Friday, March 28, 2014


Written by Keith Shirey

   Print this
Friday, 28 March 2014
image for Colleges Oppose Unions For Football Players
by Bear Bryant

The decision by the National Labor Relations Board to grant college players at Northwestern the right to form unions has brought a swift response from a newly organized group of college football powerhouse coaches.
The organization, called "Coaches For Southern Justice," represents Southern States with so-called "right-to-work" laws, which make it almost impossible to organize unions for any kind of workers in those States. The Coaches, who usually make ten times more than their Colleges' Presidents, have been authorized to speak for them.
Football coaches of Universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee and other states of the Old Confederacy issued the following statement:
"Although college players, who spend as much as 60 hours a week devoted to football, are not primarily students, we like to refer to them as "student athletes." Furthermore, although they devote more time to their jobs than most employees in the U.S., they are allowed to walk on campus' with magnolia trees and ivy covered buildings."
The document continued, " 'Though players are recruited for their athletic talents rather than their academic abilities, and lose athletic scholarships if they are injured, they do simetimes attend college classes and a few even have their extremely sub-standard English somewhat improved."
The statement concludes, "For these and other excellent facts and reasons we oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining by football workers on campus.' To those who labor on athletic fields who would seek to organize worker's unions we would point out the futility if such endeavors in our right-to-work states."
Make Keith Shirey's day - give this story five thumbs-up (there's no need to register, the thumbs are just down there!)
The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.
If you fancy trying your hand at comedy spoof news writing, click here to join!
   Print this
 Discuss this story in the forum

Wednesday, March 26, 2014



GM Knew Chevy Cobalt Ignition Could Turn Itself Off, Released Car Anyway

If you’re a carmaker and you find out the vehicle you’re about to release had an ignition-switch issue that could not only stop the car’s engine but render the power steering, air bags, and power brakes useless, you probably wouldn’t release that car. It’s a shame you weren’t a General Motors executive 10 years ago.
Chevy Cobalts make up a good portion of the 1.6 million GM vehicles recalled over the ignition issue that has been tied to at least a dozen deaths and could be responsible for many more.
And, according to court documents uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, GM knew about the problem when they were prepping for the release of the 2005 Cobalt, but opted to release the car upon the highways anyway, assuming that drivers would be able to safely coast stalled cars off the road.
In a deposition for a lawsuit tied to one of the aforementioned dozen deadly accidents, in which vehicles’ air bags failed to deploy because the ignition had been accidentally turned to the “off” position, a program engineering manager for the 2005 Cobalt admitted that GM had made a business decision to release the Cobalt without fixing the known safety issue.
The victim of the fatal crash in this case was driving her Cobalt at around 55 mph when the ignition failed. While she is not around to testify, others who filed complaints with GM detailed how difficult, if not impossible, it was to steer their shut-down vehicles.
But in the 2013 deposition, the engineer says GM believed the drivers should be able to handle a car without power steering.
“We’ve sold vehicles for many, many years without power assist and the car was maneuverable and controllable,” he explained. “We’ve been through that several times, in fact, during this investigation looking at the car to make sure it still could be controlled.”
Another employee defended the carmaker, saying he tested the drivability of a turned-off Cobalt on his own and was able to successfully steer the vehicle.
“As long as the vehicle can still be controlled…the vehicle is still safe,” he said in the deposition.
Of course, there is a difference between someone deliberately turning off their ignition, knowing what to expect, and someone who is driving 55 mph whose car suddenly turns off and becomes difficult to steer.
Documents turned up earlier in the recall investigation show that some at GM were aware of problem as far back as 2001, before the first affected Saturn Ion vehicles were released.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that two plaintiffs in a suit against GM over the recalled vehicles have asked a federal court in Texas to compel GM to urge owners of these cars to stop driving them immediately.
“Any and every driver that is currently operating a recalled vehicle could fall victim to the defect, rendering the driver simply another tick on GM’s ever-increasing death tally,” reads the motion filed by the plaintiffs.
GM claims that these vehicles are safe to drive, but that drivers should not have a keyring with other keys attached to the one for their car. The additional weight of heavy keychains and other keys has been cited as a cause in some instances where the vehicles turned off suddenly.



The Legacy That We Are Leaving: The Extinction of Species

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 11:15By Elizabeth Kolbert, Henry Holt and Co. | Book Excerpt
2014.3.25.PP.Headshot.Main. NewAuthor Elizabeth Kolbert. (Photo: Barry Goldstein)There have been five great extinctions of species on Earth, all of them due to natural causes. In a gripping, harrowing book, Elizabeth Kolbert -- a New Yorker journalist specializing in the environment – explores in detail the ongoing sixth extinction of a massive number of species, this time due to the destructive practices of the human species. Get the book now, "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by clicking here. 

The following is the prologue to the book that David Gann, author of The Lost City of Z, calls, "an epic, riveting story of our species that reads like a scientific thriller – only more terrifying because it is real."

Prologue: "The Sixth Extinction"
Beginnings, it's said, are apt to be shadowy. So it is with this story, which starts with the emergence of a new species maybe two hundred thousand years ago. The species does not yet have a name—nothing does—but it has the capacity to name things.
As with any young species, this one's position is precarious. Its numbers are small, and its range restricted to a slice of eastern Africa. Slowly its population grows, but quite possibly then it contracts again—some would claim nearly fatally—to just a few thousand pairs.

The members of the species are not particularly swift or strong or fertile. They are, however, singularly resourceful. Gradually they push into regions with different climates, different predators, and different prey. None of the usual constraints of habitat or geography seem to check them. They cross rivers, plateaus, mountain ranges. In coastal regions, they gather shellfish; farther inland, they hunt mammals. Everywhere they settle, they adapt and innovate. On reaching Europe, they encounter creatures very much like themselves, but stockier and probably brawnier, who have been living on the continent far longer. They interbreed with these creatures and then, by one means or another, kill them off.
The end of this affair will turn out to be exemplary. As the species expands its range, it crosses paths with animals twice, ten, and even twenty times its size: huge cats, towering bears, turtles as big as elephants, sloths that stand fifteen feet tall. These species are more powerful and often fiercer. But they are slow to breed and are wiped out.
Although a land animal, our species—ever inventive—crosses the sea. It reaches islands inhabited by evolution's outliers: birds that lay foot-long eggs, pig-sized hippos, giant skinks. Accustomed to isolation, these creatures are ill-equipped to deal with the newcomers or their fellow travelers (mostly rats). Many of them, too, succumb.
The process continues, in fits and starts, for thousands of years, until the species, no longer so new, has spread to practically every corner of the globe. At this point, several things happen more or less at once that allow Homo sapiens, as it has come to call itself, to reproduce at an unprecedented rate. In a single century the population doubles; then it doubles again, and then again. Vast forests are razed. Humans do this deliberately, in order to feed themselves. Less deliberately, they shift organisms from one continent to another, reassembling the biosphere.

Meanwhile, an even stranger and more radical transformation is under way. Having discovered subterranean reserves of energy, humans begin to change the composition of the atmosphere. This, in turn, alters the climate and the chemistry of the oceans. Some plants and animals adjust by moving. They climb mountains and migrate toward the poles. But a great many—at first hundreds, then thousands, and finally perhaps millions—find themselves marooned. Extinction rates soar, and the texture of life changes.

No creature has ever altered life on the planet in this way before, and yet other, comparable events have occurred. Very, very occasionally in the distant past, the planet has undergone change so wrenching that the diversity of life has plummeted. Five of these ancient events were catastrophic enough that they're put in their own category: the so-called Big Five. In what seems like a fantastic coincidence, but is probably no coincidence at all, the history of these events is recovered just as people come to realize that they are causing another one. When it is still too early to say whether it will reach the proportions of the Big Five, it becomes known as the Sixth Extinction.

The story of the Sixth Extinction, at least as I've chosen to tell it, comes in thirteen chapters. Each tracks a species that's in some way emblematic—the American mastodon, the great auk, an ammonite that disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous alongside the dinosaurs. The creatures in the early chapters are already gone, and this part of the book is mostly concerned with the great extinctions of the past and the twisting history of their discovery, starting with the work of the French naturalist Georges Cuvier. The second part of the book takes place very much in the present—in the increasingly fragmented Amazon rainforest, on a fast-warming slope in the Andes, on the outer reaches of the Great Barrier Reef. I chose to go to these particular places for the usual journalistic reasons—because there was a research station there or because someone invited me to tag along on an expedition. Such is the scope of the changes now taking place that I could have gone pretty much anywhere and, with the proper guidance, found signs of them. One chapter concerns a die-off happening more or less in my own backyard (and, quite possibly, in yours).

If extinction is a morbid topic, mass extinction is, well, massively so. It's also a fascinating one. In the pages that follow, I try to convey both sides: the excitement of what's being learned as well as the horror of it. My hope is that readers of this book will come away with an appreciation of the truly extraordinary moment in which we live.
Copyright 2014 Elizabeth Kolbert. All rights reserved.



Feminist History Lesson: Who Gloria Steinem Is And Why She's An Awesome Role Model

Gloria Steinem: badass feminist activist who has worked tirelessly to fight for women's rights. Hear a little about how she became one of the leading women behind the movement, and let her serve as a reminder there's still a lot of work to be done.
This video is by Makers, which has a ton of awesome videos about amazing women. You may spend a good few hours watching them all.