Culture

Sad End For Young Porn Actress

By on 5.23.14 | 2:22PM

Gawker, the internet's premiere moral vacuum, brings us the tragic story of Alyssa Funke. Ms. Funke, a 19 year old college freshman, took her own life last month after appearing in a pornographic video. Prior to her suicide, Funke had been subjected to rude messages on social media from old high school classmates branding her a prostitute. Her grieving parents blame the unwanted notoriety for her untimely death. From the Gawker piece:

Funke's parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment she faced online played a major role in her decision to kill herself. On a fundraiser page they started to fight cyberbullying, they wrote, "Alyssa like so many other teens was a victim of bully and sadly the bullying lead to her death. Social media has revolutionized the way people bully eachother now days. Now you can say whatever you want and not have to look the person in the face while doing it."

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The Beer Spectator: IPAs vs. Lagers

By on 5.23.14 | 2:18PM

Most American craft breweries make an India Pale Ale. They’re difficult to master, but they allow brewers to distinguish themselves through personalization.  

With the explosive growth of IPAs since the 1990s, it’s easy to forget that craft beer only comprises approximately 8 percent of total beer volume in the U.S. Thus, many who do not follow the craft beer market closely do not realize its accelerating growth.

Those who don’t drink beer, or don’t care to explore any brews outside of the lager category, dismiss or ignore these releases as disgusting or elitist. Indeed, even feminist blog Jezebel, which prides itself on rejecting stereotypes, bills IPA drinkers as bros “rich enough to afford fancy beer.”

These views are errant, as even now the IPA category is expanding back to its birthplace.

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Urbane Dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s Way With Words

By on 5.23.14 | 10:44AM

Merriam-Webster has just announced the words—150 of them—that will be added to the newest edition of their abridged Collegiate Dictionary. Editor Peter Sokolowski says that “many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods.” I guess this is all part of the way we live now: “hashtag,” “selfie,” and “tweep” are now officially endorsed. Merriam-Webster is always stunt-casting trendy words and phrases, probably in a desperate search for relevance. “Pulchritude” isn’t sexy enough to keep those Collegiates flying off the shelf, after all.

Not all of the newbies are tech-related, though, and some of the new culinary nouns—pepita (“the edible seed of a pumpkin or squash often dried or toasted”)—strike me as useful. Others are bizarre (“turducken”: “a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey”) or disgusting (“poutine”: “a dish of French Fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds”).

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Opie and Anthony Rip Apart Liberal Censorship

By on 5.22.14 | 11:28AM

Via Rare, and we should mention comedian Jim Norton too, because he has some of the best lines. For work, this is very unsafe:

NORTON: Liberals have become exactly what you hated. You have become exactly the opposite of the conservative religious book-burners of the 40s and the 50s and the 60s. You are it! It has turned completely around. You are the speech repressors. You are the hypersensitive ones. You are the ones who want people fired immediately. You are the ones who call for people’s jobs. You have become what you hated.

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Are We Alone in the Universe?

By on 5.21.14 | 6:01PM

The recent findings of NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope have revealed that there may be 400 billion stars in our single galaxy, and at least 70 percent of them have planets. One in every five stars may have planets that have the capacity to be “Goldilocks planets” of a suitable temperature and distance away from their suns to foster microbial life. And there are 150 billion other galaxies to search. 

A variation of Murphy’s law—“whatever can happen will happen”—suggests that we are not alone. It would be a statistical oddity, one could say a “space oddity.”

“Finding life would be the most important discovery in human history,” said Congressman Lamar Smith in today’s hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

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Game of Thrones: Arya the Nihilist

By on 5.19.14 | 5:39PM

[Here, there be spoilers]

Arya’s direct family is dead or disappeared. She is paired—half by necessity, half by fate—to an unlikely teacher with a knack for killing who is driven by short-term goals and long-term aimlessness. Wait! This seems familiar. Whether consciously or not, R.R. Martin has paralleled the protagonist duo of the movie Leon the Professional—Leon the mercenary and Mathilda, his bite-sized, orphaned trainee played by a young Natalie Portman.

Arya and the Hound, as well as their more modern equivalents, are dangerously alike when it comes to temperament, intelligence, stubbornness, and worldview. They have suffered, they have been wronged, and they no longer believe that the world, or people, or even life are innately good.

“Why go on?” Arya asks a man who is bleeding out from a belly wound. The Hound put him out of his misery, prompting Arya to channel Nietzsche: “Nothing isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing.” 

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A Never-Ending Culture of Offense

By on 5.19.14 | 3:09PM

We live in a culture of offense. In both public and private, people are always on the watch for some statement or group—somewhere—whose ideas might possibly run counter to their own.

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Young People Have Better Views On Racism

By on 5.17.14 | 1:58PM

Jamelle Bouie, a writer at Slate, wrote a piece yesterday which shows that young people have more sensible views on race and racism than their forebearers. Bouie's work also gave me hope that millenials--those born from the about the mid-1980s to the early 2000s--will be the generation that finally casts aside pernicious identity politics and focuses on solving social problems in this country. The end of racial hucksterism and grievance peddling would be glorious indeed. But Bouie writes for Slate, an outfit which regularly peddles racial grievances. So to him, such dramatic improvements are actually a bad thing.

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Game of Thrones: Arbitrary Justice

By on 5.16.14 | 5:41PM

In the feudal system prevalent in Game of Thrones, there are the commoners and noble houses. Ruling lords are surrounded by counselors and can create decrees. The entire realm is subordinate to the Iron Throne. The throne is the symbol of the rule of man—a seat that is above the law by the divine right of kings. We saw Joffrey exercise this right by ordering Ned Stark killed without reason.

In a system where “rule of man” trumps “rule of law,” justice is arbitrary.

We see this today in the United States with the overextended executive branch siphoning power away from the legislative branch. Executive orders bypass the established political process in the name of advancing one man’s idea of the common good. How is that different from the decision that Joffrey made to behead Ned Stark?

In democracies and republics today, rule of law constrains the behavior of lawmakers and citizens alike. Everyone is held equal under the law. The resulting justice is objective and impartial. “Where there is no law, there is no freedom,” said John Locke.

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The Beer Spectator: Starbucks Rises on a Wave of Craft Beer

By on 5.16.14 | 3:24PM

Starbucks is expanding its “Evening Stores” across the United States, aiming to open fourteen more by the end of 2014. This would bring the total number up to forty.

The Fortune 500 company is floating to the top on a wave of craft beer.  

The evening concept seeks to reshape Starbucks’ reputation as only a place to buy a morning coffee. To distinguish itself from fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, the coffee giant will be offering beer, wine, and new menu items from mid-afternoon into the night at select locations.

Rumors swirl that Starbucks will offer local craft brews, as opposed to mass-produced beers from companies like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev. 

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