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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Random Stuff from a Crazy Week 

Who says the US doesn't care? Look -- we're letting this guy spend quality time with his son! That's compassionate conservativism at work. (This pic won the 2003 award for World Press Photo of the Year.)

Paper Mill

This week I set a new personal record: I graded 35 essays in 24 hours. I thought I had an extra day; so when I realized I did not, I had to put my face to the grindstone and blaze through them all. My brain was completely fried by the end of it. I never want to see another essay as long as I live.

Funny Things

Earlier this year, one of my students suggested I look up a comedian named Mitch Hedburg. I'm always skeptical of recommendations from people I don't know well, but Mitch has become my favorite new comedian. He's got the randomness and timing of Stephen Wright, the quirk of Bill Hicks, and the playfulness of George Carlin. Plus, he talks like Matt Olson. (His website is very messy, but it's got some great clips.)

Now my students have done it again with Aqua Teen Hunger Force. It's absurd, random, and hilarious. My favorite episode is the first appearance of The Mooninites. ("Using a key to gouge expletives on another's vehicle is a sign of trust and friendship.") Watch ATHF on Cartoon Network, Sundays at 11:45 EST. (That's 10:45 Central.)

Candy Bar Watch

First, a note about chocolate.

In case you didn't know, you may be supporting child slavery if you buy chocolate that isn't certified fair trade. From Global Exchange:
In 2001, The US State Department and the ILO reported child slavery in the Ivory Coast, the origin of 43 percent of the world's cocoa. Subsequent rsearch identified poverty as the cause - West African cocoa revenues average $30-$108 per year per household member! These impoverished producers have no choice but to keep their kids out of shool to work in dangerous tasks on cocoa farms, or even use child slaves.

Producer poverty comes at the hands of large chocolate corporations, such as M&M/Mars, that manipulate the market to keep profits high while producer incomes stay low. The industry has developed a "Protocol" to end abusive child labor, but it doesn't guarantee the minimum price producers need to meet their costs.
And yet -- although I force myself to buy only fair trade coffee -- I can't resist the lure of delicious chocolate bars like Whatchamacallit and Charleston Chew. In fact, I even made a song about candy bars once upon a time. (Which led to this exchange: "Who sings that candy bar song?" "Eric does.")

Ergo, DevSyn 2.0 is proud to announce a new feature, Candy Bar Watch, where we'll let you know about new candy bars on the market (we snatch them up as quickly as they appear) and let you know whether or not you should waste your money. Today we'll take a look at the latest offering from Hershey's: S'mores!

Yes, they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, folks. For those people who can't get graham crackers and marshmallows together, they've made this delightful campfire treat into a candy bar. The crazy part is that it's not half bad. The cracker isn't really a cracker per se, but the overall consistency is squishy and light. The marshmallow is a nice change of pace from the cliched nougat, and the diminishing returns don't kick in until the last few bites. I don't think it will become a standard anytime soon, but I will certainly eat more of them.


Did you know Ralph Nader once busted a union among his workers? According to this website -- which features ample sources at the bottom -- he said: "I don't think there is a role for unions in small nonprofit 'cause' organizations any more than . . . within a monastery or within a union." Hey, workers are workers. Can't make a revolution if the people making it burn out or starve!

Yeah, they gave us all kinds of lies about Iraq, but we should still pay them millions for more info.


From the ATHF website: Help Carl Find His Head. Pretty well done for a game on a TV show's website. Reminds me of that old NES game A Boy and His Blob.

Today I'm listening to: Frosty!