Weighing sensitivity against steely resolve
At his final campaign rally before the general election on Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa, President Obama shed a tear. A venturesome reporter from Iowa’s WHO-TV asked the President about it delicately and left him an easy out.
“A photographer got a little tear going down your left cheek,” the newsman said. “Was that the cold out there or was that emotion?”
The reporter’s real question, however, was unmistakable: Did the president of the United States just cry in public?
Turn back time tonight and get an extra hour of sleep.
It’s time to fall back. Clocks in every time zone should be reset from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. in Sunday’s wee hours, affording an extra hour of sleep for all but the hardiest night owls, who instead get an extra hour of insomnia.
In case you’re tossing and turning about daylight saving time (DST), here’s why we adjust our clocks twice a year.
Note that there’s no “s” on the end of daylight saving — after all, it’s not a coupon. However, the practice of resetting clocks was in a very real way based on saving money.
An unlikely heroine emerges from comic-strip history.
Sadie Hawkins Day, which is the first Saturday of November, has been known for decades as a once-a-year chance for women to turn the tables on men — a day for girls to ask boys to a dance, to dinner, maybe even to marry. But just who is this Hawkins heroine?
If you’re looking through the history books for a suffragette or early feminist, good luck. Truth is, there was no Sadie Hawkins — at least not of flesh and blood. She was only of pen and paper.
Sadie was a creation of Al Capp, the cartoonist most famous for his long-running Li’l Abner comics. Set in the hick town of Dogpatch, Li’l Abner strips were populated by a wickedly politically-incorrect set of folk with strong southern accents and severe underbites, like local matriarch Mammy Yokum, who packed a mean punch and a corn-cob pipe.
Hallowed history and mysterious myths.
“Hallow” is an antiquated term for a saint or a holy person, and the evening before All Hallows Day is All Hallows Evening — abbreviated years ago to Hallow Evening, then Hallowe’en, then Halloween.
But wait, you knew that. Here are a few lesser-known nuggets to drop in your bucket this sugar-coated holiday.
Jack and his lantern — We get the lantern part, but why jack-o’-lantern? Is he Irish? Well, yes — Halloween history crosses over with the Gaelic tradition of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). “Jack of the lantern” has parallel origins to “Will of the wisp,” with both Jack and Will being characters from folk tales whose spirits were doomed to haunt the marshes for their misdeeds. Jack’s lantern and Will’s wisp of sticks were lit to shed light and tempt travelers off safe path. But you know, if you’re walking through a marsh on Halloween, you kinda deserve what you get.
A veteran is running across America — 26 miles every day — planting flags for fallen soldiers.
“Seeing America this way is very pure,” says Mike Ehredt. “I think back to the first people who came here, how they crossed our country on foot. I appreciate each mile and each person a little bit more.”
Mike is running as he talks — I can hear his feet hitting the ground as steadily as a metronome. Since Aug. 23 he’s been covering the distance of a marathon every single day and will continue doing so until Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day. At each mile he stops and places a flag for a fallen soldier killed in the war in Afghanistan.
This morning finds him on the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway just outside of Raymond, Miss. A specially designed app on his phone indicates he is 1,691 miles into his 2,100 mile run — a path that bisects the country from International Falls, Minn., to Galveston, Texas.
If you thought dwarf-tossing was weird….
Sabine Langer is the envy of valets everywhere. Destroying once and for all the bigoted stereotype that blondes can’t drive, this fair-haired resident of Düsseldorf, Germany, has been crowned German Parking Champion.
The Mother of All K-Turners earned her title in a five-stage competition that entailed parking a limousine, mastering the awkward horizontal gear shift of a Citroen 2CV, and nestling a rickety three-wheeler into a tight space. She also had to master parking while blindfolded, which may be familiar to anyone who’s been in a Target parking lot lately.
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Langer told a local newspaper that the toughest trial in the competition was parking an articulated lorry, which is even harder for Americans because we don’t know what an articulated lorry is. But that’s just European for a tractor-trailer — the kind that jackknifes on highways, where the back end of the trailer skids around toward the cab, blocking all lanes of traffic when other people need to be somewhere on time.
Here are more oddball competitions we don’t recommend.
No time for planet Earth in this political climate.
For the first time since the 1988 race between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, climate change was not directly addressed in a single presidential debate this year. No doubt everything’s A-OK with the polar ice caps and the ocean levels. No need to fret about those wildfires and droughts and unprecedented storms. Everything’s cool, so to speak.
Environmentalists want to know why climate change has evaporated as a prevalent political issue, a phenomenon dubbed “climate silence.”
A linguistic tick is ticking folks off.
Seldom have two presidents stood in starker contrast than George W. Bush and Barack Obama, which is one reason it’s been so jarring to hear President Obama pick up a nagging Bushism: misuse of the word “folks.”
Both presidents have seized on it in an attempt to be, well, folksy. For President Obama it goes hand in hand with the unlikely droppin’ of his g’s, like Tom Sawyer goin’ fishin’. There’s nothing wrong with the word itself — it’s the context folks find mighty strange. Obama used it four times in last night’s debate alone, and though that’s a welcome change from the 17 times in the last debate (as noted by Huffington Post editor Zoë Triska), each use caught like a hook in the ear.