Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Am An Addict.

by Edward J. Albenstein

I can't believe I'm confessing such a thing in public like this, but frankly, it beats going to one of those awful meetings.

I've been warned since I was a kid about how I had to stay away from this stuff. I barely knew my grandpa, and it wasn't until I was an adult that my parents revealed to me that he was a raging workaholic. And Uncle Ted—it's been fifteen years now since we lost him to chocoholism.

But for some reason, I never thought this would be my fate. But then, I never thought I'd ever open a Facebook account.

I mean, sure, I tried Friendster in college, but who didn't? I figured I'd give Facebook a try, just to see what the hype was about. And that first time, it didn't seem so bad. I liked a status, maybe wished someone a happy birthday.

But they say you're hooked from the first time you use it, and they're right. At first, I'd only log on in social situations, but before long, I was going to work in the morning with Facebook in my system. At night, I'd tell my wife I was going to get wasted with the guys and go to the strip club—maybe urinate publicly if the mood was right. But in reality, I was in an alley with my laptop, commenting on photos of my third-grade teacher's grandson Todd in one tab while I played Scrabble in another tab—also with Todd.

Nowadays, I've forgotten how to interact with the real world. I don't laugh anymore. Instead, I have this plastic “Like” button that I made, and whenever someone says something funny, I just press the button.

But this afternoon, something happened. I was on my phone, watching a video about human anatomy—which my college roommate's cousin Ernie posted to his feed. In the video, they dissected the liver of a lifelong Facebook user, and the entire thing was Facebook blue. It burned my eyes to look at it. So I turned on the computer and opened a browser—and, though my fingers fought me, I resisted the urge to type Facebook's URL. Instead, I came here.

I'm Edward, and I'm a facebookaholic.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Congress Repeals “Don't Ask,” Ending 17-Year Ban On Nosiness In Military

Members of the United States Armed Forces will no longer have to hide their inquisitive orientations. President Obama signed a law Wednesday that will reverse the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, which for 17 years has prevented nosy men and women from openly asking their colleagues if they are gay.

“No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be forced to keep their questions to themselves,” Obama said at the signing ceremony. “For too long we have denied the bravery and patriotism of some of our most extraordinary servicemembers because they happen to be nosy.”

Though many have focused on the “Don't Tell” portion of the existing policy, which prevents homosexual men and women from serving openly, most people agree that the “Don't Ask” portion has been a far more significant impediment to civil liberties. “Only one in ten servicemen and women are gay,” said Sgt. Lou Falchi. “But everyone is curious about who's gay.”

Nosiness-rights advocates applauded the measure. “My intrusiveness is who I am,” said Alice Stark. Paul Dickens, her nosy partner of 15 years, agreed. “Sure, we may not be able to procreate—no one would submit their reproductive organs to someone as relentlessly, flamboyantly prodding as Alice. But it doesn't mean she loves her country any less.”

Donald Fairfax, who is serving his third tour in Afghanistan, said, “We got to see the new Coen brothers flick, and when it's over a private in my division goes, 'Matt Damon is very handsome.' I wanted to be like, 'Dude, are you gay?' But if I'd said it, I'd be discharged. If you ask me,” Fairfax said, “the military's going to be stronger now that I can openly question that dude's sexuality.”

Emboldened by their victory, Stark, Fairfax, and other NIBTQ (nosy-inquisitive-bi-interrogative-tampering-questioning) citizens plan to focus on their ultimate goal: nosy marriage.

But critics of the repeal, led by Senator John McCain, worry that its passage will lower morale in the military. McCain issued a statement following the bill's passage that said, “Who's going to want to take a shower with another officer, when you constantly have to look over your shoulder to see if he's looking at you like he's going to ask you a question?”

Despite McCain's opposition, eight Republican Senators joined the 57 members of the Democratic caucus to vote for repeal, effectively putting to rest categorizations of the GOP as unanimously interrophobic.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NY Tree Branch Death: Act Of Mother Nature Or Act Of Terror?

by Benjo

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Elmaz Qyra, the Brooklyn resident who was tragically killed in Central Park on Wednesday by a tree branch that collapsed under the weight of several inches of snow.

But while we mourn Qyra's death, we must not ignore a question that media reports of the incident have to this point ignored: was it really the snow that was to blame--or was it the tree?

Since this blog reported last fall on a suicide attack perpetrated by a Massachusetts oak, the punditry class has been atwitter with the many thorny issues surrounding arboreal terrorism: whether the judicial system should handle terrorist trees or whether they should be tried in military court; whether species profiling at airports and on streets is appropriate, or whether trees should be assumed to be as peaceful as any other organism, and so on.

Nonetheless, a branch from what the Parks Commissioner called "a healthy tree" kills an innocent civilian, and no one questions the tree's innocence? All this points to the insidious genius of the tree's ploy: by waiting for the biggest snowstorm of the year to kill someone, the tree ensured that people's attention would be diverted toward the weather, and away from its pernicious self.

Let's look at the facts. A recent study by the US Department of Agriculture indicated that 94 percent of tree-related deaths in the last two decades have occurred within two days of extreme natural events--lightning storms, snowstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and so on. In the face of these data, the evidence could not be clearer that trees have systematically timed their attacks to shift the blame to the weather, leaving their own innocence uncontested so that they can continue perpetrating these attacks without arousing suspicion.

It is imperative that we bring this era of blind trust to an end. Whether the trees' campaign is labeled terrorism or species warfare, one simple point cannot be denied: the risk of an arboreal 9/11 is greater than ever. While hundreds of thousands of troops are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, we must not neglect the threat that we face at home.