A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I love The Daily Show

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: 'You don't have the right to make me breathe in your filth'

So that this doesn't get off on the wrong foot, I have to admit that for a long time I didn't really care about second hand smoke. The ranting of anti-smoking campaigns on the subject seemed exaggerated, as if someone lighting a cigarette within sight of you could cause spontaneous human combustion.

Commercials featuring waitresses and bartenders who caught lung cancer because of the secondhand smoke they breathed for years didn't make me feel passionate about the issue; it made me wonder why they worked in those places for so long. My only problem with smokers was that they stunk, and being around them for any extended period of time made me stink of smoke as well. The choice between smoking or non-smoking in a restaurant was based on the wait time, and I came home from the bar more worried about the next day's hangover than the noxious fumes I'd been inhaling all night. We all have our vices, after all.

Then this summer the Surgeon General released what was described as a definitive report on the effects of secondhand smoke - The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. It wasn't so much an actual report as it was a consolidation and summary of almost all research on the subject in the past few decades. Written by 22 national experts and peer reviewed by 70 of the government's top scientists, it goes without saying that this report got a little bit of press coverage.

The verdict: there is a clear and undeniable health risk posed by secondhand smoke. It harms people in a significant way. Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke, either at home or at work, experience a 25 to 30 percent jump in risk of heart disease, a 20 to 30 percent jump in risk of lung cancer. Children exposed to secondhand smoke show appreciably increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as a litany of respiratory diseases and slowed lung growth. The scariest part to me, over 60 percent of children ages three to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke. These are just a few facts that stood out among the thousands.

Neither of my parents have ever smoked, but I do have asthma. I haven't suffered the symptoms of it since childhood, but when I did I sometimes had attacks so severe that they sent me into seizures. I know the clenching terror that comes with suddenly not being able to breathe for no reason other than catching a lungful of some aggravating substance that happened to be on a breeze that instant. This is another effect of secondhand smoke that I foolishly didn't consider. Breathing smoke into some people's face creates the same reaction as punching them in the chest, leaving them gasping for a breath when all they did was walk near you. Full column here

Sometimes I wish that the departments in UNCG communicated more. Imagine the power a phone call could have:

Housing employee - Hey there, this is [NAME] from Housing. How are you?
Other dept. employee - What?
Housing employee - I'm calling because we had a student go into an asthma attack from some smoke she inhaled outside the dorm, and we've decided to only allow smoking in certain zones.
Other dept. employee - Who is this?
Housing employee - We thought you guys might want to do the same thing too.
Other dept. employee - Who in the hell...
Housing employee - Since we only service 3,000 students and you have over 16,000 to deal with, it seems like you'd have more students to protect and would want to...
Other dept. employee - [voice in background] "Jim, who is that?" I don't know, someone is instigating change.
Housing employee - ...implement a similar program.
Other dept. employee - [voice in background] "HANG UP! HANG UP!" *CLICK*

FAUX NEWS: Sophomore student going to hit on that chick today

Sophomore going to hit on that chick today

Despite seven weeks of repeated failure, college sophomore Randy Biggs maintains that he is going to hit on the attractive blonde who sits in front of him in chemistry today, because she is totally into him.

"Today is the day," said Biggs. "I'm laying the mack down and she won't even know what hit her. But I know what's going to hit her. It's the mack truck I'm driving her way."

Though Biggs has yet to speak to or even make eye contact with the female, he is certain that she will fall for him as soon as he strikes up a conversation.

"All I gots to do is be like 'what up girl,' and she'll be all like 'you know.' Then it's on," explained Biggs. "I'm telling you dude, it's not even fair."

Biggs' roommate, Jacob Sutherlin, said that Biggs has been talking about the blonde every day since the beginning of class almost two months ago.

"I can just imagine him staring at her all period, breathing hard and drooling. I bet it's hilarious, but in that creepy kind of way," said Sutherlin.

WUAG DJ won't shut up

Faux is like all fake and shit.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cheap Eats: Chinese takeout

GO TRIAD -- It occurred to me one night over chopsticks and pork fried rice that I always order Chinese food from the same place. There's no actual reason to dial China Wok every time I get a craving for General Tso's, aside from the fact that it's closest to where I live.

This thought began to bother me recently: Am I getting the greatest Chinese experience possible? So, I set out to find the best Chinese food in Greensboro, starting my quest by conducting a very unscientific survey of some friends. Three names consistently came up -- China's Best, China Wok and Chen's Express — as did my friends' reasons for ordering from these places: They are close. All of these restaurants deliver to all of our houses, so the logic has to be that the closer the restaurant, the faster you get your food.

Continuing my experiment, I settled on two favorites that every Chinese place should offer: sesame chicken and sweet-and-sour chicken. Then I picked up the phone and started dialing.

Each of the three restaurants had a combination plate of fairly equal value: entree, rice and a side dish for about six bucks. I placed my order at each of the three places within minutes of one another, so I was expecting a similarly staggered delivery time. China's Best outshone its competitors and showed up in 20 minutes. Chen's Express and China Wok showed up simultaneously (which made for two drivers giving me weird looks) at a little more than 30 minutes.

Now, the fun part: the taste test.

The rest

Hands down the most fun I've had writing a Cheap Eats yet. I really fed at least 12 people in my dorm that night. I'm the greatest CA ever. Or, depending on how much you know, the worst.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Running - Day one

As I write this I'm laying on the floor in my room, reminding myself to breathe in every few seconds. Breathing out isn't a problem. My lungs are squeezing themselves closed on their own power, either an asthmatic reaction I've had since a child or their way at getting back at me for the run I just finished. I wasn't seeing spots until I sat up to get my laptop, but now I'm having a little trouble telling if the color on my screen is off or if I've popped a blood vessel somewhere.

I'm not a runner. I get no endorphin rush from completing a few miles on the track. I get a headache and a cramp in my side. The only rush I feel is pain from what might be shin splints; I can't remember what those are like because I haven't run in years.

Wobbly doesn't exactly describe what my legs are right now. Walking up the two flights to my room was a lot like the scene from Ali where Ali is taking on Frazier. Ali thinks, "Hook's coming. Lean back, man. Move. Work legs." His legs don't move, and Frazier catches him with a hook that sends Ali to the mat. Like that, except I wasn't fighting Joe Frazier. I was climbing stairs. Still almost put me on the mat.

Earlier today I promised my dad I'd run a 5K with him on New Year's Eve, a run he's done every year by himself for as long as I can remember. I suppose I'm committed to it now. I would say that I can say goodbye to drinking on New Year's, but judging from today I might need a drink to get me through it.

And so it starts.

Tofu - The other white-ish non-meat substance of some sort

What you may have overheard during lunch with my dad:

Me - Have you ever had tofu?
Dad - I think I did once, but I got better, so it must have just been a virus.

That put me down for a good two minutes. Obviously he was joking. My dad can be hilarious, as my friends can attest to. Sometimes it's even on purpose.


Somehow, politically, I couldn't agree more.


CNN -- PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is -- and isn't -- a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

If you know anything about the history between me and Pluto, then you know this is a good day for me.

PLUTO - 0 LUKE - 1

What's up now biatch?!?

Nintendo Wheeeeee

This commercial is hilarious on at least two levels.

And yes, I'm buying a Nintendo Wii. It will go nicely with the only other console I play, the original Nintendo. Str8 old skule.

On Faith: Why I'm atheist

Of all the things I say in any given day, of all the syllables, curses, and completely made up words I use on a regular basis, the combination that consistently draws the most interesting reactions is "I'm atheist." For those who know me it usually comes as no shock. For those that don't, on the odd chance that it comes up in conversation, I've gotten all sorts of responses.

A lot of people are curious because they've "never met an atheist before." If it comes up in class, there's always a few heads turning. Some people are offended for some reason, and on one occasion I had a gentleman become violently angry with me because my lack of belief in his religion amounted to "calling [his] beliefs nothing more than fairy tales." I'm willing to wager that these same people don't look at followers of Buddhism, the world's fifth largest religion, the same way. That's even though, with the exception of some sects that believe Buddha to be a deity, Buddhists don't believe in immortal gods. But hoping that these reactions are the result of confusion, and not a pure, unadulterated hatred for atheists, I'll explain what being atheist actually means.

Atheism in its simplest form is not even a belief. It's the lack of a belief. I'm atheist because I lack a belief in any gods. It's not that I disbelieve - atheism simply says, "there is no evidence for a god, so I have no belief in one." There are, of course, atheists who take a step further and say that there absolutely is no god. Some refer specifically to the Judeo-Christian or Islamic god, some say it in general. (We're all atheists in regard to some god; I'm sure none of you pray to Zeus.) It's hard to lump atheists together because, like the term theists, we really have no common characteristics other than that lack of a belief.

So we can move naturally on to the next question, why don't I believe in a god? There are many reasons not to believe - philosophical arguments, personal experience, skeptically reading various holy books - and I've examined many, but it all boils down to one single point. To me, faith is unacceptable thinking. Every single sensible theist will admit to you that part of their belief is taken on faith. Part of being a theist is believing something without logical and verifiable proof. I say, if you don't have a reason to believe something, you shouldn't believe it. To reference an example from writer Sam Harris, if I tell you I think the Holocaust is a myth, you're going to ask for my reasons. If I tell you I am bulletproof, you'll ask for a demonstration. Yet anything to do with religion is somehow exempt from the test of reason.

The rest

The reactions I've been getting from everyone I know here at school were pretty positive about this column, a few good emails as well. My parents were NOT happy. I haven't heard from my grandmother either, who I know reads the online edition and usually emails me whenever she sees something she likes.

There goes my Christmas presents.

Failure to Communicate: At UNCG, free speech still lives off campus

What would you say if I told you that UNCG didn't want you to have an opinion? If I said our university is actively campaigning against the free expression of ideas that it does not agree with, and that it encourages your fellow students to turn you in to the authorities for their equivalent of thoughtcrime? This isn't 1984 and I'm not Winston Smith, but I assure you Big Brother is watching us.

Take UNCG's "Stop the Hate" program. This is a program, endorsed by Chancellor Sullivan, which "provides the campus with information related to hate incidents and ways to prevent hate on campus." What is a hate incident, you're wondering? According to the "Stop the Hate" website, "A hate incident is an act of conduct, speech, or expression to which a bias motive is evident as a contributing factor (regardless of whether the act is criminal)."

We're getting rid of bias, sounds okay to me. But the problem is that a hate crime without the crime is often just an expression of free speech. Yeah, nobody likes it when the Klan marches down the street, but isn't protecting their right to do it just as important as protecting a gay pride march, or any march for that matter?

As it has been explained to me by UNCG Police Sergeant Dickie Perdue, a few examples of hate incidents include a preacher condemning homosexuality on our campus, a student who displays the confederate flag on his dorm room door, or a student wearing a t-shirt that says "Ban Gay Marriage." It goes without saying that each of those activities is specifically protected by the Constitution, and it goes without saying that UNCG is on the wrong side of the argument. Again.

And the part that I truly love: students are encouraged to go to the UNCG Police website and turn in other students who they think have committed a hate incident. These reports can be filled out anonymously, and Sergeant Perdue has said that each and every one will be investigated.

Let me just clarify this situation. Any person with a computer can anonymously accuse a UNCG student of exercising their constitutionally protected freedom of speech, and the police will investigate that student. The student has done nothing wrong, and can never meet their accusers. If this isn't a witch hunt after conservative students then I don't know what is.

The rest

This column took me the better part of four days, at least five versions, and thousands of words to write. Sometimes I have trouble keeping my libertarian rants under control, so I'll just fly for a few thousand words and then go pack and pick out the 700 that is actually on topic.

Another part of the Stop the Hate program I was thrilled with was their online quiz where you can test your knowledge about hate incidents, but apparently not about civil rights. An example:

An extremist group secretly plants racist flyers on the windshields of cars in a campus parking lot and under students’ doors in a dormitory. The flyers advocate a “white power revolution” and refer to non whites as “mud people.”

This is listed as a "hate incident." Now while the issue of going into a dorm that you don't live in is technically trespassing, that's not the point they're making. They're saying this is hate speech, and it's not welcome at UNCG. However, were this the case:

An extremist group secretly plants religious flyers on the windshields of cars in a campus parking lot and under students’ doors in a dormitory. The flyers advocate “praising Jesus” and refer to non believes as “lost.”


A gay rights group secretly plants pro-gay flyers on the windshields of cars in a campus parking lot and under students’ doors in a dormitory. The flyers advocate “gay marriage and equality for all” and refer to their opponents as “bigots.”

Uh oh. It looks like all three examples are political speech, so UNCG doesn't get to pick and choose. What is so hard to understand about that? What is our university afraid of?

Then again, maybe I just took this question a little personally:

A campus newspaper accepts and prints an advertisement from an off-campus extremist group proclaiming that the Holocaust never happened, that it is a falsehood concocted by Jews desiring public sympathy and government support for the Israeli cause.

This is...you guessed it. A HATE INCIDENT! I dare the university to try and control who we sell ads to.

The funniest part about that question is if a campus newspaper is controlled by the college's administration, and assuming it's a public school, then they CANNOT refuse to sell ads to groups based on the ad's political content. I think that's the perfect summary of the lack of thought that went into this policy: UNCG is calling an act a hate incident, when refusing to commit the "hate incident" in question would actually be the illegal act.

This is all beyond absurd to me. Is UNCG actually looking to get sued?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I was outdone

Tonight there was an exceptionally clever girl hanging out on the hall. At one point she happened to be drinking water out of a coconut shaped cup, when she remarked:

Her - "You know, this is a lot like most nuts I've seen."
Me - "Big, brown, and empty when you're done with them?"
Her - "Yeah, I've got so many black guys coming in and out of my house you'd think it's part of the underground railroad."

After I was done laughing, I had nothing to come back with. Outdone by a girl.

I usually pride myself on my quips. My friend Rahsaan and I will have contests to see who can come back with the best insult, the loser being the person who draws a blank or is laughing too hard to retort. The only other female contender I've met so far is my friend Caroline, who can dish them out better than most guys.

I'm certainly not the funniest of my friends, but hanging out with funny people seems to make you funnier. It makes you bring your A game. It's why the show "The Comedians of Comedy" was so damn funny, nothing but four comedians sitting around cracking jokes. I'm not sure if it's the same for other skills, but it certainly makes for a fun night.

EDIT: Found out the next day while talking girls with a coworker that the girl was his sister. Oops.

EDIT 2: I should have also mentioned my friend Kim, who tends to be a clever little bastard. Funny girls are hard to come by, for whateer reason.

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Cheap Eats

Jack's Corner markets itself as a Mediterranean deli, and that's probably the most accurate description for its style of food. But that still doesn't stop everyone from calling this gyro and falafel shop "the Greek place."

As a college student, the only Greek I'm normally exposed to involves popped collars and keg beer. I had nowhere to go but up during my visit to Jack's Corner.

The inside of Jack's Corner isn't heavily decorated with overseas memorabilia, but foreign music sets the scene well enough. The television played a station I couldn't seem to understand because, as it turns out, I don't speak Greek. And because of that I also technically can't prove they were speaking Greek. It could have been any number of languages I don't speak, or they may have just been mumbling English.

I moved on from not understanding the television to not understanding the menu, a much more disconcerting position to be in. It's not that the menu is especially complicated; each item is more or less explained. (If you're wondering what hummus is, it's a "chickpea dip made with tahini, lemon and garlic.") Needless to say, I was unfamiliar with most of the items on the menu: Mujaddara, Swish Tawook and Tzatziki. So I did what I always do when confronted with a menu I don't understand: point and hope.

Full column

Jack's Corner was by far the best place I've covered for Cheap Eats so far. Anyone have any suggestions for the next column?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Num num num

I don't know why this is funny, but it is.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Well, that's one way to get out of jury duty

NEW YORK -- A man serving on a grand jury has been charged for exposing himself inside a room at a federal courthouse, authorities said.

Edwin Ng, 38, was charged with committing an act of public lewdness, disorderly conduct and destruction of government property, officials said.

A female employee at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn saw the incident Friday and alerted authorities.

Ng, of Brooklyn, was given a summons and told to appear before a federal magistrate at a later date. He faces up to a year in prison and a fine if convicted, officials said.

Ng also was discharged from jury duty.

I've been through the process of jury duty selection, and ended up serving on a murder trial that rendered a guilty verdict. I never really thought about rubbing one out in the courtroom to get out of it. I'll keep that in mind next time.

How to Open a Beer Bottle with a Piece of Paper

There's some discussion on the YouTube.com page over whether there is a coin in the paper (which you can supposedly see at 1:31) or not. To me it looks like his finger or a slight shadow, and I really don't know how you could pop open the bottle with the curve of a coin. Interesting either way.

EDIT: I tried this a couple nights ago. Now I have a gash across three of my fingers on my right hand. Either it doesn't work, I'm just dumb, or it's some unfortunate combination of those two.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sex offenders in Greensboro

I found the site www.mapsexoffenders.com, and I ran a search to see how many sex offenders were around UNCG.

Disgusting. I don't care if this is above or below average. There is an appropriate punishment for sex offenders, and it isn't parole.

EDIT: After I zoomed in on the map I realized that a lot of those red marks are overlapping. Apparently they move in packs.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Joker named

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Batman is heading into a sequel, titled "The Dark Knight," and he will face off against the Joker, this time played by Heath Ledger. Full article

Bad casting has been the downfall of Batman movies. George Clooney as Batman, Val Kilmer as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, allowing Chris Nolan to step in front of a camera, much less play Robin. All of them huge mistakes. Clooney wasn't Batman, he was Clooney. Kilmer wasn't Batman, and I don't think even he knows what he was doing. In fact, outside of Real Genius and The Saint, Kilmer is dead to me.

But the new Batman series was going to be different. Christian Bale owned Batman. He was the very essence of the character. Christopher Nolan directed a movie that was perfect. Great script, everything completely plausible, everything explained, even the new Batmobile was cool.

Then they cast Heath Ledger as Joker.

It's not that I think Heath Ledger can't act. It's a fact that he can't act. And it's not that his previous movies lead me to believe he'll do nothing other than take a dump on a great character, moistening the potential of this series with his shitty acting. And it's not even that he is a dumb, goofy-looking guy set to play an evil genius. They can take care of that with makeup.

It's that I can kick Heath Ledger's ass.

Now I'm not threatening Heathy-baby. I have no aggressive feelings towards him, other than hating him and his movies. But the mere fact that I, a 21-year-old man who rarely works out, am going to have to watch this prissy prick pretend that he has the cojones to battle the Dark Knight is inexcusable. How do I know I can kick Heath Ledger's ass?

1) He's Australian and his name isn't Mick Dundee.

2) The best part of The Patriot was the part where Ledger died. All the scenes he wasn't in were pretty good too.

3) 10 Things I Hate About You is just one thing I hate about Ledger.

4) I feel that he's partially to blame for the Brokeback Mountain screenplay, for nothing other than he read it aloud (if you want to call it acting, go ahead).

5) His first name is Heath. There isn't one hard consonant in it. Hhheeaaatthhhh.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a crazy, evil character is just the role for him. Maybe he'll be the next Willem Dafoe. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll be buying a plane ticket to Australia so I can stomp my movie ticket refund out of him.

Yo quiero Reno 911!

I love Reno 911!. I love it much more than I should. In fact, the last couple weeks of my summer has consisted of little else other than watching the second and third season dvds over and over and over again. It doesn't get old.

So being that I'm becoming a little Reno obsessed, I was amazed I didn't know that Carlos Alazraqui, who plays Deputy James Garcia, was the voice of the Taco Bell dog. He was also the voice of Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life, and Mr. Weed from Family Guy. All of this blew my mind.

It also amazed me that Thomas Lennon, who plays Lt. Dangle, and Kerri Kenney-Silver, who plays Weigel, starred in the short-lived but great Comedy Central series Viva Variety. Damn I loved that show when I was a kid. Random, obscure Eastern European talent acts? Oh hell yes.

I just though you guys should know.

New Maddox

Maddox takes on the stupid "Loose Change" video in his latest post. First paragraph:

"I've been getting a lot of email lately from people sending me this stupid 9/11 conspiracy video called "Loose Change." I've tried to ignore it for months now, but you morons keep forwarding it to me, and I keep having to add more email addresses to my spam filter. The ironic part is that I'm a huge conspiracy nut, and even I can't stomach this bullshit. For example, I believe that there is a small, reptile-like creature called Chupacabra that sucks the blood of goats in Mexico. Area 51? Hell yes. Roswell? Pass me the Kool-Aid. But "Loose Change" elevates bullshit to an artform. Watching this video is like being bukakked with stupid."