Blog Posts by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff

  • 8 Worst Fast Food Burgers of 2011

    Cheese, pickles, ketchup and onions. These four burger toppings have stood the test of time. Why then, in 2011, did we forsake them all? Fast food chains around the world were offering some rebellious variations on the traditional burger, packing them with Fritos and sprinkling them with almonds. While tastes vary by region, no countryman should be subjected to a burger with both pepperoni and salsa. Burger Business, a trade publication for the patty industry, has a roundup of every burger item introduced on fast food menus this year. We went down the list and found some of the worst combinations across the globe. Prepare to have a patty meltdown.

    It sounds like a McFlurry, but it sure doesn't taste like one.

    8. McDonald's McZűri
    The Swiss were treated to two new takes on the traditional burger, courtesy of Ronald McD. The first tossed aside beef in favor of a ground veal patty. Instead of cheese, the topping was a thick disc-sized home-fry and instead of ketchup, a creamy mushroom sauce oozed from beyond the bun.


    Want some pig with your pig?

    7. McDonald's McGrillschnägg

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  • Jerry and Dottie Sandusky: Why Do Women Stay with Men Through Scandals?

    Jerry Sandusky and his wife Dottie at the courthouse on Tuesday. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    Outside of a small courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Dottie Sandusky, clung to her grinning husband. Wrapped in a tan shawl, her ears dotted with pearls, the wife of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach accused of sexually abusing multiple minors, let the world know she's still on her husband's side.


    "I continue to believe in Jerry's innocence and all the good things he has done," she said in a statement released to press just days before accompanying her husband to a hearing that was waived before his accusers could testify.

    We've seen this before: the high-profile husband-turned-public-enemy, and the wife who won't leave his side. The image of Silda Wall Spitzer, standing puffy-eyed behind her husband as he resigns as New York governor, is as memorable as the phrase "Client 9". Photos of Huma Abedin holding hands with Anthony Weiner, after his Twitter indiscretions made almost as many headlines as her husband's salacious Twitpics.

    In public scandals, the question of
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  • Elizabeth Taylor's Jewelry Sells for $115 Million

    This 33-carat Cartier diamond ring sold for $8.8 million.

    "These have always brought me luck," Elizabeth Taylor famously boasted of her diamonds, in a fragrance commercial.

    She wasn't kidding. Yesterday her jewelry collection broke records and toppled expectations when it sold at auction for an estimated $115 million.

    While Taylor's cache added immense value, the astounding sale had a lot to do with the merchandise: big rare rocks of the sparkling nature.

    Taylor was a life-long collector of unique gems. Many of the milestones of her life were marked by additions to her collection, now valued at well over $100 million.

    There was the diamond brooch passed down from the Duchess of Windsor. And the diamond encrusted bracelet, a gift from her best friend in later life, Michael Jackson. On Tuesday that gift sold at Christie's auction house for almost $200,000 -- four times the price it was expected to command.

    The two biggest sales in Taylor's collection were markers of another famous relationship.

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  • Fake Obituary Sends Mom to Grave. Bad Son Hall of Shame

    Fake death notice published in the Derrick Newspaper
    "Pat Bennett, 71, of Brookeville passed away..." That sentence kicked off Scott Bennet's master plan to get paid time off for bereavement at his job at a local factory.

    In fact Pat Bennett, 71, was just fine, until she found our her son had written her own obituary and sent it to be published in the local paper. According to Police Chief Ken Dworek, she's now "rather upset."

    Scott's charcoal-hearted reasoning is dumb but it isn't totally crazy: he didn't want to get fired for taking time off so he offered up his mom to the gods of playing hookie. Not a good idea, son.

    After frantic calls from friends who'd seen the obit, Pat realized she needed to convince people she was still alive. So she marched into the newspaper offices where her death notice was published to get to the bottom of this gruesome mistake. When police tracked the submission back to her son, the 45 year-old Pennsylvanian was arrested for disorderly conduct, for lack of a better category to slot this crime into.

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  • The Awkward Family Holiday Cards of Politicians


    For the past 10 years, California Representative Loretta Sanchez has snubbed the traditional family photo greeting card in favor of a costume party for her cat Gretzky.  In 2008, they both donned biker gear and hopped on a Harley for a photo op sent to friends, family and voters.  In 2004, Sanchez and her ball of white fur posed together for a fireside chat. In 2007, they went surfing courtesy of a green screen and a pair of kitten-sized sunglasses.


    Last year, however, Gretzky passed away and a ridiculously touching tribute to the ghosts of Gretzky's Christmas cards past was shipped out to the million plus recipients who’ve latched on to Sanchez’ holiday tradition. This year, Sanchez is leaving it up to voters to decide the theme of her holiday card. On her website you can vote for surfing, skiing or tradition holiday card themes. Whether she'll be joined by a Gretzky replacement this year is anyone's guess.

    Because cats can’t speak, we’ll never know whether Gretzky was pleased

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  • The Tiniest Baby Grows Up: Study Follows Preemie, Now in Her 20's

    When Madeline Mann was born, she weighed 9.9 ounces. At the time, in 1989, she was the tiniest baby born on record and the chances of her long-term survival were slim. Twenty two years later, she's a thriving college student.

    A study published in the journal of Pediatrics looked at how some of the world's smallest living babies beat the odds. Madeline was delivered by cesarean section after 27 weeks, after her mom developed dangerously high blood pressure. Immediately after her delivery, Madeline was hooked up to breathing tubes which she remained on for two months. She was treated for bleeding on her brain, and didn't get to leave the hospital with her family for four months. The odds were stacked against Madeline at birth, but two decades later she bares minimal markers of her difficult first few months.

    As an honors student and psychology major at Augustana College in Illinois, she escaped any kind of mental disability sometimes linked with early severe brain bleeding. While she

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  • 2011 Most Popular Holiday Toy (and the Hardest One to Buy)

    What is it about certain holiday toys that drive us to madness? In 1984, people trampled over each other for the last Cabbage Patch Kid. More recently, grown men and women have gone to battle over a red felt doll called Tickle Me Elmo.

    Check out more crazy holiday toy fads from years past

    It may start out innocently enough, with a good product and a little buzz, but once the "sold out" signs start showing up, the gloves come off. And this year, the battle lines are drawn over the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet .

    With 14 percent of Americans planning on gifting one of these touch-screen toys this holiday season, the LeapPad has become this year's golden goose. Nobody can stock it in stores fast enough, and online vendors that have it are jacking up the price. The original sticker price for the tablet is around $99, but vendors on eBay and buy.com are putting supply and demand to the test, charging upwards of $190 for the plastic gadget.

    One Ohio mom paid $300 from an online

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  • High School Student Puts Stop to Racist Team Chant

    Tyra Batts stands up to her school in a video posted on Buffalo News' website.Before every game, the girls' basketball team at Kenmore East High School have a disturbing tradition.

    "The whole team before our game has a ritual of saying 1-2-3 and then the N word," says Tyra Batts, the only African-American member of her Buffalo-area high school team. "It's a tradition that's been going on for years."

    When Batts joined the team this year, with dreams of going on to play college basketball, she noticed her teammates would secretly huddle up for the alarmingly racist chant before every game.

    "I would argue about it and say to not say it," Batts said in a home video submitted to the Buffalo News, "and they would tell me they're not racist, it's just a word. There was nothing I could do much before the game because I was outnumbered."

    After confronting one of her teammates, she says she was verbally attacked with another racial slur. After that, the confrontation got physical and Batts was suspended for five days for initiating a fight. "It was a buildup of anger

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  • The Year in Bans: Baggy Jeans, Burqas, Babies and More


    We got up close and personal with this sign in 2011 In 2011, one word came up again and again: No. No form-fitting jeans, no baggy jeans, no toys with fast food, no fast food condiments in schools, no homemade lunches either. No cheerleaders in class. No service dogs in class. No dogs on planes. No babies on planes. No babies in restaurants. In fact, no baby photos either.

    It's been a busy year for naysayers. Everyone's got an opinion they're prepared to enforce, especially when it comes to kids. While the bans have run the gamut, a majority have to do with child-rearing. Parents have been given an earful by the proverbial "village" as to how their kids should dress, consume, and act in public. Or rather how they shouldn't. Adults haven't escaped the negative reinforcement either. While a few medically-mandated bans may be positive reforms, others are more objectionable, even downright scary. Will this obsessive self-policing continue in 2012 or have we run out things to ban?

    Here's a look back at everything that's gotten a great bigRead More »from The Year in Bans: Baggy Jeans, Burqas, Babies and More
  • Altruism on the Rise? Real Secret Santas Help Strangers Across the Country


    Lately, I've noticed a trend in good will. Call me blindingly optimistic, but there seems to be a rise in random acts of kindness around the country. The latest: a total stranger went into a Michigan Kmart and paid layaway bills for three random customers. Her only requirements, according to Consumerist, was that the layaway orders include toys and that each beneficiary receive the following note when they checked out: "Happy Holidays from a friend".

    All told, the generous donor dropped $500 on other people's tabs. When a clerk asked her why she was doing this, she said: "I just want to help people."

    This reminds me of another recent pay-it-forward moment in September, when patrons at an Oregon Diner started picking up checks for other tables creating a domino effect of kindness that lasted the entire day.

    "People were just pointing to tables," a restaurant manager said at the time. "Nobody knew each other."

    Again in November, the good samaritan movement went on the move, this

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