November 2013 in Review

This past month, two of the greatest music videos in history were put out – Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone gets a multi-channel video 48 years after the song’s release and Pharrell gives us a 24 hour video to Happy. In other music video news, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is featured in a music video which kinda feels like will.i.am’s 2008 Obama video.

Researchers at Cornell University accidentally destroyed more than $200,000 of horse semen by using a defective cryogenic storage tank. According to the US government, you do not own your smartphone upon purchasing it. There is a high school football team in Arkansas that never punts. Compton has a cricket club, and they even had tea with the Prince of England. Officials in Beijing are fighting air pollution by destroying barbeques.

The ACLU of Colorado released a documentary on Sam Mendez, a man who wrongfully spent half his life in prison (15 in solitary confinement), for a murder that he supposedly committed when he was 14 years old. More than 70% of Walmart’s employees will be working on Thanksgiving. Walmart decided to help out its less fortunate employees by holding a food drive. Americans are driving much less, and it’s not because of the economic downturn. Seattle elected a socialist to its city council. A sperm whale exploded.

The General Synod of the Church of England voted in favor of ordaining women bishops by 2014. Islamists in Turkey think about sex – a lot. People living in diverse communities do not trust one another. Rihanna rocked a doobie at the American Music Awards.

J.P. Morgan agreed to pay the US Government $13.1 billion in the largest settlement in US history. Magnus Carlsen of Norway becomes the new world champion of chess and attains the highest international rating ever. After learning that an ad of theirs featuring a man in a turban had been vandalized with racist graffiti, GAP placed his image as their new Twitter background.

Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fell on the same day, and this is supposedly bad for Jews and everybody else. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford might smoke crack (only when he gets wasted though) but his city still loves him, or maybe not.

 

 

 

 

May 2013 Takeaways

Selfish women, fatally unarmed, normal Americans, Arrested Development and creepy doll twins.

This month’s review is a bit different. Rather than a list of forgettable headlines juxtaposed with ridiculous stories, I share with you a few items from the concluding month that deserve a bit more attention.

Women breadwinners are destroying society.

The men at Fox News are shocked and appalled that in 40% of American families, women are now the breadwinners. To them, this is a sign that “society is dissolving” because “having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage”. This is yet another example of folks wishing they could go back and live in some sort of Norman Rockwell painting that never actually existed. God forbid they get a woman’s opinion on that panel.

Tsarnaev friend killed by the FBI was unarmed

Even if Ibragim Todashev was a murderer and/or terrorist, this shooting is cause for concern. He was shot seven times, once in the head. The FBI is conducting its own internal investigation while the Council of American-Islamic Relations is calling for an independent investigation. A lot more people should be asking questions when an unarmed man is shot seven times and killed. This is not an Islamic issue – it’s about the relationship between individuals and state authority. 

But where are you really from?

Most non-white people living in the US (the entire Western world even) have encountered this at some point or another. The most interesting thing about this video is the guy’s use of the word “regular American”. As the demographics of the US point towards a country without a majority race or ethnicity, it remains to be seen whether or not we will lose this idea of what it means to be normal.

A new media platform comes of age

It’s easy to take things for granted in the digital age. In a few years, we probably won’t think twice about Netflix as a producer of original content. When Arrested Development was cancelled several years ago, millions of its die-hard fans were hurt and confused. How could a show with such a loyal following get cancelled? Network television needs mass viewership, whereas Netflix has a different model – high quality niche products. The strangest thing about the new season is that all 15 episodes were released at once, which meant that fans could binge on them. It seems Netflix is trying to adapt to the needs of viewers who are already so accustomed to illegally streaming and downloading their shows all at once. Following the success of Lilyhammer, House of Cards and now Arrested Development (success measured by viewership, not reviews), expect many more shows from Netflix and other non-traditional companies.

American Girls dollsAMERICAN GIRLS

There have been creepy dolls before. There have been creepy little girls before. But when Ilona Szwarc decided to photograph girls with their customized lookalike dolls for the New Yorker, she, perhaps inadvertently, captured the creepiest combination of girl-doll imagery I have ever seen. I smell a slasher movie in the making. The full slideshow is available here.

Month in Review – April 2013

An Iraqi emigre is trying to restore an ancient swampland that was drained (destroyed) by Saddam Hussein. After single-handedly planting a 1,360 acre forest, in what was previously barren land in north east India over the course of the last three decades, Jadav Payeng announced that he would like to dedicate the next thirty years of his life to creating another forest.

A disproportionate number of American males between the ages of 28 and 38 are (and have always been) in love with Winnie Cooper. Roger Ebert passed away and many Americans learned that in spite of constantly hearing about his erect thumb, he was visceral (and funny) in his negative film reviews. This is a composite image of all 57 girlfriends that Jerry had during the nine seasons of Seinfeld.

Andrea Gjestvang was named the photographer of the year at the 2013 Sony World Photography Award for her work on the survivors of the shooting massacre on Utoeya Island, just outside of Oslo two summers ago. In South Carolina, a wallet was returned to its owner, 23 years after it was stolen.

A scholar at the University of Chicago thinks that the world would be a better place if there were no borders and people could move and live anywhere they wanted to. A Canadian scientist claims that eating boogers may be good for you. Parents in Berlin were upset and felt that their children’s first grade sex-ed book was too explicit. A dog in San Francisco can balance many things.

The Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States reminded Americans that the Czech Republic is not ChechnyaHow different would the national response have been had the Tsarnaevs used guns instead of bombs? Paranoia over the “outsider” is not new in America. At the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, an older and grayer President Obama joked  “I’m not the strapping young Muslim Socialist I used to be”.

The most prominent academic paper supporting the economic merits of fiscal austerity has been shown to contain crucial errors and omissionsPolice in Dubai now have Lamborghini and Ferrari police cars in their fleet. A man dressed as Spiderman stole a bag containing more than $6,000 in cash in Hollywood. An 80-year-old woman accidentally swallowed a $5,000 diamond at a charity event in Florida.

A man in California has discovered an almost perfectly preserved 14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger in his closet and has, so far, rejected bids of more than $2,000 to buy the burger, claiming that he wishes to hold on to it, for educational purposes. 

Month in Review: March 2013

The Mars Curiosity rover drilled into a rock and found clay – yet another sign that the planet had flowing water and conditions that were potentially life-sustaining. Topographical analysis had led scientists to believe that if there were oceans on Mars, the planet would look like this. A man in New Jersey was arrested for stealing 21 tons of cheese, with an estimated street value of $200,000.

The Euro is doomed – here’s why, in 4 steps. Bassem Youssef, the political satirist known as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, faces an arrest warrant for insulting the President Morsi and Islam. Google has released street-view images of Namie, an abandoned town of 21,000 (now zero) just north of the Fukushima nuclear incident. Rush Limbaugh has thoughts on Beyonce’s new song, and he’s not completely wrong. Tiger Woods is once again the number one ranked golfer in the world. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a picture with Shaq. Continue reading “Month in Review: March 2013”

Month in Review: February 2013

 A note to readers: the weekly reviews that I started posting in January were probably the most polarizing things I’ve written. Some of you loved them, some of you preferred the traditional narrative. In order to have fun with the format but not overdo it, I’ve decided to continue it as a monthly.

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American banks announced that 2012 was their second most profitable year ever. The Eurozone slid further into recession. Apple was denied the right the sell anything called “iPhone” in Brazil because a local company was already given the right to do so in 2008. Hillary Clinton stepped down as John Kerry became the new US Secretary of State. The Pope resigned.

A radical leftist group in Turkey bombed the US Embassy in Ankara resulting in the death of the bomber and a guard. A radical leftist group in Turkey apologized for injuring a journalist during its bombing of the US Embassy in Ankara.

At least two dozen people were killed when a truck carrying fireworks exploded on an elevated highway in China. Dozens of people died in a stampede at a railway station near the site of the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. The Government of India secretly executed a man. The rest of the world continued to be fascinated by the weather in New York City.

A meteor exploded in the atmosphere above the Russian town of Chelyabinsk. The rest of the world discovered why so many Russians have dashboard cameras in their cars. Millionaire Dennis Tito is looking for a married couple to train as astronauts in order to study sex in space. Continue reading “Month in Review: February 2013”

The Week that Was (Jan 14-20, 2013)

President Obama signed 23 Executive Actions on gun violence. Conservatives argued that rather than creating new gun laws, the government should enforce existing gun laws. A comic pointed out that we have laws in place to prevent the government from enforcing existing laws (and more). Your second amendment rights are just fine – all the other ones are under attack though.

Sonia Gandhi, the President of India’s Congress Party welcomed her son Rahul as the new Vice President. A former California middle school teacher who was fired when students discovered her pornographic work from years ago lost an appeal to get her job back, setting a precedent against those looking to escape their embarrassing but legal pasts. A woman in Washington has been charged with 2nd degree manslaughter for smothering her boyfriend to death with her breasts during intimacy.

The separatist insurgency in northern Mali entered into its second year with French troops joining several African states in support of the government. Several hundred people were taken hostage at a gas facility in Algeria by terrorists who are thought to be opposing the opening of Algerian airspace to French warplanes involved in the conflict in Mali – 23 hostages and 32 militants died. Afghan teen, Fawad Mohammadi, was reduced to tears upon learning that the film in which he acted (Buzkashi Boys) was nominated for an Oscar.

Grammarians agreed that people should stop using the word “they” as a singular pronoun. NASA just sent Mona Lisa to the Moon…with lasers! Scientology is a lot like communism. Anthropologists get pissed off at Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs and Steel fame) – maybe they’re just jealous. Kim Dotcom, the founder of the defunct web portal Megavideo has launched a new file sharing site that supposedly cannot be legitimately shut down by any government. Proposition Joe died.

Rumors that the age of innovation is dead have been greatly exaggerated. Television news is fast becoming the most dangerous extremist in Indian civil society. The attempted assassination of a Bulgarian politician was caught on tape. A Bulgarian man was given a beat down after failing to assassinate a Bulgarian politician. A bicyclist admitted to using drugs.

The Week that Was (Jan 8-14, 2013)

Nobel prize winning economist stated that Washington is too stupid to realize that the debt crisis has been mostly solved. Shortly after paying back a government loan of $182 billion, AIG said it may join a lawsuit against the government for being unfair when saving the company from bankruptcy. Jacky Chan called the US the most corrupt country in the world. President Obama would rather fight one duck-sized horse than 100 horse-sized ducks.

A man in California is contesting a traffic violation for riding alone in the carpool lane, asserting that the corporate documents in the passenger seat constituted a person under the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling. Ken Layne thinks Silicon Valley should be transformed into an urban paradise. The best aerial image of New York City ever has been identified.

A Swiss court has written off a family’s 655 year-old debt stemming from a murder committed by their ancestor in 1357. Italy’s right wing parties agreed that Silvio Berlusconi will not stand for the position of Prime Minister again. Rocks and petrol bombs were greeted by water cannons and rubber bullet as tensions between nationalists and loyalists continue to escalate in Belfast. There’s more to life than being happy.

Apple may drastically reduce prices in order to maintain market share in the face of competition from Samsung, Android and others. A 13-year-old Italian boy ran away from home and drove his father’s Mercedes to Poland in search of his birth family. A man in Oregon used his dreadlocks to choke his girlfriend.

A series of bombs killed nearly 100 people in the Pakistani city of Quetta. A French Soldier and 17 militants were killed in a failed attempt to rescue a French hostage in Somalia. Critics were unimpressed with the first official portrait of Princess Kate. In Australia, there was a snake on a plane.

Tensions flared between India and Pakistan after two Indian soldiers were killed and beheaded near the line of control separating the two countries. Near-earth asteroid 99942 Apophis passes close to the Earth. 24-year-old Brit Adam Paciti spent his last £500 on a billboard asking someone to employ him. A man named Kelly Hildebrandt and a woman named Kelly Hildebrandt filed for divorce in Texas.

Several residents of Norfolk Virginia called the police to report a baby lion on the loose, ruining the day of a Labrador poodle named Charles the Monarch. A record number of teens were arrested in Louisiana for whipping, the latest craze which involves rubbing ones penis on an object (and sharing said images on social networks). Police have urged residents to report any and all whipping incidents to the Whipping Hotline at (785) 273-0325.