Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Can cliches be funny? Find out...

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:09 PM

Atlanta comic Andy Sandford started a forum on twitter called Joke Wars, where comics and regulars alike are chiming in with their humorous renditions of the most hackneyed cliches around. Pretty entertaining stuff, check it out here.

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Dodekapus and Living Walls get their carnival on in support of street art this Friday

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

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Another week, another Living Walls, the City Speaks fundraiser event! Here’s the sitch: putting on any big event takes a lot of money - and getting money is tough (I know, I've just blown your mind with my insight.) Being a bunch of self-financed artists trying to pull off an ambitious conference/gallery exhibition is tougher. When you factor in flying in and hosting over a dozen artists and volunteers, it’s damn near impossible - without a little help from your friends.

With the international brigade of street artists set to descend upon Atlanta in just 6 weeks, creative collective Dodekapus has rallied their efforts to throw a carnival fundraiser in support of Living Walls, this Friday, July 2 at The Big House.

Continue reading »

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Undead Abe Lincoln joins Rick Barber in fight against "slavery"

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Pretty much every state has one. That wacky, envelope-pushing congressperson who's willing to stick his/her neck out and say what everyone (read: everyone who is not sane) is really thinking.

Minnesota has Michele Bachmann, Georgia has Paul Broun, and in the running to assist Alabama in meeting its Crazy Congressman Quota is Tea Party Candidate and apparent "long shot" for the Republican nomination in the 2nd congressional district, Rick Barber. Barber is getting attention for his latest campaign commercial entitled "Slavery," and from what I gathered after several viewings, Barber is like this with zombie Abe Lincoln and thinks socialized medicine is kinda like the holocaust. Take a gander ...

The guy is such a caricature it's almost a joke — but the flared nostrils prove he's totally serious.

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Georgia Third in ACLU List of Policed Free Speech Incidents

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:59 PM

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An ACLU study released yesterday logs prominent police surveillance cases, surveying 'reported incidents' state-by-state, either monitoring or harassing groups and individuals for protesting, picketing, and other peaceful First Amendment rights.

Free Speech? "Free" isn't freedom, and while most of the report speaks for itself, I feel it does have an air of Cold War-era paranoia:

According the the report, 33 states and the District of Columbia have been highlighted for particularly jarring cases, ranging from full-on protests to "writing notes or taking photographs in public."

One of the eight incidents in the report occurring in Georgia included Vegetarian Activist Caitlin Childs' arrest after protesting on public property outside of a Honey Baked Ham store on Buford Highway. She had been taking down the license plate number of a DHS agent's car. The agent had been photographing the protestors all day.

In an article on the organization's website, Childs expressed an unmoved hope:

I refuse to live in fear of what could happen for speaking out and fighting for the things in which I believe […] In many ways, it is a compliment to me that homeland security would be interested in my activities — if they are paying attention I must be doing something right!

Another incident provoking surveillance on the list was a March 2008 Muslim conference in Georgia, even though such speech is constitutionally protected. Yet another tagged the Georgia State University group Students for Peace and Justice in a Department of Defense Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON).

TALON began in 2003 to collect intelligence about possible threats to military bases within the US but expanded to include reports by local law enforcement agencies and military security personnel about nonviolent demonstrations and rallies.

Georgia had the third highest number of incidents in the report, next to Colorado (13) and California (24). Yikes. Curiously, South Carolina and Alabama had zero incidents of political spying after this ACLU review.

The .pdf of the report: Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and the Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity.

Wired's Threat Level Post

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Update: Troopers delay tickets for new texting-while-driving laws

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Georgia's new laws banning texting while driving officially go into effect at midnight. Except not really. Drivers will be able to get away with texting from behind the wheel for another 30 days without facing any fines or tickets, as long as their behavior doesn't lead to an accident.

Major Mark McDonough, commanding officer of the Georgia State Patrol, said that strict enforcement of the laws won't start until August 1: "Our officers are going to be very compassionate over the next several weeks. The aim is to ease into this and give everyone an opportunity to understand the law and change their behavior."

Somehow I doubt that delaying punishment for a month will help drivers learn to follow the law and adapt to a text-free commute. Without the risk of getting fined or ticketed during this grace period, I don't see very many drivers suddenly deciding to put their phones away while they're on the road.

Major McDonough also cleared up some questions about privacy in regards to the new laws. Drivers are protected by the Fourth Amendment, so they won't be required to surrender their cell phones to an officer who wants to see what's on it. Unless the officer gets a search warrant to obtain the phone (and, by that time, the text messages will surely be long gone) OR cell phone records are subpoenaed for court, it's the trooper's word against the driver's.

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Diary of a mad blog woman

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:37 PM

A spokesperson for Atlanta entertainment mogul Tyler Perry is quoted on a blog today saying we shouldn't believe what we read on blogs.

That's heavy, man.

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Pecanne Log wins the day

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Tired of all the haters and eager to see the city prosper, Christa at Pecanne Log has nailed a stunning manifesto to the Internet's front door.

Read all of it, folks.

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Gwinnett Chairman's DUI stop anything but routine

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM

A delicious story by the AJC's Patrick Fox and David Wickert suggests Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister's Monday DUI arrest may have been motivated by more than an honest desire to keep Gwinnett motorists safe from drunk drivers.

Bannister's arrest was not the result of a typical DUI stop. Two men from the Gwinnett Sheriff's office (a deputy and a lieutenant) waited outside a Gwinnett restaurant while Bannister was still at his table. A fellow restaurant patron telephoned a report to a deputy sheriff's direct line saying Bannister was drinking beer inside with his county vehicle parked outside.

Drinking beer during your free time with keys to a county vehicle in your pocket isn't actually a crime, so it's not apparent why two law enforcement agents showed up at all or felt justified waiting. Wasn't there a Mexican drug cartel they could be bothering instead?

If a two-man DUI stake-out outside a restaurant doesn't smell suspicious, inhale this: instead of confronting Bannister in the parking lot, the sheriff's department waited for him to drive off.

If the point of the stake-out was to keep Gwinnett roads safe from a potential drunk driver, the cops would have approached Bannister before he got behind the wheel.

If the point was to catch Bannister doing something that would wreck his political career, they would have done, well, exactly what they did - which was wait for him to drive away, then pull him over after they noticed him driving erratically.

The police report indicates Bannister admitted drinking a peer pressure beer. Nevertheless, the breathalyzer indicated he had zero alcohol in his system. He was arrested, the sheriff's department says, because he failed other field sobriety tests.

I hope the AJC stays on top of this.

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Shelf Life: The Ghost of Milagro Creek by Melanie Sumner

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:23 PM

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Genre: Tragic Novel

The Pitch
: Ignacia, a deceased Apache medicine woman, tells the story of two boys in Taos, New Mexico and the murderous love triangle that comes between them.

First Line: "When I passed away, some people swore that Padre Pettit would refuse me a proper Christian burial."

Bilingual Banter: Mister Romero and Tomás Mondragón, the novel's two progtagonists, are foul-mouthed but charming in a boyish manner. "What the hell does she mean by foreplay, anyway?" Tomás asks in earnest. "You know, vato, getting her caliente. You don't do that?" Mister replies. Their occasional spanglish shouldn't be hard to parse for even the most dense of English speakers.

Resume Bold Print: Sumner's short stories were first published in The New Yorker, Atlanta Magazine and other places before being collected for her debut book, Polite Society. She's received a Whiting Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Though she once lived in Taos, New Mexico where The Ghost of Milagro Creek is set, Sumner now calls Rome, Georgia home and teaches at Kennesaw State University.

Continue reading »

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UPS "luggage box" could help reduce airport hassles

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM

U.S. airlines have generated nearly $800 million in revenue from baggage fees - a 33% increase - according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And that was during just the first quarter of this year.

But UPS reminded frustrated air travelers on Tuesday that there are alternatives to the conventional checked baggage system.

The Sandy Springs-based company has introduced three luggage shipping alternatives, including a new "luggage box" to use in lieu of a suitcase, in an effort to reduce airport hassles for travelers. You'll still have to pay (UPS says the box is "competitively priced with the airlines' baggage fees"), but shipping your bags in advance of flying could help you avert long lines and security searches... not to mention the workout you get from hauling your luggage to and around the airport.

"Not having to carry a suitcase while traveling is a great convenience. Even better is luggage awaiting your arrival at a destination or hotel," said John Minetola, The UPS Store franchisee from Wyoming, Pa. "You can ship your luggage as is; place it in a box for shipment, or at select locations purchase a luggage box, eliminating the need for a suitcase altogether."

Shipping baggage for airline passengers is not a new venture for the company, though - it's been a small part of their business for a while. But more and more customers have begun to turn to this option since airlines started charging for checked bags and carry-ons, so UPS is directly promoting it as a service for the first time.

UPS's small box sells for $12.95 and the large one for $17.65 (not including shipping), and boxes can be reused. Customers can check out shipping prices at http://www.theupsstore.com/qcc/pages/qcc.aspx. Travelers can track their shipments with UPS mobile apps for cell phones, PDAs, or other web-enabled wireless devices or receive e-mail shipment notification.

I'm sold. It may end up costing me just as much, but the convenience definitely makes up for that.

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