Slow news day, you say? Au contraire! Laura Watkins and Chris O’Brien are here to get a little nuts with the headlines, including HRT losing its keys, Colombian cocaine caterpillars, there’s something about [a Great White shark named] Mary, Elian Gonzalez, sexting the Prez, and so much more!
It’s happened to pretty much everybody: you’re on your way out the door, ready for a fun night of skeeball and bingo, and in your excitement, you’ve left your keys inside. You run through the list of people who might have copies of your key and realize they’re all out of town at that convention (you know the one). You know two things: A call to the locksmith is in your future, and you’re not going to win enough tickets at skeeball to finally get that Sega Genesis.
Well the situation HRT (depicted, right) finds itself in is a little tougher. As bureaucratic quasi-governmental organizations tend to do, they’ve entered into an exclusive arrangement with an exclusive (local) vendor, who provides their building locksmith services. As a result, they’re paying several times the estimated normal amount for items like simple door locks. Some HRT board members, like Virginia Beach Councilman and HRT commissioner Michael Wood, believe the cost is too high. His common-sense answer? Do like he does with his business and just buy your locks from Walmart.com.
OK, so it’s a nice punchline, but it ignores some broader problems. First off, you get what you pay for, and an $11 lock from Walmart just isn’t designed to withstand the regular use (not to mention possible abuse) that a $50 professional-grade lock can handle. Secondly, is Wood suggesting that HRT overhaul its procurement policy to allow direct purchase from a large vendor like Walmart (which sells, like, basically everything)? The accounting sounds like a nightmare. And finally, does Wood understand that his governance-by-punchline strategy would undermine a local business for the benefit of an out-of-state company, which is just too big to even care or know that HRT exists?
And finally finally, we all know what happens when access to our transit system isn’t secure.
Hmm, your Taphouse-frequenting ex-boyfriend isn’t going to like this one bit: Colombia is considering letting caterpillars eat alllllllll that premium yayo. Why? Because although the U.S. has traditionally funded the destruction of Colombian cocaine crops with an herbicide called glyphosate, the super narcs at the World Health Organization recently classified the chemical as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” While I imagine the U.S. would be fairly unconcerned over letting this chemical warfare continue—we are a nation whose agricultural economy depends at least 40% on the production of pizza rolls, after all—Colombia is interested in a more natural means of coca plant eradication.
Enter the larvae of the Cocaine Tussock Moth, who love nothing more than a bump of the good shit. The cream-colored larvae eat 1.5 times their body weight in coca leaves when they hatch, tiny squeaks of “I said GODDAMN!” filling the fields. Million dollar idea: Wouldn’t it be cute if someone wrote a children’s picture book about this? It could be called The Extremely Peckish Cocaine Tussock Moth and it would be an instant classic!
Stay out of the water this weekend.
And further news-that-isn’t-news:
So, I guess a police officer went into the IHOP out by Kemps River at 5:30 on Sunday morning. Typically, IHOPs (and other all-night businesses) tend to offer discounts or sometimes free items to police officers. You know, to show appreciation, and also to encourage the cops to frequent their businesses during the graveyard shift. It benefits everyone. I guess in this case, though, the hostess said something dumb (or at least marginal) to the cop, who was offended.
I honestly don’t care about the substance of this thing. Whether the police officer misheard, or the hostess misspoke, whatever. It barely rises to the level of requiring a statement from a corporate spokesman (incidentally, the IHOP corporate spokesman issued a statement, apologizing).
But why is WAVY-10 even covering this kind of non-news? There’s nothing here to investigate. This is low-hanging outrage fruit, and definitely not worth three minutes during the 5:30 newscast. From now on, can you maybe stop getting your tips from angry posts on Facebook, 10 On Your Side? There are plenty of other things you could be investigating (see also: Selden Arcade explosion, Ronny Boone Sr building inspection scandal, basically anything having to do with almost any city council member or city office in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and let’s throw Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton, and Newport News in there too, etc etc etc).
So Elian Gonzalez—you know him as the 6-year-old who was caught in a major pissing contest between Cuba and the U.S. back in 1999—did an interview with ABC, and before I get into specifics here, I just want to want to get this out of the way: Elian got hot. In my ignorance, I suppose I imagined Cuba as a time capsule where nothing aged: the vintage cars, the architecture, the children seized by federal agents in an international custody battle. But no. Elian is 21 now, and he has Adam-Levine-without-the-smarm thing going on. It’s working for him. He’s also engaged, so I’m not the only one who’s noticed.
Moving on. Elian talks about how he’s open to visiting the U.S., because he thinks were pretty alright. “I could personally thank those people who helped us, who were there by our side. Because we’re so grateful for what they did.”
Well. Now we all feel extra shitty about that photo of him at gunpoint, don’t we?
Apparently, when it’s white biker gangs. This whole thing is terrible, but this quote in particular got me, from the NYT: “the worst violence in the Waco area since the siege on the Branch Davidian compound in 1993 that left 86 people dead.”
Nothing to see here, move along.
When the news hit that the first Twitter account run by the first sitting President of the United States of America was live on the World Wide Web, people did what they do best: they made it rale rale nasty. I won’t say what people tweeted President Obama—you can read a few of the screenshots in the link—but I’m just glad James K. Polk isn’t alive to see this filth (now Lyndon Johnson, on the other hand—that’s a President who would slide up in your DMs).
But joke’s on you, America, because under the Presidential Records Act, every single tweet sent to the President’s Twitter account is being made a part of the official White House archives. Y’all nastiness is on record, and there it shall stay until the Robot Revolution of 5967, when nothing will matter but serving our automaton overlords.
THE NEED FOR SPEED. Seriously, Top Gun on Friday was awesome. Next month: Wayne’s World. Party time, excellent!
Continental Resources, a major player in Oklahoma’s fracking oil and gas boom, is not happy that Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), based at the University of Oklahoma, is blaming the state’s 400-fold increase in earthquakes in the last decade on its extraction activities. And, as a major donor to the university, Continental CEO Harold Hamm threatened to move the OGS from the University of Oklahoma, and also demanded that he be allowed sit on the search committee for the new director of the OGS.
Just think about the fact that earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or above have gone from an average of 1.6 per year before 2009 to 585 in 2014 alone. In 2011, a quake of magnitude 5.7 in Prague, OK injured two people and destroyed 14 homes. The science on this is becoming increasingly clear: injection of fracking wastewater deep into geologic fault zones is causing this massive increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma.
But, if you’re a major corporation with massive investments in the fracking fields of that state, your best bet to keep this out of the public eye is to buy yourself a nice little research center at a prestigious university, which is essentially what Continental did. And that worked until 2013, when the OGS could no longer ignore the growing scientific consensus, and joined with the U.S. Geological Survey to further study and evaluate the links between the temblors and fracking. That’s when Continental sprang into action, throwing its weight around, threatening to move the OGS from its home at the University of Oklahoma, demanding to be part of the selection process for its new head, and so on.
It has to be said that none of these things actually happened, to the credit of the University and its governing bodies. In this particular case, emails about it have leaked into public, so we know about this one, but efforts by corporate interests continue to erode and degrade the capabilities of scientific organizations with whom they disagree. Science done right isn’t designed to serve the influence of a particular political or economic program—its purpose is to uncover how nature works, for the betterment of mankind. So you have to ask yourself, what do the people who are threatened by science really want?
And finally on the Swiftybeat, our Tay Tay has a new music video which features all kinds of awesome lady cameos and it is #so #freak #ing #good and yes this is absolutely news because this link is from Time and I don’t want to hear another word about it.
Long ago, a prophesy foretold of two great ones who would alter the course of history with their unmatched witticisms about the world around them. But until they arrive, Chris O’ Brien and Laura Watkins are filling in. Sharing a love of tacos, cats, justice, as well as an overarching ambition to perform history’s greatest karaoke duet of “Lightning Crashes,” and last but not least, a common ancestor in Charlemagne, Chris and Laura excel at beer drinking, trivia, and giving the Price side-eye to the patriarchy. They’re also pretty sure they were orphaned Russian siblings in another life, but that’s a story for another time.