Laura and Chris here, wilin’ away the slow news week with the latest headlines: Sweet Briar lives, potato-shaped lies at Harborfest, trucks, and ladyparts on display. Read on!
image | Sweet Briar College
The Virginia Supreme Court this morning temporarily blocked the planned closure of Sweet Briar College, sending the case back to a lower court for further review. Questions have been raised about just how serious the financial straits were for the college, and a grassroots movement to keep it open was launched among alumnae and friends.
The starch that ignited one of the most significant famines of the modern age is starving us again—this time, of the truth. The “World’s Largest Potato” rolled into Norfolk over the weekend, eager to serve up a piping hot helping of French-fried lies to unsuspecting Harborfest-goers, who weren’t looking at a giant potato, but a 6-ton potato sculpture made of steel, plywood, deception, and a polymerized concrete product. (“IT’S REAL!” a sign claimed rather unambiguously.)
Mega-Tuber was unleashed upon the world in 2012 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission [old party horn noise], and it fooled so many of you assholes was so popular, they’ve kept it going for the last four years! (Also no one knew what to do with a 6-foot potato chained to a flatbed. Rebrand as the World’s Largest Tumor, maybe?)
Channing-Tater has its own website (bigidahopotato.com—what the Midwest lacks in imaginative naming conventions, it makes up for in efficiency) where you can watch videos and read the potato blog, if you like that sort of thing. Many people do.
UPDATE: I scored an exclusive interview with the Dud Spud, which you can read below.
Laura Watkins: You don’t find it at all disingenuous to continuously present yourself as a “real” potato?
LW: Are you at all concerned that you’ve compromised the integrity of all tubers?
LW: Wow. And you’re saying that on record?
Totally under the radar, one of the world’s largest producers of shipping containers and their accompanying chassis, CIMC Intermodal Equipment, has set up shop just down the road in Emporia, perfectly placed to service the port of Hampton Roads. Container traffic at the port has increased almost 20% in less than ten years. During that time, the port has streamlined transfers from ship to outbound truck by changing the way containers move within the yard—a model which is being adopted nationwide. You can read the whole article to find out how, but basically, remember those guys from Season 2 of The Wire? But like, they’re not criminals. Anyway, what’s important about this latest development is that the port of Hampton Roads is going to have much more ready access to needed equipment that will help it continue to grow and compete against other East Coast ports. And good timing too—as America’s economic recovery continues and the dollar remains strong against foreign currencies, the market for imported goods here will continue to swell. In other words, expect more container-laden trains through Ward’s Corner. Might slow you down a little, but it’s good news for everyone otherwise.
As if you needed more of a reason to become a member of WHRO. A new landmark study from researchers at the University of Maryland shows that children who grew up watching Sesame Street are more likely to stay at the appropriate grade level for their age—an effect that is especially prominent among boys, African-Americans, and children from disadvantaged areas.
As one who believes in public broadcasting both on the radio and television, this is incredibly encouraging. Only a tiny portion of the budget for NPR and PBS come directly from government funding, and the rest comes from major philanthropic donors, as well as ordinary members. It’s great to see proof of what I’ve always believed: high-quality, thoughtful programming helps create environments where children and adults can learn about the world around them, instead of just being consumers of the next sponsor’s products.
Finally, on the Swiftbeat, Laura says,
Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh I TOLE Y’ALL. On the heels of rumors that she was writing a Swifty takedown track, Katy Perry has officially registered a song called “1984.” This is either a.) a pointed play on “1989,” the title of Taylor’s latest album, or b.) an Orwellian commentary on repressing all loyalties except those to an authoritarian state. Sick burns ahead either way, Tay Tay.
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.