Culture

Miss USA Suggests Self-Defense for Women, Twitter Loses It

By on 6.9.14 | 2:13PM

When asked about sexual assaults on college campuses last night during the Miss USA Pageant, Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, now Miss USA, delivered what most would deem a fairly noncontroversial response:

I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.

Shockingly enough, the eternally outraged #YesAllWomen camp was not happy with Sanchez’s answer. Feminists took to Twitter to express their shock and outrage that a woman would suggest individual empowerment as a means of combatting rape.

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The Good Wife: Confidence and Paranoia

By 6.6.14

May marked the end of the fifth season of The Good Wife, the CBS legal procedural/political drama/soap opera. Produced by Ridley Scott, The Good Wife is the kind of show that tends to be recommended as “the best show you’re not watching,” because it is, well, good. And while somebody is certainly watching it (me; those article writers; you?), it doesn’t have the inescapable cultural presence that Mad Men or Game of Thrones seem to.

For though The Good Wife is good, it’s in a way that makes for bad proselytizing. In its first season, it could be summed as “politician’s wife discovers affair, struggles to make her way in the work force after years as a stay-at-home mom”—a premise I have yet to repeat to anybody without watching them tune me out. But over its five seasons, The Good Wife hasn’t really stuck to that initial conceit—by season five, in fact, it’s become a different show entirely.

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Maureen Dowd is Dazed and Confused

By on 6.4.14 | 3:17PM

Maureen Dowd got really, really high. The New York Times columnist ate a legal marijuana candy bar in Denver while covering the “social revolution rocking Colorado.” Though she didn’t feel anything at first, soon the writer had to crawl into bed, “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.” The trip was so harsh, she writes, “I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.”

An inexperienced weed user, Dowd blamed her wild ride on poorly labeled pot edibles. “With liquor, people understand what they’re getting themselves into,” she argues, before supporting packaging reforms aimed at suggesting dosages to new users and deterring kids from accidentally eating THC candy.

According to a Denver pizzeria, Dowd offered further comment, including, “tonight is taking all day,” “skin is like a sock for your whole body,” and “Whoa, can someone turn down the rain?” When asked which toppings she’d like to order, Dowd responded, “Yes.”

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Game of Thrones: HBO’s Morbid Curiosity

By on 6.2.14 | 6:09PM

“If it bleeds it leads.” The entertainment industry’s love affair with violence is nothing new, though HBO has taken the brutal baton and run away with it. Game of Thrones is macabre, perverse, and yet dangerously entertaining.

Aristotle noted that we “enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us.” Watching or imagining death is more than a survival instinct—it’s a way to feel alive. You drive past an overturned car on the highway and think, “Thank goodness that’s not me.” You stand close to the edge of a cliff and wonder what it would be like to fall off. The resulting adrenaline rush makes your beating heart apparent. In contemplating death, we are contemplating life—two sides to the same coin.

The way Americans consume and perceive death evolved as humans became better at staving off sickness and lengthening life. Death—infant mortality, plagues, starvation—used to be a part of life. Now it is a novelty.

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The Return of Reading Rainbow

By on 5.30.14 | 4:40PM

The Internet nostalgia machine has donated over $2.5 million dollars to Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton to restart the PBS series that originally ran from 1983 until 2006. Burton’s Kickstarter campaign was looking for a $1 million dollar goal and promises such incentives as private dinner with LeVar and a chance to wear his character’s sci-fi visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation (these perks require pledges of $3,500 and $10,000, respectively).

Back in a 2012 interview with Mediabistro, Burton announced an earlier attempt to re-launch the show as an app aimed at modern tablet-addled kids. In the same interview, LeVar reveals his theory that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 caused Rainbow’s demise five years later. He also levels a vague critique at the military-industrial complex.

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The Beer Spectator: Prohibition Will Solve All Our Problems

By on 5.30.14 | 3:25PM

And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom

And said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 

-John 1:9-10

What’s the Beer Spectator doing quoting the Gospels? Doesn’t he know this is an alcohol column?

Indeed I do. The example of Christ turning water into wine at a wedding for his first miracle actually applies.

The tradition of Western civilization is built upon wine, beer, and the spirits that arise from these creations.

Yet for the past few centuries, some Western governments have sought to block that luxury through prohibition. Even the United States, that bastion of liberty, gave banning the purchase and distribution of alcohol the old college try.

That turned out horrendously. Bathtub gin, Al Capone, the Kennedys, and NASCAR are a few of the byproducts. And let’s not forget about the thousands of deaths resulting from high-proof moonshine and gang killings.

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How Many Ways Can You Kill a Monkey in Space?

By on 5.29.14 | 4:01PM

NASA released its first “Global Selfie,” or as Noelle Swan, staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor, called it, “the shot taken round the world.” The 3.2 gigapixel interactive image is made up of tens of 36,422 individual selfies taken by NASA fans around the world on April 22 in a joint NOAA-NASA project.

The Monitor’s Mark Trumbull quipped: “It’s one small click for a whole lot of men and women, one giant piece of computerized collage for NASA.”

The “Global Selfie” campaign is part of NASA’s attempt to draw attention to its budgetary needs and reignite interest in space exploration. In that vein, NASA has launched a full-throttle social media campaign.

I offer a simple solution to NASA’s PR problem: Send cats into space. Cats are an endless supply of inter-generational, attention-grabbing fuzziness. Imagine zero-G meow machines.

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Flick Story

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Could Have Been Worse

By 5.28.14

I have seen the future, brother, and it is a real bummer. Ahhh, look, X-Men: Days of Future Past could be much worse than it is. The last two adventures of Marvel's Merry Mutants were execrable; this one is merely doughily pointless. X-Men: The Last Stand was like watching your big brother break your favorite toys. X-Men: First Class was more like watching somebody else's awful, sticky children have a slap fight in a sandbox, except with the Cuban Missile Crisis going on as well.

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Mad Men Wraps First Half of Final Season

By on 5.27.14 | 6:03PM

Spoilers ahead.

Mad Men continues to produce engaging storylines despite a complete lack of explosions, violence, and over-the-top sexuality. The first half of the final season wrapped up this past Sunday and it is no different in this regard. Show creator Matthew Weiner has made the relatively mundane fascinating. Much like Don's pitch in this episode "Waterloo," every great TV show has a great story. 

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Newly Engaged? Be Prudent

By on 5.27.14 | 5:01PM

A couple of years ago, I visited Istanbul with my extended family. I remember the blue roughs of the Bosphorus Strait and the oppressive humidity of a summer in Turkey. 

The hotel where I stayed had many conference rooms, along with an outdoor dance floor. For the first two days, they collected dust.

That all changed on the third night, when eight to fifteen limousines pulled up at around 4 p.m. My father asked the bellhop what was going on. “A wedding,” he responded.

We later discovered that Turkish weddings range from 200 to 400 guests. That’s normal.

I’ve never been to a wedding of that size. However, I do understand the desire for such an expensive affair: the initiation of permanence.

Stephen Marche, blogging for Esquire, criticizes the American “wedding industrial complex” in one of his latest posts. According to Marche, we spend an average of $15,000 to $30,000 on our ceremonies.

“That shit,” as Marche exclaims, “is completely out of control.”

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