Monday, May 16, 2016

Abandoned Mine Shaft again wins title for world's sketchiest roller coaster

MOJAVE DESERT, CA - With no signage, no security features and no responsible corporate entity, Mojave's Abandoned Mine Shaft ride continues its reign as the world's sketchiest roller coaster attraction. The World's Sketchiest Amusement Park Rides Commission (WSAPRC) evaluates and names its recipient based on several criteria including safety record, accessibility, survival rate of passengers and proximity to emergency services.

"Abandoned Mine Shaft was the runaway winner in every category," said WSAPRC chair Evelyn Bosley. "In fact, we are surprised that it remains open. Then again, there's nobody to sue."

The spot was formerly held by the Derail & Flail ride at Defunct Parking StructureWorld in Wilmington, Delaware. That attraction featured a hastily assembled carnival-style ride that would go off the tracks by design, sending passengers off in various directions. Defunct Parking StructureWorld was condemned in 2013 for operating without a proper food vending license.

The very next year, the deserted, crumbling environmental hazard jumped to the first spot. One of the first factors to be considered was whether Abandoned Mine Shaft even counted as a roller coaster. "You have to push your own mine cart to the top of the track if you want to ride," said Bosley. "That knocked off a few points, but the possibility of death or injury during that process balanced it out."

Abandoned Mine Shaft is a uniquely exhilarating ride, according to WSAPRC's report. Tracks end suddenly, cars are in extreme disrepair, ceilings occasionally collapse, poisonous explosive gases gather in pockets, and there are no staff on hand to explain safety procedures before the ride begins. Statistics on injuries and deaths are hard to ascertain, as the park keeps no records of any kind. Based on indirect evidence such as piles of bones and personal effects, the commission was able to determine at least a dozen or so incidents within the past few decades.

On the bright side, there is ample parking on all sides of the park and wait times are notably short. The commission also found no evidence of muggings, which counts against the overall sketchiness factor.

Abandoned Mine Shaft's title might be threatened in the future by the reopening of Lax Regulatory Climate Park in Pericol, New Jersey.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

GMO pioneer reveals adorable TomatoCat

HUNTSVILLE - World, say hello to Catsup, the first-ever genetically modified organism (GMO) that combines genes from a cat and a tomato.

"We don't have a practical purpose in mind," said lead researcher Gail Fellows of Piddler BioLabs. "It's just a cute idea and we had the ability to do it."

Catsup's creation was a natural progression from the company's past experiments remixing the genetic material of various life forms, such as carrots, mosquitos, coyotes and viruses.

"You never know what you might get when you combine traits from vastly different organisms," said Fellows. "You could create a grape that transmits vaccinations to millions, or maybe a mushroom that dissolves skyscrapers and is impervious to all known herbicides. No telling."

The question on everyone's mind is whether the cat will taste like tomato. Cursory observation of the tomato-cat's litter box suggests otherwise.

"Let's just say the output of this tomato-cat, while arguably tomato paste-like in consistency and color, is definitely not similar in taste or smell to tomatoes and could just mean that this poor creature is near death."

WhateverLand: hyper-realistic unthemed park celebrates 50-ish years

The world's largest theme park, WhateverLand, passes another anniversary that seems to be around the 50 to 70 year mark.

"No one is really sure when it opened," said publicist Levi Townsend of the so-called 'Realest Place on Earth.' "There still aren't any signs or tickets. You just kind of find your way in."

Criticized often for its overpriced food, drink, souvenirs and cost of living, WhateverLand is notable for making no effort to please its visitors. In fact, despite the highest revenues of any park, this one has crumbling infrastructure and lags severely behind most others in terms of upkeep. Little is known of the park that preceded WhateverLand, although visitors sometimes tell stories of how much better it was. Some have speculated that an effort to make the park more believable involved letting go of pretenses and making the experience more "real".

The dangers are real, too. Unlike parks that thrill visitors with simulated threats from space aliens, dinosaurs or mummies, WhateverLand has a chaotic record of visitor deaths from automobile accidents, drug overdoses, gun violence and much more. Park managers point out that most visitors make it through each day.

One problem the park has is defining its theme. Ask anyone inside and you'll get a different answer.

"You really could say that this theme park has no theme," said Townsend, "because I'm stumped to find a consistent thread through all the different attractions."
Visitors can walk right up to the exhibits and interact with park employees.
For example, the Crappy Suburban Sprawl ride spans thousands of square miles across the entire North American continent, and it seems to be steadily incorporating all the other rides. Gigantic housing developments, half-abandoned strip malls and vacant lots make up part of this attraction, but there is no brochure to explain the transition between it and the less popular ones like Outdoors and Flyover Country.

The Big Cities ride is still quite popular, and even though its numerous locations are often crowded visitors report that the lines move quicker than in Crappy Suburban Sprawl. In any case, very few people live more than a few minutes drive from a WhateverLand attraction.

"People keep saying that WhateverLand is in decline," said Townsend, "but it'll keep kicking for decades to come. Those same people keep coming here and spending money, so that's saying something."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Scavenger Lobby protests declining quality, volume of scraps

WASHINGTON, DC - A coalition of squirrels, rats, raccoons, pigeons and other scavengers testified before Congress this week to bring attention to the dwindling quality and amount of food in the nation's trash.

"Composting probably presents the most serious threat to our diet," said Dan Skippy, a squirrel from suburban Charleston, West Virginia. "with better diet being a close second. As more households and businesses eat healthier foods and less of it, there's less really calorie-dense food of the sort that vermin prefer."

The scavenger group presented evidence that leftover food disposed of in composting bins is both less palatable and less accessible.

"It's hard enough to get to it, but it's also mixed in with dirt and previously composted materials," said a raccoon from Arizona known as Dwight. "Have you ever eaten a tomato that's been rolled around in dirt?"

The House Subcommittee on Listening to Absolutely Everyone's Complaints has yet to issue any findings from the hearing.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Crappy lo-fi album released in HD audio for some reason

SAN DIEGO, CA - An album universally considered to be one of the worst of the last 10 years is being released in high definition (HD) audio this week.

Solo artist Joey Vreeslike's debut effort, "Sad Man and Rain" is, according to critics and listeners, badly written, badly performed and badly recorded. Only 5 listeners have gotten past the first few seconds of each track on Vreeslike's Spotify stream.

Now the album is being distributed in 24-bit, 96kHz format - several times more resolution than CD quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz), to the puzzlement of nearly everyone concerned.

"This pile of mush sounds like it was recorded with a can opener," said record store owner Morton Weber. "Even if someone likes it, I really don't see what benefit they're going to get listening to it in higher quality. They probably spent more time on the cover art than the whole album."

The artwork featured on the album is not even the artist. Apparently the cover picture was snagged from a photo site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Guy brings store brand ketchup to cookout

PLEASANT HEIGHTS - A company cookout took an awkward turn earlier today when a coworker brought a store brand ketchup as part of his contribution to the potluck-style gathering.

"Vic from outside sales, man," said project manager Pete Wordley of Gunther Implements, a tool manufacturer. "He just doesn't get it. You can skimp on the paper plates, the potato chips, the table cloth if you have to, but ketchup? What was it, like another dollar to get name brand?"

Victor Grayson, outside sales manager of Gunther Implements, was responsible for bringing enough ketchup for burgers and dogs for the company's twenty employees and their families, as well as napkins. He successfully calculated the sufficient quantity of ketchup, but fellow employees took issue with his choice.

"I'm not really a brand loyalist kind of person, but come on," said Rhonda Miles, senior office manager for Gunther. "I guess we'll make do. I haven't tried this brand, so we'll see."

Inhofe takes rock to Senate floor to disprove earthquakes

"It wasn't shaking where I was."

WASHINGTON, DC - Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma addressed the Senate today with a rock to demonstrate that the ground was, in fact, still.

"Sure, you've got some movement in some places. Ground moves all the time in places like California," said Inhofe. "But where I was, where this rock came from, and most of Oklahoma, was dead calm."

The senator's home state of Oklahoma has been in the news for swarms of earthquakes in a state where there had been very few each year over magnitude 3.

"Convulsion is not causation," said Inhofe's representative.
Seismologists and geologists have suggested that the rise in earthquakes is related to the increased activity in fracking wastewater injection wells, barring any explanation by natural variation in seismicity. 
"Look at all those quakes over in Raton," said a lobbyist for the Responsible Energy American Eagle Heritage Exploration Foundation.

Inhofe famously refuted anthropogenic (man-made) global warming in 2015 by bringing a snowball to the Senate floor. Because it was cold where he was on this day, he reasoned, how could it be warming elsewhere over decades and centuries?

Reached for comment on the fracking/earthquake debate, Inhofe's office said he plans to continue with the same GOP strategy as for climate change:

1. It isn't happening.
2. It's kinda happening, but it's not humans' fault.
3. Okay, it's happening, but there's nothing we can do about it now that we've waited so long.

Chemtrails found to cause belief in chemtrails

RUSSELTON, AL - The long-debated and long-dismissed conspiracy theory about "chemtrails," the belief that governmental agencies are using high-flying aircraft to disperse chemical or biological agents into the atmosphere, finally has an answer rooted in science.

What they'e spraying is a substance that makes people believe in chemtrails.

Believers in the theory speculate that the government might be up to numerous nefarious acts, including population control, weather modification or reversing global warming. In fact, the chemical released by the planes has a single purpose: to make subjects believe that chemtrails are a real thing.

The droplets of the as-yet undisclosed substance are sprayed out of dispensers affixed to jet airliners at 30,000 feet or more, where they hang in the atmosphere for hours and eventually drift out over other states and countries hundreds of miles away. When they do finally reach the ground, humans inhale it and find the whole idea plausible.

Paradoxically, the same substance makes others susceptible to rejection of the chemtrail theory and become demanding of evidence.

The long-term purpose for the chemtrails has yet to be revealed, but numerous web sites and broadcasters have built careers speculating on a possible motive.

Ninja attacks decrease as more buildings omit rafters

Drywall saves lives

IGAMONO, JAPAN - Professional ninjas, a type of covert mercenary agent engaged in espionage, sabotage, assassination or guerrilla warfare, are having a tougher time doing their job thanks to modern architecture.

Builders and homeowners in recent history are leaning more towards solid vaulted ceilings, which present an obstacle to the famously stealthy warriors. While ninjas worth their salary can still infiltrate nearly any structure, the lack of rafters or trusses makes concealment more difficult.

Ninja union representatives also express concerns about outsourcing. "Budget ninjas" are cropping up in markets that were once dominated only by strictly trained masters, in part because they don't need to train in the ancient art of rafter-hopping, or "Intonjutsu."

"These low-rent assassins just wait outside your door and bonk you over the head when you leave," said Tomo Sukesada of the Ninjutsu Local 43. "There's no artistry in that."

So even though actual attacks by ninjas are on the decline, the public should still be wary of pseudo-ninjas who are fortunately less effective.

Couple recognizes selves in news footage on obesity

WALVILLE, AR - Ted and Becky Hogaard were watching a local news report on obesity when they realized that their own backsides were visible in file footage used for the story.

"I said to Becky 'That looks like my shirt,' and by golly it was," said Ted Hogaard, who had called her into the room. "She said 'Yep, sure is, and I know because that's my skirt too!'"

The couple had been visiting Walville Town Center, a mixed use commercial and residential shopping area.

"We saw the camera there that day, must have been Saturday," said Becky Hogaard, who had just picked up several prescriptions. "Didn't think much of it, but they must have filmed us because everybody else was moving too quick."

The couple of 31 years captured the news segment on DVR and shared it with several friends and relatives who came by for a cookout. Due to the excitement, the story on the looming threat of obesity was not audible.

"Not every day you get on TV," said Becky.

Gluten Sensitivity Utterance Apoplexy recognized as new disorder

If the words "gluten intolerance" send you into a fury, you might have Gluten Sensitivity Utterance Apoplexy.
MELBOURNE, MN - While scientific study is still ongoing over the issue of whether or not Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) exists, researchers have definitively diagnosed a new, related disorder: Gluten Sensitivity Utterance Apoplexy (GSUA).

"It's a fit of rage triggered by the mere mention of gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or other avoidance," said lead researcher Jared Lachnan. "Suppose you're at a restaurant, and one guest at your table inquires about the gluten content of a menu item. Another guest flies off the handle, frothing at the mouth and yelling in fits of rebuttal like 'gluten intolerance doesn't exist' and so forth. That second person may be suffering from Gluten Sensitivity Utterance Apoplexy."

"There's a lot of back-and-forth out there about gluten itself and who might be sensitive to it for various reasons," said Lachnan. "The bread we have today is made from wheat far different from what it was a century ago, so who knows? We have much to learn still, and we don't have a final answer on that yet. We do, however, have a great many unbalanced individuals out there shouting at others and commenting relentlessly."

The syndrome is relatively new to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, so diagnosis and treatment options are still in development. Symptoms include incessant citation of articles and studies, histrionic skepticism, ridicule of supposed gluten intolerant people and contemptuous consumption of bread.

Curiously, there are detractors who claim that GSUA itself is an imagined disorder.

"Imagine a disease that sends you around the bend when someone suggests that they've got a potential medical issue, then that person in turn is ridiculed for having a made-up malady."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Comedy writers taking refuge in politics

WASHINGTON DC - Frustrated that real life increasingly negates the function of satire, humorists are taking their craft to the world of politics.

"Voters have been commenting on how surreal this election season has been, like how it writes itself," said standup comedian Dale Bridger. "Surely you didn't think this level of absurdity just happens."

Bridger is referring to the growing corps of comedians and comedy writers who have fled the entertainment market to develop ongoing episodes of Election 2016, the reality show format so new and changing that it doesn't yet have a name.

"It's been easy to get on with various campaigns," said Myra Nash, a writer who used to work on hit sitcoms. "You don't even have to be with the presidential candidates. There's plenty of corporate cash to go around, and endless material."

Nash is referring to the bizarre, unfathomable actions and statements made by politicians across the board. "Pick a subject. Guns, immigration, economy. Instead of them saying something mildly controversial and then we make fun of them, we just have the good stuff pop right out of their mouths."

Bridger points to a turning point between 2012 and 2014 where the election cycles became "too weird" for him and his colleagues to keep up.

"The 2000s were crazy, but stable in terms of how to work the angles. Then Obama got in, and the Tea Party went full derangement mode. It was hard, because how do you ridicule something that's doing most of the work for you? But then, 2015 happened."

Bridger and Nash refer to Donald Trump's entrance into the presidential race as "The Trumpening," an epochal event that separated everything that came before from everything after.

The political landscape got so weird that comedians had a hard time translating it into relevant material. By the time there were a dozen candidates running for president, Nash and Bridger knew something was up. They contacted friends and discovered that several of them had signed up as writers.

"Not just speech writers. They were scripting entire campaigns," said Nash. "We definitely wanted in on that." Due to strict nondisclosure agreements, the pair cannot reveal what words or actions were bits that they wrote, but she assures voters that she and Bridger took part in "many of the howlers you've seen shared on Facebook."

Some of the more amusing moments, Bridger contends, came from writers who had worked in pro wrestling. The art of presenting contenders as heroes or villains, sometimes each in succession, in the context of a fake conflict, fit perfectly with the theater of Washington.

As for the actual result of the 2016 elections, Bridger and Nash are more solemn.

"Nothing's really going to change," said Bridger. "That's all been decided already by the higher-ups. Our job is to keep regular people gnawing at each others' throats so nothing meaningful gets done. And they pay us quite well to do it."