But with Toferson's Parallel Granola Bars offerings, I can finally find out what I'm missing.”

But to anthratarians like Felwether, the effect on the size of the anthratarian population is secondary. “I'm just a cannibal, but as long as I've lived, people have treated me like some kind of barbarian,” he said. “If getting this issue out in the open removes the taboo even a bit, it's a victory for everybody. Because for too long, this stigma that I carry has just been eating me alive.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Out-fluenza: How To Keep The Flu Out Of Your Home This Season

by Benjo

Hard as it is to believe, school is starting back up again. And that can only mean one thing: flu season is right around the corner. With this year's added peril of swine flu, it's more important than ever to be vigilant. Here are a few pointers to help you keep yourself and your family flu-free this fall.

It is well known that the easiest way to avoid the flu is to wash your hands regularly. But studies show that under 10% of Americans are familiar with proper hand-washing technique. To be sure your hands are actually staying germ-free, follow these steps:
  1. Turn the water on using the back of your hand.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Wet your hands.
  4. Apply soap again.
  5. Wash under your fingernails.
  6. Rinse the soap off.
  7. To ensure all bacteria are fully removed, cut off your hands.
  8. Dry off your stumps using an air dryer--not some scummy paper towel dispenser!
Doorknobs are prime breeding grounds for the flu. Therefore, it is essential to complete the following steps to avoid the dangers they pose:
  • Remove knobs from any doors you see.
  • Look in the yellow pages for any stores that might sell doorknobs. If you find any, these are the types of extenuating circumstances in which arson is perfectly reasonable. (Make sure to use the type of fire that burns doorknobs, obviously.)
  • If you break wind, and someone yells "doorknob," kill them immediately.
Reader Phyllis, of San Francisco, writes, "The neighborhood I live in is called Nob Hill. This is a different spelling...not to mention, it's just a name. So I'm okay, right?" Wrong. Your neighborhood is infested. Burn all your belongings and flee to Uzbekistan.

Schools are the easiest place for flu to spread. If your kids are enrolled in a school, it is recommended that you have them deported. If you see a little boy walking the streets with a schoolbag, assemble a mob to shame the boy and call him what he is: a bioterrorist.

In the event of flu
Reader Lesley writes, "Let's say I do get sick. Should I stay home?" The last thing we need in a flu epidemic is a sissy. Be a man, Lesley. And if you're a woman, get a sex change, then be a man. If you are a man, get a name change, because in the face of what could be the most devastating flu season in history, this Lesley crap ain't gonna fly.

Final thoughts
Realistically, anytime you go to work, or to school, or to the grocery store, or to the bank, you're exposing yourself to some risk of coming home with the flu. The best course of action, then, is to never go anywhere or do anything--for the rest of your life if possible, but at least for the duration of flu season.

But for a few of us, this is an impossibility. For those few, I offer that flu season is a misnomer; this is ambiguity season. By that, I mean that the uncertainty over whether you have caught the flu is far more dangerous than actually catching it. In other words, find someone with the flu and inhale their sneeze, for the last thing you want is a season-long case of anxiety. Because, to paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to flu is flu itself.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poll: Americans Eager To Get Screwed Over Even More On Health Care

by Benjo

You hear a lot of noise about the opponents of health care reform. But this poll should put to rest any doubts that they have their heads on straight.

Faced with crushing health care costs, record numbers of uninsured, and a squeeze caused by the recession, Americans want to see the country's health care system get even worse, a new survey shows.

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose efforts by Congress and President Obama to reform the system.

“A shitty health-care system is one of the things that makes this country great,” said Dale Lander, of Sheridan, Arkansas. “You want to live in a country where you're guaranteed cheap health care? Move to France.”

Dotty Rausch, of Wichita, also opposes a mandate for health insurance coverage. “This is just another case where the government is stepping into our lives, telling us what to do. I believe illness is a choice. And I will not let government take away my right to be sick and not have the means to do anything about it.”

Lander and other opponents of reform nonetheless support some elements of the White House's plan. “My big things are high costs and lack of coverage, so I am in opposition, let's get that clear,” Lander said. “But I have also long been a death panel advocate, so I was heartened to hear that they would be included in the bill.” Lander added, “I used to be a major supporter of Sarah Palin, but the fact that she is against the death panels is making me reconsider.”

Ned Bailey, of Waterford, Michigan, was among the 3% whose top priority for a health package was universal coverage. “I have been bankrupt, been made to suffer, and will probably someday be killed by this awful health care system,” Bailey said. “That 47 million people have been able to completely avoid this shitshow is simply unfair. Let's make them endure it with the rest of us.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Decrease In Acceleration Of Rise In Unemployment Falls, Leaving Economists Arguing Over What Actually Happened

by Benjo

Dizzying news:
The decreasing rate of acceleration of rising unemployment went down this month, leaving economists reeling in an effort to determine whether this was a good or a bad thing. “The accelerating rise in unemployment went down. That means people aren't losing their jobs as quickly,” said Branford Wilhelm of the University of Chicago. "That's good." But Jacoby Roughrider, of Princeton, disagreed, pointing out that “this is the decrease in acceleration of the rise in unemployment. That means the acceleration went up.” At his press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “President Obama has not articulated a position on whether these numbers are what we want or what we don't want." But Gibbs denied charges that Obama was non-committal on not avoiding allowing a decrease in the rise of unemployment not to increase by the end of 2010, pointing out that “The President considers that one of his lowest non-priorities.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Man Missing For 20 Years Surfaces, Is Declared Winner Of Hide-And-Seek Game

by Benjo

When I was a kid, I remember losing myself for days at a time in a game of Parsec, but this guy takes the idea of getting lost in a game to a whole different level.

Jake Litton, who has been missing since 1989, finally appeared on Tuesday, giving his family some long-awaited relief and putting an end to what historians are calling the longest hide-and-seek game ever played.

Litton's older brother, Danny, who now goes by Dan, and neighborhood youths Mike Danforth and Gilly Richardson, all came out of their hiding spots after an hour or so on the day the game began, when it was time for dinner. But Jake stayed put—until now.

“No one ever said, 'Come out, come out, wherever you are,'” Jake said. “So I assumed the game was still going.”

Jake came up with the idea for his hiding spot while eating breakfast on the day of the game. “No one would ever think to check there, so I knew it would be a winner,” he said. He declined to reveal the location of the hiding spot, citing his desire to use it again in future games.

“People think it would be boring, but to be honest, it was the best 20 years of my life,” Jake said. “Yes, I spent puberty in a hiding spot, but so does everyone, in a sense.”

Jake finally made the decision to come out when he smelled French toast. “I love my mom's French toast,” he said, “and I was really hungry—you know, since I've just been living on bugs and whatever else crawled by for 20 years.”

However, when he came downstairs for breakfast, he was met with disappointment. “It ended up being someone else's mom's French toast. Turns out my parents sold the house twelve years ago. The kid gave me a bite, though, so it's all good.”

“I'm relieved that my little brother's still alive,” said Dan Litton, who is now a commodities trader at Goldman Sachs. “But the idea that he won the game is total crap. We stopped for dinner, not because anyone ever found me. Hell, if I'd wanted, I probably could've lasted 20 years in my hiding spot, too.”

At 29 years old, but with only a third-grade education, Jake is not sure what he will do with his life. His first priority, he says, is to get his brother and the other kids in the neighborhood together for another game of hide-and-seek. “I was the winner,” he said. “So it's my turn to be it.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care FAQ: Separating Fact From Fiction

by Benjo

If you've been following the debate on health care reform, you know that a lot of half-truths, rumors, and flat-out lies are going around. Today, the White House published an FAQ to sort out what's true from what's not. Since they couldn't get to all the questions, I answered a few below.

Is Obama's health care plan socialism?

No. People throw the word socialism around a lot these days. What they tend to forget, though, is that our highways, fire departments, and postal service have been government-run for decades. To suggest that the existence of a public health care option will suddenly turn the United States into a socialist nation is preposterous: we're already there. The word for where this health care plan will leave us is Communism.

Is it true that the health care plan would kill our babies, or establish “death panels,” as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has suggested?
Absolutely not. The government's confiscation of all first-borns will eliminate the need for any such death panels.

Is it true that Obama's health care plan would result in the euthanization of many elderly citizens?
This one is patently false. Euthanasia is the choice to actively put a person to death. Obama's plan would deny treatment to a person, so that the person withers away passively—i.e., on their own time. This is not euthanasia, and it is completely unfair to the president to suggest otherwise. Any pro-lifer would surely tell you that, just as abortion is a sin because it interferes with God's will, Obama's plan is ethically sound because it allows God's will to be followed.

Is Obama Hitler?
Since he has not released his birth certificate, there is no way to know for sure. But the Obama-Hitler comparisons made in recent days by Rush Limbaugh and others do have major factual problems. For instance, Hitler killed 6 million Jews, Polish Christians, gypsies, homosexuals, and handicapped individuals. Obama's plan, on the other hand, would allow all elderly persons to perish equitably, without regard to color or creed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Five Particles Dead, Four Injured In Giant Particle Collision At Hadron

by Benjo

My heart goes out to the families of the particles.

Geneva Police are reporting five particles dead and four injured in a giant particle collision at Hadron, the particle accelerator that was switched on in Switzerland last fall. This marks the latest in a string of recent setbacks at Hadron. The previous one occurred at a ceremony last month for the unveiling of the enormous sign in front of Hadron, when it was discovered that the placement of the D and R had been accidentally switched.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Life of the Party: A Short Story by Benjo

by Edward J. Albenstein

I may be Benjoblog's official writer-in-residence, but by no means am I the only wordsmith around here: Benjo, it turns out, is a wonderful fiction writer.

Read his new short story, Life of the Party, at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Steering Wheel Use Found To Be Associated With Traffic Accidents

by Benjo

I'm posting this article for the benefit of any of you who might be drivers. These days, people will use their steering wheel without a second thought, leaving neither hand free. Be careful out there.

Distractions from steering wheels cause tens of thousands of car accidents each year, according to a new study by statisticians Richard French and Ainsley Waring. Their research, which will be published in next month's issue of Science, finds that steering wheels are a factor in 95 percent or more of traffic accidents.

The study found that hands-free steering wheel use is not any better, as drivers may become complacent, with the expectation that their car will steer itself.

Despite the study's findings, many have continued to use their steering wheel, angering public-safety advocates. “It is not fair to the other drivers on the road for you to put their lives at risk so you can have a few seconds of convenience,” said highway patroller Mike Cary. “You need to use your steering wheel? Fine. But pull over before you do it.”

However, any choice regarding steering-wheel use is likely to leave the public's hands soon—literally. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has scheduled hearings on a steering-wheel ban for just after the August recess, and are expected to pass legislation by the end of the year.

But some public-safety advocates complain that a steering-wheel ban does not go far enough. “Engines, ignitions, gas pedals, and drivers' seats provide just as much of a hazard to drivers,” said Terry McCourt, of Car Safety Now. “Not until these features are removed is a car really safe.”

The study is posed to reopen other long-closed issues of car safety as well. An analysis published in the Economist this week shows that nearly all deaths previously assumed to be alcohol-related appear also to have included a steering wheel, raising questions about whether it was the alcohol or the steering wheel that caused the accident.

Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting its conclusions, the study continues to face some skepticism. "I've been driving for thirty years and using a steering wheel that whole time," said Florette Watkins, 42. "It sure doesn't seem dangerous to me." However, French, one of the co-authors of the study, attributed Watkins's statement to a common logical fallacy. "Causation does not imply correlation," French pointed out.

French and Waring are best-known for their landmark 2006 study that proved that the administration of last rites was the leading cause of death in Catholics. Waring is currently working on the follow-up to his 2008 bestseller, Those Who Breathe, Die.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Army Developing Unmanned Targets For Use In Afghanistan

by Benjo

I was as devastated as you were by the news that Congress halted production of the F-22. Thankfully, we have ourselves an Army that's incredibly diligent about coming up with urgent new technologies that require our funding, so we don't have to worry about the government ending up with extraneous cash. Here's an excerpt of an article about one such innovation:
Following the success of unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator, the U.S. Army has been developing a high-tech unmanned target. Called the Prey, the targets are expected to be deployed in the treacherous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan as early as December.

The drone targets will be self-powered, requiring no human control, but will otherwise function identically to traditional targets.

“They will be spotted, targeted, attacked, and destroyed in exactly the same way as if they were manned; however, there will be no casualties,” said Jackson Wallace of Raytheon, the defense contractor developing the Prey.

When asked what the practical purpose of the drone targets will be, an Army spokesperson pointed out that that was a good question.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Judge Sentenced To 2 Years After Defendant Invokes “I'm Rubber, You're Glue” Provision

by Benjo

My thoughts are with the judge's family:
Judge Harold S. Marsh of Prescott, Minnesota, was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday after defendant Michael Holcomb invoked the “I'm rubber, you're glue” provision, which allows a statement to bounce off of a listener and stick to its speaker. Holcomb, whose trial had previously been suspended due to an inflagration of a witness's pants believed to have been caused by a lie told on the witness stand, was released shortly after the sentence was announced. Authorities say he will face no further prosecution for his crime of stealing the cookies from the cookie jar.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chief Justice Roberts To Break Up Supreme Court, Pursue Solo Career

by Benjo

I'm devastated--the Supreme Court was always my favorite court, but I've never gotten a chance to see them live. I'll definitely go check out Roberts, but without Justices Breyer and Scalia on backing questions, it just won't be the same.
The Supreme Court of the United States will break up at the end of the term, allowing front man and Chief Justice John Roberts to pursue a solo career, sources say.

“John has felt like the Court has really been holding him back creatively,” said Edward Stapleton, a former clerk for Roberts who is close to the Chief Justice. “He does believe there are a lot of strong justices on the Court, don't get me wrong; but he is clearly the most talented. And he's definitely got the star power to make it as a solo justice.”

The Supreme Court has been together for 220 years, and has had rotating lineups throughout that time. Indeed, the Court currently includes none of its founding members, but has nonetheless continued to adjudicate under the original Supreme Court name.

According to law professor James Wicket, “They're like Santana in that way: you might have a new keyboardist, or Associate Justice, or what have you, but the ethos is the same.” Wicket noted that “The group Santana does have that guy Carlos Santana, who's been with them the whole time. Now there is no Carlos Supreme. But if there was, it would be Roberts, no question. He is the Court's backbone.”

Stapleton, the former clerk, and others have confirmed that Roberts has considered adjudicating under the moniker Carlos Supreme. As for what he will adjudicate, Stapleton said that Roberts is not opposed to re-adjudicating some of the classic cases from his days with the Court, but he will focus on new material.

According to Stapleton, Chief Justice Roberts had been pondering the decision to go solo since the Morse v. Frederick case in 2007. “He wrote the majority opinion, and thought the case was going to be huge,” Stapleton said. “But in the end, he felt that Justice Stevens's dissent prevented the case from becoming the huge hit that it could have been.”

Since joining the Court in 2005, Roberts has steered it in a direction that distinguished it from the Courts of preceding decades. “He was never interested in the synthesized stuff in the Court's opinions from the 80s—he found it, frankly, cheesy,” Stapleton said. “Ditto the grunge Court of the 90s. He's always been an independent guy, so it makes perfect sense that the Roberts Court has been the indie court.”

Despite the increased independence that Roberts will now enjoy, many question the wisdom of the breakup. Legal historian Linus Loriander points out that other justices have pursued solo careers in the past, only to find that their formulas did not work as well without their backing justices.

“They often find their courthouses empty within a few years. When you're accustomed to the roar of the giant crowds in the Supreme Court Chamber, that's hard to take,” Loriander said, noting that over half of justices who pursue solo careers end up reuniting with their original Court within a few years.

But some claim that visibility has nothing to do with the breakup. According to one Supreme Court clerk, Roberts's reasons for quitting are related more to his personal habits.

“It's the partying, period,” said the clerk. “Having been backstage at the Court, I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. The celebrities, the intoxication, the groupies—all of whom flock to Roberts.” The clerk continued, “When his wife left him, that was a blow. When he had to go to rehab, it hurt, for certain. But I think the moment when it became crystal clear that the Roberts train had to stop was when the Chief Justice found himself blowing lines off Ruth Bader Ginsburg's tits.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spearmint-Filled Cigarette Helps Gum Addicts Beat Their Habit

by Benjo

I'm not a gum chewer, but this will surely be welcome news for some of you. Now if they'd only make a cigarette that will help me beat my addiction to Gossip Girls!

In an effort to wean heavy chewers off of gum, Philip Morris has recently introduced Bubbarette, a cigarette filled with spearmint leaves and other gum-flavored fillings.

“In months of testing, Bubbarette helped over 95% of chewers beat their addiction,” said company spokesman Donald Middlecross. “The cigarettes are safe, they're tasty, and they leave your clothes smelling minty-fresh. And best of all, they won't rot the teeth like gum, so even kids can smoke them.”

Indeed, as some of the most dedicated gum chewers, children are expected to be some of the heaviest Bubbarette smokers.

Pediatrician Jay Gorman says this is a good thing. “If kids smoke Bubbarettes, it's probably the most effective way to ensure that they don't develop a lifelong dependency on one of the most harmful habits out there: chewing gum.”

Third-grade teacher Dina Withers says that Bubbarettes will also help keep order in her classroom. “I'm thrilled. I'm never going to have to get on my knees and pick a cigarette off the bottom of a desk, because they don't stick. Plus, Bubbarettes have made my classroom smell delicious.”

Critics warn of the dangers of second-hand mint. Studies have shown that being in the same room as someone who has smoked seven Bubbarettes will leave an individual's breath just as minty as if she had smoked one Bubbarette herself.

Such criticisms have not derailed Philip Morris's efforts, however. Bubbarette (formerly known as Ciga Yum) currently exists in just spearmint and peppermint, but the company will soon add three more flavors: Cotton Candy; FruitStripe, which is a striped cigarette; and Sour Blueberry, which colors the tongue blue when smoked.

Bubbarettes work by gradually weaning chewers off of gum over the course of 12 weeks. While the first cigarettes are 100% mint leaves, mint is gradually removed and replaced by tobacco. By the twelfth week, the cigarettes are pure tobacco. Philip Morris recommends that chewers continue to smoke even after the twelfth week to prevent relapses.

“The gradual nature of the Bubbarette system has been key to my efforts to quit chewing,” said Darren Leonard of Wabash. “I tried to quit cold-turkey once, but the withdrawals were too intense. Now, I'm only two weeks away from the end of my program, and it feels great. I've never sat in the non-chewing section at a restaurant before. Now I'll finally have my chance.”

Leonard mentioned that, as the cigarettes have become filled with less mint and more tobacco, he has begun craving the cigarettes. “I don't know why that's happening, but it's fine with me,” Leonard said with a laugh. “Whatever it takes to get me off this nasty gum kick.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Congress To Be Renamed After Corporate Sponsors

by Benjo

I've always been a proponent of spicing up the names of the houses of Congress. To that effect, I might have preferred something like the Tabasco Senate, or Dave's Insanity Senate. But this is a step in the right direction. An excerpt of the article:
Amid continuing financial woes, President Barack Obama signed into law the Congressional Nomenclature Amendment Act, which will provide corporate sponsorship for both houses of Congress.

In accordance with the new law, when Congress reconvenes on July 6 following their Independence Day recess, they will do so as the Verizon Senate and the International House of Representatives, or IHOR.

The bill, which will not directly plug spending holes in any government programs, but will instead provide $12.2 million to finance pay increases for members of Congress, passed the Senate last week by a 98-0 margin.

The move brought criticism from government watchdog groups, who worried about conflicts of interest. “Is a Senator going to be able to vote on a telecom bill that hurts Verizon?” asked Congress Watch spokesman Brian Levin. “We think not.”

Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, a member of the Dunkin' Donuts Republican Party, disagreed. “Voters elected us in part because they know we have integrity. Why should the name of the building we're in change that?”

John Kerry, the USAir Junior Senator from Massachusetts, agreed with Franks. “Saying my legislation will be favorable to telecoms because I'm working in the Verizon Senate is like saying that Carlos Pena's home runs will be favorable to orange juice because he plays in Tropicana Field. It just doesn't make sense,” Senator Kerry said. “Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hold a hearing on airline subsidies.”

Already, some conflicts have arisen. The General Motors Corporation is said to be interested in sponsoring its main subsidiary, Government Motors, which the federal government took over and renamed earlier this year. If that and GM's proposed sponsorship of the Department of Motor Vehicles move forward, sources say that the latter will be renamed the General Motors Government Motors Department of Motor Vehicles.

The sponsoring companies saw the deal as a major boost for business. "We project this will lead to millions in additional annual revenues," said IHOP spokesman James Schwenker. Schwenker denied reports of remaining tension from an earlier version of the deal that fell through, saying, "Sure, in an ideal world, we would have liked them to take the name International House of Representative-cakes. But all in all, we are very happy with how things have ended up."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grocery Store Admits To Slowing Down Whichever Aisle Betty Lewis Is In

by Benjo

I swear this happens to me at my grocery store, too. I am so going to catch those MFers, just like Betty!
Betty Lewis always thought she just had bad luck. “I always try to pick the shortest aisle at Dillon's, but it always seems to turn out being the slowest one,” said Lewis, 63, of Motterville.

But as it turns out, luck had nothing to do with it. On Tuesday, police arrested Dillon's Grocery owner Matthew Richards on charges of a months-long conspiracy to slow down Lewis's aisle each time she visited the store.

In a statement, MVPD spokesman Randall Mink called the plot the largest grocery-store crime in history. By the time of the Dillon's arrest, authorities believe that up to 90% of the town's population had become complicit in the plot. However, Mink tried to tamp down fears that similar crimes would arise involving town-wide efforts to inconvenience a specific individual. “To be clear, this was in no way connected to or inspired by the 2004 plot in which Highway 54 drivers conspired to ensure that Ted Davis's lane would always be the slow one, even when Davis switched lanes. All evidence points to this being the only current conspiracy involving 90% of the town.”

A Dillon's customer who was involved with the conspiracy, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, opposed the MVPD's decision to disrupt the plot. “This was something my friends and I looked forward to—it was a community-building activity. Just like public sacrifices back in the day. I mean, if we could bring public sacrifices, I'd be all for it. But we can't, so this is the next best thing.”

Lewis herself found a silver lining in the news of the conspiracy, in the form of vindication. After years of watching complaints to friends about her bad luck fall on deaf ears, Lewis's credibility has reached new heights.

Peggy Danforth, a member of Lewis's bridge club, said, “I used to just tell Betty she thought she had luck because she'd focus on the bad times.” But after hearing of the arrests, Danforth's feelings changed. “She was right all along. And I feel horrible for having doubted her all this time.”

Danforth expressed openness to giving Lewis the benefit of the doubt on other claims she had previously considered dubious. “Betty thought that Obama was making eyes at her during the speech he made at the high school during the campaign. Over and over she said, 'He was checking me out, he was checking me out! I think he has the hots for me.' That sort of thing. I thought she was out of her mind. But now? It's hard to be sure.”

Lewis was grateful for her newfound credibility. “Now I can tell my grandkids that Obama and I almost had an affair. It's wonderful,” she said. “We probably wouldn't have kids, Obama and me—I mean at my age.” Her voice trailed off. “But who knows?”

“He's doing a wonderful job,” Lewis said. “I will say, I wasn't crazy about that dog he picked. But we can deal with that when the time comes, if I end up moving in to the White House.”

Lewis said she has not spoken to President Obama since the conspiracy was uncovered, but she did hire an artist to create a simulation of her and Obama's offspring. “He's a beautiful baby,” Lewis said. “And I'll tell you what: he wouldn't have any trouble getting through the grocery aisle. You know, being the President's son.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dick Cheney To Open Guantanamo Bay Yoga Retreat

by Benjo

An amazing report about the former Vice President's next project:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, growing nostalgic for his purview over the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, has decided, in the free time he now enjoys as a private citizen, to open the Guantanamo Bay Yoga Retreat in his native Wyoming. The center, which is said to be the first yoga retreat in history to be surrounded by barb wire, is set to open this fall.

The retreat will teach a new discipline of yoga, authorized by Cheney, called Sivitanga, which roughly translates to Enhanced Interrogation Yoga Techniques. Like Bikram Yoga, Sivitanga is practiced at high temperatures. But while Bikram's 100-degree temperatures are intended to maximize blood circulation and calorie burning, Sivitanga is practiced at 225 degrees, so that its practitioners might be boiled alive.

While only four of the 22 students who took part in Sivitanga test sessions last week passed away as a result of the heat, session coordinator Anya Delylo predicted that that number would rise after the retreat opened. “These test sessions were conducted with some of the nation's finest yogis. As we accept students at Gitmo Yoga whose bodies are less toned, it is inevitable that many will reach terminal nirvana, or death, as a result of the sessions.”

The harshness of the techniques has resulted in criticism for Cheney's retreat even before it has opened.

“Let's call these disgusting techniques what they are: yoga,” said Red Cross spokesman Robert Bonner. “When the Khmer Rouge lined up dissidents in the streets and had them do the Bound Butterfly, it was yoga. When Mao took scholars out to the countryside and forced them to assume the Cobra Pose, it was yoga. This whole notion that it's yoga when other countries do it, but not when we do, is preposterous.”

The Red Cross teamed with other human rights organizations around the world in publishing an open letter calling on President Obama to ban Sivitanga, insisting that it violates the terms of the UN Convention on Yoga.

Cheney vehemently denied that the techniques constitute yoga, insisting that the word was used ironically in the name of his retreat. “The United States does not commit yoga. Period. These techniques were carried out in a manner that was humane, well-monitored, and conducive to increasing flexibility while improving general health.”

Student Ashley James, of Los Angeles, concurred. “I loved loved loved the waterboarding pose,” she said. “With all that heat in the room, it feels so good to have a little water sprinkled on you." James continued, "All of the survivors—or students, or whatever—were talking after the session, and we all agreed this is the most incredible kind of yoga we've ever taken part in. I just wish there was a Sivitanga studio near my apartment. If I could do Sivitanga after work and hit Jamba Juice on the way home? Ugh, it would be heaven on earth.”

Rose McDonald, of the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, agreed with Ms. James. “These new techniques are amazing. The limb-stretching exercises, and just the strain of being shackled for hours at a time, really helped me to get those last few pounds off after the pregnancy.”

According to one former advisor to the Vice President, Cheney decided to set up a yoga center within the week following the attacks of September 11. Another official close to the former Vice President suggested that, following his exit from public office, Cheney became obsessed with the idea that there was a connection between 9/11 and yoga instructors.

This account squares with descriptions of sitings of the former Vice President at the test sessions. “I saw him wandering through the hallway, all crazy-eyed,” said Will Rudy. “He was approaching every yoga instructor he saw—with his eyes, seriously, like darts—trying to get them to cough up information on where Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were hidden.”

“I can't get over how creepy it was looking into those eyes,” Rudy said. “It was, like, torture.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

ATM Fees Begin to Exceed Withdrawal Amounts

by Benjo

Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it seems wrong to go to an ATM and not get any money back because the fee is greater than the amount you want to withdraw. But on the other hand, ATMs are really convenient.
Rising ATM fees are nothing new. But recently, some patrons who try to withdraw cash from an ATM have been met with a surprise: the fees are actually larger than the amount of money they're trying to withdraw.

“The other day, I was trying to take twenty dollars out of my account,” said Chad Denton, 33. “But the ATM fee, as it turned out, was $25, so the ATM just subtracted the difference, and I didn't end up getting any cash back.” Denton, a Bank of America account holder, said, “I actually have to get five bucks to B of A now.”

Millie Davis, a Bank of America spokesperson, confirmed that Denton's experience was expected. “At some of our branches, fees reach as high as $30,” said Davis. “If customers are interested in receiving money, they will have to withdraw more than that. If they fail to do so, as was true in Mr. Denton's case, they will end up owing us money.”

Davis attributed the rising fees to the increasingly sophisticated touch-screen technology used by the machines. “The touch screens literally provide a tangible benefit to our customers,” she said. “Customers always have the option of a no-fee ATM that doesn't have a touch screen: it's called a mattress.”

A spokesperson for Sealy confirmed Davis's claim, but indicated that the mattress company is looking into the possibility of imposing fees each time a customer withdraws money from under a mattress.

Despite the increasing costs of using an ATM, customers remain undeterred from using them. “It's just so convenient to have a place on my block where I can just get money,” Denton said. “I mean, sure, I didn't actually get any money this time around, but still, the convenience makes it worth it.”

In an effort to make customers' ATM experiences even more convenient, Davis said, Bank of America will soon begin offering receipts of their transactions to customers who pay a mere $5 fee.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Pun-Jokes

by Szabe

Benjo write the post about joke for mother. I give my mother a joke once: my school card!

My favorite jokes for mom was always the pun. The pun the only joke that give you all the funny to the humor, with language, and then so you think.

Here is my favorite Hungarian pun-jokes from growing up.
  • What the difference is of a doggie with three foots and a mailman with three letters? The doggie with three foots have three paws, and the mailman with three letters have three mails!
  • Did you heard about the man who ask his wife why she make so many jokes lately? She say she been trying to do more “humor”ous.
  • When you cross a monkey with a pencil you get what? A monkcil.
  • The lawyer prepare all week for his court case. He get ready notes and he get ready arguments. He talk to the witness and he look at the stories from before cases. He perfectly ready him for everything. Then the court case come, and he lose.
  • What the definition of war is? The struggle on the battlefield between the states or nations for the particular ends.
  • What does it call a kitchen with two refrigerates? A two-fridge kit chin!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Johnny Baker Goes to Room, But Refuses To Think About What He's Done

by Benjo

Just caught a snippet of this story on the news, but this was the only coverage of it I could find online. Links to more detailed stories would be appreciated--I can't believe organized crime is starting so young.
PINE BLUFFS, WY--Last Thursday night, after her son Johnny played with his food at the dinner table, Sandy Baker ordered Johnny to go to his room and think about what he'd done. Johnny dutifully proceeded to his room and shut the door. But according to local authorities, he neglected to think about what he'd done. Police spokesman Walter Dingle said it was initially suspected that Johnny, 7, was part of a local ring of children behind a recent wave of crimes involving a refusal to eat their vegetables. However, investigators eventually confirmed that Johnny acted alone. Since this is Johnny's first offense, he will not face prison time. But Dingle said that a repeat offense could land Johnny in his room for up to three hours with no chance of dessert.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama Calls Republicans' Bluff, Appoints Jesus to Supreme Court

by Benjo

A stunning pick. See below.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made headlines last week when he promised that Republicans would oppose President Barack Obama's eventual Supreme Court nominee. But in a move that strategists are calling political masterwork, Obama will call Republicans' bluff, nominating Jesus Christ to the Court early next week.

McConnell could not be reached for comment on the decision. But according to Republican strategist Mike Murphy, the political calculus is nearly impossible.

“On the one hand, if you vote for confirmation, you're backtracking on last week's promise, which is extremely embarrassing,” Murphy said. “On the other hand, if you vote against confirmation, you just voted no on fricking Jesus Christ.”

But even if He wins the support of some Republicans, Christ, the son of God, faces an uphill confirmation battle. Already, critics have questioned His eligibility for the Court, claiming that “natural-born” cannot apply to resurrections.

Others expressed concern over expectations about Jesus's legal decisions. Abortion-rights groups worry that Jesus, a fierce pro-life advocate during His days on Earth, could tip the Court towards overturning Roe v. Wade.

On school prayer, another hot-button issue for the Court in recent years, left-wing groups worry about a potential conflict of interests, since many of the prayers would be to Him.

Jesus's backers fiercely refute such claims. According to Heaven spokesman St. Peter, “Jesus understands that when He trades in His heavenly robe for His judicial robe, He's also trading in the word of God for the word of the Constitution.”

St. Peter added, “He will be an impartial judge, and He will not rule from the bench, unlike some of His liberal colleagues.”

Some, though, have difficulty with the details of Christ's career shift.

“I've spent my life as a dedicated follower of His work,” said John Tucker, a pastor near Tuscaloosa. “But now that He's supporting Obama's socialist agenda, I'm out.” Tucker does not know what he'll do now, but says, “I heard that Mohammed had some good things to say about same-sex marriage, so I'll definitely be checking their thing out.”

Other religious leaders were more optimistic. “I think it's silly that He's not Chief Justice, don't get me wrong,” said Bishop Matthew Landry of San Diego. “But let's face it, we've got another Republican joining the court. We should be happy.”

President Obama would not confirm the selection, but praised Jesus. “Jesus is someone who has a reputation for being a pragmatic leader, and who has always been a beacon of light on issues of justice. He is someone who has been an influence on me, particularly with respect to his ability to cross party lines to get things done.” Obama expressed hope that his eventual nominee will be quickly confirmed by the Senate.

Many analysts predict that Christ's confirmation will depend on His performance in confirmation hearings, as well as details that emerge about His earlier work. Christ's opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research are well known. But Republican operatives are poring through the Bible for hints about His views on states' rights, originalist readings of the Constitution, and Guantanamo detainees' habeas corpus rights, among other issues.

Whether Republicans in Congress will fall in line remains to be seen. But no one was more ecstatic about the pick than Independent senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. “Finally,” Lieberman said, “a Jew on the Supreme Court.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Interview with Nathaniel Abramson of NASA

by Benjo

Dr. Nathaniel Abramson is the director of the Extraterrestrial Life Exploration program at NASA, which is tasked with documenting and classifying any life on other planets in our solar system. I had the great fortune to speak with Dr. Abramson today.

BENJO: How are you doing today?

ABRAMSON: On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd say I'm somewhere between a 2 and a 9.

: That's a pretty broad range.

: Narrowing it down even a little bit is what's important.

: Fair enough. So how is the life exploration coming along?

: It's coming along well. Narrowing it down even a little bit is what's important.

: I'm sure. So have you actually found evidence of existing life on other planets?

: Oh, sure. Tons.

: Is this—that's amazing. On which planet?

: Oh, all of them. Uranus—all of them.

: There's life on Uranus?

: Ha ha ha, no
that was a joke, of course. But all the other planets, yes.

: Well this is incredible news. I don't think it had been reported in any news outlet to this point. Can you tell me a little bit about some of these life forms?

: Well let's see. There are cats on Saturn, newts on Jupiter—

: I'm sorry, did you say there were cats on Saturn?

: Certainly—I mean, they're not housetrained, so they need to be walked. But look, don't act like these cats are barbarians—they'll purr if you pat them. Tell me, are you a cat owner?

: I—no.

: They're really wonderful pets. Everyone is so addicted to dogs, and I just don't understand it. I used to be a dog person, but after comparing Saturn with the pound that is Venus, I can safely say that cats are the better pet. You know, my friend's selling Abyssinians, if you're interested.

: I'm fine, thanks.

: So Benjo, when did you get into blogging?

: I—this interview is supposed to be about the Extraterrestrial Life Exploration program. We can talk about my blogging afterward.

: As you wish, Benjo. You know, the need to exercise absolute power is the surest sign of absolute weakness.

: Dr. Abramson, can you tell me about some of the other findings made by your team?

: The greatest discovery was when we went to Neptune and found a sushi joint run by two-toed sloths.

: Okay, that is just blatantly false.

: Believe what you want.

: Dr. Abramson, does the Extraterrestrial Life Exploration program even exist?

: Yes. Well, no.

: Do you work for NASA?

: I used to work in Nassau, in the Bahamas, taking pictures of vacationers with parrots on their shoulder.

: Sir, what do you do for a living now?

: I sell insurance. Benjo, do you rent or own?

: That's irrelevant. I rent.

: Do you have renter's insurance?

: No. I've been thinking about it, but anyway, look—

: Thinking is for professors, Benjo. Thinking won't reimburse you for damaged property in the event of fire.

: I know.

: Listen, for just $14.99 a month, my policy will cover you for the original value of damaged items in cases of fire, theft, and even some natural disasters.

: You said $14.99?

: Sure did. Why don't you look over this brochure, let me know if you have any questions, and then we'll get you set up with this right away. You never know when disaster will strike, Benjo. You need to be prepared.

: I can't believe I'm doing this. Can I write you a check?

: Absolutely. You'll need to put down $89.94 to cover the first six months.

: And who do I make it out to?

: To NASA.

: Wait, but I thought—

: Nat Abramson Sales and Actuary.

(laughing): Oh, that's rich.

: Sure is.

: Well, Mr. Abramson, thank you so much for coming by today.

: Thank you, Benjo. It's been a pleasure talking with you.

Monday, May 11, 2009


by Benjo

Last week, at a Subway restaurant in Tehachapi, California, a cashier turned everything I thought I knew about vegetarianism on its head. My two friends had just paid for their Veggie Delite sandwiches, and I was doing the same. The conversation went as follows:
CASHIER: Three Veggie Delites, huh. Y'all are vegans?
ME: Vegetarians.
CASHIER: Right, vegans. Same thing.
I returned to my table and broke the news to my friends. “Fuck dick-a-shit ass ass ass!” Dan said.

“Dan,” I replied, “what are you talking about?”

“I'm sorry,” he replied, “but you know I curse unintelligibly when I find out I've been wrong about something for years.”

Zeke wiped a tear from his eye. “This is terrible, but how do we know she's not full of tofuloney? I mean, who is she, anyway?”

Dan snarled. “I'll tell you who she is: she's a food service careerwoman. That means it's her job to be a societal knowledge center when it comes to food-related issues.”

“Okay,” Zeke said, “you're right.”

“But not only that,” Dan said. “As a member of the native Tehachapi, she has a sixth sense when it comes to health and environmental issues that you and I can't even understand. They invented veganism long before the white man ever came along and turned it into a yuppie sport.”

“I know, I know,” Zeke said. “It's just that, well, the 'etari' was the most important part of my vegetarianism.”

“Well,” Dan replied, “you're going to have to let the 'etari' go. You're a vegan now.”

I chimed in. “Guys, I just have one problem with this. Isn't it a slippery slope?”

“Oh God,” Dan said. “You and your slippery slopes.”

“No, hear me out. I mean, who's to say the 'etari' is the only thing they strip from our vegetarianism? What's next, the 'eg'? if they got rid of that, we'd be vans.”

“We're not going to be vans,” Dan said. “Vans are already a type of shoes. If they tried to call us vans, it would be copyright infringement.”

“That's what you think,” barked a voice from the next table. We looked over and saw a grizzled truck driver in a flannel shirt and mesh hat. “That's what I used to tell the other caravanseraimobile drivers: 'They'll never call us van drivers—it'll be copyright infringement!'”

“Caravanseraimobile drivers?”

“That's right,” he said. “I used to drive soccer and lacrosse teams around in my caravanseraimobile. During the summer, I drove camp kids to the mountains for the day.”

He sighed. “But then one day, in 1957, I came into a Subway just like this one to get a few six-foot subs for the kids in the caravanseraimobile to share.”

“What happened?” Zeke asked.

“Well,” he said, “the young Tehachapi cashier asked, 'Is this for the kids in the caravanmobile?' I said, 'The kids in the caravanseraimobile.' She said, 'Right, caravanmobile. Same thing.'” He wiped his brow. “I brushed it off, thinking the woman was ignorant. But the next time I came in, they called it a caravan. It was then that I understood what was happening.”

“Wait,” Dan said. “Are you saying that what we call vans, you used to call caravanseraimobiles?”

“Not just me. That was their name. Look at the catalogs—Chevy, 1957, '56, all the way back to when they made their first model in '33, I think it was, to haul groups of homeless to local churches during the heart of the Depression so's they could get fed.”

“So what happened?” I asked.

“Well,” he continued, “as I said, I told all the other caravanseraimobile drivers the Tehachapi'd never take to calling 'em vans—just like you said, it would be copyright infringement. But they did it, and got away with it—it seems the Vans company relies on a dye for their shoes that only grows on the Tehachapi Plains, so they'll let the Tehachapi infringe on whatever they want, so long's they get the dye.”

“Why didn't you keep driving vans?” Zeke asked. Dan elbowed Zeke. “Sorry—caravanseraimobiles.”

“I couldn't do it—the parts that were most important to me were the serai, and the cara, and the mobile. They took those out, and it was like they took out my heart with 'em.”

“Just like 'etari' for me,” Zeke whispered.

“All the truck drivers you see on the road today used to be caravanseraimobile drivers,” the man said. “The Tehachapi stole our identity from all of us.”

“It's just so weird,” Dan said. “We always learn in school about the white man stripping the natives of their property and their identity, but somehow the stories of them stripping us of ours go untold.”

“Some say they did it to get revenge for the centuries of injustice,” he said. “Some say it was the first step toward starting a van empire. I say that doesn't matter. What matters is that they need to be stopped. And you boys are the only ones who can stop them.”

“Us?” I said, stunned.

“They're trying to transform everyone and everything into vans. Vanna White resisted, and so did the guys from Evanescence, but most have succumbed. You must traverse the country, find all those with whose identities the letters V, A, and N are intertwined, and band them together. And start—”

Just then, his speech and our rapt astonishment were cut off by a cry from the cash register.

“Oh, that's right!” the voice said. Its owner, the cashier, walked toward us. “Hey guys,” she said. “Know how I said vegans and vegetarians were the same thing? I muffed up.”

Never had I felt so relieved. The truck driver must have overheard our exchange, written a quick fairytale in his mind, and told it to us to give himself a little bit of fun to relieve the monotony of the road. Or maybe decades of marathon driving sessions had just made him insane. Either way, it was a simple misunderstanding, and the cashier had just misspoken.

Or so I thought.

“I was just talking to Cherise,” the cashier continued, “and she told me it was actually vegetarians and vans that are the same thing.”

Dan, Zeke and I looked at each other, then at the truck driver, then back at each other, then we all ran for the door. And in a sense, we haven't stopped running since we left Tehachapi.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Your Mother

by Benjo

Over the centuries, mothers have silently suffered enormous hardships, their bravery and pain all too often unrecognized or underappreciated. From infant mortality to oppressive paternalistic societies and on and on, the list of offenses is devastatingly long. It can be safely said, however, that no injustice has been as traumatic to mothers as one that has arisen in the last two decades. I'm talking, of course, about Your Mother jokes.

Everybody knows that these jokes are unfunny, but what's more striking is that they are almost always untrue. My mother, for example, is impressively fit, and yet, a young man with whom I went to grade school insisted that people mistook her for a truck in reverse when her pager went off.

An end to this tomfoolery is long overdue. It is time to take back Your Mother jokes, and for this, no occasion is more appropriate than Mother's Day. On that note, I have created a new line of these jokes that highlight some of the positive aspects of our mothers. Create your own, and share them in the comments or just tell them to your friends or your mother. Happy Mother's Day!

Your mother's like the village dentist: she gives everyone a great smile!

Your mother's so great, if you look up “wonderful” in the dictionary, there's a picture of her!

Your mother's so smart, she knows what a quarterback is even though she doesn't watch football!

Your mother's so reasonable that to get on her good side, you need to be honest, genuine, and kind!

Your mother's like a race car driver: she's steady, calm, and she knows how to handle even the hardest turns! In short, she's a champion!

Your mother's so fit that when she went to the doctor, he said, “What are you doing here? You are literally the healthiest patient I've ever seen!”

Your mother looks so good for her age that when she goes to the cosmetics store, they will seriously refuse to sell anything to her because of how good she looks.

Your mother's teeth are so white, a cokehead once tried to snort them!

Your mother's so caring, she helped the cokehead deal with his addiction, and he's doing great now!

Your mom's so faithful that she won't even drink through a straw unless it tastes like your daddy's!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Nothing Sacred?

by Benjo

By now, you've all seen the picture of what, given Michael Phelps's lung capacity, may well have been the biggest bong rip in history.

As an outspoken critic of the war on morality, I was shocked by Phelps's conduct. He'd always struck me as a genuine guy, so it was saddening to learn that he is in fact a fraud. That he won his medals and broke his records not because he was more skilled or more prepared than his competitors, but because he was more stoned. The performance aside, though, I remember when being a role model meant something. I mean, what's next--we find out that Lance Armstrong won all those Tours de France because he was on cigarettes? It begs the question: Is nothing sacred? Is nothing true?

It is my understanding that Phelps was supposed to visit the White House soon. This provides our new president, himself a role model to so many, with an opportunity to send a powerful message to our nation's youth: if you do something so immoral, so stupid, and so destructive as smoking pot, then you will truly never succeed; instead, you will end up a washed up 23-year-old with little chance of ever winning a 15th Olympic gold medal.

We don't need junkies in the White House. Join me in calling for President Obama to disinvite Michael Phelps.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Look, Same Great Uncertainty for Pepsi's Customers

by Benjo

I've been hearing quite a bit from readers recently about the new Pepsi bottle. Here's a picture, for those who haven't seen it:
What's remarkable is not what you see on the bottle, of course, but what you don't see. A representative first-sighting story, from reader Mobius, happened on New Year's Day:
I had this truly epic hangover. So I went to 7-Eleven for a two-liter of Pepsi, as a pick-me-up. I get to the fridge, and there's this swoopy logo that kinda looks like the Obama thing. I'm like, "Okay, fine. New look. Same great taste too though, right?" Wrong. Looked the bottle up and down like a gift horse, looking for that New Look, Same Great Taste logo--nothing. Pretty shitty way to start off a year.
Reader ShirlGirl was also thrown off by Pepsi's new logo, but in a different way:
I don't consider myself very visually inclined. So I didn't even realize there was a new look--those New Look, Same Great Taste logos are usually the only way I know that a logo has changed. I got to the register, and the cashier asked me what I thought of the new look. Well, I nearly had a heart attack!
Another reader contrasted his experience with Doritos' makeover earlier in the decade:
I saw the Nacho Cheesier bag from afar and freaked out! I mean, the new look must mean that the taste is much worse, right? But I looked closer, and there's the logo, telling me that it's the same great taste. Kind of crazy--a completely new look, and yet the taste hasn't changed, not even a bit? That's a pretty unbelievable thing, that they're even able to do that.
These emails, and dozens of others just like them, made it clear to me that, without proper labels, consumers have no way of knowing what they're buying. But just how deep is the problem? I mean, if the logo for a food or drink product changes, do you assume the taste has changed too? For more on this, I contacted Jerry Dinkins, who is a well-respected soft-drink enthusiast. His comment:
If the look changes, it's almost obvious that the taste changes too, unless they explicitly tell you otherwise. I mean, just look at the different forms a Pepsi can take. You got the can; the glass bottle; the big plastic bottle. Do all of them taste alike? Of course not. Everyone knows the glass bottle is the tastiest.
If all this is true, though, how does Pepsi get away with such a blatant lack of transparency with their customers? For some insight, I contacted Pepsi representative Darren Lane. Lane conceded that the absence of a logo leaves the taste of the soft drink a mystery. But he fiercely disputed the notion that this mysteriousness hurts customers.
It's preposterous. People love mystery--Agatha Christie proved that long ago. It's part of the beauty of our product that you don't know exactly what's inside the bottle, and we take great pride in that. Fine, a few people are put off by the lack of Same Great Taste logo, and they don't buy the drink. Well I've got some news for you: the only one that's hurt by those lost sales is us. So let us worry about that. You worry about what your kids are doing. You know? People should be worrying about what their kids are doing.
However, I spoke with societal psychologist Diane Timlin, and she believes that Lane is missing the point.
Flavors and tastes are a fundamental component of the set of stimuli that shape our reality. If you see an unfamiliar-looking Pepsi bottle with no indication of the status of the taste, you question that reality. Now, when you question, you lose touch. And when you lose touch with reality, you lose your identity; you become, for all intents and purposes, insane. Now when you start to think about the sheer number of people who see this new Pepsi bottle, you're talking about insanity on a mass scale. That's just the simple scientific truth.
Consumer-rights advocates have been trumpeting the degradation of civic life that's brought about by incomplete labels for years. Many hope that, with a Democrat in the White House and a strong majority in Congress, their goals will finally be codified in law. Vince Roberts, of Soda Citizen USA, better known as SCUSA, mentioned a bill that has been circulating in Washington for years. The bill, known as the Same Great Taste Act, would require companies to post prominent logos on any product on which the look has changed, informing the customer that the taste is the same.

But Roberts says that ShirlGirl's case proves that reforms need to go farther than just that bill:
If the look hasn't changed, but the taste has, companies need to let you know. If they've both changed, same thing. And if nothing's changed? Well, you need a "Same Look, Same Taste" icon there, too. Because frankly, the customer needs to know.
Stay tuned to see what kind of legislation gets passed. Until then, I'll be sticking with the classic:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Double-President Obama

by Benjo

My earlier decision not to recognize Obama due to the oath-bungling was misguided. Perfect or imperfect, the oath made him President.

Congratulations, President Obama.

Update (5:55 PM): This statement from White House Counsel Greg Craig just came in:
...because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time.
If I'm going to give someone the title President when he takes a flubbed oath, I'd better give him the same title when he takes a nailed one.

Congratulations, Double-President Obama.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Liveblog

by Benjo

11:07 AM: Update: Looks like Roberts was actually the epic flubsmith. Either way, the important point remains: the Constitution has been all but set aside over the last eight years, and I will not stand to see it suffer the same fate for the next four. Therefore, I am not recognizing Obama as my president until they do it over.

9:10 AM: I want to be optimistic, but the first task every president faces is the simplest: say what the Chief Justice just said. And dude failed it miserably.

9:07 AM: NOT!!!!

9:06 AM: I miss Bush already.

9:05 AM: Feinstein: "Everyone please stand." Except Cheney. Heh.

9:04 AM: This inauguration ceremony is proof that there's a fine line between the truly touching and the boring as fuck.

8:59 AM: Marshall: "I think there are some moments for which the only fitting commentary is silence." Dude, the Marxist state you've worked so long to bring about is literally moments away from starting, and you can't think of anything to say about it? What a hack.

8:55 AM: Josh Marshall calls images of Cheney in a wheelchair "iconic." The MSNBC commentators expressed a similar idea--I think their word was "symbolic." But there was a report on Fox News earlier that debunked this notion: it turns out it simply is what it is. Someone needs to communicate this to the liberal media.

8:51 AM: J'ada says "The era of misunderestimation is over." Or is it just beginning?

8:43 AM: Twenty minutes before Obama takes the oath, Kevin Drum blogs about Jeffrey Goldberg blogging about bloggers who blog about minorities that won't soon rise to power in other countries. I keep thinking, at some point, maybe you want to stop doing this third-degree blogging and just absorb this moment. I don't know, is it just me or is Drum being kind of ridiculous?

8:39 AM: Chris Matthews reacts to the look on Barack Obama's face as he emerges from the Capitol building: "He knows they're here for him." Right on, future Senator. Right on.

8:35 AM: The Yglesias liveblog begins. His thoughts on the transfer of power are overshadowed by his decision, on this important day, not to seek the limelight, but instead to capitulate to stereotype: he is blogging from the couch.

8:32 AM: Not to dwell on the Caucus, but it should be noted that they are doing almost as remarkable a job at noting who has arrived as CNN is at showing it. Kudos for the service you are doing, NYT.

8:23 AM: The Caucus posts a picture of the outgoing and incoming first couples. I zoomed in to isolate the new presidential dance move that Michelle seems to be debuting for the Bushes:
8:07 AM: Ambinder speaks. Um, we're inaugurating the first black president, and all you can talk about is security? Stop avoiding the issues, Ambinder.

8:00 AM: Ambinder is speechless: two straight posts with a picture and no words. We can see the images on MSNBC, Ambinder, but none of the channels are broadcasting what's in your head. What's in your head, Ambinder?

Good morning, readers. It is January 20, 2009, and news is literally being made. As soon as other livebloggers start having thoughts about it, I'll give you my reactions to them.