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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    When Mike Hoye set out to make the game Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker more gender-friendly for his 3-year-old daughter (she pronounces it gender “fwee”), he was doing it primarily out of parental love. But when the former system administrator released a crack for the game that reverses the genders of the characters—making Link the heroine and Zelda the guy she rescues—he struck a chord with gamers across the Internet.

    Hoye, who previously built corporate deploy systems for Mozilla products before becoming an entrepreneur, had been looking for games that his daughter Maya could play. Wind Waker was the most accessible game he owned for someone her age, but there was a problem: The console only had one gender mode for Zelda’s main character, the hero Link.

    Since Hoye wasn’t about to teach his daughter that she couldn’t be the hero in her own story unless she related to a man, he devised a special crack to reverse all the gender pronouns and other references to Link’s gender in the story. Once the crack was done—he told the Dot it took only “a few days of work, spread out over a couple of weeks”—he shared the results.

    “As you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers,” he blogged on Wednesday. Hoye also made sure that the references matched up tonally, too: When one commenter suggested Hoye replace “lad” with “gal,” he responded succinctly, “‘Gal’ is not something you call the resurrected Hero Of Time.”

    Most people met Hoye’s genderswap with cheers and praise for his efforts to be a good parent. But some argued that his efforts actually reinforced a gender divide. The Dot chatted to Hoye about the ongoing gender tensions in the gaming community, the challenge of finding suitable games for kids, and more.

    Daily Dot: Based on the response from readers, would you consider turning this into a project for more than just games for your daughter? Obviously you've highlighted a huge and basic gender inequality issue at work.

    I'd certainly consider it. The approach I've taken isn't particularly user-friendly, though, and I don't know how it could be made much more user-friendly without getting hung up on some of the sharp, rusty edges of modern copyright laws. If this turns into a thing that other people start doing, though, and if the "small patch to the dialog" route I'm taking seems to work for whatever community emerges, then I'd love to contribute to and support that effort.

    DD: There's so much tension right now in the gaming community over issues of sexism that it seems like such a project could be a really touchy subject.

    It's only a touchy subject with people who think the status quo is OK. And since those people are clearly, obviously wrong, I'm not all that worried about whether or not they're comfortable with it.

    DD: Are you aware of the retconning of Lara Croft's backstory earlier this year so that players would "want to protect her?"

    I heard about that. It was pretty crappy. Likewise what Team Ninja did to Samus Aran's narrative in "Other M." This year we seem to have hit a pivot point in gaming where we (and bear with me, when I use words like “we” blithely here) as a community can't ignore the effect of bad actors and crappy behavior towards women. Projects that aim for inclusiveness—Valve's "Project Lil", referenced in the dev commentary of Portal 2, Bioware's FemShep in ME3 —have done insanely well, and people and projects that have gone the other way have been rightly called to the mat for it.

    DD: Were you thinking about those kinds of things when you made the decision to encourage your daughter to get into gaming at such an early age? She's going to face a lot of flack and misogyny in the industry and the community as she grows up. Putting myself in your shoes as a parent, it seems like it'd be a little scary.

    It's more than a little scary. But it's also pretty inspiring, to see how fast she learns and grows. The situation in tech now is, depending on what corner of that world you're in, either "kind of bad" or "extraordinarily bad." but it's also changing. But those changes don't just magically happen. So on the one hand, yes— I've had that in mind while I did this, and it feels like it was valuable work as a result.

    On the other hand, this is also something I'm doing just for Maya, hopefully to make her a little bit happy this year, and maybe in a few years when she has a better sense of what's going on, to show her that the culture around software isn't carved in stone any more than the software itself is.

    That is to say, if you're a bit smart and a lot determined, you can make the changes you want happen. It might be a lot of work, but worthwhile things usually are.

    DD: On your post, a commenter named Simon points out that emphasizing the gender pronouns may endorse the idea that people can't relate to characters across gender lines.

    Well, Simon says "I stopped really paying attention to gender after a while," which is adorable. It reminds me of this, because the only people in the world who get to act like race and gender don't matter are white men. I'm a white man myself. And let me tell you: It is amazing. No joke. And if I shave and put on a suit? You would not believe it.

    When [Maya]’s a fully formed person, I hope that's true—that she'll be able to empathize with other people across racial, gender and class lines, and be a better person for it. But for now, when she's three? Let's just get that barrier to entry out of the way, and let her be the hero of the story. My motivation here was, this is a thing which my daughter likes, but it's also a thing in which girls are getting shortchanged. What can I do about that? And once I've done it, can I share it? And here we are.

    DD: Do you have any other game recommendations with a good gender balance for kids your daughter's age?

    Yeah, there's a few strikes against that sort of game these days. Network gaming has pretty much killed same-couch gameplay, and I haven't really found a same-couch co-op game that can accommodate people with extremely different skill levels. But I've also had a lot of fun in big open-world games, playing them not as they were originally intended.

    Take, for example: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Not exactly suitable for a preschooler, if you play it as intended. But there's a horse in it! And you can climb things! So Maya and I spend time just galloping around ancient Rome, climbing buildings to look for her eagle, jumping into the water to make a big splash, hiding in hay bales and looking at the moon.

    DD: Are you planning to blog her progress as she gets more into the story?

    I don't think so. It feels weirdly super-competitive-parent to blog your child's development. I've put up a couple of funny little anecdotes, but that's about it. When the time comes, and she wants to express herself in that medium I'll try to help her, but that'll be up to her. I think we're a few years away from that. "Maya, no matter what you've seen, Dad says you need to be able to spell before you can type things on the Internet!"

    Photo via Mike Hoye

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    To Andrew Slack, the legalization of marriage equality in Maine isn’t just one of numerous reasons to celebrate the election or queer rights. It’s a reason to celebrate Harry Potter.

    “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful success,” he tells me, while standing in line to vote on Tuesday night at his local Boston precinct. “We worked to get it passed in 2009, and we lost. We won hearts and minds, but we lost. But we didn’t give up, and if it passes tonight, it will mean a lot to the fans.”

    The fans, of course, are members of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), a seven-year-old progressive campaign project that has grown into a formidable nonprofit and a touchstone organization for rallying fans around causes that better our world.

    “Think of a story that you love,” Slack, the cofounder and executive director of the HPA, told the audience at TEDx Rome last year. “[Imagine] if you were to work with other people who were moved by that story to use the message in that story to transform our world.”

    Slack, who founded the group along with Harry & the Potters frontman Paul deGeorge in 2005, became interested in the Harry Potter series when his students couldn’t stop talking about the books.

    “When this all began I thought it sounded really weird. And really stupid. The idea of a boy with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead who goes to a wizarding school—I didn’t get it. But my students lit up whenever they talked about it, and I felt like I had to try it. So finally, reluctantly, I picked it up--and suddenly I was gone. I was just captivated. By the end of the first chapter, I closed the book and turned to the person next to me, and said, ‘This book just changed my life.’”

    From there, Slack became obsessed with the idea of a “Dumbledore’s Army for our world.” He makes the point that if Harry Potter were alive in our world today, he’d do “a lot more than just talk about Harry Potter.” He points out that J.K. Rowling used to work for Amnesty International and calls the concept of applying pop culture and the power of story to create change a kind of “cultural acupuncture” for an age where transmedia and remix culture are a fundamental part of how we live.

    Slack has ridden the wave of that life-changing moment to places few HP fans have gone. After the Harry Potter fandom drew national attention when it sent five cargo planes of relief supplies to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, the HPA and Slack were suddenly in demand. In addition to making a TED appearance, Slack has served as a guest political blogger for the Huffington Post and appeared as a keynote speaker for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize forum.

    All that from Harry Potter.

    Slack talks about the enormity of the impact that HP has had on the people who love it: fans have not just created endless amounts of fanfiction and fanart, but also numerous international conferences devoted to the books, an international sports league based around Quidditch, and an entire musical genre in the form of wizard rock, or wrock. Given all of that energy and creativity, the work of the Harry Potter Alliance seems like just another organic arm of the fandom. Rowling went on to thank Slack and the HPA for the work they were doing, which includes fighting poverty, promoting literacy, supporting ending genocide in Darfur, working to end child slavery, and, of course, sending medical supplies to Haiti.

    “We tend to come in and we never seem to know what we’re going to do,” Slack said of the previous Maine Equality project, in which Harry Potter fans made phone calls and held an awareness concert in support of the vote. “Our people don’t sign up ahead of time; they’re already online.” Slack is too modest to specify that fans come when HPA calls, but time and time again, just as with Dumbledore’s Army in the books themselves, that’s what happens.

    The ability to mobilize online communities rapidly and formidably is just one of many strengths the HPA has in its favor. Not only does the organization have tremendous reach within the Harry Potter fandom, but the movement of Harry Potter fans within other parts of fandom and online communities makes the organization uniquely poised to tap into pop culture for a level of unprecedented real-world activism.

    Last week, Slack and the HPA joined forces with the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, to use their pull with Harry Potter fans and Nerdfighters to get out the vote. The Don’t Forget to Vote, America! project was so successful that it crashed the HPA servers the night of the election.  And earlier this year, a petition to keep Lionsgate from shutting down HPA’s “Hunger is not a Game” campaign over copyright issues gained immediate national attention and resulted in the fastest successful resolution of any petition in the site’s history—along with the possibility of working with Lionsgate for the rest of the film franchise.

    The Hunger Games campaign was the beginning of Imagine Better, which Slack said “is going to end up becoming an umbrella organization, not only by the people who joined HPA but by people all over the world who want to be engaged in fan activism. So [we’ll be] supporting fans of all kinds in various forms of charities.

    “We also want to do something light, something easy, around Les Misérables coming up in December. In terms of children’s rights, that’s an easy fit. But I’m also talking to other organizations about how they can use imagery from Les Misérables to further their causes. …. We can consult with Occupy, and other progressive organizations and other nonprofits, on how they can use popular culture in general.”

    “We’re not interested in owning the movement of fan activism so much as supporting and helping to harness it,” Slack told me. And indeed, HPA is far from being the only fandom charity out there: Sweet Charity, a project to raise money for RAINN, raised over $80,000 dollars before it ended. Likewise, the American Idol fandom raised over $100,000 in its 2009 fandom auction; and right now the Teen Wolf fandom is promoting Team Wolf Cares, a charity project devoted to hurricane relief as well as wolf conservation.

    These are just examples of thousands of similar projects across fandom; but with its growing name-recognition, its increasing celebrity support—Alex Day is the most recent musician to support the group—HPA might just have the ability to do something none of them have ever quite managed.

    HPA might just turn fan activism into an everyday event.

    Photo via Personal Democracy


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    Designer James Bridle has married unmanned drone strike information from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism with Google Earth images to create a series of photos of some of the towns where U.S. and U.K. drones may have struck.

    Hosting it on his Instagram feed, he’s called it “Dronestagram,”

    There are six photos on the feed so far, and Bridle listed their locations in a blog post. Wadi al Abu Jabara. Beit al Ahan. Jaar. Dhamar. Al-Saeed. Tappi. Bulandkhel. Hurmuz. Khaider Khel.

    “These the names of places. They are towns, villages, junctions and roads. They are the names of places where people live and work, where there are families and schools. They are the names of places in Afghanistan and Yemen, which are linked by one thing: they have each been the location of drone strikes in the past couple of months.”

    The relationship between military technology, our own personal technology use, and war itself is seldom examined in any but the most cursory and abstract way. Using photos of once-intact villages where human beings went about the business of living makes the consequences of war, specifically of high-tech, distance-controlled drone use, much more tangible.

    “Whether you think these killings are immoral or not, most of them are by any international standard illegal,” Bridle said. He has created Dronestagram in order to make “these locations just a little bit more visible, a little closer. A little more real.”

    Bridle is also syndicating these images to Tumblr and Twitter accounts for a wider spread of information.

    “History, like space, is co-produced by us and our technologies,” Bridle said. And this is true of Bridle’s project as well. As he himself said, “information on exact locations is scarce; where a precise location is not given, the view should be within a few kilometres in most cases.” That means the photos may be of the target of a drone, or they may not be.

    History, after all, is co-produced by us and our technologies.  

    Photo via James Bridle/Instagram

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    When 7-year-old Remi kept asking for cat, his father Dan Urbano thought of a plan to avoid getting a pet. He told his son that the family would get one only if a picture of Remi and his 1-year-old sister Evelyn pleading for a pet on Facebook got 1,000 likes.

    Challenge accepted.

    On Nov. 7, Marisa Urbano, Remi’s mom posted the following picture on her Facebook account.

    “Dan thinks there is NO way we can do this,” she wrote. “I say there is. help us out. We really want a cat named Hairy Pawturr. If you can’t like, shares [sic]. Shares count too! Thanks so much everyone!!”

    It didn’t take very long. Within an hour, the post received 400 likes. By the end of that night, it was close to surpassing its goal. Less than a week later, that same post had received over 110,000 likes, more than 100,000 reshares, and close to 10,000 comments.

    On Saturday—well after passing the 1,000 like threshold— the Urbanos traveled to the Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, Mass., to pick up “Hairietta L. Pawturr,” the newest member of their family. According to the Urbanos, the “L” is for all the likes the picture got on the social network platform.

    That same day, Marisa once again took to Facebook, only this time it was post an album of Hairietta L. Pawturr and to thank everyone who made the adoption possible.

    “Thank you to all the kind souls out there who rooted for our kids and taught us all a few lessons about how much kindness there really is in the world and how powerful social networks are,” she raved.

    For his part, Dan Urbano admits that he didn’t expect this type of reaction.

    “I knew something was up when we got a phone call from Good Morning America and when we started getting friend requests and comments on the post from other countries where we don’t know the people like Japan and Germany.”

    Lesson learned, Dan. The Internet loves cats.

    Photos via Marisa Urbano/Facebook

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    Great comedy is all about timing. The wrong cadence or length of pause can kill good jokes faster than a cut-off microphone.

    When it comes to Twitter parody accounts, it’s all about being quick to the punch, staying in character, and having the perfect target.

    We saw countless political parody accounts crop up this election season, many of which were created in reaction to something one of the people at the heart of the campaign said. Mitt Romney’s pledge to cut PBS funding in the first debate brought about @FiredBigBird while his remark about having “binders full of women” led to @RomneysBinder. Barack Obama’s line about there being fewer horses and bayonets had a similar effect. The list goes on.

    There are countless others out there, from the surreal Nate Silver parody @FiveThirtyNate and the sublime @NotTildaSwindon to mashups like @50SoAndyGray (50 Shades of Grey and soccer commentator Andy Gray) and @PaulRyanGosling (former Republican vice-president candidate Paul Ryan and Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling).

    What separates a memorable parody account from all the others? We reached out to the people behind @InvisibleObama and @PaulRyanGosling for tips and tricks.

    1) Be prepared

    Inspiration can strike at any time, so it helps to be ready. Creating a Twitter account doesn’t take very long, but you can jump ahead of the game by setting up a new account in advance.

    First, head to, log out of your own account—if you have one—and go through the straightforward signup process. Pro tip: If you have a Gmail or Google Apps email account, you don’t need a separate email address to verify your account. Simply add “+[text]” before the @ symbol, for example:

    It doesn’t matter what you call your new Twitter account, and that’s the beauty of preparing like this: You can change your @username at any time from your settings. When the time comes to start your parody, simply change the username, display name, bio and profile photo.

    Ian Schafer created @InvisibleObama within five minutes of Clint Eastwood starting to interview an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. His account went on to snag more than 67,000 followers.

    2) Get started

    This is the trickiest part: knowing what is worth parodying. There’s no magic secret. Just go with your gut. If you find something ridiculous and think someone else might too, there’s probably parody fodder there.

    Election night on Tuesday was largely free of memeable moments, unlike in 2008 when CNN’s completely pointless hologram system made for ripe comedy fodder.

    Paul Ryan Gosling is run by the five women behind the blog Mouthy Housewives. Karen Gerwin, one of those women, told the Daily Dot that the account caught fire on Twitter (with more than 74,900 followers since August) due to the “winning humor and sarcasm, of course. Plus, Paul Ryan is inherently easy to mock.”

    3) Make it last

    Most reactionary parody accounts have a limited shelf life. Parodies based on a soundbyte can run out of steam fast. Keeping it going requires some creativity.

    The key, Gerwin noted, is “staying funny, and staying on top of the most up-to-the-minute events that involve the subject of the parody.”

    Schafer told the Daily Dot his tactic is to ensure “consistency and quality. I can only vouch for the first, but every so often there's a gem in there.” Expanding the account beyond its origins can help too, he said:

    “The account has been very active, and the content eventually transcended the events of the RNC. That, and puns are the lowest common denominator of humor. The rest of the humor is in that the account is still active. Both the left and the right found ways and reasons to interact with it, and @InvisibleObama eventually became a way to refer to that empty chair on stage. It's also been very polarizing; there have been equal amounts of support and vitriol directed at it.”

    4) Stay on point

    How many times have you seen blooper reels where actors break character and start laughing? The same holds true on Twitter. Your parody account is a facade. Going the method-acting route is probably a step too far, but if you want to keep up the illusion, you’ll need to stay in character.

    In Paul Ryan Gosling’s case, the Mouthy Housewives don’t have a big problem keeping on point since he’s “a pretty one-note character.”

    Schafer went a little further though, creating a detailed @MayorEmanuel-style universe for @InvisibleObama:

    “There's a story canon in my brain that I don't waver from. There's a whole backstory. Kind of like Star Wars.”

    5) Collaborate with friends

    Gerwin said that being able to run Paul Ryan Gosling with her fellow Mouthy Housewifes is “the best part” of the entire experience.

    “We enjoy cracking each other up, and it was just an added benefit that other people came along for the ride.”

    Most of the time, the women write the tweets by themselves, but occasionally, one comes up with an idea that needs a little work, then they work together to refine it.

    Everything’s more fun with friends. Just ask @MatthewPerry888.

    Photo via @paulryangosling/Twitter

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    At a time when disgruntled Movember participators might be staring at their sparse mustaches thinking they’ve made a huge mistake, spokesman Nick Offerman has come forth with a message: it gets fuller.

    Better known as the manly Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, Offerman is Movember’s spokesman, which encourages men to grow mustaches to raise money and garner support about men’s health issues.

    In a new video, the comedian reminds mustachioed participants to ignore those who would taunt them with “dirty hipster” or “Ugly Geraldo.” After all, he posits, if you’re rocking the “in-between mustache,” you’re not alone.

    “We’ve all been there, it gets fuller.” assures Offerman. The ambassador to manhood previously starred in a video solo but is joined this time by The Office stars Oscar Nunez, Jack Lacy, and Brian Baumgartner.

    Offerman ends with a message for those struggling through the embarrassing mid-mustache phase.

    “Let them know, without judgement, that it gets fuller,” jokes Offerman, a light-hearted joke parlaying off the It Gets Better campaign that supports gay youth. “Whether you’re a wife, parent, friend, or child, tell those in-betweeners that it gets fuller.”

    With just two weeks left in November, now is not the time to give up. It takes time to grow something as awesome as Offerman’s upper lip majesty. That awkward Jack Sparrow-like caterpillar will soon turn into a full-fledged mustache that will make everyone envious.

    Photo via Mademan/YouTube

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    "There was this movie that came out sometime in the ‘90s. It had Chevy Chase, John Candy, and I think Demi Moore in it and they were all in an old house surrounded by a junkyard filled with traps. Why can't I remember what that movie was?! This is going to bug me all day!"

    Chances are, you have faced such a dilemma from time to time. You remember certain details but not a title. You remember a melody but no lyrics. The total amount of information you need is, well, right on the tip of your tongue.

    Thanks to the sleuths at r/tipofmytongue, a section on social news site Reddit, you can now get that jump-start your memory needs.

    The subreddit, started by moderator surfwax95 on Aug. 12, 2009, was created in an effort to reduce such material on r/askreddit, an open forum for questions posed to the Reddit community.

    "I'm kind of getting annoyed with the barrage of ‘Help me remember the name of this song, film, whatever’ lately. Arrange and post them in /r/tipofmytongue," surfwax95 wrote.

    The idea was initially met with skepticism from fellow redditors.

    "Good thing, because was there no place where you could ASKREDDIT anything before," user w0wzers commented.

    “Why isn't this subreddit called /r/idontknowhowtousegoogle?” mobileupload posed.

    “Because if you don't know the title of something, but can recount a few vague scenes, Google is useless,” surfwax95 answered. “Redditors, on the other hand, can be quite helpful in these situations.”

    The skeptics were ultimately proved wrong.

    Today, r/tipofmytongue is home to over 50,000 sleuths. Moderator sjhill told the Daily Dot the subreddit sees 100,000 to 150,000 unique pageviews per month.

    “TOMT doesn't suffer from a lot of the spam or troll issues that are seen elsewhere, which is one of the many reasons I really enjoy being a mod here,” sjhull said.

    “It's mostly helping out, being nice to people.”

    Users who are looking for information post every detail they can remember as a “case.” Fellow redditors will then chime in, offering suggestions or additional information. If the OP’s, or original poster’s, mental bell is rung, they commemorate the occasion by marking the case as “solved.” Otherwise, it will remain “unsolved.”

    For example, user fatalisticfatalist recently requested the assistance of Tip of My Tongue subscribers in recalling the title of a book.

    “A man is sentenced to prison on an island where everyone calls each other by their last name and respect is the currency,” the post’s title read.

    A few sleuths chimed in with their suggestions and well-wishes, but it was ultimately user Gumderwear’s suggestion of The Penal Colony that led fatalisticfatalist to mark the case as solved.

    Another case, which has since gone cold, involves user triscut900’s quest to find a word for when one “completes a task using very few resources, or when something is cost-effective.” Terms like “efficient” and “frugal” are not quite right. Can you help out with the case?

    Moderator damontoo crunched some numbers for the Daily Dot. Out of the last 1,000 cases posted to the subreddit, 484 have been solved.

    “[In] 48 hours, we have at least a 50% solved rate [of all cases submitted, on average],” damontoo said.

    If Google isn’t doing the trick for you, perhaps you can share your own dilemma with the folks at r/tipofmytongue.

    Photo via SuperFantastic/Flickr

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    The fact that some men are desperate for female companionship is not exactly groundbreaking. But just how desperate are these desperate men? One man went to find out.

    Inspired by a friend's attempt at online matchmaking, Mandatory writer Rob Fee decided to sign up for his very own OKCupid account. But rather than set up a profile for himself, Fee wanted to explore the digital dating world from the other side of the gender gap.

    "[My friend] was constantly telling me about all the bizarre and pathetic lines guys try to use on her via instant message," Fee writes. "She would very blatantly shoot them down and yet they would continue to message her." Intrigued, Fee devised an experiment to see just "how far guys would go to get a date or a hook-up."

    As it turns out — very.

    With the help of a cute female friend's photo, Fee was halfway home. All he needed now was an irretrievably off-putting bio to truly put his subjects' dignity to the test.

    "I wanted to make this so idiotic and unappealing that no one in their right mind would show interest in this girl," Fee says. "If you are hitting on her after reading her profile you have no interest in anything intellectual whatsoever."

    Here are just two poignant excerpts (sic throughout):


    My self-summary: Well I'm jsut me! Self tought and self made lol. A lot of preple go threw every day like plastick bags (katy parry) but i live them to teh fullest i love dancing (krumping & interpretetive are my passions) but i feel that it was ruined by blaks and now asiens. Not racist at all just dont like what danceing has become. If you are a cool guy and love chili and art we will get alonge great!

    I'm really good at: ipods!

    It gets much, much worse, but suffice it to say this girl isn't the one.

    That didn't seem to matter to 39 guys who messaged Fee within six hours of the profile being up on the site. Fee remained sympathetic, reasoning that "they just saw a cute girl and went for it" without reading the bio.

    Fair enough. But that notion was quickly quashed once he actually started exchanging messages with these five-and-dime Casanovas.

    Some of the suitors get credit for cutting off all communication once they "realized they were dealing with an idiot/sociopath," but the others... Well, here's one fairly representative exchange (click to expand), but make sure to read the rest.

    And then tender your resignation from humanity.

    By Neetzan Zimmerman [H/T: Fark, images via Mandatory]

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    Careful targeting and data analysis played a key role in Barack Obama’s successful reelection.

    His campaign placed a strong focus on big data, collections of all kinds of socioeconomic and demographic data at large scales, with studious analysis helping officials determine the best ways to approach voters during canvassing.

    What you may not know is that famed (and fictional) Kazakhstani journalist Borat Sagdiyev is also a big data scientist. Or at least, it would appear that way from Twitter’s @BigDataBorat.

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter ego is more than just a satirical cultural commentator, folks. Since March he’s shared skewed, often funny thoughts on the Hadoop framework used in big data applications, popular developer news site Hacker News, and Michelle Obama’s health initiative.

    Photo via @BigDataBorat/Twitter

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    I sent a text to the wrong person. I accidentally hit the car next to me in the parking lot at the grocery store. I threw a baseball through my neighbor’s window. In short, today I fucked up.

    As far as subreddits go, the concept behind this one is simple and to the point. r/TIFU is a showcase for a shared general experience (fucking up) that also allows for storytelling in that way only Reddit can pull off. We all know the feeling of having fucked up, but you cannot even begin to imagine some of the ways others have gotten themselves there. It makes for some delightful tl;dr’s.

    Officically, r/TIFU refers to itself as:

    A community for the dumbass in all of us. We all have those moments where we do something ridiculously stupid. Let us make each other feel better about ourselves.

    I don’t know about the posters, but reading their stories for sure made me feel better about my fuck-ups. Nothing I’ve done in recent memory is quite on this level. Each week the top admissions are compiled into a “Fuck Up of the Week” list. If nothing else it’s nice to know that when it comes to fucking up, you’re the best.

    Serena on Gossip Girl says 'I'm a fuckup'

    Let’s begin with one of my absolute favorite submissions, from dirge702:

    At my work if a plastic piece breaks or a screw is stripped on a computer we’re fixing, we use super glue. I was working with some today — the stuff is super clear and if it’s spread out thin enough, nearly impossible to notice. I unknowingly got a lot on my hand.

    I went to the bathroom for some much needed relief, and I was stuck. To paint a picture, my whole palm was stuck to my junk. Balls and noodle. I zipped up with my hand down my pants, told the boss, and after about 5 minutes of straight laughing he let me go home.

    On my way home since I have only one hand, I swerve a little bit every now and then. A cop decides to pull me over. He walks over and he says to me, “Sir, please take your hand off your crotch and show me your ID.” I explain what happened and he breaks out laughing. But I still get a ticket. Only 20 bucks though, “for being a good sport.” I also got escorted home.

    Here I am now, sitting in my bathtub full of warm water and soap, typing on my phone. So reddit, how has your day been? Mine has been balls so far.

    Tl;dr: superglued my hand to my crotch, got a ticket, and I’m sitting in a soapy bubble bath waiting for my hand to be freed.

    Omgwhymewhy showed everyone in her lecture hall her lady parts:

    Last night my friend told me that some vaginas are abnormal. I’ve never thought about this before and naturally sought to discover whether or not my vagina looks the ‘right way’. My next step was to take a photobooth photo down under and compare it to pictures I found online. Unfortunately I forgot to close photobooth before putting my computer to sleep and consequently, this morning I opened the laptop and flashed a massive photo of my vaj to all the students behind/beside me in the lecture hall. I tried to close it quickly and discreetly but the damage was done and frankly I’m too embarrassed to ever ask if people saw it.

    TL;DR: Photobooth+Vagina+Forgetfulness=Bad News

    Melatoninkickingin learned the hard way what ‘private’ means on Instagram:

    I’m not huge on Instagram but I do use it every so often and have about 25 friends on there. I also like to send my boyfriend some dirty pictures here and there just for fun. Lately I’ve been feeling a little artistic and decided to Instagram them. I thought I had it figured out just “set the photos to private”, Instagram them, delete them and make my pictures normal again. As it turns out setting my photos to “private” just means the general public can’t see them but all my friends still can. I have no idea if anyone’s been seeing naked pictures pop up and get deleted a few minutes later but now I am freaking out!

    Onideum was trying to learn more about spices:

    I was cooking this morning and I used some red chili powder. I cupped some in my hand to dash around the wok and my dumbass curious self thought, “Hey, I’ve never known what chili powder smells like, why not find out now?” I take a big ol’ whiff, halfway through I realize what I’ve done and I sneeze, wheeze, and cough uncontrollably, spilling stir fry all over my dress shirt in agonizing pain. I called into work today and im still stinging and can’t sniff up my nose.

    TL;DR I got curious of the scent of chili powder, three seconds later I was on the ground with stir fry on my white shirt.

    Adeason realized that even if you have no running water, you should double-check the faucets:

    This morning I turned the shower on and realized the water had been cut off due to roommates lack of knowledge on the cut-off date. I raged, not being able to shower before work SUCKS. I went to work, got a message from my roommate stating the water would be on shortly. Came home to a steaming HOT bathroom…It had been on for round about 9 hours.

    Sharpie9000 got an unexpected protein boost in their vitamin water:

    I was rushing this morning to get to work because I slept through my alarm, so I didn’t have time to grab a water bottle like I normally do. I thought I was saved when I got to my car and realized that I had left a vitamin water in there from the night before. It wasn’t until after I took a swig that I remembered the ant infestation that had recently taken hold of my car. It turns out dozens of ants had tried to drink the open sugary vitamin water and had drowned in the process. The bottle had a perfect layer of dead ants, and I had ingested them.

    ConstableOdo learned that not all hair should be waxed:

    I was waxing my eyebrows and upper lip today. I am a lucky woman, I don’t have dark body hair. It’s just dark enough I can see it if I get close. Anyway, I had some left over hot wax and decided “You know, I really have always hated my prominent widow’s peak.” It’s like a cartoon of Dracula’s hair grew on my forehead.

    I trim the hair to about 3/4th inch, marking what I want gone. I smeared the wax on the hair I had cut, and RIP. It felt like I had been hit in the forehead with a brick. I bit my tongue and tasted blood. The damn cloth had slipped out of my fingers. I still had 2/3rds of the peak to go. I grab it again, set my jaw nice and strong and pulled. Slipped again, about 1/3rd to go.

    In my pain and misery, I didn’t noticed that a sizeable portion of hair I wanted to keep was trapped in the top part. So now I have a lot of pain, a cut tongue, and a half-dollar sized indent in my hairline going up into my part.

    Never wax your head hair. It’s really, really in there.

    The throwaway username Burntballs really says it all on this one:

    Yesterday my roommate met a girl, and today he decided to go over to her place. I was pretty happy, as anyone would if they had the house to his or herself. About an hour after he left, I was feeling a little horny. I decided it was time for a good ol’ fap session. I was sitting on the couch, watching Dr. Phil, and soon after, found myself stroking away to the moustache-clad man and the 400 pound lummox who was on the show & had just publicly confessed she had cheated on her husband. It was great. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. The house was empty, the curtains were drawn — indeed, it was a fapper’s dream.

    Shortly after, I finished. It was evident I didn’t think things through. My seed was all over my hand, penis and boxers. So with my free hand, I reached for the nearest thing: napkins. Unfortunately, these napkins were the very same my roommate used to dry ghost pepper seeds. I cleaned up, and then the burn started. Oh my lord, this was WORSE than cutting jalapenos, WORSE than icy hot. My friends, you don’t know the pain that comes with ghost pepper cock.

    I had no idea what to do, so for 6 HOURS I sat, writhing in pain, watching TV with my penis dipped in a glass of icy cold milk. My roommate came home and it was the most embarrassing thing I’d ever experienced. He couldn’t stop laughing. Thankfully, it (mostly) went away when I went to sleep.


    IAmA_Fisted_Asshole “trusted a fart”:

    Pretty self-explanatory. I’ve had diarrhea over the past few days, which included having a rather sore stomach so I was pleased to wake up this morning and enjoy a pain free breakfast. After that I sat down on the couch to use my laptop and felt a small fart coming along. I assumed that no sore stomach = no diarrhea so I made the decision to give the fart a little push and the next thing I know the insides of my undies had changed hue. I attempted to make a swift escape to the toilet but my brother had heard the all too wet-sounding fart.

    TL;DR: I sharted and brought dishonour to my family.

    By , photo via Slacktory

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  • 11/15/12--08:33: My family vacation [NSFW]
  • Hooking up in an American theme park is almost disappointingly easy if you are gay, and the reason for that is Grindr. That is this story's fuel, Grindr. You now have the gist of it: Push buttons and you get laid. We are connected via GPS and our iPhones, and interested parties have embraced doing naughty and queer things with them. There's more to being gay than Grindr (thank god), but for some of us, Grindr plays a key role in being gay.

    Many theme park attractions have last-chance/turn-back points. Those who've stupidly waited on long lines can render that time spent utterly wasteful by taking those exits and effectively bypassing that cheap thrill that brought about this empty moment in your life in the first place. This is especially true of the cuddly ones with loin-grabbing drops like Splash Mountain, the Song of the South-themed log flume in Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

    There is no cuddling in this story, but if you turn back now, know this, at least:

    Grindr offers the kind of rides that theme parks don't. What I experienced was an entirely different kind of 4D.


    The gay hook-up app Grindr is as much of a drug as anything whose end result is pleasure. It is time-wasting and addictive, and I think about quitting it often. I do quit it sometimes, going as far as deleting it from my iPhone, sometimes from my iPad, once from both. But I always come back. I'd blame last week's particularly compulsive bout of Grinding on my job for which I am writing this piece, but then that is me making addict excuses.

    The receiving and, to a lesser extent, giving of compliments between strangers is intoxicating. The promise of easy sex may never lose its novelty. Grindr is something you can pick up and put down, providing the distraction of an iPhone game without requiring any of the concentration. Why do anything when you could be checking Grindr? It'll only take a minute, and looking at people is fun.

    In short, it's the perfect distraction. I spent last week, from early Monday to earlyish Sunday, in a rented house in Davenport, Fla., with 11 members of my family: My (divorced but friendly) parents, my four younger sisters, three of their significant others (all are men, but only one's a husband), my one sister's two children. I have not had that long of a stay with all of the people in my immediate family since I was in sixth grade (back before my parents split), and I have never stayed that long with my sisters' men factored in. It was fine. I brought no significant other on this trip, even though I did invite my man down. I also wasn't designated as a driver of anyone's rental car, the consequences of which only later dawned on me when it became clear that my apathy had effectively sentenced me to house arrest. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without my family.

    I love my family, but I desperately needed a distraction.

    I'm gay, I'm horny, but the version of me that was stuck in a house with my family was this Ken-doll-crotched person who had to behave in a way that substantially deviated from how I've come to live my life (which, by the way, is not constantly fucking, but is not inhibited in that realm either). People amplify and tone down aspects of our personalities to fit situations all the time, and for me this is especially prickly and bizarre. I share so much about my life in a public sphere, but manners and a general nausea regarding discussing sex life with my family have me basically pretending like I don't do what I do when I am with them. The result of this is that last week, I was not fully myself for the sake of the people who made me what I am. If that isn't fucking queer, nothing is.

    Of course, there was family time in which to partake, and I did so happily. There was so much, though, that I needed a vacation from my vacation and an iPhone game (which, make no mistake, is what Grindr primarily is) is the working, technologically-inclined man's vacation. I regularly tapped away throughout my post-amusement park downtime, taking breaks from reading articles and catching up on TV to amuse myself with something less taxing and, especially given my virtual imprisonment and inability to get anywhere without someone else driving, something that required even less of a commitment. Something that kept my hands busy and took my mind off of whatever nothings were happening in exchange for nothings that weren't even happening.

    I was begging to be distracted, and I had the perfect outlet for it.


    When it isn't administering your adoration fix or just plain titillating, Grindr is straight up fascinating in a cultural cross-section kind of way. It can be hilarious:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    And boring enough to illustrate its tendency for pointlessness as it unfurls:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    And so, so sad. Here are some personal messages from profiles:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family VacationWho Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    And here's part of a chat that I had with someone who'd never meet me:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    Grindr provides a imprecise microcosm of your surrounding area. In Williamsburg, this means I see a lot of lanky guys with specific hairstyles on my screen. When I visited Atlanta in September, a large percentage of the guys filling out the grid were black. In Orlando, I noticed a lot more couples looking for group play than I normally do. Some guys use pictures of themselves posing with theme-park characters as their profile pics or famous landmarks:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family VacationWho Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    In a sharp contrast to my personal experiences so far, bareback sex with Grindr strangers seems particularly acceptable in the Orlando area. I noticed this only from my conversations: Out of curiosity, if someone asked me to fuck him, I asked if he would like to do that bareback. Each of the five or so dudes that I had this conversation with were totally amenable. One described himself as "fine" with bareback. "Fine," like it's pistachio ice cream after they ran out of vanilla. "Fine," like it's a hand massage. "Fine," like a week-long vacation with every member of your immediate family and your family members' immediate families at age 34. "Fine."

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family VacationWho Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family VacationWho Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    I cannot be certain if guys in the Orlando area are generally more likely to have bare sex with strangers than they are in New York. Instead, it could be that the impossibility of these encounters ever actually happening liberated me to say things I normally wouldn't. In an actual potential hook-up situation that I want to make happen, I don't often say things that could subvert it. If I ask some hot dude if he's into bareback sex and he says no and then I explain that I was just asking to make sure that he's not the type who would be (an imperfect test to weed out guys so risky that their health status absolutely cannot be trusted), he could suspect that my test wasn't actually a test and that I actually did want to fuck raw, then judging me as unsafe and unfuckable in the same way I was attempting to judge him. If you actually want a hook-up to happen, it's best not to complicate it with mind games. These hookups were not going to happen (as much as I wanted some to), so I could just say whatever. Of course, the same goes for all of the guys I was talking to. They could have been talking shit, too. I didn't end up putting my raw dick in any of them, but at the same time, nor did any of them take my raw dick.

    You know and I know that you can't trust anything a stranger says in an online, but if someone says, "I work here," and it's a public place that you could check against without so much as signaling what you are doing or who you are or that you found this information out via Grindr, it seems believable enough. Working at Disney (or being a "cast member," as the park calls it) or Universal Studios or Legoland wouldn't normally strike me as something that would get anybody laid, so I believed it when I'd see it listed in people's profiles, as I did a few times.

    The irony is that it actually did help two people hook up early last week. One of them was me.


    As the week wore on, it became clear that the only way I could possibly get off with another guy would be in a theme park I visited. No one in my development was on Grindr and there was no way for me to get to anyone who wasn't in that gated development that seemed to have no pedestrian exit/entrance.

    One morning, I chatted with some guys who'd be visiting the same parks as me about the possibility of hooking up - somewhere in the parks. I don't like public sex, I don't like the feeling that I could be arrested with my hard dick out, but I did like the novelty of hooking up in a forbidden place. The potential excitement superseded reasoning. But reasoning was key, too: The resulting story was motivation enough.

    However, as one guy with a fairly adorable face pic pointed out, it would be hard to maneuver and just plain weird to do so with kids around. This levity parted the fog of horniness that took over my brain after several days of not getting off. (Jerking off in a house I was sharing with my family with virtually no privacy except for the bathroom also seemed just plain weird.) It would be fucked up to do it in the bathroom of a family resort, while kids screamed and cried and yelped and gleefully reported their No. 2s to their dads outside their stalls. A few years ago, I visited a water park in Wildwood, New Jersey. The urinals didn't have dividers between them and a guy that was standing at one that was two down from mine leaned back, giving me an eyeful of his cock. "Weird, that's really thick and looks hard," I thought to myself after I had no other choice but to look.

    And then: "Oh."

    And then: "That dick is about the same level as the head of the small children who are running around. Most terrifying, ‘You must be this tall to ride this ride' marker ever."

    So: gross and fucked up. I could never.

    The only other option was to find someone familiar enough with the park to know where we could go to be alone, away from anyone who might arrest us or be scarred by our momentary coupling.

    That was easy enough.

    To get a good sample of the Grindr scene at the parks I visited, I'd login when I arrived at a place and then again in intervals throughout the day. This was mostly just to collect messages/profiles (let's call it "research"), not really to do much chatting. I had rides to go on and bickering with my sisters to accomplish. However, I did pay a bit more attention to Grindr early on, when I felt pent up and really eager to have someone help me take care of it. The first theme park we visited was Universal Studios Orlando, which was a bust in every way. It's borderline run-down and several of the attractions, which are basically just 3D movies with a fourth D that mainly involves spitting water at you, are preceded by movies that are just as long and play off what looks like VHS. This was not the place to be technological. I was ready to pounce, though, to the point where my head was turning to any male (anyone) who seemed to signal gayness. Twinkiness, sculpted brows, a switch in a dude's walk: all started looking really, really good to me. A youngish worker who clearly had theatrical ambitions of dressing up as a character one day camped his way around the boarding area of the Mummy roller coaster. I wanted to ask him to sit in my lap.

    The next day, at Universal's more thrill-oriented and far superior Islands of Adventure, I struck gold. Or, you know, dick. The day before, some cute kid in his early 20's messaged me and when I opened up Grindr at Islands of Adventure, and I saw that he was close. In-the-park close. Here is how easy it was to coordinate the hookup that followed:

    Who Needs a Log Flume When You Can Get a Blow Job In a Theme Park Bathroom Instead?: My Family Vacation

    I had a few things to do before I'd make my way over to the place that he worked in the Toon Lagoon zone. I'd also have to shake my two sisters and one sister's boyfriend, with whom I had attended the park. When my sister and her boyfriend stopped to play some carnival games, I slipped away, in search of a Coke Zero and that dude.

    I entered his place of work, which I'm not going to mention specifically because I don't want him to get in trouble. I saw him from afar and then he saw me and despite our very modern way of coordinating this, the cruising that took place for a few minutes felt vintage.

    I bought what I bought, nodded at him and approached him. He apologized for his outlandish, clashing fluorescent Toon-y work wear, but I told him that I liked a man in uniform. I don't know if he got it. He asked me if I came alone, and I told him no – that would be weird. Weirder than the current weird situation, at least, I thought. He told me I was cute, I returned the compliment and then he told me to follow him.

    He took me outside, past an appropriately cartoonish fence, all bright colors and bold lines and angular edges. I thought it was weird that it led to a staff-only area, as it resembled an attraction or maybe the opening to a fun maze. Past the opening was a mostly empty paved plot with a few picnic benches and single-stall, gender-specific bathrooms. No one was around but us. We went into the men's room and made out. We pulled our pants down. I was excited to a debilitating extent, so full of adrenaline that felt mainlined from a 15-year-old that I wasn't even hard. Neither was he – his dick reminded me of a not-yet-inflated animal-balloon balloon.

    It was fine. We got up, gave each other head and both came. I'm being generous if I say the entire thing lasted longer than three minutes. It was fucking great, though – a thrilling release that exceeded and, via post coital lightness, enhanced the insane roller coaster I went on immediately after with my sister after I met back up with her. The first thing she asked me is if I was high.

    I felt lighter, at last able to enjoy my vacation. I didn't hook up after that, but I did use Grindr to survey the area, soak in the fabricated culture and collect screen shots. Later that night, my mother arrived (she couldn't travel with us to Florida because of work) and we sat on the couch tapping at our phones. She showed me some game she was playing and it looked like there was some kind of chat option there, so I asked her about it.

    "I don't do chat shit," she told me. "There are a lot of perverts out there."

    By Rich Juzwiak, photo via Gawker

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    I have a lot of insufferable friends constantly filling my Facebook news feed with annoying baby pictures, engagement humblebrags, and BuzzFeed listicles. It’s unavoidable and exhausting—a flood of irritating things more painful than reading that New York Times review about Guy Fieri’s restaurant.

    Since my life revolves around Facebook, the panic attacks I suffer from my friend’s stupid updates happen frequently. No, that’s a terrible photo you ‘liked’ on Instagram, I’ve thought. And eww, you’re really bragging about voting for Go On in the People’s Choice Awards?

    However, I need a good excuse to delete friends so I don’t look like more of an ass than usual, because appearances are everything.

    I’m going to use Jimmy Kimmel as motivation. On Saturday, the ABC late-night host is celebrating his third annual National UnFriend Day, a judgement-free excuse to reassess the terrible people that you’ve collected from overnight camp, that part-time holiday job, and your high-school haters.

    Referred to as “NUD” for short (or “the nuddening”), Kimmel explained that every Nov. 17, he bestows upon you the opportunity to apply a colonic to your Facebook friends list.

    “Most people have between four and 30 friends in their life,” reasoned Kimmel. “Facebook friends can go into the thousands, and it’s time to get rid of them.”

    I’ve created a checklist to help decide which friends you should snip from your list.

    1) Do you dislike them?

    If you go to that person’s profile and your initial reaction is unbridled rage, eye-scratching, and general vomit attack—all stemming from a feeling you can’t pinpoint—it’s time to unfriend them.

    2) Are they an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend of yours?

    That’s a dealbreaker. Sure, going through their photo albums and calling every picture “slutty” and “fat” might be therapeutic at first. But in the future, it’s not going to help get over them. While you’re at it, dump their family members too. You never liked them anyways.  

    3) When’s the last time you saw them?

    I’ll give this one a two-year limit. But beyond that, you’re just filling your brain with mindless life updates, Spotify song playlists, and Word with Friends game posts from a person that you don’t even interact with.

    4) Is it a pet?

    Sorry dog (or whatever), but as much as I want to slap the shit out of your cuteness, this is not a meaningful Facebook friendship. What service are you providing me by “posting” your poop updates? A) I’m too busy tracking mine. B) You shouldn’t even be on Facebook, dog. Also, delete this pet owner’s profile from your list. You don’t need to deal with this person’s thirst for attention for a pet that’s going to die soon. Woof.

    5) Have they tagged you in Facebook shoe spam?

    Take a WALK, right guys!! Your friend’s profile has been hijacked by some street fresh spammers that are looking to make a shekel. If you’re stupid friend can’t keep his or her stupid password safe, how will you ever trust them with a secret?

    6) Are they a fan of Applebee’s?

    Delete them immediately. They should know that Ruby Tuesday rules the salad bar in the casual dining sector. Also, hi, unlimited fries at select locations, so bye.

    Have a safe unfriending shabbos!

    Illustration via Jason Reed

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    Liu Xianping, 72, is the greatest crossdressing grandfather any down-on-her-luck Chinese online retailer could hope for. Thanks to his slender, long legs and model-perfect stare, he’s become an Internet sensation in China, which in turn has brought a whole lot of publicity to his granddaughter's humble store.

    Called YueKou, the store resides at TMall—a business to consumer site that’s a rough equivalent of Amazon Partners. The clothes are intended for young, fashionable women—the type you might see walking around the glitzy districts of Shanghai or Beijing. You know: Pink bowties, short skirts, handbags, not exactly the type of thing you’d expect to see hanging off the elderly denizens at the local mahjong parlor. Well Mr. Liu doesn’t give a damn about your assumptions. 

    He models whatever he wants. It makes him happy.

    Started by five recent college graduates, one of whom is Liu’s granddaughter, the store has seen a five-times sales increase since Liu’s modeling work went viral across the Chinese Internet.

    This is, as you might expect, the 72-year-old Liu’s first modeling gig. The blog Offbeat China translated an interview with his granddaughter in a Chinese newspaper where she explained the serendipitous moment when it all started: “He picked up one piece and tried to give some advice on how to mix and match. We thought it was fun so we started shooting.”

    What does grandpa think of it all? If Liu has any haters anywhere, they will read this and weep:

    “Why [is it] unacceptable [for someone like me to wear women’s clothes]? Modeling for the store is helping my granddaughter and I have nothing to lose. We were very happy on the day of the shooting. I’m very old and all that I care about is to be happy.”

    The photos quickly spread across Chinese social media, especially at China’s Twitter equivalent, Sina Weibo. “He almost feels like Karl Lagerfeld!” one Weibo user commented, according to a translation from China Offbeat.

    Lagerfield, can you do better than this?


    Photos via YueKou/TMall

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    Wanted for murder and out on the lam, embattled antivirus software legend John McAfee has remained committed to updating his fans, followers, and freedom fighters. He’s using Who Is McAfee—alternately titled "The Hinterland"—a Wordpress-run site now functioning as "The Official Blog of John McAfee."

    The blog, authored by McAfee and operated by his friend Chad Essley, who's currently working on a graphic novel about the cybersecurity king, kicked up over the weekend with a sort of modus operandi stating McAfee's case for the journaling.

    "With lots of time on my hands and very little to do with it, I've been reflecting on the recent detour my life has taken," he wrote.

    Last week, McAfee was named as a suspect in the murder of his neighbor Gregory Faull, a fellow American expatriate whose dog McAfee reportedly did not like. The 67-year-old millionaire then allegedly hit the road, taking refuge in a series of disguises and hideout places while Belizean authorities went looking for him at his home.

    Launched Saturday, Who Is McAfee currently contains 11 posts, all of which detail McAfee's life on the lam.

    And while the prospect of a fugitive blogging may raise some eyebrows around the legitimacy of the entries, ABC News's Alyssa Newcomb confirmed Sunday afternoon that McAfee is the man behind each post.

    Taking the two at their word, we're now able to factually determine just how a multi-millionaire expatriate on the run from Belizean law spends his time—when he’s not offering $25,000 rewards for “the person or persons responsible for Mr. Faul’s (sp) murder.” We've outlined McAfee's seven most eye-popping activities below.

    1) Spitting vitriol towards Gizmodo's Jeff Wise

    Wise is the one who outed McAfee as a Belizean murder suspect, but the antivirus king says the Gizmodo writer's trigger-happy approach to pointing out McAfee's troubles is nothing new. "Jeff has made a life work out of smearing my character," he wrote on the blog's Nov. 17 Introduction.

    "Beginning with Fast Company some two odd years ago and continuing non-stop through the present, he has gone beyond the call of journalistic duty to bring my dark side to the attention of the world. You might think that moral duty or a search for the truth has been driving him. But, sadly, that is not the case."

    McAfee then goes on to detail an affair that Wise had on a flying adventure in New Mexico, because fair is fair.

    2) Expressing his affinity for sugar daddyism

    In his latest post,"Love and deception," McAfee notes the ways in which Belizean parents "'promote' attractive daughters to men with money constantly" and the ways in which that "helps the families through 'trickle down.'"

    “I am not foolish enough to believe that many young women could love a 67 year man," he wrote. "Being loved does not interest me much. Loving does."

    McAfee! Poetic.

    3) Playing dress up

    This is probably the most fun part about being a fugitive. In the days since he's gone on the lam, McAfee has colored his beard and hair a light grey; darkened the skin of his face, neck, and hands; donned an LA Saints baseball cap (LA Saints?!); stuffed his cheeks with bubble gum; stuffed a tampon into his nostril; worn a Guatemalan sarape; adjusted his posture; pushed a single-speed bicycle; and purchased a pair of very ragged pants.

    The result: He came a phone call away from selling a dolphin carving to a reporter with the Associated Press, and he claims to have had several run-ins with local authorities who did not know it was him.

    4) Demanding an apology

    According to McAfee, the government"switched tactics" in its pursuit of his "non-existent" meth lab.

    "A week after the antibiotics scandal was dropped, a new charge was leveled," he wrote. "The security company that I had formed to provide security at my residence possessed most of the weapons licenses used for said security."

    A week later, McAfee reports hearing talks of "charging me with hiring security guards without a license."

    "The list goes on with boring precision," he wrote, adding that the government hasn't returned any of his property and has met every request he's made for replacement with the same response: "We have not concluded our investigation."

    "Seven months seems a long time to investigate a non-existence meth lab," he concluded. Shame on you, Belize.

    5) Making space for guest bloggers

    McAfee's mostly run this whole kit and kaboodle, but Sunday he handed his reins over to Samantha, the dashing 20-year-old Belizean woman who's stayed by his side during his whole time on the lam.

    A native Spanish speaker, Samantha's English is tough to decipher, but she makes her intentions clear towards the end of her post: "This country of mine is corupted an injustice [sic] and full of liers [sp]. I ceartenly cant live like this nor in a place that dose not have justice."

    6) Running down a list of the accused

    McAfee's on the run for the murder of Mr. Faul, but a number of his associates and acquaintances have already been arrested. That list includes his caretaker, his best friend, his bodyguard, his bodyguard's wife, his housekeeper, and a cabbie named Cesar.

    "The list will grow," he added.

    7) Planning for the future

    On Sunday, McAfee revealed that he has "pre-written enough material to keep this blog alive for at least a year."

    "In addition, the administrator, Chad, will continue to monitor comments. He will administer the reward and post any information received. In truth, my continued involvement from this point is irrelevant."

    How that is all possible is beyond us, unless he saw this whole thing coming and started pumping out diatribes before the cops raided his compound.

    Photo via John McAfee/Facebook

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    The blossoming of violence between the state of Israel and Gaza-based Hamas militants began in earnest last week with Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari. Since then both parties have been firing missiles at one another. Israel has even been firing missiles at other missiles, using a defense system called the Iron Dome.

    It’s a mess of violence made even harder to understand by the proliferation of online war propaganda from both sides. That’s where the Guardian’sDatablog comes in. It’s attempting to map every verified missile strike over the last week.

    Based on Google’s mapping software, the project is crowdsourced, in the sense that a reader can report an incident via email at, or by using a Google form. Simon Rogers, Datablog’s editor, told the Daily Dot that they’re seeking “stuff that is verified, i.e., there's a link to a decent media source or a pic that we know is OK.”

    Presumably, these incidents have a better chance of being accurate if they’re reported by people with no vested interest in the conflict.

    Each strike is indicated by a red dot, which, once clicked, launches a dialogue box outlining the location of the strike, the number of wounded and property damage, if any, and photos or videos, if available.

    A click on one of the crowded central Gaza buttons, for instance, brings up Deir al-Balah: “Three killed on strike on a civilian car,” attributed to a story by Ynet. Click on a button near Tel Aviv and you read, “Two rockets from Gaza crashed near Tel Aviv on Thursday evening in the first such attack on Israel's commercial capital in 20 years. One fell into the Mediterranean Sea and the other in an uninhabited part of a suburb south of the city,” whose source is a story by the Guardian itself.

    Map data may be downloaded as a Google Fusion table.

    Photo via Datablog/The Guardian

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    If the rumors are true, Taylor Swift and One Direction’s Harry Styles are in a relationship. We’re torn about this at the Daily Dot. On the one hand, this might be the wake up call that finally gets through to those members of the fandom who fervently, passionately believe that Harry and bandmate Louis Tomlinson are in a closeted gay relationship (despite denials from the boys themselves). 

    On the other hand, we wouldn’t wish the reality distortion field that is the One Direction fandom on anyone, least of all Taylor “Why’d you have to be so mean?” Swift, balladeer for vulnerable teenage girls everywhere.

    Rumor has it that Swift’s song “I Knew You Were Trouble” is about her first encounters with Styles. This morning, after rumors swirled around over the weekend, Good Morning Americatweeted that, yes, the two were dating.

    The hornet’s nest Swift and her fans, “Swifties,” may have walked into is largely focused around endless amounts of tension surrounding “Larry Stylinson” shippers—“Larry” being a portmanteau of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson), and shippers being fans who really, really want to see two people get together. 

    For most members of such slash (male/male) fandoms, this perfect union only happens in the imaginations of the people who ship it. But in the One Direction fandom, most of the Larry shippers, who seem to number in the hundreds of thousands on Tumblr and Twitter, are convinced that Harry and Louis are actually a couple

    As part of the meticulously detailed mass conspiracy that fans have evolved to aid their belief in Harry and Louis’ great secret love, Larry conspiracists, or “tinhatters,” insist that Louis’ girlfriend Eleanor Calder must be a beard, a deceptive front to help keep Harry and Louis’ “real” relationship from becoming public. Many of them routinely send Calder insults on Twitter and Instagram for her part in allegedly helping to keep the two bandmates apart. Now that Harry/Taylor, or “Haylor,” is starting to look like a reality, the insults are beginning to roll in for her too—from every corner of the fandom, not just the Larry shippers.

    But if there’s one person the Larry tinhatters would have a hard time rationalizing their “beard” theory with, it’s Taylor Swift, who, apart from being a public celebrity herself, tends to couch all the gruesome details of her relationships in the song lyrics for her next album after she’s said goodbye. As a conspirators’ choice for keeping things under wraps, Swift would be the absolute worst.

    Swift’s relentlessly heteronormative pop-country ballads would be the perfect complement to  the tinhatters’ relentlessly homophobic insistence on reading everything Harry and Larry do, say, and wear as being “gay.” Not to mention, Swift alreadyhas song lyrics where she jokes about telling all her friends her ex is gay. The whole scenario feels like the setup for an unsubtle afterschool special about tolerance—or perhaps like a country song aimed at teenage girls and horrible ex-boyfriends.

    So, what will Swift’s next album look like if she breaks things off with Styles? Probably something like this:

    The Top Five Songs Taylor Swift Will Inevitably Write About One Direction Fandom:

    1)  “Wrong Direction.” Although we know Taylor Swift reps for fans everywhere, we still hope she’ll dish out the scathing invectives the people already sending her death threats so rightfully deserve.

    2) “Third Wheel.” If the Larry fans get lucky and Styles and Tomlinson actually do ever come out of the closet, it’s a certainty that Swift’s poison pen will have plenty of snarky lyrics to write about becoming an accidental beard.  

    3) “Time to Jump Ship.” In the event that Swift and Styles get serious and stay together for a while, she’ll have to put up with the kind of regular insults that will make her entitled to a little gloating at the expense of fans who “ship” her and Styles with other people.

    4) “An Ass of U and Me.” And everyone else, for that matter.

    5) “Three’s Company.” As Swift, a longtime fangirl herself, may already be aware, fandom loves to solve the problem of a love triangle with a good threesome. But can she stop herself from penning the details later?

    We hope she doesn’t!

    Photo via flawlessswift / Deviantart

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    Facebook’s “I’m Voting” app was credited in a study with convincing 340,000 Americans to vote in 2010, and the social network brought it back for 2012’s national elections. Although we don’t yet know what effect Facebook had on voter turnout this year, the social network has released some interesting facts about which Facebook users carried out their civic duty.

    The findings were published last Friday in a note authored by Eytan Bakshy, a member of Facebook’s Data Science Department. Of the roughly 168 million Facebook users in the United States, 9 million used the app to declare their intention of voting.

    According to the study, more women than men reported that they were voting. As Bakshy points out, however, this doesn’t mean that females are more politically engaged than their male counterparts. Instead, it’s reflective of the fact that women are more willing to share on Facebook than men.

    “The answer is much simpler: as shown in the chart [below], women are disproportionately more likely to share in general on Facebook. Compared to comments, likes, and status updates, voting has the same amount of gender imbalance as we see in other forms of communication.”

    It wasn’t just women who were more forthcoming with their information than their counterparts. Liberals— those whose declared political affiliation ranges from “very liberal” to “Democratic”— voted at a higher rate.

    Chart via Facebook

    The numbers also showed that close to half of those who used the “I voted” app, 46.6 percent, did so via their mobile device. This is surely good news for Facebook, which recently renewed its focus on mobile after smartphone users helped the company increase its revenue by 32 percent in the third quarter.

    The researchers also looked at how fans of various celebrities on Facebook voted. According to the data collected, those who liked First Lady Michelle Obama were more likely to click the voting button than those who have declared themselves fans of the Jersey Shore’s Snooki.

    Chart via Facebook

    Bakshy wrote that people who liked black celebrities voted at higher rates than those who liked other celebs, a reflection of “the excitement and high levels of turnout seen in African-American communities in [the] election.”
    That argument is tenuous at best given that the Hispanic vote played a prominent role in the election, yet those who liked Latino celebrities were amongst the least likely to click the “I voted” button.

    Perhaps the most curious data reported from the study was “Facebook Turnout based on Liking a Non-Human Entity.” Unsurprisingly, those who liked “Binders Full of Women” and “Big Bird” on the social network clicked the “I voted” button more than those who liked Hello Kitty and Scooby-Doo. The former two became memes thanks to mentioned by Mitt Romney in the presidential debates.

    Chart via Facebook

    Photo via michaeljzealot/Flickr

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    While visiting Arlington National Cemetery last month, Lindsey Stone thought it would be amusing to snap a photo of herself "disrespecting" the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by flipping it off and pretending to make noise.

    She later uploaded the photo to her Facebook page, thinking her friends would get a kick out of it as well.

    To her chagrin, many of the comments she received were decidedly unsupportive of her shenanigans, so she decided to try and nip the outrage in the bud by posting a mea culpa of sorts.

    "Whoa whoa whoa... wait," Stone wrote on October 20th. "This is just us, being the douchebags that we are, challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign. OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to people that serve or have served our country."

    The uproar seemed to die down for a minute, but soon enough the photo found its way to someone with enough time to take the indignation to the next level.

    A Facebook page called "Fire Lindsey Stone" was created less than a day ago and has already amassed over 4,000 likes. Started by a former servicemember, the page calls for Stone to be terminated from her job at LIFE, a Cape Cod-based nonprofit that houses adults with learning disabilities.

    "Let her employer know how much of a waste of oxygen this disrespectful person is," wrote the page's creator, who notes that Stone's trip to Arlington National Cemetery was paid for by the organization.

    Unable to ignore the flood of comments from irate anti-Lindsey Stone activists, LIFE released the following statement a few minutes ago:

    On Nov. 19 at approximately 6 p.m., we became aware that one of our employees had posted an offensive, inappropriate photograph on her personal Facebook page. The photo was taken at a national historic site in October by a fellow employee during a trip to Washington, D.C. attended by 40 residents and eight staff. The photo has since been removed from Facebook, and both employees have been placed on unpaid leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

    This photograph in no way reflects the opinions or values of the LIFE organization, which holds our nation's veterans in the highest regard. We are proud to have veterans serving on our staff and board of trustees, and we value their service. The men and women who have selflessly fought and sacrificed their lives to protect the rights and lives of Americans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. We are acutely aware that this photo has done a disservice to veterans and we are deeply saddened that it was taken and shared in a public medium.

    The most important question that must now be asked is "does Lindsey Stone deserve to have her future employment imperiled — at LIFE or elsewhere — because of an admittedly dumb photo posted in jest on her personal Facebook page?"

    On Fark, where the topic has incited heated debate, one user decried America's "out of control military worship." Another user retorted that it wasn't military worship "to show a little goddamn respect once in a while."

    Meanwhile, Stone has deleted all of her Facebook posts save for a few friend requests. It seems unlikely that she will issue another statement, but, at this point, would the Internet even care what she had to say?

     By Neetzan Zimmerman; photo via wizbang

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    GUYS, people make fun of trend stories in newspapers and The New York Times is ON IT.

    The Grey Lady is fine with you making fun of it, as long as you don’t use its distinctive “T” logo in your avatar. Popular parody @NYTOnIt—whose tweets all start with “GUYS” and end with “The Times is ON IT”—found that out Monday evening, as it was temporarily suspended from Twitter after the newspaper complained about the account.

    The Twitter account, which mocks trend stories the NYT covers, planked a Scumbag Steve-style cap on top of the “T” lettering for its avatar.

    The NYT took exception to the image and filed a complaint with Twitter, Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter. She added that the paper was “not seeking to disable the account however it is important to The Times that our copyright is protected.” Murphy later clarified she meant “trademark” instead of “copyright,” a fact which again raises the question: should the Times be a truth vigilante?)

    The author of @NYTOnIt, Benjamin Kabak, regained access Tuesday after an appeal, though the account is missing the avatar which caused the kerfuffle and Kabak is looking for help in finding a replacement image.

    What’s next? @nytimes_ebooks? @nytfridge? @NYTPrepositions? Are we just going to keep asking questions of the NYTà la that Guy Fieri restaurant review?

    Photo by alextorrenegra/Flickr

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    Murray Lipp doesn’t have the power of President Barack Obama, the swagger of Brad Pitt, or the name recognition of Madonna, but he’s arguably on the short list of social influencers leading the march toward marriage equality in America.

    Lipp, 36, created the Facebook group Gay Marriage USA (GMUSA), the social-networking site’s most-liked page on the subject. He leads his rainbow-hued 280,000-strong mass with a breathlessly updated stream of marriage announcements, hot topics, and call-to-action posts.

    “I really put my passion out there for all to see and I am emotionally invested in the cause/issue,” Lipp wrote to the Daily Dot. “There is no mystery how I feel about things and that is made clear in my editorial comments.”

    The page doesn’t exist as a “feel good project” to improve his influence, Lipp said, quite the contrary.

    “In reality, a lot of people in the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual] world are not connected with traditional LGBT advocacy organizations and in that regard they are sometimes ‘out of the loop’ about what is happening on a day to day basis in regards to the fight for equality,” said Lipp, a social worker who received his master’s degree from New York University in 2008.

    GMUSA fills that niche. The freedom of being independent from a nonprofit organization, like GLAAD, also allows greater editorial flexibility.

    “I am free to post and promote material from a broad range of organizations and sources and can thereby disseminate a lot of information to a wide audience on a regular basis. Mostly I stay up to date on current news and issues and tap into those issues and events that I think people will most want to engage with,” he said, adding that pictures of marriage couples perform well. “People really enjoy seeing those images.”

    With a tone that’s equally conversational and provocative, GMUSA provides a safe environment for allies and gay people to discuss the oft-controversial topic. Since the group’s creation in July 2011, Lipp has tallied up thousands of conversations, ranging from proactive to the mundane. Notably, Lipp doesn’t outright ban members who are openly opposed to gay marriage, only those who use homophobic comments.

    “Occasionally,” Lipp said, “it’s constructive to allow people who don’t support equality to share their point of view just so we can see their thought patterns and challenge the flaws in their thinking.”

    Prior to Lipp tackling the issue at a national level, he started with Gay Marriage for New York, a Facebook group that according to him, was highly influential in legalizing same-sex marriage in the state in July 2011.

    The success of that page—and the support from his fans—inspired him to create GMUSA shortly after New York’s decision, expanding his horizons to approach the issue from a national perspective. While it’s difficult to measure the impact of the GMUSA on the results, Lipp took obvious pride in the Nov. 6 ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, and Washington that helped legalize gay marriage in those states, calling it a “key turning point” for LGBT equality.

    “My experience with that page showed me how important it is to provide people with an online meeting point to share ideas and build enthusiasm about marriage equality activism,” said Lipp.

    “The tired, outdated and dishonest anti-equality campaigns pushed by our opponents just don’t work anymore, and I think their message of discrimination will become even more and more unpalatable as time goes on. We now have both time and history on our side.”

    And 280,000 Facebook fans.

    Photo via ChangePress/YouTube

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