Every time I try to research the Amanda Knox case I get distracted by how hot she is

I loaded up my web browser with the intention of spending time reading archived articles regarding Amanda Knox, the American girl, who, when 20 years old, found herself in quite a mess in Italy, and whose life has not been the same ever since.

My goal was to present the facts, mixed with recent developments, in order to streamline your knowledge of the situation Amanda Knoxwithout having to look up every article yourself. But every time I do so, I rarely get past the third or fourth line of the article before I find myself staring at whatever photo of Amanda Knox is displayed.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. She’s hot.

Like most guys, I can’t help but think a little differently of alleged female criminals than male convicts. When we read an article about a man who killed somebody, and then see his picture, we think “monster,” “scum,” “degenerate.”

But then we see a woman, in the same exact situation, and basically form an opinion based on how she looks. If she looks like Aileen Wuornos, then yeah, she’s a monster, but if she’s Amanda Knox, then that sentiment turns to “Ehh, she can’t be that bad, right? Whatever happened to second chances?”

And it’s so wrong. It couldn’t be more wrong. And it’s also the reason why I should never, ever be selected to be on a jury.

But for all of those who are unfamiliar with Ms. Knox’s tribulations, she and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of the murder of 21-year-old Mereditch Kercher, a British exchange student who was found stabbed to death in 2007 in her bedroom of the apartment she was sharing with Knox.

In short, the entire trial has been a saga, to say the least. Knox was found guilty in 2009 by an Italian court and sentenced to 26 years in prison. In 2011, she was acquitted in an appeals court, released after four years of detention, and returned Amanda Knox3home to Seattle. Sollecito was also acquitted.

But last year, Italy’s highest court ordered a repeat trial, and, amazingly, Knox was tried for a third time, and found guilty today. Not only that, but her sentence was increased to 28 years and six months. Sollecito will serve 25.

The trial lasted four months, and the jury took 12 hours to deliberate — and Knox, who is now 26, wasn’t even present for it, which is OK in Italian law. Obviously, they don’t adhere to double jeopardy laws either.

My response? Amanda Knox, come on … she wouldn’t hurt a fly! Look at her. Would a murderer be that pretty?

Sollecito, though … dude’s a monster. Scum. Degenerate. Lock him up. I don’t even need to know what he looks like.

The story has taken so many twists and turns that it would be top news even if the guilty party looked like a mix between Brittney Griner and Kirstie Allie. But that Amanda Knox looks the way she does only adds to the public appeal.

And yet, she was still found guilty. Which clearly means that Italian jurors don’t have the keen ability to distinguish a woman’s attractiveness.

Or, I guess, that they actually listen to the evidence, and stuff.

What happened in Atlanta today could be a low point in American history

How bad has this winter been?

Well, it’s so frosty that even places that rarely get snow are getting hit, and — at least today in Atlanta — they are acting like it. Atlanta has gotten snow a few days in a row now, and, when they were forecast to get a couple of inches today, city officials shrugged it off and decided to do absolutely nothing about it.

The result was this.

Atlanta snow
And you thought your commute home from work today sucked, didn’t you?

Reports have been filtering in all day about how people have gotten stuck in this traffic jam, some of whom have been in their car for up to 20 straight hours. That’s right. 20. And that’s just to travel a few dozen miles.

The cause of this, aside from the inexperience of Atlanta drivers in such conditions, is mainly because city officials thought they could keep everything up and running without a hitch. They kept government buildings and schools open, implemented no restrictions or stagger times for traveling, and they paid for it. Kids, also, have been stuck in schools for hours, unable to get home.

All this because of a couple of inches of snow.

But to be fair, it’s not here in New York, where even the slightest hint of snow will force trucks to devour streets with rock salt, usually making all major roads passable within hours. Atlanta, which sees such little snow to begin with, doesn’t budget the proper resources like northern states do.

Bleacher Report detailed the travails of Ohio State football coach Tom Herman, who drove 50 miles over 19 hours in rental car on Atlanta traffica recruiting trip from Marietta to Atlanta. The coach ultimately ended up having to ditch the car and walk four miles to the airport to catch his flight.

Atlanta Braves first basemen Freddie Freeman, meanwhile, had to be saved by former teammate Chipper Jones, who picked him up in a camouflaged ATV, which is actually kind of cool.

Again, this isn’t because of a hurricane, or a tropical storm, or even a major snowstorm, but because of a couple of inches of snowflakes. When we foresee inclement weather having a major effect on people’s lives, causing traffic jams and auto accidents, we think of some Day After Tomorrow-like weather, but this wasn’t even enough snow to warrant people wearing boots outside.

I don’t mean to mock the great people of Atlanta, but, come on. You made the rest of our country look extremely soft.

One day, we may actually have a snowpocalypse, and when it does, we need our southern brethren to be with it. We can’t just write off an entire half of our nation.

The north and south may not see eye to eye on many things — Abraham Lincoln, slavery, the death penalty, to name a few — but I think we can agree that we’ll all be happy once it’s springtime again.

Why would they even schedule the State of the Union Address in the same week as the Super Bowl?

As I type this, President Barack Obama is addressing our nation. Behind him, Vice President Joe Biden is situated at his right, Speaker of the House John Boehner at his left, and after every single sentence the president utters, the rest of Congress stands up and gives him a standing ovation.

This is the night where order is restored in our government. Because the other 364 are highlighted by disorder, in the form of bipartisan squabbling, corruption, slander and whatever the hell else is brewing in politics these days. But today, on this night, they Obamaall give the appearance that they are a unified front.

Hey, it’s better than nothing.

I feel like interest in this speech is subdued as is, without any other events coinciding with it. In general, nobody really wants to hear anybody talk for two hours. It’s bad enough we had to do it in college sometimes, but, heck, I can’t think of many people in the world who I can sit and listen to for 90 minutes nonstop and never lose interest. A panel of Edward Snowden, Jennifer Lawrence, Pope Francis and Rob Ford could sit and talk for that amount of time about their thoughts on the world, and after like the 19th minute, I’d stand up and be like, “Yo, I’m out.”

As exuberant and eloquent as Obama is, he can’t hold my attention for that long. Thus, I’ll put on the State of the Union, and for a few minutes I’ll be proud of myself for having interest in out nation’s affairs, but after 15 minutes, I’ll switch to ESPN and watch Super Bowl coverage for the ninth straight day.

And seriously, we’re on the eve of the biggest sporting event in the country — maybe the world — and we’re expected to shove that anticipation aside and care about politics for an entire evening? You’ve got Richard Sherman yelling into microphones, Peyton Manning’s smug grin on every television commercial advertising a multitude of products that couldn’t have less to do with one another, blizzards bearing down on the host city and causing rumblings of a possible rescheduling, and the White House is trying to compete with that?

It’s almost as if it was strategic. Maybe the state of the Union is so poor that they figured they could slip the speech through unnoticed if it happened five days before the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl festivities are planned a month before the game. People don’t plan to even watch the State of the Union Address until 10 minutes after it’s started, when they see it as a trending topic on Twitter.

In the future, I think federal officials should take a hard look at the calendar and make sure the speech isn’t surrounded by events of greater intrigue. How about mid-February? Seriously, what the hell is going on then? Valentine’s Day? Groundhog Day? Baseball Spring Training? Having Obama deliver the State of the Union Address during the monotony that is mid-February would be like the second coming of the Beatles arriving in America 50 years ago.

Oh wait, the Olympics is happening in two weeks. Nevermind. Nobody will ever care about this address.

One day, people will stop complaining about contemporary music and enjoy the Grammy Awards

It’s easy to poke fun at the Grammy Awards. It’s easy to watch the 3+ hour annual telecast and say things like, “Today’s music is  a terrible,” or, “I wish I was born 40 years ago when people actually knew good music.”

This annoys for a few reasons. For one, there is so much music out there today that it’s impossible to not find something you like if you search hard enough. For another, people forget that the Grammys is a celebration of today’s popular music. If you’re mad about what’s popular in today’s music, then you’re as much to blame as anyone else.

If you’re watching the Grammys, then you know exactly what to expect. All of those songs you’ve heard on the radio the last 12 months, and complained about endlessly — all the while secretly uploading them to your iPod — are going to be on full display. There’ll be a mix of contemporary and classical musicians of all genres, and inevitably, some unexpected surprises.

Sunday night’s 56th Annual Grammy Awards gave us all of that.

The big winner on the night was Daft Punk, the French electronic music duo who raked in five Grammys, including Album of the Year for Random Access Memories. Anybody who was unfamiliar with the group until last night was probably caught off guard by their appearance. For anyone wondering, here’s what Daft Punk — also known as Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalet — look like without their helmets on.

And speaking of bizarre appearances: Pharrell Williams’ hat. I know Pharrell is one of those R&B stars who define what’s cool, but come on. The dude looked like Elmer Fudd. Although it did evoke some great Tweets by Arby’s and Smokey the Bear.

Daft Punk2

Besides that, the night was a celebration of the Beatles, or at least their two living members, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Not that there ever needs to be an excuse to celebrate the Beatles, but the angle was that next month will mark the 50th anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which spurred the onset of the group’s popularity and a British Invasion in music. McCartney is the one who often gets the love of the two, so it was nice to see Ringo get his moment. It should also be noted that he looks pretty damn great for his age (73.) (No homo.)

Other big winners on the night included Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (four Grammys) and Lorde (two Grammys, including Song of Lorde Grammysthe Year), the latter of whom nobody should have been surprised to hear had an accent — it’s been pretty well documented that she was born and raised in New Zealand. Still, for most of us, it was the first time ever hearing her speak.

Obviously the climactic part of the show was the matrimony of 34 couples — a mixture of gay and straight couples — during a performance of Macklemore’s “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah. I’ll admit that when I heard hours before the show that it was going to happen, I rolled my eyes and considered it a little over the top. But it did actually make for a nice moment, it clearly affected all those in attendance, and the significance of it was that it conveyed an industry-wide showing of support and solidarity for same-sex marriage.

That being said, at some point … Macklemore needs to make a career decision. Does he want to be a rapper, or the next Harvey Grammy weddingMilk? Can’t do both. Although “Milklemore” could have a nice ring to it. Or not.

What else happened? Oh right, some interesting collaborations, including Stevie Wonder and Daft Punk, as well Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons (look them up yourself). The latter performance being so loud and intense that initially I felt terrible for Kacey Musgraves having to immediately follow it — and angry at the Grammy producers for putting her in that position — until about 45 minutes later when she won the Grammy for Best Country Album, and I no longer felt bad for her. She was also by far, by far, the hottest looking female last night. Fun fact: I saw her at the Bowery Ballroom in November, her first ever headlining Kacey Musgravesshow in New York City.

There was also that awkward moment when Taylor Swift thought the opening “R” in the announcement of Random Access Memories for Album of the Year was actually the beginning of Red, her own album which was also nominated.

Lastly, hours after the show, you had Macklemore texting Kendrick Lamar that he truly deserved to win Best Rap Album, and Trent Reznor being really pissed off off that the Grammy telecast cut off his closing performance of Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham.

We can all now take a deep breath, and get ready for the next slate of songs that will become popular, play over and over — and over, and over and over, and over, and over — on the radio for the next 365 days, and will be celebrated lavishly during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards next year.

And then we can say how much music sucks again.

So has dislike of Justin Bieber finally become universal?

It hasn’t been a very good last couple of months for Justin Bieber.

First, the 19-year-old pop sensation announced on Dec. 24 that he is “officially retiring” through the most unprofessional way imaginable — his Twitter account —  only to have his management team immediately release a statement shortly after that he was kidding. Three weeks later, Bieber made headlines again, this time for “EggGate,” when he allegedly threw eggs at a neighbor’s house in Los Angeles.

Justin Bieber has a pretty devoted fan base, who I’m told go by the name of Beliebers. And when you’re so fanatical about something or some one, you can always find the silver lining to excuse any type of behavior.

So I could see how Beliebers could have easily spun these two items. As for the faux retirement, they could say he was simply overcome by the stresses of his line of work. Which would be kind of understandable. He’s already released three studio albums, embarked Bieber mug shoton multiple nationwide tours, and been the subject of two documentaries before he turned 20.

And by doing it through Twitter, they could say that Bieber was simply trying to speak to his many fans through most the direct means possible, and considering that the majority of his fans are about 14 and 15 years old, Twitter makes sense.

As for the egg thing, that could be shrugged off with a single sentence. “He’s 19! Who didn’t egg their neighbors’ homes when they were they were that age? It’s no big deal.”

That’s all well and good. But this morning, Bieber made headlines again, and I’d like to see the Beliebers try to justify this one.

As most of you probably know already, Bieber was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after a police officer observed him street racing in a yellow Lamborghini in Miami Beach.

Even his most diehard fans can’t possibly defend this. Everyone understands the recklessness of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and racing it down a city street in the middle of the night.

Nelson Mandela, right before he died, could have been arrested and charged with the same thing, and people would still think he’s an asshole. Because there’s nothing more selfish than drinking and driving. Harming yourself is one thing, but potentially injuring or even killing an innocent person in the process is one of the most egregious acts any human being can undertake. For all we know, Bieber could have killed a Belieber with his thoughtless behavior.

Bieber BelieveSo where does Bieber go from here?

He already didn’t have the most positive public perception before this. But even so, the reasons why most people hated him were fairly weak. It was either because they didn’t like his music, or didn’t like his style, or didn’t like his tendency to demand “to be taken seriously” during acceptance speeches — or all of the above. Mostly, though, people were simply just jealous of him, and that’s where a lot of the animosity came from.

That’s plenty reason to not be a fan of somebody, but to hate them?

Well, Bieber took care of that for us, because now we have ample reason to hate him. If pop stars had approval ratings, like how presidents do, it’s safe to say that Bieber’s will never be lower.

In all seriousness, one can only hope he learns from this, and that it won’t ignite a downward spiral that ends with him completely falling off of the map and into rehab. He’s still young, so he can use the “immaturity” card, and try to spend the next few years redeeming himself and repairing his public image.

What he did isn’t quite Chris Brown-like, so at least he’s not the worst person in the world. He can take some comfort in that.

But, when it’s all said and done, I think there’s a lot less Beliebers in the world today than there was yesterday.

And that’s the real tragedy of the story.

Like saying bomb on an airplane, the word timber should never be used out of context

What’s #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 right now? No, you don’t have to check. I’ll tell you. It’s “Timber” by Pitbull and featuring Ke$ha, a spot it’s held for three weeks.

Also known as, the song that comes on your radio that you change immediately, then lower the volume and change it right back. And if there’s somebody else in the car with you, you’ll throw in a “Eh, there’s nothing else on” when you do it.

The song is popular because of it’s catchy beat. Trust me, it has nothing to do with its lyrical prose, which goes something like this:

I have ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off/ Twerkin in their bras and thongs (timber) /Face down, booty up (timber) / That’s the way we like to what (timber)

Pitbull3

But in the past 10 to 15 years, I think people realized, with club songs at least, that no one really cares what the song is actually saying. Chris Rock had a very funny bit about exactly this several years ago. As long as a song has the beat and a catchy chorus, you could basically be telling people to stick a fork in an electrical socket and it wouldn’t make any difference.

(Don’t do that.)

But everyone knows the chorus, obviously. “It’s going down, I’m yelling timber!”

We already know that the word timber has just one purpose, and honestly, we only know that from what we see on television. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I think of the word, I see a hairy lumberjack standing in the middle of a forest, completely alone, chopping down a giant tree with an axe while shouting “timber!” to nobody in particular.

So by using this word in a song, Pitbull and Ke$ha, you’re taking it from the desolate, rugged depths of the wilderness, and bringing it to the club.

2013 American Music Awards - ShowThat’s just wrong. Lumberjacks have very few things in life. Flannel shirts — which we stole from them — beards, sharp weaponry and the word “timber.” And now they don’t even have that anymore.

You’ve opened a new tab since you started reading this blog and put on the song, didn’t you? God damn it.

In all honesty though, I really have no qualms with the song itself. I just find it kind of funny. For starters, Pitbull and Ke$ha is a very interesting collaboration.

I know I posted the lyrics above, but before that, has anybody ever understood a word that Pitbull has ever said before? He’s had like three big hits in the past couple of years, and I couldn’t tell you one line in any of them besides the chorus. For all we know, he may be speaking gibberish.

Ke$ha, meanwhile, may have found her niche. While everyone knows she doesn’t have the greatest voice, it is actually tolerable in small doses. And juxtaposed with a rapper like Pitbull (or Flo Rida in “Right Round”), it makes her voice sound better than it really is. So having her sing the chorus in a club song is perfect.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice that Ke$ha looks good now. Like, really good, and easily the best I’ve ever seen her. But after doing minimal research, I learned that she’s been battling a severe eating disorder recently, so badly that she’s had to check into rehab. So I guess that says something my personal taste. Girls, just stop eating if you want to look good.

(Don’t do that.)

It’s not the Super Bowl until there’s a race issue

Of the four major sports in America, football is arguably the most biracially integrated of the lot. We hear all the time about how few black athletes there are in baseball and hockey, and conversely, how few white people there are in basketball.

But in football, it doesn’t really lean either way. There are tons of black people and white people in the sport. Which is good. People don’t see skin color when they look at the athletes, and instead, judge them on their skill set.

Except, that is, when one of them behaves in a way that our racially sensitive society expects them to act based on their skin color.

And in this case, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the victim of racial profiling. Or the instigator of it, depending on how you choose to view it.

Sunday night’s epic, thrilling game between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers has become overshadowed by the antics of Sherman, who made a game-saving play that may end up going down as one of the best of its kind by a cornerback in playoff history. But five minutes later, this happened:

Some people choose to view this as an enthusiastic, authentic reaction by an athlete who just made the biggest play of his life.

Others see it as a large black man towering over a pretty white woman, shouting angrily at the top of his lungs.

Should Sherman — who, I truly believe is the best cornerback in football — have showed a little more sportsmanship and modesty? Probably. But, remember, he wasn’t situated in a press conference surrounded by reporters. Erin Andrews sought him out of a giant scrum, seeking an honest, emotional reaction. And that’s exactly what she got.

In the immediate aftermath, meanwhile, white people Tweeted very racist things, and even other black professional athletes thought in terms of what Sherman’s actions might mean for their race, such as Andre Iguodala, a forward for the Golden State Warriors.

Finally, Deadspin put together a story, attempting to encapsulate this whole ordeal, and tried way too hard to psychoanalyze why this has become a racial issue. But, in my opinion, all the article served to do was to solidify and exacerbate this as a racial issue.

It’s easy for reporters and media publications to forget that by suggesting a racial issue, they are by virtue creating one.

Former New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott once yelled into a microphone while being interviewed by a white man following an emotional playoff win, but this was never construed as a racial thing because Scott is a clean-cut, respected veteran, whereas the dread-locked Sherman was a relative unknown.

But all it really was is an impassioned, emotional athlete letting his excitement get the best of him. He acted a little bit like a Richard Shermanbuffoon, and it’s OK to laugh at him for that. We should laugh at him for that. Afterwards, if you still want to hate him, do it because you were rooting for the 49ers that day, or because you’re envious of his athletic ability, or because you don’t appreciate his arrogance — even if he did apologize. Those are perfectly legitimate reasons to dislike someone. Race should never had anything to do with it.

Shortly after Michael Vick was arrested for his role in a dogfighting ring in 2007 — evoking strong criticism from the masses — actor Jamie Foxx said, “Mike probably just didn’t read his handbook on what not to do as a black star.”

I think that’s an absurd statement, and therefore I’m definitely not going to say that Richard Sherman failed to read that same handbook. But I will say that the fact that these unwritten handbooks exist shows that our society has a long way to go.

And I will humbly volunteer myself to be the first person comfort Erin Andrews next time somebody yells at her.