Blood Sacrifices to the Retail Gods - 10 ThingsGuns don't kill: people with guns kill people, often using their guns to do so. And no country is quite so strident about putting the rights of machines-made-to-kill-people-with above actual people as the US, where a Texan man who pulled a semiautomatic handgun out to threaten someone who cut in line at a Sears in San Antonio during last week's "Black Friday" sales - an annual ritual in which America sacrifices a handful of shoppers to Commercia, goddess of low, low prices - will not be charged since he was "acting within his rights", according to attending officer Matthew Porter. The gun was cocked, loaded and had a round in the chamber, but Jose Alonzo Salame had a permit to carry a concealed weapon so that was totally legal and the sort of thing that could have no bad consequences whatsoever. Sadly, there was no bloodbath - although two people were shot dead on Black Friday in a Target car park in Florida, apparently over a parking space, so one hopes Commercia may yet be appeased and the bargain harvest be bountiful for the next 13 moons.
On the other hand, the University of Colorado are finding the uptake of the new "gun dorms" at their Boulder and Colorado campuses a little disappointing. It appears that students are not quite as keen to live in close quarters in frequently highly stressful circumstances with armed roommates as the University had assumed. In fact, exactly zero students have elected to live in the dorms, preferring circumstances in which they can study without wondering if anyone was about to unleash a hail of gunfire. The dorms were opposed by many sections of the student body, including David Burnett, representative of Students for Concealed Carry, who argues that students with permits for concealed weapons have "proven [they're] legally, responsibly and morally able to carry", so why does The Man have rules about bringing firearms into regular dorms, lectures, campus sporting and other parts of university life where one obviously needs a loaded weapon on your person? What if Red Dawn happens during History of Science: Ancients to Newton with Dr Brindall? What then?
So, to the surprise of no-one, Psy's 'Gangnam Style' is now the most watched video of all time, with 815 million views since debuting mid-July - comprehensively smashing Justin Bieber's previous record with 'Baby' and its paltry 803 million. It's also the most liked video: over two million likes, in fact, again trouncing Bieber and other heavyweights like Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep' and LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem'. Of course, we see this as a challenge and ask every loyal Vine reader to get on board with the inexplicable Lexy & Stephany, who are our new musical champions of the future. Will they show Psy the power of the immortal 'Eye of the Tiger'? Only time will tell. Also, no.
Speaking of the popular music arts, you can stop worrying about the escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon, the unrest in Syria, the threat of a nuclear Iran and all those other petty squabbles: the US State Department have reportedly appointed Andrew WK - yes, as in 'Party Hard' - as official cultural ambassador to the Middle East, with a trip slated for December to "visit elementary schools, the University of Bahrain and music venues to promote partying and world peace." So that ought to sort everything out, then.
Would be James Bonds, maybe you should think twice before accepting the sexual overtures of that beautiful but deadly assassin - or, at least, secret service organisations should have guidelines determining who and under what circumstances you get to bone the enemy. That's the assertion being made by one Mark Kennedy, known as Mark Stone when UK police sent him to infiltrate an environmentalist group in 2002. His cover was blown in 2010, which did more than put his case in jeopardy: it also broke his heart. "My superiors knew who I was sleeping with but chose to turn a blind eye because I was getting such valuable information," he told UK paper The Mail on Sunday. "They did nothing to prevent me falling in love." The woman in question feels similarly: she's also suing the police for duping her into shagging Kennedy, as are two other women. Kennedy's wife, meanwhile, is suing for divorce. But did Kennedy at least get a car that goes invisible out of the deal?Former musician turned professional junkie Pete Doherty has publicly announced that he and Amy Winehouse were lovers and can he have some more heroin now please (OK, that last bit was implied rather than said). "This is difficult for me to admit," he admitted with little apparent difficulty to the Daily Mail, "But, yes, it’s true. Amy and I were lovers. But towards the end, as only lovers can, she became quite mean and cruel to me. She didn’t suffer fools… and believe me, she had a mean right hook." So there's a mental image to liven the beginning of your week: Amy Winehouse laying out Pete Doherty with one hit. That better be in the inevitable biopic.
Sydney readers who've used the Melbourne public transport system's Oyster card and gone "um, why the hell haven't we got something like this?" - good news! The O'Farrell government have announced that an integrated one-card system for use on trains, ferries, buses and light rail will be coming to Sydney… in, um, 2015. State Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement that the Opal system will be launched on the Neutral Bay ferry next month, with other systems progressively coming online thereafter, replacing what she described accurately as the current "clumsy and complicated" system with one which she admits also doesn't actually work, reassuring journalists "I'm not expecting this to be smooth sailing from here on in." So that's good then.
A team of researchers have made an exciting discovery at sea while on a geological mission: a stretch of uninterrupted water! The reason this was pretty cool is that they expected to find an island - Sandy Island, specifically, which appears out near New Caledonia on Google Earth and several nautical weather maps - but not on navigation charts, which show about one and a half kilometres of water going straight down. The project leader, University of Sydney geologist Dr Maria Seton, got suspicious when she was poring over maps during an expedition to the area and convinced the ship's captain to make a detour to where the island supposedly was, only to find that it ain't there. "Somehow this error has propagated through to the world coastline database from which a lot of maps are made," she told the Sydney Morning Herald, but we know the truth: Dr Seton has discovered Atlantis, the El Dorado of the sea, and has agreed to become the land-bride of Poseidon himself in return for untold riches, eternal life and ample research funding for geological surveys of the eastern coastline. You will pay for betraying we dry-folk, Seton. Just you wait.
There are calls to scrap the national NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) curriculum, on the grounds that the test-based system is highly stressful, leading to "crying, sleeplessness, vomiting and absenteeism" among children. While we acknowledge that the system appears to be fundamentally flawed, we will point out that adult life has taught us that crying, sleeplessness, vomiting and absenteeism are skills that are going to be used a hell of a lot more often than algebra. Especially on Monday mornings. So, how's everyone else doing?
And finally: a nude man who brought London traffic to a standstill on Friday by climbing to the top of a statue of Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge, in the middle of Whitehall has been arrested. Twenty nine year old Dan Motrescu did some fairly kick-arse naked statue-posing for nearly three hours while police realised they'd never trained to deal with naked Ukrainians clambering on their statues, an issue they'll possibly address during Motrescu's hearing later today. Frankly, we're amazed that Dan so brazenly risked either ball-scald or ball-freeze on the all-metal Duke - then again, scrotal safety has always been our watchword. Also, seems like the mullet's still rockin' it hard in Eastern Europe. Who knew?