By: Trey Smith
I will not be voting for President Obama in 2012. I’m not saying I’ll vote for his opponent, I’m not even saying my problem with him has anything to do with his politics. But the fact of the matter is that he killed my car and in doing so illustrated everything wrong with Liberalism.
I took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers deal and traded my 1993 Isuzu Rodeo, which got 17 miles to the gallon, but was the greatest car ever, for a soulless 2009 Honda Civic that gets 29 miles per gallon. Just looking at those MPGs you’d think that my experience with the Cash for Clunkers program is evidence of its wild success, but that sort of superficial thinking is why Liberals are insufferably inept.
While I traded in for a car that gets 12 miles per gallon better than my old one, most people just traded in their old gas-guzzlers for newer, slightly less gas guzzling ones. At one dealership when I asked about the Cash for Clunkers deal the salesman looked and me, threw up his hands and said, “Well I hope you’re not looking to trade in for a truck cause we sold all of those.” Not only had they sold all their trucks but the demand for them was so high that this guy automatically assumed that I wanted to trade in for a truck. So all this program did was allow white middle and upper class people to trade in their old Explorer/F-150/Grand Cherokee for a new one that has to conform to slightly more stringent emission guidelines and gets marginally better gas mileage. Rather than getting people to see the error of their ways back when they bought unnecessarily large SUVs, all Cash for Clunkers did was allow people to get newer unnecessarily large SUVs. Therefore the environmental impact of this allegedly successful program is going to be entirely insignificant. More importantly, it failed to affect people’s mindset in terms of making them more environmentally conscious. Thus, the original problem, people’s environmental ignorance, persists. Nothing is different, just newer.
This perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with Liberalism. To them, change is good, period. It doesn’t matter if the change has the desired effect or if the change was even implemented toward a desirable effect to begin with, just as long as what was old got thrown out for something, anything, new. President Obama campaigned on “Change we can believe in” but the reality is that he and his likeminded supporters just believe in change itself. What are they going to change things to? Once that’s decided upon, how are they going to accomplish that change? And once they’ve figured that out, how are they going to measure whether or not their attempted policy changes are working? Liberals have no idea how to answer these questions. They simply put their faith in change. ‘If it sucks now, we’ll change it. If it still sucks, we’ll change it again.’ These people are like iTunes; constantly asking me to upgrade to the new software without addressing the real issue…why do I have to use iTunes when Napster was vastly superior and free?! (Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica, is a Nazi who hates freedom)
If the President and his Liberal colleagues had actually concerned themselves with something beyond change for the sake of change, they would have looked at the Cash for Clunkers program and realized that they weren’t actually achieving anything. Obviously people want to take advantage of this deal, so why not make it so that you can only get the $4,500 if you buy a car that gets over 25MPGs? Why not give extra money to people who buy American cars? Why not give extra money to lower income families? Why not design the program to actually change the way people think about their environmental footprint and how fuel efficiency ultimately saves you money? Why not challenge people to be better?
This is the fingerprint of Liberals; they have a grandiose idea that they ultimately fail to organize in a way that produces a substantial, positive result. Then, they all pat each other on the back because at least they tried to do something. It’s the AYSO soccer approach to politics; as long as you tried your best you’re a winner.
Conversely, Republicans, who enjoy great success in the South, are traditionalists who never want to do anything. They’re the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ party, which is why they are so over the top patriotic; you have to believe that America is great and perfect because if it had a problem you’d have to do something about it. The problem with this Conservative approach isn’t that it’s stupid, it’s that it’s so haphazardly stupid that it actually almost makes the Liberals’ attitude of change for the sake of change seem viable.
Like a good Southerner I fear change. However, I’m also not an idiot and my Rodeo was worth $200 (that is not a typo, it really was worth only $200) so rationally I had to take advantage of a deal that gave me $4,500 for it. It’s this measured approach to life that makes me a political atheist, because anyone who approaches life with even a hint of rational intelligence can’t be accurately represented in our government by either the ‘do nothing’ party or the ‘do something just to say you tried’ party.
Trey misses his Rodeo and can be consoled at email@example.com.
By: Brad Wright
10) Bill Murray’s Refusal to Make Ghostbusters 3
9) Their Request to Sing “Twist and Shout” in the Streets Was Denied
8) The Billy Goat Told Them To
7) They Still Haven’t Forgiven the Band Chicago for “You’re the Inspiration”
6) They Were Afraid of How Cubs Fans Would React to Hearing “Chicago Wins!”
5) Obama Couldn’t Authenticate his Residency
4) The El Train is Much Less Attractive Than a Topless Conga Line
3) Chicago Was About to be Named Host City but Bartman Interfered
2) Oprah Refused to Give Them All BRAND NEW CARS!!
1) Rod Blagojevich is Still on the Loose
By: Betsy Neely
I’m not the sort of person who spends a lot of time watching television…more of a Netflix kind of girl, so I often find that I miss out on a lot of news, scandal and other exciting events. It’s Wednesday night, and it’s been one of those days at work. Exhausted, not quite finished with my project, I decide to take a break and catch a little YouTube. I stumble across a video and begin watching the footage of David Letterman’s now infamous confession monologue – nearly a week after the fact.
I come into the conversation a little late, and certainly a little biased, having already been privy to several discussions of the event. In fact on Friday night, while hanging out with a few friends over more than a few cans of PBR, I participated in a heated discussion during which Letterman was compared to political figures such as Bill Clinton and John Edwards. Of course, I balked. Letterman is no politician. He’s a comedian. And he has never put himself in a position to be the gauge for anyone’s moral compass. His entire persona is based on a personality of irreverence, and whether I agree with his behavior or not, I think it more than a little ludicrous to expect that any human, especially one with celebrity, will live a life free of missteps. While I am not condoning his behavior, I am also not at all surprised by it, and frankly do not feel it my place to pass judgment. Letterman’s sexual conduct is between his wife, his partners, himself and God – not me.
As I watch this video, a couple things strike me – Dave is earnest. For whatever reason, whether he is being forced by his legal counsel or simply wants to be the one to break the news to the world before the media gets a hold of it, David Letterman is honestly confessing some pretty major indiscretions. That’s not an easy thing to do. Having taken part in my fair share of indiscretion myself (don’t ask…until I have my own talk show, I’ll simply never tell), I have to feel for the guy. Nothing like having your deepest shame made public…nothing like having to fess up under a spotlight. I respect that he sat on camera and told the truth, and I honestly don’t think he owed that confession to any of us.
My biggest issue with the event is not the confession itself, but with the reaction of Letterman’s studio audience. Granted, Letterman doesn’t exactly deliver his confession without humor…how could he? He’s the perpetual funnyman. But even in his attempts to address a very serious situation, the audience simply could not accept the gravity of the situation. Laughter, hearty laughter, rang throughout his monologue. I counted what must have been twenty seconds of applause from the audience when Letterman spoke the words, “I had sex with women from the show.” I wonder, did they think he was joking around? Were they congratulating him on scoring big with the network ladies? Or was this the audience’s way of dealing with what must have been a very uncomfortable situation? They literally laughed it off.
Letterman, the comedic genius and television icon has lost no respect in my eyes. In fact, he may have gained some – not for his sexual misconduct, but for his dignity in the eyes of a firestorm. And for his willingness to get back on the horse (pun intended) and do what he is best known for…making us laugh.
Betsy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org except between the hours of nine and midnight when she will be having sex with David Letterman.
By: Michael Orr
For most of my life, and certainly all of my adult life, I have been supporting teams that do not win. Sure they win games, but they almost always lose in the biggest spots and against their biggest rivals. I’ve been to dozens of sporting events and watched hundreds, perhaps thousands more on tv. But no matter how hard I root for my teams, they never quite pull it out.
I know that my plight is not the worst out there. Chicago Cubs fans would argue up one side and down the next that they are the loneliest losers in all sports. And yes, they’ve been losing, with several very close calls, for the past 101 years. But then again I don’t know anyone who is 110 years old so no one can really complain that much about it, in my opinion.
To plead my case, here are some examples over the past twenty years of my sports consciousness, culminating in a particularly heart-wrenching experience just this past Sunday:
At the very beginning of my awareness of sports, I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia as a child of two UVA graduates. In 1990 the Wahoos were a fantastic team led by Shawn Moore and future NFL stars Terry Kirby, Chris Slade and Herman Moore. Virginia reached the no. 1 ranking in college football by mid-season, by far their best ever ranking. But after just one week at that lofty peak, the Hoos had their field burned by Georgia Tech students and then fell in the actual game to the Yellow Jackets, propelling Tech on to a national championship.
I lucked into my one sports title when in 1991 my family moved to Northern Virginia and we started to support the Washington Redskins. Washington went 14-2 that year and won the Super Bowl in January 1992 against Buffalo. But since that magical season the Redskins have been largely awful. The 90’s were a disaster under coaches like Richie Pettibone and Norv Turner and the aughts haven’t been much better with coaching and quarterback carousels spinning out of control.
In 1992 and 1993 I was as big a supporter of Michigan’s fabled Fab Five recruiting class as anyone outside the state of Michigan. I collected newspaper clippings, watched every game that was on national television and more or less obsessed over UM’s every game. But in both ’92 and ’93, the maize and blue crashed landed in the national championship game, first to Duke (by twenty points) and then to North Carolina. I nearly cried when Chris Webber called his now infamous timeout.
By the mid-90s my favorite baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, had emerged from the doldrums that were the 1980s (and really ‘70s and ‘60s too) and become a powerhouse. With Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome leading the way, the Tribe twice reached the World Series. In 1995 the Indians gave Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Braves their only championship and in 1997, Jose Mesa choked away game 7 against the store-bought Florida Marlins.
I started college in the fall of 2001, just in time for one of the high periods in Furman University’s vaunted football program. My first year in Greenville our team was amazingly good, led by 2000 Walter Payton Award (1-AA Heisman) winner Louis Ivory. There was a famous victory at Georgia Southern in the national semi-finals and my dad and I drove from our home in North Carolina to Chattanooga, Tennessee to see my Paladins play Montana for the national title. We were treated to a real beat down with Furman losing 13-6 in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate.
My senior year Furman was again one of the top teams in the country in football and we had home field advantage throughout the national playoffs. After destroying Jacksonville State the weekend of Thanksgiving Furman hosted James Madison University, where my brother, cousin and grandmother went to school. There was a massive crowd with a spot in the national semi-finals on the line. But Furman choked the game away under new quarterback Ingle Martin, a transfer from Florida. JMU scored on a fourth down in the game’s final minute to steal our season and my last hope for a national title while in college. Adding to the woes, JMU ended up beating Montana in Chattanooga that year for that title, something my brother has certainly not forgotten to remind me.
Yet the very next season, Furman was again among the top teams in the land. Ingle Martin was in his final season in Greenville and Furman was as good as anyone in the country. But unfortunately the Paladins ran up against what was the beginning of a dynasty in Appalachian State, in the national semi-finals. I’d been to Richmond to see the Paladins knock off the Spiders in the previous round and was all ready to make my plans to head back to Chattanooga, if we could only beat App. I had ten fellow alums over to my DC-area apartment and watched our Paladins on a 70-inch tv. But on a frozen field and with just moments left, Martin pulled off a perfect naked bootleg and was headed into the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown when his feet slipped out from under him and he crashed to the turf, turning the ball over to the hated Mountaineers.
All of this leads me to this past Sunday and my visit to PGE Park to watch the hometown Portland Timbers battle the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second leg of the USL semi-finals. The Timbers won the regular season title in the USL’s top division while Vancouver finished seventh. The Whitecaps had won 2-1 in the first leg in rainy Vancouver so the Timbers would have to win by at least one, just to reach overtime. And there it was, 2-1 at half-time in favor of our Timbers thanks to two Brian Farber goals. With five friends along side we cheered, chanted, sang and clapped along with the famous Timbers Army, urging our boys to victory. But then it happened again, our visions of celebrating a championship were interrupted by two Vancouver goals in the second half, putting back into an aggregate deficit. Portland did score a goal late to bring the score of the game to 3-3 and the aggregate to 4-5 but it was not enough and the season ended right before our eyes.
These types of events, especially when seen in person, are what make true sports fans. But it certainly does not make any of it easier to take, particularly immediately afterwards. I’m proud to support my teams (Indians, Redskins, UVA, Timbers) even if there is little chance of them actually enjoying the success that I would love to claim as my own. But damn it’s hard sometimes.
Michael also once made it to the state quarterfinals as a high school football player, only to lose 34-0. Commiserations can be sent to email@example.com.
By: Trey Smith
I was born in 1981, which was apparently 7 years too early. I have no idea who Vanessa Hudgens is or what High School Musical is beyond knowing that it’s a movie I will never watch so long as I retain free will. Despite all that, I have seen Ms. Hudgens, who allegedly stars in High School Musical, completely naked. Were it not for the naked pictures she’d taken of herself using only the reflective property of a mirror, a camera phone and gumption, her name would be completely meaningless to me. Now, my Pavlovian response to hearing her name is, ‘Oh yeah, that Disney chick who is naked on the internet.’ This possibly makes me a pervert since she’s younger than two of my three sisters, but the subject of this article isn’t my own sexual foibles or Ms. Hudgen’s public embarrassment. Rather, the point I think Vanessa Hudgens gives rise to is this: how come no one sends me naked pictures on my phone?
Seriously, in 28 years of life no girl has ever texted me a naked picture. This practice is supposedly known as “sexting” and according to a 2009 survey of 1200 teens conducted by a Burlington, Vermont television station, WCAX (the Harvard of local media outlets), one in five of the nubile youngsters had sent a sexually explicit self photo to someone via cell phone. You might be thinking, ‘well don’t be too jealous of this development in youth culture because, after all, according to the survey 80% of kids don’t participate in sexting and are therefore missing out just like you were when you were in high school.’ You might think this, but you’d be wrong.
Let’s face it, if a teenage boy gets a naked picture texted to him the second thing he’s going to do, after masturbating of course, is show his friends. Therefore, even if you aren’t the Zack Efron of your school and aren’t receiving naked texts, the Zack Efron of your school will at least show you the pictures he gets. So instead of sitting at a lunch table in the school cafeteria quoting Seinfeld, like my friends and I did, the youths of today are passing around phones loaded with erotic photos of chicks at their school. I had to daydream during math class about what my weekly crush would look like sans the cheerleader outfit, to these jackasses that’s old news cause they’ve already seen it. What a bunch of spoiled brats!
This is why I’m generally wary of technological advancements. It’s not the technology that scares me, it’s the fact that no matter what the technology is, it is dependent upon the humans that use it. You can ‘advance’ technology as much as you want, but if humanity doesn’t also advance, morally, intellectually and spiritually, then the technology will simply reflect human shortcomings. The internet has its origins in 1958 when the military wanted to condense massive amounts of information into a network that could be accessed countrywide. Today, 51 years later, the internet has had the greatest effect on fantasy sports and porn (or as I call them, my two reasons to live). Maybe people in the military or at high power jobs use the internet exclusively for its information technology and communication capabilities, but the rest of us look at porn, do an excessive amount of research trying to figure out which wide receiver to target in our fantasy football draft, divide ourselves into Facebook clicks, or just generally dick around in cyber reality so as to avoid actual reality.
The fact is that our technological advancements, which have given rise to the so-called Communication Age, have actually made interpersonal communication worse; which gets back to my original point about Vanessa Hudgens.
When I was 16 I bought a car and my parents forced me to have one of those gigantic bag phones permanently mounted in the middle consol. That bag phone probably gave me and my junior high school friends cancer, but we ignored its possibly tumor causing radiation because it afforded us the opportunity to call girls to come hang out with us as we pointlessly drove around town. And that’s really all we did. We drove around with the girls we liked. But I think this developed character. We had to cultivate personalities and communication skills and as a result I am now an interesting person who can talk to equally interesting women. These kids nowadays, with their sexting, have reduced language to bullshit like “gr8” and “2morrow” and everything else. Moreover, they’ve reduced male and female interaction to two-dimensional 140-character blurbs. It’s intellectually lazy and sexually pathetic. Without having to work for female interaction of substance, what are these kids going to be when they grow up? Are they just going to be at bar dropping lines on the lady patrons to the effect of, “show me ur boobs & I’ll luv u 4ever”? Or are they going to overdose on sexualization? I mean no one wants to date a porn star because once you’ve seen all that they have to offer the mystique is gone; you know everything and knowing everything makes it pointless. When it comes to men and women, information is overrated. In essence, the information age is inherently at odds with male and female relationships, or at least male and female relationships of any interest.
In my consciousness, Vanessa Hudgens went from being someone I didn’t know about to someone I don’t care about. If we’d met on the street I would’ve been more apt to talk to her if I didn’t know anything about her whereas now, having seen her naked, I have absolutely no inclination to speak to her. Being unknown at least makes someone interesting in the sense that you might like to get to know them. Since I’ve seen her naked, Ms. Hudgens went from being unknown to being known for just one thing, a thing that makes her nothing more than a sexual image on a web browser.
So maybe it’s best that no one “sexted” while I was young because having to put in a great deal of effort to see women naked made me, and my generation, appreciate it more. Technology has the effect of eliminating appreciation in favor of immediacy. Out of our natural survival instinct, humanity has a tendency to do what’s easiest. While this character trait allowed early man to prosper, as technology ‘simplifies’ life it has the effect of stripping away all the evolutionary advancements of modern man. The evolution of technology leads to the devolution of people.
Maybe this makes me sound like the Unabomber, but maybe the Unabomber wouldn’t have gone so far ‘off the grid’ if every once and while he got a naked picture text messaged to him. So it’s your move Vanessa Hudgins, the clock (and possibly people’s mail) is ticking.
Send your NSFW pictures to Trey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Brad Wright
Author’s Note: For those of you who are unaware, last month I completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. The AT is the most celebrated and well-known footpath in America. It stretches 2,178 miles from Georgia to Maine and took me five and half months to complete.
I think it’s fair to say that the society in which we live contains a great deal of xenophobia. When we encounter someone we don’t know our first instinct is a guarded suspicion. Unlike ancient cultures, where a stranger was to be well received and honored as a guest, our culture seems to vilify the stranger. While I fully understand this attitude, in my travels on the Appalachian Trail I was able to experience a culture where suspicion and mistrust were hardly to be found. It was a wonderful world of strong and quickly developing friendships and a pure benevolence I didn’t even know existed. During my great adventure I became both enamored with, and dependent on, the kindness of strangers.
To say that I was dependent upon the kindness of strangers is an understatement. As you can imagine, hiking through the woods for almost six months can be a lonely endeavor. For a person like myself, someone who appreciates solitude but also enjoys the company of others, the good nature of my fellow hikers was beyond crucial. It’s hard for me to describe the exhilaration of getting into camp at the end of a long day and being confronted by unfamiliar faces, only to experience an immediate camaraderie with everyone there. Almost without exception, hikers of the AT are absolutely wonderful people. They are caring and generous, almost to a fault. On the trail no one is a stranger for long, and after just a few moments of commiseration after a hard day an incredible bond is formed. Even after just a brief conversation I could tell that these were people whom I could trust. On several occasions when I doubted my ability to go on all it took was a kind word of encouragement, often from someone I had just met and would never see again, that kept me going.
Despite the unassailable character of my fellow hikers, what truly left me awestruck was the kindness and generosity of the non-hikers who do what they can to help us reach our goal. In the parlance of the AT, these people are called Trail Angels. Their assistance can be as simple as giving a hiker a ride into town or as magnanimous as opening up their homes. Sometimes they are former hikers themselves, but more often they were simply incredibly generous people motivated by admiration for our undertaking, or simply pure, unadulterated goodness. My experiences with this kindness, or Trail Magic as hikers call it, were numerous. I don’t have the space to describe them all but I would like to share a few.
I was just north of Sam’s Gap in North Carolina. I had been on the trail just over a month and I had already walked through four-foot snowdrifts and more rain than I care to remember. It was a typically wet day and I was getting tired of eating trail mix. I stopped in a shelter with a fellow hiker for a snack and a married couple came in from the south. They were thru hikers from two years prior who had decided to take a day hike, despite the miserable weather. They proceeded to give us both cold sodas and cooked us bratwursts. It was by far one of the best meals I had on the Trail.
I was in Front Royal, VA trying to hitch the seven miles back to the trailhead. Soon enough a little pickup pulled over and I got in without a word. When we got to the trail the man driving got out and asked if he could say a prayer for me. Though I’m not remotely religious I agreed and was remarkably touched by the sincerity of his call for blessing. He prayed for safety in my travels and as a side note asked God to make sure I got enough to eat, at which point I chuckled inwardly. That very night two guys hiked in fried chicken and beer for everyone in the shelter.
Perhaps the most outstanding act of generosity of I was lucky enough to be a part of was in Unionville, NY. At this point I had walked over 1200 miles and had been on the Trail for three and a half months. I could feel that I was getting shin splints and was terrified that I would have to take an extended amount of time off the trail, which would likely have ended my hike. Fortunately for me I happened upon Dick Ludwick, the man simply known as “The Mayor.” He is, in fact, formerly the mayor of Unionville, but now he opens up his home to anyone trying to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail. He is motivated only by an admiration for what thru hikers are trying to accomplish, and feels that his role is to do whatever he can to help us reach our goal. He let me stay at his house for four days so I could rest my leg, provided every hiker with breakfast and dinner everyday, and asked for absolutely nothing in return.
You might find it odd, as I did, that I would experience the absolute best of humanity while soul searching in the isolation of the woods. I find it hard to explain exactly how it feels to experience such unadulterated generosity. To be privy to acts of benevolence with no ulterior motivation is something I will always look back on with awe and wonder. And while I was the one who had to take all the steps I know that without the kindness of strangers, spurred on by simple human decency, I would never have reached my goal.
Brad has only been home for a month and already wants to be back on the trail, send him some trail magic at email@example.com.
By: Michael Orr
It is no easy feat to drive from Columbia, South Carolina to Portland, Oregon. What ease there might be is reduced greatly by driving a U-haul truck and towing a sedan across fourteen states and three thousand miles. Yet that is what we did in mid-May. Your faithful editor and wife loaded everything we own, got in the truck and arrived in Portland five days later.
Having had time to reflect on our adventure, it can be said with great confidence that America is much more of an experience when driving through it instead of flying over it. It is true that airports are some of the more fascinating places to observe people and admire decorations that reflect regional clichés. But a drive through the heart of the country, from one coast to the other, offers an appreciation for the size, variety and oddity of this country.
Our route sent us through southern states, midwestern states, plains states, mountainous states and western states. Each region was slightly different from the former and began to prepare us for the next. We struggled up steep passes and crossed two continental divides. Dozens of rivers, including the mighty Mississippi and the massive Missouri, flowed swiftly below the bridges as we crossed. Horses, sheep, llamas, pheasants, deer and even a six-legged cow were nice breaks from the monotony of hours in the truck.
Ultimately though, the most interesting part of our drive was our interaction with locals wherever we stopped. From a kind, old woman in a restaurant-casino combo in the southeastern tip of South Dakota to a flustered teenaged gas-attendant at a full-service station in Oregon, the personalities of local America were fully evident.
This was a trip that in many ways should have been explored over the course of several weeks. National Parks, historic sites, wonderful restaurants and many other points of interest were noted as we zoomed by, headed as far down the road as we could make it each day. Perhaps we’ll eventually get around to seeing all that we missed, or maybe we won’t. Either way, it was easily the best way to move, seeing it change one mile at a time.
Michael couldn’t be happier living in the Pacific Northwest, and in Portland specifically. If you’re ever in town, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.