TIME Business

Knees Need a Defender: There’s No Excuse for Leaning Back on an Airplane

Passenger With His Knees Against a Sleeping Businessman's Chair on an Aeroplane
Digital Vision/Getty Images

'If you try to move that seat back again I’m going over the top of your chair and strangling you'

Nobody over six feet tall is surprised that a couple of passengers got into a fight on a United flight from Newark to Denver over the use of a gadget called Knee Defender — two small, wedge-like devices that prevent the seat in front of you from reclining. The passenger using the device, a guy seated in a middle row, refused to remove it when the woman seated in front of him tried to recline. Words were exchanged; then a cup of water was hurled aft. The flight was diverted to Chicago, and the two were removed.

Me, I’m with Knee Defender guy.

I don’t travel with a Knee Defender, but I do travel with knees. Just being an airline passengers makes everyone cranky to begin with. Being 6 ft. 2 in. and long of leg, I’m in a near rage by the time I wedge myself into a coach seat. And now you want to jam your chair back into my knees for four hours? Go fly a kite. It’s an airline seat, not a lounge chair. You want comfort, buy a business class seat. What’s surprising is that there haven’t been more fights over Knee Defender. Or perhaps these incidents haven’t been reported. I’ve gotten into it a few times with people in front of me who insist that the space over my knees is theirs, as if they have some kind of air rights. And I’m sure I will again.

United says it has a no Knee Defender policy, although the device is allowable on other carriers. My own knee defense is this: As soon as the seatbelt sign goes off and people are free to annoy me, I wedge my knees against the seat in front of me. Any attempted move back is met with resistance. (Very good exercise, too.) At first, the person in front thinks there’s something wrong with his chair and tries again, meeting like resistance. Then there’s that backward glance, and the dirty look. I smile and say: “Sorry, those are my knees. And I’m not moving them.” Secretly I am saying, “If you try to move that seat back again I’m going over the top of your chair and strangling you.” Did I mention that flying is infuriating?

This has led to some very unfriendly exchanges on the friendly skies of United and elsewhere. And should my adversary, during an unguarded moment, manage to intrude into my space, there’s always the opportunity to resort to 8-year-old mode, accidentally kicking the chair every once in a while. If I’m not going to be comfortable, you’re not.

Yes, it’s not the most civil behavior, but United and other airlines brought this about by treating us like cargo. Consider the situation on Flight 1462. United runs 737s, among the smallest in the Boeing fleet, out of Newark to distant places. It’s four hours to Denver from Newark. The coach seats are 17.3 inches wide. The pitch is 31 inches in Economy and 34 inches in the so-called Economy Plus, where the dueling pair was sitting. Economy Plus used to be called by another name, Economy, until the carriers started adding rows and squeezing the space. This fight started because the guy was trying to work on his laptop. You can’t use a laptop when the seat in front of you is in your lap. And it’s only getting worse when you realize that the proportion of flights longer than two hours that now use commuter jets is growing.

Personally, my policy is to not recline, even if the seat does. I’m trying to respect the space of the passenger behind me. So please respect mine, or be prepared for a bumpy ride.

TIME Crime

This Guy Posed for His Mugshot Wearing a T-Shirt Featuring His Previous Mugshot

Mug Shot T-Shirt
This Aug. 8, 2014 booking photo released by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department shows Robert Burt, of Pittsfield, Maine. Somerset County Sheriff’s Department—AP

Too meta, or just meta enough?

Back in June, 19-year-old Robert Burt was charged with driving under the influence. When the Pittsfield, Maine, resident showed up to begin his two-day jail sentence this month, he wore a shirt one of his co-workers had so generously made for him following the arrest. That shirt featured Burt’s original mugshot.

Upon arrival, Burt had to pose for a booking photo, resulting in one marvelously meta moment.

Sadly, the second mugshot does not show the entire shirt, which includes a second photo:

We thought Macaulay Culkin was the Meta T-Shirt King, but Mr. Burt here is really giving him a run for his money.

(h/t The Smoking Gun)

TIME Opinion

Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn’t Funny

The humor is lost on most people, and it's terrible PR for feminism

If you’ve stumbled into certain feminist corners of the Internet lately, you may have noticed the word misandry cropping up. No, not by men’s rights activists whining that feminists hate men (or at least, not just by them). By feminists. Who think it’s funny to use it ironically.

But let’s back up a little. What exactly IS misandry, you ask? It is literally the hatred of men (in ancient Greek, “mis” means hatred, and “andro“ means male or masculine). It is the inverse of misogyny.

When feminists joke that they are misandrists, they are riffing off the misguided popular notion that they are man-haters. They mean to satirize the women who say they are not feminists because they love men. It’s an inside, inside joke.

Granted, there is something amusing about a girlish decorative sampler with “misandry” embroidered in purple thread, in the way that gross contrast is often amusing. And there’s something droll about a quiz that measures your level of misandry by asking if you’ve “cut a man’s hair off while he’s sleeping thus destroying his power,” or a list of reimagined misandrist lullabies like, “Hush little baby, don’t say a word / Ever; your sister is talking.”

And the urge to fight these misconceptions about feminists with humor is understandable. Obviously, very few feminists actually hate men as a whole, and none actually want to “kill all men” or drink “male tears” as some of these so-called ironists like to joke.

But the irony is all too often lost, despite recent arguments that the right kind of guys are in on the joke and love it. But the anecdotal evidence of that is not convincing, and those friends of women who like to use the word misandry might are likely to be a self-selecting group. Last year, a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll found that only 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men consider themselves to be feminists. Of that 16 percent, surely even fewer would find jokes about misandry funny.

Parodying the tropes of feminism’s enemies is not, in itself, unfunny or unhelpful. Consider Leandra Medine’s engaging site Man Repeller, which riffs off of and rejects the notion that women’s fashion is all about attracting men. And it’s empowering to reappropriate labels like “witch” and “bra-burner” that have been flung as criticism at women who dare to question the oppressive status quo. A new Twitter account, @WomanAgainstFeminism, takes on the popular hashtag used by women who disavow the movement with satirical rationales that humorously point out all the ways that women do need feminism.

But inherent in this word “misandry” is hatred. And inherent in phrases like “ban men” and “male tears” are cruelty and violence. If a man wore a tee shirt that said “misogynist,” even if he were a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, wearing it tongue-in-cheek, it would not be funny. It would be misguided.

What feminists really hate is the patriarchy—the web of institutions that systemically oppress women. And to tear it down, we need as many allies as we can get. Telling half the population that we hate them, even in jest, is not the way to do that. Feminism is still very much engaged in the battle for hearts and minds; appealing to the sense of humor of a very small minority of the population can be a good way to alienate the rest. That’s not to say that feminists should water down their true demands and complaints to appeal to broader swaths of the population. Nevertheless, to get folks on your side, you need an an appealing message. Humor can help. But ironic misandry is just bad PR.

TIME Humor

Sharknado 2: Five Things Deadlier Than a Sharknado—And How to Survive Them

How to Survive a Sharknado
How to Survive a Sharknado Courtesy Three Rivers Press

Tuning into 'Sharknado 2: The Second One' tonight? A new guide has some critical tips on staying safe from the wildest of creatures in your wildest of dreams (or tele-movies)

1. MEGA PYTHONS

Let it try to eat you. Lie on the ground perfectly still, with your feet toward the snake. Do not struggle as it begins swallowing you. Its backward-curving teeth will scrape you, but it probably won’t bite down. When you are in its mouth up to your chest, pull your knife out and stab it in the eyes. You may not kill it, but you will distract and blind it while you make your escape.

Mega Python

2. FIRENADOS

Treat burns. Wash the burn with water for three to five minutes. Do not break blisters. Cover the burn with a moist sterile bandage or cloth. Seek medical attention. Do not apply ice, ointments, or home remedies such as egg whites and butter. Who does that anyway? Egg whites? Everyone knows you’re just supposed to use the yolk.

Firenado

3. BASILISKS

DON’T: Shoot it or try to blow it up. Conventional weapons can’t penetrate the beast’s thick body armor. It survived a fiery inferno in- side an exploding building, indicating it is also impervious to high temperatures. It’s either the Eye of Medusa or nothing if you want to stop a basilisk.

Basilisk

4. BOARICANES

Take a tip from T-Pain—get low. If you can’t reach shelter, you’ll need to protect yourself from flying debris. Get low to the ground. Curl into a ball. If a flash flood washes you away, you’ll roll to safety like a human tumbleweed.

Boaricane

5. DINOSHARKS

The best defense is a good offense—specifically, a harpoon gun. If you’re on a boat, your options are limited. Dinosharks can swim as fast as any boat, and strike a hole through the hull as well. While the Puerto Vallarta dinoshark measured twenty feet, adults can grow up to fifty feet—meaning it could easily punch a hole in a Regal Islands International cruise ship. Fight back, or become the next victim. According to McGraw, the creature’s ex- terior is resistant to gunfire and grenade blasts. The weak spots are its mouth and eyes. Possibly its genitals, though we don’t rec- ommend taking the time to look for those. A harpoon through an eye stopped the Puerto Vallarta dinoshark. That’s a difficult shot to make, even for an experienced marksman at close range. But we have faith in you. We’ll just be waiting right . . . over . . . here . . .

Dinoshark[1]

Excerpted from How to Survive a Sharknado And Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack, by Andrew Shaffer. He is the author of humorous nonfiction and fiction, including Literary Rogues, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, and, under the pen name Fanny Merkin, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. His writing has been published in Mental Floss, Maxim, The Daily Beast, and more.

TIME Humor

‘Lena Dunham’ Congratulates ‘Allison Williams’ on ‘Peter Pan’

Allison Williams and Lena Dunham
Allison Williams and Lena Dunham Paul Archuleta—FilmMagic

When 'Girls' are cast as boys*

Lena Dunham: Allison! Hi! You know what — let’s kiss on both cheeks in case there’s any photographers around. That will help them with their headline “Lena Dunham goes Euro.” I really do try to think up headlines for them. I just can’t help it. It’s just what my mind does! Anyway. I wanted to have coffee with you because I wanted to tell you how totally excited I am for you that you’re going to be in Peter Pan Live on NBC. I mean, wow. What an opportunity. Why are you looking at me like that?

Allison Williams: I am suspicious of this meeting.

LD: Really? You are? God! How fascinating. Why?

AW: Well, I feel like Le Pain Quotidien is such the place that you, like, meet someone if you want to make it look your intentions are neutral and benign but they’re really sinister.

LD: Allison! That makes me feel terrible. I mean, it theoretically makes me feel terrible. It is the kind of thing that someone would feel terrible about if they felt terrible about things. Although I am still open to feeling terrible if in fact whatever you’re suspicious of is something that ends up happening. Anyway. Did you think it was weird that one of the producers described you as having a boyish vulnerability?

AW: Not really. I mean, I have a kind of a square jaw and maybe, like, a boyish glint in my eye?

LD: I guess. I thought it was so creepy. I mean. This isn’t against you. But I feel like the kind of guy who says stuff like that is the kind of guy who goes on vacation to Thailand, alone. You know what I mean?

AW: Look. I know you said this isn’t against me, but when you say things like “the producers who are responsible for the show you’re about to do are probably into underage sex vacations,” that is hurtful. And. Not everyone can write a book for a couple million dollars and have their own show. I’m very exited about playing Peter Pan. I have been wanting to play Peter Pan since I was three years old…

LD: Oh my God, I got it. I got it. Talking to you right now I totally know where I want to go for season four! I mean, I seriously, honestly, came here just to congratulate you, but now, I mean, I really know what direction I want to take …

AW: You’re not firing me are you? Le Pan Quotidien is so exactly where you fire someone.

LD: I’m not firing you. But you’re right. This would be a good place to fire someone! But listen, listen, listen. Oh my God, I love this so much. Wouldn’t it be cool next season if maybe Marnie was in… I don’t know, a made-for-television Broadway play. Like — wait. Oh my God. Jersey Boys. Listen. Oh, this is so great. Some weird female director – like, Julie Taymor decides to do Jersey Boys, but women playing all the guy’s parts, and Julie Taymor sees Marnie at a party at that gallery, and she’s like, “Oh you have such great boyish energy” and she casts Marnie … And it’s supposed to be this big thing, so interesting and avant garde, and it ends up being a huge flop. And then…

AW: If you think Le Pan Quotidien is a good place to tell someone you’re going to insert them in a story line where they play one of the male leads in an all-female, live television broadcast of Jersey Boys, directed by Julie Taymor, that ends up being a flop, it is not.

LD: Wait, wait, wait. I didn’t even get to the best part: In the last episode it’s revealed that the novel that Hannah’s been struggling with all season that she won’t tell anyone the plot to is actually a roman-a-clef about Marnie’s horrible experience.

AW: But that makes me look like such a loser.

LD: I don’t understand.

AW: Well it makes it look like my career, not just, you know, Marnie’s career, but my career, is a joke.

LD: Would it make you feel better if the novel Hannah writes is really, really bad and no one will publish it?

AW: Slightly better. Can Marnie sing My Boyfriend’s Back?

LD: Of course.

AW: And can the reviews say that’s a highpoint of the show?

LD: Absolutely. Oh, but your character also has to become best friends with Carrie Underwood, because she was in the The Sound Of Music, and kinda got crap for it, and she’s the only one who can understand Marnie’s pain.

AW: I don’t know about that. That makes Marnie seem really – I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like Marnie, to be friends with someone who says “mean people need Jesus.”

LD: Well, it’s kind of too late, because I already talked to Carrie Underwood and she wants to do it, so…

AW: Wait a minute. You acted like you just came up with this story line while we were sitting here. But you actually came here knowing that you were going to tell me this.

LD: Ok, remember I said I was open to feeling terrible? I feel terrible. And I will totally have a scene where Carrie Underwood finds the MS of my novel and tells me that it sucks. Ok? Plus, you agreed to come to Le Pan Quotidien. What did you think was going to happen?

*At least this is how such a conversation might go in Sarah Miller’s imagination. She also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels,Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME technology

Watch Jimmy Kimmel Hilariously Convince People That a Cheap Casio Is Apple’s iWatch

They willingly admit they'll buy pretty much anything with an Apple logo on it

+ READ ARTICLE

It seems there nothing Jimmy Kimmel loves more than a good old-fashioned prank. (Remember that time he got Drake to dress up in disguise and ask people their opinions about Drake?) This time, Kimmel took a $20 Casio, slapped an Apple logo on it and got his team to trick strangers into thinking it was Apple’s rumored smart watch.

Even though the device can really only do things that a basic watch can do — like tell the time, or indicate the date, or act as a stopwatch — people are blinded by that iconic apple logo.

“I mean, if it’s Apple, it’s good right?” one guy says. Another woman admits, “I would pretty much buy anything from Apple.” Even, it turns out, a cheap Casio.

TIME Humor

Watch: Kristen Bell Plays a Minimum-Wage Mary Poppins

Feed the birds, y'all

+ READ ARTICLE

In case you had any doubts about whether Kristen Bell is one of Hollywood’s most talented dames, check out this amazing Funny or Die video in which she plays a fed-up Mary Poppins who quits her job because her pay sucks. The best part is when she looks in the mirror and her reflection is a Republican. Also props to Funny or Die for finding the perfect kids to play Jane and Michael Banks.

Babysitters of the world, unite!

TIME Barack Obama

Obama’s ‘Between Two Ferns’ Episode Nominated for an Emmy

Obama Visits Tech Hub
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the technology start-up hub "1776" July 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pool—Getty Images

Obama himself won't get an Emmy, though

An episode of online comedy series “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” featuring President Barack Obama was among the Emmy nominees announced Thursday morning.

The six-minute, 30-second episode featuring the President has been nominated for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program. It was first published on the humor website Funny or Die on March 11. Galifianakis’ show sees the actor interview a string of famous guests whom he asks inappropriate and awkward questions.

Though Galifianakis is biting, he’s no match for the President who, when asked if he wishes he could run a third time, replies: “Uh, if I ran a third time, it’d be sorta like doing a third Hangover movie. It didn’t really work out very well, did it?”

Obama then proceeds to try and educate Galifianakis about the Affordable Care Act and registering with Healthcare.gov online or by phone. Galifianakis responds: “I’m off the grid. I don’t want you people, like, looking at my texts.”

While Obama himself is not up for an Emmy for the episode, he has previously received the Grammy for best spoken word album for Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope in 2006 and 2008, respectively.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on August 28 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Actor Seth Meyers is hosting this year’s awards.

MONEY Tech

Fake Toilet-Sharing App Rents 15 Minutes of Bathroom Time for $4

Line for the outhouse
Biddiboo—Getty Images

The motto for mock toilet-sharing app AirWC is "'Cause taking a dump doesn't mean you have to be in one."

AirWC presents itself as an airbnb for private toilets, in which those in desperate need can locate nearby facilities with a smartphone app, check out reviews left by previous “users,” and book a 15-minute session on the bowl for a reasonable $4 fee.

And yes, it’s a total gag. An Italian version of AirWC was posted on the web on the more appropriate date of April 1, and the current parody is now on the comedy site Funny or Die. Let’s just get the bathroom humor out of the way with the AirWC video put on YouTube this week:

While this is indeed a joke skewering the sharing economy, while simultaneously piling on gratuitous poop punch lines, one never knows. We live in a world where a business was launched based on the delivery of $10 worth of quarters for $15 to make it easier to do laundry, after all.

Like any good modern-day technological innovation, the AirWC app (if it was real) allows you to sign in via Facebook. “In seconds, AirWC will locate private toilets nearby—clean, and ready for you,” the video explains. Users can scroll through photos and read reviews “until you find one that meets your sphincter’s needs. Does this toilet inspire you? Does it make your bowels squirm with joy and anticipation?”

Such ad copy would surely be enough to attract the “business” of quite a few users, especially at a cost of only $4 for 15 minutes. Still, not to poo-poo the idea too much (sorry), but it would probably be a tougher sell to get homeowners on board with the idea.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,828 other followers