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Archive for January 2014

Report: Better You Not Know

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imagesWashington, DC, January 30 – A review of available data has concluded that under the circumstances, it would be better that you not ask.

Scientists analyzing the information for the Department of the Interior surveyed the results of the inquiry and determined that don’t even go there. They further stated that continued pursuit of the inquiries would result in an undesirable state of Too Much Information. The researchers would have published their results in a scientific journal, but it’s none of your goddamn business, come to think of it.

The team of researchers came to the clear conclusion based on a thorough second look at the data, which all pointed to the fact that they could tell you, but then they would have to kill you. In fact, they insisted, the most convincing interpretation of the data is, well, frankly, they would rather not talk about it.

“It’s basically unequivocal, and I’m not entirely certain how we missed it in earlier studies,” said lead author Sy Lentz. “I could say more, but, well, I think everyone’s better off if I don’t.” He added that he’d already said too much, and that he was sorry he even mentioned it.

Other experts confirmed the analysis. “Really, discretion is the better part of valor here,” said Ignatz Izbliss, who was not involved in the study, and is grateful for that fact. “Please, change the subject.”

The study strengthens the sense derived from previous research that, no, we can’t tell you, because you can’t then un-know it. Those studies, in turn, grew out of data pointing to the notion that let’s pretend you didn’t ask that.

Written by Thag

January 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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Report: You’ll Never Make It As A Writer

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suicideNew York, January 29 – An analysis of the data available to date indicates that you have no hope of earning a living as a writer, let alone breaking into the big-time.

A new study that interpreted the information on the writing field, your talent, available opportunities for exposure, and competition from established or moneyed entities led the researchers to conclude that not only will your efforts to establish a career  as a blogger fail, they will do so in such a fashion you will be continually confronted with doubts regarding your worth and identity. You might be able to console yourself with the notion that at least the fruits of your creative impulses have been preserved for posterity, but that will prove cold comfort in the face of the overwhelming futility of your writing enterprise and the long odds of future generations caring at all.

Although the researchers recommend that you immediately cease pouring such time and energy into a fruitless pursuit, they also found that you would not heed such advice, and would proceed to double down on that investment, digging yourself into an ever-deepening cycle of disappointment, redoubled efforts, frustration, and self-doubt.

“There’s no way anybody can compete with the big boys for the online eyeballs,” said Arthur Buzzfeed, the lead researcher. “The established media companies can afford to spend big on exposure, whereas small-time operators can hope for, at best, an occasional item that makes the rounds on social media before fading away.” As a result, says Buzzfeed, your efforts will be stymied, but not in such an immediately convincing way that you will be prompted to pursue other, actually productive, outlets.

Social media expert Mark Zuckerberg agreed that the fate awaiting you involves pathetic stretches of time during which you will repeatedly refresh the browser tab that shows your visitor stats, hoping in vain for an uptick in traffic. “Alternatively, those periods will be spent staring at the Google Analytics real-time traffic monitor, with the horror and dread building as the minutes tick by and the big, black zero remains on the screen.”

According to Buzzfeed, that mix of negative emotions will be multiplied by the petty frustrations that confront all users, such as spotty internet connectivity: with every interruption of connectivity you will become convinced that you are missing some redeeming spike in visitor stats, “which will culminate in the crushing realization, when the wifi signal returns, that no one has been interested the whole time,” he explained.

At press time, you were laughing at this article and thinking how well it applied to several other people you know, but definitely not to you.

Written by Thag

January 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Study: Your Farts Smell Better Than Everyone Else’s

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pull my fingerCambridge, MA, January 28 – Biochemists at Harvard Medical School have confirmed that unlike the intestinal gases of others, your flatulence carries neutral, even positive, associations, as opposed to connotations of decay, nausea, and disgust.

A team of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows tested the emissions, sampling the various mixtures of gases that followed the digestion of sausages, pizza, burritos, peanut butter cups, falafel, ice cream, cholent, and chili. Your emissions were compared with those of everyone else’s, with specific testing of odor, potency, and associations that resulted from the inhalation of the flatulence.

The researchers discovered that invariably, your emissions were less offensive to the olfactory sensibilities and created exclusively positive, often humorous, associations, while those of other people’s intestinal gases produced feelings of repulsiveness, and created associations of death, shame, and existential fear. The scientists will publish their research in the upcoming issue of the journal Beef.

The results confirm what you have known all along, according to Cutter Limburger, a Columbia University gastroenterology professor who was not involved in the research. While the scent of your farts represents, “a celebration of life, exuberance, and lighthearted humor,” those of others call to mind, “the very brimstone pits of Hell.”

“It’s quite remarkable how clear the results are, really,” said Limburger. “Smell that. You see what I mean?”

Flatulence occurs primarily when certain carbohydrates are present in food, carbohydrates that the human digestive system does not produce enzymes to break down. Instead, bacteria feed on those compounds, and one of the byproducts of that bacterial digestion is the gasses that compose a fart.

Each human has a unique mix of bacteria in his intestines, giving rise to different fart compositions. The study demonstrates that your particular blend of bacteria produces the most pleasant aroma, while even a slight adjustment to the balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract produces a mixture of gases that transforms exuberant, youthful humor into the dark, abusive scoffing that arises when one’s existential security is threatened. As everyone else’s farts only serve as a reminder of humanity’s inescapable animal nature and eventual demise and decomposition, it is only natural that their smell would produce such shame.

Written by Thag

January 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Sports Illustrated To Discontinue Swimsuit Issue

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Sports Illustrated‘Just doesn’t suit our target market,’ says executive

New York, January 27 – Sports Illustrated publisher Frank Wall told reporters today that TimeWarner would make this year’s swimsuit edition the last, as the company no longer sees the annual issue as a core part of its commercial appeal.

Wall assembled a press conference to announce the news, noting that the American sports fan has grown ever more sophisticated, and base appeals to sexual desires are no longer the sales draw that they once were. “With the maturity of the American male sports aficionado, the annual swimsuit issue just doesn’t suit our target market anymore,” he said. “Our strength has always been in trenchant analysis, not cheap pandering to the male libido.”

The decision brings to an end a fifty-year-old practice. For years, the swimsuit issue was the magazine’s best-seller, but according to Wall, TimeWarner’s board decided late last year that it was time to move beyond the adolescent appeal of lithe, bronzed supermodels showcasing designer bathing suits in provocative poses. “We have more respect for our audience than that now,” said Wall, “and of course we regret subjecting women to such treatment, thereby fostering their objectification and warping the way in which people view romantic relationships.”

Once release of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition ceases, there will be only two American magazine publishers that use sex appeal to engage the male reader. Maxim and Muscle&Fitness magazines will be the only remaining such publications available at newsstands. Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler, all one-time mainstays of the pornography field, folded over the last few years as interest in their offerings faded with the rising maturity and morality of their audience. Other, lesser-known purveyors of smut have likewise gone under or moved their operations exclusively to the internet, where discreet access to the crude content is still available to the few with stunted sensibilities.

Written by Thag

January 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Sewer-Dwelling Slugs Ask What The Hell You’ve Been Eating

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slugsHoboken, NJ – Mlug and Glorph, gastropods that inhabit the municipal sewage system, expressed concern today over the disturbing contents of your fecal outputs.

The pair, which are part of a larger group of sewer slugs subsisting on decaying human excretions and other liquid waste, were nonplussed by changes in the composition and texture of their environment where your residential plumbing feeds into the city system. They remarked that nowhere else had they encountered such a dismaying indication of a diet gone wrong.

“We’ve been around the block a few times,” said Glorph, with an unusual literalism, “and both of us have seen some nasty [expletive]. But neither of us has ever seen anything like this,” he said, gesturing toward what appeared to be the remains of barbecue-flavor Doritos eaten simultaneously with overripe bananas and vinaigrette.

“That’s nothing compared to Wednesday,” added Mlug, who described the scene at the same location not two days ago. “What was it, toothpaste? With hedge trimmings? And maraschino cherries, like fifty of them?” Glorph nodded his confirmation.

The slugs also expressed concern for your welfare, noting that it was not healthy for a human digestive system to handle so much butter at once, and certainly not in conjunction with cream cheese eaten straight from the container. They also distanced themselves from association with what could only be what was left of a peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwich on spelt bread, and garlic-mushroom ice cream.

“We don’t really want to know what’s going on outside those pipes,” said Mlug, “but at the same time we’ve developed this morbid fascination that won’t let us stop thinking about it,” he confessed.

“I guess that’s not surprising,” noted Glorph. “If you are what you eat, well, how can we [expletive]-for brains be expected to ponder anything else?”

Written by Thag

January 24, 2014 at 10:20 am

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Ask The NSA

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NSA logoDear NSA:

My children have me at my wits’ end. No matter how calm I try to keep the house, all the children do is yell. I can’t hear myself think. I model quiet talking for them, but they don’t even hear me. What can I do about all the noise?

– Going Deaf in Des Moines

Dear Des Moines:

Your last cable bill was $450.88, suggesting that you expose the children to the idiot box more than you should. What do you expect? See if you can get them to spend spare time at the library instead of in front of a screen. But keep an eye on Greg, your fourteen-year-old, whose literature of choice involves internet sites of which you would not approve.

Dear NSA:

I think my husband is having an aff-

Dear Chilled:

He is.

Dear NSA:

My brother has an alcohol problem. We tried an intervention but that went badly, leading to an even bigger series of outbursts. Beyond the obvious concern for him, how can we avoid the humiliation of the whole community finding out, but still show him openness and love?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

You’re not “Anonymous,” sweetie. You never were.

Dear NSA:

What’s the best way to impress a potential employer and perhaps score an interview?

Ambitious

Dear Ambitious:

First, in your cover letter you spelled “excellence” wrong. Second, get better neckties – those paisley ones are just ridiculous. And third, forget it: the Powers That Be have ordained that you are to remain unemployed until mid-2015. Sorry. Also, just because it annoys us, quit putting a double space after each sentence. One just doesn’t do that anymore.

Dear NSA:

My neighbors’ dog constantly leaves droppings on my property, and the owners feign ignorance and neglect to clean up. How can I best insist that this stop, without jeopardizing our otherwise friendly relationship?

Connecticut

Dear Connecticut:

It might help if you stop vindictively flinging the doggy deposits into their back yard when you think no one can see you.

Dear NSA:

Could you publish that inspirational poem from the woman who lost a daughter to terminal illness?

Dubuque

Dear Dubuque:

No. Have you no respect for boundaries? People hate that treacle.

Written by Thag

January 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

In Science, Math, US Students Now Rank Behind Mold, Cabbage

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Washington, January 22 – Data from standardized tests shows a new low in the academic achievements Among American high school students, placing their computational and analytical abilities just below those of the fungi and plant kingdoms.

As students from East Asia and the Scandinavian countries continue to excel, US students now rank 23,900,345,988,022nd, representing a severe drop since last year’s position as last among the world’s 208 countries with independent educational systems. Just ahead of the United States last year was South Sudan, a brand-new, war-torn African country, and Somalia, which the United Nations deemed a Failed State just a few years ago.

US leadership in education began to drop off in the decades following the Second World War, and has never really recovered. A stable period during the 1970’s saw the students maintain a position in top 20, but subsequent decay of the culture and educational system rendered any improvement impossible.

“We have to see this as a wake-up call,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “I really have no idea where we went wrong,” he added, noting that he was unsure whether that lack of knowledge was a cause or a symptom of the troubling results.

hag

Not Irma Strumpf. Probably.

“The easiest thing to do is blame the children themselves,” said noted educator Irma Strumpf, 102, who teaches Biology at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in Uniondale, New York. “And that’s probably what we’ll do.” She said the fault certainly could not lie with the teachers, who know how to focus on priorities such as belittling students who fail to complete assignments, and unfavorably comparing younger siblings to older ones.

The rankings contain some anomalies that make them even more puzzling to researchers and educators. While US teenagers show little or no aptitude for basic arithmetic or the scientific method, they demonstrate keen abilities in remembering and processing the details of plentiful celebrity gossip, skills that could easily be adapted for use in academics. And with their proficiency in deciphering text messages with myriad non-standard linguistic expressions, educators expected the students to handle non-numeric mathematical symbols easily, which of course has not happened.

Written by Thag

January 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

Study: Holy Cow, You’re An Idiot

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StupidLos Angeles, January 20 – A new study by leading researchers in the field has concluded that my goodness, are you an idiot.

The study, which examined data from the last seven years, looked at the number of times you have made the manifestly wrong decision despite having all the pertinent information readily available. By comparison with a control group, the scientists were able to determine that you apparently fell out of the Stupid tree and hit your head multiple times on the way down.

“The data real do not bear out any other conclusion,” said Yuri Nalisses, who authored the study with seven of his colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles. He said the team was surprised not so much by the extent of your stupidity as by its persistence.

“We have here someone who couldn’t reason their way out of a paper bag,” he emphasized with a shake of the head. “And yet somehow the government deems this person capable not only of voting, but of reproducing, serving on a jury, and holding public office. It’s mind-boggling” just how moronic you are, he said.

The team will publish the full study in next month’s issue of the journal Intelligence, a publication far beyond your capacity to find edifying, which is a word you have never understood, and never will.

An earlier study in 2009 found that while you were not the sharpest card in the deck, you could still manage to maintain a line of reasonably aware conversation, and possessed a passable level of self-awareness. That came on the heels of 2005 research that yielded a more ambiguous outcome: it indicated that you had no capacity whatsoever to discuss important political or societal issues, but could hold vast amounts of data regarding various baseball players of the mid-late 1980’s, which, let’s face it, only an idiot would do.

The earlier study called out for more analysis, as the apparent mastery of the significance of statistics and the ability to compute a batting average could serve a person well in other areas of life, but, inexplicably, you never applied those skills in any other context. Thus the 2009 study was born, but it continued to raise more questions that it answered. You clearly had the ability to remember names and faces, and even cultivate certain relationships, but your grasp of long-term consequences had yet to be demonstrated, pointing the way toward deeming you an imbecile.

The most recent study, says Nalisses, assessed far more data than the other two combined, leaving no doubt that you are among the dimmest bulbs ever to darken a room. This does not mean, he cautions, that you are fated to live a life of misery, as intelligence often has little bearing on one’s quality of life, or success as it is classically measured.

The researchers suggested pursuing a career in either politics or art criticism, fields in which intelligence is more often a handicap than an advantage.

Written by Thag

January 20, 2014 at 7:49 pm

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Putin Vows To Let Gay Olympians Be Molested In Peace

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gay SochiMoscow, January 19 – Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to mounting criticism of his country’s treatment of homosexuals, promising that the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi will not be marred by official mistreatment of gays and lesbians. Putin affirmed his commitment to his hands-off policy, under which Moscow will not interfere with non-governmental efforts to make homosexuals’ lives miserable.

In June, Putin signed into law a provision making it illegal to engage in the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations,” prompting both an upsurge in anti-gay incidents and in protests against the measure. In the run-up to the Olympics, scheduled to run in Sochi, Russia, from February 7-23, tensions between Moscow and other countries have risen over questions of the host country’s treatment of homosexual athletes from visiting delegations, and over its treatment of its own gay and lesbian population. Putin sought to allay the fears of the visitors, assuring them that no government officials would be involved in any persecution of homosexuals during the Olympics.

“The Russian Republic respects the integrity of the Olympic Games as a forum for promoting tolerance among nations,” the President said in a statement issued by the Kremlin. “It would be entirely inappropriate for us to assert our methods of suppressing the promotion of non-traditional lifestyles when each delegation should be free to to do so in its own way.” The statement did note that as the Olympics also function as a way to showcase local culture on the world stage, Moscow would allocate separate time and space to allow the local population to determine on its own how gays are mistreated.

The Ministry of the Interior has already ruled out the use of internment or extermination camps, calling them too costly in terms of money and manpower.  Protests against the official position on homosexual activity have marred the preparations for the games, challenging the Ministry’s resources. The Kremlin’s pronouncement putting the reins of homosexual persecution in the hands of local activists will enable the Ministry to free up those resources for security and other important efforts.

Written by Thag

January 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Those IDF Racists Won’t Even Rape Palestinian Women

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By Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority

Please note: Mightier than the Pen has opened a new site to dispense satire regarding Israel. To read this article and others, visit preoccupiedterritory.com.

Written by Thag

January 19, 2014 at 8:27 am

Netanyahu Hires Vizzini To Start US War With Iran

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VizziniJerusalem, January 16 – Information leaked from Israeli cabinet intelligence briefings suggests that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has engaged a Sicilian mercenary to foment a war between the United States and Iran.

Long dismissive of American and other international efforts to contain Tehran’s nuclear arms ambitions, Netanyahu is seeking ways to provoke American military action against Iran, knowing that the only obstacle remaining between Iran and atomic weapons capability is time. An Israeli strike would be far too risky, both tactically and diplomatically, as compared to one conducted by American forces already deployed in and around the Arabian Gulf. The leaks point to contacts between the prime minister and Vizzini, who has cultivated a specialty in starting wars.

Netanyahu is said to have sent special envoy Tyrone Rugen to negotiate the terms and logistics of the arrangement. Rugen, himself an expert in intrigue, has proved a tough negotiator and has shown as not above the use of force to achieve his ends; he is currently writing what he considers to be the definitive work on the subject, expressing his deep and abiding interest in it.

Vizzini’s most famous war instigation attempt involved the European countries of Florin and Guilder. Though thwarted by other, unanticipated developments, the Sicilian’s efforts – a prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition – and extensive preparation caught the notice of other international leaders. He often works with a team of other internationals, notably a Spanish weapons expert and a Turk of reputed great strength.

If true, the reports point to a clear escalation of Netanyahu’s attempts to ensure that the current multilateral efforts to curtail Iranian nuclear development do not end with talk and limited economic sanctions. He has repeatedly talked up the need to include the threat of actual force against Iran should the talks fail; other, unconfirmed reports involve Israel’s engagement of actual mercenary raiders such as the Dread Pirate Roberts to prey on Iran’s shipping and disrupt the country’s logistics.

Vizzini himself is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, including one in which he was tricked into overdosing on iocaine. However, the mercenary was only rendered mostly dead, and was able to lie low until the danger passed. Experts remain divided on what methods he would use in the current environment to provoke a US-Iran war; traditional, high-impact strategies have grown progressively more difficult over the years, and their effect is less predictable than it once was.

Wikileaks has published several documents purporting to relate to these developments, including the analysis by an intelligence source known as “Westley,” according to which Rugen will suggest the formation of a Brute Squad to gain access to heavily guarded American facilities and hold prominent individuals – such as members of the First Family – hostage, pinning the deed on Iran.

This morning the Prime Minister’s office dismissed the allegations as “inconceivable.”

Written by Thag

January 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Raid Of Kashrut Dept. Finds No Evidence Of Competence, Credibility

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Jerusalem (AP) – Authorities conducted a raid this morning of the Israeli Rabbinate’s department for supervising and certifying establishments claiming to provide kosher food, and found no indication that the agency had any effectiveness on the premises.

Police and Ministry of Religious Affairs personnel entered the offices in downtown Jerusalem and confiscated papers, computers, and assorted other materials in an effort to determine where, if at all, the Rabbinate had been keeping its ability to properly implement a system for certifying restaurants and factories as kosher. An examination of the materials revealed that any stores of competence had been exhausted long ago, and that the department had only traces of credibility left.

not kosherThe Rabbinate is empowered by law to determine what entities are allowed to use the term “kosher” to describe their food, a consumer protection implemented to prevent fraud. Doing so requires that the institution maintain given levels of efficacy, transparency, consistency, and adherence to established standards of kashrut supervision as enshrined in certain books of Jewish law. But the Rabbinate’s role as, effectively, judge, jury, and executioner has freed it from outside oversight, opening itself to an impaired ability to ensure that it was itself adhering to the standards it purports to enforce. One of the Rabbinate’s heads is currently under house arrest, awaiting trial for fraud and breach of trust.

Responding to agitation from community activists, the ministry decided to take action, but it remains unclear what impact the move will have. Shoddy record-keeping had already compromised the department’s ability to adequately track the validity of imported foodstuffs labeled as kosher “with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,” and the information garnered in the raid is unlikely to have an effect on the problematic dynamic of having restaurants act as employers of the kashrut supervisors.

Elsewhere in the world of kashrut supervision, independent agencies charge the food establishment a specific amount, employing its own supervisors either to remain on the premises or to conduct unannounced inspections. As the investigation has revealed, however, the Rabbinate here apparently lacks the competence necessary to handle such a complex arrangement, and foists the bureaucratic and bookkeeping burden on the businesses it certifies.

A supervisor, known as a mashgiach, assumes the dual role of advising the establishment of the practices required to ensure adherence to the laws of kashrut, and of inspecting the facility to ascertain its compliance. The Rabbinate’s system, says Ministry spokeswoman Amira L’akum, charged its supervisors with inspecting too many establishments, impairing their ability to adequately supervise any single one. “Basically, under the current system, a mashgiach comes in once a month or so, makes a token inspection of the trash can, and collects his check.” She added that there was no way an inspector could remain at any one restaurant or vendor long enough to audit the establishment’s compliance with procedures such as sifting flour to remove insects, checking eggs for blood spots, or not operating what looks like an elaborate, legally sanctioned protection racket.

Christmas treesIndeed, the Rabbinate can levy stiff fines for attempting to sidestep its procedures, which includes the engagement of any other supervising agency in the Rabbinate’s stead. L’akum noted that the department’s established pattern of behavior does not include butting heads with any independent kashrut organizations that actually have implemented a reliable supervision system. “Whether this indicates a modicum of competence or a baseline cynicism has yet to be determined,” she said.

Buttressing the argument for the cynicism factor, Rabbinate inspectors raided two related Jerusalem establishments this week, touting their discovery of forged kashrut labels. The establishments, a cheese store and restaurant with the same name and owner, had never paid the Rabbinate for supervision. Ministry officials, who declined to be identified in keeping with procedures regarding ongoing investigations, surmise that the move was calculated both to showcase whatever vestiges of competence remain, and to demonstrate that it nevertheless lacks either the will or capacity to conduct any such raid on establishments that are already paying the Rabbinate.

A spokesman for the Chief Rabbinate predicted that the institution would emerge from the episode unscathed, noting that the police department, which has been handling the evidence, has exhibited the same level of competence and credibility.

Written by Thag

January 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Twisted Sister Not Going To Take It

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Were_Not_Gonna_Take_ItSan Bernardino, CA (AP) – Fed up with the stifling environment in which they have been forced to function, the heavy-metal rock ensemble known as Twisted Sister has announced they no longer intend to take it.

The three-minute-and-thirty-eight-second announcement touched on several points, chief among them that the group has reached the limits of its tolerance for the hypocrisy inherent in so much of the adult world. But the list of grievances included objections to repressive, enforced adherence to certain conventions and the cynicism that such coercion breeds. As an example of such cynicism the ensemble pointed to alleged attempts to buy their silence with money.

Included among the complaints were also several statements of intent beyond mere expressions of Twisted Sister having exhausted their patience for the status quo. The group intends to combat the situation actively, and called the attention of the powers that be to that very intent, specifically noting that manifest visual evidence of the effort to resist will be available.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with supporters of the band – known colloquially as SMFs – hailing its boldness and defiant tone, and detractors voicing concern for the apparent lack of reverence for authority that the announcement and its accompanying video. Apparently to illustrate the sincerity and scope of their intent, Twisted Sister produced audiovisual documentation of what appear to be instances of youths resisting authority as the band cheers them on; it remained unclear at the time of the announcement whether the footage represented actual events of Not Taking It Anymore on the part of those youths, or whether the incidents were staged merely to emphasize the depth of the ensemble’s emotion.

Critics of the band’s announcement and its tone have said they intend to hold hearings on the threat the content of the video poses to impressionable minds; band member Dee Snider all but dared the authorities to do so, saying he would gladly testify before any such committee, if only to demonstrate for the nation exactly the controlling, repressive sate of affairs against which he and his colleagues were protesting.

Written by Thag

January 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Palestinians, Israeli Settlers Cheer Death Of Old Man On Life Support

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Sharon casket

The man’s casket, looking exactly as it would if he had finished his political career, retired, and died peacefully in his sleep at more or less the same age.

Jerusalem (AP) – Upon hearing the news that an eighty-five-year-old man’s heart had stopped beating yesterday, Palestinians and right-wing Israelis burst forth in joy, welcoming the end of life for a person who had been in a vegetative state since a debilitating stroke eight years ago.

In an unprecedented instance of unity, the two groups at odds over every conceivable point of contention viewed the same death in a positive light, calling the passing of an eighty-five-year old an act of “divine justice,” and “a glorious day for all that is holy,” attributing epic proportions to an event that occurs millions of times each day all over the world with not a hint of fanfare. The level of ecstasy was all the more incongruous in light of the fact that this end was a foregone conclusion since shortly after the stroke in January 2006.

On the Israeli right, radical settler leaders and their supporters welcomed the man’s death in tones normally associated with a triumphant reversal of fortune, rather than the humdrum, if grim, reality of an elderly man’s bodily systems failing in not-unusual fashion for a person his age. Across the political and demographic chasm, the Arab world, and Palestinians in particular, expressed cathartic joy reminiscent of a hard-fought but decisive victory, under circumstances more akin to a rotting tree finally toppling.

The Jews celebrating the predictable passing included a small but vocal subset of anti-Zionists, who trumpeted their satisfaction that the man had finally been cut down, as apparently their vision of manifest justice features a mortal enemy’s existence gradually coming to an end in such a way that he lacks the awareness to know that justice is being meted out.

Elsewhere, Palestinians who suffered through massacres in Lebanon that were obliquely associated with the man lamented that fact that he had been cut down by natural causes, a development that in their minds prevented the human vegetable from standing trial and, presumably, dying in more or less the same way eventually.

But the Palestinians were not alone in letting single period define their assessment of the man. Those Israelis celebrating his completely foreseeable demise as if it were a spontaneous heavenly gift defined the frail shell of a human in intensive care by one pursuit toward the end of his political career that was at odds with his prior deeds and reputation.

At press time, the ability to acknowledge complexity in an ideological opponent remained in critical condition.

Written by Thag

January 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Agency Surprised By Backlash Against Ads Mocking Fat Kids

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fat kid ad

The ad reads, “When your child gets fat, his smile gets smaller.” Not shown: the McDonald’s ad on the sign’s opposite side, touting the array of “SuperSize” offerings.

Tel Aviv (AP) – Publicity firm JCDecaux was taken aback by the completely unforeseen reaction to an advertising campaign that distorted the images of children to make them look excessively overweight. The company found itself unexpectedly on the defensive after large swaths of the public expressed disgust at a campaign intended to draw attention to the growing problem of obesity in children, a campaign that revolved around mocking images of fat kids, a development no one in the organization foresaw.

In a statement, JCDecaux apologized for its strategy, saying it had no idea anyone could find offense in the notion that fat children should be mocked. It attempted to explain its actions by noting that no one had ever thought overweight children might suffer disparagement of their girth, so naturally the firm could not expect the public to object to such a series of depictions.

The campaign, plastered on billboards throughout the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, was scheduled to end next week, but the company removed the ads yesterday, replacing them with a self-congratulatory statement about having succeeded in raising awareness of the issue, as if only a small portion of public was aware of children who take up more space, and thus are more visible, than other children. The statement also called on the viewers to make the next move, as if JCDecaux’s job were done, without an indication as to what any “next move” might be.

JCDecaux-Israel’s spokeswoman Mor Bidlio-Beese said the campaign targeted the parents of overweight children, emphasizing the social pitfalls of obesity related to appearance and gait, and the disparagement that such awkwardness would attract. What the firm did not count on, she said, was that people would defend their fellow humans from just that sort of disparagement, pointing out that the last thing an obese child, who already suffers from low self image and motivation problems, needs is more negative input that only serves to make the underlying issues more severe.

“We were dumbfounded,” admitted Bidlio-Beese. “Since when does anyone care about fat people?”

Her remarks to reporters were the source of a second round of opprobrium from all corners, including a Facebook campaign to have Ms. Bidlio-Beese dismissed. Company executives have declined to comment, merely issuing a second press release accusing the media of focusing wrongly focusing on JCDecaux as the story instead of the tens of thousands of obese children in the country who require constant browbeating so they will finally get off their ample derrieres and do something to shed that weight.

Written by Thag

January 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm

DMV Vows Reforms After Man Emerges In Only 12 Minutes

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Transport logoJerusalem (AP) – A local man went to the local licensing bureau office to obtain a necessary document this morning and succeeded with a minimal wait time and no hassle, casting doubt on the Licensing Authority’s competence as a purveyor of frustration and confronting the Ministry of Transportation with a scandal unseen in severity in more than two decades.

Shortly before noon, Jerusalem resident Daoud Ibn Swid, 38, entered the licensing office in the center of the city to receive a printout of his renewed car registration, which he had not received in the mail. After passing through security and taking a number, Ibn Swid waited approximately 11 minutes before his number was called. Exacerbating the swiftness of the experience was the apparent efficiency of the clerk, who, after asking for ID, called up the pertinent information on her computer terminal and printed out the document, causing Mr. Ibn Swid to spend less than 60 seconds at the counter and encounter no frustration or obstacles.

Normally, says Licensing Authority spokeswoman Byurakra See, visitors to the various bureau offices are expected to spend at least 45 minutes waiting before their number is called. Then procedures mandate that the visitor be shunted to different windows at least twice before even a preliminary resolution of the inquiry can be offered. Following that stage, clerks are directed to ask for documentation that the visitor does not have on hand, such as a passport, an old, expired driver’s license, a birth certificate, a college transcript, or a full credit history printout.

If the visitor has provided all of that documentation, says See, computer network errors or printer malfunctions must disrupt any effort to meet the visitor’s needs. According to See, initial indications point to a large number of previous visitors who despaired more quickly than expected of accomplishing anything and departed, leaving the staff unprepared for Mr. Ibn Swid to appear at a service counter showing no signs of accumulated frustration or anger.

“Our clerks are well trained in identifying and exploiting the most irritating aspect of visiting our facilities, but these unforeseen circumstances meant that they had to confront a calm, even happy, visitor, and our procedures do not cover that unprecedented development.” She assured reporters that the Authority would both amend the procedures to cover any possible recurrences of this scenario and examine existing procedures to determine how it might be prevented in the first place.

Israel Katz

Katz. “I have a canker sore. Thus the facial expression.”

Minister of Transportation Israel Katz also promised a full inquiry, noting that no visitor to the Licensing Authority offices had emerged in less than 15 minutes since 1993. On two consecutive April days that year, an office in the city of Haifa processed more than eighteen people over the course of the five hours it was open, far above the average of seven visitors. That episode, infamously known in Israeli bureaucratic circles as The Efficiency Plague, prompted the development of tighter controls and procedures for the mishandling of visitors, procedures that apparently worked well until today.

Minister Katz said his office would investigate whether any bribery or other inducement was used to prompt the clerk to process Mr. Ibn Swid’s document quickly, but conceded it was unlikely, given the brevity of the time the two spent interacting.

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January 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Report: Dude Looks Like A Lady

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220px-DudelookslikealadyLos Angeles (AP) – A survey of the available data on the appearance of a male in the vicinity shows that he resembles a female, area observers have reported.

Researchers Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Desmond Child conducted a series of observations to catalog the clothing, hair style, facial features, jewelry, footwear, gait, and mannerisms of a New York man, and published their findings in the journal Permanent Vacation. The article, titled “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” describes the data that led the team of researchers to their conclusion.

Among the observations that brought Tyler, Perry, and Child to their conclusion were the carefully styled long hair and the facial cosmetics applied in a manner consistent with common female practice, as well as more obvious clues such as the wearing of garments typically worn by women and not men, such as a gown. The team included a list of the factors, and logged the events during the study that indicated an emerging picture of femininity despite the manifest anatomical indicators of masculine phenotype.

The site of that served as the arena for the observations was a business establishment reputed as a frequent location for the appearance of males resembling females. The team relied on informal reports from local residents and business proprietors as to the recommended candidate observation sites, and found in their research that the recommendations were corroborated by the ease with which they identified a dude who looked like a lady.

“The solidity of the evidence in this case is impressive,” says Euphegenia Doubtfire, a San Francisco expert on cross-dressing who was not involved in the study. “Based on the description of the area and the observed individual’s features as described in the article, it is clear that the researchers did a commendable job in identifying the actual, as opposed to assumed, sex of that individual.

Not everyone agrees with the premises of the observation, though few actually challenge the conclusions. Researcher Nikki Sixx, who was not  involved in the research but was apprised of its progress, disputes the accuracy of the circumstances surrounding the observation, and his claims, if true, would cast doubt on the reliability of the data set.

For example, according to Sixx, the observed individual was not, as Tyler describes him, a “drag queen,” but one of Sixx’s associates, Vince Neil. According to Neil himself, who claims to have been involved in the preliminary stage of the research, the impetus for the study was actually a member of the wait staff at a bar. Neither Sixx nor Neil, however, dispute the conclusion that the observed dude indeed looks like a lady.

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January 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Race To Politicize Pope’s Mideast Visit Begins

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Pope FrancisJerusalem (AP) – Pope Francis announced yesterday that he would be visiting the Holy Land in May of this year, setting off a scramble among Israelis and Palestinians to score propaganda points in their ongoing conflict and to leverage the publicity of the visit to imply papal endorsement of their respective positions.

Francis announced his intention to a crowd in Rome, saying that he hopes to bolster ongoing efforts to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. US-brokered talks have produced little progress on the remaining core issues, including the status of Jerusalem; the fate of Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlements; borders; and whether there must be explicit recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Considering the weightiness of those issues, the pontiff’s announcement was immediately seized upon by representatives of both sides as an important vehicle through which to demonstrate the virtues and manifest justice of their own positions, to the exclusion of the other side’s.

Francis is the third pope in a row to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories; John Paul II did so in 2000 and his successor Benedict XVI followed in 2009. Both times, as expected, politicians and negotiators on opposing sides of the divide attempted to transform every possible papal move into an indication of Vatican support for one side or the other.

Similar developments are expected this May, when the pope will visit important Christian pilgrimage sites and meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian leaders in a visit also aimed at strengthening relations with Orthodox Christianity, from which Roman Catholicism spit in the eleventh century. A parallel tumult of diplomatic and political maneuvering has characterized the Christian reaction to the news, with both Catholic and Orthodox partisans angling to score rhetorical points in the nearly thousand-year-old dispute over, among other issues, the primacy of the pope.

Francis’s first stop will be in Amman, Jordan, where the focus will be more on repairing relations with the Muslim world than on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but that conflict is sure to intrude on the discussion between Francis and King Abdullah, whose country is populated by large numbers of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Only afterwards will the pope travel west to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where Israelis and Palestinians will try to portray each papal visit to a site in contested territory as a tacit or explicit statement of support for either perpetual Israeli control or the need to bring it to an end.

Vatican spokesman Waitwait Dontelmi said Francis had decided that the trip would take place in May because that is when the current round of US-brokered talks is expected to end, but which the Israeli Foreign Ministry immediately announced was calculated to be associated with Israeli Independence Day, which usually occurs in May.

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January 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Tragedy Strikes As Gaza Strip Fails To Sink Into Mediterranean

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open sewer

This flow of water is an open sewer in the Gaza Strip and not, unfortunately, evidence that the miserable territory is finally, mercifully, being drowned.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AP) – The Gaza Strip was not struck by a massive earthquake that separated it from the rest of the Eurasian-African land mass and submerged it in the sea last night, a development that continues to send waves of horror and revulsion across the world.

A high-magnitude seismic event struck nowhere near the eastern Mediterranean Basin yesterday, resulting in not a single square centimeter of the coastal territory becoming forever lost. As a consequence, the area continues to suffer from appalling mismanagement, incitement to violence, soaring unemployment, inadequate sewage, and increased radicalization.

Scientists at the Tectonic-Oceanic Observation Bureau At Dahran (TOOBAD) in Saudi Arabia noticed at about 7 PM local time on Saturday that the Gaza Strip was being subjected to no significant seismic activity or disturbances in ocean wave movements, meaning that the semi-isolated area would persist as a hotbed of misery, frustration, militarism, and cynical moves by the political leadership to leverage residents’ suffering for diplomatic or rhetorical gain in the conflict with Israel. The sudden dislodging of the Gaza Strip from neighboring Israel and the Sinai Peninsula would have put an end to the territory’s struggles to maintain some semblance of an economy and will to live in increasingly depressing circumstances, but no such positive development occurred.

“It’s been an absolute disaster,” said TOOBAD seismologist Oh Aiwish. “The cumulative horror of this non-earthquake is going to haunt the entire Middle East for decades to come, and it will have profound impact on world events for at least the next hundred years.” For every second since yesterday that the Gaza Strip was not hit by a tsunami or massive tremor, said Aiwish, there was a corresponding buildup of tension and malice in its population that only laid the groundwork for a future eruption of unrest.

Israeli seismologists had also been monitoring the region, which has a number of fault lines, and they, too, discovered that Gaza had yet to be severed from the rest of Eurasia and removed from the stage of history. Gal Lee, a researcher with the Seismic-Tectonic University Program for Investigating Developments (STUPID), a semi-governmental body composed of academics, reported the horror on his colleagues’ faces as they discovered the misery continuing to unfold in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of not being hit with an unprecedented display of tectonic wrath.

“It’s hard to look at, and we sometimes have to go somewhere else for a few minutes and cry,” he confided. “But we have a job to do, even if that means being forced to look at things that no feeling human would ever want to see.”

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January 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm

World Pulls Jaw Muscle While Yawning At Beirut Bombing

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BeirutNew York (AP) – The world was treated for a pulled jaw muscle today after yawning at the car bombing in a Beirut suburb yesterday. Doctors at New York’s Bellevue Hospital reported that that patient was admitted to the ER, treated, and released.

A powerful explosion caused extensive damage and killed five passers by on Thursday in the Lebanese suburb of Haret Hreik, a stronghold of Hezbollah support. The bombing follows a series of similar attacks in Lebanon, in spillover from the three-year-old sectarian civil war in neighboring Syria. Opponents of the Assad regime, primarily Sunni Muslims, resent Shiite Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, exacerbating the fragile demographic tensions in Lebanon. The world, however, which would rather focus on either wresting concessions from Israel or on the new season of Downton Abbey, reacted with boredom to yet another episode of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

Contributing to the yawn were the neverending armed conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan. “The world has basically resigned itself to certain populations killing each other all the time, while pretending to support democratic values,” said hospital spokesman Dr. Ray Ciszt, explaining the patient’s predisposition toward the pulled muscle. “Each time the media report further attacks in Syria, Lebanon, or even within the Gaza Strip, as long as Jews aren’t the ones pulling the trigger, the world finds it dull. Iterations of these occurrences have strained the patient’s jaw muscles from repeated yawns.” The yawning in reaction to the latest Lebanon bombing only exacerbated the muscle strain and finally resulted in injury.

Dr. Ciszt said the world risked a similar injury to its eye muscles this year when President Obama was offering excuses and apologies for sweeping violations of privacy by the National Security Administration, and the world reacted with eye-rolling. To forestall a recurrence that would seriously injure those muscles, doctors told the world not to pay attention when Obama later had to offer a defense of the missteps in rolling out his health care initiative. The admonishment also proved helpful when the US granted major concessions to Iran on its nuclear program after more than a year of official insistence that no such developments would be tolerated.

For now, the world is being instructed to maintain its studious ignorance of international developments and domestic politics, lest further parts of its anatomy sustain harm. At particular risk, says Dr. Ciszt, is the world’s digestive system, which apparently does not have the stomach for applying actual pressure on the Palestinians.

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January 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

Media Outlets Rush To Update Pending Sharon Obituaries

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SharonNew York (AP) – A rapid deterioration of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s condition has journalists scrambling to update their files in case the publication of an obituary becomes necessary in the coming hours or days.

Sharon, 85, suffered a stroke eight years ago that resulted in his current comatose state. The former general’s life closely follows many of the defining moments of Israel’s history and politics, including a dramatic shift on Jewish settlements that involved the withdrawal of all Israelis from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In keeping with industry practice regarding public figures, newspapers and other sources of current events news have long maintained files will all the pertinent details of his life in case the need arises to release an accounting of his life.

When doctors in Tel Aviv announced yesterday that Sharon’s kidneys were failing and that various other systems were in peril, newsroom personnel and interns across the globe hurried to review their current information on him. In most cases the obituaries were all but written years ago; when Sharon initially suffered the stroke in January 2006, a similar scramble occurred. Little needs to be added regarding the intervening years, save perhaps for details of his deterioration and references to the long-term results of his policies.

The effort to ensure the timely publication of a comprehensive, accurate obituary is much easier in this case for that reason, says Ed G. Yoomer, who writes about journalism industry practices. “There’s usually a constant monitoring of press releases, media reports, gossip sites, and official web sites to keep pending obituaries accurate,” he explains. “But with Ariel Sharon, that really hasn’t been necessary.” There hasn’t even been a death watch, as took place, for example, in the waning days of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

“A death watch itself becomes a media event and might be worthy of mention in an obituray,” says Yoomer. “But here, all the journalists have to do is wait for one little announcement, add a few details to the article, and just pull the plug.”

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January 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

City To Proudly Inaugurate 3 New Deadly Intersections

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Betzalel-BacharJerusalem (AP) – Cutting through the maze of alleys and narrow, one-way streets in the historic neighborhood of Nachlaot is Betzalel Street, where a twice-daily ritual takes place during rush hour as drivers routinely imperil pedestrians by barreling through ill-designed crosswalks. The municipality plans to add at least three more such intersections to the city’s streets in 2014, a mayoral spokesman announced this morning.

As traffic volume exceeds the capacity of Betzalel, cars backed up bumper-to-bumper inch up the road toward the even more congested center of town, and the ambiguous nature of one intersection invites drivers not to notice the red light that would allow pedestrians to cross the street. When they nevertheless assert their prerogative to do so, angry drivers blame their own ignorance, real or feigned, that the big red light up ahead means they must stop.

At the root of the phenomenon, says city engineer Ron Demmover, is the bizarre layout of the intersection. Traffic from Nissim Bacher may only turn right, down Betzalel. Accordingly, instead of being required to stop before Betzalel actually meets Nissim Bachar, drivers heading uphill on Betzalel must stop at the crosswalk just beyond the intersection. Nissim Bachar does not continue across Betzalel, giving the uphill drivers no indication on their right side that they have entered an intersection.

To increase the risk to pedestrians, the city planted a tree right in front of one of the two traffic signals governing the intersection, the one that stands right at the crosswalk. Thus the only signal clearly visible to drivers headed up the street is a traffic light set back about fifteen meters beyond the intersection. “It’s a crazy sight,” says Demmover. “You get cars moving right through the crosswalk on a red light, then stopping four car lengths later, in the middle of nowhere, because, hey, look, a red light.”

To showcase its commitment to endangering pedestrians, the administration of Mayor Nir Barkat issued a press release today in which it expressed its commitment to spreading the design flaws of the Betzalel/Bachar intersection to other parts of the city. “The malicious engineering produced by our elite team of misanthrope bureaucrats will give rise in 2014 to deadly junctions in the neighborhoods of Givat Shaul, Kiryat Moshe, and Kiryat HaYovel,” read the statement, referring to neighborhoods along the western edge of the city. The release also said the city has not capped the number at three, and is open to redesigning intersections in the more central areas of Baka and Talpiot to help bring the specter of being maimed by a ton or so of moving steel to more and more Jerusalem residents.

Not everyone is pleased with the move. Ateret Shulman, whose four-year-old daughter was hit by a car at the intersection in question, laments the investment, noting that her child was hit by a car heading downhill, where the obscured and badly placed signals were irrelevant; the driver had simply ignored a red light. “There’s no need to rearrange entire junctions,” she argues. “Just install traffic lights that aren’t as easy to see, and forget it.” A mayoral spokesman explained that such a move would also risk accidents between vehicles, when the target audience, so to speak, is people on foot.

The measure focuses exclusively on the western section of the city, which houses mostly Jews. The eastern portion, captured by Israel from Jordan in 1967 and annexed, contains mostly Arab non-Jews who, like most of the rest of the world, do not recognize Israel’s claims to that part of Jerusalem. Successive mayoral administrations have had to contend with accusations that they neglect to provide adequate municipal services to Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In an odd political twist, this initiative, though it focuses only on West Jerusalem, would result in bringing the two sections of the city closer to equality: the municipality has invested little in improving the infrastructure of the Arab neighborhoods, including the maintenance of crosswalks, making every pedestrian venture onto asphalt there a game of Frogger. Now the residents of the western part would find more exposure to the experience.

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January 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm