Archive for June, 2009

Most children know a simple nursery rhyme: if you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back. They sing it to themselves while skipping rope or playing hopscotch, and never give much thought to its true ramifications. For if they did, they might exercise just a bit more caution when hurrying down the sidewalk to get to the ice cream truck. It’s frankly amazing that mothers everywhere aren’t confined to wheelchairs and hospital emergency rooms considering the number of cracks in the world.

This also presents a hidden danger: malicious children can use this form of bad luck to physically assault their parents. If a mother instructs her son to stop playing outside and do his chores, all the child has to do is locate a nearby crack and stamp on it thoroughly. The mother will be permanently crippled, and he will get to play happily for hours until social services comes to take him away. It’s therefore a good idea for parents to fill in any cracks on the sidewalk with spackle until proper moral values can be taught.


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The English language can be tricky to master at times. A lot of the spelling is counterintuitive, and it’s often hard to know when to use a C, or a K, because they both sound the same. Don’t even get started on pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.

Several prominent individuals (including Theodore Roosevelt, of monocle-enthusiast fame) have thus sponsored attempts to have the language altered and made simpler. They believe that words should be spelled like they sound, without any of those pesky modifiers and silent letters that have plagued them since childhood. Under these rules, ‘pharmacist’ would become ‘farmasist’, and ‘knight’ would become ‘nite’, despite the confusion that would bestow upon the world.

Others have sought to replace the Roman alphabet with one that introduces entirely new characters (such as symbols for ‘wh’, ‘ng’, ‘l337’), or does away with whole letters completely. No one uses Q or Z these days, at least no one worth mentioning, so it’d be much better to just get rid of them. That way, all the vital brain space could instead be used for memorizing the names of American Idol contestants.

It all comes down to traditionalism versus ease. Why learn how to properly spell ‘education’ when you can just shift the letters around until it’s so simple that even a caveman can do it?

As you might guess, the primitive spokespeople for Geico are *not* behind this movement.

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Spray-on Hair
You’ve tried wearing a toupee. You’ve combed the few measly hairs that you possess to the side. Nothing ever seems to cover up that shiny bald spot that stands out and the people at work like to rub for good luck. What’s a smarmy bachelor to do?

Try spray-on hair!

That’s right, you can now purchase hair that comes in a convenient aerosol can. You simply shake it a few times, spray as needed (don’t forget the back!), and walk out the front door with the horrible realization that you’ve just covered your head in thick fuzzy goo.

To be fair, it does sort of work. Unless they look carefully, most people won’t be able to tell that you’ve scrubbed your scalp with the equivalent of wooly shoe polish. There comes a point, though, when you need to decide just how much your pride is worth. Bald spots can be covered up, but can you hide your pathetic shame?

The answer of course is yes. Though it usually takes quite a bit of drinking.

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Dubai Car Pile-Up
The day: March 12, 2008

You’ve probably seen some bad car accidents in your day. You might have witnessed a car collide with a lamp post, or even watched a truck flip over several times. It is unlikely that you have ever seen anything as bad as the Dubai car pile-up, however, in which 227 cars and 12 buses all smashed together in what is widely considered to be the worst traffic accident in history.

The source of the accident was quite simple: people were speeding and weather conditions were terrible. One car tried to apply the brakes but couldn’t in time, leading him to smash into the driver ahead, which then rammed into a truck, which sliced into a big rig, which smashed into multiple cars, and so forth, and so on, creating an automotive Rube-Goldberg device that would be a wonder to behold if not for the half mile of flaming wreckage.

Remarkably, only five people were killed, though this was slightly offset by the fact that 347 people were horribly injured. To say nothing of the people who were late for dentist appointments and music lessons because of the horribly apocalyptic scene. All in all, a pretty bad day.

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Bell Bottoms
Bell Bottoms are one of the more horrible fashion styles from the 1970’s. This is also when white jump suits became popular, so as you can imagine, there was some pretty stiff competition. They looked exactly like they sounded – take a perfectly good set of pants, and make them incredibly wide from the knees on down. So wide, in fact, that you can smuggle a baby hippopotamus inside them without anyone being the wiser. This was considered cool by people for some reason (most likely, the large amount of hallucinogens being imbibed at the time.)

One would normally hope that such a hideous fashion would die out, but much like the weeds on your front lawn and Eddie Murphy’s career, they keep coming back. Nowadays, bell bottoms tend to be known as “flare-leg” jeans, mostly because the term is more palatable to the masses. But let’s be frank: other than a little less tightness in the knees, they’re the exact same pants. If you can play Carol of the Bells with your jeans, they’re goddamn bell bottoms, so stop trying to pretend otherwise.

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Most extreme sports are a misnomer. They may involve a skinned knee here or there, or the occasional black eye, but that’s it. They’re really not extreme at all, and are refer to a bunch of snowboarders drinking Mountain Dew while giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the camera.

Not so with the Mayan ball game. This ancient sport was played for thousands of years throughout Mesoamerica, and had great religious significance. The basic objective was to knock a rubber ball into the opponent’s side of the court by hitting it with the abdomen, thighs, or upper arms. Kicking or throwing the ball was not allowed. Gameplay was said to be incredibly violent as well, with players often ramming into each other at top speed in hopes of causing serious injury or death. This was not only allowed, it was actively encouraged by the referees.

Winning the ball game was great. The victors were treated with tremendous respect by the populace, because they had demonstrated they possessed the favor of the gods (Tlacolotl was supposedly a huge fan). The losers, meanwhile, got to have their hearts ripped out in a brutal blood ceremony on top of a stone pyramid. To add insult to injury, the high priests would then use the skull of the captain of the losing team to make the core of a new ball. As you might guess, players of the game were really motivated to give it their all.

There is some evidence that many of the ball games were fixed. War captives were often forced to play against the royal guard, and if it looked like they had a chance to win, a stray spear would be accidentally chucked from the audience into the offending player. FIFA is examining these allegations, and there is expected to be a press statement shortly.

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