Month: February 2015

Six really strange coincidences

The world is a really strange place filled with strange things and strange people.  Really, more than anything, when all these factors combine it allows some really strange occurrences to…um..occur, I guess, for the sake of redundancy.  We’ve all experienced coincidences that kind of stopped us in our tracks and made us say, “wow”, but given the sheer age of recorded human history, there have been some truly strange occurrences.  Here are six ranked in no particular order of strangeness.

6.  Henry Ziegland’s bad luck

Some of the most truly horrible films I’ve ever seen are installments of the “Final Destination” franchise, which all are famous for the spectacularly graphic depiction of unlikable teenagers being horribly killed, but notable because of their shared, cryptic message; you can’t cheat death.  Of course, people cheat death all the time, whether it involves a lifesaving surgery, a miracle, or attempting to eat a meatball sub while in the HOV lane.  Henry Ziegland cheated death.  You see, back in 1883, Ziegland was a bit of a heartbreaker; not so much in a Pat Benatar sense, but a “divorce his wife and she’s so heartbroken she’s driven to suicide” kind of sense.  Obviously, Ms. Ziegland’s suicide is no laughing matter, and it’s certainly a tragedy, but it’s not really Ziegland’s fault.  Unfortunately, Ziegland’s brother-in-law didn’t see things that way.  Broken up about his little sister’s untimely demise, he hunted down Ziegland to bestow a hot, steaming pile of revenge all over the heartbreaker.  The brother-in-law found Ziegland, shot him in the head, and then turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.  Ziegland, however, displaying a Rasheed Wallace-esque “ball don’t lie” bit of fortune had the bullet simply graze his cheek, as his potential fate with the grim reaper whizzed by and became lodged in a nearby tree.  After breathing the sigh of relief to end all sighs of relief, Ziegland went off to presumably bed some unfortunate 19th century woman of the night.

Where things really get weird

Years after his brush with death, Ziegland, apparently sick of seeing a constant reminder of one of the most harrowing moments of his life, decided to cut down the tree which housed that fateful bullet.  Since Ziegland lived in Texas, he decided to forgo the traditional ax route of tree cutting and opted for the “Texas” way of doing things ( by this I mean he used several sticks of dynamite to blow up the tree).  Unfortunately, the dynamite blast was too powerful, blowing the tree to smithereens and dislodging the long-lost bullet, which promptly shot into Ziegland’s head, killing him instantly.

5.  Shaq escapes death

1993 was a pretty great year for Shaquille O’Neal: he was in his second season in the NBA, averaging nearly 30 points per game as a member of the Orlando Magic, and most importantly, he had just recorded a song with an up and coming rapper from Brooklyn named Christopher Wallace, or as most know him, the Notorious B.I.G.  Biggie and Shaq became fast friends, and remained such even when O’Neal shipped out to Los Angeles to resume his Hall of Fame career.  In fact, Shaq and Biggie were such close friends that Biggie, despite being a key figure in a metaphorical “east coast-west coast turf war”, decided to visit his buddy in LA one night in March 1997.

Where it gets weird.

Biggie was chilling at a party, presumably dead right, with his head tight, sippin’ on booze at the House of Blues when he decided to head to a different party.  On the way he would stop to pick up his friend Shaq, since he wasn’t able to make it to the first party.  Later that evening, Biggie was gunned down in his SUV and died in the hospital a few hours later.  Several years ago, Shaq acknowledged he was all ready to go “in a white suit, white hat and all that” and about to head out the door.  However, Shaq ended up falling asleep and missing his ride to the party in the backseat of an SUV with one Christopher Wallace.  The next day, Shaq’s mom called him and asked if he had gone to the party the night before and then revealed Shaq’s friend he been murdered in a drive by shooting moments after departing the party.  Had Shaq made it to the party that night, he could have potentially been killed, ending a Hall of Fame career and forcing the sports world to view a Lakers team with only Kobe Bryant as its premier star.  Yuck.

4.  Ilan Ramon and the Columbia disaster

Israel has come a long way.  Despite some lesser minded folks viewing it as a dusty sand country, Israel is one of the most technologically and militarily advanced nations in the world and remains the tightest of bros with the United States.  Specifically, Israel possess a world-renowned Air Force.  That being said, it was only a matter of time before one of their ace pilots moved on to a new frontier.  Ilan Ramon, that aforementioned ace, was the chosen one.  Ramon eventually landed a job with NASA, becoming the first Israeli astronaut in history.  In 2003, NASA was planning to man a 16 day flight to do science and research and other space stuff, and Ramon was slated to be part of the team.  It was truly groundbreaking, because Ramon stated his intentions of honoring Jewish traditions, most confusingly eating Kosher meals in flight, which I guess still beats pre-packaged space food by the narrowest of margins.  On January 16, 2003, Ramon and six other astronauts loaded their stuff into their rocket ship, the Columbia…

The Columbia disaster is one of those transcendent moments where people usually remembers a lot of details about what they were doing that day.  During the initial launch, the crew noticed some debris had fallen off the shuttle, and engineers (rightfully) concluded this might be a bit of an issue.  Either way, the mission resumed, and the crew figured they would just attempt reentry the good ol’ fashioned way despite the damage to the shuttle.  Tragically, the shuttle began to break apart during reentry, eventually entirely disintegrating (or exploding, depending on sources).  Debris from the damaged ship then fell down all over parts of eastern Texas…

Where it gets weird.

In a little town called Palestine.  Palestine, Texas, probably most famously known as Adrian Peterson’s birthplace became the de facto graveyard for the Columbia.  Ramon, one of those who perished in the crash, if you remember, was born in Israel….

3.  Luck’s dethrones Manning’s

This is a tale of fathers, sons, and one of the most unlikable coaches in football history.  Back in 1982, when the Houston Oilers were still a thing, the team had just built a pretty decent quarterback duo; trading for Archie Manning and drafting West Virginia standout Oliver Luck in the second round.  Of course, the elder Manning was the incumbent passer, but the young Luck quickly dethroned Manning and took the reigns as starting quarterback of the Oilers.  Of course, quarterbacks are dethroned all the time so it’s not like this is a huge deal.

Where it gets weird.

Years later, in a seemingly different realm of football reality Jim Harbaugh was busy orchestrated one of the poorest seasons in Indianapolis Colts history.  He played pretty well from a statistical standpoint, but had a 2-9 record as the starter, as the team finished with a league worse 3-13 record and “won” the first overall pick in the draft.  Since a young kid from the University of Tennessee had the makings of a franchise quarterback, the Colts went ahead and traded Harbaugh away and drafted this new kid named Peyton Manning, who is the son of Archie Manning.  After an unspectacular remainder of his football career, Harbaugh eventually landed a pretty sweet gig coaching the Stanford football team.  He caught wind of a young man in Texas who was being compared to John Elway but lacked the surfer boy attitude.  So, Harbaugh went ahead and added Oliver Luck’s son Andrew to his Stanford roster.  The younger Luck went on to become one of the best quarterbacks in college football, eventually earning some of the highest pre-draft grades in NFL history, with some scouts calling him the great prospect they’ve ever scouted.  Fortunately for the Indianapolis Colts, they held the number one pick in the 2012 draft.  Unfortunately, their franchise QB Peyton Manning was injured, as the team finished with a 3-13 record….  So the team released Manning who was replaced by Luck…again.

2.  Tsutomu Yamaguchi pretty much has the worst luck ever

Tsutomu had a pretty good life back in 1945.  Despite his country being on their heels in a losing two-front war, he was employed as a businessman, living in his comfortable home in Nagasaki.  On August 6, 1945, however, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip, presumably sucking down strawberry margs and living the high life.  Until he looked into the sky, saw an airplane dropping something, and flying away.

Over 100,000 people were killed in the Hiroshima bombings as the result of trauma, blast burns, and being incinerated by science.  In fact, everything within a one diameter had basically turned into a parking lot while more far spread damage from shock waves and heat caused damage even further away from the blast site.  While Yamaguchi wasn’t sucking down strawberry margs, he was returning to his work place to retrieve an item he had forgotten, only about a mile and a half from the blast site.  He recalled seeing a “great white flash” in the sky before noticing the fact his eardrums had ruptured, he was rendered temporarily blind, and burns were now covering about half his body. Miraculously, he crawled his way to a shelter to ride out the remainder of the ordeal.  Relatively unhurt, he decided to cut his three-month business trip short and return to his home…

Where it gets weird.

..in Nagasaki.  While still probably unable to suck down strawberry margs, Yamaguchi was recovering in his home.  For most people, the sniffles calls for at least a three-day recovery period.  For Yamaguchi it calls for a return to work in Nagasaki, three days after surviving the world’s only nuclear bombing.  Dazzled by Yamaguchi’s luck, his boss called him up to his office to describe his harrowing ordeal.  There, in the office, Yamaguchi began describing the hellish scenario that had unfolded only three days earlier.  Then, as he was saying “You should’ve been there boss, it was cra….” another flash of white light appeared outside the window as another 90,000 people were killed when a second bomb was dropped, this time in Nagasaki.  This time, Yamaguchi survived with almost no injuries, although his bandages were ruined, giving him a case of the sniffles.  I assume he took more than three days off of work after this.

Japan recognizes Yamaguchi as the only person to survive both atomic bombings.  Tragically, Yamaguchi contracted stomach cancer and passed away….in 2010, at age 93.

*Disclaimer: This last entry is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen*

1.  The Kennedy-Lincoln parallel

My least favorite thing about conspiracy theories is how people try to nit-pick specific issues to prove the points. “9/11 was orchestrated by Microsoft because when you change a certain strand of letters to wingdings it looks like a plane crashing into a tower.”  Oh yeah?  Why are you using wingdings in the first place, idiot; you can’t read them.  Anyway, there are obviously less ridiculous examples that involve Saddam Hussein’s birthday coinciding with Tupac’s death or something like that, but at the end of the day reaching for a controversy is kind of ridiculous.  That is, until you see the unbelievable coincidence that is the parallel between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Where it gets weird.

We’ll start with a relatively benign fact; Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and President in 1860, while Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946 and President in 1960, with both men defeating incumbent Vice Presidents to win the presidency. Okay, big deal, they just took the same two positions exactly 100 years apart, that’s not too strange.  They are both remembered for being civil rights pioneers, despite neither man particularly caring “that much” about civil rights.  The Presidents who followed them were both named Johnson (Andrew for Lincoln and Lyndon for Kennedy) and were born in 1808 and 1908, respectively.  Still not too weird, but getting weirder.

Both men were assassinated while in office.  This itself is strange, but not unheard of.  Not really a coincidence.  But they were both killed on a Friday following a major holiday while in the company of another couple and their wives.  In fact, the husband that accompanied the President and First Lady was wounded in each assassination attempt.  John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassins, were each Southern males in their mid-20’s.  Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre, escaped, and was captured in a warehouse.  Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse (the Texas school book depository) escaped, and was later captured in a theatre.  Oswald and Booth both avoided trial, as they were both shot on killed prior to their appearances in court.   Boston Corbett, a former military man, shot Booth and killed him.  Jack Ruby, a former military man, shot Oswald and killed him.

So you lost the winning lottery ticket?

There’s a lot of horrible things capable of happening to us in today’s world; terrorism, diseases, a really long line at Chipotle.  However, we are often caught up in everyday annoyances that the grand scheme of things tends to become clouded.  What if you missed an important job interview because you were in line at Chipotle?  That’s a pretty big deal.  What if you missed the birth of your second child because you got malaria?  Well, that’s also awful, but you can always just have another kid (provided you are malaria free, of course.)  But then, there are mistakes so horrible, so irreparably terrible that the prospect of righting the wrongs is impossible, and it ruins your life in the process.  I am, of course, talking about losing the winning lottery ticket.

So you’ve won the lottery?

Well, not really.  You won like $25,000 on a scratch-off.  Still, that’s a significant amount of money, and it can be well spent on responsible, frugal purchases like paying off loans, investing in some stocks, and purchasing a new garage for your jet-ski.  You can’t wait to cash that ticket and collect those winnings.

But wait, you can’t find the ticket?

Okay, well, that’s not an ideal situation, but it can certainly be remedied.

Step #1 – Search for the ticket

Eh, you probably just dropped it somewhere.  Check your car, your pants, the floor of your apartment…anywhere you feel you might have misplaced it.  It’s gotta be somewhere.  A persistent search will probably produce some favorable results.

By now you’ve conducted the aforementioned lengthy, thorough search that has provided exactly zero favorable results.  This leads directly into the next step.

Step #2 – Re-evaluate your positioning

While there are worse things than losing $25,000 (such as birthing a malaria baby) it’s hard to envision a comparably terrible situation in these circumstances.  First, conduct some mental inventory:  Okay, you scratched the ticket off in the car, realized you won, and immediately resorted to some sort of spastic victory dance.  Naturally.  Next, for some unknown reason you entered a separate building to purchase a celebratory victory drink and donut.  Why you couldn’t just re-enter the same locale that you purchased the winning lottery ticket will forever remain a mystery in hindsight, but in the present you need to just work with the knowledge you have.  Okay, so did you bring the ticket with you?  No.  Great.  That’s good.  Did you lock your car?  Also no?  Do you realize which part of town we are in?  Yes, that’s right, that part of town.  If you refuse to make eye contact with the residents why on earth would it be considered a reasonable decision to leave a $25,000 lottery ticket in the car?  Okay, okay, but you were only in there for a few seconds, and nothing else is missing from your car.  This is good.  However, you now notice your wallet is missing after buying your donuts with spare change from your car. This is not good.

Step #3 – Immediately panic

By now, you’re down a $25,000 lottery ticket and your wallet, which contains several credit cards, your license, $47 dollars, and most importantly, your Giant Eagle advantage card.  So as far as being out of luck goes, you are now the poster child.  Take a brief moment to sob in your car and collect your thoughts.  A large, burly man walks slowly past your car, peering through your windshield as you pollute your dashboard with soggy, manly tears.  After realizing the burly man has watched you (and very thoroughly judged you) it’s time to put a plan into action.

Step #4 – Plan of action 

Okay…so now what.  You have no wallet, no lottery ticket, and no more dignity after a sheepish display of masculinity in your car.  Additionally you have no leads, no clue where the ticket could be, and no….wait a second.  That guy.  The guy in the parking lot is picking up something on the ground.  That’s my wallet.  He opens the wallet, examines the $47 (because of course he does) and then folds the wallet back up.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  Thank god he left the Advantage Card.  Then, he opened the wallet back up and emerges with a colored, worn-out piece of paper resembling a…..oh. My. God.

Step #5 – Tail the culprit

So, it’s time for some mental inventory: you have sights on the guy who has both your wallet and a $25,000 lottery ticket, it’s the middle of the day, and we are near a busy highway.  This is advantageous.  Additional items to consider: he looks like Marshawn Lynch’s more terrifying brother, you aren’t in a safe neighborhood, and you have no leverage in this situation.  This is not advantageous.  He is clearly stronger than you, possibly able to kill you with a single punch, so a physical confrontation is out of the question.  However, you have a car.  He does not, check and mate.  He begins walking towards the road, walking parallel towards the other end of town.  You then pull out towards the end of the lot, sitting inconspicuously as you watch him until it’s safe to enter the highway.  You pass a questionable apartment complex.  Doubts arise.  He walks past the sketchy complex.  Prayers answered.  As you continue following him, in your car, like a coward, you watch as he enters the exact same gas station where you purchased the lottery ticket.  It probably wasn’t a great idea to leave the receipt in the wallet.  You bought the ticket from a machine, there’s no way they are gonna ask for this guy’s ID.

Step #6 – Time to man up

It’s decision time; do you man up and confront the thief or do you go buy a new wallet and just be thankful you still have a life.  You then remember you can’t buy a new wallet because you lost your old wallet.  You ponder the paradox this unfortunate situation has created as you reluctantly settle on door number one.

Step #7 – Moment of truth

You enter the gas station, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  At best this guy will realize he’s been caught and give you the ticket.  At worst you are about to be horribly murdered.  With little grey area existing you walk right up to the counter where this guy is showing the clerk the winning lottery ticket.

“Hey,” you shout, trying your best to avoid crying and/or voiding your bowels.

“Oh, hey, you’re the guy,” said the clerk.  “This guy was trying to return your wallet.”

“Yeah man,” said the thief.  “You left this receipt for this store in there and I saw it from like 15 minutes ago so I figured I would walk down and see if maybe the store clerk recognized you,” as he hands you the wallet.  “I saw that lottery ticket and there and figured the owner of that would be wanting that ticket back, so it’s a good thing we found you.”

By now, the feelings you are experiencing will certainly be mixed.  Do your best to avoid crying for a second time in a 15 minute period, as to not completely emasculate yourself.  Graciously thank this heroic stranger for his amazing deed and give him the $47 at the very least, you monster.

Step #8 – Cash the ticket

“Dude, this is a convenience store,” says the clerk.  “I have $50 in this cash register.”

“So you’re saying I can’t have $25,000,” you foolishly suggest.

Visibly frustrated, the clerk instructs you on how to acquire your prize, which involves mailing the winning ticket into the Pennsylvania lottery committee or whatever and they will cut you a check, shaking their fists knowing you swindled a bunch of old people.

So, you run to the post office to buy some stamps, but before completing the transaction you reach into your back pocket to grab your wallet, look up in horror, and break down into pathetic, gut-wrenching sobs.

Six things people “misremember”

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about NBC news correspondents who innocently misremember facts, even if their definition of “misremember” is equal to the traditional definition of “totally lying about stuff.”  Most people, though, don’t just lie about stuff; they just misremember.  And honestly, society has misremembered so many things the misremembered issues become mainstream and threaten the actual, concrete facts.  Here are six instances of things people misremembered, and their extraordinarily easy to clarify truths.

Entrapment Laws

Hollywood has a way of affecting how people see the world; giant explosions only a couple feet away aren’t a big deal and falling from a sixth story apartment building ain’t no thang.  Crime dramas are great because the perpetuate the stereotypes of the police officer-criminal relationship that doesn’t involve shooting or beating each other (usually).  In most police movies, there’s always a young, spry new guy on the force employed to be the police department’s mole; he will go undercover to infiltrate a crime ring and attempt to bring it down from the inside.  The problem is, once the young cop is in with the gangsters, the mob boss always asks, “You ain’t a cop, are ya?”Unfortunately, the police code states an officer must reveal himself, even if undercover, if someone asks him for his identity.  The cop is then forced to disclose his identity, prompting the crime boss to swiftly “dispose of the rat”.

Could you imagine if Jack Nicholson did this to Leo DiCaprio in The Departed?  A two and a half hour masterpiece would’ve turned into a 20 minute snuff film because the always insane Nicholson would showered the entire set with Leo D’s brain matter.  Fortunately for the brave folks in the police department this “entrapment law” is nonsense.  Typically, the “entrapment” law is invoked by criminals who feel they were unfairly deceived into committing a crime.  And entrapment certainly is deceptive because that’s the entire point of entrapment.  Example:  a cheated business man attempts to hire a contract killer to eliminate his scummy partner.  He solicits the services of a contract killer (who is actually an undercover police officer), but before he actually crosses the line into illegal territory he stops to ask, “Hey, you aren’t a cop, right?”  If the cop is legally required to say “yes, I’m a cop, idiot” then that kind of defeats the purpose of conducting police work, since bad guys can always ask first before doing bad guy stuff.  Giving the cop the ability to lie allows the business partner to exchange the necessary incriminating evidence before the undercover police officer quickly acquaints the perp’s head with his fist.

George Washington had wooden teeth

George Washington was a lot of things; a relatively unsuccessful military general, a mildly successful harbinger of morality, and a profoundly successful leader.  Unfortunately, he was also the victim of pretty terrible hygienic practices and 18th century density, meaning his teeth were all sorts of wrecked, to put it eloquently.  By the time he was 24, he was already paying doctors to rip the offending molars from his horrible mouth.  When he became president, he literally had a single tooth left in his mouth, and since bare-toothed grin is less “presidential” and more “nightmare fuel”, the first leader of the United States opted for a glowing set of wooden dentures which would become his famous trademark.

Except he didn’t.  In fact, of all the terrifying materials he did use to make his dentures, wood was starkly absent.  Washington’s dentures were made of gold, ivory, donkey teeth, metal and teeth from dead slaves.  Basically, the contents of his mouth went from Marshawn Lynch to Jeffery Dahmer in the span of a singular sentence.  No one is really sure where the myth involving Washington’s wooden teeth began, but some speculate it’s because later in his life his donkey slave teeth took on a brown, grainy appearance that looked like wood.  As visually disgusting as that description is, it kind of hides the fact wooden dentures would’ve been a ridiculous accessory in the first place.  Even by the lofty standards of the late 1700’s, wood wasn’t the best material to put in your mouth, especially when superior material existed that wouldn’t break down and turn into pulp.  And anyone who owns a deck can attest to the woody, earthy tones the deck gives off after a rainstorm.  Now, imagine the stench that would’ve eluded from the mouth of an aging, 18th century man whose dental hygiene was on par with the most meth-riddled hill person in all of West Virginia if he had wooden teeth.  Yeah.

Catherine O’Leary’s cow destroys Chicago

A cautionary tale which truly allows people to appreciate eating beef.  On October 8th, 1871, Catherine O’Leary’s cow managed to kick over a lantern in her downtown Chicago barn (a description which may need context) and burn down half the city.  The Great Chicago Fire killed nearly 300 people, destroyed 17,000 buildings, and causes $222 million in 1871 damages, which is like, $450 trillion in current day damages (might be exaggerating).  Nearly a third of the city was destroyed, and all because of a stupid cow.

Interestingly, and apparently not suspicious to 1871 fire marshals, there were apparently several other fires across the Midwest the day, several of which occurred in Chicago alone.  Additionally, several other suspicious activities occurred in the hours leading up to the fire, such as several burly, unsavory characters enjoying a surly, unsavory poker game in O’Leary’s barn, and a man named Pegleg Sullivan apparently stole milk from the barn.  So while a group of drunk, angry poker players knocking over a lantern and setting the barn on fire or a vagrant torching the barn after stealing milk are both plausible and believable theories, the city of Chicago needed a scapegoat.  Do you know what the city of Chicago hated more than anything back in 1871?  It wasn’t the Packers; it was the Irish.  Irish immigrants were seen as a particularly unsightly bunch in Chicago, especially since they were actually beginning to gain legs in the city’s political parties.  And if the name “Catherine O’Leary” sounded any more Irish-Catholic it would be eating potatoes and chasing a pot of gold.  So Chicago had its scapegoat (scapecow?) — an aging, poor, Irish Catholic woman, with each word of that description becoming increasingly offensive to the population of Chicago back then.  Fortunately, O’Leary and her cow were later exonerated of blame with Michael Adhern, the heroic reporter who first reported the story (and blamed O’Leary) admitting he lied…23 years later.

Vomitoriums 

Really, in the grand scheme of things, no one could party quite like the Romans. The hate-murdered each other in the Coliseum, the orchestrated complicated and incestuous treaties with Northern African empires, and they loved eating, drinking, and being merry.  A typical Roman feast involved several enormous courses of some of the finest foods and wines imaginable; a feast truly fit for a king.  However, all the purging was difficult, and you certainly didn’t want to skip on dessert because you were too full from the fourth course.  Thankfully, Roman buildings had built-in Vomitoriums where people could go between courses, talks about sports, make future plans, exchange business cards, and expel copious amounts of their stomach contents all over the place.  Of course they had to vomit everywhere!  It’s called a Vomitorium.

A vomitorium is not a predetermined locale for rambunctious Roman peoples to blast puke wherever the want.  This is disgusting even by their standards.  Vomitoriums do exist, but they are infinitely more boring than the implied meaning.  In Italian vomo means “to spew forth”, kind of like what Julius Caesar did between meals so he could still eat cake for dessert.  However, in the Roman Coliseum, the Vomitorium was an arch-like entrance into the grand stage inside of the actual theatre.  This entrance would “spew forth” the entrainment, so to speak.  In fact, vomitoriums exist in every major sports stadium in the world, allowing the home team the opportunity to run onto the field and knock over a few cheerleaders in the process.  This is now known, less hilariously, as running out of the tunnel.

Bulls charge when they see the color red

In one of the most pointless acts of grotesque violence on the planet, bull fighting is an extremely popular sport in Spain.  Matadors in Spain are revered to a level like One Direction or Creed here in the United States, and they enjoy all the perks of being professional athletes without any of the upkeep (more people on earth would probably recognize Cayetano Rivera Ordonez than Patrick Willis, who can hold a plank for 8 minutes and bench press 500 pounds).  It’s not really as much of a bull “fight” as it is “wave a red flag at a bull until it charges and I stab it in the heart and kill it”.  The bulls can’t really help it though; the color red infuriates them to the point where they charge the matador.  They simply hate the color red.

Bulls don’t see color.  While they would make for an excellent civil rights leader, they make for pretty awful decipherers of refracted lights.  In fact, you could be in the crowd wearing a horrible red shirt, and the bull will charge you — but only to tell you that you have awful taste in fashion.  However, if you start waving the shirt, the bull will gore you with his horns and break your entire face.  This is because bulls couldn’t care less what color something is; they don’t like stuff being waved in their faces.  Let’s say you are born and bred to be the best linebacker in school history.  You are such a great linebacker, you retire to a place where your only job is to impregnate women to produce more amazing linebackers like yourself.  One day, some guys in pink pants come and take you away your comfortable life and takes you to a stadium full of people there to see you fail.  You are agitated beyond belief and then released into the center of the stadium where you see a young, well-dressed quarterback, roses at his feet, and he’s holding onto a football.  Sure, you’re annoyed, seeing everyone cheer for him, women scream his name, and the country just generally lose their minds over him but whatever; he’s not really bothering you.  But then, he faces you and puts a big stupid grin on his face.  He begins waving the football around as if to say, “Come sack me, bro.”  This infuriates you, and every instinct in your body is telling you to go sack the quarterback, so you charge him.  Congratulations, you now understand why a bull instinctively attempts to shed a few years off of that smug, womanly matador.

Vaccines make your kids autistic 

Clearly, Jenny McCarthy knows what she’s talking about, which is an introductory sentence I’m almost afraid to write even ironically for the fear it will destroy all of my credibility as a writer.  As a champion for the anti-vaccination cause, McCarthy and many others point to a study conducted by Andrew Wakefield back in 1997 which stated he found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.  Well, there you have it.  A respected researcher published an article in a medical journal and reported his findings.  Case closed.

If Andrew Wakefield’s ego grew every time he told a lie, like Pinocchio’s nose, he would be Kanye West.  You see, Wakefield straight up lied about the link between vaccines and autism, falsified the bogus data even further, and did all of this for financial gain.  In fact, Wakefield has been found guilty of doing this and is no longer allowed to practice medicine anymore, with his hoax being categorized as one of the most damaging medical frauds in the history of history.  Just to make sure Wakefield wasn’t on to something, though, actual, real, non-financially motivated scientists went back to test this link and found….not a thing.  No scientific evidences exists which supports vaccines cause autism in children.  So for anyone blindly following the ramblings of Jenny McCarthy just try to remember that not vaccinating your children because you think it will give them autism is as stupid as following the ramblings of Jenny McCarthy.

Five “Facts” that can easily be debunked

I remember a few years ago when Snapple had a brilliant marketing campaign where they printed facts under the caps of their calorie-bomb high fructose corn syrup drinks.  I was amazed because I grew up as a trivia fiend, although this wasn’t by choice.  You see, as a young man, my family often had game nights and the family favorite was Trivial Pursuit.  My mom, an extremely intelligent lady, held absolutely nothing back during the games, utterly crushing the mind and soul of myself and my brother.  Losing an innocent family game night because you couldn’t quite remember who all was present during the signing of the Treaty of Versailles or an inability to recall the specifics of the Magna Carta is a tough pill to swallow as an 8 year-old.  Any way, my infatuation with trivia and random facts has grown ever since that day, and the popularity of Trivia Crack has me all sentimental over trivia.  However, a sinister plot that I suspect is the work of Tupac’s ghost is leading certain bits of widely believed rumors to be held as fact, even though their falsity can be easily proven.

Fact #1: The Eisenhower Interstate System as a runway

It is widely believed the Eisenhower Interstate system, in addition to expediting travel times of overweight beach goers, serves as an important tool should the United States ever come under invasion of a foreign enemy.  If a plane is flying over the Midwest and needs to ground for an immediate emergency landing, the pilot quickly finds himself in a bit of a pickle.  Fortunately, the Eisenhower Interstate System has devised a plan to help this desperate pilot; they went ahead and made one out of every five miles of the interstates in the United States completely straight to act as a runway in the event of an emergency landing.  Thanks, Ike!

Did you know that almost a quarter of all the cars driven in the United States utilize the Eisenhower Interstate System?  That’s around 62 million vehicles.  The entirely of the Interstate System is basically 47,000 miles, meaning on average, there are nearly 1,300 cars per mile using the Interstates.  Obviously, this figure is slightly flawed, as each of these 62 million cars isn’t traveling on the roads every day and there certainly isn’t 1,300 cars occupying a single mile of road space at a given time, but let’s say there are, I don’t know, 30 cars in a given mile of interstate space.  Landing a plane on a commercial runway takes two extremely skilled professionals and a tower of people whose sole purpose is to keep the runway free of other “distractions”.  Point being, landing a plane is hard, much harder considering the implications of running into a moving car.  “But what if there’s an emergency?” you foolishly ask.  Time for a second “did you know?”  Did you know there are over 15,000 commercial airports in the United States.  Not JFK Airport huge, but certainly Jefferson County Airport sized.  If 15,000 still doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that right now, there are currently less than 15,000 McDonald’s restaurants operating in the United States.  In this country, the chances of finding a runway are greater than eating a Big Mac.  So in short, the Interstates are NOT made so one out of every five miles is perfectly straight, and the US Department of Transportation is happy to debunk that myth as well.  The Eisenhower Highway System is in place partially to assist the United States military in the event of an emergency, but it’s mostly to aid ground forces in transporting their gigantic trucks and equipment in a more convenient, expedited fashion.

Fact #2 – Dragonflies only live for a day

Ah, summertime.  Warm weather, a cold glass of lemonade, a day spent out at the lake and OH MY GOD WHAT’S THAT GIANT BUG KILL IT KILL IT WITH FIRE AHHHHHHH!!!  Dragonflies; the giant, terrifying flying insects that sound like massage chairs are a summertime staple, scaring the ever-loving bejesus out of the tranquil, ornery lake goer.  Fortunately, the insidious, depraved, insect-fearing sect of society can rest easy knowing that horrible, ugly bug they saw earlier that afternoon will be dead by the next day, because dragonflies only live for a day!

Could you imagine going from filling diapers with soggy poop as a baby to filling diapers with soggy poop as an adult in a single day?  Because, if dragonflies truly are cursed with a 24-hour life cycle, they are undergoing the entirely of their maturing process in half of a workweek.  Although a dragonfly will likely never witness the Super Bowl, they can rest easy knowing their biggest predators, such as reptiles or amphibians will die horrible, slow deaths since they are unable to sustain a population.  Lucky for this mosquitos though!  Without dragonflies eating mosquitos the population of the world’s most annoying creature who isn’t Anna Kendrick will surely take off.  But, have you noticed a distinct abundance of dead, decaying frogs?  Are you currently enslaved by a race of mosquito overlords?  No to both of those?  Well thank God dragonflies live a lot longer than a day.  In fact, most dragonflies have a life cycle of at least six months, while some can live to become 6-7 years old.  Even in their adult flying stage, most dragonflies live for a minimum of four months.  If you’re thinking four months still isn’t a very long lifespan for a giant, carnivorous, flying insect, you are correct, but it’s not as if adult dragonflies are simply dying of natural causes.  Dragonflies have a long, extensive list of predators and the irregularity of their ecosystem often means they aren’t able to find food, meaning the number one cause of dragonfly death is starvation.  To suggest dragonflies have a life cycle of only a day is kind of like suggesting the average lifespan of a citizen in the Soviet Union is 1943 was roughly two years.  In fact, no insect, even mayflies, have a 24-hour lifespan.  So next time someone talks about how short of a lifespan bugs have, you can tell them their lifespan is short, and then instantly walk away without another word, leaving them to think horrible, morbid thoughts.  Speaking of bugs dying…

Fact #3 – A drop of alcohol on a scorpion will cause it to sting itself to death

What I assume to be a future serial killer came across a stunning revelation when he was presumably torturing innocent animals: a drop of alcohol on a scorpion will cause it to immediately sting itself to death.  It makes sense, in theory.  We all had a buddy in college who would go out, hammer about five or six vodka Red Bulls and then be ready to rumble.  He would hit the streets just begging for an altercation to become physical.  He was so hopped up on energy and adrenaline his beer muscles were flexing harder than ever and he wanted nothing more than to snarl like an animal and commit aggravated assault.  Now picture a scorpion; a tiny, relatively harmless (that’s an article for another day), unassuming desert creature.  If a few shots of Goose turn your 240-lb frat brother into the incredible Hulk imagine what a few drops of rubbing alcohol would do to a tiny, little scorpion.  Well, some twisted murderer tried this and discovered scorpions will go totally insane if alcohol is administered to their backs, and they will even sting themselves to death!  That’s hardcore!

A similar myth about lobsters exists.  Namely, it states lobsters “scream” when dipped into boiling water.  Fortunately, the explanation isn’t that insidious, as the audible screeching sound is actually just steam escaping the shell.  Still a horrible way to die, but at least the lobster dies a relatively quick, painless death.  But as you can see, lobsters aren’t becoming self-aware and possessing mammalian qualities, so why would a scorpion?  Scorpions are a pretty amazing specifics.  They are extremely venomous, they are excellent hunters, and most importantly, they play can defense, possessing a thick, outer exoskeleton made of chitin, which is basically a less cool name for bug armor.  Underneath this layer of bug armor contains all the scorpion’s important parts; it’s central nervous system, digestive system, the part that makes it cry during sad movies, etc.  The scorpion’s muscular system is essentially a system of pulleys, allowing muscles to contract inward, but not outward, which can easily be seen by the bend of the scorpions stinger.  Pop quiz time.  What is one of the major effects alcohol has on the human body?  If you said vomit and poor decisions, that’s technically correct, but I was looking for dehydration.  Specifically, if alcohol is able to penetrate a “crack in the armor” (like, say, a ridge covering the attachment muscles of a scorpion) the alcohol could severely dehydrate the body.  Since a scorpion’s muscles operate in a similar manner as humans (meaning they need blood to activate the muscles) dehydration could lead to a sudden loss of hydraulic function in the muscles.  If this were to happen, the muscles could all begin to seize and contract automatically, meaning the scorpion has no control over it’s body, including it’s stinger.  Unfortunately, the positioning of the stinger means scorpion are often the victims of their own fatal sting. The “drunk, insane” scorpion isn’t stinging itself to death because it’s gone mad, it’s being murdered because dehydration has compromised it’s muscular system, effectively causing it to inadvertently sting itself to death.  So, first guy who tried this experiment, you weren’t testing a cool theory about the effects and getting a crazy scorpion drunk, you were causing an innocent creature to have a seizure until it accidentally killed itself, you murderer.

Fact #4 – Einstein failed math in school and was a terrible student

Every directionless slacker with a heart of gold is greeted with the same motivational message every year; “the great Albert Einstein was once a stupid idiot just like you”.  It’s certainly an inspiring message: the underachieving, goof-off student who struggled through high school went on to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.  It’s on par with the story about Michael Jordan failing to make the varsity team his sophomore year of high school, only to attend the greatest basketball college in America two years later.  But, even the most lost souls can relate to Einstein.  “Hey, if this goofy guy with his tongue hanging out can become a world-renowned genius, then so can I.”

In fact, Einstein was once asked about this inspiring situation.  How did it make him feel going from a mathematics failure in school to becoming one of the greatest minds of all time?  Simple, because he didn’t fail math.  In fact, by Einstein’s own admission, he had already mastered integral and differential calculus at age 15, and at age 12 he was already voluntarily teaching himself more advanced math because his class was moving along too slowly for him.  His parents bought him books so he could teach himself even more math over summer vacation and his was constantly trying to replicate and discover new theoretical frameworks at a time most of us have yet to hold hands with a girl.  Now, Einstein was a bit of a troublemaker in school, as his “class clown” label seemed to fit, but only because he was constantly questioning the authority of his teachers.  Safe to say, this disrespect for “the man” can probably be chalked up to his working knowledge of advanced calculus as a pre-teen.  The message portrayed to lazy kids that they too can one day become Albert Einstein is perpetrating a lie, and offensive to both Einstein and the kids.  A kid who spends his summer vacation picking his nose and playing Call of Duty will never become Einstein, and it’s offensive and immoral to even get the kid’s hopes up.  Aim lower, American schools.  And please, stop making those stupid posters with Einstein’s face on them.

Fact #5 – The Great Wall of China is visible from space

The Great Wall of China.  Constructed in 200 B.C. by the Qin Dynasty, the 13,000 mile wall was made to keep those vicious, horrible Mongolians out of China.  And, boy did it work.  In fact, the massive size of the wall, coupled with its staggering length make it the only man-made objective observable from space.  It’s even been claimed the Great Wall is visible from the moon!

First of all, defining “space” is a rather subjective terminology.  If you consider space being “on the moon” this would make the Great Wall roughly 230,000 miles from that giant, white rock in the sky.  At a staggering average width of 30 feet, viewing the Wall from the moon would be equivalent to viewing a singular human hair from two miles away.  But what about low-earth orbit?  That’s only like 100 miles in the atmosphere, and that counts as “space”, and you can definitely see the Wall from the height.  And guess what, you sure can!  But you can also see a bunch of other man-made structures from that height, some being way clearer than the Great Wall.  The rumor about “seeing the moon from space” originated as nothing more than a bout of hyperbole to describe to the penniless heathens who can’t afford a trip to China the magnitude and size of the Wall.  Being the “only man-made structure visible from space” can definitely be attributed to a lack of research, a creative bout of propaganda, or sheer ignorance of fact.  So, one of the most popular, wide-believed facts is actually a total lie, and it’s so incredibly easy to disprove the use of research was almost redundant.

The Little League Conspiracy

It was truly too perfect.

A team of young, somewhat impoverished African-American boys from the inner city banded together to become the best little league baseball team in the United States.  Disney is probably already working on a film adaption.  Jackie Robinson West, in addition to becoming the first African-American team to win a Little League World Series U.S. Championship, also proved young, black males are participating (and exceeding) in baseball, a sport notorious for its rapid decline of African-American players.

Turns out it really was too good to be true.

Recently, the Little League International committee (which apparently is a thing) revoked JRW’s title and their wins after it was determined the team had brought in players who weren’t located within a specified district.  The heroic whistleblower was a man named Chris Janes, who in addition to having a Golden Gate-sized bridge to burn, coached a team JRW defeated 43-2 during the Little League season, because apparently the state of Illinois has abolished the 15-run rule in favor of teaching kids about hard knocks and dealing with heartbreak.

Despite beating teams by margins that even Nick Saban would call excessive, JRW became national sweethearts last summer as they “shocked the world” which seems difficult when you are beating teams by 40 runs.  Regardless, that short-lived summer of glowing optimism was quickly destroyed by the adults who oversea the operations of the Little League, a sore-loser rival coach, and most importantly, the coaches of JRW.

The coaches of JRW knowingly schemed their way into a World Series title.  Disturbingly, I’ve noticed many sportswriters denouncing the revoking of JRW’s wins.  “Don’t punish the children”, they cry to the heavens.  “It’s not a big deal!” they plead to the skies.  Interestingly, these are the same sportswriters who claimed the New England Patriots have “destroyed the integrity of the game” and “deserve to have the book thrown at them” because they used a couple of under inflated footballs during a game.  Meanwhile, they are defending a team who knowingly rostered several players from an unrelated area code.  If a football inflated one PSI below the minimum requirement is an “undeniable competitive advantage” I would love to hear how one of these sportswriters would describe the advantage afforded to a team fielding a six-foot three 210 pound 13-year old who can throw 83 miles per hour and hit 350 foot home runs.

Yeah, I’m not totally heartless; I’ll acknowledge the kids were either oblivious to what was happening, or told very staunchly to just shut up.  But the parents?  When their scrappy, but error prone second basemen was replaced by a kid who looks like Justin Houston surely some questions must’ve been raised.

The role the coaches played is even sadder.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Friday Night Tykes because it shows people no matter how stupid you might be, you will never be as stupid as a parent who is swearing at an 8-year old for missing a tackle.  But, the problem with shows like Tykes is it glorifies the reality of a ridiculously overzealous coach.  Keep in mind, this is a reality television show; producers aren’t intervening, offering to give these insane coaches treatment, or counseling kids.  They sit back, hope the two coaches get into an altercation and a kid goes to the hospital.

And now people want to complain because the Little League committee is “punishing the kids” because they took their title away.  I was a decent baseball player when I was younger, although I never came close to winning a Little League World Series, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that title meant infinitely more to the parents and coaches than it did to the kids.  Sure, they had fun and they accomplished something amazing, but most of those kids, right now, are doing what most 13-year olds do; struggle to talk to girls, make stupid life decisions which affect life and limb, and think about playing their next sport.  A 17-year old kid isn’t going to walk around bragging about winning the Little League World Series three years ago, because he’s still young and hasn’t hit his athletic prime, meaning he doesn’t want to “peak” as a 13-year old.  Besides, bragging out past athletic feats which were accomplished in high school is reserved for 37-year old guys who own class rings, and that fact is 100% true.

I’ve also seen several sportswriters ludicrously claim punishing the kids is sending the wrong message.  I’ll allow you to process the stupidity of that statement.  Basically, some are stating that punishing kids for being part of an enterprise that was knowingly and intentionally falsifying their team “isn’t the lesson we should be teaching.”  Apparently, cheating and altering the rules to get what you want is encouraged and shouldn’t be punished.  The lesson they want these kids to take away is “don’t worry, because even though you guys were part of a team which cheated its way to a thing it wanted, we aren’t going to punish you”.

Again, I want to clarify my stance; I don’t think the kids should be blamed.  But consider this fact: if you work at a restaurant and your manager is caught serving rotten chicken to customers, can you really blame the FDA for wanting to shut the entire restaurant down even though some of the employees aren’t guilty of anything?  If you said yes, you can blame them, have fun getting salmonella.

An open letter to Marvel and Sony

Dear studio executives,

Welp, it happened.  Sony and Marvel have done what I once thought was impossible by jointly deciding they would figure out how to make the Spider-Man movies watchable again.  I am optimistic, because while I wasn’t a fan of Iron Man, the Avengers, or any of the other billion superhero franchise Marvel seems bent on shoving down the world’s throat, I feel like the company which made Spider-Man could potentially rescue this franchise.  Although I have been underwhelmed with the film’s you’ve put out so far, I am confident you won’t completely ruin my favorite superhero.

That being said, I would like to congratulate Sony on ruining my favorite superhero.  Let’s get one thing straight, Sony, Peter Parker is the greatest superhero ever because he is basically a normal guy.  Sure, he has powers, but they aren’t as powerful Superman.  He has super strength, but he isn’t a raging hellbeast like the Hulk.  He’s an average, reasonably lonely, aimless teenager.  So while Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are both billionaires in their off time while Thor is the God of whatever planet Thor is god of, Peter Parker is riding his bike to school, working a crappy job, and having trouble with girls.  He’s the most realistic, relatable superhero in existence, and you guys went ahead and made him Andrew Garfield.  In case you weren’t aware, Sony, Andrew Garfield’s geeky nuances would’ve possibly passed as being genuinely nerdy a decade ago, I’ll give you that, but by casting what amounts to a young James Bond as Peter Parker is an insult to the insecure, lonely teenager that lives inside all of us.

Fortunately, Sony will be providing the capital for the picture (set to release in 2017) while Marvel will handle things on the creative end.

No pressure, guys, but I feel it’s worth noting myself, along with millions of other Spider-Man fans expect retributions for Spider-Man 3.  To this day I’ll never figure out how you (Marvel) managed to ruin the final installment of the Tobey McGuire Spider-Man movies by delivering an absolute laughingstock of a film.  Spider-Man was an amazing introduction to the trilogy, while I consider Spider-Man 2 to be one of the greatest superhero films ever made.  You then followed up by producing a two hour melodrama punctuated by a climatic end scene where the evil Topher Grace is defeated by smashing a bunch of metal together.  If that sentence had any more problems, even Jenny McCarthy would want to vaccinate it.  What’s worse, is Spider-Man 3 easily could’ve been the best film of the series.  You have Peter Parker facing the reality of his best friend becoming aware of his identity of Spider-Man, and the best friend, Harry Osbourne is in the process of killing Spider-Man at all costs to avenge his father.  But, rather than exploring this very dark theme by including an entire storyline based on this fact, the producers decided to kill off the “evil” Harry Osbourne by forcing him into suffering a comical brain injury within the first 10 minutes of the film.  We could’ve been the decisive, centering theme of the movie basically devolved into turning James Franco in Pineapple Express James Franco.  Oh, and back to Topher Grace.  You finally did a film about what could arguably be the greatest Spider-Man villain of all time with Venom, but then went ahead and cast the guy from That 70’s Show as the series’ ultimate nemesis?  I can’t even think of a witty comparison because I’ve never seen it happen, but this would be the equivalent of casting Sheldon Cooper as Magneto in the next X-Men.  The most offensive gaffe of all, however, as Parker coming face to face with the Sandman, or Flint Marco, who was revealed to be Peter’s uncle’s killer.  After chasing Marco for the entirety of the film, Parker and Marco come face to face at the end of the film, only to have Marco disclose a sob story to Parker about his uncle’s murder being “an accident”.  Although this did turn out to be the truth, Parker gave almost no resistance to this statement, effectively stating, “yeah, bro, we good” as he watched Marco disappear into the horizon.  Now, excuse my cynical thinking but if you came face to face with the guy you know for a fact killed your mom, would a simple explanation of “dude, my bad, it was an accident” be sufficient enough for you to say “you know what man, yeah, we’re good, now get out of here because the cops are looking for you, because let’s not forget, you are still a wanted criminal.”

Needless to say, Spider-man 3 ultimately set the bar pretty low.  But Sony, if you remember, you guys went ahead and lowered that bar even farther by producing films that presented Peter Parker as if he were Otto Rocket and Zach Morris mixed together. Marvel, as a Disney-owned corporation, of course, is no stranger to lowering the bar, as the Eric Bana Hulk movie still haunts me to this day.  But then again, if you are attempting three reboots of the same subject matter in a 16-year period, that doesn’t say too much for the confidence in the storylines.  I just find it extremely disturbing that by the time a kid graduates high school in 2017, he will have been alive for as many Spider-Man reboots as he has Presidents of the United States.

So please, Marvel and Sony, don’t disappoint me like Spider-Man 3 or anything Andrew Garfield has ever done.

Why the Brian Williams controversy matters

Brian Williams, perhaps the face of NBC as the host of the Nightly News, has been suspended without pay for six months after irregularities with stories he claimed emerged over the last several weeks.  Most notably, Williams was said to have embellished events he experienced during the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina, stating he had “misremembered details” or “gotten his wording confused” when confronted by individuals who were able to dispute Williams’ story.  Ironically, Williams had just signed a 10-year contract extension to remain with NBC, the memo for which stated”Brian Williams is one of the most trusted journalists in history.”

Disturbingly, public opinion seems to be split on this matter.  Some are calling for Williams to be fired, banned from news television, and presumably stoned to death.  Others, however, are claiming society is overreacting to the news, his actions aren’t really a big deal, and he should be retained by the company.

So, how exactly is society supposed to react when the 21st century’s Walter Cronkite is accused of, more or less, being a liar?  Well, first it’s worth considering the fact that Williams is a 22-year news veteran.  If the new barista at Starbucks messes up a Venti Chai Latte on her first day, it written off as inexperience.  An eight-year NFL veteran dropping a wide open pass is considered a lapse of focus.  A 15-year bartender who forgets to count her drawer at the end of the night has made a careless mistake.  A 22-year news vet who embellishes a news story is a liar.  And that’s fair.  As level of experience increases, it’s natural to accept  a heavier burden containing more responsibility.  This is expected but mistakes are wont to happen, though.  Citing a source incorrectly is a mistake.  Stuttering on camera  is a mistake.  When facts of a specific instance are knowingly altered, it suggests a more insidious occurrence has taken place.

Journalists get a bad rap in society these days.  Often times, the term “journalism” is often associated with corruption, pushing agendas, hiding sources, or withholding facts.  Personally, I take offense to such a notion, as a journalist typically contains the same moral fiber as anyone.  Sure, there are journalists who are liars, thieves, and scumbags.  Even Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post heroes broke the Watergate story which led to Nixon’s demise only were able to break the story because they wanted to set an agenda, (that is, the impeachment of Nixon) and were accused of harboring a liberal bias.  Jayson Blair of the New York Times, literally, flat-out lied on numerous occasions.  Other examples of corruption exist, but overall, journalists are no more distrustful than people of any calling.  If the kid at McDonald’s steals a $20 bill out of a cash register, people don’t automatically assume all McDonald’s employees are thieves.  They rationalize the situation, realize there was a bad apple and don’t stereotype the rest of the McDonald’s workforce, so why should journalism be the same?

Anyway, getting back on track.  Williams, a 22-year news veteran, is well aware of the implications of his actions.  In fact, he basically spit on every journalistic principle or shred of ethical thinking he ever learned.  More than anything, a journalist is responsible for acting as a bridge between the happenings of the world and the eyes of the viewer.  Namely, society much trust a journalist to deliver information they don’t necessarily have access to, such as a frontline view of the Iraq War.  Obviously, Williams’ telling was interesting, heroic, action-packed, and gives Chris Kyle a real run for his money as far as American heroes are concerned.  However, Williams’ Hollywood tale of gritty heroism lacks any sort of, well, real-ness.  Of course his story seemed more awesome to the viewer, because “I was in a helicopter that was shot down” sounds infinitely cooler than “I watched a helicopter get shot down from the safety of Mother Earth.”

Sadly, Williams, a respected, world-renowned media presence has effectively turned his storied and illustrious career into a joke.  The optimist in me tells me that Williams, other than these couple of instances of baffling buffoonery, has acted with the highest level of journalistic integrity for the duration of his career.  Let’s switch gears for a minute.  In Super Bowl XIII with the Cowboys trailing the Steelers 21-14 late in the third quarter, Roger Staubach found a wide-open Jackie Smith in the back of the end zone for the game tying score.  However, the usually sure-handed Smith dropped the easy touchdown, and the Cowboys would go on the lose the game by four points.  In fact, I would be willing to bet anyone reading this only knows Jackie Smith as “the guy who embarrassingly dropped that ridiculously easy touchdown catch.”  Jackie Smith was also a five time All-Pro and is currently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  And that one, single play has defined the entirety of his professional identity.  And this was an NFL tight end, not the face of a multinational news conglomerate.  Williams has only been suspended for six months, and while some might say “just call it a day and ride into the sunset, dude”, Williams is cashing a nearly $10 million a year paycheck from NBC.  He would be insane to walk away from that kind of capital.  So, Williams will be back, but what then?  How is anyone watching the Nightly News going to take him seriously knowing six months ago he lied about seeing a dead body during Hurricane Katrina.

I’m willing to give Williams the benefit of the doubt because while I do believe he intentionally, knowingly falsified storied, he’s also been a reasonably reliable, nationally recognized and lauded figure amongst the news media, and he’s certainly easier to like than anyone on The View.  But, with that said, he severely jeopardized his career, his legacy, and worst of all, his own integrity.