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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    Although it was almost overshadowed by the hullabaloo of some president swearing an oath, Monday, Jan. 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day. Reportedly created in 2001 by conservationist Christy Hargrove, the day is meant to honor those acorn-burying, occasionally-flying, big-toothed little buggers.

    With that in mind, we consulted with Reddit's resident sportsmen-and-women community, r/Hunting, to learn how to spot, track, kill, skin, and eat those fuzzy-tailed rodents.

    (Warning: If you don't want to know how the sausage is made, so to speak, you might want to skimp on the following Storify. It is about how to kill and eat squirrels, after all.)

    Photo by BinaryApe/Flickr

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    When I found Chelsea Hoffman on Twitter, she was in the middle of a fight. In no uncertain terms, Chelsea was tearing some poor girl apart, telling her to “check out the tapeworm diet” and making other very mean, albeit creative, jabs at her appearance. I never quite got to the bottom of what that squabble was about, but that’s not the important part. What surprised me was that when I, from behind the Crime Library Twitter account, asked her what her deal was, several people immediately replied, linking me to other evidence of Chelsea’s mean streak. Chelsea herself explained that she gets angry sometimes and quickly deleted those tweets.

    If you like to read about crime, and presumably you do, you’ve probably read some of Chelsea Hoffman’s work. She’s incredibly prolific on GatherExaminerHuffPo Blog and her own blog, Chelsea Hoffman: Case to Case. She follows nearly every missing persons case that hits the headlines, and a hefty portion of the murders. On her website, she calls herself a “crime analyst & profiler,” but doesn’t deny that this title is entirely self-styled–Chelsea is currently working on a criminology degree. Her work as an armchair criminologist–and her no-holds-barred mouthiness–has garnered Chelsea an impressive hate brigade which includes the Westboro Baptist Church, whose very own Margie Phelps wrote a diatribe on Gather titled “Why is Chelsea Hoffman so Angry?” There’s also a blog called Down With Chelsea Hoffman, which painstakingly keeps track of every offensive thing she’s ever said. A look through the blog painted a portrait of a woman so defensive, so scrappy, that when I asked her to talk, part of me expected to be flipped the bird.

    On the phone, Chelsea was very pleasant. She’s passionate about her work and was eager to discuss it. First, I wanted to address the constant flame war she seems to be embroiled in, and Chelsea didn’t object. “I’m a work in progress,” she said, “But I still stand by some of the mean things I’ve said.”

    Many of those mean things were said to the family of Dana Marie Woods, an 18-year-old South Carolina woman, who along with her friend June Guerry, was found dead of a gunshot wound this summer. The Down With Chelsea blog was created by a woman who says she’s connected to the case. Dana’s family asked Chelsea to take down her posts about Dana’s murder, which include a fair bit of speculation, and Chelsea refused. The family got angry, and venomous words were exchanged on Facebook. At one point, Chelsea lashed out and said something that’s sure to follow her around the internet forever: “So I heard your daughter liked taking loads to the face.” That one, Chelsea wants to clarify, was not addressed at Dana, even if that’s what the blog would have you believe. Though she appears insensitive, Chelsea isn’t oblivious to grief: “I don’t think her family hates me as much as they hate that Dana and June are gone” she said, “they want to blame someone and hate someone, because whether anyone wants to admit it — hate can feel therapeutic.”

    Because she’s self-taught, Chelsea learns as she goes along and isn’t afraid to own up to mistakes. When, much to the delight of the anti-Chelsea camp, she was suspended from Gather for a week for not using “allegedly” when discussing persons charged with crimes, Chelsea didn’t attack Gather. Instead, she calmly promised her readers that she’d improve. And she’s working on taming her fiery personality as well: Chelsea told me, and subsequently announced on Facebook, that she’s “turning over a new leaf” and trying to be more friendly. Being more friendly, however, doesn’t mean being passive. “I’m no pushover,” she said. “I’ll still stand up and defend my position. I just know I have a tendency to say things in the heat of the moment, and I’m working on that.”

    Chelsea is very busy–she’s one of the rare writers who actually make a living on Gather and Examiner–and fielding hate mail can be time consuming. Instead, she’s focusing on following cases and offering her perspective. “Speculation is natural, we all do it,” she said. “It’s important for me to speculate on crimes because it gets new ideas out there about what may have happened. And sometimes, I’m right.” In August, Chelsea correctly predicted that the cause of death in the case of pregnant mom Deanna Ballman would be ruled a drug overdose. Ballman’s body was found in the back seat of her car on the shoulder of an Ohio road. The healthy, wholesome mom didn’t fit the profile of a drug user, and Chelsea mused that someone else had drugged her to make it look like a suicide. In September, local news reported that authorities were investigating a doctor who may be connected to Ballman’s death.

    Chelsea also offers help to families of missing persons or murder victims who seek help outside of law enforcement. On her website, she writes, “If you’re someone who is missing a loved one or your loved one is the victim of an unsolved homicide, I would love to be of assistance to you.” People looking for answers have reached out to Chelsea, who’s always willing to offer her insight. She doesn’t charge for her work: “I don’t believe anyone should be profiting off of victims.” This is one of the reasons, she says, why she’d prefer to remain her own strain of freelance “criminal investigative analyst” instead of joining up with a government agency. One of Chelsea’s specialties is cold cases, many of which have long since slipped out of the public eye: “Families of missing persons have thanked me for bringing attention back to their case.” By asking questions and exploring possibilities, Chelsea’s articles attract dozens of reader comments, nudging forgotten-about mysteries back to the forefront of true crime conversation.

    In her bio, Chelsea mentions her rough and tumble beginnings as one of the things that give her a keen eye when it comes to crime: “She came from hopeless beginnings with a father who couldn’t stay out of prison in small town environments that only bred that bad-girl personality. Her brief life of crime exposed her to a frightening variety of individuals in the dark underbelly of society, from thieves and drug addicts to sex offenders and murderers.” As for where she’s going next, Chelsea says she plans to rack up a few degrees–”I think I’m going to be in school for the rest of my life”–and keep on writing, analyzing and helping the families of victims, hopefully with fewer altercations.

    By Nastacia Leshchinskaya // Photo via Crime Library

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    An owner of a Beijing restaurant that specializes in serving dog meat has been banned from the country's largest social network after he trolled animal rights activists with gruesome images of his pup-slaughtering process.

    The restaurant owner, posting under the Sina Weibo handle "Aiteguan," claimed his restaurant had slaughtered 2,000 dogs this winter alone, and that the nutritious meat came from specialized dog farms.

    His photographs initiated an online war over the weekend. After the microblog company blocked Aiteguan's account—and with, it the images—on Saturday, he responded by creating sockpuppet accounts and enlisting other dog-meat lovers into an ongoing harassment campaign against animal rights activists who had deigned to criticize him in the comments. Where are animal rights super trolls PETA when you really need them?

    Dog meat is legal in China, and is a popular delicacy in many regions. But as the country has grown wealthier, middle class dog owners have become as ubiquitous as they are in the West. And with that has come a changing cultural attitude towards putting man's best friend on the dinner menu.

    "Pictures depicting such cruelty should be banned from cyberspace, and the killing of dogs for their meat is immoral," one TV host reportedly said, after complaining to Weibo management about the account. Posting graphic images is against Sina Weibo's terms of service.

    According to the Global Times, some Weibo users aren't exactly certain Aiteguan is even a real person, much less a dog-meat restaurant owner. They think the whole schtick is a hoax designed to rile up dog lovers. Even so, that would hardly change the debate: He may have created a false Weibo account, but the images he posted were all too real.

    And while you won't be able to find them on Sina Weibo, the morbidly curious can run a search through Flickr, where tourists in Vietnam and Southern China make a habit of posting graphic images of dog carcasses for sale. Get ready to feel your heart break.

    Photo by roughgroove/Flickr

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    A police inspector was removed from his post in Brazil after he sent belittling tweets about female officers.

    Rio de Janeiro police Inspector Pedro Paulo Pontes Pinho wrote that he has “14 women under my command and only one has the talent, courage and determination needed for police work,” according to the Associated Press.

    The somewhat sexist remarks led to the demise of Pinho’s career. The head of the city’s civil police said Pinho was removed from his post at the Ninth Police Station due to his comments, and noted that he was “unable to manage the human resources available to him.”

    In a move that was surely one Pinho appreciated, the police department replaced him with a female officer. No word yet if she was the sole officer he deemed worthy of upholding the law.

    Photo by over_kind_man/Flickr

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    Seven years ago today, a self-indulgent shooting guard named Kobe Bean Bryant hiked up his shorts and laced up his Nikes and walked out onto the Los Angeles Lakers' Staples Center hard court and proceeded to score 81 points in a 48-minute basketball game.

    It was a remarkable achievement—the second most points anyone has ever scored in a single NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 in 1962—and a crowning achievement for a slightly egotistical star who's seen his fair share of crowning achievements.

    Fast forward to today, and Kobe's Lakers aren't doing so hot. In the news all offseason for picking up such marquee players as Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the star-studded team has crawled out of the season's gate and now lays claim to a 17-24 record.

    A last-minute playoff berth hangs in the balance, the Lakers have more than a ways to go before they're considered a "winning team," and Kobe is starting to get pissed off. Last night, he tweeted what can only be considered the ultimate emo subtweet towards his teammates and coaches and medical training staff: a photograph that finds him hatted, scarved, and noodling around Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on a piano.

    Desperate for a fix and in need of some positive vibes, the great Kobe announced through Nike Basketball's Twitter account that he'd celebrate the 7-year anniversary of his 81-point performance by watching said 81-point performance on the television and live-tweeting his reaction to the whole melee.

    The festivities started at 4pm ET and continued on until Kobe watched the final whistle blow—2 hours and 22 minutes, 81 points, 6 rebounds, and, not surprisingly, only 2 assists later.

    Photo via Kobe Bryant/Facebook

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    It's been established that much like cigarettes, coffee, drugs, alcohol, and anything fun, Facebook can be addictive. Now there's a new site that could help with your social network dependence.

    FAddict is the brainchild of Dynamatik, the development team of Faisal Abid and Charlie Mclean that helps early-stage startups get to market faster.

    The premise of the site is simple: Give them $5 and deactivate your Facebook account. For the next 30 days, FAddict will randomly check to ensure that your account is not activating by using your profile's URL. If during those 30 days, they catch you stalking your ex-girlfriend or whatever it is that you do on Facebook, you forfeit your money, which will be donated to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    If losing $5 isn't enough of a motivating factor to get you to temporarily quit Facebook, then perhaps a little public shaming might do the trick. FAddict publishes the names of those currently taking the challenge on its front page, as well as those who've successfully gone 30 days without logging on to Facebook, and those that didn't make it.

    The idea for FAddict stemmed from a late-night conversation between Abid and Mclean at the Dynamatik offices.

    "We wanted to see if we could actually build something usable in 3 hours flat," Abid told the Daily Dot via email. "You can go from an idea to a real website in less time than it takes you to drive to work."

    The duo initially considered setting the financial cost at $20, something that, according to Abid, "would really let them feel the burn if they lost." Instead, they chose to go with the cheaper price point.

    "It seemed like a great way to quickly generate some money for charity," he explains.

    As of right now, no one has completed or failed the 30-day challenge.

    Photo via Nate Bold/Flickr

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    In the past week, two Facebook pages belonging to the genre “Give me a million likes and I’ll [fill in the blank]” made headlines after actually collecting 1 million likes on Facebook: a page called Twogirlsandapuppy, made by children whose father promised to get them a pet; and a photo of Petter Kverneng, who found a girl willing to sleep with him if he collected enough likes.

    We're not sure if the founder of the Facebook page “1 million likes and I will run down the street naked” was inspired by such a news story, but as of press time, his page, founded on Jan. 22, has already collected more than 700 likes in just a few hours.

    If it’s going to be newsworthy anytime such a page collects a million likes, then the next such page to make headlines might be “1 million likes and my dad quits drugs. Please help,” which has almost a quarter-million likes so far. The dozens of new posts appearing every day say nothing about drug use or of family dysfunction, just typical celebrity gossip, memes, GIFs, and spam. 

    Similar, though less-successful (as determined by numbers of likes) variants of that page include “1 million likes and my mom quits drugs. Please help,” “1 million likes to stop my dad in drugs. Please help” and “1 million likes and my dad quits drugs.”

    The page “1 million likes and my girlfriend wont get an abortion” was started 19 months ago, on June 26, 2011. No word on whether the girlfriend had the baby, got an abortion, or actually exists.

    Another page, “1 million likes and my wife will give birth to a goat” was started in July 2011 as a joking response to an apparently “serious” page “1 million likes and my wife has agreed to call our baby Megatron” (not to be confused with the page “1 million likes and my wife will call our son Megatron”).

    Other names parents threaten to inflict on their kids in exchange for 1 million Facebook likes include Dumbledore, Voldemort, Optimus Prime, Spongebob, Pikachu, Obi Wan, Jesus Christ, and Mario Frimpong.

    Naturally, these joking (we hope) pages dedicated to ridiculous baby names inspired spoofs like “One million likes and my decepticon has agreed to call our baby Paul” and “1 million Megatrons and my wife has agreed to call our baby Likes.”

    In addition to people promising to inflict ridiculous names on children, there’s also people promising to inflict ridiculous things on themselves, including “1 million likes and I’ll tattoo a dick on my forehead.”

    But 1 million ilkes isn’t enough for everybody, as evidenced by such pages as “2 million likes and I’ll get a tattoo of Eminem on my back when I’m 18” and “5 million likes and I’ll get a sex change. Yes, I will upload pics.”

    But if you’re fed up with the attention-grabbing implied by all these “Give me a million likes and I’ll do stuff” pages, perhaps Facebook communities like “If I get to 1 million likes, nothing will happen” or “1 million likes and I will do nothing” will prove more to your taste.

    Photo via: owenwbrown/Flickr

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    There are two secrets to Tumblr's runaway success: design and community engagement.

    In 2012, the microblogging network became one of the top 10 most visited sites in the world, with an audience of roughly 170 million people per month—a dedicated userbase that includes everyone from President Obama and Beyonce to fandom communities and GIF artists. While Tumblr Storyboard—the company’s in-house editorial operation—helps spotlight and foster users’ creative contributions, the site’s simplistic interface drives the sharing of content, according to Lee Rubenstein, Tumblr's seventh user and cofounder of art forum EatSleepDraw.

    "It is still very easy to use compared to Facebook," he said.

    Yet, amid never-ending reports on potential buyers, long-term profitability, and advertising revenue, Tumblr's future appears to be planned out in dollars and cents instead of notes—the internal mechanism that tracks how many likes, reblogs, and comments a post has received—a sentiment furthered by founder David Karp recent Forbes profile.

    “There’s more to do, there’s always so much engineering to do to serve more and more traffic, particularly when we don’t want to disturb the same traffic," the 26-year-old high school dropout told the publication that named him one of its 30 Under 30. "The biggest thing by far is the infrastructure. … [I]t demands an extraordinary team of real focus to make sure that we are constantly engineering Tumblr for the future."

    But what exactly does that future look like, and more importantly, what should it look like according to the site’s most influential users?

    At the center of concern is the Radar feature, a tool used to highlight and introduce original and interesting content to all users.

    While originally a source of pride and credibility for Tumblr users eager to have their content shared, the feature became a potential revenue source in May, after Karp announced plans to sell Radar spots to advertisers for $25,000 a pop.

    "On one hand you need the funds to keep a site operational, but on the other hand, the Radar used to be a badge of honor," noted Mr. GIF, a New York-based GIF duo. "Getting on that radar is a huge moral boost for any creator. Some people think its unfair that brands can buy their way onto your dashboard."

    Based on sponsored Radar ads and its Spotlight feature, where people pay to have their accounts promoted across specific tags, Tumblr has set a $100 million revenue goal for 2013, a year Gawker founder Nick Denton predicted will be “brutal” for the company.

    And with such a lofty goal, more interface changes are likely to come—and community outcry, as with every major social network, won't be far behind. 

    "The most vulnerable thing in the Tumblr experience is its Dashboard—the main point of consumption, and it's the thing I think many of us are worried about," said marketer and Tumblr watchdog Andrea Lopez, who goes by bluechoochoo on the site.

    Whatever changes occurs, they will be incremental, stressed Tumblr designer Peter Vidani, who helped architect the Pinned Posts feature, among other notable features.

    "The obvious reason this is good is so that you're not scaring everybody," Vidani said. "By doing this we can learn a lot from each change we make and that will inevitably affect the other changes we thought we wanted to make."

    Even still, as profit increasingly factors into the decision-making process, Tumblr has a tightrope to walk with its userbase—the content creators and agenda drivers who helped establish the company and drive its success.

    Some influential users, like Rubenstein and comedic powerhouseBenjamin Grelle, better known as the Frogman, believe a profit-sharing model akin to YouTube would be a more community-friendly way of doing business.

    "I think it is crucial that Tumblr take care of their content creators," Grelle said. "They should work to make this the best possible place for people to post things they make. If Tumblr could shift the perception from a place where people mostly repost things, to a place where things originate, I think they would leave their competitors in the dust."

    Illustration by Jason Reed

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    Is there anybody going to listen to my story  
    all about the girl who came to stay
    the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry
    still you don't regret a single day

    This Beatles song, "Girl," has more than one meaning when it's used in iigethi's viral YouTube video. The video features roughly a thousand photos taken over a three-year period documenting her male-to-female transition.

    In the video details, iigethi explains that she has had "FFS", or Facial Feminization Surgery, to help achieve her remarkable journey from inhabiting a man's body to inhabiting a woman's. Overwhelmingly, the comments on the video are supportive, with many people pointing out that iigethi seems to look happier as time progresses, and thanking her for sharing the video.

    But iigethi is not alone. Throughout YouTube and Tumblr, transgender men and women are sharing their transitions, as well as their knowledge, hopes, and fears about their experiences. On YouTube, videos showing the visual transitions of FTM and MTF vloggers abound, while on Tumblr communities like fuckyeahmtfs and fuckyeahftms offer "safe space" for Tumblr users to celebrate their progress.

    One YouTuber who joined the community of transgender YouTube vloggers is ElectricDade. Dade's visual documentation of his transition over a year has over 100,000 YouTube views. In addition, he has a series of videos vlogging the way transitioning is affecting his life, including his relationship with his wife Tiffany, who began to make her own videos to talk about Dade's change.

    Dade tells the Dot that the presence of transitional videos on YouTube was instrumental in his own decision to transition:

    It is very difficult to find information on transition. Even with the help of the Internet, the resources just aren't there. This poses some difficulties to individuals who want to medically transition... there is obviously a lot of fear involved with the process. How will hormone therapy affect me? Will I have greater medical risks? Will I actually pass as the opposite sex or will I look in between? What will happen to my body? What surgeries will I need, if any? The questions go on and on.... but answers are hard to find.

    The single greatest resource I found when I was considering transition was YouTube. The videos of transmen documenting their transition took the fear of the unknown away. Suddenly I knew exactly what would happen - because I saw it, over and over, channel after channel. Being able to watch the transition happen, and hear first hand the mental, emotional and physical changes was incredibly valuable.

    One person who has documented her experiences online, both on YouTube and Tumblr, is Ava Zara, whose latest video is a response to a question asking, "What has been the hardest part of your transition?"

    In her video, Zara describes the process of coming out as transgender. "I was fairly confident I would have [my family's] support, but that didn't make it any less terrifying," she says. "Finding that support is crucial."

    But things haven't always been smooth. On October, Zara posted to her Tumblr, "A wrong pronoun from a family member, no matter how hard I try not to let it affect me, is like a stab in the heart... do they take me seriously? Do they understand I am not just pretending? or playing a part?"

    Her post prompted responses from transgender Tumblrites with similar concerns. "I know how that feels," replied Tumblr user briencee. "I’m nearly three years into my own transition, and my father still hasn’t figured out that I’m not fucking around with this."

    It's clear that many YouTube members and Tumblr users have formed their own support systems in response to what may be a lack of it in their real lives. "On top of my nerves being eased about transition, I also received the benefits of connecting with the YouTube trans community," Dade tells the Dot. "This was amazing for me. Before YouTube I had never even met another transman."

    He's certainly not alone on the Internet, where FTM transitions like Dade's seem to be more prominent and frequently shared than MTF transitions. On Tumblr, the balance is heavily in favor of the former, while on Instagram, the "FTM" tag returns about 20,000 uses while the "MTF" tag returns only about 6,000. Likewise, on YouTube, female-to-male transitions are more prominent, with about 30,000 searchable videos. Perhaps because they're rarer, male-to-female videos tend to get more views overall, with many garnering high view counts.

    Dade tells the Dot that his decision to broadcast his transition was a form of passing on the support he received from the YouTube community, and making it easier for other members of the community to find answers the way he did:

    I was so thankful for the support I received through YouTube that when I began my transition - I documented it as well. My wife and I both post videos, each giving our perspective on a life in transition. We try to be as sincere and real as possible, because those are the types of videos that help people. Our goal is to support and help transfolk and their partners.

    Zara notes in one video that she "freaked out" due to the high hit counts a now-deleted video of her transition received. But, for the most part, the YouTube community seems to provide an unexpectedly supportive environment for the transgender community.

    As Dade points out, "There is nothing like the support from someone who knows exactly what you're going through and the journey you've made to get there."

    Photo via YouTube

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    It's become predictable: If you witness a tragedy and tweet about it, a reporter will contact you. And then the rest of Twitter will respond to the eager journalist with some variety of "you are a bottom-feeding piece of shit."

    The latest instance of bandwagon reporter-hate happened yesterday, after a gunman opened fire at Lone Star College in Texas, injuring three. Just a month after the horrific mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 28 dead (including 20 children), it's no surprise the Sauron's eye of national media immediately swung its focus to the Houston-area college.

    One Twitter user who witnessed the event, whose first name is Amanda, cowered in a classroom as the gunshots rang out through her building. After getting out—and home—safely, she tweeted about what she'd seen.

    Almost immediately, CNN national news editor Justin Lear reached out to her, asking if she happened to snap any pics. Amanda's response became a kind of viral hit.

    The rest of Twitter didn't much appreciate Lear's request, either.

    The outrage is reminiscent of what happened to Nadine Shubailat, an ABC News reporter who reached out to a family friend of one of the Sandy Hook shooting victims the day of the massacre.

    The flood of hate on Twitter was so overwhelming that Shubailat deleted her account. 

    Reporters have been doing this forever of course, though usually with a knock on a door or a phone call. In those days, the understandable "screw off"s from angry, emotional victims stayed more or less private. The reporter walked away, and the event was forgotten. 

    Some of the people deriding CNN's tactics on Twitter probably also tune into cable news when tragedies like this happen, eagerly lapping up each drip new information that "bottom-feeding" reporters produce.

    Sure, reporters do go too far, hounding family members and victims to get a juicy quote. But there's nothing inherently wrong with reaching out to eyewitnesses after a tragedy. It's sometimes the only tool journalists have to fill out a timeline of events and to understand what really happened. When it's done right, it serves a valuable public service. Some witnesses actually want their story told. 

    Writing on the pushback against Shubailat, Poynter's Jeff Sonderman noted that Twitter doesn't just make reporting public, it strips any sense of emotion or sympathy from a reporter's inquiries. Delicacy is tough in 140 characters or less:

    While social networks have made it easier for journalists to find and contact potential sources, it’s also made the hardest part of the job even harder. Those delicate interactions, what used to be just two humans figuring out what feels right, often occur over the cold distance of electronic communication and in full view of the public.

    It's even harder when the public's faith in journalists is at an all time low

    Photo by andorand/Flickr

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    When Chinese workers decided to protest for unpaid wages, they didn't use a blowhorn or handmade signs.

    They just danced Gangnam Style.

    This is exactly what 40 workers did outside a nightclub they had just completed, The Guardian reported. The workers are owed 233,000 yuan ($37,471) combined.

    "There have been many creative protests over the last few years," Geoff Crothall of the Hong-Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, told the Guardian. "Younger workers in particular are very media-savvy and clued-in."

    Psy's “Gangnam Style” has become the “Macarena” of the 21st Century, a song parodied by thousands and lip-synched by millions. The song’s YouTube video is the most watched in history, with more than 1 billion views. And as a result, it has helped Google net $8 million in advertising sales.

    The protest by the workers follows after a similar one by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei aimed at China's strict censorship laws. The literal translation of Ai’s video, which he posted on Oct. 24, is “grass mud horse style.”

    The construction company responsible for paying the workers said it will do so once issues with the developer are resolved.

    "The oldest dancer in the group is 61, surnamed Zeng. Zeng said the construction company owed him 20,000 yuan ($3,216) that his family urgently needs," China Daily reported. "Another man, surnamed Luo, said the company had yet to pay him 9,000 yuan ($1,447). Without the money, he cannot go home for Spring Festival, and his three children may have to drop out of high school."

    Screengrabs via @MissXQ

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    Jack Daniel's, you taste so good. Why must you tweet so bad? The whiskey's social media presence is so boring and obtuse, it's almost criminal.

    It's probably good for Jack's sake that the tweets aren't coming from @JackDaniels, an account actually owned by a another guy who largely tweets in French—the horribleness would likely have far more attention if Jack Daniel's had a handle on its handle. 

    Instead, the tweets crop up on @JackHoney, designed to promote the new, nectar-tinged line of bourbon.

    Jack Daniel's Honey blasts out a tweet a day to its roughly 6,000 followers. The account is verified, but you might need to confirm your age before following the account (although after seeing these tweets, we can't imagine why you'd want to).

    Here's a look at some of the dullest tweets this side of Tennessee.

    1) It's so lacking in imagination it can't even finish its own tweets.

    2) And again with the Crap Libs.

    3) Surely the real question is "how the hell do we monetize this thing? Terrible puns?"

    4) Agree on what? The existence of two nouns?

    5) Solid life advice, but why would it make me want to buy bourbon? (At least the reply is kinda funny.)

    6) This seems like a really wise idea.

    7) Poor grammar aside, maybe this would have gotten more attention if it included "retweet-er."

    8) A timely election reminder from the stalwart of civic duty that is @JackHoney:

    9) If you don't need to drive, you can drink more. There's an incentive for Jack to get these cars developed.

    10) A noble message, but the bee puns just make Jack seem like it's flying ... er ... trying too hard.

    11) Why do you need to know this, @JackHoney? 

    12) Larry Grayson you are not, Jack.

    13) LOL?

    14) The exclamation point denotes excitement. This is not exciting.

    15) Putting words together does not a sentence make.

    Ol' Jack would be ashamed.

    Photo by allaboutgeorge/Flickr

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    One man's parody of every negative, obsessive joke you've ever heard about Trekkies went right over everyone's heads this week, with hilarious results all the way down.

    "Nothing weird is going to happen," promises the last line of this hilarious Craiglist ad in an Edmonton personals section.

    It's the punchline of a well-crafted joke that gets funnier with each line as it skewers geeks by glancing off age-old stereotypes about their obsession with nerd trivia, their creepy, fantasy-laden behavior, and their arrested adulthood development.

    The ad calls for “2 or 3 women for Star Trek roleplaying” and specifies at length that it wants comers to supply Next Generation costumes only. The author wants nothing to do with that male chauvinist Captain Kirk.

    "I built a bridge in my mom's garage and a small shuttlecraft," it reads. "Maybe my mom will make lunch."

    The author caps it all off with a hilariously alarming line, which, after a suitable amount of time, he struck through, as though the author has realized it might not be the wisest thing to advertise: "T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶i̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶p̶a̶i̶d̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶d̶o̶c̶t̶o̶r̶'̶s̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶c̶r̶i̶p̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶p̶a̶d̶ ̶(̶a̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶)̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶I̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶w̶r̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶c̶r̶i̶p̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶b̶a̶s̶i̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶.̶"

    The ad is just realistically socially awkward and amusingly worrying enough that everyone bought it.  It went viral, and according to the author, brought a flurry of media inquiries and even talk show invites.

    The problem—or perhaps the relief, in this instance—is that the author was trolling. The writer created a Tumblr at letsmakeitso with the aim of clarifying the joke.

    "It might be difficult to believe now but I had no intention of disparaging an entire legion of devoted Star Trek fans," he writes. "I mean, these are my people."

    "Ultimately," says the author, "I feel guilty for relying on some tropes and stereotypes which are getting played out in our culture." He goes on to apologize to the many people who responded to the ad sincerely, offering to roleplay with the fictional author. "I wish I had a shuttlecraft and a bridge to show them," he opines. "Hell, I might even have donned a costume myself."

    Thwarted Edmonton residents who are still hungering for a good fantasy may be in luck: One recent personals ad on the relatively low-traffic local Craiglist community is searching for a bona fide Nemesis.

    Alas, there are no details on whether the part of Nemesis comes with a homemade lunch.

    Photo via Craigslist

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    Jim Irsay is a man of his word.

    The Indianapolis Colts owner told his Twitter followers that he'd pay out $8,500 to the first person to correctly predict the score—with a one-point cushion—of the AFC Championship clash between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. The winner was @mikesong, who predicted a 27-14 Ravens win.

    The actual score was 28-13, but that was good enough for Irsay.

    As Deadspin reported, @mikesong bragged about the win on a message board for the band Phish. He sent his mailing address to Irsay via direct message and shared a photo of his haul—all $100 bills—along with a note from Irsay, in which we find out that @mikesong’s real name is Jason:

    Amid a discussion on the Phish board about Jason's tax obligations, he wrote on Twitter that he was "in shock" when he opened the package, adding that he'd no idea the prize would be in cash.

    Irsay also offered $500 to the person who first picked the Ravens/Patriots winner, with Ashley Curry taking the prize. No word as yet as to whether she's received her prize in quarters.

    Photo via @JimIrsay/Twitter

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    One of the most difficult decisions in talking about the history of any aspect of computing, or even of technology as a whole, is to decide when it started. When, for instance, did social networking begin? With Facebook in 2004? MySpace in 2003? With CompuServe in 1969?

    How about Pompeii, 79? (No, not 1979—just 79.)

    I know. Hacky. But there is some truth to the notion that the walls of the houses and apartment insulae in the Italian city of Pompeii (and the other cities lying at the hinge between the Roman Republic and the Empire) created the original form of social networking—right down to the practice of bandwidth throttling.

    Writing on walls with charcoal and inscribing with stones and knives was a common aspect of Roman life. A recent study, authored by researcher Eeva-Maria Viitanen, an archaeologist at the University of Helsinki, concentrated on political messages.

    It was through political messaging that the revolutionary, information-wants-to-be-free promise of Roman disruptive technology (known as “graffiti”) hit the wall. Rimshot.

    Much of the political advertisement of the time was commissioned by the candidates themselves and their supporters. They often hired professional painters to create the spots and competed against others for prime space. That space tended to be the sides of upper-income houses, not bars and shops.

    "The current view is that any candidate could have chosen any location and have their ad painted on the wall. After looking at the contexts, this would not seem very likely," Viitanen told the publication LiveScience. "The facades of the private houses and even the streetwalks in front of them were controlled and maintained by the owner of the house, and in that respect, the idea that the wall space could be appropriated by anyone who wanted to do it seems unlikely."

    So candidates, it is thought, had to bid against one another to secure the space. Candidates were a dime a dozen, while it turned out houses in the right places were not.

    There were three times as many shops and taverns than wealthy houses. Most buildings in Roman cities had retail space on the first floor. In addition to being numerous, those retail spaces had high traffic. But the customers were unlikely to be literate, while those with an interest in the houses of the wealthy—residents, friends, peers—were likely to read and therefore be of higher status and greater influence in the community.  

    Therefore, where the messages were left was not a case of opportunism, but of audience—a peer to peer network of potential office holders speaking to their social peers, those with the most influence over voters of the lesser classes.

    It is in this “peer-to-peer” communication where the “social networking” aspect of the communication lies, according to Viitanen. A case could be made, however, that the social networking aspect lay more strongly in the asynchronous messaging the wall network offered and the existence of a “permalink” for each conversation.

    Photo by Virtusincertus/Flickr

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    Sarah Stierch. Photo via fabola/Flickr

    When Wikipedia launched in 2001, it was a first-of-its-kind experiment in collaboration. Rather than relying on a narrow group of experts as authors and editors, Wikipedia would be the first encyclopedia edited by anyone interested in participating. In doing so, the hope was to form the widest possible compendium of knowledge written from a range of worldviews.

    Twelve years later, one critical worldview is still missing from the site. Despite accounting for half the world's population, women comprise just 9 percent of all Wikipedia editors. 

    This troubling gender gap has garnered a lot of attention from researchers, who say it's the byproduct of established gender biases in society, the male-oriented aesthetics of technology, and Wikipedia's sometimes-abrasive culture. These factors have all coalesced to reinstitute a familiar pattern.

    "The average Wikipedia editor is a well-educated white male. Well-educated white males have been writing history and the story of the world since ancient times," says Sarah Stierch, a long-time Wikipedia editor and research fellow with the Wikimedia Foundation.

    Stierch has been at the forefront of the Wikimedia foundation's efforts to broaden participation among women. But the first step in solving the problem is understanding it. Much of Stierch's research has focused on identifying what kind of women already use Wikipedia and why more aren't already editing.

    Though she tries not to generalize, Stierch told the Daily Dot much of Wikipedia's gender gap relates to its origins in older, male-dominated tech communities.

    "If people assume I'm male, I don't tell them otherwise"

    "It's aesthetically very masculine in its design," Stierch told us. "Its community, like so much of the early Internet, has been male dominated, and I think when a lot of people—men or women—look at Wikipedia these days, they see it as a source for information but have little interest or excitement in contributing to it."

    As a counterpoint, Stierch offered up the fact that women tend to dominate other online communities, making up the majority of social media users. She said it's a matter of choice about how to spend one's time online, at that fewer women are drawn to the cold, technical, and argumentative environment of Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia tends to attract a certain personality type, male or female. Stierch noted that the average Wikipedia editor is scholarly and detail-oriented, and the fact that fewer women are involved with the site may be a reflection of the traditional gender gap in higher education. 

    That trend, too, is changing. Many of the more prominent female editors on the site tend to be professors, students, or retired educators.

    But it's not just a lack of interest. Once on the site, women can face a set of challenges that are unique to Wikipedia's laissez-faire culture.

    In a recent study titled "Free Culture and the Gender Gap," Joseph Reagle, an assistant professor at Northeastern University, argues that women's decisions not to participate in Wikipedia may be less of a choice than it initially seems. 

    "The ideas of freedom and openness can be used to dismiss concerns and rationalize the gender gap as a matter of preference and choice," Reagle told the Daily Dot. "That is, 'if there are no women in our project, it must simply be their choice.' Women may have made a choice, but it was not based on whether they find the project interesting or have a contribution to make, but by the 'brogrammer' locker-room type of environment."

    This "brogramming" culture frequently informs the interactions female editors have while working on the site. According to the Women and Wikimedia Survey of 2011, a third of all female respondents have in some way been "assaulted, attacked, or treated poorly by colleagues on projects." As a result, some female users intentionally disguise their gender on the site.

    "I do not reveal much personal information on Wikipedia, so it's an non-issue," wrote one survey respondent. "If people assume I'm a male, I don't tell them otherwise; if people assume I'm female, I don't affirm that. … I like being judged on my work alone."'

    "Being 'out' has been more empowering than ever trying to hide"

    Stierch admitted that the practice of remaining gender-anonymous on Wikipedia is fairly common, though she insists it's a minority of female users. She argues that the best tactic for creating a more inclusive Wikipedia community is for more women to "come out" as women on the site. 

    Although she never tried to hide her gender, Stierch, who used to edit under a pseudonymous username, now uses her real name. She said being forthright about her identity online has raised the level of respect she receives.

    “For me, being 'out' has been more empowering than ever trying to hide anything," Stierch told us.

    Aware of the problem, the Wikimedia Foundation has been working actively to recruit and retain more female editors. The Wikipedia Teahouse project, designed as a more user-friendly gateway and mentoring space for new editors in general, boasts a nearly 30 percent female participation rate, much higher than the 9 percent general female population of Wikipedia at large. The Teahouse was designed as a way to help stave the larger drop-off of Wikipedia editors in recent years.

    Katie Filbert and Sarah Stierch, speaking about WikiProject GLAM at the
    Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Image via mp_eds/Flickr.

    "Reducing the gender gap on Wikipedia has been one of the priorities for the Wikimedia Foundation for the past couple of years, since we participated in a study that showed that about one in 10 Wikipedia editors are female," said Matthew Roth, a spokesperson with the Wikimedia Foundation.

    And solving the gap is important not just for women, but for the site as a whole. Reagle is the first to admit that a lack of diversity hurts Wikipedia. Not only does a male-dominated culture lead to more biased articles, but also, research has shown that collective intelligence of a group goes up with increased social sensitivity, conversational turn-taking, and female participation.

    "I think most everyone agrees that Wikipedia is best when people with diverse interests and skills collaborate together in good faith," he said. 

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    Thanks to Twitter and some fine basketball skills, Wednesday was likely the best day of 13-year-old Owen Groesser's life.

    It all started during the final basketball game of the season, when the junior high student with Down syndrome was substituted into the game for the first time.

    "Groesser received a pass beyond the arc and sank a 3-pointer, sparking a wild celebration in the stands," ESPN reported. "Groesser also made another 3-pointer, finishing with six points in approximately two minutes of playing time."

    The crowd went wild, and so did the Twitterverse. The Twitter hashtag #GetOwenOnSportsCenter became a nationwide trending topic with more than 27,000 mentions. The following image was also included in many of the tweets calling for Groesser to be featured on ESPN's flagship program.

    The Twitter hashtag was a success "as Groesser's exploits were featured on ‘SportsCenter's’ Top-10 highlights Wednesday night," ESPN reported.

    The moment was one Groesser and his family would never forget.

    "It was like a movie,” Groesser's father Chris told the Detroit Free Press. “Like the junior-high Rudy.”

    Photo via @Simmmmssss/Twitter

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    He's like the world's most boring superhero, existing solely to tell anyone who will listen that he exists.

    He's Twitter's Real Man (@Real_Man_REAL), and he does one thing, and one thing only: He finds people who use the phrase "for real, man" on Twitter, pretends those statements are addressed to him, and responds with a grateful tautology.

    Real Man's avatar is a uncanny-valley-violating image of a bald, hairless, naked, computer-generated caucasian male, and is described described simply as "Real Man living Real Life. Hey. Not a bot. Real Man. Hey."

    He's the brainchild of Weird Twitter star @cool_pond, whose avatar is a neon image of a body of water wearing hip sunglasses. @cool_pond made waves in October by starting the popular #ThanksDonald hashtag to convince the world that Donald Trump had promised money to victims of Hurricane Sandy, rather than offering it to President Obama as incentive to release his college transcripts.

    So far, most of Real Man's correspondents don't seem to be in on the joke, and a few have deleted their original tweets after he replied. This hasn't slowed down Real Man, who has maintained the gag, keeping it real, for real, man.

    Photo via @Real_Man_REAL/Twitter

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    Move over, Reddit circles. Make room for the jerks who love triangles.

    For eons, fans of the three-sided shape have had nowhere to profess their love. In February 2010, that all changed when r/trianglejerk, "a place for serious discussions about the triangle," emerged on Reddit.

    From pictures of the Louvre pyramid to praise for the Google Drive logo to even pointing out the shape of Reddit's upvote buttons, over 1,600 "trianglejerkers" share their love of the popular polygon on a daily basis.

    via domepiper/imgur

    "I played the triangle in my college's percussion ensemble," moderator doubleD revealed to the Daily Dot. "I believe it was that moment that shaped my life so far (into a triangular shape)."

    While all triangles are equally welcome for representation in the subreddit, doubleD is quick to point out two triangles that stand out from the rest.

    "The most triangle triangle is, of course, the equilateral triangle," he claimed. "However, the isosceles triangle does separate us as the most pointy of the /r/jerks."

    via Tumblr

    According to doubleD, the subreddit was created to fill a (presumably three-sided) void in the Reddit community.

    "The inspiration for r/trianglejerk stemmed from a need to be more straight-edge than our r/circlejerk companions," doubleD explained.

    But r/trianglejerk differs greatly from its curvier counterpart. The r/circlejerk subreddit serves as a collection of Reddit parodies. It also alludes to a group of men in a third-base free-for-all. But r/trianglejerk simply praises anything and everything related to triangles—and occasionally spars with r/circlejerk.

    Subscriber listerinebreath, for example, noted the pointlessness of circles in a May 2012 post. Another user, HydroCabron, bravely posted the assertion that r/circlejerk subscribers were merely a "bunch of squares" in March 2011. There was even an August 2011 campaign to take over the circular subreddit.

    Despite the humorous poking, r/trianglejerk's front page points to r/circlejerk as one of the many shape-centric subreddits to visit.

    "Other notable jerks include r/parallelogramjerk, r/squarejerk, r/orderedpairjerk, and (my favorite) r/pointjerk," doubleD listed.

    If you feel that hexagons, octagons, and even pentagons have too many different sides to choose from, perhaps you should tri (sorry, I had to) subscribing to this subreddit.

    Photo via Sarah Witherby/Flickr

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  • 01/24/13--14:28: There's already porn on Vine
  • Well, that didn’t take long. Just a few hours after Vine, Twitter's fledgling video app, hit the App Store, people are already using it to post porn.

    A user by the name of Ass1892 has so far shared five six-second clips of people having sex under the #ass hashtag.

    There's nothing in Vine's Terms of Service that outlaws sexually explicit content in a vine (the app’s term for its six-second videos), or any other type of content, for that matter. It states:

    You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any Content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof. The Content you submit, post, or display will be able to be viewed by other users of the Services and through third party services and websites. You should only provide Content that you are comfortable sharing with others under these Terms.

    Also, under the section titled "Content on the Services:"

    All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content. We may, but are not required to monitor or control the Content posted via the Services and we cannot take responsibility for such Content. Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk. [. . .] You understand that by using the Services, you may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive.

    However, Vine does provide a button under each video which allows you to "Report as inappropriate," just in case you see something that's a little too explicit.

    So yeah, you can probably expect much, much more where this came (ahem) from in the very near future. There's perhaps already more out there, but it’s a bit tricky to find, because Vine's search function is currently limited to hashtags and people, rather than plaintext captions.

    There's a public timeline for all vines as well, so you might be in for a nasty surprise as more explicit material shows up.

    Photo by Pink Dispatcher/Flickr

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