Wednesday, June 13

 

Thursday, September 29

Point/Otherpoint: Coffee

Today is National Coffee Day, which we're assured is a 100% legitimate holiday and not just something cooked up in a Starbucks marketing department somewhere, and baristas everywhere are celebrating by...well, by being forced to work even harder to accomodate all the mooches wanting their free cup of coffee. But is coffee all it's cracked up to be? Sean Adams and Randall Cleveland argue their points as fiercely as they would fight for the mud cup...

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Wednesday, August 31

Point/Otherpoint: Dogs in the Workplace

Since it's Pet Week on the Woot blog, we've asked some of today's most brilliant thinkers - ourselves - to explore the most vital question in human-canine relations today: should dogs be allowed into the workplace? Jason Toon and Randall Cleveland debate the question like two back-alley mutts fighting over a discarded bag of Jack in the Box curly fries. Remember, we kid because we love...

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Friday, March 18

 

Tuesday, November 23

 

Thursday, December 10

Point/Otherpoint: The Norwegian Spiral in the Sky

by Randall Cleveland

I think that was a Russian rocket!

By now you've probably heard of the mysterious spiral light show over Norway this morning. It was captured on video by dozens of people and seen across a huge swath of Northern Norway. Well I've examined the videos available and I have to say this looks to be some sort of misfired Russian rocket.

Something seen in the sky across such a large area would have to be at a tremendous altitude. Almost as high, say, as a satellite launch or test run for a missile or rocket of some kind. Also, the blue spiral appears to be a matter of perspective, as a rocket twisting around would appear to make tight spirals while far away and larger ones as it got closer. Now the white spiral pinwheeling in the sky could only occur if the object was moving more or less perpendicular to the observer (i.e. coming right for you), which would account for the illusion of a stationary spin. Whatever is being dumped from this rocket, be it exhaust, fuel, horrible chemical weapons, etc. is simply escaping in a straight line while the center rotates.

Now Norwegians aren't known for very many rocket tests, as they tend to spend a lot of military efforts on infantry trained to defend the fjords. Their space program is also pretty relaxed and, if it was launching something, probably would've had an announcement of some kind.

Really the only country nearby with this kind of technology and a motivation to be testing high-altitude rockets is Russia. What they're planning, and what we may have accidentally had revealed to us, we may not know until it's too late.

Sincerely,

Gary Baxter
Amateur Astronomer




Hey, that definitely was not a Russian rocket!

Hello my good friends,

I am writing to you from Zvyozdny gorodok at a…uh, training facility. For…science. Yes. Anyway, I was logging on to my ROL account to check my email when one of the newsgroups I subscribe to posted a story about some lights in Norway.

Totally weird, man!

Some crazy people are suggesting, get this, that WE did it! Crazy, right? I mean look at that video. We don't have anything that cool, believe me! Nope, we're still all "rolling iron" and rusted tanks and sunk submarines. Nothing to see here. This? This looks like aliens, to me. Yeah. Aliens.

Think about it. What reason do we have to test high-altitude intercontinental ballistic missiles? What? I didn't say ICBM, you said it. Are you sure? I'm pretty sure you said it first because otherwise I would have no reason to even bring up such a funny word!

Plus, who would we even want to shoot with this thing? America? Come on, we've been pals ever since you guys won that war of attrition and our economy collapsed. What? Are we gonna join forces with China and try to jumpstart a neo-Communist worldwide revolution by taking down a severely overextended superpower? Like we'd even think of that sort of thing!

Just wanted to let you guys know it totally wasn't us. Just to show we're on the same team, we've dispatched a covert Special Forces unit into Northern Norway to retrieve any pieces that might have fallen off the missi-…space ship.

Yours,

Vladimir Putin
 

PS
Everyone in Norway should turn off their video cameras and not look up tomorrow night.

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Tuesday, November 24

Point/Otherpoint: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Presenting the second in a series of probing debates on the least controversial issues of our time. For this installment of Point/Otherpoint, Jason Hinklin-Lauderdale and Scott Lydon come to verbal blows over a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. No, not canned cranberry sauce. That debate was settled long ago: it's gross.

Macy's? Why Don't You Just Mace Me? by Scott Lydon

Now, let’s be fair, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has a long and grand tradition, and we respect that. Its worth keeping in mind that, back in the mid-twenties, giant balloons were truly cutting-edge technology. Considering that, it’s obvious that the Macy’s parade of old was sort of like CES today: a chance for the common people to marvel at the toys only available to the ultra rich and stare at a fat guy with a long, unkempt beard.

But today, with a Santa in every store and the Internet in every home, the joy of walking right behind eight tiny pooping reindeer for about forty city blocks sort of loses its charm. Sure, it’s a great way to help poorly known soap opera actors pad out their resumes, but so are Roger Corman movies, and they don’t show those all morning long. Hey, as long as we brought it up, why can’t we start a new tradition with a Death Race 2000 Thanksgiving Special? Some guy dressed as Spider-Man driving a red and blue car into a Garfield-shaped van would really get people ready for an afternoon of football, don’t you think? Fox Sports, where you at on this one, huh?

Naturally, anyone can understand why the Macy’s Parade was so loved by the simple people of the Greatest Generation and their hard-earned families, but today, most of those people can’t even understand what the words “media player” mean. In this 21st Century world, the Macy’s parade exists for one reason only: to give the people who aren’t cooking something they can pretend to be watching when they run out of things to talk about. It’s time to admit that this tourist trap, although an excellent way to irritate lifelong New Yorkers, has overstayed its welcome.

I Love A Parade by Jason Hinklin-Lauderdale

There is only one parade in the whole world that has the ability to bring an Internet meme to life and embarrass an entire country, and that parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A time-honored tradition used to keep kids out of the kitchen while Mom slaves away at another meal that Grandpa will be disappointed with, it marks the official start of the Holidays, even if the department stores have had decorations and trees available since Halloween.

THRILL AT THE HIGH SCHOOL BANDS! There may be some debate as to which parade is the Big Dance for band nerds, Macy’s or the Rose Bowl, but Macy’s is the one that’s going to make Mom and Dad the proudest. Year after, they’ll still be showing the minute and a half clip of their son or daughter drumming along to the theme from Rocky just before it’s cut off by Alfonso Ribeiro singing "Silver Bells" at every Thanksgiving dinner.

MARVEL AT THE GIANT BALLOONS! Great was the man that watched those first few parades in the 1920’s and said, “Yeah, it’s nice and all, but you know what this thing really needs? Giant freakin’ balloons.” Since Felix The Cat made his grand debut in 1927, great leaps in balloon technology have given us bigger and better aerial wonders, capable of awesome feats of destruction should they get away from their handlers. And let’s be honest, we’re all secretly hoping one gets away, aren’t we? It’s like watching NASCAR. You don’t really WANT an accident to happen, per se, but, boy, it sure is exciting when one does.

SANTA CHRISTMAS-LOVIN’ CLAUS! While you may have already seen the fake Ho-Ho-Ho’s in your malls already, this is the only parade with the “official” Santa Claus, marking the beginning of Nice Season. The Great Red Giftgiver is officially on the job as of the final moment of the parade. The Naughty List has begun, Santa’s spooky network of spies and operatives will be activated immediately, and every child in the world is ON NOTICE. That’s right, kids. You might have gotten away with a few things months previous, but it’s time to straighten up and help Mom with the dishes after dinner or face the awful punishment of coal. It is both a whimsical ending and a frightening reminder to children everywhere.

In the end, beyond the floats, the balloons, and the lip-synched Broadway hits and Christmas favorites, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still stands today as a powerful reminder of our heritage as Americans, a heritage built on high-concept marketing and capitalism. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Photo: Ronald McDonald balloon by Flickr user Ben+Sam, used under a Creative Commons License.

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Tuesday, November 03

Point/Otherpoint: Whither the Undershirt?

by Jason Toon & Scott Lydon

Presenting the first in a series of probing debates on the least controversial issues of our time. For this installment of Point/Otherpoint, Jason Toon and Scott Lydon ponder the future of the men's undershirt.

Put It On by Jason Toon

A gentlemen always remains discreet on certain matters. The precise contours of his nipples. The density of his chest hair. The moisture pooling under his arms and down his back. The racist chest tattoos he received in prison. (Hey, you don't know what it's like in there. You have to get with your own kind to survive.)

For this, he relies on the humble undershirt. Like the best personal valet, it's there when he needs it and invisible when he doesn't. Hidden safely behind the cotton curtain, his nauseating intimacies cannot damage his social standing, offend his peers, or chase off the chicks. Whatever goes on under there, it'll be their little secret. No undershirt ever wrote a tell-all memoir or sold its master's secrets to the tabloid press. Its heart is true; it's a pal and a confidant.

In the spirit of discretion, I'll pass lightly over the nipple-chafing issue, saying only this: it sucks to have chafed nipples. A gentleman should not have to choose between papillar comfort and his cherished burlap guayabera.

When it comes to displays of conspicuous consumption, an undershirt is perhaps the least vulgar way to say "We both know I'm better than you." Haven't I the right to enjoy the fruits of my spectacular natural talent and my unerring instinct for excellence? Anyone who doesn't approve is invited to get his own undershirts and watch the positive effect it will have on his bearing and manner. As it happens, I know a wonderful source of undershirts that I'd be glad to share. It's called Target.

Now, this apologia should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of wearing an undershirt as an overshirt anywhere outside a basketball court. But we, as a society, also frown on those who wear their underpants on the outside without prohibiting the garment itself...for now. If the baying anti-undergarment mob has its way, who knows?

Take It Off by Scott Lydon

Sure, it comes in handy when you need to swagger around with a beer can, yelling to your neighbors about the Napoleonic code and why Meat Loaf is better than 2Pac, but on the whole, the undershirt is a relic we no longer need as a species.

First of all, the undershirt was invented around the time of the Spanish-American war. Remember the Maine? No? Well, then, why keep the undershirt around? Even the archaic Phone Excise Tax has been done away with. As newspapers are already learning the 21st Century is a very, very, very different place. With that in mind, why keep this relic of yellow journalism pressed to our chests, day in and day out, for even a second longer? Let us take the first forward steps to red and gold unitards and shiny shiny rocketpacks! Set our collective chest hair free!

Secondly, what does the undershirt mean? What does it truly say to the world? Obviously, it says to the world "Hey, I'm the kind of person who can afford to wear two shirts!" And, speaking strictly statistically, what sort of person is the most likely to be targeted by criminals? That's right, the person who has the most to lose. The person with the most shirts. Unless you're Superman or Robin, a second shirt is a good way to be marked as a target. What good will that second shirt be when you no longer have a television?

Don't keep giving in to the crypto-fascist undershirt industry. Take control of your wardrobe, and wear shirts the way they were intended. Against the skin. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to take off.

Photos taken from two scans by Flickr member cod_gabriel. Used under a Creative Commons License.

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