Monday, December 7, 2015

Vote Now! The 2015 Miserable Crank Awards: Day One

It's time for the 6th annual Miserable Crank awards, where we determine the worst events of the year!

The categories are:
  • Worst Government Decision 
  • Worst Technological Advance
  • Worst Sports Event
  • Worst Embarrassment
  • Worst Business Decision
  • Worst Popular Trend
  • Worst Incident
  • Worst Entertainment
  • Worst Person
  • Worst Inconvenience
Simply vote for one candidate in each category over the next three days. Then, you can vote again for any one event as the "Worst Thing About 2015" on day four. On that day, you can vote for the same candidate as you had in the past or a different one; it's up to you. Whichever one wins the overall vote wins the Worst Event, and whoever the runner-up is in that category wins that category instead. I retain a little bit of judgement and discretion on this one, however, since not all of the candidates are appropriate.

(The second day of voting is for Business, Popular Trends, and Incidents.The third day of voting is for Entertainment, Person, and Inconvenience.)

Voting will end on Thursday, December 17th. The results will be posted the following Monday.

Hillary Clinton's Private Email Accounts
Hillary Clinton, who--if you aren't aware, is running for President--has had a bit of a rough go of it. While she is still the frontrunner, she has been dogged for years over her handling of communications. During her time as Secretary of State (remember that?) she used an unsecured email account for official business, which is something federal employees really shouldn't be doing--official documentation and all that. According to her team, she didn't use any classified information on this account, but according to Republicans she might as well have pasted her password (hunter2, one presumes) on her Google Plus account. We can all agree that, regardless of your political leanings, that Hillary is the sort of person to use a Google Plus account, right?    

Indiana Religious Freedom Law
Not much goes in the Hoosier State--a little bit of basketball, a little bit of David Letterman, and a whole lot of Gary, Indiana. So imagine everyone's surprise when they passed a law that would prevent even more things from happening--namely, not serving people who (whatever the code words were for being gay.) After a backlash, the law was effectively amended as to be useless, but by then the damage was done, and most of the nation could get back to forgetting that Indiana exists.     
Anthrax Shipments
We don't expect much from our government here in America; we're used to having the powers that be hold a recklessly cavalier attitude about daily governance. A government that does little is best, so they say. That said, citizens do have a bit of a problem when the incompetence of the government actively causes harm, as it did when it mistakenly shipped out dozens of live anthrax cultures to labs--you know, the exact sort of thing that a decade ago sent the entire nation into a panic. If nothing else, the recipients were all labs capable of handling the poison, but still.  

Greek Bailout
There's some old saying--by Socrates, I believe--about throwing good money after bad. Third time's the charm, after all. Greece, which has been on the verge of anarchic mayhem for roughly a decade now, has begged for, and received, yet another bailout by the EU. And by the EU, I mean mostly Germany. Granted, this was after the Greek people roundly defeated a public referendum to get the bailout with what every other person in the room considered modest reforms, so the the chances of this one succeeding any differently than the last two bailouts are slim at best. 

Central Command Gets Hacked 
We expect our armed forces to be at least somewhat prepared for unexpected attacks, but apparently that doesn't extend to social media. CENTCOM covers (surprise!) the Middle East, and as such their Twitter account was hacked and converted to a pro-ISIS mouthpiece, including an avatar that stated (I am not making this up) "I love you ISIS." They then proceeded to tell all the followers that "You won't BELIEVE what the Jihadists have in store for America! (#3 will cause you to EXPLODE!)"

AOL-Verizon Merger 
AOL, the once-proud internet service company, is merging with Verizon, the once-proud leader in communications. In theory, it's a merging of synergies--the old landline system with a bolted-on telecommunications center and the new digital master of the modern age joined together for a communications behemoth. And yet once one knocks all the cobwebs off the merger, they're going to find even more cobwebs, because none of these companies have had anything close to synergy for decades. And one half expects Time Warner to make drunk phone calls to the new company at 3 am. 

Amazon Prime Day
It was hyped as being the single greatest sale of the history of the universe—Amazon, the king of online retailing, was holding a sale that rivaled Black Friday in total dealage. People waited patiently, refreshing their browser, tagging their favorite items—only to find out most of the deals were on generic detergent and 144-packs of canned peaches. Aside from a few mid-range electronics, most of the sales lacked the flashy buzz of, well, pretty much every other sale in existence save the occasional Martin Luther King, Jr Mattress Sale.

Windows 10
A new upgrade to Windows—for free (at first), no less!—is a hard thing to complain about, but leave it to Microsoft to ballsack it up anyway. While the upgrade itself was relatively harmless (and useful), it got pushed to customers more or less without their approval, causing some customers on limited bandwidth plans to get outrageous bills form their providers. In addition, they chose to take it off the market in response, which served to confuse the non-confused users even more.

New iPhone Design
Another year, another round of questionable decisions by the iPhone design staff. One's gut is willing to give them a pass--what with them designing the single greatest electronic device in recorded history--and yet let's not forget that someone made the world's greatest punchcard machine at one point, too. Some of the new ideas--no headphone jack being the biggest issue--perplexed even the company's biggest fans.

CMU Admissions Procedure
In a spectacular moment of pure hubris, Carnegie Mellon University--the place where robots are building robots that will eventually take your job--had their own major flare-up. One would think their tech team would be on top of, well, everything, and yet somehow the university managed to send out over 800 false acceptance letters to 800 pasty-faced, broken-hearted nerds. They blamed it on "human error," a blatant lie since no human has worked there for decades, but it sounds better than "The algorithm in the AI for our Admissions Department was flawed." If that isn't rolling a 20 on a 20-sided die, I don't know what is.

Woe be the lowly Patriots! Having had to wait almost a decade to not win every single Superbowl ever, and even suffered a humiliating and completely unfair loss only a few years ago, they finally made it to the championship game based on their own merit and skill. Oh, and, possibly, by cheating. The method of cheating in this case was the deflating of footballs, which apparently makes it easier for some quarterbacks and/or receivers to handle. The Patriots are no stranger to cheating being accused of cheating in football games, so this incident wasn't simply brushed off--and to many, the behavior after the fact was much worse than the crime itself.  

Mayweather-Paquino Fight
Boxing is supposed to be exciting, right? Two trained professionals hamming it up before the fight, getting everyone to pay insane amounts of money to see it on cable, and then watching two grown men who should know better beat the ever-loving shit out of eat other. Well, that is what is expected, but that's not what most fan believed they got in what was billed as the "Fight of the Century," a bold claim in 2015. Floyd Mayweather played defensively (read: boring) while Paquino failed to land much by way of offense (read: boring) and the bout was scored the old-fashioned way, by boring judges. To top it all off, not one ear was bitten off.

FIFA Scandal
Soccer--or, rather, what Europeans call "football" and Americans call "What's in the next channel?"--has long had FIFA as its governing body, including running the highly lucrative World Cup. It's also long been accused of being a corrupt pit of dark arts and chicanery, all of which came to a head this year as fourteen (and counting) high-ranking officials were indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud. In fact, as you are reading this, six more executives have been charged.  

Qatar World Cup
While the financial scandals are the ghost of FIFA past, let's look at the ghost of FIFA future. Qatar--a nation not known for hosting large, logistically intense foreigners--won the World Cup hosting privileges for 2022. To prepare, they had to build a series of stadiums and other supporting buildings in their copious arable land. Qatar, however, has had a few logistically intense issues of their own, but instead of soccer players being paid millions of dollars to kick a leather bladder around, they're scooping up foreign slaves to build stuff. Allegedly. 

DraftKings and FanDuel
If you've watched any football this year, you've no doubt seen some commercials for both DraftKings and FanDuel. And when I say "some commercials" I mean "100,000 commercials." The for-pay fantasy football site has come under fire for a variety of reasons: it's technically gambling in many states, which is, um, illegal; but more importantly allegations that insiders at DraftKings were using the data to win money for themselves, which is also, um, illegal. (Apparently the workers at FanDuel know better or else aren't as good at cheating.) 

Ahmed And The Clock Bomb
When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed built a clock, he was proud of it; so proud that he brought it to school to show his teachers. The engineering teacher approved; the English teacher, not so much. And when the principal got hold of it--well, watch out, cause the cops are getting called! Islam + electronic device = potential threat! While there's some debate about intentions--Ahmed's father is a known political troublemaker--what isn't under dispute by most individuals is that the administration and the cops, who proceeded with a full-on arrest of a minor, mug shot and all, overreacted in the worst possible way.
Brian Williams, War Hero
Respected news anchor Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News found himself in trouble after it was found that some of his claims about the Iraq War were false--specifically, that a helicopter he was in was fired at by enemy forces. Journalists, who are generally expected to err more on the side of truth than fiction, don't have a whole lot of leeway about this, especially the sort of story that could easily be fact-checked like this one. Williams lost his job, but quickly bounced back, a testament to both his reputation and/or the rather thin excuse for journalism that exists today. 

The Duggars 
The Duggar family, known primarily as that family that has enough kids to field the number of people in the TLC Network executive’s room it took to OK a reality TV series featuring the Duggar family, has always had its fair share of controversy, although up until this year the complaints were largely in the realm of small-ball low-grade nataliphobia. Well, that all came to a screeching, uncomfortable halt when it was revealed that Josh Duggar, the oldest of the brood, was accused of molesting two of his many, many sisters. Their TV show was taken off the air and criminal charges are pending and the family was reduced to a meager few career options, which boil down to 1) Christian musicians traveling between Branson, MO and Salt Lake City or 2) invading force large enough to conquer Hobby Lobby.

Subway Spokesman
Jared Fogel, the nice-enough guy who rode to fame as the spokesman for the Subway chain of restaurants, is a proper American cultural icon. He’s been around forever, starring in Superbowl commercials and showing up in bit-part cameos in movies about sharks and/or tornados, all hanging off of his (admittedly impressive) claim of losing a lot of weight. Sadly, it turns out he has other interests that involve child pornography, and so his long, inexplicable life in the spotlight came to an end this year.

The View Vs Nurses 
The View, a show where four miserable women complain to other miserable women, received a fair amount of criticism due to some throwaway comments while discussing the Miss America Pageant—comments that basically dismissed nursing as “not a talent” after a contestant claimed as such. Since there's nothing more that miserable women love than to make everyone else miserable as well, the story barrelled through social media at lightning speed.

[Voting is now closed.]


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