Of Mad and Men

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I love Mad Men. I love coincidences. What could be better than the two coinciding? The two coinciding twice! I’ll start with the more recent:

♦   Yesterday, I had a conversation with [redacted] concerning the show’s March 25 return. [Redacted] was surprised I knew of it, since the announcement was made on January 11 (when I was in Israel and offline), so I showed her the Huffington Post article that had tipped me off to the date of return. The article itself dealt with the show’s controversial new advertising campaign: posters depicting the falling man from the show’s opening credits.

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A reminder that, more often than not, journalists don’t really know what they’re talking about: Passover edition

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I write this post from the comfort of a Philadelphia-to-New York BoltBus (on which I have successfully achieved the holy trinity: a working plug, wifi, and empty seats on every side*). That means my short time at Penn has officially drawn to a close – but not before I had the opportunity to enjoy one last article in The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The article in question graced the front cover of today’s paper, and deals with an issue of paramount importance: ‘Passover and Fling to coincide‘**. The DP could have written the headline and called it quits, but someone thought it would be a good idea to go ahead, interview some people, and write a whole article to go along with it.

That someone was wrong.

You see, The Daily Pennsylvanian employs copy-editors. And those copy-editors did a fine job ensuring that the article was typo-free, conformed to the stylebook, and so on. But because The Daily Pennsylvanian is not the New Yorker, those copy-editors are not also expert fact-checkers. To be fair, neither was necessary in this case: any observant Jew would have done nicely.

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turn [my vocal cords] to stone

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I’m in the midst of visiting Penn for the first time in almost exactly a year, and as anyone who attended the school knows, one of the great pleasures of such a visit is surely reading The Daily Pennsylvanian - in the flesh. It is in this way that I came across this gem of an excerpt from Wednesday’s edition, ‘Operation Ivy League’ ends with Columbia student arrest (note: the headline is singular, but the url ends with an ‘s’. Get it together, DP):

“There is not even [a] kind of a drug ring at Penn. That would be ridiculous,” said a male student who sells marijuana. He wished to remain anonymous due to the legal implications of the act.

It is also in this way that I came across Tuesday’s opinion column by Robert Hsu, decrying the state of the music industry today: Why music has hit a low note: Artists today have forgotten the true meaning of music. The article itself does not strike any particularly original tropes (“Music today has reached an all-time low… Cliche lyrics glorifying sex, drugs and alcohol plague the work of many artists…” you get the idea), but it did leave out one of my favorite phenomena in ‘music today’: songs that their creators don’t even try to perform live.

To be fair, many artists create music with the aid of technology – but I’m not talking about Imogen Heap, who is fully capable of practicing her craft in real time (that link is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it done). Instead, consider my dear best cousin’s doppelgoyer, Ellie Goulding. More specifically, compare the radio version of Lights to its live counterpart:

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Israel & the Media, or A few likely unrelated issues I hastily attempt to put into some context while using the free internet at Ben Gurion

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You may recall Nicolas Sarkozy’s open-mic dis (‘liar’) of Bibi way back in November. Well, Netanyahu had a bit of an awkward media leak of his own in recent weeks.

Take it away, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde:

‘You know, Steve, we have two main enemies’… And I thought he was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas. He said it’s The New York Times and Haaretz. He said they set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in The New York Times and Haaretz.

Both Bibi and Linde are now backtracking on the story, but the fact that it was reported as plausible speaks volumes. It is against the backdrop of these circumstances that I relate the following anecdote:

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Alcohol.edu short enough for you to pay attention to

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As has been related elsewhere, the frequency with which I post is directly proportionate to the degree to which I have nothing better to do. While staffing My Bus (/Best Bus/Drunk Bus) for Birthright over the past few weeks, I’ve had many better things to do. Lucky for you (not so much for me), that period of my life is now drawing to a close, and I suddenly have some free time on my hands.

Speaking of Drunk Bus, my new-found free time allowed me to come across this week-and-a-half-old blog post describing research on excessive drinking in America. Here’s something I thought worth sharing:

Older people tend to binge-drink more frequently than the young … Although only about 4 percent of people 65 and older report regular binge drinking, these older adults drink excessively an average of 5.5 times a month, making the 65-and-over crowd the group that binge-drinks most frequently.

While I may not have expected that, it was another item toward the bottom of the post that caught my eye. Some of it, I could explain; one part, I could not. Let’s start with the things that make sense:

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Wet Hot American Senate

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When the New York Times publishes an article entitled Study Says Looks Matter as TV Covers Congress, it’s sort of begging for my two cents. So take it away, paper of record:

Two Israeli professors concluded that members whom a student survey judged to be better looking appeared more frequently on television — but not radio or in newspapers. The researchers argued that the networks were trying to attract larger audiences.

Of course, this report continues a recent trend of Israelis meddling in American politics, but we’ll leave that more serious discussion for another day – or another blog. In the meantime, I just want to talk about attractive congressmen – and congresswomen.

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Paranoia doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t really out to get you

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While exploring my Timeline to make sure there was nothing I needed to remove before it went live (there wasn’t, and I’m still not sure why I ever thought there might be), I came across the following:

Facebook’s determination that the posts in question were related to my birthday surprised me for three reasons. Let’s consider each in turn.

For one, the actual content of the posts is entirely unrelated to my birthday.

This has an easy explanation. Consider the Newsfeed formula ‘[x] friends wrote on [y]‘s wall for his/her/their* birthday.’ Now consider the ways Facebook could have gone about programming this. Maybe it scans for ‘Happy Birthday’ – but that could be confusing because people don’t always spell correctly. Perhaps it looks for exclamation points – but not everyone is a fan. Coming up with a reliable method must have taken some serious thought on the part of Mark Zuckerberg.

*Facebook’s willingness to resort to ‘their’ has always irked me. Irked!

All a waste of time. Consider this actual screenshot from my timeline:

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