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The Vox Box

Archive for June 2008

Washington Bans Cell Phone Usage While Driving (Sort of)

(From the hang-up-and-drive department)

Starting July 1, drivers can be ticketed by the police for driving with a cell phone up to their ear. (I would tell you specifically what law this is, but none of the three different media outlets I checked bothered to publish this.)

Interestingly, drivers can only be cited for using their cell phone if they have done something else wrong at the same time. Also, the phone must be at the ear - speakerphone or hands-free devices are fine.

So, what do you think? Is this a worthwhile protection, or is the government wrongly stripping us of our God-given right to gab?

Got a secret to get off your chest?

This site was pointed out to me by graduate copy editor Ashley:

“PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.”

You are invited to anonymously contribute your secrets to PostSecret. Each secret can be a hope, regret, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before.

Warning: language and image alert! Some of the contents of the postcards could be offensive to some. But more than that, reading the cards is addictive.

The cards are only updated on Sundays. You get a new set each week.

QUESTION: Do you think “letting go” of a secret in this sort of fashion is theraputic and healthy? Do you think this is art?

No Pool? No Worries!

Not owning a swimming pool hasn’t stopped some teens in Bournemouth (in the UK) from throwing pool parties. They simply use Google Earth to find peoples with pools in their area, post it on facebook, and set a date. The parties are set for the midnight hours, and are know as “dipping”. Here is the story:

Would you ever sneak into a neighbors pool for a quick dip? Do you own a pool and face problems such as this?

Fun YouTube of the day…

What do you think? Is it possible?

Girl Fights Hiccups 65 Days Straight

That’s right. She hiccupped 65 whole days! The story is from which can be found here.

OMAHA, Neb. — A chronic case of the hiccups has an Iowa woman looking for a cure for her daughter.

Dawn Swanger called the KETV NewsWatch 7 I-Team at the end of her rope. Her daughter, Ericka, 11, started hiccupping in April as she sat in her Missouri Valley classroom.

“It started April 1,” said Ericka, speaking through hiccups. “We were in English class at school, and it was no big deal. Then, a couple weeks later, we started getting worried. They hurt, but not that much any more. I got used to the pain.”

The article goes on to describe the multiple methods that Ericka tried to get rid of the hiccups. She tried everything from a contraption called the “Hic-cup” (which is apparently a metal cup that you drink out with a metal rod stuck to your temple) to hanging up-side down while drinking water out of a towel.

When doctors said there was nothing physically wrong with her she went to a hypnotyst to “persuade Ericka’s subconscious mind to give up the annoying, bad habit”. However, before the appointment, exactly 65 days after they had begun, the hiccups disappeared to only an occasional five-minute burst of them.

Since I hate getting hiccups, I’m wondering…what do you all do to chase hiccups away when you get them? What is the longest that you have ever hiccupped without stopping?

Talk About a Bad Hairday…

The story is from the Associated Press and can be found on here.

OSLO, Norway - A British woman’s bulging wig did not fool customs agents in Norway who realized she wasn’t just having a bad hair day.

The wig was concealing 2.2 pounds of cocaine glued to her head and customs agents detained her on suspicion of cocaine smuggling, authorities said Wednesday.

The 32-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld, arrived late Sunday at Vaernes airport near the city of Trondheim on a flight from Copenhagen, Denmark, the customs service said.

“The agent thought she had a great deal of hair and suspected that she was wearing a wig,” the agency said. “The wig was examined and the agents found a bag of cocaine.”

Norway’s largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, said the cocaine was glued so firmly to the woman’s real hair that police brought her to the local hospital to have it removed.

Kjetil Mjoesund, of Trondheim police, confirmed that it was glued to her head, but had no information about how it was removed. He said she was taken for a routine medical check.

A court ordered the women held until July 15, pending a formal indictment and trial.

The only thing I can say is that I wish there was a picture! It must have been a really big wig to be able to conceal 2.2 POUNDS of cocaine!

Stupid Criminals

In honor of the slack-off season (aka the start of summer) I decided to post 12 of the stupidest criminals, provided by If you have a better one, feel free to post it.

It’s Monday. Do you know where your Vox application is?

I have a ton of GREAT applications on my desk and I am looking forward to combing through them with the Vox editorial staff tomorrow.

I also had something come up and won’t be in the office today, (Monday) so if anyone else wants to slip one in, go for it. Especially those of you who have been emailing me questions throughout the weekend. I will print it out to join the others first thing tomorrow.

We need sports writers!

All our bloggers are graduating. Think this is something you’d like to do? We need you!

The application is here:

If you are from Idaho, use this one:

If the link isn’t working or you have any questions, email Erin at:

Keep in mind that there will be training sessions in July, and we start work on our first edition in August. Does this mean we work all summer? Oh heck no.

So, download the application, fill it out, and email it back to Erin as an attachment at: AND DON’T FORGET TO SEND EXAMPLES OF YOUR WORK!

And if you don’t have email? Get one. It’s how we communicate and you can’t apply without one. Thanks!

“Welcome to Baghdad, D.C.”

(From the “may-I-see-your-papers-please? department)

I usually do not like to editorialize too much here - I like to let you squabble in the comments. However, this is an issue I feel we really need to address. It is scary and it is happening now.

The title comes from a statement by Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU in D.C. His organization is contemplating legal action against the Washington Police Department for their “military-style checkpoints”

More on this issue from The Washington Post:

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.

Officers will check drivers’ identification and ask whether they have a “legitimate purpose” to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.

“In certain areas, we need to go beyond the normal methods of policing,” [Mayor Adrian] Fenty (D) said at a news conference announcing the action. “We’re going to go into an area and completely shut it down to prevent shootings and the sale of drugs.”

The article goes on to say that the police reserve the right to extend the program even more.

America has always been characterized by freedom of movement from one end of the country to the other, let alone within your own city. This all sounds sort of Nazi-ish to me.

I also find it interesting that citizens who paid for the roads need permission to use them!

However, even if you let the obvious civil liberties issues go, this is still an ineffective way to prevent crime:

Pedestrians will not be stopped, which is something critics say might render the program ineffective.

“I guess the plan is to hope criminals will not walk into neighborhoods,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). “I also suppose the plan is to take the criminal’s word for it when he or she gives the police a reason for driving into a neighborhood.”

So, in the end, we have here a possibly unconstitutional, definately unAmerican, and not very effective way of preventing violent crime.

Let the commenting fun commence.

The U.S. Witch Trials

Leonard Pitts Jr. has been my favorite columnist printed in the Spokesman Review (besides Paul Turner) for a while now. He writes for the Miami Herald.

In his column for June 8, 2008 he talks about how our current mind state resembles that of the cartoon cat who:

turns to flee angry dog, steps on a rake instead, knocks himself silly. It’s not sophisticated humor, but it is a visceral illustration of an abiding truth: panic can make you hurt yourself.

My title makes a little harsher analogy with our current mindset towards things like terrorism.

Rachael Ray recently wore a scarf in an online add that some people thought resembled a kaffiyeh, a headdress worn by Arabs, most notably Yasser Arafat. This caused a bit of an uproar among reactionaries and “blogger blowhards.” I like the way Pitts responds to the situation:

Me, I thought the paisley scarf resembled a paisley scarf, but then, I haven’t been taking my paranoid lunatic pills lately, so what do I know?

Here’s the meat of the problem though:

As it happens, at roughly the same time the Guardian newspaper in London was reporting the case of one Rizwaan Sabir, a 22-year-old student working on his master’s at Nottingham University. Sabir was arrested, held for six days, and subjected to what he describes as psychological torture after he downloaded a copy of an al-Qaida training manual.
Also arrested: a university administrator, Hicham Yezza, on whose computer the manual was stored. It seems Sabir had asked Yezza to print the 1,500-page document because he could not afford to.

But neither man will be prosecuted for terrorism. According to university officials, the materials Sabir downloaded were directly related to research for his degree. And get this: you know where Sabir says he got the offending manual? From a U.S. government Web site. In other words, it was publicly available and hardly top secret.

I feel like no that we’ve already been through the Salem witch trials and the “red scare” we should know enough to stop reacting so insanely to our fear and ignorance. Why must we shoot ourselves in the foot, or

look suspiciously at everyone whose name is not Smith, Johnson or Jones, inspect scarves for terroristic subtext, but glance the other way as torture is committed, intolerance is embraced, habeas corpus is ignored and freedoms of speech, dissent and privacy are abridged.

It’s time to stop panicking. We’re only hurting ourselves while our enemies laugh long and loud. There are still good people around, not everyone is trying to kill us; let’s not push them away.

More on Obama vs Hilary…

I suppose it’s highly childish of me to post this, but I can’t help it. I work with teenagers. I have an excuse…

Obama Grabs the Nomination, Clinton Ignores Him

(From the I-am-putting-my-fingers-in-my-ears-and-whistling-loudly department)

Politico has an interesting article which discusses last night’s happenings on the Democratic side. It is focused on Obama “handling” Clinton, but I found this more interesting:

Barack Obama would like to remind you of something: He won and she didn’t. It’s about him now and not her. He has made history, and she is history.

Not that Hillary Clinton admitted to any of that in her nonconcession concession speech Tuesday night.

…If you had just awakened from a (blissful) 17-month sleep, you would have thought she had won.

“Because of you, we won together the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes,” she told the crowd in New York City. “I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible.”

Get the low-down here.

Question: Why did Hillary fail to concede last night? Does she have some moves left, or is she just in denial?

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About this blog

In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at

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