Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review: Matt Lauer callously uses simple knock-knock joke to fire co-anchor Ann Curry live on Today Show

New York--Lauer, fighting back laughter, told his co-anchor on live television that there is no crying in the morning talk/news show business, but later admitted this was simply an attempt to "cheer Curry up." After the public dismissal, where things got very uncomfortable when Curry became visibly upset over having to leave the show, Lauer looked directly into the camera and heartlessly, in a somewhat somber tone, said: "We'll be right back with an all new recipe for turning stale bagels ... into healthy snacks for your kids. A pretty great little recipe. We'll be right back." It is widely believed that the Curry firing resulted from the Today Show dropping from the number one morning show position in the ratings race.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Study: Countdown pedestrian crossing signals making better New Year's Eve planners out of all of us

You're ten, maybe twelve yards away from the intersection and the race is on. The countdown crossing signal is taunting you: ten, nine, eight. You break into a jog. You didn't want to go there but you had to. Seven, six, five--this is gonna be close, as the jog may not be enough. Four, three, two--by the way, have I made plans for New Year's Eve yet? One--damn, I missed the light and I really don't think I've secured New Year's plans and tomorrow is already the the Fourth of July.

The evidence is clear, countdown crossing signals, besides making pedestrians safer, have made foot travelers better prepared for welcoming in the New Year than ever before.

Urban planners admit that the latter result was very much unintended. Countdown signals were designed to replace the blinking hand, once considered revolutionary pedestrian crossing technology, which warned pedestrians to slow up, but, really was unable to clearly indicate when the blinking hand would become the solid hand (a stop sign). The blinking hand technology stranded millions in the middle of dangerous intersections worldwide.

"The countdown crosswalk has really done for street crossing safety what the parachute did for skydiving safety," said Thomas Baker, an urban planner in Queens, New York City. Baker helped develop the countdown signal during his time at Slow Technologies, Inc, a now-defunct transportation technology firm from Nassau County, NY, in the early 2000s. Baker and a coworker continued developing the device on their own after leaving SlowTech.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Year in Review: E.U. wins Nobel Prize for developing vending machine that accepts all 27 members' coins

"It's simply remarkable that a single vending machine can accept that many different coins," said Thorbjørn Jagland, the chairman of Norway's Nobel Committee. "I mean, talk about advocating peace. I can't tell you how frustrated I would become when my Austrian coins would not work in France, or Italian coins in Belgium. All twenty-seven E.U. members pitched in to make this happen. The machines even accept Norwegian coins and we're not even in the E.U. Congratulations on a job well done, you deserve it."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: Obama, Boehner censure members of Congress for wearing 'insensitive' Clifford, flying squirrel costumes

"This is a serious situation and the multiple members of Congress who showed up donning Clifford the Big Red Dog costumes and flying squirrel costumes should be ashamed," said a very stern President Obama. "Besides, these were very weak attempts to mock the 'Cliff' facing our great country."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Year in Review: MTA workers free whale from flooded NYC Subway tunnel 3 weeks after Sandy hits

New York City--Marine biologists called it a miracle when, on the day before Thanksgiving, transit workers freed SoFe the whale (named after the South Ferry subway station and pronounced Sophie) from a NYC subway tunnel via crane. It is believed that the record storm surge brought on by Hurricane Sandy carried SoFe into the station entrance, then the confused and frightened mammal attempted to swim down in order to escape trouble, where she became trapped inside the subway tunnel. Workers discovered SoFe on November 1, 2012, while pumping out the water from the submerged tracks. "I was connecting several hoses near the waters edge when I saw this huge mass moving toward me," said Brian McDevon, an MTA maintenance engineer. "I screamed, then SoFe let out a big blow. She was very friendly." It took whale specialists, engineers, and marine biologists nearly three weeks to free the whale because of her large size and unstable condition. "She was banged up a bit swimming down the stairs and she also had some turnstile scuff marks. She needed rest and time to recover before being moved," said McDevon. Workers provided SoFe great care during her time spent in the subway. And, residents from the surrounding neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan brought a variety of plankton-based dishes to feed her and help sustain her blubber before being released into the Atlantic Ocean on Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

NBA saves Winter Classic: Raptors to play Pistons outdoors at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day

Detroit, MI--The two cities originally slated for the NHL's cancelled January 1st Winter Classic, Toronto and Detroit, will now have their respective NBA teams, the Raptors and Pistons, attempt to play an outdoor basketball game in front of more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. NBA commissioner David Stern denies the move is "kicking hockey when it's down," but instead argues the game is giving NHL fans a chance to "become better NBA fans and leave hockey for good." Because of legal reasons, the NBA cannot refer to the match up as the Winter Classic, but, after careful research and market testing, has decided to name the spectacle the Cold Weather Classic. (The other name finalist: The Colder Season Between Fall and Spring Classic.) The Pistons and Raptors have a combined eleven wins this season, but holding the game between two bad teams outside, in possible snow and wind, is expected to sell plenty of tickets.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Year in Review: Security cameras capture dramatic image of commuter hopping turnstile at PATH transit station

Port Authority Police never caught the individual "who so flagrantly and mockingly violated transit rules to save a lousy couple of bucks," and continue to ask the public to provide any information leading to an arrest.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Twelve minute flight: Wanting to keep with road game routine, Ravens to fly from Baltimore to D.C. for contest against Redskins

Owing Mills, MD--John Harbaugh, like most N.F.L. head coaches, is a creature of habit and, well, a bit superstitious. For example, the Baltimore Ravens leader always drives on the right side of the road, wears the same shirt on gameday, uses the same plate for every meal (yes, he takes it with him), and only uses the up escalator to go down.

So it really should be no surprise that the former Eagles special teams general wants to fly from Baltimore to next door neighbor Washington, D.C., for this week's game against the 'Skins. The U.S. capital and Charm City are separated by only 30 miles.

Why? Simply to keep with routine and superstition. "Every road game for us involves a bus, an airport, and a flight. This year we flew to Philly and now we're gonna fly to D.C.," said a stone-faced Harbaugh, seemingly oblivious to the absurdity of the air travel. "I want my players to keep with routine. It really boils down to a routine thing." The flight from Baltimore to D.C. will last twelve minutes.

There is a precedent for such short, bizarre air trips in the N.F.L. In 2011, the Giants, who share MetLife Stadium with the Jets, were designated the road team in their contest against their Meadowlands roommates during a week 16 matchup. Tom Coughlin had the club meet at the practice facility, then board a bus to Newark Liberty International Airport, then had the pilot circle the airport for fifteen minutes before landing back at Newark and driving to the stadium for the game against the Jets. (The Giants prevailed 29-14.) That is sticking to routine.