Donna Meagle, Prophetess of the Pacific*

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I’ve known for a while now that Donna Meagle is somewhat familiar with the Pacific Ocean — after all, she told us back in Season 5 that she owns a condo in Seattle (because she likes “the rain and the fish markets”). But I had no idea the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department employee knows it well enough to predict its future.

This past Monday, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan must end it “scientific” whaling program:

Or, if you prefer a more measured take:

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Are Facebook’s relationship status options a little bit sexist?

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[Editor's note: Granted, everyone's a little bit sexist. But because the headline might imply otherwise, I should really tell you upfront I'm only talking about one of them.]

Facebook made a lot of headlines today with the announcement that it will now allow its users to choose from among fifty different descriptors of gender:

In a nod to the “it’s complicated” sexual identities of many of its users, the social network on Thursday added a third “custom” gender option for people’s profiles. In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”

[Editor's note: Gender fluid certainly does sound like it would go nicely with a seafood dinner and a box of chocolate.]

The new options appear to be quite progressive, but is Facebook really just trying to cover up some of the other ways in which it is insensitive to gender differences? Just take a look at the various relationship statuses from which the service asks its users to choose:

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Complete guide to spelling the holiday

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While some are looking to tomorrow’s special event as some sign of apocalypse, I’d be the first to admit that I’m pretty excited for the coincidence of Thanksgiving and Chanuka. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by encroaching upon its native turf? (Zing.)

This post was prompted by a recent email that turned up in my inbox, with a deceptively-simple subject line — one word: “Thanksgivikah.” I didn’t think much of it as I got to typing my reply, but the moment I pressed send, I noticed something a little off. You see, I had concluded my email in kind, by wishing the recipient a “Happy Thanksgivvukah!” and couldn’t help but do a double-take at my own spelling of the word: Two v’s? That couldn’t possibly be right.

Or could it?

Two years ago, this blog thoroughly covered the debate over the proper spelling of Hanuka/Chanuka/Hanukah/Chanukah/Hanukkah/Chanukkah/Hanukka/Chanukka in a post titled Google’s War on ‘Chanuka’. One of the highlights of that post was Avidan Ackerson’s deterministic finite automaton that helped define all of the possibilities (for Google to declare war against).

This year, Avidan and I have again teamed up to compile all the possible spellings of the seemingly-simple but deceptively-diverse portmanteau of Thanksgiving and Chanuka. Behold, DFA v2.013:

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Sharks prefer men – so why did this one attack a woman?

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Judging by the reaction to Sharknado, people on the internet really like sharks. And while I don’t normally write for anyone but myself, I’m going to make an exception for the sake of making a truly tasteless* “joke.” OK, so I guess I am still writing for myself.

*1. Pun intended. 2. You’ve been warned.

A teenager was attacked and killed Monday by a shark off the coast of Brazil near Recife. She was in the process of drowning when the shark decided to lend her a hand… by biting off her leg. Per Newser:

It’s hard to imagine a worse way to die: Bruni Gobbi was drowning, with lifeguards on their way to help the 18-year-old and her cousin on Monday, when a shark attacked. It bit Gobbi’s left leg, and though rescuers were able to get her ashore, she died that night at a hospital, CNN reports. The Daily Mail adds that her leg was amputated before her death, but she had lost too much blood. Gobbi and her cousin were swimming at Boa Viagem beach in Recife, Brazil, at the time.

“The rescuers came in a matter of five minutes, but to us it felt like five years,” the cousin tells a local CNN affiliate. “We knew there were risks of an attack, but I didn’t think that it would happen in the shallow [water], but in the deep.”

I would quibble over the claim that it’s hard to imagine worse ways to die (there’s always ebola), but as things go, this one is pretty horrific. And I recognize that. Which is why I’m also aware that the remainder of this post is way over the fishing line. But the Newser article went on to share a curious statistic I was drawn to like a shark after blood — and quite frankly, I couldn’t help myself:

Such attacks aren’t exactly rare in the area: In the past two decades, about 23 people have been attacked off Boa Viagem beach. Gobbi is the first woman to die from an attack in the state of Pernambuco during that period. Officials believe she was attacked by a bull shark.

Apparently, Brazilian sharks have a preference for men — just like Brazilian piranhas.

I find the existence of sex preferences surprising. Gun to my head, I’d have guessed sharks find women tastier (and I’d have been totally wrong). Indeed, it’s unlikely sharks find people all that tasty to begin with, meaning that the question of Why hangs over just about every shark attack.

So what prompted this shark to gobble up Gobbi? My theory: a case of mistaken identity by a really bad speller:

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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement widens in scope

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Another roadblock (pun intended?) on the way to my post on The Hunger Games.

I think mentioning that I want to write about The Hunger Games at the beginning of every post is good motivation for actually writing it. Of course, it might also set really high expectations when what I have to say turns out to not really have been all that insightful.

Anyway, the inspiration for this post came from anonymous (yes, the international hacktivist syndicate), who forwarded me a pair of letters addressed to the editor of the Morning Star (I’d never heard of it either). The letters were cute, so here goes:

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