United Airlines continues its roll, and the return of Maria Sharapova and Haim

Happy government shutdown eve everybody! It’s literally a federal holiday.

Government joke! *pushes up eyeglasses and gives a high five to absolutely no one*

While Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers perilously navigate their way towards passing a budget that hinges on a controversial health plan, I thought we’d use this crisp Thursday night to catch up on other assorted items happening throughout.

No matter how bad you’re 2017 is going, and no matter how miserably you have failed to maintain your New Year’s resolution, you can take solace in knowing that it’s only April and yet, it’s still impossible for you to have a worse year than United Airlines.

You can get dumped by your longtime girlfriend this year, and your year still wouldn’t be as bad.

You can get fired from your job, and your year still wouldn’t be as bad.

You can murder two people at the same time with a sledgehammer and your year still wouldn’t —

OK, maybe that’s too far.

What did United Airlines do this time? Well, they’re facing outrage after a three-foot rabbit, who was supposedly in perfect health, died on one of its flights.

united-airlines-giant-rabbit-death

The continental giant rabbit, named Simon, is an ancient breed that is supposedly very friendly and intelligent.

At least this time a security official didn’t physically beat the rabbit and drag its bloody body off the plane. So … progress, I guess?

While we mourn Simon, I’d like to wrap up this week by addressing two separate comebacks this week by some of my favorite women.

The first triumphant return was Russian goddess and tennis star Maria Sharapova, who, like me, joined the 30-year-old club recently, and who is playing in her first tournament since her suspension for using a drug that was banned only right before she tested positive for it.

If you remember, her initial two-year suspension was reduced to 15 months following an appeal. She’s back now, and Maria won her first two matches in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany this week. Some of her fellow competitors have had some harsh words for her, but I don’t care. I have been a staunch Sharapova fan for about 10 years, and she can do no wrong.

Besides being suspended 15 months for doping.

Lastly, one of my favorite bands, Haim, is back in the news today as they released their first new song in four years. The rock-n’-roll sister trio spent the last four years touring their old stuff and partying with Taylor Swift, and now they’re bound to become as popular as ever with this new release.

Which, I admit, merely scratches the surface of what these women are capable of. Consider it a teaser. I saw them live three times last summer, and they played some new stuff that sounded awesome.

So the best is yet to come.

In conclusion, Haim is the best, and you heard it here first.

Have a good weekend everybody.

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Oops, United Airlines did it again

Since the election, we’ve learned that if anyone besides Donald Trump or a member of his administration becomes the focus of national outrage, it means they screwed up really badly.

I’m talking an epic screw-up.

It was just two weeks ago when United Airlines accomplished this dubious honor by denying two young girls entry to a flight because they were wearing leggings.

Not long after, United Airlines was off the hook when Pepsi stole the spotlight with their shockingly tone deaf commercial that trivialized the racial and political unrest that fuels public protests.

But United Airlines apparently missed the notoriety spotlight, and would not be denied.

And they’re back, baby! All it took was the roughing up of a Chinese doctor and dragging his semi-conscious, bloody body off an airplane.

You all have heard about this in some capacity, as it’s made headline news over the last two days.

The video looks terrible. What we see is a law enforcement official savagely pulling the limp human body of a man who paid to be on the flight, and had already been boarded and had been seated – all because the airline overbooked the flight and needed to clear seats for flight attendants who were scheduled to work on a different flight.

If you think this should result a shitstorm of backlash and fury towards United Airlines, then you’d be exactly right.

But there is a lot to digest here.

UA passenger

For one, the incident has brought to the spotlight the practice of airline overbooking. This is unfortunately a fairly common practice, as we forget that airlines don’t just exist for our own traveling purposes, but to actually make money. In anticipation of flight no-shows, airlines will frequently overbook flights to maximize the odds of every seat being filled.

But when overbookings occur, it should seem like common sense for the airline officials to remove passengers before they board, right? If I’m sitting at an airline gate for two hours, and then proceed to board the plane and stow away my luggage, then you’re damned right that I’m going to be pissed off too if I’m suddenly asked to get off.

After the man initially refused to leave, witnesses say that he somehow ran back onto the plane after he was forcibly removed the first time. Then the chaos that we all saw on video ensued. And it’s not a pretty sight.

The resulting public fury was inevitable.

The American public greatly empathized with this situation because we’ve all had our own airport misadventures. We’ve all experienced a time when we wanted to wish nothing but fire and brimstone on a specific airline.

However, when your flight is delayed, we are mostly powerless. Sure, you can curse out an airline on Twitter, and while that feels very invigorating in the moment, it ultimately accomplishes nothing.

But this was our moment. Now, we all get to take out our combined rage on an airline, over an incident that was created by their own mistakes, overlaid by an overbooking practice that we all despise.

Not even another Pepsi screw-up is going to get United Airlines out of this one.

And it’s not just America that’s pissed. This has apparently ignited an international incident, reaching front page news in China, and fueling the belief of many in that country that the western hemisphere behaves in a discriminatory manner towards Chinese people.

But after the public fury failed to dissipate, United Airlines finally took full responsibility for the episode, with CEO Oscar Munoz publicly apologizing and ordering a complete investigation of the procedural mistakes that led to this incident. The officer seen dragging the passenger was also suspended.

The damage, however, is done. There are calls to boycott the airlines. An online petition titled #ChineseLivesMatter calls for a federal investigation into the matter, the Internet memes are out in full force.

So, United Airlines, you’re not getting off the hook this time. I don’t care what the Trump administration says or does, this time you —

Wait, what’s that? White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer evoked an ill-advised and insensitive comparison to Adolf Hitler when discussing Syria?

United Airlines, you can pretty much get away with anything for the next four years.

#LeggingsGate shows that America is slowly coming back to normal

It’s been a long time since meaningless, inane news items became the target of American outrage.

Like the color of a dress.

Or Ryan Lochte doing stupid Ryan Lochte things.

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I miss those days.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump has been so quick and so fierce that it’s completely consumed our collective attention. Every single day, he does something that makes us throw up our arms sand say, “You kidding me? This motherfu*%er did what?!”

But recently, we have witnessed some limitations to his power. With federal courts proving as a watchdog to Trump’s authority, and a rebellious Republican Party showing that it will not make things easy for his administration to get legislation passed, a lot of angry Americans have finally begun taking a step back from the ledge.

And by ledge, I specifically mean the border between the U.S. and Canada.

As a result, the door has been left open for us to return to 2015 and early 2016 form, where even the slightest, insignificant “controversy” has the ability to roil the entire American population.

And United Airlines delivered.

As many of you have heard, two teenage girls were rejected by gate agents from entering an airplane in Denver, Colorado because their leggings did not meet the airline’s dress code requirements.

United Airlines leggings

After it was tweeted by a nearby passenger, immediate outrage ensued. Suddenly, United Airlines dictating how women should dress became the national narrative. It was an incorrigible thought, especially when you consider how badly unkempt and disheveled the majority of people are when they enter an airplane.

Everyone basically looks like an extra on The Walking Dead.

Celebrities chimed in. Model Chrissy Tegan said she plans to fly on her next flight topless. Countless young men then wondered what flight that would be so they could book it too.

Before long, calls to protest United Airlines surfaced on social media.

Finally, mired in intense backlash, United Airlines issued an explanation – the girls were not regular passengers, but were “pass riders,” meaning their tickets were given to them by employees or their friends at a heavily discounted rate, and thus are held to a much more stringent dress code.

But for many, that explanation was not good enough. Even if this type of dress code restriction is not uncommon for guests of employees who are receiving free travel.

As we speak, United Airlines is still defending itself from the criticism.

You can call this what you want. To some, it’s a continuance of a larger social issue. To others, it’s inspired some angst, but not worth harping on. Many others have probably already forgotten about it.

Regardless of what you think, I see this as a healthy sign for our nation. Hear me out.

Because if we’re mad at United Airlines over this, it means we’re not mad at Donald Trump. And if we’re not mad at Donald Trump, it’s because he’s not – or he’s been prevented from – doing something stupid!

And maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s autocratic, world-harming decision making. Perhaps we can finally return to a time when the hot news item of the day would be all we cared about, until the next thing happens. Heck, let’s bring back #FML! I’d welcome it at this point!

Wait, what did you say?

Trump just undid years of climate change progress with the stroke of a pen, all but guranteeing the fact that our planet will be uninhabitable in the not-so-distant future?

United Airlines, you’re off the hook.