This week, Laura and Chris cover cops killing people and their subsequent questionable FB posts, bike-friendly NASCAR races, how we learned to stop worrying and love GMOs, warp speed, farts, magicians, and physics-defying vomit-inducing “fun” rides at the Oceanfront!
Portsmouth Police Officer Stephen D. Rankin, who shot and killed an 18-year old suspect in custody last week outside the Wal-Mart on Frederick Boulevard, was also at the center of a similar situation in 2011. According to the Pilot, Rankin shot and killed a drunken suspect who charged him with his hands in his pocket. Rankin was cleared of wrongdoing and won a civil trial brought against him by the dead man’s family.
It’s way too early to say that there is anything awry here—aside from the obvious, that another civilian has been killed by a police officer. But, police officers are sometimes required to use deadly force to protect themselves or members of the public, so while the loss of life is tragic, it isn’t necessarily the sign of malicious intent by the police officer involved.
What is interesting about this guy, though, is something buried about halfway down the article. Following the shooting in 2011, Rankin was under investigation again by the Portsmouth PD for postings he had made to Facebook, including one making light of lynching.
Is it OK for Rankin to make jokes about lynchings? Sure, this is America, where even the most reprehensible speech is protected. Is it OK for him to do it on Facebook? I guess so, if he wants his grandma and his elementary school teacher and whoever else to see it. Is it OK for a Portsmouth Police officer to make jokes about lynching in a public place? Yeah, I guess it’s OK, but probably better not to, right? Is it OK for a police officer recently cleared of wrongdoing in a shooting that resulted in the death of a suspect to make light of vigilante justice from the bad old days? Now we’re getting into trickier waters. I guess it’s OK, but… come on.
I guess the bottom line is, a police officer can do everything right and a suspect can still end up being killed– but that has to mean that the police officer is exercising not simply their authority to protect, but their best judgment about how and when to use deadly force. We put a lot of trust in the people we hire to carry guns and police our streets, and the vast majority of them show themselves to be worthy of that trust. But when it comes down to it, shouldn’t we expect someone in this kind of position to exercise the kind of good judgment that would lead them to think, “You know, maybe I won’t share this lynching meme on my wall”?
In the light of the tragedy unfolding in Baltimore right now, our local leaders need to give serious thought to the kind of behavior they are willing to overlook from members of our police forces. While it remains to be seen if this rises to the level, it would be terrible to look back and see warning signs of poor judgment that could have been prevented similar events locally.
Also, Chris says:
Conspiracy Tuesday Watch
Days since Selden Arcade Explosion: 11
Number of Official Explanations for the Cause of the Explosion: 0
You can take the man out of Virginia Beach, but you can’t take Virginia Beach out of the man, whatever, etc. Can someone PLEASE find out the identity of the lone* commenter who posted this unexpected masterwork:
“NASCAR had no choice. He was gonna outrun Danica and Dale Jr.”
*lone as of this writing. Such inspired levels of commentary brilliance unfortunately almost always attract those Johnny-come-lately types.
Chipotle Removes GMOs from All Its Menu Item, And Your Brain Tricks You into Thinking It Actually Matters
This week Chipotle orchestrated a PR coup, by letting us all know that they had removed all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from their menu. Presumably, they mean artificially genetically modified, since nature has been at work genetically modifying organisms since the start (we call that “natural selection”)… but also, humans have been genetically modifying organisms for thousands of years too (which is how we ended up with things like corn, and cows, and so on)… so maybe they mean stuff in a lab? Anyway, it’s off the menu at Chipotle now!
But also, there’s a really interesting study coming out soon in a major scientific journal arguing that the bias against so-called GMOs is based deep in our own minds. Despite strong evidence that these crops are safe (and in many cases, the key to preventing starvation for millions of people), our brains trick us into thinking that they aren’t “natural,” and therefore, are less desirable (or even downright unsafe).
After announcing his departure from the greatest and most musically-appealing-to-people-of-all-ages-including-30-year-old-women-who-are-me boy band of all time, One Direction member Zayn Malik caused such a seismic shift in the universe that Stephan Hawking took a break from talking science-y shit to address it during a recent Q&A event. Hawking noted, “It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”
This also means that it’s theoretically possible that a universe exists where I’m not embarrassed to be a 30-year-old One Direction fan OH WAIT IT’S THIS ONE I LOVE YOU LIAM I WILL WAIT FOR YOU 4-EVAH
And speaking of astrophysics, Chris says:
OK, not exactly, but holy shit, this is pretty exciting. Basically, researchers have shown that laser beams under specific conditions have traveled faster than the speed of light. How does this work? What does it mean? I am too dumb to figure it out, other than to say that it’s time to start building starships RIGHT NOW. The Klingons are out there, and we need to be ready.
With the state of economy today—and don’t get me started on inflation—would you drop hundreds of your hard-earned ca$hmoney dollars on a watch that couldn’t even fart? Apple believes that you, the boorish consumer, would indeed. Having excluded the concisely-named “Fart Watch” app from their store, Apple has ripped a hole in the very fabric of America, and the aftershock can be felt throughout the country.
“You have no idea how many extra shifts I had to work at the froyo shop just to be able to afford the cheapest Apple watch,” said rising high school junior Cody Gregory, who sat down with me for an interview after being hit with the news. “But I kept reminding myself it would all be worth it when I opened my Fart Watch app for the first time. I imagined letting one rip during an Honors Chem test, or lifting my leg and pretending to fire off machine-gun flatulence to entertain my friends at lunch. Then that hot senior Jessica would finally notice me.”
Fighting back tears, Gregory continued, “You can imagine how disappointed I was when I found out Apple was banning all fart apps. What does Apple expect us to do? Fart manually? On command? It takes years to develop that skill, and I’ll be graduated from college by then. I thought technology was supposed to make our lives easier—not limit our accessibility.”
Equally disappointed is Mark Newsome, vice president of tech startup BrowserMuffin, who shelled out for one of Apple’s limit-edition 18-karat yellow gold watch models. “People called me opulent for buying a $17,000 watch, but to me, it wasn’t just a watch—it was a $17,000 wristband that would make fart noises. Now that Apple is banning fart apps, I don’t even know what I’ll do with it. Give it to my toddler to play with, I guess.”
Tell Apple that fart apps are a right, not a privilege. Click here to sign the petition.
I’m going to say it every week: Come see these movies. This week’s show, on Wednesday night at 7:15 as usual, is An Honest Liar, the story of “The Amazing” Randi, a world-famous magician who is equally well-known for his work in the service of skepticism and debunking con artists. Though I haven’t seen it, the reviews hint at a third-act twist that is really something to see. The post-show discussion will be led by Rob Wescott (award-wining professional magician) and Nathan Miller (contributor to Doubtful News and a practicing civil engineer). If you’ve been sitting out some of the heavier subject docs the Naro has been showing in recent weeks, this is your movie.
Hoping to dethrone Peabody’s as Virginia Beach’s most terrifying attraction, Motorworld has installed the Skyflyer, a ride that raises you eyeball-to-eyeball with a vengeful God (eye level of God=approx. 100 ft.), and spins you around like a big ol’ middle finger to physics (I initially typed that as “psychics” by mistake, but supposing a medium ever incorrectly predicted your demise by extreme swing, let the record show this scenario would be equally applicable).
One of the reasons I chose this story (aside from it lending itself nicely to a totally sick Peabody’s diss) is because nearly all of the article/Facebook comments are related to hypothetical scenarios of people vomiting off the swings, with the notable exception of one prosthetic leg joke. This is why I love you, Hampton Roads. Promise me you’ll never change.
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.