Facebook censorship of Israeli nudity lays bare (pun intended) unfortunate double standard

standing with idf men sample

Shortly after publishing my previous post, Draconian Facebook censorship may have saved Israelis from themselves, I made two important discoveries.

One, that the creators of “Standing with the IDF” (a misleading name, if I’ve ever heard one, given the various states of repose exhibited within) are optimistic their page will be restored soon (במהרה בימינו): Continue reading

Draconian Facebook censorship may have saved Israelis from themselves

Stand with IDF sample image

[Update: Part II can be found here.*]

Israel’s “Facebook generation” is at war in Gaza, or so we are told. And indeed, Israeli soldiers have landed in hot water in the past based on what they chose to upload to the social media site from their bases.

But this time around, it’s not just members of the IDF who are under scrutiny. That much became apparent after the infamous “Sderot cinema” controversy portrayed the residents of the embattled border town like the residents of Washington, D.C. at the Battle of Bull Run. This time, the entire country is fair game not just to Hamas rockets but to the forces of political correctness and the accompanying battle for international hearts and minds.

So I am happy to report Facebook might have just saved the entire country from some embarrassment.

Last week at work, I came across an article on The Times of Israel titled “Israeli women do Gaza strip for IDF”. The headline doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but I was interested enough to learn more that I saved the link for later (remember, I was at work and had no intention of actually investigating while there).

This evening, I attempted to revisit the page and was surprised to discover that while its text remains available, the source material is not:

Continue reading

Airport spas now drawing inspiration from crazy Nepali truckers


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
Be relax.
Do relax.
Sexy, sexy, sexy.

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

Continue reading

Does Facebook intentionally limit who you can love?

Facebook Sex

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:

Continue reading

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

Facebook small

[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:

Continue reading

Sports magazines can also fail at Photoshop

stewart photoshop fail

[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:

Continue reading

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


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:

Continue reading

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


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:

Continue reading

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

nytimes campus

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:

Continue reading

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


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:

Continue reading