Saying it’s impossible to be mad when you skip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders around the world to take up skipping, the “hippity-hoppity” gait that comes so naturally to children.
“If you remember the last time you skipped, you will no doubt remember feeling frisky and carefree,” Ban said in a statement released today. The U.N. last week passed a referendum declaring the week of Dec. 18-25 World Skipping Week, which the international organization hopes will inspire people everywhere to skip rather than fight.
“The fact is, you just can’t be mad or hostile when you’re skipping,” says Aron Andresen of Stavanger, Norway, president of the International Skipping Society, based in Oslo.
Andresen pointed to a number of studies showing the physical as well as mental health effects of skipping, which practitioners say creates a feeling of well-being likened to an extreme form of runner’s high.
“With skipping, you get what’s often called an ‘endorphin rush’ because of increased activity in the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus,” says Pierre Curien of Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France’s state-owned scientific research center in Paris.
Ban has been advocating for official recognition of skipping since becoming head of the U.N. in 2007. “There was a lot of suspicion at first over what this was all about,” Ban said at his press conference announcing World Skipping Week. “The Americans were concerned that, given their country’s high rate of obesity, it was an effort to cause wide-scale cardiovascular stress among their people, especially in Kentucky, but we were able to show that over the long run regular skipping would greatly benefit the cardiovascular health of everyone. The Russians were concerned that their people would face a sharp increase in accidents, because at any given time many Russians are well into their fourth, fifth, or even sixth glass of vodka. And the Chinese were concerned that it would distract people from working long, hard hours at little pay to help their capitalist owners become millionaires to buy German cars, U.S. real estate, and marry Japanese women. The British were just concerned they would look silly. But we were able to put these and other concerns to rest, because skipping is a benefit that sells itself.”
The U.N. initiative comes at a time when there is growing interest in the activity. Skipping clubs are springing up in many cities, including London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Seoul. Less encouraging is a rise in what’s known as extreme skipping, which is a strenuous physical activity in which the skipper dons a helmet and pads and skips for long distances.
“Extreme skipping is an unfortunate side effect of the increased interest in skipping,” says Andresen. “Any time you have a good thing, you have people who take it to extremes, and we certainly have that here.”
But even with extreme skipping, because of the euphoric effect it has on participants, the sport has none of the negative effects of other types of extreme sports. “Yes, extreme skippers are edgy, but they’re friendly edgy,” said Andresen. “And that’s the whole point of World Skipping Week. You can’t be mean when you’re skipping, which is why we applaud the U.N. for promoting skipping as an international activity. We strongly believe that if everybody skipped for at least 10 minutes a day, the world would see a noticeable drop in war, murder, and other violent activity, including road rage.”
“It starts with us, the leaders,” said Ban. “We must go skipping. As people see their leaders skipping, they too will start skipping. Yes, it will make it harder for some people to get dates, but that’s a small sacrifice to pay for a more peaceful world.”
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Image: public domain. Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a week-long meeting with Chinese government and business leaders with a request for the Chinese to give back the millions of jobs American businesses shipped to them over the years. “We are not blaming you for taking them,” Kerry said in his departing statement, given at the American embassy in Beijing. “We gave them to you of our own free will, and you were free to take them. But we’d like to have them back now, and so if you wouldn’t mind returning them to us, we would appreciate it.” The United States has transferred some 15 million jobs to Chinese companies since China was granted Most Favored National (MFN) trade status in 1994, when Bill Clinton was president. Since that time, China has grown to have the second largest economy in the world and is on the verge of overtaking the United States in the size of its gross domestic product, although the country would still lag the U.S. in per-capita GDP. More.
Saying “it just makes sense,” delegates from around the world overwhelmingly passed a resolution blaming all of the world’s woes on the United States. “Whereas the United States continues to have, albeit barely, the largest economy in the world, and
“Whereas the United States makes a lot of mistakes that everyone in the world knows about, and
“Whereas the United States has been involved in some capacity in all regions of the world for several decades, and
“Whereas the United States is in a state of decline and is clearly failing in all respects,
“We hereby resolve to levy blame for everything that is wrong in the world today on the United States of America. Happy New Year.” The vote was devastatingly lopsided, with delegates from 156 countries voting in favor and only one, the United Kingdom, voting against. Two countries, Canada and Israel, abstained. More.
WASHINGTON—The Chinese government has reached out to the Obama administration with a proposal to buy the country’s debt of more than $17 trillion if the government would take about $5 trillion for it. “We are offering the U.S. government an opportunity to get our from under its heavy debt load, restructure its finances, and move on to a new period of prosperity,” said China’s Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei. “We say at the outset that we cannot offer less than this discount of 70 percent, because the American government has threatened to default several times in the last three years.” Lou said the Chinese government would also require that all American companies doing business in China work in partnership with Chinese companies, which would include the sharing of proprietary trade and technological intelligence. “Of course, the prohibition on Chinese companies sharing trade and technological intelligence with American partners would remain in place, as it must,” said Lou. More.
Religious people the world over are sick and tired of people who don’t believe in God picking on the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the Universe. “What did He ever do to you?” says Sandra Borden, 54, an administrative assistant at Safe-T One Auto Insurance in Lexington, Ky. “Can’t you pick on someone else? Leave God alone!” Like many other religious people, Borden says that God, as the Creator of the World, can smite anyone He wants to and cause all kinds of duress for people, like he did to Job in the Bible. For that reason, atheists and other non-believers should just watch it. “He can rain down on you all the pestilence He wants,” she says. More.
OTTOWA—Tired of living in the shadow of its much larger southern neighbor, Canada yesterday officially changed its name to Not USA and unveiled a new flag that government officials say is designed to tell the world that Canada is its own country and not simply a northern outpost of the United States. “Not USA has a long and proud history,” says Stephen Harper, prime minister of Not USA, formerly known as Canada. “With our new name and flag, we’re celebrating our unique place in the community of nations. People forget that Not USA defeated the United States in several key battles in the War of 1812 and beat the U.S. in the 2010 winter olympics hockey championship. What’s more, Not USA is the largest country on earth by land mass, has more ice than any other country, and is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup and moose souvenirs.” More.
GOTHAM CITY—Several of America’s greatest superheroes, including Superman and Spider-Man, say they “feel dumb” wearing tights and other “design affectations” like capes and masks and have agreed among themselves to stop doing it. “I’ve never been comfortable flying in my tights,” says Superman, also known as the man of steel. “I started wearing the costume in the late 1930s because I needed to protect my identity. But I also needed to convey a sense of separateness, otherwise people would constantly come to me and say they want to stop trains and out-run bullets. But the world has changed. Today, we have smartphones and tablets. People have moved on. What’s important today is authenticity.” More.
Saying it’s tired of sitting on the sidelines for the majority of compositions in the English language, the letter Q announced today its secession from the English alphabet and a ban on all uses of the letter Q in subsequent English compositions. The letter Q also says it’s reviewing its ties with French, German, Spanish, and other Indo-European languages, but for now, it’s willing to stay in those Latin-based languages until further notice. “For thousands of years the joke has been on the letter Q,” says the letter Q in its Declaration of Secession, delivered simultaneously to the American Library Association, the British Library, the National Library of Canada, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Webster English Dictionary, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style. “But no more. As of today, the letter Q is not available for your use.” More.
I know part of being a fireman is washing the fire truck when you have down time, but I have to tell you honestly that I don’t really like doing it. The truck is big and it’s got a lot of accessories on it, hoses and knobs and ladders, which makes it hard to wash, but even if it were as slick as a sports car, I still wouldn’t much like doing it. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite parts of my job. More.
For the longest time I enjoyed going on walks with my master. He would give me a call, “Buster!” and when I came rollicking up, excited about what awaited us outside the walls of our house and outside the confines of our yard, he would attach my leash and off we would go. Sometimes we would go right, which I call the “Annie Poodle Route,” because Annie the Poodle lives down that way, and I always leave my calling card by the corner of her fence (along with a million other dogs!). And sometimes we would go left, which I call the “Fred the Mean Dog Route,” because Fred the Mean Dog lives down there, and you can be sure I don’t leave my calling card by his house! More.
House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT. “We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). More.
Researchers at Oxford University have bestowed upon Canada the dubious distinction of being the most boring of the six countries that comprise what’s known as the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. “We think it’s important that this matter be settled once and for all,” says lead researcher Nigel Clappe, lecturer in political science and demographics at Oxford University. “Up until this point, people have been identifying the most boring country based on nothing more than their own gut feeling. And that wasn’t helping anybody.” More.
Robert Plant, the golden haired and golden voiced singer for the legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin, says in an interview on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” that he should have listened to his dad and become an accountant rather than leave home when he was 16 to live the rock-and-roll lifestyle. “If I were to live my life again, would I have that nasty break with my family and sing for various bands before finally joining Pagey and the others to form Led Zeppelin? I think on balance what I did was a mistake and, in retrospect, I should have listened to my dad.” More.