WHAT ARE THEY PUTTING IN THE WATER FAR OUT EAST?

“It’s far beyond the stars, It’s near beyond the moon, I know beyond a doubt, My heart will lead me there soon.”
-Bobby Darin, “Beyond the Sea”

“People” is the obvious answer to that questioning headline. With the ocean being so unforgiving lately to Asian cultures, and nearly a month after the Malaysian Airline catastrophe, another scavenger hunt has started; instead of Easter eggs, searchers are hoping to discover corpses.

egg hunt blogsmiaminewtimes com
Photo courtesy of Miaminewstimes.com

The Sewol left its dock early in the morning carrying 476 passengers, mostly high school students enjoying a field trip, and transporting 3,608 tons of cargo (Liljas, 2014). Of course, the ship is only recommended to carry 987 tons, and this may go down (no pun intended) as the worst field trip in history. See, that day-long excursion to the Jewish Temple in middle school doesn’t seem that bad after all.

Two hours later, the boat was completely submerged underwater. 174 passengers were rescued, 171 confirmed dead (Liljas, 2014), and the other 131 are hanging out on an island with the 239 missing people from Flight 370.

lost lost about com
Photo courtesy of About.com

Quality control, command, and ownership are now under investigation concerning the prevention of tragedy. Authorities have uncovered evidence pointing to insufficient evacuation instruction for workers and a lack of spending towards training. There was a newbie behind the helm who has been arrested along with 19 other crew members on counts of negligence including the fact that the distress signal didn’t even come from the captain or his mates in the time of need, it came from a passenger. The owner of the Sewol, Yoo Byung-eun (sounds made up), had been in prison for fraud in the early 90’s, and used to be the leader of a religious cult where 30 people of the sect committed suicide in 1987. He is known as “the millionaire with no face” because of his rare public appearances, including his seclusion during this calamity (Liljas, 2014).

Wait a minute? How does one guy convince a bunch of people to kill themselves, spare his own life, then go to prison for fraud, make even more money after he is free, and live under the radar run a maritime business and purchase a vessel? I thought the world was big on screening people for these types of things. If you take into consideration Yoo’s obviously horrible decision-making skills and past leadership qualities, could the lack of distress amongst the crew be merited as a conspiracy?

The crew was obviously not experienced enough to head the ship, they didn’t deploy the life boats, they didn’t bother to let the proper authorities know that the ship was sinking, and the cargo load was over three times the suggested amount to haul. It’s not like jam-packing your carry-on while flying so you don’t have to pay to check a suitcase; they knew exactly the limitations of the ship. Could this have been a failed suicide mission for another bunch of lost souls that were easily-influenced by a crazy dude? I’m just putting it out there.

Yoo koreatimes co kr
Photo courtesy of Korea Times

Maybe the combined 370 missing passengers of the Sewol and Flight 370 are… wait a minute, the same number of people missing is the same flight number of the Malaysian Airline jet! Don’t worry; it’s merely a coincidence because that would be impossible to plan, even for a crazy person (reference above picture). However, if you find yourself traveling to a recently-developed nation in the Pacific Rim, keep the conspiracy in the back of your mind. Now only if these people can find a good leader to point their society in the right direction to promote tourism. I know someone that might need a new job soon (reference picture above again).

Liljas, P. (2014). Retrieved from http://time.com/#74967/south-korea-ferry-sewol-chonghaejin-investigation/ on April 25th, 2014

TAXPAYERS AGREE: LAZINESS IS A LOT OF WORK

“Change nothing, Futures in, Close the door, Wear a name, Be the same, Take some more.”
-Jet, “Lazy Gun”

It’s always been said that there are two inevitabilities in life: death and taxes. However, both exemplify procrastination at high levels. People put off dying for years, decades, and even over a century, and every year people put off their taxes for 3 ½ months. Say you live to see that century mark and started doing your taxes at 18 years of age; how many years of procrastination does that equal?

100-18= 82 years
82×105= 8610 days
8610/365= 23.58904109589041 years of your life procrastinated on preparing taxes.

I believe we would at least like that .58904109589041 of a year back, but we must meet our civil requirements. Let’s say roughly a quarter of your life you’re doing taxes, and the other 3 quarters you’re dying. How grim; maybe Morgan Freeman should be narrating this post to make things a little easier to deal with.

Taxes are a necessity though some people choose not to believe so, yet they are somehow supported and live off the majority of other’s money. People still have trouble grasping the concept. They believe that the government is stealing their money for no purpose; only to pay salaries and stick bills and their own pockets to later stick in the g-string of a stripper. However, that’s only sometimes the case. They actually serve a much broader purpose. They fund war, law enforcement, economic infrastructure, public works and utilities, social engineering, debt, welfare and unemployment (reference 1st sentence of paragraph), protection of property, and public services such as education, health care, and public transportation. How dare they do all that to Americans!

We don’t need all that stuff, I mean, Africa looks like they’re doing pretty well.

lion virtualiansanity blogspot com
Photo courtesy of virtualiansanity.blogspot.com

Some hard-working individuals like to have less money taken out of their paychecks throughout the year and deal with their issues later. See the procrastination starts a whole year in advance. An extra 20 or so dollars every pay period is nice because it helps out with food, savings, and entertainment, but come tax season the individual is going to have to write a large lump-sum check to the government which seems to always balance out. The only problem being that the person hasn’t been saving that extra 20 bucks a paycheck, they spent it, and now they have to use money they don’t have to make up for what they owe. It’s a very confusing option to someone that has done little research on the topic and only has an opinion (me). However, I would rather eat for 12 months out of the year instead of say, 10.

Then there are the write-offs and the people that are convinced they are tricking the system. A write-off is any legitimate expense that can be deducted from your taxable income on your tax return (Ritchie, 2011). Realistically, there are a gazillion (not realistically) things you can write-off, but you just have to do a little research of what’s deductible and non-deductible because going through an audit could possibly be the equivalent of a colonoscopy for your financial history. For example: student loan interest, donations, and surprisingly, even a guard dog can be written-off. However, non-deductible things include political contributions, child support, and gambling losses (if you’re life is in that much disarray obviously) cannot.

Addictions can easily turn one’s finances upside down. Gambling problems must be reported to the IRS, and your local casino will surely give you a form serving as a constant reminder of how much money you wasted over the course of the year. We all have our vices, but you can compare Joe Pesci’s role in Casino to that of the IRS.

Joe p viewsfromthesofa com
Photo courtesy of viewsfromthesofa.com

It’s better and easier just to manage your finances and follow the rules; it’s really not a big deal. You can still have your fun, still satisfy your vices, but don’t overlook your priorities; priorities as in meeting tax (not death) deadlines to avoid late charges. Yet, people still don’t care and request extensions. Again with managing your finances.

Percentage of people that miss deadline: 25% (CBS NY, 2014)
Number of people that do their own taxes: estimated 56,000,000 (H&R Block, 2014)
Money left on the table: $460 average per person (H&R Block, 2014)
Percentage of people that complain: 100%

You pay taxes and you die. There’s a lot in between if you play your cards right (not at a casino) and manage your money correctly (not at a casino). There’s no shame in asking for assistance with finding every deduction, there’s no shame in being meticulous on your own, and there’s no shame in cutting back and understanding financial limits. Be smart with your finances and you will get your money back; don’t procrastinate and you will get your life back.

Ritchie, J. (2010). Retrieved from http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/2010/12/11/what-is-a-tax-write-off/ on April 18, 2014

H&R Block (2014). Retrieved from http://www.hrblock.com/get-your-billion-back/ on April 18, 2014

Associated Press (2014). Retrieved from http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/04/15/deadline-day-many-scrambling-to-file-last-minute-tax-returns/ on April 18, 2014

DOGS VS. CATS: THE ANIMAL KINGDOM FEUD SETTLED ON A BASKETBALL COURT

“Burning the ground, I break from the crowd, I’m on the hunt.”
-Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”

The last time cats and dogs competed against each other to claim the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship was back in 1983, providing one of the most memorable moments in tournament history; frankly, in all of sports.

The last time an 8th-seeded team won a national championship, the lowest to ever do so, was in 1985 when Villanova completed one of the most amazing runs and colossal upsets in tournament history; frankly, in all of sports.

Nova realclearsports com
Photo courtesy of realclearsports.com

They too are the wildcats, how eerie.

So considering those two games, and the laziness of my research, the cats versus dogs series (Georgetown’s mascot is Jack the Bulldog) was tied at one entering last Monday’s final. The Huskies of UCONN tipped the series in favor of canines with their 60-54 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. Led by senior point guard, Shabazz (yep, that’s his name) Napier, the Huskies dominated for the most part; surging to an impressive 15-point lead during the first half. The Wildcats cut the deficit to one point more than once; however, UCONN never trailed in the game. A sporadic second half provided great defense and excitement from both squads, but experience and efficiency prevailed over youth and athleticism. After a legend retired from coaching and a storied conference disbanded, the Huskies still continued to be part of college basketball royalty by winning their 4th National Title since 1999.

Uconn men voanews com
Photo courtesy of voanews.com

Now onto the women; the Lady Huskies won their millionth (9th to be exact) championship the day after the Connecticut men raised their trophy. The matches were similar: the women only trailed once in the game and jumped out to a big lead; however, as is in women’s college basketball, the end was a lopsided affair. UCONN defeated Notre Dame 79-58. Every game except for like 7 in the history of women’s college basketball has been a blowout.

Uconn women cbsnews com
Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com

This is the second time in history that a university has swept the men’s and women’s basketball championships. Guess which institute did it the first time? That’s right! UCONN during the 2003-2004 season. This is what pride is about though. Players fight for the ball and disregard their body, they are energetic, they are sporadic, they yell, they cry after a win and they cry after a loss, and they give the game everything they have. They aren’t competing for bonuses nor are they asking for trades or barking (Husky pun) for money they believe they deserve; they are just playing basketball, a game that’s dedicated to their school colors and bragging rights amongst all 345 Division-1 schools across America. It’s about pride, not money, so the games are more meaningful. It’s about stunning the nation and rewriting history, and it’s about kids being kids.

That’s why the NCAA does the emotional “One Shinning Moment” tribute at the end of the tournament, as the NBA would probably have a rap concert to celebrate followed by a ridiculous parade that’s not for a holiday or the gay community. Instead of a parade, college students riot on campus and get arrested.

It’s similar to the family bracket pool. Everyone would rather bet with their heart, give up a billion dollars just to choose and wishfully witness their alma mater or favorite team win a national championship. Rob won the Knauf family pool this; good for him, seriously, I’m not being sarcastic or bitter at all (maybe). He made a late run, pulled off the upset, and won his first championship and, most importantly, bragging rights for another year. See, he didn’t get a parade (riot pending though).

So what have we learned through this recap? Villanova remains the best 8th-seeded team in history, dogs have the upper paw on cats, women’s college basketball is lopsided, Rob is good at guessing things, and emotional tributes to kids doing what they love to do never get old.

CBS Sports. (2014).Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/gametracker/recap/NCAAB_20140407_UK@UCONN/connecticut-starts-out-strong-holds-off-kentucky-to-win-title on April 11, 2014
Conway, T. (2014). Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2022361-ncaa-womens-championship-game-2014-uconn-vs-notre-dame-score-and-recap#articles/2022361-ncaa-womens-championship-game-2014-uconn-vs-notre-dame-score-and-recap on April 11, 2014
Real Clear Sports. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.realclearsports.com/lists/lowest_seeds_to_win_championship/1985_villanova_wildcats.html?state=stop on April 11, 2014

APD AND PROTESTORS THROW ROCKS AND CALL EACH OTHER NAMES; ONE PERSON SHOT BEFORE RECESS

“If you feel so angry, So ripped off so stepped on, You’re not the only one, Refusing to back down.”
-Three Days Grace, “Riot”

Third-world behavior has once again stricken our first-world mentality. The Albuquerque Police Department’s actions that led to the death of James Boyd are upsetting to say the least, but the reaction of the public is providing an eerie glance into the future and the direction American society could be going. Everyone is in the wrong; there are no winners in this situation.

On March 16th, 2014, local “camper” (homeless guy to regular folk), James Boyd, was approached by Albuquerque police. The 38-year-old vagabond that called almost every area of Albuquerque home (but I thought he was homeless?) was fatally gunned down by multiple officers in the foothills of the Duke City (Berman, 2014). Luckily for the media, APD officers are required to wear lapel cameras in order to record their on-duty situations for safety reasons, legal reasons, and eventually reasons for their unemployment.

Boyd has an extensive criminal history with APD, including assault with box cutters, knives, and his fists, not to mention he was on a special assignment for former president, Gerald Ford (an honor for anyone, really). After multiple complaints that the drifter was frightening people at a library back in 2010, APD confronted Boyd as he referred to himself as God and broke the nose of a female officer (Laflin, 2014). Claiming to be the Almighty and punching a girl in the face seems like a reasonable reaction.

James Boyd KOAT com
Photo courtesy of KOAT.com

During the last confrontation between officers and this soul the public has conveniently claimed to be their best friend (you’re my BFF, bro. What’s your name again?), Boyd exposed knives and threatened to kill the officers that approached him; the officers that had bean bags, mace, tasers, guns, and a dog that probably could have subdued Boyd by itself. With that in mind, instead of restraining the outnumbered crazy homeless man with the many options available, they decided to fire multiple rounds, taking the life of Boyd; at least the dog was safe. No animals were harmed in the making of this controversy. One guy with two knives being gunned down by five officers that have no math skills seems like a reasonable reaction also.

GS obedience training com
Photo courtesy of german-shepherd-obedience-training.com

The nation has been suffering from crime sparked by mental illness too much recently, but does that merit an ill-advised fatality? Of course not, and assumption needs to be controlled. On the other hand, officers have the right to protect themselves and the public if the situation is examined to be hazardous or threatening to their life. Still…

The APD has been responsible for 23 gun-related fatalities since 2010. To put that into perspective: New York City, a city that is 15 times larger than Albuquerque, has had 25 gun-related fatalities involving their police department in the last two years (Berman, 2014). Let’s do some math with rough numbers because who really has the time to figure this out anyway (not the APD, that’s for sure).

Albuquerque: 1 in 26,086 people will be shot and killed by a police officer every four years.
New York City: 1 in 170,000 people will be shot and killed by a police officer every four years.

What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing, and the calculations probably aren’t correct. However, protestors decided to let their voices be heard once again; not just in the annoying trendy way this time, but in a more rebellious way. There were threats of cyber attacks to the APD mainframe, and street protests turned physical and rocks were being hurled at APD officers. Resistance was calm for most of the day, but eventually tear gas was needed and arrests were made (surprisingly no one got shot) (Berman, 2014). Physically rebelling against your authorities and destroying the city you live in because officers acted on assumption towards a person you don’t even know seems like a reasonable reaction as well.

There’s no reason present on either side. This is stupidity at its highest level and we’re all in the wrong. You don’t kill a person that you can easily apprehend with other methods you’re well aware of through rigorous training, and you don’t rebel against the people that are protecting you day in and day out. This is simply out of control; this is why there are civil wars in the Middle East and Africa; this is why third-world nations across the world are falling apart. America is in a pretty damn good situation, and once again we are trying to destroy that; we should consider ourselves lucky for the conditions we live in compared to a majority of the world. You want to be protected, but you want to be free to act as you please? You want decisions to be made for you, but then you want power? You want this and that and everything in between?

There was a vigil for James Boyd. People gathered to pray for a man that they didn’t know; a man that cut another man outside of a homeless shelter; a man that broke the nose of an officer; a man that claimed he was God. When people were praying, were they praying for him or to him?

There are people supporting APD that the shooting was necessary, that it was the only reasonable outcome to the situation. Nothing justifies the shooting; I don’t care how much they “investigate” or examine the clip of Boyd’s death. He should be in jail or an asylum, not dead.

APD did something wrong, and now the citizens of Albuquerque are doing something wrong. Come on, people; let’s start thinking before acting.

Berman, M. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/03/31/what-is-going-on-in-albuquerque-your-guide-to-the-police-shooting-protest/ on April 4, 2014

Laflin, N. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/albuquerque/man-killed-in-foothills-officerinvolved-shooting-had-long-criminal-history/25098132 on April 4, 2014

FLIGHT 370: REVISITED…OR IS IT?

”Whatever you do, Don’t tell anyone.”
-Queens of the Stone Age, “Lost Art of Keeping a Secret”

That doesn’t make much sense, but obviously nothing seems to at the moment. The world lost a plane. Literally lost one; they can’t find it. Sure, debris has been discovered, but that could be anything. It’s the ocean; people throw stuff and pee (what does that have to do with anything?) in it all the time to the chagrin of marine life that is forced to float around with your trash and urine. What did they ever do to humans other than drowning and eating them every once in a while? We do that in bulk every day to their species (except change “drowning” to “land suffocation”). Now apparently we crashed a plane into their home.

Sponge spongefan wikia com
Photo courtesy of Spongefanwikia.com

Here is brief rundown of what happened: 227 passengers and 12 crew members take off on March 8th; the flight loses contact with air traffic control an hour later; a search begins; the search is widened; allegations against Fariq Ab Hamid and his sexy parties arise; Pouria Nourmohammadi and Seyed Mohmammed Reza Delavar stole some passports to earlier board the missing plane (probably wanted new names); the search is widened even more and 12 countries join in on the treasure hunt; they discover the last known signal (a week later); deliberate tomfoolery is confirmed; more people join in on the search; they discover the flight path was changed (over a week later); insurance payments begin; files in flight simulator were deleted; people see a bunch of things in the ocean in various spots; US sticks their nose in the situation; more floating objects sighted; search continues; relatives are updated as if they haven’t turned on a television in over two weeks; a confirmation of the flight’s fate is narrowed to a specific location; the search is suspended after they found out where it could be (hmm?); transcripts are released; and now they have no clue and are going back to the old criminal investigation scenario (Harjani, 2014).

Realistically, shit happens. There’s always the risk that something is going to malfunction or short out or leak or whatever, or even the pilot could mentally malfunction and have a serious breakdown because of a series of unfortunate events. We shouldn’t be ridiculing plane manufacturers or the psyche of pilots because this rarely happens. There are approximately 93,000 flights across the world daily, and they misplaced one plane. How many times have you looked for your keys today?

However, society loves conspiracies, government cover-ups, airplane theft, terrorist attacks, and conjuring up scenarios that are more media-friendly than a simple mechanical error or carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, when the pilots said, “Good night,” does that mean all communication is turned off and flight controllers just went on break or home for the evening? You think the plane would still be monitored even though the pilots didn’t want to talk to their colleagues anymore. Maybe they fell asleep or maybe they just couldn’t take it anymore? Let’s take a look back at some famous disappearing acts.

Amelia Earhart: The famed disappearance of the woman that pioneered female drive and growth in the air (Smith, 2014). Her fate over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 raised myths about spy operations, alien abductions, and whether or not women can operate any sort of vehicle.

The Bermuda Triangle: The strange enigma that’s bordered by Bermuda, Miami, and Puerto Rico has swallowed ships and aircrafts whole without any explanation (Smith, 2014). As conspiracy theorists look to the galaxies for answers yet again because apparently aliens have nothing better to do in an entire galaxy than mess with our heads, the paranormal phenomenon has focused on the disappearance of US military property from 1945-1963, but maybe the operators and passengers would rather have danced with the girls on South Beach or relaxed on the sands of Bermuda because they wanted to avoid going to Puerto Rico.

D.B. Cooper: The elusive and fraudulent, “Dan Cooper”, hijacked a Boeing aircraft in 1971, somehow extorted $200,000 in ransom, and escaped out the rear exit of the aircraft via parachute (Smith, 2014). The FBI’s conclusion: assuming he didn’t survive the fall. Great work, guys. Not only has this mystery been unsolved, but the story lives on about the coolest mother fucker around (wherever that may be).

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571: In 1972, 45 people disappeared over the Andes (not the mints, the mountain range). All passengers were assumed dead until 72 days later 16 people from the flight remarkably appeared. The 1993 film “Alive” was inspired by these events (Smith, 2014). If you are familiar with the film, it has forever instilled the question to ask when a dinner conversation is dying, “If you were forced to survive, which body part of your friend would you eat first?” I would say the butt or the calf.

Honorable mentions worth looking up: TWA Flight 800, Air France Flight 447, Helios Airways Flight 522, Flying Tiger Line Flight 739, Egyptair Flight 739, and BSAA Avro Lancastrian Star Dust (aliens again) (Smith, 2014).

Being that many of these flights happened near or over water, it’s very difficult to discover the key that unlocks the mysteries: the elusive and all-knowing black box (though they are actually orange). Oceans are large, 71% of the earth is covered in water. An aircraft’s black box looks to be around 2’ x 1’. If I was good at math I would take the time to compare the ratio of a needle in a haystack, but hopefully you take the expression as is.

Simpsons themobhasspoken com
“Welcome to Itchy and Scratchy land, where nothing could possi-Bly go wrong. Possibly go wrong. Hmm…that’s the first thing that’s ever gone wrong.”
Photo courtesy of themobhasspoken.com

This is a tragic situation, but we could be on the brink of another mystery. Pray for the families of the missing passengers if you pray, stop and think about your loved ones as they travel, and safely arrive and return from your destinations. This shouldn’t change your mind about flying, but considering I’m writing this before I leave on a jet plane, I’m hoping that I’ll be back again.

Spoiler alert: I made it.

Harjani, A. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101485972 on March 28th, 2014

Smith, O. (2014).Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10702745/Malaysia-Airlines-MH370-10-more-aviation-mysteries.html on March 28th, 2014