You would think that teachers in Texas, home of Texas Instruments, would know what a science project looks like versus, say, oh … a bomb. And yet 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was taken out of school by police in handcuffs on Monday after teachers reported his rebuilt digital clock as a potential bomb. And just to make sure he really learned his lesson (something along the lines of why Muslims in America might go radical), he was reportedly suspended as well.
So, yes, the school predicatably overreacted and potentially based on prejudice. But, that’s not the most concerning part. The Real Story takes place when things went bad for Mohamed: in English class.
He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.
‘She was like, it looks like a bomb,’ he said.
‘I told her, “It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”’
The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.
Wait … what?! She wasted time arguing that the digital clock that had disturbed class by acting like a clock was a bomb, and then kept what she thought was a bomb? In the school?! And the kid gets suspended?
If this is what it looks like when the faculty of MacArther High goes out of its way to handcuff a brown kid, we’d hate to see what happens if they ever face a real emergency.
The Guys read the news every day. We’re such old hands at it that we sometimes recognize when a story misses the point, usually buried in the third paragraph or so. So, while white bread and white rice may make you depressed (because, damn, that food is bleak), “greater consumption of dietary fibre, whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruits is associated with decreased depression risk.” (OK, paragraph two.)
Fiber? Whole grains? Fruit and vegetables? It’s not eating that makes you feel better: it’s pooping.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re gonna go improve our mood with a session of Angry Turds.
Every so often, the entire media focuses on one aspect of a story, only to miss the real story hidden in their report. When that happens, The Guys point out The Real Story.
China, fresh from their row with America’s fourth-most-famous current late night talk show host, is back in the media spotlight, this time for only pledging $100,000 in aid to the Philippines, and then only raising that amount to $1.6 million after the island nation was struck by earthquakes and Typhoon Haiyan. But, the real story is who outbid them:
China’s pledge, which it boosted after getting flack for its original offer of $100,000, is a fraction of the amounts pledged by other countries in the region and much farther away, including the USA, which pledged $20 million. Australia promised $30 million. The United Kingdom offered $16 million. Japan and United Arab Emirates each pledged $10 million. Ikea is sending $2.7 million, according to Unicef.
Yes, Ikea is sending aid to the Phillipines. The only problem is that, once it arrives, the Filipinos will have to put that aid together themselves. So, get ready for the next disaster to hit the archipelago: rising divorce rates and dangerously unsteady malms.
But, the real story is one that was briefly mentioned and that we’re still waiting for: what the researchers were doing when they figured this out.
“[Dr. Eric] Vilain and his team, whose findings are reported in the online edition of the Public Library of Science One journal, made the discovery while studying 34 pairs of identical male twins with different sexual orientations” [emphasis ours].
Sometimes, everything you need to know in a story is right there in the first sentence. Sometimes, its buried further down. And, sometimes, its buried so deep that the story itself is about something else entirely. That’s where “The Real Story” comes in.
According to Time, the story is that China has started distributing free antiretroviral treatments to 63 percent of those in their population who are infected with HIV. The other 37 percent? Not so much, because they got pre-AIDS from sex or drug use.
In order for this item to be news, this would mean believing that the Chinese government can do anything without at least one evil element.
No, the real story here is how the worldwide medical community rates the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment: in “person-years,” or “an estimate of the number of years that would have been lost due to early death from AIDS.”
We’re sorry. Your dog may be 12 in “dog years,” but in “person-years?” Barkplug has AIDS.
UCLA archaeologists uncovered the world’s oldest winery, stretching humanity’s history with crunk juice all the way back to 4000 BC now. The ancient Armenian wine was believed to be used for funerals, usually held daily between 5 and 8 pm. It is believed to have evolved into “Happy Hour” once hygiene was invented.
But, that’s not the real story.
Every so often, the real story gets buried in the later paragraphs. Say, story, what was the oldest use of grape seeds before this discovery?
“The oldest previous evidence of grape seeds and other organic materials dates to around 3150 BC and was found in the tomb of the Egyptian king Scorpion I.”
That’s right: there really was a Scorpion King. And here we thought that was the most ridiculous of all the Mummy films.
No, the headline above is not a LOL; it’s purely observation of a phenomenon witnessed only in Washington D.C. and Mr. Magoo’s torture cellar: clueless execution. And, as Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. hoped, the Associated Press missed it in the midst of their story about an FDA bill.
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. got an agreement to move the legislation by allowing Republicans to offer amendments not relevant to the bill. […] Coburn is expected to offer an amendment to place a moratorium on spending for ‘earmarks,’ or pet projects in lawmakers’ states and districts[.]”
Alright, technically, it’s not an earmark. But it sure ain’t a straightforward bill, neither.
When it comes to modern leadership, there aren’t a lot of charismatic characters.
You get the wannabes like Kim Jong Il, who think parades and sorority girl sunglasses make them colorful and interesting. There are the merely entertaining like Sarah Palin, the Snooki of politics who doesn’t lead anything and thinks any attention is good attention. And let’s not forget the many boring 6-to-9ers that think attendance is a real achievement.
But then there’s Vladimir Putin.
Vlad’s in the news for what appear to be covered-up bruises on his cheeks. The press wants to know what exactly he’s rouging up, and the latest theory is plastic surgery.
Yet, they once again missed the real story, right there in the image caption:
Where is this story?! We heard he shot one, but tiger wrestling? That’s gotta be illegal somewhere!
The test subjects reported “less emotional response to some emotional video clips, and as a result, did not feel their emotions quite as deeply as their counterparts who received treatment with a wrinkle filler called Restylane.” Oh, my!
“That said, those who received Botox reacted to the same to video clips after their injection as they did before they received the injections.” [Emphasis ours.]
So, despite this admission in the article itself, it still maintained a “botox may kill emotions” standpoint when the results were no different before and after injections. The real story here isn’t that botox kill emotions, but that people who get botox treatments may be emotionally shallow or even dead inside already.
You ever read an article–be it in magazine or on news site–and notice one nugget of information that proves the author wrote the article about the wrong subject?
Case in point:“While My Guitar Gently Beeps” (New York Times Magazine) was about how Harmonix and the remaining Beatles and widows developed not only an authentically-mastered Beatles track pack for Rock Band, but also a system for future bands to simultaneously release new albums on CD and Rock Band’s online store.
Interesting, right? Especially since the whole article is peppered with quotes from Paul, Yoko and the guy who invented Guitar Hero?
“The Rock Band Network is so potentially consequential that Harmonix went to great lengths to keep its development secret, including giving it the unofficial in-house code name Rock Band: Nickelback, on the theory that the name of the quintessentially generic modern rock group would be enough to deflect all curiosity” [emphasis ours].
So the real story here isn’t the inevitable release of a Beatles’ Rock Band Track Pack, but that Nickelback sucks so bad that their very name inspires people to tune out, change the station or improve their immediate lot in life by doing something that isn’t Nickelback-related.
We’re not saying that Chad Kroeger should hang himself about this news. We’re saying that people might not notice if he did.