Airport spas now drawing inspiration from crazy Nepali truckers

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Trucks in Nepal are a lot more personalized than they are in the United States. Here, the degree to which trucks vary from one another is helpful only if you’re playing the license plate game on a long road trip. But in Nepal, studying trucks can make for a good way to keep entertained under any circumstances.

I’ve previously shared one of my favorites, courtesy of Michael Grumer:

Punk is not dead
Relax.
Be relax.
Do relax.
Sexy, sexy, sexy.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across the following in Boston’s Logan Airport:

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Does Facebook intentionally limit who you can love?

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I have better things to be doing, and I’m really behind on a lot of serious topics I want to write about, but Facebook doesn’t give its users fifty six different ways to describe their gender identity every day. My first pass, titled Are Facebook’s relationship status options a little bit sexist?, garnered the following comment on — appropriately enough — Facebook:

Let’s be real here: what the author’s upset about is the third gender, and is using the widow thing as a pretense B)

I wasn’t sure if this was a fair characterization, so I took the opportunity to interview the author and evaluate his true intentions for myself. As it turns out, the widow thing was, indeed, a pretense – however, the commenter got the rest of his/her/variant assertion wrong. The author is not upset that Facebook added a “third” gender — assuming he is “upset” at all — but simply miffed that the service deigned to limit its options to a mere fifty six.

Since when does Mark Zuckerberg get off on being the arbiter of what qualifies as a legitimate gender identity? The author’s point, he told me, is that if Facebook can give fifty six options for gender, why not do the same for relationship statuses? Better, why straightjacket us into those preselected categories? Why not just let everyone choose whatever the hell gender they want?

In the course of our interview, the author admit that he felt a shred of remorse about the article — not because he felt it belittled or diminished the tremendous achievement of the gender-interested community, but because his focus on relationship statuses as a foil to gender was a strategic and rhetorical blunder. A better option would have been to highlight the strict binary Facebook foists upon its users when it comes to their sexual preferences:

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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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Sports magazines can also fail at Photoshop

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[I wrote this post about two months ago and completely forgot to publish it. But then I spotted this article about Jennifer Lawrence and was inspired to get on it.]

I’ve been visiting Huffington Post fairly regularly for about half a decade, and in that time, I’ve managed to catch onto certain staples in the website’s coverage. By way of limited example: there’s a weird fascination with “sideboob”,* there’s wall-to-wall coverage of Rachel Maddow’s every move, and there’s a substantial compendium of “Photoshop fails.”

*As noted in New York Magazine’s excellent coverage of Columbus’ arrival in America.

In a typical article showcasing such “fails”, Huffington Post highlights magazine covers or advertisements that have quite clearly and egregiously edited their subjects, often to the point of grotesque impossibility. It almost goes without saying that in almost every instance, the offending magazine is a fashion magazine, and the Photoshop victim is female: One lady’s missing an arm. Another gal’s got no leg. Sometimes, it’s less innocuous: someone slimmed the girl down and she ends up looking like an eel. I could go on, or you could just check out the ENTIRE SECTION of Huffington Post dedicated to documenting such incidents.

On top of the schaadenfreude – we simply like to see others fail – the series has an inherent element of absurdity: the models are typically quite attractive, and probably would be whether they had been photoshopped or not.

But if you think this phenomenon is somehow sexist, or the exclusive domain of Vogue or Marie Claire, think again. Because, as it turns out, ESPN: The Magazine can be just as guilty of needlessly photoshopping its subjects. Check out this cover photo of Russell Wilson that appeared during the NFL pre-season:

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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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Three lawsuits in the news and why they’re really so silly

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Some lawsuits are a good idea. Some are not. This post is about three that have been in the news and that are not. None seemed worth a post on its own, but now that I have a little collection going, here we go:

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Kate Taylor’s piece about hook-ups on Penn’s campus eerily reminiscent of her own life

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Kate Taylor published a long piece in the New York Times this weekend, and because it was written about Penn, I haven’t been able to escape it. It’s everywhere:

Apparently, over the past year, so was Kate. According to one account by a current student, Taylor was a “ubiquitous campus figure — spotted at bars, at frat parties, [and] at downtown clubs.” The author used these opportunities to conduct a series of focus groups and interviews for the sake of vindicating her main thesis: that women are important drivers of “hook-up” culture at Penn.

Of course, what better place than the home of Wharton to turn up gems like these:

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One man’s robbery by skinny-dipper is another man’s chance to make a baseball joke

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Back in the 1990s, there was a player on the Mariners named Rich Amaral. Chances are you haven’t heard of him, because he wasn’t very good — according to Fangraphs, he finished as an above-average hitter exactly once, in 1996, when he performed at 101% of the league average — and mainly because he spent 8 of his 10 major league seasons playing for Seattle. But he was on the Mariners when I became a fan, he was part of the team’s magical 1995 run, and he was always around, so I remember him — and fondly, at that.

[Update, 7/12: In case you think I'm making it up, the day after writing this post, I listened to the 7/9 Lookout Landing Podcast and heard the following: "I think everybody has a healthy bit of disdain for every bit of crappiness that [former [Update, 12/3: current] Mariner Willie] Bloomquist had, but it’s something kind of unspoken that now he’s gone and it’s all forgiven. It’s kind of like Rich Amaral, who was basically a big piece of shit when he was here, and he was a terrible player, but we all kind of look back on Rich Amaral fondly.”]

But don’t worry: this isn’t a post about Rich Amaral. Instead, it’s a story about a guy named Stephen Amaral who got robbed blind — pun intended. Summary via Newser:

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Elisheva Goldberg: evolution of an anti-Israel activist

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What’s that terrorist-sympathizing cousin of mine been up to? Would you believe it, something Jewish — sort of.

Dear Ollis Shvoonkels spent her 17 Tammuz, like me, observing the fast — and incorporating the event into her writing:

Today is the 17th day of Tammuz, a fast day for observant Jews, one which marks the day the walls of Jerusalem fell. It’s a sad day, one that begins the three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. These weeks, and especially fast days that bookend them, are about remembering the experience of loss. Losing a place, a tradition, a way of life. They are hard, they are long, and they are why I decided to go to the South Hebron Hills today, to a place known as “Firing Zone 918.”

The gathering was organized by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Breaking the Silence, among others. And it was an answer to the rallying cry of a group of Israeli authors who had signed a letter penned by one of their number—David Grossman—who called to all “those who are still able to listen” to “do something to bend back the occupation’s giant, cruel hand,” this time in Firing Zone 918.

You can head over the Zion Square [sic] to read the whole thing.

None of this would be noteworthy — Goldberg’s daily occupation, if you will[, it is no dream] – had her latest expression of anti-Israel sentiment [bolded, as usual] not helped her acquire a brand new friend. Fellow travelers, if you will[, it is no dream]:

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The most annoying thing about Dove’s “Real” Beauty Sketches

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By now, you’ve seen — or at least heard about — the Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign that made the rounds a few weeks ago. In case you didn’t, the following video is what the rest of this post is about, so check it:

[Editor's note: above is the full, six-minute version. There is also a three-minute version, with over ten times as many hits as of the time of this writing. I included the six-minute version for the sake of completeness.]

After watching the video for the first time last Thursday [it got lost in a sea of open tabs/general apathy], I knew something about the ad bothered me. I did a few googles to see if anyone had quite put a finger on what rubbed me the wrong way, and when they turned up nothing, I decided to write it up myself. And so, I proudly present my personal contribution to a long line of Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign critics.

To get you caught up, here’s a distilled sample of what other people didn’t like about it [every word in that sentence links to a different critical article]:

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