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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    Axe—yes, as in the deodorant manufacturer—wants to send someone into space. In a contest presented by Buzz Aldrin, people are invited to register at the Axe Apollo Space Academy (AASA) for a chance to be upvoted into the stratosphere.

    Considering Axe’s famously bro-centric marketing strategy, it’s not surprising that their advertising focuses heavily on the search for “a few brave men.” “Leave a man, come back a hero,” says Buzz Aldrin at the end of their Super Bowl ad, but as it turns out, men aren’t the only ones interested in winning a free trip into space.

    Tumblr user Molly Pfaff entered the contest on Feb. 5, posting to her blog: “How awesome would it be if a woman (a fangirl, no less) actually won this thing? Sherlockians, Whovians, Potterheads, Trekkies: I want to be your impossible astronaut!”

    Two days later, the post has garnered over 14,000 notes, and Pfaff has reached third place on the AASA leaderboard, with 12,000 votes to the 24,000 and 19,000 held by the two men currently in first and second place. With her vote count climbing by the minute, it’s clear that the combination of fannish community spirit and an easy one-click voting system has proven irresistible to Tumblr fandom.

    Comments from voters are split between sci-fi fans who approve of Molly Pfaff’s Doctor Who references, and people expressing frustration at Axe’s sexism. “For the first functionally clad woman in an AXE ad!!” reads one voter’s Tumblr reblog.


    Photo via lynxapollo.com

    It seems that someone at Axe has already noticed the sudden appearance of a woman on their leaderboard, because the message on the front page has been altered slightly to read that they are now searching for “a few brave civilians," although the “Leave a man...” slogan is still in place. The portal to the U.K. site for Lynx bodyspray (the British brand name for Axe) remains the same, however. And while Pfaff and one other woman have now reached the top ten, it seems that the bulk of the site was only written with male contestants in mind:

    Screengrab via axeapollo.com

    While thousands of Tumblr users flock to subvert the contest’s expectations, Axe is probably the biggest winner here. Molly Pfaff seems well on her way to becoming one of the 22 lucky astronauts, but she’s still sent at least 12,000 people to Axe’s new advertising site—although we can only guess at how many of her supporters will be in the market for men’s body spray that leaves you “smelling like a hero."

    Photos via axeapollo.com


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    On Feb. 1, Jonathan Mann took to YouTube to sing the virtues of his apartment.

    The bespectacled Brooklynite was looking for a roommate for his south Williamsburg apartment, a two-bedroom walkup on a quiet, tree-shaded street that carried all sorts of amenities, like an Xbox and a toaster.

    "Come live with me," he sang. "I need a roommate. Come live with me, this place is awesome." The song was silly. It was lively. It sounded like it'd been scripted in a single day.

    But the song was also catchy enough that it made Mann sound like the kind of guy you'd actually like to live with.

    Jonathan Mann has posted a new song to YouTube every single day for the past 1,498 days. That means conception, creation, production, and actualization, on weekends and holidays, through proverbial hell and high water. He's done it when he's felt great. He's done it when he's felt terrible. He's done it when he hasn't had enough time in the day to do it. Barring Armageddon, Mann will write a song every day, and there's nothing that's out there to stop him.

    Mann's Song a Day project began in 2009 as an extension of the Fun a Day art project, an initiative that runs throughout the first month of every year. The goal was to craft 31 different songs in 31 different days and to come out of the month with a final, finished product.

    Of course, shutting down hasn't been so easy.

    "I didn't really start with any goal in mind," Mann told the Daily Dot. "It was only over the course of doing it that the goals and the upsides of working this way started to make themselves clear.

    "One of the biggest benefits is just practice. If you want to get better at something, the more you do it, the better you get. There's that basic rule—the 10,000 hour rule—that exists in this project. Also, there's the 70-20-10 rule, which implies that 70 percent of what you make will be mediocre, 10 percent will be excellent, and 20 percent is going to suck. The more you make, the more good stuff you write by virtue of pure statistics. I've noticed, just based on the collections that I put together, that it usually tends to work out that way."

    That practice has helped lead to freelance work and inspire new ideas for new albums. Mann's received invitations to write songs about business conferences and received attention from such publications as CNNMother Jones, and New York magazine. Just the other day, he was photographed hobnobbing with CNN's Anderson Cooper—and looking pretty svelte while doing it. Simply put, the man has used his songwriting to enter himself into the national discussion. It's no wonder he calls the gig his business card.

    "I just think it's work,” he said. "You work so hard at your craft, and it's to get those moments when you're ready to capture whatever it is that makes you good.

    "If you read about the genesis of many, many big songs—people's biggest songs, like "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty—the genesis of those songs is very often that they started off as a joke. You hear that over and over again: hit songs being created that way. One thing that Song a Day has been really good for is allowing me to be in a space where I feel like it's OK for me to make a joke. As opposed to sitting down and trying to write something amazing, I can sit down and write about whatever it is I want to write about."

    And so we arrive at a set of songs that carry titles like "Tony Danza Puking Up Unicorns" and "Trying to Take a Nap." We get "Tommy Lee Jones is not Amused" and "I Was Made to Carry Heavy Things," "It's Time to Make a List," and "Grab Your Yoda." And sometimes, when we're all lucky, we get a song like "We Put Ourselves Together," a song about community and teamwork and making the whole far more effective than the sum of its parts.

    Then there's the other side of the coin, the side that creeps in to Mann's personal life. The Vermont native has spent the past few months archiving his songs and sorting them by theme and quality—and he swears it doesn't happen often, by intention—but there have been those times within the past 1,498 days that he's consciously decided to write directly about the things that are going on in his own life.

    Like that time that Mann was in the news because he'd written a song called "We've Got to Break Up" about breaking up with his girlfriend of five years, Ivory King—a collaborative effort he made in tandem with King. That song covered their futures and their pasts—and the fact that King didn't want to have ever kids. More than 1.2 million people have watched that song since he released it Dec. 6., some of whom have lambasted the singer for bringing attention to a situation that didn't need it.

    "Physically, she's been in about 50 songs," Mann said when we spoke shortly after "We've Got to Break Up" broke, "but beyond that, [Song a Day] was our life together. It was us living together, and the vast majority of it is in that context.

    "If I'm sad about something or something in my life isn't going very well, I'll write abstractly about it. But I won't ever write about how I didn't get a job or whatever. I keep that stuff to myself. There were two sides to it. I wanted to let all my friends know about it, but I also wanted to let my fans know about it. They know Ivory and know what's going on. ...

    “Oversharing is not a good thing. We all have those people on our Facebook page who overshare and talk about everything that's going on in their lives. I'm very conscious of not being like that, but I did want to let everybody know that this is happening. Because it is a big thing in my life and it is something that is affecting me. I didn't want people to not know."

    The two broke up in August but lived together for three months, thanks to constrictions brought on by New York's astonishing real estate costs. Mann said that he could see people notice that he'd started writing songs that were "a lot darker" during the time in between the breakup and the announcement.

    "They've commented and asked if I'm OK and tried to see what's going on," he said. "It's unusual for me, because I'm not really a dark person. They saw it in that way, and I have a feeling now that I'm single and my life is more in flux that they might get more involved in my personal life somehow, because my personal life is going to be more in the forefront for me."

    Which brings us back to Mann's apartment and that cultishly popular quest for a roommate, which more than 30,000 people watched.

    Mann's now focused on moving forward—and he's bringing his Song a Day project with him. In a few weeks, he'll launch a website redesign that streamlines the branding he's got going on throughout Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Mann's also hired an intern—a senior at his Vermont-based alma mater Bennington College—who has an interest in video production and has helped turn a few songs each week into music videos.

    "It's been fun to see how into it he is and how strong he will be," Mann said of his intern. "I don't have anything to teach him, technically, about videos, but what I think I do have to teach him is this process of making something every day, which I sort of take for granted now. When I bring someone into it, I see them start to grapple with the constraints."

    Until one day, someday down the road, when they realize once and for all that practice can make perfect.

    Photo via Jonathan Mann/Facebook


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    Is Anonymous about to get a new face?

    Christopher Jordan Dorner, the former LAPD officer now on the run after allegedly shooting three people, is an unlikely inspiration. But then so was Guy Fawkes, Catholic revolutionary and would-be mass-murderer. What they have in common is a frustration unto fury with the Powers That Be, a desperation, and a belief that, as Dorner put it in his manifesto, "The only thing that changes policy and garners attention is death."

    So far, all he has is our attention.

    Dorner's manifesto claims that he was railroaded out of the force after reporting that a fellow officer kicked a mentally ill man in the face, and documents his numerous grievances with the LAPD, beginning with racism and name-calling and ending with the fact that they have, in him, produced the perfect weapon of their own destruction and rendered it inevitable. He gives the impression of a man of firm principles pushed to extremes, rogue cop, an archetypal American character usually played by Bruce Willis, up against the Alan Rickmans of the world. In the lengthy document he gives shout-outs to the Clintons, George H.W. Bush, Michelle Obama (he approves of the bangs), Charlie Sheen, The Chive, and … Anonymous.

    "#Dorner is the #99%," tweeted OccupyTheMob.

    YourAnonNews, the pre-eminent Anonymous news account, tweeted, "The FBI will try to use #Anonymous images on Dorner's FB and words in his manifeto [sic] to discredit us. We didn't create him. The LAPD did."

    The LAPD has also shot two innocent people, including one woman in her seventies, in the hunt for Dorner.

    Despite his apparent murders of three people, Dorner was adopted by many Anons as an avatar of the man of conscience pushed to the point of desperate action. As is typical in a hive as diverse and populous as Anonymous, there have been a spectrum of reactions, with the more prominent accounts carefully making the distinction between supporting Dorner's stated principles and outright murder.

    As part of the actions against the police YAN announced an email bomb of the LAPD (which is simply a lot of emails, nothing explosive), although the list of email addresses targeted appears to have been simply scraped from all public emails on the LAPD site and includes such ephemera as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Missing Children's email, and the email address of the public relations representative for the L.A. Dodgers.

    YAN also tweeted the traditional "TANGO DOWN," claiming that Anonymous had taken the LAPD website offline, although I was unable to confirm any downtime and the site works fine at the time of posting. It generally takes longer than a few hours to organize an effective DDoS unless you have a botnet handy. As well, the account is tweeting updates on the pursuit of Dorner. Altogether, these are not actions which could in any way slow down the police pursuit or investigation, but once again, they are excellent optics for Anonymous.

    Anonymous has an ongoing #FTP operation, a carry-over from FuckFBIFridays, and the current actions fit neatly under that umbrella and have been tweeted with that hashtag, as well as #OpLastResort. This was the action, formerly OpAngel, inspired by the suicide of Aaron Swartz, and is aimed at reforming the justice system. The OpAngel twitter account has enthusiastically taken up the cause, tweeting, "When people of conscience speak out, this happens: [link] Now you understand why we must exist & do what we do. #opLastResort

    Dorner's manifesto's subject line was: "Last Resort."

    "The LAPD is doing illegal things to catch an ex-cop doing illegal things who was kicked off the force for exposing cops doing illegal things," said YAN, speaking the exact, literal truth.

    Photo via LAPD


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    The woman who famously told news reporters “I got bronchitis. Ain’t nobody got time for that" has made time for her fourth TV commercial appearance.

    Sweet Brown is one of the Internet's most beloved memes thanks to an interview she gave on April 11, 2012, following a fire in her Oklahoma apartment complex.  While waiting outside, a local TV crew showed up on site to speak with residents.

    "Well I woke up to get me a cold pop and then I thought, somebody was barbecuing. I said 'Oh Lord Jesus it's a fire,'" Brown told the reporters. "Then I ran out, I didn't grab no shoes or nothing, Jesus. I ran for my life. Then the smoke got me. I got bronchitis. Ain't nobody got time for that."

    Clips of Brown's interview circulated around the web and turned the mother of five into an overnight Internet celebrity. The following YouTube clip, for example, has collected more than 17 million views.

    And like other Internet stars like Blake "Scumbag Steve" Boston, Brown has tried to turn her fame into dollars.

    She's appeared in commercials for CJ Bail Bonds, Zert.com Canada, and 1.800.2.sell.homes, said Sparkell Adams, Brown's representative. This fall, Brown will appear in Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas and will be a co-host on Cheaters, a hidden camera reality TV series. But until then, Brown has become the face of Shortline, a Tulsa, Okla., dental clinic.

    Make some time and check out her new commercial.

    Screengrab via YouTube


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    Winter Storm Nemo is barreling down on the Northeast, ready to bury Boston and New York in feet of snow. While most people are preparing for the horrors of a three day weekend by tweeting about it ad nauseam, others have a better idea.

    They're getting laid.

    Search through the personals section on Craigslist and you'll find that Nemo is clearly the most powerful aphrodisiac to ever sweep down off the churning brine of the North Atlantic

    So without further ado, here are a bunch of people in New York and Boston who could really use your help this weekend. 

    This should probably go without saying when it comes to Craigslist personals, but some of these posts include NSFW images.

    1) He has his own place

    2) He'll even let you see his baby pictures

     

    3) Compelling sales pitch

     

    4) Reply "slave"

    5) Snow boobs

    6) Sub-zero watersports

    7) Couch

    8) Likes butts

    9) Butt

    Photo by Shanon Wise/Flickr


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    England’s far-right extremist group, the English Defence League, has a new enemy: Disco.

    The English Defence League, which has regularly made headlines in the U.K. for its Islamophobic protests and allegedly racist sentiments, is often subject to criticism from human rights organisations and anti-racism campaigns. Its newest opponents, however, have gone for a rather different technique than organising a counter-protest or writing to their local member of parliament.

    In a move inspired by Dan Savage’s Spreading Santorum campaign, the English Disco Lovers have set up a site designed to “Googlebomb” the term “EDL,” taking the top result for the acronym away from the racist group. Written in the style of a genuine political manifesto, their “Disco Statement” begins with their motto: “Unus mundus, unus gens, unus disco (One world, one race, one disco).”

    In a statement to the Daily Dot, the English Disco Lovers said:

    “We all come from activist backgrounds and have been around and involved in protests/campaigns from a young age. We joked about reclaiming the "EDL" acronym and putting it to better use... The campaign has been incredibly successful and has made it clear that humour is one of the greatest weapons against hate.”

    Beginning as a one-off joke in September 2013, the English Disco Lovers’ Facebook page has now overtaken the English Defence League’s own page in Facebook Likes, inspiring image memes like this to go viral among their 23,000 followers:


    Image via Facebook

    While the Disco Lovers are now a good 8,000 likes ahead on Facebook, their Twitter presence is lagging behind the Defence League’s rather militant official account. The Disco Lovers have, however, inspired their own offshoot group already: The Bass National Party. Using the acronym BNP to match up with the right-wing British National Party, the Bass National Party seem more serious about their musical taste than the Disco Lovers, but are equally enthusiastic about parodying the U.K.’s growing far-right political movement.

    As for the Googlebomb plan, the Disco Lovers are slowly creeping up towards first place in the search results for “EDL”, with the second hit now being a Guardian article highlighting the anti-racist history of disco:

    Photo via Single Track World


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    Here in New York, my window is developing a coat of ice so grimy I can't even see the sleet outside.

    People are already trawling Craigslist for winter storm sex and ruining their fancy clothes in blizzard photo shoots. I don't know which is worse: all these terrible Nemo puns or the entire city of Austin, Texas, reminding me and the rest of Twitter how warm and sunny it is over there.

    At least we've got full movies on YouTube.

    Photos via Mootown/Flickr, Tumblr. Thanks to Fidel and Jordan. I don't really think you're jerks.


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    Is it a blerg? Is it a pain? No, it's Florida Man, here to regale you with all his tales of the utterly terrible.

    New Twitter feed @_FloridaMan, as noted by Slate, tweets out horrific stories that contain the phrase "Florida Man" in the headline. It's a simple but effective idea, and there’s far more material than you’d expect.

    Once you delve into the stories linked below, things get downright ugly. However, it's a lot funnier if you imagine it’s the same guy doing all of the following things on his way to winning every Darwin Award ever.

    The last one doesn't fit quite as well as the others, and we wish the Twitter feed were around when a Florida man ate another guy's face. Still, worst superhero ever.

    Photo via DonkeyHotey/Flickr


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    Matt Moore is once again in the limelight, though this time around it's of his own accord.

    Moore, an "ex-gay" blogger who's written for the Christian Post, had his profile for Grindr— a mobile app popular with the gay community used for quick hookups — outed earlier this week by LGBT rights blogger Zinnia Jones. Jones says she came across Moore's account after one of her readers tipped her about it. That same day, Moore confirmed that the profile belonged to him.

    On Wednesday, the seemingly disgraced Moore took to his own personal blog to give a more detailed account of what happened.

    "I started fooling around on this app again a couple weekends ago," he admitted. "I’ve been in a pretty bad place spiritually for the past few months (really, the last year), and finally something broke in me."

    "For a period of about 24 hours, I 'tried' to just be gay again…. kind of as an escape. I know this sounds crazy, and it is crazy; but it’s really how my mind was working and processing."

    Despite what he considers to be a lapse in his faith, Moore asserts that he did nothing more than just talk to a few people.

    "I didn’t go out to the gay bars and I didn’t meet up with any guys for coffee or anything like that (much less sex), but in my heart and mind I had strayed far from God."

    In addition to his confessional, Moore used the post as a platform to clarify some misconceptions people and the media might have about him.

    "Firstly, never have I ever even remotely insinuated that I am now 'heterosexual' or 'cured' from same sex desires. I’ve actually clearly communicated exactly the opposite. I have constantly been transparent about my present sinful desires… including the desire for homosexual interaction/behavior/attention."

    He also made it clear that he was not walking away from his religiosity.

    "Despite my recent hypocritical behavior and disobedience to Christ, I stand firmly in saying that the Word of God, in totality, is true in every matter it addresses: including the sin of homosexual behavior."

    In an interview with the Christian Post, the beleaguered "ex-gay" blogger also claims that he's taking precautionary measures that he hopes will prevent him from doing this again.

    "I have sold my computer and have had someone put a lock on my phone where I cannot download apps or access the Internet through a non-filtered browser," he said.

    But even he admits that this might not solve everything.

    "Ultimately, this isn't the solution. My heart being captured by the grace of God and brought into humble obedience is the solution. But not taking precautions is dumb, so these are the precautions I have taken."

    Photo via Zinnia Jones


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  • 02/11/13--07:00: A beginner's guide to bandom
  • Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, and the other members of the band Fall Out Boy may have returned from their hiatus this week in order to Save Rock and Roll (or so their newly announced album attests), but they're still listed on charts worldwide as “pop” music.

    Their fans, however, know their niche and stick to it. Say what you will about bandom, but whatever you do, don't call it popslash!

    Bandom, you say? Isn't that just a fandom for bands? Not exactly. Depending on who you ask, bandom either means just "band fandom," or it refers very specifically to the online fandom for a particular group of bands who toured together frequently in the mid-2000s and whose members past and present formed interconnections. At the center of this circle are three bands: My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy. Also included in the community are a number of outlying bands like Cobra Starship, the Like, and All American Rejects.

    You might have heard explosions from members of bandom all over your Tumblr dashboard this week—first a bona fide fan scandal coming out of My Chemical Romance fandom, and then the news that Fall Out Boy is putting out a new album after nearly five years on hiatus.  

    Bandom is a specific community among many in the vibrant subculture of fanfic-based fandom known as RPF, or Real Person Fiction. But it gets hard to categorize fandoms about real people. Unlike fictional characters, they often overlap. This complexity has previously made it difficult to figure out just which bands are part of the narrower use of "bandom."

    Attempts to define where the community begins and ends usually focus on the indie labels who originally connected the bands, particularly Fall Out Boy's original label, Fueled by Ramen (FBR), and the label they're currently on, Wentz's Decaydance. Decaydance started as an FBR imprint before expanding into Wentz's own label, so several FBR bands also fall under the Decaydance umbrella—including Panic!, the Cab, and All Time Low. But not all "bandom" bands fall under the label umbrella—My Chemical Romance was never signed to either Decaydence or FBR.

    So what is the real connecting thread that joins these bands? Probably Pete Wentz himself. In fact, the fandom is often nicknamed "Six Degrees of Pete Wentz."

    But real people, of course, form new friendships all the time, and Pete Wentz really gets around.

    Photo by soldi/Deviantart

    The difficulty of pinning down which bands and personalities count as part of FBR "bandom" is probably why people who just like bands a lot take issue with the word being used so narrowly. Although members of the FBR-based fanbase have fought to own the term “bandom” locally, other band fandoms have resented the idea that the label doesn't apply to them.

    What makes things even trickier is that names for band fandom have been around as long as music fandoms have existed. At any given time, someone might consider themselves a member of bandom, popslash, and/or bandslash fandoms. Depending on who you're talking to, all of these things might be interchangeable examples of Music RPF—but most likely, they're considered separate and distinct fandoms with their own histories, cultures, and languages.

    So what do you need to know to have a coherent conversation with your band-loving friends? Here are the basics.

    Bandom (a.k.a. bandslash)

    To be safe, only use these terms when you're talking about the online fandom for Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance. If you want to really speak the language, refer to the "FBR bands"—the group of bands organized loosely around the Fueled by Ramen record label, which is still associated with Fall Out Boy although they are no longer on the label.

    Illustration by ivybeth/DeviantArt


    Popslash

    This can technically be used to describe anything from Beatles fandom to One Direction, but most often, "popslash" refers to the slash (fanfiction about male-male encounters) fandom around N*SYNC and the Backstreet Boys, and the various members therein.

    Britpop

    This is another complex term for a number of overlapping bands, most notably a group of indie British bands in the late '90s—particularly Blur, Suede, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, and Oasis. Their successors, like Franz Ferdinand and the Killers, sometimes get labeled "Britpop," along with other current British pop bands, but when in doubt, stick to Blur.

    Illustration by nadiezda/Deviantart

    Fandom armies

    Okay, so they're not armies, exactly (and Rihanna fans are “Navygirls”), but nothing says fandom like a massive amount of people who identify as "little monsters," "Directioners," "Beliebers," and more. Technically these labels are different from the others on this list because they explicitly describe the fans themselves, not the bands or pop artists they like—but knowing the most common labels for the most common pop fanbases is a good way to quickly identify what your friends are talking about.

    Geographic divisions

    Often fans are drawn to the culture around music as much as to the music itself. It's convenient to group different "flavors" of music by their countries of origin. In fact, if anything, these labels can be somewhat restrictive. For example, Japan alone claims the broader genres of J-pop, J-rock, Visual Kei, and J-rap among its endless distinct genres and subgenres of music—there's even "oyaji rock," or "old geezer rock" for the fandom for J-rock bands of yore. Nonetheless, here's the alphabetical breakdown of some of the most commonly used abbreviations for regional band cultures:

    C-pop:"Chinese pop." This moniker refers to old and new breakthroughs in Chinese pop music, with subgenres including "Mandopop" (Mandarin pop) and Tai (Taiwanese) pop. Popular examples include the renowned girl group S.H.E and one half of the wildly popular transnational group Exo.

    Europop:"European pop." If you've ever watched Eurovision, you've already got the basics.

    J-pop:"Japanese pop." As Japan expanded its exporting of Japanese pop culture throughout the '90s and 2000s, fans around the world discovered Japanese rock bands like the Pillows and the emerging massive studio culture that churned out pop groups like Morning Musume and Tackey and Tsubasa. In addition, artists like Utada Hikaru and Ayumi Hamasaki, as well as pop-rock bands like Asian Kung Fu Generation, Porno Graffiti, and Malice Mizer became familiar to Western audiences through having their music used for anime theme songs. Each of these artists became commonly roped into the collective label of "J-pop." By the time Korean pop culture began to overshadow Japan's in the late 2000s, millions of fans around the world were already listening to Japanese artists on a routine basis.

    K-pop:"Korean pop." Having recently captured the attention of the world with "Gangnam Style," the Korean wave, or "Hallyu," has been on the rise since the mid-2000s with the explosion of popular bands like Super Junior, DBSK, and Girls' Generation.

    T-pop:"Thai pop," not to be confused with Tai-pop, or Taiwanese pop. Phleng Thai sakol, or international Thai music, originally described the blending of classical Western music with traditional Thai music, evolving over the years into an amalgam of musical influences. Today Thai pop is an emerging cultural movement with many popular bands coming from Thai labels like Kamikaze.

    Though members of fandom are very specific about their terminology, pop music is constantly expanding and crossing borders in genres as well as cultures. With it, the idea of bandom continues to evolve and expand as well.

    Though for lovers of Fall Out Boy, "bandom" will probably always refer to the community of fans who are joyously celebrating the band’s return this month.

    Photo by artiste-inconnue/DeviantArt


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    Kobe Bryant might've called a ref a "f****t" in 2011, but this weekend he was found slapping down someone who made a homophobic comment.

    After @Pookeo9 suggested he and Bryant "make out in bed," another tweeter, @pacsmoove, had some harsh words.

    Bryant didn't take too kindly to that slur, and promptly fired back.

    In 2011, the NBA fined Bryant $100,000 for a homophobic slur directed at a ref. Another Twitter user who jumped into the fray didn't let the star, who joined Twitter last month, off the hook for his past indiscretions.

    @pacsmoove later claimed that his comment was a "joke." After apologizing, he admitted he wasn't too pleased with how Kobe treated him. 

    That is, until @pacsmoove gained followers in the fallout and saw the bright side.

    Back in November, a soccer player was suspended after sending a homophobic tweet regarding Olympic diver Tom Daley. Meanwhile, a project called NoHomophobes looks at how often derogatory terms are used on Twitter. In the space of three months, researchers found the word "f****t" had been tweeted 2.5 million times. 

    Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr

     


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    A Georgia legislator who wants to criminalize the act of manipulating photos to make others appear naked says he doesn't know who Photoshopped his head onto a naked guy's body.

    State Rep. Earnest Smith is a cosponsor of House Bill 39, which would "provide that a person commits defamation when he or she causes an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction." In other words, the definition of defamation would be expanded to include making any not-nude person appear nude in a photo.

    "Nudity," if you're curious, "means a state of undress so as to expose the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or buttocks." The law would go so far as to make it illegal to make someone appear to engage in "masturbation, homosexuality, sexual intercourse, or physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification with a person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is female, breasts."

    On Monday, Smith told Morris News Service that he had learned that someone had used computer software to make it appear as if he were posing nude, but that he "could not venture to give you an answer,” as to who was responsible.

    A Google image search of "'Earnest Smith' and 'naked'" shows a photo of Smith's head, with a naked, blurred out body, as the first result. The site is Georgia Politics Unfiltered, where blogger Andre Walker readily admitted Monday that he "did exactly what Rep. Smith wants to make illegal. I pasted a picture of Smith's head onto the body of a male porn star."

    Walker noted that "just like someone had the protected right to depict former President George W. Bush as a monkey, I have the protected right to Photoshop the head of any elected official onto the body of anything I chose."

    "I cannot believe Representative Earnest Smith thinks I'm insulting him by putting his head on the body of a well-built porn star," he added.

    Smith said that he'd heard no free speech objections to the bill, and that “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. You have a right to speak, but no one has a right to disparage another person. It’s not a First Amendment right."

    Photo of “naked” Smith courtesy of Georgia Unfiltered. Photo of clothed Smith via State Rep. Earnest Smith/Facebook.


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    Regardless of where you stand on alleged murderer and fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner, one thing is certain: The Los Angeles Police Department has done a less than stellar job at capturing the ex-cop wanted for three murders.

    So far, the LAPD's hunt for Dorner has resulted in the shooting of three different individuals, including a mother and daughter duo who were delivering newspapers in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, Calif. Police opened fire on the pair after their vehicle—a royal blue Toyota Tacoma—was mistaken for the one Dorner was suspected of driving—a dark-colored Nissan truck.

    This perceived ineptitude is likely why the following photograph has been so popular on Facebook.

    The image was posted to the social network by Cop Block, an advocacy group that aims to bring accountability to police departments and ensure that they don't abuse their badges.

    In the three hours since the photo was uploaded to Facebook, it has been shared more than 5,500 times.

    The post has also garnered close to 300 comments, most of them condemning the LAPD for its reckless behavior.

    "LAPD 1965-The Watts Riots, LAPD 1992- The Rodney King Riots 2013.....The Chris Dorner Riots???" stated user Bill Doggett.

    "Considering the LAPD can't get any colors/genders/vehicle types right, I think all people in L.A. need this shirt," opined Jennifer Anker.

    With this backlash against the LAPD, perhaps it's no surprise then that Dorner finds himself with multiple fan pages on Facebook.

    Photo via Cop Block/Facebook


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    Whether or not there is an actual war on women may be a hotly debated subject, but on Twitter this week a hashtag gender war has been plain for all to see. But surprisingly, instead of furthering polarization across the political divide, a tag that began as a longshot trolling attempt seems to have generated some unexpected positive results.

    In a 4chan post titled "Let's piss off some feminists," an anonymous user suggested on Thursday that anti-feminists reading the board attempt to create a Twitter trend out of the hashtag #ineedmasculismbecause. "If woman can demand special treatment I say we start making demands too," read the thread. 

    A list of suggestions from the poster ranged from the straightforward ("I should not automatically have to pay for a dinner because of my gender") to the hyperbolic ("I am not a monster for not giving two shits about your 'struggle'"), with other suggestions ranging widely as well. Though the thread seemed originally intended to provoke adversaries at any costs, proponents of "masculism," or "men's rights," took it seriously, and began filling the hashtag on Twitter. 

    The Twitter account @INeedMasculism was suspended, but the original 4chan thread was bumped, receiving far more attention the second time.

    As the trend spread, feminists and others began to participate in it, too, turning the mantra into a sarcastic commentary on the state of contemporary gender equality. One sampling of the tweets from feminists collected on Tumblr has garnered over 20,000 notes in under 2 days:

    On Tumblr, popular artist Gingerhaze commented, "all of these issues that Men’s Rights Activists are bringing up is just the same system that’s been shitty to women, the one where masculinity is idolized, backfiring on them." That post racked up 12,000 notes.

    Though the reclaiming of the tag was roundly declared a victory by feminists, once the hubbub died down the men's rights activists overtook the thread once again, and currently the tag is earnestly pro-masculism. One anonymous men's rights blogger shared a sampling of taglines from the conservative side of the debate:

    The hashtag has prompted ongoing debate on multiple platforms and social networks. On programming forum Team Liquid, a discussion of the hijacked tag prompted a debate about equal wages. Meanwhile, Reddit's infamous subforum Men's Rights, which has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was surprisingly equanimous about the debate: two posts on the subreddit garneredlittle discussion. DenverLocal wrote on one thread about the tag that she appreciated the discussion: 

    "I learned about the masculism movement because of the Twitter controversy and I have to say that I'm pleased to see the quality of discussion on this group. ... I'm a woman who runs an online feminist group that is very focused on intersectionality, civility, and mutual support, and we welcome people of all genders. I've been working to learn more about men's perspectives and experiences of gender issues specifically, and including those issues in my group myself when I feel I can discuss them intelligently." 

    As the hashtag continues to get traction, it seems participants are moving away from trolling and toward more discussion across the divide.

    Photo via 3000--21/Tumblr


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    This week, the Northeast is still digging out from the historic winter storm that covered the region with record amounts of snow. And in Boston, public works officials are trying to dig out from a virtual mess that shut down that city's new online snowplow tracker at the height of the blizzard.

    The SnowOps mapping system was unveiled by Boston last week so that residents could watch the progress of the city's snowplows online, thanks to GPS technology. Using the map, people can see when their street might be plowed. It also helps officials keep track of drivers who aren't doing their job and has reportedly saved thousands in tax dollars. The system is already in place in New York City, and officials in Boston have quietly used it for the last three years. With winter storm Nemo taking dead aim at the city last week, officials thought it would be a great time to launch the website.

    “We want to give residents a look at what’s being done on their behalf, and this technology takes them right into the command centers of our public works yards,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.

    But just hours after the snow started to fly, the mapping site was brought down by a swarm of Web traffic that was interfering with the city's own public works systems. As city spokesperson Emilee Ellison told the Boston Globe, “it got a ton of traffic.”

    Traffic that the website couldn't handle, apparently, and even after the storm clouds cleared, the website is still down. As of Monday night, it read: “We are experiencing significant traffic and the site is currently unavailable. We are working to resolve these issues. Please check back later. Thank you for your patience.” With more snow in the forecast for tomorrow night, that patience might not last.

    Incidentally, this isn't the first plow problem the city of Boston has had this winter. In December, a plow truck was stolen. But since all of them have GPS installed, it'd be an easy fix, right? Wrong. It was one of the city's trucks that hasn't had the new technology installed.

    Photo via Andrew Ciscel/Flickr


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    This winter, a 21-year-old named Julia decided to visit the Swedish Facebook page for international clothing company H&M. Little did she know she was about to enrage thousands and eventually end up in the center of a national debate about the treatment of women online.

    Julie just wanted to complain about a certain design of hoodies she found offensive, namely one featuring Tupac Shakur, the iconic West Coast rapper who was charged with sexual abuse in 1993.

    “Hello HM,” she posted. “Yesterday, I walked into HM and discovered that a shirt you carry, with a convicted rapist printed on it, was marketed as cool. Would you sell a T-shirt with Hagamannen on it equally swiftly?”

    Hagamannen is the nickname of Kurt Niklas Lindgren, a well-known Swedish serial rapist, and the reference didn’t go unnoticed. Despite her message being directed to H&M, it received a massive amount of attention, due to Shakur’s unexpectedly large fanbase in Sweden.

    Within a few days, over 2,000 people had commented on her post, and most of the comments were boiling with hate and anger. There were people threatening her with rape and murder. One comment even listed Julia’s home address, according to the Wall Street Journal. And Facebook declined to take action.

    Screengrab via blogg.amelia.se

    To understand the greater cultural impact of this story, you first need to understand the Swedish word “näthat.”

    “Nät” translates to “web,” and ”hat” actually means ”hate.” In essence, it’s a term for misogyny and sexism that’s used to describe the sort of treatment Julia received. In the United States, it would apply to the backlash Anita Sarkeesian received (twice) when she tried to discuss misogyny in the gaming culture, or the general sexism found at GitHub, the open source code-sharing site.

    Last Thursday, Swedish public service show Uppdrag Granskning looked into näthat. It’s one of our most popular journalistic shows, and there Julia told the country how unnerved the threats made her. On the brink of tears, she explained that her disappointment is mostly directed towards HM, who didn’t care to erase the death and rape threats.

    “It’s messed up,” she said. “I think that’s the worst part. I can manage whatever bullshit people writes, but that a company like that wouldn’t give a damn about you… They’re grownups. You feel disappointed.”

    The show was quite anticipated. The day before its airing, the crew behind it put out a trailer on YouTube in which a couple of famous female journalists and writers read out loud from hate mails they’d received. It amassed some 220,000 views in two days, a formidable number for any Swedish video.

    Thusly, Thursday night at 8pm, Swedes sat down in front of their TVs as the curtain was pulled back to reveal the ugly scrutiny many women routinely face online. And what they saw was memorable: women who couldn’t do their work without receiving hundreds of hate mail, women who couldn’t speak out on Facebook or Twitter unless they were ready to be called sluts and whores. (A copy of the documentary is currently available on YouTube.)

    In one of Uppdrag Granskning’s strangest moments, Myrup Kristensen, Facebook’s chief of policy Nordic, stated that rape threats against women on were a case-to-case thing to evaluate, despite Facebook’s explicit barring of content that is “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”

    When pressed by the Swedish channel 1 reporter about rape threats, Kristensen replied:

    “It’s an awful thing to write, it’s not good behavior, but we look into whether such threats have been said in the heat of the moment or if it’s something the person really means. In that case it gets consequences.”

    Viewers were horrified, and the Twitter hashtag #nätkärlek—which translates to “Web love”—rose to the top of the trending list afterward, almost as an act of resistance.

    There has been some progress in recent weeks for the treatment of women of Sweden online. The Twitter hashtag #aldrigensam, translated to #neveralone, was coined by Kawa Zolfagary and has been mentioned more than 1,000 times in the last 45 days, according to statistics from Topsy.

    And H&M finally removed the offending post last week, and on Uppdrag Granskning, Miriam Tappert, global social media manager at HM, issued a personal apology on behalf of the company.

    But there’s still a considerable ways to go. Vita kränkta män (translated approximately to White Insulted Men), Zolfagary’s satirical Facebok page, which boasts 66,000 fans and has been turned into a book, closed down. In its final status update, the page informed users that admins simply couldn’t manage to keep the comment section clean anymore. The post also asked fans to “show that the Internet is more than a tool of intolerant groups to spread their propaganda, to show that we can use the same methods to create a society where everyone has equal opportunity to influence, change, live, feel good. ...

    “Take care of each other instead. Because we need it."

    Lisa Magnusson, a writer who was among the women reading hate mails in the trailer, echoed that sentiment.

    ”Our police need to realize that the Internet is for real, start training in how technology works, and start investigating reports of threats, slander, and harassment, even if it happens to be committed online,” she said.

    As the incident with Julia illustrated, the people of Sweden certainly can’t wait for Facebook to take action on their behalf.  

    Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III


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    For all the great things that Reddit can do for the world, there's still an excess of people who use the site for disturbing, invasive things, like crowdsourcing porn-star look-alikes of their classmates. 

    That is why the subreddit r/doppelbangher exists, and it is also why one redditor got taken straight to Karma Court for messing with the wrong friend from high school.

    The whole situation went down on Monday, when the aforementioned redditor took to the skeevy community to post four pictures of a girl he knew from high school. 

    The method had worked well in the past. Take a turn into r/doppelbangher and you'll find comparisons of certain girls to porn star Jennifer Whiteothers to retired legend Stephanie Swift, and Girls costar Allison Williams to a nice gal named Caprice. 

    This time, however, the original poster got only a few hours into r/doppelbangher's suggestion pool before a previously unheard-of redditor popped in to say, "She looks pretty identical to this girl! :)"

    Caught red-handed—and with his pants down. 

    "This is pretty f**king amazing," one fellow redditor wrote. "This sucks so much for the both of them, I love it."

    "Sounds like a case for r/KarmaCourt," added another. The redditor deleted his name from the thread shortly thereafter. 

    News of the stakeout made it all the way to the top of greatest hits subreddit r/bestof, which has 2 million subscribers. 

    All of the hullabaloo surrounding the mixup wasn't enough to distract some of the subreddit's most devoted subscribers, however. As one fateful soul chimed in, the discussion had "seen a lot of discussion about this girl replying to this thread, but not a lot of dopplebanger (sp) suggestions. Focus, people!"

    For science.

    H/t BetaBeat. Photo via Imgur


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    Twitter accounts mocking Asian, black, female, and overweight students at Murray State University are now in the community's crosshairs.

    @MurrayAsian, @MSUblackpeople, and @MSUpartygirl are just a few of the accounts sending discriminatory tweets linked to the Kentucky university, according to the Murray State News. @MurrayAsian, known for mocking students' clothes or what students were doing in public spaces, lasted around a year before it was deleted Monday. 

    The account posted tweets such as "Called Ting back home to tell him about America he shit his pants when I told him everything isn't made out of bamboo and paper mâché" and retweeted messages like "Had two @MurrayAsian's sitting behind me in class just chingchonging away."

    The "disgusting"@MSUblackpeople has shared nine racially driven tweets so far, while @MSUpartygirl has picked up more than 300 followers.

    Other accounts causing concern for some include @MSUFatGirl, @WatchMSU (which shares candid photos of students and makes comments on their appearance), and blackout-photo Twitter @MurrayPassouts.

    Roughly 15 international students met with administrators Monday to discuss their concerns. Several demanded an apology from the people sending the offensive tweets.

    The university shared a statement on its Facebook page, where it wrote that it "does not condone any actions that are discriminatory, insensitive or offensive." It added,

    The Twitter handles @murrayasians and @msublackpeople are NOT university accounts and do not represent the values and core mission of the university. The outpouring of concern and frustration by our students, faculty, & staff (regarding these Twitter accounts) is a clear indication that the university community will not tolerate this type of behavior. As a student centered university, we celebrate and support ALL students.

    Curiously, the Murray State News last week included @MurrayAsian in a list of "fun twitter accounts" in a post now removed from the site.

    Photo by WKMS/Flickr


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    Not content with merely Tweeting astronauts in space, William Shatner is also embracing his role as an enthusiastic Redditor.

    Following his AMA last week, his latest contribution to the site is a post requesting that Reddit admins consider adding an option to turn off private messages, as his inbox has quickly become clogged with autograph requests from fans. However, responding to some advice from fellow Redditors, Shatner opened a whole new can of worms: the “should Reddit be moderated?” debate.

    Commenting on some of the behavior he’d witnessed since joining the community, Shatner wrote:

    “I am apalled by some of the immature, horrifically racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnic... etc.. posts that are just ignored here. Why are these accounts still active? While Reddit has done well in getting interest from the mainstream I just wonder if by allowing these children to run rampant and post whatever they feel will cause the most collateral damage if Reddit is biting off it's own nose in taking that step to become a mainstream community.”

    Reddit has often come under fire for its egalitarian attitude to commenting, which has sometimes led to offensive statements being upvoted—a prime example being the former success of notorious Reddit troll violentacrez, whose real-world identity was revealed by Gawker’s Adrian Chen last year. In particular, Reddit has been accused of being a haven for good, old-fashioned sexism, although perhaps a stern talking-to from Captain Kirk may shake things up a little.

    In response to a reply from Redditor themasterof, who claimed that Reddit is “probably the second most liberal and least racist place on the internet after Tumblr," the 81-year-old Star Trek star proved his social networking expertise:

    “Reddit has been the first 'mainstream' site that I have been to that actually appears to allow racists and other hate mongers to group, congregate, incite and spread their hatred.... Also Tumblr has a very comprehensive set of guidelines about hatred and racist posts: http://www.tumblr.com/policy/en/community Also there are rules here which state: 'Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life.' Where is that rule being enforced?”

    Star Trek fans will surely be happy to see that their Captain is still upholding the Starfleet ethos of equality and respect. As for his original post about inbox messages, apparently the Reddit admin staff are considering his request.

    Photo by x-ray delta one/Flickr


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    If you need a holiday-specific excuse to go drinking this evening, you have three options. President Obama is delivering America’s annual State of the Union address tonight. Today is also Abraham LIncoln's birthday, as well as Mardi Gras.

    All you need is alcohol and an Internet connection, and the web’s finest drinking games are available for your intoxicating pleasure.

    State of the Union Drinking Games

    DebateDrinking.com is a nonpartisan website dedicated to providing drinking games for all American political-themed events, whether they be Democratic, Republican or even third-party. Its 2013 State of the Union drinking game works regardless of your political sympathies but can be modified to suit both party loyalists or moderate drinkers, since it offers the option of choosing a party and drinking only when your side wins.

    Drinkinggame.us puts out a State of the Union game for serious drinkers only. Full compliance with the rules requires you to not merely drink copiously, but drink different types of liquor in one night: tequila when Obama says anything in Spanish, PBR beer for mentions of Main Street, red-colored liquors whenever he mentions Communist nations—if you can handle this game, you have a stronger stomach than we do.

    The Daily Caller’s drinking game is a good choice for people trying to reduce their alcohol consumption because, in addition to providing excuses to drink, it also offers multiple opportunities to throw perfectly good booze away, including “Whenever Obama says ‘jobs,’ pour eight percent of your drink down the drain” and “When Obama mentions ‘green energy,’ swirl your drink in a windmill-like fashion and pour it down the drain.”

    The Huffington Post’s drinking game should be popular with anyone willing to bet on a long shot; it gives players the opportunity to polish off a whole bottle at once, provided Obama makes such unlikely admissions as  “I was really, really pretty much counting on that whole Mayan apocalypse panning out."

    ClotureClub.com’s SOTU game is for hardcore political junkies or college PoliSci majors, who drink whenever they recognize the faces of people like Sheila Jackson-Lee and Mitch McConnell.
     
    Mardi Gras Drinking Games

    If you’re at a Mardi Gras celebration, do you need extra reasons to drink? ModernMan.com offers a game for men attending an actual Mardi Gras street party.  But for the most part, anyone who takes Mardi Gras seriously enough to go to New Orleans is a purist, dedicated to drinking without gimmicky games.

    Lincoln's Birthday Drinking Games

    Poor Abraham Lincoln. Despite the many great things he did in his life, we couldn’t find a single good Lincoln-themed drinking game to honor his legacy, unless you count the drinking games designed to help viewers get through the bad movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the even-worse knockoff movie Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.

    That is a sad legacy for the Great Emancipator. A legacy so sad it’ll drive you to drink.

    Photo via ClotureClub.com


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