Something good came out of that Olympic moment of silence controversy

Athens_Opening_Ceremony_02_Fire_Rings
Standard

I was recently talking to someone about this blog, and he said one thing that stuck with me – something like but not necessarily, “It’s hard to believe you write the blog. You seem like such a nice guy in real life, but online, you’re such a critic.” And I get it: it’s easier to tear things down than build them up, and — since I often choose the former route — it’s possible I don’t always come off as the nicest guy online.

But though that may be the rule, every rule has its exception (except Godwin’s), and in this post I mean to draw your attention to an instance in which Paper Treiger served to unite rather than destroy.

You may recall when, in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, a brief controversy erupted over whether the IOC ought to hold a moment of silence in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympics, which saw 11 members of the Israeli delegation killed by the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.

The controversy created a minor debate in the Jewish blogosphere. Some, like Deborah E. Lipstadt, forcefully argued that the IOC was wrong to deny this request. After all, London was permitted to honor the victims of the 7/7 subway victims, an event which had absolutely nothing to do with the Olympics (save its location), while the tragedy in Munich had occurred inside the Olympic village. Others, like noted pro-Palestinian activist and sometimes terrorist sympathizer Elisheva N. Goldberg responded that the IOC ought not to hold the moment of silence at the opening ceremony because the IOC President held a separate commemorative ceremony elsewhen.

Meanwhile on Paper Treiger, I thought that the two sides were arguing for absolutely no purpose. Whether or not the IOC decided to hold a moment of silence was irrelevant, because such a commemoration could never be enforced in practice. I’m not going to rehash the post’s entire argument – if you want to see how I imagined the moment of silence would play out, see What would happen if the IOC actually held a moment of silence for the 1972 Munich Massacre? – but I do want to draw your attention to the effect it had: it brought the two warring factions into agreement.

And I only just learned this fact.

I recently searched Twitter for “Paper Treiger” – you know, a blog vanity search. It was the first time I had ever done this, so I found myself scrolling back pretty far in time. And when I got to July 2012, I came upon something amazing:

Continue reading

Just to put Iraq in some perspective

mideast-iraq-on-this-site
Standard

This is what the front page of Huffington Post looks like right now:

Huffpo - Iraq is Hell

I was curious to see what the hell hell looks like — in a statistical sense — so I decided to do some back-of-the envelope calculations. I started by Googling the population of Iraq, and immediately ran into an obvious problem: the casualty rates are from May 2013, while the most recent numbers date back to 2011 — and especially given their trajectory, I’m almost certain that figure is no longer accurate:

Continue reading

The most vindictive website. ever.

yahoo logo
Standard

Yahoo! just made a big move, snapping up Tumblr for $1.1 billion, and is reportedly looking to make a play for Hulu as well. People in some quarters are… concerned, to say the least. This post won’t do much to ease their concerns.

I was looking for an article I read last week about Tumblr and social media statistics and whatever, it doesn’t matter what I was doing, the point is Google led me to an article written originally for the Atlantic Wire, Teens Are This Excited About Yahoo! Buying Tumblr, that is the subject of this post. Except that it wasn’t published in the Atlantic Wire: the version Google took me to had been picked up Yahoo! news.

So before I show you what happens to the work of Atlantic Wire when you read it on Yahoo!, let me show you what it was supposed to look like, as displayed on the Atlantic’s original website. Here’s the relevant excerpt (pay special attention to what comes immediately after “This one is a personal favorite”):

Continue reading

You should be terrified of the Skagit River bridge collapse even if you don’t live in Washington

Bridge
Standard

I’m going to keep this one brief because I should be finishing up a paper and am instead writing this post.

I’m currently on a short vacation in Colorado with three friends from in and around New York. We spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park, and plan to do so again tomorrow. This evening, as we were eating dinner, one girl got a call from her mom, who told her that a bridge collapsed near Seattle and wanted to be sure we were all safe.

We’re all safe.*

But you might not be: the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River did not come entirely as a surprise. Just two days ago, the Seattle chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report on bridges Washington. Noting that there are nearly 400 “structurally-deficient” bridges throughout the state, it awarded them a C-.

C- is pretty bad. I mean, you know all about grade inflation: nobody gets below a B anymore.** We knew bridges in Washington were terrible, and now one of them collapsed. How can anyone be surprised? Is this even news?

As it turns out, the American Society of Civil Engineers — the same organization that graded Washington bridges two days ago — also just released a report card for United States infrastructure as a whole. It awarded us a D+.

Uh oh.

Continue reading

The Craziest F#?king Peach I’ve Ever Seen

peach
Standard

Michael Pollan has famously* suggested avoiding “food products that contain more than five ingredients.” So he would surely love this definition of “Peaches”, from a container of Peach-flavored frozen Greek yogurt:

Continue reading

McDonald’s might want to rethink this particular promotional strategy

ramsey
Standard

The victims of the Cleveland kidnapping have — mercifully — been mostly kept from cameras and the public eye, and so in their absence, the country has fixated on the hero, Charles Ramsey:

Continue reading

Is Michael Scott haunting the Daily Show?

carell
Standard

The Office is set to air its final installment ten days from today, and the show’s creators intend to turn that last hurrah into a reunion episode. Though Steve Carell/Michael Scott is not currently scheduled to participate, speculation is rampant that he might make an unexpected appearance.

Meanwhile, another former employer of Mr. Carell’s doesn’t have to worry about when its former reporter will make an unexpected appearance: the Daily Show still enjoys the presence of his spirit — or, at least, Michael Scott’s — eight years after he left the show.

I present select [images of] footage from last Thursday’s two-segment series, Zero Dark 900,000:

Continue reading