In an ever increasing world of political correctness, Comedy Central roasts are necessary

As the world becomes more politically correct by the day, somehow, Comedy Central manages to exist outside that sphere.

Because of social media’s ability to take any piece of text and magnify it to the entire world within minutes, we all have to be extra careful. People are losing jobs over one offensive comment. Just ask Justine Sacco.

Anything that can be construed as disrespectful, or ignorant, or racist, will be somewhere. Some blog will do it. And that is what makes today’s Internet so dangerous. Seth Rogen and the cartoonist for the Boston Herald also learned that lesson recently.

All it takes is one step out of line and we’re finished. And it’s only going to get worse.

Bieber roastAnd yet, Comedy Central not only evades this fact of life — it’s managing to stoop lower and lower, without consequence.

Look no further than last night’s Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. Everytime I saw a commercial for this the past month, I told myself, “There’s no way I’m going to watch this.”

Come 10 p.m. on Monday night, I watched. And I’m glad I did because I laughed my ass off. I won’t rehash the jokes because they’ll lose their humor through text as opposed to hearing it live with crowd reaction, but I advise you to check it during out one of the 600 times Comedy Central re-airs it this week.

But in short, there were slavery jokes, Holocaust quips, and one-liners making light of 9/11.

Is this not 2015? Where’s the outcry?! Where’s all the politically correct groups storming Comedy Central’s headquarters with pitchforks?

The best part about the debauchery is that it is not only accepted, but it’s expected. I don’t mean to say that people love racism, or that they’re champing at the bit to hear a good Holocaust gag, but, these are jokes that you just don’t hear anymore. And thus, they’re desirable in the right context.

If it’s tweeted, then you shake your head and say, “How ignorant.”

If your friend says it aloud in public, maybe you laugh, but you stop quickly, look around to make sure no one heard, and say, “Dude.”

But in a Comedy Central Roast, it’s OK to laugh. No one’s judging. The raunchier the better.

The world needs that. Because first of all, everything is fair game. Black jokes. White jokes. All ethnicities and cultures. So it’s not exactly one group being singled out.

But it also reminds us that words are just words. Yes, they can be hurtful, but, if it’s in a comedic setting where people are hoping to be entertained, then what’s the harm?

Interestingly, the one subject matter that was edited out by Comedy Central was jokes about the recently deceased Paul Walker.

With all due respect, when did Paul Walker become James Dean? Or no respect. Is this not the point?

Perhaps what made last night’s roast so awesome is that it was two straight hours of people mocking Justin Bieber.

I’ll give the kid credit, though. He’s reached the point in his life where he realizes he probably needs to stop acting like an ass.

I’ve still yet to get there.

You are now free to move about the country — if you dare

There’s a few professions in life in which you prefer to never think about the actual human being whose doing the work.

The person who’s operating on you, for instance. If I was having a procedure done tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to meet my surgeon out of the fear that he’d look like Zach Galifianakis’s character in The Hangover. Instead, I choose to imagine a clean-cut, supremely competent, by-the-book doctor whose never had an alcoholic beverage in his or her life.

Or my chef at dinner. I don’t even picture a human being cooking my food when I’m out to eat. I envision a cartoon version of an Italian man with a handlebar mustache. The last thing I want to think about is an actual person sweating and breathing while hovering over my chicken rollatini.

AFeatured imagenother job in which we fail to comprehend the human element? Pilot.

When during the course of a flight do you even see the person steering your plane? At the very end? And at that point — you’ve already landed safely, so who cares who flew it? It could have been Spongebob Squarepants in the cockpit and it wouldn’t make any difference.

Again, it’s something you don’t want to think about. You’re putting your life in their hands, so you’re envisioning a pilot who has the aviation abilities of Captain Sully and Maverick from Top Gun combined.

Well, that’s all going to change now after the bombshell revelation that Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old German who flew Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountain, was suicidal, mentally ill and possibly vision impaired. And yet, he was still deemed fit to fly because he had not disclosed all of his private medical information with airline officials.

Not only will this severely affect how airlines go about evaluating their pilots, but I think it’s going to open a whole new feeling of consciousness among travelers. We want to know more about the person who is flying us. I wouldn’t be surprised if people started calling for a public database of pilots, where we could actually pick and choose flights based on its aviator. Which, in theory, could also provide a convenient way for pilots to hook up with each other. Everybody wins.

Will this tragedy stop people from flying? Highly doubtful. But it certainly won’t help alleviate the fears of the many people who already have a fear of flying. And even though this is an isolated incident, you can argue that it’s up to airlines to win back our confidence.

Somebody who won’t have to be traveling anytime soon is Amanda Knox. Yeah, that segway was a stretch.Amanda Knox4

The hottest would-be-killer America has ever known has been living in Seattle the past four years, and she could stay there as long as she wants, because her eight-year courtroom drama was finally put to an end this weekend when she was acquitted by Italy’s highest court for her alleged role in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher.

Those who think America’s legal system is inferior to those of other countries need look no further than Knox’s case history. In 2009, she was found guilty and sentenced to 26 years in prison. In 2011, she was acquitted. In 2013, the acquittal was overturned and she was sentenced to 28 years. On March 27, she was exonerated for good.

That sequence of events is even more far fetched than the plot of Gone Girl.

It’s only a matter of time before HBO, capitalizing on the success of The Jinx, contacts Knox for a documentary-style miniseries. Or for a late night softcore porno. I’d watch either.

And speaking of watching things — yeah, I’m not even trying with these segways anymore — the Daily Show found a Trevor Noahreplacement for Jon Stewart, and his name is Trevor Noah, a biracial South African.

You may not believe me, but somewhere, deep in the fiber of my being, I was hoping that Comedy Central would choose him. He made his debut on the show in December in a short bit satirizing the average American perception of Africa, and he won me over.

Most Daily Show correspondents always struck me as trying too hard to be funny. But Noah, in that one bit, seemed natural. And I feel like he’ll excel in combining humor and sincerity, which is the dynamic skillset that made Stewart such an authoritative and influential host, while also making us laugh our asses off.

Just wait and see. I think Noah can continue Stewart’s legacy.

And speaking of continuing legacies…

I’m just kidding. I’m done.

Let’s not confuse international tragedy with minor disturbances

In the past two days, we’ve learned the difference between “tragic” and “slightly upsetting.”

Early Tuesday, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the French Alps, killing 150 people.

On Wednesday afternoon, Zayn Malik announced he is leaving One Direction.

While some people may overstate their sorrow over the 22-year-old’s sudden departure from the successful five-member boy band, we must remember that in the grand scheme of things, this news is completely and utterly insignificant, and should not ruin any one’s day.

Zayn MalikOne Direction fans are extremely young. They don’t have a grasp on context just yet. It’s not through any fault of their own — it’s merely a byproduct of their youth and the naivety and self-centeredness that comes with it. We’ve all lived it.

It’s not to say that they should not be upset. It sucks when a prominent member leaves your favorite band. When you enjoy a musical group, you form a kindred connection to them and their music, and knowing it’ll never be the same again is a sad feeling.

But if there was ever a more stark reminder of what really matters, it’s what happened the day before. The Airbus A320, traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany, carried mostly Germans (72) and Spaniards (51). There were three Americans on board.

Sixteen of the Germans were students from the same school who were traveling home.

It’s pretty hard to care about a departing member of boy band, who’s walking away with millions of dollars in the bank, compared to all of that.

It’s just my way of telling 1D fans that it’s going to be OK. Your favorite band may not be the same anymore, but life goes on. Express your disappointment on Facebook and Twitter, and then wake up tomorrow and seize the day. Because that’s what makes you beautiful.

I just linked to a music video with Zayn in it. I’m sorry. Don’t watch it. DON’T WATCH. Oh, you clicked already? And now you’re crying? My bad.

Let’s move on.

Remember when Internet domains were limited to .com and .net? The exception being educational institutions (.edu), official organizations (.org) and government agencies (.gov).

Well that’s changing. your-brand-sucks-porn-hed-2015

In 2011, ICANN, which is actually a nonprofit organization and not a motivational poster, voted to expand the number of domain name endings. There were 22 at that time, and now there’s 547. Beginning June 1, some new ones will be added to the mix, including .porn, .adult., and .sucks.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Internet as we know it is changing.

I first heard this news on my Facebook “top stories” feed while I was at work earlier this week, and was about to Google it to learn more. Then I realized that I’d prefer not to have the words “.porn” in my work computer’s search history.

But now I’m home on my lap top, where .porn is the least of my worries in my search history. But that’s a topic for another day.

Select people and companies, including trademarked brands, got first dibs on these domains. Recognizable companies and people ranging from Microsoft to Taylor Swift jumped on it.

Which is a shame, because something tells me that Taylor Swift is not going to turn into a Taylor Swift porn site.

Perhaps I should follow their lead and purchase before the haters do?

Actually, scratch that. Because if you have haters, that’s when you know you’ve made it big.

…please don’t hate me.

Starbucks’ epic fail, and even more reason to never want to go to Utah

Race together.

Those were the words Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz encouraged his baristas to write on customers’ cups last week in an attempt to open a dialogue about race inside of his coffeehouses.

After facing severe criticism, Starbucks ended the campaign on Sunday, allowing its employees to go back to their usual method of misspelling all of its customers’ names. They probably would have screwed up “Race Together,” too, and instead wrote something like Run Tomorrow. Or Rough Tomato. Or Roman Tomahawk.

The backlash centered on the fact that nobody wants to be schooled about racial equality while waiting on line for their $4.50 coffee at 7:30 in the morning. It’s a bit of an ostentatious thought that Schultz believed his corporation is powerful enough to become a pioneer on race relations by simply writing two words on a cup.

Race togetherI find the whole thing ironic, and not because of an unequal distribution of the skin colors of its patrons, but because there might be no greater haven of racism than inside of a Starbucks.

Think about it. When have you ever walked into one of their coffee shops, marched right to the counter, ordered your drink, received it within seconds, and left happily?

Instead, a visit is more likely to involve a several-minute wait while some dude orders eight coffees for his entire office. After that, your order will either be completely wrong, at worst, or amiss just enough to piss you off, at best — seriously, “room for milk” means that I would like to put more than a single drop of milk inside my coffee.

Since there’s nothing worse in life than waiting on a line, there is a furor of hatred boiling in every single person’s mind while they wait their turn. They may not look it on the surface, but inside, they’re shouting obscenities, profanities, and just straight verbally abusing everybody that’s in front of them.

And because it’s all internal, then people have no reason to filter their thoughts to exclude racism. Therefore, you will not find a more racist group of people in any given two block radius than inside of a Starbucks. And I say that because there is a Starbucks within every two blocks.

So yes, let’s race together — whatever the hell that means — just not inside of a Starbucks.

Speaking of racial diversity: Utah.

Also known as the land of Mormons, Mitt Romney and for being a short road trip away from Las Vegas.

Oh, and one more thing — firing squads. firing squad

Utah is one of 32 states that allows the death penalty. As a further assurance to enforce this punishment, Governor Gary Herbert signed a law on Monday approving the use of a firing squad when no drugs are available, something that no other state does.

Following their lead, Minnesota just approved death by hanging, Georgia brought back the guillotine, and Maine legalized the Hunger Games.

Does Utah consider it that much of a priority to eliminate their deadliest criminals that they felt compelled to channel the year 1942? It’s such an antiquated practice that if you search “firing squad” on Google images, nine of 10 results are in black and white.

This is 2015. Liberals are calling for the complete eradication of guns, and yet, Utah just turned their state into the final scene of Paths of Glory. Bit of a spoiler there if you’ve never seen it.

Good luck selling tourism there, now. Maybe the Utah Jazz can be the ones to carry out the sentence. Given their ability to successfully shoot a basketball the past decade, it’s probably your best chance of living.

Utah jokes are way too easy.

I’m just firing them off, one by one.

Another day, another new Twitter application: launching a presidential campaign

What was your first ever Tweet?

I bet it was something like: “Trying this whole Twitter thing out. Not really sure what to think.”

It was before you knew about hash tags, or tagging other people, and you were trying to pretend that you were still too cool for Twitter, and skeptical that it would ever last against other social media juggernauts like Facebook.

Not only has Twitter lasted, it’s become an accepted mechanism for social action. Awareness of certain issues is spread through a tweet; protests are carried out by means of trending tropics; and as of Monday morning, politicians have used it to launch their presidential campaigns.

Ted Cruz“I’m running for president and I hope to earn your support!” wrote Republican Senator Ted Cruz, accompanied by a 30-second video, on his Twitter page just past midnight eastern time.

Not only was he the first to declare a presidential run on Twitter, he’s the first person to declare a presidential run, period, for 2016.

Cruz, 44, a first-term senator from Texas, is ultra conservative, a disciple of the Tea Party movement, and opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Interestingly, he was born in Canada, but is allowed to run for president because he was considered a U.S. citizen at birth since his mother was a U.S. citizen and lived in the country for more than 10 years.

He’ll get his votes from conservative voters, but at the end of the day, as the New York Times pointed out, he’s a long shot, at best.

But as the underdog, declaring first may be a wise strategic maneuver because he gets first dibs on the publicity that comes with what’s sure to be a tumultuous 2016 election year.

Personally, I’d vote for a Chevrolet Cruze for president before I ever vote for Ted Cruz.

But who saw this coming, several years ago, that Twitter would become a credible tool for making major announcements? It was only a few years ago when EDM artist Deadmau5 proposed to his girlfriend, Kat Von D, via Twitter. They broke up six months later.

And now Ted Cruz uses it to tell us he’s running for president. It makes sense, in theory; the majority of Americans are on Twitter now, and it’s the easiest way to disseminate information in a contemporary, identifiable way. It’s just not very presidential.

But then again, Barack Obama did appear on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galiafanakis, so the standards for “presidential” have lowered somewhat.

What’s next? Are people going to announce their presidential bid on a blog?

Hmm… *thinks for a second*

OK. Ladies and gentlemen, I have an important announcement.

I have an in itch on the bottom of my foot.

Always follow your dreams — unless your dream is to one day play in the NFL

Who would ever choose a career that accelerates their own physical and mental deterioration?

It’s a question that athletes in the National Football League must ask themselves every day, and one that could someday endanger the entire league as a whole.

The NFL has arguably never been more popular. Every one watches it. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events of the year, and with so many corporate sponsors and television deals, the league practically prints money.

Football also satisfies people’s innate desire to watch other human beings physically abuse one another. It dates back to ancient Rome when, for sport, gladiators fought each other to the death. Don’t deny it — there’s something extremely comforting about sitting on your couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon watching our nation’s premiere athletes duke it out.

Chris BorlandAnd that’s part of the problem. The demand for high quality football has risen the standards for peak physicality and fitness among athletes. As a result, the players are hitting each other harder, and with greater consequence.

Last week, Chris Borland, a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, stunned the sports world when he announced he was retiring from the NFL at age 24. He played just one season, and said he he made the decision to protect his long-term health after conducting extensive research.

It’s not uncharted territory for an NFL athlete to retire young. One of the all-time greatest running backs, Barry Sanders, hung up his cleats at 30 in 1998, when he was at the top of his game. New York Giants running back Tiki Barber quit at 31 in 2006 when he was also in the peak of his career, in order to pursue a career in television.

But to retire voluntarily at 24, coming off a promising rookie season and walk away from millions of dollars, is unprecedented, and it will be interesting to see how many others follow in his footsteps.

The health risks involved with playing in the NFL are well documented. Former players have committed suicide because their health dwindled so badly after retirement. Recently, it was discovered that athletes who have a sustained career in violent sports are more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head injuries or concussions.

In August 2013, the NFL reached a settlement of $765 million after being sued by thousands of NFL players who claimed that the league failed to properly educate and protect players.

And later this year, a movie about the league’s concussion epidemic is set to come out, which will make the issue even more widespread.

So why do it? Why subject yourself to such brutality when the dangers involved are so widely publicized?

Obviously there’s the financial aspect. Succeeding in the NFL can net you a fortune, but that’s only if you’re lucky Concussionenough to stay healthy. Most athletes don’t make enough money to last anywhere near the rest of their lives. So what is it, then?

One athlete, John Urschel, 23, of the San Diego Chargers — who doubles as a mathematical researcher — answered that question in a recent article he wrote in the Players Tribune, an online media platform for athletes to directly share their own stories with readers. And his explanation had nothing to do with money.

“I play because I love the game,” Urschel wrote. “I love hitting people. There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you.”

Sometimes we forget the simplest reasons why people do things: They love it.

It’s the same reason why NASCAR racers drive 200 miles per hour on narrow speedways, or why Evel Knievel jumped over 14 Greyhound buses 40 years ago.

Despite the danger, football is something that some people who are good at can’t live without.

We don’t get to choose what we’re good at. Heck, a lot of people hate doing what they’re good at. And while some may still consider it an unwise decision for NFL players to continue playing football despite the health risks, we can at least begin to understand why.

Because they like doing it.

Since childhood, aren’t we told to do what makes us happy? To follow our dreams and pursue the things we love?

How hypocritical would it be, then, if we told NFL players to stop playing football, even if they loved it?

It’s easy for me to say — I’m good at writing. The biggest danger associated with that is carpal tunnel syndrome and the risk that I may offend people by saying something extremely racist.

Don’t call me a hero.

Unless you want to. I won’t stop you.

Camera phones are making the world a better place

99 of 100 photographs or videos that are taken with an iPhone are useless.

Half of them are selfies. A quarter of them are blurry photos of some landmark like the Empire State Building that will inevitably find its way to Instagram. The rest document your Friday and Saturday nights, your vacations, your home cooked meals and your cat.

And one out of 100 will bare witness to a crime.

That one percentile alone makes camera phones not only a welcome addition into society, but makes our world a better place.

FilmingYou heard me right — our country’s biggest enforcer of justice is not our judges, our juries or politicians. It’s Siri.

With the prevalence of smart phones, and easy accessibility to its video recorder or camera, it takes very little effort to film or photograph something. As a result, anybody or anything is subject to being recorded at any moment. And that includes people who are partaking in illegal or immoral activity.

In the past, exposing wrongdoers relied on witnesses who could go on record to tell other people what they saw. And while that still exposes the truth, it just doesn’t have the same effect. It’s one thing to read about it, and another to see it.

Take Ray Rice for instance. His domestic abuse last year was caught on video, not by a phone, but a security camera. While it was initially reported in the media that he knocked his wife unconscious, people didn’t really react very strongly. But when TMZ released the video, all of a sudden Rice was the most hated man in America.

When people actually could see Ray Rice punching his wife, it produced in everybody a visceral reaction that really processed the true maliciousness of the act.

Many other people are also being victimized by videotape, thanks to smart phones.

The irony is that sometimes it is the perpetrators who expose the video, like in one of the first major examples of this, when an elderly bus monitor, Karen Klein, was bullied by four teenage students on a bus in upstate New York in 2012. The video, filmed and posted on social media by one of the bullies, went viral, causing a tidal wave of sympathy for Klein. People felt so badly that an online donation campaign raised $650,000 for Klein.

Oklahoma frat

And without the camera phone, no one would have known.

Then there’s the video footage of Eric Garner, who was strangled to death by a cop in Staten Island. It somehow was not enough to inflict justice on the police officer, but it was enough to enact social awareness and change.

More recently, an entire fraternity at the University of Oklahoma was booted from campus after a video caught them chanting a racist song on a bus. 

There’s a lot to dislike about the emergence of iPhones. But their ability to record at the click of a button is making the world a better place.

It’s not to say that everything is being filmed. But let’s just say that the amount of douchebaggery that is being filmed, compared to 10 years ago, has increased significantly. And just by knowing that, maybe it will stop some people from being morons.

It probably won’t.

The biggest lesson? Whether you’re in an elevator, a bus, or live in the room in the house across the street from me whose window is opposite to mine, you are always being watched.

Bullying is where I absolutely draw the line

It’s one thing to be bullied in a smaller setting, like in your school or community. It’s another thing entirely to be ridiculed on live television for the world to see.

That’s exactly what happened on the X Factor New Zealand earlier this week, in a disgusting example of how celebrities can abuse their position as a wielder of judgment on a reality singing show.

My vitriol on this topic may lead many to believe that I was personally bullied. But that’s not the case. I was not a target for bullies in high school. And I don’t even mean to say that with any type of pride.

I was social enough in high school that I knew most of the “popular” people, and yet I was also withdrawn to an extent that I was friendly with the people who would have been considered “unpopular.” I was somewhere in the X Factor judgesmiddle, and therefore, simply wasn’t interesting enough to be bullied.

That being said, there was one week, when, because of random circumstance, I got on a bully’s radar. I became his “flavor of the week,” so to speak. And while I wouldn’t quite call it traumatic, I do recall how afraid I was to go to school each day that week. I was scared to turn every corner, worrying he’d be there. It’s a feeling I can’t imagine bullying victims having to experience every day.

It’s not so much the fear of getting beaten up physically. It’s the psychological torment of bullying that does the most damage to the human psyche. It’s being humiliated in public, in front of your peers, and having them laugh along that hurts the most.

Social media has evolved bullying, in both good ways and bad ways. For one, it’s created more transparency. It’s also an outlet. If you’re being picked on, then you can voice your grief online, and give people the opportunity to show you their support.

On the other hand, it’s created cyber-bullying, where you can be mocked online, in a public format for everyone to see, and in a way it’s the same as being bullied in a crowded classroom. The worst part is there’s no escaping it. Before social media, victims of bullying at least had the safety and comfort of going home after school. Now, that security no longer exists, and continues the bullying after school hours.

It’s such a frustrating thing because it’s so avoidable. Bullies don’t realize the power of their words, and just how much they are hurting people. And that’s a shame.

But for a moment, forget being bullied in a classroom, or online, and imagine getting harassed on live television. OnJoe Irvine March 15, a 25-year-old contestant on X Factor New Zealand named Joseph Irvine performed a song recorded by one of the judges, Willy Moon, and even tried mimicking his look. The results were not appreciated by another judge, Natalia Kills, who happens to be Moon’s wife.

Here’s a condensed version of what she said to Irvine: “I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband. Do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy. It’s disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence.”

Her husband chimed in, comparing Irvine to fictional serial killer Norman Bates: “I feel like you’re going stick somebody’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.”

But Kills still wasn’t done. “It’s absolutely disgusting. You make me sick,” she said. “I can’t stand it. I’m ashamed to be here.”

The public immediately responded. A petition on of more than 77,000 signatures called for the immediate firing of Kills. They got their wish. Kills and Moon were both fired a day later. And that’s a good thing because it sends a universal message to kids everywhere that bullying is not OK, and that if you are bullied, the rest of the world has your back.

And in a show of awesomeness, New Zealand’s own Lorde sent Irvine cupcakes. 

Kills and Moon — which might as well be the asshole version of Hall and Oates — verbally attacked Irvine with zero regard for his personal well being, and basically treated him like he was dirt. It’s a classic case of bullying, and they deserve every bit of ridicule they get.

When Peter Jackson and the actors of the Lord of the Rings arrived in New Zealand to film the epic trilogy 15 years ago, this is not the type of behavior they thought would come after them.

My solution? Let’s toss Natalia Kills and Willy Moon into the fiery pits of Mount Doom.

If only our two-week disappearances could cause as much speculation as Vladimir Putin’s

If I fell off of the grid for two weeks, I think the only person who would wonder where I am is my cat Marbles.

And I don’t mean that in an entirely self-deprecating way, it’s just that two weeks isn’t long enough time to start calling for search parties to discover where I am. I’m sure a few people might think, “Hmm, I haven’t heard from that guy for a little while,” and then immediately lose interest once The Voice returns from a commercial break.

And I’m totally fine with that. If you’re not famous, or married, then it should be expected.

If I were to vanish without a peep for such a length of time, then it likely means I’m dead, or I don’t want to be found. Vladimir PutinSo either way, a lack of interest would make no difference.

I’d say it would take a good month for people beyond my inner circle to gain interest in my whereabouts if I were to go missing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have that luxury.

His 10-day absence from the public eye caused a firestorm of rumors from international media, with speculation ranging from he’s violently ill, to being overthrown in a coup, to dead.

It was the most widely publicized leave of absence since Carmen Sandiego. Wait, is that too old of a reference for some people? OK, since Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Except Putin didn’t leave behind an intricately-planned journal of lies in order to frame his significant other.

Or did he?

In a paradoxical away, political figureheads get more paparazzi than celebrities. If Adam Levine went AWOL for 10 days, would it be headline news? I say “paradoxical” because it is a politician’s job to constantly be in the spotlight, if for nothing else then to at least give the perception that they are proactive.

Putin reappeared on Monday, by the way, so you can all take a deep breath. My cat Marbles, meanwhile, remains indifferent. And wants to be fed. Like now.

Speaking of wanting to be fed, it’s been a rough go of it lately for the people of Vanuatu, an island country in the South Pacific VanuatuOcean, east of Australia. No, they haven’t been overrun by koala bears, but rather, a cyclone has demolished 90 percent of its infrastructure and displaced 132,000 people — about half of its population.

My question: Where’s the benefit concert? America jumps at the opportunity to stage an enormous, star-studded musical spectacle whenever a storm hits our own country — take Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy for instance — but when an island nation like Vanuatu is completely decimated, we just shrug it off?

I think the problem is that there’s not enough famous Vanuatans in America.

At least when an earthquake destroyed Haiti five years ago, we had Wyclef Jean to remind us that Haiti is a country that we should care about. Heck, he got a shitload of singers together to remake “We Are the World” exclusively for Haiti.

We can’t even remake a Backstreet Boys song for Vanuatua, or something? “I Want it That Way for Vanuatu?”

Tell me why this can’t happen.

Because doing nothing ain’t nothing but a heartache. Or a mistake. I never wanna hear you say we’re not doing it that way.

OK I’m done.

If you’ve gotten away with murder, you should probably avoid being the subject of a TV show

I haven’t watched HBO’s The Jinx. All I know about it is what other non-watchers have probably heard about it in the last 24 hours.

Its subject, Robert Durst, has been a suspect in three major crimes: two murders, and the disappearance of his wife, Kathy, in 1982.

The alleged murders were Durst’s friend, Susan Berman in 2001, who supposedly had information regarding Kathy’s disappearance, and Morris Black in 2003, a neighbor of Durst’s who he admitted killing and dismembering, but somehow got off on self-defense.

He was also the inspiration for a 2010 movie, All Good Things, starring Ryan Gosling.

Robert DurstNow 71, Durst is obviously pretty screwed up. His sinister past makes him a very undesirable next door neighbor, but quite an interesting subject for a documentary. That’s what HBO thought, at least. On Sunday night, the final episode of its six-part series on Durst aired, with a chilling conclusion where Durst, while off camera in the bathroom but still mic’d, started talking to himself, and said, “Killed them all, of course.”

Coincidentally, Durst was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department one day before the Sunday finale aired, after new evidence emerged linking him to Berman’s death. He’s reportedly being hit with murder charges. The LAPD insists the HBO show had nothing to do with their arrest.

This may be some twisted logic on my part, but, if you’ve been fortunate enough in life to somehow not be charged in three crimes in which you were the primary suspect who had a motive, and then when HBO comes knocking at your door, shouldn’t you politely decline?

The LAPD probably isn’t lying when it said the series had nothing to do with the arrest, but at the very least, you’re reprising national interest in your life, and inviting others to reexamine what you did. And that’s not just people sitting at home watching the show, but those in law enforcement, too.

But I think it probably speaks to the nature of psychopaths and their need to not only commit harm, but to flaunt it.

Well Durst may finally get what’s been long coming to him, but HBO is a huge winner in this. Even if their show has nothing to do with his arrest, they still come out looking like a bearer of justice, and a network that continues to push the envelope with its entertainment.

It’s only a matter of time until other networks copy HBO and seek out exonerated criminals for a TV show. And I’m sure there’s plenty out there who are stupid enough to agree.

What’s O.J. Simpson up to these days?