Facebook gifts the world a brand new religion

When last I wrote about Facebook and religion, it was to note that the website seemed to be consciously restricting its users’ expressions of faith to a small number of preset choices. What you’re about to read takes this practice one step further.

I wanted to document it before it inevitably gets fixed — and also, perhaps, provide some free advice to those of my friends interested in maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the information shared on their Facebook profiles.

I was on a friend’s Facebook page — I’m supposed to be writing a memo so I was procrastinating, plus I had a good reason (I probably should have led with that last thing) — and specifically on his About page, when I noticed said weird thing. See if you can spot it:

Continue reading Facebook gifts the world a brand new religion

New York Times, is that the best you can do?

The New York Times loves to write about Washington State, and Seattle in particular. Don’t believe me? It reviewed Where’d You Go Bernadette? twice (exactly once more than I’ve written about it). It employs Tim Egan and lets him live there year-round. It recently devoted wall-to-wall coverage to just a single Seahawks game. And then there was the paper of record’s Pulitzer Prize-winning effort to document an avalanche near Stevens Pass (which I have also also written about). If you haven’t noticed for yourself, you will soon.*

But for all its fascination with the Pacific Northwest, the New York Times can certainly come off as rather tone-deaf to the sensitivities and realities of the region. Consider an article it published back in December about my current home, For ESPN, Millions to Remain in Connecticut. More particularly, consider this brief excerpt:

Continue reading New York Times, is that the best you can do?

That Malaysia Airlines search pattern sure looks familiar

I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between the recently-released map searchers are using to look for the vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 —

map plane malaysia

— and another map that made the rounds recently:

If there weren’t obvious and legitimate reasons to be looking where they are, I would say this is a classic example of the streetlight effect*: “239 people went missing – I know! Let’s look for them where all the people are!”

Continue reading That Malaysia Airlines search pattern sure looks familiar

Denmark went on a giraffe-killing spree during the Olympics. What was it thinking?

[Editor’s note: I originally pounded out a post based on roughly the same set of facts back when they appeared in actual headlines. That post got a lot of views, but suffered from the fact that it didn’t make a lot of sense. I decided to take advantage of a brief airport layover to reformulate what I had written into something more sensible. You can still check out the original post, in case you want to compare for some reason.]

Denmark has had a pretty quiet showing at the Olympic games in Sochi, amassing precisely zero medals thus far. Maybe that’s because it’s been busy taking care of some business back at home.

Giving lie to the aphorism that any publicity is good publicity, the country managed to make headlines in the world of sports for the sharpshooting talents of the Copenhagen Zookeepers:

A Danish zoo sparked outrage Sunday when it put down a healthy young giraffe . . . The fate of 18-month-old Marius shocked animal lovers around the world, with thousands signing an online petition to save him and a billionaire offering to buy him and keep him in his Beverly Hills garden.

However last-ditch efforts to spare Marius were to no avail . . . A crowd of visitors, including small children, looked on as the giraffe was put down. Some grimaced while others took photos as he was autopsied and chopped up.

In case that wasn’t enough, news soon leaked that another Danish zoo was planning to kill a second young giraffe by the name of — you guessed it — Marius. Real creative, these Danes.*

Continue reading Denmark went on a giraffe-killing spree during the Olympics. What was it thinking?

Not sure whether Frozen actually has a homosexual agenda? Maybe this will convince you

Frozen came out in November, but it’s still making headlines — thanks to little girls dragging their mothers to the theater a half dozen times and because of the ongoing controversy over its overt homosexual agenda.

But don’t take my word for it.

The latest round of headlines came when alleged Pastor Kevin Swanson blasted the movie for trying to “indoctrinate” children into becoming gay. He didn’t much elaborate on those comments, but I invite you to recall the headlines of last month — including “Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Slammed By Mormon Grandmother For ‘Gay Agenda To Normalize Homosexuality’” — for a more thorough exploration:

Continue reading Not sure whether Frozen actually has a homosexual agenda? Maybe this will convince you

How in the world did the Pentagon spend $300,000 studying Putin’s body language? I’ve got answers

Jon Stewart last night made hay with the revelation that the Pentagon has spent $300,000 studying Vladimir Putin’s body language while trying to resolve the ongoing situation in Crimea.

But how in the world did they spend all that money? Part of the answer can probably be determined by reading past the headline and checking the details of the story — that $300,000 was spent over five years, and analyzed the body language of numerous world leaders other than Putin. Imagine one low-level analyst employed full-time just to do that, and the amount begins to sound slightly less ridiculous. At least, government has come up with more absurd ways to waste money.

But I prefer a different theory. Here’s where I like to think that $300,000 for studying body language ended up:

Continue reading How in the world did the Pentagon spend $300,000 studying Putin’s body language? I’ve got answers

“Weirdest creature[] we’ve ever seen” basically vindicates Disney

Almost two years ago, Grist published a piece piggy-backing off another piece in Scientific American, alerting readers to the incontrovertible fact that “crazy living rock is one of the weirdest creatures we’ve ever seen“:

The fact that this sea creature looks exactly like a rock with guts is not even the weirdest thing about it. It’s also completely immobile like a rock — it eats by sucking in water and filtering out microorganisms — and its clear blood mysteriously secretes a rare element called vanadium. Also, it’s born male, becomes hermaphroditic at puberty, and reproduces by tossing clouds of sperm and eggs into the surrounding water and hoping they knock together. Nature, you are CRAZY.

. . .

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be looking more carefully at rocks in the future. Also possibly trees and dirt. Who knows what apparently inanimate objects might be filled with innards and holding perverse “selfing” orgies right in front of our noses? Thanks for keeping us on our toes, nature.

But can Grist really claim to be surprised by the discovery of a living rock? After all, Disney alerted us to the possibility almost twenty years ago (I am so old):

Continue reading “Weirdest creature[] we’ve ever seen” basically vindicates Disney

What that Michael Jackson paternity test can really tell us

In 1983, Michael Jackson released Billie Jean, a song in which he denied the paternity of a child born to a woman named, well, Billie Jean. Just one year beforehand, a musical acquaintance of Jackson’s — named Miki “Billy” Howard — had given birth to a son named Brandon.

Coincidence?

At the time, DNA testing was not yet available, so one way to judge paternity was just by looking. The problem, of course, was that young Brandon looked much like any other baby, and had not yet grown into the Michael Jackson clone you can see above.

Of course, now that DNA testing does exist, we get stories like the one that appeared today on E! Online, Michael Jackson Love Child? Singer Brandon Howard’s DNA Is an Alleged 99.9 Percent Match to the King of Pop:

Continue reading What that Michael Jackson paternity test can really tell us