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The Heat Lightning: Opinion

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You don’t need us or anyone else to tell you that the FCAT is a joke, but just in case, here’s more evidence that Florida’s standardized testing scheme on which its entire education system is now based is horribly flawed.

by John Spain, posted Apr 19, 04:05 PM · Comment

Revisiting Boy Scouts

A month or so ago, I posted a link to an article questioning whether the Boy Scouts were still relevant. Aaron posted an immensely personal response to it that is very much worth a read. The thrust of his argument is that despite concerns over conformity and the social policies of the organization in general, the experience is a highly positive one for his 7 year old son.

A recent post on MAKE magazine’s blog reminded me that I had yet to have responded to Aaron’s post. MAKE’s article focuses on the fact that Boy (and Girl) Scouts are long overdue for an overhaul that will bring them fully into the digital age. In contrast though, I feel (and I believe Aaron would agree) that Scouting’s backward approach to social conformity and creating “upstanding citizens” is at the heart of its real problems and it’s inability to embrace technology is a symptom rather than the disease. Discussion, as well as delving deeper into my own reasons for leaving Boy Scouts when I was a kid, below the jump.

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by John Spain, posted Mar 5, 01:10 PM · Comment [1]


So I quit the Boy Scouts after getting a lecture on the 10 Commandments and saying to myself “I’m the only one here who doesn’t smoke a ton of pot but I’m being chastised for saying ‘god dammit’?” This week marks the Scouts’ 102nd anniversary and Wired reprinted a really interesting article asking whether the Boy Scouts are still relevant. Religious (and potentially discriminatory viewpoints) aside, the values they promote are so backward that I can’t think of an organization more in need of a refresh.

by John Spain, posted Feb 10, 10:26 AM · Comment [2]

Happy holidays: In defense of laughing at church

obama laugh

Earlier this week, I put together a list of the saddest Christmas songs inspired by the most miserable of them all “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I even wrote an intro. But last night at the longest midnight mass of all time, I realized, in the midst of a fit of laughter, that Christmas isn’t entirely bad after all.

The family ended up at an Episcopalian church somewhere near Homestead. All smoky with incense, it was like a wooden womb decorated with a great big glowing rainbow cross. I thought the atmosphere was fitting for some jazzy X-mas tunes. Who knew these Anglicans would put us through a two hour service that literally started with Genesis and ended with… well, who knows, we left before the end.

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Václav Havel: a casual rememberence

vaclav havel “Tidy yourself up! We might be Czechs, but we don’t have to let the rest of the world know.” This is apparently one of the lingeringly popular jokes from The Good Soldier Švejk, one of the resounding classics of Czech literature. The fact that I don’t find it any funnier than you will tell you what you need to know about my embarrassingly sparse connection to Czech literature (if the fact that I had to Google it didn’t tip you off). With that serving as a pre-emptive appology, let me tell you as best as I can why Václav Havel was important (without any more Googling, I promise).

At the end of World War II, Roosevelt and Churchill sold my people out to Stalin at Yalta, and the big ‘ol Iron Curtain fell on us. And while it was a light-sneeze version of the Stalinist/Totalitarian sort of thing that they’re, for example, still living up in North Korea to this day, it was still a very different lifestyle from ordinary poverty. There’s an extremely real paranoia that exists, because even if you’ve never gone before the officials on charges that were made against you buy anonymous spies, you know that it happens all the time. Also, this: you can join “The Communist Party” or not. YOUR CHOICE. If you don’t join, the government and others in positions of power won’t trust you. You’ll be denied perks, career advancement, and safety. If you do join, you’ll loose the respect and trust of all your friends. Unless they’re all Party members too. But those are the people with sticks up their ass, right? You either sacrifice your integrity or you sacrifice your prosperity and comfort.

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NBA players join the workforce: here are some suggested jobs

manute bol

The National Basketball Association’s lockout has reached Day 151 (as of Oct. 30), and is stretching its way into the beginning of the season. Commissioner David Stern rubs his Troll fingers together after canceling a month’s worth of games, and counts the bars of gold he hides under his bed (totally not politically correct to compare a Jewish man to a gold hungry troll). Union Reps feel like the Three Billy Goats Gruff, asking to pass Stern’s toll bridge, while promising a fatter meal in the future. Yet everything stays status quo, and no resolutions are made.

While some superstars play All-Star events, make commercials mocking the stupid things that come out of their mouths, or sign fake contracts to play in Italy, there’s still the 400 or so other players twiddling their thumbs figuratively staring at the walls but actually spending lots and lots of time in strip clubs. I suppose the more disciplined players will spend their time in gyms trying to stay in peak athletic condition, but a lot of players are going to have to find ways to fund their addictions to Cristal, impregnating white women, and buying the newest Bentley in all 8 different colors.

So, before they have to declare bankruptcy and play in the Israeli Basketball Leagues, here is a short list of money making opportunities that put basketball player’s best assets to work:

Cleaning Services
Unfortunately for Home Depot, the NBA lockout will lead to a significant drop in step ladder sales. These guys can get to anything, I’ve seen it happen. Cabinet tops, ceiling moldings, or that corner of your living you can’t quite reach with a broom and there’s been a spider living there for three years and you’ve gotten used to him, even gave him a name, but now that the little guy is gone you’re pretty grateful.

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It’s been said before but it bears repeating: modern Journalism needs to stop screwing itself.

by John Spain, posted Oct 31, 07:50 PM · Comment

Unrequited crushes

subway crush

We all have unrequited crushes
be they half-asleep
or mostly dead criminals,
these hunky finds will keep hope alive for the phrase “I don’t have a type.”


What's The Deal With All the Kindles?

I just read your e-mail lol

So Amazon introduced 3 new Kindles that as of writing are being offered alongside now-discounted existing models. This means they now have 7 versions (counting the DX) of the Kindle currently on the market – three with keyboards, three with touchscreens, and one with a little toggle switch, a few buttons and little else.

If one is to believe the gadget media, these things are basically the second coming. There’s a really cheap e-reader now! Except if you want it without ads it’ll be an extra $30, jacking up the price by 40%. But forget that – There’s an iPad competitor that does Flash! Except in order to function properly, it needs to pass all data through Amazon’s cloud servers. These servers will gently massage your websites for you in preparation for delivery into your Fire’s waiting maw, not unlike a mother penguin regurgitating fish for it’s young.

The above mental image aside, doesn’t this strike anyone else as weird? Amazon is taking data from a website, making cliff notes, then passing you these cliff notes. Not only that, but it’s keeping a copy of these notes for the purposes of predicting what website you’ll be going to next. People flipped out over Facebook’s privacy but not this?

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Take it and like it, an advice column: old and single, whadda I do?


I’m over 30, straight, and no one wants to date me. I would like to procreate one day. What should I do? -One Sad Lonely Bitch in Miami.

Ah, you poor lonely bitch. It’s a tricky situation. First, I would recommend you get off of your ass and stop feeling sorry for yourself – that’s not helping anyone. Not your friends, who have to listen to your bitching and complaining, and not YOU who has to listen to yourself bitch and complain. You have less time than you did ten years ago it’s necessary that you get your ass in gear. Guys are getting “better looking” and us ladies have a number of “clocks” to compete against.

Next, wear more blush. Blush never hurt anyone. Adding the rosy cheeks of youth will convince no one that you’re 19, but it will help you feel better and look prettier. Old isn’t a problem, but ugly never got no one nothing but pity.

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My first time was in Stoughton, Mass., her name was Gloria, it was the autumn of 1985

hurricane gloria

Inspired by the video John Spain posted on our Facebook wall of Hurricane Gloria .

Growing up in Miami mostly, I’ve ridden out dozens of massive storms, but like with sex, the most memorable hurricane was my first. It was Gloria and we were in Stoughton, Massachusetts. It was 1985, before moving to South Florida was a permanent consideration for my family. My father was away at medical school and my mother, brother, and I were hunkered down at my grandparents’ government subsidized two-bedroom. Like with all hurricanes, we were bubbling with anticipation.

Probably the most exciting thing about wind is its unpredictability. Halfway through the storm, my grampy invited me to walk out into storm with him. He kept an eye on me as I slowly edged my way into the winds where the rain whipped at my skin like pellets. Of course it didn’t take long for it to almost knock me on my back. When you’re six, feeling helpless is something you do, it happens regularly. Your cousins throw you around. You’re small, you get pushed about, but rarely does a force of nature other than a stomach virus make you lose all control. Feeling the wind pick me up, trying to get my footing again; it is one of the most powerful feelings to feel so powerless.

I got scared and ran inside.

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Brilliant drunk phone book entries: includes Beeeeeef Beeferton & Ashley I'm too drunk bro

george drunk phone 1

THL pal George gave us this magnificent and real list of iPhone entries he typed in his phone while very drunk. Enjoy these babies. They’re the tits.

Read the rest after the jump!

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Comedian John Wynn talks with Liz Tracy about Meryl Streep, eating dog, & self-loathing

John Wynn thinks comedy is about connecting with the audience, and the best way to do that is by talking about your personal life. Basically, you’ll learn more about the guy’s home life by watching him at a show than I did in this conversation. I sat down with Wynn and we connected by laughing to the soundtrack of Latin Cafe. It was fun. If you can hear us over the salsa music, you’ll enjoy the banter.

Check out this funny dude at the Moustache Ride Comedy Show organized by Jessica Gross on July 13 at 8 p.m. at Lester’s (2519 NW 2nd Ave).


My search to find something fun to do now that Bar is closed

javi bar

When I lived down south, I still used to drive out like four times a week to go to PS14, which is what Bar was once called (Bar is possibly the stupidest name for a bar ever). It was where you could find me – like Dorothy Over the Rainbow. I just loved it there.

It was filthy, always. Even after it was jazzed up and then jazzed down, it was still a shithole. The bathroom floors were always covered in fluids, ten people often emerged from behind the lock-less doors. The smell of pot wafted around like it was legal. The cheapest of drinks were drunk. There were fights, and bad music and great music. I danced on that filthy floor. I watched endless games of pool. Now that Bar is closed. It’s been a struggle. There’s nowhere I want to go. No place with basically free drinks where I can dance with people I mostly know. No lawless location where punches are thrown and the only consequences are rolled eyes. No more walking home alone at 4 a.m.

Now, who knows what’ll happen to the space, but as far as I’ve heard, I don’t think it’ll be opening as an independent spot. Enough reminiscing. I made an effort to go out this weekend and have fun in a world without Bar, and needless to say, it was a challenge. Here’s the rundown.

Friday: The Bass, The Abbey, failed attempt to go to the Shelbourne

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Five reasons why they must acquit Casey Anthony

casey anthony 1

The Casey Anthony trial is just about over. The stakes are high. The case is pretty damn serious and now it’s up to the jury to decide her fate. The defense’s closing arguments were strong. Did they create reasonable doubt? They just might have.

Here are a few reasons why the jury might just acquit this loon.

During closing arguments, head prosecutor for the State repeatedly made facial expressions, mocking the defense through body language. That is one-thousand percent unprofessional and could create a bias in the minds of the jurors. At one point the prosecutor actually laughed at the defense’s arguments. In addition, the prosecutors repeatedly objected during the closing arguments, which is usually taboo in such cases. In summation, prosecutors are dickheads, not all the time, but sometimes. And if the prosecution oversold its case, acting like a cocky little shit, if you were a juror, you just might have to acquit.

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The quick shit: meditations on time spent in the restroom

bathroom stormtroopers

Jimmy Tracy is a nurse.

I meditated about anal hygiene on this site last year, but I sense that another scatological debate begs for the light of day. Picture, if you will, a stack of magazines next to a toilet. My entire life, I have never done more than stare at the cover of the one on top while I took care of business (Playboys excepting, of course). It gradually dawned on me that people actually read articles, or even entire magazines, while shitting. My question boils down to this: How huge are these anaconda shits and may I please see what took you 10 minutes to push out?

I feel as though I may be tempting fate. Not because I’m asking to look at your stool, but because I don’t want to ridicule the unwell. I can’t judge anyone with bowel disease or acute infectious diarrhea. Take your time – I’ll use the shitter upstairs. For that matter, older folks have slower gastrointestinal motility. If I let my father-in-law beat me to the bathroom, I only have myself to blame. My issue is with healthy young people. Your stacks of magazines tell the story. You need to wrap it up. People are waiting.

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Dave Landsberger's poetic stance on Chicago-Miami sports and a flamingo

heat bulls

Dave Landsberger recently contributed poetry to complement photos for the hard to explain, subscription postcard magazine Abe’s Penny. Landsberger lived in Miami for three years before moving home to Chicago last year. According to him, “I miss my Miami friends, the ocean, and el Rey de las fritas.” He currently teaches English and literature at Harper College. Read more of his poems here after you read the ones below. He enjoys writing poems about sports. We like to read his poems about sports. We sent him several photos and he added one and so we have his poetic reaction to some tense Chicago-Miami sports games and a clip art of a flamingo.

heat bulls

A Michael Jordan jersey is a white boy’s passport to the ghetto in Chicago.
Last week I got called a “face nigger”. Was it my beard? Who cares.
Chicken & fries & white bread & Flamin’ Hot Cheeto bags in the streets.

These blizzards combust you, cover you like white wicker baskets,
letting just enough sunlight slip in, so,
who cares, game’s on,

Bulls vs. Heat, who cares; always something to be proud about.
All famous black people come from Chicago,
The Harlem Renaissance 2: The Big Score.

marlins cubs

Be it a billy goat or an expansion team in teal,
Another reason will manifest from the prairie grass to contra.
Real Marlins fans exist; I’ve seen them Casino-style and cartwheel
To the scent of nacatamales, down and up three Kia Sephias,
Marrying the scent of Miami fall (live here two years, you’ll smell it too) outside the bastille
And bonkers of Whatever’s Paying Us Stadium. Cubbies, change your jerseys to aqua.
Name another blame: a farm animal, or yourselves?

Check out the other two after the jump.

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