My smarties! The world is falling apart… but I’m skipping town and thus, you’re on your own to figure it out. Wahahaa! See you back here May 31st
Behold, my hiatus meme to tide you over:
1. This week’s news swung wildly between horrific (girls trapped & tortured for a decade) and ho-hum (more news out of Washington that’s… well… let’s just say, not the kind of #scandal that gets us salivating). And frankly I think if either end of that spectrum is discussed at parties this weekend, you’re probably at the wrong parties. Heh.
BUT here’s what’s interesting:
The jig was up this week for the awful awful man in Cleveland whose grim crimes against those three girls are hard to read about — and that got a lot of smart writers writing. About what a history of violence can do to the next generation. About what the instant meme-ification of the colorful rescuer means about us (hint: it’s a color thing). About how shamefully lax police response can be in poor neighborhoods. And, looking from another perspective, what “purity culture” does to girls… and how it makes matters worse in rape situations.
Between that story and this Jodi Arias woman, and a bridal shower gone horribly awry in the Bay Area, and the higher & higher death count from the Bangladesh factory collapse, and Syria… oy. This is a week to be grateful for what we have, y’all. And to remember how insanely determined humans can be under unimaginably bad circumstances. With no superhero in sight.
2. Is being fat really like being non-white or non-straight? The CEO of everyone’s favorite loud, cologne-ial douchery of a retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch, made a lot of people pissed this week when his pro-thin/pro-cool bias came to light thanks to a new book out.
Seriously, where’s the line drawn between aggressive marketing (three cheers for capitalism & knowing your brand) and flat-out bigotry (yeah, market bullying to teens — ‘cuz what could go wrong)?? Here’s a lovely response from a gal calling out the hate speech. And one from a responsible mom. And, perhaps more on point:
3. Talking about fancy guys from the early 20th century, how ’bout that Gatsby dude? In honor of the Baz Luhrmann movie we’ve heard about for FOREVER finally coming out this weekend, here’s an awesome article about how misguided the fetish of throwing Gatsby parties is.
And, semi-relatedly, here’s a super awesome take on “coverflipping” — wherein author Maureen Johnson dared her twitter followers to engage in de-gendering book covers for a sec, to delightful ends. WHAT IF female authors’ book covers didn’t cry out “I’m less important”?? Just sayin’. Happy Mothers’ Day, all!
Quote of the Week from Anne Lamott — word to the wise:
“No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mothers’ Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior.”
Happy almost Cinco de Mayo! And pssst… it’s kinda more of an American holiday than a Mexican one.
1. This was a week of creeper news… less a big reveal & more a few coughs from the dudes lurking in the shadows: first, Guantanamo Bay is back in the press (barely) ‘cuz it turns out that the detention center that George Bush Numero Dos set up in Cuban no-man’s-land after 9/11 — to throw terrorist suspects indefinitely without trial ‘cuz WHAT COUNTRY ARE WE?! — is still operational & still sucking ass, bigtime.
Over 100 of the 166 detainees are on a hunger strike because it’s been years & years and they haven’t been charged with a crime and mainstream media isn’t covering it and what country are we?! So they’re being force-fed and ethics groups are angry, and Obama is… maybe angry.
Second, Congress knows how to work super crazy fast to change a law… when it affects them personally (thank you, Jon Stewart, for the term congratsurbating).
In one of their more baldly self-serving moves, our largely balding lawmakers voted bi-partisanly to un-sequester the airline lines & bring back air traffic controllers… mere MOMENTS before they each planned to fly home to their respective states for Spring break! What an amazing coincidence! Yeah, apparently the sequester is actually a joke to them. Haha. Hilarious.
2. A guy who plays one of the big-four macho man sports in the US of A has come out of the closet — as a good writer! Har har. No, but also: as a gay. And shouts from the sidelines suggest there are, of course, haters but those voices are mostly drowned out by the loud cheering squad…
…intermingled with a handful of cultural critics who are a little like “really, is it brave? Really?” Like a Bloomberg writer who raises an eyebrow at the when of Jason Collins’ decision to take this step. ‘Cuz sure, sure, it mighta been a risk earlier –
But civil rights causes, including gay rights, don’t advance without personal sacrifices on the part of pioneers. Gay athletes will expose themselves to career risk by coming out. They ought to do it anyway because of the broader positive effects they can create.
Though who knows if this writer holds himself to so high a standard. But talking about turning the media’s mirror on itself… was Jason Collins really the first? Or was it just the first time the media knew what to do with such news?
* The world wide web turned 20 this past week! And also there’s officially no going back. And also, #followateen embodies all that is creepy & irreverent about twitter. (<– must read)
* That school everyone’s been talking about! Brian Williams’ piece about a Massachusetts elementary school principal who funneled all the money away from security & toward the arts went viral this week because his social experiment worked! Turns out if you treat kids like Gitmo prisoners they, too, don’t respond well.
* The future is now! Oh my god, a portable socket to plug in your everything — that gets its power from the SUN. What.
* Finally, a TED talk about telling secrets that’s ten minutes of utter delicious. I dare you.
Big weekend love, all! Tequila!
Quote of the week:
After a maelstrom of activity at the end of last week with the police scanner heard ’round the world and the capture & inevitable name flubs of the surviving marathon bomber suspect, we’re left with… what?
1. Some lingering civil liberties questions over how & when young Zooey Deschanel was read his Miranda rights. This article from the Daily Mail in the UK does a nice job of breakin’ down the most recent news if you wanna keep up (he’s been transferred to a super low security prison, turns out) as well as covering all the kinda-weird inconsistencies of the case (like: he did or else he TOTALLY DIDN’T engage the police in a hour of gun battle before being captured in that boat last week).
Talking about changing the story: a guy who sent a highly toxic poison called “Ricin” to Obama & others was, and then wasn’t, an Elvis impersonator — since he now seems to have been framed by his creepy taekwondo instructor who calls himself “the insurance warrior.” Like ya do. And then this controversial bill called CISPA passed in the House of Representatives before heading to the Senate where it was, and then wasn’t, going to squash our own civil liberties when it comes to the internet (as in, companies like FB could share our private data with the government… that’s a bad scene, y’all. But another one of these freedom vs. safety issues, so the debate will surely be ongoing).
I mean, I’m all about cutting through the crap to give you guys what really MATTERS each week, but man that’s a lot of crap. And I didn’t even mention the opening of the historical accuracy-challenged Bush Library.
2. Meanwhile, internationally it’s bad news & then don’t forget the bad news. An earthquake in China. Potential chemical warfare in Syria, which Obama’s warned would be the last straw before he pulled out the big guns. A terrible & AVOIDABLE Bangladesh garment factory collapsed (that made clothing for, among other things, The Children’s Place & The Dress Barn… in case you wanna feel a bit implicated… which we probably all should) and the people of India are revolting in the name of justice. And back on American soil, a well-spoken 22-year-old Yemeni man testified about drones in front of a U.S. Senate committee & got a lot of attention. As an Atlantic article says, he told them that the drone strikes aren’t stamping out Islamist extremism; they’re fomenting it:
In emotional testimony, he stated that the Obama Administration’s drone strikes in Yemen “have made my passion and mission in support of America almost impossible” and done more to empower al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula than to weaken it.
3. And then there was Reese. No, I’m not gonna cover that shiz; there’s too many waaaay funner gems from around the internet this week. Like:
* AT&T predicted the future mindblowingly well, you guys! (Except for the “brought to you by AT&T” part, alas.) It’s actually kinda emotional to watch — I vaguely remember these ads from my yout’.
* Apparently the conventional wisdom on how to get your newborns to sleep is, um, a little paradoxical. Save this column for when the time comes.
* The BEST article ever about how texting is NOT ruining the language, dammit! It’s actually kinda like talking…
LOL have an awesome weekend, y’all.
Quote of the week:
The Onion summed up the events of the past few days best in yesterday’s article:
Citizens across the nation confirmed today that, Jesus, this week [...]
“Seriously, can we wrap this up already?” Maryland resident James Alderman told reporters, echoing the thoughts of all 311 million Americans, who have just about reached their weekly goddamned quota for carnage, misery, confusion, heartbreak, and rage.
Yep, this is one of those goddamned weeks for which I bet all you guys saw MORE than enough news — BUT there’s been so much misinformation (and opinion pieces about tweets about said misinformation) that we’re all like WHAT?So here’s the real deal on what went down:
1. Explosions. Monday’s annual Boston Marathon that attracts runners & cheering fans around the world was interrupted by what Obama called “an act of terror” perpetrated by, it seems, these guys in baseball hats, whom the FBI wanted our help identifying and who turn out to be immigrants from Chechnya. There was horror and there was hope on the finish line & beyond; accompanying harrowing stories of “traumatic amputations” among some of the world’s most dedicated runners & the death of utter innocents, we hear of Bostonions throwing open the doors to their homes (<– first spreadsheet to make me all teary), the hack group “Anonymous” Facebook posting on behalf of the hate group “Westboro Baptist Church,” and Patton Oswalt (who won the internet this week) telling us:
I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem — one human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet [...] So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred, or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
And some seriously GOOD reporting shoved in between all the racing-to-be-first-ness — like this profound article from Iraq/Afganistan war vets’ perspective, and this one pointing out that it’s a lot easier to say “we refuse to be terrorized” than to act like it.
And then there was an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant (that looks to have been an accident),and back to Massachusetts for a showdown at MIT and a nearby 7-11 late Thursday night as the bombing suspects wreaked more havoc (and an online explosion of redefined vigilante-ism). Oy. Take care of each other, you guys, and re-read Patton’s post.
2. And then there were guns. In Washington. When a moderate background checks bill — “a compromise of a compromise, just about the smallest possible policy response to the Sandy Hook massacre” — hit the Senate floor this week it didn’t get the 60% support it needed, even though more than 90% of Americans would like to see its contents enacted.
Gabby Giffords had some insanely eloquent things to say on the matter. And HuffPo posted the Twitter handles of those offending Senators, in case the American people would like to follow up on Gabby’s suggestions.
And Obama shamed the members of Congress who seemed more interested in getting a thumbs up from that other hate group, the NRA, than protecting the American people.
If you’re interested in/can stomach WHY such a popular bill would nonetheless get killed, here’s your answer.
3. And finally, the Biebs! And his earnest & cringeworthy hope that if Anne Frank had been alive today she would have been a fan of his. Yes, Anne Frank’s stepsister has come to his defense, suggesting that indeed the Holocaust victim followed celebrities in her day and might very well have been a Belieber, buuuuut that’s kinda not the point. As delicious snarkmaster Alexandra Petri put it in the Washington Post, “Justin Bieber actually thinks this is the way the arrows of fandom should point between them???” (Punctuation added by me.) “What a pity that Anne Frank, whose writings have sold millions of copies, who managed to humanize one of the most inhuman periods of history, never got to tell Justin Bieber how great Justin Bieber was.”
Big love, you guys! For serious, take care of each other.
Quote of the week:
But while we ponder what SHOULD be done to evolve when it comes to matters of race in this land that doesn’t always feel like it was made for you & me, let’s assume the answer doesn’t lie in this dude talking down to Howard University students (thank you, Jon Stewart for giving Rand Paul the ol’ Daily Show/Seinfeld treatment!) but rather more in a bend toward justice. Please watch when you have 20 minutes, for reals, guys — this brilliant TED talk speaker says “the opposite of poverty is justice.”
3. And finally, in honor of Jay-Bey’s trip to Cuba (wait, did I just make up that portmanteau? Surely I can’t be the first) — which highlights how rare & weird restricted travel is for US citizens — here’s some UH-MAZING images of celebrities photoshopped in the other direction thanks to artist Danny Evans. It’s making the rounds this week among us normal-looking people for totally obvious & delicious reason. I mean:
And here’s a few more. Happy weekend, y’all! Spread the Smarty love
Quote of the week:
Dude, this week’s dispatch is from the Snotty at the Pahtty. BUT just ‘cuz I’m sick doesn’t mean YOU’re sick, my smarties. So real fast, here’s what went down this week, pour vous. Also, take more vitamin C.
1. North Korea’s president is talkin’ smack and no one can quite tell if he’s writing checks his body can’t cash… or if his body can, in fact, cash said checks. Which would be bad, ‘cuz the whole check-cashing situation would involve nukes. So South Korea (their freer, less commie neighbor — sometimes memes are best:
end parenthesis) is preparing for war just in case. Which means the US is preparing for war just in case — ‘cuz Obama wants to show South-K that he’s their oppan… Gangnam Style. Here’s the best perspective I’ve seen on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s cray:
The reassuring news: Much of Kim’s bellicosity is probably aimed at his own people, whipping up war scares to justify their continued impoverishment and oppression. And Obama’s brandishing-of-arms is aimed, in large measure, at his South Korean allies—to assure them that America has their back and will take action if the North gets aggressive.
But there’s a nerve-racking flipside to this news: Messages are sometimes misinterpreted; gambles are often based on miscalculations, especially if the antagonists aren’t speaking to one another directly (and Kim’s regime did shut down the North-South hotline not long ago). History is littered with wars that neither side wanted to happen. That’s what worries many officials and analysts when they look at the Korean peninsula.
2. I can’t let national news about my alma mater go celebrated, especially when it manages to embody all? some? a remarkable cross-section of? atrocious stereotypes about the Ivy League. This week a deliciously misguided businesswomen and Princeton alum published an open letter in the school’s student newspaper encouraging young ladies to find men on campus — her son, for example, by the way did she mention she has a son — to marry FOR GOD’S SAKE BEFORE YOU GRADUATE. After which point you enter the desert of stupid men (or men who like stupid women) with nary an oasis of her son in sight.
I mean, yeah, cool, everyone’s parachute’s a different color and this lady is welcome to give advice to daughters she never had and we can choose to become incensed about it or not — but ma’am, perhaps don’t go trying to align yourself with “I Went to Princeton, Bitch” if your message is actually kinda #creepysexist.
In slightly cheerier lady news, celebrities and tastemakers and politicas are swarming the Women in the World summit in NYC this week — where the 4th annual conference aims its superbright spotlight on girls rising everywhere (tell ‘em, Angelina).
3. NEOLOGISMS! We all make up words. But for serious, the Swedes do it best. Y’all, after you finish putting together your new Ikea bookshelf you have to read this list of amazingosity and begin the implimentation process ASAP — especially if you’ve got Attitydinkontinens.
(Oh, and by the way, Facebook is releasing a phone kinda, Obama is shocking Republicans by giving back some of his salary in solidarity with other federal workers whose pay is slashed by the “sequester,” and Rogert Ebert’s death elicited a lot of beautiful eulogizing, including his own.)
Quote of the week — let’s all contribute joy to the world, k? Yay!