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Europe’s real problem with football’s anti-Semitism

Back in March, Greek “footballer” Giorgos Katidis had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday when he made the Nazi salute after kicking a winning goal.

Apparently, not every European learned the appropriate lesson from that incident (or any number of other Nazi-related incidents), as the French Nicolas Anelka followed suit yesterday with an anti-Semitic gesture of his own. Since I don’t think I’d recognize the gesture as anti-Semitic (though I recently saw an article describing it, complete with illustrations), I’ll just let a French soccer journalist describe it:

The gesture has predictably provoked outrage, but not quite of the kind one would hope. Here’s what French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron had to say about it (also via Twitter):

Continue reading Europe’s real problem with football’s anti-Semitism

Google half-heartedly declares War on Christmas

I’ve already covered Google’s war on Chanuka in some detail, but this year the company set its sights on a more popular holiday with which to do battle [be sure to note the mouse-over text, included in the screenshot below]:

Continue reading Google half-heartedly declares War on Christmas

Are you more likely to be killed in Iraq or Chicago, revisited

Back in May, the Huffington Post ran a headline that declared Iraq ‘hell’. With over 450 people killed that month alone, I thought that description was apt. But to put American gun violence in perspective, I also took the opportunity to point out that, adjusted for population, the rate of homicide in Iraq roughly mirrored the odds of being shot and killed in Chicago.

Back when I ran those numbers, Iraq was experiencing one homicide for every 73,000 citizens and Chicago was at one for every 75,000. For the mathematically-challenged among you, that meant Chicago was approximately one tick safer than Iraq.

The problem with a tick is that it is often followed by a tock and then another tick and then a big explosion. And that seems to be what’s gone on in Iraq ever since I published my article back in May. Indeed, a recent headline banner on the home page of Huffington Post declared that 2,720 people have died in Iraq since the end of April:

Continue reading Are you more likely to be killed in Iraq or Chicago, revisited

Seriously, who didn’t see this coming?

Dec. 18:

Dec. 16:

It would be nice to take credit for my sleuthing ability, but I’m fairly certain this was pretty easy to see coming.

On the other hand, my heart goes out to Washington native and now certified perp Eldo Kim, who managed to cluster bomb his own Google results with an actual bomb (threat).

So for anyone future employers wondering Where’s Eldo?, let me save you from having to run that search yourself:

Continue reading Seriously, who didn’t see this coming?

Sports magazines can also fail at Photoshop

[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 Sports magazines can also fail at Photoshop

Gut-checking American math

About ten days ago, headlines proclaimed that U.S. students are worse at math than their counterparts in Vietnam. This development hardly qualifies as surprising. But forget verifiable statistics – I’ve got anecdotes!

I couldn’t avoid learning of the storm that buried Jerusalem this week – at one point, it seemed every single photograph on my newsfeed was a mixture of snow and sandstone.

But not everyone has the same direct access Israelis through social media, so the American media has to cover it for them. And sometimes, something gets lost in translation — and I don’t mean from the Hebrew.

Here’s Newser’s account of what’s going on:

Continue reading Gut-checking American math

Tolkien’s dwarves are hardly the only Jews in The Hobbit

Last week, Bambi; this week, in honor of the release of The Desolation of Smaug, dwarves.

They’re Jewish, didn’t you know?

An article published Wednesday in the Times of Israel draws various parallels between Tolkien’s dwarves and Jews:

According to Tolkien scholar John Rateliff, author of a two-volume “Hobbit” history published in 2007, Tolkien drew inspiration from Hebrew texts and Jewish history when developing the dwarves. As craftsmen exiled from a bountiful homeland, the dwarves spoke both the language of their adopted nations and – among themselves – a Hebrew-influenced tongue developed by Tolkien.

Though Tolkien’s dwarves remember their traumatic past with mournful songs, most are assimilated and ambivalent about reclaiming Erebor, their lost country. Back at the Lonely Mountain, hidden somewhere beneath the dragon Smaug’s treasure mound, there’s a self-glowing “Arkenstone” gem, called “the heart of the mountain.”

The divinely inspired Arkenstone — say some observers — represents the Ark of the Covenant, with the Lonely Mountain standing in for Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

It’s not difficult to see somewhat further resemblance: short people, long beards, like to sing…

But I would suggest there’s one other character in The Hobbit who has at least as much in common with the Jewish people as do dwarves. Hint: he loves the money, and he has the claw:

Continue reading Tolkien’s dwarves are hardly the only Jews in The Hobbit

Whereever did these two get that idea?

From Treehugger come reports of new research into the fluid dynamics of stingray movement and its possible application to deepwater unmanned vehicles:

Researchers at University at Buffalo and Harvard University are studying stingrays to find out how their unique movement and shape allows them to glide through the water so effortlessly. The findings will be used to design more efficient and agile unmanned underwater vehicles for exploring deep sea spots or even clean up and rescue vehicles.

Genius work, guys, I’m sure this will win you a Nobel Prize. How ever did you come up with that idea?

Just kidding. Even Jar Jar Binks figured out that when it comes to underwater navigation, stingrays know what’s what:

Continue reading Whereever did these two get that idea?

Stephen Colbert dates Rob Lowe, himself

No, silly, I’m not talking about “dates” in the sense of going out. Where ever did you get the idea that Stephen Colbert is gay? I’m talking about in the sense of carbon dating. He’s apparently very good at it.

I’ve previously noted that Stephen Colbert takes product placement to a whole new level, tying the content of his show to the message of his advertisers in subtle and unexpected ways. Specifically, I once wrote about his creative use of Pavlovian conditioning in conjunction with an advertisement by Dr. Pepper.

Last night, he was at it again, in his segment “The Word – Channel Serfing“. Right before the clip began, his website ran an ad for Iams:*

Continue reading Stephen Colbert dates Rob Lowe, himself