Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Study finds tattoos, shaved heads, goatees no longer intimidating

According to a recently published study, shaved heads, goatees, and tattoos, once worn almost exclusively by bikers, bouncers, prisoners, and pirates are no longer as frightening or intimidating as they once were.

This finding comes out of the Violence Prevention Foundation, an educational foundation that studies the impact of violence on American culture. The report shows that while the characteristics have historically instilled a sense of fear or dread in the populace, they have since been relegated to mere fashion accessories.

“Long gone are the days where you run into a guy in a bar, who has most or all of these indicators, and expect to be robbed and pounded into a coma,” said Sheila Saunders, director of the foundation. “Now, he could very well be an accountant, or in marketing, maybe even your hair stylist.

No longer will such an individual immediately take an aggressive stance with you either, according to the study. Now there is overwhelming evidence that he might very well shrink away to avoid any confrontation.

“It really is an astounding shift in behavior that we are really only now starting to understand,” Saunders said.

In years past, a clean bald head was often brandished by a ruffian, a gang-banger, or say, a gladiator. It comes as no surprise that the public would want to avoid such a character. In fact, the foundation had only recently updated its brochures and counselling guidelines which previously recommended staying clear of these people at all costs.

Now, explains Saunders, the fashion fad of shaving one’s head, for example, is one of the most common styles that men choose when their hair begins to thin out. “It really is the 21st century version of the comb-over,” she said with a chuckle.

As for tattoos, the foundation was surprised to find out that there are only 234 people in America who have not yet been inked somewhere on their body.

“It really says nothing about you anymore,” Saunders said. ”No one can spend a drunk weekend in Panama City without being dared by your best friend and her sister into getting some Chinese characters tattooed on your lower back”.

Saunders also downplayed the barbed wire tattoos found on upper arms, saying that the “bad-ass quotient” applied to this feature in the study had fallen substantially over recent years.

“The guy that delivers our mail has one of those,” Saunders said, and then whispered, “I can tell you that dude hasn’t been to the gym in decades so I don’t know what he’s trying to show off.”


There are some exceptions, however. The study revealed that there are still some tattoos that will invoke justifiable fear in most people. For example:

  • Religious and political icons tattooed in between the eyes – indicates that your ideology trumps the safety and well being of those around you.  
  • Tattoos that spread across the neck and onto the face – shows you don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks
  • Branded tattoos, indicating that you’ve sold space on your body to market a product – seriously, we don’t know what to think about that
  • Your dead cousin’s name or image tattooed on your shoulder and/or back – tells everyone that standing anywhere near you might be dangerous

What are commonly called “goatees” are actually a variation of the Vandyke, a distinction that is brought up all the time, but one that no one seems to care about anymore.

“They were invariably worn by musketeers, in common depictions of the Devil, and popular with early 20th century magicians,” Saunders said. “We often associate this style of facial hair with alternate universe counterparts of ourselves or evil twins. . .that and eye patches for some reason.”

The research indicates that now, goatees are worn by almost a third of all 30-45 year-old men as an ineffective way to draw attention from a receding hairline.

Now that these once frightening characteristics are no longer good indicators of ferocity, the Center instead instructs that you visually inspect to see if the man standing in front of you in an aggressive manner is wielding some sort of weapon, such as a knife or a gun.

“The Violence Prevention Foundation now recommends you should avoid that sort of person,” Saunders warns

Study finds tattoos, shaved heads, goatees no longer intimidating

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Local couple adopts Asian highway

After all the red tape and years of waiting for the Illinois Adopt-a-Highway program to grant their wish of having their very own section of interstate to care for, Jeff and Jennifer Reed of Downers Grove grew frustrated and decided to take a very different route, yet one that is becoming more travelled with road-less couples in recent years. The Reeds will join the thousands of Americans who are adopting foreign roads and freeways.

While there is no shortage of needy expressways, thoroughfares and turnpikes in the United States, the time it takes to complete the adoption process has become burdensome and frustrating for Americans like the Reeds and so they settled on pursuing an adoption in China.

They had long considered other Asian countries like Laos and Thailand, as well as some locations in Central America. Finally narrowing their search to China, they eventually settled on looking at parts of the beltway just outside of Tianjin, a port city located along the Hai He River.

As it turns out, the Reeds made the right decision and adoption approval came quickly. With much anticipation and relief, they hopped on a plane to the opposite side of the world to finally see the two-mile stretch of the four-lane Chinese freeway they had been mercifully granted.

Jeff Reed explained that China was an optimal choice for them because of the millions of miles of un-adopted highways. Due to a recent bustling economy which is seeing a larger percentage of white collar workers and an increasingly skilled workforce, there are fewer and fewer people willing to take care of these growing number of abandoned roads. It is being called the Peking Parkway Crisis.

“It’s so sad,” Jeff Reed said. “You really can’t go more than a mile or two outside the city without running into a stretch of roadway that has no one to care for it.”

Jennifer Reed said that they have also wrestled with concerns about about how they would end up taking care of their newly adopted highway.

“We really debated about how we would treat it,” she said, “but in the end, we felt it best to maintain it like an American road because that’s what we are most familiar with.”

Upon arrival to the Tianjin area, they were driven by their local placement counselor past the littered and overgrown roads on the way to see their newly acquired bundle of asphalt and concrete. Jennifer Reed shook her head and wiped a tear from her cheek, and expressed how sad it was to see all of these unkempt, unloved miles.

“I just wish we could adopt them all!” she said.

As the car approached their allocated section, they could see a green sign surrounded by empty orange trashbags on the side of the road. An armed Chinese policeman stood stoic next to the sign; a welcoming sight. The Reeds thought back to all the waiting, the paperwork, the classes taken at the local community college about Chinese gathering techniques. Everything was now culminating to this one emotional event.

The couple’s eyes lit up as they got to their their destination. Getting out out of the vehicle they walked hand in hand, crying tears of joy as they approached the sign. A sign they had waited years to see. A sign, written in Chinese pīnyīn characters, that simply read:

Litter cleanup under penalty of imprisonment
next 3 km – The Reeds – USA

“Hope we know what we got ourselves into,” Jeff Reed said with a chuckle as he handed a orange vest and bag to his wife.

Local couple adopts Asian highway

Hot Canadian girl confirms relationship with local teen

Claims made by 16-year old Taylor Samuelson about having a “super hot girlfriend that lives in Canada”, have been met with resounding skepticism by everyone who knows the Waukegan area teenager.

That is, until this last weekend.

Samuelson’s seemingly fantastical tales of a deep –and previously unverified– love forged at Muskrat Rivers Computer Camp in central Wisconsin over the summer, were recently confirmed when a young lady matching the description he provided was found this last Sunday alive and surprisingly well in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Prior to this amazing discovery, friends experienced a whirlwind of intrigue, speculation, and vicariously-induced arousal for the last few weeks as Samuelson spun incredible tales about ”this hot chick from . .. uh. . .Canada” who let him get to second base. Samuelson’s only evidence of her existence was a picture cut out of Teen Vogue and it came as no surprise that his paltry evidence had been met with much incredulity.

“That’s BS, man,” said Taylor’s older brother Keith, making it clear to all who would listen that a magazine photos offers scant proof that “any girl would get near this total tool.”

“”Hey look everybody,” the older Samuelson joked while holding up a lingerie catalogue. “I”m dating Gisele Bündchen!”

But Samuelson’s siblings, and friends, and most of the town of Waukegan would soon eat their words.

Fortunately for the lovestruck Samuelson and to the astonishment of everyone, 16-year old Sarah Fox, who is described as “sorta tall, um, a great body, and uh. . .nice skin”, was finally found at the studio where she apparently models. Even when asked a second and third time if she serious, the 2010 Miss Teen Ontario runner-up was willing to fully corroborate his story.

Samuelson’s close friend, Chase Graham, was impressed to hear that his buddy had actually made out with some hot foreign chick he met at camp in the Wisconsin Dells area. “Of all places,” Graham added.

“She’s like totally into him, or so he told us,” said Graham, who admitted he was happy for his friend, adding that “[Taylor] typically kept his distance from the girls in our school because they think he’s a complete dork.”

Suspicions grew, however, when fellow students asked if they could meet this mystery woman. Apparently Samuelson struggled with the line of questioning, only replying that “it probably wouldn’t happen because she doesn’t live around here.”

“I gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt on the whole Canada thing,” Graham said, “because everyone knows that those Canuck chicks are so killer, right?”

Fox, who shares an interest in X-Men graphic novels, first person shooter computer games, and amateur astronomy was happy to talk about their relationship and expressed her own frustration with the disbelief from her own circle of friends.

Fox complained that none of her girlfriends believed she had met a kind, intelligent, and funny boy in the United States. “They thought I was making the whole thing up.”

Their cynicism was not unfounded, of course, owing to the common wild-eyed fabrication amongst attractive teenage Canadian girls claiming to have serious boyfriends who are really smart and really sweet and live just outside of Chicago.

Hot Canadian girl confirms relationship with local teen